Exclusive: Attempts to target Iran in the interest of ‘Israel’, US

Nov 8 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen English 

The spokesperson for the Society for Peace movement in Algeria tells Al Mayadeen that weakening Iran or Turkey cannot serve the Arabs.

The spokesperson for the Movement for a Society for Peace in Algeria, Nasser Hamdadouche

The spokesperson for the Movement for a Society for Peace in Algeria, Nasser Hamdadouche, said on Monday that Algeria played a key role in ensuring the success of the Arab Summit by dismantling some mines, including the insistence of some to condemn Iranian or Turkish interference in the region.

In an interview for Al Mayadeen, Hamdadouche said that Algeria enjoys positive relations with everyone, whether Arab or Islamic countries, including Iran and Turkey, adding that Algiers was keen not to raise controversial points during the summit.

Weakening Iran and Turkey is in the enemy’s interest

Hamdadouche added that weakening Iran or Turkey cannot serve the Arabs, Iran or Turkey, and it is in the interest of the real enemy of the region, which is the Zionist entity and the Western hegemony led by the United States.

He highlighted that there is no interest in antagonizing or dwelling on points of disagreement with Iran and Turkey, “because what unites us is far more than what divides us, and dialogue is the way to overcome the problems that face us.”

Hamdadouche pointed to the importance of “rising above differences and moving in the direction of what brings the nation together within a civilized framework of Arab-Islamic integration, that is, the integration of Arab countries with the most important powers in the region, led by Iran and Turkey.”

The Algerian spokesperson pointed out that Algeria is making efforts at the level of parties, organizations, and countries to overcome obstacles and establish dialogue between parties and Arab and Islamic countries.

Algeria resolved the Palestinian file

Hamdadouche said, “There is an Arab division over the Palestinian issue, whether the solution is through negotiation or resistance, therefore, Algeria resolved this file before the summit through a reunification initiative to achieve Palestinian reconciliation.”

He indicated that the Movement for a Society for Peace was looking forward to supporting the option of resistance against the Zionist entity, as well as criminalizing all forms of normalization because it is unreasonable for any Arab country to single out its decision outside the unified Arab political vision.

He also pointed to some Arab countries that did not stop at political and diplomatic normalization with the Zionist entity but rather went to what is even far more dangerous, as in military and security agreements with the Israeli occupation that threaten Arab national security.

The Algerian spokesperson pointed out that Algeria is making efforts at the level of parties, organizations, and countries to overcome obstacles and establish dialogue between parties and Arab and Islamic countries.

Algeria resolved the Palestinian file

Hamdadouche said, “There is an Arab division over the Palestinian issue, whether the solution is through negotiation or resistance, therefore, Algeria resolved this file before the summit through a reunification initiative to achieve Palestinian reconciliation.”

He indicated that the Movement for a Society for Peace was looking forward to supporting the option of resistance against the Zionist entity, as well as criminalizing all forms of normalization because it is unreasonable for any Arab country to single out its decision outside the unified Arab political vision.

He also pointed to some Arab countries that did not stop at political and diplomatic normalization with the Zionist entity but rather went to what is even far more dangerous, as in military and security agreements with the Israeli occupation that threaten Arab national security.

Hamdadouche stressed that Arab national security should not be divided, adding that the Israeli occupation represents the real danger to Arab national security, in addition to water and food security, which are tools of the struggle with “Israel”.
In the same context, he underlined that “normalization with the Zionist entity is condemned, rejected, and criminalized by us, even if it comes from political Islam or from any religious Fatwa or any legal text.”
Hamdadouche said that Algeria would have wanted to criminalize normalization if this decision was within its jurisdiction, adding that “it seems that there was a settlement that took place during the Arab summit, which requires reducing Algeria’s rhetoric against normalization in exchange for withdrawing the Iran or Turkey file from consultations.”
Hamas’ choice to return to Syria is strategic
In a separate context, the Algerian spokesperson indicated that when Hamas raised the issue of resuming relations with Syria, Algeria’s response was the necessity of positioning the movement within the Axis of Resistance in the region, away from the controversial points in the Syrian or Lebanese internal affairs.

Hamdadouche pointed out that some Arab countries did not only stop supporting the resistance against the Zionist entity, but rather categorized the Palestinian Resistance factions as “terrorist organizations”.

In this context, Hamdadouche hoped that Syria will return to its natural position, which, despite all that it has been subjected to from some Arab states and the international community, has remained faithful to the Palestinian cause.

He also highlighted that the Lebanese resistance against the Zionist enemy has honored the Arab nation.

Riots in Iran in the interest of “Israel” and the US

Regarding the Iranian role, Hamdadouche said, Iran has an undeniable history with the Resistance, adding that Hamas asserts that Iran’s support is unconditional and the proof is that when the movement severed its relations with Syria, Iran did not stop its support for the Palestinian Resistance movement.

Commenting on the recent riots in Iran, the spokesperson said that the attempt to target and weaken Iran, in which regional and global powers are allied, will be in the interest of the Zionist entity and the US, who will have no mercy on the Arab region if Iran falls.

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Netanyahu returns, but Israel’s political and military landscape has changed

Bibi is back, leading Israel’s most right-wing government but also facing unprecedented Palestinian resistance and global turmoil.

November 06 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Abdel Bari Atwan

While the Arab Summit in Algeria affirmed its adherence to the so-called ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ as a final solution to the Palestinian issue, Israel’s response came quickly and resolutely with the return to power of Benjamin Netanyahu and the anti-Arab religious Likud bloc.

In the 1 November legislative elections, Israelis voted in large numbers for the anti-Arab, racist, religious parties, which openly embrace a policy of killing and expelling Palestinians from all of occupied Palestine, and promote a solely Jewish-Zionist identity of the country.

The “Jewish Power” party, which won 15 seats, and is led by the two most racist figures in the short history of the Jewish state, Bezael H. Cherish and his deputy Itamar Ben Gvir, will be the backbone of Netanyahu’s coalition government.

The leader of this party, which will be the most prominent partner of the Arab monarchs who signed peace agreements with Israel, has called for killing Arabs, expelling them and wrapping the bodies of the martyrs in pigskin “in honor” of them.

Normalization the new norm

Nonetheless, it is likely that red carpets will be laid out for Ben Gvir and Netanyahu in Arab capitals, where they will enjoy Arab hospitality and drink from their gilded goblets. Indeed, there is no difference between the winning Israeli coalition and the defeated one (Lapid-Gantz).

Both converge on their mutual hostility and hatred of Arabs and Muslims. General Benny Gantz, the Israeli Minister of Defense in the previous government, used to boast that he was the Israeli who killed the largest number of Arabs – and this is true, as his government has killed 166 Palestinians since the beginning of this year.

There is a silver lining, however: This racist government will hasten Israel’s demise and lead to its inevitable end, not at the hands of the battered Arab armies, but at the hands of the Palestinian resistance and their regional allies, their missiles and drones.

There are three steps that the Netanyahu government and his extremist coalition may take upon assuming power:

First, a return to reviving the Trump-era ‘Deal of the Century,’ the annexation of the West Bank, and the deportation of most of its Palestinian residents to Jordan as an “alternative homeland.”

Second, the escalation of incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the consolidation of Jewish control over East Jerusalem, and the obliteration of its Arab and Islamic identity. The first step may be dividing it on the model of the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, then demolishing it, and erecting the alleged “temple” on its ruins.

Third, the canceling or freezing of the maritime border demarcation agreement with Lebanon, similar to what happened to the Oslo Accords with Palestinians. Netanyahu announced his intent to do so openly in his election campaign.

This option appears especially likely given that extraction of gas and oil from the Karish field has already begun, while the Qana field, which was “partially” recognized as Lebanese, remains untouched, with no surveys or exploration conducted until this moment.

It is likely that the Lebanese gas fields will lay dormant for the foreseeable future. The same US mediators did not guarantee the implementation of even 1 per cent of the Oslo Accords, and they will most likely not guarantee the rights of the Lebanese people.

Renewed Palestinian armed resistance

But Netanyahu is set to assume control over a very different state of affairs, both domestically and internationally. For starters, Israel is facing an escalating internal conflict, and most importantly, a revived intifada in the form of West Bank armed resistance.

We cannot talk about West Bank resistance without discussing the phenomenon of The Lions’ Den whose political and military influence is expanding, while the Palestinian public’s embrace of the movement is growing. Not a day passes without witnessing a commando operation in various parts of the West Bank; in Nablus, Jenin and Hebron – later in Ramallah, and then in the pre-1948 occupied Palestinian territories.

Netanyahu may succeed in including one or two more Arab governments in the Abraham Accords, which was signed under his last premiership. However, such political acrobatics will have no value in light of the “awakening” of the Palestinian people and their return to armed resistance.

The returning Netanyahu will not forget the May 2021 battle of the “Sword of Jerusalem” that humiliated him, and its missiles that isolated the occupying state for more than 11 days, forcing millions of Israeli settler-colonizers into shelters and bunkers.

These missiles are still present and ready, along with hundreds of armed drones. Perhaps it is also worth reminding the incoming Israeli Prime Minister of how he ended an electoral meeting in the city of Ashdod (my ancestors’ hometown) and fled in terror from the 400 missiles launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement in retaliation for the assassination of its leader, Baha Abu al-Atta.

Just another day in the office?

The “Israel” to which Netanyahu returns is not the same Israel he left, and the world he knew when he was last in power, is not the same world today. His US supporter is mired in an unprecedented proxy war of attrition with Russia in Ukraine, where his co-religionist, Volodymyr Zelensky, has so far lost about a fifth of his country’s territory, and has plunged it into darkness and despair.

While Netanyahu is viewed as as being close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, that friendship had deepened before the Ukraine war. The situation has now changed dramatically, and he will be forced to choose between Washington and Moscow in an era of multipolarity.

As for the Lions’ Den, they have effectively changed all the equations and rules of engagement in occupied Palestine – and perhaps in the Arab world as well – and within this context will actually “welcome” the hardliner Netanyahu’s return to power.

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

Algeria Declaration: Palestine is our central cause

2 Nov 2022 19:06

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen English 

The concluding statement of the Arab Summit emphasizes supporting OPEC+’s decision to cut oil production by two million barrels a day.

The Arab Summit demanded lifting the unjust blockade on Gaza.

The Arab League Summit issued, on its second day in the Palace of Conferences in Algiers, the Algeria Declaration document.

The heads of the Arab states stressed “the centrality of the Palestinian cause and full support for the rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to freedom and self-determination and the right to return, in addition to making the compensation payments for the Palestinian refugees, in accordance with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution No. 194 of 1948.”

