EU politicians summoned to The Hague over illegal pushback of refugees

December 1, 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

EU politicians are accused of conspiring with Libyan coastguards to push refugees back to Libya only to be placed in detention camps.

NGO rescuers at sea (via Twitter @CaoimheButterly)

German NGO European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) filed a formal complaint to The Hague accusing several high-ranking EU and Members of State officials of “atrocious crimes committed against migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers,” an ECCHR executive summary of a Communication to the International Criminal Court reads.

The charges specifically involve EU politicians conspiring with Libyan coastguards by intercepting refugees and preventing them from reaching Europe by sea and forcing them to return to Libya only to be placed in detention camps.

According to the summary, the illegal pushbacks took place between 2018 and 2021 but initially began in February 2017 when the Italian government struck a deal with Libya to intercept refugees at sea.

Among the suspects include EU’s former foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, the Italian Interior Minister at the time of the deal, Marco Minniti, as well as some co-conspirators, namely Matteo Salvini, the far-right leader who served as Interior Minister in 2018-2019 and his then chief of staff, and Matteo Piantedosi, who is now Interior Minister.

Former and current prime ministers of Malta are also included in the complaint, namely Malta’s current Prime Minister, Robert Abela, and his predecessor, Joseph Muscat.

The former executive director of European border agency Frontex Fabrice Leggeri is also listed.

Read more: UK coastguard failed to prevent migrant drowning disaster: Independent

According to The Guardian, Minniti said he had no idea about the complaint, adding that he will “evaluate it, like the other interior ministers from 2017 until today.”

“At the time, the agreement was signed by the Italian prime minister, [Paolo] Gentiloni, and his counterpart, [Fayez] al-Sarraj. So, from all the records, it appears that I am not the signatory,” he added.

The deal was successful at reducing 81% of migration in Italy’s southern shores during the first half of 2018 compared with the first half of 2017.

It was renewed in 2020 and again earlier in November for one year.

The renewal cost Italy a total of €13m.

“The Communication details 12 exemplary incidents of the interception of migrants and refugees at sea and their return to and detention in Libya between 2018 and 2021. The incidents present a particularly clear and detailed picture of the cooperation between European Union agencies (particularly the European Commission, EUNAVFOR MED, and Frontex) and Member States (including Italy and Malta) with Libyan actors, on both the policy and operational levels, with regard to the interception of migrants and refugees at sea for the purpose of their return to and detention in Libya,” the ECCHR summary reads. 

Christopher Hein, a professor of law and immigration policies at Luiss University in Rome, claimed that the “deal is totally in line with the policy of the EU.” 

“It is a bilateral agreement, but it is supported and co-financed by the EU,” Hein said, adding that “tens of thousands” of people had been intercepted and brought back to Libya since 2017, with 35,000 intercepted so far this year.

Read more: EU: New migrant plan approved after France-Italy spat

For years, Brussels has been struggling to agree on and implement a new policy for sharing responsibility for migrants and asylum seekers, but the row has brought the issue to the fore.

Italy’s new government under the far-right leader, Georgia Meloni, refused to allow earlier this month a Norwegian-flagged NGO ship with 234 migrants on board rescued from the Mediterranean to dock.

The Ocean Viking eventually arrived in France, where authorities reacted angrily to Rome’s stance, canceling an earlier agreement to accept 3,500 asylum seekers stranded in Italy.

The row jeopardized the EU’s stopgap interim solution, prompting Paris to convene an extraordinary meeting of interior ministers from the 27 member states on Friday.  “The Ocean Viking crisis was a bit of improvisation,” Schinas admitted, defending the new plan from his commission to better coordinate rescues and migrant and refugee arrivals.

“We have twenty specific actions, we have an important political agreement, everyone is committed to working so as not to reproduce this kind of situation.”

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin stated that France has no reason to accept migrants relocated from Italy if Rome “does not accept the law of the sea.”

In addition, Darmanin’s Italian opposite number Matteo Piantedosi played down the Ocean Viking incident, saying the meeting was “not dealing with individual cases or operational management.” He stated that he had shaken hands with the French Minister and that there was a “convergence of positions” that would allow the ministers to resume discussions at their meeting on December 8.

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11 years on… UK gets what it was always after; Libya’s oil

29 Nov 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

British oil giants BP and Shell are returning to the oil-rich north African country just over a decade after the UK took part in destabilizing the nation with the 2011 military intervention.

An oil and gas platform off the coast of Libya (Getty Images)

Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) agreed last month for BP to begin drilling for and producing natural gas in a major project off the north African country’s coast.

The UK corporation, whose board of directors includes former MI6 chief Sir John Sawers, controls exploration areas in Libya nearly three times the size of Wales.

For a long time, British officials have sought to profit from oil in Libya, which contains 48 billion barrels of reserves – the largest oil resources in Africa, accounting for 3% of the world total.

BP is one of the few international oil and gas companies with exploration and production permits in Libya. Muammar Gaddafi nationalized its assets in Libya shortly after seizing power in a 1969 coup that called into question the entire British position in the country and region.

Following years of tensions between the two countries, Prime Minister Tony Blair met Gaddafi in 2004 and struck the so-called “Deal in the Desert,” which included a $900 million exploration and production agreement between BP and Libya’s NOC.

Read next: UN calls for Libya ceasefire after deadly clashes

BP re-entered the country in 2007, but its operations were halted by the 2011 NATO-backed aggression on the country, resulting in ousting Gaddafi and later killing him.

BP operations resumed after the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2018 between the NOC and Eni, the Italian oil major, to resume exploration, with Eni as the oil field operator. BP CEO Bob Dudley hailed the agreement as an important step “toward returning to our work in Libya.”

The $8 billion BP-ENI project includes two exploration areas, one onshore in the Ghadames basin and one offshore in the Sirte basin, totaling approximately 54,000 km2. The Sirte basin concession alone encompasses an area larger than Belgium.

The UK’s other oil major, Shell, is also “preparing to return as a major player” in Libya, according to its statement in a confidential document. After putting its Libyan operations on hold in 2012, the corporation is now planning to explore new oil and gas fields in several blocks.

Oil bribery

In September of last year, a third British company, Petrofac, which provides engineering services to oil operations, was awarded a $100 million contract to help develop the Erawin oil field in Libya’s deep southwest.

Petrofac was at the time under investigation for bribery by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO). One of its executives, global head of sales David Lufkin, had already pleaded guilty in 2019 to 11 counts of bribery. 

The SFO convicted and fined Petrofac on seven counts of bribery between 2011 and 2017 in the month following the award of the Libya contract.

The company pleaded guilty to using agents to bribe officials to the tune of £32 million in order to win oil contracts in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

“A key feature of the case,” the SFO noted, “was the complex and deliberately opaque methods used by these senior executives to pay agents across borders, disguising payments through sub-contractors, creating fake contracts for fictitious services and, in some cases, passing bribes through more than one agent and one country, to disguise their actions.”

It works with BP in several countries around the world, including Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Oman, and in the North Sea.

Backed by UK government

All three British firms re-entering Libya have close ties to the British government. During some of the years when Petrofac paid bribes, the company was led by Ayman Asfari, who donated nearly £800,000 to the Conservative Party between 2009 and 2017.

David Cameron appointed Asfari, who is now a non-executive director of Petrofac, as one of his business ambassadors in 2014.

In May 2019, when Petrofac was under investigation by the SFO, UKEF provided £700m in project insurance for the design and operation of an oil refinery at Duqm in Oman, a project in which Petrofac was named as the sole UK exporter.

Read next: Libya’s largest oilfield resumes operations after 2 months of shutdown

Petrofac was one of five companies that sponsored the official reopening of the British Embassy in Tripoli in June of this year.

Ambassador Caroline Hurndall told the audience, “I am especially proud that British businesses are collaborating with Libyan companies and having a meaningful impact upon Libya’s economic development. Many of those businesses are represented here tonight.”

BP and Shell are close to Whitehall, with a long history of personnel revolving between the corporation and former senior civil servants.

Control of oil

Despite all that has befallen the north African nation, Libya was the UK’s third largest source of oil last year, after Norway and the US, supplying 7.8% of all British oil imports. Oil provides over 90% of Libya’s revenue, which makes it the country’s lifeline. 

However, the country’s NATO-backed aggression has provoked a battle for control over the oil industry which has been described as being in “disarray”, with “little clarity on who really is in control of the nation’s most valuable resource.”

UK ministers have long sought access to Libya’s oil in the international rivalry over access to the key resource. Documents obtained by the oil-focused NGO Platform in 2009 revealed that Labour ministers and senior civil servants met with Shell at least 11 times and possibly as many as 26 times in less than four years to discuss the company’s oil interests in Libya.

Read next: Libya Announces the End of Division in Oil Sector

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Algeria Declaration: Palestine is our central cause

2 Nov 2022 19:06

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen English 

The concluding statement of the Arab Summit emphasizes supporting OPEC+’s decision to cut oil production by two million barrels a day.

The Arab Summit demanded lifting the unjust blockade on Gaza.

The Arab League Summit issued, on its second day in the Palace of Conferences in Algiers, the Algeria Declaration document.

The heads of the Arab states stressed “the centrality of the Palestinian cause and full support for the rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to freedom and self-determination and the right to return, in addition to making the compensation payments for the Palestinian refugees, in accordance with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution No. 194 of 1948.”

The Summit demanded lifting the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and condemning the Israeli occupation’s brutality and barbaric practices against Palestinians, including assassinations and arbitrary arrests.” The Summit also called for the release of all prisoners and detainees, especially children, women, the sick, and the elderly.

The statement emphasized the necessity of “endorsing the pursuit of the Palestinian state to obtain full membership at the United Nations and urging the countries that have not yet recognized the state of Palestine to do so, coupled with the necessity of supporting the legal Palestinian efforts and attempts to hold the Israeli occupation accountable for its war crimes.”

Moreover, the statement confirmed that the Summit supports the policy of OPEC+, which includes oil-producing countries from inside and outside the OPEC organization, in the global energy market.

Algeria confirmed that it “appreciates the balanced policy of the OPEC+ alliance in order to ensure the stability of the global energy markets and sustainability of investments in this sensitive sector as part of an economic approach that ensures protecting the interests of producing and consuming countries alike.”

On October 5, OPEC+ announced reducing oil by two million barrels a day in order to support the markets facing the risk of a decrease in demand for crude oil due to the economic crisis.

The attending states also rejected “all forms of foreign intervention in the Arab countries’ internal affairs” and expressed their insistence on the principle of finding Arab solutions to Arab problems by strengthening the role of the Arab League in preventing crises and solving them through peaceful means and working to strengthen inter-Arab relations.

The attending Arab countries expressed “full solidarity with the Libyan people and support for the efforts aimed at ending the Libyan crisis through a Libyan-Libyan solution that preserves the unity and sovereignty of Libya and safeguards its security and that of the neighboring countries.”

The statement concluded, “All the states should assume a collective leading role to contribute to the efforts made in order to reach a political solution for the Syrian crisis and address all the political, security, humanitarian, and economic repercussions, through what ensures the unity and sovereignty of Syria and realizes the ambitions of its people.”

Algerian FM Ramtane Lamamra: The success of the Algerian summit is the success of all Arabs

Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra considered on Wednesday that the success of the Algerian summit is the success of all Arabs who knew how to come together and agree after the Corona pandemic and realized the importance of unity and the sensitivity of the regional and global situation.

Lamamra said that “the attendance was significant, positive, and constructive, and everyone was eager to apply whatever can contribute to the Arab unity.”

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The real US agenda in Africa is hegemony

September 21, 2022

by Pepe Escobar, first published at The Cradle and posted with the author’s permission

Forget development. Washington’s primary interest in Africa today is keeping the Chinese and Russians out.

In a rational environment, the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) would discuss alleviating the trials and tribulations of the Global South, especially Africa.

That won’t be the case. Like a deer caught in the geopolitical headlights, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued platitudes about a gloomy “winter of global discontent,” even as the proverbial imperial doomsayers criticized the UN’s “crisis of faith” and blasted the “unprovoked war” started by Russia.

Of course the slow-motion genocide of Donbass russophone residents for eight years would never be recognized as a provocation.

Guterres spoke of Afghanistan, “where the economy is in ruins and human rights are being trampled” – but he did not dare to offer context. In Libya, “divisions continue to jeopardize the country” – once again, no context. Not to mention Iraq, where “ongoing tensions threaten ongoing stability.”

Africa has 54 nations as UN members. Any truly representative UNGA meeting should place Africa’s problems at the forefront. Once again, that’s not the case. So it is left to African leaders to offer that much-needed context outside of the UN building in New York.

As the only African member of the G20, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently urged the US not to “punish” the whole continent by forcing nations to demonize or sanction Russia. Washington’s introduction of legislation dubbed the Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act, he says, “will harm Africa and marginalize the continent.”

South Africa is a BRICS member – a concept that is anathema in the Beltway – and embraces a policy of non-alignment among world powers. An emerging 21st century version of the 1960s Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is strengthening across the Global South – and especially Africa – much to the revulsion of the US and its minions.

Back at the UNGA, Guterres invoked the global fertilizer crisis – again, with no context. Russian diplomacy has repeatedly stressed that Moscow is ready to export 30 million tons of grain and over 20 million tons of fertilizer by the end of 2022. What is left unsaid in the west, is that only the importation of fertilizers to the EU is “allowed,” while transit to Africa is not.

Guterres said he was trying to persuade EU leaders to lift sanctions on Russian fertilizer exports, which directly affect cargo payments and shipping insurance. Russia’s Uralchem, for instance, even offered to supply fertilizers to Africa for free.

Yet from the point of view of the US and its EU vassals, the only thing that matters is to counter Russia and China in Africa. Senegal’s President Macky Sall has remarked how this policy is leaving “a bitter taste.”

‘We forbid you to build your pipeline’

It gets worse. The largely ineffectual EU Parliament now wants to stop the construction of the 1,445 km-long East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) from Uganda to Tanzania, invoking hazy human rights violations, environmental threats, and “advising” member countries to simply drop out of the project.

Uganda is counting on more than 6 billion barrels of oil to sustain an employment boom and finally move the nation to middle-income status. It was up to Ugandan Parliament Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa to offer much-needed context:

“It is imprudent to say that Uganda’s oil projects will exacerbate climate change, yet it is a fact that the EU block with only 10 percent of the world’s population is responsible for 25 percent of global emissions, and Africa with 20 percent of the world’s population is responsible for 3 percent of emissions. The EU and other western countries are historically responsible for climate change. Who then should stop or slow down the development of natural resources? Certainly not Africa or Uganda.”

The EU Parliament, moreover, is a staunch puppet of the biofuel lobby. It has refused to amend a law that would have stopped the use of food crops for fuel production, actually contributing to what the UN Food Program has described as “a global emergency of unprecedented magnitude.” No less than 350 million people are on the brink of starvation across Africa.

Instead, the G7’s notion of “helping” Africa is crystallized in the US-led Build Back Better World (B3W) – Washington’s anaemic attempt to counter Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – which focuses on “climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equity and equality,” according to the White House. Practical issues of infrastructure and sustainable development, which are at the heart of China’s plan, are simply ignored by the B3W.

Initially, a few “promising” projects were identified by a traveling US delegation in Senegal and Ghana. Senegalese diplomatic sources have since confirmed that these projects have nothing whatsoever to do with building infrastructure.

B3W, predictably, fizzled out. After all, the US-led project was little more than a public relations gimmick to undermine the Chinese, with negligible effect on narrowing the $40-plus trillion worth of infrastructure needed to be built across the Global South by 2035.

Have YALI, will travel

Imperial initiatives in Africa – apart from the US military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM), which amounts to raw militarization of the continent – brings us to the curious case of YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative), widely touted in the Washington-New York axis as “the most innovative” policy of the Obama years.

Launched in 2010, YALI was framed as “empowering the new generation of Africa leadership” – a euphemism for educating (or brainwashing) them the American way. The mechanism is simple: investing in and bringing hundreds of young African potential leaders to US universities for a short, six-week “training” on “business, civil leadership, entrepreneurship, and public management.” Then, four days in Washington to meet “leaders in the administration,” and a photo op with Obama.

The project was coordinated by US embassies in Africa, and targeted young men and women from sub-Saharan Africa’s 49 nations – including those under US sanctions, like Sudan, Eritrea, and Zimbabwe – proficient in English, with a “commitment” to return to Africa. Roughly 80 percent during the initial years had never been to the US, and more than 50 percent grew up outside of big cities.

Then, in a speech in 2013 in South Africa, Obama announced the establishment of the Washington Fellowship, later renamed the Mandela-Washington Fellowship (MWF).

That’s still ongoing. In 2022, MWF should be granted to 700 “outstanding young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa,” who follow “Leadership Institutes” at nearly 40 US universities, before their short stint in Washington. After which, they are ready for “long-term engagement between the United States and Africa.”

And all that for literally peanuts, as MWF was enthusiastically billed by the Democrat establishment as cost-efficient: $24,000 per fellow, paid by participant US universities as well as Coca-Cola, IBM, MasterCard Foundation, Microsoft, Intel, McKinsey, GE, and Procter & Gamble.

And that didn’t stop with MWF. USAID went a step further, and invested over $38 million – plus $10 million from the MasterCard Foundation – to set up four Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs) in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Senegal. These were training, long distance and in-class, at least 3,500 ‘future leaders’ a year.

It’s no wonder the Brookings Institution was drooling over so much “cost-efficiency” when it comes to investing “in Africa’s future” and for the US to “stay competitive” in Africa. YALI certainly looks prettier than AFRICOM.

A few success stories though don’t seem to rival the steady stream of African footballers making a splash in Europe – and then reinvesting most of their profits back home. The Trump years did see a reduction of YALI’s funding – from $19 million in 2017 to roughly $5 million.

So many leaders to ‘train’

Predictably, the Joe Biden White House YALI-ed all over again with a vengeance. Take this US press attache in Nigeria neatly outlining the current emphasis on “media and information literacy,” badly needed to tackle the “spreading of disinformation” including “in the months leading up to the national presidential election.”

So the US, under YALI, “trained 1,000 young Nigerians to recognize the signs of online and media misinformation and disinformation.” And now the follow-up is “Train the Trainer” workshops, “teaching 40 journalists, content creators, and activists (half of whom will be women) from Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Zamfara, and Katsina how to identify, investigate, and report misinformation.” Facebook, being ordered by the FBI to censor “inconvenient,” potentially election-altering facts, is not part of the curriculum.

YALI is the soft, Instagrammed face of AFRICOM. The US has participated in the overthrow of several African governments over the past two decades, with troops trained under secrecy-obsessed AFRICOM. There has been no serious Pentagon audit on the weaponizing of AFRICOM’s local “partners.” For all we know – as in Syria and Libya – the US military could be arming even more terrorists.

And predictably, it’s all bipartisan. Rabid neo-con and former Trump national security adviser John Bolton, in December 2018, at the Heritage Foundation, made it crystal clear: the US in Africa has nothing to do with supporting democracy and sustainable development. It’s all about countering Russia and China.

When it learned that Beijing was considering building a naval base in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, the Biden White House sent power envoys to the capital Malabo to convince the government to cease and desist. To no avail.

In contrast, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was received like a superstar in his recent extensive tour of Africa, where it’s widely perceived that global food prices and the fertilizer drama are a direct consequence of western sanctions on Russia. Uganda leader Yoweri Museveni went straight to the point when he said, “How can we be against somebody who has never harmed us?”

On 13-15 December, the White House plans a major US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington to discuss mostly food security and climate change – alongside the perennial lectures on democracy and human rights. Most leaders won’t be exactly impressed with this new showing of “the United States’ enduring commitment to Africa.” Well, there’s always YALI. So many young leaders to indoctrinate, so little time.

Goodbye, Trafalgar Square: Celebrating Freedom in Europe

August 16, 2022

Source

A Look Forward to 2035 by Batiushka

England

Following the 2034 collapse of Britain and the popular overthrow of its millennial Establishment after nearly two decades of political turmoil, England moves ahead. Last week international arrest warrants were issued by the new People’s Government for the detention of the elderly war criminals Blair (Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq), Cameron (Libya, Syria and the Yemen) and Johnson (the Ukraine), who are all believed to be in hiding, cowering from justice somewhere in Florida, where they are now being hunted down.

As regards internal changes to the English Capital, just today the following changes have been announced by the People’s Government in London, the Capital of England, part of its programme of ‘Re-Englanding England’, also known as ‘Debritainisation’.

England Square

Today, exactly two hundred years after ‘Trafalgar Square’ in London was given the name of an Arabic-named Cape in Spain, the Square is to be renamed ‘England Square’. The statue of Nelson on its column is to be replaced by a statue of the effective founder of England, King Alfred the Great, known as ‘England’s Darling’, ‘The Truthteller’ and ‘The Lawgiver’. It will then be known as ‘Alfred’s Column’. A spokesman for the People’s Government said that it in no way wished to denigrate Nelson, whose tactical genius and personal bravery are undoubted, but Demilitarisation is an inherent part of Debritainisation. The statue will be removed to the English Museum, formerly called ‘The British Museum’. This has plenty of empty space, since so many of its artefacts, looted from around the world by British imperialists mainly since the eighteenth-century, have been returned to their countries of origin.

At the same time the four lions around the base of Alfred’s Column will also be sent to the English Museum as part of the policy of Demilitarisation, that is, as part of the policy of the removal of aggressive symbols of imperialist militarism. They will be replaced by four female figures, personifying Motherhood, Peace, Justice and Freedom. The four plinths for statues on England Square, at present occupied by three statues (the fourth plinth is empty) of the German King George IV and the imperialist militarists, Napier and Havelock, are also to be sent to the English Museum. They will be replaced by statues of literary and social geniuses of English history, known as ‘The Four Williams’: William Langland (1332-1386), William Shakespeare (1564-1616), William Blake (1757-1827) and William Cobbett (1763-1835).

As readers may know, Langland wrote a visionary English-language poem and allegory called ‘Piers Plowman’, in which he denounced the corruption of the medieval Catholic Church and praised the simple faith of the people. As for Shakespeare, he was the most brilliant poet of the English language and a very perceptive psychologist, who described in detail the good and bad in human nature and their motivations. Blake was the visionary poet and artist who opposed the appalling exploitation of his age and wrote the new English National Anthem, ‘Jerusalem’, in which he denounced the ‘dark, satanic mills’ of the so-called ‘Industrial Revolution’, that is, of the mass exploitation of industrial workers. Cobbett was a politician who struggled for social justice and wrote against the collectivisation, or privatisation, that is, just plain theft, of the common land in England, euphemistically called the ‘Enclosures’. He constantly campaigned against corruption and poverty and in favour of rural prosperity and freedom.

As for the busts of the three imperialist Admirals, Jellicoe, Beatty and Cunningham, in England Square, they are also to be sent to the English Museum and be replaced by busts of three well-known poets: a soldier (Wilfred Owen), a merchant sailor (John Masefield) and an airman, John Gillespie Magee (author of ‘High Flight’). They are in memory of the sacrifices of ordinary men, ‘the lions led by donkeys’, in the imperialist wars of the British past. The statue of Charles I on the south side of England Square, usurped and then beheaded by a clique of grasping merchants, will be retained. However, the statues in front of the National Gallery, of the Scottish King James II and of the slave-owning colonist George Washington, will be sent to the English Museum and be replaced by statues of the two Patronal Saints of England, St George and St Edmund.

The Square of the Peoples

Meanwhile, there will also be changes to the statues outside ‘Parliament’, renamed ‘The House of the People’ since the abolition of the House of Lords, to that in the Guildhall, and to the twelve statues in Parliament Square, now renamed ‘The Square of the Peoples’. Outside the House of the People, the statue of Cromwell is to be replaced by a statue of an Irish peasant, at least 200,000 (10% of the population) of whom the brutal thug Cromwell had massacred. In the Guildhall the statue of Thatcher is to be replaced by the statue of a Yorkshire coal-miner. Both old statues are to be taken to the English Museum to protect them from vandalism.

In The Square of the Peoples, nine of the present twelve statues are also to be removed. These are, in anti-clockwise order: the statue of Churchill, replaced by that of an English child orphaned by bombing in the Second World War; that of David Lloyd George by an injured World War One Welsh soldier; that of the South African Prime Minister Smuts by a Boer woman from a British concentration camp during the Boer War; that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Palmerston by that of a Russian peasant-soldier from the British invasion of Russia (the so-called ‘Crimean War’); that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Smith-Stanley (the Earl of Derby) by that of a Chinese woman suffering in the so-called, British-caused ‘Opium War’ (Genocide of China); that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Disraeli by that of a Bulgarian peasant-woman, oppressed by the Ottomans whom Disraeli immorally supported; that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Peel by that of a starving Irishwoman from the Irish Potato Famine; that of the British Imperialist Prime Minister Canning by that of a Scottish crofter, removed by force from his land which was stolen from him in the so-called ‘Highland Clearances’; that of Lincoln by that of a Tasmanian Aborigene, representing the treatment of North, Central and South American Natives, Australian Aborigenes, genocided Tasmanians and Maori, all as a result of British ‘colonisation’ (land-theft). The statues of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Millicent Fawcett will remain as symbols of the striving for freedom of Africans, Indians and of women, who were freed from Victorian oppression and the deprivation of rights.

Europe

The new English People’s Government, elected by over 85% of the electorate according to the new proportional democracy, is keen to depose the old tyrants and celebrate the victims of tyranny. It has come to our knowledge that parallel events are about to occur not only in newly-reunited Ireland and newly-independent Scotland and Wales, but also in the newly-freed countries of the former EU. This follows last month’s sacking of the EU headquarters in the Berlaymont building in Brussels. Everywhere in Western Europe the flags of freedom are beginning to flutter defiantly.

In Paris the Arc de Triomphe in Paris is to be renamed ‘L’Arc du Peuple’ (‘The People’s Arch’) and Napoleon’s bloody battles are to be removed from it. Rome, Brussels, Vienna, Berlin, Madrid, Lisbon – all are reviewing names of streets, statues and monuments. As for the English Government, it has already joined the new Confederation of Free European Nations (CFEN), a loose structure which will meet in various European Capitals. It was originally suggested by the paternal Russian government and has been formed to replace the old centralised EU and its unelected bureaucrats and tyrants.

15 August 2035

Breaking News:

It has just been announced that Antony Blair has been captured by the Free American Police after being found hiding in a hole in the ground near a farmhouse outside Miami. Blair was shown in a photograph with a full beard and hair longer than in his familiar appearance. He was described by police officials as being in good health despite his 82 years. The details of his double trial, which is to take place in Belgrade and then in Baghdad, have not yet been determined. The local police call their prisoner ‘Vic’, which stands for ‘Very Important Criminal’. Officials said that Blair whined to them after his arrest: ‘I am innocent, I did not do anything, I was only following orders from the White House’.

Why is Amnesty apologising for telling the truth about Ukrainian war crimes?

16 August 2022

JONATHAN COOK

Allowing only one side to be criticised for its crimes – reinforcing the loaded western political narrative of good guys versus bad guys – is likely to fuel war rather than resolve it

Middle East Eye – 16 August 2022

Should a human rights organisation apologise for publishing important evidence of war crimes and human rights abuses?

If it does apologise, what does that suggest about its commitment to dispassionately uncovering the truth about the actions of both parties to war? And equally, what message does it send to those who claim to be “distressed” by the publication of such evidence?

Those are questions Amnesty International should have pondered far more carefully than it obviously did before issuing an apology last week over its latest report on the war in Ukraine.

In that report, Amnesty accused Ukrainian forces of committing war crimes by stationing troops and artillery in or near schools, hospitals and residential buildings, thereby using civilians effectively as human shields. Such practices by Ukrainian soldiers were identified in 19 different towns and villages.

These incidents did not just theoretically endanger civilians. There is evidence, according to Amnesty, that return fire by Russian troops on these Ukrainian positions led to non-combatants being killed.

The Israeli army regularly accuses Palestinian factions like Hamas of hiding among civilians in Gaza, while obscuring its own, long-documented practice of using Palestinians as human shields.

But whatever the truth of Israel’s claims, unlike the tiny and massively overcrowded Gaza, which offers few or no hiding places outside of built-up areas for Palestinian fighters to resist Israeli aggression, Amnesty concluded of the situation in Ukraine: “Viable alternatives were available that would not endanger civilians – such as military bases or densely wooded areas nearby, or other structures further away from residential areas.”

In other words, it was a choice made by the Ukrainian army to put its own civilians in harm’s way.

Mounting pressure

Notably, this is the first time a major western human rights organisation has publicly scrutinised the behaviour of Ukraine’s soldiers. Until now, these watchdog bodies have focused exclusively on reports of crimes committed by Russian forces – a position entirely in line with the priorities of their own governments. By its own admission, Amnesty has published dozens of reports condemning Russia.

The pushback against the latest report was relentless, coming even from Amnesty’s own Ukrainian team. Oksana Pokalchuk, its head, quit, explaining that her team “did everything they could to prevent this material from being published”.

Under mounting pressure, Amnesty made a statement last week in which it said it “deeply regrets the distress and anger” caused by its report, while at the same time stating: “We fully stand by our findings.”

The idea that only one side has been committing war crimes in Ukraine was always implausible. In wars, all sides commit crimes. It is in the nature of wars.

Faulty lines of communication mean orders are misunderstood or only partially relayed to those on the front lines. Inevitably, soldiers prioritise their own lives over those of the enemy, including civilians. Terrorising the other side – through human rights violations – can be an effective way to avoid combat, by sending a warning to enemy soldiers to desert their posts and civilians to flee. Sadists and psychopaths, meanwhile, find themselves with plenty of opportunities to exploit during the fighting.

But conversely, parties to wars invariably struggle to acknowledge their own abuses. They prefer simple-minded, self-serving narratives of good and evil: our soldiers are heroes, morally spotless, while their soldiers are barbarians, indifferent to the value of human life.

Western governments and establishment media outlets have readily peddled this foolish line in Ukraine, too, even though neither Europe nor the United States are supposed to be directly involved in the war. They have reflexively amplified Ukrainian claims of Russian war crimes, even when the evidence is lacking or the picture murky, and they have resolutely ignored any evidence of Ukrainian crimes, such as evidence that Russian prisoners of war have been executed or that Ukraine has been using petal cluster bombs in civilian areas.

More self-censorship

In such circumstances, only the human rights community is in a position to provide a more faithful picture of how events are unfolding, and hold to account both sides for their crimes. But until Amnesty stepped out of line, western human rights groups had moved in lockstep with western governments, the same governments that appear to want endless war in Ukraine, to “weaken Russia”, rather than a quick resolution.

Even the author of Amnesty’s new report, Donatella Rovera, has conceded: “I think the level of self-censorship on this issue [Ukrainian war crimes] has been pretty extraordinary.”

Amnesty should not be apologising for providing a rare window on such crimes. It should be emphasising the importance of monitoring both sides for serious breaches of international law. And for very good reason.

Amnesty’s apology sends a message to those partisans trying to shut down scrutiny of Ukrainian crimes of just how easy it is to put the human rights community on the defensive. Efforts to deter reporting of a similar nature in the future will intensify.

Ukraine’s foreign affairs minister, Dmytro Kuleba, was among those who lost no time vilifying Amnesty by characterising its report as “Russian disinformation”.

Amnesty’s apology suggests such pressure campaigns have an effect and will lead to increased self-censorship – in a situation where the evidence already indicates that there is a great deal of self-censorship, as Rovera pointed out.

The apology betrays the civilians who have been, and will be, used as human shields – putting them in lethal danger – over the coming months and potentially years of fighting. It means Ukrainian forces will feel even less pressure to rein in behaviour that amounts to a war crime. 

Amnesty would never apologise to Russian partisans offended by a report on Russian war crimes. Its current apology indicates to the victims of Ukrainian human rights abuses that they are less worthy than the victims of Russian abuses.

Flooding the battlefield

Turning a blind eye to Ukrainian crimes also lifts the pressure on western governments. They have been recklessly channelling arms worth many billions of dollars to Ukraine, even though they have little idea where most end up. (In a further worrying sign of self-censorship in the west, CBS recently postponed the broadcast of an investigation suggesting as little as a third of western weapons reach their intended destination in Ukraine.)

That is all the more dangerous because, even before Russia’s invasion in late February, Ukrainian forces – including the neo-Nazi elements now glossed over in western narratives – were engaged in a vicious civil war with ethnic Russian communities in Ukraine’s east. That region, the Donbas, is where Moscow has been focusing its military advances.

Human rights violations by Ukrainians against other Ukrainians were regularly committed during the eight-year civil war, as western monitors documented at the time. Such crimes are almost certainly continuing under cover of the war against Russia, but with the aid now of western arms shipments.

Ignoring abuses by Ukrainian forces gives them a free hand to commit crimes not only against Russian soldiers but also against the large number of Ukrainians who are not seen as loyal to Kyiv.

A failure to closely scrutinise how and where western artillery is being used is almost certain to result in more, not less, of the kind of Ukrainian crimes Amnesty has just highlighted.

Western governments, and publics, need to be confronted with the likely consequences of flooding the battlefield with weapons before they prefer such a policy over pursuing diplomatic solutions.

Ultimately, allowing one side only to be criticised for its crimes – reinforcing the simple-minded narrative of good guys versus bad guys – is likely to fuel the war rather than resolve it.

War-mongering

Amnesty’s conduct over this latest report is not exceptional. It is part of a pattern of behaviour by a western human rights community vulnerable to political and financial pressures that detract from its ostensible mission. 

As the near-exclusive focus on Russian crimes in Ukraine illustrates, international humanitarian law is all too often interpreted through the prism of western political priorities.

There has long been a revolving door between the staff of prominent human rights groups and the US government. And pressure from elite donors – who are invested in these dominant narratives – doubtless plays a part, too.

Anyone departing from the narrow political consensus imposed by western political and media elites is defamed as spreading Russian “disinformation”, or for being apologists for dictators like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad or Libya’s late ruler Muammar Gaddafi. Criticisms of Israel, meanwhile, are demonised as proof of antisemitism. 

Certainly, Russian, Syrian and Libyan leaders have committed war crimes. But the focus on their crimes is all too often an excuse to avoid addressing western war crimes, and thereby enable agendas that advance the interests of the West’s war industries.

I experienced this first hand during the month-long conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. Israel accused Hezbollah of using its own population as “human shields” – framed by the Norwegian politician and United Nations official Jan Egeland as “cowardly blending” – an allegation lapped up by the western media.

Whatever the truth of that claim, it presented a very one-sided picture of what took place during that summer’s fighting. Though no one was allowed to mention it at the time because of Israel’s strict military censorship laws, it was common knowledge among Israel’s minority of Palestinian citizens that many of their own communities in northern Israel were being used as locations for Israeli tanks and artillery to fire into Lebanon.

The Israeli army had forcibly recruited these third-class citizens as human shields, just as the Ukrainian army is now accused by Amnesty of doing to civilians.

I saw for myself a number of the locations where Israel had installed batteries in or next to the minority’s communities. There were later Israeli court cases that confirmed this widespread practice; Palestinian politicians in Israel raised the matter in the Israeli parliament; and a local human rights group later issued a report documenting examples of these war crimes.

But these revelations never gained any traction with either the western media or human rights groups. Western publics were left with an entirely false impression: that Hezbollah alone had endangered its own civilians, even though Israel had undoubtedly done the same or worse.

The reality could not be acknowledged because it conflicted with western political priorities that treat Israel as a valued ally with a moral army and Hezbollah as a depraved, bloodthirsty terrorist organisation.

Saints and sinners

Human rights groups reporting on the 2006 Lebanon war actively echoed these self-serving western narratives that unfairly differentiated between Hezbollah and Israel, as I highlighted at the time.

I found myself in a very public row with Human Rights Watch over comments made by one of its researchers to the New York Times claiming that Hezbollah had intentionally targeted Israeli civilians whereas Israel had avoided targeting Lebanese civilians.

First, it completely failed to fit the known facts of the war. Israel’s strikes on Lebanon had caused a disproportionately large number of civilian deaths, despite the use of precision weapons. Hezbollah, using far more primitive rockets, meanwhile, had killed mostly soldiers, not civilians. 

But more problematic still, HRW had ascribed intentions to each side – good and bad – when it could not possibly know what those intentions were. As I wrote at the time of its researcher’s comments:

Was he or another HRW researcher sitting in one of the military bunkers in northern Israel when army planners pressed the button to unleash the missiles from their spy drones? Was he sitting alongside the air force pilots as they circled over Lebanon dropping their US-made bombs or tens of thousands of ‘cluster munitions’, tiny land mines that are now sprinkled over a vast area of south Lebanon? Did he have intimate conversations with the Israeli chiefs of staff about their war strategy? Of course not. He has no more idea than you or I what Israel’s military planners and its politicians decided was necessary to achieve their war goals.

HRW’s comments made sense only in a political context: that the group faced enormous pressure from US politicians and funders to focus on Hezbollah’s crimes. It also faced a damaging vilification campaign led by Israel lobbyists who wished to shield Israel from scrutiny. They accused the group’s senior staff of antisemitism and spreading a blood libel.

It looked very much like HRW caved into that pressure, just as Amnesty is now effectively doing in apologising for upsetting Ukrainian partisans and those emotionally invested in the one-sided narrative they hear constantly from their politicians and media.

Neither Amnesty nor Human Rights Watch responded to a request for comment. 

The reality is that western publics need more, not less, scrutiny of the crimes committed in wars, if only to tear the facade off narratives designed to paint a picture of saints and sinners – narratives that dehumanise official enemies and fuel more war.

The minimum needed to achieve that is an independent, fearless, vigorous human rights community, not an apologetic one. 

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The west’s Plan B: Secure the realm

Having failed in preserving the unipolar order, the west will resort to Plan B – reviving a bipolar world based on the ‘civilized’ west and the ‘barbarian’ rest.

June 27 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Fadi Lama

Plan A: Global Hegemony

By the late 1990s, it was clear that a China-led Asia would be the dominant economic, technological and military power of the 21st century.

The late Polish-American diplomat and political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski spelled out in 1997 that the way to control Asian growth, and China’s in particular, was to control global energy reserves.

The attacks on 11 September 2001 provided the “catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor” to set military intervention plans in motion. As noted by US General Wesley Clark, “in addition to Afghanistan, we’re going to take out 7 countries in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.”

Energy reserves of these countries – in addition to those already controlled by the west – would result in western control over 60 percent of global gas reserves and 70 percent of global oil reserves.

However, the west’s direct military intervention wars failed, and subsequent proxy wars using assorted Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamists failed as well.

Rise of the ‘RIC’

In the two decades since Brzezinski laid out his strategy and the west immersed itself in failed wars, the Eurasian sovereignist core of Russia, Iran, and China (RIC) were heavily focused on national development in all arenas, including the economic, technological and military fields, and physical and social infrastructure development.

By 2018, it was clear that plans for western control of global energy reserves had failed and that the RIC had overtaken the west in many, if not most, of the aforementioned sectors.

As a result, the RIC were able to project power, protecting sovereign nations from western interventionism in West AsiaCentral AsiaSouth America and Africa. In Iran’s case this also involved a direct military response against US forces, following the assassination of the late General Qassem Soleimani. Making matters worse, the gap between the west and the RIC is widening, with little chance for the former to catch up.

The impossibility of sustaining western global hegemony had become evident amid continuous erosion of western power and global influence, which coincide with a commensurate expansion of RIC global influence, both of which necessitated an alternative strategy: a Plan B, as it were.

Plan B: Securing the realm

In view of the irreversible widening of this gap, and the growing global influence of the RIC, the only feasible strategy for the west would be to ‘terminate the competition’ by splitting the world into two regions, one in which the west has ironclad control, where western “rules” reign, and is divorced from the RIC-influenced region.

The current geostrategy of the west is the imposition of an Iron Curtain with the inclusion of as many resource rich nations as possible. Only by realizing the west’s actual geostrategic objective is it possible to understand the reason behind its apparently self-defeating actions, specifically:

  • Imposition of draconian sanctions on Russia that hurt the west far more than Russia.
  • Increasing tensions with China and Iran whilst engaged in a proxy war with Russia.

While the world is fixated on the conflict in Ukraine, the geostrategic objective of the west is being steadily advanced.

Sanctions: the catalyst of crises and coercion

The widely accepted explanation is that the west imposed draconian sanctions with the expectation that it would turn the ruble into “rubble,” create a run on banks, crash the Russian economy, weaken President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power, and pave the way for a more amenable president to replace him.

None of these expectations materialized. On the contrary, the ruble strengthened against the dollar and the euro, and the Russian economy is faring better than most western economies, which are witnessing record inflation and recessionary indicators. To add insult to injury, Putin’s popularity has soared while those of his western counterparts are hitting record lows.

The west’s after-the-fact explanation that sanctions, and their repercussions, were not well thought out, do not hold water.

Often overlooked though, has been the devastating impact of these sanctions on the Global South. US economist Michael Hudson argues that the Ukraine war is merely a catalyst to impose sanctions that would result in global food and energy crises – allowing the US to coerce the Global South to be “with us or against us.”

Indeed the impact of these crises are compounded by the earlier detrimental impact of Covid lockdowns. Food, energy and economic crises are further exasperated by the US Federal Reserve raising interest rates which directly impact the debt servicing ability of Global South countries, placing them on the edge of bankruptcy and at the mercy of the western-controlled World Bank and International Monetary Fund — the instruments for effectively locking these nations within the western realm.

Thus, despite the very negative impact of sanctions on western countries, these nevertheless fit perfectly with the strategic objective of locking in as many Global South countries within the western sphere of influence.

Tensions with China and Iran:

Driving a wedge between Eurasian powers has been an axiom of western geostrategy, as expressed eloquently by Brzezinski: “The three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are:

  • to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals,
  • to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and
  • to keep the barbarians from coming together.”

In this regard, raising tensions with Beijing and Tehran, while the west is involved in a proxy war with Russia, appears contradictory.

However it starts to make more rational sense when contextualizing the strategy as one aiming to establish an “Iron Curtain” that separates the world into two: one is the western Realm, and the other is Brzezinski’s ‘Barbaria,’ at the core of which are the RIC.

Two worlds

The western realm will continue on its path of neoliberalism. Yet due to significantly smaller populations and resources under its control, it will be significantly impoverished compared to present, necessitating imposition of police states for which Covid-19 lockdowns provide a glimpse into the socio-political future of these states.

Global South countries under the western realm will continue down a path of increased poverty, requiring management by dictatorial governments. Political turbulence is expected as a result of deteriorating socioeconomic conditions.

‘Barbaria,’ as reflected in the very diverse political and economic models of the RIC, will have a variety of development models, reflecting the civilizational diversity within this realm and the mutually beneficial cooperation which currently exists between the RICs, and between the RIC and others.

What about the Global South?

Facing the perfect storm of food, energy, inflation and debt servicing crises, many Global South countries will be in a very weak position and may be readily coerced into joining the western realm. This will be facilitated by the fact that their economic, and consequently, political elites, have their interests aligned with the western financial construct – and will thus wholeheartedly embrace joining the west.

The inability of west to provide effective solutions to these crises, coupled with their colonial past, will make joining Barbaria more attractive. This can be further influenced by the RIC providing support during this crisis period.

Russia has already offered to assist in the provision of food to Afghanistan and African countries, while Iran notably provided gasoline to Venezuela during its fuel crisis. Meanwhile, China has a successful track record of infrastructure development in Global South countries and is spearheading the world’s most ambitious connectivity project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

As Russian economist and Minister of Integration for the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) Sergey Glazyev already hinted when describing the emerging alternative global financial network: “Countries of the Global South can be full participants of the new system regardless of their accumulated debts in dollars, euro, pound, and yen. Even if they were to default on their obligations in those currencies, this would have no bearing on their credit rating in the new financial system.”

How many Global South nations can the western realm realistically expect to hold onto when Barbaria offers a clean slate, with zero debt?

Where does this leave West Asia?

The Axis of Resistance will be further aligned with Barbaria; however, political elites in Iraq and Lebanon favor the western realm. Thus, a politically turbulent period is expected in such countries. Due to the inability of west to offer economic solutions, coupled with the clout of local Resistance parties in these countries, the end game for Iraq and Lebanon is ultimately to join Barbaria, along with the de-facto government of Yemen.

Oil sheikhdoms of the Gulf are creations of the west and therefore belong in the western realm. However due to events of the past two decades, this may not necessarily be where they all line up.  The west’s debacles in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen have convinced the sheikhdoms that the west has lost its military edge, and is no longer able to offer long term protection.

Furthermore, unlike the west, Barbaria has a track record of not directly meddling in the internal affairs of nations, a factor of significance for the sheikhdoms. Recent diplomatic tensions with the west have been evidenced by Saudi and UAE leaders rejecting the oil production demands of the US administration – an unprecedented development. If offered convincing protection by Barbaria, oil sheikhdoms may decide to join it.

End of an Era

Retrenchment of the west marks the end of a long era of western expansionism and oppression. Some date this era back six centuries to the start of European colonization in the fifteenth century. Others date it even further back to the Great Schism and the subsequent Crusades.

The latter are supported by a statement attributed to British Field Marshal Edmund Allenby on entering Jerusalem in 1917:  “only now have the crusades ended,” and the fact that church bells chimed worldwide in celebration of the occupation of Jerusalem.

During this era, hundreds of millions all over the globe were massacred, civilizations were wiped out, billions suffered and still suffer. To state that we are living in epochal times is a gross understatement.

Naturally the end of such an era cannot happen peacefully; the wars of the past 30 years are witness to this.

The regression of western initiated wars from direct military intervention (Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq) to wars by proxy (Syria, Iraq, Ukraine) augurs well, as it reflects the realization by the west that it is no match militarily to the RIC. Had there been any lingering doubts, the war in Ukraine has put them to rest. Thus it can be concluded that the worst is over.

Internal instability in some Global South countries will exist in the near future; a consequence of the struggle between diverging interests of populations and neoliberal ruling elites. Decline and impoverishment of the west vs. the rise of RIC will favour the resolving these struggles in favour of the peoples and alignment with RIC.

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

The Third Patriotic War

May 07, 2022

Source

A St George’s Day Contribution by Batiushka

Introduction: War

I am not a technical-military man, but I have very strong military connections and a keen interest in military history, both Russian and Western, and also in geopolitics, having lectured on it. I lived in Soviet Russia in the 1970s, experienced its weaknesses, its strengths and also its hollowness, understanding that it would eventually fall, for even then nobody believed in Communism any more. All continued by inertia. Collapse was inevitable. I also know contemporary Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltics and Moldova very well. In fact, I was in Kiev only last October, being shown the SBU/CIA Secret Police building in the centre and being told to hush my voice as we walked past. No-one wanted to visit the torture-chambers in the basement.

The special operation to free the Russian Donbass from Fascist oppression which began on 24 February 2022 meant a war between the Russian Federation and the Kiev regime, which under Western pressure would refuse to back down. This would inevitably mean a war between Russia and NATO, even if the actual battleground would still be limited to the Ukraine. I firmly believe that the Russian government knew all this and foresaw the consequences, that the West would intervene with all the economic, political, military and technological might of the US/NATO military complex. This knowledge was why the Donbass had had to wait for liberation for eight long and grim years. Russia had had to get ready for the inevitable very carefully.

The Preparation

Let us recall how Soviet Russia fell through treason, ending up dissolving itself on 25 December 1991. In October 1993, 4,000 US Marines (I know one of them) were flown to a base outside Moscow. This was just in case the popular rising against ‘democracy’ and the drunkard Western puppet and traitor Yeltsin went Russia’s way and against the neocons and their privatisers’ ‘shock therapy’. The repression of the October bid for freedom left 5,000 Russian dead. The US support had been there, though it did not have to be used, as there were enough Russian traitors to do the dirty deed themselves.

Russian weakness and internal treachery was why the Russian government betrayed Serbia in the 1990s and Libya in 2011 – it was far too weak to stand up to the West. After the Crimea democratically returned to Russia after 60 years (1954-2014) with the internationally-observed referendum in 2014, the West still applied illegal sanctions to Russia. Then Moscow knew that any action to free the Ukraine from the Western junta in Kiev would have to be prepared very carefully, for the sanctions would only be multiplied. What preparations had to be made?

Firstly, there was the diplomatic and trade front. Allies had to be brought onside, in Eurasia with China, Iran, India, Turkey (Russia rescuing Erdogan from the US assassination attempt at the last moment in July 2016), Hungary, then, from Venezuela to Brazil, Latin America and then, from Egypt to South Africa, Africa. As regards the Western world, especially the EU, there was a chance to present the Russian point of view through RT, as at that time Western censorship was not yet total.

Secondly, there was the modernisation of the Russian Armed Forces to be undertaken, with new, non-nuclear weapons, hypersonic missiles, drones, electronic technology, some of which would be tested out in Syria.

Thirdly, there was the policy of import substitution to be implemented in order to make Russia independent in case of further illegal Western sanctions.

Why Did It Start on 24 February 2022?

There were four triggers which sparked off the special operation on 24 February.

Firstly, the Zelensky regime wanted the Ukraine to become a NATO member. The weak post-Communist Russian Federation had already made that mistake many times, allowing Eastern Europe, notably the Baltics, Poland and Romania, to join that aggressive protection racket. In that way the post-War buffer states of Eastern Europe, providing a demilitarised zone for Russia, ended. After all, if you have been invaded from the West very regularly for 800 years, leaving 27 million of your citizens dead in the most recent invasion, would you not also want a demilitarised buffer zone to protect you? Post-War offensive NATO was the only reason why the defensive Warsaw Pact had to be set up.

Secondly, with missiles on American bases in Poland and Romania and NATO troops smugly parading at the Estonian border with Russia, the Ukraine then threatened to obtain nuclear arms. Did Zelensky, reading his American script as a true actor, really expect Russia not to react to this?

Thirdly, the US, not without the help of its local pronconsul, the cocaine-addled Hunter Biden, had set up some thirty biolabs in the Ukraine. Their target? To find genetically-concocted viruses to infect Russians. Would Russia not defend itself?

Fourthly, though possibly this may not have been discovered by Russia until a day or two after the special operation began, though possibly they knew perfectly well beforehand, the NATO-manipulated, instructed and armed Kiev Army had a plan to invade the Russian Donbass and genocide its people. Had they succeeded, it is doubtful they would have stopped at the Russian border. Truss, the supremely stupid British Foreign Secretary, let slip that NATO already had Russian Rostov and Voronezh in its sights.

After eight years of attempts to negotiate, which Russia used to buy time to prepare for the War in case of Western idiocy, it was only because there was no alternative that it sent in some troops in an initially limited military operation.

A Fight for Survival

This is now a war of attrition. Russia has to destroy all Western/NATO arms and troops that get into the Ukraine from Poland or elsewhere as soon as possible, quicker than they can be sent. And this must go on until the West caves in, because so much Western war material will have been destroyed at huge financial loss to itself.

Russia is also relying on the self-imposed economic problems that the West faces. The West, and not just the EU, is already suffering economically. There could easily be popular uprisings as a result of inflation and the incredible cost of energy. This will hit very hard next autumn and winter. And the embargos on Russian grain and fertilisers have not hit yet. Wait till food costs go up by 100% in Western countries, instead of just going up by 10% as now: then you will have rioting in the streets and looting of supermarkets. As for the Ukrainian currency, it is worthless, propped up by the IMF run by the US, which in 2014 stole the $15 billion of Ukrainian gold reserves in expectation. Otherwise, the Ukraine would long ago have defaulted.

The stakes are huge for all. China stands behind Russia because Russia is like a shield for it. If Russia falls, then China is next and it knows that, which is why it supports Russia. The White Peril will next head towards China, making the British-imposed mass suicide of the so-called ‘Opium Wars’ look like a picnic. There will be no taking back of Taiwan in the near future, instead there will be Harvard economists and merchant bankers taking power and grasping billions in Beijing, as in Russia after 1991. And then, amid civil wars, millions and millions of Chinese will take the path of suicide, exactly as happened in 1990s Russia. Make no mistake, this is a battle for survival of the world’s seven billion against the one billion.

This is why today Russia remains firm, with 80% of the population behind President Putin, unlike in the Western world where it is rare to find a leader who has more than 30% of support. Why? It is simple: President Putin loves his country, he is a patriot: Western leaders are not patriots, they are venal mercenaries, no more so than the US puppet governments in Eastern Europe. The only Russians against President Putin are the traitors, recruited by the CIA, and there are still quite a few in Moscow and elsewhere, but we will not here name names.

True, many of the fifth column of traitors in Moscow have already left or are leaving, Tel Aviv being a popular destination for them. For Russia this is not some localised conflict on its borders, as it still appears to most Western people, lulled into delusions by their Goebbels propaganda ministries (‘media’). For Russia this is just as much a fight for survival as World War Two. This is the Third Great Patriotic War. Let me explain.

For those who do not know, the 1812 invasion of Russia by Napoleon and his multinational barbarian hordes is known as the First Patriotic War. The 1941 invasion by Hitler and his multinational barbarian hordes is known as the Second Patriotic War. It is our view that just as the 1941-1945 defensive War was called the Second Patriotic War, the 2022- ? defensive War will be known as the Third Patriotic War. Warsaw and Bucharest, Berlin and Paris, pay attention.

When Did It All Begin?

When did it all begin? Actually, it was not on 24 February 2022. Some, grudgingly, will admit that it was the US-run regime change of 2014 with its $5 billion price-tag for the hapless US taxpayer. Grudgingly, some might admit that it goes back even further to November 1989, the Fall of the Wall. Some might suggest two generations before that, in September 1939, when Stalin took the poison-chalice of the western Ukraine, Galicia, from Poland and had to fight a CIA-supplied war there against Fascist partisans until 1958.

Some might suggest exactly 100 years ago in 1922, when the brain-syphilitic Lenin transferred from Russia the southern and eastern half of the present Ukraine to the Ukraine, as he wanted the pro-Communist industrial proletariat of the south and east to counterbalance the real Ukrainian agricultural north and west. But we could also go back to 1914, the invasion of the Russian Empire by Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey. This is exactly 100 years before the 2014 US-orchestrated colour-revolution in Kiev, with its Lithuanian snipers on the roof of the American Embassy in Kiev murdering Ukrainian policemen and then the US blaming ‘repression’ on the democratically-elected pro-Russian government.

Conclusion: A Fight to the End

Russia must win this War against NATO. However, the last thing Russia wants is a nuclear war, however much some fools in the West talk that up. And however tempting as targets the 1,000 or so US bases around the world may be, Russia certainly does not want the war to spread outside the current Ukrainian territory. If Russia does not win, the Russian Federation will be humiliated and dismantled and become just another group of colonies for Western asset-strippers and slavers. Then the British dream for its 1917 coup d’etat, turned into a nightmare because the stupid dream permitted Bolshevism to come to power, will become real.

After that, China will fall next and then the rest of the still free, if for the moment impoverished and exploited, world will fall just like dominos into neo-colonial Western hands. And that will be the end of the world under a US Global Dictatorship, euphemistically known as ‘the Unipolar World’. We are not ready for that. We prefer to fight. As President Putin has said, a world without Russia is not one we wish to live in. As we have said before, this is our ONLY chance to work towards a Union of Sovereign (NOT Soviet) Social (NOT Socialist) Republics and an Alliance of countries which favour Prosperity and Justice, not Poverty and Injustice.

Russian Orthodox St George’s Day 2022

Hegemon USA’s History of War Crimes

April 7, 2022

Russia’s Sputnik News reported examples of US war crimes post-WW II.

My own examples follow below. First Sputnik’s:

The July 1950 No Gun Ri massacre occurred one month after Truman’s war of aggression on nonbelligerent, nonthreatening North Korea.

Covered up for nearly half a century, what happened took the lives of around 300 men, women and children.

From December 1968 – May 1969, US forces indiscriminately massacred thousands of North Vietnamese civilians in so-called “free-fire zones” during Operation Speedy Express — to cause maximum numbers of casualties.

In February 1991 near end of Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, civilians and fleeing combatants were massacred along the so-called Highway of Death.

In May 1999 near Korisa, Kosovo, US terror-bombing massacred civilian refugees — ones who unsuccessfully sought shelter out of harm’s way.

In the second battle of Fallujah in November 2004 — during the Second Persian Gulf War — US and UK forces terror-bombed Iraqis with banned weapons, including white phosphorous, incendiary bombs, and radiological weapons.

Thousands were massacred in cold blood, largely civilians.

In October 2015, US forces terror-bombed a Kunduz, Afghanistan hospital on the phony pretext of targeting Taliban fighters.

Dozens were killed, dozens more injured.

During the siege of Mosul, Iraq in 2017, an estimated 40,000 Iraqi civilians were massacred on the phony pretext of combating US created and supported ISIS jihadists. 

Similar mass slaughter occurred in the same year against Raqqa, Syria civilians.

US genocides began by mass-exterminating countless millions of Native America to expand the nation from sea-to-shinning sea — by stealing their land, livelihoods and lives.

In his book titled, “A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present,” Ward Churchill explained that the nation’s indigenous population was reduced to at most 3% of its original numbers before it all began — by butchery and other forms of brutality.

During the infamous Middle Passage transatlantic slave trade — the African holocaust — millions perished en route in extreme discomfort.

Around 100 million human beings arriving in America were sold like cattle.

Describing the centuries-long horror, historian Howard Zinn said the following:

US slavery was “the most cruel form in history.”

It reflected a “frenzy for limitless profit that comes from capitalistic agriculture; the reduction of the slave to less than human status by the use of racial hatred, with that relentless clarity based on color, where white was master, black was slave.”

Post-WW II US genocides occurred against North Koreans, Southeast Asians, Central and Latin Americans, Africans, other Asians, Yugoslavs, Afghans, Yemenis, Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians and others.

With no end of it in prospect, unparalleled genocide has been ongoing by kill shots throughout the West and elsewhere since December 2020 — the human toll unknown because of coverup and denial.

If continues longterm, billions may perish out of sight and mind — unwanted people that US/Western dark forces want exterminated to more greatly empower and enrich the privileged few at their expense.

During America’s dirty 1898 – 1902 Spanish-American War against Spain to cede control of the Philippines, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos were brutally slaughtered.

US cutthroat killer general Jacob Smith ordered his troops to:

“Kill and burn.”

“This is no time to take prisoners.”

“The more you kill and burn, the better.” 

“Kill all above the age of ten.”

Then “turn (the country into) a howling wilderness.”

Few people anywhere suffered longer, more horrifically with anguish than Haitians for over 500 years and still counting.

