Putin’s Self-Defense Warning Twisted as ‘Unacceptable Threat’ to US

Putin’s Self-Defense Warning Twisted as ‘Unacceptable Threat’ to US

Putin’s Self-Defense Warning Twisted as ‘Unacceptable Threat’ to US

With stupendous double-think, Western news media claimed this week that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “threatening” the United States and its NATO allies with nuclear missiles.

The New York Times accused the Russian leader of “nuclear saber-rattling” while Radio Free Europe headlined: ‘Putin threatens to target the US with missiles’. Many other news outlets conveyed the same depiction of Russia somehow escalating bellicose tensions, based on Putin’s annual state-of-the-nation address this week.

Buried beneath the sensational headlines was a little more context that hints at the gross distortion being propagated by the Western media.

The New York Times disdained Putin was speaking with an “aggressive tone” and “doubling down on threats against the United States”.

The Times then went on to report: “President Vladimir Putin used his state-of-the-nation address to make some of his most explicit threats yet to start a nuclear arms race with the US after [sic] the Trump administration said this month that America was withdrawing from a landmark arms control treaty.”

Obliquely, but crucially, what the Western media coyly admit is that Putin’s remarks this week on deploying new missiles systems are in response to Washington’s decision to unilaterally abandon the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

In other words, decisions have consequences. But for the Western media, they seem to be only preoccupied by consequences.

Furthermore, the Washington Post added somewhere lurking in the bowels of its coverage: “Putin emphasized that Russia will only respond if the United States makes the first move.”

That is, if the US instals short- and medium-range missiles in Europe then Russia will take symmetrical measures to target America territory and that of its NATO allies.

Radio Free Europe even breezily reported Putin as saying, “we don’t want confrontation” and added: “Putin said Russia wanted friendly relations with the United States and remained open for arms control talks with Washington.”

So, Western media are correctly – albeit coyly – noting that the Russian leader is acting in response to actions taken by Washington, and that he is explicitly appealing for friendly relations instead of confrontation. And yet the headlines were all screaming that Putin was “threatening the US”.

This willful distortion is reprehensibly adding to already dangerous international tensions. It is also a baleful failure to accurately determine which party is actually responsible for the brooding confrontational climate. Russia is being blamed for “threatening” the US and its allies when the reality is the reverse: it is the US that is unleashing the dangers of nuclear conflict, as even the Western media obliquely admit.

The Trump administration’s decision to walk away – unilaterally – from the 1987 INF Treaty is the key here. The US side claims that Russia has violated the treaty with its development of a land-launched cruise missile within the banned range of 500-5,500 kilometers. Moscow counters that the 9M729 (also known as SSC-8) missile has an operating range below the lower limit banned by the INF. Last month, in an unprecedented move, the Russian ministry of defense publicly disclosed the missile’s flight specifications at a press conference. Moscow points out that the US has not provided substantiating details to back up its claims that Russia is in breach of the treaty.

For its part, Russia accuses the US side of violating the INF treaty by already installing missile systems in Romania and Poland which can deploy offensive cruise warheads as well as performing as anti-missile systems. The US says its Aegis Ashore system is solely defensive.

However, rather than negotiating through the claims and counter-claims, it is the US side which decided to terminate its participation in the INF Treaty – just like it did with the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty back in 2002 under President GW Bush.

The abandonment of a second major arms control accord is solely the responsibility of the US. The third remaining treaty, New START, is also at risk from redundancy by Washington.

With the INF now being trashed, the US has freed itself to potentially deploy additional missile systems in Europe right on Russia’s borders. The eastward expansion of NATO over the past three decades means that US nuclear weapons could be deployed with a strike capability on Moscow within 10-12 minutes, not hours as with strategic warheads.

President Putin this week noted that Washington has not indicated if it will refrain from installing medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe.

But the Russian leader emphatically specified the condition that “if” the US does embark on such a threatening deployment then Russia will take “symmetrical measures”. He warned that new hypersonic and submarine-launched missiles will be deployed to match the 10-12 minute flight time that the US could poise against Moscow. The Russian weapons will target European launch sites for the US missiles as well as “decision-making centers” in American territory.

Of course, such a dramatic proximity of nuclear capability is extremely alarming and deplorable. The risk of error is manifold greater in such a scenario in a way that far exceeds the Cold War decades. Putin noted that the scenario recalls the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 when the world almost witnessed a nuclear war. The reference point is apt for today’s predicament. The Soviet Union deployed nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962 after the US installed ballistic missiles in Turkey the year before in 1961. Again, as now, it is the US side that is initiating the dynamics of provocation.

Any objective observer can see that it is the US that is continually upping the ante for nuclear war. The jettisoning of the ABM is now followed by the US discarding the INF based on dubious, unverified claims. Russia in fact views the ulterior rationale of the US as covertly wanting to free itself from the arms controls restriction in order to exert threatening pressure on Moscow for geopolitical goals: those goals may include forcing Russia to be compliant with American foreign policy interests, or opening up Russia’s natural resources to American capital exploitation, and so on.

