Alleged Russian S-300 system spotted near strategic Libyan city: photo

By News Desk -2020-08-06

S-300 PMU-2 long-range air defense system deployed by the Algerian army in southern Algeria.

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:10 A.M.) – A Russian-made S-300 air defense system has been spotted near the strategic port-city of Sirte in north-central Libya.

According to conflict observers, a photo taken east of Sirte allegedly shows the presence of an S-300 air defense system, which is something that Libya did not previously possess.

However, while some claim that this is an S-300 system, the Russian publication, Avia.Pro, said that the photo does not necessarily confirm its presence, as it is only possible to confirm the ownership of the radar.

“At the moment, there is no complete confidence that we are talking about the S-300 complex, since it was only possible to confirm the ownership of the radar; however, given the fact that Russian military aircraft regularly fly to Libya, landing at air bases controlled by the Libyan National Army. Moreover, we are talking about Russian military specialists, analysts are inclined to believe that we are talking about these complexes,” the publication said.

The Libyan National Army has not commented on the claims of the S-300 system’s deployment to Sirte.

It should be noted that neighboring Egypt does possess an S-300 system and given their alliance with the Libyan National Army, the deployment of this weapon could very well be possible.

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How Nazism Came to Dominate Both of America’s Political Parties

July 26, 2020

How Nazism Came to Dominate Both of America’s Political Parties

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

The following 11-minute youtube video is a good introduction to this article:

Ukraine Crisis — What You’re Not Being Told

On July 20th, Moss Robeson headlined at TheGrayZone, “Influential DC-based Ukrainian think tank hosts neo-Nazi activist convicted for racist violence”, and he reported the inescapably visible tip of America’s iceberg of pro-nazi policies regarding Ukraine. Ukraine is a country which during World War II was torn between supporters of Hitler versus supporters of Stalin, and which became non-aligned after independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, but which U.S. President Barack Obama conquered in a brutal February 2014 coup (called by some “the most blatant coup in history”), which coup turned Ukraine’s Government into the world’s most-far-rightwing, and even sometimes overtly pro-Hitler, anti-Russian, nationalistic White-Power regime. It’s far more anti-Russian than anti-Jewish, but it is both. Obama did this so as to bring into NATO the country that has the longest European border (1,625 miles) with Russia, and which would thus be the best place from which to launch nuclear missiles against major Russian cities including Moscow. Ukraine as the main launching-pad for an invasion of Russia had been only a wet dream for NATO planners until Obama came into the White House, but even as early as June of 2013 Obama was already quietly advertising for bids on what then was a school in Crimea, in order to modify it to serve as part of his planned new U.S. naval base there replacing Russia’s biggest naval base, which Russian naval base has been there, in Crimea, ever since 1783. Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, enabled Crimea’s residents to block that part of Obama’s plan for Ukraine.

Adolf Hitler hated Slavs, including Russians, almost as much as he hated Jews; and, though Ukraine’s racist fascists — or ideological nazis — hate Russians even more than they hate Jews, America’s adoption of Ukraine’s nazis (racist fascists) and placing them into power, was a crucial turning-point in international affairs toward racist fascism. It is the authentic chief source of the hard-right turn, not only in the United States, but in many European countries. Until recently, nazism was far outside the mainstream, throughout the post-WW-II world. Clearly, now, that is no longer the case, and what Obama did to Ukraine is the main reason why (as will be explained here).

In post-coup Ukraine, children are being taught on the basis of the White-Power ideology, and, in the resisting regions — the regions that reject the coup — are mercilessly slaughtered (and the more graphic videos have been removed by youtube, and similarly for videos of adults being systematically murdered by Ukraine’s nazis). The post-coup Ukraine aims to get rid of its ethnic-Russian population.

Ukraine is the global beach-head for nazism, and even has two nazi Parties, one called “Right Sector,” and the other called “Freedom” (which got renamed that by the CIA from its original “Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine,” so as to be more acceptable to Americans and the EU). Both are even more anti-Russian than anti-Semitic.

The way America’s fake-‘progressive’, Democratic-Party billionaires-controlled, press, deals with the Democratic Party’s own “first Black President” Barack Obama (winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his deceptive rhetoric) having done this — actually having stoked now racism throughout the world, targeted particularly against Russians — is to focus on the Democratic Party media’s distractionist theme of inter-ethnic, inter-religious, racist and other divisive American conflicts, as if this nazi problem’s overflowing now in Ukraine is not driven instead by geostrategic and imperialistic concerns in specifically U.S. policymaking, driven actually by America’s billionaires’ craving an all-encompassing global conquest, including conquest ultimately of Russia, which will be the last since it is the only other nuclear superpower. For example, the fake-‘progressive’ The Nation magazine, on 22 February 2019, headlined “Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are On the March in Ukraine”, and focused on this far-right outpouring in Ukraine as being due to anti-Semitism, and to “pogroms against the Roma and LGBT,” as if Obama had cared about those groups. The chief obsession of Ukraine’s far-right has instead been anti-Russian, for at least a century, and that’s the actual fuel on which Obama was firing-up his coup in Ukraine: he was targeting against Russians, and not against Jews nor those other groups. By contrast, this article buried the anti-Russia issue, such as by saying, “A 2017 law mandated that secondary education be conducted strictly in Ukrainian, which infuriated Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece. Several regions passed legislation banning the use of Russian in public life. Quotas enforce Ukrainian usage on TV and radio.” The one and only real target in Obama’s Ukraine is only Russia. The deception that’s practiced by America’s Democratic Party billionaires upon America’s left is probably even more insidious than is the deception that’s practiced by America’s Republican Party billionaires upon America’s right (“God, Mother, Country”). Deception of any person is mental coercion against that person, and such dishonesty is an especially highly skilled art for ‘leftist’ billionaires, because right-wing followers are unashamedly against the poor and minorities and anyone who is weak in the particular society. So, for example, in the present case: the people who were being herded into Odessa’s Trade Unions Building and burnt alive for printing and distributing anti-coup literature, on 2 May 2014, weren’t “Jews” or “Roma,” or “LGBT,” but instead just Ukrainians who were favorable toward Russia. Ukraine’s chief bigotry, under the Obama-imposed regime, is anti-Russian, not anti-Jewish, and any honest news-medium acknowledges this fact, instead of trying to deceive to hide it.

In Twentieth-Century U.S. history, the Republican Party was generally more right-wing than the Democratic Party; and, consequently, Obama’s moving the Democratic Party in the pro-nazi direction was an outright gift to Republicans, whose leading politicians were just as enthusiastic about the regime-change in Ukraine as the Democratic Party’s leadership was — and still is.

The irony here is that America’s biggest assaults against Russia have now come not during the Cold War, when there was an authentic ideological difference (communism versus capitalism), but instead after Russia, in 1991, ended the Cold War on its side (while the U.S. secretly has continued it on the U.S. side, in a craving for global conquest).

The classic article about the radicalism of Obama’s turn to nazism regarding Ukraine was written by an American who lived through these events in Ukraine while they were happening, George Eliason, who headlined, on 16 March 2014, just the first part of his four-part article, “The Nazi’s even Hitler was Afraid of”, and he subsequently posted the complete article here, where it can be read without those needless interruptions. He lives in Ukraine’s breakaway Donbass region, which Obama’s forces were bombing, and which Trump’s continue (though less) bombing, even today. Eliason reported honestly (not like The Nation, etc.). What Obama did to Ukraine was very geostrategic, and the changes in Ukraine were driven by U.S. billionaires, even more than by Ukrainian ones. Interpreting Ukraine’s current nazism as being directed mainly against Jews like Hitler’s German version was is profoundly misrepresenting.

Obama — with the help of both of America’s billionaire-controlled political Parties, and all of America’s billionaire-controlled or “mainstream” ‘news’-media — succeeded in transforming U.S. public opinion toward Russia, from neutral prior to his Ukrainian coup, to strongly negative immediately after it:

Gallup Poll. Feb. 3-16, 2020. N=1,028 adults nationwide. Margin of error ± 4.
“Next, I’d like your overall opinion of some foreign countries. … What is your overall opinion of Russia? Is it very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable, or very unfavorable?”
FavorableUnfavorableNo opinion
%%%
2/3-16/2028721
2/1-10/1924733
2/1-10/1825722
2/1-5/1728702
2/3-7/1630655
2/8-11/1524706
2/6-9/1434606
2/7-10/1344507
2/2-5/1250446
2/2-5/1151427
2/1-3/1047457

Furthermore, during Obama’s first term, 2009-2012, he employed great cunning in order to portray himself as being supportive of a “reset in Russian-American relations,” and this lie (that he was intending to improve instead of to worsen U.S.-Russian relations) was one of the reasons he won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, but actually, when he entered office in 2009, he was already starting to plan regime-change not only in Ukraine but also in Syria (if not also in Libya) — two countries whose leaders were on cordial terms with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Obama was able to string Vladimir Putin along until 2012 to hope that Obama’s ‘reset with Russia’ wasn’t merely a ploy. On 26 March 2012, Obama informed Dmitry Medvedev to tell Putin that “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved, but it’s important for him [the incoming President Putin] to give me space. This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.” However, it was all a lie. His intention was the opposite. The fact is that, already, Obama was actually planning, even as early as 2011, to overthrow the neutralist Government right next door to Russia, in Ukraine, and to replace it with a rabidly anti-Russian regime on Russia’s doorstep, which he was planning to bring into NATO even though only around 30% of Ukrainians wanted Ukraine to join NATO. But Putin had no way of knowing that Obama was planning this. And immediately after Obama’s February 2014 coup in Ukraine, around 60% of Ukrainians suddenly wanted Ukraine to join NATO. (That’s because the newly installed Obama regime propagandized hatred against Russia, which is NATO’s specialty.) People felt that if even such a ‘peacemaker’ as Obama wasn’t ‘able’ to establish constructive relations with Putin, then there had to be something very wrong with Putin.

Obama’s 2012 campaign against Mitt Romney featured prominently this trap for Romney, and he fell right into it. On 16 May 2016, I headlined “Who Is the More Vicious Liar: Trump, or Obama?” and I described there the exquisite deception that Obama had practiced against Romney and also against Putin — and against the American public — regarding U.S.-Russian relations, and Obama’s brilliant use and exploitation of the hopes by each one of those three entities in order to win the Presidency and defeat not only Romney but also Putin, and especially Obama’s own Democratic Party voters.

That deception has largely shaped today’s political world, throughout the world. Barack Obama was like the mythical snake in Genesis 3.

On June 30th, TheGrayZone bannered “US claim of ‘Russian Bounty’ plot in Afghanistan is dubious and dangerous” and their Max Blumenthal put it well: “The constant flow of Russiagate disinformation into the bloodstream of the Democratic Party and its base is moving that party constantly to the right, while pushing the US deeper into this Cold War.” It allows the Republican Party to move even farther toward the right. It moves the political center to the right. Obama was the key figure in this ominous development, which is politically poisoning the entire world. He was an international war-criminal in Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and more, and should be executed for it (as should both Bush and Trump). (That’s executed, after appropriate legal process, not assassinated, which is horrible and produces martyrs instead of lawfully condemned villains.) But his toxic legacy on global politics is even more dangerous than those smaller catastrophes he participated in causing (and for which he deserves to be executed). He was exceedingly ambitious and achieved a lot, of disaster and far worse.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

EGYPT AND FRANCE CARRY OUT NAVAL DRILL AS SHOW OF FORCE TO TURKEY

Source

Egypt and France Carry Out Naval Drill As Show Of Force To Turkey

On July 25th, the Egyptian and French Navies held naval drills in the eastern Mediterranean, with the participation of the Egyptian Ghost frigate and French Ghost frigate (ACONIT).

In a statement, the Egyptian Armed Forces reported the following:

“The exercises included many training activities that focus on methods of organizing cooperation in the implementation of combat missions in the sea against hostile marine formations with the actual use of weapons in engagement with surface and air targets in addition to the implementation of confrontational battles, with the use of aircraft.”

The statement further said:

“The training showed the professionalism of the crews of ships in carrying out combat missions with accuracy and high efficiency, with a focus on common coordination points between all the common elements.”

It added that “these drills come in the framework of supporting the pillars of joint cooperation between the Egyptian and French armed forces, and identifying the latest fighting systems and methods in a manner that contributes to honing skills and combat and operational experiences and supporting efforts of maritime security, stability and peace in the Mediterranean.”

This is a show of force at a time when Egypt and France, alongside Greece and Cyprus are opposed to Turkey over its interference in Libya, but mostly due to the agreement it signed with Libya’s Government of National Accord.

The agreement allows Turkey to extract resources from Libya’s EEZ in the Mediterranean Sea.

In the face of the actions of Turkey, France and Egypt had a recent rethinking of their relations, which have apparently grown closer in the face of a “common enemy.”

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RIPPLE EFFECTS: GREECE AND TURKEY OPEN NEW NORTHERN FRONT ON LIBYAN CONFLICT

Source

 25.07.2020 

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Greece’s navy has declared a state of heightened alert and deployed ships to the Aegean Sea in response to a Turkish vessel conducting seismic surveys for energy exploration purposes close to a disputed maritime area.

On Tuesday the Greek foreign ministry issued a formal protest to Turkey following the announcement that a Turkish drilling ship would conduct explorations in the maritime area south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo in the south eastern Aegean. The foreign ministry also released a statement:

We call on Turkey to immediately cease its illegal activities, which violate our sovereign rights and undermine peace and security in the region.”

Following Turkey’s rejection of the protest, the Greek Navy has sent ships to patrol in the area.

“Navy units have been deployed since yesterday in the south and southeastern Aegean,” a navy source told AFP, declining to give further details.

Athens has stated that Turkish surveys in sections of the Greek continental shelf constitute an escalation of the tension in the region where the two countries dispute the boundary of their respective maritime areas. LINK

Experts cited in media reports have interpreted Turkey’s conduct as designed to test Greece’s determination to defend its interests in the eastern Mediterranean region, and believe that the Turkish leadership’s moves may also be linked to the Libyan conflict. According to this interpretation of the latest developments, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apparently seeks to “test” the reaction of his opponents. LINK

A report in Xinhua suggests that Greece’s response is to draw even closer to Egypt. Greece and Egypt have been holding negotiations over the demarcation of an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, however the boundaries of the area they are discussing overlaps with the area which was subject to a maritime agreement signed by Turkey and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord in Libya late last year (the two parties also signed a military agreement pursuant to which Turkey has sent thousands of fighters and a large amount of weapons and supplies to the Government of National Accord).

