The brutal invasion of Iraq: Media – he made an unfortunate mistake

May 19, 2022

This speaks for itself and needs no comment.

Iraqi resistance group warns of attacks against US, Israeli targets in Kurdistan region

Harakat Hezbollah Nujaba says Kurdish leaders have turned Iraqi Kurdistan into a ‘legitimate target’ for hosting of US and Israeli occupying forces

May 17 2022

Shi’ite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) are seen in Zumar, Nineveh province, Iraq October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Ari Jalal – RC1E698CF530

ByNews Desk

Iraqi resistance group Harakat Hezbollah Nujaba (HHN) has threatened to target Israeli and US positions in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region (IKR).

In a statement published by the Sabereen News media outlet, the leader of the group, Akram al-Kaabi, said: “By hosting the US military bases and the positions of the Mossad, leaders of the Iraqi Kurdistan region have not only compromised the security of the northern Iraqi people but have also turned the area, infested with spies and occupying forces, into a legitimate target for Iraqi resistance groups.”

The statement was accompanied by a caricature showing the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Masoud Barzani, with two crows marked as Israel and the US sitting on his head, while he invites other evil crows to his sphere of influence.

It also depicted the commander of the Nujaba resistance movement ordering his forces to smash the nests of crows perched atop Barzani’s head.

The HHN, also known as the 12th Brigade, is a Shia resistance group affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as Hashd al-Shaabi.

Last December, Iraqi lawmaker Ali al-Fatlawi said resistance groups could legitimately force US-occupation troops to withdraw from the country.

He added that the withdrawal of foreign occupation troops from Iraq was “non-negotiable,” as in early 2020 parliament passed a resolution calling for the full withdrawal of the occupying forces in the wake of the US assassination of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and PMU deputy leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes.

In March of this year, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched a precision missile strike against a Mossad base in the city of Erbil.

Speaking exclusively to The Cradle, a senior Iranian security source revealed that three Mossad agents were killed during the strike.

In another exclusive, the official spokesman of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party’s Erbil office, Azad Jolla, confirmed that the Israeli spy agency Mossad has long been active in the capital of the IKR.

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US Troops Smuggle 70 Oil Tankers Out of Syria

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360°

(Photo credit: MEHR News)

Washington’s forces have smuggled hundreds of oil tankers out of Syria over the past few months

The Cradle

US occupation forces have reportedly continued looting Syrian oil from the northern Al-Jazeera region of Syria’s Hasakah governate, as a US-military convoy of around 70 oil tankers made their way towards Iraq through the illegal Al-Waleed border crossing on 14 May.

According to local sources in the Al-Yarubiyah countryside, the convoy was accompanied by an additional 15 trucks carrying military equipment bound for Iraq, as well as six armored vehicles.

This comes just one day after 46 US vehicles were reportedly transferred out of Syria through the same border crossing.

US troops and their proxy in northern Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), are in control of most of the oil fields in Hasakah and Deir Ezzor and have been regularly smuggling Syrian oil out of the country to sell it abroad.

Dozens of similar US convoys have been reported over the last year and a half. On 18 December 2021, nearly one hundred oil tankers were smuggled into northern Iraq through the same illegal crossing.

In August 2020, a US company, Delta Crescent Energy, signed a deal with the armed groups to develop oil wells and a refinery in areas under the US occupation.

Damascus reacted angrily to this move and accused the US of engaging in “state piracy.”

On 10 January, Syrian media reported that the US occupation and one of its various armed groups, set up a refinery to process stolen oil in the town of Rmelan in Hasakah governorate.

According to the report, the installed oil facility has a capacity to refine 3,000 barrels of oil per day.  The refinery was set up in order to increase the looting of Syrian oil by the US occupation.

The US occupation has smuggled tens of thousands of barrels of Syrian oil into Iraq.

Several US military convoys come under attack in Iraq

May 15 2022

Iraqi resistance groups have stepped up strikes against US military convoys in recent months

ByNews Desk

US soldiers speak to families in rural Anbar, western Iraq. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Susannah George, File)

US military convoys have come under attack by unknown militant groups in several Iraqi cities, according to a 15 May report by Mehr News Agency.

Citing local sources, the report states that three US military logistics convoys came under attack in the Iraqi cities of Al Diwaniyah and Samawah.

There have been no reports about the details of the damages, casualties, nor of any groups claiming responsibility for the attacks.

Another attack on a US military convoy, also in Al Diwaniyah, was reported by Sabereen News on 11 May.

Attacks on US forces in Iraq have seen an uptick in recent months after Baghdad’s failure to implement a law passed by parliament to expel foreign occupation forces from the country.

The vote came in the days following the assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Commander Qassem Soleimani and Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) deputy-chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in 2020.

Roadside bombs have also recently targeted US forces in Dhi Qar and Anbar.

Iraqi resistance groups have pledged to only lay down their arms after the full withdrawal of US forces in Iraq.

Recently, US troops stationed at Harir Air Base in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) opened fire on a number of houses and one car in Erbil’s Basrma district on 9 May.

The Governor of Basrma, Jangawar Azhgayi, told Rudaw that US troops were conducting drills when the accident happened. He also confirmed that no casualties were reported.

A video released by Telegram news channel Sabereen News on 28 April allegedly showed the transfer of ISIS fighters by two US Army CH-47 Chinook helicopters inside Iraq.

Over the years, US occupation forces in Iraq and Syria have faced several accusations of collaborating with the Takfiri armed group, despite claims to the contrary.

In August 2017, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported seeing US choppers transporting ISIS fighters in and out of the city of Deir Ezzor multiple times.

“The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned that a new airdrop was carried out in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor, by the forces of the International Coalition … reliable sources confirmed to the [SOHR] that the International Coalition transported members of the ‘Islamic State’ organization.”

الرئيس الأسد في طهران: الحلف القويّ يزداد قوّة

الجمعة 13 مايو 2022

المصدر: الميادين نت

جو غانم 

استراتيجيّات دمشق وطهران المشتركة، فقد تجاوزت بأشواط بعيدة هوامش العلاقات والمكاسب والمصالح السياسية.

الرئيس الأسد في طهران: الحلف القويّ يزداد قوّة

في الشكل السياسيّ العام، قد لا تُشكّل زيارة الرئيس السوريّ بشار الأسد إلى طهران، يوم الأحد 8 أيّار/مايو، مفاجأة لمتابعي الملفات السياسية في المنطقة والعلاقات بين البلدين الحليفين، حتى لو ابتعدت نحو 3 سنوات عن الزيارة السابقة، فهي تأتي ضمن الحراك السياسيّ البينيّ المتوقّع في أيّة لحظة، وذلك ربطاً بطبيعة العلاقات بين البلدين، وبتطورات المنطقة المرتبطة بكلّ تفاصيلها السياسية والعسكرية والاقتصادية بالعاصمتين اللتين شكّلتا محور الأحداث في المنطقة، ووجهة أهداف كلّ المشاريع الدولية للإقليم على مدى العقد الأخير على وجه الخصوص.

لكنْ، ومن جهة أخرى، إنّ هذه الزيارة بعيدة كلّ البعد، في الشكل والمضمون، عن كونها زيارة روتينيّة أو تواصلاً عاديّاً ودوريّاً بين قيادتي بلدين حليفين أو صديقين، فمعظم الحراك السياسيّ الإقليميّ والدوليّ الذي شهدته المنطقة في الأعوام الأخيرة، وما رافقه من تطورات اقتصادية مفتعلة أو قسريّة، وتحرّكات أو خطط وهجومات عسكريّة، كان يستهدف فكّ هذا الحلف المتين بين البلدين أو على الأقلّ إضعافه.

إن دمشق تحديداً تلقّت أكبر قدر من الاستهدافات والضغوطات والإغراءات التي تركّزت بمجملها على هذا البند – الإيرانيّ والمقاوم – الثابت في طريقة التعاطي معها منذ انتصار المقاومة الإسلامية في لبنان، واندحار العدو الصهيوني من الجنوب في العام 2000، ثم اجتياح العراق ودخول مشروع “الشرق الأوسط الجديد” حيز التنفيذ، حتى اللحظة.

تأتي زيارة الرئيس الأسد إلى طهران بعد أقلّ من شهرين على زيارته العاصمة الإماراتية أبو ظبيّ، والتي اعتبرها العديد من المحللين والمتابعين وقتذاك منعطفاً مفصليّاً في السياسة الدولية والإقليميّة حيال الشام، بعد 10 سنوات من محاولات تحطيم سوريا بكلّ السبل، وكسر إرادة دمشق الوطنيّة، وعزلها في أقصى زوايا الضعف السياسيّ والعسكريّ والاقتصادي، لترفع آخر راية بيضاء يمكنها نزعها من مزق خيمة المقاومة، بعد أنْ صبغ العالم الغربي وأدواته الداخلية والإقليمية خريطتها كلها بلون الدم الأحمر. 

لقد قيل الكثير عن زيارة الرئيس الأسد للإمارات، وما سيليها، وذهب البعض بعيداً في الحديث عن نجاح العمل الغربي – العربيّ بإحداث خرق على خطّ دمشق – طهران، متّكئين على تداعيات الحصار الخانق الذي تعانيه سوريا، وحاجتها إلى طوق نجاه يُبعد شبح الجوع المُخيّم على بيوت مواطنيها ومؤسساتها.

وهناك من تحدث عن تحقيق العرب المطبّعين مع العدو الإسرائيليّ نقاطاً جديدة تخدم مشروع العدو، على حساب مشروع المقاومة التي تقف دمشق وطهران على رأسه وفي قلبه.

وقد تحدّثنا حينذاك في “الميادين نت” عمّا أثبتته دمشق دائماً بأنّ كل تلك التحليلات والاستشرافات تثبت جهلاً بالسياسة السورية وثوابتها الوطنية والاستراتيجية، وتنمّ عن ضعف في قراءة حقيقة طبيعة العلاقات السورية – الإيرانيّة، واستسهال في دراسة النتائج والتحديثات الاستراتيجيّة المتتالية التي عمل ويعمل عليها محور المقاومة الممتد ميدانيّاً من طهران إلى أقصى الشمال والشرق السوريّيْن، مروراً باليمن والعراق ولبنان، وبمركزه فلسطين المحتلة.

لذلك كله، يأتي هذا التواصل السوري الإيرانيّ الجديد، وكل تصريح أو جملة وردت خلال هذه الزيارة على لسان الرئيس السوريّ بشار الأسد، والسيد علي خامنئي، والرئيس الإيراني إبراهيم رئيسي، لتعطي فرصة جديدة لمن يريد قراءة الحدث كما ينبغي، ولاستشراف مستقبل المنطقة انطلاقاً من إرادة “محور القدس” وخططه ومشاريعه لمنطقته وشعوبه، لا من زاوية المشاريع والخطط الأميركية والإسرائيلية للمنطقة، والتي تهاوت وتتهاوى تحت ضربات هجوم مضادّ على امتداد ساحات المقاومة في المنطقة وميادينها، وصولاً إلى ميدان الصراع العالميّ الأشمل حول العاصمة الأوكرانية كييف، وعلى مشارف الحدود مع حلف الناتو.

لقد أصرّ الرئيس الأسد بدايةً على تذكّر الشهيد قاسم سليماني، ودوره الكبير في النضال في مواجهة المشاريع الغربية في سوريا تحديداً، وفي المنطقة عموماً، ومحبته لسوريا ومحبة سوريا له، ودوره في ترتيب زيارة الرئيس الأسد إلى طهران قبل 3 سنواتٍ.

