الغاز مقابل الغذاء.. كيف سيواجه حزب الله خطة الحصار الأميركي المقبل؟

نوفمبر 16, 2019

نضال حمادة – باريس

يروي خبير في صندوق النقد الدولي يزور لبنان حالياً على هامش ندوة حول الدول الهشّة عن الأزمة المالية الخانقة التي شهدتها سورية عام 1986 عندما فرغت صناديق البنك المركزي السوري من العملة الصعبة، قائلاً إن البنك الدولي عرض على الرئيس السوري الراحل حافظ الأسد إقراض سورية، غير أنه رفض. وكانت نقطة قوة سورية يومها والتي جعلته يرفض الاقتراض وجود استراتيجية الأمن الغذائي في سياستها، كانت سورية مكتفية غذائياً، تصدّر القمح والمواشي وتنتج كل ما تحتاجه من غذاء، مضيفاً في الفترة نفسها تم اكتشاف النفط في دير الزور وأتت الأموال دون حاجة للاقتراض.

على عكس سورية يبدو الغذاء هو الأزمة الكبرى في لبنان في حال استمرت الضغوط الأميركية تلاحق اللبنانيين في اقتصادهم. فالبلد لا يمتلك الأمن الغذائي ويستورد كل غذائه من الخارج، ويكفي ذكر بعض ما يستورده لبنان لنعرف حجم الكارثة والخطر الذي يتربّص بنا في حال استمرت الضغوط الأميركية ولم نعمل لمواجهتها.

يستورد لبنان القمح الشعير الحبوب على أنواعها اللحوم المواشي – الكثير من الفاكهة والخضار – الأدوية على أنواعها ويدفع ثمن كل هذه المواد بالعملة الصعبة التي أصبحت صعبة المنال فعلاً في لبنان. من هنا تستعد أميركا للتحرك ضدنا في عملية الضغط المالي وعدم توفر الدولار والعملات المعتمد في شراء المواد الأولية، ومن هنا يعرف حزب الله أن أميركا سوف تمسك لبنان وشعبه بيدهم التي تؤلمهم.

لم يكن كلام أمين عام حزب الله عن الصين وروسيا وإيران ومصلحة لبنان في تغيير تحالفات دولته العميقة إلا تعبيراً عن القلق من فقدان الأمن الغذائي للدولة، والحاجة السريعة إلى إيجاد بدائل لمواجهة المرحلة الثانية من الخطة المتمثلة بالغاز مقابل الغذاء كما حصل مع العراق في تسعينيات القرن الماضي في عملية النفط مقابل الغذاء. فكل البنية الاقتصادية والغذائية في لبنان مهيأة لهذا النموذج ولا تحتاج أميركا هنا لقرار من مجلس الأمن لكون لبنان بلداً مفلساً ولا يستطيع دفع ثمن الدواء والقمح وما يحتاج من غذائه بالعملة الصعبة.

لقد دمّرت سياسة رفيق الحريري الاقتصادية منذ تسعينيات القرن الماضي الزراعة اللبنانية بشكل ممنهج وأوصلت البلد الى استيراد غالبية غذائه اليوم حتى تلوّث الأنهار في هذا البلد يعود أصله إلى استراتيجية القضاء على الزراعة وإفراغ البلد من أمنه الغذائي. وتكاملت هذه الاستراتيجية مع استراتيجية آخرى لا تقل عنها كارثية تمثلت بالاستدانة. والاستدانة من البنك الدولي والمؤسسات النقدية الأجنبية بفوائد عالية في ما سمي هندسات اقتصادية لم تكن في الحقيقة سوى أضخم عملية سرقة واحتيال تشهدها دولة من دول العالم.

يعمل حزب الله بصمت منذ مدة على هذا الأمر، بدءاً بمسألة الدواء الذي يأتي من إيران بالعملة المحلية ويمكن للحزبيين شراؤه من مستودعات الحزب بالمواصفات والجودة العالمية وبسعر مخفض. وهذا النموذج سوف يطبق على الغذاء والوقود وكل ما يدخل في الأمن الغذائي والحياتي، عبر الدول الحليفة التي تحدث عنها السيد حسن نصرالله في خطابه الأخير. فالصين مستعدّة للاستثمار والتمويل وروسيا أيضاً وإيران مستعدة للمساعدة والدعم وبأقساط طويلة الأمد وبالعملة المحلية لإيصال لبنان إلى الاكتفاء النهائي بالطاقة الكهربائية ومستعدة لتزويدنا بالوقود مع تسهيلات في الدفع. وينطبق هذا على قطاع الأدوية والبناء. كما أن حزب الله المنتشر عسكرياً في معبر البوكمال مستعدّ أن يجعل هذا المعبر ممراً لتصدير ما ينتجه لبنان من محاصيل الخضار والفاكهة، لبيعها في السوق العراقية الكبيرة. وفي استراتيجية حزب الله أيضاً سياسة التكامل الأمني الغذائي مع سورية التي تنتج القمح والشعير والحبوب بكميات تفيض عن حاجتها ومن السهل على لبنان سدّ حاجته من القمح والحبوب والمواشي عبر شرائها من سورية بأسعار أقل من الأسعار العالمية وبالليرة اللبنانية.