They endured genocidal oppression, slavery, despotism, colonization, reparations, embargoes, sanctions, deep poverty, starvation, untreated diseases, unrepayable debt, and natural calamities unprotected.

Along with strategic bombing to destroy an adversary’s economic and military might, US terror bombings targeted civilians to break their morale, cause panic, weaken an invented enemy’s will to fight, along with inflicting mass casualties and punishment.

Geneva and other international laws prohibit it. 

The Laws of War: Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907 Hague IV Convention’s Article 25 states:

“The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or building which are undefended is prohibited.”

Fourth Geneva protects civilians in time of war.

It prohibits violence of any kind against them and requires treatment for the sick and wounded. 

The 1945 Nuremberg Principles forbid “crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.” 

These include “inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war,” including indiscriminate killing and “wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.”

In virtually all US wars of aggression against invented enemies, the above and similar war crimes occur with disturbing regularity.

During the firebombing of Dresden, Germany in February 1945 — when what Russia calls its Great Patriotic War was virtually won — the US and UK gratuitously incinerated around 100,000 city residents.

The morally indefensible high crime was repeated against Tokyo the same month in similar fashion after virtual surrender by imperial Japan was rejected by Franklin Roosevelt. surrendered and accepted defeat.

In August 1945, Harry Truman gratuitously destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki by nuclear immolation.

When WW II was virtually over, hundreds of thousands were killed.

To this day, future generations were scarred with birth defects and other serious health issues. 

During the post-WW II period, countless millions more were massacred during US imperial wars — accountability for the highest of high crimes never forthcoming.

Genocidal wars were waged against nonbelligerent North Korea, North Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and worldwide against unwanted people.

US use of chemical, biological, radiological and other banned weapons is well-documented throughout US history.

From smallpox infected blankets against Native Americans to chlorine gas during the US Civil War to today’s chemical, biological, radiological and other banned weapons, anything goes has been official US policy throughout its history.

Deadly dioxin-containing Agent Orange and nerve gas were used by US forces in Southeast Asia.

So were other terror weapons in all US wars of aggression.

It’s not a pretty picture. 

The self-styled indispensable state’s history is pockmarked with virtually every type crime imaginable at home and worldwide.

They’ve gone on by endless wars of choice against Native Americans to the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli to the present day at home and abroad worldwide — with no end of them in prospect.

Sitrep UNGA: Russia suspended from 47 member Human Rights Council in Geneva

April 07, 2022

The US-proposed resolution received 93 votes, with 24 countries opposed and 58 abstaining.

The only other country ever to be expelled from the UN Human Rights Council was Libya, in 2011, as NATO bombed the North African country to help militants overthrow the government of Muammar Gaddafi.

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

April 6, 2022

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

By Ramzy BAROUD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

commondreams.org

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

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InterventionismIraqNATOUkraineWar

Testing the waters: Could Turkey’s Russian relations sink over Ukraine?

Neither friend nor foe, Turkey and Russia have backed opposing sides in several regional conflicts, yet managed to avoid direct confrontation. Now the Ukraine crisis poses a serious challenge.

March 22 2022

Caught between NATO and Russia over Ukraine, Turkey is forced to walk a thin line to avoid confrontation with either side.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Yeghia Tashjian

The war in Ukraine has become the latest test for Turkey’s regional ambitions in confronting those of Russia, in what has clearly become a “cooperative rivalry.” This is where both sides, despite their opposite views on various regional conflicts ranging from Libya to Syria to the South Caucasus, have worked to manage these conflicts without directly challenging one another.

The current crisis has raised Turkey’s concerns of being in the firing line of Russia’s hegemonic ambitions. It is important to note that Turkey and Russia are not allies, but bitter ‘frenemies.’ Despite having robust commercial, energy, diplomatic and military ties, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned back in 2016 that NATO has to act and increase its presence in the Black Sea.

Over the past two decades, Russia has consolidated its presence in the Black Sea region by directly controlling Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008, and annexing Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. The Black Sea Fleet is responsible for bringing supplies to Russian forces in Syria, mostly based in the port of Tartus and Khmeimim airbase, as well as for patrolling the eastern Mediterranean. Russia’s 2015 Maritime Doctrine clearly prioritizes the Black Sea as a pillar of its power projection.

Turkey’s waning power in the Black Sea

Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea tipped the balance of military power in the Black Sea in favor of Moscow. Not only has Russia significantly increased its Exclusive Economic Zone and its Black Sea coastline, it has also cancelled existing agreements with Ukraine, which limited the latter’s Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol.

Additionally, Russia has stationed new military ships and submarines and installed a dense network of advanced weapons systems across the Crimean peninsula. From Ankara’s perspective, Turkey feels surrounded by Russian military presence from the north (Crimea), east (Armenia), and south (Syria).

In response, Erdogan initiated the construction of the Istanbul Canal to put additional pressure on Russia using the 1936 Montreux Convention whereby Turkey can close the Black Sea Straits to all warships in times of war.

Indeed, following NATO’s intensified pressure, Ankara has started exercising its right under Article 19 of the Convention, and has warned all coastal and non-coastal states that it will not allow warships through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. The convention also limits the period of stay for warships belonging to non-Black Sea states in the Black Sea.

However, this action also exposed Turkey’s limitations by raising the questions: How will Turkey react if Russian naval warships seek passage through the Straits? Will Turkey prevent them? The answer is clear.

As a Black Sea state, Russia has the privileged right to transit the Turkish Straits to return its warships to their bases. The treaty states that during armed conflict, belligerent warships “shall not” pass through the Straits unless the ships belong to a state that borders the Black Sea and are returning to their home ports.

Once Turkey determined that Russia was “at war,” it had no choice under the treaty but to stop Russian warships from passing through the Straits. The only exception for passage is for Russian warships from other areas returning to their bases in the Black Sea.

For example, a Russian fleet registered in the Black Sea but currently located in the Mediterranean Sea is allowed to pass through the Turkish Straits and return to its base. The condition also applies to Russian fleets currently in the Black Sea that belong to a base in the Mediterranean or Baltic Sea. Russia is free to take them out of the Black Sea. This option provides Russia with enough space to maneuver its naval power and downplay Article 19 of the Montreux Convention.

Turkey is aware that blocking access of Russian warships through its Straits will be viewed in Moscow as a “declaration of war.” This is the last thing Erdogan wants, knowing full well that the economic and political consequences will be harsher than those Turkey tasted after it downed the Russian jet over Syria in 2015.

Turkey’s balancing act between Russia and Ukraine

While Turkey will not directly provoke Russia, it has increased its military cooperation with Ukraine. This includes the supply of Bayraktar TB2 drones to the Kiev government. The Russians, for their part, have shown their preparedness for Turkish drones. Despite the fact that the Bayraktar TB2 drones are still operating and useful to the Ukrainian side, the Russian Ministry of Defense almost daily announces that its forces are downing many drones, including TB2.

This military relationship has also involved Ukraine supplying Turkey with military engines intended to boost Turkey’s growing arms industry; in particular, the Bayraktar’s successor drone and T292 heavy attack helicopters that are currently under production.

For Russia, this poses a threat, as in the future it may shift the military balance of power towards Turkey and Ukraine in the Black Sea. It is for this reason that Russian forces destroyed most of the Ukrainian heavy military infrastructure (including its naval and air force) and arms industry.

As such, Erdogan will aim to continue cooperation with Russia in the region; but he is equally likely to step up engagement with NATO to improve his global standing and reduce international criticism of his domestic conduct. Erdogan knows that standing against Russia and directly confronting Moscow is very risky as – excluding the ongoing war in Ukraine – he would start a war on three fronts in the region: in Libya, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh.

In order to extract itself from the ongoing difficulty of placating both sides, in recent days Turkey has engaged in proactive diplomacy and mediation between Kiev and Moscow. Ankara announced that the two adversaries have made progress on their negotiations to halt the war and are “close to an agreement.” However, Ukraine’s president responded by saying that any consequential agreement with Russia would be put to a referendum. This signaled that there is no agreement in sight and Ankara’s mediating efforts are fruitless.

Turkey will not gamble with Ukraine against Russia

Dr Maxim Suchkov, a Moscow-based expert in the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) expresses concern that Turkey may view the crisis as an opportunity to re-establish itself in the Black Sea and strengthen its relations with the west. Ankara enjoys good ties with both Moscow and Kiev and seeks to balance itself, supplying arms to Ukraine, on the one hand, but also refraining from sanctioning Russia.

Suchkov argues that Turkey may indeed be useful to the Russian endgame here, but “Moscow should also be careful since President Erdogan is known for his penchant to fish in muddy waters.” Hence, even if the outcome of the conflict does not favor Erdogan’s interests, Turkey may try to wrest something out of this crisis.

For this reason, President Erdogan cannot antagonize Russia and risk full-scale war as, domestically, the implications of this battle will be heavy on the Turkish government. Already, on 22 February, six Turkish opposition parties, not including the Kurdish HDP, called on a unified platform for the revival of the parliamentary system in the country with the aim of establishing an alliance to topple Erdogan in the coming parliamentary and presidential elections in June 2023.

According to recent public surveys, the opposition coalition is polling ahead, and indeed may oust Erdogan, given the financial chaos Turkey is experiencing. The current crisis will worsen the economic and political situation of Turkey.

One sector that is especially vulnerable is tourism, as between four to seven million Russian tourists and around two million Ukrainian tourists visit Turkey each year. Moreover, western sanctions on Russia will make money transactions difficult between both countries.

Crucially, Turkey imports almost 50 percent of its gas from Russia, and with the increase in global gas prices, Turks find themselves in a difficult quandary. For these reasons, Ankara is unlikely to undertake any risky gambles and will continue to strike a balanced posture in the crisis.

Turkey still has an important role to play

Turkey has general elections scheduled for June 2023, hence any change in the leadership in Turkey would affect the current track of Russian-Turkish relations. In a post-Erdogan Turkey, Ankara is likely to move closer to the western camp due to the pro-western (pro-US) leanings of the Turkish military, entrepreneurs, technocrats, diplomats, and civil servants – regardless of their liberal or nationalistic personal views.

This could form a long-term challenge for Russia-Turkey relations, given the successful “cooperative rivalry” both sides managed to arrange in Libya, Syria, and Nagorno-Karabakh. It is worth mentioning that on 2 March, Meral Akşener, leader of the Turkish opposition İYİ Party, raised the alarm on whether there were any guarantees that Turkey’s eastern provinces would be safe from a similar kind of Russian aggression. She also called Russia a “security threat” for Turkey. This is another indication that the Turkish opposition is not on the same wavelength as Erdogan’s multi-vector foreign policy.

Moscow has never viewed Ankara as an equal partner, but as a junior partner that could help configure a regional order which benefits Russian interests and decreases western influence. However, if Russia becomes stuck in a Ukrainian quagmire, it may need Ankara to arrange a temporary settlement.

Will the Syrian and Nagorno-Karabakh scenario be repeated – in which both sides sidelined western influence and Russia accepted a Turkish role in the region? If Ukraine is divided into two zones, would Russia accept a Turkish ‘peacekeeping force’ in the western part of Ukraine? Would the Americans give Turkey the green light to enter such a game? What would Ankara gain in return? Is such a military adventure within Turkey’s capabilities?

According to Dr Mitat Çelikpala, Professor of International Relations and the Dean of Faculty of Economics, Administrative and Social Sciences at Kadir Has University, such a scenario is beyond Turkey’s financial and military capacities – and Turkey cannot act unilaterally. Hence, for now, Turkey must continue its role of mediation between both sides to avoid any spillover effect near its borders.

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

Beyond the EastMed pipe dream: Can Turkey become Europe’s gas hub?

The Ukraine crisis presents a unique opportunity for Turkey to realize its long-term vision of transforming itself into a global gas transit hub. But will the US, Russia, Iran, and the EU allow it?

