China Will Burst NATO’s Inflated Delusions

May 26, 2023

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By Natasha Wright

The situation will in all likelihood turn sour even more because NATO cannot stop its woeful warmongering and waging endless wars.

We are living in turbulent times indeed. Vital volumes of history are being written right before our very eyes.

You may have noticed that “Dr Doom” is sending out doom-and-gloom messages yet again. Fortune reported back in April that Nouriel Roubini (aka Dr Doom) is warning of painful stagflation caused by a new Cold War with China and the balkanization of the global economy.

Al Jazeera also reported on Roubini’s downcast views, saying, “the world is headed for dark times in the next 20 years.”

No wonder Dr Doom, who leapt to financial stardom by predicting an economic catastrophe in 2008, is now warning the world that the conflict between the United States and China is simmering – and surely not only in the area of economics.

However, the global situation is so frighteningly serious that it will most surely crescendo into a double-dip recession for a plethora of other factors as well as from the prevailing sentiments in the Pentagon predicting a forthcoming war with China.

We are living through truly turbulent times. There are countless politically crucial things happening globally that boggle the mind. If one remembers the events only this January when Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary-general, visited Japan and Korea, one can sense, to paraphrase Shakespeare, “something rotten in the state of NATOstan”.

During the course of both fleeting visits, Stoltenberg pledged to foster bilateral relations due to the historic challenges that NATO is dealing with, such as the war in Ukraine. He went on to brag that NATO already has established liaison offices globally, the main ones in New York and Vienna, and particularly indicative is the one in Ukraine. At its foundation at the inception of the Cold War in 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization comprised 12 nations set up at the behest of the U.S. The military bloc now comprises 31 members and is increasingly appointing itself with a global role.

As a reminder, NATO already has permanent liaison offices in the following countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. A proposed Japan office caused considerable commotion.

NATO claims to be based on the right of states to determine their own foreign policy and to exercise collective self-defense. Despite lofty claims of upholding “democratic values”, the U.S.-dominated military alliance has been strong-arming a number of countries to join without their populations exercising a democratic mandate by holding referenda.

NATO likes turning its alleged allies into geopolitical dwarves held at gunpoint, regardless of their size or geography. Claims by the military bloc – that opening a regional liaison office in East Asia is merely an indicator of changing global security environment – sound euphemistic.

Some political analysts have observed that if NATO meanders into Asian affairs it will likely bring Russia and China even closer together. Ironically, the expansionism of the U.S.-led military bloc brings with it self-fulfilling prophecies. The global insecurity it incessantly warns about is of its own perception and making.

Nevertheless, Beijing is fully aware that if NATO places its head in a crouching tiger’s mouth, then one day it might get bitten off.

NATO has already brutally provoked the war in Ukraine, yet now the U.S.-led military vehicle wants to expand to the Far East. Its solicitous focus on Japan is particularly alarming given the vile history of Japanese genocidal aggression toward China.

That is a toxic thorn for China stuck into Asia and it will be therefore pulled out, according to the Global Times. The news outlet can be seen as reflecting the thinking of the political leadership in Beijing. The Chinese are thus fully aware of NATO’s encroaching thorns and they will not be sleep walking into disaster.

The Global Times continued: “Japan should not forget that while the Meiji Restoration made it richer and stronger, it also brought about the Westernization of Japan and its policy of leaving Asia and entering Europe, which at one time made the desire for empire extremely strong. The madness of pursuing Asian hegemony and sphere of influence led it to become a militaristic war-mongering demon, which brought deep disaster to Asian countries.”

Moreover, the Global Times’ editorial warned: “Japan wants to introduce NATO into Asia for its security. However, Japan’s security can never be achieved by relying on the military support of the U.S. or NATO. In fact, the more closely Japan cooperates with the U.S. or NATO militarily, the less it will obtain the security it wants, and the less likely it will be able to change its image as a geo-strategic dwarf.”

Don’t you just love how Beijing is calling a NATO spade a spade? “The sewage of the Cold War,” is how the Global Times referred to the U.S.-led military bloc.

And all that comes in perfect unison with Moscow’s increasingly contemptuous views of NATO as a threat to world security.

Lest we forget, the United States has instigated the vast majority (80 per cent) of the 200 or so armed conflicts that are estimated to have occurred globally from the end of World War Two until 2001. If we include the post-9/11 decades up to the present, the American responsibility for global violence might be as high as 90-95 per cent. And this is for a nation whose population is only 4.25 per cent of the globe. How utterly nefarious and condemnable is that odious record?

Shall we now mention some significant military mathematics? The Economist reports on research comparing military power of the U.S. vs China. The U.S. military budget is four times bigger than that of China. But the Chinese Navy surpassed the U.S. Navy as the biggest in the world sometime around 2020. The Pentagon continues using euphemisms, such as it considers China a “pacing challenge”.

The dilemma that appears to exasperate Western military commanders is whether China can continue on the same path and expand its military capacity to challenge the U.S. hegemony, or whether China’s relative power might be reaching its peak. The shipbuilding industry requires exorbitant investment since it requires a booming industrial base. The dilemma for the U.S. is its economic stagnation and the number of its warships are declining, in contrast to a sharp increase in the number of Chinese ships.

As for the total number of military vessels from aircraft carriers to submarines, frigates and destroyers, China surpasses the U.S. by a ratio of 390:296. It is forecast that China will have 400 warships in the next two years whereas the number of American ones will decrease to around 290. The ones which have fallen into obsolescence are to be written off. The Chinese advantage stems from having the biggest shipbuilding industry in the world. Some 44 per cent of all the ships built worldwide in 2021 were from Chinese yards.

China and its military forces are currently fully focused on Taiwan whereas the U.S. forces are scattered around globally in over 800 bases owing to untenable hegemonic ambitions. China has pledged to reclaim Taiwan if necessary by force, so tensions are running high on both sides.

Time though works in Beijing’s favor.

In the long run, the situation will in all likelihood turn sour even more because NATO cannot stop its woeful warmongering and waging endless wars.

G7 Desecrates Hiroshima A-Bomb Memory With Warmongering Summit

May 19, 2023

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The Group of Seven held a de facto war summit in Hiroshima, a place that is synonymous with the horror and evil of war.

The United States-led “Group of Seven” cabal held one of their increasingly meaningless jamborees this weekend in the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The posturing of solemnity by these warmongering elites in a place that represents the ultimate barbarity of American imperialism is not only sickening in its hypocrisy and profanity. The evident lack of awareness and shame of these charlatans is a sure sign that their privileged historical charade is coming to an end.

American President Joe Biden took time out from his nation’s collapsing economy and scandals over his rampant family corruption to attend the G7 summit in Japan. He was joined by so-called leaders from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Canada as well as the premier of the host nation, Fumio Kishida. Joining the lackeys was the European Union’s chief ventriloquist doll, Ursula von der Leyen, and Ukrainian comedian-turned-arms-dealer, aka “president”, Vladimir Zelensky.

The proceedings began with a cynical and disingenuous “dedication” at the Hiroshima Peace Park whose centerpiece is the Genbaku Dome, the iconic spectral ruin caused by the U.S. atomic bombing in 1945. The very gathering of leaders at this sacred place is the same people who are criminally pushing the world toward another conflagration.

Biden and his cronies soon dispensed with hollow talk about “peace” and “nuclear disarmament” to make the G7 summit a rallying call for more hostility toward Russia and China. There were plans for more economic warfare (sanctions) against Moscow, which was vilified as usual for “unprovoked aggression” against Ukraine. There were pledges of supplying more weapons to the powder keg that the U.S. and its NATO partners have created in Ukraine. There were high-handed dismissals of international diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict, which have been proposed by China, and Latin American and African nations.

The U.S.-led G7 camarilla also made their hate fest a forum for drumming up more hostility toward China, accusing Beijing of building up nuclear arms and threatening the world.

In short, the Group of Seven held a de facto war summit in Hiroshima, a place that is synonymous with the horror and evil of war.

Seventy-eight years ago, on the morning of August 6, 1945, at 8.15 am, the US Air Force Enola Gay B-29 bomber dropped the atomic bomb on the city. The resulting death toll would be 140,000, mainly civilians, many of them instantly incinerated, others dying from horrendous burns and radiation poisoning. A second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later.

History has shown that there was no military need to use such weapons of mass destruction. Official American reasoning ostensibly about hastening the end of the Pacific War can now be seen as a flagrant lie. The bombs were deliberately used by the United States in a demonstration of state terrorism especially directed at its wartime ally, the Soviet Union. Arguably, these grotesque genocidal crimes sealed the beginning of the Cold War. This horrific demarcation was how the U.S.-led Western imperialist system would try to control the postwar world.

The same deplorable and criminal Cold War mentality persists among the U.S. rulers and their Western minions. Washington needs wars and conflict to maintain its untenable hegemonic ambitions along with its Western satraps who are equally complicit. The barbarous power structure can only be sustained by “ideological projections” designating “enemies” and “threats” that, in turn, provide cover for the otherwise unacceptable barbarism and warmongering. The Soviet Union was the “enemy”, then it became “Islamic terrorists”, and now it’s Russia and China.

The ideological projection also casts a narcissistic image of America and its Western allies as benevolent, peace-loving, democratic, law-abiding, and so on. It’s an almost incredible feat of global gaslighting and inversion of reality; made possible largely by mass disinformation via the Western corporate media/propaganda system. Thankfully, that charade is becoming threadbare too.

One indicator this week was a study by the respected Brown University’s Cost of War project which estimated the number killed just over the past two decades from U.S.-led wars at 4.5 million. All told, since the end of World War Two estimates of deaths from American wars of aggression around the world are in the order of 20-30 million. No other nation in history comes close to the destructiveness of U.S. power, which laughably declares itself the “leader of the free world”, the “democratic upholder of rules-based order”.

The United States has devolved into a monstrous imperialist rogue state that is addicted to war, conflict, mass killing and even threats of annihilation in order to prop up its corporate capitalist economy. Its accumulated record $31 trillion of national debt speaks of the chronic disease and its moribund dollar lifeline.

Yet, Washington’s ideological pretensions – sustained and promulgated by a subservient corporate media/propaganda system – have the absurd audacity to paint Russia, China and other nations as “threats” to international peace.

The war in Ukraine has been at least nine years in the making. Even NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg brazenly admits the preparation for war against Russia since the CIA-backed coup in Kiev in 2014. The war is playing out now in a way that vividly manifests the psychopathic logic of the U.S. rulers and their Western lackeys. Britain has emerged as Uncle Sam’s righthand henchman for provoking escalation, the latest provocation to Russia being the supply of long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles capable of striking Crimea. Already, Russian civilians have been casualties from these British munitions. This is like Part Two of the slaughter-fest madness of Britain’s Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimea War (1853-56). Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is another contemptible diversity cut-out figure. Dweebs like him, Biden, Scholz, Trudeau, Macron, Meloni and Von der Leyen should be marched off to the dock for war crimes.

The relentless logic of war compelled by American hegemonic ambitions means that the world is being pushed to the brink of world war again. The same imperialist tendencies that created two previous world wars are reaching fever-pitch again.

Hiroshima is an obscene reminder of war and in particular U.S.-led war. It is truly disturbing that an American president and his Western elite flunkies were paying homage to victims of an atomic holocaust while at the same insanely making plans for intensifying aggression toward Russia and China.

The arrogant American rulers have never even offered an apology for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Indeed, they persist in claiming righteousness. Biden over the weekend added insult to travesty when he declared that Japan would be offered “protection” from America’s “nuclear umbrella” against alleged Chinese expansionism. This was stated by the leader of a nation that is ringing China with military bases, missile systems, naval firepower and nuclear-capable bombers. Japan’s abject premier Fumio Kishida actually thanked Biden and declared that the U.S. was a force for peace in the world.

In any case, the G7 is becoming a global irrelevance. It is a relic of former American imperial might. The “rich club” used to command half of the world’s economy, it is now down to 30 per cent and falling. The emerging multipolar world led by China, Russia, the Global South and many others, the BRICS, ASEAN, ALBA, EEA, SCO, are all testimony to the waning American Empire and its rapidly declining dollar dominance. The G7 doesn’t even make any pretence about helping the global economy and development. It has become a bellicose vehicle emitting desperate warmongering by a crumbling hegemonic system.

Only in the fairytale realm of Western media/propaganda could such a vile charade at Hiroshima be projected. To the rest of the world, it is utterly sickening.

China’s Peace in West Asia

May 18, 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen English

By Janna Kadri 

The Chinese-brokered agreement emerged in retaliation to the US as the latter continues to wage a series of provocations aimed at destabilizing China’s domestic stability with regard to Taiwan.

Under the auspices of China, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic relations on March 10. At the time of the deal’s announcement, US President Joe Biden said better relations between “Israel” and their Arab neighbors are better for everybody rather than relations with Iran. Better for “everybody” depends on what is meant for everybody. If it means the US financial classes and their Arab and Zionist comprador in the region, then Biden is spot on. However, for the masses of the Arab World that experience declining living standards, whether by peace or war, the US-Israeli aggression against them will not stop. What must be understood is that the aggression is necessary for Western wealth-making because it extracts regional resources, which should otherwise better Arab social conditions, and ships them to US-European markets in order to feed exponential growth and profits.

Moreover, the aggression, whether military or ideological, is itself an industry in its own right, which fuels wealth accumulation. At a first-principle level, the policies that dominate the air-waves, all aim to foment wars. To extoll the virtues of the market, erect a cultural identity that aborts the potential of labor as a historical agent, and push down the throat of indebted states policies of privatization and private property, leaves little resources for the peoples of the region and delivers them into inter-communal strife. The case of Sudan is one such blatant example. The wars visited upon the Arabs drive away their resources and are therefore a must for the global financial class.

However, capital or the principal social relation governing the remaking of the global order is a two-pronged process. At first, capital is of the same class fabric, and it initially aims at oppressing workers everywhere. This capital against labor is a first contradiction. A second but not secondary contradiction is the inter-capitalist competition for power, which determines the shares of the various circles of capital. For instance, the US sits atop the capital pyramid and receives a fallout in rent depending on its power standing. It would not want lower suzerains to catch more of the rents. It sometimes sacrifices its bourgeois allies to grab their shares. Saudi Arabia was one such candidate readied to be sacrificed along with some sections of its ruling class.

With the rise of China, the global balance of forces shifted, and bourgeois classes disgruntled with the US’s avarice for rents saw a window of opportunity to save themselves. After years of war with Yemen at the behest of empire to secure the Mandeb straits, it was left weakened and alone. Sensing the danger of bourgeois fratricide, the Saudis intelligently decided to maneuver into a position backed by Chinese guarantees of security. China builds capacity and détente abroad, which are measures anathema to US imperialism whose goal is to destabilize in order to snatch resources.

For the US, War Masquerades as Peace

In efforts to normalize relations between “Israel” and the Arab world, the US brokered a series of agreements called The Abraham Accords. They propose a strategy of forging alliances with “Israel” to counterbalance the Axis of Resistance. They base the rationale for joining Arab and Israeli forces on an alleged Iranian threat. Already, these Arab ruling classes were extensions of and under the purview of the US-Israeli ruling classes. Their coming out is nothing less than a sign of weakness to reposition forces around a strengthening Axis of resistance.

These Abrahamic shenanigans provide new venues for class allies to enhance their own aggressive capabilities through the purchase of arms from “Israel”. “Israel”, by the way, is the largest exporter of arms per capita in the world. So far, “Israel” normalizes with Oman, Bahrain, the UAE, Morocco and Sudan, in addition to the earlier trophies of peace, Jordan and Egypt. It shares an informal relation with Saudi Arabia and Doha. It for instance conducts diamond trade in Doha while Saudi Arabia has recently opened its airspace for Israeli commercial airplanes.

The so-called Abraham Accords are an unthinkable ‘promise’ for peace without Palestine and the right of return. They supposedly foster incremental developments with the GCC by precluding even the lowly option of a two-state solution which was endorsed by the Arab Peace Initiative (API). Saudi Arabia maintained that its position remains solely expressed through its commitment to the API, wherein normalization with “Israel” would only be conceivable once the conditions listed in the Arab-brokered initiative are fulfilled. But the fact that UAE, Sudan, Morocco, and Bahrain normalized their relations with “Israel” is indicative of consent by Saudi Arabia. As observed by Israeli writer Henrique Zimmerman, the signatories of the Accords “would not have signed the agreement without the approval of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is the most influential country in the Arab world.” So what would have really prevented an alliance between “Israel” and Saudi Arabia?

In a previous article, I showed how the US failed to fulfill its security commitments toward Saudi Arabia. Whereas Saudi Arabia has boosted the US status as a world hegemon by denominating its oil in dollars, the US has failed to stick to its side of the bargain by ensuring that the Saudi Kingdom has all its security needs, foremost its regime, or ruling class security answered. Fearing the tightening grip of the Axis of resistance around it, normalization with “Israel” went out of the window, while China provided the face-saving arrangement with Iran.  

An agreement “Made in China”

Unlike the US, China needs peace to expand. The Chinese-brokered agreement emerged in retaliation to the US as the latter continues to wage a series of provocations aimed at destabilizing China’s domestic stability with regard to Taiwan. It is retaliatory because it presents a strategic threat to US interests and its hegemonic influence across the Arab region. It is also retaliatory because it threatens to undermine the petrodollar system upon which the dollar supremacy is based on. Since the Saudi-Iran agreement went into effect, it is only fair to characterize the scale of the changes that ensued following its implementation as unprecedented. Very much like a drop of water falling into a puddle, the agreement rippled across the region, bearing fruits in Yemen and Syria.

First are the developments that ensued between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. For eight years Yemen endured a US-sponsored war that has claimed the lives of nearly half a million people. On April 9, Saudi officials met with high-ranking officials from the Sanaa government for peace negotiations, and on April 14, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced that a massive prisoner exchange operation had kicked off. On April 29, senior member of the Ansar Allah political bureau Ali Al-Qahoum admitted that China played a pivotal role in the negotiations for restoring regional peace and warding off Western hegemony. Some challenges however remain with regards to US and UK interference in pushing for another escalation. Yet a positive outlook persist as officials from both sides mobilize efforts for dialogue. 

Secondly, there has been the push to re-integrate Syria into the Arab League through the collective efforts of several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, which has in spearheaded the move. The US and the UK had on the other hand reaffirmed their commitment to remain opposed to the restoring of ties with Damascus but they would continue to work with Arab states that rekindle diplomatic relations.  

Thirdly, there has been news of Saudi Arabia expressing an interest in holding talks with Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia was largely a precursor for designating Hezbollah as a terror organization both at the GCC level as well as in the Arab League. With a shift in policy that appears to be more driven from the Saudi side than from Iran, prospects for political stability in Lebanon are also looming. But the fact remains that Lebanon is sickened with a sectarianism fueled by geopolitical rents that easily plays into the hand of “Israel” and the US.

Fourthly, prospects for normalization with Hamas are likewise on the horizon as talks were recently held between Hamas and Saudi officials. On April 16, the two parties had met in Riyadh to hold discussions on the release of Hamas-affiliated individuals detained in Saudi jails. There are also hopes for relations to improve between Saudi Arabia and Iraq’s movement for resistance, the Kataib Hezbollah.

Finally, whether the deal restores relations between Turkey and Syria is still up to discussion. However, chances are they might broach the issue considering that the project of restoring peace in Syria is part of the wider Iran-Saudi deal agenda. Yet the presence of US troops in Syria remains problematic for two reasons: the first, US troops are stationed in Syria for the sole purpose of toppling the government of Bashar al-Assad. To loot Syria’s oil resources in the north is simply means towards that end; and secondly, because Saudi Arabia’s institutions are closely tied to the US, while the latter holds much leverage inside the Kingdom. As a key regional player, Saudi Arabia could exert pressure to restore Ankara-Damascus relations, but it is unclear how able it is to do so. 

What now?                      

The US has been setback by the China-sponsored peace. Its “rules-based” world order hangs by a thread, while its dollar supremacy wanes. Doubtless, the blow was hard for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who just a month prior to the Iran-Saudi deal said that “Israel” and Saudi Arabia were planning to join forces on the basis of a common goal of stopping Iran. By more sober analysis, normalizing with “Israel” for any regime in the region is an act of suicide, unless the march of history eliminates the working classes as subject of history.

After all the Israeli-Arab war is a war of capital against labor. The principal lesson learnt so far is that regional peace is global-relations-derived peace. The saddest part of this is that Arab progressive forces still prioritize internal demands for higher working-class wages over struggles against imperialism. Without Arab national security, there is no working-class living security.  While the region’s future and much of the Third World will depend on how China unseats the US hegemon, the Arab vanguard is fast asleep.

