The Myth of Peace in the Middle East: Deconstructing the Naturalization Narrative

April 16, 2021Articles,

American-Israeli delegation visit to Morocco in December 2020. (Photo: US Embassy Jerusalem, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Mohamed El Metmari

This critical essay deconstructs the political narrative surrounding the naturalization agreements that have occurred between some Arab countries and Israel formally known as the Abrahamic Accords or Jared Kushner’s plan for peace in the Middle East. It offers unique perspectives and analysis of these accords and their true geopolitical intentions. Primarily, it argues how the peace promised by these newly established ties remains just a myth as it explores the true objectives behind them. Interestingly enough, it also highlights the true goals behind the U.S’ mediations in these Accords.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is one of the hottest yet unresolved political issues of today. Whereas this conflict is not heading towards any resolutions soon, the recent naturalization agreements that have occurred between some Arab regimes and the apartheid state of Israel may mark a future shift in Middle East’s political scene.

Earlier to these agreements, boycotting Israel was these Arab nations’ approach to show support for Palestinians and their claims. Before 2020, only two bordering countries have had diplomatic ties with Israel; that is, Egypt and Jordan. This number has risen to six as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco have set full diplomatic and economic relations with Israel as part of Jared Kushner’s plan for peace in the Middle East known formally as the Abrahamic Accords.

Celebrating the first occurrence of the Abrahamic Accords, Trump hosted a signing ceremony in the White House and had the following rash statement to announce: “We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history. After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East.” By this politically immature statement, Trump seemed as if he had finally found a solution to the conflict in the region.

As for peace in the region is concerned, Jared Kushner’s peace plans do not make any sense. Apart from Sudan, none of the countries involved with these accords are in conflict with Israel. On the opposite, Morocco and so the Gulf States have retained very healthy diplomatic relations with Israel, even if they were undeclared publicly. For instance, Morocco has had a fair share of intelligence-sharing with Israel since the mid-sixties. On top of that, the two countries had liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat from Sept. 1, 1994, to Oct. 23, 2000. Not to mention Morocco’s contribution in populating Israel by handing over its Jewish population to the newly established Jewish state during the reign of the Moroccan king Hassan II.

Granted, Israel supports the totalitarian regimes of the region mainly because these totalitarianisms do not demand accountability for its human rights and international law violations. Hence, most Arab dictatorships have been dealing with Israel on political and security levels; especially after the outbreak of the Arab spring where these regimes had to obtain the latest spying and security tech to topple every dissident in their population who desires regime change. Whereas the case of the Washington Post’s correspondent Jamal Khashoggi remains the most covered case, Amnesty International has reported that Moroccan journalist Omar Radi’s phone has also been infected with the Israeli Pegasus spyware.

The Myth of Peace: Deception, Expansion and Dispossession.

Each time an Arab country initiates full diplomatic relations with Israel, its local propaganda machine makes it look as a major historical event that has occurred in the country. Some media outlets have gone far with this. For example, they take the religious tolerance preached in the Muslim faith as a pretext for setting these normalization agreements with this ‘Jewish’ nation. Other media platforms, however, have beautified the image of Israel’s apartheid regime via elaborate historical descriptions of Jewish culture and heritage. This is not wrong at all, but what is wrong is to evoke this history only at this particular event ignoring Israel’s present violations of International Law and Human rights and most of all occupation of Palestinian lands. This is why it is easy to deconstruct the naturalization narrative and prove that it is just a myth.

First of all, the context of these agreements was preceded and controlled by the 2020 US elections. Trump’s administration had tried to convince the American public that it will be the first administration that ends the conflict in the Middle East and thus planning on gaining a potential leverage in the election race. But despite the occurrence of the Abrahamic Accords last year and even Trump’s administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, 2017, it still was not enough to win Trump the approval of the devastated American public. This is mainly because Americans wanted Trump out of the White House at any cost; even if it meant choosing the lesser evil of the two candidates in the elections.

Meanwhile, these events come as a perfect opportunity to boost the reputation of the Likud party and more specifically the reputation of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whose image has been stained by his corruption and monopoly of the Israeli political scene. Unlike Trump, the chances of him getting replaced in the upcoming Israeli elections are relatively low because of his firm grip on power and the lack of his equal in the Israeli political arena. Furthermore, with the massive press coverage that comes with such events, Netanyahu, similarly to Trump, wanted the spotlights on him to distract the public from his administration’s terrible handling of Covid-19 and thus gaining significant leverage in the elections.

Second, the biggest gain for Israel from these new ties with the Arab States and Morocco is that it reinforces its political influence in the Middle East. Not only this, but unlocking Israel’s geo-political isolation in the region as well. And since this newly granted influence to Israel is an approved one, it gives it freedom to expand and occupy more without any opposition. Of course, if Israel is gaining a legitimate influence in the region, this means that Palestine’s position will exacerbate. And thus the Palestinian cause will no longer have the leverage it has on the Middle Eastern political scene.

Furthermore, Israel’s decision to create ties with the Gulf countries in specific is not arbitrary. This move was motivated by economic reasons. As it is known, the Khaleeji people are the biggest consumers in the region. Hence the khaleeji market becomes a perfect destination for Israeli goods. Israeli products, foods in specific, can even replace other products coming from other countries because of the close distance and the low shipping costs. Additionally, Sudan may not offer much as markets are concerned, but it is definitely a great source of agricultural imports for Israel. Being the mediator between Israel and its “new” allies, the US benefits from these agreements as well since it is Israel’s biggest ally. After all, any ongoing political conflict between Israel and any of the Middle Eastern countries is primarily endangering US’ political and economic interests in the region. In other words, the mediation of the US in these so-called Peace agreements is not out of a sort of altruism because the US is only after its share of the pie.

Third, to say that these newly established ties will bring “peace” to the region is ludicrous and rash but not totally wrong. But for whom this peace is served; for Palestine, for the Arab States, or for Israel? To give a rather simple and short answer, it is apt to say it remains just a myth for the Palestinians in specific, but it means more security and power for the Israeli side in particular. To put it differently, with Israel having full diplomatic ties with these Arab countries and Morocco, it becomes easy for it to carry its annexation plans and dispossession of Palestinian lands without being held accountable. And the Palestinians are likely to be displaced gradually and implicitly to one of these countries. Apparently, Morocco and the rich Gulf states are the biggest fish that Israel could ever come to terms with. Since they provide financial comfort and political stability, some Palestinians may choose these destinations over their currently Israeli-occupied and war-inflected homes.

However, it is worth mentioning that the Emiratis as well as the Saudis despise the Palestinians. Hence, the Palestinians will never accept the reality of being displaced to one of these two countries. Meanwhile, this does not apply to either Kuwait or Oman in which do not have a strong political influence in the region. Apart from Morocco, they maybe the desired destination Israel is looking for to displace the Palestinians to after annexing their lands. Whether the two countries agree to normalize relations with Israel in the future or not, it does not really matter as long they are subservient to UAE and Saudi Arabia. Apparently, the Palestinians are likely to resist as they usually do.

Concurrently, Israel is likely to pressure them to accept this bitter reality as it has been doing for the last decades. Hence, Israel will possibly seek not only to increase its siege and pressure on the borders and checkpoints, but it may also instigate a war with Hamas as a pretext for a military escalation. Hamas, on the other hand, will be, as always, scapegoated for the whole thing especially that it is classified as a terrorist organization. Therefore, the peace that Israel is seeking is a peace with the Palestinians out of Palestine.

However, Israel is not the only benefactor from these agreements. Clearly, the Gulf States have paid for US military protection by signing these accords. But UAE in specific have had further arms deals and gained even more political protection against the Iranian influence in the Arab peninsula. Nonetheless, when a country signs a peace deal, it does not instantly demand acquirement of advanced F-35 stealth Jet, which is what this Gulf State did, because the two are paradoxical. Therefore, in opposition to the classic definitions of peace treaties, the brokered peace from these agreements is a purchased one like many peace agreements that have been signed before it in the region. After all, Sudan agreed to normalize relations with Israel so it is de-listed from the state-sponsors of terror, the Gulf States signed them as a payment for US military protection and Morocco got support for its sovereignty over Western Sahara.

Therefore, as all the purchased peace agreements the Middle East has witnessed over modern history- whether it is peace for land, peace in exchange of monopoly or what have you- this one is also doomed to be broken by conflict since it is not based on a balanced compromise where two equal parties meet in the middle. Rather, it is a political move towards accumulation of power where the main side of this conflict, meaning the Palestinians, is not even included in these agreements.

The US, Morocco, and Israel: A Geopolitical Chess Game over Africa

The fact that Israel has pursued diplomatic relations with Morocco- a country so far away from the Middle East’s political discourse- is by no means for peace as it is claimed by any of the Accords’ orchestrators. The moment it was announced that Morocco was to resume relations with Israel, Moroccan propaganda machines overshadowed the controversies that come with this event by preaching to the public about the Moroccan Jewish heritage and the coexistence of the Abrahamic religions in this homogeneous sphere. This normalization was depicted as a win-win situation for Morocco especially that Trump has rewarded Morocco’s approval of its resumption of relations with the apartheid regime by signing a presidential proclamation that recognizes Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.

The celebrations following this recognition covered up totally for the naturalization. This proclamation has even become an independent narrative of its own. The official discourse in Moroccan media has asserted that this recognition is the fruit of long-lasting diplomatic ties between Morocco and the US and not as a part of the Abrahamic Accords. Moreover, many factors influence politics, but altruism is not one of them. Taking the fact that Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the US in 1777, and the two countries long diplomatic relations, it stands as a surprise that it took so much time for the US to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara or at least support its claim diplomatically.

Meanwhile, political terminology is important here because Moroccan media had it intentionally mixed up to alleviate the Moroccan public’s rage. Trump’s presidential proclamation does not recognize the Western Sahara region as a Moroccan entity as they have claimed, but it only recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over it. These are two different things, because Morocco has already been practicing sovereignty over the region although with some difficulties mainly caused by intense altercations with the Algerian-backed Polisario Front. The only thing that Morocco has needed is legitimacy and this proclamation happens to be it. Obviously, this is a simple treat from the US for Morocco’s acceptance of the resumption of relations with Israel.

Nevertheless, the majority of the Moroccan public welcomed Trump’s move, but they abhorred Morocco’s establishment of ties with Israel. Nasser Bourita, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, has refused to call this an act of “naturalization” of relations. For him, normalization is a Middle Eastern term that does not apply to Morocco which is not a neighboring country to Israel. Indeed, Morocco’s North African location and its large indigenous Amazigh population make it hard to proclaim the country as purely Arab.

Bourita has preferred using the term “resumption” of relations instead. As mentioned earlier, Morocco and Israel had Liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat before Morocco had to close their office in response to Israeli repression of the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000. Not to mention, there is a number of almost 800.000 Jews of Moroccan decent living in Israel right now.

Obviously, Israel remains the biggest benefactor from these naturalization agreements. However, the US did not take part in them without purpose. The existence of Israel in the Middle East protects American interests in the region. That is why Zionist lobbies in the US always do their best to empower this regime. And this is what AIPAC is doing and what Christians United for Israel and other Zionist lobbies are doing. As a result, this support for the apartheid regime enables the US to retain its firm grip on Middle East’s political and economic affairs. These are all facts now. But the case of Morocco is still a uniquely dubious one. Pressing Morocco – a country so far away from The Middle East’s frenzy and even terminology to sign these deals seems confusing to say the least; especially that Morocco is not a rich country like the Gulf States.

However, ever since Morocco’s rejoining the African Union in 2017, many countries and the US particularly have started to look for ways to intensify their relations with this African country more than before. To illustrate, Morocco’s main weapon supplies come from the US. Granted, the influence of the US embassy in Rabat has surpassed diplomatic lines to influencing Moroccan cultural context and even influencing Moroccan academia via its grants and many programs and English learning courses. This soft pressure changes the structure of Moroccan society with time. As of now, although French is the official second language in Morocco, the majority of Moroccan youth, many of whom have benefited from US grants and programs, speak English. This is not bad at all, but again, politics is the game of interests and not altruisms. Implemented in these courses and grants are soft ideologies that create sympathy and acceptance of US values and democracy in the Moroccan community. In the long run, acceptance of the US image rises even if its intentions in the region are not necessarily benevolent.

To connect this to the question at hand, Morocco remains the US’ key holder to the African Union and African countries. This strategic move to invest in Morocco politically and economically and then support its sovereignty over its full territorial land comes as the price for infiltrating a fertile network of rising African economies. Hence, these countries become perfect investment destinations for the US. And although China is the biggest player in Africa as economy is involved, not counting the previous colonial powers of Africa, the US is doing the best it can to take this role in the near future. After its degrading failure to do so under pretexts of humanitarian aid and war on terror, the UShas finally chosen this diplomatic direction to overtake Russian and Chinese influences in Africa. It is hence a perfectly played chess game over geopolitical expansion and power. Peace and human rights preached in these agreements however, are turned into industries that are used to further their dominance and hegemony.

Additionally, what makes Morocco exceptional is its officials’ diplomatic maturity and its political stability in comparison to the Middle East and other African countries. Also, Morocco’s ability to repay its debts boosts foreign investors’ confidence to embark on the Moroccan market. Not to mention, Morocco itself needs this kind of political and economic partnership and support as it seeks to take the lead as an African power. However, this pursuit remains far-fetched without having full sovereignty over its lands or without having strong allies.

Meanwhile, Moroccan King Mohamed VI has confirmed that Morocco’s position on Palestine remains unchanged. He has also affirmed that he places his country’s territorial issue and the Palestinian cause at the same level, and that the kingdom will use its new position to push for a conflict resolution in the region. Thus, Morocco is playing it as safe as it could as it is placing itself neither with the current, nor against it.

All in all, Morocco and the Arab regimes’ decision to normalize relations with Israel is not promising of any lasting peace between Palestine and Israel simply because Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories will gain significant legitimacy from the establishment of these diplomatic ties. Especially that these Arab States are not democratic themselves so they can account it for its infringement of international law and human rights. Granted, since the Palestinian question, the right of self-determination and the right of return are not included in the official discourse of these peace agreements, a resolution for the Palestinian- Israeli conflict remains just a myth that appears to be tangible with propaganda and exclusionary media narratives.

– Mohamed El Metmari is an independent writer and researcher affiliated with the faculty of Letters and Humanities of Abdelmalek Essaadi University, Martil, Morocco. He is an Open Hands Initiative’s Conflict Resolution alumnus. Currently, he is conducting a Master’s thesis centered on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. His articles have appeared on Aljazeera Arabic, SasaPost, and Countercurrents. He contributed this essay to The Palestine Chronicle.

The Brazilian fracture between the Expanding Universe and the new imperialist competition in South America

The Brazilian fracture between the Expanding Universe and the new imperialist competition in South America
Fabio Reis Vianna, lives in Rio de Janeiro, is a bachelor of laws (LL.B), MA student in International Relations at the University of Évora (Portugal), writer and geopolitical analyst. He currently maintains a column on international politics at the centennial Brazilian newspaper Monitor Mercantil.

April 05, 2021

By Fabio Reis Vianna for The Saker Blog

In an article published in Foreign Affairs magazine – one of the most prominent mouthpieces of US imperialism – , and signed by, among others, Marcus Hicks, former commander of the US Special Operations Command in Africa during the period 2017-2019, defends the idea that the increased competition between the great powers ignites a red alert that the United States should turn its attention to the African continent.

The main motivator of this concern would be the urgent need to limit the “malign influence” of the hegemon’s two major strategic rivals: Russia and China.

Citing the increased Sino-Russian presence on the African continent, in which Russia alone would have already established military agreements with at least 19 countries, and China, installed in 2017 its first international military base in Djibout.

It is worth noting, that although the Foreign Affairs article mentions that there was an ebb in the American presence during Donald Trump’s administration, in reality, and in a long-term look, since 2001 American foreign policy has turned more aggressively to Africa, and this posture has even been an incentive for a greater presence of other actors of the interstate system in that continent.

The American presence in Africa, justified by the excuse of fighting transnational terrorism, was therefore the trigger for an increase in the presence of other interstate actors, and consequently, of the imperialist competition that in this pandemic 2021 gains even more dramatic contours.

Although this article is specifically a defense of the American presence in Africa, it serves as a warning of how the American establishment is positioning itself in face of a phenomenon that has deepened considerably in recent years: the new imperialist race.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance to understand the role of South America in this complex power game.

Taking into consideration that the increase in competitive pressure in the world system has been accelerating considerably since the collapse of the Soviet Union, has gained imperial contours after September 11, and has unveiled itself as, in fact, in a scenario of almost war with the advent of the pandemic, it is possible to deduce that the recent events in certain parts of South America definitely place it as a battleground of the current powers’ wider dispute for global hegemony.

Symptoms of this competitive phenomenon could be seen recently in insinuations that the Chinese are carrying out naval maneuvers in Argentinean waters (when in fact it was the Americans who in fact carried out exercises near the Brazilian coast), as well as in the intensification of the diplomatic crisis between Venezuela and Guyana.

There are many fracture points in South America, and perhaps the most visible and dangerous one lies over the Esequibo zone, a Guyanese territory of 159,000 square kilometers never recognized by Caracas.

In early March, Guyana accused Venezuela of having violated its airspace with the use of two Sukhoi SU 30 drones, of Russian origin. Caracas promptly refuted the accusations as false.

Repudiated by the Secretary of State for Falklands, Antarctica and the South Atlantic, Daniel Filmus, more recently, the publication of the new British defense plan – ratifying the decision to maintain a permanent military presence in the Falkland Islands – brought concerns to Buenos Aires.

The presence of foreign powers in South American territory is clear, and in light of the significant increase of competitive pressure in the world system – which has been gradually taking place since the disproportionate display of American military power against a defenseless Iraq in 1991 – the theory of the Expanding Universe is confirmed year after year, and in an increasingly dramatic way.

Contradicting the idea that a unipolar system, and therefore led and conducted by a single hegemon, would lead to Kant’s “perpetual peace,” the theory of the Expanding Universe supports the thesis that the global power game tends to reproduce itself ad infinitum as a continuously expanding, anarchic, and directionless universe.

Thus, it doesn’t matter whether the dispute is bipolar or multipolar: whoever is at the top of the system tends to expand his power even further – even if he is not necessarily being challenged at the moment, as is the case in the period right after the Soviet collapse, when the United States reigned absolute over the rest of the world.

The factual (and cruel) reality that comes to confirm the theory of the Expanding Universe could not fit into a more appropriate outfit than that of the present moment.

Just as 9/11 served as the perfect excuse for the expansion of the United States’ global power (in this specific case against an imaginary enemy – since the usual enemy, Russia, was temporarily out of the game), the Covid-19 pandemic serves today as a ladder for an unprecedented increase in competitive pressure in the interstate system.

Following this reasoning, and contrary to what Atlanticist analysts are saying, the pandemic crisis would be favoring only one country: the United States of America.

Not only because Silicon Valley technology companies have never profited as much as they do now, but the awakening of sovereigntist and militarist instincts brought about by the pandemic chaos has made possible the realization of the only fundamental and untouchable consensus of the currently divided US elites: the permanent and continuous reproduction and expansion of their military industrial complex. This expansion would be nothing more than the viability of the so-called Full Spectrum Dominance contained in the DOD Joint Vision 2020, published in the year 2000.

In this context, South America comes to play a new role in the global geopolitical chessboard, a role that the long period as a zone of peace under Anglo-Saxon influence would have softened.

With the increased competitive pressure caused by the pandemic event, which in other terms could be seen as the hegemon’s reaction to the entrance of new competitors in the system, came an increase or shock in the demand for energy resources.

In this scenario, we could exemplify the perspective of an expressive growth in the global demand for oil for the next 30 years, with China and India alone representing approximately 50% of all demand.

Considering that South America today can be considered the region with the largest oil (Venezuela) and Lithium (Bolivia) reserves on the planet – not to mention the Amazon forest and fresh water reserves (Brazil) – and in light of this global energy order in formation and dispute, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the new imperialist race between the great powers in the beginning of this century would be gradually turning to the region.

This situation is a wake-up call for a country in the region that is currently experiencing the greatest identity crisis in its entire history: Brazil.

Fractured internally since before the pandemic, the South American giant has never found itself so pressured and isolated internationally.

The systemic chaos that began with the Color Revolution of June 2013, and which has been deepening year after year until culminating in the election of Jair Bolsonaro (puppet president emerging from the white coup orchestrated by the consortium between the Armed Forces High Command and the U.S. government), finally goes into full short circuit after the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic.

Since then the growing discontent of sectors of the local economic elites with the disastrous management of the health crisis by the current government ruled by the military junta is visible.

