Hundreds Protest outside Israeli Embassy in London against Ethnic Cleansing in Jerusalem (VIDEO & PHOTOS)

January 22, 2022

Hundreds protest outside the Israeli embassy in London against the ongoing ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem. (Photo: FoA, Supplied)

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in London, calling on Israel to end its ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

The protest was organized by UK-based NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa (FoA), along with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Stop the War, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and others.

Placards on the protest read, “Freedom for Palestine,” “Save Sheikh Jarrah,” and, “Sanctions for Israel.”

Speakers called for imposing sanctions on Israel and Western imperialist support for the Israeli military occupation. They also pointed to the solidarity from trade unions and workers in the fight for a free Palestine.

“Every single day since 1948, Palestinians have faced ethnic cleansing, most recently in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and al-Naqab,” Ismail Patel, Chair of FoA, stated in a press release, a copy of which was received by The Palestine Chronicle, adding:

“Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes to make way for Israeli settlements violates international law, but all we get from our elected leaders are empty statements. FOA’s #SaveJerusalem campaign calls for immediate action: we demand that the British Government place sanctions on Israel until it complies with international law and stops ethnically cleansing the Palestinian people”.

Tens of Palestinian refugee families in different parts of Sheikh Jarrah alone – over 200 persons, many of whom are children – currently face an imminent threat of eviction by the Israeli authorities in East Jerusalem.

(Photos: Friends of Al-Aqsa, Supplied)

(The Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

Former British MP Corbyn: Arms sales to Saudi Arabia must end now

Jan 22 2022

Net Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen Net 

After the Saudi-led coalition launched raids on Yemen, in a continuous act of terrorism and genocide, former British MP Jeremy Corbyn condemned the attacks and called on officials to “stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia.”

British MP Jeremy Corbyn stands in solidarity with Yemen against the Saudi-led coalition.

“Airstrikes in Yemen last night killed more than 60 victims and caused a nationwide internet blackout.

The UK government is complicit in these crimes through arming and training the Saudi-led war on Yemen. Arms sales to Saudi Arabia must end now.”

These were the words of former British MP Jeremy Corbyn in a tweet as he stood in solidarity with Yemen against the Saudi-led coalition’s murderous acts in the war-torn country. 

Earlier, Corbyn stood in solidarity with Yemen against the British government and called on Boris Johnson to “stop arming Saudi Arabia.”

Read more: US Arms in Saudi’s Pool of Blood: The Yemeni Massacre

Corbyn would stop arms sales to Saudi

Two years back, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the United Kingdom’s main opposition Labor Party, has stated that if his party wins the country’s upcoming election, he will stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia for use in war-torn Yemen.

“Labour will stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen and work to end the war there, not actively support it as the Conservative government has done,” Corbyn said in a speech setting out his party’s foreign policy objectives before the December 12 polls.

UN condemns Saudi-led coalition attack

On Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned airstrikes in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition.

According to Guterres’ Spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, additional deadly airstrikes in Yemen have been reported, with children among those killed.

“An airstrike on telecommunications facilities in Al-Hudaydah has also significantly disrupted vital internet services across much of the country,” Dujarric said in a statement. “The Secretary-General calls for prompt, effective and transparent investigations into these incidents to ensure accountability.”

Internet blackout across Yemen

Al Mayadeen‘s correspondent reported yesterday that Yemen is suffering from a nationwide internet blackout as a result of the Saudi-led coalition targeting the telecommunications tower in Al-Hudaydah two nights ago.

NetBlocks, which monitors internet networks, showed the blackout began at around 1 am.

Cloudflare, based in San Francisco, has also shown that Yemen is experiencing a blackout.

Yemen’s Al Masirah TV said the airstrike on the telecom building led to civilian casualties and showed footage of people digging through the rubble looking for victims.

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Michael Pogrebinskii about the likelihood of the Poroshenko Arrest

JANUARY 18, 2022

Michael Pogrebinskii about the likelihood of the Poroshenko Arrest: The brainless Kievan Authorities have given Poroshenko a nice PR stunt opportunity.

translated for the Saker Blog by O.

Earlier the ex-president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has posted on his facebook page that he is planning to return to Ukraine from abroad in order to stand before the court. Political Analyst Michael Pogrebinskii thinks that the authorities are driven by political motivations.

Also according to the state department decision, Poroshenko should be arrested the moment he crosses the border to Ukraine. But will this happen?

Regarding the situation, famous Ukrainian political analyst, Michael Pogrebinskii has expressed his opinion.

Michael Borisovich, it is reported that Poroshenko plans to return to Ukraine on January 17. What are his motives? What steps are to be expected from Ukrainian Government, in regards to Poroshenko’s return?

It is obvious that Poroshenko understands that if he does not return – he will be thrown out of politics and will be unable to protect himself. In addition, the charges brought against him are fake. In principle it is easy to win this process regarding the charges of treason. I think Poroshenko is counting on that. However, there are lots of different proceedings that he is unable to win. He is being accused with the same charges that Medvenchuk is being accused of. Right now some of Poroshenko’s activists are arrested, and he needs to find a way to protect himself.

Regardless the amount that Poroshenko stole and moved abroad is enough even for his grandchildren. However the main motive is that he does not want to be thrown out of politics. For this reason he is coming back, and not to Kiev, but to Lvov, where it is easier and cheaper to mobilize his support base.

As to how the government will react, it difficult to say, however I strongly believe that the authorities are unlikely to use force, and arrest him as promised. If lots of people are mobilized, for the government it will be very difficult to detain Poroshenko. If authorities are unable to arrest Poroshenko, then Proshenko will win this round.

Can one say that the Ukrainian government itself has provided him with Public Relations stunt?

Entirely possible, considering our government’s t lack of brains.

source: https://ukraina.ru/interview/20220112/1033054562.html

«ثورة» كازاخستان: خطر تمّ احتواؤه حتى الآن… ولكن؟!

2022 الثلاثاء 11كانون ثاني

 العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط*

عندما اشتدّت حدة التوتر بين روسيا وأوكرانيا حتى بلغت حدّ التكهّن بقرب إطلاق روسيا عملاً عسكرياً واسعاً داخل تلك الدولة التي ترشح نفسها للانضمام الى حلف الناتو لتضع الحلف ملاصقاً لروسيا عند حدودها الغربية، عندها صرّح بايدن أنّ أميركا لن تكون على استعداد للتدخل العسكري ضدّ روسيا في أوكرانيا، لكنها ستتخذ من التدابير بحقها ما يجعلها تتألم او تندم اذا نفذت تهديدها بالاجتياح؛ موقف جاء بعد أشهر من قرار بايدن الانسحاب السريع من أفغانستان وإعلان أميركا عن تفاهم مع العراق يضع حداً لانتشار قواتها القتالية فيه ويحوّله الى وجود من طبيعة عسكرية استشارية ولوجستية من أجل تدريب ودعم القوات المسلحة العراقية من أمن وجيش. ترافق ذلك مع رفع درجة الاهتمام الأميركي بمسألة الصين والاتجاه الى «احتواء» خطرها المتعاظم ضدّ أميركا، اهتمام أطلق عليه وصف «الانزياح الأميركي نحو الشرق الأقصى».

هذه المواقف وغيرها مما هو معلن أميركياً بشأن اليمن والسعودية وغيرهما حملت البعض على القول بأنّ أميركا بصدد اعتماد استراتيجية جديدة تنسحب بموجبها من الشرق الأوسط لتتفرّغ للشرق الأقصى بعد فشلها في الحرب الكونية التي استهدفت بها سورية وكامل محور المقاومة، قول لم يتقبّله فريق آخر من الباحثين ونحن منهم، حيث كان من الصعوبة بمكان القبول الآن بفكرة تخلي أميركا عن الشرق الأوسط ذي الأهمية الاستراتيجية التي تفرض على من يتطلع الى الإمساك بقرار العالم أو التأثير فيه أن يكون ممسكاً بقرار هذه المنطقة أو له موقع مؤثر فيها، وأنّ أميركا لا تزال ورغم النكسات والفشل في أكثر من جبهة وميدان، لا تزال تطرح نفسها قائدة للعالم، وأنها لا تزال ترفض فكرة النظام العالمي الجديد القائم واقعياً على تعدّد الأقطاب والتنوّع في المجموعات الاستراتيجية التي تشكلت وتتشكل في سياقه.

ربطاً بما تقدّم من وقائع ومفاهيم وتناقضات في السلوكيات الأميركية حيال المنطقة التي تسمّيها أميركا وفقاً لتقسيمات انتشار جيوشها وأساطيلها في العالم تسمّيها «المنطقة الوسطى» كان لا بدّ من أن تكون أميركا تخفي شيئاً كبيراً يمكنها من البقاء الفاعل في آسيا الوسطى وغربي آسيا، وجوداً تواجه به أعداءها الأساسيين الأخطر على سياستها في العالم والمتمثلين بشكل أساسي بثلاثي الصين وروسيا وإيران.

ولهذا فإنه عندما انفجرت أعمال الاحتجاج في شوارع مدن كازاخستان الرئيسية بهذا الشكل، احتجاجات انقلبت بسرعة هائلة الى أعمال عنف دمويّة أوْدت خلال ٤٨ ساعة بحياة ١٦٤ مواطناً كازاخياً، كان لا بدّ من البحث عن يد خفية أعدّت وحرّكت هذه الأعمال بمثل هذا التأثير والشدة، وكان أيضاً من المُلحّ أن تدرس الظاهرة من قبل المعنيين من الدول المهدّدة بهذه الأعمال، أو التي يمكن أن تتأثر بتداعياتها.

فكازاخستان دولة ذات أهمية استراتيجية قصوى في آسيا الوسطى، أهمية تستمدّ من موقعها الجغرافي وثرواتها الطبيعية وتأثيرها الفاعل على المستهدفين الأساسيين الثلاثة بالسياسة الأميركية باعتبارها منطقة الوسط بينهم (الصين وروسيا وإيران). فهي تتشارك مع روسيا بحدود هي الأطول بين دولتين في العالم (٧٠٠٠ كلم)، وتتصل بالصين من الشرق بما يجعلها الممرّ الإجباري لطريق الحرير الجديد المعبّر عنه بمشروع «الحزام والطريق» الواعد، وهي تقع شمالي إيران التي يعنيها أكثر من أمر من أمورها المشتركة مع كازاخستان ديمغرافياً وانتماء وعقيدة وأمناً.

وكان من المنطقيّ أن يكون البحث عن اليد الأميركية في أحداث كازاخستان التي سرعان ما أسميت في الإعلام الغربي «الثورة»، وربطت بالثورات الملوّنة التي اعتمدتها أميركا لقلب أنظمة الحكم في أكثر من دولة في العالم ووضع اليد عليها والإمساك بقرارها، وبالفعل تبيّن بعد بعض من بحث وتمحيص انّ أحداث كازاخستان كان بدأ الإعداد لها منذ العام ٢٠١٩ بقيادة أميركية ومشاركة بريطانية وتمويل سعودي ودور تركي.

ومهمّ أن نتوقف عند العام ٢٠١٩ أيّ مباشرة بعد أن تأكد لهؤلاء فشل الحرب الكونية على سورية ومحور المقاومة ونجاح روسيا في التقدّم لإشغال موقعها في الصف الأول دولياً وتأكد نجاح الصين في التعامل مع التدابير الأميركية ضدّها واحتواءها كما ينبغي.

ولهذا أدركت روسيا حجم الخطر المتشكّل عند حدودها الجنوبية، والذي شرعت أبوابه عليها من كازاخستان وهي ما برحت تعالج المسألة الأوكرانية وتداعياتها، لذلك كان عليها وبدون تردّد او إبطاء أن تسارع إلى عمل دفاعيّ جوهري وفقاً لما تتيحه لها «معاهدة الأمن الجماعيّ» التي ينتظم فيها الى جانبها كلّ من كازاخستان، وتركمانستان، وقيرغيزستان، وطاجيكستان، وأوزبكستان، والتي تتيح للأعضاء في هذه المنظومة تبادل المساعدة العسكريّة للحفاظ على الأمن والسيادة على أراضيها، فوجهت قوة عسكرية قتاليّة يناهز عديدها الـ ٢٠ ألف جندي وضابط انتشروا في مدن كازاخستان الرئيسيّة لحماية البنى والمقار الرسمية والعامة ولقطع الطريق على الفوضى التي خطط لها لإسقاط النظام ونقل البلاد إلى الضفة المعاكسة وإقامة حكومة تديرها أميركا وبريطانيا.

لقد أنقذت روسيا بتدخلها العسكري السريع والمشروع في كازاخستان، أنقذت نفسها وحلفاءها ومنطقة آسيا الوسطى من مشروع فوضى وعدم استقرار وأخطار لا تُحصى وأجهضت خطة غربية خبيثة كان من المقدّر لها لو نجحت ان تعوّض خسائر الغرب في العقد الأخير في ميادين وساحات الشرق الوسط وآسيا الوسطى، وأن تحجب التقدّم الروسي على الصعيد الدولي، وتشغل روسيا عن الخطر الأوكراني، وان تقطع الطريق على الصين في خطة «الحزام والطريق»، وان تجبر إيران على الاهتمام شمالاً وتخصيص جهد لا بأس به لاتقاء الخطر من الجمهوريات الإسلامية التي تتغلغل فيها اليد الصهيوأميركية وذلك على حساب ملفات أساسية استراتيجية تهتمّ بها عادة.

