8 US Army Troops and 2 CIA Agents Killed, Others Injured in Syria



The Syrian Resistance supported by its allied forces bombed illegal US military bases in northern Syria inflicting direct casualties among the US Army oil thieves and ‘American contractors’ aka CIA agents, the bombing comes after the US Army, in its desire to change the rules of engagement, dared to believe it had the right of retaliation against a previous bombing that was a retaliation in itself for the Israel bombing of Aleppo International Airport a day earlier.

As its custom, the US war ministry aka the Pentagon, and its propagandists will always minimize their casualties, deny them completely if they can get away with it, and later on, report the casualties as results of accidents or during training, at the same time they will maximize the casualties among their foes, invent them if needed to boost the morale among their personnel and their families 6000 miles away from the battlefronts.

As the exchange of fire is settled, for now, first, we will start with multiple local sources confirming the killing of at least 8 US Army oil thieves and 2 ‘American contractors’ who I will refer to as CIA agents unless the US commander in chief personally can officially prove otherwise.

In our earlier report, the toll was 1 CIA agent killed, another wounded in addition to 5 US Army oil thieves wounded as well. This was the result of bombing the illegal US military air base in Kharab Al Jief in Hasakah province, northeast of Syria.

The sequence of events started when Israel bombed Aleppo International Airport for the second time this month in the early hours of dawn on Wednesday, March 22, 2023.

The rule of engagement set by the Syrian Resistance is whenever Israel bombs any site in Syria, the US Army will be bombed in retaliation. The US Army in addition to stealing Syrian oil and food, helps Israel bomb Syria, Israel’s very existence depends on the US taxpayers, the US military, and the US political protection.

In retaliation to the Israeli bombing of Aleppo International Airport, a war crime by all laws, the Syrian Resistance within the set rules of engagement (its own version of the rules-based national order) bombed the illegal US Army air base in Kharab al Jier in Hasakah province.

Because the US Army wanted to break this rule of engagement in its quest to escalate its war crimes in Syria further, and because they sustained casualties, the US Army in their illegal military base in the Al Tanf area fired missiles or drones against two warehouses in a southern suburb of the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, the warehouses used to distribute supplies for the needy Syrians suffering from the NATO member state Turkey cutting the water of the Euphrates, the shortage in fuel to farm their lands because of the US Army stealing their oil, and the shortage of wheat, Syria’s main food staple, because the US Army and its Kurdish SDF separatist terrorists steal the Syrian wheat and burn the wheat fields they cannot steal.

As a result of the bombing of the two warehouses, an unknown number of people were killed, sources say between 2 and 5, and several others were wounded. The warehouses are supervised by the Iranian Consular Center in Damascus which issued a statement strongly condemning the US aggression and vowing to respond.

The promise to respond took half an hour to materialize, a missile attack targeted the illegal US military bases in Syria’s largest oil field Al Omar and Syria’s largest gas field Conoco which alone has received 20 missiles, both in eastern Deir Ezzor countryside. Multiple sounds of explosions were heard all over the region.

To save face, and again to try to change the rule of engagement, the US Army fired missiles against a Syrian Resistance post which drew a massive exchange of missiles between the Syrian Resistance and their allies across Deir Ezzor province, and the illegal US Army bases in the region.

At least one heavy missile struck the US Army occupying the Conoco Gas field resulting in a fire in the base and reports of several US Army personnel killed.

Iranian kamikaze (suicide) drones - file photo - مسيرات انتحارية ايرانية الصنع
Iranian Kamikaze drones joined in barbecuing US Army oil thieves

The illegal US Army base in the Youth Camp in Deir Ezzor came under a missile attack.

Soon after the first US Army attack occurred, the Syrian Arab Army went on alert and readied its missiles to join if needed.

Simultaneously, when the news of US soldiers and CIA agents being killed in Syria, the missile units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps IRGC in western Iran also went on alert and were readied to join if needed.

The US Commander in Chief, one demented so-called Joe Biden claimed in a comment that he was in his cognitive powers to order his troops in Syria to ‘swiftly retaliate against the attack’ by what he called ‘Iranian-backed militias’.

During the exchange of fire, a former US official in hiding issued a statement ridiculing the handling of Biden’s junta of the situation and calling for a direct wide-scale confrontation. The US former official named Mike Pompeo said that ‘the US forces were attacked 78 times since 2021, and the Biden’s administration (junta) retaliated against only 3 of them.’

There’s a reward on the head of Pompeo by the Iranian IRGC for his role in killing Iran’s most revered general and the head of the IRGC General Qasim Soleimani while on a diplomatic peace mission in a 3rd country, near Baghdad International Airport. A heinous cheap war crime that sent this Pompeo into bunkers with expensive beefed-up security on the account of the US taxpayers. Sometimes, living in fear is worse than killing.

The escalations calmed down after the US Army stopped responding to the incoming missiles, hopefully, they understood that their role is to get bombed when Israel bombs Syria and not respond, firstly, they are aggressors, their presence in Syria is illegal and considered occupation, they help terrorist groups against the Syrian people, they steal Syrian oil and food, and they are a cause of instability in the region, they have NO right to self-defense, their only right is to accept the role of cannon fodders for the Zionist Joe Biden and his Greater Israel project.

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Remembering NATO’s monstruous bombing of Yugoslavia: 24th anniversary

March 25, 2023

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

President Aleksandar Vucic said that the illegal campaign had resulted in the death of over 2,500 people, including 87 children.


Speaking at the mourning event dedicated to the 24th anniversary of NATO aggression against Yugoslavia, the Serbian head of State, President Aleksandar Vucic, said on Friday that Serbs will forget the atrocities committed by the alliance “only when all Serbs disappear.”

He recalled that the illegal campaign had resulted in the death of over 2,500 people, including 87 children, as well as abnormally high cases of cancer and birth defects as a result of the depleted uranium shells that were used to bomb the then-Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. 

“It has been 24 years since you ripped away part of our country, killing children and civilians, military and police. Where did you get the right to kill our military and police, who gave you that right?” Vucic said, noting that NATO’s illegal campaign had caused $100 billion worth of damage.  

“You have not prevented any humanitarian catastrophe, you have armed rebel groups in a free and sovereign country, which has crossed to the territory of another state even a single inch, not even one toe,” Vucic added.  

Nation-wide memorials kicked off on Friday evening in the city of Sombor, where the first NATO air bomb fell on March 24, 1999.

Among the millions of attendees who had gathered for the memorial included the Serbian President, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, Serb co-president of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik, and other government officials. 

During his address, Vucic also condemned NATO for fabricating false pretexts of alleged humanitarian disaster to launch its attack on Yugoslavia. 

He said that when NATO understood it could not earn formal legal approval from the UN Security Council to launch the attack, they had decided to carry it out without UN approval.

NATO waged brutal aggression in the former Yugoslavia in 1999 for 78 days, which led to the disincorporation of the former republic and killed between 3,500-4,000, and injured some 10,000 others, two-thirds of which were civilians. The alliance’s aggression cost Belgrade around $100 billion in material damages.

Over the period of the aggression, the alliance dropped an estimated 15 tonnes of depleted uranium in bombs and shells, after which the country’s cancer rates spiked, ranking it the first in terms of cancer in Europe. In the first ten years following the heavy shelling, about 30,000 developed cancer, and estimations say that between 10,000-18,000 of them died.

Read more: Serbia not to join NATO, cites children killed in 1999

Comparing US and Russian military strength ‘pointless’ – Medvedev

24 Mar, 2023 08:03

Washington’s purported superiority is meaningless as there would be no winner in an actual war, the former Russian president has warned

Comparing US and Russian military strength 'pointless' – Medvedev
Dmitry Medvedev © Sputnik / Ekaterina Shtukina

Any serious conflict involving the world’s leading nuclear powers would “obviously” have no winner, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has outlined. As a result, comparing the strength of the Russian and American militaries is pointless, he added.

The consequences of a nuclear war would be “monstrous” and make it “impossible to say which army was the first and which second,” the senior official told the Russian media this week.

The prowess of a military force is measured by the outcomes of its campaigns, added Medvedev, who is now the deputy chair of Russia’s National Security Council.

“The American army, in my opinion, would be considered the first [in the world] at the very least during the period of time when it actually fought on the ground,” he stated.

This was the case during the Vietnam War, he claimed, but added that the conflict itself was not just and involved “killings of Vietnamese people who had nothing to do with the conflict,” for which the US was never held accountable.

Russia’s military action in Ukraine is different, Medvedev claimed, because “we are fighting for our people on our land.” Moscow’s true opponent is not “the semi-Nazi or Nazi regime in Kiev,” but rather NATO, with 3.6 million troops and an economy fueled by a population of 800 million, which “provides vehicles, weapons and money” to Kiev.

“They are certainly involved in this hybrid conflict and are not even hiding it,” the former president said.

Russia’s goal is to ensure its security, Medvedev explained. He envisions a demilitarized “sanitary cordon” along the Russian border some 70km to 100km deep, which would ensure that Ukraine cannot attack its territory. Moscow is prepared to push forward for as long as necessary, he warned.

“If we have to get to Kiev, we will. If we have to get to Lviv, so be it. Anything to eliminate this plague,” he declared.

Medvedev declined to estimate how long the campaign could take, saying it was not his place to outline a timeframe.

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الدور الروسي في مواجهة مشروع أميركا الجديد

 الخميس 23 آذار 2023

أمل أبو زيد  

(أ ف ب )

يوم تحدّث فوكوياما، منذ ثلاثين سنة، نيابة عن العقل السياسي لدولة واشنطن العميقة، عن مفهوم «»، لم يكن يقصد مجرد نقاش عقلاني سلمي هادئ بين نهجين فكريين فلسفيين وحسب. ذلك أن الأحداث المتلاحقة على مستوى العالم لم تتأخّر في التأكيد بشكل يومي أن المقصود هو انتصار معسكر على آخر، وسيطرة كاملة لهذا المعسكر على العالم، جيوسياسياً واقتصادياً وعسكرياً وثقافياً وتكنولوجياً. وهو المشهد الذي وصفه سيد البيت الأبيض يومها بـ«النظام العالمي الجديد».

هذا النظام، كان، في الفكرة والواقع، نظاماً إمبراطورياً، إذ يكفي للدلالة على ذلك أن رؤية فوكوياما لم تكن إلّا استلهاماً لزمن نابليون بعد معركة إيينا. غير أن المشكلة بدأت عندما راح سيّد هذا العالم الجديد يتصرّف بشكل لا ينسجم مع المسؤولية العالمية الجديدة. وعلى مدى نحو ربع قرن تقريباً، سُجِّل عدم احترام لمبادئ الشرعية الدولية، لا بل خروج صريح عن أطر مؤسّساتها، وعدم احترام لمبدأ سياسة الدول ووحدة أراضيها، وصولاً إلى شنّ حروب من خارج الشرعية الدولية، استهدفت دولاً وسلامة أراضيها ووحدتها وشعوبها.

هذه السلوكيات السياسية والعسكرية، ترافقت مع سلوكيات مماثلة على الصعيد الاقتصادي والتنموي والتجاري على مستوى العالم، بما كرّس نهج الهيمنة وسياسات النفوذ العالمية، فضلاً عن محاولة تركيز ثروات الأرض في قبضة طرف واحد، ما فاقم الفجوة التنموية بين المناطق والبلدان والقارات، وأدّى إلى زيادة مشاعر الحرمان والغُبن لدى أكثرية شعوب الأرض.

بعد عشرين سنة من هذه السياسات، انطلقت في الشرق الأوسط، بمصادفة غريبة وبشكل متزامن، عاصفة ما سُمّي «الربيع العربي»، الذي ظهر فعلياً أنه كان محاولة لإسقاط كل النظام القائم وتبديل كل دولة بأنظمة جديدة قائمة على شرعية دينية ما. حتى أن الرئيس الأميركي السابق، باراك أوباما، كان صريحاً أكثر من اللزوم في كلامه عن شعوب الشرق الأوسط في خطابه الشهير في جامعة القاهرة عام 2009، وبعدها في «عقيدة أوباما»، وصولاً إلى الصدفة الأكثر غرابة في صدور الأمر الرئاسي عنه في آب 2010 والذي يتكلم صراحة عن تغيير مشهد الشرق الأوسط قبل أسابيع قليلة من اندلاع أولى عواصف الربيع العربي بدءاً من تونس في كانون الأول من العام 2010.

في الجهة المقابلة من الشرق الأوسط، بدأت السياسات الأميركية تركّز على عنوان واضح: نحن ذاهبون إلى إعادة تشكيل نظام سيطرتنا العالمي الجديد باحتواء الصين، وبالتالي على الدول الأخرى، من أوروبا كلها، وروسيا وتركيا، وصولاً إلى جنوب شرقي آسيا والدول المشاطئة لبحر الصين، أن تكون مجرّد أحجار قرميد في أيدينا لبناء السور الأميركي العظيم حول التنين الصيني لترويضه وإخضاعه… وكل الباقي تفاصيل.

أمام هذا الواقع، وبعدما تأكّدت روسيا من دوافع السياسات الأميركية ومساراتها، خصوصاً في ما يتعلق بما تمّ تحضيره ضدّها انطلاقاً من دولة أوكرانيا، بدأت روسيا العمل مع شركائها وحلفائها باتجاه تشكّل نظام عالمي جديد للخروج من الزعامة الأحادية والدفع باتجاه عالم متعدّد الأقطاب. وما التطورات العسكرية الجارية في أوكرانيا إلّا دليل واضح على عملية الانتقال إلى معادلة دولية مختلفة أدّت إلى خلط أوراق العلاقات التجارية والتحالفات الدولية وإلى قيام سياسات ومحاور اقتصادية ومالية جديدة من شأنها أن تخلص إلى توازن قوى إقليمي ودولي، والأخذ في الاعتبار المصالح المشروعة لكل اللاعبين على المسرح الدولي، وتخلق قواعد جديدة لحل الصراعات والنزاعات الدولية.

إنّ الأزمة الحالية مع أوكرانيا، ومع المعسكر الغربي بأكمله، هي فرصة نادرة وسانحة وفريدة لكي يتمكّن الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، من إثبات حضوره على الساحة الدولية

إنّ الأزمة الحالية مع أوكرانيا، ومع المعسكر الغربي بأكمله، هي فرصة نادرة وسانحة وفريدة لكي يتمكّن الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين، من إثبات حضوره على الساحة الدولية وسط التصاعد المتنامي للقوة الصينية، وهيمنة أميركا على المشهد الحالي، مع إدراكه بأن هذا العالم الجديد لديه سمات وعلامات فارقة، أهمها:

-أولاً: تحوّل روسيا نحو الشرق. هذا التحوّل لم يأخذ أشكاله الواضحة إلا منذ عشر سنوات تقريباً، وأَخَذَ البُعدين الاقتصادي والجيوسياسي، بعد إعادة دمج شبه جزيرة القرم، ما وضع حداً، على الأقل في ذلك الوقت، لتوسيع التحالفات الغربية، مثل حلف شمال الأطلسي، في المناطق التي تعتبرها روسيا حيوية لأمنها القومي. وترافق تحوّل روسيا نحو الشرق، وتحوّل الصين غرباً نحو أوروبا من خلال «مبادرة الحزام وطريق الحرير»، مع تغيير أكثر أهمية في نظام العلاقات الدولية بأكمله، أي نهاية هيمنة الغرب التي امتدّت لفترة 500 عام بما في ذلك النظام الليبرالي المهيمن في السنوات السبعين الماضية.

-ثانياً: الكثير من المتغيّرات ستحدّد شكل العالم الجديد. قد نشهد نشوء أوراسيا الكبرى. وهذا المفهوم وُلد في روسيا وشمل منذ البداية أوروبا أو جزءاً منها جغرافياً. وقد تصبح أوراسيا مركز الاقتصاد والسياسة والثقافة، وليس أوروبا كما كانت الحال خلال الخمسة قرون الماضية.

-ثالثاً: إن استراتيجية «التوجّه شرقاً» التي اعتمدتها موسكو رداً على القيود الغربية غير المسبوقة ومحاولات عزلها، دفعت في اتجاه علاقات شراكة استراتيجية روسية-صينية، وليس نموذج «تحالف». وهذا يُسهم في استقرار العلاقات بينهما ويعطيهما مساحة كاملة من التعاون من دون أن يلزم أي جانب بإدخال تعديلات كبرى على سياسته.

-رابعاً: إنّ الحضور الروسي في الشرق الأوسط، وتحديداً منذ تواجدها في سوريا عام 2015، أفسح لها المجال في التقدّم على واجهة التأثير الدولي في المنطقة، وتطوير حضورها ودورها وعلاقاتها، ولا سيما مع دول الخليج التي أطلقت معها حواراً استراتيجياً ومبادرة لضمان الأمن في الخليج. فإلى جانب المجابهة الأميركية-الإيرانية، والسعودية-الإيرانية، هناك العداء الإيراني-الإسرائيلي، والصراع السني-الشيعي، والصراع العربي-الإسرائيلي، إذ إن روسيا تبقى اللاعب الوحيد القادر على مخاطبة الجميع والدفع في اتجاه حلّ للنزاعات الإقليمية.

وبالفعل، هناك توجّه روسي جديد في منطقة الشرق الأوسط يهدف إلى تأمين النموّ الاقتصادي المتسارع لها، وهي مدركة لفوائد إعادة تفعيل العلاقات التاريخية مع عدد من دول المنطقة وتطويرها، وأيضاً لضرورة توظيف كل قدراتها بهدف دعم تحركاتها وتحقيق أهدافها، ومن أهمها وأبرزها ديبلوماسية القمة والوساطة، مع اختلاف فاعليتها من قضية إلى أخرى.

-خامساً: الملف النووي الإيراني الذي كان واحداً من أبرز الضحايا السياسية للحرب في أوكرانيا. فقد بدا واضحاً أن فرصة إحياء الاتفاق النووي التي لاحت في عام 2021، تبدّدت في عام 2022 بسبب الحرب وتأثيرها على مسألتين؛ الأولى تتعلق بالتغيير الحاصل في موقف إيران التي لم تعد على عجلة من أمرها بعدما تغيرت المعطيات الجيوسياسية والاقتصادية بفعل حرب أوكرانيا. فإيران تبيع نفطها وبرنامجها النووي يتقدّم، في حين أن قدرة أميركا والدول الغربية على استخدام السلاح الاقتصادي تتراجع. والثانية، تتعلق بالأزمة المستجدة والمتفاقمة بين إيران والتحالف الأميركي-الأوروبي الذي يسعى لمعاقبة إيران بسبب دعمها لروسيا في الحرب وتزويدها بمسيّرات وصواريخ، بحسب زعمهم، وبسبب إسهامها في تعزيز المحور الشرقي وبناء النظام العالمي الجديد عبر المشاغبة على أميركا وسياساتها في المنطقة.

-سادساً: دور تركيا المتعاظم في المنطقة، إذ إن الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان كان أول وأكبر المستفيدين من الحرب التي أعطته دوراً محورياً هو دور الوسيط بين روسيا وأوكرانيا، وبين روسيا والولايات المتحدة بدرجة أقل، مثبتاً قدرة فائقة على السير بين توازناتٍ وتناقضاتٍ دقيقة، إضافة إلى «تصفير» مشكلاته مع دول المنطقة، وتهدئة الحرارة في العلاقات التركية مع دول الخليج وأيضاً مع إسرائيل.