Threatened by external sanctions from all sides, the country that has surpassed the mark of 300,000 deaths, is experiencing an internal fracture unprecedented in its history.

Something little remembered, but already in October 2019, Portuguese-speaking writers Mia Couto and José Eduardo Agualusa, on a visit to Brazil, said they were impressed by the climate of local political animosity, comparing the South American giant to African countries like Mozambique and Angola during the pre-civil war period.

At the same time that military police officers in Rio de Janeiro organize marches dressed in suggestive black shirts in defense of President Jair Bolsonaro, military police officers in the state of Bahia are threatening to cause chaos with a riot against the local governor (Rui Costa, from the Workers’ Party, an opponent of Bolsonaro).

Amid escalating tensions, the arm-wrestling between government and parliament is intensifying, and in particular with regard to two issues of geopolitical relevance: 5G and the Sputnik V vaccine.

Even if it is not clear from the stories reported by the hegemonic Brazilian press, it is visible that the Bolsonaro government deliberately acts as a representative of US interests in Brazil.

The difficulties created for the approval of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, and the constant threat of exclusion of the Chinese technology giant Huawei from the great 5G auction in the country, reflect the current role of Brazil as a battleground of the great expansionist dispute of the world system in this beginning of the century.

The social fracture, and the deepening divide within the local elites expose the serious risk of a country that could spiral out of control at any moment.

The news that the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) has sent a letter to Mr. Joe Biden, and to his Special Climate Secretary John Kerry, requesting a direct channel of communication – and away from the Brazilian government – to deal with issues related to the Amazon, opens a very serious alert about something that, for those who know history, would not be new.

Bearing in mind that geopolitical competition between the great powers is usually concentrated in fracture zones of the world system, history teaches us that fractured societies – and weakened states – tend to become the object of divisive games in the hands of the great powers.

With all due respect to the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil – so mistreated and threatened by the current government – but the moment calls for a deep reflection on this.

From the Earth to the Moon: Biden’s China Policy Doomed from the Start

March 17, 2021

US President Biden and Vice President Harris Meet Virtually with their Counterparts in the ‘Quad’. (Photo: Video Grab)

By Ramzy Baroud

A much anticipated American foreign policy move under the Biden Administration on how to counter China’s unhindered economic growth and political ambitions came in the form of a virtual summit on March 12, linking, aside from the United States, India, Australia and Japan.

Although the so-called ‘Quad’ revealed nothing new in their joint statement, the leaders of these four countries spoke about the ‘historic’ meeting, described by ‘The Diplomat’ website as “a significant milestone in the evolution of the grouping”.

Actually, the joint statement has little substance and certainly nothing new by way of a blueprint on how to reverse – or even slow down – Beijing’s geopolitical successes, growing military confidence and increasing presence in or around strategic global waterways.

For years, the ‘Quad’ has been busy formulating a unified China strategy but it has failed to devise anything of practical significance. ‘Historic’ meetings aside, China is the world’s only major economy that is predicted to yield significant economic growth this year – and imminently. International Monetary Fund’s projections show that the Chinese economy is expected to expand by 8.1 percent in 2021 while, on the other hand, according to data from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the US’ GDP has declined by around 3.5 percent in 2020.

The ‘Quad’ – which stands for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – began in 2007, and was revived in 2017, with the obvious aim of repulsing China’s advancement in all fields. Like most American alliances, the ‘Quad’ is the political manifestation of a military alliance, namely the Malabar Naval Exercises. The latter started in 1992 and soon expanded to include all four countries.

Since Washington’s ‘pivot to Asia’, i.e., the reversal of established US foreign policy that was predicated on placing greater focus on the Middle East, there is little evidence that Washington’s confrontational policies have weakened Beijing’s presence, trade or diplomacy throughout the continent. Aside from close encounters between the American and Chinese navies in the South China Sea, there is very little else to report.

While much media coverage has focused on the US’ pivot to Asia, little has been said about China’s pivot to the Middle East, which has been far more successful as an economic and political endeavor than the American geostrategic shift.

The US’ seismic change in its foreign policy priorities stemmed from its failure to translate the Iraq war and invasion of 2003 into a decipherable geo-economic success as a result of seizing control of Iraq’s oil largesse – the world’s second-largest proven oil reserves. The US strategy proved to be a complete blunder.

In an article published in the Financial Times in September 2020, Jamil Anderlini raises a fascinating point. “If oil and influence were the prizes, then it seems China, not America, has ultimately won the Iraq war and its aftermath – without ever firing a shot,” he wrote.

Not only is China now Iraq’s biggest trading partner, Beijing’s massive economic and political influence in the Middle East is a triumph. China is now, according to the Financial Times, the Middle East’s biggest foreign investor and a strategic partnership with all Gulf States – save Bahrain. Compare this with Washington’s confused foreign policy agenda in the region, its unprecedented indecisiveness, absence of a definable political doctrine and the systematic breakdown of its regional alliances.

This paradigm becomes clearer and more convincing when understood on a global scale. By the end of 2019, China became the world’s leader in terms of diplomacy, as it then boasted 276 diplomatic posts, many of which are consulates. Unlike embassies, consulates play a more significant role in terms of trade and economic exchanges. According to 2019 figures which were published in ‘Foreign Affairs’ magazine, China has 96 consulates compared with the US’ 88. Till 2012, Beijing lagged significantly behind Washington’s diplomatic representation, precisely by 23 posts.

Wherever China is diplomatically present, economic development follows. Unlike the US’ disjointed global strategy, China’s global ambitions are articulated through a massive network, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, estimated at trillions of dollars. When completed, BRI is set to unify more than sixty countries around Chinese-led economic strategies and trade routes. For this to materialize, China quickly moved to establish closer physical proximity to the world’s most strategic waterways, heavily investing in some and, as in the case of Bab al-Mandab Strait, establishing its first-ever overseas military base in Djibouti, located in the Horn of Africa.

At a time when the US economy is shrinking and its European allies are politically fractured, it is difficult to imagine that any American plan to counter China’s influence, whether in the Middle East, Asia or anywhere else, will have much success.

The biggest hindrance to Washington’s China strategy is that there can never be an outcome in which the US achieves a clear and precise victory. Economically, China is now driving global growth, thus balancing out the US-international crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Hurting China economically would weaken the US as well as the global markets.

The same is true politically and strategically. In the case of the Middle East, the pivot to Asia has backfired on multiple fronts. On the one hand, it registered no palpable success in Asia while, on the other, it created a massive vacuum for China to refocus its own strategy in the Middle East.

Some wrongly argue that China’s entire political strategy is predicated on its desire to merely ‘do business’. While economic dominance is historically the main drive of all superpowers, Beijing’s quest for global supremacy is hardly confined to finance. On many fronts, China has either already taken the lead or is approaching there. For example, on March 9, China and Russia signed an agreement to construct the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS). Considering Russia’s long legacy in space exploration and China’s recent achievements in the field – including the first-ever spacecraft landing on the South Pole-Aitken Basin area of the moon – both countries are set to take the lead in the resurrected space race.

Certainly, the US-led ‘Quad’ meeting was neither historic nor a game-changer, as all indicators attest that China’s global leadership will continue unhindered, a consequential event that is already reordering the world’s geopolitical paradigms which have been in place for over a century.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Chinese Foreign Policy Outlook

Chinese Foreign Policy Outlook

March 13, 2021

By Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

China achieved miraculous progress during the last four decades, which were never seen in humankind’s known history. There must be many reasons for its rapid developments, but its foreign policy was one of the significant reasons. In simple words, China opted for a reconciliation policy and avoided any confrontation with any other nation or country. It helped China to focus only on developments and achieved the desired results.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed outlooks of Chinese foreign policy and answered questions about the country’s foreign policy and external relations at a virtual press conference on Sunday during the fourth session of the 13th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature. Some of the highlights are given below:-

Pandemic

Through innovative “cloud diplomacy,” President Xi Jinping has championed solidarity in the world’s fight against COVID-19 and pointed the way forward for the international community to jointly fight the virus.

China will continue working with other countries in ongoing efforts to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China has carried out its most extensive emergency humanitarian action, contributing to the world’s anti-coronavirus efforts.

On China-Russia relations

In the face of the once-in-a-century pandemic, China and Russia have stood shoulder to shoulder and worked closely to combat “both the coronavirus and the political virus.”

China and Russia should be each other’s strategic support, development opportunity, and global partner. It is both an experience gained from history and an imperative under the current circumstances.

On CPC leadership

Facts have proved that the Communist Party of China’s leadership is the most prominent political advantage of Chinese diplomacy. Leadership will offer fundamental support for China’s diplomatic agenda to secure more victories.

Wang said that China’s diplomacy is people-oriented diplomacy led by the CPC, and the Party set the direction for China’s diplomatic agenda. The original inspiration and mission of the CPC – to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation — determine China’s diplomacy’s responsibility.

On China-Africa relations

Helping African countries contain the COVID-19 pandemic and bringing their economies back on track is the top priority of the China-Africa cooperation. China will always support developing countries. China has started to provide COVID-19 vaccines to 35 African countries and the African Union Commission already.

On ‘patriots administering Hong Kong’

Hong Kong is a particular administrative region of China. One cannot talk about loving Hong Kong without loving its motherland, adding that love for the country and Hong Kong is entirely consistent. Hong Kong enjoyed no democracy during colonial rule. Since its return to the homeland 24 years ago, no one is more concerned about Hong Kong’s democratic development and wishes Hong Kong to remain prosperous and stable than the central government, he said.

On China-US relations

It is logical for China and the US, two countries with different social systems, to have differences and disagreements. “What matters most is to manage them effectively through candid communication to prevent strategic miscalculation and avoid conflict and confrontation.”

China hopes the US can remove its unreasonable restriction on bilateral cooperation as soon as possible and refrain from artificially creating new ones. China is willing to work with the US and set China-US relations on a new path of healthy and steady development.

On Taiwan question

The two sides of the Taiwan Strait must be and will surely be reunified, which is the trend of history and the entire Chinese nation’s collective will, Wang said, adding the one-China principle is the political foundation of the China-US relationship. It is considered a red line and should not be crossed. There is no room for compromise or concession from the Chinese government on the Taiwan question.

“We would hope to see a clear departure from the previous administration’s (Trump Administration) dangerous practice of ‘pushing the red line’ and ‘playing with fire, and we hope that the Taiwan question will be handled prudently and properly,” Wang said.

China stresses the UN’s core status

The UN is not a club for big or rich countries. All countries enjoy equal sovereignty, and no country is in a position to dictate international affairs, Wang said. He also urged efforts to enhance the representativeness and voice of developing countries in the UN to better reflect the common aspiration of most countries.

China, EU not systemic rivals

The China-Europe relationship is equal and open and not targeting any third party or is controlled by anyone else. China never intends to divide relations between Europe and the United States, Wang said, adding that the country is glad to see the European Union uphold multilateralism and remain devoted to coordination and cooperation among major countries.

China opposes ‘vaccine nationalism.’

China opposes “vaccine nationalism,” rejects any “vaccine divide” or any attempt to politicize vaccine cooperation. More than 60 countries have authorized the use of Chinese vaccines. China has provided COVID-19 vaccine aid free of charge to 69 developing countries urgently need while exporting vaccines to 43 countries.

On China-Arab relations

China will work with Arab states in solidarity, pursue expected progress, and prepare for a China-Arab States Summit.

In the past year, relations between China and the Arab States have continued to progress amid various challenges, Wang said, adding their joint fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has set an excellent example for international cooperation.

On multilateralism

Building small circles in the name of multilateralism is, in fact, “group politics,” multilateralism with one’s own interests taking precedence, is still unilateral thinking, and “selective multilateralism” is not the right choice.

Genuine multilateralism means openness and inclusiveness instead of closeness and exclusion. It means equal-footed consultation instead of supremacy over others.

China’s WTO accession

The past two decades had taught China four crucial lessons: China will stay committed to the fundamental policy of opening-up, remain committed to the principle of win-win cooperation, remain committed to the right direction of economic globalization, and we must stay committed to the central role of the WTO.

“China has injected energy into economic globalization and facilitated the optimization of global industry chains and resources,” he said.

On China-Japan relations

China and Japan should remain focused without being distracted by any single event to make the bilateral relations more mature and stable. China and Japan should support each other in hosting the upcoming Olympic Games this year and next year. China hopes the Japanese society would truly embrace an objective and rational perception of China to solidify public support for long-term progress in China-Japan relations.

‘Xinjiang genocide’ claim a thorough lie

The so-called claim of genocide in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region is preposterous, a rumor fabricated with ulterior motives and a complete lie.

Some western politicians chose to believe in the lies cooked up by a few instead of listening to the voice of 25 million Xinjiang residents of various ethnic groups, Wang said, adding that they chose to dance with the clumsy dramas by a few anti-China forces instead of acknowledging the progress in Xinjiang.

On China-ASEAN relations

Wang said that China stands ready to develop an even closer community with a shared future with ASEAN as the two sides celebrate the 30th anniversary of establishing bilateral dialogue relations this year.

China will continue to prioritize efforts to meet vaccine demand from ASEAN and further consolidate beneficial cooperation and see that China’s new development paradigm is better to align with the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, he said.

On the Belt and Road Initiative

China’s commitment to supporting the Belt and Road Initiative has not changed, and the country will continue to work with stakeholders to advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, Wang Yi said.

COVID-19 may have changed the world, but the need for Belt and Road cooperation has not subsided, he said.

“As we pursue a new development paradigm, we will explore better pathways for Belt and Road cooperation and offer greater opportunities to BRI partners,” he added.

In the new development stage

China will create a better business environment, pursue opening-up at a higher level, and work with various countries to accelerate an open world economy, Wang Yi said.

China is like an express train with the greater driving force and load capacity accelerating towards a new goal in the further development stage, he said.

On China-India relations

China stands in a firm position to solve border disputes through dialogue and consultations and, at the same time, is determined to safeguard its own sovereign interests, Wang Yi said.

Border issues are not the whole of the China-India relationship, Wang said, noting that what happened again proves that initiating confrontation will not solve the problem and that returning to peaceful negation is the right way forward.

On climate change

Even though China and the US, and the European Union are in different development stages and face other challenges, they share the same mission in coping with climate change.

Wang urged enhanced communication and coordination between the three sides. They play a leading role in the international community, adding that China welcomes the US’s return to the Paris Agreement and expects that the US will shoulder its responsibility and make its due contribution.

On Iran nuclear issue

China hopes the United States will show sincerity on the Iran nuclear issue, take actions as quickly as possible, including removing unjustified unilateral sanctions and lifting the “long-arm jurisdiction” on third-party entities and individuals, Wang Yi said.

At the same time, he said, Iran should resume compliance with the Iran nuclear deal and shoulder its responsibility of nuclear non-proliferation, Wang said.

On the South China Sea

The only intention of some Western countries, including the United States, is to stir up troubles in the South China Sea in the name of so-called free navigation and undermine peace in the South China Sea and disturb regional stability, Wang said.

He called on China and ASEAN countries to continue to remove distractions and press ahead with Code of Conduct consultations, and continue with the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

On Myanmar tensions

Relevant parties in Myanmar should maintain calm and exercise restraint, address their differences through dialogue and consultation within the constitutional and legal framework, and continue to advance the democratic transition.

“The immediate priority is to prevent further bloodshed and conflict, and ease and cool down the situation as soon as possible,” Wang said.

On China and Latin America

China is providing COVID-19 vaccines to 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries. “China and Latin American and Caribbean countries have stood alongside and supported each other in COVID-19 response and economic recovery,” he said. “Our cooperation best illustrates the saying, that ‘a bosom friend afar brings a distant land near.”

On objective coverage of China

China hopes to see and welcome more journalists in Edgar Snow’s mold in this new era among foreign journalists.

Wang Yi said he hopes that foreign journalists will not apply any filter to their camera, whether beautiful or gloomy, when reporting on China.

“Truthful, objective, and fair stories will always appeal to people and can stand the scrutiny of history,” he said. “However the world changes, the media should stand by their professional ethics.”


Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

U.S. Paves Way for Intervention in Ethiopia, Horn of Africa

Finian Cunningham

March 12, 2021

USAID – with an annual budget of over $27 billion and operating in over 100 countries – is notoriously intertwined with covert operations run by the CIA, Finian Cunningham writes.

An ominous development underway in Ethiopia’s devastating civil war is the intervention by the United States under the pretext of humanitarian relief.

The U.S.’ international aid agency – USAID – announced last week it has deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) in the northern Tigray region where millions of people are facing starvation.

A humanitarian crisis has been created in Ethiopia after the central government in Addis Ababa launched a military offensive against the Tigray region in November last year. Heavy fighting continues between Tigray militia and the Ethiopian National Defense Force. The Ethiopian government forces are being assisted by Eritrean troops which have invaded Tigray. There are reports of widespread violations against civilians.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in a phone call on February 27 to open up Tigray to humanitarian access and he expressed deep concern over possible war crimes. Washington then promptly deployed the USAID intervention apparently without authorization from the Ethiopian federal government.

The American move came despite a row during a closed meeting at the UN Security Council last week when it is understood that Russia and China objected to U.S. intervention plans in Ethiopia, which they said was over-riding legal processes and issues of national sovereignty.

USAID said its disaster response team is “assessing the situation in Tigray, identifying priority needs for the scaling up of relief efforts”. Given the dire humanitarian and security situation in Ethiopia that provision is logically paving the way for a major U.S. military intervention under the guise of the “right to protect” (R2P) presumption which has been unilaterally invoked by Washington in other conflicts.

President Joe Biden has picked Samantha Power as the new head of USAID. The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a former national security advisor to President Barack Obama, Power is a stalwart proponent of R2P foreign interventions. Biden also wants to make Power a member of his national security council.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is, like Power, another staunch advocate of “humanitarian interventions”. They were senior members of the Obama administration who formulated American military interventions in Libya and Syria. The “humanitarian” remit is rightly seen as a cynical moral cover for what would otherwise be condemned as American military aggression to achieve Washington’s own political objectives, such as regime change.

USAID – with an annual budget of over $27 billion and operating in over 100 countries – is notoriously intertwined with covert operations run by the CIA.

The damnable thing about Ethiopia’s current crisis is that arguably it was provoked by the United States from its geopolitical ambitions to control the Horn of Africa region and in particular to cut out China and Russia from this strategically important global hub.

Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed worked previously as a top military intelligence officer in the Ethiopian army before he became prime minister in early 2018. A long-time bilateral security partnership between the U.S. and Ethiopia made Abiy an ideal CIA asset. He was involved in developing Ethiopia’s telecom spying network in a replication of the National Security Agency in the U.S.. He was also educated at a private American university.

Before Abiy’s rise to political power, Ethiopia had an independent policy on foreign relations, pursuing strategic partnership with China for economic development. Ethiopia – the second most populous country in Africa and home to the African Union – was seen as a crucial link in building China’s new silk routes from Asia to Africa.

Oddly, Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at the end of 2019 for a supposed rapprochement with Ethiopia’s northern neighbor Eritrea. The two countries fought a bitter border war in 1998-2000. In hindsight, the award was a travesty given how Abiy has invited Eritrean troops into Tigray to wage war against the civilian population there, committing horrendous massacres.

But the Nobel prize can be seen as part of Abiy’s image-building by his CIA handlers for their objective of reordering Ethiopia. Tellingly, the Western media during his early months in office gushed with praise about the “young democratic reformer” and “peacemaker”. How foolish and fawning those media look now in light of the mayhem and suffering that Abiy unleashed in Tigray over the past four months.

In truth the war was building ever since Abiy took office. Almost from the get-go, there was a campaign of low-intensity aggression directed against the Tigray region. (This author was living there.) This was while the Western media were hailing him as a “reformer”. Abiy’s campaign of hostility towards Tigray involved the central government cutting electricity, water and communications as well as political assassinations. The purpose was to wear down the region and the people’s support for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front which had been the previous dominant governing party before Abiy’s ascent. The Tigray region represented a bastion of opposition to the plan by Abiy and his CIA handlers to refashion and reorient Ethiopia geopolitically. The power struggle culminated in the full-blown war launched against Tigray on November 4, 2020, under false claims of being a security operation against a “terrorist junta”.

The terrible irony is that the war and humanitarian crisis inflicted on six million people in Tigray was predictable because Abiy seems to have been following an American imperial plan to destabilize Ethiopia for boosting its great power rivalry with China and Russia. The Horn of Africa is a geopolitical hotspot: it provides a commanding position for North Africa and Sub-Saharan mineral-rich countries, overlooking the vital shipping lanes of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, and proximate to the oil-rich Arabian Peninsula. Russia last year opened a naval base in Port Sudan on the Red Sea, while China’s only overseas military base is located in Djibouti adjacent to Ethiopia.

