Under the Pakistani volcano

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Via The Saker

November 04, 2018Under the Pakistani volcano

While Khan plays on a complex geopolitical chessboard, Chinese aid could be a financial lifeline as Islamabad faces off against deadly religious extremism

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with The Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

It has been a breathless week, huddled in the shadow of the simmering, bubbling, politico-religious volcano that is Imran Khan’s Pakistan.

And this week’s multi-faceted developments may just signal seismic shifts in Pakistan’s internal and external relations for the foreseeable future.

Before moving on to bloodier matters, let’s start with the “Mr. Khan Goes to China” episode – essential for reviewing all aspects of what is enthusiastically described by both sides as the “all-weather strategic cooperative partnership”.

Xi’s financial lifeline for Khan?

Prime Minister Khan, leading a fresh government elected in July and facing a range colossal challenges, set the tone from the start. He did not mince words.

“Countries go in cycles, they have their high points, they have their low points,” he said. “Unfortunately, our country is going through a low point at the moment with two very big deficits, a fiscal deficit and a current account deficit. And so we, as I’ve said, have come to learn.”

Arguably few teachers beat Chinese President Xi Jinping, praised by Khan as a role model. “China’s phenomenal achievements are worth emulating,” Khan said. “No other country has tackled poverty and corruption the way China has tackled it.”

The lynchpin of the strategic partnership is inevitably the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of the New Silk Road, or Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI). Before his stint as guest of honor of the First China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Khan met a crucial player in Beijing for CPEC financing: Jin Liquan, president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Right from the start, Pakistan’s new Planning Minister Makhdoom Bukhtiar was confident that Islamabad would not need to reschedule around $2.7 billion in Chinese loans due for repayment in 2018. Instead, what’s in the cards is an improved economic package centered on taking CPEC to the next level.

A financially stable Pakistan is absolutely crucial for the success of BRI. A Pakistani audit of projects approved by the previous Nawaz Sharif administration called for streamlining CPEC, not curtailing it. Now, Team Khan does not subscribe to the notion of CPEC as a debt trap.

With Saudi Arabia and China stepping in with cash, Islamabad may avoid becoming further indebted to the IMF and its trademark “strategic adjustments”- widely dreaded across the Global South for producing a toxic mix of austerity and inflation.

Pakistan juggles China, Iran, Saudi, Turkey

Pakistan is all about its prime geopolitical location, the crossroads of South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia.

For Beijing, Pakistan as a key BRI node mirrors its new role as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). As Khan has clearly identified, this interconnection can only turbo-charge Pakistan’s geo-economic position – under the institutional framework of SCO. The Xi-Khan partnership may actually center around an economic win-win for Pakistan and the SCO.

Of course, myriad challenges lie ahead.

Take for instance Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Lu Kang having to clarify that “all the cooperation between China and Pakistan has nothing to do with territorial disputes.”

Kang was referring to the hoopla surrounding the fact that a Pakistani company launched a bus service from Lahore to Kashgar via Islamabad; essentially the northern CPEC route via the Karakoram Highway, which skirts Kashmir. China does not want any interference whatsoever in the ultra-volatile Kashmir dossier.

Saudi Arabia is also making some not-too-subtle moves. Islamabad’s official position is that Riyadh’s recent financial offer came with no strings attached. That’s unlikely to be the case; Saudi traditionally casts a long shadow over all matters Pakistani. “No strings” means Islamabad should keep closer to Riyadh, not Tehran.

The House of Saud – paralyzed by the fallout of the bloody Istanbul fiasco – will go no-holds-barred to prevent Islamabad from getting closer to Tehran. (Or Ankara, for that matter). A possibly emergent, long-term, game-changing Turkey-Iran-Pakistan alliance was the talk of the town – at least during the first part of this week of weeks.

That brings us to the crucial visitor Khan received in Islamabad before his trip to China: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Last month, 14 Iranian border guards were kidnapped by the Pakistan-based Jaish al-Adl Salafi-jihadi fanatics. Pakistan security forces have been helpless so far.

Khan and Zarif talked about that – but also talked about Khan’s offer to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia in trying to find a solution for the tragedy in Yemen. The fact is, a Tehran-Islamabad rapprochement is already a work in progress.

That is the sophisticated geo-political game Khan must play. Meanwhile at home, he has to get down and dirty as he gets to grips with violent domestic religious turmoil.

‘Go legal – or else…’

I’ve been in Islamabad since Monday – right on the lip of the volcano, and enjoying the privilege of being part of one of the most extraordinary geopolitical conferences in recent times, something that in the current polarizing dynamic could only happen in Asia, not the West. But that’s another story.

While I was parsing elaborate analyses of this geopolitical chessboard, reality intervened.

Or – perhaps – it was a graphic intimation that Pakistan may just be changing for the better.

Street blockades paralyzed key nodes of the nation because Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman laborer, in jail for nine years, was finally acquitted by the Supreme Court of spurious charges of blasphemy. There are less than 4 million Christians in Pakistan out of a total population of 197 million.

I was with a small group on the motorway to Peshawar, prior to taking a detour to Taxila – Alexander-the-Great land, where I planned further research on ancient Silk Roads – when suddenly we were halted.

A mullah was blaring his hate through a loudspeaker. A couple of his minions blocked all circulation.

Why the police would not dislodge this small group is the matter of all matters in Khan’s arguably new Pakistan. The highway standoff embodies the high-stakes grapple underway between the state and religion.

Back in Islamabad, as he led me around the campus of the National Defense University, Timoor Shah, a bright young man at the Center for Policy Studies, gave me a crash course on the nuances.

What a global audience should understand is this. On one side stand the state, the military and the judiciary. (Accusations continue to be hurled that Khan was privileged in the July elections by the military – the top institution in Pakistan – and an activist judiciary.) On the other side, stand fringe religious nuts and an opportunistic, discredited opposition.

The Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), a minor extremist political party whose only platform is to punish blasphemy, has issued death threats against the three Supreme Court judges. Pakistan could do worse than import a strangle/bone-saw/dissolve-in-acid Saudi execution squad to deal with such groups.

It’s instructive to consider what the director general of the PR arm of the powerful intelligence service, ISI, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor had to say: This is a legal matter and the Pakistan Army should not be dragged into it. Ghafoor also stressed, “We are close to winning the war against terrorism and our attention should not be diverted.”

Ghafoor told politico-religious parties protesting against the Supreme Court judgment – quite a few of which were firmly on the lunatic fringe – to go legal or else. Amid this, TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi swears that that the Army has threatened to “destroy” his party.

The military sent a delegation, including ISI officials, to talk to the religious protesters. Ghafoor was careful to stress that the ISI is an intelligence department that reports to the prime minister.

In the end, the government caved in. Despite knowing that Aasia Bibi faces fundamentalist wrath and her only path to safety would be a one-way ticket out, they agreed to put her on something called the “Exit Control List.” Even that did not prevent TLP fanatics from threatening “a war if they sent Aasia Bibi out of the country.”

‘Taliban Godfather’ killed

As if all this were not toxic enough, on Friday evening Maulana Samiul Haq – the fabled “Godfather of the Taliban” – was stabbed to death in his house in Rawalpindi, Islamabad’s twin city.

Haq led the sprawling Darul Uloom Haqqania, a madrassa, or religious school, in Akhora Khattak, near Peshawar, founded in 1988. The madrassa graduated none other than Mullah Omar, as well as other Taliban notables.

Haq embodies a torrent of turbulence in modern Pakistani history – including his stints as senator during the Zia ul Haq and Nawaz Sharif administrations. He also tabled a notorious Sharia bill during Sharif’s last term.

But for me, the story was personal. In a tortuous way, Samiul Haq saved my life – courtesy of a letter of introduction he had signed after I visited his madrassa to follow a Talibanesque indoctrination in progress.

When, along with my photographer Jason Florio, we were arrested by the Taliban at a military base in Ghazni in the summer of 2000, we were only released from waiting six months to be tried as “spies” because of Samiul Haq’s letter.

This obviously pales when compared to the high-profile, principled move by the Pakistani Supreme Court to save Aasia Bibi from a death sentence.

But it could be the first salvo in a Khan-era Pakistani war against religious fundamentalism.

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Imran Khan Sucks Poisonous Ideology Out of Pakistan’s Diplomatic Relations

By Adam Garrie
Source

Any country that forms its diplomatic relations on the basis of ideology rather than pragmatism is necessarily signing up for conflicts which are as unnecessary as they are detrimental. Just as so-called interlocking alliances in Europe led to a regionalised Balkan conflict growing into a monstrous First World War, so too did the ideological divides of the Cold War lead to multiple global conflicts that could have otherwise been avoided. From the time of Pakistan’s birth to the US led invasion of Afghanistan, multiple Pakistani leaders have felt an inexplicable need to form alliances on the basis of someone else’s ideology. As a result, Pakistan was cut off from opportunities in the wider world while Pakistan’s own partners had not sufficiently respected Pakistan as a sovereign nation with monumental potential as an economic and diplomatic powerhouse in Asia.

During this year’s general election in Pakistan, Imran Khan’s PTI party campaigned on a manifesto of pragmatic non-alignment whereby Islamabad would remain neutral in the conflicts of others while simultaneously working with all nations in order to secure win-win outcomes for the Pakistani people. Already, Imran’s policy shift from ideological subservience to intelligent openness has literally paid dividends. At a time when western Eurasian and European nations questioned their relationship with Saudi Arabia over the controversial murder of a journalist, Imran not only remained neutral but he turned the tables on a long standing relationship in order to replace lopsidedness with equality and the win-win mentality.

It was Imran’s tactful diplomacy that secured from Riyadh a much needed one year $3 billion loan in addition to a further $3 billion in the form of deferred payments of oil purchases. It was also under Imran’s watch that Saudi Arabia decided to integrate itself in the Belt and Road initiative in the form of a deal to invest $10 billion for the building of a new oil refinery in Pakistan’s Gwadar port city.

But this did not happen in isolation. Days prior to Imran’s trip to Riyadh (the second since becoming Prime Minister), he held a positive meeting with Qatari officials. Likewise, not long after Imran’s second trip to Riyadh, Pakistan’s President was dispatched to Turkey where he spoke positively about expanding the scope and breadth of relations between two nations that have long standing fraternal relations. When one considers that Saudi Arabia is currently in the midst of a manifold diplomatic row with both Turkey and Qatar, Imran’s achievement was to make the most of warm relations with all – without taking a side in affairs remote from Pakistan’s national interest. Likewise, Pakistan’s offer to mediate in the three year long war in Yemen has been met with good will from all quarters, thus demonstrating that Pakistan’s international prestige has already increased as a result of Naya Pakistan (new Pakistan) replacing a beleaguered Pakistan.

While Pakistan’s relations with neighbouring Iran have long been strained, Imran has already met twice with Tehran’s influential Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. While the proximate cause of Zarif’s recent visit to Islamabad was to discuss the most unfortunate and mysterious kidnapping of Iranian border guards who were brought into Pakistani territory, the meetings also covered a wide range of issues in-line with the gradual rapprochement between Pakistan and Iran. Coming to Pakistan in a spirit of good will, Iran’s Foreign Minister stated,

“Iran and Pakistan are two very good neighbours, and Tehran enjoys good relations with Islamabad. We consult with them on all matters”.