Putin’s remarks this week are clearly consistent with Russia’s defensive doctrine for using nuclear forces. Moscow is patently stating that it will take “reciprocal steps” if Washington follows through on its offensive trajectory. Yet Western media invert the situation to portray Russia as “threatening” the US.

This is analogous to a gang marauding outside a home. Then the mob ringleader announces that projectiles are to be readied to lob over the garden wall. The homeowner shouts out: just try it and we’ll shoot your henchmen. Nobody in their right mind could fault the homeowner. It’s called self-defense.

But in Russia’s case, self-defense is twisted by dutiful, brainwashed Western news media as “unacceptable threat”.

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القرار الأميركي ببقاء 200 جندي… لماذا؟

القرار الأميركي ببقاء 200 جندي… لماذا؟

فبراير 23, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– خلال سنة لم يعّد الأميركيون يتحدثون عن دور لقواتهم في سورية، ولم يعُد يسمع لهم حديث عن شروط وتهديدات وخطوط حمراء، ونجح الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب بالتهرب من المحاسبة عن الفشل في رسم خطوط حمراء ادعى أن سلفه باراك أوباما كان عاجزاً عن فرضها، وبالتغطية على متابعته التلاعب بقضية وجود داعش التي كشف أن الرئيس أوباما هو مَن فبركها مع وزيرة خارجيته هيلاري كلينتون. وصارت القضية الموضوعة في التداول هي قرار ترامب بالانسحاب من سورية، وصار السؤال، هل ينسحب أم لا ينسحب؟ ومتى ينسحب؟ وماذا سيحدث بعد أن ينسحب؟

– يعرف صناع القرار الأميركي أن السذج وحدهم يفسرون قرار الانسحاب بالبروباغندا أو بالارتجال، وهو يأتي منسجماً مع مناخ تراجع عام في القدرة الأميركية على رسم السياسة في آسيا، ونيات بتخفيف الحضور العسكري والتورّط في المواجهات على مساحة ساحات الحرب، من سورية إلى أفغانستان واليمن، ويعرفون أن قرار الانسحاب من سورية كما الانسحاب من أفغانستان كما وقف الحرب في اليمن، رسمت كمسارات يجب توظيف تطبيقها بما يتيح إرباك الساحات والخصوم، واستدراج التفاوض.

– يهتم الأميركيون بإثبات أن انسحابهم سيسبّب إرباكاً وفوضى، وأن لا بديل متفق عليه يخلفهم، وأن تنسيق الانسحاب بات ضرورة يطلبها الجميع منهم، ليفاوضوا على ثمن التنسيق، طالما أنهم فشلوا في استدراج التفاوض على ثمن الانسحاب، بعدما حددوا السعر بمقايضته بالانسحاب الإيراني. والأميركي عموماً كتاجر والرئيس الأميركي خصوصاً كتاجر، جاهزان للبيع والشراء، لكنهما يكتشفان أنهما جاهزان للبيع لكن ليس هناك مَن يشتري. فبعد الإعلان عن انسحاب سريع لم تأت دعوات التأجيل إلا من «إسرائيل» وداعميها في الكونغرس، لكن من يريدهم الأميركي للتفاوض رحبوا بالقرار وشككوا في صدقيته، وهذا ما قاله الروس والإيرانيون والسوريون، بينما تسابقت القيادات التركية والكردية على البحث عن صيغ ما بعد الانسحاب ودورها فيها، وليس هذا ما يهم الأميركي، بل استعداد روسيا وإيران وسورية للتفاوض، ولما لم يصل إليه الصدى بوجود أي استعداد، تحدث عن بقاء مئتي جندي أملاً بأن يسمع هذا الصدى.

– الأميركي جاهز ليقبض ثمن التنسيق في غير سورية، هذه المرّة وهو يتحدث عن أفغانستان ويضع ورقة البقاء المؤقت والجزئي على الطاولة، لكنه لا يسمع الصدى. وهو يدرك أن ما لم تنجح بفعله وحدات بالآلاف لن تنجح فيه بالتأكيد وحدة رمزية من المئات، بل ستكون كلفتها البحث سياسياً عن حماية عليه أن يسدد ثمنها لمن يملكون القدرة على تهديد أمنها، كما كان الحال في العراق، وكما سيعود، ولذلك سيبقى الأميركي يحدّث نفسه، فيقول مرة إنه منسحب كلياً وفوراً، ولا يسمع صدى، ممن ينتظر سماعهم، فيقول إنه غير مستعجل، فلا يسمع الصدى، فيقول إنه لن ينسحب لأن الحرب مع داعش لم تنته، فلا يسمع الصدى، فيغيّر ويقول إن الحرب انتهت فلا يسمع، فيقول إنه سينسحب بالتدريج فلا يسمع، فيقول إنه يطلق اليد التركية فلا يسمع، فيقول إنه يهدّد الأكراد إذا تعاونوا مع الدولة السورية فلا يسمع شيئاً، وها هو اليوم يقول إنه سيبقي مئتي جندي ويحتفظ بوجود عسكري في التنف كي يسمع.. ولن يسمع.

