Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty

Via The Saker

July 18, 2019

Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty published on July 17, 2019

Original interview in Russian

Question: Can an improvement in the relations with the United States be expected in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: An improvement will hardly materialise any time soon, since it is anything but easy to sort out the mess that our relations are in, which is not our fault. After all, bilateral relations require reciprocal efforts. We have to meet each other half way.

Russia is ready to move in this direction, as we have said on a number of occasions. We proceed from the premise that Russia and the United States bear special responsibility. We are the two largest nuclear powers, the founding members of the United Nations and permanent members of its Security Council. Cooperation between our two countries is key to ensuring stability and predictability in international affairs. However, not everything depends on us. It takes two to tango, as the saying goes.

The situation is quite complicated on the American side. On the one hand, President Donald Trump talks about seeking to be on good terms with Russia, but this attitude is far from prevalent in Washington. We see this in unfriendly steps, such as various groundless accusations Russia faces, imposing financial and economic sanctions, seizing diplomatic property, kidnapping Russian nationals in third countries, opposing Russia’s foreign policy interests, as well as attempts to meddle in our domestic affairs. We are seeing system-wide efforts to reach out to almost all countries around the world and persuade them to scale back their relations with Russia.

Many US politicians are trying to outshine each other in ramping up anti-Russia phobias and they are using this factor in their domestic political struggles. We understand that they will only escalate in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Nevertheless, we will not give up in despair. We will continue to look for common ground with the US despite all the challenges that there are.

It is essential that the Russian and US presidents both understand that there is a need to end the deadlock in our relations. During their June meeting which took place in Osaka the two leaders spoke out in favour of stepping up economic cooperation, combining efforts to settle regional crises, resuming dialogue on strategic stability, and also said that they appreciated dialogue on combatting terrorism. Vladimir Putin invited Donald Trump to Moscow to take part in the events to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in WWII.

All in all, it has to be recognised that Washington has been inconsistent and quite often unpredictable in its actions. For this reason, trying to predict anything in our relations with the US is a fruitless task. Let me reiterate that as far as Russia is concerned we are ready to patiently work on improving our relations. Of course, this will be possible only if Russia’s interests are respected, and based on equality and mutual respect.

Question: Our diplomats’ access to several Russian properties in San Francisco has been restricted. What practical actions are you taking to protect our property?

Sergey Lavrov: Washington has actually expropriated six Russian buildings which have been registered with the US Department of State as diplomatic property. These are two buildings of the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco, the Consul General’s residence in Seattle, the countryside facilities of the Russian Embassy and Trade Mission in New York, as well as our Trade Mission in Washington. We have no diplomatic presence on the West Coast, where tens of thousands of Russian citizens and compatriots live. We have been denied the right to visit these places by the US State Department. All this is a flagrant violation of the United States’ international legal obligations.

We have responded to these openly coercive actions. We have shut down the US Consulate General in St Petersburg, which incidentally was not a US property. We are mulling over a choice of possible methods to reclaim the illegally seized Russian property. We regularly raise the subject of Washington’s violation of its obligations at the bilateral level and also at multilateral platforms. We will continue to do this.

Question: The United States abducts and hunts down Russian citizens around the world, imprisoning them under far-fetched pretexts, whereas we appear to be afraid of giving an appropriate response to these international bandits.

Sergey Lavrov: We are not afraid of anything. But we will not act like bandits either, because we respect international law.

The hunt for Russian citizens in other countries is nothing other than an instrument of US pressure on Russia. Washington has flatly refused to cooperate with our law enforcement agencies on the basis of the 1999 Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. Instead, it puts pressure on its allies and other states to arrest Russian citizens on their territory and subsequently to extradite them to the United States. This is being done quietly, furtively and without any reliable proof [of these people’s guilt]. Some of our citizens have been abducted, as it happened to Konstantin Yaroshenko in Liberia in 2010 and to Roman Seleznev in the Maldives in 2014.

Of course, we will not leave our citizens alone with their problems. We carefully examine all the cases of Russian citizens detained at Washington’s request. The Russian authorities are working on measures to enhance the effectiveness of the legal protection of our citizens abroad. The Foreign Ministry and Russian diplomats in the United States are taking all possible measures to protect the rights and interests of our compatriots in distress. We are doing our best to ensure that Russian detainees have access to consular and legal assistance around the clock, as well as to improve their detainment conditions. In our contacts with the Americans, we invariably demand that our citizens be released and returned home as soon as possible. This also concerns the widely publicised cases of Viktor Bout and Maria Butina.

We raise this question at multilateral platforms, including the UN Human Rights Council, as well as in our contacts with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

Unfortunately, knowing the aggressive methods of the American system, which does not just stop at using illegal methods, we cannot guarantee that nothing bad will happen to Russian citizens abroad. In this context, I would like to use this occasion to recommend that our citizens thoroughly consider the risks of foreign trips, especially ones to the countries that have extradition agreements with the United States.

Question: Why would Russia pay for PACE membership if it is constantly subject to the assembly’s provocations?

Sergey Lavrov: Just to clarify, there are no separate fees for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Our country makes payments to the Council of Europe’s budget pursuant to the council’s Statute and Russian law. PACE-related expenses account for a small fraction of the Council of Europe’s common budget.

Strictly speaking, Council of Europe membership is a source of a number of benefits for our citizens and the country in general. They include refining our national legal system, solving a whole range of social and humanitarian issues, and fighting corruption. Every single ministry and agency that is part of the Inter-Agency Commission on Russia’s Council of Europe Membership (around 20 in total) confirm the importance of proactive participation in this organisation, including mechanisms of over 60 conventions that our country joined. 

As concerns provocations, they are engineered by the aggressive Russophobic minority egged on by the United States, an observer in the Council of Europe. Of course, this sours the atmosphere and does not bode well for constructive PACE work. But then again, the sensible majority of PACE members who support Russia’s return to the fold of this parliamentary structure is sick and tired of this meaningless vagary. This is indicated by the fact that at the June session, the assembly issued a resolution to restore Russia’s powers without any reservations, thus meeting the condition of Russia’s resuming payments.

Question: It is outrageous to watch the Ukrainian army’s rampage against LPR and DPR residents. Innocent civilians, children and defenders of these two republics are being killed. It was reported that local people addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin with a request to send in troops. Why not do it and force Ukraine to make peace as was the case with Georgia?

Sergey Lavrov: True, the situation in Donbass remains extremely disturbing. To this day, hardly anything has been done to cease fire and shelling continues. Of course, the suffering of the people in these two unrecognised republics strikes a painful chord in our hearts.

The signals that President Vladimir Zelensky sent during his election campaign and right after being elected were rather contradictory. We hope that Kiev’s recent pledge to fully comply with the Minsk Agreements will take the shape of a practical policy after the pre-term Verkhovna Rada elections. The most important thing is to end the war and hear the people in southeastern Ukraine who want peace to be restored, who want to freely speak their native Russian language and their socioeconomic rights to be observed. All this was committed to writing in the Package of Measures.

I really hope that the new Ukrainian leadership will not continue the disastrous course of Poroshenko’s regime and will successfully convert the credit of trust it has into actual efforts to restore civil peace in Ukraine. The long-awaited disengaging of forces and equipment that began in late June in Stanitsa Luganskaya that had been blocked by the previous administration for two and a half years is a convincing indication that where there is political will there can be progress.  

Question: Does Russia intend to officially recognise the DPR and the LPR as independent states?

Sergey Lavrov: Our position on this matter is well known. According to the Minsk Package of Measures, where Russia acts as a guarantor, Donbass has to be granted special status that is permanently enshrined in Ukraine’s constitution. We believe in the need to focus at this point in time on implementing the Minsk Agreements as approved by a UN Security Council resolution, which makes them a binding instrument.