-سابعاً: دور السعودية المتنامي في المنطقة، إذ أدرك ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان كيف يستغلّ الحرب والمتغيّرات الجيوسياسية والاقتصادية في العالم ليحوّلها إلى فرصة لإظهار أهمية السعودية ومكانتها وشخصيتها، ودفع الولايات المتحدة على الأخذ في الاعتبار مصالح السعودية السياسية والاقتصادية، بعدما اتّسمت السياسة الأميركية بالتخبّط والتردّد وعدم الوضوح.

ويرى ابن سلمان أن الحرب في أوكرانيا هي فرصة لتصحيح المسار ولا يجوز تفويتها. وبدافع التحوّط الاستراتيجي هو ينسج منذ فترة انزياحاً جدياً نحو تنويع الشراكات مع الصين وروسيا والهند، ويعتبر أن الاصطفاف الدولي المطلوب هو استحقاق كبير يجب تحويله إلى فرصة وجعل الثمن كبيراً. ومن غير الجائز، برأيه، التسرّع والهرولة المجانية في اتجاه الغرب، خصوصاً أن النفط لا يزال قيمة أساسية في المعادلات التجارية والسياسية. ثم إنّ الحرب نفسها خلقت مساراً مختلفاً عن المرسوم في عالم الطاقة، ورفعت الأسعار وعادت بالفائدة على الخزينة السعودية.

بعد مرور سنة على معارك أوكرانيا، تجد أوروبا صعوبة في متابعة مسارها، لأنها أصبحت تعاني من الانكماش الاقتصادي والتجاري والموجة التضخمية الناتجة من ارتفاع أسعار الطاقة والغذاء، وهي تقف عاجزة عن القيام بأي خطوة إيجابية تجاه روسيا، ما أدّى إلى هبوط سعر اليورو والجنيه الاسترليني وإلى إقفال شركات وهجرة الاستثمارات.

ويتعيّن على أوروبا أن تقرّر إذا كانت تريد القيام بدور نشط في بناء شراكة جديدة، أم أن هذه الشراكة ستُبنى من دونها، ثم ضدّها، ومن دون مراعاة مصالحها. واستطراداً، على أوروبا التوقّف عن الانزلاق أكثر في الأزمة الحضارية والتخلّي عن محاولات الاتّحاد ضدّ الأعداء الوهميين مثل روسيا أو الصين.

في عام 1991، انتهت حقبة الحرب الباردة التي بدأت بعد انتهاء الحرب العالمية الثانية، وثمّة بوادر واضحة تؤشّر إلى احتمال بدء مرحلة جديدة وبناء نظام عالمي جديد انطلاقاً مما يجري في أوكرانيا، لتصبح عام 2022 بداية حقبة جديدة وخطّاً زمنياً فاصلاً بين مرحلتين وعالمين.

إنّ كل أزمة تحمل في طياتها فرصة للحلّ. وهذه الأزمة الغربية الحالية في إدارة العالم التي نعيشها اليوم، وخصوصاً في الفوضى التي خلّفتها على مستوى أوروبا والشرق الأوسط، حملت فرصة واضحة؛ وهي التي تجسّدت في خروج كل القوى الأساسية على الهيمنة الأميركية وبروز اتجاه جديد لديها لإعادة تشكيل نظام منطقتها بشكل أكثر استقلالية وتوازناً. وهو ما نشهده اليوم في العلاقات التركية-الأميركية وحتى السعودية-الأميركية، وصولاً إلى الكباش الكبير بين واشنطن وطهران وموسكو. نظام جديد يجب أن يقوم على أسس واضحة، أهمها؛ أولاً، إعادة الأهمية لمفهوم الاستقرار في هذه المنطقة الحيوية للعالم. وثانياً، إعادة الأولوية لضرورة اعتماد سياسات تنموية صحيحة تستثمر ثروات هذه المنطقة لمصلحة مجتمعاتها وشعوبها. وهذا يقتضي قيام أُطر تعاون بين هذه الدول بعيدة كلياً عن مفاهيم الهيمنة والنفوذ والتدخّل في الدول.
أخيراً، ومنذ عشرة أعوام، بدت واشنطن وكأنها تقول لعالمنا الممتدّ على ضفّتي المتوسط، وصولاً إلى أوروبا والشرق الأوسط الواسع: أنتم جسرٌ، وظيفته الوحيدة هي وصولنا إلى الصين… ولا وظيفة أو قيمة أخرى لكم. وفيما هذا العالم يحاول أن يقول لواشنطن: نحن قلب العالم، في مصادر طاقته وممرّات تجارته وحركة شعوبه وسكانه وهجراته ولا يمكن للأطراف أن تقتل القلب أو تقتطعه من جسدها، وتتوهّم أنها يمكن أن تظلّ على قيد الحياة.

هذا هو جوهر الصراع اليوم… وعلى نتيجته يتوقف مصير كل العالم لعقود كثيرة مقبلة.

* نائب سابق، ومستشار الرئيس ميشال عون للشؤون الروسية

Selling the Iraq War: a How-to Guide

MARCH 23, 2023

George Tenet, Colin Powell and John Negroponte at UN Security Council session on Iraq, 2003.


The war on Iraq won’t be remembered for how it was waged so much as for how it was sold. It was a propaganda war, a war of perception management, where loaded phrases, such as “weapons of mass destruction” and “rogue state” were hurled like precision weapons at the target audience: us.

To understand the Iraq war you don’t need to consult generals, but the spin doctors and PR flacks who stage-managed the countdown to war from the murky corridors of Washington where politics, corporate spin and psy-ops spooks cohabit.

Consider the picaresque journey of Tony Blair’s plagiarized dossier on Iraq, from a grad student’s website to a cut-and-paste job in the prime minister’s bombastic speech to the House of Commons. Blair, stubborn and verbose, paid a price for his grandiose puffery. Bush, who looted whole passages from Blair’s speech for his own clumsy presentations, has skated freely through the tempest. Why?

Unlike Blair, the Bush team never wanted to present a legal case for war. They had no interest in making any of their allegations about Iraq hold up to a standard of proof. The real effort was aimed at amping up the mood for war by using the psychology of fear.

Facts were never important to the Bush team. They were disposable nuggets that could be discarded at will and replaced by whatever new rationale that played favorably with their polls and focus groups. The war was about weapons of mass destruction one week, al-Qaeda the next. When neither allegation could be substantiated on the ground, the fall back position became the mass graves (many from the Iran/Iraq war where the U.S.A. backed Iraq) proving that Saddam was an evil thug who deserved to be toppled. The motto of the Bush PR machine was: Move on. Don’t explain. Say anything to conceal the perfidy behind the real motives for war. Never look back. Accuse the questioners of harboring unpatriotic sensibilities. Eventually, even the cagey Wolfowitz admitted that the official case for war was made mainly to make the invasion palatable, not to justify it.

The Bush claque of neocon hawks viewed the Iraq war as a product and, just like a new pair of Nikes, it required a roll-out campaign to soften up the consumers. The same techniques (and often the same PR gurus) that have been used to hawk cigarettes, SUVs and nuclear waste dumps were deployed to retail the Iraq war. To peddle the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell and company recruited public relations gurus into top-level jobs at the Pentagon and the State Department. These spinmeisters soon had more say over how the rationale for war on Iraq should be presented than intelligence agencies and career diplomats. If the intelligence didn’t fit the script, it was shaded, retooled or junked.

Take Charlotte Beers whom Powell picked as undersecretary of state in the post-9/11 world. Beers wasn’t a diplomat. She wasn’t even a politician. She was a grand diva of spin, known on the business and gossip pages as “the queen of Madison Avenue.” On the strength of two advertising campaigns, one for Uncle Ben’s Rice and another for Head and Shoulder’s dandruff shampoo, Beers rocketed to the top of the heap in the PR world, heading two giant PR houses: Ogilvy and Mathers as well as J. Walter Thompson.

At the State Department Beers, who had met Powell in 1995 when they both served on the board of Gulf Airstream, worked at, in Powell’s words, “the branding of U.S. foreign policy.” She extracted more than $500 million from Congress for her Brand America campaign, which largely focused on beaming U.S. propaganda into the Muslim world, much of it directed at teens.

“Public diplomacy is a vital new arm in what will combat terrorism over time,” said Beers. “All of a sudden we are in this position of redefining who America is, not only for ourselves, but for the outside world.” Note the rapt attention Beers pays to the manipulation of perception, as opposed, say, to alterations of U.S. policy.

Old-fashioned diplomacy involves direct communication between representatives of nations, a conversational give and take, often fraught with deception (see April Glaspie), but an exchange nonetheless. Public diplomacy, as defined by Beers, is something else entirely. It’s a one-way street, a unilateral broadcast of American propaganda directly to the public, domestic and international, a kind of informational carpet-bombing.

The themes of her campaigns were as simplistic and flimsy as a Bush press conference. The American incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq were all about bringing the balm of “freedom” to oppressed peoples. Hence, the title of the U.S. war: Operation Iraqi Freedom, where cruise missiles were depicted as instruments of liberation. Bush himself distilled the Beers equation to its bizarre essence: “This war is about peace.”

Beers quietly resigned her post a few weeks before the first volley of tomahawk missiles battered Baghdad. From her point of view, the war itself was already won, the fireworks of shock and awe were all after play.

Over at the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld drafted Victoria “Torie” Clarke as his director of public affairs. Clarke knew the ropes inside the Beltway. Before becoming Rumsfeld’s mouthpiece, she had commanded one of the world’s great parlors for powerbrokers: Hill and Knowlton’s D.C. office.

Almost immediately upon taking up her new gig, Clarke convened regular meetings with a select group of Washington’s top private PR specialists and lobbyists to develop a marketing plan for the Pentagon’s forthcoming terror wars. The group was filled with heavy-hitters and was strikingly bipartisan in composition. She called it the Rumsfeld Group and it included PR executive Sheila Tate, columnist Rich Lowry, and Republican political consultant Rich Galen.

The brain trust also boasted top Democratic fixer Tommy Boggs, brother of NPR’s Cokie Roberts and son of the late Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana. At the very time Boggs was conferring with top Pentagon brass on how to frame the war on terror, he was also working feverishly for the royal family of Saudi Arabia. In 2002 alone, the Saudis paid his Qorvis PR firm $20.2 million to protect its interests in Washington. In the wake of hostile press coverage following the exposure of Saudi links to the 9/11 hijackers, the royal family needed all the well-placed help it could buy. They seem to have gotten their money’s worth. Boggs’ felicitous influence-peddling may help to explain why the references to Saudi funding of al-Qaeda were dropped from the recent congressional report on the investigation into intelligence failures and 9/11.

According to the trade publication PR Week, the Rumsfeld Group sent “messaging advice” to the Pentagon. The group told Clarke and Rumsfeld that in order to get the American public to buy into the war on terrorism, they needed to suggest a link to nation states, not just nebulous groups such as al-Qaeda. In other words, there needed to be a fixed target for the military campaigns, some distant place to drop cruise missiles and cluster bombs. They suggested the notion (already embedded in Rumsfeld’s mind) of playing up the notion of so-called rogue states as the real masters of terrorism. Thus was born the Axis of Evil, which, of course, wasn’t an “axis” at all, since two of the states, Iran and Iraq, hated each other, and neither had anything at all to do with the third, North Korea.

Tens of millions in federal money were poured into private public relations and media firms working to craft and broadcast the Bush dictat that Saddam had to be taken out before the Iraqi dictator blew up the world by dropping chemical and nuclear bombs from long-range drones. Many of these PR executives and image consultants were old friends of the high priests in the Bush inner sanctum. Indeed, they were veterans, like Cheney and Powell, of the previous war against Iraq, another engagement that was more spin than combat .

At the top of the list was John Rendon, head of the D.C. firm, the Rendon Group. Rendon is one of Washington’s heaviest hitters, a Beltway fixer who never let political affiliation stand in the way of an assignment. Rendon served as a media consultant for Michael Dukakis and Jimmy Carter, as well as Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Whenever the Pentagon wanted to go to war, he offered his services at a price. During Desert Storm, Rendon pulled in $100,000 a month from the Kuwaiti royal family. He followed this up with a $23 million contract from the CIA to produce anti-Saddam propaganda in the region.

As part of this CIA project, Rendon created and named the Iraqi National Congress and tapped his friend Ahmed Chalabi, the shady financier, to head the organization.

Shortly after 9/11, the Pentagon handed the Rendon Group another big assignment: public relations for the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan. Rendon was also deeply involved in the planning and public relations for the pre-emptive war on Iraq, though both Rendon and the Pentagon refuse to disclose the details of the group’s work there.

But it’s not hard to detect the manipulative hand of Rendon behind many of the Iraq war’s signature events, including the toppling of the Saddam statue (by U.S. troops and Chalabi associates) and videotape of jubilant Iraqis waving American flags as the Third Infantry rolled by them. Rendon had pulled off the same stunt in the first Gulf War, handing out American flags to Kuwaitis and herding the media to the orchestrated demonstration. “Where do you think they got those American flags?” clucked Rendon in 1991. “That was my assignment.”

The Rendon Group may also have had played a role in pushing the phony intelligence that has now come back to haunt the Bush administration. In December of 2002, Robert Dreyfuss reported that the inner circle of the Bush White House preferred the intelligence coming from Chalabi and his associates to that being proffered by analysts at the CIA.

So Rendon and his circle represented a new kind of off-the-shelf PSYOPs , the privatization of official propaganda. “I am not a national security strategist or a military tactician,” said Rendon. “I am a politician, and a person who uses communication to meet public policy or corporate policy objectives. In fact, I am an information warrior and a perception manager.”

What exactly, is perception management? The Pentagon defines it this way: “actions to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives and objective reasoning.” In other words, lying about the intentions of the U.S. government. In a rare display of public frankness, the Pentagon actually let slip its plan (developed by Rendon) to establish a high-level den inside the Department Defense for perception management. They called it the Office of Strategic Influence and among its many missions was to plant false stories in the press.

Nothing stirs the corporate media into outbursts of pious outrage like an official government memo bragging about how the media are manipulated for political objectives. So the New York Times and Washington Post threw indignant fits about the Office of Strategic Influence; the Pentagon shut down the operation, and the press gloated with satisfaction on its victory. Yet, Rumsfeld told the Pentagon press corps that while he was killing the office, the same devious work would continue. “You can have the corpse,” said Rumsfeld. “You can have the name. But I’m going to keep doing every single thing that needs to be done. And I have.”

At a diplomatic level, despite the hired guns and the planted stories, this image war was lost. It failed to convince even America’s most fervent allies and dependent client states that Iraq posed much of a threat. It failed to win the blessing of the U.N. and even NATO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington. At the end of the day, the vaunted coalition of the willing consisted of Britain, Spain, Italy, Australia, and a cohort of former Soviet bloc nations. Even so, the citizens of the nations that cast their lot with the U.S.A. overwhelmingly opposed the war.

Domestically, it was a different story. A population traumatized by terror threats and shattered economy became easy prey for the saturation bombing of the Bush message that Iraq was a terrorist state linked to al-Qaeda that was only minutes away from launching attacks on America with weapons of mass destruction.
Americans were the victims of an elaborate con job, pelted with a daily barrage of threat inflation, distortions, deceptions and lies, not about tactics or strategy or war plans, but about justifications for war. The lies were aimed not at confusing Saddam’s regime, but the American people. By the start of the war, 66 per cent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 and 79 per cent thought he was close to having a nuclear weapon.

Of course, the closest Saddam came to possessing a nuke was a rusting gas centrifuge buried for 13 years in the garden of Mahdi Obeidi, a retired Iraqi scientist. Iraq didn’t have any functional chemical or biological weapons. In fact, it didn’t even possess any SCUD missiles, despite erroneous reports fed by Pentagon PR flacks alleging that it had fired SCUDs into Kuwait.

This charade wouldn’t have worked without a gullible or a complicit press corps. Victoria Clarke, who developed the Pentagon plan for embedded reports, put it succinctly a few weeks before the war began: “Media coverage of any future operation will to a large extent shape public perception.”

During the Vietnam War, TV images of maimed GIs and napalmed villages suburbanized opposition to the war and helped hasten the U.S. withdrawal. The Bush gang meant to turn the Vietnam phenomenon on its head by using TV as a force to propel the U.S.A. into a war that no one really wanted.

What the Pentagon sought was a new kind of living room war, where instead of photos of mangled soldiers and dead Iraqi kids, they could control the images Americans viewed and to a large extent the content of the stories. By embedding reporters inside selected divisions, Clarke believed the Pentagon could count on the reporters to build relationships with the troops and to feel dependent on them for their own safety. It worked, naturally. One reporter for a national network trembled on camera that the U.S. Army functioned as “our protectors.” The late David Bloom of NBC confessed on the air that he was willing to do “anything and everything they can ask of us.”

When the Pentagon needed a heroic story, the press obliged. Jessica Lynch became the war’s first instant celebrity. Here was a neo-gothic tale of a steely young woman wounded in a fierce battle, captured and tortured by ruthless enemies, and dramatically saved from certain death by a team of selfless rescuers, knights in camo and night-vision goggles. Of course, nearly every detail of her heroic adventure proved to be as fictive and maudlin as any made-for-TV-movie. But the ordeal of Private Lynch, which dominated the news for more than a week, served its purpose: to distract attention from a stalled campaign that was beginning to look at lot riskier than the American public had been hoodwinked into believing.

The Lynch story was fed to the eager press by a Pentagon operation called Combat Camera, the Army network of photographers, videographers and editors that sends 800 photos and 25 video clips a day to the media. The editors at Combat Camera carefully culled the footage to present the Pentagon’s montage of the war, eliding such unsettling images as collateral damage, cluster bombs, dead children and U.S. soldiers, napalm strikes and disgruntled troops.

“A lot of our imagery will have a big impact on world opinion,” predicted Lt. Jane Larogue, director of Combat Camera in Iraq. She was right. But as the hot war turned into an even hotter occupation, the Pentagon, despite airy rhetoric from occupation supremo Paul Bremer about installing democratic institutions such as a free press, moved to tighten its monopoly on the flow images out of Iraq. First, it tried to shut down Al Jazeera, the Arab news channel. Then the Pentagon intimated that it would like to see all foreign TV news crews banished from Baghdad.

Few newspapers fanned the hysteria about the threat posed by Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction as sedulously as did the Washington Post. In the months leading up to the war, the Post’s pro-war op-eds outnumbered the anti-war columns by a 3-to-1 margin.

Back in 1988, the Post felt much differently about Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction. When reports trickled out about the gassing of Iranian troops, the Washington Post’s editorial page shrugged off the massacres, calling the mass poisonings “a quirk of war.”

The Bush team displayed a similar amnesia. When Iraq used chemical weapons in grisly attacks on Iran, the U.S. government not only didn’t object, it encouraged Saddam. Anything to punish Iran was the message coming from the White House. Donald Rumsfeld himself was sent as President Ronald Reagan’s personal envoy to Baghdad. Rumsfeld conveyed the bold message than an Iraq defeat would be viewed as a “strategic setback for the United States.” This sleazy alliance was sealed with a handshake caught on videotape. When CNN reporter Jamie McIntyre replayed the footage for Rumsfeld in the spring of 2003, the secretary of defense snapped, “Where’d you get that? Iraqi television?”