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Who Gains from Turning Europe into a Potential Nuclear Battlefield?

Who Gains from Turning Europe into a Potential Nuclear Battlefield?

ALC462222

The United States and its NATO partners are attempting to make the case for Washington’s decision to abandon the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Claims that the Russian Federation has been violating the treaty have yet to be substantiated with anything resembling credible evidence. Also missing is any rational explanation as to why Russia would develop or deploy nuclear weapons capable of launching a nuclear strike on Europe without warning – a scenario the INF Treaty was created to deter.

Bloomberg in its article, “Nuclear Fears Haunt Leaders With U.S.-Russian Arms Pact’s Demise,” would claim:

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s top civilian, cited recent Russian deployments and evoked a Cold War-style threat of nuclear destruction at a global conference of security and defense officials this weekend in Munich, the baroque German metropolis that’s one of Europe’s richest cities.

“These missiles are mobile, easy to hide and nuclear-capable,” Stoltenberg said. “They can reach European cities, like Munich, with little warning.”

Stoltenberg, the rest of NATO, Washington, and the many media organizations that work for and answer to both have failed categorically to explain why Russia would ever use nuclear-capable missiles against cities “like Munich, with little warning.”

Would Moscow Nuke Russia’s Closest Trade Partners? 

While Russia has invested greatly in recent years to expand its economic trade with Asia, it is still heavily dependent on trade with Europe.

The Harvard Atlas of Economic Complexity reveals not only Europe as the most important region for Russian trade, particularly for Russian exports, but nations like the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy as among Russia’s top trade partners.

Russia is currently working with Germany on its Nord Stream 2 pipeline – a pipeline transporting Russian hydrocarbons to Western Europe without passing through politically unstable nations like Ukraine. The project is a keystone of recent Russian efforts to modernize and adapt its hydrocarbon industry around complications arising from US interference across Europe – particularly in the form of the US-engineered 2014 coup in Ukraine and NATO’s constant US-led expansion along Russian borders.

And Russian companies aren’t the only ones benefiting from Nord Stream 2 or other economic ties between Russia and Europe. Russia imports more from Germany than any other European nation, and Germany is only second to China among all nations Russia imports goods from.

It is highly unlikely Russia is going to launch nuclear missiles at “Munich, with little warning” – because to do so would be entirely without rational justification. Characters like Stoltenberg and the rest of NATO gloss over this obvious gap in their narrative to sell Russia as an unpredictable adversary and an enduring threat to Western Europe, as well as the United States. But by filling in this obvious gap in NATO’s logic, we can see who really benefits from turning Europe into a potential nuclear battlefield by stationing short-range nuclear weapons across the region.

Nuclear Battlefield Europe

It is Washington, not Germany nor Russia that opposes the Nord Stream 2 project. It is Washington who seeks to drive a wedge between Western European and Russian economic trade. It is Washington who seeks to galvanize – or coerce – Europe into a united front against Russia – even if it means compromising regional stability – both in terms of economics and security.

Washington – by withdrawing from the INF Treaty – doesn’t jeopardize the security of its own territory – but opens up a new dimension to an already ongoing nuclear arms race in the heart of Western Europe. It will be Western Europeans and Russians who face the consequences that emerge from the abandoning of the INF Treaty and any unpredictable – or even accidental – incidents that result from the stationing of short-range nuclear weapons across the region.

As pointed out many times before – NATO itself more than any external threat – represents the greatest danger to its member states in terms of pilfering national treasuries, miring nations in protracted wars and occupations thousands of miles from their own shores, and exposing member nations to the consequences of these wars including the deluge of refugees fleeing to Europe from them.

The US – by causing chaos and division both within Europe and between Europe and its trade partners – is able to continue exercising control over the continent – literally an ocean away from Washington DC.

The withdrawal from the INF Treaty and the dangerous arms race sure to follow is another example of the US playing the roles of arsonist and fire brigade as a means to maintain the relevance of the international order it constructed over the last century – an order the US serves as the self-appointed leader of.

In terms of simple economics and genuine European security – the United States could not be more irrelevant.

While Germany maintains the United States as its top export destination – the overall European and Asian regions by far contribute more to the German economy. Any instability or crisis in Europe would have an impact on the German economy its trade with the US would in no way compensate for. In terms of imports, the role of the US is even less.

While European trade with Russia is relatively small in comparison to inter-European trade, or with partners in Asia or even the US – Russian hydrocarbons serve an important role in European energy security. And while the cutting of ties between Europe and Russia would certainly hurt Russia more – the chaos used to cut those ties may disrupt stability within Europe itself – chaos that would impact inter-European trade – trade that ties with the US or Asia would not compensate for.