The Ukrainian leadership must look its own citizens straight in the face and renounce the policy of putting Donbass in an economic chokehold, recognise the right of Donetsk and Lugansk residents to speak their native language and celebrate the dates and public holidays they hold as sacred, and honour the memory of their national heroes. Without this it would not be serious, to say the least, to talk about restoring trust among DPR and LPR residents toward official Kiev. Of course, establishing meaningful and direct dialogue between Kiev and the unrecognised people’s republics is the central condition of the Minsk Agreements. This requires streamlining the work of the Contact Group formed by Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk representatives and supported by Russia and the OSCE. In this case, the Normandy Format can also be effective in facilitating the work of the Contact Group. There can also be other ways to support the settlement process in Donbass from the outside, as long as they are acceptable for all sides, and, of course, do not water down the tenets of the Minsk Agreements. President Vladimir Putin was abundantly clear in reaffirming his position, including during his telephone conversation with President Vladimir Zelensky on July 10.

Question: What is Russia’s Foreign Ministry doing to liberate Russian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky from detention in Kiev? He has spent more than a year in prison, in essence, for his professional activity. Why cannot Russia put pressure on Ukraine to free him?

Sergey Lavrov: The court proceedings in the case of RIA Novosti Ukraine editor-in-chief resemble the theatre of the absurd. There is no doubt that the journalist was subject to an illegal arrest, just for working for a Russian media outlet and honestly reporting on the ongoing developments. Even Ukrainian prosecutors seem to understand this, since they have been postponing hearings under the pretext of studying the investigative materials.

Russia demands that Kiev immediately release Kirill Vyshinsky and fully restore all his rights. Our diplomats maintain close contacts with the journalist’s lawyers, since Ukraine declined consular access. We do everything we can to reach out to our foreign partners, including on international platforms, calling on them to work with Kiev in order to bring about a positive resolution as soon as possible.

Question: What measures should the Georgian government take in order to prevent individuals who are a disgrace for Georgia from holding anti-Russia demonstrations near the country’s parliament?

Sergey Lavrov: Relations between the government and the opposition are Georgia’s internal affair. We have no intention to interfere in this process. However, we are definitely concerned about any attempts made by some radical representatives of the Georgian political elite to whip up Russophobic sentiment and pit our peoples against one another. I doubt that these individuals thought about the damage their action was causing to their country and the prosperity of its people, which depends to a significant extent on the state of economic and humanitarian relations with Russia.

We expect the Georgian leadership to recognise as soon as possible the detrimental nature and danger of further efforts to fan anti-Russia hysteria. After all, it is essential that official Tbilisi found the strength to condemn the shameful actions of a local television network that offended the President of Russia, causing misgivings even within the Georgian society.

We hope that the Georgian authorities will be able to restore social and political stability in the country and remove the existing security threats Russians currently face there. Should this happen, the necessary conditions will be created in order to look into the possibility for removing the precautionary measures Russia has taken, including a ban on air travel to Georgia. We want to be friends and to cooperate so that Russians and Georgians can benefit.

Question: The Chinese media have recently started referring to Siberia as “Chinese land.” Some 12 million Chinese currently live in Russia’s Far East and Siberia. Can it happen that China actually takes over Siberia and Russia’s Far East in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: Border disputes between Russia and China were settled for good a long time ago. The bilateral Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation adopted in 2001 states that there are no territorial claims between the two countries. Against this backdrop, those who have misgivings over the constructive development of Russian-Chinese relations seek to spread the myth of the Chinese threat.

As for the 12 million Chinese who allegedly live in the Far East and Siberia, I have great doubts about the accuracy of this figure. The associated fears are clearly blown out of proportion.

The policy by Russia and the People’s Republic of China to strengthen their neighbourly relations is a multifaceted and long-term effort that cannot be affected by short-term fluctuations. Sino-Russian cooperation is not aimed against anyone. Its main purpose is to facilitate socioeconomic development and prosperity for our countries and peoples. As Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping said following the June 5 talks in Moscow, the two countries are entering a new era in their comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation. The growing mutual trust in military and political affairs, record-high trade figures and expanding cultural and humanitarian contacts, as well as better coordination with Beijing on international affairs speak volumes of the positive momentum in our bilateral dialogue.

Question: Relations with Iran are essential for Russia’s geopolitics. However, Iran has indulged in unacceptable aggressive rhetoric against the state of Israel on numerous occasions and went beyond words. How is Russia’s position any different from that of European countries in the 1930s when they encouraged Hitler’s anti-Soviet stance?

Sergey Lavrov: Russia sees intrinsic value in its relations with Iran, Israel and all other Middle East countries. Russia has a multipronged foreign policy that is free from the principle of “being friends against someone.” In our contacts with the leaders of all regional countries we are consistent in calling on our partners to find peaceful solutions to the problems that may arise and renounce the use or threat of force.

The escalating tension in the region we are witnessing today is the direct result of Washington and some of its allies raising the stakes in their anti-Iranian policy. The US is flexing its muscles by seeking to discredit Tehran and blame all the sins on the Islamic Republic of Iran. This creates a dangerous situation: a single match can start a fire. The responsibility for the possible catastrophic consequences will rest with the United States.

As for the historical aspect of your question, it is not appropriate to project what happened in Europe in the 1930s on the current developments in the Middle East. As we all know, Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier sought to appease Hitler in order to direct the German military might against the USSR. We are not seeing anything of this kind today.

Iran regularly reaffirms to us its interest in regional stability through dialogue with all the interested countries, including the Gulf Arab states. In addition to this, Tehran has always stressed that it did not intend to undertake any aggressive action.

As far as Russia is concerned, we are taking steps to de-escalate tensions. We are proactive in promoting the concept of collective security in the Persian Gulf implying a stage-by-stage approach to resolving conflicts and devising confidence building and control mechanisms. We are working with our partners to preserve the multilateral agreements to promote a settlement on the Iranian nuclear programme.

Question: Do you think that we are geopolitically losing in Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia and allowing a belt of “Russia’s enemies” to build up around us from among some of the former “brotherly nations” who earn money in Russia and on Russia, repatriate it and still consider us if not enemies, definitely not friends?

Sergey Lavrov: The political processes in Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia concern us, there is no question about it, because they are our brotherly peoples and we are tied by a long history of relations, including being part of one state.

Unfortunately, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union the West came to believe that it was the end of history and the West can now blatantly interfere with the affairs of any country and presumptuously call the shots in its domestic politics. Ukraine is perhaps the most flagrant example.

Armenia is a different story. This country is Russia’s key partner in the South Caucasus with whom we have strong strategic relations and an alliance. We are engaged in an extensive political dialogue and cooperate between parliaments and on the international scene. Russia is Armenia’s leading economic partner. Our links in the education, culture, investment, military and technical sector are on the rise.

As concerns Georgia, I am certain that Georgians do not see us Russians as enemies. Unfortunately, right now we see certain politicians in Georgia competing in anti-Russian rhetoric to achieve their mercenary and opportunistic goals. I am sure that everything will be ironed out sooner or later and that our countries will again enjoy neighbourly relations.

Broadly speaking, our agenda in the post-Soviet space has a unifying nature and is aimed at stimulating the socioeconomic development of respective countries, promoting and harmonising integration in the region, strengthening collective security and the potential of our coordinated response to threats and challenges. 

Question: What is the status of the talks with Iraq over bringing back our women and children from prisons? What are the prospects of them returning back home?

Sergey Lavrov: So far, we have managed to bring back home 90 children. According to our records, some 30 more children remain in Iraq. We plan to bring them back within the next months.

