The Empire splits the Orthodox world – possible consequences

 

The Saker

October 19, 2018

[This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

In previous articles about this topic I have tried to set the context and explain why most Orthodox Churches are still used as pawns in purely political machinations and how the most commentators who discuss these issues today are using words and concepts in a totally twisted, secular and non-Christian way (which is about as absurd as discussing medicine while using a vague, misunderstood and generally non-medical terminology). I have also written articles trying to explain how the concept of “Church” is completely misunderstood nowadays and how many Orthodox Churches today have lost their original Patristic mindset. Finally, I have tried to show the ancient spiritual roots of modern russophobia and how the AngloZionist Empire might try to save the Ukronazi regime in Kiev by triggering a religious crisis in the Ukraine. It is my hope that these articles will provide a useful context to evaluate and discuss the current crisis between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Moscow Patriarchate.

My intention today is to look at the unfolding crisis from a more “modern” point of view and try to evaluate only what the political and social consequences of the latest developments might be in the short and mid term. I will begin by a short summary.

The current context: a summary

The Patriarchate of Constantinople has taken the official decision to:

  1. Declare that the Patriarch of Constantinople has the right to unilaterally grant autocephaly (full independence) to any other Church with no consultations with any the other Orthodox Churches.
  2. Cancel the decision by the Patriarch of Constantinople Dionysios IV in 1686 transferring the Kiev Metropolia (religious jurisdiction overseen by a Metropolite) to the Moscow Patriarchate (a decision which no Patriarch of Constantinople contested for three centuries!)
  3. Lift the anathema pronounced against the “Patriarch” Filaret Denisenko by the Moscow Patriarchate (in spite of the fact that the only authority which can lift an anathema is the one which pronounced it in the first place)
  4. Recognize as legitimate the so-called “Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate” which it previously had declared as illegitimate and schismatic.
  5. Grant actual grand full autocephaly to a future (and yet to be defined) “united Ukrainian Orthodox Church”

Most people naturally focus on this last element, but this might be a mistake, because while illegally granting autocephaly to a mix of nationalist pseudo-Churches is most definitely a bad decision, to act like some kind of “Orthodox Pope” and claim rights which only belong to the entire Church is truly a historical mistake. Not only that, but this mistake now forces every Orthodox Christian to either accept this as a fait accompli and submit to the megalomania of the wannabe Ortho-Pope of the Phanar, or to reject such unilateral and totally illegal action or to enter into open opposition. And this is not the first time such a situation has happened in the history of the Church. I will use an historical parallel to make this point.

The historical context:

The Church of Rome and the rest of the Christian world were already on a collision course for several centuries before the famous date of 1054 when Rome broke away from the Christian world. Whereas for centuries Rome had been the most steadfast bastion of resistance against innovations and heresies, the influence of the Franks in the Church of Rome eventually resulted (after numerous zig-zags on this topic) in a truly disastrous decision to add a single world (filioque – “and the son” in Latin) to the Symbol of Faith (the Credo in Latin). What made that decision even worse was the fact that the Pope of Rome also declared that he had the right to impose that addition upon all the other Christian Churches, with no conciliar discussion or approval. It is often said that the issue of the filioque is “obscure” and largely irrelevant, but that is just a reflection of the theological illiteracy of those making such statements as, in reality, the addition of the filioque completely overthrows the most crucial and important Trinitarian and Christological dogmas of Christianity. But what *is* true is that the attempt to unilaterally impose this heresy on the rest of the Christian world was at least as offensive and, really, as sacrilegious as the filioque itself because it undermined the very nature of the Church. Indeed, the Symbol of Faith defines the Church as “catholic” (Εἰς μίαν, Ἁγίαν, Καθολικὴν καὶ Ἀποστολικὴν Ἐκκλησίαν”) meaning not only “universal” but also “whole” or “all-inclusive”. In ecclesiological terms this “universality” is manifested in two crucial ways:

First, all Churches are equal, there is no Pope, no “historical see” granting any primacy just as all the Apostles of Christ and all Orthodox bishops are also equals; the Head of the Church is Christ Himself, and the Church is His Theadric Body filled with the Holy Spirit. Oh I know, to say that the Holy Spirit fills the Church is considered absolutely ridiculous in our 21st century post-Christian world, but check out these words from the Book of Acts: “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us” (Acts 15:28) which clearly show that the members of the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem clearly believed and proclaimed that their decisions were guided by the Holy Spirit. Anyone still believing that will immediately see why the Church needs no “vicar of Christ” or any “earthly representative” to act in Christ’s name during His absence. In fact, Christ Himself clearly told us “lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt 28:20). If a Church needs a “vicar” – then Christ and the Holy Spirit are clearly not present in that Church. QED.

Second, crucial decisions, decisions which affect the entire Church, are only taken by a Council of the entire Church, not unilaterally by any one man or any one Church. These are really the basics of what could be called “traditional Christian ecclesiology 101” and the blatant violation of this key ecclesiological dogma by the Papacy in 1054 was as much a cause for the historical schism between East and West (really, between Rome and the rest of Christian world) as was the innovation of the filioque itself.

I hasten to add that while the Popes were the first ones to claim for themselves an authority only given to the full Church, they were not the only ones (by the way, this is a very good working definition of the term “Papacy”: the attribution to one man of all the characteristics belonging solely to the entire Church). In the early 20th century the Orthodox Churches of Constantinople, Albania, Alexandria, Antioch, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Poland, and Romania got together and, under the direct influence of powerful Masonic lodges, decided to adopt the Gregorian Papal Calendar (named after the 16th century Pope Gregory XIII). The year was 1923, when the entire Russian Orthodox Church was being literally crucified on the modern Golgotha of the Bolshevik regime, but that did not prevent these Churches from calling their meeting “pan Orthodox”. Neither did the fact that the Russian, Serbian, Georgian, Jerusalem Church and the Holy Mountain (aka “Mount Athos”) rejected this innovation stop them. As for the Papal Calendar itself, the innovators “piously” re-branded it as “improved Julian” and other such euphemism to conceal the real intention behind this.

Finally, even the fact that this decision also triggered a wave of divisions inside their own Churches was not cause for them to reconsider or, even less so, to repent. Professor C. Troitsky was absolutely correct when he wrote that “there is no doubt that future historians of the Orthodox Church will be forced to admit that the Congress of 1923 was the saddest event of Church life in the 20th century” (for more on this tragedy see herehere and here). Here again, one man, Ecumenical Patriarch Meletius IV (Metaxakis) tried to “play Pope” and his actions resulted in a massive upheaval which ripped through the entire Orthodox world.

More recently, the Patriarch of Constantinople tried, once again, to convene what he would want to be an Orthodox “Ecumenical Council” under his personal authority when in 2016 (yet another) “pan Orthodox” council was convened on the island of Crete which was attended by the Churches of Alexandria , Jerusalem , Serbia , Romania , Cyprus , Greece, Poland , Albania and of the Czech Lands and Slovakia. The Churches of Russia, Bulgaria, Georgia, and Antioch refused to attend (the US OCA – was not invited). Most observers agreed that the Moscow Patriarchate played a key role in undermining what was clearly to be a “robber” council which would have introduced major (and fully non-Orthodox) innovations. The Patriarch of Constantinople never forgave the Russians for torpedoing his planned “ecumenical” council.