The Summit demanded lifting the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and condemning the Israeli occupation’s brutality and barbaric practices against Palestinians, including assassinations and arbitrary arrests.” The Summit also called for the release of all prisoners and detainees, especially children, women, the sick, and the elderly.

The statement emphasized the necessity of “endorsing the pursuit of the Palestinian state to obtain full membership at the United Nations and urging the countries that have not yet recognized the state of Palestine to do so, coupled with the necessity of supporting the legal Palestinian efforts and attempts to hold the Israeli occupation accountable for its war crimes.”

Moreover, the statement confirmed that the Summit supports the policy of OPEC+, which includes oil-producing countries from inside and outside the OPEC organization, in the global energy market.

Algeria confirmed that it “appreciates the balanced policy of the OPEC+ alliance in order to ensure the stability of the global energy markets and sustainability of investments in this sensitive sector as part of an economic approach that ensures protecting the interests of producing and consuming countries alike.”

On October 5, OPEC+ announced reducing oil by two million barrels a day in order to support the markets facing the risk of a decrease in demand for crude oil due to the economic crisis.

The attending states also rejected “all forms of foreign intervention in the Arab countries’ internal affairs” and expressed their insistence on the principle of finding Arab solutions to Arab problems by strengthening the role of the Arab League in preventing crises and solving them through peaceful means and working to strengthen inter-Arab relations.

The attending Arab countries expressed “full solidarity with the Libyan people and support for the efforts aimed at ending the Libyan crisis through a Libyan-Libyan solution that preserves the unity and sovereignty of Libya and safeguards its security and that of the neighboring countries.”

The statement concluded, “All the states should assume a collective leading role to contribute to the efforts made in order to reach a political solution for the Syrian crisis and address all the political, security, humanitarian, and economic repercussions, through what ensures the unity and sovereignty of Syria and realizes the ambitions of its people.”

Algerian FM Ramtane Lamamra: The success of the Algerian summit is the success of all Arabs

Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra considered on Wednesday that the success of the Algerian summit is the success of all Arabs who knew how to come together and agree after the Corona pandemic and realized the importance of unity and the sensitivity of the regional and global situation.

Lamamra said that “the attendance was significant, positive, and constructive, and everyone was eager to apply whatever can contribute to the Arab unity.”

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Arab Summit launched; Palestine a central cause

November 1, 2022

The 31st Arab Summit opens with Tunisian President Kais Saied who hoped that the summit in Algeria would find solutions and bridge rifts.

Arab ministers and delegates in Algeria

Arab League summit kicked off on Tuesday in Algeria, with the participation of 16 Arab presidents, including the leaders of Tunisia, Qatar, Sudan, and Egypt.

The summit opened with Tunisian President Kais Saied who hoped that the summit in Algeria would find solutions and bridge rifts.

Saied affirmed that Algeria exerted strained efforts to maintain unity among Arabs.

He further stressed that the right of Palestine must be reiterated in all conferences and meetings to make sure it is never absent.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Saied noted that President Tebboune’s efforts were crowned with bringing the Palestinians together and achieving national reconciliation.

Tebboune: We will demand the UNGA to recognize Palestine as an independent state

During his speech at the 31st regular session of the Arab League’s Council at the summit level, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune shared Saied’s stance on Palestine, stressing, “Our central and core cause is Palestinian, which is subject to elimination attempts through the Israeli occupation’s practices.”

“We will demand the General Assembly of the United Nations to recognize Palestine as an independent state,” he added.

Historically, Algeria has entertained good diplomatic with Palestine and is one of the Arab countries to reject the normalization of ties with “Israel”.

The Algerian President also stressed that the crises in Libya, Syria, and Yemen require a solution and demand prioritizing national reconciliation to reach peaceful and consensual solutions over anything else.

Tebboune urged the formation of a committee to support the Palestinian cause, emphasizing that “Palestine must be granted full membership at the United Nations.”

Furthermore, he stated that the roots of crises in Libya, Syria, and Yemen need to be addressed.

Tebboune concluded by expressing hope that practical solutions and necessary decisions will be the outcomes of the summit.

Aboul Gheit: Several Arab countries living in dire security conditions

The Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the Arab countries “are in urgent need of dealing with the ongoing crises.”

During his speech at the 31st Arab Summit on Tuesday, Aboul Gheit pointed out that “several Arab countries are living in dire security situations, such as terrorism, militias, armed groups, and parties that foment sedition and meddle in the Arab countries’ affairs.”

He pointed out that “the world stands still and does not advocate the two-state solution,” claiming that “the Arabs insist on the establishment of the Palestinian state based on the 1967 border.”

“We call on all the countries in the world to join my peaceful goals for the sake of the inclusion of Palestine and obtaining full membership at the United Nations,” Aboul Gheit said.

The Secretary-General added, “We want this summit to be a true summit of unity and restoration of the Arab willpower.”

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Algeria’s economy one of the fastest growing, in continuous recovery

Oct 282022

Source: Al Mayadeen English

By Ahmad Karakira 

Despite the repercussions of the difficult global crisis that are still looming over the global economy, Algeria was able to control economic indices over the past three years.

The IMF highlighted that Algeria’s GDP growth rate is the fastest in the Western Mediterranean region.

The World Bank, in early October, indicated that developing oil exporters, including Algeria, are expected to witness an economic growth of 4.1% this year and 2.7% in 2023.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also forecasted that the growth rate of Algeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will score 4.7% at the end of 2022, one of the fastest-growing rates in the world.

Based on its forecasts for global economic growth rates, the IMF published last week an interactive map that divides growth rates into five descending categories, from fastest to slowest, in which Algiers was placed in the second category.

It topped the Maghreb region economies in terms of growth, compared to Morocco (0.8%), Tunisia (2.2%), Libya (-18.5%), and Mauritania (4%).

The IMF highlighted that Algeria’s GDP growth rate is also the fastest in the Western Mediterranean region, which includes Italy (3.2%), France (2.5%), and Spain (4.3%).

The United Nation’s financial agency had expected in its recent report that Algeria’s economy will be one of the fastest-growing Arab economies in 2022.

The IMF placed Algeria among the six Arab economies that will record the highest growth rates in the mentioned period, despite the effects of the global economic slowdown, in light of the continuing crisis of the war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook, Algiers is set to achieve a growth rate of 4.7% by the end of the current year, ranking second in North Africa after Egypt (6.6%).

In an exclusive interview for Al Mayadeen English, Ezz El Din Dedan, an Algerian economics specialist, said that despite the repercussions of the difficult global crisis that are still hanging over the global economy, Algeria “was able to control economic indices over the past three years, despite the collapse of energy prices.”

Dedan pointed out that “with the recent recovery of oil and energy prices globally amid the war in Ukraine, there is a significant increase in Algeria’s foreign exchange earnings, and this is what gives the country a margin of greater financial movement in economic decision-making.”

Dedan added that the Algerian government presented figures on the high levels of foreign exchange available in Algeria with expectations of reaching 56 billion dollars by the end of 2022 and a trade surplus of about 18 billion dollars.

According to the economics specialist, “These figures have not been recorded in Algeria for almost 10 years, since the beginning of the oil price plunge in 2014.”

Historical rise in non-hydrocarbon exports

Despite depending on oil revenues from the hard currency by 98%, Dedan said, Algeria “has sought to diversify its economy through a set of measures that have been taken over the past years, yielding a historical rise in non-hydrocarbon exports, where Algeria was able to increase these exports from 4.7 billion dollars last year to 5 billion dollars until the end of last September.”

Algeria, a reliable energy supplier

In a related context, the Algerian state hydrocarbons firm, Sonatrach, expects the total level of gas and oil exports to reach 50 billion dollars by the end of this year.

Algerian Prime Minister Aimene Benabderrahmane pointed out that Sonatrach had put in place an “accelerated program” to bump up output.

Algiers has helped Europe diversify its energy supplies by pumping more gas to Italy, which, in July, signed a deal to import billions more cubic meters via an undersea pipeline from the North African coast.

The North African capital has seen a series of high-profile visitors in recent months seeking to boost energy exports, as Europe struggles to replace Russian supplies.

European Council President, Charles Michel, said in September during a visit to Algeria that the North African country is a “reliable energy supplier.”

In August, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed moves by Algiers to help “diversify” Europe’s gas supplies, and in July, Italy’s Eni, US major Occidental, France’s Total, and Sonatrach signed a $4 billion oil and gas production-sharing contract that Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said would provide Italy with “significant volumes of natural gas.”

In addition, Algerian Energy Minister Mohamed Arkab had indicated at an energy summit in Algiers that his country was examining the possibility of laying high-voltage cables under the Mediterranean to export electricity to Europe and that Algeria hopes to produce as much as 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035.

It is noteworthy that before the Ukraine war, Algeria provided the European Union with some 11% of its gas needs, against 47% provided by Russia.

First non-European country to introduce unemployment grant

Asked about whether Algeria’s current economic growth will help decrease the 15% unemployment rate in Algeria, economics specialist Ezz El Din Dedan clarified that “there are relative estimates regarding unemployment in Algeria. About 60% of the composition of the Algerian economy is based on Algerians that work in the black market.”

Dedan explained that the official figures do not represent the true proportion of the working class in Algeria as “most of the Algerian youth prefer not to declare their work, and the figures provided by the National Statistics Authority do not include young people who prefer to work in the black market.”

According to the Algerian specialist, “It is certain that unemployment rates in Algeria were not updated for two years, but there are some measures taken during the past months, such as the unemployment grant approved by the Algerian authorities,” highlighting that Algeria is the first African country to launch this grant of about $100 (£73) a month for unemployed youth, especially university students.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced in February that the government will introduce in March unemployment benefits for jobseekers aged between 19 and 40, noting that there are over 600,000 unemployed people in Algeria.

Tebboune said Algeria was the first non-European country to introduce such a benefit.

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Arab League Summit – Hopes and Aspirations

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

Viktor Mikhin
The next summit of the League of Arab States (LAS), whose participation has been confirmed by the heads of state of numerous Arab countries, will be held in Algiers in early November. On the agenda, of course, are primarily issues related to the reconciliation of a number of Arab countries and their consolidation in the face of various external threats. However, the Arab media and even politicians are already saying that no breakthroughs can be expected from the summit, as the Arab League has lost its once-authoritative status in recent years.

Arab leaders have held two consecutive high-level meetings in 2019. In the spring, they met in Tunisia at the annual Arab Summit. In May, they met again in Mecca at the invitation of Riyadh for an extraordinary Arab summit. At issue was Saudi Arabia’s and other Persian Gulf Arab countries’ concern about Iran’s regional policies and opposition to Tehran’s plans to increase its activities in a number of countries in the Arab world. The 31st ordinary Arab summit is now scheduled to be held in Algiers on November 1, with a concluding session on November 2. The Algerian government wanted the summit to take place on the anniversary of the outbreak of the 1954 Algerian Revolution, which led to Algeria’s independence from France in July 1962.