لقد قطعت الطريق حتى على مشروع كارثي في أوراسيا وآسيا الوسطى وصولاً الى غربي آسيا، ومع ذلك فإنّ الموضوع لم ينته بعد والخطر لم يستبعد كلياً طالما انّ هناك جمراً وناراً يمكن ان تنبعث في الشوارع الكازاخية رغم انّ الدولة ومع المساعدة الروسية أمسكت بزمام الأمور وسيطرت على الوضع، لكن التجارب تعلّمنا انّ أميركا من طباعها الاستمرار في المحاولة وطالما انها تلعب بدماء الغير وأمنه وماله دون ان تمسّ هي بجندها ومالها فإنها لا تتوقف عن العدوان والعبث بأمور الغير، من هنا تبدو أهمية بلورة موقف دولي إقليمي متماسك يكون الى جانب كازاخستان ليدافع عنها تكون نواته منظمة معاهدة الأمن الجماعي ويستفيد من قدرات دولية أخرى خاصة الصين وإيران.

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*أستاذ جامعي ـ باحث استراتيجي.

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بوتين ينتقل الى الهجوم الاستراتيجي الوقائي

الاثنين 10 يناير 2022

 ناصر قنديل

في مطلع القرن الواحد والعشرين تقدّم الأميركيون في الجوار الروسي بما هو أبعد من مجرد ضمّ دول أوروبا الشرقية إلى الاتحاد الأوروبي، فكان التزامن بين وصول فلاديمير بوتين الى الرئاسة الروسية وبدء الهجوم الأميركي الأوروبي بالثورات الملوّنة وبالقضم الأمني والعسكري لدول الجوار الروسي، من أوكرانيا الى جورجيا ولتوانيا وصولاً الى دول البلطيق، والتلويح بضمّ دول هذا الجوار الى حلف الناتو الذي تقوم عقيدته العسكرية على اعتبار روسيا العدو الأول، وفي كلّ هذه المرحلة الممتدة حتى عام 2015 سنة التموضع الروسي في سورية، كان موقف موسكو السعي لاحتواء الهجوم الأميركي والغربي، والتركيز على بناء القدرات الاقتصادية والعسكرية لروسيا.

شكل العام 2015 محطة فاصلة في كيفية تعامل روسيا مع الهجوم الأميركي والغربي المستمرّ منذ سقوط جدار برلين وتفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي، فكان قرار الرئيس بوتين بالدخول طرفاً مباشراً في مواجهة الحرب المفتوحة على سورية بقيادة أميركية معلنة، تعبيراً عن قرارة متعددة الأبعاد، أولها القناعة بخطورة المدى الذي بلغه التغوّل الأميركي وخطورة الإنكفاء أمامه، وقد كشف تحالفه المعلن مع الإرهاب من جهة، وحجم تحدّيه للأمن القومي الروسي من جهة موازية، وفي المقابل بعدما ظهر في سورية أنّ مفهوم الدولة الوطنية كمشروع مناهض للمشروع الأميركي هو استثمار قادر على الإنجاز، وأنّ منطقة غرب آسيا التي اختارها الأميركي لإحكام الطوق على روسيا وإيران عبر اللعب على وتر الإسلام السياسي الذي مثلته تركيا بمشروع العثمانية الجديدة، تستطيع ان تكون مقبرة هذا المشروع بتشعّباته التركية والمتطرفة ومن خلفهما الأميركي خصوصاً والغربي عموماً.

عندما تمّ تحريك أوكرانيا بوجه روسيا في قلب الحرب السورية كانت رؤية موسكو واضحة، وقرارها حازماً، بأن لا تراجع مهما كان الثمن، والروس قد قرأوا جيداً ما كتبه زبينغيو بريجنسكي مستشار الأمن القومي الأميركي السابق في ثمانينات من القرن الماضي، وما قاله عن أوكرانيا نقطة الضعف الروسية في التاريخ والجغرافيا، ولذلك تشبّث الرئيس بوتين بقراره في المضيّ قدماً نحو التموضع في سورية وصولاً للحسم الذي بدأته معركة حلب الفاصلة، وذهب نحو قرار ضمّ شبه جزيرة القرم، وهو القرار الذي تحوّل الى أمر واقع رغم كلّ ما قيل يومها عن أنه لن يمرّ، ورغم كلّ التهديدات الغربية بالعواقب الوخيمة، وقد ثبت لموسكو انّ الكلام الغربي عن التهديدات يبقى حبراً على ورق وبعض العقوبات، ولم يحل كلّ ذلك دون السير قدماً ولو بتقطع بمشروع أنابيب السيل الشمالي لنقل الغاز الروسي الى ألمانيا.

هذه المرة عندما أثير ملف أوكرانيا بلغة التهديد لروسيا مجدداً، لم ترتبك موسكو في فهم الرسالة، فالمطروح هو تهديد موسكو بالخروج عن اتفاقات مينسك ودعم حكومة أوكرانيا لضمّ مناطق دونباس في شرق أوكرانيا بالقوة، ولم تتردّد موسكو، فلم تنف استعدادها لإجتياح أوكرانيا إذا تمّت إطاحة اتفاقات مينسك، ووضعت معادلة جديدة على الطاولة، لا ضمانات بعدم اجتياح أوكرانيا، بل مطالبة بضمانات لعدم ضمّ الغرب لأوكرانيا وسواها من دول الجوار الروسي الى حلف الناتو، وشيئاً فشيئاً لم تعد القضية أوكرانيا، بل صارت الضمانات الروسية الموثقة المطلوبة من الغرب، ودار الحوار بين الرئيسين الأميركي جو بايدن والروسي فلاديمير بوتين حول هذا الأمر، تمهيداً لحوارات قيد الانطلاق تحت هذا العنوان، تقول موسكو سلفاً إنها غير مستعدة لتقديم ايّ تنازل خلالها عن ثوابت تمثل أمنها القومي.

جاءت أحداث كازاخستان لتكشف بالمقارنة الزمنية بين الزمن الذي احتاجته القيادة الروسية لاتخاذ قرار التحرك الميداني نحو سورية، والزمن الموازي الذي احتاجته للتحرك الميداني نحو كازاخستان، من سنوات وشهور الى أيام وساعات، تحوّلاً كبيراً في توجهات القيادة الروسية لجهة الإنتقال من الدفاع الاستراتيجي الى الهجوم الاستراتيجي الوقائي، وهو غير الهجوم الاستراتيجي في المطلق، لكنه أحد أشكاله وبداياته.

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Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapons States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races

January 03, 2022


Source

The People’s Republic of China, the French Republic, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America consider the avoidance of war between Nuclear-Weapon States and the reduction of strategic risks as our foremost responsibilities.

We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons – for as long as they continue to exist – should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war. We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented.

We reaffirm the importance of addressing nuclear threats and emphasize the importance of preserving and complying with our bilateral and multilateral non-proliferation, disarmament, and arms control agreements and commitments. We remain committed to our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, including our Article VI obligation “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

We each intend to maintain and further strengthen our national measures to prevent unauthorized or unintended use of nuclear weapons. We reiterate the validity of our previous statements on de-targeting, reaffirming that none of our nuclear weapons are targeted at each other or at any other State.

We underline our desire to work with all states to create a security environment more conducive to progress on disarmament with the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all. We intend to continue seeking bilateral and multilateral diplomatic approaches to avoid military confrontations, strengthen stability and predictability, increase mutual understanding and confidence, and prevent an arms race that would benefit none and endanger all. We are resolved to pursue constructive dialogue with mutual respect and acknowledgment of each other’s security interests and concerns.

Clouds on the horizon (OPEN THREAD)

December 27, 2021

The US did not provide Russia with any answer on Friday.  By itself, this is not very surprising, the levels of infighting in the US ruling elites have made it impossible to agree on a reply on such short notice, especially during the various end of year celebrations in the West.

As for the Russians, they are fine with that, since their own deadline was mid-January.  So as of right now, nothing significant has changed, what we observe is only a lot of statements by anybody and everybody, most of these statements make little or no sense and they typically all contradict each other.  We should not get too caught up in the “he said this, she said that” thingie, as this is, quite literally, just hot air.

In terms of actions, again we see contradictory developments: some sources report that NATO is preparing for a major war while other report that the US Americans and UK personnel are preparing an emergency evacuation.

There appears to be a meeting between Putin and Biden in the making, according to same sources after the Orthodox Nativity, so sometime around or soon after January 8th.  If so, I welcome that.

Also, Stoltenberg has said that there will be a meeting between NATO and Russia on the 12th.  But then, Stoltenberg is a powerless clown whose verbal emissions mean nothing.  He was the one who totally rejected any negotiations with Russia just a week ago, and now he is offering to negotiate…

I spent the last 3 days reading opinions on the Runet, listening to talk shows and watching various officials and personalities expressing their opinion and I want to share my conclusion with you: there is absolutely overwhelming evidence that the Russians are NOT bluffing, that they really mean every word they said.  There is even a growing chorus of voices saying that it would be better for Russia if the West would simply reject all the Russian demands out of hand.  Many clearly hope that the West will try that as this would completely untie Russia’s hands (or, if you prefer, her bear claws).

Most military officials seem to believe that a full-scale war against NATO will not happen, but that some kind of conflict with the Ukraine is now inevitable.  I tend agree with them.

Many observers also seem to be really fed up.  Fed up with the constant bloodletting in the LDNR, fed up with the constant presence of western military “advisors” in the Ukraine, fed up with the grandstanding and pompous declarations by EU/NATO officials whom the Russians don’t even take seriously.  This entire topic has become a huge abscess in the mind of many Russians and an increasing number of them now want this abscess to be cut open, disinfected and healed.  “More of the same” is just not something anybody is willing to accept.

But while I am sure that the Russians are not bluffing, I am not so sure at all whether decision-makers in the West realize that.  Judging by the nonsense spewed by western officials and the AngloZionist media, I would say that no, they mostly don’t (there are a few notable exceptions like this one).

So I would say that there are definitely clouds on the horizon.

But the fact that the US and Russia seem to be preparing for some kind of summit is definitely a good sign as it shows that there is still a chance for the two sides to make some kind of deal avoiding the worst (if the US Americans only wanted to meet to issue more threats or to dismiss the Russian demands, neither side would bother with organizing a meeting).

The biggest risk now is that the US Americans will try to talk their way out and just let the clock run down without ever giving a clear answer to the Russians.  Deputy Foreign Minister Riabkov said this about that “we don’t need negotiations, we need security guarantees, and very soon”.  The Russians won’t take unilateral action unless and until they become convinced that the West is not willing to restrain itself and offer any legally biding and verifiable security guarantees.  The other side of this coin is that should the West not be willing to restrain itself and refuse to offer any legally biding a verifiable security guarantees, then the Russians will be free take unilateral action.  In other words, the Russians are saying this: look, we will get what we want, one way or another, whether we do that by means of a bilateral/multilateral negotiation or unilaterally now depends on you.  For us, either way is fine, and we will achieve our objective in any scenario.  The key message here is this: there is nothing you, the collective West or the USA, can do to prevent that outcome.

I conclude that the Russian ultimatum was really the very last effort by Russia to settle the problem diplomatically.  If this effort fails, then the West better prepare itself for a lot of unilateral Russian actions.

As they say in Russia “those who will not listen to Lavrov will have to deal with Shoigu“.  Even Lavrov himself seems to agree.

We will soon find out I suppose.

I invite you all to share your views in the open thread below.

Andrei

PS: in the meantime, the LDNR authorities have identified the chemical substances US PMCs have brought to the cities of Mariupol, Krasnyi Liman and Avdeevka: botulinum toxin and dibenzoxazepine.  These chemical weapon were brought over from the USA by USAF contracted aircraft and are now deployed by 120 US mercenaries.

Your $1.7 billion of gold is now ours, UK tells starving Venezuelans

Dec 26, 2021, 

RT.com

In its prolonged freezing of Venezuelan assets, the UK continues to withhold 31 tons of its gold stored at the Bank of England, with a new Supreme Court ruling supporting the seizure.

The recent decision, CNN reported“ruled that recognition of heads of state and government was solely the responsibility of the British government, which had recognized [opposition leader Juan] Guaidó as Venezuela’s Constitutional interim President.” 

Like most duplicitous corporate media, CNN pushed the narrative that Nicolas Maduro isn’t actually Venezuela’s elected president (he “claimed” the “widely disputed” election). But, as I wrote in March, he is president, and “Venezuela’s election process has been recognized as transparent and effective, with former US President Jimmy Carter in 2012 calling it ‘the best in the world.’ On the other hand, the Venezuelan opposition, as well as Western nations, have interfered with and attempted to sabotage elections.”

In any case, the UK court, drawing on the ‘one voice principle’, decided that because UK leaders like Boris Johnson regard the unbeloved Guaidó as ‘interim president’, he therefore, inexplicably, is – in spite of most of the world not recognizing him as such.

So, Venezuela’s 31 tons of gold deposited at the Bank of England,” remains captive.

Meanwhile, script-reading legacy media are echoing one another in claiming that Venezuela has no right to its own gold, disingenuously promoting the false premise that Guaidó is Venezuela’s president.