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi received a phone call from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday, during which they discussed regional issues, with a focus on the Libyan crisis.

According to the Xinhua report, Sisi expressed Egypt’s opposition to “illegitimate foreign intervention” in Libyan domestic affairs, citing that they would further exacerbate the security conditions in Libya in a way that affects the stability of the entire region, said Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady in a statement.

For his part, the Greek prime minister also voiced rejection of foreign interference in Libya, while highlighting the political course as a key solution for the Libyan issue.

He hailed Egypt’s “sincere efforts” that seek a peaceful settlement to the Libyan crisis, according to the statement.

Over the past few years, the Egyptian-Greek ties have been growing closer, with their growing enmity with Turkey also resulting in them developing a similar position on Libya. The talks between Sisi and Mitsotakis took place just a few days after the Egyptian parliament approved a possible troop deployment in Libya to defend Egypt’s western borders with the war-torn country. LINK

A perceptive analysis of the emerging Turkey-Libya (Tripoli) relations published last month remains just as salient to describe the situation today:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gambled big in Libya and won big – so far. This victory portends important changes in the politics of the Mediterranean, for Turkey has succeeded not only in demonstrating its determination to become the dominant player in the Eastern Mediterranean, but also in showcasing its military prowess and wherewithal. The latter might precipitate a deeper conflict and crisis in the region, extending north toward Greece.

Erdogan threw his support behind the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) against General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which had besieged the GNA’s capital, Tripoli. Haftar suffered a humiliating defeat as Turkish drones, troops, navy vessels and some 10,000 Syrian fighters transported by Ankara to Libya stopped him in his tracks and then forced him to abandon bases and territory. A last-minute call for a ceasefire by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was rejected by the victorious GNA, which has set its aims at capturing other towns, including the critical port city of Sirte.

Indirectly, this was also a defeat for the countries that had backed Haftar: Egypt, the UAE and Russia. The UAE had contributed military equipment and the Russians non-state mercenary forces.

Turkey’s Libya expedition has to be seen from two perspectives. First, the GNA concluded a deal with Ankara that delineated their respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in such a way that it divides the Mediterranean Sea into two sections. Turkey’s purpose is to hinder efforts by Egypt, Cyprus, Israel and Greece to export natural gas, either through a pipeline or on LNG vessels, to Europe. Turkey has aggressively interfered with efforts by these to drill for gas. Ankara claims that most of the waters around Cyprus actually belong to Turkey or to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a country recognized only by Turkey.

However, more important than simply preventing Eastern Mediterranean gas exports is the underlying strategy driving this push against Haftar. From the moment he assumed power in 2003, Erdogan has striven to elevate Turkey’s international role to that of a regional, if not global, power. Initially, his strategy was one of “zero problems with neighbors,” which served to emphasize Turkey’s soft power. The primary driver, however, was the desire for Turkey to assume a hegemonic position over the Middle East. This policy foundered and was essentially buried by the Arab Spring.

What has replaced it is a more aggressive and militarized posture that takes the fight to perceived enemies. That could mean anyone and everyone, since Turks tend to see most countries as a threat, even if they are allies. LINK

While Turkey has bet big and won big so far, it appears that the period of relatively easy victories is over and its aggressive moves are going to face more resistance in future. As Turkey continues to shows no sign of moderating its expansionist claims and manoeuvres, the region is now moving irrevocably towards a catastrophic military clash as Turkey and Egypt have drawn incompatible ‘red lines’ in Libya, with the coastal town of Sirte likely to be the detonator (or possibly the Jufra airbase to the south).

An international agreement promoted by the UN in 2014-2015 established an executive body and a legislative body to govern Libya and pave the way for a more permanent arrangement. However, fundamental disagreements between the two quasi-State organizations resulted in a complete split, with the executive arm becoming the ‘UN-backed’ Government of National Accord based in Tripoli and the House of Representatives relocating to Tobruk (thus the legislative arm is also ‘UN-backed’, though this detail is usually omitted from mainstream media reports).

Turkey has allied itself with the Government of National Accord (GNA), Egypt has allied itself with the House of Representatives (and its armed forces, the Libyan National Army – the LNA – headed by Khalifa Haftar). More generally, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia are invariably reported as supporting the LNA, while the GNA is mainly backed by Turkey and Qatar.

Following the drastic changes on the battlefield over the last two months as the GNA swept the LNA from its positions around Tripoli following a failed attempt to capture the Libyan capital, both Turkey and Egypt have committed themselves to positions that are in direct conflict, indicating that a major armed clash is inevitable unless there is a major diplomatic breakthrough or one of the two sides accepts a humiliating backdown.

Specifically, Turkey and the Government of National Accord are demanding that the Libyan National Army (which recently gave Egypt permission to send its armed forces into Libya) withdraw from the two areas (Sirte and Jufra) and have expressed their determination to take the areas by force if necessary. The Libyan National Army and Egypt have stated that any attempt to capture the two areas will result in Egypt entering Libya in force, which would result in a direct confrontation between Turkey and Egypt. While Egypt has the advantage of sharing a long land border with Libya, in the event of a major conflict air and maritime power could be decisive.

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NATO 2020: A COALITION OF THE UNWILLING

 25.07.2020 

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watsont

The problem with alliances is that they ultimately either become victims of their own success, or cannot figure out what to do with themselves once the original rationale disappears. The original Cold War-era NATO was a relatively cohesive entity led by one of the two superpowers, with most of its members being the industrialized democracies of Western Europe, with West Germany being its eastern-most European member, and alliance planning revolving around USSR. But even then there were cracks in the alliance. Italy, for example, had nearly no role to play as it did not border any Warsaw Pact country and did not practice deploying its forces to West Germany to practice its defense against the anticipated Warsaw Pact invasion. And while Greece and Turkey were ostensibly part of that alliance as well, in practice they spent more time clashing with one another than planning for joint action against USSR.

The end of the Cold War made the problem of alliance cohesion far worse, for two reasons. One, it quickly added as many members as possible thus greatly expanding its geographical extent, and two, it lost that single unifying factor in the form of USSR. Today’s NATO is a patchwork of mini-alliances revolving around the United States which is determined to replace the alliance aspect of NATO which assumes that all members have interests that are to be taken into consideration, by patron-client relationships.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the goal of the United States is global domination. This goal is shared by the entire political elite and major portions of the population, though it is nearly never discussed openly or directly. Instead, it is framed in terms of “American Leadership”, “New American Century”, and of course “American Exceptionalism” which is used to justify any policy that violates international law, treaties, or agreements. Given that every country which has not recognized “American Leadership” is described as a “regime”, there is no indication the US elite is interested in anything resembling peaceful coexistence with other sovereign states.

NATO plays a double role in achieving that goal. First, it is a military alliance that projects military power against anyone refusing to accept “American Leadership”. Military contributions by European member states are certainly important, not least by giving America the veneer of international legitimacy, but the presence of US bases on the European continent is far more so. US forces stationed in or staged out of European naval, air, and land bases are indispensable to its efforts to control the MENA region and to promote the US policy of driving a wedge between Europe on the one hand and Russia and China on the other. Secondly, a European country’s membership in NATO means a sacrifice of considerable portion of its sovereignty and independence to the United States. This is a wholly asymmetrical relationship, since US bases its forces in European countries and sells its weapons to them, not the other way around. The penetration of a European country thus achieved allows US intelligence service to develop agent networks and to employ the full range of lobbying techniques which have been particularly visible in the US efforts to press F-35 aircraft into the hands of NATO member states.

America’s self-appointed task is made not easier or harder by the fact that today’s NATO is therefore fragmented along both geographic and national power lines. The geographical divide is plainly easy to see: Norway and Denmark mainly care about the Arctic, Poland and Romania obsess about Russia, Mediterranean countries freak out about what’s happening in North Africa. The wrangling over sending more troops to Mali or to Estonia is the reflection of the differing security concerns of individual members of the far-flung pact. The power divide is less easy to see but more problematic for Washington. V_3 (A2) Of the European powers, only four—Germany, France, Italy, and Great Britain—may be considered to be powerful and independent political actors with which the US has to contend on anything like an equal basis. The first three form the core of the European Union, whereas Great Britain opted for Brexit, likely in part because of the looming big power struggle between the US and the EU that has the potential of degenerating into a destructive trade war. It is doubtful that the skirmishes over Huawei and North Stream 2 are anything but the opening salvoes in the confrontation over whether the EU will emerge as a political actor independent of the US, or be reduced to a collection of client states. Unfortunately, America’s task is made easier by the fact of the intra-European divisions mentioned above.

United States is pursuing development of several hypersonic missile systems with the aim of ultimately fielding very large numbers of them in order to be able to launch disarming first strikes against Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals. Since the weapons themselves are relatively short-ranged (though that may change once the US allows New START to lapse), they require basing close to their intended targets. That means having to find countries willing to base them in Europe, where it is liable to provoke a  political debate of the magnitude comparable to that of the original Euromissile controversy of the 1980s. Since Germany is not interested in being reduced to the status of a US client, it has resisted the US on a variety of fronts, including the North Stream 2, the refusal to buy F-35s, and now also the lack of desire to host the new US missiles. Even the German defense spending increases are intended at least as much to counter US influence in Eastern Europe as the supposed Russian threat to NATO. The United States has responded using the usual array of tools: economic sanctions on any and all European entities participating in the project and even using the gas, apparently launching a cyber-attack that US-friendly German intelligence promptly blamed on Russia, and also threatening to move US troops out of Germany and possibly to Poland. There is even discussion and rumors that US nuclear weapons stationed in Germany might be moved to Poland.

The outcome of this so far is a power struggle between two NATO allies, US and Germany, over the political alignment of a third—Poland. While Germany has the power of EU institutions on its side and massive economic gravitational pull, US has cultivated a cadre of friends, possibly intelligence assets, as a result of post-9/11 collaboration in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in the realm of intelligence-sharing. This has produced a government more than willing to deploy US troops, missiles, and even nukes on Poland’s territory. The power of US influence is visible in Poland’s weapons procurement: Patriot, Javelin, HIMARS, F-35, and not a single comparable European system in recent years. The US weakness in this confrontation consists of the unwillingness to subsidize Poland economically which, combined with the ruling party’s fiscal irresponsibility, will make it difficult for the country to maintain its anti-German course in the longer term.

While in Eastern Europe US national security state is using Poland as a proxy against Germany, in the Mediterranean it has adopted Turkey as a proxy against France and Italy. After some hemming and hawing, the US hawks dropped the Kurds yet again, with Trump happily taking the blame, in order to piggy-back on Erdogan’s Libya ambitions to curtail French and Italian interests there. To be sure, Turkey retains far more autonomy in the relationship than Poland, which was unable or unwilling to play US and Russia and EU against one another in order to secure a measure of freedom of action. But the US Congress measures to allow the purchase of S-400 weapons from Turkey is an indicator that Turkey’s behavior is once again useful to the US. And even though Turkey was excluded from the F-35 program, its firms continue to make components for various assembly plants. The result has been a number of stand-offs between Turkish warships on one hand and French and Italian on the other off the coasts of Libya. And whereas France and Italy are backing the Marshal Haftar’s LNA, Turkey’s preferred proxy is the GNA, leading to a veritable “anti-Turkey” alliance being formed that includes Turkey’s old time NATO adversary Greece. While the US is officially aloof of the entire situation, in practice controlling Libya’s oil is part of the Washington strategy of “energy dominance” every bit as the North Stream 2 sanctions are.

The remarkable part of these two sets of conflicts among NATO powers is that in both cases Russia has sided with Germany and France against the US in both cases. It is Russia’s policies that are more beneficial to French and German interests than America’s, since Russia is not actually seeking to monopolize energy supplies to Europe in the way that the US clearly and openly is.

So far the US strategy consisted of steadily ratcheting up pressure through sanctions and proxies and occasional intelligence-generated anti-Russia provocations (sometimes helpfully delivered by British agencies), trying to find that happy middle of policies that actually force Germany, France, and Italy to change their policies and which do not force a permanent breach in the trans-Atlantic relationship. But the cracks in the relationship are clearly visible and they are not attributable to Trump’s erratic and brusque manner. It is the US Congress which passed the successive rounds of anti-North Stream 2 sanctions, with strong partisan majorities. It means the assertion of US control over European major powers is part of the US agenda. Since that agenda is motivated by a US political and economic crisis of a magnitude not seen since the 1930s, there is little likelihood Biden’s presidency would represent a radical departure from the current trend.

Of course, for Germany, France, and Italy to successfully resist US encroachment they would first need to transform the EU into something closer than a federation. The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic crisis already providing considerable impetus for such a transformation, America’s insatiable appetites might provide the rest.

Time is Not on Our Side in Libya

Photograph Source: Abdul-Jawad Elhusuni – CC BY-SA 3.0

by VIJAY PRASHAD

JULY 22, 2020

Ahmed, who lives in Tripoli, Libya, texts me that the city is quieter than before. The army of General Khalifa Haftar—who controls large parts of eastern Libya—has withdrawn from the southern part of the capital and is now holding fast in the city of Sirte and at the airbase of Jufra. Most of Libya’s population lives along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, which is where the cities of Tripoli, Sirte, Benghazi, and Tobruk are located.

Haftar, who was once an intimate of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is now prosecuting a seemingly endless and brutal war against the United Nation’s recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and led by President Fayez al-Sarraj. To make matters more confusing, Haftar takes his legitimacy from another government, which is based in Tobruk, and is formed out of the House of Representatives (HOR).

Ahmed says that the quiet is deceitful. Militias continue to patrol the streets along the Salah al-Din Road near where he lives; the rattle of gunfire is anticipated.

On July 8, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres made a statement that could have been delivered at any point over the last decade. “Time is not on our side in Libya,” he announced. He laid out a range of problems facing the country, including the military conflict, the political stalemate between the GNA and the HOR, the numbers of internally-displaced people (400,000 out of 7 million), the continued attempts of migrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea, the threat from COVID-19, and the “unprecedented levels” of “foreign interference.”

The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to send a Fact-Finding Mission to Libya to investigate human rights violations in this war, including the mass graves found in Tarhouna. The credibility of the Council is in doubt. An earlier Commission of Inquiry on Libya set up in 2012 to study war crimes in 2011-2012 was shut down largely because the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) refused to cooperate with the investigation. A second inquiry, set up in March 2015, closed its work in January 2016 with the political deal that created the Government of National Accord.