Unfortunately, the situation is more complicated when it comes to their mothers. All of them are convicted for breaking Iraqi law, by illegally crossing the border, staying in the country illegally and participating in terrorist activities. Sixty-six Russian nationals are currently in prison. The Russian Embassy in Baghdad is constantly monitoring their cases and providing necessary help.

To recap, we started working on the humanitarian operation to return our minor citizens back to Russia in the autumn of 2017 when Iraqi officials informed us that Russian women and children were detained during a counter-terrorist operation in Mosul.

The office of the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Anna Kuznetsova established a commission to coordinate the operation. The commission involves representatives of competent government bodies, including the Foreign Ministry. Together with the Iraqi authorities we agreed on a course of action to locate the children and prepare the necessary documents for their repatriation. Russian specialists collected the children’s and mothers’ biological material for DNA relationship testing. Meanwhile, we were looking for relatives to establish formal guardianship. Then we received rulings of the Baghdad Central Court on returning the children.

We continue to work hard on this matter.

Question: What is the reason for facilitating access to Russian citizenship for people living abroad?

Sergey Lavrov: These decisions are based above all on humanitarian considerations. This is why we have adopted a facilitated procedure for the granting of Russian citizenship to the residents of certain districts in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The procedure was formalized in April of this year by a presidential executive order.

Kiev’s blockade has made the living in certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine unbearable. The people have been deprived of everything, including social payments, pensions, wages, as well as the national system of banking, education and healthcare services. They have been stripped of their voting rights, as neither election commissions nor polling stations were established in their districts. In other words, Kiev has de facto turned these people into stateless persons.

It was our duty to provide assistance to these people in that situation. Russian citizenship will allow them to tackle their current problems, give them freedom of movement as well as access to healthcare services, education, banking services and transportation.

At the same time, Russia is not forcing anyone to adopt its citizenship or abandon the Ukrainian citizenship. Each resident of Donbass makes the decision independently.

Besides, this is not a new practice at all. A number of European countries, for example, Poland, Hungary and Romania, have been doing this for years.

The general procedure for granting Russian citizenship is regulated by a federal law, which says that the basic condition is the applicant’s residence in Russia. But the law also stipulates preferences for foreign nationals living outside Russia if at least one of their parents is a Russian citizen living in Russia. An exception has been made for the stateless persons who used to hold Soviet citizenship and are living in the former Soviet republics. They can receive Russian citizenship without taking up residency in Russia. In addition to this, parents holding Russian citizenship can register their children born in mixed marriages as Russian citizens. We are working to improve this procedure.

In reality, Russian offices abroad issue Russian passports to some 50,000 people every year. Over half of them are children born in mixed marriages. Their parents usually write in their applications that they want to maintain the legal and spiritual connection to Russia.

Question: Have you ever developed good personal relations with foreign colleagues even though you may have political differences with their home countries? Can you provide an example of such friendship?

Sergey Lavrov: Good and trust-based personal relations are extremely important in the diplomatic profession. In some cases communications are maintained and solutions to problems are found only thanks to such personal relations. In general, I believe that the ability to maintain close contacts, avoid emotional decision-making and never forget about your country’s strategic interests when dealing with short-term concerns are the required qualities of all diplomats irrespective of rank and post.

Of course, partners and counterparts do change. For example, as a Foreign Minister I have worked with five US Secretaries of State. But this does not mean [personal] ties are broken off when my colleagues retire or are appointed to another position. After all, this is a small world.

As for giving examples, I would not like to name anyone now, including out of respect for the other colleagues. After all, friendship is a very personal matter. Besides, many of my friends are still working in the diplomatic service or are prominent in the socio-political sphere.

Question: What quality distinguishes a real diplomat from a fake one?

Sergey Lavrov: As for the qualities a professional diplomat must have, I would say that the most important of them is a deep understanding of your country’s development goals and foreign policy interests. Of course, this calls for special training, good knowledge of history, constant involvement in all aspects of life, as well as colossal erudition. Diplomats routinely work with people from other countries, ethnicities and cultures. So they must be well-versed in a country’s specifics. Of course, it is very important to have a knowledge of foreign languages, which is, by the way, a strong point when it comes to our diplomacy. Overall, diplomatic work consists of active contacts with people, which is why a real diplomat must make a good impression, find common language with others in any situation, as well as be able not only to hear but also to listen to what the counterparts say.

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UAE: “We Don’t Have Evidence” that Iran Carried Out Tanker Attacks

Global Research, July 01, 2019

The United Arab Emirates appeared to part ways with the Trump administration Wednesday on the question of whether Iran is responsible for the recent attacks on merchant tankers in the Gulf of Oman. 

The White House maintains that Iran or Iran-backed forces carried out the attacks, which damaged six vessels in two separate incidents in May and June. U.S. Central Command has released video and imagery showing what appear to be Iranian servicemembers removing a limpet mine from the hull of the tanker Kokuka Courageous after the second attack, and it has allowed media to view and photograph debris collected from the vessel.

However, the UAE said Wednesday that it would like more concrete proof before reaching a definitive conclusion that Iran was behind the attacks. Iran has so far denied involvement, though it claimed responsibility for shooting down an American surveillance drone on June 20.

“Honestly we can’t point the blame [for the tanker attacks] at any country because we don’t have evidence,” said UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, speaking alongside his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, at a joint press conference in Moscow. “If there is a country that has the evidence, then I’m convinced that the international community will listen to it. But we need to make sure the evidence is precise and convincing.”

In a joint investigation conducted with officials from Saudi Arabia and Norway, the UAE determined that the first attacks on tankers off Fujairah “were most probably carried out by actors with a considerable amount of intelligence and technical expertise,” but did not accuse any specific entity. Sheikh Bin Zayed said that that assessment has already been submitted to the UN Security Council and that “we will continue our commitment to professionalism on this issue.”

Lavrov’s presence provided subtext for the announcement: the Russian government has criticized U.S. policy towards Tehran, and a top official recently hinted that it might provide Iran with support if the U.S. should launch a retaliatory attack.

“Many other countries sympathize and empathize with Iran,” said Zamir Kabulov, a Russian special envoy, speaking to Kommersant Wednesday. “Tehran won’t be alone if the U.S., God forbid, takes insane and irresponsible actions against it.”

The UAE is an ally of the United States and of Saudi Arabia, which both accuse Iran of orchestrating the attacks. Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the de facto ruler of the UAE, met Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; in a statement after the meeting, the sheikh’s office “reiterated that both countries are standing side by side toward the challenges besetting the region.”

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The AngloZionist Empire: a Hyperpower with Microbrains and No Cred Left

MAY 17, 2019

THE SAKER 

Last week saw what was supposed to be a hyperpower point fingers for its embarrassing defeat not only at Venezuela, which successfully defeated Uncle Shmuel’s coup plans, but also at a list of other countries including Cuba, Russia, China and Iran. It’s is rather pathetic and, frankly, bordering on the comically ridiculous.

Uncle Shmuel clearly did not appreciate being the laughingstock of the planet.

Eviction Notice of the USSS
Eviction Notice of the USSS

And as Uncle Shmuel always does, he decided to flex some muscle and show the world “who is boss” by…

… blockading the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC.

But even that was too much for the MAGA Admin, so they also denied doing so (how lame is that!?)

Which did not prevent US activists of entering the embassy (legally, they were invited in and confirm it all).

Now the US Secret Service wants to evict the people inside the building.

So much for the CIA’s beloved “plausible deniability” which now has morphed into “comical deniability”.

If you think that all this sounds incredibly amateurish and stupid – you are 100% correct.

