Buy a brick! The USA is selling Ukraine

July 28, 2021

Buy a brick! The USA is selling Ukraine

by Rostislav Ishchenko

Sourcehttps://ukraina.ru/opinion/20210723/1031902943.html

Translated by Eugenia

As we all know, to sell soothing useless one first has to buy something useless. At some point, Washington bought Ukraine – for a high price. The process of buying took a long time, as Ukraine was bought part by part.

When finally in 2014 all of Ukraine became the property of the US, White House quickly realized, to its horror, that several US administrations had been investing significant amounts of money in a completely useless product.

The Americans did not feel it necessary to hide their emotions. That is why as far as in 2015 some of the “Maidan heroes” guided by some emotional reactions of their American owners, overheard but not understood a proposed theory that Putin organized Maidan himself with the aim to take Crimea and burden the Americans with the rest of Ukraine. While the residents of the controlled territory entertained themselves with the conspiracy theories, the Americans were thinking about who they could unload Ukraine on.

At first, they though that Russia absolutely had to show interest in Ukraine. The reasons were obvious:

Long common history;

Personal and family connections;

Importance of cooperation in the industry and of the Ukrainian gas transit for the Russian economy;

Solution of the Crimea problem (with the disappearance of Ukraine, the claimant for the peninsula would disappear as well).

The US intended to trick Russia into buying Ukraine at the exchange for a free hand in Syria and the Middle East. They thought that the sanctions introduced for “the occupations of Crimea” would be left in place, this time under the guise of the sanctions for “the occupations of Ukraine”. In short, Washington planned to exchange something useless for something quite useful, preserving at the same time all the means of pressuring Russia. The Americans would not be the Americans if they did not manage to make money, even when faced with a potential loss.

However, this time the US was doomed to disappointment. Moscow did not show any interest in that useless product. It was not even clear whether Moscow would take Ukraine if it were paid to do so. As to paying something to get Ukraine – that was out of question. The next series of sanctions, aimed at creating a situation for Kremlin when annexing Ukraine would be less ruinous than keeping the status quo, also did not solve the problem. It turned out that Russia, although suffering short-term financial losses from the sanctions, learned how to use them to win strategic victories in the long-term game.

In 2016, Ukraine stopped playing a significant role in the American initiatives with regard to Russia. Ukraine was kept ready for sale, but it was understood that it was necessary to look for a new buyer. Furthermore, since by that time even pigmies in Africa realized just how useless Ukraine really was, it was critical to find a buyer that would not be able to refuse the offer. The sale of the Kiev colony of the US empire entered the mode “buy a brick” (1), which allowed to present an ordinary robbery as a voluntary purchase.

Obama during his term failed to find an appropriate “buyer”. Trump was not much interested in the Ukrainian problem, preferring to intrigue against China and fight against Nordstream-2 for the benefit of the US gas industry. However, in the end it were the Trump policies that helped the Biden administration to bind a “buyer” that would not be able to refuse the offer of a brick.

Fighting against Nordstream-2 and trying to minimize the cost of the American global hegemony, Trump seriously damaged the relationships with Germany. The Germans, finding themselves in an unexpected situation when the US turned from an ally to an economic competitor and stopped guaranteeing the military and political protection, had not dared to sharply change gears and go under the Russian wing. Besides, that could have easily caused an irreversible split in the EU. Berlin started to look for ways to restore the good relations with the US.

As a result, the Biden administration was able to execute a turnaround. Not being bound by the interest of the US oil and gas industry (Biden favors “green” energy instead of the traditional one) and with full understanding that the Germans were determined to complete Nordstream-2 at all costs, Washington pretended that it was super-concerned about the fate of Ukraine. A talk with Germany on the subject was presented as essentially a prerequisite for the normalization of relations. At the same time, the US made an unusual move refusing to impose sanctions against the German politicians and companies involved in the Nordstream-2 project.

Normally Washington never yields anything first during negotiations demanding concessions from its partners instead. In this case, however, the Americans were remarkably constructive. The real reason for that attitude was soon revealed: the Americans made Germany sign onto a deal purportedly serving the interests of Ukraine.

The celebrations in Kiev turned out to be short. When the details of the deal were revealed, it became quite clear that nobody guarantees anything to Ukraine or intends to compensate it for anything. Germany made a vague promise to fight for the interests of Ukraine and to push Gasprom to negotiate with Ukraine the extension of the transit contract. This, by the way, the Russian government never refused to do, provided Ukraine could offer competitive transit conditions. But this is precisely what Kiev does not want to do dreaming about continuing to profit from the “exclusiveness” of its transit capabilities. That is why Ukraine is fighting so fiercely against Nordstream-2. But nobody promised to force Moscow into an unprofitable deal. This was finally understood in Ukraine, and loud whine about betrayal immediately followed.

Ukraine is mistaken: it has not been betrayed; it has been sold. Furthermore, in spite what Biden’s opponents say, Biden did not sell it to Putin. Putin is using the Ukraine situation to serve Russian interests quite effectively, but he has not paid a dime or made a single political concession. On the contrary, Gasprom and Russia are planning to make a profit from all this, compensating for forced losses of the previous period. Biden sold the Ukrainian “brick” to Merkel.

In order to go away in style and leave her party a chance to remain in power, Bundeskanzlerin needed to restore mutual understanding with the US. However, the Nordstream-2 was such an important project that in this case Merkel was not prepared to make a single concession. The Americans are tough negotiators, though, so they did manage to make her an offer she could not refuse.

They have removed Nordstream-2 from the equation. The existing sanctions were left in place, for they did no harm, whereas no new sanctions, particularly against the Germans, will be imposed. All Germany’s obligations towards Ukraine would be expressed as vaguely as possible. It would be up to Berlin to decide what exactly these obligations are.

The only specific promise was that the US would collect money in the West in the amount of 1 billion dollars, which would be given to Ukraine to develop “green” energy in order to be able to compensate any potential problems with natural gas supplies. Germany would serve as a manager of the “green” energy development in Ukraine contributing 150-200 million dollars to that 1 billion (a tiny sum for Germany).

Biden killed two birds with one stone. First, he demonstrated to his supporters in the US how effectively he fights for ecology introducing “green” energy even in such a distant and God forsaken place as Ukraine.

Second, the Germans that have been fighting nuclear and coal power stations at home for years, could apply their experience in Ukraine at the same time making use of a billion dollars. They would, of course, have to share some with the aboriginies, but not that much. Besides, the Germans would be in a position to solve the problem of a dozen of nuclear blocks in Ukrainian nuclear plants all potential Chernobyls – that are still in the playful Ukrainian paws.

Thirdly, since after this “support” and “reforms”, Ukraine would inevitably face a deficit of electric power, the EU would be able to sell it not only natural gas “via reverse”, but also electricity.

Fourthly, the US finally got rid of the Ukrainian “suitcase without the handle” successfully forcing it onto Germany. Now it is time for the Merkel’s successors to think how to sell Ukraine back to Russia even if with added financial compensation.

Merkel herself has no cause to complain. She bought a “brick”, of course, but a brick nicely packaged in golden foil. While the purchase is being unwrapped, the elections will be over and the Chancellor will retire. If CDU/CSU fail to remain in power, that would definitely not be her fault. Merkel is passing on a solid well cared for country without debt or problems. The promises, which Kiev troublemakers would cling to, will surface later when the fate of the elections and the coalition will have been decided.

We have to give the honor where the honor is due: the Americans never discard anything and manage to get their pennies for the most useless and unattractive product.

As far as Ukraine is concerned… Well, nobody concerns himself with Ukraine anymore. The Ukrainian citizens are left with the only hope that at some time in the future, after a series of re-sales, this invalid, which is Ukraine, in spite of its obnoxious personality, a habit to gnaw at the owner’s furniture, damage wallpaper, and crap all over the place, would end up an good hands.

But this is very unlikely.

(1) “Buy a brick” – a common Russian joke. A big guy holding a brick approaches a passerby: “Ah, dude, buy this brick”. The person responds: “No, thank you, I don’t need it”. When the big guy waives the brick menacingly over the head of the other: “You’d better buy this brick and not tempt your fate”.

الانسحاب الأميركي من وسط آسيا بين الفوضى والاستقرار

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كاتب وباحث سياسي في العديد من المنافذ الإخبارية العربية ، ومنها جريدة الأخبار ، وقناة الميادين الإخبارية الفضائية ، وعربي 21 ، وراي اليوم ،.

 الأربعاء 28 تموز 2021

المصدر

عمرو علان

كما كان دخول أميركا عسكرياً إلى قلب آسيا، من خلال احتلال أفغانستان قبل 20 عاماً، تبدّلاً نوعياً في وضع الجغرافيا السياسية الذي كان قائماً في وسط آسيا آنذاك، فإنَّ انسحابها اليوم لا يقلّ أهميّة كذلك من هذا المنظور.

لم يكن دخول أميركا إلى آسيا الوسطى – قبل 20 عاماً من خلال احتلال أفغانستان – نقلة هامشية في لعبتي الشطرنج الجغرافيتين، السياسية والاقتصادية، فكما يقول الأستاذ المساعد البروفيسور برياني تود في مركز البحوث الاستراتيجية “Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies” في جامعة ” National Defense University” الأميركية: “إذا ما كنّا – يقصد الأميركيين – خلال التسعينيات ننظر إلى منطقة وسط آسيا من خلال البعد الروسي، فإننا صرنا في الألفية الثانية ننظر إلى تلك المنطقة من خلال البعد الأفغاني”.

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كان الدخول العسكري الأميركي إلى قلب آسيا تحولاً استراتيجياً إذ جعل منها المهيمن الرئيس في عموم منطقة أوراسيا

إنَّ وجود أفغانستان في قلب آسيا يجعل منها عقدة مواصلات برية في حركتي نقل البضائع والأفراد، ولا سيما أنَّ لها حدوداً مشتركة مع 6 دول آسيوية، 3 منها تعد دولاً محورية، هي الصين شرقاً، وباكستان جنوباً، وإيران غرباً. يضاف إلى ذلك وقوع أفغانستان في حيّز اهتمام جمهورية روسيا الاتحادية ضمن عقيدة “الخارج القريب” أو استراتيجية “سياسة الوصول جنوباً” في حقبة ما بعد الاتحاد السوفياتي؛ فمن خلال البرّ الأفغاني يمكن لروسيا الوصول إلى باكستان، ومنها إلى المحيط الهندي.

لهذا، كان الدخول العسكري الأميركي إلى قلب آسيا تحولاً استراتيجياً، إذ جعل منها المهيمن الرئيس في عموم منطقة أوراسيا، ومؤثراً أساسياً في سياسات دول تلك المنطقة ونُظُمِها، ما شكَّل مصدر إزعاج لكلٍ من روسيا والصين وإيران؛ فبالنسبة إلى روسيا، صار الوجود العسكري الأميركي في حديقتها الخلفية، علاوة على قطع الطريق عليها للوصول إلى المحيط الهندي. بالنسبة إلى إيران، شكَّل تموضع قوة عسكرية عدوانية على حدودها تهديداً استراتيجياً دائماً، ولا سيما بعد تمدد هذا الوجود إلى الساحة العراقية في غرب آسيا، ليضع إيران بين فكّي كماشة.

أما صينياً، فشكَّل الوجود الأميركي في أفغانستان حاجزاً أمام طريق الصين التجاري للوصول إلى الغرب؛ هذا الطريق الذي تحوّل في ما بعد إلى استراتيجية “مبادرة الحزام والطريق” الصينية. وازدادت أهمية الممر الأفغاني في “مبادرة الحزام والطريق” بعد بناء الصين ميناء “جوادر” على بحر العرب في باكستان، وبعد تَبَلْور اتفاقيات “الممر الاقتصادي الصيني الباكستاني” الذي يعد درَّة التاج في “مبادرة الحزام والطريق”.

يظهر هذا الاهتمام الصيني المتزايد في أفغانستان في زيادة حجم المساعدات النقدية لهذا البلد، وفي اتفاقيات الاستثمار الصيني الموقَّعة حديثاً في قطاع التعدين واستغلال مناجم النحاس، إضافةً إلى مشاريع بنى تحتية أخرى من سكك حديد وغيرها.

ورغم أنَّ العديد من المشاريع الاقتصاديّة الاستراتيجيّة التي تم الاتفاق عليها بين الصين وأفغانستان ما زالت تنتظر الدخول حيز التنفيذ، ورغم أنَّ عدد الشركات الصينية التي دخلت فعلاً إلى السوق الأفغاني لم يتجاوز الـ300، وهي تقتصر حالياً على كبريات الشركات الصينية، كشركة “هواوي” مثلاً، فإنَّ المصالح “الجيو-سياسية” و”الجيو-اقتصادية” الصينية باتت واضحة في الساحة الأفغانية. كل هذه الاستثمارات الاقتصادية لا تنتظر سوى زوال العائقين الرئيسين أمام البدء بها، وهما الوجود الأميركي واستعادة الاستقرار السياسي في هذا البلد الذي أنهكه الاحتلال والحروب البينية.

