The Syrian War Will Go Nuclear


By Gordon Duff

Events that have transpired in and around Syria and the Middle East with the defeat of ISIS during the fall of 2018 clearly prove one thing. The US and Israel, and under Trump the two are inseparable, intend to push Russia and China to nuclear confrontation.

The Pentagon is fully behind this, wanting to stop Russia and China before new weapons systems are fully deployed and America’s perceived nuclear advantage is gone forever. There are other reasons as well, indicating insanity among both American and Israeli commands.

Israel has millions of Palestinian hostages while the US has, over the last two decades, built nuclear shelters in Israel for up to 250,000 Jewish citizens, shelters that include ICBM silos with missiles that can hit anywhere in Europe.

In 2009, I reviewed documentation held by Pakistan’s ISI outlining a deal between India and Israel to share stolen American ICBM technology with Israel to receive several long-range missiles capable of hitting North America or China, each with up to 10 warheads. The report showed US Army Corps of Engineers’ drawings for missile silos in Israel capable of housing ICBMs.

American author Jeff Gates sat next to me during the briefing with Pakistan’s top intelligence leaders.

Running the clock back up to October 2018, American and Israeli pilots are now in Ukraine training to defeat the S300 missile system now deployed in Syria. What is not told is that this training is why Russia just demanded that the US remove “White Helmet” personnel from Syria, it is obvious as to the reason, Russia believes the US is planning a wide attack on Damascus under the pretext of an alleged gas attack in Idlib Province.

Russia is trying to defuse a situation that has dire consequences, let me explain.

If Israel and the US choose to use “standoff” weapons to attack Syria and Russian forces inside Syria, legally inside Syria, and it is believed that this is exactly what the US and Israel plan, then retaliatory strikes are within the rules of engagement.

This includes using Russian very long-range air defenses, enhanced S400 or better, which are deployed to protect Russian forces. Potential targets include American B1/B2 heavy bombers out of Qatar, American ships in the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Persian Gulf and “coalition” aircraft firing from Eastern Syria or from Iraq or Turkey.

Similarly, Israeli planes firing from inside Israel, or from over Lebanon or the Mediterranean, might well be targeted as well as their home bases inside Israel. Missiles are deployed inside Syria, the Iskandar M system, since March 2016, capable of defeating Israel’s “Iron Dome” defense system and wiping out Israeli command posts on Syria’s Golan Heights or any air bases inside Israel.

It would also be right and proper, in accordance with the rules of war, to do so even though the consequences would be escalation. This is exactly what the United States wants.

It is confusing to many, seeing the US and the Kiev regime working so closely together against Russia, that the consensus has been that Trump is pro-Russian. One might look more closely at the time in the early 1990s when Trump was facing financial collapse.

His flagging empire of failed hotels and casinos, of partnerships with organized crime figures with long histories of human and narcotics trafficking, had reached an end. It was Russian cash, laundered into Trump’s empire, stolen Russian cash from Russia’s commercial banks, that put Trump back on his feet.

Those involved, men like Semion Mogilevich, Russian “boss of bosses” and Trump partner Felix Sater of Bayrock Group, that divided billions in stolen Soviet currency reserves with key American political figures, not just the Bush family, but banking and regulatory oversight personnel as well including two US Senators.

The “New Russia” was to be stripped bare, a “milk cow” for the criminal bosses who had gained control of Washington during the Reagan era, a plan that failed with the political rise of Vladimir Putin.

Thus, when men like Paul Manafort support Russian interests inside Ukraine, it isn’t support or friendship with Russia. When the time came, the same “Russia backers” joined quickly with Kiev, training and equipping extremist militias, backing the Odessa of May 2014 and pushing for sanctions against Russia.

Moreover, the Kiev regime has been the primary conduit for the flood of former Soviet era weapons that has gone to ISIS in Syria and Iraq and the Sarin gas, manufactured at the Lugar Lab in Tbilisi, Georgia, that has been used inside Syria.

One might also consider the recent murder of a Washington Post correspondent by members of Saudi Arabia’s security services. It is impossible to not compare this with the alleged poisoning of the now hale and healthy Skripal clan. As proof of Russian complicity or even of the event itself dissolved into the world of imagination, American sanctions moved into high gear.

There are even authoritative sources that say Trump ordered the Khashoggi murder himself. In fact, there is little proof Khashoggi was under any threat from the Saudi government at all but rather only from his history of confrontations with Donald Trump which began immediately after the election. From the UK Independent, December 5, 2016:

“A Saudi Arabian journalist and commentator has been banned by his country for criticising US President-elect Donald Trump.

Jamal Khashoggi has been banned from writing in newspapers, making TV appearances and attending conferences, Middle East Eye reports.

After Mr. Khashoggi criticised Mr Trump’s Middle East policies at a Washington think-tank on 10 November, an official Saudi spokesman said he did not represent the Kingdom in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency.

Speaking at the Washington Institute, Mr. Khashoggi described Mr. Trump’s stance on the Middle East as “contradictory”, reported.

Mr. Khashoggi said that while Mr. Trump has been vocally anti-Iran, he has hinted he will support President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war, a move which will ultimately bolster Iran.

‘The expectation that ‘Trump as president’ will be starkly different from ‘Trump as candidate’ is a false hope at best,’ he added.

Mr. Khashoggi was also quoted in a Washington Post article discussing potential changes in the Middle East as a result of Mr. Trump’s election victory.”

Even a cursory examination of recent events, in light of Trump’s vocal support of torture and assassination, points an accusatory finger at the White House. Then we have the real story behind the infamous audio recording.

With Saudi Arabia the story is different. Our sources in the White House tell us that Trump received an audio recording of the incident as early as October 4, 2018 though Trump denials have continued for two more weeks. From the Mideast Eye:

“It took seven minutes for Jamal Khashoggi to die, a Turkish source who has listened in full to an audio recording of the Saudi journalist’s last moments told Middle East Eye.

Khashoggi was dragged from the consul-general’s office at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and onto the table of his study next door, the Turkish source said.

Horrendous screams were then heard by a witness downstairs, the source said.

‘The consul himself was taken out of the room. There was no attempt to interrogate him. They had come to kill him,’ the source told MEE.

The screaming stopped when Khashoggi – who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate on 2 October – was injected with an as yet unknown substance.

Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, who has been identified as the head of forensic evidence in the Saudi general security department, was one of the 15-member squad who arrived in Ankara earlier that day on a private jet.

Tubaigy began to cut Khashoggi’s body up on a table in the study while he was still alive, the Turkish source said.

The killing took seven minutes, the source said.

As he started to dismember the body, Tubaigy put on earphones and listened to music. He advised other members of the squad to do the same.

‘When I do this job, I listen to music. You should do [that] too,’ Tubaigy was recorded as saying, the source told MEE.

A three-minute version of the audio tape has been given to Turkish newspaper Sabah, but they have yet to release it.

A Turkish source told the New York Times that Tubaigy was equipped with a bone saw. He is listed as the president of the Saudi Fellowship of Forensic Pathology and a member of the Saudi Association for Forensic Pathology.