March 10 2022

By Daoud Baalbaki

As the Russia-Ukraine crisis intensifies and western sanctions pile up against Moscow, Europe is once more grappling with its foreign gas dependency – 50 percent of which has traditionally been supplied by the Russian Federation.

Will the Ukraine conflict position Turkey as the world’s gas transit hub, or will Ankara have to choose sides and settle for less?Photo Credit: The Cradle

While sanctions on Russian energy supplies have been considered, the potential inflationary backlash and mass shortages Europeans could face make this a dangerous gambit.

The endgame in Ukraine will likely see some seismic shifts in global energy and financial networks. One of these will take place in the Eastern Mediterranean, where in recent years, competing states have jockeyed for primacy in constructing gas pipelines to Europe.

At the moment, in the East Med contest, all eyes are on energy-poor Turkey, which has for decades tried and failed to establish itself as the energy hub connecting Asia to Europe. Recent developments, however, suggest that this situation could very well change.

Russia and Turkey

Eurasian energy giants like Russia and Iran – facing their own geopolitical standoffs with NATO, of which Turkey is a member – have their own preferential oil and gas routes mapped out, and are unlikely to place all their bets on a Turkish hub. That also appears to be the position of Ankara’s western allies, at least under the leadership of Turkey’s longtime President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Until Ukraine reared its head, the Eastern Mediterranean gas issue was the one around which alliances and policies in West Asia were rapidly shifting. In the last months, remarkable developments have taken place around Turkey’s role in this critical theater, opening the way for Ankara to assume a leadership role.

Despite the Russian-Turkish geopolitical competition across multiple regions, the two Eurasian nations have managed to cooperate across a range of areas, and significantly so in the energy sector.

For instance, despite mounting tensions between the two states along the Turkish-Syrian border and their support of opposing sides in the Syria conflict, Moscow and Ankara were able to find common ground in replacing the SouthStream pipeline with TurkStream in 2020 (which passes through Turkey before entering Bulgaria). In doing so, Russia assisted Turkey in achieving its longstanding ambition to be a transit point for gas pipelines entering Europe.

EastMed Gas Forum

At the same time, Turkey was feeling isolated from its US ally in the region, who excluded it from joining the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, or the EastMed Gas Forum (EMGF), and planned to deliver gas directly to Europe, bypassing Turkey altogether.

The EMGF, is an international organization formed by Israel, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Italy,  Jordan, and Palestine and is headquartered in Cairo. Established as an international body on 16 January 2020, the forum is the region’s first declared alliance in the gas sector. It is also the first case of Israel being invited to join Arab countries organizationally, with the participation of EU member states.

The alliance also received backing by the US, which along with France, joined the Forum as a member and permanent observer respectively. In December 2020, the UAE was granted observer status at the EMGF, although its membership was vetoed by Palestine last year.

With an estimated cost of $7 billion, and scheduled to be completed by 2025, the Eastern Mediterranean Pipeline Project is expected to run for some 1,900km, starting from Israel’s Levantine Basin, transiting through Cyprus to Europe, and projected to transport at least 11 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

However, the project has been hampered, if not altogether derailed, by the withdrawal of US support earlier this year due to reservations about the project’s financial feasibility.

The US instead voiced its support for the planned EuroAfrica interconnector from Egypt to Crete and the Greek mainland, and the EuroAsia interconnector, linking Israeli, Cypriot and European electricity grids.

Turkey’s opposition to the EastMed pipeline

Washington’s withdrawal was welcomed by Turkey which had perceived the alliance as a means to bypass Turkish interests in the eastern Mediterranean and isolate the country in the vital gas sector.

At the time, Ankara had reacted strongly against what its foreign ministry termed the “axis of malice,” and claimed that the maritime demarcation agreements signed by the Republic of Cyprus (ROC) with other countries were invalid. Turkey claims that Cypriot maritime activities to the west of the island may overlap with Turkey’s continental shelf. Since Turkey does not recognize the ROC, these agreements, it contends, do not represent the Turkish Cypriot population of the island.

After the collision between a Turkish and Greek warship in the disputed zone in August 2020, Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hami Aksoy said in a statement that, no matter what, Turkey will “resolutely continue to protect both her and Turkish Cypriots’ rights in the Eastern Mediterranean stemming from international law,” adding that “no alliance of malice will manage to prevent this.”

In response to the planned pipeline – which gained official status following an intergovernmental agreement signed between Israel, Greece and the ROC – Ankara hurried to sign its own deal with Libya’s then-interim Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli. Turkey and its Qatari ally supported the GNA while the UAE, Saudi Arabia, France, and Russia backed the Tobruk-based rival forces led by Khalifa Haftar.

This agreement demarcated its own version of the continental shelf zone boundaries between the two countries within the Eastern Mediterranean. Erdogan used the Ankara-Tripoli deal to draw a hard red line for his competition: “Other international actors cannot conduct exploration activities in the areas marked in the [Turkish-Libyan] memorandum. Greek Cypriots, Egypt, Greece, and Israel cannot establish a natural gas transmission line without Turkey’s consent.”

Although the Libya-Turkey maritime deal may have served its purpose in disrupting the EastMed pipeline project, it may already be in jeopardy following recent internal political developments in Libya, where the Tobruk-based House of Representatives has sworn in new Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha, replacing incumbent and embattled Turkish-ally Abdul Hamdi Dbeibeh who has refused to hand over power, except to a government elected by the people.

Turkey as a European gas hub

Natural gas is key to shaping Turkey’s role as a decisive regional power as it sits on the crossroads between natural gas suppliers in Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and West Asia on one hand, and the European Union, as a huge natural gas consumer, on the other. This strategic location has motivated Turkey’s ambition to become a natural gas hub, or at least the main transit country, and to promote its position on the geopolitical map.

Until the end of the last decade, Turkey did not export large enough gas quantities to fulfill its ambition of becoming a natural gas transit country. In 2007, Turkey began exporting natural gas to Greece through the Turkey-Greece Natural Gas Interconnector via Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field. While the exported quantities have remained only between 1 percent and 2 percent of the imported gas, this figure is expected to change by the beginning of the new decade.

Established in 2018, Azerbaijan’s Shah Denis 2 gas field added 16 bcm (billion cubic meters) of natural gas yearly, with 6 bcm earmarked for Turkey via a direct pipeline, and 10 bcm destined for European consumers via the Trans Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP) that runs through Turkish territory, connecting with the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

TAP started delivering Azerbaijani natural gas to European markets on December 31, 2020, and in September 2021 the company announced a transport milestone of 5 bcm.

The TurkStream pipeline

Another step for Turkey on the road to becoming a transit country was in January 2020, when Turkey announced the launch of the TurkStream project with Russia. As previously mentioned, TurkStream replaced the SouthStream project, which was originally intended to supply Russian gas to southern Europe via underwater Black Sea pipelines.

Following a military clash between Russia and Turkey on the Syrian border, the two sides agreed in 2016 to build the TurkStream pipeline, and interestingly, signed the agreement just one month before the Syrian government launched its successful campaign to liberate the city of Aleppo. The TurkStream project will consist of two parallel pipelines with a total capacity of 31.5 bcm per year (15.75 bcm each).

One of the pipelines is intended to fulfill Turkey’s domestic gas demand and also, incidentally, to replace the Trans-Balkan pipeline which runs from Ukraine to Turkey. This way, Russian gas would bypass Ukraine, which may prove critical in light of the current conflict there.

The other pipeline is intended to feed southeastern and central European markets via Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary. Russia’s majority state-owned Gazprom began gas deliveries to some markets via TurkStream in January 2020, using partially completed and existing infrastructure.

The second phase of the project TurkStream 2 (the European part) comprises new and existing infrastructure. Pipeline construction in Bulgaria and Serbia, totaling about 550 miles in length, is largely complete, while several compressor stations and a segment connecting TurkStream to Hungarian infrastructure have not yet been completed.

However, this part of the project is now under threat of US sanctions because it would deepen Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas, and reduce Ukraine’s role as a transit state.

Will Turkey join the ‘Axis of Malice’?

Turkey’s goal now is to prevent the direct passage of large gas quantities to Europe through the Mediterranean corridor which can weaken Ankara’s position as the southern hub for European gas.

In 2013, Turkey began talks with Israel to build a pipeline from Israeli fields to Turkey, only to then watch Israel prioritize the EastMed pipeline and its alliance with Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece in the EMGC.

Following the US withdrawal from the project, Erdogan actively re-emphasized that Turkey is the only viable route for Israeli gas sales to Europe: “This cannot happen without Turkey.”

Well in advance of Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s visit to Ankara this week, Erdogan openly stated that Turkey “could use Israeli natural gas in our country, and beyond that, we could also work together to carry it to Europe,” according to Daily Sabah.

Amid the thawing of ties between Israel and Turkey, and with Herzog’s historic visit to Ankara this week, Turkey’s role as a transit point for Israeli gas has become a focal point of interest. Yesterday, Israeli sources confirmed that Erdogan did in fact propose a Israel-Turkey-Europe project during their meeting.

This development is taking place in parallel with several diplomatic shifts elsewhere in West Asia that could even trigger regional realignments. Ankara launched talks with Cairo in May, while renewed dialogue with the United Arab Emirates culminated in a reconciliation visit by Abu Dhabi’s crown prince in November. Erdogan is also expected to visit Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks.

These changes are, in part, a result of President Biden’s policy shifts in the region. Washington is trying to end rifts between its allies in order to obstruct Turkish-Russian rapprochement by sacrificing the EastMed pipeline, so to speak.

It now remains to be seen whether Ankara will join the so-called “malice alliance,” and dump its Russian TurkStream 2 project under US pressure. Equally possible is that Erdogan will seek to avoid that hard choice, try to juggle both sides, and shoot for a pre-election miracle by recasting Turkey as a global gas hub.

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

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Today, the dangers of military escalation are beyond description.

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Scott Ritter, a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer, discusses the military invasion of Russia in Ukraine with Richard Medhurst.

According to Ritter, this is a massive Russian operation that aims to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine which means two things. One, Ukrainian military will cease to exist. And two, Ukrainian government will be gone because President Putin says it is a Nazi government.

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Media Is Spotting Suspicious Libyan-‘Israeli’ Activity  

Jan 16 2033

By Staff

It seems that Libya is cooking something related to normalization with the ‘Israeli’ occupation entity.

Most recently, correspondent of ‘Israeli’ media outlets endorsed a new narrative which detailed that the executive plane [P4-RMA] used by Libyan General Khalifa Hefter landed in the ‘Israeli’-occupied territories on Thursday after a “diplomatic stop” in Cyprus.

“After two hours on the ground the plane took off back to Cyprus,” Military Correspondent of ‘Israeli’ Channel 11 Itay Blumental, wrote in a tweet that was also retweeted by the Arab Affairs Correspondent of ‘Israeli’ Kan broadcaster, Roi Kais.

Earlier, Saudi and Libyan media outlets reports released on Wednesday night suggested that Jordan hosted ‘Israeli’ Mossad spy agency Director David Barnea and Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Mohammed Al-Dabaiba, as they discussed normalization and security cooperation.

The reports also noted that Al-Dabaiba’s office denied that the meeting occurred.

Back in November, ‘Israeli’ Haaretz newspaper reported that Saddam Haftar, son of Libyan warlord Gen. Khalifa Haftar, flew to Ben Gurion Airport for meetings with ‘Israeli’ officials regarding potential normalization with the occupation regime.

It was unclear who Haftar met with.

On one hand, the Tevel department of the Mossad has reportedly had contacts with various Libyan officials over the years.

On the other hand, former ‘Israeli’ ‘Security Council’ Chief Meir Ben Shabbat and his messenger, known only as “Maoz,” also reportedly had such contacts, and their handling of the file has been passed on to former Shin Bet official Nimrod Gez.

Gez had strong ties to Ben Shabbat and had supported him as a potential future Shin Bet chief before former Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost power and that scenario disappeared.

It is unclear whether any of the above Libyan officials could substantively carry out normalization with the Tel Aviv occupation regime given the ongoing chaos the African country has been in for years.

