A commented reading of Putin’s speech at Valdai

October 24, 2021

Note: Below is the full speech made by made by Vladimir Putin, to which I have added red colors to add emphasis and a few comments of my own written in the blue color.  And while I do not have the energy or time to repeat this exercise for the Q&A section which followed his speech, I highly encourage you all to also read it!
Andrei

——-

A commented reading of Putin’s speech at Valdai

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen,

To begin with, I would like to thank you for coming to Russia and taking part in the Valdai Club events.

As always, during these meetings you raise pressing issues and hold comprehensive discussions of these issues that, without exaggeration, matter for people around the world. Once again, the key theme of the forum was put in a straightforward, I would even say, point-blank manner: Global Shake-up in the 21st Century: The Individual, Values and the State.

Here Putin clearly indicated that he is not talking about local or even regional political issues, but that what we are witnessing is a planetary crisis and a planetary shakeup of the international world order.

Indeed, we are living in an era of great change. If I may, by tradition, I will offer my views with regard to the agenda that you have come up with.

In general, this phrase, “to live in an era of great change,” may seem trite since we use it so often. Also, this era of change began quite a long time ago, and changes have become part of everyday life. Hence, the question: are they worth focusing on? I agree with those who made the agenda for these meetings; of course they are.

In recent decades, many people have cited a Chinese proverb. The Chinese people are wise, and they have many thinkers and valuable thoughts that we can still use today. One of them, as you may know, says, “God forbid living in a time of change.” But we are already living in it, whether we like it or not, and these changes are becoming deeper and more fundamental. But let us consider another Chinese wisdom: the word “crisis” consists of two hieroglyphs – there are probably representatives of the People’s Republic of China in the audience, and they will correct me if I have it wrong – but, two hieroglyphs, “danger” and “opportunity.” And as we say here in Russia, “fight difficulties with your mind, and fight dangers with your experience.”

This sentence contains two very important components: first, Putin contrasts difficulties with dangers, hinting at the fact that what Russia considered as primarily as “difficulties” in the past is transitioning into a real danger.  Second, he also indicates how Russia fought dangers in the past.  The single most important collective experience in Russia’s recent history are, of course, the two revolutions in 1917 (February and October) and WWII.  The first two were internal, the other one external.  So this could be summed up as “no revolution inside Russia and no outside aggression against Russia“.

Of course, we must be aware of the danger and be ready to counter it, and not just one threat but many diverse threats that can arise in this era of change. However, it is no less important to recall a second component of the crisis – opportunities that must not be missed, all the more so since the crisis we are facing is conceptual and even civilisation-related. This is basically a crisis of approaches and principles that determine the very existence of humans on Earth, but we will have to seriously revise them in any event. The question is where to move, what to give up, what to revise or adjust. In saying this, I am convinced that it is necessary to fight for real values, upholding them in every way.

As I have been repeating it on this blog for more than a decade, the current crisis is not (just) about resources, it is a civilizational crisis and, here is the crucial factor, while in 2010 Putin still talked about Russia being European, the tone has now changed, he is clearly opposing two civilizational models: the Western one and the Russian one.  That, by the way, clearly implies that Russia is not part of the West, at least not civilizationally.

Humanity entered into a new era about three decades ago when the main conditions were created for ending military-political and ideological confrontation. I am sure you have talked a lot about this in this discussion club. Our Foreign Minister also talked about it, but nevertheless I would like to repeat several things.

A search for a new balance, sustainable relations in the social, political, economic, cultural and military areas and support for the world system was launched at that time. We were looking for this support but must say that we did not find it, at least so far. Meanwhile, those who felt like the winners after the end of the Cold War (we have also spoken about this many times) and thought they climbed Mount Olympus soon discovered that the ground was falling away underneath even there, and this time it was their turn, and nobody could “stop this fleeting moment” no matter how fair it seemed.

This is a direct dig at those narcissistic people in the West who thought that they had “defeated Communism” while, in reality, the CPSU defeated itself, and who thought that from now on, the West would rule the world forever and unchallenged.  Some even got medals for “winning the Cold War” while, in reality, the USSR and the CPSU just committed suicide.

In general, it must have seemed that we adjusted to this continuous inconstancy, unpredictability and permanent state of transition, but this did not happen either.

I would like to add that the transformation that we are seeing and are part of is of a different calibre than the changes that repeatedly occurred in human history, at least those we know about. This is not simply a shift in the balance of forces or scientific and technological breakthroughs, though both are also taking place. Today, we are facing systemic changes in all directions – from the increasingly complicated geophysical condition of our planet to a more paradoxical interpretation of what a human is and what the reasons for his existence are.

Here, again, Putin is trying to wake up his audience, especially the delusional folks in the West, about the nature and magnitude of the changes taking place before our eyes: a series systemic changes in all directions.

Let us look around. And I will say this again: I will allow myself to express a few thoughts that I sign on to.

Firstly, climate change and environmental degradation are so obvious that even the most careless people can no longer dismiss them. One can continue to engage in scientific debates about the mechanisms behind the ongoing processes, but it is impossible to deny that these processes are getting worse, and something needs to be done. Natural disasters such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis have almost become the new normal, and we are getting used to them. Suffice it to recall the devastating, tragic floods in Europe last summer, the fires in Siberia – there are a lot of examples. Not only in Siberia – our neighbours in Turkey have also had wildfires, and the United States, and other places on the American continent. It sometimes seems that any geopolitical, scientific and technical, or ideological rivalry becomes pointless in this context, if the winners will have not enough air to breathe or nothing to drink.

The coronavirus pandemic has become another reminder of how fragile our community is, how vulnerable it is, and our most important task is to ensure humanity a safe existence and resilience. To increase our chance of survival in the face of cataclysms, we absolutely need to rethink how we go about our lives, how we run our households, how cities develop or how they should develop; we need to reconsider economic development priorities of entire states. I repeat, safety is one of our main imperatives, in any case it has become obvious now, and anyone who tries to deny this will have to later explain why they were wrong and why they were unprepared for the crises and shocks whole nations are facing.

This is very important.  Whatever one thinks of the virus and the pandemic, the total chaos in which each country did its own thing has shown that even a major crisis does NOT unite humanity, due to many objective reasons.  Furthermore, the capitalist societies, far from being solid, are all barely surviving, by a very thin thread, mostly by printing money, lying to the people and by creating bubbles.  The western unsinkable Titanic is sinking, but the orchestra is still playing, very loudly.

Second. The socioeconomic problems facing humankind have worsened to the point where, in the past, they would trigger worldwide shocks, such as world wars or bloody social cataclysms. Everyone is saying that the current model of capitalism which underlies the social structure in the overwhelming majority of countries, has run its course and no longer offers a solution to a host of increasingly tangled differences.

Marx saw the internal contradictions of capitalism, as did many many others, but nobody reads him anymore and the others are forgotten.  Personally, I will never forget the speech of a Pakistani delegate to the UN in Geneva saying “the internal contradictions of Communism have caught up with the Soviet Union before the internal contradictions of capitalism will catch up with the West“.  How right he was, and now this is hard to deny!  Capitalism, being parasitical in nature, could only live off the plundering of the planet (hence Lenin’s remark about “imperialism being the latest stage of capitalism”).  The West “survived” the USSR by 3 decades only because these decades were decades of plunder of defenseless countries: now that there is nobody else to plunder and rob (what is left is either too poor or too strong), the crisis of capitalism explodes for all to see.

Everywhere, even in the richest countries and regions, the uneven distribution of material wealth has exacerbated inequality, primarily, inequality of opportunities both within individual societies and at the international level. I mentioned this formidable challenge in my remarks at the Davos Forum earlier this year. No doubt, these problems threaten us with major and deep social divisions.

This especially for those who hate Putin for going to Davos: not only does his presence there not prove at all that he is “in cahoots with the western capitalists”, it proves that when Putin meets them (as he should, they are the real powers ruling the Empire), he warns them about their own future and indicates to them how Russia will act when the crisis comes.  This is something that the people in the West seem to have a mental block over: the Russians always talk to everybody, even their worst enemies.  One thousand years of existential warfare as taught them the wisdom of this approach: there is a time for everything, including a time to talk and a time to kill, and Russians are very expert at both!  This is why Russia talks to Israel, Iran and the KSA, and this is why Russia talks to the Taliban (which under Russian law are still terrorists, though Putin hinted that this might change in the future, depending on what the Taliban do).  Russians will never refuse to talk to any entity, no matter how evil or dangerous it is, as long as it/he has real agency!  Do the folks in Davos have real agency?  Hell yes!  So OF COURSE the Russians will talk to them.  Finally, talking to a dangerous enemy is simply not seen as bad thing, Russian princes did that with the Tatars for several centuries.  Then the Russians won, militarily.

Furthermore, a number of countries and even entire regions are regularly hit by food crises. We will probably discuss this later, but there is every reason to believe that this crisis will become worse in the near future and may reach extreme forms. There are also shortages of water and electricity (we will probably cover this today as well), not to mention poverty, high unemployment rates or lack of adequate healthcare.

Here Putin is being very specific: he warns about a future food crisis which will reach an extreme form.  You can be pretty sure that this warning is based on SVR analyses about the very real risk of violent riots, including food riots, happening in the West.  As for Russia, she has the largest freshwater reserves on the planet, is amongst the top agricultural powers on the planet, and has enough energy to keep her going for centuries.  Last but not least, Russia now has the most powerful military on the planet and she will not allow the West, even a hungry West, to come a simply rob her of her own riches.

Lagging countries are fully aware of that and are losing faith in the prospects of ever catching up with the leaders. Disappointment spurs aggression and pushes people to join the ranks of extremists. People in these countries have a growing sense of unfulfilled and failed expectations and the lack of any opportunities not only for themselves, but for their children, as well. This is what makes them look for better lives and results in uncontrolled migration, which, in turn, creates fertile ground for social discontent in more prosperous countries. I do not need to explain anything to you, since you can see everything with your own eyes and are, probably, versed on these matters even better than I.

As I noted earlier, prosperous leading powers have other pressing social problems, challenges and risks in ample supply, and many among them are no longer interested in fighting for influence since, as they say, they already have enough on their plates. The fact that society and young people in many countries have overreacted in a harsh and even aggressive manner to measures to combat the coronavirus showed – and I want to emphasise this, I hope someone has already mentioned this before me at other venues – so, I think that this reaction showed that the pandemic was just a pretext: the causes for social irritation and frustration run much deeper.

The issue of the need to never conflate or confuse cause and pretext is something Putin often mentions.  In this case, what he is saying is that the lockdowns were not the cause of the protests, but rather the spark that set off the social explosion whose true causes are in the unsustainable and, frankly, inhuman nature of the hypocritical, immoral, and unsustainable western capitalist order and worldview (capitalism is both).

I have another important point to make. The pandemic, which, in theory, was supposed to rally the people in the fight against this massive common threat, has instead become a divisive rather than a unifying factor. There are many reasons for that, but one of the main ones is that they started looking for solutions to problems among the usual approaches – a variety of them, but still the old ones, but they just do not work. Or, to be more precise, they do work, but often and oddly enough, they worsen the existing state of affairs.

Western capitalism is all about individualism.  It is based on the notion that the sum of our greeds will result in the best human society possible.  Of course, this is a lie, and while it does force people to work hard motivated either by greed (the rich) or survival (the poor), it cannot generate a society, a civilization, which can act together against a common threat: everybody pulls the blanket to himself, that is all there is to the so-called “western civilizational values”: the rest is just ideological prolefeed for the deceived masses.

By the way, Russia has repeatedly called for, and I will repeat this, stopping these inappropriate ambitions and for working together. We will probably talk about this later but it is clear what I have in mind. We are talking about the need to counter the coronavirus infection together. But nothing changes; everything remains the same despite the humanitarian considerations. I am not referring to Russia now, let’s leave the sanctions against Russia for now; I mean the sanctions that remain in place against those states that badly need international assistance. Where are the humanitarian fundamentals of Western political thought? It appears there is nothing there, just idle talk. Do you understand? This is what seems to be on the surface.

Here Putin even spells out the self-evident truth which is not impossible to conceal: Where are the humanitarian fundamentals of Western political thought? It appears there is nothing there, just idle talk.  The fact that he said it twice, so publicly, is one of the most important statements in his entire career and one of the key reasons why the western ruling classes are now going into deep hysterics: they feel like the proverbial naked king.

Furthermore, the technological revolution, impressive achievements in artificial intelligence, electronics, communications, genetics, bioengineering, and medicine open up enormous opportunities, but at the same time, in practical terms, they raise philosophical, moral and spiritual questions that were until recently the exclusive domain of science fiction writers. What will happen if machines surpass humans in the ability to think? Where is the limit of interference in the human body beyond which a person ceases being himself and turns into some other entity? What are the general ethical limits in the world where the potential of science and machines are becoming almost boundless? What will this mean for each of us, for our descendants, our nearest descendants – our children and grandchildren?

These changes are gaining momentum, and they certainly cannot be stopped because they are objective as a rule. All of us will have to deal with the consequences regardless of our political systems, economic condition or prevailing ideology.

Verbally, all states talk about their commitment to the ideals of cooperation and a willingness to work together for resolving common problems but, unfortunately, these are just words. In reality, the opposite is happening, and the pandemic has served to fuel the negative trends that emerged long ago and are now only getting worse. The approach based on the proverb, “your own shirt is closer to the body,” has finally become common and is now no longer even concealed. Moreover, this is often even a matter of boasting and brandishing. Egotistic interests prevail over the notion of the common good.

There are too many examples to list them here, so I will pick one: the “molecules of freedom” which Uncle Shmuel promised to its European vassals are now in Asia.  QED.

Of course, the problem is not just the ill will of certain states and notorious elites. It is more complicated than that, in my opinion. In general, life is seldom divided into black and white. Every government, every leader is primarily responsible to his own compatriots, obviously. The main goal is to ensure their security, peace and prosperity. So, international, transnational issues will never be as important for a national leadership as domestic stability. In general, this is normal and correct.

We need to face the fact the global governance institutions are not always effective and their capabilities are not always up to the challenge posed by the dynamics of global processes. In this sense, the pandemic could help – it clearly showed which institutions have what it takes and which need fine-tuning.

The re-alignment of the balance of power presupposes a redistribution of shares in favour of rising and developing countries that until now felt left out. To put it bluntly, the Western domination of international affairs, which began several centuries ago and, for a short period, was almost absolute in the late 20th century, is giving way to a much more diverse system.

Okay, but here allow me to point out that I said the same thing, much more directly and in detail, before Putin did :-).  See this article, where I even gave dates: “the Empire died on January 8th 2020, and the US died almost an exact year later, on January 6th 2021“.  To see the non-moderated and, therefore, quite spontaneous reaction these words elicited, please check out the comments section under the Unz version of the same article.  I fully expect the reaction to these words by Putin to mimic the hysterics in the Unz comments section: impotent rage, personal hatred, hysterical flagwaving, and a barrage of unoriginal insults.  None of that noise will affect the outcome, not in the least.  Uncle Shmuel and his Empire are dead, they only appear alive due to momentum (and superb brainwashing in Zone A) and another world order, one in which the West will play a secondary role, at best, is being formed before our eyes.

This transformation is not a mechanical process and, in its own way, one might even say, is unparalleled. Arguably, political history has no examples of a stable world order being established without a big war and its outcomes as the basis, as was the case after World War II. So, we have a chance to create an extremely favourable precedent. The attempt to create it after the end of the Cold War on the basis of Western domination failed, as we see. The current state of international affairs is a product of that very failure, and we must learn from this.

This is a topic which a lot of Russian historians and analysts talk about: in the past, all the vast reorganizations of the international order resulted in wars which then defined the final shape of that order, until the next crisis, that is.  Plainly, this is the issue the Russians are raising: can the West collapse and merge into the new international order without triggering a major war, especially since such a major war will probably be nuclear and threaten the survival of the human race?  Russia did all she can do to deter the West: she built a military capable of matching and even surpassing the united armies of the imperial West on all levels, from the tactical to the operational to the strategic, and if the West decided to go down in its own Götterdämmerung, Russia will make sure that nobody survives her (as Putin said “what need do we have of a world without Russia?” and “at least we will die like martyrs, they will just croak“).  But at the end of the day, whether the leaders of the AngloZionist Empire will trigger the final holocaust of mankind or not is in their hands.  There is nothing more Russia can do to avert that outcome.

Some may wonder, what have we arrived at? We have arrived somewhere paradoxical. Just an example: for two decades, the most powerful nation in the world has been conducting military campaigns in two countries that it cannot be compared to by any standard. But in the end, it had to wind down operations without achieving a single goal that it had set for itself going in 20 years ago, and to withdraw from these countries causing considerable damage to others and itself. In fact, the situation has worsened dramatically.

But that is not the point. Previously, a war lost by one side meant victory for the other side, which took responsibility for what was happening. For example, the defeat of the United States in the Vietnam War, for example, did not make Vietnam a “black hole.” On the contrary, a successfully developing state arose there, which, admittedly, relied on the support of a strong ally. Things are different now: no matter who takes the upper hand, the war does not stop, but just changes form. As a rule, the hypothetical winner is reluctant or unable to ensure peaceful post-war recovery, and only worsens the chaos and the vacuum posing a danger to the world.

Colleagues,

What do you think are the starting points of this complex realignment process? Let me try to summarise the talking points.

First, the coronavirus pandemic has clearly shown that the international order is structured around nation states. By the way, recent developments have shown that global digital platforms – with all their might, which we could see from the internal political processes in the United States – have failed to usurp political or state functions. These attempts proved ephemeral. The US authorities, as I said, have immediately put the owners of these platforms in their place, which is exactly what is being done in Europe, if you just look at the size of the fines imposed on them and the demonopolisation measures being taken. You are aware of that.

There was no coordinated international response to the pandemic, each country did what it thought it should do.  The same will happen with future threats, such is the nature of our current planetary (dis)organization and international institutions made no difference.

In recent decades, many have tossed around fancy concepts claiming that the role of the state was outdated and outgoing. Globalisation supposedly made national borders an anachronism, and sovereignty an obstacle to prosperity. You know, I said it before and I will say it again. This is also what was said by those who attempted to open up other countries’ borders for the benefit of their own competitive advantages. This is what actually happened. And as soon as it transpired that someone somewhere is achieving great results, they immediately returned to closing borders in general and, first of all, their own customs borders and what have you, and started building walls. Well, were we supposed to not notice, or what? Everyone sees everything and everyone understands everything perfectly well. Of course, they do.

That is a dig at the western libertarians: Putin is most definitely a “statist”, and he believes, like most Russians, that the state is not only useful, it is vital.

There is no point in disputing it anymore. It is obvious. But events, when we spoke about the need to open up borders, events, as I said, went in the opposite direction. Only sovereign states can effectively respond to the challenges of the times and the demands of the citizens. Accordingly, any effective international order should take into account the interests and capabilities of the state and proceed on that basis, and not try to prove that they should not exist. Furthermore, it is impossible to impose anything on anyone, be it the principles underlying the sociopolitical structure or values that someone, for their own reasons, has called universal. After all, it is clear that when a real crisis strikes, there is only one universal value left and that is human life, which each state decides for itself how best to protect based on its abilities, culture and traditions.

Here, again, Putin is not being ideological at all, he brings it all down to a basic issue of survival.  And the key to survival is the existence of a truly sovereign and strong state, with real, actual, agency.

In this regard, I will again note how severe and dangerous the coronavirus pandemic has become. As we know, more than 4.9 million have died of it. These terrifying figures are comparable and even exceed the military losses of the main participants in World War I.

That’s for those who still bought into the entire “there is no pandemic” nonsense and implies a question: what would it take for you to wake up to reality? 5 million? 10 million? 20?

The second point I would like to draw your attention to is the scale of change that forces us to act extremely cautiously, if only for reasons of self-preservation. The state and society must not respond radically to qualitative shifts in technology, dramatic environmental changes or the destruction of traditional systems. It is easier to destroy than to create, as we all know. We in Russia know this very well, regrettably, from our own experience, which we have had several times.

Putin here refers to all the terrible revolutions Russia went through during the 20th century: twice in 1917, then 1991 and 1993.  Putin is strongly opposed to ideologically motivated and violent revolutions.  That does not mean that he believes that whatever preceded these revolutions was good or should have been kept, only that changes must be made very gradually and carefully, and never under the hysterical screams and slogans of crazies drunk on ideological certainties.

Just over a century ago, Russia objectively faced serious problems, including because of the ongoing World War I, but its problems were not bigger and possibly even smaller or not as acute as the problems the other countries faced, and Russia could have dealt with its problems gradually and in a civilised manner. But revolutionary shocks led to the collapse and disintegration of a great power. The second time this happened 30 years ago, when a potentially very powerful nation failed to enter the path of urgently needed, flexible but thoroughly substantiated reforms at the right time, and as a result it fell victim to all kinds of dogmatists, both reactionary ones and the so-called progressives – all of them did their bit, all sides did.

These examples from our history allow us to say that revolutions are not a way to settle a crisis but a way to aggravate it. No revolution was worth the damage it did to the human potential.

Quick reminder: even revolutions which are announced as “bloodless” end up spilling more blood than anybody could imagine.  Here I would like to quote Gandhi “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent“.  Okay, maybe not really permanent, but certainly it lasts much MUCH longer that whatever “good” violence was supposed to achieve.

Third. The importance of a solid support in the sphere of morals, ethics and values is increasing dramatically in the modern fragile world. In point of fact, values are a product, a unique product of cultural and historical development of any nation. The mutual interlacing of nations definitely enriches them, openness expands their horizons and allows them to take a fresh look at their own traditions. But the process must be organic, and it can never be rapid. Any alien elements will be rejected anyway, possibly bluntly. Any attempts to force one’s values on others with an uncertain and unpredictable outcome can only further complicate a dramatic situation and usually produce the opposite reaction and an opposite from the intended result.

That is a direct dig at the Woke-inspired pseudo-Wakanda the crazies in the West are now advocating for, there will be much more about this below.

We look in amazement at the processes underway in the countries which have been traditionally looked at as the standard-bearers of progress. Of course, the social and cultural shocks that are taking place in the United States and Western Europe are none of our business; we are keeping out of this. Some people in the West believe that an aggressive elimination of entire pages from their own history, “reverse discrimination” against the majority in the interests of a minority, and the demand to give up the traditional notions of mother, father, family and even gender, they believe that all of these are the mileposts on the path towards social renewal.