In 2014, London-based Saudi newspaper Asharaq al-Awsat interviewed Tubaigy about a mobile clinic that allows coroners to perform autopsies in seven minutes to determine the cause of death of Hajj pilgrims.

The newspaper reported that the mobile clinic was partly designed by Tubaigy and could be used in ‘security cases that requires pathologist intervention to perform an autopsy or examine a body at the place of a crime’.

These are the first details to emerge of the Saudi journalist’s killing. Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October to retrieve paperwork.”

What have we learned? We learned that the Saudis regularly use mobile pathology labs for dismembering the bodies of those they torture to death, and of course, this is America’s primary ally in the Muslim world and chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Our sources also tell us that CIA Director Gina Haspel, with a long history of working with Saudi Arabia in developing these “techniques,” was given evidence of the Khashoggi murder, an audio intercept, within hours, from the NSA.

Sources tell us that copies of the horrific murder and dismemberment recording immediately went to Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, to White House advisor John Bolton and Jared Kushner and were listened to repeatedly by President Trump on October 4, 2018.

Two weeks later he admitted to knowing about the recording, never admitting when he knew, and his response was to order new sanctions against Russia and Iran.

It might be noted that Khashoggi worked for the Washington Post, a newspaper particularly critical of Trump policies. Trump has repeatedly openly advocated violence be used against Washington Post journalists, something his Saudi friends seem to have taken to heart. From USA Today:

“Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos on Thursday called President Donald Trump’s criticism of journalists “dangerous,” saying he will consistently stick up for the role of media in democracy.

Bezos, whose companies are a frequent target of Trump’s criticism, didn’t mention Trump by name but assailed the president’s attacks on the media.

‘It is a mistake for any elected official, in my opinion – I don’t think this is a very out-there opinion – to attack media and journalists,’ he told interviewer David Rubenstein in an on-stage interview at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.

Were one to go “conspiratorial,” perhaps part conjecture but also well within known administration practices and certainly consistent with Washington’s recent behavior, it would not be outlandish to find Trump, along with John Bolton and Gina Haspel, long suspected psychopaths, fully complicit in the Khashoggi killing.

Simply put, it is exactly this kind of thinking, which fits into long established Trump regime methodologies, that puts nuclear Armageddon on the table over the Syrian conflict. None of it involves US strategic interests or even a secret globalist plot. At times the answer can be that simple, that the President and those around him are criminally insane, pathological liars and convinced that destroying the planet might well be the reason they were put on earth.

Assuming otherwise is unsupportable as the evidence of widespread insanity among American, French, British, Israeli and Saudi leaders is unavoidable.


Joint Statement of the Serbian and Antiochian Orthodox Patriarchates

Joint Statement of the Serbian and Antiochian Orthodox Patriarchates


October 22, 2018

Irenic& Official visit of His Beatitude Patriarch JOHN X to the Serbian Orthodox Church
From October 11to 19, 2018

BELGRADE – 19th of October 2018 – This historical visit, the first since Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch THEODOSIOS VI (Abou-Rjaili) visited Belgrade, was made in the context of the difficult and painful circumstances that are facing the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Syria, Lebanon and the Middle East. This visit also coincides with the crisis that is currently facing the world-wide Orthodox Church, where developments are evolving rapidly and in a disturbing manner, and could lead to the occurrence of permanent detrimental impacts on the bonds of communion, peace and unity between brothers.

1. The visit was an important fraternal occasion for the brothers to meet, and for the Serbian and Antiochian Churches to embrace themselves. It provided a chance to discuss various issues which are common to their Churches’ testimony and witness in today’s world in crisis. It was an occasion also to have a fraternal consultation between both Churches about general Orthodox Church matters and the means to avoid deepening the rift between the brothers, and about the requirements needed to consolidate consultation processes, and the consensus between the Local Orthodox Autocephalous Churches.

2. The discussions between the two Churches were driven by a high degree of the spirit of brotherhood, love, peace and transparency, and were thus based on true ecclesiastical principles which are distinct from unilateralism and approaches driven by certain interests. This spirit of brotherhood generated consensus and harmony between the two Churches in their discussions. The two delegations reviewed the many similarities in each Church’s respective historical experience (Serbian and Antiochian), given that each of them could be considered as a “witnessing” or “martyrial” Church. This experience helps both Churches, despite difficulties and suffering, to witness to the Truth and to Christ in her original historical jurisdiction and in the world. The discussions covered the common relations between the two Churches and the means to develop and consolidate them. The importance of active and ongoing cooperation and relations between the two churches was emphasized. Such ongoing active relations will include various theological, academic and cultural aspects, etc. The two Churches confirmed that the irenic visit that His Beatitude, Patriarch IRENEE, will make to the Antiochian Patriarchate, will take place in the near future.

3. The two delegations reviewed the continuing efforts deployed by the Serbian Church at all levels, to preserve her historical, spiritual and national heritage, especially in the Kosovo Metochion, which is considered the historical homeland of the Serbian Church. Both delegations confirmed the importance of supporting this effort, in line with the principles of human rights, peaceful coexistence between civilizations and religions, and compliance with international laws and order, given the importance of the Serbian heritage for the history and existential conscience of the Serbian Church, her present and future.

4. The Antiochian and Serbian delegations reviewed the difficult and painful situation that the Antiochian Orthodox Church is facing in Syria, Lebanon, and all the other states and societies of the Middle East. These people are suffering from killing, terrorism, destruction, forced displacement of population, emigration, and the various forms of political and societal instability that have affected their dignity and freedom, and the dignity of their day-to-day living. The two delegations reaffirm the fact that the Antiochian Christian presence in the East is an original one which goes back 2000 years, and that the Christians living there are not, and do not consider themselves as being minorities in this region, but one of the indigenous components of its many states and societies. They are also an integral part of the historical societal tissue of this region and of the Antiochian space and they continue to stay and are strongly attached to their land and to their testimony in this

5. The two Churches strongly underlined the importance of supporting the Church of Antioch in all that could help this Apostolic Church to continue ahead in her salvivic witness and testimony in the Middle East. This includes encouraging the people remain in their homeland and to partner in building the “State of Citizenship” which makes them equal in rights and obligations with all the other citizens. Both Churches consider that the only possible solution to put a peaceful end to all the tragedies of the countries of this region, is to remain in the dialogue and the acceptance of the other and its differences, and in adopting open dialogue and peaceful coexistence between all the components. This is accomplished primarily by ensuring the equality of rights and obligations between all citizens. More than ever, promoting peace and respecting religious diversity, are two important factors to spread peace all over the Middle East.

6. Both Churches regret the continuing and deepest silence related to the kidnapping of the two Aleppo bishops, Metropolitan PAUL Yazigi and Metropolitan JOHN Ibrahim. After more than five years, the world appears to have forgotten this important humanitarian case. Both Churches make an appeal to all local, regional and international institutions and organizations to urgently resume follow-up of this matter, to reveal the fate of the two bishops, and to make every effort to release them and bring them back to their respective dioceses.

