The RCEP train left the station, and India, behind

The RCEP train left the station, and India, behind

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi during the 16th ASEAN-India Summit in Nonthaburi, Thailand, on November 3, 2019. Photo: AFP / Anton Raharjo / Anadolu Agency

Biggest story at ASEAN was convergence of moves toward Asia integration, leaving Delhi out for now

ByPEPE ESCOBAR

A pan-Asia high-speed train has left the station – and India – behind. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which would have been the largest free trade deal in the world, was not signed in Bangkok. It will probably be signed next year in Vietnam, assuming New Delhi goes beyond what ASEAN, with diplomatic finesse barely concealing frustration, described as “outstanding issues, which remain unresolved.”

The partnership uniting 16 nations – the ASEAN 10 plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and, in theory, India – would have congregated 3.56 billion people and 29% of world trade.

Predictably, it was billed as the big story among the slew of high-profile meetings linked to the 35th ASEAN summit in Thailand, as RCEP de facto further integrates Asian economies with China just as the Trump administration is engaged in a full spectrum battle against everything from the Belt and Road Initiative to Made in China 2025.

It’s not hard to figure out where the “problem” lies.

Mahathir ‘disappointed’

Diplomats confirmed that New Delhi came up with a string of last-minute demands in Thailand, forcing many to work deep into the night with no success. Thailand’s Commerce Minister, Jurin Laksanawisit, tried to put on a brave face: “The negotiation last night was conclusive.”

It was not. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad – whose facial expression in the family photo was priceless, as he shook hands with Aung San Suu Kyi on his left and nobody on his right – had already given away the game. “We’re very disappointed,” he said, adding: “One country is making demands we cannot accept.”

ASEAN, that elaborate monument to punctilious protocol and face-saving, insists the few outstanding issues “will be resolved by February 2020,” with the text of all 20 RCEP chapters complete “pending the resolution of one” member.

RCEP dwells across a large territory, covering trade in goods and services, investment, intellectual property and dispute resolution. The Indian “problem” is extremely complex. India in fact already has a free trade agreement with ASEAN.

New Delhi insists it is defending farmers, dairy owners, the services industry, sectors of the automobile industry – especially hybrid and electric cars, and very popular three-wheelers – and mostly small businesses all across the nation, which would be devastated by an augmented tsunami of Chinese merchandise.

Agriculture, textile, steel and mining interests in India are totally against RCEP.

Yet New Delhi never mentions quality Japanese or South Korean products. It’s all about China. New Delhi argues that signing what is widely interpreted as a free trade agreement with China would explode its already significant US$57 billion a year trade deficit.

The barely disguised secret is that India’s economy, as the historical record shows, is inherently protectionist. There’s no way a possible removal of agricultural tariffs protecting farmers would not provoke a social cataclysm.

Modi, who is not exactly a bold statesman with a global vision, is between a heavy rock and a very hard place. President Xi Jinping offered him a “100-year plan” for China-India partnership at their last informal, bilateral summit.

India is a fellow BRICS member, it’s part of the Russia-India-China troika that is actually at the center of BRICS and is also a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Questions remain whether both players would be able to work that out before the Vietnam summit in 2020.

Putting it all together

India was only part of the story of the summit fest in Thailand. At the important East Asia Summit, everyone was actively discussing multiple paths towards multilateralism.

The Trump administration is touting what it calls the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy – which is yet another de facto China containment strategy, congregating the US, India, Japan and Australia. Indo-Pacific is very much on Modi’s mind. The problem is “Indo-Pacific,” as the US conceives of it, and RCEP are incompatible.

ASEAN, instead, came up with its own strategy: ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) – which incorporates all the usual transparency, good governance, sustainable development and rules-based tenets plus details on connectivity and maritime disputes.

All the ASEAN 10 are behind AOIP, which is, in fact, an original Indonesian idea. It’s fascinating to know that Bangkok and Jakarta worked together behind closed doors for no fewer than 18 months to reach a full consensus among the ASEAN 10.

South Korea’s Moon Jae-in jumped in extolling the merits of his Southern Policy, which is essentially northeast-southeast Asia integration. And don’t forget Russia.

At the ASEAN business and investment summit, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev put it all together; the blossoming of the Greater Eurasian Partnership, uniting the Eurasia Economic Union, ASEAN and Shanghai Cooperation Organization, not to mention, in his words, “other possible structures,” which is code for Belt and Road.

Belt and Road is powerfully advancing its links to RCEP, Eurasia Economic Union and even South America’s Mercosur – when Brazil finally kicks Jair Bolsonaro out of power.

Medvedev noted that this merging of interests was unanimously supported at the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi in 2016. Vietnam and Singapore have already clinched free trade deals with Eurasia Economic Union, and Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia are on their way.

Medvedev also noted that a trade and economic cooperation deal between China and Eurasia Economic Union was signed in late October. Next is India, and a preferential trade agreement between the union and Iran has also been signed.

In Thailand, the Chinese delegation did not directly address the United States’ Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy. But Medvedev did, forcefully: “We are in favor of maintaining the effective system of state-to-state relations which was formed on the basis of ASEAN and has shown a good track record over the years.

“In this regard, we believe the US initiative is a serious challenge for ASEAN countries, since it can weaken the association’s position and strip it of its status as a key player in addressing regional security problems.”

Summits come and go. But what just happened in Thailand will remain as another graphic illustration of myriad, concerted moves leading towards progressive, irreversible Asia – and Eurasia – integration. It’s up to Modi to decide when and if to hop on the train.

Pepe Escobar on Al-Mayadeen

The Road to Damascus: How the Syria War was Won

The Road to Damascus: How the Syria War was Won

October 18, 2019

by Pepe Escobar : posted with permission and crossposted with Consortium News

What is happening in Syria, following yet another Russia-brokered deal, is a massive geopolitical game-changer. I’ve tried to summarize it in a single paragraph this way:

“It’s a quadruple win. The U.S. performs a face saving withdrawal, which Trump can sell as avoiding a conflict with NATO ally Turkey. Turkey has the guarantee – by the Russians – that the Syrian Army will be in control of the Turkish-Syrian border. Russia prevents a war escalation and keeps the Russia-Iran-Turkey peace process alive.  And Syria will eventually regain control of the entire northeast.”

Syria may be the biggest defeat for the CIA since Vietnam.

Yet that hardly begins to tell the whole story.

Allow me to briefly sketch in broad historical strokes how we got here.

It began with an intuition I felt last month at the tri-border point of Lebanon, Syria and Occupied Palestine; followed by a subsequent series of conversations in Beirut with first-class Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian, Russian, French and Italian analysts; all resting on my travels in Syria since the 1990s; with a mix of selected bibliography in French available at Antoine’s in Beirut thrown in.

The Vilayets

Let’s start in the 19thcentury when Syria consisted of six vilayets — Ottoman provinces — without counting Mount Lebanon, which had a special status since 1861 to the benefit of Maronite Christians and Jerusalem, which was a sanjak (administrative division) of Istanbul.

The vilayets did not define the extremely complex Syrian identity: for instance, Armenians were the majority in the vilayet of Maras, Kurds in Diyarbakir – both now part of Turkey in southern Anatolia – and the vilayets of Aleppo and Damascus were both Sunni Arab.

Nineteenth century Ottoman Syria was the epitome of cosmopolitanism. There were no interior borders or walls. Everything was inter-dependent.

Ethnic groups in the Balkans and Asia Minor, early 20th Century, Historical Atlas, 1911.

Then the Europeans, profiting from World War I, intervened. France got the Syrian-Lebanese littoral, and later the vilayets of Maras and Mosul (today in Iraq). Palestine was separated from Cham (the “Levant”), to be internationalized. The vilayet of Damascus was cut in half: France got the north, the Brits got the south. Separation between Syria and the mostly Christian Lebanese lands came later.

There was always the complex question of the Syria-Iraq border. Since antiquity, the Euphrates acted as a barrier, for instance between the Cham of the Umayyads and their fierce competitors on the other side of the river, the Mesopotamian Abbasids.

James Barr, in his splendid “A Line in the Sand,” notes, correctly, that the Sykes-Picot agreement imposed on the Middle East the European conception of territory: their “line in the sand” codified a delimited separation between nation-states. The problem is, there were no nation-states in region in the early 20thcentury.

The birth of Syria as we know it was a work in progress, involving the Europeans, the Hashemite dynasty, nationalist Syrians invested in building a Greater Syria including Lebanon, and the Maronites of Mount Lebanon. An important factor is that few in the region lamented losing dependence on Hashemite Medina, and except the Turks, the loss of the vilayet of Mosul in what became Iraq after World War I.

In 1925, Sunnis became the de facto prominent power in Syria, as the French unified Aleppo and Damascus. During the 1920s France also established the borders of eastern Syria. And the Treaty of Lausanne, in 1923, forced the Turks to give up all Ottoman holdings but didn’t keep them out of the game.

Turkish borders according to the Treaty of Lausanne, 1923.

The Turks soon started to encroach on the French mandate, and began blocking the dream of Kurdish autonomy. France in the end gave in: the Turkish-Syrian border would parallel the route of the fabled Bagdadbahn — the Berlin-Baghdad railway.

In the 1930s France gave in even more: the sanjak of Alexandretta (today’s Iskenderun, in Hatay province, Turkey), was finally annexed by Turkey in 1939 when only 40 percent of the population was Turkish.

The annexation led to the exile of tens of thousands of Armenians. It was a tremendous blow for Syrian nationalists. And it was a disaster for Aleppo, which lost its corridor to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkish forces under entered Alexandretta on July 5, 1938.

To the eastern steppes, Syria was all about Bedouin tribes. To the north, it was all about the Turkish-Kurdish clash. And to the south, the border was a mirage in the desert, only drawn with the advent of Transjordan. Only the western front, with Lebanon, was established, and consolidated after WWII.

This emergent Syria — out of conflicting Turkish, French, British and myriad local interests —obviously could not, and did not, please any community. Still, the heart of the nation configured what was described as “useful Syria.” No less than 60 percent of the nation was — and remains — practically void. Yet, geopolitically, that translates into “strategic depth” — the heart of the matter in the current war.

From Hafez to Bashar

Starting in 1963, the Baath party, secular and nationalist, took over Syria, finally consolidating its power in 1970 with Hafez al-Assad, who instead of just relying on his Alawite minority, built a humongous, hyper-centralized state machinery mixed with a police state. The key actors who refused to play the game were the Muslim Brotherhood, all the way to being massacred during the hardcore 1982 Hama repression.

Secularism and a police state: that’s how the fragile Syrian mosaic was preserved. But already in the 1970s major fractures were emerging: between major cities and a very poor periphery; between the “useful” west and the Bedouin east; between Arabs and Kurds. But the urban elites never repudiated the iron will of Damascus: cronyism, after all, was quite profitable.

Damascus interfered heavily with the Lebanese civil war since 1976 at the invitation of the Arab League as a “peacekeeping force.” In Hafez al-Assad’s logic, stressing the Arab identity of Lebanon was essential to recover Greater Syria. But Syrian control over Lebanon started to unravel in 2005, after the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, very close to Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) eventually left.

Bashar al-Assad had taken power in 2000. Unlike his father, he bet on the Alawites to run the state machinery, preventing the possibility of a coup but completely alienating himself from the poor, Syrian on the street.

What the West defined as the Arab Spring, began in Syria in March 2011; it was a revolt against the Alawites as much  as a revolt against Damascus. Totally instrumentalized by the foreign interests, the revolt sprang up in extremely poor, dejected Sunni peripheries: Deraa in the south, the deserted east, and the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo.

Protest in Damascus, April 24, 2011. (syriana2011/Flickr)

What was not understood in the West is that this “beggars banquet” was not against the Syrian nation, but against a “regime.” Jabhat al-Nusra, in a P.R. exercise, even broke its official link with al-Qaeda and changed its denomination to Fatah al-Cham and then Hayat Tahrir al-Cham (“Organization for the Liberation of the Levant”). Only ISIS/Daesh said they were fighting for the end of Sykes-Picot.

By 2014, the perpetually moving battlefield was more or less established: Damascus against both Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS/Daesh, with a wobbly role for the Kurds in the northeast, obsessed in preserving the cantons of Afrin, Kobane and Qamichli.

But the key point is that each katiba (“combat group”), each neighborhood, each village, and in fact each combatant was in-and-out of allegiances non-stop. That yielded a dizzying nebulae of jihadis, criminals, mercenaries, some linked to al-Qaeda, some to Daesh, some trained by the Americans, some just making a quick buck.

For instance Salafis — lavishly financed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait — especially Jaish al-Islam, even struck alliances with the PYD Kurds in Syria and the jihadis of Hayat Tahrir al-Cham (the remixed, 30,000-strong  al-Qaeda in Syria). Meanwhile, the PYD Kurds (an emanation of the Turkish Kurds’ PKK, which Ankara consider “terrorists”) profited from this unholy mess — plus a deliberate ambiguity by Damascus – to try to create their autonomous Rojava.

A demonstration in the city of Afrin in support of the YPG against the Turkish invasion of Afrin, Jan. 19, 2018. (Voice of America Kurdish, Wikimedia Commons)

That Turkish Strategic Depth

Turkey was all in. Turbo-charged by the neo-Ottoman politics of former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the logic was to reconquer parts of the Ottoman empire, and get rid of Assad because he had helped PKK Kurdish rebels in Turkey.

Davutoglu’s Strategik Derinlik (“Strategic Depth’), published in 2001, had been a smash hit in Turkey, reclaiming the glory of eight centuries of an sprawling empire, compared to puny 911 kilometers of borders fixed by the French and the Kemalists. Bilad al Cham, the Ottoman province congregating Lebanon, historical Palestine, Jordan and Syria, remained a powerful magnet in both the Syrian and Turkish unconscious.

No wonder Turkey’s Recep Erdogan was fired up: in 2012 he even boasted he was getting ready to pray in the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, post-regime change, of course. He has been gunning for a safe zone inside the Syrian border — actually a Turkish enclave — since 2014. To get it, he has used a whole bag of nasty players — from militias close to the Muslim Brotherhood to hardcore Turkmen gangs.

With the establishment of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), for the first time Turkey allowed foreign weaponized groups to operate on its own territory. A training camp was set up in 2011 in the sanjakof Alexandretta. The Syrian National Council was also created in Istanbul – a bunch of non-entities from the diaspora who had not been in Syria for decades.

Ankara enabled a de facto Jihad Highway — with people from Central Asia, Caucasus, Maghreb, Pakistan, Xinjiang, all points north in Europe being smuggled back and forth at will. In 2015, Ankara, Riyadh and Doha set up the dreaded Jaish al-Fath (“Army of Conquest”), which included Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda).

At the same time, Ankara maintained an extremely ambiguous relationship with ISIS/Daesh, buying its smuggled oil, treating jihadis in Turkish hospitals, and paying zero attention to jihad intel collected and developed on Turkish territory. For at least five years, the MIT — Turkish intelligence – provided political and logistic background to the Syrian opposition while weaponizing a galaxy of Salafis. After all, Ankara believed that ISIS/Daesh only existed because of the “evil” deployed by the Assad regime.

The Russian Factor

Russian President Vladiimir Putin meeting with President of Turkey Recep Erdogan; Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov standing in background, Ankara, Dec. 1, 2014 Ankara. (Kremlin)

The first major game-changer was the spectacular Russian entrance in the summer of 2015. Vladimir Putin had asked the U.S. to join in the fight against the Islamic State as the Soviet Union allied against Hitler, negating the American idea that this was Russia’s bid to restore its imperial glory. But the American plan instead, under Barack Obama, was single-minded: betting on a rag-tag Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a mix of Kurds and Sunni Arabs, supported by air power and U.S. Special Forces, north of the Euphrates, to smash ISIS/Daesh all the way to Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.

Raqqa, bombed to rubble by the Pentagon, may have been taken by the SDF, but Deir ez-Zor was taken by Damascus’s Syrian Arab Army. The ultimate American aim was to consistently keep the north of the Euphrates under U.S. power, via their proxies, the SDF and the Kurdish PYD/YPG. That American dream is now over, lamented by imperial Democrats and Republicans alike.

The CIA will be after Trump’s scalp till Kingdom Come.