The BBC ran with: ‘UK Supreme Court denies Maduro claim to Venezuelan gold’.

Fortune Times gushed: ‘UK Supreme Court thwarts Maduro’s bid to control $1.9bn Venezuela gold.’

How very benevolent of the UK courts to thwart the dastardly elected president of a nation whose population it is allied with the US in relentlessly punishing. 

As any good stooge of imperialism does, Guaidó – the Western puppet previously-unknown to the world, and largely unknown within Venezuela before his self-appointment as ‘president’ – pops up when needed, aka when the US and allies want to hurt the Venezuelan people even further. 

The recent decision, CNN reported“ruled that recognition of heads of state and government was solely the responsibility of the British government, which had recognized [opposition leader Juan] Guaidó as Venezuela’s Constitutional interim President.” 

Like most duplicitous corporate media, CNN pushed the narrative that Nicolas Maduro isn’t actually Venezuela’s elected president (he “claimed” the “widely disputed” election). But, as I wrote in March, he is president, and “Venezuela’s election process has been recognized as transparent and effective, with former US President Jimmy Carter in 2012 calling it ‘the best in the world.’ On the other hand, the Venezuelan opposition, as well as Western nations, have interfered with and attempted to sabotage elections.”

In any case, the UK court, drawing on the ‘one voice principle’, decided that because UK leaders like Boris Johnson regard the unbeloved Guaidó as ‘interim president’, he therefore, inexplicably, is – in spite of most of the world not recognizing him as such.

So, Venezuela’s 31 tons of gold deposited at the Bank of England,” remains captive.

Meanwhile, script-reading legacy media are echoing one another in claiming that Venezuela has no right to its own gold, disingenuously promoting the false premise that Guaidó is Venezuela’s president.

The BBC ran with: ‘UK Supreme Court denies Maduro claim to Venezuelan gold’.

Fortune Times gushed: ‘UK Supreme Court thwarts Maduro’s bid to control $1.9bn Venezuela gold.’

How very benevolent of the UK courts to thwart the dastardly elected president of a nation whose population it is allied with the US in relentlessly punishing. 

As any good stooge of imperialism does, Guaidó – the Western puppet previously-unknown to the world, and largely unknown within Venezuela before his self-appointment as ‘president’ – pops up when needed, aka when the US and allies want to hurt the Venezuelan people even further. 

In a March 2021 article, I opined, “You would have to have been offline or in a coma for the past couple of years to not be aware of some key facts about ‘interim president’ Guaidó. Venezuelans didn’t vote for Guaidó to be president, he hasn’t even stood for president. Venezuelans voted for Maduro. Guaidó named himself ‘interim president’, to the support of only roughly 50 countries – leaving a glaring nearly 150 countries not recognizing this Western-groomed stooge as Venezuela’s leader.”

Contrary to the UK’s re-recognition of this man as the president of Venezuela, as I noted, even the EU dropped its recognition of Guaidó as interim president. 

On-the-ground support for the non-president?

In 2019, I spent several weeks in Caracas, refuting Western pundits’ and media claims that there was chaos following a series of power outages. During that time, I observed protests in support of the government, and sought out the supposedly-massive protests in support of Guaidó (spoiler, I couldn’t find them, in spite of scouring the city on a motorcycle taxi).

In one particularly massive pro-government protest, Venezuelans spoke of media lies about their country and also how they wanted the “Western puppet” Guaidó to be arrested. 

They make it up, it’s all lies, all lies. The only president we recognize is Nicolas Maduro. And we want this man, Juan Guaidó, to be arrested immediately.

In an encounter another day, a woman unleashed, “We didn’t vote for you, Guaidó. We’re not a North American colony. We’re not Colombia. Respect Venezuela. The US wants to steal our resources. Trump, stop f**king us over.”

Up in the hills of Petare, riding on a friend’s motorcycle, wherever we went, we met people who spat on Guaidó and on the West’s lies about Venezuela.

This latest UK court ruling to continue denying Venezuela its gold – and deny the nation a means of providing relief to its uber-sanctioned population, which struggles to get enough food to eat because of it – is not surprising, giving the West’s history of attempting to overthrow Venezuela’s leaders and destabilize the country. 

It needs to be underscored that the same politicians, pundits and media which promote Guaidó as a Venezuelan leader, much less president, and whitewash the UK’s theft of Venezuela’s gold, systematically downplay the deadly sanctions against its people.

RELATED LINKS:

UK Gold Ruling Based on ‘Illegal Interference’ in Venezuela

US-led Sanctions Against Venezuela: A Primer

New US admin stands for same grotesque & brutal policies against Venezuela, shows just how little they actually CARE for people

Venezuela playlist

US is manufacturing a crisis in Venezuela so that there is chaos and ‘needed’ intervention

Let’s be honest, Zionist Israel is built on a tissue of lies

December 23, 2021

82-year-old, Diana Neslen [Youtube]
British journalist and author Yvonne Ridley provides political analysis on affairs related to the Middle East, Asia and the Global War on Terror. Her work has appeared in numerous publications around the world from East to West from titles as diverse as The Washington Post to the Tehran Times and the Tripoli Post earning recognition and awards in the USA and UK. Ten years working for major titles on Fleet Street she expanded her brief into the electronic and broadcast media producing a number of documentary films on Palestinian and other international issues from Guantanamo to Libya and the Arab Spring.

Yvonne Ridley 

Not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists are Jews, but say anything negative about the political ideology of Zionism or speak in favour of Palestine and the chances are, regardless of your religious beliefs or lack of them, you will end up being accused of anti-Semitism. In today’s world, posting negative tweets about Zionism or expressing the slightest criticism of Israel can land you in trouble. One 82-year-old woman in Britain, for example, could be expelled from the Labour Party having been accused of posting “anti-Semitic” views on social networks. Diana Neslen, though, is Jewish.

After three investigations by the party, Neslen has had enough and is fighting back. Her legal team has sent a warning letter to let Labour officials know that her anti-Zionist viewpoint is a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act. Furthermore, the lawyers at Bindmans say that she has been “subjected by the party to discrimination and harassment related to her protected philosophical belief.”

This has the potential to be a hugely significant case that will put the political ideology of Zionism under the spotlight. Its supporters, especially millions of Christian evangelicals around the world, especially in the US, would have us believe that political Zionism is older than Methuselah himself who, according to the Bible, reached the grand old age of 969. However, compared with the ancient patriarch, the nationalist movement is still in its infancy, having originated in eastern and central Europe towards the back end of the 19th century.

READ: UK media and politicians ‘misled public’ with support for far-right Israeli ambassador

Not only is Zionism a relatively new kid on the ideological block, therefore, but it’s also only relatively recently that the movement has been supported by mainstream Jewry and non-Jews of every political hue. It has taken root among Jews following decades of propaganda and millions of dollars spent lobbying the US and other western governments for legislation to criminalise those who would dare to criticise it.

It wasn’t always like this. Back in December 1938, election results in Poland saw the Zionist political project struggling to take hold within one of Europe’s largest Jewish communities. Only one of the 20 seats allocated to Jews was won by a Zionist candidate; 17 went to the anti-Zionist socialist party, Bund. The evidence suggests that pre-World War Two, orthodox Jews were not generally attracted to Zionism or the concept of a Jewish state. Mike Marqusee made this point in his book If I am Not For Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew (Verso Books, 2008): “As long as there has been Zionism, there have been anti-Zionist Jews. Indeed, decades before it even came to the notice of non-Jews, anti-Zionism was a well-established Jewish ideology and until World War II commanded wide support in the diaspora.”

The Nazi Holocaust did indeed change things when it murdered millions of Jews and other minority groups, including the disabled, trade unionists, gypsies and homosexuals. “I remember thinking at the end of the war, ‘Why didn’t the Germans do anything?'” said Neslen. “When there’s injustice done in your name you cannot close your eyes to it. That’s why I feel very strongly.” Israel, remember, claims to act on behalf of all Jews, no matter where they live.

The truth remains, though, that Zionism is based on lies. There, I’ve said it, and will no doubt be refused a platform by universities for incurring the wrath of the more rabid elements of Israel’s extreme supporters in the Zionist lobby groups. Like Neslen, however, I too have reached breaking point, although I am not a Jew. So it is time for me to stand my ground, and also fight back.

One of the most enduring of Zionism’s lies was promoted by British author Israel Zangwill 120 years ago when he repeated the well-worn slogan that Palestine was “a land without people for a people without a land”. After realising that this was simply not true, Zangwill parted company with the founders of Zionism and in 1904 started talking about the 600,000 Palestinians who occupied the so-called “land without a people” at the time. He continued to speak out about the Palestinian elephant in the Zionist living room. Today, no doubt, he would be slandered as anti-Semitic; in 1913 Zionists simply called him a traitor.

Like Zangwill, Diana Neslen was also a “committed Zionist” until she visited Israel and saw the self-styled Jewish State at close quarters. And, just like Zangwill, she has been punished, insulted and persecuted since turning her back on the racist ideology. She is not the only person who appears to have been persecuted for her anti-Zionist beliefs, and the fact that she is Jewish appears to cut no ice with her detractors. They continue to insist that the Labour Party must investigate her “anti-Semitism”. What did she say or do to deserve what her lawyers describe as a totally “unjustified and disproportionate” response? In one tweet in 2017 she wrote, “The existence of the state of Israel is a racist endeavour and I am an antiracist Jew.”

Inside Israel itself, in response to accusations from Jews like Neslen that Zionism is colonialism, the goalposts are being moved yet again with new lie claiming that Jews are genetically “indigenous” to the land. It’s an argument that “swims in fascist waters” according to one Jewish writer who said that the blatant appropriation of anticolonial language changes the definition of Zionism. Far from being a Jewish nationalist movement founded in the 19th century, explained Abe Silberstein, these new zealots are trying to portray Zionism as “an indigenous rights movement, the implication being that virtually all Jews are indigenous to the land of Israel.”

OPINION: Overthrowing Israel’s bogus definition of anti-Semitism

As support for Israel among US Jews starts to fall, especially among the young, it seems as if Zionism is losing its mythical status as a benign ideology, even as the peaceful grassroots Boycott, Sanction and Divestment movement, BDS, rises in popularity. In 2015, a Yachad-Ipsos Mori survey conducted in British Jewish communities found that, while 90 per cent of Jews in the UK believe in Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, just 59 per cent identified themselves as Zionists, down from 72 per cent in 2010. It is no longer clear if “Zionist” means someone who supports Israel’s government, or simply the state’s right to exist.

In 2018, the Labour Party in Britain adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism. “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour,” says the IHRA, is an example of anti-Semitism. Opponents of its use in this way argue that legitimate criticism of a government is certainly not the same as illegal anti-Jewish racism. Indeed, even the person responsible for drafting the definition — and it remains a draft document; it’s not set in stone — has said that “pro-Israel lobby groups have weaponised the definition in an attempt to silence critics of Zionism.”

Jewish Voice for Labour, of which Neslen is a member, says there are at least 42 Jews in the Labour Party who have faced or are facing disciplinary charges relating to allegations of anti-Semitism. Ironically, under self-proclaimed Zionist and leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer, Jewish members are five times more likely to have faced complaints about anti-Semitism than non-Jewish members. It remains to be seen if Labour does apologise to Neslen and undertake not to pursue further investigations against her in respect of her beliefs, but it is clear that her lawyers will not drop the legal action.

According to Neslen in the Guardian, “The Labour Party has no idea, in my opinion, of what anti-Semitism is. My son was attacked by a luminary of the [British National Party] who was jailed for three years. I remember picking up the phone and being subjected to death threats from the BNP. People who have never experienced anti-Semitism have no idea what it means, what it means for a Jew to be found guilty of anti-Semitism.”

Like the Labour Party, most other the other main political parties in Britain have adopted the controversial, “seriously flawed” IHRA definition of anti-Semitism apart from in Scotland. There, the Scottish Greens hold two ministerial positions in Nicola Sturgeon’s government. Both co-leaders, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, still refuse to endorse the definition. The Greens have voted previously in favour of a motion that described Israel as a “racist state” based on “Jewish supremacy” and calls Zionism a racist endeavour. This is entirely consistent with the findings of Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem earlier this year.

READ: Jewish woman threatens to sue UK Labour over ‘anti-Semitism’ warnings

The far-right Israeli government is said to be increasingly concerned about the decline of support for Zionism. I wouldn’t be surprised if it has already instructed its embassies and lobby groups around the world to shore up support for the ideology in 2022. Indeed, as reported recently by MEMO, it seems that the pro-Israel lobbyists are going on the attack already; Sturgeon is facing mounting criticism over the Scottish National Party’s partnership with Scottish Greens. The First Minister has also been accused of Jew-hatred for discouraging “trade between Scotland and illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories”.

Such tactics make it no surprise, therefore, to hear that British MP Robert Jenrick has pledged to get the British government to outlaw BDS. Speaking at the Leadership Dialogue Institute (LDI), a think tank fostering closer cultural ties between Australia, the UK and Israel, he addressed BDS in a meeting under the inflammatory heading “Why Do So Many People Hate Jews?” Again, the attempt is to conflate legitimate criticism of a political ideology with totally illegitimate, abhorrent racism against Jews. As one leading pro-Palestine campaigner has said, “Anti-Zionism is a duty; anti-Semitism is a crime.”

