MILITARY AND POLITICAL TRENDS OF 2019 THAT WILL SHAPE 2020

South Front

In the year 2019 the world was marked with a number of emerging and developing crises. The threat of terrorism, conflicts in the Middle East, expanding instability in South America, never-ending military, political and humanitarian crises in Africa and Asia, expansion of NATO, insecurity inside the European Union, sanction wars and sharpening conflicts between key international players. One more factor that shaped the international situation throughout the year was the further collapse of the existing system of international treaties. The most widely known examples of this tendency are the collapse of the INF and the US announcement of plans to withdraw from the New START. Meanwhile, the deterioration of diplomatic mechanisms between key regional and global actors is much wider than these two particular cases. It includes such fields as NATO-Russia relations, the US posture towards Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights, unsuccessful attempts to rescue vestiges of the Iran nuclear deal, as well as recent setbacks in the diplomatic formats created to de-escalate the Korean conflict.

One of the regions of greatest concern in the world, is the Middle East. The main destabilizing factors are the remaining terrorist threat from al-Qaeda and ISIS, the crises in Libya, Syria and Iraq, the ongoing Saudi invasion of Yemen, the deepening Israeli-Arab conflict, and a threat of open military confrontation involving the US and Iran in the Persian Gulf. These factors are further complicated by social and economic instability in several regional countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and even Iran.

After the defeat of ISIS, the war in Syria entered a low intensity phase. However, it appears that the conflict is nowhere near its end and the country remains a point of instability in the region.

ISIS cells are still active in the country. The announced US troop withdrawal appeared to be only an ordinary PR stunt as US forces only changed their main areas of presence to the oil-rich areas in northeastern Syria. Washington exploits its control over Syrian resources and influence on the leadership of the Syrian Kurds in order to effect the course of the conflict. The Trump administration sees Syria as one of the battlegrounds in the fight against the so-called Iranian threat.

The province of Idlib and its surrounding areas remain the key stronghold of radical militant groups in Syria. Over the past years, anti-government armed groups suffered a series of defeats across the country and withdrew towards northwestern Syria. The decision of the Syrian Army to allow encircled militants to withdraw towards Idlib enabled the rescue of thousands of civilians, who were being used by them as human shields in such areas as Aleppo city and Eastern Ghouta. At the same time, this increased significantly the already high concentration of militants in Greater Idlib turning it into a hotbed of radicalism and terrorism. The ensuing attempts to separate the radicals from the so-called moderate opposition and then to neutralize them, which took place within the framework of the Astana format involving Turkey, Syria, Iran and Russia, made no progress.

The Summer-Fall advance of the Syrian Army in northern Hama and southern Idlib led to the liberation of a large area from the militants. Nevertheless, strategically, the situation is still the same. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly the official branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, controls most of the area. Turkish-backed ‘moderate militants’ act shoulder to shoulder with terrorist groups.

Turkey is keen to prevent any possible advances of the government forces in Idlib. Therefore it supports further diplomatic cooperation with Russia and Iran to promote a ‘non-military’ solution of the issue. However it does not seem to have enough influence with the Idlib militant groups, in particular HTS, to impose a ceasefire on them at the present time. Ankara could take control of the situation, but it would need a year or two that it does not have. Therefore, a new round of military escalation in the Idlib zone seems to be only a matter of time.

Syria’s northeast is also a source of tensions. Turkey seized a chunk of territory between Ras al-Ayn and Tell Abyad in the framework of its Operation Peace Spring. The large-scale Turkish advance on Kurdish armed groups was halted by the Turkish-Russian ‘safe zone’ agreement and now the Syrian Army and the Russian Military Police are working to separate Kurdish rebels from Turkish proxies and to stabilize Syria’s northeast. If this is successfully done and the Assad government reaches a political deal with Kurdish leaders, conditions for further peaceful settlement of the conflict in this part of the country will be created. It should be noted that Damascus has been contributing extraordinary efforts to restore the infrastructure in areas liberated from terrorists by force or returned under its control by diplomatic means. In the eyes of the local population, these actions have an obvious advantage over approaches of other actors controlling various parts of Syria.

Israel is another actor pursuing an active policy in the region. It seeks to influence processes which could affect, what the leadership sees as, interests of the state. Israel justifies aggressive actions in Syria by claiming to be surrounded by irreconcilable enemies, foremost Iran and Hezbollah, who try to destroy Israel or at least diminish its security. Tel Aviv makes all efforts to ensure that, in the immediate vicinity of its borders, there would be no force, non-state actors, or states whose international and informational activities or military actions might damage Israeli interests. This, according to the Israeli vision, should ensure the physical security of the entire territory currently under the control of Israel and its population.

The start of the Syrian war became a gift for Israel. It was strong enough to repel direct military aggression by any terrorist organization, but got a chance to use the chaos to propel its own interests. Nonetheless, the rigid stance of the Israeli leadership which became used to employing chaos and civil conflicts in the surrounding countries as the most effective strategy for ensuring the interests of the state, was delivered a blow. Israel missed the moment when it had a chance to intervene in the conflict as a kind of peacemaker, at least on the level of formal rhetoric, and, with US help, settle the conflict to protect its own interests. Instead, leaders of Israel and the Obama administration sabotaged all Russian peace efforts in the first years of the Russian military operation and by 2019, Tel Aviv had found itself excluded from the list of power brokers in the Syrian settlement. Hezbollah and Iran, on the other hand, strengthened their position in the country after they, in alliance with Damascus and Russia, won the war on the major part of Syrian territory, and Iran through the Astana format forged a tactical alliance with Turkey.

Iran and Hezbollah used the preliminary outcome of the conflict in Syria, and the war on ISIS in general, to defend their own security and to expand their influence across the region.  The so-called Shia crescent turned from being a myth exploited by Western diplomats and mainstream media into a reality. Iran and Hezbollah appeared to be reliable partners for their regional allies even in the most complicated situations.

Russia’s strategic goal is the prevention of radical Islamists from coming to power. Russia showed itself ready to enter dialogue with the moderate part of the Syrian opposition. Its leadership even demonstrated that it is ready to accept the interests of other actors, the US, Israel, Kurdish groups, Turkey, Iran, and Hezbollah, if this would help in reaching a final deal to settle the conflict.

Summing up the developments of 2019, one might expect that the current low-intensity state of the Syrian conflict would continue for years. However, several factors and developments could instigate the renewal of full-fledged hostilities:

  • A sudden demise or forceful removal of President Bashar al-Assad could create a situation of uncertainty within the patriotic component of the Syrian leadership;
  • Changes within the Russian political system or issues inside Russia which could lead to full or partial withdrawal of support to the Syrian government and withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria;
  • A major war in the Middle East which would turn the entire region into a battlefield. In the current situation, such a war could only start by escalation between the US-Israeli-led bloc and Iran.

The Persian Gulf and the Saudi-Yemen battleground are also sources of regional instability. In the second half of 2019, the situation there was marked by increased chances of open military confrontation between the US-Israeli-Saudi bloc and Iran. Drone shoot-downs, oil tanker detentions, open military buildups, and wartime-like rhetoric became something common or at least not very surprising. The US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel point to Iran as the main instigator of tensions.

Iran and its allies deny responsibility for the escalation reasonably noting that their actions were a response to aggressive moves by the US-Israeli-Saudi axis. From this point of view, Iran’s decision to limit its commitments to the already collapsed Nuclear Deal, high level of military activity in the Persian Gulf, shoot down of the US Global Hawk spy drone, and increased support to regional Shia groups are logical steps to deter US—led aggression and to solidify its own position in the region. Iran’s main goal is to demonstrate that an open military conflict with it will have a devastating impact to the states which decide to attack it, as well as to the global economy.

The US sanctions war, public diplomatic support of rioters, and the Trump administration’s commitment to flexing military muscle only strengthen Tehran’s confidence that this approach is right.

As to Yemen’s Houthis, who demonstrated an unexpected success in delivering retaliatory strikes to Saudi Arabia, they would continue to pursue their main goal – achieving a victory in the conflict with Saudi Arabia or forcing the Kingdom to accept the peace deal on favorable terms. To achieve this, they need to deliver maximum damage to Saudi Arabia’s economy through strikes on its key military and infrastructure objects. In this case, surprising missile and drone strikes on different targets across Saudi Arabia have already demonstrated their effectiveness.

The September 14 strike on Saudi oil infrastructure that put out of commission half of the Saudi oil output became only the first sign of future challenges that Riyadh may face in case of further military confrontation.

The unsuccessful invasion of Yemen and the confrontation with Iran are not the only problems for Saudi Arabia. The interests and vision of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East have been in conflict for a long time. Nonetheless, this tendency became especially obvious in 2019. The decline of influence of the House of Saud in the region and inside Saudi Arabia itself led to logical attempts of other regional players to gain a leading position in the Arabian Peninsula. The main challenger is the UAE and the House of Maktoum.

Contradictions between Saudi Arabia and the UAE turned into an open military confrontation between their proxies in Yemen. Since August 29th, Saudi Arabia has provided no symmetric answer to the UAE military action against its proxies. It seems that the Saudi leadership has no will or distinct political vision of how it should react in this situation. Additionally, the Saudi military is bogged down in a bloody conflict in Yemen and struggles to defend its own borders from Houthi attacks.

The UAE already gained an upper hand in the standoff with Saudi Arabia in the economic field. This provided motivation for further actions towards expanding its influence in the region.

During the year, Turkey, under the leadership of President Recep Erdogan, continued strengthening its regional positions. It expanded its own influence in Libya and Syria, strengthened its ties with Iran, Qatar, and Russia, obtained the S-400, entered a final phase in the TurkStream project, and even increased controversial drilling activity in the Eastern Mediterranean. Simultaneously, Ankara defended its national interests -repelling pressure from the United States and getting off with removal from the F-35 program only. Meanwhile, Turkish actions should not be seen as a some tectonic shift in its foreign policy or a signal of ‘great friendship’ with Russia or Iran.

Turkish foreign policy demonstrates that Ankara is not seeking to make ‘friends’ with other regional and global powers. Turkey’s foreign policy is mobile and variable, and always designed to defend the interests of Turkey as a regional leader and the key state of the Turkic world.

