The Middle East Agenda: Oil, Dollar Hegemony & Islam in Imperialism

By Professor Francis A Boyle

May 11, 2019 “Information Clearing House” –  Assalamu’alaikum. Dr. Mahathir, Mrs. Mahathir, distinguished Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. Little has changed in the imperialist tendencies of American foreign policy since the founding of the United States of America in seventeen eighty-nine. The fledgling United States opened the nineteenth century by stealing the continent of North America from the Indians, while in the process ethnically cleansing them and then finally deporting the pitiful few survivors by means of death marches (à la Bataan) to Bantustans, which in America we call reservations, as in instance of America’s “Manifest Destiny” to rule the world.

Then, the imperial government of the United States opened the twentieth century by stealing a colonial empire from Spain — in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, then inflicting a near-genocidal war against the Filipino people. While at the same time, purporting to annex, the kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the native Hawaiian people to near-genocidal conditions from which they still suffer today. All in the name of securing America’s so-called place in the sun.

And today at the dawn of the twenty first century, the world witnesses the effort by the imperial government of the United States of America to steal a hydrocarbon empire from the Moslem states and peoples, surrounding central Asia and the Persian Gulf under the pretext of fighting a war against international terrorism or eliminating weapons of mass destruction or promoting democracy, which is total nonsense.

For the past two hundred and sixteen years, the imperialist foreign policy of the United States of America since its foundation, has been predicated upon racism, aggression, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, war crimes and outright genocide. At the dawn of the third millennium of humankind’s parlous existence, nothing has changed about the operational dynamics of American imperial policy. And we see this today in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and what appears to be an illegal attack upon Iran.

Now the assigned topic today is The Middle East Agenda : Oil, Dollar Hegemony and Islam. So, I’m only going to limit my comments to that subject. We have to begin the story with the Arab oil embargo in 1973. As you know in 1967, Israel launched an illegal war of aggression against the surrounding Arab states, stole their land and ethnically cleansed their people. But eventually Egypt offered a Peace Treaty to Israel, which Israel rejected and the Egyptians and the Arab states decided then to use force to recover their lands.

Israel almost collapsed, the United States and Europe came to their support by providing weapons and in reaction the Arab states imposed an oil embargo on the United States and Europe, and brought their economies to their knees. Whereupon, the then U.S Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger threatened them and said: This will never happen again, and if you do, we will prevent it. And it was not just a threat. The United States government then at that time, planned, prepared and conspired, to steal the oil of the Persian Gulf. They did not have the military capability to do this at that time, to carry out the Kissinger threat, which was also then repeated by the Ford administration, and the Carter administration under Harold Brown and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

So they put into planning an interventionary force, designed expressly for the purpose of stealing Arab oil fields, and that was called the Rapid Deployment Force. And it took ten years of training, planning, positioning, and supply to build that interventionary force of that capability and eventually it was called the U.S. Central Command. The purpose of the U.S. Central Command is to steal and control and dominate the oil and gas resources of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. And that’s exactly what the U.S. Central Command proceeded to do in the Bush Sr. war against Iraq, their first military expedition.

And as we know, that war exterminated probably two hundred thousand Iraqis. Half of them innocent civilians. Simply wiped out in a bombing campaign and a military expedition of unprecedented dimensions. But remember, it took fifteen years for the Pentagon and three different administrations both Republicans and Democrats to get the capability to do this. And then, when that genocide or conflict was over, what happened? The United States carved Iraq up into three pieces with their air force, the so-called no-fly zones, a zone for the Kurds in the North, a zone for the Shi’ah in the South, and the Sunni in the middle. Why? To destroy Iraq as an effectively viable state.

In his book, Clash of Civilizations, Huntington from Harvard who advised the Pentagon and advised the State Department pointed out that the only Arab state with the capability to lead the Arab world and challenge the United States and Israel was Iraq. And so Iraq had to be destroyed, to maintain the domination of the United States and its proxy, Israel. And remember after 1973, whatever it was before then, Israel is nothing more than a catspaw of the United States. They do what America tells them to do! Otherwise Israel is nothing more than a failed state.

In addition then, to destroying Iraq as a state, carving it up into three pieces, was the decision to debilitate and destroy the Iraqi people. And so they continued the genocidal economic sanctions on the people of Iraq, that my colleagues, Denis Halliday, Hans Von Sponeck, so courageously resisted and finally resigned from the United Nations as a matter of principle, calling them by what they really were: genocide. The United States and Britain maliciously and criminally imposed genocidal sanctions on the people of Iraq, that killed approximately 1.5 million Iraqis, all of whom were innocent civilians.

And when U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and later Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked about the five hundred thousand dead children, she said that she thought the price was worth it. Now, I could have taken that statement to the International Court of Justice, and filed it against the United States as evidence of genocidal intent against the people of Iraq in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention. And indeed I offered to do so to the then President of Iraq, but for whatever reasons he decided not to take these claims to the International Court of Justice.

And now, as you see, he is on trial in a total kangaroo court proceeding in Baghdad that is completely controlled and dominated by the United States government. So, 1.5 million Iraqis died as the result of these genocidal sanctions. And then came September 11. And we know for a fact that the Bush Jr. administration knew that a major terrorist attack was going to be launched on the United States. And they let it happen anyway deliberately and on purpose. Why? They wanted a pretext for war. And not just one war but for a long war which they are talking about today.

Indeed, from my research the war plans drawn up by the Pentagon for the war against Afghanistan were formulated as early as 1997.Enormous military forces fielded by that same U.S. Central Command, were already in and around and surrounding the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean before September 11. This war had been long-planned against Afghanistan. And armed, equipped, supplied, trained and war-gamed and ready to go. They just needed the pretext and that was September 11. Why? The United States wanted access to the oil and natural gas of Central Asia.

That had been a Pentagon objective since at least before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. And the 9/11 attack gave them the pretext to make this major grab for the oil and gas of Central Asia. And they are there today with their bases, with their troops, in the surrounding countries in Central Asia. And of course in the process, obliterated, we don’t even have an estimate of the Muslims in Afghanistan who were killed in the air bombardment, twenty, twenty five thousand, maybe more, and tens of thousands of others starved to death and still suffering today.

But that, as we know from all the records was only the first step in the process. They wanted to finish the job in Iraq. And so immediately after September 11, Bush ordered Rumsfeld to update and operationalize the plans for attacking and invading Iraq. It had nothing at all to do with weapons of mass destruction. We in the peace movement in America had been saying that all along. The United Nations had determined there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. These were lies designed to scaremonger the American people and Congress into supporting an illegal war of aggression, a Nuremberg crime against peace, against Iraq. And they told whatever lies and broke what international laws they had to break in order to attack Iraq.

And today the estimate, again we don’t know. Perhaps two hundred thousand people in Iraq had been killed outright by the United States, Britain, their allies, in Iraq. And again, most of them civilians. Clearly if you add up what United States government has done to Iraq from August of 1990, when it imposed the genocidal economic embargo until today. The United States and Britain have inflicted outright genocide on the Muslim and Christian people of Iraq and they are predominately Muslim as we know.

Now comes the third step in the Pentagon’s pre-existing plan, to control and dominate the oil and gas resources of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. It sounds a bit like the plan that Hitler and the Nazis had in the 1930s. Does it not? First go into Austria, then go into Czechoslovakia, then go into Poland. So first Afghanistan, then Iraq, and now Iran. Iran is going to be the next victim of these outright criminals unless you and I can stop them.

Right now there are three aircraft carrier task forces in the Persian Gulf. And whenever they had put three aircraft carrier task forces over there, it’s always to prepare for an attack. And according to Seymour Hersch, the award winning journalist, it will probably be an aerial bombardment, along the lines of what they did to Yugoslavia in 1999. As you remember there, seventy eight days of aerial bombardment by the United States and NATO with no authorization from the Security Council. Clearly illegal. Killing again, we don’t know the exact number outright, four to five thousand innocent civilians. And targeting civilian infrastructure, all up and down, from which the people still suffer today. The use of depleted uranium ammunitions, with consequent outbreaks of cancer are documented today.

