هل تستغلّ كورونا لشنّ عدوان على محور المقاومة؟

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

تتزايد موجات التهويل بشنّ حرب على مكوّنات محور المقاومة بشكل متوازٍ مع انشغال العالم بالمواجهة القاسية مع الوباء الذي يجتاحه ويصيب مئات الآلاف ويقتل عشرات الآلاف من البشر في معظم أنحاء المعمورة عامة، وفي العالم المصنّف بأنه العالم الأوّل من حيث التقدّم والحضارة خاصة أميركا وأوروبا الغربية.

فمن مسرّب لقول بأنّ أميركا تتحضّر لشنّ حرب صاعقة مدمّرة في العراق تحقق لها العودة لاحتلاله بصيغة مطوّرة تختلف عن صيغة الاحتلال الأولى، إلى قول بأنّ الحرب الفعلية ستكون أميركية «إسرائيلية» ضدّ إيران المنشغلة بمواجهة الحرب على كورونا في ظلّ تشديد التدابير الوحشية التي تتخذها أميركا ضدّها تحت مسمّى العقوبات، إلى رأي يروّج لفرضية أقدام «إسرائيل» على استغلال فرصة انشغال حزب الله ولبنان بمواجهة كورونا وللقيام بحرب خاطفة ضدّه تحقق لها ما فشلت في تحقيقه من أهداف منذ 20 عاماً، إلى رأي أخير يتضمّن القول إنّ «إسرائيل» ستجد في غزة الحلقة الضعيفة التي تغريها بالعدوان عليها وتسجيل نقاط قوّة وردع تحتاج اليها في ظلّ أزمتها الداخلية. فهل هذه الفرضيات قابلة للتنفيذ؟ وهل الحرب بذاتها فرضية محتملة في ظلّ هذه الظروف؟

قبل مناقشة تلك الفرضيات لا بدّ من التذكير بشروط يفترض تحققها للقيام بأيّ هجوم من طرف ضدّ آخر وفي طليعة هذه الشروط وجوب امتلاك المهاجم القدرة على تحقيق الإنجاز العسكري المحدّد هدفاً لهجومه (نقول القدرة وليس القوّة، لأن المعوّل عليه هنا هو القدرة أيّ تناسب القوة المتوفرة مع الهدف المحدّد ما يعني أخذ قوة العدو الدفاعية بعين الاعتبار عندما نقيّم القدرة)؛ أما الشرط الثاني فيتمثل بقدرة المهاجم على حسم الحرب ووقفها في التوقيت الذي يريد، ما يعني وجوب امتلاكه القدرة على اقتياد الخصم إلى الانهيار الإدراكي او الميداني الذي يجبره على أن يتوقف عن القتال بمجرد ان يعلن المهاجم انتهاء عملياته العسكرية، أما الثالث فهو امتلاك المهاجم المناعة الدفاعية الكافية التي يحتاجها لاحتواء ردة فعل العدو ومنع الأخير من إنزال أضرار به لا يقوى على تحمّلها، أما الأخير فيتصل بالبيئة الدولية الإقليمية والعامة التي تتيح للمهاجم أن يستثمر نتائج انتصاره وان يصرف إنجازه الميداني (إذا تحقق) في السياسة. فهل هذه الشروط متحققة في الواقع القائم؟

بداية لا ننكر أبداً بأنّ الجهات الأربع (إيران العراق لبنان غزة) المحتمل استهدافها بعدوان تقوم به أميركا و»إسرائيل» مجتمعتين او منفردتين، أنّ هذه الجهات مشغولة وبمستويات متفاوتة بمواجهة جائحة كورونا، ولكن يجب ان نذكّر أيضاً بأنّ أميركا و»إسرائيل» تترنحان تحت ضربات هذا الفيروس، وبالتالي انّ القول بالانشغال يشمل الجميع فعلياً، وتتقدّم أميركا و»إسرائيل» الجمع المحتمل استهدافه بدرجة الانشغال، حيث انّ في أميركا وحدها ربع الإصابات التي حلّت بكلّ العالم (330 ألف من أصل مليون و300 ألف في العالم). وانّ كورونا اقتحم جيوش أميركا و»إسرائيل» وأثر في الجهوزية القتالية والمستوى المعنوي فيهما بشكل بالغ السلبيّة.