Guterres did not mention the NATO war in 2011. I am told that he wants to appoint a joint Special Representative with the African Union and he would like a full review of the UN mission. All that is well and good; but it is short of what is necessary: an honest look at the NATO war that broke the country, fomenting a conflict that seems without end.

Foreign Interference

Statements about Libya drip with evasion. These terms—“foreign interference” and “foreign-backed efforts”—are dropped into conversations and official statements without any clarification. But everyone knows what is going on.

I ask Rida, who lives in Benghazi (now under the control of General Haftar), what she makes of these phrases. “We all know what is going on,” she tells me via text. “The government in Tripoli is backed by Turkey and others; while Haftar is backed by Egypt and others,” she writes.

At the core, she says, this is a dispute between two regional powers (Turkey and Egypt) as well as a contest between the Muslim Brotherhood (Turkey) and its adversaries (Egypt and the United Arab Emirates). Wrapped up in all this are contracts for offshore drilling in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, which additionally involved Cyprus and Greece.

It is not enough that this is a regional conflict. There is accumulating evidence that General Haftar is being supported by armed mercenaries (from Russia and Sudan) and by arms shipments from France, while the United States seems to have hedged its bets with support to both sides in the conflict.

Last year, General Haftar’s forces moved swiftly toward Tripoli, but were eventually rebuffed by the intervention of Turkey (which provided the Tripoli government with military aid as well as Syrian and Turkish mercenaries).

In late December, Turkey formally signed a military and security agreement with the Tripoli-based GNA, which enabled Turkey to transfer military hardware. This agreement broke the terms of the UN resolution 2292 (2016), recently reaffirmed in UN resolution 2526 (2020). Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have openly been supplying Haftar.

Now, the forces of the Tripoli government have moved to the central coastline city of Sirte, which has emerged as the key hotspot in this contest.

The Tobruk government, which backs General Haftar, and a pro-Haftar tribes council urged Egypt’s General Abdul Fatah El Sisi to intervene with the full force of the Egyptian armed forces if Sirte falls to the Turkish-backed government. Egypt’s military drill—called Hasm 2020—came alongside the Turkish navy’s announcement of maneuvers off the Libyan coast—called Navtex.

This is a most dangerous situation, a war of words escalating between Turkey and Egypt; Egypt has now moved military hardware to its border with Libya.

Oil

Of course, oil is a major part of the equation. Libya has at least 46 billion barrels of sweet crude oil; this oil is highly valued for Europe because of the low costs to extract and transport it. Countries like the UAE, which are pushing the embargo of Libyan oil, benefit from the withdrawal of Libya, Iranian, and Venezuelan oil from already suppressed world oil markets. Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has stopped oil exports since January; from about 1.10 million barrels per day, Libyan oil production fell to nearly 70,000 barrels per day.

Neither Haftar nor the Government of National Accord in Tripoli can agree on the export of oil from the country. Oil has not left the country for the better part of the past six months, with a loss—according to the NOC—of about US$6.74 billion. General Haftar controls major oil ports in the east, including Es Sider, and several key oil fields, including Sharara.

Neither side wants the other to profit from oil sales. The United Nations has intervened to try and resolve the differences, but so far there has been limited progress. The entire conflict rests on the belief that either side has that it could win a military victory and therefore take the entire spoils; no one is willing to compromise, since any such agreement would mean a de jure partition of the country into its eastern and western halves with the oil crescent divided between the two.

Demilitarized Zone

UN Secretary-General Guterres has surrendered to reality. In his recent statement on Libya, he listed a series of “de-escalation efforts, including the creation of a possible demilitarized zone”; this “demilitarization zone” would likely be drawn somewhere near Sirte. It would effectively divide Libya into two parts.

Neither Ahmed nor Rida would like their country to be partitioned, its oil then siphoned off to Europe, and its wealth stolen by oligarchs on either side. They had misgivings about Muammar Qaddafi’s government in early 2011; but now both regret the war that has ripped their country to shreds.Join the debate on FacebookMore articles by:VIJAY PRASHAD

Vijay Prashad’s most recent book is No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism (New Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2015).

Azerbaijan – Armenia Clashes: Why Tovuz? And Why Now?

Azerbaijan – Armenia Clashes: Why Tovuz? And Why Now?

By Mohammad Noureddine, Al-Akhbar

After Syria, Libya, and Iraq, a new front opens in a region with direct relationship with Turkey. On July 11, artillery clashes broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which, according to Azerbaijan, resulted in the killing of 100 Armenians. Though, Armenia denied this and admitted the killing of four members of the army, Baku, for its part, admitted the killing of 11 Azerbaijanis, including two officers. This was the first clash between the two countries since the “Four Day War” in 2016.

In principle, relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan were seen as one people in two countries, and the national bond that unites them was stronger than sectarian disparity: Shiites in Azerbaijan and Sunni in Turkey. Turkey and Azerbaijan represent a strong base for American and Atlantic interests, in addition to the presence of a robust “Israeli” intelligence against Iran in Azerbaijan.

Although some Turkish opposition parties disagree with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on more than one foreign policy dossier, they meet with him in standing with Azerbaijan, on a national basis. Accordingly, the Parliament’s main parties issued a joint statement denouncing what they described as an Armenian attack on Azerbaijan. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu fully supported Azerbaijan, while Erdogan described Armenia’s actions as an attempt beyond its limits. In the light of this, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Minister of Defense and Commander of the Air Force, Ramiz Tahirov, met Turkish Minister of Defense Khulusi Akar in Ankara.

Nevertheless, many observers in Turkey portray different and foggy environment concerning the objectives of the recent escalation and the position of both, Ankara and Moscow:

  • Talks regarding the conflicts in power in Azerbaijan, that President Ilham Aliyev and his deputy and wife Mehriban Aliyeva, are seeking to get rid of the old guard, who stands in the way of improving relations with the Russian Federation. Hence, Foreign Minister Aldar Mamedyarov was sacked and replaced by Gihon Bayramov. Mehriban had visited Russia last fall in the framework of strengthening ties with Moscow, and President Vladimir Putin awarded her with the “Order of Friendship”. The recent clashes came as an opportunity to get rid of opposition to President Aliyev in the Azerbaijani interior.

In this context, “Khabar Turk” newspaper’s Chettener Chiten said Russia believes that facing the United States’ attempts to isolate the country from the region in Libya, the eastern Mediterranean and the Caucasus cannot happen by just establishing good relations with Armenia, but it is necessary to establish good relations with Baku as well. Hence, Russia’s sale of the S-300 missile system to Baku was to develop relations between both parties.

  • What caught the observers’ attention, including former Turkish ambassador in Baku Unal Cevikoz, is the site of the clash in the Azerbaijani Tovuz region. The site is located on the Armenia and Azerbaijan borders, directly and geographically far from the Karabakh region, and is therefore not related to the Karabakh conflict. Cevikoz saw this as a potential cause of tension between Turkey and Russia, where Turkey should take diplomatic steps and contain the situation before things get worse. Tovuz is also close to the Georgian border; among its strategic advantages is that the famous Baku – Tbilisi – Ceyhan oil and gas pipeline, the main railway and the highway connecting Baku and Tbilisi all run next to it.

Tovuz is not a disputed region between Azerbaijan and Armenia, unlike other regions in Karabakh and beyond. This means that the recent tension exceeds with its objectives the previous traditional factors. Retired military analyst, Onal Atabay, said concerning the Tovuz’s strategic location, that it was in Russia’s interest to widen the front line against Turkey, which is pressing Russia in Libya, Syria and the eastern Mediterranean. Drawing the pressure on Turkey by moving the Caucasus Front is appropriate, given that Turkey may not be able to afford to open several fronts at once, so the Caucasus front will be a bargaining chip in the hands of Russia towards Turkey and the US concerning the Libyan dossier.

There is no doubt that Russia is the strongest in the Caucasus conflict, given that the relations between Baku and Ankara are not stable, as the latter, according to writer Murat Yatkin, observes cautiously the Russian-Azerbaijani rapprochement. So Turkey is satisfied today with carrying out military flights on the border with Armenia, providing logistic and advisory assistance, and not responding in a way that might draw it into a war it is not ready for. Likewise, Turkey is not very comfortable with the Azerbaijani position and is hesitating, as a result, believing that Baku is playing a double game: it speaks with Ankara in Turkish and with Moscow in Russian, as Fahmy Tashkent notes in the daily “Gazette Dwar”.

  • What Russia might target in triggering the Tovuz front is pressure on Turkey and Azerbaijan over the Baku Ceyhan pass line near Tovuz and the possibility of disrupting it under the pretext of military operations. This would deal a severe blow to economic cooperation between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia, and after them the United States; knowing that Russia, like Armenia, is very damaged by this line, which is an alternative to Russian oil and gas pipelines and marginalizes Armenia and deprives it of financial returns and outward orientation if the line runs through its territory. Faruk Logoglu, former Turkish ambassador to Baku [1996-1998], believes that Russia is not interested in stabilizing the Caucasus so that Armenia and Azerbaijan will need Russia and its mediations.
  • And given the good relationship between France and Armenia, the former is not far from exerting pressure on Turkey, which has been in turn challenging France, for months, in the eastern Mediterranean and Libya, as well as the West by turning the Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

So far, developments are not on the verge of escalation. And messages from one side or the other have been received. Now, light has been shed to the fate of other fronts, especially Libya, and whether Tovuz’s messages will be received.

EGYPTIAN PARLIAMENT AUTHORIZES POSSIBLE DEPLOYMENT OF TROOPS TO LIBYA

Source

21.07.2020

Egyptian Parliament Authorizes Possible Deployment Of Troops To Libya

Egypt’s parliament on Monday unanimously approved the deployment of armed forces abroad if necessary to defend Egypt’s national security following the rapid expansion of Libya’s Turkey-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which appears to be preparing for a major assault to capture the key coastal city of Sirte.

The stage is set for a dramatic escalation of the conflict in Libya, which appears to be certain to occur if the armed forces of the Government of National Accord and its major ally Turkey attempt to capture Sirte. They appear determined to do so, notwithstanding repeated warnings by Egypt’s president that Egypt will join the battle in force if this occurs.

Under Egypt’s constitution, the president, who is the supreme commander of the Armed Forces, shall not declare war or deploy troops outside the country without first seeking the opinion of the National Defence Council and the approval of a two-thirds majority of MPs.

Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament, the House of Representatives, has already granted permission for Egypt to deploy its armed forces in Libya if deemed necessary. Now, the Egyptian Parliament has cleared the way for any future deployment by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

In an official statement following a closed-door session, the parliament said it “unanimously approved sending elements of the Egyptian armed forces in combat missions outside the borders of the Egyptian state to defend the Egyptian national security in the western strategic front against the acts of criminal militias and foreign terrorist elements until the forces’ mission ends.”

“The Egyptian nation, throughout history, has advocated for peace, but it does not accept trespasses nor does it renounce its rights. Egypt is extremely able to defend itself, its interests, its brothers and neighbours from any peril or threat.”

“The armed forces and its leadership have the constitutional and legal licence to determine when and where to respond to these dangers and threats.” LINK

The decision was announced several days after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said Egypt “will not stand idle” in the face of any attack on Sirte, which he earlier described as a “red line” for Egypt’s national security and warned it would prompt military intervention by Cairo.

President El-Sisi also met with Libyan tribal leaders on 16 July in Cairo, where they called on the Egyptian Armed Forces “to intervene to protect the national security of Libya and Egypt.” El-Sisi said that Egypt “will quickly and decisively change the military situation” in Libya if it intervenes, adding that the Egyptian Army is one of the strongest in the region and Africa.

Earlier in July, the Egyptian Armed Forces conducted an exercise near Libya’s border. The drills, codenamed Resolve 2020, took place in the north-western district of Qabr Gabis, about 37 miles from the Libyan border.

The parliament also reviewed the outcomes of a meeting on Sunday of the country’s National Defence Council (NDC) headed by El-Sisi. The closed-door session was also attended by Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Alaa Fouad and Major General Mamdouh Shaheen, assistant minister of defence.

The statement of the NDC after Sunday’s meeting declared that Egypt seeks to stabilise the current situation in the field and not to cross declared lines — referring to the Libyan cities of Sirte and Al-Jafra — with the aim of bringing about peace between all Libyan parties.

“Egypt will spare no efforts to support the sister Libya and help its people to bring their country to safety and overcome the current critical crisis, grounded in the fact that Libya is one of the highest priorities for Egypt’s foreign policy, taking into account that Libyan security is inseparable from Egyptian and Arab national security.”

The NDC affirmed commitment to a political solution to put an end to the Libyan crisis, in a manner that maintains its sovereignty and national and regional unity, eliminates terrorism, and prevents the chaos of criminal groups and extremist armed militias. It also asserted the importance of limiting illegal foreign interference that contributes to aggravating the security situation and threatens neighbouring countries and international peace and security.

The meeting of the National Defence Council also discussed ongoing trilateral negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia concerning the latter’s Renaissance Dam Project.  LINK

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محظوران أميركيّان في حروب الأمم على ليبيا؟

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تتوارى السياسة الأميركية خلف دول مرتبطة بها تتقاتل بِعنف شديد في ميادين ليبيا. فتبدو وكأنها محايد في هذه الحرب التي تغطي مساحات ليبيّة ضخمة تصل بين حدود مصر والبحر الأبيض المتوسط وتونس والجزائر وبعض جهات أفريقيا السمراء.

لماذا يختبئ الأميركيون عسكرياً في ليبيا وهم الذين يهاجمون عسكرياً أو بواسطة منظمات عرقية وإرهابية في أفغانستان والعراق وسورية والصومال واليمن والسودان وينشرون قواعدهم في معظم جزيرة العرب والأردن وتمخر بوارجهم وأساطيلهم بحار المنطقة من دون استثناء.

بداية يجب إسقاط فرضية عدم الحاجة الأميركية إلى ليبيا، التي تمتلك أكبر ثروات من الغاز والنفط وموقع استراتيجي هام يطل على البحر المتوسط الذي تتقاتل الأمم من أقصى الأرض على سواحله وأعماق مياهه التي تحتوي خزاناً كبيراً من موارد الطاقة.

للتوضيح فإن الدول المنخرطة عسكرياً تشمل تركيا وروسيا وفرنسا وإيطاليا والسعودية والإمارات مع إسناد مصري وجزائري. هذا إلى جانب القوتين الليبيتين الأساسيتين، دولة السراج في الغرب ودولة حفتر في الشرق مع بعض الإطلالات الإنجليزية والألمانية والصينية الخجولة.