So this is what, is being planned right now as we speak; an attack upon Iran. Using jet fighter aircraft, fighter bombers, on these three aircraft carrier task forces, using cruise missiles on submarines. Of course Israel will be involved and have a role to play, doing exactly what the Americans tell them to do. In addition, it appears that if they attack Iran, they will also attack Syria. Yesterday, if you heard President Bush’s press conference in Vienna, he threatened Syria, right? There’s no other word for it. He threatened Syria.

These Neo-Conservatives want to take out Syria as a favour to Israel. Remember, many of these Neo-Conservatives are affiliated personally and professionally with the Likhud Party in Israel and Ariel Sharon, the Butcher of Beirut, the man who exterminated twenty thousand Arabs in Lebanon, most of them, not all of them were Muslims. And in addition, slaughtered two thousand completely innocent Palestinian women, children and old men at Sabra and Shatila. Ariel Sharon, the man who went to Haram Al-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam, where Muhammad, (Peace Be Upon Him) ascended into heaven, and desecrated the Haram on September 28th, 2000, and deliberately provoked the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada and has inflicted death and destruction on the Palestinian people since then. Close to thirty seven hundred Palestinians since then alone have been killed….most of them shot down like dogs in the street, and what has the Muslim world done about this?

My Palestinian friends tell me that they are worried that the government of Malaysia might recognize Israel and establish diplomatic relations with Israel. I certainly hope this is not true. We must treat the criminal apartheid regime in Israel, the same way the world treated the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa.

If the United States attacks Iran, they will probably attack Syria with the Israeli air force and they will attack Lebanon to take out the Islamic resistance movement in southern Lebanon – Hezbollah that defended the legitimate rights of Lebanon and the Lebanese people and expelled the invading longstanding occupying Israeli army that had the full support of the United States government for over twenty years.

So they could attack Iran, Syria, Southern Lebanon and inflict yet another round of ethnic cleansing on the suffering Palestinian people. Remember Sharon and Likhud believe that Jordan is Palestine. And they want to drive as many Palestinians as possible out of their homes and into Jordan.

So if the United States as reported by Hersh and other reliable sources, goes ahead and attacks Iran, we could see warfare erupt all the way from Egypt to the border with India. This whole area convulsed in warfare. And who will be the primary victims of this war? Muslims. The United States could not care less about Muslim life. Look at the demonisation and victimisation of Muslims that we have seen inflicted by the United States and its surrogate, Israel. Look at Guantanamo, where six hundred Muslim men have been treated like dogs in a kennel. Pretty much the way the Nazis treated the Jews. Look at Abu Ghraib and the sadism and sexual exploitation and perversion of Muslims by their American captors. And the same thing has been done in Baghram in Afghanistan. And when Professor Sharif Bassiouni, the U.N. special rapporteur filed the Report with the Security Council against U.S. practices in Afghanistan, the Americans had Kofi Annan fire him. Just as they had Kofi Annan fire Mary Robinson, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, when she protested what was going on down in Guantanamo.

The United States could not care less about Muslim life. And the same is true for the genocidal apartheid regime in Israel. They would be happy to use nuclear weapons against Iran. They would be happy to break the taboo of Hiroshima and Nagasaki against Muslims in Iran. It would create no problem at all for them. Indeed, I went to school with these Neo-Conservatives at the University of Chicago. Wolfowitz was there, ChalabiKhalilzadShulsky, all the rest of them. I went through the exact same programme. Their mentor, Professor Leo Strauss. And who was his teacher in Germany and his sponsor? Professor Carl Schmitt who went on to become the most notorious Nazi law Professor of his day, justifying every atrocity that the Nazis inflicted on everyone. We must understand that these Neo-Conservatives are in fact Neo-Nazis. They have espoused the Nazi doctrine of Schmitt and Strauss and Machiavelli and Nietzsche, the “superman.” They are the supermen, and the Muslims are the scum of the earth.

Now, I do not believe the United States will initially start bombing Iran with nuclear weapons. But if things get out of control they are fully prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons. And here in our materials, you have the Pentagon’s Joint Publication 3-12, which you can get on the internet…. just do a Google search and read it. And you will see there dated March 15, 2005; nuclear, tactical nuclear weapons have been fully integrated into United States conventional forces.

So if Iran were to defend itself, human wave attacks, whatever, they will be happy to use nuclear weapons, tactical nuclear weapons against Iran. Remember, these Neo-Nazis, Neo-Cons want to break the taboo of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They want to use tactical nuclear weapons, to be able to say to the rest of the world, you do what we tell you to do or else look what we did to the Iranians!

It’s a very serious situation. And this could even get further out of control. Remember that before Bush invaded Iraq, President Putin of Russia said that if he invades Iraq he could set off World War Three. Well, I interpreted that as an implicit threat. Even the famous American news broadcaster Walter Cronkite said that if Bush invaded Iraq he could set off World War Three. Two weeks ago we had the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; China, Russia and Iran. So again, if Bush were to attack Iran, he very well could set off a Third World War, a nuclear war. And that is where you come in:

“This is what I can do. These are my talents. These are my professional qualifications. These are my skills. This is my cheque book. Let me help. Let me prevent, let me help prevent a nuclear war, a possible final, cataclysmic Third World War.”

Thank you, shukran.

ARAB STRATEGY FORUM: Political Systems in the Arab World in 2020:

Moving Towards Reform and Development

 

by Professor Francis A. Boyle

IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE COMPASSIONATE, THE MERCIFUL

Your Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The demand by the Bush Jr. administration and its Zionist neo-conservative operatives for democratization in the Arab world is a joke and a fraud that is designed to pressure, undermine, and destabilize Arab governments and states at the behest of the genocidal Israeli apartheid regime, and to pursue America’s continuing campaign for outright military control and domination of the Gulf oil and gas resources that the United States government launched in direct reaction to the Arab oil embargo of the West in 1973. For over the past three decades American foreign policy toward the entire Middle East has been determined by oil and Israel, in that order.

The United States government will seek direct military control and domination of the hydrocarbon resources of the Arab and Muslim world until there is no oil and gas left for them to steal, using Israel as its regional “policeman” towards that end. Oil and Israel were behind both the Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. wars against Iraq. And now Bush Jr. is threatening to attack Syria, Lebanon, and Iran in conjunction with the genocidal apartheid regime in Israel. As the oil and gas in the Arab and Muslim world proceed to run out, the United States and Israel will become even more predatory, aggressive, destructive, and genocidal toward Arab and Muslim states and peoples.

The Bush Jr. administration and its Zionist neo-conservative operatives could not care less about democracy in the Arab world. In fact, Bush Jr. and his Neo-Cons are all trying very hard to build a Police State in the United States of America that we lawyers are vigorously opposing. What the Bush Jr. administration and its Zionist neo-conservative operatives really want in the Arab world are quisling dictators who will do their dirty work for them and the genocidal Israeli apartheid regime against the wishes and prayers of the Arab people for democracy, human rights, the rule of law, constitutionalism, as well as for the liberation of Palestine and Al Quds.

Those will be the predominant facts and trends that the Arab world will have to confront between now and 2020. It was not my assignment here today to advise Arab states and the Arab people how to counteract this anti-Arab and anti-Muslim agenda by the United States and Israel. But certainly the sacred Koran and the divinely inspired teachings of the Prophet Mohammed – May Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him! – shall guide you and protect you during this most difficult period in the history of the Arab Nation, the Arab People, Arab States, and Islam.

Shukhran.

Professor Francis A. Boyle is an international law expert and served as Legal Advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization and Yasser Arafat on the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence, as well as to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations from 1991 to 1993, where he drafted the Palestinian counter-offer to the now defunct Oslo Agreement. His books include “ Palestine, Palestinians and International Law” (2003), and “ The Palestinian Right of Return under International Law” (2010).

