The Afghanistan Debacle: When Will They Ever Learn?

August 24, 2021

British and Australian armies’ veteran, former deputy head of the UN military mission in Kashmir and Australian defense attaché in Pakistan

Brian Cloughley

President Biden should reset in the Marshall mode and concentrate on forging amity and cooperation while combating the real enemies of humanity

Following World War Two, Europe was reeling from the devastation of so many years of savagery that it seemed it might never recover. The casualty figures are staggering, with, in addition to the Soviet Union’s some 25 million, about seven millions were killed in each of Germany and Poland, and 800,000 in France, 1.7 million in Yugoslavia, and half a million in each of Austria, Italy and Greece. The majority of these people were civilians and the surviving citizens of all these countries were suffering gravely from the catastrophe, not the least hazard being actual starvation.

The United States had only a handful of civilian casualties and prospered greatly from the commercial demands of war. In consequence it was in a position of immeasurable economic and military ascendancy and fortunately was governed by an administration that, by and large, was sympathetic and prepared to be supportive in alleviating the misery of the countless millions in Europe who seemed to have nothing in their future but endless hardship.

President Truman and his State Department brought their considerable talents to bear and constructed a scheme whereby shattered Europe could be best assisted. As noted by the History website, the 1948 European Recovery Plan was “The brainchild of Secretary of State George C Marshall, for whom it was named.” It was “crafted as a four-year plan to reconstruct cities, industries and infrastructure heavily damaged during the war and to remove trade barriers between European neighbours — as well as foster commerce between those countries and the United States.” In its final essence it didn’t entail a great deal of actual sacrifice on the part of the U.S., and in fact benefitted the agricultural community and the economic furnace that had been so effective in winning the war.

Nevertheless it was based on good will, charitable feeling, and concern for humanity, as expressed by Marshall himself in June 1947 in a speech delivered at Harvard University where he declared “It is logical that the United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.”

If only there had been more Marshalls in later years, the world would be a better place. Certainly, the United States would be in a position of international economic supremacy — but it wouldn’t have invaded and almost destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq and blitzed Libya into an even worse shambles than it created further east.

And as the U.S.-Nato military alliance staggers out of Afghanistan, defeated but grovelingly defiant, it should be giving thought to what has happened in that benighted country and planning for the future on the basis of what it has learned. The problem is that Nato doesn’t seem to have learned anything by its absurd foray, and is indeed intent on widening its horizons in order to attempt to justify its existence. The best lesson from Nato’s Afghanistan debacle (and its eight month bombing fandango that destroyed Libya’s economic infrastructure and encouraged home-basing of terrorist groups where none had formerly dared set a foot) is that it would be globally beneficial if Nato were to disband, but we have to be realistic and accept that common sense will not prevail in that regard.

Along the same lines, it would be sensible for Washington to objectively assess the value of the vast number of U.S. military bases around the globe, and inform U.S., openly and without qualifications or caveats, exactly what benefit their existence is supposed to offer to the U.S. and to the rest of the world. But again the signs are not good, as indicated on August 16 when an anonymous White House official spoke about a visit to Singapore and Vietnam by Vice President Kamala Harris and told the Washington Post that in spite of the concurrent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan she would continue with her trip because “Given our global leadership role, we can and we must manage developments in one region while simultaneously advancing our strategic interests in other regions on other issues. The United States has many interests around the world, and we are well-equipped to pursue them all at the same time.”

When will they ever learn?

Does President Biden genuinely believe that his Administration is “managing developments” in Afghanistan? Why is he determined to continue pursuing the supposed strategic interests of the U.S. by deploying increasing numbers of troops and ships and planes and missiles all round the globe to confront China and Russia and provoke them to react against the “global leader”?

The Washington establishment may have heard or read the latest pronouncement from the European Union concerning the wider effects of the Afghanistan debacle, but unfortunately it is unlikely it will prompt an objective analysis. On August 19 Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, affirmed to the European Parliament and the world at large that “this is a catastrophe… Let me speak clearly and bluntly: This is a catastrophe for the Afghan people, for Western values and credibility, and for the developing of international relations.”

What the rest of the world is waiting for is an alternative use of the word “reset” by the Administration in Washington. Instead of conducting another “reset” aimed at military domination and increasing confrontation with China and Russia, President Biden should reset in the Marshall mode and concentrate on forging amity and cooperation while combating the real enemies of humanity as a whole. An Economist/YouGov poll in early 2021 indicated that “Most Americans think of China and Russia as our country’s greatest enemies. Of the two, China is the most frequently mentioned threat, followed closely by Russia”, and it is disconcerting that the U.S. President appears to be making no effort whatever to reduce international tensions.

President Biden should reflect on the civilised declaration by General George Marshall that “our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos” and consider how much better a world he could help forge if he concentrated the mightiness of the United States against the challenges presented by so many desperate problems besetting the peoples of the world.

Imagine what a Marshall Plan could achieve today.

But it seems unlikely that the U.S. Administration will consider any such thing, and it is painfully evocative of the 1960s folk-song “Where have all the flowers gone” which contains the evocative phrase “When will they ever learn?” When, indeed?

News conference following Russian-German talks

August 20, 2021

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66418

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With Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel at a news conference following Russian-German talks. Photo: TASS

With Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel at a news conference following Russian-German talks. Photo: TASS

(The formal transcript is not fully released yet, but this page will be updated as it gets released.)

Update: The formal transcript is now complete on this page.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Today’s talks with Madam Federal Chancellor were traditionally constructive and business-like.

We had an in-depth discussion, including with the participation of the delegations, on the current state of Russian-German relations and their prospects and exchanged views on a wide range of issues.

As you are aware, this visit by Ms Merkel is special since she is about to step down as Federal Chancellor after the parliamentary elections in the Federal Republic in September. But I want to say right away that we will always be delighted to see Ms Merkel in Russia as a welcome guest.

The fact that Angela Merkel has been heading the government of the Federal Republic for as long as 16 years inspires respect. She has been leading one of the largest, leading European countries with confidence, and she is rightfully among the most authoritative European and world leaders.

Over many years of working side by side, we have developed a good business relationship. We maintained regular contacts and close communication, discussed pressing bilateral matters and strived to coordinate our positions on challenges of global politics.

Occasionally, of course, we saw thing differently, but our dialogue has always been candid and meaningful and was aimed at reaching compromises and solving the most complicated challenges.

Importantly, Germany is indeed one of Russia’s priority partners in politics and the economy.

Speaking about Russian-German trade and economic ties, I would like to note that despite the coronavirus pandemic, which remains a major hindrance to restoring our business contacts in full, mutual trade has begun to expand. In January-May, this figure reached almost 33 percent to exceed $21 billion. Counter capital investment has come close to the $30 billion mark.

Russian-German Economy and Sustainable Development years are being held in 2020–2022. Businesspeople and entrepreneurs of the two countries are communicating at numerous events held as part of this campaign, and a number of promising joint projects in trade, the manufacturing industry and agriculture are being discussed in the process.

We have major projects that everyone is aware of. They are being implemented, and we very much hope that we will have more of them.

Of course, many pressing issues of international politics were touched upon during today’s talks.

Due to the rapidly unfolding events in Afghanistan, we prioritised this issue. The Taliban now controls almost the entire territory of that country, including its capital. This is the reality, and we must proceed from this reality as we strive to avoid the collapse of the Afghan state.

It is imperative to put an end to the irresponsible policy of imposing outside values ​​on others, to the desire to build democracies in other countries according to other nations’ “patterns” without regard to historical, national or religious specifics and totally ignoring the traditions of other nations.

We know Afghanistan, and we know it well enough to understand how this country functions and have had the opportunity to learn first-hand the extent to which trying to impose unusual forms of government or social life on it is counterproductive.

There has not been a single time when socio-political experiments of this kind succeeded. All they do is destroy states and degrade their political and social fabric.

At the same time, we see that the Taliban has already put an end to hostilities and is now seeking to ensure order, promising to guarantee safety for both local residents and foreign missions. I hope that this is how things will go.

The international community should keep a close eye on these developments with the UN Security Council playing a coordinating role.

There is one more point I wanted to make in this regard. We believe that it is essential at this point to prevent terrorists of all kinds from spilling over into Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours, including under the guise of refugees.

Among other international topics, we had a detailed discussion on promoting a settlement in southeastern Ukraine. As you know, Ms Merkel has done a lot to bring about a resolution to Ukraine’s internal crisis. She was at the origins of the Normandy Format, and we all worked together on ways of restoring peace in Donbass.

Unfortunately, so far we have not been able to accomplish this. Today, the Russian and German side expressed serious concern about the growing tension along the line of contact. We talked this over, and I hope that we follow up on this conversation in the nearest future. More than a thousand ceasefire violations have been reported since the beginning of August, and Donbass towns and villages face artillery fire every day.

Another matter of concern is that Ukraine has adopted a number of laws and regulations that essentially contradict the Minsk agreements. It is as if the leadership of that country has decided to give up on achieving a peaceful settlement altogether. In this connection, we ask Ms Federal Chancellor once again to exercise her influence over Ukraine, including during her upcoming visit to Kiev, to see that Ukraine honours its obligations.

Of course, we covered the situation in Belarus. Madam Chancellor touched on this issue as well. We believe that the differences in Belarusian society can only be resolved within the constitutional and legal framework and solely by the Belarusians themselves without any external interference.

When discussing the situation with the Iranian nuclear programme, Madam Chancellor and I expressed hope that once the new government in Iran has been formed, vigorous efforts to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will resume. I informed Madam Federal Chancellor of my recent telephone conversation with the newly elected President of Iran.

As you are aware, Ms Merkel is committed to promoting an intra-Libyan settlement. Last January, I also took part in the Berlin Conference on Libya, which was convened on the initiative of Madam Chancellor, and the decisions it adopted helped improve the situation on the ground.

We believe that the international community should maintain a dialogue with all influential political forces in Libya in order to retain and build on the positive achievements that have yet to come.

We shared our vision of the state of affairs in Syria with our German partners. The ceasefire is in force throughout most of the country; the ruined economy and infrastructure are being rebuilt, but the terrorist threat still persists. Due to the illegal sanctions imposed on Damascus and the coronavirus pandemic, the socioeconomic situation there remains challenging.

We attach great importance to UN Security Council Resolution 2585, which was approved in July, on providing comprehensive humanitarian assistance to Syria. This is largely the outcome of the agreements reached during the Russia-US summit held in Geneva in June. We hope that the European countries, including the Federal Republic, will join in the efforts to help the Syrian people.

I would like to close by once again thanking Madam Federal Chancellor for our productive joint work – not only during today’s talks, but also during the previous years. I said it before, and I will say it again: we will always be delighted to see Ms Merkel in Russia.

Thank you.

Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel (retranslated)Thank you.

President Putin, dear Vladimir, ladies and gentlemen,

Earlier today, at the beginning of my visit, I laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to honour the memory of the fallen and as a reminder that 80 years ago Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union.

Today, we are very pleased to know that there is a dialogue going on between our governments, and our dialogue is constructive. Of course, we talked about different views and approaches to our joint decisions.

With regard to the nature of our bilateral relations, it is important to highlight a number of positive developments. I would like to mention economic relations, namely, the Year of Germany in Russia, which Mr President mentioned, during which a large number of meetings have taken place. In addition, there is an economic initiative involving the 1,000 Trainees project, which makes it possible for thousands of young Russians to take internships at German enterprises. These are the relationships that are very gratifying to have.

But, of course, we discussed the very depressing situation with Alexei Navalny. From our perspective, his sentence and imprisonment in a correctional facility were based on a court ruling that the ECHR found unobvious and disproportionate. This is unacceptable to us. I once again demanded that the President of Russia release Alexei Navalny and stressed that we would continue to monitor this case.

I also said that we are disappointed to see three German NGOs that have done a lot of work as part of the Petersburg Dialogue for cooperation between civil societies included on the list of objectionable organisations. I would like to know if it is possible to take these organisations off the list and to have the Petersburg Dialogue continue as before. From my perspective, this would send a very important message.

We also talked about bilateral economic relations, which are moving forward. In this regard, of course, we talked about Nord Stream 2. I would like to emphasise that this is not a bilateral German-Russian project, but a project of European dimension, because companies from other countries are also part of it.

In this context, we talked about the document concluded between the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany, and Mr President and I emphasised that Georg Graf Waldersee would act as a highly experienced negotiator with regard to gas transit through Ukraine beyond 2024. This is his assignment. We bear certain responsibility in this regard despite the economic developments that need to be taken into account.

In this context, we also discussed relations between Russia and the EU. It became clear that Russia is interested in entering an exchange with the EU on the “Fit for 55” climate package with account taken of cross-border carbon regulation and other problems. And I also noted that I am in favour of this approach.

Afghanistan was also among the current issues that we discussed today. This is a very important issue. We exchanged views, and I emphasised that it is very unfortunate that the Taliban are back in power in the country. However, this is how things stand. I also said that Germany believes helping people who had worked with Germany over the 20 years of NATO operations and missions in Afghanistan is currently a priority. We need to provide them refuge and ensure their safety in Germany and to take as many people as possible to Germany over the next few days.

I asked the Russian side to raise during the talks with the Taliban the question of UN humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, to make sure that it can be provided. The people who helped us, including those who assisted the Bundeswehr and the federal police, should be able to leave Afghanistan.

We also discussed developments in Ukraine. The Normandy Format is the only political framework we have for discussing these contentious issues. Currently the situation is in a deadlock. Unfortunately, Ukrainian service personnel are dying on the line of contact. I have always advocated reviving this format and giving it more weight. The last meeting was in December 2019, in Paris, and the goals we set back then were achieved both by the separatists in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, and by Ukraine.

I pointed out that I am ready to make further progress on this matter in the interest of the people of Ukraine, so that everyone can live in peace in Ukraine. This is what we stand for.

For us, the annexation of Crimea constitutes a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, we will insist on this point, and I will continue supporting Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Speaking of Belarus, I stated that I firmly condemn the use of people, refugees from other countries who find themselves in a dire situation, as a hybrid weapon of sorts. I am referring to the situation on the border between Belarus and Lithuania.

Of course, we discussed developments in Libya and Syria. On Libya, we need to implement the outcomes of the Libyan conference, which called for a proportionate and reciprocal withdrawal of foreign mercenaries, while empowering Libyan forces to shape a future for the country they want. On this issue, Germany and Russia have a number of points in common.

We also talked about the challenges posed by climate change. Both Germany and Russia have suffered from natural disasters. In Russia, Siberia, even north of the Arctic circle, was especially hard hit. For this reason alone, we are convinced that we need to fight climate change, which calls for close cooperation. The same applies to a number of other international matters.

I wanted to say that over the past 16 years I have been to Russia 16 times, which is to say that I was open to contact. Talks between us have not always been easy. There has been a lot of debate and controversy around them, including on the international stage, but I always sought compromise. I think that there is no alternative, at least no reasonable one, to dialogue and the exchange of opinion. This invariably requires a lot of work. Everything could have been a lot easier, but our dialogue should continue. I have no doubts about this.

Thank you.

Question (retranslated): Madam Chancellor, you said you spoke in support of Alexei Navalny and in favour of his release today. Here is a question for you, President Putin: what is needed to set Alexei Navalny free and what is needed to put an end to the persecution of Alexei Navalny’s supporters?

And a question for both of you. Today is the anniversary of the attempted poisoning of Alexei Navalny. He published an article in which he demands fighting corruption, since it is the root of all evil. What do you think about this proposal, Mr Putin? For example, he demands imposing sanctions on the oligarchs that are close to you.

Vladimir Putin: With regard to the person you just mentioned, he was not convicted for his political activities, but a criminal offense against foreign partners.

As far as political activity goes, no one should be using political activity as a front to carry out business projects, which, on top of that, violate the law. This is the first part of what I have to say to your question.

Second, with regard to non-systemic opposition in general. I don’t remember seeing in Western countries, Europe or the United States – Occupy Wall Street in the United States or the Yellow Vests in France – these people enjoying much support on their way to representative bodies, including parliament. We do not see anything like that. Moreover, when, following the US elections, people entered Congress with political demands, more than 100 criminal cases were brought against them. And judging by the charges brought against them, they are facing long prison terms anywhere from 15 to 20–25 years, maybe even more. To be completely objective, please pay attention to this side of the problem as well.

As for us, our political system is evolving, and all citizens of the Russian Federation have the right to express their opinions on political issues, form political organisations, and participate in elections of all levels. However, this must be done within the limits of applicable law and the Constitution. We will do our best to keep the situation in Russia stable and predictable. Russia exhausted its limit on revolutions back in the 20th century. We do not want revolutions. What we want is evolutionary development of our society and state. I hope that this will be so. As for the decision of the judicial authorities of the Russian Federation, please treat these decisions with respect.

Fighting corruption is critically important, but it should not be used as a tool in a political struggle. We, as well as you, are well aware that this toolkit is used to achieve political goals and is recommended for achieving political goals by the organisations that are in charge of activities by people of this kind. Indeed, fighting corruption is critically important in and of itself, and it is our top priority, and we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to eradicate corruption in the broadest sense of the word.

Angela Merkel: I would like to emphasise that we have talked at length about the way we understand political systems and freedoms. I believe that the questions of good governance and fighting corruption are actually entwined.

Regarding Alexei Navalny’s call for more sanctions, I would like to say that today the European Union imposes sanctions in the face of the relevant facts but linking economic corruption to sanctions is never easy. Still, within the European Union we believe in the need to discuss these matters, since there is a genuine link between corruption and political activity, no matter where it takes place. This includes Germany, I believe. Fighting corruption requires independent courts, a free press, as well as non-profit organisations that refuse to play along.

Vladimir Putin: Overall, who should be fighting corruption? People who fully abide by the law themselves. This is an essential prerequisite for ensuring that these efforts are effective.

Question: Taking into consideration the ongoing developments in Afghanistan, what is your assessment of the 20-year operation by the US and its allies and its outcome? Can this be called a total failure and will it result in the US-led West to rethink its approach to imposing democracy on third countries?

I also have a question or rather a request for Madam Chancellor. You probably know that RT is preparing to launch a German-language channel, but unfortunately, the German authorities are doing everything they can to obstruct this project. First, the German banks were advised to close all RT accounts and not to open new ones. Now the German government is pressuring Luxembourg not to issue RT a broadcasting licence, and everyone knows this since the German media have been reporting on this issue.

Madam Federal Chancellor, please, help us enjoy freedom of expression.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Regarding the operation in Afghanistan, it can hardly be described as a success. Quite the contrary, but concentrating on it for too long, emphasising this failure does not serve our interests.

We were interested in having stability in this country. But the situation is what it is. I think that many politicians in the West are beginning to realise what I just said in my opening remarks: you cannot impose political standards or behaviour on other countries and peoples, while ignoring their special nature, which includes the ethnic and religious structure and historical traditions. I think that eventually they will understand this, and this understanding will become the guiding principle in their realpolitik.

We saw what happened during the Arab Spring, now Afghanistan. However, it is important for our partners to make this rule universal and treat their partners with respect and be patient, whether they like something or not, they should still give these peoples the right to determine their future, no matter how long it may take them to bring democracy to their countries and regardless if they like what is happening in these countries or not. They must build neighbourly relations and respect each other’s interests in the international arena.

I think that this is the lesson we should learn from Afghanistan, and we should team up with our other partners – the United States and the European countries – we, that is Russia, must do whatever it takes to join our efforts today in order to support the Afghan people with the aim of normalising the situation in that country and establishing neighbourly relations with it.

Angela Merkel: With regard to Afghanistan, I would like to remind everyone about the starting point – the 9/11 attacks 20 years ago, in 2001. Back then, terrorist attacks on the United States were masterminded from Afghanistan. This started the fight against terrorism followed by NATO operations and missions.

The situation with terrorism in Afghanistan has improved since then, but the international community must fight the resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan. With regard to the other project, that is, the Afghan people’s overall stance regarding their own future, we failed to achieve our goals; I am openly admitting this.

In December 2001, [German] Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer convened a conference with all Afghan representatives at the Petersberg hotel and urged Afghans to find a common shared solution. While trying to cooperate for development, we did not want to impose our position on the Afghan people, but we saw millions of happy girls who were allowed to go to school and empowered women. Many people find the current situation upsetting. However, it should be noted that the Taliban received more support than we would like. We will now need to talk with them and try to save the lives of the people who are now in harm’s way so they can leave the country, and we can continue to work for the benefit of Afghanistan.

It would be disappointing to see progress in these areas taper off. I hope we will find entities that can help Afghanistan find a path of its own, and that we will not be exposed to the threat of international terrorism.

As for RT, Germany did not put any pressure on Brussels or the decisions it made. In Germany, neither the federal government nor the state governments engage in matters like that.

Question (retranslated): Madam Federal Chancellor, the Minsk agreements are 6 years old now, but Ukraine remains divided, and you yourself said that people along the demarcation line in Donbass are dying. Following your talks today, are there any concrete plans to hold new talks at the heads of state or government level, or should we conclude that the Normandy format has failed?

And a question for you, Mr President. Once the Nord Stream 2 is completed, can you guarantee that gas transit across Ukraine will remain in place, and if so, will this arrangement remain in force after Ms Merkel leaves the post of chancellor?

Angela Merkel: With regard to the Minsk agreements: we have failed to achieve the goals that we wanted to achieve. But this is the format we have, including the trilateral contact group, and talks with the separatists in Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

So, this format needs to be handled with care, but progress is not as good as I would like it to be. However, if we identify an agenda, we can make arrangements for high-level meetings and talks. But we need to know what to discuss. During my visit to Ukraine, I will be pushing for identifying this agenda, because any minor progress can be decisive. However, this represents a very ambitious goal and a very challenging task. There are many inputs here. I still recommend this format, even though it is taking more time than we wanted, but we still need to avoid a dead end.

Vladimir Putin: I agree with the Federal Chancellor regarding the Minsk agreements and the Normandy format. We have no other tool to achieve peace, and I believe that it should be treated very carefully and with respect, despite the fact that we have so far failed to achieve the ultimate goals of the settlement.

The Minsk agreements are enshrined in a corresponding UN Security Council resolution, and in this sense, the Minsk agreements have become international law.

We are concerned that during the official talks and in their contacts with the media, the Ukrainian side says one thing, but inside the country it says something very different. In fact, and I want to emphasise this, it is enough to look at what the top public officials are saying, and they are saying that they are not going to comply with the Minsk agreements.

Today, I informed the Federal Chancellor that another draft law has been submitted by the Ukrainian government. If this law is adopted – please read it, it is not a classified document, it is probably available online – it means that Ukraine will, in fact, withdraw from the Minsk process unilaterally. Because it is not just that only certain things contradict the Minsk agreements, everything there contradicts the Minsk agreements. This will mean Ukraine’s de facto withdrawal from these agreements. I hope that during her visit, the Federal Chancellor will use some of her influence and exert some pressure on the Ukrainian authorities, and that this law will not be adopted.

Now, with regard to gas transit. Indeed, the Federal Chancellor has always advocated this approach. Always, mind you, even during construction, which is about to be completed. There are 44 or 45 kilometres left to go. (Addressing Alexei Miller.) How many, Mr Miller? 15? There are 15 more kilometres across the sea to go. We can safely assume that this project is nearing completion. But the Federal Chancellor has always raised the issue of continuing transit across Ukrainian territory even after the expiry of the transit contract.

The first thing I want to say in this regard. First, today this issue was raised again by the Federal Chancellor during the talks. I assured the Federal Chancellor that we will fully comply with our obligations under the transit contract even after she leaves the office of Federal Chancellor. Russia will fulfil all its obligations. We are doing so now and we will continue to do so going forward.

Next, Nord Stream 2. Some people claim the project is politically motivated. This is a fallacy or an attempt to mislead people. It is 2,000 kilometres shorter than the Ukrainian transit route. And it is a modern environmentally friendly system, and I mean it. It uses innovative equipment which, I believe, cuts carbon emissions into the atmosphere during the transit of our hydrocarbons to Europe by five times. We just need to be aware of it and know it. And it is much cheaper than transit across Ukraine.

However, we stand ready, and I’ll say it again, I have already said it publicly before and I want to make a point of it now, that we stand ready to transit gas across Ukraine beyond 2024. But we must understand the timeframe and volumes. And for this, we must know, and our European partners must tell us, how much they are willing to buy from us. This is obvious.

We cannot sign a transit contract if we have not signed supply contracts with our consumers in Europe. With the green agenda, which is already underway in Europe, we are wondering whether anyone will be buying gas from us altogether and, if so, how much. This needs to be discussed.

In any case, this is a purely business matter. I mean there is yet another component that is the technical condition of the pipeline system. To reiterate, we are not only willing to discuss this, we are really willing to get there. This is especially true of our supplies to Southern Europe. Consumption is on the rise, and I hope it will keep rising in the years ahead. Today, there is no other, more reliable source than Russian gas for German and other European consumers.

Question: Mr President, Ms Merkel,

You have been in close contact during the past 16 years: you have met and have spoken by phone. There have been ups and downs in relations between Russia and Germany during those 16 years. In general, what is your appraisal of the results achieved over 16 years and what is your vision of the future of Russian-German relations?

Vladimir Putin: The question is not quite pertinent. I would rather not appraise the performance of the Federal Chancellor, as only the German people can do this, including at the upcoming elections to the Bundestag.

Indeed, our relations have lived through different times. We just noted that we have taken different approaches to assessing various situations. Nevertheless, cooperation between us over these years, despite the difficulties we faced throughout this fairly lengthy period, has expanded and become more diverse.

Today, we talked about the economic aspect [of our relations]. The Federal Republic is our second largest trade and economic partner next to China – over $7 billion… We invested about $7.5 billion – it is even $9.5 billion – in Germany, while our German partners invested $18 billion [in our economy]. Importantly, German companies largely operate in the industrial sector. We appreciate this.

Today, Madam Chancellor put forth some concrete questions in connection with – I understand this, as I do the same on our behalf – the need to safeguard the interests of German businesses in the Russian market. This has to do with the level of domestic content and the like. All these are current issues. Generally, the quality of our relations has changed fundamentally, getting, of course, better. Hopefully, after the elections and the change of government, this trend will remain in place.

Angela Merkel: I believe that, despite different political systems, we need to keep communications channels open and exchange opinions. This is evidenced by the global situation and the history of relations between Germany and Russia. Our countries have lived through different periods, some of them terrible and some very pleasant.

Of course, during my term as chancellor, the political systems in our two countries have developed in different directions, so there are some vital matters that need to be discussed. All these differences notwithstanding, we have always managed to keep the negotiating channel open. I hope I have managed to contribute to this. I will always say that a failure to maintain dialogue is a poor choice.

After Egypt, will Erdogan lose Tunisia and then Libya?

ARABI SOURI 

Turkish madman president Erdogan leader of Muslim Brotherhood Turkey Tunisia Egypt Sudan Qatar Syria Lebanon Libya

Erdogan will not easily accept a second loss after the failure of his plan in Egypt, which may push him to maneuver and tactics in Tunisia.

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The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

With the difference between the “Brotherhood” of Egypt and the “Ennahda” of Tunisia, Ankara did not delay in responding to the positions of Tunisian President Kais Saied, and considered it “a coup against democracy and the will of the Tunisian people,” forgetting that these people elected Saied by 73% compared to 12% for the Ennahda candidate in the October 2019 elections.

With the noticeable decline in the tone of the attack, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attempts to calm down with President Saied through the mediation of Qatari Emir Tamim Al Thani, who called the Tunisian President (a day later the Saudi Foreign Minister traveled to Tunisia), everyone knows that Erdogan does not, and will not easily accept a loss again after losing Egypt.

Which may push him to maneuver and tactics (with statements by Ghannouchi, who admitted his party’s mistakes, and his willingness to dialogue with President Saied) after the failure of his plan in Egypt, ideologically, politically, and historically, when Sisi overthrew the “Brotherhood” Mohamed Morsi (in Egypt) on July 3, 2013, and then the military overthrew his ally Omar al-Bashir (in Sudan) in April 2019.

This explains the signs and messages sent by President Erdogan, eight years after the coup, for reconciliation with Sisi, who stipulated for this to stop all kinds of support for the “Brotherhood” and to stop interfering in the affairs of Arab countries, and this means first of all Libya, the neighboring country of both Egypt and Tunisia.

Everyone remembers the reactions of the Tunisian opposition to the secret visit paid by Rashid Ghannouchi to Istanbul on January 10, 2020, and his meeting with President Erdogan (a day before Fayez Al-Sarraj’s visit to Istanbul) without informing the Tunisian Parliament and President of the Republic Kais Saied of his visit in advance. The visit was the beginning of the dispute between Saied and Ghannouchi, who took positions in support of Erdogan’s policies in Libya, in exchange for a different position from President Saied, who is known for his nationalist positions.

The Tunisian opposition parties and forces at the time accused Ghannouchi and the leaders of “Ennahda” of obtaining financial support from Ankara and accused it of leaking information related to national security to foreign countries, and it meant Turkey and Qatar, the two countries that embrace all political Islam movements, support and finance them, civilly and militarily, especially after what It has been called the “Arab Spring”, which makes Tunisia’s developments more important to President Erdogan and his Qatari ally, Prince Tamim, and they coordinate together against Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and with them Egypt.

It seems clear that Egypt is very happy with what President Saied has done, this, of course, if it was not in advance in the picture of preparations to get rid of Ennahda and the effects of its rule over Tunisia over the past ten years, even if through weak alliances with other parties that Ennahda exploited to achieve its secret and public goals, including the travel of thousands of Tunisian youths to Turkey and from there to Syria to fight in the ranks of terrorist factions, including “ISIS” and “Al-Nusra” and the like. This is the case of thousands of citizens of other Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, when it was in the same trench with other Arab countries and Turkey to fight against the Syrian state, which is still a target for all regional moves, including Tunisia’s developments and their possible results.

The Gulf regimes rushed to provide billions of dollars in aid to President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi after his overthrow of the “Brotherhood” to prevent him from rapprochement with Damascus, especially since Riyadh, Manama, and Abu Dhabi declared the “Brotherhood” a terrorist organization, without this announcement preventing them from continuing coordination and cooperation with Doha. And Ankara to support the armed Brotherhood factions in Syria until June 2017, when these capitals, along with Cairo, severed diplomatic relations with Doha. The response came quickly from President Erdogan, who sent his army to Qatar to protect it from its Gulf sisters, and its tales are no less exciting than the tales of “One Thousand and One Nights.” Despite the Qatari reconciliation with Cairo, and Prince Tamim’s efforts to mediate between Sisi and Erdogan, the dispute between Doha and Abu Dhabi continues, and until Riyadh resolves its final position on this dispute, i.e. personal competition, and before that it was between the “young men” Mohammed bin Salman and Tamim Al Thani and they are all orbiting in the American orbit.

Although it is still too early to talk about the possible results of what President Kais Saied, who is backed by the army and security forces, did and will do, everyone knows that limiting the role of “Ennahda” and removing it from power will be reflected in one way or another on the potential developments in Libya, through the continuation of reconciliation efforts, with or without it. The armed factions, moderate and extremist, are all under the Turkish umbrella, and are closely monitoring the situation in Tunisia because repeating Egypt’s experience there will put these factions in the jaws of the Egyptian-Tunisian alliance, and it will be supported by European countries, the most important of which are France and Greece, and later from other countries that do not hide its annoyance with President Erdogan’s statements and actions of a religious and historical nationalist, ie Ottoman, character.

In this context, everyone knows that the practical successes that President Kais Saied and his political and military team will achieve in the way of quickly addressing Tunisia’s health, economic, financial and social crises which will determine the course of the next stage, and its repercussions on all regional and international accounts.

As was the case after Al-Sisi’s coup in 2013, most Western capitals, led by Washington, made phone calls to President Saied, and assured him, in quite similar terms, “the need to respect the constitution and constitutional institutions, the rule of law, to remain calm, and to avoid any resort to violence, in order to preserve the stability of the country,” without it occurring in the minds of these capitals to direct any criticism of the Gulf regimes, whose countries lack even constitutions, and where democracy has no place of expression, politically, socially and morally. Nor did the aforementioned capitals take any practical positions against President Erdogan, who took advantage of the failed coup on July 15, 2016, to get rid of all his enemies and opponents, and established an “authoritarian regime”, and this quote is of President Biden, before he became president at the end of 2019, also these aforementioned capitals did not make any move when Erdogan, in April 2017, changed the constitution and took control of all state agencies, facilities, and institutions, saying that he “derived his powers from the constitution,” which President Kais Saied said, with significant differences in content, performance, goals, and results.

In the end, the judgment remains for the Tunisian people, in all their categories, because it is they who will decide the fate of their country which seems that it was and still is an arena for hidden and open conflicts, as is the case in Libya, and to a lesser extent in Algeria and Sudan, and it is close to the arenas in which ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and similar groups are active in Mali, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia. and Burkina Faso, for which the imperialist and colonial countries are drawing up a number of plans.

Ankara, in turn, established wide and varied relations with these countries after it opened its embassies in 45 African countries, President Erdogan visited a large number of them, in an attempt to compete with the traditional French, Italian, and other traditional European colonial roles, and he says, “His country did not colonize any of these countries.”

All this comes with accusations by the Turkish opposition to President Erdogan of “pursuing expansionist policies, militarily, politically, economically and intelligence,” not only in Arab and African geography but even in the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia, “and where the Ottomans set foot,” as President Erdogan himself said. The past ten years have proven that he is serious about this issue, otherwise, the situation in Tunisia, and before that Egypt, would not be among his interests, and because defeat there would mean a retreat in other locations, foremost of which is Libya, and then Syria, from which it was the beginning, and with its loss, Erdogan loses Turkey.

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بعد مصر.. هل يخسر إردوغان تونس ثم ليبيا؟

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لمصدر: الميادين نت

حسني محلي ا

إردوغان لن يتقبّل بسهولة خسارة ثانية بعد فشل مخططه في مصر وهو ما قد يدفعه إلى المناورة والتكتيك في تونس.

مع الفارق بين “إخوان” مصر و”نهضة” تونس، لم تتأخر أنقرة في الردّ على مواقف الرئيس التونسي قيس سعيّد، واعتبرتها “انقلاباً على الديمقراطية وإرادة الشعب التونسي”، ناسية أن هذا الشعب انتخب سعيد بنسبة 73٪ في مقابل 12٪ لمرشح “النهضة” في انتخابات تشرين الأول/أكتوبر 2019. 

الحد من دور “حركة النهضة” وإبعادَها عن السلطة سينعكسان بصورة أو بأخرى على التطورات المحتملة في ليبيا

ومع التراجع الملحوظ في لهجة الهجوم، ومحاولات الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان التهدئة مع الرئيس سعيد عبر وساطة الأمير القطري تميم آل ثاني، الذي اتّصل بالرئيس التونسي (بعدها بيوم سافر وزير الخارجية السعودي إلى تونس)، فالجميع يعرف أن إردوغان لا، ولن يتقبّل بسهولة خسارة ثانية بعد خسارة مصر. 

وهو ما قد يدفعه إلى المناورة والتكتيك (مع تصريحات الغنوشي الذي اعترف بارتكاب حزبه الأخطاء، واستعداده للحوار مع الرئيس سعيد) بعد فشل مخططه في مصر، عقائدياً وسياسياً وتاريخياً، عندما أطاح السيسي “الإخوَنجيَّ” محمد مرسي في 3 تموز/يوليو 2013، ثم أطاح العسكر حليفَه عمر البشير في نيسان/أبريل 2019. 

ويفسّر ذلك الإشارات والرسائل التي بعثها الرئيس إردوغان بعد ثماني سنوات من الانقلاب، من أجل المصالحة مع السيسي، الذي اشترط من أجل ذلك وقف كل أنواع الدعم لـ”الإخوان”، والكفّ عن التدخل في شؤون الدول العربية، والمقصود بذلك أولاً ليبيا، البلد الجار لكل من مصر وتونس. 

فالجميع يتذكر ردود فعل المعارضة التونسية على الزيارة السرية التي قام بها راشد الغنوشي لإسطنبول في 10 كانون الثاني/يناير 2020، ولقائه الرئيس إردوغان (قبل يوم من زيارة فايز السراج لإسطنبول) ومن دون أن يبلغ إلى البرلمان التونسي ورئيس الجمهورية قيس سعيد بزيارتَه مسبّقاً. وكانت الزيارة بداية الخلاف بين سعيد والغنوشي الذي اتَّخذ مواقف مؤيدة لسياسات إردوغان في ليبيا في مقابل موقف مغاير من الرئيس سعيد المعروف بمواقفه القومية. 

واتهمت أحزاب المعارضة التونسية وقواها آنذاك الغنوشي وقيادات “النهضة” بالحصول على دعم مالي من أنقرة، كما اتهمتها بتسريب معلومات تخصّ الأمن الوطني إلى دول أجنبية، والمقصود بها تركيا وقطر، البلدين اللذين يحتضنان كل حركات الإسلام السياسي ويدعمانها ويموّلانها، مدنياً وعسكرياً، وخصوصاً بعد ما سُمّي “الربيع العربي”، وهو ما يجعل تطورات تونس أكثرَ أهمية بالنسبة إلى الرئيس إردوغان وحليفه القطري الأمير تميم، وينسّقان معاً ضد السعودية والإمارات ومعهما مصر. 

ويبدو واضحاً أن مصر سعيدة جداً بما قام به الرئيس سعيد، هذا بالطبع إن لم تكن مسبقاً في صورة التحضيرات للتخلص من “النهضة” و آثار حكمها لتونس طوال السنوات العشر الماضية، ولو عبر التحالفات الضعيفة مع أحزاب أخرى استغلتها “النهضة” لتحقيق أهدافها السرية والعلنية، بما في ذلك سفر الآلاف من الشبان التونسيين إلى تركيا ومنها إلى سوريا للقتال في صفوف الفصائل الإرهابية، ومنها “داعش” و”النصرة” وأمثالهما. وهو حال الآلاف من مواطني الدول العربية الأخرى، وفي مقدمتها السعودية، عندما كانت في خندق واحد مع سائر الدول العربية وتركيا للقتال ضد الدولة السورية، التي ما زالت هدفاً لكل التحركات الإقليمية، بما فيها تطورات تونس ونتائجها المحتملة. 

لقد استعجلت أنظمة الخليج تقديم مليارات الدولارات من المساعدات إلى الرئيس عبدالفتاح السيسي بعد إطاحته “الإخوان” لمنعه من التقارب مع دمشق، وخصوصاً أن الرياض والمنامة وأبو ظبي أعلنت “الإخوان” تنظيماً إرهابياً، ومن دون أن يمنعها هذا الإعلان من الاستمرار في التنسيق والتعاون مع الدوحة وأنقرة لدعم الفصائل الإخوانية المسلحة في سوريا حتى حزيران/يونيو 2017 عندما قطعت هذه العواصم، ومعها القاهرة، علاقاتها الدبلوماسية بالدوحة. وجاء الرد سريعاً من الرئيس إردوغان، الذي أرسل جيشه إلى قطر لحمايتها من شقيقاتها الخليجية، وحكاياتها ليست أقل إثارة من حكايات “ألف ليلة وليلة”. فعلى الرغم من المصالحة القطرية مع القاهرة، ومساعي الأمير تميم للوساطة بين السيسي وإردوغان، فإن الخلاف بين الدوحة وأبو ظبي ما زال مستمراً، وإلى أن تحسم الرياض موقفها النهائي حيال هذا الخلاف، أي المنافسة الشخصية، وكانت قبلها بين “الشابين” محمد بن سلمان وتميم آل ثاني، وهم جميعاً يدورون في الفلك الأميركي.

ومع أن الوقت ما زال مبكّراً للحديث عن النتائج المحتمَلة لما قام وسيقوم به الرئيس قيس سعيد، المدعوم من الجيش والقوى الأمنية، فالجميع يعرف أن الحد من دور “النهضة” وإبعادَها عن السلطة سينعكسان بصورة أو بأخرى على التطورات المحتملة في ليبيا، عبر استمرار مساعي المصالحة فيها، أو من دون ذلك. فالفصائل المسلحة، المعتدلة منها والمتطرفة، هي جميعاً تحت المظلة التركية، وتراقب الوضع عن كثب في تونس، لأن تكرار تجربة مصر هناك سيضع هذه الفصائل بين فكَّي التحالف المصري – التونسي، وسيكون مدعوماً من دول أوروبية، أهمها فرنسا واليونان، ولاحقاً من دول أخرى لا تُخفي انزعاجها من مقولات الرئيس إردوغان وتصرفاته ذات الطابعَين الديني والقومي التاريخي، أي العثماني.

وفي السياق، يعرف الجميع أن ما سيحقّقه الرئيس قيس سعيد وفريقه السياسي والعسكري من نجاحات عملية في طريق المعالجة السريعة لأزمات تونس الصحية والاقتصادية والمالية والاجتماعية، هو الذي سيحدّد مسار المرحلة المقبلة، وانعكاساتها على مجمل الحسابات الإقليمية والدولية.

فكما كان الوضع عليه بعد انقلاب السيسي عام 2013، أجرت أغلبية العواصم الغربية، وفي مقدمتها واشنطن، اتصالات هاتفية بالرئيس سعيد، وأكدت له، في عبارات متشابهة تماماً، “ضرورة احترام الدستور والمؤسسات الدستورية، وسيادة القانون، والتحلي بالهدوء، وتجنّب أيّ لجوء إلى العنف، حفاظاً على استقرار البلاد”، من دون أن يخطر في بال هذه العواصم أن توجّه أيّ انتقاد إلى أنظمة الخليج، التي تفتقر دولها حتى إلى الدساتير، وليس للديمقراطية فيها أي مكان من الإعراب، سياسياً واجتماعياً وأخلاقياً. كما لم تتخذ العواصم المذكورة أي مواقف عملية ضد الرئيس إردوغان، الذي استغل الانقلاب الفاشل في 15 تموز/يوليو 2016 فتخلص من جميع أعدائه ومعارضيه، وأقام “نظاماً استبدادياً”، والقول للرئيس بايدن، قبل أن يصبح رئيساً نهاية عام 2019. كما لم تحرّك العواصم المذكورة ساكناً عندما قام إردوغان، في نيسان/أبريل 2017، بتغيير الدستور، وسيطر على جميع أجهزة الدولة ومرافقها ومؤسساتها، قائلا إنه “استمدّ صلاحياته من الدستور”، وهو ما قاله الرئيس قيس سعيد، مع فوارق كبيرة في المضمون والأداء والأهداف والنتائج.

يبقى الحكم في النهاية للشعب التونسي، في كل فئاته، لأنه هو الذي سيقرر مصير بلاده. ويبدو أنها كانت وما زالت ساحة للصراعات الخفية والمكشوفة، كما هي الحال في ليبيا، وبنِسَب أقل في الجزائر والسودان، وهي قريبة من الساحات التي تنشط فيها “داعش” و”القاعدة” و”بوكو حرام”، ومجموعات مماثلة في مالي وتشاد والنيجر ونيجيريا والصومال وبوركينا فاسو، التي تضع من أجلها الدول الإمبريالية والاستعمارية عدداً من الخطط. 

أقامت أنقرة بدورها علاقات واسعة ومتنوعة بهذه الدول بعد أن افتتحت سفاراتها في 45 دولة أفريقية، وزار الرئيس إردوغان عدداً كبيراً منها، في محاولة منه لمنافسة الأدوار الفرنسية والإيطالية والأوروبية الاستعمارية التقليدية، وهو يقول “إن بلاده لم تستعمر أياً من هذه الدول”.

يأتي كل ذلك مع اتهامات المعارضة التركية للرئيس إردوغان بـ”انتهاج سياسات توسُّعية، عسكرياً وسياسياً واقتصادياً واستخبارياً”، ليس فقط في الجغرافيا العربية والأفريقية، بل حتى في البلقان والقوقاز وآسيا الوسطى، “وحيث وطئت أقدام العثمانيين”، والقول للرئيس إردوغان نفسه. وأثبت السنوات العشر الماضية أنه جادّ في هذا الموضوع، وإلاّ لَما كان الوضع في تونس، وقبلها مصر، ضمن اهتماماته، ولأن الهزيمة هناك ستعني التراجع في مواقع أخرى، وفي مقدمتها ليبيا، ثم سوريا، التي كانت منها البداية، وبخسارتها يخسر إردوغان تركيا. 

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تونس: يكفي إعادة التوازن للحياة العامة

31 تموز 2021

 ناصر قنديل

غالباً ما تخفي المواقف المبالغة برفع السقوف لتبرير السلبية دفاعاً عن ضفة سياسية يصعب تبنيها علناً، كمن يشترط لدعم موقف سورية بوجه العدوان المتكرر لجيش الاحتلال أن تقوم بالرد القاسي على كل مرة تتعرّض للعدوان، ويكون هو فعلياً بذلك يريد مساندة العدوان ولا يجرؤ، أو انه يدعم الجماعات الإرهابية المناوئة للدولة السورية، ويعلم ان احد اهداف الاعتداءات على الجيش السوري تخفيف الضغط على هذه الجماعات، لكنه يعبر عن دعمه لهذه الجماعات بهذه الطريقة التي تكمل أهداف العدوان، مَن يقول إنه مع مقاومة حزب الله شرط أن تبدأ من جنوب لبنان بتحرير فلسطين، تحت شعار ما قيمة السلاح والمقدسات تنتهك والقدس تهوّد والشعب الفلسطيني محاصر ويتعرّض كل يوم لعدوان جديد، وهو يرى بأم العين الجيوش العربية المصطفة بكل أسلحتها لا تكتفي بعدم تحريك ساكن لدعم فلسطين وشعبها، بل تنسّق مع الاحتلال، وتشارك في محاصرة الفلسطينيين وملاحقة المقاومين، ولا يأتي على سيرة هذه الجيوش بكلمة مركزاً اشتراطاته على المقاومة، وهذا لا يريد إلا أن يصرف النظر عن القضية الحقيقية التي تستعد لها المقاومة، شيطنة كل أمل بتغيير موازينها.

فيما تشهده تونس هذه الأيام وسط مشهد إقليمي دولي معقد، حيث لا يمكن فصل الواقع التونسي عن واقع الجغرافيا السياسية المحيطة بتونس من جهة ليبيا ومسارات الحرب فيها، او جهة المغرب ومسارات التطبيع فيه، أو جهة الجزائر والأطماع الدولية لتطويعها، وليس خافياً أن قطبي التجاذب في هذا المثلث هما تركيا وقطر من جهة ومصر وفرنسا والإمارات من جهة مقابلة، وفي تونس مسار سنوات من سيطرة الأخوان المسلمين على الحكم ومؤسسات الدولة، بحضور نيابي فشل في الدورة الأخيرة بتحقيق النتائج المرجوة، وفشل في الانتخابات الرئاسية في بلوغ الهدف، وأظهر الشعب التونسي الذي لا يملك أحزاباً ومرشحين لتشكيل أغلبية نيابية بوجه الأخوان تعبيراً عن رفضه لمشروعهم، عبر الإنتخابات الرئاسية مكانة الأغلبية الشعبية المناوئة للأخوان، عبر الفوز الساحق للرئيس قيس سعيد بأكثر من 70% من أصوات التونسيين.

خلال سنوات سيطرة الأخوان، تحوّلت تونس الى امتداد لجبهات الحرب الليبية إسناداً للدور التركي العسكري الذي ينال من السيادة الليبية ويعقد فرص الحل السياسي فيها، ويشكّل حاضنة للجماعات الإرهابية أسوة بما يفعله في سورية، كما حوّلت هذه السيطرة تونس الى ظهير حماية للتطبيع المغربي مع كيان الاحتلال حيث حكومة الإخوان في الحكم، وحوّلت هذه السيطرة تونس الى قاعدة لتصدير الإرهابيين الى المنطقة وسورية خصوصاً، ولم يعُد خافياً الدور الذي لعبه الأخوان في فرض مناخات إرهابية على الحياة السياسيّة والحريات والمنافسة الديمقراطيّة في تونس مع اغتيال رموز العملية الديمقراطيّة التي مثلها قادة مثل محمد البراهمي وشكري بلعيد، وتغوّلت سيطرة الأخوان على مؤسسات الدولة التونسية وعائداتها المالية، بصورة جعلت حصول المواطنين على الخدمات المستحقة من مؤسسات الدولة مشروطة بالمرور عبر مؤسسات الأخوان، وما أزمة تفشي كورونا والفشل في مواجهتها الا بنتيجة لهذه المعادلة.

الذي فعله الرئيس التونسي قيس سعيّد هو توظيف كل هذه التوازنات الخارجية والداخلية، ومن استعداد الجيش والقوى الأمنية والمؤسسات القضائية للتحرك، بفعل تهميشها من جهة وتشجيعها من المناوئين لدور الأخوان ومرجعيتهم الإقليمية من جهة موازية، وذلك لفرض واقع جديد يحرر الدولة التونسية ومؤسساتها الخدمية والإعلامية والإدارية والتربوية والصحية من سيطرة الاخوان، وفرض واقع أمني ينهي قدرتهم على فرض معايير الرعب السياسي على الخصوم والمنافسين، وانهاض دور مؤسسات الأمن والقضاء، بصورة تتيح استرداد التوازن الى المعادلة الداخلية، والتوازن الى موقع تونس الاقليمي والدولي.

الذين يريدون تصنيف حركة الرئيس التونسي في خانة تنفيذ اجندة إماراتية تهدف للتطبيع او أجندة فرنسية تهدف لمحاصرة الجزائر أو اجندة مصرية تهدف لتوظيف تونس في المعادلة الليبية، يتنكّرون لمواقف الرئيس قيس سعيّد من التطبيع ومن الاستعمار الفرنسي ومن تورط تونس في الحرب الليبية، ويخفون بانتقاداتهم تأييدهم لهيمنة الاخوان على الدولة التونسية وتحويلها الى قاعدة يحتاجها الأتراك الذين ليسوا أبعد من المطبعين العرب عن التطبيع، وببساطة تستطيع أن تكون مع الرئيس قيس سعيد وأن تدين تطبيع الإمارات وتحذر من خطورته وأن تبقى بصوت مرتفع بوجه المشروع الاستعماري الفرنسي وان لا تتطابق مع السياسات المصرية وأنت تؤيدها بوجه مخاطر حرب المياه الإثيوبية وتعارضها في أدائها على حدود غزة، إن كنتم صادقين!

للذين لا يعرفون تونس يجب لفت الانتباه إلى أن في تونس حالة فريدة عربياً يمثلها الاتحاد العام التونسي للشغل، وهو أوسع إطار شعبي منظم له عراقة النقابات التاريخية، ومبادئ وطنية وقومية تحررية ثابتة تشكل ميراثه وثوابته، بالتمسك بالاستقلال وفلسطين والعروبة والديمقراطية، وهو صمام أمان هذه العناوين الأربعة عندما تتهدّدها الرياح.

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Russia in the Middle East: From Arms to Mercenaries

BY ANTON MARDASOV

May 10, 2021

Russian military vehicles drive on the road as Russia makes a new military and logistic reinforcement of 30 vehicles to its military points in Kamisli, which is occupied by PKK terrorist organization on September 14, 2020. Photo by Samer Uveyd, Anadolu Images

The Kremlin’s successful “comeback” in the Middle East is explained by the fact that Moscow has become accustomed to appearing on the political scene only during crises, when conventional players seek a quick but often emotional resolution. Another obvious reason is the logic of the Russian authorities which have traditionally exploited different upheavals to gain greater political leverage inside the country.

In general, the Syrian war has enabled the Kremlin to make a quiet “comeback” in the Middle East. From the outset, Moscow managed to raise its contacts with key regional and extra-regional stakeholders to an unprecedented level, thus achieving a dialogue on an equal footing that had been sought by the Kremlin since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Yet, many observers wonder whether Russia will be able to use these gains efficiently in the long term. This crucial question is still open-ended as the answer depends on the capabilities and consistent steps of the power vertical.

No arms sale windfall following the weapons tests in Syria

Experts in Moscow enjoy discussing how the war in Syria became a promotion campaign for Russia’s weaponry. The real-world evidence for this hypothesis, however, is somewhat scant. Despite Moscow testing a wide spectrum of weaponry and military hardware in Syria, this has not translated into an uptick of its military exports to the Middle East and Northern Africa, a region which occupies a special place for Russia to expand its military-technical cooperation with countries around the globe.

Taking into account that arms negotiations usually take two years to conclude, it was rather amusing to read various hot takes on the upsurge in Russia’s weapons sales only six months after the start of Moscow’s intervention in Syria.

VIDEO: Mercenaries Reborn: How Private Armies Violate Human Rights

Russia’s military exports demonstrated steady growth prior to 2013 but have been plateauing ever since. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s public statements, the volume of Russia’s military sales amounted to $15 billion in 2014, $14.5 billion in 2015, $15.3 billion in 2016, $15.3 billion in 2017, $16 billion in 2018, $13 billion in 2019 (the Defense Department puts the figure for this year at $15.2 billion), and around $13 billion in 2020.

In 2015-2020, Egypt, Algeria, and Iraq were the main importers of Russia’s weapons. All three countries began striking their bundle agreements (or negotiating over particular classes of weapons) with Russia before its intervention in the Syrian civil war.

The values of contracts might be subject to manipulation, so looking at the actual physical volume of deliveries could give us a more accurate picture. In 2015-2020, Egypt, Algeria, and Iraq were the main importers of Russia’s weapons. All three countries began striking their bundle agreements (or negotiating over particular classes of weapons) with Russia before its intervention in the Syrian civil war.

The exception to this rule includes some of the agreements between Russia and Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE. Those deals became media highlights due to the specifics of those countries’ relations with the U.S. But neither the sums of the contracts nor their assortment points at any sort of arms sale windfall.

Read: Orthodoxy and Russian Foreign Policy: A Story of Rise and Fall

With the Qatar blockade lifted, the hype around Middle Eastern countries racing to purchase Russian-made S-400 is subsiding. The interest in the Russian systems was fuelled by the Saudi-Qatari conflict and, more pertinently, by the S-400 radar’s ability to enable Doha to look deep into the neighboring Saudi territory. Another factor constraining sales of Russia’s weaponry is the U.S. sanction provisions contained in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that was signed by Donald Trump in 2017.

The restrictions threw a wrench into Russia’s negotiations with Kuwait on the purchase of the T-90MS/MSK, which the Gulf country had already tested in 2014. As a result, Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 systems stands as Moscow’s only real breakthrough deal in the region since the start of the Syrian war.

Dialogue on equal footing

Russia’s policy towards the Middle East has a special characteristic which pro-Kremlin pundits like emphasizing. Moscow can simultaneously and to a large extent officially engage in talks with opposing parties, say, Israel and Iran, the U.S. and Hezbollah, Turkey and the PYD. Its neutral status that relies on multipolarity as a fairer way of dealing with other partners has helped Russia mount a “comeback” on the global stage and establish itself as an actor whose participation, as Putin stated back in 2003, was indispensable to tackling any global or regional problem.

Read: Biden-Putin Diplomacy: A Push-Me-Pull-You Game?

However, it would be a misconception to interpret such steps as Moscow’s desire to become a mediator or that it is interested in building a balanced architecture of regional security – it just seeks to present itself as a mentor.

Strategically speaking, Russia has pursued a “clinger” policy in recent years. Moscow has been trying importunately to interact with everyone in order to impose a “dialogue on an equal footing” on Washington, its principal rival.

The Kremlin seeks to bolster its position by playing the contradictions card and making the most of the lack of concordance among traditional allies; by gaining a firmer foothold in the countries at the apex of the crisis – Syria, Lebanon, Iraq; or by mediating the overdue policy to diversify political ties.

Read: Russia’s Changing Relationship with India: Arms Talk

Such tactics tend to be typical of non-state actors which do not have the means to secure themselves. The Kremlin has them in plentiful supply, both nuclear and non-nuclear ones. However, insufficient economic resources prevent Russians from winning unswerving loyalty – even that of their strategic allies, not to mention tactical ones.

Recipe for “success”

In the official propaganda, the emphasis is on exceptional strength which is devoid of significant economic power and which stems from the Soviet paradigm. The latter has defined the agenda promoted by the Kremlin and reinforced the familiar bugaboo of the external enemy against the image of upright state leadership.

Therefore, Putin, a politician who became a historic figure with the annexation of Crimea, could not simply put up with the sanctions imposed after 2014 or see Russia being compared to a besieged fortress. Although the image of the external enemy is indispensable to Russian officials’ speeches, it contradicts, first of all, the existing Western centrism of the Russian elite.

Read: Russian Expansionism under Vladimir Putin

Moreover, pretending to see a threat and moralizing are not tantamount to rule-setting on the world stage. After the Russian “comeback” in the Middle East, where it had to deal with numerous non-state and quasi-state actors, Moscow was forced to resort to parallel diplomacy given the inability of official departments to solve the foreign policy tasks assigned to them in an effective manner.

Hence, we have seen the involvement of the Chechen think tank (Kadyrov’s Muslim team) in the negotiations, the deployment of Prigozhin’s mercenaries to fulfill military tasks, and the engagement of military intelligence to get rid of undesirables. Naturally, special forces should coordinate such activities rather than the Foreign Ministry.

Formally, the Russian Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministries work very close and in tandem. Nevertheless, it has been clear since 2017 that security officials, and military and intelligence agencies, sidelined diplomats in the Syrian and later in the Libyan cases. Still, the key players were only too glad to let Moscow call the shots in Syria as Russia would have to shoulder the burden of the crisis settlement and the responsibility for the survival of Assad’s ossified regime.

Putin delivers annual address to Federal Assembly

 Source

Putin delivers annual address to Federal Assembly

April 21, 2021

Putin’s speech comes amid a period of diplomatic confrontation with Western nations and a stand-off over the situation in Ukraine and Russian troop movements.

The address to the Federal Assembly is often used to announce major changes in Russian domestic and foreign policy.

This is the current live stream.

The full and complete transcript is now posted.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly

The President of Russia delivered the Address to the Federal Assembly. The ceremony took place at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall.

April 21, 202113:20

Moscow

The ceremony was attended by members of the Federation CouncilState Duma deputies, members of the Government, the heads of the Constitutional and Supreme courts, regional governors, speakers of regional legislatures, the heads of traditional religious denominations and public activists.

* *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies,

Citizens of Russia,

Today’s Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly will be dedicated mostly to internal issues. These include, naturally, healthcare, social policy and the economy. Of course, I will say a few words about external affairs and literally a few words about security issues.

It stands to reason that I will begin with last year’s events, when our country and, actually, the entire world faced a new, previously unknown and extremely dangerous infection.

It that period, including during our meetings with experts and conversations with the leaders of many states, I often heard the following description of the situation: we are faced with total uncertainty. And this is how it really was.

I could see this from the information I received from the regions. The number of people who contracted the disease and needed to be rushed to hospital kept growing. Actually, all of you are very well aware of this. Many hospitals were filled to capacity and reported that they could run out of oxygen soon, including in intensive care units. Ventilators, protective masks and PPE were actually distributed by the piece. Shops were running out of basic products, such as cereals, butter and sugar, due to increased demand.

The epidemic was on the offensive. But although there was great concern, I personally had no doubt that we would pull through.

Citizens, society and the state acted responsibly and in unison. We rallied, managed to take preventive action, to create conditions that would reduce the risk of infection, and to provide medical personnel and citizens with personal protective equipment. We increased the number of hospital beds for coronavirus patients more than five times over, to 280,000 beds.

The brief outline of measures conceals the tremendous and intensive work of millions of people in all regions of the Russian Federation. I would like to cordially thank all of you for this. Everyone worked quickly, efficiently and conscientiously.

At that time and later on, we were analysing the situation practically non-stop. I recall vividly my visit to the hospital in Kommunarka. It was necessary to experience, to see at first hand the danger facing us and to assess the working conditions of medical specialists. They immediately found themselves in the thick of events and fought for every life, while risking their own.

Today, doctors, paramedics, medical nurses and members of ambulance teams are sitting here in this hall. Once again my heartfelt thanks to you and your colleagues from all the Russian regions.

Russian researchers made a real breakthrough, and Russia now has three reliable coronavirus vaccines. These and many other achievements of the past few years highlight the country’s growing science and technological potential.

I would like to thank everyone, every person who contributed to the fight against infection, including the workers at the plants manufacturing medications, medical equipment, personal protective equipment, and enterprises working 24 hours a day, housing and utility agencies, trade companies, the Russian business community that quickly converted entire sectors so that they could manufacture essential goods, civilian and military builders, agriculture workers who gathered a record-breaking harvest, one of the biggest in the country’s history, that is, over 130 million tonnes.

The personnel of law enforcement agencies and the special services continued to carry out their duty, and the Russian Armed Forces reliably ensured our country’s security.

I would like to underscore the selfless behaviour of people working for social services, orphanages, boarding schools, retirement homes and hospices who stayed and who continue to stay with their charges. You will certainly agree with me that, while analysing developments at these institutions, one feels proud of people who are carrying out their duty there in such a responsible manner. It could move you to tears. I would like to thank them once again.

I would also like to convey my sincere gratitude to school teachers and the lecturers at universities and other education institutions. You did everything possible to enable your students and pupils to gain knowledge and successfully pass their exams, with the involvement and support of their parents.

Russia’s cultural life continued unabated. Theatres, museums and concert halls remained open to audiences online thanks to modern technology. Everyone who works in this crucial sphere rose to the occasion.

Our people showed discipline and managed to observe, let’s face it, quite exhausting, but vital precautions. Thus, acting together, we have put up an effective barrier to the pandemic.

The people’s solidarity showed in concrete actions, in caring for the loved ones and in willingness to help people in need. Millions became volunteers and engaged in building person-to-person help routes. The nationwide We Are Together campaign brought together people from different walks of life and ages. As always during challenging times, our traditional religions stepped up to provide spiritual support to the society. I see the leaders of our religions here and I would like to bow deeply to you, thank you very much

Throughout history, our people have come out victorious and overcome trials thanks to unity. Today, family, friendship, mutual assistance, graciousness and unity have come to the fore as well.

Spiritual and moral values, which are already being forgotten in some countries, have, on the contrary, made us stronger. And we will always uphold and defend these values.

Colleagues,

The pandemic broke out at a time when the aftermath of the demographic shocks of the 1940s and 1990s converged. We realise that the current demographic situation is an emergency. Unfortunately, this is how things are. We must accept and admit it and do something about it based on our understanding of this situation.

Saving the people of Russia is our top national priority. This priority underlies the stipulations of the updated Constitution concerning the protection of the family, the important role parents play in bringing up their children, strengthening social guarantees, and further developing the economy, education and culture.

Our strategy is to return to sustainable population growth to make sure that the average life expectancy in Russia increases to 78 years in 2030.

Unfortunately, the statistics show us sad and disappointing numbers. We are even seeing a certain decline. It is clear what is happening because of the pandemic, but we will keep our strategic goals in this critical sphere unchanged.

I fully realise that this is no small feat, the more so as the coronavirus has not yet been completely defeated and remains a direct threat. We see the dramatic developments in many countries where the cases of infection continue to grow. We need to keep in check the defence barriers designed to slow down the spread of the virus along our external borders and within our country.

I would like to address all citizens of Russia once again. Friends, please stay alert. I am asking you to take care of yourselves and your loved ones and to comply with the doctors’ and sanitary services’ recommendations as closely as possible.

Vaccination is of crucial importance. I would like to ask the Government, the Healthcare Ministry and the heads of the regions to monitor this process on a daily basis. The opportunity to take the jab must be available everywhere, so that we achieve the so-called herd immunity by the autumn.

The attainment of this goal depends on everyone, on all our citizens. Please, I am asking all citizens of Russia once again to get vaccinated. This is the only way to stop this deadly epidemic. There is no alternative. The other choice is much worse: to contract the disease with unpredictable consequences.

I would like to say once again that the disease is still with us. But we must start thinking already now about healing the wounds it has inflicted and restoring people’s health.

During the peak periods, our hospitals and outpatient clinics had to reduce or even suspend scheduled visits. This increased the risk of the aggravation of chronic illnesses or the risk of missing the first signs of or correctly diagnosing new illnesses.

I would like to ask the Government, the Healthcare Ministry and the constituent entities of the Russian Federation to expand the system of medical check-ups and periodic screenings, taking into account the current epidemiological situation, and to relaunch them in full measure on July 1, 2021 for people of all ages. They must involve the largest number of people possible. This is why we will increase the supply of mobile medical diagnostic systems to the regions in the near future.

One of the targets of the coronavirus is the cardiovascular system. These diseases have always been the leading cause of death. Therefore, special attention during periodic screenings must be given to people with cardiovascular diseases. I would like to instruct the Government to take additional measures to prevent the diseases that are the main causes of premature death. As I have already mentioned, these are cardiovascular diseases plus malignant tumours and respiratory system diseases.

Hepatitis C claims many young lives. Decisions must be made to reduce this threat to the health of the nation to a minimum within 10 years.

To ensure that as many people as possible can restore their health at sanatoriums and health resorts, I propose that the 20 percent rebate programme for domestic travel is extended at least until the end of the year.

Children’s health is our special priority. Indeed, the foundation for good health for many years to come is laid during childhood. Children’s rest and recreation activities must be made as affordable as possible. In this regard, this year, I propose reimbursing half of what parents spend on their children’s summer camps.

In addition, we need to expand opportunities for student tourism. Already this year, we must launch several pilot projects, including accommodation on university campuses and in dormitories in other regions for students who travel around the country during the summer.

And, of course, we must reward the young people who have done well in academic competitions and in volunteer and creative initiatives as well as the projects operated by the Russia – Land of Opportunity platform. For them, the partial reimbursement programme for tourist vouchers will remain valid during the holidays, aka the high season. This is a ground-breaking decision.

I wish to thank all the parliamentary groups which supported the decision on the taxation of high incomes, or rather, a portion of high incomes. These proceeds will go to the dedicated Circle of Kindness fund and have already been released to help children affected by rare and serious diseases, to purchase expensive medicines and medical equipment, and to cover the costs of surgeries.

On April 28, we will celebrate Ambulance Worker Day which was established as a show of respect to those who arrive first to save lives. These specialists must be provided with all necessary supplies. Within the next three years, we will make another 5,000 new ambulances available to rural communities, urban-type localities and small towns, which will replace the ambulance fleet almost in full.

I want to emphasise that public healthcare authorities in many leading countries – we are well aware of it and, in fact, they themselves are saying so – were unable to deal with the challenges of the pandemic as effectively as we did in Russia. At the same time, global health care is on the cusp of a genuine revolution. This must be recognised and clearly seen. We cannot miss it.

The pandemic has exponentially sped up the introduction of telemedicine, artificial intelligence and new approaches in diagnostics, surgery, rehabilitation and the production of medicines everywhere. We must put these technologies at the service of the people of our country.

We must build our healthcare system around this ground-breaking technology, and keep an eye on pressing everyday problems in the process. As we are all aware, they abound, mostly in primary care. There must be no such thing as waiting lines, no hassle making a diagnostics appointment or a specialist doctor appointment, or obtaining prescriptions and sick leaves, for that matter. This has often come up in our discussions lately. The funds have been set side and allocated. It is time to move quickly and efficiently to make it happen.

We have a backlog to deal with in healthcare and other social sectors, including many technical, financial and managerial challenges. However, what people need is qualified and timely medical help. I propose reviewing public healthcare problems from this perspective at an expanded meeting of the State Council some time soon. We will prepare for it and hold it shortly.

I repeat: we have gained some fundamentally new experience in fulfilling our social commitments. During the pandemic, we made direct payments to families bringing up almost 28 million children, and they received their benefits without any unnecessary paperwork or other kinds of red tape – they got the money they needed and were entitled to automatically. I know Government members have been working on this, focusing deliberately, not without some failures, but they have made every effort to accomplish this task, and coped with it. This is great, this is a good example. This approach should become the norm at all levels of government.

This is the essence of the National Social Initiative, which was discussed at a recent joint meeting of the State Council Presidium and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives.

I am calling on the regional governors: it is your direct responsibility to organise the work of local clinics, daycare nurseries and schools, and employment centres, based on the daily needs of families, of each and every person. In many regions, I have seen with my own eyes that such work has already been launched in certain areas. This needs to be done everywhere and in all social sectors.

As soon as in 2022, we must introduce the ‘social treasury’ principles. This means that all federal benefits, pensions and other social payments and services will be provided and paid in a one-stop mode, without having to visit dozens of different agencies, but simply upon marriage, the birth of a child, retirement or other life milestones. Within three years, the vast majority of public and municipal services should be provided to Russian citizens remotely, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that is, on an ongoing basis.

Separately, we will have to discuss child-support payments, which are a sensitive topic for many families. Unfortunately, this is a problem in our country. This procedure should not be humiliating for anyone. Most issues here need to be resolved remotely and, most importantly, in the interests of the affected party. A mother with a child should not have to camp on the doorstep of various authorities to collect official documents, carrying her baby in her arms, and this is what usually happens. A system of interagency communication needs to be built, with banks included, in such a way as to ensure the unconditional execution of court decisions on the recovery of child-support payments. The state is obliged to protect the rights of the child; this is what we are talking about. I will return to this topic again later.

Colleagues,

We understand the heavy toll that the pandemic has taken on people’s welfare. Statistics show the aggravating effects of this outbreak on social inequality and poverty. It has been a challenge for all countries around the world – remember, all countries, not only Russia, are experiencing the same consequences. Certainly, we should be primarily concerned about the situation in our own country.

We are now facing price hikes that are undercutting people’s incomes. Some urgent decisions have been made, of course, but we cannot solely rely on targeted and essentially directive measures. We remember potential outcomes. Back in the late 1980s and the 1990s in the Soviet Union, they resulted in empty store shelves. But today, even when the pandemic was at its worst, we did not allow the same thing to happen.

The Government’s goal is to create conditions that will be long-term and which, I want to stress this part, colleagues, can, thanks to market mechanisms (which we have), guarantee the predictability of prices and quality replenishment of the domestic market. Nobody is saying that we will be setting prices from the top. There’s no need to muddy the waters and scare people. There are market regulatory mechanisms and they must be employed – promptly and to the extent required and appropriate to a specific situation in the economy and social sphere. We need to stimulate investment activity by reducing business risks. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Surely, the main goal right now is to ensure that people’s real incomes grow – that is, to restore them and secure their further growth. As I said, we need tangible changes in our fight against poverty.

Before anything else, the Government must provide direct support to families with children who are experiencing hardships. This has been our consistent policy and we will continue to pursue it.

We already have a system of benefits paid to parents of one or two children from the time the children are born and until they reach the age of three. Families with incomes below two subsistence minimums per family member are entitled to such benefits. The average monthly amount paid across the country is 11,300 rubles per child. Seventy-eight Russian regions pay benefits for the third child, also 11,300 rubles on average.

Please note that we are making consistent progress in this area, step by step. Last year, we introduced benefits for children aged three to seven. They range from 5,650 to 11,300 rubles per month depending on the region.

I instruct the Government to develop, by July 1, a comprehensive system of support for families with children. Our goal is to minimise the risk of poverty for such families.

But a number of new decisions need to be taken immediately, already today. It is always difficult for a single parent to raise a child. There are plenty of reasons for that. And this is not about the reasons but about supporting children. It is particularly difficult when a single-parent family is having financial problems, especially when children start going to school and family expenses objectively rise.

In particular, we must support single-parent families, where a mother or a father is bringing up a child alone, and only one of the parents is registered on the birth certificate – sorry to be speaking of such mundane things, but this is a fact of life – or the parents have divorced and one of them has the right to child-support payments. Therefore, as of July 1 this year, all children in such families aged between 8 and 16, inclusively, will receive a benefit. The national average of such benefit will be 5,650 rubles.

Of course, we must also help women who are expecting a baby and who have financial problems. It is extremely important for a mother-to-be to get support from the state and society, so that they can keep their pregnancy and know that they will receive help in raising and bringing up their child.

I propose approving a monthly subsidy for women who register at a maternity centre during early pregnancy and who have financial problems. The average subsidy for them will be 6,350 rubles a month.

Next, the sick pay for taking care of a child who falls ill depends on the employment record, which is correct, on the whole, and fair. However, young women receive much smaller sick leave payments. We have discussed this issue at the State Council, and it has been raised by the United Russia. We need to adopt legal decisions on this matter without delay, so that payments for taking care of a sick child aged up to 7 years inclusively are approved at 100 percent of the parent’s salary as soon as this year.

You understand what this means. The majority of those in this room know that the longer the employment record the larger the sick pay. Women who have a long work record usually receive full sick pay, but they usually do not have children at their age. Those who have children do not receive full pay. We must definitely help those who are expecting a baby.

I would also like to remind you that we have expanded and extended the maternity capital programme up until 2026. This benefit will now be paid already for the first child. We could not afford this before. The maternity capital has been adjusted to inflation and is almost 640,000 rubles

Free hot meals for all primary school children were approved as of January 1, 2020, and this measure has become a great help for families.

I would like to point out that all our decisions were designed to support our people. I know that many and very many people have financial problems now. The labour market and real disposable income of the people will be certainly restored, and we will move on. This has not happened yet. Therefore, I suggest approving one more one-off payment for the families that have school children, namely, 10,000 rubles per schoolchild. Moreover, this payment will also be made for the children who will only start school this year. We will transfer the money in mid-August, so that parents can get their children ready for school.

The updated Constitution of Russia includes clauses on demographic development, and protection of the family and childhood. They should be implemented in practice at all levels of government. I propose including a section aimed at supporting young people in each national project.

Friends,

During the pandemic, many young doctors and nurses, recent graduates as well as residents and students of medical universities worked courageously in the so-called red zones, joining their senior colleagues. In that extraordinary situation, teachers, schoolchildren, college and university students continued to teach and study, to have exams. Young family members supported their parents and older relatives. The youth of Russia proved to be extremely worthy during that period of trials. We can be proud of them.

We will do everything to open up as many life opportunities as possible for the younger generation. Their journey certainly begins at school, and I am sure that school will always be a second home for children; a new home, comfortable and modern.

Under the existing federal programme and with additional resources provided by the VEB Development Bank, we will build at least 1,300 new schools for more than a million children by the end of 2024. We will also purchase at least 16,000 school buses over the next four years. All school buses must be modern and safe.

Classroom teachers have been receiving a monthly addition to their salaries since last year. A very necessary and, I am sure, fair decision. I remember how we held discussions on this matter last year.

However, I have received requests, letters from teachers in secondary vocational institutions who say they have been forgotten. This is actually true. Justice must be restored. We have to fix this and establish the same additional payment of 5,000 rubles for supervisors of educational groups at technical schools and colleges.

I propose allocating an additional 10 billion rubles in the next two years for major repairs and technical equipment of our pedagogical universities. I ask the Government to pay close attention to up-to-date training of future teachers. The future of Russia largely depends on them.

Furthermore, school teaching teams should be expanded with teaching assistants, mentors and counsellors, whose job will be to organise exciting projects for children at schools.

It is very important that our young people should look to and be inspired by the achievements and victories of our outstanding ancestors and contemporaries, by their love for our Motherland and aspiration to make a personal contribution to its development. Children should have the opportunity to explore the national history and the multinational culture, our achievements in science and technology, literature and art in advanced formats. You know, I still open certain school textbooks occasionally and am surprised at what I see there – as if what is written there has nothing to do with us at all. Who writes such textbooks? Who approves them? It is unbelievable. They mention everything, the ‘second front’ and a lot of other facts, but not the Battle of Stalingrad – how is that possible? Amazing! I do not even want to comment.

I propose allocating an additional 24 billion rubles within the next three years to renovate cultural centres, libraries and museums in rural areas and small historical towns. This is another crucial area.

It is important to resume the activities of the Knowledge Society – we all remember well what it is – based on a modern digital platform. It seems to have been operational lately, but no one seems to notice it is there, either. Also, in order to support projects in culture, art and creative activities, we will set up a Presidential fund for cultural initiatives. Already this year, we will use its competitive grants to finance over 1,500 creative teams.

Colleagues,

A month from now, 11th grade students will be taking exams. Based on the results, most of them, about 60 percent, will enrol in universities and have their tuition covered from the budget. It can be safely stated that practically no country in the world apart from Russia has this kind of broad and free access to higher education.

In the next two years, we will make an additional 45,000 state-funded places available at our universities. At least 70 percent of them will go to the regions which need university graduates.

Starting this year, at least 100 universities in the constituent entities of our Federation will receive grants in the amount of 100 million rubles or more for opening student technoparks and business incubators, upgrading academic and laboratory facilities, and running training programmes. All state universities will be eligible for this support, including the ones that train future teachers, medical doctors, transport and culture workers. I am confident that the young generation of Russians, Russian scientists, will make their names known in the meaningful research projects that are yet to come.

This year was declared Science and Technology Year in our country. We realise that science is absolutely key in the modern world. Until 2024, Russia will allocate 1.63 trillion rubles from the federal budget alone for civil, including fundamental, research. But that is not all.

We are about to launch ground-breaking programmes in areas that are critical to our country. They will be given the status of nationwide projects. I would like to discuss some of them separately just to give you a sense.

First, we must have a solid and reliable shield to give us sanitary and biological safety. We now understand what it is about. It is imperative to ensure Russia’s independence in the production of the entire range of vaccines and pharmaceutical substances, including medications against infections that are resistant to the current generation of antibiotics. Importantly, this must be achieved with the maximum engagement of Russian-made equipment and domestic components.

In the event of an infection as dangerous as the coronavirus, or, God forbid, even more dangerous, Russia must be prepared to develop its own test systems within four days, precisely four days, and to create an efficacious domestic vaccine and start its mass production as soon as possible. These are the goals that we are setting for ourselves. The timeframe for achieving these goals is 2030. But the sooner we get there, the better.

Second, we need new comprehensive approaches to the development of our energy sector, including new solutions for nuclear generation in the promising areas of hydrogen energy and energy storage.

Third, we must find answers to the climate change challenges, adjust our agriculture, industry, the housing and utilities sector and the entire infrastructure to them, create a carbon utilisation sector, bring down emissions and introduce strict control and monitoring measures.

Over the next 30 years, the cumulative emissions in Russia must be smaller than in the EU. It is an ambitious goal, considering the size of our country and the specific features of its geography, climate and economic structure. However, I have no doubt whatsoever that it is a perfectly realistic goal in light of our research and technological potential.

Our new energy and pharmaceutical sectors and the solution of climate problems must provide a powerful boost to a comprehensive modernisation of all economic sectors and the social sphere. It is a direct path to the creation of modern and well-paid jobs.

The efforts taken by each level of government, business, development institutions and the Russian Academy of Sciences must have in view the main, central task: to improve the quality of life for our people. I would like to point out that our position on environmental protection is a matter of principle in this respect, and it will definitely remain unchanged.

The dangers of the alternative position have been recently exemplified by the events in Norilsk, Usolye-Sibirskoye and several other places. We will certainly help the people who live there, but we must also preclude a repetition of such environmental disasters.

I would like to ask those responsible to accelerate the adoption of a law on the financial responsibility of enterprise owners for clearing up the accumulated pollution and for the reclamation of industrial sites. This is a very simple approach. Here it is: if you have benefited from polluting the environment, clean up after yourself. We must act harshly. Rosprirodnadoz [the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources] and other regulatory authorities must do their jobs.

I would like to add that the “polluter pays” principle must also be employed in full in the waste disposal sector to ensure transition to the so-called closed-loop economy. With this aim in view, we must launch a mechanism of extended producers and importers’ responsibility for the management of products and packaging wastes as soon as this year.

I also propose marking environmental payments to the federal budget. I know that experts and financial specialists do not like such special marks, but I see this as a vital sphere of our activity. We can make an exception in this case, and invest these funds in clearing up accumulated pollution and improving the environment.

Also, as I said, the amount of hazardous emissions in Russia’s 12 largest industrial centres must be reduced by 20 percent by 2024. We have already discussed this. Obviously, this goal must be accomplished through a comprehensive modernisation of the industrial sector, the housing and utilities sector, transport and energy.

Moreover, I propose expanding the emission quota system to all Russian cities with major air quality problems and introduce strict liability for non-compliance with environmental regulations. Of course, this requires transparent monitoring.

We will definitely support the efforts of businesses to upgrade their facilities up to current environmental standards. For example, upgrading will begin this year at aluminium plants in Bratsk, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk and Novokuznetsk based on the state guarantee mechanism. I will later name other cities and towns in other contexts but it does not mean that our work is limited to those areas. They only serve as examples.

Colleagues,

Last year, we allocated unprecedented resources for supporting the economy. Among other things, we managed to preserve over 5 million jobs through subsidised loans for wage payments. I want to stress that this programme succeeded but it succeeded precisely because businesses acted responsibly and did everything they could to keep their employees. We could see that.

Unfortunately, it was not possible to prevent layoffs completely. I understand how hard it is for those who lost their jobs. The Government was instructed to ensure that the labour market recovers by the end of the year. Still, this problem must be solved sooner so that people can have a stable income again. The Government will be encouraging entrepreneurial initiatives and stimulate private investments that create new jobs.

As you know, last year, social insurance contributions for small and medium-sized businesses were reduced by half, from 30 to 15 percent. This decision will remain in force permanently and is not subject to review.

I instruct the Government to present, within the next month, additional proposals on supporting small and medium-sized businesses, such as tax incentives, accessible loans and expanding product distribution and sales, including to major state-run companies.

As for other decisions in the economic sphere, I would like to mention the following.

First, we have already scrapped many archaic norms and requirements in construction and other fields and discontinued many unnecessary control inspections, but we also need to increase the momentum to achieve substantive, clear and tangible results in improving the business climate. For example, building a turnkey factory in Russia should be faster, more economically efficient and easier than in other regions of the world, including countries with developed economies.

Furthermore, we need to simplify the working conditions for non-commodity exporters. We have certainly been pursuing this policy line for a few years now, but we still need to remove all excessive restrictions in forex control for these exporters. This is one of the problems. The new procedure should start functioning in July. We have discussed this matter more than once. All amendments to the legislation must be adopted as quickly as possible during the spring session.

Secondly, the talent of an entrepreneur is primarily the talent of a creator, an aspiration to change life for the better, to create new jobs. The state will definitely support this attitude.

In the modern world where the market situation sometimes changes almost every day, businesses have to deal with high risks, especially when investing in long-term projects. To address this, we will be adjusting the entire private investment support system. We will evaluate how effective the projects are by the new products, services, and technologies they provide people with and how they improve the potential of Russia and each individual region.

The Special Investment Contract mechanism has already been improved; we have implemented a new instrument – Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements. We have consolidated development institutions on the basis of VEB. Their job is to reduce the risks for investing private capital, to help in the creation of new markets and investment mechanisms, the same as with the Project Finance Factory mechanism already in place. It is currently supporting more than 40 commercial projects with a total investment of 3 trillion rubles.

I am waiting for proposals from the Government on the implementation of the ideas proposed in March at a meeting with Russian businesses. Colleagues, you are well aware of this.

Third, we are making all major decisions concerning the economy through a dialogue with the business community. This is the practice established over many years. Of course, we have the right to expect that the auxiliary financial instruments and support mechanisms will bring the most desired result, which is converting profit into investment and development.

There is an important thing I want to say although it is nothing new to businesses. They know it already. The corporate sector is expected to make a record profit this year, despite all the problems that we are dealing with. Despite these problems, this is the real picture. We will take note of how this profit will be used and, based on the annual results, we may decide to calibrate the tax legislation. I want to see specific proposals from the Government. Off the record, I should note: some withdraw dividends while others invest in the development of their companies and entire industries. We will be encouraging those who invest.

Last year, we substantially increased budget expenditure while managing to maintain the stability of state finances. The Government and the Central Bank must continue to pursue a responsible financial policy. Ensuring macroeconomic stability and containing inflation within set parameters is an extremely important task. I assume that it will definitely be accomplished.

At the same time, thanks to our budget capacity and our reserves, we can allocate more funds to support investment in infrastructure and provide regions with new development instruments. Launching these instruments will require the law to be amended. I expect that all parliamentary parties – A Just Russia, the Liberal Democratic Party, the Communist Party and United Russia – will uphold these amendments.

In this regard, I want to thank all constructive public forces in the country for their responsible and patriotic attitude during this difficult epidemic. These are not just meaningless words because it was this attitude and its practical significance that helped all of us preserve the balance and stability of Russia’s government and political system. This is always important but it is especially relevant because we are preparing for the elections to the State Duma and other government bodies, considering the extensive work we will have to carry out. I hope that this competitive mindset that unites us in the face of common goals will persist.

