Were It Not for Iran, Where Would Palestine Be?

 November 23, 2022

Ahmad FarhatTranslated and Edited by Mohammad Salami

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah stressed, during a speech last month, that , the most important factor of strength in the axis of resistance is the Islamic Republic of Iran, wondering where Palestine would be without the Iranian role.

The signing of Camp David Accords crowned the US-brokered Egyptian concessions to the Israeli enemy, knowing that the most prominent event in this context was the visit of the Egyptian President Anwar Al-Sadat to the Zionist entity in November, 1977.

Signing of Camp David Peace Accord (President Jimmy Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin)

Since the end of the 1973 war and the advent of Egypt’s settlements era, the military formulas in the region had changed. The Arab countries, consequently, could not fight on one front against the Israeli enemy which managed to hold bilateral ‘peace’ agreements with the Arab countries in order to avoid facing them altogether.

The Arabs suffered then from a wide case of frustration amid the collapse of the Common Arab Security.

With respect to the Zionist entity, the Arab countries would no longer be able to attack ‘Israel’ without the participation of Egypt despite the fact that the Israeli enemy continued carrying out its occupation and expansion schemes. In this regard, the Zionist enemy invaded Lebanon in 1978 and 1982 and struck the Palestinian resistance.

The following video shows the Palestinian resistance fighters leaving Lebanon in 1982:

Hope Rising in the East

Amid the tragic developments, Imam Ruhollah Khomeini led the Islamic Revolution in Iran to a historic victory in 1979. Just 8 days later, the Islamic Republic identified its foreign policy, granting the keys of the Israeli embassy in Tehran to Yasser Arafat, the late head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. This established a new epoch of a strategic Iranian support to the Palestinian cause.

Since its victory, the Islamic Revolution in Iran rejected and confronted all the schemes which targeted the Palestinian cause, providing all the possible means of support to the Palestinian resistance and intifada. The Iranian authorities have been also supporting and funding the Palestinian camps in the diaspora in order to maintain the steadfastness of the refugees.

On August 7, 1979, late founder of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini designated the last Friday of Ramadan holy month as the International Al-Quds Day. Since then, Al-Quds Day has become a day all Muslims and oppressed people across the world rally for Al-Quds and Palestine against the Zionist occupation.

The Islamic Republic in Iran has been also supporting the Palestinian resistance factions which have committed to the rules of Islam.

Axis of Resistance

The axis of resistance led by the Islamic Republic of Iran engaged in several wars in Lebanon and Palestine. Iran supported founding Hezbollah Islamic Resistance that cooperated with the Palestinian resistance to reach victories.

This cooperation appeared clearly during Al-Quds Sword battle in 2021 between Gaza resistance and the Israeli enemy when Hezbollah, IRGC, and Hamas established a chamber of military operations in Beirut during the recent Israeli aggression on Gaza.

This axis, which has sacrificed a large number of martyrs crowned by the former head of IRGC’s Al-Quds Force martyr General Qassem Suleimani, has set praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque as a strategic target.

The video that follows the huge support demonstrated by the Iranian people to the Palestinian cause on various occasions, including mainly Al-Quds Day.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

من التطبيع إلى الدمج

الخميس 17 تشرين الثاني 2022

‭}‬ سعادة مصطفى أرشيد*

راودت فكرة فتح طريق مائيّ يربط البحر الأحمر بالبحر الأبيض المتوسط قدماء المصريين، وذلك بحفر قناة تربط البحر الأحمر بنهر النيل وصولاً إلى المتوسط، ومثلت إحدى ركائز الاستراتيجية المصرية باحتكارها للتجارة الآتية من الشرق البعيد بطريق أسرع وأقلّ كلفة ويدعم من موقع مصر، ولكن كان على الفكرة أنّ تنتظر آلاف السنين، حتى غزو نابليون لمصر، الذي قرع أجراس الحداثة وأعاد الاهتمام والصراع من العالم الجديد إلى العالم القديم، الذي احتاج إلى إعادة اكتشافه من خلال الاستشراق والمشاريع، والتي كان أهمّها مشروع حفر قناة السويس، التي اعتبرت من عجائب الدنيا واختصرت الطريق الطويل بين أوروبا والشرق البعيد الذي كان مضطراً للالتفاف حول رأس الرجاء الصالح.

لكن هذا المشروع (قناة السويس) الذي حلّ مشاكل المواصلات لأوروبا، ما لبث أن أصبح مشكلة لمصر والشرق، فمن جانب فشلت مصر في إدارته ورعايته وتورّطت بالاستدانة التي كانت مدخلاً للهيمنة عليها، ومن جانب آخر كانت حماية القناة من الشرق تتطلّب إيجاد كيان غريب ومعادٍ للمنطقة يقوم بأعمال الحراسة ويكون عنصراً يمنع الوحدة والاتصال بين سورية ومصر، فكانت البذرة الشيطانية (إسرائيل).

تحوّلت قناة السويس من نعمة لمصر والشرق لتصبح نقمة، فأدّت الى احتلال مصر من قبل الإنجليز عام 1882، ثم إلى العدوان الثلاثي إثر تأميمها عام 1956، وكانت الشرارة التي أشعلت حرب 1967، والتي لا زلنا نعيش تداعياتها، ويبدو أننا سنعاني لفترة ليست بالقصيرة، فقد تسبّبت بأن يتداعى الأمن القومي للإقليم بأسره، وأن يُستبدل بأمن النظام ثم بأمن الرئيس الحاكم، ومن النماذج الواضحة نرى ذلك في تنازل مصر السيسية عن جزيرتي تيران وصنافير ومضائقهما للسعودية، وكان إغلاق تلك المضائق هو السبب المباشر لحرب 1967، وهذه المضائق قد تحوّلت اليوم إلى مضائق سعودية يسري عليها قانون المضائق وأعالي البحار.
في الأعوام الماضية أخذت حوادث جنوح السفن تتكرّر في القناة، مما أدّى إلى تعطيل المرور وتأخير السفن المنتظرة بطوابير، عدا عن أنّ السفن المتوسطة والضخمة لم تعُد تستطيع الإبحار في القناة بسبب حجمها، مما يضطرها للدوران حول أفريقيا، فيما المرور بالقناة هو من خط واحد يخصص يوم للسفن المبحرة من البحر الأحمر للمتوسط واليوم الآخر بالعكس.

قبل سنوات؛ تحدّث الإعلام (الإسرائيلي) عن مشروع حفر قناة موازية لقناة السويس تربط البحر الأبيض المتوسط بالبحر الأحمر، لكن إثر نقل السيادة المصرية على جزيرتي تيران وصنيفير إلى السيادة السعودية تسارع الحديث عن المشروع، إلى أن أعلن قبل أيام عن الشروع بأعمال الحفر من ناحيتين، واحدة بالقرب من إيلات والأخرى بجوار ميناء أسدود على البحر المتوسط، وذكرت تفاصيل العمل أنّ القناة ستكون مزدوجة، واحدة للسفن الآتية من المتوسط للبحر الأحمر وأخرى منفصلة عنها بالعكس منها، وستكون القناة أكثر عرضاً وسعة من قناة السويس، بحيث تتسع لأكبر السفن وناقلات النفط حجماً في العالم، حيث توفر الوقت وتختصر المسافة.

يرافق المشروع بناء مدن صناعية وترفيهية ومناطق حرة على طول ضفتي القناة، وفيها من أكثر أنظمة الأمن والحماية تطوّراً في العالم، وتقدّر الدراسات أنه من الممكن أن يتمّ إنجاز المشروع بعد خمس سنوات من الآن، وسيعمل به مئات ألوف العمال والمهندسين والفنيين من دول الجوار ومن الشرق الأقصى، كما تساهم في إنجازه شركات من كوريا وأوروبا والولايات المتحدة، فيما تموّله بنوك أميركية بفائدة متناهية الصغر(1%).

المشروع هو في قلب الأفكار المتداولة مؤخراً من الشرق الأوسط الجديد وصفقة القرن، التي يظنّ بعض من يتوهّم أنها قد انتهت مع مغادرة ترامب للبيت الأبيض، وهي مرتبطة بالطموحات التي يجهر بها ولي العهد السعودي في بنائه لمدينة نيوم، التي إنْ صدقت الأخبار ستجعل من دبي مدينة من الماضي.
كلّ هذه المشاريع تهدف إلى دمج (إسرائيل) في كلّ تفاصيل الإقليم، من شبكات الطرق إلى سياسات البيئة والأمن والإقتصاد والطاقة، لا بل جعلها العامل الأساسي والحيوي الذي يقود الإقليم، فيما لن تجدي تهديدات مصر ـ إنْ هدّدت ـ بوقف المشروع، أما المسألة الفلسطينية، فإنها ستذهب نحو مزيد من التهميش أمام المصالح المادية الجديدة الناتجة عن دمج (إسرائيل) وجعلها «كياناً طبيعياً».
*سياسي فلسطيني

مقيم في الكفير ـ جنين ـ فلسطين المحتلة.

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The Palestinian resistance continues to prove its presence in the West Bank

“The Palestinians sold their land”… a lie that the Palestinians destroyed with their steadfastness.

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WORLDMuslim Brotherhood Mob Boss Qaradawi Dies

September 30, 2022

Declan Hayes

The only tragedy about the death at 96 years of age of Youssef al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s deadliest terrorist grouping, is that the Muslim Brotherhood did not die along with him.

The only tragedy about the death at 96 years of age of Youssef al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s deadliest terrorist grouping, is that the Muslim Brotherhood did not die along with him.

Qaradawi was the Egyptian born spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood murder gang. Typical of the beliefs Qaradawi espoused was that Hitler went too easy on the Jews, that the world’s 100 million Shia, along with all apostates from Sunni Islam, must be exterminated and that his Islamic Caliphate should rule over us all. He lived in Qatar and, when not spewing out misogynistic, Shiaphobic, anti Semitic bile from that excuse for a country on al Jazeera’s top rating TV show. this hateful, Hitler loving demagogue issued fatwas to the Muslim Brotherhood faithful to slaughter Syria’s minorites and “apostates”.

The Muslim Brotherhood, its strong links with Western intelligence forces and dubious Trotsykist groups notwithstanding, is the Arab world’s original, most subversive, and most dangerous terrorist organization. It strongly believes in imposing the Caliphate and, as their countless atrocities in Egypt and Syria show, murdering or subjugating all who resist them. There will be no peace in the Arab or Western worlds until the Muslim Brotherhood is crushed in its Egyptian and Syrian spawning grounds and in those areas of the Western world NATO has allowed it colonize. Syria’s former ruler, the late Hafez el Assad, accurately described these NATO aligned devils in this video.

Following their failed 1982 coup, most Syrian Muslim Brotherhood terrorists fled into safe haven bolt holes from where they built a network of dedicated and highly professional cadres to spew their toxins. Though the Muslim Brotherhood Support Network in the West deserves a lot more scrutiny to determine why supposed left wing groups support these sectarian cut throats, they are, from my experience at least, protected by MI5 and allied intelligence agencies.

Take the case of Omar Gabbar, who shared a platform with prominent child sex jihad proponent Muhammed al-Arefe. Not only did Gabbar’s Hand in Hand for Syria front group secure one of the world’s top child sex jihadist recruiters in their first month of operation “from a Leicester kitchen table” but their original posters were designed by Turkish-based hacks of the terrorist Free Syrian Army, whose flag is emblazoned on the logo of Hand in Hand for Syria. Gabbar should, together with the legal hounds and British armed response units he set on me, consider that decent people, who are not members of the Muslim Brotherhood or any of its satellites, have got very lengthy prison tariffs for much less. Though al-Arefe is now barred from Britain, Omar Gabbar remains there and, like many others, who brought al-Arefe to Britain, is allowed work, as a hospital consultant in his case, where he has access to the young and impressionable children al-Arefe expects to do sex jihad.

The Muslim Brotherhood are allowed leverage the professional status of operatives like Gabbar not only to bring sex jihadist recruiting sergeants like Al Arefe to England to help the Canadian secret service ferry child brides like Shamima Begum to their Syrian caliphate but to collect tens of millions of dollars for the Caliphate under false pretenses thanks, in large part to the control MI5 have over the Charity Commission which can be seen, inter alia, by the example of Samara’s Appeal, a dodgy Anglican cult charity focused on Syria, which is exempted from having to list its trustees.

Gabbar is not the Muslim Brotherhood’s only well placed British asset. Dr Rola Hallam is the daughter of Mousa al Kurdi, one of the head honchos in the supposedly moderate wing of Syria’s Murder Inc; she can drive through ISIS checkpoints at will, as this website based on BBC Panorama’s farcical puff piece plainly illustrates.. Though Hand in Hand for Syria’s collusion with ISIS, as evidenced by their ability to sail through ISIS checkpoints and to work in ISIS strongholds, is a further indication that the moderate and less moderate wings of Syria’s Murder Inc are in bed together and that the British and Irish authorities should consider rounding up the flotsam working with them, that will not happen because Qaradawi’s Muslim Brotherhood are so well engrained at the heart of British and Irish political life.

