The real US agenda in Africa is hegemony

September 21, 2022

by Pepe Escobar, first published at The Cradle and posted with the author’s permission

Forget development. Washington’s primary interest in Africa today is keeping the Chinese and Russians out.

In a rational environment, the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) would discuss alleviating the trials and tribulations of the Global South, especially Africa.

That won’t be the case. Like a deer caught in the geopolitical headlights, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued platitudes about a gloomy “winter of global discontent,” even as the proverbial imperial doomsayers criticized the UN’s “crisis of faith” and blasted the “unprovoked war” started by Russia.

Of course the slow-motion genocide of Donbass russophone residents for eight years would never be recognized as a provocation.

Guterres spoke of Afghanistan, “where the economy is in ruins and human rights are being trampled” – but he did not dare to offer context. In Libya, “divisions continue to jeopardize the country” – once again, no context. Not to mention Iraq, where “ongoing tensions threaten ongoing stability.”

Africa has 54 nations as UN members. Any truly representative UNGA meeting should place Africa’s problems at the forefront. Once again, that’s not the case. So it is left to African leaders to offer that much-needed context outside of the UN building in New York.

As the only African member of the G20, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently urged the US not to “punish” the whole continent by forcing nations to demonize or sanction Russia. Washington’s introduction of legislation dubbed the Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act, he says, “will harm Africa and marginalize the continent.”

South Africa is a BRICS member – a concept that is anathema in the Beltway – and embraces a policy of non-alignment among world powers. An emerging 21st century version of the 1960s Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is strengthening across the Global South – and especially Africa – much to the revulsion of the US and its minions.

Back at the UNGA, Guterres invoked the global fertilizer crisis – again, with no context. Russian diplomacy has repeatedly stressed that Moscow is ready to export 30 million tons of grain and over 20 million tons of fertilizer by the end of 2022. What is left unsaid in the west, is that only the importation of fertilizers to the EU is “allowed,” while transit to Africa is not.

Guterres said he was trying to persuade EU leaders to lift sanctions on Russian fertilizer exports, which directly affect cargo payments and shipping insurance. Russia’s Uralchem, for instance, even offered to supply fertilizers to Africa for free.

Yet from the point of view of the US and its EU vassals, the only thing that matters is to counter Russia and China in Africa. Senegal’s President Macky Sall has remarked how this policy is leaving “a bitter taste.”

‘We forbid you to build your pipeline’

It gets worse. The largely ineffectual EU Parliament now wants to stop the construction of the 1,445 km-long East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) from Uganda to Tanzania, invoking hazy human rights violations, environmental threats, and “advising” member countries to simply drop out of the project.

Uganda is counting on more than 6 billion barrels of oil to sustain an employment boom and finally move the nation to middle-income status. It was up to Ugandan Parliament Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa to offer much-needed context:

“It is imprudent to say that Uganda’s oil projects will exacerbate climate change, yet it is a fact that the EU block with only 10 percent of the world’s population is responsible for 25 percent of global emissions, and Africa with 20 percent of the world’s population is responsible for 3 percent of emissions. The EU and other western countries are historically responsible for climate change. Who then should stop or slow down the development of natural resources? Certainly not Africa or Uganda.”

The EU Parliament, moreover, is a staunch puppet of the biofuel lobby. It has refused to amend a law that would have stopped the use of food crops for fuel production, actually contributing to what the UN Food Program has described as “a global emergency of unprecedented magnitude.” No less than 350 million people are on the brink of starvation across Africa.

Instead, the G7’s notion of “helping” Africa is crystallized in the US-led Build Back Better World (B3W) – Washington’s anaemic attempt to counter Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – which focuses on “climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equity and equality,” according to the White House. Practical issues of infrastructure and sustainable development, which are at the heart of China’s plan, are simply ignored by the B3W.

Initially, a few “promising” projects were identified by a traveling US delegation in Senegal and Ghana. Senegalese diplomatic sources have since confirmed that these projects have nothing whatsoever to do with building infrastructure.

B3W, predictably, fizzled out. After all, the US-led project was little more than a public relations gimmick to undermine the Chinese, with negligible effect on narrowing the $40-plus trillion worth of infrastructure needed to be built across the Global South by 2035.

Have YALI, will travel

Imperial initiatives in Africa – apart from the US military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM), which amounts to raw militarization of the continent – brings us to the curious case of YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative), widely touted in the Washington-New York axis as “the most innovative” policy of the Obama years.

Launched in 2010, YALI was framed as “empowering the new generation of Africa leadership” – a euphemism for educating (or brainwashing) them the American way. The mechanism is simple: investing in and bringing hundreds of young African potential leaders to US universities for a short, six-week “training” on “business, civil leadership, entrepreneurship, and public management.” Then, four days in Washington to meet “leaders in the administration,” and a photo op with Obama.

The project was coordinated by US embassies in Africa, and targeted young men and women from sub-Saharan Africa’s 49 nations – including those under US sanctions, like Sudan, Eritrea, and Zimbabwe – proficient in English, with a “commitment” to return to Africa. Roughly 80 percent during the initial years had never been to the US, and more than 50 percent grew up outside of big cities.

Then, in a speech in 2013 in South Africa, Obama announced the establishment of the Washington Fellowship, later renamed the Mandela-Washington Fellowship (MWF).

That’s still ongoing. In 2022, MWF should be granted to 700 “outstanding young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa,” who follow “Leadership Institutes” at nearly 40 US universities, before their short stint in Washington. After which, they are ready for “long-term engagement between the United States and Africa.”

And all that for literally peanuts, as MWF was enthusiastically billed by the Democrat establishment as cost-efficient: $24,000 per fellow, paid by participant US universities as well as Coca-Cola, IBM, MasterCard Foundation, Microsoft, Intel, McKinsey, GE, and Procter & Gamble.

And that didn’t stop with MWF. USAID went a step further, and invested over $38 million – plus $10 million from the MasterCard Foundation – to set up four Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs) in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Senegal. These were training, long distance and in-class, at least 3,500 ‘future leaders’ a year.

It’s no wonder the Brookings Institution was drooling over so much “cost-efficiency” when it comes to investing “in Africa’s future” and for the US to “stay competitive” in Africa. YALI certainly looks prettier than AFRICOM.

A few success stories though don’t seem to rival the steady stream of African footballers making a splash in Europe – and then reinvesting most of their profits back home. The Trump years did see a reduction of YALI’s funding – from $19 million in 2017 to roughly $5 million.

So many leaders to ‘train’

Predictably, the Joe Biden White House YALI-ed all over again with a vengeance. Take this US press attache in Nigeria neatly outlining the current emphasis on “media and information literacy,” badly needed to tackle the “spreading of disinformation” including “in the months leading up to the national presidential election.”

So the US, under YALI, “trained 1,000 young Nigerians to recognize the signs of online and media misinformation and disinformation.” And now the follow-up is “Train the Trainer” workshops, “teaching 40 journalists, content creators, and activists (half of whom will be women) from Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Zamfara, and Katsina how to identify, investigate, and report misinformation.” Facebook, being ordered by the FBI to censor “inconvenient,” potentially election-altering facts, is not part of the curriculum.

YALI is the soft, Instagrammed face of AFRICOM. The US has participated in the overthrow of several African governments over the past two decades, with troops trained under secrecy-obsessed AFRICOM. There has been no serious Pentagon audit on the weaponizing of AFRICOM’s local “partners.” For all we know – as in Syria and Libya – the US military could be arming even more terrorists.

And predictably, it’s all bipartisan. Rabid neo-con and former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, in December 2018, at the Heritage Foundation, made it crystal clear: the US in Africa has nothing to do with supporting democracy and sustainable development. It’s all about countering Russia and China.

When it learned that Beijing was considering building a naval base in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, the Biden White House sent power envoys to the capital Malabo to convince the government to cease and desist. To no avail.

In contrast, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was received like a superstar in his recent extensive tour of Africa, where it’s widely perceived that global food prices and the fertilizer drama are a direct consequence of western sanctions on Russia. Uganda leader Yoweri Museveni went straight to the point when he said, “How can we be against somebody who has never harmed us?”

On 13-15 December, the White House plans a major US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington to discuss mostly food security and climate change – alongside the perennial lectures on democracy and human rights. Most leaders won’t be exactly impressed with this new showing of “the United States’ enduring commitment to Africa.” Well, there’s always YALI. So many young leaders to indoctrinate, so little time.

Macron Insulted Africans’ Intelligence by Claiming That Multipolar Powers Manipulate Them

Global Research, August 29, 2022

By Andrew Korybko

Region: Europesub-Saharan Africa

Theme: Intelligence

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The shameless ethno-nationalist supremacy associated with his hateful remark will result in Africans doubling down on their anti-imperialist and Pan-Africanism activism since no self-respecting person would ever capitulate in the face of such blatantly racist pressure and thus voluntarily submit themselves to being dominated by their abuser.

French President Macron claimed during his latest trip to Algeria that “Many of the (information) networks that are covertly pushed (in Africa) – … by Turkey… by Russia… by China – have an enemy: France.” This was a supreme insult to all Africans’ intelligence since it channeled the discredited racist trope that they’re supposedly so stupid as to be easily manipulated by multipolar powers. Instead of acknowledging the genuinely grassroots and politically legitimate reasons why many Africans are actively rebelling against French influence in its self-proclaimed “sphere of influence” in so-called “Françafrique” like Turkiye’s Foreign Ministry suggested that he do, Macron chose to once again spew unsubstantiated smears similar in spirit to those malicious ones that it earlier made against Mali.

The reality is that the global systemic transition to multipolarity that unprecedentedly accelerated since the latest US-provoked phase of the Ukrainian Conflict has served to inspire the entire BRICS-led Global South to push back against the US-led West’s Golden Billion at this pivotal moment in the New Cold War between those two polar opposite models of socio-economic and political development. Moreover, many Africans felt emboldened to further intensify their efforts after President Putin unveiled his global revolutionary manifesto in late July that was followed shortly thereafter by Foreign Minister Lavrov pledging that Russia will help Africa fully complete its decolonization processes ahead of his successful trip to the continent.

Video: Freedom Convoy Solidarity in Alberta. Agreement with RCMP

Africa’s Role In The New Cold War” is destined to be that of a major battleground between the Golden Billion and the Global South precisely because its people refuse to be subjugated any longer by the former after having ruthlessly been exploited by them for half a millennium. France, which is among the most powerful of the Golden Billion’s hegemons in Africa and even surpasses the US’ influence in some parts of the continent, isn’t even hiding its neo-colonial intentions anymore after Macron ripped off his mask and started insulting Africans’ intelligence in the extremely racist way that he just did. The so-called “battle for hearts and minds” has already been won by the Global South’s multipolar Great Powers like Russia and China, who are helping to liberate all African countries with no strings attached.

They’d never dare disrespect their partners, let alone in the crude way that Macron just did, especially because they themselves have been victimized by similar forms of verbal abuse. Africans are well aware not only of those two and others’ proud anti-colonial histories, but also of just how sincerely they respect all others in contrast to the behavior exemplified by Western leaders like the French one and his peers. Macron’s racist insult of all Africans’ intelligence isn’t just rude, but also suggests that the Golden Billion is done “playing nice” after having abandoned all pretenses of their faux “politeness” that they unconvincingly attempted to practice in the past. As Western “thought leaders” never tire of reminding everyone, “might makes right” in their eyes, hence why they’re now sowing chaos across Africa.

This isn’t speculation either but documented fact after Mali recently accused France of supporting those Al Qaeda-connected terrorists that declared war on its Russian partner in late June and then the joint US- and Egyptian-led but TPLF-driven Hybrid War of Terror on Ethiopia resumed shortly thereafter on the other side of the continent. In fact, that second-mentioned conflict that first went hot in November 2020 after years of multilateral planning can be seen in hindsight as the new template that the West and its regional vassals like Egypt are employing since it was hatched as punishment for Ethiopia’s principled neutrality in the New Cold War between the US-led West’s Golden Billion and the BRICS-led Global South. It therefore follows that similarly multipolar states like Mali and others will be punished too.

Macron made a major mistake though by letting his mask slip after spewing his racist innuendo about Africans supposedly lacking the intelligence to not be manipulated by foreign powers. The shameless ethno-nationalist supremacy associated with his hateful remark will result in Africans doubling down on their anti-imperialist and Pan-Africanism activism since no self-respecting person would ever capitulate in the face of such blatantly racist pressure and thus voluntarily submit themselves to being dominated by their abuser. Far from helping the Golden Billion’s hegemonic cause like his twisted mind imagined that his crude insult would supposedly do, the French leader’s public embrace of racist tropes against Africans will only serve to accelerate the decline of the US-led West’s hegemony over that continent.

*

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

He is a regular contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from OneWorld

The original source of this article is Global Research

Copyright © Andrew Korybko, Global Research, 2022


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Iranian FM visits Mali days after French withdrawal

Malian officials praised Iran for providing aid that ‘does not seek superiority, and seeks the interests of Africans’

August 24 2022

(Photo credit: Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

ByNews Desk- 

On 23 August, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian travelled to Mali to meet with interim President Colonel Assimi Goïta, one week after France withdrew the last of its troops from the African state.

Amir-Abdollahian expressed Tehran’s determination to develop cooperation with Bamako and praised the nation’s struggles against terror groups, highlighting Iran’s experience in the successful fight against ISIS in West Asia.

Western military troops have been operating in Mali – a former French colony – since 2013, allegedly to assist in defeating terrorism. But as terror acts steadily increased over the past decade, Malians have slammed the foreign military intervention and labelled the presence of French troops as an “occupation.”

In a previous letter to the UN Security Council president, Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop accused France of supporting terrorists in his country.

“These flagrant violations of Malian airspace were used by France to collect information for terrorist groups operating in the Sahel and to drop arms and ammunition to them,” the letter charged.

In the meeting to boost bilateral relations between Iran and Mali, Goïta emphasized his nation’s readiness to host Iranian industrialists and entrepreneurs.

Earlier in the day, Iran’s top diplomat took part in the first Iran-Mali joint economic commission with his Malian counterpart, Diop.

After unveiling special plans to promote economic cooperation with the West African nation, Amir-Abdollahian took aim at the “failure” of western sanctions imposed on sovereign nations.

“The west’s nonsensical sanctions policy has failed, and nations will move forward with perseverance, stability, and self-confidence,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

He also called on Malian authorities to take advantage of Tehran’s accumulated experience in the field of countering western sanctions.

“Iran attaches great importance to the development of relations with the important and beautiful African continent. The new Iranian government of President [Ebrahim] Raisi places special emphasis on prioritizing the relationship with Africa, especially with a historical and civilized country like the Republic of Mali,” the Iranian foreign minister affirmed.

For his part, the Malian foreign minister praised Raisi’s commitment to Africa.

“Many countries are interested in Africa for their own interests, but Iran’s choice is different. Iran’s choice is not for political purposes and does not seek superiority, and seeks the interests of Africans,” Diop said.

At the conclusion of their meeting, Amir-Abdollahian announced that the Islamic Republic would donate one million doses of its homemade COVID-19 vaccine to Mali.

Leading a high-ranking economic delegation on a tour of Africa, Amir-Abdollahian is next set to visit Tanzania and Zanzibar.

The Real Global Agenda Pushing for War with China

August 02, 2022

Source

By Cynthia Chung

“We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

  • Henry John Temple, aka Lord Palmerston (Britain’s Prime Minister from 1855-1858, 1859-1865), oversaw Britain’s First Opium War (1839-1842) as Head of Britain’s Foreign Office and the Second Opium War (1856-1860) as Britain’s Prime Minister against China.

Snow is Now Black

Bertrand Russell discussed in his book “The Impact of Science on Society” (1952) that the subject which “will be of most importance politically is mass psychology,” that is, the lens in which an individual views “reality” and “truth.” Russell is very clear, such “convictions” are not generated by the individual themselves but rather are to be shaped by the State.

Of course, individuals are not encouraged to think about an absolute truth or reality, rather they are encouraged to think on a much smaller scale, on individual “facts,” for this is much easier to control and shape and also limits “problematic” thinking such as the ponderance on purpose and intention.

Russell, in his “Impact of Science on Society,” goes on to talk about how one could program a society to think snow is black rather than white:

First, that the influence of home is obstructive. Second, that not much can be done unless indoctrination begins before the age of ten. Third, that verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective. Fourth, that the opinion that snow is white must be held to show a morbid taste for eccentricity. But I anticipate. It is for future scientists to make these maxims precise and discover exactly how much it costs per head to make children believe that snow is black, and how much less it would cost to make them believe it is dark gray.”

This is of course a program for the most ambitious “reframing” of “reality”. However, as we see today, we do not need to start before the age of ten for other sorts of “reframing,” and nowhere does this seem to be the most successful and effective with any age group than the West’s “foreign” policy.

For snow is something that we see and experience regularly. It is much more difficult to “reframe” something familiar, however, something that is “foreign” has always been a rather blurred and undefined concept for millennia, and thus is a much easier candidate for the State to “reframe” as our collective “reality,” our collective “existential fear.”

Thus, for most of history, our understanding of who is our “friend” and who is our “foe” has rarely been determined by the people themselves but rather their governing structure.

Such a governing structure is free to determine for us what is “truth” vs. “falsehood” what is “fact” vs. “fiction,” because the people, despite all the abuse and exploitation from such a governing force still look to this very thing to protect and shield them from the frightful “unknown.”

People have become accustomed to thinking “Better the Devil you know.” In this paper we will see if that is indeed the case or not.

[This is Part 2 of a two-part series. For Part 1 refer here.]

“Our Interests are Eternal and Perpetual”

It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.”

  • Buddha

Before I get into the geopolitical situation of today and attempt to address this question of what the global agenda behind pushing for war with China is, I would like to share a brief overview of some very important history, for I assure you, this plays a prominent role in what is shaping today’s dynamics.

For the sake of brevity, the story starts with the First Opium War (1839-42).

In short, the British Empire had made a move towards a free trade system in the 1840s, modelled on Adam Smith’s ‘A Wealth of Nations’. In this new system of trade it was believed that if there is a demand for a product, a country has no right to intervene in its transaction. Protectionism, which had been practiced by Britain up until that point, had now been deemed an unfit practice by…Britain, and all other countries were naturally to follow along according to the “new rules” chosen for them.

Britain, however, would grant itself to be the sole country permitted to continue the practice of protectionism while it enforced its “free” trade on others.

In the case of China, the trade of opium was ultimately banned by the Chinese, and severe punishments were to be delivered to those involved in smuggling the product into the country, which included British merchants. The British Empire considered this a direct threat to its ‘security’ and its new enforcement of free trade. Thus, when China did not back down, the First Opium War (1839-1842) was waged. The result was the forced signing of the Nanking Treaty in 1842.

This treaty, known as the first of the “unequal treaties”, ceded the territory of Hong Kong to Britain and allowed British merchants to not only trade at Guangzhou but were now also permitted to trade with five additional “treaty ports” and with whomever they pleased.

Created in 1600 with a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I, the East India Company was from its inception indistinguishable from the British Empire itself, rising to account for half of the world’s trade. As is aptly said by Lord Macaulay in his speech to the House of Commons in July 1833, since the beginning, the East India Company had always been involved in both trade and politics, just as its French and Dutch counterparts had been.

In other words, the East India Company was to facilitate the geopolitical chess game that the British Empire wished to see played out. Not only the trade contracts it received but whole colonised territories won by the British Empire were handed over to this company to manage, along with a large sized private military, all under the decree of the Crown. This would be most evidently seen in the freedom it was given to control opium production in British India and to then facilitate its trade within Hong Kong and other colonised parts of Southeast Asia.

China was deemed uncooperative to the conditions signed under the Nanking Treaty and a Second Opium war was declared on them by the British Empire, lasting from 1856-60. [There is an excellent Chinese movie called “The Opium War” that goes over this story, you can watch it for free here.]

The British (with French assistance) defeated the Chinese defenses after a four-year war. China, an ancient civilization with an advanced society both culturally and scientifically was forced to be entirely beholden to British foreign policy and its enforced free trade of opium.

On the 18th of October 1860, the British burned down the Summer Palace, also known as Yuanmingyuan (Gardens of Perfect Brightness), the French apparently refused to assist. The razing of the building took two days.

When the war was won, British and French troops (and mercenaries) looted and destroyed many artifacts, many of which remain abroad, scattered throughout the world in 47 museums[1]. An ongoing reminder of their spoils from the Opium Wars. How ironic that so many enjoy gazing upon such works of beauty and forget the horror that was committed in attaining them.

A British-friendly bank needed to be created to facilitate trade in the region, connecting the Empire’s newly acquired treasures Shanghai and Hong Kong with its British India (the major world producer of opium) along with the rest of the British Empire and Europe. HSBC was founded in 1865 for this purpose, that continues to this day.

This bank was not only meant to facilitate foreign trade within China in whichever way it deemed fit, but in addition was created namely to trade in the product of opium. It is important to note that although the founder of HSBC is credited as Thomas Sutherland of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, a Scottish merchant who wanted the bank to operate under “sound Scottish banking principles”, the bank had been created from the start to facilitate crooked trade on behalf of the British Empire.

China refers to this period as its “Century of Humiliation,” also known as the “hundred years of national humiliation,” describing the period from 1839 to 1949.

What happened in 1949?

The Chinese had fought a 22 year long civil war (Aug 1927-1949), which overlapped the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) where the Chinese also fought against Japanese fascists for their very existence. The Japanese fascists wanted to ethnically cleanse China, as well as the entire eastern coastline of Asia. Ho Chi Minh led the valiant fight against the Japanese fascists in Vietnam. The Japanese fascists committed the most brutal genocide, perhaps in all of history, known as the Asian holocaust and to which westerners often are completely unaware (for more on this refer here and here).

The most notorious of these was the Nanjing Massacre, or the Rape of Nanjing, starting on the 13th of December 1937 and lasting for six weeks. It is estimated that over 300,000 were massacred and over 80,000 brutally raped and tortured.

The Chinese heroically fought back the Japanese fascists and kept their country intact by the end of WWII. Though many European countries did not even last a week against invasion by the German Nazis, China had resisted a Japanese take-over for eight years, while fighting a civil war. There is certainly not even remotely close to enough respect given to the Chinese people for this incredible and heroic accomplishment.

On October 1st, 1949, the Chinese Communists led by Mao Zedong won the civil war against Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang army and Mao declared the creation of the People’s Republic of China. This is a complicated history that is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss in satisfactory detail, however, I will make a few points.

Sun Yat-sen, of whom I speak in more detail in Part 1, was instrumental in China’s Revolution against the corrupt Qing dynasty. He also received training in Hawaii and became an adherent to the American System of economics (for more on this refer to Part 1.) He was Christian but he was also Confucian, seeing no contradiction in their true teachings.

Because of Sun Yat-sen’s leadership, China won its revolution against the Qing dynasty in 1911. Sun became President of the Republic of China in 1912 but voluntarily stepped down (in order to maintain the peace) to Yuan Shikai. Yuan Shikai was a warlord and was a greedy puppet to British interests. Sun had no choice but to step down because he understood that if he failed to do so, Britain would militarily intervene.

China had won its revolution but was still beholden to Britain’s dominion.

Sun Yat-sen was no fool and understood the situation with clarity. China’s problem with Britain, was the same problem the colonies of the United States faced almost 150 years earlier.

Sun Yat-sen writes in his book “The Vital Problem of China,” published in 1917:

Text Description automatically generated

In another section of the same book, Sun Yat-sen writes:

Text Description automatically generated

And lastly:

Reference for the images with quotes: https://risingtidefoundation.net/immortal-quotes/

It looks like Sun Yat-sen was very clear in his understanding of what was China’s “vital problem.”

Sun Yat-sen is known as the Father of the Republic of China. It was Sun Yat-sen who founded the Kuomintang and Chiang Kai-shek was Sun’s selection for next in line. During this time, many subsequent members of the Chinese Communist Party were originally members of the Kuomintang, such as Zhou Enlai (who was later instrumental in the formation of the Five Principles for Peaceful Co-Existence and a vital participant in the Bandung Conference, see Part 1).

Sun Yat-sen died in 1925 and China’s civil war broke out two years later. It is my belief that if Sun had remained alive longer, China would have never fallen into a civil war.

As the civil war broke out, Madame Sun Yat-sen (Rosamond Soong Ch’ing-ling) who was an extremely intelligent Chinese political figure in her own right, after some delay, picks in favour of the Communist Party of China. Chiang was no longer the man Sun once thought able to lead the Chinese people. Madame Sun Yat-sen’s sister who married Chiang was also politically astute and continued to back her husband.

This decision of Madame Sun Yat-sen, regarded as the true living embodiment of the philosophy and teachings of Sun Yat-sen, was treated by most, as if Sun himself had spoken to the Chinese people.

This caused an alignment with numerous other Chinese political parties and institutions to side with the Communist Party against the Kuomintang, which at that point was regarded as being in bed with foreign interests (British and American) and that Chiang was more concerned with keeping his power and influence than on the actual fate of China.

[Madame Sun Yat-sen held several prominent positions within the People’s Republic of China from 1949 on. For more on this refer here.]

Numerous times during WWII, there had been a call to unite both sides in order to focus on defeating the Japanese fascists, however, Chiang always essentially refused. Chiang wanted to use the Japanese fascists against the Communist Party in order to win the civil war. There was also the unsettling question of whether Chiang was starting to view Japanese totalitarianism as a model for governance.

Taiwan, which is an island just 100 miles from China’s mainland, has a history that goes back for many thousands of years. From the late 13th century on, Chinese people gradually came into contact with Taiwan and started settling there. By the late 17th century, Taiwan became increasingly integrated into China, with mostly Chinese people living there (the indigenous population still lives in Taiwan to this day).

When Chiang lost the civil war, he retreated to the island of Taiwan, which was at that point considered part of China and was inhabited by mostly Chinese people. Chiang continued to call himself the only true representative of the teachings of Sun Yat-sen and the only true leader of the Republic of China, even though, Madame Sun Yat-sen refused to recognise his legitimacy as well as the majority of those living in China.

Chiang ruled Taiwan, essentially under a dictatorship, from 1943 to the year he died in 1975.

The balkanization of China and the extermination of her people was a very real threat that China not only survived during this period but fought back with remarkable fortitude and courage. Those who are responsible for saving China are rightly seen as heroes in the eyes of the Chinese, and we would be foolish in under-estimating the will and courage of the Chinese people after such displays of valor (for more stories of China’s valor refer here and here).

Thus, the year 1949 was to mark the end of China’s “Century of Humiliation.”

The City of London

“Hell is a city much like London.”

– Percy Bysshe Shelley

Over and over again we have seen that there is another power than that which has its seat at Westminster. The City of London, a convenient term for a collection of financial interests, is able to assert itself against the government of the country. Those who control money can pursue a policy at home and abroad contrary to that which is being decided by the people.”

  • Clement Attlee, UK Prime Minister (1945-1951) and political opponent of Churchill.

The City of London is over 800 years old. It is arguably older than England herself, and for over 400 years it has been the financial center of the world.

During the medieval period, the City of London, otherwise known as the Square Mile or simply the City, was divided into 25 ancient wards headed each by an alderman. This continues today.

In addition, there existed the ominously titled City of London Corporation, or simply the Corporation, which is the municipal governing body of the City. This also still continues today.