This is about the USA and how it committed suicide.  What Putin is saying is this: you want to commit suicide, by all means, do it, but do not try to get us to follow you, because we never ever will.

Listen, I would like to point out once again that they have a right to do this, we are keeping out of this. But we would like to ask them to keep out of our business as well. We have a different viewpoint, at least the overwhelming majority of Russian society – it would be more correct to put it this way – has a different opinion on this matter. We believe that we must rely on our own spiritual values, our historical tradition and the culture of our multiethnic nation.

It’s all true.  Most Russians, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or political ideas like gender differentiated couples, with a father and a mother, each in his/her role.  If the USA wants to transform itself into a “Trannystan” run by gender fluid creatures of an undetermined nature and function, no problem.  But Russia openly and categorically rejects such a model no matter how loud the protest of “human rights” (or tranny rights) organization in the West will protest.

The advocates of so-called ‘social progress’ believe they are introducing humanity to some kind of a new and better consciousness. Godspeed, hoist the flags as we say, go right ahead. The only thing that I want to say now is that their prescriptions are not new at all. It may come as a surprise to some people, but Russia has been there already. After the 1917 revolution, the Bolsheviks, relying on the dogmas of Marx and Engels, also said that they would change existing ways and customs and not just political and economic ones, but the very notion of human morality and the foundations of a healthy society. The destruction of age-old values, religion and relations between people, up to and including the total rejection of family (we had that, too), encouragement to inform on loved ones – all this was proclaimed progress and, by the way, was widely supported around the world back then and was quite fashionable, same as today. By the way, the Bolsheviks were absolutely intolerant of opinions other than theirs.

That is also something I have said many times: many of the so-called “minorities” in the West are every bit as intolerant and even violent as the Trotskysts in Soviet Russia.  While they wrap themselves in the mantles of “acceptance”, “positivity” or “diversity” the truth is you better agree with them, or else.  I can personally attest that this blog has lost a few readers (not nearly as many as they wish to believe!) and even authors over my refusal to consider homosexuality as a “normal and natural variation of human sexuality”.  Some of these folks even wrote me long letters of insults in the apparent belief this that would impress me.  There are many minorities in the West and the world and the rulers of the Empire use them to great effectiveness to first, distract from the real issues and, second, to destroy the western civilization (I reposted one recently here).  In my experience, the single most intolerant and ideologically-wired group are homosexuals, leaving militant feminists far behind.  But the BLM or Antifa types are also display a typically Trotskyst mindset.  As for the Alt-Right, Q-anon and the rest of the “don’t tread on me” folks (who have been trodded upon since birth and never had be brains or reality awareness realize this!), they dream about “Evropa”, drive around on Harleys, stock on ammo and guns and sometimes even seem to believe that Putin or Russia is on their side.  And yes, while they are rather pathetic, they are much LESS ideological intolerant and, therefore, less potentially violent, than their “progressive” counterparts.  The US ruling classes use them ALL for the sole purpose of staying in power.

This, I believe, should call to mind some of what we are witnessing now. Looking at what is happening in a number of Western countries, we are amazed to see the domestic practices, which we, fortunately, have left, I hope, in the distant past. The fight for equality and against discrimination has turned into aggressive dogmatism bordering on absurdity, when the works of the great authors of the past – such as Shakespeare – are no longer taught at schools or universities, because their ideas are believed to be backward. The classics are declared backward and ignorant of the importance of gender or race. In Hollywood memos are distributed about proper storytelling and how many characters of what colour or gender should be in a movie. This is even worse than the agitprop department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

He said is plainly here: “aggressive dogmatism bordering on absurdity”.  And, believe me, after 70 years of Bolshevik rule, Russians know all they need to know about “aggressive dogmatism bordering on absurdity”.  Then want NO part of it.

Countering acts of racism is a necessary and noble cause, but the new ‘cancel culture’ has turned it into ‘reverse discrimination’ that is, reverse racism. The obsessive emphasis on race is further dividing people, when the real fighters for civil rights dreamed precisely about erasing differences and refusing to divide people by skin colour. I specifically asked my colleagues to find the following quote from Martin Luther King: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by their character.” This is the true value. However, things are turning out differently there. By the way, the absolute majority of Russian people do not think that the colour of a person’s skin or their gender is an important matter. Each of us is a human being. This is what matters.

That’s one for those ignorant idiots who believe that Russia cares about the “White race”, including, alas, a few folks who consider themselves Russian, or say so, but whose worldview is categorically opposed to the traditional Russian one: Russians don’t think or use categories such as skin color or ethnicity (the last Czar was more German than Russian for example, and his wife was German).  Unlike the West, which was born in the 12th century and who has been imperialist ever since the First Crusade, Russia, like the East Roman Empire (aka Byzantium) or, before that, the Roman and Alexandrian empires, was always multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious and western notions such as “the White race” have no meaning whatsoever in the traditional Russian worldview (even the Bolsheviks officially were internationalists, albeit mostly russophobic ones, but that is another topic).

In a number of Western countries, the debate over men’s and women’s rights has turned into a perfect phantasmagoria. Look, beware of going where the Bolsheviks once planned to go – not only communalising chickens, but also communalising women. One more step and you will be there.

Yup, he dared to say it:  “the debate over men’s and women’s rights has turned into a perfect phantasmagoria”.  I can just imagine the rage these words will trigger.

Also, about “communilizing” chicken or women.  He is referring to the various ideologies, from Plato to Marx, who wanted to subvert the traditional family and make women “communal”.  For those who have no idea what I am referring to, I can only recommend the following book by Igor Shafarevich “The Socialist Phenomenon“.

Zealots of these new approaches even go so far as to want to abolish these concepts altogether. Anyone who dares mention that men and women actually exist, which is a biological fact, risk being ostracised. “Parent number one” and “parent number two,” “’birthing parent” instead of “mother,” and “human milk” replacing “breastmilk” because it might upset the people who are unsure about their own gender. I repeat, this is nothing new; in the 1920s, the so-called Soviet Kulturtraegers also invented some newspeak believing they were creating a new consciousness and changing values that way. And, as I have already said, they made such a mess it still makes one shudder at times.

Here again, Putin OPENLY denounces the entire “Woke” ideology, which he compares to the Nazi ideology (hence his use of the term Kulturtraeger), its ideologues and its CRIMES, see next

Not to mention some truly monstrous things when children are taught from an early age that a boy can easily become a girl and vice versa. That is, the teachers actually impose on them a choice we all supposedly have. They do so while shutting the parents out of the process and forcing the child to make decisions that can upend their entire life. They do not even bother to consult with child psychologists – is a child at this age even capable of making a decision of this kind? Calling a spade a spade, this verges on a crime against humanity, and it is being done in the name and under the banner of progress.

What the US ideologues are doing to children is a crime against humanity.  It is child abuse of the worst kind.  Putin has the courage to say so openly.  Well, at least the gender-crazies in the West cannot get him fired or otherwise “cancelled”.  Good.

Well, if someone likes this, let them do it. I have already mentioned that, in shaping our approaches, we will be guided by a healthy conservatism. That was a few years ago, when passions on the international arena were not yet running as high as they are now, although, of course, we can say that clouds were gathering even then. Now, when the world is going through a structural disruption, the importance of reasonable conservatism as the foundation for a political course has skyrocketed – precisely because of the multiplying risks and dangers, and the fragility of the reality around us.

Same message: enjoy your wannabe Wakanda but stay away from us, our families, our traditions and our children above all!

This conservative approach is not about an ignorant traditionalism, a fear of change or a restraining game, much less about withdrawing into our own shell. It is primarily about reliance on a time-tested tradition, the preservation and growth of the population, a realistic assessment of oneself and others, a precise alignment of priorities, a correlation of necessity and possibility, a prudent formulation of goals, and a fundamental rejection of extremism as a method. And frankly, in the impending period of global reconstruction, which may take quite long, with its final design being uncertain, moderate conservatism is the most reasonable line of conduct, as far as I see it. It will inevitably change at some point, but so far, do no harm – the guiding principle in medicine – seems to be the most rational one. Noli nocere, as they say.

First, “do no harm” should not be a controversial notion.  But the West and all its ideologies and incarnations has dealt with that basic rule in a very simple way: “when WE do it, it is not harm, axiomatically, by definition”.  This sums of 1000 years of western imperialism, violence and intolerance: “when WE do it, it is good, because we are good” – and that is dogma.

Again, for us in Russia, these are not some speculative postulates, but lessons from our difficult and sometimes tragic history. The cost of ill-conceived social experiments is sometimes beyond estimation. Such actions can destroy not only the material, but also the spiritual foundations of human existence, leaving behind moral wreckage where nothing can be built to replace it for a long time.

That is a last warning: keep going on and you will leave nothing such a moral wreckage where nothing can be built to replace it for a long time.  Who are these words addressed to?  Not the leaders of the Empire.  Not the Woke folks, and not the braindead “Don’t tread on me” either. Not the Greta Tunberg types for sure.  I think that this  is a warning to those who still have something to preserve: Mediterranean countries, the Middle-East, Latin America and much of the entire Asian continent.

Finally, there is one more point I want to make. We understand all too well that resolving many urgent problems the world has been facing would be impossible without close international cooperation. However, we need to be realistic: most of the pretty slogans about coming up with global solutions to global problems that we have been hearing since the late 20th century will never become reality. In order to achieve a global solution, states and people have to transfer their sovereign rights to supra-national structures to an extent that few, if any, would accept. This is primarily attributable to the fact that you have to answer for the outcomes of such policies not to some global public, but to your citizens and voters.

However, this does not mean that exercising some restraint for the sake of bringing about solutions to global challenges is impossible. After all, a global challenge is a challenge for all of us together, and to each of us in particular. If everyone saw a way to benefit from cooperation in overcoming these challenges, this would definitely leave us better equipped to work together.

One of the ways to promote these efforts could be, for example, to draw up, at the UN level, a list of challenges and threats that specific countries face, with details of how they could affect other countries. This effort could involve experts from various countries and academic fields, including you, my colleagues. We believe that developing a roadmap of this kind could inspire many countries to see global issues in a new light and understand how cooperation could be beneficial for them.

I have already mentioned the challenges international institutions are facing. Unfortunately, this is an obvious fact: it is now a question of reforming or closing some of them. However, the United Nations as the central international institution retains its enduring value, at least for now. I believe that in our turbulent world it is the UN that brings a touch of reasonable conservatism into international relations, something that is so important for normalising the situation.

The leaders of the West have tried to subvert and discredit the UN for many decades already.  Why?  Simple: they don’t have a superior status there, and the P5 can veto anything.  Hence all the tall by various US Presidents about a new “rules-based international order” or a “alliance of democracies”.  That is just nonsense whose sole purpose to subvert the UN because of Russia and China.  The leaders of the West want a total monopoly on power, and when they can’t get it, they simply ignore the rules they themselves agreed to after WWII.

Many criticise the UN for failing to adapt to a rapidly changing world. In part, this is true, but it is not the UN, but primarily its members who are to blame for this. In addition, this international body promotes not only international norms, but also the rule-making spirit, which is based on the principles of equality and maximum consideration for everyone’s opinions. Our mission is to preserve this heritage while reforming the organisation. However, in doing so we need to make sure that we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater, as the saying goes.

There is much more to this: for example, the West has taken total control of organizations such as the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the ICC or even the IOC.  The list of such totally controlled international organizations is very very long.  They also run Amnesty, WWF, the ICRC etc.  As somebody who worked both at the UN and (very shortly) at the ICRC, I can personally confirm this.  Putin is too diplomatic to say this but, believe me, the Russians are absolutely aware of this, and for good reason.

This is not the first time I am using a high rostrum to make this call for collective action in order to face up to the problems that continue to pile up and become more acute. It is thanks to you, friends and colleagues, that the Valdai Club is emerging or has already established itself as a high-profile forum. It is for this reason that I am turning to this platform to reaffirm our readiness to work together on addressing the most urgent problems that the world is facing today.

Friends,

The changes mentioned here prior to me, as well as by yours truly, are relevant to all countries and peoples. Russia, of course, is not an exception. Just like everyone else, we are searching for answers to the most urgent challenges of our time.

Of course, no one has any ready-made recipes. However, I would venture to say that our country has an advantage. Let me explain what this advantage is. It is to do with our historical experience. You may have noticed that I have referred to it several times in the course of my remarks. Unfortunately, we had to bring back many sad memories, but at least our society has developed what they now refer to as herd immunity to extremism that paves the way to upheavals and socioeconomic cataclysms. People really value stability and being able to live normal lives and to prosper while confident that the irresponsible aspirations of yet another group of revolutionaries will not upend their plans and aspirations. Many have vivid memories of what happened 30 years ago and all the pain it took to climb out of the ditch where our country and our society found themselves after the USSR fell apart.

Our society has developed what they now refer to as herd immunity to extremism that paves the way to upheavals and socioeconomic cataclysms“.  That is absolutely true, thanks to 3 terrible revolutions,  several bloodbaths (including the one in 1993 and Chechnia), the total self-destruction of the post-Maidan Ukraine and now the collective suicide of the West, soemthing which is reported about every day in the Russian media, state, corporate and social.  This is why the talk about a coup against Putin is so silly: not only does he have full and total control of all the “power ministries” and the support of a majority of Russians, but as soon as any wannabe “Maidan” (like what the West tried in Belarus recently) is attempted in Russia, an infinitely larger anti-Maidan will spontaneously happen.

The conservative views we hold are an optimistic conservatism, which is what matters the most. We believe stable, positive development to be possible. It all depends primarily on our own efforts. Of course, we are ready to work with our partners on common noble causes.

I would like to thank all participants once more, for your attention. As the tradition goes, I will gladly answer or at least try to answer your questions.

Thank you for your patience.

Conclusion: this was, by far, the most important speech ever made by Putin and it is a direct, open, challenge to the West.  We all, humans, are now truly entering a most dangerous period.  When Putin came to power, he perfectly understood how weak Russia was.  So he engaged in what appeared to be 2 decades of constant Russian concessions, a retreat on all fronts, and that got a lot of people very frustrated and angry at him.  But now, in 2021, we see that what he did was trade time (and space!) to fundamentally transform Russia from a plundered, humiliated and basically dying country into a power which can finally throw a direct challenge at the consolidated West: the dead AngloZionist Empire, the dying Anglosphere and a Europe gone completely insane.  And there is really nothing much his enemies in the West can do, short of starting a suicidal war they cannot win.   After 2 decades of very careful preparations Russia is now looking directly at the West, with no fear whatsoever and with a firm resolution to not allow the West to pull Russia into its own suicidal direction.

Andrei

The world according to Vladimir Putin

October 23, 2021

The world according to Vladimir Putin

Russian president, in Sochi, lays down the law in favor of conservatism – says the woke West is in decline

By Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The plenary session is the traditional highlight of the annual, must-follow Valdai Club discussions – one of Eurasia’s premier intellectual gatherings.

Vladimir Putin is a frequent keynote speaker. In Sochi this year, as I related in a previous column, the overarching theme was “global shake-up in the 21st century: the individual, values and the state.”

Putin addressed it head on, in what can already be considered one of the most important geopolitical speeches in recent memory (a so-far incomplete transcript can be found here) – certainly his strongest moment in the limelight. That was followed by a comprehensive Q&A session (starting at 4:39:00).

Predictably, assorted Atlanticists, neocons and liberal interventionists will be apoplectic. That’s irrelevant. For impartial observers, especially across the Global South, what matters is to pay very close attention to how Putin shared his worldview – including some very candid moments.

Right at the start, he evoked the two Chinese characters that depict “crisis” (as in “danger”) and “opportunity,” melding them with a Russian saying: “Fight difficulties with your mind. Fight dangers with your experience.”

This elegant, oblique reference to the Russia-China strategic partnership led to a concise appraisal of the current chessboard:

The re-alignment of the balance of power presupposes a redistribution of shares in favor of rising and developing countries that until now felt left out. To put it bluntly, the Western domination of international affairs, which began several centuries ago and, for a short period, was almost absolute in the late 20th century, is giving way to a much more diverse system.

That opened the way to another oblique characterization of hybrid warfare as the new modus operandi:

Previously, a war lost by one side meant victory for the other side, which took responsibility for what was happening. The defeat of the United States in the Vietnam War, for example, did not make Vietnam a “black hole.” On the contrary, a successfully developing state arose there, which, admittedly, relied on the support of a strong ally. Things are different now: No matter who takes the upper hand, the war does not stop, but just changes form. As a rule, the hypothetical winner is reluctant or unable to ensure peaceful post-war recovery, and only worsens the chaos and the vacuum posing a danger to the world.

A disciple of Berdyaev

In several instances, especially during the Q&A, Putin confirmed he’s a huge admirer of Nikolai Berdyaev. It’s impossible to understand Putin without understanding Berdyaev (1874-1948), who was a philosopher and theologian – essentially, a philosopher of Christianity.

In Berdyaev’s philosophy of history, the meaning of life is defined in terms of the spirit, compared with secular modernity’s emphasis on economics and materialism. No wonder Putin was never a Marxist.

For Berdyaev, history is a time-memory method through which man works toward his destiny. It’s the relationship between the divine and the human that shapes history. He places enormous importance on the spiritual power of human freedom.

Nikolai Berdyaev. Photo: Center for Sophiological Studies

Putin made several references to freedom, to family – in his case, of modest means – and to the importance of education; he heartily praised his apprenticeship at Leningrad State University. In parallel, he absolutely destroyed wokeism, transgenderism and cancel culture promoted “under the banner of progress.”

This is only one among a series of key passages:

We are surprised by the processes taking place in countries that used to see themselves as pioneers of progress. The social and cultural upheavals taking place in the United States and Western Europe are, of course, none of our business; we don’t interfere with them. Someone in the Western countries is convinced that the aggressive erasure of whole pages of their own history – the “reverse discrimination” of the majority in favor of minorities, or the demand to abandon the usual understanding of such basic things as mother, father, family or even the difference between the sexes – that these are, in their opinion, milestones of the movement toward social renewal.

So a great deal of his 40 minute-long speech, as well as his answers, codified some markers of what he previously defined as “healthy conservatism”:

Now that the world is experiencing a structural collapse, the importance of sensible conservatism as a basis for policy has increased many times over, precisely because the risks and dangers are multiplying and the reality around us is fragile.

Switching back to the geopolitical arena, Putin was adamant that “we are friends with China. But not against anyone.”

Geoeconomically, he once again took time to engage in a masterful, comprehensive – even passionate – explanation of how the natural gas market works, coupled with the European Commission’s self-defeating bet on the spot market, and why Nord Stream 2 is a game-changer.

Afghanistan

During the Q&A, scholar Zhou Bo from Tsinghua University addressed one of the key, current geopolitical challenges. Referring to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, he pointed out that, “if Afghanistan has a problem, the SCO has a problem. So how can the SCO, led by China and Russia, help Afghanistan?”

Putin stressed four points in his answer:

  • The economy must be restored;
  • The Taliban must eradicate drug trafficking;
  • The main responsibility should be assumed “by those who had been there for 20 years” – echoing the joint statement  after the meeting between the extended troika and the Taliban in Moscow on Wednesday; and
  • Afghan state funds should be unblocked.

He also mentioned, indirectly, that the large Russian military base in Tajikistan is not a mere decorative prop.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is BunkerTajikistan-300x181.jpg

Putin went back to the subject of Afghanistan during the Q&A, once again stressing that NATO members should not “absolve themselves from responsibility.”

He reasoned that the Taliban “are trying to fight extreme radicals.” On the “need to start with the ethnic component,” he described Tajiks as accounting for 47% of the overall Afghan population – perhaps an over-estimation but the message was on the imperative of an inclusive government.

He also struck a balance: As much as “we are sharing with them [the Taliban] a view from the outside,” he made the point that Russia is “in contact with all political forces” in Afghanistan – in the sense that there are contacts with former government officials like Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah and also Northern Alliance members, now in the opposition, who are self-exiled in Tajikistan.

Those pesky Russians

Now compare all of the above with the current NATO circus in Brussels, complete with a new “master plan to deter the growing Russian threat.”

No one ever lost money underestimating NATO’s capacity to reach the depths of inconsequential stupidity. Moscow does not even bother to talk to these clowns anymore: as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has pointed out, “Russia will no longer pretend that some changes in relations with NATO are possible in the near future.”

Moscow from now on only talks to the masters – in Washington. After all, the direct line between the Chief of General Staff, General Gerasimov, and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, General Todd Wolters, remains active. Messenger boys such as Stoltenberg and the massive NATO bureaucracy in Brussels are deemed irrelevant.

This happens, in Lavrov’s assessment, right after “all our friends in Central Asia” have been “telling us that they are against … approaches either from the United States or from any other NATO member state” promoting the stationing of any imperial “counter-terrorist” apparatus in any of the “stans” of Central Asia.

And still the Pentagon continues to provoke Moscow. Wokeism-lobbyist-cum-Secretary of Defense Lloyd “Raytheon” Austin, who oversaw the American Great Escape from Afghanistan, is now pontificating that Ukraine should de facto join NATO.

That should be the last stake impaling the “brain-dead” (copyright Emmanuel Macron) zombie, as it meets its fate raving about simultaneous Russian attacks on the Baltic and Black Seas with nuclear weapons.

From Russia, With (Taliban) Love

October 22, 2021

Image Credit: The Cradle
From Russia, With (Taliban) Love

By Pepe Escobar posted with permission and cross posted with The Cradle

Facing high expectations, a five-man band Taliban finally played in Moscow. Yet the star of the show, predictably, was the Mick Jagger of geopolitics: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Right from the start, Lavrov set the tone for the Moscow format consultations, which boast the merit of “uniting Afghanistan with all neighboring countries.” Without skipping a beat, he addressed the US elephant in the room – or lack thereof: “Our American colleagues chose not to participate,” actually “for the second time, evading an extended troika-format meeting.”

Asia’s powerbrokers dropped an Afghan bombshell in Moscow today: ‘the country’s reconstruction must be paid for by its military occupiers of 20 years.’

Washington invoked hazy “logistical reasons” for its absence.