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Iran-Saudi detente is a setback for Israel

May 17 2023

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The China-brokered Iran-Saudi deal marked a significant shift toward establishing Persian Gulf and regional stability, but is a major setback for Israelis who have cultivated Arab-Iranian divisions for years.

By Stasa Salacanin

The recent rapprochement between regional arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran has added a new layer to the already complicated geopolitical landscape in West Asia, especially as the kingdom was once touted to be the next major Arab state to normalize relations with Israel.

Signed in March, the Chinese-brokered agreement, which reestablishes diplomatic relations and reopens embassies in Riyadh and Tehran after a seven-year hiatus, is seen by many as a watershed moment that could potentially reduce bilateral animosity and ease tensions throughout the region.

However, the deal has caused great dismay in Tel Aviv and caught Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu off guard.

It is understandable why Israel is disappointed, as the prioritization of the Abraham Accords has been a cornerstone of Israeli foreign policy in recent years. The accords, initially involving Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain in 2021, was a major foreign policy victory for Netanyahu and part of a broader strategy to isolate Iran in the region.

And normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia, the most influential Arab state today, would have solidified Israel’s ambition to establish diplomatic ties with its Arab neighbors and further enhance its diplomatic influence in West Asia.

Regional stability: A setback for Israel

Consequently, the Saudi-Iran deal is viewed by many observers as a setback to Israel’s ambitions, with some analysts even perceiving it as a diplomatic victory for the Iranians. Importantly, Riyadh’s resumption of diplomatic ties with Tehran has shifted perceptions across the Arab region, creating conditions that make the Saudis joining the Abraham Accords less likely than ever.

Equally, the resetting of relations does not necessarily mean that Iran and Saudi Arabia are putting their differences aside. As Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh of the Middle East Studies Forum at Deakin University, explains to The Cradle, “It does mean that both countries realize that escalation of tensions and the prospects of all-out conflict would be detrimental for both.”

He emphasizes that “diplomatic ties ensure viable lines of communication to ensure the cold war between the two remains on ice.”

Matteo Colombo, a researcher at Clingendael’s Conflict Research Unit, concurs, saying that a major indirect consequence of the shift in the Saudi-Iranian relationship is that regional conflicts are likely to become less violent than in previous years.

Uncertain impact on Saudi-Israeli ties

The impact of the Saudi-Iran detente on Saudi-Israeli ties remains uncertain. Russell Lucas, a professor of international relations and domestic politics and culture of the Middle East at the University of Michigan, believes that while Iran-Saudi normalization does not directly impact Saudi-Israeli relations, one should not expect dramatic moves between Tel Aviv and Riyadh who will maintain mostly discreet ties.

Akbarzadeh argues that expecting a normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia was always going to be a challenging prospect. He highlights the deep sense of injury among Muslims and Arabs due to Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian lands:

“How could Saudi Arabia overlook this sense of injustice and join the so-called Abraham Accords? … such a move would have delivered a major setback to Saudi’s self-image projection as the global champion of Islam.”

Dr. Mehran Kamrava, a professor of government studies at Georgetown University in Qatar, views Israel’s friendship with certain Arab states as purely instrumentalist, driven by the need to contain threats such as Iran. “A simple review of Israeli policies clarifies that Israel is among the biggest contributing factors to regional insecurity and tensions,” he tells The Cradle.

Arab reluctance to normalize

In fact, any prospects of further rapprochement between Israel and other Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia, are complicated under the current far-right Israeli government. This may lead countries that were previously considering normalizing their relations with Tel Aviv to reevaluate their decisions.

While countries that have already normalized relations with Israel are unlikely to reverse the process, they may “apply the brakes at any time” on their joint initiatives in certain sectors, such as military collaboration.

Both Lucas and Akbarzadeh agree that one of the key effects of the Saudi-Iran rapprochement is the reluctance of Riyadh and other Arab states to be drawn into a confrontation with Iran on behalf of Israel. According to Lucas:

“Public opinion in the [Persian] Gulf registering concern about Israel’s right-wing government’s treatment of the Palestinians and fear of escalation has reached leaders in states like Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”

Therefore, the current developments suggest that Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states now hold more leverage in their negotiations with Israel as a result of Riyadh’s deal with Tehran, giving them more license to shape their future dealings with Tel Aviv.

Saudi intent matters

Not all views are as rosy, however. Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a CNBC interview that the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran has very “little to do with Israel,” claiming that Saudi Arabia, “has no illusions about who their adversaries are and who their friends are in [West Asia].”

Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver, tells The Cradle that Netanyahu is actually right when he talks about Saudi Arabia’s orientation:

“Riyadh’s foreign policy is much more aligned with Israel while the recent reduction of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia are to be very temporary – rooted in trying to reduce tensions so that Saudi Arabia can invest in its long term plan of trying to enhance economic development, attract tourists, more foreign investment, and to expand its new policy of modernization under Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS).”

Hashemi thinks that “behind the scenes, the Saudi crown prince and Netanyahu both have similar visions for the future of the Middle East [West Asia] rooted in blocking regional democratization, trying to contain Iran, and influence/expand the Abraham Accords between Israel and various Arab states.”

Furthermore, he predicts that “if Donald Trump or the Republicans take the White House, Saudi Arabia’s relations with Iran will go back to the period of 2017 when Saudi Arabia was very much supportive of Trump’s hawkish policy towards Iran.”

Israel’s miscalculation

But Netanyahu’s understanding of the shifting sands in Persian Gulf states – and his claims that Israel is “an indispensable partner for the Arab world in achieving security, prosperity, and peace” – may be oversimplified.

Kamrava, for example, observes that for a long time, Arab and Israeli policies toward Tehran have been guided by the assumption that Iran can be effectively marginalized and excluded from regional security arrangements:

“But the actual experience has shown that such an assumption is indeed incorrect. In fact, efforts to marginalize or exclude Iran only lead to further reactions from Iran. It is for this reason that first the UAE, and now Saudi Arabia, have changed course and have decided to engage with Iran,” he notes.

Tehran, on the other hand, “has consistently shown that it responds positively not to threats but to constructive engagement,” says Kamrava. So, “if a change in Iranian foreign policy is what regional states are after, then talking to Tehran is the best way of achieving that, rather than working to overthrow the entire Islamic Republic system, which is what Israel is advocating,” he explains.

Others concur. Israel would be mistaken to assume that hostility towards Iran is the defining dynamic in the region, as it has been for a significant part of the last decade, argues Matteo Colombo. This, he adds, “makes it more challenging for Tel Aviv to advocate for normalizing diplomatic relations with other countries in the region to contain Iran.”

The China factor

Hashemi offers another hypothesis for Saudi Arabia’s overriding strategy in its rapprochement with Iran. He believes that Riyadh’s latest moves may be viewed as a message to Washington: “Give us what we want in terms of weapon sales and security guarantees and new strategic vision arrangement that Saudi Arabia is demanding from the US for long-term commitments.”

If the US does not provide these guarantees, says Hashemi, “then Saudi Arabia may symbolically break from the US policy and start to engage with some US adversaries, including China.”  He notes that these are very short calculations, as the Saudis are still closely engaged with the west.

But the Beijing-brokered Saudi-Iran detente has created great unease in Tel Aviv and Washington, where the deal is viewed as a loss of US diplomatic initiative and influence on the world stage.

While the agreement has received broad international support, generating optimism for its potential impact against the backdrop of rapidly developing multipolarity, uncertainties persist regarding its specific outcomes. There is a lack of information over of tangible incentives and guarantees from China in ensuring the deal’s success – even while there is confidence in the motivations and commitments of the parties involved.

In terms of impartial and honest mediation, China is regarded more favorably than the US due to its positive and established relationships with both Saudi Arabia and Iran, and its vested interests in maintaining peace and stability in the Persian Gulf, from which it derives much of its energy supplies.

China: The Roots of NATO’s Madness

May 6, 2023

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By Declan Hayes

The Chinese are not only fully awake but fully cognisant of the Anglo-Saxons’ wiles in the debt, and semiconductor sectors, as well as in honey, Hello Kitty and all others.

“Let China sleep. For when she wakes, the world will tremble”. Although The Dictionnaire Napoléon attributes this apothegm not to the great Napoleon (who loved a good bon mot almost as much as he loved a good battle) but to British actor David Niven playing the British Ambassador during the Boxer rebellion in the 1963 Hollywood blockbuster 55 days at Peking, it matters not.

China has arrived and she is shaking up the world to a degree not even her Japanese neighbour achieved during Japan’s recent years of economic glory. That being so, we must gauge the force of this Godzilla who, horror of NATO horrors, is not only brokering peace in the Middle East but, more to the heart of this essay, is honey-laundering atop a mountain of debt that has our NATO overlords sweating bricks.

First stop is honey. China has agreed to annually import some 50,000 tonnes of honey from sanctions-struck Iran, which needs every nickel and dime it can scrape together. Because the Iranian bee industry, as this informative article explains, has huge upside potential, I am happy China is helping Iran’s 140,000 beekeepers stay afloat. Whereas in Western countries, bee-keeping is generally a side product some farmers engage in, in Syria, and I imagine, in Iran, bee-keepers follow their nomadic bees about as they migrate from one locale to the other; as Iran, for example, has over four times the amount of flower species Western Europe has Iran, like Syria, is a veritable heaven on earth for bees. Although NATO’s Syrian war of extermination has severely disrupted Syria’s bees and Syria’s bee-keepers, this Sino-Iranian deal shows there is hope for the bee-keepers of Iran, Iraq and Syria and, for that, I could not be happier.

Allied to that, China, the world’s largest honey producer, is accused of dumping its own honey onto the international honey market and thereby undercutting the EU’s 60,0000 bee producers and, crucially, Ukraine, against which Western countries have no hope of competing, at least on price.

But, in China’s defence, it must be said that such activities are part and parcel of today’s international “rules based order” systems of trade. Here, for example, is a report of Irish farmers managing Saudi Arabia’s massive cattle farmsGlobal beef production has changed and one either goes for the quantity that Saudi Arabia and Bill Gates’ own mega farms represent or one goes for quality, for such things as Kobe beef, Irish whiskey and French luxury goods.

Irish whiskey, which is a much finer product than the cough mixtures sister Scotland palms off to an unsuspecting world, is important to our analysis as Ukraine’s rotund Ambassador to Ireland has demanded Ireland boycott its own Irish whiskey, boycotting being a tactic the Irish not only invented but excelled at. Leaving aside that ignoramus and all other considerations, if Ireland can grab back some of the market in China (and Russia) from the Scots, that would be a good thing because China, whether the CIA likes it or not, is the new Roaring 20s Japan.

That means the Chinese have a lot of money to splurge on Irish whiskey, French luxury goods and Hello Kitty. As the Japanese, during their golden years, accounted for over 70% of Louis Vuitton’s global sales, Irish whiskey producers, French luxury goods’ makers, Iranian beekeepers and the custodians of Japan’s kawaii culture cannot ignore China.

The Chinese pay for all their Hello Kitty merchandise, their Scottish cough mixtures and their French perfumes by exporting stuff, things like bullet trains that they reversed-engineered from Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Because China is growing so fast, there are opportunities galore there in everything from honey and Kobe beef to Volkswagen cars and aircraft carriers, all of which China, with its reverse-engineering hacks, can pay for with its export surpluses or by taking on some debt.

As with honey, so also is China a major agricultural producer in her own right and her farms range from the very primitive to state-of-the-art wonders that match anything the Netherlands, or even Bill Gates’ sinister mega-ranches have to offer. China’s main constraint in this respect is its waters are in the wrong place and it is not at all clear that the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, its traditional water source, will cover its future needs.

To tackle that and countless other development bottlenecks China, to accommodate the growing expectations of her countless masses, must invest heavily on a scale the world has never previously witnessed. And it must borrow heavily too as borrowing is a means of spreading investments one might not otherwise be able to afford over longer terms.

And that brings us to China: The Root of Madness, the CIA’s 1967 Cold War documentary “explaining” China through the CIA’s prism. But China must be explained through a Chinese, not an American prism and, if CIA spy Theodore H White, who produced that garbage, had bothered to read Chairman Mao, he would have come across far more references to ancient Chinese dynasties than he would to Karl Marx or Freddy Engels.

Because White’s Anglo-Saxons fret far too much about China’s debt policies rather than their own, we will now compare and contrast one with the other. Traditionally, there were two basic economic systems, the German-Japanese system where banks and borrowing were the financial engines of their sure but steady growth and the Anglo-American system where the riskier, roller-coaster stock market ruled the roost. China’s approach to debt, yet again, is best described as Japan’s on steroids.

In the United States, to coin a Napoleonic bon mot, debt has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. The vultures’ Klondyke that was payday lending, where the Anglo-Saxon poor, living from pay cheque to pay cheque, paid unsustainable loan-sharking rates to their creditors, has been replaced with predatory smart phone apps, where poor Americans are now reduced to buying their meals on credit and paying through the nose for them, as Uncle Sam catches them in micro debt traps from which there is no escape.

At the macro international level, African and other nations have long been stuck in a similarly slick debt trap they too have no means of escaping, not least because the IMF and the World Bank, their supposed saviours, were tasked ab ovo with keeping them enslaved to Uncle Sam and his Anglo-Saxon partners in crime.

Whatever one may think about the Bible, Proverbs 22:7: gets it right when it proclaims that “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is slave of the lender”. That has certainly been the case in Africa, as it is now in tiny Ireland, which was forced, almost at gunpoint, to take on over 40% of the EU’s debt, and Ukraine, which is currently fighting Russia on a maxed-out credit card.

That credit card will have to be cleared by Ukraine handing over its crown jewels to BlackRock, Vanguard and its other creditors and by paying interest on the mountains of debt it has racked up to fight its unwinnable war. Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Halliburton and Uncle Sam’s other seasoned vultures are already in advanced discussions to run Ukraine’s energy industry and the leprechaun vultures of Vichy Ireland have pledged to exploit (“rebuild”, as they call it) Ukraine’s Rivne Oblast region as part of their reward for propping up Zelensky’s rump Reich and sniggering at those tens of thousands of young Ukrainians slaughtered to make these scams possible.

Rustem Umerov, who heads Ukraine’s State Property Fund (SPF), claims there are more than 3,500 companies which are listed as state-owned, with almost 1,800 of them bankrupt and non-functional. The list for a privatisation fire-sale to Zelensky’s Western allies includes distilleries and grain elevators, which could be of interest to investors, as well as hundreds of abandoned facilities, which will be given away for nickels on the dollar. Umerov is hoping to earn over $400 million by selling an elite set of companies ranging from a fertilizer producer to utilities, smelters and an insulin maker. Ammonia maker Odessky Pryportovy Zavod, titanium producer United Mining, Zaporozhye Titanium-Magnesium Plant, insulin manufacturer Indar, and power generator Centrenergo PJSC will be among the first to be sold at knock down prices and up to $200 million of state-owned land is ear-marked to follow shortly afterwards. Because Russian speakers have no rights in Ukraine, the Demurinsky Mining and Processing Plant, which develops reserves of titanium-zirconium sands and which is owned by Russian tycoon Mikhail Shelkov, is also scheduled to be sold. Rusal’s Nikolaev alumina refinery is also scheduled for “privatisation”, as is the confiscated property of Russians Vladimir Yevtushenkov and Oleg Deripaska.

The Chinese system, with its supposed Muslim, Tibetan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Hello Kitty issues, operates a trifle differently from Zelensky’s Ukrainian gangsters and there is no real point in getting our Chinese-made knickers in a twist about any of it. All of NATO’s faux Chinese concerns are blowbacks from the growth of China‘s economy and the end of the easy money that flowed from America’s property and dot.com bubbles. Because Easy Street is over, the Yanks must now re-discover The Zen of Working Hard even though, like their European vassals, they are no longer up to the task. The Chinese, like the Japanese workers of Toyota or the Koreans of Kia Motor Works, just plod on and on, accumulating wealth, Iranian honey and other delights for their children and, given her demographics, her children’s children. And good on them.

This is not to say that every Chinese, Japanese or Korean citizen has been a winner but their systems have been designed to give the greatest possible opportunities they can to the greatest number of their citizens. Though the Chinese love gambling, they have not followed Uncle Sam’s casino capitalism model but, like the post-War Japanese, they have instead worked hard and likewise pulled themselves up by the bootstraps.

And, just as Japan was once the major player in long-term sovereign debt, so now has that poisoned chalice passed to Beijing. If Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Zambia and Grenada wish to escape from the debt burdens Uncle Sam has saddled them with, they must look to Beijing. And while China has played hard-ball, they have been nowhere nearly as harsh as Elliott Investment Management and other American critics of China that picked Africa cleaner than might a flock of ravenous vultures.

But what of China, with its sweet tooth for Iranian honey, its Scottish cough mixtures and its Hello Kitty regalia? The Chinese government is tasked with allowing its citizens enjoy such fruits of their labour, whilst maintaining its armed forces to defend its citizens and instituting a system that allows China earn the wherewithal to pay for all such frivolities. Given China accounts for a fifth of the world’s population, that is a huge task, human resource and financial management on truly Biblical scales the world has never previously witnessed.

And, as with Japan during its golden years debt, albeit with Chinese characters, is an integral part of that process. Though personal, institutional and government debt in China are all huge, should we really be as concerned as our narcissistic Anglo-Saxon overlords are about it?

I think not. Debt, the Anglo-Saxon economists tell us, offers us more choice, the ability, for example, to get a mortgage loan on a house, rather than forever renting or living in a roadside wigwam. Debt, lots of it, allows Americans to send their kids to College which, depending on what they study, may or may not be a good investment. Of course, it also allows the Yanks to buy lots of Chinese goods from Walmart but let’s just take that as a given of Americans’ consumer fixations.

All the more so as China is also buying into the consumer craze. Chinese citizens are even hiring American women to bear their children which the CIA’s Heritage Foundation believe is a national security risk. Although it is fine and dandy for Americans to rent Ukrainian wombs, the burgeoning Chinese-American “rent-a-womb” industry, in which ageing Chinese couples draft fertile American women to give birth to offspring with U.S. citizenship is, they say, not playing to the CIA’s rules based order, whose lack of logic China’s economic ascent has placed under immense strain.

Surrogate babies are just one symptom. America is not only one gigantic debt mountain but its debt markets dwarf its stock markets, which are the world’s biggest. The Japanese (again) long saw this and that there were, for them, easy pickings to be had by lending to American states and cities on the correct presumption that the U.S. government would not allow those states and cities to go bankrupt. The Japanese who, like the Koreans and Chinese, are diligent savers, have been keeping the U.S. economy afloat for decades now with their soft loans which, like all loans, must be paid back eventually.

But what of the Chinese? U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen has acknowledged the threat China poses to U.S. hegemony (the rules’ based order as the Anglo Saxons call it) and the need to contain China by sanctions, by controlling intellectual property rights and by bad-mouthing them in NATO’s media over human rights and the plight of panda bears.

This is, again, a re-run of America’s post oil crisis attack on Japan because Japan has the art of car-making down to a tee. There is simply no way the Americans, the Germans or the Scandinavians can compete with the Japanese auto makers or, indeed, the Chinese, who are not only the new Japanese but who have entire armies of engineers improving the efficiency of cars and everything else they produce.

And that includes Taiwanese microchips, which Uncle Sam clings to as a drowning man might cling to a straw. As no country, from the Sumerians of antiquity to the Anglo-Saxons of our own era, has managed to monopolise a particular technology forever, Taiwanese microchips are, as the late Chairman Mao might have put it, a competitive paper tiger, childish Japanese origami that will vanish with a gust of divine wind.

Uncle Sam thinks differently and has ordered its Taiwanese and Korean colonies to stop selling semiconductor chips to China. America has also demanded that German companies Merck, and BASF, which supply Asian chip-makers with critical chemicals for production, follow the example of the Dutch who, on the Yanks’ orders, have severely restricted exports of their semi-conductors to the Middle Kingdom.

Though NATO, like Samson of old, hopes these export restrictions will cripple China’s ability to develop advanced technologies, as well as its capability to produce semiconductors, the tide of modern history, where competitive advantages cannot be held for long, suggest this pathetic boycotting will fail. Despite China being Berlin’s most important trading partner for the seventh year in a row now, because Germany remains a grovelling slave to America, we can assume the Pentagon will get their way here and further damage Germany (and the Netherlands). Talk about global supply chain hara kiri by those emasculated oafs!

NATO should, of course, have let China’s semiconductor industry sleep. Beijing has launched a national security review into Micron Dram, one of three dominant players in the global memory chip market alongside South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix. As with Louis Vuitton, so also is it with Dram, where mainland China and Hong Kong generates 25 per cent of its $31bn annual revenue. If Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol accedes to Uncle Sam’s request to ban the sale of their microchips to China, then he is even more stupid than any Irish sniveller who boycotts Irish whiskey on the word of the obese Ukrainian grifter, who has the gig of loud-mouthed Ambassador to Vichy Ireland.

