IRAN REJECTS IRAQI-US “COSMETIC SURGERY,” BUT US-IRAN COOPERATION IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE 1/6

Posted on  by Elijah J Magnier

By Elijah J. Magnier:

Following the assassination of Brigadier General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps – Quds Brigade, the Supreme Leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei vowed before the world, but above all for his allies, that the US would pay the price by leaving West Asia. What Sayyed Khamenei said reflects his opinion and wishes as a Supreme Leader. These wishes do not always coincide with the State of Iran’s behaviour, which must build a relationship with other states according to Iran’s national interests. There is always a flexible line between what the Leader of the Revolution says and how he would like the Iranian government to act. 

However, when Sayyed Khamenei noted that no direct meetings would be accepted unless the US withdraw the harsh sanctions, he drew an unbreakable line the government will have to stick to, without necessarily including all sanctions but certainly the most important ones. Hence, Vienna’s indirect dialogue between the Iranians and those who signed the JCPOA (nuclear deal) but did not withdraw unilaterally as former President Donald Trump did.

Although Sayyed Ali Khamenei announced no time frame for the withdrawal of all US troops from West Asia, there is no doubt that Iran is ready to sit at the same table as its enemy if the outcome could help ease the economic situation in Iran. To Iran, the US administration, regardless of whether who sits at the top of its pyramid is republican or democrat, is not trustworthy. It can revoke international agreements, blatantly disregarding international law. However, in many circumstances, Iran’s supreme Leaders Ayatollah Khomeini and Sayyed Ali Khamenei have allowed the state to meet the Americans so as to favour Iran’s interests even if, from Iran’s perspective, the shadow of war with the US will always hover over the country as long as American forces are in the area. 

The Iranian officials are aware that the Biden administration faces many domestic and foreign challenges, with Russia and China as urgencies. However, for Tehran, its well-being represents the first urgency, and it is unwilling to understand the range of Biden’s priorities. This is why Tehran will not allow the US to rest in Iraq and why it continues to support its own allies in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. 

In Iraq, officials are promoting some “cosmetic surgery” to apply to the US forces’ presence, as a compromise between what Iran wants and where Iraqis believe their interests lie. Suggesting replacing the US troops with a “European NATO” is a way to tell Biden’s administration that withdrawal is not really on the Iraqi agenda. With or without a nuclear deal, the US can only dream of a peaceful Mesopotamia for its forces in the months to come if the withdrawal is not reached or replaced by a “European NATO”. 

However, total compliance and return to the nuclear agreement will undoubtedly slow down the Iraqi resistance’s aggression against the US forces, which, more than ever, will not abandon Mesopotamia to China, Russia and Iran…

The Yankees Are Coming Home: The Taliban Won. Get Over It

American soldiers can still win wars, but it has to be a real war where there is something genuine at stake, like protecting one’s home and family.

By Philip Giraldi

Global Research, April 09, 2021

Strategic Culture Foundation 8 April 2021

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).

***

It hardly made the evening news, but the New York Times reported last week that after twenty years of fighting the Taliban are confident that they will fully control Afghanistan before too long whether or not the United States decides to leave some kind of residual force in the country after May 1st. The narrative is suggestive of The Mouse that Roared, lacking only Peter Sellers to put the finishing touches on what has to be considered a great humiliation for the U.S., which has a “defense” budget that is larger than the combined military spending of the next seven countries in order of magnitude. Those numbers include both Russia and China. The Taliban, on the other hand, have no military budget to speak of. That enormous disparity, un-reflected in who has won and lost, has to nurture concerns that it is the world’s only superpower, admittedly self-proclaimed, which is incapable of actually winning a war against anyone.

In fact, some recent wargaming has suggested that the United States would lose in a non-nuclear conflict with China alone based on the obsolescence of expensive and vulnerable weapons systems that the Pentagon relies upon, such as carrier groups. Nations like China, Iran and Russia that have invested in sophisticated and much cheaper missile systems to offset U.S. advantages have reportedly spent their money wisely. If the Biden foreign policy and military experts, largely embroiled in diversifying the country, choose to take on China, there may be no one left around to pick up the pieces.

Those who are warning of the apparent ineffectiveness of the U.S. armed forces in spite of their global presence in more than one thousand bases point most commonly to the historical record to make their case. Korea, fought under United Nations auspices, was a stalemate, with the peninsula divided to this day and a substantial American military force continuing to be a presence along the DMZ to enforce the armistice that not quite ended the war. Vietnam was a defeat, resulting in more than 58,000 Americans dead as well as an estimated 3 million Vietnamese, most of whom were civilians. The real lesson learned from Vietnam was that fighting on someone else’s turf where you have no real interests or stake in the outcome is a fool’s game, but the Pentagon instead worked to fix the mechanics in weapons and training at great cost without addressing why people fight wars in the first place. The other lesson was that the United States’ military was perfectly willing to lie to the country’s civilian leadership to expand the war and keep it going, a performance that was repeated in 2001 with the “Iraq is supporting terrorists and will have nuclear weapons” lies and also with the current crop of false analogies used to keep thousands of Americans in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

As a veteran of the Vietnam War army, I can recall sitting around with fellow enlisted men reading “Stars & Stripes,” the exclusive in-house-for-the-military newspaper that was covering the war. The paper quoted a senior officer who opined that the Soviets (as they were at that time) were really envious of the combat experience that the United States Army was obtaining in Vietnam. We all laughed. That same officer probably had a staff position away from the fighting but we draftees knew well that the war was a very bloody mistake while he may have tested his valor post-retirement working for Lockheed-Martin. The “Soviets” in any event demonstrated just how much they envied the experience of combat when they fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s, eventually withdrawing with their tails between their legs just as the U.S. had done in Vietnam after they lost 15,000 men. The “Grave of Empires,” indeed.History: Reversing the Vietnam Verdict

Since Vietnam there have been a number of small wars in places like Panama and Grenada, but the global war on terror has been a total disaster for American arms. Afghanistan, as it was for the Russians, is the ulcer that keeps on bleeding until it ends as a major defeat for the United States with the Taliban fully in control, as they are now predicting. Likewise, the destruction of a secular Iraq, regime change in Libya, and a continuing war against a non-threatening Syria have all failed to make Americans either safer or more prosperous. Iran is next, apparently, if the Joe Biden Administration has its way, and relations with major adversaries Russia and China have sunk even lower than they were during Donald Trump’s time as president. The White House has recently sent a shipload of offensive weapons to Kiev and the Ukrainian government has repeated its intention to retake Crimea from Russia, a formula for a new military disaster that could easily escalate into a major war. What is particularly regrettable is the fact that the United States has no compelling national interest in encouraging open warfare between Moscow and Kiev, a conflict that it will be unable to avoid as its is supplying Ukraine with weaponry.

There was almost no discussion of America’s wars during the recent election. One should take note, however, of a recent article by former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb that appeared on National Review which seeks to provide an explanation for “The Real Reason the U.S. Can’t Win Wars Anymore” in spite of the fact that it is “the most powerful country in the history of the world.” To be sure, Kolb largely blames the policymakers for the defeat in Vietnam, aided and abetted by a culture of silence in the military where many officers knew that the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which escalated the conflict, was a fraud but chose to say or do nothing. He also observes that the war itself was unwinnable for various reasons, including the observation by many working and middle class Americans that they were little more than cannon fodder while the country’s elites either dodged the draft or exploited their status to obtain national guard or reserve commissions that were known to be mechanism to avoid Vietnam. Kolb notes that “…the four most recent presidents who could have served in Vietnam avoided that war and the draft by dubious means. Bill Clinton pretended to join the Army ROTC; George W. Bush used political connections to get into the Air National Guard, when President Johnson made it clear that the reserve component would not be activated to fight the war; Donald Trump, of course, had his family physician claim he had bone spurs, (Trump himself cannot remember which foot); and Joe Biden claimed that the asthma he had in high school prevented him from serving even though he brags about his athletic exploits while in high school.”

Kolb also reveals how America’s presumed prowess on the battlefield has distorted its “democracy building” endeavors to such an extent that genuine national interests have been ignored. When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, success in overthrowing the Taliban was derived from critical assistance from Iran, which correctly regarded the extremist Sunni group as an enemy. But the Bush White House, far from showing gratitude, soon thereafter added Iran to its “axis of evil” list. A golden opportunity was wasted to repair a relationship which has poisoned America’s presence in the Middle East ever since.

One might add something else to Kolb’s assessment of failure at war. Most American soldiers have been and are proud of their service and consider it an honor to defend their country but the key word is “defend.” There was no defending going on in Vietnam nor in Afghanistan, which did not attack the U.S. and was willing to turn over Osama Bin Laden if the White House could provide evidence that he was involved in 9/11. Nor was there anything defensive about Obama’s destruction of Libya and the decades long “secret” wars to overthrow the Syrian and Iranian governments. Soldiers are trained to fight and obey orders but that does not mean that they can no longer observe and think. Twenty years of “Reconstruction” duty in Afghanistan is not defending the United States and the morale of American soldiers in the combined Democratic and Republican Parties’ plan to reconstruct the world is not a sufficient motivator if one is being asked to put one’s life on the line. Sure, American soldiers can still win wars, but it has to be a real war where there is something genuine at stake, like protecting one’s home and family. That is what the people who run Washington, very few of whom are veterans and most of whom first ask “But what’s in it for me?” fail to understand.

*

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

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is https://councilforthenationalinterest.orgaddress is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org

He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Raging Twenties Book Review – Pepe Escobar – the philosopher, the court jester, the mystic, the historian.

Raging Twenties Book Review – Pepe Escobar – the philosopher, the court jester, the mystic, the historian.

April 08, 2021

By Larchmonter445 for the Saker Blog

Early on in the introduction to “Raging Twenties”, Pepe Escobar points to the change, the disruption that confronts the Established Elites who for 30 years ruled the globe with a free hand: “The Empire we have been taught to accept as a fact of life is irretrievably losing its leadership position—and will have to deal with much pain implicit in the acceptance of an increasingly multipolar world.”

Escobar’s concept from “Raging Twenties” that impressed is: “We are all being carried forward through the tides by a harpooned whale, with no idea how, where, or when our journey ends. Like Melville’s Ishmael, we’ve got to stay cool as we relentlessly fight the winds of fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that the expiring system manipulates non-stop.”

This is the vision of Pepe’s book “Raging Twenties”, a volume of works dedicated to the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on people, governments and world affairs, especially the macro world economy.

Escobar is a man of many journeys, an adventurer, explorer, mapper and story-teller. For decades he has traveled the capitals of the globe and trekked the backroads of the third and fourth worlds more than any writer in our lifetime.

His professional vocation is understanding the human condition and transmitting via his writings that understanding of facts, people, events and situations. He has a unique quality to absorb information he personally gathers, demonstrating his grasp of geopolitical, philosophical and historical context, from ancient to modern.

Focusing on this decade, the “Raging Twenties”, a collection of Pepe’s definitive prose, is a “voice-over” that narrates the change in our world from a single-polar hegemon to a multi-polar world order in the time of a pandemic. He teases apart the complexities that often are unknown, misunderstood or misconstrued. His “voice” is pleasing though authoritative, yet instantly familiar. Writing that talks, as if it were an audio track, is his style.

“For the first time in two millennia, China is able to combine the dynamism of political and economic expansion both on the continental and maritime realms, something that the civilization-state did not experience since the short expeditionary stretch led by Admiral Zheng He in the Indian Ocean in the early 15th century. Eurasia, in the recent past, was under Western and Soviet colonization. Now it’s going all-out multipolar—a series of complex, evolving permutations led by Russia-China-Iran-Turkey-India-Pakistan-Kazakhstan.”

Escobar is a man comfortable in any of the five civilizations on Earth. He moves easily in the West, China, Russia, India or Iran, and most parts neighboring these giant cultures. He presents his narratives, tales of his travels and meetings in differing performances. Escobar has mastered four story-telling voices–philosopher, court jester, mystic, historian. He moves through these presenters seamlessly, embellishing his writing with intellectual depth and artful illumination.

In Chapter 8, “How the Riddler may teach us to fight a disease”, we perceive the Philosopher investigating the nature of our universe through the eyes of Heraclitus, the Riddler. “In his heart of hearts a contemptuous aristocrat, this master of paradox despised all so-called wise men and the mobs that adored them. Heraclitus was the definitive precursor of social distancing.”

“Heraclitus was a Taoist and a Buddhist. If opposites are ultimately the same, this implies the unity of all things. Heraclitus even foresaw the reaction we should have towards COVID-19: ‘It is disease that makes health sweet and good, hunger satiety, weariness rest.’ The Tao would approve it. In the Heraclitus framework of serial cosmic recycling, disease gives health its full significance.”

The Court Jester authors Chapter 5, entitled “We are all Stoics now”. Imagine a Court Jester flowing with Stoicism as pop culture in Ancient Greece. Pepe brings it to you. Escobar marks the first punk in History, Diogenes the Cynic. “It’s enlightening to know that the upper classes of the Roman empire, their 1%, regarded Zeno’s insights as quite solid, while—predictably—deriding the first punk in History, Diogenes the Cynic, who masturbated in the public square and carried a lantern trying to find a real man.”

He follows the transition from Greece to Rome as the ideas of the Stoics migrate over the centuries and better suit the Roman minds of Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, the trio we view as role models of Stoicism.

“The Stoics were very big on ataraxia (freedom of disturbance) as the ideal state of our mind. The wise man cannot possibly be troubled because the key to wisdom is knowing what not to care about.”

Have you ever read such a ‘take’ on Stoics, Cynics, Epicureans, Humanists, and Skeptics? Pepe ties it into the impact of the pandemic.

“Perhaps the ultimate Stoic secret is the distinction by Epictetus between things that are under our control—our thoughts and desires—and what is not: our bodies, our families, our property, our lot in life, all elements that the expansion of COVID-19 now put in check.”

“What the postmodern world retains from the Stoics is the notion of resigned acceptance—which makes total sense if the world really works according to their insights. If Fate—once again, Zeus, not the Christian God—rules the world, and practically everything that happens is out of our hands, then realpolitik means to accept “everything to happen as it actually does happen”, in the immortal words of Epictetus. Thus, it’s pointless to get excited about stuff we cannot change. And it’s pointless to be attached to things that we will eventually lose. But try selling this notion to the Masters of the Universe of financial capitalism.” You can hear Pepe’s laughter.

“So, The Way—according to the Stoics—is to own only the essentials, and to travel light. Lao Tzu would approve it. After all, anything we may lose is more or less gone already—thus we are already protected from the worst blows in life.”

As with each of the personas of Pepe we perceive in his collected work, he changes from one to another in mid-flight. The Court Jester can be seen and felt throughout “Raging Twenties”. Just take a tour of the Chapter Headings and the section sub-headings. Pepe does floor gymnastics, handstands and backflips, cartwheels and tumblesaults with terminology and labels. That big Escobar smile and hearty chest laugh abound: “Remember Pax Mongolica”, “The Sirens and La Dolce Vita”, “The Westlessness Myth”, “East is East, West is More”, “Barbarism With A Human Face”, “Enter The Triad”, “The City In A Time of Plague”, “Show Me Your Fragility”, “Barbarism Begins At Home”, “Flying Dragon, Crashing Eagle”, “Blake Meet Burroughs”.

The modern Mystic is with us in Chapter 10, “How Confucious, Buddha and The Tao Are Winning This War”, as well as the anchor chapter, “Eurasia, The Hegemon and the Three Sovereigns”. The Mystic appears most definitely in Chapter 25, a retrospective column Pepe chose to explore the digital ether that has wrapped around our brains. “Kim No-Vax Does Darpa” is a trip back into the early days of AI,3 research financed by Darpa, the teat that nearly all US computer scientists sought to suck. Reading this nostalgia spotlights the many dead-ends of US technology that generated the perverse present High-Tech Silicon Valley feudalism.

Travel with the Mystic to Venice, Chapter 3, “The Sirens and La Dolce Vita”. Pepe floats in Venice waterways to retrace selected steps with Ezra Pound. In “The Cantos”, we find The Sirens, sculptures that represent to Pound the beautiful culture, a time and place of the best which preceded a time (the present) of tawdry cheapness. The Mystic smoothly elides into “La Dolce Vita”, the Fellini film, that epitomizes the glitzy ugliness oncoming in the sixties. A period of trash culture that now envelopes the globe, foretold by Pound, embossed by Fellini and absorbed by us.

Pepe the Historian appears nearly everywhere in the pages of “Raging Twenties”. In a most clever Chapter 13, “Siren Call of A ‘System Leader’”, Pepe wends through the Mongol age of Genghis Khan, to the death of Kublai Khan and the end of that Empire right into the 21st Century where the USA Empire, like the last great Khan, faces China. However, China is a part of Eurasia, the vast resource of the multi-polar sovereigns China, Russia, Iran, India, their neighbors and friends, arrayed ready to construct a new world based on four civilizations, not an ideology like the failed Empire of the USA.

The Historian gathers from Thucydides and others regarding plagues. Pertinently, Escobar delivers the connection of the fall of empires and plagues as cause. “Predictably eyeing the Decline and Fall of the American Empire, a serious academic debate is raging around the working hypothesis of historian Kyle Harper, according to whom viruses and pandemics—especially the Justinian plague in the 6th century—led to the end of the Roman Empire.”

Escobar’s journalistic roots remain in real politic while consistently pointing out the gap between the twisted souls that feel the need to lie, cheat and murder to achieve their ends. With acerbic ink, he writes: “Those were the days when NATO, with full impunity, could bomb Serbia, miserably lose a war on Afghanistan, turn Libya into a militia hell and plot myriad interventions across the Global South. And of course, none of that had any connection whatsoever with the bombed and the invaded forced into becoming refugees in Europe.”

Pepe’s economic interest in Belt and Road and the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era opens our eyes to the real geo-political shifts. The pandemic has fractured world trade. “Soon we will be facing three major, interlocking debates: the management of the crisis, in many cases appalling; the search for future models; and the reconfiguration of the world-system.”

Peering over our Covid masks, we read Chapter 12, “How To Think Post-Planet Lockdown”. Pepe’s main insight remains valid: the state of exception has been completely normalized. And it gets worse: “A new despotism, which in terms of pervasive controls and cessation of every political activity, will be worse that the totalitarianisms we have known so far.”

“As dystopia and mass paranoia seem to be the law of the (bewildered) land, Michel Foucault’s analyses of biopolitics have never been so timely, as states across the world take over biopower—the control of people’s life and bodies.”

Pepe gives us, among many, Giorgio Agamben, who redoubles his analyses of science as the religion of our time: “The analogy with religion is taken literally; theologians declared that they could not clearly define what is God, but in his name they dictated rules of conduct to men and did not hesitate to burn heretics. Virologists admit they don’t know exactly what is a virus, but in its name they pretend to decide how human beings shall live.”

In the section, “Enter the triad”, Chapter 10, Pepe postulates: “I offer as a working hypothesis that the Asia triad of Confucius, Buddha and Lao Tzu has been absolutely essential in shaping the perception and serene response of hundreds of millions of people across various Asian nations to COVID-19—compared to the being is the greatest joy.” It also helps to know that “life is a series of natural and spontaneous choices. Don’t resist them—that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Buddhism runs in parallel to the Tao: “All conditioned things are impermanent—when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.” And to keep our vicissitudes in perspective, it helps to know that, “better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of things than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the rise and fall of things.”

Quo Vadis. Where are you marching?

Pepe shows us the way, the paths we are on. He offers, too, a pantheon of “travelers” who opine from the high clouds of history, from books on dusty shelves of libraries, from blogs and videos on digital platforms, all snatched by his rapier mind to weave affirmation into his ideas and analysis. In sum, a feast awaits the reader, taken as a banquet or a serial read chapter by chapter. Enjoy.

###

Where you can buy RAGING TWENTIES by Pepe Escobar

Nuclear Deal Committee Concludes Meeting, Iran Reiterates Call for Lifting US Ban

April 9, 2021

manar-09754580016179661313

Nuclear Agreement Joint Committee ended the second round of its 18th regular meeting Friday in the Austrian capital Vienna. After the meeting, the delegations of Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany, the European Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency agreed to hold the next meeting next Wednesday at the level of assistants to foreign ministers of member states.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for political affairs Abbas Araqchi says Tehran will not stop any of its nuclear-related activities until Washington lifts the whole sanctions and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Emphasizing on Iran’s principle stance on lifting of sanctions, Araqchi said that Tehran will not halt or even reduce the pace of its nuclear activities in particular in uranium enrichment sector.

The 20 percent enrichment of uranium is going forward even with the faster pace than the speed that the Iranian parliament envisaged in its law, he said, adding that 20 percent enriched uranium are being produced now.

The trend will go on until an accord will be reached, which will oblige the US to lift all of its sanctions, he stated, stressing that the whole sanctions should be lifted in one stage.

He further pointed to the negotiations with Europeans, Russia and China, noting that the claim that Iran is discussing with Europeans and they are holding talks with the Americans is not true, because the Iranian delegation in Vienna are negotiating with a set of current member states of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including the UK, France, Germany as well as Russia and China; then, they put forward the issue with the US in a way they know themselves.

Araqchi went on to say that there are signs that the Americans are reviewing their own stance and move forward to lift all sanctions, but the Iranian side is not still in a position to make a judgement, because the negotiations have not been finalized.

According to the Iranian diplomat, a long way is still ahead; although, the pace of negotiation is moving forward and the atmosphere of the talks are constructive.

Source: Al-Manar English Website and IRNA

Related News

THE DONBASS WAR OF 2021?

07.04.2021 

The Donbass War Of 2021?

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront.

Ever since assuming office, the Biden Administration has been probing countries it designated as America’s enemies for weaknesses through a variety of provocations. So far this approach has not had any successes. China plainly told Biden’s SecState Blinken to go packing, Iran is showing no eagerness to kowtow to Washington under new management, and Russia itself has stayed the course, brushing off verbal attacks and promising either in-kind or asymmetrical responses to any new chicaneries from Washington or Brussels.

That does not mean that Washington has acknowledged defeat. Unwilling to concede, it is liable to escalate a crisis situation elsewhere. Since Navalny’s perennial “poisonings”, “hunger strikes”, and “leg pains” have not had the desired effect on Western governments and his life and health are moreover quite secure in a Russian prison, so the prospect of a new war in Eastern Ukraine is back on the agenda, and the opponents of Nord Stream 2 now have two things to pray for: Aleksey Navalny’s death and a Russia-Ukraine war.

Zelensky on the Spot

The Russian government has made it clear on numerous occasions that it is adhering to the Minsk Agreements, will not abandon the Donbass, but at the same time will not escalate the situation out of the desire to minimize the damage to all concerned. In practical terms it means a continuation of “coercive diplomacy”. Russian military force will be used only if Ukraine attempts to create facts on the ground through offensive action. For that reason it is unlikely in the extreme that Russia will be the one to escalate first. It is worth remembering that both the summer 2014 campaign and the winter 2014/15 campaign were initiated by Kiev which first sent troops and bombers to suppress the then-peaceful protests against the Maidan and referenda to secede, and then to hope to quickly resolve the stalemate. Both operations ended in failure through the efforts of the hastily assembled and armed militias of the breakaway republics, with some “Northern Wind” military support that decimated Ukrainian forces.

Poroshenko survived the disasters that shredded the Ukrainian military thanks to the alliances he’s made with the nationalists while preparing for the Maidan. Zelensky’s position is considerably weaker and more vulnerable to the consequences of a military defeat. Having been elected on a promise to end the war in the Donbass, he has already badly disappointed his supporters on that score. But his transformation into a warhawk, perhaps best characterized by his awkward appearances on the front lines wearing an ill-fitting helmet and a remarkably short armor vest, has not earned him even grudging respect from the nationalists and neo-Nazis on whose shoulders much of Ukraine’s war effort rests. While Poroshenko could get out of many a tight spot with his “Cynical Baderite” jacket, Zelensky is now a very lonely person in Kiev, a hostage to the decisions of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council whose decisions he automatically signs, in contrast with Poroshenko who often simply ignored them.