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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إيران: الدفاع الذاتي في القانون الدولي

إيران: الدفاع الذاتي في القانون الدولي

مايو 9, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– بفارق سبع سنوات حمل كل من محمد جواد ظريف وغونداليسا رايس شهادة الدكتوراه في العلاقات الدولية من جامعة واحدة في أميركا هي جامعة دنفر، التي نالت رايس الدكتوراه فيها عام 1981 ونالها ظريف في عام 1988. والسنوات السبع هي فارق العمر تقريباً بينهما، وبتسلسل مشابه صعد كل منهما في سلم السياسة الدولية لدولتين، تتوزّعان طرفي التصادم على مساحة المنطقة الأهم في العالم، منذ سقوط جدار برلين وانهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي على الأقل. وهو الحدث الذي رفع مقام رايس من العلم إلى السياسة، حيث تركزت عليه كنموذج أطروحة الدكتوراه التي جعلتها مستشارة في البيت الأبيض لشؤون الاتحاد السوفياتي عام 1989، في عهد الرئيس جورج بوش الأب، لتصل إلى منصب مستشارة الأمن القومي ولاحقاً وزيرة الخارجية في عهد رئاسة إبنه جورج بوش وتخرج معه مهزومة بنظرياتها التي شكلت أساس السياسات الأميركية الفاشلة في المنطقة الأشدّ خطورة وحساسية في العالم، قبل أن تعود سياسات رايس للظهور على يدي من خلفوها في عهدي الرئيسين باراك اوباما ودونالد ترامب، بسبب الفراغ الفكري والأيديولوجي وفقدان وجود مفكر جديد مبهر يوازيها في صناعة النظريات القابلة للتحول إلى سياسات من موقع مصالح الدولة ونخبها الحاكمة.

– بدأ ظريف صعوده في الدبلوماسية الإيرانية معاوناً في سفارة بلاده في واشنطن، ليصير السفير لاحقاً ويتقدم وصولاً لتبوء منصب وزير الخارجية، ويثبت فيه، مقدماً مثالاً للسياسات المستوحاة من أطروحته التي نال عليها الدكتوراه، حتى يمكن القول إن الصراع الأميركي الإيراني هو بطريقة ما امتداد للصراع العلمي بين النظريتين اللتين تختصران أطروحتي الدكتوراه لكل من رايس وظريف، بعدما كانت مرحلة مادلين أولبرايت في عهد بيل كلينتون مرحلة كمون لنظريات رايس واختبار لنظريات أولبرايت، التي تنتمي لجيل المفكرين الاستراتيجيين النادر في حال السياسة الأميركية اليوم مع صعود رجال الأعمال المفتقرين للثقافة في عهد الرئيس ترامب، وأولبرايت هي إبنة جورج كوريل الذي كان عراب رايس العلمي ومرشدها، وقد حملت جامعة دنفر للعلاقات الدولية التي تخرجت منها رايس وتخرج منها ظريف مؤخراً اسم جورج كوريل تيمناً بدوره الكبير في الصعود العلمي للجامعة.

– تمحورت نظريات أولبرايت على الاحتواء الإيجابي في السياسة الدولية، فهي صاحبة نظرية احتواء طالبان في أفغانستان، ونظرية احتواء سورية في مفاوضات الشرق الأوسط لتحقيق السلام، وصاحبة نظريات تشكل منها عملياً ما عُرف باسم تقرير بايكر هاملتون الذي وثق فشل حربي العراق وأفغانستان، ودعا إلى الواقعية في فهم التوازنات الجديدة في السياسات الدولية ناصحاً بالتخلي عن الدعم المطلق لـ»إسرائيل» والانفتاح على صعود روسيا وإيران، وهي التي حذرت عام 2010 في تقريرها لحلف الأطلسي من نظريات التلاعب بالنسيج الاجتماعي لدول الشرق الأوسط التي تبناها المفكر برنارد لويس الذي كان شريكاً في لجنة الحكماء التي ترأستها أولبرايت بقرار من مؤتمر قمة حلف الأطلسي لرسم السياسة. ونظرية برنارد لويس المؤسسة على فهمه للتاريخ القائم برأيه على الديمغرافيا السكانية وهجراتها وليس على الجغرافيا، وهذا منطلق تبريره التاريخي لقيام كيان استيطاني على حساب السكان الأصليين وتصويره عملاً تاريخياً في كل من أميركا وفلسطين، ونظريات برنارد لويس تتلاقي في عمقها مع نظريات رايس التي توجتها بنظرية الفوضى الخلاقة.

– قامت نظرية رايس الدراسية في أطروحة الدكتوراه على بناء العلاقات الدولية وفقاً لمعادلتي التصادم القيمي، وميزان القوى المالي، وراهنت على تفكيك الاتحاد السوفياتي بقوة الثبات على التسابق على الإنفاق العسكري، والإخلاص بالتبشير بنظام ديمقراطي يحترم الحريات والحقوق الأساسية للتعبير، والانتصار المبهر الذي رفعها إلى مراتب عليا في السياسة، قابلته هزيمة مدوية عندما جرى اختباره في المنطقة الأخطر في العالم بوجه إيران، وكانت حرب العراق وبعدها حرب تموز 2006 على لبنان، ومحاولة إخضاع سورية فيهما، عنوان خطة رايس كمستشارة للأمن القومي ووزيرة للخارجية بعدها، ويُعتبر فوز حركة حماس بالانتخابات الفلسطينية في كانون الثاني 2006 الذي لم تستطع رايس تحمّل تبعاته وتقبل التعامل معه وفقاً لنظريتها، الفشل الأكبر قيمياً لما بشرت به من إخلاص لقيمتي الحرية والديمقراطية، بينما تعتبر العقوبات على إيران وفشلها في وقف تقدم البرنامج النووي الإيراني التعبير عن الفشل الآخر للجناح الموازي لنظريتها القائمة على القوة المالية الأميركية، خصوصاً عامي 2007 و2008 رغم بلوغ إيران أدنى مراتب إنتاجها من النفط الذي وصل إلى 700 ألف برميل يومياً بدلاً من مليونين ونصف مليون برميل.

– ما تفعله إدارة ترامب اليوم ليس إلا اجترار هزلي لنظريات رايس التي تعامل معها ظريف من قبل، وقد كان يشغل منصب سفير بلاده في الأمم المتحدة، حتى عام 2007، وشغل منصب مستشار في مجموعة التفاوض على الملف النووي التي كانت برئاسة رئيس مجلس الأمن القومي آنذاك، الرئيس حسن روحاني بين عامي 2003 و2007، قبل أن يعود وزيراً للخارجية عام 2013. وأطروحة ظريف التي نال الدكتوراة على أساسها وتشكل مصدر أفكاره وإدارته للدبلوماسية الإيرانية، تقوم على إمكانية إنتاج سياسة دولية لقوة ثورية من ضمن القانون الدولي، وفي ظل موازين القوى الطاغية لصالح مشروع الهيمنة الذي تمثله السياسات الأميركية.

– يعرف المتابعون للسياسات الإيرانية أن نظرية الدفاع الذاتي في القانون الدولي والسياسة، التي تمثل عنوان مشروع ظريف، تتسع للفصل بين الموقف العقائدي للدولة وبين سياساتها الخارجية، فلا مانع من الانفتاح على ترك واشنطن تغزو أفغانستان والعراق، رغم عدم الموافقة على هذا الغزو، لأن الدفاع الذاتي للدولة يجب أن يشتغل بطريقتين مختلفتين، عندما تصبح مصالحها العليا في دائرة الخطر، وعندما يتم التعارض مع مبادئها، رغم أنه في الحالتين يمكن للدفاع الذاتي أن لا يبدو خيار مواجهة في الظاهر، عندما يكون الاستدراج إلى ملعب مناسب للمواجهة، أو لتعظيم المخاطر، أو للاحتواء، وهذا ما حصل في حربي العراق وأفغانستان، لكنه ما يحصل مع الاتفاق النووي الذي ظن كثيرون أنه ترجمة لسياسة اعتدال إيرانية تريد مسايرة الأميركيين والغرب، وصنفوا ظريف معتدلاً على هذا الأساس، بينما يظهر اليوم أنه منصة استدراج لمواجهة من داخل القانون الدولي، ربحت إيران جولته الأولى ببقاء أوروبا تحت مظلته وخروج أميركا وحيدة من أحكامه واستحالة العودة لمعاقبة إيران على برنامجها النووي بقرارات أممية، وتتجه إيران الآن لربح جولته الثانية على أوروبا. وهذه نظرية الدفاع الذاتي في القانون الدولي التي يبدو أن إدارة ترامب تفتقر لمن يقرأ ليفهم حركتها، ويدرك الفشل الكبير الذي ينتظره في المواجهة معها، كما كان فشل الفوضى البناءة بالاعتماد على الدفاع الذاتي الذي قادت عبره سورية بالتعاون مع إيران وقوى المقاومة الحرب التي شنتها واشنطن بدعم دولي وإقليمي استثنائيين، لتسقط فيها قيمياً وعملياً بفعالية الدفاع الذاتي في القانون الدولي.

