Crimea: The Geopolitical Jewel Russia Continues to Polish

Crimea: The Geopolitical Jewel Russia Continues to Polish

TOM LUONGO | 20.03.2019 | FEATURED STORY

Crimea: The Geopolitical Jewel Russia Continues to Polish

With all that is happening in the world Crimea has taken a bit of a backseat recently. Yes, the US, EU and Canada just added more sanctions on Russia via the odious Magnitsky legislation but this is inconsequential.

There’s been a flurry of good news coming out of Crimea and the Black Sea recently that bears discussion. Let’s start with the most important. President Vladimir Putin was in Crimea earlier this week to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the peninsula’s reunification with Russia. There he also officially inaugurated two major upgrades to Crimea’s power grid.

Located in Simferopol and Sevastopol, two new power plants will produce 940 megawatts and secure Crimea’s energy needs for now and into the future.

Power has been Crimea’s Achilles’ heel since breaking off from Ukraine in 2014. It received almost 90% of its power from the mainland. In November 2015, the trunk lines into Crimea were sabotaged by Ukrainian nationalist radicals, encouraged by President Petro Poroshenko plunging it into darkness as winter took hold.

Does this sound familiar? A place that defies US edicts geopolitically is first hit with a full trade embargo, sanctions and threatened militarily by proxies before having its electricity shut off?

*Cough* Venezuela *Cough*

And there are reports that the US has game-planned a similar fate for Iran as well. For Crimea it was easy because of the single-point-of-failure, the trunks from the mainland. For Venezuela it was as well, with the Guri dam, which affected nearly 70 percent of the country.

So, Putin timing the fifth anniversary of reunification with the announcement of the plants moving to full operational status was yet another smooth bit of international political maneuvering.

A not-so-subtle poke in the eye of the Gang Who Can’t Sanction Straight in D.C. as well as lame duck Poroshenko. Elections are at the end of the month and this celebration by Russia and Crimea will not sit well with many Ukrainians, especially the diaspora here in the US which is virulently anti-Putin in my experience.

Secure and stable power generation is a hallmark of a first world territory. Without that economic growth and stability are impossible. This is why to first help stabilize the situation in Crimea after the blackout Russia brought in 400 MW of power across the Kerch Strait from Krasnodor.

Tying Crimea to the mainland via the Kerch Strait bridge was a masterstroke by Putin. The initial power lines were simply a necessity. For those that complain he isn’t doing enough to counter US and European aggression need only look at the Kerch Strait bridge.

Not only did the Russians not seek international approval given the nearly universal refusal to recognize Crimea as Russian they built the thing in a time frame that defies description.

Imagine if this had been an EU project. They would still be debating the initial engineering plans and the political effects on some protected minority.

Not only does it open up the Eastern Black Sea to trade via Crimea but it ends the use of the Sea of Azov as a potential staging ground for naval provocations as last fall’s incident proved. Ukraine is cut off from acting aggressively and cannot count on any help from the US and Europe.

Moreover, Crimea is now permanently Russia’s. And every bit of infrastructure Russia builds there ties the two further together and weakens any bonds Crimea had with Ukraine. The resultant growth and modernization will make its way, economically and culturally back into southern Ukraine and erode the hard border over time.

This is far more important than striking out and metaphorically punching Poroshenko in the mouth, that many of Putin’s detractors wish for.

Presidents change, after all. Patience and attrition is how you beat an aggressive, distant enemy like the US

To remind everyone just how insane the Trump White House has become on matters international, no less than Vice President Mike Pence lobbied Germany to provoke another naval incident at the Kerch Strait.

If there was ever an example of how little Trump’s gang of moldy neocons think of Europe it is this bit of news. In effect, Pence was saying, “We can’t start a war with Russia because it would go nuclear, but you can because Russia can’t live without your trade.”

This coming after the US unilaterally pulled out of the INF treaty and is now flying nuclear bombers to eastern Europe. The message is clear. If the EU doesn’t get with this open-ended belligerent program against Russia and China of John Bolton’s they will be the ones paying the price when chaos breaks out.

On the other side there is Putin; building bridges, pipelines, power plants and roads.

He’s making it clear what the future holds not only for Europe but the Middle East, central Asia and India. We will defend Crimea at all costs, develop it not only into a tourist destination but also a major trade hub as well.

You are more than welcome to join us. But, we don’t need you.

These power plants will raise Crimea’s power output well beyond its current needs, allowing first export of power as well as providing the foundation for future growth.

And as if it weren’t coordinated in any way, the Chinese, on the morning of Putin’s speech, announced that Crimea would be an excellent fit for investment projects attached to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

That’s according to the head of the association of Chinese compatriots on the peninsula, Ge Zhili. “Our organization is bolstering cooperation ties, exchanges and friendly contacts with the Crimean society,” he said at an event dedicated to the fifth anniversary of Crimea’s reunification with Russia, which was held in the Russian Embassy in Beijing on Monday.

It is also ready to contribute to the establishment of “reliable partner ties” and the explanation of legal details of business cooperation with Crimea, Ge Zhili said. “The Chinese society hopes for the development of friendly cooperation with Crimea; we are ready to overcome difficulties for fruitful results.”

Again this is a direct challenge to the US who has Crimea under strict sanctions in the West. China is happy now to move forward with integrating Crimea into its plans. It’s just another example of how Russia and China simply ignore Trump’s fulminations and move on.

I can’t wait until I get to write this article all over again, this time about North Korea, now that Bolton has thrown Russian and Chinese assistance in getting North Korea to the negotiating table back in their face by destroying the Hanoi talks.

This announcement is not to be underestimated given that Chinese Premier Xi Jinping is in Rome this week to open up relations with the new Italian government. Five Star Movement’s Leader Luigi Di Maio said he would welcome becoming a part of BRI, much to the consternation of Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as his coalition partner Lega Leader Matteo Salvini.

It’s already well known that Salvini is interested in ending sanctions on Crimea and re-opening trade with Russia. Italy is desperate for new markets and opportunities, currently stifled under the euro itself as well as Germany’s insistence on austerity hollowing out Italy’s economy and its future prospects.

These issues as well as energy security ones are coming to a head this year with Brexit, the European Parliamentary elections in May and the completion of the Nordstream 2 pipeline later this year.