Some fears are related to domestic political developments in Algeria, while others stem from Algeria’s relations with other Arab countries, which are not without nuances of disagreement over the choice of a common Arab and regional policy. This concerns the events in Libya, the position on the problems in North and East Africa, including the situation in Western Sahara, and the position on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Syria is another major stumbling block given Algeria’s determination to rejoin the Arab League system after being expelled from it in 2011. At the time, this was done under the far-fetched pretext of the alleged use of force by President Bashar al-Assad to quell discontent among some segments of the population. Afterward, incidentally, it was found that the Persian Gulf countries and the West, led by the United States, had a hand in stirring up passions there. Then the situation turned into an endless civil war in which foreign fighters actively participated on the side of the Syrian opposition, generously paid by the same Persian Gulf Arabs.

It is worth remembering that the world and Arab countries look distinctive today than they did in 2019 when the last Arab summit was held. The world has changed since then, and not only the Covid-19 pandemic, but also a host of other Arab, Middle Eastern, and international events have changed the overall context in which the Algiers Summit will take place. Three major international developments are expected to influence discussions at the Arab Summit.

The first, in chronological order, is the change of government in the United States. After four years of foreign policy by former US President Donald Trump, who tried to move away from old problems that had plagued previous administrations, current US President Joe Biden has returned to an interventionist US foreign policy based on forming new military alliances while strengthening existing ones, such as NATO. The second major event was the war in Ukraine, which was prepared and unleashed by the West under the leadership of the United States to bleed and damage Russia. The third is the growing US-China tension over Taiwan, also initiated by the United States. These three events have had and continue to have a direct impact on the Arab world, and they are clearly not favorable to the Arabs. This concerns both the issue of food security and the high energy prices affecting Arab states that are not oil producers, such as Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia, Morocco, and some others.

From a regional perspective, there have also been fundamental changes in the Arab country’s relations with Israel, Turkey, and Iran, which will undoubtedly impact the work and conclusions of the Arab Summit. For example, building on Trump’s diplomacy, Israel signed the so-called “Abraham Accords” with four Arab countries in the second half of 2020. The previous Trump administration spoke of the Arab-Israeli normalization process as being deliberately separated from the Palestinian issue, to the detriment of the Palestinians and the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. While the Biden administration advocated for a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine from day one, it refrained from using its influence with the Israelis to resume peace talks with the Palestinians that ended in April 2014.

While Trump in May 2018 roughly withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a nuclear agreement between Iran and a group of 5+1 countries, and pursued a strategy of “maximum pressure” on Iran, the Biden administration has worked assiduously to join the JCPOA under a formula known as “control over control.” This means that the United States will join the agreement if Iran is the first to meet all of its obligations. But if the “control over control” formula is implemented, followed by the lifting of some sanctions, the Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, will be very concerned about what the Iranian government will spend the billions of dollars that will flow to Iran as a result of the resumption of oil sales. Will Tehran spend the money on developing the Iranian economy, or will it fund pro-Iranian regimes in the Arab world? If the latter, how will the US respond, and will Washington be able to side with the Saudis?

Turkey will also have to face a fierce controversy, as many Arabs see positive developments in Turkish-Arab relations despite the reassessment of Turkey’s strategy in the Middle East, Libya, or the Eastern Mediterranean. Ankara has now significantly tightened its policy in the Arab world, reminding left and right of its “right” as heir to the Ottoman Empire. This presupposes, Erdoğan says, Turkey’s leadership role in the created joint Arab Union. But here there will be clear opposition from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries, given Erdoğan’s recent flirtations with Iran, which is the main enemy of Persian Gulf Arabs.

The Algiers summit also comes after the end of the boycott of Qatar by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain and the resumption of diplomatic relations between these countries. One of the most positive results of this intra-Arab reconciliation was the official visits of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to Qatar and the official visit of the ruler of Qatar to Egypt last July. Clearly, this much-needed reconciliation will have a positive impact on the Arab Summit discussions and decisions, both politically and economically. At the same time, the Arabs are taking into account the huge gas reserves in Qatar and its ability to export gas to the Arab states.

In addition, special attention is being paid to the situation in Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Tunisia. The Arab world is interested in helping these countries manage them successfully. The financial issue will be one of the main topics of the summit, and here the Persian Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, are likely to have a weighty say. In any case, this summit will provide Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud with an excellent opportunity to strengthen and expand his authority in the Arab League and throughout the Arab world.

As for the situation in Libya, Arab leaders are expected to call on Libyan political factions to resolve the ongoing crisis in their country by holding free and fair elections. Experts warn that this must happen as soon as possible to prevent Libya from reverting to the violence that nearly tore the country apart three years ago.

The next summit of Arab states in Algiers should prove that the Arab world is united and seeks only Arab solutions to Arab problems. And this requires the unity of all countries in the region. Will the ambitious Arab leaders be able to speak with one voice, or will everyone pull the covers over themselves? — the upcoming Arab League summit will clearly show this.

The West Bank in Palestine is Ready to Explode

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 


Steven Sahiounie

There is a battle brewing in the occupied West Bank of Palestine. Thousands of Israeli occupation forces will be deployed to face a growing resistance force. The ‘natives are restless’ and the Lions’ Den has mobilized to fight for their freedom and human rights.

500,000 illegal Jewish settlers now live in the West Bank in some 130 settlements. Today, the Israeli forces said dozens of settlers ran through Hawara, near Nablus, throwing rocks at Palestinian cars. The settlers used pepper spray on the Israeli commander as well as another soldier and sprayed another two soldiers at a nearby checkpoint. Settlers are allowed to intimidate Palestinians and destroy their property, while Palestinians are hunted down and killed by Israeli occupation forces.

The Palestinian youth have grown up under brutal military occupation and an apartheid state. The resistance in Jenin, Nablus, and Hebron has inspired rebellion against sieges and attacks. The Palestinian people living under the iron hand of oppression are ready to fight the Israeli occupation and are frustrated with their leadership which is seen as collaborating with the Israelis in keeping the status quo firmly in place. The resistance movement sees no benefit in maintaining the occupation and demands a dramatic change in their future.

The Palestinian youth reject the divisions among the factions in the politics of Palestine. The recent unity deal in Algeria has given them hope that political parties can work together in brigades such as the Lions’ Den, which has fighters from Hamas, Fatah, and others fighting together for a single goal of freedom.

On October 11, an Israeli soldier was killed in an attack north of Nablus, and two other shooting attacks against Israeli forces took place in Beit Ummar, near Hebron, and in Sur Baher, a neighborhood in Jerusalem.

On October 14, Israeli forces killed 20-year-old Mateen Dabaya in a raid on the Jenin refugee camp. Dr. Abdallah Abu Teen, 43, rushed to the aid of Dabaya in front of the Jenin hospital and was also shot and killed by the Israelis in his attempt to give medical care to the injured young man. Two Palestinian paramedics and several civilians were also wounded in the attack by the Israelis at the entrance to the hospital.

On October 15, a Palestinian in his twenties was killed north of Ramallah, and Israeli forces raided Nablus and arrested a Palestinian man while continuing to impose movement restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank, which is a hallmark of an apartheid state.

On October 16, Mohammad Turkman, 20, died of his wounds while in Israeli custody. He had been wounded and captured by Israeli forces in Jenin in late September.

On October 20, Mohammed Fadi Nuri, 16, died after being shot in the stomach last month by Israeli troops near the city of Ramallah.

The Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem is completely sealed in a siege by Israeli forces as a form of collective punishment following an attack there, and Israeli police announced that it arrested 50 Palestinians in Jerusalem recently.

Riyad Mansour, the representative of Palestine to the UN, has denounced attacks by Israeli occupation forces and called on the UN to comply with international law and Security Council resolutions. Mansour noted that Israeli forces and settler militias “are relentlessly harassing, intimidating and provoking the Palestinian people in a ruthless manner,” and condemned the new attack against the city of Jenin

The US enables Israel to remain an apartheid state

The United States of America, the champion of freedom and democracy, is currently sending billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine to fight for democracy. But, you won’t see the US sending a bullet to the Palestinians for their fight for democracy. The US is also the champion of ‘double standards’.

According to the various international human rights groups, which are often cited by the US as evidence of war crimes and atrocities by American foes, the Jewish State of Israel is an apartheid state. The US and her western liberal allies were the chief critics of the former apartheid state of South Africa, and the western criticism helped to fulfill the dreams of freedom and democracy in the land of Nelson Mandela.

The US is like a parent who allows Israel to continue self-destructive behavior. Some parents of teenage drug addicts will buy drugs for their children to protect them from danger and arrest. The parents are not willing to go through the tortuous procedure of rehab for the child, so they minimize the danger and make the drug addiction as safe as possible. This is known as enabling, and this is the role the US has chosen for itself in its relationship with Israel and Palestine. On the one hand, the US claims to support the democratic aspirations of all peoples but is unwilling to stand up to Israeli policies of racism, collective punishment, blockades, imprisonment without trial or legal aid, and other crimes perpetrated against the Palestinian people under occupation. The enabling stance of the US is destructive for both the US and the Palestinians, as the reputation of America suffers from global ridicule and shame.

Palestinian unity deal

Arab unity might be too much to ask for, but Palestinian unity has been agreed on in Algeria. Hamas, Fattah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the PLO, and others signed the deal brokered by Algerian President Abdulmajeed Tabboune. This deal resolves a 15-year political dispute among the various factions and looks forward to new elections.

“Jenin has demonstrated to the [Palestinian] leaders meeting in Algeria that national unity is built in the field,” Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said.

Why is the west bank resisting?

The Palestinian Authority has lost control in Nablus and Jenin the West Bank. The Palestinians view their leadership as an extension of Israeli control and oppression. The Lions’ Den in Nablus has claimed responsibility for the latest resistance operations against Israeli occupation forces.

On October 16, the Jenin Brigade announced they will support the Lions’ Den in their resistance to occupation, and this has raised the prospect of increased Israeli raids on Jenin and Nablus.

Benny Gantz, Israeli Defense Minister, trivialized the threat of the Lions’ Den when he made statements on how his occupation forces will capture and eliminate the members. Israel has depended on the divisions among the Palestinian factions. However, Israel has never before faced a unified force of motivated youth who are willing to die for freedom and a chance to create a new future for themselves and their families. Revolutions occasionally succeed.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, over 170 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Gaza, since the beginning of 2022, making this year the deadliest since 2015.