7. Both the Serbian and Antiochian Churches regret that the dispute between the Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem, resulting from the decision of the latter to elect and ordain an Archbishop for Qatar which is in the historical canonical ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, has not yet been resolved. The two Churches express regret also that the impact on the whole of Orthodoxy because of this conflict have not been considered in a timely fashion by all the other Orthodox Churches. This is despite the terms of the agreement achieved through the discussions of the two Churches in June, 2013 in the presence and mediation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek foreign ministry. These terms have been documented by the mentioned ministry and in the correspondence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, admitting thus the existence of the agreement and of its terms.

8. The Serbian and Antiochian Churches express their great concern about the dangers of estrangement, division and separation that threaten the Local Autocephalous Orthodox Churches in our present day. We believe these are a result of unilateral decisions which are impacting the basis of consensus and of fraternal relations between these Churches. Such unilateral decisions are hurting both their unifying bonds and the influence of the Orthodox Church’s testimony in today’s world. The two Churches consider that the current historical momentum is very difficult and sensitive. This momentum requires more than ever before, a lot of wisdom, patience and spiritual vigilance to preserve both the peace of the Orthodox Church and her unity, as well as prevent her from falling, consciously or unconsciously, into the pitfalls of political axes and the political ambitions of nations. Doing so will hurt and weaken the Orthodox testimony and witness in today’s world.

Consequently, the two Churches declare the following:

А. The unity of the Orthodox Christian world and its peace have been placed by Jesus Christ in our hands. Therefore, the two Churches confirm that the strengthening of the unity of the Orthodox Church is a matter of great importance. This is true because the Church is exposed to various dangers and challenges that have originated in today’s world, with its contradictions and divisions, and its various societal and existential impacts on the human person.

B. It is not possible to translate the unity of faith, in a tangible reality and in an efficient testimony that influences human persons in today’s world, which is torn by existential and societal tensions, if the Orthodox Church does not reveal to the world her Church’s unity. This unity is expressed in her words and by her actions. This unity is expressed through conciliarity (synodality, sobornost), work processes, consultation and decision-making processes based on the traditional canonical order of Orthodox Church and consensus between the Orthodox Churches, whatever their size. The Orthodox Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic, and is not a federation or a confederation of churches that are separate and independent from each other, acting and reacting based on self-interests, and which appear to the world as a group of Churches in conflict, in dispute, and in estrangement between each other.

C. In the context of the Orthodox Church’s universal presence all over the world, the Orthodox witness requires today, more than ever, additional openness, discussions, exchanges of expertise and the deployment of traditional canonical conciliarity between all the Orthodox Churches to unify their testimony in the modern world. This is why the two Churches confirm that it is in the best-interest of the Orthodox Church to embark upon a self-critical review of all the unilateral processes and decisions. This will lead to the preservation of the bonds of unity and communion in brotherhood, love and peace between all the Orthodox Churches, being members of one body (the Body of the Christ). We also require a serious, efficient and processual reactivation of the spirit of unity, consultation, conciliarity and the application of the principle of consensus in approaching and deciding on the common matters between Orthodox Churches. These especially include the decisions related to the granting of autocephaly, based on the principles of Orthodox ecclesiology and canonical order.

D. Orthodox conciliarity is the only efficient way to avoid further deterioration between the Orthodox Churches leading to even deeper estrangement, division and separation. These very things threaten the unity of the whole Orthodox body. Only sound conciliarity, which is based in the first place on the unity of the Eucharistic Chalice, can and should be the basis and the foundation for all we do.

The dangerous situation in the Orthodox world, resulting from the situation in Ukraine, cannot continue without ultimately establishing a lasting division between all the members of the Orthodox Church. That is detrimental to the peace bond in the Orthodox pleroma and to its testimony in today’s world.

Therefore, and given the urgent need to avoid further escalation in the current crisis, the Serbian and Antiochian Patriarchs appeal to their brother, His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, to restore the fraternal dialogue with the Orthodox Church of Russia in order to, with the fraternal assistance and participation of all the other primates of the Local Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, resolve the conflict between the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow and to restore back the bond of peace in the Orthodox Church,



American War Declaration

American War Declaration


American War Declaration

Wess Mitchell, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs in the US State Department, gave a remarkable presentation to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 21 August 2018. Titled “US Strategy Towards the Russian Federation” it ostensibly lays out the US reaction to Russia’s continuing aggression, hostility, interference and so forth. It is written in the tone of a sadder but wiser householder who, formerly expecting better from his neighbour, now realises that there will be no better: the neighbour, alas, is not capable of decent behaviour. While remaining ever hopeful that reason will prevail, the peaceful neighbour must gird himself for an unpleasant struggle – Washington must respond to Moscow’s disruption. How sad.

But in all of these areas, it is up to Russia, not America, to take the next step. Our policy remains unchanged: steady cost-imposition until Russia changes course.

But, in an interesting slip of the tongue, he gave away the real policy. I say “slip of the tongue” because the State Department version of his speech leaves out the two sentences that tell you that most of Mitchell’s testimony is sleight of hand to distract the audience.

Senate testimony version

The starting point of the National Security Strategy is the recognition that America has entered a period of big-power competition, and that past US policies have neither sufficiently grasped the scope of this emerging trend nor adequately equipped our nation to succeed in it. Contrary to the hopeful assumptions of previous administrations, Russia and China are serious competitors that are building up the material and ideological wherewithal to contest US primacy and leadership in the 21st Century. It continues to be among the foremost national security interests of the United States to prevent the domination of the Eurasian landmass by hostile powers. The central aim of the administration’s foreign policy is to prepare our nation to confront this challenge by systematically strengthening the military, economic and political fundaments of American power.

The State Department version leaves out the two emphasised sentences.

So, Mitchell – who ought to know – is telling us that a “foremost [but there can be only one foremost] national security interest” of the USA is to

prevent the
domination of
the Eurasian landmass by
Russia and China

In 1904 Halford Mackinder wrote a paper in which he divided the world into “the World-Island” (Europe, Asia and Africa); the “Offshore islands” (British Isles, Japan and others), and “the Outlying Islands” (the Americas and Australia) and discussed the geopolitical implications. In 1919 he summed his theory up as:

Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;

who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;

who rules the World-Island commands the world.

In Mitchell’s presentation, the principal “Outlying Island” and its allies in the “Offshore Islands” must prevent Russia and China from controlling the “Heartland”. Echoed by George Friedman’s remarks that the essence of US policy for a century or more was to prevent Germany and Russia from uniting.

Now Americans have always been a bit uncomfortable about their imperium. Going so far sometimes as to deny that there is any such thing. Perhaps a hegemony but only an empire if President Bush makes the wrong decisions (which I suppose the author would say he did). Niall Ferguson says it’s an “empire in denial“. Friedman seems prepared to use the word. A “tempered American imperialism” maybe. Not an empire; yes it is but it’s a good empire. And so on: there’s as much or as little debate as you want but the central reality is that Americans are not comfortable with the idea of being an imperial power. Not so the Romans: they gloried in it; Rome had the power and it used it. Cato the Elder was delighted with the death and enslavement of the Carthaginians. Caesar claimed to have killed a million Gauls and enslaved a million more and there’s nothing to suggest he lost a moment’s sleep over it. Vae victis.