As Putin continues to polish his Black Sea jewel, Europe has to decide if it is going to continue playing the U.S’s games over Ukraine or begin the next phase of its independence. Salvini will lead a Euroskeptic revolt within the European Parliament in May. It may be big enough to finally defy Merkel and end EU sanctions on Russia over Crimea.

At that point the US will also have a choice, burn down the world economy with even more sanctions, tariffs and acts of war or accept the facts on the ground.

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لبنان والأردن وتركيا والتكتل الإقليمي الجديد؟

مارس 20, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– لم تعد ثمّة حاجة لوضع التساؤلات او رسم الشكوك حول وجود قرار إيراني سوري عراقي ببناء تكتل إستراتيجي جديد يستوعب التمايزات في أوضاع الدول الثلاث وتباينات تكوينها السياسي لصالح تكامل قطاعاتها الاقتصادية والخدمية، وتناغم سياساتها الأمنية، وربطها بشبكات نقل متعدّدة من طرق دولية وسكك حديد، وربط شبكاتها الكهربائية، وتشبيك وسائط الاتصالات بينها، وتكامل منتوجاتها الصناعية والزراعية والخدمية مع أسواق بعضها البعض وحاجاتها. وعندما يستند هذا التكتل الجديد إلى عدد سكان يقارب مئتي مليون، وقدرات اقتصادية وموارد طبيعية هائلة، وأيادٍ عاملة متنوّعة الخبرات، وأسواق واسعة وحاجات سياحية واستهلاكية تلبي بعضها البعض، فمن الطبيعي أن تشكل ولادته بالإضافة لما توفره لشعوب هذه الدول وحكوماتها، مصدر خلاص من الكثير من تعقيدات التبادل المالي التي تفرضها العقوبات الأميركية.

– الولادة التدريجية لهذا التكتل الذي بدأ يبصر النور بعد قمّتين واحدة سورية إيرانية وأخرى إيرانية عراقية، وتجسّدت أولى خطواته باجتماع رؤساء أركان جيوش الدول الثلاث، ومقرراتهم بتأمين التواصل الجغرافي الآمن بين بلدانهم من جهة، وتعاون جيوشهم في إنهاء الحرب على الجماعات الإرهابية، خصوصاً في سورية. من جهة مقابلة، سيطرح تحديات عاجلة ومتصاعدة أمام دول الجوار الثلاث الأهم، البعيدة بدرجات مختلفة على الصعيد السياسي عن هذا التكتل الجديد، والمحكومة بلغة المصالح والجوار بحسابات لا مفرّ من إقامتها، تجاه كيفية التعامل مع هذه الولادة. فتركيا التي تقيم تبادلاً تجارياً واسعاً مع إيران وتملك حدوداً مشتركة يتداخل فيها الأمن والسياسة مع هذه الدول، وتتشارك مع الدول الثلاث الهمّ الكردي، ستجد نفسها معنية بالبحث الجدي في شراكة لتوسيع هذا التكتل بصورة تجعلها شريكاً نوعياً لتكبير حجم السوق أمام بضائعها، وتوسيع نطاق التدفقات السياحية إلى أسواقها، وضمان معاملة موحّدة مع المسألة الكردية، ومثلها الأردن المعني حكماً بحاجته للموارد النفطية والمتطلع لاكتساب المزيد من السياح، ومثلهما لبنان الهادف لتسويق بضائعه الزراعية والصناعية، ولاستقطاب كتلة من السياح الذين يوفرهم هذا التكتل، سيجد نفسه، رغم التذاكي السياسي لدى بعض اللبنانيين والكيدية لدى بعضهم الآخر، معنياً من موقع المصالح بالمبادرة في البحث عن سبل التشبيك مع هذا التكتل الجديد.

– عملياً وبسبب غياب مركز عالمي قادر على قيادة العام اقتصادياً وسياسياً وعسكرياً، بعد التراجع الأميركي المشهود، ستنمو التكتلات الإقليمية. وهذا هو الحال على المقلب الآخر للحدود الإيرانية مع كل من باكستان وافغانستان، وصولاً إلى الصين وروسيا والتعاون في أفغانستان سياسياً وأمنياً، والتعاون في مجالات الطاقة وتبادل البضائع. لكن الطبيعي أن يجذب هذا التكتل مع فرصه بالاتساع ليضمّ تركيا ولبنان والأردن اهتماماً خاصاً من روسيا والصين، فالأولى مهتمة بأنابيب النفط والغاز وبتوليد الكهرباء من الطاقة النووية وبيعها، والثانية معنية بشبكات سكك الحديد وتوسيع الأسواق لبضائعها، وتكتل مرشح لبلوغ الثلاثمئة مليون بهذه المقدرات الاقتصادية سيعادل حجم أوروبا، وأميركا، ويزيد عن حجم روسيا، ما يجعله مرشحاً للتأثير على شكل الخريطة التجارية والاقتصادية للعالم، وفرض معادلات جديدة لا بدّ لأوروبا الجارة من أخذها بالحساب.

– عملياً العقوبات الأميركية تلعب دوراً عكسياً. فهي تشكل اليوم الحافز لنجاح هذا التكتل، وهي ستشكل مصدر آليات تعامل مالي تتخطى المرور بالعملة والمصارف الأميركية، وعملياً هي سترتب تراجع المكانة التي تحتلها أميركا في الاقتصاد العالمي كمركز، ولو بقيت تمثل الاقتصاد الأول تقنياً وهي المرشحة لخسارة موقع الاقتصاد الأكبر حجماً امام الصين. فعلاقة أوروبا بهذا التكتل الجديد ستكون مختلفة عن علاقتها بإيران وحدها، ومنطق المصالح يقول إن هذا التكتل سيكون فرصة أوروبا الوحيدة لمواجهة خطر الركود الاقتصادي والكساد الصناعي، وعندما نقول إن عالماً جديداً يولد، لا نقصد فقط سياسياً وعسكرياً بل اقتصادياً أيضاً.

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US Duplicity over Golan Demolishes Posturing on Crimea

US Duplicity over Golan Demolishes Posturing on Crimea

US Duplicity over Golan Demolishes Posturing on Crimea

In a controversial snub to international law, the United States signaled last week that it is moving to officially recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israeli territory. If the US does so, then it forfeits any moral authority to sanction Russia over allegations of “annexing Crimea”.