UK embassy move proposed

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, have both expressed concern over the proposed UK embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Liz Truss, the embattled British Prime Minister, proposed the idea in her meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid last month.

Pope Francis, the UK churches, and the 13 denominations of Christians in Jerusalem have always maintained a position supporting a UN resolution for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine firstly, and secondly a final status of Jerusalem to be decided afterward. Previously the Christians of Jerusalem stated concern over moving embassies to Jerusalem, “We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division.”

Truss has wanted to follow in the footsteps of President Trump who defied international law when he shifted the US embassy to Jerusalem. The Truss plan was first suggested in her letter to the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), a pro-Israel lobby group, similar to the pro-Trump AIPAC in the US.

Australia reverses its position on embassy move

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong has announced Australia has reversed its recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Wong also told reporters that “the Australian government remains committed to a two-state solution in which Israel and a future Palestinian state can coexist in peace and security within internationally recognized borders. We will not support an approach that undermines this prospect.”

Palestinian factions sign ‘Algeria declaration’ to end division

October 13 2022

(Photo Credit: Anadolu Agency)

The Algerian initiative was put forward as a result of the continuous aggression of Israeli forces against the Palestinians

ByNews Desk

The Palestinian factions signed the “Algerian Paper for Palestinian Reconciliation” on 13 October to strengthen the relationship among several Palestinian national parties in order to resist the confronting forces of the Israeli army.

The Algerian initiative was put forward as a result of the continuous aggression of Israeli forces against the Palestinians, specifically near Islamic and Christian sanctuaries in Jerusalem within the al-Aqsa area.

The document encourages unifying the Palestinian factions in light of these constant attacks and supports efforts aimed at restoring the rights of Palestinian nationals.

Throughout the year, far-right Jewish settlers stormed religious sites in the occupied West Bank, where a day prior, settlers began burning copies of the Quran in an attempt to provoke locals.

Israeli forces protected the settlers as they desecrated holy sites and several copies of the Quran, and prevented Palestinians from entering the squares surrounding the Ibrahimi Mosque.

On 11 October, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune hosted a meeting between delegates from the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas to facilitate reconciliation talks between the factions.

Hostilities between the parties have been apparent since 2007, following Hamas’s consolidation of power in the Gaza Strip. Previous negotiations have repeatedly failed due to their differences to find a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The meeting between the parties lasts two days and will be led by members of Fatah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Despite peace talks between the factions, Fatah has been reluctant and has mostly rejected the Algerian Paper for Palestinian Reconciliation, whilst Hamas has been more accepting of the request.

Back in early September, Algeria officially invited Palestine to participate in the upcoming Arab summit that will take place on 1 November in Algiers.

The invitation was extended to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, however, critics suspect Abbas is using the votes of Jerusalem residents to cling to power, given the growing discontent with his rule and the PA in general, due to their collaboration with the Israeli occupation.

Earlier in the year, an Israeli official revealed that PA forces carried out raids in the West Bank city of Jenin at the direct request of the Israeli military.

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Can Syria ever forgive Qatar?

While, one by one, regional states are restoring relations with Syria, Qatar will likely be the last welcomed back in Damascus

October 03 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Firas Al-Shoufi

After more than a decade of a foreign-backed regime-change war, exploitative Turkish and US occupation, and repeated Israeli attacks on its territorial integrity, Syria has come a long way from the regional and international isolation intended to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Of the Arab states that suspended diplomatic relations with Damascus 11 years ago at the start of the war, most have since re-established their envoys in the Syrian capital, such as Bahrain, Kuwait, the UAE, and Oman, or have re-established security and political dialogues, as in the case of Saudi Arabia.

Going against the grain

However, a notable exception to this current of normalization with Syria has been Qatar. The tiny, resource-rich Persian Gulf state was the first Arab country to shutter its embassy in Damascus and has consistently opposed the idea of Syria’s re-admission to the Arab League following its suspension in the early days of the war.

This unwavering stance has been recently reiterated by Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in light of efforts by Algeria to include Syria in the upcoming Arab League summit in November.

Nevertheless, the invitation extended by Algiers was politely turned down by the Syrian government so as to “to unite the Arab ranks facing the challenges posed by the current situation,” according to Algeria’s foreign ministry.

The feeling is mutual

It is difficult, if not impossible, to find a single Syrian official eager to talk about relations with Doha. This, in spite of Syria’s policy of maintaining open communication with Arab states, including with Saudi Arabia which funded opposition militants in the Syrian war.

Yet Damascus has been adamant that it has no intention or desire to restore relations with Qatar, considered to be a hostile country by the Syrian authorities for its continued support for Al-Qaeda affiliate Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) and other terrorist organizations in northern Syria.

Qatar was one of the first foreign entrants into the Syrian conflict, bank-rolling armed factions in coordination with the CIA, including the precursor to Al-Qaeda affiliate Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra.

Doha’s role was even acknowledged by the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which stated In 2016 that the Nusra Front “probably received logistical, financial and material assistance from the elements of the Turkish and Qatari governments.”

These allegations can be traced to the ruling House of Thani. In 2020, Issam al-Hana, a Moroccan leader of al-Nusra arrested in Iraq revealed that Qatari Sheikh Khaled Suleiman was financing the group with more than a million dollars a month.

Qatar also found itself implicated in a high-profile British court case in 2021, in which the state’s ruling elite and institutions had allegedly “funnelled millions” of dollars to al-Nusra.

In May 2022 fresh charges were made in the US against prominent Qatari institutions accused of wiring $800,000 to an ISIS “judge” who ordered the beheading of American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley.

Cooperation or containment?

From President Assad’s ascension to power 22 years ago, up until the March 2011 onset of the Syrian crisis, Syrian-Qatari relations had made great political and economic strides. This, in stark contrast to the strained ties between Damascus and Riyadh, particularly after the assassination of the Saudi-backed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.

During the height of relations between Syria and Qatar, senior officials made frequent visits, the two sides exchanged diplomatic and political support, joint companies were established, and the Qataris opened more than one bank in Damascus.

Qatar was not alone in working hard to develop its relations with Syria. Turkey, another key supporter of the Syrian militancy whose troops currently occupy the Syrian north, also enjoyed positive commercial and political relations with the Assad government prior to 2011.

Bassam Abu Abdallah, former cultural attache at Syria’s embassy in Ankara, and current Al-Watan columnist, told The Cradle that:

“It turned out that all the steps of Qatari and Turkish rapprochement before the war were part of an American plan to contain Syria and pass the Qatari gas pipeline through its territory to Turkey and then Europe, which is what President al-Assad was aware of. After the US discovered the difficulty of containing Syria, the decision was taken to overthrow the regime and divide the country, and this is one of the reasons for the war. Unfortunately, Qatar, with its money, media, and support for terrorist groups, spearheaded this conspiracy, and still is.”

The Muslim Brotherhood

An informed Syrian official told The Cradle about a meeting in November 2011 between then-Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem and three senior Syrian Foreign Ministry officials (Deputy Minister Faisal Al-Miqdad, Chancellor Buthaina Shaaban, and Ambassador Yousef Ahmed) and the then-Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

“Throughout the meeting, the emir sat like an emperor, legs spread, preaching about reforms and democracy, and what Syria should do, and in the end he spoke of a partnership with the Muslim Brotherhood in power. It was a very bad meeting,” the official explained.

The official added that after the meeting, the scene in Damascus became clear:

“The Americans placed the Syrian file in Qatar’s custody in the first phase of the war. Al-Jazeera engaged in a media war, Qatari money flowed to the armed opposition, and Doha opened its hotels to host the Syrian opposition. The Qataris believed that with the money they could bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power in the entire Arab world, and they bear a great responsibility for the destruction of many Arab countries such as Syria and Libya.”

However, an Arab diplomat who asked for his identity not to be revealed, shares a different view, telling The Cradle that:

“The bad relationship between Qatar and Syria began when the Syrians did not know how to benefit from the Qatari role, did not listen to advice, and refused to involve the Muslim Brotherhood in power. The Qataris have repeatedly tried to open a dialogue between the regime and the opposition, but President al-Assad did not want to make any reforms and concessions.”

The diplomat points out that “Qatar supported the Syrian opposition within an international and Arab coalition.”

Continued hostility

To date, the Qataris have not shown any hint of goodwill toward Damascus. For Syrian officials, the hostile Qatari role continues, albeit at a slower pace after it became clear that its regime-change project had failed.

Former Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim, in more than one television interview about Doha’s role in the war on Syria, described it as “prey over which a group of hunters are fighting.”

Columnist Abu Abdallah says “it is sufficient to listen to Hamad bin Jassim’s confessions that Qatar paid $140 billion to finance the war, to realize the great Qatari role in destroying Syria and killing its people.”

He points out that the Qatari media war against Syria continues unabated, and Doha still hosts opposition television stations and digital media platforms that incite violence against the Syrian state.

Who is really isolated?

It should be noted that Syria’s intensity of hostility toward Qatar applies neither to the rest of the Persian Gulf states, nor to security or political contacts with Ankara. “Turkey is a big country and a major player in the region, while Qatar is a puppet of the Americans,” says Abu Abdallah, also a founder of the Syria-Turkey Friendship Movement.

“Relations with the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman were not cut off in the first place, and they have returned to normal with Bahrain, and there are security and political contacts and talks with Saudi Arabia,” he said, explaining:

“Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a meeting with a senior Syrian official that he was not responsible for the [Saudi] policies of the past, and that he was ready to restore relations. The desire of the two sides to communicate, in addition to the Russian role, helped break the ice, and one of the results of that was the end of the Saudi-armed and funded Jaysh al-Islam militant group in Syria. But it is certain that the hard-line US position towards Syria and the Qatari role is what hinders progress in relations with Saudi Arabia.”

On the other hand, according to the Arab diplomatic source, Qatar is benefiting from the US and its western allies’ position – and “even from the Saudi position” – to put some brakes on the Arab push toward normalization with Syria.

He claims that “the Saudis, and not only Qatar, do not want to develop the relationship with Damascus. It is difficult to accept Syria as it was without significant changes and without the implementation of international resolutions.”

In the past years, some third parties have tried to mediate between the Syrians and the Qataris – at whose behest is unclear: “The Iranians and the Russians tried. But President Assad is very strict on this matter, and they understand the rightness of our position,” another Syrian official reveals.

Can we witness a transformation in Syrian-Qatari relations soon? “Nothing is impossible in politics – and in light of rapid international and regional changes,” he muses. “But nothing is currently in sight. This is a very complicated issue and depends on the steps taken by the Qataris, starting with stopping support for terrorism, followed by other necessary steps towards Syria.”