ومن جهة أخرى، فإنّ هذه الجائحة فضحت أميركا وأظهرت هشاشة الوضع الداخلي فيها وهشاشة التماسك الوطني بين ولاياتها وهشاشة الروابط التحالفية خاصة مع أوروبا فضلاً عن كشفها المستوى اللاأخلاقي في التعامل مع الإنسان عامة ومع حلفائها خاصة، حيث إنّ كورونا أظهر انّ هذه التي تسمّى الولايات المتحدة الأميركية او التي تريد أن تحكم العالم وتسيطر على مقدّراته هي كيان واهن في الوضع الداخلي وعلى المستوى التحالفي والوطني والصحي والأخلاقي وانّ الهيبة التي أرادت أميركا ان تحكم العالم بها هي هيبة مصطنعة كاذبة وقد سقطت فعلياً، ولم يكن سقوطها في قاعدة عين الأسد في العراق إلا البداية التي جاءت كورونا لتعززها. وبالتالي نقول إنّ كياناً واهناً أمام وباء نجح الآخرون في مواجهته حيث عجزت أميركا وتسرّب إلى جيشها وأنهك شعبها، انّ كياناً هذه حاله ليس هو الكيان الممتلك قدرة الذهاب إلى حرب. وما نقوله عن أميركا ينسحب على «إسرائيل» وإنْ كان من أبواب أخرى ومستويات مختلفة.

وعلى جبهة الأطراف المستهدفين بالعدوان المبحوث فيه، نجد انّ كورونا لم تشغلهم إلى حدّ يصرفهم عن إدارة حرب دفاعية ناجحة خاصة انّ القوى المخصّصة لمواجهة العدوان ليست هي نفسها المنوط بها الاتقاء من الفيروس، وان كانت القيادة قد تخصّص جزءاً من وقتها لهذه المهمة الطارئة، لكن ذلك لا يعيق عملها الرئيسي في المهمة الدفاعية، ما يعني انّ المراهنة على الانشغال بمواجهة كورونا وعلى أهميته هو رهان في غير محله.

ونعود إلى الشروط المتقدّم ذكرها ولنتوقف فيها خاصة عند أمرين الأول ردة فعل المعتدى عليه، والثاني قدراته على الاستمرار في الميدان. وهنا لن نصرف كثير وقت في النقاش حول الموضوع بعد أن بات من المسلم به انّ «إسرائيل» عجزت عن تأمين الدفاع المتين على الجبهة الداخلية وفشلت في الوصول إلى حالة «شعب يعمل تحت النار»، ما يعني انّ الحرب إذا وقعت فستضعها بين حصارين حصار نار المقاومة التي ستطال كلّ هدف في فلسطين المحتلة صغيراً كان أم كبيراً، وحصار فيروس كورونا الذي اقتحم أيضاً الجيش الإسرائيلي ويبدو أنه طال القيادة في المستويين العسكري والسياسي.

أما أميركا التي لها في منطقة الشرق الأوسط ما يناهز السبعين ألف عسكري منتشرين في 54 قاعدة عسكرية برية أساسية (يُضاف اليها القواعد الظرفية الصغيرة وهي كثيرة وعددها متحرّك) وأكثر من 60 قطعة بحرية موزعة على 3 أساطيل، فإنها باتت تعلم بعد صفعة عين الأسد أنها لا تستطيع أن تطمئن إلى الدفاع عن وجودها هذا بشكل محكم وآمن يحقق الطمأنينة، وأنّ 4 منصات باتريوت نشرت حديثاً في العراق لن تقدّم ولن تؤخّر. ويبقى ان نشير إلى الأمر الثاني لنؤكد قطعاً بانّ أيّاً من أميركا و»إسرائيل» لن تستطيعا حسم الحرب ووقفها في التوقيت الملائم لهما، وهنا تكون الكارثة التي يكفي فيها أن ينظر إلى حالة أفغانستان او اليمن ليُعرَف نموذج مصغر لها.