Although the Pentagon believes that their competitive edge in microchips will stave off the Chinese dragon, that is not where the true fight is. The fact of the matter is the United States and its puppet allies long ago exported the whole logistics chain to China and thereby made China the world’s logistical hub, its Middle Kingdom if you will. Not only is that almost impossible to undo but there are over a billion Chinese who have a vested interest in maintaining that emerging status quo that so upsets our Anglo-Saxon friends.

Gold, by way of illustration of that latter point, is the easiest of metals to work with and it is the first metal mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 2:11-12). And, though gold jewellery is almost universally popular, the North Italians are the world’s best at fabricating gold, simply because they have long held the logistical hubs, even from long before Romulus and Remus founded Rome.

Although American puppets like Ursula von der Leyen can threaten hell and damnation on the Chinese economy, German and French automakers are making more coin by producing cars in China than they are in Europe. Why? Because China has the logistical hubs and one part of China is not squabbling with another for the right to produce hub caps, as the various European states do with each other. Europe is an organisational mess and China, as with Japan’s Hello Kitty and auto industries, is not.

And, when we ask whether the Biden family’s control of the semiconductor industry can stop China, we have to conclude that it cannot and, again, Japan shows us why. When the Europeans first reached Japan, they brought muskets with them to The Land of the Rising Sun where such a technology was unknown but where the Europeans were amazed that Japanese steel was far superior to anything they had previously encountered in Borrell’s European garden.

The Japanese, who had never previously clapped eyes on a musket, not only solved the crucial European problem of how to stop rain destroying the gun-powder but, within six months of first clapping eyes on them, were exporting muskets throughout the rest of Eastern Asia. Following the 1904/5 Russo-Japanese war, the Japanese determined that they would have to match the German Leica company in terms of lenses. Not only did the Japanese match them but they far out-paced them in less than half of the time they had allocated to that objective. If the Americans think they can stop the Chinese semiconductor tide, they best import some more Chinese or Japanese brains because it is plain as day they have a critical shortage of grey matter, as well as a profound ignorance on how inter-connected the intermediate industries of China, Korea and Japan are.

The Chinese economy, their national pay packet if you will, continues to increase, by an impressive 4.5% in the first quarter of 2023, as it happens, meaning it is in a better position to pay off or roll over any outstanding debt and, of course, to buy more whiskey, more French perfumes and more Hello Kitty kitsch.

Yankee land, meanwhile, just prints more dollar bills and spends a staggering $500 billion annually servicing their debt, even as they imagine China would not develop a debt market of their own and thereby sink the American smoke and mirrors economy. For the fact of the matter is China’s debt is not a problem and will not be a problem as long as China can manage it. And so far, as with Japan, there is no sign of a major crisis. For the Good Ship China, it seems to be steady as she goes and to hell with Moody’s and the other partisan naysayers.

To illustrate China’s strength, let’s once again turn our eyes towards Japan, whose currency is the yen. Upon hearing that yen meant circle in English, American war lord Douglas MacArthur decreed that there would be 360 yen to the Yankee dollar. It is currently trading at 135 to the dollar, which is well within its recent trading band. The Chinese yuan is at 7 to the dollar and it too is within recent trading bands. China, however, is in a much stronger position than the U.S. or any of its satrapies to push the yuan, and therefore the dollar, any way it pleases. The boot is, in other words, increasingly on the Chinese and not the NATO foot.

Here, in conclusion, is 1900 footage of a French damsel in Saigon throwing Vietnamese children grain, like they were foraging chickens. The Anglo-Saxons should know that those days are, thanks to the armed might of South East Asians and their allies, gone and, thanks to the economic might of those countries, they are not returning. The United States, together with its German, Dutch and other vassals, best acknowledge and live with that fact or be prepared to take a turn at foraging themselves when their own stupidity collapses their own side of the global economic system. As for the Chinese, they are not only fully awake but fully cognisant of the Anglo-Saxons’ wiles in the debt, and semiconductor sectors, as well as in honey, Hello Kitty and all others.

Ukraine trap; EU stuck in old era as Global South crafts multipolarity

May 2 2023

Source: Al Mayadeen English

By Hussein Assaf 

Europe must accept the fact that the world today is no longer the Western playground and that the growing anti-hegemonic sentiment among nations is irreversible.

It’s important to emphasize that Europe was not a victim in the current world order run by Washington, but rather a participant. Its contributions were destructive, filled with colonialism, theft, dismantling, and murder of nations that directly led to corruption, poverty, and injustice worldwide.

Europe’s bloody history

Despite Europe joining the global financial systems established by the US in the 20th century, such as the IMF and World Bank, the continent has used these tools to deepen its colonialism and expansion policies towards countries worldwide. It has even leveraged its position with bodies like the UN and UNSC to exploit weaker states and enforce its hegemonic agendas, including wealth looting and proxy wars against rivals politically and economically. 

However, the rise of the Global South in recent years has allowed its nations to counter the hegemonic exploitation of international bodies by funneling their resources into their economies to advance in the new world order. By engaging with the Western coalition while shielding themselves from their malicious agendas, these nations can benefit in the long run. 

Post-WW2 world order

After World War II, the United States emerged as an unrivaled superpower, untouched by the catastrophic destruction of the war and claiming a barely earned victory. Between 1944 and 1949, milestone events secured the unipolar order under the US and placed the EU under Washington’s direct influence for decades to come.

Bretton Woods in 1944 established the USD as the global reserve and trade currency, while the Marshall Plan in 1945 provided funding to Western European countries that agreed to follow America’s dictates to rehabilitate and rebuild their infrastructure and industrial capabilities (note that the plan’s funds were used to purchase American goods). 

The establishment of the IMF and World Bank enforced the new world monetary and financial system crafted by Washington. The Truman Doctrine finally ensured that Western Europe became a follower of Washington’s foreign policies. 

Establishing NATO, a war coalition under Washington’s direct control, was the highlight of that period. It served the interests of the United States and ensured that Europe did not attempt to create a sovereign military power but rather relied on the US for protection. 

The final blows to Europe’s industrial complex in the 20th century were the Nixon Shock in 1971, where the bloc’s member states found themselves stuck with paper notes whose value was solely determined by Washington, and in 1974 when the United States and Saudi Arabia agreed to peg oil to the USD – establishing the petrodollar. This meant that Europe’s access to the world’s largest energy reserve was now controlled by Washington. 

The petrodollar required Europe to maintain an abundance of USD reserves for oil purchases, resulting in increased investment in American treasury bonds and currency inflow to US markets. Despite partnering with the US in its bloody crusades over the past decades, the EU’s interests were not taken into consideration by Washington. 

The US has used its European allies as tools in the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the destruction of Libya and Syria, and relations with the Arab world (the world’s richest energy region). Although Europe faced similar political and public backlash, it was the US that acquired the real strategic interests. 

Disregarding the changed world we live in, the EU continues to live under a WW2 mentality. 

Despite warnings against militarily provoking Russia, the EU doubled down on the American-NATO illusion that being the strongest military coalition worldwide guarantees inevitable victory, and using force to impose the West’s worldview remains a viable option. 

Self-destructive tendencies

After years of Russia sending signals and after many world vocal warnings, including from prominent Western figures like Kissinger, regarding NATO’s eastward expansion, European member states made the same mistake and adopted Washington’s doctrine on Moscow, leading to a conflict with Russia. Despite the historic failure of this approach, EU leaders repeatedly attempted to humiliate Russia and publicly claimed that the West aimed to bring Moscow to its knees since the beginning of the war in Ukraine until recently. 

The conflict with Russia has deeper repercussions on the EU than just preventing mutually beneficial trade ties that would put both economies on a trajectory of development and growth. The United States aims to fight against the growing Global South, with China at the top, and to cut off any attempts by its European allies to further integrate with Asia’s rising powers.

Following the start of the war in Ukraine, Europe not only faced energy shortages, while US energy companies continued to extract oil from Iraq, Syria, and Libya but also realized how Washington was profiting from the very war they had incited. They were overcharged for LNG at three to four times the price sold within the domestic US market, which itself impacted their major industry’s capabilities to continue production.

On the other hand, the US led an international campaign to force its European allies mainly to adopt a price cap on Russian oil. But despite Washington’s push for this bill, Americans themselves were not affected nor were they directly part of the pressure campaign in Moscow, mainly since they did not rely on Russian oil, and with the petrodollar in place, it did not matter how much the EU paid for oil, as the currency used would go back to US banks. 

Soon, Europe, left alone after countries such as Japan did not abide by the price cap, found that it still had to buy Russian Urals but with additional middlemen fees through countries such as India.

The EU witnessed firsthand the US tearing down their economies, which are under increased levels of deindustrialization, with industry giants moving to the US for lower energy prices and a more business-friendly environment crafted by Washington to lure companies mainly from its European allies.

As a result, Europe found itself seeking energy from African nations that it had previously colonized and destroyed. EU officials scrambled through countries like Algeria and Libya to secure gas and oil. 

As the world order shifts towards a more multipolar one with a center of gravity shifting towards China, Europe has begun to become aware that the US-led model that has dominated the world order for decades has not brought the desired outcome for the bloc. Despite benefiting immorally from genocidal campaigns and being America’s partner in crime, Europe’s gains were short-lived. 

With a history of self-destructive tendencies and after years of psycho-preparation and media propaganda, Europe was politically and economically prepared to repeat its historic mistakes in its approach to Russia and later to China.

The West quickly convinced its public that the rivalry with Russia was ideological and existential, that joining NATO and dropping neutrality (as with Finland and Sweden) was the only secure way to protect against the demons of the East, and that China is at the core of everything against the neoliberal values of the West.

Inevitable Multipolar world order 

During a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations in New York on April 18, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde noted that the world is becoming more multipolar, with a fragmentation of the global economy into competing blocs. 

Lagarde stated that this new “global map” would have “first-order implications,” with the possibility of two blocs emerging, led by China and the US.

On many levels, Lagarde’s statement hits the core of the current world state of affairs.

The US reintroduced the political bloc mentality on a wider scale through the proxy war in Ukraine, pulling all its strings and employing all its accumulated influence to focus its power on obstructing a Eurasian uprising and realigning Europe’s foreign policy towards dismantling connections with China and Russia.

The post-WW2 era, characterized by bloc politics pushed by the US, is no longer feasible in the current period of deep integration, interest overlaps, and political complexity established by globalization, advanced trading networks, financial intertwining, and complementary production needs.

The West’s expansion of NATO forces to Russia’s border, followed by Moscow’s campaign to protect its national security, has put the global change on a pedestal.

The fallout of the Western-Russian war in Ukraine and the historic barrage of sanctions against Moscow has led to the fracturing of the financial system, and exposed the fragility of the West’s proclaimed “rules-based international world order”.

During an event hosted at Renmin University’s Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies last January to discuss the current state of world powers, the editor-in-chief of the Beijing Cultural Review (BCR) said that the fallout of the Western-Russian war in Ukraine led to events that could have never been imagined earlier.

“These [events] include the fracturing of the financial system, the expropriation and seizure of Russian private assets, and the freezing of Russian foreign exchange reserves. These are all abominable and unimaginable forms of confrontation,” Yang Ping said in his speech.

“The world is moving inexorably in the direction of decoupling. The phenomenon of politics affecting the economy and the capitalist political order no longer upholding the capitalist economic order is extremely striking.”

If not for the war in Ukraine, Ping’s statement regarding the world taking shape would have been shunned by Western experts as an illusion or merely a forecast, but now, and thanks to the West’s undivided efforts, the world is moving inexorably towards decoupling, and the phenomenon of politics affecting the economy is becoming strikingly apparent; a world with limited Western hegemony is on track to becoming an irreversible reality.

Europe’s amputated foreign policy

In recent months, top EU leaders including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock have visited China amid rising global tensions.

Their visits aimed to balance relations between the US and China as Washington’s hostility towards Beijing escalated, its sanctions against the Asian giant increased, and its provocative actions in the South China Sea intensified.

Macron’s visit, in particular, was noteworthy, as it seemed to reassure China of Europe’s distinct position from Washington’s policies against Asian giants. Despite announcing that the main reason for his visit was to push Beijing against arming Russia and push Moscow to end the war, behind the scenes, Macron’s visit aimed to assert Europe’s position.

He stated that Europe should not be caught up in a disordering of the world and crises that aren’t ours and that the government must build a “third pole.”

“We must be clear where our views overlap with the US, but whether it’s about Ukraine, relations with China, or sanctions, we have a European strategy,” the French leader said then.

“We don’t want to get into a bloc versus bloc logic.”

At first, many European leaders publicly announced or hinted at their support for Macron’s move, considering it a positive approach to their largest trading partner.

But later, some European leaders expressed their rejection of his statements, the most blatant of which was the finance minister in Scholz’s government, Christian Lindner, who said that Macron’s “Idea of strategic autonomy of the European Union,” is “naïve.” Of course, the statement was not objected to by the German Chancellor, signaling that the minister has also voiced Scholz’s opinion.

Following Lindner’s remarks, and after von der Leyen reaffirmed the bloc’s neutral position on the Taiwan Strait issue provoked by the US during an EU parliamentary hearing on April 18, Manfred Weber, who helms the Parliament’s largest group, the center-right European People’s Party (EPP), accused Macron of “destroying” European unity with his trip to China, and that the French president “weakened the EU” and “made clear the great rift within the European Union in defining a common strategic plan against Beijing.”

To counter Macron’s position that the Taiwan issue is not a European concern, Weber also compared the matter to the war going on in Ukraine from Washington’s perspective.

“We shouldn’t be surprised if Washington starts asking whether Ukraine is a European issue,” Weber said. The question they may ask, he warned: “Why should American taxpayers do so much to defend Ukraine?”

His comments, of course, are nothing but shortsighted and delusional, given that the war in Ukraine was created and pushed forward by the US’ decades-long policies on NATO’s take against Russia.

From an outside observer, the contradicting statements – while also taking into account that the bloc members are dividing roles – can only be described as a political mess, a loss of strategic planning, and entails that the union is currently lacking the tools to form a united framework to establish a basis to approach the Global South as a whole, and especially China.

Is the EU’s policy being molded by an actual comprehensive overview of the world’s geopolitical shifts, or is it being dictated by a handful of US pawns that have served nothing but American hawks since they took office?

Blind Economic outlook as bloc 

The disunity in Europe extends beyond just their political approach to China, as trade policies with their largest business partner also show division. 

In 2020, China and the EU agreed on a trade framework, eliminating Chinese restrictions on European companies and investments in China. However, the deal was put on hold after the bloc sanctioned Beijing for alleged human rights abuses and China responded with sanctions of its own.

Just under two weeks after Macron’s and von der Leyen’s trip to China, the EU leaders said that they consider the deal with China as not applicable anymore, following the events since it was reached in 2020.

“We started negotiations around about 10 years ago and concluded the comprehensive agreement on investment two years ago. A lot has happened since then,” she said, adding that Europe’s “position is that we do have to reassess the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment,” she said earlier in April.

On his part, Macron considered that the agreement today is “less urgent,” and “just not practicable”.

On the other hand, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz lately has been pushing for “reactivating” the agreement and considered it was time to reinstate the deal and put it back on track.

It is understandable that this dynamic is not unusual between world powers, especially at a time when the globe is witnessing historic geopolitical shifts, and it is definitely not unusual considering that the American influence across Europe and its leaders is still very significant, and Washington’s sanctions sword is constantly raised against its allies.

However, the lack of a united foreign policy within the bloc may negatively impact its position in the emerging multipolar world order and lead to the weakening or collapse of the union. Europe’s incomplete and fragile relations with growing global pillars, especially China and the emerging Global South, may also be observed from Beijing’s perspective.

Losing post-WW2 against Global South 

Europe’s lack of clear foreign policy extends beyond its position on China, as it also pertains to the US’s declared soft war on the Asian giant. 

For decades, Brussels relied on the assumption of a long-term realm by Washington as the unipolar power, which led the bloc to neglect sustainable and strong relations with the Global South.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the Global South has made unexpected, unprecedented moves, guided by the goal of forming sovereign policies that are far from Western hegemony led by Washington. They declared historic political shifts, leading to the formation of a new and influential world pillar in the multipolar era.

Protectionist economic policies, accompanied by subsidization, act for vital sectors like electric vehicles and batteries.

More systems (such as BRICS and SCO) and countries are growing monetary bodies and alternative trade frameworks to those dominated and influenced directly by the United States. It has become clear that political global organizations such as the UNSC and the UN, which were long exploited by Washington and its European allies to extend their hegemony and colonialism, are slowly losing more relevance and impact on the global arena.

On April 16, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, in an interview with CNN, said that the United States economic sanctions imposed on Russia and other nations have put the dollar’s hegemony at risk as targeted countries seek out an alternative.

“There is a risk when we use financial sanctions that are linked to the role of the dollar that over time it could undermine the hegemony of the dollar,” she said then.

Financial global institutions and systems such as the IMF, World Bank, and SWIFT, are gradually declining as de-dollarization proceeds and countries are finding alternatives to bypass the West’s complete influence, including mutual lending and local currency trade, sovereign projects, in addition to domestic SWIFT alternatives such as China’s CIPS, Russia’s SFPS, and Iran’s SEPAM, to name some.

The movement today is driven by Beijing along with other powers including Brazil, India,  Russia, Iran, and South Africa, among others.

Despite all signs in previous years of the emergence of the new geopolitical reality, Europe failed to form appropriate policies and outline a vision to engage and adapt to these drastic global shifts, nor did it take advantage of some of the outcomes that fall into its interest, such as de-dollarization and the end of the petrodollar. Instead, Europe insisted on following Washington’s agenda, further sidelining its world influence.

Sidelined 

On March 10, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic relations and reopen missions after seven years of strained ties. 

Talks were brokered in Beijing under the auspices of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Western role, especially that of Washington, in inciting dispute and rift between the two nations was criminal, leading to tens of thousands of deaths, mass destruction, displacement of hundreds of thousands, and feelings of hate among the people of the region.

China managed in just a few months to achieve what the United Nations and other international political bodies failed to do, marking Beijing’s first public political approach to the Middle East. The Beijing-brokered rapprochement between Tehran and Riyadh reveals Europe’s falling influence in the region and the growing tendency of countries to sideline the West in bilateral issues. It also highlights China’s rise as a peace-bringing and key power in the region.

Oppressed nations rejoice 

Europe’s centuries-long history of producing global superpowers makes it a hybrid bloc with a combined cultural, political, social, economic, and institutional maturity that can quickly adapt to world geopolitical shifts and overcome emerging challenges. 

However, it can be argued that the current world challenges are unprecedented, especially with the concept of globalization and the world’s interconnectedness.

Europe today has limited options that require a new approach and view of the world, with a humble and realistic policy that acknowledges the end of its hegemony and the adoption of sovereignty and mutual respect in bilateral relations.

The EU must also accept that the world is no longer a Western playground and that anti-hegemonic sentiment among nations is irreversible in a multipolar world. Regardless of Europe’s decisions, oppressed nations are watching the declining global influence of the colonial bloc with joy.

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Sudan: The new geopolitical battlefield between east and west?

May 02 2023

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Photo Credit: The Cradle
The potential outbreak of a civil war sparked by a factional fight within Sudan’s military government poses a destabilization threat beyond the nation’s borders – into Africa, West Asia, and the emerging multipolar order. This suits the west just fine.

By Matthew Ehret

he story of Sudan is one of contrasts and contradictions. It is a country with tremendous potential and resources, yet it is plagued by poverty, conflict, and exploitation. The forces currently pulling Sudan apart are complex and multifaceted, but one thing is certain: the future of this nation is inextricably linked to the broader geopolitical landscape.

In order to fully comprehend the dynamics of this growing conflict, it is essential to look beyond Sudan’s borders. Attention must be paid to the broader geopolitical chemistry at play in the Horn of Africa, the Persian Gulf, the wider West Asian region, and even Ukraine.

Once the largest African nation with a population of 46 million and the third largest landmass, Sudan underwent a seismic shift in 2011 with a western-championed Balkanization, which divided the country into a “Muslim north” and a “Christian/Animist south.”

Extremes of wealth and poverty  

The country is blessed with one of the most water-rich zones of the earth. The White and Blue Niles combine to form the Nile River, which flows northward into Egypt. Sudan’s water abundance is complemented by fertile soil and immense deposits of gold and oil.

The majority of these resources are located in the south, creating a convenient geological divide that western strategists have exploited for over a century to promote secession.

Despite its abundance of resources, Sudan is also one of the poorest nations in the world. Thirty-five percent of its population lives in extreme poverty, and a staggering 20 million people – or 50 percent of the population – suffer from food insecurity.