استفاق لبنان بعد حراك 17 تشرين الأول الماضي على وضع جديد وجد فيه اللبنانيون بكل فرقهم وألوانهم بلداً من دون مؤسسات. وتأكد للجميع الخصم والصديق أن حزب الله يشكل المؤسسة الوحيد في لبنان وهذا ما شاهده الجميع إعلامياً وعلى أرض الواقع من خلال تجربة شهر كامل من فلتان الشارع.

يعي حزب الله تماماً أن أميركا دخلت على خط الحراك، وأنها سوف تستغله الى الحد الأقصى للوصول الى سلاح المقاومة، وهو يعمل حالياً على مبدأ ان مدة هذا الحراك مفتوحة أميركياً وأن سبل مواجهته تحتاج الى اتخاذ القرارات المناسبة والصعبة في الوقت المناسب والصعب. ويعي جيداً ان استخدام السلاح في هذه الأزمة لن يجدي نفعاً إلا على الحدود لذلك يعمل حزب الله على بناء خطوط البلد الدفاعية في هذه الأزمة مدعوماً بالأدلة والمعلومات التي نشرنا بعضها في هذه السلسلة، ولا شك أن ما بقي مخفيّ ولم يُكشف أدهى وأعظم.

Iran Is Winning Strategic Struggle for Influence, even as US Cripples Its Economy

By Darius Shahtahmesibi

Source

Assad Khamenei 3619a

A new report has confirmed what some analysts have been saying for some time: that Iran is winning the regional struggle for strategic influence.

The 217-page report, published by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), is entitled “Iran’s Networks of Influence in the Middle East” and details Tehran’s use of proxy forces and networks throughout the region and the effects and benefits of its “minimum output” foreign policy strategy.

It is probably worth mentioning at this point that H.R. McMaster, Trump’s former national security adviser, was once an employee of the IISS. As was James Steinberg, a former US deputy secretary of state. Furthermore, at the end of 2016, the Guardian revealed that the organization had received £25 million ($32 million) from the Bahraini royal family (apparently almost half of its total income has come from Bahrain). Iran and Bahrain aren’t exactly close friends.

Notwithstanding the potential motives and bias of the IISS, the report definitely arrives at some interesting conclusions.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has tipped the balance of effective force in the Middle East in its favor,” the report explains.

But here’s the crazy part. Iran is, and has been for years, completely pummeled to the ground by US-imposed sanctions. Many commentators have for some time now been predicting an impending collapse of the Iranian economy.

On top of that, and likely because of this fact, Iran’s military budget has consistently been low (especially when compared to the United States or any of Washington’s major allied powers in the region). This flies completely in the face of allegations that Iran is a regional aggressor and the number-one state sponsor of terrorism (with what money?), but don’t let this get in the way of a good story.

According to the US Defense Department’s annual review of the country, “Iran’s military doctrine is defensive. It is designed to deter an attack, survive an initial strike, retaliate against an aggressor, and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities while avoiding any concessions that challenge its core interests.”

In other words, despite being under the constant threat of war, whether from the US, Israel or Saudi Arabia, Iran is not looking for a fight. It maintains a much lower military expenditure than Saudi Arabia, Israel, and especially Washington, yet as the recent IISS report notes, it has emerged from the rubble of a war-torn Middle East region as a victor.

As Foreign Affairs (the Council on Foreign Relations’ magazine) explained in a recent article:

“Iran now enters its second year under maximum pressure strikingly confident in its economic stability and regional position.”

It is likely with this newfound confidence that Iran is beginning to dictate some shots of its own to the international community, particularly when it comes to the future of uranium enrichment. Foreign Affairs also explains that Iran has essentially weathered the storm of US sanctions and come up trumps all on its lonesome. Many of the people predicted to come to Tehran’s aid during the United States’ maximum pressure campaign have been nowhere to be seen.