يقودنا هذا إلى القول إلى أنّ التهويل بالحرب من قبل أميركا و»إسرائيل» هو عمل إعلامي نفسي يدخل في إطار الحرب النفسية غير القابلة للتحوّل إلى حرب في الميدان العسكري، وانّ كلاً من «إسرائيل» وأميركا بحاجة لهذا التهويل بالحرب للضغط في السياسة او لحجب عيوب الأشغال عن أزمات وإخفاقات او لتغطية انسحاب وانزياح او لصيانة قدرات ردعية تآكلت او استعادة لهيبة تهشمت في الآونة الأخيرة، ثم جاء فيروس كورونا ليكشف مقدار الوهن لدى أميركا التي انقلب رئيسها إلى ممثل يثير السخرية في معرض إدارته للحرب على هذا الوباء.

وعليه نقول في زمن سقطت فيه الأقنعة وكشفت فيه الحقائق وتآكلت فيه الهيبة التي تبيّن أنها ليست واقعية، في زمن يستعدّ فيه العالم للدخول في نظام ما بعد كورونا، زمن تعاد فيه صياغة التحالفات ورسم الخرائط الاستراتيجية الجديدة تسقط فيه أحلاف وتقوم أخرى، يكون انتحارياً من يقدم على حرب لا يضمن حسمها لصالحه وفوزه فيها بدون أيّ شك، وانّ أيّاً من أميركا او «إسرائيل» ليستا في هذا الوضع وليستا على هذه القدرة، ما يجعلنا نستبعد بشكل شبه قاطع الحرب التي تهوّل بها أميركا و»إسرائيل» لإنزال ضربة قاصمة بمحور المقاومة، أما إنْ حصلت المجازفة وارتكب الخطأ الاستراتيجي وكانت الحماقة هي المسيّرة لذوي الشأن واتخذ القرار الانتحاري فإنها ستكون حرب تحرير «الشرق الأوسط» من الوجود الأجنبي الاستعماري، وهذا ما يجب أن لا يثنسى من مواقف قادة المقاومة ومحورها تلك المواقف التي أطلقت على ألسنة أولئك القادة من إيران الى العراق ولبنان وغزة واليمن…

*أستاذ جامعي وخبير استراتيجي.

US Knew of a Novel Coronavirus Threat, Failed to Prepare

By Stephen Lendman

Source

According to a Nation magazine report, Trump deceived the public by falsely claiming the emergence and spread of COVID-19 was “unforeseen,” that it “came out of nowhere.”

The Nation obtained a 2017 Pentagon draft report that refutes his Big Lie.

Saying “(t)he most likely and significant threat is a novel respiratory disease, particularly a novel influenza disease” should have alerted Trump regime policymakers to prepare for outbreaks to be ready to respond as needed when they occurred.

They slept instead, leaving the nation and its people unprepared to deal with what’s happening and worsening daily. More on this below.

There are six known coronavirus strains that can infect humans. Most people contract one or more strains in their lifetimes.

They cause mild to moderate to more serious upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a novel/highly contagious strain.

According to the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases, coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s.

They’re “closely monitored by public health officials” because strains can exist anywhere.

Novel COVID-19 isn’t new. It infected animals for some time. The virus is able to spread to humans or the other way around.

Viruses can mutate into new forms. According to Science Magazine, the US leads in COVID-19 cases but trails many other nations in its response.

“America is first, and not in a good way,” it reported, adding:

The Trump regime’s response is “fragmented, chaotic, and plagued by con­tradictory messaging from political lead­ers.” 

Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm lamented that “(w)e don’t have a national plan. We are going from press conference to press conference and crisis to crisis…trying to understand our response.”

Citing 12 mathematical models produced by infectious diseases scientists, Science Magazine said they concluded that the US could have “millions of (COVID-19) infected people” without a large-scale national program to contain outbreaks.

Instead of conflicting messages from Trump and others around him, political scientist Scott Greer stressed that “(r)ule one of communication (at a time like now is to) have a message and stick to it.”

Instead Trump, state, and local officials are sending mixed messages, ranging from “indifference to alarm.”