The current crop of Iraq hawks also saw Saddam much differently then. Take the writer Laura Mylroie, sometime colleague of the New York Times’ Judy Miller, who persists in peddling the ludicrous conspiracy that Iraq was behind the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

How times have changed! In 1987, Mylroie felt downright cuddly toward Saddam. She wrote an article for the New Republic titled “Back Iraq: Time for a U.S. Tilt in the Mideast,” arguing that the U.S. should publicly embrace Saddam’s secular regime as a bulwark against the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran. The co-author of this mesmerizing weave of wonkery was none other than Daniel Pipes, perhaps the nation’s most bellicose Islamophobe. “The American weapons that Iraq could make good use of include remotely scatterable and anti-personnel mines and counterartillery radar,” wrote Mylroie and Pipes. “The United States might also consider upgrading intelligence it is supplying Baghdad.”

In the rollout for the war, Mylroie seemed to be everywhere hawking the invasion of Iraq. She would often appear on two or three different networks in the same day. How did the reporter manage this feat? She had help in the form of Eleana Benador, the media placement guru who runs Benador Associates. Born in Peru, Benador parlayed her skills as a linguist into a lucrative career as media relations whiz for the Washington foreign policy elite. She also oversees the Middle East Forum, a fanatically pro-Zionist white paper mill. Her clients include some of the nation’s most fervid hawks, including Michael Ledeen, Charles Krauthammer, Al Haig, Max Boot, Daniel Pipes, Richard Perle, and Judy Miller. During the Iraq war, Benador’s assignment was to embed this squadron of pro-war zealots into the national media, on talk shows, and op-ed pages.

Benador not only got them the gigs, she also crafted the theme and made sure they all stayed on message. “There are some things, you just have to state them in a different way, in a slightly different way,” said Benador. “If not, people get scared.” Scared of intentions of their own government.

It could have been different. All of the holes in the Bush administration’s gossamer case for war were right there for the mainstream press to expose. Instead, the U.S. press, just like the oil companies, sought to commercialize the Iraq war and profit from the invasions. They didn’t want to deal with uncomfortable facts or present voices of dissent.

Nothing sums up this unctuous approach more brazenly than MSNBC’s firing of liberal talk show host Phil Donahue on the eve of the war. The network replaced the Donahue Show with a running segment called Countdown: Iraq, featuring the usual nightly coterie of retired generals, security flacks, and other cheerleaders for invasion. The network’s executives blamed the cancellation on sagging ratings. In fact, during its run Donahue’s show attracted more viewers than any other program on the network. The real reason for the pre-emptive strike on Donahue was spelled out in an internal memo from anxious executives at NBC. Donahue, the memo said, offered “a difficult face for NBC in a time of war. He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration’s motives.”

The memo warned that Donahue’s show risked tarring MSNBC as an unpatriotic network, “a home for liberal anti-war agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.” So, with scarcely a second thought, the honchos at MSNBC gave Donahue the boot and hoisted the battle flag.

It’s war that sells.

There’s a helluva caveat, of course. Once you buy it, the merchants of war accept no returns.

This essay is adapted from Grand Theft Pentagon.

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is An Orgy of Thieves: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents (with Alexander Cockburn). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3

In Moscow, Xi and Putin bury Pax Americana

March 22 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle

In Moscow this week, the Chinese and Russian leaders revealed their joint commitment to redesign the global order, an undertaking that has ‘not been seen in 100 years.’

By Pepe Escobar

What has just taken place in Moscow is nothing less than a new Yalta, which, incidentally, is in Crimea. But unlike the momentous meeting of US President Franklin Roosevelt, Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in USSR-run Crimea in 1945, this is the first time in arguably five centuries that no political leader from the west is setting the global agenda.

It’s Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin that are now running the multilateral, multipolar show. Western exceptionalists may deploy their crybaby routines as much as they want: nothing will change the spectacular optics, and the underlying substance of this developing world order, especially for the Global South.

What Xi and Putin are setting out to do was explained in detail before their summit, in two Op-Eds penned by the presidents themselves. Like a highly-synchronized Russian ballet, Putin’s vision was laid out in the People’s Daily in China, focusing on a “future-bound partnership,” while Xi’s was published in the Russian Gazette and the RIA Novosti website, focusing on a new chapter in cooperation and common development.

Right from the start of the summit, the speeches by both Xi and Putin drove the NATO crowd into a hysterical frenzy of anger and envy: Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova perfectly captured the mood when she remarked that the west was “foaming at the mouth.”

The front page of the Russian Gazette on Monday was iconic: Putin touring Nazi-free Mariupol, chatting with residents, side by side with Xi’s Op-Ed. That was, in a nutshell, Moscow’s terse response to Washington’s MQ-9 Reaper stunt and the International Criminal Court (ICC) kangaroo court shenanigans. “Foam at the mouth” as much as you like; NATO is in the process of being thoroughly humiliated in Ukraine.

During their first “informal” meeting, Xi and Putin talked for no less than four and a half hours. At the end, Putin personally escorted Xi to his limo. This conversation was the real deal: mapping out the lineaments of multipolarity – which starts with a solution for Ukraine.

Predictably, there were very few leaks from the sherpas, but there was quite a significant one on their “in-depth exchange” on Ukraine. Putin politely stressed he respects China’s position – expressed in Beijing’s 12-point conflict resolution plan, which has been completely rejected by Washington. But the Russian position remains ironclad: demilitarization, Ukrainian neutrality, and enshrining the new facts on the ground.

In parallel, the Russian Foreign Ministry completely ruled out a role for the US, UK, France, and Germany in future Ukraine negotiations: they are not considered neutral mediators.

A multipolar patchwork quilt

The next day was all about business: everything from energy and  “military-technical” cooperation to improving the efficacy of trade and economic corridors running through Eurasia.

Russia already ranks first as a natural gas supplier to China – surpassing Turkmenistan and Qatar – most of it via the 3,000 km Power of Siberia pipeline that runs from Siberia to China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province, launched in December 2019. Negotiations on the Power of Siberia II pipeline via Mongolia are advancing fast.

Sino-Russian cooperation in high-tech will go through the roof: 79 projects at over $165 billion. Everything from liquified natural gas (LNG) to aircraft construction, machine tool construction, space research, agro-industry, and upgraded economic corridors.

The Chinese president explicitly said he wants to link the New Silk Road projects to the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU). This BRI-EAEU interpolation is a natural evolution. China has already signed an economic cooperation deal with the EAEU. Russian macroeconomic uber-strategist Sergey Glazyev’s ideas are finally bearing fruit.

And last but not least, there will be a new drive towards mutual settlements in national currencies – and between Asia and Africa, and Latin America. For all practical purposes, Putin endorsed the role of the Chinese yuan as the new trade currency of choice while the complex discussions on a new reserve currency backed by gold and/or commodities proceed.

This joint economic/business offensive ties in with the concerted Russia-China diplomatic offensive to remake vast swathes of West Asia and Africa.

Chinese diplomacy works like the matryoshka (Russian stacking dolls) in terms of delivering subtle messages. It’s far from coincidental that Xi’s trip to Moscow exactly coincides with the 20th anniversary of American ‘Shock and Awe’ and the illegal invasion, occupation, and destruction of Iraq.

In parallel, over 40 delegations from Africa arrived in Moscow a day before Xi to take part in a “Russia-Africa in the Multipolar World” parliamentary conference – a run-up to the second Russia-Africa summit next July.

The area surrounding the Duma looked just like the old Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) days when most of Africa kept very close anti-imperialist relations with the USSR.

Putin chose this exact moment to write off more than $20 billion in African debt.

In West Asia, Russia-China are acting totally in synch. West Asia. The Saudi-Iran rapprochement was actually jump-started by Russia in Baghdad and Oman: it was these negotiations that led to the signing of the deal in Beijing. Moscow is also coordinating the Syria-Turkiye rapprochement discussions. Russian diplomacy with Iran – now under strategic partnership status – is kept on a separate track.

Diplomatic sources confirm that Chinese intelligence, via its own investigations, is now fully assured of Putin’s vast popularity across Russia, and even within the country’s political elites. That means conspiracies of the regime-change variety are out of the question. This was fundamental for Xi and the Zhongnanhai’s (China’s central HQ for party and state officials) decision to “bet” on Putin as a trusted partner in the coming years, considering he may run and win the next presidential elections. China is always about continuity.

So the Xi-Putin summit definitively sealed China-Russia as comprehensive strategic partners for the long haul, committed to developing serious geopolitical and geoeconomic competition with declining western hegemons.

This is the new world born in Moscow this week. Putin previously defined it as a new anti-colonial policy. It’s now laid out as a multipolar patchwork quilt. There’s no turning back on the demolition of the remnants of Pax Americana.

‘Changes that haven’t happened in 100 years’

In Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350, Janet Abu-Lughod built a carefully constructed narrative showing the prevailing multipolar order when the West “lagged behind the ‘Orient.’” Later, the West only “pulled ahead because the ‘Orient’ was temporarily in disarray.”

We may be witnessing a similarly historic shift in the making, trespassed by a revival of Confucianism (respect for authority, emphasis on social harmony), the equilibrium inherent to the Tao, and the spiritual power of Eastern Orthodoxy. This is, indeed, a civilizational fight.

Moscow, finally welcoming the first sunny days of Spring, provided this week a larger-than-life illustration of “weeks where decades happen” compared to “decades where nothing happens.”

The two presidents bid farewell in a poignant manner.

Xi: “Now, there are changes that haven’t happened in 100 years. When we are together, we drive these changes.”

Putin: “I agree.”

Xi: “Take care, dear friend.”

Putin: “Have a safe trip.”

Here’s to a new day dawning, from the lands of the Rising Sun to the Eurasian steppes.

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

Russia and China: a summit of important international agreements and messages

Multipolarity was triggered by the 2003 US invasion of Iraq

March 20 2023

Twenty years after the unlawful and destabilizing US-led invasion of Iraq, Washington must face the ultimate consequence of that war: UNSC powers China and Russia laying the foundation for a genuine, UN Charter-based system of multipolarism. 

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Karin Kneissl

On the night of 19-20 March, 2003, the US air force began bombing the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. The EU and NATO were deeply divided on whether to join the aggression: While newer NATO members from Central and Eastern Europe were in favor of the war, European heavyweights Paris and Berlin opposed it.

The Iraq war also marked the onset of diplomatic coordination between Moscow and Beijing at the UN Security Council (UNSC). The two countries began in 2003 to apply similar voting patterns in the Council, first on Iraq, then on Libya in 2011, and over Syria in several key votes. That early Russia-China UN coordination has, 20 years later, transformed into a determined joint policy toward “guarding a new world order based on international law.” 

Looking back at March 2003 from the vantage point of March 2023, the invasion of Iraq unleashed geopolitical consequences far beyond the obvious ones, like the proliferation of terrorism, a decline of US power, and regional chaos. In 2003, a foundational, global shift in the balance of power was surely the last possible consequence envisioned by the war’s planners in Washington and London.

Disconnecting the dots

The destruction of Iraq, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army by the first “US Consul” Paul Bremer in May 2023, the outflow of refugees to neighboring states such as Syria and Jordan, and the exponential growth of extremism and terror attacks are among the consequences of this misguided war.

The flimsy reasons for the war, such as non-existent weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and Baghdad’s alleged support of terror groups like Al Qaeda, were debunked extensively in the following years. By the spring of 2004, evidence was already rife – whether from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or from the CIA’s Iraq Survey Group (ISG) – that Iraq had no WMD program at all.

Rarely before had disinformation campaigns – what is now commonly referred to as “fake news” – been so meticulously executed. The “with us or against us” narrative had firmly taken hold: Western think tanks were out in full force promoting regime change and “democracy” (not a stated goal of the US-led invasion) in Iraq, while those who opposed it were labeled anti-Israel or anti-America.

Despite unprecedented, massive public protests across western capitals in opposition to the Iraq war, the US and its allies had already set in motion their considerable war machine, led by figures such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar.

A false narrative linking Baghdad and the September 11 attacks had already been well-seeded, despite there being no connection whatsoever between the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the bombers. It should be noted that there were no Iraqi or Afghan citizens among the terrorists who piloted the 9-11 planes, who were predominantly Saudi nationals.

Unfinished Business

In the autumn of 2001, war scenarios for an invasion of Iraq and regime change were already being laid out in Washington. Johns Hopkins University dean Paul Wolfowitz – an avid supporter of regime-change and US military expansion into Iraq – was named deputy secretary of defense in February 2001, a full seven months before the 9-11 attacks. Wolfowitz’s working hypothesis was that Iraq, with the liberalization of its oil industry, would be able to finance a post-war reconstruction from its own petroleum exports.

The group around Vice President Dick Cheney, which included Wolfowitz and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, was influential in shaping President George W. Bush’s position on Iraq. Unlike his father, George H. Bush, who was an experienced CIA director and analyst, the younger Bush lacked a distinct personal worldview on foreign policy, which he outsourced to his hawkish coterie.

Nevertheless, he was determined to finish what he saw as his father’s “unfinished business” from the 1991 ‘Gulf War’ aimed at expelling Iraqi forces from Kuwait. That conflict was executed under a UN Security Council resolution, authorizing legal measures against Iraq as a state, but which did not constitute a war under international law.

In 1991, only Jordan‘s King Hussein took a position supporting Saddam Hussein, with all other nations backing the coalition assault against Baghdad. The US government adhered to the UN resolution, which aimed to restore Kuwait‘s territorial integrity – but not to overthrow the Iraqi government.

Instead, the US supported Iraqi Kurds in the north of the country and encouraged them to revolt against Baghdad. The Iraqi army crushed that rebellion, as it did an uprising in the Shia-dominated south. Perhaps the rebels had hoped for more concrete military aid from the US, but regardless, Hussein remained firmly in power despite military defeat elsewhere.

From Washington’s perspective, the US had failed to unseat Hussein, and within the Bush family, there was a desire to settle a score. For George W. Bush, the invasion of Iraq provided an opportunity to step out of his powerful father’s shadow by executing the elusive regime-change goal. The September 11 attacks provided a justification for this obsession – what remained was to connect Iraq to the US terror attacks and galvanize public and political support for a war, both domestically and internationally.

The UN Security Council in turmoil

In the run-up to the Iraq invasion, there was a great deal of division among UN Security Council (UNSC) members. US Secretary of State Colin Powell presented questionable evidence of Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, while the foreign ministers of Germany and France publicly opposed the aggression, for which they occasionally received applause in the Council.

China and Russia, who vehemently opposed the war, began coordinating their decisions and responses, in part because of their respective oil interests in Iraq. This cooperation between Moscow and Beijing set the stage for a coordinated multilateral approach between the two nations. Both governments understood that a war would open Pandora’s box, leading to the collapse of Iraqi institutions and resulting in widespread regional disharmony.

Unfortunately, this is precisely what happened. The subsequent years saw weekly attacks, an expansion of Salafi terror groups like Al Qaeda, the rise of ISIS in 2014, and perpetual internal Iraqi conflict. Anyone familiar with the country‘s conditions was aware of the looming catastrophe when the illegal invasion of Iraq began on 20 March, 2003.

China and Russia and the multipolar order  

Twenty years to the day, Chinese President Xi Jinping will embark on a three-day state visit to Moscow, and the focus will extend beyond bilateral energy relations, which have been a consistent priority since 2004.

As previously stated in their joint declaration in Beijing in February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart aim to coordinate their foreign policy and advance it together. Their discussions may also touch on the Ukraine dossier, although media expectations in the west may be overestimated.

It may be pure coincidence that the meeting coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Iraq invasion. Yet it also highlights how extensively Russian and Chinese strategies have intertwined over the past two decades.

Today, increasingly, “orientation comes from Orient.” Cooperative geostrategic leadership and sound alternative propositions to resolve global conflicts are being shaped in Beijing and Moscow – because the old centers of power can offer nothing new.

Twenty years after the US invasion of Iraq, a failed ‘war on terror,’ the proliferation of extremism, millions of dead and displaced in West Asia, and never-ending conflict, China and Russia have finally teamed up to systematically advance their view of the world, this time with more resolve and global clout.

As catastrophic as it was, the Iraq war ended the practice of direct US military invasions, ushering in a war-weary era that desperately sought other solutions. That global division of opinion that began in 2003 over Iraq is, 20 years later, being institutionalized by emerging multipolar powers that seek to counter forever wars.

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

Russian-Turkish ‘co-opetition’ from Syria to Nagorno-Karabakh

March 17 2023

At a time when conflicts are increasingly interconnected, and provide tactical levers to assert pressure elsewhere, the competition between Russia-Iran and Turkiye in Syria and the South Caucasus is destined to overlap.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Yeghia Tashjian

Despite their robust diplomatic relations, Turkiye has been in direct competition with Russia and Iran in two major Asian conflict zones, Syria and Nagarno-Karabakh, tying together the fates of the Levant and the South Caucasus in any future resolution.

While Ankara seeks to establish its authority over northern Syria and advance Turkic hegemony in key Caucasian states like Azerbaijan for geopolitical advantage, Moscow and Tehran’s goals in these two theaters are to reduce US influence and promote long-term economic interdependence between regional and local states that will stabilize and enrich the region.

Despite these differences, there has been a flurry of meetings between senior Syrian and Turkish officials, with Russia hosting direct dialogues between their respective defense ministers and intelligence agency chiefs.

The desire to garner pre-election voter favor by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the devastating earthquakes that struck the Turkish-Syrian border towns, have played a role in facilitating the recent rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus.

However, it is unlikely that there will be full diplomatic normalization anytime soon due to the status of Idlib, the militant stronghold in northern Syria currently controlled by Turkiye and its proxies. Russia currently appears to favor maintaining the status quo in Idlib until rapprochement talks advance further.

Leveraging conflicts against each other

The resolution of the Syrian crisis depends on the outcome of regional developments, international disputes, and ongoing diplomatic struggles between Ankara and Moscow as they seek to consolidate or expand their influence in different regions, including in Syria and the South Caucasus.

The two conflicts, particularly the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, share some similarities. Both regions are characterized by significant ethnic and religious diversity, are heavily influenced by regional powers Russia, Iran, and Turkiye, and are in the strategic sights of global superpowers such as China and the US. As a result, the two conflicts have become internationalized, and local actors are unable to reach a resolution without external guarantees.

The South Caucasus is composed of three states – Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan – each with a different foreign policy orientation. Georgia is committed to partnering with Euro-Atlantic and European institutions, while Armenia is a member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) military alliance.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan and Turkiye are military allies that share similar worldviews, to the extent that Ankara’s decision to support one of the conflicting parties in Ukraine may prompt Baku to adopt a similar stance. Such is today’s increasing connection between local and international conflict – largely because major powers have inserted themselves into these regional disputes.

In addition, instability in the South Caucasus – a strategic geography for future trade routes that will empower Asia’s new hegemons – could create challenges that will impact trade and economic relations between regional states and their neighbors.

Recent developments indicate that Moscow believes its current troop deployment in Nagorno-Karabakh is sufficient to secure Russia’s long-term interests in Baku. However, this position is constantly challenged by Turkiye-backed Azerbaijan, especially following the signing of the Shushi Declaration on June 2021.

Azerbaijan: A major non-Nato ally

The declaration aimed to strengthen military, security, and diplomatic ties between the two Turkic countries and has led to Ankara’s regional ascension at Moscow’s expense. The Shushi Declaration has solidified Azerbaijan’s military and security relations with key NATO member Turkiye, with Baku reforming its army and increasing its special forces units using NATO standards.

According to Ahmad Alili from the Baku-based Caucasus Policy Analysis Center, Azerbaijan has transformed into a “major non-NATO ally” for Turkiye, similar to the role of Israel, Egypt, and Japan for the US:

“With Georgia having publicly declared NATO and EU aspirations, and Azerbaijan having closer military and diplomatic links with NATO member Turkiye, the region loses its ‘Russian backyard’ status and becomes a ‘Russian-Turkish’ playground.”

This development has prompted Moscow to increase its soft pressure over Baku and sign an “allied declaration” in February 2022 to solidify its political presence in the region. In the process, however, Armenia has found itself encircled by Turkiye and Azerbaijan without any land connection to Russia and thus, pushed into a corner.

Russian and Turkish ‘frenmity’  

Though Ankara and Moscow have an understanding of each other’s red lines in Syria, Turkiye’s aspiration to play a greater role in the South Caucasus has put its relationship with Russia to the test.

The 2020 outbreak of the second Nagorno-Karabakh war provided Turkiye with a unique opportunity to expand its influence in its immediate neighborhood – which has remained, since 1828, in Moscow’s sphere of national interest. To challenge Russia, Turkiye provided full active military and diplomatic support to Azerbaijan in its war against Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.

During the war, both Moscow and Ankara played tit-for-tat against each other. Observers noticed that while Russia was rather defensive in its own South Caucasus “backyard,” it was prepared to go on the offensive in Syria by bombing Turkish and Turkiye-backed rebel positions in Idlib.

By exerting pressure on Ankara in the Syrian theater, Moscow was attempting to balance its vulnerabilities and put Turkiye on notice over their other competitions. It didn’t seem to work. Turkiye made an offensive play in Russia’s own backyard, inaugurating, in November 2020, the connection of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) to the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), which enables Caspian Sea gas to reach southern Europe through Turkiye, bypassing Russia.

This project is crucial for Ankara as it transforms Turkiye from an importer to a transit route for gas. The geopolitical nature of this project aims to decrease Europe’s gas dependency on Moscow.

Not seeing eye-to-eye

On the diplomatic front, Turkiye has attempted to launch an “Astana style” deconfliction process for Nagorno-Karabakh. However, Moscow has not been keen to engage on a purely bilateral track with Ankara in its post-Soviet regions, as this runs the risk of legitimizing Turkiye’s intervention and presence in Russia’s backyard.

For this reason, Maxim Suchkov, a Moscow-based expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), explains that Russia chose not to directly intervene in the war, taking a “watch and see approach,” which distressed its Armenian ally to no end.

Suchkov noted that if Azerbaijan had managed to occupy Stepanakert, the Nagorno-Karabakh capital, Turkiye’s gambit would have paid off, and its influence in the region would only accelerate. But this would have led to the ethnic cleansing of Armenians and to Yerevan blaming Moscow for its inaction – and by losing its only regional military ally, Russia would have potentially lost the whole region. Instead, Russia tried to satisfy Baku while not completely alienating Yerevan, which was crushed during Baku’s autumn 2020 blitzkrieg.

Consequently, the 10 November, 2020 trilateral statement brokered by Russia that ended the Nagorno-Karabakh war did not favor Turkiye’s aspirations. Despite pushing for a complete Azerbaijani victory – or at least the deployment of Turkish peacekeepers alongside Russian forces – Ankara’s requests were denied.

Regardless, Turkiye has managed to become an active player in shaping the new geopolitical landscape of the region. While Russia has expressed dissatisfaction with Turkish intervention in its traditional sphere of influence and has established some “red lines,” it has also been forced to recognize Turkiye as a junior player in the region, though parity in the post-conflict regional order still remains in Moscow’s favor.

Post-2020 regional order

However, the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine has had a significant impact on the balance of power in the South Caucasus. As hostilities between the west and Russia continue to spike, the region has become a new confrontation zone, with Azerbaijan and Armenia both seeking to secure their vital interests under cover of the Great Power competition.

While Yerevan’s immediate interest is to protect the safety of the local Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan seeks to resolve the Karabakh issue through brute force, which, if successful, could greatly reduce Moscow’s regional clout, particularly as its peacekeeper mandate is set to expire in 2025.

Despite the 2020 trilateral statement, it appears that a long-lasting peace is still far off. A prime example of the many differences that remain unresolved between Yerevan and Baku is their contrasting interpretation of the statement’s ninth article.

Azerbaijan insists that Armenia must provide a “corridor” through Syunik (southern Armenia) to connect the Azerbaijani mainland to the Nakhichevan exclave, which Baku calls the “Zangezur corridor.”

Armenia rejects this claim, arguing that the article only references the restoration of communication channels (such as highways and railways), with both sides able to access and utilize the routes. But Baku has raised the stakes by threatening to block the Lachin corridor if Armenia does not provide access to the Syunik corridor. Yerevan, in turn, maintains that the status of the Lachin corridor should not be linked to the opening of these communication channels.

Iran’s red line

This has prompted neighboring Iran to make a “comeback” to the South Caucasus, by warning that any territorial changes to the Armenian-Iranian border would constitute a red line for Tehran. Iran believes that such changes could threaten its own geopolitical interests, which include its stake in the strategic Moscow-Tehran-New Delhi-backed International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

With Azerbaijan’s brutal blockade of the Lachin corridor – the only land route connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia – Russian troops remain the sole guarantors of the security of Karabakh Armenians. But contrary to what many analysts have predicted, the defeat of Armenia in the 2020 war has not diminished Russian influence in Armenia.

In fact, Russia has gained even more influence there, despite Yerevan’s growing frustration with Moscow’s inability to deter Azerbaijani attacks on sovereign Armenian territory. Baku officials have exacerbated matters by stating that they are not in favor of renewing the Russian peacekeeping mandate in 2025, and will instead push for the “reintegration” of the region into Azerbaijan.

If Baku succeeds in its objective and engages in demographic engineering in the region – forcing Armenians to leave Nagorno-Karabakh – there will no longer be a justification for Russian presence in the region, and Moscow will lose its leverage over the entire South Caucasus.

A Nagorno-Karabakh scenario in Syria?

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has highlighted Moscow’s success in preserving its influence in the region, despite Turkiye’s attempt to shrink Russian clout. However, the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, and its uncertain outcome, is also playing out in the South Caucasus.

As the world shifts from a US-led unipolar order to multipolarity, Azerbaijan and Armenia, like many other nations in conflict, are having to make strategic decisions on whether they align their interests with Russia or the west. Neutrality – when the major power stakes are this high – is unlikely to serve the vital interests of either country.

As such, mounting pressure on Erdogan to consolidate his power in Turkiye’s upcoming elections may force him to make concessions to one axis over the other. Such a move could have a significant impact on Baku and may lead to these “brotherly” nations ending up in opposing global camps.

Furthermore, the possibility of the US withdrawing its troops from northeastern Syria, coupled with the unclear political future of Syrian Kurds, their parallel economy, and autonomous governing structures, creates a risk of a sub-regional power vacuum.

This could push Turkiye and Russia towards managing or enhancing their cooperative rivalry, though it remains to be seen whether Russia can strike a game-changing deal between the Kurds and Damascus – which could gain Moscow leverage with Ankara in the South Caucasus.

The Ukraine war could present an obstacle to Russian diplomatic initiatives. Russia’s reluctance to counter Azerbaijan’s incursions and ceasefire violations after getting mired in the Ukraine war suggests that Moscow may not be up to the task of brokering a Nagorno-Karabakh-style peacekeeping scenario for Syria’s Kurds.

Hence, the Syrian crisis may remain frozen until relations between Ankara and Damascus are normalized – or Turkiye threatens further military attacks. The outcome of the Turkish elections on 14 May 2023 will undoubtedly play a significant role in this regard, both in Syria and the South Caucasus.

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




It has now been one week since Seymour Hersh published an in-depth report claiming that the Biden administration deliberately blew up the Nord Stream II gas pipeline without Germany’s consent or even knowledge – an operation that began planning long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Based on interviews with national security insiders, Hersh – the journalist who broke the stories of the My Lai Massacre, the CIA spying program and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal – claims that in June, U.S. Navy divers traveled to the Baltic Sea and attached C4 explosive charges to the pipeline. By September, President Biden himself ordered its destruction. But, according to Hersh, all understood the stakes and the gravity of what they were doing, acknowledging that, if caught, it would be seen as a flagrant “act of war” against their allies.

Despite this, corporate media have overwhelmingly ignored the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter’s bombshell. A MintPress News study analyzed the 20 most influential publications in the United States, according to analytics company Similar Web, and found only four mentions of the report between them.

The entirety of the corporate media’s attention given to the story consisted of the following:

  • A 166-word mini report in Bloomberg;
  • One five-minute segment on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Fox News);
  • One 600-word round-up in The New York Post;
  • A shrill Business Insider attack article, whose headline labels Hersh a “discredited journalist” that has given a “gift to Putin.”

The 20 outlets studied are, in alphabetical order:

ABC News; Bloomberg News; Business Insider; BuzzFeed; CBS News; CNBC; CNN; Forbes; Fox News; The Huffington Post; MSNBC; NBC News; The New York Post; The New York Times; NPR; People Magazine; Politico; USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

Searches for “Seymour Hersh” and “Nord Stream” were carried out on the websites of each outlet and were then checked against precise Google searches and results from the Dow Jones Factiva news database.

This lack of interest cannot be explained due to the report’s irrelevance. If the Biden administration really did work closely with the Norwegian government to blow up Nord Stream II, causing billions of dollars worth of immediate damage and plunging an entire region of the world into a freezing winter without sufficient energy, it ranks as one of the worst terrorist attacks in history; a flagrant act of aggression against a supposed ally.

Therefore, if Biden did indeed order this attack, it is barely possible to think of a more consequential piece of news. Indeed, according to Hersh, all those involved – from Biden, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan – understood that what they were doing was “an act of war.”

The Nord Stream attack was also one of the world’s worst ecological disasters, constituting the largest single leak of methane in history – a gas 80 times worse for the planet than carbon dioxide at accelerating climate change.

“The media system has, predictably, tried to marginalize the report,” Bryce Greene, a writer and media critic who has closely followed the press’ lack of interest in scrutinizing the Nord Stream story, told MintPress, adding,

They don’t want to deal with the repercussions. It also reflects poorly on the profession…Even Jeffery Sachs in his Bloomberg interview said that journalists he knew personally understood that evidence, but also understood that the media system they worked in wouldn’t respond kindly to any suggestion of US complicity, so they kept quiet.”

Greene explained that bothersome facts about the war have consistently been swept under the rug, noting that,

This is indicative of the entire Ukraine War coverage. From hiding the history of NATO expansion, to calling Ukrainian Nazis Russian propaganda, to CBS even retracting a story about Ukrainian corruption. The fact that US media figures want to be seen as ‘on the good team’ or ‘on the right side of history’ means that they’re unwilling to confront reality as it exists.”


This complete radio silence from most of the country’s most influential news organizations is all the more remarkable, considering Hersh’s revelations have been all over newswire services. Reuters, for example, has published 14 separate reports on the topic since Thursday. Every large media outlet in America (and many medium-sized and even small ones) subscribes to Reuters, republishing content from their newswires.

One of the main tasks of a newsroom editor is to follow the newswire and follow up on Reuters’ content. This means that editors around the country have been bombarded with this story every day since it broke, and virtually every single one of them has passed on it – 14 consecutive times. Thus, even when repeatedly presented with free content to monetize, almost every newsroom in the U.S. decided against it. Independent, reader-supported media, however, have covered the story much more closely.

This is not to say that Reuters has been supportive of Hersh’s assertions. Its first article on the subject, for example, was entitled “White House says blog post on Nord Stream explosion ‘is utterly false,’” thereby allowing the Biden administration to set the agenda and downplay Hersh’s investigation as a mere blog post – something those in alternative media were quick to highlight. Hersh self-published his report on the online platform Substack – a fact that either undermines his findings or the credibility of the corporate media apparatus, depending on one’s perspective.

“The most incredible thing about the backlash against Hersh’s article on the U.S. blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines is the fact that it’s clear no establishment media outlet has any intention of carrying out the basic journalism needed to confirm or refute what he’s reported,” wrote journalist and MintPress contributor Jonathan Cook.

Other journalists, particularly those connected to the Western intelligence services, were scathing of the report. “The only people Hersh impresses any more [sic] are the sort of people who carry water for Putin and Assad, or the terminally dumb,” quipped Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins. Christo Grozev, another Bellingcat writer, labeled Hersh “senile,” “corrupt,” and an “obsessive liar” whose “irresponsible single-anonymous-source reporting by a name with legacy authority is among the worst damage to journalism anyone ever caused.”

Fact-checking website Snopes also sprung into action, calling Hersh’s claim a “conspiracy” that rested on a single “omnipotent anonymous source.”

In an interview with the Radio War Nerd podcast, Hersh fired back, claiming:

The New York Times and the Washington Post have just ignored me. What they think I should do is use [the source’s] name, get him put in jail, stuff like that, which would end my career. I’ve been doing this for 50 years. My Lai started in 1969, and I will tell you something…I will protect people.”

He also noted that he actually cultivated multiple corroborative sources for the story.


According to Hersh’s source, last June, under the cover of an international NATO exercise happening in the area, U.S. Navy divers based in Panama City, Florida, planted remotely-triggered C4 explosives on a section of the pipeline. Then, three months later, the order was given to blow it up. Navy divers were assisted by the Norwegian military, who found the perfect location; calm and shallow water just off the coast of Bornholm Island, Denmark.

An earlier Nord Stream pipeline was already supplying Germany and Western Europe with Russian gas, providing a cheap and readily available source of fuel to heat and power the continent. With the introduction of the second pipeline, Europe would have become effectively energy-independent of the United States, raising the possibility that the continent might move in a neutral or independent political direction too, creating a powerful regional bloc of its own rather than the current Atlanticist (i.e., U.S.-dominated) model that prevails. The 760-mile pipeline travels along the Baltic Sea floor, from western Russia to northeastern Germany, transporting liquified natural gas into homes and businesses throughout Europe. As such, it represents a vastly more cost-efficient form of energy than purchasing American liquified national gas or fracked oil – something Washington had been leaning hard on Europe to switch to.

Successive White House administrations had long made their opposition to the new, multi-billion dollar project publicly known. But Hersh alleges that the Biden administration began planning the sabotage in 2021, many months before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Nord Stream 2 Sanctions Feature photo
Tubes are stored in Sassnitz, Germany, during construction of the natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, Dec. 6, 2016. Jens Buettner | DPA via AP

The choice to use Navy divers rather than members of America’s Special Operations Command was reportedly down to secrecy. Unlike Special Ops, by law, Congress, the Senate and House leadership do not need to be briefed about Navy operations. “The Biden Administration was doing everything possible to avoid leaks,” Hersh wrote.

Nevertheless, many in the know had cold feet. “Some working guys in the CIA and the State Department were saying, ‘Don’t do this. It’s stupid and will be a political nightmare if it comes out,’” Hersh’s source said.

In the end, Biden himself gave the mission the green light, and three months after it was completed, Washington pressed the button, destroying the pipeline.

In the immediate aftermath of the destruction, Western corporate media were coy about the culprit, even suggesting that Vladimir Putin himself was by far the number one suspect in the case. They also actively suppressed any other opinions on the matter, sometimes to a near-comical degree. Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs, for example, was abruptly taken off the air by Bloomberg as he ran through circumstantial evidence suggesting Western forces could be behind the attack.


Hersh’s account adds weight to Sachs’ assertions. But is it credible? On the one hand, Hersh is a veteran investigative journalist who has built a stellar reputation over decades, working closely with government sources to break important news stories. On the other, his bombshell relies almost entirely on unnamed sources. It is standard journalistic practice to name and check sources. The Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics states that “reporters should use every possible avenue to confirm and attribute information before relying on unnamed sources” and that they must “always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity” because too many “provide information only when it benefits them.”

Without a name to go with a claim, there are no consequences for sources (or journalists, for that matter) simply lying to further their agenda. Hersh, therefore, is implicitly asking readers to trust his credibility and his judgment. Moreover, Hersh’s sources are government and intelligence insiders. Part of their role is placing false or inaccurate information into the public domain to further the state’s agenda. Journalistically speaking, then, anonymous government or intelligence officials are about the least credible sources imaginable.

Nevertheless, it seems clear that, given Washington’s war on whistleblowers, no source would ever publicly disclose this sort of information unless they were ready to risk decades in prison. Therefore, they could reasonably qualify for anonymity.

Greene took a nuanced position on the story’s credibility, stating,

Is everything Hersh alleged correct? While it would surprise me if there were evidence of any other power being behind the pipeline explosion – which would mean Hersh’s report is a complete fabrication – it would not be surprising if a few of Hersh’s details don’t line up, but that is common in journalism, and not always the result of bad faith or incompetence.

“The thing to remember is Hersh’s sources are in the world of military and intelligence. They will lie, exaggerate, obfuscate – and of course get things wrong by mistake,” Greene added, “But The compartmentalized nature of any bureaucracy – and the intelligence world especially – means that the full picture is sometimes murky, even to those considered to be ‘in the know.’ The fact that Hersh’s source knows so much detail is remarkable but certainly not implausible given the history of high-level leakers.”


If the United States did indeed sabotage Nord Stream II, it was one of the least well-hidden and most signposted attacks in history. The U.S. and NATO had, for years, publicly made clear that they were exploring options to stop the project.

A few weeks before the Russian invasion last February, Biden summoned German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the White House, where the president made him participate in a bizarre press conference in which Biden stated, “If Russia invades — that means tanks or troops crossing the border of Ukraine — then there will be no longer a Nord Stream II. We will bring an end to it.”

The event had the air of an adult chastising a misbehaving child, yet Biden was, in effect, telling Scholz to his face that his country’s infrastructure might face a U.S. attack.

To be fair to the president, he was merely repeating what many in his administration had been publicly saying for months. Both Victoria Nuland and State Department Spokesperson Ned Price had independently stated that “one way or another, Nord Stream II will not move forward.”

Likewise, after the attack, the U.S. barely tried to hide its satisfaction. “This is a tremendous opportunity,” Antony Blinken beamed. The Secretary of State continued,

It’s a tremendous opportunity to once and for all remove the dependence on Russian energy, and thus to take away from Vladimir Putin the weaponization of energy as a means of advancing his imperial designs. That’s very significant and that offers tremendous strategic opportunity.”

NordStream Pipeline feature photo
Police accompany a protest against sanctions on Russia while a banner with the inscription “Open Nordstream 2 immediately” is held, Sept 05, 2022. Sebastian Willnow | DPA via AP

Other prominent officials thought U.S. culpability for the blast was so obvious that they assumed that they would take credit for it rather than claim Russia carried out a false flag attack. Member of the European Parliament and former Foreign Minister of Poland, Radek Sikorski, for example, tweeted out a picture of the blast with the words “Thank you, USA.” Sikorski, married to U.S. national security state insider Anne Applebaum, later deleted his post.