In practice it means that Zelensky might be in process of being a scapegoat for Ukraine’s all-but-inevitable defeat at the hands of Russian forces hastening to aid the republics in the event of Ukraine’s military scoring early victories. Blackmail might be playing a role in Zelensky’s calculus too. There were persistent reports in March of an imminent release of a documentary implicating Zelensky’s office in the failure of Ukrainian intelligence operation to lure Wagner associates to Ukraine in order to imprison and try them. At the same time, if Zelensky sends his military to a defeat, his reputation will be gravely damaged, possibly to the point of forcing him to resign and even endangering his life. His nervous activity of the first week of April, including a total non-sequitur of a visit to NATO headquarters in order to plead for Ukraine’s quick admission to the alliance, is indicative of a man in a tight spot with no easy ways out.

Resistible Force Meets Immovable Object

Zelensky might be in a less anxious mood if he had a reliable military instrument to wield. The Ukrainian Armed Forces are not that instrument. While the Russian military entered 2014 rather unprepared for the prospect of high-intensity land warfare thanks to the Serdyukov reforms that made the brigade the main tactical unit, since that time much lost ground has been recovered through the reactivation of several divisions and armies, such as the First Guards Tank Army, and modernization of Land Forces’ equipment. Russia’s military today is a considerably more impressive force than it was seven years ago.

Meanwhile Ukraine’s armed forces stagnated. Unmodernized T-64 remains its most numerous main battle tank while production of light armored vehicles proceeds at a trickle. Considering that artillery has been the most active arm in the years of static warfare along the line of separation, Ukraine’s “god of war” remains in poor shape and is suffering from ammunition shortage. In the last decade, Ukraine has suffered seven major ammunition depot explosions, in addition to the tremendous expenditure of munitions during the 2014 and 2015 battles and the occasional escalations of shelling since. Since Ukraine is a failing state that cannot even maintain its crumbling civilian infrastructure, it is little wonder that it has failed to establish domestic munitions manufacture. It did receive some supplies of weapons and munitions from NATO member states which have stores of Soviet-pattern weapons themselves, most notably Bulgaria, but little in the way of heavy artillery munitions. Since Ukraine also does not manufacture artillery pieces, specifically the technology-intensive barrels, for either its tanks or howitzers, the existing artillery park is being gradually used up, and every shell fired not only diminishes existing reserves but also adds to the wear and tear of the artillery pieces. An effort to provide cheap indirect fire capabilities by procuring 120mm “Molot” mortars manufactured in a factory owned by Poroshenko did not live up to expectations. There have been several cases of these mortars bursting during live fire exercises, with dire consequences for their crews. And if a simple technology of a mortar cannot be mastered by Ukraine’s defense industry, what success can it have attempting more challenging tasks?

Nor is the human factor any better. To borrow Wellington’s characterization of his own soldiers, UAF rank and file are “scum of the earth, enlisted to drink.” Military service remains highly unpopular and attracts only those who cannot find lucrative employment in the civilian economy—or abroad. Draft evasion and bribery of military recruitment officials is widespread, leading the Rada to drastically increase penalties for such activities to include lengthy prison terms. Even if such measures do not result in an exodus of able-bodied males out of the country, they are hardly likely to fill the ranks with motivated recruits. In the first week of April 2021 alone, Ukrainian forces have lost on average one soldier a day to non-combat causes, which included alcohol and drug overdoses, careless handling of weapons, suicide, and murder. The single greatest killer of Ukrainian soldiers, however, are their own minefields, which have killed 57 soldiers and injured 126 between July 27, 2020 (the beginning of the last ceasefire) and April 3, 2021, a statistic indicating a very low level of training and discipline.

Units themselves remain understrength. Some of the brigades are short of 60% of enlisted personnel and 30% of officers. Troops’ low morale translated into not only irregular and erratic training but also into poor equipment maintenance habits. An inspection of the 59th Brigade whose results fell into the hands of Novorossia intelligence services revealed that as of March 2020, some 60% of the brigade’s heavy weapons and vehicles were either greatly behind their maintenance schedule or were altogether unserviceable. The brigade has not held any maneuvers because the fuel supplies delivered to its logistics units never made it to the actual tactical subunits, suggesting theft by brigade’s leadership.

Cossack Mace

For all of the above reasons, a Ukrainian military operation, even a limited one, seems unlikely in the immediate future. The very visible Ukrainian troop movements meant that no element of surprise could be achieved. The aim appears to have been to relocate sizable formations to the Donbass so as to provide them with an ability to launch a quick, almost no-warning attack in the future, after Novorossia’s vigilance has been dulled by months of alerts and provocations.

Unless other events intervene, the period of greatest danger will be the Cossack Mace exercise held during the summer of 2021. The aim of the exercise which will take place under British leadership is to practice repelling a “Russian invasion” and then launching an offensive to secure the Ukraine-Russia border which would mean the end of Novorossia.

The fact of British leadership is particularly worrisome, since that country seems to have undertaken the task of “dirty tricks” on Washington’s behalf. In this instance, the “dirty trick” could be using the exercise to rehearse invasion of the Donbass immediately prior to its execution or, equally plausibly, the exercise itself might turn into an invasion. Foreign command of the invasion would be consistent with the Ukrainian trend of slipping under direct control by Western powers, and reminiscent of the role of the Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI) in the planning and execution of Croatia’s Operation Storm in 1995.

One can’t even rule out direct British participation in such an operation, since a British-supported Ukrainian offensive against Novorossia forces would not be an offensive against Russia. The Defence Review released in March 2021 stated that the British Army would stand up four so-called “ranger regiments”, or battalion-sized formations whose aim would be to train “indigenous forces” and, if need be, actually go to battle with them in order to pursue British interests as part of the “Global Britain” project. An addition of professional British soldiers, in conjunction with British planning and execution of the operation, would provide a morale boost to the UAF and increase the chances of at least moderate success. Once embedded within Ukrainian forces, British troops would also serve as a deterrent against a direct Russian intervention.

An Ounce of Prevention

It may well be that the sudden Russian troop movements, the reinforcement of Crimea, and even Belarus’ deployment to the border of Ukraine, indicate contingency planning to launch an enveloping counteroffensive that would trap Ukrainian forces in a giant cauldron between the Dnepr River and Novorossia itself. At the very least, their presence forces Ukraine to divert forces away from its offensive grouping on the Donbass toward the border with Russia and even Belarus. It is also possible that the snap deployment was intended to pre-empt Ukraine’s increasingly obvious moves to mount an offensive during the summer, an offensive with direct foreign military employment. Russia’s pre-emption may also include a changed status of the Donbass. President Putin’s declaration that the rights of 600,000 holders of Russian passports in Novorossia has become a priority for him. An official recognition of Novorossia, combined with the placement of a Russian peacekeeper force, would stop the Ukrainian offensive dead in its tracks and moreover render any British participation unsustainable, though at certain diplomatic cost due to the withdrawal from the Minsk Agreements it would entail. The forceful Russian response has already had the effect of knocking not only Ukraine but, judging by the panicky demands for Russia to “explain” its troop movements, all of NATO. It communicated that under no circumstances will Ukraine enjoy tactical, operational, or strategic surprise. Now the question is whether Russia and major European powers can craft a diplomatic solution that will allow Zelensky to back down in a face-saving manner, thus ending the danger of war against the Donbass.

British “ranger regiments” and “greyzone warfare”

Use of NATO forces directly vs. unrecognized republics is no the same as use of NATO forces against Russia. Recognition by Russia would, on the other hand, create an additional layer of deterrence, though associated with risks for Russia.

If LPR/DPR are formally recognized by the Russian Federation which then spreads the umbrella of “extended deterrence” which, it should be noted, is backed by a potent nuclear arsenal. It would also mean Russia’s formal rejection of Minsk Agreements and of the Normandy Four format, creating a legal limbo fraught with unpredictability. NATO countries which committed themselves to preserving Ukraine’s “sovereignty and integrity” could hardly be expected to ratify this move.

Major minelaying operations by Ukrainian forces, which may be part of the offensive preparations. The greater the extent and intensity of mines on a certain sector of the front, the greater the ability to concentrate forces on other sectors—suggesting that whichever  sectors of the front are not seeing a minelaying operations are being reserved as corridors for future assault, making them eligible for DPR/LPR defensive minelaying.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

The second coming of Ben-Gurion

Source

April 5, 2021 – 17:44

The reasons behind capsizing the Taiwanese cargo ship “Ever Given”, on the 24th of March, have become clear.

The cargo ship capsized in the Suez Canal for more than 6 days. Failing to float the ship is not the news, or that the reasons behind the accident were a human failure. But the real news behind it is the reviving of the old-new plans that were and are still alive in the dreams of the Zionist entity which is enlivening the “Ben-Gurion Canal” project. Yes, Ben-Gurion Canal has surfaced once more.

The project aims to connect the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Gulf of Aqaba to the Mediterranean through the Negev desert. The idea of digging a canal opposite the Suez Canal began in 1963. It is recommended in a memo submitted by Lawrence Livermore Patriot Laps in the United States of America. The memorandum was proposed as a response to the decision taken by President Gamal Abdel Nasser to nationalize the Suez Canal in 1956. 

The memorandum suggested: In order to ensure the flow of navigation in the Red Sea, an alternative canal should be opened in the Gulf of Aqaba. It will be drilled through the Negev desert, which was described as an empty area that can be dug using nuclear bombs: Firstly, the project was halted due to the radiation that nuclear bombs could cause; and secondly due to the opposition that the project would face by the Arab countries, led by Nasser.

Today, political alliances have changed the face of the region, particularly after the implementation of the Abraham Accords by several Arab countries. Therefore, a political atmosphere is compatible. Hence, serious deliberations of the project, after the Ever-Given capsizing, provide the idea that the accident was contrived. It was intended as a new window for the return of the talks over finding an alternative to the Suez Canal. 

In principle, that the accident was premeditated is a fair assumption. In an article I previously published on the Al-Ahed website, I talked about Israel’s attempt to control and expand access to the gates of the water routes to the Mediterranean through the Abraham Accords. It was not a peace agreement. Rather, it was actually an economic treaty with Morocco, the Emirates, and Sudan. Once Oman signs it, Israel will be able to control the water routes from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Persian Gulf, and finally control the Red Sea through the upcoming Ben-Gurion Canal, which will provide enormous income for Israel.

Firstly, Israel and the United States are in dire need of the project to compensate for the severe economic contraction due to the Coronavirus pandemic and unstable conditions. The treaties were signed between Israel and the Arab countries so as to guarantee Israel’s political and economic stability, and to maintain its presence in the region.  

And secondly, the project is driven by the need to restrain the rise of the economic power of China, and to hold back its ongoing project known as “One Road, One Belt”. The Chinese project aims to build a train line that starts from the provinces of China in the west towards West Asia and secure water routes around the world. It is a multi-billion-dollar investment project. For example, before the Corona pandemic, several parties in Lebanon hosted the Chinese ambassador, who explained the benefits of the project, which will employ tens of thousands of workers, employees, and specialists along the train line, which will be used mainly to transport goods between China and Europe. Therefore, the U.S. is trying to hamper the Chinese trade route by creating an alternative route to compete with. So, the new stage of struggle will witness an economic war aiming to control seaports and global trade routes.

This American-Israeli project has overlapped with joining several agreements and draft agreements. For example, the United States and the United Arab Emirates have joined the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum as observers. And starting Monday, March 29th, the Military Cooperation Agreement between Jordan and the United States will take effect, which probably aims to find an alternative place for the American forces outside Iraq and Syria.

Thirdly, preparations are underway for the implementation of the New Levant Project, which extends from Iraq to Jordan to Palestine across the Arabian Peninsula to the Sinai Desert. The project aims to create a new trade route that does not pass through Syria and Lebanon, but rather through the New Levant lands extending from the Persian Gulf in the south to the Mediterranean in the north, and through it will pass new oil and gas pipelines from Iraq to Jordan, which will replace the Tab line.

The New Levant project might forfeit Syria’s geostrategic importance for the Americans as one of the most important global and historical trade lines between the north and the south throughout history. However, the project lost its momentum at this stage because of Israel’s drive to be part of it, which forced the Iraqi government to cease working on it.

The secrecy of the canal project’s memorandum was revealed in 1994. It was waiting in the drawers for new conditions to revive it. It seems that the capsizing of the ship was the perfect plan. The capsizing oddly coincided with the signing of the 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership between Iran and China. The current events are evidence that the need to change alliances has become inevitable in the region. This explains the economic pressure on Syria and Lebanon and the continued decline in the price of lira in the sister countries. The Americans hoped that through sanctions they would impose conditions for reconciliations with “Israel”, impose the demarcation of borders between the Palestinian and Lebanese borders to the best interest of Israel, and prevent Hezbollah and its allies from participating in the coming government. Eventually, the U.S. would have the upper hand to prevent the Chinese route from reaching its ultimate destination to the Mediterranean Sea. However, the reasons behind Biden’s escalating tone towards China and Syria were revealed once Iran and China signed the document for cooperation. The protocol also revealed the hidden options Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah spoke of in his speech on the 18th of March.

The developments in the region may change the course of the Syrian crisis.  The “One Belt and One Road” project will not achieve its real success until it reaches the port of Latakia, or/and the port of Tripoli, if the Lebanese desire, in exchange for the ports of Haifa and Ashkelon in Palestine. However, this cannot be achieved as long as Syria is still fighting its new independence war against America and Turkey. Yet, the coming of the Chinese dragon to Iran may mark a new era. Syria constitutes one of the main disputes between China and the United States. It seems that the withdrawal of the latter to Jordan under the new military cooperation agreement has become imposed by the new coming reality. The Americans can manage from there any new conflicts in the region or prolong the life of the crisis and thus obstruct the Chinese project without any direct clashes.

The construction of the Ben-Gurion Canal may take several years. However, the project is now put into action. Thanks to “Ever Given” capsizing, the canal building is now scheduled around May 2021. It is clear now who is the main beneficiary of this calamity, which hit one of the most important global navigation points, namely the Suez Canal.

Normalization agreements were primarily aimed to expand Israeli influence over waterways. The disastrous consequences on the region are starting to be unwrapped.  The major target is going to be Egypt. Egypt’s revenue from the Suez Canal is estimated to be 8 billion dollars. Once Ben-Gurion is activated it will drop into 4 billion dollars. Egypt cannot economically tolerate the marginalization of the role of the Suez Canal as one of the most important sources of its national income, especially after the completion of the construction of the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia. Confinement of the Nile water behind the water scarcity will cause the Egyptians to starve. It will have disastrous consequences on Egypt and Europe. Since the latter will receive most of the Egyptian immigrants; however, this is another story to be told.
 

RELATED NEWS

China’s Iran Deal Is Just the Beginning ” الاتفاقية مع إيران استراتيجية صينية أشمل لتنمية نفوذها في الشرق الأوسط

الاتفاقية مع إيران استراتيجية صينية أشمل لتنمية نفوذها في الشرق الأوسط

الكاتب: إيرييل ديفيدسون وآري سيكوريل
المصدر: ذا ناشونال إنترست
اليوم 7/4/2021

ينما تسعى بكين إلى تحقيق توازن للقوى في المنطقة لمنافسة الدول الغربية، فإن العبء يقع على عاتق إدارة بايدن لتحدي مكائد الصين في الشرق الأوسط.

وزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف ونظيره الصيني وانغ يي.
وزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف ونظيره الصيني وانغ يي يتبادلان وثائق الاتفاقية

كتبت إيرييل ديفيدسون بالاشتراك مع زميلها آري سيكوريل، وهما محللان وباحثان في مركز بحثي صهيوني أميركي مرتبط بـ”إسرائيل”، مقالة مشتركة في مجلة “ذا ناشونال انترست” الأميركية، يحرضان فيها واشنطن على الاتفاقية الصينية الإيرانية، إذ دعيا الولايات المتحدة إلى منع الصين من دعم خصوم الولايات المتحدة أو اكتساب نفوذ شديد على شركاء الولايات المتحدة في المنطقة.

وفي ما يلي ترجمة بتصرف للمقالة:

أعلنت الصين وإيران أخيراً عن “شراكة استراتيجية شاملة” لمدة خمسة وعشرين عاماً، تسعى إلى زيادة التعاون العسكري والدفاعي والأمني ​​بين إيران والصين، مما أثار فزع خصوم البلدين.

لا يشير الاتفاق إلى تجسيد تحالف إيران والصين، ولكنه يشير بدلاً من ذلك إلى استراتيجية صينية أوسع لتنمية نفوذها في الشرق الأوسط. ومن المفارقات أن هذا يأتي في وقت ظهر فيه إجماع من الحزبين في واشنطن على أن الولايات المتحدة يجب أن تقلل من مشاركتها في الشرق الأوسط لمواجهة التحدي الذي تشكّله الصين الصاعدة.

يُظهر الاتفاق الإيراني الصيني أن الشرق الأوسط ساحة مهمة لمنافسة القوى العظمى الناشئة مع الصين. تحتاج الولايات المتحدة الآن إلى منع الصين من تعزيز خصوم الولايات المتحدة واكتساب نفوذ شديد على شركاء الولايات المتحدة في المنطقة.

بالنسبة للإيرانيين، لا يمكن أن يكون توقيت الاتفاق أكثر ملاءمة. إن طهران بحاجة ماسة إلى السيولة بعد أن شلت العقوبات الأميركية اقتصاد البلاد وتأمل أن يخفف الاتفاق مع الصين من سطوة العقوبات الأميركية. مع كون الصين مشترياً مفترضاً لصادرات النفط الإيرانية لعقود مقبلة عدة، فإن جهود إدارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن لجر طهران إلى طاولة المفاوضات ستثبت أنها أكثر صعوبة.

وفي الوقت نفسه، ستكسب الصين إمدادات النفط من إيران لتغذية اقتصادها سريع النمو، وشريكاً إقليمياً يشاركها مصلحتها في كبح الامتداد العالمي لقوة الولايات المتحدة.

وبالتالي، قد يكون التأثير الفوري للاتفاق هو قيام الصين عن غير قصد بتسهيل المزيد من التخصيب النووي الإيراني. لكن من غير المرجح أن تنتهي آثاره المزعزعة للاستقرار عند هذا الحد، لأن مصلحة الصين تمتد عبر المنطقة.

بالإضافة إلى إبرام الاتفاقية، تضمنت رحلة وزير الخارجية الصيني وانغ لي إلى الشرق الأوسط كذلك تشكيل خطة أمنية إقليمية مع المملكة العربية السعودية، ولقاء في اسطنبول مع نظيره التركي، وإعلان أن الإمارات ستنتج جرعات لقاح سينوفارم الصيني بقيمة مائتي مليون دولار. وفي الوقت نفسه، تعمل الشركات الصينية المملوكة للدولة على توسيع استثماراتها في “إسرائيل” والسعودية والإمارات العربية المتحدة كجزء من “مبادرة الحزام والطريق”.

يأتي هذا النمط المتزايد من المشاركة الإقليمية الصينية، إلى جانب الوعود السخية، وإن لم تكن واقعية تماماً، بالاستثمار الأجنبي في وقت تقوم فيه الولايات المتحدة بتقليص وجودها في الشرق الأوسط وإعادة تموضعها بشكل متوازن. قد يبدأ شركاء الولايات المتحدة التقليديون، برؤية إيران تستفيد من السخاء الصيني وعلاقاتهم الخاصة بواشنطن، في النظر إلى الصين على أنها بديل جذاب بشكل متزايد.

تمثل أنشطة الصين في الشرق الأوسط خطراً على الولايات المتحدة لأن الصين تلعب في الميدان بطريقة سياسية واقعية بالكامل – فقد تدعم أعداء أميركا (على غرار إيران) أو قد تحاول استمالة حلفاء الولايات المتحدة (على غرار “إسرائيل”). بكين ليس لديها ولاءات. إنها تسعى لتقوية خصوم الولايات المتحدة أو سرقة شركائها التقليديين.

إن واشنطن ليست عاجزة عندما يتعلق الأمر باحتواء النفوذ الصيني في المنطقة. تحتاج الولايات المتحدة إلى استراتيجية مدروسة للتخفيف من سعي الصين لتحقيق نفوذ أكبر في الشرق الأوسط، استراتيجية تسعى إلى الحد من النفوذ الصيني بين شركاء الولايات المتحدة وإحباط الجهود الصينية لتقوية خصوم الولايات المتحدة. 

ويوصي الكاتبان أن تقوم هذه الاستراتيجية على:

أولاً، يجب أن تعمل واشنطن مع شركائها للحد من وصول بكين إلى البنية التحتية الحيوية والملكية الفكرية والتقنيات بين شركاء الولايات المتحدة. ونظراً لأن منظمتنا، المعهد اليهودي للأمن القومي الأميركي، قدمت أخيراً توصيات “لإسرائيل”، يجب أن يشمل ذلك تمكين الشركاء لتطوير أنظمة رقابة قوية على الاستثمار الأجنبي المباشر والصادرات، وتقديم مصادر تمويل تنافسية لشركات الشرق الأوسط المتعطشة للاستثمار.

في الوقت نفسه، يجب على الولايات المتحدة أن تدرك أنها لا تستطيع منع جميع الأنشطة الاقتصادية الإقليمية الصينية. وبدلاً من ذلك، يجب أن تشجع أميركا الصين على الاستثمار في بناء البنية التحتية غير الحيوية في المنطقة وفي الشركات التي تتعامل مع التحديات المشتركة، مثل الاحتباس الحراري.

وفي التعامل مع المحاولات الصينية لبناء علاقات مع خصوم الولايات المتحدة، قد تحد العديد من التكتيكات “الناعمة” كذلك من قدرة الصين على تكوين علاقات مستقرة مع الأنظمة. على سبيل المثال، فيما يتعلق بطهران، يمكن للولايات المتحدة إطلاق مجموعة من العمليات السيبرانية والمعلوماتية والنفسية التي تركز على الكشف عن التوترات الداخلية الخاصة بين الحكومتين الصينية والإيرانية، والتي قد تشمل الإشارة إلى الإبادة الجماعية المروعة التي ارتكبتها الصين ضد السكان المسلمين الإيغور. (في شينجيانغ) ونفاق الأنظمة الإسلامية التي تتسامح مع ذلك، بحسب توصية الكاتبين.

وفي الجانب الإعلامي، انتقد عدد كبير من الأصوات الغموض والطبيعة السرية لعملية التفاوض بين الصين وإيران، ويجب على الولايات المتحدة تضخيم هذه الأصوات عبر مختلف المنافذ الدولية. ومن شأن حملة منسقة من هذا النوع أن تساعد على تقويض صدق الاتفاقية، وبالتالي تقويض قدرة كل طرف على الاعتماد على بعضه البعض على المدى الطويل.

وختم الكاتبان بالقول: بينما تسعى بكين عن عمد إلى تحقيق توازن القوى في المنطقة لمنافسة الدول الغربية ، فإن العبء يقع على عاتق إدارة بايدن لتحدي مكائد الصين في الشرق الأوسط، والتي تتراوح من التدخل مع شركاء أميركا التقليديين إلى تشجيع خصوم الولايات المتحدة. وأضاف أن الاتفاقية الأخيرة بين الصين وإيران ليست سوى غيض من فيض.

*إيريل ديفيدسون وآري سيكوريل هما محللان سياسيان بارزان في المعهد اليهودي للأمن القومي الأميركي في مركز جيمندر للدفاع والاستراتيجية.

نقله إلى العربية بتصرف: الميادين نت

China’s Iran Deal Is Just the Beginning “

Source

April 6, 2021 

As Beijing deliberately pursues a balance of power in the region to rival Western countries, the onus will fall on the Biden administration to challenge China’s Middle Eastern machinations, which range from intervening with America’s traditional partners to emboldening its adversaries.

by Erielle Davidson Ari Cicurel

China and Iran recently announced a twenty-five-year “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” which seeks to increase military, defense, and security cooperation between Iran and China, to the consternation of both countries’ adversaries. 