In its annual US State Department report, the section dealing with the Golan Heights reportedly refers to the contested area as “Israeli-controlled”, not “Israeli-occupied”. The change in wording deviates from United Nations resolutions and international norm which use the term “Israeli-occupied” to designate the land Israel annexed from Syria following the 1967 Six Day War.

Israel has occupied the western part of the Golan since 1967 as a spoil from that war. In 1981, Tel Aviv formally annexed the Syrian territory. However, the UN Security Council in 1981, including the US, unanimously condemned the annexation as illegal. The resolution mandates Israel to return the land to Syria which has historical claim to the entire Golan. The area of 1,800 square kilometers is a strategic elevation overlooking the northern Jordan Valley.

If Washington confirms its recent indications of recognizing the Golan as officially part of Israel, the development would mark an egregious flouting of international law.

But what’s more, such a move totally prohibits Washington from posturing with presumed principle over the issue of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula which since 2014 voluntarily became part of Russia.

Just last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeated accusations against Russia of “annexing” Crimea. Pompeo insisted that US sanctions against Moscow would be maintained until Russia “returns Crimea to Ukraine”.

“The world has not forgotten the cynical lies Russia employed to justify its aggression and mask its attempted annexation of Ukrainian territory,” he said. “The United States will maintain respective sanctions against Russia until the Russian government returns control of Crimea to Ukraine.”

Last year, Pompeo’s State Department issued a ‘Crimea Declaration’ in which it was stated that, “Russia undermines a bedrock of international principle shared by democratic states: that no country can change the borders of another by force.”

Claims by Washington and the European Union of “illegal annexation” of Crimea by Russia are the central basis for five years of economic sanctions imposed on Moscow. Those sanctions have contributed to ever-worsening tensions with Russia and the build-up of NATO forces along Russia’s borders.

Those claims are, however, highly contestable. The people of Crimea voted in a legally constituted referendum in March 2014 to secede from Ukraine and to join the Russian Federation. That referendum followed an illegal coup in Kiev in February 2014 backed by the US and Europe against a legally elected president, Viktor Yanukovych. Historically, Crimea has centuries of shared cultural heritage with Russia. Its erstwhile position within the state of Ukraine was arguably an anomaly of the Cold War and subsequent break-up of the Soviet Union.

In any case, there is scant comparison between the Golan Heights and Crimea, save, that is, for the latest hypocrisy in Washington. While Crimea and its people are arguably historically part of Russia, the Golan Heights are indisputably a sovereign part of Syria which was forcibly annexed by Israeli military occupation.

The illegality of Israel’s occupation of Golan is a matter of record under international law as stipulated in UNSC Resolution 497.

There is no such international mandate concerning Crimea. Claims of Russia’s “annexation” are simply a matter of dubious political assertion made by Washington and its European allies.

The latest move by Washington towards recognizing Golan as part of Israel – in defiance of international law – comes on the back of several other recent developments.

US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham made a tour of Israeli-occupied Golan last week in the company of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pointedly transported by an IDF military helicopter. Graham said following his tour that he would recommend the Trump administration to officially recognize the area as under Israeli sovereignty.

Currently, there is legislation going through both the US Senate and House of Representatives which is aimed at declaring the entire Golan as Israeli territory.

The stark shift in pro-Israeli bias in Washington under the Trump administration is consistent with the White House declaring at the end of 2017 that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Again, that move by President Trump overturned international consensus and UN resolutions which have stipulated Jerusalem to be a shared capital between Israel and a future Palestinian state, to be worked out by (defunct) peace negotiations.

Why Washington has taken up the Golan issue as a prize for Israel at this time is not precisely clear. It could be seen as the Trump administration giving a political boost to Netanyahu for next month’s elections.

There has been previous speculation that Trump is doing the bidding for a US-based oil company, Genie Oil, which is linked to his administration through his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s family investments. The New Jersey company has a subsidiary in Israel, is tied to the Netanyahu government, and has long been aiming to drill the Golan for its abundant oil resources.

The Golan move could also be retribution meted out to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his country’s historic defeat of the US-backed covert war for regime change. The nearly eight-year war was also covertly backed by Israel which sponsored jihadist militia operating out of the Golan against the Syrian army. Having vanquished the US regime-change plot, thanks to crucial military support from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, the payback could be Washington stepping up Israeli claims to annex the Golan.

But whatever the background explanation is, the initiative by Washington to legalize the annexation of Golan by Israel is a brazen violation of international law. In doing so, the US is officially sponsoring war crimes and theft of Syria’s sovereign territory. Or as the Crimea Declaration would put it: “changing the borders of another country by force” – supposedly a “bedrock principle” that Washington continually sermonizes about to Russia.

Crimea and Golan are different issues of territorial dispute, as noted already. Nevertheless, the duplicity of Washington over Golan makes its posturing on Crimea null and void. If the Europeans meekly go along with the US move on Golan, then they too should shut their mouths and their moralizing sanctions over Crimea.

Tragicomedy of Errors

March 17, 2019

by Jimmie Moglia for The Saker Blog

Tragicomedy of Errors

The sublime Plato said that the soul has a trinitarian composition – a very coarse soul in the belly, a loving one in the chest and a reasoning third in the head. The soul is immortal, though women have only two souls, for they are missing reason.

But a father attending the Council of Macon (585 AD), from across the banks and shoals of time, answered, “Plato you speak like an idolater.” And the very same council with a majority of votes, assigned to women a trinitarian and equally immortal soul.

Nevertheless neither Plato nor the Council addressed the issue of individuals who lost their souls, or maybe never had one. As an instance, those who plotted, organized and attempted to carry out the current coup in Venezuela are soul-less creatures – or if they have one, it’s a soul of shit.

Their spiritual fiber, if any, could be surmised from their background, antecedents, demeanor and physiognomy. For you have only to look at Trump’s special counsel for Venezuela and say to yourself, “Here comes the devil, in the likeness of Elliot Abrams.”