– الإجراءات الإيرانية الأخيرة وما سيليها فصول جديدة في علوم السياسة الدولية، بمقدار ما هي خطوات سياسيّة مثيرة.

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The head of the Russian GRU reveals US plans against Venezuela (MUST SEE!)

The head of the Russian GRU reveals US plans against Venezuela (MUST SEE!)

May 02, 2019

The U.S. wants to change the government in Venezuela and use Colombia to do that. The head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Vice-Admiral Igor Kostyukov, stated that. He made that statement at the conference on international security. It was held last week in Moscow.

Lavrov’s interview for Zvezda network

April 22, 2019

Lavrov’s interview for Zvezda network

 

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview for Glavnoye with Olga Belova programme on Zvezda network, Moscow, April 21, 2019

http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/3622162?p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_cKNonkJE02Bw&_101_INSTANCE_cKNonkJE02Bw_languageId=en_GB

Olga Belova: Mr Lavrov, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview today. Thank you for your time. We are recording this interview on the eve of the second round of Ukraine’s presidential election, so if you would allow me, we will begin with this subject, since it is currently making headlines. Against this backdrop we cannot fail but to recall the events that took place five years ago during the 2014 election in Ukraine. Since then the question of whether Russia had to recognise the outcome of the 2014 election resurfaces from time to time in the public space. What will happen this time around? Does recognising this election make any sense? We understand all too well that Russia has many formal and moral reasons to break up all contacts with the Ukrainian authorities.

Sergey Lavrov: Five years ago when the presidential election was called in Ukraine, it happened in the aftermath of an armed and anti-constitutional government coup that, for some reason, was carried out within a day after the signing of an agreement between the opposition and President Viktor Yanukovich. Moreover, foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and France assumed the role of guarantors under this agreement that was also proactively backed by the US. But the next morning the opposition announced on Maidan Square that they had seized power and had formed a government of victors. This is when they began splitting their people apart. This agreement was signed on February 21, 2014, and if we recall its text, the first paragraph sets forth the need to form a “national unity government.” Instead, they established a government of victors, and started treating everyone else like losers. They put forward multiple requirements that ran counter to the interests of a significant part of people in Ukraine, including minorities such as Russians and Russian speakers. All this brought about serious problems and triggered a referendum in Crimea as a response to the threats made by nationalists to expel Russians from the peninsula and attempts to take over the Supreme Council building by force.

Let me mention one more event. In mid-April, that is before the election was called, but after the referendum in Crimea, Geneva hosted a meeting attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry, yours truly, EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, and then acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andrey Deshitsa. At this meeting we agreed on a one-page declaration, and its key provision consisted of supporting the intention of the Ukrainian authorities to implement federalisation, that is to decentralise the country with the involvement of all regions. A representative of the new Ukrainian government that came to power in Kiev following a coup signed this document, guaranteeing federalisation with the involvement of all regions of the country.

But this commitment was instantly forgotten. Against this backdrop, when people started to state their intention to run for president, President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko was saying on every street corner that he was a “president of peace” and would settle the conflict in a matter of two or three weeks. It is for this reason that Western capitals, Paris and Berlin, urged Russia to refrain from making a statement rejecting the election outcome. We did refrain in order to give them a chance.

In early June 2014, President-elect Petr Poroshenko met with President of France Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of Russia Vladimir Putin, when they all attended celebrations of the allied Normandy landings. The very fact that Vladimir Putin took part in this meeting, proposed by France and Germany, attested to Russia’s commitment to peace in Donbass and protecting the rights of those who were firm in their refusal to accept an armed coup. We proceeded from the premise that Petro Poroshenko was primarily elected for this promise to resolve the problem peacefully. With this in mind, I would refrain from stirring up the past on this particular matter.

By the way, during the Normandy format meetings that followed, Petr Poroshenko proved that he was not a “president of the peace,” and was forced by the developments on the ground to sign the Minsk Agreements. Russia also believed that it was unacceptable for him to consistently fool his people, while also lying to his curators abroad, since they were irritated by Poroshenko “getting out of hand.” I am talking about the Europeans represented within the Normandy Format, namely France and Germany. When the Minsk Agreements were signed everyone let out a sigh of relief, considering that this created a clear path to peace, especially since the UN Security Council approved the Minsk Agreements, thus implementing them into international law. However, in this sphere as well Petr Poroshenko proved to be very apt in dodging responsibility, turning for protection to the US administration which does not encourage Ukraine to abide by the Minsk Agreements. The Europeans found themselves in an awkward situation.

This was a look at the past, but coming back to your question, we have seen electoral programmes released by Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky. We see how they approached the run-off. I have the impression that what matters the most for them at this point is to attract voters by some kind of a constructive agenda in order to secure victory. This is what their efforts are all about. I would rather not draw any final conclusions on what Vladimir Zelensky’s policy will look like if he is elected president, which is a done deal as far as observers are concerned. I would refrain from paying too much attention to declarations coming from his campaign. We have to wait for the second round results when they will have to deal with real things instead of campaign slogans and propaganda. Only then will we understand what this person as president thinks about the millions of his compatriots who speak Russian, love the Russian language and culture and want to live according to their values and the values of the winners in the Great Patriotic War, instead of being guided by values that extoll Roman Shukhevich, Stepan Bandera and other Petlyuras.

Olga Belova: You said we need to wait for the president-elect to take actual steps. Everyone realises that it is imperative to sit down and talk no matter what happens. What should Kiev’s first actions, statements and steps be so that, to use your words, Moscow “gives them another chance” to a peaceful resolution of the situation?

Sergey Lavrov: Most importantly, the new or old government should be able to talk and reach agreements and to respect international law and Ukraine’s international obligations. Such obligations include an international legal instrument which is the UN Security Council resolution, which approved the Minsk Agreements. A direct dialogue between Kiev, on the one hand, and Donetsk and Lugansk, on the other hand, lies at the core of these agreements. This will be the key to success. To reiterate, we heard about the plans to continue the settlement in the election statements, in particular, on the part of Mr Zelensky and his staff, but this time with the involvement of the United States and Great Britain and without direct dialogue with the proclaimed republics − DPR and LPR.

When contenders for a post make such statements, they will then be somehow tied in with such a position in the future. I hope that life will make them realise that there’s no alternative to implementing the Minsk Agreements and, in any case, that there’s no alternative to direct dialogue with the people who represent an enormous part of your nation, if you still consider them to be such, of course.

Olga Belova: We see that so far no one has been talking to them, and there’s no direct dialogue with the republics. Recently, the DPR published the foreign policy concept which shows a certain dualism: on the one hand, there’s a commitment to the Minsk Agreements and, on the other hand, the Republic of Donbass recognises itself as an independent state. What does Moscow think about the dualism of this document? What is your vision of the future of that region following the elections?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t see anything unusual here, because these republics proclaimed sovereignty five years ago, in May 2014, responding to what we just talked about, namely, radical nationalists who came out with strong anti-Russian statements and launched an attack on the language, cultural and religious rights of ethnic minorities. It started a long time ago. These republics responded by declaring independence. Let’s remind our Western colleagues, if they ever take any interest in these unpleasant facts from recent history, that these republics did not attack the rest of Ukraine. The rest of Ukraine declared them terrorists. This, of course, is a stunning phenomenon in modern diplomacy and politics.

The rest of Ukraine was represented by the putschists who seized power in Kiev and launched an attack on millions of their fellow citizens demanding that they submit to illegal authorities. So, as I understand it, independence was simply reaffirmed in these doctrinal documents adopted in Donbass. But after this independence was declared five years ago in May − returning to what we think about the then elections and the election of Poroshenko solely because he proclaimed that his goal was immediate peace and an immediate agreement on resolving the Donbass problem by way of talks, Russia talked these republics into agreeing to a political process.