The pact does not signal the materialization of an Iran-China alliance but instead points to a broader Chinese strategy to grow its influence in the Middle East. Ironically, this comes at a time when a bipartisan consensus has emerged in Washington that the United States should reduce its engagement in the Middle East to address the challenge posed by a rising China.  

The Iran-China deal evinces that the Middle East is an important arena for the emerging great-power competition with China. The United States now needs to prevent China from strengthening U.S. adversaries and gaining predatory influence over U.S. partners in the region. 

For the Iranians, the timing of the deal could not be more apropos. Tehran is desperate for cash after U.S. sanctions have crippled the country’s economy and hopes the pact with China will cushion the blow from U.S. sanctions. With China as a supposed purchaser of Iranian oil exports for several decades to come, the Biden administration’s efforts to drag Tehran to the negotiating table will prove much harder. 

Meanwhile, China is to gain both oil to fuel its rapidly growing economy and a regional partner that shares its interest in curbing the global reach of U.S. power. 

The immediate impact of the deal, thus, might be China unintentionally facilitating further Iranian nuclear enrichment. But its destabilizing effects are unlikely to end there, for China’s interest extends across the region. 

In addition to concluding the pact, Chinese foreign minister Wang Li’s trip to the Middle East also included the formation of a regional security plan with Saudi Arabia, a meeting in Istanbul with his Turkish counterpart, and an announcement that the UAE will produce two hundred million doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine. Meanwhile, Chinese state-owned companies are expanding investments in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates as part of the Belt and Road initiative.

This increasing pattern of Chinese regional engagement, coupled with generous, if not entirely realistic, promises of foreign investment comes at a time when the United States is reducing and “rebalancing” its presence in the Middle East. Traditional U.S. partners, seeing Iran benefit from Chinese largesse and their own ties to Washington cool, might begin to view China as an increasingly attractive alternative. 

China’s activities in the Middle East present a risk to the United States because China plays the field in a wholly realpolitik fashion—it may support America’s enemies (see Iran) or it may court or attempt to court U.S. allies (see Israel). Beijing has no allegiances. It seeks both to strengthen U.S. adversaries or steal its traditional partners.

Firstly, Washington should work with its partners to limit Beijing’s access to critical infrastructure, intellectual property, and technologies among U.S. partners. As our organization, the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, recently recommended for Israel, this should include both empowering partners to develop robust oversight regimes for foreign direct investment and exports and offering competitive sources of financing for investment-hungry Middle Eastern firms.

Simultaneously, the United States should recognize it cannot block all Chinese regional economic activity and instead, should encourage China to invest in building the region’s non-critical infrastructure and in firms tackling shared challenges, like global warming. 

In dealing with Chinese attempts to build ties with U.S. adversaries, several “soft” tactics also might limit China’s ability to form stable ties with regimes. For example, vis-à-vis Tehran, the United States could launch a combination of cyber, information, and psychological operations centered on revealing privately held internal tensions between the Chinese and Iranian governments, which might include pointing out China’s horrific genocide of its Uighur population and the hypocrisy of the Muslim regimes that tolerate it. 

On the information side, a plethora of voices have criticized the ambiguity and secretive nature of the negotiating process, and the United States should amplify those voices across various international outlets. A coordinated campaign of this nature would help to undermine the sincerity of the pact and, in turn, the ability of each party to rely on each other in the long term. 

As Beijing deliberately pursues a balance of power in the region to rival Western countries, the onus will fall on the Biden administration to challenge China’s Middle Eastern machinations, which range from intervening with America’s traditional partners to emboldening U.S. adversaries. The China-Iran deal is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Erielle Davidson (@politicalelle) and Ari Cicurel (@aricicurel) are senior policy analysts at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy. 

التنافس على مرفأ بيروت Competition for the port of Beirut

** Please scroll down for the English Machine translation **

Lebanon: No Justice 6 Months After Blast | Human Rights Watch

التنافس على مرفأ بيروت

لم يكن خافياً حجم الأهميّة التي يعلّقها الرئيس الفرنسي أمانويل ماكرون على المساهمة التي توفرها المبادرة الفرنسيّة في تشكيل الحكومة اللبنانية لحساب حصول الشركات الفرنسيّة على دور محوريّ في مشاريع ذات جدوى اقتصادية عالية يصنَّف مرفأ بيروت بالنسبة لفرنسا في طليعتها.

جاء الاهتمام الألماني بمرفأ بيروت علنياً ومنافساً للدور الفرنسي رغم الشراكة الفرنسية الألمانية في إطار المقاربة الأوروبية الموحدة للوضع اللبناني، وهذا يكشف الأهمية النوعية التي يمثلها المرفأ في الأدوار الاقتصادية للدول الكبرى وموقعها في اقتصادات المنطقة.

ربما تكون هناك اهتمامات لا تقل عن الاهتمام الفرنسي والألماني فكثيراً ما كان لافتاً ان الصين التي تتولى معداتها تشغيل مرافئ عالمية كبرى كمرفأ بوسطن الذي يُعتبر الأول أميركياً ومرفأ أمستردام الذي يعتبر الأول في العالم، وتقول المعلومات أن الشركات الصينية تنظر لمرفأ بيروت كجزء من شبكة خطوط تجارية مع العمق الآسيويّ، تشكل السكك الحديديّة بين بيروت ودمشق من جهة وبيروت والساحل السوري من جهة موازية مكوّنات أساسية لمشروع إعادة الإعمار والاستثمار، بالإضافة إلى اهتمام كوريا الجنوبية، التي قيل إن شركاتها أعدّت دراسات لتحويل مرفأ بيروت الى نقطة وصل رئيسيّة بين الشرق والغرب.

هذا الاهتمام يؤكد بالإضافة لكونه تعبيراً عن أن لبنان ليس قضية خاسرة اقتصادياً ولا هو تفليسة تنتظر مَن يديرها، فشلَ المشاريع المنافسة لمرفأ بيروت والتي تمّ إعدادها كبدائل له، ويعتقد البعض أن تفجير المرفأ كان في خدمتها، وفي طليعتها مشروع تقدّم مرفأ حيفا المحتلة كمدخل للتجارة الدوليّة نحو العمق العربيّ والآسيويّ بالاستناد الى معاهدات التطبيع الإسرائيلية الخليجية، ويتخذ العديد من الباحثين الاقتصاديين من حادثة قناة السويس التي يعتقدون بكونها مفتعلة، دليلاً على التخبّط الإسرائيلي في السعي لضرب الخيارات المنافسة لخط حيفا نحو العمق العربي والآسيوي، ومن التمسك الدولي بقناة السويس دليلاً على تعثر المساعي الإسرائيلية.

الخلاصة التي يشترك فيها الأوروبيون هي ان التطبيع لم يخلق ولن يخلق بغياب حل للقضية الفلسطينية شروط الأمان اللازمة لعمليات تجارية ستمتد على مسافة ألف كلم تعبر في جزء منها داخل الأردن الذي كشفت الأحداث الأخيرة فيه درجة القلق من وضعه تحت تأثير ضغوط وأحداث كبرى، ما يعني أن الدور التقليدي لمرفأ بيروت والرهان على توسيعه لا يزال يشكل المحور الرئيسيّ لتجارة الترانزيت بين أوروبا والعمقين العربي والآسيوي بإجماع الشركات العالمية الكبرى شرقاً وغرباً، ما يترجم اهتماماً سياسياً من حكومات الدول المعنية بالانفتاح على لبنان ومشاريع تمويل اقتصاده، والسعي لامتلاك تأثير على المسارات السياسية فيه.

Competition for the port of Beirut

It was no secret that the French initiative, and the contribution of President, Emanuel Macron, in forming the Lebanese government to order give the French companies a pivotal role in projects of high economic feasibility that places the port of Beirut the forefront.

The German interest in the port of Beirut came publicly and competing despite the Franco-German partnership within the unified European approach towards Lebanon, and this reveals the qualitative importance that the port represents in the economic roles of the major countries and their position in the economies of the region.

It has often been remarkable that China, operating major international ports such as Boston Harbor, the first American and the port of Amsterdam, which is considered the first in the world, consider the port of Beirut as part of a network of commercial lines with Asian depth, the railway between Beirut and Damascus on the one hand and Beirut and the Syrian coast on the parallel are key components of the reconstruction and investment project, in addition to the interest of South Korea, whose companies are said to have prepared studies to turn Beirut port into a major link between the East and the West.

This interest confirms in addition to being an expression that Lebanon is not an economically lost cause nor is it bankruptcy awaiting someone to manage it, the failure of the competing projects for the port of Beirut, which have been prepared as alternatives to it, and some believe that the bombing of the port was in its service, and at the forefront of which is the project of advancing the occupied Haifa port as an entry point for international trade, with the Arab and Asian depth, based on the Israeli-Gulf normalization treaties. Many researchers believe that the Suez Canal incident is fabricated, and evidence of Israeli confusion in seeking to strike the rival options of the Haifa line towards the Arab and Asian depths, and that the international adherence to the Suez Canal is evidence of the faltering Israeli efforts.

The conclusion that the Europeans share is that normalization has not created and will not create, in the absence of a solution to the Palestinian issue, the safety conditions necessary for commercial operations that will extend over a distance of a thousand kilometers that cross in part inside Jordan, in which recent events have revealed the degree of concern about its situation under the influence of major pressures and events, which means that the traditional role of the port of Beirut and the bet on its expansion continues to be the main focus of transit trade between Europe and the Arab and Asian giants by the consensus of major international companies east and west, which translates political attention from governments Countries concerned with opening up to Lebanon and projects to finance its economy, and seeking to have an impact on its political tracks.

Nasrallah: US’ top priority is preventing a China-Russia-Iran alliance

Source

Nasrallah: US’ top priority is preventing a China-Russia-Iran alliance

April 05, 2021

Description:

In a recent televised speech, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah claimed that the Biden administration’s top priority today was to prevent the formation of a major alliance or axis between China, Russia, and Iran.

Nasrallah also claimed that the United States and Israel were today in a state of decline, while the Iran-led ‘Axis of Resistance’ was on an upward trajectory.

The ‘Axis of Resistance’ broadly refers to a strategic anti-Israel/anti-US imperialist alliance composed of, but not limited to, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi, Yemen’s Ansarullah, and various Palestinian armed factions.

Source: Spot Shot (YouTube)

Date: 4 April, 2021

(Important Note: Please help us keep producing independent translations for you by contributing as little as $1/month here )

Transcript:

Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah:

Of course, the Israelis too – (staying on) the Israeli file – the Israelis these days, I mean in the past few weeks and months, almost every day, despite the (many military/security) manoeuvres, they (nevertheless) express very publicly their concerns and worries over the fact that the Axis of Resistance is developing, that it is developing its capabilities. On the other hand, yes indeed, the Resistance (Axis) is working on the development and accumulation of its capabilities. This means that their worry has (real) foundations, (the Israelis) are not making up (this sense) of worry and concern.

Today, the Axis of Resistance is not silent, it is not an axis experiencing stagnation. On the contrary (my) honourable brothers, the Axis of Resistance has (successfully) passed – in these past 10 years – through the worst, most dangerous phase of its life and history. This is evident in what happened in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq (these past 10 years), as well as (what happened in) the entire region, and in the severe embargo and maximum sanctions (campaign) on Iran and so on.

Indeed, this axis is facing these threats with increased work, hard work, diligent work, away from any type of showing-off (i.e. fruitless muscle-flexing). (The goal of all this work) is to accumulate the capabilities and power (of the Resistance Axis), (capabilities) that will decisively decide the future.

I would like to conclude with the following words; I wish to depict the international and regional scene, and share some advice too, advice to (some in) Lebanon and to the region as a whole, not only to the Lebanese. Today, there is definitely a (particular) scene in the world, and I will be brief here, as I have already taken a lot of time and I have only got a few more minutes according to the brothers. They gave me limited time, otherwise, these days I’m taking much time – I’m delivering long speeches.

There are significant international developments (occurring today), and it is clear that the top priority of the US administration is China and Russia. China as an economic force that can become the top economic force in the world, which Biden says will not happen (as long as) he is around. Russia, of course, is not an economic threat. They rather view it more from the military, political and security angles, in addition to competition (with it) on the global (level).

There are ongoing American efforts to prevent the formation of a coalition, front, axis, or something of this nature, whereby Iran stands besides China and Russia. For this reason, they are seeking to address the nuclear file issue with Iran, with an emphasis on diplomacy. Of course, the emphasis on diplomacy here is not an American act of kindness; it is a testament to the power of Iran. By the way, Iran’s position on this issue is powerful and firm. What (Iran) did not give to Trump under the maximum sanctions (campaign) and daily war threats, it will not give (Biden) today while it stands on the verge of (successfully) overcoming the embargo and sanctions phase.

So, these are the priorities of the Americans, they are trying to work out how to deal with the files of the (Middle East) region in one way or another; let’s go to Yemen and see how we can extinguish the Yemen war, or let’s go to Afghanistan and see how we can clean up the situation in Afghanistan. (This is what is on their mind), but their approach is not clear yet, because they have not taken final decisions (on these high-level matters), according to the information (we currently have).

Regardless of what some analysts say, concerning Syria and Lebanon, it is obvious that the (the American side) is distracted from Palestine. What I want to say – through this quick analysis – to the friends of America in our region, and to whoever is betting on the American administration in our region, I say to them that (America’s) priorities – or in other words, there are new developments that they need to take into consideration.

The first development is that the new American priorities are not (related to) our region, except for what relates to Israel. Their priorities now are Russia, China, and how to resolve the issue with Iran. Thus, if you want to resolve your crises, end your wars, solve your problems, improve your situation and achieve compromises, if you are waiting for the Americans to achieve all of this, then the wait will be very long.

Secondly, America is no longer the America that you know. There is a new term that his eminence Imam Khamenei presented last year, and he had placed a lot of emphasis on it. I hereby call for reflection on (this term) so that we don’t take it as a mere headline or form of political rhetoric: “The decline of America”. America is in decline. In the words of some literature, it can be described as (on a) “descending arc”. America is now in a state of fall; in a state of descent.

America’s upcoming challenges today, most of them are related to internal problems, regarding the Corona Virus; the economic situation and its consequences; the white race (and race-related issues), fanaticism, infighting and associated dangers. America has never experienced internal dangers the likes of which it is facing today. This requires a prolonged discussion, but there is a (certain) outlook (on this issue which I will share later).

Of course, when we talk strategically, we are not talking about one year, or two, three, four or five – we are talking about a trajectory. The trajectory of the US is a trajectory of decline, descent, and downfall. Whereas the trajectory of the Axis of Resistance in the region, (with its) states, movements, and peoples, is an upward trajectory.

Priorities will (thus) be different. Therefore, I hereby call on you all, as states, peoples, regimes, movements, peoples, sects, groups, and whatever else: let us not wait for America, let us not wait for the (rest of the) world. Let us not wait for international developments. Let us hold dialogue on the regional and national (levels). Let us hold dialogue among all the states of the region, and dialogue among the peoples of the region, in order to resolve our problems and crises.

Let us not put off until tomorrow what we can do today, as the present day is better for you than tomorrow. I believe that all those who belong to the Axis of Resistance, as a result of the honesty, sincerity, and concern (they have) for their homelands, they are ready to reach certain resolutions, solutions, and compromises that would allow us to overcome all these difficult phases. This is the horizon that we see before us.

Of course, in light of this international and regional shift, Israel, just like its master, is on a path of decline. It is on “the descending arc”. The earnest wish of his eminence, (the late) Sheikh Ahmad Zein, that which the brothers spoke about before me, this wish is strong and vibrant. God willing, some of us – at the very least – will enter (the city of) al-Quds and pray in al-Quds, God willing. This is the horizon which we can see.


Subscribe to our mailing list!

Related Posts:

The Brazilian fracture between the Expanding Universe and the new imperialist competition in South America

The Brazilian fracture between the Expanding Universe and the new imperialist competition in South America
Fabio Reis Vianna, lives in Rio de Janeiro, is a bachelor of laws (LL.B), MA student in International Relations at the University of Évora (Portugal), writer and geopolitical analyst. He currently maintains a column on international politics at the centennial Brazilian newspaper Monitor Mercantil.

April 05, 2021

By Fabio Reis Vianna for The Saker Blog

In an article published in Foreign Affairs magazine – one of the most prominent mouthpieces of US imperialism – , and signed by, among others, Marcus Hicks, former commander of the US Special Operations Command in Africa during the period 2017-2019, defends the idea that the increased competition between the great powers ignites a red alert that the United States should turn its attention to the African continent.

The main motivator of this concern would be the urgent need to limit the “malign influence” of the hegemon’s two major strategic rivals: Russia and China.

Citing the increased Sino-Russian presence on the African continent, in which Russia alone would have already established military agreements with at least 19 countries, and China, installed in 2017 its first international military base in Djibout.

It is worth noting, that although the Foreign Affairs article mentions that there was an ebb in the American presence during Donald Trump’s administration, in reality, and in a long-term look, since 2001 American foreign policy has turned more aggressively to Africa, and this posture has even been an incentive for a greater presence of other actors of the interstate system in that continent.

The American presence in Africa, justified by the excuse of fighting transnational terrorism, was therefore the trigger for an increase in the presence of other interstate actors, and consequently, of the imperialist competition that in this pandemic 2021 gains even more dramatic contours.

Although this article is specifically a defense of the American presence in Africa, it serves as a warning of how the American establishment is positioning itself in face of a phenomenon that has deepened considerably in recent years: the new imperialist race.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance to understand the role of South America in this complex power game.

Taking into consideration that the increase in competitive pressure in the world system has been accelerating considerably since the collapse of the Soviet Union, has gained imperial contours after September 11, and has unveiled itself as, in fact, in a scenario of almost war with the advent of the pandemic, it is possible to deduce that the recent events in certain parts of South America definitely place it as a battleground of the current powers’ wider dispute for global hegemony.

Symptoms of this competitive phenomenon could be seen recently in insinuations that the Chinese are carrying out naval maneuvers in Argentinean waters (when in fact it was the Americans who in fact carried out exercises near the Brazilian coast), as well as in the intensification of the diplomatic crisis between Venezuela and Guyana.

There are many fracture points in South America, and perhaps the most visible and dangerous one lies over the Esequibo zone, a Guyanese territory of 159,000 square kilometers never recognized by Caracas.

In early March, Guyana accused Venezuela of having violated its airspace with the use of two Sukhoi SU 30 drones, of Russian origin. Caracas promptly refuted the accusations as false.

Repudiated by the Secretary of State for Falklands, Antarctica and the South Atlantic, Daniel Filmus, more recently, the publication of the new British defense plan – ratifying the decision to maintain a permanent military presence in the Falkland Islands – brought concerns to Buenos Aires.

The presence of foreign powers in South American territory is clear, and in light of the significant increase of competitive pressure in the world system – which has been gradually taking place since the disproportionate display of American military power against a defenseless Iraq in 1991 – the theory of the Expanding Universe is confirmed year after year, and in an increasingly dramatic way.

Contradicting the idea that a unipolar system, and therefore led and conducted by a single hegemon, would lead to Kant’s “perpetual peace,” the theory of the Expanding Universe supports the thesis that the global power game tends to reproduce itself ad infinitum as a continuously expanding, anarchic, and directionless universe.

Thus, it doesn’t matter whether the dispute is bipolar or multipolar: whoever is at the top of the system tends to expand his power even further – even if he is not necessarily being challenged at the moment, as is the case in the period right after the Soviet collapse, when the United States reigned absolute over the rest of the world.

The factual (and cruel) reality that comes to confirm the theory of the Expanding Universe could not fit into a more appropriate outfit than that of the present moment.

Just as 9/11 served as the perfect excuse for the expansion of the United States’ global power (in this specific case against an imaginary enemy – since the usual enemy, Russia, was temporarily out of the game), the Covid-19 pandemic serves today as a ladder for an unprecedented increase in competitive pressure in the interstate system.

Following this reasoning, and contrary to what Atlanticist analysts are saying, the pandemic crisis would be favoring only one country: the United States of America.

Not only because Silicon Valley technology companies have never profited as much as they do now, but the awakening of sovereigntist and militarist instincts brought about by the pandemic chaos has made possible the realization of the only fundamental and untouchable consensus of the currently divided US elites: the permanent and continuous reproduction and expansion of their military industrial complex. This expansion would be nothing more than the viability of the so-called Full Spectrum Dominance contained in the DOD Joint Vision 2020, published in the year 2000.

In this context, South America comes to play a new role in the global geopolitical chessboard, a role that the long period as a zone of peace under Anglo-Saxon influence would have softened.

With the increased competitive pressure caused by the pandemic event, which in other terms could be seen as the hegemon’s reaction to the entrance of new competitors in the system, came an increase or shock in the demand for energy resources.

In this scenario, we could exemplify the perspective of an expressive growth in the global demand for oil for the next 30 years, with China and India alone representing approximately 50% of all demand.

Considering that South America today can be considered the region with the largest oil (Venezuela) and Lithium (Bolivia) reserves on the planet – not to mention the Amazon forest and fresh water reserves (Brazil) – and in light of this global energy order in formation and dispute, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the new imperialist race between the great powers in the beginning of this century would be gradually turning to the region.

This situation is a wake-up call for a country in the region that is currently experiencing the greatest identity crisis in its entire history: Brazil.

Fractured internally since before the pandemic, the South American giant has never found itself so pressured and isolated internationally.

The systemic chaos that began with the Color Revolution of June 2013, and which has been deepening year after year until culminating in the election of Jair Bolsonaro (puppet president emerging from the white coup orchestrated by the consortium between the Armed Forces High Command and the U.S. government), finally goes into full short circuit after the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic.

Since then the growing discontent of sectors of the local economic elites with the disastrous management of the health crisis by the current government ruled by the military junta is visible.

Threatened by external sanctions from all sides, the country that has surpassed the mark of 300,000 deaths, is experiencing an internal fracture unprecedented in its history.

Something little remembered, but already in October 2019, Portuguese-speaking writers Mia Couto and José Eduardo Agualusa, on a visit to Brazil, said they were impressed by the climate of local political animosity, comparing the South American giant to African countries like Mozambique and Angola during the pre-civil war period.

At the same time that military police officers in Rio de Janeiro organize marches dressed in suggestive black shirts in defense of President Jair Bolsonaro, military police officers in the state of Bahia are threatening to cause chaos with a riot against the local governor (Rui Costa, from the Workers’ Party, an opponent of Bolsonaro).

Amid escalating tensions, the arm-wrestling between government and parliament is intensifying, and in particular with regard to two issues of geopolitical relevance: 5G and the Sputnik V vaccine.

Even if it is not clear from the stories reported by the hegemonic Brazilian press, it is visible that the Bolsonaro government deliberately acts as a representative of US interests in Brazil.

The difficulties created for the approval of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, and the constant threat of exclusion of the Chinese technology giant Huawei from the great 5G auction in the country, reflect the current role of Brazil as a battleground of the great expansionist dispute of the world system in this beginning of the century.

The social fracture, and the deepening divide within the local elites expose the serious risk of a country that could spiral out of control at any moment.

The news that the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) has sent a letter to Mr. Joe Biden, and to his Special Climate Secretary John Kerry, requesting a direct channel of communication – and away from the Brazilian government – to deal with issues related to the Amazon, opens a very serious alert about something that, for those who know history, would not be new.

Bearing in mind that geopolitical competition between the great powers is usually concentrated in fracture zones of the world system, history teaches us that fractured societies – and weakened states – tend to become the object of divisive games in the hands of the great powers.

With all due respect to the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil – so mistreated and threatened by the current government – but the moment calls for a deep reflection on this.

The Iran-China pact is a huge blow for Western imperialists who want war in Asia (2/2)

Friday, 02 April 2021 5:44 PM  [ Last Update: Friday, 02 April 2021 5:44 PM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The Iran-China pact is a huge blow for Western imperialists who want war in Asia (2/2)
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.


By Ramin Mazaheri
and cross-posted with the Saker

In the first part of this article, titled Nixon ‘opened’ China, but only superpower China could ‘open’ Iran, I discussed the historic role reversal: it’s the position of the superpower China which now counts the most, and not the attitude of the United States.