وحين يكون اسم اللواء قاسم سليماني، بكلّ ما يعنيه هذا الاسم لأهل المقاومة وأعدائها الذين استهدفوه شخصيّاً، فاتحة الحديث بين قادة البلدين، ويكون خلَفه اللواء إسماعيل قاآني الذي رتّب هذه الزيارة وحضر كل تفاصيلها، فهذا يعني أننا لسنا أمام لقاء روتينيّ وعاديّ لقادة سياسيين عاديين، بل أمام لقاء بين قادة ميدانيين يقاتلون كتفاً إلى كتف لبلوغ غايات استراتيجية كبيرة تتعدّى كلّ ما هو عاديّ وروتينيّ في العلاقات بين الدول.

نحن هنا، وبناءً على كلّ كلمة قيلت في هذه القمّة أو خبرٍ رشح عن كواليسها أمام لقاء بين قادة محور مقاومٍ يتحدّثون لغة واحدة، ويستهلّون كلامهم ويختمونه بالحديث عن المقاومة وحاضرها وجدواها ومستقبلها وطرق تصعيدها وحصد نتائجها، ويبحثون في السياسة من قلب هذا السياق تحديداً، وتبدو وحدة الحال بينهم أمتن وأقوى من أيّ وقت مضى، منطلقين من واقعٍ عمليّ واستراتيجيّ اشتغلوا عليه معاً لسنوات طويلة، وقدّموا فيه الكثير من الأثمان الباهظة والتضحيات النفيسة، ويرون أنّ نتائجه حتى اللحظة باهرة وعظيمة، وتستدعي ظروفه الراهنة لقاءً مثل هذا للتباحث والتشاور ووضع الخطط الاستراتيجية القادمة. 

إنّ فلسطين تشتعل تحت أقدام المحتلّ الذي يتخبّط تحت وقع عمليّات فدائيّة يعجز عن التعامل معها، كما يعجز عن القيام بردّ عسكريّ شامل ومدمّر كعادته في أزمان خلت على مدن فلسطين وقراها، حيث تهدّد قوى المقاومة الفلسطينية العدو بالويل والثبور إذا ما أقدم على ذلك أو على اغتيال أيّ قائد من قادة المقاومة، والعدو يعرف أنّ المقاومة جدّية وقادرة، وهي على قدر التهديدات هذه المرّة، ويعرف أنّ فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية التي تُشكّل عصب هذا المحور، أذابت الكثير من الفروقات والتناقضات والخلافات لمصلحة الهدف الأسمى، كما يعلم أنّ هذا العمل استلزم جهد جميع أطراف محور المقاومة لبلوغه، وعلى رأسهم طهران ودمشق. كما أنّ الواقع الميدانيّ في سوريا واليمن والعراق، والسياسيّ – الانتخابيّ – في لبنان، يُظهر تقدّماً كبيراً وراسخاً لقوى محور المقاومة، مقابل عجز واضح للمحور المعادي وأدواته المحليّة.

وانطلاقاً من هذا كلّه، فإنّ حديث قادة المقاومة في سوريا وإيران خلال هذه الزيارة عن نظام عالميّ جديد هو حديث يصدر عمّن ساهم وشارك في صنع هذا النظام على مستوى الإقليم على الأقلّ، الأمر الذي ساعد كثيراً القوى الدولية الحليفة والصديقة، وعلى رأسها روسيا والصين، في السير باتّجاه المواجهة مع النظام العالمي الذي تقوده الولايات المتحدة، والسعي إلى إزاحته وإرساء نظام جديد.

لقد ساهمت دمشق وطهران وقوى محور المقاومة في المنطقة بشكل أساسيّ ومباشر وفاعل في كسر أخطر المشاريع الغربية والإسرائيلية لمنطقتنا في السنوات العشر الأخيرة وإفشالها، وها هو الرئيس السوريّ بشار الأسد يقف إلى جانب إخوة السلاح في طهران – بعد حديث عن لقاء جمعه بالسيد حسن نصر الله قبل الزيارة إلى طهران – ليعلنوا معاً تمتين هذا الحلف الاستراتيجي، ويبحثوا في سبل ترسيخه وتقدّمه على جميع المستويات، وخصوصاً الاقتصاديّة منها، وذلك بعد أنْ بلغ المستوى العسكريّ والأمني درجة كبيرة من الوضوح في التقدّم والأفضليّة.

 ولعلّ تدشين خطّ ائتمان إيراني جديد باتّجاه سوريا، بالتزامن مع الزيارة، لإمداد دمشق بموارد الطاقة اللازمة للفترة القادمة، أفضل مؤشّر على طريقة العمل الواثق الذي تنتهجه قيادة البلدين. 

من هنا تحديداً، يجب أن يعيد المهتمّون في الإقليم والعالم قراءة العلاقات الثنائية بين سوريا وإيران، قبل أيّ قراءة في تفاصيل النشاطات السياسية التي تضطرب وتعتمل في المنطقة، والتي تشتغل دمشق وطهران معاً على هوامشها المتاحة لتحقيق إنجازات سياسية واقتصاديّة مدروسة تماماً، ولا تخرج عن المصلحة العامة لاستراتيجية المحور، فيما قد تحقّق بعض الهدوء وربط النزاعات على عدة جبهات وميادين، قد يبدو أنّ المحور الآخر يستفيد منها مرحليّاً أو يحدّ من خسائره على الأقلّ. 

وحين يركّز قادة سوريا وإيران في أحاديثهم خلال هذه الزيارة على شعوب المنطقة العربية وموقفها من القضية الفلسطينية، والهوّة الساحقة بينها وبين قادتها وحكوماتها، وهو ما تجلّى في الاحتفال بيوم القدس العالميّ، فإنّ الرسالة تعني تماماً وتحديداً الثقة بقدرة أهل المقاومة وشعبها في المنطقة على عزل كيان الاحتلال الإسرائيليّ، ورهان قادة محور المقاومة الثابت على فشل كلّ محاولات التطبيع العربية مع هذا الكيان المؤقت، أو دمجه في المنطقة ككيان طبيعي ينتمي إلى جسم الإقليم. 

هذا الأمر تحديداً يُظهر موقف دمشق وطهران الدائم من التطبيع، ويضع حدّاً للتأويلات الجديدة والضعيفة التي برزت بعد زيارة الرئيس الأسد إلى الإمارات العربية المتحدة في آذار/مارس الماضي، وخصوصاً أنّ الرئيس الأسد أكّد في تصريح له خلال زيارته طهران أنّ مجريات الأحداث في المنطقة “أثبتت مجدّداً صواب الرؤى والنهج الذي سارت عليه سوريا وإيران منذ سنوات”، وخصوصاً في مواجهة الإرهاب والمشاريع الغربية للمنطقة. وغنيّ عن القول إنّ دمشق وطهران تصنّفان كيان الاحتلال قوّة إرهابية عالميّة مدمّرة، كما تصنّفان الجماعات الإرهابية المتطرفة أدوات لهذا الكيان وللغرب الراعي له.

من المفترض أن يكون كل تعويل خارجيّ أو إقليميّ على كسر حلف طهران – دمشق أو إضعافه قد سقط في هذه الزيارة، كذلك المراهنات على تداعيات الحصار الغربي لسوريا، والحديث عن محاولات عربيّة لإحداث خرقٍ من خلال الانفتاح على دمشق وتعويضها اقتصاديّاً وسياسيّاً، فالاستراتيجية الوطنية السورية تعمل على مسار آخر تماماً، بعيد كلّ البعد عن المقايضات السياسية والاقتصادية، وهي ترى أنّ أيّ انفتاح عربيّ أو دوليّ عليها فرضه صمودها وقتالها المرير على مدى 10 سنوات، وإلى جانبها الحليف والشريك الإيرانيّ، وباقي الحلفاء في محور المقاومة والعالم.

وقد كان تمتين الحلف الاستراتيجيّ بين البلدين وجميع قوى محور المقاومة الموضوعَ الرئيسيّ في هذا اللقاء، وجرى البحث في كلّ السبل الواجب اتّخاذها فوراً لتعزيز هذا الحلف، ولسدّ كلّ نقص اقتصاديّ على جبهاته الداخلية، فقد كان المسؤولون السوريون والإيرانيون يوقّعون اتفاقيات وتفاهمات اقتصادية جديدة، حين كان الرئيس الأسد يقول للمرشد الإيراني السيد علي خامئني والرئيس إبراهيم رئيسي: “إنّ ما يمنع الكيان الصهيونيّ من السيطرة على المنطقة هو العلاقات الاستراتيجية السورية الإيرانية”، وهو السياق الذي اتّبعه جميع المسؤولين في البلدين في تصريحاتهم أثناء الزيارة وبعدها.

ولعلّ قول وزير الخارجية الإيرانيّ السيد أمير عبد اللهيان بعد اللقاء إنّ “زيارة الرئيس الأسد فتحت مرحلة استراتيجيّة جديدة بين البلدين”، وحديثه عن “العزم الإيراني السوريّ على الرقيّ بالعلاقات الثنائية وصولاً إلى أفضل مستوى لائق”، يدلان بشكل واضح على النحو الذي ستجري فيه الأمور على هذا الصعيد في المرحلة القادمة. 

بعد زيارة الرئيس الأسد هذه لإيران، هناك زيارة لأمير قطر على رأس وفد رفيع إلى طهران، وذلك بعد وقت قصير من إعطاء واشنطن أمير قطر صفة “الحليف الاستراتيجيّ”، وفي هذا مؤشّر على أنّ طهران ودمشق استطاعتا وأد جميع الرهانات التي جرى العمل عليها طوال السنوات العشر الماضية، والتي كانت تهدف إلى إسقاطهما وهزيمتهما أو عزلهما تماماً على الأقلّ.

 ومن الواضح أنّ انتصارهما وتقدّم حليفيهما الروسيّ والصينيّ على الجبهات العسكرية والاقتصادية على مستوى العالم، يدفعان دول المنطقة إلى السّعي نحو تعزيز العلاقات معهما، باعتبارهما قوّتين لا يمكن تجاوزهما بعد الآن. 

أمّا استراتيجيّات دمشق وطهران المشتركة، فقد تجاوزت بأشواط بعيدة هوامش العلاقات والمكاسب والمصالح السياسية العادية بين الدول، وبلغت مرحلة العمل كقوّة واحدة مع الشركاء في قوى المقاومة في المنطقة، وها هي تلك الاستراتيجية تعمل بأقصى قوتها على أرض فلسطين المحتلة الآن، إذ تُكمل المقاومة الفلسطينية مهمّة رسم النظام الإقليميّ الجديد.

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

Iraqi Parliament Completes First Reading of a Law That Prohibits Normalization with the ‘Israeli’ Entity

May 12, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

The Iraqi parliament on Wednesday set a date for the first reading of a proposed law “prohibiting normalization and establishing relations with the Zionist entity.”

Well-informed parliamentary sources in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, revealed to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the committee tasked with preparing a draft law on “criminalizing normalization with the Zionist entity” had finished writing the law.

An official in the legal department of the Iraqi parliament told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that “the law was completed by a legal committee affiliated with the Sadrist bloc in the Parliament, and it includes 10 main articles.” He explained that “the head of the Sadrist bloc in the House of Representatives, Hassan Al-Adhari, is scheduled to hand the law over to the parliament’s presidency, to start the procedures for the first and second readings, before putting it to a vote for approval, after Parliament’s decision to extend the current legislative term for another month.”

The official pointed out that “the most important paragraphs of the law about the criminalization of any kind of political, security, economic, artistic, cultural, sports and scientific cooperation or dealings, and under any activity or title whatsoever, with the Zionist entity.” He added that the law affirms “that Iraq is in a state of war with the occupying power, and all that is issued by individuals, institutions, groups, movements, or parties, that violates this concept, in a way that supports the existence of the occupation, materially or morally, falls within the crimes of high treason that There are sentences between death and life imprisonment, according to the amended Penal Code No. 111 of 1969.

And he indicated that the law also deals with “the prohibition of dealing with companies and institutions that deal with, support or are associated with this entity,” noting that the law “contains important paragraphs about the penalties imposed in case of violation, and there is political consensus to pass it easily.”

US ‘coercive diplomacy’ with Saudi Arabia

While a carrot may advance US interests infinitely better than a stick at this sensitive juncture in US-Saudi relations, all indications are that Biden will resort to the stick.

May 07 2022

The US cannot budge oil production and prices with this geopolitical line-up blocking its path. So Washington may strike at the weakest link – in Riyadh. Photo Credit: The Cradle

By MK Bhadrakumar

Some three weeks after the reported meeting of CIA chief William Burns with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), the OPEC+ ministerial held a videoconference on Thursday.

The OPEC+ meeting drew satisfaction that “continuing oil market fundamentals and the consensus on the outlook pointed to a balanced market.” The press release issued in Vienna says the ministerial “further noted the continuing effects of geopolitical factors and issues related to the ongoing pandemic” and decided that OPEC+ should stick to the monthly production adjustment mechanism agreed in July last year “to adjust upward the monthly overall production by 0.432 million barrels/day for the month of June 2022.”

Former Wall Street Journal publisher Karen Elliott House says Burns came to Saudi Arabia for a “mating dance” with MbS — namely, the latter must cooperate on a new oil-for-security strategy to “increase production to save European nations from energy shortages.”

Burns’ visit to the kingdom took place just ahead of the fifth round of Saudi-Iranian normalization talks in Baghdad between the Saudi intelligence chief and the deputy head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi who acted as mediator and attended the talks, told state media last week, “Our brothers in Saudi Arabia and Iran approach the dialogue with a big responsibility as demanded by the current regional situation. We are convinced that reconciliation is near.”

In addition, Iranian outlet Nournews, affiliated with the country’s Supreme National Security Council, reported on 24 April that the fifth round of talks on a possible détente was “constructive,” that the negotiators managed “to draw a clearer picture” of how to resume bilateral relations, and that “given the constructive bilateral dialogue so far, there is a possibility of a meeting between the Iranian and Saudi top diplomats in the near future.”

Burns’ mission couldn’t have been indifferent toward the Saudi reconciliation track with Tehran. With the outcome of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks in Vienna still uncertain, Iran’s close ties with Russia and China remains a major worry for Washington. And with Tehran’s stubborn refusal to trim its regional policies to suit US regional strategies, Washington has fallen back on its usual default option to resuscitate an anti-Iran front of its regional allies. The US hopes that Saudi Arabia will come on board the Abraham Accords.

Soaring energy prices

Meanwhile, the issue of energy pricing has returned to centre stage. Indeed, high oil prices mean increased income for Russia. Russia’s sales of oil and natural gas far exceeded initial forecasts for 2021 as a result of skyrocketing prices, accounting for 36 percent of the country’s total budget. The revenues exceeded initial plans by 51.3 percent, totaling a whopping $119 billion. The Biden administration’s best-laid plans to cripple the Russian economy are unravelling. Equally, high energy prices is also a domestic issue for Biden who faces daunting elections this Autumn. Above all, unless Europe finds other oil sources, it will continue buying Russian oil.

The Saudi crown price, however, has a different agenda. After ascending to power, he is likely to rule the kingdom for many decades — half a century if he lives to 86, his father’s age. And MbS has been remarkably successful in creating his own Saudi ‘power base’ without US help. His lifestyle changes have been a smashing hit with Saudis 35 and under — 70 percent of the kingdom’s citizens — and his ambition to transform Saudi Arabia into a modern technological leader ignites the imagination of the youth.

Clearly, his refusal to punish Russia and his $2 billion ‘gesture’ toward a new, untested investment fund started by former US president Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, speak for themselves. MbS has his own reasons for these actions, starting with Biden’s contemptuous reference to Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” state and his refusal to deal with the crown prince in person.

MbS hit back recently by declining to take a call from Joe Biden. Besides the petty stuff, the US restrictions on arms sales to the kingdom; insufficient response assistance to attacks on Saudi Arabia by Yemeni forces; publication of a report into the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi — all these are in play here.

Even if the administration is able to obtain congressional approval for new security guarantees for Saudi Arabia (which is rather problematic), MbS might very well refuse to be swayed, since at the end of the day, high oil prices boost the ailing Saudi budget too.

The paradox is, both Saudi Arabia and Russia are stakeholders in OPEC+ as is evident from the explicit warning to the EU by OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo last month that it would be impossible to replace more than 7 million barrels per day of Russian oil and other liquids exports potentially lost due to current or future sanctions or voluntary actions.

Given the torrential geopolitical and economic crosscurrents at play here, what possibly unnerves the Biden Administration most is talk of an upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia by Chinese President Xi Jinping. There are persisting recent reports that Riyadh and Beijing are in discussions to price some of the kingdom’s oil sales in yuan rather than dollars, which would indeed mark a profound shift for global oil markets, and help advance China’s efforts to convince more countries and international investors to transact in its currency.

The Saudi explanation for the shift to the yuan is that the kingdom could use part of new currency revenues to pay Chinese contractors involved in domestic mega projects within Saudi Arabia, which would reduce the risks associated with the capital controls Beijing imposes on its currency. But, for Washington, that means certain sensitive Saudi-China transactions in yuan do not appear in the rearview mirror of the western-controlled SWIFT messaging infrastructure, making transaction monitoring unviable.

There are persistent US reports that with Chinese support, Saudi Arabia may be constructing a new uranium processing facility near Al Ula to enhance its pursuit of nuclear technology. Riyadh’s generous $8 billion in financial support for Pakistan, unveiled this week, will almost certainly raise hiccups in Washington.

Saudi Arabia is a central pillar of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and ranks in the top three countries globally for Chinese construction projects, according to the China Global Investment Tracker, run by the American Enterprise Institute. Suffice to say, the CIA chief’s call could not have been for a friendly chat with the Saudi crown prince.

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

Mind tricks: Why resistance to Israel and imperialism are called ‘Shia causes’

April 20 2022

The Arab and Muslim street remains firmly opposed to western imperialism and Israel. So their Arab Sunni rulers began calling all resistance ‘Shia.’

By Omar Ahmed

Would Sunni Arab monarchs be able to continue conspiring with the west and Israel without labelling those who resist collaboration as ‘Shia?’Photo Credit: The Cradle

The past several decades have seen the political ascendency of Shia Muslims in West Asian geopolitics. While initially ignited by Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979, it was the aftermath of the illegal US invasion of Iraq in 2003 which accelerated this political shift by paving the way for Iraq’s Shia majority to govern.

A year after US troops occupied Iraq and overthrew its Sunni president Saddam Hussein, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, fearing a growing influence of Iran among Iraq’s Shia majority and their regional coreligionists, coined the phrase “Shia Crescent.” This so-called ideological belt, it is hypothesized, runs from Tehran through several Arab capitals, including Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut, and later Sanaa.

The idea has been criticized as it treats the Shia as a monolith and greatly exaggerates the extent of control or influence Iran exerts over the region.

Tehran’s efforts to forge ties with friendly governments, powerful political parties, and militia forces are arguably based on pragmatism and self-interest rather than sectarian ideology. Among the state and non-state actors that provide Iran with its regional strategic depth – and therefore, influence – are Sunnis, Druze, Christians, Alawis, Zaidis, and other non-Shia populations. This alliance is more commonly – and accurately – known as the Axis of Resistance and its fundamental tenet is opposition to both western imperialism and the Zionist project, and a desire for self-determination.

Axis of Resistance

With Tehran at its nexus, this network consists of both state and non-state actors. Notable Shia factions include Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and Afghan and Pakistani brigades.

Sunni Palestinian resistance movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad are also considered to be a part of the axis, and an armed affiliate of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Resistance Brigades (also known as Saraya), is composed of Sunnis, Maronite Christians and Druze. At the state level are the mostly Zaidi, Ansarallah-led, de facto government of Yemen and the Alawite-dominated government of Sunni-majority Syria.

While not part of the axis per se, Sunni-majority Algeria has also consistently opposed Zionism and could strengthen its ties with Iran, especially in light of growing tensions with neighboring Morocco whose government has recently aligned with Israel.

Traditional western-aligned Sunni Arab states such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have all expressed their own concerns about this Shia-majority, ‘Iran-led’ axis, and along with Israel have opposed the Resistance Axis. It is due to these mutual interests that there have been several proposals for a “Sunni-Jewish alliance.”

Arab normalization with Israel

This new public alliance tangibly materialized in 2020 with the signing of the Abraham Accords and the normalization of ties between Israel and the UAE, Sudan, Morocco and Bahrain (the latter is a Shia majority nation ruled by a Sunni royal family). Certainly, it ended years of speculation that there were indirect, covert ties between Tel Aviv and several Arab states.

However, it is important to differentiate between the policies of these governments and the popular sentiments among their citizens. According to an opinion poll carried out between 2019-2020 by the Qatar-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS), the majority of the Arab world (88 percent) opposes any normalization with Israel. This includes the Persian Gulf: “Refusal to recognize Israel is proportionally the highest in the Gulf region,” the report found.

Nevertheless, last month’s Negev Summit ushered in an unprecedented level of security cooperation between Israel and Arab states and may be a precursor to an ‘Arab-Israeli NATO‘ equivalent intent on confronting the Axis of Resistance, especially over heightened fears of a nuclear-powered Iran, should efforts in Vienna to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) fail.

The Palestinian issue

After the humiliating and resounding failures of pan-Arab nationalism to liberate occupied Palestine following the Six Day War in 1967, Egypt lost its position as the leader of the Arab world. This was cemented after Egypt made peace with Israel under Anwar Sadat in 1979, the same year as Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

As one of, if not the most pressing and long-standing Arab and Muslim issues of our time, the Palestinian cause was essentially abandoned by the Sunni Arab leadership, only to be championed by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its regional allies. Symbolically, the first statesman to visit revolutionary Iran was Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat who was given keys to what was once the Israeli diplomatic mission-turned Palestinian embassy, as it remains to this day. “We shall liberate the land of Palestine under the leadership of Imam Khomeini,” Arafat declared during his historic visit.

Significantly, during the 1990s, Iran’s support to Palestinians was not merely diplomatic but military too, as Iran has consistently been the main patron of Palestinian armed resistance factions Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), something acknowledged by the movements themselves.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, itself established with the help of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has also been instrumental in assisting Palestinian factions in training and developing weapons capabilities. Early last year, IRGC Aerospace Force commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh stated, “All the missiles you might see in Gaza and Lebanon were created with Iran’s support.”

‘Iranian-backed’ doesn’t make these ‘Shia causes’

Well before the Abraham Accords, there were signs that a regional narrative was being developed to aid Arab autocrats in breaking with the popular causes of the Arab/Muslim world, namely resistance to Zionism and western imperialism.

Two years after King Abdullah’s ‘Shia crescent’ narrative began to be employed, the 2006 Lebanon-Israel war broke out. Although a historic ‘Arab nation’ victory against Israel was achieved that year, in a new public turn, the Arab League and the Saudis in particular were instead scathing in their criticism of Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah for what they said was an unprovoked and irresponsible conflict.

We have now reached an epoch, whereby vocal or material support for a plethora of resistance efforts in West Asia is seen as being ‘Shia’ or even ‘Persian’ rather than Arab or Muslim causes. These include the central issue of Palestine, as after all at the crux of it – that is to say armed struggle – it is only the Resistance Axis that now provides support where it materially matters.

The Palestinian cause has not always been a ‘Shia’ cause, argues Hussain Abdul-Hussain of the pro-Israel Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, who alludes to the anti-Palestinian sentiments in South Lebanon before the rise of Hezbollah. He claims – a criticism parroted by the pro-west Sunni monarchs – that Iran “found in Palestine a good tool to undermine the sovereignty of Arab Sunni governments” and to win over support from “Arab Sunni masses.” This assessment disregards the fact that even before the revolution, under the rule of Iran’s Shah, Iran’s religious and secular opponents were popularly pro-Palestine and opposed the Shah’s support of Israel.

Who else will oppose Zionism and western imperialism?

In Iraq, there is a lingering threat from pockets of ISIS remnants and legitimate grievances about continuing US military presence, which is likely to continue for years to come. Both of these threats to Iraqi sovereignty have been targeted by “Iranian-backed Shia militia,” many who are an integral part of Iraq’s armed forces in the form of the PMUs. Ironically, these anti-ISIS forces were in fact initiated by a religious ruling from within Iraq, independent of Iran’s diktats.

The world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN, is in Yemen which has been bombed and besieged almost relentlessly for seven years by a US/UK-backed and armed, Saudi-led coalition. Yemen’s resistance to this foreign aggression is led by the Ansarallah movement and its allied Yemeni armed forces. Here too, the Arab Sunni monarchs’ narrative has played a nefarious role, labelling Yemen’s resistance as ‘Shia,’ where in fact they are mainly Zaidis, who are in many ways closer to Hanafi Sunnis and who pray in Sunni mosques. As Iran and its regional axis support anti-imperialism, they are naturally more aligned to the Yemeni resistance, who are almost always now labelled as ‘Iran-backed’ or ‘Shia’ for their resistance against decades of exploitation and subjugation by Saudi Arabia.

For the divisive case of Syria, supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state against the aggressions of hostile states has also been cast as a ‘Shia’ cause, despite the fact that Syria’s Shia community – not to be confused with the Alawites – form a very small minority in the majority-Sunni country. Yet when contextualized as an important actor in the Axis of Resistance, in particular as a transit point between Iran and Lebanon and occupied Palestine, the sectarian designation becomes apparent.

The common denominator for these conflicts is that there is an opposing force to the Axis of Normalization and its US backer. It has become imperative, especially for the burgeoning Sunni Arab-Israeli alliance, for these forces to be deliberately cast as ‘Iranian-supported Shia proxies’ in order to dampen their own populations’ support for popular resistance.

Arab and Muslim populations everywhere would otherwise likely support operations to purge western military interventionism and Israel’s aggressions from West Asia. But say ‘Iran,’ ‘Persia’ or ‘Shia’ and the Arab Sunni elite manage to confuse and quash mass popular resentment of their own malign behaviors.

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

Nasrallah: The war in Ukraine unmasked the racism and hypocrisy of the West

April 19, 2022

Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on March 8, 2022, on the occasion of the Day of the Wounded.Source: video.moqawama.org

Translation: resistancenews.com

[…] O my brothers and sisters, the events happening around us in terms must strengthen our awareness, our lucidity and our understanding of things, the conclusions we draw from them for the current equations, as well as the lessons and teachings we learn from them. This brings me to the current events that are currently occupying all minds. I start with the events between Russia and Ukraine to state that these are very important events in terms of lessons and learning. As last time, I will just mention some brief points before I come to the internal Lebanese situation.

The first point is that the U.S. representative to the Security Council said in addressing Russia, “Any attack on civilians is considered a war crime, and we are recording all events.” In the sense that the US is monitoring everything closely, and will then try Russia for its (alleged) war crimes. That’s what she said to Russia. But what does she say about the massacres against civilians perpetrated by the US in all its wars? No war waged by the US happened without attacks on civilians, massacres, civilians killed, atrocities against civilians and civilian infrastructure, etc. From the nuclear bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whose environmental and health effects are still felt today, with traces and effects that persist to this day, to Iraq, the siege of Iraq, the starvation of Iraq and the death of tens of thousands of Iraqi children due to the siege, then the invasion (of Iraq in 2003), etc. According to the Americans themselves, they have killed tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, and tens of thousands of Afghan civilians. How many times have American planes or drones bombed Afghan wedding ceremonies, turning them into funerals, and then claiming that they were training camps, despite the presence of women, children and old people? But they claimed that they were training camps. What about the Zionist massacres in Palestine for more than 70 years, and the massacres Israel regularly perpetrates? What about the Israeli-Zionist war crimes in Palestine? What about the siege of Gaza? Today, the whole world is shedding tears because this or that city in Ukraine has been under siege for 5, 6 or 7 days. But Gaza has been under siege for many years, for 15 years! But the world remains silent.

What about the massacres of the Saudi-American aggression in Yemen, and the tens of thousands of civilian martyrs in Yemen, children, women, men, old and young? And the entire civilian infrastructure is destroyed in Yemen. What about the siege imposed on Yemen for the past 7 years? And currently, the siege is increasing on oil derivatives (fuels), and we saw yesterday the angry demonstrations in Yemeni cities. But the whole world remains silent about this. Why is this so? Simply, and don’t mind me saying it so bluntly, it’s because all these people are not White, they are not blond and they are not blue-eyed – even if in reality there are some blond and blue-eyed white people among them, but it doesn’t matter. These people do not belong to the world of the White man. I’ll go even further than that: for the United States, even those who belong to the White man’s world are only means, tools, instruments, and have no human value.

This is the case with Ukraine [the US has no hesitation in sacrificing the Ukrainian and European population in general to advance its interests]. Thus, based on the logic of the representative of the United States, it would have been necessary today, before threatening Russia or other countries with trials, to establish dozens and hundreds of sessions to judge the Americans, the British and the Western and European armies for their crimes in Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Africa, in all corners of the world, in India, Pakistan… It is these files that we must start by examining if we want to base ourselves on these principles.

This hypocrisy and double standard is confirmed day after day. Last Friday, in Peshawar, Pakistan, during Friday prayers, a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing dozens of people, including the Imam of the mosque, and injuring dozens more. And the whole world remained silent. This is natural. Because these takfiris suicide bombers are Made in CIA, Made in America. They serve the American project. The whole world must remain silent because it is the US and its tools in the region. Day after day, it is confirmed that the American “values” do not respect humanistic principles, morals, international law, fundamental rights, etc. Nothing matters to them but their political and economic interests and their hegemony. When their political interests ask them to condemn, they condemn. When their political interests ask them to support, they support. On the subject of the massacres perpetrated by Israel, the United States is not content with not condemning, they prevent the Security Council from condemning them! They prevent the whole world from condemning them! They defend the (Israeli) murderers and butchers who shed (Palestinian) blood! This is the truth of the United States, which we have known (for a long time), but we take advantage of the current events to remind it, so that those who have not yet opened their eyes do so, and that those who already know gain in awareness and lucidity, and in clarity of vision.

Also, and this is my second point, every day there is more evidence in the world that trusting the United States is an act of imbecility. I say this to get to Lebanon next. Trusting the United States is stupid and foolish. It is an act of ignorance that endangers the global Muslim community, the nation and the interests of the people. This is what it means to trust the Americans. A few months ago, we saw with our own eyes, and the whole world saw, the experience of the United States in Afghanistan, and how they abandoned and forsook the country. The images of the planes and the airport are still fresh in everyone’s mind.

Let’s not forget the statements of the Afghan officials who collaborated with the Americans for many years: the Afghan President on the run, who was 100% with the Americans, to the point that if they told him not to negotiate with the Taliban, he didn’t do it –while the United States themselves negotiated with them–, if they asked him not to go to Tehran, he didn’t go there, if they wanted him to go to such and such a country, he went there, and so on. He was 100% subservient to the US… So the former Afghan President says: “My mistake was to trust the United States and its international allies.” He claims that he gave them his opinion and thoughts, but they did not respond to him and did not take them into account, considering that it was their vision that was right, that they were the strategists, that the data was in their hands and that they had efficiently anticipated the consequences and results (of their actions), but the result is (the humiliating American debacle) that we saw in Afghanistan. They have abandoned (all their allies).

Today, in Ukraine, the whole world knows that the United States and Great Britain in particular (are the main culprits of the crisis). The rest of the European countries are really poor wretches. It is clear that a number of European countries did not want this problem, like Germany for example, Germany in the first place, and also France to some extent. Other European countries felt that they would be trampled and sacrificed (on the altar of NATO’s aggression against Russia), that their interests were in great danger. The United States, and with them Great Britain, which has left the European Union, have aggravated the situation in Ukraine and pushed it into the lion’s den. But of course, they acted according to precise calculations. For Biden has announced in his strategy that his priority is the fight against Russia and China. With China, the confrontation has its own calculations and its own ways. And as for the confrontation against Russia, Biden is certainly not going to wage a world war against it, because he is not capable of it, and so he has thrown Ukraine against Russia to prevent any agreement between Ukraine and Russia and to provoke this war.

This is demonstrated by the fact that after the first few days (of war), we can all listen on television to the statements of the President of Ukraine, his head of government, his foreign minister and his deputy, and his advisers. What do they say? “They let us fight alone.” Because either (the U.S.) had promised Ukraine that they would fight with them in case of war (against Russia), or, because of the trust of Ukrainians in the U.S., they believed that they would fight alongside them. And that is why Ukrainian leaders are now expressing that their hopes have been dashed. They say they have been left alone to fight. It was the Ukrainian President who said so. Ukraine is calling on the United States (and NATO) to fight on its side, but they are responding that they cannot endanger their States and their people and risk a devastating world war for the sake of Ukraine. I just said that in their eyes, even the White man has no value. (They will not risk a nuclear war) for the sake of Ukraine, for the people of Ukraine, for the White man in Ukraine, in any case. They are not ready for that. “Fight on your own, dear friends. Because as far as we are concerned, we are not ready to fight.” And that’s why they say every day that they will not send any American soldiers to Ukraine, no American planes to Ukraine. But it is you, the United States, who caused this situation and called this catastrophe on Ukraine!

Of course, my statement is not an invitation to the United States to go and fight Russia in Ukraine. I say this only to draw lessons from the current situation, for all those who trust the United States and place their hopes in them. The Ukrainian President asks (the US) to establish a no-fly zone in the skies over Ukraine to prevent Russian planes from hitting them. But they reply he gets is “Sorry, we can’t, because that would mean shooting down Russian planes, which would lead to war, and we are not ready to go to war with Russia for the sake of Ukraine.” Ukraine is calling for a total Western embargo on (Russian) oil and gas, which some countries are ready for, but others have responded frankly that they cannot do without Russian gas. Russian gas is still being sold, and its price has risen. So look at (the inconsistency): on the one hand, they impose sanctions on Russia, and on the other hand, they buy gas from it at high prices. That’s a (telling) example. The same goes for the Ukrainian request to obtain warplanes: the West refuses, because this would make it participate directly in the war. Are there not lessons to be learned there? They let Ukraine fight alone, because they are not ready to go to war for its sake. At most, they impose sanctions, a blockade, consistent with the American objective of weakening Russia. The US is acting in its own interest, not in the interest of Ukraine. This is the truth.

Today, if we could enter the hearts and minds of Ukrainian officials, we would find a feeling of maximum abandonment and neglect. And that’s why (Zelensky) starts to come down from his pedestal: he announces that he is ready to negotiate, to discuss the neutrality of Ukraine and other Russian demands. Why is he starting to reconsider – if his American masters allow him, of course? Because he has realized that those who promised to stand by him, those in whom he trusted and in whom he placed all his hopes, those who put him in this situation, have abandoned him in the middle of the road. I and you have known this lesson (that the United States are treacherous) by heart for a very long time, but I repeat it because Biden is a new proof of it. And before coming to Lebanon, I conclude on the international situation by pointing out the moral collapse of the West. The West lectures us about Western civilization, morality, humanistic values, human rights, etc. But the situation shows their moral decay. Look at how they treat refugees. Black Africans are treated differently, as well as Asians, Muslims, etc. There is discrimination on the basis of religion, race, skin color. Is this the famous Western civilization that they harp on day and night, presenting it to us as a model to follow? Whole States are acting in this way, in an official way! One of the Presidents of these countries, in order to justify this decision (to discriminate in favor of the White Ukrainian refugees), answered that it was the will of his people, who had elected him on this basis. It is therefore a racist culture, which has no connection with humanism or morality!

As far as Lebanon is concerned, I would like to say to the (pro-Western) political forces that if they aspire to please the US, they will never succeed, because the American demands are unlimited and never stop. If anyone thinks that the US can be satisfied with this or that demand, they are deluding themselves, because tomorrow they will demand one, two, three, a hundred, a thousand other things. Their diktats do not stop at any limit. And satisfying them is detrimental to Lebanon’s interests without giving us any compensation. What did the Lebanese officials get in return for their submission? We are already deprived of electricity, gas and dollars by the American sanctions or vetoes, what more could they do?

Lebanon voted against Russia at the UN, when it could have chosen to abstain, as 35 countries did. This is what Lebanon’s national interest demanded: abstention. The Prime Minister of Pakistan said a few days ago, in the face of Western pressure for his country to take an anti-Russian position, “We are not your slaves.” This is an excellent position. It would be good if Lebanon would one day dare to stand up to the American embassy and say, “We are not your slaves.” This would be a proof of freedom, patriotism, sovereignty, independence. But the worst thing is the statement of the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Our level of submission is such that the US embassy demanded that this communiqué on Russia and Ukraine be amended to be more virulent against Russia, and this rewriting was made directly by the US embassy. […]

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Can Europe overcome hatred, racism, embrace universalist spirit of refugee convention?

April 17 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Ruqiya Anwar 

The hardship of white Ukrainian refugees was humanized by the United States and Europe, while the West showed racism and double standards when it came to hosting refugees from the global south that were escaping western funded wars in the first place.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov described Ukrainian refugees as Europeans concluding “These are intelligent individuals”

The Ukraine crisis has caused one of Europe’s greatest and fastest refugee migrations since World War II ended. A massive amount of people had fled to neighboring countries. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as many as four million people could evacuate the country in the next weeks. The European Union (EU) estimates that there will be seven million refugees by the end of the year. 

It has revealed significant disparities in the treatment of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa, particularly Syrians who arrived in 2015. However, Europe’s radically divergent responses to these two crises serve a warning lesson for those seeking a more humane and generous Europe. The distinctions also explain why some of those fleeing Ukraine, particularly African, Asian, and Middle Eastern, are not receiving the same lavish treatment as Ukrainian citizens (Tayyaba, 2022).

However, we are aware that this is not how the international protection regime has worked in Europe, particularly in countries now hosting Ukrainian refugees. Racist and xenophobic language towards refugees and migrants, particularly those from Middle Eastern nations, pervades public discourse in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania, and hostile actions such as border pushbacks and draconian detention measures have been taken in the past.

Notably, Hungary, since the 2015 refugee crisis, the country has refused to accept refugees from non-EU countries. Non-European refugees, according to Prime Minister Victor Orbán, are “Muslim invaders” and migrants are “a poison”, and Hungary should not welcome refugees from diverse cultures and religions to preserve its cultural and ethnic unity. 

More recently, in late 2021, the atrocious treatment of refugees and asylum seekers stranded on Belarus’s borders with Poland and Lithuania, most of whom were from Iraq and Afghanistan, provoked an outcry across Europe. Belarus has been accused of turning these people’s misfortune into a weapon by luring them to Belarus to travel to EU countries in retribution for EU sanctions.

Whereas hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian migrants pour into neighbouring nations, clutching their children in one arm and their valuables. And leaders from nations like Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Romania have greeted them.

While hospitality has been praised, it has also brought significant disparities in the treatment of migrants and refugees from the Middle East, particularly Syrians who arrived in 2015. Some of them claim that the language used by politicians currently welcoming refugees is upsetting and cruel.

According to Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, “These are not the refugees we’re familiar with. These are Europeans. These are intelligent individuals. They are well-educated individuals. This is not the type of refugee surge we’ve seen before, with people whose identities we didn’t know, people with murky pasts, and even terrorists”.

However, when over a million individuals walked into Europe in 2015, there was initially a lot of support for refugees fleeing crises in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. There were also instances of animosity, such as when a Hungarian camerawoman was caught on camera kicking and potentially tripping migrants near the country’s Serbian border (CNC, 2022)

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Arab Uprisings of 2011 increased the number of refugees attempting to enter Europe. Even Turkey, which already hosts over 4 million migrants and asylum seekers, including 3.6 million Syrians, could not effectively accommodate them. However, the reception of these minority refugees in European countries has been overwhelmingly unfavourable.

Hundreds of Afghan, Syrian, Iraqi, and other asylum seekers were stranded in Poland-Belarus woodlands and marshes in 2021, without shelter, food, or water in subzero temperatures and facing constant assaults from Polish and Belarusian border authorities. At least a dozen people were killed, including children. Yet, the European Union refused to open the border.

Significantly, although walls are an inadequate means to handle the movement of refugees and migrants, wall-building has been on the rise in the region since the 1990s. Then, the European continent celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall. According to a 2018 Transnational Institute analysis, the primary goal of these walls is to dissuade refugees and asylum seekers from the Global South.

Greece finished building a wall along its border with Turkey in 2021 to keep Afghan asylum seekers out. The Spanish government now intends to construct the world’s tallest wall in northern Morocco, where it claims the power to block migrant access into Spain, which is only 250 miles away.

Lithuania has been constructing an 11-foot-high steel fence with 2-inch-thick razor wire on its border with Belarus since 2021 to prevent migrants from the Middle East and North Africa from entering the country. EU states have agreed to accept Ukrainian refugees for up to three years without requiring them to seek asylum. Poland has stated that it will absorb 1 million Ukrainians. Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, Romania, Moldova, Greece, Germany, and Spain are among the countries that have already opened their borders.

Unfortunately, these double standards have shown in the attitude of non-Ukrainians leaving Ukraine’s conflict. Students and refugees from the Middle East have been subjected to racist abuse, obstruction, and violence while attempting to exit Ukraine in increasing numbers. Many others said they were barred from boarding trains and buses in Ukrainian cities because Ukrainian nationals were given precedence; others said they have violently moved aside and halted by Ukrainian border guards when attempting to pass into neighbouring countries.

There were tales about non-white refugee communities that had gone unrecorded and unpublished. Despite their huge number and agonizing battles across countries and continents, millions of Syrian refugees remained anonymous and blankly depicted in the media. While standing in line at the border and seeking to get crucial services, a number of non-Ukrainians of colour, including Africans, Afghans, and Yemenis, have experienced prejudice.

The astonishing double standards were on full display in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis and the early phases of the conflict that followed. The hardship of white Ukrainian refugees was humanized by the United States and Europe, as well as their different political spectrums. When the refugees were Arabs or Muslims, Black or Brown, however, it remained vehemently divided.

Moreover, the Polish authorities detained people and refused them to enter the country. The refugee crisis in Ukraine provides Europe with not only an important opportunity to demonstrate its generosity, humanitarian values, and commitment to the global refugee protection regime, and it also provides a critical opportunity for reflection, Can Europe’s people overcome widespread racism and hatred and embrace the universalist spirit of the 1951 Refugee Convention? All member states must apply the provisions of this Convention to refugees without discrimination as to race, religion, or country of origin.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Sitrep: A few of Mr Lavrov’s comments

April 11, 2022

While we wait for a video and transcript to be available, I’ve gathered these quotes from Mr Lavrov’s interview with Rossiya 24 –

Amarynth


“Our special military operation is designed to put an end to the reckless expansion and reckless course towards complete domination by the United States and, under them, the remainder of Western countries on the world stage.

This domination is built on gross violations of international law and under some rules, which they are now hyping so much and which they make up on a case-by-case basis,”

“Kosovo can be recognized as independent without a referendum. Crimea cannot, despite holding a referendum observed by [many international monitors],”

“In Iraq, 10,000 kilometers away from the US, they imagined some threat to their national security. They bombed it, found no threat. And didn’t even say they were sorry,” “But when right at our border they grow neo-Nazi ultra-radicals, create dozens of biolabs … working on bioweapons, as documents prove, we are told we are not allowed to react to those threats,” he added.

The EU’s role has shifted during the Ukraine security crisis.  Previously it didn’t act as a military organization “fighting collectively against an invented threat.” Lavrov said the change was the result of pressure put on the bloc’s members by Washington, which has pushed it closer to NATO.

“This is an utterly serious change, even in the policy that the EU and the West under US leadership – there is no doubt about it – began to pursue after the start of our special military operation. A policy that reflects anger, in some ways even frenzy, and which, of course, is determined not only by [the situation in] Ukraine, but by Ukraine being transformed into a foothold for the final suppression of Russia”,

Regarding Josep Borrell

When a diplomatic chief … says a certain conflict can only be resolved through military action… Well, it must be something personal. He either misspoke or spoke without thinking, making a statement that nobody asked him to make. But it’s an outrageous remark,”

“Western propaganda shifted gear into depicting Russia as pure evil and [Ukraine] as pure good. The current Ukrainian regime is presumably a beacon of democracy, justice, freedom that is drawn to everything European, to the values that Europe claims it always adhered to,” the minister said.

The Silent Majority

April 11 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Bouthaina Shaaban 

All just causes in the world from Vietnam to Iraq to Palestine, Syria, and Yemen suffered from the entails of the stands of the silent majority.

The Silent Majority

There is a proverb in Arabic that says, “Those who are dumb-founded regarding a just cause are evil devils.” The more we live and gain experience, the more we discover that the tragedy in the world is not caused only by the one or two percent of people who are intent on creating trouble. Rather, it is truly caused and perpetuated by the majority of cowardly people who keep their mouths shut, either in consideration for petty personal interests, or in fear of invoking the anger of their masters, or in fear of even losing any of the favors bestowed on them. 

What applies to a small community also applies to a much larger scale and in many different political and non-political domains. You see countries collapsing mainly because those who are supposed to protect them are withdrawing from their moral duties and putting on a show with no real opinion or vision or stand. The voting that ended up suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council at the General Assembly in the UN falls within this category. The 93 countries that voted in favor of this suspension and the 58 countries that abstained are, in their majority, countries that may get the same treatment as Russia in one field or another. Most of them were pressured or blackmailed or threatened to vote against Russia. Little did they know that any or either of them may be in Russia’s shoes tomorrow or after tomorrow. 

In brief, this is a very short-sighted vision that may keep them on the safe side temporarily, but the safety valve for all is to make a real and resounding stand in favor of what is right and just, which may truly be the founding measure to create a safety net for a shared future for humanity and to rid themselves, once and for all, of Western hegemony that persists on using military power and political and diplomatic blackmail to prevent the establishment of a multi-polar system on totally different and much better foundations for the human family at large.

All just causes in the world from Vietnam to Iraq to Palestine, Syria, and Yemen suffered from the entails of the stands of the silent majority. There is no doubt that the major suffering was inflicted on them by military aggression and invasion, but had there been an international outcry against such crimes, the aggressor would have been forced to stop. That had actually taken place only in the war on Vietnam as it was the international and American outcry that played a major role in putting an end to that war. 

After that, the West changed tactics and started to use insidious threats, blackmail, bribery, and corruption to win some voices and silence others so that the west can stay in the lead regardless of the horrifying crimes it is perpetrating all over the world and in so many different countries. In the face of these new evil tactics, only courage and coordination among different parties are useful in understanding the bases of Western hegemony. No one is safe until all are safe, and no one is secure until all are secure. Western efforts to fragment stands by non-Western countries while keeping one common stand by Western countries is their permanent recipe to keep Western hegemony in the world. Unless Eastern and developing countries realize that they are all in one boat and that they have to make one stand, they will be marginalized and subjected to the liberal world rules. Spending more time thinking, strategizing, and planning is a must and is an essential necessity for founding a more equal world and a truly shared future for humanity. 

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

لقاء فرنجيّة وباسيل إلى إفطار نصرالله صيام جديد


الإثنين 11 نيسان 2022

البناء

المعركة الدائرة تحت عنوان الأغلبية النيابية واحدة من أخطر المعارك التي يواجهها لبنان، فقد قررت واشنطن تجنيد حلفائها منذ انتفاضة 17 تشرين للمضي قدماً في معركة الضغط لتحميل المقاومة مسؤولية الانهيار الذي يعيشه لبنان، أملا بالحصول على أغلبية نيابية مناوئة للمقاومة وتتجرأ على المواجهة المباشرة معها، بفرض معادلة جديدة كان يتحاشاها خصوم المقاومة من قبل، كتسمية رئيس حكومة معادٍ للمقاومة وتشكيل حكومة من دون مشاركة ممثلين للمقاومة، أملاً باستعادة ما يشبه حكومة فؤاد السنيورة عام 2008 التي اتخذت قرار تفكيك شبكة اتصالات المقاومة، أعقبتها أحداث 8 أيار التي مهّدت حينها لاتفاق الدوحة الذي نظم التساكن وربط النزاع داخلياً بين المقاومة وخصومها.

منذ وصول العماد ميشال عون الى رئاسة الجمهورية عام 2016 عبر ما عُرف بالتسوية الرئاسية، خصوصاً مع إقرار قانون الانتخابات الجديد عام 2017، ارتفعت الأصوات في معسكر واشنطن تنديداً بخيار ربط النزاع والدعوة للانتقال إلى المواجهة، وكانت عملية احتجاز الرئيس سعد الحريري في السعودية ذروة الحملة الداعية للمواجهة، التي تأتي الانتخابات النيابية لاختبار نتائجها، وفقاً للوصفة التي حددها جيفري فيلتمان في أعقاب انتفاضة 17 تشرين، إذا استعصى ضرب المقاومة فليكن تجريدها من حلفائها أو تجريدهم من قوتهم، ولتكن الانتخابات هي ساحة النزال.

خلال الفترة الممتدة منذ 17 تشرين وما تخللها من ضغوط، لجأ الحلف الذي تقوده واشنطن في كل مرة يشعر فيها أن لدى المقاومة مبادرات تكسر الحصار الى الالتفاف بخطوات تراجع خلالها عن سياسة الإسقاط كي لا يسقط لبنان في حضن المقاومة بدلاً من السقوط على رأسها، كما حذر الإسرائيليون كلاً من واشنطن والرياض عقب سفن كسر الحصار. وكما فعلت واشنطن بالإعلان عن استعدادها لاستثناء جرّ الغاز المصري والكهرباء الأردنية عبر سورية الى لبنان من عقوبات قانون قيصر، قرّرت السعودية ودول الخليج التراجع عن قرار القطيعة الدبلوماسية والعودة إلى الانخراط السياسي والاقتصادي مع لبنان خشية الفشل الذريع في الانتخابات، أملا بمنح جرعة دعم معنوي ومادي للحلفاء بوجه المقاومة وحلفائها.

تجربة العراق أظهرت للأميركيين وحلفائهم أن الحصول على الأغلبية النيابية قد لا يكون كافياً لتغيير المشهد السياسي والحكومي، لكن ذلك لا يُعفي المقاومة وحلفاءها من الاعتراف بأن الخلافات في معسكر الحلفاء قد ضيّعت فرصاً ذهبيّة للتقدّم بحلول للمشاكل اللبنانية طالما تحدّث عنها الأمين العام لحزب الله، خصوصاً في ملف الطاقة، وكانت تجربة حكومة الرئيس حسان دياب إدانة لانقسام معسكر الحلفاء على قضايا قد تستحق الخلاف لكنها تستحق حسن إدارة هذا الخلاف تحت سقف الانتماء الى معسكر حلفاء، تجمعه عناوين تموضع استراتيجيّ، لا تنهي الخلافات التكتيكية لكنها تمنع تحويلها إلى عناصر تتسبب بالفشل في وجه معسكر يتربّص بالجميع دون استثناء، لدرجة بدا خلالها أن الحلفاء يشعرون بالقرب من الخصوم أكثر من قدرتهم على التلاقي وتنظيم خلافاتهم، وأن جمهورهم لم يحمل العدائيّة التي حملها لمن يفترض أنهم حلفاء الحليف المشترك نحو من يفترض أنهم الخصوم.

الإفطار الذي ضمّ رئيس تيار المردة سليمان فرنجية ورئيس التيار الوطني الحر جبران باسيل الى مائدة الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله، خطوة صائبة وفي الاتجاه الصحيح، للإجابة عن سؤال، حول مدى أهليّة حلفاء المقاومة على الارتقاء إلى مستوى الممارسة السياسية المسؤولة، التي تعرف كيف تدير خلافات تكتيكية مع حلفاء استراتيجيين، وكيف تدير تفاهمات تكتيكية مع خصوم استراتيجيين.

إنه زمن الصيام عن الصراعات المجانيّة التي لا تحقق أرباحاً، ولا جدال حول حجم تسببها بالخسائر.

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From Korea to Libya: On the Future of Ukraine and NATO’s Neverending Wars

April 6, 2022

Ukraine needs peace and security, not perpetual war that is designed to serve the strategic interests of certain countries or military alliances.

By Ramzy BAROUD

Much has been said and written about media bias and double standards in the West’s response to the Russia-Ukraine war, when compared with other wars and military conflicts across the world, especially in the Middle East and the Global South. Less obvious is how such hypocrisy is a reflection of a much larger phenomenon which governs the West’s relationship to war and conflict zones.

Like every NATO-led war since the inception of the alliance in 1949, these wars resulted in widespread devastation and tragic death tolls.

On March 19, Iraq commemorated the 19th anniversary of the US invasion which killed, according to modest estimates, over a million Iraqis. The consequences of that war were equally devastating as it destabilized the entire Middle East region, leading to various civil and proxy wars. The Arab world is reeling under that horrific experience to this day.

Also, on March 19, the eleventh anniversary of the NATO war on Libya was commemorated and followed, five days later, by the 23rd anniversary of the NATO war on Yugoslavia. Like every NATO-led war since the inception of the alliance in 1949, these wars resulted in widespread devastation and tragic death tolls.

None of these wars, starting with the NATO intervention in the Korean Peninsula in 1950, have stabilized any of the warring regions. Iraq is still as vulnerable to terrorism and outside military interventions and, in many ways, remains an occupied country. Libya is divided among various warring camps, and a return to civil war remains a real possibility.

Yet, enthusiasm for war remains high, as if over seventy years of failed military interventions have not taught us any meaningful lessons. Daily, news headlines tell us that the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Spain or some other western power have decided to ship a new kind of ‘lethal weapons‘ to Ukraine. Billions of dollars have already been allocated by Western countries to contribute to the war in Ukraine.

In contrast, very little has been done to offer platforms for diplomatic, non-violent solutions. A handful of countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia have offered mediation or insisted on a diplomatic solution to the war, arguing, as China’s foreign ministry reiterated on March 18, that “all sides need to jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue and negotiation that will produce results and lead to peace.”

Though the violation of the sovereignty of any country is illegal under international law, and is a stark violation of the United Nations Charter, this does not mean that the only solution to violence is counter-violence. This cannot be truer in the case of Russia and Ukraine, as a state of civil war has existed in Eastern Ukraine for eight years, harvesting thousands of lives and depriving whole communities from any sense of peace or security. NATO’s weapons cannot possibly address the root causes of this communal struggle. On the contrary, they can only fuel it further.

If more weapons were the answer, the conflict would have been resolved years ago. According to the BBC, the US has already allocated $2.7bn to Ukraine over the last eight years, long before the current war. This massive arsenal included “anti-tank and anti-armor weapons … US-made sniper (rifles), ammunition and accessories.”

The speed with which additional military aid has poured into Ukraine following the Russian military operations on February 24 is unprecedented in modern history. This raises not only political or legal questions, but moral questions as well – the eagerness to fund war and the lack of enthusiasm to help countries rebuild.

After 21 years of US war and invasion of Afghanistan, resulting in a humanitarian and refugee crisis, Kabul is now largely left on its own. Last September, the UN refugee agency warned that “a major humanitarian crisis is looming in Afghanistan”, yet nothing has been done to address this ‘looming’ crisis, which has greatly worsened since then.

The amassing of NATO weapons in Ukraine, as was the case of Libya, will likely backfire. In Libya, NATO’s weapons fueled the country’s decade long civil war.

Afghani refugees are rarely welcomed in Europe. The same is true for refugees coming from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Mali and other conflicts that directly or indirectly involved NATO. This hypocrisy is accentuated when we consider international initiatives that aim to support war refugees, or rebuild the economies of war-torn nations.

Compare the lack of enthusiasm in supporting war-torn nations with the West’s unparalleled euphoria in providing weapons to Ukraine. Sadly, it will not be long before the millions of Ukrainian refugees who have left their country in recent weeks become a burden on Europe, thus subjected to the same kind of mainstream criticism and far-right attacks.

While it is true that the West’s attitude towards Ukraine is different from its attitude towards victims of western interventions, one has to be careful before supposing that the ‘privileged’ Ukrainains will ultimately be better off than the victims of war throughout the Middle East. As the war drags on, Ukraine will continue to suffer, either the direct impact of the war or the collective trauma that will surely follow. The amassing of NATO weapons in Ukraine, as was the case of Libya, will likely backfire. In Libya, NATO’s weapons fueled the country’s decade long civil war.

Ukraine needs peace and security, not perpetual war that is designed to serve the strategic interests of certain countries or military alliances. Though military invasions must be wholly rejected, whether in Iraq or Ukraine, turning Ukraine into another convenient zone of perpetual geopolitical struggle between NATO and Russia is not the answer.

commondreams.org

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

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InterventionismIraqNATOUkraineWar

Negotiations: a primer for Zone A residents

March 30, 2022

Okay, I am going to ask you to make a real effort and, for a while at least, drop your certitudes and what you believe is a good or a bad way to prosecute a war.  Instead, I am going to appeal to your common sense.

Long before the Russian Special Military Operation (SMO) in the Ukraine started, but following the Russian ultimatum, I indicated many times that what Russia would be doing is the following: ask for negotiations and if the other side rejects them, Russia would turn up the “pain dial”, slowly, step by step.  If the other side agreed to negotiations, but then used them to stall and negotiate in bad faith, same response: Russia would turn up the pain dial.  A little.  Step by step.

And do WHAT exactly next???

What is the point of turning on the pain dial and remaining silent?

The purpose of the pain dial is to convince your enemy to agree to substantive talks.  Conversely, that means that turning the pain dial WITHOUT offering talks simply makes no sense.

Yeah, yeah, I know, in Zone A NOT to negotiate with the enemy is a sign of manhood, virility, courage, prowess and being “Presidential”.  Which did not stop the Ubermacho Trump from… … negotiating with “Rocket Man” and then end up being totally screwed over by him.  So, I get it, when you are used to stupid politicians, you do not want negotiations, or you end up with SNAFUs like Biden telling the 82nd in Poland about “we you will be there” (that is in the Ukraine!).

But please understand that Russian politicians are not as stupid as yours.

And a country with smart and well-educated diplomats does not need to fear talks, quite the contrary.

Lavrov vs Bliken – you get what I mean?

Next, another Zone A hangup: the goal of a war.

In Zone A, wars are to be fought towards maximal destruction of lives and infrastructure.  That is what the US promises its enemies “we will bomb you to the stone age” and that is what Uncle Shmuel did to Iraq.  Only to eventually lose that war too (ditto for all the other wars the US has ever fought since WWII).

In Zone B people understand that the goal of a war is to achieve a political outcome.

As Ho Chi Minh tried to explain to his ignorant counterparts “you can kill ten of our men for every one we kill of yours. But even at those odds, you will lose and we will win“.

“Just” mass murder achieves very little and the little it does achieve is never long lasting.  And nobody looks very “Presidential” after getting his ass handed to him!

For the Kremlin, this is a no brainer: you always talk to anybody worth talking two, especially if these talks increases your chances to:

  • Lose less soldiers
  • Lose less equipment
  • Kill less people (on both sides)
  • Preserve the civilian infrastructure
  • Get a sense of how your enemy is doing and feeling
  • Prove to your own and foreign public opinion that you are using violence only as a last resort
  • Only slowly increasing the pain on your pain dial, thereby making each increase more sensitive
  • Save immense sums of money
  • Have somebody on the other side to sign a declaration of surrender
  • Allow the country which you defeated to recover faster and better

What did the US ignoramuses do in Iraq?

  1. First they did bomb it viciously and genocidally (Madeleine Aldumb admitted that openly!)
  2. Then they invaded with the “kill! kill! kill!” mindset.
  3. Then they declared victory.
  4. Then they got stuck and defeated.
  5. Then they shamefully had to run with their tails tucked.

General Shamanov vs General Petraeus – you get what I mean?

Now I do NOT want Russia to follow this no doubt “brilliant” US plan.

Turning the Ukraine into Iraq is NOT what Russia wants or needs.

So, and especially for those alternatively gifted or really mentally stuck in Zone A:

Russia is doing the absolutely correct thing by negotiating and talking with pretty much everybody and anybody.  The problem is not the fact of talks, it is the dismal way the Russians (superb negotiators but sub-pathetic PR people) presented the information, which they did only partially, rather ambiguously and with all the wrong faces doing the talking.

The benefit of this PR disaster was a wave of rage and patriotism which is now even way higher than it was at the initiation of combat operations.  There is a kind of an informal referendum going on in Russia where people vote with their feet to go to the local recruitment center and volunteer for combat in the Ukraine!

Now the center of gravity of this operation is clearly going to go to the big cauldron containing two more cauldrons in the Donbass.

Nobody really knows how many Ukrainian soldiers are left alive there, what their condition and morale are, and how much of their deep defenses still stand.  But here is what we do know:

  • This is the biggest Ukrainian force in the entire theater of operations
  • There are AT LEAST several TENS OF THOUSAND soldiers still left
  • These were the best trained and equipped forces of the Ukrainian military
  • The way the Nazis organized them is, roughly, that in each Ukrainian “brigade” there is at least one bona fide Nazi “battalion” tasked with making darn sure that nobody negotiates with the Russians or, if they do, that those who do quickly get dispatched.

In these conditions a direct assault by Russian forces is always an option, they have proven in Mariupol and Avdeevka that they can do that when needed.  I remind you that during WWII the Soviet Union liberated 1’200 (one thousand two hundred!) towns and cities from Nazi occupiers.  The Russian military knows more about urban warfare than any other army on the planet, especially modern urban warfare.

But it would be INFINITELY better to convince these Ukrainian forces (which are doomed, and they understand that!) to surrender and, for that goal, offer them some kind of “out” which would include some tangible concessions/rewards for those units who will accept the inevitable and surrender.

The same goes for the “big” top level negotiations in Belarus or Turkey.  Here is what Lavrov declared today about these talks.  The Ukrainian side agreed to:

  • No nukes for the Ukraine
  • No NATO for the Ukraine
  • No alliances of any kind and a neutral Ukraine
  • Give up any claims on Crimea and the Donbass

Now if you do not see these as major concessions, you have issues I cannot help you with.

I will just say that many Ukie propagandists instantly dismissed it all as “false” just as they have, apparently, “resurrected/transported” the two Ukrainian soldiers who tortured Russian POWs to a location in Kiev.  The truth is that these are painful and major concessions.  Hence the desperate Ukie (and, really, US!) needs to present ANY negotiations as “5min to total surrender” by the Russians – the reality is too awful for the leaders of the Empire of Lies to even contemplate, let alone admit.

Add to this the “disarmament” of the Ukraine by the Russian armed forces and you will see that things are going pretty fantastically well, especially for such a short and RELATIVELY small and limited operation.  At least that is true for the military aspect.  Info operations, alas, not so much 😦

Finally, and as always, I remind you that this is not, repeat, NOT, about the Ukraine.

Disarming and denazifying the Ukraine is only a means towards a much more important goal: the future collective security architecture of a post-NATO Europe which, in turn, is just the cornerstone of all of international security.

So, the goal is NOT to denazify the Ukraine, that is a means towards the goal, the real goal is to denazify the planet.

Oh I know, very few, if any, in Zone A will see that as anything but totally over the top hyperbole.  Why?

It’s a mental block: most folks in Zone A think of themselves and their country as somehow “indispensable”, but they are wrong.  Far from being indispensable, they need to be permanently re-educated (over several generations!) and eventually integrated into Zone B as a “normal”, morally and mentally sane, country.

This, by the way, also implies NEGOTIATIONS with the US, NATO and all of Zone A!

And if Zone A does not want to negotiate anything?  Correctomundo!  You turn up the pain dial, and ask again.  Then repeat until Zone A accepts talks.

It’s that simple, really.

My very last comment will be this: right now, the purely military aspects of the SMO are taking second place to the economic cataclysm which Zone A brought upon itself (and much of the world).  The Eurolemmings especially are only slowly beginning to discover the immene joy and privilege of being a member of the European Reichsgau of Empire of Lies truly is!

What can I say?  They SO richly deserve this….

And if all of the above is just Putinist propaganda, by all means, send a letter to the Russian General Staff, ask for a meeting, and explain to all these boneheads how warfare “your way” is so much superior to warfare “their way”.  Begin by listening all the heroic victories which your country has ever won.

Or apply to the CIA.  They actually might hire you! 😆

Andrei

Sitrep: Operation Z

March 29, 2022

Source

By Nightvision

Several big developments are giving us an idea of a shifting picture on the ground today. First let’s start with the fronts where the largest changes took place, and then give a broader strategic analysis.

-Many reports today confirm our previous determination that Russia is in fact conducting a major regrouping of its forces following what Shoigu today has called the successful conclusion of the main objectives of the first phase of operations:

“Shoigu: In general, the main objectives of the first phase of the operation have been achieved. The combat capabilities of the VSU have been significantly reduced, which allows us to focus our main attention and main efforts on achieving the main goal – the liberation of Donbass.

This is in conjunction with the announcement from RF that some VDV units will be withdrawn from the Kiev region as a sign of good faith for the negotiations.

Of course the Western press/analysts have predictably spun this news as, ‘Attritioned Russian forces are pulling out and downscaling their operation in order to concentrate on more realistic objectives in the east’.

There is a very informative thread by Scott Ritter today who explains the simple concept of a military ‘feint’ (misdirection, deception, diversionary tactics etc) we’ve often mentioned before in the discussion of Russia’s opening maneuvers which seemed to many of us who actually follow military matters, to be a ‘pinning strategy’ that keeps Ukrainian forces from redistributing and relieving their primary forces in Donbass and elsewhere.

“1/ Big Arrow War—a primer. For all those scratching their heads in confusion, or dusting off their dress uniforms for the Ukrainian victory parade in Kiev, over the news about Russia’s “strategic shift”, you might want to re-familiarize yourself with basic military concepts.

2/ Maneuver warfare is a good place to start. Understand Russia started its “special military operation” with a severe manpower deficit—200,000 attackers to some 600,000 defenders (or more). Classic attritional conflict was never an option. Russian victory required maneuver.

3/ Maneuver war is more psychological than physical and focuses more on the operational than on the tactical level. Maneuver is relational movement—how you deploy and move your forces in relation to your opponent. Russian maneuver in the first phase of its operation support this.

4/ The Russians needed to shape the battlefield to their advantage. In order to do this, they needed to control how Ukraine employed it’s numerically superior forces, while distributing their own smaller combat power to best accomplish this objective.

5/ Strategically, to facilitate the ability to maneuver between the southern, central, and northern fronts, Russia needed to secure a land bridge between Crimea and Russia. The seizure of the coastal city of Mariupol was critical to this effort. Russia has accomplished this task.

6/ While this complex operation unfolded, Russia needed to keep Ukraine from maneuvering its numerically superior forces in a manner that disrupted the Mariupol operation. This entailed the use of several strategic supporting operations—feints, fixing operations, and deep attack.

7/ The concept of a feint is simple—a military force either is seen as preparing to attack a given location, or actually conducts an attack, for the purpose of deceiving an opponent into committing resources in response to the perceived or actual actions.

8/ The use of the feint played a major role in Desert Storm, where Marine Amphibious forces threatened the Kuwaiti coast, forcing Iraq to defend against an attack that never came, and where the 1st Cavalry Division actually attacked Wadi Al Batin to pin down the Republican Guard.

9/ The Russians made extensive use of the feint in Ukraine, with Amphibious forces off Odessa freezing Ukrainian forces there, and a major feint attack toward Kiev compelling Ukraine to reinforce their forces there. Ukraine was never able to reinforce their forces in the east.

10/ Fixing operations were also critical. Ukraine had assembled some 60,000-100,000 troops in the east, opposite Donbas. Russia carried out a broad fixing attack designed to keep these forces fully engaged and unable to maneuver in respect to other Russian operations.

11/ During Desert Storm, two Marine Divisions were ordered to carry out similar fixing attacks against Iraqi forces deployed along the Kuwaiti-Saudi border, tying down significant numbers of men and material that could not be used to counter the main US attack out west.”

By the way, von Manstein, considered one of the greatest German WW2 generals famously employed such tactics, particularly in the same Donbass region against the Soviet forces, where he utilized feints and strategic retreats in order to capture a much larger encroaching force by way of misdirection and diversions). You can watch videos such as this one to see how an extremely agile mechanized force can employ diversionary tactics and misdirection to bait a much larger force https://youtu.be/vL1BiYvG-38

A source from Kiev further has reported that “Russia now has MORE armor units accumulated on the border than it did prior to the war…” This is extremely telling, and if true, a clear sign that a major phase 2 operation is in the preparatory stages. And there’s many sightings/videos of new forces coming in such as this one: https://twitter.com/MotolkoHelp/status/1508794997184897024

The full statement: Russia has pulled more equipment to the border than it was before the invasion – according to Ukrainian resources affiliated with the intelligence of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

The intelligence community “Informnapalm” specifies that specifically in the Kursk region a huge amount of military equipment is recorded – more than it was on February 24th.”

(photo of earlier build up for reference)

-Now onto a few actual tactical updates:

By far the most actively successful theatre for RF forces has been Izyum. Kamyanka was mostly captured and there are now reports that fighting has been recorded as far south / down the road as Krestyshche (likely just advance/scout forces), which is right on the outskirts of Slovyansk. Similarly in the SW direction from Izyum, fighting continues around Barinkove and more and more forces continue to pour into this area via pontoon bridge crossings on the Donets river. This will become a bigger and bigger focus in the coming days as the “regrouping” pivots towards full Phase 2, as this area will become the main pincer of the north to enclose the ‘Great Cauldron’.

-In Mariupol, cleansing continues and Ramzan Kadyrov has flown in to help oversee the final stages of the Mariupol liberation and continue giving his troops morale on the frontlines. The city is divided into small pockets which are strategically being pushed by RF aligned forces towards the Azovstal factory so that they can concentrate and bottleneck all the remaining Azov forces there. The verdict is still out whether, as some have expressed, Russia will choose to “sacrifice the factory” once all of Azov is in there (via massive bombing), to get rid of them all in one shot, or instead cleanse it piece by piece so as to salvage it intact. The factory is an important industrial center that was once amongst the largest in the world for steel, so likely Russia is hesitant to completely destroy this heritage to Soviet industry.

And by the way, though we don’t know the exact force distribution in Mariupol, it has become clear that there are at least 3 distinct groups operating in several directions which have finally ‘linked’ at central points and are now often operating together. These are 1. the DPR forces from the north, the Chechen forces from the East, and now a special Russian Marine force from the West – what appears to be ‘Naval Infantry’. Several videos can be seen of these forces now operating in conjunction, though how the command is distributed between them is uncertain as of yet:

https://www.bitchute.com/embed/aXEDgonE4vTY/?feature=oembed#?secret=6XCpE5tZ3f

Also, this might be graphic but a must-see. This is what Azov battalion has become in Mariupol: https://www.bitchute.com/video/lVf6xGHKXEBx/

A Ukrainian transport helicopter was also shotdown yesterday in a desperate last ditch attempt to save some of the Azov leadership. It tried to come in stealthily, flying low over the Azov Sea, bypassing Russian land corridor / radar coverage, but once it got in close it was nevertheless detected and obliterated.

-The administrative center building in Nikolayev was hit by Kaliber missile this morning. Official Ukrainian estimates claimed only 20-30 casualties (wounded plus killed), but chatrooms of Nikolayev have apparently begun to leak actual lists of casualties of confirmed casualty names on Telegram, and reports indicate there’s 200+ so far and possibly will be higher than the barracks of the 79th Brigade which was struck last week. Rumors after that hit last week stated that Ukraine command issued an immediate decree to no longer allow publishing of any ‘aftermath’ photos like the ones on the 79th which showed gruesome dead of the UAF. This means we likely won’t see much photo confirmation but the sheets with casualty names can be seen on the Telegrams of Colonel Cassad and others.

-In other news, Deputy Head of the State Duma Committee Vladimir Shamanov today has announced that ‘Russian Spetsnaz’ have caught some of the perpetrators of the horrific torture / war crimes done to our artillery troops on the eastern outskirts of Kharkov the other day. Here is his statement:

“Today they are lying at their feet, asking for mercy” – Deputy Head of the State Duma Committee Vladimir Shamanov claims that those who mocked Russian servicemen in Ukraine were captured by Russian special forces.

“Those who bullied our servicemen did not rejoice for long, after three days our special forces captured these bastards. Today they roll at their feet, begging for mercy. I will call their names. One bastard was called Sergei Velichko, nicknamed Chile. The second – Konstantin Nemechev. Both bastards grew up as Nazis from a fan group of the local Metalist football club. This is what they themselves told during the first interrogations. And so it will be with everyone who is unworthy, violating the Geneva Convention, to act with our prisoners of war.”

Some however are skeptical of these claims until Russian leadership produces photos/videos proving these people are captured.

-In economic news, the Ruble has now almost fully, miraculously recovered to its pre-war exchange rate against the USD.

Let’s recall that the West claimed the Ruble would catastrophically drop to 200 against 1 USD. Instead it spiked to a high of 130-150 and has been steadily rebounding, now almost completely back to normal, which was in the 75-80 range prior to February 24 and the onset of the special operation. This is a massive economic shock and humiliation to the entire West, to say the least.

On top of that, Russian stocks have opened back up and they are gaining positively as well:

-One last thing to note. I’ve said numerous times now that U.S. and Western equipment in general has been a catastrophic failure in the Ukraine. But there’s some additional important news that continues to reveal the veracity of these claims.

Firstly, this Pentagon reporter has stated that the Pentagon plans to buy hundreds of FEWER Javelin missiles this year than it did last year, DESPITE giving away thousands of them to Ukraine. https://twitter.com/JackDetsch/status/1508517753413636096

It is now clear that the Pentagon leadership has seen the utterly dismal performance of the Javelin and now wants to phase it out from U.S. forces. Remember, out of thousands of Javelins supplied, thousands of videos published by Ukraine, not a single successful usage of the system has ever been recorded. In fact the vast majority of successful Ukrainian defeats of Russian armor happens at the ends of legacy Soviet/Russian systems and mostly artillery. Russian forces continue to find Javelin units completely unused because Ukr troops have found them to be unwieldy and impractical in combat – too long to set up and use, too heavy to carry around, and not effective even when used. For urban combat where troops have to be as light, mobile, and agile as possible, the Javelin is absolutely worthless with its large CLU interface and overly-bulky design. The Pentagon has clearly seen the failure of the over-hyped system.

-In another sudden and unexpected report, the Pentagon now wants to scrap DOZENS of F-22’s.

https://www.rt.com/news/552870-pentagon-budget-f-22-jets-boneyard/

They have suddenly decided they want to ‘divert funding’ to the next generation platform. There is clearly connection here to something the Pentagon has witnessed in Ukraine that has left it scrambling to rethink its approach to modern warfare. You see all proxy wars are laboratories for Great Powers to test and assess their equipment. The F-22 was the flagship of the U.S. airforce, the ONLY plane forbidden by Congress to sell to any ally even in ‘export version’. The F-35 was meant for the export market while F-22 was supposed to be solely the unique and unmatched great hope and pinnacle of American engineering that would lead to victories in future wars. But it seems now that the Pentagon has had a taste of what modern Russian air defenses / radars are capable in Ukraine and is no longer confident of the F-22’s chances. It has suddenly scrambled to desperately dump the F-22 and prepare for the “next generation” platform titled the ‘Next Generation Air Dominance’ project, which would consist of heavily utilizing integrated drone warfare and possible drone swarms controlled by the pilot. This appears to indicate the U.S. sees no other way to defeat Russian air defenses and airpower in general apart from massive over-utilization of integrated drone saturation – it can no longer count on F-22’s after seeing how Russia has completely nullified the Ukrainian air and anti-air capabilities, which by the way were orders of magnitude greater than the capabilities of the Serbians in the 90’s who humiliated the U.S. air force several times.

-Also, following Lugansk Head Paschenik’s statements earlier, that a referendum would be conducted for Lugansk to officially join the RF, the head of DPR Pushilin today has also issued statements saying that the DPR will hold a referendum to officially join the Russian Federation but only after the conflict has ended. Either way, it is big news for LPR/DPR to look forward to after cessation of hostilities. If successful, this would add another massive 3.8 million population injection into the RF which, added to Crimea, would bring RF’s total population in the range of 148,000,000. Keep in mind, prior to the events of 2014, RF’s population was 143 million.

-Lastly, many people have been asking why Russia isn’t crippling Ukrainian internet capabilities. Today’s report claims massive Russian cyber attack has brought Ukraine internet connectivity to a mere 13% nationwide. 

https://www.zerohedge.com/technology/internet-provider-ukraines-military-hit-most-severe-cyberattack-invasion

Gonzalo Lira on Victoria Nuland (MUST SEE!)

March 28, 2022

‘Israeli’ Operatives in Kurdistan Region Will Drag Iraq into War: Kataib Hezbollah

March 21, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The Iraqi Kataib Hezbollah [Brigades] resistance movement said the presence of operatives affiliated to the ‘Israeli’ spy agency Mossad in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region will drag the Arab country into a military confrontation.

Speaking in an interview with Beirut-based al-Mayadeen TV network, the resistance group’s spokesman Jafar al-Husseini warned against attempts aimed at turning Iraq into a launchpad for attacks on regional countries and stated that such bids will exacerbate the existing tensions.

He noted there is substantial evidence that ‘Israeli’ operatives are freely active in the Kurdistan region, and that the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] exports crude oil to the ‘Israeli’-occupied territories.

The spokesman of Kataib Hezbollah, part of the Popular Mobilization Units [PMU] or better known by Arabic name of Hashd al-Shaabi, underscored that the Palestinian cause remains a cornerstone of Iraqi resistance groups’ doctrine, stating that the forces are coordinating with their Palestinian and Lebanese comrades.

Husseini went on to say that Iraqi resistance forces are on the great march of progress and are expanding their capabilities to defend the country’s airspace.

Last week, the spokesman for Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard [IRG] said the elite military force will not hesitate to strike other Zionist bases in the Iraqi Kurdistan region if its officials do not dismantle them.

“It is our natural right to destroy any base from which any attack is carried out against the security of Iran and this is a red line” for us, Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif told Yemen’s al-Masirah network on March 17.

According to Sharif, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi had on several occasions warned the Iraqi Kurdistan region about the presence of the Mossad base, which was recently attacked by the IRG, and two other similar bases.

“If Iraqi officials do not take action to remove other bases of Zionists in this country while our security continues to be threatened from this region, we will respond without hesitation,” the IRG’s spokesman added.

Days earlier, the Iranian ambassador to Iraq had said the latest IRG missile strike on secret Mossad bases in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region was strictly necessary, as operations against Iran’s security were being plotted and orchestrated there.

Masjedi said ‘Israeli’ operatives used the Iraqi Kurdistan region to plot and launch operations against Iran’s security, emphasizing that Iranian officials had time and again warned the KRG authorities against their activities, but to no avail.

The Iranian diplomat highlighted that the missile attack was carried out in order to safeguard Iran’s security, “and was neither intended to violate Iraq’s sovereignty nor was meant to insult the Arab country and its nation.”

In the early hours of March 13, a dozen ballistic missiles hit secret Mossad bases in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil, reportedly leaving several Zionist operatives dead.

In a statement issued later in the day, the IRG indicated that the operation was in response to a recent ‘Israeli’ airstrike on the Syrian capital of Damascus, in which two IRG officers were martyred.

The IRG identified the two officers as colonels Ehsan Karbalaipour and Morteza Saeidnejad, warning that the Tel Aviv regime would pay for this crime.

IRG Warned Kurdistan Ahead of Strike, Vows Similar Responses If Attacks Repeated

March 18, 2022

By Staff

Islamic Revolution Guard [IRG] Spokesman Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif announced that Iran’s ambassador to Iraq said that Kurdistan region was repeatedly warned about the headquarters we hit, in addition to two other sites.

Brigadier General Sharif explained that the Zionists themselves have declared that the drone, which flied over Kermanshah base, was directed from their sites in Erbil, underscoring that it is Iran’s natural right to destroy the building from which an attack against our security was launched.

This is a red line, General Sharif emphasized, warning that “hadn’t Iraqi officials acted to remove the other headquarters, and had Iran’s security been targeted [again] from that region, we will not hesitate to respond.”

The IRG has fired ten homegrown missiles with pinpoint accuracy in the attack on a strategic center of Zionists in Erbil in the wee hours of Sunday.

The IRG has used Fateh-class missiles in the operation, including the Fateh-110 missiles, an informed source said.

“The center hit by the missiles was a place where a remarkable number of Zionists gathered, and considering the number of people present in that base, the likelihood of the [Zionist] regime’s human toll is very high,” the source added.

Erbil Attack Was Decisive: Quds Force Commander

March 16, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guard [IRG] Quds Force, Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani described the recent IRG missile attack on an ‘Israeli’ base in Iraq’s Erbil regions as a decisive action that taught the regime a good lesson.

Speaking on Tuesday in a meeting with a group of the Quds Force commanders, Brigadier General Ghaani pointed to the recent missile strike on an ‘Israeli’ base in Iraqi Kurdistan as a show of force by the IRG which also showed how fragile the ‘Israeli’ regime is.

“The criminal Zionist regime, which once chanted slogans from the Nile to the Euphrates, is now so humiliated that they sleep in fear and are shaking with fear at night, worried that they will wake up and lose part of their occupied territories,” Ghaani said.

The senior IRG official also recalled a speech by Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nassrallah, who said that the ‘Israeli’ regime’s air defense known as the Iron Dome disability to intercept Hezbollah’s drones that fly deep over the occupied territories is a sign of a collapsing regime.

He also pointed to the Ukraine issue and said that as the Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei put it, Ukraine fell a victim to the incapable, weak and dishonest United States.

Ghaani went on to say that the Americans are afraid of the Resistance groups as they are at the highest level of preparedness to face the enemies.

Elsewhere, the Quds Force commander praised the Yemeni resistance in the face of the aggressors by relying on their domestic resources.

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