Political and diplomatic efforts were interrupted by the military actions of Kiev, which did not respect the truce and ceasefire agreement. There was the August offensive which ended badly for the Ukrainian armed forces and, most importantly, claimed a huge number of human lives, followed by the January offensive in Debaltsevo. Only after receiving a rebuff, did Petr Poroshenko sit down at the negotiating table. That’s how the Minsk Agreements were signed.

I was in Minsk and saw how the leaders of the four countries spent 17 hours at the negotiating table taking short breaks, mostly talking between themselves, and sometimes inviting us as experts to clarify certain fine points. It took considerable effort to convince the leaders of the DPR and LPR who were present in Minsk to give the go-ahead to the Minsk Agreements. We did it. We convinced them to once again demonstrate their willingness, even determination, if you will, to achieve peace with the rest of Ukraine.

Unfortunately, the way the current Ukrainian authorities see our efforts is disappointing. Despite provocations, we will push for these agreements to be implemented. We are a country that is capable of reaching agreements.

Olga Belova: That is, if I understood you correctly, Moscow is still capable and willing to continue to influence the leadership of these republics? Are we going to push them to sit down and talk as best we can, or not? I’m asking this because the leaders of the republics have made it clear that they have parted ways with Kiev.

Sergey Lavrov: You said there was a dual decision to reaffirm independence and commitment to the Minsk Agreements. To a certain extent (I will not frame it in terms of a percentage), this is the result of our influence on them and our call for them not to follow the example of the Ukrainian authorities which break down and trample upon their own promises. We will continue to exert this influence. We have long been calling, above all, the Germans and the French, to realise their responsibility for Kiev’s behaviour, because the Minsk Agreements involve, above all, proactive steps on the part of the Ukrainian authorities. The Contact Group is the only format where Donetsk, Lugansk and Kiev sit down at one table with the representatives of the OSCE and Russia. It took an inordinate amount of effort to create it, primarily because Mr Poroshenko began to back pedal shortly after the Minsk Agreements had been signed, and refused to maintain direct dialogue with the republics. But we forced our Ukrainian colleagues do that. Although in practical work − the Contact Group meets every month −  and even more often than that the Ukrainian government outwardly sabotages everything that was agreed upon, be it security, separating forces and means, the political process, coordinating the formula for conducting elections or providing this region with a special status in accordance with the Minsk Agreements. There is an open and blatant sabotage. We need to understand how the election results will affect the Ukrainian delegation’s activities in the Contact Group, and what kind of people will be delegated there.

Olga Belova: Indeed, now everything depends on how the presidential election will end, including the situation in the Kerch Strait, which was endlessly brought up in the first part of the campaign, before the first round. How harshly are we ready to respond if another provocation is made, especially considering that NATO has declared its readiness to support Ukrainian warships if they undertake another breakthrough?

Sergey Lavrov: Morally and politically – maybe they will support it. But I do not see a situation where NATO ships will join these adventurers for a military provocation. I do not foresee such a situation, and, considering the information that we have, I have reason to believe that this has already been decided at NATO.

Olga Belova: So all the support they will be getting is just words?

Sergey Lavrov: Probably, as it was the last time, a condemnation, and once again they will come up with some new sanctions. As we have said many times, we have no problem with Ukrainian warships passing from the Black Sea to their ports in the Sea of ​​Azov. The only condition is to comply with the safety requirement for navigation along the Kerch Strait. It is a complex stretch of water, which is quite shallow and doesn’t go in a straight line and requires compulsory pilotage as well as coordination when it comes to the weather conditions. All ships — and there are thousands of them — stop at the entrance to the Kerch Strait, report to the channel operators, pilotage, recommendations, and, depending on the weather forecast, move on to the Sea of ​​Azov, as was done before Ukraine’s warships last November. They passed smoothly without any incidents.

In November 2018, Petr Poroshenko, obviously during the election heat, tried to create a scandal to have reason to appeal to the West again, complaining of Russia harassing him, and insisting on more sanctions. He is better at it than many others. So the warships tried to secretly pass through the Kerch Strait, trespassing into our territorial waters – the part that was Russia’s territorial waters even before the referendum in Crimea. What they did actually boiled down to probing the limits of those who ensure the security of the Kerch Strait and the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.

I must note that among the numerous arguments our opponents seem to forget is the fact that the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea actually implies a so-called unimpeded passage through the territorial waters of a foreign state, including military vessels, subject to several conditions. One of them is the mandatory fulfillment of security requirements, which in this case was grossly violated. The second is that a coastal state cannot allow military ships to maneuver through its territorial waters. That is, you either pass complying with the rules or you violate the Convention. What they did was military maneuvers, trying to hide from our border guards. This much is clear to all without exception. I have no doubt about it.

That we have nothing to hide can be confirmed by a very simple fact.

In mid-December, German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to allow German specialists to observe the process to better understand what the hitch was and to study the conditions for passing through the Kerch Strait. Vladimir Putin immediately agreed. We reaffirmed the agreement and asked for their names and dates that would suit them. They made a pause, and then suddenly my colleague, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, said at a meeting in January when I reminded him of this that they wanted to bring French experts along.

I said that was new, but I was confident that our President would also agree to French specialists being on this study tour. But after some time, the Germans sent us the concept of their visit, which was not a single visit at all but involved establishing a kind of permanent observation mission, which would be associated with the OSCE mission in Donbass, and would also include Ukrainians. All of them would be staying in our territory doing I do not know what.

Olga Belova: You mean they actually wanted to come and stay there?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, they certainly wanted to stay. The Germans are usually very punctual and precise people. When Angela Merkel asked Vladimir Putin whether their experts could come and see, he said yes… Apparently, after that, they consulted with their big brothers.

Olga Belova: So they just thought it would be a good reason to enter and station their ships there?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, but this is an absolutely hopeless story. At the same time, I can assure with all responsibility that if the Germans and the French still have an interest in visiting and seeing it firsthand, so as not to rely on the gossip that the Ukrainian side spreads, they are very welcome.

Olga Belova: You believe that Russia will not directly clash with NATO ships in the Kerch Strait because NATO will not have the courage to sail there.

But there is another place where Russian interests clash with those of its Western partners, which is Venezuela. Will Washington decide to stage a military intervention there? What do you think of this? If yes, how far is Russia ready to go in this region? Are we prepared for a direct and tough stand-off in the region that would culminate in a peace enforcement operation against those who don’t want this, provided that all legal formalities are complied with?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t want to bring up this scenario. I am convinced that Washington does not yet completely understand that its line regarding Venezuela has become deadlocked. They believed that the people of Venezuela would rebel against the incumbent government from the very outset, that they would be disappointed with the government’s inability to ensure the normal operation of the socioeconomic sector. Our Western colleagues took care of this: The United States froze the Venezuelan oil company’s accounts, and the United Kingdom impounded the country’s gold reserves. They hoped to stifle Venezuela using economic methods. When the crisis was in its early stage, they also organised humanitarian relief aid deliveries and tried to cross the Venezuelan border. Obviously, that was a very cheap show. Yes, they said all the options were on the table, but they obviously expected a blitzkrieg. However, they admit that no blitzkrieg took place. Indeed, the country faces a very complicated economic situation which was complicated and continued to deteriorate even before all this began. We repeatedly advised the government of Venezuela, at its request, how to launch economic reforms. Quite possibly, someone did not like this, and they also decided to halt this process, so as to prevent the situation from working in favour of the Maduro government. They decided to further stifle Venezuela by economic and financial methods. When the blitzkrieg petered out, when it became clear that the people of Venezuela had their own pride and a feeling of national dignity, when they became obviously insulted by a situation when, speaking from abroad, US Vice President Mike Pence noted that he was appointing Juan Guaido as Acting President, one should be very far from historical experience while hoping that the people of Venezuela would “swallow” this.