What Mitchell would be saying, if he were a Roman, is that we intend to remain the world’s predominant power and if Russia is an obstacle, we will crush it. That’s the way of the world and that’s what we’ll do. And China and Iran and anyone else. But he’s an American so he must pretend that the USA is the peaceful householder and Russia is the troublesome neighbour; he must tell the Senate committee, and it so expects, that Moscow has broken the peace and deserves punishment.

The specific charges he makes against Russia are nonsense.

In Ukraine, we have maintained an effort under Ambassador Kurt Volker to provide the means by which Russia can live up to its commitments under the Minsk Agreements.

The word “Russia” doesn’t even appear in the Minsk Agreements; there are no “commitments”.

unprecedentedly brazen influence operations orchestrated by the Kremlin on the soil of our allies and even here at home in the United States

few Facebook ads, most of which appeared after the election and only “Russian” by assertion. Even at the most generous interpretation of “Russian-influenced”, it’s a negligible number of possibles. And, as I have argued elsewhere, had Moscow wanted to influence the election it would have used the Uranium One case to either blackmail or smear Clinton.

Putin wants to break apart the American Republic, not by influencing an election or two, but by systematically inflaming the perceived fault-lines that exist within our society. His is a strategy of chaos for strategic effect.

I suppose that the “factual basis” for that is that some American who wants to break California into two parts lives part time in Moscow and a Russian professor thought that the USA would break up into a number of pieces. So what? there are lots of opinions around, who cares what some academic says or thinks? Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was a lot closer to power than these Russians, thought that a “loosely confederated Russia” of three parts would be a good idea. And Stratfor’s Friedman thinks Russia will break up soon. But when a senior US official says that “Putin wants to break apart the American Republic”, that’s existential; that’s a pretty serious charge. Is it a nuclear war kind of charge?

the Putinist system’s permanent and self-justifying struggle for international dominance.

(But didn’t Mitchell say something about preventing the “domination of the Eurasian landmass by hostile powers”? Wouldn’t his Russian equivalent be able to point to his speech and talk about how Russia must resist Washington’s “permanent and self-justifying struggle for international dominance”?). It’s not Moscow that has 800 or so military bases around the world; Moscow isn’t expanding its military alliance to the US border. Projection.

There’s lots of projection in Washington’s and its minions’ assertions about Russia. As far as official Washington is concerned, Moscow’s resistance to the Imperium can only mean that it wants to crush the US, break it up, incite civil war and impose its imperium on the world. (Romans would agree: either Rome eats, or Rome is eaten.) If you look in a mirror you see yourself. Projection again.

Doing so involves an evolved toolkit of subversive statecraft first employed by the Bolshevik and later the Soviet state, which has been upgraded for the digital age. While these tools and technologies differ depending on the context, the key to their success is that the Kremlin employs them within a common strategic and operational framework aimed at leveraging all available means to achieve a decisive strategic effect.

Bolsheviks, Putinists whatever: Russia, the Once and Future Enemy. I think my favourite part – what adjective? – deluded? crazy? insane? McCartheyesque? is this bit:

we formed a new position – the Senior Advisor for Russian Malign Activities and Trends (or, SARMAT) – to develop cross-regional strategies across offices.

SARMAT – a Russian ICBM named after the Sarmatians, who may have been the origin of the Arthurian legends. Is this a joke? But who can tell these days? But one can be certain that the office will grow and grow as it busily finds evidence of Russian involvement everywhere: Star Warsorganic foodgunsMuellervaxx; whatever brings in the salaries and promotions. (But a rather unimaginative name though: why not SPecial Executive for Countering Terrorist Russian Excesses? Or Special Ministry for Engaging Russian Sabotage and Horrors?)

Pretty crazy stuff indeed – frighteningly so – but, thanks to Mitchell giving away the secret, we don’t have to waste our time debating Russia and Ukraine or how cute puppies “sow discord and chaos“. They’re only shoved in because Americans have to be the white hats – “Moscow is attacking us!” – when a Cato would bluntly say: “Moscow must be destroyed!” But it’s the same thing: it’s a Mackinder war. So far with sanctions (the economic fundament) and propaganda accusations (the political fundament). The military fundament fortunately remains offstage.

* * *

But Mitchell is late to the party. Moscow and Beijing know they’re on the hitlist and their alliance grows and strengthens. Iran, a significant player on the “World-Island” knows it’s on the hitlist too. India is playing both sides. The endless American wars in the MENA do not strengthen Washington’s control of the “Eurasian landmass”. CAATSA will alienate everyone else. Even Zbigniew Brzezinski came to understand “[the US was] no longer the globally imperial power“.

I would argue that the American dominance of the Twentieth Century was principally due to four factors. A tremendous manufacturing capacity; great inventive ingenuity allied to the ability to exploit new inventions; a stable political system; the emotive reality of “the American Dream”. How much remains? A recent government report summarises the outsourcing of manufacturing. Is the inventive capacity more than just social media, pop music or a different iPhone button? Political stability wobbles. And as to the American Dream: will your children be better off than you are? One should not forget that Trump was elected on the slogan “Make America Great Again”.

Perhaps the Mackinder War has already been won by the “Heartland” powers.

* * *

Statement of A. Wess Mitchell

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs

Senate Foreign Relations Committee

US Strategy Towards the Russian Federation

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Menendez, thank you for inviting me to testify today. I will use my prepared comments to outline in brief form the overarching strategy of the United States towards the Russian Federation. The foundation for this strategy is provided by three documents, as directed and approved by the President: the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy and the Russia Integrated Strategy.

The starting point of the National Security Strategy is the recognition that America has entered a period of big-power competition, and that past US policies have neither sufficiently grasped the scope of this emerging trend nor adequately equipped our nation to succeed in it. Contrary to the hopeful assumptions of previous administrations, Russia and China are serious competitors that are building up the material and ideological wherewithal to contest US primacy and leadership in the 21st Century. It continues to be among the foremost national security interests of the United States to prevent the domination of the Eurasian landmass by hostile powers. The central aim of the administration’s foreign policy is to prepare our nation to confront this challenge by systematically strengthening the military, economic and political fundaments of American power.

Our Russia policy proceeds from the recognition that, to be effective, US diplomacy toward Russia must be backed by “military power that is second to none and fully integrated with our allies and all of our instruments of power.” To this end, the administration has reversed years of cuts to the US defense budget, begun the process of recapitalizing the US nuclear arsenal, requested close to $11 billion to support the European Deterrence Initiative, and, in the past year and a half, worked with NATO Allies to bring about the largest European defense spending increase since the Cold War – a total of more than $40 billion to date. In addition to commitments from over half of the Alliance to meet NATO’s two-percent defense spending requirement by 2024, the United States achieved virtually all of our policy objectives at the NATO Summit, including the establishment of two new NATO Commands (including one here in the United States), the establishment of new counter-hybrid threat response teams, and major, multi-year initiatives to bolster the mobility, readiness, and capability of the Alliance.