The troika, which used to meet in Doha, consists of Russia, the US, China and Pakistan. The extended troika in Moscow this week featured Russia, China, India, Iran, Pakistan and all five Central Asian ‘stans.’ That, in essence, made it a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting, at the highest level.

Lavrov’s presentation essentially expanded on the themes highlighted by the recent SCO Dushanbe Declaration: Afghanistan should be an “independent, neutral, united, democratic and peaceful state, free of terrorism, war and drugs,” and bearing an inclusive government “with representatives from all ethnic, religious and political groups.”

The joint statement issued after the meeting may not have been exactly a thriller. But then, right at the end, paragraph 9 offers the real bombshell:

“The sides have proposed to launch a collective initiative to convene a broad-based international donor conference under the auspices of the United Nations as soon as possible, certainly with the understanding that the core burden of post-conflict economic and financial reconstruction and development of Afghanistan must be shouldered by troop-based actors which were in the country for the past 20 years.”

The West will argue that a donor conference of sorts already happened: that was the G-20 special summit via videoconference earlier in October, which included UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Then, last week, much was made of a European promise of 1 billion euros in humanitarian aid, which, as it stands, remains extremely vague, with no concrete details.

At the G-20, European diplomats admitted, behind closed doors, that the main rift was between the West “wanting to tell the Taliban how to run their country and how to treat women” as necessary conditions in exchange for some help, compared to Russia and China following their non-interference foreign policy mandates.

Afghanistan’s neighbors, Iran and Pakistan, were not invited to the G-20, and that’s nonsensical. It’s an open question whether the official G-20 in Rome, on 30-31 October, will also address Afghanistan along with the main themes: climate change, Covid-19, and a still elusive global economic recovery.

No US in Central Asia

So the Moscow format, as Lavrov duly stressed, remains the go-to forum when it comes to addressing Afghanistan’s serious challenges.

Now we come to the crunch. The notion that the economic and financial reconstruction of Afghanistan should be conducted mainly by the former imperial occupier and its NATO minions – quaintly referred to as “troop-based actors” – is a non-starter.

The US does not do nation-building – as the entire Global South knows by experience. Even to unblock the nearly $10 billion of the Afghan Central Bank confiscated by Washington will be a hard slog. The IMF predicted that without foreign help the Afghan economy may shrink by 30 percent.

The Taliban, led by second Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi, tried to put on a brave face. Hanafi argued that the current interim government is already inclusive: after all, over 500,000 employees of the former administration have kept their jobs.

But once again, much precious detail was lost in translation, and the Taliban lacked a frontline figure capable of capturing the Eurasian imagination. The mystery persists: where is Mullah Baradar?

Baradar, who led the political office in Doha, was widely tipped to be the face of the Taliban to the outside world after the group’s takeover of Kabul on 15 August. He has been effectively sidelined.

The background to the Moscow format, though, offers a few nuggets. There were no leaks – but diplomats hinted it was tense. Russia had to play careful mediator, especially when it came to addressing grievances by India and concerns by Tajikistan.

Everyone knew that Russia – and all the other players – would not recognize the Taliban as the new Afghan government, at least not yet. That’s not the point. The priority once again had to be impressed on the Taliban leadership: no safe haven for any jihadi outfits that may attack “third countries, especially the neighbors,” as Lavrov stressed.

When President Putin casually drops the information, on the record, that there are at least 2,000 ISIS-K jihadis in northern Afghanistan, this means Russian intel knows exactly where they are, and has the capabilities to snuff them, should the Taliban signal help is needed.

Now compare it with NATO – fresh from its massive Afghan humiliation – holding a summit of defense ministers in Brussels this Thursday and Friday to basically lecture the Taliban. NATO’s secretary-general, the spectacularly mediocre Jens Stoltenberg, insists that “the Taliban are accountable to NATO” over addressing terrorism and human rights.

As if this was not inconsequential enough, what really matters – as background to the Moscow format – is how the Russians flatly refused a US request to deploy their intel apparatus somewhere in Central Asia, in theory, to monitor Afghanistan.

First they wanted a “temporary” military base in Uzbekistan or Tajikistan: Putin–Biden actually discussed it at the Geneva summit. Putin counter-offered, half in jest, to host the Americans in a Russian base, probably in Tajikistan. Moscow gleefully played along for a few weeks just to reach an immovable conclusion: there’s no place for any US “counter-terrorism” shenanigans in Central Asia.

To sum it all up, Lavrov in Moscow was extremely conciliatory. He stressed how the Moscow format participants plan to use all opportunities for “including” the Taliban via several multilateral bodies, such as the UN, the SCO – where Afghanistan is an observer nation – and crucially, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which is a military alliance.

So many layers of ‘inclusiveness’ beckon. Humanitarian help from SCO nations like Pakistan, Russia and China is on its way. The last thing the Taliban need is to be ‘accountable’ to brain-dead NATO.

FM’s Sergey Lavrov’s answers to media at the 18th Valdai Club

October 20, 2021

FM’s Sergey Lavrov’s answers to media at the 18th Valdai Club

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to media questions following the 18th annual session of the Valdai International Discussion Club, Sochi, October 19, 2021

Question: The day before yesterday, Moscow announced measures in response to NATO’s aggressive moves. Are these measures prompted by Russia’s belief that NATO has to take the first step towards improving relations with Moscow?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, this is our approach. We have never been the first to start aggravating our relations with NATO, or the European Union, or any other country in the West or elsewhere. Everyone knows the following story: when in August 2008, Mikheil Saakashvili issued the criminal order to bomb the city of Tskhinval and the peacekeeper’s positions, including Russian peacekeepers, Russia insisted that the Russia-NATO Council meet to consider the situation. US Secretary of State at the time, Condoleezza Rice, refused flatly, although, according to the Founding Act, which was signed by Russia and NATO when they established the Council, it must be effective in any “weather,” particularly in the case of a crisis. This was one example [in a series of events] that led to the status quo of today in relations between our country and NATO.

Question: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the UN Security Council had no right to decide the fate of the whole world, referring to the five countries that won WWII as a handful of victors. He added that he had a road map to drive the UN Security Council members into a corner. What do you think of this? Is it possible?

Sergey Lavrov: President Erdogan’s eloquence is well known.  He feels free to air his views on different topics. I agree that the five countries which are the permanent members of the UN Security Council have no right to dictate the world’s fate. They do not, however, claim this role – they only have the authority provided for in the UN Charter, which reflects the collective will of all members of the world community. The five permanent member countries bear special responsibility for the situation in the world, primarily, for preventing a global conflict. Their efforts have proved successful in the course of more than 75 years. Hopefully, the situation will remain like this in the future.

But today, the UN and the Security Council need to adapt to a new reality. There are not 50 countries in the world, the way it was when the UN was established, and not 70 countries, like at the time the UN Security Council grew from 12 to 15 members, but many more: this world organisation has 193 member countries. The developing countries have every right to insist that their representation at the main UN body be increased. Today, of the 15 members on the UN Security Council, at least six are Western countries. When Japan is elected to the Security Council to represent Asia, it is counted as a seventh vote in favour of the policy that the West is pushing via the UN Security Council. No more seats at this body should be given to the West, while it is absolutely necessary to have more developing nations from Asia, Africa and Latin America represented in the UN Security Council.

Question: NATO officials said they regret Russia’s decision to suspend the NATO mission in Moscow. However, they were the ones that started this. Why do you think NATO continues to degrade our relations? Will the Russia-NATO Council continue?

President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky said again yesterday that he is ready to meet with President of Russia Vladimir Putin in any format. That said, the Press Secretary of the Russian President described such a meeting as unlikely. In what case will Ukraine succeed in “soliciting” a meeting with the Russian President? Is it true that Victoria Nuland came to Moscow to agree on US accession to the Normandy format (as reported by Kiev)?

Sergey Lavrov: As for NATO, I have talked about how this all began and how NATO itself has buried the main rules underlying the formation of the Russia-NATO Council – the need for urgent consultations in crises. This went on when the Americans provoked and supported the coup in Ukraine in February 2014, while the European Union swallowed the actions by the opposition even though on the eve of the coup Germany, France and Poland guaranteed by their signatures on an agreement between then president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich and the opposition. On the following morning, the opposition trampled underfoot these EU guarantees and had its own way. In response, the EU imposed sanctions on the Russian Federation. This is not about logic.

The same applies to statements made in NATO capitals as regards our forced response to three steps by NATO. Our mission was reduced three times. The main point is that the mission is simply not allowed to do its work. To get into NATO headquarters, our representatives, as distinct from all other NATO partners, have to apply in advance for a permit to enter the building and use only designated corridors. There have been no information exchanges with NATO headquarters in a long time.

The main thing is that all contact between the military personnel was cut off, and this was officially announced. So, what loss of an opportunity or talks are we talking about? Two years ago, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov suggested coming to terms on withdrawing exercises to a certain distance from the Russia-NATO contact line and on the minimum distances not to be violated by combat aircraft and warships. There were many other proposals at that time as well. There was a wall of silence. The Foreign Minister of Germany said Russia’s actions showed that it was not ready for talks. I have just told you that we were fully ready for talks and NATO has simply been ignoring us for many years. Western officials understand that such statements are self-defeating. They want to put the blame at the wrong door and they lack diplomatic culture.

As for statements by President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky, they attracted many comments. They were made by the chief of his office, some advisor (I don’t remember his name) and President Zelensky himself just recently. A number of days before that, someone from his office said that President Putin seemed to be ready but his entourage did not advise him to meet one-to-one because such a meeting might produce a surprise. I will not even comment on this stream of consciousness. It is impossible to react to all public statements made in Ukraine as regards possible meetings at various levels or developments in Donbass and around Ukraine. One’s imagination is too limited for that, but they fantasise everywhere and every day.

When John Kerry was US Secretary of State, he came to Moscow on a regular visit. We were received by the President of Russia. Vladimir Putin said we saw how the Americans exerted influence on Ukraine. He mentioned a special US envoy to whom Pyotr Poroshenko listened. Maybe it is worth talking with Germany and France so you can join the Normandy format? I was at this meeting. John Kerry said that if they were invited they would probably consider it. Later, we asked the Germans and French about this but they bluntly rejected the idea: no, we need to work in the format that was created and in which the Minsk agreements were signed. This is the only option. It is not necessary to turn the Four into the Five or into Seven to facilitate a settlement. The Americans have a dominant influence on Zelensky and his team. Our dialogue resumed. Victoria Nuland met with Dmitry Kozak who is in charge of supervising issues of Ukraine, other near-abroad and CIS countries. They agreed to stay in touch. If the Americans are indeed willing to support the implementation of the Minsk agreements, it would be possible to resolve the problem very quickly.

Question: Unfortunately, the KP newspaper reporter in Belarus, Gennady Mozheyko, is still in prison. KP is banned in Belarus. Can anything be done in this regard?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already commented on this. We have posed this question to our Belarusian colleagues. We are working on it.

Question: Is Russia ready to become the first country to recognise the Taliban as the official authority in Afghanistan, and what are the conditions for this?

The United States will not be participating in the Moscow format meeting on Afghanistan. Will this influence the significance of the meeting in any way?

Sergey Lavrov: Russia has already stated its position on the Taliban. Like most other countries that have an influence in that region, we maintain contact with them and urge them to deliver on the promises they made when they came to power to ensure inclusiveness in the government not only in terms of ethnicity, but also in terms of political conviction so that the entire range of political allegiances in their society has a voice in the government. Official recognition has not yet been discussed; we have said this publicly.

The new US Representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West, called our representative Zamir Kabulov yesterday and expressed regret with that turn of events. He was appointed right before the Moscow format meeting and said that he definitely wanted to contact us and come to Russia. We will be delighted to have him.

Pakistani Regional Influence is on the Rise

11.10.2021 

Author: Vladimir Platov

IMR

In recent months in the wake of the events in Afghanistan, Pakistan has conspicuously increased its regional influence, a fact noticed not only by the most active international actors, but also by Pakistan itself.

Thus, on September, 22 at a business conference in Islamabad Pakistani Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry highlighted the increased regional importance of his country pointing out that under Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan has now become a global decision-maker. To support his claim the Minister stressed out that Pakistan is taking an active part in Taliban’s efforts to form an inclusive Afghan government (banned in Russia) and is engaged in connecting Gwadar and Karachi with Central Asian countries by rail via Mazar-i-Sharif as part of the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. In addition, the government has initiated 1,100 various projects involving other countries as well.

After a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan the US has found another reliable communications channel with Taliban via Pakistan. It became another venue in addition to Doha where under the auspices of CIA office in Central Asia talks with Taliban on the US military withdrawal were held. In an effort to establish a line of communication with Taliban CIA decided to turn to the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) which has close ties with the militant organization and had previously helped the US to facilitate contacts with it.

Beijing also decided to turn Pakistan into its foothold in the region so that it could, among other things, check US regional influence thus becoming a leading investor in the country’s economy. For that reason Chinese investors have funneled more than $70 billion into Pakistani economy.

Meanwhile, Pakistan can capitalize on its close ties with Taliban helping the US and CIA not only to escape the Afghan trap with dignity, but also to punish the culprits who had killed the US military personnel in Kabul airport during the evacuation. To achieve this goal without Pakistani intelligence’s aid will be a difficult task. China also takes interest in Pakistan’s mediation services regarding not only ensuring stability in Afghanistan but also expeditious recognition of Taliban regime in the West. In early September, to address these matters General Faiz Hamid, the head of Pakistani intelligence, visited Kabul to discuss with Taliban leaders security issues as well as economic and trade engagement thus becoming the first top foreign official to set foot on Afghan soil after Taliban seized power in this country.

At the same time on September, 13 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was quick to announce that the US administration intends to assess Pakistan’s role in supporting the radical movement of Taliban as well in the events in Afghanistan. The US authorities are set to look at “what role Pakistan has played over the last 20 years” amid the events in Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover, he said. Washington will also take up the issue of what role, from the US perspective, Pakistan “has to play in the coming years and what it will take for it to do that”. During his speech the Secretary of State said that actions of Pakistan in many cases “are in conflict with” US interests although at some points the interests of the two powers converge. Blinken stressed out that the US cooperates with Pakistan on a range of issues regarding counterterrorism.

With Taliban’s grip on power now secure, the political significance of Pakistan has clearly swelled. Let’s recall that Pakistan was one of the three countries (the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) that had recognized Taliban government in 1990. It also was the last to sever official ties in 2001. For more than two decades Pakistan provided injured Taliban leaders with shelter and medical care. Many Afghans who joined the movement were educated in Pakistani religious schools. For the first time in its history, Pakistan has gained global influence since such important countries as Russia, China and the US rely on its active participation in helping the interested parties in Afghanistan to engage in mutual cooperation as a new political landscape in Central and South Asian region emerges, which is a matter of interest for them.

Pakistan’s significantly increased importance was also visible during the last SCO summit as Islamabad, along with Iran, China and Russia, took an active part in debating Afghanistan’s political future. And this is understandable since Islamabad remains the only regional actor that has a direct sway on Taliban.

It should also not be forgotten that control over Taliban in Afghanistan is vital for Pakistan itself since it wants to stave off Taliban’s merging with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (banned in Russia) or with other Taliban militants present in the country who are in control of mountainous federal territories. Such coalition would entail the creation of a gigantic Pashtunistan, a threat to Pakistan’s very existence.

Proving this point in Islamabad on September, 12 General Faiz Hameed, the head of Inter-Service Intelligence, hosted a meeting of chiefs of intelligence services of Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Iran and China. The participants discussed the situation in Afghanistan, exchanged views on what was going on in the country and also discussed measures needed to ensure “lasting peace and stability” in the region. According to Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special envoy to Afghanistan, participants “were unanimous that peace in Afghanistan is vital for security, stability and prosperity of the entire region”. He said that the region-wide approach and the active role of Pakistan in this process will help to both realize the potential of the republic, and resolve problems of mutual interest.

Meanwhile it is not coincidence that Pakistan, fearing that Afghan destabilization will have a “ricochet” effect on it, is simultaneously maneuvering within the coalition Pakistan — Qatar — Turkey. So now the Pakistani intelligence is trying to determine how deep is the rift between the parties and what it could mean both for Islamabad and the region as a whole.

Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Pepe Escobar’s new ebook: Forever Wars, recaptured in real time

October 14, 2021

Pepe Escobar’s new ebook:  Forever Wars, recaptured in real time

About 20 days ago, Pepe Escobar let us know that part 2 of his Forever Wars series is now available for purchase and download as an e-book.  I sat down to read it in order to write a book review for The Saker Blog.  It is now 20 days later and I am still in awe, comparing the historical with the recent.   It is as if the same bells are ringing once again, yet they are more muted and discordant.  So my book report is that I am still on part 1, which starts before 9/11 and to 2004.  I don’t want to miss one moment of Pepe’s evocative word sketches of the War on Terror, which he calls the War on Terra, and want to take my own sweet time to read Forever Wars I and II.  Because I am reading slowly, let us then not hold up the announcement of the new book.


It is my great pleasure and honor to announce that Pepe Escobar, our friend, our colleague, fellow warrior, and outstanding journalist, has published the second part in the series, Forever Wars.

Now Pepe will take the podium:

(Amarynth exists, stage left, spots on Pepe!)


Forever Wars, recaptured in real-time

By Pepe Escobar

The 21st century, geopolitically, so far has been shaped by the U.S.- engineered Forever Wars.

Forever Wars: Afghanistan-Iraq, part 2, ranging from 2004 to 2021, is the fourth in a series of e-books recovering the Pepe Escobar archives on Asia Times.

The archives track a period of 20 years – starting with the columns and stories published under The Roving Eye sign in the previous Asia Times Online from 2001 all the way to early 2015.

The first e-book, Shadow Play, tracked the interplay between China, Russia and the U.S. between 2017-2020.

The second, Persian Miniatures, tracked the Islamic Republic of Iran throughout the “axis of evil” era, the Ahmadinejad years, the nuclear deal, and “maximum pressure” imposed by the Trump administration.

Forever Wars is divided in two parts, closely tracking Afghanistan and Iraq.

Forever Wars, part 1 starts one month before 9/11 in the heart of Afghanistan, and goes all the way to 2004.

Part 2, edited by my Asia Times colleague Bradley Martin, starts with the Abu Ghraib scandal and the Taliban adventures in Texas and goes all the way to the “Saigon moment” and the return of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The unifying idea behind this e-book series is quite a challenge: to recover the excitement of what is written as “the first draft of History”.

You may read the whole two-volume compilation chronologically, as a thriller, following in detail all the plot twists and cliffhangers.

Or you may read it in a self-service way, picking a date or a particular theme.

On part 1, you will find the last interview by commander Massoud in the Panjshir before he was killed two days before 9/11; the expansion of jihad as a “thermonuclear bomb”; life in “liberated” Kabul; life in Iraq in the last year under Saddam Hussein; on the trail of al-Qaeda in the Afghan badlands; who brought us the war on Iraq.

On part 2, you will revive, among other themes:

Abu Ghraib as an American tragedy.

Fallujah as a new Guernica.

Iraq as the new Afghanistan.

The myth of Talibanistan.

The counter-insurgency absurdities in “AfPak”.

How we all remain hostages of 9/11.

The Pipelineistan Great Game.

The failing surges – in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

How was life in Talibanistan in the year 2000.

NATO designing our future already in 2010.

Afghanistan courted as a player in Eurasian connectivity.

And since July 7, the chronicle of the astonishing end of the 20-year-long Forever War in Afghanistan on August 15, 2021.

The majority of the articles, essays and interviews selected for this two-part e-book were written in Afghanistan and in Iraq and/or before and after multiple visits to both countries.

So welcome to a unique geopolitical road trip – depicting in detail the slings and arrows of outrageous (mis)fortune that will continue to shape the young 21st century.

Ride the snake.

IRG General: “Israel” Attempts to Delay Its Downfall

October 12, 2021

IRG General: “Israel” Attempts to Delay Its Downfall

By Staff- Agencies

The Islamic Revolution Guards [IRG] deputy commander for operations, Brigadier General Abbas Nilforooshan anticipated that the “Israeli” entity is attempting desperately to delay its downward spiral toward dissolution.

He further stressed that the Islamic Republic’s timely responses and actions against the “Israeli” elements in the region have deterred many terrorist plans targeting Iran.

“The Zionist regime’s pillars have been rattled and it is heading toward dissolution,” he underscored noting that “the ‘Israeli’ officials have realized the regime’s looming downfall and are making every effort to delay such a demise.”

Highlighting the economic, social and cultural challenges that have engulfed the apartheid regime, the Iranian general said it would be a joke to envisage “hard threats” from “Israel”.

In parallel, he mentioned that “Even the “semi-hard threats” from the Zionist regime have gotten nowhere, adding, “They [‘the “Israelis’] have halted many of their terrorist measures against Iran because of the timely responses given by the Islamic Republic which has hit their main ringleaders in the region.”

The general also pointed to the Islamic Republic’s military advances in recent years, saying the IRG is employing its homegrown submarines.

“The IRG Navy has been working on an area of technology with which the enemy would run into trouble in any confrontation, “he added.

Asked about the situation in Afghanistan after its takeover by the Taliban, General Nilforooshan said it is still early to comment on how to deal with the Taliban, who have changed a lot since 2000.

“Ensuring border security, countering [drug] trafficking, and above all the situation of the oppressed people of Afghanistan are among our concerns, but when it comes to dealing with the Taliban, we should wait and see how much the policies announced by that group match their policies in practice,” he stated.

The Iran-Azerbaijan standoff is a contest for the region’s transportation corridors

October 05, 2021

Sides are forming around the Iran vs Azerbaijan squabble. But this fight is not about ethnicity, religion or tribe – it is mainly about who gets to forge the region’s new transportation routes.

By Pepe Escobar posted with permission and cross-posted with The Cradle

The Iran-Azerbaijan standoff is a contest for the region’s transportation corridors

The last thing the complex, work-in-progress drive towards Eurasian integration needs at this stage is this messy affair between Iran and Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus.

Let’s start with the Conquerors of Khaybar – the largest Iranian military exercise in two decades held on its northwestern border with Azerbaijan.

Among the deployed Iranian military and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) units there are some serious players, such as the 21st Tabriz Infantry Division, the IRGC Ashura 31 battalion, the 65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade and an array of missile systems, including the Fateh-313 and Zulfiqar ballistic missiles with ranges of up to 700 kilometers.