When Zionists move the goalposts they unwittingly expose the tissue of lies on which the state of Israel has been built. The Jews in Europe pre-Holocaust saw Zionism for what it was and voted accordingly. It is time for the truth about the ideology to be told before any more Jews like Diana Neslen are persecuted for their wholly acceptable beliefs. Their right to freedom of thought and speech must not be curtailed as they seek justice for the people of occupied Palestine.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s interview with Interfax News Agency, December 18, 2021

December 21, 2021

20 December 2021 16:56

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s interview with Interfax News Agency, December 18, 2021

Question: Are our proposals to the United States and NATO regarding security guarantees an ultimatum to the West, the last attempt to reach out to them or a final warning to make them stop?

Sergey Ryabkov: We do not speak in the language of ultimatums with anyone. We have a responsible attitude towards our own security and the security of others. The point is not that we have issued an ultimatum, not at all, but that the seriousness of our warning must not be underestimated.

The security situation in Europe, the Euro-Atlantic region and Eurasia has indeed greatly deteriorated recently. This has happened because of a series of concerted actions by the United States and its NATO allies, which, generally speaking, can be described as an attempt to undermine Russia’s security and to create a hostile environment around us. We cannot accept this.

Ukraine is in the focus of this policy. Ukraine’s decisions are not independent but are subject to change in the situation. When the West provides unconditional and unqualified support to Ukraine, certain quarters in Kiev play up to the worst Western objectives and formulas. And the possibility of Ukraine eventually joining NATO, which some Ukrainian officials keep talking about, is categorically unacceptable to us. We will do our best to prevent this.

We reject the very presentation of the issue. We can discuss all the pros and cons, but we unequivocally demand that NATO withdraw the decision adopted at its Bucharest summit in 2008 that Ukraine and Georgia become NATO members. That decision should be called off and revised, which will be seen as a small, not comprehensive, but small step in the right direction. The West does not appear ready to do this. This is why our comprehensive, all-encompassing proposals raise a number of outstanding issues, primarily for the United States but also for its allies, which should be settled urgently. We are monitoring their reaction, which is not encouraging so far. We are ready for talks on this basis, but so far we can only see that our proposals have been rejected under far-fetched pretexts.

The statement adopted by the North Atlantic Council on December 16 is vivid proof of this. Ninety percent of the text consists of time-worn ultimatums to Russia. We are not issuing any ultimatums to anyone, and we will not allow others to do this towards us. The statement goes on to say that what Russia demands, what it is demanding, is not an outstretched hand but a harsh demand, which allegedly has nothing to do with NATO. The alliance is free to decide which countries can join it, and NATO’s relationship with Ukraine is a matter only for Ukraine and the 30 NATO Allies.

No, this is much more a matter concerning Russia, as I am stating clearly now. The time of diplomatic parlance is over. We have to explain things at the elementary level, to spell them out. The potential NATO membership of Ukraine is above all a matter of concern for the Russian Federation.

Question: Have we set any deadlines for an answer? Do we have a Plan B, shall we say, in case the answer is no?

Sergey Ryabkov: We have not set any deadlines. We proposed meeting and talking right now without dragging things out, without delay. Instead of talking to you here, I was actually ready to be in Geneva today for talks with Ms Karen Donfried, US Assistant Secretary of State, or with any negotiators Washington would assign for this purpose. The Americans were told that our interdepartmental delegation at these negotiations would be headed by a supervising deputy minister; they are aware of this. We are waiting for their response. We can be any place they name, at any time, starting tomorrow. Just a few hours to pack and we have it all ready. We have a clear approach, which we have worked on for quite some time, so there are no technical, political or organisational obstacles for starting such negotiations as soon as possible.

As for Plan B, we continue to expect the other side to show a serious approach. We understand they need time to read all this, discuss it and wrap their minds around it. As I understand it, certain discussions on this took place on December 16, at NATO and in the European Union. This is all clear. But by and large, if they confirmed their readiness to meet urgently and negotiate on the basis of our documents – our documents provide a framework for a certain negotiation process – this would be a good answer. True, we cannot be sure – we know this from the experience of many negotiations – that we will immediately reach an agreement in just a few days. Not at all; these are serious matters, but the process needs to start now. It cannot be delayed, given the situation in all its complexity and the totality of problematic aspects.

Question: You said that understandably it would be impossible to come to an agreement right away. Does this mean that we are ready to compromise to reach an agreement?

Sergey Ryabkov: This matter has been repeatedly discussed, including over the last few days, in contacts with US representatives and via other channels. We cannot understand the basics of the US position, when they say that we should, for example, with regard to the Minsk Package of Measures, do this or that. We have been urging them to put down on paper what they mean, for several months now. But they are not doing this. I don’t know whether they are unable or unwilling. They publish the same statements, sufficiently straightforward and tough statements, over and over again. If we go by what is written in these statements, it would certainly be impossible to come to terms. But any talks imply a search for compromise. The problem is not that there is no will to reach an agreement on our part but that we do not see this kind of will on the other side.

We are saying that there are no far-fetched things in the draft agreement with the United States or in the draft agreement on security guarantees with NATO, and, of course, we are saying this absolutely sincerely, firmly and confidently. This is the Russian Federation’s position on issues affecting our fundamental security interests, a position that is free of rhetoric and expressed in the language of a treaty. No more, no less, and it should be treated as such.

Therefore, when we say we need security guarantees, we naturally are proceeding from the assumption that the reply will be such as will make it possible to say: we have made headway in dealing with this package of key issues in such a manner as to see a substantial improvement in the security situation for us, to see a dramatic change for the better; we are no longer concerned about what may take place in the future in connection with the uninterrupted activities involving the buildup of military exercises, creation of infrastructure, redeployment of forces, reconnaissance flights, development of territories, and so on, practically in the entire Western sector, particularly in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea in recent time.

The situation here could be stabilised through documents of this kind and their conclusion. It could be made better. Without them, however, the situation will remain extremely difficult and tense. No one should underestimate Moscow’s resolve to defend its national security interests. No one should treat lightly our statements regarding the dangerous nature of current developments.

Question: Is this about mutual guarantees? Are we also ready to give them these guarantees?

Sergey Ryabkov: Are you suggesting we draft them for NATO? I am not sure at all that they need them. In terms of its approach to security, NATO has long settled on declaring the indivisibility of security for its own members. NATO officials have been saying for quite a while now that they are doing what is necessary to protect themselves against external challenges and threats – real or imagined. That said, they claim they are dealing with their security themselves.

We also plan our security ourselves. But the problem and the difference is that we are suggesting coming to terms on this issue. We would certainly not draft NATO’s position, trying to guess what its members would like to receive in return for meeting us halfway. That’s funny. We will not do this, it would be methodologically wrong. So far, the other side is not even indicating a willingness to start talks. We will have to wait and see. If they come up with a real position, it would lead to a real negotiating process that, I hope will start soon and take place behind closed doors.

Question: What about guarantees of non-aggression against Ukraine or other actions regarding this country?

Sergey Ryabkov: They want us to take actions in our own territory. Naturally, we are rejecting this demand in both its essence and form. This demand is unacceptable and inappropriate. They are not asking for additional security guarantees in this context. We provided guarantees when the Budapest memorandum was signed in 1994.

I would like to emphasise that, with complicity from their Western patrons, our Ukrainian colleagues are turning this memorandum upside down. The Budapest Memorandum guarantees the security of Ukraine as a non-nuclear state in the context of the NPT. Guarantees have been ensured and provided from this viewpoint. However, the Budapest Memorandum document does not mention a word about government coups in Ukraine or subsequent actions. To be clear, we must note that this memorandum does not say anything about the possibility that part of the Ukrainian population living in Ukraine at that time decides whether they should continue living there or return to the Russian Federation.

The Budapest Memorandum is not about that. It sets out security guarantees for Ukraine as a non-nuclear state, and nothing more. The Foreign Ministry has said this many times, and this situation provides us yet another opportunity to emphasise this point.

Question: But if we consider a worst case scenario, which apparently is still on the table, if the Americans refuse to provide security guarantees, that would give us a free hand, among other things, regarding President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko’s proposal on deploying our nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus. Is this so?

Sergey Ryabkov: We take all our obligations very seriously, under all the treaties to which Russia is a party. We have obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. However, please note that for many years we have been raising the issue with NATO members that the practice of deploying US nuclear weapons on the territory of NATO member states that the NPT deems as non-nuclear – not just deploying, but also holding training sessions involving those countries’ crews and equipment on how to use nuclear weapons – that that practice, in our opinion, grossly contravenes the treaty. They tell us no, it does not run counter to the treaty. They tell us, years ago, back when the NPT was under discussion, the Soviet delegation agreed with the Western interpretation. Well, they did not. We have searched the archives, and our approach was there. Back then, we – Moscow, the Soviet Union – expressed our approach, and it was reflected in the records of the talks. Still, for the sake of signing the Treaty, the matter was just left as it was, each with their own opinion. Well, here we are now – just like 50 years ago, each sticking to their position. I am not drawing any parallels with Belarus, just reminding you of the various attitudes to the other side’s claims in such matters.

Question: You mentioned the Cuban Missile Crisis. That involved nuclear weapons as well, didn’t it?

Sergey Ryabkov: The Cuban Missile Crisis was the most difficult moment in the entire history of the Cold War, when the world was really teetering on the brink of a nuclear conflict. With so much done since that time with regard to arms control and not only that, with the progress made in comprehending the concepts and doctrines of the use of nuclear weapons, it is simply impossible to discard this experience and rewind back to 1962.

But we are concerned about the ease with which our NATO opponents treat matters like deploying nuclear weapons, using nuclear weapons in different situations, where things become increasingly uncertain and blurred, where the threshold is lower, including due to capacity – that is, thinking logically, what they are doing makes it easier to go about using nuclear weapons, including on the battlefield. This is noticeable, and it raises our concerns, not just objections. We urge them to choose a different path. For example, one that we tried with the Biden administration, issuing a joint statement on the unacceptability of a nuclear war.

But there are escalation risks; there is the risk of an incident, which cannot be ignored. These risks cannot be taken lightly, they need to be addressed, and we call for this, too. Instead, we have to read a lot of moralising statements by our opponents. These lectures cannot change our position, I would say; if anything, they are strengthening it. On the other hand, they reveal the other side’s unwillingness, primarily that of the United States, to address real security threats in a serious manner.

Question: Reportedly, the United States is trying to persuade the EU to synchronise tough financial and economic measures against Russia. Do we have the tools to respond to these measures, and will the sanctions affect our position during the talks on security guarantees?

Sergey Ryabkov: We run into this all the time. Clearly, we are used to it and have adapted to it. I don’t want to make fun of what’s happening, because these are all not very good developments. The Western community’s programmed and differently formatted policy actions on Russia simply strike the eye. One gets the impression that the people who participate in these discussions are overwhelmed by the idea of ​​collective responsibility for what is going on. That is, no one can or is willing to offer an alternative, and things are unfolding arbitrarily. We have to reckon with this and, in all appearance, this will continue into the future, because those who hope for a possibility for Russia to review the demands that the West puts forward as a condition for taking steps on the sanctions track are naive. I am not even saying there is almost no such thing as lifting the sanctions that were imposed earlier. But that’s okay; this is a separate major topic, which is also revealing. But I am on to something else here. Routine statements coming from the West about its willingness to develop constructive relations with Russia and maintain a constructive dialogue with us if Russia does what the West insists on are worthless. This is expressed in different ways; in the most terse and concise form it is expressed like it’s up to Russia, while we, the West, stand ready; it’s Russia’s choice.

Yes, all right, we re-read it, which made our eyes even sorer, and that’s all there is to it. That is all we got from it.

Question: Still, will the sanctions affect the talks on security guarantees?

Sergey Ryabkov: We suggest reaching an agreement on the aspects of the situation in the sphere of tough security that are currently causing the greatest concern. But this is all a product of NATO’s constant and steady eastward expansion, which has recently been accompanied and supplemented by the military and the military-technical development of the neighbouring countries that are not formal NATO members. In addition, this goes hand-in-hand with intensified and openly provocative actions designed to see our reaction, whether it will be tough, or whether we will be willing to adjust our approach to a certain extent. That is, if I did not engage in diplomacy, I would refer to it as teetering on the brink of war. I would not want to touch on this in my assessments and reasoning. We do not want this, and we do not need a conflict. We want to reach an agreement on a sound basis. We want to move these multi-pronged activities which are, to a large extent if not entirely, anti-Russia, harmful and pre-planned, where all the roles have been assigned, to move them away from ourselves in order to get certain guarantees for normal coexistence in this space and in this area.

So, sanctions or other tracks in our activities do not fit into this logic in any way. This is an independent, separate group of questions that we have created in a form that is fairly direct and clear for our opponents, thus showing, among other things, that this is no joking matter, but, instead, needs to be dealt with right now, starting tomorrow.

Question: What about the “sanctions from hell” which the Western countries are threatening to impose against us? Aren’t they a threat to our security?