Last month, the country’s long-awaited elections were postponed and it is unclear if the various on-again and off-again warring groups will be capable of carrying out the elections, let alone altering decades of officially hostile relations with the occupying regime.

Crimes without Punishment – Ever

November 25, 2021

A protest against US military aid to Israel. (Photo: File)
– Jeremy Salt taught at the University of Melbourne, at Bosporus University in Istanbul and Bilkent University in Ankara for many years, specializing in the modern history of the Middle East. Among his recent publications is his 2008 book, The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands (University of California Press). He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. 

What a chamber of horrors the third millennium has been so far in the Middle East, without even a quarter of it having passed.  Iraq, Syria and Yemen on a scale unimaginable even at the high point of imperialism in the 19th century. An estimated 300 children under five dying every day in Yemen from malnutrition, Palestinians shot dead in their occupied country every day, Lebanon and Syria slowly strangled by US sanctions, Iran threatened with military destruction and the revelation of yet another massacre by the US, in Syria, where “about” 70 women and children were killed at Baghuz by bombs dropped one after the other to make sure that no-one escaped.

There is no suggestion that anyone should be punished for yet another ‘mistake.’  This is where thousands of years of drawing up covenants to make the world a safer place have ended up:  back where we started,  the law of the jungle.

This is what the guardians of ‘western civilization’ have given to the world just in the past three decades:

Two wars on Iraq, the ‘cradle of civilization’ shattered by the cradle of a violent hamburger junk culture, millions killed or displaced. Libya, the most developed country in Africa, pulled up by its roots, uncounted thousands killed, the leader of its 1969 revolution slaughtered as Hillary Clinton cackled with glee like one of the witches around the cauldron in  Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’. Syria torn to pieces, ancient cities and markets destroyed, and half a million killed. In Yemen, more than 230,000 dead, with 43 percent of prematurely born babies dying because of the lack of medical equipment and a genocidal famine – 75 percent of children are suffering from acute malnutrition –  continuing even as fresh supplies of weaponry are dropped off in the Saudi kingdom by the US and Britain. Iran,  Syria and Lebanon targeted with economic sanctions: in occupied Palestine, in Syria and in Iran the Zionist state continues its murderous march through history.

Not one of the global criminals responsible for these massive crimes against humanity has been punished.  They play golf or roam the world picking up millions for their speaking engagements and their ‘philanthropic’ foundations. Not one word of contrition or remorse has been spoken by any of them for the lives they have ended or ruined. Not even the death of children has forced admission of guilt out of them.  Others have been punished for lesser crimes but not this gang. They are completely remorseless.

Imagine the reaction if these crimes were committed in Europe and white people were being slaughtered or driven out of their homes, out of their countries and drowning in their thousands as they tried to escape across the seas.

Well, between 1939-45 it did happen and those responsible were hanged at Nuremberg. We have no Nuremberg now but we do have an International Criminal Court (ICC) which does punish the architects of war crimes and crimes against humanity – as long as their skin is the right color. With the exception of pale-skinned Balkan Serbs charged after the breakup of Yugoslavia, all those hauled before the ICC have been brown or black.

The tsunami of death and destruction which began rolling across the region when Napoleon landed in Egypt in 1798 shows no sign of receding.  Almost no country from the Atlantic coast of West Africa down to the Arab Gulf has avoided being swamped by it and many have been swamped several times.

The prime beneficiary of all of the above in the past century has been the settler state implanted in Palestine after 1918. Israel is the heart and soul of US foreign policy. Indeed, US foreign policy is no more than the Stars and Stripes draped over the interests of the Zionist state.

Take Iran as an example. After the death of Ayatullah Khumayni, Presidents Rafsanjani and Khatami sought to repair relations with the US. They offered investment concessions, diplomatic rapprochement and a political pathway into a region of critical interest, central Asia. Iranian society is conservative and God-fearing, rather like the US itself, but as long as Rafsanjani and Khatami refused to drop Iran’s righteous defense of the Palestinians, nothing else counted. Even in the ‘moderate’ Khatami’s time, economic sanctions were tightened, paving the way for the election of the ‘hardliner,’ Mahmud Ahmedinejad.

The attempted strangulation of Iran and Syria through war, assassination and sanctions necessarily involves Lebanon, Hezbollah’s home base.  Since the 1980s Hezbollah has successfully fought off all attempts by Israel – backed to the hilt by the US of course –  to destroy it.  Far from being weakened, Hezbollah has gone from strength to strength, militarily and as a Lebanese political party. The lesson learned by the US and Israel is just that they have to try harder,  to tear Lebanon apart if that is what it takes to destroy Hezbollah.

The latest provocation through Israel’s agents took place in Beirut on October 14, in the predominantly Shia neighborhood of Chiyah, bordering predominantly Maronite Christian Ain Rummaneh, where the ‘bus massacre’ of 27 Palestinians on April 13, 1975, was the trigger pulled to start the civil war.

This time snipers positioned on rooftops shot at Amal and Hezbollah supporters as they moved towards the Palace of Justice in Al Tayouneh to hold a vigil calling for the removal of Tariq al Bitar as the judge appointed to investigate the Beirut port explosion on August 5, 2020, on the grounds that he is running a heavily politicized inquiry heading towards a preordained conclusion, that this was a crime committed by Hezbollah.

Holding Hezbollah or Syria responsible for the crimes they have not committed was first tried after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005. Initially, four ‘pro-Syrian’ generals were imprisoned for four years before an international tribunal took over the prosecution and released them for lack of evidence. It immediately pointed the finger at Hezbollah, eventually finding one person, Salim Ayyash, guilty of “involvement” on the sole basis of tapped phone calls made through communications networks known to have been completely penetrated and manipulated by the Zionist state.

The tribunal cleared Hezbollah’s leadership. What this actually means is that if the leadership did not order the assassination, no senior figure in the movement would have carried it out.   Nasrallah and Hariri had differences but a good working relationship and it is virtually unthinkable that Nasrallah would ever have sanctioned such a heinous act.

The only beneficiaries of this monstrous act were the US, Israel and their agents in Lebanon.  Syria was embarrassed internationally and had to withdraw its remaining forces from the Bika’a valley. Lebanon was thrown into the chaos that gave birth to the rise of the anti-Syrian/pro-Saudi, US and Israel March 14 alliance.

Hezbollah produced intercepted reconnaissance footage showing that Israel had been tracking Hariri with drones wherever he went for years and was flying an AWACS plane and another reconnaissance aircraft over Beirut at the precise time of the assassination.  One of its agents had been located at the scene of the killing only the day before.   None of this circumstantial evidence was ever followed up by the tribunal.    Israel and the US have shed buckets of blood in Lebanon over many decades, have between them committed the most atrocious crimes, but the tribunal never even considered them as suspects.

The snipers waiting on the top of apartment buildings in Tayouneh on October 14 killed seven people, one a woman shot dead in her own home. Not just on rooftops, however, but on the ground, the demonstrators were surrounded by militiamen waiting to ambush them with guns, knives and even rocks.   Despite denials by Samir Geagea (Ja’ja), the head of the fascist/sectarian Maronite Christian Lebanese Forces (LF), the armed men were clearly LF and acting on his orders.   Of the 19 arrested, several quickly implicated him.

Geagea is one of the most murderous individuals in Lebanese history, which says a lot given the bloody track record of many others. During the civil war (1976-1989) he killed rivals within his own Maronite Christian ranks as well as Palestinians and other enemies outside them.  In 1994 he was sentenced to four life sentences for the assassinations of former Prime Minister Rashid Karameh (1987), National Liberal Party leader Dany Chamoun (1990), Falangist (Kata’ib) head Elias al Zayek (1990) and the attempted assassination of Defence Minister Michel Murr (1991).  In 1978 he and Elie Hobeika, at the behest of Bashir Gemayel, then head of the Falangists, led 1200 men in an attack on the north Lebanon family home of Tony Frangieh, leader of the Maronite Marada (Giants) faction.  Geagea was wounded and had to be taken away before Frangieh, his wife and three-year-old daughter were killed.

In the 1990 attack, Dany Chamoun’s wife and two of his sons were also killed.   If there is any poetic justice in any of this shedding of blood – including entirely innocent blood – it lies in the 1982 assassination of Bashir Gemayel and the car bombing murder in 2002 of Elie Hobeika, Israel’s leading henchman in the Sabra and Shatila massacres of 1982.

Geagea himself served eleven years of four life sentences before being released under amnesty after the assassination of Hariri and allowed to take up the leadership of the LF. His brutality is a powerful weapon in the hands of Israel and the US, whose ambassador, Dorothy Shea, has been open in her interference in Lebanese politics.

US economic sanctions against Lebanon have one primary target, Hezbollah; one secondary target, Syria; and one-third target, Iran. How many Christians die defending ‘Christian Lebanon’ is not an issue for the US and Israel any more than the number of Muslims who die fighting them.  All they want is the chaos that will further their ambitions.  They tore Lebanon apart before and they will do it again, mercilessly, ruthlessly, callously, without a care for the innocent blood of thousands that will be shed.

Whatever cause Samir Geagea thinks he is serving, the piecemeal destruction of Lebanon, indeed of the entire Middle East, is primarily about the protection of Israel.  However, Israel is not as safe as it used to be or it might think it still is. It is confronted by enemies who have not backed off one meter from the struggle to liberate Palestine.  Israel has tried hard to destroy them. Up to now, it has failed, so it is getting ready to try again. While planning/contingency planning is a constant, Israel now appears to be actively preparing for a massive military strike that would target  Iran’s nuclear plants and missile capacity.

In September the Zionist chief of staff, Avi Kohavi, said plans for such a strike had been “greatly accelerated.” The military has been given an additional $1.5 billion to buy aircraft, drones and ‘bunker buster’ bombs that would probably include the USAF’s new 5000 lb. (2,267 kg.) GRU-72 Advanced 5k Penetrator, which would be aimed at Iran’s underground nuclear installations. Anticipating a simultaneous war with Hezbollah, Israel has also been carrying out extensive military exercises in northern occupied Palestine, coordinated with all emergency civil services to deal with an expected crisis on the domestic front once the missiles start falling. Israel is clearly planning for a big war, and can be expected to throw everything into this attempt to crush its principal enemies once and for all.

Unlike the white settlers in South Africa, the Zionist leadership sees no writing on the wall, no indications that history is not on their side even as it builds up against them.  No more than Netanyahu does Naftali Bennett have any intention of giving anything back to the Palestinians except the smallest fragments of municipal responsibility. Like Netanyahu, he sees no need to negotiate, no need to give anything away.  Why would he, when in the last resort Israel even has nuclear weapons to destroy its enemies? This is the question to which there can be no answer until the day comes when Israel faces the reality that even its conventional weapons are not sufficient to destroy its enemies.

All appearances to the contrary, unlimited US economic and military support has been a curse for Israel. It has created the illusion of power. Israel is like a plant with shallow roots. Only as long as the US keeps watering it, can the plant thrive. There is no permanent, unbreakable bond between states and all appearances to the contrary, there never will be between Israel and the US. Slowly, Americans are waking up and Israel’s incessant pleading is already beginning to fall on deaf ears, as the public becomes more aware of Israel’s criminality and as congressmen and women (mainly women) are emboldened to speak out. The time may come when the US can no longer afford Israel. The time may come when public opinion has changed to allow a US government to treat Israel as it treats other states.

US economic and military aid has had the same effect on Israel as steroids have on a bodybuilder. The 97-lb weakling is now the neighborhood bully swaggering down the street with pumped-up muscles. He smacks people around or they run in fright but Hezbollah and Iran are not running. They are standing firm and preparing to defend themselves. In any case, in the next war, Israel will take damage it has never experienced before, to the point where so many Jewish Israelis will just want to get out that Israel as a Zionist state is likely to crumble from within and die of its own contradictions.  Is this what it is going to take for peace to become possible?

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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