In tandem, we have worked to degrade Russia’s ability to conduct aggression by imposing costs on the Russian state and the oligarchy that sustains it. Building on Secretary Pompeo’s recent testimony, I am submitting for the record a detailed list of actions this administration has taken. These include, to date: 217 individuals and entities sanctioned, 6 diplomatic and consular facilities closed or kept closed, and 60 spies removed from US soil. The State Department has played the lead role in ensuring that these efforts are closely and effectively coordinated with European allies through synchronized expulsions and the continued roll-over of sanctions related to Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine.

Our actions are having an impact. Research by the State Department’s Office of the Chief Economist shows that on average sanctioned Russian firms see their operating revenue fall by a quarter; their total asset valuation fall by half; and are forced to fire a third of their employees. We believe our sanctions, cumulatively, have cost the Russian government tens of billions of dollars on top of the broader impact on state-owned sectors and the chilling effect of US sanctions on the Russian economy. Following the announcement of sanctions in April, the Russian company Rusal lost about fifty percent of its market value. In the five days following our August 8 announcement of Chemical and Biological Weapons Act sanctions, the ruble depreciated to its lowest level against the dollar in two years.

Even as we have imposed unprecedented penalties for Russian aggression, we have been clear that the door to dialogue is open, should Putin choose to take credible steps toward a constructive path. In Syria, we created de-escalation channels to avoid collisions between our forces. In Ukraine, we have maintained an effort under Ambassador Kurt Volker to provide the means by which Russia can live up to its commitments under the Minsk Agreements. But in all of these areas, it is up to Russia, not America, to take the next step. Our policy remains unchanged: steady cost-imposition until Russia changes course.

As with the overall strategy, the premise of these efforts has been that our diplomacy is most effective when backed by positions of strength. We have placed particular emphasis on bolstering the states of frontline Europe that are most susceptible to Russian geopolitical pressure. In Ukraine and Georgia, we lifted the previous administration’s restrictions on the acquisition of defensive weapons for resisting Russian territorial aggression. In the Balkans, American diplomacy has played a lead role in resolving the Greece-Macedonia name dispute and is engaging with Serbia and Kosovo to propel the EU-led dialogue. In the Caucasus, Black Sea region, and Central Europe we are working to close the vacuums that invite Russian penetration by promoting energy diversification, fighting corruption, and competing for hearts and minds in the lead-up to the 30th anniversary of the end of Communism.

Our strategy is animated by the realization that the threat from Russia has evolved beyond being simply an external or military one; it includes unprecedentedly brazen influence operations orchestrated by the Kremlin on the soil of our allies and even here at home in the United States. These activities are, as FBI Director Wray recently stated, “wide and deep,” being both extensively resourced and directed from the highest levels of the Russian state. We work closely with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and, and the National Security Council to ensure that all relevant resources are being brought to bear to thwart and punish any Russian influence campaigns in the run-up to the elections.

It’s important to state clearly what these campaigns are and are not about.

What they’re not about is any particular attachment to specific US domestic political causes. They are not about right or left or American political philosophy. The threat from Russian influence operations existed long before our 2016 presidential election and will continue long after this election cycle, or the next, or the next. As the recent Facebook purges reveal, the Russian state has promoted fringe voices on the political left, not just the right, including groups who advocate violence, the storming of federal buildings and the overthrow of the US government. Russia foments and funds controversial causes – and then foments and funds the causes opposed to those causes. Putin’s thesis is that the American Constitution is an experiment that will fail if challenged in the right way from within. Putin wants to break apart the American Republic, not by influencing an election or two, but by systematically inflaming the perceived fault-lines that exist within our society. His is a strategy of chaos for strategic effect. Accepting this fact is absolutely essential for developing a long-term comprehensive response to the problem. The most dangerous thing we could do is to politicize the challenge, which in itself would be a gift to Putin.

What Russian efforts are about is geopolitics: the Putinist system’s permanent and self-justifying struggle for international dominance. As stated by a handbook of the Russian Armed Forces, the goal is “to carry out mass psychological campaigns against the population of a state in order to destabilize society and the government; as well as forcing a state to make decisions in the interests of their opponents.” Doing so involves an evolved toolkit of subversive statecraft first employed by the Bolshevik and later the Soviet state, which has been upgraded for the digital age. While these tools and technologies differ depending on the context, the key to their success is that the Kremlin employs them within a common strategic and operational framework aimed at leveraging all available means to achieve a decisive strategic effect.

The State Department takes this threat very seriously. From my first day on the job, I have established for our team that countering this threat, in both its overt and covert forms, will be among the highest priorities for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. As a co-chair of the Russia Influence Group, I work with General Scapparotti to bring the combined resources of EUR and EUCOM to bear against this problem. Under EUR’s leadership, all 50 US missions located in Europe and Eurasia are required to develop, coordinate and execute tailored action plans for rebuffing Russian influence operations in their host countries.

Within the Bureau, we recruited one of the architects of the Global Engagement Center legislation from the staff of a member of this committee; in addition, we formed a new position – the Senior Advisor for Russian Malign Activities and Trends (or, SARMAT) – to develop cross-regional strategies across offices. Early this year, EUR created a dedicated team within the Bureau to take the offensive and publicly expose Russian malign activities, which since January of this year has called out the Kremlin on 112 occasions. Together with the GEC, EUR is now working with our close ally the UK to form an international coalition for coordinating efforts in this field. The State Department requested over $380 million in security and economic assistance accounts in the President’s 2019 Budget for Europe and Eurasia that can be allocated toward combatting Russian malign influence.

In these efforts, we recognize that Congress has an important role to play in providing the tools and resources that will be needed to deal effectively with the combined Russian problem set. As Secretary Pompeo made clear in his recent testimony, we are committed to working with all of you to make headway against this problem and align our efforts in support of the President’s Russia strategy.

Mr. Chairman, thank you again for inviting me to speak today. I welcome your questions.

Since Spy-Plane Downing, Russia Toughens Stance Against israel (apartheid state) in Syria Skies

Since Spy-Plane Downing, Russia Toughens Stance Against Israel in Syria Skies

Since spy-plane downing, Russia toughens stance against Israel in Syria skies

Russia demands Israeli army increase use of ‘hotline’ mechanism to prevent friction ■ S-300 missile defense systems provided to Syria will be manned first by Russian experts ■ Russian air defense radars in Syria were activated over Israeli air force activity

Amos Harel

In recent weeks Russia has been taking a more forceful stance toward Israel concerning Israel Air Force activity in the north.

The Russians are demanding further clarifications from the Israel Defense Forces via the “hotline” that is meant to prevent any aerial clashes between the two parties, and there have been several instances in which Russian air defense radars in Syria were activated in connection with Israel’s air force activity in the north.

Russia’s behavior is being interpreted in Israel as a response to the incident in which a Syrian anti-aircraft missile downed an Ilyushin Russian intelligence-gathering plane on September 17 at the end of an Israeli airstrike near Latakia in northwestern Syria.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said last week that Israel will continue to operate in Syria for the purpose of thwarting Hezbollah’s military buildup.

At the end of last week, the Russian newspaper Izvestia reported that three air defense systems supplied to Syria by Russia in late Septemeber, following the September 17 incident, were of the most advanced model of the S-300 missiles with the highest radar and target-identification capabilities.