Biologist Carl Bergstrom gave an example, saying: “Yesterday, I was supposed to be in church on Easter, and now all of a sudden New York’s under quarantine.”

Lack of clarity, focus, and maximum effort on the problem is “hemorrhaging” public trust.

Lack of national leadership and coordination has states and communities going their own way.

The Trump regime “signaled it will let governors make their own decisions” instead of directing a national effort to combat the virus, said Science Magazine.

According to epidemiologist William Hanage, “(t)he closest comparison here, in terms of national mobilization, is a war. And there is no way the United States would fight a war as 50 separate states.”

Nation magazine explained that the Pentagon plan about foreknowledge of a serious coronavirus outbreak was dated January 6, 2017, days before Trump took office. It’s titled: 

“USNORTHCOM Branch Plan 3560: Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Disease Response”

The Nation got the plan from a Pentagon official who remains anonymous to avoid possible punitive action for releasing it.

Former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Infectious Diseases and Countermeasures Division Denis Kaufman said the following:

“The Intelligence Community has warned about the threat from highly pathogenic influenza viruses for two decades at least. They have warned about coronaviruses for at least five years,” adding:

“There have been recent pronouncements that the coronavirus pandemic represents an intelligence failure…It’s letting people who ignored intelligence warnings off the hook.”

The Pentagon predicted large-scale outbreaks and shortages of critical personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical staff and the public.

The Pentagon report states the following:

“Competition for, and scarcity of resources will include…non-pharmaceutical MCM (Medical Countermeasures) (e.g., ventilators, devices, personal protective equipment such as face masks and gloves), medical equipment, and logistical support. This will have a significant impact on the availability of the global workforce.”

It explains how outbreaks of infectious disease can rapidly spread.

It warned that supplies of ventilators, face masks, gloves, and other protective equipment are nearly depleted.

It explained that US medical facilities will be unable to handle the volume of coronavirus patients needing treatment.

They lack enough hospital beds, equipment, drugs, and related supplies if outbreaks reach epidemic levels.

Scarcity worldwide will cause competition among nations to get as much of what they need as possible.

The Nation said the “Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”

Its report includes the full draft Pentagon report, labelled “Unclassified/For Official Use Only.”

 

‘STRANGE TIMES’: RUSSIA IS SENDING MEDICAL AID TO U.S. TO HELP IT WITH COVID-19 CRSISIS

South Front

'Strange Times': Russia Is Sending Medical Aid To U.S. To Help It With COVID-19 Crsisis
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The COVID-19 outbreak has led to some curious changes in relations between the countries. For example, Russia is now sending medical aid to the United States.
Russia sent a plane with medical equipment to the United States amid the pandemic of COVID-19, US President Donald Trump told reporters on March 30th.
“I have to say, we’ve had great relationships with a lot of countries. China sent us some stuff,” he told reporters during a briefing at the White House. “Russia sent us a very, very large plane load of things. Medical equipment. Very nice.”
He did not go into further details about Russia’s aid.
“Other countries sent us things that I was very surprised at, very happy surprised,” the US leader continued.
🇷🇺🇺🇸 Following phone talk between Presidents & @realDonaldTrump sends largest cargo aircraft An-124 Ruslan ✈️ with 😷 medical supplies (masks + equipment) to to help fight pandemic, save lives of American citizens. 🤝 The plane is en route

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The fact that Moscow helps Washington in the situation with the coronavirus became known the day before.
The leaders of the two countries talked on the phone and noted the importance of international cooperation in a pandemic.
“The two presidents expressed serious concern over the scale of the spread of the coronavirus in the world and informed each other about measures taken in Russia and the United States to counter this threat. Opportunities for closer cooperation between the two countries on this problem were discussed.
They also exchanged views on the current state of the global oil market and agreed that Russian and American energy ministers should hold consultations on this topic.
Certain bilateral issues were also addressed.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump agreed to keep in contact.
On March 31, the Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, announced that a Russian plane with medical aid will soon depart to the United States (indicating that there could be 2 planes: 1st – delivered before March 30, 2nd – delivered after March 31). He hoped the United States might also be able to provide medical help to Russia if necessary when the time came.
“It is important to note that when offering assistance to US colleagues, the president (Putin) assumes that when US manufacturers of medical equipment and materials gain momentum, they will also be able to reciprocate if necessary,” Peskov was cited as saying.
Peskov, who noted difficulties expediting the aid to the United States thrown up by some US officials, was quoted as saying that Russia and China cooperated in a similar way because “at a time when the current situation affects everyone without exception … there is no alternative to working together in a spirit of partnership and mutual assistance”.
The Russian Aerospace Forces’ An-124-100 Ruslan set off for the United States included medical masks and medical equipment.
To add to the global anxiety regarding COVID-19, the World Health Organization has ceased to publish information on the number of people who have recovered from the infection around the world, because not all countries provide it, WHO official spokesman Tarik Yazarevich explained.
“With regard to cases of recovery outside of China, we do not have single data from various sources about how many officially confirmed cases of recovery from COVID-19, because not all countries systematically report these data to us. In many countries, people have not yet a chance to get better, so as the situation develops, we may have new data,” he said.
Yazarevich reminded that COVID-19 is a new disease, therefore it is necessary to obtain more epidemiological information on how the immunity to the virus is generated and how it can be determined that the patient has fully recovered.
According to WHO recommendations, a patient can be discharged from the hospital after conducting two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
'Strange Times': Russia Is Sending Medical Aid To U.S. To Help It With COVID-19 Crsisis
Click to see full-size image
The current situation, as of April 1st is this: currently, the US has the most cases worldwide, sitting at 188,530, after recording 24,742 on March 31st.
Italy is 2nd, and the numbers of recorded cases appear to be gradually going down, with fatalities remaining relatively high, meaning that the peak might be drawing much closer, as initially expected.
Spain is likely to overtake Italy in the total number of cases in just a matter of days, while also recording high numbers of fatalities, but also high numbers of recoveries.
Notably, the US currently has more total cases than Italy and China combined, which until several days ago had more total cases separately.
Russia sits at 2,337 cases, and 17 fatalities, having recorded 501 new cases on March 31st, and it might appear that the measures undertaken may be justified, but time will tell.
Regardless, Moscow is providing assistance to Italy, the US, and Serbia asked for help, as well. Potentially after the COVID-19 hysteria passes, a large-scale media campaign will be required to switch the narrative to the US, or the collective “West” having dealt with the pandemic, and find out ways to accuse Russia and China of stoking it further.
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As the World Turns Its Attention to the Pandemic, Israel Is Moving Forward with Military Raids

By Lucas Leiroz

Source

Jenin West Bank 15839

The West Bank situation is becoming increasingly complicated amid the coronavirus pandemic and territorial disputes between Palestinians and Israelis. At first, the Palestinian Authority and Israel showed signs of cooperation in combating the pandemic. A few weeks ago, joint measures were announced between both sides to contain the epidemic of the new coronavirus in the region. The measures include distribution of cleaning and personal hygiene materials, in addition to virus testing kits and medical equipment.

On the part of Tel Aviv, the total closure of the West Bank was promoted, allowing, however, access for Palestinian workers involved in the construction and agriculture sectors to the Jewish state, which is why the proposal was well accepted by Ramallah. On the part of the Palestinians, the West Bank has also been blocked, but only partially and for two weeks, since last Sunday (March 22), in addition to the implementation of a series of control and quarantine measures.

However, efforts to contain the pandemic have not prevented Israeli incursions into the region, which have increased recently. Ibrahim Melhim, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, acknowledged Israeli efforts to contain the coronavirus in the country and in Palestine, but criticized the unstoppable incursions against the Palestinians. “We have very strong round-the-clock coordination with the Israeli side to prevent the coronavirus from spreading (…) At the same time, Israel continues to operate in the Palestinian Territories as if there is no coronavirus crisis (…) They [Israeli forces] continue their raids across the West Bank, arresting people and confiscating lands, and that harms the existing coordination between the PA and Israel putting an additional burden on the Palestinian Authority,” said the spokesman.

