The Valdai meeting: Where West Asia meets multipolarity

March 04 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle

At Russia’s Valdai Club meeting – the east’s answer to Davos – intellectuals and influencers gathered to frame West Asia’s current and future developments.

Pepe Escobar is a columnist at The Cradle, editor-at-large at Asia Times and an independent geopolitical analyst focused on Eurasia. Since the mid-1980s he has lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Singapore and Bangkok. He is the author of countless books; his latest one is Raging Twenties.

By Pepe Escobar

The 12th “Middle East Conference” at the Valdai Club in Moscow offered a more than welcome cornucopia of views on interconnected troubles and tribulations affecting the region.

But first, an important word on terminology – as only one of Valdai’s guests took the trouble to stress. This is not the “Middle East” – a reductionist, Orientalist notion devised by old colonials: at The Cradle we emphasize the region must be correctly described as West Asia.

Some of the region’s trials and tribulations have been mapped by the official Valdai report, The Middle East and The Future of Polycentric World.  But the intellectual and political clout of those in attendance can provide valuable anecdotal insights too. Here are a few of the major strands participants highlighted on regional developments, current and future:

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov set the stage by stressing that Kremlin policy encourages the formation of an “inclusive regional security system.” That’s exactly what the Americans refused to discuss with the Russians in December 2021, then applied to Europe and the post-Soviet space. The result was a proxy war.

Kayhan Barzegar of Islamic Azad University in Iran qualified the two major strategic developments affecting West Asia: a possible US retreat and a message to regional allies: “You cannot count on our security guarantees.”

Every vector – from rivalry in the South Caucasus to the Israeli normalization with the Persian Gulf – is subordinated to this logic, notes Barzegar, with quite a few Arab actors finally understanding that there now exists a margin of maneuver to choose between the western or the non-western bloc.

Barzegar does not identify Iran-Russia ties as a strategic alliance, but rather a geopolitical, economic bloc based on technology and regional supply chains – a “new algorithm in politics” – ranging from weapons deals to nuclear and energy cooperation, driven by Moscow’s revived southern and eastward orientations. And as far as Iran-western relations go, Barzegar still believes the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal, is not dead. A least not yet.

‘Nobody knows what these rules are’

Egyptian Ramzy Ramzy, until 2019 the UN Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, considers the reactivation of relations between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE with Syria as the most important realignment underway in the region. Not to mention prospects for a Damascus-Ankara reconciliation. “Why is this happening? Because of the regional security system’s dissatisfaction with the present,” Ramzy explains.

Yet even if the US may be drifting away, “neither Russia nor China are willing to take up a leadership role,” he says. At the same time, Syria “cannot be allowed to fall prey to outside interventions. The earthquake at least accelerated these rapprochements.”

Bouthaina Shaaban, a special advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is a remarkable woman, fiery and candid. Her presence at Valdai was nothing short of electric. She stressed how “since the US war in Vietnam, we lost what we witnessed as free media. The free press has died.” At the same time “the colonial west changed its methods,” subcontracting wars and relying on local fifth columnists.

Shaaban volunteered the best short definition anywhere of the “rules-based international order”: “Nobody knows what these rules are, and what this order is.”

She re-emphasized that in this post-globalization period that is ushering in regional blocs, the usual western meddlers prefer to use non-state actors – as in Syria and Iran – “mandating locals to do what the US would like to do.”

A crucial example is the US al-Tanf military base that occupies sovereign Syrian territory on two critical borders. Shaaban calls the establishment of this base as “strategic, for the US to prevent regional cooperation, at the Iraq, Jordan, and Syria crossroads.” Washington knows full well what it is doing: unhampered trade and transportation at the Syria-Iraq border is a major lifeline for the Syrian economy.

Reminding everyone once again that “all political issues are connected to Palestine,” Shaaban also offered a healthy dose of gloomy realism: “The eastern bloc has not been able to match the western narrative.”

A ‘double-layered proxy war’

Cagri Erhan, rector of Altinbas University in Turkey, offered a quite handy definition of a Hegemon: the one who controls the lingua franca, the currency, the legal setting, and the trade routes.

Erhan qualifies the current western hegemonic state of play as “double-layered proxy war” against, of course, Russia and China. The Russians have been defined by the US as an “open enemy” – a major threat. And when it comes to West Asia, proxy war still rules: “So the US is not retreating,” says Erhan. Washington will always consider using the area “strategically against emerging powers.”

Then what about the foreign policy priorities of key West Asian and North African actors?

Algerian political journalist Akram Kharief, editor of the online MenaDefense, insists Russia should get closer to Algeria, “which is still in the French sphere of influence,” and be wary of how the Americans are trying to portray Moscow as “a new imperial threat to Africa.”

Professor Hasan Unal of Maltepe University in Turkiye made it quite clear how Ankara finally “got rid of its Middle East [West Asian] entanglements,” when it was previously “turning against everybody.”

Mid-sized powers such as Turkiye, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are now stepping to the forefront of the region’s political stage. Unal notes how “Turkiye and the US don’t see eye to eye on any issue important to Ankara.” Which certainly explains the strengthening of Turkish-Russian ties – and their mutual interest in introducing “multi-faceted solutions” to the region’s problems.

For one, Russia is actively mediating Turkiye-Syria rapprochement. Unal confirmed that the Syrian and Turkish foreign ministers will soon meet in person – in Moscow – which will represent the highest-ranking direct engagement between the two nations since the onset of the Syrian war. And that will pave the way for a tripartite summit between Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Note that the big regional reconciliations are being held – once again – either in, or with the participation of Moscow, which can rightfully be described as the capital of the 21st century multipolar world.

When it comes to Cyprus, Unal notes how “Russia would not be interested in a unified state that would be EU and NATO territory.” So it’s time for “creative ideas: as Turkey is changing its Syria policy, Russia should change its Cyprus policy.”

Dr. Gong Jiong, from the Israeli campus of China’s University of International Business and Economics, came up with a catchy neologism: the “coalition of the unwilling” – describing how “almost the whole Global South is not supporting sanctions on Russia,” and certainly none of the players in West Asia.

Gong noted that as much as China-Russia trade is rising fast – partly as a direct consequence of western sanctions – the Americans would have to think twice about China-hit sanctions. Russia-China trade stands at $200 billion a year, after all, while US-China trade is a whopping $700 billion per annum.

The pressure on the “neutrality camp” won’t relent anyway. What is needed by the world’s “silent majority,” as Gong defines it, is “an alliance.” He describes the 12-point Chinese peace plan for Ukraine as “a set of principles” – Beijing’s base for serious negotiations: “This is the first step.”

There will be no new Yalta

What the Valdai debates made crystal clear, once again, is how Russia is the only actor capable of approaching every player across West Asia, and be listened to carefully and respectfully.

It was left to Anwar Abdul-Hadi, director of the political department of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the latter’s official envoy to Damascus, to arguably sum up what led to the current global geopolitical predicament: “A new Yalta or a new world war? They [the west] chose war.”

And still, as new geopolitical and geoeconomic fault lines keep emerging, it is as though West Asia is anticipating something “big” coming ahead. That feeling was palpable in the air at Valdai.

To paraphrase Yeats, and updating him to the young, turbulent 21st century, “what rough beast, its hour come out at last, slouches towards the cradle [of civilization] to be born?

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

Turkish elections: Can Erdogan maintain his grip on power?

March 02 2023

The outcome of Turkiye’s upcoming vote could determine whether Ankara returns to a western-oriented foreign policy, or if Erdogan strengthens the country’s autonomous direction.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Mohamad Hasan Sweidan

As the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic approaches, Turkiye faces one of the most important elections in its history. Most importantly, the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, currently slated for May, could lead to major shifts in the country’s foreign policy.

But the February earthquakes that devastated swathes southern Turkiye have compounded the pressures on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was already dealing with a number of internal and external vulnerabilities that could lead to his electoral ousting.

Erdogan has described the earthquake as “the largest disaster the country has witnessed since the Erzincan earthquake in 1939.” Currently presiding over a deteriorating domestic economy, he has become an easy target for negative media campaigns, faces an unusually united front of opposition parties, and is the subject of constant attacks from the west, who support the Turkish opposition both politically and in the media. Despite these challenges, Erdogan is looking to cling to power by any means necessary.

Turkiye’s Military Coups

In modern Turkiye, one well-trodden path to abrupt power shifts has been the “military coup”: the country experienced four of these between 1923 and 2000. All were preceded by some common factors, including domestic economic deterioration and improving ties with the Soviet Union or Iran, especially after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The combined result of these coups was to reaffirm Turkiye’s loyalty to the western axis and to halt rapprochement with Moscow or Tehran.

Two decades ago, when Erdogan was first elected as prime minister, Turkiye was governed under a parliamentary system. But a 2017 constitutional referendum transformed it into a presidential one, where the authority of the parliament and cabinet diminished in relation to the presidency. Erdogan understood from the onset that the key to his survival in power was to prevent economic decline and to contain the influence of the military over civilian authority.

Consequently, his government has implemented policies to reduce the powers of the Turkish military, extend full state control over the army, and reduce its grip on political power. This has inhibited the army’s ability to overthrow civilian power centers whenever it wants.

Erdogan used the pretext of joining the EU to launch a reform process in Turkiye, enacting national laws that were more compatible with European standards, including respect for freedoms. Through these reforms, a body of laws was amended, limiting the powers of military justice and subjecting military personnel to common law. The Erdogan government has also ousted secular military figures over alleged links to terrorist organizations.

The ruling  Justice and Development Party (AKP) continued to work towards limiting the role of Turkiye’s armed forces, and after a long and taxing process of normalizing civil-military relations, Erdogan was able to gain full civilian control of the Turkish military following the 2016 coup attempt.

This move limited the military’s traditional status and role as guardian of the republic, and after achieving this milestone, economic pressure became Ankara’s only tool for change. The ballot box has thus become the only means of overthrowing the Turkish president, as the military, which was previously a means of reorienting Turkiye whenever it veered from its pro-west orientation, is now subordinate to political authority in Ankara.

A western or independent foreign policy

It is worth noting that Erdogan’s Turkiye is no longer viewed as the “Turkish model,” which was once widely lauded as a democratic, Islamic leadership in a secular, pro-western country. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Turkiye was seen as an example of a western-allied Islamic power, and its positive relationship with the US provided evidence for Washington that its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were wars against terror, and not Islam.

However, today, Turkiye has lost this vaunted ‘status,’ and the US and EU increasingly view Erdogan as helming an undemocratic authority. As a result, Ankara was not invited to attend the Summit of Democracies held by Washington in December 2021, because countries like Turkiye have been “undermining their democratic systems for years.”

report issued by the European Commission on 19 October, 2021 also criticized the performance of Turkish institutions, stating:

“There are serious deficiencies in the functioning of Turkiye’s democratic institutions. Democratic backsliding continued during the reporting period…The constitutional architecture continued to centralise powers at the level of the Presidency without ensuring a sound and effective separation of powers between the executive, legislative and the judiciary.”

The west’s primary concern with Erdogan is his pursuit of an autonomous foreign policy that may clash with western interests. Erdogan’s policies after the 2011 Arab uprisings, which conflicted with western interests in Libya and Egypt – as well as his support for Turkish Cypriot independence, ongoing tensions with Greece, Turkiye’s growing ties with Russia and Iran, and rejection of Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO – have all contributed to growing western dissatisfaction with Erdogan’s leadership.

In order to pursue his foreign policy goals, Erdogan has strengthened his position domestically, notably through the 2017 referendum that transformed Turkiye’s government into a presidential system and consolidated his power.

This has left the west with few options to influence change in Turkiye, limiting their options to supporting a fragmented opposition, applying economic, political, and media pressure on the AKP, and working toward establishing an opposition coalition that can defeat Erdogan at the ballot box.

As US-European policies begin to re-unify after the Trump era, and with the year-old conflict in Ukraine still escalating, Erdogan’s independent policies are increasingly seen as unacceptable, with demands that Turkiye reposition itself within the western axis. This is despite the fact that the west recognizes the world order is shifting toward a more inclusive, multipolar one. According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “we’re no longer in the post-Cold War era. There’s a competition on to shape what comes next.”

Erdogan’s vision for his country’s place in the new world order differs from Washington’s: He seeks to position Turkiye as a regional power with interests in both the east and west, while the US wants Turkiye’s regional clout to be exercised in concert with western interests, and aligned against Russia and Iran.

To achieve western objectives, Turkiye must return to being a secular, pro-western state. Thus, Erdogan’s defeat in the next election is crucial for Ankara to return to the western fold as a fully committed ally.

The quake’s aftershocks

The devastating earthquakes in Turkiye have had far-reaching political and economic impact, with Erdogan’s opponents leading charges that his government lacked all basic emergency preparations for the disaster. Influential media outlets, both domestic and international, have heavily criticized Ankara’s earthquake response initiatives, which have morphed into a wider campaign against Erdogan.

In a way, the catastrophe was an unexpected gift to Erdogan’s opponents, who, from the very outset, blamed the Turkish president. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who leads Turkiye’s main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said:

“If there is anyone responsible for this process, it is Erdogan. It is this ruling party that has not prepared the country for an earthquake for 20 years.”

To counter the criticism, Erdogan has initiated steps to help those affected by the earthquake, promising to rebuild damaged buildings within a year, and pay rents while the reconstruction is underway. He has also been filmed and photographed while participating in the burial of victims and inspecting the conditions of affected families, particularly by pro-AKP media.

However, the economic impact of the earthquake – a loss of $2.9 billion in manpower, according to a report by Turkish business group Turkonfed – and damage to infrastructure, including roads, electricity grids, hospitals, and schools, estimated at $84 billion, constituting around 10 percent of Turkiye’s GDP – will have severe repercussions for the Turkish economy.

Who is Erdogan up against?

The 2019 local elections in Turkiye demonstrated the opposition’s ability to win in municipalities previously dominated by the AKP, notably in Istanbul and Ankara. Erdogan’s surprise and discontent with voting results were evident in his demands for re-election in Istanbul. Instead, the rerun resulted in a significant increase in votes for the opposition at the expense of Erdogan’s candidate.

Image 1: Map distributing the results of the 2019 municipal elections in Turkey
Image 1: Map distributing the results of the 2019 municipal elections in Turkiye

For Washington to be rid of Erdogan, it will be necessary to establish a strong alliance against the Turkish strongman. The “Alliance of Six,” which includes six opposition parties seeking to agree on a single candidate for the upcoming presidential elections, is an example of this strategy.

The following is a table of the key political parties in Turkiye:

The different orientations of these parties, as shown in the table above, are perhaps one of the main reasons why the Alliance of Six has failed to rally around a single candidate. To minimize competition within the opposition, it is likely that CHP leader Kilicdaroglu and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu will be the top contenders for the position, with the former currently most in favor.

If the Alliance of Six wins power, it could lead to a more western-aligned Turkiye that is less inclined toward foreign policy autonomy. The opposition coalition’s manifesto, which spans 240 pages and includes 2,300 points, highlights the importance of restoring “mutual trust” with the US, pursuing Turkiye’s goal of “full membership in the European Union,” and seeking the reinstatement of Turkiye’s involvement in the F-35 fighter jet program. Ankara was ejected from the program after it purchased Russian-made S-400 missiles following the failed 2016 coup attempt, which is often viewed by Turks as being US-instigated.