Kurdish Dream Over

Talk about a cultural misunderstanding. As much as the Syrian Kurds believed U.S. protection amounted to an endorsement of their independence dreams, Americans never seemed to understand that throughout the “Greater Middle East” you cannot buy a tribe. At best, you can rent them. And they use you according to their interests. I’ve seen it from Afghanistan to Iraq’s Anbar province.

The Kurdish dream of a contiguous, autonomous territory from Qamichli to Manbij is over. Sunni Arabs living in this perimeter will resist any Kurdish attempt at dominance.

The Syrian PYD was founded in 2005 by PKK militants. In 2011, Syrians from the PKK came from Qandil – the PKK base in northern Iraq – to build the YPG militia for the PYD. In predominantly Arab zones, Syrian Kurds are in charge of governing because for them Arabs are seen as a bunch of barbarians, incapable of building their “democratic, socialist, ecological and multi-communitarian” society.

Kurdish PKK guerillas In Kirkuk, Iraq. (Kurdishstruggle via Flickr)

One can imagine how conservative Sunni Arab tribal leaders hate their guts. There’s no way these tribal leaders will ever support the Kurds against the SAA or the Turkish army; after all these Arab tribal leaders spent a lot of time in Damascus seeking support from Bashar al-Assad.  And now the Kurds themselves have accepted that support in the face of the Trukish incursion, greenlighted by Trump.

East of Deir ez-Zor, the PYD/YPG already had to say goodbye to the region that is responsible for 50 percent of Syria’s oil production. Damascus and the SAA now have the upper hand. What’s left for the PYD/YPG is to resign themselves to Damascus’s and Russian protection against Turkey, and the chance of exercising sovereignty in exclusively Kurdish territories.

Ignorance of the West

The West, with typical Orientalist haughtiness, never understood that Alawites, Christians, Ismailis and Druze in Syria would always privilege Damascus for protection compared to an “opposition” monopolized by hardcore Islamists, if not jihadis.  The West also did not understand that the government in Damascus, for survival, could always count on formidable Baath party networks plus the dreaded mukhabarat — the intel services.

Rebuilding Syria

The reconstruction of Syria may cost as much as $200 billion. Damascus has already made it very clear that the U.S. and the EU are not welcome. China will be in the forefront, along with Russia and Iran; this will be a project strictly following the Eurasia integration playbook — with the Chinese aiming to revive Syria’s strategic positioning in the Ancient Silk Road.

As for Erdogan, distrusted by virtually everyone, and a tad less neo-Ottoman than in the recent past, he now seems to have finally understood that Bashar al-Assad “won’t go,” and he must live with it. Ankara is bound to remain imvolved with Tehran and Moscow, in finding a comprehensive, constitutional solution for the Syrian tragedy through the former “Astana process”, later developed in Ankara.

The war may not have been totally won, of course. But against all odds, it’s clear a unified, sovereign Syrian nation is bound to prevail over every perverted strand of geopolitical molotov cocktails concocted in sinister NATO/GCC labs. History will eventually tell us that, as an example to the whole Global South, this will remain the ultimate game-changer.

 

Afghan Peace: A Pre-requisite for Prosperity in Eurasia Region

Afghan Peace: A Pre-requisite for Prosperity in Eurasia Region

October 10, 2019

by Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan for The Saker blog

Afghanistan is a landlocked country located within South-Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. With its population of 35 million approximately, having a GDP (nominal) of 22 billion US dollars in total, and per capita income of 600 Dollars only. Rich with minerals and natural resources, and well-known for its fruits and nuts, still suffering and laying among the least developed country of the world, ranked 177. Four decades of war have damaged the whole country and the whole nation is a victim of war imposed on them.

Its geopolitical location is vital for the whole Eurasian region, as it connects Central Asia, Iran, China, and Russia, with Pakistan, leading towards Warm Waters – the Arabian Sea or the Indian Ocean. All of the countries are suffering due to instability in Afghanistan and desires a long-lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Very unfortunate! Afghanistan is under war or war-like situation for the last 4 decades. Are Afghans are people of lesser God??? No sufficient food, No education, No health care, severe shortage of electricity, Shortage of fuel, are witnessed in Afghanistan. It seems the sufferings of Afghans are going to end. The world has realized that it is enough and now think in the restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan. The common man has suffered for more than 4 decades, which started with the former USSR entry of Afghanistan on the 25th of December 1979 and then internal power struggle among various factions of Afghanistan and finally after 9-11 incident happened in the US, NATO and allied forces entered into Afghanistan. NATO allies have been fighting in Afghanistan for 18 long years, but are still without control anywhere in the country. Even now, the US Army cannot move freely and fearlessly outside of Bagram Airbase. Taliban forces still control major parts of the country. After spending trillion Dollars, killing thousands of innocent people, testing and dumping tons of explosives, finally, the US has understood that they cannot win in Afghanistan. As a matter of fact, the US economy cannot sustain anymore, such as heavy and expensive wars. That is why the US has also decided to withdraw its troops from Syria too.

In fact, Afghanistan was never totally ruled by foreign powers, although in the country’s history many misadventures happened. The people of Afghanistan always defeated invaders. It has been invaded by Alexander the Great, Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviets and since 2001, by the United States with NATO-allied countries. But it has proved itself unconquerable. Afghans are brave people and believe in freedom only.

All of the regional countries, including Central Asian States, Russia, Iran, China, and Pakistan were trying to bring Peace and Stability in Afghanistan. Several initiatives for peace in Afghanistan were taken in the past, but none as successful as they were not involved or owned by locals –Taliban and were opposed by the US and its allies. The US-backed elected Governments in Afghanistan, do not enjoy popularity among masses and may not represent the voice of common Afghan nationals.

Pakistan, being neighbors with a long common border, understands Afghanistan well. We share rivers, mountains and a common culture, language and ethnicity, and language. That is why we understand Afghanistan much better than anybody else. The role which Pakistan can play, no other nation can. There is no other country to substitute Pakistan in this regard. The US was trying to involve India in Afghan Issues, but due to the reason it does not have any land linkage, neither any cultural or ethnic commonalities with Afghan, cannot understand their society or issues and helpless in resolving their issues. The world may acknowledge Pakistan’s sacrifices and positive role in this region. Pakistan sincerely wishes for peace and stability in Afghanistan, and as we have suffered losses of around 75,000 lives and $250 billion due to unrest in Afghanistan. We will be the first nation to support peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Pakistan was a very close ally with the US-led West alliance, for almost seven decades. We were partners during the Cold War against “Communism Threat” and a frontline state against the USSR invasion of Afghanistan, a strong supporter and close ally during the war on terror. Pakistan was strongest ally with West out-side NATO. Pakistan can play a vital role in a sustainable solution to the Afghan conflict. Complete withdrawal and an Afghan-led solution is the only permanent way out. Pakistan can facilitate an honorable and safe passage for US withdrawal.

Prime Minister, Imran Khan, a longtime critic of the Afghan war, is in the driving seat in Pakistan. In his maiden speech after winning the election on July 26, he expressed his wish to resolve Afghan issues. His stance, though very unpopular a few years ago, is extremely popular now, domestically as well as internationally, especially coincides with the currently emerged Americans approach. The US government knows that Pakistan under Khan’s leadership can woo the Taliban into accepting some kind of long-term ceasefire.

Pakistan wants to help with the Afghan peace process; peace in Afghanistan would be the best thing that could happen to Pakistan in decades, but certainly not at Pakistan’s expense. The US has asked Pakistan to bring the Taliban back to the table. How can Pakistan do this when the US had previously intentionally derailed the peace process? Recently U-turns by President Trump is even a major obstacle as a credibility issue. Yet, Pakistan did a lot to bring the Taliban on the negotiating table. But the peace process needs sincerity and persistence.

The US has to wake up to the realities in Pakistan. It cannot expect on one hand to harm Pakistan’s core interests and on the other hand strengthening its ties with India, especially after the Indian accession of Kashmir on the 5th of August 2019.

Criticizing Pakistan only, while ignoring Israel and India, who are engaged in genocide and worst atrocities against muslin and other minorities in their countries. On one hand, the US objects to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and resists Pakistan’s economic takeoff. And not extending any support to Pakistan to overcome its economic crisis.

The Taliban have been very clear in their demands from the very beginning, and that is a complete withdrawal of the US and its allied forces from Afghanistan. However, the US cannot sustain economic pressure and have to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan just like Syria. There are people in the US who think that after spending trillions of dollars, and still no achievement on the ground, is a blunder. Taxpayer are asking the government for accountability of heavy expenditures and wastage of their tax collected money. We hope, in the wider interest of humanity, the US may show flexibility and seriously consider the Afghan Peace Process. It will be good for Afghanistan, the region and over-all for the whole world.

Instability in Afghanistan makes many of its people flee into Pakistan, which has hosted up to 5 million Afghan refugees at peak times. No other country has accepted such a huge number of refugees, while Pakistan, a country with meager resources and a weak economy has accommodated them for such long 4 decades.

Pakistan was in the past a very tolerant and peace-loving, balanced society, but during the 1980s war in Afghanistan, Pakistan suffered extremism, intolerance, terrorism, gun culture, and drug culture. For four decades, the war in Afghanistan pushed Pakistan to give the highest priority to its defense and ignore other sectors such as education, health, science and technology, and innovation, as well as the social sector and developmental sectors. As a result, the nation was pushed backward.

In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s Pakistan’s economy was performing very well – it was one of the most rapidly developing countries in South Asia. Singapore, South Korea, and Malaysia wanted to learn from Pakistan and its development model. The Pakistani passport was well respected in the world, with many countries offering us visas on arrival.

But since December 25, 1979, with the situation in Afghanistan has impacted Pakistan severely. Terrorism reached extreme levels and bombings, suicidal attacks and insecurity were witnessed everywhere.

After a school attack on December 16, 2016, in Peshawar, Pakistan formulated a National Action Plan (NAP). With the implementation of this program, Pakistan has achieved significant improvement in the country’s overall security landscape in recent years.

However, while Pakistan is successfully fighting the terrorists on its soil, it also expects the US, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Afghan forces to do the same in Afghanistan.

Several Peace initiatives are witnessed recently, either it is Doha talks, Moscow Format, Beijing or Islamabad talks, Talban’s are serious and moving forward with a hope to restore peace in Afghanistan permanently. Talban’s are the actual pillar of Power in Afghanistan, who holds major part of the country in their control and enjoys popularity inside Afghanistan. The US administrations has also realized their power and believes talking with them directly. A peaceful and developed Afghanistan is vital for the whole Eurasian region. It will promote trade and economic activities and change the whole pattern of trade around the world. Beneficiary will be not only Afghanistan only, but the whole Eurasian region.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist, ex-Diplomate, Academician, Researcher, Peace-activist, Geo-analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), Islamabad, Pakistan. E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com)

Lavrov’s speech at the UN Security Council on September 25, 2019

September 26, 2019

Source

Lavrov’s speech at the UN Security Council on September 25, 2019Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the UN Security Council meeting on Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organisations in maintaining international peace and security: the contribution by the CSTO, CIS, and SCO in countering terrorist threats, New York, September 25, 2019

 

Mr Secretary General,

Members of the Security Council,

Colleagues,

Today, we are all faced with the problem of terrorism, which has grown more acute than ever. International terrorists, led by ISIS and al Qaeda, continue to sow terror and destruction around the world. As a result of their actions, the situation in the Middle East, including in Syria and Iraq, remains extremely alarming. The terrorist threat emanating from that region is spreading rapidly across the African continent, including through Libya. Central, South, and Southeast Asia are also becoming the scene of inhuman acts of terrorism. The problem of foreign terrorist fighters (as discussed by the Secretary General and our colleagues earlier today) who return to their homeland or their countries of residence, or move to third countries, is coming to the fore. An ever-smaller number of countries remain untouched by terrorism. In this regard, I would like to highlight the fact that several years ago, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation created an international database of terrorism, with about 50 states and several international organisations, including Interpol, involved in the project now. This database really helps track the movement of foreign terrorist fighters around the world. We invite everyone to join this important effort.

This state of affairs dictates the need to consolidate the efforts of the international community to counteract international terrorist networks. In 2015, President of Russia Vladimir Putin proposed an initiative here to form a broad international anti-terrorist front which would rely on the UN Charter, the norms and principles of international law, without political motivation or preconditions. This initiative is gaining an even greater relevance today. The double standards applied by some states are complicating the response to modern threats, including terrorism. Deviating from the principles of a consistent collective action against international terrorism is fraught with dire consequences.

It is unacceptable, I must emphasize this specifically, to use terrorist associations for selfish political goals. There can be no excuse for this.

The increasing cooperation with regional and sub-regional organisations as prescribed by Chapter VIII of the UN Charter is becoming more relevant today.

Our meeting today is devoted to the role of the CSTO, the CIS and the SCO in fighting terrorism in cooperation with the United Nations. These regional associations have a lot of experience in combating terrorist threats and are making serious contributions to strengthening stability on the vast expanse of the Eurasian continent. Their vigorous practical efforts are the key to ensuring the security of their member states. Their effective anti-terrorist efforts have contributed to a marked stabilisation in the Central Asian countries. The importance of these efforts has been confirmed this year in the unanimously adopted General Assembly resolutions on UN cooperation with the CSTO, the SCO and the CIS.

At the same time, we are concerned about the recurring attacks by foreign terrorists in the Central Asian countries, as well as by various terrorist groups’ recruitment campaigns in the region, including those associated with ISIS.

One CSTO priority is countering efforts to draw people into terrorist activities at all stages – from ideological indoctrination to returning from regions with higher terrorist activity after having received so called combat experience. Specific measures are taken to block the channels of recruitment by terrorist groups and to counter illegal migration. Much attention is paid to identifying threats on the internet, which has become a tool for disseminating extremist ideas.

Cooperation between the CSTO and the UN on the antiterrorist track is becoming more substantive. The memorandum of understanding between the CSTO and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism is being successfully carried out. A regular plan of collective actions by the CSTO member states on implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy for 2019-2020 will be discussed at the CSTO summit in November this year. The CSTO regularly makes a contribution to carrying out this strategy.

The SCO is a major factor in ensuring stability in Eurasia. Its indisputable priority is to enhance security in the region, in part, by countering extremism, terrorism and separatism. The defence departments of CSTO member countries regularly hold antiterrorist exercises on a scheduled basis.

In the years of its existence the SCO has formed a solid package of legal documents regulating the various aspects of national counter-terrorist activities of its members. The SCO Secretary-General spoke about this in detail today. I would like to point out the convention on combating extremism that was adopted at the highest level in 2017. It provides fixed fundamental principles of international cooperation in this area. Under the convention the participants play a decisive role and bear the main responsibility for its implementation. The convention is open to all interested parties. We invite them to join. I would also like to mention the effective operation of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), whose experience is much in demand in Eurasia. Last March the RATS signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Executive Directorate of the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee.

The CSTO and the SCO focus on threats emanating from Afghanistan, including threats to Central Asia. The north of Afghanistan could become a new bridgehead of ISIS-led international terrorist organisations. Afghanistan certainly requires external assistance in overcoming these threats and challenges.

The experience of the past few years has made it clear that not a single plan on developing economic cooperation between Central Asia and Afghanistan can be carried out without an adequate response to threats coming from Afghanistan. I would like to note in this context that the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group proceeds from this reality in following the roadmap on developing cooperation between the SCO member countries and Afghanistan. The roadmap was approved this year.

The Counter-Terrorism Centre has been operating in the CIS since 2000. It ensures coordination between national security agencies, special services and law enforcement bodies in fighting international terrorism. The centre closely cooperates with counter-terrorism sanctions committees and the Executive Directorate of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council as well as the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism. I hope these agencies will continue operating.

In conclusion, I would like to say that I was pleased to hear that the CSTO, the CIS and the SCO are willing to further promote antiterrorism cooperation with the UN to maintain regional and international peace and security. This was confirmed today in statements by the directors of their secretariats.

Who lost Russia?

September 24, 2019

by William H. Warrick III for The Saker Blog

Who lost Russia?

Seventy years ago this year everybody in the State Department and the Foreign Policy establishment was asking “Who lost China?” Now they are asking “Who lost Russia?” The real question is not who lost China or Russia, but why did they think they had either of them in the first place? We “lost” Iran 40 years ago which makes it a Trifecta. That means that those 3 countries which have a combined Historical and Cultural History of about 8,500 years, compared to our 243 years, together will decide the future of the Eurasian Landmass. This directly contradicts the 27 year-old ‘Wolfowitz Doctrine’, and the founding document of ‘The Project for The New American Century’.