Later Pakistan’s Foreign Minister released the following statement:

“While expressing satisfaction over cooperation with regard to the Pakistan-Iran border, it was agreed to continue close consultations through the established multipronged mechanism between the two countries. Foreign Minister Qureshi underlined that the Pakistan-Iran border was a border of peace and Pakistan will spare no effort to keep it this way”.

Pakistan looks therefore to continue improving relations with Iran while simultaneously enjoying a more equal and more importantly a more meaningful relationship with long standing allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Any notion that Pakistan must choose to align itself with one set of rivals over another is not only counter intuitive in a multipolar world but it runs contrary to Pakistan’s own national interests.

While the poison of a zero-sum mentality to foreign affairs is being sucked out of the Pakistani body politic by the new government, just over the border in India, Pakistanis can see how the government of Narendra Modi is scrambling to re-align itself after a policy of almost subservient devotion to the United States backfired on several fronts.

First the US refused to exempt India from its tariffs which came as a shock to some policy makers in New Delhi. Then India was excoriated by elements of the US establishment for purchasing the S-400 missile system from Russia and finally, in a symbolic blow to India’s prestige among its newfound American partner, Donald Trump refused an invitation to the country’s Republic Day parade. In this sense, India has learned the hard way that if one doesn’t have good relations with as many nations as possible, one stands to be exposed and humiliated by a hegemon disguised as a co-equal partner.

India’s disappointment in the US (however temporary it may prove to be) will be a familiar tale to Pakistanis who have witnessed decades of humiliation due to Islamabad’s track record of locking itself into lopsided alliances formed on the basis of foreign ideologies. By contrast, US President Richard Nixon once said that Indira Gandhi, “suckered us”, referring to the fact she was willing to engage in dialogue with the US without evading strong relations with India’s then Soviet ally.

Today, Imran Khan is neither suckering anyone nor is he insulting Pakistan’s dignity by locking the country into the rusty cage of ideological alliances and partnerships. Indeed, even by approaching the IMF at a time when it would clearly be more beneficial for Pakistan to rely on loans from friendly countries, Imran has been able to use this reality to leverage both the cash rich Saudi Kingdom and Pakistan’s all-weather Chinese partner in order to secure the best deal possible for Pakistan.

As Imran is hours away from departing for China where he will hold the most important meeting of his career with President Xi Jinping, he can go in the confidence that Naya Pakistan is win-win Pakistan. The ghosts of the past are being exorcised in more ways than one and Imran is prepared to make the best of any potential situation through his steadfast and open approach to diplomacy which has already helped to ease the economic tensions he inherited from his predecessors.

Imran Khan’s Patriotic Leadership Secures a $3 Billion Loan to Ease Crisis

By Adam Garrie
Soruce

Saudi Arabia has recently been making headlines for all of the wrong reasons. While the $10 billion investment agreement that will see Riyadh join the Belt and Road initiative by building a new oil refinery in Pakistan’s Gwadar port city, this story has generally be buried beneath those discussing the murder of Saudi born journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. But while for nations with the economic luxury of investigating the Khashoggi matter, business might not proceed with Riyadh as usual, for Pakistan, there is a crisis at hand that effects not the family of a single slain man but the lives of over 200 million Pakistanis.

Decades of domestic mismanagement in respect of the Pakistani economy appears to have forced Islamabad back to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a new bailout to stop Pakistan’s current account deficit from causing a major economic crisis. While Prime Minister Imran Khan recently stated that he will approach three nations (which he did not name) prior to approaching the IMF, further statements from Pakistan’s government indicate that a new IMF bailout may be inevitable. That being said, Pakistan has yet to formally make the request to the IMF.

The risk of Pakistan not being able to pay back its debts due to the domestic current accounts deficit has led Imran Khan to suggest that a possible hybrid solution involving a smaller IMF loan in combination with loan agreements with sovereign partners may be the best way forward. It is against this background that Imran met with top Saudi officials including King Salman in Riyadh where he is attending the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference, sometimes called the “Davos in the desert”.

During a lengthy interview before attendees of the FII conference, Imran Khan spoke candidly about the pressing matter of a monetary injection either from an cooperative partner nation, the IMF of both. He also laid bear the reality that economic reforms implemented today might not achieve their full desired goal for months or even a year. That being said, Imran balanced this honest and frank assessment against his medium and long term goal to rejuvenate Pakistan’s founding mission as articulated by national father Muhammad Ali Jinnah who sought to built a state where the welfare of all citizens was collectively assured through progressive measures designed to enhance social harmony.

Turning to his nation’s relationship with China, the Pakistani Prime Minister stated that as a country that was able to lift 700 million people out of poverty in thirty years, China is naturally an inspiration for Pakistan as Imran looks to elevate the condition of his people in the most rapid fashion possible. Iman Khan went on to speak of the great economic potential of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and in particular the Gwadar port. He then invited members of the international business community to invest in the special economic zones that are being built at Gwadar while drawing a helpful comparison to Gwadar’s deep water port to that of Singapore. Imran Khan then reflected on the modern housing programme his government has just inaugurated.

In addition to explaining to his audience of Saudi and international investors that Pakistan is a resource rich country ripe for forward looking foreign direct investment, the Prime Minister further explained how years of a war on terror which saw extremists enter into Pakistan from the Afghan side of the Durand Line made many international investors concerned with the safety of investments in Pakistan. While Pakistan has largely won its own war on terror thanks to the professionalism of the security services that Imran paid tribute to, this fact remains scarcely reported outside of Pakistan. Therefore it was of supreme importance that Imran explained that while Pakistan’s economy is current going through a difficult period, that this is partly do to the supreme sacrifices that Pakistan made to rid itself of the plague of terrorist extremism. In this sense, Pakistan today is not only a sound investment but in a literal sense it is also a safe one.