Sergey Ryabkov: I would like to share one observation with you in this connection. Not long ago – a year or two ago, it seemed to us that some issues like the one you mentioned now were discussed in the West if not with some trepidation but at least with the understanding that they concern fundamental, serious things. Now the Bucharest Nine comes into play. This is the most anti-Russia wing in NATO and the EU, with which the White House conducted special consultations, apparently explaining its own interpretations of our proposals – I don’t know, this is just my supposition. Now the situation has changed. They are imposing on others its internal NATO and internal EU narrative that Dostoyevsky, whose 200th birthday we just observed, would have described as “anything goes,” absolutely anything. These people are simply removing the limits of what is possible and acceptable in discussing various issues. But they ignore the fact that following the same logic as NATO, we will take care of our security ourselves and will sooner or later start pushing the limits of what is acceptable for us. We have already expressed our opinion in a slightly different way and will continue speaking out. So, this is a serious issue.

Question: But if, say, they reject our proposal, will that untie our hands?

Sergey Ryabkov: We will use the appropriate methods and approaches we need to ensure our security. We do not want a conflict and we would like to come to terms on a reasonable foundation. Any diplomatic action, any initiative or any proposal is a test of negotiability for those who are being addressed. Before we come to any conclusion on what to do next we must make certain the answer is negative. It could be a flat “no,” or emotional to some extent, or neutral. It could be anything. I do not want to anticipate it but I hope the answer will be at least relatively constructive so we can start our dialogue and talks. It is unclear what will happen, but let’s wait and see. Later there will be many options in different areas. However, talking about them now is counterproductive because we are trying to focus on our own proposals.

Question: So, there will be separate talks on security guarantees, not as part of the dialogue on strategic stability?

Sergey Ryabkov: We suggest a separate negotiating track on security guarantees – bilaterally with the US – that would include interdepartmental delegations.

As for a strategic stability dialogue, two rounds are over and we are preparing for a third one. We are working on our position, hoping the other side will specify potential decisions. That said, it is clear we will have to talk and discuss security guarantees, all the more so since one of the two working groups is called “potential and actions that could have a strategic effect.” NATO’s actions are having a strategic effect and it’s negative for us. Something needs to be done in this respect. They should stop or we need to stop them. I hope we will discuss this through a separate channel but we will also work on this in the format of strategic stability dialogue. I mean with the United States, I don’t mean NATO.

Question: Do the Americans continue to insist on China’s involvement in our dialogue on strategic stability or do they want to discuss these issues via a separate US-China channel?

Sergey Ryabkov: I have read reports that influential experts, including retirees and analysts, have published several articles on the Chinese factor, and this certainly creates a certain background and context. However, this question did not come up during our meetings, discussions or in conversations with the Americans this year after the June meeting between the presidents. As I see it, the United States has certain channels for discussing arms control with Beijing, and there is a five-sided format as well – the nuclear Five that holds useful meetings. This work is intensive now, on the eve of the NPT review conference. I hope there will be results that we can announce at the conference or in that context. China is very active there. In other words, there is no lack of venues. As for our dialogue on strategic stability with the US, the China factor only appears at US initiative. However, our position remains the same: we respect China’s position and consider it its sovereign choice, as is the case with Britain and France. We are very interested in their participation in this process. A sovereign choice is based on the national interests of these states and these interests may coincide with different arms control formats. We will not coerce anyone to do anything. We urge Britain and France to show a responsible attitude towards the situation. Just as with NATO, we cannot ignore the opportunities that the US allies have in different areas, and we will deal with this, too.

Question: Should we expect consultations on visa issues be held before the year is out?

Sergey Ryabkov: We do not have any consultations scheduled for what remains of this year. These matters continue to be discussed by the embassies. I want to confirm what has been said on several occasions, our Ambassador Anatoly Antonov mentioned this, and we mentioned this here as well: there is some progress on matters of secondary importance. Some categories of travelers, such as guests of embassy employees, can obtain visas more easily. Making travel arrangements for the specialists who are temporarily posted for various assignments, including building maintenance, has somewhat improved. Even though the room for improvement is vast and a good deal of work remains to be done, we managed to fix certain things of secondary importance, but there are no signs of us getting any closer on issues that matter most.

If the Americans don’t stop and continue to demand that our employees leave the country before January 30, we will respond in kind, and later the same number of their diplomatic mission employees will have to leave our country as well. The most severe personnel shortages, both here and there, will ensue. I’m not sure why the United States would want this. From time immemorial, embassies and consulates have worked to maintain normal bilateral relations and to facilitate dialogue. Unfortunately, visas have become a problem in our relations.

We never relent in urging the Americans to try to get this off the ground, but so far to no avail. It is not very clear how to interpret their approach, and why it is so uncompromising and does not take into account obvious needs, including those of the United States. Do they really think that we will be willing to unilaterally meet them halfway when our people are not able to rotate or simply travel to the United States, and have to apply for visas in third countries, while Washington gets what it needs? This runs counter to the logic behind diplomatic relations, not to mention the state of relations between Moscow and Washington. They cannot count on anything like this. This is one aspect of the matter.

The other aspect is that sometimes it appears that our colleagues have at some point underestimated our resolve to respond asymmetrically to their endless anti-Russia moves. When, in April, Russia was on the receiving end, again, of a whole series of completely groundless illegal sanctions, it was, in my opinion, a balanced and reasonable decision to respond by introducing a ban on hiring local personnel. Since then, they have been tying their destructive moves, such as failure to make available the required number of consular officers, which lead to non-issuance of visas or other enormous difficulties, and much more, to this decision. And they have also ratcheted up the pressure on our embassy.

But we do not even propose figuring out who started it and who is responsible for what, even though the situation here is absolutely indisputable, when back under the Obama administration we waited for many months, without responding even to the initial expulsion of a large number of our employees. But now, right now, let’s not waste the time figuring out who did what, why and when. We just need to put the most problematic demands on hold and say: while this is not happening, let’s try to use the time to find solutions. Had this happened, I don’t think any Foreign Ministry employees who engage in relations with the United States would be here, because I would have been sitting in Geneva for the security guarantee talks, while my colleagues would have left, the next day, for Helsinki or Vienna in order to work on removing these visa irritants. Our wives would have forgiven us even if we hadn’t been able to make it back in time for the New Year.

Question: That is, there will be no consultations on visas before the year is out?

Sergey Ryabkov: No.

Question: We are saying that we are demanding or will demand that the United States compensate us for seizing our diplomatic property and denying us access there. Is a legal claim for compensation already being drafted? Has it been presented to the Americans? And if so, what is the approximate amount of damages?

Sergey Ryabkov: The issue of diplomatic property is not being addressed. No progress has been made due to the US stance. We put a very fine point on this with the Americans at all levels, to reiterate, literally at all levels, including the highest level with no effect, at least, not the effect that we need. At this point, we would like to especially emphasise the need for our maintenance teams to at least tour the grounds in order to inspect the premises, to take stock and assess damage and see what is still there and what is gone. We are in the dark about this, we are not allowed there. And then we will see what we can do with regard to the steps that you mentioned.

Question: Towards the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, we were saying that our relations had hit the bottom. Now, almost a year after Joe Biden has been in office, have we pushed off the bottom? Second, you told us in your interview last year that you were not expecting anything good in our relations with America, and that we should move to a two-track approach in our relations with the United States consisting of total deterrence, including military deterrence, and selective dialogue. Are we carrying out this policy now?

Sergey Ryabkov: With regard to whether we have reached the bottom, I think that thankfully we didn’t break through the bottom and, in some respects, we are still moving forward and everything is not hopeless. However, in some areas the potential for deterioration is clear. We must deal with it before things collapse even more.  Our proposals regarding security guarantees are a signal that there are many reasons for alarm in the western direction in general, from the point of view of military-political aspects of security. This needs to be addressed. Another area where we do not see much reason for being particularly optimistic are things related to bilateral irritants, such as visas, etc. The path forward here is obvious, though. There’s not even need for any talks. All you need to do is just make a political decision and have people get together and write down on paper a sequence of steps on either side which shouldn’t take more than several days. It is a very simple thing to do. The reluctance on the American side to do this clearly shows their lack of political will to improve relations. So, we have made some progress on some tracks and we will keep moving down that positive path, as best we can, being mindful of the risks.

I believe that the two-track approach is the only possible way to deal with the Americans at this point. But this is my subjective opinion. Our policy does not reproduce in the least what, for many decades, has been practiced and, moreover, officially declared by the West with regard to Moscow as the capital of the Soviet Union and then the capital of the Russian Federation.

The two-track approach was first stated in the report by Pierre Harmel, former Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister of Belgium, in the 1967 NATO report. And they have been sticking to it since then. You can call something by different names, but that doesn’t change what it is. Is the Higgs boson a particle or a field? Both.

I am not getting caught up in my own words about the two-track approach. I know one thing. We need to achieve, what the Biden administration’s top officials famously refer to as “stable and predictable relationship” with Moscow. What we need is a stable and predictable relationship with Washington. We can get there by demonstrating our serious approaches and intentions in a variety of areas, while remaining open to dialogue.  The other side often has a problem, and it appears that it will arise again following our proposals, which is that they are good at showing firmness bordering on rudeness, but they are rather unprepared for dialogue. So, just like the communicating vessels, we will also be balancing. You can call it a two-track approach or whatever you like. Our foreign policy is presidential policy, and we carry out the decisions that are made by the leader of our state.

Andrei Martyanov: The Timing of Russia’s Ultimatum to NATO

December 20, 2021

E3 Ultimately Agreed To Accept Iran Viewpoints as Basis for Serious, Result-oriented Talks – Top Negotiator

Dec 18 2021

By Staff, Agencies

Iran’s chief negotiator Ali Baqeri Kani said the three European parties to the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the E3, intimately agreed to accept Tehran’s viewpoint as a basis for “serious, result-oriented” talks as the latest round of discussions in Vienna comes to a close.

Baqeri Kani was briefing reporters on Friday, at the end of the seventh round of talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna between Iran and the five remaining signatories to the multilateral nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], aimed at removing the US sanctions imposed on Tehran and saving the agreement.

He said the pace of reaching an agreement depends on the will of the opposite side, adding, “If the other side accepts the rational views and positions of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the new round of talks can be the last one and we can achieve a deal in the shortest possible time.”

The senior added that Iran and the P4+1 group of countries reached “two new documents for talks both on the issue of sanctions and on the nuclear issue,” referring to the bans that the US imposed on Iran after withdrawing from the deal and the retaliatory nuclear steps that Tehran took away from the accord.

He emphasized that a fresh round of Vienna talks would start in the near future based on these new texts which incorporate Iran’s viewpoints and positions.

Baqeri Kani, who also serves as deputy foreign minister for political affairs, noted that given the formation of a new administration in Iran, the country’s new negotiating team had brought along its own stance and views to Vienna.

At the same time, however, the new Iranian negotiating team took into account the positions, views, amendments and proposals put forwards by the former Iranian colleagues during the previous six rounds of talks in Vienna as well as the drafts that had been prepared up to that time and “incorporated them in the negotiation documents that we presented to the other side,” he added.

“Specifically, two documents were important for the negotiations. One was related to the removal of sanctions, which was the main priority on the agenda of the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the chief negotiator said.

He said the removal of sanctions was not just a priority for Iran, but other parties, including some of the P4+1 members, such as China, explicitly announced in the discussions that their priority was in harmony with that of Tehran.

In the course of the days that the latest talks were underway in Vienna, senior diplomats and experts of Iran and the P4+1 group of countries held several sessions on the removal of the sanctions and exchanged a number of documents about the two sides’ views on amendments or changes which should be made in the final text Baqeri Kani said, adding, “We received the latest documents on the sanctions removal today.”

Asked whether the two sides have managed to narrow down their differences, the senior diplomat said Iran announced its stance on the sanctions removal and nuclear issues in two documents, but “the European side was initially reluctant to accept the Islamic Republic of Iran’s views as a basis for the talks.”

He said the European signatories to the JCPOA — Britain, France and Germany— exerted pressure on Iran at first to make it retreat from its positions and insisted that the negotiations should move forward within the framework of the previous six rounds of the Vienna talks.

Faced with Iran’s resistance and logical arguments, the opposite side finally agreed to accept Iran’s positions as “a basis for serious, result-oriented” negotiations, the senior official added.

He criticized the E3 for failing to present a specific constructive initiative during the talks, saying, “They previously announced that they have proposals and initiatives on some topics, including the issue of guarantees, but we received no proposal or initiative from them during this round of talks.”

Iran’s chief negotiator explained that the talks were paused on Friday because the two sides agreed on the basis of the future negotiations, noting that they would resume a fresh round with serious discussions on the texts which have been agreed upon by all the negotiating teams.

Baqeri Kani said the new round of talks would be resumed within the next few days, adding that the negotiations will start based on the JCPOA and “no other basis has been announced by anyone and will be accepted by anyone.”

Iran and the five remaining parties to the JCPOA resumed talks in Vienna on November 29 after a five-month pause, marking the first round of negotiations under President Ebrahim Raisi’s administration and the seventh overall.

The Islamic Republic maintains that its presence at the talks is intended to have the US sanctions removed, which would, in turn, secure a US return to the nuclear deal.

The US, which is not allowed to directly participate in the talks as a result of its 2018 withdrawal from the JCPOA, claims that it is willing to undo the withdrawal and repeal its “maximum pressure” policy against Iran.