At present, Doha’s normalization with Damascus remains unlikely. The recent momentum toward rapprochement with Syria by Hamas and even Turkey – if successful – would leave their mutual ally Qatar as the only regional state without a pathway back to Damascus.

Only Doha can judge whether its continued hostility is worth the cost of shunning a historic Arab giant. The longer the rift, the higher the price of return.

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

What to Expect at the Arab League Summit in Algiers

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360°  

Amin Qammouria

Algeria’s strong anti-colonial stance and ties to Russia, Syria and Iran ensures that the upcoming Arab League Summit in Algiers will be anything but business-as-usual

Algeria will be taking the political centre stage in the Arab world when it hosts the 31st Arab League Summit on 2 November, the first after a three-year pandemic hiatus.

As a former revolutionary state – once at the forefront of resistance against the western settler-colonialism of the twentieth century, and still today a champion of Arab resistance – it is no surprise that majority-Sunni Algeria continues to take positions that are at odds with those of western-backed Sunni Arab governments of West Asia and North Africa.

Algeria’s principles that irk the region’s pro-west monarchies include its vehement opposition to Zionism, support of the Palestinian cause, insistence on maintaining relations with Iran, and engagement with Syria, with Algiers adamantly demanding that the Syrian state be readmitted to the Arab League.

Diplomacy or distraction?

The host country is pinning great hopes on the success of this summit for several reasons, the most important of which is its desire for a major event that restores vitality to Algerian diplomacy.

The state’s regional clout had receded during the years of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s prolonged illness and death, which inhibited his ability to exercise his duties. During this period, widespread street protests thwarted Bouteflika’s plans to extend his presidential term, ultimately bringing down his administration.

By hosting the summit, Algiers seeks an opportunity to shine regionally and highlight its diplomatic reach, distracting Algerians from the daily grind they’ve endured for years. It is a formula Iraq’s prime minister has used to some degree of success.

In this context, Algeria’s leaders have ensured the summit coincides with the 68th anniversary of the launch of their revolution against colonial France, and have planned an elaborate series of political, cultural, youth and artistic activities to burnish Algeria’s image as a regional powerhouse.

These are intended to project the North African state as the new ‘Mecca of Arab diplomacy,’ just as it remains a hub for liberation movements across the Global South and the ‘Mecca for revolutionaries’ since the 1960s.

It’s not such a wild idea. Algeria has come into play in recent years, not just for championing popular Arab worldviews, but for its geopolitical choices that are now in ascent. Like Syria, Algeria’s military is heavily invested with Russian equipment, training, and know-how. The energy-producing state is also receiving windfall profits from skyrocketing fuel and gas prices globally. And the increasing Russian, Iranian and Chinese (RIC) influence in West Asia – concurrent with the receding US presence – places Arab Algiers in a strong starting position.

Energy and food security

Recent global and regional developments, however, may make this Arab League meeting one of its most complex summits. The reverberations of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine just as the world began to emerge from the repercussions of the pandemic, have added a slate of pressing issues to Algiers’ table in November.

The impact of these two events have reshuffled geopolitical cards everywhere, and caused a global energy crisis that has placed several nations on the brink of severe economic and food crises.

In the unlikely scenario that the war in Ukraine ends before this year’s Arab Summit, its impact will remain on the top of the agenda. On the economic level, oil and gas prices will be a priority for both energy-producing and energy-consuming Arab countries, with expectations that the price of a barrel of oil will exceed $160 if the situation continues as is.

Another important agenda item is food security – especially vital crops such wheat and maize. It is expected that the summit will study the possibility of inter-cooperation to develop agriculture within regional states, with the hope that the studies will not remain as ink on paper as is the usual outcome of these gatherings.

Algeria calls for Syria’s return

Syria’s return to the Arab League after its highly politicized and unprecedented suspension in 2011 is another important challenge facing the summit. Algeria, which has maintained good relations with Damascus, has been adamant that Syria should be re-admitted to the League.

Algiers’ position is supported by several Arab countries such as Tunisia, Lebanon, Iraq, the UAE and Bahrain. But Syria’s return depends on buy-in from the remaining members too – with Qatar playing spoiler to Damascus’ regional rehabilitation. This too may change in time, as even Doha’s close Turkish allies are working toward normalizing relations with the Syrian government.

Syria’s membership was suspended at a highly-irregular emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo in November 2011. The move came after the Syrian government failed to implement the terms of the “Arab initiative” that gave President Bashar Al-Assad an unrealistic two weeks to conduct a political dialogue with the opposition, form a “national unity government” within two months, and conduct early presidential and parliamentary elections.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit has said Syria’s participation in the upcoming Arab summit “is still subject to an Arab consensus,” which has not yet been achieved.

It does not seem that the countries that demanded the suspension of Syria’s membership will agree to its return as long as the conditions of suspension still exist. In turn, Damascus is unenthusiastic about returning to the League before certain Arab countries apologize for their material support of the Syrian armed opposition.

In fact, on 4 September, in a phone call with his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra, Syrian Foreign Minister Faysal Mikdad appeared to unilaterally bow out from the November summit, saying he “prefers not to raise” Syrian’s readmission to the League at this time.

Mikdad said his decision was made to keep the Arab focus on more urgent issues facing the region: “[To] contribute to uniting the Arab world and ranks in facing the challenges posed by the current situation at the regional and international levels.”

Israel’s presence at Algeria’s border

The most pressing diplomatic issue for Algiers though has been its fallout with neighboring Rabat, particularly following the latter’s decision to resume relations and sign defense agreements with Tel Aviv, which has heightened security concerns in Algeria.

It remains to be seen whether Morocco will participate in the summit after Algiers severed diplomatic relations with Rabat in August 2021.

At the heart of the neighbors’ spat is a territorial dispute in the Western Sahara. Both states have long been at odds over this sparsely-populated desert terrain where the Algiers-backed Polisario Front is seeking independence from Rabat’s rule. Morocco, in turn, is believed to have secured Washington’s recognition of its ‘sovereign claim’ to the Western Sahara in exchange for normalizing relations with Tel Aviv.

Morocco fears that, as the summit’s host, Algeria will be able to advance the momentum on this contentious issue and win over other Arab states to its side.

With the escalation in tension between the two countries, Algerian political writer Ahmed Boudaoud expects Morocco to be absent from this summit or reduce its level of representation: “especially with the assurances of Algerian officials that their country’s position will not change as long as the reasons that led to the diplomatic rupture between the two countries persist.”

In order to legitimize the diplomatic and economic estrangement with Rabat, Algeria may insist at the summit on issuing a statement condemning the wave of Arab normalization with Israel.

But such a statement will not be unanimously approved as long as there are influential countries, in addition to Morocco, with which Israel has peace treaties, such as Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Sudan and Bahrain.

Unwavering Palestinian solidarity

As is customary in all Arab summits, the Palestinian issue is given priority on the agenda – though typically without any practical measures that actually support Palestinians and their oft-neglected cause.

But Algerian President Abdel Majid Tebboune made a special gesture toward Palestinians in an attempt to reconcile key factions at the summit, particularly Fatah and Hamas.

On 6 July, Tebboune brought together Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the head of the Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, during their attendance at the 60th anniversary celebrations of Algeria’s independence.

Despite the meeting being praised as “historic” after years of estrangement, the gloomy looks on the faces of those present, and the statements issued thereafter, indicated that reconciliation is far from being achieved.

The limits of Algerian diplomacy

The situation in neighboring Libya, around which both regional and European schisms are intensifying, will be another important issue expected to be discussed in Algiers.

Algeria seeks to consolidate Arab consensus around the  adoption of a “Libyan-Libyan solution” which rejects any external interference that might hinder the unification of the Libyan parties and disrupt the course of upcoming presidential elections.

Some Arab countries such as Morocco, however, have accused Algeria of interference in Libya with the intention to dominate its neighbor’s political discourse – taking particular aim at Algiers’ own diplomatic shortcomings in Libya and its failed mediation attempt in the Egyptian-Ethiopian dispute over the Renaissance Dam.

Cracks in Arab “unity” will also appear in discussions on the growing Iranian and Turkish influence in a number of Arab countries.

Given the significant Arab differences over basic regional and global issues, and the preoccupation of each of states with their internal problems and priorities, the Algeria summit will likely be similar to the summits that preceded it: Luxurious receptions, resonant speeches, projects, plans, and decisions that expire the moment participants return to their respective countries.

Although swimming against a powerful tide of Arab states still servile to western diktats, an Algeria noted for its revolutionary struggle toward genuine independence will not entirely be faulted for sticking to its principles. Instead, Algiers will be able to collect its ‘summit success’ from the popular sentiment of the Arab street, which still shares its worldview stances.

Algeria ready to provide Lebanon with fuel: Energy Minister

Due to severe fuel shortages, Lebanon’s last running power station is set to be forced out of service on Friday afternoon

August 26 2022

Lebanese Energy Minister Walid Fayyad. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

ByNews Desk

Lebanon’s Energy Minister Walid Fayyad says Algeria is ready to provide the country with fuel for its electricity plants, and is willing to do so through Sonatrach, the North African country’s state-owned oil company.

“The country ready to help us in securing fuel oil is Algeria, and I met with [their] Minister of Foreign Affairs… we are preparing for a future visit to Algeria,” Fayyad said on 26 August.

“The agreement with Iraq will secure us 40 thousand tons, but we [still need] 110 thousand tons in order to secure… electricity from other countries,” the energy minister added.

Fayyad went on to say that the ministry has reviewed a decision by Lebanon’s state-owned power company, Electricite du Liban (EDL), to partially increase the supply needed for the country’s power grid.

However, the decision is awaiting approval from Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati.

Under the current situation, Lebanese citizens are forced to rely on private generators, as they usually do not receive more than one hour of electricity a day from Lebanon’s power plants.

According to Fayyad, the remaining 110 thousand tons of fuel that Lebanon needs will secure a daily nine hours.

Alongside the crippling economic crisis that Lebanon faces, the country has been dealing with severe fuel shortages.

Lebanese media reported this week that the Al-Zahrani power station, the country’s last running power plant, will be shut down on the Friday afternoon due to the depletion of its fuel supply.

Earlier this month, Mikati met with the Iranian ambassador to Lebanon, Mojtaba Amani, and agreed to an offer of “free fuel” from Iran, an official close to Mikati told The Cradle.

Despite the agreement, however, the Prime Minister-designate has failed to provide the documents necessary for initiating the process to receive the Iranian fuel.

Moreover, Lebanon is still waiting for the fruition of a US-sponsored gas deal to import electricity into the country through Jordan and Syria. The deal, however, has failed to materialize due to a US refusal to provide a sanctions-waiver for the countries and states involved.