صفقة القرن الثانية: ديّة خاشقجي تدفعها السعودية لتركيا وأميركا

أكتوبر 22, 2018

د. عصام نعمان

اعترفت السعودية، بعد مماطلة محسوبة، بالقضاء على جمال خاشقجي غيلةً. كيف؟ خلال «شجارٍ» معه داخل القنصلية السعودية في اسطنبول. لكن القاتل، او القتلة، ظلّوا مجهولين وكذلك كيفية القتل ومصير الجثة!

لم يصدر تعليق رسمي عن أنقرة عقب البيان السعودي السخيف. لكن وسائل إعلامية عدّة ذكّرت العالم بأنّ الملك سلمان اتصل هاتفياً بالرئيس أردوغان قبل ساعاتٍ معدودة من صدور البيان. هل بحثا في صفقةٍ للفلفلة الجريمة المدوّية، وفي ديّة الإعلامي السعودي المغدور؟

لعلّ صفقة القرن الثانية تأكّدت او كادت بمسارعة الرئيس الأميركي الى امتداح «وثوقية» البيان السعودي وتمنّيه على الكونغرس بألاّ يقسو في معاقبة الرياض تفادياً لخسارة صفقة سلاحٍ معها تربو قيمتها على 110 مليارات بلايين دولار.

كم تبلغ قيمة ديّة خاشقجي التي ستتقاسمها تركيا وأميركا؟ من السابق لأوانه تحديد المبلغ الإجمالي لأنّ أبواب التحقيق الجنائي في تركيا لم تُغلق بعد، ولأنّ أبواب المساومة السياسية والمالية لم تغلق أيضاً بين أطراف الصفقة الثلاثية.

أيّاً ما كانت طريقة القضاء على خاشقجي فإنّ لتصفيته الوحشية ذيولاً ومفاعيل سياسية واقتصادية و… وجودية. أبرز المفاعيل السياسية المرجَّحة انشقاقٌ في الأسرة الملكية السعودية. قد ينجح الملك سلمان في احتواء ذيول الجريمة على حساب بضعة مستشارين في ديوانه وضباطٍ وأدواتِ تقتيل وتقطيع أوصالٍ في إدارة استخباراته، وقد لا ينجح فيتعمّق الانشقاق في الأسرة الملكية بعديدها الكثيف وبتاريخ صراعاتها العنيف.

أبرز المفاعيل الاقتصادية تداعي السمعة المالية الشاهقة للمملكة وربما ملاءتها أيضاً. بوادر التداعي ساطعة: غالبيةُ وزراء المال والاقتصاد في دول الغرب الكبرى، المدعوّون إلى المشاركة في مؤتمر «دافوس في الصحراء» المخصّص للبحث في مجالات الاستثمار والتنمية في المملكة، أعلنوا امتناعَهم عن الحضور وكذلك ممثلو وكالات أممية ومصارف وشركات عالمية طامحة إلى تنفيذ مشروعات استثمارية كبرى.

أبرز المفاعيل الوجودية وأخطرها احتمالُ تطوّر ردود الفعل على تقطيع أوصال خاشقجي ـ في حال ثبوته ـ إلى تصدّع كيان المملكة وربما تقطيع أوصالها جغرافياً وسياسياً. متابعو المشهد السعودي عن كثبٍ محيطون بالمخططات والسيناريوات التي طالما ارتسمت عناوينها وتردّدت أصداؤها في أروقة واشنطن السياسية وقاعات مؤسّسات الأبحاث والدراسات الكبرى Think Tanks المعنية بشؤون الشرق الأوسط والقريبة من البيت الأبيض وكبار أعضاء الكونغرس ومسؤولي وزارتي الخارجية والدفاع.

حدّة ردود الفعل على الحدث الجلل في عواصم الغرب الأطلسي توحي بأنّ لها مرامي تتعدّى الانتصار لحقوق الإنسان والحرص على احترام أحكام القانون الدولي. فقد أيقنت عواصم القرار أنه يتعذّر عليها احتواء مفاعيل الجريمة النكراء بوسائل وتخريجات تقليدية، وأنه يقتضي اتخاذ تدابير سياسية غير عادية ذات أبعاد استراتيجية لمواجهة تحدياتٍ قد تنشأ عن استحقاقاتٍ آتية:

أولاً، الانتخابات النصفية الأميركية مطلعَ شهر تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر المقبل وحرص الرئيس ترامب وحزبه الجمهوري على الحؤول دون انعكاس تصفية خاشقجي سلباً على حظوظهما الانتخابية واحتمال تطوّرها لمصلحة الحزب الديمقراطي المعارض المتربّص بترامب والراغب في عزله أو، على الأقل، الحؤول دون انتخابه لولاية ثانية.

ثانياً، حملة العقوبات الأميركية على إيران المقرّر تعزيزها بعقوبات جديدة أشدّ قسوة مطلعَ الشهر المقبل. فإدارة ترامب حريصة على الإستمرار في شنّ حملتها العقابية تلك ويهمّها تالياً عدم إضعاف السعودية لتفادي انعكاسات تصفية خاشقجي على دورها المالي والنفطي في دعمها.

ثالثاً، دور إيران وسائر أطراف محور المقاومة في التصدي لسياسة الولايات المتحدة والكيان الصهيوني في عالم العرب، ولا سيما في سورية والعراق ولبنان وفلسطين المحتلة حيث تدعم واشنطن بعض التنظيمات الإرهابية الناشطة ضدّ قوى المقاومة المساندة لحكومات سورية والعراق ولبنان، الحريصة على وحدة بلادها وعلى مواجهة تحركات «إسرائيل» العدوانية والتوسعية.

رابعاً، دور روسيا في منطقة غرب آسيا، ولا سيما بعد تفاهمها مع إيران بشأن مواجهة التنظيمات الإرهابية والمحافظة على وحدة سورية والعراق، ونزوعها الى توظيف جهود سياسية وتسليحية وازنة في تركيا لحملها على التخلي عن حلف شمال الأطلسي.

خامساً، حرصُ الولايات المتحدة على مواصلة مجابهة روسيا إقليمياً وعالمياً للحدّ من جهودها الرامية الى تقليص وحدانية أميركا القطبية إبتغاء بناء تعدّدية قطبية مفتوحة، كما نزوع ترامب إلى مواصلة الحرب التجارية ضدّ الصين بغية الحدّ من نموّ اقتصادها العملاق وامتداداته في شتى أنحاء العالم، ولا سيما في أفريقيا وأميركا الجنوبية، ناهيك باستكمال متطلبات مشروع طريق الحرير الممتدّة من الصين عبر بلدان شرق آسيا وغربها وصولاً الى أوروبا.

ما يجري حاليّاً بين عواصم القرار المعنية بإحتواء تداعيات تصفية خاشقجي هو هندسة إخراج قانوني وإعلامي يكون مقبولاً من الرأي العام العالمي، والتوافق على تسوية سياسية وعملانية ضمنية بين الأطراف المعنيين تكفل حصول أقويائهم على المكاسب المالية الوازنة، وتعزيز مصالحهم الإقتصادية، وتحصين مواقعهم الأمنية في السعودية خصوصاً والمنطقة العربية عموماً.