The following chart depicts the positions of opposition parties on a number of foreign policy topics:

The survival of Turkiye’s autonomous foreign policy

Erdogan is acutely aware that the upcoming elections will pose the greatest challenge of his political career. In order to secure a victory, he may have to make bold decisions that were previously unimaginable.

This conviction is further reinforced by the west’s support for the Turkish opposition and their desire to replace Erdogan with a more compliant candidate. With the Turkish elections expected to take place between May and July, and with ongoing western pressure on the Turkish leader, Erdogan has been forced to strengthen cooperation with those who want him to remain in power.

This is one of the main reasons why Turkiye’s relations with Russia have strengthened both economically and politically, and why Erdogan has sought to normalize relations with the Syrian government and improve ties with Iran.

Erdogan realized early on that he would not be the west’s favored candidate in the upcoming elections. In response, he shifted his foreign strategy to increase his chances of retaining power in Ankara. In 2022, he paid visits to the UAE in February and Saudi Arabia in May, and launched initiatives to improve relations with Israel, Egypt, and Syria.

Erdogan has also recognized that his political survival is aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interests, as his successor would likely be a candidate fully compliant with the west. This was one of the primary reasons for the continued Russian-Turkish rapprochement.

That, and the fact that Turkish public sentiment has broadly shifted in favor of Russia – and away from the US – as revealed in a December 2022 poll, where nearly two-thirds of Turks supported relations with Moscow.

Undoubtedly, the earthquakes that struck Turkiye and Syria have complicated matters for Erdogan. However, he has long demonstrated his ability to turn threats into opportunities by shifting tactics advantageously. His ace for many years has also been to capitalize on his opposition’s weaknesses, fragmentation, and inability to unite effectively against him.

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

AKP Alliance of Six CHPEarthquake Egypt EU Iran Israel NATO opposition parties

Take a look at the Countries Which Provided Aid to Quake-hit Syria

February 24, 2023

Al-Manar English Website prepared an infographic image illustrating the countries which provided aid to Syria following the devastating earthquake which killed at least 6,000 in Syria and 41,000 others in neighboring Turkey.

The infographic image shows the dates and the nature of the aid provided, in addition to some other details on the issue.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Iran: Arabs-Syria rapprochement positive step toward Islamic solidarity

Tuesday, 28 February 2023 8:07 AM  [ Last Update: Tuesday, 28 February 2023 8:34 AM ]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, (3rd R) meets with a delegation representing various Arab parliaments in Damascus on February 26, 2023. (File photo by SANA)

Tehran says a recent visit by Arab parliament speakers and senior legislators to Syria is a positive step toward Islamic solidarity, emphasizing that dialogue and regional approaches can solve the woes in the region.

“The recent progress in relations between Arab countries and Syria, including the visit by Arab parliamentary delegations to Damascus to express solidarity with Syria following the recent devastating earthquake, in addition to being a realistic approach, is a positive step toward Islamic solidarity,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani tweeted on Tuesday.

He added that regional countries will be able to resolve their problems through “dialogue and regional mechanisms” if they act realistically, adopt an independent national stance, and pay no heed to the demands of the hegemonic powers.

The high-profile Arab lawmakers arrived in Damascus on Sunday amid attempts by certain countries, above all Iraq, to restore Syria’s membership in the Arab League, more than a decade after it was suspended from the 22-member bloc.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry also arrived in Damascus on Monday in the first such visit by a top Egyptian diplomat since the foreign-sponsored militancy erupted in Syria more than a decade ago.

In a meeting with President Assad, the top Egyptian diplomat reaffirmed his country’s solidarity with Syria and its preparedness to continue supporting Syrians in the aftermath of the devastating February earthquake.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has met with a delegation from the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, which aims to restore Syria’s membership in the Arab League after more than a decade of suspension from the 22-member bloc.

In a meeting with the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union later on Sunday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said, “The delegation’s visit to Syria today means a lot to the Syrian people as it indicates the support to the Syrians … who are exposed as a result of the terrorist war and the repercussions of the earthquake.”

According to the latest figures, more than 50,000 were killed by the disastrous earthquake that hit Turkey and neighboring earlier this month.

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

الزلزال يُعيد وصْل «الإقليمَين»

القاهرة لدمشق: ولّى زمن القطيعة

 الثلاثاء 28 شباط 2023

أبدى الوزير المصري حرص القاهرة على تعزيز علاقاتها مع دمشق وتطوير تعاونهما المشترك (أ ف ب)

علاء حلبي

من البوّابة الإنسانية، عبرت مصر نحو رفْع مستوى علاقتها مع سوريا، من التنسيق الأمني غير المعلَن، إلى التواصل المباشر بين البلدَين اللذين فرّقتْهما قطيعة مؤقّتة، تَبِع انتهاءها موقف مصري متذبذب، سرعان ما فارقتْه القاهرة في أعقاب وقوع الزلزال الكارثة في السادس من شباط. وعلى رغم التكهّن بأن الخطوة المصرية الواسعة إزاء دمشق قد تكون، في جانب منها، مدفوعةً بالخلاف المستمرّ في ما بين القاهرة والرياض، إلّا أن سياقها ينبئ باندراجها في إطار الحَراك العربي الأوسع الذي تقوده أبو ظبي ومسقط وعمّان نحو سوريا، والذي يُتوقّع أن لا تتأخّر الرياض في الانضمام إليه

في تطوُّر يفتتح فصلاً جديداً في العلاقات السورية – المصرية، حلّ وزير الخارجية المصري، سامح شكري، ضيفاً على دمشق، حيث أجرى لقاءً مع نظيره السوري، فيصل المقداد، والرئيس بشار الأسد، في زيارة هي الأولى من نوعها لمسؤول ديبلوماسي مصري رفيع المستوى إلى سوريا منذ عام 2011. الزيارة التي حاول شكري إضفاء الطابع الإنساني عليها، عبر تأكيده أكثر من مرّة أنه جاء ليعلن تضامُن بلاده مع سوريا على خلفيّة الزلزال المدمّر الذي ضرب البلاد في السادس من شباط الماضي، تتزامن مع حَراك عربي على مستويات عدّة، تلعب فيه كلّ من الإمارات وسلطنة عُمان دوراً بارزاً لتقريب وجهات النظر، والتوصّل إلى صيغة مناسبة لجميع الأطراف تعود من خلالها دمشق إلى لَعِب دورها الاستراتيجي، خاصة بعد وصول الأزمة إلى حالة استعصاء أفرزها فشَل جميع محاولات تغيير نظام الحُكم في سوريا.
وخلال لقائه الأسد، نقَل الوزير المصري رسالة من الرئيس عبد الفتاح السيسي، أكد فيها الأخير تضامُن مصر مع سوريا، واستعدادها لمواصلة دعْم السوريين بمواجهة آثار الزلزال، واعتزازه بالعلاقات التاريخية بين البلدَين، وحرْص القاهرة على تعزيز هذه العلاقات وتطوير التعاون المشترك. وردّ الأسد على ذلك بشُكر الضيف المصري، وإبداء حرْص سوريا على الصِلات مع مصر «في إطار السياق الطبيعي والتاريخي»، معتبراً أن «العمل لتحسين العلاقات بين الدول العربية بشكل ثنائي هو الأساس لتحسين الوضع العربي بشكل عام». وتأتي زيارة رأس هرم الديبلوماسية المصرية إلى دمشق لتعيد إحياء روابط تاريخية بين البلدَين، بعد قطيعة بدأت عام 2011، ووصلت إلى ذروتها خلال تولّي «الإخوان المسلمين» حُكم مصر بقيادة الراحل محمد مرسي، الذي أعلن في حزيران من عام 2013 قطْع علاقة بلاده رسمياً مع دمشق، والانضمام إلى الحلف المناوئ للحكومة السورية، محتضِناً نشاط قسم من المعارضة السورية، وداعياً إلى فرْض حظر جوّي على سوريا. وتروي مصادر مصرية عدّة أن موقف الجيش المصري الذي كان يقوده في تلك الفترة السيسي، الذي شغل آنذاك منصب وزير الدفاع، ظلّ معارضاً لموقف مرسي، وهو ما أكّده الكاتب المصري الراحل، محمد حسنين هيكل، خلال لقاء تلفزيوني، ذكر خلاله أن الجيش المصري رفض سياسة الرئيس الراحل، غير أن الأخير استمرّ فيها.

أعادت زيارة رأس هرم الديبلوماسية المصرية إلى دمشق إحياء علاقات تاريخية بين البلدَين بعد قطيعة بدأت عام 2011

وبعد انهيار حكومة «الإخوان»، وصعود السيسي إلى السلطة، عادت العلاقات جزئياً بين البلدَين، الأمر الذي أعلنه الرئيس المصري صراحة خلال زيارة أجراها بُعيد تولّيه السلطة إلى الولايات المتحدة عام 2014، حيث أشار إلى متانة الصِلات التي تَجمع جيشَي البلدَين، وأكد أن وحدة سوريا تُعتبر جزءاً من الأمن القومي المصري. ومع ذلك، لم ترقَ الروابط إلى مستويات رفيعة، بل انحصرت في نطاق اللقاءات الأمنية، قبل أن يأتي اللقاء الذي جمع وزير الخارجية السوري، فيصل المقداد، بنظيره المصري في نيويورك على هامش اجتماع الجمعية العامّة للأمم المتحدة عام 2021، ليشكّل علامة فارقة. وإلى جانب التعاون الأمني والعسكري الوثيق، لعب مستثمرون سوريون نقلوا استثماراتهم من سوريا إلى مصر خلال الحرب، دوراً بارزاً في تعزيز العلاقات بين البلدَين، بعدما بلغ حجم تلك الاستثمارات نحو 23 مليار دولار.
وأبدت سوريا، مرّات عديدة، خلال تصريحات أطلقها الأسد والمقداد، تفهّمها لموقف بعض الدول التي تتواصل مع سوريا بشكل غير علني بسبب الضغوط الغربية والأميركية، وهو ما يمكن أن ينطبق على مصر، التي مرّت بظروف اقتصادية وسياسية صعبة خلال الأعوام الماضية، شكّلت عائقاً أمام اتّخاذ خطوات «انفتاحية» كبيرة. إلّا أن هذه الظروف يبدو أنها بدأت تتحوّل خلال الأشهر القليلة الماضية، في ظلّ مبادرات عربية عديدة بقيادة الأردن والإمارات وسلطنة عُمان لكسر الجمود السياسي، شكّلت التداعيات الكارثية للزلزال فرصة للمضيّ بها قُدُماً، وفتْح الباب أمام مصر التي بادر رئيسها، فور وقوع الكارثة، إلى الاتّصال بالأسد، والإيعاز بإرسال مساعدات عبر الجوّ والبحر. وفي وقت يَجري فيه الحديث في بعض الأوساط السياسية العربية عن وجود خلافات سعودية – مصرية يمكن أن تكون قد شكّلت دافعاً إضافياً لاتّخاذ القاهرة خطوتها الواسعة نحو دمشق، تُنبئ التحرّكات العربية بأن الانفتاح المصري يندرج في إطار نشاط عربي واسع النطاق لا يستثني الرياض، التي أعلن وزير خارجيّتها، فيصل بن فرحان، تغيّر موقف بلاده من سوريا، مشدّداً على ضرورة التواصل مع دمشق التي من المنتظر أن يزورها خلال الأيام المقبلة.
وعلى الرغم من الانفتاح المتواصل لعواصم عربية على دمشق، سواءً قبل الزلزال أو بَعده، تُواجه هذه الخطوات معوّقات عديدة واختبارات صعبة، أبرزها الموقف الأميركي الرافض لهذا التطبيع، والتهديد بالعقوبات الأميركية أحادية الجانب المفروضة على سوريا، بالإضافة إلى امتلاك واشنطن أوراق ضغط عديدة قد تبادر إلى استخدامها خلال الفترة المقبلة.

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In a US-China confrontation, West Asia will bow out

A significant increase in geopolitical and economic ties with China has offered West Asian states an alternative to the US, which has traditionally been the region’s security guarantor.

February 24 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle
F.M. Shakil is a Pakistani writer covering political, environmental, and economic issues, and is a regular contributor at Akhbar Al-Aan in Dubai and Asia Times in Hong Kong. He writes extensively about China-Pakistan strategic relations, particularly Beijing’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

By F.M. Shakil

The prospect of a US-China war has entered the realm of reality. Increased provocations from US military and political officials regarding the status of Taiwan – which China considers to be part of its historic territory – have heightened the possibility of confrontation in recent years.

With only 13 out of 193 UN member states recognizing the government in Taipei as a separate entity, the global community’s reaction to a Washington-led assault over Taiwan’s status remains highly uncertain.

Today, the reaction of strategic West Asia to a hypothetical conflict between the two superpowers is up for grabs. However, given the region’s reluctance to take sides in the Russian-US stand off, it is likely to be equally hesitant to do so in the event of a US-China conflict.

In a memo released on 27 January, US General Mike Minihan, chief of the Air Mobility Command, wrote: “My instinct tells me we will fight in 2025.” General Minihan’s views align with Taiwanese Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng’s statement in 2021 that China will be capable of launching a full-scale invasion of Taiwan by the same year.

In response to General Minihan’s remarks, Mike McCaul, chairman of the US House Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, told Fox News: “I hope he is mistaken but I believe he is correct.” Adding fuel to the fire, US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on 29 January, “The chances of conflict in the relationship with China over Taiwan are very high.”

A lot of hot air

Days after the US general issued a warning that Washington may engage in combat with Beijing in the next two years, tensions between the two countries were further exacerbated by the spoof-worthy Chinese spy balloon incident.

According to some senior Republicans and US military leaders, there is a growing concern that a full-scale conflict between the two superpowers is imminent, with the Asia-Pacific (AP) and South Asia (SA) regions likely to be the primary theaters of the conflict.

Jan Achakzai, a geopolitical analyst and former adviser to Pakistan’s Balochistan government, tells The Cradle that:

“The possibility of a war between the United States and China puts everyone on edge, especially the regions that are intricately linked with the US or China. Some nations will be compelled to choose between allying with the US in the case of war or keeping the status quo to lessen the possibility of hostilities.”

Russian involvement in West Asia

Despite nominal trade and geopolitical relations with Moscow, West Asian countries did not support Washington’s position in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. However, Russia’s veto power at the UN Security Council does have a positive impact on its relationship with regional states, particularly for its ability to prevent expansionist and anti-Arab policies by other permanent council members.

Security and trade remain the two primary pillars of the relationship between Moscow and West Asia, and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s image has played a significant role in shaping these ties.

The UAE serves as a major financial hub for Russia, and Moscow may attempt to leverage its influence in the region to urge the UAE to reconsider US-imposed banking restrictions, if it feels that its interests are being compromised.