It has also stalled due to the reluctance of the World Bank in financing the agreement, a reluctance that it has failed to provide a clear reason for.

Palestinian Leaders Abbas, Haniyeh Meet in Algeria (VIDEOS)

July 6, 2022

Palestinian leaders meet in Algeria. (Photo: via Algérie Information TW Page)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met on Tuesday with the head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, Algerian media reported.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune reportedly succeeded in bringing the two leaders together for the first time in years. The post included a video clip showing Abbas, Haniyeh and the Algerian president shaking hands, with other Palestinian officials present.

The Algerian presidency deleted the post about 20 minutes after posting it, but then re-posted the same video with the entry:

“The President of the Republic, Abdel Majid Tebboune, brings together, in a historic meeting on the side-lines of the 60th independence celebrations in Algeria, the Palestinian brothers, the President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, and his accompanying delegation, and the delegation of Hamas, led by the head of its political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, after many years of not meeting around the same table.”

Palestinian official news agency WAFA reported that Abbas “informed his brother President Tebboune of the latest political developments related to the Palestinian cause, and the practices of the occupation and its aggression against our people, which undermine the chances of peace and the two-state solution.”

WAFA added that the two presidents discussed “means of strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries and nations, in addition to many international and regional issues of common interest.”

Abbas also attended the large military parade held by Algeria, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of its independence and the restoration of its sovereignty, which was performed by the Algerian army.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Algeria: 60 years of endless support for the Palestinian cause

July 5, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net + Agencies

By Ahmad Karakira 

Algeria has always demonstrated unconditional support for the country of Palestine and the Palestinian cause, which dates back to fighting “Israel” and helping Egypt claim back Sinai in the 1973 October War.

Algeria’s unconditional support for the Palestinian cause

On July 5, 1962, after 132 years of French colonialism, Algeria declared its independence. The Evian agreements of March 18, 1962, ended the war between France and the Algerian National Liberation Army (ALN), and a referendum of self-determination took place on the first of July, 1962.

The results of the referendum came in favor of transferring power from the French to the Algerian authorities on July 3, ending decades of occupation, settler colonialism, and massacres.

The date – July 5 – was deliberately chosen by the Algerian government in reference to July 5, 1830, when the city of Algiers was occupied by France.

The seven-year war between the French occupier and the Algerian resistance left around one million Algerian martyrs on the path of Algeria’s freedom and liberation.

Endless stories about heroic epic battles by the Algerian resistance against Western colonialism can be recounted on the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence.

However, this piece aims to shed light on Algeria’s endless support for Palestine, the Palestinian cause, and fellow Arab states against all forms of oppression and occupation since the north African country gained its liberation through resistance.

“We are with Palestinians, be they the oppressed or the oppressors”

To begin with, Palestinians supported the Algerian Revolution from 1954-1962 and showed solidarity through organizing fundraisers for Algeria.

Despite some Arab states shamefully signing normalization agreements with the Israeli occupation in exchange for some benefits, Algeria has strongly opposed such deals, considering normalization with the occupation as a betrayal to the Arabs and the Palestinian cause.

In the early 1970s, former Algerian President Houari Boumediene said his famous phrase, “We are with Palestinians, be they the oppressed or the oppressors.”

It is noteworthy that similar to the official Algerian stance on Palestine, Algerians, according to the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, oppose normalizing ties with the Israeli occupation with a 99% rate.

One would wonder about the secret behind Algeria’s unconditional support for the Palestinian cause.

Historically, Algeria has always been advocating the Palestinian cause and supporting fellow Arab states against the Israeli occupation.

In fact, after only five years of gaining its liberation from the French occupation, Algeria supported the Arab allies against “Israel” by sending troops and aircrafts to fight alongside the Arab states in the 1967 Six-Day War.

The Algerian army also played an important role during the 1973 October war.

Significantly, when Egypt signed the Camp David Agreement and established ties with the Israeli occupation, Algeria severed its ties with Egypt.

In addition, Algeria established close relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), providing it with weapons, training its fighters during the 70s, and helping the PLO obtain observer status in the UN in 1974.

After the former US President Donald Trump’s administration, the UAE, and “Israel” revealed the so-called “Abraham Accords” in August, current Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune stressed his country’s deep commitment to the Palestinian cause, affirming that Algeria deems Palestine as a sacred cause.

Algiers also harshly criticized the normalizing states (the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan). It also paid the price for its anti-normalization stance, as the US acknowledged the Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara after years of unresolved disputes and unachievable status.

In trying to understand the reason behind Algeria’s official and popular support for the Palestinian cause, Sami Hamdi, the Editor-in-Chief of the International Interest magazine, explained that “Algerians feel a deep resonance with the Palestinians who have been colonized for some 82 years and believe that whatever the difficulties, resistance will eventually succeed.”

In the same context, TRT had quoted Jalel Harchaoui, a Senior Fellow at the Geneva-based Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, as saying that Algeria’s “somewhat exceptional history makes resistance against colonial powers writ large a narrative crucially central to the Algerian state as we know it.”

Algeria’s participation in the 1973 October War

Aiming to restore the lands that “Israel” occupied during the 1967 Six-Day War – Sinai in Egypt and the Golan Heights in Syria – on October 6, 1973, Cairo and Damascus launched an attack on the Zionist entity. The war coincided with the holy month of Ramadan.

During that time, Algeria played a significant role in providing Egypt and Syria with Soviet weapons and bringing in troops to the Egyptian front to fight the Israeli occupation, despite its then-instable economic situation as a result of the pre-independence era of French colonialism.

In fact, then-Algerian President Houari Boumedienne reportedly flew to Moscow to secure military aid for the Egyptians and the Syrians.

In a reiteration of its role in supporting anti-colonialist movements, Algeria sent more than 2,100 troops, 815 non-commissioned officers, and 192 officers to Sinai. It also sent 96 tanks and over 50 fighters and bomber aircraft to Egypt, according to the Egyptian authorities.

Algiers also participated in the oil embargo imposed by the Arab members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on the US over its support of the Israeli occupation during the war, which led to significant price hikes around the world.

On October 17, Arab oil producers decided to increase the price of oil by 17% and cut oil production by 5%, vowing to “maintain the same rate of reduction each month thereafter until the Israeli forces are fully withdrawn from all Arab territories occupied during the June 1967 War, and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people are restored.”

Sharon underestimated the power of Algerian forces

In the context of the 1973 October War, the former Chief of Staff of the Israeli occupation forces, David Eliezer, acknowledged in his released diaries that “Israel” lost this war as a result of the arrogance of then-Major General Ariel Sharon, who underestimated the power of the Algerian forces and thought that they wouldn’t stand a chance against the IOF forces, thinking that they would flee as soon as they set their eyes on Israeli tanks.

Eliezer said that 900 IOF soldiers were killed and 172 tanks were destroyed in just one day during the war.

On his part, the former Israeli Security Minister Moshe Dayan revealed that all the intelligence information showed that Algerians did not have weapons capable of intercepting the Israeli forces.

Dayan also said the Israelis received intelligence about a state of division between the Egyptians and the Algerians. The Israelis were surprised by the Algerian forces downing a giant US Lockheed C-5 Galaxy aircraft by a missile, which frightened the US Staff and frustrated the Nixon administration.

The former Israeli minister said the Egyptian forces deceived the Israeli forces, making them believe that the strategic Al-Adabiya port was not fortified enough. However, the Algerian forces were in charge of protecting the port.

One cannot but hail the role of Algeria in supporting the Palestinian cause and anti-colonial liberation movements, whether on the official or popular level. Despite the geographical distances separating Palestine from Algeria, Algerians believe that the two countries share the same pain, torture, grief, sorrow, and hopefully the same liberation to be achieved in the near future.

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Beggaring Europe: switching cheap Russian gas for expensive American LNG

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

June 15 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Daoud Baalbaki

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

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

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

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

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

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

Europe’s dependency

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

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

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

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

Reducing reliance on Russia

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

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

What’s the plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Increasing non-Russian LNG

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

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

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

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

Switching dependency from Russia to the US 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where are the non-Russian gas pipelines?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trading dependencies

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

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

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

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

Lavrov x two

May 30, 2022

Source

Introduction by Amarynth

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question: What about a top-level visit?

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

Question: And what about Oman?

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

Question: Will there be additional agreements on military cooperation?

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

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

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

Question: Where will you visit next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Colleagues,

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

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

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

Colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yemen moves to criminalize normalization with Israel

May 30 2022

Officials from the National Salvation Government say the move is in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle

ByNews Desk

Yemen’s National Salvation Government (NSG) has moved to introduce a law proposal that will criminalize all means of normalizations of ties with Israel.

According to the Al-Masirah television network, Yemeni Prime Minister Abdulaziz bin Habtoor is in the process of passing a law that will prohibit any form of contact with Israel.

Habtoor remarked: “We stand by the side of the Palestinian nation and their struggle in the face of Israeli threats to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the occupied al-Quds city.”

He added that the Israeli provocations at Al-Aqsa Mosque are an attempt to “illustrate their dominance” following their numerous normalization deals with other Arab states.

The news come just a week after the Iraqi parliament approved a bill criminalizing any form of normalization or dealings with Israel, with the 275 attending members of parliament unanimously voting in favor of the law.

“This law, which was unanimously voted by the voters, represents a true reflection of the will of the people, a brave national decision, and a position that is the first of its kind in the world in terms of criminalizing the relationship with the Zionist entity,” Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hakim al-Zamili, said in a statement.

Seconds after the law passed, the Iraqi parliament members stood up and chanted: “No, no to normalization! No, no to Israel! Yes, yes to Iraq!”

A week prior, on 17 May, Algerian lawmakers submitted a similar appeal to their parliament, looking to criminalize the normalization of ties with Israel, including the prohibition of travel or direct contact with Tel Aviv.

The draft contains seven articles, with the first seeking to “criminalize normalization with the Zionist entity.”

Article 2 forbids any form of governmental or public contact with Israel. Article 4 prohibits travel between the two states and prevents the entry of any Israeli passport holders to Algeria.

The document is still being revised by the first chamber of parliament alongside the Parliamentary Initiatives Office of the National People’s Assembly.

Blinken Plays With Fire With Morocco and Algeria. Can Trump Stop This Crazy Arms Race and Prelude to War Though?

May 17, 2022

By Martin Jay

Source

The more the West pours money into the Ukraine, the more the UN and its member states have to bang on this drum which is really the worst setback Morocco could imagine over the incendiary subject of Western Sahara.

Lavrov’s visit to Algiers to shore up support for Ukraine war has shown how ineffective and dangerous Blinken’s moves are in the region. Some might argue he is making an already dangerous situation between Morocco and Algeria worse.