Now humanitarian interventionists in the Biden administration are stepping in to “resolve” a mess that the U.S. was instrumental in creating. If the USAID mission is scaled up, as seems intended, then American military could be deployed in Ethiopia giving Washington an unprecedented foothold in a strategically vital region.

It is notable that while the Biden administration seems to be over-riding the authority of the Abiy regime in Addis Ababa, the American objective does not necessarily seek regime change on this occasion. The Biden administration is promoting itself as a mediator in Ethiopia’s civil war, even though this war would not have come about were it not for America’s covert manipulation of Abiy. Recently, the Tigray militia have appeared to be gaining the upper-hand against Abiy’s forces and their Eritrean allies. The American intervention seems prompted in part by concern in Washington to prevent the Abiy regime collapsing in defeat.

Alleged Nashville bomber not Muslim: Western media disappointed

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this photo from the Twitter page of the Nashville Fire Department, damage is seen on a street after an explosion in Nashville, Tennessee on December 25, 2020.

by Ramin Mazaheri  and crossposted with The Saker

(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV’s.)

Alleged Nashville bomber not Muslim: Western media disappointed
Ramin Mazaheri (@RaminMazaheri2) is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

The entire world breathed a sigh of relief when it turned out that the alleged Nashville, Tennessee, bomber was not a Muslim – now nobody can get dragooned into supporting yet another war on a Muslim-majority country.

Isn’t it spectacular how after 9/11 the US impressed almost the entire West into never-ending military service? Western piracy in Afghanistan continues today; Iraq was reduced to shambles; France used the ruse to invade Mali, the Central African Republic and to create a roving “anti-terrorist” force across the entire Sahel; Libya is no longer really a nation; Syria stands despite all the money, guns, terrorists and concrete fortifications the West could muster. I am probably missing some others.

It was true that in the years after 9/11 Muslims silently held their breath when they heard about a terrorist attack, but after 20 years and so many bombs, drones and assassinations it’s abundantly clear that Muslims are not the aggressor nor the transgressor: The pointed finger alleging cultural failure was clearly a false accusation.

The question Muslims now often feel confident enough to ask non-Muslims in public is, “What did Islam ever have to do with terrorism, anyway?” The answer is the same as it was on 9/12/01: “Nothing”.

The Nashville bombing occurred on Christmas day – maybe this was an act of “Christian terrorism”?

The sad irony is that many Christians will flinch at such a term because they view “Christianity” and “terrorism” as being total opposites. Do such persons realise that Muslims view joining “Islam” to “terrorism” also creates an oxymoron? Muslims and Christians should permanently unite around this concept: the sadness of feeling totally misunderstood when the word “terrorism” is affixed to either religion. The only barrier to this is the Islamophobic nonsense which pours out of the West’s chattering classes.

Terrorism is always defined as violence which has a political motive. Was the Nashville bombing, allegedly caused by Anthony Warner, terrorism? We don’t know at this point, so it’s wrong to call it terrorism.

Some report that Warner was paranoid about the effects of the new 5G technology – that seems rather more social than political.

There are unproven accusations that Warner was bombing storage facilities used by the voting machine company Dominion, which is being sued for allegations of vote tampering – if proven to be true then it’s possible this was a political act. It’s looking like Joe Biden will prevail in the still-disputed US presidential election, but is Warner the advance scout of a battalion of right-wing, pro-Trump terrorists which the US media warned about so hysterically in 2020? Considering how insistently they promoted anti-Trumpism and the fear of right-wing violence, it’s surprising that US media hasn’t immediately called Warner a “post-Trumpian terrorist”?

Maybe they will get there, but what this unfortunate episode can teach us is that the West rushes to demonise Muslim citizens and the teachings of Islam whenever they think they have an opportunity to do so. If Warner had been a Muslim there would have been an unjournalistic rush to judgment by Western media that Nashville was undoubtedly an act of – ugh – “Islamic terrorism”.

It’s unfortunate that Islam is so easily slandered in the West, but the problem to discuss here is not religious misunderstanding but reactionary political thought: Islam is slandered so easily precisely in order to create false justifications for the West’s endless imperialist wars in the oil-rich, Israel-surrounding Muslim World.

In the Western world talking of “imperialism” is (incredibly, to me) denigrated as anachronistic, eccentric and unrealistic. It’s not even taken seriously – if I was writing about transgender bathrooms I would be taken infinitely more seriously, and that is no exaggeration. And yet, doesn’t using the lens of imperialism explain the very different US media treatment for Anthony Warner as opposed to “Omar” Warner?

After all, who can the US media suggest we invade as a result of Warner’s alleged act? Which culture can be insulted and ordered to change at the point of a spear? How can Americans feel a misguided sense of superiority – which helps deflect from their ever-increasing inequality, poverty and socioeconomic instability – when Warner’s culture is their own?

And thus Warner is getting treated far more sympathetically than any Muslim menace to society, even though Warner is no more human.

I do not begrudge sympathy for Warner: The unpredictable actions of severely mentally ill people often have devastating consequences on people, and this is an unfortunate part of life and must be discussed.

What I do point out is that, for example, in the majority of France’s terror attacks following Charlie Hebdo’s publication of pornographic pictures of Prophet Mohammad the attacker was also just another mentally-ill person, and not some political mastermind and zealot. I covered these attacks year after year and the perpetrators always fell into one of two categories: the largest was mental illness, while the smaller grouping were political (not religious) terrorists who – without fail – expressly said their attacks were retribution for France’s many imperialist attacks on Muslim countries.

The problem in the world today is not religious – as the West and Israel asserts – but political, as the developing world asserts.

But – as the four-year “daily cultural insanity” of the Trump era proves – the US is incapable of discussing political nuance intelligently and without resorting to hyperbolic slander or wild-eyed absurdities. This explains why if Anthony Warner had been a Muslim the violence would have undoubtedly been declared “terrorism”, immediately – I am referring to endemic American political hysteria of the “other”.  

I am not here to complain – as a professional wordsmith often pedantically does – about the misuse of words and the confusion caused by refusing to abide by established definitions. Instead, I am suggesting that non-Muslims in the West should wake up to just how easily they are intellectually manipulated when it comes to any violence which employs something more brutal than a handgun: Had Warner been a Muslim Americans and Westerners would have shouted at to maintain their awful, destructive and immoral two-decade long war posture towards Muslims and Islam.

When there are acts of political terrorism, the West needs to examine the politics behind it and make sure their politics are just. When there are acts of violence, just because a Muslim was the perpetrator doesn’t make it political. However, in the identity politics-obsessed West, it seems one is always defined solely by his or her tribe and is never just another son or daughter of Adam.

“Anthony” or “Omar” shouldn’t make a difference to you but it certainly does, depending on where you live: manipulative Islamophobia may have sent your children off to die in hopeless wars, gutted your individual political rights and caused you to see anyone with a different political view as your lifelong enemy.


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MILITARY AND POLITICAL TRENDS OF 2020 THAT WILL SHAPE 2021

South Front

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geopolitical Tendencies of the Last Six Years

Geopolitical Tendencies of the Last Six Years

December 30, 2020

Paul Schmutz Schaller for The Saker Blog

1) China, Russia, and Iran – confronted with Western aggressions – develop their strength and collaboration

In my eyes, the most important evolution in the last six years is that now, the leading forces are China, Russia, and Iran, and no more Western hegemonism under the direction of the USA. China, Russia, and Iran have not only fended off different Western attacks, but were also able to strike back. Moreover, the economical and military development in these countries is better than that in the USA.

The political leadership in the three countries is stable and during the last years, it has become completely obvious that each of the three is much more intelligent than any leadership in North America or in Western Europe. One may also say that the three countries use the intelligence of their peoples in a much more coherent manner than Western countries. Moreover, in China and Russia in particular, new important laws have strengthened the inner stability.

Take the Ukrainian crisis as the first example. After the Maidan putsch, the Crimea went back to Russia. And in the east of the Ukraine, the Kiev’s troops were severely beaten, in the first months of 2015. Subsequently, the West took sanctions against Russia, but this had not a big impact on Russia. Finally, the result was a stronger orientation of Russia towards Asia, in particular towards China. During the last year, the West tried to use Belarus and the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan against Russia. But Russia had no real problem to ward off these dangers.

After the nuclear deal with Iran in 2015, an important part of the sanctions against Iran was lifted by the UNO in January 2016 (the UNO sanctions with respect to arms were only lifted in 2020). But the USA imposed new sanctions in 2018, together with the so-called maximum pressure. While this clearly had negative consequences for the Iranian economy, the USA could not achieve any important goal. Even the murder of Soleimani one year ago could not weaken Iran, quite the contrary. Iran was able to openly strike US military bases in Iraq, and the USA had to accept this shame without risking an answer.

There were various anti-Chinese campaigns, mainly organized by Anglo-Saxon countries. In particular, there were the riots in Hong Kong. However, China was not really disturbed and during 2020, the riots were brought to an end so that the model „one country, two systems“ prevailed. Moreover, China was able to strengthen the military presence in the key region of the South Chinese Sea, without worsening the relations with the neighboring countries. Beijing has also made very clear that any step of Taiwan in the direction of a declaration of independence is a red line, not to be crossed. All countries in East and South-East Asia are more and more ready to accept the emergence of China as a great power.

The common interests of China, Russia, and Iran with respect to Western aggressions have led to a much closer cooperation between the three countries, including military cooperation. However, each of the three keeps the own identity; their model of cooperation is much better than that of the European Union. They are well prepared for the so-called Asian century.

A good illustration of the changes in the last six years is provided by Turkey. Objectively speaking, this is an important country. Turkey uses a rather ambitious and dangerous politics and is a member of NATO. Five year ago, Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft and the two sides were near an open military conflict. Now, the relations between Turkey and Russia are significantly more rational and better under control than the relations between Turkey and USA as well as the relations between Turkey and the European Union. Moreover, the relations between Turkey and Iran are now quite solid.

2) Progress in Middle East

In 2015, three major events related to the Middle East took place; they remained of crucial importance until today. In March, the Saudi aggression war against Yemen began; in July, the nuclear deal about Iran was signed; in September, Russia started the direct military support for the war against terrorism in Syria.

In these six years, the situation has very much evolved; the Middle East remains the region with the fastest changes. There, the geopolitical conflicts are at its hottest. The terrorists of Daesh and Al Qaeda have been essentially beaten, in Syria and Iraq. Turkey, USA, and Israel had to intervene much more directly in order to keep the terrorism in Syria alive; this includes the direct stealing of the Syrian oil (before, this was done by Daesh). Big parts of Syria have been liberated. The Russian military commitment was a great success and has produced broad respect for the Russian army and the Russian arms.

In the Yemen war, Saudi Arabia is now loosing. They already lost some allies of the global south which were bought by Saudi money. Possibly, Israel and USA will henceforth take part in the war more directly, but as in Syria, this can only delay the end of the war, but not change the outcome.

Despite many attacks and complots, Hezbollah in Lebanon has noticeably gained in strength. Even if it is not yet fully obvious, Israel has mainly lost the military superiority in the region. Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, and Ansarullah (in Yemen) have got too strong, and also in Iraq, the patriotic forces are quite solid now. These developments may be a reason for the fact that Israel is not able to install a stable government despite different elections.

During the last four years, when Trump was president, the US aggressions were concentrated on the Middle East; understandably, this region is satisfied about the departure of Trump. However, the USA have not obtained much, Trump’s Middle East politics were a failure.

3) Internal crisis of the West: nationalism versus Western hegemonism

The rich Western countries have lost some of their economical power and they can offer less to their peoples. There is an increasing number of people who are neglected by Western hegemonism, I call them the forgotten classes. The latter have not yet found an own political identity (may-be with the exception of the Yellow Vests in France). On the other hand, this development has provoked the creation of new nationalistic movements in nearly all rich Western countries. In many of these countries, these new movements have become the main political opposition to the Western hegemonism. This does not mean that these movements are progressive. But objectively speaking, they have important positive aspects. This fact is often neglected by left wing oriented people in Western countries.

The leading figures of these nationalistic movements are quite different. Some came from traditional political parties such as Blocher (Switzerland), Trump (USA), Johnson (UK); others have created new political parties. Some have important economical power, examples are Berlusconi (Italy), Blocher (Switzerland), or Trump (USA). Some are quite close to Zionists, for example Trump (USA) or Salvini (Italy). The relation of the leading figures to the forgotten classes is quite varying. Personally, I would say that Marine Le Pen (France) is the most sympathetic one – while she is certainly not the most talented politician among the leaders of the new nationalistic movements.

The year 2016 saw two major political sensations, namely the vote for Brexit in the UK and the election of Trump in the USA. In both countries, the new nationalistic movements won, due to the support of the forgotten classes. The Brexit vote was confirmed by the clear election win of Johnson in UK in December 2019.

In most Western countries, the traditional political forces, which support Western hegemonism, have big difficulties in accepting the rise of the new nationalist movements. They intend to completely defeat these movements. They are not able to see that these movements are „fed“ by the forgotten classes and that the latter are a product of an objective situation and cannot be defeated. Therefore, the internal crisis of the West will continue.

4) Latin America, Africa, India

Latin America saw important developments in the last years. Generally speaking, this region is still in the phase of strategic defensive with respect to Western hegemonism. However, the strength of the anti-imperialist forces has somewhat stabilized. Despite major Western attacks against Venezuela, the elected government could resist. The same is true for Cuba or Nicaragua. And the putsch in Bolivia in 2019 was „corrected“ in 2020 quite quickly. These developments are supported by the increasing relations between the countries of Latin America with China, Russia, and Iran. Setbacks are still possible, if not probable, but the general tendency goes towards a solid implantation of the anti-imperialist camp.

Politically and economically speaking, the weight of the African continent remains small. Western countries and terrorist movements are disturbing the positive developments. The illusion that regional conflicts can be resolved by extern interference, is still quite strong. A recent example is Morocco which blundered into this trap, thinking that the USA and Israel will „help“ with the annexation of the Western Sahara. In general, improvements in Africa are still quite slow.

India is one of the countries which went in a negative direction during the last years. The Indian government had plenty of opportunities, but they took decisions which led to increasing conflicts with neighboring Asian countries such as China and Pakistan. India has also refused to participate in the new RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) of 15 countries (10 ASEAN countries, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand). Instead, India has reinforced relations with the USA, but, as experience shows, this kind of relations is built on sand. It is not by accident that the internal opposition in India against the government is growing.

5) Western Europe disappoints

In June 2015, I restarted writing political articles. This might be the reason why I speak here of the last six years. During this period, I made a number of judgements and predictions. And paradoxically, my biggest errors were with respect to Western Europe (where I live). I had the tendency to be too optimistic about Western Europe. I expected that they would develop politics which are more independent and more related to the geopolitical realities.

However, the leading classes in Western Europe are very stubborn. They are not at all ready to break with their colonial past. They continue to dream of regaining the paradise of global domination. Moreover, their big economic companies are very much dependent on the US economy. So, in each political crisis, they take backward decisions. Examples are Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, Hong Kong riots and sanctions against China, the Syria war against terrorism and sanctions against Syria, the recognition of the US puppet Guaido in Venezuela, the compliance with the aggression against Yemen, with the US sanctions against Iran, with the murder of Soleimani, of al-Muhandis (Iraq), and of Fakhrizadeh (Iran).

Iran’s Khamenei has always warned against making confidence in Western Europe, and he was right. For the time being, leaders in Western Europe exceedingly overrate themselves and keep their utterly unrealistic illusions. It seems that Australia is on a similar path.

Outlook for 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has somewhat frozen the regional and geopolitical conflicts. At the same time, these conflicts were exacerbated. But this is barely visible. The states were very much occupied with their internal situation.

This might continue for some months in 2021. But finally, it will be impossible to contain the conflicts. Quite chaotic developments have to be expected. In this context, analyzing the tendencies of the last years should be useful in order to keep some orientation.

China’s Economy of Peace

China’s Economy of Peace

December 14, 2020

by Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

In the context of China’s webinar on 14 December 2020, on the topic of “China’s New Development Paradigm and High-Quality Belt and Road Cooperation”, organized by the China Center for Contemporary World Studies, International Department of CPC Central Committee and the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China, my presentation was on China’s Economy of Peace.
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China, about a decade ago, has deliberately embarked on an Economy of Peace. A strategy that China pursues, unimpressed by constant aggression from the west, which are mostly led by the United States. Is it perhaps this Chinese steadfast, non-aggressive way of constant forward-creation and embracing more and more allies on her way – that has made China such a success story? Overcoming violence by non-violence is engrained in 5000 years of Chinese history.

Despite relentlessly repeated assertions by the west, China’s objective is not to conquer the world or to “replace” the United States as the new empire. Quite to the contrary. The alliance China-Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is seeking a multipolar world, with more justice for all – i. e. fairer trade in the sense of “win-win”, where all parties are benefitting equally. This is also a policy pursued by the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, the 15-country trade agreement signed at the 37th ASEAN Summit – 11 November 2020, in Vietnam, as well as by President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 by the President himself.

China does not coerce cooperation – but offers peaceful cooperation. In 2014, Mr. Xi traveled to Germany to offer Madame Merkel for Germany to become – at that time – the western most link to the BRI, or the New Silk Road. This would have been an opening for all of Europe. However, Madame Merkel, having to follow Washington’s mandates – did not respond positively. President Jinping returned to Beijing, no hard feelings. And China continued her persistent course of connecting the countries of our Mother Earth with transport infrastructure, inter-country industrial ventures, education and research projects, as well as cultural exchanges to enrich the world – all the while respecting individual countries’ monetary and political sovereignty.

Many country leaders from Africa and the Global South in general express openly their contentment and satisfaction to have China as a partner and for dealing with China on the basis of equals. With the west, especially the US, there is bullying and coercion, unequal contracts, and often total disrespect for legally signed contracts.
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Meanwhile, the west lives in a permanent state of hypocrisy. It bashes China – actually without any reason, other than that the dying Anglo-Saxon-American empire mandates it to its partners, especially the European NATO allies – under threats of sanctions. Unfortunately, spineless Europe mostly complies.

Yet, having outsourced – for economic and profit reasons – most production processes to reliable, efficient and cheaper-labor China, the west depends very much on China for its supply chains. The covid-crisis, first wave, has clearly shown how dependent the west is on goods produced in China from sophisticated electronic equipment to pharmaceuticals.

As an example: About 90% or more of antibiotics or ingredients for antibiotics are Made in China. Similar percentages apply to other vital western imports. – But China does not “punish” or sanction. China creates and moves forward offering her alliance to the rest of the world.

China has also developed a new digital international Renminbi (RMB) or Yuan that may soon be rolled out for use of monetary transactions – of all kinds, including transfers, trade and even as a reserve currency. The yuan is already an ever-stronger reserve currency. This trend will be further enhanced through the RCEP and BRI.

Of course, the US is afraid that their dollar-hegemony they have built up since WWII with Fiat money backed by nothing, may suffer as international trading currency which the Anglo-American banking cartel practically imposed on the world, will come to an end; and the US-dollar’s standing as a reserve currency may rapidly decline.

And yes, the yuan will gradually replace the US dollar as reserve currency – and this – because countries’ treasurers realize that the yuan is a stable, gold-backed currency, also supported by a solid economy – the only economy of any importance in the world that will grow in the covid-year 2020, by perhaps as much as 3.5%, while western economies will falter badly. Predictions are dire for the US and Europe, between 12% (EU predictions) and up to 30% / 35% (US FED prediction).

The US dollar and its dominion over the international transfer system through SWIFT – has been used massively for sanctioning non-compliant countries, including totally illegal confiscation of assets – even countries reserve assets – case in point is Venezuela.

Escaping this coercive dollar dominion is the dream of many countries. Therefore, trading, investing and dealing with the Chinese currency, will be a welcome opportunity for many sovereign nations.
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China’s economic achievements and forward-looking perspectives may be summarized in two major events or global programs, the just signed free trade agreement with 14 countries – the 10 ASEAN countries, plus Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, altogether, including China 15 countries. The so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, was in negotiations during eight years – and achieved to pull together a group of countries for free trade, of some 2.2 billion people, commanding about 30% of the world’s GDP. This is a never before reached agreement in size, value and tenor.

In addition to the largest such trade agreement in human history, it also links to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), or One Belt, One Road (OBOR), which in itself comprises already more than 130 countries and more than 30 international organizations. Also, China and Russia have a longstanding strategic partnership, containing bilateral agreements that too enter into this new trade fold – plus the countries of the Central Asia Economic Union (CAEU), consisting mostly of former Soviet Republics, are also integrated into this eastern trade block.

The myriad of agreements and sub-agreements between Asian-Pacific countries that will cooperate with RCEP, is bound together by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), founded on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai as an intergovernmental organization, composed of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The SCO is little known and little talked-about in the west.