In addition, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, and Egypt are among the countries that purchase wheat from Russia, which further solidifies economic ties between Russia and the Arab world.

Moreover, since joining the expanded Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) in 2016, Russia and Saudi Arabia have worked closely to regulate oil output and price adjustments as part of OPEC+ agreements.

Putin’s public image has, in part, contributed to a surge in support for Russia in the kingdom. In 2018, when Riyadh faced international criticism over the Saudi-orchestrated murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Russian president made headlines by high-fiving and grinning at the then-isolated Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) during the G20 summit in Argentina.

Likewise, his prominent role in thwarting the NATO proxy war in Syria – a geopolitical game changer that, arguably, ushered in global multipolarity – has gained Putin fans across a region that has long suffered from western imperialist designs.

Where will West Asia stand?

Although still a hypothetical scenario, it is worth considering how West Asia would respond to a direct US-China conflict. Many prominent geopolitical analysts have speculated that if West Asia, and particularly the traditionally pro-US Arab states of the Persian Gulf, did not toe the US line against Russia – a significantly smaller regional trading partner than China – its loyalties to Washington in a potential US-China confrontation could be further strained.

Compared to Russia, China has significantly larger investments throughout West Asia. In 2021, bilateral trade between Beijing and the region amounted to $330 billion, with approximately 50 percent of China’s energy supply coming from the energy-abundant Persian Gulf.

China has conducted over $200 billion in trade alone with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. From 2005 to 2021, Beijing invested $43.47 billion in Saudi Arabia, $36.16 billion in the UAE, $30.05 billion in Iraq, $11.75 billion in Kuwait, $7.8 billion in Qatar, $6.62 billion in Oman, and $1.4 billion in Bahrain.

In addition to its investments in trade and energy, China has also invested enormous sums of money in West Asian and North African infrastructure and high-tech development projects via its multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Beijing has entered into strategic cooperation agreements with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Algeria, Egypt, and Iran, and has enlisted a total of 21 Arab nations in its ambitious, decade-long effort to revive the historic Silk Road and export its goods to markets throughout Europe and Africa. Currently, infrastructure developed by Persian Gulf nations serves as a transit point for two-thirds of Chinese exports to these continents.

Egypt is a crucial hub for the BRI, with the Economic-Technological Development Area in Egypt’s Suez Canal Economic Zone, near Ain Sokhna, representing one of the major projects for which the two nations signed contracts totaling $18 billion in 2018.

Iraq, the third-largest oil supplier to China after Saudi Arabia and Russia, has also received $10.5 billion from Beijing for BRI-related energy projects, and just this week, agreed to replace its dollar trade with Beijing for the Chinese yuan.

In West Asia, the US plays second fiddle to Beijing

Chinese collaboration with West Asia and North Africa is not confined to trade and economy; Beijing also provides defense equipment to several Arab nations. Since 2019, China and Saudi Arabia have reportedly collaborated on the production of ballistic missiles, and China also sells Saudi Arabia its HQ-17AE air defense system.

Chinese Wing Loong drones have been purchased by the UAE, and Iraq has placed an order for CH-4B drones. Jordan purchased CH-4Bs in 2016, while Algeria acquired CH-5s – the next generation of the CH-4B type – to expand its aviation capabilities in 2022. In addition, Saudi Advanced Communications and Electronics Systems Co. and China Electronics Technology Group are partnering to build a drone factory for local UAV production.

While US President Joe Biden’s administration’s relationship with Riyadh has been strained due to disagreements over human rights and energy policy, China is making significant strides in strengthening its ties with the country.

As Beijing draws closer to Saudi Arabia, the message to Washington from Riyadh is unambiguous: “The people in the Middle East [West Asia] are tired of other countries’ interference because they always come with troubles.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping received a royal welcome in Riyadh last December, marking a seismic shift in Sino-Arab relations and boosting China’s image throughout the Arab world. In contrast, US President Joe Biden’s visit to Jeddah in the summer of 2022 received a lukewarm reception. This may suggest that a recalibration of West Asian geopolitical alliances may be on the horizon.

Despite these trends, analyst Achakzai tells The Cradle that West Asia will behave similarly to the way it did during the Russian-Ukrainian conflict – even given China’s increasing business and military presence in the region. and the US’s declining control over the oil-rich Arab monarchies.

“Depending on the current situation, the motives of the various states in the region may change and divide into two distinct groups: those who would support the US and those who would support a neutral position.”

China values economy over war

In the Asia-Pacific region, the US and its allies are engaged in a contentious relationship with China regarding maritime boundaries, international trade, human rights, and strategic security issues. Despite signing numerous security pacts with regional players, China appears to prioritize building and strengthening economic ties over military cooperation with Asian-Pacific states.

Due to a history of hostile confrontations and divergent geopolitical objectives, both the US and China seek to increase their military presence in the region. In response to China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, the US has expanded its military footprint by signing commercial and defense agreements with the Asia-Pacific region.

The two nations have also been at odds over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which many viewed as an effort to contain China’s economic and strategic influence in its own backyard. Additionally, tensions have escalated between Beijing and its neighbors, particularly over territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas.

These efforts have been emboldened by the 5-member Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), which is an informal strategic dialogue between the US, India, Japan, and Australia that seeks “to promote a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.” According to Achakzai:

“Countries that have extensive defense agreements with the US, such as Japan, South Korea, and Australia, are most likely to help America. These nations, which have long benefited from their close connections to the US, must now contend with Chinese territorial ambitions in the region and the South China Sea. The nations having an informal security partnership with the US, such as the Philippines, are likely to back the United States in a confrontation.”

The analyst explained that Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia are expected to remain neutral during the conflict due to their strong business and investment ties with China.

“Other countries in the Asia-Pacific region may feel obligated to support the US if China initiates the conflict. This may apply to countries like Indonesia and Vietnam, which have recently been under Chinese pressure and may need to choose a side to protect their own security,” he noted.

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

الوحدة المصرية السورية في ذكراها.. أعداء الوحدة يتجدّدون والحاجة لها تتضاعف

2023 25 شباط

أثارت استراتيجية القوس المصري – السوري أحقاد ومخاوف الاستعمار البريطاني

موفق محادين 

سنبقى نراوح مكاننا إذا لم تقم تجربة جديدة لبناء القوس المصري – السوري، كرافعة تاريخية مناهضة بالضرورة للتحالف الإمبريالي – الصهيوني- الرجعي – العثماني.

    شكّلت مصر وسوريا، أهم قوس استراتيجي في تاريخ الأمة التي اعتمد نهوضها في كل مرة على هذا القوس وتكامله ضمن خطاب سياسي – اجتماعي متصادم بالضرورة مع موجات الغزو المتتالية، من أوروبا الإقطاعية، مرحلة ما يعرف بالحملات الصليبية، إلى أوروبا الرأسمالية ثم المنظومة الإمبريالية العالمية ومن يتصدّرها في كل حقبة. 

    إضافة إلى الأدبيات الناصرية وخاصة فلسفة الثورة والميثاق لجمال عبد الناصر، وكتابات نديم البيطار وأنور عبد الملك وعصمت سيف الدولة وسمير أمين وياسين الحافظ، فإن كتابات المفكّر المصري، جمال حمدان، شكّلت ولا تزال الخلفية الاستراتيجية لبناء تصوّرات جيوبولوتيكية تدعم وتؤطر فكرة القوس المصري السوري وأهميته الحيوية لاشتباك تاريخي مع الغزاة وللتأسيس للرافعة الكبرى لنهوض الأمة ووحدتها. 

    وليس بلا معنى أن محاولات الاقتراب من هذا القوس، اتسمت بملامح وقواسم مشتركة على الصعيدين الإقليمي والدولي، بصرف النظر، أولاً، عن السمات الاجتماعية والطبقية للقوى السياسية النافذة التي تتطلّع إلى دور إقليمي انطلاقاً من هذا القوس، وثانياَ بصرف النظر عن المرحلة التاريخية. 

    التجربة الأولى.. محمد علي

    في العقود الأولى من القرن التاسع عشر، اصطدم حاكم مصر القوي، محمد علي باشا، بقوى محلية وإقليمية ودولية لم ترق لها نهضة مصر وترجمة هذه النهضة بدور محوري، يتكامل مع بلاد الشام من موقع الشوكة والاستقلال في مواجهة الغزاة. 

    بداية، وبالتقاطع مع مخاوف الباب العالي العثماني من التحالف الوهابي – السعودي (آل السعود وآل الشيخ) اندفعت القوات المصرية إلى الحجاز ثم إلى نجد وخاصة الدرعية وتمكّنت من تصفية الحركة الوهابية، التي كانت قد ارتبطت مع قلم الاستخبارات في شركة الهند الشرقية البريطانية، وفق اعترافات بيركهارت، الذي تحوّل من عالم آثار سويسري إلى مبعوث للمخابرات البريطانية باسم الشيخ عبد الله اللوزاني، وكان من أهم قنوات الاتصال مع الوهابيين وتزويدهم بالمال والبنادق الحديثة. 

    في مرحلة لاحقة، وبعد أن استشعر محمد علي ضعف الاحتلال العثماني وسلاطينه في إسطنبول، دفع قواته إلى سوريا الطبيعية (سوريا الحالية أو الشام بلغة القوميين السوريين، فلسطين، الأردن ولبنان)، وتمكّنت القوات المصرية بقيادة إبراهيم باشا من سحق الجيوش العثمانية وقتل وأسر عشرات الآلاف منها، ثم الزحف إلى إسطنبول وضرب حصار عليها مقدّمة لإنهاء السلطنة فيها ونقل المركز إلى القاهرة. 

    خلال هذه السنوات، أطلق المصريون مشروعاً جديداً في المناطق التي حرّروها من الاحتلال العثماني ومن ربقة التحالف السعودي الوهابي، ومن ذلك تحديث الإدارة والجيش وسك العملة، وفرض نمط من الضرائب الحديثة بدل الجباية العثمانية الإقطاعية، وكذلك توسيع البيمارستانات وإقامة العديد من مدارس التجهيز الإعدادية، كما أطلقوا موجة واسعة من التسامح بين المذاهب والطوائف وحوّلوا الأزهر إلى مرجعية فقهية ضمن التوجّه الجديد. 

    بالطبع وبالتأكيد وبسبب الطبيعة الطبقية للحكم الجديد ونزعاته الرأسمالية المبكرة بالتعاون مع الفرنسيين، ترافقت هذه الإدارة مع أساليب وسياسات استخدمت من قبل خصوم محمد علي للتحريض عليه. 

    في المقابل، أثارت استراتيجية القوس المصري – السوري أحقاد ومخاوف الاستعمار البريطاني إضافة إلى الباب العالي العثماني، وكذلك قوى عديدة عشائرية وطائفية منها الحركة الوهابية، فتجمّعت كل هذه القوى حول البعثات البريطانية ومعظمها من الجواسيس وشكّلت (جبهة) واسعة ضد المصريين، ومن ذلك: 

    – تحريض تجار الشام وبيروت والقبائل في فلسطين وشرق الأردن ضد محمد علي وشن حملة واسعة في الصحافة البريطانية نفسها، ويشار هنا إلى حصار إبراهيم باشا، قائد الجيوش المصرية لقلعة الكرك في شرق الأردن، بعد أن هرب إليها عدد من قادة التمرد في جبال نابلس المدعومين من المخابرات البريطانية، ومن المؤسف أن هناك من اعتبر التحالف بين قادة التمرد في نابلس والكرك ضد توحيد مصر وسوريا جزءاً من التاريخ الوطني. 

    – بيد أن الأخطر من كل ذلك هو مؤتمر لندن الذي عقد بدعم ورعاية عائلة روتشيلد اليهودية وبالتنسيق مع رئيس وزراء الإمبريالية البريطانية آنذاك، وهو دزرائيلي (من أصول يهودية). وقد شارك في المؤتمر إضافة إلى ممثلي الحكومة البريطانية وروتشيلد نفسه، ممثلون عن إمبراطورية النمسا – المجر، وروسيا القيصرية، وقرّروا حشد قوة بحرية وبرية لإجبار محمد علي على فك الحصار عن إسطنبول والانسحاب من سوريا. وعندما أدرك محمد علي صعوبة هذا الموقف بعد تخلّي فرنسا عنه، انصاع لمطالب مؤتمر لندن. 

    التجربة الثانية.. عبد الناصر

    بعد أقل من قرن على تجربة الوحدة المصرية السورية الأولى، تشكّلت ظروف شبيهة إلى حد ما من حيث، ظهور زعيم قوي بكاريزما تاريخية هو جمال عبد الناصر، ومن حيث الدور البريطاني ومعه القوة الإمبريالية الجديدة ممثلة بالولايات المتحدة، ومن حيث الدور التركي، وكذلك دور الوهابية وجماعات التجار وأوساط من القبائل وتجار الدين. 

    بعد سنوات قليلة من ثورة تموز/يوليو 1952 في مصر، وجدت الثورة نفسها بقيادة جمال عبد الناصر في مواجهة تحديات داخلية وخارجية متشابكة: الكيان الصهيوني، رواسب الإقطاع، وشركة قناة السويس البريطانية وأصابعها من البرجوازية الطفيلية وبقايا حكم الملكية الفاسدة وجماعات حسن البنا مؤسس الإخوان المسلمين والإسلام السياسي المموّل من هذه الشركة.

    فكان تأميم قناة السويس في الداخل والتصدي لحلف بغداد في الخارج (الحلف هو الذراع العسكري الجنوبي لحلف الأطلسي ومركزه الإقليمي، التركي – العراقي)، كما أدركت الثورة الناصرية مبكراً أن المعركة في بر مصر شديدة الصلة بالمعركة في بر سوريا والأمة عموماً، بل أن المتروبولات الإمبريالية وخاصة لندن وواشنطن سرعان ما راحت تطوّق الثورة المصرية من خلال محاولات الاستحواذ على الشرق العربي وخاصة سوريا.

    وعندما فشلت في جر دمشق إلى حلف أنقرة – بغداد، دفعت القوات التركية إلى احتلال شمال سوريا 1957 وشق الجيش السوري (الفتي) بمجموعات منشقة تحت عنوان (الجيش الحر) مرتبطة بحكومة انتقالية تديرها بريطانيا والولايات المتحدة من تركيا (النسخة الأصلية لما شهدته سوريا في العشرية السوداء)، وقد شارك في حكومة الائتلاف العميلة آنذاك بقايا الرواسب الإقطاعية والبرجوازيات الطفيلية وأوساط ليبرالية وجماعة الإخوان المسلمين والإرهاصات الأولى للوهابية خارج حدود السعودية وقطر.

    في هذه اللحظة التاريخية، أصرت القوى الوطنية السورية بكل تياراتها على إقامة وحدة كاملة مع مصر برئاسة جمال عبد الناصر، ومع أن مصر لم تكن مستعدة تماماً لهذه التجربة، فقد تجاوبت معها بسرعة.