Eurasia is the largest Landmass on Planet Earth and is composed of two sub-continents and the Asian continent that formed when the European and Indian Tectonic Plates collided with the Asian Plate. They are separated by the Mountain Ranges that formed when these Plates collided. The European Plate slid under the Asian Plate to form the Urals, and the Indian Plate slid under the Asian Plate and formed the Himalayas. In addition, Eurasia is also connected to the African Continent by a Land Bridge to North East Africa connecting the Semitic Countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, the Arabian Peninsula and the Saini Desert, connecting to Egypt. The connection of these Continents and Countries of Europe, Asia, East Asia, the Middle East and Africa control the majority of the World’s Population, territory, Natural Resources, Water, Rare Earths, Precious Metals and Energy supplies. Those who control this vast wealth and numbers of Peoples will be the most prosperous people on the Planet. The British Empire tried to get control of it but their attempt at “The Great Game” of controlling Afghanistan to keep Russia out ended in a disastrous defeat and slaughter of almost all their soldiers in Afghanistan. One made his way back to its garrison in Jalabad. They tried again in 1878 with another Anglo-Afghan War that was all about keeping Russia away from its prized possession, India without realizing that the Russian Empire was only looking for a Geographic barrier to its soft Southern Underbelly. That worked out a bit better and The Russian Empire didn’t come back because that was not their plan anyway.

The rest of the British Empire was lost in the World Wars and Independence Movements except for Hong Kong, but that too has reverted back to China although there is a ‘Color Revolution’ there now but that is unlikely to work either. The Anglo-American wish that they can get Hong Kong back by using Chinese students who carry American and British flags, and burn the Chinese Flag is unlikely to work either. MI-6 are using American GIs, Sailors and Marines with its “Special Relationship”, (common language and Lineage) with its Lost Colony, the US of A. They want to use our Military Might and our men and women in the Military to get it, and we need Political Leaders who understand that fact and won’t let it happen. The problem is that very few if any of our leaders (except for one future leader) understand that, or they are supportive of it. The State of Israel is connected to this because they see themselves ruling this World Government from Jerusalem in a plan concocted by Cecil Rhodes in the mid-nineteenth Century along with co-conspirators, John Ruskin and Lord Nathan Rothschild in his ‘Seven Secret Wills’. This is the origin of the ‘Deep State’ with tentacles all over the British Empire. All those who are on board for it are in the 1% and their “Overseers” in the 10% who ride herd on the 89% to achieve this megalomaniacal pipe dream. This ‘World Government’ was written about by Aldous Huxley, an MI-6 Asset in the British East India Company, in Brave New World. In order to achieve this it requires our Military to wage War all over Eurasia and Africa and for that to happen there have to be ‘threats’ that require our Military intervention. These ‘threats’ include ‘terrorists’, Russia, China and Iran, hence we have our Military waging various wars all over Eurasia and Africa, and permanent Military Bases, of which there are hundreds, all over Europe, the British Isles, Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Baltic States, Middle East, Africa, Korea, Japan, Australia, Guam, and other places too numerous to list. George Orwell said all of this in 1984. It is an area inside of “Tangiers, Brazzaville, Darwin and Hong Kong. The lines connecting these cities bow out due to the flattened sphere of Earth and that is where all the current wars are being fought. In addition, we have around 25,000 troops in South Korea, 2 or 3 times that in Japan, mostly on Okinawa, more on Guam, one in Australia and at least one in Israel.

However, there is a problem that has arisen in this “Long War on Humanity”. We don’t have conscription anymore so we have to rely on recruiting which is becoming more difficult. During the War on Vietnam that the troops and sailors eventually figured out a War halfway around the Planet was not in their interest and protests, led by returning GIs and sailors who had created and self-printed over 300 Anti-War newspapers with the assistance of civilians and Veterans who had been discharged. They were fed up with fighting, dying, getting wounded, getting PTSD and Moral Injury for Empire so Resistance within the Military began ramping up. Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) was founded in 1967, just 2 years after the war started and grew quickly across the country, in Europe, in the Army, Navy, Marines and the Air Force. Veterans For Peace (VFP) began in 1985 after the Contra War on Nicaragua began because Vietnam Vets didn’t want their kids getting caught up in Wars for Empire like they did. Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) was founded in August 2004 at the VFP Convention in Boston just 17 months after the War started. All of this Resistance came out of this Quest for Empire. The War on Vietnam, ‘Operation Condor’, the War on Central and South American Leftists by the Dictators of the involved Countries, GWI and the Post-911 Wars have all taken place on the Eurasian, Middle Eastern, and African Continents, control of which automatically result in control of Planet Earth. Along with that were all of our wars on Central and South America in Operation Condor, a War of Terror on Leftists organizing against the Dictators in those countries. All of these Wars are clear evidence of an attempt at World Conquest and Empire. This megalomaniacal idea is and has been dead since China and Russia formed their Geostrategic Alliance in 1999 as reported by Mahdi Darius Nazemroya on the website of The Center for Research on Globalization a dozen years ago. A 58-60% majority of the soldiers who fought these 911 Wars, Democrats, Independents and Republicans all now say these wars weren’t worth it. The Pentagon had to adjust the recruiting goal for FY 2019 downward so they could “make their recruitment goal”. All of this does not bode well for the ‘Long War’, The Long War Against Humanity.

In addition to the Grunts, Airmen and Sailors figuring things out, the victim Countries figure things out as well. During the Nixon-Kissinger Era Dick and Henry came up with the bright idea of splitting China away from the Soviet Union which worked for a while, although Kissinger said at the time we might have to do the opposite with the Soviets, now the Russian Federation, several Decades down the line. This in fact has finally happened except for a big “but”, and that “but” is that Russia and China, who play complex strategy games like Chess and Go, put their heads together and came up with a Geostrategic Alliance, which includes Iran as a Silent Partner, and “The BRICS” Trade Bloc, Brazil (which has dropped out with the selection of Bolsanro until Lula gets out of jail and runs again), Russia, India, China and South Africa. Serious discussions on this Russia-China Geostrategic alliance began in the mid-1990s and in 1999 the plan was agreed upon and put on paper. What came out of it is “The China-Russia Double Helix”, a Symbiotic Relationship of interdependence that insulates them forever from this aggressive menace of the “English-speaking countries” that Cecil Rhodes decided had to Rule a World Empire/Government because they are the only people with the brains and ability to do it. The British and American elites have finally become aware that China and Russia along with India, Iran and the Countries of Eurasia are going their own way and Integrating Eurasia by means of the “New Silk Road” initiative, the “Maritime Silk Road”, the Arctic Sea Route, the BRICS and various groups aligning along Economic Integration and Trade and formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to protect the Project. They are ditching the Petrodollar to trade in their own currencies and form the “Multi-Polar New World Order” as opposed to the Uni-Polar New World Order” model of the Deep State. The “geniuses” of the State Department, Pentagon, EU and WTO have played it down or tried to ignore it hoping that if no one knew about it might go away, falsely believing the Russians, Chinese, India and Iranians could never work together. To make it worse they have become Brain washed by their own Russia-bashing, Russophobic Propaganda and can’t think outside of this box. Even worse, this has seeped into the training of ‘Russia Experts’, so we don’t have any who actually understand Russia and therefore they underestimate Russia and that is a Fatal Error that has discovered by many Governments and countries in the past like Napoleon and Hitler. This Geostrategic Alliance in which Iran is a Silent Partner, isn’t going away, it is getting bigger and stronger by the month. Recently one of the EU naughty children of ‘The PIGS’, (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) signed on to be a node in the BRI with China and now the fears have risen to panic levels. They think, because of being captives of the aforementioned belief in their own faulty Propaganda, that they can pull Russia and China apart but haven’t figured out yet that isn’t possible because they are unaware of the China-Russia Double Helix. They are trying but it isn’t working so they can’t understand why. This is one of those ‘Unknown Unknowns’ Donald Rumsfeld worried about over a Decade ago tripping them up. Now another ‘Unknown Unknown’ has popped up: SA’s big oil complex, which is several hundred kilometers from Yemen, has had a major portion of its oil production facilities knocked out of commission by these rag-tag and underestimated Houthi rebels with Knock-off Iranian Drones and missiles which has resulted in a bump up of World oil prices. The Houthi said they did it with the assistance of Local Patriotic Allies that provided the coordinates of the targets that were destroyed. Secretary Pompeo AKA ‘Pompus Minimus’ so named by Pepe Escobar, immediately named Iran as the culprit, but carefully avoids the fact that America’s ‘Vaunted Anti-Missile defense Patriot system’ that should have prevented the attack was asleep, aimed in the wrong direction, and faced East in a 120 degree arc instead of 360 degrees.

The Founding Document of the anglozionist Empire, “The Wolfowitz Doctrine”, written by Paul Wolfowitz in 1992 stated that no Peer Competitor can by allowed to have Hegemony on the Eurasian Landmass. Zbigniew Brzezinski echoed this in his book, The Grand Chessboard in 1997, and then by The Project for a New American Century in September 2000. The strategists of the ‘Five Eyes’ are becoming dimly aware that the Wolfowitz-Brzezinski Declarations have failed, so now they face the dilemma of possibly having to go to war with Russia, China and Iran ALL AT THE SAME TIME but are afraid they might not even win a war against any single one them alone, and now they don’t know what to do. So now they came up with a new ‘Bright Idea’: ‘Mininukes’ that ‘won’t be harmful to the Human Beings they drop them on so they could use them. John Bolton’s temporary replacement said back in the ‘80s said ‘Nuclear War is winnable’ because we could rebuild with the 20 million or so American survivors of this ‘Winnable Nuclear War’. We could rebuild the Country and take over Eurasia. The fact that these ‘safer Mininukes’ won’t work with Russia because every War Game scenario ever played against Russia has very quickly escalated into full scale Nuclear War thereby violating the basic Pentagon rule going back to the ‘50s that Nuclear War can’t be won and therefore can never be fought. On top of that Russia has very quietly developed Hypersonic Nuclear Missiles that fly at Mach 10-20, 7,600 to 15,200mph that can make evasive maneuvers and therefore can’t be shot down. They also have Nuclear Powered Cruise Missiles that can fly virtually indefinitely and Nuclear Powered Cruise Torpedoes that remain submerged indefinitely that have a velocity of 200 knots. China has Supersonic anti-ship missiles that fly at Mach 5. We don’t have ANY Supersonic missiles, hypersonic missiles, Nuclear Powered missiles or torpedoes. They did this because as Putin said: “You didn’t listen to us at Munich in 2007”. Again, our racist, Russophobic Propaganda, our so-called ‘Russia Experts’ had been Brain Washed with has put them in a Box they can’t think their way out of.

The upshot of this is we didn’t “lose Russia” because the fact is we never had it to lose in the first place, so the Empire, the Brits, the Saudis and Israel are between the proverbial “Rock and a Hard Place” and don’t have any options or realistic ideas of what to do. The last West European leader still standing, Macron, who had worked at a Rothschild owned bank and came out of nowhere to get ‘selected’ to be the leader of France several years ago, has decided that Europe has to go a different way, stop kowtowing to Washington, cozy up to Russia and “pull them back to the West”. Again, he is unaware of that pesky ‘Unknown Unknown’, the Geostrategic Alliance of China and Russia with Iran in the background that makes it impossible. So he gave this speech to an assembly of Ambassadors outlining why this (impossible feat) must be done. His plan begins with The Ukraine and the Minsk II Accords that will force the new President, Zelenski, to make serious decisions to move on Minsk II, although Zelenski has been warned by the Ukronazis unleashed with the Coup on Feb 22, 1914, that he will be deposed in a New Maidan (and probably murdered) if he even tries this. I’m not making any bets on if or when Macron will figure out none of this going anywhere because Zelenski is between a Rock and a Hard Place too and can’t move on Minsk II. Where all this is going is again ‘Unknown’, and as Yogi Berra once said: “Predictions are hard to make, especially about the Future”. One thing we know for sure is that right after Macron’s speech a formal meeting between President Putin and the Premier of the State Council of The People’s Republic of China, Li Keqiang. At this meeting President Putin spelled out a clear message directed at President Macron which was that the EU has nothing to offer Russia that would pull it away from China because they are fully aligned with each other in a Future of total alignment of their Geostrategic, Economic and Military affairs.

Dr Warrick was born in Philadelphia, Pa. in December 1943 and has Bachelors Degrees in Business Administration and Psychology, an MD Degree from the University of Pennsylvania and was a Family Physician in Gainesville Florida for 34 years and now does Open Source Intelligence Analysis in Geopolitics, The Empire, Public Banking and Modern Monetary Theory.

Syria Expresses Its Freedom Through Resistance

Global Research, September 20, 2019

Syria expresses her freedom in her resistance to Empire. Resistance takes many forms and trajectories, but they all lead to freedom.

Resistance delivers freedom from terrorism, it expresses itself not only when the SAA defeats Western supported terrorists, but also when Syria rebuilds from the ruins.

Resistance and freedom are evident when Syria and Syrians choose their own political economy. Syrians choose President Assad, and he is staying. Syrians choose a secular government and constitution, and they are staying.

Ironically, but predictably, social schisms DID occur in Syria prior to 2011. As Prof. Chossudovsky notes in “SYRIA: NATO’s Next ‘Humanitarian’ War?”,(1) in 2006 Syria adopted economic reforms under IMF guidance (2) which included austerity measures, wage freezes, financial deregulation, trade reforms and privatizations.

This economic poison served Empire well, but not Syria.

However, Syria still has its own public Central Bank, which promises a free and self-determining political economy. Reportedly, even now, Syria has no external debts.

Central Bank of Syria

Syrian society is more equal than its Western counterparts. Everyone is entitled to free education, and everyone is entitled to free healthcare. Access is not limited by a person’s ability to pay. Equal access to healthcare and education also mean that there is more gender equity in Syria than there is in the West.

Interview with Dr. Ayssar Midani

Prior to the war, Syria was largely self-sufficient. She had food security and financial security.

Despite the criminal economic blockade, the criminal occupations, and the terrorism imposed on her, she remains steadfast. Syrians still receive their salaries and they still receive their pensions. The West would prefer that the world remain blind to Syria’s successes, and the West still seeks to destroy these successes of democracy and of political and economic independence.

The task of post-war reconstruction is gargantuan. Here, Syria’s allies, in particular Russia and China, will play a pivotal role, which will further alienate the terrorist-supporting West. Syria will become more economically integrated into Eurasia, and the One Belt One Road initiative. (3)

Syria resists, and Syria rebuilds, so true freedom, which lies submerged in the hearts of us all, will continue to burn brighter and stronger in Syria, for all the world to see.

*

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Mark Taliano is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and the author of Voices from Syria, Global Research Publishers, 2017. Visit the author’s website at https://www.marktaliano.net where this article was originally published.

Notes

(1) Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, “SYRIA: NATO’s Next ‘Humanitarian’ War?”
ONLINE INTERACTIVE I-BOOK , Global Research, 11 February, 2012 (https://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-nato-s-next-humanitarian-war/29234 ) Accessed 19 September, 2019

(2) “Syrian Arab Republic — IMF Article IV Consultation, Mission’s Concluding Statement,” May 14, 2016.
(https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2015/09/28/04/52/mcs051406 ) Accessed 19 September, 2019

(3)Finian Cunningham, “Enter the dragon: China’s crucial role in winning Syria peace” RT, 24 May, 2018. (https://www.rt.com/op-ed/427699-china-syria-business-peace/) Accessed 19 September, 2019.


Order Mark Taliano’s Book “Voices from Syria” directly from Global Research.

Mark Taliano combines years of research with on-the-ground observations to present an informed and well-documented analysis that refutes  the mainstream media narratives on Syria. 

Voices from Syria 

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

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Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 1 new chapter)

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Welcome to the Indo-Russia maritime Silk Road

 

by Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

September 06, 2019

Modi and Putin discuss business and joint ventures at an economic conference in the Far East

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin review a Kamov KA-226T helicopter painted in Indian Army colors at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia on Wednesday. Photo: Grigory Sysoev / Sputnik / AFP

There’s no way to follow the complex inner workings of the Eurasia integration process without considering what takes place annually at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

BRICS for the moment may be dead – considering the nasty cocktail of economic brutalism and social intolerance delivered by the incendiary “Captain” Bolsonaro in Brazil. Yet RIC – Russia-India-China – is alive, well and thriving.