Though the Corporation’s origins cannot be specifically dated, since there was never a “surviving” charter found establishing its “legal” basis, it has kept its functions to this day based on the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta is a charter of rights agreed to by King John in 1215, which states that “the City of London shall have/enjoy its ancient liberties”. In other words, the legal function of the Corporation has never been questioned, reviewed, re-evaluated EVER but rather it has been left to legally function as in accordance with their “ancient liberties”, which is a very grey description of function if you ask me. In other words, they are free to do as they deem fit.

Therefore, the question is, if the City of London has kept its “ancient liberties” and has upheld its global financial power, is the British Empire truly gone?

Contrary to popular naïve belief, the empire on which the sun never sets (some say “because God wouldn’t trust them in the dark”) never went away.

After WWII, colonisation was meant to be done away with, and many thought, so too with the British Empire. Countries were reclaiming their sovereignty, governments were being set up by the people, the system of looting and pillaging had come to an end.

It is a nice story, but could not be further from the truth.

In the 1950s, to “adapt” to the changing global financial climate, the City of London set up what are called “secrecy jurisdictions”. These were to operate within the last remnants of Britain’s small territories/colonies. Of Britain’s 14 oversea territories, 7 are bona fide tax havens or “secrecy jurisdictions”. A separate international financial market was also created to facilitate the flow of this offshore money, the Eurodollar market. Since this market has its banks outside of the UK and U.S., they are not under the jurisdiction of either country.

By 1997, nearly 90% of all international loans were made through this market[2].

John Christensen, an investigative economist, estimates that this capital that legally belongs to nobody could amount to as high as $50 trillion within these British territories. Not only is this not being taxed, but a significant portion of it has been stolen from sectors of the real economy.

So how does this affect “formerly” colonised countries?

According to John Christensen, the combined external debts of Sub-Saharan African countries was $177 billion in 2008. However, the wealth that these countries’ elites moved offshore, between 1970-2008, is estimated at $944 billion, 5X their foreign debt. This is not only dirty money, this is also STOLEN money from the resources and productivity of these countries’ economies.

Thus, as Christensen states, “far from being a net debtor to the world, Sub-Saharan Africa is a net creditor” to offshore finance.

Put in this context, the so-called “backwardness” of Africa is not due to its incapability to produce, but rather that it has been experiencing uninterrupted looting since these regions were first colonised.

These African countries then need to borrow money, which is happily given to them at high interest rates and accrues a level of debt that could never be repaid. These countries are thus looted twice over, leaving no money left to invest in their future, let alone to put food on the table.

And it doesn’t stop there. Worldwide, it is estimated that developing countries lose $1 trillion every year in capital flight and tax evasion. Most of this wealth goes back into the UK and U.S. through these offshore havens, and allows their currencies to stay strong whilst developing nations’ currencies are kept weak.

However, developing nations are not the only ones to have suffered from this system of looting. The very economies of the UK and U.S. have also been gutted. In the 1960s and onward, the UK and U.S., to compensate for the increase in money flow out of their countries decided that it was a good idea to open their domestic markets to the trillions of dollars passing through its offshore havens.

However, such banks are not interested in putting their money into industry and manufacturing. They put their money into real estate speculation, financial speculation and foreign currency trade. And thus, the financialization of British and American economies resulted, and the real jobs coming from the real economy decreased or disappeared.

Although many economists try to claim differently, the desperation has boiled over. We have reached a point now where every western first world country is struggling with a much higher unemployment rate and a significantly lower standard of living than 40 years ago. Along with increased poverty has followed increased drug use, increased suicide and increased crime (for more on the sin City of London refer here, and on Britain’s opium bank HSBC refer here).

Now, we are ready to look at today’s global agenda behind the push for war with China.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative Put Into Perspective

BRI seeks to back an array of projects, but to date, the vast majority of funds has been allocated toward traditional infrastructure—energy, roads, railways, and ports. Though principally aimed at developing countries, with Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka among the largest recipients of BRI funds, BRI also includes developed countries, with numerous U.S. allies participating. If these U.S. allies were to turn to BRI to build critical infrastructure, such as power grids, ports, or telecommunications networks, this could complicate U.S. contingency planning and make coming to the defense of its allies more difficult.”

The Council on Foreign Relations, a major shaper of U.S. foreign policy, has made it clear in its numerous reports that it regards it as the duty of the United States government to counter China’s economic relationship and partnership with every country in the global sphere.

It should be noted that the Council on Foreign Relations is the American branch of the Royal Institute for International Affairs (aka: Chatham House) based in London, England. It should also be noted that Chatham House itself was created by the Round Table Movement during the Treaty of Versailles Conference in 1919.

Thus, deterrence to all American “allies” in forming partnerships with China has also been heavily enforced.

Why are China’s international relations seen as a threat to U.S. national security? The short answer to this is competition, and the slightly longer answer is that China is forming an alliance of countries against the economic strait jacket that was first imposed by the British Empire under its free trade doctrine and which is enforced today in the interests of the Anglo-American Empire.

In 2014, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) launched the China Africa Research Initiative (CARI), based in Washington, DC. In June 2020, SAIS-CARI published a report titled “Debt Relief with Chinese Characteristics.”

I would like to share of few lines from this report, which begins with:

In December 2019, a Zambian economist commented: ‘Chinese debt can easily be renegotiated, restructured, or refinanced.’ Is this true?

In this working paper, we draw on data from the China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) to review evidence on China’s debt cancellation and restructuring in Africa, in comparative and historical perspective. Cases from Sri Lanka, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Angola, and the Republic of Congo, among others, point to debt relief patterns with distinctly Chinese characteristics. In nearly all cases, China has only offered debt write-offs for zero-interest loans. Our study found that between 2000 and 2019, China has cancelled at least US$3.4 billion of debt in Africa. There is no ‘China, Inc’…We found that China has restructured or refinanced approximately US$ 15 billion of debt in Africa between 2000 and 2019. We found no ‘asset seizures’ and despite contract clauses requiring arbitration, no evidence of the use of courts to enforce payments, or application of penalty interest rates.”

It continues:

During the debt crisis of the late 20th century, we saw that many sovereign borrowers simply did not service the interest-free loans lent by the Chinese government. Because the interest-free loan program was diplomatic in nature, a core part of China’s foreign aid, pressing hard for loan repayment was simply not done. As of 2019, with a much wider variety of loans in play—many commercial–rescheduling is no longer so easy, although it is happening. Beijing’s main tool to press for payments when a country goes into arrears is to suspend disbursements on projects currently being implemented (which slows their completion but also hurts Chinese contractors), and to withhold approval of new loans.

… A committee led by China’s Ministry of Finance (which has overall authority for debt relief), with delegates from MOFCOM, China’s Exim Bank, and China Development Bank will approve or reject the debt cancellation request. ‘The Chinese government will see how the money was used. They will consider this thoughtfully. They will refuse applications from some whose economy is doing well’ a Chinese official told one of the authors.”

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The SAIS-CARI report concludes:

Chinese debt relief for Africa has been going on for many decades, following the ups and downs Africa’s economic recessions, recoveries, and booms… As Zhou Yuyuan, a researcher with the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, noted in a recent article: ‘the cost for violating the contract is actually quite low for the borrowers.’ Furthermore, Beijing is concerned with its international reputation and its long term political and diplomatic relationship with individual countries. In addition, Chinese contractors, who usually advance their own money to get a project launched before being reimbursed through Chinese bank disbursements, suffer from project suspensions. Although loan contracts provide for arbitration in case of default, there is no evidence that Chinese banks have ever used this option, or that a judgment could actually be enforced, were it to be in their favor. We also see no evidence of penalty interest rates.

…We started this paper with a quote from a Zambian economist. A fuller version of that quote is:

It’s the US$ 3 billion worth of eurobonds that are the problem, not the Chinese loans…with eurobonds, you don’t play around when the payments are due. Chinese debt can easily be renegotiated, restructured or refinanced’.

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According to the Jubilee Debt Campaign in 2017, China owned 24%, the IMF and World Bank owned 20%, the Paris Club 10%, the private sector 32%, and other multilateral institutions 15% of Africa’s debt.

The Center for International Policy’s “Africa Program,” based in Washington DC, tracks and analyzes U.S. foreign policy toward the nations of Africa. Interestingly they conclude:

As a debt crisis looms, there has been a growing demand from various advocacy groups for debt cancellation and the issuance of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) from the IMF. According to the Advocacy Network for Africa (AdNA), the SDRs are the IMF’s reserve currency that could ‘enable countries to boost reserves and stabilize economies, helping minimize other economic losses, without any cost to the U.S. government.’ Although SDRs offer African countries a lifeline, the U.S. has yet to support the initiative, adding yet another hurdle in their attempt to break free from their debt trap. In addition to advocating for SDRs, organizations like the Jubilee Debt Campaign (JDC) are also urging the IMF to sell its stockpile of gold to cancel the debt of the poorest countries. According to JDC, the profit from selling less than 7% of IMF’s gold (worth $11.8 billion), ‘would be enough to pay for cancelling all debt payments by the 73 countries eligible for the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the next 15 months’ and ‘would still leave the IMF with $26 billion more gold than the institution held at the start of 2020.

The efforts of debt-cancellation advocates seem to continue to fall on deaf ears, as the IMF and the World bank refuse to make any move towards cancelling the debt of African countries. The Bank’s hypocrisy is observed in the fact that it continues to pressure China, Africa’s largest creditor, to cancel its debt to poor countries while itself has yet to cancel the debt it is owed.”

China is Africa’s largest creditor, it is also Africa’s largest debt canceller and is the most flexible in its renegotiation of debt and does not penalise through interest rates as we saw with the Johns Hopkins report. As the Center for International Policy confirms, it is in fact the IMF and World Bank loans, who refuse to be flexible in repayment of these debts. It is they who refuse to make any significant cancellation of debt owed to them by Africa, and who maintain these loans at exorbitant interest rates, which are behind the debt problem in Africa.

In addition, contrary to the enforced conditionalities that come from IMF and World Bank loans that discourage essential infrastructure like electrical grids (Africa has been kept dark for decades), China is actually building infrastructure in Africa to the admitted dismay of the Council on Foreign Relations!

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This is what President Putin was referring to in a speech from 2018 to light up Africa.

In 2019, Reuters reported that the United States’ top African diplomat warned that African countries running up debt they won’t be able to pay back, should not expect to be bailed out by western-sponsored debt relief.

“We went through, just in the last 20 years, this big debt forgiveness for a lot of African countries,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa for African Affairs Tibor Nagy, referring to the somewhat condescendingly named HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) program, started by the IMF and World Bank in 1996 as a nice window dressing.

“Now all of a sudden are we going to go through another cycle of that? … I certainly would not be sympathetic, and I don’t think my administration would be sympathetic to that kind of situation,” he told reporters in Pretoria, South Africa.

Hmmm, imagine if a Chinese diplomat were to have said that, how it would have been viewed by the west, but apparently when a westerner says it, it is somehow not exploitive and predatory…

Let us look at another example. What about Sri Lanka’s debt crisis, surely China is to blame like we have all been told repeatedly?

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This is a graph included within an article by the German news press DW. As we can see, China owns only 10% of Sri Lanka’s debt. The Asian Development Bank owns 13% but don’t be fooled by its name, it is modeled off of the World Bank and has only held Japanese presidents on its board. Japan is beholden to the west’s diktat in all of its foreign financial affairs.

So, who owns this 47% market borrowings share of Sri Lanka’s foreign debt? Well, according to NIKKEI Asia, the world’s largest financial newspaper based in Tokyo, Japan:

By the end of 2020, a year into Gotabaya’s term, the country’s foreign debt was $38.6 billion, accounting for 47.6% of the central government’s total debt, according to the IMF. International sovereign bonds made up the largest share, at $14 billion, followed by $8.8 billion in loans from multilateral lenders and $6.2 billion in bilateral debts. The top 20 ISB [International Sovereign Bonds] holders included BlackRock, Allianz, UBS, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase and Prudential, according to Advocata Institute, a Colombo-based think tank.”

It is here that we start to see the truth behind such graphs that hide behind vague titles such as the “private sector,” “other multilateral institutions” or “market borrowings”. These are predominantly British and American banks and investment firms who are extending loans at exorbitant interest rates. Why are the names of these institutions not even mentioned, conveniently hidden behind such generic and seemingly benign labels?

We also see the outright slander and lying that is occurring against China in being blamed for Sri Lanka’s debt crisis. How can such an accusation be justified if China owns only 10% of Sri Lanka’s debt?!

Once again, we see, it is not China that is responsible for the economic mayhem that is occurring today in Sri Lanka (formerly the British colony Ceylon, and who was a significant organiser of the Bandung Conference). In fact, there is great reason to believe that the National Endowment for Democracy is behind much of the chaos in Sri Lanka (refer here for more).

What about the IMF? They do not seem to be hardly mentioned in these debt trap charts, they don’t seem too bad right?

You may be surprised, that the example I am about to give of an IMF economic horror story is not located in either Africa or Asia, but rather in Europe.

Ukraine today is a tragic story on multiple levels.

Ukraine used to be among the richest countries in Eastern Europe, known as “the breadbasket of Europe.” However, this economic fact is harder and harder to come by since Ukraine was a part of the USSR when their economy was at its peak. A most inconvenient truth. It is for this reason that you will be hard pressed to find any GDP graph of Ukraine that begins earlier than 1991, the date of their independence from the USSR. From 1991 to 1997, Ukraine lost 60% of their GDP[3] and suffered five-digit inflation rates.[4] Who was Ukraine beholden to during this massive recession that has never really ended for Ukrainians? The International Monetary Fund (IMF).

During the EU Deal dispute that was used to trigger the Ukrainian protests, it has since been discovered that part of the conditions of this “deal,” which was strong-armed by the IMF, was the demand that a significant rise in utility rates (first and foremost electricity and gas) be implemented while the income of Ukrainians stayed the same.

The Ukrainian people had no idea. The very deal they were fighting and dying for was to directly benefit corrupt gas companies such as Burisma Holdings and their foreign shareholders, to the economic detriment of the Ukrainian people. A similar situation to what most of Europe is facing today under a plethora of glorious “EU Deals” in the midst of an energy crisis.

It turns out much that was behind the youth protests in Ukraine was funded by not only the American government directly, but also by the National Endowment for Democracy, the American department of color revolutions.

Jeremy Kuzmarov for Covert Action Magazine writes in an article titled “National Endowment for Democracy Deletes Records of Funding Projects in Ukraine”:

“The National Endowment for Democracy (NED)—a CIA offshoot founded in the early 1980s to advance ‘democracy promotion’ initiatives around the world—has deleted all records of funding projects in Ukraine from their searchable “Awarded Grants Search” database.

The archived webpage captured February 25, 2022 from 14:53 shows that NED granted $22,394,281 in the form of 334 awards to Ukraine between 2014 to the present. The capture at 23:10 the same day shows “No results found” for Ukraine. As of right now, there are still ‘No results found’ for Ukraine…

The erasure of the NED’s records is necessary to validate the Biden administration’s big lie—echoed in the media—that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was ‘unprovoked.’ [emphasis added] (for more on the NED refer here.)

So just to be as clear as possible here, the economy of Ukraine was beholden to the IMF after their independence in 1991 (after the dissolution of the Soviet Union). It was almost immediately afterwards that the Ukrainian economy began a downward trend, entering an economic recession and creating Ukrainian oligarchs overnight. [Russia also went through a serious recession and had its overnight oligarchs because of the introduction of the Perestroika, which was a western restructuring of Russia’s internal finances. In time, Russia has been able to gain in part its economic and financial sovereignty, but it has been a long process which still has elements that are beholden to the western diktat such as the Russian Central Bank.]

This is what makes up the “Moscow on the Thames” in London, overnight Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs who benefitted from the suffering of their own people. These are men who are servants to the City of London. These are traitors to their country, who would sell their grandmothers for the right to sit in the hallway of their masters, as President Putin said in a recent speech.

Both the Orange Revolution (2004) and the Maidan Revolution (2014) were at the end of the day, about economic despair. The Ukrainians died for the EU deal and closed out Russia. What did they gain for this? Before the start of this year, Ukraine was by far the poorest country in all of Europe as a result of signing onto the EU Deal seven years ago. They then foolishly allowed themselves to be led into a war with Russia in service of Anglo-America, which was the entire time never about Ukrainian freedom but about triggering an economic collapse within Russia, which has very clearly failed.

We would perhaps do well to remember Lord Palmerston’s words, “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

The Ukrainian people who bought into this were played. The result of this “Revolution of Dignity” is that Ukraine now lies in ashes.

Now the Taiwanese people are being asked to follow suit.

The Sunflower Movement: Taiwan’s Color Revolution

What many likely do not know, or at least do not connect together, is that Ukraine’s “Revolution for Dignity” occurred during the same year as Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Revolution” aka “Occupy HK” as well as Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement. Yes, they all happened in the same year and they were all funded by the National Endowment for Democracy along with western NGOs.

Let us first start with the case of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, which was a part of China for many centuries, was established as a temporary colony of the British Empire after China lost the First Opium War. After the Second Opium War was lost, Britain expanded the colony to the Kowloon Peninsula, and in 1898, obtained a 99-year lease of Hong Kong.

In 1997, Hong Kong was returned to China as per the 99-year lease agreement with Britain. However, Britain did not release Hong Kong fully.

Laura Ruggeri, who has been living in Hong Kong since 1997 and has done excellent reporting on the 2019 Hong Kong protests, writes in her paper “Agents of Chaos: How the US Seeded a Color Revolution in Hong Kong”:

By all appearances, the process of creating a sense of identification with, and loyalty to, China was still in its infancy. In contrast, transnational actors, most notably churches, NGOs and advocacy networks regarded by the US as “vectors of influence” and “catalysts of democratization” were well-entrenched in the Hong Kong civil society. Working in concert with US-sponsored local media and pro-democracy parties they subjected both China and the local government to constant criticism, exploiting domestic grievances in order to deepen rifts in society and achieve the sort of partisan and ideological polarization that would make Hong Kong ungovernable.

Hong Kong lawmakers failed to acknowledge that the political feasibility of One Country Two Systems ultimately rests on the stability of One Country, without which any talk of Two Systems becomes preposterous.

 when British rule ended in 1997 it left behind a toxic legacy of colonial institutions, British-trained civil servants and a damaged collective psyche precariously held together by a false sense of superiority towards mainland China.

…The US began laying the brickwork for a colour revolution in Hong Kong even before the 1997 handover: NED funding for Hong Kong-based groups dates back to 1994 and was described as “consistent” by Louisa Greve, who was vice president of programs for Asia, the Middle East and North Africa until 2017. Its first strategic objective was to prevent the enactment of a national security law (Article 23) in Hong Kong, as this would effectively make the activities of NED and other foreign-funded organizations illegal.

When in 2003 the Secretary for Security Regina Ip announced a Bill to implement Article 23[5], as if on cue, half a million people marched against the government proposal, Mrs. Ip became the target of a coordinated vilification campaign that forced her to resign from office and the Bill was eventually withdrawn.

…foreign agents and fifth columnists. Their task was to scupper the One Country Two Systems governance model and contrast any rise of patriotic feelings towards China. If the One Country Two Systems model failed in Hong Kong, the U.S. would also achieve another strategic goal at no cost, because Taiwan wouldn’t be tempted to adopt it in the future.” (For more on this refer to Laura Ruggeri’s exellent articles.)

Thus, as you see with all of these NED funded revolutions, the people are never actually protesting something that will harm their freedom and prosperity, but rather the very opposite. They have been fooled into protesting something that is actually to their benefit. They are played by the prejudice that has been fueled by foreign agents in their education system, media and government, to hate and remain distrustful of what is actually a better outcome for them.

In the case of the 2019 Hong Kong protests, this was incredibly started as an Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement, in response to Hong Kong’s introduction of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill on extradition. Why did the Hong Kong government introduce this bill? Because a young girl was hacked into pieces and shoved into a suitcase. Her boyfriend who committed the horrific crime left her body in Taiwan and took a flight back to Hong Kong that evening.

Hong Kong’s law, due to the “one country, two systems,” did not allow for China’s extradition of this criminal, thus the introduction of the bill. Something that not even the Australian government saw as an issue in their cooperating with before the fervour of protests in Hong Kong. What this meant, was that those participating in the 2019 Hong Kong protests were ultimately protesting China’s right to “intervene” into how Hong Kong people live their lives, even if they are to commit crimes within China.

In other words, these protesters were saying that China had no right to intervene in crimes committed by Hong Kongers, even though Hong Kong is a part of China… Does that sound like a democratic peace-loving movement to you?

Let alone that they violently attacked any Hong Kong resident who disagreed with their views during the 2019 protests, including the elderly.

The 2014 “Occupy HK” received $400,000 in funding from the NED. Hong Kong received $1.7 million in grants spent by the NED from 2017 to 2019 for the 2019 protests.

The NED is also funding separatist groups in Tibet (2021 link) and Xinjiang (only called East Turkistan by the radicalised separatists and the NED). NED has recently scrubbed their Xinjiang list of funding, however, if you go to the “awarded grants search” within the NED site you will find that their primary funding goes to the World Uyghur Congress, which services US government foreign policy, and is the primary organiser and funder behind claims that China is committing a genocide in Xinjiang (for more on this refer here).

When Anglo-America made a second attempt to reclaim Hong Kong in 2019, it again failed to separate Hong Kong from China. If they had succeeded, it would have been used as a model for Taiwan’s separatist movement.

Strangely, there has been this claim circulating around the web by such news agencies like The Guardian, criticizing China for claiming that Hong Kong was never a British colony because China never recognised the treaties that ceded the city to Britain. This is true in the sense that it was the corrupt Qing dynasty that signed over Hong Kong to the British for a 99-year lease. When the Chinese people overthrew the Qing dynasty and eventually formed the People’s Republic of China, this treaty was never recognised. In other words, the Chinese government never recognised such a treaty in support of British colonialism.

What is disturbing in this sort of criticism of China essentially refusing to acquiesce to a colonial identity, is that the reaction from the British press is “how dare they!” You see how old habits die hard.

China recognised, as also confirmed by the observations by Laura Ruggeri’s work, that it needed to take back their education system in Hong Kong, not because they are some sort of dictatorship that censors freedom of speech but because those textbooks were continuing to teach a British colonial view of the world and Chinese history that was essentially anti-Chinese.

How ironic that these so-called freedom lovers in Hong Kong and their supporters are so quick to side with a colonial framework. Anything to sit in the hall of their masters…

The Guardian article goes on to say, how dare China teach in their schools that the 2019 Hong Kong protests were driven by external forces. What this means is; how dare China not accept the separatist movement in Hong Kong that is still brainwashed with a colonial mentality as genuine.

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Picture of the 2019 Hong Kong protestors holding British flags.

Hmmm.

I would like to make a quick note here, that part of my family comes from Hong Kong, and it is most clearly the case that they saw themselves as superior to the Chinese living on the mainland, whom they viewed as dirty peasants, and likely have retained this prejudice despite mainland China now economically thriving with many cities being much more affluent and beautiful than Hong Kong. My family that grew up in Hong Kong, largely identified with western idealisation, and my mother and siblings have even confessed to me that they wished they had been born with more western features in their appearance. Does that sound like freedom to you?

Lastly, let us take a look at Taiwan’s “Sunflower Movement.”

Taiwan, in case you were not aware, is legally a part of China and is recognised as so by the entire international community, except 13 small countries and the Vatican City, Holy See. And I would go so far as to say that it was not the decision of these small countries to do so, who are beholden to the Anglo-American diktat.

The United States, despite sending weapons over to Taiwan, and having a small number of US troops in Taiwan, also recognises Taiwan as part of China.

On the US Department of State website they write, “We oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side; we do not support Taiwan independence.

So why all the belligerence from the United States? It appears it is the United States who is in violation of the law.

Quite ridiculously, Newsweek published an article which is the same sort of fiction that is being published all over media right now, titled “China Warplane Fleet Enters Taiwan’s Air Defense Zone.”

Below are the images published by Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, showcasing China’s aircraft “violation,” that were used by the Newsweek article.

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Do you notice something strange? Taiwan’s Self-Declared Air Zone overlaps with the actual mainland of China. According to Taiwan, China should not even have the right to fly above a section of its own mainland!

In addition, according to Taiwan, China has no right to pass over or through the Taiwan Strait, but a US Navy Destroyer can enter “its” waters, which happened just a few days ago and was not the first time.

CNN writes the very misleading headline “US Navy Destroyer enters Chinese-claimed waters for third time in a week.” Um, “Chinese-claimed waters”? The US Department of State recognises Taiwan as part of China, so yeah, it is in Chinese waters. Are you beginning to see what China is having to deal with?

Lastly, if you see the flight routes that China is taking in the image above, you can see clearly that China is making it crystal clear that those flight paths are not meant to pass over Taiwan. China is giving Taiwan its space, even though it is a part of China.

As, ex-Marine Corps, Brian Berletic’s The New Atlas has pointed out in his informative videos, Taiwan is completely dependent on trade with China, thus, if China really wanted to cause Taiwan’s “submission” to China, there would be no need to “invade” Taiwan, they would simply stop trading with Taiwan. China makes up 49.04% of Taiwan exports and 23.8% of Taiwan imports.

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In 2014, the Sunflower Movement, like the Ukrainian “Revolution for Dignity” was over an economic deal. In the case of Taiwan it was over a free trade deal with China, which makes sense since Taiwan is part of China, therefore why would you not want free trade within the same country? Once again, we see that the protests were against something that was in fact to their benefit.

One of the leading organizations behind the Sunflower Movement was the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy which is directly connected to the NED and has received funding from the NED (for more on this refer to The New Atlas).

On the NED webpage “Taiwan’s Destiny,” the remarks by Carl Gershman, former US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council and who has served as president of the NED since its founding in 1984 to 2021, states:

I visited Taiwan for the first time 25 years ago to encourage it to join the community of countries that was fostering democracy through non-governmental institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy. Taiwan was not ready for this idea at the time.

In the quarter of a century since that conference, Taiwan has consolidated a dynamic, stable, and successful liberal democracy, exemplified by President Tsai herself, who is the first woman to be elected President of Taiwan. Elsewhere in the world, however, democracy has entered a period of crisis…and authoritarian countries like Russia and China have become more aggressive and threatening.

Taiwan has not chosen to be a global symbol of democratic universalism, and I did not anticipate that it would become one when I came here 25 years ago, hoping that Taiwan might establish an institution to promote democracy in the world. It now has such an institution, and for that I’m very grateful. And as I said last year when I spoke at the TFD’s 15th anniversary celebration, I hope that the Taiwan government will increase the Foundation’s budget, as the U.S. Congress may soon do for the NED. The work is so important.

…Because of Taiwan’s sacrifice and commitment, I believe that day will come.”

Like what the sacrifice of the Ukrainian people brought for Ukraine in obeisance to this?

It is clear from the words of Carl Gershman that Taiwan’s Foundation for Democracy is an NED created and funded institution to encourage the separation of Taiwan from China.

And just like Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity, the Sunflower movement allowed for the demand of a new government, a new government that would be picked and shaped by the US government. People such as Joseph Wu who is Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and is also the Vice-Chairman of Taiwan’s Foundation for Democracy.

Some Parting Thoughts

So, is it truly better the Devil you know? I always found this saying a confusing one, it essentially is describing one situation or person that we know for sure is monstrously bad and the other to which we acknowledge we do not “know.” So why the assumption that the choice is between one monstrous thing or another?