لئن كانت الولايات المتحدة وربيبتها «إسرائيل» وسائر حلفائها من العرب المحافظين هم الفريق الأكثر تضرّراً من جريمة تصفية خاشقجي وملابساتها وتداعياتها، فإنّ أطراف محور المقاومة والممانعة هم المستفيدون من الحدث الجلل بمقادير متفاوتة. على انّ إفادتهم تلك تبقى مهدّدة بما تدّخره الولايات المتحدة و»إسرائيل» من تحركات، وحتى هجومات، ضدّ إيران وسائر أطراف محور المقاومة والممانعة لمنعها من الكسب والاستقواء على الخصوم والأعداء الإقليميين.

العيون شاخصة حالياً نحو السعودية، تترقب بقلقٍ وشغفٍ في آن معاً ما يمكن أن تتكشف عنه تداعيات الحدث الجلل داخلها. ذلك انّ ما جرى ويجري وسيجري في السعودية سيكون ترجمةً لمواقف اللاعبين الكبار وإرهاصاً بالمتغيّرات القادمة والمؤثرة في الخريطة السياسية لمعظم بلدان شبه جزيرة العرب.

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موسكو لتل أبيب: قواعد الاشتباك تغيّرت… و«ما كان لن يكون»

يحيى دبوق

هل صدر القرار الروسي بكف يد إسرائيل عن سوريا؟ سؤال بات أكثر حضوراً بعد ثلاثين يوماً بلا هجمات إسرائيلية صاخبة في الساحة السورية، بعدما امتنعت تل أبيب طوعاً و/ أو قسراً في أعقاب إسقاط طائرة «إيل» الروسية، الشهر الماضي.

قبل أيام، ومن على منبر «الكنيست»، أكد رئيس حكومة العدو بنيامين نتنياهو مواصلة إسرائيل «عملها» في سوريا، تماماً كما كانت تعمل في الماضي. وشدّد على أن «العمل» يأتي وفقاً لـ«التنسيق الكامل» مع روسيا، وبلا أي تغييرات. تأكيد نتنياهو، وقبله وزير أمنه أفيغدور ليبرمان، أثار تساؤلات في الداخل الإسرائيلي عن الهدف من تصريحات كهذه، في ظل انتفاء معطيات ميدانية دالة عليها. أمس، أكدت صحيفة «يديعوت أحرونوت» في ملحقها الأسبوعي، أن تصريحات نتنياهو «غير دقيقة». وأكدت أيضاً أن الحقيقة في مكان آخر مغاير لما ورد على لسان رئيس الحكومة، الذي يجب عليه أن «يقلق من الآتي، وأن يطلع الإسرائيليين على الحقائق كما هي دون مواربة»، تماماً كما ترد من الجانب الروسي.

وكشفت الصحيفة أن موسكو أبلغت تل أبيب، هذا الأسبوع وبأسلوب فظ جداً، أن قواعد الاشتباك باتت مغايرة في سوريا، وأن «ما كان لن يكون». ولفتت إلى أنها لن تسمح لإسرائيل بالمراوغة والعبث معها. الكشف، كما يرد، يعدّ في ذاته معطى يؤشر إلى مرحلة جديدة من قواعد الاشتباك في سوريا، ويبتيّن من إشاراتها أنها ستكون مغايرة من جهة إسرائيل تماماً لما سبق، وتستلزم منها أحد خيارين: إما الانصياع إلى القواعد الجديدة التي ترد إشاراتها من جانب روسيا، وإما المجازفة في ما لا تريده ولا تقوى عليه.

الموقف الروسي القاضي بتغيير «قواعد الاشتباك» في سوريا مبني في الأساس على ضرورة الحؤول دون أي خطأ يؤثر سلباً على الوحدات الروسية المنتشرة ميدانياً في سوريا، جنباً إلى جنب الجيش السوري وحلفائه، حيث الاستهداف الإسرائيلي. أي حادثة جديدة تطاول الوحدات الروسية، وإن نتيجة خطأ، ستكون ذات مفاعيل كارثية على القيادة الروسية، مع تبعات سلبية جداً تجاه مكانة روسيا وحضورها في سوريا والمنطقة.

في تقرير «يديعوت أحرونوت» إشارة إلى هدف روسي بمستويات استراتيجية من وراء كف اليد الإسرائيلية: «تهدف روسيا إلى إخراج القوات الأميركية من سوريا. إخراج سلاح الجو الإسرائيلي من الميدان ومنعه من العمل في سوريا، يعد مقدمة في سياق تحقيق هذا الهدف». وكانت إسرائيل قد أقرت عبر أحد وزرائها البارزين تقلص نافذة الفرص بعد حادثة الطائرة الروسية الشهر الماضي، في منع ما قال إنه «التمركز الإيراني» في سوريا. كلام الوزير إشارة إقرار، سبقت معطى «يديعوت أحرونوت» حول القرار الروسي، وهو يرجح فرضية وصول المفاوضات بين الجانبين إلى نقطة إشكالية، بلا اتفاق حولها. العضو الوزاري المصغر، وزير الداخلية ارييه درعي، قال في مقابلة بثت قبل يومين مع «إذاعة الجيش»: «التهديد الحقيقي الذي يواجه إسرائيل هو في الشمال، وتحديداً في سوريا. لدينا نافذة فرص باتت محدودة، ويوجد خطر كبير في أن تنجح إيران في التمركز في سوريا. نحن نواجه بصعوبة تطورات ما بعد حادثة إسقاط الطائرة الروسية، ولهذا السبب ننتظر ما سيحدث جراء العقوبات على إيران والتطورات بنتيجتها، سواء في إيران نفسها، أو في الساحة الشمالية».
في ذلك، تجدر الإشارة إلى الآتي:

ــــ من المنطقي أن يستتبع القرار الروسي خضوع إسرائيلي وامتناع عن شن هجمات. هذه النتيجة منطقية جداً ربطاً بقدرات الجانبين وإمكاناتهما. إلا أن هذا الخضوع غير مطلق مع بقاء هامش تحرك ميداني لدى إسرائيل حتى مع تقلصه قياساً بما مضى. لا يبعد أن ترى تل أبيب أن بإمكانها استخدام هذا الهامش، وتفعيله إلى أقصاه في وجه أعدائها، بصرف النظر عن النتيجة الفعلية الممكن تحقيقها.
من ناحية مادية بحتة، قد يكون لإسرائيل القدرة العسكرية على فعل شيء ما، مع أو من دون سلاح الجو الذي يتبيّن من تقرير «يديعوت أحرونوت» أنه محور القرار الروسي. فالقرار كما يرد، لا يلغي إمكان وقوع القيادة الإسرائيلية في تقديرات خاطئة، تستتبعه محاولة استكشاف حدود هامش المناورة المسموح به في سوريا، عبر خطف ضربة أو ضربات. لكن هل تجازف تل أبيب في إثارة الروسي و«فظاظته»؟ سؤال تبقى الإجابة عنه ضمن الإمكان.