Developments in Libya were marked by the strengthening of the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and backed by the UAE, Egypt, and to some extent Russia. The LNA consolidated control of most of the country and launched an advance on its capital of Tripoli, controlled by the Government of National Accord. The LNA describes its main goal as the creation of the unified government and the defeat of terrorism. In its own turn, the Government of National Accord is backed by Turkey, Qatar, the USA and some European states. It controls a small part of the country, and, in terms of military force, relies on various militias and even radical armed groups linked with al-Qaeda. Ankara signed with the Tripoli government a memorandum on maritime boundaries in the Mediterranean Sea. Thus, it sees the GNA survival as a factor which would allow it to justify its further economic and security expansion in the region. This clash of interests sets conditions for an escalation of the Libyan conflict in 2020.

Egypt was mostly stable. The country’s army and security forces contained the terrorism threat on the Sinai Peninsula and successfully prevented attempts of radical groups to destabilize the country.

By the end of the year, the Greater Middle East had appeared in a twilight zone lying before a new loop of the seemingly never-ending Great Game. The next round of the geopolitical standoff will likely take place in a larger region including the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Consistently, the stakes will grow involving more resources of states and nations in geopolitical roulette.

The threat that faces Central Asia is particularly severe since the two sets of actors have asymmetrical objectives. Russia and China are rather interested in the political stability and economic success of the region which they view as essential to their own political and security objectives. It is not in the interest of either country to have half a dozen failed states in their immediate political neighborhood, riven by political, economic, and religious conflicts threatening to spread to their own territories. In addition to being a massive security burden to Russia and China, it would threaten the development of their joint Eurasian integration projects and, moreover, attract so much political attention that the foreign policy objectives of both countries would be hamstrung. The effect would be comparable to that of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on the US political and military establishment. The monetary price of these wars, the sheer political distraction, wear and demoralization of the armed forces, and the unfortunately frequent killings of civilians amount to a non-tenable cost to the warring party, not to mention damage to US international “soft power” wrought by scandals associated with Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and “black sites”. Even now, shock-waves in the US military hierarchy continue to be felt regarding the court-martialed senior-ranking US Navy “SEAL” commando charged for the wanton killing of civilians in Northern Iraq during the US military’s anti-ISIS operations.

By contrast, this dismal scenario would be enough to satisfy the US foreign policy establishment which, at the moment, is wholly dominated by “hawks” determined to assure the continuation of US hegemony.  Preventing the emergence of a multi-polar international system by weakening China and Russia is their desire.  This sets the stage for another round of great power rivalry in Central Asia. While the pattern is roughly the same as during the 19th and late 20th centuries—one or more Anglo-Saxon powers seeking to diminish the power of Russia and/or China—the geography of the battlefield is considerably larger for it encompasses the entirety of post-Soviet Central Asian republics.  Also included is China’s province of Xinjiang which has suddenly attracted considerable Western attention, manifested, as usual, by concern for “human rights” in the region.  Historically, such “concern” usually precedes some form of aggressive action. Therefore the two sets of great power actors—the US and other interested Western powers on the one hand, with Russia and China on the other—are locked in a standoff in the region.

The key security problem is militancy and the spread of terrorism. The US and its NATO partners remain unable to achieve a military victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Taliban reached a level of influence in the region, turning it into a rightful party to any negotiations involving the United States. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that a fully-fledged peace deal can be reached between the sides. The Taliban’s main demand is the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country. For Washington, conceding to this would amount to public humiliation and a forceful need to admit that the superpower lost a war to the Taliban. Washington can achieve a military victory in Afghanistan only by drastically increasing its forces in the country. This will go contrary to Trump’s publicly declared goal – to limit US participation in conflicts all around the world. Therefore, the stalemate will continue with the Taliban and the US sitting at the negotiating table in Qatar, while Taliban forces slowly take control of more and more territory in Afghanistan.

Besides fighting the US-backed government, in some parts of the country, the Taliban even conducts operations against ISIS in order to prevent this group from spreading further. Despite this, around 5,000 ISIS militants operate in Afghanistan’s north, near the border with Tajikistan. Member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization are concerned that ISIS militants are preparing to shift their focus to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Russia. The terrorists are infiltrating CIS states, incorporating with organized crime, creating clandestine cells, brainwashing and recruiting new supporters, chiefly the socially handicapped youth and migrants, [and] training them to carry out terrorist activities. The worsening situation in Central Asia contributes to the spread of radical ideas. Now the main threat of destabilization of the entire Central Asian region comes from Tajikistan. This state is the main target of militants deployed in northern Afghanistan.

Destabilization of Central Asia and the rise of ISIS both contribute to achievement of US geopolitical goals. The scenario could devastate Russia’s influence in the region, undermine security of key Russian regional ally, Kazakhstan, and damage the interests of China. The Chinese, Kazakh, and Russian political leadership understand these risks and engage in joint efforts to prevent this scenario.

In the event of further destabilization of Central Asia, ISIS sleeper cells across the region could be activated and a new ISIS self-proclaimed Caliphate could appear on the territory of northern Afghanistan and southern Tajikistan. Russia and China would not benefit from such a development. In the case of China, such instability could expand to its Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, while in Russia the main targets could be the Northern Caucasus and large cities with high numbers of migrant laborers from Central Asian states.

Armenia now together with Georgia became the center of a US soft power campaign to instigate anti-Russian hysteria in the Caucasus. Ethnic groups in this region are traditionally addicted to US mainstream propaganda. On the other hand, the importance of the South Caucasus for Russia decreased notably because of the strong foothold it gained in the Middle East. 2020 is looking to be another economically complicated year for Georgia and Armenia.

Throughout 2019, China consolidated its position as a global power and the main challenger of the United States. From the military point of view, China successfully turned the South China Sea into an anti-access and area-denial zone controlled by its own military and moved forward with its ambitious modernization program which includes the expansion of China’s maritime, airlift, and amphibious capabilities. The balance of power in the Asia-Pacific has in fact shifted and the Chinese Armed Forces are now the main power-broker in the region. China appeared strong enough to fight back against US economic and diplomatic pressure and to repel the Trump Administration’s attempts to impose Washington’s will upon Beijing. Despite economic war with the United States, China’s GDP growth in 2019 is expected to be about 6%, while the yuan exchange rate and the SSE Composite Index demonstrate stability. The United States also tried to pressure China through supporting instability in Hong Kong and by boosting defense aid to Taiwan. However, in both cases, the situation appears to still be within Beijing’s comfort zone.

An interesting consequence of US-led pressure on China is that Washington’s actions provided an impetus for development of Chinese-Russian cooperation. In 2019, Moscow and Beijing further strengthened their ties and cooperation in the economic and military spheres and demonstrated notable unity in their actions on the international scene as in Africa and in the Arctic for example.

As to Russia itself, during the year, it achieved several foreign policy victories.

  • The de-facto diplomatic victory in Syria;
  • Resumption of dialogue with the new Ukrainian regime and the reanimation of the Normandy format negotiations;
  • Improvement of relations with some large European players, like France, Italy, and even Germany;
  • Implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project despite opposition from the US-led bloc;
  • Implementation of the Turkish Stream project with Turkey;
  • Strengthening of the Russian economy in comparison with previous years and the rubble’s stability despite pressure from sanctions. Growth of the Russian GDP for 2019 is expected to be 1.2%, while the Russia Trading System Index demonstrated notable growth from around 1,100 points at the start of the year to around 1,500 by year’s end.

The salient accomplishment of the Russian authorities is that no large terrorist attack took place in the country. At the same time, the internal situation was marked by some negative tendencies. There was an apparent political, media, and social campaign to undermine Chinese-Russian cooperation. This campaign, run by pro-Western and liberal media, became an indicator of the progress in Chinese-Russian relations. Additionally, Russia was rocked by a series of emergencies, corruption scandals linked with law enforcement, the plundering of government funding allocated to the settlement of emergency situations, the space industry, and other similar cases. A number of Russian mid-level officials made statements revealing their real, rent-seeking stance towards the Russian population. Another problem was the deepening social stratification of the population. Most of the citizens experienced a decrease in their real disposable income, while elites continued concentrating margin funds gained through Russia’s successful actions in the economy and on the international level. These factors, as well as fatigue with the stubborn resistance of entrenched elites to being dislodged, caused conditions for political instability in big cities. Liberal and pro-Western media and pro-Western organizations exploited this in an attempt to destabilize the country.

Militarization of Japan has given the US a foothold in its campaign against China, Russia, and North Korea. The Japan Self-Defense Forces were turned into a fully-fledged military a long time ago. Japanese diplomatic rhetoric demonstrates that official Tokyo is preparing for a possible new conflict in the region and that it will fight to further expand its zone of influence. The Japanese stance on the Kuril Islands territorial dispute with Russia is an example of this approach. Tokyo rejected a Russian proposal for joint economic management of four islands and nearby waters, while formally the islands will remain within Russian jurisdiction -at least for the coming years. Japan demands the full transfer of islands a term which is unacceptable to Russia from a military and political point of view. The social and economic situation in Japan was in a relatively stable, but guarded state.

Denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea reached a stalemate after the North Korean leadership claimed that Washington was in no hurry to provide Pyongyang with acceptable terms and conditions of a possible nuclear deal. The example of the US unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran also played a role. The positive point is that tensions on the Korean Peninsula de-escalated anyway because the sides sat down at the negotiation table. Chances of the open military conflict involving North Korea and the United States remain low.

In February 2019, the Indian-Pakistani conflict over the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir put the greater region on the brink of a large war with potential for the use of nuclear weapons. However, both India and Pakistan demonstrated reasonable restraint and prevented further escalation despite an open confrontation between their militaries which took place at the same moment. Meanwhile, the February escalation demonstrated the growing power of Pakistan. In the coming years, look to Jammu and Kashmir as a point of constant instability and military tensions, with very little chance that the sides will find a comprehensive political solution to their differences.

The threat of terrorism is another destabilizing factor in the region. In 2019, ISIS cells made several attempts to strengthen and expand their presence in such countries as Malaysia and Indonesia. Law enforcement agencies of both countries are well aware of this threat and contribute constant and active efforts to combat this terrorism and radicalism. It should be noted that Malaysia is in conflict with the Euro-Atlantic elites because of its independent foreign policy course. For example, its government repeatedly questioned the mainstream MH17 narrative and officially slammed the JIT investigation as politicized and nontransparent. So, the leadership of the country is forced to be in a state of permanent readiness to repel clandestine and public attempts to bring it into line with the mainstream agenda.