Although Sudan achieved political independence in 1956, like many other former colonies, it was never truly economically independent. The British utilized a strategy they had previously employed before leaving India in 1946 – divide and conquer – carving out “northern” and “southern” tribes, which led to civil wars that began months before Sudan’s independence in 1956.

General against General

After achieving independence in 2011, South Sudan was plunged into a brutal civil war that lasted for seven years. In the meantime, the north was hit by two coups; the first in 2019, which ousted President Omar al-Bashir, and the second in 2021, resulting in the current power-sharing military-led transitional government led by the president of the Sovereign Council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and his deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

It is these two former allies-turned-rivals who now find themselves at the center of the conflict pulling Sudan in two opposing directions against the backdrop of the rapidly developing multipolar order.

Following the 2021 coup in Sudan, the two rival generals, Dagalo and Burhan, continued the momentum toward building large-scale projects. China funded a program to rehabilitate 4725 km of defunct colonial-era railways connecting the port of Sudan to Darfur and Chad.

recent report by The Cradle suggests that if peace is maintained in the Horn of Africa and the new Iran-Saudi Arabia entente results in a durable peace process in Yemen, then the revival of the Bridge of the Horn of Africa project, which was last proposed in 2010, could become a reality.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Global South benefits from China-Russia co-op

In the past decade, the strategic partnership between China and Russia has been rapidly gaining favor among countries in the Global South. With the five BRICS member states accounting for over 3.2 billion people and 31.5 percent of global GDP, China and Russia have been providing financial support for major infrastructure, water, and energy projects while also backing the military needs of nations facing destabilization.

This has set the stage for a new era of geo-economics based on mutually beneficial cooperation. The Horn of Africa, which includes North and South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, and Kenya, has been drawn into this positive dynamic of peace and development.

Ethiopia was able to end its 20-year conflict with neighboring Eritrea in 2018 and put down a potential civil war in November 2022. Furthermore, China’s diplomatic efforts facilitated a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, while even Syria has seen a new hope emerge with the Arab League’s consensus that the US-led regime change doctrine against President Bashar al-Assad is over.

Sudan’s multipolar prospects

While the cause of the recent violence in Sudan remains uncertain, there are some things that are known. Prior to the recent outbreak of violence that claimed nearly 500 lives, Sudan was making significant strides toward consolidating its participation in the emerging multipolar alliance.

This included Sudan’s submission of a request to join the BRICS+ alliance along with 19 other nations, including resource-rich African states such as Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. Sudan’s decision to grant Russia full use of the Port of Sudan and engage in large-scale economic development with China, Russia, Egypt, and Kuwait was viewed as a positive development by many but drew threats of “consequences” from the US Ambassador John Godfrey.

In April 2021, agreements were signed to build a 900 km Egypt-Sudan railway connecting Aswan to Sudan’s Wadi Halfa and Khartoum. In June 2022, a Joint Ethiopia-Sudan government commissioned feasibility study was finished outlining a 1522 km standard gauge railway connecting Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa to Khartoum and the Port of Sudan.

In January 2022, China pledged financial and technical support to extend Kenya’s 578 km Mombasa-Nairobi railway to Uganda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Ethiopia, where the Chinese-built Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway was completed in 2017. In this comprehensive project, extensions into Eritrea were included.

Railway lines in the African continent

The revival of the Jonglei Canal

Water and oil are both abundant resources in South Sudan, making the region’s security a top priority for Beijing’s African interests. Despite this abundance, the country’s infrastructure is poor, leaving it with no means to move these resources to market or use them for industrial purposes.

Water is just as geopolitically important as oil, if not more so. Thus, nearly forty years ago, the Jonglei Canal project was launched, which aimed to connect the White and Blue Nile in South Sudan, creating a 360 km canal that would divert water runoff from the Upper White Nile.

The canal would result in 25 million cubic meters of water per day being directed north into Egypt, while 17,000 square kilometers of swamp land would be transformed into agricultural land. The project would make the desert land bloom in Egypt and northern Sudan, turning the Sahel into the breadbasket of Africa. However, the project was stopped after 250 km had been dug by a German-made Bucketwheel 2300-ton, laser-guided digging machine.

The secessionist southern Sudanese Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA), led by western-educated John Garang De Mabior, launched a civil war in 1983 and kidnapped the machine’s operators, effectively halting the project. Notably, De Mabior’s 1981 doctoral dissertation in the US focused on the environmental damage that the Jonglei Canal would cause if not managed correctly.

Muddying the waters

Despite former President Omar al-Bashir’s attempts to restart this project since 1989 – until the 2011 partition of Sudan – constant destabilizations never permitted this project’s revival.

Things began turning around when, on February 28, 2022, South Sudan’s Vice President for Infrastructure, General Taban Deng Gai, called for the resumption of the Jonglei Canal, saying:

“We, the people in Bentiu and Fangak, have no place to stay. We may migrate to Eastern Nuer [eastern bank of the White Nile] because we have lost our land to flooding … People are asking who opened this huge volume of water because we never experienced this for decades. Of course, Uganda and Kenya opened the water, because Kampala was almost submerged because of the rising level of water from Lake Victoria. The digging of the Jonglei Canal that was stopped needs to be revised … For our land not to be submerged by flood, let’s allow this water to flow to those who need it in Egypt.”

General Taban referenced a UN Report detailing the 380,000 civilians displaced due to recent Sudd Wetland flooding and stated: “The solution lies in opening the waterways and resuming the drilling of the Jonglei Canal, based on the conditions and interest of South Sudan in the first place.”

General Taban had worked closely with South Sudan’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Manawa Gatkouth, who had been the first to revive this project since the 2011 partition, submitting a proposal to the South Sudan Transitional Council in December 2021.

This proposal grew directly out of agreements to build cooperative water projects that Gatkouth reached with the Egyptian government in September 2020.

At the time, the Egyptian minister of water resources stated that “Egypt would increase the number of development projects for collecting and storing rainwater, with the aim of serving the South Sudanese people.”

Boots on the ground: The west returns

Expectedly, the Sudanese crisis has drawn attention due to the involvement of Anglo-American military forces. On 23 April, US President Joe Biden announced a War Powers Resolution to deploy troops in Sudan, Djibouti, and Ethiopia.

Where all other nations quickly moved to remove their citizens and diplomatic staff out of harm’s way, 16,000 US civilians have been left without support, providing a convenient excuse to insert US military forces into the picture to “restore order.”

US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland’s surprise appearance in the region on 9 March is also worth noting. One of the key architects of Ukraine’s transformation into a confrontational state against Russia, Nuland bragged during her visit that she discussed a “democratic transition in Sudan,” along with her humanitarian concerns for Somalia and Ethiopia.

Sudan, incidentally, is dependent on wheat imports, 85 percent of which originate from Ukraine and Russia.

To date, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funds over 300 separate civil society organizations in Africa, and at least 13 in Sudan – all of which use the tried and tested tactic of weaponizing pro-west local liberals to destroy their own nations under the cover of “democracy building,” human rights, and “anti-corruption” actions.

Conversely, the Global South increasingly views the rising multipolar powers China, Russia, and their growing coterie of allies, as advancing a non-hypocritical approach to supporting vital infrastructure projects and genuine national interests.

These new actors on the international stage prioritize the completion of large-scale water, food, energy, and transportation networks, which not only benefit all the involved parties, but also positively impact regions beyond national borders.

These transformative projects, such as Beijing’s ambitious, multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), promote unity and progress by overcoming the tribalism, bigotry, poverty, and scarcity that the west has historically relied on to sow conflict. By increasing education levels and providing quality jobs across tribal and national boundaries, economic development ignites dignity and innovation that poses a threat to oligarchs with imperialistic tendencies.

While the causes of the Sudan crisis are not fully understood, it is clear that there are powerful forces at work seeking to shape the outcome for their own benefit. However, the answer to Sudan’s problems lies in a different approach – one that prioritizes infrastructure development and nation-building rather than narrow geopolitical interests and regime change.

What China Is Really Playing at in Ukraine

April 30, 2023

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By Pepe Escobar

Beijing is fully aware the NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine is the un-dissociable double of the U.S. war against its Belt and Road Initiative.

Imagine President Xi Jinping mustering undiluted Taoist patience to suffer through a phone call with that warmongering actor in a sweaty T-shirt in Kiev while attempting to teach him a few facts of life – complete with the promise of sending a high-level Chinese delegation to Ukraine to discuss “peace”.https://strategic-culture.org/news/2023/04/28/us-proxy-war-against-russia-china-is-increasingly-seen-globally-as-disaster-made-by-american-and-nato-lies/

There’s way more than meets the discerning eye obscured by this spun-to-death diplomatic “victory” – at least from the point of view of NATOstan.https://strategic-culture.org/news/2023/04/28/us-proxy-war-against-russia-china-is-increasingly-seen-globally-as-disaster-made-by-american-and-nato-lies/

The question is inevitable: what’s the point of this phone call? Very simple: just business.

The Beijing leadership is fully aware the NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine is the un-dissociable double of an American direct war against the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Until recently, and since 2019, Beijing was the top trade partner for Kiev (14.4% of imports, 15.3% of exports). China essentially exported machinery, equipment, cars and chemical products, importing food products, metals and also some machinery.

Very few in the West know that Ukraine joined BRI way back in 2014, and a BRI trade and investment center was operating in Kiev since 2018. BRI projects include a 2017 drive to build the fourth line of the Kiev metro system as well as 4G installed by Huawei. Everything is stalled since 2022.

Noble Agri, a subsidiary of COFCO (China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation), invested in a sunflower seed processing complex in Mariupol and the recently built Mykolaiv grain port terminal. The next step will necessarily feature cooperation between Donbass authorities and the Chinese when it comes to rebuilding their assets that may have been damaged during the war.

Beijing also tried to become heavily involved in the Ukraine defense sector and even buy Motor Sich; that was blocked by Kiev.

Watch that neon

So what we have in Ukraine, from the Chinese point of view, is a trade/investment cocktail of BRI, railways, military supplies, 4G and construction jobs. And then, the key vector: neon.

Roughly half of neon used in the production of semiconductors was supplied, until recently, by two Ukrainian companies; Ingas in Mariupol, and Cryoin, in Odessa. There’s no business going on since the start of the Special Military Operation (SMO). That directly affects the Chinese production of semiconductors. Bets can be made that the Hegemon is not exactly losing sleep over this predicament.

Ukraine does represent value for China as a BRI crossroads. The war is interrupting not only business but, in the bigger picture, one of the trade and connectivity corridors linking Western China to Eastern Europe. BRI conditions all key decisions in Beijing – as it is the overarching concept of Chinese foreign policy way into mid-century.

And that explains Xi’s phone call, debunking any NATOstan nonsense on China finally paying attention to the warmongering actor.

As relevant as BRI is the overarching bilateral relationship dictating Beijing’s geopolitics: the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership.

So let’s transition to the meeting of Defense Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) earlier this week in Delhi.

The key meeting in India was between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Chinese colleague Li Shangfu. Li was recently in Moscow, and was received by Putin in person for a special conversation. This time he invited Shoigu to visit Beijing, and that was promptly accepted.

Needless to add that every single player in the SCO and beyond, including nations that are for the moment just observers or dialogue partners as well as others itching to become full members, such as Saudi Arabia, paid very close attention to the Shoigu-Shangfu camaraderie.

When it comes to the profoundly strategic Central Asian “stans”, that represents the six feet under treatment for the Hegemon wishful thinking of using them in a Divide and Rule scheme pitting Russia against China.

Shoigu-Shangfu also sent a subtle message to SCO members India and Pakistan – stop bickering and in the case of Delhi, hedging your bets – and to full member (in 2023) Iran and near future member Saudi Arabia: here’s where’s it at, this the table that matters.

All of the above also points to the increasing interconnection between BRI and SCO, both under Russia-China leadership.

BRICS is essentially an economic club – complete with its own bank, the NDB – and focused on trade. It’s mostly about soft power. The SCO is focused on security. It’s about hard power. Together, these are the two key organizations that will be paving the multilateral way.

As for what will be left of Ukraine, it is already being bought by Western mega-players such as BlackRock, Cargill and Monsanto. Yet Beijing certainly does not count on being left high and dry. Stranger things have happened than a future rump Ukraine positioned as a functioning trade and connectivity BRI partner.

حوار بين الرياض وحزب الله عبر طرف ثالث؟

 السبت 29 نيسان 2023

نقولا ناصيف

غير المُقال في زيارة وزير الخارجية الإيراني حسين أمير عبد اللهيان أهمّ مما قيل. المُقال المعتاد، منه خصوصاً في أكثر من زيارة، دعم حكومته لبنان والجيش والمقاومة، واستعدادها تقديم مساعدات في قطاعات حيوية شتّى، وحضّه اللبنانيين على الاتفاق

(هيثم الموسوي)

غير المُقال في زيارة الوزير الإيراني أكثر أهمية تبعاً لتقاطع معلومات لدى أكثر من عاصمة، منها بيروت. غير المُقال هذا لم يُثَر في اللقاءات الرسمية، بل في الاجتماع الذي أُعلِن أن حسين أمير عبد اللهيان عقده أول من أمس مع الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله. فحوى الاهتمام بتوقيت الزيارة، المعلومات التي وصلت الى مسؤولين رسميين لبنانيين من عاصمة أوروبية، نقلاً عن «مسؤول سعودي»، بأن المملكة فتحت حواراً مع مَن عادتهم، بدءاً بإيران مروراً بسوريا ونظام الرئيس بشار الأسد و«قريباً» مع حزب الله.

معلومات غير رسمية في بيروت مُكمّلة لتلك، تحدثت متكتّمة عن التفاصيل عن أن «خط الحوار فُتح أو أوشك من خلال طرف ثالث». حصول هذا الحوار يعيد التذكير بالتواصل الأول واليتيم بين الطرفين، في لحظة إقليمية استثنائية، عندما استقبل الملك عبد الله في 4 كانون الثاني 2007 نائب الأمين العام الشيخ نعيم قاسم ونائب الحزب محمد فنيش خلال زيارتهما المملكة. بعد ذاك انقطع التواصل ودخلا في حرب إعلامية طويلة الأمد، بلغت ذروتها بعد تدخّل حزب الله في الحرب السورية.

سواء نجح المسعى أو أخفق، إلا أنه يعكس المرحلة الجديدة التي تعيد فيها الرياض ترتيب علاقاتها الإقليمية على طريق تأكيد زعامتها العربية، غير المسبوقة بزخم كهذا وحجم التحدّيات والمواجهات المعلنة وغير المعلنة التي تقودها، بدءاً من اليمن وصولاً الى لبنان ذهاباً الى الأميركيين، سوى خلال ولاية الملك فيصل بين عامَي 1963 و1975. أعلاها نبرة وثمناً باهظاً استخدامه سلاح النفط إبان الحرب العربية – الإسرائيلية عام 1973.

مع أن الزائر الإيراني لم يشأ الخوض في انتخابات الرئاسة اللبنانية مع مستقبليه، بمَن فيهم مَن فاتحوه فيها وطلبوا مساعدة حكومته، إلا أنه أعاد تأكيد أنها لا تتدخّل في الشؤون اللبنانية. الشقّ الآخر الذي لم يُفصح عنه علناً غير أنه سُمِع مراراً وتكراراً في طهران كما في دمشق، وهو أن كلتا العاصمتين المعنيتين بطريقة أو أخرى بالشأن اللبناني أكدتا أكثر من مرة أن ملف لبنان – بما فيه استحقاقه الرئاسي – بين يدَي حزب الله وأمينه العام بالذات كمرجعية وحيدة. لم تكن قد مرت أيام على سماع النائب السابق سليمان فرنجية، مرشح الثنائي الشيعي، الكلام نفسه من الأسد حاضّاً إياه على التنسيق مع نصر الله. في ما مضى، سمع العبارة نفسها رئيس حكومة تصريف الأعمال نجيب ميقاتي في 21 أيلول المنصرم لدى لقائه في نيويورك، على هامش اجتماعات الجمعية العمومية للأمم المتحدة، الرئيس الإيراني إبراهيم رئيسي، مطالباً إياه بالمساعدة على إنجاز الاستحقاق الوشيك آنذاك. مع أن ولاية الرئيس ميشال عون لم تكن قد انتهت ولا وقع الشغور، إلا أن رئيسي أخطر ميقاتي أن حكومته لا تتدخل في الشأن اللبناني.

تلك إشارة ضمنية تدلّ على المكان الصائب في حسبان الإيرانيين للتفاوض معه في انتخاب الرئيس، وهو حزب الله.

في ايران كما في سوريا موقف مشترك معمّم: راجعوا حزب الله


على أن الإشارات الإيجابية الدائرة في المنطقة لا تشي بالضرورة أن لبنان على طاولة التفاوض، أو في أحسن الأحوال يُنظر الى ملفّه على قدم المساواة مع الملفات الرئيسية المفتوحة مذ أعلن اتفاق بكين بين السعودية وإيران، كاليمن وسوريا قبل انفجار السودان كأول تعبير سلبي يجبه التحولات الأخيرة ويعيد السخونة الى المنطقة برمتها.
بذلك مأزق الرئاسة مستمر الى أمد غير معروف لأسباب شتى:

أولا- رغم رسائل التطمين التي أرسلها فرنجية هذا الأسبوع الى المملكة ومناهضيه المسيحيين، محتمياً بقوة صلبة تقف الى جانبه هي الثنائي الشيعي، إلا أن القوة المقابلة له ليست أقل صلابة، سواء في عدم اتخاذ الرياض موقفاً إيجابياً من انتخابه، فيما الفرنسيون يتخبّطون بين الأوهام والأحلام. ليست الكتل المسيحية المناوئة لانتخاب فرنجية أقل تأثيراً من الثنائي في منع انتخابه. لا تراجع لكتلتَي النائب جبران باسيل وسمير جعجع عن رفض القبول بفرنجية. بينما قطع الأول المسافة الصعبة في الخلاف وربما القطيعة مع حزب الله في الإصرار على هذا الرفض، لا يجد الثاني صعوبة في الذهاب الى أكثر من تباين في الرأي مع المملكة إذا بَانَ أنها قد تحطّ في نهاية المطاف عند الزعيم الزغرتاوي.

الى الآن على الأقل، ليست متأهّبة لقلب موازين القوى في الداخل رأساً على عقب، ولا تبدو أنها تميل الى خيار كهذا في الظاهر. أن لا تقول الرياض إنها ضد فرنجية لا يفضي الى استنتاج صائب سليم أنها معه أو ستصبح معه قريباً.

ثانيا – لم تُضف تطمينات فرنجية الى الوقائع الحالية ما يعزّز حظوظه، المتقدمة في أي حال سواه دونما تمكينه من الوصول الى المنصب. لا يملك أقوى المرشحين من خلال الثنائي الشيعي وحلفائه الأكثرية المطلقة ولا الثلثين لفرض الانتخاب، ولا يملك كذلك خصومه أيّاً منهما. للرياض نصف المقاعد السنّية وهو سبب كافٍ كي لا تكون عاملاً مقرراً لانعقاد جلسة الانتخاب بالثلثين. أضعف الأفرقاء المهتمّين بالاستحقاق باريس. لا تملك مقعداً واحداً في البرلمان، ولا مَلَكَة المَوْنة على كتلة ما. مع أنها توحي بالظهور أنها قائدة حملة إخراج لبنان من شغوره، بيد أنها الطرف الأعزل العالق في غابة وحوش. وحده انضمام الأميركيين الى المعادلة الداخلية، بتفاهم أو غض طرف مع الثنائي الشيعي، يأتي بـ 86 نائباً على الأقل الى القاعة.

ثالثا – إذا صحّ أن السعودية وإيران تتعاملان مع ملفات المنطقة، كل على حدة، منفصل بعضها عن بعض، إلا أن الإشكالية اللبنانية الحالية بشقّيْها السياسي والطائفي تحتّم مقاربة ما بدأ في اليمن، مع ما يفترض أن يجري في لبنان: ما لم يسَع إيران أن تفعله وهو أن لا تعطي السعودية اليمن بلا الحوثيين، لا تملك أن تأخذ في لبنان في معزل عن المسيحيين. ليست المعادلة هذه إلا تأكيداً على الاعتراف المتبادل بالأحجام الواقعية الملزمة: أن يكون الحوثيون معترفاً بهم ومفاوِضين ومفاوَضين مع المملكة على أنهم شركاء في بناء نظام جديد للبلاد تلك، وأن يكون المسيحيون اللبنانيون هم الشركاء الفعليين في النظام اللبناني، وخصوصاً موقعهم ودورهم وخياراتهم في رئاسة الدولة.
لأن استقرار اليمن يتطلب شراكة حقيقية للحوثيين، المسار نفسه لاستقرار لبنان بالاعتراف بشراكة حقيقية للمسيحيين فيه.