That was more than evident after the Putin-Modi bilateral summit in Vladivostok.

A vast menu was on the table, from aviation to energy. It included the “possibility of setting up joint ventures in India that would design and build passenger aircraft,” defense technologies and military cooperation as the basis for “an especially privileged strategic partnership,” and a long-term agreement to import Russian crude, possibly using the Northern Sea Route and a pipeline system.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, center right, tour an exhibition at the 5th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Sept 4. Photo: Grigory Sysoev / Sputnik / AFP

All that seems to spell out a delightful revival of the notorious Soviet-era motto Rusi-Hindi bhai bhai (Russians and Indians are brothers).

And all that would be complemented by what may be described as a new push for a Russia-India Maritime Silk Road – revival of the Chennai-Vladivostok maritime corridor.

Arctic to the Indian Ocean

Chennai-Vladivostok may easily interlock with the Chinese-driven Maritime Silk Road from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean and beyond, part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Simultaneously, it may add another layer to Russia’s “pivot to Asia”.

The “pivot to Asia” was inevitably discussed in detail in Vladivostok. How is it interpreted across Asia? What do Asians want to buy from Russia? How can we integrate the Russian Far East into the pan-Asian economy?

As energy or trade corridors, the fact is both Chennai-Vladivostok and Belt and Road spell out Eurasia integration. India in this particular case will profit from Russian resources traveling all the way from the Arctic and the Russian Far East, while Russia will profit from more Indian energy companies investing in the Russian Far East.

The fine-print details of the Russia-China “comprehensive strategic partnership” as well as Russia’s push for Greater Eurasia were also discussed at length in Vladivostok. A crucial factor is that as well as China, Russia and India have made sure their trade and economic relationship with Iran – a key node of the ongoing, complex Eurasian integration project – remains.

As Russia and India stressed: “The sides acknowledge the importance of full and efficient implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program for ensuring regional and international peace, security and stability. They confirm full commitment to Resolution 2231 of the UN Security Council.”

Most of all, Russia and India reaffirmed an essential commitment since BRICS was set up over a decade ago. They will continue to “promote a system of mutual transactions in national currencies,” bypassing the US dollar.

One can easily imagine how this will go down among Washington sectors bent on luring India into the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy, which is a de facto China containment mechanism.

Luring Chinese capital

In terms of Eurasian integration, what’s happening in the Russian Far East totally interlocks with a special report on China’s grand strategy across the Eurasian heartland presented in Moscow earlier this week.

Vladivostock harbor. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Vladivostock harbor. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

As for Russia’s own “pivot to Asia,” an essential plank of which is integration of the Russian Far East, inevitably it’s bound to remain a complex issue. A sobering report by the Valdai club meticulously details the pitfalls. Here are the highlights:

– A depopulation phenomenon: “Many well-educated and ambitious young people go to Moscow, St. Petersburg or Shanghai in the hope of finding opportunities for career advancement and personal fulfillment, which they still do not see at home. The overwhelming majority of them do not come back.”

– Who’s benefitting? “The federal mega projects, such as the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline, the Power of Siberia gas pipeline or the Vostochny Cosmodrome produce an increase in gross regional product but have little effect on the living standards of the majority of Far Easterners.”

– What else is new? “Oil and gas projects on Sakhalin account for the lion’s share of FDI. And these are not new investments either – they were made in the late 1990s-2000s, before the proclaimed “turn to the East.”

– The role of Chinese capital: There’s no rush towards the Far East yet, “in part because Chinese companies would like to mine natural resources there on similarly liberal terms as in Third World countries, such as Angola or Laos where they bring their own workforce and do not overly concern themselves with environmental regulations.”

– The raw material trap: Resources in the Russian Far East “are by no means unique, probably with the exception of Yakutian diamonds. They can be imported from many other countries: coal from Australia, iron ore from Brazil, copper from Chile and wood from New Zealand, all the more so since the costs of maritime shipping are relatively low today.”

– Sanctions: “Many potential investors are scared off by US sanctions on Russia.”

The bottom line is that for all the pledges in the “comprehensive strategic partnership,“ the Russian Far East has not yet built an effective model for cooperation with China.

That will certainly change in the medium term as Beijing is bound to turbo-charge its “escape from Malacca” strategy, to “build up mainland exports of resources from Eurasian countries along its border, including the Russian Far East. The two recently built bridges across the Amur River obviously could be of help in this respect.”

What this means is that Vladivostok may well end up as a major hub for Russia and India after all.

واشنطن تبحث عن بدائل لداعش وأخواتها من كابول الى بغداد

سبتمبر 4, 2019

محمد صادق الحسيني

تحاول واشنطن عبثاً تأخير إعلان هزيمتها التاريخية المدوية امام مشروع المقاومة…! وذلك من خلال تبديل أسماء ميليشياتها، بعد توالي الهزائم عليها في أكثر من عاصمة عربية وإسلامية، ظناً منها انّ تبديل الجلد كفيل بإطالة عمرها الاستعماري.

وكما بدأت غزوها الحديث لبلادنا عبر الحرب بالوكالة من أفغانستان ها هي تحاول الهروب المنظم من أفغانستان…

1 ـ يعود تاريخ العمل السري للمخابرات المركزية الأميركية في أفغانستان الى حقبة الوجود العسكري السوفياتي في هذا البلد، خلال عقد الثمانينات من القرن الماضي، حيث كانت سي أي آي هي الجهة التي تقدّم الدعم اللوجستي فيما تقدّم السعودية الدعم المالي للمجموعات الجهاهدية الأفغانية آنذاك. وكان أسامة بن لادن هو المنسّق الرسمي لنشاطات المجموعات الأفغانية التي تقاتل القوات السوفياتية.

2 ـ بدأت وكالة المخابرات المركزية الأميركية، بالتعاون مع الاستخبارات العسكرية الباكستانية وبتمويل سعودي أيضاً. بإنشاء ميليشيا مسلحة جديدة، تحت قيادتها وإدارتها المباشرة، وذلك مع بدء انسحاب القوات السوفياتية من أفغانستان سنة 1989.

تلك الميليشيا التي كانت قد أعدّت مسبقاً، أيّ قبل الانسحاب السوفياتي، في مدارس باكستان الدينية المموّلة من آل سعود، وهي حركة طالبان، التي كانت تدعو لـ الجهاد العالمي مما أدخلها في نزاع مسلح مع المجاهدين الأفغان انتهى باستيلاء حركة طالبان على الحكم في أواسط تسعينيات القرن الماضي.

أيّ انّ الولايات المتحدة، بالتعاون مع آل سعود، قد زرعت بذور الفوضى الشاملة الحروب الأهلية والإرهاب في أفغانستان منذ أواخر ثمانينيات القرن الماضي، خاصة أنها أفشلت محاولة دبلوماسية، قامت بها منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية على سبيل المثال، وهدفت الى إقامة حكومة متفق عليها بين الاتحاد السوفياتي والمجاهدين وملك أفغانستان السابق، الملك محمد ظاهر شاه، ورئيسة الوزراء الباكستانية آنذاك، بنظير بوتو.

فالولايات المتحدة، عبر المخابرات المركزية الأميركية، كانت هي من أفشلت هذا الاتفاق الذي تمّ التوصل إليه بعد اتصالات وجهود مضنية مع الأطراف المعنية وفي ثلاث قارات من قارات العالم.

3 ـ والآن ومع قرب التوصل الى اتفاقية وقف لإطلاق النار، بين الولايات المتحدة وحركة طالبان، تمهّد لانسحاب القوات الأميركية وقوات حلف الناتو من أفغانستان، فإنّ من الضروري الإضاءة على السياسة الميليشياوية، التي تواصل الولايات المتحدة تنفيذها في هذا البلد، من خلال إنشائها لتنظيمات مسلحة جديدة ميليشيات منذ احتلالها لأفغانستان في شهر تشرين الأول 2001.

4 ـ وأشهر هذه التنظيمات وأكثرها قوة وتسليحاً هو تنظيم: قوات حماية خوست Khost Protection Force والتي تدار عبر غرفة عمليات لها في قاعدة المخابرات المركزية الأميركية التي تسمّى: قاعدة شابمان CIA s Camp Chapman والموجودة في مقاطعة خوست الأفغانية، جنوب شرق العاصمه كابل.

علماً انّ إجمالي تعداد هذه الميليشيات، التي تموَّل وتدار بالكامل من قبل المخابرات الأميركية، قد وصل الى ثلاثة عشر ألف رجل منتشرين في معظم أنحاء أفغانستان.

5 ـ أما عن علاقتهم بالاتفاق، المزمع إعلانه قريباً بين الولايات المتحدة وحركة طالبان، فهو طرح موضوعهم، من قبل المفاوض الأميركي سلمان خليل زاد، على طاولة البحث مع طالبان، حيث طلب خليل زاد ضمانات من طالبان لأمنهم بعد انسحاب القوات الأميركية. وهو الأمر الذي ترفضه طالبان، حتى الآن، مما يؤخر الإعلان عن الاتفاق، أملاً من الطرف الأميركي في التوصل الى صيغة ما، تحافظ على عنصر التفجير هذا الميليشيات لاستخدامه مستقبلاً، الى جانب فلول داعش، التي نقلتها طائرات سلاح الجو الأميركي من سورية والعراق ونشرتها على حدود أفغانستان مع إيران وجمهوريات الاتحاد السوفياتي السابقة شمالاً.

6 ـ إذن فالولايات المتحدة الأميركية، وكما يتضح من المشار إليه أعلاه، تقوم بإنشاء تشكيلات مسلحة وزرع بذور الفوضى والحروب قبل ان تنسحب من أيّ مكان. فما يعيق انسحابها من سورية والعراق، هو استكمال تدريب وتسليح القوات العميلة، سواء في شمال شرق سورية أو في مناطق أخرى، والتي يجري تدريبها وإمدادها بالسلاح في قاعدة التنف في سورية وفي قواعد أميركية أخرى في الأردن، كما في قاعدة عين الأسد غرب بغداد وفِي قواعد ميليشيا البرزاني الكردية والتي يشرف على تشغيلها وتحريكها ضباط من الاستخبارات العسكرية الإسرائيلية.

7 ـ وهذا بالضبط هو العامل الذي يحدّد موقف المراوغ الأطلسي، أردوغان، في ما يتعلق بمحافظة إدلب وغيرها من المحافظات السورية المحتلة أميركياً أو تركياً. انه أمر عمليات القيادة المركزية الأميركية للمنطقة الوسطى، ومقرّها قاعدة العيديد في قطر، الذي يقضي بإيجاد الترتيبات الضرورية، للحفاظ على المجموعات المسلحة، في سورية والعراق كقوات احتياط، يمكن للولايات المتحدة وحلف شمال الأطلسي ان يناوروا بها، في الزمان والمكان الذي يقرّرونه مستقبلاً.

وبكلمات أكثر وضوحاً فإنّ ذلك يعني: الحفاظ على هذه العصابات المسلحة، سواءً في العراق، حيث يقوم الجيش الأميركي بهذا الدور، أو في سورية حيث يتشارك الأميركي والتركي تنفيذ مؤامرة إطالة عمر العدوان على سورية، من خلال تغليف ذلك بغلاف ما يطلقون عليه الحلّ السياسي، أو في العراق من خلال ما يسمّونه استكمال محاربة داعش ومواجهة تعاظم النفوذ الإيراني في هذا البلد.

8 ـ أما ما يغيب عن بال المخططين الاستراتيجيين الأميركيين فهو عامل الانقلاب الذي شهدته موازين القوى، في المنطقة والعالم، والتي لم تعد تسمح لهم بفرض إرادتهم وهيمنتهم على الشعوب كما كان الأمر في العقدين الماضيين. الأمر الذي يجعل تكتيكاتهم تلك، ايّ المناورة بالعصابات الإرهابية المسلحة هنا وهناك، عاجزة عن تحقيق أهدافهم، وبالتالي فإنّ عليهم البحث عن استراتيجيات تنطلق من موازين القوى الدولية المستجدة والاعتراف بهزيمة مشاريعهم وفتح مسار جديد في سياساتهم، بالعودة الى الأسس والقوانين الدوليهة، التي يجب ان تحكم علاقات الدول بين بعضها البعض، ما يخلق الأرضية لعلاقات متوازنة بين الدول ولاستقرار سياسي على الصعيد الدولي سيمثل القاعدة الصلبة لمسار اقتصادي اجتماعي دولي يمنع إشعال الحروب ويبعد الأزمات الاقتصادية والمالية عن دول وشعوب العالم أجمع. كلّ هذا شرطه استخدام واشنطن لعقلها وهو ما بات مشكوكاً فيه كثيراً في عهد إدارة ترامب المتخبّطة في استراتيجيتها والغارقة في التيه الإسرائيلي .

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

سياسات أردوغان تتمزّقُ في التدافع الروسي الأميركي!

أغسطس 23, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

التنافس بين هذين الفريقين الدوليين على استمالة تركيا ليس جديداً لكنه انتهى منذ خمسينيات القرن الماضي الى الانتصار الأميركي مكللاً بانتساب تركيا الى حلف «الناتو» وتكوّرها ضمن العباءة الأميركية.

هناك عاملان مستجدان طرآ على هذه المعادلة التاريخية.

وهما انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي وبداية المشروع الأميركي لتشكيل الشرق الأوسط الجديد.

فاعتقد الأميركيون ان الترك على سالف عهدهم مؤيدون تلقائياً لأيّ تحرك أميركي جديد.

فيما اعتقد الأتراك انها الفرصة التاريخية الملائمة لإعادة إحياء نسبية لعظمتهم التاريخية من خلال الالتصاق بالحركة الأميركية الجديدة.

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فهم من أكبر دول الشرق الاوسط وأقواها، فلماذا لا يحق لهم المشاركة في «لعبة» استعمارية تدور في منطقتهم وعلى صهوة جواد عثماني او بعمائم الاخوان المسلمين؟

هنا بدأ التباين يقترب والى حدود التناقض خصوصاً أن انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي أوحى للأميركيين بانتفاء حاجتهم للخدمات التركية التي كانت تشكل قبل 1990 حاجزاً في وجه التقدم السوفياتي نحو الشرق الاوسط.

بما يسهم في تدني الدور التركي عند الأميركيين إنما من دون التخلي عنه في وجه روسيا على الاقل.

لكن أردوغان لم يقتنع فأفغانستان لم تستسلم وإيران اخترقت النفوذ الأميركي بنسج تحالفات مع بلدان كثيرة في الشرق الاوسط وتمكنت من الحد من تأثيره بشكل كبير في محطات اساسية في المنطقة.

بالمقابل وضعت تركيا امكاناتها الاستخبارية والتسليحية والحدودية والعسكرية في خدمة انتقال أعداد مذهلة من الإرهابيين الى العراق وسورية، إلا أن هذه الأدوار بدت في حينه متكاملة مع المشروع الأميركي بإسناداته السعودية والإماراتية والإسرائيلية.

إلا ان نتائج الجهود التركية لم تتطابق مع الحسابات الأميركية بدليل ان الأتراك استغلوا حتى آخر درجة ممكنة أهمياتهم الحدودية مع سورية والعراق وتجانسهم العرقي مع ذوي الأصول التركمانية في سورية والعراق وارتباطهم الايديولوجي بفدرالية الاخوان المسلمين العالمية.

فتوصلوا عبر استعمال هذه المقوّمات الى بناء إرهاب خاص بهم في عشرات التنظيمات المتنوّعة ناسجين مع متفرّعات منظمة القاعدة الإرهابية، ارتباطاً الى حدود الدمج مستغلين بالطبع رفضهم للعلاقة الأميركية مع الأكراد في سورية والعراق. لانها تهدد حسب مزاعمهم الوحدة الاجتماعية والسياسية والوطنية لبلدهم تركيا وعلى مستوى وحدة الكيان.

ما بدا خارجاً عن المألوف بالنسبة للأميركيين هو التقارب الروسي التركي الذي عكس سياسة روسية حكيمة تتعامل مع الأتراك بعقلية احتواء طموحهم الإقليمي وليس الصدام معه، مقابل عقد اتفاقات ثنائية بين البلدين لتصدير الغاز الروسي الى أوروبا وإعادة السماح للسياح الروس بارتياد تركيا مع عقد صفقات اقتصادية ضخمة وأسلحة مختلفة بينها أس أس 400 للدفاع الصاروخي.