In making the point that whilst Pakistan was one of the fastest growing economies in Asia during the 1960s but that subsequent decades of poor governance meant that the country “lost its way”, today under his government, Imran Khan looks to restore balance to society while attracting unprecedented levels of foreign direct investment.

Iman Khan’s statement was focused, honest and deeply informed. For the first time in decades, Pakistan has a highly articulate Prime Minister who is willing and able to act as an economic ambassador whose mission is to secure the best possible future for his fellow Pakistanis. The long term future is of course a bright one as CPEC and related projects will doubtless flourish in future years and decades. Therefore, Pakistan’s challenge in the immediate term is to secure credit lines with reliable and trustworthy partners who can help Islamabad to get over the current obstacles erected by a combination of poor governance from recent decades and a nationally exhausting war against extremism that was won at a great price to society.

By focusing on Pakistan and its relations with its traditional partners including China and his Saudi Arabian hosts, Imran Khan has not fallen victim to vainglorious temptations that were so attractive to many of his predecessors. Rather than speak as though he was more concerned with remote issues than those facing his people, Iman Khan spoke about what Pakistan needs, wants and can offer. This is mature statesmanship that offers the best possible solution to the present current accounts deficit issue.

While much of the world, including and especially Europe tries to exploit the tragedy of others for its own gain, Pakistan’s new Prime Minsiter has demonstrated calm, decisive and honest leadership at a time when anything else could harm Pakistan’s fortunes greatly. While some domestic opponents continue to argue among themselves, Imran Khan is making the case for Pakistan’s future to those who are in a position to extend a helping hand on a win-win basis. This is the difference between decades of failure and the potential of Naya Pakistan (New Pakistan).

As a result of Imran Khan’s discussions with the Saudi King and Crown Prince, Riyadh has agreed to loan Pakistan $3 billion as part of a year long credit agreement. Additionally, Saudi Arabia will allow Pakistan to defer payments for oil imports up to the amount of an additional $3 billion in an agreement set to last for one year. With Imran Khan soon to visit China, there is now hope that Pakistan can help to cut its deficit through a series of loans from friendly nations. 

Did Washington get used to the message of S-300? هل تأقلمت واشنطن مع رسالة الـ«أس 300»؟

Did Washington get used to the message of S-300?

أكتوبر 24, 2018

Written by Nasser Kandil,

While Turkey is making a clear progress against Saudi Arabia as two competing countries to be with Iran in any new regional formula, it is not a secret that the points of strength of Turkey come from the positioning in between Washington and Moscow as two sponsors of the new regional system which Moscow’s administration is recognized by America. Turkey seems Russia’s candidate which is accepted by America, versus Saudi Arabia which is backed by Israel after the announced alliance between the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the Prime Minister of the occupation entity Benjamin Netanyahu and the sponsorship of the US President Donald Trump and his son in –law Jared Kushner through what is called as “the deal of the century” as a solution for the Palestinian cause and the declaration of Arab-Israeli alliance against Iran. It seems that the regression of Saudi Arabia is an interpretation of its failure in promoting the deal of the century and its turning into an actual deal that opens a new path in the regional balances. So it pays the cost of this failure and its failure in the war on Yemen. The repercussions of the case of Gamal Al Khashoggi seem closer to the required context to ensure the Saudi regression as the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in the early nineties was closer to the required scenario to overthrow the Iraqi regime.

The Russian victory in enhancing the position of Turkey instead of Saudi Arabia under US consent is expressed by the deal of the American pastor who was detained in Ankara and who was released yesterday, and is expressed by the understandings on the Turkish-American patrols in Manbej in the north of Syria. The return to the talk about Turkish-American normalization is based on the American coexistence with the Turkish arming with S-400 Russian missiles and on the Turkish economic strategic understandings that are related to the nuclear energy and the oil and gas market. Meantime there were questions about the status of Israel in the new regional system which its rules must be settled in the final stage of negotiations before the emergence of the final draft of settlement about the course of the war on Syria which is in its last quarter as recognized by everyone.

Israel which its bet on “the deal of century” failed despite Washington’s abidance by its obligations to the Saudi –Israeli bilateral to promote the concept of settlement on which the deal is based according to the Israeli vision and Saudi consent, and which is about removing the issues of the future of Jerusalem and the case of immigrants from the negotiation is aware that it will pay with Saudi Arabia the bill of failure which Washington cannot bear its consequences. Israel is the sponsor of the Saudi project in Washington through the bet on what could be done by the Saudi Crown Prince in case he assumes the Saudi, Arab, and Islamic leadership. Therefore it has to bear the consequences of its bets after Bin Salman’s failure in finding the Palestinian partner in the deal of the century,  his failure in the war on Yemen, and his most dangerous failure in keeping the status of Pakistan in the American-Israeli alliance. Israel lost the opportunity to reserve its seat for an attainable peace project; therefore, the threat of war is its only alternative solution.

The developments of the Russian-Israeli relationship in the equations and balances of the power in Syria which coincided with Syria’s deployment of S-300 under Russian sponsorship raised major questions about the ability of Israel to reserve its seat by the force of the military sabotage, especially because there is no hope for Israel in any military action against Iran. The balance of deterrence on the Lebanese front is increasingly coherent. Israel tried to absorb the shock by claiming that granting S-300 does not change its ability to move in the Syrian airspace, resorting to the scientific fiction to talk about the capacities of the modern US aircraft F-35 as the available counterpart to S-300. It opens a dangerous race between the capabilities of the Russian and American weapons, the Russian military promised in case the emergence of F-35 to drop it down even if this required the use of S-400 batteries. It is known that the Russian and the American leadership keenness not to involve in such a race because it will distort the reputation of the Russian and American weapons and will lead to a big loss in the secrets of the modern weapons, since the dedication to technological arming is undesirable.