The bulk of Mike Pompeo suggests a lack of understanding that dainty bits make rich the ribs but bankrupt quite the wits. Bolton is the physical and verbal embodiment of obnoxiousness. With his ridiculous personal threats against the head of a foreign, noble and independent country, – almost as old as the United States – he has confirmed his credentials as an arrogant, vainglorious, diabolic and dangerous imbecil. And completely unaware that it will come to pass that every braggart shall be found an ass. As for Pence, and he is but an auxiliary and complementary purveyor of nonsense.

Looking at them from the outside and listening to their babble, an impartial observer must conclude that the nature of obsessive lies rests in the incomprehension of things. Otherwise, even a modest understanding would prompt them to lay aside their irksome mask of dissimulation.

And by assenting, consenting and authorizing the despicable charade, from a beacon of some kind of hope Trump has transformed himself into a prince of darkness. For it takes an almost immeasurable flexibility of conscience in pretending to make America great by stealing another nation’s oil, minerals and natural resources.

Maybe he was persuaded to believe that conscience is but a word that cowards use, devised by some to keep the strong in awe. Or he shrewdly realized that by promising no involvement in foreign wars or their equivalent, he could open the eyes of expectation. And in the scale of human feelings, emotions and excitement, delivery is definitely duller than hope, hence of lesser impact than promises.

Some may question my qualifications for so unflatteringly describing the Washington quadrumvirate of plotters. To them I’d respond that emperor Caligula made a senator out of his horse. But that did not change the nature of the horse, once he became a senator.

As a humble chronicler of events, I hesitate to tell my twenty-five readers what they already know about Venezuela. But in the instance, the information, or rather the confirmation, comes from a direct source. For I follow a European group, self-explainingly called NO-NATO. Considering the apocalyptic portrait of Venezuela given by NATO’s bosses and acolytes, and the dramatically conflicting information available from other unaffiliated parties, the group decided that the best way to solve the riddle was to listen to an unbiased envoy who traveled on site and reported accordingly.

This “special envoy” travelled to Venezuela as a tourist and visitor.

Even without her report we knew already of the small but vociferous comprador class of Venezuela and their progeny. Namely, those who commute from Venezuela to Miami for the weekend – the idle and sometimes-dangerous nonsense generators, who flourish wherever men and women are tired of the truth.

The chief profession of this class is to do nothing, followed by long periods of rest. Incidentally, when Trump, to berate Venezuela, proclaims that the US will never be a socialist state, he is mistaken. For what better definition of socialism can there be, than that applicable to a class whose only necessary requirement for living in idle luxury is to exist? In this respect, the US holds and cherishes one such class. Therefore the US is indeed a socialist state.

Here are some notes from our envoy’s report.

In Mid-February, she flew and arrived safely at Caracas airport, which – she says – looks no different from any other similar airport, and safely travelled to downtown. Life appeared normal with no war-fever in the air, though the people appear to be “permanently mobilized.” Two million of them have enrolled into the Bolivarian militia, ready to defend their country.

On Feb 23rd 2019 she joined a massive pro-Maduro demonstration. “A sea of red jerseys and red caps. Youth… of every age paraded in a mile long line under a scorching sun. Following and taking-in the length of the procession, it was easy to perceive the peaceful and cheerful firmness of the Bolivarian people. One woman said to me, “Here are the Chavez’ people. He did not die and now he has become millions.” An activist, wearing sun glasses made to resemble Chavez’ eyes, held a placard that said, “The UN must stop the aggression against Venezuela.”

In a long speech from the podium, without apparent or noticeable security measures, president Maduro announced the breaking of diplomatic relations with Colombia. And he added, “Against all this hatred, we want peace, but with independence. Does Trump want to use humanitarian aids to invade us? We are the ones who defend humanitarian rights and the international law, which prohibits interference to disrupt the life of other countries. Yes there is a crisis. But have we perhaps reduced the social missions, have we taken away pensions or eliminated food subsidies? – What if the puppet Guaidò and his ilk were to rule here? Can you imagine?””

“Later, at a conference called “Assembly of the Peoples” I spoke with Ramon, who lives here but is originally from Spain. He said, “The hatred against the poor, here in Venezuela, reminds me of what my grandparents in Spain told me about the civil war: when the Republic introduced a series of rights for the whole population: schools, voting, trade unions. The upper classes developed a deep hatred against the poor who, organized by the trade unions, began to obtain some rights. The middle class saw this as a loss of their standing in society. It’s the same here in Venezuela during the last years.

The hatred does not even come from the most powerful capitalists – they are in Miami. It comes from the middle class itself.
When Chavez became president, for the first time in the history of the country, he gave eight million Venezuelans an identity card. Before that move, those millions officially did not exist. They couldn’t have a bank account, nor the right to a state subsidy nor could they vote. Before Chavez only the rich and the middle class went to university. With Chavez, they had to share schools and universities with people whom they rated as their inferiors. They did not like it one bit.””

Along the streets, market stalls sell food-items, fruits and vegetables. Prices are on par with Europe. But it is not here that Venezuelans on minimum wage do their shopping. Their needs are addressed by a public system called CLAP (Comités Locales de Abastecimiento y Producción = Local Committees of Provisions and Production.) Monthly or bi-weekly, the system supplies packages of food to 6 million households, with distribution entrusted to the condos. The cost for each supply package is minimal though it may not be enough.

Conversation with woman met on a bus.

This is a short exchange with Eliana, who, getting off the enormous and very crowded (but always free) bus, directs herself towards the subway station ‘La Hoyada.’ “We will do everything not to end like Syria or Libya” – she says.

Outside the station, people are gathering. They wear the red Chavist shirt. Among them, Eliana recognizes and waves at one of the founders of the Bank for the Development of Women (Banco de Desarrollo de la Mujer), where Eliana works.

“Inside the metro station Mr. Andrade (of Portuguese family, who grows potatoes at Merida, in the Andean area,) explains to me why in this emergency period, the transport service is free, “to try to help the people, during this crisis.”

Inside the train, I notice the lack of avid smartphone readers. Few have one and exhibiting is considered tasteless.”

I only reported parts of the report. The reader can compare with the official output from the controlled US media and draw his conclusions.

The reader will be equally aware of the nation-wide electrical black-out of Venezuela, occurred on Mar 7, 2019. Mr. Jorge Rodriguez, Venezuelan Vice President for Communications, has given a pretty exhaustive explanation of the three-fold stages of the terrorist act in a video (link at the end of article for those interested).

