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

 What does Europe want from Cairo Conference?

مارس 18, 2019

Written by Nasser Kandil,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

ماذا تريد أوروبا من مؤتمر شرم الشيخ؟

فبراير 25, 2019

ناصر قنديل

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Netanyahu in Moscow: the selection of words نتنياهو في موسكو: انتقاء الكلمات

 Netanyahu in Moscow: the selection of words

مارس 18, 2019

Written by Nasser Kandil,

It is normal that the Turkish President Recep Erdogan and the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are the last ones who want to recognize the Syrian victory, as it is normal that the maneuver in the battlefields and the prevarication in the commitment are the titles of their policy. The main beneficiary from the war on Syria, its destruction, and its fragmentation as a central pillar in the growing resistance axis is the occupation entity. And the aspiring party to dominate on the Arab and Islamic worlds to overthrow the heart of Arabism represented by Syria is the Justice and Development Party led by Recep Erdogan who combined his leaderships to form the Muslim Brotherhood along with his sticking to the capacities of Turkey the most important country in the region and his belonging to the NATO to form the main base for the aggression on Syria while he was dreaming of the new Ottoman.

The scrutiny of the Turkish and Israeli policies and movements must not be based on the expectation of the final recognition of the complete failure and loss, rather on the limitedness of their movement. It seems that the Russian presence in Syria is the title of the new equation on which the Turkish and Israeli considerations depend. In the same way, that the dropping of the Russian plane by Turkey in late 2015 was a gateway for a new equation drawn by Russia that made it draw the rules of engagement in Syria against Turkey, the dropping of the Russian plane by the occupation entity in late 2018 formed a similar event. And as the Turkish prevarication continued but under the ceiling of non –collision with Russia again, the occupation entity is doing the same. And as Erdogan remained talking about the Syrian threat on the security of Turkey, and undertakes to continue the military action, Netanyahu will remain talking about the threat on the security of the occupation entity and undertakes to continue the military action too.

Turkey does not offer anything positive for interpreting its pledges to Astana path, but at the same time it does not dare to do neither of these two things: a passive action that leads it to collision with the Syrian army and its allies. Second, the obstruction of any military action by the Syrian army and its allies against the armed groups. Turkey which remained talking about a safe zone which it wants to form by extracting a part of the Syrian geography by the force of occupation has become choosing its words. Therefore, the concept of the safe zone moved from the direct Turkish military control to the refusal of any domination, then to the refusal of any control is not trusted by Turkey just in order to meet the concept of Moscow to apply Adana Agreement and the preparation to be a partner in a border area in which the Russian military is deployed.

The occupation entity which will not abide by any positive commitment towards respecting the concept of the Syrian sovereignty has abided by two things; not to approach the Syrian airspace after the dropping of an Israeli aircraft by the Syrian air defense. Second, not to target vital locations of the Syrian army and governmental and civil figures of the Syrian sovereignty. The occupation entity which was talking about its intention to target the Iranian presence since the deployment of S-300 missiles in Syria has become choosing its words. After Netanyahu had talked that he would continue his raids, he talked before his visit to Moscow about an action against the Iranian presence without using military words, and now in Moscow he is using different words, that he will continue his work to prevent Iran from achieving its goals in Syria.

The decision of the leadership of the resistance axis resulting from the meeting which brought together the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and Imam Ali Al Khamenaei on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow is to repel any Israeli aggression accordingly. Moscow knew this decision notified to Netanyahu, so it advised to pay attention to the threat of a serious embroilment in an uncontrolled confrontation. Therefore Netanyahu chose his words so eloquently.

 Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

نتنياهو في موسكو: انتقاء الكلمات

فبراير 28, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– من الطبيعي أن يكون الرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان ورئيس حكومة بنيامين نتنياهو آخر من يسلّم بالنصر السوري، وبسيادة غير منقوصة للدولة السورية. ومن الطبيعي أن تكون المناورة في الميدان والمراوغة في الالتزام هما عنوان سياسة كل منهما. فإذا كان من مستفيد رئيسي من الحرب على سورية لتدميرها وتفتيتها كقلعة مركزية في محور المقاومة وتنامي وتعاظم قوته في ظل القلق الوجودي من تعاظم وتنامي قوة هذا المحور، فهو كيان الاحتلال، وإذا كان من طامح للهيمنة على العالمين العربي والإسلامي من بوابة إسقاط قلب العروبة النابض الذي تمثله سورية، فهو حزب العدالة والتنمية بزعامة رجب أردوغان الذي جمع قيادته لتنظيم الأخوان المسلمين مع إمساكه بمقدرات تركيا الدولة الأهم في المنطقة، مع انتمائه لحلف الأطلسي، ليشكل القاعدة الرئيسية للعدوان على سورية وهو يعيش أحلام العثمانية الجديدة.