According to the IISS report, Iran has been winning the regional geopolitical struggle for influence by developing asymmetric warfare, such as swarm tactics, drones and cyber-attacks. It has relied upon the Quds arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to increase its operations throughout the Middle East, as well as to provide training, support and weapons to other actors allied to Tehran. The report also notes Iran’s relationship with Hezbollah, its role in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, as well as its role (supposedly) in Yemen.

As my Kung Fu instructor once told me, you serve yourself in a confrontation best by using minimum output for maximum gain. Winning the lottery doesn’t entail that you then go to a casino and put all your money down on your first gamble. Just because you have it, doesn’t mean you have to expend it.

In comparison, Saudi Arabia has expended time, effort, billions of dollars and the lives of many innocent civilians waging a genocidal war in Yemen – and it’s still losing. As Bloomberg once explained:

“Saudi Arabia has better weapons than its enemies in Yemen, no surprise in a war that pits one of the richest Arab countries against the poorest. And still the Saudis are struggling to impose their will.”

Not only is it losing a war, it’s also losing an economic battle. At the beginning of the conflict, Reuters estimated that the war would cost Saudi Arabia approximately $175 million per month. However, even by the end of the first year of the war, the kingdom had to increase its defense spending by $5.3 billion. This trend has continued right throughout the conflict. At the end of 2016, Saudi Arabia had to announce a projected increase of 6.7 percent in defense spending for 2017, bringing its total budget to around $50.8 billion.

If the IISS report’s findings are correct, there may be a deep lesson in here for the US and its allies. Perhaps it’s not that Iran has emerged victorious despite the fact it has not spent billions of dollars invading other nations at any one time; but because it hasn’t been.

At the end of the day, how much influence can you exert when you forcibly invade, occupy and kill those countries you seek to influence?

The neo-colonial corruption of Christian extremists and bankers in Lebanon (2/2)

Lebanese demonstrators gather during an anti-government protest in the northern town of Amioun near the port city of Tripoli on November 8, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Lebanese demonstrators gather during an anti-government protest in the northern town of Amioun near the port city of Tripoli on November 8, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

November 08, 2019

By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog (cross-posted with Press-TV)

(Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’. He can be reached on Facebook.)

The West and Israel actively thwart democracy all over the Muslim world by fostering myriad forms of corruption – why should we believe it is any different for Lebanon?

Part 1 in this series, Hiding the West’s ongoing neo-colonialism in Lebanon via blaming Iran, analysed the desperate and absurd propaganda that Iran and Hezbollah are the primary targets of Lebanon’s recent anti-corruption protests: Every single Lebanese person I’ve ever asked has said that France is the power behind the scenes.

Shia have long been forced to be a junior, impoverished partner in the dysfunctional Lebanese system. Despite being the democratic majority, they are its biggest victims – isn’t it obviously nonsensical to put the blame on them?

So who has been reaping benefits from the racist, anti-democratic Lebanese structure?

Were Western media to be believed there has also only ever been one armed militia in Lebanon: Hezbollah. I guess the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) was Hezbollah fighting Hezbollah? The main reason that the West’s train only runs one way – on tracks of anti-Iran and anti-Hezbollah propaganda – is because there is not enough paint in the world to whitewash the negative consequences of their decades of support for extreme-right militias, puppets and mafias in Lebanon.

The groups which the West dares not describe are akin to France’s National Front, but with heavy weapons. That’s not hyperbole: French National Front members fought in Lebanon during the Civil War.

The West loves to promote their fabricated “Sunni-Shia conflict”, but the bloodiest and bitterest feud in Lebanon has been between two Maronite Catholic Christian groups, now led by Michel Aoun and Samir Geagea. There are very few column inches devoted to these two groups, despite wreaking so much violence against their own Christian communities and fomenting so much disunity in Lebanon.

The corrupting influence of Israeli-backed Christian extremists and hereditary power

The problem is not their religion, of course, but political ideologies which are indisputably constructed around Western fascism.

They lead Lebanese corruption not because of their religion, of course, but because history proves that they have led the segment of Lebanese society which has been the most privileged by the meddling capitalist-imperialist forces of the 19th-21st centuries. This is not an article to denigrate Lebanese Christianity in the slightest, but to accurately recount Western imperialism and to debunk its current propaganda.