That it was a CIA planned operation is beyond question. Particularly meaningful, I think, is the relative little care the CIA took, to hide its involvement. Indeed, two minutes and forty seconds after the attack, that cesspit of inhumanity, senator (!) Marco Rubio, – (in)famous for threatening Maduro to resign or ending up like Gheddafi shown dying in a picture – issued the following tweet,

“Alert. Information about a total electrical blackout affecting the whole of #Venezuela. 18 of the 23 (Venezuelan) states and the district of the capital are now affected by total black-out. The main airport has no energy and the reserve generators have failed. The #MaduroRegime is a complete disaster.” (ALERTA: Informes de un apagon completo en todo #Venezuela en este momento. 18 de los 23 estados y el distrito capital se enfrentan actualmente a apagones completos. Aeropuerto principal tambien sin energia y generatores de respaldo han fallado. #MaduroRegime Es un completo desastre.)
How could he know that the reserve generators had failed?

Almost simultaneously broadcast, here is Guaido’s, “Venezuela knows that the light will return with the cessation of the usurpation. Let’s move on. During my tour in the South, we sought support to address this crisis. We will defeat the blockade of progress with mobilization. See you next Saturday in the streets! (Venezuela tiene claro que la luz llega con el cese de la usurpacion. Sigamos adelante. Durante nuestra gira en el sur, buscamos apoyos para atender esta crisis. El bloqueo al progreso lo vencemos com movilizacion. Nos vemos el sabado en la calle!)

Mike Pompeo’s was more laconic, “No food, No medicine. Now no power. Next, no Maduro.”

The electrical “desastre” was to be the 9/11 of Venezuela. It failed. Perhaps we can say Maduro 2 – Abrams 0.

By the way and as we know, efforts at unseating Hugo Chavez while alive have a long history. For example, some may remember Pat Robertson, fundamentalist Christian guru and patron of the “Jews for Jesus” movement. He promoted on national TV the idea that the US military should directly “take out” (sic) Hugo Chavez.

And here is a document produced by an organization called Canvas (Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies), founded in 2004 in Belgrade (Serbia). Financed by the US government, CANVAS trains youth operatives to be deployed in countries where the US plans a regime change. Among CANVAS’ first ‘products’ was a movement called “Generation 2007.” Its objectives were to foment and create disorders against Hugo Chavez and his plans to relieve poverty by re-directing the oil profits to the needs of the nations. Guaido’ was a trainee in that movement. As you can see from the following document, recently released, even then the CIA sought the Venezuelan electrical grid as a target.

“Key to Chavez’s current weakness is the decline in the electricity sector. There is a grave possibility that some 70% of the country’s electricity grid go dark as soon as April 2010. Water levels at the Gurie dam are dropping, and the Chavez has been unable to reduce consumption sufficiently to compensate for the deteriorating industry. This could be the watershed event, as there is little that Chavez can do to protect the poor from the failure of that system. This would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate. At this point in time, an opposition group would be best served to take advantage of the situation and spin it against Chavez and towards their needs. Alliances with the military could be critical because in such a situation of messy public unrest and rejection of the presidency, malcontent sections of the military will likely decided to intervene, but only if they believe they have sufficient support. This has been the pattern in the past three coup attempts. Where the military thought it had enough support, there was a failure in the public to respond positively (or the public responded in the negative), so the coup failed.”

An old Italian proverb that says “The devil builds the (black) pots, but forgets (to build) the lids.” It means that when someone decides to practice evil (like the devil), plans are made, lies are told, people and facts are manipulated. But something often happens to foil the plan. The truth comes out, or the wrongdoer is punished, or the plans fail.

That seems the case with an event occurred on Mar 14, 2019. When two Russian pranksters, Vladimir Kutznetsov and Alexei Stoliarov, set up a formidably comical telephone call, directly with Guaido’ (youtube link at end of article). In which the caller was supposed to be nonetheless than the president of Switzerland, Mr. Maurer. The call lasts about 13 minutes. A necessarily short summary does not do justice to the irresistibly comical charge of the whole episode.

In the video, the voice in English, speaking from the Switzerland of pretense, is supposed to belong to the Swiss president. But the accent is too Russian, and I do not think it could have deceived even the otherwise gullible Guaido’. In turn, Guaido’ replies and speaks in Spanish (transcribed in the video). That voice is definitely Guaido’s, as is his bare ass, immortalized by a picture taken during an earlier anti-Chavez demonstration (see article “In Praise of Shamelessness.”). I speculate that a Spanish interpreter was involved on the pranksters’ side to translate the words of the simulated Swiss president.

After congratulating Guaido’ on his assumption of the Venezuela presidency, ‘Mr. Maurer’ wants to discuss the Venezuela’s arrangements and forthcoming new relations with the Swiss banking systems. He says to have contacted Marshall Billingslea, US Treasury’s assistant secretary for Terrorist Financing. Mr. Maurer suggests that all Venezuelan accounts in Switzerland are terrorist-linked, hence illegal and should be frozen. Does Guaido’ agree? Yes, Guaido’ replies.

At minute 4.14 ‘Mr Maurer’ discloses that Maduro transfers his money to a company called ‘Tender First’, owned by a Kazak man called Nurlan Baidild. Does Guaido’ know him? No, says Guaido’.

Has Guaido’ appointed a Venezuelan ambassador to Switzerland? Yes, Guaido’ replies, Ms. Marta Alejandra Aristiguieta.

‘Mr. Maurer’ advises Guaido’ that various lengthy procedural steps are involved in freezing international accounts, but the situation is urgent. There is a risk that Maduro’s and Venezuelan funds may be transferred to Russia or China. Would Guaido’ agree to transfer these assets into a temporary personal account, to prevent the funds from disappearing?

Guaido’ agrees. And then comes the dessert of the interview. Does Guaido’ know that the Russian opposition leader is Alexei Navalni, who also studied at Yale? No, sais Guaido’. ‘Mr. Maurer’ probes further. Once officially installed as president, would Guaido’ recognize Navalni as interim president of the Russian Federation?

“We are going to evaluate all the options” – replies Guaido’ – but yours is an interesting proposal.”

