Poland is HIDING the truth from the world and it’s getting bad – Redacted with Clayton Morris

January 21, 2023

Putin Tells Raisi in Phone Call: Russia Ready to Upgrade Cooperation with Iran

January 20, 2023

By Staff, Agencies

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country is ready to upgrade cooperation with Iran in different fields as he held talks with President Raisi for the second time in less than ten days.

The Iranian and Russian presidents discussed bilateral ties and regional developments during a phone conversation initiated by the Kremlin on Thursday.

During the phone conversation, Raisi stressed the need to boost bilateral cooperation and coordination in various fields.

He also described as “positive and constructive” the agreements between the two countries for expanding cooperation in the fields of energy and transit.

For his part, Putin said Moscow is ready to boost cooperation with Tehran in the areas of energy as well as transit.

Iran and Russia are working to advance the North-South corridor which will facilitate transportation and greatly reduce transportation time.

In 2002, Russia, Iran, and India signed an agreement for the International North-South Transport Corridor [INSTC], a 7,200 km multi-mode network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.

The INSTC is seen a game-changer that will shorten the distance and lower the cost of transportation from South Asia to Europe through Iran and Russia and potentially serve as an alternative to the Suez Canal for East-West trade.

The two leaders also discussed the situation in Syria during the conversation. Raisi stressed that Iran supports solving the Syrian crisis through the Astana Format.

Putin also highlighted the role of Astana talks in solving the Syrian conflict, noting that all sides are committed to the format.

 Iran and Russia, as the allies of the Syrian government, as well as Turkey, which sides with the opposition, set up the Astana peace process in January 2017 intending to put an end to the Syrian conflict through the involvement of the Syrian government and the opposition.

The leaders of Russia and Iran also agreed “to maintain contacts at different levels,” the Kremlin’s press service said, TASS reported.

The two leaders had discussed issues of mutual interest on January 18. Raisi had then expressed Iran’s readiness to play a positive intermediary role in ending the war between Russia and Ukraine.

“The Islamic Republic invariably lays emphasis on the [importance of] strengthening of regional convergence and [points out] the detrimental effect of the foreign intervention [in the region],” he said then while referring to developments in the Caucasus region and Syria.

The latest phone conversation comes a year after Raisi made a two-day visit to Moscow. After arriving in Tehran on January 21, 2022, Raisi told reporters that “fundamental agreements” on expanding all-out bilateral relations were clinched during the trip.

U.S. to train Ukraine troops on Patriots in Oklahoma (Colonel Macgregor)

January 19, 2023

Try to ignore the moron with his “Putin the Killer” “value signaling”, but do listen to Macgregor instead.

President Assad Resisting Russian Pressure to Help Erdogan

 ARABI SOURI J

Russian President Putin continues his extensive efforts to help the Turkish madman Erdogan in ruling Turkey, economically, Russia has done its uttermost to help the Turkish economy after the US and European Union pressure on it and despite the policies of Erdogan prior to the Russian special military operation in Ukraine were very harmful to Russia itself. The latest attempt by Mr. Putin to help the Turkish madman is to pressure President Bashar Assad to meet Erdogan in a photo-op summit which Erdogan will sell to his people as a sign of resolving the Syrian refugees issue in Turkey.

Syria’s response to previous attempts to mend ties with Turkey falls very much under the principles of international law, the UN Charter, and the bases of the Adana Accords, Turkey has interfered in Syria militarily, politically, economically, and by sponsoring tens of thousands of al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists, Syria has not harmed Turkey in any way possible.

After a meeting in Moscow that joined the Syrian minister of defense to his Turkish counterpart with the presence of the Russian minister of defense, Erdogan started selling his election promise that he’s on the verge of rapprochement with Syria that will see millions of refugees return to their home country.

The Turkish regime has even set dates for a meeting between the foreign ministers of Syria and Turkey which prompted the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates to visit Damascus and ask President Assad to include his country in such a meeting.

Syria’s response to further meetings with the Turkish side are varying from negative to suspicious regarding the Turkish commitments, after all, Turkey is a NATO member state and the leaders of this ‘defensive’ alliance are not known to keep their words, especially Erdogan. Russia knows that firsthand and now even more after the revelations of former German Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande that they were never serious to implement the Minsk agreements regarding the Donbas and were using them only to buy time for Ukraine to build up a strong army and threaten Russia.

Erdogan has also not only failed to implement the Idlib agreements in which he promised to cease supporting Al Qaeda and ISIS and to dismantle these terrorist groups, but he also went on beefing up these terrorists with more imported terrorists, supplies of weapons, and by sending the Turkish army, NATO’s second-largest army to protect those terrorists turning posts which were supposed to serve as observation posts to see the dismantling and withdrawal of al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists into military bases to support those terrorists inside Syrian territories.

All of this has not stopped Mr. Putin from adding more pressure on President Assad to help the Turkish madman in the upcoming elections to the extent of sending his special envoy, Mr. Lavrentiev, to Damascus to try to convince President Assad.

After receiving the Russian envoy President Bashar Assad said:

“The meetings with the Turkish side must be based on prior coordination and planning between Syria and Russia in order to be fruitful, and in order to reach the tangible goals and results that Syria wants from these meetings.”

President Assad then added:

“The objectives of the meetings stem from the national constants and principles of the state and the people, which are based on ending the Turkish occupation of the Syrian lands, and stopping support for terrorism.”

Al Qaeda, ISIS (ISIL – Daesh), their affiliates, and offshoots are considered terrorist groups by Syria, and most of the world including the United Nations General Assembly, and the United Nations Security Council, however, the regime of the Turkish madman Erdogan considers these same terrorists as moderate rebels and builds its policies toward Syria over a potential essential role for these terrorists in Syria’s future political leadership!

Yet, seems that the Russian leadership, and especially President Putin sees the Turkish madman Erdogan as a winning card against NATO and a reliable person.

The failed foreign policies of the Turkish madman Erdogan have stripped him of his friends in his country and abroad, the biggest failure was in Syria when he vowed to pray in the Grand Omayyad Mosque in Damascus as a conqueror after toppling the government of Bashar Assad, it was President Assad who saved the Turkish economy under Erdogan and Gul after the European Union doors were closed in its face when the Syrian gates were opened for Turkish businesses inside Syria and through it to the Arab world.

All of Turkey’s economic gains in the past two decades are merely because of President Bashar Assad, and all of Turkey’s economic losses in the past few years are merely because the Turkish madman Erdogan failed to topple the only person who helped him and his country stand on its feet no matter how much Qatar, Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, and now the combined Gulfies help Turkey. With the southern gates blocked and with millions of refugees pressuring the Turkish economy, there’s no way Erdogan can win the upcoming elections.

Erdogan’s future without the presidency is in a confined prison cell, his and his family’s corruption is beyond comprehension, even his own partners in the Turkish mafia went against him, by winning the elections, the Turkish dictator can immune himself from the prosecution he’s promised by the Turkish opposition, and can solidify more powers under him to rule without opposition, anyway, most of the Turkish opposition are either in jail or in exile.

Sedat Peker, The Mafia and Erdogan… And Syria, Again
Sedat Peker the mafia boss in series of YouTube videos exposes Erdogan’s links to drugs, terrorist groups, money laundering, and Israel.
Syria News

An adviser of the Turkish madman Erdogan exposed his boss’s real intentions toward Syria: Erdogan will not implement any agreement he strikes with President Assad before the Turkish elections, and will allow 1.5 million to 2 million Syrian refugees to return to their home country only if Aleppo is placed under the administrative control of Turkey!

Will the Russian leadership of Mr. Putin continue to pressure Syria into helping Erdogan win re-election coming this mid-May, or understand that the likes of the Turkish madman Erdogan cannot be trusted no matter what other concessions the Russians are able to get out of him?

It was the war criminal and former US President George W. Bush who tasked the Turkish madman Erdogan with a leading role in the region if he helps the USA implement its PNAC (Project for the New American Century) by dismantling all secular Arab countries especially Syria to protect the creation of the Jewish state of Greater Israel aka Greater Middle East Project, known in biblical terms as the kingdom of the antichrist; the Turkish madman Erdogan will become the neo-Ottoman sultan of the divided Muslim world in exchange. The whole world changed after the anti-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood project of Erdogan failed miserably in Syria which caused a reverse domino effect in the Arab states in which it succeeded earlier: Tunisia, Sudan, Libya, Morocco, and Egypt.

The Turkish madman Erdogan started the war on Syria turning his country into the main hub for all sorts of terrorists hired by the different ‘intelligence’ agencies of NATO and Gulfies to fight the Syrian state, and it’s in the hands of the Turkish madman to end the war on Syria and secure re-election, Russia must not ask of Syria to help Erdogan, it must pressure Erdogan to at least comply with the agreements the latter signed of which Russia and Iran were the guarantors.


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A Moscow Meeting Shatters Fantasies of a Syrian ‘Confederation’


January 11 2023

Photo Credit: The Cradle
A geopolitical writer and journalist who previously worked at leading Lebanese daily As-Safir.

Malek al-Khoury

Russian-brokered Syrian-Turkish rapprochement will bury prospects of a divided Syria, with the potential for opposition factions to be co-opted into the armed forces.

The newly-initiated Syrian-Turkish rapprochement talks are headed in Damascus’ favor and the “Turkish concessions” derided by opponents are just the start, insiders tell The Cradle.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has already abandoned his dream of “praying in the Umayyad Mosque” in Damascus. But sources say this will be swiftly followed by further concessions that will throw a wrench into the ambitions of Syria’s opposition factions.

An undivided Syria

There will be no “federalism” or “confederation” – western codewords for the break up of the Syrian state – at these talks, but rather a “Turkish-Russian” acceptance of Damascus’ conditions.

For starters, Ankara plans to open the strategic M4 highway – which runs parallel to the Turkish border and connects all the vital Syrian cities and regions – as a prelude to opening the legal border crossings between Syria and Turkiye, which will re-establish trade routes between the two countries.

This move, based on an understanding between Damascus and Ankara, will essentially close the door on any opposition fantasies of breaking Syria into statelets, and will undermine the “Kurdish-American divisive ambition.”

It is not for nothing that Washington has sought to thwart communications between Ankara and Damascus. Under the guise of “fighting ISIS,” the US invested heavily in Syrian separatism, replacing the terror group with “Kurdish local forces” and reaped the rewards in barrels of stolen Syrian oil to help mitigate the global energy crisis.

Now Turkiye has closed the door to that ‘federalization’ plan.

A Russian-backed proposal

The Syrian-Turkish talks in Moscow on 28 December focused mainly on opening and establishing the necessary political, security, and diplomatic channels – a process initiated by their respective defense ministers.

While resolving the myriad thorny files between the two states is not as easy as the optimists would like, it is also nowhere as difficult as the fierce opponents of rapprochement try to suggest.

The Moscow discussions centered on mild, incremental solutions proposed by Russia. The Kremlin understands that the minefield between Ankara and Damascus needs to be dismantled with cold minds and hands, but insists that the starting point of talks is based on the political formulas of the Astana peace process that all parties have already accepted.

On the ground, Moscow is busy marketing satisfactory security settlements for all, though those on the battlefield appear to be the least flexible so far. The Russian plan is to “present security formulas to the military,” intended to be later translated into the integration of forces – whether Kurdish fighters or opposition militants – into the ranks of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

This will be achieved via committees led by both Syrian and Turkish intelligence services, a Russian source involved in coordinating the talks tells The Cradle.

Occupied areas of Syria, in 2023

Co-opting the Kurds

The Russian proposals, according to the source, rely on two past successful models for reconciliation on the battlefield. The first is the “Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood model in northern Aleppo,” an area once controlled by Kurdish forces who began to coordinate with the SAA after the sweeping 2016 military operation that expelled opposition militants from the eastern neighborhoods of the city.

The Russian source says that the “Sheikh Maqsoud” model succeeded because of “security coordination,” revealing that “Syrian state security is deployed at the entrances to the neighborhood with checkpoints that coordinate with the Kurdish forces inside – in every way, big and small.” This security coordination includes “arresting criminally wanted persons, and facilitating administrative and service services” in coordination with Damascus.