Washington plays a dangerous game, with short-range nuclear missiles being the latest point of leverage it seeks to use in prying Europe away from Russia. It is another illustration of just which nation’s government truly poses the greater threat not only to Europe, but to global peace, security and stability in general.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

Russia to Press for Putting “White Helmets” on Trial for Crimes in Syria

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yria

By South Front,

Statement of Russian Foreign Ministry

Russia will press for putting the White Helmets on trial for crimes committed in Syria, including faked videos of chemical attacks, the director of the Foreign Ministry’s department of new challenges and threats, Ilya Rogachyov, told TASS in an interview on February 20.

“The leading Western countries have failed to place the struggle against terrorism above their own time-serving political interests. In the sphere of international counter-terrorist cooperation various selective approaches thrive. Terrorists are rated as ‘bad’ and ‘not very bad’. Countries are being forced to agree with the concept of ‘resistance to violent extremism’ and its dangerous elements that create situations for ousting ‘disfavored’ governments,” Rogachyov said. “The Western sponsors are keen to present the contractors on their payroll in a favorable light as ‘envoys of peace’ in order to use this as a cover to push ahead with political destabilization scenarios.”

“We are determined to push ahead with and safeguard Russia’s foreign policy positions in order to ensure the White Helmets’ crimes in Syria and their attempts to mislead the international community by means of fake chemical weapons attacks attributed to the Syrian government forces, just as any other terrorist activity, should be thoroughly investigated and put on trial,” Rogachyov said.

Featured image is from PravdaReport

Excerpt from the Presidential Address to Federal Assembly

Excerpt from the Presidential Address to Federal Assembly

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The President of Russia delivered the Address to the Federal Assembly. The ceremony took place in Gostiny Dvor.

February 20, 2019

The unilateral withdrawal of the USA from the INF Treaty is the most urgent and most discussed issue in Russian-American relations. This is why I am compelled to talk about it in more detail. Indeed, serious changes have taken place in the world since the Treaty was signed in 1987. Many countries have developed and continue to develop these weapons, but not Russia or the USA – we have limited ourselves in this respect, of our own free will. Understandably, this state of affairs raises questions. Our American partners should have just said so honestly rather than make far-fetched accusations against Russia to justify their unilateral withdrawal from the Treaty.

It would have been better if they had done what they did in 2002 when they walked away from the ABM Treaty and did so openly and honestly. Whether that was good or bad is another matter. I think it was bad, but they did it and that is that. They should have done the same thing this time, too. What are they doing in reality? First, they violate everything, then they look for excuses and appoint a guilty party. But they are also mobilising their satellites that are cautious but still make noises in support of the USA. At first, the Americans began developing and using medium-range missiles, calling them discretionary “target missiles” for missile defence. Then they began deploying Mk-41 universal launch systems that can make offensive combat use of Tomahawk medium-range cruise missiles possible.

I am talking about this and using my time and yours because we have to respond to the accusations that are leveled at us. But having done everything I have just described, the Americans openly and blatantly ignored the provisions envisaged by articles 4 and 6 of the INF Treaty. According to Item 1, Article VI (I am quoting): “Each Party shall eliminate all intermediate-range missiles and the launchers of such missiles… so that… no such missiles, launchers… shall be possessed by either party.” Paragraph 1 of Article VI provides that (and I quote) “upon entry into force of the Treaty and thereafter, neither Party may produce or flight-test any intermediate-range missile, or produce any stages or launchers of such missiles.” End of quote.

Using medium-range target missiles and deploying launchers in Romania and Poland that are fit for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, the US has openly violated these clauses of the Treaty. They did this some time ago. These launchers are already stationed in Romania and nothing happens. It seems that nothing is happening. This is even strange. This is not at all strange for us, but people should be able to see and understand it.

How are we evaluating the situation in this context? I have already said this and I want to repeat: Russia does not intend – this is very important, I am repeating this on purpose – Russia does not intend to deploy such missiles in Europe first. If they really are built and delivered to the European continent, and the United States has plans for this, at least we have not heard otherwise, it will dramatically exacerbate the international security situation, and create a serious threat to Russia, because some of these missiles can reach Moscow in just 10–12 minutes. This is a very serious threat to us. In this case, we will be forced, I would like to emphasise this, we will be forced to respond with mirror or asymmetric actions. What does this mean?

I am saying this directly and openly now, so that no one can blame us later, so that it will be clear to everyone in advance what is being said here. Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapons that can be used not only in the areas we are directly threatened from, but also in areas that contain decision-making centres for the missile systems threatening us.

What is important in this regard? There is some new information. These weapons will fully correspond to the threats directed against Russia in their technical specifications, including flight times to these decision-making centres.

We know how to do this and will implement these plans immediately, as soon as the threats to us become real. I do not think we need any further, irresponsible exacerbation of the current international situation. We do not want this.

What would I like to add? Our American colleagues have already tried to gain absolute military superiority with their global missile defence project. They need to stop deluding themselves. Our response will always be efficient and effective.