As we see with the technique especially of color revolutions, the ignorance of the people in siding with the Devil they know, is that they have chosen rather simply to remain in the hell they find themselves in. They are so fearful to travel into the unknown (which can become rather quickly known if one informs themselves) that they would rather stay with their captor.

Colonial Stockholm Syndrome one might say?

B.F. Skinner, a scary behaviourist, discovered a phenomenon in his work with rats which is now called, very creepily, “the Skinner box,” or by its somewhat less creepy title the “operant conditioning chamber.”

What Skinner found was that rats that were tortured within this box in the specific manner he does with conflicting messaging of reward and punishment, these rats would form a sort of dependence on this created “reality” as a coping mechanism to future stresses. It was found that when the rat was allowed to leave the box and was subjected to a stimulus that caused pain or fear that its immediate reaction was to run back into the box for its own perceived security out of its own volition!

Think about that.

There is a reason why behaviourists became extremely giddy over this “discovery” of Skinner, and it wasn’t because of its applications on rats…

We are told that we live in a complicated world. A world that is divided, a world that is full of hate and war and greed. And it is most certainly the case that the west in particular has descended into its own self-created hell. But that is the key right there.

As John Milton would say in his Paradise Lost, “The mind is its own place and, in itself can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.

Ironically, what many do not know is that Milton wrote a follow-up titled “Paradise Regained.” How interesting that we only focus on Paradise being Lost and seemingly have no care for Paradise Regained? Or that everyone has heard of Dante’s Inferno and perhaps Purgatorio but few have heard of Dante’s Paradiso which was meant to be read as a whole. Why do you think that is?

If we choose to walk in this life blind to what is the good, we will certainly condemn ourselves to living in a hell, but that is not reality, that is our self-made creation.

The choice is yours to make.

“It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.”

– Buddha

The author can be reached at cynthiachung.substack.com

  1. “Old Summer Palace marks 157th anniversary of massive loot”. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 2018-06-30. 
  2. “The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire” (2017) Documentary. 
  3. Can Ukraine Avert a Financial Meltdown?“. World Bank. June 1998. Archived from the original on 12 July 2000. 
  4. Figliuoli, Lorenzo; Lissovolik, Bogdan (31 August 2002). “The IMF and Ukraine: What Really Happened“. International Monetary Fund. 
  5. Article 23 is an article in the Basic Law of Hong Kong. It states that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region “shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Region, and to prohibit political organizations or bodies of the Region from establishing ties with foreign political organizations or bodies.” 

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov : Member countries of the African Union

July 29, 2022

Editorial Comment: Mr Lavrov’s visits to Arab states, the Arab League, and African states can only be described as a stunning victory and a complete triumph for diplomacy. A short overview is included in the second part of this Operation Z situation report: http://thesaker.is/sitrep-operation-z-collapses-and-progress/
All of the various transcripts can be read at the MFA site: https://www.mid.ru/en/
Short comments and summaries can be found on the MFA Telegram Channel: https://t.me/MFARussia



Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to the questions during a meeting with permanent representatives of the member countries of the African Union and the diplomatic corps, Addis Ababa, July 27, 2022

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Representatives of the media,

Thank you very much for coming here at our invitation. I believed that being in Addis Ababa, it is absolutely important to meet with the African Union members, like I did during all my previous visits. We could not do this at the headquarters for, as far as I understand, scheduling reasons. And I’m glad that you’ve accepted our invitation to come here to the Russian Embassy to discuss issues which are on the top of international agenda.

Many of our Western colleagues try to send the message that the key, if not the only, problem in international relations is the situation around Ukraine. I tend to disagree with such an assertion and during my visit here and  in my previous encounters with my foreign colleagues, I sense a broad understanding that the issue is much more complex and complicated.

What we witness now, especially as the West launches an unprecedented campaign of sanctions, accusations, threats, vis-à-vis Russia and anybody who dares to support Russia or even not to condemn Russia. This campaign indicates that we are living through a very important historical period, a period where we will all be deciding what kind of universe we are going to have and to leave for our children and grandchildren. The universe which is based on the United Nations Charter, which says that the United Nations is founded on the principle of sovereign equality of states, or we will have the world where the right of force, the right of the strongest dominates.

Actually, what it is all about can be described on the following example. Is it our choice to have the world where we have the so-called collective West, totally subordinated to the United States and feeling free, feeling that it has the right to decide when and how to promote its own interests without following the international law, without any respect to the sovereign equality of states?

When our American colleagues felt in the past that there was a threat to their interests, tens of thousands kilometers from the American coast, be it Yugoslavia in 1999, be it Iraq in 2003, be it Libya in 2011, and many other occasions, without any hesitation, without explaining anything to anybody, very often on false pretexts, they just started military operations levelling cities, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, like it happened in Iraq in the city of Mosul which was literally levelled. The same happened to Raqqa in Syria, where dozens and hundreds of corpses have been lying for weeks unattended and I don’t recall the progressive civilized community raising any big noise about that situation.

When the Russian Federation, not just overnight, but for the last ten long years has been drawing the attention of the United States and its allies to the unacceptable policy which they have been promoting on Ukraine, building Ukraine as a stronghold to contain Russia, pumping more and more modern arms in Ukraine, planning to build naval and military bases in that country and encouraging in all possible ways Russophobic policies of its leaders; when in 2014 we categorically protested to the West that in spite of its guarantees, the opposition in Ukraine staged a bloody coup and when they came to power, the first thing they did was to demand to cancel the status of the Russian language which has been the historical language of Ukraine from the very beginning. They also demanded the Russians to get out of Crimea. They sent armed groups to storm the Parliament of Crimea and then the eastern part of Ukraine protested against the coup.

The putchists called them separatists, terrorists and started a full-fledged military operation against them. And the West as I’ve said, which had guaranteed only a few days before that – guaranteed a peace deal between the former president and the opposition, the deal which provided for creation of a government of national unity and early elections, – this deal was disrupted overnight and the opposition bragged that they created the government of the winners.

See the difference: the government of national unity and the government of the winners. This was an invitation for the civil war because the opposition called part of its own citizens “losers” while the opposition became “winners”.

So when this all started we managed, together with some other countries, to stop it in February 2015 – Minsk Agreements were signed – keeping Ukraine one-piece.

The eastern territories of Ukraine that originally after the coup declared independence were persuaded not to insist on independence and to agree to stay inside Ukraine by these Minsk Agreements, provided they are given a special status. First of all, the right to use the Russian language.

This was endorsed by the Security Council and this was systemically and totally ignored and sabotaged by the Kiev regime with the encouragement of the West.

There was no direct dialogue between Kiev and those territories in spite of the fact that this was directly demanded from the Ukrainian regime by the Security Council.

And few weeks ago the former President of Ukraine P.Poroshenko who signed the Minsk Agreements, proudly stated to the media that “When I was signing it, I never intended to implement it. We just needed more time to get more weapons from the West in order to enable us to resolve the problem of Ukrainian East by the use of force.” Very honestly.

But this is totally neglected by the West. So we have been knocking on the door of our Western colleagues at least since 2013, telling them that this is absolutely a red line when you create a direct threat to the Russian Federation just on our borders. When you create a Russophobic state, which during all these years, managed to pass series of laws, prohibiting – physically, literally, – the use of Russian language in education, in culture, in media, and even in day-to-day life.

And at the same time, legislation was passed to legalize neo-Nazi theories and practices. Neo-Nazi battalions with swastikas and insignias of Waffen-SS, have been mushrooming in Ukraine and becoming the cornerstone of the Ukrainian Army.

It’s a very radicalized country. They glorify the collaborators of Hitler condemned by the Nuremberg Tribunal and all this is being done with silent encouragement by the United States and the European Union. And the process which I’ve described was accompanied by the Western attempts, not attempts – policy – to pull Ukraine into NATO.

Dozens of military exercises of NATO with Ukraine were held on Ukrainian territory with an obvious anti-Russian dimension. The efforts of Russia during all these years – it was not just, you know, we say today that this is a threat and excuse us, but we need to remove this threat. It has been happening for at least ten years.

When we’ve told our Western colleagues, “Guys, why are you pulling Ukraine to NATO? You know that this is a hostile organization vis-a-vis Russia, they were telling us, ‘Don’t worry, it will not be detrimental to your security.’”

Russia, as any other self-respectful country has the right to determine itself what is good for its security and what is not. In that case, NATO members led by the United States, opted to decide for us what is good for the Russian Federation.

We reminded them that many years ago in 2010, they all signed up a declaration saying that the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe will be based on the principle of equal and indivisible security, which means that any country can choose alliances, but no country has the right in choosing alliances to increase its security at the expense of the security of other countries. And that no single organization in Europe can pretend to dominate the security space.

NATO is doing exactly this. And NATO, of course, is strengthening the security of its own at the expense of the security of the Russian Federation, because the borders of NATO have been moved just to the borders of Russia.

So we told them, “Guys, political commitments to which your presidents and prime ministers put the signatures don’t work. Let’s make this principle that the security is indivisible and must be equal for all, let’s make it legally binding.”

And we suggested to them respective treaties several times. First, back in 2009 and the last attempt was in December of 2021. And they told us, “Look gentlemen, first there would be no legally binding security guarantees except for NATO members. And second, as regards Ukraine, the relations between NATO and Ukraine are none of your business.” And that was the end of it.

And parallel with this absolute rejection of constructive efforts we have been undertaking for many, many years, parallel to this the Ukrainians, in violation of the Minsk Agreements, started to accumulate huge military force on the line of contact with the eastern part of the country where the two republics have been under siege, basically. They intensified radically the shelling and bombing of those territories.

When we understood that there would be no agreement on security guarantees in Europe which would be equal, when we understood that there would be no implementation of the Minsk Agreements because the Ukrainian leadership publicly renounced this, and when we understood that the only way to save the people in the east of Ukraine was to recognize these two republics, we did so.

We signed the Treaty on Mutual Assistance with them and at their request, we are now exercising a special military operation aimed at saving lives of the citizens of the Donbass and removing any possibility for Ukrainian territory to be used to threaten the security of the Russian Federation.

I am sure that you have been following the events. I know that the Western media presents the situation in a totally distorted manner. If only to mention the so-called food crisis, as if nothing was of concern before February this year.

If you read the reports of the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization, you will refresh your memory and establish the fact that the problems in the world food market started at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when in an attempt to fight this virus and the pandemic consequences the US, the EU and Japan have made an emission for eight trillion dollars’ worth without any economic substantiation, and they use this empty money to buy food and all other goods which they believe would be necessary in case pandemic takes long and there will be closure of countries.

Then there were, of course, increases, long ago, of the price of fertilizers because of the reckless policy of the Western countries on the so-called Green Transition, because the energy supplies, the classical energy resources were more or less discriminated and all this has brought the price of fertilizers high, which of course affected the price of food, and so on and so forth. And then there were not very conducive climate conditions for a couple of years.

And yes, the situation in Ukraine did affect, additionally, negatively affected food markets. But not because of the Russian special operation, rather due to the absolutely inadequate reaction of the West, which announced sanctions, undermining the availability of the food on the markets.

When we explain this to them, they say, “Food and fertilizers are not covered by sanctions”. Yes, but you know, half-truth is worse than a lie. And the truth is that the list of sanctions does not contain an item saying “food”, but what it does contain is prohibition for the Russian ships to call to the ports in the Mediterranean, prohibition for the foreign ships to call on the Russian ports, to pick up food and other cargo, prohibition to insure the Russian ships, because of which insurance prices quadrupled overnight. And of course, prohibition for the main Russian bank, Russian Agricultural Bank, which has always served the payments for Russian food exports – it was listed in the European Union sanctions.

So the latest attempt by our Turkish friends and the Secretary General of the United Nations resulted in a deal between Russia and the United Nations, whereby Secretary General Guterres committed himself to press the Western countries to lift those restrictions, which I just quoted. We’ll see whether he can succeed.

And the same deal as you know, provided for Ukraine an obligation to demine its coastal line for the ships which have been locked there, I think 70 ships from 16 countries since February, to allow them out of the Ukrainian territorial waters, after which Turkish and Russian fleet will ensure their safe travel to the straits and then to the Mediterranean.

So those were the agreements, which could have been announced long, long ago, if not for the Western stubbornness in insisting that they are always right, and all those who don’t agree with them, of course, are always wrong.

A similar situation is taking place with the energy markets. Many years ago, before February this year, the West started discriminating Russian energy projects. First, the project called Nord Stream 1 was limited by 50% of its capacity for no good reason at all. Europe deprived itself of 50% of Russian cheap, accessible gas.

Then Nord Stream 2 was blocked by absolutely illegal action when the legal committee of the European Union ruled that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was built and financed and invested, fully aligned with the existing European norms.

But after that, the European Commission changed the rules retrospectively and applied the new rules to the investment which took place legally several years ago.

So Nord Stream 2 is also not available. Poland, several months ago, stopped taking gas from a direct pipeline from Russia. Ukraine stopped one of the two transit lines through its territory from Russia. And there was some hassle with that turbine which went for maintenance to Canada, then Canada didn’t want to bring it back.

I listed five or six factors which immediately negatively affected gas supplies to Europe volume-wise. And, of course, the less you buy from Russia through a pipeline, which is a price established for long-term, the more expensive prices on the spot.

It reached yesterday, I think, $2,200 for a thousand cubic meters. So the attempts to blame us for everything which goes wrong is an attempt with not very clean purposes and intentions.

What is my point? My point is that it’s a period of history where we will have to choose either to go down the current, which the West tries to move, saying that the world must be run not by international law, but by the rules.

They coined an expression “rules-based world order”. And if you analyze the behavior of our Western colleagues in the international arena, you will understand that these rules differ from case to case. There is no single criteria. There is no single principle, except one. If I want something, you have to obey. If you don’t obey, you would be punished.

This is the picture for the future offered to us by the rules-based world order promoted by the West. Basically, this is the unipolar world where the United States, which subordinated to its own will everybody else in the European Union and allies in Asia… This is the offer. Not even an offer, it is an ultimatum actually.

The alternative to this, and I’m sure that the overwhelming majority of the world countries do not want to live as if the colonial times came back, that the vast majority of the states want to be independent, want to rely on their own tradition, to rely on their own history, to rely on their old friends, don’t want to betray their old friends.

And this is basically evident from the fact that except two or three developing countries, no one else in Africa, Asia or Latin America joined the illegal American and European sanctions.

And back to the United Nations Charter. I believe, when we speak about more just, more democratic world order, we don’t need to invent anything. Once again, I quote the Charter which says that the United Nations is based on the principle of sovereign equality of states.

And to recognize that each state is independent, each state has the right to determine how it wants to live, what kind of economic, social, political system it wants to choose on the basis of the will of its people. And I have no slightest doubt that any normal state wants to be like this. Nobody wants to have enemies. This is also an absolute truth. Neither Russia nor any other country present in this hall – I have no doubt.

But if countries, like we witness now the behavior of the West, if they do want to have enemies, as they publicly declared in their doctrines, in the decisions of the latest NATO summit in Madrid – they do want enemies, they appoint enemies, they appoint the order in which they handle these enemies. Now Russia is the first, China is earmarked as the existential challenge for the long term. And all this manifests in renewed thinking about how the world economy and the world system operates.

If the US and the European Union – under the demand of the US – decided to freeze the Russian reserves – and now they seriously start a legal process to prepare the basis to confiscate the Russian money – who knows… If they become irritated by somebody else tomorrow or the day after, they might do the same.

In other words, the reliance on dollar as the instrument supporting the world economy is not very promising, frankly speaking. And it is not by incident that more and more countries are shifting to using alternative currencies, shifting to use national currencies more and more, and this process will be gaining momentum.

This is not to say that we are suggesting some kind of revolution against the dollar, against the United States – this is to state the obvious: the West created a system which was based on certain principles – free market, fair competition, sanctity of private property, presumption of innocence, and something else. All these principles have been thrown down the drain when they needed to do what they believe is to punish Russia.

And I don’t have the slightest doubt that, if need be, they will not hesitate to do the same in relation to any other country which would irritate them one way or another.

I mentioned China as the next target. It’s a very interesting example of how the Americans consider fair competition in practice. Actually, China developed into the number one world economy – everybody recognizes this – and China did so, China achieved those results, working and acting on the basis of the rules established by the West. The IMF, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the rules to settle disputes, competition and the stuff. China accepted those rules in developing its own economy and China defeated the West, economically and trade-wise, investment-wise, on its own turf, on the basis of the rules invented by the West.

And what happened next? Already a couple of years ago, the Secretary of Treasury of the United States and some other officials started saying, “We need to reform the Bretton Woods Institutions, we need to reform the WTO and we need to organize this reform between the US and Europe not to allow anybody else to participate in developing new rules.”

Guys, it is absolutely obvious, how they want this world to be operated. And I believe, as long as it is not too late, we would be ready to talk to our Western friends when they come back to their senses about how they think they should live together with all of us in the future. But this conversation can only be made on full equality, with full respect to the legitimate interests of all of us.

If I took too long of your time, I apologize. And I understand there might be a couple of questions, right?

Question: Your Excellency, Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation,

On behalf of the people of South Sudan, the Government and on my own behalf, I wish to take this opportunity to express my personal gratitude to the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ethiopia for inviting me and my delegation here.

We are grateful that our two countries, the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Sudan enjoy cordial bilateral relations, dating back to the day of our declaration of independence, where the Russian people and their Government were among those who recognized our statehood on July 9, 2011. Since then Your Excellency, the people and the governments of two countries have stood with the people and the Government of South Sudan in many ways.

The people of South Sudan wish to express their gratitude for your immense support in the UNSC, the Human Rights Council in Geneva and other activities where you supported us. First of all, as you explained, Your Excellency, you outlined your view on sanctions. Now we know what’s really going on.

On the current political situation in my country I would like to inform Your Excellency the Minister that the signed revitalized peace agreement of 2018 is holding despite the challenges that you have mentioned. These include numerous sanctions by Western countries and their allies, and an arms embargo. Other factors of concern are natural disasters, such as heavy rains…

Sergey Lavrov: I apologize, can you pass on this text? Because it would be useful and more polite to the others. Ok? Please, pass it. Thank you!

Just one remark. We are against those sanctions which are intended to punish people. And don’t forget that the initiators of these sanctions against you are exactly the same countries who wanted to create South Sudan out of Sudan.

Question: Thank you very much for giving a very detailed and covering all important aspects in your briefing. A short question: How the hegemony of dollar can be controlled by international community because right now the countries like Pakistan and many developing countries are suffering from huge debt that continues to grow. The problem is getting worse. I would like you to clarify the situation.

Sergey Lavrov: I am not an expert in monetary affairs. What I said was it’s an obvious feeling by many countries that the dollar is not reliable, because the capricious behavior could be aimed at anyone in the future.

I know that you can feel this on yourself, if you compare the situation of 20-30 years ago and now. So, it’s life. It’s life. And nobody wants to go to war because of the dollar and I believe this is crazy.  But people want to have some insurance as regards the reliability of their economic and trade relations with their partners. And there are examples, including the use of national currencies, including barter, including clearing mechanisms. Some might say this is going back to the past instruments of conducting trade. But there would be digital currencies, I don’t have the slightest doubt, which are already being developed in China, for example, in Venezuela, in Iran.

We are thinking about this as well. It’s the beginning of a process. Now we have accumulated the elements of the problem and we know that it must be addressed.

Question: With an approach of winter during which gas importations increase. How does Russia going to export its gas and circumvent the sanctions imposed? 15 African countries import more than 50% of their grain from Russia. The situation also affected the exports from African countries to Russia. How does Russia intend to manage trade relations with Africa?

Sergey Lavrov: I think I addressed both issues in my remarks. I hope you listened to me. Antonio Guterres personally promised to make sure that the US and EU remove any obstacles to the export of Russian grain. If you add your noble voice to his efforts, I think it would be useful.

And on gas prices – I also explained how Europe systemically, during the last almost ten years, was creating barriers on the way of bringing to European countries cheap and accessible Russian gas.

I listed five or six specific decisions which were cutting more and more of Russian exports, vacating the room in Europe for much more expensive LNG from the United States, just like, you know, the US insists that Europe sends all its weapons to Ukraine, vacating the arms market in Europe for the import of American weapons. It’s “nothing personal, it’s business.”

As regards your country (Algeria), the Europeans are now thinking of alternative sources of supply. They have suffocated themselves with their own hands the pipeline routes from Russia. Now they are  looking for alternatives. And I know that the Mediterranean, including Algeria, is one of those sources.

They would be asking you to help, and it’s up to your companies to decide, it’s up to your government to decide.

In our case, according to our experiences that when we had long-term contracts with Europe, these long-term contracts protected our interests. But, a few years ago, Europe started cutting long-term contracts saying, “Let’s shift to the spot market”. And the spot market does not guarantee that you will have a long-term investment justified.

So, what we see now is not a scientific, not a responsible approach to the energy markets – it’s a hectic search for something which can save you this winter, with the green agenda shelved for the time being.

The coal is coming back, polluting the atmosphere – it’s a mess, if you take a look at the energy and environment policy that Europe is promoting. I am sorry to say this. We are not getting any happiness or joy from what Europe is experiencing, but they have been doing this to themselves for quite some time already.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have to apologize because the minister – my colleague from Ethiopia – is   waiting for me for the next event. Once again I want to thank you whole-heartedly for accepting our invitation. I hope it was not a waste of time. I tried to be as frank as I can, and we would be ready to promote dialogue with the African Union.

Unfortunately, we could not meet at the headquarters. And we would be ready for a dialogue on all these and any other issues of interest and of importance with you bilaterally. With all of you we have good relations and channels of communication.

I wish you all the best and keep healthy. Thank you very much.

The Western Infowar On Mali Rebrands Terrorists As Simply Being “Extremist/Jihadi Rebels”

July 23, 2022 

Source

By Andrew Korybko

The stage seems set for a French-Russian proxy war in Mali in the event that the Associated Press’ rebranding of genuine terrorists there as simply being so-called “extremist/jihadi rebels” is indeed intended to precondition the public for a Syrian redux in West Africa as was argued in this analysis.

The Associated Press, one of the leading US-led Western Mainstream Media (MSM) outlets in the world, is leading the way in that bloc’s ongoing infowar on Mali. Its military junta has become an African pioneer by showing that it’s indeed possible for the same forces tasked with enforcing the West’s neo-colonial regimes to Africa to secretly be anti-imperialist freedom fighters plotting to liberating their lands from foreign yoke once the chance presents itself, hence why that West African country’s being targeted. It’s also located in the same part of the continent that’s expected to become a major proxy war battlefield in the New Cold War between the US-led Golden Billion and the BRICS-led Global South.

In their article about the unprecedented attack against the country’s largest military base near the capital of Bamako by a group that the Associated Press itself even acknowledges is linked to Al Qaeda and ISIS, the outlet conspicuously avoids describing the culprits as terrorists, instead referring to them simply as “extremist/jihadi rebels”. This is a far cry from when the MSM rightly referred to such organizations as terrorists when France was still leading its self-proclaimed but immensely unsuccessfully anti-terrorist operation there that many locals suspected was driven by ulterior motives such as corralling such groups in the direction of shared interests instead of exterminating them.

The Malian junta’s decision in early May to break their country’s defense agreements with France in response to Paris exploiting such pacts to erode its host’s national sovereignty can be seen in hindsight as marking the moment when the MSM began to rebrand genuine terrorists there as “extremist/jihadi rebels”. The purpose in doing so is to grant a degree of tacit “legitimacy” to their cause due to what the term “rebel” supposedly implies in the popular imagination. It’s part of a larger infowar campaign aimed at preconditioning the public to accept what appears to be inevitable foreign patronage of these same terrorist groups along the lines of the Syrian model from the past decade.

Back then, the West openly supported terrorists on the supposed grounds that they were so-called “moderate rebels”, with the “moderate” qualifier being in comparison to the most backwards and barbaric terrorist groups in history even though these same “rebels” were literally indistinguishable from them and oftentimes literally members of Al Qaeda and/or ISIS. The same pattern is now being applied against Mali because employing terrorists is a Machiavellian means towards the end of regime change, which aims to remove its patriotic junta from power before it can influence those of its West African peers who still do the West’s bidding to carry out their own patriotic coups to save their states.

The Hybrid War of Terror on Syria was largely orchestrated out of that targeted country’s Turkish neighbor, while the Hybrid War of Terror on Mali will likely be orchestrated out of its Nigerien one, which will host those French forces that are being expelled by Bamako and has consistently been Paris’ bastion of regional influence alongside Chad over the decades. Just like that beleaguered Arab Republic counted on its Russian strategic partner for assistance during its darkest days, so too can the beleaguered West African republic as well, albeit probably not in any conventional form such as anti-terrorist airstrikes owing to obvious logistical reasons.

This isn’t groundless speculation either but is very strongly suggested by Foreign Minister Lavrov’s declaration on Friday that Russia will help Africa complete its decolonization process, to which end he intriguingly referenced Moscow’s historical support of building up its partners’ defense capabilities across the continent, among other means. It’s unclear exactly what military form this could take in the Malian context, but nobody should doubt Russia’s commitment to its West African partner, which has proven itself to be an African pioneer as was earlier explained and is thus of immensely strategic value for Moscow with respect to helping liberate the rest of the continent from Western neo-imperialism.

The stage therefore seems set for a French-Russian proxy war in Mali in the event that the Associated Press’ rebranding of genuine terrorists there as simply being so-called “extremist/jihadi rebels” is indeed intended to precondition the public for a Syrian redux in West Africa as was argued in this analysis. That certainly seems to be the case since there’s no other reason why that influential MSM outlet would change the way in which it describes the same groups that it used to rightly condemn as terrorists, especially considering that this coincides with the departure of French troops from the country. It’ll be regrettable if such a conflict occurs, but if it does, then Mali will fight to the end to defend its freedom.

Why don’t the African cosmos support the West in its sanctions war against Russia?

July 06, 2022

Source

By José Francisco Lumango

The answer may not be simple. But the memory of European colonisation in Africa, and its harmful effects, are still visible despite the independence of its states, may be a reasonable way of understanding it. An African adage teaches that “One should never forget the lessons learned in times of pain”, which seems to be the source of inspiration for the African cosmos – the set of entities that formally and materially hold the power relations in Africa – not to forget the tragic consequences of European colonisation, to protect their independence and not repeat the errors of the past. Without being simplistic or too complex, the answer to the question in question may have several reasons:

1. Historical memory of colonisation and the struggle for national liberation: Russia, heir to the Former USSR, supported ideologically, politically, economically, and militarily the national liberation struggles of several African countries, which after the achievement of independence, followed the communist model as the basis of their political, social and economic construction. Even though they later adopted Western capitalism, the mentality of the African cosmos is still of Soviet influence, because it was there that most of them did their military and political training and received economic support to finance the liberation wars to put an end to Western colonisation, with direct and indirect help from Cuba as an intermediary in some cases. The cold war between the USA and NATO against the USSR led to civil wars in African countries to conquer the spaces of influence. After the fall of the Berlin wall and the resurgence of Russia, Westerners looked at the situation as an absolute victory. Despite this, the African cosmos has not forgotten colonisation, the interference of Western countries in their internal affairs, and the rigged processes of massive indebtedness of their economies as a way of controlling their strategic natural resources.