The 25-year Iran-China pact is actually an undercounting as it is essentially — to quote China’s foreign minister — “permanent.” Western media foolishly sees Iran and China as different as apples and bowling balls, and thus they are only taking their first timid step towards understanding how Tehran and Beijing have already broken through the finish line tape.

It’s easy to examine the consternation of the BBC or The New York Times, but I thought it would be interesting to analyze the take of perhaps the top oil trade media, OilPrice, via their article The Iran-China Axis Is A Fast Growing Force In Oil Markets. Part one of this article addressed their take — more consternation, predictably — but it’s necessary to ask: why are even supposedly neutral, objective, rational and profit-oriented business media so bewildered and lost in their analyses of post-1979 Iran and post-1949 China?

The problem for them is that I may be able to grasp an argument based on economics and politics, but it’s hard for me to understand viewing historical developments solely via a lens of fear, paranoia and — above all — a zero-sum view of business, politics and human life. What OilPrice’s article ultimately relies on — like so many others of its ilk — is a hardened intolerance for other non-Western (some today may say “non-White”) cultures.

That type of a fundamentally-emotional and anti-intellectual mindset may motivate many pro-imperialists in Western high finance but they do not motivate Iran and China, two countries whose essentially socialist basis is light-years ahead of the tribalist “identity politics” foolishly held as the ultimate achievement of Western liberal democracy. 

This is not a knee-jerk “snowflake” argument — simply look at the starting point of OilPrice and I’m sure you’ll see it is not an unusual foundation for Western media analyses (regardless of the skin tone of the journalist) of Iran: The author immediately claimed in his very first paragraph that Iranians have a “radical view of non-believers,” which is such a radically right-wing view of Iran that it is barely worth an eye roll, much less serious consideration. All that needs to be said is that it’s possible that the author does not know any Christians or Jews, nor does the author have any sincere familiarity with these two fundaments of Islamic thought. Certainly, he has kept far away from Muslims because what he is describing is not anywhere close to the mainstream view held by Muslims in Iran or any other nation where Muslims practice. It’s also a scare tactic, certainly, but the author himself is seemingly scared out of his logic — this is not Iran’s or Islam’s fault, of course. 

But what kind of tolerance should be expected from this longtime oil man who, when he looks at the fabulous civilizations of Iran and China, sees only one thing: people who oppose the United States. For the author Iran and China are unmotivated by anything positive, human or redeeming, but instead solely by antipathy towards the United States. Yet whether one reads trade publications like OilPrice or broader Western business publications like The EconomistThe Financial Times or Les Echos, this arrogant, fearful and ultimately hostile ideology is blatantly repeated over and over.

Contrarily, Iranian and Chinese businessmen simply wonder why the West refuses to do mutually-beneficial, productive, long-term business? But good, fair business is not what capitalism is — capitalism’s surpluses primarily rely on the savings provided by imperialist plunder, and then the subsequent masking of this reality of stolen resources, stolen wages and thwarted lives and cultures with a tin mass media halo. This is not a radical view of “capitalism with Western characteristics,” but an increasingly accepted view even within the 21st century West.

And this is why it is not surprising that this article on Sino-Iranian bilateral relations takes a lengthy turn into fear mongering over a Chinese take-back of Taiwan. We must remember that this trade publication puts selling oil (at as high a price as possible) above all else — above fair politics, above tolerance of the cultures of other people, above fair business — therefore, OilPrice is always all-too happy to hysterically fearmonger if it can raise the price of oil a buck.

The article mentions the recent and shockingly historic first Joe Biden-era China-US bilateral summit, where China responded to unprecedented diplomatic insults with an unprecedented, lengthy and entirely correct defense of the modern triumvirate I referred to as the “Allies of Sovereignty” — Iran, China and Russia.

Referring to that momentous resetting is entirely correct, but what is not correct is how the author makes the totally spurious claim quite openly that China’s stockpiling of oil — an act which he acknowledged earlier was something that, “it just makes sense for it build inventories” — was actually in preparation for an invasion of Taiwan as early as 2025?

We need to remember when reading their “objective” analyses that this is just what Western business media does: war, for imperialist countries, is a major money-making industry and thus OilPrice and their money-grubbing brethren demonize, stoke fear and cheerlead for policies which are as violent, as expensive and as destructive as possible. Nothing personal — it’s just business media.

This is why readers should remember that the conclusions of such articles are always so predictable: “…the likelihood of some type of oil shortage is becoming increasingly likely,” i.e. the price of oil should be higher than what it is now — which is all that OilPrice really cares about — because geopolitically the world is “a tinder box, that only needs a spark”.

It really isn’t.

As a result of this mutually-beneficial deal China and Iran are way, way, way more stable for the next 25 years.

That’s a good thing, but Western business media is looking for profit and not for good things.

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) elbow bumps with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi after the signing of a historic partnership agreement in Tehran on March 27, 2021. (Photo by Tasnim news agency)

Zarif: Iran-China deal based on win-win approach in pursuit of shared interests

 West’s weaponization of Iran-China deal to foment war has no chance of succeeding

Iran didn’t give up “too much” because they place their demand for sovereign independence over the best possible business deal — thus they simply must accept paying a premium. The “Allies of Sovereignty” is only three nations, after all. We’ve been living in a pro-globalization world for three decades, and the lack of civic pride makes Iran’s determination even more costly, monetarily.

China has established the indispensable node for its Belt and Road Initiative, from a foreign policy/foreign economic policy perspective, and from a domestic perspective it has assured itself enough energy independence to keep growing as it chooses for the next quarter century.

Is a mutual defense pact between the two next? Frankly, Iran doesn’t need it.

There is zero chance of another Western-orchestrated invasion of Iran, following the victory of the Sacred Defense against Iraq and its Western (and Soviet) axis. Iran has very basic military needs because they aren’t trying to invade anyone, after all. They have achieved military parity in the only arena which matters — its own borders — and a US invasion of Iran would be Vietnam on steroids. There have already been enormous nationwide “no war with Iran” protests in the US — after the assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in 2020. 

Frankly, China doesn’t need it. Even if they did retake Taiwan the US would blink even faster than they did with Syria. Anyway, the international community has clearly sided with China since 1971 — Taiwan is not a country, nor are they in the United Nations, nor can they even join any UN sub-organizations. Taiwan is a province of China, even if the US thinks it is like the Cuban exile parts of southern Florida — i.e., a permanent place for fascists who lost their civil war to congregate and plot to stall political modernity and peace. Fearmongering about bloody invasion is just a way to sell more guns and oil, and now also a way to distract from this Sino-Iranian victory. It’s absurd: since WWII the West has lost in North Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria but mighty China should be worried?

The pact is what it openly claims it is: a multi-decade diplomatic, military and economic pact of peaceful cooperation. So on its own, it promotes peace. And indirectly, the pact is a major step towards peace and security for the world — from Western aggression. Take on one and you inevitably take on the other, and taking on either would lead to disaster for the Western aggressors. The world can’t allow that, and the world can only embrace the peacemaking Iran-China deal.

China’s “opening” of Iran is historically significant in so many ways to count, including the peaceful stability it helps ensure for the world via drawing two ethnically and religiously different parts of Asia closer together: As I detailed in Part 1 of this article, it is so very excitingly “woke” and modern. In broader terms of human history, its greatest significance is: it’s a victory for socialist democracy and a huge, glaring failure for liberal democracy.

The JCPOA on Iran’s nuclear energy program would never have stopped this Iran-China alliance — Iran would never go fully into the Western camp for at least as long as the rest of the Muslim world is under the West’s thumb — but it could have at least partially counterbalanced it. Now the West is in an even worse bargaining position than before, but who wants the terrible preconditions the West demands for cooperation, and then who even expects the West to actually keep their word? They don’t do diplomacy – they do international piracy, still.

Iran waited a very long time to pick a camp, and yet they have still retained an amount of independence which almost no other nation its size can dream of today. However, as always, to write that China is being welcomed as saviors or without skepticism by Iranians would be a hilarious overstatement. What Iranians cherish most is their independence, and this is enshrined in its political and economic structures post-1979.

Iranian civil servants have chosen a wise path, and it can never be said that they did not genuinely offer the West a diplomatic path. Now their duty is to properly administer the bounty of this cooperation in a way which the Iranian people approve of. The Iranian media will be watching closely, as always.

China’s “opening” of Iran isn’t a threat to Iran, to China nor to any other non- or anti-imperialist nation. It’s only a threat to those who idealize an aristocratic past, or a soulless and ineffectual technocratic present, and to those who insist that Iran and China revert to being as unstable, despondent and unpeaceful as they were prior to their modern, socialist-inspired revolutions. 

To such offers Iran and China have permanently responded: “No deal.”

Lastly, this article repeatedly stressed the incredibly animating ideological components at play in this historic international decision. It’s a shame that so many analysts completely disregard modern mankind’s longstanding ideological debates about capitalist or socialist economic practice, the cultural effects of imperialism, and what should be truly classified as “progressive” or “reactionary” politics. There isn’t a new international order, but there is clearly a second international order now on offer — it should be openly compared and contrasted.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

China Looks to the Arctic to Avoid Another Suez Slowdown “ناشونال انترست”: الصين تطلع إلى القطب الشمالي كممر بديل عن قناة السويس

لا تزال الملاحة في القطب الشمالي مقتصرة على كاسحات الجليد.
Navigation in the Arctic is still restricted to icebreakers.

Only time will tell if the Transpolar Route will pan out—if climate change and a shrinking polar ice cap will make this a truly viable maritime superhighway. But Beijing is betting it will.

by Andrew Latham

April 2, 2021 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2021-03-29T152423Z_2011726512_RC23LM97BH7Z_RTRMADP_3_EGYPT-SUEZCANAL-SHIP.JPG.jpg

As the events in the Suez Canal over the past week have reminded us, the world’s great sea lanes—the arteries through which flows the lifeblood of the global economy—are defined as much by chokepoints as by open waters. Some of these chokepoints are well known: the Panama Canal, the Straits of Gibraltar, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Suez Canal itself. Others figure somewhat less prominently in our collective geographic imagination: the Strait of Molucca, the Turkish Straits, the Bab el-Mandeb or Gate of Tears, and the Lombok Strait. But make no mistake: whether well-known or not, choke points define the world’s seaway, and keeping those chokepoints unobstructed is a core interest of any nation that depends on seaborne trade for its wealth and wellbeing.

Again, as the events of the past week or so have made us keenly aware, accidental blockage of one of these chokepoints is an ever-present risk. There is always the possibility that a container ship or tanker will come to grief and obstruct one of the narrower choke points. But the real danger, the one that keeps both maritime insurance companies and naval strategic planners up at night, is the prospect of the purposeful closure of such choke points by military force, either during war or in conflicts short of war. These choke points can be pinched shut in times of conflict by mines, missiles, or blockades. This is much easier to do than controlling the high seas or denying access to those seas. And even the prospect of heightened tensions in places like the Strait of Hormuz can send maritime insurance rates skyrocketing. Should any of these vital passageways be closed due to a deliberate act of war, the geopolitical and economic consequences could be cataclysmic. And if they are closed by one party to a conflict at the expense of another.

It is against that backdrop that one must view the People’s Republic of China’s recent interest in the Arctic.

In January 2018, China introduced its Arctic Policy, which declared that China is a “Near Arctic” state. The document goes on to call for greater Chinese participation in “resource exploration and exploitation” in the region, and a greater role for China in regional forums. Beyond that document, China has also made clear that it envisions a greater role for the Chinese military in securing China’s polar interests. Simply put, China now sees itself as an active participant and major stakeholder in Arctic affairs. It also recognizes that it needs to develop the power projection capabilities—forces, basing infrastructure, etc.—that would enable it to fulfill its Arctic vocation.

The logic behind this new policy is twofold. On the one hand, there are considerable oil, natural gas, and other natural resources that are becoming increasingly accessible as the Arctic ice melts. Various studies, for example, show that the Arctic contains an estimated 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered fossil fuel resources, with perhaps 90 billion barrels of oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas located beneath the region’s disputed international waters. And the region also contains considerable deposits of rare earth elements (REEs)—minerals essential to cutting-edge military, computing, and environmentally-friendly technologies, such as electric vehicles, wind power turbines, and solar panels. China sees both commercial and strategic opportunities in the Arctic and is positioning itself to exploit those opportunities.

On the other hand, and at least equally importantly, Beijing is interested in the Arctic because it offers a less vulnerable route to the European market. At the moment, the vast majority of China’s trade with the Middle East, Africa, and Europe must pass through at least two of the world’s maritime chokepoints. The route to the Persian Gulf involves transiting both the Strait of Malacca and the Strait of Hormuz. Similarly, to sail from Shanghai to the Mediterranean, a ship must pass through the Strait of Malacca, the Gate of Tears, and the Suez Canal. At each of these chokepoints, transit can be denied by both hostile states and non-state actors.

Recognizing the strategic vulnerability inherent in this situation, Beijing has naturally begun seeking alternatives. One approach has been to invest in alternative overland trade routes through its Belt and Road Initiative. Another has been to build pipelines and transportation infrastructure linking the Pakistani port of Gwadar to Western China. And Beijing has aggressively courted the Panamanian government in order to secure Chinese access to the canal. China has even proposed building a canal through the Kra Isthmus in Thailand with the aim of bypassing the Straits of Molucca. Finally, Beijing has increased the size, capability, and reach of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy and developed the “String of Pearls”—a network of Chinese military and commercial facilities extending from the Chinese mainland to Port Sudan in the Horn of Africa—to support its efforts to keep Chinese maritime trade flowing across the Indo-Pacific region.

But perhaps the most ambitious approach has been to seek a route to Europe and onward that avoids all the major choke points from Shanghai to Piraeus, a route that is far less vulnerable to interdiction by hostile powers. This route, literally running across the top of the world, is the Transpolar or Trans-Arctic Route. Unlike the Northern Sea Route, another alternate Arctic passage that runs along Russia’s Arctic coastline and within Russian waters, the Transpolar Route is almost entirely in international waters. It runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean across the center of the Arctic Ocean, passing close to the North Pole. While currently navigable only by heavy icebreakers, and, therefore, not suited to commercial sea traffic, the shrinking of the polar ice cap means that by 2030 it will be passable by commercial vessels.

Such a route has compelling commercial advantages. For journeys between Europe and China, the Northern Sea Route can already be two to three weeks faster than the Suez Canal. By cutting straight across the Arctic, the Transpolar Route could save an additional two days. But it also offers something at least as important: the strategic advantage of not passing through any of the world’s major chokepoints.

Only time will tell if the Transpolar Route will pan out—if climate change and a shrinking polar ice cap will make this a truly viable maritime superhighway. But Beijing is betting it will. And the recent events in the Suez may well result in China doubling down on that bet.

Andrew Latham is a professor of political science at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota; and a Research Associate with the Centre for Defence and Security Studies, Canada. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science, with a concentration in International Relations and Strategic Studies.

Adaptedly translated into Arabic: Haitham Muzahim

“ناشونال انترست”: الصين تطلع إلى القطب الشمالي كممر بديل عن قناة السويس

الكاتب: أندرو لاثام

المصدر: ذا ناشونال انترست

تراهن بكين على أن تغيّر المناخ وتقلّص الغطاء الجليدي القطبي سيجعلان الطريق عبر القطب الشمالي طريقاً بحرياً سريعاً إلى أوروبا وما بعدها.

لا تزال الملاحة في القطب الشمالي مقتصرة على كاسحات الجليد.
لا تزال الملاحة في القطب الشمالي مقتصرة على كاسحات الجليد

كتب الأستاذ الجامعي والباحث الكندي أندرو لاثام مقالة في مجلة “ذا ناشونال انترست” الأميركية تناول فيها الأزمة الأخيرة في قناة السويس عندما سدّت سفينة شحن الممر المائي العالمي وعطلت مرور السفن التجارية لنحو أسبوع، كاشفاً أن الصين تفكر بممر مائي بديل عبر القطب الشمالي أقصر مسافة وأكثر أمناً، لتجارتها مع أوروبا والأميركيتين.

وقال الكاتب إن الأحداث التي وقعت في قناة السويس خلال الأسبوع الماضي، ذكّرتنا بأن الممرات البحرية الكبرى في العالم – الشرايين التي يتدفق من خلالها شريان الحياة للاقتصاد العالمي – يتم تحديدها من خلال نقاط الاختناق بقدر ما يتم تحديدها من خلال المياه المفتوحة. وأضاف أن بعض هذه الممرات معروفة جيداً على غرار قناة بنما، ومضيق جبل طارق، ومضيق هرمز، وقناة السويس نفسها. بينما ثمة ممرات أخرى أقل بروزاً في خيالنا الجغرافي الجماعي مثل مضيق ملوكا والمضيق التركي وباب المندب أو بوابة الدموع ومضيق لومبوك. 

وقال الكاتب إنه ينبغي ألا نخطئ سواء كانت هذه الممرات معروفة أم لا، فإن نقاط الاختناق تحدد ممر العالم البحري، والحفاظ على تلك النقاط الخانقة من دون عوائق هو مصلحة أساسية لأي دولة تعتمد على التجارة المنقولة بحراً من أجل ثروتها ورفاهيتها.

وأضاف أن أحداث الأسبوع الماضي جعلتنا ندرك جيداً أن الانسداد العرضي لإحدى نقاط الاختناق هذه يمثل خطراً دائماً. فهناك دائماً احتمال أن تتعطل سفينة أو ناقلة حاويات وتعيق إحدى نقاط الاختناق الأضيق. لكن الخطر الحقيقي، الذي يبقي شركات التأمين البحري والمخططين الاستراتيجيين البحريين مستيقظين في الليل، هو احتمال الإغلاق المتعمد لنقاط الاختناق هذه بالقوة العسكرية، إما أثناء الحرب أو في النزاعات من دون الحرب. إذ يمكن إغلاق نقاط الاختناق هذه في أوقات النزاع بواسطة الألغام أو الصواريخ أو الحصار. وهذا أسهل بكثير من السيطرة على أعالي البحار أو منع الوصول إلى تلك البحار. وحتى احتمال تصاعد التوترات في أماكن مثل مضيق هرمز يمكن أن يؤدي إلى ارتفاع شديد في أسعار التأمين البحري. وفي حالة إغلاق أي من هذه الممرات الحيوية بسبب عمل حربي متعمد، قد تكون العواقب الجيوسياسية والاقتصادية كارثية. 

خلفيات اهتمام الصين بالقطب الشمالي

ورأى الباحث أنه في ظل هذه الخلفية، يجب على المرء أن ينظر إلى الاهتمام الأخير لجمهورية الصين الشعبية بالقطب الشمالي. ففي كانون الثاني / يناير، قدمت الصين سياسة القطب الشمالي، والتي أعلنت فيها أن الصين دولة “بالقرب من القطب الشمالي”. وتدعو الوثيقة إلى مشاركة صينية أكبر في “استكشاف الموارد واستغلالها” في المنطقة، وإلى دور أكبر للصين في المنتديات الإقليمية الخاصة بالقطب. وإلى جانب تلك الوثيقة، أوضحت الصين كذلك أنها تتصور دورًا أكبر للجيش الصيني في تأمين المصالح القطبية للصين. وببساطة، ترى الصين نفسها الآن كمشارك نشط وصاحبة مصلحة رئيسية في شؤون القطب الشمالي. كما تدرك أنها بحاجة إلى تطوير قدراتها العسكرية، والبنية التحتية الأساسية، وما إلى ذلك والتي من شأنها أن تمكنها من الوفاء بمهمتها القطبية.

الموارد النفطية والمعدنية في القطب الشمالي

وأضاف الكاتب أن المنطق الكامن وراء هذه السياسة الصينية الجديدة ذو شقين. فهناك، من جهة، قدر كبير من النفط والغاز الطبيعي والموارد الطبيعية الأخرى التي يمكن الوصول إليها بشكل متزايد مع ذوبان الجليد في القطب الشمالي. وتظهر دراسات مختلفة أن القطب الشمالي يحتوي على ما يقدر بنحو 22 في المائة من موارد الوقود الأحفوري غير المكتشفة في العالم، مع ربما 90 مليار برميل من النفط و1670 تريليون قدم مكعب من الغاز الطبيعي، تقع تحت المياه الدولية المتنازع عليها في المنطقة. كما تحتوي المنطقة على رواسب كبيرة من العناصر الأرضية النادرة، وهي معادن ضرورية للتكنولوجيات العسكرية والحاسوبية والصديقة للبيئة المتطورة، مثل المركبات الكهربائية وتوربينات طاقة الرياح والألواح الشمسية. 

وترى الصين هذه الفرص التجارية والاستراتيجية في القطب الشمالي وهي تستعد لاستغلال تلك الفرص.

ومن جهة أخرى، وبنفس القدر من الأهمية على الأقل، تهتم بكين بالقطب الشمالي لأنه يقدم طريقاً أقل عرضة للخطر إلى السوق الأوروبية. في الوقت الحالي، يجب أن تمر الغالبية العظمى من تجارة الصين مع الشرق الأوسط وإفريقيا وأوروبا عبر اثنين على الأقل من الممرات البحرية في العالم. يشمل الطريق المؤدي إلى الخليج عبور كل من مضيق ملقا ومضيق هرمز. 

وللإبحار من مدينة شنغهاي الصينية إلى البحر الأبيض المتوسط​​، يجب أن تمر السفينة عبر مضيق ملقا وبوابة الدموع وقناة السويس. وفي كل من هذه النقاط الخانقة، يمكن أن تمنع كل من الدول المعادية والجهات الفاعلة غير الحكومية العبور.

وقال الكاتب إنه إدراكاً منها لهذا الضعف الاستراتيجي الموجود في هذا الوضع، بدأت بكين البحث عن بدائل. وكان أحد الأساليب هو الاستثمار في طرق التجارة البرية البديلة من خلال “مبادرة الحزام والطريق”. وكان الأسلوب الآخر هو بناء خطوط أنابيب وبنية تحتية للنقل تربط ميناء غوادر الباكستاني بغرب الصين.

كما دأبت بكين على التودد بقوة إلى الحكومة البنمية من أجل تأمين وصول الصين إلى القناة. واقترحت الصين حتى بناء قناة عبر كرا إيثموس في تايلاند بهدف تجاوز مضيق مولوكا. 

وأخيراً، زادت بكين حجم بحرية جيش التحرير الشعبي الصيني وقدراتها ووصولها وطورت “سلسلة اللآلئ” – وهي شبكة من المنشآت العسكرية والتجارية الصينية التي تمتد من البر الرئيسي الصيني إلى بورتسودان (في السودان) في القرن الأفريقي – لدعم جهودها للحفاظ على تدفق التجارة البحرية الصينية عبر منطقة المحيطين الهندي والهادئ.

البحث عن طريق أقصر وأضمن

وأضاف الباحث: قد يكون النهج الأكثر طموحاً هو البحث عن طريق إلى أوروبا وما بعدها يتجنب جميع نقاط الاختناق الرئيسية من شنغهاي إلى بيرايوس، وهو طريق أقل عرضة للاعتراض من قبل القوى المعادية. هذا الطريق، الذي يمتد عبر الجزء العلوي من العالم، هو طريق عبر القطب الشمالي. وعلى عكس طريق البحر الشمالي، وهو ممر قطبي بديل آخر، يمتد على طول ساحل القطب الشمالي لروسيا وداخل المياه الروسية، فإن الطريق العابر للقطب يقع بالكامل تقريباً في المياه الدولية. فهو يمتد من المحيط الأطلسي إلى المحيط الهادئ عبر وسط المحيط المتجمد الشمالي، ويمر بالقرب من القطب الشمالي. وفي حين أن الغطاء الجليدي القطبي لا يمكن ملاحته حاليًا إلا بواسطة كاسحات الجليد الثقيلة، وبالتالي فهو غير مناسب لحركة الملاحة البحرية التجارية، فإن تقلّص الغطاء الجليدي القطبي بحلول عام 2030 سيكون الطريق سالكاً للسفن التجارية.