– المراقبة للسياسات والتحركات التركية والإسرائيلية، لا يجب أن تتم على خلفية وهم التوقع بلحظة تموضع نهائي عنوانه التسليم بالفشل الكامل والخسارة الكاملة، بل لاستكشاف درجة الضيق التي تعيشها هوامش الحركة المتاحة أمام كل منهما، وفي هذا المجال يبدو الحضور الروسي في سورية عنوان المعادلة الجديدة التي تتموضع عندها الحسابات التركية والإسرائيلية، وبمثل ما شكل إسقاط تركيا للطائرة الروسية نهاية العام 2015 مدخل رسم روسيا لمعادلة جديدة فتحت مسار تحكّم روسيا برسم قواعد الاشتباك في سورية بالنسبة لتركيا، شكل إسقاط جيش الاحتلال للطائرة الروسية في نهاية العام 2018 حدثاً مشابهاً، ومثلما استمرّت المراوغة التركية لكن تحت سقف عدم التصادم مجدداً مع روسيا، يسير كيان الاحتلال في الطريق ذاتها. ومثلما بقي أردوغان يتحدّث عن خطر على أمن تركيا من سورية ويتعهّد بمواصلة العمل عسكرياً ضده، سيبقى يتحدث نتنياهو عن خطر على أمن كيان الاحتلال ويتعهد بمواصلة العمل ضده.

– تركيا لم تُقدم على أي فعل إيجابي في ترجمة تعهداتها وفقاً لمسار أستانة، لكنها لم تجرؤ على أي من الأمرين التاليين، الأول هو فعل سلبي يوصلها إلى التصادم مع الجيش السوري وحلفائه، والثاني إعاقة عمل عسكري للجيش السوري وحلفائه بوجه الجماعات المسلحة، وتركيا التي بقيت تتحدّث عن المنطقة الآمنة التي تريد إقامتها باقتطاع جزء من الجغرافيا السورية بقوة الاحتلال، صارت تنتقي الكلمات فيتحرّك مفهوم المنطقة الآمنة من السيطرة العسكرية التركية المباشرة، إلى رفض أي سيطرة أخرى، إلى رفض أن تكون المنطقة بعهدة من لا تثق بهم تركيا، تمهيداً لملاقاة مفهوم موسكو لتطبيق اتفاق أضنة والاستعداد للدخول كشريك ضامن فيه ضمن منطقة حدودية تنتشر فيها الشرطة العسكرية الروسية.

– كبان الاحتلال الذي لن يقوم بتقديم أي التزام إيجابي نحو احترام مفهوم السيادة السورية، التزم بأمرين، الأول عدم التقرّب من الأجواء السورية منذ إسقاط الدفاعات الجوية السورية لطائرة إسرائيلية، والثاني الالتزام بعدم استهداف مواقع حيوية للجيش السوري ورموز حكومية ومدنية للسيادة السورية، وكيان الاحتلال الذي بقي بعد الإعلان عن نشر شبكة صواريخ الأس 300 في سورية، يتحدث عن نيته مواجهة واستهداف ما يصفه بالوجود الإيراني، صار ينتقي الكلمات في الحديث عن مضمون الاستهداف، فبعدما كان يقول نتنياهو إنه سيواصل غاراته، صار يتحدّث قبل زيارة موسكو عن العمل ضد الوجود الإيراني دون استخدام المفردات العسكرية. وهو في موسكو يستعمل كلمات أخرى، فيقول إنه سيواصل العمل لمنع إيران من تحقيق أهدافها في سورية.

– قرار قيادة محور المقاومة التي كان لقاء القمة للرئيس السوري بشار الأسد والإمام علي الخامنئي، منصتها الحاضرة عشية زيارة نتنياهو إلى موسكو، هو الردّ على كل عدوان إسرائيلي بما يتناسب معه كماً ونوعاً، وموسكو كانت بصورة هذا القرار الذي تبلّغه نتنياهو، مع نصيحة بالانتباه لمخاطر انزلاق جدي إلى مواجهة تخرج من تحت السيطرة، فجاءت البلاغة إلى لغة نتنياهو في انتقاء الكلمات.