The purpose of the SCO is to ensure security and maintain stability across the vast Eurasian region, join forces to counteract emerging challenges and threats, and enhance trade, as well as cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

Much of the funding for RCEP and BRI projects may come in the form of low-interest loans from China’s Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) and other Chinese and participating countries’ national funding sources. In the hard times emerging from the covid crisis, many countries may need grant assistance to be able to recover as quickly as possible from their huge socioeconomic losses, created by the pandemic. In this sense, it is likely that the new Silk Road may support a special “Health Road” across the Asian Continent.

The RCEP may, as “byproduct”, integrate the huge Continent of Eurasia that spans all the way from western Europe to what is called Asia and covering the Middle East as well as North Africa, of some 55 million square kilometers (km2), and a population of about 5.4 billion people, close to 70% of the world population – See map (Wikipedia).

The crux of the RCEP agreement’s trade deals is that they will be carried out in local currencies and in yuan – no US-dollars. The RCEP is a massive instrument for dedollarizing, primarily the Asia-Pacific Region, and gradually the rest of the world.

Much of the BRI infrastructure investments, or New Silk Road, may be funded by other currencies than the US-dollar. China’s new digital Renminbi (RMB) or yuan may soon become legal tender for international payments and transfers, and will drastically reduce the use of the US-dollar.

The US-dollar is already in massive decline. When some 20-25 years ago about 90% of all worldwide held reserve-assets were denominated in US-dollars, this proportion has shrunk by today to below 60% – and keeps declining. The emerging international RMB / yuan, together with a RCEP- and BRI-strengthened Chinese economy, may further contribute to a dedollarization, as well as dehegemonization of the United States in the world. And as said before, the international digital RMB / yuan may progressively also be replacing the US-dollar, as well as euro reserves in countries’ coffers around the globe. The US-dollar may eventually return to be just a local US-currency, as it should be.

Under China’s philosophy, the unilateral world may transform into a multi-polar world. The RCEP and New Silk Road combination are rapidly pursuing this noble objective, a goal that will bring much more equilibrium into the world.

Maybe for a few years more to come, the west, led by the US – and always backed by the Pentagon and NATO, may not shy away from threatening countries participating in China’s projects, but to no avail. Under Tao philosophy, China will move forward with her partners, like steadily flowing water, constantly creating, avoiding obstacles, in pursuit of her honorable goal – a world in Peace with a bright common future.

*****
Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he has worked for over 30 years on water and environment around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; New Eastern Outlook (NEO), Information Clearing House (ICH) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and  co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)

Rocking the boat – Sudan

Rocking the boat – Sudan

November 20, 2020

by Nat South for the Saker Blog

Not the trendiest of breaking news, swamped by the turmoil of the U.S. Elections, but the Russian government announced (1) work under progress on a draft agreement (2) for setting up of a naval logistics hub (in Russian – see map) in Port Sudan.

This announcement is bound to make Western Russia ‘watchers’ twitch, others laugh at the location, (not exactly Havana’s bustle of the Soviet era), and some pundits may have another severe bout of futile angst. This piece of news will not make waves and certainly will not make a difference to either the U.S. or NATO member countries, particularly as the U.S. has an overwhelming number of military bases dotted around the world. Essentially, the one Russian naval base will be a drop in the ocean. Having said that, it will be highly significant incremental increase in Russian naval power, to have a warm water base to call in, a bit closer to the Indian Ocean, which will free the Russian Navy of a number of constraints:

  1. limited scope and length of dedicated maritime missions (e.g. Horn of Africa anti-piracy, Indian Ocean);
  2. limited inter-fleet missions across the board, (Northern, Black and Baltic Fleets)
  3. need or wish to call into Cyprus, Malta or Ceuta if the political situation doesn’t allow it;
  4. making unnecessary transit passages across the Mediterranean Sea to home ports.

The issue of a Russian warm water naval base has been mooted both by the Russian government and also other governments many times before for two decades, from discussions in 2002 for a presence in Djibouti, to an offer by the Somaliland government earlier in 2020.

The quest for a presence in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden region has regularly featured in news articles. After many years of rumours, tentative discussions & clickbait type of articles suggesting that Russia was going to create a naval base in various countries, (Lebanon, Libya, Mozambique, Egypt, Cuba and Venezuela) finally some preliminary confirmation that the first candidate is in fact set to be Sudan.

The need for naval bases overseas started in earnest with the arrival of coal powered ships, with the development of strategic coaling stations for navies such as the UK, Germany and France. This then transformed into oil depots, logistics and maintenance bases. All of which ensures a wider footprint of naval power.

The Soviet Union was no exception to this rule, with a whole host of overseas bases in which to call in: from Cienfuegos, (Cuba), Egypt, Libya, Tartus (Syria), and also took over Cam Ranh from the U.S., 1979 – 2002 (Vietnam), amongst others. Some historical insights are given in this RT article. In particular, the Soviet Navy had a presence, in the Red Sea region for several decades, under the remit of the 8th Squadron:

Logistics bases: Berbera:1964 -1977 (Somalia); Dahlak:1977-1991 (Ethiopia)

Port or mooring locations: Al Hudaydah & Socotra (Yemen).

Other than Tartus, the Russian Navy does not currently have dedicated overseas bases. The creation of the Sudanese bases will thus the first new Russian base situated in Africa after the fall of the Soviet Union. By re-establishing a presence regionally, Russia will nevertheless have a tiny footprint compared to that of the U.S. Navy or even the PLA(N).

So why the Red Sea, firstly it is an internationally important transit for commercial traffic, notably oil and gas shipments (to Europe & the U.S.). To put this into context, according to the U.S. EIA: “In 2018, an estimated 6.2 million barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil, condensate, and refined petroleum products flowed through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait toward Europe, the United States, and Asia”

https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=41073

Although the Russian LNG exports to Asia mostly to go through the Northern Sea Route, there are certain shipments of Russian oil and LNG that also transits through the Red Sea, especially in winter. Secondly, a significant amount of international container volumes passes through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Similarly, the Russian Navy in 2020 has escorted several ships connected to the Nord Stream 2 project. Although the pipe-laying vessel Akademik Cherskiy went round the cape of Good Hope (due the height of the crane), a Baltic Fleet based the Neustrashimyy-class frigate, the ‘Yaroslav Mudry’ was tasked with escorting it. Later, the SCF supply vessels Ostap Sheremet and Ivan Osipenko sailed via the Red Sea from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad, with apparently a Russian Navy escort too.

Thirdly, the Red Sea is also important for the likes of the US Navy, as a vital transit route to the Indian Ocean, (every aircraft carrier transit takes the Suez Canal).

On the whole I am not going to dwell more on why the Yemen, the Bab-el-Mandeb strait is of significance geopolitically, other to note that this has been extensively written about back in August.

Much in the same way as to why China stepped up their naval base footprint in Djibouti, this ensures that there is naval visibility close to the chokepoint of Bab el Mandeb, (given the significant Chinese maritime exports that also transit the Red Sea). Intriguingly, Djibouti is also home to the US Navy and French Navy.

With this global geopolitical tussle taking place, it is worth mentioning that at the end of October, the US Navy Secretary, Kenneth Braithwaite, suggested creating another “fleet closer to the border of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The proposed 1st Fleet could likely be based out of Singapore, to alleviate the operations of the 7th Fleet.

If the modest Russian naval base becomes operational, the Russian military will have better means of monitoring the ongoing conflict in Yemen and the as well enhance anti-piracy patrols in the north western part of the Indian Ocean. A military presence will somewhat also provide a potential counterbalance to Chinese military presence in the region. A Russian navy presence will potentially stymie further moves by Turkey to establish a presence in the Red Sea region. Turkey had signed an agreement in 2017 with Sudan to boost Turkish military and economic presence in Sudan, (principally in relation to Suakin island). The creation of a military base was subsequently rejected by the Sudanese government in 2019, largely due to positions taken in the Libyan conflict.

The base and ships

The plans for a naval base are still at a very initial stage and could go the same way as the 2017 Sudanese-Turkish military agreement, if the Sudanese government should scrap it. If the plans for the base do get achieved, it will need to be built from scratch and it will be capped to just 4 ships and 300 personnel. Of particular interest is that the likely base will be also capable of having nuclear-powered (surface?) vessels. Regardless of the eventual size of the port infrastructure, the importance rests with the fact that it is a first step in securing a logistics foothold in a busy sea route. The Port Sudan will be set up and operated in the same way as Tartus has been, with anti-sabotage boats (Raptors), air defence unit and repair workshops, (initially a floating ‘PM’ repair ship, but with time, better to have land-based workshops, given the limit of 4 ships).

Frequent visitors will be likely the auxiliary ships, in particular fleet tankers and ocean-going tugs that accompany the long-distance deployments. By having a resupply and logistics base in the Red Sea, the Russian Navy will be able to operate in the region and across the Indian Ocean more often. This latest move by Russia ties into a previous article written on Russian Navy presence in the Indian Ocean.

1.Enhance scope and length of dedicated maritime missions (e.g. Horn of Africa anti-piracy, Indian Ocean):

Crew exchanges can take place, routine maintenance can be done without having a ship returning to the Black or Baltic Sea for instance. Essentially, the Russian Navy will be able to do what the US Navy and Royal Navy have done for decades, but only to a limited extent.

2.Increase in inter-fleet missions across the board, (Northern, Black and Baltic Fleets) and thus the overall maturity of the Russian Navy:

Various units and ships will be able to operate jointly, without the need of having to call into Tartus or Sevastopol, thus breaking up the tempo of long-distance missions.

According to the agreement Russia will operate the base lease-free for an initial 25 years, however there will be infrastructure costs to pay. Additionally, Russia will undertake to provide military equipment at no cost and also provide training to the Sudanese military and help develop further the Sudanese navy. The Sudanese navy recently received a training ship from Russia, as part of 2019 bilateral defence agreements.

Likely infrequent visitors could be Moskva (Project 1164); anti-submarine destroyers, such as the Vice-Admiral Kulakov or Admiral Tributs, (Project 1155) as they have been the mainstay of anti-piracy & Indian Ocean missions in the recent past. Calling into a base for resupply would make Indian Ocean deployments much easier overall and also in a small measure extend the operational life of older ships. Nuclear powered missile cruisers such as ‘Pyotr Veliky’ and the ‘Admiral Nakhimov’ may also call in. Another aspect is that the latest Karakurt (or even at a push the Buyan class) ship could forward deploy from such a base, to potentially carry out anti-piracy missions, which is what they (the Karakurt class) were originally developed for. Naval commentors in the Wes have derided the transformation and modernisation of the Russian Navy into a small-ship fleet, yet the use of small bases such as Tartus and eventually port Sudan have amply demonstrated the wider and greater use of the smaller class of ships, especially the Kalibr carrying combat ships.

Deployment of such class of ships would not be as far-fetched as it seems, because this would enable the larger combat ships to go for longer periods farther away. Additionally, auxiliary ships such as intelligence gathering ships will be able to redeploy quickly and for longer in important areas such as the Arabian Sea or the Gulf for instance.

The development and active use of a base in the Red Sea is also a reflection of the growing maturity of the Russian Navy, still a tiny shadow of the Soviet Navy. The precedence has been set by the sustained activities of the 5th Mediterranean Squadron based out of Tartus. Although its remit and composition are actually quite small and localised in influence, the continued operations demonstrate quiet assertion of focused regional naval projection.

To summarise, the creation of a naval base in the Red Sea is another visible result from the re-establishment and operation of the 5th Squadron, as well as the trickle-down effect of long-distance missions that has been taking place in the last 5 years. The Russian Navy is modestly gaining confidence in increasing by a notch, single or double combat ship deployments further afield as well as their duration.

متى يُسدل الستار على جريمة أوسلو ويقطع جسر الانفتاح مع «إسرائيل»؟

حسن حردان

أدركت «إسرائيل» ومعها الولايات المتحدة انّ توقيع اتفاق كامب ديفيد عام ١٩٧٨ مع مصر، والذي أسهم في إخراجها من دائرة الصراع العربي الصهيوني، لم يحقق الهدف المطلوب وهو كسر جدار العزلة العربية والأفريقية والآسيوية والأميركية اللاتينية، من حول «إسرائيل»، ولن يمنحها «الشرعية» التي تريدها، واكتشفت أنّ السبيل لكسر هذه العزلة إنما يكمن في إحداث خرق في جدار الموقف الفلسطيني الذي يشكل الأساس في إبقاء وإدامة هذه العزلة، فطالما ظلّ هذا الموقف رافضاً الاعتراف بوجود «إسرائيل» ويستمرّ في الرهان على مواصلة خيار المقاومة الشعبية المسلحة سبيلاً لتحرير فلسطين لن تحصل «إسرائيل» على الاعتراف بوجودها وتكسر المقاطعة من حولها، لا سيما في العالم العربي، الذي يشكل الأساس كي تصبح «إسرائيل» دولة طبيعية مندمجة في المنطقة، لا تعيش فقط على المصل الأميركي الغربي، وإنما تتحوّل إلى مشروع يعيش بإمكانياته الذاتية من خلال تحوّل «إسرائيل» إلى المرتكز والمحور الأول في المنطقة الذي يستقطب رؤوس الأموال العربية ويستغلّ اليد العاملة العربية الرخيصة والنفط العربي وموقع فلسطين على البحر المتوسط وتوسّطها الوطن العربي بين المشرق والمغرب، وبالتالي تصبح «إسرائيل» هي قلب المنطقة والقوة الهيمنة عليها، والمحطة التي كلّ دول المنطقة بالمركز الرأسمالي الغربي… عندها فقط يتحقق الحلم الصهيوني في السيطرة على المنطقة وتغيير هويتها، والتربّع على عرشها كمشروع استعماري استيطاني يخدم المشروع الاستعماري الغربي الذي كان وراء إنشاء «إسرائيل» للعب هذا الدور وهذه الوظيفة…

اتفاق أوسلو، الذي وقع في ١٣ أيلول من عام ١٩٩٣ بين قيادة منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية وحكومة العدو الصهيوني، سهل تحقيق هذا الحلم الصهيوني عندما دشن رأس جسر الانفتاح على الكيان الصهيوني والاعتراف فيه.. فهو وفر المناخ المواتي بداية بإقدام المملكة الأردنية على توقيع اتفاق «وادي عربة»، ووفر الفرصة للعديد من الانظمة العربية التابعة للغرب للاتصال والاجتماع علناً مع مسؤولين صهاينة، بعد أن كانت مثل هذه اللقاءات محرّمة وتجري في السابق بشكل غير معلن، كما أنّ توقيع اوسلو أسقط مبرّرات استمرار مقاطعة دول عدم الانحياز في أفريقيا وآسيا وأميركا اللاتينية للكيان الصهيوني… هكذا فقد نجح أوسلو في أن يحقق لـ «إسرائيل» مكاسب لم تكن لتحلم بتحقيقها…

لقد كانت الأولوية الأساسية للقيادة الصهيونية تكمن في العمل على انتزاع الاعتراف بوجود الكيان الصهيوني ودمجه في المنطقة، وتحويله من كيان غاصب غير شرعي لا يحظى بالاعتراف بوجوده، الى كيان يحظى بمثل هذا الاعتراف بداية من قيادة منظمة التحرير، ومن قبل الدول العربية والأفريقية والآسيوية والأميركية اللاتينية، وكانت هذه الأولوية تتصدّر قائمة جدول أعمال الحكومات الصهيونية التي كانت ترى أنّ الكيان الصهيوني لا يمكن أن يعيش ويستمرّ إذا ما بقي معزولاً في محيطه المباشر وثم في المحيط الأقرب للمحيط العربي، وأنّ الحلقة الأساسية التي تحول دون كسر جدار العزلة والمقاطعة المفروض على «إسرائيل» إنما تكمن في منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية الممثل الشرعي للشعب الفلسطيني، المعترف به عربياً ودولياً، والتي إذا ما جرى استمالتها واغرائها وخداعها بتوقيع اتفاق يعترف بـ «إسرائيل» مع وعد بتحقيق السلام وإقامة دولة فلسطينية، فإنه سيفتح الطريق أمام «إسرائيل «لكسر جدار العزلة من حولها تحت عنوان.. «لماذا يا عرب أنتم ملكيين أكثر من الملك».. طالما أنّ منظمة التحرير اعترفت بوجود «إسرائيل» بموجب اتفاق أوسلو ونجري معها مفاوضات للتوصل إلى اتفاق نهائي لتحقيق السلام، فلماذا تستمرون في عدم إقامة العلاقات معنا وتستفيدون من ثمار هذه العلاقات بدعم اسرائيلي في مجالات عدة…؟»

إنّ جريمة أوسلو تكمن في أنها كسرت المحرمات في الصراع مع عدو الأمة العربية.. فكرّست الاعتراف بوجود «إسرائيل» من قبل منظمة التحرير، وفتحت باب إقامة العلاقات عربياً واسلامياً مع الكيان الصهيوني، وإشاعة الوهم حول تحقيق السلام وإقامة دولة فلسطينية مستقلة على حدود عام ١٩٦٧ وعاصمتها القدس الشرقية…

هذه هي جريمة أوسلو التي نحصد نتائجها هذه الأيام انفتاحاً عربياً على كيان العدو الغاصب، وتشجيعاً له على تنفيذ خطة القرن لتصفية القضية الفلسطينية، وشطب الحقوق الوطنية للشعب الفلسطيني…

لهذا فإنّ ما هو مطلوب اليوم قبل الغد، إقران الاتفاق على تشكيل قيادة فلسطينية للمقاومة الشعبية الموحدة ضدّ الاحتلال، بالتخلص من نهائياً من اتفاق أوسلو المشؤوم الذي لم يعد له من وظيفة سوى توفير المبرّرات لإضفاء الشرعية على إقامة العلاقات مع كيان العدو الصهيوني.. فكيف تستطيع السلطة الفلسطينية ومنظمة التحرير مطالبة الدول العربية مقاطعة «إسرائيل» وهي تقيم مثل هذه العلاقات وتستمرّ باتفاق أوسلو، ولم تعلن الخروج منه وسحب اعترافها بـ «إسرائيل» بعد أن انقلبت الأخيرة على كلّ التزماتها فيه، وأعلنت موت الاتفاق وجعلت من السلطة رهينة لديها وأداة أمنية لحماية الأمن الصهيوني ليس إلا…

قد يقول البعض إنك تغالي عندما تصف اتفاق أوسلو بالجريمة، ولكن هل هناك جريمة أكبر وأفظع من جريمة الاعتراف بوجود كيان غاصب احتلّ الأرض وشرّد الشعب وارتكب المجازر وانتهك الحرمات والمقدسات ولا يزال… إنّ وضع حدّ لهذه الجريمة والتمادي بها، هو السبيل لوقف استغلال أوسلو من قبل العدو الصهيوني وبعض الأنظمة التي تدور في الفلك الأميركي.. كما أنّ وضع نهاية لهذه الجريمة بإعلان الخروج نهائياً من اتفاق أوسلو وحل السلطة الفلسطينية وعودة منظمة التحرير إلى دورها التحرري الحقيقي، هو السبيل الذي يعزز المقاومة الشعبية والمسلحة، ويضع حداً ما يجري من استباحة للحق العربي في فلسطين، وتسابق الأنظمة التابعة للأميركي على إقامة العلاقات مع كيان العدو والاعتراف به، تحت شعار «لسنا ملكيين أكثر من الملك»… فمتى يسدل الستار على جريمة أوسلو وتنتهي هذه المسرحية… التي رسمت أوهام السلام مع عدو غاصب للأرض والحقوق، وأقامت جسر الانفتاح على «إسرائيل».. التي طالما جاهر وأعلن قادتها الصهاينة انهم لن يقبلوا إلا بمعادلة «السلام مقابل السلام»، وهو أمر عاد وأكد عليه أمس رئيس وزراء العدو بنيامين نتنياهو. أيّ أنه يقول للحكام العرب بأنّ عليكم أن ترفعوا راية الاستسلام لكيان العدو الذي اغتصب الأرض والحقوق، والتسليم والاعتراف بشرعيته والتخلي مطلقاً عن المطالبة بأيّ حقوق عربية في فلسطين، مقابل منحكم «السلام الصهيوني».