التيار الوطني الحر والمقاربة الرئاسية

السبت 29 نيسان 2023

ناصر قنديل

بمعزل عن لغة التخاطب السلبي بين التيار الوطني الحر وتيار المردة على خلفية الموقف من ترشيح الوزير السابق سليمان فرنجية لرئاسة الجمهورية، وما قاله كل من فرنجية ورئيس التيار النائب جبران باسيل في هذا الإطار، الأكيد أن التيار يعارض انتخاب فرنجية وقد عبر عن هذا الموقف بقوة، وصولاً الى وضع علاقته وتفاهمه مع حزب الله على المحك على خلفية هذا الموقف، وهو لا يزال عند موقفه المعارض والرافض، وهذا حقه الطبيعي الدستوري والسياسي والنيابي. وبالمقابل يعرف التيار أن حليفه السابق الأقرب الذي يمثله حزب الله ماضٍ بدعم ترشيح فرنجية، ومعه حليفه الثابت حركة أمل ورئيسها رئيس المجلس النيابي نبيه بري، ومن حولهما نواب يزيدون عن العشرين نائباً، من مؤيدي ترشيح فرنجية أو من حلفاء ثنائي حزب الله وحركة أمل ومن طوائف مختلفة، والأكيد أن رفض التيار للسير بانتخاب فرنجية يمثل عقبة رئيسية في طريق وصوله أو قدرته على الحكم بالحد الأدنى، كما قال فرنجية نفسه، في إشارته الى ان تأمين الـ 65 صوتاً يبدو ممكناً لكن المسألة ليست في الانتخاب فقط بل بالقدرة على الحكم، خصوصاً أن أي تفكير بتفكيك الجبهة المسيحية المناوئة لانتخاب فرنجية يشير بوضوح الى أن التيار هو الجهة المطلوب أو المرغوب انضمامها لانتخاب فرنجية كي يستقيم الوضع مسيحياً.

البلد والتيار في منتصف الطريق نحو حقائق تتبلور بقوة أكثر يوماً بعد يوم، أولها وأهمها أن الاستقطاب الدولي والإقليمي الذي حكم المنطقة خلال عهد الرئيس ميشال عون وأدى الى تعطيل الكثير من فرص نجاحه وكان أحد الأسباب في فرض مسارات مالية لعبت دوراً في الانهيار، ومحوره الصراع المفتوح بين السعودية وإيران، لم يعد قائماً، وشيئاً فشيئاً وبسرعة يحل مكانه تقارب وتنسيق، ينطلق من أن المقاربة السعودية نحو إيران تأتي من خارج المظلة الأميركية التقليدية التي رافقت كل خطوات السياسة الخارجية السعودية تاريخياً، وأن وجود الصين كشريك ثالث في الاتفاق ليس شأناً بسيطاً. وها هي حرب اليمن توضع على سكة الحلحلة، والعلاقة السعودية السورية تسارع الخطى الإيجابية، والسعودية تبادر لإنهاء الأزمة مع حركة حماس، ما يجعل الخصومة السعودية مع حزب الله التي دفع التيار بعض أثمانها في طريق الزوال، وثاني هذه الحقائق أن المداخلة الدولية رئاسياً تبدو محصورة بفرنسا في ظل حذر أميركي من التصادم مع السعودية من جهة، ومن جهة مقابلة اهتمام فرنسي استثنائي لأسباب كثيرة بتحقيق إنجاز في السياسة الخارجية بحجم ما تتيحه الفرصة الرئاسية في لبنان، وضمان مصالح اقتصادية ليس أقلها قطاع النفط والغاز لشركة توتال، والمقاربة الفرنسية تبدو على خط تعزيز فرص انتخاب فرنجية بوضوح، كما لا يغيب عن التيار.

تبنّى التيار ورئيسه منذ إعلان رفضه لفرنجية وابتعاده عن الشراكة مع حزب الله في الملف الرئاسي، بالتزامن مع انسحاب الحزب التقدمي الاشتراكي من خيار ترشيح النائب ميشال معوض، إطلاق مسعى إنتاج معادلة لا فرنجية ولا معوض، نعم لمرشح ثالث، وفيما تبنى الاشتراكي ترشيح قائد الجيش العماد جوزف عون خياراً بديلاً أولاً رفضه التيار، لم يكن خافياً على التيار أن الاشتراكي كان يسعى مع القوات اللبنانية لصياغة مشتركة تحاكي ما قيل إنه تبنّ سعودي يدعم ترشيح قائد الجيش، وقد تكفل رئيس المجلس النيابي نبيه بري بتعطيل هذه الفرضية من موقع تبنيه لترشيح فرنجية وتحالفه مع حزب الله، مزيلاً عن كاهل التيار عبئاً ثقيلاً، عبر رفض ترشيح قائد الجيش دون تعديل الدستور الذي يبدو مستحيلاً. ومع نهاية هذه الفرضية انتقل الاشتراكي وسائر النواب المستقلين من حلفاء السعودية الى مرحلة جديدة عنوانها انتظار الموقف السعودي، الذي يبدو محسوماً أنه لن يصل الى دعم ترشيح فرنجية، على الأقل علناً، لكنه سيفتح الطريق لفرصة انتخابه عبر القول إن الأولوية هي لانتخاب الرئيس، وإن التوافق اللبناني هو الذي ينتج الرئيس الجديد، ولذلك لم ينجح مسعى البحث عن توافق كتلة وازنة على مرشح ثالث، يؤيده كل من التيار والاشتراكي والمستقلين، وكل يوم يبدو أن مثل هذه الفرضية تزداد ضعفاً وتراجعاً.

الخيارات تبدو بين فرضية اكتمال عقد الـ 65 صوتاً لصالح فرنجية وتوافر نصاب كاف لانتخابه، أو حدوث استعصاء في الغالبية اللازمة أو في النصاب المطلوب، فيستمر الفراغ إلى أجل طويل، وما يعلمه التيار ورئيسه هو أن التيار بعد التباعد الرئاسي مع حزب الله، لا يملك موازين القوى اللازمة التي تتيح له تحقيق ما لم يستطع تحقيقه في عهد الرئيس ميشال عون، أي تسمية الرئيس وضمان التوافق السياسيّ على خطة عمل يتبناها ائتلاف نيابي كافٍ لتسمية رئيس حكومة وتمثيل أغلبية حكومية ونيابية، لم تتحقق في عهد الرئيس عون، ويفترض أن التيار يدرك أن مفهوم الرئيس القوي المستند الى شخصية الرئيس عون وتاريخيته وحجم تمثيل التيار الأكبر نيابياً والتحالف مع حزب الله يومها، الأقوى من اليوم، بما له وما عليه، لم تكن عناصر كافية لضمان نجاح العهد بسبب غياب هذا الائتلاف الذي يشكل غالبية نيابية وحكومية، والملتزم بسلة متكاملة، كانت ما طلبه الرئيس بري للسير بانتخاب العماد ميشال عون ورفضها التيار يومها بداعي أن الرئيس هو السلة بذاته مرة، وأن طلب السلة غير دستوري مرة أخرى، وهو يعلم اليوم أن السلة، التي يسمّيها التيار بالمشروع هي المطلوب، لكن من الائتلاف النيابي الداعم للمرشح الرئاسي، وليس من المرشح الرئاسي.

جرّب التيار الرئيس بدون الائتلاف النيابي، وليس بمقدوره تأمين الرئيس والائتلاف معاً، فماذا سيختار الآن، الائتلاف النيابي الذي يلتزم السلة، أو ما يسمّيه رئيس التيار بالخيار الثاني القائم على أولوية التفاهم على المشروع بمعزل عن اسم الرئيس، الذي يشكل أولوية عند حزب الله من منطلق مفهوم الأمن القومي، فيقع تجديد التفاهم بينهما على هذه القاعدة، أم يختار التيار القفز الى خياره الثالث بترشيح رئيسه لتسجيل موقف يعرف أنه لن يغيّر المعادلة، أم يختار ترجيح كفة البقاء في الفراغ؟
السياسة ذكاء التوقيت، وامتلاك حكمة معرفة كيفية الاختيار بين خسارتين وربحين، وشجاعة الإقدام على الاختيار، ربح الرئيس والمشروع معاً ربحان غير متاحين، وخسارة الرئيس والمشروع خسارتان متاحتان، وربح الرئيس بلا المشروع افتراضي وغير متاح، وعندما تحقق بأفضل وجوهه مع الرئيس عون بدا أنه غير كافٍ، لكن ربح المشروع اليوم وقبول خسارة الرئيس فرضيّة واردة وأمر متاح، والسؤال دائماً أين يكمن ربح البلد ومدى أهمية أن يكون للتيار بصمة في صناعة هذا الربح. وفي السياسة عندما تجعلك الظروف والموازين موضع طلب، عليك أن تعرف أي العروض تطلب؟

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Clown Prince Zelensky’s Charge of the Light-Headed Brigade into Crimea

April 29, 2023

Declan Hayes

As long as Anglo-American war profiteers continue to enjoy their safe havens in Western Europe and the U.S., we will never see an end to their crimes.

Ukrainian coke-head Clown Prince Zelensky imagines his lemmings are re-fighting the 1853-1856 Crimean war, where Sir Colin Campbell’s 93rd Highlanders famously gave us the “thin red line” (nice painting, Robert Gibb) of gallant Scots slaughtering the Orthodox Christian hordes, where Lord Raglan’s Light Brigade famously charged the wrong Russian guns (nice poem, Lord Tennyson) and where Florence Nightingale (Fleet Street’s Lady with the Lamp) made a name for herself comforting the dying Tommies the Famine Queen doomed to death in Crimea.

Though Crimea is no stranger to bloodshed, all battles fought there seem to have been akin to those of Stalingrad on a bad day. When the Reds overran Crimea’s Whites in the Russian Civil War, they had a five to one advantage and they attacked from over the shallow marshes dividing Crimea from the rest of Russia, an option Zelensky’s lemmings do not have.

When Hitler’s Army Group South captured Crimea, they had the help of the Italian navy and Dora, the giant Schwerer Gustav railway gun. Although the Crimean peninsula witnessed some of the heaviest fighting of the entire Eastern Front during the eight months it took the Soviets to boot out Hitler’s Army Group South, that ferocious fighting and huge loss of life should still be a factor for Zelensky’s doomed Army Group South to ponder, even though they march not to Hitler’s drum, but to that of Zelensky’s own candy man.

Although this excellent article summarises that and other Crimean battles, its main contribution is it tells us that this pending Crimean battle is, like all Crimean battles before it, not about the integrity of Zelensky’s artificial Ukrainian rump Reich but about controlling the Crimean peninsula so as to control the Black Sea and entry to the Bosporus Straits.

When looked at through that more sober strategic vista, Zelensky is just a coked-up NATO bit player. Whether it is plagiarising Churchill or King Henry V for the British Parliament, or aping Stalin’s Order 227 ordering his rump Reich’s lemmings to fight to the last man, Zelensky’s role is to parrot the lines his candy men give him and nothing more. Though this former porno actor is not a serious player, his collaboration with the Banderites has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of Russians and Ukrainians and, for that, he and his wife should pay, just as Mussolini and his mistress paid. That said, they are but well-paid bit players in this Russo-Ukrainian tragedy and are of no major strategic consequence.

In the unlikely event Zelensky’s Army Group South were to capture Sevastopol, then Russia’s Black Sea fleet would be permanently neutralised and the Russian Navy would effectively only be left with Vladivostok, Murmansk and the Baltic. As NATO’s Army Group North is upping the ante to a nuclear showdown around the Kola peninsula and, as Army Group Centre, spear-headed by Warsaw’s day dreamers, wants to restore the former glories of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Eastern Europe, Murmansk and the Baltic included, are in for a very bumpy ride.

And all for what? Certainly not for Ukraine, whose people are already sick of their coke-addled puppet President. The goal is to box Russia in from Crimea in the South up to Kola in the Arctic and to thereby reduce Russia to a giant quarry for Uncle Sam and his fellow-pirates to pillage.

It would be a simple, daring and, perhaps, even perfect plan if it did not have one central flaw. Russians have proved themselves, time and again, masters at defensive warfare and nowhere more so than in Crimea, which is the penultimate goal of Army Group South.

Should Zelensky’s lemmings move on Crimea, Russian naval and land artillery will turn the Perekop Isthmus into a lake of Ukrainian blood, an unrelenting fire-zone where everything that moves dies. Ukrainian troops attacking over the Syvash during low tide will find themselves isolated when the tide comes back in with the non-stop incoming Russian artillery and rocket fire they’ll have to contend with making Lord Raglan’s Light Brigade Charge look like a master class in military genius.

As an amphibious or airborne assault are both logistically impossible without major NATO input along the lines of D Day, the Perekop Isthmus and the Syvash are Crimea’s only two vulnerable points, if indeed they are really vulnerable.

Though NATO’s goal is to control the Black Sea, just as its previous goals included taking control of the Yalu River, the Ho Chi Minh trail and Helmand Province, the really tangible goal is again just to milk the Western tax-payer by gathering funding, material & manpower to slaughter Russian children, Korean children, Vietnamese children, Afghan children or whomever else it is who happens to be in the way of these serial mass murderers.

Though Zelensky and his wife have serious fraud and other cases to answer for, neither they nor the putative leaders of Army Group South are the main culprits in all of this. That honour belongs to Joe Biden, the Big Guy and the arms and Big Pharma companies he and his whole stinking family are in hock to. Consider this recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI), showing that Europe’s military expenditure saw its sharpest year-on-year increase in at least 30 years and that total global military expenditure has reached a new, unprecedented height of $2.24 trillion, with the Yanks taking up the lion’s share of that colossal amount. What this means in plain English is that not only Zelensky but Crooked Joe Biden and the other gangsters of the British and American regimes are coining it, just as they did in all their other previous money-making wars.

Whether we are talking about Crimea, Murmansk, the Black Sea or the Straits of Taiwan, NATO’s goal remains the same one of controlling the world’s choke points and sea lanes to extract rents that are not their due.

Although the High Commands of Russia, China and NATO are undoubtedly aware of all this, the real question is what can be done about it. As the war mongering Economist magazine has kindly informed us that Russia exchanged 60 Su-35 aircraft with Iran for several thousand kamikaze drones, the Iranians are certainly making their own considerable contribution to bringing peace to Europe.

But what of China, The Economist and ourselves? Could China not sail a peace-seeking flotilla of its modern war ships into the Black Sea on the same pretext that little Germany uses to send its spy ships to the Chinese coast because Josep Borell (a Barcelona waiter who plays a double act with Forest Gump doppelganger Ursula von der Leyen), asked them to? And what of The Economist and NATO’s other media outlets, who continue to cleanse themselves of all dissenting voices? NATO’s recent media scalps have included Tucker Carlson, today’s right-wing equivalent of Phil Donahue, whom NATO filleted for opposing their Iraqi genocide. And, though they are big fish, the little fish have not been forgotten either. The CIA have arrested members of obscure African-American groups for being Putin agents (Assad apologists are last year’s fashion) and the Germans have, as previously discussed, put a bounty out on citizen journalist Alina Lipp and her family. Stopping Russian journalists accompanying Lavrov to the United Nations is, of course, par for the course as all one can expect from these CIA pigs is an ignorant grunt.

Although Army Group South has not got a hope in hell of over-running Crimea, it will, together with Army Group North and Army Group Centre, achieve a number of key NATO objectives. They will keep Russia under pressure, they will further emasculate Central and Western Europe, they will make a ton of money for Joe Mr Big Guy Biden and his ilk and Hollywood and the media will have a great and lucrative time spinning all of this and promising more of the same star-spangled hypocrisy to their tens of millions of gullible customers.

Perhaps things were much the same when the Tauri, the Scythians, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Byzantines all, so long ago, jostled over this part of Russia. Who, bar the ancient historians, is to know? And who is to care as a gang of American draft dodgers are set to bring more misery on Europe not only through this revamped Army Group South, but through Army Group North and Army Group Centre as well.? Although the hope of the civilised world has to be that the forces of Belarus and Russia will prevail, as long as these Anglo-American war profiteers continue to enjoy their safe havens in Western Europe and the United States, we will never see an end to their crimes, not in Crimea, not in the Black Sea nor anywhere else under our common canopy.

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The U.S. Proxy War Against Russia & China Is Increasingly Seen Globally As A Disaster Made By American And NATO Lies

April 28, 2023

Source

The proxy war in Ukraine is an imperialist adventure that has been financially ruinous, has destroyed Ukraine, and is driving a dangerous all-out war with Russia and China that could turn into a nuclear armageddon.

It has become patently obvious to the world that the conflict in Ukraine is a dirty and desperate geopolitical confrontation, despite massive Western media efforts to portray it as something else more noble – the usual charade of chivalry and virtue to disguise naked Western imperialism.

The death and destruction in Ukraine is nothing but a proxy war by the United States and its NATO partners to defeat Russia in a strategic gambit. But the unspoken objective does not end with Russia. The U.S. and its Western imperialist lackeys are driven to push for confrontation with China too.

As if taking on Russia is not reckless enough! The Western powers want to double down on their warmongering with China. This is all because the underlying impetus is for Washington and its Western minions to promote U.S.-led dominance of the global order. Russia and China are the main obstacles to that path of would-be dominance, and hence we see this manic drive for aggression stemming from Washington, the executive power of the Western order.

It should be obvious that while the U.S.-led NATO axis has stoked the war in Ukraine to calamitous heights, this same axis is wantonly inciting tensions with China. This observation alone should be enough to condemn the criminality of Western powers.

This week saw the NATO powers deliver depleted uranium weapons to the Kiev regime, while the United States announced that it would be docking submarine nuclear warheads in South Korea, a move that infuriated China which pointed out that Washington was violating decades-old commitments to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Of course, such perverse provocation is par for the course as far as Washington is concerned. It is done deliberately in a conscious effort to exacerbate tensions and escalate militarism. Peace and security are anathemas to the U.S. (and its minions) whose whole ideological raison d’être is to aggravate war to gratify corporate capitalist addiction – a system that is increasingly bankrupt and dysfunctional, and hence the insane desperation for craving “war-fixes”.

In a scathing speech to the United Nations Security Council this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov asserted that the conflict in Ukraine cannot be properly resolved without an understanding of the geopolitical context. In other words, the war in the former Soviet republic which erupted last February has bigger causes than what the Western powers and their compliant news media would try to pretend otherwise.

Defense of Ukraine? Defense of democracy? Defense of international law? Defense of national sovereignty? These are some of the laughable claims made by Washington and its allies. One only has to consider the decades of total trashing of the UN Charter and democratic principles by the United States and its rogue partners in their pursuit of criminal wars to realize that their virtue-signaling over Ukraine is a vile joke.

Lavrov’s address to the Security Council was a stunning rebuke of the hypocrisy and criminality of the United States, Britain, France, Germany and other NATO powers, as well as the European Union. His speech was akin to the scene in the classic old movie The Wizard of Oz when the curtain was pulled back on the buffoonish villain for all to see. Any objective observer would agree with the Russian foreign minister’s excoriating survey of modern history and why the war in Ukraine has tragically manifested. Lamentably, if we fail to understand history and the real causes of conflicts, then we are condemned to repeat the horrors.

Ironically, Western leaders have at times revealed the bigger geopolitical agenda with their own misspoken arrogant words. U.S. President Joe Biden had previously blurted out a call for regime change in Moscow while his senior aides, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin, have succumbed to the intoxication of their narcissism and hubris by saying that the purpose of the war in Ukraine is the “defeat of Russia”.

Other NATO senior figures, such as the stupid, conceited Polish leaders and their Baltic buddies, have also come out and stated that the war’s ulterior agenda is to vanquish Russia. The fascist skeletons of their Nazi-collusion past have resurrected their deathly rattles, uncontrollably.

As Lavrov’s address to the Security Council intimates, the systematic violation of the UN Charter by the United States and its Western partners is a deplorable continuation of the Nazi fascism and imperialist barbarism that was supposed to have been defeated in World War Two. The culmination of the constant, unbridled Western imperialist criminality and its state terrorism is the current war in Ukraine and the growing aggression toward China over Taiwan as a pretext.

In all of this, woefully, the Western public has been flagrantly lied to by their governments and media as to the real nature of the war in Ukraine. American and European citizens have been bilked for hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up a Nazi regime in Kiev whose function is to act as a NATO spear-tip against Russia, and ultimately China when the NATO powers feel they are done with Ukraine. (The latter is a futile ambition, as is becoming increasingly evident.)