For Greene, the United States is near the top of the list of potential culprits. As he explained,

The charge of U.S. complicity is supported by a good deal of circumstantial evidence: The clearest answer to the ‘cui bono’ [who benefits?] question is obviously the U.S. Even before Hersh’s reporting, German officials reportedly said they were open to the idea of Western complicity. So in that sense, Hersh’s reporting is in line with what we already know (and what the mainstream media refuses to seriously discuss).”

Certainly, Washington has significantly benefited from the explosion. Its major competitor (Russia) has been seriously economically weakened, and European purchases of expensive American liquified natural gas have more than doubled since last year. Norway, too, has gained from the blast and is now Germany’s principal supplier of gas, allowing it to make billions in profits.


Born in 1937 into a working-class Jewish immigrant family, Hersh cut his teeth as a crime reporter in early 1960s Chicago. He first came to national attention in 1969, however, when he exposed the massacre of hundreds of Vietnamese civilians by U.S. troops at My Lai – a scoop that won him the Pulitzer Prize. His revelations were far from welcome in establishment media, though, and he had to fight to get even a small startup newswire to take a chance on his story.

In 1974, Hersh again caused a national scandal after exposing a massive Nixon-era CIA spying operation targeting hundreds of thousands of left-wing activists, anti-war dissidents and other anti-establishment figures. Again, far from being heralded, the majority of the corporate press attempted to defend the national security state and discredit him and his reporting.

Thirty years later, he dropped yet another bombshell on the American public, exposing the U.S.’ widespread torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.

Whether it was reporting on the U.S.’ role in the 1973 coup in Chile or undermining the Obama administration’s claims on chemical weapons attacks in Syria, Hersh has courted controversy and attracted flak throughout his career. Yet his fearlessness has won him respect the world over. As journalist Glenn Greenwald stated,

Seymour Hersh is beyond any reasonable dispute one of the two or three most accomplished, important and courageous journalists of his generation. Very few journalists on the planet – and virtually none who still work inside the nation’s largest media corporations – can even get close to him when it comes to having broken more major, history-changing stories.”


It is for this reason that Hersh’s reporting is so important – and why corporate media’s steadfast refusal to cover it is so noteworthy. If Hersh is correct, the United States and Norway essentially attacked their supposed NATO allies, something that could have gigantic geopolitical implications. Article 5 of NATO’s treaty states that if a NATO member is attacked, then all other NATO members must defend said country. Several NATO members, including the United Kingdom and France, possess nuclear weapons.

Of course, NATO will not declare war on the United States, precisely because it is, since its very inception, an unequal alliance. As Lord Ismay, the organization’s first secretary general, explained, “NATO’s role is to keep the Russians out, the Germans down and the Americans in”. In other words, it is a U.S.-dominated confederation meant to stifle the pan-European project that sought to reorient the continent away from serving the U.S. and towards becoming an independent regional bloc.

While the culprit of the attacks still remains in doubt, many of the consequences are not.

Germans – like much of Europe – have had to endure freezing winters amid enormous fuel price spikes. The dearth of energy has helped spark double-digit inflation in Germany that has eroded the savings of tens of millions of people. Energy costs are causing vast numbers of businesses to permanently close and presents a crisis of competitiveness for European industry, which is struggling to compete with American and Asian manufacturers enjoying cheap fuel.

Moreover, huge numbers of European businesses are closing or reducing their domestic workforce in favor of moving production to the U.S., where, alongside cheaper energy costs, the Biden administration is offering them financial incentives to do so. The European Union has accused Washington of breaching World Trade Organization rules.

Thus, it could be said that the invasion of Ukraine has marked a turning point in geopolitical history, whereby the United States is not only carrying out a proxy war against Russia, but engaged in an economic war against the entirety of Europe. If Hersh’s Nord Stream story is true, it could send a shockwave throughout Europe and should cause long held beliefs about the nature of Europe’s relationship with the United States to be challenged. Therefore, given the massive negative consequences of all this for Washington, perhaps it is no surprise that the revelation will not be televised.

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

On ‘Prisoners of Conscience’ Who Fell Through the Cracks of EU Values

March 15, 2023

President of the Srebrenica Historical Project

Stephen Karganovic

A Spanish journalist has been rotting in a Polish prison for the past year. And nobody knew or cared, Stephen Karganovic writes.

Those who watched Duran associate Alex Christoforou’s podcast the other day [at 18 to 19:45 minutes] must have been as taken aback as I was by Alex’s revelation of the unsavoury fate of Spanish journalist Pablo Gonzales in European “values” stronghold Poland.

Gonzales, a Spanish (another “EU values” country) citizen, it turns out has been rotting in a Polish prison for the past year. Not a week, not a month or even a couple of months, but for just over a year. And nobody knew or cared. He is not being detained on any specific charges to which he could mount a legal defence. He is listed simply as “under investigation” for the somewhat vague offence of being an agent of Russia. If that is what indeed he is, so far it seems no judicially cognisable evidence to support such an allegation has been produced by the Polish authorities. After just over a year that Gonzales has been kept in prison, the Polish “investigation” has failed to turn up any incriminating facts that might form the basis for even a flimsy indictment. As a result, no charges have been filed and no trial is in prospect for Gonzales. As trite as that may sound, it is also disturbingly accurate: in the Europe that, with its gallant overseas allies, fights for democracy in Ukraine, European journalist Pablo Gonzales is languishing in a Kafkaesque predicament.

In his expose, Alex Christoforou asks the natural question, “Where is the Spanish government in all this?” [at 19:20 minutes]. The answer is bound to disillusion everyone who imagined that in situations such as this morality had any influence over political decisions. It all comes down to the odious principle of raison d’état. Spain has issues with Catalan and Basque troublemakers and is loath to create a precedent that would provide foreigners a pretext to meddle in the way it treats its prisoners. For Spain the convenient solution therefore is to downplay the incarceration in Poland of one of its own citizens and hope that no one will notice.

Thankfully, Alex Christoforou did. And he informs us that since February of last year, in Poland, Spanish and EU citizen Gonzales has been kept in solitary confinement in an EU country, his wife and children have been denied all but a few brief visits, his lawyer’s efforts to communicate with his client have been systematically thwarted, and that, scandalously, the prisoner has been left essentially without consular protection. The Spanish government has signalled its disinterest to Gonzales’ Polish jailers.

As for the international media silence, broken belatedly by Christoforou, it has been shameful. It would perhaps be too bold to expect a moral colossus like Greta Thunberg to bother taking up Gonzales’ cause, but how about Amnesty International? This sordid case, replete with human rights violations of every imaginable sort, would seem to be right up their alley. On the AI website we read the following unctuous lines: “Amnesty International is a global movement of people fighting injustice and promoting human rights … Amnesty International finds the facts, exposes what’s happening, and rallies people together to force governments and others to respect everyone’s human rights.” Well Amnesty, do something then.

Pablo Gonzales would undoubtedly appreciate a smidgeon of attention and support from a Nobel Prize winning human rights conglomerate such as Amnesty International. A quick check of the AI website, however, while producing an appeal for financial donations laced with a tear-jerking reminder that “after one year, Russian missiles are STILL raining down on families and children in Ukraine . .. Help us document human rights violations and war crimes – your gift will be matched,” does not mention Pablo Gonzales. And what was that about “after one year”? Ukrainian missiles have been raining down indiscriminately on families and children (it is a moot point whether Ukrainian or Russian, all the victims are human beings); not, however, since last year but since 2014, and at last count killing about 15,000 people. But Amnesty International’s eagle eyed human rights monitors missed that, just as they missed the plight of NATO and EU Poland’s prisoner of conscience, Pablo Gonzales.

It turns out that Pablo’s case is not unique.

In Serbia, there is another “prisoner of conscience” and hardly anyone has heard of him, either. He is also a journalist, like Pablo Gonzales, and is similarly doing time without any charges or judicial procedure. His name is Dejan Zlatanovic and he is rotting not in an EU but a Balkan dungeon. True, unlike Poland Serbia is not a part of EU and strictly speaking is not obligated to adhere to EU “values,” whatever they are. But as an aspiring EU member, it could at least try. Unfortunately, as the treatment of Zlatanovic shows, it is trying and succeeding remarkably well, except not by adhering to those values in beautiful theory but by copy-pasting the deplorable Polish practice.

In essence, what happened in Serbia is the following. On February 15, 2023, Serbian police arrested Dejan Zlatanovic, editor of internet news portal Srbin-Info, for a remark he made at a protest rally in Belgrade. Denouncing the possibility that government officials might sign an agreement to recognize the secession of Kosovo, and under the naïve impression that public expression of his views was constitutionally protected speech, Zlatanovic remarked: “Whoever signs is sure to be killed.” The reference was to an entirely reasonable apprehension shared by many Serbs, both those who attended the rally and those who did not. They suspect that high government officials are preparing to sign off on a European “peace” plan which requires Serbia to recognize the secession of NATO occupied Kosovo, considered the heart of Serbian identity, culture, and spirituality.

Both in the original and in translation, Zlatanovic’s remark was general and did not mention any political functionary by name. Furthermore, even on the strictest reading it could not even remotely be framed as a threat, imminent or implied. Rather, it contemplated the possible outcome of a hypothetical action. To anyone with a legal background, that much is clear. But for saying publicly only that and no more, as he was being arrested Zlatanovic was beaten to a pulp by the police, which cared not for the fact that he is a congenitally handicapped person.

The actual moments of Zlatanovic’s arrest can be heard in a mostly audio recording where he screams in anguish “Vucic’s thugs are kidnapping me!

Zlatanovic has been kept in detention ever since. Apparently being applied is the “values” manual from the Gonzales case. No formal charges have been filed. Zlatanovic’s open ended incarceration was decreed on the basis of police authorities’ gratuitous interpretation that his statement constituted a direct threat to assassinate the country’s President and to violently overthrow the government. So far, a month into the illegal detention, no court hearing to present charges and air the evidence has been held, so it is uncertain what Serbian judges, who presumably do have some legal training, might have to say about the police interpretation of the prisoner’s words.

But is anyone listening? Another quick check reveals that on the website of Amnesty International there is no record of Dejan Zlatanovic or comment about his case.

The operational similarities that connect these two cases of human rights abuse are striking and they do no honour to the governments involved, the “values” hypocritically invoked, or the international advocacy organizations pretending not to notice.

Russia Finally Admits to Destroying NATO’s Deep Underground Command Bunker in Kiev

According to Pronews , “dozens of NATO officers” were killed in a “terrifying strike” by a Mach 12 missile.

March 14, 2023

By  Jonas E. Alexis, Senior Editor

As reported on March 12 by the Greek portal of political and military information Pronews, citing American sources, in the course of an operation to retaliate for a provocation in the Bryansk region, a Russian hypersonic missile “Dagger” struck at a joint Ukrainian-NATO command and communications center.

According to Pronews , “dozens of NATO officers” were killed in a “terrifying strike” by a Mach 12 missile. In all likelihood, we are talking about the defeat of the “shadow General Staff” of NATO in Ukraine. The secret underground bunker, built at a depth of 400 feet (120 meters), housed several NATO officers (retired) and advisers. In total, more than 300 people. To date, according to the portal, 40 people have been pulled out from under the rubble of the underground headquarters, but most of those who died under the rubble have not yet been found.

It is not known, the portal continues, exactly how many Western citizens and how many Ukrainians were killed as a result of the “Dagger” strike. “Most of them, ”  according to Pronews, “are British and Poles, but there were also Americans and representatives of private companies that support communication and data transmission. In the coming days, it will be seen to what extent this will affect the conduct of Ukrainian and Western operations and attempts to stop the final phase of the Russian offensive on Bakhmut.

“This, ” says Pronews, “is the first such large-scale strike against the military personnel of NATO countries, and it is not known how the Western capitals will react to this, although in the event of a reaction, it would be like recognizing the active participation of military personnel in the war against Russia.”

According to the official representative of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov, the bases of attack drones have been destroyed, the transfer of reserves and rail transportation of foreign weapons have been disrupted, and production facilities for the repair of military equipment and the production of ammunition have been disabled.

According to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Zaluzhny, on the consequences of the Russian strike on Ukrainian targets on the night of March 8-9, the Russian side fired 81 missiles, including Kh-47 Kinzhal, X-22, Kh-101 / Kh-555, as well as 8 Geranium UAVs. According to Zelensky, “it was a hard night”; as observers noted, while the president of Ukraine looked like a beaten dog.

The statements of Ukrainian officials say nothing about the defeat of the NATO bunker and the death of Western military personnel. However, information is circulating in Ukrainian publics that on March 9, a delegation of the General Staff of Ukraine visited the American embassy in Kiev, as it is supposed, in order to transfer the lists of the Americans who died during the strike.

“The use of hypersonic missiles has heightened U.S. anxiety and demonstrated that Russia has a hard-to-intercept nuclear-capable weapon,” the Washington Post said . The United States has not yet been able to develop its own missiles with similar characteristics, which makes Western countries even more vulnerable, the authors of the material concluded.

Kinzhal is the latest Russian system with hypersonic aeroballistic missiles carried by specially equipped MiG-31K interceptors. The missile has low radar visibility and high maneuverability and is designed to destroy land and sea targets. The Kinzhal complexes have been on experimental combat duty in the RF Armed Forces since December 2017. Officially, the first combat use of these missiles took place on March 18, 2022 during the SVO.

As Yuriy Ignat, spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force command, said, “we cannot yet counteract these missiles, they fly along a ballistic trajectory. We have no means against them . “

Tests last year of an American hypersonic missile in Hawaii ended in failure due to launch problems, Bloomberg reported , citing a statement by the US Department of Defense.

The Russian military launched a missile strike against Ukrainian infrastructure facilities with a wide variety of missiles and aerial drones, destroying NATO’s secret headquarters in Ukraine, WarFiles reports.
According to Ukraine, the attacks were carried out with thousands:

  • X-47 Kinzhal (“Dagger”),
  • X-22,
  • X-101 / X-555,
  • UAV “Geran”.

In Ukraine, they immediately reported that 34 missiles were allegedly shot down, and eight “as a result of an organized response did not hit their targets.”

This is doubtful even for the Ukrainians themselves, who see the thousands flying through the windows. Citizens believe that the air defense “if they were able to shoot down something in the attempt, at most a couple of them.”

Russia uses Kinzhals hypersonic missiles in massive attacks on Ukraine in retaliation for Ukrainian terror in Bryansk

Ukrainian (and even American) air defense cannot shoot down the “Dagger” at an altitude of 20 km, and after the missile gains altitude, it falls at high speed on the target and nothing can be done about it.

“In fact, the attack hit control and planning centers in bunkers, as well as air defense/radar stations. Heavy losses of officers, including Americans, were recorded. It seems that NATO’s proxy “Shadow Staff” got quite a bit,” the authors of “Military Materials” write.

After that, according to the publication, representatives of the Ukrainian General Staff came to the US Embassy, ​​most likely to transfer the lists of the dead.

It is also known about the hits on the IRIS and NASAMS air defense systems, which were powered by dummy missiles and were destroyed by the X-men flying after them. Almost immediately, public sites that posted this information were blocked.

The head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy, German Galushchenko, separately admitted that the missile attack damaged at least three thermal power plants. In fact, energy and military installations in up to 12 regions came under heavy fire.


US Foreign Policy Goes “Woke”?

Regime change in store for cultural conservatives?

MARCH 7, 2023


By Philip Giraldi

It is generally observed that imperial powers like the United States frequently interfere in foreign governments in support of economic or hard political reasons. To be sure, Washington has refined the process so it can plausibly deny that it is interfering at all, that the change is spontaneous and comes from the people and institutions in the country that is being targeted for change. One recalls how handing out cookies in Maidan Square in Kiev served as an incentive wrapped around a publicity stunt to bring about regime change in Ukraine in 2014 when Senator John McCain and the State Department’s Victoria Nuland were featured performers in a $5 billion investment by the US government to topple the friendly-to-Russia regime of President Viktor Yanukovych. Of course, change for the sake of a short-term objective might not always be the best way to go and one might suggest that the success in bringing in a new government acceptable to Nuland has not really turned out that well for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, nor for those Americans who understand that the Biden Administration’s pledge to arm Ukraine and stay in the fight against Russia “as long as it takes” just might not be very good for the United States either.

And the United States continues to be at it, meddling in what was once regarded as something like a war crime, though it now prefers to conceal what it is up to by preaching “democracy” and wrapping the message in “woke-ish progressivism” at every opportunity. An interesting recent trip by a senior government official that was not reported in the mainstream media suggests that the game is still afoot in Eastern Europe. The early February visitor was Samantha Power, currently head of USAID, and a familiar figure from the Barack Obama Administration, where she served as Ambassador to the United Nations and was a dedicated liberal interventionist involved in the Libya debacle as well as various other wars started by that estimable Nobel Peace Prize recipient after he had received his award. The Obama attack on Syria has been sustained until this day, with several American military bases continuing to function on Syrian territory, stealing the country’s oil and agricultural produce.

USAID was founded in 1961 and it was intended to serve as a vehicle for nurturing democratic government and associated civic institutions among nations that had little or no experience in popular government. That role has become less relevant as nation states have evolved and the organization itself has responded by becoming more assertive in its role, pushing policies that have coincided with US foreign policy objectives. This has led some host nations to close down USAID offices. Within the US government itself, participants in foreign policy formulation often observe that USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) now are largely in the business of doing what the CIA used to do, i.e. interfering in local politics by supporting opposition parties and other dissident or even terrorist groups. Both organizations were very active in Ukraine in 2014 and served as conduits for money transfers to the opposition parties and those who were hostile to Russia’s influence for “democracy building.”

Samantha Power, who is married to another Democratic Party affiliated power broker, lawyer Cass Sunstein, traveled to Hungary on her diplomatic passport but took pains to cover her travel as a routine bureaucratic visit to an overseas post. Hungary is undeniably a democracy, is a member of the European Union, and also of NATO, but Power reportedly did not clear the travel with the Hungarian government and apparently did not meet with any government officials, even as a courtesy. She tweeted that her visit was to reestablish USAID in the Hungarian capital, “Great to be here in Budapest with @USAmbHungary where @USAID just relaunched new, locally-driven initiatives to help independent media thrive and reach new audiences, take on corruption and increase civic engagement.”

By “independent media” Power clearly meant that the US will be directly supporting opposition press that is anti-government and which embraces the globalist-progressive view currently favored by the White House. A US Embassy press release on the visit revealed that Power was in town as part of a project to relaunch seven USAID programs throughout Eastern Europe. It did not elaborate on the “corruption” that Power intended to address, which, of course, would have been a direct insult to the local governments wherever she intended to visit, nor did the document reveal that many of the groups that will be supported are likely to be affiliated with “globalist” George Soros.

In Budapest, Samantha Power did indeed meet with opposition political figures and civil organizations and groups, with particular emphasis on the homosexual community including “Joined @divaDgiV, @andraslederer, and @viki radvanyi for lunch in Budapest where we spoke about their work to advocate for LGBTQI+ rights and dignity in Hungary and around the world @budapestpride” as described in one of her tweeted messages after arrival. Power was also accompanied throughout by the highly controversial US Ambassador David Pressman, who is openly homosexual, of course, married to a man, and who has been highly critical of the conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government, which was reelected in 2022 by a landslide margin in a vote that was considered free and fair. Orban is disliked by Joe Biden’s Washington because he is conservative and a nationalist, not because he is incompetent or dishonest while Pressman was and is a perfect example of the Biden State Department sending a terrible fit as ambassador to an extremely conservative country just to make points with the gay community in the US. Pressman has persisted in telling Hungarians how to behave not only on foreign policy but also on sexual diversity and cultural issues and, for his efforts, was finally told to “shut up” by Hungary’s Foreign Minister.

To be sure, Hungary’s undeniably democratic government, which is politically and economically tied to Washington, does not support the United States-led strategy to prolong and even escalate the Russia-Ukraine war and will not contribute to arming Ukraine. It does not accept “globalist” open immigration that seeks to challenge the established national culture, and also opposes same-sex marriage on religious grounds. It does not allow LGBTQ material to be presented to minors in state schools, which it considers to be morally correct anti-pedophilia legislation. For that reason, the time was clearly right, in the “woke” view of the Biden Administration, for Samantha Power to show up with a little dose of regime change in her portfolio. Hungarian officials had already expressed their concern over what they consider extreme pressure coming from the United States, largely because Hungary is a conservative country that values its culture and political independence. The visit by Power sent a signal to the Hungarian government and people that the pressure will likely increase and that Washington will not hesitate to use its embassies and overseas military bases to actively support groups that promote views that are not generally embraced by the local populations.

The Samantha Power story is of interest, to be sure, because it demonstrates that since the United States is the self-appointed enforcer of the “rules based international order” nothing in the world is off limits. Far too many US politicians and media pundits think that other states are not really sovereign and have to submit to US dictates in everything, and if they dare to step out of line they can be punished. If a conservative Christian country or leader – by which one might include Hungary, Russia or Brazil – believes that homosexuality or even abortion on demand are morally objectionable the US now believes that it has a mandate to use federal government resources to change that perception including by actively engaging with a foreign nation and its government on its own soil. To put it bluntly, the United States must certainly be considered the world leader in compelling all nations to conform to the political and moral values that it insists be adhered to.

So if one wants to learn why US Foreign Policy is so inept in terms of actually serving the interests of the American people, look no farther than was has happened and continues to roil in Ukraine as well as the implications of the Samantha Power visit to Hungary. For Foreign Service Posts, providing support for the agendas of the collection of freak shows that make up the Democratic Party has become manifestly as or even more important than promoting genuine national interests overseas or assisting American businesses and travelers.

What is perhaps most interesting is the way the “woke” foreign policy is being largely concealed from the American public and is being run as some kind of stealth operation. One initiative run by USAID in Macedonia in 2016 under President Obama included a $300,000 grant for “suitable” Macedonian applicants to “fund” a program entitled “LGBTI Inclusion” to counter how “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons continue to suffer discrimination and homophobic media content, both online and offline… Considerable efforts are still needed to raise awareness of and respect for diversity within society and to counter intolerance.” How many American taxpayers would be happy to learn that their hard-earned money has been going to support programs run in nonconsenting foreign democracies to make them more “woke?” Of course, no one in the Biden Administration is telling the public about it, nor is the story likely to appear in the mainstream media, so presumably no one will know!

The Valdai meeting: Where West Asia meets multipolarity

March 04 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle

At Russia’s Valdai Club meeting – the east’s answer to Davos – intellectuals and influencers gathered to frame West Asia’s current and future developments.

Pepe Escobar is a columnist at The Cradle, editor-at-large at Asia Times and an independent geopolitical analyst focused on Eurasia. Since the mid-1980s he has lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Singapore and Bangkok. He is the author of countless books; his latest one is Raging Twenties.

By Pepe Escobar

The 12th “Middle East Conference” at the Valdai Club in Moscow offered a more than welcome cornucopia of views on interconnected troubles and tribulations affecting the region.

But first, an important word on terminology – as only one of Valdai’s guests took the trouble to stress. This is not the “Middle East” – a reductionist, Orientalist notion devised by old colonials: at The Cradle we emphasize the region must be correctly described as West Asia.

Some of the region’s trials and tribulations have been mapped by the official Valdai report, The Middle East and The Future of Polycentric World.  But the intellectual and political clout of those in attendance can provide valuable anecdotal insights too. Here are a few of the major strands participants highlighted on regional developments, current and future:

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov set the stage by stressing that Kremlin policy encourages the formation of an “inclusive regional security system.” That’s exactly what the Americans refused to discuss with the Russians in December 2021, then applied to Europe and the post-Soviet space. The result was a proxy war.

Kayhan Barzegar of Islamic Azad University in Iran qualified the two major strategic developments affecting West Asia: a possible US retreat and a message to regional allies: “You cannot count on our security guarantees.”

Every vector – from rivalry in the South Caucasus to the Israeli normalization with the Persian Gulf – is subordinated to this logic, notes Barzegar, with quite a few Arab actors finally understanding that there now exists a margin of maneuver to choose between the western or the non-western bloc.

Barzegar does not identify Iran-Russia ties as a strategic alliance, but rather a geopolitical, economic bloc based on technology and regional supply chains – a “new algorithm in politics” – ranging from weapons deals to nuclear and energy cooperation, driven by Moscow’s revived southern and eastward orientations. And as far as Iran-western relations go, Barzegar still believes the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran nuclear deal, is not dead. A least not yet.

‘Nobody knows what these rules are’

Egyptian Ramzy Ramzy, until 2019 the UN Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, considers the reactivation of relations between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE with Syria as the most important realignment underway in the region. Not to mention prospects for a Damascus-Ankara reconciliation. “Why is this happening? Because of the regional security system’s dissatisfaction with the present,” Ramzy explains.

Yet even if the US may be drifting away, “neither Russia nor China are willing to take up a leadership role,” he says. At the same time, Syria “cannot be allowed to fall prey to outside interventions. The earthquake at least accelerated these rapprochements.”

Bouthaina Shaaban, a special advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is a remarkable woman, fiery and candid. Her presence at Valdai was nothing short of electric. She stressed how “since the US war in Vietnam, we lost what we witnessed as free media. The free press has died.” At the same time “the colonial west changed its methods,” subcontracting wars and relying on local fifth columnists.

Shaaban volunteered the best short definition anywhere of the “rules-based international order”: “Nobody knows what these rules are, and what this order is.”

She re-emphasized that in this post-globalization period that is ushering in regional blocs, the usual western meddlers prefer to use non-state actors – as in Syria and Iran – “mandating locals to do what the US would like to do.”

A crucial example is the US al-Tanf military base that occupies sovereign Syrian territory on two critical borders. Shaaban calls the establishment of this base as “strategic, for the US to prevent regional cooperation, at the Iraq, Jordan, and Syria crossroads.” Washington knows full well what it is doing: unhampered trade and transportation at the Syria-Iraq border is a major lifeline for the Syrian economy.

Reminding everyone once again that “all political issues are connected to Palestine,” Shaaban also offered a healthy dose of gloomy realism: “The eastern bloc has not been able to match the western narrative.”

A ‘double-layered proxy war’

Cagri Erhan, rector of Altinbas University in Turkey, offered a quite handy definition of a Hegemon: the one who controls the lingua franca, the currency, the legal setting, and the trade routes.

Erhan qualifies the current western hegemonic state of play as “double-layered proxy war” against, of course, Russia and China. The Russians have been defined by the US as an “open enemy” – a major threat. And when it comes to West Asia, proxy war still rules: “So the US is not retreating,” says Erhan. Washington will always consider using the area “strategically against emerging powers.”

Then what about the foreign policy priorities of key West Asian and North African actors?

Algerian political journalist Akram Kharief, editor of the online MenaDefense, insists Russia should get closer to Algeria, “which is still in the French sphere of influence,” and be wary of how the Americans are trying to portray Moscow as “a new imperial threat to Africa.”

Professor Hasan Unal of Maltepe University in Turkiye made it quite clear how Ankara finally “got rid of its Middle East [West Asian] entanglements,” when it was previously “turning against everybody.”

Mid-sized powers such as Turkiye, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are now stepping to the forefront of the region’s political stage. Unal notes how “Turkiye and the US don’t see eye to eye on any issue important to Ankara.” Which certainly explains the strengthening of Turkish-Russian ties – and their mutual interest in introducing “multi-faceted solutions” to the region’s problems.

For one, Russia is actively mediating Turkiye-Syria rapprochement. Unal confirmed that the Syrian and Turkish foreign ministers will soon meet in person – in Moscow – which will represent the highest-ranking direct engagement between the two nations since the onset of the Syrian war. And that will pave the way for a tripartite summit between Assad, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Note that the big regional reconciliations are being held – once again – either in, or with the participation of Moscow, which can rightfully be described as the capital of the 21st century multipolar world.

When it comes to Cyprus, Unal notes how “Russia would not be interested in a unified state that would be EU and NATO territory.” So it’s time for “creative ideas: as Turkey is changing its Syria policy, Russia should change its Cyprus policy.”

Dr. Gong Jiong, from the Israeli campus of China’s University of International Business and Economics, came up with a catchy neologism: the “coalition of the unwilling” – describing how “almost the whole Global South is not supporting sanctions on Russia,” and certainly none of the players in West Asia.

Gong noted that as much as China-Russia trade is rising fast – partly as a direct consequence of western sanctions – the Americans would have to think twice about China-hit sanctions. Russia-China trade stands at $200 billion a year, after all, while US-China trade is a whopping $700 billion per annum.

The pressure on the “neutrality camp” won’t relent anyway. What is needed by the world’s “silent majority,” as Gong defines it, is “an alliance.” He describes the 12-point Chinese peace plan for Ukraine as “a set of principles” – Beijing’s base for serious negotiations: “This is the first step.”

There will be no new Yalta

What the Valdai debates made crystal clear, once again, is how Russia is the only actor capable of approaching every player across West Asia, and be listened to carefully and respectfully.

It was left to Anwar Abdul-Hadi, director of the political department of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the latter’s official envoy to Damascus, to arguably sum up what led to the current global geopolitical predicament: “A new Yalta or a new world war? They [the west] chose war.”

And still, as new geopolitical and geoeconomic fault lines keep emerging, it is as though West Asia is anticipating something “big” coming ahead. That feeling was palpable in the air at Valdai.

To paraphrase Yeats, and updating him to the young, turbulent 21st century, “what rough beast, its hour come out at last, slouches towards the cradle [of civilization] to be born?

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

No Schengen Visas for the Syrian Republican Guards Corps!



The European Union imposed ‘sanctions’ on the Syrian Republican Guards Corps depriving the Corps entity of enjoying their ‘Garden’ or any part of it, the EU’s latest batch of sanctions against Syria and other entities and individuals were issued on the 7th of March.

Henceforth, the Syrian Republican Guards Corps investments and assets in the European Union countries will be frozen, ie stolen, and the Corps cannot enter any country of the Block.

The Republican Guards Corps in Syria does not have a budget separate from the Syrian Defense Ministry, and neither have any assets in any of the EU countries!

French state propaganda outlet France 24 stated in a post yesterday 7th March quoted European Union diplomats about the latest batch of sanctions that included other entities and individuals from 6 different countries that the EU has been constantly barking at on behalf of Washington, Russia, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Iran, and Syria.

The so-called diplomatic sources quoted by the propaganda outlet France 24 claimed the sanctions imposed on 9 individuals and 3 entities are related to violence against women!

The despicably corrupt garden of the European Union chose the eve of International Women’s Day to drive home its arrogance, supremacy, and cynicism. Prior to the terrorist NATO Spring launched against Syria in March 2011, femicide and sexual violence against women were unheard of in the SAR.

Such gender-based horrors against Syrian women are gifts from European Union and other NATO criminals.

The French propaganda outlet did not tell how the Syrian Republican Guards Corps exactly mistreat women, which women, where, and when they allegedly mistreated those women.

Here’s a refresher about women in the Syrian Arab Army, the Republican Guards Corps Women Battalion in particular, and the Syrian National Defense Forces of women volunteers:

The video is also available on Rumble, and BitChute.
Syrian Arab Army Republican Guards Corps Women Battalion
Syrian Arab Army Republican Guards Corps Women Battalion
Syrian Arab Army Republican Guards Corps Women Battalion

Furthermore, and this is very important, neither the French propaganda publication nor the diplomats it quoted defined what is a woman in this batch of sanctions.

This EU PR stunt is for the only purpose of demonizing the most effective force of the Syrian Arab Army combating ISIS (ISIL – Daesh) in Syria and defending the Syrian people, more than half of who are real women from the head-chopper terrorists funded, armed, trained, and sponsored by no other than the member countries of the ‘Garden’, sorry the EU block.

Syria News is a collaborative effort by two authors only, we end up most of the months paying from our pockets to maintain the site’s presence online, if you like our work and want us to remain online you can help by chipping in a couple of Euros/ Dollars or any other currency so we can meet our site’s costs.


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Lessons Learned from First Year of The Ukrainian War

March 8, 2023

By Dr. Hosam Matar | Al-Akhbar Newspaper

Translated by Staff

1.Developing a decision-making system is part of the war

The Russian operation in Ukraine was an additional evidence that major countries possess highly specialized institutions and agencies with substantial resources in security, intelligence, politics and research, could engage in uncalculated adventures. The most recent examples are associated with the United States in its wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq. These mistakes occur as a result of an inherent flaw in the decision-making process, resulting from pressure from the domestic sphere (severe divisions and major crises), or due to flaws in decision-making rules or relationships between the decision-makers. This flaw results in distortion in conclusions, assessments, and expectations, which push these countries towards choices based on incorrect assumptions. In addition, major powers sometimes suffer from excessive confidence or excessive fears linked to their history, glory, image, pride, belief in their material capabilities, broad definitions of their interests, and permanent readiness to seize the imagined opportunities.

The US policy in Ukraine was based on the concept of aggressive realism to achieve dominance and use Ukraine to contain Russia in its vital and historical sphere. This is seen by Russia as an ideal recipe for eliminating the Russian nation and its message. Therefore, Moscow had no choice but to stop the American project in Ukraine, which became active in 2014. However, the Russian strategy to achieve this was built on wrong assumptions, including underestimating the American incentive to stop the deterioration of the Western alliance and its institutional capabilities in defense and diplomacy, the lack of accurate knowledge of the development of the Ukrainian military force and the firmness of Ukrainian nationalism, which was reshaped on the basis of hatred for Russia through a Western-sponsored comprehensive and systematic process. And thus, Putin estimated that he would launch a special limited operation against a weak and isolated system, but he found himself in a wide-scale war against NATO as a whole.

The lesson learned here is that in a highly complex and intertwined world, those who want to engage in complex conflicts and competitions must improve their decision-making system to ensure sufficient information knowledge and the ability to process it systematically and comprehensively, to learn rapidly, and to recognize the ideological limits. Only then, taking the risk at the appropriate time is ok. Problems that affect the domestic policy or the structure of the political player may be reflected in the efficiency of managing conflicts and competitions, making it easier for opponents to practice deception and enticement. Maintaining, developing, and improving your system requires costly or sometimes risky measures [such as stimulating competitions within the political system], but it is part of the confrontation strategy.

2.The US is waking up, but at noon!

In the first year of the war, American performance was significantly efficient, whether in marshalling the West or strengthening the Ukrainian confrontational capabilities, restricting Russia’s options or managing the international arena. The United States, though in a historical decline, still has differential features in several fields. However, the focal point here is that Washington is making every possible effort to try to launch a historical awakening in which all its power drivers are mobilized, due to the consensus of the US elite that the country’s position in the global system is facing an exceptional test that feeds on the high levels of domestic turmoil. Washington experienced this awakening at the end of the 1960s when it realized the extent of the Soviet technological progress and the catastrophic possibilities it could have on the struggle of the two nuclear powers. Therefore, Washington had no choice but to avoid losing the Ukrainian war, as it was at the beginning of a long-term fierce competition with China in an updated version of the Cold War.

The governing establishment in Washington is struggling to achieve a comprehensive US amplification in foreign policy in the next few years, which includes accelerating the building of deterrent military capabilities, enhancing international partnerships and integration, attempting to infiltrate the Southern countries, mobilizing the elements of internal power, and restoring and maintaining the institutions of the current international system. This is a difficult task, as the escalating internal divisions in the US, if not controlled by the US establishment, are most evident in the turmoil of the US foreign policy, and the international arena is witnessing structural shifts that are difficult to contain. 

From what can be gained from this, is a precise understanding of the current American situation in its historical moment. We should not exaggerate the rapidness of its decline or estimate that it is losing the initiative, nor should we be driven by its apparent momentum to ignore its structural problems. In our region, Washington wants to avoid major wars, but with intense efforts to harness the Axis of Resistance and the swinging countries within its grand strategy to confront the Chinese challenge.

However, it wants the factor of time to be in its favor by building a system of allies and undermining the resistance system through: (1) military deterrence so that it can practice (2) suffocation and (3) infiltration while reducing the possibility of a wide-scale escalation as a result. Based on this estimation, the forces of resistance continue to build unparalleled and precise military capabilities enhanced by technology, while raising the combat spirit, cultural mobilization, and developing margins of maneuver and field risk-taking. However, the US remains in urgent need of a major awakening in the areas of compound/gray zone warfare, i.e., information campaigns, soft power, economy, cyber, and political warfare. This awakening requires flexibility and boldness in looking at the structure of the Axis of Resistance system in terms of institutional efficiency, rules of operating, inter-agency cooperation, decision-making mechanisms, production of elites and ideas, maintenance of popular legitimacy, networking of interests, and strengthening common identity elements…etc.

3.The rebellion of the southern countries: a divided world

While Washington succeeded in mobilizing the Western camp, it was surprised that the so-called Global South countries, including the emerging powers, defied following the US policy and kept their relationships with Russia, although they expressed an initial rejection of the war in Ukraine. Countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, India, Iran, Pakistan, and the UAE continued to cooperate with Russia in vital issues of mutual interests (armament, energy, and evading sanctions). Similarly, global opinion polls showed high support for both China and Russia in the vast majority of the Global South countries. The Ukrainian war revealed the concentration of raw materials, energy, food sources, and precious metals in the southern countries and the dependence of a large part of the global supply chains on them. This was one of the motives of the recent American rush towards Africa and the reaffirmation of its security commitment in the Gulf region. 

Cambridge University recently addressed a large number of surveys [covering 137 countries] to conclude that the world is sharply divided between a majority that strongly supports Russia and China in “non-liberal” countries [6.3 billion people] and a majority that strongly opposes them in liberal democracies [1.2 billion people]. The effects of this emerged during the Munich Security Conference [February 2023], where Western powers showed concern over the positions of the Global South countries, which seem to be frustrated with the international system that ignores their interests and is characterized by double standards and the pursuit of hegemony. Russia and China take advantage of this position to network economically and spread their political narratives. Therefore, recommendations were issued to listen to the concerns of the Global South countries and enhance cooperation with them in face of the economic, developmental, and health challenges, as well as reforming international institutions to grant some of these countries consolation prizes.

The increasing numbers of “swinging” countries that are seeking economic benefits, reclaiming their vital areas, or stabilizing their political systems in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, generate opportunities for the anti-US system forces [especially those who possess natural resources or important geostrategic positions or large markets] for regional cooperation, joint projects, and evading the sanctions systems [through local currency exchange, bartering, or selling at discounted prices]. The continuation of this trend of detaching interests between the Western system and the rising and developing world countries enables the emergence of alternative sharing systems [economic, financial, developmental, and political] that will accelerate, if successful, the transformation of the international environment to create an alternative to the post-Cold War system. 

4.Washington is unable to divide its rivals.

Perhaps one of the incentives behind the Russian decision to assume that the issue would not require more than a special military operation, is that Moscow believed that Washington would find a major interest in the limited objection to the Russian operation to keep Moscow away from China. In any case, it appears that Washington preferred to strike rather than satisfy Moscow based on the principle of starting with the weakest opponent when facing two adversaries. Similarly, in the case of Iran, the American approach reduced the space for negotiation and settlement, pushing Tehran towards deeper alignment with the East. What is driving Washington in this direction is that the incentives for the opposing forces to confront it are high and all of them sense that they are facing a historical turning point that they will not give up on and will not be tempted by “the poisoned carrots.”

This is a debatable point in the US, where some criticize the Biden administration’s approach for ignoring that, apart from the common position of hostility towards Washington, the interests of the three powers are not homogeneous and that it is better to neutralize the weakest and isolate China. While the approach of the US administration believes that none of the three powers should be tolerated so that Washington can regain its credibility with its allies in Europe, the Pacific, and the Middle East and be able to enhance a binary narrative of the world, dictatorship/democracy or pro-/against- international system, as a necessary condition for rebuilding its world alliances that began to disintegrate after the war on Iraq in 2003. In this context, Washington is making efforts to isolate opponents from supply chains, especially in sensitive sectors, and is accelerating the energy isolation of Europe from Russia, to erase any form of Western dependence on the rising powers in all possible fields.

However, Washington is working hard to weaken the ties between these countries. It is exerting concentrated efforts and pressures [deterrence through intimidation, warning, and information campaigns] to prevent China from providing Russia with a clear aid. Then, it can use this to weaken China’s image as a rising international power that can be relied upon. From this viewpoint, the amount of Western anger over Russia’s use of Iranian drones, apart from its tactical impact, is related to concerns about the success of tests of networking and partnership between these forces.

Likewise, pressure is mounting to keep Chinese companies away from the markets of swinging countries through smear campaigns [unjust Chinese debts], threatening with sanctions, questioning the feasibility, and tempting with alternatives. Strengthening cooperation between countries and forces hostile to Washington should be built on an understanding of the limits of common interests, developing what can be mutual benefits, enhancing forms of communication and dialogue through bilateral and multilateral frameworks and institutions, especially regarding political, economic, financial, and technological alternatives, making the necessary compromises, and accumulating success stories.

The Western alliance’s ferocity in imposing sanctions on Russia may have pushed other forces to be cautious, but it has also revealed to them that rising from within the structure of the existing international system is doomed to fail.

5.The militarization of the Western alliance

The Ukrainian war represented a golden opportunity for Washington to push its allies around the world towards rebuilding their military capabilities and allowing it to redeploy and expand within their own countries as it sees fit. A comprehensive militarization process was launched near China for the Pacific region, including Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan. In Europe, Germany returned to arming itself, and many European countries increased the scopes allocated to military spending from their national budgets, while Washington strengthened its military presence in Eastern Europe. In the Middle East, Washington launched a series of initiatives for military and security networking and integration, especially in the naval and missile fields, coinciding with the inclusion of the ‘Israeli’ entity in the US Central Command. Whatever the outcome of the war, Washington will be keen to rebuild Ukraine – or what is left of it – especially militarily, security, and economically, to become a sustainable vital challenge for Russia, making it just a regional power unable to initiate internationally. There are also calls for the establishment of a new Warsaw Pact that includes Poland and the Baltic States in addition to Ukraine.

This path aims to enhance the US deterrence against international competitors to prevent them from developing their interests and influence and restrict their ability to respond to the US attempts of tightening and infiltration. It also aims to militarily align with allies and reestablish stability in the swinging countries. The war has revealed a significant decline in the West’s capabilities in the military industry, which is finally evident in the decrease in ammunition supplies to the Ukrainian forces. This has prompted Washington and Moscow to redirect a portion of civilian manufacturing efforts towards the military field. This direction will impose severe pressures on the economies of the countries of the Western alliance that may trigger internal divisions, as well as revive historical fears among these countries, especially with the prevailing waves of nationalism.

Although the war emphasized the significant advantages of technology in the military field, especially in intelligence gathering and analysis, precision ammunition [missiles, shells, and drones], efficient networking of operational arms and their integration, and strategic management, it also reaffirmed the vital importance of the efficiency and capabilities of fighters [especially field officers] and their skills in innovating field solutions and independent thinking when necessary. It also highlighted the need to deal with the enemy’s technological superiority [through intense dispersion, constant movement, expert concealment, and effective use of available asymmetrical technology at a reasonable cost] and fight within highly flexible, decentralized formations, in addition to high morale and spiritual incentives.

6.Nationalism is the last resort

The Ukrainian war confirmed the high advantages of mobilizing and investing the nationalist sentiment in geopolitical competitions. The new Ukrainian nationalism, which has emerged since 2014 under Western sponsorship, has enabled the rapid and cohesive construction of a socially solid military force, while at the same time the Russian nationalist sentiment is being fueled by the idea that there is a civilizational war that aims to uproot the Russian nation, which is still popularly fortified by President Putin despite his military forces’ modest performance. In the end, nationalism is portrayed as meaning the national sovereignty, popular will, and cultural and religious particularities, in contrast to a renewed Western colonial project that seeks to infiltrate countries, seize their decisions, and destroy their cultural and civilizational elements, in order to subjugate them and seize their wealth. By the way, many Western newspapers in recent years have criticized the rising Nazi trend in Ukraine against people of Russian origin and Russian symbols, while the official Western discourse insists that the war in Ukraine is against a democratic government.

The global neoliberal trend diagnoses the nationalist wave as a serious threat, claiming that it is being exploited as a crane for anti-democratic, anti-individual freedom, closed-market, and irrational ideas. Therefore, there have been liberal discussions in recent years on how to withdraw the issue of nationalism from the hands of non-liberal entities and reconcile liberalism and nationalism. What worries the US establishment is that the triumph of nationalist models around the world enhances the power of the new right-wing trend in the United States, while the current US administration tries to convince Americans that the globalized US foreign policy is necessary for the American middle class. Increasing numbers of political actors adopt investment in nationalist symbols as a solid basis for building a strong and cohesive identity that makes them more capable of mobilizing and controlling society [or part of it] in the context of a specific political project. As for forces outside the Western camp specifically, they find in nationalism a fortress that achieves a kind of asymmetrical balance against the US hostility, with a tendency to integrate nationalism with another source of legitimacy of a religious or ideological nature.

This nationalist practice has been expanding in our region in recent years, either due to the US pressure to create rooted contradictions between the peoples of the region, or due to the need for ruling regimes to seek refuge behind a solid identity to overcome internal and external challenges. Often, there is a debate about the relationship between the national, nationalistic, and religious identity, and attempts are made to reconcile these identities or some of them, as in Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. The violent pressures of the globalized liberal cultural symbols on our societies create a need to combine a greater number of common symbols that can reduce the possibilities of cultural infiltration. Here, there are calls to revive Asian symbols in the identities of peoples in the West Asia region as an additional defense line and a bridge towards deeper relations with the emerging Asian powers.


The biggest dilemma in Ukraine is that the defeat will be catastrophic whether for Washington or Moscow, and existential for Ukraine. This generates the inclination that the Ukrainian war will not end with a decisive victory for either side, but will instead transform into a low-intensity conflict in the near future, with Russian forces controlling most of the territories in the four provinces or just in Donbass [i.e. without Kherson and Zaporozhye]. Then the parties will regroup, draw lessons, accumulate strength, and wait for a favorable political moment to resume fighting on a larger scale.

It is said that strategies are built on optimistic aspirations for the future and harsh tragedies of the past. Undoubtedly, the Ukrainian war, whose results are still open to all possibilities, will have a significant impact on decision-making processes, the understanding of modern warfare, the building of military power, and the trajectory of great power conflict during the current century. Without a decisive victory, each side can present their own narrative of victory in Moscow, Kiev, and Washington, while the victory for the others lies in improving their chances of winning when their turn comes.

Is US-NATO on a Collision Course with Russia? The Kremlin’s New Deterrence Strategy

March 07, 2023

Global Research,

By Drago Bosnic


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Amid incessant NATO aggression and escalation of hostilities within Russia, now also including US-backed Kiev regime terrorists targeting schoolchildren, Moscow has started revamping the doctrinal approach to the use of its strategic arsenal. Rather curiously, the new document, published by the “Military Thought” magazine run by the Russian Ministry of Defense, attracted little attention in Western media. It should be noted that such changes are made only once in several decades or even longer. The strategic posturing of countries, particularly superpowers, is usually “set in stone”, meaning that changes are prompted only by major events of historical proportions.

It was only a week ago that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia is suspending its participation in the New START arms control treaty. Putin cited continuous, blatant US and NATO violations of the agreement as the primary reason for the decision. With the treaty becoming a mere formality, Russia is not bound to honor it anymore, as this would undermine its own strategic security. With that in mind, the Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN) started implementing new ways to deter any possible direct US/NATO attacks on Russia, particularly as the belligerent thalassocracy has repeatedly floated the idea of “decapitation strikes” on Moscow in the last several months.

The authors of the document are Deputy Commander of the RVSN Igor Fazletdinov and retired Colonel Vladimir LumpovThey argue that the US is on a collision course with Russia, as Washington DC and its vassals are becoming increasingly aggressive due to their political elites’ frustration with the loss of the “sole superpower” status.

With America seeing Moscow as the main culprit for this, it plans on defeating Russia in a “single blow”, thus eliminating the main obstacle to total US global dominance. Fazletdinov and Lumpov argue that Washington DC plans to defeat Russia in a “strategic (global) multi-sphere operation”, the primary goal of which will be the elimination of its strategic arsenal.

“[The US believes] this goal is only achievable in the event of an instantaneous nuclear strike against the RVSN or at least with the deployment of ABM [anti-ballistic missile] systems around Russia. The US plan is to destroy at least 65-70% of Russian strategic nuclear forces as part of its Prompt Global Strike concept, with the rest eliminated by American ABM systems. The US would then launch an all-out nuclear attack on the Russian Federation in order to destroy it,” authors warn, further adding: “We aim to repel a potential [US] nuclear strike, preserve our own nuclear capabilities, suppress the deployed US missile defense systems and cause unacceptable damage in case of [US/NATO] aggression.”

Russia certainly has the capability to almost instantly change its strategic doctrine.

Unlike its NATO rivals (including the US itself), Moscow leads the world in several key military technologies, which also include at least a dozen operational hypersonic weapons deployed over the last 5-10 years.

And indeed, in early December President Putin stated Russia could adopt a US-style concept of preemptive strikes. The program mentioned by Russian military experts, called PGS (Prompt Global Strike), is a US attempt to develop a capability that enables it to attack enemy strategic targets with precision-guided weapons anywhere in the world within just one hour. Still, the US is yet to deploy a weapon that can achieve that.

On the other hand, with the Mach 12-capable “Kinzhal” air-launched hypersonic missile carried by modified MiG-31K/I interceptors and Tu-22M3 long-range bombers, the Mach 28-capable “Avangard” HGV (hypersonic glide vehicle) deployed on various ICBMs and the Mach 9-capable scramjet-powered “Zircon” hypersonic cruise missile deployed on naval (both submarines and surface ships) and (soon) on land platforms, Russia is the only country on the planet with the capability to immediately implement such a program. And yet, Moscow still refrains from going ahead with such plans, although its justification for this would hold much better than that of the US.

The authors further emphasize “the need to make sure the US was perfectly aware of the impossibility of the complete destruction of our strategic capabilities and the inevitability of a crushing retaliatory nuclear strike”.

However, the problem with this is that the establishment in Washington DC has become so detached from reality that they believe the Kiev regime has the capacity to not only “push Russia back from Donbass”, but also “retake Crimea”, despite relevant reports on the Neo-Nazi junta’s staggering losses. It can hardly be expected from them to be aware of Russia’s wholly undeniable capability to obliterate the continental US in minutes.

American policymakers take advice from former high-ranking generals and officers who somehow managed to lose a war against outnumbered and outgunned AK-wielding insurgents in sandals while wasting trillions of dollars and deploying hundreds of thousands of troops during the two decades of continuous NATO aggression in Afghanistan. This is without taking into account the technological disparity which was so overwhelmingly on the side of the aggressors that it can quite literally be measured in centuries rather than decades. Still, delusions and living in parallel reality seem to be a given for the warmongers at the Pentagon.

In addition, considering the fact that Afghanistan became more peaceful and safer after the US and NATO have been soundly defeated and driven out of the country devastated by decades of incessant conflict, this clearly implies that being able to militarily beat the political West is of utmost importance for the safety of any given country.


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France undermined state institutions, NATO bolstered terrorism: Mali

March 7, 2023

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Malian Abdoulaye Diop tells Al Mayadeen during an exclusive interview about NATO’s role in spreading terrorism in Africa and the Russian withdrawal from Mali.

Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop during an interview with Al Mayadeen on Monday, March 7, 2023

NATO’s intervention in Libya and the support of some terrorist groups contributed to the bolstering and proliferation of terrorism in Mali and the entire African Sahel region, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told Al Mayadeen during an exclusive interview.

Groups from the Malian community in Libya benefited from NATO’s intervention in the North African state in order to obtain support and assistance, Diop told Al Mayadeen, noting that the groups in question went to northern Mali, and they were joined by terrorist organizations, who went on to occupy a third of Mali’s territory.

Diop underlined that the instability resulting from terrorism is no longer confined to northern Mali, but it expanded to include almost all parts of the country and has crossed national borders, spreading to neighboring countries to the Gulf of Guinea.

What was France’s role in Mali?

Furthermore, Diop commented on France’s withdrawal from his country, saying Paris decided to leave Mali and was not expelled. “One can return to the official statements of the French government, in which it was announced that the military operations with the Malian army would stop and that the Barkhane operation would end.

Diop saw that France’s decision was taken to “punish the Malian authorities that decided to change their military strategy and replace their strategic partner.”

Africa capable of self-management

It is time for France and all its partners to realize that Africans are perfectly capable of running their countries and choosing their partners based on their national interests, Diop told Al Mayadeen.

Africa is open to establishing partners with anyone in the whole world, and the United States is an important partner, but it must take into consideration the interests and sovereignty of African states, the top Malian diplomat said.

Malian-Russian partnership

Russia is a strategic partner of Mali’s, as Moscow supplied Bamako with everything it asked for within the framework of its confrontation against extremist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

The Russian supplies to Mali do not classify as loans or aid; they were paid for by the state treasury.

Diop indicated that Mali tried to acquire military equipment from Europe, the United States, and various other Western countries, but they did not succeed because of the bureaucracy in these countries.

Earlier last month, Malian transitional Prime Minister, Choguel Kokalla Maiga revealed that Mali expects to present to the UN Security Council evidence of France’s support for armed groups.

“The day we reveal the evidence, we will see who is muddying the waters. All those who do not want us to provide evidence understand that the accusations against us have no basis,” Maiga underlined.

According to the Malian Prime Minister, Mali will keep this evidence to itself for as long as it deems it necessary.

It is noteworthy that in mid-October, during a speech delivered at a United Nations Security Council briefing on Mali in New York, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop accused France of violating Malian airspace and delivering weapons to militants that have been crippling the country for the past decade, which France denied.

Furthermore, the Malian government declared on March 1 in a letter to Pedro Comissario Alfonso, president of the Security Council and Ambassador of Mozambique to the UN that France no longer has the power to draft resolutions and declarations regarding the Republic of Mali within the UNSC (UNSC).

“Pending the special meeting of the Security Council requested by Mali, the government of the Republic of Mali […] officially challenges France’s penholder status on all questions examined by the Security Council concerning Mali,” reads the letter.

Since December 2012, France has been responsible for producing all the drafts in the UN Security Council concerning Mali. However, Mali complained to the Security Council in August 2022 about acts of aggression, subversion, destabilization and violation of Malian airspace by aircraft of the French armed forces. 

The presence of French troops in Mali was established in 2013 under the pretext of countering terrorist activities in the Sahel region, after the 2011 intervention in Libya by NATO forces. The country achieved full independence after French troops withdrew from its country on August 15, 2022 following pressure from the Malian government.

Interview with | Abdallah Diop – Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mali

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Zelensky’s Comic Insults… Gimme HIMARS, Tanks, F-16s and Now America’s Sons & Daughters

March 3, 2023


The glib talk of people dying for no good cause, but rather only for a clique of clowns and their imperial circus, is the ultimate sick joke.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky sparked indignation and outrage this week with his grim warning that America’s sons and daughters will end up fighting and dying if Russia is not defeated in Ukraine.

His presumptuous comments were made at a press conference on February 24 but only gained notoriety this week, provoking howls of derision and disgust. The reckless insanity of the war in Ukraine – and the catastrophe it is leading to – has become unbearable.

U.S. politicians – mainly on the Republican side – as well as ordinary citizens have become rightly alarmed by the blank-check policy of the Biden administration to prop up the Kiev regime with up to $100 billion in military and financial support over the past year.

There is growing public anger both in the United States and across the European Union with the bottomless pit of money that governments have unaccountably reached into and thrown at Ukraine. Western states have increasingly escalated the war with supplies of heavier and longer-range weapons. Not one Western so-called leader has made any diplomatic effort to resolve the conflict. The United States and European Union have mobilized totally in war mode, without any public debate or accountability.

The Kiev regime is the perfect partner for the NATO war machines because of its insatiable demand for ever more weaponry.

Zelensky and his cabal of corrupt cronies have like ventriloquist puppets played their squalid part by poaching for the conveyor belt of weaponry to be sped up. It’s almost comical when NATO leaders are at other times quietly calling on the Kiev regime to slow down its consumption of ammunition because their own arsenals are being depleted and leaving their states undefended.

The charade has worked a treat up to a point. American and NATO military manufacturers have made record profits and have seen unprecedented stock-market investment gains from the war racket that is Ukraine.

However, the comic actor-turned-politician is in serious danger of overplaying his wheedling role. President Joe Biden has even resorted to cautioning Zelensky to tamp down his zealous public demands for weapons and money out of concern that the “gimme, gimme, gimme” attitude is running the risk of infuriating American and European taxpayers who will foot the bill of goodies at a time of unprecedented social and economic hardships.

So when Zelensky went further to warn that American sons and daughters will end up fighting and dying if more weapons are not supplied to Ukraine there is a sense that an unacceptable level of forbearance has been surpassed. The proverbial last straw.

Western media immediately rushed to cover up his remarks by claiming – incredibly – that Zelensky did not say what he did.

The Western public is right to see through the appalling racket. Not only has the Western military-industrial complex gotten obscenely rich, but Zelensky and his junta have also milked the American and European public like a cash cow. Zelensky and his cronies have made multi-millions in offshore funds and assets. The weapons flooding into Ukraine have been sold off on the black market ending up in the hands of terrorists and criminal networks all over the world. Even the Pentagon’s inspectors admit they don’t know where all the weapons have gone.

Not only that but the endless arms bazaar has prolonged the war in Ukraine with horrendous casualties among Ukrainians drafted to fight a NATO proxy war against Russia. A war that the Ukrainian regime has no chance of winning. The imminent Russian victory at Bakhmut spells the collapse of the NATO-backed regime. And with that collapse will come the crashing of NATO’s much-vaunted prestige. If you thought the Afghanistan debacle was bad, wait to see the gnashing of teeth over Ukraine.

Tragically, this war – the biggest in Europe since World War Two – could have been avoided if Washington and its European minions had heeded Russia’s security concerns about NATO’s expansion that had long been raised. The Western rulers chose not to deal with Moscow through politics and diplomacy, making an armed confrontation inevitable.

Washington and its imperial lackeys have made the conflict into an existential crisis with fraudulent claims about “defending democracy and freedom” from alleged Russian aggression. The grandiose deception covers up the real agenda of American hegemonic ambitions towards Russia and China.

The Zelensky puppet regime – infested with corruption and Nazi paramilitaries armed by NATO – is claiming that if it falls to Russia’s military then Western states will be facing Russian aggression. That’s why he made the ridiculous claim that without more weapons being sent, Russia will next invade NATO states, and American sons and daughters will end up fighting and dying.

This is a grotesque distortion of what is happening in Ukraine and what the real causes of the conflict are about.

The reality is Ukraine has been destroyed by American imperialist machinations since the 2014 CIA-backed in Kiev. Russia has been forced to eliminate a Neo-Nazi regime that the NATO powers deliberately and covertly weaponized. President Biden and his feckless corrupt son Hunter have been personally involved in the creation of the Frankenstein monster, as have senior members of this White House administration, including Antony Blinken, Victoria Nuland and Jake Sullivan. These same people sanctioned the blowing up of the Nord Stream pipelines in an act of international terrorism against supposed NATO allies, such is their criminality.

The ceaseless corruption of Ukraine under American and European indulgence has led to the abysmal danger of an all-out war with Russia that if it were to happen could end the world in a nuclear conflagration. Washington and its NATO minions are precluding any diplomatic way out of the crisis because of their lies and criminal Russophobia. The war racket is too addictive for the NATO war junkies and their crime syndicate intel agencies. The logical endpoint of this perverse charade involves the potential of all-out world war. Zelensky in his sordid comic star-turn inadvertently went off script with his shocking ad-lib remarks.

Those remarks – among many other inanities uttered by Zelensky, Biden, Scholz, Macron, Sunak, Von der Leyen, Borrell, Stoltenberg and other NATO war-pimps – are akin to the clown’s mask slipping, revealing the ugly face beneath. The American people and all others around the world should be horrified and furious.

The glib talk of people dying for no good cause, but rather only for a clique of clowns and their imperial circus, is the ultimate sick joke.

Turkish elections: Can Erdogan maintain his grip on power?

March 02 2023

The outcome of Turkiye’s upcoming vote could determine whether Ankara returns to a western-oriented foreign policy, or if Erdogan strengthens the country’s autonomous direction.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Mohamad Hasan Sweidan

As the centenary of the founding of the Turkish Republic approaches, Turkiye faces one of the most important elections in its history. Most importantly, the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, currently slated for May, could lead to major shifts in the country’s foreign policy.

But the February earthquakes that devastated swathes southern Turkiye have compounded the pressures on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was already dealing with a number of internal and external vulnerabilities that could lead to his electoral ousting.

Erdogan has described the earthquake as “the largest disaster the country has witnessed since the Erzincan earthquake in 1939.” Currently presiding over a deteriorating domestic economy, he has become an easy target for negative media campaigns, faces an unusually united front of opposition parties, and is the subject of constant attacks from the west, who support the Turkish opposition both politically and in the media. Despite these challenges, Erdogan is looking to cling to power by any means necessary.

Turkiye’s Military Coups

In modern Turkiye, one well-trodden path to abrupt power shifts has been the “military coup”: the country experienced four of these between 1923 and 2000. All were preceded by some common factors, including domestic economic deterioration and improving ties with the Soviet Union or Iran, especially after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The combined result of these coups was to reaffirm Turkiye’s loyalty to the western axis and to halt rapprochement with Moscow or Tehran.

Two decades ago, when Erdogan was first elected as prime minister, Turkiye was governed under a parliamentary system. But a 2017 constitutional referendum transformed it into a presidential one, where the authority of the parliament and cabinet diminished in relation to the presidency. Erdogan understood from the onset that the key to his survival in power was to prevent economic decline and to contain the influence of the military over civilian authority.

Consequently, his government has implemented policies to reduce the powers of the Turkish military, extend full state control over the army, and reduce its grip on political power. This has inhibited the army’s ability to overthrow civilian power centers whenever it wants.

Erdogan used the pretext of joining the EU to launch a reform process in Turkiye, enacting national laws that were more compatible with European standards, including respect for freedoms. Through these reforms, a body of laws was amended, limiting the powers of military justice and subjecting military personnel to common law. The Erdogan government has also ousted secular military figures over alleged links to terrorist organizations.

The ruling  Justice and Development Party (AKP) continued to work towards limiting the role of Turkiye’s armed forces, and after a long and taxing process of normalizing civil-military relations, Erdogan was able to gain full civilian control of the Turkish military following the 2016 coup attempt.

This move limited the military’s traditional status and role as guardian of the republic, and after achieving this milestone, economic pressure became Ankara’s only tool for change. The ballot box has thus become the only means of overthrowing the Turkish president, as the military, which was previously a means of reorienting Turkiye whenever it veered from its pro-west orientation, is now subordinate to political authority in Ankara.

A western or independent foreign policy

It is worth noting that Erdogan’s Turkiye is no longer viewed as the “Turkish model,” which was once widely lauded as a democratic, Islamic leadership in a secular, pro-western country. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Turkiye was seen as an example of a western-allied Islamic power, and its positive relationship with the US provided evidence for Washington that its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were wars against terror, and not Islam.

However, today, Turkiye has lost this vaunted ‘status,’ and the US and EU increasingly view Erdogan as helming an undemocratic authority. As a result, Ankara was not invited to attend the Summit of Democracies held by Washington in December 2021, because countries like Turkiye have been “undermining their democratic systems for years.”

report issued by the European Commission on 19 October, 2021 also criticized the performance of Turkish institutions, stating:

“There are serious deficiencies in the functioning of Turkiye’s democratic institutions. Democratic backsliding continued during the reporting period…The constitutional architecture continued to centralise powers at the level of the Presidency without ensuring a sound and effective separation of powers between the executive, legislative and the judiciary.”

The west’s primary concern with Erdogan is his pursuit of an autonomous foreign policy that may clash with western interests. Erdogan’s policies after the 2011 Arab uprisings, which conflicted with western interests in Libya and Egypt – as well as his support for Turkish Cypriot independence, ongoing tensions with Greece, Turkiye’s growing ties with Russia and Iran, and rejection of Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO – have all contributed to growing western dissatisfaction with Erdogan’s leadership.

In order to pursue his foreign policy goals, Erdogan has strengthened his position domestically, notably through the 2017 referendum that transformed Turkiye’s government into a presidential system and consolidated his power.

This has left the west with few options to influence change in Turkiye, limiting their options to supporting a fragmented opposition, applying economic, political, and media pressure on the AKP, and working toward establishing an opposition coalition that can defeat Erdogan at the ballot box.

As US-European policies begin to re-unify after the Trump era, and with the year-old conflict in Ukraine still escalating, Erdogan’s independent policies are increasingly seen as unacceptable, with demands that Turkiye reposition itself within the western axis. This is despite the fact that the west recognizes the world order is shifting toward a more inclusive, multipolar one. According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “we’re no longer in the post-Cold War era. There’s a competition on to shape what comes next.”

Erdogan’s vision for his country’s place in the new world order differs from Washington’s: He seeks to position Turkiye as a regional power with interests in both the east and west, while the US wants Turkiye’s regional clout to be exercised in concert with western interests, and aligned against Russia and Iran.

To achieve western objectives, Turkiye must return to being a secular, pro-western state. Thus, Erdogan’s defeat in the next election is crucial for Ankara to return to the western fold as a fully committed ally.

The quake’s aftershocks

The devastating earthquakes in Turkiye have had far-reaching political and economic impact, with Erdogan’s opponents leading charges that his government lacked all basic emergency preparations for the disaster. Influential media outlets, both domestic and international, have heavily criticized Ankara’s earthquake response initiatives, which have morphed into a wider campaign against Erdogan.

In a way, the catastrophe was an unexpected gift to Erdogan’s opponents, who, from the very outset, blamed the Turkish president. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who leads Turkiye’s main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said:

“If there is anyone responsible for this process, it is Erdogan. It is this ruling party that has not prepared the country for an earthquake for 20 years.”

To counter the criticism, Erdogan has initiated steps to help those affected by the earthquake, promising to rebuild damaged buildings within a year, and pay rents while the reconstruction is underway. He has also been filmed and photographed while participating in the burial of victims and inspecting the conditions of affected families, particularly by pro-AKP media.

However, the economic impact of the earthquake – a loss of $2.9 billion in manpower, according to a report by Turkish business group Turkonfed – and damage to infrastructure, including roads, electricity grids, hospitals, and schools, estimated at $84 billion, constituting around 10 percent of Turkiye’s GDP – will have severe repercussions for the Turkish economy.

Who is Erdogan up against?

The 2019 local elections in Turkiye demonstrated the opposition’s ability to win in municipalities previously dominated by the AKP, notably in Istanbul and Ankara. Erdogan’s surprise and discontent with voting results were evident in his demands for re-election in Istanbul. Instead, the rerun resulted in a significant increase in votes for the opposition at the expense of Erdogan’s candidate.

Image 1: Map distributing the results of the 2019 municipal elections in Turkey
Image 1: Map distributing the results of the 2019 municipal elections in Turkiye

For Washington to be rid of Erdogan, it will be necessary to establish a strong alliance against the Turkish strongman. The “Alliance of Six,” which includes six opposition parties seeking to agree on a single candidate for the upcoming presidential elections, is an example of this strategy.

The following is a table of the key political parties in Turkiye:

The different orientations of these parties, as shown in the table above, are perhaps one of the main reasons why the Alliance of Six has failed to rally around a single candidate. To minimize competition within the opposition, it is likely that CHP leader Kilicdaroglu and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu will be the top contenders for the position, with the former currently most in favor.

If the Alliance of Six wins power, it could lead to a more western-aligned Turkiye that is less inclined toward foreign policy autonomy. The opposition coalition’s manifesto, which spans 240 pages and includes 2,300 points, highlights the importance of restoring “mutual trust” with the US, pursuing Turkiye’s goal of “full membership in the European Union,” and seeking the reinstatement of Turkiye’s involvement in the F-35 fighter jet program. Ankara was ejected from the program after it purchased Russian-made S-400 missiles following the failed 2016 coup attempt, which is often viewed by Turks as being US-instigated.

The following chart depicts the positions of opposition parties on a number of foreign policy topics:

The survival of Turkiye’s autonomous foreign policy

Erdogan is acutely aware that the upcoming elections will pose the greatest challenge of his political career. In order to secure a victory, he may have to make bold decisions that were previously unimaginable.

This conviction is further reinforced by the west’s support for the Turkish opposition and their desire to replace Erdogan with a more compliant candidate. With the Turkish elections expected to take place between May and July, and with ongoing western pressure on the Turkish leader, Erdogan has been forced to strengthen cooperation with those who want him to remain in power.

This is one of the main reasons why Turkiye’s relations with Russia have strengthened both economically and politically, and why Erdogan has sought to normalize relations with the Syrian government and improve ties with Iran.

Erdogan realized early on that he would not be the west’s favored candidate in the upcoming elections. In response, he shifted his foreign strategy to increase his chances of retaining power in Ankara. In 2022, he paid visits to the UAE in February and Saudi Arabia in May, and launched initiatives to improve relations with Israel, Egypt, and Syria.

Erdogan has also recognized that his political survival is aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interests, as his successor would likely be a candidate fully compliant with the west. This was one of the primary reasons for the continued Russian-Turkish rapprochement.

That, and the fact that Turkish public sentiment has broadly shifted in favor of Russia – and away from the US – as revealed in a December 2022 poll, where nearly two-thirds of Turks supported relations with Moscow.

Undoubtedly, the earthquakes that struck Turkiye and Syria have complicated matters for Erdogan. However, he has long demonstrated his ability to turn threats into opportunities by shifting tactics advantageously. His ace for many years has also been to capitalize on his opposition’s weaknesses, fragmentation, and inability to unite effectively against him.

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

AKP Alliance of Six CHPEarthquake Egypt EU Iran Israel NATO opposition parties

The Stage Is Set for Hybrid World War III

February 28, 2023

The strategists of Russia and China are now working full time on how to return all strands of Hybrid War against the Hegemon.

Pepe Escobar

A powerful feeling rhythms your skin and drums up your soul as you’re immersed in a long walk under persistent snow flurries, pinpointed by selected stops and enlightening conversations, crystallizing disparate vectors one year after the start of the accelerated phase of the proxy war between U.S./NATO and Russia.

That’s how Moscow welcomes you: the undisputed capital of the 21st century multipolar world.

A long, walking meditation impregnates on us how President Putin’s address – rather, a civilizational speech – last week was a game-changer when it comes to the demarcation of the civilizational red lines we are all now facing. It acted like a powerful drill perforating the less than short, actually zero term memory of the Collective West. No wonder it exercised a somewhat sobering effect contrasting the non-stop Russophobia binge of the NATOstan space.

Alexey Dobrinin, Director of the Foreign Policy Planning Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Russia, has correctly described Putin’s address as “a methodological basis for understanding, describing and constructing multipolarity.”

For years some of us have been showing how the emerging multipolar world is defined – but goes way beyond – high speed interconnectivity, physical and geoeconomic. Now, as we reach the next stage, it’s as if Putin and Xi Jinping, each in their own way, are conceptualizing the two key civilizational vectors of multipolarity. That’s the deeper meaning of the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership, invisible to the naked eye.

Metaphorically, it also speaks volumes that Russia’s pivot to the East, towards the rising sun, now irreversible, was the only logical path to follow as, to quote Dylan, darkness dawns at the break of noon across the West.

As it stands, with the wobblin’, ragin’ Hegemon lost in its own pre-fabricated daze, the real runners of the show feeding burning flesh to irredeemably mediocre political “elites”, China may have a little more latitude than Russia, as the Middle Kingdom is not – yet – under the same existential pressure Russia has been put under.

Whatever happens next geopolitically, Russia is at heart a – giant – obstacle on the warmongering path of the Hegemon: the ultimate target is top “threat” China.

Putin’s ability to size up our extremely delicate geopolitical moment – via a dose of highly concentrated, undiluted realism – is something to behold. And then Foreign Minister Lavrov provided the sweet cherry on top, calling the hapless U.S. ambassador for a hardcore dress down: oh yeah, this is war, hybrid and otherwise, and your NATO mercenaries as well as your junk hardware are legitimate targets.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Security Council, now more than ever relishing his “unplugged” status, made it all very clear: “Russia risks being torn apart if it stops a special military operation (SMO) before victory is achieved.”

And the message is even more acute because it represents the – public – cue to the Chinese leadership at the Zhongnahhai to understand: whatever happens next, this is the Kremlin’s unmovable official position.

The Chinese restore the Mandate of Heaven

All these vectors are evolving as ramifications of the bombing of the Nord Streams, the only military attack – cum industrial terrorism – ever perpetrated against the EU, leave the Collective West paralyzed, dazed and confused.

Perfectly in tandem with Putin’s address, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs chose the geopolitical/existential moment to finally take the gloves off, with a flourish: enter the

U.S. Hegemony and its Perils essay cum report, which became an instant massive hit across Chinese media, examined with relish all across East Asia.

This blistering enumeration of all the Hegemon’s lethal follies, for decades, constitutes a point of no return for trademark Chinese diplomacy, so far characterized by passivity, ambivalence, actual restraint and extreme politeness. So such turnaround is yet another proud “achievement” of the outright Sinophobia and mendacious hostility exhibited by American neocons and neoliberal-cons.

Scholar Quan Le notes that this document may be regarded as the traditional form – but now filled with contemporary wording – the Chinese Sovereigns used in their millenary past before going to war.

It is in fact an axio-epistemo-political proclamation justifying a serious war, which in the Chinese universe means a war ordained by a Higher Power capable of restoring Justice & Harmony in a troubled Universe.

After the proclamation the warriors are equipped to strike mercilessly at the entity judged to be troubling the Harmony of the Universe: in our case, the psycho Straussian neo-cons and neoliberal-cons commanded as rabid dogs by the real American elites.

Of course in the Chinese universe there’s no place for “God” – much less a Christian version; “God” for the Chinese means the Beauty-Goodness-Truth trinity, Timeless Heavenly Universal Principles. The closest concept for a non-Chinese to understand is Dao: the Way. So the Way to the Beauty-Goodness-Truth trinity represents symbolically Beauty-Goodness-Truth.

So what Beijing did – and the Collective West is completely clueless about it – was to issue an axio-epistemo-political proclamation explaining the legitimacy of their quest to restore Timeless Heavenly Universal Principles. They will be fulfilling the Mandate of Heaven – nothing less. The West won’t know what it hit them until it’s too late.

It was predictable that sooner or later the heirs of Chinese civilization would have had enough – and formally identify, mirroring Putin’s analysis, the upstart Hegemon as the premier source of chaos, inequality and war across the planet. Empire of Chaos, Lies and Plunder, in a nutshell.

To put it bluntly, in streetwise language, the hell with this Americana crap of hegemony being justified by “manifest destiny”.

So here we are. You want Hybrid War? We will return the favor.

Back to the Wolfowitz Doctrine

A former CIA advisor has issued a quite sobering report on a pebble along the rocky way: a possible endgame in Ukraine, now that even some elite-run parrots are contemplating a “way out” with minimal loss of face.

It’s never idle to remember that way back in 2000, the year Vladimir Putin was first elected as President, in the pre-9/11 world, rabid neocon Paul Wolfowitz was side by side with Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski in a huge Ukraine-U.S. symposium in Washington, where he unabashedly raved about provoking Russia to go to war with Ukraine, and committed to finance the destruction of Russia.

Everyone remembers the Wolfowitz doctrine – which was essentially a tawdry, pedestrian rehash of Brzezinski: to keep permanent U.S. hegemony it was primordial to pre-empt the emergence of any potential competitor.

Now we have two nuclear-powered, tech savvy peer competitors united by a comprehensive strategic partnership.

As I finished my long walk paying due respect by the Kremlin to the heroes of 1941-1945, the feeling was inescapable that as much as Russia is a master of riddles and China is a master of paradox, their strategists are now working full time on how to return all strands of Hybrid War against the Hegemon. One thing is certain: unlike boastful Americans, they won’t outline any breakthroughs until they are already in effect.

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