إذاً، كما كان دخول أميركا عسكرياً إلى قلب آسيا تبدّلاً نوعياً في وضع الجغرافيا السياسية الذي كان قائماً في وسط آسيا آنذاك، فإنَّ انسحابها اليوم لا يقلّ أهميّة كذلك من هذا المنظور. 

وهنا، نلحظ أنَّ انسحاب الاحتلال السوفياتي أواخر الثمانينيات عقب فشله في أفغانستان، كان قد حصل ضمن استراتيجية وخطة منظمة، ما ساعد في صمود حكومة نجيب الله التي كانت مدعومة سوفياتياً حتى تفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي ذاته، بينما نجد أن الانسحاب الأميركي تم بطريقة عشوائية، ومن دون استراتيجية واضحة، ما يطرح احتمالات دخول أفغانستان في حالة عدم استقرار سياسي ودورة عنف داخلي متجدّد، حتى إنَّ صحيفة “وول ستريت جورنال” كانت قد كشفت مؤخراً عن تقديرات استخبارية أميركية جديدة تتنبأ بسقوط حكومة كابول المدعومة أميركياً خلال 6 أشهر بعد استكمال الانسحاب الأميركي.

لهذا، صدرت تقديرات في كلٍّ من روسيا والصين تُخمِّن أن طريقة الانسحاب الأميركية غير المدروسة تهدف عن عمد إلى إدخال الساحة الأفغانية في حالتي فوضى وعدم استقرار، ما يضرب الاستراتيجيتين الروسية والصينية في منطقة وسط آسيا، اللتين يعدّ استقرار أفغانستان عنصراً مهماً فيهما.

بمعنى آخر، إنَّ الأميركي يسعى إلى إشعال كرة نار ليلقي بها في الحضن الروسي والصيني، وحتى الباكستاني والإيراني، ويمكن لعدم الاستقرار في أفغانستان أن يؤثر في ساحتي باكستان وإيران الداخليتين، ولا سيّما الساحة الباكستانية. وبهذا، يترك الأميركي على عاتق هذه الدول عبء ترتيب الفوضى التي خلقها بنفسه. ولعل هذا ما يفسر رؤية الصين وروسيا للانسحاب الأميركي من أفغانستان على أنّه فرصة وتحدٍّ في آنٍ واحد.

وقد عبَّرت الصين صراحةً عن توجُّسها من طريقة الانسحاب الأميركي غير المنظم، وذلك في كلمة مندوب الصين في جلسة “مجلس الأمن الدولي” في 22 حزيران/يونيو 2021، التي خُصِّصَت لنقاش الوضع في أفغانستان، كما أكّد هذا التوجُّس وزير خارجيتها وانغ يي خلال افتتاح “منتدى السلام العالمي” التاسع الذي عُقِد في بكين في 3 تموز/يوليو 2021.

لكنْ مهما كان الحال، سواء كان انسحاب أميركا، كما وصفه بدقّة ديمتري ترنين مدير “مركز كارنيغي موسكو”، حين كتب أنَّ الانتشار الأميركي خارج العالم الغربي يتضمّن مشكلتين؛ أولهما أن الأميركي عندما يدخل منطقة بالقوة يُحدِث اضطراباً في “جغرافيّتها السياسية” السائدة، والأخرى تكون عند انسحابه، إذ يُخلِّف وراءه فوضى، أو أنَّ الانسحاب الأميركي جاء فوضوياً بشكلٍ متعمّد؛ ففي الحالتين، لا يغير ذلك من حقيقة الأمر ومما يترتّب عليه.

وحتى إن عددنا الانسحاب الأميركي تحولاً إلى استراتيجية “التحكّم في الفوضى عن بُعد” في محاولةٍ لضرب مصالح الصين وروسيا في منطقة وسط آسيا بكلفة أقل، يظل هذا انكفاءً على وقْع فشَلٍ لاحتلال دام 20 عاماً، إذ أخفق الاحتلال في تحقيق هدفه الاستراتيجي بتثبيت سيطرةٍ مستتبةٍ للأميركي وحلفائه على قلب آسيا، وعلى عقدة المواصلات البرية عبر أفغانستان.

ولا ننسى أن الهدف المعلن الأميركي عند احتلال أفغانستان كان القضاء على حركة “طالبان” نهائياً، بينما نجد اليوم أن احتمال عودة “طالبان” إلى الحكم صار كبيراً، بعد أن باتت التقارير المتواترة تشير إلى تَمكُنها من استعادة السيطرة على نحو 80% من مساحة أفغانستان في فترة زمنية قياسية، وبعد أن باتت كلّ الدول المجاورة لأفغانستان، إضافة إلى روسيا، تتعاطى مع الحركة على أنها اللاعب الرئيس في المشهد الأفغاني. وبدأت الهند أيضاً مؤخراً بفتح خطوط تواصل معها، رغم الموقف العدائي للهند تجاهها، بسبب ديناميات التحالفات في ذلك الإقليم وتعقيداتها، بين الصين وباكستان من ناحية، والهند من ناحية مقابِلة.

وفي المحصّلة، تفرض المرحلة القادمة تحدياً على الدول الفاعلة في ذاك الإقليم، ولا سيما الصين وروسيا، بالتعاون مع إيران وباكستان والهند، من أجل ترتيب الوضع الداخلي الأفغاني واستعادة هذا البلد استقراره السياسي الذي يتوقف عليه انطلاق حركة إعادة الإعمار والتنمية، بما يخدم الشعب الأفغاني بداية، ويصب تبعاً في مصلحة الاستراتيجيات الكبرى لمركزي القوى العالميين الصاعدَين، الصين ومبادرتها “الحزام والطريق”، وروسيا واستراتيجيتها “الأوراسية”؛ هذه الاستراتيجيات التي تمهّد لولادة عالَم ما بعد الهيمنة الغربية.

من أجل هذا الهدف، توجد عدة اتحادات وتحالفات إقليمية يمكن البناء عليها من أجل إعادة رسم الجغرافيتين السياسية والاقتصادية في منطقة وسط آسيا، وامتداداً غرب آسيا، لكن من دون الخوض في التفاصيل، يرى البعض أن تكون “منظمة شانغهاي للتعاون” هي الأكثر قدرة على القيام بهذه المهمة الكبرى التي لا تخلو من الفخاخ والمصاعب.

أما بالنسبة إلى آثار هذه التحولات في المنطقة العربية، فنوجزها بالمعادَلة الآتية: كل صعود للشرق، وأفول للغرب، وتراجع للإمبريالية والهيمنة الغربية، هو مصلحة محققة لـ”دول الأطراف” عموماً، ما يوجِد فرص وبيئة جديدة مؤاتية في المنطقة العربية، يبقى على عاتق العرب حُسن استثمارها وتوظيفها في مصلحة الإقليم.إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

Lebanon to Prevail Despite US-‘Israeli’ Efforts to Sabotage Its Resistance

 July 27, 2021

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By Mohammad Youssef

Lebanon is a country which is crisis-bred. The state is plagued with a series of Isms; sectarianism, confessionalism, and nepotism. This has brought the whole political system into complete paralysis. Ever since its establishment under the French mandate Lebanon has suffered from deep structural dilemmas.

The elite or the founding fathers of the state has prescribed a recipe that rendered it vulnerable to all kinds of problems and calamities.

The country of the elite that was introduced once as Switzerland of the orient is suffering now from a myriad of very serious problems; political, economic, social, financial and monetary ones. Researchers and scholars have designated Lebanon crisis as one of the worst in the world in the last 150 years.

Lebanon imports everything and rarely exports any. The budget deficit is immense. The price of basics whether food, medication and fuel is skyrocketing. The value of the Lebanese lira to dollar is dwindling dramatically; hence most of the consumed materials come from abroad, dollars should be paid at a time when the country is running out of the hard currency. As the value of the dollar is going up, the Majority of the Lebanese families cannot afford the basics. More segments of the society are joining the poverty underline.

On the state level, most of the governmental sectors are on the verge of collapse.

The state as earlier mentioned has been established as a corporate business investment to serve a very limited elite and few families. People has no value or any worth to them, they could simply lock down their business without any consideration to the sufferings of the people.

What is worth mentioning is that the structural ailments of the Lebanese political system that has been created and shepherd by the Western countries are not the only cause for its ominous crisis; what exacerbated the situation is the continuous American siege against Lebanon which was culminated by the sanctions against Lebanon and Syria.

The US administration has a single goal; guaranteeing the Zionist entity security and eliminating any threat or obstacle to its settlement expansionist occupation plots. Because of its triumphant resistance, Lebanon nowadays represents an existential threat to US-‘Israeli’ plots against Lebanon and the region. As the US and ‘Israel’ tried every aspect possible to eliminate this threat to no avail, they are trying now to weaken it by pressuring the people on every level in an attempt to plans a wedge between the resistance and its supporters.

Once again be assured, the US-‘Israeli’ efforts to sabotage the resistance strength will not work.

Indeed, the situation is very difficult, and the hardships are many, nonetheless the resolve and determination to confront is very willful obstinate. A new stage of challenges are on the run but we will not run out of faith. No threats without opportunities. We will face and resist, and we will definitely get the best. They will fail, we will prevail, God willing.

Nujaba: Entire US Military, Including “Criminal” Air Force, Must Leave Iraq

27 Jul 2021

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By Staff, Agencies

Iraq’s al-Nujaba resistance movement has called for a complete pullout of American forces from the country, saying the planned withdrawal under the newly-inked agreement between Baghdad and Washington must include the US military’s “criminal” air force.

“We have no confidence whatsoever in Americans, and do not agree to their presence under any circumstances. We fiercely oppose the US military presence, and demand a complete pullout of American forces,” Nasr al-Shammari, Nujaba’s spokesman, told the Lebanese al-Mayadeen news network in an interview on Monday night.

The comments followed a meeting between Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and US President Joe Biden in Washington, where they sealed an agreement formally ending the US “combat” mission in Iraq by the end of 2021, more than 18 years after US troops were sent to the country.

Under the agreement, however, US military forces will continue to operate in Iraq in what has been termed as an “advisory role.”

A joint Iraq-US statement issued after the meeting said the “security” relationship will be focused on “training, advising and intelligence-sharing.”

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Biden said the US would continue to “train, to assist, to help and to deal with ISIS as it arises,” when the combat mission comes to an end.

The US currently has about 2,500 troops in Iraq. It is not known how many troops will stay in the country beyond 2021. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said “the numbers will be driven by what is needed for the mission over time.”

Shammari hailed Kadhimi’s latest remarks that Iraq no longer requires American combat troops.

The Nujaba official said the withdrawal must also include the US air force, which, he said, controls Iraq’s airspace and has been behind many of the American military’s crimes in the Arab state.

“The US military’s crimes in Iraq, especially the assassination of military commanders Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani [of Iran] and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, were carried out by its air force,” Shammari said.

He said the US military offered no help to Iraq to prevent the rise of the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”] initially, or to defeat it later on.

“American forces did not warn against the Daesh militant group’s threats until after it captured more than a third of the Iraqi soil. Additionally, the troops did not provide any assistance to confront the terrorists,” he said.

Shammari said certain Iraqi factions want to promote themselves though foreign support and thus seek a prolongation of the US military presence in the country.

“Who can guarantee that American forces in Iraq will not be reinforced under the title of advisors?” he asked.

Meanwhile, prominent Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr praised the agreement to end US combat mission in Iraq, saying, “We are waiting for a complete withdrawal of American troops.”

Sadr praised the role of Iraqi resistance fighters in speeding up the American pullout in a post published on his Twitter page, and wrote “The occupiers finally announced the start of the withdrawal of all their combat forces.”

“We are waiting, just as you are, for the complete pullout of the occupying forces,” he said in an address to resistance groups, while appreciating “efforts aimed at striking this agreement, especially those made by brother al-Kadhimi.”

He added, “We have already announced our conditions, and the military operations of resistance forces will stop completely once they are met. We must work to support Iraqi armed forces, including the army and law enforcement, so they can secure Iraqi territories and protect the country against terrorism, violence and proxies.”

Separately, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halboosi hailed the agreement to end US combat mission in Iraq, and stated that his country is moving confidently towards the full realization of its capabilities.

He described the agreement as a diplomatic and political achievement in line with Iraq’s national interests, establishment of full sovereignty and the creation of a capable Iraq.

Anti-US sentiment has been growing in Iraq since the assassination in January 2020 of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units, along with the region’s legendary anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

They were targeted along with their companions on January 3, 2020 in a drone strike authorized by former US president Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport.

Two days after the attack, Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill that requires the government to end the presence of all foreign military forces led by the US.

“Kata’ib Sayyid Al-Shuhada”: US May Back a Military Ruler in Iraq

27 Jul 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

After many Iraqi stances refusing to legitimize the US presence in Iraq, the “Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada” Spokesman Kadhim al-Fartousi warns against a plan to destabilize the elections and appoint a US-backed military ruler in Iraq.

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Al-Fartousi: The Iraqi government made a grave mistake

In an interview for Al Mayadeen, the “Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada” Spokesman Kadhim al-Fartousi considered that “the negotiations between the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi and his accompanying delegation with the US administration are aimed at legitimizing the US presence in Iraq.”

In response to the Biden-Kadhimi agreement to end the US military combat mission in Iraq by the end of the year, al-Fartousi said that “the Iraqi government made a grave mistake when it undertook the role of a mediator between the Resistance and the US.” 

“By doing so, the Iraqi government recognized the presence of US combat troops in Iraq,” he added.

Concerning the Iraqi parliamentary elections and Iraq’s political future, Al-Fartousi confirmed that “the circulated information suggests that the upcoming elections will not bring anything new to the political structure. As a result, a decision was made against them.”

Al-Fartousi warned that “a military figure, who accompanied the Iraqi delegation to the US, may be nominated as a military ruler,” he added.

The Secretary-General of “Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq” Qais al-Khazali said that the Iraqi Foreign Minister’s statement about the need for US forces was “unfortunate”, noting that “the statement is rejected and does not reflect the reality of the capabilities the Iraqi forces have attained.”

On Monday, the Deputy Secretary-General of Iraq’s “Al-Nujaba Islamic Resistance Movement” Nasr al-Shammari expressed to Al Mayadeen his distrust in the Americans.

“Iraq’s Al-Nujaba Islamic Resistance Movement rejects the US presence in Iraq,” al-Shammari emphasized.

Commenting on some Iraqi stances which call for the continuation of US presence in Iraq, Al-Shammari  said, “Whoever demands a continued US military presence in Iraq aims to gain internal power through the foreign powers.” 

“US forces in Iraq did not provide an early warning against ISIS invasion, nor did they assist in confronting it,” he added.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hussein Fuad had lately stressed that his country’s security forces are still in need of the training, armament, equipment, and capacity-building programs provided by the US.

On his part, Iraqi National Security Adviser Qassem al-Araji has recently announced that the US has been informed that “Iraq does not need any foreign combat force” on its soil.

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BRI vs New Quad for Afghanistan’s coming boom

BRI vs New Quad for Afghanistan’s coming boom

July 26, 2021

The race is already on to build and extend Afghanistan’s shattered infrastructure as rival powers advance competing initiatives

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Over a week ago the excruciatingly slow Doha peace talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban resumed, and then they dragged on for two days observed by envoys from the EU, US and UN.

Nothing happened. They could not even agree on a ceasefire during Eid al-Adha. Worse, there’s no road map for how negotiations might pick up in August. Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada duly released a statement: the Taliban “strenuously favors a political settlement.”

But how? Irreconcilable differences rule. Realpolitik dictates there’s no way the Taliban will embrace Western liberal democracy: They want the restoration of an Islamic emirate.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, for his part, is damaged goods even in Kabul diplomatic circles where he’s derided as too stubborn, not to mention incapable of rising to the occasion. The only possible solution in the short term is seen as an interim government.

Yet there is no leader around with national appeal – no Commander Massoud figure. There are only regional warlords – whose militias protect their own local interests, not distant Kabul.

While facts on the ground spell out balkanization, the Taliban, even on the offensive, know they cannot possibly pull off a military takeover of Afghanistan.

And when the Americans say they will continue to “support Afghan government forces,” that means still bombing, but from over the horizon and now under new Centcom management in Qatar.

Russia, China, Pakistan and the Central Asian “stans” – everyone is trying hard to circumvent the stalemate. Shadow play, as usual, has been in full effect. Take for instance the crucial meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (former Soviet states) – nearly simultaneous with the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Dushanbe and the subsequent Central Asia-South Asia connectivity conference in Tashkent.

The CSTO summit was 100% leak-proof. And yet, previously, they had discussed “possibilities of using the potential of the CSTO member states” to keep the highly volatile Tajik-Afghan border under control.

That’s very serious business. A task force headed by Colonel-General Anatoly Sidorov, the chief of the CSTO Joint Staff, is in charge of “joint measures” to police the borders.

Now enter an even more intriguing shadowplay gambit – met with a non-denial denial by both Moscow and Washington.

The Kommersant newspaper revealed that Moscow offered some “hospitality” to the Pentagon at its military bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (both SCO member states). The objective: keep a joint eye on the fast-evolving Afghan chessboard – and prevent drug mafia cartels, Islamists of the ISIS-Khorasan variety and refugees from crossing the borders of these Central Asian ‘stans.

What the Russians are aiming at – non-denial denial withstanding – is not to let the Americans off the hook for the “mess” (copyright Sergey Lavrov) in Afghanistan while preventing them from reestablishing any offshoot of the Empire of Bases in Central Asia.

They established bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan after 2001, although they had to be abandoned later in 2004 and 2014. What is clear is there’s absolutely no chance the US will re-establish military bases in SCO and CSTO member nations.

Birth of a new Quad

At the Central Asia-South Asia 2021 meeting in Tashkent, right after the SCO meeting in Dushanbe, something quite intriguing happened: the birth of a new Quad (forget that one in the Indo-Pacific).

This is how it was spun by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs: a “historic opportunity to open flourishing international trade routes, [and] the parties intend to cooperate to expand trade, build transit links and strengthen business-to-business ties.”

If that sounds like something straight out of the Belt and Road Initiative, well, here’s the confirmation by the Pakistani Foreign Office:

“Representatives of the United States, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed in principle to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity. The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing.”

The US doing Belt and Road right into China’s alley? A State Department tweet confirmed it. Call it a geopolitical case of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

Now this is probably the only issue that virtually all players on the Afghanistan chessboard agree: a stable Afghanistan turbo-charging the flow of cargo across a vital hub of Eurasia integration.

Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen has been very consistent: the Taliban regard China as a “friend” to Afghanistan and are eager to have Beijing investing in reconstruction work “as soon as possible.”

The question is what Washington aims to accomplish with this new Quad – for the moment just on paper. Simple: to throw a monkey wrench into the works of the SCO, led by Russia-China, and the main forum organizing a possible solution for the Afghan drama.

In this sense, the US versus Russia-China competition in the Afghan theater totally fits the Build Back Better World (B3W) gambit, which aims – at least in thesis – to offer an alternative infrastructure plan to Belt and Road and pitch it to nations from the Caribbean and Africa to the Asia-Pacific.

What is not in question is that a stable Afghanistan is essential in terms of establishing full rail-road connectivity from resource-rich Central Asia to the Pakistani ports of Karachi and Gwadar, and beyond to global markets.

For Pakistan, what happens next is a certified geoeconomic win-win – whether via the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is a flagship Belt and Road project, or via the new, incipient Quad.

China will be funding the highly strategic Peshawar-Kabul motorway. Peshawar is already linked to CPEC. The completion of the motorway will symbolically seal Afghanistan as part of CPEC. 

And then there’s the delightfully named Pakafuz, which refers to the trilateral deal signed in February between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan to build a railway – a fundamentally strategic connection between Central and South Asia.

Full connectivity between Central Asia and South Asia also happens to be a key plank of the Russian master strategy, the Greater Eurasia Partnership, which interacts with Belt and Road in multiple ways.

Lavrov spent quite some time in the Central Asia-South Asia summit in Tashkent explaining the integration of the Greater Eurasia Partnership and Belt and Road with the SCO and the Eurasia Economic Union.

Lavrov also referred to the Uzbek proposal “to align the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Europe-West China corridor with new regional projects.” Everything is interlinked, any way you look at it.

Watching the geoeconomic flow

The new Quad is in fact a latecomer in terms of the fast-evolving geopolitical transmutation of the Heartland. The whole process is being driven by China and Russia, which are jointly managing key Central Asian affairs.

Already in early June, a very important China-Pakistan-Afghanistan joint statement stressed how Kabul will be profiting from trade via the CPEC’s port of Gwadar.

And then, there’s Pipelineistan.

On July 16, Islamabad and Moscow signed a mega-deal for a US$3 billion, 1100-kilometer gas pipeline between Port Qasim in Karachi and Lahore, to be finished by the end of 2023.

The pipeline will transport imported LNG from Qatar arriving at Karachi’s LNG terminal. This is the Pakstream Gas Pipeline Project – locally known as the North-South Gas project.

The interminable Pipelineistan war between IPI (India-Pakistan-Iran) and TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) – which I followed in detail for years – seems to have ended with a third-way winner.

As much as the Kabul government, the Taliban seem to be paying very close attention to all the geoeconomics and how Afghanistan is at the heart of an inevitable economic boom.

Perhaps both sides should also be paying close attention to someone like Zoon Ahmed Khan, a very bright Pakistani woman who is a research fellow with the Belt and Road Initiative Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University.

Pakistani naval personnel stand guard near a ship carrying containers at the Gwadar port, 700kms west of Karachi, where a trade program between Pakistan and China operates. Photo: AFP/Aamir Qureshi

Zoon Ahmed Khan notes how “one significant contribution that China makes through the BRI is emphasizing on the fact that developing countries like Pakistan have to find their own development path, rather than follow a Western model of governance.”

She adds, “The best thing Pakistan can learn from the Chinese model is to come up with its own model. China does not wish to impose its journey and experience on other countries, which is quite important.”

She is adamant that Belt and Road “is benefiting a much greater region than Pakistan. Through the initiative, what China tries to do is to present the partner countries with its experience and the things it can offer.”

All of the above definitely applies to Afghanistan – and its convoluted but ultimately inevitable insertion into the ongoing process of Eurasia integration.

In Video: Russian Aerospace Forces Tirelessly Pound Militants In Syria’s Greater Idlib

27.07.2021 

South Front

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Early on July 26, the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out an air strike on a terrorist facility in the area between the village of Kansafra and the village of Al-Bara in the Syrian province of Idlib. Presumably, the airstrike targeted an underground terrorist facility.

The Russian Aerospace Forces are striking militant positions in Greater Idlib on a daily basis in response to regular ceasefire violations.

Early on July 26, the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out an air strike on a terrorist facility in the area between the village of Kansafra and the village of Al-Bara in the Syrian province of Idlib. Presumably, the airstrike targeted an underground terrorist facility.

The Russian Aerospace Forces are striking militant positions in Greater Idlib on a daily basis in response to regular ceasefire violations.

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How to Undermine a Diplomatic Triumph

About me

26 July 2021

by Lawrence Davidson

Part I—The Backstory

The true status of current negotiations to reinstate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran is unknown to the American public—most of whom are tragically indifferent to the outcome. This is so even though the successful negotiation of this deal with Iran back in 2015 represents one of the greatest triumphs of diplomacy in the last hundred years. What we do know is this triumph was followed by tragedy—a premeditated tragedy—the sort of tragedy only fools can produce. But very few Americans care. That is the way it is with foreign policy. On the one hand, you can start wars to great public acclaim, and on the other, you can destroy hard-won diplomatic achievements almost without public notice. 

At the end of President Obama’s term of office (January 2017) the JCPOA was complete and in force. In exchange for a lifting of “nuclear-related sanctions,” Iran undertook not to pursue research that might allow her to develop nuclear weapons. Up until May of 2018 “Iran’s compliance has been repeatedly verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which oversees the most intrusive inspections regime ever negotiated.” It was in May of 2018 that Donald Trump, perhaps the most despicable human being to hold the presidency since Andrew Jackson, withdrew from the JCPOA, apparently for two reasons: (1) was the treaty was completed by Obama and Trump wanted to destroy the achievements of his non-white predecessor, and (2) Trump thought he could bully the Iranians into a “better deal.” It is important to note that the other signatories to the treaty did not initially follow Trump’s lead. “The leaders of France, the United Kingdom, and Germany issued a joint statement on behalf of their countries that reemphasized their support for the deal and its importance to the nonproliferation regime.” The United Nations expressed “deep concern” over Trump’s decision and released a statement in support of the JCPOA. Russia’s Foreign Ministry also reiterated its support for the JCPOA, and further stated that “U.S. actions compromise international trust in the IAEA.”

How did the Iranians react to Trump’s withdrawal from the treaty and reimposition of harsh sanctions? At first, Tehran suggested that if the other signatories to the agreement would remain loyal to their obligations, Iran too would keep to the treaty. Unfortunately, most of the European nations involved would soon succumb to U.S. economic pressure and cease to hold to their obligations. Nonetheless, it was not until a year following Trump’s irresponsible act that Iran announced that “The Islamic Republic of Iran in reaction to the exit of America from the nuclear deal and the bad promises of European countries in carrying out their obligations will restart a part of the nuclear activities which were stopped under the framework of the nuclear deal.” Even while the Iranian government took this position, it insisted that if at any time the United States returned to the treaty and removed all nuclear-related sanctions, Iran too would return to its obligations. Tehran even suggested a process whereby the U.S. and Iran would take simultaneous steps to that end. 

Everyone but Trump devotees, Israel and its supporters, and those Iranian exiles who would like to see the return of the country’s monarchy recognized that the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA had been a mistake. Accordingly, in the campaign run-up to the 2020 presidential election in the U.S., the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, promised that upon election he would rejoin the treaty if Iran returned to compliance as well. 

Biden did win, but he has not yet fulfilled his promise. Instead, he entered an extended period of negotiations that is still ongoing. At first it was said that these were about “who goes first” when it comes to returning to requirements of the treaty. Was Iran to give up the small steps in nuclear enrichment since the Trump withdrawal, or was the U.S. going to go first in removing the draconian sanctions placed on Iran by the Trump administration? It was Iran who realized the childish nature of this question and offered a simultaneous return to the compliance mentioned above. While the Biden administration rejected this offer, it has been reported that now both sides are working toward “simultaneous, sequential steps” back to requirements of the treaty. 


Part II—Misleading the American Public


In the meantime, the Biden administration has been releasing misinformation to the public. For instance, Biden has insisted that sanctions relief depends on Iran “returning to compliance.” But, of course, for anyone familiar with the relevant events, it was Washington that broke the treaty and needed to return to compliance. Any subsequent Iranian actions following Trump’s folly were, and still are, perfectly legal under the terms of the JCPOA. Joe Biden can continue to justify draconian economic sanctions in this way—sanctions that are ruining the lives of millions—only because he is addressing an ignorant American audience. 

When Iran failed to be bullied, Biden’s diplomats adopted a “shift the blame” tactic. In May 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “Iran, I think, knows what it needs to do to come back into compliance on the nuclear side, and what we haven’t yet seen is whether Iran is ready and willing to make a decision to do what it has to do. That’s the test and we don’t yet have an answer.” Translation: the American people should know that we, the Biden administration, are trying, but those Iranians seem to be too thick-headed to do what is necessary. So if the whole thing fails, it is their fault and not ours. 

Blinken went on, “If both sides can return to the original deal, then we can use that as a foundation both to look at how to make the deal itself potentially longer and stronger—and also [to] engage on these other issues, whether it’s Iran’s support for terrorism [or] its destabilizing support for different proxies throughout the Middle East.”

That scenario will not encourage the Iranians. They have repeatedly stated that the JCPOA, and the present negotiations, are about two things: sanctions and the scope of nuclear development. It is not about Iranian foreign policy, which has been so blandly assumed to be “terrorism” by both Trump and Biden. If Mr. Blinken keeps tagging on these extras, we will still be running in circles come Christmas.   

What is the diplomatic aim of the Biden administration? Is it to pursue the Democrats’ traditional, and bankrupt, aim of sounding as tough on foreign policy as the Republicans? That irrelevant goal (remember most Americans don’t care about foreign policy) would not be surprising coming from a professional Democratic politician of Joe Biden’s generation. However, after all the work that has gone into the JCPOA and all the suffering endured by the Iranian population due to brutal U.S. sanctions, such a petty motive reflects the mentality of a street gang competing with rivals, rather than the peaceful ends of an alleged civilized society. 

With statements like this, Secretary of State Blinken transforms himself into someone we might mistake for a

Fox News TV anchor. It would seem that many who pride themselves on eschewing Fox’s lies are ready to swallow whole Mr. Blinken’s bunk. 

Part III—An Israeli Connection?

We know that ex-Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and ex-President Trump were in agreement on Iran policy. In this regard, all the yelling and screaming about Iran’s nuclear program carried on by both men hid their real goal. Particularly for Netanyahu, the hyperbole was aimed at creating a “credible reason” to force regime change in Iran, even if it meant a U.S. invasion. Essentially, the model here was Iraq. Netanyahu was ready to pursue this end till the last dying American soldier. Obviously, the JCPOA was a major obstacle in that path. So was Barack Obama, who thought he was helping Israel and the world in general by negotiating the treaty. 

Now Netanyahu and Trump are gone from office. However, why should we believe that the new Israeli government has changed the ultimate goal? And why should we believe that Joe Biden—who is, as he never fails to remind us, an “ironclad” Zionist—will really follow in Obama’s footsteps?

In June, Israel sent some of its highest-ranking leaders to see Biden. These included Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Both meetings were basically about Iran. “Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch,” Biden told Rivlin. This was billed as a “stark warning” to Iran—a country which has, for religious as well as other reasons, disavowed the desire for such a weapon. How many Americans know this? Does President Biden know this?

Many scholars and other experts in Middle East policy believe that “Mr. Biden’s calculations are rooted in a different era of American-Israeli relations—when Israel’s security concerns commanded far more attention than Palestinian grievances.” This is true. But there is a more personal connection. Biden personally identifies with Israel like no other U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson. He collects yarmulkes and is reported to have knelt down in an impromptu “show of respect” after learning that Rivka Ravitz, President Rivlin’s Orthodox chief of staff, was the mother of 12 children. The Israeli Orthodox Jews often have such large families out of fear of a “demographic holocaust”—that is, the consequences of the Palestinians’ much higher birth rate than that of most Israeli Jews. Finally, Biden has completely accepted the highly debatable notion that world Jewry, many of whom are not Zionists, cannot be safe apart from the existence of Israel. 

Those same experts also believe that, when it comes to Israel, President Biden’s approach has much to do with domestic politics. Thus, getting back to the JCPOA is less important than catering to the desires of the Israel Lobby. This only makes sense for a politician born and bred to the power of that lobby.

Part IV—Conclusion


The U.S. and Israeli leaders are suffering from a group-think environment and tunnel vision, all shaped in good part by political pressure generated by dominant special interests.  At least in this instance, one cannot say the same for the Iranians who, though led by a rigid religious elite, broke through their tunnel vision and joined the JCPOA treaty. The present stalemate is the work of American ideologues tied hand and foot to a major U.S. lobby. 

Outside the tunnel one can see the obvious answer to the present stalemate. Having been polite and empathetic toward Rivlin and Gantz, Joe Biden should ask over to the Oval Office an outsider, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. At the end of June Guterres said, “I appeal to the United States to lift or waive its sanctions outlined in the plan.” He also appealed to Iran to return to full implementation of the deal. Right from the beginning of Biden’s election, the Iranians have been willing to follow Guterres’s lead. It is Biden who has temporized while being encouraged by his confidants from Jerusalem. 

Ex-CIA Agent: US Wasted Trillions on Wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, Achieved Nothing

July 26, 2021

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By Staff, Agencies

The US has squandered trillions of dollars on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while failing to achieve any objectives, former US counter-terrorism specialist and CIA military intelligence officer Philip Giraldi wrote in an op-ed for Strategic Culture Foundation.

In an article, Giraldi made the remarks as US soldiers leave Afghanistan after an almost twenty-year war and pressure mounts on the Biden administration to withdraw all troops from Iraq.

“Not only did the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq make bad situations worse, but the fact that no one in Washington was able to define ‘victory’ and think in terms of an exit strategy has meant that the wars and instability are still with us,” Giraldi wrote. “In their wake has been hundreds of thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars spent to accomplish absolutely nothing.”

He also lamented the development of a situation where, in his opinion, Iraq now has a stronger connection to “Iran than it does to Washington.”

“The Iraqi Parliament has, in fact, asked US forces to leave the country, a request that has been ignored both by Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Trump actually threatened to freeze Iraqi bank assets to pressure the Iraqis into accepting the continued US occupation,” he added.

The former CIA agent also criticized the American presence in Syria, which takes place despite the fact that the current government of President Bashar al-Assad did not ask the United States to intervene in the long civil conflict.

“At the same time, American troops illegally present in neighboring Syria, continue to occupy that country’s oil fields to deprive the government in Damascus of much needed resources. Neither Iraq nor Syria threatens the United States in any way,” Giraldi noted.

According to the former military spy, given that history, it should come as “no surprise that the withdrawal from the twenty-year-long nation-building project in Afghanistan, long overdue, is not quite going as smoothly as the Pentagon and White House apparently planned.”

“US forces pulled out of their principal base in the country, Bagram Air Base, in the middle of the night without informing the incoming Afghan base commander. A frenzy of looting of the left-behind equipment followed,” Giraldi wrote.

And in general, the Taliban movement in Afghanistan “is racking up victory after victory against US and NATO trained Afghan government forces who have the disadvantage of having to defend everywhere, making them vulnerable to attacks on an opportunity basis.” He also noted that the Taliban “plausibly” claim to control at least 85% of the countryside, including numerous significant towns and provinces as well as crossing points into Pakistan.

“The US government is quietly expecting a similar fate for the thousands of Afghans who collaborated with the regime installed by Washington and is hurriedly arranging for visas to get the most vulnerable out, eventually seeking to resettle them in friendly Middle Eastern countries as well as in the US,” he commented on the issue of evacuating Afghans who collaborated with the US forces from the country in light of the growing threats against them.

Given that some 18,000 local residents working for the US have requested evacuation from Afghanistan and that they will certainly take their families with them, Giraldi notes that there exists “particular concern” that former translators “will be most particularly targeted.”

All in all, the author reckoned that the US involvement in Afghanistan in “the struggle to rid the world of the wrong kind of terrorists” has left the country “weaker and more unfocused” than it was in 2001.

“A recent 23-page report suggests that since ‘Defense Secretary’ Lloyd Austin’s February order to ‘stand down’ the entire US military for commanders to address “extremism” in its ranks has sunk morale and many top soldiers have either retired or quit in disgust,” he explained. “During his confirmation hearings, Austin pledged that he would ‘rid our ranks of racists and extremists’ but the reality is quite different, with the witch hunt in the ranks and endless promotion of diversity even hurting normal military readiness training.”

As President Biden pledged to complete the military withdrawal by the end of August, and the whole military presence in the war-torn nation will be reduced to a battalion of soldiers to secure the Embassy and CIA station in Kabul, Giraldi notes that the situation in itself is “not sustainable unless some kind of workable Afghan government coalition can be achieved.” However, referring to the Taliban’s successful offensive, he figures that this “appears to be increasingly unlikely.”

And thus the US will have to maintain a vital direct link to the city’s airport, for which the administration is negotiating with Turkey to maintain a contingent. Although Turkey has agreed to this mission, the Taliban have already stated that the presence of the Turkish military on the territory of the airport is unacceptable and will lead to retaliatory military actions by the group.

In addition, the US is trying to negotiate with Afghanistan’s neighbors on the deployment of its military for the possibility of over-the-horizon military strikes on the country, and according to Giraldi, there “are few options as the US would not be able to launch cruise missile or airstrikes through the neighboring countries that surround Afghanistan to the south, east and west, though a long-distance strike from warships in the Persian Gulf is technically possible.”

Furthermore, the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, according to the former CIA agent, are closed to the US presence due to Russia’s dominance in the CSTO, which includes most of the former Union’s republics in the region, and Russia will certainly veto a US request for a military base. A possible US presence is not generating much enthusiasm from the countries of the region because “Washington’s bullying in Iraq, Syria and also against Iran has failed to convince anyone that the US Air Force would make a good neighbor.”

“So getting out of Afghanistan will be a lot trickier than going in,” Giraldi concluded. “And there is no escaping the fact that the entire Afghan adventure was one hell of a waste of lives and resources. Next time, maybe Washington will hesitate to charge in, but given the lack of any deep thinking going on in the White House, I suspect we Americans could easily find ourselves in yet another Afghanistan.”

Iraq’s Al-Nujaba Vows to Keep Targeting US Forces regardless Of New Title of Their Presence

July 26, 2021

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By Staff, Agencies

Spokesman for Iraq’s al-Nujaba Movement, Nasr al-Shammari said the country’s resistance forces will continue to target American forces regardless of their name being changed from combat forces to trainers and advisers.

“Regarding the US military’s presence, names and titles do not matter, and they will still be targets for the weapons of resistance under any title or attribute,” al-Shammari said in an interview with Beirut-based al-Mayadeen television network.

Al-Shammari noted that Iraq’s prime minister, defense minister, and national security adviser have all emphasized that the country does not need the presence of foreign forces as it enjoys ample defense capabilities.

He said when Iraq was badly in need of American troops and advisers, they were of no use and their presence was not a source of any benefit to Iraqis.

“The Americans are changing the title of their presence in Iraq to deceive the public,” he said. “What good can come out of changing the title of ‘occupier’ to ‘adviser’? American troops are present in Iraq; what difference does it make under what title and pretext their presence is defined?”

He reiterated that Iraqi resistance forces will continue to target American forces because “nothing has changed from the perspective of al-Nujaba Movement and Iraq does not need American forces.”

Al-Shammari made the remarks as Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is scheduled to meet President Joe Biden on Monday to push for a concrete timetable for the withdrawal of US troops.

Currently, there are approximately 2,500 US troops in Iraq. In April, the two countries agreed that the US transition to a train-and-advise mission requires the withdrawal of combat troops, without setting a timetable for the withdrawal.

Russian Foreign Ministry on Nord Stream 2, Britain, and US Support for ISIS

By Stephen Lendman

Source

From beneath the Baltic Sea, Russia’s 745-mile pipeline will supply 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually to Germany and Europe.

Nearly completed, it’ll soon be operational despite US efforts to undermine the project.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (MZ below) stressed that the project “is in full accord with norms of international law, EU regulatory requirements and laws of littoral states” Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

It’ll greatly enhance European energy security, not undermine it as US dark forces claim.

According to Gazprom Export head Elena Burmistrova, European consumers will save at least 7.9 billion euros in annual energy costs over 30% more expensive US LNG.

MZ stressed that Russia never uses “energy supplies or the transit issue as a weapon and has no intention to do this in the future.” 

Moscow is “committed to politics-free energy cooperation and its development with all countries based on the principles of respect for partners’ interests and mutual benefit.”

Despite Russia’s good faith in dealings with Germany on the project important to its energy security, an unacceptable joint US/German agreement didn’t reciprocate, Moscow’s US envoy Anatoly Antonov explained, saying:

Its “hostile tonality directed at our country fundamentally contradicts the spirit of” what bilateral and multilateral relations should be all about, adding:

“The attempts to present us as an aggressor and a country involved in ‘malign’ activities have long become the calling card of Russophobes.” 

“The threats against us are groundless and futile.”

“We’ve never inflicted our deliveries on anyone, never used our energy resources as a weapon of political pressure, nor tried to resolve by these means any opportunistic goals ascribed to us.” 

“We reject any accusations on that score.” 

“We view these attempts as nothing else but unscrupulous competition.”

“Russia is ready to deliver as much” energy to recipient countries as they wish to recieve.

According to what the Biden and Angela Merkel regimes agreed on, US sanctions on Nord Stream 2 will be rescinded in return for US/German investments in Ukraine’s energy security.

Berlin also pledged to demand that Russia extend the gas pipeline to Ukraine so its US-controlled ruling regime will get $3 billion in annual transit fees.

Germany will support renewed sanctions on Russia if accused of “aggression” the Kremlin abhors by any nations against others.

According to an unnamed State Department Russophobe:

“Should Russia attempt to use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine (sic), Germany will take action at the national level and press for effective measures at the European level, including sanctions to limit Russian export capabilities to Europe in the energy sector.”

Nord Stream 2 is a commercial project. Yet Biden/Merkel regime dark forces continue to unacceptably politicize it.

MZ stressed that the pipeline “will function reliably (by) providing affordable energy to European consumers. 

It will “strengthen energy security of (recipient) European countries.”

Totalitarian Britain partners with Washington’s diabolical war on Russia by other means.

MZ slammed Big Lies by MI5 head Ken McCallum.

He falsely accused Russia of threatening UK security by cyber attacks — a US, UK, EU, Israeli specialty, not how Russia operates against any nations.

No evidence suggests otherwise, none by McCallum.

Like other Johnson regime hardliners, he’s hostile to all things Russia, inventing things to accuse the Kremlin of. No legitimate ones exist.

MZ: If Britain has concrete facts, not “empty talk,” reveal it. 

Otherwise its remarks are baseless like many times before.

“Moscow is guided by the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries” — polar opposite how the US-dominated West operates. 

The Kremlin “repeatedly warned London that the anti-Russia hysteria that has been launched in the UK will eventually have a backlash against its masterminds.”

Russian Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov has indisputable evidence of the US/ISIS connection.

MZ explained that Russia repeatedly raised this issue with other world community member states.

It “provided evidence multiple times…based on (credible) data,” adding:

“We have many questions about unmarked helicopter flights, recorded since 2017, over the areas of activity of ISIS militants” where they’re deployed as proxy US foot soldiers.

Afghan sources explained that US helicopters are “used to deliver reinforcements, weapons and munitions, and remove killed and wounded terrorists from battlefields.” 

“We made this information public and said that (it) should attract serious attention from specialized bodies and all involved parties.” 

“We spoke about this before, and, I should stress once again, this kind of activity was not possible without the knowledge of the US and NATO that control Afghan air space.”

The same thing has gone on in Syria throughout at least most of the past decade.

The US and its imperial partners use ISIS and likeminded jihadists as proxies in Washington’s war theaters.

Russia supplied this information to the UN — ignored by pro-Western secretary general Guterres and his predecessor. 

Korybko’s response to Pantucci: Pakistan’s multi-alignment policy is promising


24 July 2021

By Andrew Korybko

Source

According to Raffaello Pantucci, Pakistan is losing its regional security significance as it cannot maintain a balance between the great powers. However, Andrew Korybko negates Mr. Pantucci’s claims and states that Pakistan is actively balancing between China, Russia, and the US and has a strong multi-alignment policy.

Pakistan multi alignment policy

Raffaello Pantucci, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore and a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, published a piece at Nikkei Asia on 23 July titled “China is a habit that Pakistan cannot break”.

He contrasts Pakistan’s excellent political ties with China with the currently troubled ones that it has with the US. Mr. Pantucci predicts that “In the years ahead, Washington is likely to look at Islamabad through the lens of its growing tensions with Beijing, with Pakistan was seen to be sitting firmly on China’s side.” That perception, he believes, will hinder Pakistan’s attempts to successfully balance between the world’s two most influential Great Powers.

This preexisting structural challenge is compounded by recent developments. Pakistan is losing its regional security significance to the US following America’s impending military withdrawal from Afghanistan. This is occurring in parallel with mounting Chinese concerns over its domestic security situation that might consequently reduce Pakistan’s regional economic significance to the People’s Republic, or so he implies.

Read more: Pakistan playing balancing act between China and US: report

Mr. Pantucci regards Pakistan’s outreaches to the US (which he thinks China views suspiciously) as unsuccessful, which compels “fealty” to China that in turn heightens US suspicions. He concludes that “Islamabad has backed itself into a complicated position that it will struggle to extricate itself from anytime soon.”

The improving Pak-Russian relations

With respect to Mr. Pantucci’s expertise on this subject, both the title of his piece and its conclusion are debatable since they don’t account for three important developments that are missing from his analysis.

These are the fast-moving Russian-Pakistani rapprochement that bolsters Islamabad’s balancing act between Great Powers, February’s agreement to create a Pakistan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan (PAKAFUZ) railway, and the recently established quadrilateral framework between the US and the PAKAFUZ countries focusing on regional connectivity.

All of these are extremely relevant to the subject that Mr. Pantucci wrote about. Their inclusion into the discussion could arguably lead to a different conclusion than the one that he reached.

The comprehensive improvement of Russian-Pakistani relations, especially following Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s trip to Islamabad in early April which was his first such visit in 9 years, confirms that the South Asian state is actively balancing between Great Powers in order to reduce perceived disproportionate dependence on any single one such as China or the US.

Read more: Lavrov’s trip: a major event for India and Pakistan

The two countries cooperate closely on the political and security situation in Afghanistan. They also recently agreed to construct the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline. Furthermore, the Russian Foreign Minister pledged to strengthen Pakistan’s anti-terrorist military capabilities. Moscow’s growing role in Pakistan gives Islamabad more leverage for negotiating with Beijing and Washington.

PAKAFUZ: A game-changer for Pakistan

Pertaining to PAKAFUZ, this project can rightly be described as a regional game-changer. Foreign Minister Lavrov’s enthusiastic endorsement of Central Asia-South Asia connectivity during a topical conference in Tashkent earlier this month can be interpreted as tacit support for this initiative.

Russia envisions utilizing PAKAFUZ in order to finally fulfill its centuries-long goal of reaching the Indian Ocean Region. This is supported by China too since PAKAFUZ essentially serves as CPEC’s northern branch (N-CPEC+). June’s virtual Foreign Minister’s meeting between the top Afghan, Chinese, and Pakistani diplomats also saw Kabul agree to rely more on CPEC’s terminal port of Gwadar, which implies a coordinated trilateral focus on PAKAFUZ to bring this about.

The reason why PAKAFUZ is such a game-changer is that even the US is interested in it despite this project de facto being part of its Chinese rival’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). The “New Quad’s” regional connectivity focus very strongly implies that the US wants to utilize PAKAFUZ for the purpose of expanding its economic influence into post-withdrawal Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics, the latter of which could improve their balancing capabilities vis-a-vis China and Russia with time.

Read more: Biden wants no conflict with China and Russia, seeks diplomacy instead

This is similar to how Pakistan uses its newfound relations with Russia to bolster its own balancing act between China and the US. Importantly, the US’ emerging geo-economic policy doesn’t require excellent political ties with all parties like Pakistan to succeed.

Pakistan in a strong position?

With these developments in mind, none of which were addressed in Mr. Pantucci’s piece, it can be argued that the title of his article and its conclusion aren’t consistent with the facts.

Pakistan is actively balancing between China, Russia, and the US to differing extents, which challenges his claim that “China is a habit that Pakistan cannot break”.

The observation that rivals Russia and the US are equally interested in PAKAFUZ and improving their relations with Pakistan partially for the purpose of capitalizing off of this project contradicts his conclusion that. “Islamabad has backed itself into a complicated position that it will struggle to extricate itself from anytime soon.”

On the contrary, Pakistan is in a very promising position due to its new multi-alignment policy.

Resist or Perish

 July 25, 2021 

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Where are the crowds? They’re out in force across Europe.

Where most needed en masse in the US, they’re small-scale in too few places. More on this below. 

Never before in the course of human events has state-sponsored — media supported — Big Lies and mass deception done more harm to more people in short order than since flu was deceptively renamed covid last year with diabolical aims in mind.

Health-destroying flu/covid jabs are all about pursuing tyrannical social control and depopulation on an unparalleled scale.

In response to what’s going on, public rage in France, Britain, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and elsewhere in Europe boiled over.

Tens of thousands took to the streets against health and freedom-destroying flu/covid mandates, including passports without which access to employment, education, and other public places is denied.

In London’s Trafalgar Square on Saturday, “Freedom Rally” protesters denounced forced flu/covid tests, jabs and other draconian “crimes against humanity.”

Former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn joined them.

Activist nurse Kate Shemirani called on UK healthcare professionals “to get off (the draconian flu/covid mandates) bus and stand with…the people.”

In response to a petition that called for “outlaw(ing) discrimination against those who do not get a” flu/covid jab — with over 320,000 signatories — dozens of Labor, Lib Dem, Green and Tory MPs expressed opposition to Boris Johnson regime’s mandates.

Tens of thousands turned out across France on Saturday against Macron regime health passes, mandated flu/covid jabs for healthcare workers and others, as well as related draconian policies.

In Paris, police attacked crowds with tear gas and water cannons.

One activist tweeted: “Unreal numbers on the streets of Paris.”

Images showed large-scale numbers massed shoulder-to-shoulder, including on the Champs-Elysees, blocking traffic.

Days earlier in Greece, tens of thousands turned out in Athens and elsewhere nationwide against mandated proof of jabs for access to public places — along with plans to jab children without parental consent.

Thousands massed outside Greece’s parliament. Large banners said “no to (flu/covid jab) poison.”

Crowds chanted: “Hands off our kids.”

A draconian mandate said the following:

“Everyone must have (a) certificate to prove their status to gain access to venues.” 

“The plan also allows for ‘mixed’ venues which also grant access to the (unjabbed) — but only if they have a negative PCR test” — that when positive is nearly always false because of how administered. 

“The measures can apply to either indoor areas or open spaces that are likely to be crowded.”

According to the Greek Reporter, authorities are using the (invented) pandemic to ban public dissent by “crush(ing) peaceful demonstrations.”

In the US, scattered protests took place against jabbing healthcare workers, children and students for access to higher education campuses and classes.

In America, laws prohibit serving alcohol to and prescribing medications for children without parental consent.

Laws and guidelines in place to protect the health and well-being of children were virtually rescinded for all things flu/covid.

The same goes for foregoing proper clinical trials for flu/covid mRNA drugs and vaccines before allowing their use.

Information about them, and alternative protocols known to be safe and effective, was suppressed.

Last week, hundreds massed in front of the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital against mandated flu/covid jabs for staff, contractors and others.

Protesters held signs saying:

“No jab = no job”

“My body, my choice.” 

“Let me call my own shots”

“From heroes to zeros”

One protester said “(w)e were essential last year. Now we’re villains” if not jabbed.

Another said “(w)e are all out here because we do not believe (flu/covid jabs) should be mandated.”

Michigan’s Henry Ford Health System mandates toxic flu/covid jabs for its 33,000 staff, students, volunteers, contractors, and remote workers by September 10.

Similar policies are in place elsewhere in US cities.

If not challenged and stopped — by whatever it takes, by millions of Americans getting involved — they’re coming to neighborhoods near you and your own in the coming weeks and months.

What remains of mostly eroded freedoms are on the chopping block for elimination altogether.

Disruptive activism changed the course of things in the US before.

They’ve done it through strikes, boycotts and other mass public actions.

Historian Howard Zinn explained that in 17th and 18th century America, there were 18 uprisings against UK colonial rule, six rebellions by Black slaves and dozens of riots.

Power yields nothing without large-scale grassroots demands with teeth.

Never before in US history have they they needed more than more than now.

The alternative is mass extermination, draconian social control, and serfdom for survivors.

If that’s not worth putting our bodies on the line against, what is?

If not now, it may be too late to matter later on.

FULL SHOW: China, US tensions soar, Washington does damage control

As tensions soar between the US and China, Washington seems to be doing damage control while also maintaining its offensive against Beijing. RT America’s Alex Mihailovich has the story. (14:26)

Another memorial service was held Thursday, for assassinated Haitian president Jovenel Moise, as more details continue to emerge about the alleged gunmen involved in the assassination-and their training at a US military school. RT America’s John Huddy has the latest. (1:05)

Then, Former UK MP George Galloway weighs in. (5:02)

Locked up for reporting the truth. That’s the fate that could be awaiting journalists—if a proposed law in the UK gets passed. Reporters and their sources could be treated like spies, and publishing government secrets would carry a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. RT’s Murad Gazdiev has the details. (10:12)

At least 33 people killed and another 250K evacuated from their homes after massive floods in central China, that are what said to be ‘the heaviest rains in a millennium.’ Freelance journalist Wang Mengjie has the story from the ground. (18:33)

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Russian Return to the Middle East

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21 Jul 21 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

Alexander Dugin

Today it is common wisdom to claim that Russia is returning to the Middle East. Some regard it with hate, the others with suspicion, the third with hope.

But before any evaluation according to interests and positions of different players and observers, we need first to clarify how Russia returns? What represents contemporary Russia on the new map of balance of world powers – especially regarding the Middle East?

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In the last 50 years, Russia has thrice changed radically its geopolitical and ideological status. During the Soviet period in the context of a bipolar world, Russia was undoubtfully a geopolitical superpower, the stronghold of Land Power, and the center of universal communist ideology, seeking to gain the mortal fight with the capitalist system, for the global control on the human societies on a planetary scale. The opposite camp – NATO States – represented geopolitically Sea Power and liberal ideology. Geopolitics and ideology, interests and values were densely intertwined forming two totalities – two blocks, two projects for humanity claiming to evict sooner or later the opponent. 

During this period the Soviet Union effectively was present in the Middle East – both as the power geopolitically opposing the capitalist West in most of regional conflicts, but at the same time supporting movements and parties that had in their programs and doctrines something that resonated roughly with the Left – secularism, progressivism, anti-capitalism, and anti-colonialism. The concrete politic of USSR in the region with a mostly religious population varied from the direct support of communist and socialists parties (not too influential and powerful) to pragmatic alliances with nationalist and anticolonial movement when they were not too religious.

So the function of the USSR in the Middle East was based on this two side scheme: geopolitical interests of USSR as great continental power (realist approach) combined with orientation to reach the goal of promoting communist World Revolution (idealist approach). We should consider this paradigm carefully because it shows two distinct cornerstones in the Soviet strategy. They were merged and intertwined in the whole complex but they were nevertheless different by nature and structure.

For example, this paradigm explains why USSR avoided dealing with anti-Western and anti-capitalist movements in the Middle East that were deeply affected by Islam and has religious values at their core. Salafism, Ikhwans, or Shiits were regarded by Soviets by mistrust. For the same reason, USSR itself provoked the disbelief inside these currents.

The Western pole had during the bipolar period a symmetric structure. The pure geopolitical interests (Sea Power) with its inherent scenarios repeating more or less literally force lines of old British imperialism were coupled with liberal ideology, always choosing in regional issues, the opposite side to socialist, leftists or anticolonial forces presumably naturally supported by Soviets.

The crucial moment comes with the collapse of the Soviet Union. That was the fall of the geopolitics of Land Power. The zone of influence of the core Heartland of Eurasia has shrunk radically on three circles. 

·       The large domain of influence including Latin America, Africa, and South Asia

·       The Warsaw Treaty Organization

·       The Soviet Union itself split into 15 parts.

In the realm of ideology, the change was yet more profound because Moscow has totally abandoned Marxism and embraced liberal capitalist ideology.

It was the end of bipolarism – in geopolitics and ideology. Russia has refused to continue to represent the second pole as an alternative, and accepted with Eltsine the role of periphery of the Same.

We need to remember that collapse of USSR as an ideological system was not accompanied by the symmetric abandoning by the USA and Europe of their liberal-capitalist ideology. The end of the cold war happened by the voluntary self-annihilation of only one of the players – the Soviet East has rejected its ideology but the capitalist West did not. That’s how liberal globalism has shaped its form. The globalization in the unipolar world was necessary to the expansion of liberal ideology, accepted by all as some universal norm – hence human rights, parliamentarian democracy, civil society, free market, and other purely ideological dogmas have become necessary global standards, ideological standards secured and promoted by the globalization itself.

There was a unipolar moment (as Ch. Krauthammer called it) that started in 1991. 

In this period Russia has completely withdrawn from the Middle East. It was entirely engaged in inner problems balancing in the 90th on the edge of further collapse of Russia itself. But by pure inertia, some connections established during bipolarity were somehow conserved, as well as the image of Russia as a geopolitical alternative to the West; this image was still living in the societies of the Middle East. The unipolarity left the Arabic population one to one with the Atlanticist liberal West, which was finally free to affirm itself as a unique global player and the highest instance of the decision making. That is unipolarity and it affected the Middle East during the last 30 years culminating in a chain of color revolutions sponsored by the West in order to drown democracy, human rights, and liberalism in “retarded societies”.

The final purge of secular nationalist and somehow socialist regimes (as Baath parties in all its versions – in Iraq, Libya and Syria) has become inevitable – in the unipolar paradigm, there was no global symmetric power that would be capable to contend such processes and support anti-Western political systems and leaders.  

Talking about the second pole – USSR from now on was the hole.

During the last 20 years of Putin’s rule in Russia, the country has restored partly its power. In the clear contrast to Eltsine’s contemporary first term in office, Russia didn’t follow unconditionally any order of the West and led its own sovereign politics. But this time, Russia restores its force only as great geopolitical power – as Land Power, hence the concept of Eurasia, the Eurasianism in general.

But in the field of ideology in Russia, there is a kind of vacuum. The gap left by rejected communism is filled with pragmatic and syncretic conservatism with no hard line. That makes Putin’s Russia much more flexible. Russia represents today’s only geopolitical entity – more and more clearly opposed to the West (Sea Power) but without any clearly defined ideology. 

At the same time, modern Russia cannot any more pretend to be the second pole in the bipolar structure. To play this role Russia is too weak compared with the aggregated potential of the USA and NATO countries. But there is new China whose economic growth has made it comparable with the American economy and threats to overcome it. 

Hence Russia reaffirms itself not as the second pole in the new bipolar system, but as one of the few poles (more than 2!) in the context of multipolarity. Today Russia (militarily and on the level of geography and natural resources) and China (economically) already are two poles of something like a tripolar system. But India, the Islamic world, Latin America, and Africa can one day form other self-sufficient poles. So, the Russian geopolitics of the Great State evolves now in the totally new context of multipolarity. As usual, Russia is still the Land Power opposing Sea Power, but China is also the Land Power having exactly the same global opponent – the liberal West.

So, Russia returns to the Middle East in totally new conditions and with different functions. It is not a second pole opposing the West, but one of the few poles struggling against unipolarity in favor of multipolarity.

By the way, I explained these changes in my book “The Theory of Multipolar World” which was recently published in the USA by Arktos Publishers. 

Final remark: The Western pole today, as before, is keeping its ideological content intact. More than that – during unipolar moment – when it yet looked like as something sustainable – liberal ideology seemed so powerful and indisputable, that globalists themselves – having no more formal ideological enemies – started to purge the liberal ideology itself, trying to make it yet more liberal. Hence, the disproportional volume of the gender problem raised in the last two decades. (I dedicated my book “Fourth Political Theory” to the discussion of this argument)

So now, I suggest the Middle East readers to compare the function of two global players in the contemporary regional balance of powers. The return of Russia in the Middle East is the coming of Land Power trying to resist the pressure of unipolar West, but this time without any ideological replacement of one secular materialist ideology by the other, of one form of capitalist totalitarianism with the other – communist. Modern Russia has nothing to impose on Middle East peoples on the ideological level. It is enough to regard Russia as an ally and to resist the pressure of the unipolar globalist West. No matter what is the reason for the rejection of the West by the Muslim population – religious, economic, national, or others. Russia is essentially in the Middle East to secure multipolarity not insisting on what should come in exchange for liberalism. This realism and this flexibility open totally new historical opportunities to Russian-Arab friendship.

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

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Cleric politician calls on Raisi to follow long-term strategic ties with neighbors

24 July 2021 

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Cleric politician calls on Raisi to follow long-term strategic ties with neighbors. A member of the Expediency Council has called on the incoming administration of Ebrahim Raisi to establish long-term strategic ties with neighbors and countries which are not influenced by the United States’ anti-Iran position.

TEHRAN (Iran News) – Cleric politician calls on Raisi to follow long-term strategic ties with neighbors. A member of the Expediency Council has called on the incoming administration of Ebrahim Raisi to establish long-term strategic ties with neighbors and countries which are not influenced by the United States’ anti-Iran position.

Gholamreza Mesbahi Moqaddam also said “the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is set by the Supreme National Security Council” and the president is chairman of the council and a change in government will not lead to a shift in foreign policy.

“Of Course,” the cleric politician remarked, “approaches are different. Certain approaches are resistant in the face of global arrogance and some are flexible.”

On his prediction of the foreign policy of the Raisi government, he told IRNA,  “My prediction of the approach of the government of Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi is resistance against global arrogance.”

Noting that a “balanced approach” and not a cut of ties with countries is favorable, Mesbahi Moqaddam said such an approach has presented Iran to the world as an independent country which acts based on its interests.

The Expediency Council member also said his prediction is that the United States will not lift all sanctions against Iran even if the 2015 nuclear deal is revived.

The Americans will not lift all sanctions because they consider sanctions as a “pressure tool” to follow their policies against Iran, noted the cleric politician.

Iran and the remaining parties to the nuclear deal, officially called the JCPOA, have been holding sixth round of talks. The last round ended on June 20.

The U.S. is participating in the talks indirectly. Iran has said it will not talk directly to the U.S. until Washington rejoins the agreement and recommit itself to the legally binding agreement.

Iran’s chief negotiator Abbas Araqchi has said the next Iranian government will continue the talks.

“It is clear that the Vienna talks must wait for a new administration in Iran. This is a requirement of any democracy,” Araqchi tweeted on July 17.

He added, “We are in a period of transition and a democratic transfer of power is taking place in Tehran.”

Raisi will be sworn in as president on August 5.

There is still no official word about Raisi’s choice for the post of foreign minister and his foreign policy team.

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Does Resisting “Israel” and the US Benefit People of the Region?

22 Jul 21

Source: Al Mayadeen

Nassim Mansour

To address this issue, we need to breakdown a few key concepts to understand the interests of both the people and the governments in the region.

Does Resisting
Does Resisting “Israel” and the US Benefit People of the Region?

The answer to this question is the core focus in the ongoing media war between the Resistance Axis and the American-led Axis in the region.  All the countries that are within the Resistance Axis are facing dire economic difficulties, social divisions, and security issues (Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Yemen). At a first glance, without digging too deep, one might ask that indeed, why not just make peace with “Israel” and the US and end all the chaos? Wouldn’t making peace end all the sanctions and economic pressure and make everyone’s lives easier? These are valid questions that young people in particular ask. To address this issue, we need to breakdown a few key concepts to understand the interests of both the people and the governments in the region.

Relationship between the West and the region

Let’s go back 100 years ago. The Ottoman empire that ruled the region for around 500 years was crumbling. This took place during the second industrial revolution in Europe. Cars, airplanes, ships, electricity, gas, oil, and communication systems were being created. The end of the Ottoman Empire led to the split of the region between France and Britain with the Sykes-Picot agreement. These events prevented various countries in the Middle East from engaging in the industrial revolution as their own independent nations. The owners of the technologies and the infrastructure builders were mainly France and Britain. They viewed the region as an investment for their own projects and a market for their industries. They built most of the region and became the main providers of various technological products. After World War 2, the Israeli entity was created by Western powers to be used as a foothold to project their power and protect their interests. Fast forward to the cold war, the leadership of the region was transferred from Britain and France to the United States of America. This was ratified in the 50’s with the creation of ARAMCO (Arabian-American Oil Company) and the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with Saudi Arabia, the Consortium Agreement of 1954 with Iran, which gives American, British, and French oil companies 40% ownership of the nationalized oil industry after overthrowing Mohammed Mosaddegh that nationalized the Britain-owned Anglo-Persian Oil Company, and other similar type of deals across the region. The US became the main weapons provider for the armies in the region, including “Israel”. This was in exchange for natural resources and compliance with American national security interests. Because of “Israel’s” usurper nature and its history of instigating friction, the USA had to make sure that “Israel” always had the upper hand over the rest of its regional allies. As a result, “Israel” became the policeman of the region. As Joe Biden has said before; “If there were not an Israel, we would have to invent one to make sure our interests were preserved”. By that time, the first world was engaging in the third industrial revolution (electronics, telecommunications, and computers).

Our region never took part in these industrial revolutions, as it relied on importing products and technologies from abroad rather than producing them. The capital required to import products and technologies coming from the sale of natural resources. With all this in mind, we can conclude that the relationship between the Middle East and the West is a relationship of “the buyer and supplier”. The West supplies technology, products, and armament while the region provides natural resources in return. This relationship exposes the region to extortion as it is unable to survive without foreign technology and products because it doesn’t have the industries or the knowledge. The Middle East region completely depends on the Americans and their allies to function. 

The Iranian revolution and independence

A major change came into the region with the Iranian Islamic revolution coming into play. Iran became the first country to break free from the “buyer and supplier” relationship by engaging in a local industrial revolution across many sectors, with the military sector being the most important one. Having an indigenous military industry is the key to true independence. It allows countries to truly rely on themselves for their security instead of relying on foreign powers that always impose conditions which limits sovereignty. 

Iran today creates its own vehicles, weapons, medicine, robots, satellites, food, energy, along with various other resources. Iran reverse-engineered what it could, sent students abroad to study technology and return to Iran with full knowledge and capability. The entire nation is engaged in being self-built. Iran is in the process of creating its own civilization, just like the US, China, and Russia are also doing. Any nation that breaks free from its client-status and elevates itself to self-sufficiency is seen as a threat to the United States’ dominance over markets across the globe. It is the reason why the US views China and Russia as enemies. 

The regional resistance

Regional resistance groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces were created by locals in response to the foreign Israeli and American invaders. Naturally, the only country that could supply them with weapons is Iran since its weapons are locally produced and not under the jurisdiction of the US like the rest of region. They also have the same interests as Iran, which is to break free from the American-Israeli hegemony. The initial stage in these resistance groups is always “The Armed-Struggle” which is necessary to their survival. 

The next stage of the resistance is working towards a revolutionary approach to gain independence from the foreign imposed buyer and supplier system. This quest for independence directly clashes with American security and economic interests in the region and the world. Given the buyer and supplier relationship between the US and the countries in the region, it automatically puts those countries in a collision course with Iran and any group or country that is seeking independence. Syria was one of the very few Arab countries that had local civilian industries – and they got intentionally dismantled by the NATO-backed mercenaries during the war; especially in Aleppo where thousands of factories were lost. 

The interest of the people

With the previous concepts in mind, we understand that the ultimate interest of any nation should be working towards as much self-sufficiency as its capability (utilizing the available resources it has, and working with other nations that are seeking the same goals). This is how nations contribute to humanity, share their cultures, and limit foreign powers from deciding their fate. 

Seeking these goals however comes at a great cost: the people must be ready to face sanctions and possible military actions. To limit the effect of sanctions, all the nations of the region that decide to take this path would have to fully co-operate with each other; to share resources and support each other. The region has enough natural and human resources to become independent from foreigners. A lot of sacrifices have to be made, but this is the key to long-term development, security, and prosperity. 

Role of the media

The media plays a large part in influencing and educating people about their own interests, which people are often unaware of. To achieve this revolution for independence, the people need to understand why they’re resisting “Israel” and the United States. Apart from the humanitarian and religious reasons, the ultimate goal of this resistance is to start the process of civilization and nation-building. The goal of the American hegemony is to prevent the rise of nations that will become future competitors in the international arena. There is still a big lack of awareness on such important subjects because the region is engulfed in religious, tribal, and ethnic wars. 

A lot of work needs to be done to raise awareness and to unite people towards these goals, which are way beyond religious, humanitarian, and justice considerations. These are goals that can unite the multi ethnic and multi religious region. It is definitely in the best interest of the people of the region to resist “Israel” and the United States. Although the revolution will take a long time, and although it comes at a great cost; if the revolution is achieved, the final outcome will be the rise of the Middle East and North Africa as global competitors.   The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

“Taliban” Spokesman to Al Mayadeen: Kabul, Washington Accepted Agreement on New Islamic Regime

25 Jul 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Al Mayadeen

After the US raids on Afghanistan and Biden’s call with the Afghan president, the Taliban spokesman confirms to Al-Mayadeen that, “The occupation stands with the Kabul administration, which it brought, and the raids support it.”

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“Taliban” Spokesman Mohammed Naeem

“Washington and Kabul have accepted an agreement that provides for a new Islamic order,” Taliban Spokesman Mohammad Naeem said on Saturday evening.

In an interview with Al-Mayadeen, Naeem stressed that “The Afghan regime must be Islamic, but how will be left to dialogue.”

Naeem addressed the US raids, and considered them “an explicit violation of the agreements concluded with us,” stressing that they “do not change anything and represent support for the Kabul administration.”

He considered that “The occupation stands with the Kabul administration, which it brought, and the raids support it,” noting that “from the beginning, we have seen that the best solution comes through dialogue.”

The Taliban spokesman asked, “We agreed on a plan in Doha, so how can we proceed if there is no commitment to it?

He noted that “there is no escalation in operations and areas that voluntarily joined the Taliban.” “We have relations and contacts with countries in the world and the region, especially neighboring countries,” he stressed.

Earlier in the day, the Taliban said that the government of Ashraf Ghani bears responsibility for any military transformation in Afghanistan.

The movement considered that the US raids on “the sites of Helmand and Kandahar are a violation of the agreement with Washington,” saying that “It will not pass without consequences.”

بكين وصلت إلى دمشق.. ماذا بعد؟

22 تموز2021

المصدر: الميادين

أحمد الدرزي

حملت زيارة الصين إلى دمشق 3 أبعاد، فقد تم فيها دعوة دمشق إلى الدخول في مشروعها الكبير وبدأ العمل فيها على البنى التحتية الضرورية.

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كان واضحاً الحرص الصيني على الوصول إلى دمشق في تاريخ القسم الرئاسي نفسه، للدلالة على الدعم الكبير لها.

تعاطى السوريون مع قدوم وزير الخارجية الصيني في يوم القسم الرئاسي إلى سوريا، والذي حمل دلالات رمزية عميقة، بمشاعر متباينة بين التفاؤل والتشاؤم، وخصوصاً أن الوضع الاقتصادي ضاغط بشدة على القاعدة الأكبر منهم، التي تجاوزت 90% من مجموع السكان، فأي مسارات ستسلكها العلاقات بين البلدين؟ وما انعكاسها على الوضع السوري الداخلي والخارجي؟

لا يعدّ اهتمام قادة بكين بسوريا وليد اللحظة، إذ إنه يمتد إلى نهايات الألفية الثانية، مع صعود الصين التي بدأت نهضتها الحقيقية في العام 1978، بمجيء دينغ هسياو بينغ. وكان من المفترض أن تحصل قفزة كبيرة في العلاقة بين البلدين بعد زيارة الرئيس الأسد لبكين في العام 2004، ولكن المشاريع الاقتصادية التي كان من المفترض أن تقوم بها الأخيرة في مدينة عدرا العمالية تم إيقافها لأسباب غير معروفة.

مع مجيء تشي جينبينغ في العام 2013 إلى موقع الرئاسة في الصين، تم الإعلان عن مبادرة “الحزام والطريق” التي قُدّرت كلفتها بحدود 4 تريليون دولار. وكان اللافت للنظر هو استبعاد سوريا والعراق من المشروع، واعتبار شمال غرب إيران وجنوب شرق تركيا الممرَّ البري نحو أوروبا، واعتبار مرفأ حيفا في فلسطين المحتلة المرفأ المعتمد في شرق البحر الأبيض المتوسط. 

أخذت السياسات الصينية تُظهر نفسها على المستوى السياسي بعد إدراك قادة بكين أن القدرات الاقتصادية الهائلة التي أتاحت لهم بناء قدرة عسكرية دفاعية، تتيح لهم ترجمة ذلك، لتحويل الصين إلى قطب دولي موازٍ للقطب الأميركي الأوحد، ما دفع الرئيس جينبينغ إلى الإعلان عن اعتباره أن العالم أصبح متعدد الأقطاب، ولا عودة عن ذلك، وذلك من منبر الأمم المتحدة في العام 2015.

ارتفعت نبرة التحدي الصيني بعد مجيء الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة بقيادة بايدن، واعتبارها كلاً من الصين وروسيا تهديدين استراتيجيين للولايات المتحدة، ما دفع الرئيس الصيني إلى الإعلان عن أنَّ “زمن التنمّر على الصين ولَّى بلا رجعة”.

كما أحدث الانسحاب الأميركي غير المشروط من أفغانستان، وتركه الفوضى والاضطرابات من خلال سيطرة حركة “طالبان”، قلقاً لدى دول الجوار، ما دفع 40 دولة إلى عقد مؤتمر آسيا الوسطى والجنوبية في مدينة طشقند في أوزباكستان بتاريخ 15 تموز/يوليو الماضي، بعنوان لافت للنظر هو “الترابط الإقليمي، تحديات وفرص”.

وكان من الواضح من خلال طبيعة تحركات وزير الخارجية الصيني أنَّ القرار اتخذ بضرورة تأمين منطقة غرب آسيا، التي تشمل المنطقة الممتدة من أفغانستان إلى شرق البحر الأبيض المتوسط، وهو ما يقتضي بطبيعة الحال إخراج سوريا من منطقة الصراعات الدولية والإقليمية، فالتقى القوى الدولية والإقليمية المؤثرة في الملف السوري، ممثّلة بكل من وزيري خارجية روسيا سيرغي لافروف والمملكة العربية السعودية سعود الفرحان في اليوم الأول. وفِي اليوم الثاني، التقى وزير خارجية تركيا مولود جاويش أوغلو قبل التوجّه إلى دمشق.

كان واضحاً الحرص الصيني على الوصول إلى دمشق في تاريخ القسم الرئاسي، للدلالة على الدعم الكبير لها، وعلى أنّ بقاء الرئيس الأسد في سدة الحكم لم يكن سوى مظهر لنتائج الصراع الدولي والإقليمي وتحولاته الكبرى، وتأكيداً على دور الصين في المرحلة القادمة في تأمين الجغرافيا السورية كمنطقة آمنة، بالتعاون والتنسيق بشكل أساسي مع موسكو وطهران، وإشراك المملكة العربية السعودية التي تعتبر قاطرة دول الخليج، إضافة إلى مصر التي زارها في اليوم التالي، والتقى فيها الرئيس المصري عبد الفتاح السيسي، ومعالجة الدور التركي السلبي الذي لم يفِ بتعهداته لبكين بتسليم القيادات الإرهابية التركستانية، رغم الدعم الاقتصادي الصيني لها.

وكان لاتصال وزير الخارجية وانغ يي بوزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف في اليوم الذي زار فيه دمشق دلالة كبيرة، وخصوصاً أن بيان وزارة الخارجية الصيني أعلن استعداد الصين للعمل مع إيران على مواجهة السياسات الأحادية والهيمنة، وهو ما يعني بالضرورة التوافق مع استراتيجيتها بإخراج الأميركيين من غرب آسيا بأكملها، وخصوصاً سوريا والعراق، ما يمهّد الطريق لدخول مبادرة “الحزام والطريق” إلى كل من العراق وسوريا ولبنان.

حملت الزيارة الصينية إلى دمشق 3 أبعاد، فقد تم فيها دعوة دمشق إلى الدخول في مشروعها الكبير، أسوةً ببقية الدول التي وافقت عليه، وبدأ العمل فيها على البنى التحتية الضرورية. 

وللتأكيد على ذلك، وقعت على اتفاقيات الاستثمار في كل مدينة عدرا الصناعية واللاذقية، وعلى إنشاء خط بري من الشمال إلى الجنوب، يربط دول الخليج العربي وشمال أفريقيا بتركيا وأوروبا، وبناء خط لسكك الحديد يربط مرفأ طرطوس بالعراق وإيران وباكستان والصين، إضافةً إلى الاستثمار في قطاع النفط والغاز، والجانب الآخر يتعلق بالمساعدات التي يمكن أن تقدمها إلى سوريا.

وقد توج ذلك بمبادرة للحل السياسي وفق قرارات الأمم المتحدة، مع الدعم الكبير لتصورات دمشق في أكثر القضايا، وخصوصاً ما يتعلق بالإدارة الذاتية والاحتلال التركي، عندما لمّحت المبادرة إلى “رفض جميع المخططات المحفزة على الانقسامات العرقية تحت ذريعة مكافحة الإرهاب”، إضافةً إلى شرط أساسي: “ينبغي دعم حل سياسي شامل وتصالحي للقضية السورية” بقيادة السوريين.

من الواضح أنَّ المساهمة الصينية في مساعدة سوريا اقتصادياً وسياسياً مرتبطة بتحقيق متطلبات أساسية، تتعلق بتغيير بيئة العمل الاقتصادي وتغيير التشريعات الاقتصادية، وهو ما تعهّد به الرئيس الأسد في خطاب القسم، عندما أكّد أن العمل في المرحلة القادمة سيكون على مكافحة الفساد وإصدار تشريعات اقتصادية جديدة.

أما الحلّ السياسي، فقد يذهب نحو مسار تشكيل منصّة للمعارضة السورية الداخلية بعنوان منصة دمشق، تكون مهمّتها الأساس إيجاد أرضية للحوار والتفاوض بين الطرفين في دمشق، وليس جنيف، وإنهاء دور المنصات التي تشكل امتدادات دولية وإقليمية.

بعد أن اختارت دمشق قرار التوجّه شرقاً، تطلَّب منها ذلك الشروع في تحقيق المتطلبات الثلاثة الآنفة الذكر، وهو ما ينتظره أغلب السوريين الذين طحنتهم الحرب، والذين يبحثون عن مخرج لاسترداد حياتهم السابقة واستعادة المناطق المحتلة في الشمال السوري وجنوبه، والبدء بإعادة إعمار ما تهدم على الصعيد الاجتماعي والاقتصادي، والّذي تعجز عنه الدولة السورية وحدها.  

PMU Faction Says US Responsible for Massacre of Iraqis in Daesh Bombing

July 21, 2021 

PMU Faction Says US Responsible for Massacre of Iraqis in Daesh Bombing

By Staff, Agencies

The leader of Iraq’s Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq resistance movement, which operates under the command of Popular Mobilization Units [PMU], has held the United States responsible for the loss of dozens of lives in a deadly Baghdad bombing claimed by the Daesh terror group, which he described as a creation of the US, “Israel” and their Gulf allies.

Qais al-Khazali said in a statement on Tuesday that political motives lie behind the bloody carnage in the bustling Woheilat market of Baghdad’s eastern neighborhood of Sadr City a day earlier.

He said the terror attack tooisraek place on the eve of Eid al-Adha [Feast of Sacrifice] and as Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi prepares to visit Washington within the next few days.

“The United States is seeking justification for its overstay in Iraq through the presence of Daesh [Arabic acronym for ‘ISIS’ / ‘ISIL’] terrorists. Everyone knows that Daesh was created by the US, the “Israeli” regime and certain Gulf Arab states, and their intelligence services are in control of the group,” Khazali said.

The Iraqi PMU leader said the United States is behind the upsurge in Wahhabi Daesh terror attacks, adding that Washington is responsible for the massacre of Iraqi people and its crimes will be responded appropriately.

He added that some individuals are complicit in aiding and abetting terrorist elements to carry out the market bombing.

A bomber killed at least 35 people and wounded dozens in a crowded market in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad on Monday night. More than 60 people were wounded.

The Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hospital sources said the death toll could rise as some of the wounded are in critical condition.

The Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq resistance movement, in a separate statement, strongly criticized the performance of Kadhimi’s government and Iraqi security forces in response to the market blast in Baghdad.

“We call on the government to take immediate actions to stop criminal acts,” the group said.

The movement stressed that Kadhimi, who is also the commander-in-chief of Iraqi Armed Forces, in addition to security forces are primarily responsible for the occurrence of such bombings.

Asking for an inquiry into the failure to prevent the tragedy, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq said intelligence measures and pre-emptive operations should be taken to destroy terrorist lairs.

The anti-terror movement also stressed that the Popular Mobilization Units, better known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Shaabi, should be given a greater role to guarantee security and that their experiences should be used.

Backed by the PMU, Iraq put an end to Daesh’s territorial rule on its soil in late 2017, more than three years after the terror group emerged in the Arab country and captured swaths of land in its western and northern parts.

However, Daesh sleeper cells have continued to launch terror attacks against security forces and civilians from time to time.

The latest bombing, one of the largest since the victory against Daesh, signaled a rise in the strength of the remaining terrorists in Iraq, which are widely believed to have the support of the United States.

Pegasus Project: Why I was targeted by Israeli spyware

The building housing the Israeli NSO Group is pictured in 2016 in Herzliya (AFP)
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Madawi al-RasheedMadawi al-Rasheed is visiting professor at the Middle East Institute of the London School of Economics. You can follow her on Twitter: @MadawiDr

20 July 2021 09:34 UTC

Madawi al-Rasheed

My work to expose the crimes of the Saudi regime led to a hacking attempt on my phone. Today, I am overwhelmed by feelings of vulnerability and intrusion

The Orwellian prediction finally came true. I knew it was only a matter of time before the Saudi regime tried to hack my phone, using Pegasus software manufactured by the private Israeli security company NSO Group.

This development highlights the consolidation of a new axis of evil: IsraelSaudi Arabia and the UAE have become a chorus of malicious powers aiming to stifle activism and the quest for democracy in the region. Israel provides knowledge; the others provide funds.

I have spent more than half my life writing, researching and teaching. You wouldn’t expect me to be hacked. But such professional activities are a crime in Saudi Arabia

The privatisation of the Israeli security apparatus, and the mushrooming of private companies founded by ex-defence and ex-Mossad agents, is a threat not only to Palestinians in Israel, Gaza and the occupied West Bank, but also to all Gulf citizens, with Israeli spyware sold to dictatorships across the Arab world.

In return, Israel gains access to the inner intelligence circles and deep states of the Gulf – enabling it to hold them hostage for a long time to come. Israel supports Gulf autocracies, thinking that this guarantees its own security forever. But Israel is wrong.

Normalisation with Israel is not only immoral because of the Palestinian plight; it is also an existential threat to all Gulf nationals seeking political reform in their own countries. The so-called “only democracy in the Middle East” has so entrenched its apartheid system that no propaganda can salvage it, and strong public objections to Arab regimes’ normalisation with Israel will only intensify in the months and years ahead.

Saga of surveillance

The UAE plays a key role in the saga of surveillance by Israeli private companies. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has fallen under the spell of Mohammed bin Zayed, his UAE counterpart. Forget the “tallest buildingbusiest airport and ministries of tolerance and happiness” – which are at the core of UAE propaganda – and remember that bin Zayed is bin Salman’s mentor.

The two are united by their hatred of democracy, political diversity, freedom of speech and human rights. Both are now key to an axis of evil overseen by malicious Israeli technology, whose alleged raison d’etre is to help governments catch criminals and terrorists. Yet, it is being used against peaceful activists.

Pegasus: How it hacks phones and spies for NSO clients

graphic

Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based NGO specialising in defending journalists and human rights activists, obtained more than 50,000 telephone numbers targeted globally by Israeli malware on behalf of NSO clients, mainly governments. They alerted various media outlets, and with the support of Amnesty International, launched the Pegasus Project.Pegasus: Khashoggi contacts among ‘thousands targeted by Israeli spyware

The findings showed that in April 2019, there was an attempt to hack my phone, but it was unsuccessful. While this is a relief, I am overwhelmed by feelings of vulnerability and intrusion.

To obtain evidence from the Pegasus Project, I had to submit the contents of my phone – in which my private and professional life was stored – to their technology team.

I sat in front of a computer screen for three hours, watching my virtual life travel to the Amnesty International lab, where a search for malware was conducted. I received evidence of the failed April hacking attempt the same day.

Controlling the narrative

As a British citizen of Saudi origin, I have spent more than half my life writing, researching and teaching. You wouldn’t expect me to be hacked. But such professional activities are a crime in Saudi Arabia, where the regime is determined to control the narrative about the past, present and future.

My crime is that I punctured this narrative, using academic research skills and access to Saudis whose voices remain muted. All my research has focused on giving a voice to the voiceless, which inevitably involves interviewing Saudis inside and outside the country. My debunking of official Saudi lies bothers the regime, which has spared no opportunity to tarnish my reputation, accusing me of being an agent of western governments, Turkey, Iran, Qatar, and previously Libya and Iraq.

Saudi government agents murdered Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October 2018 (AFP)
Saudi government agents murdered Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October 2018 (AFP)

In the 1990s, the regime targeted me with direct threats of violence – but with the advent of the internet, such threats have become virtual, propagated by regime agents. Hacking my phone is only the latest episode.

In 2014, my Twitter account was hacked in search of sensational scandals, and possibly clandestine plots with other Saudi exiles. The hackers must have been disappointed not to find any of this, but they did expose my private conversation with Sheikh Awad al-Qarni, a key Islamist figure who sent me greetings and asked me not to augment my criticism of the Islamist movement’s silence when prominent Saudi human rights leaders were detained.

Regime spies launched a campaign to discredit Qarni for sending a direct message to an unveiled woman, such as myself. Qarni has been in prison for several years.

Lives in danger

I never had anything to hide, as everything I knew was documented and published in books and articles. I had no secrets, but this was not the point. I cherished my privacy and loathed the Saudi intrusion into my life. I also worried about those who communicate with me from within the country, as their lives could be in danger.

Among the charges against Mohammed al-Otaibi, a human right activist, was storing my books and articles on his computer. He is still in prison. It is my responsibility to protect those who confide in me and want their voices to be heard.

While the April 2019 assault on my device was unsuccessful, I am sure there will be other attempts in the future

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 coincided with greater Saudi surveillance of exiles in Britain, Canada and elsewhere. The shock over the gruesome details of chopping up a peaceful journalist was compounded by fears of hacking. This was the first time exiles had heard of NSO helping the Saudis to hack the phone of a young exile based in Canada, Omar al-Zahrani, who had communicated with Khashoggi about establishing a media platform to debunk Saudi propaganda.

The financial cost of securing my phone was colossal, but it was worth it. While the April 2019 assault on my device was unsuccessful, I am sure there will be other attempts in the future.

Back in 2019, I was involved in discussions with other exiles in three countries about forming a political party, which could explain the attempt to infiltrate my phone at that time. The regime wanted more details about who would sponsor such a project – and who the culprits were. The project materialised on 23 September 2020,  the day the kingdom celebrates its national day, as a small group of activists, including myself, announced the establishment of the Saudi National Assembly (NAAS). Yahya Asiri, the general secretary, was hacked, and his name appears in the Pegasus files. 

Standing against oppression

I moved from academia to political activism because the Saudi regime committed heinous crimes, and the lives of exiles, including my own, were in danger. The Saudi regime targeted me when I was an academic, and again after I became an activist. Such attacks will surely continue in the months and years ahead.

In April 2019, I was also writing a book on state-society  relations. The villain was none other than bin Salman, who has detained hundreds of Saudis and precipitated the flight of scores more.

I was baffled by western media depictions of the prince as a modern reformer, while Saudi prisons were bulging with innocent prisoners of conscience, women were campaigning against discrimination, and a young diaspora was coming together around the globe. My book, The Son King, was definitely a faux pas.

How Israeli spy tech reaches deep into our lives

In 2019, a new virtual Saudi opposition-in-exile was beginning to be formed, standing against oppression and dictatorship. NAAS relies on social media to connect and exchange ideas, making it extremely vulnerable, as the murder of Khashoggi and the hacking of activists’ phones has demonstrated. In the wake of the Pegasus Project revelations, NAAS will surely revert to old methods of mobilisation, meetings and activism.

Thanks to Israeli malware, UAE complicity and Saudi intrusions, exiles will have to search for secure methods to share information and to mobilise. As many have taken refuge in the US, Canada, Britain and across Europe, these states have a responsibility to protect them from Saudi surveillance. Otherwise, there is a real risk the Khashoggi saga could be repeated.

Diplomacy must be activated to stop the axis of evil from spreading more fear, apprehension and possibly murder – and if that doesn’t work, sanctions should be pursued, at the very least in Britain, where two of the founders of NAAS reside.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

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