Journalists and antiwar activists in the West who highlight the malfeasance over Ukraine are either sacked, vilified, censored, or sanctioned into poverty, or even imprisoned.

Nevertheless, the Western public and the rest of the world are increasingly becoming aware of the odious charade. By definition, charades are inevitably untenable.

The Global South – the majority of the 193 nations at the UN – has had it with Western capitalist hegemony and its outrageous neocolonialist privileges. The incremental dumping of the U.S. dollar as an international reserve currency for trade is a testament to the historic shift towards a multipolar order in defiance of Western unipolar elitism. The nations of Africa, Latin America and Asia understand that the U.S.-led NATO war in Ukraine is a desperate last-ditch bid to preserve an imperialist global order which should have been eradicated after World War Two with the establishment of the United Nations, but which, regrettably, was not. Because the root cause of imperialism is the AngloAmerican-led Western capitalist order. The end of World War Two, as with World War One, was but a pause in the historical killing machine.

It is now increasingly evident in the light of leaked documents from the Pentagon that the war in Ukraine is a disaster. The Kiev regime is facing defeat at the hands of superior Russian forces even though that regime has been flooded with weapons by the United States and NATO. Great expectations of a Ukrainian victory that were widely predicted by Western leaders and media have been shown to be empty, contemptible lies.

The side-show of this war is a gargantuan racket. Western arms companies have raked in unprecedented profits, while the NATO-backed cabal in Kiev has skimmed off hundreds of millions of dollars. This is the same Kiev regime that is burning down Orthodox Christian churches, exterminating the Russian language, lionizing World War Two Nazi criminals, and locking up any critical opposition and media.

But the main takeaway is the lies that the United States and Western lackeys, including the entire media industry, have been telling about the proxy war in Ukraine. This war is an imperialist adventure that has been financially ruinous, has destroyed Ukraine, and is driving a dangerous all-out war with Russia and China that could turn into a nuclear armageddon.

We should not be surprised by such blatant lying and deception. President Joe Biden and his administration have been telling barefaced lies to conceal the corruption oozing out of Biden’s own family. Biden and his son Hunter have exploited Ukraine since the CIA-backed coup in Kiev in 2014 for personal enrichment. The president has even reportedly got his senior aides to do his bidding to censor intelligence agencies and media from revealing to the public the corruption at the heart of his family. (Risibly, the truth is smeared as Russian or Chinese disinformation!)

The lies that Biden and his administration tell about personal corruption are indelibly coupled with the lies told about the proxy war in Ukraine.

It is increasingly clear that the American public, the European public, and the rest of the world have been duped in multiple ways. The phony war in Ukraine is exposing the deep, stinking well of corruption in this White House. There will be hell to pay.

التغيير الدولي وانتصار الجغرافيا على “نهاية التاريخ”

 الخميس 27 نيسان 2023

ناصر قنديل

لن نستطيع استيعاب حجم الانعكاسات المتسارعة لنهاية الهيمنة الأميركية على منطقتنا، ولا تفسير أشكال التموضع المتسارع في صفوف اللاعبين الفاعلين في المنطقة، إذا بقينا عند حدود ترسمها ضفاف السياسة والمصالح المباشرة والحروب، وقد كانت جميعها انعكاساً لتحولات أعمق جعلت ظهور هذه الانعكاسات حتمياً؛ فموقع السعودية في قطاع الطاقة وما يمليه من مصالح حيوية مع كل من روسيا والصين، والفشل الأميركي في أفغانستان وصولاً للاعتراف بالفشل وقرار الانسحاب، وحروب المقاومة وصمود قواها وحكوماتها في سورية وإيران، والصعود الروسي والنهوض الصيني، كلها عناصر حقيقيّة وصحيحة لعبت دوراً في التظهير السياسي للتحوّلات الجارية منذ انهيار وتفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي وتقدّم أميركا كقوة عالميّة وحيدة مهيمنة، تخوض الحرب دون خصم يواجهها، وتفرض العقوبات دون قانون دولي يمنعها، حتى بدأ الخط البياني الأميركي من تراجع الى تراجع، ومن أزمة الى أزمة، فما هي التحوّلات العميقة التي نتحدّث عنها؟

خاضت واشنطن معركة السيطرة على العالم تحت عنوان تحويل العولمة، بما هي تعبير عن ثورة تكنولوجية أضعفت أهميّة المسافات الفاصلة في الجغرافيا إلى مصدر لإلغاء الجغرافيا، بما تختزنه من خصوصيّات ومقدرات تميز الشعوب والأمم والدول، وكانت العالمية هي النسخة السياسية للعولمة، بمعنى الحكومة العالمية، التي لا تعترف بالجغرافيا، والفرد المعولم الذي يجري إلغاء خصوصياته الثقافية والدينية والتاريخية والقومية ليصير فرداً من أتباع الحكومة العالمية يشترك في السباق على الرفاه، بدلاً من التمسك بالجذور، لكن العولمة بما هي ثورة تكنولوجية منحت المنصات والقدرات والفرص للسباق بين مفهومي الفرد المنتمي لخصوصية ثقافية وجذور دينية وقومية، والحكومة العالمية، فكانت العولمة التكنولوجية التي اختصرت مسافات الجغرافيا سبباً رئيسياً للتحول الذي رد الاعتبار للجغرافيا بصفتها الحامل للخصوصيات الثقافية الدينية والقومية، ولم ينتبه الأميركيون إلى أن التحوّل الذي ركبوا على موجته في تفكيك الاتحاد السوفياتي، هو التمسك بالخصوصية الثقافية والقومية والدينية، التي كانت مقموعة في زمن عولمة من نوع آخر مثلها الاتحاد السوفياتي، وتجاهل الأميركيون القاعدة البسيطة التي تقول إن الباب الذي تدخل منه لا يمكنك منع الآخرين من الدخول عبره. وها هو الغرب كله في حرب أوكرانيا يخوض الحرب بوجه روسيا تحت عناوين سبق أن أعلن موتها، عندما قال إن زمن السيادة والوطنية قد انتهى في ظل العولمة وما نتج عن العالمية.

بمثل ما أصبح الفرد هو الوحدة التي تقوم عليها عولمة التكنولوجيا، حيث الاتصال بالتكنولوجيا فردي ولا يعبر من بوابة دولة أو قومية أو دين، عادت للفرد أهميته في مواجهة الآلة، حيث صار هو العمود الفقري للحروب، فعادت الجغرافيا تقاتل نهاية التاريخ، فالتاريخ من صناعة الجغرافيا المتعددة المتعاونة والمتحاربة، وظهر من رحم الخصوصية الثقافية والدينية والقومية، الفرد المقاتل بالروح مقابل الفرد المعولم المنتمي لظلال الحكومة العالمية المستند الى تفوق الآلة، وسقطت نظرية حرب أكلاف صفر، ومثلها نظرية لا حروب في البر بعد الآن والحرب تحسم من الجو، التي تحدث عنها دونالد رامسفيلد في حرب العراق، وجاءت حرب تموز 2006 تعبيراً عن أول مواجهة مكتملة بين النموذجين، وكان انتصار المقاومة في هذه الحرب إعلاناً كاملاً لفشل جيوش الأفراد المعولمين في مواجهة جيوش أفراد الخصوصية الثقافية والدينية والقومية، وتكرّر الأمر في غزة وكانت أفغانستان المحطة الفاصلة.

تغير مع عودة الجغرافيا والخصوصيات الثقافية والدينية والقومية، وعودة الفرد وعودة الروح، ما أكمل المشهد الجديد، حيث ظهرت الدولة الوطنية قادرة على الصمود والمقاومة بوجه حروب أميركية شديدة الضراوة وكانت ذروتها في الحرب على سورية، حيث وقفت الدولة الوطنية السورية بخلفيتها القومية، والدولة الوطنية الإيرانية بخلفيتها الإسلامية، تعبران عن الخصوصيتين الكبيرتين في المنطقة، العروبة والإسلام، وكان حزب الله كتعبير مزدوج عن هاتين الخصوصيتين القيمة المضافة في حسم وجهة الحرب التي أعادت تثبيت مكانة الدولة الوطنية في وجه الحكومة العالمية، وتلاقت مع هذه المعادلة والدولة الوطنية الروسية بخلفيتها القيصرية والأرثوذكسية، ثم تواصل التغيير في حرب اليمن حيث ظهرت التكنولوجيا الحربية الجديدة التي استثمرت على العولمة بصفتها ثورة تكنولوجية، قادرة على إسقاط قانون الحرب القديم، وتمكّنت الطائرات المسيّرة والصواريخ المجنحة الصغيرة والدقيقة، من هزيمة حاملات الطائرات العملاقة، وهذه التكنولوجيا الجديدة قابلة للإخفاء والتمويه وبلوغ الأهداف بسرعة ودقة ولا يمكن وقفها، وها هي حرب أوكرانيا تقول الكلمة الفصل لجهة تفوق هذه التكنولوجيا وتموضعها مكان تكنولوجيا حروب الدبابات والطائرات التي حكمت الحربين العالميتين الأولى والثانية. ومن أبرز ما تغير أيضاً هو التغيير الذي أدخله الاقتصاد على مفهوم الدولة المهمة اقتصادياً، بعدما تمّ ربطه لعقود بحجم أرقام الناتج المحلي الذي لا يمكن منافسته لدى دول الاقتصاد الافتراضي، لتظهر العقوبات على روسيا أن الدول التي لا يمكن الاستغناء عنها ليست بالضرورة الدول التي تملك أعلى ناتج إجمالي، فمن يملك موقعاً لا يعوض في توفير موارد الطاقة لا يمكن الاستغناء عنه مهما كان حجم ناتجه الإجمالي، وهذا صحيح في حال روسيا وصحيح أيضاً في حال السعودية.

أظهرت الجغرافيا عودة التاريخ، ووضعت قوانين جديدة لمساره، وفي زمن العولمة بما هي ثورة تكنولوجية تم ردّ الاعتبار لقيمة عدد السكان، المستهلكين والمتصلين، وصار للدول مكانة اقتصادية وسياسية ترتبط بعناصر يقع عدد السكان في موقع هام منها، لا تمحوه العوامل الأخرى من القوة والغنى، وصار النفوذ السياسي والاقتصادي والعسكري للدول يرتبط طردياً بهذا العامل، وحيث على الدول التي تملك نفوذاً فائضاً أن تعيد التأقلم مع نفوذ يناسب حجمها السكاني ومحيطها الجغرافي، برزت فرص لنفوذ قابل للنمو للدول التي لا تملك ما يتناسب من نفوذ مع حجمها السكاني ومحيطها الجغرافي، عندما تمتلك قوة اقتصادية وعسكرية كافية لحماية هذا النفوذ. وهذا ما رسم نهاية حرب أفغانستان كنفوذ فائض يجب التخلي عنه، ويرسم مستقبل حرب أوكرانيا كنفوذ حيوي مشروع وممكن لروسيا، ويرسم مكانة الاتفاق السعودي الإيراني الصيني في معادلات النفوذ الإقليمي في المنطقة.

العلم يتغيّر بسرعة تحت تأثير قوانين غير قابلة للإلغاء والتطويع، حتى ينمو نفوذ الدول الصاعدة الى حدود الإشباع التي تحدّدها مصادر قوتها السكانية والاقتصادية والعسكرية، ويتراجع نفوذ الدول المهيمنة الى عتبة الإشباع التي تمّ تخطيها كثيراً، لأن العولمة متعددة والعالمية أحادية، وعلى العالمية أن تخضع لقوانين العولمة، بعد التمرّد الفاشل الذي أعلن نهاية التاريخ.

مقالات ذات صلة

The historic US-Saudi relationship cannot bounce back

April 25 2023

US imports of Saudi oil are at historic lows, Chinese purchases of Saudi oil continue to grow, and Russian-Saudi energy interests have fully converged. If it’s ‘all about the economy,’ then Saudi-US ties may never quite recover.

Source

By Mohammad Hasan Sweidan

“Our allies in the Gulf no longer honor the deal that was made decades ago even though we still have a big physical military presence in the Gulf, bigger than ever before, and we keep giving Gulf nations a pass on human rights violations. Too often our Middle East allies act in conflict with our security interests.”

– Chairman of the Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism of Committee on Foreign Relations in the US Senate, Senator Chris Murphy, July 2022.

The war in Ukraine and the intensification of Great Power competition have cast a shadow over global markets and prompted some surprising changes in the foreign policies of states. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is among those countries, and its relationship with the US is currently passing through a very critical period. Today, Riyadh seeks a more conditional relationship with Washington, one that takes into account converging Saudi interests with non-western states.

There are many reasons why the kingdom is adopting a more pragmatic foreign policy. One of the key factors is energy relations, particularly as Riyadh seeks to preserve and grow its mutual interests with other major powers, such as China and Russia.

The birth of the petrodollar

The “Nixon Shock” in 1971 marked a shift in economic policy for the US, which sought to prioritize its own economic growth and stability over that of other states. This led to the end of the Bretton Woods Agreement and the convertibility of US dollars into gold. Washington moved instead to establish a new system in which the US dollar was pegged to a commodity with global demand in order to maintain its position as the world’s dominant reserve currency.

In 1974, the petrodollar agreement was struck, in which Saudi Arabia agreed to sell oil exclusively in US dollars in exchange for US military, security, and economic development assistance. The deal effectively tied the value of the US dollar to global demand for oil and ensured its continued dominance as the world’s primary reserve currency.

US dependence on Saudi oil

After the petrodollar agreement, Saudi oil exports to the US surged, making Saudi Arabia’s security all the more critical for Washington. By 1991, the US imported 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of Saudi oil, a sharp increase from 438,000 bpd in 1974.

This represented 29.5 percent of the total US oil imports in 1991, and 26.4 percent of the total Saudi oil exports – further emphasizing for Washington the importance of maintaining Saudi Arabia’s security and stability. But the staggering dependence on foreign – and Saudi – oil imports also created political blowback in the US, which launched plans to reduce its imports and ramp up domestic oil production.

This was motivated by several factors, including the potential negative impact of any energy market shocks – such as the decline in Iranian oil exports after the 1979 Islamic Revolution – on the US economy, the potential impact of geopolitical disputes on West Asian oil exports, and technological advances that facilitated increased oil production in the US.

Over the following decades, Washington was able to successfully reduce its oil imports from Saudi Arabia: In 2020, the US only imported 356,000 bpd of Saudi oil, which accounted for just 6 percent of all US oil imports and 4.8 percent of all Saudi oil exports.

Changing oil market dynamics

In this process, Saudi Arabia lost much of its value as a market for the Americans, and the US is no longer dependent on Saudi Arabia as a significant oil source. Furthermore, the US’ significant increase in shale oil production created a major new competitor in the energy market, which raised concerns in Riyadh about its declining influence as a strategic supplier of oil to the world.

To diversify its oil export options, Saudi Arabia began turning eastward to China, the world’s largest oil importer. Over the past two decades, Saudi Arabia has gradually become China’s primary source of oil, with Chinese oil imports from Saudi Arabia increasing by 16.3 percent between 1994 and 2005, reaching 1.75 million bpd in 2022.

Changing oil market dynamics

In this process, Saudi Arabia lost much of its value as a market for the Americans, and the US is no longer dependent on Saudi Arabia as a significant oil source. Furthermore, the US’ significant increase in shale oil production created a major new competitor in the energy market, which raised concerns in Riyadh about its declining influence as a strategic supplier of oil to the world.

To diversify its oil export options, Saudi Arabia began turning eastward to China, the world’s largest oil importer. Over the past two decades, Saudi Arabia has gradually become China’s primary source of oil, with Chinese oil imports from Saudi Arabia increasing by 16.3 percent between 1994 and 2005, reaching 1.75 million bpd in 2022.

Strengthening economic and diplomatic relations with Beijing has become a necessity for Riyadh, which derives 70 percent of its export revenues from oil. The same applies to China, a global power that actively seeks to diversify its oil sources to prevent reliance on a single country.

In recent years, Russia has also emerged as an essential oil industry partner for the Saudis. The creation of OPEC+ was a response to falling crude oil prices caused partly by the substantial increase in US shale oil production since 2011.

Russia and Saudi Arabia are the world’s top oil exporters, and their cooperation has proven vital for controlling prices by coordinating the quantities of oil pumped into the markets. This led to the 2016 expansion of OPEC – which is controlled by Saudi Arabia – and the establishment of OPEC+ to include Russia.

OPEC+ cooperation after price war

After the negative consequences of the 2020 price war among key oil producers, both Riyadh and Moscow recognized the importance of cooperation to safeguard their energy interests.

In March of that year, OPEC+ had convened in Vienna to address the decline in oil demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the meeting, Saudi Arabia, the organization’s largest producer, proposed reducing production to stabilize prices at a reasonable, higher level, while Russia, the largest non-OPEC producer in OPEC +, opposed the cuts and moved to increase its oil production.

In response to Moscow’s move, the Saudis increased their own production and announced unexpected cuts in oil prices ranging from $6 and $8 per barrel for importers in Europe, Asia, and the US. This announcement triggered a sharp drop in oil prices, with Brent crude plummeting by 30 percent – marking the biggest decline since the 1991 Gulf War – while the WTI benchmark fell by 20 percent.

On 9 March, global stock markets experienced significant losses, and the Russian ruble declined by 7 percent against the US dollar, reaching its lowest level in four years.

The oil price war lasted for approximately a month before OPEC+ members reached a new agreement in April that included historic oil production cuts of 10 million bpd. This experience marked the beginning of uninterrupted energy cooperation between Moscow and Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia: prioritizing its interests

Since the outbreak of the Ukraine war in February 2022, the US has pressured its allies to comply with western sanctions against Russia. Washington has sought to persuade OPEC leader Riyadh to increase oil production to curb the price hike caused by the conflict, but so far, the Saudis have refused these demands.

This has led to heightened US-Saudi tensions, which prompted US President Joe Biden’s unsuccessful visit to Jeddah in July 2022 to try to convince Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) to raise oil production levels.

Furthermore, western attempts to establish a price ceiling on Russian oil served only to alarm Saudi Arabia, as it would open the door for customers to impose oil prices on sellers. Despite aggressive attempts to undermine Russia’s energy sector, the US-European western alliance has been unable to do so, and in fact, led to an increase in Russian energy exports to Europe, China, and India last year.

A number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, have helped buoy Russian energy exports by purchasing Russian oil and re-exporting it to needy European markets – or using it locally to boost their export revenues. As Russia is the second-largest exporter of oil worldwide, its isolation from the markets would otherwise have significant repercussions, especially for oil-exporting states.

The war in Ukraine demonstrated that Riyadh is prepared to confront Washington when it feels its energy interests are under threat. Today, the US is no longer an energy partner for Saudi Arabia, but rather a competitor. In its stead, Beijing and Moscow have risen to become essential partners for Riyadh, and the mutual energy interests are a major factor behind MbS’ efforts to diversify his country’s foreign policy options.

The US and Saudi Arabia: No longer energy allies

Since the Cold War era began, oil has been a key pillar of the Russian (and former Soviet) economy. It has long been a US priority to be able to influence prices as a pressure tool against Moscow. Since Saudi Arabia is considered an oil superpower, Washington’s cooperation with Riyadh – despite its own dramatically reduced Saudi oil imports – is at the heart of US economic strategies to counter Russia.

For example, in the mid-eighties, during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the US asked the Saudis to flood oil markets in order to lower prices and undermine the oil revenue-reliant USSR. In 1986, oil prices dropped by two-thirds, from $30 per barrel to nearly $10 per barrel, ultimately crippling the Soviet economy and its geopolitical reach.

But attitudes have sharply altered during the intervening 37 years. Saudi Arabia now views the US as an energy market competitor due to Washington’s increased shale oil production and disinterest in boosting oil imports.

Between 2010 and 2021, US shale oil production grew from approximately 0.59 million bpd to 9.06 million bpd. Riyadh’s response to this new geo-economic development was to raise oil production in 2016, with the aim of lowering prices to undercut the US shale industry, which operates at significantly higher costs.

The Saudis indeed fear a declining role as a strategic supplier of global oil, in large part due to expanded US shale production and energy self-sufficiency. This has driven the Saudis to try and reimpose their oil superiority by lowering prices to undercut competitors with higher production costs – despite the short-term domestic damage caused by increased Saudi oil production.

To this day, Saudi Arabia continues to present an obstacle to US energy interests, and has instead found most common ground with Washington’s main adversaries – Russia, China, Iran – with whom Riyadh’s energy interests intersect.

Contrary to expectations since the outbreak of the Ukraine war in February 2022, all US efforts to persuade Riyadh to flood global oil markets have failed, and the Russians have managed to maintain both their exports and their economy. It has become manifestly clear to Washington’s decision-makers that Saudi Arabia today is not the Saudi Arabia of 1985, willing to undermine its own revenues and energy interests in order to serve a US geopolitical agenda.