The second reconciliation model used by Russian forces in Syria succeeded in bringing together the SAA and Sheikh Maqsoud Kurdish militias in a joint military maneuver conducted near the town of Manbij in the countryside of Aleppo last August.

While the Russian source confirms that the experience of “security coordination” between the SAA and the Kurdish forces was “successful,” he cautions that these models need “political arrangements” which can only be achieved by “an agreement in Astana on new provisions to the Syrian constitution, which give Kurds more flexibility in self-governance in their areas.”

Opposition amnesty

A parallel proposal revealed to The Cradle by a Turkish source, approaches ground solutions from a “confederation” angle, anathema to the Syrian authorities. According to him, “Damascus must be convinced of sharing power with the qualified factions of the (Turkish) National Army for that.”

While the Turkish proposal tried to move a step closer to Damascus’ aims, it seems that Russian mediation contributed to producing a new paradigm: This would be based on the tried-and-tested Syrian “military reconciliation” model used for years – namely, that opposition militants hand over their arms, denounce hostility to the state, and are integrated into the SAA.

Turkiye’s abandonment of its “demand to overthrow the regime” applies also to its affiliated military factions inside Syria, as the latter’s goals have dwindled to preserving some areas of influence in the north of the country. This is the current flavor of Turkiye’s reduced “confederation” ambitions: To maintain Turkish-backed factions within “local administrations” in northern areas where Turkiye has influence. This, in return for giving up on Ankara’s political ambition of “regime change” in Damascus and redrawing Syria’s northern map.

The solution here will require amending the Syrian constitution, a process that began several years ago to no avail.

From the Syrian perspective, officials are focused on eliminating all opposing separatist or terrorist elements who do not have the ability to adapt to a “unified” Syrian society.

Therefore, Damascus rejects military reconciliation proposals for any “sectarian” separatist or factional militias. Syrian officials reiterate that “the unity of the lands and the people” is the only gateway to a solution, away from the foreign interests that promote “terrorism or secession” – a reference to the Turkish and American role in Syria’s war.

Reconciliation on Damascus’ terms

There is no “confederation” in the dictionary of the Syrian state, and it is determined to stick hard to the principle of Syrian unity until the end. Damascus is intent on one goal: Reconciliations based on surrendering arms in the countryside of Latakia, Idlib, Aleppo, Raqqa, Hasakah, Qamishli, and al-Tanf, which are the areas that are still outside the control of the state.

According to the Turkish source, Syria refused to discuss anything “outside the framework of reconciliations and handing over weapons and regions,” which he says “makes it difficult for Ankara to undertake its mission,” especially in light of the fact that the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front controls large parts of these target areas.

A Syrian source tells The Cradle that the “Qamishli model” of military reconciliation is the closest one that applies to this case: Wherein “the SAA and national defense forces (the majority of which are pro-Damascus Kurds) coordinate fully.”

He makes clear that Damascus has already provided ample self-governance mechanisms for Kurds in the country’s north:

“The (Kurdish-run) Autonomous Administration in Syria already exists. It deals directly with Syria’s Ministry of Local Administration (in Damascus) and has multiple agencies that work through local representative councils to implement government plans in terms of security, tax collection, and services,” and of course it consists of the people of the region – Kurds.

The recent statement of top Erdogan advisor Yassin Aktay may throw a wrench in those works. His insistence that Turkiye should maintain control over the city of Aleppo – Syria’s second most populous, and its industrial heart – did not come out of nowhere.

Ankara considers that its repatriation of three million Syrian refugees should start from “local administrations run by the (Turkish-backed) Syrian National Army (a rebranded version of the opposition ‘Free Syrian Army),” says the Turkish source.

He is referring to Idlib, Aleppo, and their countrysides, and the areas in which Turkiye launched its “Olive Branch” and “Euphrates Shield” military operations. These locales in Syria’s north include the northern and eastern countryside of Aleppo, including Azaz, Jarabulus, al-Bab, Afrin, and its environs.

Turkiye may consider gradually handing over these strategic zones to its allied Syrian militias, he says.

“Call it confederation or not, these areas should be controlled by the Syrian National Army factions instead of the Al-Nusra Front – in order to ensure the safe return of the refugees.”

Steady progress

In short, the Russian mediation to bring Damascus and Ankara closer is moving slowly, but according to the Turkish source, “it is closer to reconciliation because the Syrian Ministry of Local Administration is beginning to take charge of regional affairs after holding new local council elections – in compliance with plans forged in the Astana process.”

Regarding Astana, the Turkish source says, “Let the Syrians treat the Kurdish and opposition areas as one, if the Kurds agree to dismantle their factions and join the Syrian army within a certain equation, the opposition factions will also accept.”

Regarding the complicated geopolitics of Syria’s east – currently occupied by US troops and their proxies – a high-ranking Syrian official who recently visited Saudi Arabia and Cairo, proposed “Arab intervention with the Syrian tribes to disengage tribe members in the Al-Tanf region from the US forces.” But according to the official, this would be subject to “the progress of relations between Damascus, Riyadh, Cairo, and possibly even Jordan.”

A few days ago, a video message was sent by Nusra Front leader Abu Muhammad al-Julani, in which he thundered: “Where are the armies of the Muslims?” It is a topical message from Al Qaeda’s Syria boss, who is angling to maintain his sectarian “area of ​​influence” in northwest Syria – strategic Idlib on the Turkish-Syrian border. Julani’s destructive narrative may be the last barrier to break for Damascus, Ankara, and Moscow to strike a deal on the ground.

Bye bye 1991-2022

January 10, 2023

by Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

2023 starts with collective NATO in Absolutely Freak Out Mode as Russian Defense Minister Shoigu announces that Russian Navy frigate Admiral Gorshkov is now on tour – complete with a set of Mr. Zircon’s hypersonic business cards.

The business tour will encompass the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, and of course include the Mediterranean, the Roman Empire’s former Mare Nostrum. Mr. Zircon on the prowl has absolutely nothing to do with the war in Ukraine: it’s a sign of what happens next when it comes to frying much bigger fishes than a bunch of Kiev psychos.

The end of 2022 did seal the frying of the Big Ukraine Negotiation Fish. It has now been served on a hot plate – and fully digested. Moscow has made it painfully clear there’s no reason whatsoever to trust the “non-agreement capable” declining superpower.

So even taxi drivers in Dacca are now betting on when the much- vaunted “winter offensive” starts, and how far will it go. General Armageddon’s path ahead is clear: all-out demilitarization and de-electrification on steroids, complete with grinding up masses of Ukrainians at the lowest possible cost to the Russian Armed Forces in Donbass until Kiev psychos beg for mercy. Or not.

Another big fried fish on a hot plate at the end of 2022 was the 2014 Minsk Agreement. The cook was no other than former chancellor Merkel (“an attempt to buy time for Ukraine”). Implied is the not exactly smokin’ gun: the strategy of the Straussian/neo-con and neoliberal-con combo in charge of US foreign policy, from the beginning, was to unleash a Forever War, by proxy, against Russia.

Merkel may have been up to something telling the Russians, in their face, that she lied like crypto-Soprano Mike Pompeo, then she lied again and again, for years. That’s not embarrassing for Moscow, but for Berlin: yet another graphic demonstration of total vassalage to the Empire.

The response by the contemporary embodiment of Mercury, Russian Foreign Ministry’s Maria Zakharova, was equally intriguing: Merkel’s confession could be used as a specific reason – and evidence – for a tribunal judging Western politicians responsible for provoking the Russia-Ukraine proxy war.

No one will obviously confirm it on the record. But all this could be part of an evolving, secret Russia-Germany deal in the making, leading to Germany restoring at least some of its sovereignty.

Time to fry NATO fish

Meanwhile, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev, visibly relishing his totally unplugged incarnation, expanded on the Fried Negotiation Fish saga. “Last warning to all nations”, as he framed it: “there can be no business with the Anglo-Saxon world [because] it is a thief, a swindler, a card-sharp that could do anything….From now on we will do without them until a new generation of sensible politicians comes to power… There is nobody in the West we could deal with about anything for any reason.”

Medvedev, significantly, recited more or less the same script, in person, to Xi Jinping in Beijing, days before the zoom to end all zooms – between Xi and Putin – that worked as a sort of informal closure of 2022, with the Russia-China strategic partnership perfectly in synch.

On the war front, General Armageddon’s new – offensive – groove is bound to lead in the next few months to an undisputable fact on the ground: a partition between a dysfunctional black hole or rump Ukraine on the west, and Novorossiya in the east.

Even the IMF is now reluctant to throw extra funds into the black hole. Kiev’s 2023 budget has an – unrealistic – $36 billion deficit. Half of the budget is military-related. The real deficit in 2022 was running at about $5 billion a month – and will inevitably balloon.

Tymofiy Mylovanov, a professor at the Kiev School of Economics, came up with a howler: the IMF is worried about Ukraine’s “debt sustainability”. He added, “if even the IMF is worried, imagine what private investors are thinking”. There will be no “investment” in rump Ukraine. Multinational vultures will grab land for nothing and whatever puny productive assets may remain.

Arguably the biggest fish to be fried in 2023 is the myth of NATO. Every serious military analyst, few Americans included, knows that the Russian Army and military industrial complex represents a superior system than what existed at the end of the USSR, and far superior to that of the US and the rest of NATO today.

The Mackinder-style final blow to a possible alliance between Germany (EU), Russia and China – which is what is really behind the US proxy war in Ukraine – is not proceeding according to the Straussian wet dream.

Saddam Hussein, former imperial vassal, was regime-changed because he wanted to bypass the petrodollar. Now we have the inevitable rise of the petroyuan – “in three to five years”, as Xi Jinping announced in Riyadh: you just can’t prevent it with Shock’n Awe on Beijing.

In 2008, Russia embarked on a massive rebuilding of missile forces and a 14-year plan to modernize land-based armed forces. Mr. Zircon presenting his hypersonic business card across the Mare Nostrum is just a small part of the Big Picture.

The myth of US power

The CIA abandoned Afghanistan in a humiliating retreat – even ditching the heroin ratline – just to relocate to Ukraine and continue playing the same old broken records. The CIA is behind the ongoing sabotage of Russian infrastructure – in tandem with MI6 and others. Sooner or later there will be blowback.

Few people – including CIA operatives – may know that New York City, for instance, may be destroyed with a single move: blowing up the George Washington bridge. The city can’t be supplied with food and most of its requirements without the bridge. The New York City electrical grid can be destroyed by knocking out the central controls; putting it back together could take a year.

Even trespassed by infinite layers of fog of war, the current situation in Ukraine is still a skirmish. The real war has not even started yet. It might – soon.

Apart from Ukraine and Poland there is no NATO force worth mentioning. Germany has a risible two-day supply of ammunition. Turkey will not send a single soldier to fight Russians in Ukraine.

Out of 80,000 US troops stationed in Europe, only 10% are weaponized. Recently 20,000 were added, not a big deal. If the Americans activated their troops in Europe – something rather ridiculous in itself – they would not have any place to land supplies or reinforcements. All airports and seaports would be destroyed by Russian hypersonic missiles in a matter of minutes – in continental Europe as well as the UK.

In addition, all fuel centers such as Rotterdam for oil and natural gas would be destroyed, as well as all military installations, including top American bases in Europe: Grafenwoehr, Hohenfels, Ramstein, Baumholder, Vilseck, Spangdahlem, and Wiesbaden in Germany (for the Army and Air Force); Aviano Air Base in Italy; Lajes Air Base in Portugal’s Azores islands; Naval Station Rota in Spain; Incirlik Air Base in Turkey; and Royal Air Force stations Lakenheath and Mildenhall in the UK.

All fighter jets and bombers would be destroyed – after they land or while landed: there would be no place to land except on the autobahn, where they would be sitting ducks.

Patriot missiles are worthless – as the whole Global South saw in Saudi Arabia when they tried to knock out Houthi missiles coming from Yemen. Israel’s Iron Dome can’t even knock out all primitive missiles coming from Gaza.