While the European Union is, theoretically, the world’s biggest economy using the world’s second most popular currency in international transactions, it remains to be seen whether, in the future, it will evolve into a genuine component of a multi-polar international system or become a satellite in someone else’s—most likely US—orbit. There still remain many obstacles toward achieving a certain “critical mass” of power and unity. While individual EU member states, most notably Germany and France, are capable of independent action in the international system, individually they are too weak to influence the actions of the United States, China, or even Russia. In the past, individual European powers relied on overseas colonial empires to achieve great power status. In the 21st century, European greatness can only be achieved through eliminating not just economic but also political barriers on the continent. At present, European leaders are presented with both incentives and obstacles to such integration, though one may readily discern a number of potential future paths toward future integration.

Continued European integration would demand an agreement on how to transfer national sovereignty to some as yet undefined and untested set of European political institutions which would not only guarantee individual rights but, more importantly from the point of view of national elites, preserve the relative influence of individual EU member states even after they forfeited their sovereignty. Even if the Euro-skeptics were not such a powerful presence in EU’s politics, it would still be an insurmountable task for even the most visionary and driven group of political leaders. Such a leap is only possible if the number of EU states making it is small, and their level of mutual integration is already high.

The post-2008 Euro zone crisis does appear to have communicated the non-sustainability of the current EU integration approach, hence the recent appearance of “two-speeds Europe” concept which actually originated as a warning against the threat of EU bifurcation into well integrated “core“ and a less integrated “periphery”. In practical terms it would mean “core” countries, definitely including Germany, France, and possibly the Benelux Union, would abandon the current policy of throwing money at the less well developed EU member states and, instead, focus on forging “a more perfect Union” consisting of this far more homogeneous and smaller set of countries occupying territories that, over a thousand years ago, formed what used to be known as the Carolingian Empire. Like US territories of the 19th century, EU states outside of the core would have to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” to earn membership in the core, which would require them to adopt, wholesale, the core’s political institutions.

The deepening disproportion of EU member state economies, and therefore sharpening economic disputes, are the main factor of instability in Europe. The long-delayed withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the union, which is finally expected to take place in 2020, might trigger an escalation of internal tensions over economic issues which might blow up the EU from the inside. Other cornerstones of European instability are the extraordinary growth of organized crime, street crime, radicalism, and terrorism, most of which were caused by uncontrolled illegal migration and the inability of the European bureaucracy to cut off the flows of illegal migrants, integrate non-radicalized people into European society, and detect all radicals and terrorists that infiltrate Europe with migrants.

The situation is further complicated by the conflict in Ukraine and the destruction of international security treaties, such as the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and its planned withdrawal from the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty). These developments go amid constant military and political hysteria of micro-states and Poland instigated by the Euro-Atlantic elites. The EU bureaucracy is using this state of hysteria and ramping up speculations about a supposed military threat from Russia and an economic and political threat from China to distract the public and draw attention away from the real problems.

The return of Russia as the diplomatic and military great power to Africa marked a new round of the geo-economic standoff in the region. The apparent Russian-Chinese cooperation is steadily pushing French and British out of what they describe as their traditional sphere of influence. While, in terms of economic strength, Russia cannot compete with China, it does have a wide range of military and diplomatic means and measures with which to influence the region. So, Beijing and Moscow seem to have reached a non-public deal on a “division of labor”. China focuses on implementation of its economic projects, while Russia contributes military and diplomatic efforts to stabilize the security situation, obtaining revenue for its military and security assistance. Moscow plays a second violin role in getting these guaranteed zones of influence. Terrorism is one of the main threats to the region. The Chinese-Russian cooperation did not go without a response from their Western counterparts that justified their propaganda and diplomatic opposition to Beijing-Moscow cooperation by describing Chinese investments as “debt-traps” and the Russian military presence as “destabilizing”. In 2019, Africa entered into a new round of great powers rivalry.

The intensification of US “soft power” and meddling efforts, social, economic tensions, activities of non-state actors, and organized criminal networks became the main factors of instability in South America. Venezuela and Bolivia were targeted by US-backed coups. While the Venezuelan government, with help from China and Russia, succeeded in repelling the coup attempt, Bolivia was plunged into a violent civil conflict after the pro-US government seized power. Chile remained in a state of social economic crisis which repeatedly triggered wide-scale anti-government riots. Its pro-US government remained in power, mainly, because there was no foreign ‘democratic superpower’ to instigate the regime change campaign. Actions of the government of Colombia, one of the key US regional allies, undermined the existing peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and forced at least a part of the former FARC members to take up arms once again. If repressions, killings, and clandestine operations aimed at the FARC members committed to the peace continue, they may lead to a resumption of FARC-led guerrilla warfare against the central government. The crisis developing in Mexico is a result of the growth of the drug cartels-related violence and economic tensions with the United States. The right-wing Bolsonaro government put Brazil on track with the US foreign policy course to the extent that, the country worked with Washington against Venezuela, claiming that it should not turn into ‘another Cuba’. A deep economic crisis in Argentina opened the road to power for a new left-centric president, Alberto Fernandez. Washington considers South America as its own geopolitical backyard and sees any non pro-US, or just national-oriented government, as a threat to its vital interests. In 2020, the US meddling campaign will likely escalate and expand, throwing the region into a new round of instability and triggering an expected resistance from South American states. An example of this is the situation in Bolivia. Regardless of the actions of ousted President Evo Morales, the situation in the country will continue escalating. The inability of the pro-US government to deliver positive changes and its simultaneous actions to destroy all the economic achievements of the Morales period might cause Bolivia to descend into poverty and chaos causing unrest and possibly, a civil war.

During 2019, the world superpower, led by the administration of President Donald Trump, provided a consistent policy designed to defend the interests of US domestic industry and the United States as a national state by any means possible. This included economic and diplomatic pressure campaigns against both US geopolitical competitors and allies. The most widely known Trump administration move of this kind was the tariff war with China. However, at the same time, Washington contributed notable efforts in almost all regions around the globe. For example, the United States opposed Chinese economic projects in Africa, Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Europe, tried to limit exports of the Russian defense industry, pressured NATO member states who did not want to spend enough on defense, and proposed that US allies pay more for the honor and privilege of provided “protection”. Additionally, Trump pressured the Federal Reserve Board of Governors into lowering interest rates and announced plans to lower interest rates even further to weaken the dollar in order to boost national industry and increase its product availability on the global market. These plans caused strong resistance from international corporations and global capitalists because this move may undermine the current global financial system based upon a strong US dollar. This straightforward approach demonstrated that Trump and his team were ready to do everything needed to protect US security and economic interests as they see them. Meanwhile, it alienated some “traditional allies”, as in the case of Turkey which decided to acquire Russian S-400s, and escalated the conflict between the Trump Administration and the globalists. The expected US GDP growth in 2019 is 2.2%. The expected production growth of 3.9% reflects the policy aimed at supporting the real sector. In terms of foreign policy, the White House attempted to rationalize US military presence in conflict zones around the world. Despite this, the unprecedented level of support to Israel, confrontation with Iran, China, and Russia, militarization of Europe, coups and meddling into the internal affairs of sovereign states remain as the main markers of US foreign policy. Nevertheless, the main threat to United States stability originates not from Iranians, Russians, or Chinese, but rather from internal issues. The constant hysteria in mainstream media, the attempt to impeach Donald Trump, and the radicalization of different social and political groups contributes to destabilization of the country ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

The year 2019 was marked by a number of dangerous developments. In spite of this, it could have been much more dangerous and violent. Political leadership by key actors demonstrated their conditional wisdom by avoiding a number of open military conflicts, all of which had chances to erupt in the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, South America, and even Europe. A new war in the Persian Gulf, US military conflict with North Korea, an India-Pakistan war -none of these were started.  A peaceful transfer of power from Petro Poroshenko to Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine allowed for the avoidance of a military escalation in eastern Europe. China and the United States showed their restraint despite tensions in the Asia-Pacific, including the Hong Kong issue. A new global economic crisis, expected for some time by many experts, did not happen. The lack of global economic shocks or new regional wars in 2019 does not mean that knots straining relations among leading world powers were loosened or solved. These knots will remain a constant source of tension on the international level until they are removed within the framework of diplomatic mechanisms or cut as a result of a large military conflict or a series of smaller military conflicts.

Chances seem high that 2020 will become the year when a match will be set to the wick of the international powder keg, or that it will be the last relatively calm year in the first quarter of the 21st century. The collapse of international defense treaties and de-escalation mechanisms, as well as accumulating contradictions and conflicts among world nations give rise to an especial concern.

WESTERN LEADERS, SCREW YOUR ‘SANCTIONS TARGET THE REGIME’ BLATHER: SANCTIONS KILL PEOPLE

December 16, 2019, RT.com

-by Eva Bartlett

The US has a favourite tool for bullying non-compliant nations: sanctions. Sanctions inflict considerable suffering, even death, on ordinary people in targeted nations. Yet those defiant nations persist and resist.

A recent opinion piece in the Washington Post proposing a new oil-for-food scheme, this time in Venezuela, surprisingly acknowledges that sanctions “can also end up harming the people that they intend to protect.”

Okay, first off, we know there is no intention of “protecting” civilians in any of the countless countries targeted by Western sanctions. Do Western talking heads really think we’ve forgotten the half-a-million dead Iraqi children, thanks to US sanctions?

Yet, ask a Western leader about crippling sanctions placed on nations which don’t bow to Imperial demands and you’ll be met with some nonsensical explanation that sanctions only target ‘regimes’ and ‘terrorists,’ not the people.

I’ve lived in, spent considerable time in, or visited areas under sanctions and siege, and I’ve seen first hand how sanctions are a form of terrorism, choking civilians, depriving them of basic and urgent medical care, food, employment, and travel entitlements that many of us in Western nations take for granted.

When I was in Syria last October, a man told me his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but because of the sanctions he couldn’t get her the conventional treatments most in the West would avail of.

In 2016, in Aleppo, before it was liberated of al-Qaeda and co, Dr. Nabil Antaki told me how –because of the sanctions– it had taken him well over a year to get a simple part for his gastroenterology practise.