Discussions in Washington today have likewise turned to the feasibility of maintaining the US commitment to Saudi Arabia’s security, particularly since Riyadh neither provides Americans with energy nor follows its political diktats.

Some believe that the US’ role of acting as a security guarantor in the Persian Gulf merely serves Beijing’s interests by securing China’s main energy sources. Yet others argue that a US military withdrawal from the Persian Gulf will create a vacuum filled by Beijing, which will keenly seek to ensure its own energy security.

The one point of clarity, however, is that US-Saudi energy interests are no longer synergistic and that Riyadh’s interests line up far more closely with those of Beijing and Moscow. This remains a key factor driving Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy and economic diversification today.

What remains to be seen is how far the Saudis – deeply and historically bound to western interests – will be willing to challenge the US’ regional hegemony as their goals diverge and Riyadh finds common cause with Washington’s rivals.

The historic US-Saudi relationship cannot bounce back

April 25 2023

US imports of Saudi oil are at historic lows, Chinese purchases of Saudi oil continue to grow, and Russian-Saudi energy interests have fully converged. If it’s ‘all about the economy,’ then Saudi-US ties may never quite recover.

https://media.thecradle.co/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/KSA-China-Russia-US-dollar-oil-2.jpg
Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Mohamad Hasan Sweidan

“Our allies in the Gulf no longer honor the deal that was made decades ago even though we still have a big physical military presence in the Gulf, bigger than ever before, and we keep giving Gulf nations a pass on human rights violations. Too often our Middle East allies act in conflict with our security interests.”

– Chairman of the Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism of Committee on Foreign Relations in the US Senate, Senator Chris Murphy, July 2022.

The war in Ukraine and the intensification of Great Power competition have cast a shadow over global markets and prompted some surprising changes in the foreign policies of states. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is among those countries, and its relationship with the US is currently passing through a very critical period. Today, Riyadh seeks a more conditional relationship with Washington, one that takes into account converging Saudi interests with non-western states.

There are many reasons why the kingdom is adopting a more pragmatic foreign policy. One of the key factors is energy relations, particularly as Riyadh seeks to preserve and grow its mutual interests with other major powers, such as China and Russia.

The birth of the petrodollar

The “Nixon Shock” in 1971 marked a shift in economic policy for the US, which sought to prioritize its own economic growth and stability over that of other states. This led to the end of the Bretton Woods Agreement and the convertibility of US dollars into gold. Washington moved instead to establish a new system in which the US dollar was pegged to a commodity with global demand in order to maintain its position as the world’s dominant reserve currency.

In 1974, the petrodollar agreement was struck, in which Saudi Arabia agreed to sell oil exclusively in US dollars in exchange for US military, security, and economic development assistance. The deal effectively tied the value of the US dollar to global demand for oil and ensured its continued dominance as the world’s primary reserve currency.

US dependence on Saudi oil

After the petrodollar agreement, Saudi oil exports to the US surged, making Saudi Arabia’s security all the more critical for Washington. By 1991, the US imported 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of Saudi oil, a sharp increase from 438,000 bpd in 1974.

This represented 29.5 percent of the total US oil imports in 1991, and 26.4 percent of the total Saudi oil exports – further emphasizing for Washington the importance of maintaining Saudi Arabia’s security and stability. But the staggering dependence on foreign – and Saudi – oil imports also created political blowback in the US, which launched plans to reduce its imports and ramp up domestic oil production.

This was motivated by several factors, including the potential negative impact of any energy market shocks – such as the decline in Iranian oil exports after the 1979 Islamic Revolution – on the US economy, the potential impact of geopolitical disputes on West Asian oil exports, and technological advances that facilitated increased oil production in the US.

Over the following decades, Washington was able to successfully reduce its oil imports from Saudi Arabia: In 2020, the US only imported 356,000 bpd of Saudi oil, which accounted for just 6 percent of all US oil imports and 4.8 percent of all Saudi oil exports.

Changing oil market dynamics

In this process, Saudi Arabia lost much of its value as a market for the Americans, and the US is no longer dependent on Saudi Arabia as a significant oil source. Furthermore, the US’ significant increase in shale oil production created a major new competitor in the energy market, which raised concerns in Riyadh about its declining influence as a strategic supplier of oil to the world.

To diversify its oil export options, Saudi Arabia began turning eastward to China, the world’s largest oil importer. Over the past two decades, Saudi Arabia has gradually become China’s primary source of oil, with Chinese oil imports from Saudi Arabia increasing by 16.3 percent between 1994 and 2005, reaching 1.75 million bpd in 2022.

Strengthening economic and diplomatic relations with Beijing has become a necessity for Riyadh, which derives 70 percent of its export revenues from oil. The same applies to China, a global power that actively seeks to diversify its oil sources to prevent reliance on a single country.

In recent years, Russia has also emerged as an essential oil industry partner for the Saudis. The creation of OPEC+ was a response to falling crude oil prices caused partly by the substantial increase in US shale oil production since 2011.

Russia and Saudi Arabia are the world’s top oil exporters, and their cooperation has proven vital for controlling prices by coordinating the quantities of oil pumped into the markets. This led to the 2016 expansion of OPEC – which is controlled by Saudi Arabia – and the establishment of OPEC+ to include Russia.

OPEC+ cooperation after price war

After the negative consequences of the 2020 price war among key oil producers, both Riyadh and Moscow recognized the importance of cooperation to safeguard their energy interests.

In March of that year, OPEC+ had convened in Vienna to address the decline in oil demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the meeting, Saudi Arabia, the organization’s largest producer, proposed reducing production to stabilize prices at a reasonable, higher level, while Russia, the largest non-OPEC producer in OPEC +, opposed the cuts and moved to increase its oil production.

In response to Moscow’s move, the Saudis increased their own production and announced unexpected cuts in oil prices ranging from $6 and $8 per barrel for importers in Europe, Asia, and the US. This announcement triggered a sharp drop in oil prices, with Brent crude plummeting by 30 percent – marking the biggest decline since the 1991 Gulf War – while the WTI benchmark fell by 20 percent.

On 9 March, global stock markets experienced significant losses, and the Russian ruble declined by 7 percent against the US dollar, reaching its lowest level in four years.

The oil price war lasted for approximately a month before OPEC+ members reached a new agreement in April that included historic oil production cuts of 10 million bpd. This experience marked the beginning of uninterrupted energy cooperation between Moscow and Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia: prioritizing its interests

Since the outbreak of the Ukraine war in February 2022, the US has pressured its allies to comply with western sanctions against Russia. Washington has sought to persuade OPEC leader Riyadh to increase oil production to curb the price hike caused by the conflict, but so far, the Saudis have refused these demands.

This has led to heightened US-Saudi tensions, which prompted US President Joe Biden’s unsuccessful visit to Jeddah in July 2022 to try to convince Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) to raise oil production levels.

Furthermore, western attempts to establish a price ceiling on Russian oil served only to alarm Saudi Arabia, as it would open the door for customers to impose oil prices on sellers. Despite aggressive attempts to undermine Russia’s energy sector, the US-European western alliance has been unable to do so, and in fact, led to an increase in Russian energy exports to Europe, China, and India last year.

A number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, have helped buoy Russian energy exports by purchasing Russian oil and re-exporting it to needy European markets – or using it locally to boost their export revenues. As Russia is the second-largest exporter of oil worldwide, its isolation from the markets would otherwise have significant repercussions, especially for oil-exporting states.

The war in Ukraine demonstrated that Riyadh is prepared to confront Washington when it feels its energy interests are under threat. Today, the US is no longer an energy partner for Saudi Arabia, but rather a competitor. In its stead, Beijing and Moscow have risen to become essential partners for Riyadh, and the mutual energy interests are a major factor behind MbS’ efforts to diversify his country’s foreign policy options.

The US and Saudi Arabia: No longer energy allies

Since the Cold War era began, oil has been a key pillar of the Russian (and former Soviet) economy. It has long been a US priority to be able to influence prices as a pressure tool against Moscow. Since Saudi Arabia is considered an oil superpower, Washington’s cooperation with Riyadh – despite its own dramatically reduced Saudi oil imports – is at the heart of US economic strategies to counter Russia.

For example, in the mid-eighties, during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the US asked the Saudis to flood oil markets in order to lower prices and undermine the oil revenue-reliant USSR. In 1986, oil prices dropped by two-thirds, from $30 per barrel to nearly $10 per barrel, ultimately crippling the Soviet economy and its geopolitical reach.

But attitudes have sharply altered during the intervening 37 years. Saudi Arabia now views the US as an energy market competitor due to Washington’s increased shale oil production and disinterest in boosting oil imports.

Between 2010 and 2021, US shale oil production grew from approximately 0.59 million bpd to 9.06 million bpd. Riyadh’s response to this new geo-economic development was to raise oil production in 2016, with the aim of lowering prices to undercut the US shale industry, which operates at significantly higher costs.

The Saudis indeed fear a declining role as a strategic supplier of global oil, in large part due to expanded US shale production and energy self-sufficiency. This has driven the Saudis to try and reimpose their oil superiority by lowering prices to undercut competitors with higher production costs – despite the short-term domestic damage caused by increased Saudi oil production.

To this day, Saudi Arabia continues to present an obstacle to US energy interests, and has instead found most common ground with Washington’s main adversaries – Russia, China, Iran – with whom Riyadh’s energy interests intersect.

Contrary to expectations since the outbreak of the Ukraine war in February 2022, all US efforts to persuade Riyadh to flood global oil markets have failed, and the Russians have managed to maintain both their exports and their economy. It has become manifestly clear to Washington’s decision-makers that Saudi Arabia today is not the Saudi Arabia of 1985, willing to undermine its own revenues and energy interests in order to serve a US geopolitical agenda.

Discussions in Washington today have likewise turned to the feasibility of maintaining the US commitment to Saudi Arabia’s security, particularly since Riyadh neither provides Americans with energy nor follows its political diktats.

Some believe that the US’ role of acting as a security guarantor in the Persian Gulf merely serves Beijing’s interests by securing China’s main energy sources. Yet others argue that a US military withdrawal from the Persian Gulf will create a vacuum filled by Beijing, which will keenly seek to ensure its own energy security.

The one point of clarity, however, is that US-Saudi energy interests are no longer synergistic and that Riyadh’s interests line up far more closely with those of Beijing and Moscow. This remains a key factor driving Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy and economic diversification today.

What remains to be seen is how far the Saudis – deeply and historically bound to western interests – will be willing to challenge the US’ regional hegemony as their goals diverge and Riyadh finds common cause with Washington’s rivals.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Author

Mohamad Hasan Sweidan

@mhmdsweidan

Keywords

Chinaenergy sectoroil pricesoil production cutsOPECPersian Gulf securitypetrodollarRussiaSaudi ArabiaUS

The Empire’s Revenge: Set Fire to Southern Eurasia

24.04.2023

Source

By Pepe Escobar

Hegemon hacks are spinning that the North Atlantic has relocated to South China. Goodnight, and good luck.

The collective cognitive dissonance displayed by the pack of hyenas with polished faces driving U.S. foreign policy should never be underestimated.

And yet those Straussian neo-con psychos have been able to pull off a tactical success. Europe is a ship of fools heading for Scylla and Charybdis – with quislings such as France’s Le Petit Roi and Germany’s Liver Sausage Chancellor cooperating in the debacle, complete with the galleries drowning in a maelstrom of  hysterical moralism.

It’s those driving the Hegemon that are destroying Europe. Not Russia.

But then there’s The Big Picture of The New Great Game 2.0.

Two Russian analysts, by different means, have come up with an astonishing, quite complementary, and quite realistic road map.

General Andrei Gurulyov, retired, is now a member of the Duma. He considers that the NATO vs. Russia war on Ukrainian soil will end only by 2030 – when Ukraine would basically have ceased to exist.

His deadline is 2027-2030 – something that no one so far has dared to predict. And “ceasing to exist”, per Gurulyov, means actually disappearing from any map. Implied is the logical conclusion of the Special Military Operation – reiterated over and over again by the Kremlin and the Security Council: the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine; neutral status; no NATO membership; and “indivisibility of security”, equally, for Europe and the post-Soviet space.

So until we have these facts on the ground, Gurulyov is essentially saying that the Kremlin and the Russian General Staff will make no concessions. No Beltway-imposed “frozen conflict” or fake ceasefire, which everyone knows will not be respected, just like the Minsk agreements were never respected.

And yet Moscow, we got a problem. As much as the Kremlin may always insist this is not a war against the Slavic Ukrainian brothers and cousins – which translates into no American-style Shock’n Awe pulverizing everything in sight – Gurulyov’s verdict implies the destruction of the current, cancerous, corrupt Ukrainian state is a must.

comprehensive sitrep of the crucial crossroads, as it stands, correctly argues that if Russia was in Afghanistan for 10 years, and in Chechnya, all periods combined, for another 10 years, the current SMO – otherwise described by some very powerful people in Moscow as an “almost war” – and on top of it against the full force of NATO, could well last another 7 years.

The sitrep also correctly argues that for Russia the kinetic aspect of the “almost war” is not even the most relevant.

In what for all practical purposes is a war to the death against Western neoliberalism, what really matters is a Russian Great Awakening – already in effect: “Russia’s goal is to emerge in 2027-2030 not as a mere ‘victor’ standing over the ruins of some already-forgotten country, but as a state that has re-connected with its historic arc, has found itself, re-established its principles, its courage in defending its vision of the world.”

Yes, this is a civilizational war, as Alexander Dugin has masterfully argued. And this is about a civilizational rebirth. And yet, for the Straussian neo-con psychos, that’s just another racket towards plunging Russia into chaos, installing a puppet and stealing its natural resources.

Fire in the hole

The analysis by Andrei Bezrukov neatly complements Gurulyov’s (here, in Russian). Bezrukov is a former colonel in the SVR (Russian foreign intel) and now a Professor of the Chair of Applied Analysis of International Problems at MGIMO and the chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy think tank.

Bezrukov knows that the Empire will not take the incoming, massive NATO humiliation in Ukraine lying down. And even before the possible 2027-2030 timeline proposed by Gurulyov, he argues, it is bound to set fire to southern Eurasia – from Turkey to China.

President Xi Jinping, in his memorable visit to the Kremlin last month, told President Putin the world is now undergoing changes “not seen in 100 years”.

Bezrukov, appropriately, reminds us of the state of things then: “In the years from 1914 to 1945, the world was in the same intermediate state that it is in now. Those thirty years changed the world completely: from empires and horses to the emergence of two nuclear powers, the UN, and transatlantic flight. We are entering a similar period, which this time will last about twenty years.”

Europe, predictably, will “whither away”, as “it is no longer the absolute center of the universe.” Amidst this redistribution of power, Bezrukov goes back to one of the key points of a seminal analysis developed in the recent past by Andre Gunder Frank: “200-250 years ago, 70 percent of manufacturing was in China and India. We are going back to about there, which will also correspond to population size.”

So it’s no wonder that the fastest-developing region – which Bezrukov characterizes as “southern Eurasia” – may become a “risk zone”, potentially converted by the Hegemon into a massive power keg.

He outlines how southern Eurasia is peppered by conflicting borders – as in Kashmir, Armenia-Azerbaijan, Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan. The Hegemon is bound to invest in a flare-up of military conflicts over disputed borders as well as separatist tendencies (for instance in Balochistan). CIA black ops galore.

Still Russia will be able to get by, according to Bezrukov: “Russia has very big advantages, because we are the biggest producer of food and supplier of energy. And without cheap energy there will be no progress and digitalization. Also, we are the link between East and West, without which the continent cannot live, because the continent has to trade. And if the South burns, the main routes will not be through the oceans in the South, but in the North, mainly overland.”

The biggest challenge for Russia will be to keep internal stability: “All states will divide into two groups at this historic turning point: those that can maintain internal stability and move reasonably, bloodlessly into the next technological cycle – and then those that are unable to do so, that slip off the path, that bloom a bloody internal showdown like we had a hundred years ago. The latter will be set back ten to twenty years, will subsequently lick their wounds and try to catch up with everyone else. So our job is to maintain internal stability.”

And that’s where the Great Awakening hinted at by Gurulyov, or Russia reconnecting with its true civilizational ethos, as Dugin would argue, will play its unifying role.

There’s still a long way to go – and a war against NATO to win. Meanwhile, in other news, Hegemon hacks are spinning that the North Atlantic has relocated to South China. Goodnight, and good luck.

What Is Behind the Saudi Embrace of Iran, Yemen, And Syria, and What Are the Potential Challenges?

April 21, 2023

By Ali Abadi

If things go according to plan, steps aimed at restoring diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia will pave the way for the reopening of diplomatic missions and consular posts in the two countries no later than May 9. This timetable is based on the expectations of Iran’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Alireza Enayati.

A Saudi delegation was in Iran to lay the groundwork for the reopening of the Kingdom’s embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad. Iran is also working to open its embassy in Riyadh and its general consulate in Jeddah ahead of the upcoming Hajj season.

Meanwhile, an atmosphere is being created for the restoration of diplomatic relations between Iran and Bahrain. As for the rest of the Gulf region, Iran maintains diplomatic relations with ambassadors deployed in a number of countries, including Kuwait, the UAE, Oman, and Qatar.

In short, the positive effects of the Saudi-Iranian rapprochement agreement are resonating across the region. The only exception is “Israel”. Tel Aviv is weighing the possible repercussions of this development on its plans to form a regional alliance against Iran under the guise of normalization.

The United States is also alarmed by the diplomatic breakthrough, especially since the agreement was struck outside the American mantle. Instead, it was China that brokered the deal and established itself as a peacemaker and political actor in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia’s motives

In the past few days and not long after the signing of the agreement in Beijing, Saudi Arabia took a number of remarkably accelerated steps.

A Saudi delegation landed in Sana’a to search for a political exit from the war in Yemen, the Syrian Foreign Minister visited Riyadh at the monarchy’s invitation for the first time since 2011 in the framework of discussing Syria’s return to the Arab League, and a delegation from the Hamas visited Saudi Arabia following years of antagonism between the two sides. And while the Hamas visit may have a religious dimension, the political component is highly evident.

The aforementioned developments are coupled with a positive atmosphere created by the Iranian-Saudi agreement in the broader region.

Furthermore, these developments are unfolding without taking Washington into account, which opposes, for example, any Arab reconciliation with Syria and any Chinese involvement in regional affairs that enable Beijing to gain a foothold there.

The background to the new Saudi policy can be explained as follows:

– Saudi Arabia tends to focus on achieving the 2030 economic vision that the Crown Prince dreams of. The economy and attracting foreign investment require stability, and ongoing confrontations in the region do not facilitate this vision.

– Eight years after the start of the war in Yemen, Saudi gains were modest, and perhaps disappointing. This was exacerbated by the rupture of the ranks of its Yemeni allies and disagreements with the UAE, which supports the secession of the south.

– Saudi Arabia is deeply resentful for not being given what it considers American security guarantees that oblige the United States to act in Saudi Arabia’s defense in the event of any security challenge.

The attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil facilities in September 2019 and Washington’s inability to do anything about it fueled Riyadh’s misgivings about American power, especially amid the American pivot to East Asia.

– The strengthening of economic, oil, and other ties between Saudi Arabia and both Russia and China contributed to creating a divergence between Saudi Arabia and the United States, in light of Washington’s attempt to impose limits on these ties. This reflected positively on relations between Riyadh and Tehran, especially in light of the rapprochement between China and both Muslim and neighboring countries.

– Iranian threats of a retaliatory response to Saudi Arabia’s interference in the events that took place in Iran last fall prompted a resumption in Saudi-Iranian negotiations. Riyadh accelerated steps towards a settlement with Iran following a brief slowdown in negotiations.

Iran’s motives

Iran’s motives for rapprochement with Saudi Arabia can be summarized as follows:

– Iran has long sought to establish good relations with Saudi Arabia, on the grounds that this would deprive the United States and “Israel” of the fear card of the “Iranian threat”. The reluctance came from Riyadh, which imposed preconditions for normalizing relations with Iran.

Instead of continuing to bear the high cost of fighting Iran’s influence in the region, Saudi Arabia has now realized that exchanging security guarantees and economic interests with Iran constitutes a pillar of regional security. In turn, Iran seems today more ready to deal with Saudi concerns in light of the regional and international changes. Iran gives priority to removing all pretexts that could entrench the US military presence in the region and direct foreign interference in its affairs.

– The normalization of ties between the Gulf states and “Israel” led to an increase in tensions between Iran and these countries, especially after these relations took on the form of a security and military alliances. There is no doubt that the resumption of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia would block the way for this alliance, which was built on a vision of hostility towards Iran. This is a great gain for Iran and its neighbors alike because it keeps the specter of confrontation away from the region.