2. Recent memory of wars at the beginning of the 21st century: Beyond colonial issues, the African cosmos has been following since 2001 the behaviour of the West (US, NATO, and EU) in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, sweetened by the Arab Springs, attempted coups in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Egypt, etc., without forgetting the massacre in Rwanda and the war in Somalia and Yemen. These wars and coups have destroyed thousands of human lives, social infrastructure, jobs, etc. It was a catastrophe for the entire continent and nearby territories like South East Asia. The existing wars in Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, Mali, Mozambique, DRC, Ethiopia, etc, allow the African cosmos, even those with strong ties to the West like Morocco, for example, not to act frontally against Russia, a fact verified in the recent votes of the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council which suspended it. The expulsion of French forces by the military junta in Mali and their replacement by the Russians through the Wagner group, like the construction of a port for the Russian Nave Arms on the Sudanese Red Sea coast, could be a revealing symptom.

3. The damaging memory of Western unipolarity and the chance for a global multipolar alternative power: For Alfredo Jalife-Rahme, the Ukrainian war is a civil war within Slavic civilisation, through several wars within it: economic-financial, propaganda-media, cultural, biological, radiological, and military war. It is a hybrid war that has ended with globalisation, as confirmed by Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock. For Alfredo Jalife-Rahme, it is not a question of total deglobalisation, but of economic-financial, cybernetic-digital, energy, and commercial deglobalisation. The West was no longer interested in economic-financial globalisation because they lost the battle against China, and cybernetic-digital globalisation (software, etc.) was won by the Indians. This bipolarity also involves the division of the UN Security Council into two blocs: the first composed of the US, UK, France (G7/NATO), and the second of Russia and China (Shanghai Group and BRICS). This situation led to an operational dysfunction of the WTO and led to the resignation of its previous Director General, Roberto Azevedo. In this sense, Jalife-Rahme quotes Philipe Stephens’ article “The world is marching back from globalisation”, where he states that “The US does not see a vital national interest in maintaining an order that transfers power to rivals”. Thus, according to Alfredo Jalife-Rahme, “Everything that is not globalised becomes balkanised”. Thus, the end of globalisation, especially the economic-financial one, as dictated by Larry Fink, will inevitably entail its balkanisation, through two regional blocs, i.e. de-globalisation and bipolar trans-meta-regionalisation, on one side the G7/NATO and EU, and on the other side the BRICS/Shanghai Group and Eurasian Union.

The de-globalisation said by Larry Fink is “neoliberal de-globalisation”, which occurs through the gradual paralysis of global supply chains, which are founded on the reduction of operating costs through outsourcing (relocation of companies) and downsizing (lowering labour costs to increase shareholder profits and value companies in capital markets), according to Alfredo Jalife-Rahme. The African cosmos believes that if Russia, even with nuclear weapons, a continental country with Eurasian tradition, which supplies almost 40% of energy resources and other strategic raw materials to the West, is treated this way, what will become of African countries, which are visibly weaker in military terms? The destruction of Libya for trying to sell oil in Euro and rejecting the USD may be indisputable proof.

The meddling of the West in Africa, beyond colonisation, needs no introduction. The wars and coups d’état in Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sudan, the Central African Republic, the civil war in Angola and other conflicts are facts that remain in the collective memory of the African cosmos. If the colonial memory was tragic, the expressive and aggressive interference of the West in the African cosmos is breaking any remaining trust, for historical reasons (over 400 years of colonisation), by unfair competition in the exploitation of natural resources, the massive interference in internal affairs by the IMF in the financing of road and housing infrastructures, etc., and the attempt to incorporate western values aggressively through sanctions and blackmail, even if these values do not correspond to the African historical-epistemic and gnosiological cosmogony.

4. China and Russia as a financial and military alternative for the existential survival of African countries in a multipolar world in the medium and long term: The African cosmos observes with concern and caution everything that Western leaders do against Russia as a result of the technical-military operation in Ukraine, regardless of the causes, which by common sense is perceived since 2014. The reason for this concern lies in the fact that whenever the West finds itself in crisis or politically, geostrategically, and economically cornered, it uses internal or external wars as a way out, a can be seen in the Roman wars, the colonisation of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the Napoleonic wars, the First and Second World Wars. Faced with the circumstances, the African cosmos shows resistance towards sanctions against Russia, abstaining from votes at the UN, in official pronouncements, that is, maintaining certain strategic neutrality, despite the gigantic Western pressure, forcing them to choose a side as if they were still vassals or colonised. It is not that the African cosmos agrees in its entirety with Russia’s technical-military operation in Ukraine, insofar as, there is a history of invasions in Africa carried out by Westerners, Arabs, Persians, and Ottomans. The main concern is the need for an economic-financial and military alternative to the West for its own existential survival, and to protect itself from possible aggressive interference in the long term, when strategic reserves of Western raw materials reach their limit. The way the West behaved during the Covid19 Pandemic in the context of vaccine distribution policies, by buying in advance almost 80% of all vaccines in production in the world, leaving poor countries without vaccines even to buy for a certain period, and changing their position only when they realised that, the non-global distribution of the vaccines prolonged the pandemic, led to the creation of the COVAX system by the WHO, after harsh criticism from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, stating that, “The growing gap between the number of vaccines offered in rich countries and those administered through COVAX is becoming “more grotesque by the day”. And how could it be otherwise, the gesture of Russia and China in the swift distribution of vaccines and protective medical supplies was taken into account by the African cosmos at the time of decision making. As is well known, China’s economic and Russia’s military presence in Africa is seen as an alternative guarantee to what the West is offering. Since 2002, while the West was distracted with its eternal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Arab Spring, Syria, Libya, etc., China entered Africa in silence, massively funding road infrastructure projects etc., without interference in internal affairs, through the adoption of the “Win-Win” strategy.

Russia, on the other hand, has become the main military alternative, accounting for 49% of total arms exports to Africa by 2020, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) database, to avoid internal conflicts and protect itself from external interference. Paul Stronski confirms that “The rulers of many African countries look to Moscow from Soviet-era links, and Moscow takes advantage of this and manages to maintain its influence. In the case of Algeria [and Angola], this is done by writing off old debts. Sometimes Russia also makes generous promises, assuring that it will build workshops or facilities for manufacturing or maintenance.

The African cosmos serenely realises that a defeat of Russia in Ukraine will lead the world to a more aggressive, self-centred and militarised Western unipolarisation and the weaker countries will have no alternative for survival and existential resistance. The fear of perishing and becoming a colonial space again seems to be more important to the strategists of the African cosmos than Western values about democracy, neoliberalism, capitalism, etc. For the African cosmos, its course and future depend on the economic-financial cover of China and the military cover of Russia, so that there is a certain balance in its relations with the West.

And it considers the situation of Russia and Ukraine as an internal issue between brothers of the same homeland linked historically, culturally, linguistically, and religiously. But it does not mean that it wants a radical change in its strategic relations with the West. It is only a preventive measure of existential survival.

The way the West treats Ukrainian refugees compared to what has been done with African refugees arriving via the Mediterranean and from the Canary Islands via the Atlantic has not been forgotten, as have the Punic wars between Rome and Carthage and the destruction of Libya. These historical events may justify the fear of the African cosmos in resisting in the face of Western pressure to give up its strategic relations with Russia and China.

This neutrality and strategic ambiguity serve to prevent a geostrategic and existential risk for sovereign and independent countries in the medium and long term. And, according to an African adage “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”. Thus, the African cosmos realises that it is grass in this war of titans, and Ukraine only as a geostrategic, geopolitical, geoeconomic, and geofinancial singularity of the hegemonic power struggle between Eurasia and the West. So that may have been the reason they refrained from the sanctions war against Russia, for the lessons learned from their tragic experiences, old and recent, of their relations with the West.

The African cosmos does everything it can to avoid being the grass in the conflict at hand, promoted by the West since 2014, through the coup d’état against Viktor Yanukovich, and the failure to implement the Minsk I and II agreements. Soon, it seems that the African cosmos uses the proverbial philosophy of its ancestors to avoid entering into another’s war, even though it is already feeling the side effects of the increase in the prices of wheat, fertilizers, oil, gas, etc., and the risk of probable retaliations, for disobedience of political guidelines, by the West.

The claim by Macky Sall, President of Senegal and Chairperson-in-Office of the African Union on his recent visit to Russia, in demanding the West remove sanctions affecting Africa’s food security is, without doubt, a clear and unequivocal demonstration of this position. ”

The Musket and the Noodle Stall: A Strategic Comparison

June 23, 2022

Source

By Fred Reed

In big-chunk terms, in the world today we see a contest between the Chinese economy and the American military, between Chinese dynamism and American coercion. Sure, China has a military and the US has an economy. Yet the emphasis, and spirit are as described.

The United States gives priority to the military over civilian economy, with military spending increasing at the expense of internal infrastructure and social needs. By contrast, China focuses on infrastructure within and trade without. I wonder whether Americans are aware of the extent of this. And its likely consequences.

To read the Asian-based press—Asia Times, Nikkei Asia, the South China Morning Post, the Global Times, and various tech sites—is to see a constant stream of infrastructure projects in China and advancing trade outside. As perhaps many know China promotes the Belt and Road Initiative, a massive program to connect all of Eurasia, as well as Africa and Latin America in a huge trade zone connected by rail, highways, fiber optics, maritime links, and commercial treaties. If completed it will dwarf the United States.

China, a rising technological center, leads the world in civil engineering, manufacturing, Five G, trade, and clearly intends to maintain the lead. All power ultimately rests on economic power. Below a few news stories more or less randomly chosen from around the web. Can you think of American equivalents?

China Mandalay Rail Line

“New international railway route from Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality to Mandalay, southern Myanmar, has officially started operation, with the first freight train departing from Chongqing on Monday, which will arrive in Mandalay about 20 days earlier than what it takes on traditional routes.”

The port will also further connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative and increase Chinese influence in Myanmar. Key word: Trade

America leads in phenomenally expensive aircraft carriers with serious developmental problems and no particular purpose. Google “Ford class carriers.”

China’s high-speed rail network hit the 40,000-kilometer mark by the end of 2021, reaching out to 93 percent of domestic cities with a population of over 500,000, An Lusheng, deputy head of National Railway Administration, said on Friday. This comes as the country ramps up a push to build itself into a transportation power.”

Fast, pervasive transportation greatly facilitates almost everything. Beijing has said it will have 30,000 miles in a few years. key words: manufacturing, trade, connectivity.

The first China-Russia highway bridge, which stretches from Heihe, a border city in Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, to the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk spanning the Heilongjiang River, opened to traffic on Friday, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported. It will open a new international highway that will boost the connectivity between cities in China and Russia.“ A few days ago. Here we have more of China’s program to tie all of Eurasia into one interconnected web. Note that it says the “first” bridge. Key words: Trade, connectivity.

China plans new high-volume space-launch facility

“The new Ningbo spaceport, the nation’s fifth such facility, will give a crucial lift to Beijing’s new space programs as its rivalry with the United States reaches space. The spaceport is said to be tailor-made for Chinese commercial aerospace manufacturers and service providers to one day wrest business and foreign orders from US rivals.”

Typical China. Planning five years in advance. If this follows the country’s pattern, construction will begin and continue without interruption until completed. Keyword: Commercial.

America leads the world in overpriced fighter aircraft with a history of unending engineering problems. Google “F-35.”

Cargo carried via New Land-Sea Corridor in western China grows 38% in Jan-May”

“With the RCEP coming into effect, the corridor has played a bigger role in boosting trade between China and ASEAN. On April 8, four trains left Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, carrying aluminum products, agricultural equipment, industrial equipment, chemicals and food to Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia

The RCEP, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, is a vast commercial agreement among whose members are all of ASEAN, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and China.”

Key word: Trade.

Multi-functional modular seabed trencher developed by a Chinese firm has recently completed 100 kilometers of pipelines construction in “Bangladesh’s first marine pipeline project, setting two world records in directional drilling and deep trenching.”

My knowledge of pipeline trenching would be zero even after three cups of coffee and a hearty breakfast. I note, though that it is in Bangladesh: More connection of China and everywhere else. It also sounds like good engineering. Key words: Trade, connectivity.

The CKU Railways will create significant trade opportunities for Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan while linking China directly to the Middle East via Rail, with spin off benefits throughout the region.”

China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan will be tied more into the Central Asian ecosystem. Construction begins next year. Key words: Trade, connectivity.

America is unchallenged in funny-looking Batplane intercontinental nuclear bomber costing, says Aviation Week, $640 million a copy as America prepares to fill intense world demand for nuclear war. Google “B-21.”

The China-Laos Railway: Yunnan to Vientiane by Bullet Train

Written by Coco Yang Updated Feb. 11, 2022

On December 3rd 2021, the 1,035-km (643-mile) China-Laos Railway was fully opened making possible a bullet train journey of only 10 hours from Kunming to Vientiane, capital of Laos. Key word: Trade.

China-Europe freight train trips top 50,000, yearly growth of 55% from 2016 to 2021

“The value of goods transported by the cargo service skyrocketed to $74.9 billion in 2021, up from $8 billion dollars in 2016, and its share in total trade between China and Europe has increased from 1.5 to 8 percent, according to the release China State Railway Group sent to the Global Times.” America will probably try to block this traffic because it goes through Russia. Again, coercion over competition. Key word: Trade, connectivity.

Proposed US military budget: $857 billion. Keywords: Profits, stupidity.

China Hosts over Sixty Percent of World’s Five G Base Stations

“China had set up a total of nearly 1.43 million 5G base stations as of the end of 2021….”

And many more this year. As can be found by browsing tech sites, China leads in Five G patents, installed base, technology, and manufacturing capacity. Keywords: Trade, manufacturing.

Many millions of Americans can’t read, a hundred thousand a year die of opioid overdoses, the economy is a trainwreck, and despair grows, but the Pentagon has Space Command to give America “Total Spectrum Dominance,” which presumably will pay our mortgages.

China’s digital yuan extends usage into finance scenarios

“SHANGHAI, June 17 (Reuters) – China’s digital yuan can now be used to buy wealth management products, pay for insurance policies, and extend bank loans, as the central bank further expands e-CNY’s application beyond retail shopping, though still only in pilot schemes.”

China is the world’s leading major country in digital currency. Beijing is low-key about it but implications for global finance worry the US. Keywords: Money, connectivity.

US leads world in pricey, unnecessary but glamorous and profitable nuclear-missile submarines. Google “Columbia class submarines.”

China moves toward STEM leadership

Worth reading. “American” prowess in technology increasingly rests on East Asian and Indian scientists and engineers as the US destroys its schools to further inclusiveness. Keywords: Abject, stupidity.

Value of China-Vietnam Cross-border Freight Trains More Than Triples in Q1”

US holds world lead in ratio of money given to the Ukraine to number of citizens living on sidewalks.

China leader in supercomputers: “As of June 2021, 188 of the world’s 500 most powerful supercomputers were located in China, a figure which is a third more than that of its nearest competitor, the United States, which accounted for an additional 122 supercomputers. Together, the two nations account for around 60 percent of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.”

This needs to be read with caution. How the two stack up in aggregate computing power, whatever that means, I don’t know. The US just announced the first exascale computer at Oak Ridge. The Sunway Oceanlight from China is on many websites said to be exascale, but isn’t quite. The important point is that it is entirely of Chinese design from architecture to chips, using silicon of Chinese design and manufacture. It is remarkable that China can manage this in the face of American attempts to strangle the country technologically.

China Launches World’s Largest container Ship

A gorgeous monster. Check photo. China also has seven of the world’s largest cargo ports. Keyword: Trade

Trade deficit with China. Boring but worth a glance.

“During 2021, the United States exported $151,065,200,000 in products to China, but then imported $506,366,900,000 in products from China, resulting in $657,432,100,000 in total trade between the two countries–and a $355,301,700,000 deficit for the United States.” Keyword: Can you guess?

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Beggaring Europe: switching cheap Russian gas for expensive American LNG

EU steps to significantly reduce Russian gas imports will see Europe newly dependent on much pricier US liquefied natural gas

June 15 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Daoud Baalbaki

Europe’s dependency on Russian natural gas has been a contentious issue for European Union (EU) policy makers for decades. Dozens of policies have been proposed over the years to diversify the continent’s gas supply, or to switch to green energy sources in order to minimize reliance on Russian gas.

There are only two ways to transport natural gas – via pipelines, or by liquifying the gas, transporting it as cargo, then re-gasifying it at the destination. Both processes require time and considerable infrastructure investment.

Pipelines: In 2021, Russian natural gas accounted for about 46 percent of the EU’s total natural gas imports with an amount of 155 bcm (billion cubic meters). Figure 1 shows that Russian pipelines provided about 41 percent (about 139 bcm) of these gas imports to the EU over the same period.

Norway is Europe’s second-biggest natural gas supplier, followed by pipelines from North Africa and Azerbaijan.

LNG: Imports of LNG constitute about 21 percent of total European natural gas imports.

Figure 2 shows the sources for the LNG shipments that were imported by the EU in 2021. It is important to note that the United States represents the main supplier for LNG to the EU, and is likely to be the main beneficiary if Russian gas pipelines cease operations. The US only commenced exports of LNG to the EU in 2016, but rapidly reached 22.3 bcm in 2021, representing 23 percent of all LNG exports from the US.

Europe’s dependency

Before the conflict in Ukraine, Russia was still a major supplier for LNG in Europe with about 20 percent of the total LNG imports (equivalent to 16 bcm). This means the EU imported a total of 155 bcm of natural gas from Russia annually – 139 bcm via pipelines and 16 via LNG. This accounts for almost half of all European natural gas imports.

This strategic failure in achieving independence from Russian natural gas was mainly due to lack of a coherent and unified strategy among EU members. As shown in Figure 3 the dependency on Russian natural gas varies from one European country to another.

Countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Hungary are fully dependent on Russian natural gas, while the countries that import the largest quantities like Germany, France, Italy Poland, and Greece are semi-dependent, and countries like Portugal are quasi-independent.

With intense pressure from Washington, this issue of over-reliance on Russian resources became further securitized following the conflict in Ukraine. Even after the west announced sanctions on Russian imports, the EU imported 39 billion euros worth of fossil fuel from Russia, until as recently as mid-May.

Reducing reliance on Russia

According to a Flash Eurobarometer survey for the European Commission (EC), 85 percent of Europeans believe that the EU should reduce its dependence on Russian gas and oil as soon as possible to support Ukraine. Meanwhile the EC, international agencies, and independent think tanks have proposed short term plans to decrease the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels by the end of 2022.

The main three short term plans are the EC’s REPowerEU Plan under which two-thirds of Russian gas (101.5bcm/155bcm) could be replaced by next winter; the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) ten-point plan which proposes a one-third (50bcm / 155bcm) reduction of the Russian natural gas imports, finding alternative sources, and switching to renewable energy; and economic think tank Bruegel’s plan which says, in theory, the EU should be able “to replace Russian [gas] flows entirely,” even in the short term, by calculating Europe’s spare gas import capacity. Realistically, however, Bruegel calls for a reduction (86 bcm/155 bcm) by possibly switching electricity production to nuclear and coal, while applying energy saving policies.

What’s the plan?

Essentially, what these plans all have in common is a call for the EU to diversify its natural gas imports portfolio, switch to renewable energy, and apply policies for energy saving. Of the aforementioned plans, the REPowerEU strategy appears to be the most feasible.

The plan suggests cutting Russian natural gas imports to 101.5 bcm from 155 bcm in 2021 – in theory, by increasing non-Russian gas supply by 63.5 bcm, and reducing gas demand by 38 bcm.

To increase non-Russian gas supply by 63.5 bcm, the plan assumes the following can be achieved:

  1. Increase non-Russian LNG imports by 50 bcm
  2. Increase non-Russian pipeline imports by 10 bcm.
  3. Increase biomethane production by 3.5 bcm.

Complimentary to this, they also recommended reducing gas demand by 38 bcm. For this, they proposed 4 points:

  1. Energy savings to cut demand by 14 bcm
  2. Rooftop solar power to reduce gas demand by 2.5 bcm
  3. Heat pumps to reduce gas demand by 1.5 bcm
  4. Deploying wind and solar in the power sector to reduce gas demand by 20 bcm.

The first problem with the EC study is that it expects the demand for gas in Europe in 2022 to remain the same as in 2021. Studies shows that the continent may need around 20-25 bcm more than in the same period last year. So, the target gas requirement is actually 121.5 – 126.5 bcm – not just replacing the Russian imports of 101.5 bcm.

Increasing non-Russian LNG

By far the most important metric here is the EU’s current regasification capacity. As mentioned above, when imported as LNG, the liquified gas needs to be regasified by specialized plants in ports in order to be reinjected into pipelines. All combined, the EU countries had around 74 bcm spare regasification capacity last year.

The problem is that about half this spare capacity is concentrated in Spain and Portugal, which are linked to the rest of the EU with a pipeline of just 7.5 bcm/year capacity. Therefore, the EU has insufficient re-gasification plants to import an additional 50 bcm of LNG.

The proposed solution is to use the UK (now, officially outside the EU) – which has around 29 bcm spare regasification capacity – as a land bridge to import LNG and then reexport it to the EU via pipelines. In this scenario, the EU may succeed in importing an extra 50 bcm of LNG.

But even if Europe overcomes the regasification obstacle, is there enough LNG supply in the world to cover the demand?

Switching dependency from Russia to the US 

Due to many export plants struggling with technical and feed gas issues during the year, global LNG export capacity actually declined in 2021, despite the continued rise in capacity in the US. At the beginning of 2022, it was estimated that the LNG global export capacity will increase by some 43 bcm if all plants that had technical issues and shutdowns were to come back online.

In the second quarter of this year, the International Energy Agency’s gas market report estimated that the EU’s LNG imports may increase by a maximum of 25 bcm and that 65 percent of this quantity will be supplied by the US.

If this transpires, US LNG exports will increase by a whopping 19 percent, making it the global leader of LNG exports overnight. Meanwhile, Africa, Europe, Central and South America and Eurasia will have smaller contributions to global LNG supply growth in 2022, while the supply of the Asia Pacific and West Asian regions are expected to decline.

If we take Qatar as an example, despite its leading role in LNG markets and close relations with western states, Qatar is unable to supply Europe with extra large quantities in the short term because it suffers from a lack of spare LNG export capacity. Furthermore, over 70 percent of these exports are sold to Asian buyers via long term contracts. Europe would have to wait until 2024-25 to be able to count on Qatari LNG supplies.

This high-level demand for LNG projected by Europe will saturate the market and increase the competition for flexible LNG cargoes. In order to attract more LNG cargoes, spot prices in Europe should be $2-3/MMBtu higher than the Asian markets. This is leveling now at $35/MMbtu for the rest of 2022 which is more than five times their five-year average.

The bottom line is that it will be impossible for the EU to increase their LNG imports by the crucial 50 bcm milestone. Even if the EU overcomes the technical issues represented by the regasification capacities and the interconnections between the EU countries and Britain, the supply in the global LNG market simply cannot meet the demand.

Although Europe may receive an extra 25 bcm of LNG, it will come attached to a very high price tag, while prices in North America will be largely unaffected. The US is the big winner in this scenario, raking in exorbitant profits while establishing itself as the world’s biggest LNG exporter.

Where are the non-Russian gas pipelines?

Norway: As the main non-Russian gas supplier of natural gas to Europe via pipelines, Norway’s total capacity of supply is 94.3 bcm per year. Only 86.3 percent of this capacity was used in 2021, theoretically leaving 12.9 bcm of spare annual capacity.

However, in the first two quarters of 2022, the pipelines have been working close to effective full capacity, and this capacity is expected to be lower in the summer, as previous records indicate.

North Africa: The other source of pipeline natural gas to Europe is via three pipelines from North Africa: The Medgaz pipeline from Algeria to Spain, the Trans-Mediterranean Pipeline (also known as Transmed which carries Algerian gas from Tunisia to Italy), and the Green Stream pipeline, from Libya to Italy. A fourth pipeline, the Gas Pipeline Maghreb-Europe (GME), runs from Algeria to Spain via Morocco, but has not been used since 1 November 2021, following the breakdown of diplomatic relations between Algeria and Morocco that August.

The flow in Medgaz pipeline to Spain can increase by around 2 bcm, after increasing its capacity.  These extra quantities can cover a part of the quantities that have been delivered via GME in 2021. However, Algeria has also recently suspended trade ties with Spain over the latter’s decision to side with Morocco over the disputed Western Sahara territory, which has exacerbated tensions between Rabat and Algiers.

The Transmed pipeline to Italy has around 10 bcm spare capacity, but recent analysis shows that Algeria will not be able to offer additional gas quantities since reaching its production capacity and needing to address its own growing domestic demand.

Exports in Libya ranged around 5 bcm before 2020 but declined to 3.2bcm in 2021. A recovery can offer the extra 1-2 bcm, but ongoing political instability in Libya can offer no such guarantees.

As a result, North Africa is not foreseen to provide any extra-large quantities of gas to Europe in 2022.

Azerbaijan: In 2021, the EU started receiving natural gas from Azerbaijan via the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). The capacity of TAP is around 11 bcm, and flows in 2021 totaled 8.1 bcm, meaning there is extra capacity of around 2.5 bcm.

Overall, the EU plan is based on making a year-on-year increase of 2-3 bcm from Azerbaijan, 2-3 from Algeria, and 4-5 bcm from Norway. These appear to be achievable with regards to the pipelines’ spare capacities, but ambitious in terms of gas production quantities for the suppliers.

Trading dependencies

This European demand for non-Russian gas will mainly be covered by the United States which is the only player that stands to gain economically. It is therefore in Washington’s interests that Europe converts a big part of its gas imports from Russian pipelines into LNG. It is also why the US has remained determined for years to stop the Russia-to-Germany NordStream 2 pipeline from becoming operational – which it succeeded in doing in February, as tensions over Ukraine worsened.

As the US has its own independent pricing system, it is not affected by the international gas prices, which are expected to rise significantly in the European and Asian markets, bringing instant value to LNG production activities in the US.

The EU plan to cut two-thirds of its Russian gas imports and replace it elsewhere – by the end of 2022 – is very optimistic. Closer scrutiny shows it will come with a very high cost – around five times the price that Europe used to pay. Whichever plan the EU implements, Europe will have to acknowledge that it will be neither an energy independent or politically independent continent for the foreseeable future.

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

Is US/NATO (with WEF help) pushing for a Global South famine?

June 06, 2022

By Michael Hudson and posted with the author’s permission

Is the proxy war in Ukraine turning out to be only a lead-up to something larger, involving world famine and a foreign-exchange crisis for food- and oil-deficit countries?

Many more people are likely to die of famine and economic disruption than on the Ukrainian battlefield. It thus is appropriate to ask whether what appeared to be the Ukraine proxy war is part of a larger strategy to lock in U.S. control over international trade and payments. We are seeing a financially weaponized power grab by the U.S. Dollar Area over the Global South as well as over Western Europe. Without dollar credit from the United States and its IMF subsidiary, how can countries stay afloat? How hard will the U.S. act to block them from de-dollarizing, opting out of the U.S. economic orbit?