The official explanation is that the drills are a warning to enemies plotting anything against the Islamic Republic.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei pointedly tweeted that “those who are under the illusion of relying on others, think that they can provide their own security, should know that they will soon take a slap, they will regret this.”

The message was unmistakable: this was about Azerbaijan relying on Turkey and especially Israel for its security, and about Tel Aviv instrumentalizing Baku for an intel drive leading to interference in northern Iran.

Further elaboration by Iranian experts went as far as Israel eventually using military bases in Azerbaijan to strike at Iranian nuclear installations.

The reaction to the Iranian military exercise so far is a predictable Turkey–Azerbaijani response: they are conducting a joint drill in Nakhchivan throughout this week.

But were Iran’s concerns off the mark? A close security collaboration between Baku and Tel Aviv has been developing for years now. Azerbaijan today possesses Israeli drones and is cozy with both the CIA and the Turkish military. Throw in the recent trilateral military drills involving Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan – these are developments bound to raise alarm bells in Tehran.

Baku, of course, spins it in a different manner: Our partnerships are not aimed at third countries.

So, essentially, while Tehran accuses Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev of making life easy for Takfiri terrorists and Zionists, Baku accuses Tehran of blindly supporting Armenia. Yes, the ghosts of the recent Karabakh war are all over the place.

As a matter of national security, Tehran simply cannot tolerate Israeli companies involved in the reconstruction of regions won in the war near the Iranian border: Fuzuli, Jabrayil, and Zangilan.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdullahian has tried to play it diplomatically: “Geopolitical issues around our borders are important for us. Azerbaijan is a dear neighbor to Iran and that’s why we don’t want it to be trapped between foreign terrorists who are turning their soil into a hotbed.”

As if this was not complicated enough, the heart of the matter – as with all things in Eurasia – actually revolves around economic connectivity.

An interconnected mess

Baku’s geoeconomic dreams are hefty: the capital city aims to position itself at the key crossroads of two of the most important Eurasian corridors: North-South and East-West.

And that’s where the Zangezur Corridor comes in – arguably essential for Baku to predominate over Iran’s East-West connectivity routes.

The corridor is intended to connect western Azerbaijan to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic via Armenia, with roads and railways passing through the Zangezur region.

Zangezur is also essential for Iran to connect itself with Armenia, Russia, and further on down the road, to Europe.

China and India will also rely on Zangezur for trade, as the corridor provides a significant shortcut in distance. Considering large Asian cargo ships cannot sail the Caspian Sea, they usually waste precious weeks just to reach Russia.

An extra problem is that Baku has recently started harassing Iranian truckers in transit through these new annexed regions on their way to Armenia.

It didn’t have to be this way. This detailed essay shows how Azerbaijan and Iran are linked by “deep historical, cultural, religious, and ethno-linguistic ties,” and how the four northwestern Iranian provinces – Gilan, Ardabil, East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan – have “common geographical borders with both the main part of Azerbaijan and its exclave, the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic; they also have deep and close commonalities based on Islam and Shiism, as well as sharing the Azerbaijani culture and language. All this has provided the ground for closeness between the citizens of the regions on both sides of the border.”

During the Rouhani years, relations with Aliyev were actually quite good, including the Iran‑Azerbaijan‑Russia and Iran‑Azerbaijan‑Turkey trilateral cooperation.

A key connectivity at play ahead is the project of linking the Qazvin‑Rasht‑Astara railway in Iran to Azerbaijan: that’s part of the all-important International North‑South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

Geoeconomically, Azerbaijan is essential for the main railway that will eventually run from India to Russia. No only that; the Iran‑Azerbaijan‑Russia trilateral cooperation opens a direct road for Iran to fully connect with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

In an optimal scenario, Baku can even help Iranian ports in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman to connect to Georgian ports in the Black Sea.

The West is oblivious to the fact that virtually all sections of the INSTC are already working. Take, for instance, the exquisitely named Astara‑Astara railway connecting Iranian and Azerbaijani cities that share the same name. Or the Rasht‑Qazvin railway.

But then one important 130km stretch from Astara to Rasht, which is on the southern shore of the Caspian and is close to the Iranian–Azeri border, has not been built. The reason? Trump-era sanctions. That’s a graphic example of how much, in real-life practical terms, rides on a successful conclusion of the JCPOA talks in Vienna.

Who owns Zangezur?

Iran is positioned in a somewhat tricky patch along the southern periphery of the South Caucasus. The three major players in that hood are of course Iran, Russia, and Turkey. Iran borders the former Armenian – now Azeri – regions adjacent to Karabakh, including Zangilan, Jabrayil and Fuzuli.

It was clear that Iran’s flexibility on its northern border would be tied to the outcome of the Second Karabakh War. The northwestern border was a source of major concern, affecting the provinces of Ardabil and eastern Azerbaijan – which makes Tehran’s official position of supporting Azerbaijani over Armenian claims all the more confusing.

It is essential to remember that even in the Karabakh crisis in the early 1990s, Tehran recognized Nagorno‑Karabakh and the regions surrounding it as integral parts of Azerbaijan.

While both the CIA and Mossad appear oblivious to this recent regional history, it will never deter them from jumping into the fray to play Baku and Tehran against each other.

An extra complicating factor is that Zangezur is also mouth-watering from Ankara’s vantage point.

Arguably, Turkey’s neo-Ottoman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who never shies away from an opportunity to expands his Turkic-Muslim strategic depth, is looking to use the Azeri connection in Zangezur to reach the Caspian, then Turkmenistan, all the way to Xinjiang, the Uyghur Muslim populated western territory of China. This, in theory, could become a sort of Turkish Silk Road bypassing Iran – with the ominous possibility of also being used as a rat line to export Takfiris from Idlib all the way to Afghanistan.

Tehran, meanwhile, is totally INSTC-driven, focusing on two railway lines to be rehabilitated and upgraded from the Soviet era. One is South-North, from Jolfa connecting to Nakhchivan and then onwards to Yerevan and Tblisi. The other is West-East, again from Jolfa to Nakhchivan, crossing southern Armenia, mainland Azerbaijan, all the way to Baku and then onward to Russia.

And there’s the rub. The Azeris interpret the tripartite document resolving the Karabakh war as giving them the right to establish the Zangezur corridor. The Armenians for their part dispute exactly which ‘corridor’ applies to each particular region. Before they clear up these ambiguities, all those elaborate Iranian and Tukish connectivity plans are effectively suspended.

The fact, though, remains that Azerbaijan is geoeconomically bound to become a key crossroads of trans-regional connectivity as soon as Armenia unblocks the construction of these transport corridors.

So which ‘win-win’ is it?

Will diplomacy win in the South Caucasus? It must. The problem is both Baku and Tehran frame it in terms of exercising their sovereignty – and don’t seem particularly predisposed to offer concessions.

Meanwhile, the usual suspects are having a ball exploiting those differences. War, though, is out of the question, either between Azerbaijan and Armenia or between Azerbaijan and Iran. Tehran is more than aware that in this case both Ankara and Tel Aviv would support Baku. It is easy to see who would profit from it.

As recently as April, in a conference in Baku, Aliyev stressed that “Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia and Iran share the same approach to regional cooperation. The main area of concentration now is transportation, because it’s a situation which is called ‘win‑win.’ Everybody wins from that.”

And that brings us to the fact that if the current stalemate persists, the top victim will be the INSTC. In fact, everyone loses in terms of Eurasian integration, including India and Russia.

The Pakistan angle, floated by a few in hush-hush mode, is completely far-fetched. There’s no evidence Tehran would be supporting an anti-Taliban drive in Afghanistan just to undermine Pakistan’s ties with Azerbaijan and Turkey.

The Russia–China strategic partnership looks at the current South Caucasus juncture as unnecessary trouble, especially after the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit. This badly hurts their complementary Eurasian integration strategies – the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

INSTC could, of course, go the trans-Caspian way and cut off Azerbaijan altogether. This is not likely though. China’s reaction, once again, will be the deciding factor. There could be more emphasis on the Persian corridor – from Xinjiang, via Pakistan and Afghanistan, to Iran. Or Beijing could equally bet on both East-West corridors, that is, bet on both Azerbaijan and Iran.

The bottom line is that neither Moscow nor Beijing wants this to fester. There will be serious diplomatic moves ahead, as they both know the only ones to profit will be the usual NATO-centric suspects, and the losers will be all the players who are seriously invested in Eurasian integration.

Related Videos

Related Artiles

Taliban Killed 13 Members of Hazara Ethnic Group – Report

OCTOBER 05, 2021

Taliban Killed 13 Members of Hazara Ethnic Group - Report

By Staff, Al Jazeera

The Taliban killed at least 13 members of the Hazara ethnic group, including a 17-year-old girl, in the central province of Daykundi, shortly after they took power in Afghanistan, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

On August 30, a convoy of 300 Taliban fighters entered Khidr district and killed at least 11 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces [ANSF], nine of whom were taken to a nearby river basin where they were executed shortly after having surrendered, the rights group said in its report published on Tuesday.

A teenager, identified by the name of Masuma, was killed in crossfire after the Taliban targeted Afghan forces who were attempting to flee the area. Another civilian, Fayaz, a newly-wed in his 20s, was also among those killed in the crossfire.

The ANSF members who were killed ranged in age from 26 to 46, Amnesty said. All the victims were Hazara, who were persecuted during the Taliban’s first stint in power between 1996 and 2001.

It is the second killing of Hazaras documented by Amnesty. At least nine Hazara men were killed by Taliban fighters in Ghazni province in July before the group captured power, Amnesty reported on August 19.

Both the Taliban and their rivals, the so-called ‘Islamic State’ Khorasan Province, ISKP [ISIS-K], a Daesh affiliate, have been accused of targeting the Hazara people, who make up the majority of Afghanistan’s Shia population.

By September 1, the Taliban had denied the killings. Saidqullah Abed, the Taliban appointed police chief for Daykundi, would only confirm that one of their fighters had been injured in the crossfire.

Raihana Azad, a former Member of Parliament for the province, also verified Amnesty’s report to Al Jazeera, saying the events of August 30 amounted to “inhumane mass killings” carried out by the Taliban.

She said what transpired in Khidr was in direct violation of the Taliban’s claims of a nationwide general amnesty for former security forces and government workers.

“These cold-blooded executions are further proof that the Taliban are committing the same horrific abuses they were notorious for during their previous rule of Afghanistan,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary-general.

During their five-year rule in the 1990s, the Taliban were accused of massacring hundreds of Hazaras in the provinces of Balkh and Bamiyan.

Zaman Sultani, South Asia researcher at Amnesty International, said the killings in Daykundi follow a clear pattern by the Taliban.

He points to a statement that interviewees attributed to a senior Taliban official as proof: “I have killed people for the past 20 years. Killing is easy for me. I can kill again,” the official reportedly told Daykundi residents.

Azad, the former MP, said the Taliban’s abuses in Daykundi do not end with the killings.

She says that since the Taliban captured the province on August 14, a day before former President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, thousands of families have been forced from their homes in the Gizab and Pato districts of the mountainous province.

A list compiled by residents shows that as many as 20,000 families were forcibly displaced across at least 10 different villages over the last month and a half.

Daykundi residents speaking to Al Jazeera said that when the Taliban came to their homes, they claimed that the families had been illegally occupying the land or that a Taliban shura had decided the land “belongs to the people.”

Avert Afghanistan from a catastrophe

SEPTEMBER 30, 2021

Avert Afghanistan from a catastrophe

By Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

Hundreds of thousands of Afghans working for the US government, directly or indirectly, have been evacuated, either by air or by road, direct to destinations’ or via transit from any third country. It was a massive migration operation. Yet, Many Afghans are trying to slip away to destinations in the Western developed world.

The US was ruling Afghanistan through such agents and they were informers and used for a special operation. They were working under the CIA directly or through various NGOs. The US has established a wide network of its loyal in Afghanistan and was operating through them. Now the US is helping them to leave Afghanistan. If such people exposed the US atrocities and brutalities in Afghanistan, the US may not be able to face world condemnation. The Jails, Torture Centers, Detention centers. And interrogation cells were the worst places of human rights violations.

There are still many Afghans, working for the US and may not find any way to leave Afghanistan. This is a threat to Afghan peace and stability. The defense contractors working in Afghanistan, some of them, preferred to stay in Afghanistan, creates a lot of doubts and fears of creating chaos in Afghanistan. The UD, by design, shifted ISIS-K to Afghanistan long ago and equipped them, trained them, and funded them, for fighting against the Taliban, moving toward civil war.

The US cannot forget its Two Trillion investment in Afghanistan and the sacrifices of thousands of its Servicemen and women. It was forced to leave Afghanistan, but, has not forgiven the humiliating defeat in Afghanistan. The US does not want a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, especially do not wish a smooth and stable Taliban rule. It has the potential to destabilize the country and planned to do so.

The recent bill in the US 117th Congress 1st Session is a comprehensive strategy to create chaos and destabilize the country. It is sanctioned as a tool to achieve such objectives. It is very much obvious from the language of the bill that the US is determined to take revenge.

Strange! Taliban is the son of the soil and true Afghans, rule by locals is not acceptable to the US? Americans were the invaders and destroyed the country, yet not happy? And still devising conspiracies, what a state of unfairness! The cruelty is the UN’s silence. Afghans want to rule their country according to their traditions, tribal customs, and local culture, why the US has objection? Imposed governments, installed governments, planted governments, puppet governments. And invaders, aggressors, failed to rule Afghanistan in history and will fail in the future too. Afghanistan is known as the graveyard of big empires. Has a long history of defeating outsiders, aggressors, invaders, the world should learn their history and then make any decision. If the people of Afghanistan have not accepted USSR-backed Dr. Najeeb, or Babrak Karmel, or Hafizullah Ameen, or Noor Muhammad Turkey, in the same manner, have not accepted US-backed Hamid Karzai or Ashraf Ghani, what’s wrong with it? It is their country, and they wanted to rule themselves, is it not their fundamental right? Why does the international community not allow them to exercise their fundamental right?

Taliban are popular in the country and have not faced any resistance while recapturing it. They fought against the foreign occupation for twenty years, they sacrificed the lives of close relatives and friends, faced jails, tortures, and all types of hardships. Finally, they won and forced the US to leave Afghanistan. Is it not in their right to rule their own country? Why do Americans oppose it?

Since the Taliban recaptured their country, the law and order situation has improved, people are happy and feel safe. Taliban has granted general amnesty to all, including those who have been fighting against them along with the US. They have not killed a single person, not arrested a single person, not harassed a single person. Society is calm and quiet. The bureaucracy is functioning in a routine manner. Women are working, as usual, girls are going to school as usual. Shops are opened, traffic is normal, everything is smooth, except, economy.

The US has frozen Afghan assets, and imposed sanctions, coercing them economically. A war-torn country, damaged by the foreign aggressor, has devastated the whole country, the economic situation is rather pathetic. There is an acute shortage of food and consumer products. Humanitarian assistance is needed urgently. If the international community may not respond immediately, 40 million Afghan’s lives are at stake. If due attention is not spared toward Afghanistan, a catastrophe is unavoidable. We foresee a major humanitarian disaster in the country. The people of Afghanistan are not the people of lesser God. Care for them, rescue them, extend humanitarian assistance on an emergency basis. All nations and individuals with human consciousness must try their best to save humankind. The UN and its organizations must extend assistant open-hearted and generously, without conditions.

Usually, the UN helps needy communities through NGOs, and the US implants their agents in such NGOs, who are not helping hands but conspirators and implementing the American agenda. They exploited destitute people and achieve their objectives. It has been witnessed that, in many vulnerable communities, many agents were implanted and undercover, they were engaged in the implementation of their agenda, instead of real service to humanity. The UN may take serious notice and avoid similar practices in Afghanistan. However, there are also some good NGOs, and working for the welfare of humanity, must be appreciated and applauded.

It is a rare opportunity that permanent peace and stability may be achieved in Afghanistan. It will help to promote stability and prosperity not only in this region but also globally. Afghanistan is on the major traditional trade route and connects East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, China, Russia, and Eurasia, with Africa, Europe, and Middle-east through Pakistan (Arabian Ocean – Karachi and Gwadar). A stable Afghanistan is a prerequisite for trade and economic activities in this region and leading toward developments and prosperity.

Taliban, after passing through a tough war against superpowers has learned a bitter lesson from their experiences. They have become more mature and sensible. It is now reformed and refines the Taliban. They are wise, smart, and understand global implications. To date, their behaviors are much mature and sensible. They have honored the peace deal reached between the US and them on 29 February 2020, in Doha. They have implemented the deal in true letter and spirit. They have capture Kabul peacefully, without losing any human life. They controlled the country and brought the Government writ amicably, they have not taken any revenge from anyone and provided protection to all. They have allowed and facilitated all foreigners and Afghans to leave the country at their own wish. They have provided full rights to women according to their social norms and culture. They are trying to broaden the Government inclusive of all factions, ethnic groups, etc. However, the American demand for the inclusion of Hamid Karzai, or Ashraf Ghani, or their group is irrational. They should not share power with traitors, puppets, foreign agents, etc. It is their country, they should rule it according to domestic values and traditions. The world has seen and witnessed that the Taliban are wise, gentle, kind, smart, and capable people. They can rule the country very well, they have proved their capabilities since the take over on 15 August 2021. Any interference from outside or dictation should be rejected immediately.

The international community should extend heling hand instead of putting harsh conditions. The US should fulfill its part of the obligation reached under the Doha peace deal, recognize Taliban rule, remove them from the terrorist list, release their assets, and keep out of domestic politics. Let the Afghans decide their future.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

Decentralization of Afghanistan – the road to peace

September 30, 2021

Decentralization of Afghanistan – the road to peace

by Batko Milacic – Independent analyst – for The Saker Blog

The Taliban really wants to prove to the whole world their legitimacy and readiness for dialogue. The radical Islamists who have established control over most of the territory of Afghanistan have learned from their mistakes 20 years ago. They even created an anti-terrorist structure, however, the question is, who will it catch? Now the Taliban need international recognition and diplomatic relations with the leading players in international politics.

True, they do not intend to hold elections and referendums, having taken power by force, which is not very welcomed by international law. However, as long as there is even a drop of hope in the West and in Russia that the Taliban will be able to turn Afghanistan into some kind of a stable country, the Taliban can really count on the actual recognition of their power. China, which simultaneously persecutes its own citizens, the Islamist Uyghurs, and supports Pakistan, which actually lives according to Sharia law, is not afraid of the Taliban. China’s tough laws allow Beijing to believe that the People’s Army and Security Services will easily eliminate any threat of terrorism.

However, the West should not flatter itself for two reasons. First, because of democratic values. They are the cornerstone of European democracy, which is at the heart of the very existence of the EU. Only a democratically elected government is legitimate. And in Kabul, radical Islamists have not held and will not hold anything even remotely resembling an election. Secondly, the Taliban is not a political party, but a very radical political and religious organization. It pursues the goal of spreading its ideology to at least all the historical lands of Muslims from Chinese Xianjing to Spain! And their weapons are terror, sabotage, propaganda.

Seeing Taliban Afghanistan as a way to distract Russia from European problems is like taking napalm to ants in your house. The ants will burn, but the house also will burn with them. Terror has no boundaries. So, whether old Europe wants it or not, the only alternative to the Taliban now is the abandoned leader of the National Resistance Front, Ahmad Masud, who continues to fight in the Panjshir Gorge! However, he has enough potential allies. It must be known that the Taliban are, first of all, the Pashtun movement – an ethnic group that makes up 50% of the population of Afghanistan.

Massoud, on the other hand, represents not only the democratic forces, but also 23% of local Tajiks. He, in turn, is supported by the Hazaras (10%) and Uzbeks (9%).

In addition, the danger of ethnic cleansing of local Tajiks and Uzbeks is forcing Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to support the last stronghold of democratic forces in Afghanistan. Namely, relying on the ethnic diversity of Afghanistan, Masood, who still remains in the country and controls part of the Panshir province, repeatedly declares the need to create a more decentralized government and de facto federalization of the country.

He started talking about it back in August after giving up his decorative position in the Taliban government and continues now. According to Massoud’s plan, the regions should receive more autonomy, and ethnic groups more rights. This, at least, will allow them to protect themselves from the Taliban laws at the local level. This is especially significant if we keep in mind that Taliban laws are contrary to all modern legal norms. In support of Massoud’s ideas, rallies are held in the provinces inhabited by Uzbeks and Hazaras. For example, in the mountainous Bamiyan, 130 kilometers from Kabul. There, under the pro-Masudian slogans, the riots have been going on for days. Locals are asking the Taliban to leave, and radical Islamists are afraid to take tough measures …

Russia also demands an inclusive, democratic government from the Taliban, although it is obvious that Moscow, will in any case, be forced to communicate with the new masters of Kabul. Without the intervention of the Kremlin, the region will face a big war, and this is not good for Europe. The flow of refugees, and with it the terrorists, will rush not to the north, to Russia, but along the old routes through Turkey and Greece to prosperous Europe.

So, Ahmad Massoud remains the only hope for containing the Taliban, and perhaps those who can transform Afghanistan into a relatively peaceful federation, where there will be no ethnic cleansing that radical Islamists have already begun in Panjshir. And the Western world is simply obliged to support him, to support pro democratic forces – perhaps even enlisting the support of Russia.

Who Really Runs the Middle East?

September 25, 2021

Who Really Runs the Middle East?

By Cynthia Chung for the Saker Blog

Afghanistan is on many people’s minds lately, though the sentiment is rather mixed. Some think of it as a cause for celebration, others for deep concern, and then there are those who think it an utter disaster that justifies foreign re-entry.

Most of the western concern arises out of 9/11 and the Taliban’s supposed connection to this through Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, however, as Scott Ritter (who was the lead analyst for the 7th Marine Amphibious Brigade on the Soviet war in Afghanistan) wrote:

The entire Afghan conflict must be examined considering this reality – everything is a lie. Every battle, every campaign, every contract written and implemented – everything was founded in a lie…

Admiral McRaven, when speaking of the operation to kill Bin Laden, noted that there wasn’t anything fundamentally special about that mission in terms of the tactics. ‘I think that night we ran 11 or 12 [other] missions in Afghanistan,’ McRaven noted. Clearly there was a military focus beyond simply killing Bin Laden. It was secretive work, reportedly involving the assassination of Taliban members, that often resulted in innocent civilians beings killed.