Both Aoun and Geagea spent decades serving the raw power of the Phalangist paramilitary movement, which was modelled and named after the Spanish fascist party. It existed to fight socialism and to enforce policies which segregated wealth and power based on religion. Like all fascist movements it claimed a racist scientific basis: it espouses that Maronite Christians are “Phoenicians” and thus genetically different Arabs.

Geagea is widely considered the biggest and most treacherous criminal in Lebanon – he was the only warlord who went to jail in the 1990s – and yet most outside of Lebanon do not know his name. He was a commander in the most vicious militia in Lebanon for decades because of this ruthless ideology, and also because they were armed, trained and fought with the Israeli Defense Forces. Fighting alongside Israelis against their fellow Lebanese – what can be more corrupt than this? In terms of death tolls these Israeli-backed Christian militias have been responsible for the worst crimes in wartime Lebanon, with rapes, torture and mass murder at places like Sabra, Chatilla and Karantina.

It would be wrong to take away from these facts that “Lebanese Christians are more brutal and corrupt than Lebanese Muslims” – the point is that these neo-fascist, Israeli-allied groups have proven themselves to be incompatible with modern democracy in Lebanon. It should be little wonder why the mainstream media doesn’t like to mention Geagea, who is now reportedly funded by the US and the Saudis.

These far-right Christian militias were opposed by the Lebanese army, which Christian powers always made purposely weak out of fear of the democratic Muslim majority. Furthermore, the Lebanese army has customarily been commanded by a Maronite, with Christians also historically comprising the officer posts.

Michel Aoun was a commander, but he was not an extreme sectarian like Geagea. Nor was Aoun interested in money – his nickname, “Napol-Aoun” reflects his lust for power and titles. However, Aoun’s son-in-law, Gebran Bassil, to whom Aoun controversially bequeathed the presidency of his party, is a reputed money shark who now reportedly manipulates the dottering Aoun.

The Hariris, the Aoun clan, Walid Jumblatt (whose family has perched atop a hereditary Druze hierarchy for centuries, creating their own corrupt patronage system) and Geagea (the former “monk-warrior” married into a hugely rich and powerful family) – it cannot be stressed enough that these familial, hereditary, inequality-rooted “clan powers” are an enormous component of the multi-generational corruption problems in Lebanon which protesters are loudly decrying.

Maronite control over the army has been diluted but not ended: a council of generals – six Christians and six Muslims – now reigns. It’s an improvement, and the commander cannot act unilaterally, but still reflects long-standing Christian domination and manipulation of the Lebanese state.

Maronite control over the army is obviously a neo-colonial concoction, but it’s also a recipe for total disunity and insecurity, something which Israel has been quite pleased about. Certainly, a representative, patriotic, real Lebanese army would be anti-Zionist, as the far-right Christian faction could only necessarily be a minority.

What Syria was able to do during their occupation was to end the power of these minority militias and provide military security. This weakening of the Franco-Israeli axis, along with the advent of Hezbollah, allowed Lebanon to finally stabilise itself in preparation for the next logical step it is now on the brink of for the first time ever: true, modern democracy.

However, Lebanon has to deal with the problems of sectarianism as well as the huge obstacle faced by all pro-democratic protesters worldwide today – bankers.

Geagea, the central bank and Western-allied corruption

After Aoun and Geagea returned from over a decade of exile and prison, respectively, in 2005 they instituted what we can fairly call “neo-Phalangism”: profiting from the corrupt patronage systems which they violently established during decades of Western-backed, Christian sectarianism.

As Geagea once said: Samir Geagea the fighter died in prison. Indeed – he is now a resented politician who seeks to preserve an unjust status quo. Geagea’s four ministers just resigned from the government, and yet it was a purely cosmetic move designed to distract from his own long-running corruption allegations — his party was rebuffed when they tried to take part in protests.

It shouldn’t be surprising that he immediately gave his support to the Lebanese Armed Forces – he is a pro-Maronite sectarian at heart, and his adversary Aoun has aged out. Geagea obviously supports calls for the army to “restore order” because re-militarising Lebanon would increase his power the most. It is not as if Geagea’s history shows that he wants true democracy for all Lebanese, and this fundamentally puts him at odds with Lebanon’s tolerant youth class and seemingly the majority of every other class.

Geagea’s other main ally shouldn’t be surprising, given his Western ties: the central bank.