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ELIJAH J. MAGNIER: “IRAN UPSTAGES THE US IN IRAQ”

South Front

Written by Elijah J. Magnier – @ejmalrai; Originally appeared at his blog

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is visiting Iraq for three days, leading a large political and business delegation to deepen the relationship between the two countries. Rouhani met with the Iraqi President, Prime Minister, and Speaker of Parliament. The Iranian President visited Karbalaa this afternoon, is spending the night in Najaf and will be visiting on Wednesday the highest religious authority (Marjaiya) in the city the Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali al-Sistani, Sayyed Mohamad Saeed al-Hakeem, Sheikh Ishaq al-Fayyad and Sheikh Bashir al-Najafi. Rouhani’s public visit contrasts starkly with Trump’s recent covert visit to Iraq. Moreover, the projected economic and commercial cooperation between Iraq and Iran will not only mitigate US unilateral sanctions but will likely contribute to their failure. The bottom line question now arises: will Trump accept his loss to Iran or will he choose to lose Iraq as well by imposing sanctions on Mesopotamia?

Elijah J. Magnier: "Iran upstages the US in Iraq"

During the last week of 2018, President Trump’s plane turned off its lights to land safely in the US part of Ayn al-Assad base in Anbar province. Trump’s visit was kept secret and the Iraqi Prime Minister was informed on the same morning. Trump refused to land on the Iraqi side of the same base (Iraq and the US share the same military base with US forces holding full sovereignty over their area). For this reason, Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, the Speaker Mohamad al-Halbousi and the President Barham Saleh refused to meet Trump, who stuck to his schedule and landed at night.

Trump concluded his visit in three hours and left under darkness of the night. He is reported to have murmured that it was not right that, for security reasons, the US president was forced to visit in secrecy in the middle of the night a country where the US has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in its stability.

On the other hand, Rouhani informed the Iraqi presidency of his visit a week in advance; the visit was publicly announced at the same time. Iraqi officials coordinated the schedule of the Iranian President’s trip with their Iranian counterparts. Rouhani is due to remain in Iraq for three days to conclude important economic-commercial deals, raising the level of commerce between the two countries to 20 billion dollars.

Elijah J. Magnier: "Iran upstages the US in Iraq"

The conclusion:

  1. Iran has prevailed over the US because the Iraqi officials have rejected any unilateral sanctions on Iran, insisting on commercial exchange, including energy supply and selling.
  2. Major General Qassem Soleimani achieved Iran’s goal of developing a friendly relationship with Iraq, where officials are ready to suspend relations with the US if Trump insists on imposing sanctions on any country dealing with Tehran. This achievement (and others) earned Soleimani Iran’s most prestigious medal of honour, “the order of Zulfiqar” awarded by Sayed Ali Khamenei. Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif was the first to congratulate Soleimani, describing him as “the man who made the Middle East a safer place”. It is Soleimani’s second medal; the first was “the order of Fath” received in 1989 from the same Khamenei.
  3. Iran will sell electricity to Iraq and will use dollars and the local currency in its exchange. The Islamic Republic has found new ways to counter the US sanctions by building industry infrastructure and railways, and by establishing large commercial exchanges with Iraq. This will bring more dollars to Iran and will, simultaneously, help the country rely less on US dollars by doing business in the local currency.

Trump’s foreign policy and sanctions around the world are forcing countries to find alternatives to the US monetary system and trade. Although so far with little impact, Europe is introducing a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to support trade with Iran as an alternative to the US Swift global financial messaging service. China, Russia, India and many other countries dealing with Iran have agreed to carry on their exchanges mainly but not exclusively in local currency to bypass US sanctions.

Iraq today is divided between a large faction of politicians calling for the total withdrawal of US forces from the country, and another which wants to maintain a reduced US force in charge of training and intelligence exchange. Both factions want to see most US forces leave the country, and can likely reach an agreement on accepting a small specialised force on the ground. The Iraqi government would like to strike a balance and maintain both a fair relationship with the US and excellent ties with Iran.

Trump has two choices. He could choose to cut his relationship with Iraq, which would amount to shooting himself in the foot. The presence of US forces in Iraq is essential to US objectives and hegemony in the Middle East. Moreover, it is unclear for how long US forces will be able to occupy Syria. The alternative would be for Trump to accept the fact that his sanctions against Iran will fail as Iranian-Iraqi energy and commercial deals develop. In this case, the US President would be accepting the failure of his sanctions and his plan to change the Iranian regime “in a few months”.