The work on promising prototypes and weapon systems that I spoke about in my Address last year continues as scheduled and without disruptions. We have launched serial production of the Avangard system, which I have already mentioned today. As planned, this year, the first regiment of the Strategic Missile Troops will be equipped with Avangard. The Sarmat super-heavy intercontinental missile of unprecedented power is undergoing a series of tests. The Peresvet laser weapon and the aviation systems equipped with Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missiles proved their unique characteristics during test and combat alert missions while the personnel learned how to operate them. Next December, all the Peresvet missiles supplied to the Armed Forces will be put on standby alert. We will continue expanding the infrastructure for the MiG-31 interceptors carrying Kinzhal missiles. The Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile of unlimited range and the Poseidon nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle of unlimited range are successfully undergoing tests.

In this context, I would like to make an important statement. We did not announce it before, but today we can say that as soon as this spring the first nuclear-powered submarine carrying this unmanned vehicle will be launched. The work is going as planned.

Today I also think I can officially inform you about another promising innovation. As you may remember, last time I said we had more to show but it was a little early for that. So I will reveal little by little what else we have up our sleeves. Another promising innovation, which is successfully being developed according to plan, is Tsirkon, a hypersonic missile that can reach speeds of approximately Mach 9 and strike a target more than 1,000 km away both under water and on the ground. It can be launched from water, from surface vessels and from submarines, including those that were developed and built for carrying Kalibr high-precision missiles, which means it comes at no additional cost for us.

On a related note, I want to highlight that for the defence of Russia’s national interests, two or three years ahead of the schedule set by the state arms programme, the Russian Navy will receive seven new multipurpose submarines, and construction will begin on five surface vessels designed for the open ocean. Sixteen more vessels of this class will enter service in the Russian Navy by 2027.

To conclude, on the unilateral withdrawal by the USA from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, here is what I would like to say. The US policy toward Russia in recent years can hardly be called friendly. Russia’s legitimate interests are being ignored, there is constant anti-Russia campaigning, and more and more sanctions, which are illegal in terms of international law, are imposed without any reason whatsoever. Let me emphasise that we did nothing to provoke these sanctions. The international security architecture that took shape over the past decades is being completely and unilaterally dismantled, all while referring to Russia as almost the main threat to the USA.

Let me say outright that this is not true. Russia wants to have sound, equal and friendly relations with the USA. Russia is not threatening anyone, and all we do in terms of security is simply a response, which means that our actions are defensive. We are not interested in confrontation and we do not want it, especially with a global power like the United States of America. However, it seems that our partners fail to notice the depth and pace of change around the world and where it is headed. They continue with their destructive and clearly misguided policy. This hardly meets the interests of the USA itself. But this is not for us to decide.

We can see that we are dealing with proactive and talented people, but within the elite, there are also many people who have excessive faith in their exceptionalism and supremacy over the rest of the world. Of course, it is their right to think what they want. But can they count? Probably they can. So let them calculate the range and speed of our future arms systems. This is all we are asking: just do the maths first and take decisions that create additional serious threats to our country afterwards. It goes without saying that these decisions will prompt Russia to respond in order to ensure its security in a reliable and unconditional manner.

I have already said this, and I will repeat that we are ready to engage in disarmament talks, but we will not knock on a locked door anymore. We will wait until our partners are ready and become aware of the need for dialogue on this matter.

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Balkan Report: The Macedonian Powder Keg Set To Go Off

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by Stephen Karganovic for The Saker Blog

The way things are shaping up down south (viewed from Belgrade) the tiny, helpless, beleaguered new Balkan state of Macedonia could be the trigger for a wider regional conflict. It is well to remember the adage of veteran politician Franklin Delano Roosevelt, especially in the present context: If it turned out a certain way, it is probably because that is the way it was planned.

If the stage is indeed being set for a new Balkan conflagration, many signs suggest that Macedonia has been assigned a key role in the process leading up to it. Slightly under two years ago, Guaido’s Balkan precursor, Zoran Zaev, was promoted by non-Macedonian interests to unconstitutionally replace the less compliant but democratically elected long-time stooge Nikola Gruevski as prime minister. Procedural niceties were brutally cast aside when Macedonia’s Western masters concluded that Gruevski was getting too many independent policy ideas and that letting him remain in office was therefore risky. In a ruthless, Kiev 2014-style coup, coordinated from the embassies of all the usual suspects, Gruevski was unceremoniously ousted. (By a remarkable coincidence, ambassador Jeffrey Pyatt, of Kiev fame, is now accredited to the neighboring Greek government and undoubtedly supervises these affairs from his Athens command post.) Usurper Zaev was promptly installed, though lacking the required parliamentary majority and in disregard of president Djordje Ivanov’s strong initial refusal to officially appoint him. But that did not matter in Armenia, why should it now in Macedonia?

The masters’ game plan was soon revealed. One objective was to make sure that the Russian pipeline’s passage through strategically located Macedonia would be permanently blocked with the cooperation of a reliable lackey. The other items on the agenda consisted of (1) rearranging the internal political balance of power to overtly favor the aggressive and Western-supported Albanian minority, laying the foundations for Macedonia’s violent Yugoslav-style, ethnically driven breakup at some point, and (2) getting Macedonia into NATO and shoring up NATO’s southern front by “settling” the name dispute with Greece, also to be accomplished to Macedonia’s disadvantage.

Zaev’s first order of business was to implement the so-called “Tirana platform,” an agreement he reached with Macedonia’s Albanian minority while still a private citizen. (He is obviously lucky that Macedonia does not have anything like the Logan Act.) Significantly, the agreement involving the de facto federalization of the tiny country and the granting of extensive privileges to a foreign-backed minority within it, was negotiated by Zaev in the Albanian capital of Tirana. No one seems to be quite sure how many ethnic Albanians there exactly are in Macedonia, any more than it is known for certain how many of them reside in neighboring Kosovo. They are alleged to constitute a respectable 25 to 30 % of Macedonia’s population. But questioning that allegation or subjecting it to empirical verification is actively discouraged. As a result, the western, most densely Albanian- populated portion of Macedonia contiguous with Albania itself has now been turned into a state-within-a-state where native Macedonians enjoy a status similar to that of Indians in the US. The Albanian language has been made official alongside Macedonian and one may assume that smart and farsighted people in Skopje, who get their cues from the embassies that are running the country, are now busy taking Albanian lessons.

Zaev’s second major “achievement” was to negotiate an end to the Macedonian name dispute with his Greek colleague, equally contemptuous of popular sentiment, the perfidious phony socialist Alexis Tsipras. Since Macedonia’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, Greece has strongly objected to the country’s name, asserting that “Macedonia” is a Greek copy-righted geographical and historical concept, that Alexander the Great was Greek not Skopje-Macedonian, and all the rest of it, typical Balkan stuff that most readers would probably find utterly boring. The name dispute, however, got hundreds of thousands of people quite excited and demonstrating vociferously on both sides of the border.

It was important therefore to settle, or to at least paper over this issue to make NATO’s southern flank reasonably united in anticipation of the impending big war in the East. The analogy with the geopolitical situation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1941, when its politicians were cajoled into signing off on the Axis pact, and Macedonia’s today, with its accession to NATO, is striking. And yes, Macedonia was “rewarded” for changing its name not just by being generously accepted into NATO, but also with the privilege of being targeted by Russian missiles should hostilities break out in the future.

NATO flag already adorns government offices of “North Macedonia”

Should anyone be wondering why until just a few days ago Macedonia was known by the clumsy and ridiculous acronym FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) it was because of Greece’s refusal to countenance any other label. The need to form a united front against Russia’s “malign influence” in the Balkans now clearly superseds such puerile nonsense. Orders were issued to both puppets from on high to kiss and make up, which they dutifully did, of course.

Incidentally, Macedonia’s new official name of North Macedonia, which Wikipedia has already hastened to duly acknowledge, is rather underwhelming from the standpoint of idiomatic English. “Northern” would have sounded better, a detail that was not lost on the linguistically savvier Turkish partners when they were setting up their own satellite entity, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, on the part of the island that they occupy.

So, the stage now seems to be set to plunge North Macedonia in a conflict its people clearly do not want, and to demolish it either by igniting ethnic warfare or making it disappear in a nuclear conflagration, whatever happens to suit global decisionmakers the best. I consulted my trusted Macedonian (I will not insult him by adding “North” to his sufficiently humiliated country’s cherished name) friend and local contact, journalist Milenko Nedelkovski, for his assessment of his country’s current situation.

First things first, I asked him about the current status of his widely watched, influential, notoriously patriotic, and therefore obviously politically misaligned television talk show and whether he was getting any heat from the new “democratic and Western-values” oriented authorities.

His response could not have been more dispiriting:

“Both the present-day authorities and the opposition which until two years ago ruled the country are under the command of the US Embassy in Skopje and ambassador Jess Baily. This is our 14th season. Three years ago, the American embassy ordered my show to be taken off the air by all television broadcasters. It was cancelled twice by TV Channel 5 and three times by Channel Alpha. Both broadcasters have a nation-wide frequency. We are being harassed by absolutely everyone. That is why I am posting my program on Facebook and YouTube. There, for the moment, we are not facing any restrictions and the viewing audience now exceeds anything we ever had in the traditional media.”

Considering that in the period preceding the degrading Zaev – Tsipras name change agreement mass demonstrations opposing it were being held throughout Macedonia, I asked Milenko why people seem suddenly to have given up in the face of the quisling fait accompli.

“The people have not suddenly gone quiet. Repression is such that the ordinary citizen is afraid. He is now articulating his anger through the social media and by boycotting presidential elections. At the moment in Macedonia, civil disobedience is the principal tool of resistance. And if by ‘going quiet’ is meant that the people are no longer out in the streets, that is because the opposition VMRO party is also collaborating with the American-Brussels occupiers, so they are not calling on the people to protest.”