Riad Salamé has headed Lebanon’s central bank for a stunning 26 years. The former Merrill Lynch employee and Maronite (giving Maronites long-running control over the army and the banks) has totally escaped criticism despite obviously atrocious economic results: On his watch Lebanon has become one of the most unequal societies in the world, pushed 25% of the country below the poverty line, and acquired one of the largest national debts in the world (mostly owned by Lebanese). Lebanese banks do their utmost to thwart Hezbollah, and to compound-grow the wealth of their 1%.

This lack of criticism for central bankers is entirely in keeping with every other Western-allied central banker: no matter what happens, they are never held accountable nor even criticised precisely because their neoliberal policies invariably succeed in increasing the wealth of the 1% and decreasing the wealth of the average person.

The role of the central banker in the West and their allies is – as modern Europe shows – more important than which party takes parliament or which politician wins the presidency. It is even more important in Lebanon where banking is the only robust economic sector. Foolishly, the Lebanese follows neoliberal dogma and makes their central bank independent from their government, unlike China, Iran and other modern nations.

On a personal level Salamé is the personification of the lavish-living fat cat, with billions in family wealth. He does not fear any criticism, much less legal reprisals – what he fears is that Washington and Tel Aviv’s orders to strangle Hezbollah will eventually provoke retaliation.

In 2017 Geagea made the Lebanese central bank’s true master perfectly clear, according to the Lebanese daily L’Orient-Le Jour: “

Lebanese banks conform totally to the directives of the Central Bank, which coordinates perfectly with the US Department of the Treasury.…

The crimes and failures of Geagea and Salamé are so rarely reported on during Western coverage of the corruption protests because they are the links between Washington, Israel, Paris and the incredibly corrupt 1% in Lebanon. The idea that Hezbollah could be the target of corruption protests more than that quartet beggars belief.

The West prefers to act as if Western-backed Lebanese sectarianism only extends to the legislative and executive branches, but for decades money and guns have remained under the control of the Christians so they could build corrupt patronage networks alongside the Western 1%. That the Hariris had to go to Saudi Arabia to make their money is significant. The Shia and Hezbollah have no money, of course, and no friends in Western central banks.

The problem, again, is not Christians or Christianity but the aristocratic (bourgeois) structures penned by Westerners, who also supported fascist and corrupt sectarian militias, and who are all-too willing to support such groups today if the status quo is threatened in an Israeli neighbour full of Palestinian refugees.

Lebanon’s Christian community must concede that it has been given anti-democratic, preferential treatment for a century, and that this has been a huge factor in creating endemic corruption and injustice. However, we must not forget the sky-high inequality of Lebanese society: many poor, not well-connected Christians are also longtime economic and social victims of this system which all Lebanese are saying they now want changed.

Pointing out the role of Christians in Lebanese corruption is not racism on my part because it is the accurate history of colonialism in Lebanon. Conversely, the total lack of accuracy in similar Western allegations towards Hezbollah and Iran is precisely why they are pathetic, racist, scapegoating distractions.

It should be clear that Lebanon cannot become a modern democracy when all their key institutions – and we must not forget to include the military and the central bank – remain so sectarian in nature.

What Lebanon needs is not more sectarianism or even technocratism – the “European solution”, which inherently rejects a role for public opinion in shaping public policy – but a meritocracy. Unfortunately, many are pushing Lebanon to continue following the Western model, which is based on ruthless power (capitalism), arrogance (imperialism), racism (sectarianism and Islamophobia) and hypocrisy (liberty for those with enough money to buy it).

US Pompeo: Ongoing Protests in Lebanon and Iraq Target Hezbollah and Iran

November 10, 2019

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

US US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blatntly interfered in Lebanon’s and Iraq’s domestic issues, labeling the ongoing protests in the two countries as against Hezbollah and Iran.

Pompeo called for helping the protesters in order to ‘defeat the regimes which curb freedom’.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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Iran discovers oil field containing 53bn barrels of crude: President Rouhani

Press TV

Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:38AM

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks in the central city of Yaz on November 10, 2019. (Photo by president.ir)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani speaks in the central city of Yaz on November 10, 2019. (Photo by president.ir)

President Hassan Rouhani says Iran has discovered a new oil field containing 53 billion barrels of crude in southwestern Khuzestan Province. 

Rouhani told a large crowd of people in the central city of Yazd on Sunday that the discovery was made despite US hostilities which have mainly targeted Iran’s oil sector.

“It is a large oil field that extends from Bostan to the vicinity of Omidiyeh spanning an area of 2,400 square kilometers with a depth of 80 meters,” he said.