    وكما في مشهد القرن التاسع عشر، وجدت الوحدة المصرية السورية الجديدة (1958 – 1961) نفسها أمام قوى وأساليب وأدوات وتحالفات وسياسات تشبه سابقتها: بريطانيا من جديد ومعها الولايات المتحدة، تركيا المحمولة من الغرب الرأسمالي الاستعماري، والوهابية بثوبها الجديد، إضافة إلى رشوة وتحريض واسعين في أوساط قبلية وطائفية تحت العنوان نفسه (التخلص من الاستعمار المصري). 

    أيضاً، إذا كانت اليهودية العالمية قد تحرّكت ضد محمد علي من خلال روتشيلد وبيوتاته المالية في القرن التاسع عشر، فقد عادت في التجربة الجديدة من خلال الروتشيلدية الجديدة وأداتها الكولونيالية الاستياطنية باسم الكيان الإسرائيلي، بل إن هذا الكيان وبتوصية روتشيلد من خلال ما عرف بصندوق اكتشاف فلسطين لتمويل الاستيطان اليهودي، هو الذي نصح بريطانيا والغرب بإقامة “بافر ستيت” يهودي في فلسطين بعد احتلالها، يفصل مصر عن سوريا الطبيعية ولا يسمح بتكرار تجربة محمد علي.

    ومن المؤسف أن مصير الوحدة الجديدة لم يكن أفضل من سابقتها بعد الانفصال الذي شاركت فيه قوى متعددة، ولم تشكّل أخطاء الوحدة مبرّراً حقيقياً للانفصال الذي يعود في حقيقته إلى التآمر الخارجي ودور المخابرات البريطانية والأميركية وأعوانهما السياسيين وقوى البرجوازية التي تضرّرت من قوانين التأميم والإصلاح الزراعي. ومن المؤسف كذلك أن مواقف قوى محسوبة على الحركة الوطنية قدّمت غطاء لهذا الانفصال، إضافة إلى رفض جمال عبد الناصر الدفاع عن الوحدة بالقوة، متجاهلاً أنه ما من وحدة قومية في التاريخ قامت بطريقة سلمية ومن دون شلال من الدم.

    وما زلنا وسنبقى نراوح مكاننا إذا لم تقم تجربة ثالثة لبناء القوس المصري – السوري كرافعة تاريخية مناهضة بالضرورة للتحالف الإمبريالي – الصهيوني- الرجعي– العثماني، فإما هذا القوس التاريخي وإما كيانات برسم التشظي إلى هويات قاتلة وكانتونات طائفية وجهوية ومجالات حيوية يتقاسمها العدو الصهيوني والعثمانيون الجدد تحت سقف الإمبريالية العالمية.

    إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

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    Resistance refuses Egypt request against retaliation: Al Mayadeen

    Feb 23, 2023

    Source: Al Mayadeen Net

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    Sources from the Palestinian resistance tell Al Mayadeen that the resistance rejected the Egyptian request for a military response, stressing the need to unite the fronts.

    Palestinian resistance factions in Nablus, February 23, 2023. (Social media) 

    Palestinian resistance sources told Al Mayadeen on Thursday, that efforts have been made since yesterday to keep the situation from devolving into a wider battle against the backdrop of the Nablus massacre.

    The sources said that the Egyptian mediator asked the resistance factions in Gaza not to respond militarily, and to stick to popular resistance, demonstrations, and protests in the occupied West Bank. However, the Egyptian request, according to the sources, was a warning against Israeli consequences if the resistance decides to respond. 

    The resistance rejected this request of “extortion” and stressed the need to establish a “unity of  the fronts.”

    Sources confirmed that the rocket attack that took place on Thursday morning will not be the only response, emphasizing that all options remain open.

    According to the sources, the UN envoy also took part in the calls for negotiations against retaliation. 

    This comes at a time when the Hamas movement affirmed that the resistance in the Gaza Strip will always be present to defend the people, adding that it monitors all the details of the Israeli crime against the Palestinian people and confirmed that its patience is running out.

    The Palestinian resistance resumed its bombing of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning, amid overflights of occupation warplanes in response to Israeli aggression.

    For its part, the Lions’ Den resistance group sent an urgent message to the Palestinian people and their resistance fighters, urging them to take to the streets and clash with the occupation in conjunction with the ongoing Israeli aggression in Nablus.

    The Lions’ Den vowed “We will respond in kind to the occupation, and everyone must know that simply issuing statements denouncing ‘Israel’s’ actions will not suffice.”

    This comes after clashes broke out between the occupation forces and resistance fighters, following the storming of the eastern market area in the city of Nablus, on Wednesday, as a result of which 11 Palestinians, including a boy, were martyred, and hundreds were wounded by occupation fire.

    Likewise, the Secretary-General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement, Ziyad al-Nakhala, affirmed on Wednesday that what happened in Nablus is a major crime committed by the occupation against the Palestinian people, stressing that it is the duty as resistance forces to respond to this crime without hesitation.

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    مقاربات ما بعد الزلزال: الإمارات أثبتُ «المُصالحين»

     الخميس 16 شباط 2023

    اللافت هو الموقف الأميركي غير المُتشدّد، أقلّه راهناً، إزاء الانفتاح العربي على سوريا (أ ف ب)

    مصطفى شلش  

    عادت سوريا، عقب الزلزال المدمّر الذي ضربها وتركيا في السادس من شباط، إلى واجهة الأحداث، لكن هذه المرّة على وقْع الخلاف حول كيفية إدخال المساعدات الدولية والأممية إلى البلد المنكوب، في ظلّ وجود مناطق خارجة عن سيطرة دمشق، والعقوبات الأميركية والأوروبية المفروضة على الأخيرة. وجدت واشنطن وبروكسل نفسَيهما، إثر ذلك، واقعتَين تحت ضغط الحاجة إلى التراجع عن حصارهما الخانق ضدّ سوريا، بينما بدأت مقاربات الدول العربية تتّخذ أشكالاً أكثر وضوحاً وثباتاً، بعدما هيمنت عليها، خلال عام 2022، الحرب الروسية – الأوكرانية، وأزاحت سوريا من قائمة أولوياتها (على عكْس الفترة الواقعة بين عامَي 2011 و2019)، وشغلتْها بمحاولة الموازنة بين الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد الأوروبي وروسيا والهند والصين.

    وكانت المتغيرّات التي شهدها الإقليم منذ عام 2013، بدءاً من إطاحة حُكم «الإخوان المسلمين» في مصر، مروراً بنموّ التنظيمات الإرهابية وسيطرتها على مساحات واسعة في سوريا والعراق، لعبت دوراً في إعادة تشكيل التحالفات، حيث اضطرّت قطر وتركيا إلى إجراء تغييرات تكتيكية في دعْمها للجماعات الإسلامية، بينما بدأت بلدان أخرى مِن مِثل السعودية والإمارات وبشكل أقلّ الجزائر تستشعر خطراً متزايداً من تلك الجماعات. هكذا، تَقلّص تدريجاً الدعم المالي – الهائل – للمعارضة السورية المسلّحة التي سيطرت عليها في أغلبها تيّارات إسلامويّة مُتطرّفة، فيما لم تَعُد مسألة تغيير النظام السوري عبر العمل المسلّح ممكنة، خصوصاً منذ اقتحام روسيا الساحة السورية عام 2015. وعلى خطّ موازٍ، أصبحت البلدان الخليجية (السعودية والإمارات) ومصر – بشكل أقلّ – أكثر قلقاً على أمن الملاحة البحرية، ومن النفوذ الإيراني المُتزايد في العراق وسوريا ولبنان وحديثاً اليمن، بالإضافة إلى مخاطر الأمن السيبراني والإرهاب.
    وبنتيجة كلّ تلك المتغيّرات، وعلى ضوء أداء الدول العربية في أعقاب الزلزال الكارثة، يمكن القول إن ثمّة مقاربتَين عربيتَين في التعامل مع القضية السورية، الأولى إماراتية – مصرية، والثانية سعودية. وإذ تشترك كلتاهما في هدف واحد هو إنهاء الصراع وعودة الاستقرار والأمن إلى البلاد، إلّا أنهما تختلفان في الوسائل والطُرق والخطاب الديبلوماسي.

    المقاربة الأولى (الإماراتية – المصرية)

    الاتّصال الإماراتي – المصري مع دمشق، استند إلى التحوّل في أولويات السياسة الخارجية للبلدَين، وتقدير مصالحهما الاقتصادية والأمن القومي، وهو ما بدأ منذ عام 2013. آنذاك، توقّفت أبو ظبي والقاهرة عن تبنّي موقف الإدانة الحادّ والعلني ضدّ النظام السوري والدعم الكامل للمعارضة، كما كان سائداً بين عامَي 2011 و2012. بالنسبة إلى القاهرة، بقيت القنوات الديبلوماسية والاقتصادية والاستخبارية مفتوحة بشكل غير رسمي، فيما سُجّلت عام 2014 أوّل زيارة للرئيس المصري، عبد الفتاح السيسي، إلى سوريا، حيث أعلن أن الأخيرة هي العمق الاستراتيجي لمصر، ودعا إلى احترام وحدة أراضيها، محذّراً من تقسيمها أو تفتيتها، ومؤكداً أن هذه المسألة على صلة بالأمن القومي المصري. في السنوات الأخيرة، لم يتغيّر موقف القاهرة عملياً؛ إذ جدّد وزير الخارجية، سامح شكري، في عام 2020، التأكيد أن بلاده «مصمِّمة على عودة سوريا إلى مكانها الطبيعي على الساحتَين الإقليمية والدولية». لكن مصر ظلّت حريصة على إظهار نوع من التمايز في موقفها، وهي رعت اتّفاقَي تهدئة في الغوطة الشرقية وفي ريف حمص الشمالي، كما سمحت لأحمد الجربا، الرئيس السابق لـ«الائتلاف السوري» المُعارض، بأن يمارس نشاطه السياسي عبر ما يُسمّى «الغد السوري».

    الروابط الإماراتية مع سوريا ستتعمّق تدريجياً وتتزايد فاعليتها

    أمّا أبو ظبي فحسمت أمرها لاحقاً بالانفتاح على دمشق، خصوصاً مع تفاقُم التوتّرات الإقليمية في ملفَّي ليبيا واليمن بين عامَي 2015 و2018، وتوسُّع الحضور التُركي والإيراني على نحوٍ بات من وجهة نظرها بحاجة إلى تركيز جهود أكبر، بالإضافة إلى التوتّر داخل البيت الخليجي وقطْع العلاقات مع قطر. كذلك، لعبت المصالح المشتركة دوراً في التقارب بين سوريا والإمارات، ولا سيما أن الأخيرة كانت ثاني أكبر استثمار أجنبي مُباشر في الأولى قبل عام 2011. هكذا، استغلّت أبو ظبي قوّتها الاقتصادية في دمشق، واعتبرت أن الانخراط مع النظام سوف يأخذه بعيداً ولو بشكل تدريجي عن إيران، وأن تقديم حوافز له قد يؤدّي إلى إحراز تقدّم أفضل ممّا أفرزتْه فرضيات غير واقعية لم تنجح أبداً لأكثر من عقْد. وعليه، أضحت الإمارات «الشريك التجاري الأبرز لسوريا» بحسب وزير الاقتصاد الإماراتي، عبد الله المري، الذي أعلن أن التجارة غير النفطية بلغت 272 مليون دولار عام 2021.

    المقاربة الثانية (السعودية)

    لا تريد السعودية رؤية سوريا مجزّأة خوفاً من تأثير ذلك غير المباشر على المنطقة، لكنها تتطلّع إلى تقليص نفوذ إيران قبل أيّ تطبيع سياسي أو اقتصادي مع دمشق، التي لم تنسَ بعد، من جانبها، انخراط الرياض القوي في دعم أقوى فصائل عسكرية مُعارضة للنظام (خصوصاً “جيش الإسلام” بقيادة زهران علوش). في نهاية عام 2021، وجّه ممثّل السعودية لدى الأمم المتحدة، عبد الله المعلمي، نقداً لاذعاً إلى سوريا، قائلاً: «لا تُصدّقوا إذا قالوا إن الحرب انتهت في سوريا، وما هو النصر الذي حقّقتْه دمشق إذا وقف زعيمهم على هرَم من الجثث؟». لكن هذا الموقف الحادّ لم يَعنِ عودة المملكة إلى دعْم العمل المُسلّح في سوريا، بل بدا متعلّقاً بالدرجة الأولى بموقف دمشق مِن الهجمات الصاروخية التي تشنّها حركة «أنصار الله» اليمنية ضدّ أهداف سعودية؛ إذ ظلّت الحكومة السورية ملتزمة الصمت إزاءها، فيما ظهرت، في تشرين الأول 2021، صورة للملحق العسكري لسلطات صنعاء، العقيد شرف الماوري، مع رئيس المخابرات العسكرية السورية، أثناء اجتماعهما في دمشق.
    على هذه الخلفيّة، كما يبدو، لم تسهّل السعودية عودة سوريا إلى مقعدها في «جامعة الدول العربية»، لكن ذلك لم يمنع التعاون الاستخباري بين الرياض ودمشق؛ إذ تردّدت تسريبات، أواخر عام 2022، عن أن مدير المخابرات السورية، اللواء حسام لوقا، قام بزيارة سرّية إلى الرياض عبر مطار بيروت، استغرقت 4 أيام، بعدما كان شهد عام 2021 حدثَين مُهمَّين، هما:

    اولا- اجتماع كشفت عنه مصادر مصرية بين لوقا، ورئيس المخابرات السعودية خالد الحميدان، في القاهرة، في ما بدا أقرب إلى محاولة مصرية لتقريب وجهات النظر من بوّابة الأمن القومي الداخلي والإقليمي.

    ثانيا- مشاركة وفد من وزارة السياحة السورية برئاسة وزير السياحة، محمد مرتيني، في الاجتماع الـ47 لـ«لجنة منظّمة السياحة العالمية للشرق الأوسط» في العاصمة السعودية الرياض، حيث كانت تلك أوّل زيارة علنية لمسؤول سوري إلى المملكة منذ أكثر من عقد.

    على أن ثمّة ملفّاً آخر يجعل الموقف السعودي أكثر تشدُّداً حيال سوريا، متمثّلاً في حركة تهريب المخدرات من الجنوب السوري إلى دول الخليج عبر الأردن، وهو ما تُفضّل عمّان معالجته عبر حلّ سياسي يعيد الاستقرار إلى البلاد، ويتيح مكافحة الميليشيات المُنفلتة والحدّ من تجارة المخدرات عبر الحدود. ويُضاف إلى ما تَقدّم الخلاف السعودي – السوري حول ملفّ «حزب الله»، ودوره السياسي في لبنان، حيث يحظى بدعم سوري مُطلق، فيما ترى المملكة إلى ضرورة تحجيم هذا الدور، خصوصاً أن السعوديين يَعتبرون لبنان منصّة «عدائية» ضدّهم في ما يتعلّق بالملفّ اليمني، سواءً لناحية تقديم الحزب دعماً عسكرياً مفترَضاً لـ«أنصار الله»، أو استضافتِه القنوات الإيرانية الناطقة بالعربية أو تلك اليمنية التي تبثّ ضدّ المملكة.

    المستقبل السياسي للمقاربتَين

    تلقّى الرئيس السوري، بشار الأسد، مكالمة هاتفية مِن كلّ من وليّ عهد أبو ظبي محمد بن زايد، والرئيس المصري عبد الفتاح السيسي، للتعزية بضحايا الزلزال، والتعهّد بتقديم الدعم اللازم لدمشق، في وقت حطّت فيه طائرة وزير الخارجية الإماراتي، عبد الله بن زايد، في سوريا، كأبرز مسؤول عربي يزور البلاد خلال الكارثة التي حلّت بها. في المقابل، لم يتمّ الإعلان عن أيّ تواصل رسمي مِن قيادات المملكة مع دمشق، في حين بدأت الرياض تسيير رحلات مساعدات إلى المناطق الخاضعة لسيطرة الحكومة السورية، توازياً مع تقديمها دعماً إنسانياً للشمال الغربي حيث معاقل المعارضة، تماماً مثلما فعلتْ أيضاً القاهرة حتى تُظهر نفسها كعنصر محايد وقادر على التواصل مع الأطراف كافّة، وهو ما تتفهّمه دمشق التي حرصت، أقلّه عبر وسائل إعلامها، على إظهار امتنانها لمصر، وفي الوقت نفسه عدم توجيه أيّ نقد غير ديبلوماسي إلى السعودية.

    اللافت هو الموقف الأميركي غير المُتشدّد، أقلّه راهناً، إزاء الانفتاح العربي على سوريا، علماً أن شركات إماراتية كانت بدأت بالفعل ببناء محطّة طاقة شمسية بقدرة 300 ميغاوات بالقرب من دمشق منذ منتصف تشرين الثاني 2021، بينما تعتزم القاهرة المشاركة في أيّ عملية إعادة إعمار سوريا. ومع بدء التقارب التركي – السوري، والأردني – السوري، ستكون واشنطن أمام مهمّة صعبة في لجْم رغبة حلفائها في المنطقة في البحث عن مصالحهم الأمنية والاقتصادية، والانفصال عن مقارباتها في غير ملفّ، خصوصاً أن هذه الأخيرة تبدو متقلّبة وغير ضامنة للاستقرار.

    وفي انتظار ما سيتكشّف في الأيام المقبلة، فإن الروابط الإماراتية مع سوريا ستتعمّق تدريجياً وتتزايد فاعليتها، بينما ستُحافظ مصر على موقفها الرافض لتغيير النظام عبر العمل المسلّح، والدافع نحو إجراءات سياسية تنهي حالة اللااستقرار. أمّا العلاقات السعودية – السورية الحالية فهي صعبة، وأمامها طريق طويل للوصول إلى نقطة التطبيع؛ فكلا البلدَين لديهما مصالح متضاربة مع إيران وفي لبنان والعراق، بينما تصبح المسألة اليمنية ورقة مناورة لصالح دمشق تَعتبرها الرياض خطّاً أحمر. لذا، ستبقى هذه العلاقات، أقلّه الآن، محصورة في التنسيق الأمني ضدّ الإرهاب وفي مكافحة الجرائم الدولية من خلال تبادُل المعلومات.

    من ملف : الأردن يكمل استدارته: هذا أوان مصالحة سوريا

    Inhumane Stipulation of Humanitarian Item in US anti-Syria Caesar Act

     February 9, 2023

    Mohammad Salami

    Eight years after the United States of America waged an international terrorist war on Syria with all the tragic atrocities suffered by the Syrian people across the entire Arab country, the US President Donald Trump signed in December “Caesar Act” allegedly aimed at protecting the Syrians.

    Paradoxically, the Act, which came into force on June 17, 2020, was not passed by the US Congress to protect the innocent Syrian civilians from the terrorist groups backed by Washington and allies. However, the target was the democratically-elected Syrian President Bashar Assad and the government, which means besieging Syrian and cutting off its official supply line.

    In addition to the socioeconomic woes suffered by the Syrian people due to Caesar Act, the neighboring countries, including mainly Lebanon, were deprived from all the geographical and economic privileges that could be gained out of the relations with Syria.

    Due to Casar Act Jordan and Egypt were not allowed to provide Lebanon with electric power and gas as the US administration rejected to grant them any waiver.

    On February 6, 2023, a devastating earthquake hit Syria and Turkey, killing and injuring dozens of thousands of residents and destroying huge numbers of buildings.International aids rushed into Turkey, but Caesar Act prevented most of the world countries, except  Iran, Iraq, China, Russia, Lebanon and Algeria, from sending aids to Syria.

    Briefly, Syria is suffering a big calamity. The following video shows rescue teams dragging the corpse of a father with his alive son out of the debris.

    Back to the text of Casar Act, in case of humanitarian crises, the US President may waive, for renewable periods not to exceed 2 years. However, the Act stipulates that the waiver must address a humanitarian need and, simultaneously, be consistent with the national security interests of the United States.

    Caesar Act Item

    In other words, the political considerations of the United States comprise the essence of the humanitarian waiver, which exposes the crises-hit civilians to more agonies.

    The US national security has been always linked to the considerations of Syria’s enemy-‘Israel’. Thus, the waiver will never be approved in accordance with the interests of the Syrian people.

    Caesar Act itself is an unjust move of aggression against the state and people in Syria, and the waivers, included in the Act, require more inhumane conditions, even in the items related to the humanitarian cases.

    Source: Al-Manar English Website

    وقع الزلزال…والتوقيت المناسب للشجعان فقط!

    وقع الزلزال…والتوقيت المناسب للشجعان فقط!

     الثلاثاء 7 شباط 2023

    ناصر قنديل

    الزلزال الذي ضرب تركيا وسورية وأسقط آلاف الضحايا والمصابين وخلّف عشرات آلاف المشرّدين بلا مأوى، كارثة إنسانية موصوفة، والعالم الذي ينفق تريليونات من الدولارات على التسلح والحروب يرسل القروش لتركيا، لكنه يحجم عن إرسال شيء الى سورية، بل يواصل المكر والخبث والكيد والحقد عبر العقوبات والحصار، كما تقول بيانات التضامن المخادعة بالحديث عن مساعدة الشعب السوري، بدلاً من القول سورية، وعبر المؤسسات الإنسانية، كي يقولوا وليس عبر الحكومة السورية، وكي يقولوا ضمناً لا شيء، لأنهم يعلمون أنّ صناديق هذه المؤسسات خاوية وقد بدأت بالتقشف في مساعداتها التي كانت تقدّمها في العام الماضي، ولحق النازحين السوريين نصيب من هذا التقشف، وبالمقارنة بين العالم ما قبل الحضارة المدينة وعالم اليوم، نكتشف بسهولة أنّ المسمّى عالم ما قبل الحضارة المدنية كان أشدّ رحمة وأكثر شهامة، وأشدّ كرماً، عندما يتعلق الأمر بالكوارث الطبيعية، حتى في حالات الحروب، فتوضع الخلافات جانبا وتتحد الجهود لدرء الكارثة، بينما لا يرفّ جفن العالم المدّعي للحضارة ولا قلب، والمطلوب رفع العقوبات والحصار، وتخفيف وطأة الكارثة.

    كلّ الذين يتهرّبون من الحقيقة السورية يخادعون أنفسهم، وهم في سرّهم يعلمون أنّ سورية سواء انتهت كارثة الزلزال عندها برقم 2000 ضحية أو عشرة آلاف ضحية، فهي ستعود وتتعافى وتقف على قدميها، كما دأبها دائماً، لكن دماء وأرواح هذا الفارق سوف يتمّ تقييدها في حساب لا يقفل على ذمة وضمائر كلّ الذين كان بوسعهم فعل شيء، ولم يفعلوه، ولنبدأ بالأمين العام للجامعة العربية مكتوم الصوت، ليكفّر عن جريمة رئاسته للوفد الذي ذهب يدعو لشنّ الحرب عليها، بعد قرار الجامعة تعليق عضويتها، لم لا يكون أول الواصلين الى دمشق يشرف بنفسه على الاتصالات الهادفة لحث الحكومات العربية على تسيير جسور جوية وقوافل بحرية وبرية لكلّ ما تحتاجه سورية في زمن الكارثة، سفن الوقود والمعدات الطبية والأدوية والمستشفيات الميدانية، والآليات الثقيلة لدعم جهود البحث والإنقاذ، والبيوت السريعة الإنشاء لإيواء المشرّدين، وأدوات التدفئة والألبسة والمطابخ الضخمة لتأمين الطعام، ومثله السؤال لكلّ حاكم عربي قادر ولم يفعل شيئا، خصوصاً في الدول العربية الغنية، وبالأخص في الخليج، وفي الطريق سؤال للحكومة اللبنانية، أليس ما تحتاجه سورية اليوم أكثر من وفد استكشافي للحاجات، هو إعلان تخصيص مطار القليعات ومرفأ طرابلس لاستقبال السفن والطائرات التي تحمل الإغاثة لسورية، والتي لا تستطيع التوجه إلى مطاراتها ومرافئها بسبب العقوبات، ومعلوم أنّ لبنان عندما يفعل ذلك لن يتعرّض لأيّ مساءلة أو أذى، وهو قادر ان يطلب من الأمم المتحدة تولي الإشراف على ما يصل عبر المطار والمرفأ نحو سورية، وربطه بزمن الكارثة.

    لأنّ سورية عائدة وسوف تتعافى رغماً عن أنوف أعدائها، ولأنهم يعرفون ذلك، فالسؤال ماذا عن أميركا وأوروبا، أليس التوقيت مناسباً، بلغة المصالح بعيداً عن الضمائر الميتة، للتذرّع بالزلزال واعتباره توقيتاً مناسباً لاستثناء كلّ ما هو إغاثي وطبي وإنساني وغذائي ومنه الوقود وما يتصل بالبنى التحتية وإيواء النازحين والمشرّدين، من كلّ ما له صلة بالعقوبات، وقد سبق للأميركيين والأوروبيين أن كتبوا وحللوا عن مشاريع تفاوض مع سورية بفعل ذلك مقابل أثمان سياسية، فماذا سوف يخسرون إنْ فعلوا ذلك دون مقابل، وهم يعلمون أنهم سوف يربحون وضع القطار على السكة، لكسر الجليد وبدء الحديث مع سورية؟

    بلغة المصلحة أيضاً أليست فرصة للسعودية ومصر اللتان تبحثان عن مدخل لبناء جسر جديد للعلاقة مع سورية، أن تصل وفود وزارية منهما على رأس قوافل الدعم والمستشفيات الميدانية، وقد سبق لهما خلال محنة مرفأ بيروت أن فعلا شيئاً مشابهاً، واعتبار التوقيت المناسب لفعل ذلك هو هذه البوابة الإنسانية؟

    بمفهوم التوقيت المناسب، هو توقيت مناسب لتركيا لتسلم مناطق سيطرتها للدولة السورية، وهي تحتاج كلّ مقدراتها داخل تركيا في مواجهة الكارثة، وتحت إشراف لجنة رباعية سورية روسية إيرانية تركية تقام غرفة عمليات مشتركة، تفتح الطرق، وتدير فرق الإغاثة، في كلّ المناطق السورية، وهي فرصة للذين تورّطوا في الخروج عن حضن الوطن ليعودوا ويظهروا بعضاً من وطنية في زمن الكارثة.
    التوقيت المناسب للشجعان فقط!

    مساعدات عربية تصل إلى دمشق… وجسر جوي من الرياض

    الأخبار  الثلاثاء 7 شباط 2023

    بعد أن تركّزت مساعدات الدعم العربي والدولي بشكل رئيسي إلى تركيا التي عرضت 70 دولة إرسال مساعدات إليها بحسب الرئيس رجب طيب إردوغان، وصلت اليوم إلى سوريا، اليوم، طائرات من دول عربية عدّة، في إشارة إلى «خرق» للحصار الأميركي المفروض على سوريا عبر قانون «قيصر»، ما قد يساهم في مساعدة المناطق المنكوبة جراء الزلزال الذي ضرب تركيا وسوريا أمس.

    ويأتي ذلك بالتزامن مع مواصلة عمليات البحث عن ناجين اليوم في ظلّ طقس شديد البرودة، بينما تجاوزت حصيلة ضحايا الزلزال المدمر أكثر من 7100، 1712 قتلوا في سوريا، و5434 شخصاً في تركيا.

    وكان لافتاً موقف السلطات السعودية التي أمرت اليوم بـ«تسيير جسر جوّي وتقديم مساعدات صحية وإيوائية وغذائية ولوجستية لتخفيف آثار الزلزال على الشعبين السوري والتركي، وتنظيم حملة شعبية عبر منصة «ساهم» لمساعدة ضحايا الزلزال في سوريا وتركيا»، في حين لم تتطرق أمس إلى أي مساعدات.

    وعمد العراق إلى الأمر نفسه، إذ فتحت بغداد ممراً جوياً مخصصاً للمساعدات الإنسانية وسترسل الوقود غداً الأربعاء. كما وصلت طائرتان عراقيتان إلى دمشق تحمل كل منهما 70 طناً من المواد الغذائية والبطانيات والإمدادات الطبية، من بين أشياء أخرى، بحسب وكالة «سانا».

    ومن لبنان، توجّه فوج من الجيش اللبناني وفرق إنقاذ خاصة من لجنة الصليب الأحمر اللبناني إلى سوريا، بعد أن توجّهت أمس لمساعدة تركيا. وفتحت بيروت أجواءها وموانئها مع إعفاء شركات النقل الجوي والبحري الوافدة لأغراض إنسانية من الرسوم والضرائب، بحسب وزير الأشغال اللبناني، علي حمية.

    وأفادت «سانا» أيضاً بوصول طائرة مصرية تحمل مساعدات لمتضرّري الزلزال، بعد توجيهات من الرئيس المصري عبدالفتاح السيسي، بإرسال 5 طائرات عسكرية محملة بمساعدات طبية عاجلة إلى سوريا وتركيا، وذلك في أعقاب اتصال هاتفي أجراه السيسي مع الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد.

    ومن جانبها، أرسلت الإمارات طائرات نقلت «مساعدات طارئة» إلى كل من سوريا وتركيا، معلنةً تخصيص مساعدات إنسانية بقيمة 100 مليون دولار مناصفة بين البلدين. وقد وصلت طائرتان إماراتيتان محملتان بالمساعدات.

    وأعلنت قطر إنشاء «مستشفى ميداني» وإرسال «فرق بحث وإنقاذ» إلى تركيا، واستعدادها إرسال 10 آلاف حاوية لتركيا، من دون التطرق إلى مساعدات لسوريا.

    مغربياً، كانت الجزائر سبّاقة في الاستجابة لإغاثة المناطق المنكوبة في سوريا، إذ أرسلت منذ ليلة أمس وحتى اليوم 115 طناً من المنتجات الصيدلانية والغذائية والخيام إلى سوريا التي توجه إليها ليلاً فريق حماية مدنية جزائري مكون من 86 منقذاً، بحسب وزير الداخلية الجزائري إبراهيم مراد. وقد وصلت ثلاث طائرات جزائرية إلى مطار حلب الدولي، محملة بالمساعدات الطبية والغذائية والإنسانية، بحسب «سانا».

    كذلك، أرسلت الجزائر إلى تركيا أمس 17 طناً من معدات التدخل فضلاً عن «مجموعة أولى من 89 عميلاً متخصصاً في إدارة المخاطر الكبرى»، وفقاً للعقيد في الحماية المدنية فاروق عاشور.

    من جانبها، قررت تونس إرسال 60 منقذاً، 41 منهم لتركيا، بينهم أطباء، و19 إلى سوريا. كما سيتم إرسال أطباء من وزارة الصحة وفرق من الهلال الأحمر التونسي. وسترسل تونس أكثر من 15 طناً من المساعدات من البطانيات والأغذية وحليب الأطفال، 11 منها إلى تركيا و4 إلى سوريا.

    كذلك، وصلت طائرة ليبية إلى مطار حلب الدولي تحمل مساعدات إغاثية للمتضررين، بعد أن أمر رئيس الوزراء الليبي عبد الحميد الدبيبة بالإرسال «الفوري» لفريق بحث وإنقاذ مكون من 55 منقذاً تابعين للحماية المدنية والهندسة العسكرية وخمسة كلاب.

    وجهّزت عمان أولى طائرات الإنقاذ التابعة للقوات الجوية الأردنية محملة بالمعدات الطبية واللوجستية، بالإضافة إلى فريق يضم 99 من عمال الإنقاذ وخمسة أطباء من الخدمات الطبية الملكية.

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    Iran on the Erdogan – Assad Rapprochement Path, Meaning and Timing

     FEBRUARY 6, 2023

    It seems clear that the entry of Iran into the line came at the request of Damascus, which thus wanted to balance the Iranian role with the information that constantly talks about common and intertwined personal and official interests between Presidents Putin and Erdogan.

    The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published on 2nd Feb 2023 on Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

    Two days after President Erdogan’s statements, in which he said, “Let Turkey, Iran, and Syria meet to discuss possibilities for a final solution,” Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said, in the press conference, with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, in Moscow, “Today, an agreement has been reached aimed at Iran’s participation in the process of settling and normalizing relations between neighboring Turkey and Syria.

    This means Cairo’s approval, perhaps on behalf of other Arab countries, of the Iranian role. This was recognized, the day before yesterday, by Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s spokesman, when he said, “We will be happy with Iran’s contribution to the mediation efforts with Damascus because Tehran is an important player in the Syrian crisis from the beginning.”

    Minister Lavrov’s words came after a series of contacts and visits by his Iranian counterpart, Hussein Abdollahian, to Beirut, Damascus, and Moscow, followed by the visit of the Foreign Minister of Qatar, Ankara’s ally, to Tehran, days after the Abu Dhabi summit, in which the leaders of a number of Arab countries, including Qatar and Egypt, participated. This explains Minister Lavrov’s taking advantage of Minister Shukri’s visit to Moscow to talk in his presence about Iran’s involvement in the mediation efforts between Erdogan and President Assad.

    It seems clear that Iran’s entry into the line came at the request of Damascus, which thus wanted to balance the Iranian role with the information that constantly talks about common and intertwined personal and official interests between Presidents Putin and Erdogan, which was reason enough for Moscow not to put pressure on Ankara on the issue of Idlib and the Syrian north. in general, but succeeded in persuading Ankara to seek rapprochement with Damascus.

    There is much talk in the Turkish media about Russian financial support for Erdogan, to help him win the upcoming elections, which are crucial for Erdogan, Turkey, and Russia as well.

    It has become clear that Turkey, before and after these elections, will witness interesting developments related to Erdogan’s foreign calculations, which will have direct and indirect repercussions on the internal situation. The Syrian crisis comes at the forefront of these calculations, and the reason for this is the problem of the Syrians in Turkey, which will be an important electoral material that the opposition will use against Erdogan.

    It has also become clear that he, that is, Erdogan will make the minimum concessions required of him to ensure his meeting with President Assad before these elections, and his chances are still few, according to all independent opinion polls, especially after the “Nation Alliance” announced its electoral project that includes 2,300 items aimed to fix everything Erdogan destroyed during his 20 years of rule.

    Among these concessions was his acceptance of Iran’s entry into the line of rapprochement between him and President Assad at this time, when Tel Aviv, Washington, Western countries, and its other allies are conspiring against Iran, which was attacked by unknown drones that targeted a military complex in the city of Isfahan.

    In parallel, tension appears between Baku and Tehran due to the armed attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Iran and the killing of one of the embassy guards. This is what some nationalist circles in Turkey and Azerbaijan exploited to launch a hostile campaign against Tehran, which they have been doing for a long time due to Iranian support for Syria in the years of the so-called “Arab Spring”.

    On Tuesday, the leader of the National Movement Party, Devlet Bahchali, who is an ally of President Erdogan, said, “Azerbaijan is a state and nation of Turkish origin, the same as South Azerbaijan,” meaning northwestern Iran. This Turkish nationalist provocation is accompanied by a similar provocation and escalation from the nationalist circles in Azerbaijan, which has established and developed in recent years intertwined military and intelligence relations with “Tel Aviv”, which has established a number of espionage bases near the Azerbaijani border with Iran, which is what it did in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, especially in areas under the rule of Masoud Barzani

    At a time when the Jewish lobby controls most of the Azerbaijani media, which is waging a hostile and violent campaign against Iran, which coincided with the visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to Azerbaijan, and a day later to Armenia, the two neighbors of Tehran.

    Minister Lavrov’s talk about an “agreement” on Iran joining the Russian mediation between Assad and Erdogan seems clear that it came in support of the Astana process, but this time with Egyptian and Gulf approval, which may be reflected in support for the Egyptian-Turkish reconciliation path, that is, of course, if the Gulf capitals are sincere in their desire to return things to normal with Damascus.

    It is not clear what practical positions the aforementioned capitals will take towards Iran entering the rapprochement line, which, if achieved, will undoubtedly be with the consent of the Gulf, which Erdogan hopes to support him financially, politically, and psychologically on the eve of the elections that will be on May 14.

    Everyone knows that Erdogan was and still needs significant financial support from abroad, just as he needs media materials to help him gain more support, which will be achieved by meeting President Assad and announcing together their agreement to return Syrian refugees to their country. It is the issue that, if Erdogan succeeds in it, he will pull the rug out from under the feet of the opposition, which holds him responsible for the refugees and the entire Syrian crisis.

    And while waiting for the American, Israeli, and European reaction to Iran’s entry into the mediation line between Erdogan and Assad, which is a victory for Iranian diplomacy at this particular time, everyone is waiting for President Erdogan to take practical and quick moves to resolve the issue of rapprochement before he is exposed to any external pressure, and the situation east of the Euphrates will be one of the most important elements of these pressures, since the rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus will aim, first or second, at joint action against the Kurdish “SDF” and “People’s Protection Units”.

    This will be the biggest challenge for Erdogan and before Assad, especially if the Americans think about confronting Russian plans through Turkey, Syria, Iran, and perhaps Iraq as well. This may lead to a real and serious crisis in the relationship between Ankara and Washington, and it has enough reasons for such a crisis, as Turkey is a member of NATO which has many of its bases on its soil.

    Ultimately, the bet remains on the success of Russian diplomacy in persuading Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar (Erdogan’s ally) of the necessity of urgency in achieving the Turkish-Syrian rapprochement, and by completing it, Erdogan’s reconciliations with Cairo, Abu Dhabi, and Riyadh will acquire practical importance from which everyone will benefit.

    And without it being clear how Tel Aviv will respond to these Russian moves, which Washington will obstruct by various means, and its biggest weapon for that is the Syrian Kurds with their extensions in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. They are Tel Aviv’s weapon also until the Gulf regimes convince Netanyahu and his allies in the terrorist government that the war is no longer in their interest and that the Palestinian youth generation, after the events in Jenin and the heroic Al Quds (Jerusalem) operation, is not the generation that will surrender to the conspirators against it internally, regionally and internationally, as long as there are those who stand and will stand by its side among the honorable people of the nation, and everyone knows them and they are the true source of terror for the Zionist entity and its allies in the region!


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    Sources to Al Mayadeen: PIJ, Egypt fail to show new breakthrough

    February 3, 2023

    Source: Al Mayadeen

    Secretary-General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement, Ziyad al-Nakhalah. (Archive) 

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    Palestinian sources told Al Mayadeen that the talks mainly revolved around the movement’s activity in Jenin and calm in the occupied West Bank.

    Palestinian sources confirmed to Al Mayadeen on Sunday that the Cairo talks between the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement (PIJ) and the Egyptian General Intelligence Directory failed to show any new breakthrough.

    According to the sources, discussions revolved around the movement’s activity in Jenin and calm in the occupied West Bank and are to continue today.

    It also made it clear that the Israeli occupation wants the “resistance to preserve calm, and for PIJ not to take action in occupied Al-Quds and West Bank, even if the IOF’s operations there continued.”

    This comes after the Secretary-General of the PIJ, Ziyad al-Nakhalah, and the accompanying delegation met with the head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service, Minister Abbas Kamel, yesterday in the Egyptian capital.

    PIJ indicated in a statement yesterday, that “the two sides discussed bilateral relations and Egyptian efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, and ways to reunite the Palestinian ranks.”

    Al Mayadeen’s sources revealed last week an upcoming visit by Al-Nakhalah, to Cairo, upon an Egyptian invitation.

    The delegation includes five members of the Political Bureau in Gaza and others from abroad, accompanied by the Secretary-General, the sources stated.

    Based on the sources’ information, the delegation headed to Cairo to attend meetings with Egyptian officials to discuss escalations, especially under the new Israeli government.

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    Pakistan is facing a hybrid war

    January 24, 2023


    by Zamir Ahmed Awan 

    It is believed that the world is changing rapidly, technology has been improving at an accelerated speed, geopolitics is also changing, new alliances are emerging, and trade pattern has been transformed, and so on. But, one thing is not changed – the suffering of humankind. Human beings are still killed and forced to flee from their homes, and countries and poverty have grown. In addition to natural disasters, human-made disasters are even geared up.

    Economic sanctions, narrative war, media war, etc., all are modes of hybrid war. The cold war may have been replaced by the Hybrid war, but, the mentality remained the same. Any country on the left side of the US is facing a hybrid war. Either, it is Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, or any other country, is facing similar challenges of hybrid war.

    It is a matter of highly significant that we must understand the concept of hybrid war. Many scholars, researchers, and intellectuals are studying it around the globe, many conferences and seminars are being conducted worldwide and plenty of literature is available.

    Pakistan is a typical case of hybrid war and facing it for a couple of decades. On the economic front coercion at the hands of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to the war of narratives by the arch-rival: India, as revealed by the European watchdog DisInfoLab through the Indian Chronicles, to the physical penetration of the agents to create sabotage and terrorism in Balochistan and Karachi; Pakistan has faced it all. Media is in full swing to spread fake news, fabricate stories and distort Pakistan’s narrative. Unfortunately, the media is controlled by the West and over-engaged against Pakistan. Social media is also playing its dirty role too. The worst phenomenon is that many writers used Western literature as a source of information, which is totally wrong and biased against Pakistan. Pakistan could not develop its own authentic source of information yet.

    The Chinese sage, Sun Tzu is also gets quoted extensively in the context of the hybrid mannerism of warfare in contemporary wars. Some 2500 years ago, he had prophesied that the supreme acme of skill is to win the war without fighting. Breaking the will of the people of the target state would be the real victory instead of destroying them. Sun Tzu insisted that capturing the enemy forces intact so that those could be used later on. What Chinese wisdom since ancient times!

    Pakistan has immensely suffered at the hands of IFIs by accepting unacceptable demands of raising the interest rates, devaluation of the currency, removal of subsidies, increasing the cost of living, inflation, and price hike, which pushed the nation into severe poverty.

    A New Instrument of Hybrid War dilated upon the impact of economic stress on Pakistan due to the hybrid war imposed by India. India’s External Affairs Minister Jai Shankar (Hindustan Times), admitted that the “BJP Government led by Narendra Modi ensured that Pakistan remained on the Grey List of the FATF is due to us, Pakistan is under the lens of FATF, and it was kept in the Grey List. We have been successful in Pressurizing Pakistan and the fact Pakistan’s behavior has changed because of the pressure put by India.”

    Further, at least four aspects were deployed against Pakistan to hurt its economy under the ambit of hybrid warfare: International Monetary Fund (IMF), FATF, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and Karachi turmoil. It is viewed that “the best strategy of the enemy is to erode the economic strength of the targeted country.” Karachi, the economic hub and lifeline was systematically destroyed to choke Pakistan’s economy and make it dependent on international institutions. It is extremely worried about the present economic situation of the country and attributed the same to a concerted effort by the enemy under the umbrella of hybrid warfare.

    On the Narratives Warfare front, in the evolved environment where social media plays a dominant role in shaping opinion, the most important thing is to construct a narrative that is appealing and attractive enough to bring change in people’s thinking. The significance of a workable narrative that is proactive in its essence and based on sound footing aimed at unsettling the opponent’s objectives. Understanding narrative warfare is a necessary precondition for both comprehensive state policy and an informed public debate on issues, particularly security.

    At the moment, Pakistan is not only facing the risks of a possible default but also going through the highest inflation within the region as compared to Afghanistan, India, and Bangladesh. Obviously, it appears as if Pakistan has not been able to convince the donor agencies and the friendly countries to assist them at this difficult time, perhaps due to a weak narrative about its efforts toward peace and progress in Afghanistan. This is certainly very alarming because no country has suffered more than Pakistan in its efforts to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.

    Unfortunately, by design, Pakistan is being pushed to a stage where we may be asked to choose between food and nukes. It seems the evil designs worked very well. It happened with Ukraine too, at the time of getting independence from the former USSR, it was a nuke state with an abundance of nuking weapons, nuke capabilities, nuke laboratories, nuke factories, and an abundance of nuke scientists. But was pushed into an economic crisis and then offered financial assistance in return for denuclearization. Its nukes were shifted, factories closed, research abandoned, nuke human resources dismantled, and turned into a state where they could not gain nukes in the future.

    Recently, IMF has asked Sri Lanka to cut the size of its military up to half, and Egypt to cut its Army by one-third. It is not sure, what will be IMF conditions to Pakistan in the next stage. God for bid, if Pakistan is asked to cut its Army, its security may be compromised as India is an aggressive and traditional rival of Pakistan. Since independence, India has not accepted Pakistan from the core of its heart and always trying to damage and destroy it. Especially, since PM Narendra Modi has hijacked power in India his extremist policies are more aggressive and a permanent security threat not only t Pakistan but to its all neighbors. India has disputes with all its neighbors, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

    The US is supporting India to counter China and wanted all its neighbors to accept Indian supremacy. Pakistan is facing huge pressure from the US to accept Indian hegemony.

    Current political and economic instability is dangerous and may lead to disasters. There might be internal or external conspiracies, but, it is the people of Pakistan, who should stand up and take the right decisions. Our fate cannot be in the hands of a few internal or external conspirators. It is time, for the whole nation to unite and think smartly, formulate a comprehensive policy to confront the challenges being faced. Early elections and a government with a heavy mandate can take bold measures. The current PDM is more engaged in politics of power and taking steps to counter PTI only. Their energies are wasted on non-productive issues and less effort is on national issues. The new government, backed by the public may rescue the nation.

    Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, and Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail:

    What prompted the urgent, secretive summit in Abu Dhabi?

    January 20 2023

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    Key Arab heads of state convened this week for an emergency meeting that excluded the Saudis and Kuwaitis. The likely hot topics under discussion were Egypt’s economic collapse and Israel’s aggressive escalations.

    By Abdel Bari Atwan

    On 18 January, the United Arab Emirates hastily arranged a consultative summit in Abu Dhabi, which included the leaders of four member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

    Heads of state of the Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE attended the urgent summit, along with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

    The absence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and either Kuwaiti Emir Nawaf al-Ahmad or his Crown Prince Mishaal al-Ahmad was noted with some surprise. No official statements or press leaks have yet emerged to explain the omission of the two GCC leaders or their high-level representatives from the urgent consultations.

    This surprise summit came on the heels of a tripartite meeting in Cairo on 17 January, which included President Sisi, King Abdullah, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    Directly afterward, the Jordanian monarch flew to Abu Dhabi carrying a message for Emirati Emir Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) that prompted him to immediately convene a summit the next day.

    What was so urgent to necessitate an emergency meeting of Arab leaders? Why did the top Saudi and Kuwait leaders give the  summit a miss? There are several possibilities behind this swift convening of key Arab leaders in Abu Dhabi.

    First, is the rapid deterioration of Egypt’s economy after the decline of the Egyptian pound to its lowest levels in history (32 pounds to the US dollar). Spiraling inflation rates, harsh conditions imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – most notably the floating of the national currency and a heavy reduction of private contracting and trade companies affiliated with the Egyptian army – have added sharply to the economy’s downward turn.

    There are reports that the IMF has asked GCC countries to provide $40 billion in immediate aid to Egypt, otherwise the state’s collapse is imminent and inevitable.

    Second, are the dangerous policies currently under consideration by the right-wing government of Israel’s new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These include, most notably, threats to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the practical abolition of Jordan’s Hashemite Custodianship over Jerusalem, the illegal annexation of the West Bank, and the deportation of hundreds of thousands of its Palestinian residents to Jordan.

    Third, former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, warned his neighbors a few days ago on Twitter of an imminent US-Israeli aggression against Iran that could fundamentally shake the security and stability of the Gulf.

    The risk of economic collapse facing Egypt was perhaps the most important and urgent factor on the summit agenda. Financial assistance from the Gulf – once a reliable source of emergency aid – has completely stopped. Even if it continues, funds will no longer arrive in the form of non-refundable grants and unconditional deposits, as in years past.

    That approach to funding has changed as Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed bin Jadaan made clear in his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on 18 January. In previous statements, Egypt’s President Sisi has confirmed his country’s financial woes by revealing that Gulf states have stopped their aid completely.

    The absence of the Emir of Kuwait from the consultative summit may be understandable in this context – if, in fact, Egypt’s economy was the top of the summit’s agenda. The Kuwaiti National Assembly (parliament) has adopted a decision to prevent his government from providing a single dollar in aid to Egypt.

    Gulf states have provided Egypt with $92 billion since the ‘Arab Uprisings’ began to tear through the region in January 2011.

    Currently, Kuwait’s own internal governmental crisis, in addition to the deterioration of its relationship with Cairo over its deportation of Egyptian workers, can explain the emir’s absence. What is not understood so far, is why Saudi’s MbS was a no-show in Abu Dhabi.

    While Emirati leader MbZ’s warm and friendly reception of his Qatari counterpart Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani raised hopes of easing bilateral tensions, news leaks suggested that Saudi-Emirati relations are in their own state of crisis – based on growing differences over the Yemeni war and other regional issues. Perhaps this crisis is what led to a thaw in Qatari-Emirati relations.

    In addition, Egyptian-Saudi relations have collapsed to an state unprecedented for years. A report last month by US media outlet Axios revealed that Egyptian authorities have halted practical procedures in their transfer of the strategic Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi sovereignty. Egyptian official media has also launched a fierce attack on the Saudi-owned “MBC Egypt” channel and its presenter Amr Adib, accusing him of working for the Saudis amid fears the station will stop broadcasting from Egypt.

    Besides the economic aspects, the differences, squabbles, and fluctuating relations between the countries of this axis, there are other issues of significant gravity that may have been addressed at the Abu Dhabi summit.

    A key topic may have been the ambitions of Netanyahu’s unprecedentedly right-wing Israeli government – notably its prevention of Jordan’s ambassador from visiting Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, as a first step to abolish the Hashemite Custodianship over the ancient city.

    While the failure to invite Palestinian President Abbas to the Abu Dhabi summit (there is an Emirati veto against it) may suggest otherwise, Jordan – currently under US and Israeli pressure to participate in the second Negev summit in Morocco – and its monarch may have pressed this issue in Abu Dhabi.

    Gulf states that have normalized relations or opened communications with Israel would have been asked to use their influence to de-escalate these pressures. The ramifications of continued Israeli aggressions in Jerusalem and the West Bank are a direct threat to Jordan’s security and stability.

    Interestingly, all the states represented at the Abu Dhabi summit – with the exception of the Sultanate of Oman and Qatar – have signed normalization agreements with Israel. The absent Saudis and Kuwaitis, have notably not yet joined that club.

    Details of the Abu Dhabi emergency summit of heads of states have not yet emerged, but the days ahead could provide some answers. Will billions flow to Egypt to extract the country from its financial crisis? Or will the Arab House remain the same? We will have to wait to see.

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

    نصرالله: خطوة إلى الوراء… خطوتان إلى الأمام في المواصفات الرئاسية

     الجمعة 20 كانون الثاني 2023

    ناصر قنديل

    ــ برغم التوضيحات المتكررة التي قدّمها الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله حول عدم حاجة المقاومة لرئيس يحميها أو رئيس يغطيها، وحول أن القصد من رئيس لا يطعن المقاومة في ظهرها ليس الحرص على المقاومة التي تعرف كيف تحمي نفسها من التآمر والطعن، بقدر الحرص على البلد الذي سيضعه خيار الرئيس الطاعن للمقاومة في دائرة الخطر، ويعرّض سلمه الأهلي للاهتزاز، بمحاولته لوضع مقدرات الدولة في مواجهة المقاومة، بقي البعض يردّد مقولة إن المطلوب رئيس يحمي البلد لا رئيساً يحمي المقاومة، فقرر السيد نصرالله التراجع خطوة الى الوراء، ويقول بمعزل عن طعن المقاومة وعدم طعنها في المواصفات الرئاسية تعالوا لنبحث معاً أي رئيس نريد؟

    ــ بدأ السيد نصرالله جوابه على سؤال حول ما إذا كنا في قلب الانهيار، وما إذا كنا نتحمل ست سنوات رئاسية عنوانها استمرار الحال على ما هو عليه، ليقول إن لبنان يحتاج الى رئيس لأنه لا يستطيع تحمّل المزيد من الانهيار والتدهور، ولأن مدخل كل مواجهة للانهيار هو مؤسسات الدولة التي يبدأ تفعيلها من انتخاب رئيس جديد للجمهورية يليه تشكيل حكومة جديدة، لرسم السياسات واتخاذ الخطوات باتجاه يضمن الخروج من الانهيار ووضع لبنان على سكة الحل. والرئيس الذي يشكل انتخابه تمديداً للشلل في مواجهة المخاطر الداهمة التي تزحف بلبنان نحو الأسوأ، يعني رصاصة الرحمة على لبنان واللبنانيين، لأن لبنان لا يحتمل هذا الشلل لستة شهور، فكيف يتحمل ست سنوات؟

    ــ قدّم السيد نصرالله في الجواب على أي رئيس نريد من أجل الخروج من الانهيار، نسختين من السيناريوات المطلوبة رئاسياً، النسخة الأولى هي سيناريو ما يتعرّض له لبنان من دعوات للسير بسياسات يتداولها خصوم المقاومة تحت شعار دعوتهم لمواصفات الرئيس الجديد، وهي رئيس يقبله الغرب وعلى رأسه الأميركي باعتباره الفريق الذي يمسك بالمعادلات المالية الدولية وعبر كسب رضاه تنفتح أمام لبنان أبواب الحلول المالية، ورئيس يرضى عنه العرب وفي طليعتهم الخليج وفي مقدّمته السعودية، لأنهم مَن يملك المال ولبنان يحتاج إلى المساعدات، وغضب السعودية ومن خلفها الخليج على لبنان حرمه من هذه الأموال، ورئيس إن لم يذهب للسلام مع كيان الاحتلال وصولا للتطبيع فعلى الأقل رئيس لا يعرّض لبنان لامتحانات التوتر مع الكيان، ورئيس يؤمن بالعمل مع صندوق النقد الدولي الذي يملك وحده الوصفة السحرية التي تفتح أمام لبنان أبواب المؤسسات الدولية المالية والجهات المانحة، ورغم كون كل هذه المواصفات تنتخي بوصفة الابتعاد عن المقاومة وتصل إلى وضع رأسها على طاولة المساومة؛ وهو ما سبق وقصده السيد نصرالله باختصار مواصفاته الرئاسية برئيس لا يطعن المقاومة في ظهرها، قرّر السيد نصرالله تجاوز ذلك ومناقشة الفرضية بعيداً عن المقاومة وظهرها، فالتفت إلى الجغرافيا القريبة حيث تقدّم مصر مثالاً لا يمكن تخيّل قدرة لبنان على مضاهاته في ترجمة هذه الطلبات. فمهما فعل لبنان لن يبلغ منزلة مصر في الاقتراب من الغرب وأميركا خصوصاً، ومهما فعل لبنان لن يصل إلى مكانة مصر الخليجية والسعودية خصوصاً، ومهما فعل لبنان فلن يصل في تبريد الصراع مع كيان الاحتلال الى ما فعلته مصر عبر اتفاقيات كامب ديفيد، ومصر سبّاقة في تنفيذ وصفات صندوق النقد الدولي، ليخلص للقول خذوا العبرة من مصر وهي تنهار، ونريد رئيساً يجنبنا هذا الانهيار، أي ملك شجاعة القول لا لدعاة هذه الوصفات البائسة التي لا تُغني ولا تُسمن عن جوع، ولا تأتي إلا بالخراب.

    ــ انتقل السيد نصرالله الى النسخة الثانية من السيناريو، وهي أنه مقابل الضغط والحصار من الجانب الأميركي وتداعياته العربية والخليجية، هناك دول لم يستطع الأميركي إلزامها بالامتناع عن تقديم الدعم للبنان، سواء بتقديم الهبات والمساعدات كحال هبة الفيول الإيرانية، أو تقديم العروض الاستثمارية التي لا تكلف الدولة قرشاً للنهوض بقطاعات حيوية في أي خطة نهوض اقتصادية، سواء قطاع الكهرباء أو قطاع النفط أو قطاعات النقل، وأهمها العروض الروسية والصينية. وهنا طريق الضغط الأميركي هو لبنان وليس الجهات المانحة أو المستثمرة، ولبنان يحتاج رئيساً شجاعاً يقبل المساعدات ويفتح الطريق أمام الاستثمارات، ولا يخضع لدفتر الشروط الأميركي.

    ــ الرئيس السيادي هو الذي يملك شجاعة اتخاذ الموقف بقياس المصلحة الوطنية، لا بقياس المطلوب الممنوع خارجياً، ولذلك فإن التمسك بالسعي لإيصال رئيس بهذه المواصفات يستدعي عدم التهاون مع محاولات الضغط لفرض المجيء برئيس «كيف ما كان» لأن رئيس الـ «كيف ما كان» هو رئيس تعميق الانهيار وتسريع السقوط.

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    Nasrallah: No settlement in the region, West returned to proxy war

    January 19, 2023 

    Source: Al Mayadeen Net

    “My opinion is that there is no settlement”… Nasrallah decides!

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    Sayyed Nasrallah says the third version of the US project in the region is based on tightening the blockade and economic sanctions.

    Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah

    Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah pointed out on Thursday that the West has returned to the police of proxy wars, as is the case in Ukraine while focusing at the same time on exerting economic pressures and imposing sanctions.

    On the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Consultative Center for Studies and Documentation, Sayyed Nasrallah said, “The third version of the American project in the region is based on tightening the blockade and economic sanctions,” stressing that “an economic vision must not be built on wrong political calculations, including an assumption that there will be a settlement in the region.”

    Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that “there will be no settlement in the region, and the economic vision must be based on the fact that there is no stability in light of the ongoing struggle with the Israeli enemy.”

    Regarding the resources within the Mediterranean Sea, the Lebanese leader said there is no doubt that the Mediterranean has enormous resources that the world sees as a top priority. “Inevitably and definitely, there is oil on the land according to studies,” and what stopped all previous attempts to extract them is politics.

    Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted that Lebanese expatriates are exposed to danger and US aggression by placing businessmen and senior merchants on “terrorist lists on unjust charges,” stressing that “we need a political authority and a courageous state capable of taking stances, is defiant, and takes courageous decisions.”

    Read more: Sayyed Nasrallah: Hezbollah eradicated curse of US from Lebanon

    The Hezbollah Secretary-General considered that “the overwhelming concern battering Lebanon is economic, financial, and monetary,” calling on everyone to assume responsibility and save the economic and financial situation.

    The Resistance leader said there is no doubt that the economic situation is difficult in Lebanon, stressing that this is the case across the globe as many countries around the world suffer from stifling economic crises.

    The Secretary-General considered that “it is not permissible to remain in a floundering state,” stressing the importance of developing a vision for the economic situation on the basis of which plans and programs will be drawn up.

    Sayyed Nasrallah explained that the reasons for the current poor economic situation in Lebanon are “political quotas in projects, sanctions, pressures, blockade, and the consequences of internal wars and reconstruction, as well as wars and Israeli aggressions and regional events, especially the file of the refugees and displaced, which greatly burdens Lebanon.”

    Sayyed Nasrallah clarified that “the blockade means preventing aid and donations to Lebanon, preventing loans, and preventing the state from accepting donations, as happened with the Russian and Iranian donations or accepting the opening of investments” as offered by China and Russia.

    Read more: Amir-Abdollahian in Beirut: Ready to provide Lebanon with fuel

    “The United States does not want a strong state in the region, but rather, it wants its people to keep running after a loaf of bread,” he pointed out, continuing, “I invite you to examine the economic situation in Egypt, the first country to sign a peace agreement with “Israel”, is Lebanon more important to America than it?”

    Sayyed Nasrallah further stressed that “the next 6 years are crucial, and if we continue in the same way, the country is going to collapse” if it already hasn’t.

    Lebanon “wants a brave president who is willing to sacrifice and does not care about American threats if they do so,” and there are candidates who embody these characteristics, the Resistance leader noted, adding that “we are looking for a brave president of the republic, and we are looking for a government and officials of this kind.”