The US statements issued by the US Department about S-300 and its handing over to Syria suggested the Israeli desire to violate the capabilities of the Russian system, since the Russian decision of escalation is dangerous that has severe consequences, while the statements of the Ministry of Defense in the name of the coalition in the war on ISIS were reversed, they stated that deployment of S-300 does not affect the act of the coalition forces in its war on ISIS. It seems that Washington decided to adapt with the change imposed by Russia, it announced yesterday its withdrawal of F-35 aircraft due to a technical failure after the fall of one of the aircraft on a training mission, after the Americans had decided to develop F-35 in a way that it can compete S-300, while the Russians say that one of the planes which Israel has only seven of fell a year ago by S-200 not S-300 and the Israelis claimed its fall after its clash with a flying object.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

 

هل تأقلمت واشنطن مع رسالة الـ«أس 300»؟

أكتوبر 13, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– في الوقت الذي تسجل تركيا تقدماً واضحاً بالنقاط على السعودية كمرشحين متنافسين للجلوس مقابل إيران في أي صيغة نظام إقليمي جديد، لا يمكن إخفاء حقيقة نقاط القوة التركية المتأتية من التموضع في منطقة الوسط بين واشنطن وموسكو، كراعيين للنظام الإقليمي الجديد الذي صارت إدارة موسكو له موضع تسليم أميركي. وتبدو تركيا مرشح روسيا المقبول أميركياً، مقابل السعودية التي تدعمها «إسرائيل» بعد التحالف المعلن بين ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان ورئيس حكومة الاحتلال بنيامين نتنياهو ورعاية الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب وصهره جارد كوشنر عبر ما سُمّي بصفقة القرن، كإطار لحل القضية الفلسطينية وإعلان تحالف عربي إسرائيلي بوجه إيران. ويبدو التراجع الذي تسجله السعودية ترجمة لفشلها في تسويق صفقة القرن وتحويلها إلى صفقة فعلية تفتح مساراً جديداً في توازنات المنطقة، وتدفع السعودية ثمن هذا الفشل إلى جانب فشلها في الفوز في حرب اليمن، بحيث بدت التداعيات الناتجة عن قضية جمال الخاشقجي أقرب للسياق المطلوب لتثبيت التراجع السعودي، كما كان غزو العراق للكويت مطلع التسعينيات أقرب للسيناريو المرسوم لإسقاط النظام العراقي.

– الفوز الروسي بتثبيت تركيا مكان السعودية برضا أميركي تعبر عنه صفقة القس الأميركي المحتجز في أنقرة والذي أفرج عنه أمس، كما تعبر عنه التفاهمات حول الدوريات التركية الأميركية في منبج شمال سورية، وعودة الحديث عن تطبيع تركي أميركي، يقوم على التعايش الأميركي مع التسلح التركي بصواريخ الـ»أس 400» الروسية، ومع تفاهمات اقتصادية استراتيجية تركية روسية تطال الطاقة النووية وسوق النفط والغاز، تقابله تساؤلات حول مكانة «إسرائيل» في النظام الإقليمي الجديد الذي لا بد لقواعد تشكيله أن تتبلور في المراحل الأخيرة من التجاذبات قبل ظهور النسخة الأخيرة للتسوية حول مسار الحرب التي شهدتها سورية، والتي يسلم الجميع بدخولها ربع الساعة الأخير.

– تدرك «إسرائيل» التي فشل رهانها على صفقة القرن، رغم إيفاء واشنطن بالتزاماتها للثنائي السعودي الإسرائيلي لجهة إطلاق الصدمة اللازمة لتسويق مفهوم التسوية التي تقوم عليها الصفقة، وفقاً لمقتضيات الرؤيا الإسرائيلية بقبول سعودي، ومحورها سحب مستقبل القدس وقضية اللاجئين من جدول التفاوض، أنها تدفع مع السعودية فاتورة هذا الفشل الذي لا تتحمل واشنطن تبعاته، فـ»إسرائيل» هي عراب المشروع السعودي في واشنطن من باب الرهان على ما يستطيعه ولي العهد السعودي في حال إطلاق يده في الزعامة السعودية والعربية والإسلامية، وعليها تحمل تبعات رهانها، مع فشل إبن سلمان في تأمين الشريك الفلسطيني في صفقة القرن، وفشله في حرب اليمن، وفشله الأخطر في الحفاظ على مكانة باكستان في الحلف الأميركي الإسرائيلي، بحيث فقدت «إسرائيل» أي فرصة للتحدث عن حجز مقعدها بقوة امتلاك مشروع للسلام قابل للتحقيق، وبقيت القدرة على التهديد بالحرب طريقاً وحيدة بديلة.

– جاءت التطورات التي شهدتها العلاقة الروسية الإسرائيلية في معادلات وتوازنات القوة في سورية مع نشر بطاريات الـ»أس 300» من قبل الجيش السوري برعاية روسية، لترسم أسئلة كبرى حول قدرة «إسرائيل» حجز مقعدها بقوة التهديد بالتخريب العسكري، خصوصاً أن لا أمل لـ»إسرائيل» برهان على عمل عسكري بوجه إيران، وتوازن الردع على جبهة لبنان يزداد تماسكاً بوجهها، وقد حاولت «إسرائيل» امتصاص الصدمة بالادعاء أن نشر الـ»أس 300» لا يغير في قدرتها على العمل في الأجواء السورية، مستعينة بالخيال العلمي للتحدث عن مقدرات الطائرة الأميركية الحديثة الـ»إف 35»، كردٍّ متاح على مقدرات الـ»أس 300»، فاتحة بذلك سباقاً خطيراً بين مقدرات السلاحين الروسي والأميركي، بحيث وعد عسكريون روس في حال ظهور الـ»إف 35» بإسقاطها ولو استدعى ذلك استعمال بطاريات الـ»إس 400»، ومعلوم حرص القيادتين العسكريتين الروسية والأميركية على أن التورط في سباق من هذا النوع سيلحق الأذى بسمعة السلاحين الروسي والأميركي ويوقع الطرفين في خسارة أسرار الأسلحة الحديثة، والتفرغ لسباق تسلح تكنولوجي غير مرغوب.