إنها إذاً حرب عالميّة على ليبيا لربط صلة بثرواتها من جهة وبالصراع على البحر المتوسط من جهة أخرى.

فهل يمكن للأميركيين أن يغيبوا عن الوليمة الليبية الدسمة؟

لم يذكر التاريخ القريب عن أي ضمور في الشهية الاستعمارية الأميركية التي تمزق العالم على جثث ملايين المدنيين في شتى أنحاء الأرض من أجل الهيمنة الاقتصادية.هذه ليست تهمة افتراضية، بل حقيقة يعيشها حتى اليوم الكثير من الناجين.

لذلك فإن الغياب الأميركي في التدخل العسكري المباشر في ليبيا، يرتبط بفشل التدخلات الأميركية المباشرة في أفغانستان والعراق وسورية وكثير من دول أخرى.

وبما أن الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية أصبحت على بعد ثلاثة أشهر فقط (تشرين الثاني)، فهذا يعني أن أي تدخل عسكري أميركي مباشر لن يكون أكثر من تورط من دون إمكانية عقد أيّ حل مع الدول المتنازعة في ساحات ليبيا.

فالأميركيّ القادر على التعاقد هو رئيس باقٍ في منصبه لسنوات عدة على الأقل.

وبما أن الرئيس الأميركي الحالي ترامب المرشح لولاية جديدة لا يريد هدراً لدماء أميركية جديدة في ليبيا تنعكس فوراً على وضعه الانتخابي، فارتأى القتال من الخلف.

هذا إلى جانب القوى المختلفة المتورطة في حروب ليبيا، تحاول الاستفادة مما تسميه وقتاً ضائعاً يأتي عادة قبل الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية بأشهر عدة، وتعتقد أن الاتفاق حول ليبيا لن يكون إلا مع الرئيس الجديد.

لذلك تذهب الدولة الأميركية العميقة إلى التدخل بإدارة الحروب في الميدان الليبي إنما من خلال مشاركات الدول الصديقة وبناء على محظورين أنتجتهما بدقة لمنع أي خلل أو طارئ في هذه الحرب.

ضمن هذا الإطار يجب فهم عدم الممانعة الأميركية القاسية على التدخل العسكري التركي في ليبيا، وعدم رفضها لنقل أنقرة قوات إرهابية في ميادين سورية إلى ليبيا.

هذا الصمت على تورط أردوغان الليبي مطلوب من النفوذ الأميركي لاستكمال مشهد الصراع، ضد التدخل الروسي، وهذا من الأسباب التي ترعى فيها واشنطن تدخلاً عسكرياً مصرياً في ليبيا، وتبدو حذرة من احتمالات تدخل جزائري فيها.كما أن التدخل السعوديّ الإماراتيّ هو أيضاً بدعم أميركي، فتصبح حروب ليبيا، أميركية من جهة تركيا وأميركية من جهة مصر والسعودية والإمارات ولها علاقة نسبية بالتدخل الفرنسي – الإيطالي – اليوناني فيها.

أي أن الأميركيين يضبطون الأطراف المتقاتلة في حروب ليبيا من جهتيها المتقاتلتين ولا يخرج عن نفوذهم إلا شركة «فاغنر» الروسيّة التي توالي السياسة الروسية.

هذا ما جعل وزير الخارجية الأميركي بومبيو يحذّر من الهيمنة الروسية على ليبيا، لكن الروس ينفون علاقتهم بالشركة مضيفين بأن الغرب الأوروبي – والأميركي سرق ليبيا من نفوذهم السوفياتي – الروسي عندما قتل رئيسها السابق معمر القذافي فاتحاً أبواب فوضى عميقة في معظم صحاريها وبحارها.

الروس إذاً هم الوحيدون الذين يخرجون عن النسق الأميركي لحرب ليبيا، وهذا سبب إضافي يضاف إلى حاجات واشنطن باستمرار إدارة الحرب.

هناك إذاً محظوران أميركيان يؤكدان على أن الإدارة الأميركية تريد تأجيل حسم ما في ليبيا أو توقيع هدنة مع الطرف الروسي.

المحظور الأول هو ضرورة مراوحة الحرب عند خط جبهة سرت النفطي واندلاعها بشكل حاد في مختلف المناطق الأخرى.

أما المحظور الثاني فيتعلق بمنع أي حسم في هذه الحرب انتظاراً لاستكمال الانتخابات الرئاسيّة الأميركيّة.هذان المحظوران هما اللذان فرضا على الدولة الأميركية العميقة الاستنجاد بالرئيس المصري السيسي ليرسل جيشه إلى منطقة ليبية من الحدود مع مصر حتى جبهة مدينة سرت.

بذلك يطوّق التدخل الروسي من جهة ويتواصل القتال في عموم ليبيا من جهة ثانية، وذلك للزوم التفرغ الأميركي المقبل لإدارة اقتسام الغنائم على الساحة الليبية بين أميركيين أولاً، يليهم الأتراك والأوروبيون وبعض الفتافيت المتساقطة لمصر السيسي والكثير من الولاءات السياسية على سبيل الوجاهة والمعنويات للإمارات والسعودية.فهل يقبل الروس بهذا الأمر؟

قد يتم إقناعهم بشيء من التعاقد لشركاتهم في ميادين النفط والغاز، مقابل احتمال آخر صاعد يرى أن ليبيا مقبلة عن «كنتنة» كبيرة لأن مساحتها تصل إلى مليون وأربع مئة ألف كيلو متر مربع لشعب لا يصل إلى خمسة ملايين نسمة، تزعم تركيا أن بينهم نحو مليون من التركمان، ينتمي إليهم السراج حاكم دولة غرب ليبيا حالياً.

يتبين بالاستنتاج أن حرب ليبيا طويلة بقرار أميركي يمنع توقفها وحسمها في آن معاً، وهي قابلة للتقاسم لافتقارها إلى دولة وطنية قوية على المنوال السوري تجسد الطموحات الفعلية لأهلها، فحفتر أميركي – مصري – روسي – سعودي – وإماراتي – وأوروبي فهل بقي مكان عنده لليبيا؟

كذلك فإن منافسه السراج إخواني – تركي من أصول تركمانية تعود إلى عصر الإنكشارية الذين كان يحتلون ليبيا فأين ليبيا من انتماءاته؟

يبدو أن حلفاً روسياً – جزائرياً مع تيارات ليبية شعبية هو الحل الوحيد لمنع تحويل ليبيا إلى أشلاء تنهشها الأمم وتحذفها من تاريخ الدول، لتصبح مشيخات تعود إلى عصر الإبل والنوق وسط تصفيق سعودي إماراتي يصر على ربط العرب بالقرون الوسطى ومسابقة أجمل بعير في سباق الهجن.

Conflict Looms for Egypt and Ethiopia Over Nile Dam

Source

Conflict Looms for Egypt and Ethiopia Over Nile Dam - TheAltWorld
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cunningham_1-175x230.jpg

Finian Cunningham Former editor and writer for major news media organizations. He has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages

July 17, 2020

Ethiopia appears to be going ahead with its vow to begin filling a crucial hydroelectric dam on the Nile River after protracted negotiations with Egypt broke down earlier this week. There are grave concerns the two nations may go to war as both water-stressed countries consider their share of the world’s longest river a matter of existential imperative.

Cairo is urging Addis Ababa for clarification after European satellite images showed water filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Ethiopia has stated that the higher water levels are a natural consequence of the current heavy rainy season. However, this month was designated by Addis Ababa as a deadline to begin filling the $4.6 billion dam.

Egypt has repeatedly challenged the project saying that it would deprive it of vital freshwater supplies. Egypt relies on the Nile for 90 per cent of its total supply for 100 million population. Last month foreign minister Sameh Shoukry warned the UN security council that Egypt was facing an existential threat over the dam and indicated his country was prepared to go to war to secure its vital interests.

Ethiopia also maintains that the dam – the largest in Africa when it is due to be completed in the next year – is an “existential necessity”. Large swathes of its 110 million population subsist on daily rationed supply of water. The hydroelectric facility will also generate 6,000 megawatts of power which can be used to boost the existing erratic national grid.

Ominously, on both sides the issue is fraught with national pride. Egyptians accuse Ethiopia of a high-handed approach in asserting its declared right to build the dam without due consideration of the impact on Egypt.

On the other hand, the Ethiopians view the project which began in 2011 as a matter of sovereign right to utilize a natural resource for lifting their nation out of poverty. The Blue Nile which originates in Ethiopia is the main tributary to the Nile. Ethiopians would argue that Egypt does not give away control to foreign interests over its natural resources of gas and oil.

Ethiopians also point out that Egypt’s “claims” to Nile water are rooted in colonial-era treaties negotiated with Britain which Ethiopia had no say in.

What makes the present tensions sharper is the domestic political pressures in both countries. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is struggling to maintain legitimacy among his own population over long-running economic problems. For a self-styled strong leader, a conflict over the dam could boost his standing among Egyptians as they rally around the flag.

Likewise, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is beset by internal political conflicts and violent protests against his nearly two years in office. His postponement of parliamentary elections due to the coronavirus has sparked criticism of a would-be autocrat. The recent murder of a popular singer-activist which resulted in mass protests and over 100 killings by security forces has marred Abiy’s image.

In forging ahead with the dam, premier Abiy can deflect from internal turmoil and unite Ethiopians around an issue of national pride. Previously, as a new prime minister, he showed disdain towards the project, saying it would take 10 years to complete. There are indicators that Abiy may have been involved in a sinister geopolitical move along with Egypt to derail the dam’s completion. Therefore, his apparent sudden support for the project suggests a cynical move to shore up his own national standing.

Then there is the geopolitical factor of the Trump administration. Earlier this year, President Donald Trump weighed in to the Nile dispute in a way that was seen as bolstering Egypt’s claims. Much to the ire of Ethiopia, Washington warned Addis Ababa not to proceed with the dam until a legally binding accord was found with Egypt.

Thus if Egypt’s al-Sisi feels he has Trump’s backing, he may be tempted to go to war over the Nile. On paper, Egypt has a much stronger military than Ethiopia. It receives $1.4 billion a year from Washington in military aid. Al-Sisi may see Ethiopia as a softer “war option” than Libya where his forces are also being dragged into in a proxy war with Turkey.

Ethiopia, too, is an ally of Washington, but in the grand scheme of geopolitical interests, Cairo would be the preferred client for the United States. Up to now, the Trump administration has endorsed Egypt’s position over the Nile dispute. That may be enough to embolden al-Sisi to go for a showdown with Ethiopia. For Trump, being on the side of Egypt may be calculated to give his flailing Middle East policies some badly needed enthusiasm among Arab nations. Egypt has the backing of the Arab League, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Egypt has previously threatened to sabotage Ethiopia’s dam. How it would do this presents logistical problems. Egypt is separated from Ethiopia to its south by the vast territory of Sudan. Cairo has a strong air force of U.S.-supplied F-16s while Ethiopia has minimal air defenses, relying instead on a formidable infantry army.

Another foreboding sign is the uptick in visits to Cairo by Eritrean autocratic leader Isaias Afwerki. He has held two meetings with al-Sisi at the presidential palace in the Egyptian capital in as many months, the most recent being on July 6 when the two leaders again discussed “regional security” and Ethiopia’s dam. Eritrea provides a Red Sea corridor into landlocked Ethiopia which would be more advantageous to Cairo than long flights across Sudan.

Nominally, Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a peace deal in July 2018 to end nearly two decades of Cold War, for which Ethiopia’s Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. However, the Eritrean leader may be tempted to dip back into bad blood if it boosted his coffers from Arab money flowing in return for aiding Egypt.

There will be plenty of platitudinous calls for diplomacy and negotiated settlement from Washington, the African Union and the Arab League. But there is an underlying current for war that may prove unstoppable driven by two populous and thirsty nations whose leaders are badly in need of shoring up their political authority amid internal discontent.

رسائل «الفتح الثاني»: آيا صوفيا بوابة إردوغان إلى «العالميّة»

رسائل «الفتح الثاني»: آيا صوفيا بوابة إردوغان إلى «العالميّة»
ما يحاوله إردوغان هو الانتقاص من هالة مصطفى كمال أتاتورك شخصيّاً (أ ف ب )

الأخبار

محمد نور الدين 

الإثنين 13 تموز 2020

لا تشبه «لحظة آيا صوفيا» أي حادثة أخرى في تاريخ سلطة حزب «العدالة والتنمية». كانت لحظة تحمل ذهنية قومية – دينية بامتياز، اختزلها إردوغان، بخطبته العثمانية، مساء السبت. وإذا كانت عمليات «صغيرة»، مثل «درع الفرات» أو عفرين أو «نبع السلام» أو إدلب، أو حتى ليبيا، بابَ إردوغان إلى العرب، فإن آيا صوفيا كانت بوابته إلى العالمبالتأكيد، كان الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان يعرف مسبقاً بقرار مجلس الشورى. فكل الأعضاء يدورون في فلك حزب «العدالة والتنمية»، لذا جاء القرار بالإجماع. وبناءً على ذلك، أصدر إردوغان فوراً مرسوم تحويل متحف آيا صوفيا إلى جامع. وبعد ساعات قليلة، كان يوجّه «خطبة الفتح الثانية للقسطنطينية» للأتراك والعالمين المسيحي والمسلم. خطبة ما كانت لتُستولد كما جاءت عليه لولا أيام وأسابيع من الغوص في التاريخ جهد خلالها كاتبوها لإقناع الجمهور بـ«الشرعية» التاريخية والفقهية لقرار اعتبار آيا صوفيا مسجداً.

بخطوة إلغاء وضع آيا صوفيا متحفاً وتحويله إلى جامع، يتحدى إردوغان الجميع.

على الصعيد الداخلي:

1-

هي خطوة ضمن مسار بدأ مع إردوغان من أجل تعزيز الطابع الديني للدولة والمجتمع، والذي كان التعليم أحد مجالاته الأساسية. وهو مسار متدرج لن يتأخر كثيراً في الإعلان عن بلوغه خط النهاية في وقت ليس ببعيد. وقد طفق الكتّاب المتدينون يقومون بحملة واسعة دفاعاً عن الخطوة، معتبرين القرار كسراً للأغلال التي كبّلوا بها تركيا منذ مئة عام، فيما أوعزت رئاسة الشؤون الدينية إلى كل الجوامع في تركيا لإقامة صلاة الشكر على استعادة جامع آيا صوفيا. كذلك تجرى الاستعدادات لتغيير معالم آيا صوفيا من الداخل وطمس الأيقونات والرسوم وغير ذلك من رموز دينية مسيحية (عبر تكنولوجيا ضوئية) ليكون المكان ذا مظهر ديني إسلامي صرف.