Iran argues that the onus is on Washington to return to the nuclear deal after removing its illegal sanctions and offering guarantees that it will not exit the pact again.

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فيينا تدخل المناطق الحرجة

 ناصر قنديل

يبدو التصعيد السياسي الأميركي حول أوكرانيا وتايوان، ومعه تحضيرات قمة الديمقراطية في واشنطن، منصات للالهاء والاشغال للقوتين العظميين المناوئتين للهيمنة الأميركية، وقد بلغتا مرحة تشكيل خطر وجودي على الزعامة الأميركية خلال عقدي المواجهة المفتوحة في حرب الهيمنة الأميركية على العالم منذ سقوط جدار برلين عام 1990، وليست مجرد صدفة حدوث هذا الالهاء وتلك المشاغلة بالتزامن مع بدء محادثات فيينا حول الملف النووي الإيراني، فواشنطن التي تكذب على العالم كله لا تكذب على نفسها، فهي تعلم أن المعركة مع إيران، من الباب النووي بعد إقفال إيران لسائر الأبواب، تختصر معارك السيطرة على آسيا ورسم توازناتها بعد الانسحاب الأميركي من أفغانستان، وبعد حروب السيطرة الفاشلة في العراق وسورية ولبنان واليمن، ونهوض قوى المقاومة التي تشكل إيران قلعتها الاستراتيجية، لأنها ترسم صورة توازنات قلب آسيا الذي تقف روسيا والصين على طرفيه، وتضعان رصيدهما كله لدخول هذا القلب.

سرت واشنطن أهم أسلحتها وأوراقها التفاوضية، وكشفت اختلال ميزان القوى لصالح إيران، عندما قبلت التفاوض على الملف النووي من دون الدخول في ملفين سياسيين ترتبط بهما موازين القوى التي تحدد التوازنات وترسم المعادلات في المنطقة، وهما سلاح الصواريخ الإيراني، ودعم حركات المقاومة، وكشفت أن مسعاها التفاوضي يرمي لتهدئة التصعيد وتبريد الجبهات، بترسيم حدود الخسائر، عبر الاعتراف بإيران نووية، وقبول عودتها للمتاجرة والتعاملات المصرفية، وسلمت بفشل سياسة العقوبات في ترويضها، بعدما أعلنت الفشل استراتيجي للحروب بانسحابها من أفغانستان، وسقف تطلعاتها صار وقف التصعيد، بما يعنيه ذلك من دعوة حلفائها لتقبل خسائر مشابهة لخسارتها في أفغانستان، فتنسحب السعودية من اليمن، وتتجه «إسرائيل» نحو قبول تنازلات لتبريد جبهاتها الشمالية والجنوبية، وتتوج أميركا ذلك بانسحابها من العراق وسورية، وأن سقف المفاوضات النووية يهدف للحصول على شروط تضعف مقدرات البرنامج النووي الإيراني بالقياس لما بلغه من تقدم.

في الأيام الماضية حملت الأخبار الآتية من مصادر أوروبية، ما يوحي بفرضية فشل المفاوضات، وظهر أن المناخ الأوروبي يعبر عن جزء من الضغط الإعلامي والسياسي الذي تظهر عبره أوروبا تبعيتها العمياء لأميركا، وانضباطها خلفها بعدما شعرت بالخطر من التصعيد الأميركي حول أوكرانيا، لكن ما برز أمس من معطيات يؤكد أن ورقتي العمل الإيرانيتين اللتين وصفهما الأوروبيون بالمخيبتين للآمال، تشكلان أساس التفاوض القائم، وأن تقدماً جدياً يتم تحقيقه، وأن لجنة ثالثة لدمج الورقتين قد تشكلت، وأن المبعوث الأميركي الخاص بالملف النووي الإيراني روبرت مالي سيشارك في المفاوضات غير المباشرة ويدير الفريق الأميركي فيها، وهذه كلها علامات على بلوغ التفاوض مرحلة متقدمة جداً، يقترب فيها من التوصل لتفاهم، وجاء الكلام الإسرائيلي عن الخيار العسكري ليضيف مؤشراً جديداً لتقدم المسار التفاوضي، وكلما سمعنا مزيداً من الصراخ الإسرائيلي يجب أن ندرك أن المفاوضات تتقدم بجدية.

قوة إيران التفاوضية تأتي من مصدرين، الأول أنها بخلاف أميركا تملك بديلاً للتفاوض، هو المضي قدماً ببرنامجها النووي حتى  لحظة القلق الأميركي من عتبة امتلاك السلاح النووي، والمضي قدماً في مشاريع التحرر الإقتصادي من مفاعيل العقوبات، وبالتوازي الاستناد إلى ميزان قوى عسكري في المنطقة لها ولحلفائها اليد العليا فيه، ومشكلة واشنطن التفاوضية أنها تدرك بأن لا بدائل لديها، وأنها لحظة إعلانها الخروج من المفاوضات من دون نتيجة ستفتح المنطقة على أحداث كبرى ستكون فيها ومعها الحليفين الخليجي والإسرائيلي في موقع الخسارة.

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They’re Killing Him: Assange’s Stroke Reveals The Western Version Of The Saudi Bone Saw

December 12, 2021

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source

Listen to a reading of this article:

Julian Assange suffered a mini-stroke in October during the hearing for the US appeal of a UK court’s ruling on his extradition case.

“The WikiLeaks publisher, 50, who is being held on remand in the maximum-security jail while fighting extradition to America, was left with a drooping right eyelid, memory problems and signs of neurological damage,” The Daily Mail reports. “He believes the mini-stroke was triggered by the stress of the ongoing US court action against him, and an overall decline in his health as he faces his third Christmas behind bars.”

“Assange was examined by a doctor, who found a delayed pupil response when a light was shone into one eye – a sign of potential nerve damage,” the article reads.

“Julian is struggling and I fear this mini-stroke could be the precursor to a more major attack. It compounds our fears about his ability to survive the longer this long legal battle goes on,” Assange’s fiance Stella Moris told the Daily Mail.

“Assange’s stroke is no surprise,” tweeted UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer in response to the news. “As we warned after examining him, unless relieved of the constant pressure of isolation, arbitrariness and persecution, his health would enter a downward spiral endangering his life.”

Melzer examined Assange with medical experts in 2019 and published a report with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights saying that “Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.”

The following year Melzer put it even more bluntly, writing that “Julian Assange displays the typical symptoms of psychological torture. If he doesn’t receive protection soon, a rapid deterioration of his health is likely, and death could be one outcome.”

In October of this year Melzer put it blunter still, saying, “If he should die in prison he has effectively been tortured to death. That’s the reality of it. And I’m not exaggerating. I’ve been working in areas of war. I have a long history of visiting prisoners. I visited Julian Assange, and I had two specialized forensic doctors with me and a psychiatrist evaluating him for four hours, and we all independently from each other came to those conclusions. At that time his life was in danger. And sure enough, a few days after we left the prison he entered a downward spiral.”

They are killing Julian Assange. Experts agree that they are killing him. Assange’s stroke is just another item on the mountain of evidence we already had for this.

The US-centralized power alliance is murdering a journalist, as surely as the Saudi regime murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The only difference is that Khashoggi was killed quickly by live dismemberment via bone saw while Assange is being killed slowly by lawfare.

The Assange extradition case is just the western version of the bone saw treatment. It’s no less barbaric, cruel, vicious and tyrannical; it’s just more media-friendly and better-suited for the Nice Guy Fascism of the western branches of the globe-spanning empire which rules our world. The US, UK and Australian governments are not hacking Assange to pieces in their coordinated campaign toward his destruction, but they may as well be.

The world recoiled in horror when it learned of Khashoggi’s grizzly end, and it won’t be long before the world begins recoiling in the same way to what has been done to Assange as well. Our society is becoming rapidly more conscious; we’re already ashamed of things we thought were fine just a few years ago. We realize now that men like Harvey Weinstein are predators and the Hollywood starlets people used to criticize for “sleeping their way to the top” were actually victims of assault. We realize now it was wrong to crack jokes about the intern Bill Clinton sexually abused. We realize that the “Leave Britney alone” kid everyone made fun of in 2007 was actually on to something. We realize now that it’s wrong to make people feel bad about their sexual orientation or sexual identity. Many movies made even ten or fifteen years ago are uncomfortable to watch now because of how unconscious they were of power dynamics we all see much more clearly now.

And, whether Assange survives this slow-motion assassination attempt or not, it won’t be long before society fully understands that their government and its allies actively conspired to murder a journalist for telling the truth.

Australia urged to support Assange

Dec 11, 21

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen Net

Australian Prime Minister is under criticism for not calling for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after the US overturned a block on his extradition from the UK.

Assange’s lawyers said they will appeal the ruling in the UK’s supreme court.

Australian politicians are urging the government to take a stance and demand the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

On Friday, the US government overturned a block on the extradition of Assange from Britain to face trial for publishing top-secret documents exposing war crimes perpetrated by the US and its allies across the globe, although options to appeal remain open to his legal team.

Washington presented the challenge after a lower court judge in London ruled in January that the 50-year-old journalist would be at a real and oppressive risk of suicide in the US justice system.

Assange’s lawyers said they will appeal the ruling in the UK’s supreme court.

The Australian federal independent MP Andrew Wilkie called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to demand the release of Assange and “end this lunacy.”

“Mr Assange should be looking forward to spending Christmas with his two young boys and his fiancee, but instead he’s facing a 175-year jail sentence and the very real possibility of living out his final days behind bars,” Wilkie said.

The independent MP accused the UK of being “a lackey of the United States and that Australia is delighted to go along for the ride.”

Similarly, the Greens senator Janet Rice said “foreign Minister Marise Payne must urgently speak to the US and tell them to drop these absurd charges and end Assange’s torture.”

For his part, UN’s special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer described the ruling as a “politically motivated verdict,” and criticized it.

Melzer told the DPA news agency that “This is a shortcoming for the British judiciary,.” stressing that Assange “is not in a condition to be extradited.”

The decision by a London court to allow Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, to be extradited to the United States is “shameful,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.

Assange has been in custody since 2019, despite the fact that he had served a previous sentence over breaching bail conditions in a separate case.

He had also spent seven years at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid his extradition to Sweden.

What is the European Union For?

DECEMBER 10, 2021

After all the initial euphoria and hopes placed upon the original concept of a non-aligned, social-democratic Euro-bloc, the reality has turned out somewhat differently.

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

In 2011 I drafted an article in an obscure publication called ‘Chartist’. It was entitled: ‘’Europe: The Unfinished Project’’. It ran as follows.

‘’At the present time the EU project seems to be stuck in no-man’s land, unable to press ahead with full political integration, or retreat back into a northern European protectionist Deutschmark zone and leaving the peripheral member states to the tender mercies of unfettered, globalized capitalism. However there seems to be a sufficient residue of the original EU idealism in the present stage of development to persevere further with the political struggle taking place.’’ (Ibid, page 19)

But alas one lives and learns.

I now believe that this view, justifiable and plausible enough at the time of writing, has now become difficult, if not actually impossible, to sustain. And the reason for this came in the next sentence, viz.

‘’One only has to consider the Anglo-American alternatives (to the Euro model) and globalization more generally to make this choice.’’

This was, however, based on the tacit assumption that the Euro model of capitalism was somehow fundamentally different from the Atlanticist model, a paradigm exemplified by the US/UK/EU axis. It was not. In the fullness of time this turned out to be a fundamental misconception. The UK of course has always been bound hand and foot to the US in terms of both foreign and economic policy with the ending of the system of imperial preference demanded by the US as the quid pro quo for the American loan negotiated by Keynes, shortly before his death in 1946; next came the American intervention in the Suez crisis in 1956 which effectively ended any independent UK foreign policy. This dog-like British devotion to American imperatives – the so-called ‘special-relationship’ – then extended with the neo-liberal turn and the Reagan-Thatcher counter-revolution of the 198Os. True, the UK was always more Atlanticist in its outlook than its European neighbours. However, continental Europe was to become as enamoured of Atlanticism as is the UK – and those more recent EU ex-communist states, probably even more so.

‘’It is not only the UK, which is Atlanticist, the continental European states are no less so … proof of this is given by the central position of NATO in this political construction. That a military alliance with a country outside the union (the US) has been integrated de facto into the European constitution – in terms of a common foreign and security policy – constitutes an unparalleled anomaly. For some European countries (Poland, and the Baltic States) NATO’s protection – that is, that of the United States against their ‘Russian enemy’ is more important than their adhesion to the European Union.’’ (Samir Amin – The Implosion of Capitalism – 2014)

Jens Stoltenberg – Head of NATO – Warmonger in Chief

This Americanization of Europe – this invisible annexation – was achieved by a combination of soft and hard power – a cultural, political, economic and militaristic assimilation of the old world by the new. It should be understood that the US does not do ‘partnerships;’ any geo-political relationships the US enters into with other states is always on the basis of ‘Me Tarzan, You Jane.’