Apparently, after the call, Guaido’ immediately made public the information about the freezing of Venezuelan funds in Switzerland. Which prompted the pranksters (always pretending to be Mr. Maurer,) to send an email to John Bolton, suggesting that it was unwise for Guaido’ to go public with this sensitive information. Bolton replies with an email agreeing it was an error and will talk with Guaido’ accordingly. Bolton’s email is shown in the video, but there is no way of confirming its authenticity.

Informed about the prank and asked for his opinion, Evo Morales, authentic president of Bolivia is said to have replied, “Guaido’ es un burrote.” (Guaido’ is an ass).

Apparently, Guaido’ is currently free to roam around in Venezuela. A naive observer may conclude that there is enough material and evidence to arrest him on a charge of treason and promoting terrorism.

Still, Machiavellianly speaking, Guaido’ is now the metaphorical representation of a “dead man walking.” For his killing could be the excuse for a US invasion. The CIA is known for having done worse. We must therefore assume that, by not arresting Guaido’, the Maduro administration knows best.

Time to wrap up and tie together the threads of the story.

The still pending attempt to rape Venezuela is historically meaningful and factually instructive. For the field of battle where the US is (or has been) most successful relies on the bi-dimensional representation of events. That is, a media stage featuring Good versus Bad, where their monopoly of images, and therefore of the imagination, is eminently successful. A splendid confirmation – American style – that nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so. Where thinking is conducted on the people’s behalf by the media monopoly. Hence the miracle of converting victims into allies, however temporarily.

Nevertheless, while taking the above for granted, the quadroika of evil also assumed an impenetrable fog, spread by them and by the fake news generators. But the view is clearing, some new light illuminates palpable and cumbersome realities, which fear and the penumbra of reason have allowed for too long to remain unsaid, unthought, hidden and invisible.

Account of the terrorist act on the Venezuelan electrical system:

Pranksters Video:

What does Europe want from Cairo Conference? ماذا تريد أوروبا من مؤتمر شرم الشيخ؟

 What does Europe want from Cairo Conference?

مارس 18, 2019

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The Arab-European summit has been arranged by Arab initiatives, but it translated a European decision that expressed the threats resulted from the chaos that threatens the Mediterranean Basin, and the resulting consequences on the European security. This is after the summit which brought together the Arabs and the Europeans a year ago in the Dead Sea, in which they suggested to fix a regular Arab-European summit. Therefore, Egypt hosted the first summit.

The Europeans observe the Arab inability of abiding by the high rhetoric and political American ceilings practically whether regarding what is related to the future of the American visions of the Palestinian cause or the future of the relationships with Iran. The American positions coinciding with the decisions of the withdrawal are being implemented slowly and have Israeli ceilings. The Arabs did not find the basis that enables them to follow especially regarding the deal of the century which will end with the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem. The Arabs failed in finding a Palestinian partner who provides the coverage to apply the American options.

The Europeans know that the adoption of Washington of its high ceilinged options towards the Palestinian cause and Iran which coincides with the decision of the withdrawal from the region spreading among Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan will lead to a chaos in this big geographical basin, moreover, the undisputable conflicts will turn into an open environment of confrontation among the fighters and will weaken the idea of the state and stability, furthermore, it will create a high level of security comfort  in which the terrorism becomes more rooted and the immigrants will increase.

The Europeans do not dare to think of building an alliance as Washington wants despite the emergence of such an Arab-European summit which its holding has been coincided with Warsaw Conference in which the European leaderships were absent. Therefore, Cairo Summit which was without America, but with the presence of the same partners of Warsaw to discuss the same issues seemed as a response to Warsaw, while what the Europeans want is to find a framework for America’s allies who were affected by its risky behavior, to deal with it without leaving America which threatens all due to the presence in Warsaw and Cairo summits.

The summit which was not attended by the French President or the German Chancellor in order to prevent provoking the American anger is an attempt to seek stability by the American who decided to deal with its allies, their interests, and stability carelessly. It is a simple attempt to draw Arab or European policy without affecting America as the way of Charles de Gaulle and Gamal Abdul Nasser, and to announce an independent decision and policy on the basis that; such of this geographic basin in the old countries world forms a geopolitical and geo-economic unity.

The rising of the American imprudence and the impasse alone can revive this summit and turn it into a salvation way accepted by Washington in such a state of aggravation of the inability. Perhaps Europe is waiting for this moment in a way that does not provoke Washington.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

ماذا تريد أوروبا من مؤتمر شرم الشيخ؟

فبراير 25, 2019

ناصر قنديل

لا ينتظر البحث في القمة العربية الأوروبية من زاوية التفكير بمبادرات يقف الحكام العرب وراءها بحسابات التأثير في رسم المعادلات الدولية والإقليمية، والتحكم بمسارات ما يُكتب لهم من وراء البحار. فالقمة تمّت بدعوة عربية لكن ترجمة لقرار أوروبي جاء تعبيراً عن الشعور بالمخاطر التي تختزنها الفوضى التي تهدّد حوض البحر المتوسط وما ينعكس عنها من نتائج على الأمن الأوروبي، وذلك بعد قمة جمعت العرب والأوروبيين قبل عام في البحر الميت، واقترحوا خلالها تثبيت قمة دورية عربية أوروبية، وتولّت مصر استضافة القمة الأولى.

يراقب الأوروبيون العجز العربي عن السير بالسقوف الأميركية العالية كلامياً وسياسياً، والمعدومة القدرة والأدوات عملياً ومادياً، سواء ما يتصل بمستقبل الرؤى الأميركية للقضية الفلسطينية أو بمستقبل العلاقات بإيران، حيث المواقف الأميركية المتزامنة مع قرارات بالانسحاب تطبَّق على البارد، تتبنى سقوفاً إسرائيلية، لم ينجح العرب الراغبون بالسير بها في إيجاد الأرضية التي تمكنهم من مجاراتها، خصوصاً في ما يخصّ صفقة القرن التي تنتهي بتثبيت احتلال «إسرائيل» للقدس، وقد فشل العرب بإيجاد شريك فلسطيني يقدّم التغطية لتمرير الخيارات الأميركية.