Is the Biden administration looking to start a war between Algeria and Morocco? At first glance, this may seem a little far-fetched as a scenario but it’s a valid enough question when you study the movements and statements of its diplo supremo Anthony Blinken. Just recently, the secretary of state jetted into Morocco for a few hours to pay his respects to the kingdom’s dapper foreign minister, before swiftly leaving to visit Algeria, Morocco’s arch enemy based on the latter’s support for the Polisario movement in the disputed Western Sahara. Leading up to the final days of Trump’s period in the White House, the former president signed a decree officially acknowledging (by America) Morocco’s claim that the disputed territory is a legitimate sovereign part of the kingdom. Until that point, relations between Algeria and Morocco were icy, but cooperative.

Biden has always opposed this move by Trump but is limited in what he can do to turn it around. On the one hand, Morocco has always traditionally had good relations with Washington and he doesn’t want to be the first president to jeopardise that; on the other though, his own political views are at odds with the idea of a country colonising another one regardless of the circumstances and is aligned to what many in the United Nations would prefer: some sort of democratic diligence to decide the outcome, probably a referendum.

In the summer of 2021, eight months after Biden took office, the Algerians decided that the situation needed a radical rethink, confident that a dithering Biden wasn’t going to overturn the Trump decision, neither on paper nor in gesture. The Algerians cut off one of its two gas pipelines which crossed Morocco territory before it reaches Spain causing mayhem as this pipeline effectively allowed Madrid to sell on to Morocco natural gas.

Six months later, the worst possible thing for Rabat, which was hoping to exploit the Trump decision, happened. The Ukraine war began, which for Morocco, was not good news as, quite apart from wheat imports being affected, it shifted backwards a more modern idea beginning to emerge that the Rabat elite had about occupied countries around the world. The Moroccan upper classes were beginning to think that the world was getting used to them – East Timor, Taiwan, West Bank and Gaza, Kashmir, Transnistria, Northern Cyprus – and that with the help of the U.S., the Western Sahara would slowly but surely metamorphosise into Moroccan Sahara. Perhaps it would take a generation. But it was a wait worth waiting for, the mindset in Rabat believed. Occupations hadn’t become cool as such; more that people are becoming dumber, media sloppier and the UN sensationally ineffective – an organisation most associate with sex scandals and corruption rather than being an international arbiter of disputes which it once was during the reign of Morocco’s Hassan II (who made the decision to incorporate Western Sahara into Morocco proper in 1975 when it was abandoned by its former colonial power Spain).

But the Ukraine invasion by Russia has sparked a new impetus in the UN, breathing new life into the once somnolent ‘no colonisation’ mantra. And the more the West pours money into the Ukraine in a blatant attempt to topple Putin, the more the UN and its member states have to bang on this drum which is really the worst setback Morocco could imagine over the incendiary subject of Western Sahara, or Moroccan Sahara if you like.

Biden can’t save the situation, that’s clear. But to some, it may seem that he is actually making matters worse. He wants to keep good relations with Rabat (he may even think that the king can fund his next presidential bid in 2024) but he desperately needs to find both a solution to the Trump problem and to get Algerians on board with the delusional idea that America can crack the hegemony whip and Algeria will stand to attention and show some respect. The visit at the end of March to Algiers was a clear example of how deluded the Biden administration is in this part of world and how its own meddling threatens to take the crisis between Algeria and Morocco to a new level. The visit was hilariously mistimed and misjudged in that Blinken actually believed that with an endearing speech he could actually just win over the Algerians, who would presumably just throw their relationship with Russia in the bin, give Europe more natural gas and basically stop backing the Polisario militants in Western Sahara.

If none of this were to happen but just merely a silence would follow, perhaps Biden could have salvaged some political gravitas out of it. But in the event, it had the opposite effect. The Algerians merely cranked up their relations with Russia to the next level and within merely 48 hours, there were even reports circulating on social media that Moscow would help Algeria’s support for the Polisario. The preposterous suggestion by Blinken triggered a response by the Algerians who immediately contacted Moscow and – presumably – invited Sergei Lavrov to come to Algiers on 10th May, calling for more investment from Russian companies and talking up the 3bn dollars of trade between the two countries. They also reduced their gas sent to Spain in their second pipeline by 25% as an act of solidarity with Russia, presumably.

This reaction by Moscow and Algiers puts Morocco in a very difficult position as it realises that Biden’s people do not have the diplomatic skills to find a compromise which puts the Western Sahara dossier in a place where Rabat is happy, finds a solution to cooling tensions and getting a sensible energy deal from Algeria for both Europe and Morocco. None of the above, Anthony but thanks for trying. Whether Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita likes to admit it or not, he, like most of Rabat and the Palace are all standing in line with the Gulf Arab states, waiting for 2024 when Trump comes back for the great reset. Everything that the blithering Blinken touches seems to turn toxic blinding everyone near to him. He is arguably the most dangerous man in U.S. politics who belongs to a different period in time when the U.S. really was the sole superpower and could wield such power around the world. Pity the Moroccans who are charmed by his diplomatic endearments and refinements. They will soon learn that strong words often don’t come from a strong stomach.

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

May 16, 2022

Moscow, May 14, 2022

Mr Lukyanov,

Mr Karaganov,

Colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aux armes, citoyens: dissecting the stage-managed French elections

April 27, 2022

Macron’s second presidency was as calculatingly managed by France’s liberal elite as his first. As the country’s economic and geographic schisms widen further, yesterday’s Yellow Vest protests will seem like a tea party by comparison.

Emmanuel Macron now has a second term, courtesy of France’s urban elites. But the magnitude of the problems he faces, both domestic and external, will ensure indefinite strife in the country. Photo Credit: The Cradle

Macron’s second presidency was as calculatingly managed by France’s liberal elite as his first. As the country’s economic and geographic schisms widen further, yesterday’s Yellow Vest protests will seem like a tea party by comparison.

The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar,  

In the end, it happened exactly like the French establishment designed it. I called it last December in a column here at The Cradle.

These are the essentials: Certified Arabophobe Eric Zemmour, who is of Algerian origin, was manufactured by key establishment players of the Institut Montaigne variety to cut off the populist right-wing candidacy of Marine Le Pen. In the end, Zemmour’s electoral performance was dismal, as expected. Yet another candidate pulled off a miracle intervention and was even more useful: ambitious egomaniac opportunist and so-called progressive Jean-Luc Melenchon.

‘Le Petit Roi’ Emmanuel Macron generates less than zero empathy across France. That explains the huge voter abstention of 28 percent in the second round of votes.

The numbers tell the story: There are 48,803,175 French citizens registered to vote. Macron got 18,779,809 votes. Marine Le Pen got 13,297,728 votes. Yet the most eyebrow-raising performance was by the Abstention/Nullified/Blank candidate: 16,674,963 votes.

So the president of France was re-elected by 38.5 percent of voters while the real second place, Absention/Nullified/Blank got 34.2 percent.

That implies that roughly 42 percent of registered French voters bothered to hit the polls basically to bar Le Pen: a brand that remains toxic in vast swathes of urban France – yet hardly as much as before – and even with the whole weight of oligarchic mainstream media engaged in Two Minute Hate campaign mode. The five oligarchies who run the so-called ‘audiovisual landscape’ (PAF, according to the French acronym) of campaign messaging are all Macronists.

Madam Guillotine meets the working classes

Who, in fact, is this illusionist Petit Roi that qualifies at best as a messenger of transnational plutocracy?

From the bowels of the system, arguably the sharpest verdict comes from Mathieu Pigasse, informally referred to in Paris as “the punk banker” because of his infatuation with the British punk-rock band The Clash.

When Macron was a mergers & acquisitions banker at Rothschild & Company, Pigasse was working for the opposition, Lazard Freres. It was Macron who convinced Nestlé’s interests to be handled by Rothschild, while Pigasse was representing Danone.

Pigasse also happens to be one of the major shareholders of Le Monde – which used to be a great newspaper up to the 1980s and now is a shallow carbon copy of the New York Times. Le Monde is Macronist to the core.

Pigasse defines Macron as “the purest product of French elitism, in terms of the Parisian microcosm.” Although Macron is a provinciale from Amiens, he perfectly fit into the Parisian beau monde, which is in itself a quite rarefied, and yes, equally provincial universe, like a village where everyone ‘that matters’ knows everyone.

Pigasse also identifies the establishment characters who invented Macron and placed him at the top of the pyramid – ranging from avowed eugenicist Jacques Attali to Serge Weinberg (ex-CEO of Sanofi), Francois Roussely (ex-president of EDF) and Jean-Pierre Jouyet, a former minister under disgraced former President Nicolas Sarkozy and then number two at the Elysée Palace under the supremely incompetent Francois Hollande.

Attali, incidentally, describes Macronism as a “pro-European modernization, engaged, liberal and optimist. That corresponds to a center-right of modern France” – and then Attali himself gives away the game – “which is not necessarily the whole of France.”

“Not necessarily the whole of France” in fact means the majority of France, if one bothers to leave a few tony Paris arrondissements to talk to people in Pas-de-Calais, Bourgogne or the Var. This ‘real’ France identifies the “social market economy” extolled by Attali and promoted by Macron as a gigantic fake.

It would be too easy to paint the current national divide between, on one side, the elderly and the very young carrying a diploma, living in comfort; and on the other side, the 25 to 60 year olds, without higher education and barely making ends meet. That is, the working class masses.

It is more nuanced than that. Still, the two most important factors in this election are that close to one third of voters didn’t even bother to show up – or nullified their vote (even here in Paris). And that the gullible Melenchon horde handed it over to Le Petit Roi, assuming their leader will become a de facto ‘prime minister.’

The working classes will be literally exterminated throughout another five years of hardcore neoliberalism. France’s until recently stellar social welfare system will be decimated. Retirement age will be extended to 65 years old. Smaller pensions will be barely enough to live on. The super-wealthy will pay much lower taxes while the common worker will pay much higher ones. Education and healthcare will be privatized.

France will merrily catch up with the fast decaying casino capitalism of the US and UK. And don’t forget further travel restrictions and food and fuel shortages.

Islamophobia will not dissolve into a mellow woke rainbow. On the contrary: it will be instrumentalized as the perfect scapegoat for serial Macronist incompetence and corruption.

Meanwhile, in Azovstal…

If we add the spectacular performance of the Absention/Nullifed/Blank candidate plus people who didn’t even bother to vote, we have something like a silent majority of 30 million people who instinctively feels the whole system is rigged.

The winners, of course, are the usual suspects: the BlackRock/McKinsey/Great Reset/weapons industry/EuroNazicrat axis. McKinsey virtually run French government policy – bordering on fiscal fraud – a scandal corporate media did everything to bury. For his part, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink, a very close ‘consultant’ of the Elysee Palace, must have popped a few extra bottles of Krug.