At the center of the effort to hijack Ireland’s traditional tolerance stand the extremists of the Clonskeagh Mosque aka The Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, which Wikileaks’ leaked U.S. cable and all informed writers say, have embedded ties to the most extreme elements of the Muslim Brotherhood murder gang. The mosque or “cultural center”, which gets massive subsidies from the opaque Dubai-based Al Maktoum foundation and sources linked to other totalitarian Gulf states, regularly hosts such “scholars” as Saudi cleric Salman al Awda, who calls for the total extermination of all Americans, and Egyptian demagogue Wagdy Ghoneim, whose views likewise make him an international pariah in places where the writ of the Muslim Brotherhood does not run as deeply as it does in Ireland.

The “cultural center’s” head religious figure is Hussein Halawa, an Egyptian blow-in, who has lived in Ireland for decades but who cannot speak either English or Irish. Halawa reported directly to Yusuf al-Qaradawi through The European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) which al Qaradawi controlled. Although the arch-bigot Qaradawi was eventually banned from Ireland, Halawa not only remains at large but his children, who were arrested on Muslim Brotherhood related terror charges in Egypt, became a cause célèbre amongst Ireland’s media and large sections of Ireland’s political class, despite Halawa being a leading supporter of Qaradawi and his cut throats. If Halawa was just an otherwise parasitical, functionally illiterate Egyptian blow-in and if female Irish “reverts” were not ending up in accident and emergency wards after “honor beatings”, some of this idiot’s utterances might be tolerable but the fact that his children felt compelled to rush to aid Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as they persecuted Copts and lynched Shias should be definite warning flags even if an alarmingly large number of Irish politicians and other useful idiots opportunistically support him.

In an earlier piece on MI5 subversion in Iran, I cited the great Gamal Nasser mocking the Muslim Brotherhood over their attempts to destroy secular Egypt. Qaradawi and the Muslim Brotherhood could claim to have got the last laugh both in Egypt and Syria, thanks both to their outright terrorism and the massive support they have received from the intelligence agencies of the United States, Canada, Britain, Israel, Ireland and a host of other countries with no more regard to the harm they do than have any other comparable bunch of sociopaths. Although Syria’s current President has repeatedly warned the West against the spill over effects of Muslim Brotherhood terrorism, Western leaders do not care because it is not how they are hard wired.

As long as the Biden, Obama, Clinton, Cheney, Blair and Bush families, together with their minions, can benefit from promoting the Zelenskys and Qaradawis of this world, innocents will continue to die in Armenia, Syria, Yemen, Russia or anywhere else, Western Europe included, they choose to make a wasteland. So, to conclude, grieve not for Qaradawi but only that the Muslim Brotherhood and all its obnoxious tentacles have survived him.

Shea Lies Through Her Teeth as Lebanon’s Electricity Crisis Worsens

August 30, 2022

By Mohammad Youssef

More than a year ago, US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea has given a promise to help Lebanon with power supplies from Egypt and Jordan. A year later, all those promises have proven to be utter lies.

Meanwhile, the new Iranian ambassador to Lebanon, Mojtaba Amani, has repeated his predecessor’s offer to supply Lebanon with free fuel had the Lebanese government requested this officially.

This reflects clearly who are the real friends of Lebanon during its dire crisis.

The US ambassador has never been summoned by any official at the foreign ministry to ask her about her continuous lies, nor was she criticized by any Lebanese government official.

The whole issue would cost a decision by Washington to ease the sanctions against Lebanon and lift the siege that blocks the way for receiving help from Egypt and Jordan. Washington which is veteran in sieges against people and bringing them to the brink of deprivation and famine is exercising its criminal policy now against Lebanon and the Lebanese.

This kind of suffocating blockade is reminiscent of other blockades and sieges that the US imposed against free nations in different parts of the world, namely Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Syria, among many others.

This criminal punishment by Washington has cost dear lives, in Iraq alone half-a-million child died because of this, not to mention the great suffering of the people on many levels.

At the time, no one dared to criticize and condemn America for its crimes except for an independent initiative by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who set an international tribunal in the year 2005 in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to sue the war criminals, the tribunal which was a kind of international conference for judiciary and law experts condemned war criminals namely, US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Contrary to this, Iran has extended and continues to extend a helping hand to Lebanon on many levels.

It has expressed its willingness and readiness to help Lebanon in building two power plants for electricity supplies which will be of great benefit for our country.

Time and again, the Islamic Republic of Iran has offered help to Lebanon and never given false promises. Nowadays, Iran waits for an official Lebanese answer to the new offer to supply Lebanon with free fuel oil.

The problem has been always because of the official Lebanese stance that fears Washington and its sanctions.

The kind of official conduct by the Lebanese government is shameful and lacks respect for our country and people alike. It does not reflect at all that we are a free and sovereign country, rather a pro-western nation that is dictated by Washington.

My vision and our promise, this will not continue and the majority of the Lebanese will not accept to be subordinate to Washington or any other country.

It is time for our officials to learn how to protect our dignity and independence so they would resemble their people that sacrificed lives for the sake of the country’s independence and liberation.

When pictures speak volumes: Awawdeh facing death any moment

 August 28, 2022 

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Al Mayadeen English 

Pictures of Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh speak volumes of the Israeli intransigence and brutality.

And the international community still maintains silence…

The Prisoners Authority published horrific pictures of prisoner Khalil Awawdeh, who has been on hunger strike for 6 months now.

His wife and father took pictures of him today, exposing the truth of an ongoing “immoral and inhuman crime against him by the occupation prisons administration, and the Israeli intelligence service that insist on killing him,” even if slowly, according to a statement by the Prisoners Authority.

The Authority’s statement added, “These images are more than enough to awaken the conscience of the world that should hold the [Israeli] occupation accountable.”

Today, the Prisoners Information Office announced that Awawdeh is continuing his open hunger strike for the 166th day, amid critical health conditions.

Awawdeh’s lawyer, Ahlam Haddad, said 3 days ago that he could die at any moment. 

In March, Awawdeh began an open-ended hunger strike to demand his release, knowing that he was arbitrarily arrested as per the Israeli occupation’s arbitrary administrative detention policy, and his lawyer said he has only been only drinking water since.

For their part, Egyptian mediators recently called for the release of Awawdeh under a ceasefire agreement that ended the recent 3-day Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.

The freedom of Awawdeh was one of the clauses of the agreement between Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Israeli occupation after several days of Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, killing dozens of Palestinian civilians and wounding hundreds of others.

The head of the political department in the Islamic Jihad Movement, Muhammad Al-Hindi, said on August 7 that “a formula for the Egyptian declaration of the truce agreement has been reached, and it includes Egypt’s commitment to work for the release of the two prisoners, Khalil Awawdeh and Bassam Al-Saadi.”

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How the US controls Lebanon’s energy supply

Far from helping Lebanon solve its acute energy crisis, the US is leveraging Egypt’s gas supply to pressure Beirut over US-brokered maritime border talks with Israel

August 19 2022

By Yeghia Tashjian

Consider the chaos in Europe today caused by a sudden reduction in Russian gas supplies.

Now imagine the catastrophic state of Lebanon’s energy sector after two years of fuel shortages, limited foreign currency with which to purchase new, urgent supplies, and US-sanctions on Syria impeding Lebanon’s only land route for imports.

US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea intervenes in all of Beirut’s energy decisions Photo Credit: The Cradle

After decades of stalled reforms, Lebanon is running out of time and money.

In June 2021, a lifeline was handed to the country in a deal struck with Baghdad to supply two Lebanese power stations with Iraqi fuel. The agreement, which was due to expire in September 2022, has recently been extended for one year.

But while there are short and long term solutions available to remedy Lebanon’s energy crisis, the two main options are both monopolized by US policymakers with stakes in regional geopolitics.

The first option involves transporting fuel to Lebanon via the Arab Gas Pipeline (AGP), whereby Egypt will supply gas through Syria. Although the proposal was originally an American suggestion, this fuel route requires US sanctions waivers that have not yet been approved by Washington.

The second option is for Lebanon to extract its own gas supply from newly discovered fields off its coastline. This too depends entirely on US-mediated, indirect negotiations with Israel to resolve a maritime dispute over the Karish gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Accessing its own gas supplies will go a long way to guarantee Lebanon’s own energy security, while providing the state with much needed revenues from exports.

However, the success of either project depends largely on the status of US-Lebanese relations at any given moment. The two options are also inextricably linked to each other: Washington is pressuring Beirut to compromise with Tel Aviv on the maritime border dispute before agreeing to “green light” Cairo’s gas exports via Syria, which is in turn heavily sanctioned by the US’s “Caesar Act.”

While Washington is playing a leverage game, Lebanon is slowly collapsing.

Gas from Egypt

Under the agreement signed with Cairo, 650 million cubic meters of natural gas will be exported annually via the AGP. As it turns out, the actual supply of gas, as per the World Bank’s conditions, awaits US approval to exclude Egypt from sanctions imposed on the passage of goods through Syria.

The AGP is already a functioning pipeline that has supplied Lebanon with Egyptian gas in the past, but operations were halted in 2011 when Syrian pipelines were damaged during the country’s armed conflict.

Under the deal, Egypt will pump gas through the pipeline to supply Lebanon’s northern Deir Ammar power plant, which can then produce 450 megawatts of electricity – adding four hours of additional electricity supply per day. It is a modest but necessary improvement over the barely two hours of electricity currently provided by the state.

The World Bank has pledged to finance the deal on the condition that the Lebanese government implements much needed reforms in the electricity sector, which has created tens of billions of dollars in public debt.

The Syrian equation       

For the Syrian government, the arrangement is perceived as a diplomatic victory as it confers ‘legitimacy’ to the state and represents a step toward its international rehabilitation. The AGP deal was also hailed by Syrian Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources Bassam Tohmy as one of the most important joint Arab cooperation projects.

According to Will Todman, a research fellow in the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the agreement is “a win for the [Bashar al-]Assad government. The deal represents the first major move toward Syria’s economic integration with the region since Arab Spring protests shook Syria in March 2011, halting previous integration efforts.”

However, due to US Caesar Law restrictions, no concrete progress has been made over the past months. Amman and Cairo have both requested guarantees from Washington that they will not be subject to sanctions – to no avail. US President Joe Biden has yet to make a final decision on whether the plan will be considered a violation of sanctions on Syria.

Linking the Egypt deal with Israel talks

In order to create a certain interdependency in the region to minimize the possibility of new conflicts with Israel, the US is attempting to link the Egyptian gas deal with the ongoing, indirect, maritime negotiations between Tel Aviv and Beirut.

Amos Hochstein, the State Department senior adviser on energy security, who acts as chief mediator on the disputed maritime border between Lebanon and Israel, said after arriving in Beirut on 14 June that the US side will look at the final agreement between Egypt and Lebanon to evaluate the sanctions compliance of the natural gas project.

This means that Washington is linking the fate of the gas deal to the maritime dispute with Israel to exert additional pressure on Lebanon.

On 14 October, 2020 – just two months after the Beirut port blast which severed the primary transportation route for seaborne Lebanese imports – Lebanon and Israel began the long-awaited US-mediated talks to demarcate their maritime borders, under the supervision of the UN.

The framework agreement announced by both countries at the time was the most serious attempt to resolve the maritime dispute and secure gas drilling operations through diplomatic means.

However, there are many challenges that can slow or even derail these negotiations.

According to Lebanese estimates, the country has 96 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves and 865 million barrels of oil offshore, and is in urgent need to begin drilling to save its ailing economy.

Israel is also in hurry to resolve this dispute as it wants to finalize the negotiations before September 2022, when the Karish gas rig is expected to begin production. The concern is that if a deal is not signed by then, Hezbollah may take action to halt Israel’s extraction altogether – until Lebanon is able to extract its own fuel from those waters.

Resolution or conflict

Last month, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah reiterated warnings against Tel Aviv in the event that Lebanon is prevented from extracting its own resources in the Med. “When things reach a dead-end, we will not only stand in the face of Karish… Mark these words: we will reach Karish, beyond Karish, and beyond, beyond Karish,” he cautioned.

Initially, Lebanon took a maximalist position on its maritime borders with Israel: the main dispute was around the percentage both countries should share in the disputed 860 square kilometers, which covers Lebanon’s offshore gas Blocks 8, 9 and 10.

It is worth mentioning that Lebanon does not enter these negotiations from a position of strength and is in dire economic need to unlock foreign aid and begin the flow of potential gas revenues.

Meanwhile, the arrival this summer of the British-based Energean, an oil and gas exploration company, which will begin a drilling operation close to the Karish gas field, has sparked tensions between both countries, prompting US envoy Hochstein to race back to the region on 13 June.

In order to provide Lebanon with some much-needed leverage and accelerate negotiations, Hezbollah dispatched three drones towards the Karish gas field on 2 July. The operation sought several results: to test Israeli military responses to the drones, to scare off the private company contractors working on the rig, and to motivate both Tel Aviv and Washington to step up and strike a deal.