It should be noted that, as of 2019, McRaven believed that this kind of special operations activity should be continued in Afghanistan for years to come. So much for the US mission in Afghanistan being defined by the death of Bin Laden. The mission had become death, and the careers that were defined by those deaths.

The fact is the war in Afghanistan did not need to be fought. We could have ended the threat posed by Bin Laden simply by negotiating with the Taliban in the aftermath of 9/11, providing the evidence we claimed to have linking Bin Laden to the terrorist attacks on the United States. Any student of Afghanistan worth their salt knows the fundamental importance of honor that is enshrined in the concepts of Pashtunwali, the unwritten ethical code that defines the traditional lifestyle of the Pashtun people. If, as we claimed, Bin Laden carried out an attack on women and children while he was living under the protection of Pashtunwali, then his dishonor is that of the Pashtun tribes. To clear their honor, they would seek justice – in this case, evicting Bin Laden and his followers from Afghanistan.

In fact, the Taliban made precisely this offer.

For America, however, this would have been an unsatisfying result. We needed blood, not justice, and we sent our troops to Afghanistan to stack bodies, which they did, in prodigious numbers. Most of these bodies were Taliban. We excused this by claiming the Taliban were providing safe haven to Bin Laden, and as such were complicit in the 9/11 attacks.

Which was a lie.

Scott Ritter (who was a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq from ’91-98) had also played a leading role in bringing to the public’s attention the lies told to justify the illegal war in Iraq, which was based off of cooked British intelligence.

It was not just based on the illusion of “justice,” there was a deeper and much more disturbing agenda under the patriotic trumpet blaring.

In this light, Afghanistan is indeed an incredible American “failure,” not only in failing to install their puppet government; it has also failed the American people, however, not in the way most are talking about.

The 20 year, some say occupancy others say terrorizing, of Afghanistan, is estimated at $1-2 trillion. This is only for the case of Afghanistan, it does not account for the total cost thus far of the War on Terror. Such extravagant spending with really nothing to show for it but destruction, the slaughter of innocents, instability and chaos; you would think the United States must be a very rich country to afford such a budget with no clear goal or objective. Instead, what we find is that the American economy is tanking and the living standard is plummeting, while drug use and overdose rates are sky-rocketing and suicide is among the top causes of death in the United States, especially among their youth.

What is going on here? Have the Americans gone mad? Or is there something much much more sinister afoot?

This situation cannot just be explained away as incompetence or the money-making business of war, or even the crazed end-of-world ideologies of neo-conservatives or Zionists, although these are all major factors.

The reason for this is because there has been something operating within the Middle East for much longer, it is even the reason why we call the Middle East and the Far East by such a name, it is the reason for why many countries in this region have the boundaries they do, and was the originator of the Palestine/Israel conflict.

It is also found at the center of the origin and funding of Islamic terrorism as we see in its modern form today.

Whose “Arab Awakening”?

The renunciation will not be easy. Jewish hopes have been raised to such a pitch that the non-fulfilment of the Zionist dream of a Jewish state in Palestine will cause intense disillusionment and bitterness. The manifold proofs of public spirit and of capacity to endure hardships and face danger in the building up of the national home are there to testify to the devotion with which a large section of the Jewish people cherish the Zionist ideal. And it would be an act of further cruelty to the Jews to disappoint those hopes if there existed some way of satisfying them, that did not involve cruelty to another people. But the logic of facts is inexorable. It shows that no room can be made in Palestine for a second nation except by dislodging or exterminating the nation in possession.” [emphasis added]

– the concluding paragraph of George Antonius’ “The Arab Awakening” (1938), graduate from Cambridge University, civil servant in the British Mandate of Palestine

Much of what is responsible for the war and havoc in the Middle East today has the British orchestrated so-called “Arab Awakening” to thank, led by characters such as E.G. Browne, St. John Philby, T.E. Lawrence of Arabia, and Gertrude Bell. Although its origins go as far back as the 19th century, it was only until the early 20th century, that the British were able to reap significant results from its long harvest.

The Arab Revolt of 1916-1918, had been, to the detriment of the Arab people, a British led rebellion. The British claimed that their sole interest in the affair was the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire and had given their word that these Arab territories would be freed and allowed independence if they agreed to rebel, in large part led and directed by the British.

It is a rather predictable feature of the British to lie and double cross and thus it should be of no surprise to anyone that their intentions were quite the opposite of what they had promised and thanks to the Sykes-Picot Russian leak, were revealed in their entire shameful glory.

Once the Arab Revolt was “won” against the Ottoman Empire, instead of the promised Arab independence, the Middle East was carved up into zones of influence under British and French colonial rule. Puppet monarchies were created in regions that were considered not under direct colonial subjugation in order to continue the illusion that Arabs remained in charge of sacred regions such as Mecca and Medina.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/sc15062101.jpg

In central Arabia, Hussein ibn Ali, Sharif of Mecca, the puppet leader of the Arab Revolt laid claim to the title Caliph in 1924, which his rival Wahhabite Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud rejected and declared war, defeating the Hashemites. Hussein (British Cairo Office favourite) abdicated and Ibn Saud (British India Office favourite), was proclaimed King of Hejaz and Najd in 1926, which led to the founding of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Al Saud (House of Saud) warriors of Wahhabism were a formidable strike force that the British believed would help London gain control of the western shores of the Persian Gulf.

Hussein ibn Ali’s son Faisal (under the heavy tutelage of T.E. Lawrence, Cairo Office) was bestowed as King of Iraq and Hussein’s other son, Abdullah I was established as the Emir of Transjordan until a negotiated legal separation of Transjordan from Britain’s Palestine mandate occurred in 1946, whereupon he was crowned King of Jordan.

While the British were promising Arab independence they simultaneously were promising a homeland in Palestine to the Jews. The Balfour Declaration of November 2nd, 1917 states:

“His majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object…”

Palestine had been seized by the British during the so-called “Arab Revolt” on December 11th, 1917 when General Allenby marched into Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate and declared martial law over the city. Palestine has remained occupied ever since.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/sc15062102.jpg

Britain would receive the mandate over Palestine from the League of Nations in July 1922.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s violent confrontations between Jews and Arabs took place in Palestine costing thousands of lives. In 1936 a major Arab revolt occurred over 7 months, until diplomatic efforts involving other Arab countries led to a ceasefire. In 1937, a British Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by William Peel concluded that Palestine had two distinct societies with irreconcilable political demands, thus making it necessary to partition the land.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/sc15062103.jpg

The Arab Higher Committee refused Peel’s “prescription” and the revolt broke out again. This time, Britain responded with a devastatingly heavy hand. Roughly 5,000 Arabs were killed by the British armed forces and police.

Following the riots, the British mandate government dissolved the Arab Higher Committee and declared it an illegal body.

In response to the revolt, the British government issued the White Paper of 1939, which stated that Palestine should be a bi-national state, inhabited by both Arabs and Jews. Due to the international unpopularity of the mandate including within Britain itself, it was organised such that the United Nations would take responsibility for the British initiative and adopted the resolution to partition Palestine on November 29th, 1947. Britain would announce its termination of its Mandate for Palestine on May 15th, 1948 after the State of Israel declared its independence on May 14th, 1948.

The Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood

“We do not cut the head of religion except by sword of religion.”

– Jamal al-Din al-Afghani

In 1869, a man named Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, the intellectual founder of the Salafiyya movement, went to India where British led colonial authorities welcomed him with honors and graciously escorted him aboard a government owned vessel on an all-expenses paid voyage to the Suez. [1]

In Cairo he was adopted by the Egyptian prime minister Riad Pasha, a notorious enemy of the emerging nationalist movement in Egypt. Pasha persuaded Afghani to stay in Egypt and allowed him to take up residence in Cairo’s 900 year old Al Azhar mosque considered the center of Islamic learning worldwide, where he received lodging and a monthly government stipend (paid for by the British).[2]

While Egypt was fighting its nationalist fight from 1879-1882, Afghani and his chief disciple Muhammad Abduh travelled together first to Paris and then to Britain, it was in Britain that they would make a proposal for a pan-Islamic alliance among Egypt, Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan against Czarist Russia.[3]

What Afghani was proposing to the British was that they provide aid and resources to support his formation of a militant Islam sect that would favour Britain’s interest in the Middle East, in other words, Afghani was offering to fight Islam with Islam to service British interests, having stated in one of his works “We do not cut the head of religion except by sword of religion.[4]

Although it is said that the British refused this offer, this is not likely considering the support Afghani would receive in creating the intellectual foundation for a pan-Islamic movement with British patronage and the support of England’s leading orientalist E.G. Browne, the godfather of twentieth century Orientalism and teacher of St John Philby and T.E. Lawrence.

E.G. Browne would make sure the work of Afghani would continue long beyond his death by lionising him in his 1910 “The Persian Revolution,” considered an authoritative history of the time.

In 1888, Abduh, the chief disciple of Afghani, would return to Egypt in triumph with the full support of the representatives of her Majesty’s imperial force and took the first of several positions in Cairo, openly casting his lot with Lord Cromer, who was the symbol of British imperialism in Egypt.

Abduh would found, with the hold of London’s Egyptian proconsul Evelyn Baring (aka Lord Cromer) who was the scion of the enormously powerful banking clan (Barings Bank) under the city of London, the Salafiyya movement.[5]

Abduh had attached himself to the British rulers of Egypt and created the cornerstone of the Muslim Brotherhood which dominated the militant Islamic right throughout the twentieth century.

In 1899, Abduh reached the pinnacle of his power and influence, and was named mufti of Egypt.

***

In 1902, Riyadh fell to Ibn Saud and it was during this period that Ibn Saud established the fearsome Ikhwan (translated as “brotherhood”). From the 1920s onward, the new Saudi state merged its Wahhabi orthodoxy with the Salafiyya movement (which would be organised into the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928).

William Shakespear, a famed British agent, forged the first formal treaty between England and Saudi Arabia which was signed in 1915, which bound London and Arabia for years before Saudi Arabia became a country. “It formally recognized Ibn Saud as the independent ruler of the Nejd and its Dependencies under British protection. In return, Ibn Saud undertook to follow British advice.[6]

Harry St. John Bridger Philby, a British operative schooled by E.G. Browne and father to the legendary triple agent Kim Philby, would succeed Shakespear as Great Britain’s liaison to Ibn Saud under the British India Office, the friendly rival of the Cairo Arab Bureau office which was sponsoring T.E. Lawrence of Arabia.

In Egypt 1928, Hassan al-Banna (a follower of Afghani and Abduh) founded the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimeen), the organization that would change the course of history in the twentieth century Middle East.

Banna’s Muslim Brotherhood was established with a grant from England’s Suez Canal Company[7] and from that point on, British diplomats and intelligence service, along with the British puppet King Farouq would use the Muslim Brotherhood as a truncheon against Egypt’s nationalists and later against Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. (For more on this refer to my paper.)

To get the Muslim Brotherhood off the ground, the Suez Canal Company helped Banna build the mosque in Ismailia that would serve as its headquarters and base of operation.[8] The fact that Banna created the organization in Ismailia is itself worthy of note. For England, the Suez Canal was the indispensable route to its prize possession, India, and in 1928 the town Ismailia happened to house not only the company’s offices but a major British military base built during WWI. It was also, in the 1920s a center of pro-British sentiment in Egypt.

In the post-WWI world, England reigned supreme, the flag of the British Empire was everywhere from the Mediterranean to India. A new generation of kings and potentates ruled over British dominated colonies, mandates, vassal states, and semi-independent fiefdoms in Egypt, Arabia, Iraq, Transjordan and Persia. To varying degrees those monarchies were beholden to London.

In the half century between 1875 and 1925 the building blocks of the militant Islamic right were cemented in place by the British Empire.

Islamic Banking Made in Geneva/London

Islamic banking [that is the banking system dominated presently by Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States] was born in Egypt and financed by Saudi Arabia and then spread to the far corners of the Muslim world. Eventually the Islamic banking movement became a vehicle not only for exporting political Islam but for sponsoring violence. However, Islamic banking did not get off the ground on its own, as Ibrahim Warde (a renowned scholar of international finance) explains in his book “Islamic Finance in the Global Economy,” Islamic banking:

operates more out of London, Geneva, or the Bahamas than it does out of Jeddah, Karachi or Cairo…Ideologically, both liberalism and economic Islam were driven by their common opposition to socialism and economic dirigisme…Even Islamic Republics have on occasion openly embraced neo-liberalism…In Sudan, between 1992 and the end of 1993, Economics Minister Abdul Rahim Hamdi – a disciple of Milton Friedman and incidentally a former Islamic banker in London – did not hesitate to implement the harshest free-market remedies dictated by the International Monetary Fund. He said he was committed to transforming the heretofore statist economy ‘according to free-market rules, because this is how an Islamic economy should function.’ ” [emphasis added]

Perhaps the best case study to this phenomenon is the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

BCCI was an international bank founded in 1972 by Agha Hasan Abedi, a Pakistani financier. The bank was registered in Luxembourg with head offices in Karachi and London. A decade after opening, BCCI had over 400 branches in 78 countries in excess of $20 billion USD, making it the seventh largest private bank in the world.

In the 1980s investigations into BCCI led to the discovery of its involvement in massive money laundering and other financial crimes, and that the BCCI had illegally and secretly gained the control of a major American bank, First American, according to Robert Morgenthau (Manhattan DA) who had been investigating the bank for over two years.

BCCI was also to be found guilty for illegally buying another American bank, the Independence Bank of Los Angeles, using a Saudi businessman Ghaith Paraon as the puppet owner. The American depositors lost most of their money when BCCI was forced to foreclose since it was essentially operating a Ponzi scheme to fund illegal activity of all sorts.

According to Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald’s book “The Valediction”:

Afghanistan offered the opportunity for BCCI to migrate the lucrative heroin business from Southeast Asia [Laos/Cambodia/Vietnam] to the Pakistani/Afghan border under the cover of destabilization. President Carter supported Brzezinski’s provocations into Soviet territory from the minute they got into the White House. He then sanctioned Brzezinski’s plan to use Afghanistan to lure the Soviet Union into its own Vietnam and lied to the public about it when they fell into the trap on December 27, 1979.

…The destabilization kills three birds with one stone. It weakens the Soviets…It acts as a cover for moving the heroin business out of Vietnam/Laos and Cambodia to a safe haven on the Pakistan frontier with Afghanistan – a trade that propped up the British Empire financially for over a hundred years.

…Afghan drug dealer and CIA asset Gulbuddin Hekmatyar…[then organizes] a deal with the renegade gangster, Afghan prime minister, and possible CIA asset Hafizullah Amin…to make Kabul the center of the world heroin trade…pays for the off-the-books operation with drug money brought in by Hekmatyar and laundered through a Pakistani bank…known as BCCI. Everything goes smoothly until the new US Ambassador Adolph Dubs launches a campaign against the destabilization…

US Ambassador Adolph Dubs was assassinated, just seven months after taking his post, under an extremely suspect situation, on February 14, 1979, to which Gould and Fitzgerald do a superb investigation of, as well as what really happened in Afghanistan in 1979, in their book “The Valediction.

Investigators in the United States and the UK determined that BCCI had been “set up deliberately to avoid centralized regulatory review, and operated extensively in bank secrecy jurisdictions. Its affairs were extraordinarily complex. Its officers were sophisticated international bankers whose apparent objective was to keep their affairs secret, to commit fraud on a massive scale, and to avoid detection.[9]

This is an incredibly sophisticated operation, and interestingly, uses the very same methods that the City of London has been using for centuries and presently operates to a diabolical perfection today. There is no way that a solo Pakistani financier, even if he was financed by the Sheik of Abu Dhabi, could rise in less than a decade, operating on the turf of ancient banking channels that go back several centuries, to rise to become the seventh largest bank in the netherworld of finance without a little help from the big boys.

On July 29th, 1991, a Manhattan grand jury indicted BCCI on twelve accounts of fraud, money laundering and larceny. Robert Morgenthau (Manhattan DA), who was in charge of the investigation, has described BCCI as “the largest bank fraud in world financial history.”

Through the Rabbit Hole and Out Again

Today, the actions of the United States can best be understood in the context of the Anglo-American Empire, with Wall Street operating as an extension of the ancient banking channels of the City of London and Geneva.

The disastrous foreign policy of namely Britain and the United States in the War on Terror Crusade has been exposed multiple times. That is, that the very governments who have been shouting the loudest against Islamic extremism and for stability in the Middle East, are the very ones who have been weaponising, training and funding such terrorist groupings. The Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, ISIS (and all its viral variants) would not exist today if it were not for namely Britain’s age old strategy.

So what is the goal?

Well, what does any empire seek? Global domination.

In this light, the War on Terror is exposed for what it truly is. It is meant to impoverish and destroy the national sovereignty of the people, not only of the Middle East (or more accurately Southwest Asia), but as we are seeing clearly today, it has also acted as a slow blood-letting of the western people, whose economies are much weaker today than they were 20 years ago.

While western countries are increasingly unable to provide a proper standard of living, with mass unemployment, lack of healthcare, increased crime and suicide rates, and increased overdoses and homelessness, and pretty much everything you would expect to rise during a Dark Age straight out of a Goya painting, these “first-world” governments are applying further austerity measures on the people, even after prolonged lockdowns, while openly pumping trillions of dollars into wars that not only fund the destruction of entire nations, but funds the global drug, arms and sex-trafficking trade. All of this dirty money then circles back into the London-Geneva fondi, benefitting a select class that has existed and thrived for centuries on this sort of backdrop.

Nobody has benefitted from this War on Terror except the global elite.

So stop getting sucked into the same old same old lies; stop being a slave to the system and let us finally unite and stand up against the true common enemy of the people of the world.

The author can be reached at https://cynthiachung.substack.com/

  1. Elie Kedourie, “Afghani and Abduh: An Essay on Religious Unbelief and Political Activism in Modern Islam” 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. The proposal to London from Jamal al-Din al-Afghani was reported by a British Orientalist and author W.S. Blunt, a friend of Afghani’s. It is cited in C.C. Adams, “Islam and Modernism in Egypt.” 
  4. Elie Kedourie, “Afghani and Abduh: An Essay on Religious Unbelief and Political Activism in Modern Islam.” 
  5. Ibid. 
  6. David Holden and Richard Johns, “The House of Saud.” 
  7. Richard P. Mitchell, “The Society of the Muslim Brothers.” 
  8. Ibid. 
  9. John Kerry “The BCCI Affair: A Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations.” 

Iran’s SCO promotion & the rise of a new world order: Report

September 27, 2021

Visual search query image

Description: 

A recent report published on Al Mayadeen’s website highlights the significance of Iran’s accession to full membership status at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a powerful international body that just grew even bigger.

The report suggests that Iran’s admission into the SCO is part of a broader global shift to a new world order in which the Asian region plays a central role.

Source:  Al Mayadeen (Website)

Date:  September 17, 2021

(Note: Please help us keep producing independent translations by contributing a small monthly amount here )

Transcript:

Iran is a Full Member of the “Shanghai Organization” … Timing and Economic Importance

17 September, 2021

The acceptance of Iran as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at this time  indicates(positive) signs (for the Islamic Republic), as it coincides with changes inside and outside the country. (These) changes appear to be in (Iran’s) favor, especially after it broke the US economic embargo by signing a strategic partnership agreement with China.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit began today in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, on the 20th anniversary of the foundation of this organization. The (SCO) defines itself as an international political, economic and security organization with a regional character represented by the Eurasia region. It was founded by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in the year 2001.

In 2005, Iran, India and Pakistan joined the organization as observer members, and in 2017, India and Pakistan became permanent members. Afghanistan, Mongolia and Belarus are currently observer member states of the organization, while the countries of Armenia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Nepal, Cambodia, Turkey and Sri Lanka applied to join the organization in 2015.

However, the role of this organization and its political influence extend beyond the Eurasia region to other regions of the Asian continent, and even beyond (Asia’s) borders, given the economic and military weight enjoyed by its members. It is also gradually expanding outside its narrow scope by including other countries from the Central Asian region, the most important of which are India and Pakistan.


Iran as a Full Member of the Shanghai Organization

In another expansionary step with great significance at various levels, the Organization announced at its meeting today – through the words of Chinese President Xi Jinping – its acceptance to grant Iran full membership after (Tehran) had been an observer member for years. The Chinese president said: “Iran will be considered a full member of the Shanghai Organization at today’s meeting.”


The Significance of the Timing of the Membership

Granting Iran full membership within the Shanghai Organization at this time seems remarkable as it comes after:

1)  The China-Iran strategic agreement, which was signed in Tehran on March 27 (2021), after a regional tour by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that included the Gulf states and Turkey. The Strategic Partnership Agreement, as it was called, is a 25-year agreement between the two countries covering the political, economic, military and industrial fields.

This agreement serves both countries, as it guarantees the global economic giant (China) further expansion in its role and establishment of its presence on the international scene, especially in the countries that the United States has placed on the list of “forbidden regions” upon which harsh economic sanctions are imposed. It also gives Iran an opportunity to liberate itself from these sanctions and sell its oil products which the US not only refuses to buy, but also prevents other countries from buying by threatening them with sanctions, in an attempt to put economic pressure on Iran to change its political positions.

(According to this agreement), in return for its exported oil, Iran can import what it needs in terms of industrial equipment, machinery and expertise, and prepare (develop) its ports and infrastructure with Chinese assistance. (This step) allows China to use these facilities to export its products via land and sea towards the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, and on to the European continent in the north, and Africa in the south.


2) The complete and rushed US military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the country that has been occupied by the United States and its NATO allies for 20 years.

Afghanistan is located within the borders of the Eurasian region, between the two major countries in the world, China and Russia. The United States sought to prevent the rapprochement (between these two countries) and impede their economic growth, especially China’s, by cutting off the routes for its land and sea exports to the West, and threatening its security by igniting wars and security disturbances.

It is worth noting that it is no coincidence that the organization was formed only 4 months before the date of the American invasion of Afghanistan, and to the sound of the drums of war that the US and Britain started after the September 11 attacks that toppled the World Trade Center in New York and targeted the US Department of Defense (Pentagon).