Some might have noticed that a majority of local Churches did attend both the 1923 and the 2016 wannabe “pan Orthodox” councils. Such an observation might be very important in a Latin or Protestant context, but in the Orthodox context is is absolutely meaningless for the following reasons:

The theological context:

In the history of the Church there have been many “robber” councils (meaning illegitimate, false, councils) which were attended by a majority of bishops of the time, and even a majority of the Churches; in this article I mentioned the life of Saint Maximos the Confessor (which you can read in full here) as a perfect example of how one single person (not even a priest!) can defend true Christianity against what could appear at the time as the overwhelming number of bishops representing the entire Church. But, as always, these false bishops were eventually denounced and the Truth of Orthodoxy prevailed.

Likewise, at the False Union of Florence, when all the Greek delegates signed the union with the Latin heretics, and only one bishop refused to to do (Saint Mark of Ephesus), the Latin Pope declared in despair “and so we have accomplished nothing!”. He was absolutely correct – that union was rejected by the “Body” of the Church and the names of those apostates who signed it will remain in infamy forever. I could multiply the examples, but what is crucial here is to understand that majorities, large numbers or, even more so, the support of secular authorities are absolutely meaningless in Christian theology and in the history of the Church and that, with time, all the lapsed bishops who attended robber councils are always eventually denounced and the Orthodox truth always proclaimed once again. It is especially important to keep this in mind during times of persecution or of brutal interference by secular authorities because even when they *appear* to have won, their victory is always short-lived.

I would add that the Russian Orthodox Church is not just “one of the many” local Orthodox Churches. Not only is the Russian Orthodox Church by far the biggest Orthodox Church out there, but Moscow used to be the so-called “Third Rome”, something which gives the Moscow Patriarchate a lot of prestige and, therefore, influence. In secular terms of prestige and “street cred” the fact that the Russians did not participate in the 1923 and 2016 congresses is much bigger a blow to its organizers than if, say, the Romanians had boycotted it. This might not be important to God or for truly pious Christians, but I assure you that this is absolutely crucial for the wannabe “Eastern Pope” of the Phanar…

Who is really behind this latest attack on the Church?

So let’s begin by stating the obvious: for all his lofty titles (“His Most Divine All-Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch“ no less!), the Patriarch of Constantinople (well, of the Phanar, really), is nothing but a puppet in the hands of the AngloZionist Empire. An ambitious and vain puppet for sure, but a puppet nonetheless. To imagine that the Uber-loser Poroshenko would convince him to pick a major fight with the Moscow Patriarchate is absolutely laughable and totally ridiculous. Some point out that the Patriarch of Constantinople is a Turkish civil servant. While technically true, this does not suggest that Erdogan is behind this move either: right now Erdogan badly needs Russia on so many levels that he gains nothing and risks losing a lot by alienating Moscow. No, the real initiator of this entire operation is the AngloZionist Empire and, of course, the Papacy (which has always tried to create an “Orthodoxerein Ukraine” from the “The Eastern Crusade” and “Northern Crusades” of Popes Innocent III and Gregory IX to the Nazi Ukraine of Bandera – see here for details).

Why would the Empire push for such a move? Here we can find a mix of petty and larger geostrategic reasons. First, the petty ones: they range from the usual impotent knee-jerk reflex to do something, anything, to hurt Russia to pleasing of the Ukronazi emigrés in the USA and Canada. The geostrategic ones range from trying to save the highly unpopular Ukronazi regime in Kiev to breaking up the Orthodox world thereby weakening Russian soft-power and influence. This type of “logic” shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the Orthodox world today. Here is why:

The typical level of religious education of Orthodox Christians is probably well represented by the famous Bell Curve: some are truly completely ignorant, most know a little, and a few know a lot. As long as things were reasonably peaceful, all these Orthodox Christians could go about their daily lives and not worry too much about the big picture. This is also true of many Orthodox Churches and bishops. Most folks like beautiful rites (singing, golden cupolas, beautiful architecture and historical places) mixed in with a little good old superstition (place a candle before a business meeting or playing the lottery) – such is human nature and, alas, most Orthodox Christians are no different, even if their calling is to be “not of this world”. But now this apparently peaceful picture has been severely disrupted by the actions of the Patriarch of Constantinople whose actions are in such blatant and severe violation of all the basic canons and traditions of the Church that they literally force each Orthodox Christian, especially bishops, to break their silence and take a position: am I with Moscow or with Constantinople?

Oh sure, initially many (most?) Orthodox Christians, including many bishops, will either try to look away or limit themselves to vapid expressions of “regret” mixed in with calls for “unity”. A good example of that kind of wishy washy lukewarm language can already be found here. But this kind of Pilate-like washing of hands (“ain’t my business” in modern parlance) is unsustainable, and here is why: in Orthodox ecclesiology you cannot build “broken Eucharistic triangles”. If A is not in communion with B, then C cannot be in communion with A and B at the same time. It’s really an “either or” binary choice. At least in theory (in reality, such “broken triangles” have existed, most recently between the former ROCA/ROCOR, the Serbian Church and the Moscow Patriarchate, but they are unsustainable, as events of the 2000-2007 years confirmed for the ROCA/ROCOR). Still, no doubt that some (many?) will try to remain in communion with both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Constantinople Patriarchate, but this will become harder and harder with every passing month. In some specific cases, such a decision will be truly dramatic, I think of the monasteries on the Holy Mountain in particular.

[Sidebar: on a more cynical level, I would note that the Patriarch of Constantinople has now opened a real Pandora’s box which now every separatist movement in an Orthodox country will be able to use to demand its own “autocephaly” which will threaten the unity of most Orthodox Churches out there. If all it takes to become “autocephalous” is to trigger some kind of nationalist uprising, then just imagine how many “Churches” will demand the same autocephaly as the Ukronazis are today! The fact that ethno-phyetism is a condemned heresy will clearly stop none of them. After all, if it is good enough for the “Ecumenical” Patriarch, it sure is good enough for any and all pseudo-Orthodox nationalists!]

What the AngloZionist Empire has done is to force each Orthodox Christian and each Orthodox Church to chose between siding with Moscow or Constantinople. This choice will have obvious spiritual consequences, which the Empire couldn’t give a damn about, but it will also profound political and social consequences which, I believe, the Empire entirely missed.

The Moscow Patriarchate vs the Patriarchate of Constantinople – a sociological and political analysis

Let me be clear here that I am not going to compare and contrast the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) and the Patriarchate of Constantinople (PC) from a spiritual, theological or even ecclesiological point of view here. Instead, I will compare and contrast them from a purely sociological and political point of view. The differences here are truly profound.

Moscow Patriarchate Patriarchate of Constantinople
Actual size Very big Small
Financial means Very big Small
Dependence on the support of the Empire and its various entities Limited Total
Relations with the Vatican Limited, mostly due to very strongly anti-Papist sentiments in the people Mutual support and de-facto alliance
Majority member’s outlook Conservative Modernist
Majority member’s level of support Strong Lukewarm
Majority member’s concern with Church rules/cannons/traditions Medium and selective Low
Internal dissent Practically eliminated (ROCA) Strong (Holy Mountain, Old Calendarists)

From the above table you can immediately see that the sole comparative ‘advantage’ of the PC is that is has the full support of the AngloZionist Empire and the Vatican. On all the other measures of power, the MP vastly “out-guns” the PC.

Now, inside the Ukronazi occupied Ukraine, that support of the Empire and the Vatican (via their Uniats) does indeed give a huge advantage to the PC and its Ukronazi pseudo-Orthodox “Churches”. And while Poroshenko has promised that no violence will be used against the MP parishes in the Ukraine, we all remember that he was the one who promised to stop the war against the Donbass, so why even pay attention to what he has to say.

US diplomats and analysts might be ignorant enough to believe Poroshenko’s promises, but if that is the case then they are failing to realize that Poroshensko has very little control over the hardcore Nazi mobs like the one we saw last Sunday in Kiev. The reality is very different: Poroshenko’s relationship to the hardcore Nazis in the Ukraine is roughly similar to the one the House of Saud has with the various al-Qaeda affiliates in Saudi Arabia: they try to both appease and control them, but they end up failing every time. The political agenda in the Ukraine is set by bona fideNazis, just as it is set in the KSA by the various al-Qaeda types. Poroshenko and MBS are just impotent dwarfs trying to ride on the shoulders of much more powerful devils.

Sadly, and as always, the ones most at risk right now are the simple faithful who will resist any attempts by the Ukronazi death-squads to seize their churches and expel their priests. I don’t expect a civil war to ensue, not in the usual sense of the world, but I do expect a lot of atrocities similar to what took place during the 2014 Odessa massacre when the Ukronazis burned people alive (and shot those trying to escape). Once these massacres begin, it will be very, very hard for the Empire to whitewash them or blame it all on “Russian interference”. But most crucially, as the (admittedly controversial) Christian writer Tertullian noticed as far back as the 2nd century “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”. You can be sure that the massacre of innocent Christians in the Ukraine will result in a strengthening of the Orthodox awareness, not only inside the Ukraine, but also in the rest of the world, especially among those who are currently “on the fence” so to speak, between the kind of conservative Orthodoxy proclaimed by the MP and the kind of lukewarm wishy washy “decaf” pseudo-Orthodoxy embodied by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. After all, it is one thing to change the Church Calendar or give hugs and kisses to Popes and quite another to bless Nazi death-squads to persecute Orthodox Christians.

To summarize I would say that by his actions, the Patriarch of Constantinople is now forcing the entire Orthodox world to make a choice between two very different kind of “Orthodoxies”. As for the Empire, it is committing a major mistake by creating a situation which will further polarize strongly, an already volatile political situation in the Ukraine.

There is, at least potentially, one more possible consequence from these developments which is almost never discussed: its impact inside the Moscow Patriarchate.

Possible impact of these developments inside the Moscow Patriarchate

Without going into details, I will just say that the Moscow Patriarchate is a very diverse entity in which rather different “currents” coexist. In Russian politics I often speak of Atlantic Integrationists and Eurasian Sovereignists. There is something vaguely similar inside the MP, but I would use different terms. One camp is what I would call the “pro-Western Ecumenists” and the other camp the “anti-Western Conservatives”. Ever since Putin came to power the pro-Western Ecumenists have been losing their influence, mostly due to the fact that the majority of the regular rank and file members of the MP are firmly behind the anti-Western Conservative movement (bishops, priests, theologians). The rabid hatred and fear of everything Russian by the West combined with the total support for anything anti-Russian (including Takfiris and Nazis) has had it’s impact here too, and very few people in Russia want the civilizational model of Conchita Wurst, John McCain or Pope Francis to influence the future of Russia. The word “ecumenism” has, like the word “democracy”, become a four letter word in Russia with a meaning roughly similar to “sellout” or “prostitution”. What is interesting is that many bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate who, in the past, were torn between the conservative pressure from their own flock and their own “ecumenical” and “democratic” inclinations (best embodied by the Patriarch of Constantinople) have now made a choice for the conservative model (beginning by Patriarch Kirill himself who, in the past, used to be quite favorable to the so-called “ecumenical dialog of love” with the Latins).

Now that the MP and the PC have broken the ties which previously united them, they are both free to pursue their natural inclinations, so to speak. The PC can become some kind of “Eastern Rite Papacy” and bask in an unhindered love fest with the Empire and the Vatican while the MP will now have almost no incentive whatsoever to pay attention to future offers of rapprochement by the Empire or the Vatican (these two always work hand in hand). For Russia, this is a very good development.

Make no mistake, what the Empire did in the Ukraine constitutes yet another profoundly evil and tragic blow against the long-suffering people of the Ukraine. In its ugliness and tragic consequences, it is quite comparable to the occupation of these lands by the Papacy via its Polish and Lithuanian agents. But God has the ability to turn even the worst horror into something which, in the end, will strengthen His Church.

Russia in general, and the Moscow Patriarchate specifically, are very much in a transition phase on many levels and we cannot overestimate the impact which the West’s hostility on all fronts, including spiritual ones, will have on the future consciousness of the Russian and Orthodox people. The 1990s were years of total confusion and ignorance, not only for Russia by the way, but the first decade of the new millennium has turned out to be a most painful, but also most needed, eye-opener for those who had naively trusted the notion that the West’s enemy was only Communism, not Russia as a civilizational model.

In their infinite ignorance and stupidity, the leaders of the Empire have always acted only in the immediate short term and they never bothered to think about the mid to long term effects of their actions. This is as true for Russia as it is for Iraq or the Balkans. When things eventually, and inevitably, go very wrong, they will be sincerely baffled and wonder how and why it all went wrong. In the end, as always, they will blame the “other guy”.

There is no doubt in my mind that the latest maneuver of the AngloZionist Empire in the Ukraine will yield some kind of feel-good and short term “victory” (“peremoga” in Ukrainian) which will be followed by a humiliating defeat (“zrada” in Ukrainian) which will have profound consequences for many decades to come and which will deeply reshape the current Orthodox world. In theory, these kinds of operations are supposed to implement the ancient principle of “divide and rule”, but in the modern world what they really do is to further unite the Russian people against the Empire and, God willing, will unite the Orthodox people against pseudo-Orthodox bishops.

Conclusion:

In this analysis I have had to describe a lot of, shall we say, “less than inspiring” realities about the Orthodox Church and I don’t want to give the impression that the Church of Christ is as clueless and impotent as all those denominations, which, over the centuries have fallen away from the Church. Yes, our times are difficult and tragic, but the Church has not lost her “salt”. So what I want to do in lieu of a personal conclusion is to quote one of the most enlightened and distinguished theologians of our time, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, who in his book “The Mind of the Orthodox Church” (which I consider one of the best books available in English about the Orthodox Church and a “must read” for anybody interested in Orthodox ecclesiology) wrote the following words:

Saint Maximos the Confessor says that, while Christians are divided into categories according to age and race, nationalities, languages, places and ways of life, studies and characteristics, and are “distinct from one another and vastly different, all being born into the Church and reborn and recreated through it in the Spirit” nevertheless “it bestows equally on all the gift of one divine form and designation, to be Christ’s and to bear His Name. And Saint Basil the Great, referring to the unity of the Church says characteristically: “The Church of Christ is one, even tough He is called upon from different places”. These passages, and especially the life of the Church, do away with every nationalistic tendency. It is not, of course, nations and homelands that are abolished, but nationalism, which is a heresy and a great danger to the Church of Christ.

Metropolitan Hierotheos is absolutely correct. Nationalism, which itself is a pure product of West European secularism, is one of the most dangerous threats facing the Church today. During the 20th century it has already cost the lives of millions of pious and faithful Christians (having said that, this in no way implies that the kind of suicidal multiculturalism advocated by the degenerate leaders of the AngloZionist Empire today is any better!). And this is hardly a “Ukrainian” problem (the Moscow Patriarchate is also deeply infected by the deadly virus of nationalism). Nationalism and ethno-phyletism are hardly worse than such heresies as Iconoclasm or Monophysitism/Monothelitism were in the past and those were eventually defeated. Like all heresies, nationalism will never prevail against the “Church of the living God” which is the “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15) and while many may lapse, others never will.

In the meantime, the next couple of months will be absolutely crucial. Right now it appears to me that the majority of the Orthodox Churches will first try to remain neutral but will have to eventually side with the Moscow Patriarchate and against the actions of Patriarch Bartholomew. Ironically, the situation inside the USA will most likely be particularly chaotic as the various Orthodox jurisdictions in the USA have divided loyalties and are often split along conservative vs modernizing lines. The other place to keep a close eye on will be the monasteries on the Holy Mountain were I expect a major crisis and confrontation to erupt.

With the crisis in the Ukraine the heresy of nationalism has reached a new level of infamy and there will most certainly be a very strong reaction to it. The Empire clearly has no idea what kind of dynamic it has now set in motion.

The Saker

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A CIA lucky break? How the death of the ‘Smiling Pope’ helped Washington win the Cold War

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The sudden death of Pope John Paul I, exactly 40 years ago today, stunned the world. The ‘Smiling Pope’ had only served for 33 days. His demise and replacement by John Paul II marked an important turning point in the old Cold War.

The year 1978, as I argued in a previous op-ed, was the year today’s world was made.

There was nothing inevitable about the ascendancy of Reagan and Thatcher, the rise of groups like Al-Qaeda and IS, and the downfall of the Soviet Union. The neoliberal, neoconservative world order and its associated violence came about because of key events and decisions which took place 40 years ago. The Vatican was at the heart of these events.

The drama which unfolded there in the summer of 1978 would have been rejected as being too far-fetched if sent in as a film script. In a space of two and a half months, we had three different Popes. There was no great surprise when, on August 6, the first of them, Pope Paul VI, died after suffering a massive heart attack. The Supreme Pontiff, who had served since 1963, was 80 and had been in declining health. But the death of his much younger successor, John Paul I, a radical reformer who wanted to build a genuine People’s Church, has fuelled conspiracy theories to this day.

Cardinal Albino Luciani, the working-class son of a bricklayer (and staunch socialist), from a small town in northern Italy, was a Pope like no other. He refused a coronation and detested being carried on the sedia gestatoria – the Papal chair. He hated pomp and circumstance and pretentiousness. His speeches were down to earth and full of homely observations, with regular references to popular fiction. He possessed a gentle humor and always had a twinkle in his eye. He was by all accounts an incredibly sweet man.

But there was steel there, too. Luciani was determined to root out corruption, and to investigate the complex financial affairs of the Vatican’s own bank, and its connection to the scandal-hit Banco Ambrosiano.

While he had declared communism to be incompatible with Christianity, his father’s egalitarian ethos stayed with him. “The true treasures of the Church are the poor, the little ones to be helped not merely by occasional alms but in the way they can be promoted,” he once said. At a meeting with General Videla of Argentina, he made clear his abhorrence of fascism. “He talked particularly of his concern over ‘Los Desaparecidos’, people who had vanished off the face of Argentinian earth in their thousands. By the conclusion of the 15th minute audience the General began to wish that he had heeded the eleventh-hour attempts of Vatican officials to dissuade him coming to Rome,” noted David Yallop in his book ‘In God’s Name’.

One cleric, Father Busa, wrote of John Paul I: “His mind was as strong, as hard and as sharp as a diamond. That was where his real power was. He understood and had the ability to get to the centre of a problem. He could not be overwhelmed. When everyone was applauding the smiling Pope, I was waiting for him ‘tirare fuori le unghie’, to reveal his claws. He had tremendous power.”

But John Paul I never lived to exercise his “tremendous power.” He was found dead in his bed on the morning of September 28, 1978. The official story was that the ‘Smiling Pope’ had died from a heart attack. But it wasn’t long before questions were being asked. John Paul I was only 65 and had appeared to be in fine health. The fact that there was no post-mortem only added to the suspicions. “The public speculation that this death was not natural grew by the minute. Men and women were heard shouting at the inert form: Who has done this to you? Who has murdered you?” wrote David Yallop.

David Yallop revealed that on the day of his death, the Pope had discussed a reshuffle of Vatican staff with Secretary of State Cardinal Jean Villot, who was also to be replaced. Yallop claimed that the Pope had a list of a number of clerics who belonged to the Freemasons, membership of which was strictly prohibited by the Church. The most sinister of these Masonic lodges was the fiercely anti-communist Propaganda Due (P2), which held great influence in Italy at this time, being referred to as a “state within a state.” The murky world of P2, and its leaders’ links with organized crime, the Mafia and the CIA is discussed in ‘In God’s Name’.

Another writer, Lucien Gregoire, author of ‘Murder by the Grace of God’, points the finger of blame squarely at the CIA. He notes a seemingly strange coincidence, namely that on September 3, 1978, just 25 days before the Pope himself died, Metropolitan Nikodim, the visiting leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, who was later revealed to have been a KGB agent, fell dead at John Paul’s feet in the Vatican after sipping coffee. He was only 48. Gregoire says that the CIA dubbed John Paul I ‘the Bolshevik Pope’ and was keen to eliminate him before he presided over a conference the Puebla Conference in Mexico. “Had he lived another week, the United States would have been looking at a half a dozen mini-Cubas in its back yard,” he writes.

While there’s no shortage of suspects if you believe that John Paul I was murdered, it needs to be stressed that despite the contradictory statements made about the circumstances of his death, and the strange coincidences, no evidence has yet been produced to show that his death was not a natural one. What we can say though is that there will have been quite a few powerful and influential people in Italy and beyond who were relieved that the ‘Smiling Pope’ had such a short time in office.

His successor, the Polish Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, who took the name ‘John Paul II’ as a homage to his predecessor, made it clear that investigating the Vatican’s financial activities and uncovering Freemasons was not a priority. As a patriotic Pole, his appointment was manna from Heaven for anti-communist hawks in the US State Department. “The single fact of John Paul II’s election in 1978 changed everything. In Poland, everything began… Then the whole thing spread. He was in Chile and Pinochet was out. He was in Haiti and Duvalier was out. He was in the Philippines and Marcos was out,” said Joaquin Navarro-Valls, John Paul II’s press secretary.

The way that Pope John Paul II spoke out against what he regarded as communist repression, not only in his native Poland but across Eastern Europe and beyond, saw him being toasted by the neocon faction. It might not have been just words either, which helped undermine communist rule. There was a rumor that ‘God’s Banker’ Roberto Calvi, who in 1982 was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London, had sent $50mn to ‘Solidarity’ in Poland on behalf of the Pope.

In May 1981, John Paul II was shot and wounded by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca. Neocons in the US promoted the narrative that it was a communist plot (organized by Bulgaria), but Sofia denied involvement. In 1985, Agca’s confederate, Abdullah Catli, who was later killed in a car crash, testified that he had been approached by the West German BND spy organization, which promised him a large sum of money  “if he implicated the Bulgarian secret service and the KGB in the attempt on the Pope’s life.”

Martin Lee, writing in Consortium News, also notes that in 1990, “ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman disclosed that his colleagues, under pressure from CIA higher-ups, skewed their reports to try to lend credence to the contention that the Soviets were involved. ‘The CIA had no evidence linking the KGB to the plot,’ Goodman told the Senate Intelligence Committee.” 

In 2011, a new book entitled ‘To Kill the Pope, the Truth about the Assassination Attempt on John Paul II’, which was based on 20 years of research, concluded that the CIA had indeed tried to frame Bulgaria, in order to discredit communism.

The great irony of course is that after the Berlin Wall came down, Pope John Paul II became a strong critic of the inhumane ‘greed is good’ model of capitalism which had replaced communism. In Latvia, he said capitalism was responsible for “grave social injustices” and acknowledged that Marxism contained “a kernel of truth.” He said that “the ideology of the market” made solidarity between people “difficult at best.” In Czechoslovakia, he warned against replacing communism with materialism and consumerism.

Having enlisted the assistance of the Vatican in helping to bring down ‘The Reds’, the neo-liberals and neo-cons then turned on the Church. The Church survived communism, but it hasn’t fared too well under consumerism. The Vatican is nowhere near as influential as it was in 1978. The US, meanwhile, unconstrained by a geopolitical counter-weight, threw its weight around the world after 1989, illegally invading and attacking a series of sovereign states.

One can only wonder how different things might have been if the ‘Smiling Pope’ had lived.

By Neil Clark
Source

Pope Francis says ‘defenseless’ being killed in Holy Land after Gaza bloodshed #enoughisenough

Pope Francis says ‘defenseless’ being killed in Holy Land after Gaza bloodshed

emSource: Vatican Media/emSource: Vatican Media

Pope Francis, in his Easter address on Sunday, called for peace in the Holy Land two days after 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers on the Israeli-Gaza border, saying the conflict there “does not spare the defenseless”.

The pope made his appeal in his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to tens of thousands of people in the flower-bedecked square below where he earlier celebrated a Mass.

He also appealed for an end to the “carnage” in Syria, calling for humanitarian aid to be allowed to enter, and for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Francis appeared to refer directly to the Gaza violence last Friday, calling for “reconciliation for the Holy Land, also experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenseless.”

Israel’s defense minister has rejected calls for an inquiry into the killings by the military during a peaceful Palestinian demonstration.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, and other leaders have called for an independent investigation into the bloodshed.

The Pope also begged for peace for “the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war.”

“This Easter, may the light of the risen Christ illumine the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage in course … ” he said.

He spoke a day after the Assad regime command said it had regained most of the towns and villages in eastern Ghouta. Tens of thousands of people have now evacuated once-bustling towns in the suburbs east of the capital, which had nearly 2 million people before the start of the conflict and were major commercial and industrial hubs.

Francis called for international assistance for Venezuela, so that more people would not have to abandon their homeland because of the economic and political crisis.

He hoped the “fruits of dialogue” would advance peace and harmony on the Korean peninsula, where the two sides are set to hold their first summit in more than a decade on April 27, after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged his commitment to denuclearisation.

Francis, celebrating his sixth Easter as Roman Catholic leader since his election in 2013, urged his listeners to work for an end to the “so many acts of injustice” in the world.

He prayed the power of Jesus’ message “bears fruits of hope and dignity where there are deprivation and exclusion, hunger and unemployment, where there are migrants and refugees – so often rejected by today’s culture of waste – and victims of the drug trade, human trafficking and contemporary forms of slavery”.

The battle was neither in Riyadh nor in Jerusalem…. It was in Tehran and has ended المعركة لم تكن في الرياض ولا في القدس … لقد كانت في طهران وانتهت

The battle was neither in Riyadh nor in Jerusalem…. It was in Tehran and has ended

يونيو 4, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Apparently it seemed that there were two battles in the region, their hero is Donald Trump, one in Riyadh to convince the leaders of the Arab and the Islamic countries of a barter, its basis on reconciliation, cooperation, and normalization the relation with Israel in exchange of an international front led by Washington under the cover of the Islamic world which was held under the slogan of Saudi Arabia to isolate Iran and besieging it. The second battle seemed in Jerusalem led by Trump to convince the leaders of the occupation entity to wage different more serious settlement by facilitating the formation of a Palestinian state with some modifications which take into consideration the Israeli security and similar modifications on the files of Jerusalem and the refugees.

Practically Trump ended his tour in Gulf and its three summits; he got what he wanted in addition to a lot of money which he wanted to revive his stagnant economy, to fix his confused rule, and to apply his slogan; linking the relationship with Saudi Arabia as a milking cow with the quantity of milk it produces. Practically Trump went to Jerusalem but he did not achieve any of his promises, he shared with Netanyahu idle talk that just includes the reassurances to subdue the Gulf and its acceptance to join to the alliance with Israel against Iran. As he postponed transferring the US embassy to Jerusalem he postponed the negotiating tripartite summit which combines him with Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, so this affected Abbas after he paid a humiliated bill for Hamas Movement for its political document which accepts the promised settlement, by announcing that it is terrorism from Riyadh’s platform.

Trump’s tour which passed by Vatican towards the summit of seven which led by Washington and culminated with the meeting of NATO was planned to emerge from these platforms according to Trump’s promises to each the Saudi King and the Head of the occupation government as besieging and isolating Iran as well as agitating the situations against Hezbollah. What has happened is that the actual battle which was a condition for the continuation of Trump of his mission was going on in Tehran. Iran has not timed its elections on the date of Trump’s visit, but the opposite has happened. All of what has happened before the elections and the announcement of the summits of Riyadh, the mobilization against Iran, and the indication to cancel the understanding on the nuclear program as well as increasing the sanctions on it on the eve of the elections were to urge it to re-choose the option of severity which is considered by the Americans and their allies a condition for the success of the mobilization against Iran and a cause of the internal division on its options and constants, taking into consideration its moderate politicians and investing the economic pressure to destabilize it. It seemed that the game is going on according to what the Americans want, because in the electoral competition there was one a most strict symbols Al Sayyed Ebrahim Raisi who was supported, and for his favor all those who are severe withdrew, the western mass media were prepared to consider him as the coming President of Iran according to the equation of Raisi versus Trump.

The question in Tehran was, when the winning of Raisi is announced and when the Riyadh summits formulate their final statements what would be the expected path? the answer is having the plea to question the credibility of Tehran commitment to the nuclear understandings and having the justification to expand the campaign of the political, media, legal, and the diplomatic escalation against it, moreover to address the Iranian interior in way that beholds the words of constants the responsibility of blockade, sanctions, and the economic decline just for its issuance by strict spokesman, then to divide the Iranians between two disputing or possibly quarreling halves, and the possession of the West of ways to seduce the frustrated half due to the results and the doubtful of their credibility. The reverse question in Tehran was what about if the President Hassan Rouhani won by the speech of the same Iranian constants by defending the choice of resistance and Hezbollah and in characterizing the Americans as responsible for the terrorism, and beholding the Gulf countries the responsibility of sabotaging the stability in the region. The answer was Iran will unite behind him and the Russians and the Chinese will support Iran strongly, while the Europeans will get confused in meeting the US demands.

It is not important who asked and who answered in Tehran, as the importance of that the Iranian democratic game has expanded and then was the result. We have heard the President Rouhani in the speech of constants after his winning, and we have heard the European and the international positions asking him not to drive Iran to escalation which was started by the Riyadh’s summits against Iran. Before the end of Riyadh summits Trump discovered that the mission has ended and that the plan has failed, so he has to accelerate to reserve the funds promised by the Saudis, and that he has to go to Jerusalem and Bethlehem on a religious tourist and political visit to share the congratulations with Netanyahu to celebrate the financial and the political spoils. Therefore the battle is neither in Riyadh nor in Jerusalem it was in Tehran and has ended.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

المعركة لم تكن في الرياض ولا في القدس … لقد كانت في طهران وانتهت

ناصر قنديل

مايو 23, 2017

– ظاهرياً بدا أن هناك معركتين شهدتهما المنطقة، بطلهما دونالد ترامب، واحدة في الرياض لإقناع زعماء الدول العربية والإسلامية بمقايضة قوامها التصالح والتعاون والتطبيع مع «إسرائيل»، مقابل جبهة دولية تقودها واشنطن بغطاء العالم الإسلامي المنعقد تحت لواء السعودية لعزل إيران وحصارها، والمعركة الثانية بدت في القدس يخوضها ترامب لإقناع قادة كيان الاحتلال بخوض غمار تسوية مختلفة وأكثر جدية بتسهيل قيام دولة فلسطينية مع بعض التعديلات التي تراعي الأمن «الإسرائيلي» وتعديلات مشابهة تناسبها على ملفي القدس واللاجئين.

– عمليا أنهى ترامب جولته الخليجية وقممها الثلاث بالحصول على ما طلب من المجتمعين وفوقه حصل على مال كثير يريده لتنشيط اقتصاده الراكد وتثبيت حكمه المرتبك، وتطبيق شعاره بربط العلاقة مع السعودية كبقرة حلوب بكمية الحليب التي تدرّها عليه. وعملياً ذهب ترامب إلى القدس فلم يحقق شيئاً من وعوده، وتقاسم مع نتنياهو كلاماً فارغاً ليس فيه إلا التطمينات لخضوع الخليج وقبوله الانضمام لحلف مع «إسرائيل» بوجه إيران، وبمثل ما أجّل نقل سفارته إلى القدس أجّل القمة الثلاثية التفاوضية التي تجمعه مع بنيامين نتنياهو ومحمود عباس فأصاب عباس في المقتل، بعدما سدّد لحركة حماس فاتورة مذلّة وهواناً على وثيقتها السياسية التي ترتضي التسوية الموعودة، بإعلانه لها إرهاباً من منبر الرياض.

– جولة ترامب التي تعبر بالفاتيكان وصولاً لقمة السبعة الذين تتزعمهم واشنطن وتتويجاً باجتماع حلف الناتو، كان مقدراً لها أن تخرج من هذه المنابر بما وعد ترامب كلاً من الملك السعودي ورئيس حكومة الاحتلال، من فرض الحصار والعزلة على إيران، والذهاب بعيداً في تعبئة مناخات العداء لحزب الله، لكن الذي جرى أن المعركة الفعلية التي كانت شرطاً لمواصلة ترامب المهمة كانت تجري في طهران، حيث لم تكن إيران قد وقّتت انتخاباتها على موعد زيارة ترامب، بل العكس هو الذي حصل، وكان كل ما جرى قبل الانتخابات والإعلان عن القمم التي شهدتها الرياض، والتعبئة ضد إيران وشيطنتها، والتلويح بإلغاء التفاهم حول الملف النووي وزيادة العقوبات عليها عشية الانتخابات، لدفعها دفعاً نحو إعادة خيار التشدد الذي يعتبره الأميركيون وحلفاؤهم شرطاً لنجاح التعبئة ضد إيران وللتسبّب بالانقسام الداخلي فيها حول خياراتها وثوابتها، واستيعاب الجناح المعتدل من سياسييها واستثمار الضغط الاقتصادي لزعزعة الاستقرار فيها، وبدا أن اللعبة تسير وفقاً لما يريد الأميركيون، فقد ظهر إلى الساحة الانتخابية رمز من أقوى رموز المتشددين هو السيد إبراهيم رئيسي، واحتشد خلفه وانسحب لصالحه كل المنتمين لخط التشدّد، وتهيأت وسائل الإعلام الغربية لاعتباره رئيس إيران القادم، وفقاً لمعادلة رئيسي مقابل ترامب.

– كان السؤال في طهران هو، عندما يعلن فوز رئيسي وقمم الرياض تصيغ بيانها الختامي ماذا سيكون المسار المتوقع، والجواب هو، امتلاك ذريعة التشكيك بصدقية التزام طهران بالتفاهمات النووية، وامتلاك المبرر لتوسيع نطاق حملة التصعيد السياسي والإعلامي والقانوني والدبلوماسي ضدها، ومخاطبة الداخل الإيراني بلغة تحمًل خطاب الثوابت لمجرد صدوره بلسان متشدّد مسؤولية الحصار والعقوبات والتراجع الاقتصادي، وتالياً قسمة الإيرانيين نصفين متخاصمين وربما متحاربين، وامتلاك الغرب جسوراً تراهن على استمالة بعض النصف المحبط من النتائج والطاعن بصدقيتها، وكان السؤال المعاكس في طهران ماذا لو فاز الرئيس حسن روحاني بخطاب الثوابت الإيرانية نفسها، بالدفاع عن خيار المقاومة وحزب الله وتوصيف الأميركيين كمسؤولين عن الإرهاب، وتحميل دول الخليج مسؤولية تخريب الاستقرار في المنطقة؟ وكان الجواب، ستتوحّد إيران خلفه، وسيقف الروس والصينيون مع إيران بقوة، وسيرتبك الأوروبيون في تلبية الطلبات الأميركية.

– ليس مهماً مَن سأل ومَن أجاب في طهران، بقدر أهمية ان اللعبة الديمقراطية الإيرانية اتسعت لتظهير هذه النتيجة، وقد سمعنا الرئيس روحاني في خطاب الثوابت بعد فوزه، وسمعنا المواقف الأوروبية والدولية تتمنى عليه عدم الانجرار لحفلة التصعيد التي بدأتها ضد إيران قمم الرياض، واكتشف ترامب قبل انتهاء قمم الرياض أن المهمة قد انتهت وأن الخطة قد فشلت، وأن عليه المسارعة لحجز الأموال التي وعده السعوديون بها، وأن عليه الذهاب إلى القدس وبيت لحم في زيارة سياحية دينية وسياسية يتقاسم التهنئة مع نتنياهو بما حصدا من غنائم مالية وسياسية، فالمعركة ليست في الرياض ولا في القدس، فقد كانت في طهران وانتهت.

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Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis

Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC BY 2.0

After two days lecturing a collection of head-choppers, dictators, torturers and land thieves, Donald Trump at last met a good guy on Wednesday. Pope Francis didn’t ask for a $100bn (£77.2bn) arms deal for the Vatican. He wouldn’t go to war with Iran. He didn’t take the Sunni Muslim side against the Shia Muslim side in the next Middle East conflict. He didn’t talk about Palestinian “terror”. And he looked, most of the time, grim, unsmiling, even suspicious.

So he should have been. Trump’s broad, inane smile on confronting the Holy Father might have been more appropriate for the first of the Borgias, Alexander VI, whose 15th century womanising, corruption and enthusiasm for war would match Trump’s curriculum vitae rather well. But the poor man’s pope, who last year suggested that Trump wasn’t much of a Christian because he wanted to build walls, didn’t seem to be very happy to see the man who called him “disgraceful” for questioning his faith. “One offers peace through dialogue, the other security of arms,” one of Francis’ advisers said of the visit. Which pretty much sums it up.

It was indeed an odd sight to see the head of the Catholic church – whose anti-war, anti-corruption, anti-violence and pro-environment beliefs must surely now represent the secular world – greeting the present if very temporary leader of the secular world, whose policies are most surely not those of the Western people he would claim to represent. For more and more, the Good Old Pope is coming to represent what the Trumps and Mays will not say: that the West has a moral duty to end its wars in the Middle East, to stop selling weapons to the killers of the Middle East and to treat the people of the Middle East with justice and dignity.

No wonder the 29 minutes which the insane president and the sane pope spent together – Francis himself suggesting that they both keep away from the microphones – remain secret. Until, I suppose, Trump starts twittering again. They supposedly chatted about climate change, immigration, even arms sales. O fly upon the wall, speak up. And they talked, we are told, about “interreligious dialogue” and the need to protect Christians in the Middle East. They shared, we were finally informed, “a commitment to life, and freedom of speech and conscience” – which is more than most of Trump’s other hosts would have approved of these past two days.

Trump duly handed over a bunch of books by Martin Luther King which he hoped Pope Francis would enjoy – whether he had read them himself remains a mystery – and the Pope gave Trump some of his own writings on the environment. “Well, I’ll be reading them,” said the US President. A likely story.

When the Pope emerged from his private meeting with Trump, he was smiling in a relieved, almost charming way – like a man who had just left the dentist’s chair – and his joke with the veiled Melania about Croatian cookies, if not quite understood, showed that even a distressed pontiff can retain a sense of humor amid spiritual darkness. Trump thought it all “a great honor”. Not for the Pope, one imagines.

And there was the inevitable send-off from Trump, the kind he probably gave to all the greedy kings and criminals of the Middle East. “I won’t forget what you said,” he told Pope Francis as he left. O but he will, reader, he will.

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

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Trump Visits Bethlehem Bearing Gifts to Child Killers

Finian Cunningham

May 20, 2017

US President Donald Trump makes his first overseas visit this weekend, beginning in the Middle East and continuing to Europe. His tour to the “holy land” is being presented with feel-good, messianic spin.

Trump touches down first in Saudi Arabia, then will go Israel and from there make a pilgrimage to Bethlehem in the Palestinian territories. After his stop at the reputed birthplace of Jesus, the American president will then fly to the Vatican, where he will be greeted by Roman Catholic Pope Francis. He will later meet NATO military leaders in Brussels.

resenting the president’s Middle East itinerary like a momentous religious event, Trump’s senior national security adviser General HR McMaster said:

“This trip is truly historic. No president has ever visited the homelands and holy sites of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all on the same trip. And what President Trump is seeking is to unite peoples of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity.”

The White House, reported the Washington Post, described it as “an effort to unite three of the world’s leading religious faiths in the common cause of fighting terrorism, reining in Iran and unifying the world against intolerance.”

Hold it. Screech the brakes on this Hollywood-type script of Saint Donald saving the world. What utter claptrap.

The main purpose of his sojourn is to cut a record arms deal with Saudi Arabia and the other closely aligned Gulf Arab monarchies. While in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, addressing regional leaders about “world peace,” Trump is set to sign off weapons deals worth $350 billion. That’s more than double what his predecessor Barack Obama flogged to the Saudi rulers during his presidency.

According to Bloomberg, topping the list of US arms transfers are warships, helicopter gunships, anti-missile systems and tanks.

The THAAD anti-missile system, recently debuted in South Korea, is said to be among the inventory for the Saudis and other Gulf states to the tune of $10 billion. The crisis in Korea provides a convenient sales pitch to the Saudis. Maybe that’s partly why the Trump administration has dangerously provoked the tensions in Asia, precisely to push through their THAAD sales in the Middle East.

In addition to the weapons purchases, the Saudi rulers are also promising to invest $40 billion from their oil-rich sovereign wealth funds in American companies.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and personal adviser, has been instrumental in lining up the mega sales, in conjunction with the Saudi deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The 30-year-old son of King Salman, who is also the defense minister, has been courting the Trump presidency ever since the election last November.

The Saudi prince, known as MBS by the Trump inner circle, is the chief strategist behind the Saudi war on Yemen since March 2015. That war is a blatant aggression on Yemen carried out by Saudi forces supplied by the US and Britain. Thousands of children have been killed in Saudi air strikes, using internationally banned cluster bombs in indiscriminate attacks on civilian centers.

Just days before Trump’s departure to the Middle East, Saudi air strikes reportedly killed 23 civilians, including six children, near the southern Yemeni city of Taiz.

Millions of other Yemeni children are dying from starvation and preventable diseases like cholera because of a naval blockade imposed on the country by Saudi and American forces. No doubt the new warships that Trump is lining up for Saudi Arabia will add to the “efficacy” of the genocide that is underway in Yemen.

With staggering cynicism, the Trump administration is “justifying” this ramped-up military support for Saudi Arabia as an effort to “fight terrorism” and to “counter Iranian meddling” in the region.

It is alleged that Iran is sponsoring militia in Yemen, Syria and Iraq and this is posing a threat to regional stability. Such claims are an insult to common intelligence, when we know that it is the American CIA and their Saudi client regime who have bankrolled and directed terrorism across the entire Middle East over many years in order to serve hegemonic interests of regime change.

But what is disturbing is just how braindead the Trump administration is. Trump is recklessly promoting the ridiculous fantasy that Saudi Arabia and its despotic terror-sponsoring clients are somehow the custodians of law and order. He is also pumping up the surreal Saudi narrative that Iran is largely responsible for the Middle East’s conflicts.

When the American president addresses Saudi and other Muslim leaders in Riyadh this weekend supposedly on the challenges of finding regional peace, two nations are banned from the gathering – Iran and Syria.

Saudi rulers have recently threatened Iran with fomenting a Syria-style proxy war inside Iran. The record arsenal of weapons that Trump is bringing to Saudi Arabia will only embolden its House of Saud tinpot dictators to pursue even more confrontation with Iran. Much of the small-arms weaponry that the Americans supply to Saudi Arabia already ends up in the hands of terror groups like Jabhat al Nusra and Daesh (so-called Islamic State).

There are perplexing signs that the US under Trump is ratcheting up military aggression toward Iran and its ally Syria. This week, US warplanes reportedly attacked Syrian armed forces and Iranian allies Hezbollah in southern Syria. It was the second such direct assault on Syria after Trump ordered Tomahawk missile strikes on the Shayrat airbase in April.

Syrian sources claim that the latest US air strike was carried out to protect militants being trained by American special forces inside Syrian territory. Those militants, known as Maghaweer al Thawra, are part of the Al Qaeda terror network, according to independent journalist Vanessa Beeley in email correspondence with this author.

Seems more than coincidence that the latest US operation was timed with Trump’s departure for Saudi Arabia. This is the kind of military action that the Saudis were constantly pushing the Obama administration to carry out. The strike on Iranian interests too will no doubt endear the new US commander-in-chief even more to his Saudi clients.

Trump’s messianic zeal to visit the Middle East – his first foreign destination being the dubious human rights “haven” Saudi Arabia – is all about flogging ever more deadly weapons to the already explosively-charged region. So desperate is Trump to pimp billions of dollars that he is willing to fuel war with Iran and perhaps Syria’s other ally, Russia, in the pursuit of lucre.

And to add further insult to injury, the whole tour of the “holy land” is being sold by the American government and media as some kind of benevolent religious duty to mankind and world peace.

The only “gifts” that Trump is bringing to Bethlehem and the region are ever more monstrous ways to murder children.

If Pope Francis had any integrity, or even news savvy, he should cancel Trump’s call at the Vatican, and explain exactly that child-killing regimes are not welcome.

Source: Sputnik

Donald of Arabia: Trump in the Middle East

Not since Ibn Batuta, travelled the Middle East in the 14th century has anyone set out with higher ambitions that Donald Trump. Batuta, a Moroccan Muslim traveller and scholar, had a few things in common with Trump. He reached what is now Saudi Arabia. He went to Jerusalem. He even had a keen eye for nubile ladies – there were a few wives, not to mention a Greek slave girl to be groped. But there the parallels end. For Ibn Batuta was sane.

Yet now we know that Trump thinks he’s touching the three monotheistic religions because he’s going to Riyadh, Jerusalem and then the Vatican (not quite in the Middle East but what’s a hundred miles for a guy like Trump). A few problems, of course. He can’t go to Holy Mecca because Christians are banned and the old king of Saudi Arabia represents a head-chopping Wahabi autocracy some of whose citizens have paid for – and fought alongside – the dreaded Isis which Trump thinks he is fighting.

Then when he goes to Jerusalem, he will meet Benjamin Netanyahu who hardly represents world Jewry and plans to go on thieving Arab lands in the West Bank for Jews, and Jews only, whatever Trump thinks. Then he’ll turn up at the Vatican to confront a man who – great guy though he may be – only represents Roman Catholics and doesn’t much like Trump anyway. Ibn Batuta was away from home for around a quarter of a century. Thank heavens Trump’s cutting that back to three days.

Of course, he’s no more going to be talking to “Islam” in Saudi Arabia than he is “Judaism” in Jerusalem. The Sunni Saudis are going to talk about crushing the “snake” of Shia Iran – and we must remember that Trump is the crackpot who shed crocodile tears over the Sunni babies killed in Syria last month but none for the Shia babies killed in Syria a few days later – and hope they can re-establish real relations between their execution-happy kingdom with the execution-happy US. Trump might just try to read UN rapporteur Ben Emmerson’s latest report on the imprisonment of human rights defenders and the torture of “terror” suspects in Saudi Arabia. No. Forget it.

Anyway, the king is no imam. Any more than Netanyahu is a rabbi. But Jerusalem will be a great gig because Trump will be able to ask Netanyahu for help against Isis without – presumably – realising that Israel bombs only the Syrian army and the Shia Hezbollah in Syria but has never – ever – bombed Isis in Syria. In fact, the Israelis have given medical aid to fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra, which is part of al-Qaeda which (maybe Trump has heard of this) attacked the United States on 9/11. So maybe the Vatican will be a relief.

Of course, Trump might have dropped by Lebanon to meet Patriarch Beshara Rai, a Christian prelate who at least lives in the Middle East and who might have been able to tell Trump a few home truths about Syria. Or, since Trump would be “honoured” to meet the Great Leader of North Korea, he might even have shocked the world by dropping by for a couple of hours with Bashar al-Assad. At least Ibn Batuta got to Damascus.

But no, Trump is searching for “friends and partners” to fight “terrorism” – something which has never, of course, been inflicted on Yemen by Saudi Arabia or on Lebanon and the Palestinians by Israel. Nor will it be mentioned by the boys and girls of CNN, ABC and all the US media titans who will – in the interest of promoting their importance by pretending that their President is not mad – grovellingly follow their crackpot President around the region with all the usual nonsense about “policies” and “key players” and “moderates” (as in “moderate Saudi Arabia”) and all the other fantastical creatures which they inject into their reports.

Oh yes, and Trump also wants to bring “peace” to the Holy Land. And so he will move from the king of head choppers to the thief of Palestinian lands and end up with the poor old Holy Father who is wisely giving the President only a few early-morning minutes before his weekly general audience. Since the Pope described Trump’s views as “not Christian” – an unsaintly thing for Pope Francis to say of a mentally ill man – and Trump called the Pope’s words “disgraceful”, this is not going to be a barrel of laughs.

But then again, the Pope shook the hand of the Sultan of Egypt only a week ago, the equally saintly Field Marshal President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, whose coup overthrew an elected president and who now “disappears” his enemies. Trump should be a piece of cake after that. Ibn Batuta, by the way, got as far as Beijing in his travels but was never “honoured” to meet the “smart cookie” who was ruling in Korea (which did actually exist in the 14th century).

But being a verbose chap, Ibn Batuta did record his homecoming in these words: “I have indeed … attained my desire in this world, which was to travel through the Earth, and I have attained this honour, which no ordinary person has attained.” That’s a real “honour” by the way. But you couldn’t fit Ibn Batuta into a tweet.

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

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