Whatever he decides, Trump has lost: the US establishment failed in its attempt to damage Iran and either change its ruling system or bring the country to its knees. All Trump has accomplished is to put stress on the Iranian economy, bringing hardship to the population while forcing local officials to find new solutions, with the help of Iraq’s new leadership. The US failure to impose its proxies as rulers of Iraq helped Soleimani win his medal of honour.

Proof-read byC.B.

Rouhani’s Visit to Iraq: Huge Economic Cooperation at Eastern Gate of Arab World

Wed Mar 13, 2019

Rouhani’s Visit to Iraq: Huge Economic Cooperation at Eastern Gate of Arab World

TEHRAN (FNA)- The agreements sealed during the visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Iraq mark the start of the largest economic cooperation project between the two neighboring states in the region.

In the 1990s, when the US decided after Operation Desert Storm and annihilation of 70 percent of Iraq’s Army to re-instate Saddam Hussain rather than conquering Baghdad, there was only one thing revolving in the mind of Washington’s politicians: to prevent the Shiite revolutionary movement, which was gaining momentum after the Intifada (uprisings) in Southern Iraq and becoming an independent powerhouse, from getting strengthened.

Despite the fact that in 1991 the Iraqi army had lost control of all Shiite regions, the scale was tipped in favor of Saddam’s regime when the US-led coalition allowed the dictator to fly his Mil Mi-24 helicopters which led to the largest massacre of the Shiite population in Iraq.

Interestingly, in 2014, when the ISIL terrorists conquered Mosul, one of the biggest cities in Iraq, a parallel course of event was to happen. While the terrorists were approaching the gates of Baghdad and the repetitive calls of the Iraqi government for winning the air support of the US-led coalition had failed, Iran’s strong entry into war to help its Western neighbor turned the whole tide. Now after 5 years, not only nothing has been left of the ISIL in Iraq, but also the position of Shiite-led central government in the Arab country has been cemented more than ever.

From The Fall of the Eastern Gate To The Resistance Front  

Iraq was the Eastern Gate of the Arab World, in the mindset of Saddam Hussain, to resist against Iran’s infiltration. Wafiq al-Samarrai, Director of Iran desk in Iraqi Army’s Intelligence Organization during the 8-year war of the Baathist regime against Iran has thoroughly evaluated and discussed this concept in his book of memoirs, ‘The Ruins of the Eastern Gate’.

Now after the falloff of the ISIL in a few-year-old war, Iraq has become part of an alliance which is called the Resistance Front. A front which is based on not religious motives as claimed in the West’s Shiite Crescent theory, but on a pro-independence essence opposing the Westerners’ interference in the fate of Muslim countries.

Heading Toward $20Billion Trade

President Rouhani’s visit to Iraq is exactly highlighting the same strategic cooperation. Although the Tehran-Baghdad strong ties in security areas have fruited great successes in the past couple of years, it seems that the ties are expected to develop at a serious level to other areas.

Economy is one of the main areas which was placed under the spotlight by the officials of the two countries during the recent visit of President Rouhani to Iraq. Undoubtedly, Iran enjoys a unique status for develop economic cooperation with Iraq.

The two countries share more than 1000 kilometers of borderline fittingly tied with identical ethnic patterns across the borders. For instance, Iran’s Kurdish provinces share borders with the Iraqi region of Kurdistan and accordingly can serve as an economic hub in the region because of the ethnic and lingual commonalities.

Also most of Iran’s Southwestern provinces which share border with Iraq are resided by Arab and Shiite Iranians which again positively contribute to cross-border interactions.

Besides, despite the fact that Iraq’s Western and Northern governorates like al-Anbar and Nineveh are home to bloody battles with the ISIL terrorists, security has been preserved so far in Eastern governorates which share border with Iran.

All these realities as well as the nearly 2 million Iranians who travel to the Iraqi cities of Karbala and Najaf in Arbaeen pilgrimage season have ushered in good trade between Iran and Iraq.

However, a study of economic figures shows that Iran’s share of Iraq’s market, particularly its growth in the past couple of years, still fails to match the two sides’ potentials.

This is exactly one of the very issues which drew much of the attention in the recent visit of President Rouhani to Iraq. Iranian and Iraqi officials held countless meetings and seminars before the Rouhani visit to discuss proper and wide avenues for expanding relations.

The truth is that Iran is competing with serious regional and international rivals in Iraq’s market. Turkey is one of the countries which are seriously marketing and expanding their share of the market in the food products section in Iraq.

Nevertheless it has to be born in mind that Turkey’s presence in Iraq’s market is nothing anew and an outcome of the last years. Rather, Turkey was one of the big suppliers of Iraq’s market during the reign of Saddam Hussain. Yet, the facts stated earlier display that Iran enjoys better capabilities for exporting goods to Iraq.

China and the UAE are among the other competitors in Iraq’s market, specially in the field of consumer durable goods.

Considering the situation, Iranian and Iraqi merchants held numerous meetings on the ways to expand trade between the two countries during President Rouhani’s visit.

Iran’s Ambassador to Baghdad Iraj Masjedi had already said at an economic seminar in Baghdad that the two countries have set a $20 billion objective for the volume of their trade.

This figure may seem a bit out of reach at the first sight, but it is assuredly accessible considering that Iraq is now entering a phase of reconstruction after the war against terrorism and peace has been restored in its cities.

The decision to issue visas for the nationals of the two countries free of charge was another important accomplishment of President Rouhani’s visit to Iraq which can act as a catalyst further facilitating cross-border travels for the nationals of the two sides.

US Worried About Sanctions-Busting

One of the motives behind President Rouhani’s visit to Iraq was the capacities of this Arab country in helping Iran to bypass the US’ unilateral sanctions.

Tehran is going to use Iraq’s help for finding a way around new sanctions to meet its financial needs, as it did in the last round of bans with the help of Turkey.

The fact is that thanks to broad suitcase trade between Iran and Iraq in areas of trade of commodities and foreign currencies exchange, the typical sanctions imposed by the US Treasury Department are unable to cause a sensible disruption in the bilateral channels between the two sides.

The reiterations of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warning Iraqi officials about the suitcase trade of hard currency across the border of Iran and Iraq is reflecting the same very concern.

Iran is capable of importing many of its needed goods, which are not easily accessible because of financial and insurance limitations caused by sanctions, immediately through re-exporting them from Iraqi market. Accordingly, Iraq would be playing the same role once played by the UAE.

Many hold that oil rich port of Basra in Southern Iraq which is also the richest city of the country is enjoying the potential to become the second Dubai in the region. Iran can play the same role it played for flourishing Dubai in the 1980s.

The recent visit of the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Abdolnasser Hemmati and the serious memorandum of understanding signed on banking relations between Tehran and Baghdad underlines the importance of Iraq’s banking system for Iran. Besides, Iraq has a broad network of currency relations with the world, through a system of exchange centers, particularly with East European countries, which is of high value for Iran.

One of the objectives of President Rouhani’s visit to Iraq which was not announced publicly was to expand these very kind of relations, and assuredly the officials of the two countries have discussed this issue in their meetings, and certainly the Americans are after stopping these relations at any level.

Iran and Iraq as Pillars of Future Energy Exchange Hub in Region

Expanding cooperation on energy was also among the issues discussed for broadening bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the meetings of President Rouhani in Iraq.

This was the very same demand that made US President Donald Trump to agree with granting exemptions to Iraq to import energy from Iran during the first batch of sanctions against Tehran. However, some US-backed regional countries are after undermining Iran’s position in Iraq.

For example Saudi Arabia is after weakening Iran’s role in this area with exporting electricity to Iraq. The main point is that Rouhani’s visit to Iraq can mark a starting point for broader energy cooperation of the two countries in the region’s energy market.

Iraq has three gas fields and the country will start producing gas by the next five years. Although the early production of gas by Iraq may make the country needless of importing the energy carrier, the growing demand for electricity in the Arab country means Baghdad will continue importing energy from Iran.

In addition, Iraq is bordering Kuwait and Jordan which both are electricity thirsty and Iraq can act as an energy hub in the region to export Iran’s gas to the two countries besides meeting its own needs.

The same scenario is applicable to electricity to let Iraq play a stabilizing role in the region. The path may seem very long but Prescient Rouhani’s visit to Iraq marked a golden start for this long march.

Start of Huge Economic Cooperation in Region

Eleven years ago, when Iran’s ex-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled to Iraq, the country was still under the US occupation.

And now in era of Rouhani, these are the Iraqi security forces who are providing security in Baghdad with the help of their Iranian partners.

Moving along the same line, we may rightfully expect inaguration of mega projects during the visit of the next Iranian president to Baghdad. This path, despite being long, is the future within the reach of the hands of the two nations.

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Trump declares “victory” over ISIS but Washington’s foul plans in Syria are far from over

South Front

March 07, 2019

Trump declares “victory” over ISIS but Washington’s foul plans in Syria are far from over

by Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

At the eve of the 8 year anniversary of the Syrian war, the battle for one of the last ISIS strongholds in Syria is still raging. The so called “caliphate” is on its last knees as US president Trump declares that “100 percent of ISIS ‘caliphate’ has been taken back.

Trump was of course only referring to the US coalitions “efforts” and didn’t even bother to mention that it is Syria and her allies that have done most of the heavy lifting. Nevertheless, he was right about ISIS losing all of the territories they occupied in Syria, but what happens now?

The US has for long declared that their presence (occupation) in Syria is mainly to fight ISIS, while sometimes also claiming to “prevent Iran from entrenching itself” in Syria. Of course any serious observer who has the slightest interest in Middle Eastern politics understands that this is a lie.

The US’ top priority has been from the beginning to save its masters in Israel from their day of reckoning. In the long run this objective is and has always been linked to the much greater plan of destroying the Islamic Republic, the only true threat to Israel’s continued existence. For years Washington has deceived and fooled a vast majority of the world’s population and “analysts” into believing that its presence in Syria is tied to “fighting ISIS”, while hiding their intentions to overthrow the Syrian government and destroying the Resistance Axis. Now, Washington’s true objective will resurface for everyone to see.

This goal has not been linked to a specific US administration but has been a very longstanding policy for decades no matter who’s the president.

Despite Trump’s bogus declaration back in December that the US is pulling out of Syria, Washington recently backtracked and declared it won’t fully withdraw its troops from Syria but will leave “400 peacekeeping forces”, making these soldiers an official occupation force as the last ISIS stronghold is about to be destroyed. This new situation leaves the US and European allies without any cloak of legality since the pretext of “counterterrorism” is no longer plausible.

But this should not come as a surprise to anyone. Only a fool would believe that the US has spent so much time and money on training and arming Kurdish militias to grab as much land as possible east of the Euphrates, just to let the Syrian government take all the land back in a deal with the Kurdish militias.

The continued US occupation makes any kind of reconciliation between the Kurdish militias and Damascus impossible. Now that the ISIS terrorists are gone, the future of the Kurdish militias remain very much at the hands of Washington. Where will they be used next?

Turkey has for long threatened to invade north eastern Syria as Turkish president Erdogan vowed to create a “safe zone” along the Syrian-Turkish border after a phone call between him and Trump. At the same time Trump has threatened Turkey to refrain from attacking its Kurdish proxies in that region. This contradictory situation became even messier when Moscow declared that it will not accept such a “safe zone” without Damascus approval, a highly unlikely outcome as relations between Damascus and Ankara remain very hostile.

To the northwest, jihadist group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham has outmanoeuvred and taken over most of the other “rebel groups’” positions and now remains the sole powerhouse in the Idlib province. Turkey’s inability or rather lack of interest to remove these terrorists has opened up the possibility for a new Syrian Army offensive on the region. If history is to repeat itself, we should expect Washington to threaten Damascus to refrain from launching this offensive.

Meanwhile, voices are being raised in neighbouring Iraq, demanding US forces stationed near the Syrian border to leave the country. Despite the unlikelihood of US troops withdrawing from Iraq, such a scenario would give Washington even more incentive to hold on to its foothold in Syria.

Washington has recently showed a great obsession with Iran and will do its utmost to destroy the Iranian-Syrian alliance and to isolate Iran, making the Islamic Republic an easy target for Washington’s next planned “humanitarian intervention”. This is manifested through Washington’s strategic occupation of eastern Syria and the Al-Tanf region, located right next to the Iraqi border and close to the Golan Heights. This was further proven after President Assad’s surprise visit to Iran where Iranian officials revealed that Washington had offered Assad to back his presidency in exchange for him breaking ties with Tehran.

Terrorist forces in Syria may be on the verge of defeat, but their sponsors in Washington remain as dangerous as ever. The last chapter of the Syrian war is yet to be written.

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

Pakistan in the Crosshairs of New US Aggression

With events escalating quickly in Kashmir it’s incumbent to ask the most pertinent questions in geopolitics.

Why there?

And, Why Now?

Why Kashmir?

India and Pakistan are both making serious moves to slip out from underneath the US’s external control. India has openly defied the US on buying S-400 missile defense systems, keeping up its oil trade with Iran and developing the important Iranian port at Chabahar to help complete an almost private spur of the North South Transport Corridor.

Pakistan, under new Prime Minister Imran Khan is trying to square accounts with China over its massive investment for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) known as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It has also been at the forefront of multiple rounds of talks spurred by the Russians and Iranians to forge some kind of peace in Afghanistan.

And the Trump administration cut off US aid to Pakistan for not being sufficiently helpful in the fight against terrorism. This opened up a war of words between Trump and Khan who reminded Trump that the little bit of money the US sent Pakistan nothing compared to the losses both economic and personal.

If there was ever the possibility of peace breaking out between India and Pakistan it would be in the context of stitching the two countries together through China’s regional plans as well as solving the thorny problem of continued US and NATO occupation of Afghanistan.

Anything that can be done to flare up tensions between these two adversaries then serves the US’s goals of sowing chaos and division to keep the things from progressing smoothly. Khan was elected to, in effect, drain the Pakistani Swamp. His, like Trump’s, is a tall order.

And at this point it looks like he’s still willing to give it a go as opposed to Trump who is simply revealing himself to be a thin-skinned version of Barack Obama, albeit with a distinctly orange hue.

But, still why right now?

Because Trump is distracted with his latest love affair with himself – taking credit for a Korean peace process that will proceed with or without him at this point. All he can do is slow it down, which is exactly what his Secretary of State has been doing since last year’s meeting in Singapore.

And that leaves people like John Bolton and the rest of the worst people in D.C. to go to work undermining an entire region of the world.

Last weekend’s terrorist attack was a planned provocation to produce the very outcome we have today. Jaish-e-Mohammed have too many direct and indirect links to Bush the Lesser era programs and Saudi Arabia to be ignored.

This attack happens just days after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes rushing in to save Pakistan’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves with promises of $10 billion to build a refinery of Saudi oil at the (now Chinese) port of Gwadar.

There are no coincidences in geopolitics. Timing is everything.

It reminds me of the flare up in Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2016. Then Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Azeri leader Ilham Aliyev on a Wednesday and by Sunday a nearly twenty-year peace was broken.

National Security Advisor John Bolton is desperate to keep Trump from pulling half of the troops out of Afghanistan. After a disastrous “Let Make War on Iran” conference in Warsaw two weeks ago, Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were reeling from having obtained no support outside of those already committed to such a plan.

Europe roundly said no, other than willing satrap Poland, still hoping Daddy Trump will save them from the mean old Nordstream 2 pipeline.

As Alistair Crooke pointed out recently, Bolton is putting pressure on Pakistan to forge a peace agreement with the Taliban which somehow allows for the US to maintain all of its troop presence there.

Washington is now embracing Pakistan (with Saudi Arabia and UAE writing the cheques). And Washington looks to Pakistan rather, not so much to contain and disrupt the Taliban, but to co-opt it through a ‘peace accord’ into accepting to be another US military ‘hub’ to match America’s revamped military ‘hub’ in Erbil (the Kurdish part of Iraq, which borders the Kurdish provinces of Iran). As a former Indian Ambassador, MK Bhadrakumar explains:

“What the Saudis and Emiratis are expecting as follow-up in the near future is a certain “rebooting” of the traditional Afghan-Islamist ideology of the Taliban and its quintessentially nationalistic “Afghan-centric” outlook with a significant dosage of Wahhabi indoctrination … [so as to] make it possible [to] integrate the Taliban into the global jihadi network and co-habitate it with extremist organisations such as the variants of Islamic State or al-Qaeda … so that geopolitical projects can be undertaken in regions such as Central Asia and the Caucasus or Iran from the Afghan soil, under a comprador Taliban leadership”.

Bolton was also able to get Trump to agree to pull most of the troops out of Syria, leave just enough behind to call in airstrikes to protect what’s left of ISIS and relocate the rest to Iraq.

Trump gets to say he fulfilled a campaign promise, and everyone’s plans for War with Iran stays on schedule.

So, if I’m right (and there’s no guarantee that I am) what purpose does poking a fight between India and Pakistan serve?

Many, unfortunately.

1. One it sells the regional chaos angle about the need to continue the War on Terror.

2. ISIS is gone but we still have to fight Iran.

3. It punishes India for daring to get off the reservation.

4. It reminds Khan just how tenuous his hold on power is.

5. It is a warning to China that the US will risk everything to not lose the Heartland.

Add in the proximity to the Trump-Kim meeting as well as the fractious trade talks with China and you have an orgy of related news all at the same time to drive the point home.

Bolton, the Brits, France and Netanyahu were willing to risk World War III in Syria to create a false flag event in which Russia attacked a NATO target – the downing of the IL-20 ELINT aircraft last September.

Do you not think these insane animals wouldn’t risk a nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India to blow up (literally) China’s plans to win the biggest prize in geopolitics?

If you don’t then you haven’t been paying attention.

Both Imran Khan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi need to keep their heads here. Modi has an election coming up later this year. I’m sure the calculus was that he would jump at the opportunity to burnish his cred with voters by lobbing a few bombs inside Pakistan. For Khan, this is the first real test of his leadership and he has to resist the siren’s call of the Saudi’s money to balance all sides of the equation while de-escalating this situation as quickly as possible.

One thing is for certain, we haven’t seen the last of this.

Photo: Flickr

The Hero of the Arab World

Wednesday, 27 February 2019 08:15

President Bashar  Al-Assad’s recent   historic visit to Iran and the talks held with Sayyed Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran and President Hassan Rouhani, has indeed been a historic, landmark and  fruitful visit as a message of gratitude,  true friendship, solidarity, peace and amity.

President Assad was received by Sayyed Ali Khamenei as the victorious ‘ Leader of Arabs’, as outlined by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution; President Assad has been for years leading his country and people away from  dangers, poverty, and sinister terrorist plots and conspiracies. The last 8 years of the terrorist war launched against Syria, unfortunately backed by some  whom President Assad, Syrian Army, brothers and allies, were defending, has indeed made of his visit to Tehran, the capital of the Resistance against oppression, aggression and terrorism, a landmark visit by all accounts.

It has been a visit of gratitude to the brothers in arms who firmly supported Syrians in their war against terrorism, and defense of the entire globe. The wise worldwide do recognize that without such  a strategic unity in blood against Al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates, the region would have been turned by now into  huge slaughterhouses!  President Assad visited the country which has been standing with his own people and their interests; Iran has been able with the wisdom of its leaders and people, to save the region from being totally and entirely exploited by warmongers and occupiers.

 

Syria’s war against terrorists, mainly exported to Syria from all around the globe, has achieved big strides on the way of all-out cleansing of every span of the Syrian soil from Arab and foreign backed and financed terrorists. The visit is but a definite stop on the way of the more of withstanding, steadfastness and hardships to face as to remain independent, steadfast and victorious. The war is still waged against those who adore freedom, sovereignty and independence.

Actually, President Assad, in light of his heroic and brave stances, and rejection to be subdued and kneel down to the colonialists and ewes with their greed, threats, or even carrots, is but the world number. 1 Leader when it comes to fighting oppression and terrorism on behalf of all as to save what he has been able to save.  One day, history would cite this President as the Man who stood tall and fought the most of terrorists and their backers and could save the most of the region, if not the world, from terrorists.

The visit, probably for the wise, is a message of peace. Neither the Syrians, nor the Iranians, have ever been aggressors. It is a visit of a definite everlasting stances of defense, not only against terrorists and their backers, but occupiers too. As underscored, governments of the region, if not the whole world, should refrain from being a satellite in the US orbit! US and Western interests are not in line with peoples’ interests.

Submission and yes-sir policies by those who lost their resources and souls to Lucifer are indeed catastrophic with dire consequences against the majority of humanity. It has been a message for the necessity as to formulate and adopt balanced and equilibrium policies on the basis of common respect for the sovereignty of states and non-interference in their domestic affairs.

Indeed, Syria and Iran are their each other’s strategic  depth and with a clear message of standing on vigil as to preserve the victories and achievements accomplished against terrorism and its backers. Syria’s victory against terrorism is but for all lovers of humanity, freedom, peace and fraternity.

Dr. Mohamad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

Editor-in-Chief

alibrahim56@hotmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/Mohamad.Abdo.AlIbrahim

http://syriatimes.sy/

http://www.presidentassad.net/

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