2-

هي ضربة أخرى لمسار العلمنة الذي أرساه مصطفى كمال أتاتورك. وكل خطوة تضيف إلى خطة التديين هي خطوة تنقص تلقائياً من العلمانية. وما يحاوله إردوغان خصوصاً هو الانتقاص من هالة مصطفى كمال أتاتورك شخصياً و«شيطنته» في مختلف المجالات باعتباره رمزاً للعلمنة في تركيا كما في العالم الإسلامي. وقد انتقد عدد كبير من المؤرخين والحقوقيين قرار مجلس الشورى. ورأى المؤرخ حقي أويار أن القرار هو ضربة لـ«القيم المؤسّسة للجمهورية»، ولا يحل مشكلة بل يفاقم مما هو قائم ولا يخدم سوى التلاعب بمصير البلاد.

هي خطوة ضمن مسار من أجل تعزيز الطابع الديني للدولة والمجتمع


3-

لا تبعد خطوة إعادة آيا صوفيا جامعاً عن حسابات داخلية يتقن إردوغان حبك خيوطها. فإردوغان، وقد أصبح ذلك معروفاً، يعزف على الأوتار القومية والدينية والمذهبية عشية كل استحقاق انتخابي. ومع أن الانتخابات الرئاسية المقبلة ستكون بعد 3 أعوام، إلا أن احتمال إجرائها في وقت أبكر ليس مستبعداً. وكما أضاف إردوغان إلى جعبته «إنجاز ليبيا» (حتى الآن على الأقل) معززاً قاعدته القومية، ها هو يضيف «إنجاز آيا صوفيا» معززاً قاعدته الدينية وممسكاً بورقتين مهمتين.

4-

تقع الخطوة في إطار حرف الأنظار عن المشكلات الاقتصادية التي تواجهها تركيا، ولا سيما بعد أزمة «كورونا». وتقول الكاتبة في صحيفة «جمهورييت» ألتشين بويراز، إن إردوغان تجاهل الأوضاع الصعبة وتراجع النمو وكبت الحريات وازدياد البطالة والجريمة وهرب إلى خطوة مثيرة لإلهاء الناس عن مشكلات البلاد الحقيقية.

بالطبع، هاتان الورقتان وحدهما غير كافيتين لفوز إردوغان بالرئاسة من جديد، فهناك الورقة الاقتصادية الأهم، لكنهما تشكلان إضافة قد تكون مؤثرة على نتائج الانتخابات الرئاسية.


أمّا على الصعيد الخارجي:

1-

منذ تحويل قضية آيا صوفيا إلى جامع، إلى مجلس الشورى، توالت ردود الفعل الخارجية، المسيحية تحديداً. وجاءت المناشدات مجمعة على ضرورة عدم اتخاذ مثل هذه الخطوة التي تزيد من تأجيج الحساسيات الدينية بين تركيا والغرب وبين المسلمين والمسيحيين. وجاءت المناشدات والتحذيرات من الأرثوذكس كما من الكاثوليك. مع ذلك، لم يعر إردوغان أذناً صاغية لكل النداءات. وقد انتقد زعيم حزب «الديموقراطية والتقدم» الخطوة قائلاً إن آيا صوفيا ميراث ثقافي مشترك لكل العالم، معتبراً أن تركيا تمر اليوم في «نفق مظلم».

خرج إردوغان في لحظة انتشائه باللحظة الليبية، الموجهة ليس فقط إلى مصر والخليج بل إلى اليونان وقبرص اليونانية وفرنسا وروسيا، ليضع نفسه لاعباً إقليمياً ودولياً مؤثراً. لكنه، بخطوة تمسّ رمزاً دينياً وحضارياً عالمياً مثل آيا صوفيا، تطلّع إردوغان ليضع نفسه في موقع الزعيم العالمي.

2-

ليست مصادفة أن يحدد إردوغان يوم الجمعة في 24 تموز/ يوليو موعداً لافتتاح الصلاة في «الجامع الجديد». فهو كان سيحدد هذا التاريخ لهذا الموعد سواء كان نهار جمعة أو أحد. ففي هذا التاريخ في عام 1923 وُقّعت معاهدة لوزان بين تركيا والقوى الكبرى، والتي رسمت الحدود الجغرافية والحضارية والاجتماعية لتركيا الجديدة. وقد أراد إردوغان من إعادة آيا صوفيا جامعاً رسالة، إلى القوى الكبرى، بأنّ العد العكسي لإلغاء المعاهدة، التي اعتبرها إردوغان في صيف 2016 هزيمة، بدأ.

There Is a Dark and Dangerous Forest Behind These Burning Trees…

Source

 • JULY 14, 2020


Roughly half-way through the year 2020 it is becoming pretty obvious that there are a number of major developments which almost got our total attention, and for good reason, as these are tectonic shifts which truly qualify as “catastrophe” (under the definition “a violent and sudden change in a feature of the earth“). These are:
  • The initiation of the global collapse of the AngloZionist Empire.
  • The immense economic bubble whose ever-growing size is the best predictor of the magnitude of the huge burst it will inevitably result in.
  • The implosion of the US society due to a combination of several and profound systemic crises (economic collapse, racial tensions, mass poverty, alienation of the masses, absence of social protections, etc.).
  • The COVID-19 (aka “it’s just like the seasonal flu!!“) pandemic which only exacerbates all the other major factors listed above.
  • Last, but not least, it is hard to imagine what the next US Presidential election will look like, but one thing is certain: by November we will already have a perfect storm – the election will only act like a battery which will feed even more energy into this already perfect storm.
To be sure, these are truly momentous, historical, developments whose importance cannot be over-stated. They are, however, not the only very serious developments. There are, in fact, several areas of serious political tensions which could also result in a major explosion, albeit a regional one “only”!
I will list just a few, beginning with the most visible one:

Turkey

Erdogan is up to no good. Again. What a big surprise, right? Every time I hear somebody writing something about Erdogan the dreaming of becoming the sultan of a new Ottoman Empire, I tend to roll my eyes as this is a cliche. Yet, there is no denial that this cliche is true – the neo-Ottoman ideology is definitely alive and well in Turkey and Erdogan clearly wants to “ride that horse”. So let’s list some of the things which the Turks have been up to:
  1. Syria: The Turks have clearly been dragging their feet in northern Syria where, at least according to the deal Erdogan made with Putin, the “bad terrorists” should have left a long time ago and the key highway should have been under the joint protection of the Russian and Turkish forces. Well, Turkey did some of this, but not all, and the “bad terrorists” are still very much present in northern Syria. In fact, they recently tried to attack the Russian Aerospace Forces base in Khmeimim (they failed, but that is still something which the Turks have to answer for since the attack came from a zone they control). Protecting terrorists in exchange for promises of immunity from their attacks has been tried many times in the past and it has never worked – sooner or later the terrorist groups always slip out of the control of their masters and even turn against them. This is now happening to Turkey.
  2. Libya: The Turks are also deeply involved in the Libyan civil war. In fact, “deeply involved” does not give enough credit to the Turkish military which used Turkish-made drones with devastating effectiveness against the forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, the commander of the Tobruk-based Libyan National Army (which is backed by both Russia and Egypt). Only the prompt (and rather mysterious) deployment of Russian air defenses and a number of unidentified MiG-29s succeeded in eventually bringing down enough Turkish drones to force them to take a pause. The Egyptians have made it clear that they will never allow the so-called “Government of National Accord” to take Sirte or any land East of Sirte. The Libyan Parliament (of East Libya) has now given Egypt the official authorization to directly intervene in Libya. This makes some kind of Egyptian intervention an almost certain thing.
  3. Hagia Sophia: And just to make sure there are enough sources of tension, the Turks have now declared that the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul will no longer be a museum open to all, but a mosque. Now the CIA-puppet modestly known as “His Most Divine All-Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch” Bartholomew should be the most vocal opponent to this move, but all he can do is mumble some irrelevancies (he wanted to go down as the Patriarch who patronized the Ukrainian schism and, instead, he will go down in history as the Patriarch who did nothing to prevent the Ottomans from seizing one of the holiest sites of the Orthodox world. Truth be told, he probably could not have prevented that (Erdogan’s move is entirely due to upcoming elections in Turkey) – but he sure could have tried a little better. Ditto for the head of the Moscow Patriarchate (and, for that matter, the Russian government) who expressed stuff like concern, or dismay, of some form of condemnation, but who really did nothing to make Erdogan pay for his move.
What the Turks just did is a disgrace, not only for Turkey itself which, yet again, proves that the Ottoman version of Islam is a particularly toxic and dangerous one. It is also a disgrace for the entire Muslim world which, with a few notable exceptions such as Sheikh Imran Hosein, has done nothing to prevent this and, if anything, has approved of this move. Finally, this is a disgrace for the entire Orthodox world as it proves that the entire worldwide Orthodox community has less relevance and importance in the eyes of the Turkish leader than the outcome of local elections. Russia, especially, would have the kind of political muscle needed to inflict all sorts of painful forms of retaliation against Turkey and yet Russia does nothing. This is a sad witness to the extreme weakness of the Orthodox faith in the modern world.
Add to this all the “traditional” sources of instability around Turkey, including the still unsolved (and unsolvable!) Kurdish issue, the tensions between Turkey and Iraq and Iran, Turkish low-key support for anti-Russian factions in the various former Soviet Republics and the constant confrontation with Greece).
Turkey remains one of the most dangerous states on the planet, even if most people remain unaware of this. True, in the recent years Turkey lost a lot of its power, but it still has plenty of formidable assets (including a very strong domestic weapon systems manufacturing capability) which it can use for a vast spectrum of nefarious political and military interventions.

Egypt

Egypt is another country which regularly makes some headlines and then disappears from the public’s radar. Yet, right now, Egypt is faced not with one, but with twopossible wars!
  1. Libya: as I mentioned above, should it come to an open clash between Turkey and Egypt in Libya, there could be a rapid horizontal escalation in which initial military clashes in Libya could turn into clashes over the Eastern Mediterranean and even possible strikes on key military objectives in Turkey and Egypt. The only good news here is that there are a lot of major actors who do not need a shooting war in the Eastern Mediterranean and/or the Middle-East. After all, if it came to a true military confrontation between Turkey and Egypt, then you can be pretty sure that NATO, CENTCOM, Greece, Israel and Russia would all have major concerns. Besides, it is hard to imagine what kind of military “victory” either Turkey or Egypt could hope for. Right now the situation is very tense, but we can hope that all the parties will realize that a negotiated solution, even a temporary one, is preferable to a full-scale war.
  2. Ethiopia: Egypt has a potentially much bigger problem than Libya to deal with: the construction by Ethiopia of the “The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam(GERD)” on the Blue Nile river. While nobody really knows what the eventual impact of this dam will be on Sudan and Egypt, is is pretty clear that a civilization built along the Nile river will face a major threat to its way of life if the way the Nile river flows is disturbed in a major way (which this dam will definitely do).
Of the two possible conflicts I mentioned above, it is the second one which has me most worried. At the end of the day, neither Turkey nor Egypt will get to decide what happens in Libya which is mostly a kind of multi-player “chessboard” where “big guys” (US, France, Russia) will eventually decide the outcome. In the case of the dam in Ethiopia, the local actors will probably have a decisive say, especially since both sides consider that this is an existentially important issue for them.
If you look at a map of the region, you will see that the distance between the Egyptian border and the location of the dam on the border between Ethiopia and Sudan is a long one (about 1’200km or 745 miles). Should it come to a military confrontation between the two countries, this distance will pretty much decide the shape of the warfare we shall see: mainly air and missile strikes. The main problem here (for both sides) is that neither side has the kind of air force or missiles which would allow it to effectively strike the other country. This, however, could change very rapidly, especially if Russia does sell 24 of its advanced Su-35 multi-role air superiority fighters to Egypt, and even more so if Russia throws in a few capable air-to-ground strike missiles into the package (the delivery of the first Sukhois appears to be imminent). Then there is this “minor detail” of Sudan being stuck between the two combatants: Khartoum simply cannot look away and pretend like all is well if two of its major neighbors decide to fight each other over Sudanese airspace.
In theory Egypt could also try to mount some attack from the Red Sea, but right now the Egyptian Navy does not pack the kind of punch which would allow it to effectively strike Ethiopia (especially with Eritrea in between the Red Sea and Ethiopia). But that could also change, especially since Egypt agreed to purchase the two Gamal Abdel Nasser (ex-Mistral) class amphibious assault ships and helicopter carriers which, while not ideal, would definitely boost the Egyptian’s command and control capabilities, especially if the Egyptians succeed in deploying AWACS and strike aircraft (rotary or even light fixed wing V/STOL) on these ships. In practice, however, I think that the Egyptians could engage these ships much more effectively in Libya than they would in the Red Sea (especially since these ships are poorly defended against missile strikes).
Finally, not only is the GERD defended by decent air defense systems (along with a few decent, if aging, air force aircraft), a dam is a pretty hard target to disable: it is big, strong, and has a large volume which, by itself, also contributes to the “hardness” against attacks.
So there are reasons to hope that a conflict can be avoided, but it will be very hard to get the two sides to agree to compromises on issues which both sides see as vital to their national security.