In the wonderful words of Sergei Lavrov, the US diplomats have “lost the taste for diplomacy“.

But that was not all.

In an act of incredible courage the US, which was told (by the Israelis, of course!), that the Iranians were about to attack “somewhere”, Uncle Shmuel sent two aircraft carrier strike groups to the Middle-East. In a “daring” operation, the brilliant USAF pilots B-52 bombers over the Persian Gulf to “send a message” to the “Mollahs”: don’t f*ck with us or else…

The “Mollahs” apparently were unimpressed as they simply declared that “the US carriers were not a threat, only a target“.

The AngloZionists apparently have also executed a false flag operation to get a pretext to strike Iran, but so far this seems to have gotten rather little traction in the region (so far – this might change).

Lavrov reacting to the latest US threats
Lavrov reacting to the latest US threats

Now let’s leave this “Kindergarten level of operations” and try to make some sense from this nonsense.

First, while the American can pour scorn on the Iranians, call them ragheads, terrorists, Mollahs, sand-niggers or confuse them with Iraqis or even think that Iranian are Arabs (as, apparently, are the Turks, at least by the US common standard of ignorance), the truth is that the Iranians are world-class and most sophisticated players, especially their superb analytical community. They fully understand that a B-52 anywhere near the Iranian airspace is a sitting duck and that if the Americans were planning to strike Iran, they would pull their aircraft carrier far away from any possible Iranian strikes. As for the B-52, they have long range cruise missiles and they don’t need to get near Iran to deliver they payloads.

In fact, I think that the proper way to really make the Iranians believe that Uncle Shmuel means business would be to flush any and all US ships out of the Persian Gulf, to position the B-52s in Diego Garcia and to place the carriers as far away as possible to still be able to support a missile/bomb attack on Iranian targets. And you can bet that the Iranians keep very close tabs on exactly what CENTCOM aircraft are deployed and where. To attack Iran the US would need to achieve a specific concentration of forces and support elements which are all trackable by the Iranians. My guess is that the Iranians already have a full list of all CENTCOM officers down to the colonel level (and possibly even lower for airmen) and that they already know exactly which individual USAF/USN aircraft are ready to strike. One could be excused to think that this is difficult to do, but in reality is is not. I have personally seen it done.

Second, the Americans know that the Iranians know that (well, maybe not Mr MAGA, but folks at the DIA, ONI, NSA, etc. do know that). So all this sabre-rattling is designed to show that Mr MAGA has tons of hair on his chest, it’s all for internal US consumption. As for the Iranians, they have already heard any and all imaginable US threats, they have been attacked many times by both the US and Israel (directly or by proxy), and they have been preparing for a US attack ever since the glorious days of Operation Eagle Claw: they are as ready as they can be, you can take that to the bank. Finally, the terrorist attack by the USN on a civilian Iranian airliner certainly convinced the Iranians that the leaders of the AngloZionist Empire lack even basic decency, nevermind honor. Nevermind the use of chemical warfare by Iraq against Iran with chemicals helpfully provided by various US and EU companies (with the full blessing of their governments). No – the Iranians truly have no illusions whatsoever about what the Shaytân-e Bozorg is capable of in his rage.

Third, “attacking embassies” is a glaring admission of terminal weakness. That was true for the seizure of Russian consular buildings, and this is true for the Venezuelan embassy. In the real (supra-Kindergarten) world when country A has a beef with country B, it does not vent its frustration against its embassy. Such actions are not only an admission of weakness, but also a sign of a fundamental lack of civilization.

This issue is crucial to the understanding of the United States. The US is an extremely developed country, but not a civilized one. Oscar Wilde (and George Clemanceau) had it right: “America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between“. There are signs of that everywhere in the US: from the feudal labor laws, to the lack of universal healthcare, to absolutely ridiculous mandatory criminal sentences (the Soviet Penal Code under Stalin was MUCH more reasonable and civilized than the current US laws!), to the death penalty, to the socially accepted torture in GITMO and elsewhere, to racial tensions, the disgusting “food” constituting the typical “SAD” diet, to the completely barbaric “war on drugs”, to the world record of incarcerations, to an immense epidemic of sexual assaults and rapes (1/5 of all women in the US!), homosexuality accepted as a “normal and positive variation of human sexuality“, 98 percent of men reported internet porn use in the last six months, … – you can continue that list ad nauseam. Please don’t misunderstand me – there are as many kind, intelligent, decent, honorable, educated, compassionate people in the US as anywhere else. This is not about the people living in the US: it is about the kind of society these people are living in. In fact, I would argue the truism that US Americans are the first victims of the lack of civilization of their own society! Finally, a lack of civilization is not always a bad thing, and sometimes it can make a society much more dynamic, more flexible, more innovative too. But yeah, mostly it sucks…

By the way, the US is hardly unique in having had degenerate imbeciles in power. Does anybody remember what Chernenko looked like when he became the Secretary General of the CPSU? What about folks like Jean-Bédel Bokassa or Mikheil Saakashvili (this latter case is especially distressing since it happened in a country with a truly ancient and extremely rich culture!). And while we can dislike folks like George Bush Senior or James Baker – these were superbly educated and extremely intelligent people. Compare them to such psychopathic ignoramuses like Pompeo, Bolton or Trump himself!

So this latest US “attack” on the Venezuela is truly a most telling symptom of the wholesale collapse of US power and of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy and lack of civilization of the Neocon ruling elites.

The big question is obvious: will they attack Venezuela or Iran next?

In the very first article I ever wrote for my blog, as far back as 2007, I predicted that the US would attack Iran. I still believe that the Israelis will never cease to try to get the US to do their dirty work for them (and let the goyimpay the price!). What I am not sure about is whether the Israelis truly will have the power to push the US into such a suicidal war (remember, if Iran cannot “win” against the US, neither can the US “win” against Iran – thus Iran will win simply by surviving and not caving in – which they will and they won’t). The good news is that US power has been in sharp (and accelerating!) decline at least since Clinton and his gang. I would even add that the last two idiots (Obama and Trump) did more damage to the US power than all their predecessors combined. The bad news is that the collective IQ of US leaders has been falling even faster than US power. We can hope that the first will hit zero long before the second, but there is no guarantee.

Truly, nobody knows if the US will or will not attack Iran and/or Venezuela next. The Neocons sure want that, but whether they will make it happen this time around or not depends on so many variables that even the folks in the White House and the Pentagon probably don’t really know what will happen next.

What is certain is that the US reputation worldwide is basically roadkill. The fact that most folks inside the US are never told about that does not make it less real. The Obama-Trump tag team has truly inflicted irreparable damage on the reputation of the US (in both cases because they were hopelessly infected and corrupted by the Neocons). The current US leaders appear to understand that, at least to some degree, this is why they are mostly lashing out at “easy” targets like free speech (on the Internet and elsewhere), Assange, the Venezuelan Embassy, etc. The real danger comes from either one of two factors:

  1. The Neocons will feel humiliated by the fact that all their threats are only met with indifference, disgust or laughter
  2. The Neocons will feel buoyed by the fact that nothing terrible happened (so far) when they attacked a defenseless target

Either way, in both cases the outcome is the same: each “click!” brings us closer to the inevitable “bang!”.

By the way, I think I should also mention here that the current state of advanced paranoia in which the likes of Pompeo point their fingers left and right are also signs of terminal weakness: these are not so much ways to credibly explain the constant and systematic failures of the Israelis and the Americans to get anything actually done as they are a way to distract away from the real reasons for the current extreme weakness of the AngloZionists.