يعرف الأوروبيون أن مضي واشنطن بالسير بخياراتها العالية السقوف تجاه القضية الفلسطينية وإيران، بالتزامن مع خيار مرادف يجري تثبيته هو الانسحاب من المنطقة الممتدة بين أضلاع مثلث سورية واليمن وأفغانستان، سينتج خلال سنوات درجة أعلى من الفوضى في هذا الحوض الجغرافي الكبير الذي يتوسطه العرب، وستتحوّل الصراعات غير القابلة للحسم بيئة مفتوحة على توازن سلبي بين المتقابلين في ساحات المواجهة، تضعف فكرة الدولة والاستقرار، وتنشئ قدراً عالياً من السيولة الأمنية، يتجذر فيها الإرهاب ويكثر منها النازحون.

لا يجرؤ الأوروبيون على التفكير ببناء حلف موازٍ لما تريده واشنطن، رغم ظهور القمة العربية الأوروبية بهذه الصيغة لتزامن انعقادها مع مؤتمر وارسو الفاشل الذي غابت عنه القيادات الأوروبية، فجاءت قمة شرم الشيخ بدون أميركا وبحضور شركاء وارسو ذاتهم بحضور أوروبي لمناقشة المواضيع ذاتها كأنها رد على وارسو، بينما الذي يريده الأوروبيون هو إيجاد إطار لحلفاء أميركا المتضررين من رعونتها لتنسيق كيفية التعامل مع نتاج هذه الرعونة، من دون الانعتاق من الحبل الأميركي الذي يطبق على رقاب الجميع من حضور وارسو وشرم الشيخ.

القمة التي غاب عنها الرئيس الفرنسي والمستشارة الألمانية منعاً لوقوعها في مكان يستثير الغضب الأميركي محاولة لاستجداء الاستقرار من الأميركي، الذي قرّر بوعي أنه يتعامل مع حلفاء لا يقيم لهم ولمصالحهم ولاستقرار بلدانهم أي اعتبار، محاولة خجولة لرسم سياسة عربية أوروبية، يخشى أصحابها رفع الصوت بوجه الأميركي على طريقة شارل ديغول وجمال عبد الناصر، والإعلان عن قرار مستقل وسياسة مستقلة، على قاعدة أن هذا الحوض الجغرافي لدول العالم القديم يشكل وحدة جيوسياسية وجيواقتصادية، يعرف أصحابها مصالحهم، وطالما قرّر الأميركي مغادرتها، فأهلها أقدر على إدارتها، وأعلم بمصالحها.

تصاعد الرعونة الأميركية والطريق المسدود بوجهها وحدهما قد يتكفلان ببث الروح في هذه القمة وتحوّلها خشبة خلاص ترتضيها واشنطن في لحظة تفاقم العجز، وربما تكون أوروبا تنتظر هذه اللحظة ببرود لا يستفز واشنطن قبل الأوان.

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Trump Supporters in Denial over New Zealand Massacre

Trump Supporters in Denial over New Zealand Massacre

FINIAN CUNNINGHAM | 17.03.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

Trump Supporters in Denial over New Zealand Massacre

US President Donald Trump condemned the New Zealand massacre of 50 people by a self-declared white fascist as “horrible”. In an ambiguous choice of words, Trump said he sent his “warmest [sic] sympathies” to the victims of the mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch. He also seemed to downplay white supremacy violence as a problem.

With several surviving victims still in a critical condition, the death toll could rise in coming days.

Of course, Trump would be obliged to join in the international outpouring of condemnation over the barbaric cold-blooded act of mass murder. How could he not, given the shocking horror and depravity of the crime?

But his repeated nationalistic and nativist rhetoric as well as the ideologues whom he associates with make it very hard for Trump and his supporters to deny that there is a link between the White House occupant and the terrorist attack on Muslims in New Zealand, or white supremacist violence generally.

Supporters of Trump have scoffed at media claims made against Trump following the massacre insinuating the president is associated with “white nationalism” and thereby linked to the violence.

Admittedly, anti-Trump media in the US, such as CNN and MSNBC, will always seek every opportunity to undermine Trump. Nevertheless, on the point of Trump’s dalliance with extremist rightwing groups and their ideological memes there is a valid criticism to be made.

The alleged shooter in the New Zealand attack Friday was named as Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian citizen. He openly declared himself to be a fascist, avowing white supremacist ideology. In a so-called manifesto, the suspect refers to Trump as a “symbol of renewed white identity”.

More significantly, the themes the alleged murderer espouses are central to the Alt Right movement and numerous other white nationalist groups in the US and Europe, issues which Trump has also promoted for political gain.

The themes of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, white genocide by “invasion” or “replacement” by brown-skinned foreigners are run-of-the-mill talking points for far-right nationalist movements, which Trump has at times endorsed or given credence to.

Only days before the New Zealand massacre, Trump gave an exclusive interview with Breitbart News. The publication is a proponent of many of the themes surrounding fears of the “white race” being over-run by hordes of foreigners, and especially Muslim foreigners.

In his latest interview for Breitbart, Trump appeared to be inciting street violence by imploring his followers in the police and military to “get tough”. He tweeted a link to the publication. But following the horror in Christchurch, Trump deleted his tweet. That move suggests the president is fully aware of the toxic association with Breitbart at such a politically sensitive moment.

Trump and his supporters may try to play the innocent card, decrying what they would call are scurrilous attempt by the “liberal media” to bracket him with the violence of the far-right.

However, what else is one to conclude about Trump when he has personally amplified the touchstone causes of numerous fascist, white nationalist groups?

This week, Trump has pushed on with his border wall project. He has repeatedly sought to justify that project in sensationalist, scaremongering terms of preventing an “invasion” into the US from Mexico. The actual figures of migration over the southern border do not merit such high priority given by Trump to the “problem”. The proposed expenditure of $8-9 billion and declared state of emergency are “dog-whistling” techniques by Trump to mobilize far-right nationalist support.

Look at the people who associate with Trump. He may claim that their association is not reciprocated.

White neo-Nazi groups like Proud Boys and Alt Right have been hosted at Trump rallies. Alt Right leader Richard Spencer is partial to giving Nazi salutes at conferences and declaring “Hail Trump!”

David Duke, the grandmaster of the Klu Klux Klan, has publicly endorsed Trump.