‘’ It follows from this that the European Union nor any of its component states any longer have an independent foreign policy. The facts show that there is one single reality: alignment behind whatever Washington (perhaps in agreement with London) decides on its own.’’ (Amin – Ibid)

European Economic policy is similarly aligned to US interests and US practises. This is hardly surprising since the US has been the dominant economic force (although now in a declining trajectory) for the last 100 years. It has control of the world’s reserve currency which allows it to run persistent deficits on its current account since it can simply pay for its imports by printing its own currency. The US also tends to dominate the multilateral institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and WTO and having the largest bloc of votes in the IMF. American policymakers have used their influence in the IMF to pursue American financial and foreign policy objectives. The IMF offers larger loans to countries heavily indebted to American commercial banks than to other countries. In addition, the IMF offers larger loans to governments closely allied to the United States. (International Politics (2004) 41, 415–429). New York is the second largest financial centre (after London) with the most deeply liquid capital markets, and in absolute terms the US is – in nominal terms at least – the largest economy in the world. (Although in terms of purchasing power parity, the Chinese economy is now larger.)

Canary Wharf on the Thames. The world finance centre. (This is where my father who was a fireman in 1940 was trying to put out fires whilst the Luftwaffe were dropping incendiary bombs all around him. Somehow he survived and so did I!)

Additionally, the ‘soft power’ of the US (and UK) which includes, university economics departments, economic think-tanks, publications – The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Economist – Business and Financial circles, and the universal language of business and diplomacy – English – have effectively dominated and structured the global ideological discourse. The ‘Washington Consensus’ along with the deadly weapons of financial mass destruction – the lethal weapons of financialization – have come to dictate policy and policy making in the western world.

However, the neo-liberal, neo-conservative project was to run into difficulties as instanced in the twin crises besetting the Euro-Atlanticist bloc: namely, Greece and Ukraine.

Greece.

At the outset it was wholly predictable that the accession of Greece into the eurozone was going to lead to trouble. In order to qualify for admission Greece needed to demonstrate that it conformed to the Maastricht Criteria. The Maastricht rules threaten to slap hefty fines on euro member countries that exceed the budget deficit limit of three percent of gross domestic product. Additionally, total government debt mustn’t exceed 60 percent. It is interesting to note that both France and Germany both exceeded the Maastricht criteria, but there was a mute silence on this.

The Greeks had never managed to stick to the 60 percent debt limit, and they only adhered to the three percent deficit ceiling with the help of blatant balance sheet cosmetics.

Not to worry, in 2010 some creative accounting was supplied by the premier (infamous?) US Investment Bank, Goldman Sachs. GS’s selling point for financial legerdemain is well known; in this instance cross-currency swaps where government debt issued in dollars and yen was swapped for euro debt for a certain period – and then exchanged back into the original currencies at a later date. Hey, presto! The figures added up (for a while at least). Goldman Sachs collected a $15 billion kickback for their labours.

As members of the eurozone the Greeks then had access to cheap credit from eurozone banks, particularly French and German. But any deal between borrower and lender means that both should act responsibly. The creditworthiness of the borrower has to be assessed before the loan is made. But such rigorous investigations of this sort were not conducted; with the deregulation of finance such tiresome procedures had been done away with and banks lent to almost anyone who had a pulse

The rest as we say is history.

But if these lenders knew that borrowers would not be able to repay the loans, this would have amounted to ‘odious debt.’ That occurs when the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable. Vulture capitalism is another equally unprepossessing term for the policy toward Greece. Vulture funds target distressed firms and/or countries and buy their bonds and stocks at knock-down prices, then when the company fails, they sue the owner not only for the interest but also the principal. The Troika policy toward Greece has been one of Loan and Foreclosure.

If Greece remains in the eurozone it will continue to be bled white, privatised and ultimately dismembered. An example must be made to stop others in the southern periphery from getting ideas. And just as Mrs. Thatcher was the junior partner of Reagan in shaping the EU, Merkel was Obama’s enforcer in the Euro’s restive provinces.

It is interesting to note that one, Victoria Nuland, rabid neo-con – more of which below – Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State, visited Athens on 17 March 2015 and had talks with the Greek PM Tsipras regarding the present turmoil. Suffice it to say it was geopolitics and the retention of Greece in the EU and NATO she was concerned with, rather than debt. She no doubt reminded Tsipras that there might be consequences if Greece did not toe the EU line. As Assistant Secretary for regime change in the State Department the redoubtable Ms Nuland’s brief has been to threaten or bring about regime change in countries of which the US and its vassals disapprove.

Ukraine

Earlier the peripatetic Ms Nuland was also busy in Ukraine – which was not and is not an EU member – promoting regime change, a process which had been going on since 2004, with the so-called Orange Revolution, and later was responsible for the events on the Maidan which resulted in the installation of the oligarch-fascist regime paid for ($5 billion according to Ms N) in 2014, and whose leaders were hand-picked by herself and the US Ambassador in Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt. Since this the IMF largesse has kept on flowing and kept the Ukraine on a drip feed of IMF subventions with no end in sight.

It was interesting to note how the IMF’s treatment of the Kiev regime differs significantly to that meted out to Greece. Firstly a $40 billion aid package was granted to Ukraine over the next 4 years. Secondly Madame Lagarde has stated that “In the event that a negotiated settlement with private creditors is not reached and the country determines that it cannot service its debt, the Fund can lend to Ukraine consistent with its Lending-into-Arrears Policy” (12 June 2015) In other words when the Ukraine defaults, the IMF will – in violation of its constitution – come up with the cash. Moreover, the IMF is also not mandated to lend to states which are at war. Of course this is hardly an even-handed way of operating, but of course the IMF is a highly politicised and partisan institution and a key part of the neo-liberal, neo-conservative global establishment. Ukraine missed a bond coupon payment 17 July 2015, setting off a default on about $19 billion of debt, as a standoff with creditors shows no sign of abating – it was interesting to see what happened in light of Madame Lagarde’s statement. (1) See below

Well in the Spring of 2016 the Poroshenko regime was gifted yet another 600-million-euro loan to Ukraine. But of course it didn’t stop there. Considering this loan the overall amount of EU assistance to Ukraine added up to 2.8 billion euros since the Maidan events of 2014. This ‘assistance’ had been forthcoming in the same year, and this was the largest macro-economic assistance ever sent to a non-EU country. But it didn’t seem to make any difference.

Things are so bad in Ukraine that in spite of all the IMF largesse it now vies with Moldova as being the poorest country in Europe. The United Nations predicts that the country will lose a fifth of its population by 2050.
Moreover, Ukraine has also one of the highest crude death rates in the world. Poor health conditions and the widespread abuse of alcohol and drugs have led to a rise in Ukraine’s death rate. The country also has the highest global mortality rate from infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, meaning that inadequate medical care has contributed to the rise in Ukraine’s mortality rate. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated these health care Issues.

Ukraine’s fertility rate has also declined. According to the World Bank, Ukrainian families were having two children per household during the 1990s. Recent economic hardships, however, have forced families to have only one child per household. The effects of Ukraine’s struggling economy and the Donbass conflict have also discouraged many young couples from having children, and this has contributed to the decline in Ukraine’s fertility rate. I could go on, but it would be indecent to do so. Let’s just say that the EU-NATO meddling in the internal affairs of this beleaguered nation has resulted in an economic-political catastrophe.

Conclusions

The decision to expand the EU, and along with NATO, right up to Russia’s borders, initially under the guidance and policies of the Clinton administration, was a clear indication that the governments of the EU had come under American domination. With this decisive shift the EU project was over. It has been replaced by a North Atlantic military project under American command.

The hegemonistic strategy of the US – made abundantly clear in both the Wolfowitz doctrine and the more recent enunciations and actions of the dominant US war party, a coalition of neo-cons, liberal hawks and liberal interventionists – is clearly visible behind the disappearance of what was once the European project.

However it is quite possible that even against US wishes and geopolitical imperatives the EU might well fracture internally due to inter-state tensions and economic contradictions. One thing is certain: in its present structure the EU cannot endure, nor does it deserve to.

This 20/21st century ‘Great Game’ is being played out with one party getting stronger – the Eurasian bloc – and the other party – the Atlanticist bloc – becoming weaker.

It reminds me of a scene in the film ‘Apocalypse Now’ where Captain Willard (played by Martin Sheen) sums up the deteriorating US geopolitical situation (I can’t remember the exact words) but it went as something like this:. ‘’Charlie (the Vietcong) sits in the Jungle getting stronger, and I sit in the hotel room getting weaker.’’

True, very true.


NOTES

(1) When it comes down to enforcing nations to pay inter-governmental debts, the IMF and Paris Club hold the main leverage. As co-ordinator of central bank ‘stabilization’ loans (the neo-liberal euphemism for imposing austerity and destabilising debtor economies, Greece style) the IMF is able to withhold not only its own credit but also that of governments and global banks participating when debtor countries need refinancing. Those states who do not agree to privatise their infrastructure and sell it to western buyers are threatened with sanctions, backed by US sponsored ‘’regime change’’ and ‘’democracy promotion’’ Maidan-style. (Michael Hudson)

Did French President Macron’s Gulf Tour Complicate US Regional Policy?

9 DECEMBER 2021

These three outcomes could complicate the US’ regional policy and possibly even be interpreted as an asymmetrical form of revenge for stealing France’s historically unprecedented nuclear sub deal with Australia.

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

French President Emmanuel Macron visited the Gulf countries of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Saudi Arabia last weekend during a two-day trip. His regional tour resulted in several significant outcomes. The first is that Paris and Abu Dhabi clinched a €16 billion deal for 80 upgraded Rafale warplanes and 12 Airbus combat helicopters, which is France’s largest arms agreement to date. It comes a few months after the US and UK poached France’s €31 billion nuclear sub deal with Australia.

Second, Macron announced while in Doha that some EU countries were considering opening up a joint diplomatic mission in Kabul to liaise with the de facto Taliban-ruled government there. He noted, however, that this wouldn’t imply formal recognition of their authority. It should be remembered that the Qatari capital was the scene of peace talks between the US and the Taliban. It’s also where many foreign diplomats informally interact with the Taliban since the group has a political office there.

And finally, the French President held a joint phone call while in Riyadh between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati aimed at soothing over their recent differences. Another crisis between the two unexpectedly exploded after the Lebanese Information Minister (who resigned on Friday) earlier criticized the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Macron therefore showed that France is still crucial to managing disputes in its former Levantine colony.

These three outcomes could complicate the US’ regional policy and possibly even be interpreted as an asymmetrical form of revenge for stealing France’s historically unprecedented nuclear sub deal with Australia. To explain, despite a recent improvement in Emirati-Iranian relations, the former still remains suspicious of the latter’s alleged nuclear intentions and is skeptical of the US-led efforts to renegotiate the nuclear deal. France’s arming of the UAE is meant to maintain a regional military-strategic balance.

Regarding the second outcome, the US has pressured his partners to keep their distance from the Taliban until it capitulates to America’s pressure to unilaterally make far-reaching socio-political reforms. Macron’s pragmatic defiance of this demand is aimed at managing that war-torn country’s impending humanitarian crisis. It shows that France is behaving in an increasingly independent way, almost intentionally doing the opposite of what the US says in order to show its anger at AUKUS.

As for the last of Macron’s achievements, he’s signaling that France will compete to fill the diplomatic-strategic void left in the Levantine-Gulf regions following the US’ gradual disengagement from there as it pivots towards attempting to “contain” China in the Asia-Pacific. The US’ traditional partners like Saudi Arabia increasingly distrust it for that reason as well as its ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran. France therefore cleverly realized that it might be able to replace the US’ dwindling influence.

All of this complicates US policy. The declining unipolar hegemon no longer dominates the West Asian region in which it had previously exerted its dominance. Its flip-flopping policy there across the last three administrations (Obama-Trump-Biden) has concerned its traditional allies. America is no longer regarded as a reliable partner, but as a self-interested actor aiming solely to advance its short-term strategic interests. France is furious after AUKUS and actively competing to replace US influence there.

Its arming of the UAE is especially significant given the US’ prior claims of war crimes being committed by all sides of the Yemen War in which Abu Dhabi used to play a leading role. Washington has also recently criticized Riyadh for its alleged human rights violations, which would have been unthinkable under the prior administration. France, having recently been on the receiving end of the US’ selfish policies, is likely viewed as a sympathetic balancing force by the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

As French influence in West Asia rises in parallel with American influence’s decline there, Washington will have to learn to appreciate Paris and its traditional regional partners instead of taking them for granted. Its crazed quest to “contain” China at all costs has dealt enormous self-inflicted damage to US strategy in Europe (France) and West Asia (UAE, Saudi Arabia). The voids that it’s leaving in those parts of Eurasia are being filled by France and others, with unclear long-term strategic implications.

All that can be known for sure at this time is that American policy in those strategic spaces is being complicated by a combination of the self-inflicted damage that its “Pivot to Asia” has dealt and the geopolitical opportunism of France and others. New regional orders have a credible chance of emerging, with the end result being that multipolar processes there will accelerate. This will further erode America’s declining influence in Europe and West Asia, possibly opening up new opportunities for all.

How not to win an Olympic gold medal

December 8, 2021

Pepe Escobar

In the annals of diplomacy, the White House official confirmation of a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing might qualify at best as a disc thrower being hit by a boomerang.

Realpolitik minds struggle to find a point in this gratuitous provocation, intervening less than two months before the start of the show, on February 4, 2022 at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing.

According to White House reasoning, “the Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.”