– The US administration’s procrastination, led by Joe Biden, in returning to the nuclear agreement and tightening sanctions on Iran, has led Tehran to search for ways to strengthen political and economic relations with the non-Western world, especially since the US blockade caused extensive damage to the Iranian economy. Iran now aspires to advance its economy by strengthening its relations with neighboring countries, including the Gulf states, as well as with Russia, China, and other distant countries.

Possible risks to the agreement

Saudi Arabia’s positive turn towards the countries of the region seems sharp, sudden, and rapid, but at its core it carries a number of challenges. The most important of these include the following:

– There are fears that Riyadh would resume its American politics gambit in the event the Republicans win the presidential elections next year. There is a rotation between displeasure and a return to harmony in Saudi-American relations, although changes in international relations may diminish such prospects.

Relations between Riyadh and Washington have gone through successive bouts of heat and coldness since Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, and the different approaches to regional events after the occupation of Iraq, the Syrian crisis, and the nuclear agreement with Iran. Then, there was the joint return to harmony and agreement to besiege Iran under Donald Trump.

– There are hopes pinned on addressing the issue of the war in Yemen in a way that meets the vast majority of the urgent demands of the Yemeni and Saudi sides. This file constitutes a disturbing element for Saudi foreign policy and leaves its mark on dealing with other files.

However, question marks remain about the chances of a political solution, in light of Saudi Arabia’s internal and regional calculations and the annoyance of the Yemeni parties affiliated with Riyadh over the latter’s openness to Ansarullah as well as any possible delays.

In this context, the leaked top secret Pentagon documents indicate that “the Saudis intended to drag out the negotiations and avoid making firm commitments,” and that they “hoped to gradually decrease Houthi demands based on the belief that the Houthis are under pressure and in need of a détente on humanitarian issues before the beginning of Ramadan on 22 March.”

Despite this, the Saudis realized that the temporary truce would not bring them peace in the absence of meeting the basic demands of the Ansarullah movement, such as opening Yemen’s sea and air ports, paying salaries to employees, exchanging prisoners, and then starting to discuss a political solution.

A day after his visit to the Yemeni capital, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al-Jaber said, “I am visiting Sana’a with the aim of stabilizing the ceasefire, supporting the prisoner exchange process and discussing ways of dialogue between the Yemeni components to reach a comprehensive and sustainable political solution in Yemen.”

Direct contacts between Saudi Arabia and Ansarullah highlight what Iran has been saying all along, that the group’s decisions come from Sana’a.

– Talk in the Gulf about the need for Syria, Iraq, and Yemen to return to the Arab fold may open the door to a possible return to the policy of sharp polarization and clashes with Iran over regional files in the future, based on this stereotype that these countries follow Iran simply because they chose to establish close relations with it.

Such rhetoric raises fears that the current rapprochement is just a way to absorb pressure, given the inability to change the equation by the means that were used in the past.

The assumption is that everyone is aware of the past experiences and its costly results and that regional cooperation, not confrontation, is the way to solve crises. The experience of relations between Iran and Turkey can constitute a model that can be developed despite their disagreements on several issues.

There are also indications that, in exchange for the Saudi rush to rearrange relations with Iran, Yemen, and Syria, Riyadh may take a corresponding step toward a settlement with “Israel” on the basis of modernizing the Arab Peace Initiative launched by Saudi Arabia in 2002.

This step may please the United States and modify the American reservations about the Saudi steps in the opposite direction, but it may lead to renewed tensions in the region over the conditions for returning to the settlement in light of the Zionist’s extremism and exaggerations.

Sayyed Nasrallah Threatens Netanyahu: You Will See! (Video)

 April 14, 2023

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah responded to the threats of the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu by similarly saying in an intimidating tone, “You Will See!”

Sayyed Nasrallah abstained from commenting on the missile fire from Southern Lebanon at the Zionist settlements, stressing that reassuring the Zionist enemy is forbidden.

Hezbollah will resort to silence and avoid clarifying the missile fire from Southern Lebanon in order to keep ‘Israel’ confused and terrified, according to the Resistance Leader.

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that the Israelis themselves acknowledge that the response to the missile fire from Lebanon was feeble due to the balance of deterrence maintained by the Resistance, highlighting the strategic reflection of the Zionist keenness on avoiding any direct clash with Hezbollah.

“The Israelis have boasted the only achievement of avoiding any direct clash with Hezbollah.”

Sayyed Nasrallah said that the Israeli raids did not target any site for Hezbollah or Hamas, but that an irrigation canal and a banana farm were hit.

His eminence maintained that all the Israeli threats are useless, rather they reinforce the Resistance commitment to accumulate all the required capabilities in order to sustain the balance of deterrence and confront any Zionist aggression on Lebanon.

Any Zionist attack on the Lebanese territories or any person present in Lebanon will be responded to without any hesitation, Sayyed Nasrallah maintained.

Addressing Hezbollah central ceremony marking International Quds Day in Beirut’s Dahiyeh, Sayyed Nasrallah warned the Israeli enemy of any folly against Al-Aqsa Mosque, Al-Quds, West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon or Syria may lead to an all-out war in the whole region.

Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that Imam Khomeini announced Al-Quds International Day more than 40 years ago in order to be an occasion of voicing and expressing solidarity with Palestine.

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that marking Al-Quds International Day sends a message of solidarity with the sacrificing Palestinian people, adding that Muslims and Christians as well as Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of Resurrection in Palestine are not left alone.

His eminence pointed out that Marking Al-Quds International Day is also aimed at intimidating the Israeli enemy that feels concerned and has made void threats to all the surrounding countries.

Hezbollah Secretary General highlighted the developments that occurred since last year’s Al-Quds Day and reviewed their effects on the Palestinian cause.

To begin with, Sayyed Nasrallah underlined the recession of the US hegemony all over the world, shedding light on the Venezuelan sample.

America was obliged to back off in Venezuela after a political and economic siege, according to Sayyed Nasrallah.

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that one of the most important factors behind the regional changes is the milestone US defeat in Afghanistan, “which was wailed by the Israeli officials”.

Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that ‘Israel’, Gulf states, and other regional countries have become convinced that the US is unreliable for protection, adding that some Arab countries have started to consider dialogue and agreement as a way to maintain the regional stability.

Sayyed Nasrallah noted that USA is now concentrating on the confrontation with Russia and China more than Eastern Asia and the Middle East, adding that this is worrying the Israelis.

Such developments move towards a multipolar world system that cannot be ruled by the USA alone, according to Sayyed Nasrallah.

Sayyed Nasrallah pointed out that the US administration moves according to its interests, adding that it even imposed the normalization deals on the Arab countries and that the Israeli officials falsely claim they have made this “achievement”.

The US political decline will lead to the decline of the normalization deals as well as the Israeli deterrence power and strategic status.

The powerful emergence of the axis of the resistance from the global war run by the US which employed states and criminal organizations will affect the conflict with the Israeli enemy, Sayyed Nasrallah said, recalling the bets on the collapse of the the Resistance coalition.

Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted Syria’s recovery and the restoration of its diplomatic ties with a number of the Arab countries, including Algeria, Tunisia, Saudi, UAE and Egypt, mentioning also the issue of Syria’s return to the Arab League and the Turkish endeavor to normalize relations with Damascus.

Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized that Yemen, which we have supported since the beginning of the war in 2015, is witnessing positive developments pertaining the peace talks, noting that this would leave positive effects on the axis of resistance, Palestine and Al-Quds.

Hezbollah Chief hailed Algeria’s return to support the Palestinian cause displayed by the expelling of the Zionist delegation from the African Union Summit,

Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted Iraq’s considerable recovery from its crises, adding that the axis of resistance bets on the Iraqi people support to the Palestinian cause and underlining their enormous human and materialistic capabilities.

Sayyed Nasrallah also mentioned Iran development and steadfastness in face of the siege, isolation and recent trivial riots, adding that the Iranian-Saudi agreement has speedily started showing its positive outcomes.

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that Iran-KSA pact frustrated the normalization schemes and the Israeli plot to establish coalition against Iran, adding that the concentration of the attack on the Islamic Republic is caused by the fact that it is the main supporter of the regional countries and resistance movements.

Hezbollah Leader indicated that the recent rift which appeared in the Zionist entity over the judicial amendments which reflect an existential war waged by Netanyahu and the right groups against the rest of the political parties.

This war would have turned to be bloody had not the US administration interfered few weeks ago to prevent the escalation would threatened the army, businessmen and all the Zionist society, according to Sayyed Nasrallah, who also highlighted the lack of confidence in the Israeli army and the military readiness to make sacrifices for the sake of the occupation entity.

Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that the escalating armed resistance in the West Bank, the popular steadfastness, sacrifice and support to the resistance fighters inside and outside Palestine, the youths participation in the heroic clashes with the Zionist occupation forces despite the discrepancy of military capabilities, the Palestinian persistence and insistence on defending Al-Aqsa Mosque in spite of the Israeli aggression versus the Zionist confusion and fear, and the growing capabilities of the resistance in the Gaza have maintained the certainty of victory.

Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that Syria considers several factors before deciding a response to the Israeli raids as its army units are deployed along hundreds of kilometers in face of the terrorist groups, warning Israeli enemy must beware that Syria may get rid of the current formula and respond at a certain time to the Zionist raids.

West Bank

Hezbollah Secretary General reiterated that the West Bank is indeed the shield of Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa Mosque, calling for supporting the West Bank and its resistance financially and militarily in order to sustain its steadfastness.

Sayyed Nasrallah asserted that all who can dispatch weapons to the West Bank, must do that, adding that the political support provided by the Arab and Muslim states is also important.

Sayyed Nasrallah warned the US and ‘Israel’ against any folly in the region will lead to a major war, warning the Zionist enemy against tampering with the Islamic and Christian sanctities in Palestine.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Saudi security versus petrodollar

ِApril 12, 2023

Source: Janna Kadri

By Al Mayadeen English 

Breaking the link between the oil and the dollar is a project that has been in the making for quite some time.

Breaking the link between the oil and the dollar is a project that has been in the making for quite some time

On March 10, China brokered a peace agreement between rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, a move which left the West baffled. Some suggested that the world had witnessed the slow and gradual collapse of the old world order. Although the deal may not necessarily achieve full normalization, still points of contact were restored. Such had vexed policymakers while at the same ushering in an era of Chinese diplomatic victory in the area most crucial to US global dominance. The implications of such an agreement are multiple, but the potential loss of Saudi to the US, and the gradual dissolution of their institutional ties, especially the long-standing agreement by which Saudi sells its oil for dollars, may yet prove to be a world significant event.  

This detente is a breakthrough in terms of heralding peace and development in the region. It comes at a time when relations between China and the US have reached all-time lows. After several months of provocations aimed at disrupting Beijing through provocations around Taipei, it appears that China had turned the tables on the US’ most sensitive point, which is its hegemony over the gulf. The ramifications are too broad, but here I address the implications of the petrodollar system.

The petrodollar system was born of an agreement between the US and Saudi Arabia to peg the sales of oil in exchange for security guarantees and Saudi assistance with US foreign policy missions. Aside from petrodollar recycling, the benefit of pricing oil in dollars has all to do with increasing US indebtedness in the dollar, which in turn increases its wealth, since the US prints the ‘paper dollars’ as the equivalent of world wealth. This also means that the US must lay control not only over current world assets, but must also own the future work and assets of humanity to underwrite its massive wealth. For this, The US must be in control of the world’s strategic resources, choke points, and foremost the ideological production that cripples anti-systemic thought. On a more concrete level, since OPEC entities get paid in none other than the dollar, the profits earned from oil revenues are re-invested in US treasuries and other instruments so as to avoid the loss of value in times of economic downturns. The constant flow of dollars channeled into bonds, allows the US to finance its deficits and to be in a position to trade debts against their future values.

The depth of the US financial market, and the ability of the dollar to be a world medium of savings in addition to world means of exchange, are tied to the global demand for dollars. If the dollarization of oil lessens, then demand for dollars lessens, and the dollar as a safe refuge from financial turmoil abroad also lessens. As can be seen, the US must reconstitute its powers in the military and ideological fields to reinstall the dollar and siphon world wealth through it. Incidentally, the China-sponsored deal represents an image or ideological blow to the US because it has shown China as a peace-maker and the US as war monger. The implications of slow de-dollarisation are that the US may no longer be able to build its wealth by borrowing against a world it controls. 

Read – De-dollarization, Slowly but surely

Pricing oil to the US dollar has proved efficient to underwrite the wealth of the US-allied financial class. The equation more control equals more wealth meant that the US’s engagement in imperialist politics has always been about power first, especially ideological power wrought by beating and sanctioning people abroad. The US hegemony is first a hegemony over the global mind of defeated people. As the Arab proverb goes, one makes a friend out of beating him first.

The Saudis were pivotal in the ascent of the US. In addition to the many examples, like aiding the contras to fight Abdel-Nasser in Yemen, and the list goes on, they essentially helped the US win the Cold War because the dollarization of oil permitted them to financially contain Eastern European countries as they overburdened them with dollar debts. Lending to cripple an economy is just as good a weapon as any.  Not to forget, the Saudis also allowed the price of oil to be listed on the commodity market by weakening OPEC at the behest of the US. Direct producers of oil lost control of oil prices. Saudi pumped oil earned fewer profits than it should have as a part of the power game with the Soviet Union then. This was owed to a meeting held in 1985 between King Fahd and William Casey, the former CIA director, in which both agreed to increase oil production from 2 billion bpd to 10 billion bpd, leading oil prices to fall from $30 to $10 and eventually resulting in the fallout of the Soviet economy.

In the region, the Saudis assisted US aspirations through the numerous wars against more autonomous states across the region. The proliferation of Salafism and the financing of disruptive militias instigated wars that were a win-win situation for the US. It weakened opposing regimes and made money off military spending. 

Yet with war waged on Yemen, tensions with Iran, and a balance of forces tilting in favor of the axis of resistance, it is only rational for the Saudis to forfeit the US and seek longer-term stability through negotiated dialogue. The deal that the US provides Saudi with security as Saudi prices its oil in the dollar seems to be no longer valid.  The US is retreating around the globe, and while it cannot afford Saudi security, the Saudis will rethink their pricing oil only in dollars. Add to that the personal vilification of MBS and the openly anti-Arab racism practiced daily in Western media and other channels. 

On a more detailed level, Saudi security demands are threefold: first, to grant a major non-NATO ally status; second, to receive additional sales of advanced US weapons; and third, to receive US support for a civilian nuclear energy program. With the first condition fulfilled and the second being contested, the third would evoke the possibility for Saudi authorities to develop their own fissile material, hence enabling the capacity of building a nuclear weapon. The US is less concerned with nuclear proliferation than the military autonomization of Saudi Arabia as this would jeopardize the agreement that safeguards the petrodollar system. US reluctance to respond to Saudi Arabia’s security needs was made obvious when Democrat lawmakers urged US President Joe Biden to discourage Saudis from enhancing their own ballistic missiles and drone capabilities in 2022. A letter was issued just a few days prior to Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia in June 2022, and highlighted concerns from the Pentagon that the Gulf state was planning to manufacture solid fuel missiles with assistance from China.

Another relevant factor to consider is threats issued by the US that it would pull away military support following the announcement of the OPEC cut in October 2022, as well as the introduction of the NOPEC bill which would enable lawsuits to be filed against Saudi Arabia and OPEC entities for controlling oil prices. If such a bill would come to pass, it would highlight the possibility of Saudi Arabia being slapped with sanctions. With the Iran-Saudi deal announced, it appears that China has rocked the foundations on which the petrodollar system rests. This was further evidenced by the introduction of a Privileged Resolution by Senators Murphy and Lee calling for a complete halt of US military assistance to Saudi Arabia, noting that “US weapons do not belong in the hands of human rights abusers.”

Breaking the link between the oil and the dollar is a project that has been in the making for quite some time. Both Russia and China have been buying immense amounts of gold to rid their foreign reserves in US dollars and back their own currencies on the gold standard. With their BRICS allies, they are contemplating a common currency that would shift away from transactions carried out in US dollars. Although many signs seem to be pointing out the gradual decline of the petrodollar system, it is unlikely that it may happen in the short run.

The petrodollar will remain the dominant currency as long as the dollar is recognized as the world reserve currency. As we speak, the global share of foreign reserves denominated in US dollars currently fell to slightly below 60%. States and companies across the world are still required to own dollars in order to purchase oil – the most strategic commodity on the global market. After all that is said and done, the decline of the dollar is tied to the decline of the US’s control of the planet, which until now was de-facto ownership of the planet.

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Israel’s Protests Ignore Palestine’s Quest for Freedom and Justice

April 10, 2023

– Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the South Africa-based Media Review Network. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. Visit: www.mediareviewnet.com

By Iqbal Jassat

‘Unchartered territory’ is how many mainstream Western media outlets have described the unprecedented political crisis that’s engulfed Benjamin Netanyahu’s rabid right-wing regime.

Overnight the protest movement that’s been brewing for weeks in opposition to his “judicial reforms”, brought the self-proclaimed Jewish state to its knees.

The escalation in protests which shut down the main airport, harbor, universities, businesses, shopping malls, and some ministries, has come as a rude shock to most of the settler-colonial apartheid regime’s allies and hard-core apologists.

The intensity of the crisis saw senior military officials including Yoav Gallant, the Defense Minister take a public stand against plans for the controversial judicial overhaul. Firing him added fuel to a raging fire.

“We’ve never been closer to falling apart. Our national security is at risk, our economy is crumbling, our foreign relations are at their lowest point ever, and we don’t know what to say to our children about their future in this country. We have been taken hostage by a bunch of extremists with no brakes and no boundaries,” is how former PM Yair Lapid described the crisis.

The “shock and awe” of America’s client-state falling apart, in whom the US has invested billions in arms and funds is reflected in back-to-back media coverage.

The Western narrative that internecine civil strife only happens in Syria, Yemen, and Libya – not in Israel, patronized as the “only democracy” in the Middle East, has been exposed as a racist construct.

The reality however is that Zionism as the political underpinning and ideological foundation which led to the dispossession of indigenous Palestinians to pave the way for the creation of Israel has failed.

The irony is that most, if not all, the formations who are at each other’s throats – from protesters to their opponents in the streets and in government – profess to be zionists.

The insults thus hurled at each other such as “anarchists” speaks to the huge divide between racists right-wing settlers and the so-called “left”.

Cynics argue that those perceived to be leftist opponents of the regime are in effect embedded in the status quo. They have yet to transcend their pro-democracy stance by acknowledging that the democratic values preserved for one ethnic group only is no democracy.

A cursory glance at South Africa’s apartheid-era “democracy” explains what Israeli “democracy” implies.

While America’s response to the protests has been largely muted, indications are that the Biden administration has been looking on with alarm. Notwithstanding the billions of dollars it provides in “aid”, the US lacks leverage for fear of treading on the toes of powerful pro-Zionist lobbies.

Having been out-boxed by China’s bold initiative to pave the way for Iran and Saudi Arabia to rekindle full diplomatic and economic ties, America’s strategy alongside Israel’s has been severely impaired.

Most of the region especially those Arab states who have opted to “normalize” ties on the basis of the “Abraham Accords” would be concerned about the end result of the turmoil. Their security which they hinged to Israel’s security is on a roller coaster ride.

As America’s influence wanes so too will they have to reconfigure their “normalisation” while at the same time weighing their options which include closing ranks with Syria.

Turkey faces a similar conundrum. It cannot pretend any longer that ties with Israel guarantee “protection” while observing the impending disaster unfolding in the Jewish state.

That Palestinian people continue to be hunted down and killed by settler-militias and by the regime’s armed forces, while protesters on the streets remain oblivious of these crimes, explains why the crisis faced by Israel is mainly about Israelis against themselves.

Palestinians remain subject to harsh restrictions, military checkpoints, arbitrary arrests, home demolitions and occupation. None of their grievances have featured in the protests, thus rendering them invisible, while their precious lives are on the line.

The only recourse they have in defending their lives and properties is to resist the occupation.

By all accounts, as much as the crises facing Israel are unprecedented in scale and numbers, it remains a selfish outpouring of anger directed against Netanyahu’s subjugation of the judiciary.

Though he has pushed the pause button, Netanyahu has already pushed through part of the bill which effectively strips the court of the power to declare a prime minister (himself) unfit for office. Though he denies any wrongdoing, it is known that Netanyahu is determined to push the “reforms” through due to his own ongoing corruption trial where he faces charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust.

Though Israel’s image has been severely damaged by its own racist right-wing extremists, and its macho power weakened at the same time, the core of Palestine’s freedom struggle to rid itself of the occupation has not altered.

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