The US role in obstructing the work of the Shanghai Organization and the growth of China’s economic standing was demonstrated by the rush of the “Taliban” movement leaders – which quickly and gradually seized all the Afghan regions in conjunction with the departure of the occupying (US) forces – to visit China, meet officials in its Foreign Ministry, emphasize China’s pivotal role in the reconstruction of the country exhausted by occupation and conflicts, and reassure (Beijing) that they will not use Afghan territory to target the security of other countries.


3) The election of a new president of Iran last June.

The (former) head of the judiciary and a strongman, Ibrahim Raisi won by a large margin of votes over his remaining rivals, this after the withdrawal of the most famous candidates in his favor, one of which was the former chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

Since the beginning of his term, Raisi has sought to enhance his country’s presence and position in the world by strengthening its relations at the regional level, and benefiting from all its capabilities, foremost of which is its geographical location. During his speech at the (Shanghai) summit, the Iranian president stated that “Iran can be a bridge for Eurasia linking the north to the south.”

Before heading to Tajikistan, Raisi said that his country’s participation in the summit “will focus on our economic and cultural relations with Asian countries,” stressing that “cooperation with neighboring countries and the region is a top priority of Iran’s foreign policy.” Last August, Raisi declared that strengthening Iran’s relations with Russia and China, the two main members of the organization, was one of the priorities of his foreign policy.


Creating Economic Opportunities for Iran and Liberating it from the US Embargo

Of the three previous points, the strategic agreement between Iran and China – Beijing forming the most prominent pillar of the organization – is the most important thing that contributed to Iran’s full membership. What occurred appears to be nothing other than the expansion of the official international recognition of Iran’s regional role and presence; a greater facilitation (for Iran) to help it get through the (all-out) US embargo; and the creation of opportunities for Iran in different fields by China and Russia.

President Vladimir Putin stated during his speech at the summit that his country “supports the decision submitted for approval by the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization regarding the start of procedures for Iran’s admission to the organization,” stressing the mutual importance of its admission by saying that this would “increase the international influence of the organization.”

The first Iranian comment came from the spokesman for the head of the Iranian Parliament, Nizamuddin Mousavi, who said in an interview with ISNA that what we are witnessing is “the establishment of a new world order, where the Eastern Power Quartet (Russia, China, India, Iran) brings together some of the most important international players in this new world order.” He added that “Iran’s admission into this organization, despite Washington’s opposition, proves that the era of unilateral policies is over, and that we are witnessing the establishment of a new world order.”

In economic terms, Mousavi said that his country’s admission “means reaching a market of 3 billion people, and this is a great opportunity that requires a roadmap so that we can benefit from it in the best way.”

This accession was preceded by the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 states, several rounds of which were conducted in the Austrian capital Vienna in the last months of the term of former President Hassan Rouhani. There was talk of future rounds of negotiations after the formation of the first Iranian government under President Ibrahim Raisi. The accession (of Iran to SCO membership) also came after the positive visit of the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, to Tehran, and his meeting with the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mohammad Eslami.

All the foregoing factors contribute to the reassurance that Iran feels at the beginning of Ibrahim Raisi presidency, and brings the country closer to an international position that (Tehran) seeks despite the obstacles posed by its enemies. However, to hold on to these gains and take advantage of the new opportunities available, Iran will face major challenges (in the road ahead).


Subscribe to our mailing list!

Related Posts:

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s news conference to sum up the high-level meetings week at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, New York, September 25, 2021

SEPTEMBER 27, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s news conference to sum up the high-level meetings week at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, New York, September 25, 2021

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4867149

Question: Which opportunities and risk factors does the new Taliban’s Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan present? Does Russia fear that the presence of Taliban could somehow feed Islamic extremism in the region? If so, what can be done?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, Afghanistan is now on everyone’s mind. We believe, and we did believe from the outset, that what has happened there is a reality. Unfortunately, the hasty pull-out, let’s call it this way, by the United States and other NATO countries of their troops was carried out without any consideration of the consequences. As you are aware, many weapons were left behind in Afghanistan. We all need to see to it that these weapons do not serve any unconstructive purposes.

The reality on the ground is based on statements made by the Taliban who proclaimed their commitment to fighting extremism and terrorism, including ISIS and Al-Qaeda, not to project instability on their neighbours. They committed themselves to respecting women’s rights and to creating an inclusive government. You know all this. What matters the most at the moment is that they fulfil their promises.

The first step to form a transitory government structure fails to reflect the whole gamut of the Afghan society in its ethnic, religious and political diversity. We remain engaged with the Taliban, and these contacts have been continuing for several years now. We are doing this, inter alia, within the expanded troika of Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan. Only recently, Russian, Chinese and Pakistani representatives travelled to Doha, and after that they visited Kabul where they engaged with the Taliban, as well as with representatives of the secular authorities. I am referring to former President Hamid Karzai and former Head of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah. These contacts primarily focused on the need to form a genuinely representative government structure. The Taliban claim to be moving in this direction, and the current architecture is only temporary. What matters the most is to make sure that they keep the promises that they made in public. For us, the top priority is precisely what you just mentioned: it is unacceptable that extremism spills over into neighbouring countries, and the terrorist threat must not persist on Afghan soil. We will do everything we can to support the Taliban in their determination, as you have said, to fight ISIS and other terrorist groups, and to try to make sure that this determination paves the way to some practical progress.

Question: Does Russia consider easing or lifting its national sanctions against the Taliban members who become part of the new Afghan government in order to facilitate contacts with them? What position will Russia take during UN talks on easing or lifting sanctions against the Taliban?

Sergey Lavrov: As things stand at the moment, nothing is restraining or hindering our contacts with the Taliban. Moreover, the UN Security Council sanctions, as set forth in the corresponding resolutions, are not preventing us from engaging in such contacts. On the contrary, UN Security Council resolutions stipulate the need to advance a political process, and without working together with the Taliban this is impossible.

We have been engaged in contacts with this movement for some years now, and these contacts have been primarily geared towards ensuring the safety ofr Russian nationals, facilitating intra-Afghan reconciliation and political process. I have not heard any suggestions within the UN Security Council about the need to ease or lift international sanctions at one of the forthcoming meetings. There is no need for this for us to be able to engage with the Taliban movement at this stage.

We all expect the Taliban to honour all the good-minded promises they made. For this reason, we will see whether the terrorist and drug trafficking threats are actually eliminated.

Question: The UN Secretary-General has warned of disastrous consequences of a putative economic collapse in Afghanistan. What do you think about the idea to unfreeze Afghan assets held by international organisations?

It appears from your remarks that your policy is to judge the Taliban by their deeds. In what way does the Taliban ideology differ from that of other Islamic groups in other parts of the world, such as the groups in Syria, which you are opposing and showering with bombs?

Sergey Lavrov: Syria, as you may know, is where the seat of terrorism is located. Practically the entire Syrian territory has been liberated, but the so-called de-escalation zone in Idlib province is under the sway of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an offspring of Jabhat al-Nusra. All the UN Security Council resolutions point out the nature of these terrorist organisations. I see no problem here from the point of view of destroying the terrorists in Syria.

We are holding talks with our Turkish partners, who signed with us, a couple of years ago now, a special agreement whereby they undertook to fight terrorists in the Idlib de-escalation zone and to separate them from armed groups that are not terrorist ones and to cooperate with the Turkish military. In just a few days from now, President of Russia Vladimir Putin will have yet another meeting with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The presidents will thoroughly analyse how this commitment is being implemented. It is being implemented at a rather slow pace. This is obvious.

As for the Taliban and comparisons between them and other groups, we cannot divide the terrorists into good guys and bad guys. There is a sufficient number of exemptions from sanctions imposed on the Taliban. This has been made on purpose to enable [the international community] to have a dialogue with them. It means that the UN Security Council recognises the Taliban as an inalienable part of Afghan society, which, for Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham are not. This is what makes the difference.

We will induce those who have seized power in Kabul following the flight of the foreign contingents to behave in a civilised way.

We have mentioned the unfreezing of the assets. We think that this matter should be given a practical consideration from the positions you have mentioned in quoting the UN Secretary-General.

Question: The Taliban Government have decided on the candidacies for their ambassador to Russia. Will Russia be prepared to issue an agreement to people proposed by the Taliban?

Sergey Lavrov: We have no information of anyone applying to us for an agrement. Serving in Moscow today is the ambassador appointed by the previous government. No one is urging an international recognition of the Taliban. We will proceed precisely from this principle if and when we receive a request regarding the appointment of a new ambassador.

Question: We have heard US President Joe Biden’s statement. He said that the period of relentless war has ended, and that the era of relentless diplomacy has been ushered in. Do you believe this?

What about Russia’s diplomatic property? Has there been any progress?

Even some of the members of the delegation had problems with their visas, let alone the fact that there was a danger that the Russian delegation would not be allowed into the UN General Assembly because of the vaccination requirements, with vaccines that were approved in the United States. Are they just trying to annoy us whenever they can?

Sergey Lavrov: I do not think that this is an attempt to annoy us in any way. Most likely they are just a bit at a loss over the resumption of in-person UN General Assembly meetings. I cannot blame the New York authorities for being overly cautious. This is a serious event, and a lot of people come here from all around the world. There are quite a few different variants of the virus already, so safety measures do not hurt.

It is another question, as you have so rightly put it, that we do not accept any attempts to discriminate against vaccines that are not registered in the United States but have proven time and again to be effective. Sputnik V is a case in point. Several EU countries, for example, Hungary and Slovakia, have approved our vaccines, and this should serve as an example for other EU and NATO members.

As for visas for our delegation, apart from the epidemiological situation, the delay in the granting of visas was obviously caused by political considerations. We have seen through this. A number of our employees have yet to obtain their visas, including State Duma members who are part of the delegation. We will see to it that the UN Secretariat leadership fulfils its duties as to ensuring compliance with all the provisions of the agreement between the UN and the United States, the headquarters host country. Instances of flagrant violation of this agreement and repeated failures to comply with the UN headquarters host country commitments have been piling up, including the confiscation of diplomatic property, as you have just mentioned. The UN Committee on Relations with the Host Country has said that this is unacceptable and wrong. The Secretary-General should have launched arbitration proceedings against the actions by the United States several years ago. We had a meeting yesterday, and I reminded him of this fact. I was glad that his Legal Counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares, was present at this meeting, since it is his duty to initiate these steps. They have been long overdue.

United States President Joe Biden said that the United States will no longer use force to change regimes abroad. “Never say never,” as the saying goes. We have seen how the Donald Trump administration pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal that was concluded by the Barack Obama administration. Now that talks on fully restoring the JCPOA to settle the situation around the Iranian nuclear programme are underway, one of the questions the Iranians are asking the Americans is whether the agreement to restore this plan can include a clause binding future administrations to respect it? The Americans say that they cannot do this, since this is how their system works. International law is one thing, but their law is a nose of wax, and can be twisted about any way they so desire.

United States President Joe Biden said that an era of “relentless diplomacy” has been ushered in. This means that the Americans will seek to impose on other countries what they deem right for them by other means. This could include colour revolutions. They do not require any use of force, but are equally destructive. Just look at Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine, our neighbour.

We want the United States to make the next step and move beyond the commitment not to use force for reshaping other countries by actually refraining from doing this altogether. They must recognise that we are all different. We have different cultural, civilisational roots, but we share the same planet and must respect each other.

Question: According to our information, preparations for Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria’s Nuland’s visit to Moscow are underway. Where do these talks stand at this point? Can you give us a timeline for the visit? What does Moscow expect to receive in response to the temporary lifting of restrictions from someone who is on Russia’s black list?

Sergey Lavrov: If you have sources of information that let you know about this, I encourage you to ask them this question. The Foreign Ministry and the US State Department are working on a number of contacts. This is not the only matter under discussion.

When both parties decide on a date for contact to take place in order to discuss a specific issue, we will make a corresponding announcement.

Question: I have a question about the JCPOA. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that swift action is needed, because we are running out of time. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said yesterday that they were ready for that. They appear to be receiving mixed signals from the United States, but they should come up with an agreement soon. You were involved in making this deal happen. As a negotiator, have you any idea what will happen if the United States does not return to the agreement and Iran continues its nuclear programme? What is the worst-case scenario?

Sergey Lavrov: Iran is not doing anything illegal, because it is complying with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and an additional protocol to a comprehensive safeguards agreement. Iran is not complying with most of its obligations included in the JCPOA which are now not binding, because the Americans have destroyed the agreement.

The issue is about restoring it in full so that Iran has no reason to make exceptions to its commitments. The IAEA, including in the person of its Director General, is in contact with the Iranians. They have a complete picture of what is happening there. They are not being denied access to the work that Iran is doing as part of its nuclear programme. The IAEA has no reason to believe that the 2015 findings to the effect that there were no signs of the nuclear programme being re-oriented towards military needs have become outdated. They have no reason to revise these findings. They speak about this explicitly.

Of course, we want the talks on the full restoration of the JCPOA to resume as soon as possible. But, first, the government in Iran has just been formed. They say they will need a week or two (hopefully not more) to put together their negotiating team. There have been personnel changes. Second, when the United States withdrew from the JCPOA, Iran, for over a year, had been conscientiously complying  with its commitments under this document in hope that the United States would come to its senses and return to the deal. Of all people, our counterparts in Washington are not in a position to say that time is up. Indeed, it was carried out by the administration which is now gone, but this is the legacy of the current administration, especially since the JCPOA is its brainchild. It is only fair that it deliver bold action in addressing all related issues.

There are also sanctions that the US has illegally imposed on Iran, allegedly for violating the JCPOA. But the sanctions concern not just Iran. They have also imposed sanctions on everyone who carry out legal trade with Iran, including the supply of military products, which are no longer subject to a ban. These sanctions must be lifted as part of the reinstatement of the JCPOA. And Iran’s trading partners across all areas of commercial exchange must not be affected by America’s unilateral move.

Question: Will Iran’s economy collapse if the JCPOA is not restored?

Sergey Lavrov: We are not even considering scenarios like that. There is serious hope and cautious optimism that we will be able to achieve a result. At least everyone wants it, including the United States and Iran.

Question: The calm in the northwest of Syria has changed with Russia’s intense airstrikes in recent weeks, particularly ahead of the summit between President Erdogan and President Putin. Why is Russia stepping up its attacks just ahead of this summit?

And another question on Syria as well. Is there an agreement or consensus between Russia and the US following the meeting between the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and US National Security Council Coordinator Brett McGurk, which took place in Geneva? Thank you.

Sergey Lavrov: We are using force in northwestern Syria in conformity with the requirements contained in UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which provides for an uncompromising struggle against terrorism in Syria.

I have mentioned that there was a special agreement on Idlib between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Our Turkish colleagues have committed themselves to separating the normal and sensible opposition forces from the terrorists. This should have been done long ago. So far, this has not happened. There is slow progress, but the threats of terrorism from the militants in the Idlib de-escalation zone are constantly renewed. These people are attacking the positions of the Syrian army and have repeatedly tried to launch strike drones to attack the Russian Khmeimim Air Base.

Our Turkish friends are well aware that we will not put up with this behaviour and with these militants’ attitude to the role performed by the Turkish military in the Idlib de-escalation zone. We will have detailed discussions as part of preparations for the presidential meeting. The September 29 summit will focus on ways to achieve what we have agreed upon and prevent the terrorists from ruling the roost.

As for contacts with the US regarding the right bank of the Euphrates, they are held periodically. We draw their attention to the fact that the US presence in Syria is illegitimate, to the outrageous situation in the 55-kilometre zone called Al-Tanf, which they have occupied, and to the situation at the Rukban camp located in the US-controlled territory. This is a long story.

The contacts taking place between the foreign ministries and the security councils are mostly about the fact that the Americans are present [in Syria] illegally, illegitimately, but they are there.  This is the reality. Given their tendency to fire all their guns with or without reason, we are negotiating the so-called deconflicting mechanism with them.   It is working. Let me draw your attention to the fact that it is functioning despite the legal bans on contacts between the militaries imposed by the US Congress. Not so long ago, the heads of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff officially announced that this was unreasonable and that the bans on military contacts should be lifted. I think this will do good both to the deconflicting process in Syria and our further arms dialogue as a whole.

Question: Turkey has expressed concerns about the voting in Crimea in the recent State Duma elections. This is despite the fact that Russia has provided humanitarian assistance for COVID-19 to Turkey, as well as military cooperation. My question is: could you address the imbalance, what is your analysis of the imbalance in relations?

Sergey Lavrov: Turkey was not the only one to voice “concerns” or “denounce” the vote in Crimea. I can give you two explanations for this “commotion.” First, five years ago, when the previous State Duma elections were held, no one made any statements of this kind, at least not that strong. Had this been the case, I would have remembered it, but no such thing occurred.

However, now they are pouncing on this issue, including the hectic efforts to convene the so-called Crimea Platform in Kiev, and all the commotion around the election. I think that this is an attempt to divert attention from the fact that Kiev, under President Vladimir Zelensky’s leadership, has shamefully failed to honour its commitments under the Minsk Agreements on overcoming the intra-Ukrainian conflict in the east of the country. It is obvious. The adopted laws have been a de-facto obstacle to granting southeastern Ukraine the status required under the Minsk Agreements.

We drew the attention of our German and French colleagues, as well as the European Union to the fact that their “clients” are negating UN Security Council resolutions, because it was the Security Council that approved the Minsk Agreements. Unfortunately, they are all bashfully looking the other way, while President Vladimir Zelensky understood that all he needed to do was divert attention from his own failures and the fact that the Minsk Agreements were sabotaged. Therefore, they are now playing the Crimean card.

A lack of professionalism in foreign policy is the second reason why they are doing this. Professionals know all too well that the Crimea question is closed once and for all.

Question: My second question is regarding Mali. France has expressed concern about the presence of military contractors from Russia in Mali. They are now being joined by their European allies speaking about this concern. My question is: what is Russia’s position on this?

Sergey Lavrov: I have heard these questions. Foreign Minister of France Jean-Yves Le Drian, and EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, have raised them with me.

Mali currently has a transitional government. Those authorities are undertaking efforts to restore the constitutional order, prepare elections and return to civilian rule. The elections are scheduled to take place in February under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union.

Mali’s transitional government has emphasised its commitment to international obligations and is combatting terrorism. It has called upon a private Russian military company because, to my understanding, France intends to substantially reduce its military presence there, and these troops were tasked with fighting terrorists entrenched in the north, in an area called Kidal. But they did not succeed, and terrorist are still in control there.

The Malian authorities considered their own capabilities insufficient without support from abroad, but those who had promised to eliminate terrorism in this country decided to draw down their presence. So they went to a Russian private military company. We have nothing to do with this. This activity is legal and consists of a relationship between the host country, which is a legitimate government recognised by everyone as a legitimate transitional structure, on the one hand, and those offering their services as foreign experts.

Let me emphasise that apart from private military companies, the Russian state has been making its own contribution to ensuring Mali’s defence capability and combat readiness for eliminating the terrorist threat and other threats. We do this by supplying military equipment as part of our assistance. We also work within the UN Security Council to devise the best approaches to further peacebuilding efforts.

I do not see any reason to question this. Yesterday I had a meeting with Mali’s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Abdoulaye Diop, who talked to the press on this matter. There are no questions here. In fact, the problem lies elsewhere. Our colleagues from the European Union, as Josep Borrell told me, are asking us to stop working in Africa altogether, because this is “their place.” It would be better for the EU and the Russian Federation to align their actions in fighting terrorism not only in Mali, but in the Sahara-Sahelian region in general. Claiming that “they were there first, so we must leave” is, first, an insult to the Bamako government that has invited its foreign partners, and second, it is not the way to treat anyone.

Question: Shortly before the Russian parliamentary elections, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the European Commission to refuse to recognise the results of the vote. Did you discuss this with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell? Will the EU recognise the results of the Russian State Duma elections?

Sergey Lavrov: We have not heard any assessments from the European Union proper because the European Parliament is not a body that determines EU policy. I spoke about this with Josep Borrell; I quoted some of the assessments made during his remarks in the European Parliament, including the absolutely unacceptable statements that the European Union distinguishes between “the regime” in Moscow and the Russian people.

He made some rather awkward and vague excuses. It was quite obvious that he realised the phrasing was lame at the very least. I hope that was just a phrase, not the idea. This happens. Sometimes we let something slip only to regret it later.

We have no information about anyone officially rejecting the results of our elections, which have just been announced.

Question: France calls for a review of the recent nuclear submarine deal between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom to verify its compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). What is your opinion on this matter? What do you generally think of this new triple alliance, which has created such a stir and runs counter to the partnership agreements in NATO and beyond?

Sergey Lavrov: This deal, signed immediately after the flight from Afghanistan, inevitably raises questions from the parties to these alliances. Probably, in addition to a commercial grievance, France is also thinking how reliable these alliances are and how this has increased the relevance of Europe’s strategic autonomy? These are big questions for the Western camp, and they have to address them.

We are not going to interfere in these matters. Yet, we might feel the consequences of what is happening there. This may affect our relations with the European Union, may spur the EU’s interest in cooperating with us, in using the obvious geopolitical and geostrategic advantages of being on one huge continent, especially since the global growth centre is shifting towards Asia.

I have discussed this with many participants here who represent the European Union and who do not like what is happening. Especially when the EU says they should “push back against, constrain, and engage” with Russia. I asked Josep Borrell how they were going to “engage with us,” exactly. Do you know what he answered? “Get out of Mali.” That is all there is to this policy, to this triad. That’s what it is worth. I am being honest. I do not think there is a violation of any ethical norms here because they are also talking about this publicly. I am just giving examples to illustrate their way of thinking.

As regards the Non-Proliferation Treaty, this matter is being discussed a lot on the sidelines in Vienna. The IAEA is responsible for the non-proliferation regime and for ensuring that nuclear research is not diverted to military needs. For a submarine, uranium must be enriched to 90 percent. This is weapons-grade uranium. We will probably have to ask for an IAEA expert review.

A similar attempt to develop such submarines by a non-nuclear country was made a few decades ago. The project was eventually scrapped then, and that settled the whole matter. But now, this deal has been signed. If the IAEA confirms it is in line with nuclear safety and non-diversion to military needs, there will be a queue for such submarines.