The operation achieved its goals. Israel’s military now can’t rule out the possibility that the Lebanese resistance movement will launch additional attacks on the gas field in the near future, or provoke Israel in a different manner – if the maritime dispute is not ironed out, and soon.

Beyond the Mediterranean Sea

The negotiations have also been impacted by international developments, chiefly, the war in Ukraine and the growing energy crisis in Europe. Sweeping western economic sanctions on Moscow’s economic interests have dried up Russian exports to the continent, driving Europe to seek alternative sources of energy, few of which are readily available.

In May 2022, the US and EU unveiled a plan to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and in June, the EU and Israel signed an agreement to export Israeli gas to Europe. These external factors have further motivated the US and Israel to hasten the negotiation process with Lebanon, all of which are overshadowed by the aforementioned US pressure on the Lebanese government.

Energy expert Laury Haytayan believes that linking Lebanon to regional energy projects makes it harder for Lebanon to go to war with Israel. Haytayan told The Cradle: “Lebanon needs gas, Israel needs stability, and the US wants to give both what they want.”

It is important to recognize that a final maritime demarcation agreement also means defusing the tensions on the Lebanese-Israeli border, which may require a broader US-Iranian agreement, something that is unlikely in the short term.

If the gas deal is successful and the US approves the Egyptian energy exports, the move will only increase US leverage over Lebanon when it comes to future negotiations on energy security.

It is in Lebanon’s interest to ensure that one party, the US, does not continue to hold all the cards related to its vital fuel needs. A recent offer from Iran to supply the country with monthly free fuel was tacitly accepted by Lebanon’s prime minister and energy minister, but needs work. Other states have offered to build power generation plants to enhance the nation’s infrastructure and efficiency.

But with Lebanon so deeply affected by Washington’s whims – and punishments – it isn’t at all certain that the country can steer itself to these more independent options.

The US and Israel have never been this highly incentivized to solve the maritime dispute. If the deal fails, Hezbollah may proceed with military action, especially before the conclusion of political ally President Michel Aoun’s term this Fall.

Furthermore, the gas issue may turn into a contentious domestic political issue ahead of Israel’s November parliamentary elections. In that instance too, a military conflict between Israel and Hezbollah may be triggered.

The only solution is to strike a deal, get gas flowing, and avert war. Will saner minds prevail, or will the region’s high-stakes geopolitical competition continue to escalate blindly? More importantly, can Washington bear to allow Lebanon the breathing space after three years of severe economic pressure to control Beirut’s political decisions?

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

Egypt Church Fire: 18 Children Among 41 People Killed

August 15, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

At least 18 children lost their lives in a fire that killed dozens of worshippers gathered for Sunday morning mass at a church in Giza, greater Cairo.

The toll stands at 41 dead and 14 injured, Egypt’s Coptic Church said in a statement, citing health officials. Hospital documents obtained by CNN show the children were ages 3 to 16.

The fire started at about 9 am local time due to an electrical failure in an air conditioning unit on the church’s second floor, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said. The small church is located in the highly populated Imbaba neighborhood.

Most of the deaths and injuries were caused by smoke inside church classrooms after the electrical failure, the ministry said in a Facebook post.

At least two officers and three civil protection service members were injured responding to the fire, the ministry said.

Church officials also believe the fire was accidental, said Coptic Church spokesperson Archpriest Moussa Ibrahim, adding a priest was among those killed.

Egypt’s Coptic community and churches have been a target of religious-based violence and attacks historically, with persecution and discrimination spiking since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in 2011.

Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East, making up at least 10 million of Egypt’s 103 million people.

Egypt has suffered several deadly fires in recent years.

العدوان الإسرائيلي المُبيَّت ودور عرب التطبيع

 الخميس 11 آب 2022

أليف صباغ 

كان لا بد لحكومة الاحتلال أن توجّه عيون الرأي العام الإسرائيلي إلى موقع آخر، وأن تقوم بعمل يرفع أسهم الحكومة أمام الناخبين اليمينيين. إذن، لا بد من القيام بضربة استباقية لإضعاف الجبهة الجنوبية.

العدوان الإسرائيلي المُبيَّت ودور عرب التطبيع

ليست أول مرة، تتعاون فيها الرجعية العربية و”إسرائيل” على الشعب الفلسطيني، وعادة ما يأخذ هذا التعاون شكلاً خبيثاً، ظاهره “حماية” الفلسطينيين وباطنه كسب ودّ الاستعمار لمصالح ضيقة.

هل كان العدوان على غزة مخططاً مسبقاً؟ وما أهدافه؟

مذ اعتُقل الشيخ المجاهد بسام السعدي، ولاحظنا الحملة العسكرية الكبرى التي شنّت لتحقيق ذلك، والتي استخدمت فيها قوات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي طائرات مروحية وأخرى مسيّرة، ومصفحات وقناصين وكتيبة من الجيش والمستعربين وكلاباً بوليسية، لاعتقال شخص واحد، فهمنا أن هذه العملية العسكرية ليست عادية، إنما تشكل نموذجاً أو تجسيداً ميدانياً حقيقياً لعمليات من هذا النوع جرى التدرّب عليها من قبل. وعندما رافق ذلك حشد عسكري قرب السياج المحيط بقطاع غزة المحتل، واجتمع لبيد بالقيادات الأمنية يوم الأحد الماضي، وقرّر قطع إجازته المقررة سلفاً، وتذكرنا أن الإعلام الإسرائيلي سبق ذلك، بأسبوع، بحملة إعلامية اتّهم فيها المقاومة الفلسطينية باستخدام المدارس والمستشفيات في تخزين الصواريخ، فهمنا، يقيناً، أنه يجري الاستعداد لعملية عسكرية ضد السكان المدنيين والمقاومة في قطاع غزة، وأن المدنيين سيكونون هدفاً للعدوان. وكيف لا نفهم، ونحن من يتابع كل عدوان بما يسبقه، وما يجرى خلاله، وما يتبعه من تلخيصات ودروس وكشف ما كان مستوراً؟!

أما عن الأهداف فهي كثيرة ومتعددة الاتجاه، منها المُعلن، ومنها غير المعلن، وفق الحاجات الإعلامية السياسية. 

في الأسابيع الأخيرة شنت وسائل الإعلام اليمينية، مع اليمين الإسرائيلي المعارض حملة على حكومة لبيد-غانتس، واتهمتها بالجُبن والتقاعس عن مواجهة التحدي الذي أبدته المقاومة اللبنانية، وفق المعادلة الجديدة، التي أطلقها سماحة السيد، “ما بعد “كاريش” وما بعد بعد “كاريش”، و”إما أن نستخرج غازنا ونفطنا من البحر وإلا فلن نسمح لأحد بأن يستخرج”! هذه المعادلة شغلت الحكومة الإسرائيلية والرأي العام، وسرّعت وتيرة نشاط المبعوث الأميركي الصهيوني، أموس هوكستين، للوصول إلى حل لترسيم الحدود، وبدأت الحكومة الإسرائيلية ترجو من كل ذي صلة أن يتوسط لدى حزب الله بألا ينفذ تهديداته.

وفي الأجواء يحلّق سؤال مُلِح ومقلق، ماذا لو حصلت الحرب المتوقعة مع المقاومة اللبنانية؟ هل تستطيع “إسرائيل” أن تصمد في هذه المواجهة؟ لا سيما أن كل التقديرات تقول إن المقاومة الفلسطينية قد تنضم إلى كل حرب بين “إسرائيل” والمقاومة اللبنانية، فتكون حرباً على جبهتين على الأقل.

في مثل هذه الحالة السياسية والأمنية، كان لا بد لحكومة الاحتلال أن توجّه عيون الرأي العام الإسرائيلي وأذهانه إلى موقع آخر، وأن تقوم بعمل يرفع أسهم الحكومة أمام جمهور الناخبين اليمينيين، والرأي العام الذي يزداد يمينية وتطرفاً. إذن، لا بد من القيام بضربة استباقية لإضعاف الجبهة الجنوبية ومنعها من المشاركة في أي حرب مع حزب الله. لتحقيق ذلك كان لا بد من تقييم وضع المقاومة في القطاع المحتل. هل تستطيع قوات الاحتلال أن تشن حملة عسكرية محدودة على الجهاد الإسلامي من دون تدخل سائر الفصائل، وحماس تحديداً؟ ومن يضمن ذلك؟ 

كما اعتادت حكومات “إسرائيل” السابقة، لا بد من سفك الدماء الفلسطينية على مذبح الانتخابات، ولا بد من إزهاق الأرواح الفلسطينية وتهديم الأبراج السكنية في غزة، لأن هذا ما يرضي الناخب الإسرائيلي الصهيوني المتعطّش إلى ذلك. لكن المشكلة التي كانت تواجه حكومة الاحتلال وجيشها، كيف ستخرج من المعركة؟ وهل تستطيع أن تستفرد بفصيل صغير تلقي عليه حممها البركانية لتشعر بالقوة بدلاً من الضعف، تعيد ثقة الجيش بنفسه وترضي جمهور الناخبين اليمينيين؟ ومن يضمن ذلك؟

أما الأهداف المعلنة، التي صرحت عنها الجهات الرسمية بعد اجتماع لبيد بالكابينيت الأمني، واستبعاد السياسي، يوم الأحد 31 تموز/يوليو، فتتمثل “بالاستعداد لمنع الجهاد الإسلامي من تنفيذ عملية رد عسكرية على اعتقال القيادي بسام السعدي من مخيم جنين”. وادعت الجهات الأمنية والسياسية أن لديهم معلومات بالتخطيط للرد، ولذلك قاموا بإجراءات منع تجوال للمستوطنين في مستوطنات “غلاف غزة”، المقامة على أراضي اللاجئين الفلسطينيين الذين يعيشون ببؤس في القطاع المحاصر منذ 15 سنة. وفي الحقيقة كان كل ذلك ضمن حلقات الاستعداد النفسي والسياسي لسيناريو العدوان المُبيّت.

في تقييم الظروف الملائمة للقيام بعدوان غادر

لتقييم الظروف المناسبة للعدوان وشق صف المقاومة، اعتمدت سلطات الاحتلال على ثلاثة مصادر من المعلومات: 

أولاً: خبرة ومتابعة وتقييم مراكز الأبحاث الإسرائيلية، ومنها مركز أبحاث الأمن القومي، وضمن ذلك، التمييز بين مصالح حماس من جهة، والجهاد الإسلامي من جهة ثانية، إضافة إلى مصلحة مصر والاستخبارات المصرية تحديداً في تقليم أظافر “الجهاد” من دون تدخل “حماس” وسائر فصائل المقاومة المسلحة، معتمدة في ذلك على دور الاستخبارات المصرية في معركة “سيف القدس”، وما تبعها من معارك صغيرة، الأخيرة فيها مسيرة الأعلام الاستفزازية في القدس القديمة، واقتحامات المستوطنين في حزيران/يونيو الماضي، ودور مصر وقطر في منع تدخل المقاومة من غزة. 

ثانياً: أما المصدر الثاني، فهو ما تستخلصه الاستخبارات من خلال مئات المحادثات غير المباشرة التي تجرى مع عمال فلسطينيين تم السماح لهم دخول “إسرائيل” والعمل فيها خلال الشهر الماضي، وبلغ عدد التصاريح 14 ألف تصريح. هذه المحادثات لا تجري من خلال تحقيق يجريه الشاباك مع العمال، إنما هي أحاديث، تبدو عادية، تجري بين المشغل الإسرائيلي والعامل الفلسطيني، أو بين صحافي إسرائيلي وعامل فلسطيني، لتصل إلى الباحثين في صفوف الشاباك مادة تضاف إلى التقييمات والأبحاث، تعزز فرضية أو ترفضها.

ثالثاً: الأهم من هذا المصدر وذاك التقييم المشترك مع الاستخبارات المصرية للأوضاع في غزة، وعلاقات الفصائل فيما بينها وقدرة الجمهور الفلسطيني على احتمال التضحيات، وقدرة مصر على ضبط إيقاع وردود المقاومة من غزة، وتدخلها في الوقت الملائم، لمنع تدحرج المعركة واتساعها وتورط قوات الاحتلال تالياً بما لم تكن مستعدة له. من هنا قال البيان الإسرائيلي الرسمي إن العدوان جاء بناء على توصيات القيادة العسكرية والشاباك، والمقصود هنا هم الباحثون الذي يتواصلون مع نظرائهم المصريين. وعليه، جاء التواصل الإسرائيلي المصري من اليوم الأول بعد اعتقال السعدي، وشن العدوان ضمن الأهداف المحددة له، كما راقب الطيران المسيّر تحركات القادة الفلسطينيين خلال لقائهم الاستخبارات المصرية حتى الساعة الأخيرة قبل العدوان، ويقول رئيس تحرير صحيفة “الأهرام”: “إن إسرائيل وعدت الاستخبارات المصرية أن تكون العملية العسكرية محدودة، وموجّهة ضد “الجهاد الإسلامي” فقط”.