ــــ لم يترك الروسي لسطوته وأن تدرك إسرائيل بنفسها حدود القدرة لديها على مواجهة قراراته، بل عزّزها ميدانياً بوسائل فرض ومنع، عبر تزويد الجيش السوري بمنظومات دفاعية (اس ٣٠٠) التي بإمكانها عملياً ردع الاعتداءات ومنعها، إن قررت إسرائيل تجاوز الإرادة الروسية، ودون إمكان تحميل موسكو المسؤولية المباشرة عنها.

ــــ يفترض بروسيا أن تتمسك بقرارها وتحفظه جيداً، وخاصة إن صحت النظرية الإسرائيلية بأن المقصود من قرار المنع وتغيير قواعد الاشتباك، هو الجانب الأميركي. الواضح أن أي تراخ، من شأنه التأثير سلباً على قدرة روسيا في مواجهة الأميركيين وصدهم، ضمن المواجهة الكلية بين الجانبين حول مستقبل سوريا، وتوجّه روسيا إلى تعزيز موقع الدولة السورية فيها مع ترسيخ قيادتها الحالية.

ـــ استراتيجياً، لقرار المنع تداعيات سلبية جداً على قدرة إسرائيل في فرض إرادتها على أعدائها. والواضح أن تل أبيب وكل مقاربتها للساحة السورية أمام منعطف، لا يبعد أن يكون مقدمة لمرحلة جديدة تستدعي منها إعادة موازنة قدراتها الفعلية وإمكان استخدامها في مواجهة أعدائها. وهو ما يصعب عليها، مقارنة بالتهديدات المتشكلة في سوريا ومنها، ما يلزمها في المقابل عدم مغادرة دائرة المواجهة، وإن بأساليب مقلصة أو مغايرة. وعلى هذه الخلفية، لن تسلم إسرائيل وستبحث عن خيارات بديلة مع إدراكها المسبق أنها أقل فاعلية في تحقيق الأهداف. في الوقت نفسه، ستعمل على استغلال هامش المناورة المقلصة التي تركت لها في سوريا، بعد استكشاف حدودها إن قررت المجازفة في إثارة الروسي، وإن كان الإدراك المسبق لديها تواضع تأثيرها.

فرنسا وألمانيا على طريق تركيا


أكتوبر 20, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– عندما بدأ الاهتمام الروسي بانتقال تركيا من ضفة الحرب على سورية إلى ضفة الانخراط السياسي لم يكن الأمر مجرد تمنيات بل ثمرة يقين بالطريق المسدود الذي رسمته روسيا بوجه رهانات تركيا على دورها في الحرب، ورسم فاتورة الكلفة المرتفعة لهذه الرهانات، ووضع معادلة لإدارة العلاقة مع تركيا تقوم على ثنائية الشدّ والجذب، ورفع سقف التحدي مقابل فتح أبواب الاحتواء. وقبل عامين كانت معركة حلب هي المحطة الفاصلة لتبدأ تركيا مسيرة متعرّجة من التفاعل مع الخطة الروسية وصولاً للحظة الحاسمة في الخيارات التركية بصدد إدلب، والتموضع تحت سقف الرؤية الروسية.

– اكتمال مسار أستانة الذي كان عنوانه إحاطة تركيا بسوار روسي إيراني عسكري ضاغط وسياسي اقتصادي جاذب، يجد تتويجه اليوم وبعد عامين من الجهد على المسار التركي، ويتحوّل عنوان أستانة إلى الصيغة التي تتقدم الجهود السياسية للمسار الذي فشل في جنيف، وتلعب تركيا الآن دوراً مماثلاً للذي لبعته إيران بمساندة روسيا في جذب تركيا، فتقف إلى جانب روسيا لجذب أوروبا ممثلة بقوتيها الرئيسيتين الفرنسية والألمانية إلى مسار إسطمبول، حيث ثلاثية عودة النازحين وإعادة الإعمار والمسار السياسي.

– منذ زمن وروسيا تنظر بعين الاهتمام لتفكيك الجبهة التي أقامتها واشنطن للحرب على سورية، والدور المحوري لتركيا في هذه الحرب كان سبب التركيز على البداية من تركيا بقوة فهم روسي للجغرافيا السياسية التي تحيط بتركيا وتشكل فيها روسيا وإيران عوامل وازنة في الاقتصاد والأمن، وبالمثل كانت روسيا تهتم للحظة مناسبة تتيح جذب فرنسا وألمانيا بقوة العناصر ذاتها، الاقتصاد والأمن، من بوابة النازحين وإعادة الإعمار، وتستعين بتركيا الشريك المعني بالعنوانين، مستقوية بالخبرة الأوروبية المتراكمة من تجربة الأسلوب الأميركي في إدارة ملفات المنطقة من دون إقامة حساب للمصالح الأوروبية. وأمام أعين أوروبا مثالان فاضحان، واحد في التعامل مع القضية الفلسطينية بصورة تهدد بتفجير المنطقة وضخّ ملايين المهجّرين إلى اوروبا، والثاني في التعامل مع الملف النووي الإيراني بما يهدّد بنقل إيران إلى ضفة التصعيد الذي ستكون أوروبا في واجهته، لتلتقط روسيا التمايز الأوروبي وتستثمر عليه توظيفاً راهناً تستطيع أوروبا التأثير فيه والدفع باتجاه تغيير التموضع الأميركي الذي فقد أوراق الرهان على التصعيد والعنوان هو سورية بينما لا تملك أوروبا القدرة على تغيير وجهة العنوانين الفلسطيني والنووي قبل أن تغير واشنطن وجهتها.

– المشاركة الفرنسية الألمانية في قمة إسطمبول حول سورية، تنقل تركيا من موقع تفادي خطر سداد فواتير التموضع على ضفة الحرب، إلى موقع التطلع لتحقيق مكاسب لعب درو محوري في العملية السياسية وفي ورشتين كبيرتين هما، ورشة عودة النازحين وورشة إعادة الإعمار، من بوابة الدور الأوروبي الذي تسعى موسكو لاستقطابه إلى مسار إنهاء الحرب في سورية، وتطلق معه مساراً شبيهاً بمسار أستانة القائم على ثنائية الشد والجذب، التي استهلكت سنتين مع تركيا حتى بدأت تستقيم وجهتها منذ اتفاق إدلب، وهذا يعني أن لا توقعات بسقوف عالية لمؤتمر اسطمبول، بل افتتاح مسار يكمل مسار أستانة وبالإيقاع ذاته، لكن بالثبات والوضوح ذاتهما، في لحظة تسليم أميركية بالعجز عن تغيير اتجاه الأوضاع في سورية، والحاجة للبحث عن بدائل في السياسة يذهب مستشار الأمن القومي الأميركي جون بولتون إلى موسكو لفتح باب البحث حولها، حيث يمكن أن يتلقى دعوة حكومة بلاده للمشاركة كمراقب في مسار إسطمبول، بمثلما كان الحال مع أستانة.

– موسكو تبني أهراماتها الاستراتيجية حجراً فوق حجر.

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