Question: In the lead up to the high-level week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a warning that the world might be drawn into a new vastly more dangerous cold war if the US and China fail to mend their completely collapsed relations. He called for the avoidance of a new confrontation at any cost, and also warned that it would be more dangerous than the cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States and dealing with its aftereffects would be much more difficult. What does Russia have to say to these statements?

Sergey Lavrov: Make no mistake, we had this issue on our radar screen even before UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres mentioned it. We see that tensions in China-US relations are escalating. We are aware of who is “playing the first violin” in this not too pleasant turn of events. This worries us. Confrontational schemes do not help the people of our planet to live a normal life: be it the recently announced Indo-Pacific Strategy, which explicitly proclaimed containing China, including in the South China Sea, one of its main goals, or QUAD that was formed as part of these strategies, or, by the same token, the purported AUKUS “triple alliance,” the purpose of which is to help Australia contain the “Chinese threat.”

Yesterday and today, I met with a number of ministers representing ASEAN member countries and asked them how things were going. Talks are underway between China and ASEAN to draft a legally binding code of conduct in the South China Sea. Things are not moving fast, but this is the most reliable way to ensure freedom of navigation and everything else that worries our Western partners to the extent that they keep holding provocative and non-provocative naval manoeuvres and creating anti-Chinese geopolitical schemes. We stand for mutually respectful relations between the great powers that never escalate into a nuclear war. The presidents of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Joseph Biden, confirmed the unacceptability of this at the Geneva summit. Any kind of war between nuclear powers is unacceptable, because the risks of it escalating into a nuclear conflict are enormous. Humanity has not come up with anything new in this regard. We must talk and strive to find a compromise and get along. As President Trump put it, we must “make a deal.” This is the right expression to use not only in business, but in politics as well. Politics is needed to create a proper environment for normal life, rather than for someone to promote their ambitions, so that everyone agrees that they are “the coolest guy on Earth.” This is obvious to normal people. Great powers must act responsibly with regard to their people and the rest of humanity.

President Putin proposed holding a UN Security Council permanent members’ summit. The pandemic has delayed this work. We have resumed it now. We aim to come to an agreement with our partners from China and the three Western permanent members of the UN Security Council on specific issues which will then be included in the agenda, and on the format of discussions (we may start out online). Talks are the only way to resolve the issues at hand. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council must set an example to other countries.

Question: In connection with the withdrawal of foreign contingents – official and informal mercenaries – from Libya, disputes arose about over whether it would be better to withdraw them only after the elections, upon receipt of an official request from a new government. Some say this should take place before December 24 to ensure fair and legitimate elections. The spokesman for the Presidential Council said today that you highlighted two points at a meeting with Mohammed al-Menfi: the need for a settlement between the Libyan parties and the withdrawal of foreign troops. Does Russia think it should be done before or after the elections?

Sergey Lavrov: Before or after the elections is not a critical matter. Most importantly, the final document of the second International Conference on Libya held in Berlin in June reads as follows: all foreign armed people must leave Libya. Our Turkish colleagues made a reservation saying they had been invited there by the legitimate leadership in the person of the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord, Fayez al-Sarraj. However, the other part of Libyan society – the Tobruk Parliament – is no less legitimate. Both of these bodies were created under the Skhirat Agreement. The legitimate parliament along with the legitimate Libyan national army invited armed personnel, whom they have on their payroll, to come and join them from abroad. Concurrently, there were people who can be referred to as mercenaries. People are being transferred from Syria (to both sides), Chad and other African countries.

From the outset, the moment it came up in our discussions, we said that we were in favour of doing this. Considering that foreign military forces are on both sides of the Libyan confrontation, we must make sure that they move out in small groups and simultaneously, so as not to create a military advantage on one side at any point in time. A ceasefire has been observed in Libya for over a year now. No one should be tempted to think that they can return to military methods and try to use force to resolve that country’s problems.

Question: Is Russia facilitating the withdrawal of troops from Libya?

Sergey Lavrov: They should deal with this in their 5+5 commission. We are ready to help, but if they continue to address non-priority matters, there will be no elections on December 24, 2021. They have just adopted the legislative framework for the elections. Then the Parliament voted on the legitimacy of Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh’s Government of National Unity. They need to be pushed towards an earnest discussion about how to live on. There are already speculations about whether the current leaders can run for office (reportedly, there was an agreement that they would not participate, but they want to). Our colleagues in the Secretariat are trying to create artificial difficulties when it comes to the format of the UN presence in Libya. They had better concentrate on fulfilling what we agreed on a year ago now. Nobody expected this. They should not be trying to change this to promote someone’s interests or advance hidden agendas.

Question: At what stage are the US-Russia strategic stability talks at the moment? As for nuclear weapons, what is Russia’s reaction to the recent missile launches in North and South Korea? What could work as an incentive for Kim Jong-un to return back to the negotiating table?

Sergey Lavrov: I heard that Pyongyang is sending signals about North Korea’s interest in normalising relations with South Korea. We have always stood for a direct dialogue between the North and the South. However, it was not always supported by the previous US administration, which wanted to control the process. I hope that in the new situation, the Biden administration will be ready to make more constructive steps to encourage the resumption of normal contacts between North and South Korea.

Missile launches don’t help. We noticed that this time, Seoul tried not to over-dramatise. I think this is the right thing to do. Once we begin to resort to public condemnation and strong rhetoric, this significantly reduces our incentives for diplomatic, professional, and calm dialogue. The final agreement can only be reached through confidential and quiet negotiations, rather than mutual recriminations through loudspeakers.

As regards the strategic stability talks with the United States, the first round took place in July. The second is due next week.

Question: As the UN General Assembly is meeting in New York, the Southern District Court in New York has again denied Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko’s appeal. He continues to be held in American dungeons, as does Viktor Bout. There have been occasional reports in the media about their possible exchange for Americans. Whose court is the ball in? How realistic is the exchange scenario?

Sergey Lavrov: It is difficult to make any predictions or promises on behalf of the United States. We have tried many times to change our citizens’ situation by invoking the Council of Europe Convention on Transfer of Sentenced Persons. The United States is a party to this Convention, just as we are. They categorically refuse to hear anything, including our arguments that both Yaroshenko and Bout (as well as a number of others) have been actually lured into a trap by provocations. They have been literally kidnapped, which is against the law. In Bout’s case, the Thai laws were violated – not all procedures were followed; with Yaroshenko, it was Liberia’s. There was also a case where they took Roman Seleznev in the Maldives in a gangster manner – they just put him on an aircraft and he was flown away. Nobody knew anything. Such methods of provoked attacks on our people are being used to achieve something. Either to persuade them to cooperate, or for some other reason. This is unacceptable.

About prisoner exchanges – Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden touched upon this matter in Geneva, among other things. They agreed that the respective Russian and US security services in charge of this matter will try to negotiate some mutually acceptable options. So far, we haven’t come to any agreement. The United States is only interested in getting its citizens back and does not seem to take our interests very seriously. They are interested in Paul Whelan, who is convicted of espionage. He was caught red-handed. This crime cannot be even compared with the reasons Yaroshenko and Bout got their sentences in excess of 20 years in prison. We are ready to talk. There are other American citizens as well. For some reason, they are not of interest to the administration in Washington. But talking is always better than not talking.

Question: On the JCPOA, the United States wants to discuss [inaudible] the Middle East. Will this be included into the JCPOA?  And on Syria, why doesn’t Damascus allow the UN to have humanitarian trips there? I know that there is a compromise made in the UN Security Council, but it does not seem to make sense. Does Syria or Damascus think that UN workers are Trojan horses?

Sergey Lavrov: Regarding the JCPOA, all we want is for it to resume without any preconditions. Attempts to add them as a requirement to expand the talks to include the Iranian missile programme or to discuss Iran’s “behaviour” in the region, as our Western colleagues say, have no future. This is like comparing apples and oranges. The agreement on the nuclear programme is a separate subject. If there are any concerns as to someone’s behaviour, Iran’s regional partners are not the only ones to have such concerns. Teheran has its own misgivings regarding them, which is totally normal for any region of the world.

The Persian Gulf countries engage in far-reaching foreign policy activities far beyond their regions. This must be taken into consideration. In this connection, we noted that many years ago Russia drafted a Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf region suggesting a dialogue inspired to some degree by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. This included discussing confidence-building measures, military transparency and attending each other’s exercises, as well as engaging in positive joint projects. Political scientists from the region and other countries have already discussed this topic. In August 2021, we updated our collective security approach for the Persian Gulf region and released it as an official UN General Assembly and Security Council document. We believe that it is at a forum of this kind, and we hope that we will succeed in convening it, that we need to discuss concerns over the presence of missiles in this region, since Iran is not alone in this regard, and what kind of policies various parties follow. The conflict in Yemen is a case in point in terms of exposing the interests of Arab countries and Iran. There is a need to reach agreements. We believe that this forum should reach beyond the Gulf region. You cannot separate Iraq, Egypt and Jordan in terms of their engagement in shaping a new common platform for constructive dialogue. The Arab League, and the five permanent members of the UN Security must all be involved. Probably, the European Union will also be interested. We believe this approach to be concrete and realistic, at least I had the impression that our colleagues were interested in it. Yesterday, I met with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and they are interested in this topic. We agreed to make it a priority as we resume our ministerial contacts.

As for humanitarian aid to Syria, yesterday I had a lengthy conversation on this topic with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. We cannot be satisfied with a situation where double standards are being used in the most flagrant and blatant manner. There are six million refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, or maybe even more. In November 2020, Russia and 20 other countries helped Damascus hold a conference on refugees. It focused on creating conditions that would enable refugees to return home, which is what most of them want. The fact that the United States did everything to intimidate those who were expected to attend this conference in Damascus, and the fact that the UN did not take part in the conference was a real shock for us. In fact, the UN representative in Damascus was the only person representing the UN as an observer. At the time, I wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying that this amounted to a failure to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 that provides a framework for the UN’s activity on the Syrian track. It clearly stipulates efforts to facilitate humanitarian deliveries and creating conditions that would enable refugees to return to Syria.

Early in 2021, the European Union held an annual conference on Syrian refugees in Brussels, without the Syrian Arab Republic, but co-chaired by the EU and the UN Secretary-General. How perplexing. Not only was Syria not present, which is already a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, but the funds collected at the conference went towards paying for the accommodation of refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, instead of being used to restore infrastructure in Syria. For this reason, I ask those of our friends from the media who worry about ordinary people in conflict zones, to note that initiatives of this kind make a mockery of international humanitarian law.

We adopted the compromise resolution in July. It is true that it extends the so-called cross-border humanitarian aid mechanism for another six months, with deliveries primarily coming from Turkey to the Idlib de-escalation zone. However, considering that the West clings to this mechanism that has not been agreed with Damascus and runs counter to the international humanitarian law, we have every reason to believe that there is some kind of hidden agenda there. We do not get any information on what is in the lorries heading to the Idlib de-escalation zone. The UN swears that they inspect every lorry, but there is no way this can be verified. Even more so, no one knows how this aid or whatever these boxes contain is distributed in the Idlib de-escalation zone, or whether terrorists from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other unacceptable structures benefit from this aid.

Unless specific measures are taken to unblock humanitarian aid deliveries through Damascus, as required under international humanitarian law, we will put an end to this untransparent cross-border activity. Moreover, since the adoption of the resolution requiring that aid be sent into Syria through Damascus as well, there was only one convoy, and even it was far from complete. About half of the supplies that had been waiting to be delivered for almost a year could not reach their destination. The convoy organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent back in April 2020 remained where it was. Those who care about the starving population must, first, appeal to the Western countries that can influence this situation, and second, reach out to the UN leadership so that it complies with the relevant resolution. Apart from purely the humanitarian aspects, on assisting Syria and humanitarian deliveries, this resolution calls for the so-called early recovery projects, including water supply, electricity, housing, schools and healthcare. This must be done, and the UN Secretariat knows this. Syrians currently face so much hardship. Throughout the Syrian crisis the UN Secretariat did little to create conditions facilitating the return of refugees. However, the UN Security Council Resolution is there. It has been adopted unanimously, and has to be carried out.

Question: Yesterday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared that the Palestinians would withdraw their recognition of the State of Israel, if Israel did not cease its occupation within one year.  This will lead to chaos in the Middle East. What can the Russian Federation as a friend of the Palestinians and a country maintaining good relations with Israel do to avoid this scenario? After the Palestinians lost faith in the efficacy of the peace process, do they have the right to defend themselves and resist the occupation?

Sergey Lavrov: All right, let’s talk about the Palestinian-Israeli problems. These problems are certainly grave ones. They were not helped by the “casting about” we observed during the previous US administration. I am referring to both their recognition of the Golan Heights and the attempts to promote what was actually an annexation inscribed in the context of the efforts to create a quasi Palestinian state. What is important here is that the Biden administration has confirmed its commitment to the two-state approach. But the Israeli prime minister is not confirming this commitment, although there are politicians in Israel and in the Israeli parliament, who have different views on how to ensure security of the Jewish State without living under constant strain and hitting targets threatening Israel. [According to them], the alternative is to come to an agreement and build a stable and peaceful life through a two-state safe and prosperous coexistence in keeping with the principles of a settlement endorsed by the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly. The current Israeli leaders are maintaining contacts that mostly boil down to keeping security in the Palestinian territories.

We believe that it would be a major mistake if the processes in the region – Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, etc. – make us forget about the Palestinian question. After all, it is the outgrowth of this planet’s longest-lasting modern conflict, a conflict that other powers sought to settle through the creation of two states. One state was established in no time, but the other state is still to be created.

I believe that the decision approved by the Arab League at the initiative of the King of Saudi Arabia almost 20 years ago now was a wise decision. I am referring to the Arab Peace Initiative, which said that the Arab countries would normalise their relations with Israel immediately after the creation of a viable Palestinian state conforming to all the UN-defined criteria. That was quite a specimen of statecraft. But the Trump administration attempted to turn everything upside down. The Abraham Accords promoted by a number of Arab countries were based on the logic that the first thing to do was to normalise relations between the Arabs and Israel, with the Palestinian problem to be considered afterwards. We welcome any kind of normalisation between any states. Not at the expense of Palestine in this case. It is gratifying that all the signatories of the Abraham Accords, including Bahrain, the UAE, the Sudan, and Morocco stressed that they were fully committed to the UN decisions on the Palestinian problem. This is where we should stand.

You asked whether they have the right to fight. They will not ask [for anyone’s permission]. The unregulated state of the Palestinian problem is the gravest factor feeding radical sentiments on the Arab “street.”  The extremist preachers are saying that their people have been wronged, that they were promised a state of their own 80 years ago but it was a deception. Young people, particularly uneducated ones, are highly sensitive to this sort of propaganda. But my Israeli colleagues get offended when I explain to them this aspect of the Middle East situation and the impact of the lack of a settlement of the Palestinian problem is exerting on stability in the whole of the region. They say I am wrong and that the problem is not very serious. But this is a shortsighted approach.

This is the reason why we are supporting Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas’ proposal to convene an international conference. But we are confident that it must be thoroughly prepared, for which purpose we would like to resume the activities of the Quartet of international intermediaries consisting of Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations and to recruit for joint work, for example, the foursome of Arab countries – Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, and Bahrain – that have relations with Israel.   Probably Saudi Arabia, the author of the Arab Peace Initiative, should be invited as well. This makes 4+4+1+2 (Israel and Palestine). If some parties believe that it is still too early to meet in this format, we are ready to offer our territory as a venue and support any other invitation for Israel and Palestine to meet for direct talks. The important thing is to avoid procrastination. We will seek to support this approach in every way we can.

Most importantly, while what we have just discussed depends on many factors (some depend on Israel, some on other members of regional organisations), there is one matter that depends on no one but the Palestinians themselves. I am referring to Palestinian unity. Attempts were being made to restore it a couple of years ago now. Certain agreements seemed to be reached and a circle of elections was announced. But eventually nothing came of it.  The lack of rapport between Ramallah and Gaza carries a negative charge. If the Palestinians restored their unity, it would be easier and more effective for them to talk to Israel at future negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once said that he did not know who to hold talks with, when it was unclear whom Mr Abbas was representing.  It looked like he had Ramallah alone, while Gaza was controlled by other people. These matters have a strong influence on any attempts to achieve major political results. The Palestinians are unwilling to restore unity. But we are actively working with all the Palestinian factions. I repeatedly invited them to Moscow. During the discussions they agree they should reunite, but later it all somehow goes amiss.

Question (retranslated from English): This week, the European Commission accused Russia of engaging in hacker attacks against European politicians and media representatives, in particular, German politicians and officials, in the run-up to tomorrow’s election in which they are participating. What is your response to these accusations? Do you have any expectations regarding the outcome of elections in Germany?

Trevor Reed’s family believes he was unjustly indicted and sentenced to an unreasonably long term. Could you comment on these statements as well?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already covered Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan, for that matter. Paul Whelan was arrested on espionage charges. He was caught red-handed. Trevor Reed was arrested for attacking and hitting a police officer several times. I am not sure how many years in prison people in the United States would get for violent attacks against a police officer. I think, many. Konstantin Yaroshenko and Viktor Bout were simply lured by deception into a deal where they used an aircraft for some purpose, which got them implicated into a case of arms and drug smuggling. They were sentenced to over 20 years in prison without having hurt anyone or having any intention to violate international rules for trading in particular types of goods. So, our US colleagues need to be consistent, if they are offended over someone being arrested here. The same standards should be applied to all situations. In the case of an attack on police officers, see what is happening at the trial on the “Capitol attack.”

With regard to the accusations advanced by the European Commission, we are willing to review the facts, but they simply will not give us any. We are being unfoundedly charged with the alleged poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko with polonium in London in 2007. They have not yet provided a single piece of evidence, but closed the process to the public and made it “official,” meaning that the judges can now consider secret materials behind closed doors. Now, they want to do the same with the process regarding the woman who died in Salisbury in the context of the Skripal case. They also want closed hearings on the causes of her death in order to avoid disclosing some secret documents. Nobody is making them available to us, but they blame us for everything. As with the Skripal case, they are also blaming us for the Malaysian Boeing case. The court in The Hague ruled that they had reason to believe the United States, which stated it had satellite images to prove that Russia had done it. But they did not show these images to anyone. The Dutch court considers this normal. They believe whatever the Americans say. Arnold Schwarzenegger famously said “trust me” in one of his films, and Ronald Reagan added “but verify.” So, we want to conduct verification. In the case of the MH17 flight, we provided the data from the radars and much more. The Ukrainians refused to share the data from their radars. Allegedly, they “went dead” during the crash. They refuse to provide the exchange between the air traffic controller and the pilots. This speaks volumes. And much more.

We’re being accused of interfering  in the US elections. I discussed this matter with my colleagues on many occasions, in particular, with former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He once said they had irrefutable evidence of Russia’s interference in the 2016 US elections, and I asked him to show it to me. He said they would not let us see it and that we should contact our special services for they would know what it was all about. That was all that was said. Is that okay?

The same goes for cyber attacks. The US authorities accused us (President Biden brought this issue up at a meeting with President Putin) or, rather our ransomware hackers, of attacking a meat processor and a fuel pipeline in the United States demanding them to pay ransom. Nobody showed us any evidence. President Biden, however, said their data show it is not the Russian Government that is doing this, but some people who are based in  Russia.

We let them know that most (about half) of the hacker attacks on our resources over the past year were carried out from the United States. Some originated in Germany and other countries. We have sent 45 official inquiries to our US colleagues indicating concrete facts that needed investigation. We received nine replies. We have received about 10 official inquiries and answered every one of them. I am heartened to know that the Americans agreed to move away from sporadic accusations and complaints and to begin systematic work on this matter after President Putin discussed this issue with President Biden in Geneva. The services that deal with cyber security have established dedicated communication channels. We hope that things will get going now.

With regard to the election in Germany, we wish every success to all its participants.

Question: Last week, the preliminary results of an investigation conducted by Justice Department special counsel John Durham into “Russiagate” were made public in the United States. The indictment mentioned one of the probe’s initiators. It is not the first paradoxical situation reported in the United States. American officials are overturning the US accusations against Russia.

The paradox is that the sanctions adopted against Russia have not been lifted despite the refutation. What is Moscow’s position on this score and what are its American partners saying?

Sergey Lavrov: You have answered your own question. It was unreasonable to do this before pondering the matter or investigating the situation. And it is a pity that after the situation was clarified they have not retraced their steps so as not to harm our bilateral relations. This is what American manners are all about. We have become accustomed to this. We will never ask for the sanctions to be lifted. The “limit” has been exhausted by neighbouring Ukraine, which continues making requests, unable to get its bearings of what is happening.  We are not going to act in this manner.

We do not have any other partners [in the US]. However, dialogue is gradually taking shape in some spheres, such as strategic stability and cybersecurity, which gives hope that we will bit by bit develop dialogue based on mutual respect at least in some spheres of international relations.

Question (retranslated from English): My question concerns Palestine. Many people say that Palestinian settlements are occupying too much land, that there are already half a million settlers. Do you think it’s time for the international community to settle the problem by creating one state for two peoples? Could you comment on this please?

As you are aware, WFP Executive Director David Beasley said just two days ago now that at least 50,000 Yemenis are starving and millions need humanitarian aid and food. Do you think that the international community, which includes Russia, has let the Yemeni people down by failing to put sufficient pressure on all the conflicting parties, including Saudi Arabia?

Sergey Lavrov: I would not say that the international community is not doing enough to convince the conflicting parties to sit down at the negotiating table not only to exchange accusations but also to come to some agreements.  There are a number of factors involved here, which are, regrettably, absolutely subjective and have to do with the desire of certain individuals to remain in power as long as possible, which is having a negative effect on the negotiating process and the possibility of compromise. I will not go into any details right now, but Yemen is indeed a country with the world’s largest humanitarian disaster, which was pointed out long ago, when the conflict had only just started and was in the hot phase.

We are involved through our Embassy. Our ambassador to Yemen is currently working from Riyadh, where a group of ambassadors are acting together to support the process and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen. I hope that everyone will gradually come to see the futility of trying to put off the necessary agreements.