دور الاستخبارات المصرية وغيرها

للتفصيل أكثر، يتمثل دور الاستخبارات المصرية وجهات عربية أخرى في ثلاثة مستويات ومراحل

أولاً: في تقييم مشترك مع الاستخبارات الإسرائيلية والباحثين المختصين بالظروف الداخلية في القطاع، وفي العلاقة بين قوى المقاومة ومصالح كل منها، لمعرفة ما إن كانت الظروف ملائمة لشن العدوان وإمكان تحقيق أهدافه. ولا يتورع “الخبراء”، العسكريون والأمنيون المصريون عن الإدلاء بتقييماتهم هذه على شاشات التلفزة الإسرائيلية أيضاً.

ثانياً: في ضبط إيقاع الرد من المقاومة، من خلال الضغوط والتهديدات.

ثالثاً: في الوصول إلى وقف إطلاق النار أو تهدئة، حين تحتاج “إسرائيل” إلى ذلك، وفق الشروط الإسرائيلية، لكن إخراج هذه النهاية يتطلب أن تبدو وكأنها مبادرة مصرية، تقوم بموجبها الاستخبارات المصرية بتقديم “ضمانات” إلى المقاومة، وقد ثبت من تجربة المعارك السابقة، أنها ضمانات فارغة، وهي مجرد تضليل للرأي العام العربي عامة والفلسطيني خاصة، لأن “إسرائيل” لا تقدم إلى مصر إلا الفتات الذي يحفظ ما وجهها. في النهاية، هي جهود مصرية تهدف إلى إرضاء السيد الأميركي والإسرائيلي، بحثاً عن مصالح مصرية ضيقة أو مصالح شخصية لهذه الشخصية أو تلك. 

ليس صحيحاً أن “إسرائيل” خدعت الاستخبارات المصرية، وهي تدعي في كل جولة أن “إسرائيل” خدعتها، وأن “إسرائيل” لم تفِ بوعودها، وفي تنفيذ الاتفاقيات، أين هي الاتفاقيات؟ إذا كان الأمر كذلك فلماذا تعلنون اتفاقيات وتفاهمات، وتعودون إلى تقديم الضمانات الفارغة؟ إن المشاركة الفعلية في تقييم الظروف الملائمة لشن العدوان يحتم المعرفة المسبّقة لنيات “إسرائيل” العدوانية.

من يراجع تصريحات المسؤولين الإسرائيليين والمصريين قبل العدوان وخلاله، وغداة وقف إطلاق النار، والتعبير عن رضاهم عن الدور المصري، لا بد أن يصل إلى هذه الحقيقة. وكان أكثر التصريحات توضيحاً ودلالة على الدور المصري، هو المديح الذي كاله الرئيس بايدن، بعد بضع ساعات من وقف إطلاق النار، للدور المصري والقطري في الوصول إلى وقف لإطلاق النار، مع التذكير بأن أميركا هي من أعطى “إسرائيل” الضوء الأخضر لشن هذا العدوان من خلال الإعلان عن إبلاغ غانتس نظيره الأميركي، أوستن، بذلك، ووقوف بايدن إلى جانب “إسرائيل” في عدوانها منذ اليوم الأول، بذريعة “الدفاع عن النفس”. فلو كانت أميركا محبة لوقف إطلاق النار، أو منع سفك الدماء الفلسطينية فعلاً، لما أعطت الضوء الأخضر للعدوان؟ 

في تقييم النتائج

الحقيقة أن “سرايا القدس” لم “تنتصر”، بالمعنى التكتيكي لجولة واحدة، على “إسرائيل”، لكنها أثبتت أن “الجهاد الإسلامي” قادر على الصمود، وعلى إدارة معركة دفاعية ومعنوية تحفظ وفاءه لأرواح الشهداء ودماء الجرحى وعذابات الأسرى في معتقلات العدو الصهيوني، ووحدة الساحات الفلسطينية. الجهاد كانت وحدها في وجه جيش قوي يتمتع بقدرات عسكرية كبيرة، بل يدّعي أنه من أقوى الجيوش في العالم، وهذا الصمود هو ما يقلق الخبراء الإسرائيليين في الوقت الحاضر. وتساءل عدد منهم، على شاشات التلفزة الإسرائيلية، كيف ستواجه “إسرائيل” حزب الله، وهو يمتلك قدرات عسكرية ولوجستية أضعاف أضعاف ما تمتلكه سرايا القدس؟ كيف ستواجه حزب الله، وهو غير محاصر من دولة “شقيقة”، ولا يخضع لأي ضغوط من استخبارات عربية موجَّهة من الولايات المتحدة و”إسرائيل”؟

في غضون ثلاثة أيام، وعلى الرغم من الخسارات الكبيرة التي تكبدها “سرايا القدس”، باغتيال القادة العسكريين الكبار منذ اللحظة الأولى للعدوان، وعلى الرغم من ضغوط “الأشقاء” العرب، وقدرات الطيران الحربي الإسرائيلي، إلا أن سرايا القدس استطاعت أن تطلق ما يقارب 1000 صاروخ باتجاه قوات العدو، أي بمعدل 300 صاروخ يومياً، وهذا يساوي المعدل اليومي لما أطلقته قوى المقاومة مجتمعةً في غزة إبّان العدوان الإسرائيلي في أيار/مايو 2021 المسمّى إسرائيلياً “حامي الأسوار”. ولم يكن هذا منتظراً قطّ.

علينا أن نفهم، أنه لم يحن وقت الانتصار بعد، وأننا ما زلنا في حدود الصمود في وجه العدوان الصهيوني المدعوم من الاستعمار والرجعية العربية التابعة للبيت الأبيض. ومع ذلك، على منظمة الجهاد الإسلامي أن تراجع تجربتها بموضوعية ومسؤولية لتجنب نقاط الضعف، وتعزيز نقاط القوة، وبذل جهود أكثر لفهم مخططات العدو وخطر علاقاته بالأنظمة العربية المطبّعة، وخصوصاً الاستخبارات المصرية. على المقاومة الفلسطينية عامة أن تراجع مواقفها من هذه المعركة تحديداً، ومن معارك أخرى، وأن تحذر كل الحذر من التعاون القائم بين الاستخبارات العربية والإسرائيلية برعاية أميركية، على العامل الفلسطيني في “إسرائيل” أن يحذر أحاديث تبدو بريئة، وهي في الحقيقة أحاديث خبيثة تهدف إلى استطلاع الراي العام الفلسطيني وظروف المقاومة، وعلى قوى المقاومة أن تتخذ كل الخطوات التي من شأنها التحرر من ضغوط وقيود “الأشقاء”… 

“من جرّب المجرّب كان عقله مخرّب”.

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International condemnation against Israel grows as Gaza blitz continues

Russia referred to the Israeli strikes as a ‘provocation’, and has urged all sides to exercise restraint

August 06 2022

The father of five-year old Palestinian Alaa Qadoum carries her body during her funeral in Gaza City on 5 August, 2022. (Photo credit: REUTERS/Ashraf Amra)

ByNews Desk- 

Many nations have issued condemnations of Israel’s brutal airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip that started on 5 August.

So far, Tel Aviv’s bombing campaign has left over 100 injured and caused the deaths of 13 Palestinians, including a five-year old girl and three commanders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Palestinian resistance groups have launched several rocket attacks in retaliation, targeting nearby illegal settlements.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, condemned on 6 August the escalation that “was provoked by Israeli air strikes,” adding that Moscow is deeply concerned over the breakout of large-scale conflict.

The official also called all sides to “exercise maximum restraint.”

Egypt has also condemned the attacks and warned against escalation, with an anonymous Egyptian security source telling Arab media: “We hope to reach a consensus to return to calm as soon as possible.”

Another Egyptian source revealed that a PIJ delegation may travel to Cairo on 6 August for talks with Egyptian officials.

In another strong condemnation of the Israeli aggression, Qatar called on the international community to “move urgently” to stop Israel’s continuous violence against civilians.

The Gulf state’s foreign ministry affirmed via statement the kingdom’s “firm position on the justice of the Palestinian cause, the legitimate rights of the brotherly Palestinian people, and the establishment of their independent state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Jordan also called on Israel to “immediately stop its aggression,” warning of the dangerous consequences of increased escalation.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan vehemently denounced Tel Aviv’s actions on Saturday, with the Taliban foreign ministry calling on the international community to perform its duty and prevent Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

On the same day, the Islamic Republic of Iran issued its own condemnation of the attacks on Gaza.

“In its last night’s crime, the Zionist regime once again showed its occupier and aggressor nature to the world, but the resistance of the people of Gaza will speed up the decline of this child-killing regime,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on the morning of 6 August.

A statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on 5 August “strongly” condemned the Israeli bombardment, referring to the loss of civilian life as “unacceptable,” and urging “restraint and common sense.”

Turkey has recently strengthened its diplomatic relationship with Israel after a long period of tension, and has reportedly been deporting members of the Hamas resistance faction at Tel Aviv’s request and in a bid to further improve relations with Israel.

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Exclusive: PIJ chief orders Al-Quds Brigades to act against ‘Israel’

5 Aug 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Al Mayadeen English 

Palestinian Islamic Jihad chief Ziyad Al-Nakhalah tells Al Mayadeen that the upcoming confrontation with “Tel Aviv” will have no red lines.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ziyad Al-Nakhalah

The Israeli occupation must expect fierce fighting from the Palestinian resistance without any truce, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Secretary-General Ziyad Al-Nakhalah told Al Mayadeen on Friday.

“Today is a day of victory […] today is a test for the Palestinian resistance against this Israeli aggression,” Al-Nakhalah said. “We are going ahead, and we ask Allah to grant success to the freedom fighters. Suffering will fall upon the Israelis.”

“The freedom fighters must band together as one, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad has no red lines. It will not stop, and there will be no mediation,” the prominent resistance figure underlined.

“We are in the midst of a true test against this aggression, and the Palestinian people must prove their ability to confront [the Israeli occupation],” he added.

Al-Nakhalah underscored Palestinian unity

Al-Nakhalah stressed that Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the PIJ, will band together with the other Palestinian resistance factions to confront the Israeli occupation’s aggression.

“I tell all the freedom fighters in Palestine that we must all fight as one,” he said, stressing that the Israeli occupation, the party that initiated the aggression, must be held fully responsible.

“There are no red lines in this battle, and I declare this before all the Palestinian people. Tel Aviv will bear the brunt of the Palestinian resistance’s rockets.”

“All the combatants of the Al-Quds Brigades: We will neither back down nor hesitate. This is a military order for our forces to act upon laid-out plan,” he said.

Israeli occupation naturally aggressive

The Israeli occupation is launching this aggression as Egypt mediates between Palestine and “Israel”, Al-Nakhalah highlighted, stressing that the resistance will fiercely retaliate to “Tel Aviv’s” aggression. “There will be a confrontation in which our people will emerge victorious.”

“The Israeli occupation is naturally aggressive, and we will retaliate fiercely to this aggression,” he told the Egyptian mediators.

“The confrontation started, and it is too early to talk about mediation after the fall of Palestinian martyrs,” he stressed. “We expect martyrs to fall and homes to be destroyed. This is a war that was imposed on us, and we will retaliate until the very end.”

Confrontation until freedom

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the PIJ chief said, will work to establish an equation of deterrence with the Israeli occupation. “We are ready to confront and continue until that is solidified.”

However, Al-Nakhalah said that he was “not talking about equations at the moment. We are in the middle of a battle, and we will continue to fight until our people are free.”

“‘Israel’ is trying to make it seem like the battle is against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and I say it’s an open confrontation against all the Palestinian people,” he said.

“Today is historic; we either confront united or pay the price separated,” Al-Nakhalah added. “What we need is unity and solidarity against the aggression.”

PA know their duties

The occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip are united, he said. “The Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank will find means to fight. All of our people are fighting the same battle.”

“The Palestinian Authority knows its duties, and I am asking all the Palestinian freedom fighters, especially those in Fatah, to carry out their duty.”

“We are at the beginning of the confrontation, and God willing, we will bear its responsibility together. The moment is decisive. We have to fight and be steadfast on the battlefield,” Al-Nakhalah stressed.

“We are amid the first few hours of an open battle, and we can’t currently talk about the causes of our allies,” he said.

All Israeli cities to be struck

“According to our arrangement, all of the freedom fighters will carry out their duties, and we will strike all the Israeli occupation’s cities. What is happening is an extension of the battle of the Seif Al-Quds, and God willing, we will achieve what we did not in Seif Al-Quds. This is an existential battle,” he stressed.

“The pressures exerted on the Palestinian people are not new, and the resistance will carry out its duties and do all it can against the aggression,” Al-Nakhalah said.

“There is a regional trend, and there are regimes that want to be slaves for the occupation,” Al-Nakhalah stressed.

“Palestine, Al-Aqsa, and our people deserve sacrifice. Palestine is our land, and we will defend our rights. The resistance forces will not be broken,” Al-Nakhalah concluded.