2006: The people of Lebanon celebrate the victory which turned the tide of AngloZionist imperialism
2006: The people of Lebanon celebrate the victory which turned the tide of AngloZionist imperialism

I concluded my last article by speaking of the terrified Venezuelans who refused to be afraid. I will conclude this one by pointing at the first instance when a (comparatively) small adversary completely refused to be frightened even while it was the object of a truly terrifying attack: Hezbollah in 2006. Even though they were outnumbered, outgunned and surrounded by the Israelis, the members of the Resistance in Lebanon simply refused to be afraid and, having lost the fear too which so many Arabs did succumb to before 2006, they proceeded to give the Israelis (fully backed by the US) the worst and most humiliating thrashing in their country’s (admittedly short) history.

I urge you to read al-Sayyid Hassan’s famous “Divine Victory” speech (you can still find the English language transcript here and here) – it is one of the most important speeches of the 20th century! – and pay attention to these words (emphasis added):

We feel that we won; Lebanon won; Palestine won; the Arab nation won, and every oppressed, aggrieved person in this world also won. Our victory is not the victory of a party. I repeat what I said in Bint Jubayl on 25 May 2000: It is not the victory of a party or a community; rather it is a victory for true Lebanon, the true Lebanese people, and every free person in the world. Don’t distort this big historic victory. Do not contain it in party, sectarian, communal, or regional cans. This victory is too big to be comprehended by us. The next weeks, months, and years will confirm this.

And, indeed, the next weeks, months and years have very much confirmed that!

Any US attack on Iran will have pretty similar results, but on a much, much bigger scale.

And the Iranians know that. As do many in the Pentagon (the CIA and the White House are probably beyond hopeless by now).

Conclusion: good news and bad news

The good news first: Pompeo and Lavrov had what seems to be a meaningful dialog. That is very, very good, even if totally insufficient. They have also announced that they want to create study groups to improve the (currently dismal) relations between the two countries. That is even better news (if that really happens). Listening to Pompeo and Lavrov, I got a feeling that the Americans are slowly coming to the realization that they have an overwhelming need to re-establish a meaningful dialog with the other nuclear superpower. Good. But there is also bad news.

Finally some meaningful discussions between the two nuclear superpowers!
Finally some meaningful discussions between the two nuclear superpowers!

The rumor that the strategic geniuses surrounding Trump are now considering sending 120,000 troops to the Middle-East is really very bad news. If this just stays a rumor, then it will be the usual hot air out of DC, along the lines of Trump’s “very powerful armada” sent to scare the DPRK (it failed). The difference here is simple: sending carriers to the Middle-East is pure PR. But sending carriers AND 120,000 troops completely changes that and now this threat, if executed, will become very real. No, I don’t think that the US will attempt to invade Iran, but 120,000 is pretty close to what would be needed to try to re-open the Strait of Hormuz (assuming the Iranians close it) while protecting all the (pretty much defenseless) CENTCOM facilities and forces in the region. Under this scenario, the trip of Pompeo to Russia might have a much more ominous reason: to explain to the Russians what the US is up to and to provide security guarantees that this entire operation is not aimed at Russian forces. IF the US really plans to attack Iran, then it would make perfect sense for Pompeo to talk to Lavrov and open channels of communications between the two militaries to agree on “deconfliction” procedures. Regardless of whether the Russians accept such deconfliction measures or not (my guess is that they definitely would), such a trip is a “must” when deploying large forces so near to Russian military forces.

So far Trump has denied this report – but we all know that he suffers from the “John Kerry syndrome”: he wants better relations with Russia only until the Neocons tell him not to. Then he makes a 180 and declares the polar opposite of what he just said.

Still, there are now rumors that Trump is getting fed up with Bolton (who, truth be told, totally FUBARed the Venezuelan situation!).

As for the Iraqis, they have already told the US to forget using Iraqi territory for any attack. This reminds me of how the Brazilians told the US that Brazil would not allow its territory to be used for any attacks. This is becoming a pattern. Good.

Frankly, while an AngloZionist attack on Iran is always and by definition possible, I can’t imagine the folks at the Pentagon having the stomach for that. In a recent article Eric Margolis outlined what the rationale for such an attack might be (check out his full article here). Notice this sentence: “The Pentagon’s original plan to punish Iran called for some 2,300 air strikes on Day 1 alone“. Can they really do that? Yes, absolutely. But imagine the consequences! Margolis speaks of “punishing” Iran. 2,300 air strikes in one day is not something I would call a “punishment”. That is a full scale attack on Iran which, in turns, means that the Iranians will have exactly *ZERO* reasons to hold back in any way. If the AngloZionists attack Iran with 2,300 air strikes on Day 1, then you can be sure that on Day 2 all hell will break loose all over the Middle-East and the AngloZionists will have absolutely *NO* means of stopping it.

This will be a real bloodbath and nobody will have any idea as to how to stop it.

And you can be darn sure that the Iranians will show much more staying power than the imperialists, if only because they will be fighting in defense of their country, their faith, their liberty, their friends and their families. To expect the Iranians to cave in or surrender in any way would be the most stupid notion anybody could entertain.

Could they really be THAT stupid in Washington DC?

I don’t know.

But what I do know is this: any such attack will be extremely costly and very, very dangerous. Obviously, the Neocons don’t give a rats ass about costs, financial or human. They just want war, war, war and more war (remember McCain’s “bomb, bomb, bomb – bomb, bomb Iran“?). But the Neocons are only a tiny fraction of the US ruling elites (even if the most powerful one) and my hope is that the sane elements will prevail (which, indeed, they have so far).

As for right now, we are still okay. But if the US actually beings sending large forces to the Middle-East, then all bets are off.

What Putin and Pompeo did not talk about

May 15, 2019

by Pepe Escobar : Posted with permission

What Putin and Pompeo did not talk aboutRussia is uneasy over the destabilizatihttp://by Pepe Escobar : Posted with permissionon of Tehran, and on other hotspots the powers’ positions are clear.

Even veiled by thick layers of diplomatic fog, the overlapping meetings in Sochi between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov still offer tantalizing geopolitical nuggets.

Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov did his best to smooth the utterly intractable, admitting there was “no breakthrough yet” during the talks but at least the US “demonstrated a constructive approach.”

Putin told Pompeo that after his 90-minute phone call with Trump, initiated by the White House, and described by Ushakov as “very good,” the Russian president “got the impression that the [US] president was inclined to re-establish Russian-American relations and contacts to resolve together the issues that are of mutual interest to us.”

That would imply a Russiagate closure. Putin told Pompeo, in no uncertain terms, that Moscow never interfered in the US elections, and that the Mueller report proved that there was no connection between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.

This adds to the fact Russiagate has been consistently debunked by the best independent American investigators such as the VIPS group.   

‘Interesting’ talk on Iran

Let’s briefly review what became public of the discussions on multiple (hot and cold) conflict fronts – Venezuela, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran.

Venezuela – Ushakov reiterated the Kremlin’s position: “Any steps that may provoke a civil war in the country are inadmissible.” The future of President Maduro was apparently not part of the discussion.

That brings to mind the recent Arctic Council summit. Both Lavrov and Pompeo were there. Here’s a significant exchange:

Lavrov: I believe you don’t represent the South American region, do you?

Pompeo: We represent the entire hemisphere.

Lavrov: Oh, the hemisphere. Then what’s the US doing in the Eastern Hemisphere, in Ukraine, for instance?

There was no response from Pompeo.

North Korea – Even acknowledging that the Trump administration is “generally ready to continue working [with Pyongyang] despite the stalemate at the last meeting, Ushakov again reiterated the Kremlin’s position: Pyongyang will not give in to “any type of pressure,” and North Korea wants “a respectful approach” and international security guarantees.