– التصريحات الأميركية الصادرة عن وزارة الخارجية حول الـ»أس 300» وتسليمه إلى سورية أوحت بتبني الرغبة الإسرائيلية باختراق مقدرات المنظومة الروسية، باعتبار القرار الروسي تصعيداً خطيراً يرتب تبعات وخيمة، فيما جاءت تصريحات وزارة الدفاع التي وردت ببيان باسم تحالف الحرب على داعش معاكسة، بالقول إن نشر الـ»أس 300» لا يؤثر على عمل قوات التحالف في حربها على داعش، ليبدو أن واشنطن قررت التأقلم مع التغيير الذي فرضته روسيا، ويجدون المخرج لذلك بالإعلان أمس عن سحب طائرات الـ»إف 35» من العمل لعطل تقني فيها بعد سقوط إحدى الطائرات في مهمة تدريبية، بعدما كان الأميركيون قد أعلنوا البدء بتجارب لتطوير الـ»إف 35» بما يؤهلها للقدرة على التعامل مع صواريخ «أس 300»، بينما يقول الروس إن الطائرة التي تمتلك «إسرائيل» منها سبعاً فقط قد سقطت واحدة منها قبل عام بصاروخ «أس 200» وليس «أس 300» وادعى الإسرائيليون أن سقوطها تم بعد اصطدامها بجسم طائر.

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نصر يماني مظفر يقترب من الوقوع

أكتوبر 13, 2018

محمد صادق الحسيني

ثمّة مؤشرات تتدافع من كلّ حدب وصوب تشي بقرب انقشاع غبار المعارك الوحشية عن اليمن وانكسار عمود خيمة أصحاب الشجرة الملعونة والخبيثة ودفع سمومها عن أصل العرب..!

ومواكبة لمجاهدي الميادين المنصورين بإذن الله، فإنّ ثمة جهوداً وحراكاً دبلوماسياً كثيفاً تحت الطاولة وفوقها يتجهان لتتويج تحوّلات الميدان بإنجاز يمني كبير قد يغيّر الجغرافية السياسية في المنطقة كلها..!

وفي هذا السياق فقد أفاد مصدر دبلوماسي أوروأميركي أوروبي أميركي متابع للحرب على اليمن بما يلي:

أولاً: قام المبعوث العماني الخاص، السيد هيثم البوسعيدي، لمتابعة الأزمة اليمنية، بإبلاغ محمد بن سلمان رفض حركة أنصار الله والحكومة اليمنية في صنعاء القاطع والمانع للمقترحات السعودية الإماراتية لإيجاد حلّ في اليمن على طريقتهم وذلك قبل أيّام قليلة.

ثانياً: نقل المصدر عن السيد هيثم البوسعيدي أنّ ردّ أنصار الله على مقترحات ابن سلمان، المعروفة الجوهر دون علمنا بالتفاصيل حتى الآن، قد أكدت ما يلي:

إنّ رؤيتهم للحل تتمثل في انسحاب قوات الاحتلال

من كلّ نقطة في اليمن بشماله وجنوبه وأن لا مجال إطلاقاً للمساومة في هذا الموضوع.

بعد إتمام الانسحاب الكامل لقوات التحالف السعودي يتمّ تشكيل حكومة وحدة وطنية يمنية، تشارك فيها كافة الأطياف السياسية اليمنية، من دون استثناء أحد.

تعمل هذه الحكومة على ترتيب انتخابات رئاسية وتشريعية عامة في اليمن الموحّد وتحت إشراف دولي على مسار الانتخابات فقط ضماناً لشفافيتها.

يتمّ استثناء هادي وجماعته من جميع هذه الإجراءات مهما كانت الظروف، على أن تقوم حكومة الوحدة بالبتّ في جرائمهم لاحقاً.

يُعاد البنك المركزي اليمني الى صنعاء كما تُعاد كافة

الأموال اليمنية الى البنك المركزي الذي سيتولى دفع رواتب الموظفين وصرف موازنات الدولة حسب الأصول.

تبدأ حكومة الوحدة الجديدة بالعمل على إعادة توحيد الدوله اليمنية، بما في ذلك توحيد القوات المسلحة والأجهزة الأمنية في إطار إدارة مركزية ملتزمة بالثوابت الوطنية اليمنيه تحقيقاً للمحافظة على وحدة البلاد واستقلالها وسيادتها على كل الأراضي اليمنية، بما في ذلك كل الجزر اليمنية وعلى رأسها جزيرة سوقطرى، الى جانب المياه الإقليمية ومياه المنطقة الاقتصادية البحرية لدولة اليمن المستقلة.

ثالثاً: جُنّ جنون إبن سلمان عند سماعه هذا الردّ، خاصة أنه كان قد تلقّى صفعة من عمران خان، رئيس وزراء باكستان الجديد، خلال زيارته للسعودية، والذي رفض مشاركة الجيش الباكستاني في العمليات القتالية في اليمن تحت أيّ ظرف كان، إلا إذا تعرّضت السعودية لغزو خارجي، وهو غير واقع الآن كما قال عمران خان لإبن سلمان.

وقد دفع موقف رئيس الوزراء الباكستاني هذا الى امتناع السعودية عن تقديم حتى دولار واحد لباكستان.

رابعاً: أكد المبعوث العماني أنه ورغم تعنّت محمد بن سلمان وعدم موافقته على الشروط اليمنية حتى الآن، ورغم جهوده التي يبذلها للبحث عن جنود يقاتلون بدلاً من الجيش السعودي أو يقدّمون الدعم له في حربه في اليمن، إلا أنه سيضطر للموافقة على هذه الشروط نظراً لأنّ الدول التي جدّد الطلب منها المشاركة القتالية فيها لم توافق على ذلك. وهذه الدول هي مصر، التي أبلغته بموقف شبيه بالموقف الباكستاني، وتونس التي طلب منها المشاركة بخمسة آلاف جندي والتي فضلت مشاركة السعودية في تدريبات جوية في المرحلة الحاليّة. وهذا ما حصل فعلاً، حيث وصلت تونس قبل أيّام بضع طائرات حربية سعودية لـ»إجراء مناورات» مع سلاح الجو التونسي. وهو موضوع لا يثير الا السخرية.

خامساً: يواصل المبعوث العُماني اتصالاته مع الطرفين، اليمني والسعودي. وهو يرى في ما حصل في القنصلية السعودية في اسطنبول عاملاً مساعداً جداً على إرغام إبن سلمان على الموافقة على الشروط اليمنية وان بإخراج متفق عليه لتغطية الهزيمة الكاملة والصارخة للسعودية هذا كلام الرجل وليس كلام المصدر .

وتلك الأيام نداولها بين الناس.

بعدنا طيّبين، قولوا الله…

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Imran Khan: “American Drone Strikes in Pakistan Must Stop. It’s Butchery, and the True Horror of It Is Hidden From the West”

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By Drone Warfare

Since 2004, the US government has attacked thousands of targets in tribal areas along the Afghan border in Northwest Pakistan. It used unmanned aerial vehicles operated by the US Air Force under the operational control of the CIA’s Special Activities Division. Attacks increased substantially under Bush’s successor, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama.

A non-violent campaign in Pakistan against drone strikes by the Tehreek-e-Insaf party, led by Imran Khan, involved blocking the route to pressure Washington to stop targeting armed groups in the region bordering Afghanistan. NATO supply containers to and from Afghanistan via Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were stopped at border points until US drone attacks stop and a formal apology was later given to the government for the killings in Pakistan. It ended in 2014.

Imran Khan attacks those countrymen who support NATO’s war on the Taliban:

*“They have absolutely no idea. They sit in the drawing room. They read the English-language newspapers, which bear very little resemblance to what is real Pakistan. I promise you, they would be lost in our villages . . .

Khan believes the US are responsible for the rise of the Pakistani Taliban, allies of the Afghan Taliban.

“We ended up sending our army into our tribal areas at the request of the Americans. And our areas got devastated. We had, more or less, a civil-war situation there. The aid was minuscule compared to the loss of billions and billions and the blood our country spilt.”

A leaked document confirmed that 81 civilians including children died in this 2006 CIA drone strike

He adheres to the Sufi tradition of egalitarianism and the acceptance of all creeds and beliefs in society and believes:

“All terrorism is politics. All this nonsense of religious terrorism. There’s no such thing as religious terrorism. It’s politics behind it. The political injustice. Perceived injustice is why people pick up arms — throughout history.”

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Note

*Direct quotations from a hostile account in the Times

Images in this article are from Drone Warfare.

The Dangerous and Duplicitous Infowar Against Imran Khan

Among the many reasons why Imran Khan’s PTI party swept Pakistan’s recent general elections while making major inroads in provincial elections was his party’s commitment to ending a systematic culture of corruption that existed among both of the national legacy parties as well as among regionally strong and fringe parties. As a result, PTI not only won at a national level but in so doing, helped to sweep away the power of the MQM in Karachi, erode the iron grip of PML-N over Punjab, as well as reduce the share of votes received by radical religious parties whose agitation politics has had a negative impact on Pakistan’s civil society for decades.

While Imran Khan’s foreign policy position of neutrality as a whole, scepticism combined with realism in respect of the US, robust clarity combined with an olive branch to India and steadfast fraternal relations with China has never been ambiguous, multiple media outlets are attempting to so discord over PTI’s foreign policy by taking simple statements out of context and in some cases by penning utter fiction as a means of discrediting Imran Khan.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in multiple stories, primarily from western outlets and occasionally from Indian outlets (later picked up by Pakistani outlets) implying that somehow the future of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is anything other than mutually assured from the perspective of both Beijing and Islamabad.

To understand this concept, one can learn much by studying the new Malaysian government led by the veteran politician Mahathir Mohamad. Like Imran Khan, Mahathir Mohamad is and always was an advocate of progressive nationalism with modern Islamic characteristics. While the multi-racial dynamic in Malaysia is different than the provincial/ethnic identities present in Pakistan, Mahathir’s approach to foreign policy was and remains similar to the course which Imran has promised to follow. Mahathir never hesitates to criticise the United States nor its allies (including Israel) while his relationship with China was and remains based on mutual respect tempered with a strong sense of Malaysian national pride.

Mahathir’s return to power this year at the age of 93 was in many ways a result of the same anti-corruption battle that characterised Imran’s campaign. Mahathir openly criticised his notoriously corrupt predecessor Najib Razak who is currently being investigated by the authorities for gross acts of corruption involving the abuse of power. Likewise, Imran’s effective predecessor and political rival Nawaz Sharif while presently out of prison is also being investigated for acts of corruption in respect of his ownership of multi-million dollar properties in London.

While the relations of both Pakistan and Malaysia with the Chinese superpower continued to progress along positive lines during the respective Premierships of Nawaz and Najib, it would be naive to suggest that two corrupt individuals somehow engaged in 100% ethical business deals with their Chinese partner. In other words, if corruption was the word of the day for both Nawaz and Najib, why should their joint projects with Chins be any different? This is not to say that China in any way bears responsibility for the actions of Nawaz and Najib. As a country that expects its international partners to exercise responsibility over their share in any and all joint projects, China does not exist to meddle in the internal affairs of foreign nations, whether such nations are run by men like Imran and Mahathir or whether they are run by men like Nawaz and Najib.