Iran Will Respond in Kind to Any Measure Against Its National Security

July 18, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

A senior Iranian diplomat said the Islamic Republic will respond in kind to any measure against its national security from any neighboring country, in a veiled reference to the countries that have normalized their relations with the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime.

“Targeting our security from neighboring countries will be met with a response to those countries and a direct response to ‘Israel’,” Kamal Kharrazi, the head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, warned in an interview with Al Jazeera news network published on Sunday.

Tehran has emphasized that it pursues a policy of improving relations with neighboring countries, while at the same time making it clear that the countries, which are normalizing their relations with ‘Israel’ and allowing the occupying regime to establish a foothold in the region, are betraying the Palestinian cause and bringing instability to the region.

Kharrazi, however, said ‘Israel’ is in a phase of weakness and US President Joe Biden’s support for the regime would fail to bring it back to the fore.

Kharrazi said Iran has carried out extensive military drills to demonstrate its capability to hit targets deep inside the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity in the event “Iran’s vital and sensitive facilities are targeted.”

During the interview, Kharrazi, an ex-foreign minister, also said Tehran calls for launching regional talks to be attended by important countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, and other states.

He noted that Qatar has made important proposals on holding dialog among regional countries and that Tehran has expressed its full readiness in this regard.

The sole solution to regional crises, according to the senior diplomat, is the formation of a regional dialog forum in order to find settlements to political and security disputes among regional countries.

Kharrazi also welcomed recent remarks by Saudi officials about extending a hand of friendship to Iran, saying Tehran is ready to enter into dialog with Riyadh in order to restore bilateral relations to normalcy.

he also rejected allegations that Iran has intentions to make nuclear weapons, saying this is while the Islamic Republic possesses the technical capabilities, such as increasing the level of uranium enrichment from 20 percent to 60 percent.

The diplomat dismissed any possibility of talks about “our missile program and our regional policies,” saying any negotiation on the two subjects would mean submission to the enemy.

Regarding the indirect negotiations with the United States to revive the 2015 Iran deal, he said it is difficult to conduct a direct dialog with Washington in light of a thick wall of mistrust due to hostile US policies toward the Islamic Republic.

He added that there are no guarantees that the US would continue to honor the Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], if the deal is restored, and “this prevents any possible agreement.”

Iran and the US concluded two days of indirect talks, mediated by the European Union, in the Qatari capital of Doha late last month in an attempt to break the stalemate in reviving the JCPOA.

At the end of the talks, Iran and the EU, which plays a mediatory role, said they would keep in touch “about the continuation of the route and the next stage of the talks.”

The talks in Doha followed seven rounds of inconclusive negotiations in the Austrian capital of Vienna, as the US insisted on refusing to undo its so-called maximum pressure policy against Tehran.

Biden in Jeddah: mending fences, not building bridges

President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia will likely end in face saving gestures, but no major geopolitical concessions

July 12 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Kristian Alexander and Giorgio Cafiero

Before 2019, never had a US president referred to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a ‘pariah’ on his campaign trail. Joe Biden’s Saudi-bashing as a presidential candidate, plus a host of other delicate issues, have fueled significant friction between the White House and Riyadh.

Today, relations between the US and Saudi Arabia are probably at their worst since the events of September 11, 2001, stymied by a major trust deficit in the relationship between Biden’s White House and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS).

By the same token, the Biden administration views Saudi Arabia as a critical partner in the Persian Gulf and continues to sign massive arms deals with the kingdom.

For all the rhetoric on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose brutal murder MbS is said to have sanctioned, team Biden never imposed state-level sanctions against Saudi Arabia, nor on the crown prince himself.

Meanwhile, the administration praises the role of Riyadh in the Arab world’s trend toward normalization with Israel.

Within this context, Biden’s first presidential trip to West Asia – in which he will go to Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Saudi Arabia this week – will be important to White House efforts to mend fences with Riyadh and salvage this decades-old partnership.

In a US mid-term election year that will likely lead to significant gains for his Republican opposition, Biden seeks to score major foreign policy points in Jeddah that can be used for domestic consumption back in Washington this summer.

Incentivizing Biden to convince the Saudis to increase their oil production are the millions of US motorists struggling with high gas prices and the many average American voters grappling with generational high inflation.

Energy prices are therefore extremely important to Biden’s controversial trip to the kingdom. Yet, this month’s summit in Saudi Arabia is unlikely to give Americans much relief at the gas pump between now and the elections in November.

Shifting the narrative from oil to peace

Determined to ensure that the US public does not tie this tour’s success specifically to a Saudi oil production hike – which could easily result in the Biden administration’s humiliation – the White House message is that this visit to Jeddah largely concerns peace in the region.

As Biden wrote in the Washington Post, avoiding a future in which the region is “coming apart through conflict” is of “paramount importance” to the White House, and he will “pursue diplomacy intensely – including through face-to-face meetings – to achieve our goals.”

According to Biden, if the region comes together through “diplomacy and cooperation” there is a lower chance of “violent extremism” threatening US national security or “new wars that could place new burdens on US military forces and their families.”

This trip comes at a time in which there is a fragile truce in Yemen, where the Saudis and Emiratis have waged a devastating seven-year war. Although the conflict remains unresolved, the drastic reduction in violence and increased humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country have given millions of Yemenis desperately needed relief.

The truce in Yemen has been possible in part because of Saudi and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member support, which makes it easier for Biden to justify his visit to Jeddah. After all, it was the Khashoggi affair and the conflict in Yemen that ‘Biden-the-candidate’ cited as reasons for his ‘pariah’ treatment of Riyadh.

Thus, moving toward a settlement to this conflict, in which the last two US presidents were heavily involved in escalating, helps Biden save face as he makes this trip. If the president leaves the kingdom with some guarantees from the Saudis about their commitment to future truce extensions, that could be interpreted as a win for Biden.

“The US administration is beginning to realize that President Biden can’t just ignore Saudi Arabia and that it’s in the best interest of the two countries to start working together, not just to reduce oil prices and pressure on US consumers, but also to further the stability of the Middle East and contain [the Iranian] threat whether in Lebanon or Yemen,” Najah Al-Otaibi, an associate fellow at the Riyadh-based King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, said in an interview with The Cradle.

Expanding on her point, Al-Otaibi said that “Saudi Arabia has recently agreed to extend the United Nations-mediated ceasefire with Yemen, and Prince Mohammed [bin Salman] played a critical role in this move, according to Biden’s officials who thought it is a step forward to solving the conflict.”

Last month, Biden clarified that, for him, bolstering Israel’s security was a major motivation for the trip to Saudi Arabia. Despite some speculation among pundits that Saudi Arabia will soon join the Abraham Accords, this is highly doubtful, especially with King Salman still on the throne. However, with MbS “the reformer” as future king, normalization between “the Land of the Two Holy Mosques” and Israel is all the more likely.

Insecurity and an ‘Arab NATO’

Even if Riyadh remains outside the Abraham Accords, there is much that Saudi Arabia can do to make it easier for other Arab-Muslim countries to normalize with Tel Aviv, and for the kingdom’s allies, already signatories to the Abraham Accords, to build on their overt relations with the Israelis.

While in Jeddah, Biden will likely push the Saudis to take some more baby steps toward a de facto normalization with Israel, even if it remains unofficial. One way for the kingdom to do so would be by granting permission for Israeli planes to transit Saudi airspace on their way to the UAE, Bahrain, and other countries.

Other avenues could include bolstering involvement by Israeli technology firms in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, Saudi–Israeli military cooperation, and more visits by high-ranking Israeli officials to the kingdom that could build on former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s November 2020 visit to Neom.

Shoring up US–Arab partnerships in preparation for the increasingly likely scenario that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks with Iran will collapse in acrimony is a high priority for Biden.

Against the backdrop of Iran’s nuclear advancements as negotiations further stall, Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states attending the GCC+3 summit are preparing for a post-JCPOA future in which friction between the US and Israel, on one side, and the Islamic Republic, on the other, appears set to intensify in the coming weeks and months.

“I think Iran, not oil, is the main issue as Iran moves closer and closer to having all the parts it needs to put together a nuclear bomb,” David Ottaway, a Middle East fellow at the Wilson Center, told The Cradle. “Only a revival of the Iranian nuclear deal can stop that trend, and nobody is optimistic about that happening now.”

Although Riyadh and Tehran have been in direct talks via Baghdad since April 2021, the Saudi leadership wants assurances from team Biden that Washington remains committed to the kingdom’s security regardless of the fate of the 2015 nuclear accord, and that the US will work with its Arab allies to counter Iran in regional hotspots, such as Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Yet, mindful of the little trust Saudi officials have in the Biden administration, it is difficult to imagine the US president gaining enough confidence from Riyadh during this upcoming trip vis-à-vis Iran-related issues. As Ottaway told The Cradle:

“I suspect [Biden] will declare another US commitment to defending the kingdom from its foreign enemies, but after Trump’s failure to take any action after Iranian attacks on Saudi oil facilities in 2019, he needs to say or do something to back up [what are] just words.”

In recent weeks, there has been much discussion about an Arab NATO that includes Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other US-friendly Arab states. Biden will seek to advance this initiative as the west and its allies and partners in West Asia remain worried about Iran’s regional foreign policy agenda.

“[Biden] wishes to reaffirm the historical strength and enduring reciprocity of the alliance, but also to press Riyadh on cooperating more on the energy side – particularly as the US moves as well to create a region-wide defense platform, the so-called Middle East NATO,” Sean Yom, an associate professor at Temple University, pointed out in an interview with The Cradle.

“There is, however, one sticking point that will probably cause a difference: the Saudis continue to desire a strong US presence in the Gulf, one that can police Iran and intervene in a potential militarized conflict, whereas Biden clearly is continuing his predecessors’ anti-interventionist stance,” added Yom.

Nonetheless, many experts have doubts about an Arab NATO ever manifesting into a real alliance, and expect the initiative to remain merely conceptual. This assessment accounts for the opposition of some Arab states to an open military coordination with Israel, as some GCC states, like the Sultanate of Oman, do not want to join an alliance aimed at weakening or intimidating Tehran.

There are also logistical hurdles which would make it difficult for these state militaries to integrate in a NATO-like manner.

“Biden’s plan for a US-backed ‘Arab NATO’ of GCC states plus Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan seems as unlikely to succeed as Trump’s Middle East Strategic Alliance, which never got off the ground,” Ottaway says.

Virtue-signalling human rights

Although Biden’s administration has determined that the moral costs of this presidential trip do not outweigh the perceived benefits, the Khashoggi affair remains a delicate issue – though significantly less so now than in the immediate aftermath of the grisly murder in October 2018.

MbS wants the US government to drop the Khashoggi issue, but elements within Biden’s party maintain that any interaction between him and the crown prince would be “profoundly disturbing.” To placate more progressive politicians, high-profile media pundits, and human rights activists who criticize Biden for “legitimizing” MbS on this trip, the president will seek some human rights concessions, like those which his administration secured at the start of his presidency.

If Biden is successful on this front, he could return to the US claiming that his visit to the kingdom helped advance, rather than hinder, the cause of human rights. Such an achievement would help Biden save face and tell his base that he did not abandon certain principles or so-called ‘American values’ by meeting MbS in the Saudi kingdom.

“His campaign trail rhetoric, like all political campaign rhetoric, was never going to bear much resemblance to executive policy and official diplomacy,” cautioned Yom. “But I do think Biden will exit the meetings by claiming that he squarely put human rights concerns, and potentially even democratic awareness, onto the agenda for Riyadh.”

Yet, whether the Saudi leadership feels it is under sufficient pressure to release any political prisoners, or provide liberties to some recently released Saudis who are banned from traveling, remains to be seen.

From the perspective of the Saudi government, the US and other western governments are inappropriately virtue signaling when raising human rights concerns in the kingdom. The view from Riyadh is that these issues are internal issues that do not concern Washington or European capitals.

Saudi and other Arab officials will often point to US sins in Iraq or police brutality against African-Americans to highlight elements of hypocrisy on the part of US politicians lecturing the Saudi government on the human rights front.

MbS reportedly “shouting” at US national security adviser Jake Sullivan after the high-ranking official brought up the Khashoggi case underscores the effect of these discussions on the leaders of Saudi Arabia.

The grander geopolitical picture 

Biden will visit Saudi Arabia amid a period of increasing east–west bifurcation and intensifying great power competition. Although neither China nor Russia is on the verge of replacing the US as security guarantor of Saudi Arabia or any GCC states, US influence in the Gulf has declined with Beijing and Moscow gaining greater clout at Washington’s expense.

Biden’s trip to Jeddah aims to reassert US influence in the Persian Gulf and attempt to prevent Riyadh and other Arab capitals from moving closer to the Chinese and Russians. An objective of Biden’s is to bring GCC states back into the geopolitical orbit of the west, while slowing down the growth of their partnerships with Beijing and Moscow.

“There were undeniable hiccups in the relationship last year, relating to halting support to the Yemen war, aggressive rhetoric against MbS, and more scrutiny on arms sales,” Yom explained.