لقد جاء هذا التقارب ثمرة تقارب سياسي بين البلدين التحقت به إيران منتجاً معادلتي «سوتشي وآستانا» لبناء حلول للازمة السورية.

وما أن أدركت وعود تركيا مراحل استحقاقها خصوصاً لجهة سحب الإرهابيين المرتبطين بها لنحو عشرين كيلومتراً الى داخل منطقة ادلب، حتى عاد الأميركيون الى محاولة إعادة تركيا الى قطيعها، عارضين عليها «منطقة آمنة مزعومة» عند حدودها مع سورية كوسيلة لاحتواء ما تعتقد انه خطر آتٍ عليها في المشروع الكردي في شرقي الفرات والشمال، وهو مشروع مدعوم أميركياً وبشكل علني هدفه رص الصفوف الكردية مع مشروع واشنطن وبشكل معادٍ للدولة السورية واستخدام الانتشار الديموغرافي الكردي في إيران والعراق وسورية وتركيا بما يرفع من فاعلية الاختراقات الأميركية.

وهكذا يتضح أن الأميركيين استفادوا من المراوغة التركية في تلبية نتائج آستانة لجهة سحب إرهابييها من قسم من إدلب، مراهنين على عدم الرغبة التركية بالخروج النهائي من الناتو، والعالم الغربي حيث يعمل ستة ملايين تركي في دوله المتنوّعة. فحاولوا فجذبوا الترك في عرض يقضي بنشر قوات تركية في منطقة سورية حدودية بعمق 14 كيلومتراً وطول لا يتعدى الثمانين كيلومتراً مع دعم احتلالهم لعفرين وإدلب وشمالي حماه وبعض ارياف حلب.

إن هذا العرض الأميركي «السخي» وبالطبع من أكياس الآخرين كالعادة يكشف عن محاولة أميركية لإيقاف التقدم الروسي عند حدود ادلب بواسطة المراوغة التركية بعدم تنفيذها للاتفاقات.

لقد اعتقد أردوغان ان الروس بحاجة بنيوية إليه، بما يسمح له بالمزيد من المراوغة والألاعيب متوهماً بوجود منعٍ روسي على أي عملية عسكرية سورية ضد مغامراته، مراهناً أيضاً على الانهماك الإيراني في التصدي للحرب الأميركية في الخليج.

Image result for ‫اردوغان السلطان العثماني‬‎

إلا ان الواضح هنا، يتعلق بدولة سورية حليفة لروسيا وإيران، تعرف مصالحها والحدود التي يجب أن تقف عندها، بدليل أن تركيا لم تحترم مع موسكو وطهران أياً من التزاماتها على حساب السيادة السورية، كما ان الرئيس بوتين بات مقتنعاً بضرورة الذهاب الى الميدان العسكري لكبح الأميركي «وعقلنة» التركي فتبلورت معركة الجيش السوري في إدلب، نتيجة إصرار سوري واستحسان روسي وتأييد إيراني، ففوجئ الأتراك بالجيش السوري يتقدّم بسرعة نحو خط العشرين كيلومتراً في عمق إدلب بما أسهم ايضاً في تحرير أرياف حماه الشمالية وحاول الجيش التركي بإيعاز أميركي التقدم نحو خان شيخون لحماية الإرهابيين ومنعهم من الانسحاب وقراءة المدى الذي يريده الروس، وجاء الرد بقصف استهدف الرتل التركي من طائرات حربية سورية، أرغمته على التوقف.

 

عند هذا الحد، فهم الأميركيون ان روسيا مستعدة لمقارعتهم في الميدان، بوسائلها المباشرة، وعبر تغطية التقدم الميداني للجيش السوري. فهذه مرحلة مناسبة لسورية وروسيا لإفهام التركي بوقف محاولات الاستفادة من الصراع الروسي الأميركي على حساب الدور الروسي من جهة والسيادة السورية من جهة ثانية.

وهذه رسالة «إدلبية أولى» سرعان ما تليها رسائل متتابعة من الجيش السوري المدعوم من حلفائه لإخراج الدور التركي من سورية وتالياً من العراق وذلك لإعادته الى بلاده التي تستعد للقضاء على آخر السلاطين الوهميين رجب طيب أردوغان.

US Now Admits it is Funding “Occupy Central” in Hong Kong

Global Research, August 22, 2019

This article first published almost five years ago on October 1, 2014 is of particular relevance to an understanding of recent developments in Hong Kong.

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Just as the US admitted shortly after the so-called “Arab Spring” began spreading chaos across the Middle East that it had fully funded, trained, and equipped both mob leaders and heavily armed terrorists years in advance, it is now admitted that the US State Department through a myriad of organizations and NGOs is behind the so-called “Occupy Central” protests in Hong Kong. 

The Washington Post would report in an article titled, “Hong Kong erupts even as China tightens screws on civil society,” that:

Chinese leaders unnerved by protests elsewhere this year have been steadily tightening controls over civic organizations on the mainland suspected of carrying out the work of foreign powers.

The campaign aims to insulate China from subversive Western ideas such as democracy and freedom of expression, and from the influence, specifically, of U.S. groups that may be trying to promote those values here, experts say. That campaign is long-standing, but it has been prosecuted with renewed vigor under President Xi Jinping, especially after the overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych following months of street demonstrations in Kiev that were viewed here as explicitly backed by the West.

The Washington Post would also report (emphasis added):

One foreign policy expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive subject, said Putin had called Xi to share his concern about the West’s role in Ukraine. Those concerns appear to have filtered down into conversations held over cups of tea in China, according to civil society group members.

“They are very concerned about Color Revolutions, they are very concerned about what is going on in Ukraine,” said the international NGO manager, whose organization is partly financed by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), blamed here for supporting the protests in Kiev’s central Maidan square. “They say, ‘Your money is coming from the same people. Clearly you want to overthrow China.’ ”

Congressionally funded with the explicit goal of promoting democracy abroad, NED has long been viewed with suspicion or hostility by the authorities here. But the net of suspicion has widened to encompass such U.S. groups as the Ford Foundation, the International Republican Institute, the Carter Center and the Asia Foundation. 

Of course, NED and its many subsidiaries including the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute do no such thing as “promoting democracy,” and instead are in the business of constructing a global network of neo-imperial administration termed “civil society” that interlocks with the West’s many so-called “international institutions” which in turn  are completely controlled by interests in Washington, upon Wall Street, and in the cities of London and Brussels.

Image: While the Washington Post would have readers believe NED is in the business of promoting “freedom of expression” and “democracy” the corporate-financier interests represented on NED’s board of directors are anything but champions of such principles, and are instead notorious for principles precisely the opposite. 

The very concept of the United States “promoting democracy” is scandalous when considering it is embroiled in an invasive global surveillance scandal, guilty of persecuting one unpopular war after another around the planet against the will of its own people and based on verified lies, and brutalizing and abusing its own citizens at home with militarized police cracking down on civilians in towns like Ferguson, Missouri – making China’s police actions against “Occupy Central” protesters pale in comparison. “Promoting democracy” is clearly cover for simply expanding its hegemonic agenda far beyond its borders and at the expense of national sovereignty for all subjected to it, including Americans themselves.

In 2011, similar revelations were made public of the US’ meddling in the so-called “Arab Spring” when the New York Times would report in an article titled, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” that:

A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington.

The article would also add, regarding NED specifically, that:

The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department.

 

Image: US Senator John McCain on stage in Kiev, Ukraine cheerleading US
funded sedition in Eastern Europe. In 2011, McCain would famously taunt
both Russia and China that US-funded subversion was coming their way.
“Occupy Central” is one of many waves that have hit China’s shores since.

 

Pro-war and interventionist US Senator John McCain had famously taunted both Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and President Xi Jinping’s predecessor in 2011 that the US subversion sweeping the Middle East was soon headed toward Moscow and Beijing. The Atlantic in a 2011 article titled, “The Arab Spring: ‘A Virus That Will Attack Moscow and Beijing’,” would report that:

He [McCain] said, “A year ago, Ben-Ali and Gaddafi were not in power. Assad won’t be in power this time next year. This Arab Spring is a virus that will attack Moscow and Beijing.” McCain then walked off the stage.

Considering the overt foreign-funded nature of not only the “Arab Spring,” but now “Occupy Central,” and considering the chaos, death, destabilization, and collapse suffered by victims of previous US subversion, “Occupy Central” can be painted in a new light – a mob of dupes being used to destroy their own home – all while abusing the principles of “democracy” behind which is couched an insidious, diametrically opposed foreign imposed tyranny driven by immense, global spanning corporate-financier interests that fear and actively destroy competition. In particular, this global hegemon seeks to suppress the reemergence of Russia as a global power, and prevent the rise of China itself upon the world’s stage.

The regressive agenda of “Occupy Central’s” US-backed leadership, and their shameless exploitation of the good intentions of the many young people ensnared by their gimmicks, poses a threat in reality every bit as dangerous as the “threat” they claim Beijing poses to the island of Hong Kong and its people. Hopefully the people of China, and the many people around the world looking on as “Occupy Central” unfolds, will realize this foreign-driven gambit and stop it before it exacts the heavy toll it has on nations that have fallen victim to it before – Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Egypt, and many others.

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How Tehran fits into Russia-China strategy

August 12, 2019

by Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

An image grab taken from a broadcast by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting on July 22 shows Iranian Revolutionary Guards in speedboats patrolling the tanker Stena Impero as it’s anchored off the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas. Photo: AFP / HO / IRIB

How Tehran fits into Russia-China strategyComplex doesn’t even begin to describe the positioning of Iran-Russia in the geopolitical chessboard. What’s clear in our current, volatile moment is that they’re partners, as I previously reported. Although not strategic partners, as in the Russia-China tie-up, Russia-China-Iran remain the crucial triad in the ongoing, multi-layered, long-term Eurasia integration process.

A few days after our Asia Times report, an article – based on “senior sources close to the Iranian regime” and crammed with fear-mongering, baseless accusations of corruption and outright ignorance about key military issues – claimed that Russia would turn the Iranian ports of Bandar Abbas and Chabahar into forward military bases complete with submarines, Spetsnaz special forces and Su-57 fighter jets, thus applying a “stranglehold” to the Persian Gulf.

For starters, “senior sources close to the Iranian regime” would never reveal such sensitive national-security details, much less to Anglo-American foreign media. In my own case, even though I have made several visits to Iran while consistently reporting on Iran for Asia Times, and even though authorities at myriad levels know where I’m coming from, I have not managed to get answers from Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps generals to 16 detailed questions I sent nearly a month ago. According to my interlocutors, these are deemed “too sensitive” and, yes, a matter of national security.

Predictably, the report was fully debunked. One of my top Tehran sources, asked about its veracity, was blunt: “Absolutely not.” After all, Iran’s constitution decisively forbids foreign troops stationed on national soil. The Majlis – Iranian parliament – would never approve such a move barring an extreme case, as in the follow-up to a US military attack.

As for Russia-Iran military cooperation, the upcoming joint military exercises in the “northern part of the Indian Ocean,” including the Strait of Hormuz, are a first-ever such occasion, made possible only by a special agreement.

Analyst Gennady Nechaev is closer to reality when he notes that in the event of growing Russia-Iran cooperation, the possibility would be open for “permanent basing of the Russian Navy in one of the Iranian ports with the provision of an airfield nearby – the same type of arrangement as Tartus and Hmeimim on the Mediterranean coast of Syria.”  To get there, though, would be a long and winding road.

And that brings us to Chabahar, which poses an interesting question. Chabahar is a deep sea port, on the Gulf of Oman and the key plank in India’s mini-Silk Road vision. India invested a lot in Chabahar, to have it connected by highway to Afghanistan and Central Asia and in the future by rail to the Caucasus. All that so India may bypass Pakistan as far as trade routes are concerned.

Chabahar, though, may also become an important node of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative. India and China – as well as Russia – are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Iran, sooner or later, will also become a full SCO member. Only then the possibility “might” – and the emphasis is on “might” – open for the Russian or Chinese navy occasionally to dock at Chabahar, but still not to use it as a forward military base.

Got oil, will travel

On Iran, the Russia-China strategic partnership is working in parallel. China’s priority is energy supplies – and Beijing works the chessboard accordingly. The Chinese ambassador to the United Arab Emirates just issued a trial balloon, mentioning that Beijing might consider escorting oil tankers across the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. That could happen independently or – the dangling carrot – as part of Washington’s Operation Sentinel, which for the moment has managed to find only one “coalition of the willing” member: the UK.

What’s actually happening right now in the Persian Gulf is way more entertaining. As I confirmed with energy traders in Doha late last month, demand for oil right now is higher than in 2018. And in consequence Iran continues to sell most of its oil.

A tanker leaves Iran with transponder off; the oil is transferred to another tanker on the high seas; and then it is relabeled. According to a trader, “If you take two to three million barrels a day off the market by sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, plus the OPEC cutbacks, you would have to see a higher price.”

There is no higher price. Brent crude remains near a seven-month low, around US$60 a barrel. This means that Iran continues to sell, mostly to China. That trial balloon floated in the UAE might well be China camouflaging its continued purchase of Iranian oil.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has been proving again and again his diplomatic mastery, running rings around the Donald Trump administration. But all major decisions in Iran come from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. That also applies to Tehran’s position in relation to multi-level forms of support from the Russia-China strategic partnership.

What the past few months have made crystal clear is how Russia-China’s magnetic pull is attracting key Eurasia players Iran, Turkey and Pakistan. And make no mistake: As much as Tehran may be extremely proud of its political independence, it is reassuring to know that Iran is, and will continue to be, a definitive red line for Russia-China.

 

China and Jammu and Kashmir’s new status

August 10, 2019

China and Jammu and Kashmir’s new status

Beijing has a lot of influence over Pakistan and indirectly is in a position to leverage the next moves by Islamabad

M.K. BHADRAKUMAR

In the aftermath of the Indian government’s decision to remove “special status” for Jammu and Kashmir and split the state into two union territories, the most keenly awaited regional and international reaction – and a hugely consequential one – would be that of China, not the US or even any of the other three permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

This is for three reasons. First, China is the only P5 member that is party to the Kashmir dispute by virtue of its Faustian deal with Pakistan in 1963 – the Sino-Pakistan Frontier Agreement and Sino-Pakistani Boundary Agreement – as well as because of Aksai Chin being a disputed territory.

Second, it is well known that China has a larger-than-life influence over Pakistan, and therefore, indirectly, is in a position to leverage the next moves by Islamabad on the J&K situation in practical or political terms.

Third, of course, China is a veto-holding P5 member. Although not involved in the making of the UN resolutions on Kashmir in 1948-1949 – which was an Anglo-American enterprise at a juncture when Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru somehow deliberately refrained from seeking Soviet help to counter India’s isolation in the UNSC – nonetheless, China is a powerful protagonist today if the Kashmir file were to reopen in New York at Pakistan’s behest.

Chinese reaction

On Tuesday, the Chinese reaction to the announcement in Delhi on Monday relating to J&K has come in two parts in the nature of remarks by the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman in Beijing – a relatively low-key reaction in diplomatic terms in comparison with a full-fledged statement, as Turkey, for instance, has done. One part exclusively relates to Ladakh’s new status as union territory, while the other one relates to the “current situation” in J&K.

Both remarks are devoid of any stridency, and on the whole India can live with them, although Western media, unsurprisingly, has hyped them. In fact, neither voices any overt backing to Pakistan. And, importantly, there are no new overtones as such in the well-known Chinese stance.

The remark on the change in Ladakh’s status begins by underscoring explicitly that China is voicing its “firm and consistent position,” which “remains unchanged.” That is to say, it regards part of Ladakh to be Chinese territory and India should not unilaterally create facts on the ground through domestic laws. If India does, China will consider that unacceptable and it “will not come into force.”

The remark rounds off stating the Chinese stance that India should speak and act with prudence on the boundary question, strictly abide by relevant agreements on peace and tranquility and avoid precipitate steps.

This is exactly what China has maintained and can be expected to state. No doubt, this is also what India would expect China to observe in regard of the unresolved border dispute. The Indian stance on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a fine example.