إنّ أقصر الطرق لوقف هذا الانحدار والتخاذل الرسمي العربي ووضع حدّ لتجرّؤ بعض الحكام العرب على تجاوز الحقوق العربية الفلسطينية والسير في ركب الحكومات التي وقعت اتفاقيات صلح مع العدو الصهيوني والاعتراف باغتصابه أرض فلسطين المحتلة، إنّ أقصر الطرق، لوقف هذا الانحدار، إنما يكون بإعلان فلسطيني موحد استعادة منظمة التحرير دورها التحرّري الموحّد لكلّ القوى والحركات الوطنية والإسلامية المقاومة والفاعليات الفلسطينية، والذي يرسم سقف الموقف الوطني الفلسطيني المتمسك بالحق العربي الفلسطيني كاملاً دون نقصان، ويعتبر أيّ اعتراف بكيان الاحتلال خيانة للقضية المركزية للأمة جمعاء، واستسلاماً للعدو.. لكن استعادة هذا الموقف الفلسطيني الموحد مرهون بالتخلص من اتفاق أوسلو وحلّ السلطة الفلسطينية.. والتأكيد أنّ الحليف الحقيقي للشعب الفلسطيني ومقاومته إنما هو محور المقاومة الذي يبذل الدماء دفاعاً عن فلسطين ورفضاً لأيّ تفريط بالحقوق العربية فيها.. فما يحصل يجب أن يكون درساً لتحديد الصديق من العدو…

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions

Source

July 11, 2020

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a news conference following political consultations between the foreign ministers of Russia and three African Union countries (South Africa, Egypt and the Congo) via videoconference, Moscow, July 8, 2020

Colleagues,

Today, we held the first political consultation meeting at the foreign minister level between Russia and three members of the African Union. This mechanism was established after the first Russia-Africa Summit held in Sochi last October. These countries are the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Republic of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are the former, current and next presidents of the African Union.

Russia and Africa are linked by traditional friendly relations, strong political dialogue and extensive trade, economic and investment ties. We have even more ambitious plans in all of these areas. Today, Russia and these African countries expressed their reciprocal interest in further building up cooperation in all areas, including the economy, humanitarian ties and political consultations.

We discussed the priorities of developing cooperation through the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum established by the Russian Foreign Ministry. It was set up for daily contact with the foreign ministries of various African countries and the mechanisms of the African Union and other integration associations in Africa. The Secretariat will oversee the organisational and practical preparations of new initiatives for the next Russia-Africa Summit scheduled for 2022 in accordance with the Sochi agreements.

Having met in Sochi, the heads of state decided that it was expedient to hold these summit meetings once every three years.

We also discussed the energy requirements of the African states. They are growing fast given the African countries’ development rates. We reviewed opportunities for enhancing the energy security of African countries, in particular, by supplying them with hydrocarbon resources and especially by developing the nuclear power industry. Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev gave a relevant presentation. Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Alexey Gruzdev spoke about industrial cooperation at our videoconference.

The issues formulated by our African partners today and initiatives on the best ways to develop investment, trade and economic ties will be discussed at the Association of Trade and Economic Cooperation with African Countries. This was established last month by the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum. Large Russian companies are members of this association. They are interested in developing cooperation with African states. In addition to Rosatom, it brings together ALROSA, Gazprombank, Transmashholding, and the Innopraktika development institute, to name a few. As I mentioned, the association will be used as a platform for helping Russian companies that want to work in individual African countries or with the integration associations on the African continent.

We also discussed humanitarian issues focusing, for obvious reasons, on the spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic has made a tangible impact on many aspects of interstate relations and has done harm to the economy. This is also being felt in Africa. Our African colleagues expect this damage to be heavier than it is now.

They expressed gratitude to the Russian Federation for the assistance that our departments have rendered to African states. We continue receiving requests for additional aid. Over 30 countries have sent requests. We are reviewing them as quickly as possible. Deputy Head of Rospotrebnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare) Alexander Simanovsky talked about this in detail today.

We agreed to continue our assistance in countering the coronavirus infection, in part, via African and global multilateral associations. We will support the adoption of decisions that favour the African nations at the UN, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

We emphasised our mutual interest in further cooperation in developing vaccines against such pandemic threats, in particular, by using the very helpful and effective experience of our cooperation (several years ago) in combatting the Ebola virus.

As part of our political dialogue, we focused on the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. This anniversary is marked this year. It is a historically meaningful document that played a critical role in breaking down the world colonialist system. It was the Soviet Union which played the lead role in adopting that declaration. We stressed the need for preserving the historical truth about colonial times. Now, many of our Western colleagues, who have a colonial past on the African continent, prefer to forget where the problems of contemporary Africa largely come from. We believe it is unacceptable to forget about that period or turn a blind eye to the neocolonial practices that continue in Africa, the harmful effects of which were mentioned by our interlocutors today.

We agreed that the establishment of the UN played a decisive role in the upcoming process of decolonization, and the UN itself appeared as a result of defeating Nazism and the Victory in WWII. There is an interesting connection: the countries that try to rewrite the history of World War II try, at the same time, to forget the consequences of the colonial past on the African continent.

We shared the opinion, and Russia made it a point, that decolonisation cannot be declared completed. UN General Assembly resolutions and the International Court of Justice demand the completion of this process, specifically, with respect to the Chagos Archipelago. Mauritius’ sovereignty over it should be restored. The sovereignty of Madagascar should be restored over the Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean and Comoros’ sovereignty over the island of Mayotte. This French territory preserves its status despite numerous UN General Assembly resolutions.

We think it is important to continue these discussions at the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonisation. Together with our African and other partners we will promote implementation of the existing decisions made by the world community.

In general, the talks were very useful. We agreed to draft relevant proposals that would let us start working on the agenda for the next summit, which, as I have said, is scheduled for 2022 pursuant to the understandings reached in Sochi last October. I mean that the next summit will be held in Africa.

We have adopted a joint statement following our discussions which will be distributed to the media. You are welcome to read the document.

Question: I would like to ask you about the situation in Libya. This is a source of constant concern for the international community because of the differences between the confronting parties and the discord among their supporters. Moscow keeps talking about the need to conduct a direct dialogue based on the Berlin Сonference. Russia has also backed Cairo’s initiative – recently the Foreign Ministry has started talking about the need to enhance the UN role in a Libyan settlement. How can this be done in practice when nothing really changes?

Sergey Lavrov: In practice this can be done in only one way – both sides must immediately stop the hostilities and their attempts to move armed units westward and eastward, respectively, or in any direction. Regrettably, the statement of obvious fact by our partners, notably, that the Libyan conflict has no military solution, is not leading to practical actions. At some point, last January before the Berlin conference, we invited the main parties to Moscow: Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar, Head of the Presidential Council and the Government of National Accord Fayez al-Sarraj, and Speaker of Parliament in Tobruk Aguila Saleh. At that time, the LNA believed in its superiority on the ground and did not want to sign a document that suited al-Sarraj. In our estimate, the LNA is now willing to sign a document on an immediate ceasefire but the government in Tripoli is now reluctant to do so in the hope of a military solution once again. This is the main reason for what is happening there.

In the framework of a dialogue as sanctioned by our presidents, we and our Turkish colleagues are coordinating approaches that would make it possible to immediately announce a ceasefire and embark on resolving the other issues, including those mentioned at the Berlin Conference and reaffirmed at the meeting in Cairo in the so-called Cairo Declaration. This is the main problem now.

Recently, we spoke in Moscow with Speaker of the Libyan Parliament in Tobruk Aguila Saleh. We stay in touch with Fayez al-Sarraj who heads the Government of National Accord in Tripoli and, of course, with Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the LNA commander. We express to them that an announcement of the complete cessation of hostilities must be the first, indispensable step and that this has no alternative. Our Turkish colleagues are working with the National Transitional Council towards the same end. I hope they will manage to achieve the only correct solution under the circumstances.

As for the UN’s role and the need to increase it, we do want the UN to be more active here. Unfortunately, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Libya Ghassan Salame resigned soon after the Berlin Conference, almost half a year ago. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been unable to appoint a successor so far. His first proposal to appoint Foreign Minister of Algeria Ramtane Lamamra was supported by most countries except our American colleagues. They refused to support his nomination. Almost two months ago a proposal was put forward to appoint former Foreign Minister of Ghana Hanna Tetteh but for some reason Mr Guterres has failed to have her nomination approved. We tend to think that the US representatives are trying to “hobble” him.

Now the situation is like this. After Salame resigned, the UN mission was headed by the acting special representative. By circumstance, this position is now occupied by an American citizen. We don’t want the US to hold the UN Secretariat by the hand and prevent the appointment of a full special representative in the hope that their compatriot will resolve some objective that we fail to understand.

I say this in the open because it is no secret. I am hoping that commitment to multilateral principles will still prevail in this case, and that the UN Secretary-General will fully display his responsibility for the functioning of this mechanism. I am convinced that this position must be occupied by a representative of the African Union.

Question: Can you comment on the UN commission report that says Russian and Syrian aircraft strikes against civilian infrastructure in Idlib are equated with military crimes?

Sergey Lavrov: You, probably mean the commission that calls itself an international independent commission of inquiry on Syria. This commission was not set up by consensus decision, and its mandate raises many questions as does its methodology. The decision to establish this commission was pushed through primarily by the Western countries, which wanted to change the Syrian regime. They didn’t hide this. Using a vote at the UN Human Rights Council, they provided a mechanism with the established purpose of searching for evidence against and discrediting Damascus and those whom they call its allies.

The commission never went to Idlib like many other entities employed by the West in the non-government sector to gather information compromising the activities of the legitimate Syrian authorities. This so-called independent commission uses facts taken from social networks, from some sources they ask to remain anonymous referring to security considerations. These are the same methods as are currently used by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Our Western colleagues are trying to jam through a resolution based on the report prepared in gross violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention based on information taken from social networks, civil society partners, whose names and addresses they refuse to give saying that it would subject their security to risk and threat. This is why we proceed from the exclusive need to resolve and consider any issue concerning the Syrian or any other conflict based on hard facts alone, and on information for which the relevant entity is ready to be responsible. This independent commission just cannot be responsible for its statements, as has been proven on many occasions.

Question:  Mark Esper has said that in the year since he became head of the Pentagon the US Department of Defence successfully restrained Washington’s main strategic rivals – Russia and China. How would you comment on this statement?

Sergey Lavrov: I do not see that there is anything to comment on here. If he thinks the Pentagon’s main objective is to “restrain” Russia and China, then this is the philosophy of the current US administration. It is really burning with a desire to “restrain” everyone except for themselves, and is seeking to get rid of everything that could restrain its freedom to act with impunity on the international stage, such as the INF Treaty, the TOS, the CTBT, UNESCO, the UN Human Rights Council and the WHO. If this is the case, this is rather regrettable. We believed that the military act much more carefully than politicians in situations that can erupt into a conflict, especially a hot conflict.

This mood and this philosophy of the Pentagon chief are really regrettable, because we are interested in developing a normal dialogue with all countries, including the United States. Telephone contacts between Mark Esper and Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu were highly professional and based on mutual respect.  We would like the foreign policies of all countries not to be aimed at “restraint” but at strategic stability based on a balance of interests of all states, including the world’s leading powers. The phrase “strategic stability” is being replaced with “strategic rivalry” in our dialogue with the Americans. In other words, this philosophy shows that the Americans are preparing for conflicts with any country that will attempt to defend its interests.

This is bad for the United States itself. Maybe Washington is using the alleged threats coming from Russia and China to distract the Americans from the incredible problems we see unfolding in that country. Maybe this is part of the election campaign, for the contenders need to gain points. It would be regrettable if they did this by removing all checks and balances on the international stage and by taking the freedom to venture into risky projects in the hope of getting more votes. We stand for dialogue and strategic stability, as President Putin has noted, including when he proposed a summit meeting of the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Question: It has been reported today that Ukraine plans to withdraw from the 2012 memorandum on counterterrorism cooperation with Russia. The interpretative note reads that “this decision will allow for the creation of additional legal and political grounds for protecting the national interests of Ukraine in conditions of Russia’s armed aggression and enhancing Ukraine’s prestige.” Will you comment on this, please?

Sergey Lavrov: I am not aware of our Ukrainian neighbours’ decision to withdraw from the memorandum on counterterrorism cooperation. They are withdrawing from many documents now, which they have a right to do. They also have a right to present their decisions to terminate cooperation in any way. If they think this will help them to protect their national interests more effectively, be that as it may. But it is obvious to us that counterterrorism must not be a victim and hostage of geopolitical games. Any more or less well-read person can see that the Ukrainian authorities are playing geopolitical games. Just look at the statement made by President Vladimir Zelensky, who has said that the Minsk Agreements are only needed to ensure Western sanctions against Russia. This statement is self-explanatory. I leave this on the conscience of the Ukrainian leadership.

We continue our contacts in the Normandy format. The advisers and political aides of the Normandy format leaders have recently had a meeting. It has reaffirmed that the Ukrainian side categorically refuses to honour the Minsk Agreements, which have been approved by the UN Security Council. It has refused to answer the direct questions of our representatives to this effect. We hope that Germany and France as the parties of the Normandy format will take their share of responsibility for Kiev’s position regarding the vital document titled the Minsk Package of Measures.

Question: Is there any chance of a ceasefire in Libya and that the forces of the Government of National Accord will not cross the Sirte – Al Jufra red line, given yesterday’s reports of attacks in Al Jufra, which neither side in the conflict has confirmed?

Sergey Lavrov: I cannot say if the ceasefire has a chance or not. There is always a chance, but it is difficult to say if it will be used. There was such a chance half a year ago, as well as two, three and four years ago when conferences on Libya were held in Paris, Palermo and Abu Dhabi. A conference was also held in Berlin half a year ago, and before that there was a meeting held in Moscow. A document was adopted, an open and simple document that was only a page and a half long, which stipulated a ceasefire in the first place. One of the sides invited to Moscow and Berlin did not use that chance. Now the other side does not want to use this chance, which still exists. As I have mentioned, it is not simply a chance but a demand which has no alternatives and which must be implemented if we want to start settling the situation in Libya.

As for the military situation on the ground and which side’s forces are preparing to cross any lines, this is of secondary importance. If we agree – and it appears that all sides agree that there is no military solution in Libya – the only thing to do is to stop fighting now. Next we can use the tried and tested mechanisms such as the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission and the proposals sealed in the Cairo Declaration, including the proposal recently advanced by the head of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives Aguila Saleh, who has recently visited Moscow. I am referring to the establishment of truly collective and equal bodies of power where all the three historical regions of Libya will be represented based on a balance of interests. I regard this as an absolutely reasonable proposal.

Question: Is Russia ready to act as a mediator in the conflict around the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam?

Sergey Lavrov: We have offered our assistance, including in the form of technical support, to the conflicting parties. We can do useful things. They know this. The United States has offered its assistance as well. Several meetings have been held in the United States. We welcome the progress achieved so far.

It is encouraging that the sides have recently agreed to stimulate contacts between the concerned ministries. This topic has been discussed at the UN Security Council upon Egypt’s initiative. During the discussion held there, we proposed accelerating the coordination of mutually acceptable approaches based on the existing norms of international law and the interests of the parties involved in this dispute.

Bill Gates and the Depopulation Agenda. Robert F. Kennedy Junior Calls for an Investigation

By Peter Koenig

Global Research, April 18, 2020

For over twenty years Bill Gates and his Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have been vaccinating foremost children by the millions in remote areas of poor countries, mostly Africa and Asia. Most of their vaccination program had disastrous results, causing the very illness (polio, for example in India) and sterilizing young women (Kenya, with modified tetanus vaccines). Many of the children died. Many of the programs were carried out with the backing of the WHO and – yes – the UN Agency responsible for the Protection of Children, UNICEF. 

Most of these vaccination campaigns were implemented without the informed-consent of the children, parents, guardians or teachers, nor with the informed-consent, or with forged consent, of the respective government authorities. In the aftermath, The Gates Foundation was sued by governments around the world, Kenya, India, the Philippines – and more.

Bill Gates has a strange image of himself. He sees himself as The Messiah who saves the world through vaccination – and through population reduction.

Around the time, when the 2010 Rockefeller Report was issued, with its even more infamous “Lock Step” Scenario, precisely the scenario of which we are living the beginning right now, Bill Gates talked on a TED show in California, “Innovating to Zero” about the use of energy.

He used this TED presentation to promote his vaccination programs, literally saying, “If we are doing a real good job vaccinating childen, we can reduce the world population by 10% to 15%”.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaF-fq2Zn7I) .

This sounds very much like eugenics.

The video, the first 6’45”, “The Truth about Bill Gates and his Disastrous Vaccination Program”, will tell you all about it.

Read also Gates’ Globalist Vaccine Agenda: a Win-Win for Pharma and Mandatory Vaccination by Robert F Kennedy Jr

Robert F Kennedy Jr, an avid Defender of Children’s Rights and anti-vaccination activist, has launched a petition sent to the White House, calling for “Investigations into the ‘Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’ for Medical Malpractice & Crimes Against HumanityCoronavirus – No Vaccine Is Needed to Cure It

Screenshot 

“At the forefront of this is Bill Gates, who has publicly stated his interest in “reducing population growth” by 10-15%, by means of vaccination. Gates, UNICEF & WHO have already been credibly accused of intentionally sterilizing Kenyan children through the use of a hidden HCG antigen in tetanus vaccines”. (Excerpt from text of Petition)

Link to the Petition.

If you wish to Sign the Petition click Here  

(At the time of writing, the petition had over 265,000. It requires 100,000 for an answer from the White House)

Video: Robert F. Kennedy Junior

See also brief video featuring Author Bill Still ( 6 min) entitled The Truth about Bill Gates and his disastrous Vaccination Programs around the World

Robert. F. Kennedy Exposes Bill Gates’ Vaccination Agenda

Now Mr. Gates and his allies, including Big-Pharma, WHO, UNICEF, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of NIAID / NIH, a close ally of Mr. Gates  – and of course, Agenda ID2020, are proposing to (force) vaccinate 7 billion people around the globe, with their concoction of a (so far) untested coronavirus vaccine. This is a multi-billion dollar bonanza for  Big Pharma and for all those who support the vaccine. Nobody will really know what the vaccine cocktail will contain. They intend to start with the Global South (Developing Countries) and then gradually move North (Developed Countries).

Mind you, there is no need for a vaccine to cure the corona virus. There are many cures:

French Professor Didier Raoult, who is one of the world’s top 5 scientists on communicable diseases, suggested the use of hydroxychloroquine (Chloroquine or Plaquenil), a well-known, simple, and inexpensive drug, also used to fight Malaria, and that has shown efficacy with previous coronaviruses such as SARS.  By mid-February 2020, clinical trials at his institute and in China already confirmed that the drug could reduce the viral load and bring spectacular improvement. Chinese scientists published their first trials on more than 100 patients and announced that the Chinese National Health Commission would recommend Chloroquine in their new guidelines to treat Covid-19. (Peter Koenig, April 1, 2020)

Be aware, awake, alert and warned.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; Greanville Post; Defend Democracy Press, TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Peter Koenig, Global Research, 2020

Algeria, one year after the fall of Bouteflika

Source

April 8, 2020 – 14:53

Algeria is marking the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of the longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to resign following the outbreak of massive popular uprising, calling for fundamental political change.  

Bouteflika’s last public appearance was on April 2 last year, when he was seen on television handing his resignation to the-then Constitutional Council’s President Tayeb Belaiz. He responded favorably to the pressure of his resignation. He stepped down on April 2nd reversing his decision to seek a fifth term in power, however, this decision has failed to appease protesters and satisfy their claims. Protesters, young and old, men and women from all walks of life, indeed, remained in the streets every Friday re-appropriating long confiscated public spaces and calling for the overhaul of the whole system and the sweeping away of the remnants of Bouteflika’s inner circle, viewed as corrupt. They have directed drawing rage at the political elite they blame driving the country to a political deadlock and economic collapse.

One year later, the political landscape has shifted dramatically. Abdelaziz Bouteflika is out. In prison today are a slew of the previous regime figures; former prime ministers and other once-powerful establishment figures, including Bouteflika’s brother, Said, Chief police Abdelghani Hamel.

According to the Algerian Constitution, the then Speaker of the Council of the Nation Abdelkader Bensalah was named Head of State. This latter announced, in September, that the presidential elections, already postponed twice, are scheduled for Dec. 12 in a bid to put an end to the political crisis witnessed in Algeria and calm down the ire of months-long protests demanding the departure of the old guard and corruption-ridden system. In fact, polls were planned, initially, for April 18 and then July 4. However, they were postponed, for the second time, due to a lack of viable candidates, plunging the country into a crisis. 

The third electoral Rendez-vous was seen as a safe way-out to the political crisis the nation has been going through for almost 10 months, amid weekly popular protests demanding radical change, allowing the candidate deems fit to take the reins of the country with a view to charting a new era in the North African country and allowing it to turn the page on 10 months of protests and build the rule of law. Effectively, Algeria was voting for the first time in the post-Bouteflika period on Thursday, December, 12 for a new president, hoping that this achievement will be a passage that leads the North African country to a new bright and promising era, where the Algerian people would finally be able to achieve their legitimate aspirations for a decent life.