Afghanistan – Ushakov noted Moscow is very much aware that the Taliban are getting stronger. So the only way out is to find a “balance of power.” There was a crucial trilateral in Moscow on April 25 featuring Russia, China and the US, where they all called on the Taliban to start talking with Kabul as soon as possible.

Iran – Ushakov said the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal, was “briefly discussed.”.He would only say the discussion was “interesting.”

Talk about a larger than life euphemism. Moscow is extremely uneasy over the possibility of a destabilization of Iran that allows a free transit of jihadis from the Caspian to the Caucasus.

Which brings us to the heart of the matter. Diplomatic sources – from Russia and Iran – confirm, off the record, there have been secret talks among the three pillars of Eurasian integration – Russia, China and Iran – about Chinese and Russian guarantees in the event the Trump administration’s drive to strangle Tehran to death takes an ominous turn.

This is being discussed at the highest levels in Moscow and Beijing. The bottom line: Russia-China won’t allow Iran to be destroyed.

But it’s quite understandable that Ushakov wouldn’t let that information slip through a mere press briefing.

Wang Yi and other deals

On multiple fronts, what was not disclosed by Ushakov is way more fascinating than what’s now on the record. There’s absolutely no way Russian hypersonic weapons were not also discussed, as well as China’s intermediate-range missiles capable of reaching any US military base encircling or containing China.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, third right, meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, center left, in Sochi on 14 May 2019. Photo: AFP / Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service / Anadolu

The real deal was, in fact, not Putin-Pompeo or Pompeo-Lavrov in Sochi. It was actually Lavrov-Wang Yi (the Chinese Foreign Minister), the day before in Moscow.

A US investment banker doing business in Russia told me: “Note how Pompeo ran like mad to Sochi. We are frightened and overstretched.”

Diplomats later remarked: “Pompeo looked solemn afterwards. Lavrov sounded very diplomatic and calm.” It’s no secret in Moscow’s top diplomatic circles that the Chinese Politburo overruled President Xi Jinping’s effort to find an accommodation to Trump’s tariff offensive. The tension was visible in Pompeo’s demeanor.

In terms of substance, it’s remarkable how Lavrov and Wang Yi talked about, literally, everything: Syria, Iran, Venezuela, the Caspian, the Caucasus, New Silk Roads (BRI), Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), missiles, nuclear proliferation.

Or as Lavrov diplomatically put it: “In general, Russia-China cooperation is one of the key factors in maintaining the international security and stability, establishing a multipolar world order. . . . Our states cooperate closely in various multilateral organizations, including the UN, G20, SCO, BRICS and RIC [Russia, India, China trilateral forum], we are working on aligning the integration potential of the EAEU and the Belt and Road Initiative, with potentially establishing [a] larger Eurasian partnership.”

The strategic partnership is in sync on Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan – they want a solution brokered by the SCO. And on North Korea, the message could not have been more forceful.

After talking to Wang Yi, Lavrov stressed that contacts between Washington and North Korea “proceeded in conformity with the road map that we had drafted together with China, from confidence restoration measures to further direct contacts.”

This is a frank admission that Pyongyang gets top advice from the Russia-China strategic partnership. And there’s more: “We hope that at a certain point a comprehensive agreement will be achieved on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and on the creation of a system of peace and security in general in Northeast Asia, including concrete firm guarantees of North Korea’s security.”

Translation: Russia and China won’t back down on guaranteeing North Korea’s security. Lavrov said: “Such guarantees will be not easy to provide, but this is an absolutely mandatory part of a future agreement. Russia and China are prepared to work on such guarantees.”

Reset, maybe?

The indomitable Maria Zakharova, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, may have summed it all up. A US-Russia reset may even, eventually, happen. Certainly, it won’t be of the Hillary Clinton kind, especially when current CIA director Gina Haspel is shifting most of the agency’s resources towards Iran and Russia.

Top Russian military analyst Andrei Martyanov was way more scathingRussia won’t break with China, because the US “doesn’t have any more a geopolitical currency to ‘buy’ Russia – she is out of [the] price range for the US.”

That left Ushakov with his brave face, confirming there may be a Trump-Putin meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka next month.

“We can organize a meeting ‘on the go’ with President Trump. Alternatively, we can sit down for a more comprehensive discussion.”

Under the current geopolitical incandescence, that’s the best rational minds can hope for.

 

Iran Squeezed Between Imperial Psychos and European Cowards

By Pepe Escobar – with permission and cross posted with Consortium News

What Putin and Pompeo did not talk about

The Trump administration unilaterally cheated on the 2015 multinational, UN-endorsed JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal. It has imposed an illegal, worldwide financial and energy blockade on all forms of trade with Iran — from oil and gas to exports of iron, steel, aluminum and copper. For all practical purposes, and in any geopolitical scenario, this is a declaration of war.

Successive U.S. governments have ripped international law to shreds; ditching the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is only the latest instance. It doesn’t matter that Tehran has fulfilled all its commitments to the deal — according to UN inspectors. Once the leadership in Tehran concluded that the U.S. sanctions tsunami is fiercer than ever, it decided to begin partially withdrawing from the deal.

President Hassan Rouhani was adamant: Iran has not left the JCPOA — yet. Tehran’s measures are legal under the framework of articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA — and European officials were informed in advance. But it’s clear the EU3 (Germany, France, Britain), who have always insisted on their vocal support for the JCPOA, must work seriously to alleviate the U.S.-provoked economic disaster to Iran if Tehran has any incentive to continue to abide by the agreement.

Protests in front of former U.S. embassy in Tehran after U.S. decision to withdraw from JCPOA, May 8, 2018. (Hossein Mersadi via Wikimedia Commons)

Russia and China — the pillars of Eurasia integration, to which Iran adheres — support Tehran’s position. This was discussed extensively in Moscow by Sergey Lavrov and Iran’s Javad Zarif, perhaps the world’s top two foreign ministers.

At the same time, it’s politically naïve to believe the Europeans will suddenly grow a backbone.

The comfortable assumption in Berlin, Paris and London was that Tehran could not afford to leave the JCPOA even if it was not receiving any of the economic rewards promised in 2015. Yet now the EU3 are facing the hour of truth.

It’s hard to expect anything meaningful coming from an enfeebled Chancellor Angela Merkel, with Berlin already targeted by Washington’s trade ire; a Brexit-paralyzed Britain; and a massively unpopular President Emmanuel Macron in France already threatening to impose his own sanctions if Tehran does not agree to limit its ballistic missile program. Tehran will never allow inspections over its thriving missile industry – and this was never part of the JCPOA to begin with.

As it stands, the EU3 are not buying Iranian oil. They are meekly abiding by the U.S. banking and oil/gas sanctions — which are now extended to manufacturing sectors — and doing nothing to protect Iran from its nasty effects. The implementation of INSTEX, the SWIFT alternative for trade with Iran, is languishing. Besides expressing lame “regrets” about the U.S. sanctions, the EU3 are de facto playing the game on the side of U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates; and by extension against Russia, China and Iran.

Rise of the Imperial Psychos

As Tehran de facto kicked the ball to the European court, both EU3 options are dire. To meaningfully defend the JCPOA will invite a ballistic reaction from the Trump administration. To behave like poodles — the most probable course of action — means emboldening even more the psychopaths doubling as imperial functionaries bent on a hot war against Iran at all costs; Koch brothers Big Oil asset and enraptured evangelist, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and paid Mujahideen-e Khalq asset and notorious intel manipulator, National Security Advisor John Bolton.

The Pompeo-Bolton gangster maneuver is hardly Bismarck’s Realpolitik. It consists of relentlessly pushing Tehran to make a mistake, any mistake, in terms of “violating” its obligations under the JCPOA, so that this may be sold to gullible American public opinion as the proverbial “threat” to the “rules-based order” doubling as a casus belli.

There’s one thing the no-holds-barred U.S. economic war against Iran has managed to achieve: internal unity in the Islamic Republic. Team Rouhani’s initial aim for the JCPOA was to open up to Western trade (trade with Asia was always on) and somewhat curtail the power of the IRGC, or Revolutionary Guards, which control vast sectors of the Iranian economy.

Washington’s economic war proved instead the IRGC was right all along, echoing the finely-tuned geopolitical sentiment of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who always emphasized the Americans cannot be trusted, ever.

And as much as Washington has branded the IRGC a “terrorist organization,” Tehran replied in kind, branding CENTCOM the same.

Independent Persian Gulf oil traders dismiss the notion that the kleptocrat House of Saud — de facto run by Jared “of Arabia” Kushner’s Whatsapp pal Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the Saudi  crown prince – holds up to 2.5 million barrels of oil a day in spare capacity capable of replacing Iran’s 2 million barrels of exports (out of 3.45 million of total daily production). The House of Saud seems more interested in hiking oil prices for Asian customers.

London protests at Saudi bombing of Yemen. March 2018. (Alisdare Hickson via Flickr)

Faulty Blockade

Washington’s energy trade blockade of Iran is bound to fail.

China will continue to buy its 650,000 barrels a day – and may even buy more. Multiple Chinese companies trade technology and industrial services for Iranian oil.

Pakistan, Iraq and Turkey — all bordering Iran — will continue to buy Iranian high-quality light crude by every method of payment (including gold) and transportation available, formal or informal. Baghdad’s trade relationship with Tehran will continue to thrive.

As economic suffocation won’t suffice, Plan B is — what else — the threat of a hot war.

It’s by now established that the info, in fact rumors, about alleged Iranian maneuvers to attack U.S. interests in the Gulf was relayed to Bolton by the Mossad, at the White House, with Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat personally briefing Bolton.

Everyone is aware of the corollary: a “reposition of assets” (in Pentagonese) — from the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group deployment to four B-52 bombers landing in Al Udeid Air base in Qatar, all part of a “warning” to Iran.

A pre-war roaring crescendo now engulfs the Lebanese front as well as the Iranian front.

Reasons for Psychotic Rage

Iran’s GDP is similar to Thailand’s, and its military budget is similar to Singapore’s. Bullying Iran is a geopolitical and geo-economic absurdity. Iran may be an emerging Global South actor — it could easily be a member of the G20 — but can never be construed as a “threat” to the U.S.

Yet Iran provokes psychopathic imperial functionaries to a paroxysm of rage for three serious reasons. Neocons never mind that trying to destroy Iraq cost over $6 trillion — and it was a major war crime, a political disaster, and an economic abyss all rolled into one. Trying to destroy Iran will cost untold trillions more.

The most glaring reason for the irrational hatred is the fact the Islamic Republic is one of the very few nations on the planet consistently defying the hegemon — for four decades now.

The second reason is that Iran, just like Venezuela — and this is a combined war front — have committed the supreme anathema; trading on energy bypassing the petrodollar, the foundation stone of U.S. hegemony.

The third (invisible) reason is that to attack Iran is to disable emerging Eurasia integration, just like using NSA spying to ultimately put Brazil in the bag was an attack on Latin American integration.

The non-stop hysteria over whether President Donald Trump is being maneuvered into war on Iran by his pet psychopaths – well, he actually directed Iran to “Call me” — eludes the Big Picture. As shown before, a possible shut down of the Strait of Hormuz, whatever the reasons, would be like a major meteor impact on the global economy. And that would inevitably translate as no Trump reelection in 2020.

The Strait of Hormuz would never need to be blocked if all the oil Iran is able to export is bought by China, other Asian clients and even Russia — which could relabel it. But Tehran wouldn’t blink on blocking Hormuz if faced with total economic strangulation.

According to a dissident U.S. intel expert, “the United States is at a clear disadvantage in that if the Strait of Hormuz is shut the U.S. collapses. But if the U.S. can divert Russia from defending Iran, then Iran can be attacked and Russia will have accomplished nothing, as the neocons do not want detente with Russia and China. Trump does want detente but the Deep State does not intend to permit it.”

Assuming this scenario is correct, the usual suspects in the United States government are trying to divert Putin from the Strait of Hormuz question while keeping Trump weakened, as the neocons proceed 24/7 on the business of strangling Iran. It’s hard to see Putin falling for this not exactly elaborate trap.

Not Bluffing

So what happens next? Professor Mohammad Marandi at the Faculty of World Studies of the University of Tehran offers quite a sobering perspective: “After 60 days Iran will push things even further. I don’t think the Iranians are bluffing. They will also be pushing back at the Saudis and the Emiratis by different means.”

Marandi, ominously, sees “further escalation” ahead:

“Iranians have been preparing for war with the Unites States ever since the Iraq invasion in 2003. After what they’ve seen in Libya, in Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, they know that the Americans and Europeans are utterly brutal. The whole shore of the Persian Gulf on the Iranian side and the Gulf of Oman is full of tunnels and underground high-tech missiles. The Persian Gulf is full of ships equipped with highly developed sea-to-sea missiles. If there is real war, all the oil and gas facilities in the region will be destroyed, all the tankers will be destroyed.”

And if that show comes to pass, Marandi regards the Strait of Hormuz as the “sideshow”:

“The Americans will be driven out of Iraq. Iraq exports 4 million barrels of oil a day; that would probably come to an end, through strikes and other means. It would be catastrophic for the Americans. It would be catastrophic for the world – and for Iran as well. But the Americans would simply not win.”

So as Marandi explains it — and Iranian public opinion now largely agrees — the Islamic Republic has leverage because they know “the Americans can’t afford to go to war. Crazies like Pompeo and Bolton may want it, but many in the establishment don’t.”

Tehran may have developed a modified MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) framework as leverage, mostly to push Trump ally MbS to cool down. “Assuming,” adds Marandi, “the madmen don’t get the upper hand, and if they do, then it’s war. But for the time being, I thinks that’s highly unlikely.”

Guided-missile destroyer USS Porter transits Strait of Hormuz, May 2012. (U.S. Navy/Alex R. Forster)

All Options on the Table?

In Cold War 2.0 terms, from Central Asia to the Eastern Mediterranean and from the Indian Ocean to the Caspian Sea, Tehran is able to count on quite a set of formal and informal alliances. That not only centers on the Beirut-Damascus-Baghdad-Tehran-Herat axis, but also includes Turkey and Qatar. And most important of all, the top actors on the Eurasian integration chessboard: the Russia and China in strategic partnership.

When Zarif met Lavrov last week in Moscow, they discussed virtually everything: Syria (they negotiate together in the Astana, now Nur-Sultan process), the Caspian, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (of which Iran will become a member), the JCPOA and Venezuela.

The Trump administration was dragged kicking and screaming to meet Kim Jong-Un at the same table because of the DPRK’s intercontinental ballistic missile tests. And then Kim ordered extra missile tests because, in his own words, as quoted by KCNA, “genuine peace and security of the country are guaranteed only by the strong physical force capable of defending its sovereignty.”

Global South Watching

The overwhelming majority of Global South nations are watching the U.S. neocon offensive to ultimately strangle “the Iranian people”, aware more than ever that Iran may be bullied to extinction because it does not posses a nuclear deterrent. The IRGC has reached the same conclusion.

That would mean the death of the JCPOA – and the Return of the Living Dead of “all options on the table.”

But then, there’ll be twists and turns in the Art of the (Demented) Deal. So what if, and it’s a major “if”, Donald Trump is being held hostage by his pet psychopaths?

Let The Dealer speak:

“We hope we don’t have to do anything with regard to the use of military force…We can make a deal, a fair deal. … We just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons. Not too much to ask. And we would help put them back into great shape. They’re in bad shape right now. I look forward to the day where we can actually help Iran. We’re not looking to hurt Iran. I want them to be strong and great and have a great economy… We have no secrets. And they can be very, very strong, financially. They have great potential.”

Then again, Ayatollah Khamenei said: the Americans cannot be trusted, ever.

Pompeo from Russia: US Doesn’t Seek War with Iran

By Staff, Agencies 

Despite the growing tension, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that his country does not seek a war with Iran.

Speaking in Russia, Pompeo said the “US was looking for Iran to behave like a normal country but would respond if its interests were attacked.”

In another development, Spain withdrew a frigate from a US-led naval group in the Gulf as tensions between Washington and Tehran rose.

Pompeo, who held talks with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Russian city of Sochi, said the US “fundamentally” did not seek a conflict with Iran.

“We have also made clear to the Iranians that if American interests are attacked, we will most certainly respond in an appropriate fashion.”

The talks between Pompeo and Lavrov to help improve ties between Washington and Moscow have underlined continuing differences.

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RussiaGate 2.0 and The Plan to Impeach President Trump

Global Research, May 05, 2019

In the wake of RussiaGate 1.0, will there be a shift in US foreign policy involving a decisive change in US-Russia relations?

Is the Witch-hunt over? 

Or is RussiaGate 2.0 in the making? 

On March 3, Trump and Putin held a telephone conversation. They spoke for an hour and a half.

The discussions were described by Trump as “positive”.

Trump “unofficially” discussed “The Russian Hoax” with Vladimir Putin. “Very Productive Talk”.

“Getting along with Russia and China, getting along with all of them is a very good thing, not a bad thing, it a good thing, it’s a positive thing,” (to reporters on May 3)

Trump confirmed that he was open to negotiations on reducing the stock of nuclear weapons with both Moscow and Beijing in the context of a trilateral deal (US-Russia-China). Indelibly, such an agreement could potentially destabilize Trump’s 1.2 trillion dollar nuclear weapons program. It could also have an impact on the movement of Aerospace and Defense (A & D) stocks, which experienced a market bonanza in 2018.

The lifting of sanctions on North Korea, Ukraine and the crisis in Venezuela were also discussed.

The Trump-Putin telephone initiative was taken without prior consultation with John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, who have systematically blocked the restoration of normal dialogue and diplomatic exchange with Moscow.

Is this part of an unfolding internal battle between Trump and his national security advisers, not to mention Vice President Mike Pence? (image right).

President Trump’s overture to the Kremlin visibly contradicts both Bolton and Pompeo who are threatening president Maduro,  pressuring him to leave Venezuela and hand over the presidency to Guaido.  According to Trump:

“He [Putin] is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela,”

It is worth noting that two days prior to the Trump-Putin telephone conversation, Pompeo told Lavrov (also in a telephone conversation) that

“the intervention by Russia and Cuba is destabilizing for Venezuela and for the U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship.”

In a bitter irony, this (telephone) statement by Pompeo was made on the same day (May 1st) as the failed “military coup” in Caracas.

Will Trump’s dialogue with Putin have a bearing on the Bolton-Pompeo threats directed against the Maduro government? Was Trump’s call to Putin (May 3) meant to override Pompeo’s overt threats (May 1st) to intervene militarily in Venezuela?

Lavrov and Pompeo are set to meet early this week in Finland. Will Pompeo, a former army officer, Christian evangelical and for a short while a former-CIA director change his tone and approach following Trump’s telephone conversation with Putin? Unlikely. Mike Pompeo has been the architect of numerous foreign policy blunders since his appointment by Trump first as CIA director in January 2017 and then as Secretary of State.

The presumption of the mainstream media (which borders on ridicule) is that Donald Trump as president of the United States should have sought the green-light from Bolton-Pompeo. The fact of the matter is that these two individuals are deliberately involved in sabotaging US relations with a large number countries:

The conversation, which Trump went on to describe as “very positive,” appeared to be yet another example of Trump taking Putin’s claims at face value despite contrary evidence from his own governmentThe White House national security adviser, John Bolton, and U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo both said earlier this week that the Kremlin talked Maduro out of leaving Venezuela after U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido attempted to end his regime on Tuesday by calling for a military uprising. (emphasis added)

RussiaGate 2.0

How is this internal confrontation going to evolve? Who is calling the shots at the White House?

Pompeo and Bolton are an obstacle to normalizing diplomatic relations with Russia. They are dangerous individuals, psychopathic in their understanding of global geopolitics, influential with regard to sanctions and  military intervention. They are also misinformed with regard to the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, which they consider as peace-making bombs.

Both Bolton and Pompeo were instrumental in the sabotage of the latest US-North Korea summit in Hanoi.

Impeachment

Despite the release of the Mueller report, the impeachment campaign prevails. Immediately following the Putin-Trump telephone conversation, the campaign to impeach Trump has gone into high gear.

The Atlantic, March 2019

Will The Kremlin Intervene in the 2020 elections? 

Another absurd proposition: The US media is now intimating that Trump’s conversation with Putin is setting the stage for Kremlin intervention in the 2020 elections:

“Mr. President, did you tell him not to meddle in the next election?” a reporter asked.

“Excuse me, I’m talking, I’m answering this question. You are very rude. So we had a good conversation about several different things,” Trump told the reporter.

When asked again about Russian interference in future U.S. elections, Trump said: “We didn’t discuss that.”

According to the Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro

“President Donald Trump wants Russia to interfere on his behalf again in 2020”.

“All of a sudden, he’s willing to take the word of a leader like Vladimir Putin who, time and again, has shown himself to be adversarial to the United States and to be dishonest,” .

In turn, former Vice President Joe Biden, who is now candidate for the 2020 presidential elections has stated:

 “that Congress would have “no alternative” but to impeach President Trump if his administration seeks to block its investigations of issues raised in the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference.” (WaPo, April 30, 2019)

See Trump’s press conference 


ANNEX.

The Russian embassy in the US on the Trump-Putin Telephone Exchange

Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the United States of America Donald Trump, at the initiative of the American side.

The current state and prospects of bilateral relations were discussed with a focus on economic cooperation. The two presidents spoke in favour of developing mutually beneficial trade and investment relations. They affirmed their shared commitment to step up dialogue in various areas, including on issues of strategic stability.

Vladimir Putin informed Donald Trump of the key results of his April 25 meeting in Vladivostok with Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK Kim Jong-un, stressing that Pyongyang’s good-faith fulfilment of its commitments should be accompanied by reciprocal steps to ease the sanctions pressure on North Korea. Both parties noted the importance of consistent progress towards denuclearisation and achieving long-term normalisation on the Korean Peninsula.

The situation in Ukraine was touched on in the context of the recent presidential election. Vladimir Putin emphasised that the new leadership in Kiev should take real steps to implement the Minsk Agreements, which are critical to resolving the internal Ukrainian conflict.

While exchanging views on the situation around Venezuela, the President of Russia underscored that only the Venezuelans themselves have the right to determine the future of their country, whereas outside interference in the country’s internal affairs and attempts to change the government in Caracas by force undermine prospects for a political settlement of the crisis.

It was agreed to maintain contacts at various levels.

The two heads of state expressed satisfaction with the business-like and constructive nature of the conversation.
——————

“The conversation between Trump and Putin lasted for almost 1.5 hours,” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
More:
http://tass.com/world/1056870

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