وتابع أندرو لاثام يقول: مثل هذا الطريق له مزايا تجارية مقنعة. فيمكن أن يكون طريق بحر الشمال للرحلات بين أوروبا والصين، أسرع من قناة السويس بأسبوعين إلى ثلاثة أسابيع. ومن خلال قطع القطب الشمالي مباشرة، يمكن أن يوفر الطريق العابر للقطب يومين إضافيين. كما أن هذا الطريق يقدم شيئاً آخر بنفس الأهمية وهو الميزة الإستراتيجية المتمثلة في عدم المرور عبر أي من نقاط الاختناق الرئيسية في العالم.

وختم الكاتب قائلاً: إن الوقت فقط سيحدد ما إذا تغيّر المناخ وتقلّص الغطاء الجليدي القطبي سيجعلانه طريقاً بحرياً سريعاً قابلاً للتطبيق. لكن بكين تراهن على أنها ستفعل ذلك. وقد تؤدي الأحداث الأخيرة في السويس إلى أن تضاعف الصين رهانها هذا.

*أندرو لاثام أستاذ العلوم السياسية بكلية ماكالستر في سانت بول، مينيسوتا، وهو باحث مشارك في مركز دراسات الدفاع والأمن في كندا. 

نقله إلى العربية بتصرف: هيثم مزاحم

How Eurasia will be interconnected

How Eurasia will be interconnected

April 04, 2021

by Pepe Escobar posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The extraordinary confluence between the signing of the Iran-China strategic partnership deal and the Ever Given saga in the Suez Canal is bound to spawn a renewed drive to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and all interconnected corridors of Eurasia integration.

This is the most important geo-economic development in Southwest Asia in ages – even more crucial than the geopolitical and military support to Damascus by Russia since 2015.

Multiple overland railway corridors across Eurasia featuring cargo trains crammed with freight – the most iconic of which is arguably Chongqin-Duisburg – are a key plank of BRI. In a few years, this will all be conducted on high-speed rail.

The key overland corridor is Xinjiang-Kazakhstan – and then onwards to Russia and beyond; the other one traverses Central Asia and Iran, all the way to Turkey, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe. It may take time – in terms of volume – to compete with maritime routes, but the substantial reduction in shipping time is already propelling a massive cargo surge.

The Iran-China strategic connection is bound to accelerate all interconnected corridors leading to and crisscrossing Southwest Asia.

Crucially, multiple BRI trade connectivity corridors are directly linked to establishing alternative routes to oil and gas transit, controlled or “supervised” by the Hegemon since 1945: Suez, Malacca, Hormuz, Bab al Mandeb.

Informal conversations with Persian Gulf traders have revealed huge skepticism about the foremost reason for the Ever Given saga. Merchant marine pilots agree that winds in a desert storm were not enough to harass a state of the art mega-container ship equipped with very complex navigation systems. The pilot error scenario – induced or not – is being seriously considered.

Then there’s the predominant shoptalk: stalled Ever Given was Japanese owned, leased from Taiwan, UK-insured, with an all-Indian crew, transporting Chinese merchandise to Europe. No wonder cynics, addressing the whole episode, are asking, Cui Bono?

Persian Gulf traders, in hush hush mode, also drop hints about the project for Haifa to eventually become the main port in the region, in close cooperation with the Emirates via a railway to be built between Jabal Ali in Dubai to Haifa, bypassing Suez.

Back to facts on the ground, the most interesting short-term development is how Iran’s oil and gas may be shipped to Xinjiang via the Caspian Sea and Kazakhstan – using a to-be-built Trans-Caspian pipeline.

That falls right into classic BRI territory. Actually more than that, because Kazakhstan is a partner not only of BRI but also the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

From Beijing’s point of view, Iran is also absolutely essential for the development of a land corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea and further to Europe via the Danube.

It’s obviously no accident that the Hegemon is on high alert in all points of this trade corridor. “Maximum pressure” sanctions and hybrid war against Iran; an attempt to manipulate the Armenia-Azerbaijan war; the post-color revolution environment in both Georgia and Ukraine – which border the Black Sea; NATO’s overarching shadow over the Balkans; it’s all part of the plot.

Now get me some Lapis Lazuli

Another fascinating chapter of Iran-China concerns Afghanistan. According to Tehran sources, part of the strategic agreement deals with Iran’s area of influence in Afghanistan and the evolution of still another connectivity corridor all the way to Xinjiang.

And here we go back to the always intriguing

Lapis Lazuli corridor – which was conceptualized in 2012, initially for increased connectivity between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

Lapis Lazuli, wonderfully evocative, harks back to the export of an array of semiprecious stones via the Ancient Silk Roads to the Caucasus, Russia, the Balkans and North Africa.

Now the Afghan government sees the ambitious 21st century remix as departing from Herat (a key area of Persian influence), continuing to the Caspian Sea port of Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan, via a Trans-Caspian pipeline to Baku, onwards to Tblisi and the Georgian ports of Poti and Batumi in the Black Sea, and finally connected to Kars and Istanbul.

This is really serious business; a drive that may potentially link the

Eastern Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean.

Since Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea in 2018, in the Kazakh port of Aktau, what’s interesting is that their major issues are now discussed at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), where Russia and Kazakhstan are full members; Iran will soon be; Azerbaijan is a dialogue partner; and Turkmenistan is a permanent guest.

One of the key connectivity problems to be addressed is the viability of building a canal from the Caspian Sea to Iran’s shores in the Persian Gulf. That would cost at least US$7 billion. Another issue is the imperative transition towards container cargo transport in the Caspian. In SCO terms, that will increase Russian trade with India via Iran as well as offering an extra corridor for China trade with Europe.

With Azerbaijan prevailing over Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh flare up, while finally sealing a deal with Turkmenistan over their respective status in the Caspian Sea, impetus for the western part of Lapis Lazuli is now in the cards.

The eastern part is a much more complicated affair, involving an absolutely crucial issue now on the table not only for Beijing but for the SCO: the integration of Afghanistan to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

In late 2020, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan agreed to build what analyst Andrew Korybko delightfully described as the PAKAFUZ railwayPAKAFUZ will be a key step to expand CPEC to Central Asia, via Afghanistan. Russia is more than interested.

This can become a classic case of the evolving BRI-EAEU melting pot. Crunch time – serious decisions included – will happen this summer, when Uzbekistan plans to host a conference called “Central and South Asia: Regional Interconnectedness. Challenges and Opportunities”.

So everything will be proceeding interconnected: a Trans-Caspian link; the expansion of CPEC; Af-Pak connected to Central Asia; an extra Pakistan-Iran corridor (via Balochistan, including the finally possible conclusion of the IP gas pipeline) all the way to Azerbaijan and Turkey; China deeply involved in all these projects.

Beijing will be building roads and pipelines in Iran, including one to ship Iranian natural gas to Turkey. Iran-China, in terms of projected investment, is nearly ten times more ambitious than CPEC. Call it CIEC (China-Iran Economic Corridor).

In a nutshell: the Chinese and Persian civilization-states are on the road to emulate the very close relationship they enjoyed during the Silk Road-era Yuan dynasty in the 13th century.

INSTC or bust

An extra piece of the puzzle concerns how the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) will mix with BRI and the EAEU. Crucially, INSTC also happens to be an alternative to Suez.

Iran, Russia and India have been discussing the intricacies of this 7,200 km-long ship/rail/road trade corridor since 2002. INSTC technically starts in Mumbai and goes all the way via the Indian Ocean to Iran, the Caspian Sea, and then to Moscow. As a measure of its appeal, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Oman, and Syria are all INSTC members.

Much to the delight of Indian analysts, INSTC reduces transit time from West India to Western Russia from 40 to 20 days, while cutting costs by as much as 60%. It’s already operational – but not as a continuous, free flow sea and rail link.

New Delhi already spent $500 million on a crucial project: the expansion of Chabahar port in Iran, which was supposed to become its entry point for a made in India Silk Road to Afghanistan and onward to Central Asia. But then it all got derailed by New Delhi’s flirting with the losing Quad proposition.

India also invested $1.6 billion in a railway between Zahedan, the key city in southeast Iran, and the Hajigak iron/steel mining in central Afghanistan. This all falls into a possible Iran-India free trade agreement which is being negotiated since 2019 (for the moment, on stand-by). Iran and Russia already clinched a similar agreement. And India wants the same with the EAEU as a whole.

Following the Iran-China strategic partnership, chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Mojtaba Zonnour, has already hinted that the next step should be an

Iran-Russia strategic cooperation deal, privileging “rail services, roads, refineries, petrochemicals, automobiles, oil, gas, environment and knowledge-based companies”.

What Moscow is already seriously considering is to build a canal between the Caspian and the Sea of Azov, north of the Black Sea. Meanwhile, the already built Caspian port of Lagan is a certified game-changer.

Lagan directly connects with multiple BRI nodes. There’s rail connectivity to the Trans-Siberian all the way to China. Across the Caspian, connectivity includes Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan and Baku in Azerbaijan, which is the starting point of the BTK railway through to the Black Sea and then all the way from Turkey to Europe.

On the Iranian stretch of the Caspian, Amirabad port links to the INSTC, Chabahar port and further on to India. It’s not an accident that several Iranian companies, as well China’s Poly Group and China Energy Engineering Group International want to invest in Lagan.

What we see in play here is Iran at the center of a maze progressively interconnected with Russia, China and Central Asia. When the Caspian Sea is finally linked to international waters, we will see a de facto alternative trade/transport corridor to Suez.

Post-Iran-China, it’s not far-fetched anymore to even consider the possible emergence in a not too distant future of a Himalaya Silk Road uniting BRICS members China and India (think, for instance, of the power of Himalayan ice converging into a shared Hydropower Tunnel).

As it stands, Russia is very much focused on limitless possibilities in Southwest Asia, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made it clear in the 10th Middle East conference at the Valdai club. The Hegemon’s treats on multiple fronts – Ukraine, Belarus, Syria, Nord Stream 2 – pale in comparison.

The new architecture of 21st century geopolitics is already taking shape, with China providing multiple trade corridors for non-stop economic development while Russia is the reliable provider of energy and security goods, as well as the conceptualizer of a Greater Eurasia home, with “strategic partnership” Sino/Russian diplomacy playing the very long game.

Southwest Asia and Greater Eurasia have already seen which way the (desert) winds are blowing. And soon will the masters of international capital. Russia, China, Iran, India, Central Asia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Korean Peninsula, everyone will experience a capital surge – financial vultures included. Following the Greed is Good gospel, Eurasia is about to become the ultimate Greed frontier.

Iran-China deal hailed as geopolitical game changer

By VT Editors -April 8, 2021

Carl Zha is an American-Chinese social media activist with an extensive knowledge of Chinese foreign policies. He tells Press TV about the importance of the Iran-China economic pact and its possible ramifications for the region and beyond.

This article is based on an episode of Presscast, a podcast by Press TV

Carl Zha is an American-Chinese social media activist with an extensive knowledge of Chinese foreign policies. He tells Press TV about the importance of the Iran-China economic pact and its possible ramifications for the region and beyond.

This article is based on an episode of Presscast, a podcast by Press TV

Very little has been published on the Iran-China agreement and its possible outcome for the region since it was announced last year.

How important is this deal?

So, we know approximate figure, 400, billion (dollar value of agreement), it’s a pretty big number, and it’s touted as a strategic partnership between China and Iran, where both sides committed to broaden the economic cooperation that both sides already have but increasing investment, increasing cooperation in developing infrastructures. So I think it’s a really big deal because we have all the usual outlets in the mainstream media talking about it or the conservative media in the US are, are taking the stance, oh, you know, like the “Biden’s screwed up. He made Iran and China get together, now they have formed the axis of evil, now we are screwed!” You know it’s a good thing when these people are starting to talk like that.

What are the western media criticisms of the deal?

Um, actually I hear a lot of, you know, I saw a lot of criticism for like the, the Iranian dissidents in the diaspora, I mean a lot of them are posing this as somehow Iran selling out to China. You know I see like an astroturf Twitter campaign about you, Iran, get out of “China, get out of Iran”, right, which is totally overblown because as far as I know, you know China is not is not, you know, posting its military to Iran and China. China is in Iran to do business. Right and it’s a deal, agreed by two sovereign governments between the sovereign government of Iran and China. It’s not like one side is pointing a gun to the other side, say hey, sign at the dotted line, and as a matter of fact, it has nothing to do with the United States.

Iran and China have long standing ties through the Silk Road

The fact that people in the US media are getting worked up about it is rather ridiculous, (since) this is a deal between two nations with long standing ties through the Silk Road, I mean Iran and China have had a historical relationship for over 1000 years, you know, way longer than United States even existed. The fact that the people in Washington, who can barely find Iran and China on a map, are worked up about a deal of cooperation, mind you have a deal of cooperation and friendship between Iran and China. It says a lot more about them than about the deal itself it’s, it’s this fear that oh my god you know all these people are ganging up on us. It’s like no, this has nothing to do with the US.

US foreign policy hostile toward both nations

Iran and China are just continuing their historical relationship. There’s every reason for the two nations to work together, especially when both are being put under pressure by US foreign policy, you know, US foreign policy has been very hostile toward Iran since 1979. US foreign policy has been increasingly hostile toward China since 2010. So I mean, when, when US policymakers realize, China now is in a position strong enough to challenge the US hegemony, and that’s what they’re really worried about they’re worried about the position of the US as a hegemon [sic] in the world; they are worried that US hegemony is going to disappear and be replaced by a multipolar, multilateral world, which, I don’t understand why that’s a bad day, for them it is.

Ever since the United States pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018, and reapplied sanctions China remained the sole buyer of Iranian petroleum, the sole lifeline that Iran could rely on at the time was coming from China and what they’re doing now is just a continuation of their previous businesses dealings which has now been made official.

China and Iran Cooperation goes a long way. I mean not just, just, historically, but also in the modern time, you know China has always dealt with Iran and in the latest round of sanctions  the US placed on Iran, China continue to do business (with Iran) despite the US sanctions because, you know, the, the US sanctions rely on the premise that the US has dominate the global finance right and because US threatened to sanction, any company, any government that has dealing with Iran, but China is in a position today where you can basically ignore the US sanction and continue to, to work on its traditional relationship, normal relationship, with Iran. And I think that is what has upset people in Washington, because they see the US is losing its grip.

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

This deal comes in the backdrop of the broader Belt and Road initiative, if I’m not mistaken, please give us more information if you available. This corridor that China has been trying to build through Pakistan and now it connects Iran to this road and maybe later Turkey can, you know, get added to this, how do you view this?

Yeah, I mean, actually the Belt and Road Initiative serves two purposes. The first, the most important purpose is to build up infrastructures throughout the world, throughout especially the global south. So, people there can be increased interconnectivity in the world, that that, you know, people make it seems like, oh, China is building a port So China’s increasing its inputs, but look, a port is is open, a port sits on the ocean, It’s open to anyone. You know Chinese can use the Japanese can use, anybody who wants to do business in Iran can use that board. So that’s a point that’s increasingly global interconnectivity includes the increase of global trade, which for some weird reason the US is trying to oppose. I mean, they, they’re the real reason is really about preserving the USA, Germany, but they, they’re really bending backwards to perform all kinds of mental gymnastics to justify why that’s, that’s a bad thing. And I think he shows how desperate they are. But, as you mentioned the Belt and Road Initiative, there’s another purpose of building a road initiative, it is to bypass the US Navy’s chokehold on the, the world, shipping, trade, because, you know, US Navy, makes no, they do not even disguise the fact that they, they, they always talk about the chokehold on the Malacca Strait, which is where most of the Middle East oil flows to East Asia like two countries like China, Japan and Korea, and, and what China is doing is kind of diversify its energies, by, by building pipelines and building roads and rails through, you know through Central Asia through Pakistan to Iran so they, the oil or gas doesn’t have to go, get on tankers and goes through the Strait of Malacca to China, they can maybe go overland and then the trade can also be carried on overland, not having to route to avoid a possible US Navy blockade, you know like what they’re currently doing right now, sending warships to the Persian Gulf, sending worships to the South China Sea, that’s basically the US demonstrating “look I can, I can, you know choke off your lifeline, anytime”, and the Belt and Road Initiative bypasses that by building alternative routes.

Peking is increasing its influence with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka which may give India cause for consternation.

https://if-cdn.com/ubIRQ9A?v=1&app=1

Do you think that Delhi may feel left out as the route is not to go through India but through Pakistan or maybe Sri Lanka?

Yeah, I mean, India, feels like the South Asian subcontinent is its own backyard, you know, it feels like you know it feels pressure when China builds a relationship with its neighbors like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal.  But China actually very much want to include India in the Belt and Road Initiative, because India is a huge nation with 1.3 billion people, it’s a large market, and China very much want India to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, by having deepened economic engagement with India. But the problem with India is that if you wants to keep China at arm’s length, because they see this rather than as an opportunity of cooperation and engagement, they see this as some kind of, you know Chinese influence encroaching on other nations. India is also  participating in the so called plod the, you know the cloud of democracy that’s promoted by the United States that’s the US, Japan, Australia, India to form this circle of containment around China, and that will just increase the kind of the friction between, between India and China, but like I said, you know, like, I think Chinese government will be very happy if India just suddenly says we’re going to be on board with the Belt and Road Initiative, you know we love to trade with China, but that’s not happening right now, India has recently banned all the Chinese apps in their market. So, so they’re, they’re following the kind of the US led initiative to decouple from the Chinese economy, and also India had, you know that Iran and India, they had a deal concerning the port of Chabahar. So, so, like India did have this opportunity to, you know, engage with Iran, engage with China, it’s really up to India to decide what they really want.

I think they had payment issues due to US sanctions and that stopped them from developing further. Iran certainly needed this agreement, for certain reasons that you might be aware of. But do you think that China also needed this agreement to happen?

Oh sure, I mean, you know, the whole point of the Belt and Road initiative is, you know, China was to engage more deeply with the global south countries and Iran is a very important strategic country in the Middle East. It sits right by the Persian Gulf, but you know, it sits right across Hormuz Strait, a very strategic point. And so, you know China very much would like to deepen its engagement with Iran, especially right now, when both China and Iran face heavy diplomatic pressure from the United States it makes even more sense for the two sides to to cooperate and, you know, China also wanted, like, kind of, you know, make more inroads into the broader Middle East market because you know, traditionally China imports its energy from the Middle East, including Iran. But right now, you know, China has, has built up a lot of capacity in the past decades, just building out its own domestic infrastructure. And now, China has acquired all this expertise, and all these capacity but China is is being built out in China are people seeing videos of Chinese high speed rails and bridges. Now, all these Chinese companies they have all these expertise and all this capacity. The whole point of the Belt and Road initiative is to invest abroad, you know, to continue to provide opportunities for these Chinese companies to do business abroad, and to export the excessive Chinese capacity, and Iran is a very important country in the Middle East; traditionally Iran is like the centrepiece of the Middle East. It sits right, square, in the middle of the Silk Road and culturally, politically, economically Iran has always been important. So, so for this (reason), I think it’s a major win for China as well.

How do you think this deal can change the geopolitical alignment in the region, what do you think things will change in the region in the next five years?

Yeah, I think, like you said there has always been a relationship between Iran and China. This just makes it more official, you know, traditionally, China has always traded with Iran buying energy, selling everything including weapons. So, but, but it’s more of an ad hoc basis, because there’s almost never like any kind of formal alliance between the two nations, despite both facing the Western pressures, but not now. I think they, this is like the official blessing of the relationship like, let’s, let’s get together, I think it provides a more supportive network, a framework for them to be engaged in a more productive, cooperation.

Now, maybe this deal can give Iran, another bargaining chip by telling the United States okay you’re not going to buy our oil anymore. No problem. We sold it to China. Do you think this is going to help Iran in it negotiations?

Oh yeah, definitely no doubt I mean what China did in a lot of places was to provide an alternative to the World Bank, in that to all these US dominated international institutions, and, now Iran can play that China card like luck. You know it’s not; we’re not coming to you because you are our only option, you know, you can give us a better deal, or we can walk away.  You are totally right that you give yourself a stronger negotiation position at the table.

ABOUT VT EDITORS

VT EditorsVeterans Today

VT Editors is a General Posting account managed by Jim W. Dean and Gordon Duff.

All content herein is owned and copyrighted by Jim W. Dean and Gordon Duff

editors@veteranstoday.com

Biden’s Grand Strategy Is Delusional And Dangerous

31ST MARCH 2021 

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Biden

The Biden Administration continues to push its delusional and dangerous grand strategy, which doesn’t even serve the US’ own interests but just the short-term narrow ones of a certain segment of its economic and political elite.

US President Joe Biden’s grand strategy is a mix of Democrat value signaling and Republican aggression, which represents a delusional and dangerous combination. The first observation is evidenced by his administration’s emphasis on so-called “democracy” and “human rights” ideals as manifested by its information warfare campaigns against China and Russia on these false bases. The second, meanwhile, is proven by its attempts to assemble alliances to contain those two on the aforementioned pretexts using the Quad, NATO, and the US’ new proposal to pioneer a competitor to China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

About the last of these three means, Biden told his British counterpart Friday afternoon that “I suggested we should have, essentially, a similar initiative, pulling from the democratic states, helping those communities around the world that, in fact, need help.” This is the definition of delusional for several reasons. Firstly, economic development is purely apolitical and shouldn’t discriminate against any state’s sovereign choice to govern themselves however they believe is best. Secondly, for this reason and given its enormous scope and scale, BRI doesn’t have any competitors but only partners. Thirdly, many of these partners are US allies.

For instance, last November’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) brought China, ASEAN, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea into a single trading bloc, the last four partners of which as well as ASEAN’s Philippines and Thailand are American allies. One month later, the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) between China and the EU saw many NATO members agreeing to expand financial and other related ties with the People’s Republic. Finally, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to West Asia last week strengthened his country’s economic connections with regional US allies like Saudi Arabia.

Despite China’s growing relations with Europe, West Asia, and East and Southeast Asia – which can altogether be simply grouped as Eurasia – the US still thinks that it can turn some of those countries, especially its traditional allies there, against the People’s Republic. It’s here where delusion becomes dangerous because the worst-case scenario of American meddling could result in serious economic damage being inflicted on its so-called “allies”. The US is so delusional, however, that it truly doesn’t care about anyone else’s interests other than its own which explains why it’s willing to sacrifice its “allies’” interests in advance of its zero-sum ones.

Therein lies the primary problem, namely the US’ delusional refusal to accept that the aggressive zero-sum mindset which is responsible for its gradual decline from international prominence is outdated as China’s new model of International Relations has successfully replaced that counterproductive philosophy with the win-win one. The Biden Administration thought that it could make cosmetic changes to American policy such as spewing multilateral rhetoric in an attempt to differentiate it from its predecessor, but the reality is that nothing of significance has changed since former President Trump.

Even the Biden Administration’s much-touted peace proposals in Afghanistan and Yemen are faltering, the first after his warning that American troops might not withdraw from the war-torn country by May as his predecessor previously agreed prompted the Taliban to issue more threats while the second has failed to have any meaningful impact on the military dynamics there. Moreover, the US continues to illegally occupy Iraq and Syria while Libya remains mired in American-provoked instability. All the rhetoric about resuming cooperation with allies is just a smokescreen for convincing them to join the US’ new anti-Chinese and -Russian coalitions.

Thankfully, the world seems to have learned quite a few lessons during Trump’s four tumultuous years in office. America’s allies are no longer as willing to blindly follow its lead as before. They realized that the US is unreliable and doesn’t always have their best interests in mind. This is increasingly obvious as the Biden Administration continues to push its delusional and dangerous grand strategy, which doesn’t even serve the US’ own interests but just the short-term narrow ones of a certain segment of its economic and political elite. The situation will only improve for average Americans if their leadership finally embraces the win-win philosophy.

The Russian economy – ‘small’, ‘impotent’, ‘insignificant’: true or false?

The Russian economy – ‘small’, ‘impotent’, ‘insignificant’:  true or false?