“Today we are announcing to the US that we are a rich country and despite your enmity and tyrannical sanctions, the Iranian oil industry’s workers and engineers have succeeded to discover this vast oil field,” Rouhani added.

The US has unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against Tehran since unilaterally withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Rouhani said, “The first thing I would like to emphasize here is that we have withstood the pressure exerted by foreigners over the past year, during which our people had to go through difficult times.”

It’s been one year-and-a-half since President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal with Iran and embarked on a policy of “maximum pressure.”

Trump has been piling sanctions and heating up the rhetoric against Tehran, saying he aims to negotiate a better agreement with Iran and his policy will bring the Iranians to the table for that new deal.

However, the maximum pressure policy has not succeeded in bringing Iran to the negotiating table or curbing its regional activities across the Middle East as sought by Washington.

“In fact maximum pressure seems to have backfired and pushed Iran across the edge,” British daily The Independent wrote on Saturday.

According to the paper, “economically, Iran has been able to draw on some of its financial reserves to cushion off the impact of American sanctions.”

Politically, Iran has been able to utilize the theme of nationalism and historic grievances about big power bullying and fend off any unrest, it said.

On Sunday, President Rouhani called on Iranians not to let “America’s wishes rise from the larynx of a few people, even though they are very limited in number.”

He said the Iranian people’s “resilience and unity and their ceaseless efforts have brought us to the point where the United States, in my opinion, has become disappointed.”

From an international perspective, The Independent says, the world is more sympathetic to Iran’s position in the nuclear dispute than the United States, because Iran stayed strictly committed to the nuclear deal for one year, after the US left the deal and violated its terms.

“There is also not much admiration for Mr Trump on the international stage – except among right wing authoritarian and neo-fascist groups – and that also helps Iran,” it added.

The Trump administration’s policy on Iran, the paper said, has isolated the United States and diminished its leverage to enforce the JCPOA, if not open the door to its complete destruction.

“At the moment, President Trump and his administration are running out of options on Iran. There is not much left to sanction in Iran, and short of military conflict, there is not a lot more pressure that can be applied,” it added.

Meanwhile, statistics show Iran’s economic situation is improving and inflation has been contained, President Rouhani said.

Iran is a founding member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and sits on what were already the world’s fourth-biggest oil reserves and second-largest gas reserves.

The new find would add around 34 percent to Iran’s current proven reserves, estimated by the Oil & Gas Journal at 158 billion barrels of crude oil and representing almost 10 percent of the world’s crude reserves.

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Hiding the West’s ongoing neo-colonialism in Lebanon via blaming Iran (1/2)

 

Image result for ‫رفيق الحريري وشيراك‬‎

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

I have spoken with many in France’s huge expatriate Lebanese community – and from all groups – and not a single person has ever claimed that Iran was the power behind the scenes in Lebanon. Without fail I was told that this title belongs to France.

It shouldn’t be surprising: France completely devised modern Lebanon.

Many Lebanese don’t like to be reminded of this, but Lebanon is an artificial nation which France constructed entirely on the basis of racism: just as Zionists to the south wanted a “Jewish nation”, Lebanon was hacked off of Syria in 1920 to create a new Christian-majority nation.

That’s a “no longer relevant” tale of divide and conquer to some, even though a few centenarians may still remember the actual event.

France also devised Lebanon’s sectarianism-enshrining, woefully unmodern constitution, which has ensured divisive identity politics ever since.

Thus, just as Israel is a little part of the USA in the Middle East, Lebanon is the older, French version. The saying, “Beirut is the Paris of the Middle East” could not be more correct.

And yet, were an alien to visit and read Western mainstream media coverage of the recent protests in Lebanon it would not imagine that France ever had any role in Lebanon, much less a prominent role there today.

Image result for hariri corruption

Instead, Western headlines and reports all push the totally absurd claim that Iran has somehow become the neo-colonial master in Lebanon. Somehow – and via the poorest, most marginalised sectors of Lebanese society, no less – Iran has been able to usurp a century of French power.

Furthermore, despite the century of French involvement it is not France but Iran which is responsible for the corruption that has pushed so many Lebanese into the streets.

Apparently Iran took power and also became corrupt so very quickly that the Lebanese themselves didn’t even realise it! The idea is laughable.

Or perhaps: the Lebanese themselves don’t know what is actually going on in their own country – the West knows better.

These are the kind of ideas only a Westerner could believe.

The reason is simple: advertising works. Astute observers already realise that when it comes to the Middle East every problem – big or small – is blamed on Iran in the West.