US military power is the supreme myth of the fish to be fried variety. Essentially they hide behind proxies – as the Ukraine Armed Forces. US forces are worthless except in turkey shoots as in Iraq in 1991 and 2003, against a disabled opponent in the middle of the desert with no air cover. And never forget how NATO was completely humiliated by the Taliban.

The final breaking point

2022 ended an era: the final breaking point of the “rules-based international order” established after the fall of the USSR.

The Empire entered Desperation Row, throwing everything and the kitchen sink – proxy war on Ukraine, AUKUS, Taiwan hysteria – to dismantle the set-up they created way back in 1991.

Globalization’s rollback is being implemented by the Empire itself. That ranges from stealing the EU energy market from Russia so the hapless vassals buy ultra-expensive US energy to smashing the entire semiconductor supply chain, forcibly rebuilding it around itself to “isolate” China.

The NATO vs. Russia war in Ukraine is just a cog in the wheel of the New Great Game. For the Global South, what really matters is how Eurasia – and beyond – are coordinating their integration process, from BRI to the BRICS+ expansion, from the SCO to the INSTC, from Opec+ to the Greater Eurasia Partnership.

We’re back to what the world looked like in 1914, or before 1939, only in a limited sense. There’s a plethora of nations struggling to expand their influence, but all of them are betting on multipolarity, or “peaceful modernization”, as Xi Jinping coined it, and not Forever Wars: China, Russia, India, Iran, Indonesia and others.

So bye bye 1991-2022. The hard work starts now. Welcome to the New Great Game on crack.

US on alert as UAE seeks to join Turkish-Syrian reconciliation talks

As the UAE tries to join Russia in mediating between Ankara and Damascus, the US is looking to establish a middle ground between Turkiye and the SDF in hopes of preventing normalization with Syria

January 08 2023

(Photo Credit: Emirates News Agency)

ByNews Desk- 

During a speech in Ankara on 5 January, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted that a meeting with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad may soon take place, “as part of efforts for peace.” He added that a tripartite meeting between the foreign ministers of Turkiye, Russia and Syria is scheduled to be held in the near future for the first time since 2011.

The upcoming meeting aims to enhance communication after Russian-sponsored talks between the Turkish and Syrian defense ministers were held in Moscow on 28 December. The meeting was the highest-level of official meetings between Ankara and Damascus since the start of the Syrian war.

In a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 5 January, Erdogan called on the Syrian government to “take the steps to achieve a tangible solution concerning the case of Syria.”

The US seeks to establish a middle ground between Ankara and the SDF in order to prevent Turkish-Syrian reconciliation

The Syrian-Turkish rapprochement via declared Russian mediation was paralleled by Emirati-Syrian rapprochement – the latest of which was a “brotherly” meeting aimed at strengthening cooperation and restoring historical relations between Assad and Foreign Minister of the UAE Abdallah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, according to SANA.

Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported that the UAE seeks “to join Russia in sponsoring Syrian-Turkish relations at a high level,” noting that the Emirati foreign minister’s visit to Damascus sought to arrange Turkiye’s participation in the tripartite meeting of Syrian-Turkish-Russian foreign ministers, making it a quadripartite meeting.

The meeting is meant to pave the way for a presidential meeting between Erdogan and Assad in the presence of Putin. Reportedly, the UAE has offered to host this summit, with a possibility of a high-level UAE official being present at the meeting if it will be held in Moscow.

Asharq Al-Awsat added that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu plans to visit Washington on 16-17 January to brief US officials on the developments of Turkish-Syrian normalization, his meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Faysal Mikdad, and the “roadmap” sponsored by Moscow in the context of security, military, political and economic fields – as agreed upon by the defense ministers as well as the intelligence chiefs in Syria, Turkiye and Russia over the past weeks.

As Turkiye has been launching successive operations against Kurdish groups both on the Turkish-Syrian border as well as within Syria itself under ‘Operation Claw Sword,’ a Western official informed Asharq Al-Awsat that a high-ranking US official will be visiting Ankara in the coming hours as part of efforts to mediate between Turkiye and the SDF in northeastern Syria.

Ankara has demanded that Moscow and Washington commit to the implementation of the bilateral military agreements signed at the end of 2019. The agreements stipulate the withdrawal of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to beyond 30 kilometers from the Turkish border, and from the areas of Manbij and Tal Rifaat, in addition to the withdrawal of all heavy weaponry.

The SDF says that it has fulfilled its obligations, and will not withdraw its police force – known as the Asayish – nor dismantle its local councils, despite Turkiye’s insistence on dissolving all Kurdish military and civil institutions in the area.

Meanwhile, Cavusoglu told media on 29 December that Ankara is willing to withdraw from the territory it occupies in northern Syria and hand it over to Damascus in the event that “political stability” is reached – after cooperation in “neutralizing ISIS members, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the YPG.”

The Saudi newspaper’s report stated that US mediation seeks to reach a “compromise” between the Kurdish groups and Ankara without a new Turkish incursion taking place ahead of the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections in mid-2023. This mediation seems to be an attempt at circumventing the imminent Syrian-Turkish reconciliation.

Another official source disclosed that Ankara was “uncomfortable with the leaks following the meeting of the Syrian, Turkish and Russian defense ministers in Moscow, and that it had agreed to a full withdrawal.” However, the source confirmed that, “it is true that Ankara and Damascus consider the PKK a common threat, and will work against any separatist agenda, because it is an existential threat to both countries,” adding that the two countries will “work to open the Aleppo-Latakia Highway.”

Following the UAE’s visit to Damascus, which came after the US called on its allies and international partners to refrain from normalizing ties with Syria, Asharq Al-Awsat quoted an official as saying that the US has been the only western country to issue a statement against normalization, and is working alongside Paris, Berlin, and London to assume a united stance against normalization with Syria.

Communication is currently underway for a meeting between the representatives of Paris, Berlin, London, and Washington and UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pederson in Geneva on 23 January. This meeting will take place before Pedersen’s visit to Damascus to meet with the Syrian foreign minister to “confirm the position against normalization, and support the provision of funding for electricity projects within the timeline of early recovery,” stipulated by a resolution for international aid that will be extended before 10 January.

Asharq Al-Awsat said that the UAE has proposed to contribute to the funding of economic and electrical projects in Syria – within the confines of the Caesar Act.

Simultaneously, Jordan, who was the first to open high-level channels of communication with Damascus, is leading efforts alongside other Arab countries to reach a “united Arab position that defines Arab demands in order to make normalization possible.”

The newspaper quoted another western official as saying that Jordan is calling for coordination to put pressure on Damascus to provide political and geopolitical steps for the coming phase in southern Syria, as Amman confirmed that there has been an increase in the smuggling of Captagon, weapons and ammunition across the Syrian border following the start of the normalization process. Additionally, Amman has said that the Iranian presence in southern Syria near the Jordanian border has not diminished, and that there has been an expansion of ISIS activity in the area, according to the official.

Syria’s Arab League membership was suspended in November of 2011 following the start of the Syrian war, and it has been excluded ever since.

Russian-Turkish Partnership in the Area of Another Turkish-Syrian Crisis

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

Alexandr Svaranc
In today’s geopolitical dynamics, Russia and Turkey maintain a relevant regional presence in strategically important regions of the Near and Middle East, where the interests of the two powers can combine and diverge. However, the ruling elites have a high sense of maintaining a balance of power, respecting national interests, avoiding the prospect of radicalization of conflict situations and seeking decoupling to strengthen regional peace and mutually beneficial cooperation.

It should be recognized that the administrations of Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have so far succeeded in finding relatively acceptable solutions to crisis situations through constructive dialogue, guiding the diplomacy of the two countries towards finding joint solutions on the same issue of Syria, overcoming the burden of historical stereotypes and building a new example of a worthy partnership.

In this context, Russia and Turkey have established a number of effective negotiating platforms (in particular the Astana, Sochi and Geneva summits in multilateral and bilateral formats). Russia understands the concerns of Turkish partners on key issues of Turkey’s national security (including ethnic separatism, external threats to territorial integrity and international terrorism). Russia, given its economic, resource, technological, intellectual and military-industrial strength, does not set out to suppress its important geographical neighbor. On the contrary, Moscow is developing a high level of strategic partnership in all the aforementioned areas, making a significant contribution to stabilizing Turkey’s financial and economic situation and strengthening its defense potential, and expects to expand trade with the ambitious goal of reaching USD 100 billion.

The stability and progress of each country depends not least on border security and the normalization of relations with its immediate neighbors. The political course of Turkey’s ruling Justice Party, led by its charismatic leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, proclaimed the “Zero Problems with the Neighbors” strategy in the early 2000s. For the Republic of Turkey, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023, the tradition of a post-imperial state remains high, where the complex history of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War I was partly transformed into a painful relationship with many of its neighbors, who regained or lost their independence on the wreckage of the collapsed state.

Of course, the declaration of the said strategy without taking into account current realities cannot simultaneously succeed on all directions of Turkey’s borders and requires time and painstaking diplomatic work on bilateral and multilateral levels. At the same time, Turkey has had a number of positive achievements in shaping better relations with Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria and African countries. There is every reason to believe that Ankara is also interested in restoring full-fledged friendly relations with such a key country in the Arab East as Syria.

The peculiarities of the US regional policy in the Middle East have led to widespread destabilization in a number of Arab countries, to the negative phenomenon of the growth of radical Islamic movements with their institutionalization as Al Qaeda and ISIS (both terrorist groups banned in Russia), which eventually led to the chaos in a large part of the Levant. Accordingly, the destabilization of the political situation in the same Syria has provoked ethnic and religious strife, triggered a wave-like flow of a large army of refugees mainly to neighboring Turkey, and caused a significant social and economic crisis which took a heavy toll on the Turkish economy.

For Turkey, the politicization of the Kurdish issue within and near its national borders is an objective concern, forcing the authorities to pursue a tough course to prevent another territorial redistribution and, as a consequence, new social cataclysms in the Near and Middle East. Both Turkey and its reliable partners have to contend with these challenges.

The Russian peacekeeping operation in Syria since fall 2015 has set a new precedent for eliminating the US foreign monopoly in this region. With the arrival of the Russian Air Force, conditions have developed on Syrian territory for more effective interaction with key states in the Near and Middle East (in particular Turkey and Iran) to curb the threat of international terrorism emanating from ISIS (terrorist group banned in Russia) and to find political ways to resolve the accumulated differences in the Syrian-Turkish agenda, combining them with effective peacekeeping operations.

Turkey, which has problems with Kurdish separatism, is very sensitive to attempts to activate the Kurdish militant movement in Syria. This is why, after the Syrian Kurds declared political autonomy in 2014, Ankara recognized the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a terrorist organization and ally of the PKK, which is banned in Turkey, and the fighting wing of the PYD, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), as a military opponent. Partly due to the Russian presence in Syria, a number of Turkey’s limited military operations in the north have become a reality in order to avoid the creation of quasi Kurdish independent territorial entities capable of intensifying terrorist and separatist threats to Ankara. In particular:

– Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016-2017 (as a result, the cities of Jarablus and al-Bab were subjected to military mop-ups, 2,000 square kilometers of Syrian territory came under Turkish control with the formation of a security buffer zone there);

– Operation Olive Branch in 2018 to prevent the Kurdish-populated cantons of Jazira, Kobani and Afrin from uniting and the Kurds from reaching the Mediterranean Sea (Afrin ended up under full control of Turkish forces);

– Operation Peace Spring in October 2019, with Turkish military and pro-Turkish Free Syrian Army (FSA) units advancing deep into northern Syria, taking control of new population centers – Ras al-Ain and Tel Abyad, cutting the strategic M-4 highway. Thanks to effective negotiations between the Russian and Turkish leaders in Sochi on October 22, 2019, new zones of influence in north-eastern Syria were secured, with the status quo maintained in Turkish-occupied areas and the withdrawal of all Kurdish groups from the entire border with Turkey 30km inland, as well as the establishment of Russian-Turkish patrols in the area.