Today, when the Americans continue to say that all options are on the table, I don’t doubt the fact that they are assessing the consequences of an audacious military undertaking. It is highly unlikely that anyone in Latin America will support them. To the best of my knowledge, they are counting on one or two countries. I have no doubts, and I know that the Latin Americans have a great feeling of personal dignity. This would pose a challenge to all of them, all the more so as a righteous rejection of such a dictate has been accumulating for several months already, especially when the Americans de-mothballed the Monroe Doctrine and said it was quite appropriate to use this doctrine in the current situation.

On April 17, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the United States was bringing its own version of freedom to the region. And what version of freedom does the region prefer? Would you like to ask them how they perceive their own freedom?

I hope very much that a line which stipulates talks and which is conducted by Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay and the Caribbean Community will prevail. President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro is ready for such talks, and he has repeatedly confirmed this in public. Juan Guaido emphatically and ostentatiously refuses, comprehending Washington’s support and counting on this support alone. It appears that he has copied the bad example of President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko who also behaved in the same way with regard to the need for conducting a national dialogue that would involve all political forces, and he hoped that Washington would shield him whatever the situation.

Olga Belova: Washington says it is bringing freedom to the region. But what is it that we are bringing to the region?

Sergey Lavrov: We want international law to be respected in the region as well as in the world at large. This means that states build their relations via dialogue and a balance of interests takes shape. This also means that we listen to each other and want to negotiate mutually beneficial security, economic and humanitarian projects as well as projects in any other spheres, where countries and peoples operate. Our relations with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) rest precisely on this basis. We are finalising talks with the South American Common Market (MERCOSUR). There is an agreement with the Central American Integration System (CAIS) and a number of other sub-regional organisations.

We have even-handed and good relations with practically all the Latin American countries. We don’t force anyone to do things we would like to get as unilateral advantages. The entire US policy towards Russia comes down to the US ambassador in any country visiting, with envious regularity, government agencies and demanding that they don’t receive Russian delegations, nor send delegations to Russia, nor trade with Russia, nor buy anything from Russia, particularly military products, and the like.

You can’t conceal information in today’s world. We learn this the moment these “visits” occur, the more so that the Americans are not particularly hiding the fact. They publicly say: Don’t communicate with Russia. It is Russia along with Iran and Cuba that are to blame for what is going on in Venezuela. They demand that not a single Russian soldier be found in Venezuela because the US wants it this way: no one located outside of the Western Hemisphere has the right to be there at all. Our explanation that the Russian military are performing contractual obligations servicing military equipment that was supplied on fully legitimate terms way back in the 2000s are simply disregarded. The fact that the US military and other NATO personnel – Britons and Canadians – have filled Ukraine is not mentioned. It looks like they proceed from logic suggested by the saying “What is allowed to Jupiter, is not allowed to the bull.” This is rotten logic, very much so, and it will not help our US colleagues. I am quite hopeful that they will come to understand this. Yes, within some historically very brief period preceding the next electoral cycles in the US, they are likely to reap certain benefits because they are brazenly putting pressure on countries that are unable to resist them. But in the long term, increasingly more countries will proceed from the assumption that America is just an unreliable and impolite partner that is abusing its influence in the world. The UN Charter insists on sovereign equality of states. We build our relations precisely in this way.

I cannot refrain from mentioning the fact that the United States has recently added a frontal attack on Orthodox Christianity to the arsenal of its policy towards Russia. Given that the Russian Orthodox Church was a world Orthodoxy leader, the crazy gamble involving the conferral of autocephality on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, known today as the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, a gamble undertaken by the Istanbul Patriarch Bartholomew, has been – we have enough facts to claim this – inspired and supported by Washington. Today Washington is engaged in tough diplomatic action as it works with other Orthodox Churches that have refused to support the Istanbul Patriarch’s self-willed decision. Its aim is to somehow make them recognise what has happened. This unceremonious and gross interference in church affairs is at odds with all diplomatic norms and international law in general. And this is deplorable.

We would like the United States to be a decent member of the world community. We are open to dialogue but their approach to relations is highly utilitarian and selfish.

They suggest that we and the Chinese cooperate with them when it comes to Afghanistan and North Korea because they are unable to operate successfully on their own there. And we accept this because a settlement in Afghanistan, on the Korean Peninsula and in Syria, on which we can communicate usefully, is also in our interests. We don’t dig in our heels and say that we will not negotiate on these issues if they don’t want to discuss other ones. Our position is more pragmatic. Russia is ready to work with all influential parties who see eye to eye with us and can help to achieve a settlement.

But generally their policy towards Russia is based solely on the wish to make us accept their unilateral domination and renounce international law. This is deplorable and cannot last ad infinitum. The Americans will be unable to sustain this course for long. They are antagonising a huge number of countries. So, it is in their best interests to come back to square one and start talking to all countries respectfully. Currently, they are doing this arrogantly, something that cannot help their interests.    

Olga Belova: We do need to talk, but so far talking to these Western partners of ours has been quite challenging. There is a saying: Those who do not want to talk with Sergey Lavrov will have to deal with Sergey Shoigu. This echoes what you have been saying. In your opinion, who is the main guardian of peace now, the military or the diplomats? What enables Russia to maintain parity: state-of-the-art armaments or the power of words? Who has priority at present?

Sergey Lavrov: When the Soviet Union was being dissolved, pro-democracy forces both here in Russia and in the West were ecstatic. There was a theory whereby the factor of strength in international relations was no longer relevant now that the bipolar world order was no more, the Cold War became a thing of the past, ideological differences faded away and we all came together on a strong democratic footing. This euphoric state persisted for several years. The situation was far from rosy of course, but as you may remember, in the 1990s Russia was young and proactive in its commitment to working with the US and NATO, all but deciding to join the alliance. However, disillusionment came very quickly. It dawned on everyone that behind the veil of these beautiful words the West meant only one thing: Russia was to give up on using the factor of strength in its policy, while the West would continue relying on it. Why was NATO still around after the Warsaw Pact was dissolved? How come we did not come together within the OSCE to transform it into a pan-European, Euro-Atlantic organisation without any western or eastern variants in order to address all questions without exception based on consensus? It did not happen. Of course, the plan they nurtured was to use Russia’s weakness in the first years after the collapse of the Soviet Union in order to achieve an overwhelming military and strategic advantage.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin has talked about this on numerous occasions. It became clear to us that our positive attitude towards the West was not reciprocal. The West continued to push NATO further east in violation of all possible promises, moving its military infrastructure to our borders, and there was no end in sight, especially when the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty. At this point, everything was clear. Decisions were taken, paving the way to the development of the weapons the President presented during his address last year to the Federal Assembly. Of course, it is highly regrettable that in today’s world no one will talk to you, unless you have a strong army and cutting-edge weapons.

Olga Belova: Has it become easier to talk?

Sergey Lavrov: When I was appointed to this post, the situation was already beginning to change. However, I would not say that talking was a challenge before, and that now things are easier. Unfortunately, the US, as our main partner, labelled Russia its “high-priority adversary,” as you have said. Later the US backtracked, and propelled China to this position. Later Russia was again on the list, and after that we were accompanied by China and Iran. They want to set their policy straight. They want to be in total control, but have yet to understand how this can be done. Sanctions work in some cases, but definitely not with Russia. They will not work with other countries that respect their history and identity.

We have no problems talking with the Europeans when it comes to relations with each specific country. There are challenges in our dialogue with NATO, since the US decided to convene meetings of the Russia-NATO Council with the sole purpose of lecturing us on Ukraine and other matters or criticising us for allegedly violating and dismantling the Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. We do not intend to attend any meetings of this kind in the future. If they want to have a serious conversation, they have to convene a Russia-NATO Council meeting at the military level. The outgoing Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Allied Command Operations, General Curtis Scaparrotti, recently voiced regret over the lack of military-to-military interaction with Russia that existed even during the Cold War. Better late than never. Let us hope that his successor in this position is receptive to this advice. This is what we hope for.