Because of this, China is not worried about the fact that some of the vanity projects of both Nawaz and Najib are now being reviewed by the new governments who were elected to do just that – review matters signed off for by predecessors whose domestic legacies had been rejected by the voters in a democratic election. China is in fact engaging in dialogue with both partners in order to reach a new understanding over projects that will be to the win-win benefit of all parties.

Thus while both Iman and Mahathir have both gone out of their way to clarify that their revision of various projects has everything to do with internal matters and nothing to do with negative views of Beijing, the Sinophobic media of the west and India continues to say otherwise in a clear attempt to manufacture a false narrative.

Far more than Malaysia, Pakistan’s economic future is dependant on healthy relations with its all-weather Chinese neighbour and not a single genuine statement from any PTI official has indicated otherwise. In fact, the high level contacts between the new government and Chinese officials demonstrates that if anything, PTI wants to make the most of Pakistan’s friendship with China and in so doing, making the most of opportunities often squandered by previous governments.

However, it is now clear that Pakistan must do as much as possible to fight the Sinophobic infowar which threatens to spread misinformation among Pakistanis at a fanatic pace. Take for example the scandalous article recently published in the London based Financial Times called “Pakistan rethinks its role in Xi’s Belt and Road plan“, insinuated that Pakistan is about to cancel important bilateral projects related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under the new PTI led government of Imran Khan. The report was based on statements from Pakistan’s Adviser for Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production, and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood whose Ministry has now fully rejected the article while claiming that the Financial Times took his words completely and intentionally out of context.

According to Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce and Textile, “The statements attributed to Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Textile have been taken out of context and distorted“. The Ministry further said that Pakistan rejects the article entirely “especially the title” while going on to call CPEC a “national priority”.

China likewise refuted the content of the article, describing the FT piece in the following way,

“Such ill-intentioned reports based on distorted and misquoted information only demonstrate that the report contributor has total ignorance and neglect of the CPEC or China-Pakistan traditional partnership”.

t is the latter part of the statement which is the most important in the context of the Financial Times article that is clearly part of the wider Sinophobic campaign in western and Indian media which has recently focused on China’s growing partnerships with the developing nations of Africa. But unlike China’s relations with multiple African states, some of whom had few profound contacts with Beijing in the 20th century, China’s relationship with Pakistan is among the most consistent of any neighbourly partnership in the world. Indeed, long before China became a global economic superpower, Beijing and Islamabad had incredibly close relations. The fact that since 1978 China has gone from a nation of overwhelming poverty to a nation about to dethrone the United States as the world’s largest overall economy, yet is still as close with Pakistan as it ever was, is a testament to the fact that the good neighbourly relationship in question has not shifted as so many Cold War era partnerships have radically done and continue to do in the 21st century.

China’s contemporary partnership with Pakistan has grown and developed as both countries have internally grown and developed. While Pakistan’s economic development is at a different stage than China’s, both countries look to pursue the path to a moderately prosperous society with national characteristics. The One Belt–One Road initiative has been a crucial mechanism through which both nations can build upon their traditional partnership to help achieve substantial economic growth on a cooperative win-win basis.

Because of this close and growing partnership, the fact that the Financial Times would attack such a partnership as opposed to the straw man targets that include Sino-Sri Lankan or Sino-Pan African relations,  is indicative of a new level of intensity in the hybrid infowar against China. If one were to compare the anti-Chinese infowar to a traditional military battle, it could be said that the enemy has pivoted away from targeting the nation’s hinterlands and has dropped bombs on the nation’s capital. Because the Sino-Pakistan relationship has led to the development and growth of CPEC and because CPEC is the central artery of One Belt–One Road, a fake news story indicating that CPEC may be stalled is nothing less than an outright provocation designed to sow discord between two of the world’s longest standing allies.

The ultimate aim of such provocateurs is to isolate China from major east-west trade routes as a “death” of CPEC would mean that with Myanmar in the midst of western provoked conflict and the Strait of Malacca being a de-facto US controlled shipping route – China would effectively be boxed into its own national seas without having an easy route into the Afro-Bengal Ocean.

For Pakistan, the aim of the provocation is to completely isolate the country by cutting off from its economic lifeline to north-east Asia, thus leaving the country surrounded by hostile forces in India and Afghanistan along with a temporarily economically crippled Iran.

The fact that the provocation was placed in a once “respectable” newspaper combined with the fact that the attack on Sino-Pakistan relations is as brazen as it is based on falsehoods is likewise instructive as it indicates that there are no depths to which the western liberal media will not sink in order to attempt and sabotage CPEC. In many ways the Financial Times article in question is even more scandalous than the kinds of things written in Indian media because the staff at the Financial Times would be well aware that due to an unfortunate lingering colonial mentality in south Asia, many Pakistanis would more readily believe a western source than an Indian source even though in the year 2018 they both have near identical agendas.

The conclusion for Pakistanis to reach is that they must be on guard against a perfect storm of anti-Chinese fake news deriving from stories planted by India in Pakistan’s own liberal media as well as stories from western outlets that many Pakistanis still respect. The aim is to isolate Pakistan totally from all of its neighbours and in so doing, leaving the country economically barren and depressed unless Islamabad comes crawling back to a scoffing US on its hands and knees. While Pakistan’s state institutions are well aware of this strategy, the people themselves must be aware of it, as it is the people who are being directly targeted with misinformation which if believed could destroy Pakistan’s best chance of achieving its developmental goals.

By Adam Garrie
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