Apparently, Israel pretends to collaborate with Palestine to stop the pandemic, when, in fact, it freely promotes its military maneuvers in the region, which go unnoticed by the mainstream media, strongly focused on covering the viral tragedy. In addition, Tel Aviv’s own collaboration to control COVID-19 in the region seems extremely limited. The blocking measures made it impossible, for example, for doctors from the “Physicians for Human Rights” (an Israeli NGO that serves Palestinians free of charge) to move alongside the West Bank, clearly hampering medical care in the region.

Mention should also be made of the fact that Israel, not Palestine, is the major focus of infections by the new coronavirus in the region. Israel has already more than 1.000 officially reported cases of the disease, in addition to one death, and several suspicions. In contrast, Palestine has around 60 infected people. It is clear from these data that the most stringent containment measures should come exclusively from Ramallah, since the Israeli military presence in the region itself poses a serious risk to Palestinian public health.

According to a survey by the Truman Institute for Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 63% of Israelis say Israel must help Palestinians during the coronavirus crisis. Vered Vinitsky-Serousse, president of the Institute, said that “the majority of Israelis believe that, when necessary, the government should devise preventive measures to help Palestinians during the Covid-19 epidemic.” The big problem, however, is how these joint maneuvers are conducted. Perhaps the first step to be taken in establishing joint measures is the definitive and immediate end to military incursions in the region, which constantly bring insecurity and terror to the Palestinian people.

The situation of tensions in the region must still be read in the context of the so-called “Deal of the Century”, the “peace” proposal for the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians announced by American President Donald Trump. The “agreement” was celebrated unilaterally by the Washigton-Tel Aviv axis, with no participation of Palestinians, which is why it was rejected by the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League. The document foresaw the annexation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, leaving around 70% of the region under Palestinian rule – a figure much lower than that proposed by all previous attempts to resolve the conflict. Everything indicates that Israel will not stop its attempts to occupy that territory as much as possible.

It is in this context that the “joint” actions between Israelis and Palestinians must be analyzed with skepticism and suspicion. Are these pandemic containment measures really good, even when behind them the Israeli army expands its occupation in the region with increasingly aggressive incursions? Also, to what extent does Palestine benefit from the help of these joint actions when Israel has an absurdly greater number of infected people? Would Israel be able to help the Palestinians? Or would that aid be a mask for such military incursions? All of these are valid questions.

It is also worth remembering that a few weeks ago, at the end of February, Israel announced the construction of more than 2.000 new settlements in Palestinian territories – and on the same occasion, Netanyahu authorized the construction of other 7.000 units in the East Jerusalem region. These data mean that Israel’s aggressiveness against the Palestinians was increasing recently. Did this aggression really disappear from Tel Aviv’s plans in the face of a “commotion” with public health in Palestine (which is much better than the situation in Israel)? Perhaps, the mainstream media and Human Rights observers should divide their attention between the coronavirus and the conflict in Palestine, before more serious clashes erupt.

In a Europe Closed Down by the Coronavirus the EU Opens its Doors to the US Army. Could the Defender become the Invader of Europe?

By Manlio Dinucci

Source

The Ministers for Defence of the 27 countries of the EU, 22 of which are also members of NATO, met on 4 and 5 March in Zagreb, Croatia. The central theme of the meeting (in which Lorenzo Guerini of the Democratic Party represented Italy) was not to seek a response to the Coronavirus crisis which is jamming up civil mobility, but how best to develop « military mobility ». The decisive test is the Defender Europe 20 exercise, scheduled for April and May. The General Secretary of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, who took part in the EU meeting, défines it as « the largest deployment of US forces in Europe since the end of the Cold War ».

The 20,000 soldiers who, with 10,000 others already on site, and 7,000 NATO allies, are presently arriving in Europe from the USA, informs the US Army Europe. They are to deploy « throughout the European region ». The US forces are bringing with them 33,000 pieces of military equipment, from personal weapons to Abrams assault tanks. It is obvious that they will therefore need adequate infrastructures for their transport. But there is a problem, as revealed by a report by the European Parliament (February 2020): « Since the 1990’s, European infrastructures have been developed only for civil usage. However, military mobility has become a key question for NATO. As the Alliance lacks the tools to improve military mobility in Europe, the European Union, which does possess the legislative and financial tools to do so, plays an indispensable role ».