“Fundamentally, none of these factors perturbed the great structural core of the US–Saudi alliance, built upon mutual perceptions of energy security, sovereign protections, and regional hegemony. But those hiccups were enough to make the decision-making circles in Riyadh a bit uncomfortable, enough at least to entertain Russian and Chinese overtures for military and energy cooperation.”

The White House and the entire US foreign policy establishment have grave concerns about Sino–Saudi ballistic missile cooperation and the extent to which the Chinese and Emiratis are making their defense and security relations more robust.

It is safe to say that while in Jeddah, team Biden will make it clear that the US will withhold future military assistance if GCC states move militarily closer to China. The extent to which such pressure has any impact on Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s relationships with Beijing remains an open question.

Nonetheless, team Biden must understand that this visit will occur against the backdrop of serious tensions between the US and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has grown frustrated with many aspects of Washington’s agenda in the Biden era.

The Saudi government’s view is that Biden is an ’Obama 2.0’ – a perspective that is not unreasonable when mindful of how many Obama administration veterans, including Biden himself, are serving in the White House.

By moving closer to China and Russia, the Saudis are sending a message, loud and clear, to Washington that Riyadh has other options on the international stage as the world moves towards multipolarity with more Arab statesmen perceiving the US as a power that is withdrawing from West Asia.

Riyadh can exaggerate the extent to which the kingdom has grown closer to Beijing and Moscow to gain leverage over the US and secure more concessions from Washington. That is likely to continue, and Biden would be making a mistake in placating the Saudis in every instance to merely try to stop Riyadh from tilting closer to China and Russia.

Simultaneously, Saudi Arabia is showing itself to be increasingly confident and Biden’s visit to the kingdom will add to Riyadh’s sense of being emboldened, giving the Saudi leadership more reason to pursue its own interests in ways that sometimes align more closely with Beijing and Moscow’s foreign policy objectives than those of western powers.

Despite these geopolitical tensions, the Biden administration and Al-Saud rulers both value Washington and Riyadh’s decades-old partnership, and neither side wants to abandon it. Much anger and a significant trust deficit, however, have built up between these two countries.

Biden will not be leaving Saudi Arabia later this month with all these issues resolved. But the dialogue in Jeddah has the potential to begin a process of mending fences.

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

Egypt demands ‘Israel’ to verify credibility of 1967 war reports

10 Jul 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Media outlets are circulating news about Egyptian graves west of Al-Quds, which date back to the 1967 war, and Egypt wants to know more.

Egypt demands ‘Israel’ to verify credibility of 1967 war reports

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry assigned the Egyptian Embassy in “Tel Aviv” to investigate the truth about the mass grave of Egyptian soldiers unraveled recently west of occupied Al-Quds.

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the Egyptian Embassy in “Tel Aviv” has been assigned to communicate with the Israeli occupation authorities to investigate the truth behind what is being circulated in the media regarding the discovery of a mass grave that holds the bodies of Egyptian soldiers killed in the October 1967 war and to keep the Ministry updated. 

The Ministry also demanded a prompt investigation to verify the credibility of what is being circulated. 

A statement issued by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry read that in response to a question about reports that came up in Israeli media in relation to historical facts that occurred in the 1967 war, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ahmed Hafez, stated that the Egyptian Embassy in “Tel Aviv” was assigned to communicate with the Israeli occupation authorities to investigate the truth.

In the past two days, the Israeli journalist Yossi Melman, an expert in security affairs, and who writes for the Israeli newspapers Yedioth Ahronoth and Haaretz, revealed that “Egyptian soldiers who were burned alive in the 1967 war were buried in mass graves that do not bear any signs, in a clear violation of the laws of war and with no mention of their killing,” with estimates pointing that the number could amount to tens of killed soldiers. 

Haaretz reported that there is a mass grave containing the bodies of 80 Egyptian soldiers, 20 of who were burnt alive, and whose killing was not announced during the 1967 war.

According to Melman, 25 Egyptian soldiers were burned alive after Israeli forces shelled them using phosphorous bombs, while other Egyptian soldiers were killed in the crossfire, bringing the total number of deaths to 80.

The 1967 war broke out between the Israeli occupation, on the one hand, and Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, on the other, on June 5, 1967. This war lasted for six days and ended with “Israel” occupying Sinai, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan.

Hamas’ return ticket to Damascus won’t come cheap

The Palestinian resistance movement’s complicated relationship with Syria is headed for a reset, but it won’t be on their terms.

July 06 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Despite excited media reports of a Hamas-Syria rapprochement, nothing is finalized: the Palestinian resistance movement has much more to prove still.

By The Cradle’s Palestine Correspondent

On 21 June, two unnamed Hamas sources told Reuters that the Palestinian resistance movement had decided to restore ties with Damascus following a decade-long rift after Hamas expressed support for the Syrian opposition.

The news caused a row, and it seems that this may have been the purpose behind its leak.

Shortly after the report, dozens of websites, satellite channels and media commentators in Turkey, Qatar, and the UK who are sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood – the political Islamist group to which Hamas belongs ideologically – distanced themselves from Hamas, which has neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

However, comments made by the head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, has added credence to these claims.

In a speech before the National Islamic Conference in Beirut, on 25 June, Haniyeh said, “The time has come after ten years to make historic reconciliations in the Islamic nation.”

“What is happening in the region today is very dangerous as Israel is paving the way through military and security alliances to fight Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas,” he added.

So how accurate are the reports about “high-profile” secret meetings between Hamas and the Syrians? Is there a relationship between Haniyeh’s visit to Beirut and the timing of these revelations?

The heavy legacy of Khaled Meshaal

When Hamas left Syria over a decade ago, the office of Khaled Meshaal, who was the head of the movement’s Political Bureau at the time, justified the decision as stemming from “moral premises.”

They contended that the Hamas movement stands with the people in deciding who will rule them, saying “even if the ruler supports our right, we will not support his falsehood.” This reverberated within the movement, and the majority of its popular base supported “Syrian revolution” in the face of “the regime that is slaughtering its people.”

That was back in 2011, when the so-called Arab Spring helped sweep the Muslim Brotherhood (MB or Ikhwan) and its affiliates into power in Egypt and Tunisia, and paved the way for the MB-aligned Syrian armed opposition to take control of the outskirts of Damascus. .

But only four years later (2015), the picture was completely reversed: Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi was ousted in a Gulf-backed military coup; Tunisian President Kais Saied turned against the Brotherhood’s Ennahda party and removed it completely from the political scene. And Damascus gradually regained control over the vital parts of Syria.

In the wider region, the regime of Omar Al-Bashir fell in Sudan, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence in Libya, Yemen, Jordan and Kuwait was severely diminished.

New leadership, a new direction

It was inevitable that these significant region-wide changes would also transform Hamas’ leadership to reflect the new political scene. In 2017, Ismail Haniyeh was appointed head of the Political Bureau, while that same year, Yahya Al-Sinwar, who was released from Israeli prisons in 2011, became the leader of the movement in Gaza.

Seen as a hawk, Sinwar relies on the absolute support of the movement’s military arm, the Al-Qassam Brigades, and as such, introduced a new political approach to Hamas’ regional relations.

Although Sinwar’s first move was to reorganize relations with Cairo after a four-year estrangement, by far his most important change was to revive Hamas’ relations with the Axis of Resistance, making it the movement’s top foreign policy priority.

Within a few years, the Hamas leader in Gaza had re-established full relations with Iran and Hezbollah, but its return to Damascus still remains the biggest obstacle.

In order to thaw the ice with Syria, Iran mediated first, followed by Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and more recently, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). This deadlock was not broken until after the Hamas operation “Sword of Jerusalem” in May 2021.

Testing the waters

In that same month, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad responded to a greeting from Al Qassam Brigades, conveyed by the Secretary General of PIJ Ziad Al-Nakhaleh, with a corresponding greeting. After that, contacts began to increase between Syrian officials and Hamas leaders.

Syrian sources informed The Cradle that a year ago it was decided to “reduce security measures against a number of Hamas members in Syria, release a number of detainees, and reveal the fate of other missing persons.”

But that didn’t achieve normalcy between Syria and Hamas either. There are those within the latter, it appears, who continue to sabotage progress made with Damascus.

To understand the dynamics of this particular relationship – present and its future – it is necessary to review its stages throughout the years.

From Amman to Damascus

Hamas began paving the way for its relationship with Syria in the early 1990s through visits made by its official Musa Abu Marzouk. In 1992, Mustafa Al-Ledawi was appointed as the head of an unofficial office for the Hamas in Damascus.

The great leap occurred with the visit of the founder of Hamas, the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, to Damascus in 1998. This official visit, and the warm reception accorded Yassin, constituted a huge breakthrough in relations, after which the late President Hafez Al-Assad authorized Hamas’ official presence in Syria, providing it with political and security facilities and logistical and material support.

Despite previous bad blood between Damascus and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, notably in regard to the Hama massacre in 1982, there were several prudent reasons for the Syrian government and Hamas to collaborate.

One reason can be traced to the rivalry between Hafez Assad and the late Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat, who sided with the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War (1990–91) after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on 2 August, 1990.

On 21 November, 1999, a plane carrying Hamas’ then-political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal landed at Damascus airport, after being expelled from Jordan and refused a reception by many Arab capitals.

Since then, a number of political bureau members relocated to Damascus, and Hamas’ activities in Syria intensified. Between 2000 and 2010, the relationship further strengthened over several events, including the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the 2005 withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon, the 2006 July war between Israel and Hezbollah, and most importantly, the Israeli aggression against Gaza in 2008.

Syrian support

Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar, who was interviewed by The Cradle in Gaza, talks about an important detail that the media did not mention at the time. When Hamas formed its first government in Gaza in 2007, in which Zahar was foreign minister, “Syria was the only Arab country that recognized the diplomatic red passport issued from Gaza.”

Zahar says: “The Syrian leadership gave us everything. On my first visit to Damascus, we were able to solve the problem of hundreds of Palestinian refugees stuck on the Syrian-Iraqi borders, and Syria adopted the Palestinian calling code (+970), and expressed its willingness to provide support to the elected Palestinian government. For that, it faced an Arab, international, and American war.”

Today, Zahar is the designated official tasked by Sinwar to revive the relationship with Damascus. This was confirmed by sources in Hamas, who said that he traveled to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage, and may head from there to Damascus.

These details are meaningful: it means Egypt is spared the censure of allowing Zahar to travel to Syria, and would avoid an awkward situation for Cairo in front of the US, Israelis and Gulf Arabs.

From Damascus to Doha and Ankara

The Syrian crisis that erupted in March 2011 put Hamas in a unique bind of its own making. Fellow Palestinian Islamists in PIJ, for example, did not take a radical position on the “revolution” from 2011 to 2017, and were content with maintaining their offices in Damascus, although its political and military leadership relocated to Beirut due to deteriorating security conditions.

On the other hand, Hamas issued its first statement regarding the Syrian crisis on 2 April, 2011, in which it affirmed its support for the Syrian people and leadership, and considered that “Syria’s internal affairs concern the brothers in Syria… We hope to overcome the current circumstances in order to achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people, and preserve Syria’s stability and its internal cohesion, and strengthening its role in the line of confrontation and opposition.”

This wishy-washy statement did not hide the hostile stance of the movement’s members and elites, who all adopted the anti-Syrian narrative. On 5 November, 2011, the Syrian security forces stormed the offices of Hamas, confiscated its assets, and shuttered them.

In early 2012, Meshaal traveled to Doha, Qatar, before holding a scheduled meeting with Bashar Al-Assad. Hamas declared that the meeting “will not be useful.”

Hamas and the opposition

On 8 December, 2012, the movement burned bridges with Damascus when Meshaal and Haniyeh raised the flag of the “Syrian revolution” during a celebration marking the movement’s launch in the Gaza Strip in front of tens of thousands of their supporters.

In a parade held during the celebration, a number of members of the Al-Qassam Brigades wore the opposition flag on their backs.

The Syrian government’s reaction was no less restrained. Assad accused Hamas of actively participating in the war against the Syrian state by supporting Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra, and by providing instructions to opposition factions on ways to dig tunnels and fortify them to withstand aerial bombardment.

Other opposition militant groups such as Bait Al-Maqdis, Faylaq Al-Rahman and Army of Huda announced that they were affiliated with Hamas.

Once an Ikhwani, always an Ikhwani

In 2016, Assad said in an interview with Syrian newspaper Al-Watan: “We supported Hamas not because they are Muslim Brotherhood, but rather we supported them on the grounds that they are resistance. In the end, it was proven that the Ikhwani (member of Muslim Brotherhood) is Ikhwani wherever he puts himself, and from the inside remains a terrorist and hypocrite.”

All this may seem a thing of the past, but it still affects the formation of a new relationship between the two parties, especially after the return of turncoat Meshaal and his team a year ago to important leadership positions in Hamas.

Although the majority of the movement’s leadership has changed, the old legacy of Meshaal still weighs heavily on everyone, especially in Damascus. There are many in Syria who still warn the “wound is open;” that Hamas has not yet closed it, but rather wants a “free return.”