To start with, no one among the Joe Biden handlers in the administration or any other officials were invited in the first place. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, remarked the US was “hyping a ‘diplomatic boycott’ without even being invited to the Games”.

Zhao also stressed the Games are not “a stage for political posturing”, and added the “blatant political provocation” constitutes “a serious affront to the 1.4 billion Chinese people.” He left hanging in the air the possibility of “resolute countermeasures”.

What that implies is the recent Xi-Biden virtual summit also melt in the air when it comes to promoting a more diplomatic entente cordiale. Predictably, Washington politicians who prevailed are the ones obsessed on demonizing Beijing using the perennial human rights pretext.

Top billing goes to Polish-American Democrat Senator Tom Malinowski from New Jersey, the vice-chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Malinowski is not strange to dodgy dealings. On October 21, 2021, the House Committee on Ethics issued a report confirming he had failed to properly disclose his stock trades since early 2020, as he

bought or sold as much as $1 million of stock in medical and tech companies that had a stake in the response to Covid-19. The trades were actually just one aspect of a stock buying and selling spree worth as much as $3.2 million.

All throughout 2021, with multiple ethics complaints and an ethics investigation piling up, Malinowski was forced to direct his financial advisor to cease with stock market shenanigans, and announced he set up a blind trust for his assets.

Yet Malinowski’s main line of business is actually China demonization.

In June, Malinowski, alongside Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) was the key articulator of a resolution  urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to move the 2022 Games “away from Beijing” unless the PRC government ended “ongoing crimes against the Uyghur people”. The Americans were supported by legislators in nine European nations, plus the European Parliament.

At the time, Malinowski said, “there’s no such thing as non-political games – dictatorships like China host the Olympics to validate their standing…even as they continue to commit crimes against their people.”

Malinowski is very close to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi – who is fervently pro-boycott. So this directive comes from the top of the Democrat leadership: the White House imprimatur was just a formality.

The “genocide” perpetrator

Considering the rolling color revolution in Hong Kong ended up as a total failure, human rights in Xinjiang remains a predictable pretext/target – on a par with the imminent “invasion” of Taiwan.

Arguably the best contextualized exposition of the real situation in Xinjiang is here. The “genocide” fallacy has been completely debunked by thorough independent analysis, as in here and here. The White House essentially regurgitates the “analysis” of a far-right religious nut first endorsed by Mike “we cheat, we lie, we steal” Pompeo. Talk about a continuity of government.

During the Cold War, the Olympics did become hostage to diplomatic boycotts. In 1980, the US under then president Jimmy Carter snubbed the Moscow Olympics along with other 64 nations in protest for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The USSR for its part, alongside the Iron Curtain, boycotted the 1984 games in Los Angeles.

What happens now falls under the seal of Cold War 2.0 and the demonization of China across the spectrum, mostly via Hybrid War tactics.

Xinjiang is a prime target not because of the Uyghurs, but because it is the strategic connector between western China and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) corridors across Central Asia, South Asia and West Asia all the way to Europe. BRI – which is the centerpiece Chinese foreign policy concept for the foreseeable future – is an absolute anathema in Washington.

The fact that the US has been staging countless, costly, devastating declinations of humanitarian imperialism in Muslim lands, directly and indirectly, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and beyond, but now, suddenly, is in tears about the fate of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, speaks for itself.

“Rights” groups barely disguised as CIA propaganda fronts have predictably been shrieking non-stop, urging the “international community” – an euphemism for NATOstan – to boycott the Beijing Olympics. These are irrelevant. Governments are a more serious matter.

Twenty nations refused to sign the Olympic Truce with China. This tradition, originating in Ancient Greece, makes sure that political upheaval does not interfere with sport. The – Western – justification for yet another provocation: we’re “sending a message” to Beijing.

In the UK, Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg remarked recently that “no tickets have been booked” for the Olympics. The Foreign Office said earlier this week, “no decisions have yet been made” about sending officials to Beijing.

France will “coordinate” with other EU members, although the Elysée made a point that ‘when we are worried about human rights, we tell the Chinese…We adopted sanctions on Xinjiang last March.” That was a reference to the US, UK, EU, Canada and a few other allies sanctioning some Chinese officials for the glaring fake news the White House officially describes as “genocide”.

So any adherence to the White House directive this coming February will come essentially from NATOstan members and of course AUKUS. In contrast, across Asia and the Global South, no one could be bothered. South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Choi Yong-sam, for instance, stressed that South Korea supports the Olympics.

President Putin for his part accepted a personal invitation from Xi Jinping, and he will be at the inauguration.

Extremely strict Covid-19 control measures will be enforced during the Olympics, so for the organizers a smaller number of Western official guests flying in, in terms of cost, is actually a benefit.

So in the end what’s left of this fit of hysteria? Elon Musk may have nailed it this week at a CEO Council Summit, when he remarked that China’s economy could soon be two or three times the size of the US economy. That hurts. And there’s no way any boycott will solve it.

Buckle up: Yemen is about to deliver a Saudi lesson

December 06 2021

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Every time the Saudis bomb Sanaa, the Yemeni resistance retaliates against Riyadh’s strategic vulnerabilities. With nonstop strikes on Yemen’s capital city today, brace yourself for a big Saudi explosion.

By Karim Shami

“Tell him Sanaa is far, Riyadh is getting closer” is what Yemenis call out whenever their capital city is targeted by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.

The ‘him’ in this battle cry refers to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), who launched the six-year aggression against the Arab world’s poorest nation.

After every Saudi hit on Sanaa, this phrase floods social media, imploring the Yemeni resistance to retaliate directly against Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital city.

As the Saudis and their dwindling allies pound Sanaa relentlessly in the last days of their failed war, one wonders why they don’t yet comprehend the retaliatory firepower they are inviting in response.

It started like this …

In March 2015, one year after Yemen’s resistance movement Ansarallah took control of the capital, a 10-nation coalition was formed led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and backed logistically and politically by both the US and UK. Shortly thereafter, fighter jets and ground forces began conducting operations across provinces surrounding the capital.

More than ten thousand airstrikes were reported by the close of 2016, with Sanaa taking the lion’s share – 2,600 raids – equivalent to one airstrike every 3.5 hours, every day for two consecutive years.

In parallel with the non-stop air operations, coalition-led land forces – mainly Yemeni mercenaries and Sudanese soldiers – wrested thousands of square kilometers from Ansarallah’s control.

Ansarallah, which found itself governing populations for the first time in its short history, had only secured their authority in Sanaa one year before the aggression. The movement had not yet had the time or resources to build their infrastructure, economy, military power, and foreign policies/connections.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

A game-changing 2018

By 2018, the war that was ‘supposed to take weeks to months at most’ – and according to MbS himself, just “a few days” – had become long, directionless, and costly, especially after Saudi/UAE hostilities against Qatar surfaced and blew up Gulf cohesion.

The 10-nation military alliance against Yemeni independence, once consisting of Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Morocco, Senegal and the Gulf states (except Oman) shrank overnight to two: the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

By 2018, Saudi-backed militias were entrenched in Sanaa’s west (Hodeidah) and east (Marib), and on Saudi Arabia’s southern borders, adjacent to Ansarallah’s stronghold in northern Yemen’s Saada Province. The UAE had its own undisclosed interests, and moved its militias primarily to the south, both for protection and to control Yemen’s strategic ports and waterways.

Ansarallah had already absorbed the shock of three years of foreign aggression, and gained valuable experience in both combat and military tactics. Its weapons manufacturing (mainly ballistic missiles and drones) capabilities and technological advances had steadily grown within the landlocked environs of Sanaa – under siege by the coalition and its western allies since the onset of war.

So, by 2018, Ansarallah was primed and ready to change the direction of the war from a purely defensive one to launching proactive hit-and-run battles.

The game changer in the Yemen war came in 2019, fast and hard. After four years of defense, Ansarallah began launching a series of operations named ‘Balance of Deterrence.’ The first of these, on 17 August, was the first operation where Yemen’s resistance launched homemade and modified ballistic missiles alongside tens of suicide drones at targets 1200km distance away, equivalent to the distance between London to Madrid or New York to Miami.

The targets were Saudi Arabia’s ARAMCO Sheba oil fields and refineries on the Saudi–UAE borders.

The second operation, which took place on 14 September, hit ARAMCO facilities in Saudi Arabia’s eastern-most territories, in Dammam. This time the strikes were on a spectacular scale and caught the world’s attention in a big way; photos and videos flew across social media before the Saudis had time to bury the details.

It took another five similar operations to discipline the Saudis to understand that targeting Sanaa would trigger a retaliation into the strategic depth of Saudi Arabia. In the aftermath of Ansarallah’s retaliatory strikes, air raids on Sanaa dropped from around one strike every three hours to three strikes per year.

Credit: almasirah.net

The war’s final chapter looms

After rapid advances in 2018 and targeted retaliatory strikes in 2019-20, Ansarallah regained most of the territories they had lost, leaving only Marib, the last stronghold of the Saudis in Yemen’s east, which is expected to be liberated imminently.

Last month, Saudi and Emirati-backed militias and mercenaries fled Hodeidah – the last Saudi stronghold in Yemen’s west – after Ansarallah announced plans to liberate the city and target the territory of the UAE.

With that stroke, the Saudis lost their footing in Yemen. Militarily speaking, foreign land forces have already lost the war and now pose zero threats to the Ansarallah-led government.

Worse yet, in 2021, for the first time in the six-year war, Yemenis in coalition-controlled provinces launched multiple public protests, complaining that the quality of life in Ansarallah-ruled areas was superior than theirs, with lower crime rates, a stable currency and cheaper raw materials available to those citizens.

Rather than scurrying to carve out a face-saving exit from this certain defeat, Riyadh has instead begun to escalate air raids on Sanaa and Marib in a ‘throw the kitchen sink at the problem’ attempt to weaken Ansarallah, consequences be damned.

This brings us to 19 November 2021 when Ansarallah made its 8th Balance of Deterrence statement (mentioned above) and launched strategic retaliatory strikes against military targets in Riyadh, Jeddah, Abha, Jizan, and Najran to remind the Saudis of its red lines.

The Saudis, irrationally, continue to pound populations in Sanaa with little regard for the retaliatory consequences or the global perception of this brutality. On 23 November, coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki even tried to justify bombing densely-populated areas by alleging that Ansarallah’s “military sites have taken hospitals, organizations, and civilians as human shields.”

The war is as good as over, so why these unnecessary air raids on Sanaa? Why would Saudi Arabia deliberately provoke and invite military strikes against Riyadh and ARAMCO? Why not instead exit Yemen overnight, in much the same way the US did in Afghanistan? Embarrassing as it may be, a quick, unpublicized retreat would at least keep Saudi cities protected.

This last-ditch escalation has nothing to do with war strategy, leverage-building or domestic politics.

A country of 2.1 million square kilometers boasting a population of 20 million nationals and 10 million foreigners with large oil and mineral reserves, Saudi Arabia has no parliament, no elections, and no democratic processes whatsoever.

All internal and external policies are made by one man, Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, deputy prime minister, minister of defense, chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, and chairman of the Council of Political and Security Affairs.

MbS is a punisher. He ordered the murder and dismemberment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He kidnapped and beat up Lebanon’s former prime minister Saad Hariri before forcing him to broadcast his resignation from Riyadh. He besieged Qatar, destabilized Iraq, and boycotted all of Lebanon because of a single comment on the Yemen war. The list goes on.

A few years back, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor of former US president Barack Obama, recounted a chilling story during his boss’s farewell visit to Riyadh. As Obama protested the recent execution of 47 dissidents in the kingdom to King Salman, the then-deputy crown prince MbS stood up from his spectator’s seat and lectured the US president thus:

You don’t understand the Saudi justice system, he said. He argued that the Saudi public demanded vengeance against criminals, and those who had been beheaded had to be killed for the sake of stability in the kingdom.”

MbS may simply have reverted to ‘punisher’ mode in these last weeks and months of his very personal war in Yemen. ‘Vengeance’ for his defeat is merited; and killing is “for the sake of stability in the kingdom.”

But bombing Sanaa will also justify ‘Balance of Deterrence 9,’ a new set of advanced retaliatory strikes yet to be announced by Ansarallah.

Undoubtedly, ARAMCO and major Saudi cities will be targeted in the period ahead. Every ballistic missile reaching the kingdom of sand will result in a weaker Saudi Arabia and stronger Yemen, giving Ansarallah a reason to discipline the Saudis at present, and perhaps, to invade them in the future. Thus, the quote “Sanaa is far, Riyadh is getting closer” was born.

Credit: Cartoonist Kamal Sharaf; @kamalsharaf on Twitter

Under the command of MbS, the Saudis are unlikely to leave Yemen alone even if the war concludes – it will try to do what it has always done in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Qatar, and Syria, dividing populations with money and weapons.

But Yemen is different. Ansarallah will implement their own institutions, unlike those other nations where the US and its regional allies remain to engineer laws and policies to ensure a country’s dependence and stagnation once they depart. Yemen, after the war, will be more like Iran in its hostility towards and determination to break with externally-imposed agendas.

Buckle your seatbelt. Retaliation and revolution is about to be unharnessed in the Arabian Peninsula.

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

الفيلم الوثائقي “جمال عبد الناصر- الأسطورة والزعيم

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