U.S. Cold War strategy is not alone in thinking how to benefit from provoking a famine, oil and balance-of-payments crisis. Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum worries that the world is overpopulated – at least with the “wrong kind” of people. As Microsoft philanthropist (the customary euphemism for rentier monopolist) Bill Gates has explained: “Population growth in Africa is a challenge.” His lobbying foundation’s 2018 “Goalkeepers” report warned: “According to U.N. data, Africa is expected to account for more than half of the world’s population growth between 2015 and 2050. Its population is projected to double by 2050,” with “more than 40 percent of world’s extremely poor people … in just two countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.”[1]

Gates advocates cutting this projected population increase by 30 percent by improving access to birth control and expanding education to “enable more girls and women to stay in school longer, have children later.” But how can that be afforded with this summer’s looming food and oil squeeze on government budgets?

South Americans and some Asian countries are subject to the same jump in import prices resulting from NATO’s demands to isolate Russia. JPMorgan Chase head Jamie Dimon recently warned attendees at a Wall Street investor conference that the sanctions will cause a global “economic hurricane.”[2] He echoed the warning by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in April that, “To put it simply: we are facing a crisis on top of a crisis.” Pointing out that the Covid pandemic has been capped by inflation as the war in Ukraine has made matters “much worse, and threatens to further increase inequality” she concluded that: “The economic consequences from the war spread fast and far, to neighbors and beyond, hitting hardest the world’s most vulnerable people. Hundreds of millions of families were already struggling with lower incomes and higher energy and food prices.”[3]

The Biden administration blames Russia for “unprovoked aggression.” But it is his administration’s pressure on NATO and other Dollar Area satellites that has blocked Russian exports of grain, oil and gas. But many oil- and food-deficit countries see themselves as the primary victims of “collateral damage” caused by US/NATO pressure.

Is world famine and balance-of-payments crisis a deliberate US/NATO policy?

On June 3, African Union Chairperson Macky Sall, President of Senegal, went to Moscow to plan how to avoid a disruption in Africa’s food and oil trade by refusing to become pawns in the US/NATO sanctions. So far in 2022, President Putin noted: “Our trade is growing. In the first months of this year it grew by 34 percent.”[4] But Senegal’s President Sall worried that: “Anti-Russia sanctions have made this situation worse and now we do not have access to grain from Russia, primarily to wheat. And, most importantly, we do not have access to fertilizer.”

U.S. diplomats are forcing countries to choose whether, in George W. Bush’s words, “you are either for us or against us.” The litmus test is whether they are willing to force their populations to starve and shut down their economies for lack of food and oil by stopping trade with the world’s Eurasian core of China, Russia, India, Iran and their neighbors.

Mainstream Western media describe the logic behind these sanctions as promoting a regime change in Russia. The hope was that blocking it from selling its oil and gas, food or other exports would drive down the ruble’s exchange rate and “make Russia scream” (as the U.S. tried to do to Allende’s Chile to set the stage for is backing of the Pinochet military coup). Exclusion from the SWIFT bank-clearing system was supposed to disrupt Russia’s payment system and sales, while seizing Russia’s $300 billion om foreign-currency reserves held in the West was expected to collapse the ruble, preventing Russian consumers from buying the Western goods to which they had become accustomed. The idea (and it seems so silly in retrospect) was that Russia’s population would rise in rebellion to protest against how much more Western luxury imports cost. But the ruble soared rather than sunk, and Russia quickly replaced SWIFT with its own system linked to that of China. And Russia’s population began to turn away from the West’s aggressive enmity.

Evidently some major dimensions are missing from the U.S. national-security think-tank models. But when it comes to global famine, was a more covert and even lager strategy at work? It is now looking like the major aim of the U.S. war in Ukraine all along was merely to serve as a catalyst, an excuse to impose sanctions that would disrupt the world’s food and energy trade, and to manage this crisis in a way that would afford U.S. diplomats an opportunity to confront Global South countries with the choice “Your loyalty and neoliberal dependency or your life – and, in the process, to “thin out” the world’s non-white populations that so worried Mr. Dimon and the WEF?

There must have been the following calculation: Russia accounts for 40% of the world’s grain trade and 25 percent of the world fertilizer market (45 percent if Belarus is included). Any scenario would have included a calculation that if so large a volume of grain and fertilizer was withdrawn from the market, prices would soar, just as they have done for oil and gas.

Adding to the disruption in the balance-of-payments of countries having to import these commodities, the price is rising for buying dollars to pay their foreign bondholders and banks for debts falling due. The Federal Reserve’s tightening of interest rates has caused a rising premium for U.S. dollars over euros, sterling and Global South currencies.

It is inconceivable that the consequences of this on countries outside of Europe and the United States were not taken into account, because the global economy is an interconnected system. Most disruptions are in the 2 to 5 percent range, but today’s US/NATO sanctions are so far off the historical track that price increases will soar substantially above the historic range. Nothing like this has happened in recent times.

This suggests that what appeared in February to be a war between Ukrainians and Russia is really a trigger intended to restructure the world economy – and to do so in a way to lock U.S. control over the Global South. Geopolitically, the proxy war in Ukraine has been a handy excuse for America’s to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The choice confronting Global South countries: to starve by paying their foreign bondholders and bankers, or to announce, as a basic principle of international law: “As sovereign countries, we put our survival above the aim of enriching foreign creditors who have made loans that have gone bad as a result of their choice to wage a new Cold War. As for the destructive neoliberal advice that the IMF and World Bank have given us, their austerity plans were destructive instead of helpful. Therefore, their loans have gone bad. As such, they have become odious.”

NATO policy has given Global South countries no choice but to reject its attempt to establish a U.S. food stranglehold on the Global South by blocking any competition from Russia, thereby monopolizing the world’s grain and energy trade. The major grain exporter was the heavily subsidized U.S. farm sector, followed by Europe’s highly subsidized Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). These were the main grain exporters before Russia entered the picture. The US/NATO demand is to roll back the clock to restore dependency on the Dollar Area and its eurozone satellites.

The implicit Russian and Chinese counterplan

What is needed for the world’s non-US/NATO population to survive is a new world trade and financial system. The alternative is world famine for much of the world. More people will die of the sanctions than have died on the Ukrainian battlefield. Financial and trade sanctions are as destructive as military attack. So the Global South is morally justified in putting its sovereign interests above those of the wielders of international financial and trade weaponry.

First, reject the sanctions and reorient trade to Russia, China, India, Iran and their fellow members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The problem is how to pay for imports from these countries, especially if U.S. diplomats extend sanctions against such commerce.

There is no way that Global South countries can pay for oil, fertilizer and food from these countries and also pay the dollar debts that are the legacy of U.S.-sponsored neoliberal trade policy subject to U.S. and eurozone protectionism. Therefore, the second need is to declare a debt moratorium – in effect, a repudiation – of the debts that represent loans gone bad. This act would be analogous to the 1931 suspension of German reparations and Inter-Ally debts owed to the United States. Quite simply, today’s Global South debts cannot be paid without subjecting debtor countries to famine and austerity.

A third corollary that follows from these economic imperatives is to replace the World Bank and its pro-U.S. policies of trade dependency and underdevelopment with a genuine Bank for Economic Acceleration. Along with this institution is a fourth corollary in the form of the new bank’s sibling: a replacement for the IMF free of austerity junk economics and subsidy of America’s client oligarchies coupled with currency raids on countries resisting U.S. privatization and financialization takeovers.

The fifth requirement is for countries to protect themselves by joining a military alliance as an alternative to NATO, to avoid being turned into another Afghanistan, another Libya, another Iraq or Syria or Ukraine.

The main deterrent to this strategy is not U.S. power, for it has shown itself to be a paper tiger. The problem is one of economic consciousness and will.

  1. “Bill Gates has a warning about population growth,” World Economic Forum/Reuters, September 19, 2018. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/09/africas-rapid-population-growth-puts-poverty-progress-at-risk-says-gates
  2. Lananh Nguyen, “‘It’s a hurricane.’ Bank chiefs warn of a weakening economy,” The New York Times, June 1, 2022. 
  3. Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director, “Facing Crisis Upon Crisis: How the World Can RespondApril 14, 2022. https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2022/04/14/sp041422-curtain-raiser-sm2022. 
  4. “Putin meets with African Union Chairperson at Sochi, June 3, 2022.” President Sall was accompanied by Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/68564. For a elated discussion on the sanctions see https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2022/06/sanctions-now-weapons-of-mass-starvation.html

Lavrov x two

May 30, 2022

Source

Introduction by Amarynth

This posting contains one recent interview and one recent address by Mr Lavrov.  One is extensive and the second contains a few comments not included in the first.  One is directed to an international audience (more specifically the Arab world) and the other to a domestic audience.  Why should we look at these very carefully, and why do we post them on the Saker Blog?   Mr Lavrov is arguably one of the best diplomats in the world today.  In that role, he is a pleasure to read or listen to.  But, that is not the main reason.  He has a fine facility with language and explains exactly Russia’s position and further, the world position in its process toward multipolarity and a new financial system in a pragmatic realpolitik style, undergirded by an encyclopedic knowledge of world affairs.

Sidebar:  While Mr Lavrov is speaking to the Arab countries, his counterpart in China, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, is speaking to all of the smaller Pacific island countries (PICS).  Comparing the welcome that these statesmen receive, it is beginning to clarify that the other geopolitical axis (which we roughly and in shorthand refer to as Zone B)  of this war for the world is active and up and running.  Mr Lavrov mentions the organizations.   It is then worthwhile to mention that BRICS is expected to grow by at least two countries during the next general meeting.  It is expected that Argentina will be next, which will then start including the new Latin American groupings such as Celac (The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) or ALBA-TCP.  Thus we see a coalescence of countries around the principles of international law, the true principles in the UN Charter, and a world community built on cooperation and collective values, instead of one ruler of the world.

First up is an interview with RT Arabic, clearly for an international audience.

Second up is remarks to the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation, clearly a domestic audience.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with RT Arabic, Moscow, May 26, 2022

Question: Your recent visit to Algeria and Oman generated a lot of interest. What can you say about its results? Why did you decide to visit these states?

Sergey Lavrov: We communicate with all interested countries. As for this tour, it was planned long ago. The programme of my visits and their timeframe were coordinated some time ago.

In Algeria, I had good, lengthy talks with President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune and Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra. We emphasised that for many years our relations were based on the Declaration on Strategic Partnership that was signed by our presidents in 2001. Since then we have intensively developed our strategic ties as partners in many areas. It is enough to mention our regular political dialogue, trade (it went up by several percent in 2021 to exceed $3 billion despite the pandemic), the economy, joint investment, our work in the OPEC+ and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, extensive military-technical ties and cultural and humanitarian exchanges.

We concluded (at the prompting of Algeria) that our relations are reaching a qualitatively new level. This should be reflected in a document that is already being drafted. We hope to sign this document when President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune visits Russia at the invitation of President of Russia Vladimir Putin.

We appreciate that the countries of the Arab world are refusing to follow in the wake of the West and are objectively assessing the events in Ukraine and refusing to join the anti-Russia sanctions. They understand that the current situation was caused by the flat refusal of our Western colleagues to reach an accommodation on equal and indivisible security in our common region.

As for Oman, this was the first visit since its new Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said acceded to the throne. The Sultan received me with good grace and devoted much time to me. I was particularly grateful to his Majesty for this gesture (the protocol of the Sultanate of Oman does not envisage communication with ministers in this format). Our detailed talks showed that we have a good potential for developing trade and economic ties. We want to raise them to the level of our trust-based political dialogue. We have many opportunities in energy and ICT and interesting cultural projects. A half-year exhibition of Islamic Art in Russia ended in the National Museum of Oman last March. This museum and the Hermitage have been closely cooperating since 2015. Both museums display their own expositions on each other’s territory.

These two planned visits to both countries at the planned time were useful, in my view.

Question: What about a top-level visit?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already said that during a telephone conversation with President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune, President of Russia Vladimir Putin invited him to visit the Russian Federation. Now we are preparing the documents required for this visit.

Question: And what about Oman?

Sergey Lavrov: No top-level visits are envisaged for Oman for the time being. We are planning to develop practical cooperation, make it more intensive and productive.

Question: Will there be additional agreements on military cooperation?

Sergey Lavrov: Our military-technical cooperation with many countries develops according to their wishes. We are always ready to examine ways to strengthen their defence capabilities. We consider them as we receive relevant requests.

Question: We are talking about Algeria, which also produces both gas and oil. The OPEC+ countries have shown firmness about the previously agreed positions within the organisation on the parameters of oil production and pricing on the oil market. Do you have confidence in the stability of your partners’ position?

Sergey Lavrov: We have discussed our further cooperation not only within OPEC+ but also the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), where Russia and Algeria are also included. All OPEC+ and GECF members without exception publicly affirmed their commitment to the agreements reached in these formats and their intention to continue working in this direction in order to stabilise the energy market.

Question: Where will you visit next?

Sergey Lavrov: The next visit will take place very soon. On May 31 and June 1, based on my invitations, I plan to visit Bahrain first. Later, on June 1, Riyadh will host a regular meeting of the Russia-GCC Foreign Ministers Forum. This forum has been around for a long time. Due to the pandemic, there was a break in our meetings. Now our friends have proposed resuming them. In addition to the Russia-GCC meeting, there will also be bilateral meetings with almost all members of this organisation.

Question: How do you find Arab countries’ position on the Ukrainian crisis?

Sergey Lavrov: Just now, answering the previous question, I said that all Arab countries have a responsible position. This proves that they rely solely on their national interests and are not ready to sacrifice them for the sake of anyone’s opportunistic geopolitical adventures. We have mutually respectful relations. We understand the vital interests of the Arab countries in connection with the threats to their security. They reciprocate our feelings and understand the threats to the security of the Russian Federation that the West has been creating right on our borders for decades, trying to use Ukraine to contain Russia and seriously harm us.

Question: Do you think these countries will continue to pursue this policy, despite the pressure from the West, particularly, from the Anglo-Saxon alliance?

Sergey Lavrov: The arrogance of the Anglo-Saxon alliance has no limits. We are offered evidence of that every day. Instead of delivering on their obligations under the UN Charter and honouring, as is written in this charter, the sovereign equality of states and abstaining from interfering in their domestic affairs, the West churns out ultimatums every day, issuing them through their ambassadors or envoys to each, without exception, capital not only in the Arab world but in other regions of the world as well, and, in so doing, blatantly blackmailing them, citing some subjective situations. The West is directly threatening their interlocutors, saying they will regret failing to join the sanctions against Russia and will be punished for this. It is blatant disrespect for sovereign countries. The reaction of Arab countries and almost all other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America that we are seeing shows that these countries do not want to disregard their national dignity, running errands, in a servile manner, for their senior colleagues. This situation is yet another example of colonial thinking. The habits of our Western colleagues have not vanished. In their traditional style, the United States and Europe are still preaching the colonial customs they adhered to at a time when they could dictate to all others. It is wrong and regrettable, and flies in the face of the historical process, which objectively shows that a multipolar world is taking shape now. It has several centres of economic growth, financial power and political influence. Everyone understands now that China and India are fast-growing economies and influential countries, just like Brazil and other Latin American countries. The tapping of Africa’s enormous potential of natural resources has been held back by the colonialists during the period of neo-colonialism as well, which is not over yet. That is why Africa is also making its voice heard. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Arab world is objectively one of the pillars or one of the centres of a multipolar world that is being shaped now.

Question: We are talking about good relations between Russia, China and India. Can these countries form an alliance against US hegemony?

Sergey Lavrov: We never form alliances against anyone and never make friends with someone against others. We have a ramified network of partner organisations established many years ago. I will mention the organisations established after the Soviet Union’s disintegration. These are the CIS, the CSTO, the EAEU and the SCO on a broader geopolitical plane. The SCO has established and is developing close ties with the EAEU and as part of the linkage of Eurasian integration projects with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. The EAEU and the PRC have signed an agreement. The linkage of these integration projects is embracing more and more territories. Thus, in addition to EAEU-SCO cooperation, these organisations have memorandums on cooperation with ASEAN. The Greater Eurasia project (or the Greater Eurasia Partnership) should embrace the whole of Eurasia. President of Russia Vladimir Putin spoke about this at the Russia-ASEAN summit six years ago. It is based on the processes on the ground and has a Eurasian dimension.

Many countries of the Arab world are interested in establishing partner relations with the SCO that represents all other leading sub-regions of our enormous common continent. These are efforts to build constructive and positive (not antagonistic) alliances that are not aimed against anyone. They are gradually acquiring a global character, which is reflected in the development of the BRICS Five (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Our Saudi friends and Argentina are interested in it. Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero expressed his country’s desire to become a full member of BRICS.

BRICS is preparing for a regular summit. It will create an outreach format in which a dozen developing nations will take part. These processes are underway. We know that our Western friends have many phobias and complexes of their own superiority and infallibility. But they are also paranoid. The West sees opposition and a threat to its domination in any process in which it does not take part and which it does not control. It is time to get rid of these manners and customs.

Question: What about the recent Russia-China military exercises? What do they show?

Sergey Lavrov: This is the continuation of our cooperation aimed at enhancing security in this region. They supplement regular military undertakings: drills and training sessions with counterterrorism aims, efforts to strengthen the security of our common borders within the SCO. Russia-China bilateral military cooperation already has a long history. This is not the first year that we are holding events in the zone of our common borders where our security interests directly overlap; we do it regularly. They show that both Russia and China have a responsible attitude to fulfilling these tasks.

Question: Despite the evidence cited by Russia, the development of biological weapons by the United States in Ukraine has not evoked any concern in the West. What should be done for the world to understand how dangerous this is? The Arab press writes about the historical importance of Russia’s efforts to show how these laboratories operate.

Sergey Lavrov: This is a direct violation of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons. Enjoying support of all countries except the US, we have long been advocating the formation of a universal transparent verification mechanism within its framework that would allow all states to be sure that no participants of the Convention violate it. The United States has simply blocked this initiative since 2001 (for more than 20 years). Now it is clear why it occupies this position. During all these years, the Americans have been setting up their military bio laboratories all over the world. The Pentagon’s unit – the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) – is in charge of these activities. In developing a network of such laboratories, the Pentagon is focusing on the post-Soviet space and Eurasia. Available information shows that these laboratories have been or are being established along the perimeter of the Russian Federation and closer to the PRC. We initially suspected that the experiments made in these laboratories were not entirely peaceful and innocent. When the Russian Armed Forces and the militias of Donetsk and Lugansk liberated Mariupol during the military operation, they discovered laboratories left by the Americans in a rush. The Americans tried to get rid of documents and samples but didn’t destroy all of them. The samples of pathogens and the documents found there clearly pointed to the military character of these experiments. It is clear from the documents that there are several dozen such laboratories in Ukraine. We are pursuing two goals. First, we will convince the UN Security Council to take seriously the information we presented to it (you noted that the overwhelming majority of the developing nations do take it seriously). Second, we want this information to lead to specific actions that must be taken under the Biological Weapons Convention. It requires that the United States explain what it was doing there. We held five special briefings in the UN Security Council, one of them quite recently. We will work to make the US take specific actions proceeding from its commitments under the Convention. We will also analyse additional information about the involvement of other countries in these experiments and military bio laboratories in Ukraine. According to some sources, these are Great Britain and Germany.

Question: If you don’t mind my asking, where are other similar laboratories located in the vicinity of Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: No, I don’t mind. There are such laboratories in Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Central Asian countries. Russia and these countries have been analysing these problems both bilaterally and at the CSTO. We are signing (or have signed, or are preparing) memorandums on interaction in biological security with practically all CSTO and other CIS countries.  These documents stipulate that the signatories will inform each other of how biological programmes develop in each country.

What is important is transparency, which makes it possible to ascertain that these programmes have no military dimension, since this is prohibited under the Convention. These memorandums imply that the parties will pay mutual visits and familiarise themselves with the activities conducted by these laboratories.  In addition, it is stipulated that there should be no military representatives of any third party at the biological facilities in each of our countries.

Question: How are these countries motivated in having such laboratories? Will this bring them any material or political benefits?

Sergey Lavrov: The USSR pursued a large-scale biological programme. After the Soviet Union joined the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, this programme was stripped of its military aspects, but the scientific value of the biological research is retained.  We all remember the state in which this country was in 1991, when the USSR ceased to exist. We faced the problem of preserving the Russian Federation’s integrity. There were no state reserves to repay the national debt or even to purchase the basic necessities for the Russian population’s everyday life. At that time, our Western partners “hopped to it,” as we say, offering their services in all areas of life. They penetrated all spheres of the newly independent states, sending their advisers and advice-givers. Today we are experiencing the aftermath of those times. Major changes have occurred. There are no Soviet republics, which became independent overnight. They had no experience of independent international activity. But now all of this is a thing of the past. All the post-Soviet republics have consolidated their stand, asserting themselves as absolutely sovereign, independent states.  They decide what partners to choose on their own. We have agreements with them to the effect that the commitments assumed within the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and the Eurasian Economic Union should be fully respected by other countries interested in developing relations with all post-Soviet states. We discussed the problems that all of us encountered during the emergence of the new statehood.  Various agencies exchange information about the risks involved in this sweeping cooperation with foreign countries in sensitive spheres. Biology is, of course, one of these spheres.  There is awareness that we have a unified biological security space. The CSTO’s purview includes security issues that are directly related to public health and the environment.  We will continue our constructive cooperation based on these statutes.

Question: Turkey and Italy have proposed a plan for organising talks between Russia and Kiev. Is Russia ready to continue the talks, which have not yielded any results lately?

Sergey Lavrov: We pointed out on numerous occasions that our Western colleagues want to use Vladimir Zelensky and all citizens of Ukraine to the last Ukrainian, which has become proverbial, to damage Russia as much as possible, to defeat it on the battlefield. This has been openly declared in Washington, Berlin, London and especially loudly in Warsaw. Poland has proposed that the Russian world must be destroyed like a “cancer” which is a deadly threat to the whole world. I would like to look at this world as it is represented by our Polish neighbours. For many years Russia has tried to explain why NATO’s eastward expansion and the drawing of Ukraine into the bloc are unacceptable to us. They listened to us but did not comprehend what we said.

When the coup was staged in 2014, the [Ukrainian] opposition trampled on the agreements reached despite the EU’s guarantees. The EU proved unable to force the putschists to respect the signatures of France, Germany and Poland. In 2015, the war in Donbass unleashed by the new Ukrainian authorities, who seized power in the coup, was stopped. The Minsk agreements were signed and guaranteed by France and Germany. All these years we called on Kiev to honour its commitments. Since the West had the decisive influence on it, we also worked with the Europeans and Americans, appealing to their conscience. Regrettably, they have no conscience.

Instead of forcing Kiev to implement the agreements, which should have been done through a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk, the West tried to justify Zelensky and his team, even when they said publicly that they would never talk with “those people,” although this is stipulated in the UN Security Council resolution approving the Minsk agreements. They said that they would never implement the Minsk agreements or give a special status to these republics. At the same time, they adopted laws that prohibited the Russian language in education and media. Media outlets were shut down. The Russian language was even prohibited in everyday life. Only the Ukrainian language was allowed as the medium of interaction between people in Ukraine.

Moreover, Vladimir Zelensky stated that those who feel Russian must go to Russia. He said this in September 2021. We drew the attention of some Western countries, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the relevant UN bodies to these aggressively Russophobic and racist statements made in the spirit of the neo-Nazi policy which was gaining a foothold in the Ukrainian legislation. They did not react in any way. Some officials sometimes called for respect for international commitments. But Zelensky doesn’t give a damn about international commitments or the Constitution of Ukraine, which guarantees the rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine. They showed no respect for the Constitution and international conventions and adopted a lot of anti-Russian laws.

As for Russia’s readiness for talks, we have already explained why we couldn’t sit on our hands any longer. What we found on the Ukrainian army positions during the special military operation proved that we were barely in time with starting it, because Ukraine’s Plan B was to be enacted on March 8. A huge group of the Ukrainian armed forces, which was deployed on the contact line with Donbass by mid-February, planned to attack and occupy these territories in flagrant violation of the Minsk agreements and the UN Security Council resolution.

I have no doubt that had they succeeded the West would have turned a blind eye to these violations, just as it pretended not to notice Kiev’s disregard for all the agreements during the previous eight years.

When the Ukrainian authorities proposed negotiations several days after the operation began, we agreed immediately. We held several in-person rounds of talks in Belarus, trying to understand Ukraine’s position and what it wants to achieve at the talks, because we had presented our approach. After several rounds were held in Belarus and online, the idea of meeting in Istanbul was put forth, and the Ukrainian delegation brought, for the first time, written proposals signed by the head of the delegation to the meeting we held on March 29. We analysed these proposals, reported our opinion to President Putin and told our Ukrainian colleagues that we were ready to proceed on that basis. Since they didn’t present a complete agreement but only its individual provisions, we used them to quickly draft an agreement that was based on the Ukrainian proposals and turned it over to the Ukrainian delegation. The following day a flagrant provocation was staged in Bucha, where dead bodies were found in the streets three days after Russian troops had left the city, after three days of peaceful life. We were accused of killing those people. You remember what happened next.

The West adopted a new package of sanctions, as if it had been waiting for it to happen. The Ukrainians said that they had reviewed their position and would reformulate the principles underlying the agreement. Nevertheless, contacts between us continued. The latest draft agreement, which we submitted to Ukraine nearly a month ago, is gathering dust. If you ask who wants to hold and is ready for talks, Vladimir Zelensky said in an interview the other day (he does this almost every day) that he is ready for talks, but they must be held between himself and Vladimir Putin, because there is allegedly no use doing this at any other level. He said the talks should be held without any intermediaries and only after Ukraine resumed control of its territory as of February 23, 2022. Anyone can see that this is not serious. But it suits the West to keep up this unreasonable and unsubstantiated obstinacy. This is a fact.

The West has called for defeating Russia on the battlefield, which means that the war must continue and that increasingly more weapons must be provided to the Ukrainian nationalists, to the Ukrainian regime, including weapons that can hit targets in the Russian Federation. It is such weapons that Vladimir Zelensky demands publicly. We have issued most serious warnings to the West that it is, in fact, fighting a proxy war against the Russian Federation with the hands, bodies and brains of the Ukrainian neo-Nazis, which can become a major step towards an unacceptable escalation. I hope that the remaining reasonable forces in the West are aware of this.

As for Turkey and Italy, Turkey doesn’t have a plan. At least nobody has presented it to us, although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has noted on many occasions that Turkey is ready to provide a venue just as it did in Istanbul on March 29.  In fact, it was a useful contact. For the first time the Ukrainians presented their vision of a peace agreement on paper in response to our numerous requests, which we accepted and translated into the legal language. I have told you what happened after that. President Erdogan stands for peace and is ready to do all he can to bring it about. But Vladimir Zelensky has said that he doesn’t need intermediaries. That’s his business. He is as fickle as the wind: first, he rallied the support of all the G7 countries, and now it appears that former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is creating an advisory group at Kiev’s request that will provide proposals on security guarantees for Ukraine in the context of a peace settlement.

I would like to remind you that initially the Ukrainians’ concept was to draft a comprehensive agreement which would include Ukraine’s pledge not to join any blocs or have nuclear weapons, as well as guarantees of its neutral status. It would also stipulate the guarantor countries’ guarantees that will take into account the security interests of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and other countries in the region. As I have mentioned, Kiev is moving away from that concept. If Andreas Fogh Rasmussen has been recruited to formulate certain “guarantees” in a narrow circle of the Ukrainian regime’s Western sponsors and to subsequently try to submit them to Russia, it is a path that leads nowhere.

Question: Is this a non-paper? Just an initiative of former [NATO] officials?

Sergey Lavrov: We are looking into this now. This has already been promoted as a breakthrough step. The same applies to the Italian initiative.  Luigi Di Maio is quite active in the media landscape promoting the Italian four-point initiative. All we know about it is that it can bring the long-awaited peace, and not just suit both Russia and Ukraine, but launch something like a new Helsinki process, a new agreement on European security, and that it already enjoys the support of the G7 and the UN Secretary-General. I don’t know whether this is true, or to whom he has shown it. No one has sent us anything. All we can go by is speculation, descriptions of this initiative as they appear in the media.

But what we have read (if it is true, of course) makes us regret that the sponsors of this initiative show so little understanding of what is happening or knowledge of the subject, the history of this matter. Allegedly, it says that Crimea and Donbass should be part of Ukraine, which should grant those regions broad autonomy. Serious politicians who want to achieve results, not just grandstand to impress their voters, cannot be proposing such things. Donbass could have returned to Ukraine a long time ago if the Ukrainian regimes (Petr Poroshenko, and then Vladimir Zelensky) had fulfilled the Minsk agreements and granted a special status to the people that refused to accept the coup. The package included the status of the Russian language. However, instead of granting that status, Ukraine banned the Russian language. Instead of unblocking economic ties, Poroshenko announced a transport embargo on those regions, making retirees travel many kilometres to receive their pension benefits.

This Italian initiative you asked me about – as reported by the media – also calls for launching a new Helsinki process, in addition to reconciliation between Russia and Ukraine, to ensure the safety of everyone and everything.  Our colleagues in Rome came to their senses too late. The Helsinki process has given a number of important gains to the world, to our region, to the Euro-Atlantic region, including declarations signed at the highest political level, at the OSCE summits, in particular in Istanbul in 1999, in Astana in 2010 – declarations on indivisible security. Those documents said security can only be equal and indivisible. Further elaborating on this, they said all participating states have the right to be or not to be a party to treaties of alliance, but no country can join any alliances or otherwise strengthen its security if it affects the security of any other state. The third component of this formula is that no country, no organisation in the OSCE area will claim to dominate security issues.

Anyone familiar with the situation in Europe understands that Western countries have been grossly violating the key components of that commitment by strengthening their security in violation of Russia’s right to its own security. They claim that only NATO can call the tune in this region, and no one else. We have tried to make those beautiful political words become reality, to make them work rather than keep them on paper signed off by the presidents of the United States and European countries. We proposed making that political commitment legally binding. As far back as in 2009, we proposed an agreement to NATO countries. They said they wouldn’t even discuss it because only NATO could provide legal security guarantees. When we asked about the OSCE’s role, they said those were just political promises and slogans. That showed how Western politicians treat the signatures of their presidents. But we did not stop there.

We made another attempt last year. In November 2021, President Vladimir Putin instructed his team to draft new documents to agree with the United States and NATO on the principles that would be approved by all at the highest level. We drafted those treaties and transferred them to Washington and Brussels in early December 2021. Several rounds of negotiations followed. I met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. We were told that we could discuss the arms control agenda, but NATO expansion was not our business or anybody’s business, for that matter. When we again quoted their commitment not to strengthen their security at the expense of others, they dismissed that as immaterial. What mattered was NATO’s so-called open door policy. We have warned them repeatedly – in 2009, then in 2013, 2014 (when a coup d’état occurred in Ukraine), and in 2015 (the Minsk agreements). All these years, we have been telling our Western colleagues that it will end badly because they continue to ignore our legitimate interests and rudely tell us no when we ask them to take us into consideration – not somewhere tens of thousands of kilometres away, but right on the borders of the Russian Federation. This arrogance, this air of being exceptional, this colonial mentality (I can do anything and you will do what I tell you) is not manifested only in their attitude to our interests.

Remember 1999, when the United States suddenly decided that Yugoslavia, lying 10,000 kilometres away from its coasts, posed a threat to its security? They bombed it to dust in a heartbeat. They used OSCE Mission leader William Walker from the United States to loudly declare that several dozen corpses discovered in the village of Racak were a crime against humanity. As it turned out later, these corpses were not civilians, but militants who were disguised as civilians and scattered around the place.

The same setup was used in Bucha near Kiev on April 3. It works regardless of whether the public finds it convincing or not. They didn’t need to convince anyone. They bombed Yugoslavia, created an independent Kosovo violating every OSCE principle in the process and then said it would be like that from then on.

They said no after the referendum in Crimea. According to them, self-determination in Kosovo is a good thing, but self-determination in Crimea is not. This is being done as if nothing were wrong. No one is even blushing, although it’s a shame for Western diplomacy which has lost its ability to provide elegant explanations for their grossly reckless moves.

In 2003, the United States decided that a threat was coming from another country located 10,000 kilometres away and produced a vial with what I think was tooth powder. Poor Colin Powell later lamented that he had been set up by the intelligence. Several years later, Tony Blair, too, said it was a mistake, but nothing could be done about it. Nothing can be done about it. They bombed the country killing under a million civilians. Until now, Iraq’s integrity has not been restored. There are enough problems there, including terrorism, which did not exist there before. Indeed, Iraq and Libya were authoritarian regimes, but there were no terrorists, ongoing hostilities, or military provocations.

Libya is on that list, as well. In 2011, President Obama said that they would be “leading from behind” Europe.  France, the most democratic nation in the Old World (freedom, equality, fraternity), led the NATO operation to destroy the regime. As a result, they destroyed the country. It is hard to put it back together now. Again, the French are trying to do so as they come up with initiatives, convene conferences and announce election dates. All in vain, because, before going in, they needed to think about what would become of Libya after the West ensured its “security” in that country.

I’m citing this example not to say: they can, but we can’t. That would be simplifying matters. What I’m saying is that the Western countries believe that the entire world is part of their security, and they must rule the world.

As NATO was crawling up to Russia’s borders, it told us not to be concerned about it, since NATO is a defensive alliance and does not threaten our country’s security. First, this sounds like a diplomatic effrontery. We must decide for ourselves on our security interests, just like any other country. Second, NATO was a defensive alliance when there was someone to stand up to like the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. There was the Berlin Wall between Western and Eastern Europe. Everyone was clear about the line of defence. After the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union ceased to exist, any lieutenant with basic training knew there was no longer any such thing as a defence line. All you need to do now is live a normal life based on shared values and a common European space.

We put our signature under multiple slogans including “from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean,” “from Lisbon to Vladivostok,” and “we are brothers and sisters now.” However, they retained their military nature as they continued to move the “line of defence” closer to our borders. We have just had an in-depth discussion on the outcomes of this policy. In recent months, the NATO Secretary General and warmongering politicians like the British Foreign Secretary have been publicly stating that the alliance must have global responsibility. NATO must be in charge of security in the Pacific. This may mean that next time NATO’s “defence line” will move to the South China Sea.

Not only NATO, but the EU leaders also decided to “play soldiers.” Ursula von der Leyen, who is rivalling EU top diplomat Josep Borrell in terms of bellicosity, claimed that the EU must be in charge of security matters in the Indo-Pacific region. How are they going to accomplish this? They keep talking about an EU “army.” No one will let them create this “army” as long as NATO exists.

To all appearances, no one is going to even reform NATO. They are going to turn this “defensive alliance” into a global alliance claiming global military dominance. This is a dangerous path that is definitely doomed to failure.

Question: To what extent are these developments affecting the Russian army’s presence in Syria?

Sergey Lavrov: We are present in Syria at the request of the legitimate President of the Syrian Arab Republic and the legitimate government of that country. We are there in full compliance with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and are addressing the tasks set by UN Security Council Resolution 2254. We will stick to this policy and support the Syrian government in its efforts to fully restore Syria’s territorial integrity. The armed forces of the countries that no one had invited to Syria are still deployed there. Until now, the US military, which has occupied a significant portion of the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, is openly building a quasi-state there and is directly encouraging separatism taking advantage of the sentiment of a portion of the Kurdish population of Iraq. Problems are arising between the various entities that unite the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds. All of that intensifies tensions in this region. Of course, Turkey cannot stay on the sidelines.

We want to address these issues solely on the basis of respect for Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We are talking to the Kurds. We have channels which we use to communicate with all of them. We encourage them to take a closer look at recent developments where the United States promised something to someone and then failed to deliver. Starting a serious dialogue with Damascus and agreeing on arrangements of living in a single state is a much more reliable approach even from these purely pragmatic considerations, not to mention international law.

Of course, Russia will continue to provide humanitarian aid. The United States is trying to keep the crisis situation unchanged and to encourage the sides to resume hostilities. The notorious Caesar Act is designed to strangle the Syrian economy. We see that a growing number of Arab countries are starting to understand the utter futility of this policy and are interested in resuming relations with Syria. Recently, the UAE restored its embassy’s activities in full. A number of Arab countries have never withdrawn their embassies from Damascus. Preparations are underway for a summit of the League of Arab States, which I discussed with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. The vast majority of the League members (as far as we can tell from our contacts) are in favour of a solution that will make it possible to resume Syria’s full Arab League membership.

Refugees are another issue. The UN mediators are trying to get involved in this matter, but the United States and the compliant Europeans are doing their utmost to make the return of these people impossible. Remember when Syria held a conference in Damascus a couple of years ago to raise funds and make it possible for the refugees to return, the Americans went out of the way to keep everyone from attending this conference. Not everyone listened to them and about 20 countries, primarily Arab countries, as well as the People’s Republic of China and other countries, took part in it.

The UN showed its weakness by refusing to participate in that conference and only sending its representative in Damascus to sit there as an observer. That decision hit the United Nations’ reputation hard because its Resolution 2254 explicitly calls for the return of refugees. Both the UN Secretariat and the Secretary-General personally have an obligation to contribute to this directly. Until recently, the European Union held its own conferences on refugees (and they were not devoted to creating conditions for their return, but to raising money to pay the host countries). The purpose of those conferences was to make the current situation permanent and prevent any chance of positive developments in Syria. Yet, the Secretary-General did not just send representatives to them, but participated in these conferences as a co-chair. We have been pointing out that serious misinterpretation of his direct responsibilities.

As for the process that is taking place in Geneva, including the Constitutional Committee, its Drafting Commission – I keep in touch with Geir Pedersen, who represents the UN as a mediator in this process. He visited Russia not long ago. We also communicate through our mission in Geneva. There is an agreement that the next meeting of the Drafting Commission will begin at the end of May. I believe that President Bashar al-Assad’s recent decision to grant amnesty to Syrians charged with terrorism-related crimes was an important positive step. As far as I understand, a lot of work has been done, and the amnesty was announced. It will be a good chance to see how it goes. Geir Pedersen as well as many of our Western colleagues said Bashar al-Assad should take some steps. Okay. Whatever prompted the Syrian president’s decision, he did take a step. Let’s reciprocate now. Let Geir Pedersen talk to the opposition and those who control it, and persuade them to show some constructive action in this regard.

Question:  Is Russia keeping the same number of troops in Syria?

Sergey Lavrov: We have not had any requests from the Syrian government. If any such decisions are deemed expedient, they will be implemented. The numbers on the ground are determined by the specific objectives our force is tasked with there. It is clear that there are practically no military objectives left, but only ensuring stability and security. As for the remaining military objectives that the Syrian army is working for, with our support – there is the terrorist threat in Idlib, and it has not gone anywhere. Our Turkish friends and neighbours are trying, as they are telling us, to fulfil what presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on a few years ago. As we all see, things are going hard. This objective remains on the agenda. However, thanks to the actions by our contingent and the Syrian armed forces, we have not seen any provocations from Idlib lately targeting the Syrian army strongholds or our bases in Syria.


Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 38th meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation, Moscow, May 27, 2022

Colleagues,

We are holding a regular meeting of the Foreign Ministry’s Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation. The meeting is taking place against the background of the special military operation in Ukraine, which is being conducted in connection with the tasks set by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, tasks involving the protection of civilians, the elimination of the Ukraine-posed security threats to the Russian Federation, and the denazification of this kindred country whose people have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of a regime which encourages extreme neo-Nazi sentiments and practices.

You see the United States and its satellites double, triple and quadruple their efforts to contain Russia with the use of a broad range of tools, from unilateral economic sanctions to utterly false propaganda in the global media space. Popular Russophobia has taken on an unprecedented scale in many Western countries, where, to our regret, it is nurtured by government circles.

Under these circumstances, it is of crucial importance that the foreign policy course approved by President Vladimir Putin is based on a broad national accord and supported by the key political forces of Russia and the leading public and entrepreneurial associations. We also feel daily the support from all Russian regions. This country is witnessing the consolidation of all healthy and patriotic forces. This is an important aspect of the present stage.

Colleagues,

At our last meeting, we discussed regions’ cultural diplomacy. The recommendations that we approved have made it possible to give a new impetus to international cultural ties maintained by Russian regions and expand the geographical reach and range of partners (of Russia’s republics, regions and territories). But the situation has changed since that time: the West has declared a total war on us and the entire Russian world. No one is concealing this any longer.

The cancel culture directed at Russia and all things Russian is reaching the apogee of absurdity. Russian greats, including Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy and Alexander Pushkin, are banned. Russian cultural figures and artists representing our culture today are persecuted.

It may safely be said that this situation is here to stay. We should be ready to accept the fact that it has revealed the West’s true attitude to those fine-sounding slogans concerning human values and the need to create a united Europe, a “common European home” stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, which were put forward 30 years ago after the end of the Cold War. Today we see the true worth of all these empty words.

Let us not become self-complacent. Under the current circumstances, we need a detailed analysis of the Foreign Ministry’s effort to promote cooperation with civil society, including at the level of regions.

A sufficiently effective system of collaboration between the Foreign Ministry and non-profit organisations focusing on international issues has been established. For example, the recent assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy has clearly demonstrated the high expert potential of scientific diplomacy. Our joint work has made it possible to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the highly intricate and complex developments in the world.

That said, the presence of NGOs from regions at international venues is insignificant. However, the inclusion of certain regional NGOs in Russian delegations to the UN General Assembly has been a success. This experience shows that this partnership has a promise. We would like to make it regular and broad in nature.

I would like to highlight a number of priority areas concerning interaction with civil society institutions:

1. Mobilising Russian NGOs’ capabilities to promote recovery and to provide humanitarian aid to residents of the DPR and the LPR, as well as the liberated Ukrainian territories.

2. Engaging public diplomacy channels for outreach activities with constructive international partners, including stepping up efforts to debunk fakes about the special military operation and promoting our views in social media and the blogosphere.

3. Using NGO resources, in particular, regional associations of entrepreneurs and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to minimise the consequences of unilateral sanctions, and to promote ties with the friendly countries, primarily, our allies and like-minded partners in the CSTO, the SCO, the CIS, the EAEU and BRICS.

On a separate note, regional consultative mechanisms with the participation of top executives from national cultural associations are working productively. Clearly, this helps maintain inter-ethnic and inter-religious peace and accord. I think broader use of this set of tools should be made in order to strengthen business ties with the expat communities’ countries of origin, primarily in the CIS.

4. Working with our compatriots residing abroad is particularly important. They are at the forefront of dealing with the phenomenon known as Neanderthal Russophobia. Our foreign-based communities are facing unprecedented pressure and are being discriminated against on national and linguistic grounds. In spite of everything, our compatriots are holding their own and bravely defending their right not to sever contacts with the Motherland even in the most challenging times. The Immortal Regiment drive that took place in over 80 countries, including the United States and Europe, clearly showed it. Our duty is to continue to support our compatriots, and we count on the regions’ proactive moves in this regard.

It is gratifying to know that many regions, in particular, Moscow, St Petersburg, Tatarstan, Crimea, the Altai Territory and the Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi autonomous areas (the list goes on) are effectively working with the Russian expat communities and their coordinating bodies. The most recent examples include the Moscow Government holding, in conjunction with other regions, round table discussions on the topic “Interactions with compatriots abroad at the regional level.” Such events took place in certain regions, in particular, Kaliningrad in late March, and Khabarovsk and Vladikavkaz in April. More such meetings will be held this year. We strongly support these initiatives and will sponsor such events. We are ready to provide advice to our colleagues from non-governmental organisations on the corresponding issues. We will update them on the situation of their compatriots, including instances of their legal rights being violated.

5. The developments in Ukraine confirm the importance of continued efforts to counteract the falsification of history and glorification of Nazism. The absurd content of modern Ukrainian school textbooks is a case in point. However, the problem is not limited to Ukraine. The West does not stop trying to pit the peoples of the former Soviet Union against each other through a biased interpretation of historical facts.

The other day the German government approved plans for a World War II and the German Occupation of Europe documentation centre. At first glance, this concept raises serious questions regarding its historical truthfulness. The planned centre is structured not only to downplay the Soviet Union and the Soviet people’ decisive role in defeating German Nazism, but also to play down the crimes committed by the Third Reich against the Soviet people. These themes are not indicated in the planned expositions. The plans also contain language that seeks to equate German criminals to liberators of Europe. This is yet another step within the policy adopted by modern Berlin which seeks to rewrite the history of World War II and to rehabilitate the Third Reich.

It is important to focus on preserving the common chapters of history, primarily, the Great Patriotic War, and to promote shared memories of the war and the fallen war hero search movement, as well as the ongoing CIS historians’ dialogue on existing platforms.

Proper resources and staff are required in order to overcome these challenges, and the broad involvement of NGOs that should be issued targeted grants and subsidies to this end as well. Let’s not forget about this, either.

Many Russian regions are addressing these issues adequately, including through the use of extrabudgetary sources. We are ready to support this work and supplement these initiatives with increased funding from the federal budget.

In conjunction with Rossotrudnichestvo and the Civic Chamber, we will continue to help the regions use public and people’s diplomacy in the interest of promoting our foreign policy.

Vladimir Putin addressed the plenary session of the 1st Eurasian Economic Forum

May 26, 2022

First Eurasian Economic Forum

Also attending the meeting were Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov, Prime Minister of Belarus Roman Golovchenko, and Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Mikhail Myasnikovich. The forum moderator was Alexander Shokhin, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, member of the Presidium of the EAEU Business Council.

The purpose of the Eurasian Economic Forum, established by a decision of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council and timed to coincide with a meeting of the SEEC, is to further deepen economic cooperation between the EAEU member states.

The EEF 2022 in Bishkek, themed Eurasian Economic Integration in the Era of Global Shifts: New Investment Opportunities, will focus on promising areas for the strategic development of integration. The participants will discuss ways to deepen industrial, energy, transport, financial, and digital cooperation.

* * *

Address at the plenary session of the 1st Eurasian Economic Forum.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: I am grateful for this opportunity to address you, to speak on the issues which you [Alexander Shokhin] have raised and which, as you suggested, should be addressed in greater detail.

First of all, I would like to thank President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov and his team for organising this event. I can see many people in the audience, including businesspeople and government officials. I am sure that the media will take a keen interest in the forum.

This is what I would like to begin with when answering your question. The development of Eurasian integration has no connection whatsoever to current developments or market conditions. We established this organisation many years ago. In fact, we established it at the initiative of the First President of Kazakhstan [Nursultan Nazarbayev].

I remember very well the main conversation we had on that issue, on that subject, when he said, “You must choose what is more important to you: working more actively and more closely with your direct neighbours and natural partners, or prioritising, for example, admission to the World Trade Organisation.” It was in this connection that we had to make decisions.

And although we were interested in joining the WTO and in developing relations accordingly with our Western partners, as you said and as I continue to say, we nevertheless regarded as our main priority the development of relations with our direct and natural neighbours within the common economic framework of the Soviet Union. This is my first point.

The second. Already at that time, we started developing ties – I will speak about this later – within the framework of the Greater Eurasian Partnership. Our motivation was not the political situation but global economic trends, because the centre of economic development is gradually – we are aware of this, and our businesspeople are aware of this – is gradually moving, continues to move into the Asia-Pacific Region.

Of course, we understand the tremendous advantages of high technology in advanced economies. This is obvious. We are not going to shut ourselves off from it. There are attempts to oust us from this area a little but this is simply unrealistic in the modern world. It is impossible. If we do not separate ourselves by putting up a wall, nobody will be able to isolate such a country as Russia.

Speaking not only about Russia, but also about our partners in the EAEU and the world in general, this task is completely unfeasible. Moreover, those who are trying to fulfil it harm themselves the most. No matter how sustainable the economies of the countries pursuing this shortsighted policy are, the current state of the global economy shows that our position is right and justified, even in terms of macroeconomic indicators.

These advanced economies have not had such inflation for the past 40 years; unemployment is growing, logistics chains are breaking and global crises are growing in such sensitive areas as food. This is no joke. It is a serious factor affecting the entire system of economic and political relations.

Meanwhile, these sanctions and bans are aimed at constraining and weakening the countries that are pursuing an independent policy, and they ate not limited to Russia or even China. I do not doubt for a second that there are many countries that want to and will pursue an independent policy and their number is growing. No world policeman will be able to stop this global process. There will not be enough power for this and the desire to do so will evaporate due to a host of domestic problems in those countries. I hope they will eventually realise that this policy has no prospects whatsoever.

Violating rules and norms in international finances and trade is counterproductive. In simple words, it will only lead to problems for those who are doing it. Theft of foreign assets has never done any good to anyone, primarily those who are engaged in these unseemly deeds. As it has transpired now, neglect for the political and security interests of other countries leads to chaos and economic upheavals with global repercussions.

Western countries are sure that any persona non grata who has their own point of view and is ready to defend it can be deleted from the world economy, politics, culture and sports. In fact, this is nonsense, and, as I said, it is impossible to make this happen.

We can see it. Mr Shokhin, as a representative of our business, you certainly face problems, especially in the field of supply chains and transport, but nevertheless, everything can be adjusted, everything can be built in a new way. Not without losses at a certain stage, but it leads to the fact that we really become stronger in some ways. In any case, we are definitely acquiring new skills and are starting to focus our economic, financial, and administrative resources on breakthrough areas.

True, not all the import substitution goals were achieved in previous years. But it is impossible to achieve everything: life is faster than administrative decisions, it develops faster. But there is no problem. We have done everything necessary in key areas that ensure our sovereignty.

Let us move on. After all, import substitution is not a pill for every ill, and we are not going to deal exclusively with import substitution. We are just going to develop. But we will continue to arrange import substitution in those areas where we are forced to do so. Yes, maybe with some mixed results, but definitely we will only become stronger thanks to this, especially in the field of high technologies.

Look, after the CoCom lists – I have already spoken about this many times – after what you said about our work, for instance, within the same former G8 and so on, restrictions still remained. In the most sensitive areas, everything was still closed. In fact, fundamentally – I want to emphasise this – nothing has changed fundamentally.

These issues related to large-block assemblies and so on, it took so much effort to increase localisation within the country, in our economy, in the real sectors of the economy, in industry. And even then we did not agree on key issues in many respects.

Actually, import substitution was necessary

to create not just assembly shops, but also engineering centres and research centres. This is inevitable for any country that wants to increase its economic, financial and ultimately political sovereignty. It is inevitable.

This is why we have been doing it, and not because the current state of affairs demands it from us, but simply because life itself demanded this, and we were active.

And, of course, we will work actively within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union and within the CIS in general, we will work with the regions of Asia, Latin America and Africa. But I assure you, and you can see it yourselves, many of our companies from Europe, our partners from Europe, have announced that they are leaving. You know, sometimes when we look at those who are leaving, we ask ourselves: isn’t it a good thing that they have left? We will take up their niches: our business and our production – they have matured, and they will safely take root on the ground that our partners have prepared. Nothing will change.

And those who want to bring in some luxury goods, they will be able to do so. Well, it will be a little more expensive for them, but these are people who are already driving Mercedes S 600, and will continue to do so. I assure you, they will bring them from anywhere, from any country. That is not what is important for us. What is important for the country, for its development – I have already said this and I will repeat it – are the engineering centres and research centres that are the basis of our own development. This is what we must think about and what we must work on both within the EAEU and in a broad sense with our partners – those who want to cooperate with us.

We have a very good base that we inherited from the old days, we only need to support it and to invest resources there. As for those areas, in which we did not invest appropriate resources before, including, say, administrative resources, relying on the fact that everything can be bought by selling oil and gas, life itself has now forced us to invest there.

And thank God that this has happened. I do not see any problem here with the fact that we have not completed something in the field of import substitution. We will not do it just because the current economic situation forces us to do so, but only because it is in the interests of our country.

The Eurasian Economic Union has developed a roadmap for industrialisation, with over 180 projects with a total investment of over $300 billion. A programme for agricultural development has been prepared, including more than 170 projects worth $16 billion.

Russia has something to offer here, and businesspeople are well aware of this. We have grown to be highly competitive at the global level, in the global markets. Russia remains – if we speak about agriculture – the largest exporter of wheat, number one in the world. Until recently, we were buying it – now we are selling it, number one in the world. True, countries such as the United States or China produce even more, but they also consume more. But Russia has become number one in international trade.

Our high-tech industries are growing successfully, too. And we would like to continue growing together with our EAEU partners. We can and should restore our collaborative competencies.

I have discussed this with my colleagues, with the President of Kazakhstan and the Prime Minister of Armenia – not because some of Russia’s IT workers have moved to Armenia, not at all. They are free to relocate and work anywhere, and God bless them. But again, it is a certain challenge for us: it means we must create better conditions.

We have opportunities to work with the Republic of Belarus in a number of areas of cooperation, and we will definitely do this, because the Republic of Belarus has retained certain expertise that is very important for us, including in microelectronics. President Lukashenko and I just met in Sochi and talked about it, and even agreed to set aside funding for those projects in Belarus. The products that these enterprises, these industries will make will enjoy demand in Russia. This is a very interesting and promising area.

The EAEU countries have laid the foundation for a common digital landscape, including a unified products traceability system. Various platform solutions are being developed, for example, the Work without Borders search system. The project is very important for all our countries. Despite all the crises and challenges caused by the current political situation, labour migrants continue to send almost as much money home from Russia as before. Moreover, some countries are receiving even more money now, as my colleagues from the CIS have told me.

The practice of payments in national currencies is expanding, which is very important. Notably, their share in the mutual trade of the Union’s countries has already reached 75 percent. We will continue to work on interlinking our national payment systems and bank cards.

We believe it is important to expedite the dialogue on internal international financial and payment mechanisms, such as transitioning from SWIFT to direct correspondent contacts between the banks of the friendly countries, including through the Russian Central Bank’s financial messaging system. We also propose strengthening cooperation with key lending and financial centres in the Asia-Pacific Region.

New topics related to Eurasian integration include developing cooperation in green technology, environmental protection and energy saving. We expect to receive support and proactive suggestions from the business community.

Colleagues,

In the current international conditions when, unfortunately, traditional trade and economic links and supply chains are being disrupted, Russia’s initiative to form a Greater Eurasian Partnership– an initiative we have been discussing for many years – is gaining a special meaning.

We are thankful to the leaders of the EAEU countries for supporting this proposal from the very beginning. BRICS members such as China and India as well as several other countries also supported creating a Greater Eurasian Partnership. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, ASEAN and other organisations have shown interest in this initiative.

Here, I would like to mention several specific ideas pertaining to the comprehensive development of the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

First, it is reasonable to develop shared institutions for specific growth points, including creating a Eurasian export centre and trade houses, expediting the establishment of a Eurasian reinsurance company, examining the issue of developing special trans-border economic zones, probably even with supranational authority.

The second point. It is important to step up the EAEU’s cooperation with foreign partners and inform them about the benefits and advantages of working with the EAEU and of our key projects and plans. My colleagues know that interest in our association is growing. In this context, the EAEU Business Council could play a significant role. It is already successfully developing ties beyond our union. Its business dialogue system may become an example for a potential business cooperation platform in Greater Eurasia.

That said, as I have already noted, it would be desirable to support the freedom of business initiative, the creative activity of business, of our investors. I suggest creating additional, better incentives for this purpose and investing more in Eurasian projects. Naturally, the companies representing national businesses of the EAEU countries must receive priority support.

My third point. It is time to draft a comprehensive strategy for developing large-scale Eurasian partnership. It must reflect the key international challenges facing us, determine future goals and contain instruments and mechanisms for achieving them. We must consider further steps in developing our system of trade and investment agreements, in part, with the participation of the SCO, ASEAN and BRICS member countries.

In fact, we may draft new agreements that will develop and supplement WTO rules. In this context, it is important to pay attention not only to tariffs but also to the removal of non-tariff barriers. This may produce considerable results without subjecting our national economies to risks.

In conclusion, I would like to say the following. It would be no exaggeration to say that Greater Eurasia is a big civilisational project. The main idea is to create a common space for equitable cooperation for regional organisations. The Greater Eurasian Partnership is designed to change the political and economic architecture and guarantee stability and prosperity on the entire continent – naturally, taking account of the diverse development models, cultures and traditions of all nations. I am confident, and this is obvious anyway, that this centre would attract a big audience.

I would like to wish success and productive cooperation to all participants of the Eurasian Economic Forum.

Thank you for your attention. Thank you.

China to receive two million barrels of Iranian oil, despite US sanctions

Iran has been cooperating with China, Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba in order to bypass the effects of US economic sanctions

May 19 2022

(Photo credit: Press TV)

ByNews Desk

China is scheduled to receive around two million barrels of Iranian crude oil this week that it will pump into an oil terminal in the Zhanjiang city of Guangdong province, southwest of the country.

The oil will be discharged by the Diona crude oil carrier owned by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), according to Vortexa Analytics, an agency that specializes in tanker tracking.

“This would be the third Iranian oil cargo destined for government stockpile following two similar-sized shipments in December and January,” the agency reported.

Despite ongoing economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the US, China has been purchasing large amounts of Iranian oil over the past two years.

Iran plays a crucial role in the Belt and Road Initiative, a mega-infrastructure and economic initiative launched by Beijing to link the economies of Europe, Asia, and Africa, with an eye on expanding to Latin America.

Over recent years, Iran has played an instrumental role in cooperating with other countries to overcome the effects of punitive US sanctions.

On 3 May, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas to discuss energy relations and ways to overcome the repercussions of US sanctions unilaterally imposed on the two countries.

Venezuela and Iran have recently stepped up energy cooperation to overcome sanctions, with Venezuela importing condensate and thinners from Iran.

Back in January, an Iranian supertanker started discharging about two million barrels of Iranian condensate at the main port of Venezuela’s state-run oil company, as part of a bilateral deal that defies the US sanctions imposed on both nations.

On 17 May, UN Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan said the US must lift economic sanctions on Iran due to the harmful impact they have on the Iranian people.

“I call on the United States to abandon unilateral sanctions,” the UN special rapporteur told a press conference in Tehran.

Douhan went further, saying that the application of “extra-territorial sanctions on Iranian companies or companies working with Iran or paying Iran in dollars is illegal under international law.”

The UN official said she would address her concerns over the legality of US sanctions in her final report, to be published at a later date.

FM Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 30th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy

May 16, 2022

Moscow, May 14, 2022

Mr Lukyanov,

Mr Karaganov,

Colleagues,

I am glad to be here again, at this anniversary assembly. Last time, we met in this room on October 2, 2021. But I have an impression that this was in a totally different historical epoch.

I would like to congratulate you on the 30th anniversary of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy. Its activities are a fine example of Russian expert involvement in the foreign policy process. From the very start, the Council has brought together professionals, including politicians, state officials, journalists, academics, and entrepreneurs.  Throughout these years, this has ensured an effective and rewarding combination of practical experience and impeccable knowledge of the subject matter. Therein lies the key to comprehending the most complex international processes, particularly at stages like the present one. Advice, analytical materials, and debates (occasionally heated debates involving a clash of opinions) are of much help to us. We invariably take them into consideration in our foreign policy activities.

It is a cliche to say that this meeting is taking place at a historical turning point. I agree with the experts (Mr Karaganov and Mr Lukyanov have written a lot about this), who say that we again have to choose a historical path, like we did in 1917 and 1991.

The external circumstances have not just changed radically; they are changing ever more profoundly and extensively (though not becoming more elevated, unfortunately) with each passing day. And our country is changing along with them. It is drawing its conclusions. The choice we have taken is made easier by the fact that the “collective West” has declared a total hybrid war against us. It is hard to forecast how long this will last. But it is clear that its consequences will be felt by everyone without exception.

We did everything in our power to avoid a direct conflict. But they issued a challenge and we have accepted it. We are used to sanctions. We have been living under one or another form of sanctions for a long time now. The surprising thing is a surge of rabid Russophobia in almost all “civilised” countries. They have thrown to the wind their political correctness, propriety, rules, and legal norms. They are using the cancel culture against all things Russian. All hostile actions against our country are allowed, including robbery. Russian cultural figures, artists, athletes, academics, businesspeople and just ordinary citizens are exposed to harassment.

This campaign has not bypassed Russian diplomats. They often have to work under extreme conditions, occasionally with a risk to their health or life. We do not remember anything like the current massive and synchronised expulsion of diplomats happening even in the grimmest Cold War years. This is destroying the general atmosphere of relations with the West. On the other hand, this is freeing up energy and human resources for work in the areas with which our country’s future development should be associated.

In accordance with the demands of the times, we are carrying out our professional duties conscientiously and to the fullest extent. There are no traitors among our diplomats, although such attempts have been made from abroad and within the country. We do our best to defend the rights and interests of Russian citizens abroad. When the West hysterically reacted to the beginning of our special military operation and all flights were cancelled, we immediately helped Russians who were abroad at the time to return home. The routine consular services to Russians (of which there have always been many) are provided as always. It is clear that the situation demands that the diplomatic service works in a special regime. This is required by the new tasks set by the country’s leadership to protect national interests.

This is not only and not so much about Ukraine, which is being used as an instrument to contain the peaceful development of the Russian Federation in the context of their course to perpetuate a unipolar world order.

The Americans started preparing the current crisis long ago, right after the end of the Cold War, having decided that the way to global hegemony was then open. NATO’s eastward expansion has been one of the key components of such a course. We tried hard to convince them not to do this. We showed where and why our red lines are drawn. We were flexible, ready to make concessions and look for compromises. All this proved futile. President Vladimir Putin reminded us of this once again in his speech on May 9 on Red Square.

Today Western countries are ready to oppose Russia, as they now say, “to the last Ukrainian”. At first glance, this is a very convenient position, especially for the United States, which is managing these processes from across the ocean. At the same time, they are weakening Europe by clearing its markets for its goods, technologies and military-technical products.

In fact, the situation has many layers. Russia, the United States, China and all others realise that it is being decided today whether the world order will become fair, democratic and polycentric, or whether this small group of countries will be able to impose on the international community a neo-colonial division of the world into those who consider themselves “exceptional” and the rest – those who are destined to do the bidding of the chosen few.

This is the aim of the “rules-based order” concept that they have sought to introduce into general circulation for years. No one has seen, or discussed, or approved these “rules”, but they are being imposed on the international community. As an example, let me quote a recent statement by US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, who called for a new Bretton Woods framework and said that the United States would practice “the friend-shoring of supply chains to a large number of trusted countries” that shared “a set of [liberal] norms and values about how to operate in the global economy.” The hint is absolutely clear: the US dollars and the “benefits” of the international financial system are only for those who follow these American “rules.” Dissenters will be punished. Clearly, Russia is not the sole target, all the more so as we will fight back. The attack is aimed at all those capable of conducting an independent policy.  Take, for example, Washington’s pet Indo-Pacific strategy, which is directed against China. In parallel, it seeks to firmly and reliably harness India to the US and NATO. In the spirit of the Monroe doctrine, the United States wants to dictate standards to Latin America. The inevitable question is whether the Americans are really able to follow the key principle of the UN Charter, which states: “The Organisation is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.”

The “rules-based order” envisions neither democracy, nor pluralism even within the “collective West.” The case in point is the revival of tough bloc discipline and an unconditional submission of the “allies” to Washington’s diktat. The Americans will not stand on ceremony with their “junior partners.” The EU will finally lose all attributes of independence and obediently join the Anglo-Saxon plans to assert the unipolar world order, while sacrificing the Europeans’ quality of life and key interests in order to please the United States. Just recall how Victoria Nuland defined the EU’s place in Washington’s plans to reformat Ukraine in her conversation with the US Ambassador in Kiev in December 2013, at the height of the Maidan riots. Her prediction came true in its entirety. In security matters, the EU is also blending in with NATO, which, in turn, is making increasingly louder claims about its global ambitions. What defensive alliance? We are being told and assured to this day that NATO’s expansion is a defensive process and threatens no one. The Cold War defence line ran along the Berlin Wall – concrete and imagined – between the two military blocs. Since then, it has been moved east five times. Today, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, and others are telling us that NATO has a global responsibility to solve security problems, primarily in the Indo-Pacific region. As I understand it, the next defence line will be moved to the South China Sea.

It is being insinuated that NATO as the vanguard of the community of democracies should replace the UN in matters of international politics, or at least bring global affairs under its sway. The G7 should step in to run the global economy and from time to time invite benevolently the extras the West needs at this or that moment.

Western politicians should accept the fact that their efforts to isolate our country are doomed. Many experts have already recognised this, even if quietly and off the record, because saying this openly is “politically incorrect.” But this is happening right now. The non-Western world is coming to see that the world is becoming increasingly more diverse. There is no escaping this fact. More and more countries want to have a real freedom to choose their development ways and integration projects to join. An increasing number of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are refusing to abandon their national interests and to pull chestnuts out of the fire for the former parent countries. An overwhelming majority of our partners, who have felt the effects of Western colonialism and racism, have not joined the anti-Russia sanctions. The West, which President Putin described as the “empire of lies,” has not been considered an ideal of democracy, freedom and well-being for a long time. By plundering other countries’ material assets, the Western countries have destroyed their reputation of predictable partners who honour their commitments. Nobody is safe from expropriation and “state piracy” now. Therefore, not just Russia but also many other countries are reducing their reliance on the US dollar and on Western technologies and markets. I am sure that a gradual de-monopolisation of the global economy is not a distant future.

We have taken note of Fyodor Lukyanov’s article published in the newspaper Kommersant (on April 29, 2022), in which he writes, with good reason, that the West will not listen to us or hear what we have to say. This was a fact of life long ago, before the special military operation, and a “a radical reorientation of assets from the west to other flanks is a natural necessity.” I would like to remind you that Sergey Karaganov has been systematically promoting this philosophy by for many years. It is perfectly clear to everyone that the process has begun and not on our whim – we have always been open to an equal dialogue – but because of an unacceptable and arrogant behaviour of our Western neighbours, who have followed Washington’s prompting to “cancel Russia” in international affairs.

Forging closer ties with the like-minded forces outside of what used to be referred to as the Golden Billion is an absolutely inevitable and mutually driven process. The Russia-China relations are at their all-time high. We are also strengthening our privileged strategic partnerships with India, Algeria, and Egypt. We have taken our relations with the Persian Gulf countries to a whole new level. The same applies to our relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as other countries in Asia-Pacific, in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

We are fully aware of the fact it is at this juncture, which perfectly lends itself to be called a turning point, that the place for Russia and all other countries and forces in the future international architecture will be determined.

We believe the aim of Russia’s diplomacy is, on the one hand, to act with great resolve to fend off all adversarial attacks against us, while, on the other hand, to consistently, calmly and patiently reinforce our positions in order to facilitate Russia’s sustained development from within and improve the quality of life for its people. There is much to be done, as usual. We always have a packed agenda, but in the current environment we are witnessing a serious shift in the mindsets of many of our comrades in all spheres of Russia’s life. This makes meetings held by the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy especially useful because they help nurture ideas which make their way into Russia’s foreign policy.

Is Europe Really More Civilized? Ukraine Conflict a Platform for Racism and Rewriting History

April 4, 2022

CBS correspondent Charlie D’Agata has prompted backlash after comparing violence in Afghanistan to the invasion of “relatively civilized” Ukraine. (Photo: video grab)

By Ramzy Baroud

When a gruesome six-minute video of Ukrainian soldiers shooting and torturing handcuffed and tied up Russian soldiers circulated online, outraged people on social media and elsewhere compared this barbaric behavior to that of Daesh.

In a rare admission of moral responsibility, Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to the Ukrainian President, quickly reminded Ukrainian fighters of their responsibility under international law. “I would like to remind all our military, civilian and defense forces, once again, that the abuse of prisoners is a war crime that has no amnesty under military law and has no statute of limitations,” he said, asserting that “We are a European army”, as if the latter is synonymous with civilized behavior.

Even that supposed claim of responsibility conveyed subtle racism, as if to suggest that non-westerners, non-Europeans, may carry out such grisly and cowardly violence, but certainly not the more rational, humane and intellectually superior Europeans.

The comment, though less obvious, reminds one of the racist remarks by CBS’ foreign correspondent, Charlie D’Agata, on February 26, when he shamelessly compared Middle Eastern cities with the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, stating that “Unlike Iraq or Afghanistan, (…) this is a relatively civilized, relatively European city”.

The Russia-Ukraine war has been a stage of racist comments and behavior, some explicit and obvious, others implicit and indirect. Far from being implicit, however, Bulgarian Prime Minister, Kiril Petkov, did not mince words when, last February, he addressed the issue of Ukrainian refugees. Europe can benefit from Ukrainian refugees, he said, because “these people are Europeans. (…) These people are intelligent, they are educated people. This is not the refugee wave we have been used to, people we were not sure about their identity, people with unclear pasts, who could have been even terrorists.”

One of many other telling episodes that highlight western racism, but also continued denial of its grim reality, was an interview conducted by the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, with the Ukrainian Azov Battalion Commander, Dmytro Kuharchuck. The latter’s militia is known for its far-right politics, outright racism and horrific acts of violence. Yet, the newspaper described Kuharchuck as “the kind of fighter you don’t expect. He reads Kant and he doesn’t only use his bazooka.”If this is not the very definition of denial, what is?

That said, our proud European friends must be careful before supplanting the word ‘European’ with ‘civilization’ and respect for human rights. They ought not to forget their past or rewrite their history because, after all, racially-based slavery is a European and western brand. The slave trade, as a result of which millions of slaves were shipped from Africa during the course of four centuries, was very much European. According to Encyclopedia Virginia, 1.8 million people “died on the Middle Passage of the transatlantic slave trade”. Other estimations put the number much higher.

Colonialism is another European quality. Starting in the 15th century, and lasting for centuries afterward, colonialism ravaged the entire Global South. Unlike the slave trade, colonialism enslaved entirepeoples and divided whole continents, like Africa, among European spheres of influence.

The nation of Congo was literally owned by one person, Belgian King Leopold II. India was effectively controlled and colonized by the British East India Company and, later, by the British government. The fate of South America was largely determined by the US-imposed Monroe Doctrines of 1823. For nearly 200 years, this continent has paid – and continues to pay – an extremely heavy price of US colonialism and neocolonialism. No numbers or figures can possibly express the destruction and death toll inflicted by Western-European colonialism on the rest of the world, simply because the victims are still being counted. But for the sake of illustration, according to American historian, Adam Hochschild, ten million people have died in Congo alone from 1885 to 1908.

And how can we forget that World War I and II are also entirely European, leaving behind around 40 million and 75 million dead, respectively. (Other estimations are significantly higher). The gruesomeness of these European wars can only be compared to the atrocities committed, also by Europeans, throughout the South, for hundreds of years prior.

Mere months after The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949, the eager western partners were quick to flex their muscles in Korea in 1950, instigating a war that lasted for three years, resulting in the death of nearly 5 million people. The Korean war, like many other NATO-instigated conflicts, remains an unhealed wound to this day.

The list goes on and on, from the disgraceful Opium Wars on China, starting in 1839, to the nuclear bombings of Japan in 1945, to the destruction of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, in 1954, 1959 and 1970 respectively, to the political meddling, military interventions and regime change in numerous countries around the world. They are all the work of the West, of the US and its ever-willing ‘European partners’, all done in the name of spreading democracy, freedom and human rights.

If it were not for the Europeans, Palestine would have gained its independence decades ago, and its people, this writer included, would have not been made refugees, suffering under the yoke of Zionist Israel. If it were not for the US and the Europeans, Iraq would have remained a sovereign country and millions of lives would have been spared in one of the world’s oldest civilizations; and Afghanistan would have not endured this untold hardship. Even when the US and its European friends finally relented and left Afghanistan last year, they continue to hold the country hostage, by blocking the release of its funds, leading to actual starvation among the people of that war-torn country.

So before bragging about the virtues of Europe, and the demeaning of everyone else, the likes of Arestovych, D’Agata, and Petkov should take a look at themselves in the mirror and reconsider their unsubstantiated ethnocentric view of the world and of history. In fact, if anyone deserves bragging rights it is those colonized nations that resisted colonialism, the slaves that fought for their freedom, and the oppressed nations that resisted their European oppressors, despite the pain and suffering that such struggles entailed.

Sadly, for Europe, however, instead of using the Russia-Ukraine war as an opportunity to reflect on the future of the European project, whatever that is, it is being used as an opportunity to score cheap points against the very victims of Europe everywhere. Once more, valuable lessons remain unlearned.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

النتائج المرتقبة للأزمة الأوكرانية…

 الإثنين 28 آذار 2022

 زياد حافظ

العملية العسكرية الواسعة التي تقوم بها روسيا في أوكرانيا لها تداعيات مفصلية على صعيد التوازنات الدولية والإقليمية كما أنها تعيد رسم الخرائط السياسية والاقتصادية والثقافية. النتائج الأولية لتلك العملية، التي لم تنته عند إعداد هذه المقاربة تدلّ بوضوح على التغييرات التي رُصدت منذ عدّة سنوات ولكنها لم تكن ظاهرة للجميع. فالغرب في أفول متسرّع والامبراطورية الأميركية في حال تفكّك تنذر بانهيارات داخلية تضع وجود الولايات المتحدة قاب قوسين على الأقل بالنسبة للشكل التي نعرفها.

فالنتائج على الصعيد السياسة والاقتصاد، دوليا وإقليميا، انعكست على التحالفات القائمة وعلى بروز تحالفات جديدة. فعلى صعيد التحالفات القائمة نرى التصدّع داخل أوروبا الغربية بين الدول ومؤسسة الاتحاد الأوروبي، كما نرى تصدّعا بين الدول الأوروبية البارزة كألمانيا وفرنسا مثلا مع الولايات المتحدة رغم التحليلات التي تفيد أن قبضة الولايات المتحدة ازدادت بسبب العملية العسكرية الروسية وضرورة تأمين “وحدة الصف”. فهذه “الوحدة” التي كانت هشّة قبل الأزمة زادت في هشاشتها رغم المظاهر. فدول مثل المانيا وفرنسا أصبحت في واجهة المتلقي للعقوبات التي تفرضها الولايات المتحدة على روسيا سواء على الصعيد الصناعي أو الطاقة أو المال. والسردية الإعلامية ضدّ روسيا في الدول الأوروبية لن تصمد أمام الواقع الاقتصادي الجديد الذي تفرضه سياسة العقوبات التي بدأت مفاعيلها ترتدّ على الدول الأوروبية على صعيد ارتفاع أسعار السلع بشكل عام والطاقة بشكل خاص. فأوروبا تستورد حوالي الثلثين من حاجاتها الغازية والنفطية من روسيا حيث لألمانيا حصة الأسد (40 بالمائة من حاجاتها الغازية تأتي من روسيا).

أما على صعيد التحالفات الجديدة فنرى تقارباً لم يكن متوقّعاً بين الهند والصين وخاصة بعد التهديدات التي أطلقتها مؤخراً إدارة بايدن تجاه الهند. وفي أميركا الجنوبية هناك توجه واضح نحو تقارب مع كلّ من روسيا والصين. أما في أفريقيا، فالدول الأفريقية بدأت تقدّر النموذج الروسي الصيني في العلاقات الدولية المبني على القانون الدولي ومبدأ “رابح رابح” للجميع. تجلّى ذلك بعدم الموافقة على المشاركة في العقوبات التي تريد فرضها الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد الأوروبي على روسيا. أما التصعيد الأميركي المتمثل بمعاقبة كل من يخالف قرارها ويستمر في التعامل معها فكان الردّ الروسي ومعه دول الكتلة الاوراسية بعرض نظام مالي خارج الدولار. ما زلنا في بداية الطريق لنظام مدفوعات جديد خارج الدولار ولكن النتيجة الفورية هي تخفيف وطأة التهديدات الأميركية بعزل الدول “المتمرّدة” عن منظومة السويفت.

هنا لا بدّ لنا من الإشارة إلى أنّ المواجهة القائمة في أوكرانيا هي في الحقيقة مواجهة كونية تأخذ عدة أشكال متكاملة وليست متناقضة. فهي مواجهة بين الرأس المالية الصناعية المتحالفة مع الاشتراكية ((روسيا والصين ومن يتماهى معهما) والرأس المالية التي تتعاطى فقط في المال (الغرب). وهي أيضا بين العولمة المالية (الغرب) والعولمة المبنية على الهويات القومية والخصوصيات. وهي مواجهة بين رؤية للنظام العالمي المبني على “القيم والأحكام” (الغرب) ورؤية مبنية على القانون الدولي (روسيا، الصين ودول الجنوب الإجمالي). هي مواجهة بين الاقتصاد الفعلي الإنتاجي والاقتصاد الافتراضي المالي الريعي. هذه بعض من المواجهات في السياق الفعلي للصراع القائم والتي كل واحدة منها تستحق مقاربة منفصلة قد نقدمها في مرحلة لاحقة.

الغرب لا يعتبر روسيا منه

وفي خطاب في غاية الأهمية الذي القاه الرئيس الروسي في 16 آذار/ مارس أعلن فيه القطيعة الرسمية مع الغرب بشكل عام على الصعيد الاقتصادي والسياسي. أشار الرئيس الروسي في خطابه إلى القرصنة التي مارسها الغرب تجاه الموجودات والأصول المالية الروسية ما قطع شريان الثقة بالمؤسسات والقوانين الغربية. وشّجع المستثمرين الروس في الغرب على العودة إلى روسيا والعمل في روسيا لأن الغرب سيسرق أموالهم كما فعلت الولايات المتحدة والمملكة المتحدة بحق الأموال الإيرانية والفنزويلية والليبية ما يدلّ على الاستسهال في سرقة من يعتبرونهم دونهم حضاريا. الغرب لا يعتبر روسيا من الغرب بل جزءاً من الشرق البغيض. حروب البلوبونيز اليونانية الفارسية في العصور القديمة قبل الميلاد وحملات الفرنجة على بلاد الشرق واستعمار كل هذه الدول من قبل الغرب دلائل تؤكّد على العنصرية المتجذّرة وانعدام معايير الاخلاق عند النخب الحاكمة الغربية.

هذه القطيعة مع الغرب بشكل عام ومع أوروبا الغربية بشكل خاص تعني أن سلامة الاقتصادي الأوروبي مهدّدة بشكل بنيوي سينعكس بشكل تلقائي على الاستقرار الاجتماعي والسياسي في تلك البلدان. فإذا كان تجميد الأصول المالية والاحتياطي الروسي الموجود في الغرب مظهرا من “مظاهر القوّة” فإن ذلك يعكس أيضا سذاجة الغرب الذي وقع ضحية لتلك العنجهية. فلا يمكننا أن نقرأ ونفهم ما حصل إلاّ من منظور لاعب الشطرنج الماهر الذي يضحّي عن قصد وتعمّد لبيدق في افتتاح اللعبة ليحقق مكسباً استراتيجياً في السيطرة على وسط طاولة الشطرنج. هذا ما يُعرف ب “مناورة الملكة” أو (queen gambit). فالرئيس الروسي وفريقه خطّطا للعملية العسكرية على الأقل منذ 2014 وبالتالي كانا يدركان أن الغرب سيقدم على مصادرة الأموال كما حصل مع إيران عندما قامت الثورة الإسلامية، وكما صادرت أموال ليبيا، وفي ما بعد أموال فنزويلا ومؤخرا أموال أفغانستان. تسرّعت حكومات الغرب بوضع اليد على الأصول الروسية ولكن بالتالي قالت لمعظم العالم أن الأموال المودعة في المصارف الغربية أموال تقوم بقرصنتها متى شاءت. هذا سيسهّل إقامة منظومة مدفوعات مالية دولية جديدة خارج إطار سيطرة الغرب بشكل عام والولايات المتحدة بشكل خاص. كما تنذر بأفول الدولار الحتمي حيث الدول قد تتوقف عن طلب الدولار لتلبية حاجات التجارة الخارجية كما تمهّد لتسعير السلع الاستراتيجية بأسعار غير الدولار أو غير مستندة إلى الدولار. هذا ما قصدناه في مقال سابق أنّ الولايات المتحدة حقّقت مكاسب تكتيكية ظرفية ولكن في المقابل تكبّدت بخسارة استراتيجية قد تنذر بزوال إمبراطورتيها الافتراضية تمهيداً ربما لزوالها كدولة أو كيان سياسي. الدرس الأساسي لتلك المناورة هو اعتبار الدولار (الاحتياط النقدي المعمول به منذ السبعينات) لا قيمة له بينما الأساس هو الغاز والنفط!

في هذا السياق لا بد من الإشارة إلى التقدّم في الإجراءات بين دول آسيا الوسطى وروسيا والصين حول إنشاء نظام مدفوعات خارج إطار الدولار. ففي المؤتمر الذي عقد مؤخرا في مطلع شهر آذار/ مارس 2022 في مدينة يريفان في أرمينيا بين مسؤولين من الدول الخمسة للمجموعة الاوراسية (روسيا، بيلاروسيا، أرمينيا، كير غستان، طاجكستان) إضافة إلى دولة كازاخستان تم الاتفاق على إنشاء المؤسسات المالية للمدفوعات على أن تقدّم مسودات هيكلية والنظام الداخلي خلال شهرين. وهذا النظام قد يعتمد العملات الوطنية لدول آسيا مستندة إلى اليوان الصيني. أما على الصعيد الداخلي الروسي فالتعامل بالروبل المستند إلى الذهب سيعيد السياسات النقدية التي كانت تستند إلى نظام التبادل المرتكز على الذهب ولا يخضع لتقلّبات الأسواق المالية والمضاربة. الفكرة الأساسية هنا هي ضرورة ربط العملات بالاقتصاد العيني وليس بالاقتصاد الافتراضي الذي فرضته الولايات المتحدة على العالم خلال العقود الخمسة الماضية.