Former Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune snatched 58.15% of the vote, trouncing his four fellow contenders. He won Algeria’s decisive presidential election without the need for a second-round runoff, replacing the long-serving president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Tebboune, for his part, expressed determination, on his swearing-in ceremony,  to meet all the protesters’ demands with a view to ending the political blockage.

For his part, the powerful army Major General the late Ahmed Gaid Salah, who sided by the hirakists and pushed for the ouster of Bouteflika and other members of his regime, is out of the picture, having died following a sudden heart attack just four days after attending Tebboune’s swearing-in ceremony. This death comes as shock to many. General Said Chengriha replaced him as the military’s interim army chief of staff. Thousands of Algerians take to the streets in the capital to pay their respects and tribune during the funeral procession.

Protests, for their parts, are still taking place, except for this period as the coronavirus outbreak in the country, targeting goals, like providing social services, promoting human rights, or fighting corruption. Two months ago, they marked the first anniversary of  Hirak, this unprecedented protest movement in the country, which rose up against the ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fifth term. There is a little doubt that it is one of the longest, most resilient and most peaceful political movements in both Algeria and the region’s recent history. It has proven its unity and peaceful nature. All the indicators say that it is to continue after the coronavirus is repelled because grievances have not been all addressed.

In other signs of recent visible changes, a wide “Clean Hands” campaign with a view to rooting out corruption linked to top tycoons and high-ranked government officials, has been launched. Several high-ranking officials, former Prime Ministers, including Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal, Ex- and current Ministers, tycoons from powerful families with links to the former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and Heads of major companies and financial institutions were being questioned on corruption-related cases and then given huge sentences, and given lengthy prison terms following landmark televised trials.  Different investigations into corruption, customs-related violations, and other financial wrongdoing have been launched too, targeting the most powerful tycoons in Algeria, most of them were remanded in custody.

In addition to investigations into hampering the well- functioning of the army and State targeting members of the ruling elite, namely;  Said Bouteflika, the former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s youngest brother and two former intelligence chiefs, the Generals Bachir Athman Tartan and his predecessor, General Mohamed Madine, aka Gen. Toufik. A military court convicted the brother of ousted President Bouteflika, Said Bouteflika, who had wielded enormous influence as a gatekeeper to his ailing brother while in office. He was seen as the linchpin of an opaque clique of politicians and business leaders who influenced decision-making at the top of the gas-exporting North African country. The advisor and key aide of the former President of the Republic Bouteflika is incarcerated in Blida prison and sentenced to heaving prison term alongside the other co-defendants – two former intelligence chiefs.

Ex-Prime Ministers, namely: Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal were, also, convicted for multiple accusations; embezzlement of public money, abuse of office and granting of undue privileges. Other officials and Ex and current Governors are due to appear before the investigating judge at the Supreme Court.

Since his election, Tebboune has reached out to protesters, calling for dialogue, introducing some appeasement measures including freeing some detainees and vowing to amend the constitution to give Parliament and the judiciary more power. 

Regarding his priorities as President of the Republic, Tebboune said that, at the political level, he intends to carry out a profound and extensive constitutional reform, involving academics, intellectuals, specialists and members of the national community living abroad, and effectively, the President had started consultations and received the first draft of the constitution to be put for a broad dialogue.

Between 500 and 700 copies of this first version will be distributed to all stakeholders concerned by the revision of the country’s Basic Law, in addition to publication on a website dedicated to the constitutional revision and on social networks so as to allow all citizens to debate and enrich the text.

The President, through the amendment of the constitution, seeks to fulfill the demands of the people and address their grievances, including decrees that reduce the powers of the President, reduce the presidential terms to one, able to be renewed once, protect Algeria from falling into individual rule and create a balance between institutions, ensuring separation of powers, build a strong State where citizens, equal before the law, exercise their rights freely and lawfully and establish the rule of law and equal opportunities that will be the essence of the new Algeria, committing to setting radical change of the governing system, through deepening democracy and the rule of law, reinforcing social justice, and protecting human rights.

To this end, a referendum on the amendments is expected in the summer, followed by legislative elections by the end of the year. With an anticipated increased role of parliament within the new constitution, a new road for Algeria will be introduced. New parties are expected to emerge ahead of elections, significantly changing the political scene.

This month, Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad pitched his government’s plan of action – dubbed “a new deal for a new Algeria” to parliament, promising to “cleanse the disastrous heritage” of past governance.

With respect to the economy, Tebboune voiced his will to establish a diversified economy that generates jobs and wealth. He periodically chairs meetings with the new members of government to start developing an action plan to be presented to Parliament with a view to saving economy from collapse and reform education, universities, and the health treatment system. He appointed the technocrat Abdelaziz Djerad as Prime Minister on Sec.28, 2019 and banned the practice of addressing the President as “His Excellency”. He appointed, as well, young ministers.

As we know, Algeria faces the herculean task of transforming its economy to meet the pressing demands of a young, growing, and increasingly restless population. Despite the country’s favorable demographics, its economy remains almost entirely dependent on oil and natural gas, which account for 95% of merchandise exports. Unfortunately, Algeria’s economy is in trouble. It is facing the effects of nearly decades of energy-sector dominance and, in some cases, mismanagement.

Algeria’s tighter economic circumstances have hindered the state’s ability to provide services properly. Inflation and a concomitant increase in the cost of living have made it more difficult for many to secure daily needs.

Energy consumption is also rising at a fast pace in the country, so much that the national gas company, Sonatrach, estimates that it will exceed domestic production by 2025 if better efficiency and new fields are not found. Algeria is, therefore, in dire need of economic diversification.

Tebboune’s  government is entitled to carry out the required economic reforms to end the economy’s reliance on oil through the new economic growth paradigm, empowering the private sector and reshaping the social contract. Former governments have sought to implement similar reforms, but their bids fell short of achieving the goals.

Socially, Tebboune granted a presidential pardon to up to 15000 prisoners and released some of  Hirak detainees, including revered national figure Lakhdar Bouregaa and those arrested for their public statements, their posts on social networks, the carrying of the Berber flag, their activism, etc. This latter has become over the weeks one of the main demands of the popular movement, as the trauma of widespread arrests has had a multiplier effect on protesters.

Internationally, Algeria is getting more involved in regional issues, promising to meditate for finding solutions to unrest in neighboring Libya and the Sahel region. 

In his first speech since being sworn into office, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune confirmed Algiers’ previous stances on various policies, stressing on Algeria’s fundamental principles, namely: the defense of national independence, the recovery of national identity, the denial of any form of interference, refusal of any foreign military base on its soil, rejection of alliance policy and military pacts, and active participation in the struggle against underdevelopment and poverty, principle of reciprocity, the non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs and the peaceful settlement of crises.

 Algeria remains a pivotal country at the African, Mediterranean and Arab levels. During Bouteflika post-era, Algeria continues to play a leading role in the settlement of different crises as it did in the past in Mali where an agreement was signed in Algeria’s capital “Algiers” bringing the warring parties together. It categorically rejects the formulation of alliances to attack sovereign countries, for instance, it refused, in the strongest terms, to join the Saudi-led Military Alliance, considering it as an act of aggression.

Regarding Western Sahara,  Tebboune highlighted Algiers’ policy towards this conflict, renewing the country’s unwavering and unconditional support for the legitimate right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination through a free and fair referendum, and to stand by its side to reach a permanent solution to its just cause in accordance with international law and legitimacy, in line with the United Nations doctrine of decolonization.

Broaching the situation in Libya, Algeria is still attached to the stability of this country, refusing to be kept out of the settlement process.

Algeria, under the leadership of President Tebboune, will continue to play a leading role in the resolution of the crisis in Libya. The main principles of the Algerian initiative are known. The solution can only be political and peaceful and can only come from the Libyans themselves with international support and notably neighboring countries.

Algeria has, as part of its efforts aimed at reaching a solution to the Libyan crisis, relaunched, this year, several mechanisms gave the effects of the Libyan conflict on this country. Algiers hosted, on January 13th, the foreign minister meeting of Libya’s neighboring countries (Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Chad, Sudan, and Niger) to establish coordination and promote dialogue between these countries and the international players so that to accompany the Libyans in the revitalization of the political settlement process of the crisis through an inclusive dialogue between the different Libyan parties.

Besides, Former Algerian foreign minister Ramtane Lamamra is being considered as UN envoy to Libya, after Ghassan Salame resigned from the post earlier this month. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been consulting with U.N. Security Council members about appointing former Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra as his new Libya envoy,

With respect to Arab causes, President Tebboune remains stressing that the Palestinian issue is a constant of the foreign policy of the Algerian state. Algeria will remain a support for Palestine and its people who are fighting against a brute colonial force until the achievement of its independent state.

More recently, Algeria voiced rejection of the Middle East peace plan sponsored by US President Donald Trump, which gives the Zionist Entity the right to have Jerusalem El Quds as its capital.

Besides, Algeria still asks the League of Arab States to end the freeze on Syria’s membership and to re-represent it again in its meetings and activities, especially that this year’s Summit will be held in Algeria. Syria has been suspended from the Arab League since 2012, when a coalition of countries, led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, voted to suspend their membership.

According to Algerian Radio, Boukadoum said: “the absence of Syria has caused great harm to the League and the Arabs.” He would add that “we must push for the return of Syria’s membership and work for Damascus to return to the League of Arab States.”

Internally, the protest movement remains unstructured and leaderless, with some opposition figures refusing to get involved in dialogue with the President. However, this lack of leadership became a disadvantage as polarising opinions on strategy and future objectives and steps become more common.

Protest movements in Algeria, for the second year, are still thronging the streets. Two months ago, they marked the first anniversary of  Hirak, this unprecedented protest movement in the country. All the indicators say that it is to continue after the coronavirus is repelled because grievances have not been all addressed.

True the presidential election of December 12, 2019, has put an end to the institutional vacuum. It is, therefore, necessary for the newly elected President to face reality and take charge of the economic and social challenges.

The newly-elected Algerian president is facing complex political and economic challenges. He has inherited a tough economic situation from his predecessor, as the country’s foreign reserves have dropped to around 35 billion U.S. dollars following the slump of oil prices in the global market.

A few months later, his government is entitled to carry out the required economic reforms to end the economy’s reliance on oil through the new economic growth paradigm, empowering the private sector and reshaping the social contract. Former governments have sought to implement similar reforms, but their bids fell short of achieving the goals.

Politically, a total transformation and core reforms are needed, including a new constitution and a new electoral system as promised by the president, taking into account authentic democratic principles such as; free and fair elections, genuinely independent political parties, political participation, and freedom of expression.

Western intellectuals freak over ‘Frankenstein’ China

July 17, 2019

by Pepe Escobar : Posted with permission

Western intellectuals freak over ‘Frankenstein’ China

Western economists and intellectuals obsessed with demonization of China are never shy of shortcuts glaringly exposing their ignorance.

The latest outburst posits that “we” – as in Western intellectuals – “are the modern version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” who electro-shocked a dead body (China) into a resurrected “murderous monster.”

So, welcome to the Sino-Frankenstein school of international relations. What next? A black and white remake with Xi Jinping playing the monster? Anyway, “we” – as in mankind’s best hope – should “avoid carrying on in the role of Frankenstein.”

The author is an economics professor emeritus at Harvard. He cannot even identify who’s to blame for Frankenstein – the West or the Chinese. That says much about Harvard’s academic standards.

Now, compare this with what was being discussed at a trade war symposium at Renmin University in Beijing this past Saturday.

Chinese intellectuals were trying to frame the current geopolitical dislocation provoked by the Trump administration’s trade war – without naming it for what it is: a Frankenstein gambit.

Li Xiangyang, director of the National Institute of International Strategy, a think tank linked to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, stressed that an “economic decoupling” of the US from China is “completely possible,” considering that “the ultimate [US] target is to contain China’s rise … This is a life-or-death game” for the United States.

Decoupling

Assuming the decoupling would take place, that could be easily perceived as “strategic blackmail” imposed by the Trump administration. Yet what the Trump administration wants is not exactly what the US establishment wants – as shown by an open letter to Trump signed by scores of academics, foreign policy experts and business leaders who are worried that “decoupling” China from the global economy – as if Washington could actually pull off such an impossibility – would generate massive blowback.

What may actually happen in terms of a US-China “decoupling” is what Beijing is already, actively working on: extending trade partnerships with the EU and across the Global South.

And that will lead, according to Li, to the Chinese leadership offering deeper and wider market access to its partners. This will soon be the case with the EU, as discussed in Brussels in the spring.

Sun Jie, a researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that deepening partnerships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will be essential in case a decoupling is in the cards.

For his part Liu Qing, an economics professor at Renmin University, stressed the need for top international relations management, dealing with everyone from Europe to the Global South, to prevent their companies from replacing Chinese companies in selected global supply chains.

And Wang Xiaosong, an economics professor at Renmin University, emphasized that a concerted Chinese strategic approach in dealing with Washington is absolutely paramount.

All about Belt and Road

A few optimists among Western intellectuals would rather characterize what is going on as a vibrant debate between proponents of “restraint” and “offshore balancing” and proponents of “liberal hegemony”. In fact, it’s actually a firefight.

Among the Western intellectuals singled out by the puzzled Frankenstein guy, it is virtually impossible to find another voice of reason to match Martin Jacques, now a senior fellow at Cambridge University. When China Rules the World, his hefty tome published 10 years ago, still leaps out of an editorial wasteland of almost uniformly dull publications by so-called Western “experts” on China.

Jacques has understood that now it’s all about the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative: “BRI has the potential to offer another kind of world, another set of values, another set of imperatives, another way of organizing, another set of institutions, another set of relationships.”

Belt and Road, adds Jacques, “offers an alternative to the existing international order. The present international order was designed by and still essentially privileges the rich world, which represents only 15% of the world’s population. BRI, on the other hand, is addressing at least two-thirds of the world’s population. This is extraordinarily important for this moment in history.”

In fact, we are already entering a Belt and Road 2.0 scenario – defined by Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi as a “high-quality” shift from “big freehand” to “fine brushwork.”

At the Belt and Road Forum this past spring in Beijing, 131 nations were represented, engaged in linked projects. Belt and Road is partnering with 29 international organizations from the World Bank to APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Apart from the fact that Belt and Road is now configured as a vast, unique, Eurasia-wide infrastructure and trade development project extending all the way to Africa and Latin America, Beijing is now emphasizing that it’s also a portmanteau brand encompassing bilateral trade relations, South-South cooperation and UN-endorsed sustainable development goals.

China’s trade with Belt and Road-linked nations reached $617.5 billion in the first half of 2019 – up 9.7% year-on-year and outpacing the growth rate of China’s total trade.

Chinese scholar Wang Jisi was right from the start when he singled out Belt and Road as a “strategic necessity” to counter Barack Obama’s now-defunct “pivot to Asia”.

So now it’s time for Western intellectuals to engage on a freak-out: as it stands, Belt and Road is the new Frankenstein.

Understanding America’s “regime change” strategy in Russia

June 19, 2019

Understanding America’s “regime change” strategy in Russia

by Ollie Richardson for The Saker Blog

In what is a very timely admission taking into account the topic of my last article – 21st century international relations and decision-making, the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (Служба внешней разведки Российской Федерации), Sergey Naryshkin, pointed to a low risk method of “hybrid” warfare and named a specific example where it is being implemented. RT reported the following on June 18th (emphasis my own):

“Western secret services are perfecting clandestine tools which are designed to weaken countries like viruses weaken bodies, the Russian foreign intelligence chief has said. This kind of warfare is currently used in Venezuela.

The criticism came from Sergey Naryshkin, who heads Russia’s foreign intelligence agency SVR. He said spies are constantly improving the tool used to dispose of governments that the West does not like.

‘We are talking about creating a universal algorithm for conducting clandestine influence operations in a continuous manner and on a global scale,’ he said. According to the official, this clandestine work ‘never stops and targets not only enemies, but also friends and neutral powers in the times of peace, crisis and war.’

‘It can be compared to the action of a virus; it can spend decades destroying a human organism without symptoms, and once diagnosed, often it’s too late to treat it.’

The methods used to influence and destabilize other nations include creating network-oriented structures that can operate on a premise of public activism, art, science, religion or extremism, the Russian official said. After collecting data on the fault lines in a targeted society, those structures are used to attack those weak points in a synchronized assault, overwhelming the nation’s capability to respond to crises.

Simultaneously the perpetrators push a narrative through local and global media and social networks that claims that the only way to resolve problems is to replace the government of the victim nation with another one, possibly with a direct foreign support.

‘We can observe this scenario being implemented in Venezuela,’ Naryshkin said.

The US is currently trying to replace Venezuela’s elected President Nicolas Maduro with another person, Juan Guaido, whom Washington recognized as the legitimate head of the South American nation.

Among others, the US backs his bid with economic sanctions against Venezuela and a massive diplomatic and media campaign in support of the pretender. Guaido’s attempts to actually seize power in Caracas have been futile, so far.

The Russian intelligence chief was speaking at an international security forum in Ufa, Russia, which is hosted by the Russian National Security Council. The event is meant for officials directly involved in policy making on security issues. Almost 120 nations are participating in this year’s gathering.”

I will start by saying that Naryshkin could reveal a lot more if he wanted to, but for obvious reasons is limited to presenting an abstract thesis – which RT “coincidently” relayed – as a sort of signal to Western intelligence agencies that Russia’s room to manoeuvre in the information space isn’t limited to just publishing “news”.

On the surface it might seem like he is just describing a banal coup d’état, where one state interferes in the internal affairs of another state for the purpose of overthrowing the government and bringing to power a political circle that is friendlier. If one prefers simplistic and digestible takeaways, then one can stop reading here – nothing new under the sun!

However, what the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service is alluding to is a far more complex and dense matter. As history has shown, the traditional coup d’état, akin to what has been seen in the MENA and South America for decades now, is not the same as the coup d’état that was rolled out in, for example, Ukraine in 2014. Why?

The precursor to the “colour revolution”

The main reason is that the West has been working on occupying MENA’s lands and raw materials for decades. If the countries of MENA can be said to be tribalistic in terms of structure and aims (more about daily survival than paying bills at the end of the month), then post-WW2 Europe is at first glance much more “developed” and “civilised”. I put these words in quotation marks because they are the generic phrases that organisations like the UN use when describing how MENA should aspire to become “more democratic” and “progressive” in order to “combat poverty” and become “prosperous”. In other words, MENA in general is not as technologically advanced as modern nation states with liberal “democracies”. This is not an insult to MENA; it is simply an observable fact based on the consequences of colonisation. Thus, the scheme for conquering MENA territory is more straightforward than it would be for conquering, for example, Eastern Europe. There is a leader, there is a small circle of wealthy elites, there is an army (armed loyalists), and there are farmers/manual labour workers. Anglo-Saxon colonisers managed to conquer the lands long before the victim nation is able to climb the ladder of scientific research and thus obtain more and more effective ways of defending themselves.

In the example of the Native Indians, the British already had basic guns, thus the former’s bows and arrows were inferior. In the case of Africa, notorious colonisers (which includes the British) arrived with the same guns and were faced with only spears and other relatively primitive weapons. Hence why almost the entire African continent was subjugated so easily. The difference between just general colonisation and a coup d’état can be seen most visibly after the CIA is formed: overthrowing a “dictator” becomes as simple as literally buying off the army (like how the UK pioneered the use of pirates), which allows the capitalist West to take care of business and use its media resources to report another “peaceful” and “successful” “democratisation” project. As soon as a leader manages to come to power and aims to challenge this subjugation (Gaddafi being the most recent MENA example, but there is also Patrice Lumumba and Thomas Sankara), they experience the same problem – they are simply overpowered by the more technologically advanced coloniser.

When it comes to coup d’états in the post-Soviet space, the game is different. For over 60 years the USSR had succeeded to repel the influence of the “free” (capitalist) Anglo-Saxons – thanks to a focus on scientific research and thus nuclear technologies – and create a tightly knit Union based on common history and culture. In the West the governments told their citizens that “on that side of the curtain they are ‘totalitarian’”, whilst in reality America & Co struggled to influence Soviet society and didn’t want their own citizens to see that in the Soviet system of governance everybody had something, as opposed to some people having everything (capitalism). In other words, the USSR was able to defend itself against the traditional coup d’état method.

Due to the fact that the USSR was a developed territory and had much more complex political structures than those of the average African country, it wasn’t as simple as just sending Thomas Lawrence or Sidney Reilly and duping local kingpins into signing agreements that essentially renounce raw material ownership rights. And it is also important to bear in mind that the Soviet intelligence agencies were doing battle with the CIA long before 1991. The changing of times simply obliged the West to update the coup d’état playbook before the target country progressed along the line of scientific development and establishes a defence mechanism that is technologically 20 years ahead of the US’ subversive tools.