The Action Plan on Military Mobility, presented by the European Commission in 2018, plans to modify «those infrastructures which are not adapted to the weight and dimensions of military vehicles ». For example, if a bridge is unable to support the weight of a column of tanks, it must be reinforced or rebuilt. On the basis of this criterion, the test for the strength of the new bridge, which in Gênes will replace the collapsed Morandi bridge, will have to be carried out with Abrams tanks weighing 70 tonnes each. These modifications, which are useless for civil purposes, will require massive expenditure to be assumed by the member countries, with a « possible financial contribution by the EU ».

The European Commission has provided for a primary allocation of 30 billion Euros – this is public money taken from our pockets. The Plan also intends to « simplify the Customs formalities for military operations and for the transport of dangerous military-style merchandise ».

The US Army Europe has demanded the institution of a « Military Schengen Zone », with the difference that it will not be people who will be allowed to travel unhindered, but tanks.

The Defender Europe 20 exercise – as was explained during the meeting in Zagreb – « will enable the identification of all obstacles to military mobility, which the EU will have to remove ».

The transport network of the EU will therefore be tested by 30,000 US soldiers, who will « deploy throughout the European region », exempted of the Coronavirus standards. This is confirmed by a video showing the first 200 soldiers of the US Army Europe arriving in Bavaria on 6 March. While in Lombardy, only a few hundred kilometres away, more severe standards are in place, in Bavaria, where the first European outbreak of Coronavirus was noted, US soldiers just off the plane shook hands with German authorities and kissed the comrades without any masks. Spontaneous question – could they already be vaccinated against the Coronavirus?

Besides, we might ask ourselves what could be the purpose of « the largest deployment of US forces in Europe since the end of the Cold War », officially to « protect Europe from any potential threats » (with  a clear reference to the « Russian menace »), at the moment when Europe is in crisis  because of the threat of the Coronavirus (there is even one case at NATO headquarters in Brussels). And since the US Army Europe informs us that « movements of troops and equipement in Europe will last until July », we can only wonder if all of the 20,000 US soldiers will go back to their Homeland, or will some of them stay behind with their weapons.

Could the Defender become the Invader of Europe?

MbS condition will get worse after Salman death: Paul Pillar

March 13, 2020 – 12:42

TEHRAN – Professor Paul Pillar, who was CIA intelligence analyst for 28 years, tells that the death of Salman and the need to select a new king will bring to a head the competition between MBS and those members of the royal family who oppose his acquisition of absolute power.

Pillar says “But he has been able to do what he has done because his father, King Salman, has permitted him to grab power.”  

He also adds that “Once Salman is gone, other family members may feel better able to challenge MBS.”

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What were the reasons for the arrest of the Saudi princes, including the brother of King Salman, by the Saudi government?

A: The arrests were another step in Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) consolidation of power.  The announced charges against the arrested individuals probably are contrived.  Two of those arrested–Prince Ahmed and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef–are along those who would have the greatest claim to power themselves, and evidently MBS considered it necessary to eliminate them as competitors.     

Q: The physical condition of King Salman seems to be inadequate and this has led to a power struggle in Saudi Arabia. How do you foresee the power equations after King Salman’s eventual death?

A: The death of Salman and the need to select a new king will bring to a head the competition between MBS and those members of the royal family who oppose his acquisition of absolute power.  MBS clearly has the insight track for becoming king.  But he has been able to do what he has done because his father, King Salman, has permitted him to grab power.  Once Salman is gone, other family members may feel better able to challenge MBS.

Q: Is Muhammad bin Salman also an American and Western option for the kingdom in Saudi Arabia?

A: The Trump administration seems to be satisfied with having a close relationship with MBS, even though this has meant largely looking the other way regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. This policy risks associating the United States with controversial policies of MBS, and antagonizing elements in Saudi Arabia that may yet successfully oppose him. 