The Ukraine

Yes, the Ukraine. Again. This insanity which began with the Euromaidan has not stopped, far from it. In fact, ever since the election of Zelenskii the Ukraine has become something of a madhouse which would be outright hilariously comical if it wasn’t also so tragic and even horrible for millions of Ukrainians. I will spare you all the details, but we can sum up the main development of the past months as “Zelenskii has completely lost control of the country”. But that would not even begin to cover the reality of this situation.
For one thing, the war of words between Trump and Biden over the Ukraine-gate has now “infected” the Ukrainian political scene and each side is now busy with what is known locally as “black PR”: trying to dig up as much dirt against your opponent as possible. Zelenskii is so weak that, amazingly, the previously almost totally discredited Poroshenko has now made a strong comeback and thereby acquired the support of a lot of influential nationalists. The latest incredible (but true!) “informational bomb” was set off by a member of the Ukrainian Rada, Andrei Derkach, who released a recording of Joe Biden and Poroshenko discussing the pros and cons of organizing a terrorist attack in Crimea (see here for details about this amazing story). This makes both Biden and Poroshenko “sponsors of terrorism” (hardly a surprise, but still). Other “juicy” news stories about the Nazi-occupied Banderastan include Zelenskii possibly fathering a kid with an aide and the brutal attacks on the members of a small (but growing) “Sharii” opposition party which the authorities not only ignored, but most likely ordered in the first place. It is not my purpose here to discuss all the toxic intricacies of internal Ukronazi politics, so I will only look at one of the major dangers resulting from this dynamic: there is talk of war with Russia again.
Okay, we have all heard the very same rumors for years now, and yet no real and sustained Ukrainian attack on the LDNR or, even less so, Crimea ever took place (there were constant artillery strikes and diversionary attacks, but those remain below the threshold of open warfare). But what we hear today is a little bit different: an increasing number of Ukrainian and even Polish observers have declared that Russia would attack this summer or in September, possibly using military maneuvers to move forces to the Ukrainian border and attack. Depending on whom you ask, such an attack could come from Belarus and/or from central Russia – some even worry about a Russian amphibious operation against the Ukrainian coastline and cities like Mariupol, Nikolaev, Kherson or Odessa.
The Ukronazis are truly amazing. First they cut off all the electricity and even water from Crimea, and then they declare that Russia will have to invade to retake control of the water supply. The notion that Russia will solve Crimea’s water problem by peaceful and technological means is, apparently, quite unthinkable for the Ukronazi leaders. In the real world, however, Russia has a comprehensive program to comprehensively solve Crimea’s water problems. This program has begun by laying down water pipes, improving of the irrigation system of Crimea, the use of special aircraft to trigger rain and might even include the creation of a desalination plant. The simple truth is that Russia can easily make Crimea completely independent from anything Ukrainian.
And just to make things worse, the head of the Ukrainian Navy (which exists on paper mostly) has now declared that a new Ukrainian missile, the Neptune, could reach as far as Sevastopol. The problem is not the missile itself (it is a modernized version of an old Soviet design, and it is slow and therefore easy to shoot down), but the kind of “mental background noise” that this kind of talk of war creates.
From a purely military point of view, Russia does not even have to move any troops to defeat the Ukrainian armed forces: all Russia needs to do is to use its powerful long-range stand-off weapons and reconnaissance-strike complexes to first decapitate, then disorganize and finally destroy the Ukrainian military. Russia’s superiority in the air, on the water and on land is such that the Ukrainians don’t have a chance in hell to survive such an attack, nevermind defeating Russia. The Ukrainians all know that since, after all, their entire military could not even deal with the (comparatively) minuscule and infinitely weaker LDNR forces (at least when compared to regular Russian forces).
Still, the Ukrainians have one advantage over Russia: while this would be extremely dangerous to try, they must realize that, unlike in the case of their attacks on the Donbass, should they dare to attack Crimea, President Putin would not have any other option than to order a retaliatory strike of some sort. Any Ukrainian attack or strike on Crimea would probably fail with all the missiles intercepted long before they could reach their targets, but even in this case the pressure on Putin to put an end to this would be huge. Which means that it would not be incorrect to say that whoever is in power in Kiev can force Russia to openly intervene. This means that in this specific case the weaker side can have at least some degree of escalation dominance.
Now the Ukraine definitely cannot achieve strategic surprise and is even most unlikely to achieve tactical surprise, but, again, the actual success of any Ukrainian strike on Crimea does not require the designated targets of the strike to be destroyed: all that would be needed, in some plans at least, is the ability to do two things:
  • Force Russia to openly intervene and
  • Choose the time, place and mode of attack most problematic for the Russian side
Finally, I would suggest that we look at this issue from the point of view of the AngloZionist Empire: in many, if not most, ways, the Banderastan the West created in the Ukraine has outlived its utility: the USN won’t get a base in Crimea which is now lost forever (it is now one of the best defended places on the planet), Russia has not openly intervened in the civil war, the Ukronazi forces were comprehensively trounced by the Novorussians and in economic terms, and the Ukraine is nothing but one big black hole with an ever growing event horizon. Which might suggest to some in the US ruling elites that to trigger a losing war against Russia might be the best (and, possibly, only) thing their ugly creation could do for them. Why?
Well, for one thing, such a war will be bloody, even if it is short. Second, since the Russians are exceedingly unlikely to want to occupy any part of what is today the Nazi-occupied Ukraine, this means that even a total military defeat would not necessarily result in a complete disappearance of the current Banderastan. Yes, more regions in the East and the South might try to use this opportunity to rise up and liberate themselves, and should that happen Russia might offer the kind of help she offered the Novorussians, but I don’t think that anybody seriously believes that Russian tanks will be seen on Kiev or, even less so, Lvov (nevermind Warsaw or Riga). So a military loss against Russia would not be a total loss for Banderastan and it might even yield some beneficial dynamics to whatever consolidated Ukronazi-power might come out from such a conflict. Actually, should that happen I fully expect the Ukronazis to declare a kind of jihad to liberate the Moskal’ -occupied Ukraine. This means that the initial bloodbath would be followed by a festering low to medium level military conflict between Russia and the Ukraine which could last a very long time and also be most undesirable for Russia.
During my studies I had the honor and privilege to study with a wonderful Colonel of the Pakistani Army who became a good friend. One day (that was around 1991) I asked my friend what the Pakistani strategy would be during a possible war against India. He replied to me: “look, we all know that India is much stronger and bigger than Pakistan, but what we all also know is that if they attack us we can give them a very bloody nose”. This is exactly what the Ukrainian strategy might be: to give Russia a “bloody nose”. Militarily, this is impossible, of course, but in political terms any open war against the Ukraine would be a disaster for Russia. It would also be a disaster for the Ukraine, but the puppet-masters of the Ukronazis in Kiev don’t care about the people of the Ukraine anymore than they care about the people of Russia: all they want is to give the Russians a big bloody nose.
In summary, here is one possible scenario which might result in a regional catastrophe: whoever is in power in the Ukraine would begin by realizing that the project of an Ukronazi Banderastan has already failed and that neither the EU nor, even less so, the US is willing to continue to toss money into the Ukie black hole. Furthermore, clever Ukie politicians will realize that neither Poroshenko nor Zelensii have “delivered” the expected “goods” to the Empire. Then the East-European US vassal-states (lead by Poland and the Baltic statelets) also realize that EU money is running out and that far from having achieved any real economic progress (nevermind any “miracle”), they are also becoming increasingly irrelevant to their masters in the EU and US. And, believe me, the political leaders of these US vassal-states have realized a long time ago that a war between Russia and the Ukraine would be a fantastic opportunity for them to regain some value in the eyes of their imperial overlords in the EU and US. To people who think like these people do, even an attempted Neptune strike against Sevastopol would be a quick and quite reasonable way to force Putin’s hand.
Lastly, we can now look at the situation in Russia

Russia

One would think that following the massive victory the Kremlin has achieved with the vote on the changes to the Russian Constitution, the political situation in Russia would be idyllic, at least compared to the sinking Titanic of the “collective West”. Alas, this is far from being the case. Here are some of the factors which contribute to a potentially dangerous situation inside Russia.
  1. As I have mentioned in the past, besides the “official” (pretend) opposition in the Duma, there are now two very distinct “non-system” oppositions to Putin: the bad old “liberals” (which I sometimes call the 5th column) and the (relatively new) “pink-nationalist” Putin-haters which I christened, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I admit – as a 6th column (Ruslan Ostashko calls them “emo-Marxists“, and that is a very accurate description too). What is so striking is that while Russian 5th and 6th columnists hate each other, they clearly hate Putin even more. Many of them also hate the Russian people because they don’t “get it” (at least in their opinion) and because time and again the people vote with and for Putin. Needless to say, these “5th and 6th columnists” (let’s call them “5&6c” from now on) declare that the election was stolen, that millions of votes were not counted at all, while others were counted many times. According to these 5&6c types, it is literally unthinkable that Putin would get such a high support therefore the only explanation is that the elections were rigged. While the sum total of these 5&6c types is probably not enough to truly threaten Putin or the Russian society, the Kremlin has to be very careful in how it handles these groups, especially since the condition of the Russian society is clearly deteriorating:
  2. Russia has objective, real, problems which cannot simply be dismissed. Most Russians clearly would prefer a much more social and economically active state. The reality is that the current political system in Russia cares little for the “little man”. The way the Kremlin and the Russian “big business” are enmeshed is distressing to a lot of Russians, and I agree with them. Furthermore, while the western sanctions did a great job preparing Russia for the current crisis, it still remains true that Russia does not operate in such a favorable environment, revenues are down in many sectors, and the COVID19 pandemic has also had a devastating effect on Russian small businesses. And while the issue of the COVID19 virus has not been so hopelessly politicized in Russia has it has in the West, a lot of my contacts report to me that many people feel that the Kremlin and the Moscow authorities have mismanaged the crisis. So while the non-systemic opposition of the 5&6c cannot truly threaten Russia, there are enough of what I would call “toxic and potentially dangerous trends” inside the Russian society which could turn into a much bigger threat should a crisis suddenly erupt (including a crisis triggered by an always possible Ukrainian provocation).
  3. More and more Russians, including Putin-supporters, are getting frustrated with what they perceive as being a lame and frankly flaccid Russian foreign policy. This does not necessarily mean that they disagree with the way Putin deals with the big issues (say Crimea, or Syria or the West’s sabre-rattling), but they get especially frustrated by what they perceive as lame Russian responses against petty provocations. For example, the US Congress and the Trump Administration have continued to produce sanctions and stupid accusations against Russia on a quasi-daily basis, yet Russia is really doing nothing much about that, in spite of the fact that there are many options in her political “toolkit” to really make the US pay for that attitude. Another thing which irritates the Russians is that arrogant, condescending and outright rude manner in which western politicians (and their paid for journalists in Russia) constantly intervene in internal Russian matters without ever being seriously called out for this. Sure, some particularly nasty characters (and organization) have been kicked out of Russia, but not nearly enough to really send a clear message Russia’s enemies.
  4. And, just to make things worse, there are some serious problems between Russia and her supposed allies, specifically Belarus and Kazakhstan. Nothing truly critical has happened yet, but the political situation in Belarus is growing worse by the day (courtesy of, on one hand, the inept policies of Lukashenko and, on the other, a resurgence of Kazakh nationalism, apparently with the approval of the central government). Not only is the destabilization of two major Russian allies a bad thing in itself, it also begs the question of how Putin can deal with, say, Turkey or Poland, when Russia can’t even stabilize the situation in Belarus and Kazakhstan.
To a large degree, I share many of these frustrations too and I agree that it is time for Putin and Russia to show a much more proactive posture towards the (eternally hostile) West.
My problem with the 5th column is that it is composed of rabid russophobes who hate their own nation and who are nothing but willing prostitutes to the AngloZionist Empire. They want Russia to become a kind of “another Poland only further East” or something equally insipid and uninspiring.
My problem with the 6th column is that it hates Putin much more than it loves Russia, which is regularly shows by predicting either a coup, or a revolution, or a popular uprising or any other bloody event which Russia simply cannot afford for two main reasons:
  1. Russia almost destroyed herself twice in just the past century: in 1917 and 1991. Each time, the price paid by the Russian people was absolutely horrendous and the Russian nation simply cannot afford another major internal conflict.
  2. Russia is at war against the Empire, and while this war remains roughly an 80% informational/ideological one, about 15% an economic one and only about 5% a kinetic war, it remains that this is a total, existential, war for survival: either the Empire disappears or Russia will. This is therefore a situation where any action which weakens your state, your country and its leader always comes dangerously close to treason.
Right now the biggest blessing for Russia is that neither the 5th nor the 6th column has managed to produce even a halfway credible political figure who at least appears as marginally capable of offering realistic solutions. A number of 5th columnists have decided to emigrate and leave what they see as “Putin’s Mordor”. Alas, I don’t see any stream of 6th columnists leaving Russia, which objectively makes them a much more useful tool for outfits like the CIA who will not hesitate to infiltrate even a putatively anti-US political movement if this can weaken Russia in general, or Putin personally.
Right now the Russian security services are doing a superb job countering all these threats (including the still very real Wahabi terrorist threat) all at the same time. However, considering the rather unstable and even dangerous international political situation, this could change if all the forces who hate Putin and what they call “Putinism” either join forces or simply strike at the same time.

Conclusion

There are, of course, many other potential flashpoints on the planet, including India, Pakistan and China, the South China Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Korean Peninsula and many others. Thus the above is only a sampling of a much larger list.
The huge changes taking place before our eyes are real, and they are huge. But we should not follow the lead of the corporate media and focus on only one or two “hot” topics, especially not when there are plenty of very real dangers out there. This being said, there is no doubt that what will happen in the next couple of months inside the United States is by far the biggest and most important development out there, one which will shape the future of our planet no matter what actually happens. And I am not referring to the totally symbolic non-choice between Biden and Trump.
I am referring to how the US society will deal with a virulently anti-US coalition of minorities which hate this country and everything, good and bad that it stood for in the past. Right now the US elites are committing national suicide by not only failing to oppose, but also by actively supporting the BLM thugs and everything they stand for: BLM & Co. remind me of Ukronazis whose main expression of national identity is to hate everything Russian – the BLM thugs do the same thing: their entire worldview is pure hatred of the hetero White male and the western civilization; and just as the Ukies regale each other with stories about the “ancient Ukrs” the BLM folks imagine that they will somehow turn the US into a type Wakanda before expelling (or worse) all those who are not willing to hand over their country to roaming gangs of illiterate thugs.
While Russia has to face the potential of internal violence, the United States is already facing a dangerous and violent insurrection which is likely to become much worse as the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic fully explodes. So far, the effects of this crisis have been somewhat tempered by a combination of 1) political denials about the nature of the threat (“oh, nonsense, it is just like the seasonal flu!“) 2) the mass distribution of money (which has only helped temporarily) 3) the existence of a huge financial bubble which will only make matters worse, but which temporarily can create the illusion that things are not nearly as bad as they really are.
It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. This is true. It is also true that the collapse of the Empire has now created several vacuums which will be filled by new actors, but there is no guarantee at all that this transition will be peaceful. So while we are watching some very big trees burning, we should not forget that behind these trees there is a big forest which can also burn, possibly creating a much bigger forest fire than the trees we see burning today.

Eastern-Based Libyan Parliament Gives Green Light to Egyptian Army to Interfere in Libyan Conflict

Egyptian army members wearing protective face masks, amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) complete a new area at the Ain Shams field hospital prepared to receive COVID-19 patients in Cairo, Egypt June 16, 2020

Source

 13.07.2020

CAIRO (Sputnik) – The eastern-based Libyan parliament, which supports the Libyan National Army (LNA), has given go-ahead to the Egyptian armed forces to intervene in the Libyan conflict.