However, what’s rarely examined is how this very real Iranophobia allows the West to obscure places where their neo-colonial machinations could not be more obvious, such as in Lebanon.

If it’s not Iran then it must be Hezbollah, but it can never be France

If the West cannot destroy Iran in 2019 they will happily settle for destroying Hezbollah.

There are two types of political parties: those which citizens fight to destroy (like the Yellow Vests and the three mainstream political parties in France), and those which citizens fight to preserve. There is no doubt which camp Hezbollah belongs to.

Hezbollah is the “Party of God” and the party of Lebanon’s poor, but many insist they are not a political party but a larger “resistance movement”. Amal is a political party allied with Hezbollah, and Western media coverage is doing their best to lump both in with the older, Western-aping, billionaire-backed parties which are the true cause of the recent corruption protests.

Hezbollah has always said they would never turn their guns on Lebanese, and even if the West doesn’t want anyone to know that the Lebanese certainly do. They know that without Hezbollah southern Lebanon would be called “Northern Israel” today. Or, nearly as badly, it would still be the State of Free Lebanon, that stillborn Israeli client from the early 1980s which no country besides Israel recognised. (That’s just more “no longer relevant” history to Western mainstream journalists of course.)

The West hates Hezbollah for the same reason Lebanon supports it – Hezbollah is what ensures Lebanon’s security from repeated, deadly, infrastructure-ruining Israeli invasions. After the 2006 war with Israel most Sunnis and an estimated 50% of Christians supported Hezbollah – that’s hardly sectarian hatred.

After saving the Lebanese from Israel on multiple occasions, the undeniable and enduring popular support of Hezbollah and Amal comes from their education, health and other social welfare organisations. Southern Lebanon is most notable not for being mostly Shia but for its extreme poverty, which was the result of decades of neglect from Paris-allied Beirut. Hezbollah and Amal helped reverse that, to the extreme embarrassment and consternation of France, Israel and their many sectarian militias, mafias and political puppets in Lebanon.

And yet despite being so late arriving to power, despite being anchored in the poorest regions, despite decades of neglect from Beirut, and despite illegal and inhuman US-led sanctions on Hezbollah… the West wants us to believe that Hezbollah and Amal are the ones responsible for the corruption at the heart of the current protests!

One has to wonder: if these two groups are so corrupt then where is the money, because it is certainly not in southern Lebanon?

The idea that Hassan Nasrallah, who can make a fair claim to be the most popular Muslim leader and hero in the world currently, is about to fall due to decades of corruption in Beirut is an absolute fantasy which can only be taken seriously in the West.

Again, what we have here is another situation where Western propaganda is aiming to manipulate legitimate unhappiness created by long-tenured Western client politicians in order to deny the West’s neo-colonial culpability. The legitimate demands in Yemen, Palestine and Iraq are all being portrayed as being caused by an Iranian neo-colonialism which does not exist, when the real culprit is the very real and very accurately-named Western neo-colonialism.

The West, of course, may speak of neoliberalism but never neo-colonialism.

The long-running source of corruption in Lebanon: Western-allied, neoliberal & neocolonial puppets

I would imagine that up to this point a Lebanese reader has been quite bored – I have only relayed things which he or she already knows quite well. But perhaps a Lebanese expatriate in Brazil or the United States – who cannot visit Lebanon so easily and who foolishly relies on the Western mainstream media – may not know some of these things.

What most Lebanese know quite intimately is that they no longer have a “real” economy. Their export capabilities are so woeful that scrap iron was their third top export in 2017, at just $179 million.

This is unsurprising, because Lebanon’s longtime function was to serve as France’s Middle East banking haven, with Switzerland-level secrecy laws dating to 1956. However, they have increasingly been replaced by Qatar and other Persian Gulf nations.

Banking is still a strong sector of their economy, but now mainly due to the huge number of remittances (only 4 million Lebanese live in Lebanon but there are an astonishing 8-12 million living as expatriates).

All this wouldn’t be a problem if Lebanon had a strong government to centrally plan and direct their limited economy, and also a government which cared for their 99% instead of their 1%, but Lebanon has neither of these things. The reason for this has nothing to do with Hezbollah, but everything to do with the real root of the current protests.

After the Taif Accords in 1989 and the fall of the USSR in 1991, Rafic Hariri, who became Lebanon’s richest man/prime minister thanks to earning billions via construction with the House of Saud, embarked on the massive “Horizon 2000” privatisation plan, which sold off the major industries and real estate of the Lebanese people. Hariri, in classic Western fashion, privatised the people’s wealth mainly to himself, but also to French companies.

Hariri’s “There Is No Alternative” (to neoliberalism) plan also included massive efforts to attract foreign investment, which ballooned the national debt – the funds were not spent on the poor, of course, but lined the pockets of the rich. France is always the one who organises the regular international debt conferences to restructure Lebanon’s debt, reaping compound interest payments all the while. Rafic Hariri was yet another Arab aristocrat who yoked his people to Western debtors for generations.

Hariri also banned protests and encouraged bribes and kickbacks to the army in order to continue his neoliberalisation drive totally unfettered.

For these reasons (i.e., he made them rich via ruthless self-interest) the assassinated Hariri is worshiped in the West as a true martyr to the neoliberal faith, whereas his corruption in Lebanon was infamous and resented. The most common phrase about him is, “He treated the state as if it was his home.”

His son Saad could have hardly done worse, but he certainly has tried: $16 million to a bikini model mistress, getting abducted by the Saudis and then resigning on their TV, etc. Saad Hariri has held so very many closed-door meetings with France’s president over the past decade that I truly just got tired of covering it for PressTV – I think he must have a private room at Élysée Palace?

What I have described is three decades of oligarchic economic corruption, mismanagement and economic far-right neglect, and here is the bill: At 158% Lebanon’s debt to GDP ratio is the 5th highest in the world, just behind Greece.

Few commentators go further, however: Lebanon’s external debt to GDP ratio is only around 45%, implying that there is a lot of money in Lebanon but held – in an inherently corrupt manner – by extremely few hands. And this is certainly the case: Lebanon’s richest 0.1% own the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 percent, making Lebanon one of the most unequal countries in the world.

Lebanon is thus an economically rudderless, economically unequal and economically corrupt nation, and it is quite obvious that none of this happened because of late-arriving, poor-loving Hezbollah or Iran.

It is absolutely preposterous to believe that Iran or Hezbollah is the source of Lebanon’s inequality and corruption, and thus that they could be the true target of protesters. The Western Mainstream Media – mostly privately owned, incredibly chauvinistic – is trying to sell an anti-Iran/anti-Hezbollah conspiracy even though the Lebanese themselves will not be fooled by it for one second.

The West, especially France, created, applauded and profited Lebanon’s economic corruption via their unstinting support for the corrupt and despised Hariris, and also Israel’s expatriate-inducing, infrastructure destroying invasions. France’s role in saddling Lebanon’s economy with two million of Syrian and Palestinian refugees is also glossed over by the Western mainstream media, of course.

I hope the true profiteers of Lebanon’s misery will finally be called to account. The Lebanese know who has robbed them, and it is not Hezbollah, Nasrallah or Iran.

Part 2 in this series will give more details on the corrupt Lebanese politicians of today, most of who are associated with violent militias armed and funded by France and/or Israel.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China and the upcoming Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism. He can be reached on Facebook.

 

Drone Shot Down by Iranian Army in Mahshahr Port is ‘Israeli’ – Report

 

By Staff, Agencies

Former Iranian diplomat Amir Mousavi uncovered that the drone that was shot downed by the Iranian Army’s “Mersad” Defense System in Mahshahr port is an ‘Israeli’ one and took off from Bahrain, according to preliminary data.

Speaking to Arabic-language al-Mayadeen TV on Friday evening, Mousavi noted that the information indicate that the drone sends data to the ‘Israeli’ Mossad, and maybe the goal from sending it is to check the Iranian readiness.

Mousavi’s comments came after the Iranian Army’s Air Force Commander confirmed the news of downing a hostile drone using local air defense system.

He further made clear that the Iranian Army shot down the drone in the first circle after its launching, which means that it didn’t reach the Iranian depth, noting that its goal could have been to spy on the phases of ongoing action in Bushehr facility.

Mousavi stressed that the home-developed system that succeeded in downing the drone is capable of hitting two targets at once, at an altitude of 18 kilometers.

The Iranian diplomat also emphasized that his country carried out with its allied several practical steps while the other axis is unable to do anything.

Mousavi stressed that Iran managed to discipline the United States and the United Kingdom, adding that it is on continuous war with the ‘Israeli’ entity.

Earlier on Friday, the “Mersad” Defense System of the Iranian Army dropped down a spy drone in Mahshahr Port in the country’s southeast, and the Iranian security forces gathered its ruins.

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