Understanding Hamas’ structure

Before explaining Hamas’ recent decision to restore ties with Syria, it is necessary to know how the movement is run to ensure representation and accountability. Hamas has a Shura Council of 15 members, chosen in elections in which cadres of certain organizational ranks participate.

These cadres choose their representatives in the local advisory councils from different regions (West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, territories occupied in 1948, and prisons). As for members of Hamas’ base, they elect their representatives in the General Consultative Council, which in turn elects the Political Bureau.

Despite this ‘healthy democracy,’ the position on Syria produced two contradictory currents:

The first current is led by Meshaal, who was head of the Political Bureau until 2017. It includes Ahmed Youssef, a former adviser to Haniyeh, and Nayef Rajoub, one of the most prominent leaders of Hamas in the West Bank.

The second current has no specific leader, but Zahar was the public face before Sinwar joined him.

Between these two viewpoints, Ismail Haniyeh and Musa Abu Marzouk maintain a state of ‘pragmatism’ by taking a middle position between the Qatar-Turkey axis and the Axis of Resistance.

Although the decision to leave Syria was taken with the full approval of the members of the Shura Council and members of the Political Bureau, the entire burden of the decision was placed on Meshaal. The man, who was a personal friend of Assad and Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah, became blacklisted by the Axis of Resistance.

Meshaal’s influence

All prior efforts to restore relations between Hamas and Syria were a “waste of time” as long as Meshaal was at the helm of the movement. This was not only the opinion of the Syrians, but of many Iranians as well.

In 2015, for example, when there were media reports about efforts to restore Hamas-Syrian relations, the Iranian Tabnak website (supervised by General Mohsen Rezaei, a leader in the Revolutionary Guards and currently one of the advisors to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei) launched a scathing attack against Meshaal.

At that time, Meshaal had refused to visit Tehran if he was not received at the highest levels – that is – to meet specifically with Khamenei. The Tabnak website wrote: “Meshaal and the Hamas leaders lined up two years ago on the side of the international terrorists in Syria… They are now setting conditions for the restoration of relations between Hamas and Iran as if Iran did not have any conditions.”

Since that time, Meshaal and his team have remained staunchly reluctant to even talk about restoring relations with Damascus. In addition to their loyalty (to some extent) to Turkey and Qatar, they were aware that reviving relations would weaken their organizational position within Hamas, and contribute to increasing the influence of their rivals.

On the other hand, these rivals remained weak until 2017, as Meshaal managed to marginalize Mahmoud Al-Zahar who did not receive any influential positions.

Re-joining the Resistance Axis

The formation of the new Political Bureau meant there were now a large number of officials who were not involved in any public positions on the Syrian crisis – such as Sinwar, Saleh Al-Arouri, and Osama Hamdan, who maintained a balanced relationship with all parties.

Zahar told The Cradle that Sinwar was “convinced” of his theses about the shape of the “last battle with Israel.” He added: “I spoke with Abu Ibrahim (Sinwar) for a long time about restoring the bond with the components of the nation that have hostility to Israel, specifically Hezbollah, Syria and Iran, and this is the pillar of Hamas’ foreign policy in the future.”

Nevertheless, Zahar believes that Damascus “will refuse to deal with the movement’s leadership, which took the lead during the war.” But it is likely that the Syrians will accept to deal with him personally, which he will seek during his forthcoming visit.

What’s Next?

Well-informed sources in Hamas revealed to The Cradle that the movement’s Political Bureau met this month and made the decision to return to Syria, despite Meshaal’s objection.

The resolution has two aims: first, to build a resistance front in the “ring countries” surrounding Palestine; and second, to establish a maritime line of communication between Gaza and the port of Latakia, in Syria.

The sources also revealed that Jamil Mezher, who was recently elected deputy secretary general of the PFLP, conveyed a message from Sinwar to the Syrian leadership calling for the restoration of relations between the two parties.

After his visit to Damascus, Mezher met with Haniyeh in Beirut to discuss the results. Haniyeh also met Nasrallah, as well as Ziad Al-Nakhaleh in an expanded meeting of the leaderships of Hamas and the PIJ in the Lebanese capital. All these events took place in one week.

According to Hamas sources, Haniyeh informed Nasrallah that the movement has unanimously taken an official decision to restore relations with Damascus. The two sides also discussed the demarcation of the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel.

The sources confirm that “Hamas is ready to simultaneously target gas-stealing platforms from the Gaza sea, in the event that Hezbollah targets an exploration and extraction vessel in the Karish field.”

Hamas sources, as well as an informed Syrian source, however, deny holding any recent new meetings between the two parties. The Syrian source reveals that meetings sponsored by Islamic Jihad were held last year.

What does Syria stand to gain?

On the other hand, Damascus has its reasons for postponing the return of this relationship. Of course, internal reasons can be overlooked if Bashar Al-Assad himself makes the decision.

But it is the current regional situation and the re-formation of alliances that worries the Syrian leadership the most.

It is true that Assad the son, like his father, has learned the ropes in dealing with the MB, but now he has no need for a new headache caused by the return of Hamas. There is no great benefit from this return except in one case: the normalization of Syrian relations with Turkey, Qatar, or both.

On Syria’s terms

Only in this scenario, can bridges be re-built with Hamas. But the conditions for this are currently immature, as this normalization will be at the expense of Syria’s relationship with its ally Russia, whether in the issue of gas supplies to Europe or stopping the military operation that Ankara is threatening against Kurdish terrorists in northern Syria.

Syria, which has already improved its relations with the UAE, and is currently working to improve its relations with Saudi Arabia and Jordan, will not include a “losing card” in its stack of cards now.

It will also not compete with Egypt over a file – the relationship with Hamas – which Cairo considers its monopoly in the region.

Also, Damascus is not in the midst of a clash of any kind with the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah movement, which took advantage of the exit of Hamas to consolidate their position in the Syrian capital and improve their relationship with Assad.

However, when news broke about the possible resumption of Hamas-Syrian relations, this time Damascus did not launch an attack on the movement and did not comment negatively on the news of the rapprochement and the restoration of the relations – as it did previously.

There is no doubt that the battle of the “Sword of Jerusalem” and the presence of a new leadership in Hamas’ Political Bureau has thawed the ice significantly. But the answer to when full rapprochement will be achieved is a decision likely to be made between Assad and Nasrallah.

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

Algeria: 60 years of endless support for the Palestinian cause

July 5, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net + Agencies

By Ahmad Karakira 

Algeria has always demonstrated unconditional support for the country of Palestine and the Palestinian cause, which dates back to fighting “Israel” and helping Egypt claim back Sinai in the 1973 October War.

Algeria’s unconditional support for the Palestinian cause

On July 5, 1962, after 132 years of French colonialism, Algeria declared its independence. The Evian agreements of March 18, 1962, ended the war between France and the Algerian National Liberation Army (ALN), and a referendum of self-determination took place on the first of July, 1962.

The results of the referendum came in favor of transferring power from the French to the Algerian authorities on July 3, ending decades of occupation, settler colonialism, and massacres.

The date – July 5 – was deliberately chosen by the Algerian government in reference to July 5, 1830, when the city of Algiers was occupied by France.

The seven-year war between the French occupier and the Algerian resistance left around one million Algerian martyrs on the path of Algeria’s freedom and liberation.

Endless stories about heroic epic battles by the Algerian resistance against Western colonialism can be recounted on the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence.

However, this piece aims to shed light on Algeria’s endless support for Palestine, the Palestinian cause, and fellow Arab states against all forms of oppression and occupation since the north African country gained its liberation through resistance.

“We are with Palestinians, be they the oppressed or the oppressors”

To begin with, Palestinians supported the Algerian Revolution from 1954-1962 and showed solidarity through organizing fundraisers for Algeria.

Despite some Arab states shamefully signing normalization agreements with the Israeli occupation in exchange for some benefits, Algeria has strongly opposed such deals, considering normalization with the occupation as a betrayal to the Arabs and the Palestinian cause.

In the early 1970s, former Algerian President Houari Boumediene said his famous phrase, “We are with Palestinians, be they the oppressed or the oppressors.”

It is noteworthy that similar to the official Algerian stance on Palestine, Algerians, according to the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, oppose normalizing ties with the Israeli occupation with a 99% rate.

One would wonder about the secret behind Algeria’s unconditional support for the Palestinian cause.

Historically, Algeria has always been advocating the Palestinian cause and supporting fellow Arab states against the Israeli occupation.

In fact, after only five years of gaining its liberation from the French occupation, Algeria supported the Arab allies against “Israel” by sending troops and aircrafts to fight alongside the Arab states in the 1967 Six-Day War.

The Algerian army also played an important role during the 1973 October war.

Significantly, when Egypt signed the Camp David Agreement and established ties with the Israeli occupation, Algeria severed its ties with Egypt.

In addition, Algeria established close relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), providing it with weapons, training its fighters during the 70s, and helping the PLO obtain observer status in the UN in 1974.

After the former US President Donald Trump’s administration, the UAE, and “Israel” revealed the so-called “Abraham Accords” in August, current Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune stressed his country’s deep commitment to the Palestinian cause, affirming that Algeria deems Palestine as a sacred cause.

Algiers also harshly criticized the normalizing states (the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan). It also paid the price for its anti-normalization stance, as the US acknowledged the Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara after years of unresolved disputes and unachievable status.

In trying to understand the reason behind Algeria’s official and popular support for the Palestinian cause, Sami Hamdi, the Editor-in-Chief of the International Interest magazine, explained that “Algerians feel a deep resonance with the Palestinians who have been colonized for some 82 years and believe that whatever the difficulties, resistance will eventually succeed.”

In the same context, TRT had quoted Jalel Harchaoui, a Senior Fellow at the Geneva-based Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, as saying that Algeria’s “somewhat exceptional history makes resistance against colonial powers writ large a narrative crucially central to the Algerian state as we know it.”

Algeria’s participation in the 1973 October War

Aiming to restore the lands that “Israel” occupied during the 1967 Six-Day War – Sinai in Egypt and the Golan Heights in Syria – on October 6, 1973, Cairo and Damascus launched an attack on the Zionist entity. The war coincided with the holy month of Ramadan.

During that time, Algeria played a significant role in providing Egypt and Syria with Soviet weapons and bringing in troops to the Egyptian front to fight the Israeli occupation, despite its then-instable economic situation as a result of the pre-independence era of French colonialism.

In fact, then-Algerian President Houari Boumedienne reportedly flew to Moscow to secure military aid for the Egyptians and the Syrians.

In a reiteration of its role in supporting anti-colonialist movements, Algeria sent more than 2,100 troops, 815 non-commissioned officers, and 192 officers to Sinai. It also sent 96 tanks and over 50 fighters and bomber aircraft to Egypt, according to the Egyptian authorities.

Algiers also participated in the oil embargo imposed by the Arab members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on the US over its support of the Israeli occupation during the war, which led to significant price hikes around the world.

On October 17, Arab oil producers decided to increase the price of oil by 17% and cut oil production by 5%, vowing to “maintain the same rate of reduction each month thereafter until the Israeli forces are fully withdrawn from all Arab territories occupied during the June 1967 War, and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people are restored.”

Sharon underestimated the power of Algerian forces

In the context of the 1973 October War, the former Chief of Staff of the Israeli occupation forces, David Eliezer, acknowledged in his released diaries that “Israel” lost this war as a result of the arrogance of then-Major General Ariel Sharon, who underestimated the power of the Algerian forces and thought that they wouldn’t stand a chance against the IOF forces, thinking that they would flee as soon as they set their eyes on Israeli tanks.

Eliezer said that 900 IOF soldiers were killed and 172 tanks were destroyed in just one day during the war.

On his part, the former Israeli Security Minister Moshe Dayan revealed that all the intelligence information showed that Algerians did not have weapons capable of intercepting the Israeli forces.

Dayan also said the Israelis received intelligence about a state of division between the Egyptians and the Algerians. The Israelis were surprised by the Algerian forces downing a giant US Lockheed C-5 Galaxy aircraft by a missile, which frightened the US Staff and frustrated the Nixon administration.

The former Israeli minister said the Egyptian forces deceived the Israeli forces, making them believe that the strategic Al-Adabiya port was not fortified enough. However, the Algerian forces were in charge of protecting the port.

One cannot but hail the role of Algeria in supporting the Palestinian cause and anti-colonial liberation movements, whether on the official or popular level. Despite the geographical distances separating Palestine from Algeria, Algerians believe that the two countries share the same pain, torture, grief, sorrow, and hopefully the same liberation to be achieved in the near future.

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Saudi Arabia to Grant the Zionist Enemy Ultimate Freedom of Navigation

July 1, 2022

By Staff

The United States, “Israel”, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are reportedly close to clinching a deal over two strategic islands in the Red Sea, Tiran and Sanafir. That’s according to Barak Ravid, a political affairs commentator for “Israel’s” Walla! website.

Ravid quotes three senior “Israeli” officials who claim that the parties are inching towards finalizing a set of agreements, understandings, and guarantees ahead of an upcoming visit to the region by US President Joe Biden.

Ravid argues that the deal “will constitute an important achievement for the Biden administration in the Middle East.” He also thinks that it may pave the way for a gradual process of normalization between Saudi Arabia and “Israel.”

Ravid points out the obvious: “Israel” and the Saudis don’t have official diplomatic relations, and therefore, cannot directly sign a formal agreement regarding the two islands.

As such, the participating sides are trying to come up with creative legal and diplomatic solutions to close the agreement through indirect contacts. Ravid adds that in recent months, the Biden administration mediated quiet negotiations between Saudi Arabia, “Israel” and Egypt over a deal that would complete the transfer of the two islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.

According to Ravid, the question was raised at the heart of the negotiations about how to respond to Saudi Arabia’s request to remove international observers from the two islands while at the same time maintaining the security arrangements and political guarantees requested by “Israel.”

For their part, the “Israelis” wants to ensure that Egyptian guarantees in the context of the so-called “peace” agreement bind the Saudis as well, especially with regard to an agreement allowing “Israeli” ships to freely sail through the Strait of Tiran to and from the port of Eilat.

Two senior “Israeli” officials told Walla! that Saudi Arabia agreed to take upon itself all Egyptian guarantees, including the obligation to preserve freedom of navigation.

“Israeli” officials said that the outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the new Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and War Minister Benny Gantz were briefed in recent days about the details of the plan to complete the agreement and agreed on its principles.

According to the plan, Saudi Arabia will sign an agreement with Egypt regarding the two islands, and in return, it will send a memorandum to the United States detailing its commitment to freedom of navigation and security arrangements.

The Biden administration will then transfer to “Israel” a memorandum detailing the Saudi commitment to freedom of navigation and will provide American guarantees to monitor the level of compliance.

An “Israeli” official said that Gantz and relevant parties within the security establishment believe that the plan preserves “Israel’s” security interests in the Red Sea and support the move.

“Parallel to finalizing the agreement on the two islands, it is expected that Saudi Arabia will announce that it will allow planes belonging to “Israeli” shipping companies to use Saudi airspace on their way to the east, especially to India and China,” the source adds.

But Ravid clarifies that while the negotiating parties are close to inking a deal, the plan has not been finalized and the agreement and guarantees are still being worked out.

BRICS is turning into a collective “Non-West”

June 30, 2022

Elena PaninaDirector of the RUSSTRAT Institute – Machine Translated and cleaned up from the Russian original.

MOSCOW, June 29, 2022, RUSSTRAT Institute.

BRICS expansion has been discussed for a long time. It is significant that the last summit on June 24 in the BRICS Plus format was attended by such countries as Algeria, Argentina, Cambodia, Egypt, Fiji, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Senegal, Thailand and Uzbekistan.

At the same time, the fact that the first applications for membership were submitted by Argentina and Iran, which did not take part in the BRICS Plus meeting, does not seem accidental.

Initially, the BRICS group was created as an association of the largest developing economies in the world. However, in the modern world, it is political decisions that determine the nature of the development of economic ties. It is quite logical that the first countries with a pronounced geopolitical sovereignty and having their own geopolitical scores with the collective West are preparing to join the expanded BRICS.

Iran is already almost two and a half thousand years old, since the time of Cyrus the Great is a powerful historical power, and its geopolitical significance cannot be overestimated. The geography itself determines the potential of its influence on the countries of the Arab world up to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf, in the Transcaucasus, Central Asia, as well as on the Afpak region (Afghanistan and Pakistan). Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran’s state ideology has been anti-Western. Tehran is engaged in an intense struggle with the US-British coalition for influence in Iraq, and is helping Syria in the fight against terrorism.

From an economic point of view, Iran’s potential is also great. The Iranian economy is in the world’s top 20 in terms of purchasing power parity, the country is third in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela in terms of proven oil resources, and has 16 percent of the world’s proven gas reserves.

Argentina, since the time of General Juan Domingo Peron, has also clearly felt its geopolitical role, being one of the regional leaders in Latin America. This role is recognized all over the world. Argentina, while not one of the world’s largest economies, is nevertheless a full member of the G20. Having survived the failed war with Great Britain over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), as well as the collapse of liberal reforms according to the IMF recipes, the country has an obvious request to find an independent path of development. Today, Argentina is in a difficult economic situation, it has a huge external debt. However, the potential of Argentina as one of the global food exporters has significantly increased in recent years.

For various reasons, both Iran and Argentina are extremely interested in BRICS projects to create new international settlement systems that are alternative to the global hegemony of the dollar. Iran, which is under sanctions, life itself has forced to go to “de-dollarization”, the country practically does not use the US currency. For Argentina, the transition to a hypothetical new monetary and financial zone would mean an escape from the stranglehold of the IMF, from the pressure of American creditors, which today have an extremely destructive impact on the national economy.

In any case, against the background of aggressive pressure from the United States and its allies on potential new BRICS members, the desire of Iran and Argentina to join the community requires a certain amount of foreign policy courage. There is reason to assume that the process of their joining the BRICS will be successful, since both countries do not cause rejection even in India, which until recently was the main opponent of expansion. We can confidently predict that in the near future the process of adding new members to the BRICS will continue due to the entry of a number of Asian and African countries.

But even now, the BRICS expansion at the expense of Iran and Argentina is the final departure of the community from the idea of Goldman Sachs analyst Jim O’Neill, who coined this abbreviation twenty years ago, who decided to designate such a term as “emerging economies” that are “catching up” with the developed West.

We can say that BRICS is confidently turning into a “collective Non-West”, from a community of emerging markets it is finally transformed into a community of world powers with a pronounced geopolitical sovereignty.

BRICS+: It’s Back with Scale and Ambition

June 28, 2022

http://infobrics.org/post/36006/

By Jaroslav Lissovolik

After several years of being relegated to backstage of the BRICS agenda, in 2022 the BRICS+ format is back and is at the very center of the discussions surrounding China’s chairmanship in the grouping. With the return of the BRICS+ paradigm the BRICS is going from introvert to extrovert and its greater global ambition raises hopes across the wide expanses of the Global South of material changes in the global economic system. The main question now centers on what the main trajectories of the evolution of the BRICS+ framework will be – thus far China appears to have advanced a multi-track approach that targets maximum scope and diversity in the operation of the BRICS-plus paradigm.

One of the novelties of China’s BRICS chairmanship in 2022 has been the launching of the extended BRICS+ meeting at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs that apart from the core BRICS countries also included representatives from Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal in Africa, Argentina from Latin America, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Thailand. And while the inclusion of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia may reflect their role in the G20 and overall size of their economies in the developing world, the inclusion of countries such as Senegal (chairmanship in the African Union in 2022), United Arab Emirates (chairmanship in the Gulf Cooperation Council in 2022) and Argentina (chairmanship in CELAC in 2022) is suggestive of a regional approach to building the BRICS+ platform.

That regional approach was also evidenced in the Forum of political parties, think-tanks and NGOs that was held on May 19th in BRICS+ format – among the countries invited to participate were Cambodia (chairmanship in ASEAN in 2022) as well as Senegal and Argentina that represented Africa and Latin America respectively. In effect China thus presented an inclusive format for dialogue spanning all the main regions of the Global South via aggregating the regional integration platforms in Eurasia, Africa and Latin America. Going forward this format may be further expanded to include other regional integration blocks from Eurasia, such as the GCC, EAEU and others.

During the meeting of foreign ministers of BRICS countries China also announced plans to open up the possibility of developing countries joining the core BRICS grouping. This approach differed to some degree from the line pursued by BRICS in the preceding years, when any expansion outside of the BRICS core was deemed to be the purview of the BRICS+ format. It remains to be seen whether the expansion in the core BRICS grouping is going to be supported by other members, but at this stage it appears unlikely that a speedy accession of any single developing economy is likely in the near term.

One important consideration in the future evolution of the BRICS+ format is its evenhandedness and balance observed between the main regions of the Global South. In this respect the inclusion of several countries into the “core BRICS” group may be fraught with risks of imbalances and asymmetries in terms of the representation of the main regions of the developing world in the core BRICS grouping. There is also the risk of greater complexity in arriving at a consensus with a wider circle of core BRICS members. While the option of joining the core should be kept open, there need to be clear and transparent criteria for the “BRICS accession process”.

Another issue relevant to the evolution of the BRICS+ framework is whether there should be a prioritization of the accession to the BRICS core of those developing economies that are members of the G20 grouping. In my view the G20 track for BRICS is a problematic one – the priorities of the Global South could get weakened and diluted within the broader G20 framework. There is also the question about the efficacy of G20 in coordinating the joint efforts of developing and developed economies in the past several years in overcoming the effects of the pandemic and the economic downturn. Rather than the goal of bringing the largest heavyweights into the core BRICS bloc from the G20 a more promising venue is the greater inclusivity of BRICS via the BRICS+ framework that allows smaller economies that are the regional partners of BRICS to have a say in the new global governance framework.

The next stage in the BRICS+ sequel is to be presented by China in June during the summit of BRICS+ countries. The world will be closely gauging further developments in the evolution of the BRICS+ format, but the most important result of China’s chairmanship in BRICS this year is that BRICS+ is squarely back on the agenda of global governance. The vitality in BRICS development will depend to a major degree on the success of the BRICS+ enterprise – an inert, introvert BRICS has neither global capacity, nor global mission. A stronger, more inclusive and open BRICS has the potential to become the basis for a new system of global governance.

Valdai Discussion Club

Source: Valdai Discussion Club

Sabahi: ‘Israel’ is hated in Egypt, resistance noblest thing in nation

June 28, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen English 

The Secretary-General of the Egyptian Popular Current tells Al Mayadeen that “Every nation that does not resist is a nation that is in danger of defeat.

The Secretary-General of the Egyptian Popular Current, Hamdeen Sabahi

The Secretary-General of the Egyptian Popular Current, Hamdeen Sabahi, affirmed Monday that every Arab is eager to restore Egypt to its role in the Arab nation and in defending the resistance.

In an interview for Al Mayadeen, Sabahi considered that the opposition in Egypt has been exhausted for years as a result of the restrictions imposed on it.

Sabahi acknowledged that a number of political prisoners were released in Egypt, but with a smaller number than what was expected.

The Egyptian politician called for the release of every political prisoner who was not a partner or instigator of violence, considering that if the Muslim Brotherhood movement wants to participate in a dialogue, they must initiate and request that, which means that they recognize the existing authority.

The Secretary-General of the Egyptian Popular Current pointed out that one of the things that threaten Egyptian national security is terrorism, in addition to depriving Egypt of its rights to the waters of the Nile.

Sabahi stressed that “Israel” is hated in Egypt as it was before the Camp David accords, affirming that every nation that does not resist is a nation that is subject to defeat, and resistance is the noblest thing in the Arab nation.

He added that when the Secretary-General of Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah takes up arms against the Israeli occupation, he raises the banner of late Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.

He also pointed out that when the popular demands in Syria turned into confrontations that endanger the unity of Syria, the decision was to stand with the unity of this country.

Sabahi indicated that if Saudi Arabia had spent money on Arab development projects rather than spending it on weapons, the life of the Arabs would have been better.

BRICS members agree on including new states – Chinese Foreign Ministry

June 28, 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

A Chinese Foreign Ministry official stated that BRICS countries agree to accept new countries into the bloc.

BRICS members agree on including new states.

The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) countries agree that the bloc needs new members while retaining its original character, according to Li Kexin, Director-General of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Economic Affairs.
 
China wishes to keep the BRICS format open to new members’ participation. Despite the fact that there are no set dates for the expansion, all BRICS countries agree on this, according to Li Kexin.
 
“I believe there is a shared understanding that we need to enlarge, get ‘new faces,'” he said at a press conference dedicated to the results of the 14th BRICS summit in Beijing. The diplomat emphasized that the goal of the BRICS expansion is not to create a new bloc.
 
According to the director-general, BRICS leaders are working to reach an agreement on potential future members. “There are several countries currently ‘at the door,’ for example, Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Argentina,” he said. 
 
As stated in the Beijing Declaration of the XIV BRICS Summit, BRICS leaders support the continuation of discussions on the expansion process, particularly through the Sherpas’ channel.

Two days ago, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi expressed Iran’s readiness to use its potential to help BRICS to reach its goals.

BRICS, a group of countries consisting of emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – has been functioning on a working mechanism that runs against the tide of the economic and political isolation of Russia which is created by NATO.

At a virtual summit of the BRICS Business Forum, Raisi delivered a speech in which he spoke of Iran’s willingness to use its unique energy reserves, wealth, manpower, and transportation networks to help BRICS achieve its goals. 

He started off by congratulating Xi Jinping, China’s president, on holding the summit and inviting Iran to the dialogue, then went on to address a few points in the conference, which went under the title “Participating in Global Development in the New Era”.

Earlier in May, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated that China would initiate the process of BRICS expansion. He stated that it will demonstrate BRICS openness and inclusiveness, meet the expectations of developing countries, increase their representation and voice in global governance, and contribute more to global peace and development.

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