Given the dismal conditions Milenko described, I asked him what the chances are for kicking the rascals out in the next elections.

His answer was: “Non-existent. In April we are due to have presidential elections the honesty of which is very dubious. Ballot boxes will be stuffed, there will be coercion… But under no circumstances will there be anything resembling an honest vote. And the result, of course, will be endorsed by the ‘international community’ as a great victory for democracy.”

My Macedonian informant’s answer to the question of what future he sees for Macedonia if the appeasement of the Albanian factor continues was most unsettling. These are his dark visions:

“Not just the future of Macedonia as a unified country, but the future of all of former Yugoslavia will be uncertain. The Albanians will press relentlessly their Greater Albania project. In practice that means the disintegration of Macedonia as we know it, but also the reduction of Serbia to the territory of the Belgrade district (пашалук) during the period of Ottoman rule. Kosovo and the southern areas of Serbia will be detached, and other parts of the country, around Novi Pazar for instance, might also be snatched away from Serbia. Bosnia will not remain in its present shape and within the present borders. Montenegro will also be required to sacrifice territories to the Greater Albania project. Some littoral and even inland areas will no longer form part of Milo Djukanovic’s little kingdom. The redrawing of borders in the Balkans at the expense of the Orthodox nations, including some Greek lands to which the Albanians aspire, is certain to occur. The only hope for us Orthodox is a large-scale international conflict, which might be sparked off by something that happens in Venezuela, the Kerch Strait, Eastern Ukraine, Syria, Kaliningrad, or North Korea, the consequences of which would be so grave as to cause the US to lose interest in interfering in other nations’ affairs. Things will get better for us when they stop supporting unconditionally the Albanian factor in the Balkans and the Albanian mafia world-wide.”

It could, of course, be said that Milenko’s remedy is worse than the disease. But this compelling cri de coeur, by a well informed and intelligent observer from the heart of the Balkan darkness that proud NATO (and who knows, perhaps soon even EU) candidate “North Macedonia” has been turned into, certainly ought not to be ignored.

New Moscow after the Syrian war….and Venezuela موسكو الجديدة بعد حرب سورية… وفنزويلا

New Moscow after the Syrian war….and Venezuela

فبراير 21, 2019

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The American talk about the military intervention in Venezuela becomes obvious, after the failure of the bets on the recognition of the coup and the failure of the bets on separating the army and inciting it to take over power. The assertions of the American thinking of the military involvement have been reported by the journalists who covered the press conference of the US National Adviser John Bolton on Venezuela, they read in Bolton’s papers “five thousands US soldiers from the marines to Colombia” and the words of Republican Congressman Lindsey Graham after discussing the military intervention in Venezuela during his meeting with the President Donald Trump, he indicated that he warned Trump from the threats of that intervention and added that Trump’s zest to intervene is a matter of concern.

Implementing the American intentions is not as easy as their owners think. There is an exhausting distance between these intentions and their turning into practical steps in the light of the indicators shown in the stability of the situation in Venezuela in favor of the President Nicolas Maduro. The public prosecutor confronted the coup perpetrators, and the army has warned them from any tampering in the security, ensuring its support of the legitimacy of Maduro, and that the coup perpetrators themselves will not find the popular support among their bases to protect the military intervention contrary to the support on which they depended in the elections as “promises of well-being and economic solutions”. The external intervention is already hated in Latin America. And the wars mean disasters and devastation. Whenever the American intervention seems an option, the coup perpetrators lose some of their supporters. The Colombians whom the Americans want as a pretext for intervention will not bear the consequences. They expressed their denial of any information about any intervention hoping that that Washington takes into consideration that they do not want to be involved.

It is clear that the size of the resistance which will be generated and the danger of its expansion outside Venezuela after the reviving of the national liberation movement that belongs to the Bolivian roots in Latin America may lead to confrontation that will last for years, and will spread far from Latin America to the United States where there is a split between the white and the Latinos in the light of the racist rhetoric of the President Donald Trump and the spread of the fascist culture with the presence of weapons. The experience of Syria forms a source of inspiration to the Venezuelan leadership and the Venezuelan army. The talk about arming people and launching the resistance has spread after the assumptions of the American intervention.

The most important thing is that the Syrian experience in the war was in very difficult circumstances against wider alliances and bigger capacities, but it achieved a legendary victory that revealed the magnitude of the power of people under a courageous national leadership on one hand, and the size of the fragility reached by the American force on the other hand, but most importantly is that this experience  has mobilized Russia to wage the war and to restore its status as a superpower that is entrusted with the international law. Now it is reaping the outcomes of its international role, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed decisively the Russian position towards the American threat to Venezuela by saying that Moscow will do what it is needed to prevent the danger expressed by the threats of the American military intervention, since it will not take time that it took in Syria.