In early June, Egypt put forward the Cairo peace initiative, outlining a path for a political settlement in Libya and calling for warring parties to cease fire since 8 June. The proposal was welcomed by the Arab League, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but was rejected by the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Turkey.

“We call for joint efforts between the two brotherly nations – Libya and Egypt – in order to defeat the occupier and maintain our common security and stability in our country and region,” the statement read.

It added that the parliament “welcomes the words of the Egyptian President, spoken in the presence of representatives of Libyan tribes.”

“The Egyptian armed forces have the right to intervene to protect Libyan and Egyptian national security if they see an imminent threat to the security of our two countries,” the statement added.

Last week Egyptian armed forces conducted an exercise near Libya’s border. The drills, codenamed Resolve 2020, took place in the northwestern district of Qabr Gabis, some 37 miles (60 kilometres) away from the Libyan border.

Libya has been suffering from internal conflict since its long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011. At the moment, the east of the country is ruled by the parliament, while the west is controlled by the Tripoli-based Government of GNA, which was formed with the help of the United Nations and the European Union. The authorities in the east cooperate with the LNA, which has been attempting to take control of Tripoli.

Related

Lebanon economic crisis: Sovereignty and solidarity are the keys to prevent collapse

Source

9 July 2020 11:14 UTC | 

By Hicham Safieddine, He is a lecturer in the History of the Modern Middle East at King’s College London. He is author of Banking on the State: The Financial Foundations of Lebanon (Stanford University Press, 2019).

As the US ramps up financial pressure, a political struggle is underway over whether Lebanon should turn eastwards to China, Russia and Iran for relief

Lebanese protesters take part in a symbolic funeral for the country in Beirut on 13 June (AFP)

Lebanon has joined the club of sanctioned nations by proxy. Limited sanctions were already in place, but the US Caesar Act targeting Syria has cast its net over Lebanon’s entire economy. 

The country’s crumbling financial system had been gasping for fresh foreign funds. It is now stuck between the anvil of morbidly corrupt Lebanese elites obstructing reform, and the hammer of financial coercion by western powers.

On top of accelerating inflation that has rippled into Syria, the spectre of sanctions in the wake of failed International Monetary Fund talks has triggered a political tussle inside Lebanon over turning eastwards to China, Russia and Iran for relief.

Wedded to the West

This is not the first time that Lebanon has been unhinged by shifts in the global and regional balances of power. But it is one of the most dangerous crises. Sanctions on top of financial bankruptcy, oligarchic manipulation, regional instability, coronavirus and a global slump, are a recipe for total collapse.

There is no denial of the impending calamity. But the undignified media spectacle of apocalyptic suffering, divorced from a serious discussion of the tough choices Lebanon faces, borders on sanctions-mongering and accentuates this very suffering.

Aside from being a historic fiction, Lebanese neutrality today is wishful thinking

The first choice is clinging to the West and forgetting the rest through negative neutrality. In real terms, this means passive normalisation with Israel and active distancing from Syria, both of which meet western expectations. Aside from being a historic fiction, Lebanese neutrality today is wishful thinking. 

Firstly, calls for neutrality underestimate the nature and extent of the ongoing geo-economic war, of which the Caesar Act is the latest salvo. Having lost the proxy war militarily, Washington is flexing its powerful financial muscle – powered by dollar supremacy in global markets – to spoil reconstruction efforts in Syria by its lesser rivals, Russia, China and Iran. 

More broadly, financial sanctions are now a fixture of US foreign policy, with the majority of affected states in the Middle East. These sanctions are part of a multi-front war that involves tertiary actors such as Turkey, Egypt and the Gulf states and are tied to reconstruction in Iraq and Syria, geo-military rivalries in Yemen and Libya, settler-colonial expansion in Palestine, and control over gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean. Lebanon is engulfed by these conflicts from all four cardinal directions.

Political suicide

Secondly, neutrality vis-a-vis Syria in particular is economic euthanasia and political suicide given the two countries’ shared borders, common history, interdependent economies, joint threat of Israeli aggression, oligarchic and authoritarian governing elites, and – as these sanctions have shown – converging financial crises. 

Neutrality would cut Lebanon off from its only land lifeline to Syria and the wider region at a time when air and sea travel are grounded thanks to Covid-19. It would also revive animosity between the two peoples while doing little to alleviate the crisis or topple ruling elites. 

Lebanon protests: We should not let the ruling class reproduce itself again Read More »

In addition, western powers continue to play the game of double standards, feigning concern while tightening the noose. While Washington slapped criminal sanctions on the entire population of Lebanon, its ambassador in Beirut singled out the usual suspect, Hezbollah, for destabilising the country. The accusation was parroted by her British counterpart, while a sniffer dog at London’s Heathrow Airport – as this author witnessed firsthand – frisked Lebanese expatriates carrying much-needed cash back home. Travellers caught “red-handed” were interrogated without cause. 

To top it off, Gulf states within the western orbit are also withholding aid while awash with trillions of dollars in sovereign funds.

Finally, US allies themselves, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are anticipating a decline in the global role of the US. More to the point, European states, as well as the US, have multibillion-dollar trade and financial ties with China and the rest of the east – but they have no qualms about denying Lebanon and the region their sovereign share of ties.

Going East

Despite these realities, resistance to seeking eastern alternatives persists. Dependency on western and Gulf capital runs deep within Lebanese society, beyond the banking and business sectors. 

The private education and NGO sectors, home to large segments of highly visible pro-uprising activists, are heavily reliant on western funding. These material ties are augmented by an internalised cultural affinity to all things western and prejudice against all things eastern. Some resistance is also driven by a blind rejection and immature ridicule of any proposals uttered by status-quo forces.

A man walks past a money exchange company in Beirut on 1 October (AFP)
A man walks past a money exchange company in Beirut on 1 October (AFP)

In theory, turning eastwards increases bargaining power vis-a-vis the West, diversifies sources of foreign investment, and could offer practical and quick solutions to pressing problems such as power generation, waste management and transportation infrastructure. But in reality, it is not the easy way out it is being portrayed to be.

Firstly, its current proponents reduce the turn eastwards to a tool against western intervention that would strengthen ties with the Syrian regime without holding the latter accountable for its role in the killing, displacement and destruction in Syria, or curbing the stranglehold of Syrian oligarchs associated with the regime on the country’s economic future. 

Nor is the turn eastwards preconditioned by cleaning house in Lebanon itself. The oligarchs who looted public wealth for so long will not bear the costs of financial loss, let alone face justice for their crimes. Without these corrective measures, Chinese or other foreign investments are likely to turn into dividing up the spoils of sanctions. It will reinforce existing structures of oppression, clientelism and inequality.

Secondly, Chinese capital is not manna from heaven or a communist free lunch. Reports of plans for nine development projects worth more than $12bn sound promising and may offer some respite, but these come with strings attached.

They include possible privatisation of state assets, government guarantees to compensate potential losses that will ultimately come out of citizens’ pockets, continued – even if partial – reliance on dollar-based banking systems, and access to energy resources, which in the case of Lebanon are confined to potential energy reserves in a hotly contested sea zone. 

Sovereignty deficit

Formal state-to-state protocols are preconditions for all of the above, the same way they are for requesting legal assistance to return stolen assets deposited in Switzerland or other offshore financial havens. 

Whether turning west, east or inwards, fixing Lebanon’s political regime is crucial to restoring external and internal sovereignty

Government decrees are also needed internally to to implement the basic demands of the uprising and resolve the crisis in a fair and expedited manner. These include legislating capital controls, forcing the oligarchs and their banking agents to bear the costs of collapse, implementing universal healthcare, redistributing wealth through progressive taxation, clearing up violations of coastal beaches to revive tourism in a competitive neighbourhood, reforming unjust labour and personal status laws, and subsidising productive economic activity. 

In other words, whether turning west, east or elsewhere, fixing Lebanon’s political regime is crucial to restoring external and internal sovereignty, without which major change is unlikely to happen.

Since its founding, Lebanon has had a sovereignty deficit in relation to foreign powers and its ruling oligarchy. It is now facing the twin challenge of restoring both amid unfavourable conditions. 

The path to sovereignty does not place all foreign actors in the same basket. Aware of its own economic limitations and position as part of the Global South, and in the face of US threats, Lebanon should adopt a strategy of positive neutrality that plays on the contradictions of the ongoing geo-economic war to maximise the gains of its people – not its usurping elites or neocolonial masters, old or prospective. 

Dignity and social justice

Fighting for sovereignty on both fronts, external and internal, in the face of global powers, requires the mustering of tremendous political strength. This is not possible without a well-organised mass movement that is still missing in Lebanon, let alone the absence of regional solidarity stretching from Iraq to Palestine, which incorporates geopolitics into revolutionary struggle. 

In Lebanon, the starting point is necessarily Syria. Whatever the sensitivities, prejudices and complications associated with Syrian-Lebanese relations, they need to be reconfigured in a manner that serves rather than sidelines the fundamental demands of both uprisings for political dignity and social justice. 

Lebanon protests: The people want the downfall of the banks Read More »

This includes, first and foremost, confronting the contradictions of fighting against the two major historical forces impacting them today: oppressive regimes on the one hand and Zionist colonisation and occupation on the other.

All proclamations to the contrary, this is not a straightforward matter given the alignments on the ground. 

Another would be redrawing the terms of struggle across class, rather than nationalist, lines. This means finding common cause with Syrian and Palestinian workers in Lebanon, beyond the liberal paradigm of refugee rights, as well as uniting efforts to dislodge the ruling elite in both countries without further foreign intervention.

A third would be a united vision of managing the global shift from West to East in coordination with fellow Global South nations.

Devising solutions to these and other thorny issues that are both morally defensible and politically viable is not an obvious or easily achievable task. But with street mobilisation on the wane and community solidarity in the face of hardship taking a front seat, they may be the necessary rites of passage for both struggles beyond the current stalemate.

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

في مواجهة «صفقة القرن» ومخرجاتها

معن بشور

نعقد على مواقع التواصل الالكتروني على مدى يومي السبت والأحد في 11 و 12 تموز/ يوليو الحالي «الملتقى العربي: متحدون ضدّ صفقة القرن وخطة الضم» بدعوة من ستة هيئات عربية (المؤتمر القومي العربي، المؤتمر القومي/ الاسلامي، المؤتمر العام للأحزاب العربية، اللقاء اليساري العربي، الجبهة العربية التقدمية، مؤسسة القدس الدولية) ويشارك في الملتقى أعضاء الأمانات العامة لهذه الهيئات وقادة فصائل المقاومة والاتحادات المهنية العربية وشخصيات محدودة من فلسطين والأردن بما يجعل الملتقى جامعاً لممثلين عن معظم مكونات العمل الشعبي العربي، ومن غالبية تياراته الفكرية والسياسية في تحدّ واضح ليس لـ «جائحة الكورونا» ومتطلبات مواجهتها فحسب، بل في تحدّ للمشروع الصهيو/ أميركي الذي يسعى الى تجزئة الأمة، وتقسيم كياناتها الوطنية، وتشظي مجتمعاتها وقواها الشعبية، ليتمكن من تنفيذ كلّ مخططاته الرامية الى نهب موارد أمتنا وتعطيل مشروعها النهضوي وضرب مقوماتها الروحية والمادية…

واذا كانت المبادرة بعقد هذا الملتقى قد جاءت من المغرب، من خلال شخصية بارزة لها باع طويل في النضال من أجل فلسطين وقضايا الأمة، وهو المناضل خالد السفياني المنسّق العام للمؤتمر القومي الإسلامي وأمين عام مؤسسة المفكر الكبير الراحل الدكتور محمد عابد الجابري، فإنّ التجاوب السريع معها قد جاء من أقطار الوطن العربي كافة، كما من تيارات الأمة المتنوعة، والتي باتت تدرك انّ المدخل السليم لمواجهة التحديات الضاغطة على حاضر الأمة ومستقبلها إنما يكمن بتلاقي تياراتها النهضوية كافة وتجاوز كلّ الجراح الأليمة التي أصابت العلاقات بينها في ظلّ مراجعة نقدية جريئة وصادقة ومنزهة لا مكان فيها لتبرير أخطاء وخطايا وقعنا بها، او للتشهير ببعضنا البعض وتحويل ماضي العلاقات بيننا الى سجن نبقى في أسره بدلاً من أن يكون مدرسة نتعلم منها…

وإذا كان التحرك المباشر للدعوة الى هذا الملتقى، كما الى الملتقى المماثل السابق في بيروت في 7/7/2019، هو التصدي لـ «صفقة القرن» بالأمس ولخطة الضمّ الصهيونية اليوم التي لا ينبغي اعتبار تأجيل الإعلان عنها – رغم انّ التأجيل هزيمة لنتنياهو وداعميه في واشنطن – إسقاطاً لها، فإنّ المشاركين في هذا الملتقى، يدركون، رغم تباين المواقف الفكرية والسياسية بينهم، انّ لـ «صفقة القرن» مخرجات عدة تمتدّ من المحيط الى الخليج، وأبرزها دون شكّ هو استمرار الحروب على أقطار والاحتراب داخل أقطار أخرى، حيث أثبتت الأحداث الأليمة التي نمرّ بها جميعاً أنّ أحداً من أبناء الأمة قد ربح من هذه الحروب أو الاحتراب، وأنّ الرابح الأكبر هو المشروع الصهيو – استعماري الذي بدأ بالتجزئة ليستمرّ بالتفتيت.

ولعله من بديهيات القول إنّ البداية الحقيقية لـ «صفقة القرن»، إنما بدأت باحتلال العراق، بعد حصار جائر استمر 13 عاماً. وهم يسعون اليوم الى تطبيقه في فلسطين وسورية ولبنان واليمن وصولاً الى الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران.

ولم يكن من قبيل الصدف أن يعلن جورج بوش الابن بعد إتمام مهمته في الحرب على العراق عام 2003، ان مشروع الشرق الأوسط الجديد قد بدأ تنفيذه، والذي هو في نهاية الأمر نسخة مبكرة عن «صفقة القرن»… فلكلّ حاكم في الولايات المتحدة او دول الغرب الاستعمارية مشروعه لـ «صفقة القرن» باسم حلف من هنا، او مشروع من هناك، او قانون من هنا او مخطط من جهة ثانية.