ما يعزّز التوجّه إلى إيجاد منظومة مالية مختلفة عن تلك التي تعتمد الدولار قرار الرئيس الروسي تجاه الدول “غير الصديقة” بعدم قبول دفع مستحقات مشترياتها من الغاز والنفط بعملة غير الروبل الروسي. هذا قرار كبير وإنْ كان محصوراً بالدول غير الصديقة لأنه ترجمة عملية لرفض التعامل بالدولار. والقرار الروسي يلغي تلقائياً أهداف الهجوم على الروبل بغية خلق اضطرابات داخلية لأنّ القرار يعني ارتفاع الطلب على الروبل وانخفاض الطلب على الدولار. فهذا قرار استراتيجي يعني ان المواجهة مع الدولار أصبحت مفتوحة وانّ موجة العزوف عن الدولار في التجارة العالمية (de-dollarization) يعني نهاية هيمنة الولايات المتحدة على الاقتصاد العالمي، بل أيضاً على السياسة الدولية بفقدانها سلاحها الأساسي أيّ الدولار.

القطيعة مع الغرب ليست سياسية واقتصادية فحسب بل باتت ثقافية. فالعنصرية التي طغت على السردية الغربية لأحداث أوكرانيا اسقطت جميع الأقنعة التي كان تُخفي (لمن لم يكن يريد أن يرى ذلك) ادّعاءات الغرب بـ “الديمقراطية” و “حقوق الإنسان” و “حكم القانون والمؤسسات” و “التنوير” و “الحداثة” و “معاداة العنصرية” وسائر الأوهام والأكاذيب التي تسوّقها النخب الغربية وفقاً لمصالحها الضيّقة. فحتى المواطن الأميركي صُدم من عنصرية مراسلي المحطات الأميركية التي كانت تراسل من “ارض الميدان” في تصنيف المهاجرين والنازحين الاوكرانيين كناس أصحاب العيون الزرقاء والشعر الأشقر والبشرة البيضاء! أيجوز ذلك في دول متحضّرة ليست كالعراق أو أفغانستان أو سورية!؟

لن تكون أوكرانيا كما عرفها العالم

الإجراءات الغربية تجاه روسيا لها تداعيات كبيرة على جميع الأطراف المتصارعة وعلى مجمل العالم. المتضرّر الأكبر هو أوكرانيا حيث مستقبلها أصبح فعلياً قاب قوسين. فعندما تسكت المدافع لن تكون أوكرانيا كما عرفها العالم بل ربما مجموعة من الأقاليم منها تحت السيطرة الروسية، ومنها تحت السيطرة البولونية، ومنها تحت السيطرة المجرية والرومانية. أما أوكرانيا بحدّ ذاتها فقد لا تتجاوز ما يوازي 30 بالمائة من المساحة الحالية وستكون معزولة عن البحر الأسود.

المتضرر الثاني هو أوروبا الغربية بشكل عام وألمانيا بشكل خاص. فأوروبا بحاجة إلى روسيا بينما الأخيرة ليست بحاجة إليها. ليس هناك ما يمكن أن تعطيه أوروبا الغربية لروسيا بينما تحتاج أوروبا للطاقة التي توردها إليها روسيا إضافة إلى المعادن الأساسية للصناعات الغربية وإضافة إلى الحبوب التي تنتجها روسيا وأوكرانيا. أما المانيا فتستورد حوالي 40 بالمائة من احتياجاتها من الغاز الروسي بعد أن أقفلت محطّات انتاج الطاقة النووية. فأصبح اقتصادها مرتبطا بالغاز الروسي. وتجميد خط الشمال 2 (نورستريم 2) سيجعلها تستورد طاقة من الغاز السائل بكلفة تفوق عشر أضعاف أو أكثر وبعد أن تكون بنت محطات تفريغ وتخزين الغاز المستورد من الولايات المتحدة أو قطر وإيجاد الأساطيل التي تستطيع نقل هذه الطاقة بالكميات المطلوبة. وهذا لن يحصل قبل عدة سنوات وبكلفة مرتفعة. أضافة إلى كل ذلك فالشركات اتي كانت معنية بتشغيل نورستريم 2 ستنقلب على الدولة الألمانية وتطالبها بتعويضات تقدر بأكثر من 20 مليار يورو. أما الشريك الروسي غازبروم فقد استطاع التعويض عن خسارة عدم تشغيل نورستريم 2 عبر ارتفاع أسعار الغاز في العالم. وعلى صعيد آخر فإن ارتفاع كلفة الطاقة ستؤثر بشكل مباشر على القدرة التنافسية الصناعية الألمانية وخاصة تجاه الصين والعديد من الدول النامية ما يمكن أن يدخلها في عصر ما بعد التصنيع وتصبح دولة ضعيفة وهزيلة كما أصبحت المملكة المتحدة وفرنسا والولايات المتحدة. فالاقتصاد الافتراضي الريعي لا يمكن أن يصمد أمام قوة اندفاع الاقتصاد العيني المنتج الذي تتمتع به دول كالصين والهند والبرازيل وماليزيا وحتى الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران وغدا دول المشرق العربي والمغربي.

ارتفاع أسعار الطاقة سيؤدّي إلى ارتفاع أسعار المواد والسلع في كل أنحاء العالم وخاصة في أوروبا والولايات المتحدة. فإضافة إلى ضعف النمو في الإنتاج بسبب جائحة الكورونا جاء النقص في المواد وخاصة المواد الغذائية وأضيف إليها رفع كلفة الطاقة. فبالحد الأدنى ستدخل أوروبا الغربية مرحلة انكماش اقتصادي كبير قد يصل إلى مستوى كساد ويتلازم معه في المرحلة الاولي تضخم في الأسعار الاستهلاكية والإنتاجية مما يخلق حلقة مفرغة من انخفاض الإنتاج إلى انخفاض في الدخل إلى انخفاض في الاستهلاك إلى انخفاض في الإنتاج وكذلك دواليك. أما على صعيد الدول النامية، وخاصة في أفريقيا، فإن العقوبات المفروضة على روسيا ستخلق أزمة غذاء حيث 25 دولة تستورد حوالي ثلث حاجياتها من الحبوب من روسيا. ودولة بنين تستورد مائة بالمائة من احتياجاتها في القمح والحبوب من روسيا. وفي هذا السياق الدول العربية لن تكون بمنأى عن تداعيات الازمة الغذائية. فدول كمصر واليمن وسوريا ولبنان تستورد الحبوب من روسيا وأوكرانيا. فانقطاع التوريد من روسيا وأوكرانيا سيخلق أزمة اجتماعية إضافية على الازمات التي تمر بها كل هذه الدول وخاصة اليمن ولبنان.

لذلك يمكن القول ان العقوبات المفروضة على روسيا ستؤدّي إلى زعزعة الاستقرار في أوروبا الغربية وإلى أزمات عميقة في الاقتصاد العالمي ناهيك عن التداعيات الاجتماعيات في دول العالم الخاضع لسياسة العقوبات. وهذه الزعزعة والازمة الاقتصادية التي ستتفاقم سيكون لها ارتدادات سياسية كبيرة يكون الغرب الخاسر الأكبر. فالولايات المتحدة بدلا من أن توحد العالم ضد روسيا توحد العالم ضدّها. والتحالفات القديمة والقائمة في الغرب بدأت تشهد تصدّعات بينها ومع الولايات المتحدة.

والولايات المتحدة بنفسها ليست بمنأى عن تداعيات الفشل في المواجهة في أوكرانيا. فالتحالف الذي أوصل بايدن إلى البيت الأبيض يشهد تصدّعا لأن الرئيس الأميركي لا يميل إلى التصعيد في المواجهة التي يعرف أنها خاسرة. ويساند الرئيس الأميركي البنتاغون. لكن بالمقابل تحالف المحافظين الجدد والمتدخلين الليبراليين والاعلام وأجهزة المخابرات يريد التصعيد. وهو غاضب من بايدن. لذلك قامت صحيفة “نيويورك تايمز” بنشر خبر يؤكّد صحّة المعلومات عن حاسوب هنتر بايدن، نجل الرئيس الأميركي، المليء بمعلومات تفضح فساد عائلة بايدن في أوكرانيا. وهذا الحاسوب تمّ التستّر عنه خلال الحملة الانتخابية الرئاسية في 2020 لأنّ المعلومات قد تلغي فرص فوز بايدن في الانتخابات. والسؤال الذي يطرح لماذا أقدمت الصحيفة الأميركية على نشر هذا الخبر؟ هناك من يعتقد ان التأكيد على صحة المعلومات الفاضحة قد تشكّل إنذاراً أخيراً لبايدن ليلتزم بما هو مُقرّر. من جهة أخرى أعلنت صحيفة “الغارديان” البريطانية عن نشر كتاب في 3 أيار/ مايو بعنوان “لن يمر ذلك: ترامب، بايدن، والمعركة لمستقبل أميركا” للكاتبين الصحافيين من “نيويورك تايمز” جوناتان مارتن والكس بيرنز يشير إلى أنّ زوجة بايدن لم تكن ترغب بوجود كمالا هاريس كنائب رئيس. أيّ هناك موجة متنامية في الإعلام المهيمن يوحى بأنه فقد ثقته ببايدن. وبما أنّ وضع الحزب والإدارة حرج للغاية فاحتمالات الفوضى الداخلية كبيرة جدا مما يؤثّر على أداء الإدارة في مواجهة مختلف القضايا والأزمات التي افتعلتها.

 أما على الصعيد العربي، فبدأت تظهر تباشير المراجعات السياسية الكبرى عند حلفاء الولايات المتحدة حيث نظرية ملكية الولايات المتحدة لـ 99 بالمائة من الأوراق بدأت تترنح كيف لا نقول تسقط بشكل نهائي عند العديد من الدول وفي مقدمتها دول الخليج ومصر.

من ضمن إرهاصات في التحولات العربية “تمرّد” بعض دول الخليج على القرار الأميركي بالخروج عن قرارات أوبك + التي تضم روسيا. كما ان عدم اخذ مكالمات الرئيس الأميركي لكل من ولي عهد بلاد الحرمين وولي عهد دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة لم يكن ممكنا تصوّرها منذ ما قبل اندلاع الأزمة الأوكرانية. أضف إلى كل ذلك تصريحات بعض المسؤولين حول تخفيف الاستثمارات في الولايات المتحدة والقبول بالتعامل بعملات غير الدولار في تسعير بعض السلع الاستراتيجية يهدّد مكانة الدولار كعملة احتياط وحيدة أو حتى رئيسية في النظام العالمي.

أنّ كلّ تلك التحوّلات المفصلية في العالم لم تكن لتحصل لولا محور المقاومة وخاصة صمود سورية واليمن وإفشال المشروع الأميركي في العراق وتنامي مقاومة الشعب الفلسطيني. فلا يعتقدّن أحد أنّ الدور العربي كان غائبا بل هو الذي أتاح الفرصة لكلّ من الصين وروسيا والجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران لبناء قدراتها بينما محور المقاومة كان يتصدّى ويُفشّل المشروع الأميركي الصهيوني. فالسيطرة على آسيا هي الشرط الضروري للسيطرة على العالم والمشرق العربي هو البوّابة لها. فمن يتحكم بتلك البوّابة يستطيع أن يسيطر على آسيا. محور المقاومة أفشل المحاولات الأميركية الصهيونية وهو الذي سيكون بيضة القبّان في التوازنات الدولية الجديدة إذا ما أحسن التعاطي مع المعطيات الجديدة على الصعيد المحّلي في كل مكوّن من مكوّنات المحور.

*باحث وكاتب اقتصادي سياسي والأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي وعضو الهيئة التأسيسية للمنتدى الاقتصادي والاجتماعي

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Depopulation, not overpopulation will be one of the true crises of the century

23 Mar 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Samuel Geddes 

Of the innumerable crises projected to dominate the 21st century, perhaps the most misguided warning has been about so-called “overpopulation,” the reality seems to be the exact opposite.

In most states, this projection is simply the opposite of what the numbers show

West Asian, Arab and Sub-Saharan states, though among the world’s poorest, have the most promising demographic future if they can achieve true economic independence and integration. 

So much of modern life has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic that almost every change seems to have been blamed on it. A particularly interesting example came in 2020 when for the first time since modern records began; China saw a decline in its overall population, with the number of births outnumbered by deaths. The numbers were even more catastrophic in Russia, with over 900,000 excess deaths over the course of 2020 and similarly grim declines across Europe and North America. Even the United States is now seeing net population decline in 20 of its 51 states. 

The dawning of this realisation has led to two misunderstandings. First, that this trend is any more than tangentially because of the pandemic and secondly, that population growth in these countries will ever return to “normal”. 

Of the innumerable crises projected to dominate the 21st century, perhaps the most misguided warning has been about so-called “overpopulation,” wherein the planet’s carrying capacity of human beings will be so overwhelmed by our numbers that a Malthusian die-off of billions will be inevitable due to diminishing access to food, water and arable land. 

In most states, this projection is simply the opposite of what the numbers show. All but 46 of the world’s countries and territories have population growth rates below the “replacement rate” (2.1) needed to maintain any given population level. Likewise, close to 40 states are seeing their overall population decline, including such geopolitical heavyweights as Russia, Germany and Japan. China, currently the world’s most populous state at 1.4 billion is just barely in positive territory. 

Current projections have predicted that by the end of the century, China will have lost a staggering 50 per cent of its current population. Others brought forward this scenario to as soon as the middle of the century! The generations born before the introduction of the one-child policy are now retiring en-masse, leaving behind a workforce that will be a fraction of the size and burdened with the cost of supporting what is becoming the oldest national population in history. Such a demographic profile will bring with it profound economic challenges that will test the thesis of the “Chinese Century” to its limit. It is also unavoidable because, even though the one-child policy is now history and parents are being encouraged now to have upwards of two children per family, the nature of the problem is such that any change in policy has at least two decades before it takes effect, with newly born people finally entering the workforce. 

Nor is this at all limited to China or the states of East Asia. The states of the former Soviet Union have seen catastrophic declines over the last three decades. By some accounts about half of the population of Turkmenistan now lives abroad, having migrated seeking better economic opportunities. Swathes of former European powers such as Spain, Italy and Germany are already effectively empty, their own populations having peaked half a century ago! 

Trying to raise the birth-rate is a non-starter as has been stated. For the most severely affected states there is only one possible solution. In Europe and Russia, mass-immigration is the only option, and this would only serve to cancel out the decline, not to increase the population. Russia already has a vast pool of potential migrant labour in its former Central Asian underbelly. Already home to one of the largest migrant populations in the world, Russia will need to begin making itself as attractive as possible to millions more Central Asian citizens. If and when this decision is taken, Moscow will have to finally repudiate any notion of politically exploiting narrow ethnonationalist chauvinism, such as seems to be taking hold in Europe.  

Those countries in the best long-term position, demographically speaking, are also the world’s poorest and they are overwhelmingly concentrated in the Greater Middle East and Africa. By 2050 nearly half of the 10 most populous countries are projected to be in Africa, including Nigeria, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Egypt. By the end of the century, Nigeria is likely to be the world’s third most populated country, at over 400 million people. 

As of 2021, the country with the fastest growing population is the Syrian Arab Republic, at over 5 percent annually. Other Arab heavyweights including Iraq, Yemen, Sudan and of course Egypt all stand in the ranks of the fastest growing populations on the planet. Unlike the countries of Europe, to which increasing numbers look for the hope of a better future, the region, like Africa south of the Sahara is among the most blessed in natural wealth of anywhere on earth. Rather than continuing to hold to the orthodoxy of economic liberalisation towards a rapidly weakening global system, should the countries of the region prioritize internal development, economic and even political unity, they could rapidly find themselves shaping the global order itself rather than being passively shaped by it. 

Were these states be able to assert meaningful economic independence, develop their own internal markets, educate and employ their populations, the balance of global power in the second half of this century may look truly unrecognisable. 

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

‘Hypocrisy Does Not Begin to Describe It’: Baroud on the Ukraine Crisis and the Changing Global Order (VIDEO)

March 17, 2022

Watch Ramzy Baroud’s full interview with Mark Seddon below. (Photo: PDD, Supplied)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

In a wide-ranging interview with Palestine Deep Dive (PDD), Mark Seddon discusses with distinguished Palestinian journalist and author, Dr. Ramzy Baroud, the unfolding crisis in Ukraine through the eyes of the Palestinian people.

While examining what seems to be emerging on the global geopolitical stage, Baroud also highlighted the hypocrisy of the international community, as well as the mainstream media in their response to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine in comparison to their response, or lack of it, to Israel’s ongoing 74-year occupation of Palestine.

“People have the right to defend themselves against military occupation, period. Under any circumstance, regardless of the geopolitical nature of that conflict, and regardless of who’s involved in that conflict,” Baroud said. 

“We are still buried in this massive dichotomy in which we Palestinians can’t even protest without being accused of being anti-Israel or anti-America or anti this or that, compared to what is happening in the Ukraine within the matter of hours. In fact, even before the invasion took place. When the Russian forces were amassing at the Russia-Ukraine border, the condemnations were coming from all over Europe, all over North America. Of course, we have to face the reality that the international community does not have fair and just standards in its view of international conflicts.”

Commenting on the United Nations General Assembly vote, which saw 35 member states, including South Africa, India and China, abstaining from condemning Russia’s actions, Baroud said:

“I think geopolitics has a lot to do with it. (…) To give you an example, I was in Africa quite recently, and I visited several countries and became somewhat familiar with the political tussle that is happening in Africa itself.(…) African countries are very, very wary of the nature of the fight that is underway in Africa. South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, and other countries do not want to see this happening. They want a more balanced bipolar world.”

When asked about the possibility of a new Cold War situation in Europe, with a revival of the Non-Aligned Movement, Baroud said:

“I think it’s very possible. Of course, we understand that there are so many moving pieces here, but if indeed, even if a stalemate is achieved, in other words, if NATO does not get its way in Ukraine and in Eastern Europe, and some kind of a compromise is made, will definitely embolden other countries to start negotiating (for themselves) a new political contract.”

Regarding the double standards currently displayed by Western politicians and media, Baroud said: 

“I think we need to revisit the term double standards or hypocrisy. It just does not even begin to tell half of the story regarding what’s happening in Palestine. What the West, what the Americans are condemning right now regarding Russia’s military action is exactly what Israel has been doing as a matter of course, in Palestine every single day. What’s happening in Yemen. These millions of poor people are starving, fighting cholera, fighting bombs falling on top of them.”

Baroud went on criticizing social media censorship of pro-Palestinian content, and describing the double-standards by international institutions, such as the International Criminal Court, FIFA or the International Olympic Committee. 

In highlighting the inherent racism in Western media coverage on Ukraine, Baroud said: 

“That’s really the mindset of the racist. I know that this is a term that people are very careful using, but if this is not outright racism, I don’t know what is. The thing about a racist mentality is that you never see your own fault, and you always project that on someone else.”

(The Palestine Chronicle, PDD)

There Is No Cheap Oil

12 April 2021

By: Hamid Reza Naghashian

Media attack and hype regarding Iran and China’s economic cooperation agreement by the domestic and foreign currents, and especially by those who western blood is boiling in their veins and have engaged a country with their imported delusion in their minds despite all rational reasons, assigns one to stand against these mischievous distortions which are seen among the news reports by disclosing the truth in order to make aware the dear and resistant people of this revolutionary country against these mischievous inductions.

TEHRAN (Iran News) – There Is No Cheap Oil. Media attack and hype regarding Iran and China’s economic cooperation agreement by the domestic and foreign currents, and especially by those who western blood is boiling in their veins and have engaged a country with their imported delusion in their minds despite all rational reasons, assigns one to stand against these mischievous distortions which are seen among the news reports by disclosing the truth in order to make aware the dear and resistant people of this revolutionary country against these mischievous inductions. The first induction of doubt regarding this cooperation agreement of the Chinese investment and cooperation with Iranian companies, while it has only been signed in size of an 18-page outline MoU, is being tied to the oil sale which is totally wrong and skeptical. The issues of investment and oil sale are two totally different issues and they are apart.

China today needs to buy oil around 800,000 barrels per day and it does it based on the short term contracts and its payment is through different means. But when it comes to the investment, the issue becomes totally different. The truth is that today in the world there is tough competition over attracting more foreign investment and those countries are more successful that they prepare the domestic grounds for attracting more foreign investment.

Nearly one of the main factors in all countries, that they have improved their economies and industries to reach the industrialist countries in recent decades, has been the success in attracting foreign investment; from China and South Korea to Malaysia and Turkey and even in the Persian Gulf states. The U.S. and European governments have a large number of laws and regulations for easing the attraction of foreign investment. The interesting part is that all efforts of President Hassan Rouhani’s government, which created void and chimerical noise on the JCPOA document, were to pave the grounds for foreign investment from Western countries through anti-security and anti-Islamic threats; more interesting is that the most important goal of the U.S. for imposing economic sanctions against Iran was to hinder foreign investment in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In this condition it is very strange that some people in the country in tune with enemies of the Islamic establishment interpret foreign investment as selling the country. In the issue of China’s investment there is essentially no issue under the title of oil trade wherein the issue of cheap oil has been raised.

China’s eager for investment abroad is not confined only to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The People’s Republic of China, according to the data published by the American Enterprise Institute, has invested over 2.1 trillions of dollars in different countries worldwide only in the past 15 years; from rich countries like Switzerland and the U.S. to the African countries like Congo. According to the data released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in only 6 years (2013 to 2019, China has invested $62b in the railways sector in 34 countries.

The active economic presence of China has not meant expanding its political influence in those countries but the nature of these investments will be a haven for economic security. China’s investments in Africa has led to huge number of analysis  in the media that even experts believe with these investments, the fourth industrial revolution would happen in Africa, and this is said while there are no enough infrastructures for materializing this development. For preparing infrastructure developmental plans for Africa, China and India have turned into macro policies in changing the structures of the agro, industrial and educational services.

The American business magazine Forbes in its different analysis says China is the biggest partner of Africa and its annual trade volume with Africa stands at $200b. Accordingly, over 100,000 Chinese companies are active in Africa. The most exports from Africa to China in 2019 were from Angola, South Africa and Republic of Congo. Africa accounts for 20 percent of China’s need of cotton. Africa possesses half of the world magnesium reserves which is used in the steel industry and Democratic Republic of the Congo by itself possesses half of this amount of magnesium reserves. China needs all of these resources.

The details of Iran-China 25-year document has not been yet revealed. American newspaper The New York Times in an article had claimed that China’s president had offered the proposal for the agreement some five years ago (2016). The draft of this agreement was signed on June 24, 2020 in Beijing. It is said the Chinese are to take $600b of their overseas forex reserves into Iran in the span of 25 years and they are to have the same amount of investment in Iran in cooperation with companies and organizations both in private or public sectors.

The required guarantee for taking capital gains could have been the sale of oil. Now if they want they can take their capital gains in cash otherwise they can buy oil instead of their cash or else, they will be free to invest their profits in expanding their investment in those sectors.

That Iran enjoys having ready infrastructure, independent land, skilful and educated workforce as a valuable guarantee as its oil, has sweetened investment for the Chinese. So inducing the idea of oil for investment of the type of selling cheap oil is a big lie which is used to ruin the agreement and to put the pressure on the public opinion.

French Withdrawal from Mali Will Redraw the Political Map of West Africa

March 8, 2022

French President Emmanuel Macron. (Photo: Kremlin, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Ramzy Baroud

Finally, France will be leaving Mali, nearly a decade after the original military intervention in 2013. The repercussions of this decision will hardly be confined to this West African nation, but will likely spread to the entirety of the Sahel Region; in fact, the whole of Africa.

France’s decision to end its military presence in Mali – carried out in two major military operations, Operation Serval and Operation Barkhane – was communicated by French President, Emmanuel Macron. “Victory against terror is not possible if it’s not supported by the state itself,” Macron said on February 16.

The French President called the Malian leadership “out of control” and rationalized his decision as a necessary move, since “European, French and international forces are seeing measures that are restricting them.”

Macron is not fooling anyone. The French military intervention in Mali was justified at the time as part of France’s efforts to defeat ‘Jihadists’ and ‘terrorists’, who had taken over much of the country’s northern region. Indeed, northern militants, protesting what they have described as government negligence and marginalization, had then seized major cities, including Kidal and Timbuktu. But the story, as is often the case with France’s former African colonies, was more complex.

In a recent article, the New York Times said that France’s “diplomatic power” is predicated on three pillars: “its influence in its former African colonies, along with its nuclear arms and its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.”

Mali is one of these ‘former French colonies’, largely located in what used to be called ‘French West Africa.’ Once a great kingdom, known as the Mandinka Empire, Mali was colonized by France in 1892. It was then renamed French Sudan. Though it gained its independence in 1958, Mali remained a French vassal state.

To appreciate French influence over Mali and other West African states long after their independence, consider that fourteen African countries, including Niger and Senegal, continue to use the West African CFA franc, a French monetary invention in 1945, which ensured the struggling African economies continued to be tied to the French currency. This has allowed Paris to wield tremendous influence over various African economies, whose resources were provided to their former colonizers at competitive prices.

Unsurprisingly, France took the leadership in ‘liberating’ Mali in 2013. Hence, France was able to reconfigure the region’s militaries and politics to remain under the direct control of France, which presented itself as West Africa’s savior in the face of terrorism. Chad, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Togo, all participated in the French-led operation, which also involved the United Nations and several Western powers.

The arrival of French soldiers to the Sahel region was meant to underscore the importance, if not indispensability, of France to Africa’s security, especially at a time when Africa was, once again, a contested space that attracted the continent’s old colonial powers and new political players, as well: Russia, China, Germany, Turkey, among others.

However, for the people of Mali, the intervention merely prolonged their misery. “Operation Serval”, meant to last a few weeks, carried on for years, amid political strife in Bamako, worsening security throughout the country, rising corruption and deepening poverty. Though initially welcomed, at least publicly by some in the south of the country, the French military quickly became a burden, associated with Mali’s corrupt politicians, who happily leased the country’s resources in exchange for French support.

The honeymoon is now over. On January 31, the Malian government ordered the French Ambassador to leave the country.

Though Macron pledged that his military withdrawal will be phased out based on France’s own outline, the Malian leadership, on February 17, demanded an immediate and unconditional French withdrawal. Paris continues to insist that its Mali decision is not a defeat, and that it cannot be compared to the US chaotic retreat from Afghanistan last August, all indications point that France is, indeed, being expunged from one of its most prized ‘spheres of influence’. Considering that a similar scenario is currently underway in the Central African Republic (C.A.R.), France’s geopolitical concessions in Africa can aptly be described as unprecedented.

While Western countries, along with a few African governments, are warning that the security vacuum created by the French withdrawal will be exploited by Mali’s militants, Bamako claims such concerns are unfounded, arguing that the French military presence has exasperated – as opposed to improving – the country’s insecurity.

The particular parallel between Mali and C.A.R. becomes even more interesting when we consider media and official reports suggesting that the two African nations are substituting French with Russian soldiers, further accentuating the rapid geopolitical shift in the continent.

Though Macron continues to argue that the shift is induced mostly by his country’s own strategic priorities, neither evidence on the ground, nor France’s own media seem to believe such claims. “It is an inglorious end to an armed intervention that began in euphoria and which ends, nine years later, against a backdrop of crisis,” wrote Le Monde on February 17.

The truth is that an earth-shattering development is underway in Mali and the whole of West Africa, ushering in, as argued in the NY Times, the “closing chapters of ‘la Françafrique’,” the centuries-long French dominance over its ‘sphere of influence’ in the resource-rich Africa.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

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