And then, there’s France as Great Power. Leader of great swathes of Africa (fresh from receiving a punch in the teeth from Mali); Leader of West Asia (ask the Syrians and Lebanese about it); Leader of the Great Resetting EU; And deeply embedded in the NATO war machine.

Which bring us to the top invisible story before this election, totally buried by corporate media. Yet Turkish intelligence picked it up. The Russians, for their part, have kept themselves deliciously mute, in their trademark ‘strategic ambiguity’ mode.

Denis Pushilin, the head of Donetsk People’s Republic, confirmed once again early this week there are roughly 400 foreign ‘instructors’ cum mercenaries – from NATO – huddling in the bowels of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, with no way out.

Turkish intel maintains that 50 of them are French, some of them high-ranking. That explains what has been established by several Russian sources – but not acknowledged at all by Paris: Macron has placed a flurry of frantic phone calls to Putin to set up a “humanitarian corridor” to extricate his valuable assets.

The measured Russian response has been – once again – trademark geopolitical judo. No “humanitarian corridor” for anyone in Azovstal, be it Azov neo-Nazis or their foreign NATO handlers, and no bombing them to oblivion. Let them starve – and in the end they will be forced to surrender.

Enter the still unconfirmed yet plausible Macron directive: no surrender by any means.  Because surrendering means giving Moscow on a silver plate a series of confessions and all the facts of an illegal, secret operation conducted by the ‘leader of Europe’ on behalf of neo-Nazis.

All bets are off when – and if – the full story breaks out in France. It might as well happen during the upcoming war crimes tribunal to be set up most probably in Donetsk.

Aux armes, citoyens? Well, they have five years down the road to hit the barricades. It may happen sooner than we think.

Algeria: Dotting the I’s in France’s colonial history

April 22 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Karim Sharara 

France’s colonial history is a barbaric one that extends from the 16th century until the liberation of Algeria in 1962. Millions of people have died, countries have had their wealth plundered, and France still refuses to recognize its dark past.

France’s 132 years of colonial presence in Algeria resulted in the deaths of millions of people and the plundering of the country’s riches

It wasn’t completely unlike Macron to deny that Algeria was ever a nation. It was surprising to hear such a statement uttered against a sovereign country in what is supposed to be a post-imperialist world order (evidently not so), but to say outright that a country that France had occupied for over a century and whose culture it helped destroy was truly flabbergasting.

You can take the colonial out of the colony but not colonialism out of the colonial, the mentality indeed persists.

It seems somewhat perplexing that France, whose Zemmours, Le Pens, and Macrons are all radically attempting to preserve what they consider to be essential to French identity by coercing Muslims into conforming, are also denying the identity of the very country they occupied, whose riches they stole, whose people they killed and posed next to their decapitated heads neatly arranged on spears, and whose culture and identity they transformed by force and coercion.

How did France’s colonial history begin and unfold, and what led it to its 100+ year occupation of Algeria?

France’s colonial empire

France’s earliest trials at colonialism happened during the 16th and 17th centuries and were part of the ongoing competition that was taking place at the time between European powers (France, Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal), the main goal of all of whom was to find new routes to the East Indies in an effort to secure these routes for themselves in an attempt to monopolize the spice trade.

France first began its incursions into North America with the establishment of small colonies. The presence of French missionaries, coupled with colonization efforts, further exacerbated matters as they upset the sociological makeup by drawing Native American men into Christianity with promises of land, and then telling them they must cultivate crops, which to their societies was women’s work. These “redefinitions of manhood prompted many women to resist Christianity” and generated conflict within their communities.[1]

The Caribbean was also a region where competing European powers constantly clashed with one another. By 1697, France had colonized portions of North America stretching to the Caribbean and snatched Hispaniola (modern-day Haiti) from Spain in that same year. Most of the island’s indigenous population had died during Spain’s incursion for gold. France turned their colonies into plantations for sugar, coffee, and spice, and used slave labor on the islands, to such an extent that by the late 18th century, slaves outnumbered European colonists by 8 to 1, thus greatly transforming the demographic makeup of the region.

Amid the struggle for global empire-building between France and Britain, the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) took place between the two powers and their allies in Europe. The war resulted in a decisive win for Britain and a loss for France and Spain, and the 1763 Treaty of Paris saw a number of land exchanges in order to appease Britain. France ceded all of Canada in order to retain the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe and their valuable sources of sugar and remained somewhat inactive until after the French Revolution of 1789 and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte who returned to the task of empire-building.

France’s imperial incursions into West Asia and North Africa date back in large part to the year 1798, as Napoleon was rising in power and conquered Egypt, and then continued on when the French Empire later colonized Algeria in 1830.

After his successes in Italy, which culminated in the Treaty of Campo Formio, Napoleon turned his attention to the British Empire, France’s perennial enemy, and tried to see whether a landing on the British isles was possible; after two months of planning, he found that it was not, as the British Navy was far superior to the French. However, one thing Napoleon could do to harm the British would be to threaten their trade with India.

Napoleon’s fascination with Egypt

Another end goal envisioned by Napoleon would follow the occupation of Egypt, whereupon he would send a force to the Kingdom of Mysore in South India in order to reinforce them, as they were also enemy of the British and were fighting against their presence in India[2].  

For Napoleon, this mission also held a personal dimension, as the 29-year-old general (in 1798) had been a longtime fan of the Orient, and he always referenced Alexander the Great and Egypt in his writings and conversations. “Thus, the idea of reconquering Egypt as a new Alexander proposed itself to him, allied with the additional benefit of acquiring a new Islamic colony at England’s expense.[3]

Although Napoleon’s ships were being pursued by the British Royal Navy, he successfully evaded them, managed to land on Egypt’s shores, and defeated the Mamluk army in the Battle of the Pyramids. However, Napoleon’s armies suffered a resounding defeat at the hands of the British Navy only days later, which resulted in the decimation of Napoleon’s ships, left him stranded in Egypt, and ended his dreams of conquering West Asia. After a three-year campaign and a series of defeats, Napoleon went back to France and launched his coup d’état, leaving him in power[4].

Algeria’s story begins

France’s aspirations of colonization in the MENA region would be left unachieved until after Napoleon’s fall, and during the reign of Charles X. Although Algeria had stood by France during its difficult times, when it was shunned by all of Europe in the 1790s, Algeria had lent it money and allowed it to receive supplies from its ports. Both countries’ relations were somewhat constrained during France’s three-year invasion of Egypt, as the Ottoman Sultan requested that Algeria declare war on Egypt, which it did, but relations returned to normal as soon as the invasion was over.

Despite Algeria’s good relations with France, Napoleon had (prior to his fall) been looking for a reason to invade it because of its strategic position, the superiority of France’s fleet, and his want of a colony on the Mediterranean to strengthen France’s position. He threatened Algeria repeatedly over the years on a number of different occasions, but the plans to invade it never materialized, as he was busy with campaigns in Europe. Nevertheless, some of his commanders did go to Algeria in the early 1800s to scout it and assess how best to capture it.

The main reason behind France’s invasion of Algeria is that France did not wish to repay its debts to the Algerian Dey and Algeria’s Jewish merchants (who had come to the Dey complaining that France is refusing payment). The debt had been accumulated by France during its invasion of Egypt in 1798. France only used an incident that took place between the Algerian ruler and France’s consul (who was implicated in the affair and had received payment from the merchants in exchange for helping secure a portion of their debt, none of which found its way back to the Algerian treasury), in order to launch the war against the country and occupy it in 1830, during the reign of Charles X[5]. The incident in question came to be known as the Fly Whisk incident.

The merchants had promised France’s Foreign Minister and its consul in Algeria a portion of the funds if they managed to secure payment of France’s debts to them, which in fact happened. However, the merchants were also indebted to the Algerian state, but by the time they were paid, France paid them directly, and not through the Algerian treasury. Moreover, one of the merchants had secured French citizenship, and another Italian citizenship, and so the Algerian state was unable to pursue them for payment. 

France’s consul, as French newspapers revealed at the time, was paid two million Francs by the merchants in return. When Algerian authorities caught wind of the news, they knew the consul, who is thought to have made up the incident, was in on it, and was refusing to cooperate with Algeria in order to avoid France having to repay its debt[6].

The occupation

During the course of Algeria’s 132-year struggle for independence, nearly 5 million people were killed, and hundreds of thousands were injured. It took France nearly 70 years to gain control of Algeria after it first occupied it on July 5th, 1830, and Algeria only gained its independence after fighting a fierce war in which nearly 1.5 million Algerians lost their lives.

As far as the looting of Algeria went, France made sure to profit off the land as best it could. Even though the Treaty of Surrender signed between Algeria’s last Dey, Hussein Dey, and France included a condition that Islamic endowments not be violated, France realized that these endowments may become a source of income and confiscated them and looted them in 1843.

France’s colonial administration went a step further in 1871, enacting the Indigenous People Law, which helped them plunder Algeria’s resources by granting European settlers ownership of the lands, while Algerians working them only received 20% of the production. The Algerians could also only travel after seeking permission from colonial authorities and had their movements restricted.

Another law issued by colonial authorities was the Cremieux Decree in 1870, which turned Muslim Arabs and Berbers effectively second-class citizens, while Algeria’s Jewish population was granted French citizenship.

In terms of precious metals, more than 110 tons of Algeria’s gold and silver were stolen by the French, which are estimated today to be worth over $180 billion in today’s money.

France only recognized Algeria’s war of independence as an actual war in 1999. Today’s France, however, is still dragging its legs in recognizing Algeria’s right to reparation. In 1961, before gaining their independence, Algerians took to the streets of Paris to protest a curfew imposed on them, but a French crackdown turned the protest into a massacre, with more than 200 people being killed and scores of bodies being dumped in the Seine River.

Today, France continues to treat its Muslim population as second-class citizens who must conform, by force, to a very restricted idea of French identity. Instead of accommodating them, France is trying its best to exclude its citizens, just as it tried to force Algerians to conform to its own norms. The reasoning before was that of the White Man’s Burden, backwardness, cultural inferiority, or any number of excuses. Today, these excuses have all been repackaged under a nifty new branding called French identity.

Sources:

  • [1] Benjamin, Thomas, and Macmillan Reference USA Staff. “Encyclopedia of Western colonialism since 1450.” (2007).
  • [2] Amini, Iradj, “Napoleon and Persia”, Iran, vol. 37 (1999), British Institute of Persian Studies, p. 109-110.
  • [3] Said, Edward. “Orientalism Penguin Books.” (1978), p. 80.
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