Colleagues,

The country is developing and moving forward, but this is only taking place when the regions of the Russian Federation are developing. A striving of the heads of constituent entities to make their regions successful and self-sufficient must be and will be encouraged in every way.

We will support those who assume responsibility and launch constructive projects. I am confident that every Russian region has huge potential. To help make positive and productive use of this potential, what must we reduce first of all? The governors know what I am referring to: we must reduce the debt burden. These topics must be thoroughly discussed once again.

I ask the Government to submit by June 1 the proposals on ensuring long-term stability of regional and municipal finance and on increasing the regions’ self-sufficiency. We will discuss them in summer at a State Council meeting, and we will do so with due regard for the priority decisions about which I will tell you now.

First of all, we must help regions with large commercial debts. Here is what I suggest: the amount of a region’s commercial debt that exceeds 25 percent of the given region’s own revenues will be replaced with budgetary loans that will mature in 2029.

In addition, I propose restructuring the budgetary loans, yes, budgetary loans that were issued to the regions last year for taking measures to combat the pandemic. I believe that this would be fair. I would like to remind everyone that these loans will mature in two months, on July 1. I suggest extending them to 2029 as well.

I would like to emphasise that the restructuring of accumulated debts should be used as a mechanism of increasing the self-sufficiency of regional economies, especially considering that we will be offering a fundamentally new development tool to our constituent entities. I am referring to the so-called budgetary infrastructure loans with an interest rate of not more than 3 percent per annum and with maturity in 15 years. We intend to allocate a total of at least 0.5 trillion rubles, that is, 500 billion rubles of such infrastructure loans by the end of 2023.

Regional debt restructuring must be based on the concept of justice, which has always been the case, actually. Some constituent entities have large accumulated commercial debts, while other entities did not take out many loans. The latter may feel neglected in this case. This will not do, and we will not permit this. We will support those who have always pursued and continue to pursue a balanced financial policy. The principle of the distribution of infrastructure loans will be as follows: the fewer debts a region had, the more it will be able to receive in infrastructure loans.

We are one country. All levels of government and business must work to one end. Debt restructuring and an innovative investment resource in the form of infrastructure loans will allow us to expand the planning horizon and to launch new solutions that are tied in with the implementation of national projects, sector-specific strategies and a comprehensive plan for upgrading the backbone infrastructure.

Federal infrastructure loans are a powerful resource, but whether they will help us get ahead or attract private investment hugely depends on what regional management teams do and on their ability to conduct an open and candid dialogue with businesses, investors, and, of course, primarily, individuals.

The infrastructure projects in the regions must be implemented, primarily, in the interests of the people, and serve as investment in the creation of new jobs and in promoting the well-being of millions of Russian households and securing the future of our children. The priorities will be building motorways and bypasses in urban areas, upgrading the housing and utilities sector infrastructure and the public transport system, as well as conducting integrated development of territories and building tourist facilities.

Please note that the infrastructure and budget loans will be fully under the control of the Federal Treasury and will be provided exclusively for specific projects that have been thoroughly analysed by experts at the federal level. While we are at it, I would like to say something to regional leaders and the Government: listen, let’s work in a rhythmic and business-like manner. I do not want to use harsh or rude language at this rostrum, but things must be done on time and projects must be prepared, not just pictures shown to the Government. In turn, the Government must quickly process the projects and help the regions deal with things they have problems dealing with. You must help your colleagues, you understand that? Not trash what they have brought to you and say they did a bad job. Some of them are unable to do what you ask of them. Help them, and then things will be on the path forwards.

The scale of the projects may vary, but most importantly, as I said, they must benefit our people and open up new opportunities. For example, in conjunction with our major companies and using the proposed mechanism, the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area will begin the construction of the Northern Latitudinal Railway. This is the railway that will spur the development of the richest resources of the Arctic. This project has been in the works for a long time now, and it’s time to launch it, since we can do so now. For example, as a result, Nizhny Novgorod will be able to continue building the metro and to start renovating the city centre. Chelyabinsk, another city with a million-plus residents, will also have the opportunity to upgrade its transport system through a long-standing metro construction project. I am aware of other similar projects in Krasnoyarsk and other regions.

And, of course, the construction of new facilities must be at a qualitatively higher level. I want the Government to draft a clear step-by-step plan for the end-to-end and widespread use of digital design, and the production and introduction of cutting-edge energy-efficient materials. This is also important if we want to tackle the climate and environmental challenges.

Large-scale infrastructure development sets fundamentally new tasks before the construction industry. In the difficult past year, it worked smoothly and built over 80 million square metres of housing. This is a good result. The more we build, the more affordable housing will there be for Russian families.

Therefore, we have an ambitious goal. We have already discussed it as well and this ambitious goal has not disappeared– we plan to build 120 million square metres of housing every year. That said, we must certainly envisage a special mechanism for supporting private housing construction.

As for large-scale construction, the DOM.RF development institute will attract financial resources through the placement of bonds. This is a tried and tested mechanism that generally works well. These resources must go to developers as targeted loans.

I would like to emphasise that federal budget subsidies will allow DOM.RF to issue loans to developers at a minimal annual rate of about 3–4 percent. The construction of residential neighbourhoods in Tula, Tyumen, the Sakhalin Region and Kuzbass will be pilot projects for developing this model.

Improvement of cities and towns and housing construction growth play a major role in the development of the regions. We must take care of the urgent, daily problems of local residents. Quite a few Russian families live in areas connected to gas networks but their homes still have no access to gas for some reason. It seems the pipe is there but there is no gas at home.

I would like to ask the Government to work out, in cooperation with the regions, a clear-cut plan for bringing gas to such households. In this context, I support United Russia’s initiative, notably, that people do not have to pay for laying gas pipes directly to the border of their land plots in a residential area.

As I have already said, the Government must analyse all details in cooperation with Gazprom and other companies and agencies that work in this area to prevent any setbacks. Otherwise, I will say something from this rostrum and people will be waiting for it but because you don’t put some squiggles or commas in the right place everything will get bogged down again. This is unacceptable, and I will check on it myself, so please pay attention. Mosoblgaz and other companies must understand what they must do, in what timeframe and how much money they have at their disposal.

The goal is certainly more extensive. We must offer every region our solutions on public access to reliable and clean energy sources. This may be electricity, including from renewable sources, or environmentally friendly use of coal, which is also an option in the modern world, pipeline or liquefied gas. I instruct the regional heads to prepare, in coordination with the Government, detailed plans of action and start implementing them next year.

For example, in Kamchatka we must envisage the creation of local gas-receiving infrastructure to ensure reliable long-term gas supplies to the residents and companies of the Kamchatka Territory.

Colleagues,

We will not only give fundamentally new development tools to the regions, but will also directly invest federal resources into the settlement of the worst systemic problems, which will have a compound effect on boosting the regions’ growth and improving the quality of people’s lives.

We will begin with allocations from the National Welfare Fund for building mainline motorways. First of all, we should finance the ongoing construction of the Moscow-Kazan high-speed road and, more than that, extend it all the way to Yekaterinburg, completing this project within three years.

This way, together with the existing Moscow-St Petersburg high-speed road and the Central Ring Road, this will ensure safe high-speed motorway transit across the entire European part of Russia, from the Baltic Sea to the Urals, by 2024.

However, it is not enough to simply connect the end-of-line destinations. What good will this do, if it does not change anything about life in villages or small towns but only gives the people there an opportunity to watch high-speed trains and vehicles rush past? The backbone infrastructure must definitely lead to the development of all the territories where it has been built, giving rise to the development of a modern regional network.

The constituent entities will now be able to use infrastructure loans to speed up the implementation of these construction projects. But in their development plans, our colleagues should remember and take into account that the federal and regional mainlines must function as a unified system in the interests of our citizens, businesses and regions. In this way, the infrastructure loans and the resources of the National Welfare Fund will be working for the benefit of all Russian regions.

The same goes for our new national project in the tourist sphere. A programme of easy loans will be launched soon to finance the construction and renovation of hotels and other tourist infrastructure. The interest rate on these loans will be 3–5 percent as well, and the loans will mature in 15 years.

There are many other pilot projects. I will only mention some of them: the development of Sheregesh, the leading mountain ski resort in Kuzbass; the creation of a yachting resort in the Bay of Balaklava in Sevastopol; and the development of the tourist industry on the Altai and in the Kaliningrad Region.

The infrastructure loans project will give a new impetus to entire tourist clusters. In particular, several regions in Central Russia will be able to modernise and expand the Golden Ring route at a fundamentally new level, realising the tourist potential of small towns such as Tarusa, Palekh, Murom, Gorokhovets, Tutayev and Borovsk. Development projects will be launched in the Volga Region cities, the Crimean resorts, the Black Sea and Pacific coast areas, as well as in our resort towns such as Staraya Russa in the Novgorod Region and Kavkazskiye Mineralnye Vody in the Caucasus, including its gem, Kislovodsk.

Russia is a hospitable country that is open to its good friends. You surely remember what happened during the 2018 football championships. As soon as the epidemiological situation allows, we will lift the remaining restrictions and millions of tourists from all over the world will come to Russia again. We have a practical task at hand: to ensure that e-visas for travel to Russia are available remotely and without undue formalities within a matter of four days in the majority of countries.

Colleagues,

The meaning and purpose of Russia’s policy in the international arena – I will just say a few words about this to conclude my address – is to ensure peace and security for the well-being of our citizens, for the stable development of our country. Russia certainly has its own interests we defend and will continue to defend within the framework of international law, as all other states do. And if someone refuses to understand this obvious thing or does not want to conduct a dialogue and chooses a selfish and arrogant tone with us, Russia will always find a way to defend its stance.

At the same time, unfortunately, everyone in the world seems to be used to the practice of politically motivated, illegal economic sanctions and to certain actors’ brutal attempts to impose their will on others by force. But today, this practice is degenerating into something even more dangerous – I am referring to the recently exposed direct interference in Belarus in an attempt to orchestrate a coup d’état and assassinate the President of that country. At the same time, it is typical that even such flagrant actions have not been condemned by the so-called collective West. Nobody seemed to notice. Everyone pretends nothing is happening.

But listen, you can think whatever you like of, say, Ukrainian President [Viktor] Yanukovych or [Nicolas] Maduro in Venezuela. I repeat, you can like or dislike them, including Yanukovych who almost got killed, too, and removed from power via an armed coup. You can have your own opinion of President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko’s policy. But the practice of staging coups d’état and planning political assassinations, including those of high-ranking officials – well, this goes too far. This is beyond any limits.

Suffice it to mention the admission made by the detained participants in the conspiracy about a planned siege of Minsk, including plans to block the city infrastructure and communications, and a complete shutdown of the entire power system in the capital of Belarus! This actually means they were preparing a massive cyberattack. What else could it be? You know, you cannot just do it all with one switch.

Clearly, there is a reason why our Western colleagues have been stubbornly rejecting Russia’s numerous proposals to establish an international dialogue on information and cyber security. We have come up with these proposals many times. They avoid even discussing this matter.

What if there had been a real attempt at a coup d’état in Belarus? After all, this was the ultimate goal. How many people would have been hurt? What would have become of Belarus? Nobody is thinking about this.

Just as no one was thinking about the future of Ukraine during the coup in that country.

All the while, unfriendly moves towards Russia have also continued unabated. Some countries have taken up an unseemly routine where they pick on Russia for any reason, most often, for no reason at all. It is some kind of new sport of who shouts the loudest.

In this regard, we behave in an extremely restrained manner, I would even say, modestly, and I am saying this without irony. Often, we prefer not to respond at all, not just to unfriendly moves, but even to outright rudeness. We want to maintain good relations with everyone who participates in the international dialogue. But we see what is happening in real life. As I said, every now and then they are picking on Russia, for no reason. And of course, all sorts of petty Tabaquis are running around them like Tabaqui ran around Shere Khan – everything is like in Kipling’s book – howling along in order to make their sovereign happy. Kipling was a great writer.

We really want to maintain good relations with all those engaged in international communication, including, by the way, those with whom we have not been getting along lately, to put it mildly. We really do not want to burn bridges. But if someone mistakes our good intentions for indifference or weakness and intends to burn or even blow up these bridges, they must know that Russia’s response will be asymmetrical, swift and tough.

Those behind provocations that threaten the core interests of our security will regret what they have done in a way they have not regretted anything for a long time.

At the same time, I just have to make it clear, we have enough patience, responsibility, professionalism, self-confidence and certainty in our cause, as well as common sense, when making a decision of any kind. But I hope that no one will think about crossing the “red line” with regard to Russia. We ourselves will determine in each specific case where it will be drawn.

I will now say, just as I always do during the annual addresses to the Federal Assembly, that the improvement and qualitative strengthening of Russia’s Armed Forces continues on a regular basis. In particular, special attention will be given to the development of military education both at military school and academies and at military training centres at civilian universities.

By 2024, the share of modern weapons and military equipment in the armed forces will reach nearly 76 percent, which is a very good indicator. This share in the nuclear triad will be over 88 percent before this year is out.

Standing on combat duty are the latest Avangard hypersonic intercontinental missile systems and the Peresvet combat laser systems, and the first regiment armed with Sarmat super-heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles is scheduled to go on combat duty in late 2022.

The number of combat air systems with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, and warships armed with precision hypersonic weapons such as Kinzhal that I mentioned, and with the Kalibr missiles, is increasing. The Tsirkon hypersonic missiles will be put on combat duty soon. Work is underway on other modern combat systems, including Poseidon and Burevestnik, in accordance with the development plans of the Armed Forces.

As the leader in the creation of new-generation combat systems and in the development of modern nuclear forces, Russia is urging its partners once again to discuss the issues related to strategic armaments and to ensuring global stability. The subject matter and the goal of these talks could be the creation of an environment for a conflict-free coexistence based on the security equation, which would include not only the traditional strategic armaments, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, heavy bombers and submarines, but – I would like to emphasise this – all offensive and defensive systems capable of attaining strategic goals regardless of the armament.

The five nuclear countries bear special responsibility. I hope that the initiative on a personal meeting of the heads of state of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, which we proposed last year, will materialise and will be held as soon as the epidemiological situation allows.

Russia is always open to broad international cooperation. We have consistently advocated the preservation and strengthening of the key role of the United Nations in international affairs, and we try to provide assistance to the settlement of regional conflicts and have already done a great deal to stabilise the situation in Syria and to launch a political dialogue in Libya. As you know, Russia played the main role in stopping the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

It is on the basis of mutual respect that we are building relations with the absolute majority of the world’s countries: in Asia, Latin America, Africa and many European countries. We are consistently expanding as a priority contacts with our closest partners in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and our allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

Our common projects in the Eurasian Economic Union are aimed at ensuring economic growth and the wellbeing of our people. There are new, interesting projects here, such as the development of transport-and-logistics corridors. I am sure they will become a reliable infrastructure backbone for large-scale Eurasian partnership. The Russian ideas of this broad, open association are already being put into practice, in part, via alignment with other integration processes.

All these projects are not just geopolitical ideas but strictly practical instruments for resolving national development tasks.

Colleagues,

I began today’s Address with urgent healthcare issues, and concluding it, I would like to say the following. Nobody in the world knew what misfortune we would have to face. However, we, citizens of Russia, have already done much and will do all we can to counter the threat of the epidemic. Our country has reliable resources for this. We created them in healthcare, science, education and industry in previous years.

However, we must definitely move forward. We have mapped out national development tasks. Naturally, the challenge of the epidemic has made objective adjustments to our work. Today’s Address contains instructions on demography and family support, as well as on efforts to fight poverty, increase incomes, create jobs, improve the business environment and raise state management to a new level.

I would like to ask the Government to focus on these tasks in preparing new initiatives on Russia’s socioeconomic development and instruct it to present them by July 1 of this year.

What do I have in mind? Doing everyday work, we must certainly not forget about our strategic development goals and our national development goals, and we must improve the mechanisms for reaching them.

We will discuss the Government’s proposals with the participation of the relevant State Council commissions, our business associations, experts and the Civic Chamber. Following such a broad discussion, we will make final decisions on further financial and organisational actions at the meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects.

Now I would like to address all citizens of Russia once again to say that we will do everything in our power to achieve the goals set. I am sure we will move forward together and accomplish all the tasks that we have set for ourselves.

Thank you very much for your attention.

The National Anthem of the Russian Federation is played.

SAUDI ARABIA SUFFERS FROM HOUTHI ATTACKS. IS THERE A NEW JOB FOR TURKEY’S MERCENARIES?

South Front

12.04.2021 

Yemen’s Ansar Allah give the impression that it has an endless supply of drones.

The Houthis (as Ansar Allah is also known) appear to be adept at using them, if their own claims are to be entirely trusted.

On April 11th, two Qasef-2K drones were used to separately target the Jizan Airport and the King Khalid Airbase.

The Jizan Airport is a new target that has recently come up in reports of Houthi attacks.

The location includes hangars containing Saudi warplanes.

The King Khalid Airbase in ‘Asir suffers from the Houthi drone attacks more frequently, and has been subject of attacks at least 4 times in separate incidents since April 1st.

On April 9th, the Jizan Airport was targeted for the first time, and so was the Abha International Airport.

The Houthis are using their drones to disturb the aerial operations of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

Riyadh generally either denies these reports of attacks or says they were ineffective, while Ansar Allah claims they successfully fulfilled their mission.

Clashes on the ground continue in Yemen, with the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis fighting in the Madghal district, and in the southern Kadhah district.

Saudi Arabia attempts to dig out every reason why its war in Yemen is failing, and on April 10th announced the execution of three of its soldiers for “high treason”.

They were allegedly collabarating with an enemy against Riyadh’s military interests.

They could have been in contact with the Houthis or with Iran.

This is practically the same, as Tehran supports Ansar Allah.

This means that Riyadh can’t fully trust its own armed forces, and it could require some help, in the form of mercenaries.

The militants in Syria that Turkey deploys and uses in small-scale conflicts such as Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh could be potential candidates for this.

Turkey, under Egyptian pressure, is expected to withdraw the mercenaries from Libya.

According to reports, it will do so within the next 5 months.

Separately, a video showing Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries complaining for not getting paid after fighting for Azerbaijan went viral.

Immediately after it gained popularity, these same militants released a video saying that the news was fabricated, and that they never fought in Nagorno-Karabakh to begin with.

According to unnamed Yemeni intelligence sources, terrorists from Syria were expected to join the Saudi-led coalition in early April.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was reportedly waiting for new militants to arrive in Yemen’s southern province of Abyan to latter send them to Marib.

Today, many Turkish-backed mercenaries are sitting idly, unemployed.

This could mean either bad news for Syria, which will have to deal with them, or Ankara might decide to send them to Riyadh, if it “asks” for assistance.

Related Videos

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More official proof of US supporting al-Qaeda terrorism in Syria

Where are the war crimes tribunals when you really need them?

By Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor

…by PressTV, Tehran

[ Editor’s Note: This is a rare open admisssion by a US senior diplomat, that using proxy terrorists to pursue ‘US interests’ was fair game, even if the group slaughtered innocent civilians in the process. Politicians often refer to this generically as ‘exporting American values’.

Ambassador James Jeffrey uses the typical weasel word language to couch his support for aiding and abetting terrorists, that it was “the least bad option” for implementing US strategy in Syria. The US has used drone assassinations against others doing just this.

This will be my shortest article lead in ever, due to there really being not anything else to say other than where are the war crimes tribunals when you really need them? But I do thank Mr. Jeffrey for the quote… Jim W. Dean ]

First published … April 03, 2021

Top US diplomat James Jeffrey has admitted that a Syrian rebranded al-Qaeda affiliate was a US “asset” for pursuing Washington’s hegemonic policy in the Middle East.

Jeffrey, who served as a US ambassador under both Republican and Democrat administrations and most recently as former US President Donald Trump’s special representative for Syria and later as the special envoy to the global anti-Daesh coalition, said the Syrian al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group known today as the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group was “an asset” to the US to undermine the democratically-elected government of Bashar Assad.

The top US diplomat said the HTS militant group, which had emerged from Jabhat al-Nusra and later Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, was the “least bad option” for the United States for implementing its strategy in Idlib, Syria.

In an interview with FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith, Jeffrey said that Idlib was one of the crucial locations in the Middle East conflict.

“They are the least bad option of the various options on Idlib, and Idlib is one of the most important places in Syria, which is one of the most important places right now in the Middle East,” he said in the March 8 interview.

The US State Department had said that the group’s leader, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, aimed to topple Assad’s government, making him an ally for the US.

Jolani’s “ultimate goal is the overthrow of the Syrian regime,” it said, noting that attacks carried out by his group “killed innocent Syrian civilians.”

US supported Al -Qaeda in Syria, Libya and Yemen.

*

James Jeffrey

James Franklin Jeffrey (born February 8, 1946) aka Jim Jeffrey is an American diplomat who served most recently as the United States Special Representative for Syria Engagement and the Special Envoy to the International military intervention against ISIL.[1][2]

He has held senior assignments in Washington, D.C., and abroad, including as United States Ambassador to Iraq (2010–2012); United States Ambassador to Turkey (2008–2010); Deputy National Security Advisor (2007–2008); and United States Ambassador to Albania (2002–2004). In 2010 Jeffrey was appointed to the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service, Career Ambassador. From 1969 to 1976, Jeffrey was a U.S. Army infantry officer, with service in Germany and Vietnam.

Jeffrey is a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a member of the CIA External Advisory Board, a member of the American Council on Germany, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He serves on the advisory board for America Abroad Media.[3] He is a frequent commentator on broader foreign policy, national security, and economic trends.

BIOGRAPHYJim W. Dean, Managing Editor

Managing Editor

Jim W. Dean is Managing Editor of Veterans Today involved in operations, development, and writing, plus an active schedule of TV and radio interviews. 

Read Full Complete Bio >>>

Jim W. Dean Archives 2009-2014https://www.veteranstoday.com/jim-w-dean-biography/jimwdean@aol.com

The Yankees Are Coming Home: The Taliban Won. Get Over It

American soldiers can still win wars, but it has to be a real war where there is something genuine at stake, like protecting one’s home and family.

By Philip Giraldi

Global Research, April 09, 2021

Strategic Culture Foundation 8 April 2021

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).

***

It hardly made the evening news, but the New York Times reported last week that after twenty years of fighting the Taliban are confident that they will fully control Afghanistan before too long whether or not the United States decides to leave some kind of residual force in the country after May 1st. The narrative is suggestive of The Mouse that Roared, lacking only Peter Sellers to put the finishing touches on what has to be considered a great humiliation for the U.S., which has a “defense” budget that is larger than the combined military spending of the next seven countries in order of magnitude. Those numbers include both Russia and China. The Taliban, on the other hand, have no military budget to speak of. That enormous disparity, un-reflected in who has won and lost, has to nurture concerns that it is the world’s only superpower, admittedly self-proclaimed, which is incapable of actually winning a war against anyone.

In fact, some recent wargaming has suggested that the United States would lose in a non-nuclear conflict with China alone based on the obsolescence of expensive and vulnerable weapons systems that the Pentagon relies upon, such as carrier groups. Nations like China, Iran and Russia that have invested in sophisticated and much cheaper missile systems to offset U.S. advantages have reportedly spent their money wisely. If the Biden foreign policy and military experts, largely embroiled in diversifying the country, choose to take on China, there may be no one left around to pick up the pieces.

Those who are warning of the apparent ineffectiveness of the U.S. armed forces in spite of their global presence in more than one thousand bases point most commonly to the historical record to make their case. Korea, fought under United Nations auspices, was a stalemate, with the peninsula divided to this day and a substantial American military force continuing to be a presence along the DMZ to enforce the armistice that not quite ended the war. Vietnam was a defeat, resulting in more than 58,000 Americans dead as well as an estimated 3 million Vietnamese, most of whom were civilians. The real lesson learned from Vietnam was that fighting on someone else’s turf where you have no real interests or stake in the outcome is a fool’s game, but the Pentagon instead worked to fix the mechanics in weapons and training at great cost without addressing why people fight wars in the first place. The other lesson was that the United States’ military was perfectly willing to lie to the country’s civilian leadership to expand the war and keep it going, a performance that was repeated in 2001 with the “Iraq is supporting terrorists and will have nuclear weapons” lies and also with the current crop of false analogies used to keep thousands of Americans in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

As a veteran of the Vietnam War army, I can recall sitting around with fellow enlisted men reading “Stars & Stripes,” the exclusive in-house-for-the-military newspaper that was covering the war. The paper quoted a senior officer who opined that the Soviets (as they were at that time) were really envious of the combat experience that the United States Army was obtaining in Vietnam. We all laughed. That same officer probably had a staff position away from the fighting but we draftees knew well that the war was a very bloody mistake while he may have tested his valor post-retirement working for Lockheed-Martin. The “Soviets” in any event demonstrated just how much they envied the experience of combat when they fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s, eventually withdrawing with their tails between their legs just as the U.S. had done in Vietnam after they lost 15,000 men. The “Grave of Empires,” indeed.History: Reversing the Vietnam Verdict

Since Vietnam there have been a number of small wars in places like Panama and Grenada, but the global war on terror has been a total disaster for American arms. Afghanistan, as it was for the Russians, is the ulcer that keeps on bleeding until it ends as a major defeat for the United States with the Taliban fully in control, as they are now predicting. Likewise, the destruction of a secular Iraq, regime change in Libya, and a continuing war against a non-threatening Syria have all failed to make Americans either safer or more prosperous. Iran is next, apparently, if the Joe Biden Administration has its way, and relations with major adversaries Russia and China have sunk even lower than they were during Donald Trump’s time as president. The White House has recently sent a shipload of offensive weapons to Kiev and the Ukrainian government has repeated its intention to retake Crimea from Russia, a formula for a new military disaster that could easily escalate into a major war. What is particularly regrettable is the fact that the United States has no compelling national interest in encouraging open warfare between Moscow and Kiev, a conflict that it will be unable to avoid as its is supplying Ukraine with weaponry.

There was almost no discussion of America’s wars during the recent election. One should take note, however, of a recent article by former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb that appeared on National Review which seeks to provide an explanation for “The Real Reason the U.S. Can’t Win Wars Anymore” in spite of the fact that it is “the most powerful country in the history of the world.” To be sure, Kolb largely blames the policymakers for the defeat in Vietnam, aided and abetted by a culture of silence in the military where many officers knew that the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which escalated the conflict, was a fraud but chose to say or do nothing. He also observes that the war itself was unwinnable for various reasons, including the observation by many working and middle class Americans that they were little more than cannon fodder while the country’s elites either dodged the draft or exploited their status to obtain national guard or reserve commissions that were known to be mechanism to avoid Vietnam. Kolb notes that “…the four most recent presidents who could have served in Vietnam avoided that war and the draft by dubious means. Bill Clinton pretended to join the Army ROTC; George W. Bush used political connections to get into the Air National Guard, when President Johnson made it clear that the reserve component would not be activated to fight the war; Donald Trump, of course, had his family physician claim he had bone spurs, (Trump himself cannot remember which foot); and Joe Biden claimed that the asthma he had in high school prevented him from serving even though he brags about his athletic exploits while in high school.”

Kolb also reveals how America’s presumed prowess on the battlefield has distorted its “democracy building” endeavors to such an extent that genuine national interests have been ignored. When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, success in overthrowing the Taliban was derived from critical assistance from Iran, which correctly regarded the extremist Sunni group as an enemy. But the Bush White House, far from showing gratitude, soon thereafter added Iran to its “axis of evil” list. A golden opportunity was wasted to repair a relationship which has poisoned America’s presence in the Middle East ever since.

One might add something else to Kolb’s assessment of failure at war. Most American soldiers have been and are proud of their service and consider it an honor to defend their country but the key word is “defend.” There was no defending going on in Vietnam nor in Afghanistan, which did not attack the U.S. and was willing to turn over Osama Bin Laden if the White House could provide evidence that he was involved in 9/11. Nor was there anything defensive about Obama’s destruction of Libya and the decades long “secret” wars to overthrow the Syrian and Iranian governments. Soldiers are trained to fight and obey orders but that does not mean that they can no longer observe and think. Twenty years of “Reconstruction” duty in Afghanistan is not defending the United States and the morale of American soldiers in the combined Democratic and Republican Parties’ plan to reconstruct the world is not a sufficient motivator if one is being asked to put one’s life on the line. Sure, American soldiers can still win wars, but it has to be a real war where there is something genuine at stake, like protecting one’s home and family. That is what the people who run Washington, very few of whom are veterans and most of whom first ask “But what’s in it for me?” fail to understand.

*

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Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is https://councilforthenationalinterest.orgaddress is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org

He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Could Turkish involvement in Yemen free Saudi Arabia?

2018 Istanbul protest against Saudi actions in Yemen
Could Turkey help out Saudi Arabia in Yemen? Just 28 months ago, as seen here on Nov. 11, 2018, Turks were chanting slogans and holding posters in protest of Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen outside the Saudi Consulate. The October 2018 murder of journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi inside the consulate had helped push attention to the war in Yemen.


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Fehim Tastekin

April 2, 2021

In part as a result of the Biden administration’s shifting policies toward Iran and Washington’s decision to temporarily freeze and review weapons sales to Saudi Arabia over the Yemeni war, Ankara is aiming to turn Saudi Arabia’s growing international isolation to Turkey’s advantage.

Some Syrian opposition sources claim Turkey might transfer Syrian fighters to Yemen to fight alongside the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi rebels. The immediate interpretation of these claims might be that Turkey is extending an olive branch to Saudi Arabia following a yearslong frostiness in relations.

The second interpretation might be that Ankara is signaling to Tehran Turkey’s disgruntlement over Iranian military activities in Iraq and Syria. Iran believes Russia made too many concessions to Turkey on Syria and has overtly expressed its opposition against Turkish military operations in Iraq, prompting diplomatic bickering between Ankara and Tehran.

Possible Turkish involvement in the Yemeni war might provide Saudi Arabia the face-saving exit from the conflict that Riyadh has been looking for. Reportedly, Turkey’s support might also include Turkish armed drones that have been game changers in the Libyan and Azeri-Armenian conflicts.

The Yemeni Al-Islah Party — the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood — has been asking Turkey to step into the fray. However, the United Arab Emirates has long opposed the Al-Islah Party’s cooperation in the conflict, while Saudi Arabia has only reluctantly accepted cooperation to date. 

Saudi officials have reportedly been advised to improve ties with Turkey after a chilliness with the Biden administration developed as a result of the administration’s positive messages on the Iranian nuclear deal, the release of a CIA report exposing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role in the Jamal Khashoggi murder and the decision to lift the Houthis from the US list of foreign terrorist groups. The pro-government Turkish media has also trumpeted a narrative that Riyadh “desperately needs” Turkey.

While the idea of sending Syrian fighters to Yemen may be mere speculation, there have been a number of claims about the matter. Citing a source from the Syrian armed group Sultan Suleiman Shah, the North Press Agency reported that the Syrian National Army, a rebel group backed by Turkey, “has been working for weeks to prepare dozens of militants to send to Yemen.” According to the report, fighters have been offered salaries up to $2,500 a month and were told they were going to be positioned on the Yemeni-Saudi border and not participate in the clashes. It’s worth mentioning that Syrian fighters who were sent to Azerbaijan had also been told that they did not have to participate in the fighting, only to find themselves on the front lines.

Similarly, the Violations Documentation Center in Northern Syria said Turkey’s intelligence agency assigned an opposition commander to recruit fighters to be sent to Yemen. According to the report, the fighters were offered $2,500 monthly; $100 of this amount would be deducted for document expenses, fighters would receive $400 in cash initially and the remaining $2,000 would be paid to their families after the move to Yemen.

Journalist Lindsey Snell shared a voice recording that reportedly belongs to a Sultan Murad Brigades commander in which he seeks identification documents from his fighters who “wish to go to Yemen.” Snell said in a tweet accompanying the recording, “This happened in the couple weeks before Azerbaijan, too.” This was in reference to the transfer of Syrian fighters to the Azeri-Armenian conflict. Social media is abuzz with similar claims. 

Meanwhile, a Turkish armed drone was downed by Houthi rebels in al-Jawf region, further fanning claims about possible Turkish involvement in the conflict. Houthi military spokesman Col. Yahya Saree said the downed drone was a Turkish-built Vestel Karayel aircraft. 

Yet Saudi Arabia acquired these drones as part of a contract worth $200 million that Vestel Defense signed with Riyadh last year. According to the Saudi General Authority for Defense Industries, Riyadh is aiming to build up to 40 armed drones in five years, with six of them planned to be built in 2021.  

Despite rife speculation, there is no official confirmation that Baykar Makina, the manufacturer of the Bayraktar drones used in Libya and the northern Caucasus, will play a role in the Yemen conflict. 

According to Deutsche Welle Arabic, the Al-Islah party, might have played a mediator role in the recent Saudi Arabia-Turkey rapprochement. Citing former Yemeni Transportation Minister Saleh al Yemeni’s remarks to local Yemeni media, Deutsche Welle Arabic reported that an alliance between Turkey and Saudi Arabia in Yemen was “imminent” after disagreements surfaced between UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Riyadh. The UAE media, meanwhile, paints these news reports as Muslim Brotherhood propaganda. 

According to the London-based Al Arab newspaper, Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood network are relying on increasing concerns of the Saudi side following the US policy shift on the Yemeni war and Houthi rebels’ advances toward the oil- and gas-rich Marib region. The newspaper said the first call for Saudi-Turkish cooperation in Yemen came from one of the Al-Islah Party leaders who lives in Istanbul. Hamid al-Ahmar told Al Jazeera that Saudi Arabia turned to Turkey for advanced weapons after the US weapons freeze.

The UAE, like Egypt, is insisting that Turkey should cut its support to the Muslim Brotherhood to mend relations with Abu Dhabi. However, the Emiratis’ diminishing support for Khalifa Hifter in Libya and its decision to pull back from a military base in Eritrea that was key to Yemeni operations could be a manifestation of a downgrade in the UAE’s regional ambitions.

Muslim Brotherhood groups’ desire to draw Turkey into the Yemeni conflict, meanwhile, seems quite clear. Al Jazeera commentator Faisal al Kasim trumpeted that the balance of power on the ground in Yemen would change as soon as “Turkey has started to step into the Yemeni file.” Turkish-based Egyptian journalist Jamal Sultan claimed that Turkish-built Bayrak drones were spotted in Yemeni skies.

Pro-government Turkish media outlets sing a similar tune. The Yeni Safak daily, a governmental mouthpiece, claimed that Saudi Arabia was left alone in the Yemeni conflict. “Saudi Arabia has lost its fear of Turkey,” the paper wrote, “Turkey is the only country that could save Saudi Arabia from the mess it is in.”

Burhanettin Duran — a member of a foreign policy board advising the president and head of the pro-government think-tank SETA — argued that Gulf policies to restrain Iran and Turkey have failed. The Saudis “now need Turkey to fight off Iran’s expansionist policies in the region including in Yemen,” according to Duran. 

The Iranian media also appears to take claims of Turkish involvement in the Yemen conflict seriously. Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported that Saudi authorities have decided to put aside differences with their Turkish counterparts to cooperate with Ankara on the Yemen file.

Although mutual Turkish Saudi interests could spell a new beginning in Ankara-Riyadh ties, the lack of any official acknowledgment is an indication of reluctance and caution on both sides. Defusing a confrontation of some seven years between Turkey and Arab countries requires comprehensive consideration as the “Arab skepticism” that was fanned by Turkey’s expansionist ambitions in the region still is in play and appears to shape Arab countries’ approach to Turkey.


“المونيتور”: هل تتدخل تركيا في اليمن لإنقاذ السعودية؟

الكاتب: فهيم تستكين

المصدر: المونيتور 6 نيسان 14:54

يجادل الإخوان المسلمون ومصادر مقربة من الحكومة التركية بأن السعودية يمكن أن تجد مخرجاً لحفظ ماء وجهها في الصراع اليمني من خلال التعاون مع تركيا.

أتراك يحتجون أمام القنصلية السعودية في اسطنبول عام 2018.
أتراك يحتجون أمام القنصلية السعودية في اسطنبول عام 2018
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كتب الصحافي التركي فهيم تستكين مقالة في موقع “المونيتور” الأميركي قال فيها إن تركيا تسعى إلى تحويل العزلة الدولية المتزايدة للسعودية لصالحها، وذلك في أعقاب سياسات إدارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن المتغيرة تجاه إيران وقرار واشنطن بتجميد ومراجعة مبيعات الأسلحة إلى السعودية مؤقتاً بسبب الحرب اليمنية.

وأضاف الكاتب أن بعض مصادر المعارضة السورية تزعم أن تركيا قد تنقل مقاتلين سوريين إلى اليمن للقتال إلى جانب التحالف الذي تقوده السعودية ضد الحوثيين. وقد يكون التفسير الفوري لهذه الادعاءات هو أن تركيا تمدّ غصن زيتون إلى السعودية بعد سنوات من الجمود في العلاقات.

أما التفسير الثاني فقد يكون أن أنقرة تشير إلى استياء تركيا من الأنشطة العسكرية الإيرانية في العراق وسوريا. وتعتقد إيران أن روسيا قدمت الكثير من التنازلات لتركيا بشأن سوريا وأعربت صراحةً عن معارضتها للعمليات العسكرية التركية في العراق، مما أثار مشاحنات دبلوماسية بين أنقرة وطهران.

ورأى الكاتب أن التورط التركي المحتمل في الحرب اليمنية للسعودية قد يوفر مخرجاً من الصراع كانت الرياض تبحث عنه ويحفظ لها ماء وجهها. وبحسب ما ورد، فقد يشمل دعم تركيا كذلك طائرات مسلحة تركية بدون طيار كانت بمثابة تغيير لقواعد اللعبة في النزاعين الليبي والأذري-الأرميني.

ويطالب حزب الإصلاح اليمني – الفرع اليمني للإخوان المسلمين – تركيا بالدخول في المعركة. ومع ذلك، لطالما عارضت الإمارات العربية المتحدة التعاون مع حزب الإصلاح في الحرب ضد “أنصار الله”، بينما قبلت السعودية على مضض التعاون معه حتى الآن.

وأضاف الكاتب أنه ورد أن المسؤولين السعوديين نُصحوا بتحسين العلاقات مع تركيا بعد أن تطورت حالة من النفور من إدارة بايدن نتيجة للرسائل الإيجابية للإدارة بشأن الاتفاق النووي الإيراني، وصدور تقرير لوكالة الاستخبارات المركزية الأميركية يفضح دور ولي العهد السعودي الأمير محمد بن سلمان في جريمة قتل جمال خاشقجي وقرار رفع “انصار الله” الحوثيين من القائمة الأميركية للجماعات الإرهابية الأجنبية. كما روجت وسائل الإعلام التركية الموالية للحكومة لرواية مفادها أن الرياض “بحاجة ماسة” إلى تركيا.

وقال الكاتب إنه في حين أن فكرة إرسال مقاتلين سوريين إلى اليمن قد تكون مجرد تكهنات، إلا أن هناك عدداً من المزاعم حول الأمر. فقد نقلت وكالة “نورث برس” عن مصدر من الجماعة المسلحة السورية التي تدعى “سلطان سليمان شاه”، أن “الجيش الوطني السوري”، وهو جماعة معارضة تدعمها تركيا، “يعمل منذ أسابيع لإعداد عشرات المسلحين لإرسالهم إلى اليمن”. وبحسب التقرير، عُرض على المقاتلين رواتب تصل إلى 2500 دولار شهرياً وقيل لهم إنهم سيتمركزون على الحدود اليمنية السعودية ولن يشاركوا في الاشتباكات. ومن الجدير بالذكر أن المقاتلين السوريين الذين تم إرسالهم إلى أذربيجان تم إخبارهم أيضاً أنه ليس عليهم المشاركة في القتال، فقط ليجدوا أنفسهم في الخطوط الأمامية.

بدوره، قال مركز توثيق الانتهاكات في شمال سوريا إن وكالة الاستخبارات التركية كلفت أحد قادة المعارضة بتجنيد مقاتلين لإرسالهم إلى اليمن. وبحسب التقرير، عرض على المقاتلين 2500 دولار شهرياً حيث سيتم خصم 100 دولار من هذا المبلغ لتغطية نفقات المستندات، وسيحصل المقاتلون على 400 دولار نقداً في البداية، وسيتم دفع مبلغ 2000 دولار المتبقي لعائلاتهم بعد الانتقال إلى اليمن.

وشاركت الصحافية ليندسي سنيل تسجيلاً صوتياً يُقال إنه يعود إلى قائد في “كتائب السلطان مراد” السورية الموالية لتركيا يسعى فيه للحصول على وثائق هوية من مقاتليه الذين “يرغبون في الذهاب إلى اليمن”. وقالت سنيل في تغريدة مصاحبة للتسجيل، “حدث هذا في الأسبوعين السابقين لأذربيجان كذلك”. كان هذا في إشارة إلى نقل مقاتلين سوريين إلى الصراع الأذري الأرمني. كما أن وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي تعج بمزاعم مماثلة.

في هذه الأثناء، أسقط اليمنيون طائرة مسيّرة مسلحة تركية في منطقة الجوف، مما زاد من تصاعد المزاعم حول احتمال تورط تركيا في الصراع. وقال المتحدث باسم الجيش اليمني العقيد يحيى سريع إن الطائرة المسيّرة كانت من طراز “فيستل كرايل” تركية الصنع.

واستحوذت السعودية على هذه الطائرات بدون طيار كجزء من عقد بقيمة 200 مليون دولار وقعته شركة “فيستل” مع الرياض العام الماضي. ووفقاً للهيئة العامة للصناعات الدفاعية السعودية، تهدف الرياض إلى تصنيع ما يصل إلى 40 طائرة مسيّرة مسلحة في غضون خمس سنوات، ومن المقرر تصنيع ست طائرات منها في عام 2021.

وعلى الرغم من التكهنات المنتشرة، لا يوجد تأكيد رسمي بأن شركة “بايكار مكينا”، الشركة المصنعة للطائرات بدون طيار المستخدمة في ليبيا وشمال القوقاز، ستلعب دوراً في الصراع اليمني.

وبحسب قناة “دويتشه فيله” الألمانية، ربما لعب حزب الإصلاح اليمني دوراً وسيطاً في التقارب السعودي التركي الأخير. ونقلاً عن تصريحات وزير النقل اليمني السابق صالح اليمني لوسائل إعلام يمنية محلية، ذكرت “دويتشه فيله” بالعربية أن تحالفاً بين تركيا والسعودية في اليمن كان “وشيكاً” بعد ظهور خلافات بين ولي العهد الإماراتي محمد بن زايد آل نهيان والرياض. في غضون ذلك، يصور الإعلام الإماراتي هذه التقارير الإخبارية على أنها دعاية للإخوان المسلمين.

وبحسب صحيفة العرب، التي تتخذ من لندن مقراً لها، تعوّل تركيا وقطر وشبكة الإخوان المسلمين على مخاوف متزايدة للسعوديين في أعقاب التحول في السياسة الأميركية بشأن الحرب اليمنية وتقدم المتمردين الحوثيين نحو منطقة مأرب الغنية بالنفط والغاز. وقالت الصحيفة إن الدعوة الأولى للتعاون السعودي التركي في اليمن جاءت من حميد الأحمر، أحد قيادات حزب الإصلاح الذي يعيش في اسطنبول إذ قال إن السعودية لجأت إلى تركيا للحصول على أسلحة متطورة بعد تجميد الأسلحة الأميركية.

ورأى الكاتب أن رغبة جماعات الإخوان المسلمين في جر تركيا إلى الصراع اليمني تبدو واضحة تماماً. وادعى الصحافي المصري جمال سلطان المقيم في تركيا بأنه تم رصد طائرات بدون طيار تركية الصنع في سماء اليمن.

وسائل الإعلام التركية الموالية للحكومة تردد نغمة مماثلة. فقد زعمت صحيفة “يني شفق”، الناطقة باسم الحكومة، أن السعودية تُركت وحيدة في الصراع اليمني. وكتبت الصحيفة: “تخلت المملكة العربية السعودية عن خوفها من تركيا، فتركيا هي الدولة الوحيدة التي يمكن أن تنقذ السعودية من الفوضى التي تعيش فيها”.

وجادل برهان الدين دوران – عضو مجلس إدارة السياسة الخارجية الذي يقدم المشورة للرئيس ورئيس مركز الفكر “سيتا” الموالي للحكومة – بأن سياسات الخليج لكبح جماح إيران وتركيا قد فشلت. وقال دوران إن السعوديين “يحتاجون الآن إلى تركيا لمحاربة سياسات إيران التوسعية في المنطقة بما في ذلك اليمن”.

ويبدو أن وسائل الإعلام الإيرانية تأخذ بدورها مزاعم تورط تركيا في الصراع اليمني على محمل الجد. فقد ذكرت وكالة الأنباء الإيرانية الرسمية (إرنا) أن السلطات السعودية قررت وضع الخلافات مع الأتراك جانباً للتعاون مع أنقرة في ملف اليمن.

وخلص الكاتب إلى أنه على الرغم من أن المصالح السعودية التركية المتبادلة يمكن أن تشكل بداية جديدة في العلاقات بين أنقرة والرياض، فإن عدم وجود أي اعتراف رسمي بذلك هو مؤشر على التردد والحذر من كلا الجانبين. إذ يتطلب نزع فتيل مواجهة دامت نحو سبع سنوات بين تركيا والدول العربية دراسة شاملة لأن “الشكوك العربية” التي أذكتها طموحات تركيا التوسعية في المنطقة لا تزال قائمة ويبدو أنها تشكل مقاربة الدول العربية تجاه تركيا.

نقله إلى العربية بتصرف: هيثم مزاحم

Telephone conversation with Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel

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Telephone conversation with Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel

April 08, 2021

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/65325

Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel.

April 8, 202114:30

The two leaders had a detailed discussion on a number of topical international matters.

While exchanging opinions on ways of resolving the intra-Ukrainian crisis, the Russian President and the German Chancellor voiced concern in connection with the escalation of tensions in southeastern Ukraine. Vladimir Putin drew attention to the provocative actions of Kiev which is now deliberately aggravating the situation along the line of contact. The parties noted the need for the Kiev authorities to implement earlier agreements without fail, in particular those aimed at the launch of direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk and at legally formalising the special status of Donbass.

They urged the parties to the conflict to display restraint and to invigorate the negotiating process in order to fully implement the 2015 Minsk Package of Measures as the only legal foundation for a peace settlement. They reaffirmed their commitment to further close coordination of Russian and German efforts, including within the Normandy Format, between political advisers and foreign ministers.

Mr Putin and Ms Merkel continued to exchange opinions on the subject of Syria and noted the high priority of tasks to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria. The Russian party underscored the unacceptability of politicising issues as regards the provision of foreign assistance to the people of Syria, the restoration of the socioeconomic infrastructure and the return of refugees.

While discussing the situation in Libya, both leaders praised the establishment of interim national institutions of state authority in the country. They voiced readiness to help normalise the domestic situation and to facilitate Libya’s peaceful development. They agreed to continue coordinating their efforts in this direction.

The two leaders touched upon the situation in the Balkans and noted the importance of further well-coordinated steps to ensure stability and inter-ethnic accord, including with due consideration for the decisions of the Steering Committee of the Council to fulfil the 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or the Dayton Agreement.

In connection with the interest displayed by the Federal Chancellor, the situation regarding Alexei Navalny was touched upon.

At Vladimir Putin’s initiative, certain matters regarding the activities of foreign media outlets and NGOs in both countries were reviewed.

It was agreed to maintain close working contacts through various channels.

Crucial interview of Foreign Minister Lavrov (MUST READ!)

Crucial interview of Foreign Minister Lavrov (MUST READ!)

Source

April 02, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview given to Channel One’s Bolshaya Igra (Great Game) talk show, Moscow, April 1, 2021

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The word “war” has been heard increasingly more often lately. US and NATO politicians, even more so the Ukrainian military, have no trouble saying it. Do you have more reasons to be concerned now than ever before?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes and no. On the one hand, the confrontation has hit bottom. On the other, deep down, there’s still hope that we are adults and understand the risks associated with escalating tensions further. However, our Western colleagues introduced the word “war” into the diplomatic and international usage. “The hybrid war unleashed by Russia” is a very popular description of what the West perceives as the main event in international life. I still believe that good judgment will prevail.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Recently, the United States has ratcheted the degree of confrontation up to never-before-seen proportions. President Joe Biden said President Vladimir Putin is a “killer.” We have recalled Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov.

Sergey Lavrov: He was invited for consultations.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Hence, the question: How do we go about our relations now? How long will this pause last? When will Mr Antonov return to Washington?

Sergey Lavrov: What we heard President Biden say in his interview with ABC is outrageous and unprecedented. However, one should always see the real actions behind the rhetoric, and they began long before this interview back during the Barack Obama administration. They continued under the Trump administration, despite the fact that the 45th US President publicly spoke in favour of maintaining good relations with Russia, with which he was willing to “get along,” but was not allowed to do so. I’m talking about the consistent degradation of the deterrent infrastructure in the military-political and strategic spheres.

The ABM Treaty has long since been dropped. President Putin has more than once mentioned how, in response to his remark that George W. Bush was making a mistake and there was no need to aggravate relations, the then US President said that it was not directed against Russia. Allegedly, we can take any steps that we deem necessary in response to the US withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. Allegedly, the Americans will not take these actions as directed against them, either. But then they started establishing anti-missile systems in Europe which is the third missile defence position area. It was announced that it was built exclusively with Iran in mind. Our attempts to agree on a transparency format received support during the visit to Moscow by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, but were later rejected. We now have a missile defence area in Europe. Nobody is saying that this is against Iran now. This is clearly being positioned as a global project designed to contain Russia and China. The same processes are underway in the Asia-Pacific region. No one is trying to pretend that this is being done against North Korea.

This is a global system designed to back US claims to absolute dominance, including in the military-strategic and nuclear spheres.

Dimitri Simes can also share his assessment of what is said and written in the United States on that account. A steadfast course has now been taken towards deploying intermediate and shorter-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region.

The INF Treaty was discarded by the Americans on far-fetched pretexts. This was not our choice. In his special messages, President Vladimir Putin suggested agreeing, on a voluntary basis and even in the absence of the INF Treaty, on a mutual moratorium with corresponding verification measures in the Kaliningrad Region, where the Americans suspected our Iskander missiles of violating restrictions imposed by the now defunct treaty, and at US bases in Poland and Romania, where the MK-41 units are promoted by the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, as dual-purpose equipment.

To reiterate, this rhetoric is outrageous and unacceptable. However, President Putin has reacted to it diplomatically and politely. Unfortunately, there was no response to our offer to talk live and to dot the dottable letters in the Russian and English alphabets. All of that has long since gone hand-in-hand with a material build-up in the confrontational infrastructure, which also includes the reckless eastward advance of NATO military facilities, the transformation of a rotational presence into a permanent presence on our borders, in the Baltic States, in Norway, and Poland. So everything is much more serious than mere rhetoric.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: When will Ambassador Antonov return to Washington?

Sergey Lavrov: It’s up to President Putin to decide. Ambassador Antonov is currently holding consultations at the Foreign Ministry. He has met with the members of the committees on international affairs at the State Duma and the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly. He has had conversations at the Presidential Executive Office as well.

It is important for us to analyse the current state of our relations, which did not get to this point overnight, and are not just because of this interview, but have been going this way for years now. The fact that inappropriate language was used during President Biden’s interview with ABC shows the urgency of conducting a comprehensive analysis. This does not mean that we have just been observers and have not drawn any conclusions over the past years. But now the time has come for generalisations.

Dimitri Simes: Now that I am in Moscow, after a year in Washington, I see a striking contrast between statements by the leaders of the two countries. I think you will agree that when officials in Washington talk about relations with Russia, their pattern is simple and understandable: “Russia is an opponent.” Sometimes, Congressmen are more abrupt and call it “an enemy.” However, political leaders from the administration still call it “an opponent.” They allow cooperation with Russia on some issues that are important to the US, but generally it is emphasised that militarily Russia is “the number one opponent,” while politically it is not just a country with objectionable views but a state that “tries to spread authoritarian regimes throughout the world,” that “opposes democracy” and “undermines the foundations of the US as such.”

When I listen to you and President of Russia Vladimir Putin, I have the impression that in Moscow the picture is more complicated and has more nuances. Do you think the US is Russia’s opponent today?

Sergey Lavrov: I will not go into analysing the lexicon of “opponent,” “enemy,” “competitor” or “rival.” All these words are juggled in both official and unofficial statements. I read the other day that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that for all the differences with Russia and China, the US does not have anything against these countries. As for what the US is doing, it is simply “promoting democracy” and “upholding human rights.” I don’t know how seriously one can take this description of US policy towards Moscow and Beijing. However, if they are promoting democracy, practice must justify theory.

George W. Bush announced that democracy was established in Iraq in May 2003. Aboard an aircraft carrier, he declared that Iraq’s liberation from its totalitarian regime was completed and democracy was established in the country. There is no point in elaborating. It is enough to mention the toll of the US-unleashed war – hundreds of thousands of people. We should also remember that the “rule” of the notorious Paul Bremer resulted in the birth of ISIS, which was rapidly joined by members of the Baath Party, employees of Saddam Hussein’s secret services, who had lost their jobs. They simply needed to provide for their families. ISIS emerged not because of ideological differences. Relying on US mistakes, the radicals actively used this fact. This is what democracy in Iraq is all about.

“Democracy” in Libya was established by bombs, strikes and the murder of Muammar Gaddafi which was accompanied by Hillary Clinton’s cry of admiration. This is the result: Libya is a black hole; refugee flows bound for the north are creating problems for the EU that does not know what to do about them; illegal arms and terrorists are being smuggled through Libya to the south, bringing suffering to the Sahara-Sahel Region.

I do not wish to describe what the Americans feel towards the Russian Federation. If their statements about us being their “opponent,” “enemy,” “rival” or “competitor” are based on the desire to accuse us of the consequences of their reckless policy, we can hardly have a serious conversation with them.

Dmitri Simes: When officials in Washington, the Joseph Biden administration or Congress, call Russia an opponent and emphasise this, I think they would not agree that it is simply rhetoric. Nor would they agree that it is designed solely for domestic consumption. The Biden administration is saying that the US did not have a consistent policy towards Russia and that former US President Donald Trump let Russia “do everything the Russian Government of Vladimir Putin wanted.” Now a new sheriff has come in and is willing to talk in a way he sees fit without paying much attention to how Moscow will interpret it; and if Moscow doesn’t like it, this is good. This is being done not to evoke discontent, of course, but to show that Russia is finally realising that it cannot behave like this anymore. Is there any chance that this new Biden administration policy will compel Russia to show some new flexibility?

Sergey Lavrov: The policy you mentioned, which is promoted in the forms we are now seeing, has no chance to succeed. This is nothing new: Joseph Biden has come in, started using sanctions against Russia, toughening rhetoric and in general exerting pressure all along the line. This has been going on for many years. The sanctions started with the Barack Obama administration and, historically, even earlier. Like many other restrictions, they have simply become hypertrophied and ideology-based starting in 2013, before the events in Ukraine.

Dimitri Simes: They will tell you, and you know this better than I do, that this policy has not been pursued sufficiently consistently, that it was not energetic enough, and that now they and their NATO allies will get down to dealing with Russia seriously so as to show us that we must change our behaviour fundamentally not just when it comes to foreign policy but also our domestic policy.

Sergey Lavrov: Dimitri, you are an experienced person, you know the United States better than Vyacheslav Nikonov or I do. What else can they do to us? Which of the analysts has decided to prove the practicability of any further pressure on Russia? How well do they know history? This question is for you.

Dimitri Simes: Mr Minister, you probably know that I am not a fervent supporter of the policy of the Biden administration.

Sergey Lavrov: I am asking you as an observer and an independent expert.

Dimitri Simes: In my opinion, the Biden administration still has a sufficient set of tools it can apply against Russia, including new sanctions, the promotion of NATO infrastructure in Europe, a more “harmonised” pressure on Russia together with its allies, the advance of the US policy not closer to the traditional Old Europe (I am referring to Britain and especially to France and Germany) but to Poland, and lastly, the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine. It is now believed in Washington that it is very important to show Russia that its current policy in Ukraine has no future and that unless Russia changes its behaviour it “will pay a price.”

Sergey Lavrov: My views on the current developments range from an exercise in absurdity to a dangerous play with matches. You may know that it has become trendy to use examples from ordinary life to describe current developments. All of us played outdoors when we were children. Kids of different ages and with different kinds of family upbringing played in the same places. In fact, we all lived as one big family then. There were two or three bad boys on every street; they humiliated other kids, disciplined them, forced them to clean their boots and took their money, the few kopecks our mothers gave us to buy a pie or breakfast at school. Two, three or four years later, these small kids grew up and could fight back. We don’t even have to grow up. We do not want confrontation.

President Putin has said more than once, including after President Biden’s infamous interview with ABC that we are ready to work with the United States in the interests of our people and the interests of international security. If the United States is willing to endanger the interests of global stability and global – and so far peaceful – coexistence, I don’t think it will find many allies for this endeavour. It is true that the EU has quickly towed the line and pledged allegiance. I regard the statements made during the virtual EU summit with Joe Biden as unprecedented. I don’t remember ever hearing such oaths of allegiance before. The things they said publicly revealed their absolute ignorance of the history of the creation of the UN and many other events. I am sure that serious politicians – there are still some left in the United States – can see not just futility but also the absurdity of this policy. As far as I know, the other day 27 political organisations in the United States publicly urged the Biden administration to change the rhetoric and the essence of the US approach to relations with Russia.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: This is unlikely to happen. I believe that your example with “tough guys” on every street is too mild. The United States has gone beyond the pale, let alone the street ethics, which have always been respected. We can see this happening in Ukraine. President Biden is one of those who created modern Ukraine, the Ukrainian policy and the war in Donbass. As I see it, he takes the situation very personally, and he will try to keep it in its current tense state. How dangerous is the situation in Ukraine in light of the ongoing US arms deliveries, the decisions adopted in the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday, and the statements made by the Ukrainian military, who are openly speaking about a war?  Where do we stand on the Ukrainian front?

Sergey Lavrov: There is much speculation about the documents that the Rada passed and that President Zelensky signed. To what extent does this reflect real politics? Is it consistent with the objective of resolving President Zelensky’s domestic problem of declining ratings? I’m not sure what this is: a bluff or concrete plans. According to the information published in the media, the military, for the most part, is aware of the damage that any action to unleash a hot conflict might bring.

I very much hope this will not be fomented by the politicians, who, in turn, will be fomented by the US-led West. Once again, we see the truth as stated by many analysts and political scientists, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, being reaffirmed. They look at Ukraine from a geopolitical perspective: as a country that is close to Russia, Ukraine makes Russia a great state; without Ukraine, Russia does not have global significance. I leave this on the conscience of those who profess these ideas, their fairness and ability to appreciate modern Russia. Like President Vladimir Putin said not long ago; but these words are still relevant, – those who try to unleash a new war in Donbass will destroy Ukraine.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The US and Western diplomacy have definitely accomplished one thing: they put Russia and China in one boat. Indeed, we have already become strategic partners in deeds not just in words. You have just come back from China. You go there more often than once a year, for sure. During this trip, was there anything new that you sensed from Chinese leadership, which has recently come under unprecedented and rude attacks from the Americans? How strong are the bonds that are being established between Russia and China? How high is the bar that we can or have already reached in our relationship?

Sergey Lavrov: Like Russians, the Chinese are a proud nation. They may be more patient historically. The Chinese nation’s national and genetic code is all about being focused on a historical future. They are never limited to 4 or 5- year electoral cycles. They look further: “a big journey begins with a small step” and many other maxims coined by Chinese leaders go to show that they appreciate a goal that is not just on the horizon, but beyond the horizon. This also applies to reunifying Chinese lands – incrementally and without haste, but purposefully and persistently. Those who are talking with China and Russia without due respect or look down on us, or insult us are worthless politicians and strategists. If they do this to show how tough they are for the next parliamentary election in a couple of years, so be it.

Winston Churchill famously said that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” A big debate is underway about which one is more effective. The coronavirus infection has taken the debate up a notch. To what extent the Western democracies have shown themselves capable of opposing this absolute evil and to what extent countries with a centralised, strong and “authoritarian” government have been successful. History will be the judge. We should wait to see the results.

We want to cooperate; we have never accused anyone of anything, or mounted a media campaign against anyone, even though we are being accused of doing this. As soon as President Putin announced the creation of a vaccine, he proposed establishing international cooperation. You do remember what was being said about Sputnik V. At first, they said that it was not true, and then that this was propaganda and the only purpose was to promote Russia’s political interests in the world. We can see the ripple effect of this. On March 30, Vladimir Putin held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. We sensed a more realistic commitment to cooperate rather than try to engage in “vaccine discrimination” or “vaccine propaganda.”

Getting back to the heart of the matter, by and large, no one should be rude to other people. But what we see instead is a dialogue with a condescending tone towards great civilisations like Russia and China. We are being told what to do. If we want to say something, we are asked to “leave them alone.” This was the case in Anchorage when the discussion came to human rights. Antony Blinken said that there were many violations in the United States, but the undercurrent was clear – they would sort it out themselves and are already doing so. However, in Xinjiang Uygur, Hong Kong and Tibet, to name a few, things should be approached differently. It’s not just about a lack of diplomatic skills. It runs much deeper. In China, I sensed that this patient nation, which always upholds its interests and shows a willingness to find a compromise, was put in a stalemate. The other day, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson made a relevant comment. I don’t remember that ever happening before.

With regard to whether we are being pushed into the arms of China or China is being pushed into our arms, everyone remembers Henry Kissinger’s words that the United States should have relations with China which are better than relations between China and Russia, and vice versa. He saw this historical process and knew which way it could go. Many are writing now that the United States is committing a huge strategic mistake making efforts against Russia and China at a time, thereby catalysing our rapprochement. Moscow and Beijing are not allying against anyone. During my visit to China, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and I adopted a Joint Statement on Certain Issues of Global Governance in Modern Conditions, where we emphasised the unacceptability of violating international law or substituting it by some secretly drafted rules, of interference in other countries’ internal affairs and, overall, everything that contradicts the UN Charter. There are no threats there. The documents signed by the leaders of Russia and China always emphasise the fact that bilateral strategic interaction and multifaceted partnership are not directed against anyone, but focus exclusively on the interests of our peoples and countries. They build on a clear-cut and objective foundation of overlapping interests. We look for a balance of interests, and there are many areas where it has been achieved and is being used for the benefit of all of us.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Have you noticed any change in China’s position? It is clear that Beijing is in a very tight situation. How far is China willing to go in its confrontation with the United States? It is obvious that they are now responding harshly. Sanctions are being introduced against Beijing, so it responds with tough counter-sanctions, and not only against the United States, but also against its allies, who are also joining the sanctions. Europe has joined this confrontation. Are we prepared to synchronise our policies with China, for example, our counter-sanctions, as we did with Belarus? Do we have a common strategy to counter the increasing pressure from the so-called alliance of democracies?

Sergey Lavrov: There is a general strategy, and I just mentioned it. Along with the Statement signed during my visit to China, a comprehensive Leaders’ Statement was adopted last year. Now we are preparing the next document, which will be signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation. Our strategic treaty will be renewed.

These documents spell out our line of conduct. We are not planning, and will not plan, any schemes to retaliate for what they are doing to us. I do not think that we will synchronise our responses to any new sanction acts against China and Russia.

Our level of cooperation continues to grow qualitatively.

You mentioned military alliances. There is popular speculation out there that Russia and China might conclude a military alliance. First, one of the documents signed at the highest level underscored that our relations are not a military alliance, and we are not pursuing this goal. We regard NATO as an example of a military alliance in the traditional sense, and we know that we do not need such an alliance. NATO clearly breathed a sigh of relief after the Biden administration replaced Donald Trump. Everyone was happy to again have someone to tell them what to do. Emmanuel Macron still occasionally tries to vainly mention the EU’s strategic autonomy initiative, but no one else in Europe even wants to discuss it. It’s over, the boss is here.

That kind of alliance is a Cold War alliance. I would prefer thinking in terms of the modern era where multi-polarity is growing. In this sense, our relationship with China is completely different from that of a traditional military alliance. Maybe in a certain sense, it is an even closer bond.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The “alliance of democracies” will be created. This is obvious although fewer people in Russia still believe that it’s about democracy. In its election, its attitude towards freedom of the media and opportunities to express opposing views, the US has made it very clear that it has big problems with democracy. Europe also gives examples that compel us to doubt its efforts to promote a strong democratic project. After all, it still holds a position as a player under a big boss.

Vladimir Putin had a conversation with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel via videoconference on March 30 of this year. Without Vladimir Zelensky, by the way. This is the Normandy format minus Ukraine, which resulted in a bitter response from Kiev.

They discussed a broad range of issues. Meanwhile, you have said more than once that our relations with the EU are frozen or absent altogether. Do you mean that we stay in contact or that contact is possible with individual EU members but not with the EU as a whole?

Sergey Lavrov: This is exactly the case, and this was also mentioned during the March 30 talks, and during Vladimir Putin’s conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel. We are surprised that this assessment offends the EU. This is simply an objective fact.

It took years to develop relations between Moscow and the EU. By the time the state coup in Ukraine took place these relations included: summits twice a year; annual meetings of all members of the Russian Government with all members of the European Commission; about 17 sectoral dialogues on different issues, from energy to human rights; and four common spaces based on Russia-EU summit resolutions, each of which had its own roadmap.

We were holding talks on visa-free travel. It is indicative that the EU broke them off back in 2013, long before the crisis in Ukraine. As some of our colleagues told us, when it came to a decision on signing the proposed agreement, the aggressive Russophobic minority adamantly opposed it: Russia cannot receive visa-free travel status with the EU before Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova do. This is the entire background. What the EU did after that, braking all channels of systematic dialogue was a burst of emotion. They took it out on us because the putschists insulted the West by throwing out the document signed by Yanukovich and the opposition the day before, this despite the fact that Germany, France and Poland had endorsed this document. The first actions of the new authorities were to remove the Russian language from daily life and to expel Russians from Crimea. When Russian-speakers and Russians in Ukraine opposed this and asked to be left alone, a so-called “anti-terrorist operation” was launched against them.

In effect, the EU imposed sanctions on us and broke off all communication channels because we raised our voice in defence of Russian citizens and ethnic Russians in Ukraine, Donbass and Crimea. We try to discuss issues with them when they start making claims against us. They probably understand this; I hope they are still seasoned politicians. But if they understand this but don’t want to consider it in their practical policy, it means that they are being charged with Russophobia or cannot do anything about the aggressive Russophobic minority in the EU.

Dimitri Simes: I believe when we talk about the EU, it’s important to look at what the EU is and to what extent it has changed compared to what it used to be and what it was supposed to be when it was founded. The EU was primarily designed as an organisation for economic cooperation.

No political component was even envisioned at the start. It was about the EU contributing to European economic integration. The possibility was even mentioned of Russia playing some associated role in that process. But then they said the EU should also have some common values. At first, the idea was that those common values were the cement of the EU itself. Then a new idea emerged in Warsaw that it would be nice for those European values ​​(since they are actually universal) to spread to other regions, as well as for Russia to respect them, or even to obey them. When I look at the EU’s approach to Ukraine, the conflict in Donbass and the demands to return Crimea to Kiev, it seems to me that the EU is becoming a missionary organisation. When you deal with crusaders, trying to reckon with them or appealing to their logic and conscience is probably useless. Do you not think that the EU has journeyed to a place where there are limited opportunities for partnership and great potential for confrontation? Or am I being too pessimistic?

Sergey Lavrov: No, I agree with you, absolutely. This is a missionary style – lecturing others while projecting superiority. It is important to see this tendency, as it has repeatedly brought Europe to trouble.

This is actually the case. Established as the Coal and Steel Community, then the European Economic Community – if you look at the EU now, look at their values, they are already attacking their own members like Poland and Hungary, just because these countries have somewhat different cultural and religious traditions. You said it originated in Poland. I actually forget who started this…

Dimitri Simes: I first heard it from Polish delegates at a conference.

Sergey Lavrov: Now Poland itself is facing the consequences of its ideas, only not outside the EU, but within the organisation.

When anyone tries to impose any values on Russia, ​​related, as they believe, to democracy and human rights, we have this very specific response: all universal values ​​are contained in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights that everyone signed. Any values invented now, which they try to impose on us or other countries, are not universal. They have not been agreed upon by the entire international community. Even inside the EU, look at those street protests! A couple of years ago, they had protests in France in defence of the traditional family, the concepts of “mother,” “father,” and “children.” This lies deep. Playing with traditional values ​​is dangerous.

As to the EU once inviting Russia as an associate member, we never agreed to sign an association document. Now the same is being done with regard to the Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Ukraine, and Moldova. As for Russia’s relations with the EU, which Brussels destroyed, only one thing remained – the basic document on the terms of trade and investment. It was indeed the subject of negotiation between the Brussels Commission and the Russian Federation. This is a document that remains valid. We cooperate with individual countries, but not with the EU, because those were the terms agreed upon, and their practical implementation is going through bilateral channels. The only thing the EU is doing in this respect now is imposing sanctions and banning its members from fulfilling some parts of this agreement because they want to “punish Russia.” That’s it, there are no other ties.

We are being told that we are deliberately derailing our relations (although the facts are simply outrageous), trying to shift our ties with Europe to bilateral channels, wanting to “split up” the European Union. We don’t want to split anyone up. We always say that we are interested in a strong and independent European Union. But if the EU chooses a non-independent position in the international arena, as we just discussed, this is their right. We cannot do anything about it. We have always supported its independence and unity. But in the current situation, where Brussels broke off all relations, when certain European countries reach out to us (we have not tried to lure anyone) with proposals to talk, to visit any of the sides and discuss some promising projects in bilateral relations, how can we refuse our partners? It is quite unfair (even a shame) to try to present such meetings as part of a strategy to split up the EU. They have enough problems of their own that split them up.

Dimitri Simes: This is a philosophical issue in Russia’s relations with the EU. When the EU has imposed anti-China sanctions, China made a tough response. This was an unpleasant surprise for the EU and caused indignation. Meanwhile, Brussels does not expect such a response from Russia in the firm belief that Russia has no economic levers to oppose the EU. To my knowledge, Russia has not imposed any serious sanctions on the EU.

This is an interesting situation. Russia supplies Europe with 33 percent of its gas. The figures for oil are about the same. I think during all this time Russia has proved convincingly that it won’t use energy for political leverage in Europe. Understandably, Russia has been interested in this, especially when it comes to the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It seems to me that certain people in Europe have forgotten that if Russia does not do something, it doesn’t mean that it cannot do it, or won’t be compelled to do it if the EU’s pressure on Russia crosses a line. Do you think this is possible in theory? Or does Russia completely rule out such actions?

Sergey Lavrov: You are saying (metaphorically) that they either have not read (which is most likely) or have forgotten the epic about Ilya Muromets who slept on the stove while nobody paid attention? This is not a threat. We will never use energy supplies or our oil and gas routes in Europe to this end. This is a position of principle regardless of anything else.

Dimitri Simes: Even of you are disconnected from SWIFT and everything else?

Sergey Lavrov: We will not do that. This is a position of principle for President of Russia Vladimir Putin. We will not create a situation where we force EU citizens “freeze.” We will never do this. We have nothing in common with Kiev that shut down water supplies to Crimea and takes delight in it. This is a disgraceful position in the world arena. Frequently accusing us of using energy as an instrument of influence, as a weapon, the West keeps silence on what Kiev is doing with water supplies to Crimea. I believe the provision of basic needs on which the daily life of common citizens depends, should never be an object of sanctions.

Dimitri Simes: In this case, what do you mean by referring to “the phenomenon” of Ilya Muromets?

Sergey Lavrov: It is possible to respond in different ways. We have always warned that we will be ready to respond. We will respond to any malicious actions against us but not necessarily in a symmetric manner. By the way, speaking about the impact of the sanctions on civilians, look what is taking place in Syria under the Caesar Act. My colleagues in Europe and, incidentally, in the region, whisper that they are horrified by the way this act has eliminated any opportunity to do business with Syria. The goal is clear – to stifle the Syrians to make them revolt and overthrow Bashar al-Assad.

Now a few words about our and China’s responses to the European sanctions. After all, China also avoided suspending economic activity. It simply imposed sanctions on a number of individuals and companies that held certain anti-China positions. We are doing basically the same.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: As we know, Ilya Muromets did not shut down oil and gas supplies. He used other methods that were often symmetrical. I think we also have a solid set of instruments.

Don’t we exaggerate the importance of the EU in the modern world? It has an identity and there are European values. I know this since I have dealt with European MPs and experts for many years.

However, I have the impression that there are two main values: the first one is the euro and the second is LGBT and 60 more letters that describe this notion linked with sexual identity, their presence, absence, or mix.

The EU is undergoing a crisis – Brexit. Britain has left the EU. The economic crisis is very bad. Probably, in Europe it is worse than elsewhere. The economy has dropped by up to 10 percent in many countries. The vaccine-related crisis has shown that Europe cannot counter the virus and adopt a common policy. These problems are emerging at all levels. It cannot draft a common economic policy, migration rules, and so on. Maybe, we are really paying too much attention to Europe? Maybe we can act without looking back at this “falling” structure?

Sergey Lavrov: But where are we paying too much attention to Europe? We have a very simple position that President of Russia Vladimir Putin has set forth many times: we do not feel hurt. As we know, hurt people get the short end of the stick, or as we say in Russia, hurt people are made to carry water, something we are short of in Crimea. We will always be willing to revive our relations, practically to raise them from the ashes, but to do this we must know what the EU is interested in. We will not knock on a locked door. They are well aware of our proposals, just as the Americans know our proposals on strategic stability, cyber security and many other things. We have said to all of them: “Our friends and colleagues, we are ready for this. We understand that you will have some reciprocal ideas but we have not yet heard them. As soon as you are ready, let’s sit down and discuss them, seeking a balance of interests.” Meanwhile, now we are being accused of neglecting policy on the EU, so I don’t think we are courting this alliance or exaggerating its importance. It determines its place in the world itself. We have already talked about this today.

As for European values, we have many ongoing debates. Some people need European price tags more than European values. They want to travel there for shopping, recreation, buy some property and return home. As I said, our common values lie in our history, the mutual influence of our cultures, literature, art and music. They are great.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: As for modern European culture and art, have they really…

Sergey Lavrov: I am referring to our historical roots.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Because I think today’s Europe is pretty empty in terms of culture.

Sergey Lavrov: There are some funny songs; we can listen to them in the car sometimes.

Dimitri Simes: Speaking of relations with the United States, I would like to ask you a personal question because you lived and worked there for a long time when you were Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Of course, you have also been dealing with the US as the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation. I lived in the US for almost 50 years.

Sergey Lavrov: Why past tense?

Dimitri Simes: I am now in Moscow. When I look at the United States today, I have the impression that it is undergoing a cultural revolution. I think that if many people in the Joseph Biden administration or the Democrats in Congress are told this, they would not feel offended in any way. They will say that a cultural revolution is long overdue, that it is finally necessary to eradicate racism, give equal and not-so-equal prevailing opportunities to sexual orientation minorities because they were also discriminated against and to develop a true democracy that requires that all those who want to vote can vote. In practice, this means that millions of people will have an opportunity to vote without necessarily being US citizens at all. This is why the Democrats emphatically oppose a ban on voting on Sundays. As you know, there was never any voting in the US on Sundays. Sunday is called God’s day. The Democrats wanted Sunday elections so that buses could go to Afro-American churches and take people to the polling stations.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Why take them by bus? They can vote by mail.

Dimitri Simes: Both options are available.

Sergey Lavrov: Why not put a ballot box right in a church?

Dimitri Simes: Exactly. Do you believe the United States is, in many respects, evolving into a different country and that this is not necessarily an irreversible process, though a momentous one? Also, would you agree that this process is not a purely American internal matter because it goes hand in hand with the emergence of a new revolutionary ideology that requires that American values spread around the world and that these American models should not be resisted as they are now in Russia and China? Can this lead to an existential conflict?

Sergey Lavrov: We will talk about this but, first, let me finish what I was saying about European culture. Here is, in my view, a telling illustration of the state of European culture today. If we talk about revolutions, including a cultural revolution, the Eurovision  contest speaks volumes.  What they are doing now to the Belarusians is repulsive. This is sheer censorship that goes like this: since we – nobody knows who exactly, some anonymous individuals – fancy that we heard some innuendoes in your song, we will not allow you to take part in the contest unless you have another song. But then the same fate befalls another Belarusian song. What does this have in common with art, culture or democracy?

As for a cultural revolution in the United States, I do feel that processes which deserve to be described like this are unfolding there. Everyone probably wants to eradicate racism and, as for us, we have never had any doubt regarding this. We were trailblazers behind the movement to secure equal rights for all people, regardless of the colour of their skin. However, we should beware that we do not slip into another extreme, the one we have observed during the Black Lives Matter events, and into aggression against white people, white US citizens.

The other day we marked an international day designated to increase awareness of this issue and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking at a General Assembly meeting, said that the previous year had been a year of the most serious and numerous manifestations of white supremacy. I have asked to be given the full text of his speech, as I want to understand what specifically he had in mind. If this is about having a sense of a trend you talked about and the willingness to follow this trend, it is lamentable. This is still the United Nations Organisation and not a venue for promoting US concepts, some US trends.

As for why they need this, yes, they want to spread this to the rest of the world. They have a huge potential to achieve this goal. Hollywood has also started to change its rules, so that everything reflects the diversity of contemporary society, which is also a form of censorship, art control and the way of imposing some artificial restrictions and requirements on others. I have seen black actors perform in Shakespeare’s comedies. The only thing I do not know is when a white actor will play Othello. You see, this is nothing less than absurdity. Political correctness reduced to absurdity will lead to no good.

The other tool is social networks and internet platforms, as well as servers located in the United States. The US flatly refuses to discuss ways of either making internet governance more democratic or establishing common rules regulating social networks for the sake of avoiding the recurrence of the situation with TikTok and other social networks we encountered during the recent events in Russia, including the spread of abominable information, like personal abuse, pedophilia and many other things. We have already approached TikTok and other social networks about the need to establish elementary rules of respect and propriety but the Americans are unwilling to make these types of rules universal.

In Anchorage, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken lectured the Chinese on human rights, ethnic minorities and democracy in China. Indeed, Mr Blinken said they [in the US] also had to address certain issues in this field but they would do it on their own. During talks with the Americans – the same goes for the Europeans – as soon as you start offering to discuss ways of democratising international relations or the supremacy of law on an international scale, they invariably get away from the subject. They want to replace international law with their own rules, which have nothing in common with the supremacy of law globally, on a universal scale. I already talked about large-scale rallies in France in defence of traditional family values. It appears that to secure the rights of one group of people, the rights of another group have to be infringed upon. That is, promoting these values around the world is not an end in itself, but rather a tool for ensuring their dominance.

Dimitri Simes: Richard Nixon once told Nikita Khrushchev that there would be no true harmony or true partnership between the Soviet Union and America unless the Soviet Union stops spreading its ideology. And that was a big problem in the Brezhnev era, I must say, because they discussed a détente while at the same time supporting a continued international class struggle. As I see it, Leonid Brezhnev was doing it without much conviction. But now, things have turned the other way around. Now the collective West is eager to proliferate its ideology and values. And they seem to be doing so with far greater conviction and perseverance than the Soviet Union under Leonid Brezhnev ever tried. Does this pose a risk of collision?

Sergey Lavrov: Under Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet Union saw no threat to its existence. One can argue whether that stance was far-sighted enough, but that is how it was. Today’s West senses a threat to its dominance. It is a fact. So all those wiggling moves, including the invention of some ‘rules’ – as in the rules-based international order, something the West has come up with to replace the UN Charter – they reflect precisely this tendency.

I agree that we have swapped positions, or rather the Soviet Union and the modern West have. I don’t think this will offend anyone since this is not a big secret. I spoke with Rex Tillerson when he was US Secretary of State. He is a thoughtful and experienced politician and diplomat. It was good to work with him. We disagreed on most things, but we always wanted to continue the dialogue to bring our positions just a little bit closer at least. When he first told me they were concerned about Russia’s interference in some elections, I said they had not proved anything to us yet, and all we heard was accusations. When they began to accuse us of interfering in their elections, we repeatedly proposed using the special channel we had for exchanging information about threats to information networks and organisations. They refused. We had repeatedly offered dialogue even before that, when Barack Obama was president, from October 2016 until Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. They always refused.

I pointed out to Tillerson that they had in fact directly stipulated in legislation that the US State Department should spend $20 million a year to support Russian civil society and promote democracy. That was not even a suspicion on our part as they did it openly (for example, the Ukraine Support Act). There was nothing to prove – they just announced that they would interfere. He told me that was totally different. I asked him why, and he said because we promoted authoritarianism, and they spread democracy. That was it.

Dimitri Simes: And he said it with sincere conviction, didn’t he?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Mr Lavrov, naturally, this policy leads to a drastic polarisation. The polarisation of international relations is a dangerous thing. We remember the early 19th century, and the early 20th century. It always ended in wars. The Americans, losing their global dominance, will create (they have already announced this) a new ‘alliance of democracies.’ I mean create American and pro-American alliances, compelling everyone else to make their choice. This polarisation will increase. What will this mean for the world and for the alliances where Russia is a member? I mean BRICS (which I think they will try to split up), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). How far can this go? How dangerous is it?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a deliberate policy and an extension of the agenda we are talking about – about the United States promoting democracy and spreading benefit. The Americans and Europe are very active (but the Americans are especially active) in Central Asia. They are trying to create their own formats such as C5+1. Russia is also part of a 5+1 format in Central Asia, in addition to the SCO, CIS, EAEU and CSTO – one that involves the foreign ministers of five Central Asian countries and your humble servant. That format is useful. True, the volume of economic ties that the US and the EU are now building with Central Asia is still incomparable with our economic interpenetration, but they are pursuing an unambiguous goal to weaken our ties with our allies and strategic partners in every possible way.

The numerous initiatives around the Afghan reconciliation and around the Indo-Pacific region envision Central Asia’s reorientation from its current vector to the South – to help rebuild Afghanistan and at the same time weaken its ties with the Russian Federation.

I could talk for a long time about the Indo-Pacific region and the Indo-Pacific concept. That multi-layered initiative is aimed at hindering China’s Belt and Road Initiative and limiting the Chinese influence in the region, creating constant irritants for that country. There have been some slips about creating an ‘Asian NATO.’ Although in the US interpretation the Indo-Pacific region is described as ‘free and open,’ the chances that positions will be worked out through an equal or open process there are slim. It is already obvious that it isn’t ‘open’. China has not been invited; rather, that country is declared a target for containment. We have not been invited either, which means the attitude to Russia is similar. I would say those are long-term trends. We are talking about this frankly with our neighbours and closest allies. I am confident that they understand all these threats. None of them even considers the possibility of anyone telling them who to talk or not talk to. It is their sovereign right to choose their partners.

The term ‘multi-vector’ has become semi-abusive, but we are not giving up the multi-vector approach. We are open to cooperation and friendship with everyone who is ready for relations based on equality, mutual respect, compromise and balance of interests. That our Western colleagues are clearly abusing this approach, especially in post-Soviet countries, is an obvious fact.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Is it possible to avoid the actual military scenario in these circumstances? Isn’t it time to create an alliance of free countries given the role reversal that has taken place in the modern world? An alliance, perhaps, of genuine democracies that will oppose the ongoing all-out attack?

Sergey Lavrov: We will not get involved in this kind of political engineering. Russia is committed to the United Nations. When France and Germany put forward the effective multilateralism concept, we asked them what it meant. There was silence followed by joint articles written by the foreign ministers of France and Germany stating that the European Union is an example of effective multilateralism, and everyone needs to adapt to the European processes. Our question why the readily available and universal UN multilateral platform is not a good option remained unanswered. However, the answer is there, and we mentioned it more than once today. They are making up the rules that the international order is supposed to be based on.

Dimitri Simes: Mr Minister, we have taken up much of your time and we appreciate it. But we cannot let you go without asking you one more personal question. What is it like to be Russia’s Foreign Minister in this rapidly changing world?

You have worked in several completely different eras. When you were Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, it was a period of Russia’s “romantic infatuation” with the United States, though perhaps not quite on the terms that were beneficial for Russia. In the early 21st century, Russia was in search of partnerships. Well, then we got what we are witnessing now. How do you, a person who, in many ways, is the architect of this era, a witness and a participant of this process, find your work in this very complex role?

Sergey Lavrov: To put it short, I never get bored. That is if we are talking about the different eras in my career. We all lived in these eras, and we have seen these transitions. You asked me earlier whether the United States has changed. It has. A lot.

Dimitri Simes: Have you changed?

Sergey Lavrov: Probably. It’s not for me to say. A person perceives the environment as a constantly evolving process. People grow up, get smarter or dumber, but they have no way of seeing it.

Dimitri Simes: Do you think we have all become disappointed in many ways, but we have grown, too, as a result of these experiences, and, of course, in the first place, a person holding such positions as yours?

Sergey Lavrov: This is true, of course. How can this not influence the formation of a person? The personality never stops to evolve. It is something that lasts until the end of our lives. Those revolutionary developments had a strong influence on me. I believe the 9/11 attacks were the turning point in the American life. I was in Manhattan, in New York, at the time, and I felt that odour. I was having a hard time trying to make a phone call, because the phones went dead. Since then, New York has become a different city. This free city, living its own life around the clock and enjoying it, became wary and started looking over its shoulder to see if there was someone around who could hurt it.

This suspicion then spread deeply into American society. There were probably serious reasons for that. I have to commend the US intelligence services, because since then, apart from the Boston Marathon, which we had warned them about, there have been no other terrorist attacks. However, wariness and aloofness can still be felt. Perhaps, there are people who want to take advantage of this in order to do things that you just mentioned. If 11 million Americans become eligible to vote, welcome to the one-party system, Back in the USSR.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Mr Lavrov, thank you very much for the interview. Now that we are within the historic walls of the Foreign Ministry’s Mansion on Spiridonovka, a place where history and great diplomacy were made, including the diplomacy of the great powers, I would like to wish us all the return of diplomacy. If it comes back, as President Vladimir Putin is conveying to President Joe Biden, in the form of a live-stream dialogue, then The Great Game will be at your service and at the service of the two presidents.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you. President Biden has already said that diplomacy has returned to US foreign policy. Your dream has come true.

source: https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4662534

مصر وحالة اللامعقول… أمن قوميّ أم أمن الرئيس؟ Egypt and the state of the absurd … national security or the security of the president?

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

مصر وحالة اللامعقول… أمن قوميّ أم أمن الرئيس؟

سعادة مصطفى أرشيد

أثار حادث جنوح الباخرة «إيفر غيفن» منذ أيام وسدّها مجرى الملاحة في قناة السويس، تسونامي من الأخبار والتعليقات والتحليلات، اعتمد كثير منها على نظرية المؤامرة، التي وإنْ كانت غالباً على خطأ، إلا أنها قد تصيب أحياناً، ومما لا شك فيه، أنّ تأثيرات هذا الحدث ولا بد، استراتيجية بامتياز، وسوف تكون لها تداعيات مهمة في الزمن القريب، انه ليس حدثاً عابراً.

تتعطل الموانئ السورية، اللاذقية، بانياس وطرطوس، يتمّ تدمير ميناء بيروت بفعل فاعل، يتوقف ميناءا عدن والحديدة عن العمل بسبب الحرب والحصار، وأخيراً تجنح سفينة «إيفر غيفن» التي تحمل بضائع يقلّ وزنها قليلاً عن ربع مليار طن بسبب الرياح، والنتيجة أن تغلق قناة السويس أمام حركة الملاحة، فيما تعمل موانئ الخليج بنشاط، مثلها مثل موانئ حيفا وأسدود، ويتداول الجميع الحديث عن قناة بديلة، تصل بين البحر الأبيض المتوسط والبحر الأحمر، من عسقلان حتى أيله (ايلات)، وعلى شواطئها مدن صناعيّة وتجمّعات عمالية وفنادق ومراكز ترفيه.

فكرة قناة السويس في البداية، ارتبطت بالغرب وتوسّعه وحركة تجارته العالميّة وتنافسه الاستعماريّ، حفر المصريون القناة بجهدهم وعرقهم في منتصف القرن التاسع عشر، وفقدوا مئات ألوف الأرواح أثناء عملية الحفر، وذلك باستعمال الفأس والقفة، وحققوا خلال عشر سنوات، معجزة هندسيّة تفوق في روعتها وفوائدها وتأثيرها أهرامات الجيزة، لكن ورثتهم لم يحافظوا عليها، وحتى عملية تطويرها التي انتهت عام 2015 لم تكن ذات بال وأهميّة، وهنا يتضح أنّ المسألة ليست مسألة سفينة جانحة بحادث عرضي، أو رياح عاتية، وإنما فشل للنظام.

في عام 1888 وقعت اتفاقية القسطنطينية، لإدارة قناة السويس والتي حدّدت حقوق السفن العابرة للقناة، وكذلك الحقوق والواجبات المترتبة على مصر، ومع تقدّم الزمان، تطوّر القانون الدولي المتعلق بالمضايق والممرات وأضاف على اتفاقية القسطنطينية التي لا تزال معمولاً ومعترفاً بها، بنوداً عديدة تحكم وتنظم عمل القناة، وهي تشمل حرية الملاحة والمرور السريع البريء والآمن للجميع، ومن دون تمييز تجاه العلم الذي ترفعه السفينة الذي يمثل الدولة التي سجلت السفينة بها، ويحظر كلّ من الاتفاقية المذكورة والقانون الدولي إغلاقها، وفي حين تملك مصر حقوقاً في القناة باعتبارها جهداً مصرياً في أرض مصرية، إلا أنها في الوقت عينه ترتب عليها مسؤوليات، وذلك بأن تقوم بما يلزم من أجل سلامة المرور، وصيانة الممر، وتأمين وسائل تيسير الملاحة، وضمان سلامة السفن، وحيازة ما يلزم من آليات الطوارئ في حال تعطلت القناة. فالممرات المائيّة يحظر إغلاقها لما في ذلك من تأثير على السلم العالمي، وأمام خطورة هذا الحدث الذي أثبت أنّ الدولة الفاشلة غير قادرة على إدارة هذا الممر الحيوي، الأمر الذي قد يضع إمكانيّة وضع إدارة القناة تحت رعاية دوليّة أمراً ممكناً.

الفشل عند هذا النظام، لم يبدأ عند حادث السفينة، فالنظام أصلاً لم يستطع المحافظة لا على مكانته العربيّة والأفريقية والإسلامية فحسب، ولا على علاقاته بجواره غرباً في ليبيا التي عادت وستعود عليه بالكوارث، مقابل خدمته لأولياء النعمة ومصدر بقائه في الحكم، أو جنوباً في السودان، الذي تقسّم وأخذ ينحو بشطريه الجنوبي والشمالي بعيداً عن مصر وعن المحيط العربي، وفشل النظام في التعاطي مع سدّ النهضة، الذي أخذ يمتلئ بالماء وأصبح أمراً واقعاً، فيما رجال النظام وقططه السمان يموّلون السدّ المعادي ويقرضون الحكومة الإثيوبيّة، بشرائهم سندات تمويل السدّ، لإماتتهم وإماتة المصريين عطشاً، مقابل فوائد ربوية، فيما حلفاء النظام السعوديين والإماراتيين، الذين يحارب نظام عبد الفتاح السيسي من أجلهم، نراهم يقفون إلى جانب إثيوبيا.

لم يرَ نظام العسكر في مصر، من مخاطر على بلده من الحرب الأهلية وليبيا، ولا في جنوب السودان، وما يحضّر له من سدود ومشاريع مائية، بخبرة وشركات (إسرائيلية) وأموال خليجيّة تقضي على إمدادات المياه من بحيرة فكتوريا والنيل الأبيض، ولا أمام خطر العطش الذي سيصيب مصر بعد اكتمال المشاريع على جميع روافد النيل، ويتنازل عن جزر مهمة لأمنه القوميّ في مضائق البحر الأحمر – تيران وصنافير – والتي كانت السبب المباشر لحرب عام 1967، والتي ستكون متكآت ملاحيّة لمشروع القناة البديلة.

إنها هزيمة لنظام العسكر، لصورة الدولة الشرقيّة في أذهان العالم، أنهم مثال للهزيمة في الحرب، والفشل في الإدارة، والاستبداد بالحكم، وعلى سبيل المثال البسيط، نرى وزير النقل المصري وهو جنرال متقاعد لا يرى في حادث السفينة مسؤوليّة إلا مسؤولية الرياح، التي استطاعت إزاحة سفينة متطوّرة يصل وزنها مع حمولتها إلى ربع مليار طن، في حين يتمّ تداول روايات سخيفة حول سبب الحادث والمسؤولية عنه.

هذا انكشاف لعورات نظام متهافت، فشل في الحفاظ على البلد وعلى أمنها القوميّ، يخوض حروباً بالوكالة في ليبيا، وأخرى في جنوب جزيرة العرب، يتحالف مع «إسرائيل» واليونان في خطوط الغاز، ويفرّط بحقوقه المائيّة التي هي سرّ بقاء مصر المعروفة في التاريخ باسم هبة النيل، عاجز عن التعامل مع الأزمات الاقتصادية الخانقة والمتلاحقة وغير قادر على حلها، البطالة تتفاقم وتزداد بمعدلات مزعجة وترافقها انهيارات اجتماعيّة، فساد مستشرٍ في كافة قطاعات الإدارة القاصرة، أبراج سكنية تنهار فوق أجساد ساكنيها، فيما لا يرى من مهدّدات للأمن القومي إلا في المعارضة الداخليّة، وزجّ 60 ألف من مواطنيه في السجون، بتهمة الانتماء للإخوان المسلمين، فيما بعضهم من الأقباط…

إنه نظام العسكر، ومصر التي نامت نواطير أمنها القومي ومصالحها العليا، فيما عاثت بها الثعالب ضراً وفساداً، لكم تحتاج إلى حاكم بعقلية السلطان العثماني محمود الثاني، الذي أنهى سيطرة العسكر الانكشاريّ على الدولة، بعد أن أصبحوا عبئاً ثقيلاً عليها، ومصدراً من مصادر ضعفها وهوانها.

اليوم في أمّ الدنيا كما يحب أهل مصر تسميتها، نرى في نظام العسكر، انّ الحمار قد أكل الأمن القوميّ وأبقى على أمن الحاكم وضرورات بقائه.

*سياسي فلسطيني مقيم في جنين – فلسطين المحتلة

Egypt and the state of the absurd … national security or the security of the president?

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SAADA Mustafa Arshid

The accident of the delinquency of the ship «Ever given» days ago and blocked the course of navigation in the Suez Canal, a tsunami of news, comments and analysis, many of which relied on the conspiracy theory, which although often wrong, but may sometimes infect, and no doubt, that the effects of this event must, strategy par excellence, and will have important repercussions in the near time, it is not a passing event.

The Syrian ports, Latakia, Banias and Tartus are destroyed by an actor, the ports of Aden and Hodeidah stop working due to the war and siege, and finally the ship “Ever Geven” which carries goods weighing just under a quarter of a billion tons due to the wind, the result is that the Suez Canal is closed to shipping traffic, while the Gulf ports are working actively, as are the ports of Haifa and Ashdod, and everyone talks about an alternative channel, connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, from Ashkelon to Ayla (Eilat), and on its shores industrial cities, labor gatherings, hotels and entertainment centers.

The idea of the Suez Canal at the beginning, associated with the West and its expansion and the movement of its world trade and its colonial competition, the Egyptians dug the canal with their effort and sweat in the middle of the nineteenth century, and lost hundreds of thousands of lives during the drilling process, using the axe and the shell, and achieved in ten years, an engineering miracle beyond In its splendor and its benefits and impact the Pyramids of Giza, but their heirs did not preserve it, and even the process of development that ended in 2015 was not significant and important, and here it is clear that the issue of a ship is not a matter of ship accidentally, or high winds, but a failure of the system.

In 1888, the Constantinople Agreement was signed for the management of the Suez Canal, which defined the rights of ships crossing the canal, as well as the rights and duties of Egypt, and as time progressed, the development of international law on straits and corridors, added to the Convention of Constantinople, which is still in force and recognized, many clauses governing and regulating the operation of the canal, which includes freedom of navigation and rapid, innocent and safe passage for all, without discrimination against the flag that the ship flies in, which represents the country in which the ship is registered, and both the aforementioned convention and international law prohibits its closure. While Egypt has rights in the canal as an Egyptian effort on Egyptian territory, it has responsibilities to do what is necessary for traffic safety, maintain the corridor, secure the means of facilitating navigation, ensure the safety of ships, and possess the necessary emergency mechanisms in the event of a breakdown of the canal. Waterways are prohibited from being closed because of the impact on world peace, and in the face of the seriousness of this event, which has proved that the failed State is unable to manage this vital corridor, which may place the possibility of placing the management of the canal under international auspices.

Failure with this system did not begin when the ship accident, for the regime originally could not preserve its Arab, African and Islamic status only, nor its relations with its side to the west in Libya, which returned and will return to it with disasters, in return for its service to the saints of grace and the source of its survival in power, or to the south in Sudan, which is divided and began to turn its southern and northern parts away from Egypt and the Arab ocean, and the failure of the regime in dealing with the Renaissance Dam, which began to fill with water and became a fait accompli, while the regime’s fat cats were financing the hostile dam and lending to the Ethiopian government, by buying bonds to finance the dam, to kill them and let the Egyptians thirst in exchange for usurious interest, while the regime’s allies, Saudi and Emirati whom the regime of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is fighting for, are standing by Ethiopia.

The military regime in Egypt does not see the dangers to its country from the civil war and Libya, nor in southern Sudan, and the dams and water projects prepared, with experience and (Israeli) companies and Gulf funds that eliminate water supplies from Lake Victoria and the White Nile, nor the danger of thirst, which will afflict Egypt after the completion of projects on all the tributaries of the Nile. Moreover, the regime gave up important islands for its national security in the straits of the Red Sea – Tiran and Sanafir – which were the direct cause of the 1967 war, and which will be navigational anchors for the alternative canal project.

This is the exposure of the states of a reckless regime, which failed to preserve the country and its national security, is engaged in proxy wars in Libya, and another in the south of the Arabian Peninsula, allied with Israel and Greece in gas lines, and overrides its water rights, which are the secret of Egypt’s survival known in history as the Gift of the Nile, unable to deal with the economic crises stifling and successive and other Unemployment is worsening and increasing at alarming rates and accompanied by social collapses, widespread corruption in all sectors of the underage administration, residential towers collapsing over the bodies of its inhabitants, while it sees no threats to national security except in the internal opposition, and 60 thousand of its citizens are imprisoned, accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, while some Copts.

Today in the mother of the world, as the people of Egypt like to call it, we see in the military system that the donkey has eaten national security and kept the security of the ruler and the necessities of his survival.

*Palestinian politician residing in Jenin, Occupied Palestine

Suez Canal: Sisi is a danger not only to Egypt, but to the world

David Hearst is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye. He is a commentator and speaker on the region and analyst on Saudi Arabia. He was The Guardian’s foreign leader writer, and was correspondent in Russia, Europe, and Belfast. He joined the Guardian from The Scotsman, where he was education correspondent.

David Hearst

26 March 2021 18:16 UT

Egyptian government’s abject failure in responding to the Suez closure highlights the threat this regime poses to international trade and stability

Sisi
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the UN in New York in 2019 (AFP)

When a 35km expansion of the Suez Canal was opened six years ago, banners appeared on the streets of Cairo proclaiming it to be Egypt’s “gift to the world“.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi welcomed foreign leaders on a yacht. Helicopters and jets performed a fly-by. The expansion was hailed as a national triumph and a turning point after years of instability.

The Egyptian government is a practised liar. It lies to its own people every day, but in times of crisis, it also lies to the international community

When the Suez Canal was closed unceremoniously by a 400-metre container ship hitting the bank in a dust storm on Tuesday, there was silence. For 26 hours, there was not a word about the closed canal, the shipping backing up in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, or of the Ever Given itself.

Instead, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) issued a media statement announcing the successful transit of an Italian cruise ship with 65 Covid-19 cases aboard.

There was a media blackout. It was only on Wednesday that the lying started in earnest, with the first official statement noting that efforts were “continuing to reopen the canal”. The SCA downplayed the impacts on navigation, sending a “message of assurance that the navigation will continue as usual”. As if to reinforce that message, the authority allowed a convoy of ships to enter from the northern end in Port Said on 24 March.

Feeding the propaganda mill

The authority warned journalists not to heed any news or rumours about the most serious incident to block the canal since the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, other than statements coming from them. Egyptian journalists did not need any encouragement to toe the line. They fed the propaganda mill, celebrating the SCA’s statement and claiming the ship had been refloated. They even tried to demonstrate this with satellite images, although the images themselves still showed the ship firmly wedged in place. 

The truth was even concealed from international shippers. The Gulf Agency Egypt shipping company quoted the SCA as saying that the container ship stranded in the canal for more than a day had been partially refloated and was standing alongside the bank, and that traffic would resume shortly.

The same story was fed to Lloyd’s List, which reported seeing an email from the Egyptian company sent to the China Shipowners’ Association: “We are still waiting confirmed information for the towing direction. Convoy and traffic will be back to normal within [a] very short time as soon as the vessel is towed to another position,” read the email, based on information provided directly by the SCA early on Wednesday.

Satellite imagery shows tug boats and dredgers attempting to free a ship that ran aground in the Suez Canal on 26 March 2021 (Satellite image c.2021 Maxar Technologies/AFP)
Satellite imagery shows tug boats and dredgers attempting to free the ship that ran aground in the Suez Canal on 26 March 2021 (Satellite image c.2021 Maxar Technologies/AFP)

On Thursday, two days after the chaos had started, the SCA officially announced that navigation had been suspended.

The Egyptian government is a practised liar. It lies to its own people every day, but, in times of crisis, it also lies to the international community. 

When a Russian passenger jet was brought down in 2015 by an Islamic State (IS) missile 23 minutes into a flight from Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg, Russia and the UK instantly cancelled all flights to the Red Sea resort.

Two harsh lessons

But it is difficult to keep maintaining that a ship the size of the Ever Given is floating, when it so evidently isn’t.

However the Suez Canal crisis is resolved, this incident has taught the world two harsh lessons: how important the canal and Egypt still are for international shipping, and how disastrously and incompetently both are being run.Egypt’s Suez Canal: Why does its closure matter?

The incompetence of Sisi’s dictatorship, in other words, is not just a matter of international concern on the issues of human rights and the rule of law. Sisi’s incompetence threatens a major international waterway.

In the immediate future, this week’s Suez crisis could not have happened at a worse moment. It reinforces the interest of oil-and-gas-producing Gulf states in exploring ways to bypass the canal by routing their product through Israel. The Emirati normalisation deal with Israel has led to a tidal wave of contracts and projects, each of which spells an existential threat to Egypt’s monopoly on this traffic.

Whether through a long-neglected pipeline built by the shah of Iran, new internet cable or a railway line, or even a canal through the Negev desert – no greater push could be given to finding ways of bypassing the Suez Canal and Egypt than by the Egyptian reaction to an incident of this magnitude.

Sisi’s disastrous rule

In the longer term, there is now a clear pattern of decline and disaster to Sisi’s rule. Above and beyond all the other issues in which he has embroiled his country – backing the wrong side in Libya, a witch hunt against the Muslim Brotherhood at home and abroad – Sisi really had two existential things to worry about. He has failed in both.

The first was the Suez Canal; the second was maintaining the water levels of the Nile. Sisi laughed and ridiculed his boss, former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, for raising concerns about the dam Ethiopia was building in 2012, and arranged for a leak of a private meeting to embarrass the president. 

The line from the Egyptian army was that the issue was too serious for a mere Muslim Brotherhood president to handle. So they shelved the issue, and Sisi then compounded his mistake by signing away Egypt’s claim in an agreement with Ethiopia and Sudan in 2015. Now, he is reportedly considering military action, just weeks before the dam – which has long been completed – gets its second crucial filling

Instead of concentrating his meagre resources on the two issues that really matter to his country, Sisi has spent all his time obsessed with his image

Instead of concentrating his meagre resources on the two issues that really matter to his country, Sisi has spent all his time obsessed with his image. 

A revealing window into Sisi’s real priorities in the years in which he has run Egypt into the ground can be seen in the official record of lobbyists working for the Egyptian government, filed with the US Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

An investigation of these official records conducted by a group of Egyptian journalists at Sasapost reveals how the lobbying operation in Washington went into overdrive after the 2013 Rabaa massacre and the suspension of $260m in US military aid, a fraction of the total $1.3bn package.

Sisi’s government paid the Glover Park Group $250,000 a month to lobby senior members of Congress who opposed him, such as Senators Lindsey Graham and the late John McCain. Glover Park spent two years working on Graham until he reversed his position, Sasapost reported. Between 2013 and 2019, Sisi paid this company alone $13.25m – a huge price in the Washington lobby market.

Whitewashing the regime

What were Egypt’s concerns in Washington? Whitewashing Sisi’s image, targeting the American right and Israel’s supporters, and focusing on “religious rights,” with Joe Biden about to enter the White House. In other words, everything that Sisi has spent his money on has been about his image. None of it has had anything to do with what really matters to his country.

But these are Sisi’s priorities. He has not uttered one word about the crisis going on in the Suez Canal. 

It is now commonplace to hear that Egypt is a failing state – a state that fails its citizens, one with depleted resources, a weakened economy plundered by the Egyptian army, and growing levels of poverty affecting tens of millions of people. 

The international community, however, has yet to wake up to the fact that Sisi is a danger not only to his people and his country but also to international trade and stability. Perhaps a big ship jammed into a tight space will do that for them.

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

timeline suez canal

صاحب المعجزة الاقتصادية التركية عاجز .. الليرة التركية تستغيث اذ تستعد لليلة;الدخلة

نارام سرجون

بتاريخ 2021/03/23 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is nizar3.jpg
naram.serjoonn نارام سرحون

كنت أفشل فورا كلما حاولت ان أشرح للاسلاميين ان الفقاعة الاقتصادية التركية غير حقيقية لانها مثل الجسد المحقون بالكورتيزون الطبي حيث ينتفخ ويتورم ولكن العلة لاتزال فيه .. الاستثمارات في البورصة التركية جاءت بشكل مريب مثل لعبة القمار ورفعت الاقتصاد بشكل سريع .. ونسب هذا النهوض الى فكرة (الاسلام هو الحل) الذي جاء به الاسلاميون الاتراك .. ويسهب المتحدثون المتحمسون المعجبون بالتجرية التركية في الحديث عن الرقم السحري لترتيب الاقتصاد التركي الذي وصل الى المرتبة 17 في العالم .. وكلما فتح احد فمه للاعتراض والتشكيك تعالت الأصوات الساخطة الساخرة والهابطة .. (شو عم يحكي هاد؟؟ خلوه يسكت موفهمان شي) .. رغم ان رقم 17 في الترتيب الاقتصادي العالمي كان يذكرني بترتيب الجيش العراقي الذي دخل الكويت الذي صنف على انه الجيش الرابع في العالم .. وتبين ان النفخ في الجيش الرابع في العالم كان لتبرير ضربه بقسوة فائقة وتدميره .. فالجيش الرابع في العالم يجب ان يضرب بسلاح فائق التدمير وبلا رحمة ولاتوقف .. وتبين ان الجيش الرابع في العالم كان بالعدد فقط رابعا ولكن من غير طيران ولاتكنولوجيا ولاعدة متطورة .. وحكاية الاقتصاد السابع عشر في العالم قصة مضخمة تشبه حكاية الجيش الرابع في العالم .. رغم محبتي واحترامي للجيش العراقي لكنه لم يكن الجيش الرابع في العالم ولا الرابع عشر عندما تم نقخ الدعاية الغربية لغاية في نفس بني اسرائيل ..

لايوجد اقتصاد بهذه المرتية في العالم دون صناعات ثقيلة وأسواق واسعة تستوعبه او اسواق مال كبيرة .. فلا هو دخل اوروبة ولاامريكا .. وأسواق استرالي وامريكا الجنوبية او أفريقيا.. فالاقتصاد الحقيقي هو بقيمة السلع الحقيقية التي يطرحها .. ولكن الاقتصاد التركي لم يقدم لنا سيارات ولا طيارات ولا كومبيوترات ولا اي شيء .. سوى السياحة والمسلسلات التركية .. وهذه ليست اقتصادا كاملا بل جزءا من اقتصاد ..

بل ان افضل مرحلة انتعش فيها الاقتصاد التركي هي عندما انفتح على الجنوب بتسهيلات سورية حيث لأول مرة انتعش اقتصاد الاناضول بشكل حقيقي على حساب اقتصاد تركيا في الجانب الاوروبي بسبب النقلة الكبيرة في التسهيلات السورية للتجارة التركية ..
تركيا الغبية لم تستمع لصوت العقل عندما عرض الرئيس الأسد مشروع البحار الخمسة التي تضم العرب وايران وتركيا .. ولو نفذ هذا المشروع لكان انقاذا حقيقيا للاقتصادات الثلاثة .. عقل اردوغان المحشو بالعثمانيات لايؤمن الا بالنجاح العثماني الصرف والبطولة الفردية .. وظن ان اميريكا واوروبة ستعطيانه الشرق الاوسط ليصبح قوة عظمى ويصبح قادرا على فرض شروطه على الغرب .. هذه العقلية الأنانية تسببت في مشاكل تركيا التي لن تجد لها حلا .. الحل كان في الجنوب والبواية السورية العراقية .. وهذا انتهى الى الابد .. ولن يفتح الباب جنوبا طالما ان حزب العدالة والتنمية في السلطة وطالما ان اردوغان في الحكم .. وعلى تركيا ان تدفع ثمن جنون العظمة .. ..

الاقتصاد التركي يترنح .. والاستثمارات الأجنبية تتراجع وتهرب .. والاسلام التركي لم يجد الحل .. ومعادلة الاسلام هو الحل تبين انها خدعة وكذبة اخوانية .. والاموال التي تدفقت في عروق البورصة التركية تتسلل خلسة اليوم من البورصة التركية .. وهذه مؤشرات سحب الدعم الغربي عن زمن حزب العدالة والتنمية .. رغم ان اردوغان يحاول جهده في بث الثقة بالاقتصاد والليرة التركية ولكن عبثا .. فكل ماسرقه من أموال ومعامل السوريين لايعتبر اقتصادا ثابتا والتلاعب بالسعوديين وابتزازهم بقصة الخاشقجي ارتدت عليه لأن مستوردات السعودية والخليج من البضائع التركية انخفضت بنسبة 90% ..

وفي يوم واحد انهارت العملة التركية وخسرت 10% من قيمتها بسبب قرارات اردوغان المتخبطة ..

مرة يقترب اردوغان من مصر ومرة من نفط ليبيا ومرة يتهاوش مع اليونانيين ومرة يريد ان يساعد في نقل الغاز الروسي .. كلها أعمال فوضوية ومرتبكة .. والليرة في حضن أردوغان مثل الطفلة في يد ابيها وهي تحتضر وتموت .. وهو يحس بالذنب لأنه لم بعطها الدواء الصحيح بسبب عجرفته وطيشه وجشعه ..

ماذا يفعل اردوغان سوى ان يحفر قبرا لليرة التركية .. ويعلن نهاية الفقاعة ونهابة المغامرة .. والاقتصاد التركي سيهتز اكثر .. ومايخشى ان اموال السوريين المهربة الى تركيا وكل استثماراتهم وكل ماسرقه المعارضون واللصوص الاتراك سيقع ايضا مع وقوع الاقتصاد التركي قريبا .. وستكون افضل نصيحة لهم أن يهربوا بأموالهم من تركيا .. ولو كان فيهم عقل لاعادوا اموالهم الى بلادهم .. لأن الليرة السورية ليست مثل الليرة التركية .. فالازمة الحالية لليرة السورية ليست حقيقية وليست تعكس الا حالة نفسية للاسواق والمضاربات والشائعات .. وهذه ستنتهي بمجرد ان يحدث تراجع خفيف في التشنج الامريكي او في الوجود الامريكي او التركي في سورية وبمجرد تحرك الجبهات واسترداد قطاعات الانتاج التي تسيطر عليها اميريكا ..اما ازمة الليرة التركية فهي حقيقية وعميقة رغم انها غير محاصرة ولاتوجد قطاعات انتاج معطلة لان قيمتها التي نفختها منذ سنوات ليس حقيقية وهي كانت تتحرك بقيمة اعلى من رصيدها الذهبي ومن قيمة انتاج السلع التركية .. ولن تعود الليرة الى سابق عهددها .. خاصة ان تركيا ستشهد خضات كثيرة .. والسبب ليس ان الغرب يتأمر على تركيا الاسلامية بل لان الغرب سحب دعمه عن المشروع الاسلامي التركي بكل بساطة بعد ان احترقت اوراقه ..
اردوغان ينزف ببطء .. ولن تنفعه كل الصلوات .. ولن تنفعه كل دعوات المؤمنين .. ولن ينفعه السجود في أياصوفيا .. وكما يقول فلاديمير بوتين لخصومه ساخرا ومهددا بخشونة .. (مهما فعلت المرأة في يوم دخلتها .. فلن تبقى عذراء) .. واردوغان مهما فعل فانه ينطبق عليه مثل بوتين .. عليه وعلى ليرته التي سيدخل بها اليورو والدولار مهما فعلت ومهما سرق لها اردوغان من نفط وقمح وزيتون ومعامل سورية ..