It should be noted that from operation to operation, Turkey has built up its military forces from special forces units to the use of armored vehicles, artillery and air force with a combination of infantry from the same FSA units, gaining new experience in combat operations in this theater.

In November 2022, with air strikes against Kurdish military bases (in Kobani, Aleppo, Raqqa, al-Hasakah), Turkey announced a new “Operation Claw-Sword” in northern Syria. The formal occasion was the terrorist act of November 13, 2022 in Istanbul’s Istiklal Square, which the Turkish intelligence services recognized to be organized by Kurdish insurgents (in particular the PKK and a Kurdish fighter executor from Syria). Ankara aims to implement a declared plan to establish a 30-kilometer security zone along the entire border with Syria.

Erdoğan has announced his intention to conduct a ground operation involving regular army forces alongside the air operation. He also criticized Russia to a certain extent. Turkey’s leader believes that Moscow has not fully met its obligations under the 2019 Sochi agreements to withdraw Kurds from the 30-kilometer zone. However, the creation of the same “Idlib Security Zone” with Russian participation was, infamously, prevented by the fact that the US refused to withdraw its forces from the zone with the support of local Kurdish forces.

Russia and Turkey have gone a long way towards an effective partnership in the Syrian crisis. Of course, every time Moscow and Ankara make progress in finding new solutions to stabilize the situation in northern Syria, the US, aware of the loss of its own hegemony in the region, finds another form of torpedoing the Russian-Turkish agreements. Accordingly, the Russian-Turkish effective partnership is perceived in Washington as a kind of attack on America’s monopoly and a breakdown of NATO unity, plagued by equally obvious internal contradictions.

Meanwhile, Russia-Turkey relations are progressing with strong results to show for it. Thus, according to Mehmet Samsar, Turkish Ambassador to Russia, the trade turnover between Russia and Turkey by the end of 2022 could be close to USD 50 billion, an increase of USD 15 billion over 2021. The scope of this partnership is expanding: from a gas pipeline to a nuclear power plant, from military and technical cooperation to joint actions for regional peace, from a grain deal to a gas hub. Turkey remains one of the few NATO countries that has not supported total sanctions against Russia in the context of the special military operation in Ukraine, pursues a traditionally pragmatic policy and maintains its role as a reliable partner and effective mediator in relations with its northern neighbor.

The author believes that, in the new year too, the Russian-Turkish situational alliance that has developed in recent years will maintain its momentum of growth, trust and optimization of new opportunities. The coming year 2023 will prove to be a time of intense and important political, economic, military and cultural events in the lives of the two countries. In particular, the next presidential election in Turkey, the launch of ambitious new economic projects (the gas hub, the unblocking of important regional communications, the prospect of a second nuclear power plant near Sinop on the Turkish Black Sea Coast), the establishment of stability in the safe corridor on the Turkish-Syrian border, the approach of peace in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, etc. All this points to a broader agenda of Russia-Turkey relations, where the parties can complement each other and interact effectively.

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Why BRI is back with a bang in 2023

January 06 2023

As Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative enters its 10th year, a strong Sino-Russian geostrategic partnership has revitalized the BRI across the Global South.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

The year 2022 ended with a Zoom call to end all Zoom calls: Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping discussing all aspects of the Russia-China strategic partnership in an exclusive video call.

Putin told Xi how “Russia and China managed to ensure record high growth rates of mutual trade,” meaning “we will be able to reach our target of $200 billion by 2024 ahead of schedule.”

On their coordination to “form a just world order based on international law,” Putin emphasized how “we share the same views on the causes, course, and logic of the ongoing transformation of the global geopolitical landscape.”

Facing “unprecedented pressure and provocations from the west,” Putin noted how Russia-China are not only defending their own interests “but also all those who stand for a truly democratic world order and the right of countries to freely determine their own destiny.”

Earlier, Xi had announced that Beijing will hold the 3rd Belt and Road Forum in 2023. This has been confirmed, off the record, by diplomatic sources. The forum was initially designed to be bi-annual, first held in 2017 and then 2019. 2021 didn’t happen because of Covid-19.

The return of the forum signals not only a renewed drive but an extremely significant landmark as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in Astana and then Jakarta in 2013, will be celebrating its 10th anniversary.

BRI version 2.0

That set the tone for 2023 across the whole geopolitical and geoeconomic spectrum. In parallel to its geoconomic breadth and reach, BRI has been conceived as China’s overarching foreign policy concept up to the mid-century. Now it’s time to tweak things. BRI 2.0 projects, along its several connectivity corridors, are bound to be re-dimensioned to adapt to the post-Covid environment, the reverberations of the war in Ukraine, and a deeply debt-distressed world.

Photo Credit: The Cradle
Map of BRI (Photo Credit: The Cradle)

And then there’s the interlocking of the connectivity drive via BRI with the connectivity drive via the International North South Transportation Corridor (INTSC), whose main players are Russia, Iran and India.

Expanding on the geoeconomic drive of the Russia-China partnership as discussed by Putin and Xi, the fact that Russia, China, Iran and India are developing interlocking trade partnerships should establish that BRICS members Russia, India and China, plus Iran as one of the upcoming members of the expanded BRICS+, are the ‘Quad’ that really matter across Eurasia.

The new Politburo Standing Committee in Beijing, which are totally aligned with Xi’s priorities, will be keenly focused on solidifying concentric spheres of geoeconomic influence across the Global South.

How China plays ‘strategic ambiguity’

This has nothing to do with balance of power, which is a western concept that additionally does not connect with China’s five millennia of history. Neither is this another inflection of “unity of the center” – the geopolitical representation according to which no nation is able to threaten the center, China, as long as it is able to maintain order.

These cultural factors that in the past may have prevented China from accepting an alliance under the concept of parity have now vanished when it comes to the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Back in February 2022, days before the events that led to Russia’s Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine, Putin and Xi, in person, had announced that their partnership had “no limits” – even if they hold different approaches on how Moscow should deal with a Kiev lethally instrumentalized by the west to threaten Russia.

In a nutshell: Beijing will not “abandon” Moscow because of Ukraine – as much as it will not openly show support. The Chinese are playing their very own subtle interpretation of what Russians define as  “strategic ambiguity.”

Connectivity in West Asia

In West Asia, BRI projects will advance especially fast in Iran, as part of the 25-year deal signed between Beijing and Tehran and the definitive demise of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – or Iran nuclear deal – which will translate into no European investment in the Iranian economy.

Iran is not only a BRI partner but also a full-fledged Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member. It has clinched a free trade agreement with the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), which consists of post-Soviet states Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

And Iran is, today, arguably the key interconnector of the INSTC, opening up the Indian Ocean and beyond, interconnecting not only with Russia and India but also China, Southeast Asia, and even, potentially, Europe – assuming the EU leadership will one day see which way the wind is blowing.

Map of INSTC (Photo Credit: The Cradle)

So here we have heavily US-sanctioned Iran profiting simultaneously from BRI, INSTC and the EAEU free trade deal. The three critical BRICS members – India, China, Russia – will be particularly interested in the development of the trans-Iranian transit corridor – which happens to be the shortest route between most of the EU and South and Southeast Asia, and will provide faster, cheaper transportation.

Add to this the groundbreaking planned Russia-Transcaucasia-Iran electric power corridor, which could become the definitive connectivity link capable of smashing the antagonism between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

In the Arab world, Xi has already rearranged the chessboard. Xi’s December trip to Saudi Arabia should be the diplomatic blueprint on how to rapidly establish a post-modern quid pro quo between two ancient, proud civilizations to facilitate a New Silk Road revival.

Rise of the Petro-yuan

Beijing may have lost huge export markets within the collective west – so a replacement was needed. The Arab leaders who lined up in Riyadh to meet Xi saw ten thousand sharpened (western) knives suddenly approaching and calculated it was time to strike a new balance.

That means, among other things, that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) has adopted a more multipolar agenda: no more weaponizing of Salafi-Jihadism across Eurasia, and a door wide open to the Russia-China strategic partnership. Hubris strikes hard at the heart of the Hegemon.

Credit Suisse strategist Zoltan Pozsar, in two striking successive newsletters, titled War and Commodity Encumbrance (December 27) and War and Currency Statecraft (December 29), pointed out the writing on the wall.

Pozsar fully understood what Xi meant when he said China is “ready to work with the GCC” to set up a “new paradigm of all-dimensional energy cooperation” within a timeline of “three to five years.”

China will continue to import a lot of crude, long-term, from GCC nations, and way more Liquified Natural Gas (LNG). Beijing will “strengthen our cooperation in the upstream sector, engineering services, as well as [downstream] storage, transportation, and refinery. The Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange platform will be fully utilized for RMB settlement in oil and gas trade…and we could start currency swap cooperation.”

Pozsar summed it all up, thus: “GCC oil flowing East + renminbi invoicing = the dawn of the petroyuan.”

And not only that. In parallel, the BRI gets a renewed drive, because the previous model – oil for weapons – will be replaced with oil for sustainable development (construction of factories, new job opportunities).

And that’s how BRI meets MbS’s Vision 2030.

Apart from Michael Hudson, Poszar may be the only western economic analyst who understands the global shift in power: “The multipolar world order,” he says,” is being built not by G7 heads of state but by the ‘G7 of the East’ (the BRICS heads of state), which is a G5 really.” Because of the move toward an expanded BRICS+, he took the liberty to round up the number.

And the rising global powers know how to balance their relations too. In West Asia, China is playing slightly different strands of the same BRI trade/connectivity strategy, one for Iran and another for the Persian Gulf monarchies.

China’s Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Iran is a 25-year deal under which China invests $400 billion into Iran’s economy in exchange for a steady supply of Iranian oil at a steep discount. While at his summit with the GCC, Xi emphasized “investments in downstream petrochemical projects, manufacturing, and infrastructure” in exchange for paying for energy in yuan.

How to play the New Great Game

BRI 2.0 was also already on a roll during a series of Southeast Asian summits in November. When Xi met with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit in Bangkok, they pledged to finally connect the up-and-running China-Laos high-speed railway to the Thai railway system. This is a 600km-long project, linking Bangkok to Nong Khai on the border with Laos, to be completed by 2028.

And in an extra BRI push, Beijing and Bangkok agreed to coordinate the development of China’s Shenzhen-Zhuhai-Hong Kong Greater Bay Area and the Yangtze River Delta with Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

In the long run, China essentially aims to replicate in West Asia its strategy across Southeast Asia. Beijing trades more with the ASEAN than with either Europe or the US. The ongoing, painful slow motion crash of the collective west may ruffle a few feathers in a civilization that has seen, from afar, the rise and fall of Greeks, Romans, Parthians, Arabs, Ottomans, Spanish, Dutch, British. The Hegemon after all is just the latest in a long list.

In practical terms, BRI 2.0 projects will now be subjected to more scrutiny: This will be the end of impractical proposals and sunk costs, with lifelines extended to an array of debt-distressed nations. BRI will be placed at the heart of BRICS+ expansion – building on a consultation panel in May 2022 attended by foreign ministers and representatives from South America, Africa and Asia that showed, in practice, the global range of possible candidate countries.

Implications for the Global South

Xi’s fresh mandate from the 20th Communist Party Congress has signaled the irreversible institutionalization of BRI, which happens to be his signature policy. The Global South is fast drawing serious conclusions, especially in contrast with the glaring politicization of the G20 that was visible at its November summit in Bali.

So Poszar is a rare gem: a western analyst who understands that the BRICS are the new G5 that matter, and that they’re leading the road towards BRICS+. He also gets that the Quad that really matters is the three main BRICS-plus-Iran.

Acute supply chain decoupling, the crescendo of western hysteria over Beijing’s position on the war in Ukraine, and serious setbacks on Chinese investments in the west all play on the development of BRI 2.0. Beijing will be focusing simultaneously on several nodes of the Global South, especially neighbors in ASEAN and across Eurasia.

Think, for instance, the Beijing-funded Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, Southeast Asia’s first: a BRI project opening this year as Indonesia hosts the rotating ASEAN chairmanship. China is also building the East Coast Rail Link in Malaysia and has renewed negotiations with the Philippines for three railway projects.