من أول مخرجات الصفقة والضمّ التي باتت واضحة للأردنيّين عموماً، ملكاً وحكومة وشعباً، هو أن يدفع الأردنيون، مع الفلسطينيين، الثمن المباشر للضفقة المشؤومة ولخطة الضمّ، وهو ما يتطلب تنسيقاً قوياً ومتواصلاً بين الأردن وفلسطين. وتماسكاً شعبياً داخلياً يمنح القيادة الأردنية قدرة أكبر على المواجهة.

يتقدّم هذه المخرجات أيضاً، هو ما يشهده لبنان من ضغوطات وحروب وحصار تستهدف تجريده من مصادر قوته والمتمثلة بوحدة شعبه وبمقاومته الباسلة التي حققت في سنوات انتصارات، ما عجزت عنه حكومات ودول وجيوش…

كما يتقدّم هذه المخرجات أيضاً ما تشهده سورية من حرب عليها وفيها، واعتداءات صهيونية وأميركية متواصلة، وصولاً الى «قانون قيصر» الذي يدّعي «حماية المدنيين في سورية» فيما المتضرّر الأكبر منه هو الشعب العربي في سورية الذي يدفع أغلى الأثمان بسبب هذه الحرب الظالمة المفروضة عليه منذ عشر سنوات. بسبب مواقفه القومية التحررية التاريخية تجاه قضايا الأمة كلها، وفي طليعتها قضية فلسطين التي شكلت سورية على الدوام العقبة الكأداء في وجه محاولات تصفيتها كما شكلت والسند المباشر لكلّ حركة مقاومة في وجهها.

من مخرجات هذه الصفقة أيضاً هو ما تشهده مصر من استهداف مباشر لأمنها المائي من خلال سدّ النهضة، وأمنها الوطني من خلال الإرهاب في سيناء، وأمنها القومي من خلال ما يجري في ليبيا… وهذا الاستهداف لا يمكن مواجهته إلا بتعزيز الالتفاف العربي والإسلامي حول مصر، وبذل كلّ جهد ممكن لتعزيز الجبهة الداخلية في القطر العربي الأكبر.

والحرب في اليمن أيضاً، سواء من خلال ما يتعرّض له شماله من عدوان وقصف وتدمير وحصار، او ما يتعرّض له جنوبه من احتراب بين حلفاء، تستخدم ايضاً في إطار خدمة «صفقة القرن» ومعاقبة شعب عظيم، كان وسيبقى، متمسكاً بفلسطين وكل قضايا أمته.

أما تحويل الساحة الليبية الى ساحة حروب إقليمية ودولية، فليس هدفها فقط تدمير بلد عربي، كان شعبه ولا يزال، حريصاً على عروبته وإسلامه وحريته وكرامته، وهي حرب بدأت مع الغزوة الأطلسية قبل تسع سنوات لتستمر اقتتالاً لا يهدّد الأمن الوطني لليبيا، بل هدفها أيضاً استهداف الأمن القومي لشمال أفريقيا، وغربها، لا سيما مصر ودول المغرب العربي التي تسعى المخططات الاستعمارية الى إشعال كلّ أنواع الفتن في ربوعها…

أما دول الخليج والجزيرة العربية، فهي ليست بعيدة عن دائرة الاستهداف، بل انّ المشروع الصهيو – استعماري يدفع الى إغراق بعضها في سياسات محلية وعربية وإقليمية لن تؤدي إلا الى تبديد ما تبقى من مواردها، وابتزاز أكبر قدر ممكن من أموالها، وإشعال الاضطرابات في داخلها، ودفعها لأن تكون القاطرة الأولى في قافلة التطبيع الذي هو في رأس أهداف «صفقة القرن» المشؤومة …

ولعلّ ما يشهده السودان اليوم من استغلال مطالب مشروعة في الحرية والعدالة والكرامة الإنسانية، من أجل إيقاع السودان في مهاوي الصراع الداخلي، والتفكك الوطني، والتطبيع مع العدو، ليس بعيداً عن مخرجات «صفقة القرن» وأهدافها الخبيثة…

وبالتأكيد تبقى تصفية قضية فلسطين هي الهدف، والغاية من هذه الصفقة، والمدخل من اجل ترسيخ التجزئة وتعزيز مشاريع التفتيت في المنطقة، وهو ما يتطلب تعزيز التوجه المبارك لتجاوز الانقسام المدمّر للمشروع الوطني الفلسطيني، وتوحيد الطاقات والجهود الفلسطينية لإطلاق انتفاضة كبرى لن تؤدي الى سقوط «صفقة القرن» ومخرجاتها فقط، بل تؤدي الى دحر الاحتلال عن الأرض الفلسطينية المحتلة وعاصمتها القدس.

وإذا كانت مواجهة «صفقة القرن» ومخرجاتها مهمّة الأمة بكلّ أقطارها فإنّ الردّ الشامل عليها يكمن في تبني لمعادلة الخلاص التي أعلناها بعد احتلال العراق وتقوم على مهمات أربع، 1- مقاومة احتلال الأرض، 2- مراجعة للتجارب والعلاقات بين أبناء الأمة وقواها وتياراتها لنطوّر الإيجابي منها، ونتخلص مما علق بها من شوائب، 3- مصالحة تبني للمستقبل وتخرجنا من سلبيات الماضي، 4- فمشاركة تسمح لكلّ أبناء الوطن المساهمة في تقرير مصيرهم…

«صفقة القرن» إذن ليست المشروع الصهيو – استعماري الوحيد الذي واجهته الأمة، وما تزال، ولن يتوقف الأعداء على إخراج مشاريع مماثلة من أجل سحق أمتنا والقضاء على مستقبلها وآمالها، وتحويلها من أمة قائدة في الإنسانية الى أمة تابعة وذيل للدول الاستعمارية ومقاومة هذه الصفقة اليوم، بكلّ مخرجاتها وفي مقدمها خطة الضمّ الصهيوني تكون بالاستمرار في مقاومة المشروع الصهيو/ استعماري الممتدّة منذ عشرات السسنوات، وفي وحدة الأمة بكلّ أقطارها وتياراتها، فحيث كانت هذه الوحدة تتوفر، كانت المقاومة تنتصر، وحيث كانت تتعثر كانت المقاومة تتراجع.

من هنا، يكتسب ملتقى «متحدون» كخطوة على طريق توحيد الرؤى والجهود أهمية استثنائية في ظروف استثنائية.

الأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي

U.S. has admitted military and political failures in Syria: Russian academic

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July 8, 2020 – 15:26

TEHRAN – An associate professor in the Department of Comparative Politics at RUDN University believes that the United States has admitted its military and political failure in Syria.“The United States recognizes its military and political failure in Syria,” Vladimir Ivanov tells the Tehran Times.Ivanov says Washington’s main goal of overthrowing the Assad government has not been realized. However, the scholar says, Russia, unlike many other foreign powers, “has managed to maintain good (or at least normal) relations with all participants in major regional conflicts.” Following is the text of the interview:

1.    Turkey accuses Russia of increasing its military intervention in Libya. This accusation was made while Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar visited the Libyan capital, Tripoli. What is your comment? 

Recently, the Libyan national army has destroyed Turkish military equipment stationed at a strategically important airbase al-Vatiya. “The U.S. cannot influence the processes in a particular region of the world by military force,” Vladimir Ivanov says. 

The day before, it became known about Ankara’s intention to participate in the Libyan conflict openly. Turkey sides with the Government of National Accord and comes into conflict with France over Libya. 

Turkey is outraged by the attack on the al-Vatiya airbase in Libya, which the Ankara-backed Government of National Accord led by Faiz Saraj recaptured from the Libyan national army of Marshal Khalifa Haftar. 

Ankara tried to establish a military base located 140 kilometers south of Tripoli but deployed Turkish air defense systems (US-made Hawk anti-aircraft missile systems) were damaged in the air attack and couldn’t even protect themselves. 

Although Turkey has not yet openly accused any side of the air raid on al-Watiya, “transparent hints” are being made, that two “external” forces supporting the LNA are behind the strikes: Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, in Arab world several analysts describe the situation as “the UAE has taught a lesson to the Turks”. 

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was in Tripoli July 3 and 4, where he held talks with the military and political leadership of the Government of National Accord. Ankara is going to openly participate and intervene in the conflict in Libya after Faiz Sarraj concluded a defense agreement with the Turkish side. In accordance with the new Treaty, Turkey gets the right to place its military base on the territory of Libya.

2. What is your evaluation of the Astana peace process in regard to the Syria crisis? Was it successful cooperation between Russia, Turkey, and Iran?

For now, it’s obvious that Moscow’s actions in the region were more effective than those of its Western rivals, due to high-quality expert analysis and awareness of the real situation in the Middle East (West Asia). 

While the U.S. leadership often relied on biased assessments of pro-Western dissidents and political immigrants, the Kremlin always had the analytics of professional research scientists, and data from a broad intelligence network on the ground was inherited from the Soviet Union.

According to some experts, Russia (unlike many other foreign powers) has managed to maintain good (or at least normal) relations with all participants in major regional conflicts. Russia did not undertake numerous political and security commitments in the region and, unlike the United States, is not limited in flexibility by any rigid alliances. Thus,  Moscow is in a better position than Washington to serve as a mediator in negotiations between influential actors in the region.

3. How do you assess the presence of U.S. troops in Syria while Washington, besides some Arab capitals, blames Russia and Iran for supporting Assad’s government?

Having lost the confrontation in Syria, the U.S. intends to move to the second phase of aggression – to subversive work, including information. By entering the information war platform, the United States recognizes its military and political failure in Syria. The main goal of overthrowing B. Assad has not been achieved. The U.S. is announcing the deployment of psychological and subversive operations, which they are quite adept at. At the same time, American troops seizure Syrian oil fields. Another thing is that today the United States, as it seems, simply cannot influence the processes in a particular region of the world by military force. We can witness the acute desire of the U.S. government not even to change the regime in Damascus. The main aim for them now is to squeeze Russia out of its strategic position in Syria.

4. American sources claim Russia did pay extremists to attack U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. What is your analysis?

This “information” of American media is a typical fake and has already been officially denied by the American President. Russia has never cooperated with the Taliban and only those who either have a poor understanding of the situation in Afghanistan or deliberately distort the facts speak of any collusion between Moscow and the Taliban. The Afghan radical Taliban movement is conducting its own investigation based on media reports about alleged Russian collusion with the movement and calls these accusations baseless, invented by intelligence, and aimed at damaging the peace process in the country. Press Secretary of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov expressed regret that once the largest and respected world media promoted those fakes. The Russian Embassy in the United States demanded that the country’s authorities respond adequately to threats that come to diplomats because of news about Russia and Afghanistan. The white house, the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence said that there is no confirmation of the reports at the moment and that D. Trump was not informed about them.

WAR PREPARATIONS: EGYPT AND TURKEY KICK OFF LARGE-SCALE DRILLS NEAR LIBYA

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Turkey and Egypt are flexing their military muscles off the Libyan shores as chances of a potential war in the eastern Mediterranean continue growing.

Firstly, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense announced that soon it will hold large-scale naval exercises off the Libyan coast. The official statement said that the drills, called “Naftex”, will take place in three different regions: Barbaros, Turgutreis and Chaka Bey. Turkey says that the exercises will involve 17 warplanes and 8 ships proving “Turkey’s ability to control the region by air and sea”.

The current stalemate on the frontline between pro-Turkish forces and the Libyan National Army, backed up by Egypt and the UAE, near the port city of Sirte did not stop Turkey from sending new weapons and equipment to the frontline. The Turkish military also deployed additional equipment to the al-Watiya Air Base in western Libya. The airbase, which earlier this year became a strongpoint of Turkish forces, was recently bombed by the LNA Air Force. At least one MIM-23 Hawk medium-range air-defense system and a KORAL electronic warfare system of the Turkish military were reportedly destroyed. Pro-Turkish sources claim that the equipment recently deployed to the base included air defense systems that will give the LNA a ‘lesson’.

On July 9, the Egyptian Armed Forces kicked off its own drills in the region involving land, air and naval forces deployed near the Libyan border. The land component of the drills, codenamed Resolve 2020, took place in the northwestern district of Qabr Gabis. By this move, Egypt sent Turkey and its proxies a signal that an attempt by Turkish forces to capture Sirte is a red line and if crossed, they will face a Egyptian military response.

Taking into account, the logistical difficulties of Turkish forces and the apparent Egyptian military advantage in the event of a confrontation near its western border, the open intervention of Egypt into the conflict will put an end to Turkish hopes to consolidate its recently increased influence in Libya.

Meanwhile, ISIS have been trying to exploit the escalation for their own cause. According to reports, ISIS cells that still hide in the desert area in central Libya have recently increased their activity and resumed attacks on civilian targets mostly looting small villages and robbing civilian convoys. ISIS’ self-proclaimed Caliphate deteriorated into just a loud brand used by various gangs to justify their criminal behavior. Despite this, even such gangs will become a serious security issue if the conflict in Libya enters a new hot phase.

Related News

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

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July 11, 2020

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

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

Colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘We expect a Turkish attack at any time’: Libyan Army

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By News Desk -2020-07-10

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:00 P.M.) – The Libyan National Army spokesman, Ahmed Al-Mismari, said at a press conference this week that his forces are prepared for any provocation by the Turkish forces, especially near the city of Sirte.

Turkey and the GNA are expected to launch a big attack to capture Sirte and Al-Jafra in the coming day,s despite warnings from Egypt and the Libyan National Army.

On Thursday, the Egyptian Armed Forces launched a powerful exercise along the Libyan border that showcased their air, sea, and land strength.

Last month, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi warned the GNA and Turkey that his country will not idly by as they attempt to capture the city of Sirte and nearby Al-Jafra.

Sisi declared Sirte and Al-Jafra as a “red line” for Egypt, pointing out that his country has the “international legitimacy” to intervene in neighboring Libya.

EGYPT SENDS WARNING TO TURKEY BY LAUNCHING DRILLS NEAR LIBYA (MAP UPDATE)

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Egypt Sends Warning To Turkey By Launching Drills Near Libya (Map Update)

On July 9, the Egyptian Armed Forces started military drills near the Libyan border. The land part of the drills, codenamed Resolve 2020, took place in the northwestern district of Qabr Gabis.

The Egyptian military exercise followed the announcement of own naval drills off the Libyan coast by Turkey. The Turkish drills, called “Naftex”, will reportedly take place off the Libyan coast in three different regions: Barbaros, Turgutreis and Chaka Bey.


Egyptian media already described the Egyptian drills are a message to Turkey, which has been steadily increasing its involvement in the conflict.

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