The gray area here is whether the administration of Ladakh as a union territory will entail administrative arrangements on the ground that tread on Chinese sensitivity. Prima facie, that is unlikely to happen, since the two militaries present in the vacant spaces observe ground rules.

On the other hand, the interesting aspect of the Chinese spokeswoman’s remark on the J&K situation is that there is no direct reference to the specific situation involving the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution. The remark is of a generic nature. It repeats that the J&K situation is a matter of serious concern, but underscores categorically that “China’s position on the Kashmir issue is clear and consistent.”

‘International consensus’

Most important, it flags that China is in sync with the “international consensus” that the Kashmir issue is a historical conundrum that India and Pakistan have to grapple with by exercising restraint and prudence. This means, however, that the two countries “should refrain from taking actions that will unilaterally change the status quo and escalate tensions.” China calls on the two countries to “peacefully resolve … [their] relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation” in the interest of regional “peace and stability.”

Indeed, the “known unknown” here is to what extent, if any, the current upheaval in Hong Kong influenced Beijing to sidestep the Indian government’s specific move to abolish Article 370 and abandon J&K’s “special status.” To be sure, a grave situation has arisen in Hong Kong, which has assumed anti-China overtones.

No analogy holds 100% in politics, but there are similarities in the public alienation in J&K and in Hong Kong that foreign powers are exploiting. In fact, China also has to contend with its equivalent of India’s Article 370 – the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which is as sacrosanct as an international bilateral treaty, signed between China and Britain on December 19, 1984, in Beijing.

Legally binding

Curiously, the Joint Declaration is also legally binding, and like Article 370, it commits China to allow Hong Kong to “enjoy a high degree of autonomy, except for foreign and defense affairs” even as the territory will be “directly under the authority” of Beijing.

Most important, the Joint Declaration affirms that the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is responsible for the “maintenance of public order … Military forces sent by the Central People’s Government to be stationed in … [the HKSAR] for the purpose of defense shall not interfere in the internal affairs” in the HKSAR.

The treaty is valid for 50 years, but a crisis is looming large on the horizon, and there is much speculation that patience is wearing thin in Beijing. A top Chinese official said on Wednesday: “Hong Kong is facing the most serious situation since its return to China.”

A Beijing-datelined commentary by Xinhua on Monday titled “Bottom Line on Hong Kong brooks no challenge” was furious that “black-clad, masked protesters removed the Chinese national flag from a flagpole in Tsim Sha Tsui of Hong Kong and later flung the flag into the water Saturday, an unforgivable, lawless act that has blatantly offended the national dignity, is an insult to all Chinese people, including Hong Kong compatriots, and must be severely punished in accordance with law.”

All factors taken into account, as the saying goes, the pot cannot call the kettle black. The MEA’s response to the Chinese remarks on J&K has gently drawn attention to the reciprocity that governs inter-state relationships by underscoring that the legislation known as the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill 2019, introduced by the government in Parliament on August 5, is “an internal matter concerning the territory of India. India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and similarly expects other countries to do likewise.” India has scrupulously maintained silence on Hong Kong developments.

asiatimes.com

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

The Western Alliance Is Falling Apart

Global Research, August 02, 2019

Ever since Imran Khan became the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan in August 2018, the winds have changed. While his predecessors, though generally leaning eastwards, have often wavered between the US and the China orbit, Khan is in the process of clearly defining his alliances with the east, in particular China. This is for the good of his country, for the good of the Middle East, and eventually for the good of the world.

A few days ago, RT reported that China, in addition to the expansion of the new port in Gwadar, Balochistan, has entered agreements with Pakistan to build a military/air base in Pakistan, a new Chinese city for some half a million people, as well as several road and railway improvement projects, including a highway connecting the cities of Karachi and Lahore, reconstruction of the Karakoram Highway, linking Hasan Abdal to the Chinese border, as well as upgrading the Karachi-Peshwar main railway to be completed by the end of 2019, for trains to travel up to 160km / hour.

This rehabilitation of dilapidated Pakistani transportation infrastructure is not only expected to contribute between 2% and 3% of Pakistan’s future GDP, but it offers also another outlet for Iranian gas / hydrocarbons, other than through the Strait of Hurmuz – for example, by rail to the new port of Gwadar which, by the way, is also a new Chinese naval base. From Gwadar Iranian hydrocarbon cargos can be shipped everywhere, including to China, Africa and India. With the new China-built transportation infrastructure Iranian gas can also be shipped overland to China.

In fact, these infrastructure developments, plus several electric power production projects, still mostly fed by fossil fuel, to resolve Pakistani’s chronic energy shortage, are part of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also, called the New Silk Road. They are a central part of the new so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which was first designed in 2015 during a visit by China’s President Xi Jinping, when some 51 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) worth then some US$ 46 billion were signed. Pakistan is definitely out of the US orbit.

Today, in the CPEC implementation phase, the projects planned or under construction are estimated at over US$ 60 billion. An estimated 80% are direct investments with considerable Pakistani participation and 20% Chinese concessionary debt. Clearly, Pakistan has become a staunch ally of China – and this to the detriment of the US role in the Middle East.

Washington’s wannabe hegemony over the Middle East is fading rapidly. See also Michel Chossudovsky’s detailed analysis “US Foreign Policy in Shambles: NATO and the Middle East. How Do You Wage War Without Allies?”.

A few days ago, Germany has refused Washington’s request to take part in a US-led maritime mission in the Strait of Hormuz, under the pretext to secure hydrocarbon shipments through this Iran-controlled narrow water way. In reality it is more like a new weaponizing of waterways, by controlling who ships what to whom – and applying “sanctions” by blocking or outright pirating of tankers destined for western ‘enemy’ territories.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced last Wednesday in Warsaw, Poland, that there “cannot be a military solution” to the current crisis in the Persian Gulf and that Berlin will turn down Washington’s request to join the US, British and French operation “aimed at protecting sea traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, and combating so-called “Iranian aggression.”

This idea of the Washington war hawks was conceived after Iran’s totally legal seizure of the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker, after it rammed an Iranian fishing boat a couple of weeks ago. However, nothing is said about the totally illegal and US-ordered British piracy of the Iranian super tanker Grace I off the coast of Gibraltar in Spanish waters (another infraction of international law), weeks earlier. While Grace I’s crew in the meantime has been released, the tanker is still under British capture, but western media remain silent about it, but lambast Iran for seizing a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

Germany remains committed to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal), from which the United States unilaterally withdrew a year ago, and Germany will therefore not intervene on behalf of the US.

Add to this Turkey – a key NATO member both for her strategic location and NATO’s actual military might established in Turkey – moving ever closer to the east, and becoming a solid ally of Russia, after having ignored Washington’s warnings against Turkey’s purchasing of Russian S-400 cutting-edge air defense systems. For “sleeping with the enemy” – i.e. moving ever closer to Russia, the US has already punished Turkey’s economy by manipulating her currency to fall by about 40% since the beginning of 2018. Turkey is also a candidate to become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and so is Iran.

Turkey has become a de facto lame duck as a NATO member and may soon officially exit NATO which would be a tremendous blow to the North Atlantic Alliance – and may tempt other European NATO nations to do likewise. Probably not overnight, but the idea of an ever more defunct NATO is planted.

All indications are that the future, economically and security wise – is in the East. Even Europe may eventually ‘dare’ making the jump towards better relations with primarily Russia and Central Asia and eventually with China.

And that especially if and when Brexit happens – which is by no means a sure thing. Just in case, the UK has already prepared bilateral trade relations with China, ready to be signed – if and when – the UK exits the EU.

Will the UK, another staunch US ally, jump ship? – Unlikely. But dancing on two weddings simultaneously is a customary Anglo-Saxon game plan. The Brits must have learned it from their masters in Washington, who in turn took the lessons from the Brits as colonial power for centuries, across the Atlantic.

Western, US-led war on Iran is therefore unlikely. There is too much at stake, and especially, there are no longer any reliable allies in the region. Remember, allies – shall we call them puppets or peons, are normally doing the dirty work for Washington.
So, threatening, warning and annoying provocations by the US with some of its lasting western allies may continue for a while. It makes for good propaganda. After all, packing up and going home is not exactly Uncle Sam’s forte. The western alliance is no longer what it used to be. In fact, it is in shambles. And Iran knows it.

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Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from The Freedom Articles


Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War” 

by Michel Chossudovsky

Available to order from Global Research! 

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-5-3
Year: 2012
Pages: 102
Print Edition: $10.25 (+ shipping and handling)
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Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website www.globalresearch.ca . He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Reviews

“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph University

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute   

WWIII Scenario

A Major Conventional War Against Iran Is an Impossibility. Crisis within the US Command Structure

Global Research, August 03, 2019
Global Research 8 July 2019

Updated, July 21, 2019

In this article, we examine America’s war strategies, including its ability to launch an all out theater war against the Islamic Republic on Iran.

A follow-up article will focus on the History of US War Plans against Iran as well as the complexities underlying the Structure of Military Alliances. 

**

Under present conditions, an Iraq style all out Blitzkrieg involving the simultaneous deployment of ground, air and naval  forces is an impossibility. 

For several reasons. US hegemony in the Middle East has been weakened largely as a result of the evolving structure of military alliances.

The US does not have the ability to carry out such a project.

There are two main factors which determine America’s military agenda in relation to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

1. Iran’s Military

There is the issue of Iran’s military capabilities (ground forces, navy, air force, missile defense), namely its ability to effectively resist and respond to an all out conventional war involving the deployment of US and Allied forces. Within the realm of conventional warfare,  Iran has sizeable military capabilities. Iran is to acquire Russia’s S400 state of the art air defense system.

Iran is ranked as “a major military power” in the Middle East, with an estimated 534,000 active personnel in the army, navy, air force and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It has advanced ballistic missile capabilities as well as a national defense industry. In the case of a US air attack, Iran would target US military facilities in the Persian Gulf.

2. Evolving Structure of Military Alliances

The second consideration has to do with the evolving structure of military alliances (2003-2019) which is largely to the detriment of the United States.

Several of America’s staunchest allies are sleeping with the enemy.

Countries which have borders with Iran including Turkey and Pakistan have military cooperation agreements with Iran. While this in itself excludes the possibility of a ground war, it also affects the planning of US and allied naval and air operations.

Until recently both Turkey (NATO heavyweight) and Pakistan were among America’s faithful allies, hosting US military bases.

From a broader military standpoint, Turkey is actively cooperating with both Iran and Russia. Moreover, Ankara has acquired (July 12, 2019) ahead of schedule Russia’s state of the art S-400 air defense system while de facto opting out from the integrated US-NATO-Israel air defense system.

Needless to say the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is in crisis. Turkey’s exit from NATO is almost de facto. America can no longer rely on its staunchest allies. Moreover, US and Turkish supported militia are fighting one another in Syria.

Moreover, several NATO member states have taken a firm stance against Washington’s Iran policy:  “European allies are grappling with mounting disagreements over foreign policy and growing irritated with Washington’s arrogant leadership style.”

“The most important manifestation of growing European discontent with U.S. leadership is the move by France and other powers to create an independent, “Europeans only” defense capability” (See National Interest, May 24, 2019)

Iraq has also indicated that it will not cooperate with the US in the case of a ground war against Iran.

Under present conditions, none of Iran’s neigbouring states including Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Armenia would allow US-Allied ground forces to transit through their territory. Neither would they cooperate with the US in the conduct of an air war.

In recent developments, Azerbaijan which in the wake of the Cold War became a US ally as well as a member of NATO’s partnership for peace has changed sides. The earlier US-Azeri military cooperation agreements are virtually defunct including the post-Soviet GUAM military alliance (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova).

Bilateral military and intelligence agreements between Iran and Azerbaijan were signed in December 2018. In turn, Iran collaborates extensively with Turkmenistan. With regard to Afghanistan, the internal situation with the Taliban controlling a large part of Afghan territory, would not favor a large scale deployment of US and allied ground forces on the Iran-Afghan border.


Visibly, the policy of strategic encirclement against Iran formulated in the wake of the Iraq war (2003) is no longer functional. Iran has friendly relations with neighbouring countries, which previously were within the US sphere of influence.

The US is increasingly isolated in the Middle East and does not have the support of its NATO allies

Under these conditions, a major conventional theater war by the US involving the deployment of ground forces would be suicide.

This does not mean, however, that war will not take place. In some regards, with the advances in military technologies, an Iraq-style war is obsolete.

We are nonetheless at a dangerous crossroads. Other diabolical forms of military intervention directed against Iran are currently on the drawing board of the Pentagon. These include:

  • various forms of “limited warfare”, ie. targeted missile attacks,
  • US and Allied support of terrorist paramilitary groups
  • so-called “bloody nose operations” (including the use of tactical nuclear weapons),
  • acts of political destabilization and color revolutions
  • false flag attacks and military threats,
  • sabotage, confiscation of financial assets, extensive economic sanctions,
  • electromagnetic and climatic warfare, environmental modification techniques (ENMOD)
  • cyberwarfare
  • chemical and biological warfare.

US Central Command Forward Headquarters Located in Enemy Territory

Another consideration has to do with the crisis within the US Command structure.

USCENTCOM is the theater-level Combatant Command for all operations in the broader Middle East region extending from Afghanistan to North Africa. It is the most important Combat Command of the Unified Command structure. It has led and coordinated several major Middle East war theaters including Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003). It is also involved in Syria.

In the case of a war with Iran, operations in the Middle East would be coordinated by US Central Command with headquarters in Tampa, Florida in permanent liaison with its forward command headquarters in Qatar.

In late June 2019, after Iran shot down a U.S. drone President Trump “called off the swiftly planned military strikes on Iran” while intimating in his tweet that “any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force.”

US Central Command (CENTCOM), confirmed the deployment of the US Air Force F-22 stealth fighters to the al-Udeid airbase in Qatar, intended to “defend American forces and interests” in the region against Iran. (See Michael Welch, Persian Peril, Global Research, June 30, 2019). Sounds scary?

“The base is technically Qatari property playing host to the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command.” With 11,000 US military personnel, it is described as “one of the U.S. military’s most enduring and most strategically positioned operations on the planet”   (Washington Times). Al-Udeid also hosts the US Air Force’s 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, considered to be “America’s most vital overseas air command”.

What both the media and military analysts fail to acknowledge is that US CENTCOM’s forward Middle East headquarters at the al-Udeid military base close to Doha de facto “lies in enemy territory”

Since the May 2017 split of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Qatar has become a staunch ally of both Iran and Turkey (which is also an ally of Iran). While they have no “official” military cooperation agreement with Iran, they share in joint ownership with Iran the largest Worldwide maritime gas fields (see map below).

The split of the GCC has led to a shift in military alliances: In May 2017 Saudi Arabia blocked Qatar’s only land border. In turn Saudi Arabia as well as the UAE have blocked air transportation as well as commercial maritime shipments to Doha.

What is unfolding since May 2017 is a shift in Qatar’s trade routes with the establishment of bilateral agreements with Iran, Turkey as well as Pakistan. In this regard, Russia, Iran, and Qatar provide over half of the world’s known gas reserves.

The Al-Udeid base near Doha is America’s largest military base in the Middle East. In turn, Turkey has now established its own military facility in Qatar. Turkey is no longer an ally of the US. Turkish proxy forces in Syria are fighting US supported militia.

Turkey is now aligned with Russia and Iran. Ankara has now confirmed that it will be acquiring Russia’s S-400 missile air defense system which requires military cooperation with Moscow.

Qatar is swarming with Iranian businessmen, security personnel and experts in the oil and gas industry (with possible links to Iran intelligence?), not to mention the presence of Russian and Chinese personnel.

Question. How on earth can you launch a war on Iran from the territory of a close ally of Iran?

From a strategic point of view it does not make sense. And this is but the tip of the iceberg.

Notwithstanding the rhetoric underlying the official US-Qatar military relationship, The Atlantic Council, a think tank with close ties to both the Pentagon and NATO, confirms that Qatar is now a firm ally of both Iran and Turkey:

Put simply, for Qatar to maintain its independence, Doha will have essentially no choice but to maintain its strong partnership with Turkey, which has been an important ally from the perspective of military support and food security, as well as Iran. The odds are good that Iranian-Qatari ties will continue to strengthen even if Tehran and Doha agree to disagree on certain issues … On June 15 [2019], President Hassan Rouhani emphasizedthat improving relations with Qatar is a high priority for Iranian policymakers. … Rouhani told the Qatari emir that “stability and security of regional countries are intertwined” and Qatar’s head of state, in turn, stressed that Doha seeks a stronger partnership with the Islamic Republic. (Atlantic Council, June 2019, emphasis added)

What this latest statement by the Atlantic Council suggests is while Qatar hosts USCENTCOM’s forward headquarters, Iran and Qatar are (unofficially) collaborating in the area of “security” (i e. intelligence and military cooperation).

Sloppy military planning, sloppy US foreign policy? sloppy intelligence?

Trump’s statement confirms that they are planning to launch the war against Iran from their forward US Centcom headquarters at the Al Udeid military base, located in enemy territory. Is it rhetoric or sheer stupidity?

The Split of the GCC

The split of the GCC has resulted in the creation of a so-called Iran-Turkey-Qatar axis which has contributed to weakening US hegemony in the Middle East. While Turkey has entered into a military cooperation with Russia, Pakistan is allied with China. And Pakistan has become a major partner of Qatar.

Following the rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is in disarray with Qatar siding with Iran and Turkey against Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Qatar is of utmost strategic significance because it shares with Iran the world’s largest maritime gas fields in the Persian Gulf. (see map above). Moreover, since the GCC split-up Kuwait is no longer aligned Saudi Arabia. It nonetheless maintains a close relationship with Washington. Kuwait hosts seven active US military facilities, the most important of which is Camp Doha.

Needless to say, the May 2017 split of the GCC has undermined Trump’s resolve to create an “Arab NATO” (overseen by Saudi Arabia) directed against Iran. This project is virtually defunct, following Egypt’s withdrawal in April 2019.

The Gulf of Oman 

With the 2017 split up of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Oman appears to be aligned with Iran. Under these circumstances, the transit of US war ships to the headquarters of the US Fifth fleet in Bahrain not to mention the conduct of naval operations in the Persian Gulf are potentially in jeopardy.

The Fifth Fleet is under the command of US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT). (NAVCENT’s area of responsibility consists of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea).

With the split up of the GCC, Oman is now aligned with Iran. Under these circumstances, the transit of US war ships to the headquarters of the US Fifth fleet in Bahrain not to mention the conduct of naval operations in the Persian Gulf would potentially be in jeopardy.

The strait of Hormuz which constitutes the entry point to the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman is controlled by Iran and the Sultanate of Oman (see map, Oman territory at the tip of the Strait).

The width of the strait at one point is of the order of 39 km. All major vessels must transit through Iran and/or Oman territorial waters, under so-called customary transit passage provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

More generally, the structure of alliances is in jeopardy. The US cannot reasonably wage a full-fledged conventional theatre war on Iran without the support of its longstanding allies which are now “sleeping with the enemy”.

Trump’s Fractured “Arab NATO”. History of the Split up of the GCC. 

Amidst the collapse of  America’s sphere of influence in the Middle East, Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) consisted at the outset of his presidency in an improvised attempt to rebuild the structure of military alliances. What the Trump administration had in mind was the formation of a Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), or  “Arab NATO”. This US-sponsored blueprint was slated to include Egypt and Jordan together with the six member states of the GCC.

The draft of the MESA Alliance had been prepared in Washington prior to Trump’s historic May 2017 visit to Saudi Arabia, meeting up with King Salman, leaders of the GCC as well as “more than 50 high-ranking officials from the Arab and Islamic worlds in an unprecedented US-Islamic summit.”

The Riyadh Declaration, issued at the conclusion of the summit on May 21, 2017, announced the intention to establish MESA in Riyadh.” (Arab News, February 19, 2019). The stated mandate of the “Arab NATO”  was to “to combat Iranian hegemony” in the Middle East.

Two days later on May 23, 2017 following this historic meeting, Saudi Arabia ordered the blockade of Qatar, called for an embargo and suspension of diplomatic relations with Doha, on the grounds that The Emir of Qatar was allegedly collaborating with Tehran.

What was the hidden agenda? No doubt it had already been decided upon in Riyadh on May 21, 2017  with the tacit approval of US officials.

The  plan was to exclude Qatar from the proposed MESA Alliance and the GCC, while maintaining the GCC intact.

What happened was a Saudi embargo on Qatar (with the unofficial approval of Washington) which resulted in the   fracture of the GCC with Oman and Kuwait siding with Qatar. In other words,  the GCC was split down the middle. Saudi Arabia was weakened and the “Arab NATO” blueprint was defunct from the very outset.


May 21, 2017: US-Islamic Summit in Riyadh

May 23, 2017: The blockade and embargo of Qatar following alleged statements by the Emir of Qatar. Was this event staged?

June 5, 2019: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt sever diplomatic relations, cut off land, air and sea transportation with Qatar  accusing it of  supporting Iran.

June 7, 2017, Turkey’s parliament pass legislation allowing Turkish troops to be deployed to a Turkish military base in Qatar

January 2018, Qatar initiates talks with Russia with a view to acquiring Russia’s  S-400 air defense system.


Flash forward to mid-April 2019: Trump is back in Riyadh: This time the Saudi Monarchy was entrusted by Washington to formally launching the failed Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) (first formulated in 2017) despite the fact that three of the invited GCC member states, namely Kuwait, Oman and Qatar were committed to the normalization of relations with Iran. In turn, the Egyptian government of President Sisi decided to boycott the Riyadh summit and withdraw from the “Arab NATO” proposal. Cairo also clarified its position vis a vis Tehran.  Egypt firmly objected to Trump’s plan because it “would increase tensions with Iran”.

Trump’s objective was to create an “Arab Block”. What he got in return was a truncated MESA “Arab Block” made up of a fractured GCC with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Jordan.

Egypt withdraws.

Kuwait and Oman officially took a neutral stance.

Qatar sided with the enemy, thereby further jeopardizing America’s sphere of influence in the Persian Gulf.

An utter geopolitical failure. What kind of alliance is that.

And US Central Command’s Forward headquarters is still located in Qatar despite the fact that two years earlier on May 23, 2017, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, was accused by Saudi Arabia and the UAE of collaborating with Iran.

It is unclear who gave the order to impose the embargo on Qatar. Saudi Arabia would not have taken that decision without consulting Washington. Visibly, Washington’s intent was to create an Arab NATO Alliance (An Arab Block) directed against Iran “to do the dirty work for us”.

Trump and the Emir of Qatar, UN General Assembly, October 2017, White House photo

The rest is history, the Pentagon decided to maintain US Central Command’s forward headquarters in Qatar, which happens to be Iran’s closest ally and partner.

A foreign policy blunder? Establishing your “official” headquarters in enemy territory, while “unofficially” redeploying part of the war planes, military personnel and command functions to other locations (e.g. in Saudi Arabia)?

No press reports, no questions in the US Congress. Nobody seemed to have noticed that Trump’s war on Iran, if it were to be carried out, would be conducted from the territory of Iran’s closest ally.

An impossibility?

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Part II of this essay focuses on the history and contradictions of US war preparations directed against Iran starting in 1995 as well as the evolution of military alliances.

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Trump Warns Again He Could “Kill Millions of Afghans”!

By Staff, Agencies

US President Donald Trump has once again warned that American troops could win the Afghan war within days by killing millions across the conflict-ridden country.

Trump made the warning on Friday as he hailed the “progress” made in peace talks between his administration and the Taliban militant group.

“We’ve made a lot of progress. We’re talking,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

He further claimed that US forces, bogged down in the country for nearly two decades, “could win Afghanistan in two days or three days or four days, but I’m not looking to kill 10 million people.”

In a similar comment in July, Trump spoke about 10 million casualties but this time he specified that no nuclear weapons would be involved, saying, “I’m talking conventional.”

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.  While the invasion ended the Taliban’s rule in the country, it has failed to eliminate the militant group. Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] has also emerged in the Asian country more recently.

The US has been attempting to negotiate an alleged peace deal with the Taliban militant group, which now controls or influences about half of Afghanistan’s territory.

The Afghan government is left out of the talks between the Taliban and the US. The Taliban say they don’t recognize the Kabul government and that they will not hold talks with it unless all foreign forces exit the country.

Meanwhile, about 20,000 foreign troops, mostly Americans, are based in Afghanistan.

Washington representatives and those of the Taliban are soon expected to begin their eighth round of talks in the Qatari capital of Doha to reach an agreement on ending the Afghan war, with the US saying it wants to see a deal inked by September 1.

According to a UN report released this week, at least 1,366 civilians were killed and another 2,446 wounded during the first six months of 2019 as a result of the conflict in Afghanistan.

Javed Rana: US Driven by “Might is Right” with Little Morality

Javed Rana: US Driven by “Might is Right” with Little Morality

TEHRAN (FNA)– Javed Rana, journalist and political analyst, says the US policy has been to conduct attacks on only the defenseless countries such as Libya, Iraq, Syria and even Afghanistan; but, it has avoided any military conflicts with nuclear armed states such as India or Pakistan.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with FNA, Javed Rana said Washington always overstates its military capabilities and achievements, saying,

“The US along with 40 other countries invaded Afghanistan in November 2001 to eliminate over 400 fighters of Alqaeda. 18 years down the line, the US is now literally begging Taliban who control 70 percent of the territory to let Pentagon withdraw from Afghanistan with some grace.”

Javed Rana has over two decades of journalistic experience, including a long stint with Al-Jazeera. He was the witness to countless monumental developments taking place in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East. He focuses on non-state armed actors, legal, political and geostrategic issues.

Below is the full text of the interview:

Q: Pakistan and India both are armed with nuclear weapons. Why has the US never confronted India and Pakistan?

A: The US needed Pakistan of 210 million people badly in 1980s to fight its cold war against the then communist Soviet Union which had occupied Afghanistan. Washington was pumping money and providing all kind of political support to Pakistan to help it to recruit jihadists to fight against the Soviets. Islamabad discreetly used this opportunity to complete its nuclear program in mid 1980s amid US suspicion. However, the US could not have pressurized Pakistan to a tipping point to cap its nuclear program. After the dismemberment of the USSR, the US did not take much time to place Pakistan under economic sanctions and withheld military hardware given its secret nature of nuclear program in early 1990s. In August 1998 Pakistan conducted seven nuclear tests in retaliation to similar tests by India. Again Islamabad came under heavy US economic sanctions. So did it happen with India. The geo-strategic situation changed after 9/11 attacks in the US and Washington lifted its all previous sanctions on Pakistan to help it overthrow Taliban government in Afghanistan. In 2008 the US opted Pakistan’s arch rival India to be its long term geo-strategic partner and decided to retain its bilateral relations with Pakistan on tactical basis to help it end 18 years long war in neighboring Afghanistan given Islamabad’s alleged support for the Taliban.

Pakistan remains de facto nuclear state but the US is short of conceding to grant the dejure status to India as a nuclear state after Washington signed commercial deal to provide New Delhi nuclear technology and later used its diplomatic leverage on nuclear watch dog – International Atomic Energy Agency – to have this agreement approved amid objections from Pakistan who wanted to be treated equally. The US opted to provide virtual dejure support to India to counterbalance rising China which has close military and economic cooperation with Pakistan.

Q: The US claims to be the world’s police in dealing with nuclear proliferation. How do you see its conflicting approaches in dealing with different countries?

A: The ancient principal “the might is right” is still in place; but, it has transformed into different shapes. The global geo-strategic politics is largely driven by hard facts and less by the moral principles which mostly end up of being consumed to propagate the stances of powerful western capitals. The US is bombing the countries which did not have or could have potentially nuclear weapons. Pentagon bombed Libya, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan because they did not have nuclear weapons. Iran is next target simply because it doesn’t have nuclear warheads. The US opted not to bomb Pakistan only because it has the third large stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world with the ability to nuke all American strategic installations in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. So is the case with North Korea. In case of Iran, the US is trying to choke it economically to pressurize Tehran to renegotiate 2015 nuclear deal, The US suspects that Iranian nuclear program could be used for military purposes after 2025 when the sunset clause of 2015 nuclear deal expires which may potentially allow Iran to increase enrichment of uranium to weapon grade.

Q: Do you believe such US policies will make this region safer?

A: The US along with 40 other countries invaded Afghanistan in November 2001 to eliminate over 400 fighters of Alqaeda. 18 years down the line, the US is now literally begging Taliban who control 70 percent of the territory to let Pentagon withdraw from Afghanistan with some grace. And now there is mushroom growth of militant groups across the region from Afghanistan to Middle East. Similarly if the US bombs Iran, there would be more terrorism and unrest in the region. While the US would create conditions that in case of war, Iran attacks Saudi Arabia who would give it a religious color to seek support from other Muslim countries. This could potentially trigger a sectarian conflict where Sunni-Shia could target each other elsewhere in the world.

Modi’s Ship Hits the Kashmir Iceberg

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Melkulangara Bhadrakumar
July 26, 2019

A thoughtful feature of the post-cold war ‘adjustment’ in India’s foreign policies following the disbandment of the former Soviet Union was that Delhi should stick to the proverbial principle ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ when it comes to America.

The maxim of the three wise monkeys in the ancient Indian folklore stems from the elite’s ‘unipolar predicament’ — a notion that to be on the right side of history in the 21st century means India might as well jump on the US bandwagon.

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Delhi’s strategic patience under Prime Minister Modi’s rule has been somewhat stretched to the limits during the Donald Trump presidency. Modi tried everything in the Indian rope trick to pacify the mercurial American president. But with Trump, no one can be quite sure. Where golf-playing statesmen oozing charm — such as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — failed, India should have drawn conclusions.

Delhi instead chose to ignore the taunting — at times insulting — Trumpean tweets poking at Modi. Trump even cavalierly turned down the ultimate honour that Modi could bestow on him — an invite to be the chief guest at India’s National Day parade in Delhi.

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Then, on July 22, all hell broke loose with Trump disclosing to the media that Modi has asked him to play the role of a mediator on Kashmir issue — India’s Achilles’ heel — and that he is rolling up the sleeves. And, rubbing salt into the Indian wound, Trump made this sensational disclosure in the presence of the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Doesn’t Trump know that India publicly disavows third party mediation on Kashmir? Without doubt, he knows. And that’s the whole point. Within hours, the Indian foreign ministry reacted evasively that ‘no such request has been made’ by Modi. The Indian spokesman rolled out the mantra regarding India’s ‘consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally.’ Delhi added, ‘Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism’.

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In the present context, Pakistan’s help to end the Afghan war can mean a big foreign policy achievement for Trump that would have mileage for his campaign for the presidential election next year in the US. Therefore, the probability is that Trump was being boastful by ‘declassifying’ fully or partly what must have been a highly sensitive exchange between him and Modi in Osaka without any aides present.

Suffice to say, Trump’s mediatory offer on Kashmir and the salience of Imran Khan’s visit to the US hold serious implications for Indian policies.

First and foremost, the Modi government recoiled from the backlash of Indian public opinion regarding Trump’s mediatory offer. In reality, though, India has selectively accepted US mediation in the past, the best known example being the Kargil War in 1990. Therefore, even if Modi had sought Trump’s mediation, it would have been nothing extraordinary.

In fact, tactically, it would have been a clever ploy to pin down Trump to the neutral ground as regards India-Pakistan tensions even as Imran Khan was to shortly undertake a momentous visit to the US.

Indeed, Imran Khan’s visit will cause disquiet in the Indian mind insofar as Trump is promising to Pakistan a seamless alliance. This is happening at an awkward moment for India when the guns have fallen silent on the India-Pakistan border and the cross-border infiltration of militants to J&K has dried up lately.

The Modi government is just about to roll out a new strategy toward the J&K situation. The Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh publicly announced only last week that a final solution to the J&K situation is ‘imminent’.

A reasonable guess is that the Modi government plans to integrate J&K by divesting or eroding some of its so-called ‘special status’, taking advantage of the perceived Pakistani capitulation on cross-border terrorism. That plan may now have to be put on the back burner.

One of the basic assumptions behind that plan is that there isn’t going to be any international repercussions if Delhi robustly pushed the project forward, with coercion if need be, to integrate J&K. But Trump may have now shaken up the Indian confidence. Trump drew attention to the security situation in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, the longstanding character of the Kashmir problem and the singular inability of India and Pakistan to resolve the dispute bilaterally.