We have a very good dialogue with each country of the European Union. Yes, we sometimes happen to disagree. We have problems with the Baltic countries, with Poland, but we are ready to talk about them. Especially because the Baltic states are our neighbours, and we have good trade and investment cooperation in business. There are also security issues, because NATO is pushing its units into Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. It is too close to our borders. At the same time, NATO is moving away from implementing the understandings we reached following the initiative of President of Finland Sauli Niinisto concerning flight safety over the Baltic. We responded to it; our military proposed ideas that would help allay concerns. It is possible to talk with everyone. On a bilateral basis, even the Baltic countries show interest: President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid has visited Moscow. We are talking in a neighbourly way about what we can do so that people can live comfortably and there would be no security concerns. But the collective platforms – NATO and the EU – are dominated by mutual responsibility: the Russophobic minority in the EU imposed sanctions on Russia, punishing us for supporting the will of the people of Crimea. This position of the European Union is now extended every six months, and no one can do anything, although individually, they assure us that the majority already understands that this is a dead end and something needs to be done. We are patient people, but as long as the EU as an organisation is not ready to restore all the mechanisms of our strategic partnership – we used to have summits twice a year, a ministerial council that oversaw more than 20 sectoral dialogues, four common spaces … All that was frozen because someone decided to try to “punish” us. Funny, honestly.

We are always open to honest, equal and respectful dialogue both through the military and through diplomatic channels. We have a very good tradition with a number of countries, in particular, with Italy and Japan, the 2 + 2 format, when Sergey Shoigu and I meet with our colleagues, the four of us. This is a very interesting format. It enables us to consider security issues through the prism of diplomacy and vice versa – purely military issues in foreign policy. We had such formats with the Americans and the British – but they froze them on their own initiative. But with the Italians and the Japanese, we continue these processes.

Olga Belova: I seem to understand why they froze them. Because when you two come to the negotiations, it’s simply impossible to resist you in such a duo.

Sergey Lavrov: Oh, don’t say that. We are modest people. Modest and polite.

Olga Belova: You’re modest and polite – but are you ready to give everyone a second chance, as with Ukraine?

Sergey Lavrov: Some do not need to be given a chance – they already rely on their national interests, not on what some foreign brother tells them. But if someone digs in their heels and expects an apology from us – well, we have nothing to apologise for. Our actions are guided by international law, and the UN Charter. We respect the right of any nation to determine its own future. This also applies to the rights of national minorities, in Crimea or anywhere else. We are always ready for dialogue.

I am on trial in Germany for peacefully protesting Israeli apartheid

BDS activist Majed Abusalama shares a court statement he delivered after being tried for protesting an Israeli MK’s talk in Berlin
'It is my civil duty to speak up for my Palestinian community' (AFP)

‘It is my civil duty to speak up for my Palestinian community’ (AFP)

I am in the midst of a nightmare because I dared to call for equality, justice, freedom and dignity for Palestinians. My activism in Germany as part of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement has landed me before the court.

Last month, charges were levied against me and my two Jewish comrades, Ronnie Barkan and Stavit Sinai. Together, we are known as the #humboldt3, because we peacefully protested a talk at Humboldt University in Berlin by Knesset member Aliza Lavie, who supported Israel’s 2014 war on the besieged Gaza Strip.

I have been deeply touched by the international support we have received throughout this ordeal. However, we still need all human rights defenders and friends of Palestine to stand with us, since we are going through a re-trial following Israeli pressure to convict us.

Many have told me that I will overcome – but what they might not know is that as a three-decade survivor of the Israeli occupation, the experience of violence, oppression and collective punishment has taught me to keep fighting for life.

In the courtroom, sitting as a criminal, I gave the following statement.

Shared humanity

I am standing here on trial as a criminal defendant, along with my comrades, as a result of us daring to speak up publicly against Israel’s crimes against humanity in my beloved Palestine. It came out of my responsibility as a humanist, and as a Palestinian, to respond to Aliza Lavie, who was in the coalition that decided to slaughter, displace, bombard, torture, imprison and obliterate my beloved people in 2014.

It was my moral duty to call her out for her crimes against humanity. Throughout the event, I was silent, only listening in pain as Lavie spoke. I saw her speaking with joy about her so-called democratic country – but in reality, she was rejoicing at the blood of my people, without any shame.

There was one image that I saw in my mind and felt in my heart: that of my friends who lost their limbs while protesting peacefully

There was one image that I saw in my mind and felt in my heart: that of my friends who lost their limbs while protesting peacefully for justice and freedom inside the Gaza ghetto.

I thought of all my family and friends living a brutal, horrific life under Israeli apartheid, imprisoned and illegally collectively punished.

I saw tens of thousands of homes destroyed in Israeli massacres. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been rendered homeless as a result of the 2014 Gaza massacre and other Israeli onslaughts.

Your honour, if you were in my place – and you will not be, because you will never understand the feeling of waiting for a bomb to fall on your family’s or your neighbour’s home – you would understand how hard it is to live in this continuous horror.

Collective duty

I was shot in the leg with a live bullet while protesting peacefully – planting olive trees – at the Gaza fence in 2014. Lavie, who has been in the Knesset since 2013, is among those who bear responsibility for the bullet that disabled me for months, and damaged me for a lifetime.

Our actions at Humboldt University should be honoured, as it is the moral duty of every humanist to speak up against criminals, especially those complicit in crimes against humanity. As activists for human rights, this is our collective duty – not only in Israel, but also in Europe and specifically Germany, where we live.

We, human rights advocates, think it is our duty collectively to confront any criminal, not only in Israel, but also in Europe.

Gaza’s Great Return March: How Palestinians are reclaiming their land

Read More »

We, the Palestinians and Jews who escaped apartheid in Israel, are here in Germany to fulfill our civil and moral duty to fight for transnational solidarity, equality and justice – to rally all communities together around our shared humanity.

I came to live in Germany as a citizen of this world, hoping that I would no longer suffer under the confinement of Israeli apartheid. But I have discovered that Israeli apartheid is spreading to Germany.

Fear of speaking out

The thousands of Muslims and Palestinians in Germany do not feel safe to speak up. They feel they could be persecuted at any time, simply for shouting “Free Palestine” or dreaming to return freely to their homes, in accordance with the UN-mandated right of return. They fear persecution for calling for equality, dignity, freedom and justice in Gaza.

It is my civil duty to speak up for my Palestinian community

Your honour, for days, I was unable to sleep after encountering the fabrication of us being criminals for speaking up against Israeli apartheid. Yet I realise it is my duty as a future citizen of this country to change the discourse in Germany around Israel’s crimes.

It is my civil duty to speak up for my Palestinian community and for the implementation of international law in our land – and for our freedom to express ourselves and to protest in Germany.

I am standing in front of you today to demand justice, not only for myself and my comrades, but for all those pursuing justice and equality in Germany and Palestine.

The above statement has been edited for length and clarity.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Majed Abusalama
Majed Abusalama is a human rights defender, scholar and independent journalist who hails from Jabalia Refugee Camp in Gaza. He has been worked with International and Palestinian non-profit organisations on the intersections of sustainability, reforming aid, entrepreneurship, and organic conflict transformation. He tweets@MajedAbusalama.

International Criminal Lawyer to ST: ICC is Controlled by The US and EU

ST

DAMASCUS, (ST)- An International Criminal Lawyer has underscored that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has fallen under the influence of those who fund it mainly the EU, and US and private corporations who donate to it and who are very willing to use the court when it suits their interests.

Mr. Christopher Black told the Syria Times e-newspaper that the US will not recognize the court, nevertheless it attempts to use it through certain personnel placed in key positions to do its bidding.

“The Americans and British, for example, are putting pressure on the ICC to investigate and charge the Syrian government with war crimes.

This effort is fronted by certain lawyers pretending to represent Syrian refugees, but the lawyers all work for US and UK intelligence and NATO,” he said.

The veteran lawyer went on to say: “one of the US lawyers involved is Stephen Rapp who was once in charge of prosecutions at the Rwanda tribunal where he engaged in some corrupt practices, then became head of the Hariri tribunal which had the objective of making propaganda against Syria, then became the US roving ambassador for war crimes. Now he is acting on US government’s orders.”

He affirmed that US, EU and other NATO countries do not want the ICC to be used against them but they are very willing to use it to suit their interests.

“The USA did sign up to the Rome Treaty but withdrew its signature under President Bush because the Americans see themselves as the exceptional people, subject to no laws but their own, at the same time that they try to dictate to the world what the law should be,” Mr. Black added.

He made it clear that there are of course many atrocities that have been committed by American forces in all their wars and will be in the future but they do not want to be judged in a world court, have their officer and leaders put on trial, their national reputation disgraced.

“They [American forces] also view war crimes tribunals as only suitable for those who have defeated, as propaganda show trials to justify their wars and portray the defeated enemy as criminals. But they will never tolerate the same treatment for themselves because they see themselves in their arrogance above all others and subject to no one’s judgement,” the lawyer stated.

He underscored that the ICC is not accountable to any higher body. “For this reason, Russia and China and I suspect Syria have not joined it.  All national courts are part of a governmental system. Court decisions can be challenged at appeal levels and even to the government in certain cases. But there is no world government for the ICC to report to or where its decisions can be challenged.  So it has fallen under the influence of those that fund it mainly the EU, and US and private corporations who donate to it.”

The chance of the US or close allies being charged is zero

In response to a question about who will judge American, Israeli atrocities and their allies for their war crimes in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, the lawyer said: “No one will judge them except the peoples of those countries. There are no means possible to bring them to justice before an international body with the present world power structure. However, each country that has suffered under their aggression can lay their own charges, have their own trials, even in absentia, and show the world the crimes that they committed.”

He indicated that the Americans have made it very clear they will not permit their people to be arrested by the ICC or their allies. “As we saw this week with Afghanistan, when they don’t want to be investigated, the ICC will back off and will drop its investigations. They even have a law permitting them (a US law) to physically release any of their people even if they were arrested. So the chance of the US or close allies such as Israel being charged is zero.”

The lawyer asserted that the ICC is dominated by EU and US and other NATO countries such as Canada.

“Many of the staff are people that used to work under NATO -US command at the Yugoslav and Rwanda tribunals which were in name UN tribunals but were in fact controlled by the USA. Key staff they can rely on to do what they want are placed in key positions,” he said.

Mr. Black concluded by saying: “Once again, the only people who can hold them accountable are the people of the nations they have attacked.”

Interviewed by: BasmaQaddour

Maria Zakharova discusses US policies towards Venezuela (MUST READ!)

April 14, 2019Maria Zakharova discusses US policies towards Venezuela (MUST READ!)

Excerpt of the weekly MFA  briefing by Maria Zakharova:
——-
The UN Security Council held a meeting in New York yesterday at the initiative of the US to discuss the humanitarian situation in Venezuela. Russia’s position, whereby this is not the appropriate platform or format for discussing this topic, remains unchanged. We are not turning a blind eye to the challenging social, economic and humanitarian developments in Venezuela. Still, we do not see any threats to regional, let alone international, stability or security.

Representatives of Donald Trump’s administration are obsessive in hammering home the message that “all options are on the table.” This is a matter of grave concern. Let me reiterate that the possible military scenario, if this is what representatives of the US establishment have in mind, would lead nowhere. It is dangerous, since it could bring about a civil war. We urge our US colleagues to review these irresponsible plans that are at odds with international law. I would like to draw the attention of our Western colleagues once again to what they have done in a number of countries around the world. Just look at the scenarios you have been trying to follow there, and what came out of it.

We will continue to do everything we can to prevent the dangerous scenarios that we witnessed in a number of countries from taking place in Venezuela. We are glad that there is little support for this option within the international community, even though Washington regrettably persists in its efforts.

It is also unfortunate that the US Security Council was not able to refrain from discussing the humanitarian situation in Venezuela. Vice President Mike Pence’s remarks went beyond the bounds of decency when he called for recognising Venezuela’s new leader, backing up his claims with ultimatums and threats of new sanctions.

Representatives of the US administration do not hesitate when it comes to breaking fundamental principles and norms of international and regional law as they seek to unseat the legitimate President of Venezuela. Aggressive rhetoric against official diplomatic representatives of the Venezuelan government, recognising appointees who appeared out of nowhere, illegal takeover of diplomatic property, financial assets and other acts of this kind are all reminiscent of gang warfare rather than what professional politicians and diplomats normally do. It is possible that the US is guided by its own experience when it promotes broad recognition and largely directs the appointment of so-called Venezuelan ambassadors and official representatives around the world. Over the past years, we have seen people without any prior experience in public service being appointed US ambassadors, be it in executive or legislative branches, let alone diplomatic work. These were people that were in good graces of one administration or another or contributed to an election campaign financially. They were rewarded by ambassador posts. This is how it happens in the US. This does not mean, however, that this approach, coupled with violations of international law, should be applied elsewhere.

Washington conceals its disdain for the decades-old international legal framework behind the opaque notion of a rules-based world order and imposes it everywhere, including in regional and international affairs. This fully applies to the call by Mike Pence on the UN Security Council to withdraw the mandate from Venezuela’s permanent representative, as well as to the prospect of the US putting forward a resolution recognising the legitimacy of this country’s alternative government and its representative.

There were new developments lately regarding this situation. In particular, the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States, a prominent structure in the Western hemisphere, decided to accept the appointment of a permanent representative designated by Venezuela’s National Assembly. This is nothing short of an attempt to legitimise the dual rule in Venezuela. The fallout from this is not just hypothetical, but real, since it establishes the duality of power in a sovereign country. All the prerequisites are created for a major internal standoff in this country. Instead of promoting a settlement and building bridges between the political sides, they are doing just the opposite. The sides are being separated only to be pitted against one another so as to make it impossible to settle this conflict by political or diplomatic means.

In addition to this, having placed on the agenda the question of the status of Venezuelan government’s official representatives, the US delegation ignored all legal arguments of other countries that are members of the Organisation of American States. In particular, this related to the fact that the Permanent Council is not entitled to determine the powers of delegations, and questions of this kind cannot be decided by a simple majority. Instead, they must be reviewed by the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States, to say the least. Therefore, the decision taken by the Permanent Council directly contradicts the organisation’s statutory documents, undermines it and is detrimental to the status of this structure. But who cares when the stakes are so high?

We call on our partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to think about the fallout from this precedent and how it will affect the future work of the Organisation of American States. I want to ask our foreign partners: What will happen if the US tries to further promote the approach of recognising a representative of an impostor as tested within the Organisation of American States? Who will be targeted after Venezuela?

In this connection, I would like to remind you that there is no such notion as collective recognition of governments and their powers in international law. This is a sovereign right of every country. Only the head of state, head of government and foreign minister are entitled to appoint official representatives abroad. We firmly oppose all attempts by a number of countries to question the powers of the Venezuelan delegation within various frameworks, and remain committed to fending off any such attempts moving forward. The ongoing developments are merely an attempt to revert human development to a primitive state.

Regarding humanitarian aid to Venezuela, there are no objective reasons for imposing it on Caracas. There are no hostilities taking place in the country, there were no natural disasters or epidemic outbreaks. Once again, let me point out that the best way to help the people of Venezuela is to lift the illegal unilateral sanctions that target primarily the people of Venezuela. This is what Washington is after, going to great lengths in order to make sure that every Venezuelan suffers and shapes his or her political position accordingly. Washington tested these tactics in many regions of the world.

For example, efforts to block the access of regional and local authorities to financial resources constitute a serious challenge for the people, while no one is questioning the legitimacy of these resources. Just think about it: the cost of humanitarian aid Washington seeks to impose on Venezuela is in the tens of millions of dollars, while the overall effect of sanctions, according to Venezuela, is estimated at over 110 billion dollars. Just give them their money back, lift the sanctions and the country will be back on track. Even a small portion of this enormous amount would have helped deal with the shortage of medicine and other essential goods in Venezuela, and help launch the needed economic reforms. Let me reiterate what we have been saying all along: if the package of measures that is currently used in Venezuela were applied to any so-called developed Western country, let alone developing ones, the targeted country would collapse.

The use by Washington of restrictive measures and threats against countries that work with official Caracas, in particular Cuba, which has been suffering from a US blockade for more than 50 years, is extremely cynical. By the way, by failing to abide by the UN General Assembly resolution urging to end the embargo against Cuba is yet another example of the US showing disdain for UN resolutions.

As for Russia, we stand for strict compliance with norms and principles of international law in all aspects related to a settlement in Venezuela, against ratcheting up tension and imposing outside rule on a sovereign country.

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