In 2015, visiting Damascus’ University Hospital, where bed after bed was occupied by a child maimed by terrorists’ shelling (from Ghouta), a nurse told me:

We have so many difficulties to ensure that we have antibiotics, specialized medicines, maintenance of the equipment… Because of the sanctions, many parts are not available, we have difficulties obtaining them.

Visiting a prosthetic limbs factory in Damascus in 2016, I was told that, due to the sanctions, smart technology and 3D scanners –used to determine the exact location where a limb should be fixed– were not available. Considering the over eight years of war and terrorism in Syria, there are untold numbers of civilians and soldiers in need of this technology to simply get a prosthetic limb fixed so they can get on with their lives. But no, America’s concern for the Syrian people means that this, too, is near impossible.

In 2018, Syria’s minister of health told me Syria had formerly been dubbed by the World Health Organization a “pioneer state” in providing health care.

“Syria had 60 pharmaceutical factories and was exporting medicine to 58 countries. Now, 16 of these factories are out of service. Terrorists partially or fully destroyed 46 hospitals and 620 medical centres.”

I asked the minister about the complex in Barzeh, targeted with missile strikes by the US and allies in April 2018. Turns out it was part of the Ministry of Health, and manufactured cancer treatment medications, as well as antidotes for snake or scorpion bites/stings, the antidote also serving as a basic material in the manufacture of many medicines.

[READ: Caught in a lie, US & allies bomb Syria the night before international inspectors arrive ]

Last year, Syrian-American doctor Hussam al-Samman told me about his efforts to send to Syria chemotherapy medications for cancer patients in remission. He jumped through various hoops of America’s unforgiving bureaucracy, to no avail. It was never possible in the first place.

“We managed to get a meeting in the White House. We met Rob Malley, a top-notch assistant or adviser of Obama at that time. I asked them: ‘How in the world could your heart let you block chemotherapy from going to people with cancer in Syria?’They said: ‘We will not allow Bashar al-Assad to have anything that will make people love him. We will not support anything that will help Bashar al-Assad look good’.”

Fast forward to the present: in spite of the sanctions, or precisely because of the sanctions, Syria recently opened its first anti-cancer drugs factory. President Assad is, again, looking rather good to Syrians.

UN expert: Sanctions on Venezuela “a form of terrorism”

Alfred de Zayas, the human rights lawyer and former UN official, aptly calls sanctions a form of terrorism, “because they invariably impact, directly or indirectly, the poor and vulnerable.

Earlier this year, The Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated 40,000 deaths had occurred due to sanctions in 2017-2018.

While in Venezuela in March this year, I spoke with people from poor communities about the effects of sanctions. Most I met were very well aware of the US economic war against their country, and rallied alongside their government.[READ: US is manufacturing a crisis in Venezuela so that there is chaos and ‘needed’ intervention][READ: Venezuela isn’t Syria… but America’s war tactics are the same ]

One woman told me:

“If you don’t have water, don’t have electricity, the basics, how would you feel, as a mother? This makes some of the population, that doesn’t understand about the sanctions, blame the government.”

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, said during that visit:

“We told [American diplomat and Trump envoy] Mr Elliott Abrams, ‘the coup has failed, so now what are you going to do?’ He kind-of nodded and said, ‘Well, this is going to be a long-term action, then, and we are looking forward to the collapse of your economy.’”Indeed, that collapse would come about precisely due to the immoral US sanctions against the Venezuelan people.

North Korean Youth: Sanction the USA

After visiting Korea’s north in August 2017, in a photo essay I noted:

“The criminal sanctions against the North, enforced since 1950, making even more difficult the efforts to rebuild following decimation. The sanctions are against the people, affecting all sectors of life.”[READ: Photo-Report: The North Korea Neither Trump Nor Western Media Wants The World To See]And although most I met there were proud of their country’s achievements in spite of the sanctions, they were also vocal about the injustice of being bombed to near decimation and then sanctioned.

In a Pyongyang Middle School, to my questions about the sanctions, a girl replied:

The sanctions are not fair, our people have done nothing wrong to the USA.

Another boy spoke of the silence around America’s use of nuclear bombs on civilians:

Why do people all over the world give us sanctions? Why can’t we put sanctions on the US?

5df75c9685f5407f827bf153

Dr. Kim Un-Song: “The sanctions are inhumane and against human rights.” © Eva Bartlett

At the Okryu Children’s Hospital, Doctor Kim Un-Song said: “As a mother, I feel extremely angry at the sanctions against the DPRK, even blocking medicine and instruments for children. This is inhumane and against human rights.

As with Syria, sanctions on the DPRK prevent further entry to Korea of hospital machinery, as well as replacement parts.

Defying the sanctions

In spite of draconian sanctions, Syria, the DPRK and Venezuela continue to resist. After fighting international terrorism since 2011, Syria is rebuilding in liberated areas. That process could proceed more quickly were sanctions lifted, making it easier for companies outside of Syria to invest. 

But Syria is managing, with its allies’ support, including that of North Korea, and due to the steadfastness of the heroic Syrian people, and its leadership. 

REB

Link to tweet: https://twitter.com/SyriaRebuilt/status/1205149675747205120

Likewise, Venezuela and North Korea, facing America’s economic war and endless propagandistic rhetoric, continue to resist.

jorge

Link to tweet: https://twitter.com/jaarreaza/status/1204209014625783810

In each of these countries, I’ve met well-informed people who are fighting the sadism of the sanctions, and who are determined to remain free of US tyranny.


Trump and Tehran Shake Up the Middle East الانسحاب الأميركي من سورية والهجوم على أرامكو.. ترامب وطهران يهزّان المنطقة

Smoke rising from the Abqaiq oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia after it was attacked in September.

Smoke rising from the Abqaiq oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia after it was attacked in September.CreditCreditPlanet Labs Inc., via Associated Press

Iran’s airstrike on Saudi oil sites exposed vulnerabilities around the region.

By 

Opinion Columnist

 

I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it bizarre that the Republican leadership is (rightly) going nuts over President Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds in Syria while it’s ignoring his betrayal of the U.S. Constitution at home. If only Lindsey Graham & Co. were as eager to defend our democracy as they are the Kurds. But I digress.

If you think Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria will make the Middle East more explosive, you’re correct. But there’s far more going on. Those troops were also interrupting Iran’s efforts to build a land bridge from Tehran to Beirut to tighten a noose around Israel — and their removal could help bring the Iran-Israel shadow war out into the open. This is the really big story in the Middle East today.

Here’s the background: In the early hours of Sept. 14, the Iranian Air Force launched roughly 20 drones and cruise missiles at one of Saudi Arabia’s most important oil fields and processing facilities. The drones and cruise missiles flew so low and with such stealth that neither their takeoff nor their impending attack was detected in time by Saudi or U.S. radar. The pro-Iranian Houthi militia in Yemen claimed responsibility for the raid. That was as believable as saying that Santa Claus did it.

Some Israeli strategists argue that this surprise attack was the Middle East’s “Pearl Harbor.” An exaggeration? Maybe not.

“Recalculating, recalculating, recalculating.”

Every country is now recalculating its security strategy, starting with Israel. Consider how Uzi Even, one of the founding scientists of Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor, assessed the Iranian strike.

“A total of 20 cruise missiles and drones were used in the attack,” Even wrote in Haaretz on Sunday. “Drone wreckage discovered in Saudi Arabia shows that the Iranians are manufacturing and operating drones so advanced (with jet engines and significant stealth capabilities) that they do not lag behind Israeli capabilities in this field. Seventeen targets incurred a direct hit in this concentrated bombardment. Considering the 20 projectiles whose debris was found at the attack site, that’s an 85-percent success rate, which indicates the very high capability and reliability of the technology that was used.”

Photos of the aftermath, Even added,

“show the precision that was achieved in the attack. Each one of the spherical gas tankers in the picture was hit in the center. The pictures also show that the strike precision was one meter. … The Iranians, or their proxies, showed that they can hit specific targets with great precision and from a distance of hundreds of kilometers. We have to accept the fact that we are now vulnerable to such a strike.”

Even’s conclusion: Operations at Israel’s “Dimona nuclear reactor should be halted. It has now been shown to be vulnerable, and the harm it could cause would likely exceed its benefits.”

Not a bad day’s work for Iran — and Israel wasn’t even the target. Now let’s look at the Arabs. The Saudis and the United Arab Emirates got a double shock from the Iranian attack. It simultaneously exposed Iran’s precision and Donald Trump’s isolationism.

It had to have been quite the cold shower for the Saudis to call Washington to discuss what the U.S. planned as a strategic response only to discover that our president was busy looking for the cellphone number of Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, to see if he could cut the same deal with him that he did with North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un: Give me a photo-op handshake, and we can do business.

Translated into Arabic, Trump was saying to the Gulf Arabs: “I forgot to tell you. I’m only interested in selling you our weapons — not using them in your defense. But don’t forget to stay in my hotel when you’re next in D.C.! Operators are standing by.”

The Saudis and the U.A.E. got the message. They, too, got busy looking for the Iranian leader’s cellphone number — and the number of the pro-Iranian emir of Qatar, too. Time to get right with all the neighbors.

This, in turn, has fractured the tacit U.S.-Sunni Arab-Israel anti-Iran coalition and left Israel feeling more alone than ever to deal with Iran — and its proxies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

Because Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel also got a double dose of Trump reality. After Netanyahu did poorly in the recent Israeli election, Bibi learned how much Trump doesn’t like losers. When asked about Bibi after the Israeli election, Trump said coolly that he hadn’t spoken to him — “our relationship is with Israel.”

President Trump has cooled on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since the Israeli election. CreditRonen Zvulun/Reuters

Translated into Hebrew, Trump was saying: “Bibi? Bibi? I once knew a guy who owned a deli at Lexington and 55th named Bibi.”أكتوبر 11, 2019

And then, after the Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia, Trump declared that when it comes to a war with Iran, “we’d certainly like to avoid it.” Again, translated into Hebrew:

“America is happy to keep oil sanctions on Iran, but it is not going to partner with Israel and the Sunni Arabs to create regime change there or militarily destroy Iran’s capabilities.”

Bibi had completely misread Trump’s mind-set, which was: “We’re awash in oil and gas. We’re not fighting anyone’s wars in the Middle East.” The Iranians don’t even have an embassy in Washington. But they read Trump perfectly.

Recalculating, recalculating, recalculating.

The Gulf Arabs can and will find a way to buy off the Iranians. Israel can’t. Israel has a real Iran problem. Beware.

Iran’s is an awful regime. The ruling clerics have deprived at least two generations of young Iranians the freedom and tools to realize their full potential — one reason that a brain drain and drug addiction are rampant among Iranian youth.

While Iran’s people “aspire to be like South Korea — and they have the talent to be that — Iran’s hard-line leadership prefers to rule like North Korea,” observed Karim Sadjadpour, Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment.

So Iran’s Islamic revolutionaries need constant conflict with America and Israel to justify their ruthless internal repression. But Iran is heir to a great civilization. Even with its brain drain, it’s still got lots of real scientific talent.

توماس فريدمان

أنا متأكد من أنني لست الشخص الوحيد الذي يجد أنه من الغريب أن القيادة الجمهورية تتجاهل خيانة الرئيس ترامب للأكراد في سورية، رغم كونها محقة في ذلك التجاهل، لكنها تتجاهل خيانته للدستور الأميركي في الداخل بغير حق، ويا حبذا لو كان ليندسي جراهام وشركاه فقط متحمّسين للدفاع عن ديمقراطيتنا مثل دفاعهم عن الأكراد.

لكن تعالوا لندقق.

إذا كنت تعتقد أن سحب ترامب للقوات الأميركية من سورية سيجعل الشرق الأوسط أكثر تفجراً، فأنت على حق، لكن هناك الكثير مما يحدث. فهذه القوات كانت تحاول عرقلة جهود إيران لبناء جسر بري من طهران إلى بيروت يهدف لتشديد الخناق حول إسرائيل ، وسحبها يمكن أن يساعد في تسريع إطلاق حرب الظل بين إيران و إسرائيل . وهذه هي القصة الكبيرة حقاً في الشرق الأوسط اليوم.

إليكم الخلفية: في الساعات الأولى من يوم 14 سبتمبر، أطلق سلاح الجو الإيراني حوالي 20 طائرة وصواريخ كروز على واحد من أهم حقول النفط ومنشآت المعالجة في المملكة العربية السعودية، طارت الطائرات بدون طيار وصواريخ كروز منخفضة للغاية وبطريقة الأشباح لدرجة أنه لم يتم اكتشاف إقلاعها أو هجومها الوشيك في الوقت المناسب من قبل الرادار السعودي أو الأميركي. أعلنت ميليشيا الحوثي الموالية لإيران في اليمن مسؤوليتها عن الغارة. كان ذلك معقولاً مثل قول إن بابا نويل فعل ذلك أيضاً، لكن التفصيل هنا حول من فعلها لم يعد مهماً.

يجادل بعض الاستراتيجيين الإسرائيليين أن هذا الهجوم المفاجئ كان «ميناء بيرل هاربر» في الشرق الأوسط، وهو الهجوم الياباني الذي صدم أميركا وفاجأها ودخلت الحرب العالمية الثانية بعده، ربما نعم وربما لا.

أي شخص في إيران توصل إلى فكرة هذه الضربة الجوية الجريئة حصل على التهنئة والترقية، إذ لا يمكن تخيّل القيام بالعمل بشكل أفضل، لأن الصوت الذي تسمعه يصدر من كل عاصمة عربية و إسرائيل هو الصوت نفسه الذي تسمعه من مساعد القيادة الآلي عندما تنحرف سيارتك فجأة عن المسار المحدد:

إعادة الحساب، إعادة الحساب، إعادة الحساب.»

تقوم كل دولة الآن بإعادة حساب استراتيجيتها الأمنية، بدءاً بـ إسرائيل . تأمل كيف قام عوزي إيفين، أحد العلماء المؤسسين لمفاعل ديمونا النووي الإسرائيلي، بتقييم الضربة الإيرانية داعياً إلى الإسراع بإقفال المفاعل بعدما صارت فوائده أقلّ من درجة المخاطر التي يجلبها.

وكتبت صحيفة «هآرتس» يوم الأحد: «تم استخدام ما مجموعه 20 صاروخًا وطائرة بدون طيار في الهجوم». و»حطام الطائرة بدون طيار المكتشفة في المملكة العربية السعودية يُظهر أن الإيرانيين يصنعون ويديرون طائرات بدون طيار متطوّرة للغاية مع محركات نفاثة وقدرات تسلل وتشويش راداريّ كبيرة لدرجة أنهم لا يتخلفون عن القدرات الإسرائيلية في هذا المجال، سبعة عشر هدفًا تلقت ضربة مباشرة في هذا القصف المركز، بالنظر إلى المقذوفات العشرين التي تم العثور على حطامها في موقع الهجوم، فإن ذلك يمثل نسبة نجاح تبلغ 85 بالمئة، مما يشير إلى القدرة العالية والموثوقية العالية للتكنولوجيا التي تم استخدامها. «

نشر في نيويورك تايمز يوم 10-10-2019.

DONALD TRUMP: ‘FUTURE BELONGS TO PATRIOTS NOT GLOBALISTS’

Donald Trump: 'Future Belongs To Patriots Not Globalists'

South Front

On September 24, US President Donald Trump made his third address to the United Nations. Many said that the adress was ‘ordinary’ for Trump. Some parts of the adress are inspiring, while others raise concerns.

Donald Trump at the United Nations General Assembly (full transcript):

Madam President, Mr. Secretary General, world leaders, ambassadors, and distinguished delegates:

One year ago, I stood before you for the first time in this grand hall. I addressed the threats facing our world, and I presented a vision to achieve a brighter future for all of humanity. Today, I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we have made.

In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America is so thrilled. [Laughter] I did not expect that reaction, but that’s okay. [Applause] America’s economy is booming like never before. Since my election, we have added $10 trillion in wealth. The stock market is at an all-time high in history, and jobless claims are at a 50-year low.

Comment: Mr. Trump is right and his ill-wishers cannot deny this. It is important to note that the successes of the US economy took place amid the decline of the global economy. The economic strategy of the Trump administration was designed to support the US national industry and demonstrated own effectiveness. The US nation is lucky that in the current condition the US leader is patriot Trump rather than some creature of the global capital.

African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment have all achieved their lowest levels ever recorded. We have added more than 4 million new jobs, including half a million manufacturing jobs. We have passed the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history. We have started the construction of a major border wall, and we have greatly strengthened border security. We have secured record funding for our military, $700 billion this year and $716 billion next year. Our military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been before. In other words, the United States is stronger, safer, and a richer country than it was when I assumed office less than two years ago. We are standing up for America and the American people.

We are also standing up for the world. This is great news for our citizens and for peace-loving people everywhere. We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace. Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth. That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination. I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.

Comment: Since the very start of the presidency, Mr. Trump has demonstrated that for him such words are not just a colorful rhetoric needed to cover destructive US actions towards other states. However, the life is not rainbows and unicorns. Washington has been demonstrating double standards in its foreign policy for a very long time.

From Warsaw to Brussels to Tokyo to Singapore, it has been my highest honor to represent the United States abroad. I have forged close relationships and friendships and strong partnerships with the leaders of many nations in this room.

Our approach has always yielded incredible change. With support from many countries here today, we have engaged with North Korea to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace. In June, I traveled to Singapore to meet face-to-face with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. We had highly productive conversations and meetings. We agreed that it was in both countries’ interest to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Since that meeting, we have seen a number of encouraging measures that few could have imagined a short time ago. The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction. Nuclear testing has stopped. Some military facilities are already being dismantled. Our hostages have been released. And as promised, the remains of our fallen heroes are being returned home, to lay at rest in American soil. I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken, though much work remains to be done. The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs. I also want to thank the many member states who helped us reach this moment, a moment that is actually far greater than people would understand—far great. But for, also, their support and the critical support that we will all need going forward, a special thanks for President Moon of South Korea, the Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and President Xi of China.

In the Middle East, our new approach is yielding great strides and very historic change. Following my trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Gulf countries opened a new center to target terrorist financing. They are enforcing new sanctions, working with us to identify and track terrorist networks, and taking more responsibility for fighting terrorism and extremism in their own region. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have pledged billions of dollars to aid the people of Syria and Yemen, and they are pursuing multiple avenues to ending Yemen’s horrible, horrific civil war.

Ultimately, it is up to the nations of the region to decide what kind of future they want for themselves and their children. For that reason, the United States is working with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Egypt to establish a regional strategic alliance so that Middle Eastern nations can advance prosperity, stability, and security across their home region.

Comment: These remarks once again demonstrate that the US president is supporter of the traditional system of the international relations. At the same time, the colorful phrase about the right of “the nations of the region to decide what kind of future they want for themselves and their children” is used to hide anti-Iranian intentions and efforts to create and strengthen an anti-Iranian coalition that would include Jordan and Egypt. The goal of this coalition would be to counter Iranian influence and in some cases even to meddle the Iranian internal political situation.

Thanks to the United States military, and our partnership with many of your nations, I am pleased to report that the bloodthirsty killers known as isis have been driven out from the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria. We will continue to work with friends and allies to deny radical Islamic terrorists funding, territory, or support or any means of infiltrating our borders.

The ongoing tragedy in Syria is heartbreaking. Our shared goals must be the de-escalation of military conflict along with a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. In this vein, we urge the United Nations–led peace process to be reinvigorated. But rest assured, the United States will respond if chemical weapons are deployed by the Assad regime.

Comment: Mr. Trump demonstrates a dramatic shift of the US position towards the conflict in Syria. He does not repeat the ‘Assad must go’ mantra and says that the conflict should be settled through “political solutions”. The President also avoids to mention the supposed US support to the Syrian opposition. Even, the cornerstone of the US public agenda in the Syrian conflict, “chemical weapons”, is used just as a warning in for the case if such weapons “are deployed”. This stance is in contrary to the stance of the Obama administration and the Trump administration during its first two years.

I commend the people of Jordan and other neighboring countries for hosting refugees from this very brutal civil war. As we see in Jordan, the most compassionate policy is to place refugees as close to their homes as possible, to ease their eventual return to be part of the rebuilding process. This approach also stretches finite resources to help far more people, increasing the impact of every dollar spent.

Every solution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria must also include a strategy to address the brutal regime that is fueled and financed in the corrupt dictatorship in Iran. Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and disruption. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond. The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from Iran’s treasury, seized valuable portions of the economy, and looted the religious endowments, all to line their own pockets and send their proxies to wage war. Not good. Iran’s neighbors have paid a heavy toll for the regime’s agenda of aggression and expansion. That is why so many countries in the Middle East strongly supported my decision to withdraw the United States from the horrible 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose nuclear sanctions.

The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran’s leaders. In the year since the deal has been reached, the military budget grew nearly 40 percent. The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, increase internal repression, finance terrorism, and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen. The United States has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda. Last month, we began reimposing hard-hitting nuclear sanctions that have been lifted under the Iran deal. Additional sanctions will resume November 5, and more will follow. We are working with countries that import Iranian crude oil to cut their purchases substantially. We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants “Death to America” and that threatens Israel with annihilation to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth. We just cannot do it. We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues, and we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.

This year, we took another significant step forward in the Middle East in recognition of every sovereign state to determine its own capital. I moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The United States is committed to a future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That aim is advanced, not harmed, by acknowledging the obvious facts. America’s policy of principled realism means that we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong, over the years, time and time again.

Comment: These remarks were expected. They were based on Trump’s vision of Israel as the key US ally in the Middle east. However, attempts to link the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem with the commitment to the “future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians” are surprising. It is unclear how the peace and stability could be achieved through these actions. Nonetheless, Trump once again demonstrated himself as the supporter of hard realpolitik principles and direct actions.

This is true, not only in matters of peace, but in matters of prosperity. We believe that trade must be fair and reciprocal. The United States will not be taken advantage of any longer. For decades, the United States opened its economy, the largest by far on Earth, with few conditions. We allowed foreign goods from all over the world to flow freely across our borders. Yet other countries did not grant us free and reciprocal access to their markets in return. Even worse, some countries abused their openness to dump their products, subsidize their goods, target our industries, and manipulate their currencies to gain unfair advantage over our country. As a result, our trade deficit ballooned to nearly $800 billion a year. For this reason, we are systematically renegotiating broken and bad trade deals. Last month, we announced a groundbreaking U.S.-Mexico trade agreement.

Comment: The strengthening of protectionism policies is generally consistent with Trump’s economic doctrine. Trump focuses on the revision of unfair, “broken and bad” trade deals. If Trump is re-elected, further protectionist measures in the field of the US foreign trade should be expected.

Just yesterday, I stood with President Moon to announce the successful completion of the brand-new U.S.-Korea trade deal. This is just the beginning. Many nations in this hall will agree that the world trading system is in dire need of change. For example, countries were admitted to the World Trade Organization that violate every single principle on which the organization is based.

Comment: The fact that the World Trade Organization does not work is an open secret. The organization de-facto does not pursues goals declared during its creation. Trump is right that the WTO violates “every single principle on which the organization is based.” It is important to note that the WTO gained its current form thanks to actions and policy of the previous US administrations, which were shaped by supporters of the globalists. These very powers were interested in the current state of the WTO. However, the US president that demonstrates different approaches, focusing on protectionism, the national economic development and the rationale nationalism, is not interested in such a state of the WTO.

While the United States and many other nations played by the rules, these countries use government-run industrial planning and state-owned enterprises to rig the system in their favor. They engaged in relentless product dumping, forced technology transfer, and the theft of intellectual property. The United States lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs, nearly a quarter of all steel jobs, and 60,000 factories after China joined the WTO. We have racked up $13 trillion in trade deficits over the last two decades.

But those days are over. We will no longer tolerate such abuse. We will no longer allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated, and our wealth to be plundered and transferred. America will never apologize for protecting its citizens. The United States has just announced tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese-made goods, for a total so far of $250 billion. I have great respect and affection for my friend President Xi, but I have made clear that our trade imbalance is just not acceptable. China’s market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated.

As my administration has demonstrated, America will always act in our national interests. I spoke before this body last year and warned that the UN Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution, shielding egregious human-rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends. Our ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, laid out a clear agenda for reform, but despite reported and repeated warnings, no action at all was taken. So the United States took the only responsible course: We withdrew from the Human Rights Council and we will not return until real reform is enacted.

For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support and recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority. The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process.

Comment: Trump once again declares his vision of the United States as an independent sovereign state, which should be governed exclusively by the people of the United States through democratic procedures. He rejects the globalism and demonstrates that he is well aware of the nature and specifics of the processes that take place in a number of international bodies – for example, in the Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court. He names the forces that dominate these organizations – the global bureaucracy and the associated global capital – the globalists aiming to establish the so-called New World Order. Trump makes it clear that he is a fierce opponent of this concept.

WE WILL NEVER SURRENDER AMERICA’S SOVEREIGNTY TO AN UNELECTED, UNACCOUNTABLE GLOBAL BUREAUCRACY. AMERICA IS GOVERNED BY AMERICANS. WE REJECT THE IDEOLOGY OF GLOBALISM, AND WE EMBRACE THE DOCTRINE OF PATRIOTISM. AROUND THE WORLD, RESPONSIBLE NATIONS MUST DEFEND AGAINST THREATS TO SOVEREIGNTY NOT JUST FROM GLOBAL GOVERNANCE, BUT ALSO FROM NEW FORMS OF COERCION AND DOMINATION.

Comment: These words are the culmination and the very essence of the address. Globalists will not forgive this. The next US presidential race is expected to be even tenser than the previous one. Trump could be described as a controversial person. But in this very case, he seems to be an island of sanity and a clear vision surrounded by oligarchic clans advocating globalism and the New World Order.

In America, we believe in energy security for ourselves and for our allies. We have become the largest energy producer anywhere on the face of the Earth. The United States stands ready to export our abundant, affordable supply of oil, clean coal, and natural gas. OPEC and OPEC nations are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it. Nobody should like it. We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good. We want them to stop raising prices; we want them to start lowering prices. They must contribute substantially to military protection from now on. We are not going to put up with it, these horrible prices, much longer. Reliance on a single foreign supplier can leave a nation vulnerable to extortion and intimidation. That is why we congratulate European states such as Poland for leading the construction of a Baltic pipeline so that nations are not dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs. Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course.

Here in the Western Hemisphere, we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers. It has been the formal policy of our country since President Monroe that we reject the interference of foreign nations in this hemisphere and in our own affairs. The United States has recently strengthened our laws to better screen foreign investments in our country for national-security threats. We welcome cooperation with countries in this region and around the world that wish to do the same. You need to do it for your own protection.

The United States is also working with partners in Latin America to confront threats to sovereignty from uncontrolled migration. Tolerance for human struggling and human smuggling and trafficking is not humane. It is a horrible thing that is going on, at levels that nobody has ever seen before. It is very, very cruel. Illegal immigration funds criminal networks, ruthless gangs, and the flow of deadly drugs. Illegal immigration exploits vulnerable populations and hurts hardworking citizens and has produced a vicious cycle of crime, violence, and poverty. Only by upholding national borders, destroying criminal gangs can we break the cycle and establish a real foundation for prosperity.

We recognize the right of every nation in this room to set its own immigration policy in accordance with its national interests, just as we ask other countries to respect our own right to do the same, which we are doing. That is one reason the United States will not participate in the new Global Compact on Migration. Migration should not be governed by an international body, unaccountable to our own citizens. Ultimately, the only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries. Make their countries great again.

Comment: Trump’s United States would continue demonstrate the rationale protectionism and isolationism and defend the right of the nation to decide what kind of future it wants for itself.

Currently, we are witnessing a human tragedy as an example in Venezuela. More than 2 million people have fled the anguish inflicted by the socialist Maduro regime and its Cuban sponsors. Not long ago, Venezuela was one of the richest countries on earth. Today, socialism has bankrupted the oil-rich nation and driven its people into abject poverty. Virtually everywhere, socialism or communism has been tried. It has produced suffering, corruption, and decay. Socialism’s thirst for power leads to expansion, incursion, and oppression. All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone. In that spirit, we ask the nations gathered here to join us in calling for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela. Today, we are announcing additional sanctions against the repressive regime, targeting Maduro’s inner circle and close advisers.

We are grateful for all of the work the United Nations does around the world to help people build better lives for themselves and their families. The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world by far of foreign aid. But few give anything to us. That is why we are taking a hard look at U.S. foreign assistance. That will be headed up by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We will examine what is working, what is not working, and whether the countries who receive our dollars and our protection also have our interests at heart. Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends. We expect other countries to pay their fair share for the cost of their defense.

The United States is committed to making the United Nations more effective and accountable. I have said many times that the United Nations has unlimited potential. As part of our reform effort, I have told our negotiators that the United States will not pay more than 25 percent of the UN peacekeeping budget.

Comment: The US president just mocked international bodies in his unique style. He declared support to their actions, but said that he would not give them money.

This will encourage other countries to step up, get involved, and also share in this very large burden. We are working to shift more of our funding from assessed contributions to voluntary so that we can target American resources to the programs with the best record of success. Only when we each of us does our part and contributes our share can we realize the United Nations’ highest aspirations. We must pursue peace without fear, hope without despair, and security without apology.

Looking around this hall, where so much history has transpired, we think of the many before us who have come here to address the challenges of their nations and of their times. Our thoughts turn to the same question that ran through all of their speeches and resolutions, through every word and every hope. It is the question of, what kind of world will we leave for our children and what kind of nations they will inherit. The dreams that fill this hall today are as diverse as the people who have stood at this podium, and as varied as the countries represented right here, in this body, are. It really is something. It really is great, great history.

There is India, a free society over a billion people, successfully lifting countless millions out of poverty and into the middle class. There is Saudi Arabia, where King Salman and the crown prince are pursuing bold new reforms. There is Israel, proudly celebrating its 70th anniversary as a thriving democracy in the Holy Land. In Poland, the great people are standing up for their independence, their security, and their sovereignty.

Comment: The list of ‘successful and democratic’ nations named by Mr. Trump is especially interesting and funny. He said that India is “a free society over a billion people, successfully lifting countless millions out of poverty and into the middle class”. But he somehow forgot to mention that India is the state with one of the highest levels of social inequality. In fact, India is in the list because it’s the main regional competitor of China, the US is draining brains from the Indian nation, and India is a prospective market for the US industry, mainly the military industrial complex.

Saudi Arabia and Israel are the united Middle Eastern family of the traditional US allies. Their economies are incorporated into the US economy.

As to Poland, this state is currently one of the main political and economic competitors of Germany within the EU and thus the US ally. At the same time, Washington sees Poland as a deterrent force against Russia. Besides this, Poland has been acting as an agent working in interests of the Anglo-Saxon world in Europe.

Many countries are pursuing their own unique visions, building their own hopeful futures, and chasing their own wonderful dreams of destiny, of legacy, and of a home. The whole world is richer. Humanity is better because of this beautiful constellation of nations, each very special, each very unique, each shining brightly in its part of the world. In each one, we see also promise of a people bound together by a shared past and working toward a common future.

As for Americans, we know what kind of future we want for ourselves. We know what kind of a nation America must always be. In America, we believe in the majesty of freedom and the dignity of the individual. We believe in self-government and the rule of law. We prize the culture that sustains our liberty, a culture built on strong families, deep faith, and fierce independence. We celebrate our heroes, we treasure our traditions, and, above all, we love our country. Inside everyone in this great chamber today, and everyone listening all around the globe, there is the heart of a patriot that feels the same powerful love for your nation, the same intense loyalty to your homeland, the passion that burns in the hearts of patriots and the souls of nations has inspired reform and revolution, sacrifice and selflessness, scientific breakthroughs and magnificent works of art.

Our task is not to erase it, but to embrace it—to build with it, to draw on its ancient wisdom, and to find within it the will to make our nations greater, our regions safer, and the world better. To unleash this incredible potential in our people, we must defend the foundations that make it all possible. Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered. And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all. When we do, we will find new avenues for cooperation unfolding before us. We will find new passion for peacemaking rising within us. We will find new purpose, new resolve, and new spirit flourishing all around us, and making this a more beautiful world in which to live.

Together, let us choose a future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride. Let us choose peace and freedom over domination and defeat. Let us come here to this place to stand for our people and their nations.

Comment: These are great words. Nonetheless, we kindly ask Mr. Trump to reveal the list of nations that would have a right able to achieve this “future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride”, according to his vision.

Forever strong, forever sovereign, forever just. Forever thankful for the grace and the goodness and the glory of God. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the nations of the world. Thank you very much.

***

In the end, it is also interesting to note that Mr. Trump has almost fully ignored the so-called ‘Russian threat’ in his address. He mentioned Russia once when talked about the US interests in the European energy market and the German-Russian relations. However, there was no criticism aimed against Russia in general. Furthermore, the US President fully ignored the Ukraine question demonstrating his real stance towards the conflict.

Over the past days, the Trump administration has sent signals that it is not going to fund Ukraine just because it’s allegedly engaged in the “war with Russia”. Furthermore, Washington demonstrates that it is not interested in the further escalation of the situation in the region.

بعد ثماني سنوات

بقلم د. بثينة شعبان

حين أخذت روسيا والصين أول فيتو مزدوج في مجلس الأمن في 4تشرين الأول2011 ضد المخططات العدوانية الغربية التي تستهدف سورية أرضاً وشعباً غصّ مكتبي بوسائل الإعلام العربية والأجنبية ليسألوني ما شعور القيادة السورية والشعب السوري تجاه هذا الفيتو غير المسبوق في مجلس الأمن.

وأتذكر أنني وبعد شكر الدولتين على موقفهما من سورية ودعمهما للشعب السوري قلت:

لقد تغيّر العالم اليوم، وأثر هذا الفيتو لا يخصّ سورية وحدها وإنما يخصّ العالم بأسره، لأنه الإشارة الأولى لانتهاء هيمنة القطب الواحد والانتقال إلى عالم متعدد الأقطاب، الأمر الذي تصبو إليه معظم شعوب العالم بعد أن عانت من الحروب الكارثية الأميركية.

واليوم وبعد ثماني سنوات تقريباً بالضبط، تستخدم كل من سورية والصين في مجلس الأمن في 19 أيلول 2019 حق الفيتو لإجهاض قرار مبني على الأكاذيب التي روّجها البعض في محاولة أخيرة ومستميتة منهم لحماية ما تبقى من فلول الإرهابيين في إدلب والذين يشكلون آخر ما لديهم من أدوات إرهابية من الخونة والمرتزقة الأجانب للاستمرار في استهداف الشعب السوري الذي تمكّن وبمساعدة الحلفاء والأصدقاء من إحباط كل مخططاتهم التي كلّفتهم المليارات، كما كلّفتهم سمعتهم وكشفت عن جوهر نواياهم العدوانية وحقيقة مقاصد سياساتهم الاستعمارية القائمة على النهب والحروب. أما اليوم وبعد ثماني سنوات من الفيتو الأول المزدوج فما مؤشرات السياسة الدولية وإلى أين تتجه الأمور؟

لقد استمرت الدول الاستعمارية الغربية خلال هذه السنوات بممارسة طرائقها الشيطانية المعروفة من إعلام كاذب ومغرض يقلب الحقائق رأساً على عقب، وبثّ روح الفتنة الطائفية لشق صفوف الشعوب في البلدان المستهدفة، أملاً منها بتفتيت هذه البلدان من الداخل مستخدمين الخونة وضعاف النفوس والوعي. وواكبت خطواتها هذه بفرض عقوبات مجرمة على الشعوب والبلدان تسببت في قتل مئات الآلاف من الأشخاص إما بسبب نقص الغذاء وإما الدواء أو الطاقة، غير آبهة بأي معاناة إنسانية في أي مكان. وكانت العقوبات والتهديدات السمتين الأساسيتين لهذه المرحلة مع استمرار استخدام العصابات الإرهابية المأجورة من الخونة والمرتزقة حيثما أمكن ذلك لتغيير ميزان القوى لصالحها.
ولكن ما النتيجة الحقيقية التي تزداد ثباتاً على الأرض يوماً بعد يوم بعيداً عن تهويل الأكاذيب الزائفة التي تصوغها مخابراتهم معتمدة على مخبريهم من المرتزقة الذين يقومون ببثها على أكبر مساحة في أكبر عدد من وسائل تواصل أصبحت مكشوفة للجميع؟ حقيقة الأمر هي أن هذه السنوات قد كشفت بما لا يقبل الشك حقيقة النظم الاستعمارية الغربية وأنها نظم تهدف أولاً وأخيراً إلى نهب ثروات الشعوب وخاصة النفط العربي، معتمدة على النظم النفطية المتهالكة حيث لا تقيم وزناً لهذه الشعوب ولا للحياة الإنسانية في أي مكان. فسقطت أقنعة ما أسموها «منظمات إنسانية» أو «حقوق إنسان» أو «أطباء بلا حدود» أو «الخوذ البيضاء»؛ لنكتشف أن معظم هذه المنظمات مجنّدة من قبل المخابرات الغربية، إما للتجسس على من هم في أماكن وجودها أو لجمع الأموال لتمويل الإرهاب. كما سقطت بشكل صارخ مقولة «الإعلام الحر» وأصبح واضحاً للجميع أن الإعلام الغربي يخدم دوائر صنع القرار السياسي والمخابراتي والأهداف التي ترسمها هذه الدوائر لزيادة ثروات النخبة الرأسمالية الحاكمة من خلال قمع الآخرين وفرض أقسى العقوبات عليهم، وفي هذا الصدد، والحق يقال، كانت الحرب على سورية أول كاشف لحقيقة هذا النظام الرأسمالي الغربي وأهدافه بعيداً عمّا يروّج له من أكاذيب. كما كان صمود الجيش العربي السوري بدعم من الحلفاء والأصدقاء والأشقاء وبمساعدة المواقف التي اتخذتها روسيا والصين في مجلس الأمن ملهماً للآخرين ومبرهناً على أن ما تخطط له الولايات المتحدة ليس قدراً، وأن الشعوب قادرة وبإمكانات ضئيلة على الانتصار على الباطل مهما كانت قوته وثرواته.

خلال الحرب على سورية أخذت كوريا الشمالية مواقف مهمة في مقارعة الولايات المتحدة وأثبتت أنها قوة لا يستهان بها. وخلال الحرب على سورية أخذت فنزويلا موقفاً جريئاً ومهماً من العقوبات الأميركية وتهديد الولايات المتحدة باجتياح فنزويلا وتغيير الحكم بها، وصمد الشعب الفنزويلي رغم العقوبات الظالمة والتهديدات المستمرة عليه. وفي الحين ذاته انسحبت الولايات المتحدة من الاتفاق النووي الإيراني مع ضجة إعلامية كبرى بأن هذا الانسحاب سينهي إيران وسيجعلها لقمة سائغة لمن يستهدفها من عملاء الولايات المتحدة. كما راهنوا على بثّ الفرقة بين أبناء الشعب الإيراني وسخّروا كل إمكاناتهم لهذا الهدف، ولكن أين هم الآن رغم كل العقوبات المجرمة التي اتخذوها بحق إيران والتي ولا شك سببت مصاعب جمة لكل الإيرانيين ولكنهم صمدوا وتفوقوا بإرادتهم وإصرارهم وكبريائهم على كلّ محاولات الغرب لخرق صفوفهم أو النيل من صمودهم.

اا حرب اليمن فقد ضربت مثلاً في صمود شعب فقير لا يملك إلا النزر اليسير، في وجه قوى مموّلة ومتغطرسة، وقلب هذا الشعب الأبيّ معادلة العدوان ليصبح هو الذي يحدد سير المعركة. ومع أن روسيا الاتحادية نالت نصيباً كبيراً من العقوبات الأميركية فقد استمرت بإثبات ذاتها على الساحتين الإقليمية والدولية كقطب لا يمكن تجاهل آرائه ومواقفه بعد اليوم. وبالتوازي؛ فإن كلاً من الصين وروسيا وإيران وسورية وفنزويلا واليمن والعراق وكوريا تنشر ثقافة العالم المتعدد الأقطاب وتبرهن للعالم مع كل مطلع شمس أن هذه العقوبات لن تؤثر في مسار الدول الرافضة للظلم والهيمنة، وأنها لا تزيد الذين يعانون منها إلا إصراراً، ليس على تجاوزها فقط وإنما على تجاوز النظم التي فرزتها وجعلت منها أداة لكسر إرادة الشعوب وفرض المسار الاستعماري عليها. اليوم وبعد سنوات ثمانٍ من أول فيتو مزدوج تأخذه روسيا والصين في مجلس الأمن، فقد النظام الاستعماري الغربي قدرته على إقناع أحد بالسير على خطاه كما فقد قدرته على إقناع العالم أنه قابل للعيش والاستمرار. اليوم البحث جار في دول كثيرة وعلى مستويات مختلفة عن صيغ ديمقراطية تناسب ثقافة وتاريخ الشعوب والبلدان ولا تمتّ إلى الليبرالية الغربية بصلة.

اليوم يتشكل العالم الجديد على أسس مختلفة عن تلك التي أمسك بها الغرب وفرضها على معظم دول العالم. اليوم بداية مسار تحرر للبلدان والشعوب، تحرر ليس فقط من الهيمنة العسكرية الغربية والنهب الاستعماري، وإنما تحرر من القرار الغربي ومن كلّ تمظهراته، بعد أن انكشف مرة وإلى الأبد بُعد هذا النظام عن المعيار الإنساني الحقيقي. اليوم لا يمكن للغرب أن يتحدث عن نفسه كما اعتاد منذ سنوات قليلة مدعياً أنه الأسرة الدولية، فالأسرة الدولية تتشكل في مكان آخر وعلى أسس وقيم مختلفة جذرياً عمّا اعتاد الغرب فرضه على العالم منذ عقود. لاشك لدي أننا وبعد سنوات قليلة سنكون قد اجتزنا جزءاً مهماً من الدرب الذي بدأ أول مؤشّر له في 4 تشرين الأول 2011.

 

   ( الاثنين 2019/09/23 SyriaNow)

Cynthia McKinney to ST: Peace has a chance only with a peace leader in national security adviser position or no one at all in it

ST

Wednesday, 11 September 2019 12:03

Former US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has said that it might be better for the position of the national security adviser to remain vacant, hoping that President Donald Trump is about to begin to keep his campaign promises about the folly of the US fighting wars for Israel.

In a statement to the Syria times e-newspaper on the effect of the defenestration of John Bolton as President Trump’s third national security adviser, McKinney said: “Given the President’s poor staffing choices, it might be better for the position to remain vacant. Any appointment from the swamp will continue the same pro-Israel, warmongering, swamp policies.”

She believes that peace has a chance only with a peace leader in that position or no one at all in it.

“Even then, the Lobby for war spans both sides of the aisles, both Republicans and Democrats. I have repeatedly made suggestions for Trump of individuals who understand the swamp and are repulsed by what it is today,” she added.

Asked about the reason behind the defenestration of Bolton, McKinney replied:

“Bolton blew the President’s peace initiatives with North Korea, Syria, and Afghanistan. Let’s hope that the President is about to begin to keep his campaign promises about the folly of the US fighting wars for Israel.”

Yesterday, President Trump pushed out John R. Bolton, his third national security adviser.

Cynthia McKinney is an international peace and human rights activist, noted for her inconvenient truth-telling about the U.S. war machine. She was held for seven days in an Israeli prison after attempting to enter Gaza by sea and traveled to Libya during U.S. bombing and witnessed the crimes against humanity committed against that country’s people. In addition to Libya, she has traveled to Cuba, Syria, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and as she puts it:

“Wherever U.S. Bombs are dropping or U.S. sanctions are biting.”

She is the author or editor of three Clarity Press books: she has written one book Ain’t Nothing Like Freedom and edited The Illegal War On Libya and the 2018 book, How the U.S. Creates Sh*thole Countries.

In 1992, McKinney won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She was the first African-American woman from Georgia in the U.S. Congress. She was the first Member of Congress to demand an investigation of the events of 9/11/2001. McKinney was criticized and as a result, she was defeated in 2002; however, she ran again and was re-elected in 2004.

In December 2008, Cynthia made international headlines when her boat was rammed by the Israeli military as she was attempting to deliver medical supplies to Gaza. In 2009, Cynthia attempted to reach Gaza again, this time armed with crayons, coloring books, and school supplies. Her boat was overtaken in international waters by the Israeli military and she was kidnapped to Israel where she spent 7 days in an Ramleh Prison. Finally, Cynthia entered Gaza by land in July 2009 with George Galloway’s Viva Palestina USA.

She has over 100,000 followers on FaceBook and more than 30,000 followers on Twitter who live in countries all over the world—from Argentina to Zimbabwe, according to Tweetsmap as of January 2019.

Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour

Bolton Gone: Improved Peace Prospects?

Image result for Bolton Gone: Improved Peace Prospects?

September 13, 2019
The departure of John Bolton as US National Security Adviser is a good step towards decreasing international tensions by the Trump administration. But a lot more is needed from President Donald Trump to indicate a serious pivot to normalizing relations with Russia, Iran and others.

When Trump gave Bolton his marching orders earlier this week, the president said he “strongly disagreed” with his erstwhile security adviser over a range of foreign policy issues. Trump had also expressed frustration with Bolton’s incorrigible militarist tendencies.

There is no doubt Bolton was an odious figure in the White House cabinet. One of our SCF authors, Martin Sieff, wrote this excoriating commentary on Bolton’s nefarious record of warmongering dating as far back as the launching of US wars in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, when the mustachioed maverick served then as a chief neocon ideologue in the GW Bush administration.

One wonders why Trump brought such a war hawk into his administration when he appointed Bolton as NSA in April 2018. Perhaps, as another of our writers, Robert Bridge, surmised in a separate commentary this week, Trump was using hardliner Bolton as a foil to deflect opponents from within the Washington establishment who have been trying to undermine the president as “soft on foreign enemies”. A ruse by Trump of keeping “your enemies close”, it is averred.

Bolton certainly did his best to hamper Trump’s seeming attempts at scaling back US foreign military interventions. He opposed the plan to withdraw American troops from Syria. The reckless Bolton also wound up a policy of aggression and regime change against Venezuela, which Trump has latterly seemed to grow wary of as a futile debacle.

In regard to Russia, Bolton carried heaps of Cold War baggage which made Trump’s declared intentions of normalizing relations with Moscow more difficult.

The shameless warmonger Bolton openly advocated for regime change in Iran, which seemed to contradict Trump’s oft-stated position of not seeking regime change in Tehran, despite the president’s own animosity towards Iran.

The former NSA also opposed any attempt by Trump to engage in detente with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Reportedly, it was Bolton who derailed the incipient efforts at opening up dialogue with Pyongyang.

It is also thought that Bolton used his influence to impede Trump’s recent bid to host Taliban leaders at Camp David earlier this month which was aimed at trust-building for a proposed peace deal to withdraw US troops from that country after nearly 18 years of disastrous war.

That said, however, President Trump has not shown himself to be exactly a dovish figure. He has overseen countless sanctions being imposed on Russia, the abandoning of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty, and ongoing military support for the anti-Russia regime in Kiev.

Too, it was Trump who ordered the US collapse of the 2015 international nuclear accord with Iran in May 2018 and the re-imposition of harsh sanctions on Tehran. So, it would be misplaced to paint Bolton as the sole malign actor in the White House. Trump is personally responsible for aggravating tensions with Iran, as well as with Russia, Venezuela and others.

Nevertheless, it is to be welcomed that an inveterate war hawk like Bolton no longer has the president’s ear. Perhaps Trump can be freer to act on his instincts as a pragmatic deal-maker. One thing that the president deserves credit for is his unconventional style of engaging with nations and leaders who are designated as foes of America.

Russia this week gave a reserved response to the sacking of Bolton. The Kremlin said it would make assessments of a positive change in US policy based on actions, not mere announcements, such as the firing of Bolton. Time will tell.

It seems significant that immediately after Bolton was relieved of his post, Trump hinted to reporters that he was considering lifting sanctions off Iran if such a move persuaded Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to hold a face-to-face meeting with Trump at the United Nations general assembly in New York later this month.

Iran has repeatedly stated categorically that there will be no talks with Trump unless his administration revokes sanctions and returns to abiding by the nuclear accord. If there is a serious pivot to normal diplomacy by the White House, then what Trump does about sanctions on Iran will be a litmus test.

The same can be said about US sanctions on Russia. If Trump is earnest about a genuine reset in bilateral relations, then he must get rid of the raft of sanctions that Washington has piled on Moscow since the 2014 Ukraine crisis amid the many spurious allegations leveled against Russia.

Bolton banished is but a small step towards a more diplomatically engaged US administration. But it would be unwise to expect the departure of this one figure as being a portent for progress and a more peaceful policy emerging in Washington.

The Washington establishment, the deep state and the bipartisan War Party, with its entrenched Cold War ideology, seems to have an endemic sway over policy which may thwart Trump’s efforts to direct a less belligerent US.

To illustrate the twisted nature of the US establishment, one only had to read the way sections of the American corporate-controlled media lamented the departure of Bolton. The New York Times, which is a dutiful conduit for deep state intelligence and the foreign policy establishment, actually bemoaned the ouster of Bolton, calling him a “voice of restraint”.

The NY Times commented, with approval, on how Bolton “objected to attempts to pursue diplomatic avenues with players considered American enemies. And he angered Trump with a last-minute battle against a peace agreement with the Taliban… whether it was inviting the Taliban to Camp David or cooperating with Russia, he [Bolton] was the national security adviser who said no.”

In another piece this week, the NY Times commented, again approvingly of Bolton: “Mr Bolton strongly opposed detente with Iran, and his unceremonious ouster has reignited concerns among some Republicans [and Democrats] in Congress about the White House’s declining projection of American military power around the world.”

Can you believe it? The so-called US “newspaper of record” is somehow valorizing an out-and-out warmonger in the form of Bolton, and appears to be advocating “projection of American military power around the world”. The latter phrase being but an Orwellian euphemism for imperialism and war.

The sobering conclusion is that Bolton’s departure hardly heralds a new beginning of diplomacy and engagement by Trump, if we assume to give this president the benefit of doubt for good intentions. Bolton may be gone, but there are formidable political forces in the US establishment which will work to ensure Trump’s room for maneuver remains heavily compressed. The Cold War ideology is so ingrained in Washington, it is much bigger than just one man, whether that is the vile personage of Bolton or the more flexible Trump.

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