لو تنطق الليرة التركية اليوم لقالت عن اردوغان: انه قاتلي ومغتصبي ..

Biden’s ‘Greater Middle East’ Peace Push Lacks Any Meaningful Progress

By Andrew Korybko

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Biden

The reason for this is that the US refuses to learn from its mistakes contrary to its post-Trump rhetoric, which has resulted in scant progress being made in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya.

The Biden Administration isn’t serious about bringing peace to the four countries in the so-called “Greater Middle East” whose suffering the US is responsible for. Whether it’s his over-hyped policy pivot in Yemen, the stalled peace processes in Afghanistan and Syria, or the seemingly forgotten war in Libya, the new American leader appears to be all talk and no real action, at least for the time being. The reason for this is that the US refuses to learn from its mistakes contrary to its post-Trump rhetoric, which has resulted in scant progress being made on any of those four fronts. What follows is a brief review of the current situation in each of those countries, after which some policy suggestions will be shared for jump-starting those peace processes.

Yemen

Biden’s decision to suspend all US military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen was a positive move, but his subsequent ceasefire proposal failed to live up to expectations. It doesn’t fully lift the blockade that’s responsible for what the United Nations previously described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. This suggests that his administration is playing a Machiavellian game with the Ansarullah (“Houthi”) rebels whereby the threat of famine is being weaponized as a means of politically pressuring them into unilateral concessions. Instead of being treated as an equally legitimate party to the peace process like the Biden Administration officially regards them as after lifting their prior terrorist designation, they’re treated as a junior one.

Afghanistan

US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad appeared to follow in the diplomatic footsteps of his Russian counterpart, Zamir Kabulov, by recently suggesting the creation of an interim government that includes the Taliban. Despite being officially designated as a terrorist organization, world powers have pragmatically engaged with the group over the years in an effort to support the country’s fledgling peace process. No political solution is possible without the Taliban’s participation. The problem, however, is that the Biden Administration is under internal pressure not to complete former President Trump’s previously promised military withdrawal by this May, which risks undermining last year’s peace accord with the Taliban and thus prolonging the war.

Syria

Out of the four examined conflicts, the US is the least serious about bringing peace to Syria, which it no longer even tries to hide. It bombed the country last month on the pretext of targeting allegedly Iranian-affiliated militias that it blamed for attacking American forces in Iraq. The US also continues to tighten its brutal sanctions regime against Syria with the intent of forcing its democratically elected and legitimate leadership into submission. There are also credible reports from official Syrian, Russian, and Iranian sources that the US’ illegal occupation forces support terrorists. The US hasn’t learned anything despite the disastrous war that it’s waged there through hybrid means over the past decade. Its present policy is therefore doomed to fail.

Libya

Most of the world seems to have forgotten about this conflict, but a ceasefire was surprisingly agreed to late last year between its main warring sides: the UN-recognized government in Tripoli and the rebellious Tobruk-based administration in the east most prominently represented by General Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army. This in turn led to the creation of an interim government that’ll preside over the country until elections this December. All of this sounds good on paper, but the problem is that Libya has already been down a similar path before but with no success. That’s because its internal divisions are exacerbated through the involvement of foreign forces, but such external actors aren’t negotiating between themselves to pursuit of peace.

Policy Suggestions

In the order that they were mentioned, here’s what the Biden Administration must do in order to jump-start the peace processes in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, and Libya:

* Demand the full and immediate lifting of the Saudi-led blockade on Yemen without any preconditions in order to satisfy the Yemeni people’s humanitarian needs and influence the Ansarullah to agree to a ceasefire;

* Respect last year’s peace agreement by withdrawing all US forces from Afghanistan by this May in parallel with accelerating the creation of an interim government with the Taliban to facilitate a forthcoming ceasefire;

* Respect the outcome of this spring’s presidential elections that will likely lead to President Assad’s re-election and use that as the long-overdue pretext for entering into talks with Damascus without preconditions;

* and convene international talks between the US, France, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, and the UAE with the intent of coordinating each major external party’s post-war vision ahead of meaningful intra-Libyan peace talks.

Terrorism is a Western industry to destabilize independent countries and plunder their wealth

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For decades, Western countries, led by the United States, have been creating an appropriate climate for investment in terrorism and making it a means and pretext for waging wars.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Washington took advantage of the international circumstances that were formed after the attacks to form multiple alliances under the pretext of combating terrorism.

The US-led collation occupied Afghanistan and waged the wars and interventions against Iraq, Libya, Syria and other countries in the world.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton published her book “Hard Choices” in 2016. In this book, Clinton admitted that “ the US administration established the terrorist organization ISIS in the region with the aim of destabilizing its countries”.

During his 2016 election campaign, former US President Donald Trump announced to a crowd of his supporters in Florida that former US President Barack Obama was the founder of “ISIS”.

A former employee of the US National Security Agency Edward Snowden, published documents in ‘The Intercept’ in 2014.

The document said that “the Institute of Intelligence and Special Tasks, in cooperation with British intelligence MI6, the Israeli Mossad and the US National Security Agency, paved the way for the emergence of the terrorist “ISIS” organization in the Middle East.”

Many press reports documented that ISIS was formed and its leaderships prepared in Bucca prison in southern Iraq, which was run by the American occupation forces after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Last September, the Gray Zone, an independent news website, revealed how Western intelligence manipulated Arab and international media outlets in order to create misleading media coverage about the situation in Syria and the war against it.

Last year, the British ‘Middle East Eye’ website leaked documents showing the involvement of the West in general and the British government in particular in supporting and financing terrorist organizations in Syria under the name of ‘moderate opposition’.

British writer Mark Curtis, who published these documents, said , that Britain began clandestine operations against Syria in early 2012, that is, since the start of the terrorist war against it.

Britain was closely involved in smuggling weapons shipments to terrorists, training and organizing them in a years-long process in cooperation with the United States and the Saudi regime.

O. al-Mohammad

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AFTER LIBYA AND AZERBAIJAN TURKEY SENDS LOYAL SYRIAN MILITANTS TO YEMEN

South Front

After Libya And Azerbaijan Turkey Sends Loyal Syrian Militants To Yemen
Illustrative image

Submitted by Khaled Iskef.

Informed sources in Idlib Governorate said that Turkey intends to transfer Syrian fighters to Yemen with the aim of engaging them in battles against the Houthis.

The same sources confirmed that representatives of the Turkish intelligence began to communicate with the Free Army factions to start the registration of those desiring to go, with the aim to transfer them to the Ma’rib governorate in Yemen to fight alongside the Islah party of the Muslim Brotherhood against the Houthis.

The sources pointed out that the salary that the fighter will receive in Yemen is $ 1500, in addition to food expenses of $ 400.

It is expected that the first batch of 300 Syrian fighters will be transferred within days.

According to private sources, the salaries of the militants may reach $ 5,000 for fighters and $ 2,300 for facility guards.

The private sources added that the transfer of the militants would take place before the fifth month of this year

It is worth noting that this is not for the first time that Turkey has transferred Syrian and non-Syrian militants from northern Syria, Idlib, and Aleppo, to conflict areas such as Libya and Azerbaijan.

The number of fighters that Turkey transferred to the Nagorno Karabakh region reached about 1450 militants during the outbreak of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which ended with imposition of Turkish-backed Azerbaijan’s control of Shusha, the second-largest city in Karabakh.

Turkey’s role in the Libyan file was very large, and one could say said that they controlled most of the Libyan file’s papers, despite the fact that regional parties continued to play less important roles in this file.

But what draws attention is the role that the Syrian fighters are playing in the Libyan war, which began with the Turkish military intervention in Libya in support of the Sarraj government.

According to various sources, no less than 500 Syrian militants were killed in Libya during the battles, including leaders of the armed groups and 30 children.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory announced that the number of mercenary soldiers from the Syrian factions loyal to Turkey who were fighting alongside the Azerbaijani forces has reached 72 people since their involvement in the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

One of activists said, on condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety, that the militants, most of whom are from the Turkish-backed factions, such as the Sultan Murad Brigade, the Hamza Brigade, and the Euphrates Shield go in exchange for money. Another activist explained that they are basically desperate fighters recruited by Turkey for about $ 1,500 to $ 2,000 a month.

The Turkish security companies oversee the transfer of militants by transporting them to Turkey and then  to Azerbaijan and Libya, while the Baku government denied information about the transfer of militants to Azerbaijan.

The British newspaper The Guardian quoted a Syrian young man  as saying that he had been transported to Azerbaijan by a Turkish military plane and that he had already worked there on the line of contact with Armenia before the conflict calmed down. According to the newspaper, the 23-year-old Syrian was transported from Idlib to the conflict zone in the South Caucasus in September as part of a battalion of 1,000 Syrians.

According to some information from French sources, fighters of jihadist groups from Syria have reached the conflict zone via Turkey.

Transport operations were not limited to these countries, as the military platforms were promoted via social media in order to attract more Syrian jihadists and send them to Qatar to work as security guards during the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

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Biden’s Journey: Change Is Imperceptible

Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.

Philip Giraldi

February 25, 2021

Biden has been a major disappointment for those who hoped that he’d change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts.

The new White House Team has been in place for more than a month and it is perhaps time to consider where it is going with America’s fractured foreign policy. To be sure, when a new administration brings in a bunch of “old hands” who made their bones by attacking Syria and Libya while also assassinating American citizens by drone one might hope that those mistakes might have served as valuable “lessons learned.” Or maybe not, since no one in the Democratic Party ever mentions the Libya fiasco and President Joe Biden has already made it clear that Syria will continue to be targeted with sanctions as well as with American soldiers based on its soil. And no one will be leaving Afghanistan any time soon. The Biden team will only let up when Afghanistan is “secure” and there is regime change in Damascus.

A big part of the problem is that the personnel moves mean that the poison from the Barack Obama years has now been reintroduced into the tottering edifice that Donald Trump left behind. Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice once made the case for attacking the Libyans by explaining how Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi provided his soldiers with Viagra so they could more readily engage in mass rapes of presumably innocent civilians. Unfortunately, Sue is back with the new administration as the Director of the Domestic Policy Council where she will no doubt again wreak havoc in her own inimitable fashion. She is joined at the top level of the administration by Tony Blinken as Secretary of State, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, Samantha Power as head of USAID and retired General Lloyd J. Austin as Secretary of Defense. All of the appointees are regarded as “hawks” and have personal history working with Biden when he was in Congress and as Vice President, while most of them also served in the Obama administration.

Be that as it may, Joe Biden and whoever is pulling his strings have assembled a group of establishment warmongers and aspirant social justice engineers that is second to none. Those who expected something different than the usual Democratic Party template have definitely been disappointed. Hostility towards China continues with warships being sent to the South China Sea and the president is seeking to create a new Trans-Atlantic alliance directed against both Beijing and Moscow. The Europeans are reportedly not enthusiastic about remaining under Washington’s thumb and would like some breathing room.

In a phone conversation where it would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall, Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States would no longer ignore his bad behavior. The official White House account of the call included the following pithy summary: “President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ firm support for Ukraine’s sovereignty. He also raised other matters of concern, including the SolarWinds hack, reports of Russia placing bounties on United States soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 United States election, and the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny.”

And to be sure, there have already been a number of issues that Biden might have dealt with by executive order, like lifting the illegal and unjustified blockade of Cuba, that could have inspired some hope that the new administration would not be just another bit of old wine in new bottles. Alas, that has not taken place but for a series of moves to unleash another wave of illegal immigration and to “protect LGBTQ rights globally.” Biden has also retained a heavy military presence in Washington itself, possibly as part of a Constitution-wrecking plan to tackle what he is referring to as “domestic terrorism.” The domestic terrorists being targeted appear to largely consist of people who are white working and middle class and voted for Trump.

In some ways, foreign policy might have been the easiest fix if the new administration were really seeking to correct the misadventures of the past twenty years. Quite the contrary, Biden and his associates have actually reversed the sensible and long overdue policies initiated by Donald Trump to reduce troop strength in Germany and bring the soldiers home from Syria and Afghanistan. Biden has already committed to an indefinite stay in Afghanistan, America’s longest “lost” war, and has covertly sent more soldiers into Syria as well as Iraq.

As regards Latin America, the U.S. clearly is prepared to double down on regime change in Venezuela, continuing its Quixotic support of Juan Guaido as president. Meanwhile, the new Secretary of State Tony Blinken has clearly indicated that there will be no end to deference to Israeli interests in the Middle East. Under questioning by Congress, he has insisted that Israel will be “consulted” on U.S. policy to include arms sales in the region, which has been interpreted to mean that Jerusalem will have a veto, and has confirmed that his view on Iran is identical to that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both are apparently promoting the view that Iran will have enough enriched uranium to construct a weapon within a few weeks, though they have not addressed other technical aspects of what would actually be required to build one. Netanyahu has been making the claim about the Iranian threat since the 1980s and now it is also an element of U.S. policy.

Biden and Blinken have also moved forward slowly on a campaign commitment to attempt renegotiation of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran that President Trump withdrew from in 2017. As a condition to re-start discussions, the Iranian leadership has demanded a return to the status quo ante, meaning that the punitive sanctions initiated by Trump would have to be canceled and Iran would in return cease all enrichment activities. Biden and Blinken, which admittedly sounds a bit like a vaudeville comedy duo, have reportedly agreed to withdraw the Trump sanctions but have also suggested that Iran will have to make other concessions, to include ending its ballistic missile development program and ceasing its “meddling” in the Middle East. Iran will refuse to agree to that, which means that the bid to renegotiate could turn out to be nothing more than a bit of theater involving multilateral “discussions” hosted by the European Union and the pointless hostility between Washington and Tehran will continue.

And speaking again of Israel, there have been concerns expressed by the usual suspects because Biden had not called telephoned Netanyahu immediately after the inauguration. It may be true that the president was sending a somewhat less than subtle message signaling that he was in charge, but the call has now taken place and everything is hunky-dory. As a separate issue, the Jewish state has, of course, the world’s only secret nuclear arsenal, estimated to consist of at least 200 bombs, and it also has several systems available to deliver them on target. For no reasons that make any sense, the United States since the time of President Richard Nixon has never publicly confirmed the existence of the weapons, preferring to maintain “nuclear ambiguity” that allows Israel to have the weapons without any demands for inspections or constraints on their use. The most recent four presidents have, in fact, signed secret agreements with Israel not to expose the nuclear arsenal. Biden has apparently not done so yet, but appeals by international figures, including most recently South African Desmond Tutu, had produced some expectations that the new administration might break with precedent.

Giving aid to Israel is, in fact, illegal due to the Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, which bans U.S. economic and military assistance to nuclear proliferators and countries that seek to acquire nuclear weapons. But Biden has already indicated that he would not under any circumstances cut aid to Israel, so the matter would appear to be closed. In any event the Symington Amendment includes an exemption clause that would allow the funding to continue as long as the president certifies to Congress that continued aid to the proliferator would be a vital U.S. interest. Given Israel’s power in both Congress and the White House it is not imaginable that its aid would be affected no matter what Netanyahu and his band of criminals choose to do.

So, it would seem that Biden is unprepared to either pressure or pursue any distancing from Israel and its policies, not a good sign for those of us who have encouraged some disengagement from the Middle East quagmire. And one final issue where some of us have hoped to see some movement from Biden has also been a disappointment. That is Julian Assange, who is fighting against efforts to have him extradited from England to face trial and imprisonment in the U.S. under the Espionage Act. Many observers believe that Assange is a legitimate journalist who is being set up for a show trial with only one possible outcome. The entire process is to a large extent being driven by a desire for revenge coming largely from the Democratic Party since Assange was responsible for publishing the Hillary Clinton emails as well as other party documents. Biden has already indicated that the process of extraditing Assange will continue.

So, Biden has been a major disappointment for those who expected that he might change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts while also having the good sense and courage to make relations with countries like Iran and Israel responsive to actual U.S. interests. Finally, it would be a good sign if Assange were to be released from the threat of trial and prison, if only to recognize that free speech and a free press benefit everyone, but that is perhaps a bridge too far as the United States moves inexorably towards a totalitarian state intolerant of dissent.

Ten Years Ago: “Operation Libya” and the Battle for Oil: Redrawing the Map of Africa

Part II

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, February 20, 2021

Global Research 9 March 2011

Author’s Note:

The following article was published almost ten years ago on March 9, 2011, at the outset of the US-NATO “humanitarian” military intervention in Libya.  Libya’s crude oil reserves in 2011 were twice those of the United States.

In retrospect. the 2011 US-NATO led war on Libya was a multi-trillion dollar trophy for the United States. It was also, as outlined in my 2011 article a means to establishing US hegemony in North Africa, a region historically dominated by France and to lesser extent by Italy and Spain.

The US-NATO intervention was also intent upon excluding China from the region and edging out China’s National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), which was a major player in Libya. 

Libya is the gateway to the Sahel and Central Africa. More generally, what is at stake is the redrawing of the map of Africa at the expense of France’s historical spheres of influence, namely a process of neo-colonial redivision.

Recent developments confirm this process. In the course of the last decade, starting with president Nicolas Sarkozy, France has become a de facto US proxy State. 

Michel Chossudovsky, February 15, 2021

***

The geopolitical and economic implications of a US-NATO led military intervention directed against Libya are far-reaching.

Libya is among the World’s largest oil economies with approximately 3.5% of global oil reserves, more than twice those of the US.

“Operation Libya” is part of  the broader military agenda in the Middle East and Central Asia which consists in gaining control and corporate ownership over more than sixty percent of the world’s reserves of oil and natural gas, including oil and gas pipeline routes.

“Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, possess between 66.2 and 75.9 percent of total oil reserves, depending on the source and methodology of the estimate.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, The “Demonization” of Muslims and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, January 4, 2007) .

With 46.5 billion barrels of proven reserves [2011 data], (10 times those of Egypt), Libya is the largest oil economy in the African continent followed by Nigeria and Algeria (Oil and Gas Journal). In contrast, US proven oil reserves are of the order of 20.6 billion barrels (December 2008) according to the Energy Information Administration.  U.S. Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Liquids Reserves)

The most recent estimates [2011] place Libya’s oil reserves at 60 billion barrels. Its gas reserves at 1,500 billion m3. Its production has been between 1.3 and 1.7 million barrels a day, well below its productive capacity. Its longer term objective is three million b/d and a gas production of 2,600 million cubic feet a day, according to figures of the National Oil Corporation (NOC).

The (alternative) BP Statistical Energy Survey (2008) places Libya’s proven oil reserves at 41.464 billion barrels at the end of 2007 which represents 3.34 % of the world’s proven reserves. (Mbendi  Oil and Gas in Libya – Overview).


Oil is the “Trophy” of US-NATO led Wars

An invasion of Libya under a humanitarian mandate would serve the same corporate interests as the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. The underlying objective is to take possession of Libya’s oil reserves, destabilize the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and eventually privatize the country’s oil industry, namely transfer the control and ownership of Libya’s oil wealth into foreign hands.

The National Oil Corporation (NOC) is ranked 25 among the world’s Top 100 Oil Companies. (The Energy Intelligence ranks NOC 25 among the world’s Top 100 companies. – Libyaonline.com)

The planned invasion of Libya, which is already underway [February-March 2011]is part of the broader “Battle for Oil”.  Close to 80 percent of Libya’s oil reserves are located in the Sirte Gulf basin of Eastern Libya. (See map below)

Libya is a Prize Economy. “War is good for business”. Oil is the trophy of US-NATO led wars.

Wall Street, the Anglo-American oil giants, the US-EU weapons producers would be the unspoken beneficiaries of a US-NATO led military campaign directed against Libya.

Libyan oil is a bonanza for the Anglo-American oil giants. While the market value of crude oil is currently well in excess of 100 dollars a barrel, the cost of Libyan oil is extremely low, as low as $1.00 a barrel (according to one estimate). As one oil market expert commented somewhat cryptically:

“At $110 on the world market, the simple math gives Libya a $109 profit margin.” (Libya Oil, Libya Oil One Country’s $109 Profit on $110 Oil, EnergyandCapital.com March 12, 2008)

Foreign Oil Interests in Libya

Foreign oil companies operating prior to the insurrection in Libya include France’s Total, Italy’s ENI, The China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), British Petroleum, the Spanish Oil consortium REPSOL, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, Hess, Conoco Phillips.

Of significance, China plays a central role in the Libyan oil industry. The China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) had a workforce of some 400 employees. The total Chinese workforce in Libya was of the order of 30,000.

Eleven percent (11%) of Libyan oil exports are channelled to China. While there are no figures on the size and importance of CNPC’s production and exploration activities, there are indications that they are sizeable.

More generally, China’s presence in North Africa is considered by Washington to constitute an intrusion. From a geopolitical standpoint, China is an encroachment. The military campaign directed against Libya is intent upon excluding China from North Africa.

Also of importance is the role of Italy. ENI, the Italian oil consortium puts out 244,000 barrels of gas and oil, which represents almost 25 percent of Libya’s total exports. ( Sky News: Foreign oil firms halt Libyan operations, February 23, 2011).

Among US companies in Libya, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) decided barely 6 months ago (October 2010) not to renew their oil and gas exploration licenses in Libya. (Why are Chevron and Oxy leaving Libya?: Voice of Russia, October 6, 2010). In contrast, in November 2010, Germany’s oil company, R.W. DIA E signed a far-reaching agreement with Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) involving exploration and production sharing. AfricaNews – Libya: German oil firm signs prospecting deal – The AfricaNews, 

The financial stakes as well  as “the spoils of war” are extremely high. The military operation is intent upon dismantling Libya’s financial institutions as well as confiscating billions of dollars of Libyan financial assets deposited in Western banks.

It should be emphasised that Libya’s military capabilities, including its air defense system are weak. 

Libya Oil Concessions

Redrawing the Map of Africa

Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa. The objective of US-NATO interference is strategic: it consists in outright theft, in stealing the nation’s oil wealth under the disguise of a humanitarian intervention.

This military operation is intent upon establishing US hegemony in North Africa, a region historically dominated by France and to lesser extent by Italy and Spain.

With regard to Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, Washington’s design is to weaken the political links of these countries to France and push for the installation of new political regimes which have a close rapport with the US. This weakening of France is part of a US imperial design. It is a historical process which goes back to the wars in Indochina.

US-NATO intervention leading to the eventual formation of a US puppet regime is also intent upon excluding China from the region and edging out China’s National Petroleum Corp (CNPC). The Anglo-American oil giants including British Petroleum which signed an exploration contract in 2007 with the Ghadaffi government are among the potential “beneficiaries” of  the proposed US-NATO military operation.

More generally, what is at stake is the redrawing of the map of Africa, a process of neo-colonial redivision, the scrapping of the demarcations of the 1884 Berlin Conference, the conquest of Africa by the United States in alliance with Britain, in a US-NATO led operation.

The colonial redivision of Africa. 1913

Libya: Strategic Saharan Gateway to Central Africa

Libya has borders with several countries which are within France’s sphere of influence, including Algeria, Tunisia, Niger and Chad.

Chad is potentially an oil rich economy. ExxonMobil and Chevron have interests in Southern Chad including a pipeline project. Southern Chad is a gateway into the Darfur region of Sudan, which is also strategic in view of its oil wealth.

China has oil interests in both Chad and Sudan. The China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) signed a farreaching agreement with the Chad government in 2007.

Niger is strategic to the United States in view of its extensive reserves of uranium. At present, France dominates the uranium industry in Niger through the French nuclear conglomerate Areva, formerly known as Cogema. China also has a stake in Niger’s uranium industry.

More generally, the Southern border of Libya is strategic for the United States in its quest to extend its sphere of influence in Francophone Africa, a vast territory extending from North Africa to Central and Western Africa. Historically this region was part of France and Belgium’s colonial empires, the borders of which were established  at the Berlin Conference of 1884.

Image Source www.hobotraveler.com

The US played a passive role at the 1884 Berlin Conference. This new 21st Century redivision of the African continent, predicated on the control over oil, natural gas and strategic minerals (cobalt, uranium, chromium, manganese, platinum and uranium) largely supports dominant Anglo-American corporate interests.

US interference in North Africa redefines the geopolitics of an entire region. It undermines China and overshadows the influence of the European Union.

This new redivision of Africa not only weakens the role of the former colonial powers (including France and Italy) in North Africa. it  is also part of a broader process of displacing and weakening France (and Belgium) over a large part of the African continent.

US puppet regimes have been installed in several African countries which historically were in the sphere of influence of France (and Belgium), including The Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.  Several countries in West Africa (including Côte d’Ivoire) are slated to become US proxy states.

The European Union is heavily dependent on the flow of Libyan oil. 85 percent of its oil is sold to European countries. In the case of a war with Libya, the supply of petroleum to Western Europe could be further disrupted, largely affecting Italy, France and Germany. Thirty percent of Italy’s oil and 10 percent of its gas are imported from Libya. Libyan gas is fed through the Greenstream pipeline in the Mediterranean (See map below).

The implications of these potential disruptions are far-reaching. They also have a direct bearing on the relationship between the US and the European Union.

Greenstream pipeline linking Libya to Italy (right)

Concluding Remarks

The mainstream media through massive disinformation is complicit in justifying a military agenda which, if carried out, would have devastating consequences not only for the Libyan people: the social and economic impacts would be felt Worldwide.

There are at present three distinct war theaters in the broader Middle East Central Asian region: Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq. In the case of an attack on Libya, a  fourth war theater would be opened up in North Africa, with the risk of military escalation.

Public opinion must take cognizance of the hidden agenda behind this alleged humanitarian undertaking, heralded by the heads of state and heads of government of NATO countries as a “Just War”. The Just War theory in both its classical and contemporary versions upholds war as a “humanitarian operation”. It calls for military intervention on ethical and moral grounds against “rogue states” and “Islamic terrorists”. The Just war theory demonizes the Gaddafi regime while providing a humanitarian mandate to US-NATO military intervention.

The heads of state and heads of government of NATO countries are the architects of war and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. In an utterly twisted logic, they are heralded as the voices of reason, as the representatives of the “international community”.

Realities are turned upside down. A humanitarian intervention is launched by war criminals in high office, who are the unchallenged guardians of the Just War theory.

Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo,… Civilian casualties in Pakistan resulting from US drone attacks on towns and villages ordered by president Obama, are not front page news, nor are the 2 million civilian deaths in Iraq.

There is no such thing as a “Just War”.  The history of US imperialism should be understood. The 2000 Report of the Project of the New American Century entitled “Rebuilding Americas’ Defenses” [pdf file no longer accessible] calls for the implementation of a long war, a war of conquest.

One of the main components of this military agenda is: to “Fight and decisively win in multiple, simultaneous theater wars”.

“Operation Libya” is part of that process. It is another theater in the Pentagon’s logic of “simultaneous theater wars”.

The PNAC document faithfully reflects the evolution of US military doctrine since 2001. The US plans to be involved simultaneously in several war theaters in different regions of the World.

While heralding the need to protect America (i.e. “National Security”), the PNAC report does spell out why these multiple theater wars are required.

What purpose do they serve. Are they an instrument of peace? The usual humanitarian justification is not even mentioned.

What is the purpose of America’s military roadmap?

Libya is targeted because it is one among several remaining countries outside America’s sphere of influence, which fail to conform to US demands. Libya is a country which has been selected as part of a military “road map” which consists of “multiple simultaneous theater wars”.  In the words of former NATO Commander Chief General Wesley Clark:

 “in the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan…. (Wesley Clark, Winning Modern Wars, p. 130).

Part I

Insurrection and Military Intervention: The US NATO Attempted Coup d’Etat in Libya?

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