The way things are developing in the equations between Washington and Islamabad at the highest level of leaderships, Pakistan has succeeded in getting the US to accept a linkage between any Afghan settlement and a resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Trump’s remarks in their totality implicitly seems to acknowledge such a linkage.

At any rate, for the big hand that Pakistan is holding out to Trump to help end the Afghan war and claim a foreign-policy trophy in 2020, it will expect far greater US sensitivity toward Pakistan’s legitimate interests in regional security and stability, where its longstanding demand is for ‘strategic balance’ in South Asia. In the Pakistani estimation, ‘strategic balance’ requires a rest of the US’ South Asia policy compass, which tilts in favour of India.

Trump’s remarks suggest that he accepts in principle that goodwill and cooperation makes a two-way street. Therefore, Trump’s explosive disclosure will also have resonance with the Kashmiri people who are already alienated from the Indian state. Trump may have unwittingly given hope to the Kashmiris.

J&K’s planned ‘integration’ now becomes an uphill task for the Modi government. Nonetheless, Delhi is not going to be deterred from integrating J&K on terms that Bharathiya Janata Party, India’s ruling party, has unwaveringly set as its goal. From Delhi’s mild reaction to Trump’s remarks, it seems Modi government hopes to continue to tackle POTUS by making concessions elsewhere — such as, more lucrative arms deals.

The Indian analysts often speak of foreign policy under Modi as one of ‘multi-alignment’. But in practice, Indian policies operate on the ground as if the world community is an animal farm where the US remains more equal than others. Simply put, the Indian elites desire it that way, the bureaucrats are au fait with it and the Diaspora in North America, which roots for Hindu nationalism, demands it.

This is where the fundamental contradiction lies. When Trump says he is raring to mediate on Kashmir and help normalise India-Pakistan relations, he has unceremoniously trespassed on India’s core interests. Hopefully, this will trigger an Indian rethink in a longer term perspective rather than as a storm in the tea cup, given the high probability that Trump will remain in power for a second term as well.

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Such poignant moments underscore that India’s strategic ambivalence in the contemporary world order, characterised by growing multipolarity, is becoming increasingly untenable. Modi’s forthcoming visit to Russia in September and the visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to India in October will provide significant pointers to the Indian policies in the changing regional and international milieu.

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Destabilizing Pakistan: Bookending Washington’s China Policy

Global Research, July 26, 2019

Much is being said of US activities aimed at China. Recent protests in Hong Kong together with a US-led propaganda campaign aimed at Beijing’s attempts to quell a growing terrorist threat in Xinjiang are aimed at pressuring the nation to fall back into line within Washington’s enduring unipolar international order.

The latter of these two campaigns in particular – claims of Chinese authoritarianism as Beijing attempts to neutralize US-backed separatists and terrorists in Xinjiang – has also been spun as China “targeting Muslims.”

This ignores the fact that one of China’s closest and oldest allies in Eurasia is Pakistan – a Muslim-majority nation. It also ignores the fact that in Pakistan, the US is playing the same game aimed at cultivating violent extremism, separatism, violence, division, and even the dissolution of Pakistan’s current borders.

Balochistan – the other Xinjiang 

While all the focus has been directed by the Western media on Xinjiang and a supposed “anti-Muslim crackdown” in the region, Pakistan faces the same problem in its southwestern province of Balochistan. In Pakistan – attempts by the government to root out violent separatists surely is not “anti-Muslim.” 

In Balochistan, the US agencies involved in fanning the flames of separatism and violence instead portray Islamabad and the Pakistani military’s efforts to restore order as simply trampling “human rights.” 

US interference in Balochistan is just as extensive as it is in China’s Xinjiang.

Despite the recent move by Washington to list the armed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as a terrorist organization – Islamabad has long accused Washington of funding and arming it along with segments of the Indian government aligned with US interests.

The fact that otherwise ignored activities by Balochistan separatists are covered by certain Indian newspapers even as recently as this year seems to give credence to these accusations. NDTV’s article, “Pro-Balochistan Slogans Raised During Imran Khan’s Address In US,” and India Today’s article, “16 EU Members of Parliament write letter to Trump to intervene in Balochistan,” are just two such examples.

US support is much easier to track down.

US-based Stanford University’s Mapping Militant Organizations project admits that the BLA receives much of its financial aid from the Balochi diaspora. The project’s profile on the Balochistan Liberation Army notes:

Due to high community support for autonomy and independence from people of the Balochistan, many analysts suspect that a large amount of the BLA’s income and weapons supply come from donations from the Balochi people. Balochi leaders have also claimed that financial contributions from the Balochi diaspora make it possible to procure arms and ammunition through the black market.

Thus, even if the US is not directly arming and funding the BLA, it is openly supporting pro-separatists among the Balochi diaspora who even Stanford University experts admit are – in turn – funding the BLA’s terrorism.

The US move to designate the BLA as a foreign terrorist organization holds little meaning. The BLA will find itself beside organizations like Jabhat Al Nusra in Syria which is all but openly funded and armed by the United States and a large cross-section of Washington’s closest European and Arab allies.

Arming militants is only half of the overall strategy seeking to destabilize Pakistan. Subverting national institutions and replacing them with those interlocking with US special interests is the other half.

US NED Working Hard in – and Against – Pakistan  

The US State Department-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its various subsidiaries are busy at work in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province as well as China’s Xinjiang.

NED has been directly funding and supporting the work of the “Balochistan Institute for Development” (BIFD) which claims to be:

“…the leading resource on democracy, development and human rights in Balochistan, Pakistan.”

In addition to organizing the annual NED-BFID “Workshop on Media, Democracy & Human Rights” BFID reports that USAID had provided funding for a “media-center” for the Baluchistan Assembly to “provide better facilities to reporters who cover the proceedings of the Balochistan Assembly.” It can be assumed that BFID meant reporters are “trained” at NED-BFID workshops and at its USAID-funded center.

There is also Voice of Balochistan whose every top-story is US-funded propaganda, including op-eds by US representatives promoting Balochi separatism, foundation-funded Reporters Without Borders, Soros-funded Human Rights Watch, and a direct message from the US State Department.

Like other US State Department funded propaganda outfits around the world – such as Thailand’s Prachatai – funding is generally obfuscated in order to main “credibility” even when the front’s constant torrent of obvious propaganda more than exposes the game.

The “Free Baluchistan” movement is a US and London-based organizations. The “Baloch Society of North America” serves as a useful aggregate and bellwether regarding US meddling in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. The group’s founder, Dr. Wahid Baloch, openly admits he has met with US politicians in regards to Balochistan independence. This includes Neo-Conservative corporate-lobbyist and National Endowment for Democracy board member, Zalmay Khalilzad.

Dr. Wahid Baloch considers Balochistan province “occupied” by both the Iranian and Pakistani governments – he and his movement’s humanitarian hand-wringing gives Washington the perfect pretext to create an armed conflagration against either Iran or Pakistan, or both, as planned in detail by various US policy think-tanks.

There is also the Baloch Students Organisation-Azad, or BSO. While it maintains a presence in Pakistan, it has coordinators based in London. London-based BSO members include “information secretaries” that propagate their message via social media, just as US and British-funded youth organizations did during the West’s operations against other targeted nations during the US-engineered “Arab Spring” in 2011.

And just as US-funded agitators in China’s Xinjiang region coordinate their activities with other US-backed groups across the rest of China – such as in Hong Kong and Tibet – other US NED-funded fronts in Pakistan also contribute to a wider campaign of dividing and undermining Pakistan.The US State Department funds Voice of America Deewa focused on Pakistan’s Pashtuns who inhabit Pakistan’s northwest region along its border with Afghanistan.

Despite VOA Deewa’s supposed area of focus, it is actually based in Washington DC. While many of the organizations it provides support for do not admit their US funding, organizations like “AdvoPak” are regularly promoted by VOA Deewa. US NED’s online publication, “Democracy Digest,” also promotes, interviews, and defends groups who appear to be funded by Washington and undoubtedly serve US interests in Pakistan.

This includes the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) which was featured by the Digest earlier this year in an article titled, “Pakistan’s military targets protest movement, stifles dissent.” While PTM doesn’t disclose its funding, it is regularly accused of receiving support from and working for both India and the US.The Democracy Digest article featured a video interview with a PTM member – Gulalai Ismail – who is in fact an NED Fellow. There is also NED’s “Tribute to Gulalai Ismail at the 2013 Democracy Award.”And all of this is just scratching the surface of US meddling in Pakistan’s internal politics and of organizations committed to creating synergies with US-backed separatists in Balochistan.

What Does Pakistan’s Balochistan and China’s Xinjiang Have in Common? 

Balochistan and Xinjiang both appear to be suffering from separatist movements, terrorism, and political destabilization. The common factor is clearly US backing behind both separatist movements – but what is the common denominator that has attracted US attention in the first place?Both Xinjiang and Balochistan are settings for massive Chinese-led infrastructure and trade initiatives. Western publications like the Business Insider note the importance Xinjiang holds in terms of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative.

Many of the routes that lead out of China, across Central Asia, and eventually into the Middle East and Western Europe pass through Xinjiang. US attempts to destabilize the region in turn directly impact the viability of Beijing’s OBOR initiative and the economic wealth and influence it stands to grant Beijing.

Likewise, a significant leg of the OBOR initiative extends from China and across Pakistan from north to south, through Balochistan until reaching Gwadar Port. Thus, by destabilizing Balochistan, this essential corridor’s full potential is inhibited.

This is a truth US special interests and the media interests they own will never admit to. This is why – instead – diverse tales of China’s “anti-Muslim” crackdown and Pakistan’s “distain for human rights” in Balochistan are used to sell two different US-backed conflicts fuelled for a singular agenda – impeding China’s rise and that of its allies – including Pakistan.

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Tony Cartalucci is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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How to kill 10 million Afghans and not win

July 24, 2019

by Pepe Escobar : Posted with permission

Afghan security officials inspect the scene of a bomb blast near the University of Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 19. At least 8 people were reported killed and 33 others injured. Two vehicles caught fire following the explosion. Photo: AFP / Haroon Sabawoon / Anadolu Agency
How to kill 10 million Afghans and not win

“We’re like policemen. We’re not fighting a war. If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. But I don’t want to kill 10 million people. Afghanistan could be wiped off the face of the Earth. I don’t want to go that route.”

Even considering the rolling annals of demented Trumpism, bolstered every single day by a torrent of outrageous tweets and quotes, what you’ve just read is simply astonishing. Here we have the President of the United States asserting that,

1) The US is not fighting a war in Afghanistan;

2) If the US wanted a war, the President would win it in a week;

3) He would kill 10 million people – although he doesn’t want it;

4) “Afghanistan” as a whole, for no meaningful reason, could be wiped off the face of the Earth.

Trump said all of the above while sitting alongside Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan – who, in a deft move, is trying to appease the White House even as he carefully positions Pakistan as a solid node of Eurasia integration alongside Russia, China and Iran.

When Trump says the US is not fighting a war in Afghanistan, he’s on to something, although it’s doubtful that Team Trump have told the boss that the real game in town, from the beginning, is the CIA heroin rat line.

It’s also doubtful Trump would ask for input from his hated predecessor Barack Obama. Obama may not have killed 10 million people, but the forces under his command did kill scores of Afghans, including countless civilians. And still Obama did not “win” – much less “in a week.”

Barack Obama did entertain the notion of “winning” the war in Afghanistan. After deliberating in solitary confinement for 11 hours, as legend goes, he “methodically” settled for a two-step surge, 21,000 troops plus 30,000. Obama believed the war on Afghanistan was a noble crusade and during his presidential campaign in 2008 always defined it as “the right war.”

Obama defended his surge on humanitarian imperialist grounds: “For the Afghan people, the return of Taliban rule would condemn their country to brutal governance, international isolation, a paralyzed economy and the denial of basic human rights to the Afghan people, especially women and girls.” The New York Times and the Washington Post applauded.

But, Kabul, we have a problem. Afghanistan, bombed and invaded under the Cheney regime, was never a “right” or “just” war. There was never any established Taliban connection to 9/11. Plotting and financing for 9/11 involved Saudis and cells in Germany, Pakistan and the UAE. Mullah Omar never dispatched any “terra-rists” on one-way tickets to America.

Nevertheless, the Taliban leadership in Kandahar did agree to a deal – brokered by Moscow – to surrender Osama bin Laden, who, without even the hint of an investigation, was proclaimed the evil 9/11 culprit only a few hours after the collapse of the Twin Towers. The Cheney regime rejected the Taliban offer, as well as a subsequent one, to hand over Osama to a Muslim nation for trial. The Cheney regime only wanted an extradition to the US.

The SCO steps in

With puppet Hamid Karzai barely reigning in Kabul, and the neocons already focused on their real target, Iraq, the occupation of Afghanistan was handed over to NATO. This had already been decided even before 9/11, at the G8 in Genoa in July, when it became clear Washington had a plan to strike Afghanistan by October. The Cheney regime badly needed a beachhead in the intersection of Central Asia and South Asia not only to monitor Russia and China but also to coordinate a drive to take over Central Asia’s massive gas wealth.

Notoriously fickle history in the Hindu Kush ruled otherwise. Incrementally, the Taliban started to get their mojo back throughout the 2010s, to the point that now they control as much as half of the country.

Even that fountain of vanity General David Petraeus – who had crafted the (failed) Iraq surge – always knew the Afghan war was un-winnable. Disgraced General Stanley McChrystal at least was more surgical: “We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number, and to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat.”

Still, certified fun and games were assured by stuff such as Lockheed Martin’s high mobility artillery rocket system laying waste to Pashtun villages and devastating wedding ceremonies. Pentagon propaganda about “low collateral damage” never disguised the absence of real, actionable intel on the ground.

Seymour Hersh argued that Obama’s version of the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 was an elaborate work of fiction – subsequently duly enshrined by Hollywood. One year later, Obama’s surge still had 88,000 soldiers in Afghanistan plus nearly 118,000 contractors. The surge then died a slow, ignominious death.

Anyone remotely familiar with the fractious geopolitics at the intersection of Central and South Asia knows that, for the US military-industrial-security complex, to withdraw from Afghanistan is anathema. Trump may be emitting some noise – but that’s just noise. Bagram air base is an invaluable asset in the Empire of Bases to monitor the evolving Russia-China strategic partnership.

The only feasible solution for Afghanistan is a pan-Eurasia mechanism being advanced by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, with Russia and China at the helm, India and Pakistan as full members and Iran and Afghanistan as observers. Afghanistan will then be fully integrated as a node of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative, as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as well as the Indian mini-Silk Road through Afghanistan towards Central Asia starting from the Iranian port of Chabahar.

This is what all major Eurasia players want. This is how you “win” a war. And this is how you don’t need to kill 10 million people.

Afghan Government Seeks Clarification of Trump’s ’Wiping Out Afghanistan’ Remarks

By Staff, Agencies

The Afghan government called on Tuesday for clarification of US President Donald Trump’s remarks that he could win the Afghan war in just 10 days by “wiping out Afghanistan from the face of the earth”, the presidential palace in Kabul said.

Trump’s remarks followed a meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House on Monday.

He voiced optimism that Pakistan could help broker a political settlement to end the nearly 18-year-old war in Afghanistan.

“The Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate,” Kabul presidential palace said in a statement.

Trump Says He “Could Win Afghanistan War in 10 Days”

By Staff, Agencies

US President Donald Trump is seeking help from Pakistan to extricate Washington from the war in Afghanistan, saying that he could “win” that war in a week if he wanted to kill millions and wipe off the country.

“I could win that war in a week,” Trump claimed on Monday, as he met with Pakistani PM Imran Khan at the White House. “Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth… literally in 10 days.”

“I don’t want to go that route,” Trump added. “I don’t want to kill 10 million people.”

Instead, Trump claimed that Pakistan will help “extricate” the US from the long war in Afghanistan the previous administrations have got entangled in.

“We’ve been there for 19 years, and we’ve acted as policemen, not soldiers,” Trump said, adding he has been withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan solution.”

“This is the closest we’ve been to a peace deal,” Khan added, hoping that in the coming weeks the Afghan government would agree to direct talks with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been holding talks with the Taliban for months, reaching an “agreement on principle” in January on withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, but with many issues still left unresolved.

“It’s clear all sides want to end the war,” Khalilzad said at the time.

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