Not being physically able to intimidate the USSR enough into submitting to its will since the latter had nuclear weapons, Uncle Sam realised that it was much more wiser and safer to blow it up from the inside. In this article I don’t want to digress too much from the central topic, thus I will not present a mass of details of how America managed to penetrate the USSR and inject it’s liberal ideas throughout society, but a good brief example I can give is the shipping of American clothes/fashion to Soviet ports, such as Odessa. Today this might be called “soft power”, but at the time in question such things served to convince people that individualism could give a more fruitful life than collectivism.

The 2014 coup d’état in Ukraine utilised an upgraded blueprint that was based on the one used to dismantle the Soviet Union (and spark the 1993 constitutional crisis). When the USSR collapsed in 1991, Ukraine found itself in the position of being the wealthiest inheritor of the Soviet legacy: its infrastructure, medicine, education, military, etc was the best in the region. Things started to go pear-shaped around 2004, when America’s interference started to reach new heights at the time of the “multi-vectoral” Kuchma, but the Ukraine of 2014 under Yanukovych was relatively-speaking above the water and swimming comfortably. In an attempt to oust Putin before Russia comes even closer to China, strengthens, and forms the backbone of the emerging Eurasian bloc, America planned to disrupt the equilibrium in Ukraine and violently tear it away from the Russian nation. But the problem for America was “how to make this process look organic? After all, to simply invade Ukraine with the US Army would result in the liquidation of the United States of America itself.”

I will not use precious article space recounting what happened in 2013/2014 in Ukraine, since I have created an archive dedicated to it, but I think the video below – John Tefft in 2013 preparing the terrain in Donetsk for what was about to happen – encapsulates the essence of it very well: US NGOs brainwashed society into flirting with liberalism and its noxious “democracy”, similar to that virus Sergey Naryshkin spoke about; local Galician militant formations are formed (main example: “Right Sector”) and capture administration buildings in Western Ukraine, before eventually being transported to Kiev for the February “revolution”.

“Colour revolution 2.0”

What I really want to focus on is the coup d’état model that is being deployed by America & Co in 2019. So far we can say that there are 3 versions of the coup d’état technology (I am being deliberately simplistic, and I use provisional names and descriptions, since I am still researching this topic):

  1. Traditional coup d’état – a simple smash and grab, effective against the so-called “third world” (examples: Laos, Guatemala, Zaire);
  2. “Colour revolution” – temporarily hijacking “civil society”, effective against more technologically sophisticated states but not superpowers (examples: Egypt, Syria, “independent” Ukraine);
  3. Algorithmic probing (can be thought of as “colour revolution 2.0”) – seizing control over the nation from the ground-up, effective against allies of nuclear superpowers post-2015, when the Minsk Agreements were signed and Russian jets touched down at Hmeymim airbase in Syria (examples: Venezuela, Hong Kong, Russia, Serbia).

Before starting to elaborate on version No. 3, which concerns the post-Syrian-war (I stress, Russia ended the war in 2015 – everything that happened afterwards is just behind the curtain negotiations concerning the next 50+ years of global order) world, it is necessary to present some of the reasons why version No. 2 no longer works:

  • Social media hashtag campaigns like those seen during the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood “revolution” no longer have the same effect due to the exponentially increasing mobilisation of anti-coup (“pro-Russia”/“pro-Assad”/“pro-Maduro”/“pro-Nasrallah”) social media users;
  • It became too difficult to keep the aesthetics of the operation consistently clean – the “White Helmets” may do something that discredits their alleged authenticity, the speaker of the Rada may state that “Hitler was a great leader”, a senior Qatari figure may admit live on TV that Qatar funded militant groups in order to remove Assad, Bana might botch a tweet, a video may emerge showing a “FSA” leader reading a script in front of an American producer, etc;
  • The popularity of mainstream media is becoming less and less (not to mention the effect of Trump’s “fake news” PR campaign), and the popularity of both non-Western state media (RT, Sputnik, Press TV, Telesur, etc) and independent (or apparently independent) media is exponentially growing;
  • Alternative social media websites/apps have since become popular amongst English speakers (VKontakte, Telegram, Instagram, Gab, Snapchat, etc);
  • Eurasia was able to study the past behaviour of the both West’s traditional resources and social media users, allowing to refine its existing resources and to even create new, specialised ones;
  • The existence of independent and anti-coup journalists who are prepared to travel between different theatres (for example, Syria and Venezuela) and expose the pattern of the West’s “regime change” methods.
  • The weakening of the effect of smearing expressions like “anti-Semitism” due to the accumulation effect of reports about Israeli crimes in Gaza and the West Bank;
  • The general strengthening of Eurasia and the decline of the liberal West (and the opportunities it has to violate international law as a result), thus the citizens of the former don’t have a reason to believe that the latter is the paradise it pretends it is;
  • etc.

In other words, the geopolitical reality we have today is not at all the same as the one that we saw before Russia’s involvement in Syria – the highest stakes chessboard in the grand game. Lessons were learnt from the past and enough time has passed for changes to be calculated and implemented. Today, superpowers are obliged to invest exponentially more resources in technologies (hence why Russia wants to invest heavily in the AI sector), since understanding the enemy’s technologies is the difference between them successfully or unsuccessfully penetrating society. And it’s not a coincidence that Naryshkin starts to use terms like “virus”. But what does he really mean? What are the design differences between a regular “colour revolution” and what we are seeing today in, for example, Venezuela?

Firstly, a “colour revolution” is designed to hijack “civil society” over a period of several months (less than 6 months), obtain the support of the elites, and aims to put the target leader in front of two bad choices – a trap: to quell protests means to be depicted by the West’s NGO’s as a “dictator”, and thus the West doesn’t risk receiving a information blow to its rear (if Western society doesn’t agree with something the government is doing, an adversary can exploit it and disrupt the socio-economic situation of a western country or of many western countries); to not quell the protests means to simply hand over power. This explains what happened to Viktor Yanukovych – he did not give the order to Berkut to disperse Maidan for fear of being permanently stained in the Western media, so Joe Biden and his band of merry putschists, after a bit of sniper theatrics to keep the protests alive, took the Rada. Lose-lose. In this scenario Russia could do nothing since a) Ukrainians and their elites are ultimately to blame for flirting with the West, and b) Yanukovych chose the passive option, and thus the only thing Moscow could do was to quickly forecast the consequences and move several step ahead of the US (hence the supercomputers that know about the Yugoslavia war). The result? The Minsk Agreements and the driving of the US’ “anti-Russia” project into a dead end.

Secondly, a “colour revolution” hijacks momentary social discontent in relation to a particular issue, inflates it, and then unleashes it in a very focused manner. The discontent needs to be fed financially and thus can be left to extinguish if plans change. It should be noted here that the target society must already show signs of fragmentation: the work to gradually tear Ukraine away from the bosom of Russia (since the collapse of the USSR) has been ongoing for decades, and over time Kiev succumbed to the West’s Banderist poison, thus the 2014 coup simply brought to the surface what had been boiling below since the times of the NKVD’s battle with OUN-UPA. Syria is very similar –Wahhabism had been nibbling away at the Levant for decades. Of course, the ties between Hafez/Bashar al-Assad and the Russia/USSR have existed for over 30 years, but it cannot be said that the two countries have had a relationship based more on pragmatism.

Thirdly, a “colour revolution” involves the creation of an informational hologram that proverbially floats above the target territory, creating a parallel timeline (example: the green/black/white French mandate flag as the actual Syrian flag, and the Higher Negotiations Committee as the actual UN recognised government of Syria – both of which are of course frauds but allow NATO members to bomb Syria without any indignation from the Western general public), but starts to fade as soon as the balance of forces in the war on the ground tips in the target’s favour (not even the US media machine can sell the narrative that East Aleppo still hasn’t been recaptured by Assad).

Fourthly, a “colour revolution” does not aim to reprogram all the layers of non-elite society in all regions of the country – it only aims to introduce liberal ideas and maintain the support of both those who are already brainwashed and those who succumb to the inculcation. Those who were anti-liberal before will remain anti-liberal post-coup, and thus pose a threat to the puppet regime. Ukraine here is an excellent example of this, where the profoundness of the historical Novorossiya vs Galicia line of divide could be overcome with a few cookies and $5 billion in NGO money.

Version No. 3 of the coup d’état, which in this article I refer to as “algorithmic probing”, is thus designed to: take place over a longer period of time; be fed at the expense of the target government and link together various sources of social discontent; be able to work in conditions where there is no existing ground-based warfare and the likelihood of there being any in the future is low; reprogram the national consciousness and hook all layers of society as geographically far and as wide as possible; make steps towards success even if the elites remain loyal to the target leader.

In situations where the target’s security apparatus is the same, if not better, than the belligerent’s; where society’s average level of trust in the leader is the same, if not higher than the belligerent’s; and where the target’s defence capabilities match, if not overpower, the belligerent’s offensive capabilities; it becomes far too risky for the belligerent to try the “colour revolution” scheme, since failure can compromise any future coup d’état attempts – the coup leader can be detained and may spill the beans concerning who gave him orders and what they were, as well as any valuable intelligence information. The failed coup in Turkey in 2016 was the warning signal to Washington that the habitual “colour revolution” technology will not work in the “multipolar” Eurasian space (hint: Turkey received coup-thwarting intel from allies).

In Venezuela the US is revising its coup d’état technology in real time. There are signs of the “colour revolution” technology: a puppet opposition leader who calls for protests in the street; the expression “the Maduro regime”; imposition of sanctions to give the illusion that the Venezuelan government is starving its own people; even statements like “all options are on the table”, which is PR-friendly way of saying there are no options. There are also some faint signs of “algorithmic probing”: the transferal of assets in the US belonging to the Venezuelan state to the hands of Juan Guaido; the dragging out of the coup d’état (it’s been going on for much longer than 6 months); there is no civil war in the country and it’s unlikely there will be any in the near future, despite the presence of US NGOs in the country.

However, the initial “colour revolution” attempt failed because Russia and China – nuclear superpowers – helped Caracas to weather the storm and keep society together. Later the Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA moved its assets to Moscow, Russia sent polite green men to calm down the US, and Moscow and China both sent humanitarian aid (as well as “humanitarian aid”) for the sanctioned people of the country, and Juan Guaido was exposed so much so that even his rich boyfriend Richard Branson was obliged to throw him under the bus:

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But in this example, like vis-à-vis the Syrian war, Russia doesn’t have to do much informational work in order to justify its involvement, simply because ties between Caracas and Moscow already existed before the Bolton-Pompeo tandem came to power, and Russia would be acting within international law anyway. I.e., the door was slammed shut in the face of the CIA, and in order to re-open it America’s only option is to either remove Russia’s nuclear weapons (and in order to do this the S-400 must be removed from the equation) or to overhaul Venezuelan society at the grass roots level.

The “colour revolution” version of the coup d’état even more so does not work in Putin’s Russia. He has succeeded to build a system that leaves no holes for CIA mice (e.g. successors of Gorbachev, Yeltsin, or other notorious liberal saboteurs) to scurry though. Some might call it “authoritarian”; others might call it coup d’état-resistant.

The CIA-orchestrated Boris Nemtsov assassination served as a test balloon, to learn if the Ukrainian scheme can be repeated (death[s] from gunfire -> protests and clashes with law enforcement -> target president flees). The aim was to gather enough people in Moscow for a “march in memory of Nemtsov” and to replicate what happened on Independent Square in Kiev, but this time outside of the Kremlin (how convenient for propagandist photographers – he was killed on the bridge next to the Kremlin!).

Not enough people came, and the security agencies succeeded to block the path to the Kremlin. Russian senator Evgeny Federov did a fantastic job of explaining this in more detail:

The next experiment was the Navalny card in the run-up to the 2018 presidential election. I recommended to delve into the material found here for more details about this. In brief, the CIA tried to use the image of children being arrested by OMON during unsanctioned protests in order to shake Russian society. The result? Putin outlawed it, and of course, Western propagandists were howling “repression”. Putin won the election anyway, in the presence of international observers too.

Fast forward to the most recent (at the time of writing) provocation – the case of Ivan Golunov, who works for the liberal propagandist agency “Meduza” – and we see familiar things: a fifth-columnist is used as a battering ram designed to shake society and remove the evil “dictator”. An unsanctioned “Golunov is a hero” march took place on June 12th, and analysis of the footage shows that it has nothing to do with journalism and everything about putting Putin in a bad light. The crowd even chants “Russia without Putin”, and one hired clown in particular gave the message a visual aspect.

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Evgeny Federov noted that the Golunov club refused the government’s offer to hold a sanctioned rally on June 16th, since the US needs images of “innocent journalists and activists” being detained by “evil” OMON. Federov’s statement in full:

“There is no doubt that it is an attempt to interfere. Both the US State Department and Brussels made official statements on this issue. They have included their forces, and we know them well, many of the participants in the illegal demonstration are well known to us. From the photos in the police vans, you may remember that these forces repeatedly came out before. Personally, I saw them on Pushkin Square, when Navalny took them there.

These are obvious foreign forces, the fifth column on the territory of Russia, they became active on June 12th. For them, they just need a reason, but the reason has already disappeared, Golunov was released, but they don’t care. The team arrived, the money was received, and they need to put it to use. The actions of the protesters are connected to the general system of shaking the situation that is practiced in the West, primarily in the US. It is enough to see how events were prepared in Ukraine, in Georgia, in Moldova, how they were prepared in hundreds of other countries through foreign intervention using the orange technology method.

Everything happens in the same way everywhere. Firstly, a sacred victim is selected, and then proven groups who don’t care about the cause are used. The main thing for them is that the performance is against Russia and in support of foreign handlers. Completely the same scheme works in Russia concerning garbage collection and in Ekaterinburg. No matter what the reason, the most important thing is to continue to shake the situation. And I stress that the Americans managed to do this many times. At the second echelon, they usually involve separatists, and this is also being prepared in Russia.”

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:Screenshots:Screenshot 2019-06-19 at 00.00.00.pngThus, instead of holding a sanctioned march on June 16th, a “support Golunov” event took place. The turnout for this rally was pathetic. As Federov says, Putin neutralised the Golunov bomb by releasing the “journalist” and sacrificing some police generals. Of course, the social media attacks followed the same script as with Navalny’s unsanctioned protests and arrests (there is no indignation vis-à-vis Kirill Vyshinsky’s detention, naturally):

The fifth column media in Russia in unison started to promote the “I/We are Golunov” NGO campaign. UK newspapers presented the situation as Putin “backing down” and claimed that the “independent press is harassed, which in reality means that the FSB doesn’t let the fifth column breathe. There were also attempts (example) to stretch the Golunov template over other “unlawful arrests”. And the cherry on the cake is that it turns out that the clown Navalny was present at the unsanctioned Golunov march:

There are of course other examples of US-instigated agitation in Russian society – ranging from churches in Ekaterinburg to pension reform – but they all show the same traits of a “colour revolution” and encounter the same problem: Putin is one step ahead of them.

Long story short, America’s post-Syrian war application of its “colour revolution” technology is inadequate when it comes to toppling either the leaders of nuclear superpowers or the leaders of their ally countries (and it’s not just Eurasia that is the target of these attacks – Trump also attacks the EU [example and example], the individual states of which qualify, if to use Naryshkin’s expression, as “friends and neutral powers in the times of peace, crisis and war”). And taking into account the activity of both Russia and China in Africa today, this inadequacy can mean that the “third world” countries that previously were bulldozed by the most basic method of capturing state power may start to escape from the net of colonisation and enjoy the protection offered by Russia’s “algorithmic counter-probing”. After all, that’s what Venezuela is basically doing, and it’s the only reason Maduro, like Assad, is still in power.

Why do I use the word “algorithmic”?

If we recall, in my previous article I introduced the idea that the foreign policy decision-making of nuclear superpowers is being assisted by supercomputers, simply because the way in which we communicate and send/receive data is becoming exponentially quicker, and the human brain is not able to process such data at such speed. Because of this rapidity of communication, it has meant that one state can encroach on the sovereignty of another state (both digitally and physically), deal a blow, and withdraw to relative safety before the target has the time to adequately respond. Thus, the deployment of the S-400 allowed Russia to establish certain rules in international relations that a) take pressure off Russia’s nuclear weapons – the deterrent of all deterrents, and b) exert pressure on America in such a way that Washington currently – and probably not for the next 25 years at least – has no way of countering it.

So we understand from the description directly above that, like in any system, there can be latency/lag when it comes to responding. I have mentioned in the past how Russia was caught off balance with the first “White Helmets” false flag (Ghouta in 2013, which was designed by buy the jihadists time), since it used a media technology that has not been seen before. The second false flag – Khan Shaykhun – was much less sucessful since Russia had already deployed its jets, was able to learn from the previous false flag, and thus adjusted its algorithm (see my previous article, especially the section about media disinformation with complex equations) and deploy a counter media campaign. The third false flag – Douma – was even more of a failure.

The aim of the adversary is to outmanoeuvre the rival in the global information space via a coordinated media and ground campaign (coined by some as “fourth generation warfare”). The “White Helmets” have to film the false flag, and the agencies have to spread the fake footage in parallel, coordinating it with the general daily topics in such a way that the consumer feels that their regular “trustworthy” news service is the same as it’s always been – because of course, the last thing a neoliberal government wants is its subjects starting to entertain the idea that one’s government is sponsoring Al Qaeda. In other words, the higher the geopolitical stakes, the more technologically sophisticated the methods used in the information space.

In this affair it’s not just about the speed of a “hybrid” attack, but also about its composition. One can have the most rapid “input->process->output” informational algorithm, but it is useless if it cannot provide multiple angles of attack.

Here is a very abstract (rushed) diagram I made just to illustrate this point. The black circle represents a designated point in time, when all media resources will parrot “Assad gassed his own people” in sync. The objective of America is to coordinate as many “chemical attack reports” as possible, thus making it look “credible”. The red arrows represent Russia’s counter attack, which will prevent the black circle from growing (the West employing more media resources/NGOs to disseminate the disinformation) or moving forward (the West using the same amount of resources, but reporting “updates” later along the timeline). This is how the attempt to execute a fourth false flag was negated – see hereherehere, and here for examples. As I mentioned in another article, this same preventative tactic was used in Donbass a lot to stop the US’ aggressive exertion of pressure. Of course, the map is not the territory, and the diagram below is not supposed to literally depict how the Russian Ministry of Defence’s supercomputer works.

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:Untitled Diagram.pngThe reader may be thinking “You said that Syria was an example of a ‘colour revolution’, not of ‘algorithmic probing’, so why use it as an example?” The answer is: Syria is not a nuclear superpower, and thus “colour revolution” technology (albeit incrementally improved over the many years of the war) worked. In the case of Russia, “colour revolution” technology doesn’t work, period. So the US’ only option is to try to inject this “virus”, as Naryshkin calls it. Thus, America’s aim is to encroach on the Russian information space without the Russian authorities having the time to repel attacks. When viewed from a gestalt perspective, America would thus have a permanent presence in the Russian information space, since by the time Russia has plugged one hole, another blow will have been landed from another angle.

Navalny, Golunov, the Yeltsin Center, RBK, Kommersant, Novaya Gazeta, Meduza, Roizman, Kasparov, Kasyanov, Gorbachev, Solzhenitsyn – America sure has a lot of assets at its disposal, but they all suffer from the same problem: they are designed to make Western people hate the Russian world (I doubt Russians care what rats like Jeremy Hunt thinks), but they do not noticeably shake the internal situation in Russia. And after all, it is the Russian people themselves who determine the legitimacy of the Russian government, not Joe Blogs in Coventry. As a result, America’s only hope in relation to paralyzing Putin’s legacy is to create a phantom Russian identity that can spark a civil war. This is a topic for another article, but the Russia-friendly reader mustn’t immediately start losing sleep, since I am talking about processes that need 10-20 more years before we can start to judge whether or not America’s coup d’état technology has adapted to the CIA’s needs.

One thing is for sure: as long as the Russian state is viable and self-sufficient, social unrest will remain for Washington only a wet dream, not a reality. And it’s not excluded that the socio-economic situation inside America and/or the EU will buckle before any Yankee algorithms start to poison the roots of the Russian state. After all, America has a rear, Russia also has information-disseminating resources, and the S-400 isn’t going anywhere. And what sort of technology does China have? Imagine if Russian and Chinese supercomputers are interconnected? Actually don’t, because I don’t want to give the reader a headache!