April 02, 2021

by Arcturus Le for the Saker Blog

In the west, there is perennial bluster about the putative ‘weakness’ of the Russian economy. It is widely accepted as ‘fact’ that the Russian economy is somewhere miserably outside the ‘Top 10’ global economies by GDP, sinking ever deeper year by year towards #15, embarrassingly behind such smaller countries as South Korea, Canada, Italy and on par with countries like Spain, Australia, and Mexico. In fact, many a snarky joke is bandied about on the Atlanticist web about how ‘Russia’s economy is barely the size of Texas’, etc.

This is a total western generated fabrication. In this article, I will prove the following points: that the Russian economy is actually ranked around the top 5 (and arguably even much higher) most powerful on Earth only behind China, US, Japan, and India; that the 2014 western engineered Ruble crisis crashed the specious ‘Nominal GDP’ of Russia by half while not affecting the true GDP nor economic output of Russia—and how this was affected by the geopolitical factors of the time; and that ‘Nominal GDP’ is a spurious canard that does not apply to Russia due to the fact that Russia is a trade surplus economy, and in fact PPP GDP is the accurate way to measure economies like Russia.

First, let us prove the opening point. Around 2014, oil was pricing steadily in the ~$100-115 per barrel range, as can be seen in the graphic below. Then, in 2014 a major geopolitical crisis developed. The U.S. and the CIA staged the Ukrainian coup called ‘Euromaidan’ that overthrew the legitimate Ukrainian government in the opening months of that year. A month later, Crimea held a democratic referendum and became once again Russian. This was a massive blow to the U.S. geopolitically for which Russia had to be punished as it had now grown too strong, winning a major warm-water port in Sevastopol that could now be used to threaten the western Imperialist/Atlanticist designs in the Middle East by way of a conveniently placed fleet access to the Mediterranean.

The Atlanticists took action and with their Saudi Arabian ‘partners’ (underlings) carried out a plan to crash the price per barrel of oil in order to hurt Russia as much as possible, since its economy at the time was still a bit more dependent upon oil and not as diversified as it is today. Such large tectonic shifts take time so their designs took a year or two to fully percolate down into the markets and by 2015-2016 the price of oil crashed from the aforementioned ~$100-115 per barrel range to the ~$40-50 per barrel range, becoming roughly ~50% of its original price. This chart below clearly demonstrates.

As can be seen, at this exact same time, the Ruble to Dollar conversion rate went from a low of roughly ~37 Rubles to 1 Dollar in 2014 (chart above) soaring to the range of ~60-75 Rubles to 1 Dollar the very next year to exactly coincide with the oil price crash. Miraculously, the devaluation corresponds to the exact timeline and severity of the crash of oil—oil dropped by half from ~$100 to ~$50 and Ruble went from ~35 to ~70 against the Dollar by 2015-2016.

As can be seen by the chart below, Russian GDP according to this source was $2,060 billion in 2014, and like magic by 2016 it was reduced to $1,282 billion. This represents a roughly ~40% decrease in line with the Ruble crash.

But, did Russia change overnight in 2015-2016? Was there panic on the streets, disorder and chaos, complete depredation and disintegration of society? After all, a halving of your GDP almost overnight is of such catastrophic proportions as to be unprecedented in history. Imagine, almost overnight the U.S. GDP going from its current figures to that of its 1960 figures (when it was half of today). What kind of chaos would ensue?

Of course, no such thing occurred in Russia, in fact it was barely noticed. Why? Because, the “Nominal GDP” is a fake, currency manipulated, symbolic number that has no actual basis in reality as pertains to the Russian economy. You see, the Nominal GDP in each country is priced in U.S. Dollars. This works for countries which are Trade Deficit countries. A brief discussion of the difference between Trade Deficit and Trade Surplus must ensue in order to fully understand this point. A country which operates on a Trade Deficit (which is most country’s in the world including the U.S.) simply imports more items than it exports. It is a country that relies on importing goods from other countries to survive. The reason this is important is because, since the global financial system operates on the U.S. Dollar basis in accordance with ‘Dollar Hegemony’ i.e. the Dollar as the reserve currency of the world, this means that when your country IMPORTS items, it is pricing them usually in Dollars. So, in short, this means that the price of your country’s native currency to Dollar conversion is important.

Let’s say you are a Trade Deficit country like India, and let’s say hypothetically that the Indian Rupee converts against the Dollar at 50 Rupees to 1 Dollar. That means, if you are buying an imported item that hypothetically costs $100, if your currency is magically crashed to where the Rupee now trades at 100 Rupees to 1 Dollar, instead of that $100 item costing you (50 x 100) 5,000 Rupees, it now costs you (100 x 100) 10,000 Rupees. So, if your country / entire economy thrives on imports, then one can clearly see how a currency devaluation of 50% can destroy your economy. It means every essential item you import, items vital to the economic engine of your country, have overnight become TWICE as expensive as before. This would lead to economic devastation.

But, what if your country is a TRADE SURPLUS country, a rarer breed of highly self-sufficient economies—a list comprising only the most advanced first world nations such as Germany, Japan, China, etc. Russia is in fact amongst this distinguished list. It has one of the largest trade surpluses in the world, while the U.S. is the world’s biggest Trade Deficit, by far.

So, what happens if you are a Trade Surplus country? This means that your country Exports more than it Imports. It means, in short, that the price conversion of the Dollar to your country’s currency is irrelevant because if you are generating everything your country needs within your own borders (self-sustainability), you are naturally pricing those items you yourself create in your own currency. So, what does it matter if the Russian Ruble goes from 30 Rubles to 1 Dollar, to 1000 Rubles to 1 Dollar? If you’re Russian and you’re not importing anything that’s priced in the Dollar, and you’re buying things within your own country priced in Rubles only, then it makes literally zero difference what the Ruble trades against the Dollar. Inside the borders of your own country, a Ruble is a Ruble, its price conversion to the Dollar has no relevance.

It can be seen here that a native currency devaluation does not have much meaning to a Trade Surplus economy. When a Russian citizen goes to a store and buys items, or a Russian company orders equipment or products, they are ordering them in Rubles because Russia makes their own goods and is self-sustaining. So even if the Ruble skyrocketed to 1 million Rubles to 1 Dollar it would be meaningless if you are not buying anything priced in Dollars.

This means that when the Russian Ruble crashed against the USD in 2015-2016 following the manufactured and engineered geopolitical crisis and massive currency manipulation by the corrupt U.S. global financial system, and the Russian Nominal GDP was shown to crash the equivalent rate (because the Nominal GDP is priced in USD), it was actually meaningless and the Russian economy in fact did not take any such major hit at all. The Russian GDP was shown to devalue from ~2 trillion to 1.2 trillion almost ‘over night’ only because it is being fraudulently priced in USD. All that happened was a mathematical calculation of irrelevant Dollar conversion, but actual Russian production and economic power and output did not experience any such effect whatsoever, it was a smoke and mirrors currency manipulation that existed only in the digital bits and bytes of a computer screen.

So, if we now know that the Russian GDP calculation was incorrect, what is the true way to measure it and what is the real Russian GDP? Since we know that Nominal GDP (which is priced in USD) is a fraudulent way to measure the economic power of Trade Surplus countries like Russia, the answer lies in PPP GDP. And of course, as expected, Russian PPP GDP is so high that it was announced by the IMF itself to have overtaken Germany for the #5 spot last year.

But what is most interesting is, prior to the fake ‘on paper’ devaluation of Russian Nominal GDP following the manufactured crisis of 2014-2016, even Russian Nominal GDP was near the Top 6-8 place (depending on which source you used, IMF, Worldbank, etc.). And now we see the PPP figure matches this rightful, accurate position.

But how do we know the PPP figure is accurate? Can we prove that PPP value is more in line with Russia’s true economic standing than the Nominal GDP value? Well certainly there are a few correlational indicators that can prove this for us. There are several indirect tell-tale signs that experts can use to look past fraudulent currency manipulated GDP numbers and gauge the real economic strength and productive virility of a country.

Let’s take a look at annual oil and electricity usage by country. These are important indicators that very closely correlate with a country’s economic power for reasons that should be self-evident: the more robust one’s economy, the more that country will be utilizing oil and electricity in the daily function and growth of that economic engine.

Some may be unconvinced, until looking at the chart above and seeing how well it correlates to the typical GDP standings. The chart shows oil consumption by country and in fact, the top 10 all looks quite similar to and closely mimics the PPP GDP chart. Russia here is seen at #6 just like in the PPP economic standings (where it is either #5 or #6 depending on source), NOT in #11-15 place as the fraudulent Nominal GDP would have you believe. The skeptic might ask, well wouldn’t a large population country be misrepresented on this chart because they use a lot of oil? To answer that, take Indonesia as an example, it has a population almost double that of Russia, yet it is somewhere in the ~15th place in the oil consumption chart, and not surprisingly that also roughly reflects its place in the GDP standings as well. So, as one can see the size of your country or population count is not reflected in the oil consumption chart, in fact it correlates directly to a country’s GDP, with one or two outlier/flukes such as Saudi Arabia which appears high on the chart owing to its over-reliance on gratuitously consuming vast amounts of oil in the process of producing oil and gas in their oil centered economy. The skeptic might similarly ask, well doesn’t Russia also produce a lot of oil? Yes but in this case, as I’ve said, its position in the oil consumption perfectly matches its GDP PPP position AND there are further indicators below that lay the doubts to rest.

Now let’s look at two other indicators of a robust economy, electricity production and consumption.

As can be seen here, the figures also mimic and correlate the GDP PPP figures. The same countries that dominate the Top 10 economies are seen either producing or consuming electricity at rates that correlate to their economic power. Not coincidentally, here too we see Russia placing near the Top 5, just like in the GDP PPP and quite unlike the fraudulent ~#11-15 placement we see in Nominal GDP. Now remember, these figures are not merely a product of population size. If that was the case, then countries with far larger populations than Russia like Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, Bangladesh, and Pakistan would all be way ahead of Russia on the list of energy consumption—yet they are no where on the list. Similarly, countries with SMALLER populations like Germany would not even be in the top 10. Yet Germany is an economic power house and despite having a much smaller population than Russia, appears close to it on the list in perfect accordance with its place on the GDP PPP chart. This clearly indicates that a country’s energy production/consumption is more closely tied to its economic power than mere population size.

Another indicator we can use is total Gold Reserves. These figures also mimic economic standing as only the most economically powerful countries appear in the top 10 in roughly a similar makeup as to their official GDP standings. Gold has long been a telltale indicator of a country’s might, prestige, and economic status. In the chart below, we can see once again, Russia ranks in almost the exact position of its GDP PPP standing as in all the other charts above.

Of course we can use many other indicators, for instance, global military standings. It is widely accepted Russia is at minimum the 2nd most powerful military force on Earth, and the military standings roughly correlate with the same countries in roughly the same positions as they are economically—with the familiar faces of U.S., Russia, China, India, Japan, et al, making up the top of the list. Would you really believe that a country with the acknowledged #2 military on earth is only ranked #15 economically, as per the fraudulent, currency manipulated Nominal GDP list? It beggars all logic. Of course the only rational explanation is that only a country whose economy is in the top 5 powerhouses can maintain the 2nd most powerful military in the world.

One can see that all indicators point to Russia being in the top 5 global economies and that even the fraudulent Nominal GDP figure had Russia at #7 or #8 (depending on source) prior to the artificially engineered oil crisis and currency manipulation that plummeted the Ruble in 2014-2016.

And one last important thing to note. All this discussion revolves around speaking of the Russian economy as if in a vacuum. But one can quickly forget that the Russian economy is arguably the most flagrantly assailed, beleaguered, manipulated, and sabotaged in the world by western/Atlanticist forces. The Russian economy has been under massive sanctions, sabotage, embargoes, etc, since the 2014 crisis began, and yet I have just shown that it is still roughly at the #5 spot right next to the powerhouse of Germany. So, what does this mean? Clearly, that even under intense sabotage and global economic warfare by the entire western political and financial system, even greatly weakened by western forces, the Russian economy is still roughly even with Germany, and only “behind” the U.S., China, Japan, and India (3 of which have vastly larger populations than Russia). Which makes the obvious point that the TRUE Russian economic power, adjusted for the various sanctions and sabotage, is even greater than we can imagine, most likely well ahead of the German and arguably even the Japanese economies.

GERMANY’S POLITICAL CRISIS AND THE FUTURE OF NORD STREAM 2

South Front

April 03, 2021

Germany’s Political Crisis and the Future of Nord Stream 2

To make matters worse, at the EU summit Blinken pointed out that his threats aimed at Nord Stream 2 are a reflection of US Congress laws demanding any and all firms participating in its construction to be sanctioned, though omitting that the Executive Branch has considerable freedom of action in implementing legislation impinging on the presidential foreign policy prerogatives.

It does not appear as if Blinken’s “shock and awe” show on three continents has had the desired results. Germany’s Foreign Ministry pointedly refused to endorse Biden’s characterization of Vladimir Putin as a “killer”, in contrast to several other European countries traditionally adhering to an anti-Russia stance. Moreover, there is no evidence that German companies are about to drop their work on Nord Stream 2. Doing so would be a fatal blow to Germany’s position as the leading EU member state and would introduce a greater degree of chaos into EU power struggles. Factors putting a certain degree of steel into Germany’s spine is the apparent realization that, emboldened by the effectiveness of a mere threat of sanctions against Germany, the US State Department will grow accustomed to using that instrument on a routine basis with Germany and other members of the EU. United States’ apparent desire to denigrate Germany’s international status seems to have led to a few other snubs, such as the failure to invite it to a high-level meeting on Afghanistan that Russia, China, and even Turkey will attend.

Germany’s Green Hell

If the United States has an ace in a hole that might yet reverse the decline of its fortunes, it is the gradual ascendancy of Germany’s Green Party. German and indeed international public opinion have come a long way from the heady days of Spring 2020, when Angela Merkel was roundly hailed as the “scientist” whose combination of empirical astuteness and political savvy would bring COVID-19 to heel, in stark contrast to the ignorant fools that Boris Johnson and Donald Trump were supposed to be. Back in May or June 2020, it certainly did not appear as if anything could threaten Merkel’s political fortunes. Yet it is Merkel who is now facing calls for a Bundestag vote of confidence. The botched pandemic response, the puzzling back-and-forth of lockdowns, relaxations, then new lockdowns, and a number of corruption scandals associated with pandemic response contracts that implicated a number of CDU/CSU deputies, have undermined the public’s confidence in the ruling party and its leadership. It certainly did not help matters that the EU official most closely associated with the botched vaccine procurement at the Union level is the President of the European Commission Ursula van der Leyen who previously occupied several ministerial posts, including that of Defense, in the various Merkel governments.

It is therefore unsurprising that Germany is potentially facing a major electoral upheaval that threatens to significantly rearrange the country’s political landscape. As of March 27, 2021, a Kantar opinion poll attempting to ascertain the level of support each of Germany’s parties might enjoy during this year’s Bundestag elections showed CDU/CSU still in the lead with potentially 25% of the vote, with the Greens in close second at 23%. The other political parties posted notably weaker figures. The once-dominant SPD scored only 17%, Alternative for Germany (AfD) and FDP 10% apiece, Die Linke 9%, with 6% distributed among the remaining parties. Other German opinion polls delivered roughly similar results, varying only by a couple percentage points.

Its rise is driven by several factors, including the exhaustion with the ruling CDU/CSU coalition, the SPD suffering from the abandonment of its leftist principles in favor of Blair/Clinton-like “third way” neoliberal policies, Die Linke still lingering under a cloud of suspicion due to its German Democratic Republic ancestry, and of course the Alternative for Germany attracting unwanted attention from Germany’s own “Deep State” which, like its US and British counterparts, is playing an increasingly active role in the country’s politics.

Gruen Nach Osten

That the Greens’ coming to power is bound to result in Germany becoming more militaristic and interventionist on the world stage is also suggested by the curious case of Tareq Alaows, a Syrian man born in Damascus who came to Germany in 2015 and, only six years later, was declared a Bundestag candidate from the Green Party already as a German citizen. Given that the rest of the 1.5 million refugees who arrived in Germany at roughly the same time are still not German citizens and are likely never to become them, Alaows’ rapid elevation suggest that the Greens have friends within Germany’s “deep state”, and are interested in following US and British lead in “weaponizing” social issues such as gender rights, environmentalism, and other issues in order to justify aggression against countries deemed insufficiently dedicated to what the West claims to be “universal values”. They would not be Europe’s first “Green” party to go neo-conservative. Sweden’s Greens have likewise inducted many Islamists into their ranks in order to press for greater foreign interventionism. Moreover, since Germany’s Green Party is a relatively recent invention and is therefore not associated with Germany’s earlier military aggressions (and here one should note that even the SPD was staunchly supportive of Germany’s aggression in World War I, and likely would have been in World War II had it not been banned by the Nazis),  they are the most logical front for Germany’s neo-cons. One can readily imagine empowered Greens declaring Germany has a sacred mission to rid the world of coal, oil, and natural gas as sources of energy which naturally means a confrontation with China and Russia in order to install governments in those countries that naturally share the Greens’ priorities and incidentally also enact policies highly favorable to German business interests. While the Green Party began its existence as a radical party of the Left, by the end of the Cold War it began to reinvent itself along neo-conservative lines. Its support for NATO’s wars against Yugoslavia and other military adventures, its peculiar interest in Aleksey Navalny who is not exactly known as an environmentalist, combined with strident opposition to Nord Stream 2, collectively make it very attractive to the Bidens and Blinkens of the world interested in making Germany a US client state. What remains to be seen is whether German and US “deep states” are capable of smoothing the Greens’ path into power, and whether the German people will accept the Green regime that is being prepared for them.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Iran, The Point of Strength in The Strategic Agreement with China

Iran, The Point of Strength in The Strategic Agreement with China            

Charles Abi Nader

None of the serious observers of the strategic engagement between the East and the West in general, specially between the Americans and their Western and regional allies on the one hand, and Russia, China, Iran and their allies on the other, imagined that there would be a capacity for the US-led Western camp to succeed in encircling the aforementioned Eastern camp triangle, neither economically, nor politically, nor militarily.

The latest strategic deal between China and Iran confirmed the equation [of the inability of encircling]; it articles, points, and directions it tackled showed that the US-led Western camp, in addition to its failure in imposing its authority in the East, it is indeed close to be encircled itself by the trio of knights of the stated Eastern camp.

From the political-strategic perspective, once the extent and validity of this convention is revealed in broad geography on one hand, or in the future regarding its period [25 years], or in the specialization of the strengths of the two states’ economies, especially in fixing a permanent, strong and honest importer of Iran’s oil and gas [China], this is enough for the world, especially the Americans, to forget the possibility of and impact of sanctions on Iran and to consider that any pressure on it, no matter how long it may last, will remain ineffective.

From the economic perspective, the aforementioned agreement between China and Iran revealed much strength, and the numbers allocated to finance large-scale projects indicate the magnitude of what awaits economic relations between the two countries. The area of the work sector and the extension of these projects, east, north-east, north-west and south, starting from the western front of this economic front, i.e. from Iran, through its landlines or through its vital ports, are sufficient to predict the size and magnitude of the effects of these projects in terms of trade, industry, business and exchange.

Concerning the military or military-strategic subject, which can be separated from the political and economic ones, where it remains linked to the level of tension of relations and the seriousness of the engagement between the two camps, it can be divided into two main parts:

First: Concerning the possibility that the engagement may lead to a war, this possibility sounds far-fetched. There will be no winner, no loser, no victor, and no defeated, since any military confrontation between these poles [the three most powerful countries including Iran] would be devastating to a wide range of the world’s geography. And of course, most parties of this confrontation have sufficient nuclear deterrence or destructive capabilities to cause mass destruction.

Second: Concerning the armaments, the acquisition of qualitative capabilities, and the imposition of control and influence, we can deduce how sensitive is Iran’s geographical position and the importance of its specific capabilities and qualitative weapons. This will be a vert strong point serving the interest of this strategic alliance with China as the following:

Concerning military capability:

– Iran has demonstrated, in various confrontations or engagements that took place in the Gulf region, the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman, that it possesses the appropriate deterrence weapons capable of achieving and imposing a strategic balance, including ballistic or winged missiles and from the world’s most advanced unmanned aircraft, as well as the latest maritime capabilities capable of controlling the world’s most sensitive waterway.

– By confronting American units deployed in the region and Washington allies, primarily the ‘Israeli’ entity, Iran has been able to impose a strategic deterrent balance, demonstrated by its units in several incidents where it has been able to outperform, by shooting down, capturing and controlling the most sophisticated American surveillance, espionage and attack aircraft to most naval-sea confrontations in the Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, between American and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard units, where all American and non-American military ships or cruisers entering Iranian territorial waters are treated as peers.

Concerning the geographical location:

–  Iran’s geographical location plays a pivotal role in any strategic engagement or any competition over influence or control between the major powers, as Iran is located on the Gulf and at the entrances to the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, the most influential connection point between the Mediterranean, the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab Strait on the one hand, and between the northern Indian Ocean and the South China Sea on the other hand. These marine areas are currently considered the world’s most important engagement spot, and most countries that are able to seize them or to own more than one naval fulcrum are competing on them. Iran represents through that position, and as a key partner, the most influential strength in consolidating China’s situation and position against the United States of America.

– Additionally, the importance of Iran’s geographical location is not limited to strengthening the elements of the alliance with China; Through this distinct geography, Iran represents more than a suitable fulcrum for any similar alliance with Russia, which needs a key supporter from its southern backyard, towards Central Asia or towards the South Caucasus. Iran’s position as a partner or as an ally of Moscow is capable of playing a defining and influential role in any confrontation imposed on Russia from the South.

Hence, considering this distinct geographical location of Iran and its effective capabilities, the latter is arguably the most influential strength in the strategic agreement with China or in any similar agreement with Russia.

Crucial interview of Foreign Minister Lavrov (MUST READ!)

Crucial interview of Foreign Minister Lavrov (MUST READ!)

Source

April 02, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview given to Channel One’s Bolshaya Igra (Great Game) talk show, Moscow, April 1, 2021

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The word “war” has been heard increasingly more often lately. US and NATO politicians, even more so the Ukrainian military, have no trouble saying it. Do you have more reasons to be concerned now than ever before?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes and no. On the one hand, the confrontation has hit bottom. On the other, deep down, there’s still hope that we are adults and understand the risks associated with escalating tensions further. However, our Western colleagues introduced the word “war” into the diplomatic and international usage. “The hybrid war unleashed by Russia” is a very popular description of what the West perceives as the main event in international life. I still believe that good judgment will prevail.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Recently, the United States has ratcheted the degree of confrontation up to never-before-seen proportions. President Joe Biden said President Vladimir Putin is a “killer.” We have recalled Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov.

Sergey Lavrov: He was invited for consultations.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Hence, the question: How do we go about our relations now? How long will this pause last? When will Mr Antonov return to Washington?

Sergey Lavrov: What we heard President Biden say in his interview with ABC is outrageous and unprecedented. However, one should always see the real actions behind the rhetoric, and they began long before this interview back during the Barack Obama administration. They continued under the Trump administration, despite the fact that the 45th US President publicly spoke in favour of maintaining good relations with Russia, with which he was willing to “get along,” but was not allowed to do so. I’m talking about the consistent degradation of the deterrent infrastructure in the military-political and strategic spheres.

The ABM Treaty has long since been dropped. President Putin has more than once mentioned how, in response to his remark that George W. Bush was making a mistake and there was no need to aggravate relations, the then US President said that it was not directed against Russia. Allegedly, we can take any steps that we deem necessary in response to the US withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. Allegedly, the Americans will not take these actions as directed against them, either. But then they started establishing anti-missile systems in Europe which is the third missile defence position area. It was announced that it was built exclusively with Iran in mind. Our attempts to agree on a transparency format received support during the visit to Moscow by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, but were later rejected. We now have a missile defence area in Europe. Nobody is saying that this is against Iran now. This is clearly being positioned as a global project designed to contain Russia and China. The same processes are underway in the Asia-Pacific region. No one is trying to pretend that this is being done against North Korea.