Then there are the superposed interconnections. The EAEU will clinch a free trade zone deal with Thailand. On the sidelines of the epic return of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to power in Brazil, this past Sunday, officials of Iran and Saudi Arabia met amid smiles to discuss – what else – BRICS+. Excellent choice of venue: Brazil is regarded by virtually every geopolitical player as prime neutral territory.

From Beijing’s point of view, the stakes could not be higher, as the drive behind BRI 2.0 across the Global South is not to allow China to be dependent on western markets. Evidence of this is in its combined approach towards Iran and the Arab world.

China losing both US and EU market demand, simultaneously, may end up being just a bump in the (multipolar) road, even as the crash of the collective west may seem suspiciously timed to take China down.

The year 2023 will proceed with China playing the New Great Game deep inside, crafting a globalization 2.0 that is institutionally supported by a network encompassing BRI, BRICS+, the SCO, and with the help of its Russian strategic partner, the EAEU and OPEC+ too. No wonder the usual suspects are dazed and confused.

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

In 2022 We Have the Explanation of 2023

January 04, 2023

Source

by Hugo Dionísio

While the numbers of Ronaldo and his “triumphant” signing for the “competitive” Saudi league are being discussed in Portuguese and European news, the world outside is spinning in such a way that the corporate press of the North Atlantic has a hard time keeping pace, opting to summarize the history of international politics in two main facts: the war in the East and Covid in the far-East. They don’t broaden the scope too much to avoid running the risk of fooling themselves.

Even within a framework of permanent confirmation of the premises perceived as real, constantly corroborated by the army of opinion makers, analysts, commentators and political analysts on duty, who, appearing to be very rational and pluralistic, never distance themselves from the essential and fundamental questions, the facts that will shape the year 2023, if debated and analyzed, would not fail to produce in the most immovable minds – those who only have certainties – the most inopportune questions.

If the conflict in the East will continue to shape much of the year to come, insofar as it was designed for this very purpose, it is important to remember two pieces of data that help to understand the ultimate reasons behind the aggression, violence and destruction that we are witnessing.

On the World Bank’s website (https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/MS.MIL.XPRT.KD?locations=RU-US), the data on “arms exports” show that since 2001 Russian exports in this field have not only approached those of the United States, but in some years (2002, 2013) have even exceeded the value exported by the United States.

It is not curious that the last year in which there was real value competition between the two countries was 2013. Between November 2013 and February 2014 Euromaidan took place, and in that very year a huge package of sanctions against the Russian federation (which had been in place at least since 2008) was passed, focusing especially on technologies imported by Russia for its largely public military industrial complex. As early as 2014, data from the World Bank show the sharp decline in Russian arms exports, which now account for a little more than 1/3 of US sales.

This data is not only relevant for us to understand the reason for Euromaidan, the imposition of a Russophobic regime and an entire escalation of weaponry that is well evidenced in the preparation that, for 8 years, was initiated by the neo-Nazi regime, building a totally disproportionate army and a network of fortifications in the Donbass reminiscent of Albanian bunkers. This data, together with others, confirms a number of premises that will shape our near future.

The problem is not just a “commercial substitution” problem. Not by a long shot. Martyanov explains to us, in 3 very important books, part of the problem. Under Putin’s reign, there was a reuse, modernization and optimization of all the installed potential left by the USSR and present in Russian society, not totally destroyed in the 90s, which allowed to offer to the world market more effective options from the military point of view, and, above all, much cheaper, considering the cost/benefit binomial. Today, the conflict between the two Slavic nations, has shown that US weaponry not only brings no substantial difference, but is outdated, especially in the field of artillery (long, short and medium distances) and air defense.

What Martyanov allowed us to foresee is that the U.S. could not allow an enormous number of world countries (from Algeria, to Saudi Arabia, to Turkey, India, Indonesia, Egypt, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, or even NATO countries such as Greece…) to start buying technologies superior to theirs (such as the case of the S-400 bought by Turkey, which he says is superior to any American air defense system), but which, even when they are not superior, are incompatible with the NATO standard, which in itself raises two problems: 1. If the country joins or remains in the military allies, the fact of having different weapons systems raises interconnection problems taking away defensive and offensive effectiveness; 2. If it becomes an enemy country, it will rely on offensive systems against which NATO defensive systems are not experienced or tuned, and vice versa.

To see how important this is, look at the reluctance on the part of the US to supply large quantities of HIMARS or PATRIOTs, and even then, to supply only the most limited capabilities. As for drones, the same is true. Their massive use, namely the most advanced capabilities, will allow the enemy army to test, experiment and fine-tune their systems in relation to them. That’s why they don’t want to supply them. There is still the problem of the enemy capturing one of these systems (it seems that they already got the unexploded HIMAR missile warhead). On the other hand, their use in the conflict, without being able to point to substantial victories and a reversal in the direction of the trend, would bring very bad marketing for these weapons systems.

The reverse is also true. This is the reason why, in my humble opinion, the Russian army is reluctant to field its S-500 or even S-400 (betting more on modernized S-300, BUK and others), has only launched 1 or 2 hypersonics and there is no record of using Su-57 yet. In other words, we must not show everything to the enemy, because the battlefield is swarming with NATO sensors looking for tactical, technological, logistical and doctrinal information.

The effectiveness of the small Russian contingent in fighting ISIS, when compared to the means spent by the US in the same “fight”, raised an international security need, which already existed, but became of urgent resolution to US neocons. If the official discourse continued – and continues – in the direction of belittling and ridiculing the Russian potential, because sales had to keep increasing on one side and decreasing on the other, the fact is that the pentagon’s military analysts will not have failed to think that it was better to pay attention. Arrogance is often a show-off and deep down, it hides concern.

There are facts that help reinforce this perception. The fact that we know how NATO and the G7 have classified their threats and the entire policy of “containment” and “dismantling” of their military and economic power, which requires in-depth work of attrition, study and fine-tuning of strategies, which for many specialists already constitute what will be the antechamber of World War III (this time, hopefully, with its epicenter further to the east), gives us clues as to the direction of action.

The creation of funds for the construction of a negative image of opponents confirms this direction: For example, on page 89 of the US federal budget, chapter “Department of State and Other International Programs”, we can read “$400 million for the Fund against the malign influence of the People’s Republic of China. Additionally (…) the budget allocates 682$ million for Ukraine and an increase of 219$ million above what was given in 2021, to continue to counter the malign influence of Russia.” It is in the final part of the paragraph that we realize what these 1.2$ billion are really for, namely “disinformation” (should be read as: counter-information) or “civil society resilience” (should be read as: money for NGOs). After this can anyone still believe everything they read and see in the corporate press about these two countries? Even knowing that US pays to produce and publish information to combat these countries? And knowing that the so-called “media” is in deep economic crisis and tremendously dependent on the use of such funds? Only if the belief is religious!

But the data on the European Union trade with the Russian federation, confirm in which plan(s) the action is played. According to Eurostat, with the exception of the small Baltics, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark and Finland, ALL the others imported more than they did in 2021. And this is all despite the 10th package of sanctions that is already on the way. Explain this? Where is the “don’t contribute to Putin’s coffers”, “don’t contribute to war funding” or “let’s wipe out the Russian economy”? As written in the Times of India, the US knew very well that they were not going to affect the Russian economy. What they knew was that they were going to kill the German and European economy, thereby fattening their own.

In other words, it’s all talk for the herd. This talk can be translated as “buy everything more expensive, because we buy without long term contracts”, “buy energy more expensive so that American shale oil and shale gas become the EU’s main focus”, ” no way buying weapons to them”, “to end cooperation in sensitive areas such as nuclear fusion, a project that was being developed in France with promising results and in which Russia was a fundamental partner, and it is not by chance that the USA also competes in this field and does not want competition”, “not to export cutting edge technology to the Russian Federation” and “to suppress the country’s main commercial partner, which was the EU, with the exit of most multinationals from that country”.

This is where we can confirm the real goals of the war that started in 2014. Aligned with the founding objectives of NATO, the first “Russia out” is already achieved; the second “German down” has already been achieved with the election of Sholz and his bunch of very “well” Ivy League-trained woke boys, girls and half boys and half girls; the third “Europe in” is achieved with the sanctions, which force the EU to give up one of its main economic partners, the main one in cheap raw materials and energy, and, in time, also having to give up its main trading partner, China. All under the guise of the fight against dictatorship and the violation of human rights.

There are already two other facts that will have enormous importance in predicting the events that await us. One is the mobilization in Poland of 250,000 reservists, aged up to 55, which has led to thousands of men fleeing the country, a fact that is not reported on the “credible” TV stations of the North Atlantic. If we link this event to the annual increase for some years now in the military budget of that country (far above NATO’s requirements), it is easy to see which people will be the next to be thrown under the crusher. Thousands of mercenaries, many former soldiers of the Polish armed forces, have died in Bahkmut. But there are plans for all sorts of things, whether by some Polish elite to occupy the Galician region, or by the Neocons to use Poland as the next guinea pig to “weaken” the “enemy”.

The other, which foreshadows the preparation of what is to come, is further east. First they used their CIA-funded boys, mobilized from Taiwan and Hong Kong (yes, the ringleaders have been identified), to mobilize small demonstrations in China against Zero Covid policy. The Zero Covid policy had the power to stall and somehow freeze the attack that the US was preparing on the country, using the predictable deaths to bring about regime change. During these almost three years the country was able to prepare for the fight against the pandemic, but Washington did not want to give them that much time. That is why, after having pushed for the lockdown – as if it never existed here – they are now attacking the country because… it ended with Covid Zero.

This is what is called being arrested for having a dog, and arrested for not having one, which shows the seriousness and the real intentions of these people. Now, they accuse China of “hiding data”, calling the leaders liars and treating the people of this millennial country as fools, they accuse the “hospitals of being crowded”, as if ours were not crowded EVERY DAY ALL THE TIME, and after having died MILLIONS of people in the U.S. and colonies, they say they are “very concerned about the number of cases”. As if over here Covid is over.

Of course, and this is hilarious, the song-seller Van Der “Lies”, who happens to be the wife of the director of one of the main laboratory that works with Pfizer, went running to “offer vaccines to China”. For our pockets this “offer” would mean a few more billions paid in taxes, for Ursula it would mean another lost cell phone, but for the Chinese, whose civilization is 5000 years old… It takes more to fool them. Very little, almost nothing, has been discussed about the real effects of this mass vaccination, but the payment to Twitter (proven by the Twitter Files) to shape the information about the vaccine, does not bode well for what we will find out in the future.

Consequently, as early as 2023, we may well have to brace ourselves for empty shelves. The intended closing of the European borders with China that US will try to impose, would not fail to have this effect. The increased funding to the WHO (the same one that lied about the masks, remember?), also provided for in the federal budget under the guise of “Strengthening US Leadership in International Institutions,” has already delivered its first fruit with news such as “WHO doubts the data provided by Beijing.” Of course it doubts!

Whether it is because we pay the highest prices for energy and raw materials, or because the attack on our main trading partner is going to accelerate and reach top speed… there we will have to pay dearly for what we previously thought was cheap!

And at this pace we will discover that we had no reason to leave 2022 behind!

Hugo Dionísio, lawyer, policy adviser, analyst and researcher at the Portuguese workers trade union confederation (CGTP-IN).

An Englishman and an American have The Ukraine Talk (Douglas Maccregor)

January 03, 2023

Making sense of NATO strikes against Russia

JANUARY 02, 2023

There is no doubt that NATO is trying hard to escalate the war in the Ukraine.  Just before the end of the year there were two drones strikes against a major Aerospace Forces base in Engels.  The attacks were not very successful, but Russians did die when shrapnel hit a fuel truck which exploded.  The importance of that attack was that Engels is located deep inside Russia.

Then there were assorted small attacks against various Russian border posts and towns near the Russian border.

And now this on one day:

Ukrainian drone hits energy facility inside Russia – governor

and

Dozens dead in Ukrainian strike on Russian troops – Moscow

What is left of Russian barracks in Makeevka following a HIMARS strike

Let’s first deal with the second headline.  The first thing we need to say is that this was clearly a legal target under the laws of war: NATO hit Russian military personnel, and that is a fully legal target.  However, if we look just a tad deeper, we realize that the HIMARS attack was clearly conducted by western “volunteers/advisors”, that is to say NATO personnel who took off their uniform and are under cover.  Still, this is still yet another direct NATO attack on Russian soldiers.

[Sidebar: this is the type of attack HIMARS are very good at: precision strikes against fragile targets.  HIMARS has very good range and precision, but their warheads are too small to successfully take out harder targets, such as bridges or bunkers.  HIMARS, especially backed by the full US/NATO C4ISR capabilities, do represent a major threat to any “soft” targets like, in this case, wooden barracks]

I would note that only a clueless civilian could expect NATO to never do anything, offer no resistance, take no counter-measures, never succeed or hit Russians were in hurts.  The truth in warfare is that the enemy will shoot back (at least in a real war, not a counter-insurgency operation against a vastly inferior adversary).

But what about the rest of these strikes, especially those aimed at Russian territory (as it was before the liberation of Ukrainian regions)?

So we need to ask a basic question: what is the goal of these strikes?

Let’s begin with some truisms:

First, none of these strikes will make ANY difference on the actual course of this war.  Just like the Israeli strikes against Lebanon or Syria (latest one today, killed two Syrians and damaged the facilities).  However, while the Israeli strikes on Syria are for “psychotherapeutic reasons” (I have explained that MANY times in the past), this is not the case with NATO strikes, including the “non-claimed” ones against Engels.

Second, after each of these strikes many people will wonder what Russia will do about it.  The precedent is the attack on the Crimean bridge which gave Russia a pretext to switch off the lights in Banderastan. And yes, it was clearly only a pretext, as such massive strikes campaign cannot be quickly planned and executed in a few hours/days.  The self-evident truth is that the Russians were quite ready to unleash their strikes long BEFORE the Crimean Bridge attack, but that they were more than happy to have that attack as a pretext (as opposed to a *reason*) to strike.

And, if you wonder, Russia is still conducting such strikes on a daily basis, including strikes involving hundreds of missiles!  These follow on strikes are almost not reported in the western media because 1) “Ze” banned any images/videos of the results of these strikes and 2) reporting their true magnitude would undermine the official narrative (including the one about Russia running out of ammo).

Still, NATO does not act just to show that it can act.  There is a real, military, purpose behind these strikes.  And it is not “just” to provoke Russia into some kind of response (not with tens and even hundreds of Russian missile strikes every day already taking place).

The war is already going on, the Russians are already fighting along a very long frontline, the Russian Aerospace Forces are already striking targets over the entire Ukraine, so what is there more to provoke/trigger?

I submit that there is only one thing which the Russians have not done yet, and that is the fullscale combined arms operation the Russian General Staff is obviously preparing.  And since this major offensive is almost certain to happen, the only thing which such NATO strikes could affect is the timing of the attack.  And since there is no way that these NATO (pinprick) strikes could delay the Russian offensive, their only possibly goal would be to make it happen sooner.

Why would NATO want the Russian offensive sooner rather than later?  In all its other actions, the AngloZionists have tried to draw out this war for as long as possible, so why would they want to make the Russians attack sooner rather than later?

Because the Russian General Staff is waiting for all the “ducks to be lined” up before attacking.  Thus by trying to force the Russians into a premature attack date, NATO is, very logically, trying to prevent all the said “ducks” to be “lined up”.  In other words, NATO is trying to force the hand of the Russian General Staff by increasing the pressure on the Kremlin to “finally take action”.

Trying to force your enemy into a premature attack makes perfect military sense (as would any effort to seize the initiative and impose your tempo on your enemy).

These efforts are greatly aided by the following categories:

  • Civilians who don’t understand warfare
  • Infantiles who get outraged every time NATO successfully strikes Russian targets
  • Western (fake) “friends of Russia” who mantrically repeat that “Putin is weak/indicisive/naive/fill_the_blank
  • Western PSYOPS who want to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubts) in the Russian general public

These four groups form a rather loud crowd who act EXACTLY as the AngloZionist want them to.

So how effective are these NATO efforts?

Here we need to mention a deep cultural difference between the Russian society and the western one: most Russians have a much better understanding of war than the folks in the West.  This is true for civilians all the way through the generals.  There are many reasons for that, but just to name a few:

  • Many Russians have military training (basic or more advanced)
  • Almost every Russian has lost family members during WWII and, therefore, know how ugly war is.
  • Russian culture, from books to movies, is chock full of war stories, and not of the Tom Clancy type, but the real thing.
  • Wars in Chechnia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Georgia, Syria, Armenia and many more conflicts have “educated” the Russian society about the painful realities of war.

Unlike the hallucinations of the (fake) “friends of Russia” in the West, the “Strelkovites” and other assorted “allislosters” in Russia have very little traction or credibility with the Russian general public.  Simply put – Russians trust Surovikin (and Putin!) much, much, more than these hysterical FUDers because they instinctively feel that what is needed is not anger, but focus.

Conclusion:

NATO is trying really hard to force the Russians into a “NATO schedule” and out of their planned schedule.  An added beneficial side-effect from such “for optics only” strikes is to give the morons in Congress a rationale to put even more money into the US MIC.

As for forcing Russia to attack in suboptimal conditions, that won’t happen.  Neither Putin, nor Shoigu, nor Gerasimov nor Surovikin are the types who will respond to hysterics with “for optics only” actions (just look at their faces, I mean it!). And this also goes for the entire General Staff.

I fully concur with those who, like Macgregor, have been announcing a major combined arms offensive this Spring, but it will happen when Putin decides it, not when NATO wants it.  Right now, the Russian meat grinder is inflicting such losses on the Ukraine that it really makes no sense for the Russians to stop it.  But, sooner or later, even this will eventually yield diminishing marginal returns and, by then, the Russian forces (there are three of them around the Ukraine) will be fully ready, trained, equipped and poised to attack.

The big unknown (to us, the Russians probably already know) is what NATO will do when this offensive happens.  You can be sure that the “best” minds (relatively speaking) in the US are working on the following task: how to trigger a continental war without directly and officially involving the United States?

I don’t have an answer to this, your guess is as good as mine 🙂

Any suggestions?

Andrei

The most important question

December 27, 2022

Looks like we will make it to Dec 31, 2022. Will we make it to December 31, 2023?

This question is not hyperbole.  I would even argue that this is the single most important question for at least the entire northern hemisphere.

I have been warning that Russia is preparing for a fullscale war since at least 2014.  Putin basically said just that in his recent speech before the Russian Defense Ministry Board.  If you have not seen this video, you really should watch it, it it will give you a direct insight into how the Kremlin thinks and what it is preparing for.  Here is that video again:

I will assume that you have watched that video and that I don’t need to prove to you that Russia is gearing out for a massive war, including a nuclear one.

Foreign Minister Lavrov has publicly declared that “unnamed officials from the Pentagon actually threatened to conduct a ‘decapitation strike’ on the Kremlin…What we are talking about is the threat of the physical elimination of the head of the Russian state, (…)  If such ideas are actually being nourished by someone, this someone should think very carefully about the possible consequences of such plans.

So, we have the following situation:

  • For Russia this war is clearly, undeniably and officially an existential one.  To dismiss this reality would be the height of folly.  When the strongest nuclear power on the planet declares, repeatedly, that this is an existential war everybody ought to really take it seriously and not go into deep denial.
  • For the US Neocons this is also an existential war: if Russia wins, then NATO loses and, therefore, the US loses too.  Which means that all those SOBs who for months fed everybody nonsense about Russia loosing the war to the general public will be held responsible for the inevitable disaster.

So much will depend on whether US Americans, especially those in power, are willing to die in solidarity with the “crazies in the basement” or not.  Right now it sure looks like they are.  Don’t count on the EU, they have long given up any agency.  Talking to them simply makes no sense.

Which might explain Medvedev’s recent words “Alas, there is nobody in the West we could deal with about anything for any reason (..) is the last warning to all nations: there can be no business with the Anglo-Saxon world because it is a thief, a swindler, a card-sharp that could do anything.”

Russia can do many things, but it cannot liberate the USA from the grip of the Neocons.  That is something which only US Americans can do.

And here we hit a vicious circle:

The US political system is most unlikely to be effectively challenged from within, big money runs everything, including the most advanced propaganda system in history (aka the “free media”) and the population is kept uninformed and brainwashed.  And yes, of course, a major defeat in a war against Russia would shake this system so hard that it would be impossible to conceal the magnitude of the disaster (think “Kabul on steroids”).  And that is precisely why the Neocons cannot allow that to happen because this defeat would trigger a domino effect which would quickly involve the truth about 9/11 and, after that, all the myths and lies the US society has been based on for decades (JFK anybody?).

There are, of course, plenty of US Americans who fully understand that.   But how many of them are in a real position of power to influence US decision-making and outcomes? The real question is whether there still are enough patriotic forces in the Pentagon, or the letter soup agencies, to send the Neocons back down into the basement they crawled out of after the 9/11 false flag or not?

Right now it sure looks like all the positions of power in the US are held by Neolibs, Neocons, RINOs and other ugly creatures, yet it is also undeniable that people like, say, Tucker Carlson and Tulsi Gabbard are reaching a lot of people who “get it”.  This *has* to include REAL liberals and REAL conservatives whose loyalty is not to a gang of international thugs but to their own country and their own people.

I am also pretty sure that there are many US military commanders who listen to what Col. Macgregor has to say.

Will that be that enough to break through the wall of lies and propaganda?

I hope so, but I am not very optimistic.

First, Andrei Martyanov is absolutely spot on when he constantly decries the crass incompetence and ignorance of the US ruling class.  And I very much share his frustration.  We both see where this is all headed and all we can do is warn, warn and warn again.  I realize that is is hard to believe in the idea that a nuclear superpower like the US is run by a gang of incompetent and ignorant thugs, but that IS the reality and simply denying it won’t make it go away.

Second, at least so far, the US general public has not (yet) felt the full effects of the collapse of the US-controlled financial and economic system.  So flag-waving “morans” can still hope that a war against Russia will look like the turkey shoot “Desert Storm” was.

It won’t.

The real question here is whether the only way to wake up the brainwashed flag-waving “morans” is by means of a nuclear explosion over their heads or not?

“Go USA” is a mental condition which has been injected into the minds of millions of US Americans for many decades and it will take either a lot of time, or some truly dramatic events, to bring these folks back to reality.

Third, the US ruling elites are clearly going into deep denial.  All this silly talk about US Patriot missiles or F-16s changing the course of the war in infantile and naive.  Frankly this would all be rather comical if it was not so dangerous in its potential consequences.  What will happen once the single Patriot missile battery is destroyed and the F-16s shot down?

How soon will the West run out of Wunderwaffen?

On a conceptual “escalation scale” what would be the next step up from Patriots and F-16s?

Tactical nukes?

Considering the rather idiotic notion that a “tactical” nuke is somehow fundamentally different from a “strategic” nuke irrespective of how it is used and where it is used is extremely dangerous.

I submit that the fact that the US ruling class is seriously contemplating both a “limited” use of “tactical” nukes and “decapitating strikes” is a very good indicator of the fact that the US is running out of Wunderwaffen and that the Neocons are desperate.

And to those who might be tempted to accuse me of hyperbole or paranoid delusions I will say the following:

This war is NOT, repeat, NOT about the Ukraine (or Poland or the three Baltic statelets).  At its absolute minimum this is a war about the future of Europe.  Fundamentally it is a war about the complete reorganization of our planet’s international order.  I would even argue that the outcome of this war will have a bigger impact that either WWI or WWII.  The Russians clearly understand this (see video above if you doubt that).

And so do the Neocons, even if they don’t speak about it.

The current situation is much more dangerous than even the Cuban missile crisis or the standoff in Berlin.  At least then both sides openly admitted that the situation was really dangerous.  This time around, however, the ruling elites of the West are using their formidable PSYOP/propaganda capability to conceal the true scope what is really going on.  If every citizen of the US (and EU) understood that there is a nuclear and conventional cross-hairs painted on his/her head things might be different.  Alas, this is clearly not the case, hence the non-existent peace movement and the quasi consensus about pouring tens of BILLIONS of dollars into the Ukrainian black hole.

Right now, the crazies are playing around with all sorts of silly ideas, including booting Russia off the UNSC (not gonna happen, since both Russia and China have veto power) or even creating a “peace conference” about the Ukraine without Russia’s participation (in a remake of the “friends of Syria” and “friends of Venezuela” thingie).  Well, good luck with that!  Apparently Guaido and Tikhanovskaia are not enough to discourage the Neocons and they are now repeating the exact same nonsense with “Ze”.

So, will we make it to December 31, 2023?

Maybe, but this is by no means sure.  Clearly, this is not an assumption the Kremlin makes, hence the truly immense strengthening of all of Russia’s strategic deterrence capabilities (both nuclear and conventional).

God willing, the old adage “si vis pacem, para bellum” will save the day, as Russia is very clearly prepared for any time of conflict, including a nuclear one.  China will also get there soon, but it is likely that 2023 will see some kind of end to the Ukrainian war: either a Russian victory in the Ukraine or a full-scale continental war which Russia will also win, (albeit at a much higher cost!).  So by the time the Chinese will be truly ready (they probably need another 2-5 years) the world will be a very different place.

For all these reasons I submit that 2023 might well be one of the most important years in human history.  How many of us will actually survive it is an open question.

Andrei

Vladimir Putin Addresses the Russian Defense Ministry Board Dec 21, 2022 – English Subtitles

December 26, 2022

What should we make of the latest Muppet show in DC?

December 23, 2022

There’s a mad dog pulling at his chain
A hint of danger in his eye
Alarm bells raging ’round his brain
Roger Waters

So “Ze” aka “Zelia” came to DC and was given a massive welcome by the US Congress.  The last time a foreign leader was treated as if he was the US President was was Bibi Netanyahu spoke to Congress.  The fact that war criminals and crooks Zelia and Bibi got such a treatment tells you everything you need to know about who really runs the US Congress.

Congress, by the way, decided to act like the gang highway robbers it is and declared that it will “confiscate” (which implies a legal authority, if not it is called “steal”) Russian assets, thereby fulfilling Putin’s “prophecy” made in 2013 when he warned the Russian business community that its assets in the West would be stolen and that they would spend years trying to get them back.

It makes me wonder if the imbeciles in Congress understands what fulfilling this prophecy will mean for the USA as a jurisdiction to keep your assets in?

Then there is this: the Hyena of Europe is preparing for a mobilization which further indicates that it is about to try to bite off some piece of the Ukraine under the guise of some kind of (pseudo) “peacekeeping” or even “protection” mission which would not officially be a NATO operation, but which will be run out of Mons just like the entire Ukrainian military has been for a long while now.

Just as I was writing this, Gonzalo Lira just posted a (very good) video about this, check it out:

Now for a small piece of (possibly) good news, Biden has declared that US “partners” are “are not looking for a Third World War.  I would not make too much of this, since Biden is mostly unaware of the reality around him, and he is probably not privy to the decision-making of the real powers, the “collective Biden” which run the USA.  Next, Biden, like all US Presidents, is a professional liar, so again, let’s not celebrate quite yet.  Finally, this might be a feint (but if so, it won’t impress anybody in Russia).

So what is “the plan”?

Frankly, I don’t believe that there is one.

Since Dubya and Obama the White House has been occupied by weak and frankly clueless leaders, hence the various interests groups which control DC run “their own foreign policy”.  So, like vectors, the various goals and means of the key actors add up to create a “sum vector” which can *look* like “a policy” or “a plan”, but it is no such thing.  What is true of the US is even MORE true for NATO.  Hence the Poles pulling at their chain like rabid dogs to the horror of the comparatively sane(er) Europeans.

I fully agree with Andrei Martyanov – the folks in charge in the West are totally clueless and they have absolutely no idea how to walk away from the mess they created.  The Neocons probably would prefer a worldwide nuclear war to a Russian victory, but non-Neocon actors might not want to die for a sick, narcissistic, gang of ignorant yet self-worshiping thugs.

Who will prevail?

I have absolutely no idea.  I am not sure anybody else knows either.

What I do know is that Russia has been preparing non-stop for a full-scale continental war since at least 2014 (see here for details).  Defense Minister Shoigu has declared that next year Russia will add five new artillery divisions, eight bomber aviation regiments, one fighter regiment, three motor-rifle divisions, two air-assault divisions, and six army aviation brigades to the Russian armed forces!  And, by the way, these “artillery divisions” will be what is called “high power” brigade/division in Russia, that is to say that they get the very heavy weapons, like 203mm and 240mm self-propelled mortars.  Something which the newly recreated First Guards Tank Army (a “Shock Army” in Russian military terminology) would need to further increase its huge firepower power.

And did I mention that Russia has fully modernized her nuclear triad and that key weapons factories in Russia are now working for 6 days weeks with 3 shifts working non-stop?

And those of you who follow Andrei Martyano’v blog also know how ubiquitous (true) hypersonic weapons are becoming the Russian armed forces.

Let’s just say that such firepower is total overkill for the Ukraine, so we can safely conclude that the Russian force planners did not have Banderastan but NATO in mind when they decided what type of forces Russia should develop next…

So far NATO has done a lot of tough talking, but it is pretty clear that (besides the rabid Poles) few Europeans have the stomach for a full-scale continental war in Europe which will leave their country in ruins.  Yet, they are terrified of the US Neocons and therefore only can try to silently drag their feet while they are being dragged by the Neocons to the precipice.

***

And now, for some week-end music, I want to share with you the beautiful song “Wide River to Cross” (composed by Buddy & Julie Mille) in two versions:

Diana Krall with Jerry Douglas on the dobro:

and a very moving version by Roger Waters and US veterans (to whom, Roger, in his typical kindness, shows compassion and love, as he – correctly – identifies them as victims of the evil US imperialism he so often denounces.  Enjoy!

Lyrics:

There’s a sorrow in the wind
Blowing down the road I’ve been
I can hear it cry while shadows steal the sun

But I cannot look back now
I’ve come too far to turn around
And there’s still a race ahead that I must run

I’m only halfway home, I’ve gotta journey on
To where I’ll find, find the things I have lost
I’ve come a long long road but still I’ve got some miles to go
I’ve got a wide, a wide river to cross

I have stumbled, I have strayed
You can trace the tracks I made
All across the memories my heart recalls
But I’m still a refugee, won’t you say a prayer for me?
‘Cause sometimes even the strongest soldier falls

I’m only halfway home, I’ve gotta journey on
To where I’ll find, I’ll find the things I have lost
I’ve come a long long road but still I’ve got some miles to go
I’ve got a wide, a wide river to cross

I’m only halfway home, I’ve gotta journey on
To where I’ll find, I’ll find the things that I have lost
I’ve come a long long road but still I’ve got some miles to go
I’ve got a wide, a wide river to cross
I’ve got a wide, a wide river to cross

Grasping at the last Straw (Andrei Martyanov)

December 20, 2022

Please visit Andrei’s website: https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/ and support him here: https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=60459185

Xi of Arabia and the petroyuan drive

Xi Jinping has made an offer difficult for the Arabian Peninsula to ignore: China will be guaranteed buyers of your oil and gas, but we will pay in yuan.

December 16 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

It would be so tempting to qualify Chinese President Xi Jinping landing in Riyadh a week ago, welcomed with royal pomp and circumstance, as Xi of Arabia proclaiming the dawn of the petroyuan era.

But it’s more complicated than that. As much as the seismic shift implied by the petroyuan move applies, Chinese diplomacy is way too sophisticated to engage in direct confrontation, especially with a wounded, ferocious Empire. So there’s way more going here than meets the (Eurasian) eye.

Xi of Arabia’s announcement was a prodigy of finesse: it was packaged as the internationalization of the yuan. From now on, Xi said, China will use the yuan for oil trade, through the Shanghai Petroleum and National Gas Exchange, and invited the Persian Gulf monarchies to get on board. Nearly 80 percent of trade in the global oil market continues to be priced in US dollars.

Ostensibly, Xi of Arabia, and his large Chinese delegation of officials and business leaders, met with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to promote increased trade. Beijing promised to “import crude oil in a consistent manner and in large quantities from the GCC.” And the same goes for natural gas.

China has been the largest importer of crude on the planet for five years now – half of it from the Arabian peninsula, and more than a quarter from Saudi Arabia. So it’s no wonder that the prelude for Xi of Arabia’s lavish welcome in Riyadh was a special op-ed expanding the trading scope, and praising increased strategic/commercial partnerships across the GCC, complete with “5G communications, new energy, space and digital economy.”

Foreign Minister Wang Yi doubled down on the “strategic choice” of China and wider Arabia. Over $30 billion in trade deals were duly signed – quite a few significantly connected to China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects.

And that brings us to the two key connections established by Xi of Arabia: the BRI and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

The Silk Roads of Arabia

BRI will get a serious boost by Beijing in 2023, with the return of the Belt and Road Forum. The first two bi-annual forums took place in 2017 and 2019. Nothing happened in 2021 because of China’s strict zero-Covid policy, now abandoned for all practical purposes.

The year 2023 is pregnant with meaning as BRI was first launched 10 years ago by Xi, first in Central Asia (Astana) and then Southeast Asia (Jakarta).

BRI not only embodies a complex, multi-track trans-Eurasian trade/connectivity drive but it is the overarching Chinese foreign policy concept at least until the mid-21st century. So the 2023 forum is expected to bring to the forefront a series of new and redesigned projects adapted to a post-Covid and debt-distressed world, and most of all to the loaded Atlanticism vs. Eurasianism geopolitical and geoeconomic sphere.

Also significantly, Xi of Arabia in December followed Xi of Samarkand in September – his first post-Covid overseas trip, for the SCO summit in which Iran officially joined as a full member. China and Iran in 2021 clinched a 25-year strategic partnership deal worth a potential $400 billion in investments. That’s the other node of China’s two-pronged West Asia strategy.

The nine permanent SCO members now represent 40 percent of the world’s population. One of their key decisions in Samarkand was to increase bilateral trade, and overall trade, in their own currencies.

And that further connects us to what has happening in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in full synchronicity with Riyadh: the meeting of the Supreme Eurasia Economic Council, the policy implementation arm of the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Kyrgyzstan, could not have been more straightforward: “The work has accelerated in the transition to national currencies in mutual settlements… The process of creating a common payment infrastructure and integrating national systems for the transmission of financial information has begun.”

The next Supreme Eurasian Economic Council will take place in Russia in May 2023, ahead of the Belt and Road Forum. Take them together and we have the lineaments of the geoeconomic road map ahead: the drive towards the petroyuan proceeding in parallel to the drive towards a “common paying infrastructure” and most of all, a new alternative currency bypassing the US dollar.

That’s exactly what the head of the EAEU’s macroeconomic policy, Sergey Glazyev, has been designing, side by side with Chinese specialists.

Total Financial War

The move towards the petroyuan will be fraught with immense peril.

In every serious geoeconomic gaming scenario, it’s a given that an enfeebled petrodollar translates as the end of the imperial free lunch in effect for over five decades.

Concisely, in 1971, then-US President Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon pulled the US from the gold standard; three years later, after the 1973 oil shock, Washington approached the Saudi oil minister, notorious Sheikh Yamani, with the proverbial offer-you-can’t-refuse: we buy your oil in US dollars and in return you buy our Treasury bonds, lots of weapons, and recycle whatever’s left in our banks.

Cue to Washington now suddenly able to dispense helicopter money – backed by nothing – ad infinitum, and the US dollar as the ultimate hegemonic weapon, complete with an array of sanctions over 30 nations who dare to disobey the unilaterally imposed “rules-based international order.”

Impulsively rocking this imperial boat is anathema. So Beijing and the GCC will adopt the petroyuan slowly but surely, and certainly with zero fanfare. The heart of the matter, once again, is their mutual exposure to the Western financial casino.