If the American military adventure occurred, Washington would hasten to end its imperial status.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

موسكو الجديدة بعد حرب سورية… وفنزويلا

يناير 30, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– الكلام الأميركي عن التدخّل العسكري في فنزويلا صار فوق الطاولة، بما يعنيه من فشل الرهانات على الصدمة الأولى للاعتراف بالانقلاب، ومثله فشل الرهانات على شقّ الجيش أو تحريضه على تسلم السلطة، وجاءت التأكيدات على مؤشرات التفكير الأميركي بالتورط العسكري عبر ما نقله الصحافيون الذين قاموا بتغطية المؤتمر الصحافي لمستشار الأمن القومي الأميركي جون بولتون حول فنزويلا، وقرأوا في أوراق بولتون الموضوعة على الطاولة عبارة، خمسة آلاف جندي أميركي من المارينز إلى كولومبيا، وجاء كلام عضو الكونغرس الجمهوري ليندسي غراهام عن مناقشة التدخل العسكري في فنزويلا في جلسة جمعته بالرئيس دونالد ترامب، مشيراً إلى تحذيره لترامب من مخاطر هذا التدخل، ومضيفاً أن حماسة ترامب للتدخل تثير القلق، بحيث لم يعد من داعٍ للتساؤل حول طبيعة النيات الأميركية.

– ترجمة النيات الأميركية ليست بالسهولة التي يظنها اصحابها، فبين النيات وتحولها قراراً وخطوات عملية مسافة لا يبدو قطعها سهلاً، في ظل المؤشرات التي حملها ثبات الوضع في فنزويلا لصالح الرئيس نيكولاس مادورو، فتحركت النيابة العامة بوجه الانقلابيين، وحذرهم الجيش من أي عبث بالأمن مؤكداً وقوفه مع الشرعية التي يمثلها مادورو. والانقلابيون أنفسهم لن يجدوا التأييد الشعبي بين قواعدهم لحماية التدخل العسكري، بخلاف التأييد الذي استندوا إليه في الانتخابات بوعود الرفاه والحلول الاقتصادية. فالتدخل الخارجي مكروه أصلاً في كل اميركا اللاتينية، والأميركي الأبيض يحرّك ذاكرة سوداء مقيتة، والحروب بطبيعتها تعني الكوارث والخراب، وكلما بدا التدخل الأميركي خياراً فقد الانقلابيون شارعاً من شوارع مؤيديهم. والكولومبيون الذين يريدهم الأميركيون منصة للتدخل لن يتشجعوا لتحمّل التبعات وقد عبّروا عن إنكارهم أيّ معلومات عن تدخل أملاً بأن يصل صوتهم إلى واشنطن لعدم توريطهم.

– التدخل لن يكون نزهة، وهذا يعلمه كلّ عاقل، والواضح بأنّ حجم المقاومة التي سيولدها وخطر امتدادها إلى خارج فنزويلا بإنعاش حركة التحرر الوطني التي تنتسب للجذور البوليفارية في أميركا اللاتينية، والمواجهة قد تفتح جراحاً تمتدّ لسنوات، وتتنشر أبعد من أميركا اللاتينية إلى الولايات الأميركية حيث الانقسام بين البيض واللاتينيين في ظل الخطاب العنصري للرئيس دونالد ترامب، وانتشار الثقافة الفاشية بوجود السلاح، والتجربة التي مرت بها سورية تشكل مصدر إلهام للقيادة الفنزويلية والجيش الفنزويلي، والحديث عن تسليح الشعب وإطلاق المقاومة صار حديث اليوم مع الأنباء عن فرضيات التدخل الأميركي.

– الأهم في التجربة السورية التي تمّت المواجهة خلالها ضدّ الحرب التي قادتها واشنطن في ظروف شديدة القسوة، بوجه تحالفات أوسع، ومقدرات أكبر، وصنعت نصراً أسطورياً كشف حجم القوة المختزنة لدى الشعوب والدول في ظل قيادة وطنية شجاعة، من جهة، ومن جهة مقابلة حجم الهشاشة التي بلغتها القوة الأميركية. وأهمّ المهمّ هو كيف فعلت هذه التجربة فعلها في استنهاض روسيا لدخول الحرب من بابها الواسع، واسترداد مكانتها كدولة عظمى مؤتمنة على القانون الدولي. وها هي اليوم تقطف ثمار هذا الدور على الساحة الدولية، وتقارب التهديد الأميركي على فنزويلا بروح مبادرة وبموقف حازم عبّر عنه وزير الخارجية الروسية سيرغي لافروف بالقول إنّ موسكو ستفعل كلّ ما يلزم لمنع الخطر الذي تحمله التهديدات بالتدخل العسكري الأميركي، ولن تحتاج موسكو لاتخاذ القرار الوقت الذي احتاجته في حالة سورية.

– إنْ وقعت المغامرة العسكرية الأميركية في فنزويلا ستكون واشنطن قد حفرت قبرها بيدها وسرعت نهاية مكانتها الإمبراطورية.

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