This is a global system designed to back US claims to absolute dominance, including in the military-strategic and nuclear spheres.

Dimitri Simes can also share his assessment of what is said and written in the United States on that account. A steadfast course has now been taken towards deploying intermediate and shorter-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region.

The INF Treaty was discarded by the Americans on far-fetched pretexts. This was not our choice. In his special messages, President Vladimir Putin suggested agreeing, on a voluntary basis and even in the absence of the INF Treaty, on a mutual moratorium with corresponding verification measures in the Kaliningrad Region, where the Americans suspected our Iskander missiles of violating restrictions imposed by the now defunct treaty, and at US bases in Poland and Romania, where the MK-41 units are promoted by the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, as dual-purpose equipment.

To reiterate, this rhetoric is outrageous and unacceptable. However, President Putin has reacted to it diplomatically and politely. Unfortunately, there was no response to our offer to talk live and to dot the dottable letters in the Russian and English alphabets. All of that has long since gone hand-in-hand with a material build-up in the confrontational infrastructure, which also includes the reckless eastward advance of NATO military facilities, the transformation of a rotational presence into a permanent presence on our borders, in the Baltic States, in Norway, and Poland. So everything is much more serious than mere rhetoric.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: When will Ambassador Antonov return to Washington?

Sergey Lavrov: It’s up to President Putin to decide. Ambassador Antonov is currently holding consultations at the Foreign Ministry. He has met with the members of the committees on international affairs at the State Duma and the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly. He has had conversations at the Presidential Executive Office as well.

It is important for us to analyse the current state of our relations, which did not get to this point overnight, and are not just because of this interview, but have been going this way for years now. The fact that inappropriate language was used during President Biden’s interview with ABC shows the urgency of conducting a comprehensive analysis. This does not mean that we have just been observers and have not drawn any conclusions over the past years. But now the time has come for generalisations.

Dimitri Simes: Now that I am in Moscow, after a year in Washington, I see a striking contrast between statements by the leaders of the two countries. I think you will agree that when officials in Washington talk about relations with Russia, their pattern is simple and understandable: “Russia is an opponent.” Sometimes, Congressmen are more abrupt and call it “an enemy.” However, political leaders from the administration still call it “an opponent.” They allow cooperation with Russia on some issues that are important to the US, but generally it is emphasised that militarily Russia is “the number one opponent,” while politically it is not just a country with objectionable views but a state that “tries to spread authoritarian regimes throughout the world,” that “opposes democracy” and “undermines the foundations of the US as such.”

When I listen to you and President of Russia Vladimir Putin, I have the impression that in Moscow the picture is more complicated and has more nuances. Do you think the US is Russia’s opponent today?

Sergey Lavrov: I will not go into analysing the lexicon of “opponent,” “enemy,” “competitor” or “rival.” All these words are juggled in both official and unofficial statements. I read the other day that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that for all the differences with Russia and China, the US does not have anything against these countries. As for what the US is doing, it is simply “promoting democracy” and “upholding human rights.” I don’t know how seriously one can take this description of US policy towards Moscow and Beijing. However, if they are promoting democracy, practice must justify theory.

George W. Bush announced that democracy was established in Iraq in May 2003. Aboard an aircraft carrier, he declared that Iraq’s liberation from its totalitarian regime was completed and democracy was established in the country. There is no point in elaborating. It is enough to mention the toll of the US-unleashed war – hundreds of thousands of people. We should also remember that the “rule” of the notorious Paul Bremer resulted in the birth of ISIS, which was rapidly joined by members of the Baath Party, employees of Saddam Hussein’s secret services, who had lost their jobs. They simply needed to provide for their families. ISIS emerged not because of ideological differences. Relying on US mistakes, the radicals actively used this fact. This is what democracy in Iraq is all about.

“Democracy” in Libya was established by bombs, strikes and the murder of Muammar Gaddafi which was accompanied by Hillary Clinton’s cry of admiration. This is the result: Libya is a black hole; refugee flows bound for the north are creating problems for the EU that does not know what to do about them; illegal arms and terrorists are being smuggled through Libya to the south, bringing suffering to the Sahara-Sahel Region.

I do not wish to describe what the Americans feel towards the Russian Federation. If their statements about us being their “opponent,” “enemy,” “rival” or “competitor” are based on the desire to accuse us of the consequences of their reckless policy, we can hardly have a serious conversation with them.

Dmitri Simes: When officials in Washington, the Joseph Biden administration or Congress, call Russia an opponent and emphasise this, I think they would not agree that it is simply rhetoric. Nor would they agree that it is designed solely for domestic consumption. The Biden administration is saying that the US did not have a consistent policy towards Russia and that former US President Donald Trump let Russia “do everything the Russian Government of Vladimir Putin wanted.” Now a new sheriff has come in and is willing to talk in a way he sees fit without paying much attention to how Moscow will interpret it; and if Moscow doesn’t like it, this is good. This is being done not to evoke discontent, of course, but to show that Russia is finally realising that it cannot behave like this anymore. Is there any chance that this new Biden administration policy will compel Russia to show some new flexibility?

Sergey Lavrov: The policy you mentioned, which is promoted in the forms we are now seeing, has no chance to succeed. This is nothing new: Joseph Biden has come in, started using sanctions against Russia, toughening rhetoric and in general exerting pressure all along the line. This has been going on for many years. The sanctions started with the Barack Obama administration and, historically, even earlier. Like many other restrictions, they have simply become hypertrophied and ideology-based starting in 2013, before the events in Ukraine.

Dimitri Simes: They will tell you, and you know this better than I do, that this policy has not been pursued sufficiently consistently, that it was not energetic enough, and that now they and their NATO allies will get down to dealing with Russia seriously so as to show us that we must change our behaviour fundamentally not just when it comes to foreign policy but also our domestic policy.

Sergey Lavrov: Dimitri, you are an experienced person, you know the United States better than Vyacheslav Nikonov or I do. What else can they do to us? Which of the analysts has decided to prove the practicability of any further pressure on Russia? How well do they know history? This question is for you.

Dimitri Simes: Mr Minister, you probably know that I am not a fervent supporter of the policy of the Biden administration.

Sergey Lavrov: I am asking you as an observer and an independent expert.

Dimitri Simes: In my opinion, the Biden administration still has a sufficient set of tools it can apply against Russia, including new sanctions, the promotion of NATO infrastructure in Europe, a more “harmonised” pressure on Russia together with its allies, the advance of the US policy not closer to the traditional Old Europe (I am referring to Britain and especially to France and Germany) but to Poland, and lastly, the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine. It is now believed in Washington that it is very important to show Russia that its current policy in Ukraine has no future and that unless Russia changes its behaviour it “will pay a price.”

Sergey Lavrov: My views on the current developments range from an exercise in absurdity to a dangerous play with matches. You may know that it has become trendy to use examples from ordinary life to describe current developments. All of us played outdoors when we were children. Kids of different ages and with different kinds of family upbringing played in the same places. In fact, we all lived as one big family then. There were two or three bad boys on every street; they humiliated other kids, disciplined them, forced them to clean their boots and took their money, the few kopecks our mothers gave us to buy a pie or breakfast at school. Two, three or four years later, these small kids grew up and could fight back. We don’t even have to grow up. We do not want confrontation.

President Putin has said more than once, including after President Biden’s infamous interview with ABC that we are ready to work with the United States in the interests of our people and the interests of international security. If the United States is willing to endanger the interests of global stability and global – and so far peaceful – coexistence, I don’t think it will find many allies for this endeavour. It is true that the EU has quickly towed the line and pledged allegiance. I regard the statements made during the virtual EU summit with Joe Biden as unprecedented. I don’t remember ever hearing such oaths of allegiance before. The things they said publicly revealed their absolute ignorance of the history of the creation of the UN and many other events. I am sure that serious politicians – there are still some left in the United States – can see not just futility but also the absurdity of this policy. As far as I know, the other day 27 political organisations in the United States publicly urged the Biden administration to change the rhetoric and the essence of the US approach to relations with Russia.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: This is unlikely to happen. I believe that your example with “tough guys” on every street is too mild. The United States has gone beyond the pale, let alone the street ethics, which have always been respected. We can see this happening in Ukraine. President Biden is one of those who created modern Ukraine, the Ukrainian policy and the war in Donbass. As I see it, he takes the situation very personally, and he will try to keep it in its current tense state. How dangerous is the situation in Ukraine in light of the ongoing US arms deliveries, the decisions adopted in the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday, and the statements made by the Ukrainian military, who are openly speaking about a war?  Where do we stand on the Ukrainian front?

Sergey Lavrov: There is much speculation about the documents that the Rada passed and that President Zelensky signed. To what extent does this reflect real politics? Is it consistent with the objective of resolving President Zelensky’s domestic problem of declining ratings? I’m not sure what this is: a bluff or concrete plans. According to the information published in the media, the military, for the most part, is aware of the damage that any action to unleash a hot conflict might bring.

I very much hope this will not be fomented by the politicians, who, in turn, will be fomented by the US-led West. Once again, we see the truth as stated by many analysts and political scientists, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, being reaffirmed. They look at Ukraine from a geopolitical perspective: as a country that is close to Russia, Ukraine makes Russia a great state; without Ukraine, Russia does not have global significance. I leave this on the conscience of those who profess these ideas, their fairness and ability to appreciate modern Russia. Like President Vladimir Putin said not long ago; but these words are still relevant, – those who try to unleash a new war in Donbass will destroy Ukraine.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The US and Western diplomacy have definitely accomplished one thing: they put Russia and China in one boat. Indeed, we have already become strategic partners in deeds not just in words. You have just come back from China. You go there more often than once a year, for sure. During this trip, was there anything new that you sensed from Chinese leadership, which has recently come under unprecedented and rude attacks from the Americans? How strong are the bonds that are being established between Russia and China? How high is the bar that we can or have already reached in our relationship?

Sergey Lavrov: Like Russians, the Chinese are a proud nation. They may be more patient historically. The Chinese nation’s national and genetic code is all about being focused on a historical future. They are never limited to 4 or 5- year electoral cycles. They look further: “a big journey begins with a small step” and many other maxims coined by Chinese leaders go to show that they appreciate a goal that is not just on the horizon, but beyond the horizon. This also applies to reunifying Chinese lands – incrementally and without haste, but purposefully and persistently. Those who are talking with China and Russia without due respect or look down on us, or insult us are worthless politicians and strategists. If they do this to show how tough they are for the next parliamentary election in a couple of years, so be it.

Winston Churchill famously said that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” A big debate is underway about which one is more effective. The coronavirus infection has taken the debate up a notch. To what extent the Western democracies have shown themselves capable of opposing this absolute evil and to what extent countries with a centralised, strong and “authoritarian” government have been successful. History will be the judge. We should wait to see the results.

We want to cooperate; we have never accused anyone of anything, or mounted a media campaign against anyone, even though we are being accused of doing this. As soon as President Putin announced the creation of a vaccine, he proposed establishing international cooperation. You do remember what was being said about Sputnik V. At first, they said that it was not true, and then that this was propaganda and the only purpose was to promote Russia’s political interests in the world. We can see the ripple effect of this. On March 30, Vladimir Putin held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. We sensed a more realistic commitment to cooperate rather than try to engage in “vaccine discrimination” or “vaccine propaganda.”

Getting back to the heart of the matter, by and large, no one should be rude to other people. But what we see instead is a dialogue with a condescending tone towards great civilisations like Russia and China. We are being told what to do. If we want to say something, we are asked to “leave them alone.” This was the case in Anchorage when the discussion came to human rights. Antony Blinken said that there were many violations in the United States, but the undercurrent was clear – they would sort it out themselves and are already doing so. However, in Xinjiang Uygur, Hong Kong and Tibet, to name a few, things should be approached differently. It’s not just about a lack of diplomatic skills. It runs much deeper. In China, I sensed that this patient nation, which always upholds its interests and shows a willingness to find a compromise, was put in a stalemate. The other day, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson made a relevant comment. I don’t remember that ever happening before.

With regard to whether we are being pushed into the arms of China or China is being pushed into our arms, everyone remembers Henry Kissinger’s words that the United States should have relations with China which are better than relations between China and Russia, and vice versa. He saw this historical process and knew which way it could go. Many are writing now that the United States is committing a huge strategic mistake making efforts against Russia and China at a time, thereby catalysing our rapprochement. Moscow and Beijing are not allying against anyone. During my visit to China, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and I adopted a Joint Statement on Certain Issues of Global Governance in Modern Conditions, where we emphasised the unacceptability of violating international law or substituting it by some secretly drafted rules, of interference in other countries’ internal affairs and, overall, everything that contradicts the UN Charter. There are no threats there. The documents signed by the leaders of Russia and China always emphasise the fact that bilateral strategic interaction and multifaceted partnership are not directed against anyone, but focus exclusively on the interests of our peoples and countries. They build on a clear-cut and objective foundation of overlapping interests. We look for a balance of interests, and there are many areas where it has been achieved and is being used for the benefit of all of us.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Have you noticed any change in China’s position? It is clear that Beijing is in a very tight situation. How far is China willing to go in its confrontation with the United States? It is obvious that they are now responding harshly. Sanctions are being introduced against Beijing, so it responds with tough counter-sanctions, and not only against the United States, but also against its allies, who are also joining the sanctions. Europe has joined this confrontation. Are we prepared to synchronise our policies with China, for example, our counter-sanctions, as we did with Belarus? Do we have a common strategy to counter the increasing pressure from the so-called alliance of democracies?

Sergey Lavrov: There is a general strategy, and I just mentioned it. Along with the Statement signed during my visit to China, a comprehensive Leaders’ Statement was adopted last year. Now we are preparing the next document, which will be signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation. Our strategic treaty will be renewed.

These documents spell out our line of conduct. We are not planning, and will not plan, any schemes to retaliate for what they are doing to us. I do not think that we will synchronise our responses to any new sanction acts against China and Russia.

Our level of cooperation continues to grow qualitatively.

You mentioned military alliances. There is popular speculation out there that Russia and China might conclude a military alliance. First, one of the documents signed at the highest level underscored that our relations are not a military alliance, and we are not pursuing this goal. We regard NATO as an example of a military alliance in the traditional sense, and we know that we do not need such an alliance. NATO clearly breathed a sigh of relief after the Biden administration replaced Donald Trump. Everyone was happy to again have someone to tell them what to do. Emmanuel Macron still occasionally tries to vainly mention the EU’s strategic autonomy initiative, but no one else in Europe even wants to discuss it. It’s over, the boss is here.

That kind of alliance is a Cold War alliance. I would prefer thinking in terms of the modern era where multi-polarity is growing. In this sense, our relationship with China is completely different from that of a traditional military alliance. Maybe in a certain sense, it is an even closer bond.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The “alliance of democracies” will be created. This is obvious although fewer people in Russia still believe that it’s about democracy. In its election, its attitude towards freedom of the media and opportunities to express opposing views, the US has made it very clear that it has big problems with democracy. Europe also gives examples that compel us to doubt its efforts to promote a strong democratic project. After all, it still holds a position as a player under a big boss.

Vladimir Putin had a conversation with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel via videoconference on March 30 of this year. Without Vladimir Zelensky, by the way. This is the Normandy format minus Ukraine, which resulted in a bitter response from Kiev.

They discussed a broad range of issues. Meanwhile, you have said more than once that our relations with the EU are frozen or absent altogether. Do you mean that we stay in contact or that contact is possible with individual EU members but not with the EU as a whole?

Sergey Lavrov: This is exactly the case, and this was also mentioned during the March 30 talks, and during Vladimir Putin’s conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel. We are surprised that this assessment offends the EU. This is simply an objective fact.

It took years to develop relations between Moscow and the EU. By the time the state coup in Ukraine took place these relations included: summits twice a year; annual meetings of all members of the Russian Government with all members of the European Commission; about 17 sectoral dialogues on different issues, from energy to human rights; and four common spaces based on Russia-EU summit resolutions, each of which had its own roadmap.

We were holding talks on visa-free travel. It is indicative that the EU broke them off back in 2013, long before the crisis in Ukraine. As some of our colleagues told us, when it came to a decision on signing the proposed agreement, the aggressive Russophobic minority adamantly opposed it: Russia cannot receive visa-free travel status with the EU before Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova do. This is the entire background. What the EU did after that, braking all channels of systematic dialogue was a burst of emotion. They took it out on us because the putschists insulted the West by throwing out the document signed by Yanukovich and the opposition the day before, this despite the fact that Germany, France and Poland had endorsed this document. The first actions of the new authorities were to remove the Russian language from daily life and to expel Russians from Crimea. When Russian-speakers and Russians in Ukraine opposed this and asked to be left alone, a so-called “anti-terrorist operation” was launched against them.

In effect, the EU imposed sanctions on us and broke off all communication channels because we raised our voice in defence of Russian citizens and ethnic Russians in Ukraine, Donbass and Crimea. We try to discuss issues with them when they start making claims against us. They probably understand this; I hope they are still seasoned politicians. But if they understand this but don’t want to consider it in their practical policy, it means that they are being charged with Russophobia or cannot do anything about the aggressive Russophobic minority in the EU.

Dimitri Simes: I believe when we talk about the EU, it’s important to look at what the EU is and to what extent it has changed compared to what it used to be and what it was supposed to be when it was founded. The EU was primarily designed as an organisation for economic cooperation.

No political component was even envisioned at the start. It was about the EU contributing to European economic integration. The possibility was even mentioned of Russia playing some associated role in that process. But then they said the EU should also have some common values. At first, the idea was that those common values were the cement of the EU itself. Then a new idea emerged in Warsaw that it would be nice for those European values ​​(since they are actually universal) to spread to other regions, as well as for Russia to respect them, or even to obey them. When I look at the EU’s approach to Ukraine, the conflict in Donbass and the demands to return Crimea to Kiev, it seems to me that the EU is becoming a missionary organisation. When you deal with crusaders, trying to reckon with them or appealing to their logic and conscience is probably useless. Do you not think that the EU has journeyed to a place where there are limited opportunities for partnership and great potential for confrontation? Or am I being too pessimistic?

Sergey Lavrov: No, I agree with you, absolutely. This is a missionary style – lecturing others while projecting superiority. It is important to see this tendency, as it has repeatedly brought Europe to trouble.

This is actually the case. Established as the Coal and Steel Community, then the European Economic Community – if you look at the EU now, look at their values, they are already attacking their own members like Poland and Hungary, just because these countries have somewhat different cultural and religious traditions. You said it originated in Poland. I actually forget who started this…

Dimitri Simes: I first heard it from Polish delegates at a conference.

Sergey Lavrov: Now Poland itself is facing the consequences of its ideas, only not outside the EU, but within the organisation.

When anyone tries to impose any values on Russia, ​​related, as they believe, to democracy and human rights, we have this very specific response: all universal values ​​are contained in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights that everyone signed. Any values invented now, which they try to impose on us or other countries, are not universal. They have not been agreed upon by the entire international community. Even inside the EU, look at those street protests! A couple of years ago, they had protests in France in defence of the traditional family, the concepts of “mother,” “father,” and “children.” This lies deep. Playing with traditional values ​​is dangerous.

As to the EU once inviting Russia as an associate member, we never agreed to sign an association document. Now the same is being done with regard to the Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Ukraine, and Moldova. As for Russia’s relations with the EU, which Brussels destroyed, only one thing remained – the basic document on the terms of trade and investment. It was indeed the subject of negotiation between the Brussels Commission and the Russian Federation. This is a document that remains valid. We cooperate with individual countries, but not with the EU, because those were the terms agreed upon, and their practical implementation is going through bilateral channels. The only thing the EU is doing in this respect now is imposing sanctions and banning its members from fulfilling some parts of this agreement because they want to “punish Russia.” That’s it, there are no other ties.

We are being told that we are deliberately derailing our relations (although the facts are simply outrageous), trying to shift our ties with Europe to bilateral channels, wanting to “split up” the European Union. We don’t want to split anyone up. We always say that we are interested in a strong and independent European Union. But if the EU chooses a non-independent position in the international arena, as we just discussed, this is their right. We cannot do anything about it. We have always supported its independence and unity. But in the current situation, where Brussels broke off all relations, when certain European countries reach out to us (we have not tried to lure anyone) with proposals to talk, to visit any of the sides and discuss some promising projects in bilateral relations, how can we refuse our partners? It is quite unfair (even a shame) to try to present such meetings as part of a strategy to split up the EU. They have enough problems of their own that split them up.

Dimitri Simes: This is a philosophical issue in Russia’s relations with the EU. When the EU has imposed anti-China sanctions, China made a tough response. This was an unpleasant surprise for the EU and caused indignation. Meanwhile, Brussels does not expect such a response from Russia in the firm belief that Russia has no economic levers to oppose the EU. To my knowledge, Russia has not imposed any serious sanctions on the EU.

This is an interesting situation. Russia supplies Europe with 33 percent of its gas. The figures for oil are about the same. I think during all this time Russia has proved convincingly that it won’t use energy for political leverage in Europe. Understandably, Russia has been interested in this, especially when it comes to the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It seems to me that certain people in Europe have forgotten that if Russia does not do something, it doesn’t mean that it cannot do it, or won’t be compelled to do it if the EU’s pressure on Russia crosses a line. Do you think this is possible in theory? Or does Russia completely rule out such actions?

Sergey Lavrov: You are saying (metaphorically) that they either have not read (which is most likely) or have forgotten the epic about Ilya Muromets who slept on the stove while nobody paid attention? This is not a threat. We will never use energy supplies or our oil and gas routes in Europe to this end. This is a position of principle regardless of anything else.

Dimitri Simes: Even of you are disconnected from SWIFT and everything else?

Sergey Lavrov: We will not do that. This is a position of principle for President of Russia Vladimir Putin. We will not create a situation where we force EU citizens “freeze.” We will never do this. We have nothing in common with Kiev that shut down water supplies to Crimea and takes delight in it. This is a disgraceful position in the world arena. Frequently accusing us of using energy as an instrument of influence, as a weapon, the West keeps silence on what Kiev is doing with water supplies to Crimea. I believe the provision of basic needs on which the daily life of common citizens depends, should never be an object of sanctions.

Dimitri Simes: In this case, what do you mean by referring to “the phenomenon” of Ilya Muromets?

Sergey Lavrov: It is possible to respond in different ways. We have always warned that we will be ready to respond. We will respond to any malicious actions against us but not necessarily in a symmetric manner. By the way, speaking about the impact of the sanctions on civilians, look what is taking place in Syria under the Caesar Act. My colleagues in Europe and, incidentally, in the region, whisper that they are horrified by the way this act has eliminated any opportunity to do business with Syria. The goal is clear – to stifle the Syrians to make them revolt and overthrow Bashar al-Assad.

Now a few words about our and China’s responses to the European sanctions. After all, China also avoided suspending economic activity. It simply imposed sanctions on a number of individuals and companies that held certain anti-China positions. We are doing basically the same.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: As we know, Ilya Muromets did not shut down oil and gas supplies. He used other methods that were often symmetrical. I think we also have a solid set of instruments.

Don’t we exaggerate the importance of the EU in the modern world? It has an identity and there are European values. I know this since I have dealt with European MPs and experts for many years.

However, I have the impression that there are two main values: the first one is the euro and the second is LGBT and 60 more letters that describe this notion linked with sexual identity, their presence, absence, or mix.

The EU is undergoing a crisis – Brexit. Britain has left the EU. The economic crisis is very bad. Probably, in Europe it is worse than elsewhere. The economy has dropped by up to 10 percent in many countries. The vaccine-related crisis has shown that Europe cannot counter the virus and adopt a common policy. These problems are emerging at all levels. It cannot draft a common economic policy, migration rules, and so on. Maybe, we are really paying too much attention to Europe? Maybe we can act without looking back at this “falling” structure?