Steve Bannon, Trump’s former political strategist in the White House, is a big proponent of the “replacement theory” whereby it is claimed that Muslim, African and other immigrants are “invading” the US and Europe to obliterate traditional white Christian communities. This was a prime motive for the alleged shooter in the New Zealand massacre. It was also a motive for the mass murder in 2011 by Norwegian neo-Nazi Anders Breivik.

Trump has taken up the cause of white South African farmers who claim that they are being expelled from colonial lands by the ruling ANC black government. This theme has also been taken up in Zimbabwe, and is a major touchstone issue for white supremacist, fascist groups around the world. For Trump to dally with the issue is an unmistakable sign of his witting – albeit tacit – support to such ideology, even though he may publicly try to distance himself at times, such as in the aftermath of the Christchurch atrocity.

Typically with Trump there are abundant contradictions. His son-in-law and special advisor Jared Kushner is Jewish. Yet Trump was accused of giving support to a “Unite the Right Rally” in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, where the torch-bearing marchers chanted slogans about not being replaced by Jews.

There seems little room for denial by Trump or his supporters about his links to the rise of extreme rightwing, white nationalist, fascist groups. His blanket ban on asylum-seekers from Muslim countries, his unhinged rhetoric about “invasion” by foreigners, and Trump’s association with racist, fascistic ideologues all put this president in the dock for incitement. The reckless rhetoric of Trump’s demagoguery is manifest in depraved actions such as the mass murder of 49 Muslims in New Zealand.

Trump can’t wash his hands after cynically dabbling in the cesspool of fascist ideology.

المساران «الإسرائيلي» والفلسطيني

مارس 18, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– قبل أيام على صواريخ تل أبيب وعملية سلفيت النوعية البطولية، خرج أحد المستوطنين في تسجيل من باحة المسجد الأقصى يصف الفلسطينيين بالجبن، باعتبارهم مصنوعين من سكر ولم يخرجوا إلى المسجد الأقصى بسبب المطر خشية الذوبان، وبعد أيام قليلة كان المصنوعون من سكر يقصفون بصواريخ تتخطّى القبة الحديدة وتسقط في تل أبيب، وبعدها بأيام يقوم شاب فلسطيني بطعن جندي صهيوني وتجريده من سلاحه، وإطلاق النار بواسطة هذا السلاح على مجموعة من الجنود فيقتل ثلاثة منهم ويتوارى. ويظهر المساران الفلسطيني والإسرائيلي متعاكسين، يتبادلان الحال العربية الإسرائيلية قبل عقود، يوم كان الكلام الكبير للعرب والفعل الكبير للإسرائيليين، ليبدو اليوم أن الكلام الكبير للإسرائيليين حكاماً ومستوطنين، بينما الأفعال الكبيرة للفلسطينيين.

– خلال العقدين الماضيين، ومنذ العام 2000 سلك المساران الفلسطيني والإسرائيلي اتجاهين متعاكسين، فمنذ إجبار «إسرائيل» على الانسحاب دون مقابل أو تفاوض من جنوب لبنان، ومقابلها اندلاع انتفاضة المسجد الأقصى، بدأ المسار التصاعدي لحساب الفلسطينيين، ومقابله مسار الانحدار الإسرائيلي، وتلاها تحرير غزة عام 2005 والفشل الإسرائيلي في حرب تموز 2006، وها نحن اليوم في مرحلة ما بعد الفشل الدولي والإقليمي الذي كانت «إسرائيل» جزءاً عضوياً منه في الحرب على سورية، وتنامي قدرات محور المقاومة، ذهبت «إسرائيل» نحو تصعيد فلسفة الجدار، رغم كل الصراخ عن القدرة على خوض الحروب، فشكل الإعلان عن دولة يهودية تعبيراً عن فلسفة الجدار، ومثله نقل السفارة الأميركية إلى القدس، إعلاناً عن العجز على السير في أي مشروع تفاوضي نحو تسوية سياسية يعادل العجز عن خوض الحروب، ولو رآه البعض علامة قوة فهو ليس إلا دليل ضعف.

– رغم الانقسام الفصائلي الحاد يبدو الفلسطينيون أقرب سياسياً لبعضهم في الإجماع على رفض التفاوض والدور الأميركي ومشروع صفقة القرن، بصورة لم يسبق أن شكل الموقف من التفاوض ومن نسخ التسوية المعروضة ومن العلاقة مع واشنطن، أسباباً دائمة للانقسام السياسي والشعبي، رغم وجود تفاهمات بين حركتي فتح وحماس وتشاركهما حينها في الانتخابات وتشكيل الحكومة، بينما يبدو الإسرائيليون رغم ظاهر تفرقهم في مستويات الخطاب التصعيدي انتخابياً، مدركين حجم المأزق الوجودي الذي يعيشه كيانهم، والمتمثل بفقدان قدرة الذهاب للحرب أو قدرة الذهاب للتسوية، فالجبهات كلها مقفلة ومخاطر العبث معها مكلفة، والتسويات لا تقل كلفة، وليس في الكيان من يجرؤ على المخاطرة في الاتجاهين.

– ثمة تحولات كبرى جرت في المنطقة، فقدت خلالها «إسرائيل» الإمساك بزمام المبادرة، ومقابلها حدثت تحولات معاكسة امتلك خلالها الفلسطينيون ومن ورائهم قوى وحكومات محور المقاومة، المزيد من عناصر القدرة على المبادرة، حيث الاشتباك المفتوح مع جيش الاحتلال وقطعان المستوطنين، وطريق التفاوض مقفل كخيار يقسم الفلسطينيين، والقدرة العربية والغربية على إنعاش مسار التفاوض تتراجع، وخيار المقاومة يصير طريقاً حتمياً وحيداً، وقد أثبت قدرته على تحقيق الإنجازات، ويكفي النظر في كيفية التهرّب الإسرائيلي من التورط في الرد على صواريخ غزة على تل أبيب لمعرفة تبدل الأحوال الذي نعيش في ظله، بعدما كانت «إسرائيل» تصنع أحداثاً لتتخذها ذرائع لشن الحروب يوم كانت قادرة عليها، صارت تهوّن من خطورة التحديات لتبرير الهروب من المواجهات والحروب، لأنها فقدت هذه القدرة.

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