Q: Given Mohammed bin Salman’s actions in domestic politics, including music concerts and sidelines on social and cultural reforms, will the clergy and traditionalists tolerate his actions?

A: Whoever is the ruler in Saudi Arabia will face competing demands from the conservative religious establishment and from other Saudis, especially younger ones, who favor a more liberal society.  There is no reason to believe that MBS will be any better at striking this balance than another ruler would be.  Probably MBS will follow he example of earlier Saudi rulers and grant concessions to the religious establishment over matters most important to them, such as education, in exchange for MBS getting some more flexibility in making changes in other areas.    

Q: In your opinion, what economic and social impacts of a fall in oil prices will have on a country such as Saudi Arabia, whose economy is dependent on oil?

A: The negative impact is substantial, and it is likely to get worse for Saudi Arabia before it gets better. Russia has indicated it does not intend to cut oil production to boost prices, and that it would be happy to see low prices for a while to try to hurt U.S. oil producers using fracking technology. 

IRANIAN-BACKED FORCES RAISE STAKES. ROCKET ATTACK KILLS SEVERAL U.S. COALITION TROOPS IN IRAQ

South Front

A volley of rockets struck the Camp Taji military base in Iraq on the evening of March 11, killing three US-led coalition service members, two of them Americans and one British, and injuring 12 others. The targeted military base is a large facility located in a rural region approximately 27km north of Baghdad.

After the shelling, Iraqi security forces found the improvised rocket launcher used in the attack in the nearby area of Rashidiya. It was forty 107mm barrels installed on the back of a Kia Bongo truck. Three rockets were still remaining inside the barrel.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack. However, over the past months US-linked targets have witnessed a number of similar rocket attacks. Most of them led to no casualties. In general, US sources blame Kataib Hezbollah and other Iran-linked groups for these incidents.

The situation became especially tense after the US strike on a convoy of Iraqi and Iranian officers moving near Baghdad International Airport on January 3. The prominent Iranian general, commander of the Qods Force, Qassem Soleimani, was assassinated in this strike. The attack caused a large-scale crisis in the region, and prompted an Iranian retaliatiory missile strike on US military bases in Iraq. Washington swallowed a public attack on its forces by a state claiming that there were no casualties. In the following weeks, these ‘no casualties’ steadily turned into at least 110. All of them, according to the official version, received traumatic brain injury.

Additionally, the Iraqi Parliament accepted a bill demanding US troop withdrawal from the country, which Washington ignored, even threatening Baghdad with devastating sanctions, should Iraq continue to act like it is a sovereign, rather than occupied, country.

Following the attack on Camp Taji, ‘unknown aircraft’, most likely belonging to the US-led coalition, struck positions belonging to Iranian-backed groups near the Syrian-Iraqi border. The surroundings of the Syrian town of al-Bukamal, located on the highway linking Deir Ezzor and Baghdad, became the main target of the attack. Pro-Iranian sources claimed that the strikes caused material damage only.

Meanwhile, US forces in northeastern Syria strengthened their military positions by deploying additional howitzers. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces declared in an official statement that the military buildup was needed to provide US bases with additional protection. Another troop withdrawal announced by the administration of President Donald Trump is apparently successfully ongoing.

Syria’s northwest is also a source of tensions. On March 11, intense fighting erupted among Turkish-backed armed groups in the town of Azaz. As always, the incident was caused by internal contradictions between Turkish proxies who are involved in a wide range of various criminal activities and regularly clash for spheres of influence.

In the region of Greater Idlib, Turkish-backed groups, including those linked with al-Qaeda, are preparing to sabotage another ceasefire deal. They reinforced their positions north of the M4 highway and east of Jisr al-Shughur and declared that they are not planning to withdraw from any areas south of the highway. These statements go contrary to Turkish claims that preparations for the creation of a security zone in the area and the start of joint Turkish-Russian patrols are successfully in progress. Despite these, Ankara continues blaming the Syrian government for supposed violations of the Moscow deal and threatening it with military action should the ceasefire be violated. It seems that Turkey once again seeks to sweep agreements regarding the withdrawal and neutralization of radicals under the carpet, thus pushing the region into a new round of military escalation.

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