In the Chinese case, what to do, for instance, with those whopping $1 trillion in US Treasury bonds. In the Saudi case, it’s hard to think about “strategic autonomy” – such as what’s enjoyed by Iran – when the petrodollar is a staple of the Western financial system. The menu of possible imperial reactions includes everything from a soft coup/ regime change to Shock and Awe over Riyadh – followed by regime change.

Yet what the Chinese – and the Russians – are aiming at goes way beyond a Saudi (and Emirati) predicament. Beijing and Moscow have clearly identified how everything – the oil market, global commodities markets – is tied to the role of the US dollar as reserve currency.

And that’s exactly what the EAEU discussions; the SCO discussions; from now on the BRICS+ discussions; and Beijing’s two-pronged strategy across West Asia are focused to undermine.

Beijing and Moscow, within the BRICS framework, and further on within the SCO and the EAEU, have been closely coordinating their strategy since the first sanctions on Russia post-Maidan 2014, and the de facto trade war against China unleashed in 2018.

Now, after the February 2022 Special Military Operation launched by Moscow in Ukraine and NATO has devolved into, for all practical purposes, war against Russia, we have stepped beyond Hybrid War territory and are deep into Total Financial War.

SWIFTly drifting away

The whole Global South absorbed the “lesson” of the collective (institutional) west freezing, as in stealing, the foreign reserves of a G20 member, on top of it a nuclear superpower. If that happened to Russia, it could happen to anyone. There are no “rules” anymore.

Russia since 2014 has been improving its SPFS payment system, in parallel with China’s CIPS, both bypassing the western-led SWIFT banking messaging system, and increasingly used by Central Banks across Central Asia, Iran and India. All across Eurasia, more people are ditching Visa and Mastercard and using UnionPay and/or Mir cards, not to mention Alipay and WeChat Pay, both extremely popular across Southeast Asia.

Of course the petrodollar – and the US dollar, still representing under 60 percent of global foreign exchange reserves – will not ride into oblivion overnight. Xi of Arabia is just the latest chapter in a seismic shift now driven by a select group in the Global South, and not by the former “hyperpower.”

Trading in their own currencies and a new, global alternative currency is right at the top of the priorities of that long list of nations – from South America to Northern Africa and West Asia – eager to join BRICS+ or the SCO, and in quite a few cases, both.

The stakes could not be higher. And it’s all about subjugation or exercising full sovereignty. So let’s leave the last essential words to the foremost diplomat of our troubled times, Russia’s Sergey Lavrov, at the international interparty conference Eurasian Choice as a Basis for Strengthening Sovereignty:

“The main reason for today’s growing tensions is the stubborn striving of the collective West to maintain a historically diminishing domination in the international arena by any means it can… It is impossible to impede the strengthening of the independent centers of economic growth, financial might and political influence. They are emerging on our common continent of Eurasia, in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.”

All aboard…the Sovereign Train.

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

Do the Europeans deserve what is coming to them next?

December 15, 2022

Dear friends

I was born in Switzerland, arguably the heart of Europe, and as a European by birth, if not by culture, I feel that I should address the issue of the regular European’s responsibility for what is going on in both the Ukraine and Serbia.

I don’t believe in collective guilt, so the short answer is “no”.

But I do believe in consequences and I do believe in God’s justice (and love, of course!).  In other words, I don’t think you can commit evil deeds and get away with it: sooner or later you will have to pay, especially if you fail to repent for your evil actions.

Furthermore, I do realize that the EU is a US colony/protectorate, but so was much of the world.

Why can there be real resistance to the Empire in Latin America or Africa and none in the EU?  Should Cuba begin sending soldiers, doctors and engineers to the EU (just kidding!)?

[As a kid I remember all the various protest and resistance movements we had in Europe, they ranged from the (mostly) peaceful anti-nuclear ecologists, to striking unions, to the RAF in Germany, to the IRA in Ulster, ETA in Spain and even the various Kurdish, Armenian, Palestinian and other ethnic groups engaging various degrees of violent resistance against the state.  Even in tiny Switzerland we had the Jura autonomists with some creative resistance methods!  That is not to say that I approve of all of these, only that I remember a time when there was real resistance in Europe.  Are modern Europeans capable of meaningfully resisting *anything* nowadays?  I very much doubt it]

I think that we can safely say that the EU is the most docile, cowardly and loyal colony to the Empire.  Why?  Probably because all the other colonies *knew* that their colonial status will never change under the AngloZionist rule, whereas the Europeans hoped to somehow “elevate” themselves by being Uncle Shmuel’s “poodles”.  And, after all, imperialism was born in Europe (the Crusades) and not in the New World.

You would think that by now, even the dumbest EU politician would realize that anti-Russians sanctions almost exclusively hurt Europe.  Yet, what do we see?  They are STILL at it and they are STILL doubling down, check out this headline: “EU set to freeze assets of RT’s parent company – media“.  Please read it, you will see that this is a direct and absolutely unapologetic crackdown on free speech.  And while doubleplusgoodthinking and politically correct Europeans love to (mis-)quote Voltaire and proudly proclaim that they too “I don’t agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it” in reality they absolutely don’t give a damn.

This is nothing new.

When the AngloZionist launched a TOTALLY ILLEGAL war of aggression against the Serbian nation and a country, Yugoslavia, which was a founding member of the Non Aligned movement the proud Europeans did this (see image).

At best!

Many actively participated in the martyrdom of the Serbian nation.  Again.  The same way the Europeans betrayed Serbians during WWII.  And now, they are STILL at it (see EU threats about Kosovo).

And, make no mistake, all these years KLA terrorism in Kosovo has been fully supported and even aided by KFOR and EULEX (that latter entity modestly called “European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo“(emphasis added).

And, now again, all we hear from the Old Continent is a deafening silence.  Either that, or threats.

Long forgotten is Yehuda Bauer’s wise admonition:

Thou shalt not be a victim.
Thou shalt not be a perpetrator.
And above all,
Thou shalt not be a bystander.

By making the EU the accomplice of the US aggression on Serbia, the US has basically secured the European’s loyalty forever, since now they are not only bound by cultural or colonial ties, they are also accomplices in the rape of Serbia, the Maghreb and Mashreq, Afghanistan and all the other countries which suffer(ed) under the Hegemony’s yoke.

The AngloZionist attack on Yugoslavia was the Kristallnacht of international law, it was the event from which all of the horrors we see today sprang.  And yet, far from understanding (and nevermind admitting!) the crime of aggression (the worst crime in international law, above even genocide or crimes against humanity!) and showing some remorse, the European leaders stayed the course while the “regular” people of Europe simply ignored it all like the good little poodles they became.

And please don’t give me the argument that “we faced too pwoerful an enemy” or “we could do nothing”.  At the very least, every single European could follow Solzhenitsyn’s appeal and “live not by the lie“.  But they could not even do that.  1000 years of anti-Christian propaganda and heresy has resulted in a society which does not even believe in the very notion of “truth”.  No wonder they can’t stop lying anymore…

I think that it is a truism that if you have no self-respect you will also get no respect from others.  I also think that it is fair to say that the EU has become the most despised society on the planet.  And it is not just Putin who calls the EU a “doormat for the US” – the same opinion is held in much of Zone B.

Here is, I think, the correct answer to the question I asked above: do the Europeans deserve what is coming to them next?  Considering that what is coming to them next is entirely self-inflicted, I think that irrefutable answer is a resounding “YES!”.

If not, then who is to blame?  Russia?  The USA?  Putin?  “The Jews”?  Immigration?  Muslims?

Speaking of the USA – at least the US Americans voted for Trump (twice).  The fact that this made (almost) no difference is irrelevant, at least the people of the USA tried to resist!  In fact, even under the current crackdown against dissent, I still think that there is a much higher proportion of US Americans capable and willing to resist than Europeans.

And so today I want to do something I never did before.  I will re-post once more something I have already posted once: the interview of Col. Douglas Macgregor by Dr Michael Vlahos.  I judge this conversation to be so important that it deserves a second posting.  Before I leave you with these two men, I want to just add the following:

These two man are from the generation which I had as professors during my years in US colleges (1986-1991) and for whom I still have the utmost respect.  That does not mean that I necessarily agree with everything they did, said or wrote, not at all.  But such men I can respect not only for their formidable intellect, but also for being men of honor and truth, and real (as opposed to flagwaving) patriots of their country.

This is the generation of men like David Glantz or Lester W. Grau – US officers who truly studied, carefully, Soviet military doctrine (authors like Reznichenko, Gareev or Ogarkov) and who, through their studies, did not come to hate Russia or Russians at all, but saw them as fellow professionals and patriots.   Having had the privilege to spent some time with the folks who taught at the Frunze Military Academy (I even ended up co-authoring a small book with one of them) I can attest that the Russian top strategists had a great deal of respect for their US colleagues too.

The contrast with the Neocon freaks “from the basement” could not be bigger.

I sincerely think that in the following conversation every topic and every sentence is important because it shows what that generation of competent and honorable US Americans think of the (many) abomination(s) which we are witnessing today.  I can sincerely say that I wish them, and their cause, full success.

As far as I am concerned, we have the same enemy.

May their example of resistance (because that is *exactly* what this is) inspire more (there are already a few) Europeans to follow their example.

Andrei

Finally, and in the spirit of my post today, I leave you with one superb music video from France: “Indignez-vous” by HK et les Saltimbanks (see translated lyrics below).

Who knows, maybe this video will wake-up a few more Europeans?

Machine translated lyrics:

I got up one morning, dark day of existence
I raised my voice and my fist, when the rule was silence
I’ve seen some get on trains, leave in a huge fog

I could be neither accomplice nor witness, I entered into resistance
A voice paved with hope, populated by women and men from everywhere
A choice as a matter of course, between gallows and neck rope
I came back from so far away, I give thanks to my star
Death forgot me on the way, to Dora and Buchenwald
93 years old I can believe, that my end is not very far away
93 years old here is my memory, take the greatest care of it
Indignation stubbornly, in a world on guard of you
Be one of those who walk against the wind my friends, be indignant
Be indignant!
Be indignant!
This is an old gentleman talking to you
Brandishing his star, do you hear?
So do you think that today we are missing the reasons for the uprising
When our own lives are on credit, under the dictatorship of the banks
Money commands the shareholders, they themselves command the president
Who orders ordinary people to execute well kindly
All this unsold food, so throw it in the trash
And on top of the pile of junk, pour me 10 liters of bleach
This is the world that is ours, absurd, cruel and merciless
Until that damned poverty line comes through our door
Human rights set aside, sold in individual portions
When the food crisis lingers in front of the eternal
But miracles when billions are found in the second
To save the king dollars and all the bankers of this world
Be indignant!
Be indignant!
This is an old gentleman talking to you
Brandishing his star, do you hear?
Be indignant!
Be indignant!
This is an old gentleman talking to you
Brandishing his star, do you hear?
Our chains are certainly less visible, than in the dark days of slavery
But our minds are being targeted, what have they done with our heritage
Excessive competition, generalized amnesia
Mass consumption products for an anesthetized youth
It’s high time, my friends, to finally turn on the stars again
Who have guided his whole life, this old gentleman who speaks to you
Yes I was that Armenian, I am still that German Jew
I am the Palestinian people, justice is my only side
Be citizens without borders, of those peoples who rise up
Contaminate the whole earth, with your revolts and your dreams
Be indignant it is your right, and in memory of all those
Who are still dying not to have it, this right is in fact a duty
Be indignant!
Be indignant!
It’s an old man who’s talking to you
Brandishing his star, do you hear?
Be indignant!
Be indignant!
This is an old gentleman talking to you
Brandishing the starry sky, do you stand up?
Be indignant!
Be indignant!
This is an old gentleman talking to you
Brandishing his star, do you hear?
Be indignant!
Be indignant!
He is an old gentleman, a great gentleman
Who’s talking to you, who’s talking to you

Dr Michael Vlahos interviews Col. Douglas Macgregor (MUST SEE!)

December 13, 2022

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