    Sayyed Nasrallah concluded that “the forces that call themselves sovereign know the extent of the American meddling, yet they remain silent because sovereignty is an empty slogan to them.”

    Read more: US preventing execution of Iran energy projects in Lebanon: Nasrallah

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    Sayyed Nasrallah: We Want a President Who Does Not Flutter with One US Blow! (Videos)

    January 19, 2023

    Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah in a speech delivered on Thursday, January 19, 2023.

    Batoul Wehbe

    Confident and relaxed he seemed with intermittent jokes levelled sporadically, indulging audience and attendees at once. Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah delivered a speech today (January 19, 2023), his third since the beginning of the new year.

    Marking 30th years on the establishment of the Consultative Center for Studies and Documentation, which had the lion’s share in his speech, Sayyed Nasrallah tackled several local and regional issues.

    Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah in a speech delivered on Thursday, January 19, 2023.

    His eminence began his speech by extending sincerest gratitude to “my esteemed brothers who have shouldered the responsibility of overseeing this center, as well as to all the brothers and sisters who have dedicated themselves to this center’s operation over the course of three decades,” believing that achievements were the result of ‘blessed collective efforts.’

    “Hezbollah has been concerned with the livelihood of its people for the past 30 years, despite its significant involvement in resistance and the various challenges that existed at the time. Hezbollah has, from its inception, and continues to maintain a steadfast commitment to basing its operations on a foundation of scientific and technical expertise,” Hezbollah’s leader said.

    “The Consultative Center has consistently served as the go-to resource for guidance and direction for our leadership, units, and diverse departments within Hezbollah. We have made it clear to our brothers that it is their duty to accurately represent our organization to the outside world, regardless of any challenges or unfavourable circumstances that may arise, rather than presenting a skewed or idealized version that may be more palatable,” he added.

    Additionally, Sayyed Nasrallah said, the objective of this center is to provide insightful and constructive recommendations, perspectives, and alternatives that are grounded in the vast wealth of human and humanitarian experiences that have come before us. “It is essential that we tap into the wealth of knowledge and expertise that exists within our community, by leveraging the intellectual and specialized capabilities of all individuals within it, in order to achieve our goals.”

    He went on to say that Hezbollah in its efforts to find solutions for development, advancement and problem-solving, always strives to explore the full range of possibilities within the resources and capabilities that are readily available to it.

    “The Consultative Center for Studies and Documentation serves as the vital link between us and the diverse pool of intellectual and visionary resources that we rely on to guide our actions. From the outset, our aim for this center was to establish it as an intellectually rigorous, analytical, evaluative, and visionary entity that is deeply engaged and attuned to the realities of the current situation on the ground,” Sayyed Nasrallah indicated.

    “As the leadership of Hezbollah evaluated the name of the center that was to be established as a public and inclusive entity, catering to all segments of society, We selected a more general name in order to ease work and communication. The outputs produced by the center were always heavily invested in and utilized by Hezbollah, its institutions, and its affiliated organizations.”

    “Who stands behind the Loyalty to Resistance parliamentary bloc in many studies, discussions, and observations?” Sayyed Nasrallah wondered, then he answered: It’s the Consultative Center.

    Economic Crisis in Lebanon Deepening

    Turning to the Lebanese set of crises, Sayyed Nasrallah said: No one argues that the economic situation is perplexing in Lebanon, this matter is not exceptional for Lebanon. Rather, there are many countries threatened with collapse

    “It is not permissible for us to despair, although there are attempts to spread hopelessness in the country, this is a perilous matter. It is not permissible to remain in a state of confusion, as was the case in the past years, and somewhere the competent authority must take the initiative to develop a vision to address the economic situation. On this basis, plans and programs can be drawn up based on a complete and elaborate vision.”

    “Corruption was rooted deep in the state long time ago, if each sect presented its best thoughts and expertise to assume administrative responsibilities in the state, we would not have reached this stage. One of the most important causes of the crisis is the misconception of the economic vision in the 1990s and some corrupt and deceitful economic policies. Our positions on them were clear in Parliament, the first of which was the debt policy,” Hezbollah’s S.G. affirmed.

    A more serious matter, Sayyed Nasrallah warned, was disrupting the production and making quick profits. “Thus, our economy has turned into a fragile one,” he said.

    “Also, among the reasons are sectarian quotas, absence of sustainable development, repercussions of internal wars, reconstruction, and displacement file,” he added.

    Lebanon under US Siege 

    Concerning the US blockade against Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah said: It is unfortunate that some people suggest that the blockade on Lebanon is not in place, as it is not only implemented by placing a battleship off the Lebanese coast, but also through the actions and attitudes of the American administration towards the Lebanese authority. The blockade is implemented through a variety of means, including preventing external assistance, grants, and loans from reaching Lebanon, as well as blocking the Lebanese government from accepting donations and investments, and from addressing the issue of Syrian refugees.

    “Returning to the vision that has been adopted by misguided policies, particularly that the region is moving towards resolving the conflict with the Zionist entity, that led us to the status co nowadays.”

    Sayyed Nasrallah also delved into the fact that the economic situation is being employed as means to normalize ties with the Zionist entity. In this regard, Sayyed Nasrallah warned that whoever wants to put in place new economic policies must not build a vision at the expense of a settlement in the region, assuring that there is no two-state solution, especially in light of the new corrupt and terrorist government in ‘Israel’.

    “There is no settlement with Syria, too. What happened in Syria is one of the attempts to come up with a political regime that gives the Golan Heights to the Zionist entity.”

    He also insisted on working on an economy plan that provides food security and does not rely on foreign aid and assistance.

    “The situation in the region is heading towards more tension: No settlements, no peace, and all of this will be reflected in our region,” Sayyed Nasrallah said.

    “One of the means for strength is the issue of oil and gas, as it is a huge wealth in the sea of Lebanon,” His eminence said, assuring that today, the European decision is decisive to dispense with Russian gas, as its priority is the Mediterranean wealth, because costs are lower. Therefore, he said, we have to search for companies to benefit from our national wealth.

    “We definitely have oil in our land, and our facts say that politics have forced it to stop, and the same is true in Palestine and Syria, as there is exploration and extraction of oil near our borders.”

    Abounding Strengths in Lebanon 

    Other than security with Sayyed Nasrallah enumerated as a strength to the country, he said that expatriates are also one of its main strengths, calling them “the most important financial source for the livelihood of the Lebanese.”

    “There are great hopes and points of strength. Lebanese are able to rise, they need the will, the right plan, and seriousness in action. Expatriates are exposed today to danger, harassment, and aggression by the USA through putting merchants and rich personalities on sanctions lists on unjust charges. This needs a follow-up by the state, which unfortunately ‘does nothing’,” he said.

    Ending up the part of economic blockade, Sayyed Nasrallah once again called on Lebanon to ‘look to the East’: “We must have the courage and willingness to sacrifice in the face of sanctions and in accepting donations, and we must have the audacity to say to the Chinese, “Go ahead.” Why are countries in the world allowed to invest with China while Lebanon is forbidden from doing so?”

    Referring to the refugees file, Sayyed Nasrallah said: “We need courage in dealing with the Syrian displaced file, and stop the racism accusations. This is a crisis from which all the Lebanese suffer, and we can find a decent solution for them.”

    Many people speculate that if Lebanon says it is outside the conflict with “Israel”, then everything will be resolved, his eminence noted. “I invite you to observe the situation in Egypt, the first country that made peace with the Israeli enemy,” he said, referring to the economic crisis that Egypt is suffering from despite its normalization of ties with the Zionist entity.

    “Egypt has the best relations with the US and Saudi Arabia, and it is with the International Monetary Fund. What situation is Egypt in?” Sayyed Nasrallah wondered.

    It’s worth noting that Egypt’s external debt is expected to bypass $200 billion by early next year, an almost 400 percent increase since 2016.

    In a report issued yesterday, the Financial Times said that last year, Cairo was forced to go to the IMF for the fourth time in six years. Even before that $3bn loan was secured in October, Egypt was the fund’s second biggest debtor after Argentina.

    Strong, Independent President

    In this context, Hezbollah’s secretary general warned that the next six years are crucial for Lebanon. “If we continue in the same way, the country is on the verge of collapse.”

    To this level, Sayyed Nasrallah sarcastically said “We want a president who, if the Americans blow on him, wouldn’t flutter from the Baabda Palace to the Mediterranean,” hinting at a strong president who’s able to withstand US pressure.

    “We want a brave president who is ready for sacrifice and who is not concerned with the American threats,” he said in other words, pledging patience among people as though Lebanon needs a president with a certain calibre.

    Since President Michel Aoun left the Baabda Palace in October 30, 11 parliamentary sessions have been held to elect a new president, but none bore fruit due to lack of consensus.

    Source: Al-Manar English Website

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    Europe’s gas emergency: A continent hostage to seller prices

    January 16 2023

    Europe’s reliance on Russian gas imports has been upended by sanctions against Moscow. With few options for practical alternatives, the continent will remain energy-dependent and financially-vulnerable regardless of who it imports from.

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By Mohamad Hasan Sweidan

    The 2022 outbreak of war between Russia and Ukraine revealed the importance of energy security in bolstering Moscow’s geopolitical power in Europe. The continent, which imported about 46 percent of its gas needs from Russia in 2021, found itself in a vulnerable position as it sought alternative sources.

    This presented an opportunity for the US to replace Russia and become the primary supplier of natural gas to Europe at significantly higher prices, resulting in large profits at the expense of its European allies. According France-based data and analytics firm, Kpler, in 2022 the EU imported 140 billion cubic meters (BCM) of liquefied natural gas (LNG), an increase of 55 BCM from the previous year.

    Around 57.4 BCM of this amount (41 percent) now comes from the US, an increase of 31.8 BCM, 29 BCM from Africa (20.7 percent) – mainly from Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Angola – 22.3 BCM from Russia (16 percent), 19.8 BCM from Qatar (14 percent), 4.1 BCM from Latin America (2.92 percent) – mainly from Trinidad and Tobago – and 3.37 BCM from Norway (2.4 percent).

    European gas imports 2022

    In 2022, France was the leading importer of LNG in Europe, accounting for 26.23 percent of total imports. Other significant importers included Spain (22.3 percent), the Netherlands (12.65 percent), Italy (11 percent), and Belgium (10.42 percent).

    These countries, along with Poland (4.7 percent), Greece (2.9 percent), and Lithuania (2.31 percent), imported over 90 percent of LNG exported to Europe at prices higher than Russian pipeline gas. It is worth noting that upon arrival, LNG is converted back to its gaseous state at receiving stations in Europe before being distributed to countries without such infrastructure, such as Germany.

    Graph: 2020-2022 European gas imports, by month 

    Switching dependencies

    Europe was able to reduce its reliance on Russian pipeline gas from 46 percent to 10 percent last year. This decrease, however, came at a high cost to the economy, as the price of gas rose to $70 per million British thermal units (Btu), up from $27 before the Ukraine war. By the end of the year, the price had fallen to $36, compared to $7.03 in the US.

    This price disparity has been hard to stomach. French President Emmanuel Macron went public with his annoyance: “American gas is 3-4 times cheaper on the domestic market than the price at which they offer it to Europeans,” criticizing what he called “American double standards.”

    High gas prices have made Europe an appealing destination for gas exporters from around the world, with increased interest from countries such as Egypt, Qatar, Turkey, UAE, Iran, Libya, Algeria, and those bordering the Mediterranean basin, as they either export gas, or possess gas but lack infrastructure.

    To replace the cheaper Russian pipeline gas, European countries are being forced to seek out the more expensive LNG. The EU and Britain are working to increase LNG import capacity by 5.3 billion cubic feet (BCF) per day by the end of 2023, and by 34 percent, or 6.8 BCF per day, by 2024.

    Can West Asia, North Africa meet Europe’s gas needs?

    The West Asia and North Africa region has the potential to partially meet Europe’s gas needs due to its geographic proximity and the presence of countries with large gas reserves and export infrastructure, such as Palestine/Israel, Algeria, and Egypt. However, there are several obstacles that must be considered.

    Map of natural gas pipelines to Europe

    For example, Egypt’s high production costs and increasing domestic consumption limit its export capacity. Additionally, Europe would need to be willing to pay a higher price than the Asian market for Egyptian gas.

    Israel, on the other hand, has seen an increase in gas exports to Europe in the first half of 2022 after the pipeline to Egypt via Jordan was restored in March, but it is unlikely to significantly increase exports in 2023 due to factors such as limited export capacity and high domestic consumption. Experts predict that Israel may export around 10 BCM of gas to Europe this year, similar to the amount exported in 2022.

    Qatar is the only Persian Gulf emirate that has increased its gas exports to Europe for 2022. This is largely because Persian Gulf countries prefer to sell their gas to Asian markets, where they can garner higher profits due to lower shipping costs and longer-term contracts.

    Last year, Qatar took advantage of the significant increase in gas prices to sell part of its shipments on the European spot market. According to the Qatari Minister of Energy, between 10 percent and 15 percent of Qatar’s production can be diverted to this market.

    However, it may be difficult for Europe to attract Qatari gas away from the Asian market, especially as China is expected to recover its demand for gas in 2023. In a policy home-goal, western sanctions on Iran, which has the second-largest natural gas reserves in the world, impede the investment needed to increase Iranian production.

    No real alternatives

    Iran’s lack of infrastructure connecting it to Europe and high domestic consumption also affect its export capacity. According to a report by BP, Iran produced 257 BCM of gas in 2021, of which 241.1 BCM were consumed domestically.

    With regards to Algeria, the main obstacle in increasing its gas exports to Europe is political tension with Morocco and Spain that led to the suspension of the Moroccan-European gas pipeline project, which can export 10.3 billion cubic meters of Algerian gas.

    In the case of the UAE, despite having the seventh-largest proven natural gas reserves in the world, its production is not sufficient to meet the demands of the local market and it imports a third of its gas consumption from Qatar through an undersea pipeline. European countries are currently in talks with Abu Dhabi to accelerate work on gas projects and increase production.

    As for Saudi Arabia, it consumes all of its gas production domestically and does not export any, with a total production of 117.3 BCM in 2021. There are also expectations for a significant increase in the demand for oil and coal in 2023. The World Bank reports that this is due to an increase in European countries’ reliance on these fossil fuels instead of natural gas. This increase in demand will keep oil prices high, allowing Saudi Arabia and other OPEC+ members to make large profits.

    The dilemma of growing demand

    The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that global demand for natural gas will increase to 394 BCM this year, driven in part by Europe’s need to diversify its sources of gas away from Russia. And West Asia, with its significant reserves, remains a key region for Europe to tap into for this purpose.

    The challenge remains in finding cost-effective ways to transport the gas from the region to Europe, which will necessitate building a pipeline connecting the Mediterranean Basin to the Old Continent.

    Failure to do so will result in Europe continuing to pay a high premium for its energy security without achieving true independence. The alternative for Europe is to rely on LNG from the US. This gives Europe almost complete independence from Russian gas, but keeps it weak, obedient, and dependent on American energy supplies.

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

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