Sergey Lavrov: But where are we paying too much attention to Europe? We have a very simple position that President of Russia Vladimir Putin has set forth many times: we do not feel hurt. As we know, hurt people get the short end of the stick, or as we say in Russia, hurt people are made to carry water, something we are short of in Crimea. We will always be willing to revive our relations, practically to raise them from the ashes, but to do this we must know what the EU is interested in. We will not knock on a locked door. They are well aware of our proposals, just as the Americans know our proposals on strategic stability, cyber security and many other things. We have said to all of them: “Our friends and colleagues, we are ready for this. We understand that you will have some reciprocal ideas but we have not yet heard them. As soon as you are ready, let’s sit down and discuss them, seeking a balance of interests.” Meanwhile, now we are being accused of neglecting policy on the EU, so I don’t think we are courting this alliance or exaggerating its importance. It determines its place in the world itself. We have already talked about this today.

As for European values, we have many ongoing debates. Some people need European price tags more than European values. They want to travel there for shopping, recreation, buy some property and return home. As I said, our common values lie in our history, the mutual influence of our cultures, literature, art and music. They are great.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: As for modern European culture and art, have they really…

Sergey Lavrov: I am referring to our historical roots.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Because I think today’s Europe is pretty empty in terms of culture.

Sergey Lavrov: There are some funny songs; we can listen to them in the car sometimes.

Dimitri Simes: Speaking of relations with the United States, I would like to ask you a personal question because you lived and worked there for a long time when you were Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Of course, you have also been dealing with the US as the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation. I lived in the US for almost 50 years.

Sergey Lavrov: Why past tense?

Dimitri Simes: I am now in Moscow. When I look at the United States today, I have the impression that it is undergoing a cultural revolution. I think that if many people in the Joseph Biden administration or the Democrats in Congress are told this, they would not feel offended in any way. They will say that a cultural revolution is long overdue, that it is finally necessary to eradicate racism, give equal and not-so-equal prevailing opportunities to sexual orientation minorities because they were also discriminated against and to develop a true democracy that requires that all those who want to vote can vote. In practice, this means that millions of people will have an opportunity to vote without necessarily being US citizens at all. This is why the Democrats emphatically oppose a ban on voting on Sundays. As you know, there was never any voting in the US on Sundays. Sunday is called God’s day. The Democrats wanted Sunday elections so that buses could go to Afro-American churches and take people to the polling stations.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Why take them by bus? They can vote by mail.

Dimitri Simes: Both options are available.

Sergey Lavrov: Why not put a ballot box right in a church?

Dimitri Simes: Exactly. Do you believe the United States is, in many respects, evolving into a different country and that this is not necessarily an irreversible process, though a momentous one? Also, would you agree that this process is not a purely American internal matter because it goes hand in hand with the emergence of a new revolutionary ideology that requires that American values spread around the world and that these American models should not be resisted as they are now in Russia and China? Can this lead to an existential conflict?

Sergey Lavrov: We will talk about this but, first, let me finish what I was saying about European culture. Here is, in my view, a telling illustration of the state of European culture today. If we talk about revolutions, including a cultural revolution, the Eurovision  contest speaks volumes.  What they are doing now to the Belarusians is repulsive. This is sheer censorship that goes like this: since we – nobody knows who exactly, some anonymous individuals – fancy that we heard some innuendoes in your song, we will not allow you to take part in the contest unless you have another song. But then the same fate befalls another Belarusian song. What does this have in common with art, culture or democracy?

As for a cultural revolution in the United States, I do feel that processes which deserve to be described like this are unfolding there. Everyone probably wants to eradicate racism and, as for us, we have never had any doubt regarding this. We were trailblazers behind the movement to secure equal rights for all people, regardless of the colour of their skin. However, we should beware that we do not slip into another extreme, the one we have observed during the Black Lives Matter events, and into aggression against white people, white US citizens.

The other day we marked an international day designated to increase awareness of this issue and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking at a General Assembly meeting, said that the previous year had been a year of the most serious and numerous manifestations of white supremacy. I have asked to be given the full text of his speech, as I want to understand what specifically he had in mind. If this is about having a sense of a trend you talked about and the willingness to follow this trend, it is lamentable. This is still the United Nations Organisation and not a venue for promoting US concepts, some US trends.

As for why they need this, yes, they want to spread this to the rest of the world. They have a huge potential to achieve this goal. Hollywood has also started to change its rules, so that everything reflects the diversity of contemporary society, which is also a form of censorship, art control and the way of imposing some artificial restrictions and requirements on others. I have seen black actors perform in Shakespeare’s comedies. The only thing I do not know is when a white actor will play Othello. You see, this is nothing less than absurdity. Political correctness reduced to absurdity will lead to no good.

The other tool is social networks and internet platforms, as well as servers located in the United States. The US flatly refuses to discuss ways of either making internet governance more democratic or establishing common rules regulating social networks for the sake of avoiding the recurrence of the situation with TikTok and other social networks we encountered during the recent events in Russia, including the spread of abominable information, like personal abuse, pedophilia and many other things. We have already approached TikTok and other social networks about the need to establish elementary rules of respect and propriety but the Americans are unwilling to make these types of rules universal.

In Anchorage, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken lectured the Chinese on human rights, ethnic minorities and democracy in China. Indeed, Mr Blinken said they [in the US] also had to address certain issues in this field but they would do it on their own. During talks with the Americans – the same goes for the Europeans – as soon as you start offering to discuss ways of democratising international relations or the supremacy of law on an international scale, they invariably get away from the subject. They want to replace international law with their own rules, which have nothing in common with the supremacy of law globally, on a universal scale. I already talked about large-scale rallies in France in defence of traditional family values. It appears that to secure the rights of one group of people, the rights of another group have to be infringed upon. That is, promoting these values around the world is not an end in itself, but rather a tool for ensuring their dominance.

Dimitri Simes: Richard Nixon once told Nikita Khrushchev that there would be no true harmony or true partnership between the Soviet Union and America unless the Soviet Union stops spreading its ideology. And that was a big problem in the Brezhnev era, I must say, because they discussed a détente while at the same time supporting a continued international class struggle. As I see it, Leonid Brezhnev was doing it without much conviction. But now, things have turned the other way around. Now the collective West is eager to proliferate its ideology and values. And they seem to be doing so with far greater conviction and perseverance than the Soviet Union under Leonid Brezhnev ever tried. Does this pose a risk of collision?

Sergey Lavrov: Under Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet Union saw no threat to its existence. One can argue whether that stance was far-sighted enough, but that is how it was. Today’s West senses a threat to its dominance. It is a fact. So all those wiggling moves, including the invention of some ‘rules’ – as in the rules-based international order, something the West has come up with to replace the UN Charter – they reflect precisely this tendency.

I agree that we have swapped positions, or rather the Soviet Union and the modern West have. I don’t think this will offend anyone since this is not a big secret. I spoke with Rex Tillerson when he was US Secretary of State. He is a thoughtful and experienced politician and diplomat. It was good to work with him. We disagreed on most things, but we always wanted to continue the dialogue to bring our positions just a little bit closer at least. When he first told me they were concerned about Russia’s interference in some elections, I said they had not proved anything to us yet, and all we heard was accusations. When they began to accuse us of interfering in their elections, we repeatedly proposed using the special channel we had for exchanging information about threats to information networks and organisations. They refused. We had repeatedly offered dialogue even before that, when Barack Obama was president, from October 2016 until Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. They always refused.

I pointed out to Tillerson that they had in fact directly stipulated in legislation that the US State Department should spend $20 million a year to support Russian civil society and promote democracy. That was not even a suspicion on our part as they did it openly (for example, the Ukraine Support Act). There was nothing to prove – they just announced that they would interfere. He told me that was totally different. I asked him why, and he said because we promoted authoritarianism, and they spread democracy. That was it.

Dimitri Simes: And he said it with sincere conviction, didn’t he?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Mr Lavrov, naturally, this policy leads to a drastic polarisation. The polarisation of international relations is a dangerous thing. We remember the early 19th century, and the early 20th century. It always ended in wars. The Americans, losing their global dominance, will create (they have already announced this) a new ‘alliance of democracies.’ I mean create American and pro-American alliances, compelling everyone else to make their choice. This polarisation will increase. What will this mean for the world and for the alliances where Russia is a member? I mean BRICS (which I think they will try to split up), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). How far can this go? How dangerous is it?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a deliberate policy and an extension of the agenda we are talking about – about the United States promoting democracy and spreading benefit. The Americans and Europe are very active (but the Americans are especially active) in Central Asia. They are trying to create their own formats such as C5+1. Russia is also part of a 5+1 format in Central Asia, in addition to the SCO, CIS, EAEU and CSTO – one that involves the foreign ministers of five Central Asian countries and your humble servant. That format is useful. True, the volume of economic ties that the US and the EU are now building with Central Asia is still incomparable with our economic interpenetration, but they are pursuing an unambiguous goal to weaken our ties with our allies and strategic partners in every possible way.

The numerous initiatives around the Afghan reconciliation and around the Indo-Pacific region envision Central Asia’s reorientation from its current vector to the South – to help rebuild Afghanistan and at the same time weaken its ties with the Russian Federation.

I could talk for a long time about the Indo-Pacific region and the Indo-Pacific concept. That multi-layered initiative is aimed at hindering China’s Belt and Road Initiative and limiting the Chinese influence in the region, creating constant irritants for that country. There have been some slips about creating an ‘Asian NATO.’ Although in the US interpretation the Indo-Pacific region is described as ‘free and open,’ the chances that positions will be worked out through an equal or open process there are slim. It is already obvious that it isn’t ‘open’. China has not been invited; rather, that country is declared a target for containment. We have not been invited either, which means the attitude to Russia is similar. I would say those are long-term trends. We are talking about this frankly with our neighbours and closest allies. I am confident that they understand all these threats. None of them even considers the possibility of anyone telling them who to talk or not talk to. It is their sovereign right to choose their partners.

The term ‘multi-vector’ has become semi-abusive, but we are not giving up the multi-vector approach. We are open to cooperation and friendship with everyone who is ready for relations based on equality, mutual respect, compromise and balance of interests. That our Western colleagues are clearly abusing this approach, especially in post-Soviet countries, is an obvious fact.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Is it possible to avoid the actual military scenario in these circumstances? Isn’t it time to create an alliance of free countries given the role reversal that has taken place in the modern world? An alliance, perhaps, of genuine democracies that will oppose the ongoing all-out attack?

Sergey Lavrov: We will not get involved in this kind of political engineering. Russia is committed to the United Nations. When France and Germany put forward the effective multilateralism concept, we asked them what it meant. There was silence followed by joint articles written by the foreign ministers of France and Germany stating that the European Union is an example of effective multilateralism, and everyone needs to adapt to the European processes. Our question why the readily available and universal UN multilateral platform is not a good option remained unanswered. However, the answer is there, and we mentioned it more than once today. They are making up the rules that the international order is supposed to be based on.

Dimitri Simes: Mr Minister, we have taken up much of your time and we appreciate it. But we cannot let you go without asking you one more personal question. What is it like to be Russia’s Foreign Minister in this rapidly changing world?

You have worked in several completely different eras. When you were Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, it was a period of Russia’s “romantic infatuation” with the United States, though perhaps not quite on the terms that were beneficial for Russia. In the early 21st century, Russia was in search of partnerships. Well, then we got what we are witnessing now. How do you, a person who, in many ways, is the architect of this era, a witness and a participant of this process, find your work in this very complex role?

Sergey Lavrov: To put it short, I never get bored. That is if we are talking about the different eras in my career. We all lived in these eras, and we have seen these transitions. You asked me earlier whether the United States has changed. It has. A lot.

Dimitri Simes: Have you changed?

Sergey Lavrov: Probably. It’s not for me to say. A person perceives the environment as a constantly evolving process. People grow up, get smarter or dumber, but they have no way of seeing it.

Dimitri Simes: Do you think we have all become disappointed in many ways, but we have grown, too, as a result of these experiences, and, of course, in the first place, a person holding such positions as yours?

Sergey Lavrov: This is true, of course. How can this not influence the formation of a person? The personality never stops to evolve. It is something that lasts until the end of our lives. Those revolutionary developments had a strong influence on me. I believe the 9/11 attacks were the turning point in the American life. I was in Manhattan, in New York, at the time, and I felt that odour. I was having a hard time trying to make a phone call, because the phones went dead. Since then, New York has become a different city. This free city, living its own life around the clock and enjoying it, became wary and started looking over its shoulder to see if there was someone around who could hurt it.

This suspicion then spread deeply into American society. There were probably serious reasons for that. I have to commend the US intelligence services, because since then, apart from the Boston Marathon, which we had warned them about, there have been no other terrorist attacks. However, wariness and aloofness can still be felt. Perhaps, there are people who want to take advantage of this in order to do things that you just mentioned. If 11 million Americans become eligible to vote, welcome to the one-party system, Back in the USSR.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Mr Lavrov, thank you very much for the interview. Now that we are within the historic walls of the Foreign Ministry’s Mansion on Spiridonovka, a place where history and great diplomacy were made, including the diplomacy of the great powers, I would like to wish us all the return of diplomacy. If it comes back, as President Vladimir Putin is conveying to President Joe Biden, in the form of a live-stream dialogue, then The Great Game will be at your service and at the service of the two presidents.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you. President Biden has already said that diplomacy has returned to US foreign policy. Your dream has come true.

source: https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4662534

Nixon ‘opened’ China, but only superpower China could ‘open’ Iran (1/2)

Friday, 02 April 2021 2:52 PM  [ Last Update: Friday, 02 April 2021 2:52 PM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Nixon ‘opened’ China, but only superpower, socialist China could ‘open’ Iran (1/2)
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

By Ramin Mazaheri  cross-posted with The Saker

One thing about Western business media is that whenever any imperialism-opposing nation has a major success their subsequent understatement speaks volumes, as evidenced by an article in the oil trade press, The Iran-China Axis Is A Fast Growing Force In Oil Markets, at the website OilPrice. For trade journalists they are quite behind the trends of their industry: Iran and China are now a permanent force in the oil world, but far beyond that realm as well.

In reading OilPrice over the years I am not surprised: they have repeatedly reacted to the bilateral 25-year strategic agreement — which has just been fully signed — as though it was something which had not been in discussion for years; with total consternation as to why these two countries could want to ally with other; with an Iranophobia so enormous that their bias is rarely even barely concealed.

The outlook of their journalists is that of businessmen, and thus it’s the incredibly narrow and self-serving point of view of a specialist. It is unsurprising that — when compelled to formulate a political or moral viewpoint — OilPrice has a totally Cold War view of the world, which is typical in the West, and which explains why their headline calls it an “Iran-China Axis” instead of an “Alliance.” The use of such a term is typical Western media propaganda designed to conflate the right-wing Germans of the World War II era with modern Iran and China, even though the latter are totally different from the former in political ideology, economic structure and social morality.

It’s a nonsensical and historically-nihilist conflation, but when examining OilPrice’s take on the Iran-China deal, we are reminded that Western business media is quite content to sensationalize, to warmonger and to create sustained market panic in order to increase the grip of militarism in the Western psyche and to continue the inequitable Western domination of the oil trade. OilPrice, specifically, also wants the price of oil to always increase.

Thus the article is full of many stupidities worthy of the idiocies of George W. Bush, the paranoia of J. Edgar Hoover, the anti-socialist hysteria of the Dulles brothers and the hypocritical phoniness of Barack Obama. Things of the lowest order of political analysis and knowledge abound, such as: “The first is they are both absolute dictatorships,” “the rogue Islamic country,” China’s Belt and Road Initiative is “a shield for China’s true intentions” and a “Trojan horse” for “military expansion,” etc.

(Of course, few international projects as transparently pragmatic and non-ideological as China’s BRI — if you accept China’s offer of mutually-beneficial cooperation there is no additional demand to also legislate acceptance of their “universal” values.)

But we benefit from knowing the oil trade’s viewpoint because while there are so very many financial shenanigans in the Western economy, there is still a “real” economy, and oil is its lynchpin.

Oil is also the lynchpin of the US dollar’s global preeminence and overvaluation. Indeed, this article’s concluding paragraph is a reminder of those very fundamental — yet often forgotten — facts: “Finally, the introduction of a war premium to oil prices will cause a commensurate re-evaluation of oil equities in non-belligerent countries. The modern economy runs on petroleum products and derivatives, and will for many decades.”

 The Great Financial Crisis and subsequent Great Recession proved that the Western economy is indeed incredibly vulnerable to many types of phonily-inflated equities, economic fundamentals-untethered financial products, sham derivatives concocted by high finance and more besides. However, the author is correct when he writes that paragraph because the Petrodollar — the forced sale of oil in dollars — is the most important and longest-running financial sham. It replaced the gold standard, after all.

But China and Iran’s unprecedented petrodollar end run (and via a new joint China-Iranian bank) is just one part of why their bilateral agreement is such a huge deal. Not only does the pact upset the delicate balance of Western financial chicanery, but it permanently upsets longstanding Western geopolitical advantages, global geopolitical reality and especially the idea that the United States is the sole portal through which modern history can enter.

US has fallen so very far since 1971— now they are even behind China, and Iran just proved it

The bilateral deal’s importance can’t be understated for either side, and I have written about it for years. It’s as if — in the year 1545 — the Bolivian silver miners at Potosi struck a fair deal with the Spanish crown: Instead of getting enslaved, sham conversions and colonized Bolivia would still be an Incan cultural force today, with almost 500 additional years of illustrious history, learning and advancement. Thankfully, China is socialist — thus it is anti-imperialist and mindfully chooses cooperation over enslavement (either literally, through local puppets or through debt). Thankfully, Iran is not the shell-shocked Inca — they know who their enemies are, and also who works with enough goodwill to be welcomed.

For a more modern take, the deal is the equivalent of Richard Nixon’s “Opening of China” in 1971, except in a total role reversal: What is historically vital is no longer the position of the US, but the attitude of the superpower China.

Iran is often described as the last great “untapped market” — against all odds, expectations and supposed historical inevitabilities they chose the East as partners, not the West. That’s gigantic.

The deal will mark the “Opening of Iran” because it is not a mere “lifeline” to Iran – as it is often falsely described – but a guarantee of real prosperity, as it will be administered by Iran’s successful, revolutionary political structure. It is absolutely not more than just the achievement of stability, which Iran achieved entirely on its own starting in 1979, when the slogan was “Neither East nor West but the Islamic Republic.”

To quote from the OilPrice article:

“The New York Times is quoted as saying-

 ‘The partnership, detailed in an 18-page proposed agreement obtained by The New York Times, would vastly expand Chinese presence in banking, telecommunications, ports, railways, and dozens of other projects. In exchange, China would receive a regular — and, according to an Iranian official and an oil trader, heavily discounted — supply of Iranian oil over the next 25 years.’

 And there you have it.”

And there you have it, indeed.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi are seen in this photo while signing the “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” deal between the two countries in Tehran on March 27, 2021. (Via IRNA)

Oil-based cars and machines may be significantly phased out by greener technologies in 25 years or so, but Iran has made a superb bargain to sell as much oil as they can while they still can. The “heavy discount” is only about 4%, but I can see how – as a Western “oilfield veteran” – this OilPrice author expects everyone to scratch and claw for every penny he or she can grab. For Iranian bureaucrats, however, a longer-term economic view is required, as is less greed.

War —  and sanctions (what used to be called “blockades” in English) are indeed war — certainly does force civilians and civil servants into more moral and more intelligent behaviors: self-sacrifice, unity, collective action, planning, determination, study, reflection, etc. The West’s sanctions have been perhaps praised in Iran nearly as often as they have been derided because Iran has had no choice but to build up its domestic capabilities — economic, intellectual, moral and natural — which naturally demanded a long-term commitment of domestic effort, political policies and acceptance of the national consensus.

But if the economic impact of illegal Western sanctions encouraged Iran’s leaders to make a 25-year oil bargain at only a 4% loss, then I say: take the money and run. If Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv fully had their way Donald Trump would have succeeded in forcing Iran to get 0% value from China —instead Tehran settled for 96% value over 25 years. If Iran doesn’t get yuan for every barrel that’s fine —China has technologies and skills which Iran can learn from, assimilate into future domestic projects and then likely export.

But this is what nobody seems to get about the indubitably socialist-inspired modern Iranian economy: Iran doesn’t do Western capitalism, i.e. it doesn’t sell out. Chinese companies will work alongside Iranian industries, all of which are state-owned and state-controlled to a degree which is unthinkable in the neoliberal West. China is not “buying” Iranian corporations – this is not $400 billion in “mergers” and “take-overs” — they are buying Iranian products or bartering for them via techniques Iran can learn from and projects which Iran needs to see built.

And there you have it: Iran secured money and intellectual investment for 25-years, and there is no danger of this investment being hijacked by foreign capital from any nation, which is how foreign investment works in Western neoliberalism. If the Iranian government can redistribute money downwards so effectively over four decades of hot and cold war, then surely they can do better in times of economic prosperity —this is the argument many Iranians have made over and over and over, and the West is fearfully aware of this rationale.

$16 billion per year in cash/goods/skills, and throw in a little thing called diplomatic unity, over 25 years – remember to compare that with what the West just offered: In 2019 France proposed a one-time $15 billion credit line. It was shot down by Washington, and of course Europe complied because neither want Iran to be prosperous or stable.

An incredibly ‘woke’ cooperation between 2 different ethnicities, cultures, regions & religions

Iran has proven to the world that America no longer has the ability to control the main global gate, and that is indeed a real achievement, but this achievement was equally fueled by Western incompetence, cruelty, intolerance and greed. Iran and China have risen, thanks to their modern and revolutionary cultures and structures — of course — but just look at how far the West has fallen since 1971?

As for China it’s vital to remember that it was an oil embargo which pushed fascist Japan into war with the United States, but China now has a guaranteed source of oil stability. China, which imports 75% of its daily needs, is almost as oil-poor as Japan but now no matter what Western adventurism produces in the Straits of Hormuz Beijing can count on the certainty of enough oil supplies to get by.

Iranian oil is already serving as Beijing’s backup against Western imperialist immolation, as the OilPrice article relates in detail: “China is stockpiling oil at a pace unrivaled in the developed world.” Doing so is, “In a marked dichotomy with the U.S., China is building oil inventories by design.” China, in contrast to Western liberal democracy, actually has competent civil service motivated — not by “universal” values, perhaps — by actual values instead of personal greed.

And there you have it: good governance based on modern political ideas which value the individual citizen over the aristocrat’s dollars. That’s the reason why Iran and China rankle the West so much.

So how could the West possibly like the 25-year strategic pact – it’s a “permanent” sea change. It’s a “permanent” step up in class for both Iran and China, and via an incredibly unprecedented cooperation. “Our relations with Iran will not be affected by the current situation, but will be permanent and strategic,” said China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the signing.

But it’s not based on mere dollars — it’s a “pact” in a very broad cultural and political sense, and that’s both a shocking rejection of the Western model and the exciting proposal of something new for global humanity.

China and the USSR never cooperated as closely as this. Impressive Cuba, all alone in the New World, just can’t bring the heft which Iran brings to the table. North Korea is so beset upon and so war-scarred that they reject diplomatic ties like what Iran just accepted. You’d have to go back to the Eastern Bloc’s cooperation with Moscow to find something similar.

But what makes this cooperation so incredibly and excitingly “woke” is that it’s between two totally different cultures, religions and ethnicities. It’s truly a meeting of minds, as equals. We could truly go on and on about this aspect, and we should. We should also repeatedly point out that Western liberal democracy demands homogeneity via total submission to their hive mind, whereas socialist democracy protects, accepts and elevates differences and minorities in a consensus-based democracy.

It’s a meeting of two longtime empires whose modern political structures now explicitly forbid empire-building. But that’s a point which stresses the past and looks backward.

This is a meeting of two countries bravely and excitingly looking forward to this new century, whether it’s the 15th (less than two weeks ago the Iranian calendar reached the year 1400), or the 48th (it’s year 4719 in China).

It’s an incredible cooperation, and one so very long in the making.

Part 2 of this article examines how Western media responds to Sino-Iranian unity with hysterics at the prospects of reduced income from the Western imperialism machine. The article is titled: The Iran-China pact is a huge blow for Western imperialists who want war in Asia

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

%d bloggers like this: