Sitrep G7 (G20): Note from Maria Zakharova

July 08, 2022

💬 #Opinion by Maria Zakharova

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock:

“The fact that the Russian Foreign Minister spent most of his time during the talks not in the room, but outside it, highlights the fact that the Russian government is not a single millimetre closer to having talks.”

Can you even make any sense out of what she said? Outside what room? Utter nonsense.

The German public should be aware of the fact that their Foreign Minister Annalena is lying to them. Lavrov was among the audience the moment the G20 meeting started and about two hours later he began to hold bilateral talks with his colleagues who attended this forum in a room next door. This is what other ministers did as well, since in-person forums are held exactly for the purpose of holding meetings and having contacts. Otherwise, everyone would have gone online or sent out their speeches.

Or, maybe Baerbock thinks that the foreign ministers of Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil and other countries also were in the wrong room?

On the other hand, Germans are already beginning to realise who is in power in their country. More than half of the German citizens (58 percent) believe that German Foreign Minister Baerbock should have personally met and held talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the G20 ministerial which is taking place on the Indonesian island of Bali. On Friday, Der Spiegel published a survey by Civey pollster to that effect.

Now, the truth about Baerbock. She said this because the G7’s plan to boycott Russia at the G20 failed. Nobody supported the Western regimes. That is why they are fuming now.

Lavrov made his schedule in advance, including in it the G20 meeting and a dinner on behalf of the hosts, as well as numerous bilateral contacts and communication with international media. The materials, photos and videos are available on the Foreign Ministry’s website and on social media. And neither Annalena nor anyone else can change reality with their lies.

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BRICS is turning into a collective “Non-West”

June 30, 2022

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

MOSCOW, June 29, 2022, RUSSTRAT Institute.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRICS+: It’s Back with Scale and Ambition

June 28, 2022

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

By Jaroslav Lissovolik

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Valdai Discussion Club

Source: Valdai Discussion Club

St. Petersburg sets the stage for the War of Economic Corridors

In St. Petersburg, the world’s new powers gather to upend the US-concocted “rules-based order” and reconnect the globe their way

June 18 2022

The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

At St. Petersburg on Friday, backers of multipolarity pushed forward integration of their networksPhoto Credit: The Cradle

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum  has been configured for years now as absolutely essential to understand the evolving dynamics and the trials and tribulations of Eurasia integration.

St. Petersburg in 2022 is even more crucial as it directly connects to three simultaneous developments I had previously outlined, in no particular order:

First, the coming of the “new G8” – four BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China), plus Iran, Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico, whose GDP per purchasing parity power (PPP) already dwarfs the old, western-dominated G8.

Second, the Chinese “Three Rings” strategy of developing geoeconomic relations with its neighbors and partners.

Third, the development of BRICS+, or extended BRICS, including some members of the “new G8,” to be discussed at the upcoming summit in China.

There was hardly any doubt President Putin would be the star of St. Petersburg 2022, delivering a sharp, detailed speech to the plenary session.

Among the highlights, Putin smashed the illusions of the so-called ‘golden billion’ who live in the industrialized west (only 12 percent of the global population) and the “irresponsible macroeconomic policies of the G7 countries.”

The Russian president noted how “EU losses due to sanctions against Russia” could exceed $400 billion per year, and that Europe’s high energy prices – something that actually started “in the third quarter of last year” – are due to “blindly believing in renewable sources.”

He also duly dismissed the west’s ‘Putin price hike’ propaganda, saying the food and energy crisis is linked to misguided western economic policies, i.e., “Russian grain and fertilizers are being sanctioned” to the detriment of the west.

In a nutshell: the west misjudged Russia’s sovereignty when sanctioning it, and now is paying a very heavy price.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, addressing the forum by video, sent a message to the whole Global South. He evoked “true multilateralism,” insisting that emerging markets must have “a say in global economic management,” and called for “improved North-South and South-South dialogue.”

It was up to Kazakh President Tokayev, the ruler of a deeply strategic partner of both Russia and China, to deliver the punch line in person: Eurasia integration should progress hand in hand with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Here it is, full circle.

Building a long-term strategy “in weeks”

St. Petersburg offered several engrossing discussions on key themes and sub-themes of Eurasia integration, such as business within the scope of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO); aspects of the Russia-China strategic partnership; what’s ahead for the BRICS; and prospects for the Russian financial sector.

One of the most important discussions was focused on the increasing interaction between the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and ASEAN, a key example of what the Chinese would define as ‘South-South cooperation.’

And that connected to the still long and winding road leading to deeper integration of the EAEU itself.

This implies steps towards more self-sufficient economic development for members; establishing the priorities for import substitution; harnessing all the transport and logistical potential; developing trans-Eurasian corporations; and imprinting the EAEU ‘brand’ in a new system of global economic relations.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Overchuk was particularly sharp on the pressing matters at hand: implementing a full free trade customs and economic union – plus a unified payment system – with simplified direct settlements using the Mir payment card to reach new markets in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Persian Gulf.

In a new era defined by Russian business circles as “the game with no rules” – debunking the US-coined “rules-based international order” – another relevant discussion, featuring key Putin adviser Maxim Oreshkin, focused on what should be the priorities for big business and the financial sector in connection to the state’s economic and foreign policy.

The consensus is that the current ‘rules’ have been written by the west. Russia could only connect to existing mechanisms, underpinned by international law and institutions. But then the west tried to  “squeeze us out” and even “to cancel Russia.” So it’s time to “replace the no-rules rules.” That’s a key theme underlying the concept of ‘sovereignty’ developed by Putin in his plenary address.

In another important discussion chaired by the CEO of western-sanctioned Sberbank Herman Gref, there was much hand-wringing about the fact that the Russian “evolutionary leap forward towards 2030” should have happened sooner. Now a “long-term strategy has to be built in weeks,” with supply chains breaking down all across the spectrum.

A question was posed to the audience – the crème de la crème of Russia’s business community: what would you recommend, increased trade with the east, or redirecting the structure of the Russian economy? A whopping 72 percent voted for the latter.

So now we come to the crunch, as all these themes interact when we look at what happened only a few days before St. Petersburg.

The Russia-Iran-India corridor

A key node of the International North South Transportation Corridor (INTSC) is now in play, linking northwest Russia to the Persian Gulf via the Caspian Sea and Iran. The transportation time between St. Petersburg and Indian ports is 25 days.

This logistical corridor with multimodal transportation carries an enormous geopolitical significance for two BRICs members and a prospective member of the “new G8” because it opens a key alternative route to the usual cargo trail from Asia to Europe via the Suez canal.

The International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC)

The INSTC corridor is a classic South-South integration project: a 7,200-km-long multimodal network of ship, rail, and road routes interlinking India, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia all the way to Finland in the Baltic Sea.

Technically, picture a set of containers going overland from St. Petersburg to Astrakhan. Then the cargo sails via the Caspian to the Iranian port of Bandar Anzeli. Then it’s transported overland to the port of Bandar Abbas. And then overseas to Nava Sheva, the largest seaport in India. The key operator is Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (the IRISL group), which has branches in both Russia and India.

And that brings us to what wars from now will be fought about: transportation corridors – and not territorial conquest.

Beijing’s fast-paced BRI is seen as an existential threat to the ‘rules-based international order.’ It develops along six overland corridors across Eurasia, plus the Maritime Silk Road from the South China Sea, and the Indian Ocean, all the way to Europe.

One of the key targets of NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine is to interrupt BRI corridors across Russia. The Empire will go all out to interrupt not only BRI but also INSTC nodes. Afghanistan under US occupation was prevented from become a node for either BRI or INSTC.

With full access to the Sea of Azov – now a “Russian lake” – and arguably the whole Black Sea coastline further on down the road, Moscow will hugely increase its sea trading prospects (Putin: “The Black Sea was historically Russian territory”).

For the past two decades, energy corridors have been heavily politicized and are at the center of unforgiving global pipeline competitions – from BTC and South Stream to Nord Stream 1 and 2, and the never-ending soap operas, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipelines.

Then there’s the Northern Sea Route alongside the Russian coastline all the way to the Barents Sea. China and India are very much focused on the Northern Sea Route, not by accident also  discussed in detail in St. Petersburg.

The contrast between the St. Petersburg debates on a possible re-wiring of our world – and the Three Stooges Taking a Train to Nowhere to tell a mediocre Ukrainian comedian to calm down and negotiate his surrender (as confirmed by German intelligence) – could not be starker.

Almost imperceptibly – just as it re-incorporated Crimea and entered the Syrian theater – Russia as a military-energy superpower now shows it is potentially capable of driving a great deal of the industrialized west back into the Stone Age. The western elites are just helpless. If only they could ride a corridor on the Eurasian high-speed train, they might learn something.

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

The ‘New G8’ Meets China’s ‘Three Rings’

June 15, 2022

The coming of the new G8 points to the inevitable advent of BRICS +, one of the key themes to be discussed in the upcoming BRICS summit in China.

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

The speaker of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, may have created the defining acronym for the emerging multipolar world: “the new G8”.

As Volodin noted, “the United States has created conditions with its own hands so that countries wishing to build an equal dialogue and mutually beneficial relations will actually form a ‘new G8’ together with Russia.”

This non Russia-sanctioning G8, he added, is 24.4% ahead of the old one, which is in fact the G7, in terms of GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP), as G7 economies are on the verge of collapsing and the U.S. registers record inflation.

The power of the acronym was confirmed by one of the researchers on Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Sergei Fedorov: three BRICS members (Brazil, China and India) alongside Russia, plus Indonesia, Iran, Turkey and Mexico, all non adherents to the all-out Western economic war against Russia, will soon dominate global markets.

Fedorov stressed the power of the new G8 in population as well as economically: “If the West, which restricted all international organizations, follows its own policies, and pressures everyone, then why are these organizations necessary? Russia does not follow these rules.”

The new G8, instead, “does not impose anything on anyone, but tries to find common solutions.”

The coming of the new G8 points to the inevitable advent of BRICS +, one of the key themes to be discussed in the upcoming BRICS summit in China. Argentina is very much interested in becoming part of the extended BRICS and those (informal) members of the new G8 – Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, Mexico – are all likely candidates.

The intersection of the new G8 and BRICS + will lead Beijing to turbo-charge what has already been conceptualized as the Three Rings strategy by Cheng Yawen, from the Institute of International Relations and Public Affairs at the Shanghai International Studies University.

Cheng argues that since the beginning of the 2018 U.S.-China trade war the Empire of Lies and its vassals have aimed to “decouple”; thus the Middle Kingdom should strategically downgrade its relations with the West and promote a new international system based on South-South cooperation.

Looks like if it walks and talks like the new G8, that’s because it’s the real deal.

The revolution reaches the “global countryside”

Cheng stresses how “the center-periphery hierarchy of the West has been perpetuated as an implicit rule” in international relations; and how China and Russia, “because of their strict capital controls, are the last two obstacles to further U.S. control of the global periphery”.

So how would the Three Rings – in fact a new global system – be deployed?

The first ring “is China’s neighboring countries in East Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East; the second ring is the vast number of developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; and the third ring extends to the traditional industrialized countries, mainly Europe and the United States.”

The basis for building the Three Rings is deeper Global South integration. Cheng notes how “between 1980-2021, the economic volume of developing countries rose from 21 to 42.2 percent of the world’s total output.”

And yet “current trade flows and mutual investments of developing countries are still heavily dependent on the financial and monetary institutions/networks controlled by the West. In order to break their dependence on the West and further enhance economic and political autonomy, a broader financial and monetary cooperation, and new sets of instruments among developing countries should be constructed”.

This is a veiled reference to the current discussions inside the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), with Chinese participation, designing an alternative financial-monetary system not only for Eurasia but for the Global South – bypassing possible American attempts to enforce a sort of Bretton Woods 3.0.

Cheng uses a Maoist metaphor to illustrate his point – referring to ‘the revolutionary path of ‘encircling the cities from the countryside’”. What is needed now, he argues, is for China and the Global South to “overcome the West’s preventive measures and cooperate with the ‘global countryside’ – the peripheral countries – in the same way.”

So what seems to be in the horizon, as conceptualized by Chinese academia, is a “new G8/BRICS+” interaction as the revolutionary vanguard of the emerging multipolar world, designed to expand to the whole Global South.

That of course will mean a deepened internationalization of Chinese geopolitical and geoeconomic power, including its currency. Cheng qualifies the creation of a “three ring “ international system as essential to “break through the [American] siege”.

It’s more than evident that the Empire won’t take that lying down.

The siege will continue. Enter the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), spun as yet another proverbial “effort” to – what else – contain China, but this time all the way from Northeast Asia to Southeast Asia, with Oceania thrown in as a bonus.

The American spin on IPEF is heavy on “economic engagement”: fog of (hybrid) war disguising the real intent to divert as much trade as possible from China – which produces virtually everything – to the U.S. – which produces very little.

The Americans give away the game by heavily focusing their strategy on 7 of the 10 ASEAN nations – as part of yet another desperate dash to control the American-denominated “Indo-Pacific”. Their logic: ASEAN after all needs a “stable partner”; the American economy is “comparatively stable”; thus ASEAN must subject itself to American geopolitical aims.

IPEF, under the cover of trade and economics, plays the same old tune, with the U.S. going after China from three different angles.

– The South China Sea, instrumentalizing ASEAN.

– The Yellow and East China Seas, instrumentalizing Japan and South Korea to prevent direct Chinese access to the Pacific.

– The larger “Indo-Pacific” (that’s were India as a member of the Quad comes in).

It’s all labeled as a sweet apple pie of “stronger and more resilient Indo-Pacific with diversified trade.”

BRI corridors are back

Beijing is hardly losing any sleep thinking about IPEF: after all most of its multiple trade connections across ASEAN are rock solid. Taiwan though is a completely different story.

At the annual Shangri-La dialogue this past weekend in Singapore, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe went straight to the point, actually defining Beijing’s vision for an East Asia order (not “rules-based”, of course).

Taiwan independence is a “dead end”, said General Wei, as he asserted Beijing’s peaceful aims while vigorously slamming assorted U.S. “threats against China”. At any attempt at interference, “we will fight at all costs, and we will fight to the very end”. Wei also handily dismissed the U.S. drive to “hijack” Indo-Pacific nations, without even mentioning IPEF.

China at it stands is firmly concentrated on stabilizing its western borders – which will allow it to devote more time to the South China Sea and the “Indo-Pacific” further on down the road.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi went on a crucial trip to Kazakhstan – a full member of both BRI and the EAEU – where he met President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and all his counterparts from the Central Asian “stans” in a summit in Nur-Sultan. The group – billed as C+C5 – discussed everything from security, energy and transportation to Afghanistan and vaccines.

In sum, this was all about developing much-needed corridors of BRI/ New Silk Roads – in sharp contrast to the proverbial Western lamentations about BRI reaching a dead end.

Two BRI-to-the-bone projects will go on overdrive: the China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline Line D, and the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway. Both have been years in the making, but now have become absolutely essential, and will be the flagship BRI projects in the Central Asian corridor.

The China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline Line D will link Turkmenistan’s gas fields to Xinjiang via Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. That was the main theme of the discussions when Turkmen President Berdimuhamedow visited Beijing for the Winter Olympics.

The 523 km China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway for its part will crucially link the two Central Asian “stans” to the China-Europe freight rail network, via the existing rail networks in Turkmenistan.

Considering the current incandescent geopolitical scenario in Ukraine, this is a bombshell in itself, because it will enable freight from China to travel via Iran or via Caspian ports, bypassing sanctioned Russia. No hard feelings, in terms of the Russia-China strategic partnership: just business.

The Kyrgyz, predictably, were ecstatic. Construction begins next year. According to Kyrgyz President Zhaparov, “there will be jobs. Our economy will boom.”

Talk about China acting decisively in its “first ring”, in Central Asia. Don’t expect anything of such geoeconomic breadth and scope being “offered” by IPEF anywhere in ASEAN.

Asian Nations that said No to normalization

February 15, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Farah Hajj Hassan

The countries that stood their ground in the face of the Israeli occupation have created shockwaves of resistance and lessons in morality.

Mass demonstrations in Bahrain and Jordan, athletes refusing to play with Israeli players in sports games, and calls for boycotts for Dubai expo 2020. Now more than ever, the popular public outcry against “Israel” is not only limited to West Asia but is rapidly bleeding into Asian, Western, and African territories like a tsunami of electronic evidence submerging Israeli propaganda.

The question that must be asked is why then, have nations more than ever begun normalizing with the Israeli occupation.

In a time where social media and massive internet use highlight our reality, what possible defense could Arab and particularly Muslim countries have to stand on regarding their sudden change of attitude surrounding “Israel?”

The answer is, the change is not so sudden, but an elaborate and intricate plot of treason that has been boiling for years.

The main players in this betrayal are the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Although they did not lead the Arab world in normalizing ties with “Israel”, and follow Jordan and Egypt, they certainly are taking the lead in ignoring its crimes and promoting the apartheid state as a friendly neighbor. Just this week, Dubai TV’s hosting of chef Levi Duchman sparked reactions condemning an Arab channel for giving air time for those making allegations about the “history of Israeli and Palestinian cuisine.” 

The interview discussed the qualities of “Israeli cuisine“, showing renowned Palestinian and Arabic dishes.

Of the total 28 countries that do not recognize “Israel” to this day, Asian countries include Indonesia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Brunei, Malaysia, Maldives, and Pakistan.

It is worth noting that although some governments have normalized relations with “Israel” the population may be adamantly against it.

In Bahrain, there have been many protests decrying normalization and the population has been largely vocal about their rejection of the Israeli enemy. Yet the government has not ceased on its shameless welcoming of Israeli delegations on its soil.

Southeast Asia

It is no secret that in the eyes of “Israel” and the US, the more countries that legitimize “Israel”, the better. What better way to portray the axis of resistance as a hateful anti-Jewish movement than by plastering photos of “Israel” opening embassies in numerous Arab and Muslim states. In Southeast Asia, a massive campaign to encourage normalization has been underway.

According to a report by The Diplomat, “Israel” is seeking diplomatic recognition around the world, especially in West Asia and North Africa, as well as Southeast Asia, providing Israeli technical assistance to the armed forces in Burma.

In Indonesia, the traditional foreign policy on the occupation has long opposed normalization in fear over its ties with Arab countries, and normalization of relations would be strongly opposed by the public and unaccepted politically.

Rumors of possible normalization have surfaced recently and were shut down by several Indonesian politicians who have denied such claims, which indicates “Tel Aviv” and Jakarta are far from establishing any diplomatic ties.

The traditional Indonesian foreign policy on the occupation is unwavering in its support of Palestine. In 2018, Jakarta saw thousands of protesters over former US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the embassy from “Tel Aviv” to Al-Quds.

Indonesia would be required to abandon its long-standing policy position on Palestine, which Indonesia naturally opposes since the preamble to its constitution states that “independence is the right of all peoples.” The domestic sentiment is overwhelmingly supportive of Palestine, as 71 percent of Indonesians agreed that “Israel” was responsible for the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” a May 2021 survey found.

As evidence, when former US President Donald Trump took the decision of moving the capital of “Israel” from “Tel Aviv” to occupied Al-Quds, protests erupted in Indonesia, with many organizations declaring and reiterating their support of the Palestinian cause.

Activists protest during a pro-Palestinian rally in Jakarta in June 2010 (AP)

Joining Indonesia, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, and the Sultan of Brunei denounced the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in May 2021. They decried the occupation “inhumane, colonial, and apartheid” policy toward the Palestinian people. In a statement, the nations said

“We condemn in the strongest term the repeated blatant violations and aggressions, carried out by the Israelis, targeting civilians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, which has killed, injured, and caused suffering to many, including women and children.”

In Bangladesh, protests erupted during the May 2020 war on Gaza, decrying Israel’s offensive on the Palestinians. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged stronger global action to end the violence and sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The letter called the threatened eviction of the Palestinians living in Sheikh Jarrah a severe violation of human rights. The PM wrote that Bangladesh denounces “Israel’s” acts of terror and violence and urges the international community to “take sustainable measures to end such kinds of acts anywhere and everywhere in the world including Palestine.”

In May of last year, rumors of possible normalization surfaced after Bangladesh removed the “Israel clause” from the passport. Swiftly shutting down the rumors, the Information minister Hassan Mahmud told reporters that it was only changed to comply with international regulations and that there is nothing for “Israel to rejoice in.” Since its inception in 1971, Bangladesh has been pro-Palestinian and against “Israel.”

He assured that diplomatic relations with the occupation do not and will never exist. “’Israel’ will be banned or closed for Bangladeshi citizens and it will be the same for the people with Israeli passports for traveling to Bangladesh.” The Bangladeshi people held signs that read boycott terrorist “Israel” and chanted their discontent.

Pakistan follows suit and Imran Khan as well as Pakistan’s foreign office has declared that there was no question of recognizing “Israel” until it agreed to a two-state solution, restoration of the pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds becomes the capital of the Palestinian state.

After rumors that Pakistan’s Army didn’t share the anti-“Israel” view, the army clarified that it stands with the government in 2020. Additionally, an aide to the Pakistani prime minister said he recently met top officials in the military and found them firmly supportive of Palestine. One of the officials elaborated that even if Saudi Arabia recognizes “Israel”, Pakistan will not follow suit.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri released a statement in which he said “Pakistan steadfastly supports the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination.” In May of last year, hundreds protested in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad against the Israeli war on Gaza.

Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the protests are “an expression on behalf of the people of Pakistan and the government of Pakistan that we stand by the people of Palestine and … we strongly condemn Israeli aggression against innocent Palestinians and also the [raiding] of Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

West Asia

The war in Syria had the US and its allies hope that Syrian President Bashar al Assad would forfeit governance and with his removal would come to the installment of a regime much more lenient towards “Israel.”

Fortunately for Palestine, the Israelis and Americans failed in that endeavor, ISIS was defeated and the US occupation is heavily losing ground in Syria, which will inevitably end in its complete withdrawal, as it did in Afghanistan

In October, several Israeli media outlets said, “The idea of dismantling Syria is no longer realistic”, adding, “The long and stable rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which brought stability to Syria, is an ironclad fact.” The Israeli “Makor Rishon” website underlined, in an article, the Gulf Arab regimes’ current openness to Syria after acknowledging their failure to fray Syrian-Iranian ties.

The website highlighted the fact that Saudi Arabia is conducting a dialogue with Syria to normalize relations, while the Emiratis and Bahrainis are working with the Syrians for a variety of reasons, including a desire to “weaken Iranian power.”

Iraq

In Iraq, where the population suffered years of brutal war and occupation from US forces and interference, the Iraqi government remains steadfast in never acknowledging the occupation and decrying any attempts at normalizing with the enemy.

In September 2021 the Iraqi government expressed its firm rejection of the “illegal” meetings that were held by some tribal figures in the city of Erbil in the Kurdistan Region, which called for the normalization with “Israel,” that these meetings do not represent Iraqis, noting that they only represent themselves.

The statement stressed that proposing the concept of normalization is constitutionally, legally, and politically rejected in Iraq, as the government clearly expressed the country’s consistent historical position in supporting the Palestinian cause.

In the same context, several Iraqi political parties and figures denounced the meetings held and affirmed their support for the Palestinian cause, while calling on the Iraqi government to take the necessary measures. 

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Ahmed al-Sahhaf, reiterated Iraq’s firm support for the Palestinian cause and affirmed the necessity of the full implementation of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights.

In an interview for Al Mayadeen, al-Sahhaf said that Iraq definitely rejects any form of normalization with “Israel”, explaining that “the Iraqi government handles this as a priority.” 

The axis of resistance supported by Iran is namely Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, wherein is the stronghold where armed resistance against “Israel” and its project thrives. “Israel” knows that the only way to dismantle this axis is with infiltration within its societies to accept “Israel.” If “Israel” becomes a friend, no foe exists any longer, and therefore the axis of resistance is defeated.

Conclusion:

A simple assessment of the ongoing crimes of “Israel” against the Palestinian people and the continued campaign of demolition of their homes and properties suggests that while some states are citing open dialogue with the occupation, the very act of normalization is a tool that “Israel” uses to embolden its crimes against the Palestinians. The more neighboring countries accept “Israeli sovereignty”, the more the Palestinian narrative and struggle are delegitimized.

However, the normalization of neighboring nations is a double-edged sword for “Israel.”

For years, it claimed that it was surrounded by “hostile” neighbors while it “defended itself”. Meanwhile, it committed transgressions on neighboring soil like the war of 2006 in Lebanon. “Israel’s” most common chant in our current era, and possibly always has been anti-Semitism

How will “Israel” maintain the defense of its brutal regime of apartheid in the future, when it is no longer the victim country surrounded by enemies.

In Abu Dhabi, the call for normalization was masked under the umbrella of progressiveness and “badly needed realism”   according to the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs.

On CNN, the UAE’s minister of state for internal cooperation said the UAE believes in “open conversation and ties,” citing the importance of “tolerance,” so religion is not used as an excuse. Ironically so, “Israel” is the only country in West Asia that hides behind its religious doctrine of Zionism to claim the authority to the Palestinian land and oppress its people.

“Israel” has continued to maintain its ridiculous notion that neighboring countries that have for years refused to acknowledge its existence or legitimacy were doing so out of anti-Semitism and innate hatred of its “Jewish roots.”

Let’s compare “Israel” to Ukraine for a moment. What similarities can we draw between the frenzy around Ukraine and the West’s calls for war and the same frenzied campaign that Benjamin Netanyahu led when he was PM of “Israel.” Just like Russia repeatedly denied Western allegations of an invasion in Ukraine, Iran has repeatedly denied nuclear weapon allegations. Netanyahu dominated the media during his time for warning the world that Iran was closer than ever at developing a nuclear weapon and that it must be stopped.  

Nonetheless, the stance of any nation to boycott “Israel”, regardless of neighboring Palestine or sharing a religion or culture, is not a religious or political stance. It is simply a humanitarian stance. The recognition that a nation and native people are being deprived of their human rights on the basis of another identity’s supposed to fear for survival.

Because on the humanitarian level, normalizing ties with a brutal aggressor and welcoming them with open arms, makes you a traitor to your neighbor, to your people, and your own morality.

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