Power Struggle Warming Up: US Fears Being Militarily Outplayed By China in Africa

By Staff, Agencies

China’s increasing military presence in Africa is disturbing Washington, with Pentagon officials airing concerns that Asia’s biggest economy is gaining the upper hand in winning regional allies.

“They [China] have upped their game, in plain language, and ultimately they are offering things that our partners want, that our partners need,” an official with US Africa Command [AFRICOM] told CNN.

“In places, we have concerns we are being out-competed.”

The comments referred to China’s expansion in Djibouti, a tiny country located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea, close to one of the world’s busiest trading routes.

Djibouti hosts the US’ only permanent military base in Africa, called Camp Lemonnier, a hub for the US spying network and counter-terrorism operations in Africa.

Although Djibouti, a haven of political stability in a turbulent region, has plenty of foreign bases, it is Beijing’s growing presence in the country that has Pentagon hawks on edge.

In 2017, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army [China’s armed forces] − opened its first overseas support base in Djibouti, nearly 10 kilometers away from Lemonnier.

The Pentagon warned in a 2019 annual report to Congress that China is expected to build on its success in Djibouti. More Chinese bases will come “to establish overseas logistics facilities that would further extend and sustain regional and global air operations”, the report said.

But for the time being, it is China’s base in Djibouti that has raised particular concerns among US commanders, given that the well-armed outpost is located close to a critical seaport, which the 4,000-strong Lemonnier contingent heavily relies on.

Last year, AFRICOM commander Gen. Thomas Waldhauser warned Congress that two out of five terminals in the port were already under Chinese control, and now the fear is that China could cut off US access to the port someday.

“It’s no secret that roughly 98% of the logistics support for Djibouti, as well as Somalia and East Africa, come through that port,” Gen. Waldhauser noted. “That port is one of five entities in the overall Djiboutian port. And so, our access there is necessary and required.”

He also told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee that “if the Chinese took over that port, then the consequences could be significant.”

Relatively, the Trump administration accused China of stealing US commercial software and technology and laid the groundwork for blocking American companies from doing business with Chinese telecom firms.

Huawei Technologies, a tech giant which Washington claims is being financed by China’s military and spying on behalf of the government, has become the most recent target of this campaign to choke off Chinese firms.

We’re all actors in the New Silk Road play

May 05, 2019

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

We’re all actors in the New Silk Road play

Scores of nations across the Global South have adopted the Chinese development model over financing from the US or EU for very simple reasons

It’s the same old story: The dogs of demonization bark while the New Silk Road caravan advances. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to a projection by Anglo-Australian mining and metals giant BHP Billiton, will generate as much as US$1.3 trillion in myriad projects up to 2023 – only a decade after its official launch by Chinese President Xi Jinping in both Astana (now Nur-Sultan) and Jakarta.

It’s easy to forget that the BRI – a massive connectivity project, both geo-strategic and geo-economic, now in effect all across the Eurasian landmass, as well as straddling the South China Sea, plus the Indian Ocean all the way to East Africa – is less than six years old, and projected to last until 2049.

As I previously reported, the BRI is now configured as the authentic International Community 2.0 – much more representative than the Group of Twenty, not to mention the Group of Eight. Even before the start of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing last week, 126 states and territories had signed BRI cooperation agreements. After the forum there are 131, plus Switzerland soon to join. The BRI is also engaged with no fewer than 29 international organizations, including the World Bank.

Considering only projects already being implemented, the World Bank estimates that BRI nations have reduced shipping times by up to 3.2%, and trade costs by up to 2.8%.

The BRI forum’s key takeaway was Beijing’s ability to execute a masterful geopolitical Sun Tzu maneuver – realizing that for the scheme to proceed more smoothly it would have to address key questions about debt sustainability, anti-corruption, consultative processes, plus emphasize “bottom-up” negotiations.

Scores of nations across the Global South, as well as some aspiring to developed world status, have adopted the Chinese investment and development model over financing from Washington or Brussels for three very simple reasons: no strings attached, no one-size-fits-all straitjacket, and no interference in their internal affairs.

That’s the case in BRI projects focused on the group of China plus Central and European nations, now called 17+1 (Greece just joined). The BRI has been on a roll implementing the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line, from Athens to Hamburg via Skopje and Belgrade – with a branch out to the Mediterranean port of Bar in Montenegro, just across from Italy – and then to Budapest, the ultimate crossroads in Eastern Europe, and all the way north via the Czech Republic to Hamburg.

Additionally, the Land-Sea Express Line will connect to the Pan-European Corridor linking Bari, Bar, Belgrade and Timisoara in Romania.

Three silk roads stretching from China to Southeast Asia Europe and Africa, Jan 2017.
New Silk Roads stretch from China to Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa. Image: CFR

ASEAN goes BRI

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is arguably the crucial front to ensure the BRI’s further success – side by side with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). And all 10 ASEAN leaders attended the BRI forum.

Beijing’s strategic outlook involves the positioning of Thailand as ASEAN’s key transportation hub. Thus it needs to complete the $12 billion, multi-phase, 873-kilometer high-speed rail line linking central and northeastern Thailand to the rail line being built from Kunming to Vientiane, which is due to be completed in 2021.

This is the flagship project of the BRI’s China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor, connecting southern China with mainland Southeast Asia all the way to Singapore.

At the recent BRI forum, China, Thailand and Laos signed a memorandum of understanding on building the stretch between Nong Khai and Vientiane. Now comes the hard slog of renegotiating the terms for building the 607km stretch from Bangkok to Nong Khai, on the Thai side of the Mekong.

Malaysia managed to renegotiate the budget and route of its Eastern Coast Rail Link. Plus, China and Myanmar are renegotiating the $3.6 billion Myitsone Dam project.

At least nine of no fewer than 23 projects, part of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, are rolling – including a special economic zone (SEZ) in Kyauk Phyu in the west, the Kyauk Phyu-Kunming railway and three border cooperation zones in Kachin and Shan states. Myanmar is absolutely key for China to enjoy strategic access to the Indian Ocean.

Elsewhere in maritime Southeast Asia, the $6 billion, 150km Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail is a goer, despite facing accusations of non-transparency by Indonesia’s Investment Coordination Board. Still, the Joko Widowo administration’s second term is bound to be involved in no less than $91 billion worth of BRI-related projects to develop four different economic corridors.

One thing is common to these multiple BRI negotiation fronts – the Lost in Translation syndrome. Imagine terms and contracts mired in a maze of cross-references and a trilingual swamp (Mandarin, English and then Thai, Lao, Indonesian, etc).

Not to mention the clash between local red tape and the ultra-streamlined Chinese infrastructure-building juggernaut – perfected to the millimeter for the past few decades.

Still, Beijing is learning the key lessons, admitting it’s essential to renegotiate key terms, amend deals, pay close attention to local input, and, essentially, allow more transparency.

Chinese contractors must employ more local workers, encourage technology transfer, and be very aware of negative environmental impacts. There are suggestions that an overseas BRI arbitration court – for instance in neutral Geneva – could be set up in addition to BRI courts in Shenzhen and Xian, in the interests of more transparency.

 

All aboard for a Silk Road journey. Photo: Pepe Escobar

Hop on a camel and join the band

Wang Huiyao, founder of the Center for China and Globalization think-tank in Beijing, correctly argues that the BRI “has become a plan for global development – the kind the world has been sorely lacking since the financial crisis of 2008.”

That was certainly the intent even during the long gestation period before the birth of the BRI in 2013. The Chinese system works like this. The top of the pyramid issues a guideline, or a plan, and then the subsequent layers of the pyramid come up with their own implementation strategies, tweaking the process non-stop. It’s always a variant of Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping’s famous dictum “crossing the river while feeling the stones.”

As it stands, there’s no evidence the US government will be engaged with the BRI, not to mention “try to shape it to bring about a more multipolar Asia,” as my friend Parag Khanna argues. The BRI itself – along with other mechanisms such as the Eurasian Economic Union – is already configuring a multipolar Asia. And no one across Eurasia – apart from Hindutva fanatics and Japanese supremacists – is buying the Pentagon narrative of China as an existential threat.

It’s quite enlightening to pay attention to the words of former Hong Kong governor Tung Chee-hwa, who seems to display more wisdom in his 80s now, as chairman of the Chinese Consultative People’s Congress, than when he was lodged in Government House.

And then we could travel in time to the Ancient Silk Road – which as a trade and cultural exchange network between East and West was a de facto prototype of globalization.

We’ll find out that among the non-stop Ancient Silk Road travelers – and merchants, messengers, pilgrims – there was also a motley crew of jugglers, acrobats, musicians, dancers and actors. Centuries later, history strikes again, and we are all actors now in a massive, global development caravan.

زخمٌ جديدٌ في «طريق الحرير» الصينية: مواجهة لـ«الحمائية» الأميركية

Image result for ‫منتدى الحزام والطريق‬‎

الأخبار

 الثلاثاء 30 نيسان 2019

انتهت أعمال قمة «منتدى الحزام والطريق»، التي عُقدت في بكين بحضور أكثر من 37 من رؤساء دول وحكومات ووفود، مسجّلة صفقات يزيد إجمالي قيمتها على 64 مليار دولار أميركي

اختتم الرئيس الصيني شي جين بينغ، قبل يومين، قمة «منتدى الحزام والطريق»، بحضور قادة من 37 دولة ومنظمة دولية، من بينهم الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين. القمة، وهي الثانية للمنتدى، شكّلت مرحلة جديدة في مسيرة مبادرة «حزامٌ واحد وطريقٌ واحد» التي أطلقتها بكين قبل ستة أعوام، وتهدف إلى إعادة إحياء طريق الحرير التاريخي، الذي كان يربط الصين بعشرات الدول تجارياً.

شي أعلن في نهاية القمة التي احتضنتها بكين لمدة ثلاثة أيّام، التوصل إلى توافقات واسعة بشأن تدعيم «التعاون العالي الجودة» في إطار المبادرة، مع سعيٍ لطمأنة المتشككين في أن مشروع البنية التحتية الهائل سيركز على «تنمية مفتوحة ونظيفة وصديقة للبيئة» مع الأطراف المختلفة، التي تُجري «مشاورات على قدم المساواة»، مؤكداً أن مزيداً من الدول ستنضم إلى هذا المشروع لإنشاء بنى تحتية تربط بين آسيا وأوروبا وأفريقيا. وفي مؤتمر صحافي، أكد الرئيس الصيني أن مبادئ السوق ستطبق في جميع مشاريع التعاون التي تتضمنها المبادرة التي تهدف إلى إحياء «طريق الحرير» القديم الذي كان يربط بين الصين وآسيا وأوروبا، مشيراً إلى أن الشركات هي المحرك الأساسي لكل مشاريع المبادرة التي ستطبق عليها كل مبادئ السوق، فيما تلعب الدول دوراً داعماً.

أكّد شي أن المبادرة ستواصل رفض «الحمائية» في انتقاد لواشنطن التي تتبع سياسة حمائية (أ ف ب )

وفي تصريحات خلال الجلسة الختامية للقمة، قال شي إن «المزيد من الأصدقاء والشركاء سينضمون إلى المبادرة»، موضحاً أن «الجميع دعم فكرة تطوير شراكة، واتفقوا على تعزيز آليات التعاون». ووُقّعت اتفاقيات تعاون بقيمة تزيد على 64 مليار دولار أميركي في مؤتمر للمديرين التنفيذيين خلال المنتدى. كذلك، أشار البيان الختامي المشترك إلى أن الزعماء اتفقوا على أن يحترم تمويل المشاريع الأهداف العالمية المتعلقة بالديون، وعلى الترويج للنمو الاقتصادي الصديق للبيئة». من جهتها، أعلنت الصين، في بيانٍ منفصل، أنها وقّعت مذكّرة تفاهم مع دول عديدة، من بينها إيطاليا وبيرو وباربادوس ولوكسمبورغ وجاميكا.

أمّا على صعيد مهاجمة الولايات المتحدة المبادرة الصينية، واتهامها بإيقاع الدول النامية في ديون بعرض تمويل رخيص لا يمكنها تحمّله، فقد حاول شي في خطابه تبديد هذه المخاوف. وقال: «هذا العام، يرسل المنتدى رسالة واضحة: المزيد من الأصدقاء والشركاء سينضمون إلى دائرة الحزام والطريق»، مؤكداً أن المبادرة ستواصل رفض «الحمائية»، في انتقاد لواشنطن التي تبنّت سياسات حمائية في عهد الرئيس دونالد ترامب.

والمبادرة التي تم اقتراحها عام 2013، امتدت من آسيا وأوروبا إلى أفريقيا والأميركيتين وأوقيانوسيا، لتفتح مساحة جديدة للاقتصاد العالمي بنتائج أفضل من المتوقع. ووقّع أكثر من 150 دولة ومنظمة دولية على وثائق تعاون مع الصين في إطار المبادرة. واللافت أنه خلال السنوات الخمس الماضية، تجاوز حجم التجارة بين الصين والدول الأخرى المشاركة في المبادرة 6 تريليونات دولار أميركي، فيما تجاوزت استثمارات الصين في الدول المشاركة في المبادرة 90 مليار دولار. كذلك، حظيت المبادرة بدعم قوي من قبل القادة ورجال الأعمال الأجانب. وقد تمظهر ذلك في الكلمات الافتتاحية للرؤساء.

تم توقيع اتفاقيات تعاون في القمة بقيمة تزيد على 64 مليار دولار أميركي

من جانبه، دعا بوتين الدول المشاركة في المنتدى للانضمام إلى مشروعي الطريق البحري الشمالي و«طريق الحرير». وفي كلمته، أوضح الرئيس الروسي أن بلاده تولي اهتماماً كبيراً لتطوير الطريق البحري الشمالي، مضيفاً: «نحن نفكر في إمكانية ربطه بطريق الحرير الصيني، وبالتالي إقامة طريق نقل عالمي وتنافسي، يربط شمال شرق، وشرق وجنوب شرق آسيا بأوروبا». وأكد بوتين أن هذا المشروع الضخم يعني قيام تعاون وثيق بين دول أورآسيا لزيادة حركة الترانزيت وبناء محطات استقبال البضائع والحاويات في الموانئ، وكذلك المراكز اللوجيستية.

يُذكر أن الطريق البحري الشمالي هو وجهة نقل تمتد من المحيط الأطلسي إلى المحيط الهادئ على طول سواحل شمالي روسيا في الدائرة القطبية الشمالية. ويعبر هذا الطريق بحور الشمال بمحاذاة سيبيريا إلى الشرق الأقصى الروسي على الحدود مع اليابان وكوريا، وصار متاحاً أمام حركة الملاحة البحرية مع ذوبان الجليد في القطب الشمالي.

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Battlefield Libya: Fruits of US-NATO Regime Change

April 10, 2019 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Libya is back in the news, as fighting escalates around the capital, Tripoli.

Forces under the control of Khalifa Haftar – a former Libyan general under the government of Muammar Qaddafi – turned opposition during the 2011 US-led NATO intervention – turned “opposition” again against the UN-backed “Government of National Accord” (GNA) seated in Tripoli – have most recently reached Tripoli’s airport.

The confusing chaos that has continually engulfed Libya since 2011 should come as no surprise. It is the predictable outcome that follows any US-led political or military intervention. Other examples showcasing US-led regime change “success” include Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ukraine.

And just like in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ukraine – the Western corporate media has regularly omitted mention of Libya from headlines specifically to mask the very predictable consequences of US-led regime change as additional interventions against nations like Venezuela, Syria, and Iran are engineered and pursued.

Battlefield Libya 

In 2011, the North African nation of Libya was transformed from a prosperous, developing nation, into a divided, perpetual battlefield where local warlords backed by a milieu of opposing foreign sponsors and interests have vied for power since.

Libya’s current status as a failed, warring state is owed entirely to the US-led NATO intervention in 2011.

Predicated on lies promoted by Western-funded “human rights” organizations and fought under the pretext of R2P (responsibility to protect) – the US and its NATO allies dismembered Libya leading to predictable and perpetual chaos that has affected not only Libya itself, but North Africa, Southern Europe, and even the Middle East.

The war immediately triggered not only a wave of refugees fleeing the war itself, but the redirection of refugees from across Africa seeking shelter and work in Libya, across the Mediterranean and into Europe instead.

Militants fighting as proxies for the US-led war in 2011 would be armed and redeployed to Turkey where they entered Syria and played a key role in taking the cities of Idlib and Aleppo during the early stages of that US-led proxy war.

Currently, Libya is divided between the UN-backed government based in Tripoli, eastern-based forces loyal to Haftar, and a mix of other forces operating across the country, holding various degrees of control over Libya’s other major cities, and equally varying degrees of loyalty to the UN-backed government, Haftar’s forces, or other factions.

Fighting around Tripoli has even allegedly prompted US military forces stationed in Libya to temporarily evacuate. CNBC in its article, “US pulls forces from Libya as fighting approaches capital,” would report:

The United States has temporarily withdrawn some of its forces from Libya due to “security conditions on the ground,” a top military official said Sunday as a Libyan commander’s forces advanced toward the capital of Tripoli and clashed with rival militias. 

A small contingent of American troops has been in Libya in recent years, helping local forces combat Islamic State and al-Qaida militants, as well as protecting diplomatic facilities.

The presence of US forces in Libya might be news to some – and was certainly only a dream within the Pentagon until after the 2011 US-led NATO intervention finally toppled the Libyan government.

America’s foreign policy of arsonist-fireman has endowed it with a large and still growing military footprint in Africa – one it uses to project power and affect geopolitics well beyond the continent.

America’s Growing Footprint in Africa 

The ongoing Libyan conflict – flush with weapons pouring in from foreign sponsors – has also fuelled regional terrorism impacting neighboring Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, and Chad, as far west as Mali and Nigeria, and southeast as far as Kenya. The war has been a boon for US Africa Command (AFRICOM) which has used the resulting chaos as a pretext to expand Washington’s military footprint on the continent.

In a 2018 Intercept article titled, “U.S. Military Says it has a “Light Footprint” in Africa. These Documents Show a Vast Network of Bases,” it was reported that:

According to a 2018 briefing by AFRICOM science adviser Peter E. Teil, the military’s constellation of bases includes 34 sites scattered across the continent, with high concentrations in the north and west as well as the Horn of Africa. These regions, not surprisingly, have also seen numerous U.S. drone attacks and low-profile commando raids in recent years.

The article notes that much of AFRICOM’s expansion in Africa has occurred over the past decade.

While the pretext for US military expansion in Africa has been “counter-terrorism,” it is clear US military forces are there to protect US interests and project US power with “terrorism” a manufactured pretext to justify Washington’s militarization of the continent.

Much of the terrorism the US claims it is fighting was only possible in the first place through the flood of weapons, equipment, and support provided to militants by the US and its partners amid regime change operations targeting nations like Libya.

The US-led NATO war in Libya is a perfect example of the US deliberately arming terrorist organizations – including those listed as foreign terrorist organizations by the US State Department itself – overthrowing a nation, predictably destabilizing the entire region, and using the resulting instability as a pretext to massively expand America’s military footprint there.

The wider agenda at play is Washington’s desire to displace current Russian and Chinese interests on the continent, granting the US free reign.

Fruits of US-NATO Regime Change 

As NATO celebrates its 70th anniversary, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg would claim:

Over seven decades, NATO has stepped up time and again to keep our people safe, and we will continue to stand together to prevent conflict and preserve peace.

This “peace” includes 8 years of heavy fighting in Libya following NATO’s intervention there.

NATO’s Secretary General proclaims NATO’s mission as one to “prevent conflict and preserve peace,” yet it paradoxically and very intentionally engineered the war in Libya, overthrew the government in Tripoli, and triggered regional chaos that not only plagues North Africa to this day – but also inundated Europe with refugees fleeing the conflict.

Europe is one of the few places NATO could conceivably claim any mandate to protect or operate in – yet its own wars of aggression abroad directly compromised European safety and security.

The media blackout that has shrouded the true impact of NATO’s intervention in Libya for the past 8 years helps enable the US and its NATO partners to perpetrate additional proxy wars and political interventions elsewhere.

As the US openly pursues aggressive regime change in Venezuela and meddles in the internal politics of nations across Southeast Asia, the “fruits” of US intervention in places like Libya should always be kept in mind.

What is most alarming of all is considering that the US-led intervention in Libya may not necessarily be a failure. It is only a failure if one believed the US truly sought a better future for the nation. However, if the fruits of perpetual chaos and an equally perpetual pretext for the US militarization of Africa were intentionally set out for from the beginning – then in many ways – Libya was a resounding success.

Depending on how the current fighting around Tripoli unfolds, whether or not a unified Libya emerges, and whose foreign military presence and economic interests are allowed to persist on Libyan soil thereafter – will help determine just how successful Washington’s true agenda in Libya – and in Africa – has been.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

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