As for the [Palestinian] settlements, we have always condemned the settlement policy, saying, just as you have so rightly pointed out, that this would create facts on the ground that will prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. I have heard about the one state solution where all people would have equal rights. I believe that this is unrealistic. Many academics say that this, if this should happen, will undermine the Jewish nature of the State of Israel. But if equal rights are not granted to everyone in Israel, it might become an apartheid state.

I am quite sure that the two-state solution is the only option. I would just like to point out that many people in the Israeli political elite share this same view and believe that this option must be promoted more actively.

Imposing Human Rights conditions on Afghan Government.

September 15, 2021

Imposing Human Rights conditions on Afghan Government.

By Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

The US is exerting pressure on the Afghan Government for respecting human rights. Also, the US is lobbying with its allies to exert pressure on Afghanistan and should not recognize their legitimacy unless they meet few demands, among which is Human rights at the top of the list.

What the US was doing in Afghanistan for twenty years? Was it in respect of Human rights? Bombing Marriage parties, funeral ceremonies, Mosques, Shrines, Schools, Hospitals, was respecting Human rights? Dropping Mother of all bombs, extensive use of force, weapons, and ammunition was it the respect of Human rights? Use of dirty tricks, and high-tech weapons and technologies, was in respect to Human rights? The US was maintaining several jails in Afghanistan, was it in respect of Human Rights? Keeping many detention centers, was it in respect of Human rights? Creation of so many torture cells, was it the rest of Human rights? So many investigation centers, was am to protect human rights? The US involved 46 countries to attack Afghanistan was it human rights exercise? Additional 11 countries also supported in war against Afghanistan, was it aimed to protect human rights? Keeping 150,000 troops in Afghanistan (peek time), was it respecting human rights? Killing innocent citizens, children, civilians, women, elder people, was part of the American Human Rights adventure? Use of drones and killing Taxi driver along with his two young children, was it also the respect of Human right? Excessive use of powers, draconian laws, and extrajudicial killings, was part of US policy of Human Rights? How many women were raped, insulted, humiliated, is this American rest to Human rights? Child abuse was a common phenomenon, is this the American way of resting human rights? Shame! Shame! Shame!

The US has no moral authority to talk about Human Rights and put extraordinary conditions on the Afghan Government and irrational excuses to coerce Afghans. The entire world knows, what happened in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and in many other countries, the American role is very much obvious and known to everyone. The US is a partner in extreme violations of Human rights in Palestine and Kashmir. The US is extending extraordinary support to Israel and India, which are notorious for Human rights violations. Yet, if the US is talking about human rights, is beyond our imaginations. A country, who is committing the worst human rights violations, is talking about Human rights, is not matching its actions and words. Even, inside America, what so ever is happening with minorities, immigrants, and black people, is well-known to everyone.

American human rights violations and war crimes in Afghanistan must be trial and fix responsibilities on all individuals involved. Punish them according to respective law according to the degree of crime and level of involvement.

However, in Afghanistan, life is rapidly restoring toward normalcy. 20 years of American illegitimate occupation has ended and the Taliban are restoring peace, stability, and law & order situation, which is improving gradually. Now people feel safer and secure. Government offices are functioning properly. Women are working with full confidence as usual. Girls are getting an education in a routine matter. Taliban government has ensured the safety of all its citizens. People of Afghanistan are happy and have welcomed the Taliban.

Taliban are real representatives of Afghanistan and very much loyal and sincere with their country and enjoy public support and trust. Unlike President Noor Muhamad Turkey, President Hafizullah Amin, President Babrak Karmal, and President Dr. Najeeb, who were traitors and planted by the USSR, and were working on foreign agenda, the Taliban are keeping the Afghan interest at the top. Unlike President Hamid Karzai, and President Ashraf Ghani, who were CIA agents, and puppets, and installed by the US. Both of them were implementing and serving their masters. Taliban are Afghans and serving Afghans only.

If the US demands to include such traitors, it may not be possible, as it is illogical to bring traitors and foreign agents back. Taliban fought for twenty years for freedom and finally defeated the US. Taliban has sacrificed many precious lives, close relatives, suffered jails, tortures, and exiles, and now after victory, they have the right to form their own government. It is their legal and legitimate right, the world must accept this fact and realize it, the sooner the better.

Taliban are true Afghans, they understand their culture, traditions, and tribal society, and they will form a system of government, which suits Afghanistan. There is no need for any dictation from the outside world. Let Afghans lead their country and manage their affairs in the best possible manner, which suits them. Outside interference needs to reach an end. The status of human rights in Afghanistan under Taliban rule is much better than in the last twenty years of American occupation. People feel relaxed and thank the Taliban for providing them dignity, safety, respect, and protection. Under American occupation, no one was sure that if he or she leaves home, and come back safe. Any time anywhere anything can happen, as the US troops were wild and treating Afghans just like sheep and goats, mistreating them, insulting and humiliating them. Especially, the women can be raped, tortured, humiliated by troops. How many young Afghan girls were smuggled and trafficked to America and Europe to work in the sex industry? Can Americans justify it as human rights? Taliban has provided respect and protection to women. Majority of women are very happy with Taliban rule. Exceptions must be there, we may not deny exceptional cases, but vast majority of women are happy and satisfied.

Taliban were freedom fighters and won the long war of twenty years against a superpower and they are competent and equipped with all modern knowledge. They understand how to manage a country and how to run a country. Of course, they are facing huge challenges, but these challenges are created artificially by the US and its allies. Like freezing Afghan assets, using IMF, World Bank, International Financial Institutions, and donors, to coerce Afghans.

The US has planned something else, but what happens is the opposite. The US evacuated its troops from Afghanistan in a haphazard manner to create a vacuum, leading toward civil war. The US deployed around twenty thousand private defense contractors to create unrest and civil war in Afghanistan. The US shifted ISIS-K to Afghanistan, equipped them, funded them, and provided those training, to create unrest and civil war in Afghanistan. But on the ground Taliban has managed very well and avoided any civil war or unrest on the ground. The US is desperate, taking measures to destabilize the new government in Afghanistan.

The US is using various tricks to destabilize Afghanistan, it includes economic measures, human rights excuses, women’s rights, etc. to create unrest. The US is pursuing allies and other countries to exert pressure on Afghanistan to achieve its ill-designs. Pakistan is facing such pressure from the US. Unfortunate!

However, the Taliban performed very well on grounds, and the world has seen and witnessed that the Taliban are capable and honest, kind, gentle, competent. Taliban got international recognition already. The Qatar deputy foreign Minister has already paid an official visit. Many other countries are ready to establish good relations with the new Government as soon as they announce formally.

The Whole region suffered a lot due to the American invasion of Afghanistan for twenty years, and cannot afford any further unrest. All the regional countries with a stable, safe, and prosperous Afghanistan. If few countries like America, want to spoil it, may not succeed.

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).

Why’s The EU’s Infowar Outlet Implying A Conspiracy About US Policy Towards The Taliban?

14 SEPTEMBER 2021

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Why

American officials should investigate what’s really going on with this infowar outlet, even if they do so discretely considering how sensitive this provocation is.

The EU is generally regarded as subservient to America’s grand strategic interests, but one of its infowar outlets just surprisingly implied a conspiracy about US policy towards the Taliban by hinting that it might be influenced by a Russian “conspiracy narrative”, as incredulous as this innuendo sounds. “EU vs. Disinfo”, the self-described “flagship project of the European External Action Service’s East Stratcom Task Force” (the EEAS being the self-described “EU’s diplomatic service”) that functions as one of the bloc’s top infowar instruments against Russia, already had its claim about last summer’s Belarus-Wagner provocation debunked by CNN just last week.

It’s now further worsening its already fraught credibility through its recent article about “9/11 And Russia’s Descend From Dialogue To Feeding Conspiracy Narratives”. The unnamed writer began their piece by informing readers that “A closer look at how disinformation found its way into Russian state-owned and pro-Kremlin media illustrate the instrumentalisation of conspiracy theories.” The portion of pertinence to this analysis is that article’s final section titled “2021: The Next Phase – Down With US, Moderate Taliban” where the anonymous author pushes forth what can objectively be described as a genuine conspiracy theory.

They very strongly implied that the description of “the Taliban as moderate, sensible and pragmatic” is part of the earlier speculated “instrumentalisation of conspiracy theories” by the Kremlin, yet this innuendo directly contradicts the US’ policy towards that group. This very strongly suggests that one of Russia’s alleged “conspiracy narratives” is successfully influencing America’s stance towards the Taliban. After all, US officials including President Joe Biden, Chair of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff Mark Milley, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have publicly articulated policies which imply that the group is “moderate, sensible and pragmatic”.

The American leader explained on 26 August after ISIS-K‘s Kabul Airport terrorist attack that his country was cooperating with the Taliban during the ongoing withdrawal from the country at that time not because they trust one another but due to the group’s “self-interest”. This is the very definition of pragmatism, especially since he acknowledged going as far as having his government give the names of fleeing Americans and others to Taliban members in order to help them pass through the group’s checkpoints en route to the airport. Quite obviously, the Commander in Chief regards the Taliban as “moderate, sensible and pragmatic”.

His top military leader is no different. General Milley said on 1 September that “It’s possible” that the Pentagon might cooperate with the Taliban against ISIS-K. It’s difficult to imagine that he’d ever publicly countenance doing this if he didn’t share President Biden’s implied assessment of the group as “moderate, sensible and pragmatic”. Secretary of State Blinken, meanwhile, confirmed on 3 September that “We continue to maintain channels of communication with the Taliban, on issues that are important.” The only reason why he’d do such a thing is if he also regards the Taliban as “moderate, sensible and pragmatic” enough to talk with the US.

There have been no credible claims that any of these three leading officials have been exposed to so-called Russian “conspiracy narratives” or “disinformation”, let alone are operating under their influence, yet that’s what “EU vs. Disinfo” wants those in its audience who are aware of the US’ policy towards the Taliban to think. There’s no other sensible reason why they’d describe any assessment of the Taliban as “moderate, sensible and pragmatic” as allegedly being the result of Russian “conspiracy narratives” and “disinformation” unless their taxpayer-funded writers were simply unaware of US policy and thus just made a major narrative blunder.

The EEAS should be publicly challenged to account for this infowar product which arguably implies the genuinely false narrative that was exposed in this analysis. American officials should also investigate what’s really going on with this infowar outlet, even if they do so discretely considering how sensitive this provocation is. It’s either a clever attack against their country’s political, military, and diplomatic leaderships by a supposed ally or an example of gross professional incompetence which should result in the writer and their supervisor being held accountable for insinuating that US policy as supposedly being influenced by Russia.

Taliban danger

SEPTEMBER 12, 2021

Taliban danger

by Batko Milacic for the Saker Blog

During the 20 years of Afghan occupation, which was initially quick and successful, the Americans and their allies failed to give Afghanistan anything. The impression is that successive US administrations initially had no strategy to pacify the country. After the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, the country’s secular regime, abandoned by the Russians, held out for three years and collapsed only after being completely deprived of all assistance from Moscow. The allied international forces were still in the country when the government of President Ghani, which they controlled, left the capital at the mercy of the Taliban. Why?!

When Russians were in Afganistan, they not only fought, but taught the Afghans, sending one of them into space and building hospitals, roads and factories. Therefore, the Afghans, who fought on the side of the country’s last truly secular government, knew what they were fighting for.

What did the soldiers of the current Afghan army, let alone ordinary Afghans, have to die for? For the president who stole so much money that it didn’t fit into his plane? For kickbacks from US arms manufacturers who supplied Afghanistan with the equipment, all of which was inherited by the Taliban? Maybe for freedom and universal human values, which had allegedly been promoted for 20 years by numerous NGOs that squandered the money of American and European taxpayers?!

Ordinary Afghan people lives by the same rules as their distant ancestors; they don`t understand the advantages of Western culture. Two decades of US rule have cost Afghans nearly a million lives. They faced killings of civilians “by mistake,” cleansing of villages, forced prostitution and humiliation. And a small sliver of “Europeanized Afghans,” supporters of women’s rights, religious tolerance and freedom, are just as alien to ordinary Afghans as are the arrogant US military. Therefore, some Afghans greet the Taliban as liberators, while others have learned to tolerate them and believe that life will not get any worse than it is now!

However, there are still others, who have no other choice than to fight! These are representatives of ethnic minorities. Nine percent of the country’s population are ethnic Uzbeks, and 27 percent – Tajiks. Pashtuns make up 42 percent of the Afghan population and they are the main source of the support for the Taliban`s. The Pashtuns are backed by neighboring Pakistan, and provide most of the volunteers for the militants. As for the Tajiks and Uzbeks, they were the main pillars of the secular state. Their leaders, Ahmad Shah Massoud, Sr. and Marshal Dostum, fought the Taliban throughout the initial period of their rule. They are less religious and not all of them are willing to spend the rest of their lives living according to strict Sharia law. Fully aware of this, the Taliban were all set not to repeat the mistakes they made in 1996-2001. The ethnic minorities must not only submit; they must be deprived of any chance to rebel. Given the fact that the country’s new rulers are divided into several groups, this goal was even easier to achieve. For example, the Haqqani Network, which is even more radical than the Taliban themselves (impossible as it may seem), and has in its ranks a large number of Arabic-speaking immigrants from ISIS and al-Qaeda, has sent out its militants to Panjshir and other northern provinces, while the Taliban still pretended to negotiate with them.

Panjshir is a small mountain valley in the north of the country, which has never really submitted to any conqueror. The passes leading to it are easy to block, and the terrain of the province itself is very conducive to guerrilla warfare. At the same time, routes go through the province to China and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, making it an important logistics hub. In addition, the sparsely populated valley (around 100,000 inhabitants) is rich in minerals, including emeralds, which actually allowed Massoud Sr. to hold out there for five years. This is why the Taliban are so eager to nip the local resistance in the bud. The only reason they needed negotiations was to improve their image in the world. In Washington, they have already been recognized as a “different” Taliban, not those who are responsible for the attacks on and killings of civilians. Well, you demonstrate to the outside world your flexibility and readiness for dialogue, and, who knows, maybe one day they will also give you diplomatic recognition! Naturally enough, Ahmad Massoud Jr. and Amrullah Saleh (also an ethnic Tajik), who had declared himself the legitimate head of Afghanistan, had no desire to leave the autonomy, give up their ability to maintain self-defense units and exercise real control over part of the government. Meanwhile, the “Haqqani Network” has already put the defense capability of the “lion cub of Panjshir” to the test.

The rest we know from news reports. After the Taliban and their allies suffered their first setbacks, drones suddenly appeared in the air, flown by Pakistani operators. According to numerous reports, Pakistani special OPs helped the Taliban break into the valley, resulting in videos from its center and from the mausoleum of Ahmad Shah Massoud being posted online on the morning of September 6. The “Lion” announced the continuation of the resistance and went into the mountains. Fearing for their life (and with good reason too) most of the local civilian population left with him. Well, the pro-Soviet forces in Afghanistan once also controlled the valley, while Massoud Sr. fought and eventually defeated them in the surrounding mountains. There is a big difference though. The best anti-guerrilla tactic is to deprive the militants of any support – in other words, “scorched earth” or genocide. With Panjshir completely cut off from the outside world, the Taliban simultaneously solve two problems – they will get rid of the disloyal population by killing them or squeezing them out to Tajikistan, and reward their supporters by handing them the houses and property left behind by the escaped local residents, thereby ensuring their loyalty and creating a formidable base against Massoud’s supporters. All of this comes as very good news for Pakistan, which has given the Taliban full control over the country and received access to the resources of the potentially very rich Panjshir.

Massoud Jr., who represents Afghanistan’s eight million Tajiks, will apparently be forced to fight to the bitter end. However, it looks like he will not be getting any outside help now that the White House has apparently decided to leave the region completely and has clinched some kind of secret deals with the Taliban or their patrons from the neighboring countries. How else to explain the position of Dushanbe? The Tajik authorities obviously ignore the situation, refusing to support their fellow country folk. Have the Americans allegedly guaranteed the Central Asian republic security against the Taliban if Dushanbe does not interfere in the process of Afghan unification? But how can one believe an old fox telling the sheep that the wolf will not touch them? All the more so, if the wolves have just bitten the red-haired deceiver?

A much similar situation has developed in Uzbekistan – the country that Marshal Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek and a graduate of Soviet military schools, who is considered a man of great courage, has fled to. However, this brave man with all his associates, including loyal fighters, has crossed the Uzbek border and disappeared. Unusual behavior for a combat-hardened general who fought for 35 years and never accepted Islamists. What was he promised? Security for the Uzbek minority? Or was he simply bought out? Or blackmailed? In any case, the last hero of all wars disappeared from the media radar without firing a single shot.

The information vacuum will allow the Taliban to quickly take control of the whole country. The world media will not write about the millions of victims of ethnic and religious cleansing simply because it will know nothing about that. If the “young lion of Panjshir” and Saleh do not receive real support in the coming days, they are doomed, along with their compatriots. Back in 1975, the world was blissfully unaware of the insane atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge, who killed a third of their own population, simply because there was no one to write about this in a country shuttered from the outside world. In 2021, they will also try to hide the death of several million people, if only this is what Washington wants. And the White House does want a dialogue with the Taliban, forgetting about the victims of September 11, forgetting about the terrorist attacks across Europe and the hundreds of young men and women who died for “democracy” in Afghanistan. But what will the Taliban do after they crack down on Afghan minorities? Will it be peaceful construction? No, because radical Islam presupposes an eternal struggle against infidels in the name of a global caliphate and constant expansion. Its supporters have no need for music, literature, cinema – all these wonderful things created by mankind. They go to God through blood and violence, and they will go beyond their immediate neighbors. With a solid base and money from the sale of resources to China and Pakistan, the new Afghan authorities will become a unifying center for all like-minded Islamists – the holdovers from al-Qaeda and ISIS. As for the Taliban’s promise to get rid of the sprawling drug industry, which, during the 20 years of US occupation spiked from 120 tons a year to a whopping 10,000 tons, it is hardly credible. Indeed, why destroy what can be sold to infidels with profit and then be spent on a “holy war” bombing peaceful American and European cities. This is exactly what the Western world will get if it fails to figure out (and fast!) how to check the triumphant advance of terrorism from Afghanistan. True, judging by its escape from Kabul, the world policeman now urgently needs to talk this over with Moscow and Beijing. Otherwise, a new 9/11 may not be too far off.

9/11: A U.S. Deep State Insider Speaks …

September 11, 2021

9/11: A U.S. Deep State Insider Speaks …

An 8 part tweet stream by Pepe Escobar and posted with his permission

Pepe has two requests as follows:

  • Please retweet as much as possible
  • Please alert the Saker community – because at least parts of this thread may be “disappeared”, post-Allende-style, in no time. These are the parts that totally destroy the official narrative.

9/11: A U.S. DEEP STATE INSIDER SPEAKS Old school. Top clearance. Extremely discreet. Attended secret Deep State meetings on 9-11. Tired of all the lies. The following is what’s fit to print without being redacted.

Part 1 THE PHONE CALL. Up next.

“An emergency phone conference was held in the early afternoon of 9/11 based on the fact that WTC Building Number Seven was still standing. Demolitions were engineered to cause the building, as well as the others, to fall into its own footprint. I attended this call.”

Part 2 On WTC7: “No plane hit Building Number Seven.” “The CIA was brought to cover it up. The CIA set up failed asset bin Laden to blame as misdirection, then pulled the plug on Building Number Seven.” “The CIA doctored boarding tapes to show Arabs entering the planes.”

Part 3 On Mullah Omar: “Our CIA Arabists knew that if we blamed Osama, who was innocent of 9-11, Mullah Omar would not give him up in violation of the laws of Islamic hospitality. Mullah Omar requested evidence: then he would turn Osama over. Of course, we did not want that.”

Part 4 On heroin: “The Afghanistan heroin war was justified by 9-11. No one in Afghanistan was involved in 9/11. No member of Islam was involved. We invaded Afghanistan for only one purpose, which was to restart heroin production shut down by a righteous act of Mullah Omar.”

Part 5 On CIA and heroin: “CIA heroin plantations in Afghanistan funded external, clandestine operations and lined some important people’s pockets. That was common practice when the CIA ran the heroin operation in the Golden Triangle.”

Part 6 On MOTIVE: “It was never in the U.S. strategic interest to lay a curse on Islam in the West.” “9-11 was a kind of Gulf of Tonkin false flag operation justifying a war on Islam and the invasion of Iraq, followed by other invasions of Islamic nations.”

Part 7 Afghanistan-Iraq: “The Taliban loved us as they did not know that we lured Russia into Afghanistan. It was idiotic to think that they wanted to hurt their ally on 9-11.” “With Iraq invaded over a new falsity, the neocons created a war of hatred against Islam.”

Part 8 Who’s in charge: “The apex of the U.S. command structure is not the presidency. It’s the Deep State. I use that term even though we did not as it is commonly used.”

Pakistan will face consequences of its actions in Afghanistan, warns ex-Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

September 11, 2021

Pakistan will face consequences of its actions in Afghanistan, warns ex-Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

https://www.wionews.com/world/exclusive-pakistan-will-face-consequences-of-its-actions-in-afghanistan-warns-ex-iran-president-mahmoud-ahmadinejad-411375

Story highlights

Speaking to WION’s Executive Editor Palki Sharma, Ahmadinejad stressed that the handing over of power to Taliban is part of a ‘satanic plot’ by the western powers led by the US. India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, China and regional countries will face the consequences of the re-emergence of Taliban, he said on WION’s Afghanistan Dialogues programme. He urged Pakistan to join efforts by Iran and India to resolve the crisis.

Amid reports that Pakistan had helped the Taliban quell the resistance in Panjshir, Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Islamabad that it will be haunted by its actions in near future in which he foresaw the militant group threatening Pakistani government and sovereignty.

Speaking to WION’s Executive Editor Palki Sharma, Ahmadinejad also stressed that the handing over of power to Taliban is part of a ‘satanic plot’ by the western powers led by the US.

Deer Show | How US returns Afghanistan to Taliban in 20 years’ efforts?

September 11, 2021

Deer Show | How US returns Afghanistan to Taliban in 20 years’ efforts?

When you feel life is going nowhere, just think: with 4 U.S.

presidents 20 years 2 trillion dollars 2,300 soldiers’ lives… the regime of Afghanistan changes from Taliban to… Taliban

%d bloggers like this: