“Al-Nujaba” Movement to “Al-Ahed”: The Golan Liberation Brigade is Ready for the Battle

13/06/2021

“Al-Nujaba” Movement to “Al-Ahed”: The Golan Liberation Brigade is Ready for the Battle

Al-Ahed Exclusive

The official spokesman for “Al-Nujaba” movement, Engineer Nasr Al-Shammari, confirmed that the Islamic resistance in Lebanon had taken down the myth of the invincible army, defeated it and liberated the Lebanese land from its impurity.

In an interview with “Al-Ahed” news, Al-Shammari stressed that “Al-Quds is one of the Muslims’ sanctities and the first symbol and ultimate objective for the axis of resistance from the Islamic Republic to Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and other people in the Muslim region, who live in isolation from their oppressed, traitorous, and downtrodden rulers.”

The interview reads as follows:

  1. In 2017 “Al-Nujaba” announced the formation of the Golan Liberation Brigade, whose primary task is to support the Syrian Army to liberate its territory and lift the oppression of the Syrian people. What role has this brigade played since its formation? And what are the upcoming missions?

The Golan Liberation Brigade was founded by “Al-Nujaba” Islamic Resistance and its main pillar is to participate with the brothers in Syria in the battle to liberate Golan, which is becoming closer day by day. Although “Al-Nujaba” had active involvement in confronting the Takfiri terrorist organizations in Syria, this brigade was and will remain specialized in confronting the Zionist entity that has usurped the Arab land. It includes a distinguished elite of fighters who were highly trained in such wars and possess the weapons necessary for such battles that can target the depth of the usurping entity and not only the occupied Golan region. It is ready to participate as soon as the zero hour of the battle for the liberation of the Golan begins, in god’s will, and this is up to our brothers in Syria. We will always and forever be with them in the face of this occupying aggressor whose inevitable demise is approaching.

  1. The last round of the Battle-“Al-Quds Sword”-showed the weakness of the Zionist entity, its disintegration from within, and its inability to confront the rockets of the Palestinian resistance. What do you promise the occupation in any upcoming battle?

A long time ago, during the southern liberation battles, His Eminence, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah said that “Israel” is weaker than a spider’s web, and the best to demonstrate this is the Islamic resistance in Lebanon that brought down the myth of the invincible army, defeated it, and liberated the Lebanese land from its impurity. It then defeated it in the July 2006 war to set the balance of deterrence equation, but rather the challenge equation, in its clearest form. The Palestinian resistance today has proven the falsity of the media, which promoted the coherent of “Israel’s” internal front (which is a lie) and the Iron Dome falsehood that the resistance’s weapon cannot bypass. The resistance weapon confused the occupation authority and its internal situation, shook its security and defeated its army, which was falsely supported by misleading media.

Today, the resistance promises the occupying army, its authority, and the entire entity that the days of an internal security are over, the lie of the Iron Dome has been revealed, the time of rapid and unexpected operations and the transfer of wars out of the occupied territory has come from the past, and the next battle will be in the depth of the occupied land from the sea to the river and there will be no safe areas from the resistance weapon.

  1. The Secretary-General of Hezbollah, His Eminence Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, spoke about the need to work on Al-Quds equation in exchange for a regional war, as part of the resistance axis. What do you think about this equation? And how do you assess the strength of the Axis of Resistance front today?

Al-Quds is one of the Muslims’ sanctities and the first symbol and ultimate objective of each axis of resistance from the Islamic Republic to Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and other people in the Muslim region, who live in isolation from their oppressed, traitorous, downtrodden rulers. Therefore, I understand the words of His Eminence that any harm to Al-Quds and its people must be answered, not only in the occupied Palestine, but also on the entire geography of the axis of resistance and to all the interests of the Zionist entity, America, their agents and their backers in the region to which the resistance’s hand or weapons can reach, so that the deterrence will be comprehensive and stronger.

As for the strength of the entire resistance axis front, I can confirm, in my humble insight, that this axis has not used more than 1% of its potentials in all the encounters it has fought and won, thanks to God, his blessings and his payment. In most of the battles we postponed using a lot of potential because the size of the confrontation with the enemy at that time did not need it, and their use in time of need will have the greatest impact in achieving victories when enemies retreat, disagree, clash and change their attitudes day by day. We are on the same front, in the same axis and in the same position, and our belief in the inevitability of a near victory has not been shaken, leading to the removal of America from the region and the demise of the Zionist entity in God’s will.

US deploys weapon system at key base in Iraq after rocket attack

US deploys weapon system at key base in Iraq after rocket attack

April 24, 2021

Source

The US military has reportedly deployed a C-RAM weapon system at a key base near Baghdad International Airport, hours after a number of rockets targeted the facility.

Iraq’s Nas news agency reported on Friday that a C-RAM system — which is used to intercept and destroy incoming rockets, artillery and mortar rounds — had been stationed to protect Camp Victory, shortly after three rockets landed in the vicinity of the base.

In addition, US warplanes conducted aerial patrols over the heavily-secured Green Zone in the capital, Baghdad, which hosts Iraqi government institutions and foreign diplomatic missions.

This is the second such deployment in a week with the declared goal of protecting American positions and interests in Iraq. The first C-RAM system, which had been transferred to the site last Friday, failed to successfully counter today’s raid.

The US does not coordinate the deployment of such systems with the Baghdad government, in what is seen as a violation of Washington-Baghdad agreements on the future of the American military presence in the Arab country.

That law was approved in the aftermath of the US military’s assassination of senior Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) near the Baghdad airport in January 2020.

The assassinations fueled anti-US sentiment among Iraqis and led to an outcry against foreign military presence in the Arab country.

On April 8, Iraq and the US said they had agreed on the eventual withdrawal of US “combat” troops from Iraq, and that the two sides would hold talks to work out the timing. The mission of US forces is now supposed to be focused on what is claimed to be “training” Iraqi troops to fight Daesh.

Iraqi resistance groups have warned that they will treat the American troops as occupying forces and take up arms against them if they refuse to leave their country.

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The Yankees Are Coming Home: The Taliban Won. Get Over It

American soldiers can still win wars, but it has to be a real war where there is something genuine at stake, like protecting one’s home and family.

By Philip Giraldi

Global Research, April 09, 2021

Strategic Culture Foundation 8 April 2021

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).

***

It hardly made the evening news, but the New York Times reported last week that after twenty years of fighting the Taliban are confident that they will fully control Afghanistan before too long whether or not the United States decides to leave some kind of residual force in the country after May 1st. The narrative is suggestive of The Mouse that Roared, lacking only Peter Sellers to put the finishing touches on what has to be considered a great humiliation for the U.S., which has a “defense” budget that is larger than the combined military spending of the next seven countries in order of magnitude. Those numbers include both Russia and China. The Taliban, on the other hand, have no military budget to speak of. That enormous disparity, un-reflected in who has won and lost, has to nurture concerns that it is the world’s only superpower, admittedly self-proclaimed, which is incapable of actually winning a war against anyone.

In fact, some recent wargaming has suggested that the United States would lose in a non-nuclear conflict with China alone based on the obsolescence of expensive and vulnerable weapons systems that the Pentagon relies upon, such as carrier groups. Nations like China, Iran and Russia that have invested in sophisticated and much cheaper missile systems to offset U.S. advantages have reportedly spent their money wisely. If the Biden foreign policy and military experts, largely embroiled in diversifying the country, choose to take on China, there may be no one left around to pick up the pieces.

Those who are warning of the apparent ineffectiveness of the U.S. armed forces in spite of their global presence in more than one thousand bases point most commonly to the historical record to make their case. Korea, fought under United Nations auspices, was a stalemate, with the peninsula divided to this day and a substantial American military force continuing to be a presence along the DMZ to enforce the armistice that not quite ended the war. Vietnam was a defeat, resulting in more than 58,000 Americans dead as well as an estimated 3 million Vietnamese, most of whom were civilians. The real lesson learned from Vietnam was that fighting on someone else’s turf where you have no real interests or stake in the outcome is a fool’s game, but the Pentagon instead worked to fix the mechanics in weapons and training at great cost without addressing why people fight wars in the first place. The other lesson was that the United States’ military was perfectly willing to lie to the country’s civilian leadership to expand the war and keep it going, a performance that was repeated in 2001 with the “Iraq is supporting terrorists and will have nuclear weapons” lies and also with the current crop of false analogies used to keep thousands of Americans in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

As a veteran of the Vietnam War army, I can recall sitting around with fellow enlisted men reading “Stars & Stripes,” the exclusive in-house-for-the-military newspaper that was covering the war. The paper quoted a senior officer who opined that the Soviets (as they were at that time) were really envious of the combat experience that the United States Army was obtaining in Vietnam. We all laughed. That same officer probably had a staff position away from the fighting but we draftees knew well that the war was a very bloody mistake while he may have tested his valor post-retirement working for Lockheed-Martin. The “Soviets” in any event demonstrated just how much they envied the experience of combat when they fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s, eventually withdrawing with their tails between their legs just as the U.S. had done in Vietnam after they lost 15,000 men. The “Grave of Empires,” indeed.History: Reversing the Vietnam Verdict

Since Vietnam there have been a number of small wars in places like Panama and Grenada, but the global war on terror has been a total disaster for American arms. Afghanistan, as it was for the Russians, is the ulcer that keeps on bleeding until it ends as a major defeat for the United States with the Taliban fully in control, as they are now predicting. Likewise, the destruction of a secular Iraq, regime change in Libya, and a continuing war against a non-threatening Syria have all failed to make Americans either safer or more prosperous. Iran is next, apparently, if the Joe Biden Administration has its way, and relations with major adversaries Russia and China have sunk even lower than they were during Donald Trump’s time as president. The White House has recently sent a shipload of offensive weapons to Kiev and the Ukrainian government has repeated its intention to retake Crimea from Russia, a formula for a new military disaster that could easily escalate into a major war. What is particularly regrettable is the fact that the United States has no compelling national interest in encouraging open warfare between Moscow and Kiev, a conflict that it will be unable to avoid as its is supplying Ukraine with weaponry.

There was almost no discussion of America’s wars during the recent election. One should take note, however, of a recent article by former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb that appeared on National Review which seeks to provide an explanation for “The Real Reason the U.S. Can’t Win Wars Anymore” in spite of the fact that it is “the most powerful country in the history of the world.” To be sure, Kolb largely blames the policymakers for the defeat in Vietnam, aided and abetted by a culture of silence in the military where many officers knew that the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which escalated the conflict, was a fraud but chose to say or do nothing. He also observes that the war itself was unwinnable for various reasons, including the observation by many working and middle class Americans that they were little more than cannon fodder while the country’s elites either dodged the draft or exploited their status to obtain national guard or reserve commissions that were known to be mechanism to avoid Vietnam. Kolb notes that “…the four most recent presidents who could have served in Vietnam avoided that war and the draft by dubious means. Bill Clinton pretended to join the Army ROTC; George W. Bush used political connections to get into the Air National Guard, when President Johnson made it clear that the reserve component would not be activated to fight the war; Donald Trump, of course, had his family physician claim he had bone spurs, (Trump himself cannot remember which foot); and Joe Biden claimed that the asthma he had in high school prevented him from serving even though he brags about his athletic exploits while in high school.”

Kolb also reveals how America’s presumed prowess on the battlefield has distorted its “democracy building” endeavors to such an extent that genuine national interests have been ignored. When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, success in overthrowing the Taliban was derived from critical assistance from Iran, which correctly regarded the extremist Sunni group as an enemy. But the Bush White House, far from showing gratitude, soon thereafter added Iran to its “axis of evil” list. A golden opportunity was wasted to repair a relationship which has poisoned America’s presence in the Middle East ever since.

One might add something else to Kolb’s assessment of failure at war. Most American soldiers have been and are proud of their service and consider it an honor to defend their country but the key word is “defend.” There was no defending going on in Vietnam nor in Afghanistan, which did not attack the U.S. and was willing to turn over Osama Bin Laden if the White House could provide evidence that he was involved in 9/11. Nor was there anything defensive about Obama’s destruction of Libya and the decades long “secret” wars to overthrow the Syrian and Iranian governments. Soldiers are trained to fight and obey orders but that does not mean that they can no longer observe and think. Twenty years of “Reconstruction” duty in Afghanistan is not defending the United States and the morale of American soldiers in the combined Democratic and Republican Parties’ plan to reconstruct the world is not a sufficient motivator if one is being asked to put one’s life on the line. Sure, American soldiers can still win wars, but it has to be a real war where there is something genuine at stake, like protecting one’s home and family. That is what the people who run Washington, very few of whom are veterans and most of whom first ask “But what’s in it for me?” fail to understand.

*

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Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is https://councilforthenationalinterest.orgaddress is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org

He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Crucial interview of Foreign Minister Lavrov (MUST READ!)

Crucial interview of Foreign Minister Lavrov (MUST READ!)

Source

April 02, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview given to Channel One’s Bolshaya Igra (Great Game) talk show, Moscow, April 1, 2021

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The word “war” has been heard increasingly more often lately. US and NATO politicians, even more so the Ukrainian military, have no trouble saying it. Do you have more reasons to be concerned now than ever before?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes and no. On the one hand, the confrontation has hit bottom. On the other, deep down, there’s still hope that we are adults and understand the risks associated with escalating tensions further. However, our Western colleagues introduced the word “war” into the diplomatic and international usage. “The hybrid war unleashed by Russia” is a very popular description of what the West perceives as the main event in international life. I still believe that good judgment will prevail.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Recently, the United States has ratcheted the degree of confrontation up to never-before-seen proportions. President Joe Biden said President Vladimir Putin is a “killer.” We have recalled Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov.

Sergey Lavrov: He was invited for consultations.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Hence, the question: How do we go about our relations now? How long will this pause last? When will Mr Antonov return to Washington?

Sergey Lavrov: What we heard President Biden say in his interview with ABC is outrageous and unprecedented. However, one should always see the real actions behind the rhetoric, and they began long before this interview back during the Barack Obama administration. They continued under the Trump administration, despite the fact that the 45th US President publicly spoke in favour of maintaining good relations with Russia, with which he was willing to “get along,” but was not allowed to do so. I’m talking about the consistent degradation of the deterrent infrastructure in the military-political and strategic spheres.

The ABM Treaty has long since been dropped. President Putin has more than once mentioned how, in response to his remark that George W. Bush was making a mistake and there was no need to aggravate relations, the then US President said that it was not directed against Russia. Allegedly, we can take any steps that we deem necessary in response to the US withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. Allegedly, the Americans will not take these actions as directed against them, either. But then they started establishing anti-missile systems in Europe which is the third missile defence position area. It was announced that it was built exclusively with Iran in mind. Our attempts to agree on a transparency format received support during the visit to Moscow by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, but were later rejected. We now have a missile defence area in Europe. Nobody is saying that this is against Iran now. This is clearly being positioned as a global project designed to contain Russia and China. The same processes are underway in the Asia-Pacific region. No one is trying to pretend that this is being done against North Korea.

This is a global system designed to back US claims to absolute dominance, including in the military-strategic and nuclear spheres.

Dimitri Simes can also share his assessment of what is said and written in the United States on that account. A steadfast course has now been taken towards deploying intermediate and shorter-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region.

The INF Treaty was discarded by the Americans on far-fetched pretexts. This was not our choice. In his special messages, President Vladimir Putin suggested agreeing, on a voluntary basis and even in the absence of the INF Treaty, on a mutual moratorium with corresponding verification measures in the Kaliningrad Region, where the Americans suspected our Iskander missiles of violating restrictions imposed by the now defunct treaty, and at US bases in Poland and Romania, where the MK-41 units are promoted by the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, as dual-purpose equipment.

To reiterate, this rhetoric is outrageous and unacceptable. However, President Putin has reacted to it diplomatically and politely. Unfortunately, there was no response to our offer to talk live and to dot the dottable letters in the Russian and English alphabets. All of that has long since gone hand-in-hand with a material build-up in the confrontational infrastructure, which also includes the reckless eastward advance of NATO military facilities, the transformation of a rotational presence into a permanent presence on our borders, in the Baltic States, in Norway, and Poland. So everything is much more serious than mere rhetoric.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: When will Ambassador Antonov return to Washington?

Sergey Lavrov: It’s up to President Putin to decide. Ambassador Antonov is currently holding consultations at the Foreign Ministry. He has met with the members of the committees on international affairs at the State Duma and the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly. He has had conversations at the Presidential Executive Office as well.

It is important for us to analyse the current state of our relations, which did not get to this point overnight, and are not just because of this interview, but have been going this way for years now. The fact that inappropriate language was used during President Biden’s interview with ABC shows the urgency of conducting a comprehensive analysis. This does not mean that we have just been observers and have not drawn any conclusions over the past years. But now the time has come for generalisations.

Dimitri Simes: Now that I am in Moscow, after a year in Washington, I see a striking contrast between statements by the leaders of the two countries. I think you will agree that when officials in Washington talk about relations with Russia, their pattern is simple and understandable: “Russia is an opponent.” Sometimes, Congressmen are more abrupt and call it “an enemy.” However, political leaders from the administration still call it “an opponent.” They allow cooperation with Russia on some issues that are important to the US, but generally it is emphasised that militarily Russia is “the number one opponent,” while politically it is not just a country with objectionable views but a state that “tries to spread authoritarian regimes throughout the world,” that “opposes democracy” and “undermines the foundations of the US as such.”

When I listen to you and President of Russia Vladimir Putin, I have the impression that in Moscow the picture is more complicated and has more nuances. Do you think the US is Russia’s opponent today?

Sergey Lavrov: I will not go into analysing the lexicon of “opponent,” “enemy,” “competitor” or “rival.” All these words are juggled in both official and unofficial statements. I read the other day that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that for all the differences with Russia and China, the US does not have anything against these countries. As for what the US is doing, it is simply “promoting democracy” and “upholding human rights.” I don’t know how seriously one can take this description of US policy towards Moscow and Beijing. However, if they are promoting democracy, practice must justify theory.

George W. Bush announced that democracy was established in Iraq in May 2003. Aboard an aircraft carrier, he declared that Iraq’s liberation from its totalitarian regime was completed and democracy was established in the country. There is no point in elaborating. It is enough to mention the toll of the US-unleashed war – hundreds of thousands of people. We should also remember that the “rule” of the notorious Paul Bremer resulted in the birth of ISIS, which was rapidly joined by members of the Baath Party, employees of Saddam Hussein’s secret services, who had lost their jobs. They simply needed to provide for their families. ISIS emerged not because of ideological differences. Relying on US mistakes, the radicals actively used this fact. This is what democracy in Iraq is all about.

“Democracy” in Libya was established by bombs, strikes and the murder of Muammar Gaddafi which was accompanied by Hillary Clinton’s cry of admiration. This is the result: Libya is a black hole; refugee flows bound for the north are creating problems for the EU that does not know what to do about them; illegal arms and terrorists are being smuggled through Libya to the south, bringing suffering to the Sahara-Sahel Region.

I do not wish to describe what the Americans feel towards the Russian Federation. If their statements about us being their “opponent,” “enemy,” “rival” or “competitor” are based on the desire to accuse us of the consequences of their reckless policy, we can hardly have a serious conversation with them.

Dmitri Simes: When officials in Washington, the Joseph Biden administration or Congress, call Russia an opponent and emphasise this, I think they would not agree that it is simply rhetoric. Nor would they agree that it is designed solely for domestic consumption. The Biden administration is saying that the US did not have a consistent policy towards Russia and that former US President Donald Trump let Russia “do everything the Russian Government of Vladimir Putin wanted.” Now a new sheriff has come in and is willing to talk in a way he sees fit without paying much attention to how Moscow will interpret it; and if Moscow doesn’t like it, this is good. This is being done not to evoke discontent, of course, but to show that Russia is finally realising that it cannot behave like this anymore. Is there any chance that this new Biden administration policy will compel Russia to show some new flexibility?

Sergey Lavrov: The policy you mentioned, which is promoted in the forms we are now seeing, has no chance to succeed. This is nothing new: Joseph Biden has come in, started using sanctions against Russia, toughening rhetoric and in general exerting pressure all along the line. This has been going on for many years. The sanctions started with the Barack Obama administration and, historically, even earlier. Like many other restrictions, they have simply become hypertrophied and ideology-based starting in 2013, before the events in Ukraine.

Dimitri Simes: They will tell you, and you know this better than I do, that this policy has not been pursued sufficiently consistently, that it was not energetic enough, and that now they and their NATO allies will get down to dealing with Russia seriously so as to show us that we must change our behaviour fundamentally not just when it comes to foreign policy but also our domestic policy.

Sergey Lavrov: Dimitri, you are an experienced person, you know the United States better than Vyacheslav Nikonov or I do. What else can they do to us? Which of the analysts has decided to prove the practicability of any further pressure on Russia? How well do they know history? This question is for you.

Dimitri Simes: Mr Minister, you probably know that I am not a fervent supporter of the policy of the Biden administration.

Sergey Lavrov: I am asking you as an observer and an independent expert.

Dimitri Simes: In my opinion, the Biden administration still has a sufficient set of tools it can apply against Russia, including new sanctions, the promotion of NATO infrastructure in Europe, a more “harmonised” pressure on Russia together with its allies, the advance of the US policy not closer to the traditional Old Europe (I am referring to Britain and especially to France and Germany) but to Poland, and lastly, the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine. It is now believed in Washington that it is very important to show Russia that its current policy in Ukraine has no future and that unless Russia changes its behaviour it “will pay a price.”

Sergey Lavrov: My views on the current developments range from an exercise in absurdity to a dangerous play with matches. You may know that it has become trendy to use examples from ordinary life to describe current developments. All of us played outdoors when we were children. Kids of different ages and with different kinds of family upbringing played in the same places. In fact, we all lived as one big family then. There were two or three bad boys on every street; they humiliated other kids, disciplined them, forced them to clean their boots and took their money, the few kopecks our mothers gave us to buy a pie or breakfast at school. Two, three or four years later, these small kids grew up and could fight back. We don’t even have to grow up. We do not want confrontation.

President Putin has said more than once, including after President Biden’s infamous interview with ABC that we are ready to work with the United States in the interests of our people and the interests of international security. If the United States is willing to endanger the interests of global stability and global – and so far peaceful – coexistence, I don’t think it will find many allies for this endeavour. It is true that the EU has quickly towed the line and pledged allegiance. I regard the statements made during the virtual EU summit with Joe Biden as unprecedented. I don’t remember ever hearing such oaths of allegiance before. The things they said publicly revealed their absolute ignorance of the history of the creation of the UN and many other events. I am sure that serious politicians – there are still some left in the United States – can see not just futility but also the absurdity of this policy. As far as I know, the other day 27 political organisations in the United States publicly urged the Biden administration to change the rhetoric and the essence of the US approach to relations with Russia.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: This is unlikely to happen. I believe that your example with “tough guys” on every street is too mild. The United States has gone beyond the pale, let alone the street ethics, which have always been respected. We can see this happening in Ukraine. President Biden is one of those who created modern Ukraine, the Ukrainian policy and the war in Donbass. As I see it, he takes the situation very personally, and he will try to keep it in its current tense state. How dangerous is the situation in Ukraine in light of the ongoing US arms deliveries, the decisions adopted in the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday, and the statements made by the Ukrainian military, who are openly speaking about a war?  Where do we stand on the Ukrainian front?

Sergey Lavrov: There is much speculation about the documents that the Rada passed and that President Zelensky signed. To what extent does this reflect real politics? Is it consistent with the objective of resolving President Zelensky’s domestic problem of declining ratings? I’m not sure what this is: a bluff or concrete plans. According to the information published in the media, the military, for the most part, is aware of the damage that any action to unleash a hot conflict might bring.

I very much hope this will not be fomented by the politicians, who, in turn, will be fomented by the US-led West. Once again, we see the truth as stated by many analysts and political scientists, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, being reaffirmed. They look at Ukraine from a geopolitical perspective: as a country that is close to Russia, Ukraine makes Russia a great state; without Ukraine, Russia does not have global significance. I leave this on the conscience of those who profess these ideas, their fairness and ability to appreciate modern Russia. Like President Vladimir Putin said not long ago; but these words are still relevant, – those who try to unleash a new war in Donbass will destroy Ukraine.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The US and Western diplomacy have definitely accomplished one thing: they put Russia and China in one boat. Indeed, we have already become strategic partners in deeds not just in words. You have just come back from China. You go there more often than once a year, for sure. During this trip, was there anything new that you sensed from Chinese leadership, which has recently come under unprecedented and rude attacks from the Americans? How strong are the bonds that are being established between Russia and China? How high is the bar that we can or have already reached in our relationship?

Sergey Lavrov: Like Russians, the Chinese are a proud nation. They may be more patient historically. The Chinese nation’s national and genetic code is all about being focused on a historical future. They are never limited to 4 or 5- year electoral cycles. They look further: “a big journey begins with a small step” and many other maxims coined by Chinese leaders go to show that they appreciate a goal that is not just on the horizon, but beyond the horizon. This also applies to reunifying Chinese lands – incrementally and without haste, but purposefully and persistently. Those who are talking with China and Russia without due respect or look down on us, or insult us are worthless politicians and strategists. If they do this to show how tough they are for the next parliamentary election in a couple of years, so be it.

Winston Churchill famously said that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” A big debate is underway about which one is more effective. The coronavirus infection has taken the debate up a notch. To what extent the Western democracies have shown themselves capable of opposing this absolute evil and to what extent countries with a centralised, strong and “authoritarian” government have been successful. History will be the judge. We should wait to see the results.

We want to cooperate; we have never accused anyone of anything, or mounted a media campaign against anyone, even though we are being accused of doing this. As soon as President Putin announced the creation of a vaccine, he proposed establishing international cooperation. You do remember what was being said about Sputnik V. At first, they said that it was not true, and then that this was propaganda and the only purpose was to promote Russia’s political interests in the world. We can see the ripple effect of this. On March 30, Vladimir Putin held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. We sensed a more realistic commitment to cooperate rather than try to engage in “vaccine discrimination” or “vaccine propaganda.”

Getting back to the heart of the matter, by and large, no one should be rude to other people. But what we see instead is a dialogue with a condescending tone towards great civilisations like Russia and China. We are being told what to do. If we want to say something, we are asked to “leave them alone.” This was the case in Anchorage when the discussion came to human rights. Antony Blinken said that there were many violations in the United States, but the undercurrent was clear – they would sort it out themselves and are already doing so. However, in Xinjiang Uygur, Hong Kong and Tibet, to name a few, things should be approached differently. It’s not just about a lack of diplomatic skills. It runs much deeper. In China, I sensed that this patient nation, which always upholds its interests and shows a willingness to find a compromise, was put in a stalemate. The other day, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson made a relevant comment. I don’t remember that ever happening before.

With regard to whether we are being pushed into the arms of China or China is being pushed into our arms, everyone remembers Henry Kissinger’s words that the United States should have relations with China which are better than relations between China and Russia, and vice versa. He saw this historical process and knew which way it could go. Many are writing now that the United States is committing a huge strategic mistake making efforts against Russia and China at a time, thereby catalysing our rapprochement. Moscow and Beijing are not allying against anyone. During my visit to China, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and I adopted a Joint Statement on Certain Issues of Global Governance in Modern Conditions, where we emphasised the unacceptability of violating international law or substituting it by some secretly drafted rules, of interference in other countries’ internal affairs and, overall, everything that contradicts the UN Charter. There are no threats there. The documents signed by the leaders of Russia and China always emphasise the fact that bilateral strategic interaction and multifaceted partnership are not directed against anyone, but focus exclusively on the interests of our peoples and countries. They build on a clear-cut and objective foundation of overlapping interests. We look for a balance of interests, and there are many areas where it has been achieved and is being used for the benefit of all of us.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Have you noticed any change in China’s position? It is clear that Beijing is in a very tight situation. How far is China willing to go in its confrontation with the United States? It is obvious that they are now responding harshly. Sanctions are being introduced against Beijing, so it responds with tough counter-sanctions, and not only against the United States, but also against its allies, who are also joining the sanctions. Europe has joined this confrontation. Are we prepared to synchronise our policies with China, for example, our counter-sanctions, as we did with Belarus? Do we have a common strategy to counter the increasing pressure from the so-called alliance of democracies?

Sergey Lavrov: There is a general strategy, and I just mentioned it. Along with the Statement signed during my visit to China, a comprehensive Leaders’ Statement was adopted last year. Now we are preparing the next document, which will be signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation. Our strategic treaty will be renewed.

These documents spell out our line of conduct. We are not planning, and will not plan, any schemes to retaliate for what they are doing to us. I do not think that we will synchronise our responses to any new sanction acts against China and Russia.

Our level of cooperation continues to grow qualitatively.

You mentioned military alliances. There is popular speculation out there that Russia and China might conclude a military alliance. First, one of the documents signed at the highest level underscored that our relations are not a military alliance, and we are not pursuing this goal. We regard NATO as an example of a military alliance in the traditional sense, and we know that we do not need such an alliance. NATO clearly breathed a sigh of relief after the Biden administration replaced Donald Trump. Everyone was happy to again have someone to tell them what to do. Emmanuel Macron still occasionally tries to vainly mention the EU’s strategic autonomy initiative, but no one else in Europe even wants to discuss it. It’s over, the boss is here.

That kind of alliance is a Cold War alliance. I would prefer thinking in terms of the modern era where multi-polarity is growing. In this sense, our relationship with China is completely different from that of a traditional military alliance. Maybe in a certain sense, it is an even closer bond.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: The “alliance of democracies” will be created. This is obvious although fewer people in Russia still believe that it’s about democracy. In its election, its attitude towards freedom of the media and opportunities to express opposing views, the US has made it very clear that it has big problems with democracy. Europe also gives examples that compel us to doubt its efforts to promote a strong democratic project. After all, it still holds a position as a player under a big boss.

Vladimir Putin had a conversation with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel via videoconference on March 30 of this year. Without Vladimir Zelensky, by the way. This is the Normandy format minus Ukraine, which resulted in a bitter response from Kiev.

They discussed a broad range of issues. Meanwhile, you have said more than once that our relations with the EU are frozen or absent altogether. Do you mean that we stay in contact or that contact is possible with individual EU members but not with the EU as a whole?

Sergey Lavrov: This is exactly the case, and this was also mentioned during the March 30 talks, and during Vladimir Putin’s conversation with President of the European Council Charles Michel. We are surprised that this assessment offends the EU. This is simply an objective fact.

It took years to develop relations between Moscow and the EU. By the time the state coup in Ukraine took place these relations included: summits twice a year; annual meetings of all members of the Russian Government with all members of the European Commission; about 17 sectoral dialogues on different issues, from energy to human rights; and four common spaces based on Russia-EU summit resolutions, each of which had its own roadmap.

We were holding talks on visa-free travel. It is indicative that the EU broke them off back in 2013, long before the crisis in Ukraine. As some of our colleagues told us, when it came to a decision on signing the proposed agreement, the aggressive Russophobic minority adamantly opposed it: Russia cannot receive visa-free travel status with the EU before Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova do. This is the entire background. What the EU did after that, braking all channels of systematic dialogue was a burst of emotion. They took it out on us because the putschists insulted the West by throwing out the document signed by Yanukovich and the opposition the day before, this despite the fact that Germany, France and Poland had endorsed this document. The first actions of the new authorities were to remove the Russian language from daily life and to expel Russians from Crimea. When Russian-speakers and Russians in Ukraine opposed this and asked to be left alone, a so-called “anti-terrorist operation” was launched against them.

In effect, the EU imposed sanctions on us and broke off all communication channels because we raised our voice in defence of Russian citizens and ethnic Russians in Ukraine, Donbass and Crimea. We try to discuss issues with them when they start making claims against us. They probably understand this; I hope they are still seasoned politicians. But if they understand this but don’t want to consider it in their practical policy, it means that they are being charged with Russophobia or cannot do anything about the aggressive Russophobic minority in the EU.

Dimitri Simes: I believe when we talk about the EU, it’s important to look at what the EU is and to what extent it has changed compared to what it used to be and what it was supposed to be when it was founded. The EU was primarily designed as an organisation for economic cooperation.

No political component was even envisioned at the start. It was about the EU contributing to European economic integration. The possibility was even mentioned of Russia playing some associated role in that process. But then they said the EU should also have some common values. At first, the idea was that those common values were the cement of the EU itself. Then a new idea emerged in Warsaw that it would be nice for those European values ​​(since they are actually universal) to spread to other regions, as well as for Russia to respect them, or even to obey them. When I look at the EU’s approach to Ukraine, the conflict in Donbass and the demands to return Crimea to Kiev, it seems to me that the EU is becoming a missionary organisation. When you deal with crusaders, trying to reckon with them or appealing to their logic and conscience is probably useless. Do you not think that the EU has journeyed to a place where there are limited opportunities for partnership and great potential for confrontation? Or am I being too pessimistic?

Sergey Lavrov: No, I agree with you, absolutely. This is a missionary style – lecturing others while projecting superiority. It is important to see this tendency, as it has repeatedly brought Europe to trouble.

This is actually the case. Established as the Coal and Steel Community, then the European Economic Community – if you look at the EU now, look at their values, they are already attacking their own members like Poland and Hungary, just because these countries have somewhat different cultural and religious traditions. You said it originated in Poland. I actually forget who started this…

Dimitri Simes: I first heard it from Polish delegates at a conference.

Sergey Lavrov: Now Poland itself is facing the consequences of its ideas, only not outside the EU, but within the organisation.

When anyone tries to impose any values on Russia, ​​related, as they believe, to democracy and human rights, we have this very specific response: all universal values ​​are contained in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights that everyone signed. Any values invented now, which they try to impose on us or other countries, are not universal. They have not been agreed upon by the entire international community. Even inside the EU, look at those street protests! A couple of years ago, they had protests in France in defence of the traditional family, the concepts of “mother,” “father,” and “children.” This lies deep. Playing with traditional values ​​is dangerous.

As to the EU once inviting Russia as an associate member, we never agreed to sign an association document. Now the same is being done with regard to the Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Ukraine, and Moldova. As for Russia’s relations with the EU, which Brussels destroyed, only one thing remained – the basic document on the terms of trade and investment. It was indeed the subject of negotiation between the Brussels Commission and the Russian Federation. This is a document that remains valid. We cooperate with individual countries, but not with the EU, because those were the terms agreed upon, and their practical implementation is going through bilateral channels. The only thing the EU is doing in this respect now is imposing sanctions and banning its members from fulfilling some parts of this agreement because they want to “punish Russia.” That’s it, there are no other ties.

We are being told that we are deliberately derailing our relations (although the facts are simply outrageous), trying to shift our ties with Europe to bilateral channels, wanting to “split up” the European Union. We don’t want to split anyone up. We always say that we are interested in a strong and independent European Union. But if the EU chooses a non-independent position in the international arena, as we just discussed, this is their right. We cannot do anything about it. We have always supported its independence and unity. But in the current situation, where Brussels broke off all relations, when certain European countries reach out to us (we have not tried to lure anyone) with proposals to talk, to visit any of the sides and discuss some promising projects in bilateral relations, how can we refuse our partners? It is quite unfair (even a shame) to try to present such meetings as part of a strategy to split up the EU. They have enough problems of their own that split them up.

Dimitri Simes: This is a philosophical issue in Russia’s relations with the EU. When the EU has imposed anti-China sanctions, China made a tough response. This was an unpleasant surprise for the EU and caused indignation. Meanwhile, Brussels does not expect such a response from Russia in the firm belief that Russia has no economic levers to oppose the EU. To my knowledge, Russia has not imposed any serious sanctions on the EU.

This is an interesting situation. Russia supplies Europe with 33 percent of its gas. The figures for oil are about the same. I think during all this time Russia has proved convincingly that it won’t use energy for political leverage in Europe. Understandably, Russia has been interested in this, especially when it comes to the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It seems to me that certain people in Europe have forgotten that if Russia does not do something, it doesn’t mean that it cannot do it, or won’t be compelled to do it if the EU’s pressure on Russia crosses a line. Do you think this is possible in theory? Or does Russia completely rule out such actions?

Sergey Lavrov: You are saying (metaphorically) that they either have not read (which is most likely) or have forgotten the epic about Ilya Muromets who slept on the stove while nobody paid attention? This is not a threat. We will never use energy supplies or our oil and gas routes in Europe to this end. This is a position of principle regardless of anything else.

Dimitri Simes: Even of you are disconnected from SWIFT and everything else?

Sergey Lavrov: We will not do that. This is a position of principle for President of Russia Vladimir Putin. We will not create a situation where we force EU citizens “freeze.” We will never do this. We have nothing in common with Kiev that shut down water supplies to Crimea and takes delight in it. This is a disgraceful position in the world arena. Frequently accusing us of using energy as an instrument of influence, as a weapon, the West keeps silence on what Kiev is doing with water supplies to Crimea. I believe the provision of basic needs on which the daily life of common citizens depends, should never be an object of sanctions.

Dimitri Simes: In this case, what do you mean by referring to “the phenomenon” of Ilya Muromets?

Sergey Lavrov: It is possible to respond in different ways. We have always warned that we will be ready to respond. We will respond to any malicious actions against us but not necessarily in a symmetric manner. By the way, speaking about the impact of the sanctions on civilians, look what is taking place in Syria under the Caesar Act. My colleagues in Europe and, incidentally, in the region, whisper that they are horrified by the way this act has eliminated any opportunity to do business with Syria. The goal is clear – to stifle the Syrians to make them revolt and overthrow Bashar al-Assad.

Now a few words about our and China’s responses to the European sanctions. After all, China also avoided suspending economic activity. It simply imposed sanctions on a number of individuals and companies that held certain anti-China positions. We are doing basically the same.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: As we know, Ilya Muromets did not shut down oil and gas supplies. He used other methods that were often symmetrical. I think we also have a solid set of instruments.

Don’t we exaggerate the importance of the EU in the modern world? It has an identity and there are European values. I know this since I have dealt with European MPs and experts for many years.

However, I have the impression that there are two main values: the first one is the euro and the second is LGBT and 60 more letters that describe this notion linked with sexual identity, their presence, absence, or mix.

The EU is undergoing a crisis – Brexit. Britain has left the EU. The economic crisis is very bad. Probably, in Europe it is worse than elsewhere. The economy has dropped by up to 10 percent in many countries. The vaccine-related crisis has shown that Europe cannot counter the virus and adopt a common policy. These problems are emerging at all levels. It cannot draft a common economic policy, migration rules, and so on. Maybe, we are really paying too much attention to Europe? Maybe we can act without looking back at this “falling” structure?

Sergey Lavrov: But where are we paying too much attention to Europe? We have a very simple position that President of Russia Vladimir Putin has set forth many times: we do not feel hurt. As we know, hurt people get the short end of the stick, or as we say in Russia, hurt people are made to carry water, something we are short of in Crimea. We will always be willing to revive our relations, practically to raise them from the ashes, but to do this we must know what the EU is interested in. We will not knock on a locked door. They are well aware of our proposals, just as the Americans know our proposals on strategic stability, cyber security and many other things. We have said to all of them: “Our friends and colleagues, we are ready for this. We understand that you will have some reciprocal ideas but we have not yet heard them. As soon as you are ready, let’s sit down and discuss them, seeking a balance of interests.” Meanwhile, now we are being accused of neglecting policy on the EU, so I don’t think we are courting this alliance or exaggerating its importance. It determines its place in the world itself. We have already talked about this today.

As for European values, we have many ongoing debates. Some people need European price tags more than European values. They want to travel there for shopping, recreation, buy some property and return home. As I said, our common values lie in our history, the mutual influence of our cultures, literature, art and music. They are great.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: As for modern European culture and art, have they really…

Sergey Lavrov: I am referring to our historical roots.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Because I think today’s Europe is pretty empty in terms of culture.

Sergey Lavrov: There are some funny songs; we can listen to them in the car sometimes.

Dimitri Simes: Speaking of relations with the United States, I would like to ask you a personal question because you lived and worked there for a long time when you were Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Of course, you have also been dealing with the US as the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation. I lived in the US for almost 50 years.

Sergey Lavrov: Why past tense?

Dimitri Simes: I am now in Moscow. When I look at the United States today, I have the impression that it is undergoing a cultural revolution. I think that if many people in the Joseph Biden administration or the Democrats in Congress are told this, they would not feel offended in any way. They will say that a cultural revolution is long overdue, that it is finally necessary to eradicate racism, give equal and not-so-equal prevailing opportunities to sexual orientation minorities because they were also discriminated against and to develop a true democracy that requires that all those who want to vote can vote. In practice, this means that millions of people will have an opportunity to vote without necessarily being US citizens at all. This is why the Democrats emphatically oppose a ban on voting on Sundays. As you know, there was never any voting in the US on Sundays. Sunday is called God’s day. The Democrats wanted Sunday elections so that buses could go to Afro-American churches and take people to the polling stations.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Why take them by bus? They can vote by mail.

Dimitri Simes: Both options are available.

Sergey Lavrov: Why not put a ballot box right in a church?

Dimitri Simes: Exactly. Do you believe the United States is, in many respects, evolving into a different country and that this is not necessarily an irreversible process, though a momentous one? Also, would you agree that this process is not a purely American internal matter because it goes hand in hand with the emergence of a new revolutionary ideology that requires that American values spread around the world and that these American models should not be resisted as they are now in Russia and China? Can this lead to an existential conflict?

Sergey Lavrov: We will talk about this but, first, let me finish what I was saying about European culture. Here is, in my view, a telling illustration of the state of European culture today. If we talk about revolutions, including a cultural revolution, the Eurovision  contest speaks volumes.  What they are doing now to the Belarusians is repulsive. This is sheer censorship that goes like this: since we – nobody knows who exactly, some anonymous individuals – fancy that we heard some innuendoes in your song, we will not allow you to take part in the contest unless you have another song. But then the same fate befalls another Belarusian song. What does this have in common with art, culture or democracy?

As for a cultural revolution in the United States, I do feel that processes which deserve to be described like this are unfolding there. Everyone probably wants to eradicate racism and, as for us, we have never had any doubt regarding this. We were trailblazers behind the movement to secure equal rights for all people, regardless of the colour of their skin. However, we should beware that we do not slip into another extreme, the one we have observed during the Black Lives Matter events, and into aggression against white people, white US citizens.

The other day we marked an international day designated to increase awareness of this issue and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking at a General Assembly meeting, said that the previous year had been a year of the most serious and numerous manifestations of white supremacy. I have asked to be given the full text of his speech, as I want to understand what specifically he had in mind. If this is about having a sense of a trend you talked about and the willingness to follow this trend, it is lamentable. This is still the United Nations Organisation and not a venue for promoting US concepts, some US trends.

As for why they need this, yes, they want to spread this to the rest of the world. They have a huge potential to achieve this goal. Hollywood has also started to change its rules, so that everything reflects the diversity of contemporary society, which is also a form of censorship, art control and the way of imposing some artificial restrictions and requirements on others. I have seen black actors perform in Shakespeare’s comedies. The only thing I do not know is when a white actor will play Othello. You see, this is nothing less than absurdity. Political correctness reduced to absurdity will lead to no good.

The other tool is social networks and internet platforms, as well as servers located in the United States. The US flatly refuses to discuss ways of either making internet governance more democratic or establishing common rules regulating social networks for the sake of avoiding the recurrence of the situation with TikTok and other social networks we encountered during the recent events in Russia, including the spread of abominable information, like personal abuse, pedophilia and many other things. We have already approached TikTok and other social networks about the need to establish elementary rules of respect and propriety but the Americans are unwilling to make these types of rules universal.

In Anchorage, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken lectured the Chinese on human rights, ethnic minorities and democracy in China. Indeed, Mr Blinken said they [in the US] also had to address certain issues in this field but they would do it on their own. During talks with the Americans – the same goes for the Europeans – as soon as you start offering to discuss ways of democratising international relations or the supremacy of law on an international scale, they invariably get away from the subject. They want to replace international law with their own rules, which have nothing in common with the supremacy of law globally, on a universal scale. I already talked about large-scale rallies in France in defence of traditional family values. It appears that to secure the rights of one group of people, the rights of another group have to be infringed upon. That is, promoting these values around the world is not an end in itself, but rather a tool for ensuring their dominance.

Dimitri Simes: Richard Nixon once told Nikita Khrushchev that there would be no true harmony or true partnership between the Soviet Union and America unless the Soviet Union stops spreading its ideology. And that was a big problem in the Brezhnev era, I must say, because they discussed a détente while at the same time supporting a continued international class struggle. As I see it, Leonid Brezhnev was doing it without much conviction. But now, things have turned the other way around. Now the collective West is eager to proliferate its ideology and values. And they seem to be doing so with far greater conviction and perseverance than the Soviet Union under Leonid Brezhnev ever tried. Does this pose a risk of collision?

Sergey Lavrov: Under Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet Union saw no threat to its existence. One can argue whether that stance was far-sighted enough, but that is how it was. Today’s West senses a threat to its dominance. It is a fact. So all those wiggling moves, including the invention of some ‘rules’ – as in the rules-based international order, something the West has come up with to replace the UN Charter – they reflect precisely this tendency.

I agree that we have swapped positions, or rather the Soviet Union and the modern West have. I don’t think this will offend anyone since this is not a big secret. I spoke with Rex Tillerson when he was US Secretary of State. He is a thoughtful and experienced politician and diplomat. It was good to work with him. We disagreed on most things, but we always wanted to continue the dialogue to bring our positions just a little bit closer at least. When he first told me they were concerned about Russia’s interference in some elections, I said they had not proved anything to us yet, and all we heard was accusations. When they began to accuse us of interfering in their elections, we repeatedly proposed using the special channel we had for exchanging information about threats to information networks and organisations. They refused. We had repeatedly offered dialogue even before that, when Barack Obama was president, from October 2016 until Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. They always refused.

I pointed out to Tillerson that they had in fact directly stipulated in legislation that the US State Department should spend $20 million a year to support Russian civil society and promote democracy. That was not even a suspicion on our part as they did it openly (for example, the Ukraine Support Act). There was nothing to prove – they just announced that they would interfere. He told me that was totally different. I asked him why, and he said because we promoted authoritarianism, and they spread democracy. That was it.

Dimitri Simes: And he said it with sincere conviction, didn’t he?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Mr Lavrov, naturally, this policy leads to a drastic polarisation. The polarisation of international relations is a dangerous thing. We remember the early 19th century, and the early 20th century. It always ended in wars. The Americans, losing their global dominance, will create (they have already announced this) a new ‘alliance of democracies.’ I mean create American and pro-American alliances, compelling everyone else to make their choice. This polarisation will increase. What will this mean for the world and for the alliances where Russia is a member? I mean BRICS (which I think they will try to split up), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). How far can this go? How dangerous is it?

Sergey Lavrov: This is a deliberate policy and an extension of the agenda we are talking about – about the United States promoting democracy and spreading benefit. The Americans and Europe are very active (but the Americans are especially active) in Central Asia. They are trying to create their own formats such as C5+1. Russia is also part of a 5+1 format in Central Asia, in addition to the SCO, CIS, EAEU and CSTO – one that involves the foreign ministers of five Central Asian countries and your humble servant. That format is useful. True, the volume of economic ties that the US and the EU are now building with Central Asia is still incomparable with our economic interpenetration, but they are pursuing an unambiguous goal to weaken our ties with our allies and strategic partners in every possible way.

The numerous initiatives around the Afghan reconciliation and around the Indo-Pacific region envision Central Asia’s reorientation from its current vector to the South – to help rebuild Afghanistan and at the same time weaken its ties with the Russian Federation.

I could talk for a long time about the Indo-Pacific region and the Indo-Pacific concept. That multi-layered initiative is aimed at hindering China’s Belt and Road Initiative and limiting the Chinese influence in the region, creating constant irritants for that country. There have been some slips about creating an ‘Asian NATO.’ Although in the US interpretation the Indo-Pacific region is described as ‘free and open,’ the chances that positions will be worked out through an equal or open process there are slim. It is already obvious that it isn’t ‘open’. China has not been invited; rather, that country is declared a target for containment. We have not been invited either, which means the attitude to Russia is similar. I would say those are long-term trends. We are talking about this frankly with our neighbours and closest allies. I am confident that they understand all these threats. None of them even considers the possibility of anyone telling them who to talk or not talk to. It is their sovereign right to choose their partners.

The term ‘multi-vector’ has become semi-abusive, but we are not giving up the multi-vector approach. We are open to cooperation and friendship with everyone who is ready for relations based on equality, mutual respect, compromise and balance of interests. That our Western colleagues are clearly abusing this approach, especially in post-Soviet countries, is an obvious fact.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Is it possible to avoid the actual military scenario in these circumstances? Isn’t it time to create an alliance of free countries given the role reversal that has taken place in the modern world? An alliance, perhaps, of genuine democracies that will oppose the ongoing all-out attack?

Sergey Lavrov: We will not get involved in this kind of political engineering. Russia is committed to the United Nations. When France and Germany put forward the effective multilateralism concept, we asked them what it meant. There was silence followed by joint articles written by the foreign ministers of France and Germany stating that the European Union is an example of effective multilateralism, and everyone needs to adapt to the European processes. Our question why the readily available and universal UN multilateral platform is not a good option remained unanswered. However, the answer is there, and we mentioned it more than once today. They are making up the rules that the international order is supposed to be based on.

Dimitri Simes: Mr Minister, we have taken up much of your time and we appreciate it. But we cannot let you go without asking you one more personal question. What is it like to be Russia’s Foreign Minister in this rapidly changing world?

You have worked in several completely different eras. When you were Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, it was a period of Russia’s “romantic infatuation” with the United States, though perhaps not quite on the terms that were beneficial for Russia. In the early 21st century, Russia was in search of partnerships. Well, then we got what we are witnessing now. How do you, a person who, in many ways, is the architect of this era, a witness and a participant of this process, find your work in this very complex role?

Sergey Lavrov: To put it short, I never get bored. That is if we are talking about the different eras in my career. We all lived in these eras, and we have seen these transitions. You asked me earlier whether the United States has changed. It has. A lot.

Dimitri Simes: Have you changed?

Sergey Lavrov: Probably. It’s not for me to say. A person perceives the environment as a constantly evolving process. People grow up, get smarter or dumber, but they have no way of seeing it.

Dimitri Simes: Do you think we have all become disappointed in many ways, but we have grown, too, as a result of these experiences, and, of course, in the first place, a person holding such positions as yours?

Sergey Lavrov: This is true, of course. How can this not influence the formation of a person? The personality never stops to evolve. It is something that lasts until the end of our lives. Those revolutionary developments had a strong influence on me. I believe the 9/11 attacks were the turning point in the American life. I was in Manhattan, in New York, at the time, and I felt that odour. I was having a hard time trying to make a phone call, because the phones went dead. Since then, New York has become a different city. This free city, living its own life around the clock and enjoying it, became wary and started looking over its shoulder to see if there was someone around who could hurt it.

This suspicion then spread deeply into American society. There were probably serious reasons for that. I have to commend the US intelligence services, because since then, apart from the Boston Marathon, which we had warned them about, there have been no other terrorist attacks. However, wariness and aloofness can still be felt. Perhaps, there are people who want to take advantage of this in order to do things that you just mentioned. If 11 million Americans become eligible to vote, welcome to the one-party system, Back in the USSR.

Vyacheslav Nikonov: Mr Lavrov, thank you very much for the interview. Now that we are within the historic walls of the Foreign Ministry’s Mansion on Spiridonovka, a place where history and great diplomacy were made, including the diplomacy of the great powers, I would like to wish us all the return of diplomacy. If it comes back, as President Vladimir Putin is conveying to President Joe Biden, in the form of a live-stream dialogue, then The Great Game will be at your service and at the service of the two presidents.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you. President Biden has already said that diplomacy has returned to US foreign policy. Your dream has come true.

source: https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4662534

Iraqi Resistance Against US Forces to Persist Until Full Withdrawal – Asaib Leader

Iraqi Resistance Against US Forces to Persist Until Full Withdrawal - Asaib Leader

By Staff, Agencies

Leader of Iraq’s anti-terror movement Asaib Ahl al-Haq Sheikh Qais Khazali said the armed resistance against American forces occupying Iraq will continue until they are fully removed from the Arab country.

“As resistance groups, we have taken up and will continue to take up arms to destroy any US or US military presence on Iraqi soil,” Khazali said on Thursday.

“There is no room for American military bases, neither in al-Assad nor in al-Harir,” he said. “This is the decision and promise of the men of resistance.”

Iraqi lawmakers, last year, approved a bill requiring the Baghdad government to end the presence of all foreign military forces in the Arab country.

The Iraqi MPs’ decision came two days after the high-profile assassination of top Iranian and Iraqi anti-terror commanders – General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards [IRG], and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units [PMU] – near Baghdad airport in a drone strike authorized by former US President Donald Trump.

Anti-American sentiments rose sharply following the assassination of the two top commanders, who played a major role in the defeat of Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] in Iraq. It is estimated that there are currently 2,500 American troops in Iraq.

“We emphasize that the current operations of the resistance will continue and will increase everywhere in Iraq, in the west and in the north of the country. This is a fundamental issue which we want to be a national stance,” Khazali said.

He said demanding the expulsion of American forces amounts to the implementation of the country’s constitution.

The United States is set to resume strategic talks with Iraqi officials this month over the status of its combat forces in Iraq.

Talks between the US and Iraq began in June 2020 under the Trump administration. But the upcoming talks are the first under the Biden administration.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Khazali warned of certain countries’ agendas in Iraq, especially that of the United Arab Emirates, saying the UAE is seeking to impact Iraq’s election results.

“Therefore, we do not accept the result of an election handled by the Emirates’ rulers,” Khazali said, adding that the UAE’s plot will not be implemented as long as national forces and the anti-terror PMU forces are present in Iraq.

Earlier in March, Khazali warned of a conspiracy against Iraq hatched by an Emirati security team which is reportedly in the country to influence the Iraqi intelligence service.

In his Thursday remarks, he also lauded the PMU forces for their sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.

Khazali also warned of secret attempts aimed at normalizing Iraq’s ties with the ‘Israeli’ occupation regime, saying that Iraq will not yield to such attempts.

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The Zionist Protection Racket

The Zionist infrastructure has been a racket since its inception, and politicians like John Kerry had to find that out the hard way.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is alexis2.jpg
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, history of Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the new book Zionism vs. the West: How Talmudic Ideology is Undermining Western Culture. He is currently working on a book tentatively titled, Kevin MacDonald’s Abject Failure: A Philosophical and Moral Critique of Evolutionary Psychology, Sociobiology, and White Identity. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.
Logoswars1@gmail.com

By Jonas E. Alexis –

March 31, 2021

…by Jonas E. Alexis, VT Editor, and Henry Makow

Henry Makow has a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982 and is the author of best-selling books such as Cruel Hoax: Feminism & New World Order and Illuminati: The Cult that Hijacked the World.

JEA: The Zionist infrastructure has been a racket since its inception, and politicians like John Kerry had to find that out the hard way. At one point, Kerry was so angry at the mad man in Tel Aviv that he told him: “We’re conducting foreign policy, this isn’t a synagogue.”

Kerry moved on to say that instead of serious, logical and constructive foreign policy, America is being hoodwinked by “sandpaper like Netanyahu. Netanyahu just drove us crazy…because he was just unbelievably difficult.”[1] Netanyahu drove virtually every serious politician crazy.

This is one reason why Obama has declared in his recent book that, during his administration, Netanyahu was a problem child in the Middle East. Stephen M. Walt of Harvard and John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago noted that Obama never believed that Iran could be an existential threat to the U.S. or Israel.[2]

In any event, the Zionist power is a house built on sand, and Henry Makow has something to say about this whole racket.

HM: A “protection racket” is a scam where an aggressor instigates an attack, blames a bogeyman, and then offers to protect the victim from this bogeyman in return for money and power.

The “War on Terror” is a protection racket. The aggressor is the world financial elite known as the “Crown” based in the City of London. Their instrument is the Zionist project, specifically Israel, the Mossad and its Neo Con allies.

The victim is the people of the United States and the West in general. The goal is the overthrow of Western Civilization, and the establishment of a world police state called the “New World Order.”

“Zionism is but an incident of a far-reaching plan,” said leading American Zionist Louis Marshall, counsel for bankers Kuhn Loeb in 1917. “It is merely a convenient peg on which to hang a powerful weapon.”

The head of the Department of Homeland Security is Israeli dual citizen and Zionist Michael Chertoff. He was the New Jersey State Attorney when five Mossad agents were arrested after witnesses saw them congratulating themselves on the destruction of the World Trade Center. Their van tested positive for explosives. (See Chris Bollyn article below.) Speculators who shorted airline stocks before 9-11 have been identified as Israelis apparently.

“ANTI SEMITISM” THE ORIGINAL PROTECTION RACKET

The Jewish elite regards the Jewish rank-and-file as pawns to be manipulated. Jews had to be terrorized into setting up Israel as a “national home,” i.e. colonizing the Middle East and creating a center of world government. World Finance funded the Nazis. Zionists actively collaborated with them.

Zionist betrayal is the reason Jews went passively to their deaths, says Rabbi Moshe Shonfeld in his book “Holocaust Victims Accuse.” Non-Zionist Jews were worth more dead than alive to the Zionist leadership who, Shonfeld says, reaped the moral and financial capital from their “sacrifice.” See my “Zionism: Compulsory Suicide for Jews.”

The Jewish elite has a long history of manipulating Jews in this manner. For example, in 1950 a wave of anti-Semitism and terrorism in Iraq made Naeim Giladi, 21, join the Zionist underground. Giladi was imprisoned, tortured and sentenced to death by Iraqi authorities.

He escaped and fled to Israel only to discover that the bombings had been engineered by his fellow Zionists to dupe Iraqi Jews into going to Israel. An ancient community was deprived of its wealth and reduced to second-class citizen status in Israel, replacing Palestinian labor. See my “Zionists Double Crossed Iraqi Jews”

Israel provoked attacks from its neighbors in order to “retain its moral tension” according to the secret diary of Prime Minister Moshe Sharett. The state must “invent dangers” to start war and thereby “acquire our space,”
he wrote. See “The Zionist Roots of the War on Terror.”

“ANTI SEMITISM” BECOMES “ANTI AMERICANISM”

The pogrom on Sept. 11 2001 was designed to stampede Americans into forfeiting their civil rights and invading the Middle East.

There is a drumbeat in the media to convince Americans that they are victims of Muslim fanatics. This propaganda campaign is carried out by Neo Cons (a.k.a. Zionists.) In his book, “The New Jerusalem: Zionist Power in America,” the late Michael Collins Piper wrote:

“In the build-up to the Iraq war, Zionist propagandists and the media increasingly began touting the message to Americans that “the whole world is against us”… and the Israelis are our only real solid dependable ally …The theme that anti Americanism had run rampant was instilled in Americans for the very purpose of making them “anti” everyone who refused to support the…Iraq war…and the more broad ranging Zionist agenda.” (157)

Sound familiar? This is the tactic they use on Jews. Piper says that Zionism is being equated with Americanism. Zionist agents like Nathan Sharansky crafted the overblown and specious rhetoric of Bush’s second inaugural speech that committed the US to advancing the Zionist agenda using force.

History provides a sobering warning as to where this could be leading. In his essay, The Nature of Zionism, Russian author Vladimir Stepin writes,

“During the civil war in Russia, the Zionists also performed another task. Using some units of the Red Army – Trotsky was the chairman of the country’s Revolutionary Military Council – they organized the Jewish pogrom in Seversk.

“The result of this was the “Law on Those Involved in Pogroms” of 27 July 1918. In accordance with this law, a monstrous Zionist terror raged in Russia for ten years: a person accused of anti-Semitism was, without any argument being allowed, declared to be involved in pogroms and placed against the wall to be shot.

“Not only anti-Zionists, but the best representatives of the intelligentsia of Russia, could be accused of being anti-Semitic, and so too could anyone one felt like accusing of it. People saw who was exercising power in Russia and expressed their discontent with it. 90% of the members of the Cheka – the Soviet security organ, 1918-1922 – were Zionists.

“Apart from the law on those involved in pogroms, the Zionists practiced genocide against the ethnic groups inhabiting Russia, and they did so by accusing people of counter-revolutionary activities, sabotage, and so on, irrespective of whether or not the people in question really had conducted such activities. It was standard practice merely to put them against the wall to be shot.”

CONCLUSION

My hunch is that the central banking elite, using Masonic secret societies in the military and intelligence agencies, is responsible for 90% of terrorism. The purpose is to manipulate people into advancing the goals of the New World Order, which includes destroying true religion, nation states, democracy, ethnic identities, and family. In their mind, they have to destabilize and enslave us to protect their monopoly on government credit i.e. money creation.

They are running a protection racket to protect us from their artificial “terror.” Zionists or Americans who carry out their agenda could end up holding the bag if something goes wrong, or as I should say right.

Remember they are challenging the greatest power in the universe: God, or Truth as witnessed in the souls of all human beings. They are most vulnerable now on the 9-11 attack which they perpetrated. If we rise up as one to demand the truth about this atrocity, their obscene criminal enterprise will start to unravel.

[1]  Quoted in Gil Troy, “A History of U.S.-Israel Breakups and Makeups,” Daily Beast, March 3, 2015.

[2] Stephen M. Walt, “Bibi Blows Up the Special Relationship,” Foreign Policy, March 2, 2015.

BURNING U.S. CONVOYS FIESTA IN IRAQ

South Front

MARCH 30, 2021

One of the most common occurrences in Iraq in 2021 is a US supply convoy being blown up by an IED.

On March 29th, three separate supply consignments were targeted. The first one took place in the Al Diwaniyah province in central Iraq.

The two other attacks were reported in the provinces of Dhi-Qar and Babil.

No casualties were reported however, only damage. No loss of human life is an important fact, due to the fact that the convoys are largely carried out by Iraqi contractors, since US forces no longer take part in logistics.  The aim of the pro-Iranian groups that target the supplies is to force the US out of Iraq.

It is unlikely that these convoys will stop being targeted anytime soon, but strikes on US positions appear to have subsided in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, in northern Syria and Greater Idlib the chaos is here to stay.

Trying to improve the situation, Russia proposed to Turkey to reopen 3 humanitarian crossings into Greater Idlib, but that failed. Ankara, similarly to how it carries out its ceasefire commitments, put no effort towards attempting to contain any of the factions that it backs.

In northern Syria clashes between the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and the factions backed by Turkey continue.

On March 29th, a large explosion was reported in the town of Ras al-Ain, which is under the control of Turkish-backed forces.

Nearby, clashes between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Turkish-backed militants were reported in the Sher district of Afrin.

According to the reports by the Syrian Observation for Human Rights, on March 28th, SDF forces carried out a successful operation in the Ras al-Ain countryside, killing 5 Turkish-backed militants and wounding 3 others.

It is a back and forth struggle, especially since the SDF stopped giving oil to the Turkish-backed factions to smuggle for Ankara.

In Greater Idlib, the Russian Air Force carried out an airstrike on a militant headquarters.  The attack reportedly took place near the town of Martin in the Western Idlib countryside.

These strikes, as well as shelling from the Syrian Arab Army will continue as long as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and the other militant groups in Greater Idlib continue to regularly violate the ceasefire agreement.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, in Yemen, Ansar Allah (the Houthis) continue their largely successful operations against the Saudi-led coalition.

In the southern Taiz province, Ansar Allah repelled an attack of Saudi proxies. Reportedly, the Houthis destroyed 3 vehicles and the enemy lost a large number of fighters.

A missile was launched at a Saudi-led forces position in Marib, however no casualties or damage was reported.

At least two drones were used to attack the Khamis Mushait Airport.

Saudi Arabia, on its part, continues its heavy airstrike activity, but it seems to be achieving close to nothing.

Iraqi ‘Resistance’ Groups Attack Five US Supply Convoys (Video)

MARCH 25, 2021

Illustrative image

On March 25, five convoys carrying supplies and equipment for the US-led coalition came under attack in different parts of Iraq.

The attacks took place in the following areas:

  • The first supply convoy was attacked near the city of al-Diwaniyah in the southern province of al-Qādisiyyah. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq – ‘Ashab al-Kahf claimed responsibility for the attack;
  • The second supply convoy was attacked near the city of al-Nasiriyah in the southern province of Dhi Qar. Saraya Awli’a al-Dam claimed responsibility for the attack;
  • The third supply convoy was attacked near the district of Yusufiya in the outskirts of the capital, Baghdad. The International Resistance claimed responsibility for the attack. Three trucks were allegedly damaged. The group shared a video of the attack;

From the Earth to the Moon: Biden’s China Policy Doomed from the Start

March 17, 2021

US President Biden and Vice President Harris Meet Virtually with their Counterparts in the ‘Quad’. (Photo: Video Grab)

By Ramzy Baroud

A much anticipated American foreign policy move under the Biden Administration on how to counter China’s unhindered economic growth and political ambitions came in the form of a virtual summit on March 12, linking, aside from the United States, India, Australia and Japan.

Although the so-called ‘Quad’ revealed nothing new in their joint statement, the leaders of these four countries spoke about the ‘historic’ meeting, described by ‘The Diplomat’ website as “a significant milestone in the evolution of the grouping”.

Actually, the joint statement has little substance and certainly nothing new by way of a blueprint on how to reverse – or even slow down – Beijing’s geopolitical successes, growing military confidence and increasing presence in or around strategic global waterways.

For years, the ‘Quad’ has been busy formulating a unified China strategy but it has failed to devise anything of practical significance. ‘Historic’ meetings aside, China is the world’s only major economy that is predicted to yield significant economic growth this year – and imminently. International Monetary Fund’s projections show that the Chinese economy is expected to expand by 8.1 percent in 2021 while, on the other hand, according to data from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the US’ GDP has declined by around 3.5 percent in 2020.

The ‘Quad’ – which stands for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – began in 2007, and was revived in 2017, with the obvious aim of repulsing China’s advancement in all fields. Like most American alliances, the ‘Quad’ is the political manifestation of a military alliance, namely the Malabar Naval Exercises. The latter started in 1992 and soon expanded to include all four countries.

Since Washington’s ‘pivot to Asia’, i.e., the reversal of established US foreign policy that was predicated on placing greater focus on the Middle East, there is little evidence that Washington’s confrontational policies have weakened Beijing’s presence, trade or diplomacy throughout the continent. Aside from close encounters between the American and Chinese navies in the South China Sea, there is very little else to report.

While much media coverage has focused on the US’ pivot to Asia, little has been said about China’s pivot to the Middle East, which has been far more successful as an economic and political endeavor than the American geostrategic shift.

The US’ seismic change in its foreign policy priorities stemmed from its failure to translate the Iraq war and invasion of 2003 into a decipherable geo-economic success as a result of seizing control of Iraq’s oil largesse – the world’s second-largest proven oil reserves. The US strategy proved to be a complete blunder.

In an article published in the Financial Times in September 2020, Jamil Anderlini raises a fascinating point. “If oil and influence were the prizes, then it seems China, not America, has ultimately won the Iraq war and its aftermath – without ever firing a shot,” he wrote.

Not only is China now Iraq’s biggest trading partner, Beijing’s massive economic and political influence in the Middle East is a triumph. China is now, according to the Financial Times, the Middle East’s biggest foreign investor and a strategic partnership with all Gulf States – save Bahrain. Compare this with Washington’s confused foreign policy agenda in the region, its unprecedented indecisiveness, absence of a definable political doctrine and the systematic breakdown of its regional alliances.

This paradigm becomes clearer and more convincing when understood on a global scale. By the end of 2019, China became the world’s leader in terms of diplomacy, as it then boasted 276 diplomatic posts, many of which are consulates. Unlike embassies, consulates play a more significant role in terms of trade and economic exchanges. According to 2019 figures which were published in ‘Foreign Affairs’ magazine, China has 96 consulates compared with the US’ 88. Till 2012, Beijing lagged significantly behind Washington’s diplomatic representation, precisely by 23 posts.

Wherever China is diplomatically present, economic development follows. Unlike the US’ disjointed global strategy, China’s global ambitions are articulated through a massive network, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, estimated at trillions of dollars. When completed, BRI is set to unify more than sixty countries around Chinese-led economic strategies and trade routes. For this to materialize, China quickly moved to establish closer physical proximity to the world’s most strategic waterways, heavily investing in some and, as in the case of Bab al-Mandab Strait, establishing its first-ever overseas military base in Djibouti, located in the Horn of Africa.

At a time when the US economy is shrinking and its European allies are politically fractured, it is difficult to imagine that any American plan to counter China’s influence, whether in the Middle East, Asia or anywhere else, will have much success.

The biggest hindrance to Washington’s China strategy is that there can never be an outcome in which the US achieves a clear and precise victory. Economically, China is now driving global growth, thus balancing out the US-international crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Hurting China economically would weaken the US as well as the global markets.

The same is true politically and strategically. In the case of the Middle East, the pivot to Asia has backfired on multiple fronts. On the one hand, it registered no palpable success in Asia while, on the other, it created a massive vacuum for China to refocus its own strategy in the Middle East.

Some wrongly argue that China’s entire political strategy is predicated on its desire to merely ‘do business’. While economic dominance is historically the main drive of all superpowers, Beijing’s quest for global supremacy is hardly confined to finance. On many fronts, China has either already taken the lead or is approaching there. For example, on March 9, China and Russia signed an agreement to construct the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS). Considering Russia’s long legacy in space exploration and China’s recent achievements in the field – including the first-ever spacecraft landing on the South Pole-Aitken Basin area of the moon – both countries are set to take the lead in the resurrected space race.

Certainly, the US-led ‘Quad’ meeting was neither historic nor a game-changer, as all indicators attest that China’s global leadership will continue unhindered, a consequential event that is already reordering the world’s geopolitical paradigms which have been in place for over a century.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

ما الذي يُعَدّ للعراق؟

عمرو علان - Amro 🇵🇸 (@amrobilal77) | Twitter
كاتب فلسطيني

الأخبار

عمرو علان

الثلاثاء 9 آذار 2021

يعكف عادةً ساكن البيت الأبيض الجديد في المئة يوم الأولى بعد تنصيبه على رسم الخطوط العريضة التي ستحكم سياسات إدارته خلال فترته الرئاسية، لكن يبدو أنه بات من الممكن تلمّس معالم استراتيجيات جو بايدن تجاه منطقة المشرق العربي، في قراءة أولية معتمدين بشكل رئيسي على ما أقدم عليه الأميركي أخيراً وتحركات بعض حلفائه الإقليميين، ولا سيما أن هذه المعطيات تتقاطع مع بعض المعلومات المتوافرة من مصادر مطلعة.

لم تفلح إدارتا باراك أوباما ودونالد ترامب في حسم الحرب على سوريا لمصلحتَي الولايات المتحدة الأميركية وربيبها الكيان الصهيوني من الناحية الإستراتيجية، وحقّقت سوريا ومحور المقاومة عموماً إنجازات متتالية خلال السنوات الماضية، وبات نفوذ المحور في تصاعد على مساحة الإقليم بشكل عام، رغم العثرات في مواضع، وبطء الإنجازات في مواضع أخرى، وبدأ طريق طهران بيروت مروراً ببغداد ودمشق بالرسوخ رويداً رويداً، ويدرك الأميركي ما لهذا الأمر من تهديد على نفوذه، ليس من الناحية العسكرية وحسب، بل الأهم هو ما يتيحه ترسيخ هذا الخط لأطراف محور المقاومة من فرص تبادل اقتصادي وفرص إنمائية، ما يمثّل تحدياً جدياً لسياسات الضغوط الاقتصادية القصوى التي باتت تتَّبِعُها الولايات المتحدة الأميركية في ظل انحسار خيارات الانخراط العسكري المباشر لديها.

وكان من المتوقّع أن ينصرف الأميركي إلى التركيز على التحدّيين الصيني والروسي بناءً على اللهجة العدائية الأميركية المتصاعدة تجاه هاتين القوتين العظميين، لكن يظهر أن الأجنحة الصهيونية داخل الإدارة الأميركية نجحت فيوضع ملفات المنطقة – بما تمثّل من تحديات حقيقية للكيان الصهيوني – ضمن سلم أولويات إدارة جو بايدن الكثيرة.

تُعدّ زيادة ترابط الساحتين العراقية والسورية أحد إفرازات أحداث العشرية الأخيرة، حيث باتت تؤثر إحداهما على الأخرى بشكل مباشر، وبالتالي على عموم محور المقاومة، وكون الروسي حاضراً في الساحة السورية، وما لهذا الحضور من تأثير على هامش المناورة الأميركية في تلك الساحة، يبدو أن الأميركي يتجه إلى محاولة كسر حلقة التواصل بين أطراف محور المقاومة عبر إحداث تطورات على الساحة العراقية تصبّ في مصلحته، لكون هامش الحركة لديه في العراق أوسع، ونظراً إلى خصوبة الساحة العراقية بسبب التناقضات في الداخل العراقي، ويبدو أن الغارة الجوية الأميركية الأخيرة على فصائل الحشد الشعبي العراقي تأتي في سياق رسم ملامح المرحلة القادمة وفي سياق تحضير ساحة العمليات الأميركية، سيّما أن اختيار منطقة الحدود العراقية السورية لتنفيذ هذه الغارة له دلالاته، وكان لافتاً أيضاً ظهور رغد صدام حسين على قناة العربية المملوكة سعودياً في سلسلة حلقات تلفزيونية، ورفضها في تلك المقابلة استبعاد احتمالية أن يكون لها دور مستقبلي في العراق، ما يمكن قراءته كإشارة أخرى على وجود هكذا توجُّه لدى المحور الصهيوأميركي.

تشير المصادر المطّلعة إلى وجود خطة أميركية لإحداث بلبلة أمنية في الداخل العراقي، والقيام بعمليات تصفية لمفاصل فاعلة قريبة من محور المقاومة من خلال قوات خاصة وعمليات أمنية، أملاً في قلب التوازنات الحاكمة في العراق حالياً لمصلحة الأميركي، ونقله من موقع إلى آخر، ويرجّح أن يكون هذا بالتوافق مع شخصيات تشغل مناصب عليا في الحكومة العراقية الراهنة، وبرغم النفي الصادر عن وزارة الدفاع العراقية، فلقد كان لافتاً تصريح الناطق باسم البنتاغون جون كيربي عن تنسيق الغارة الجوية الأخيرة ضد الحشد الشعبي مع الحكومة العراقية قبل أن يتراجع ويسحب هذا التصريح.

انتقال العراق من تموضعه الحالي إلى تموضع أقرب للسياسات الأميركية يُفضي إلى تشديد الخناق الاقتصادي المفروض على الدولة السورية، إضافة إلى كسر حلقة التواصل بين أطراف محور المقاومة كما أسلفنا، ويأمل الأميركي من الحصار الخانق المفروض على الدولة السورية تحقيق مكاسب في الانتخابات السورية المقبلة، وانتزاع تنازلات من القيادة السورية في قضية استقلال الأكراد في الجزيرة السورية، حيث آبار النفط وحقول القمح السورية.
إذا صحّت هذه التوقعات، فهذا يفرض على محور المقاومة رسم خطوط حمر أمام العبث الأميركي، وهذا متاح لأن المبادرة في الإقليم لا تزال بيد محور المقاومة، بعد تجاوز كل أشكال الضغوط في السنوات الأربع المنصرمة.

* كاتب فلسطيني

Pope Francis meets Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq – Now what?

By Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor -March 7, 2021

Hayder al-Khoei: Pope Francis is visiting Iraq to meet with Ayatollah  Sistani. Here's why it's a historic trip.

…from PressTV, Tehran

[ Editor’s Note: The Pope and Sistani held an historic meeting between two of the largest religious bodies, the 1.2 billion Catholics and Sistani’s Shia Muslims. Despite Iraq’s Covid issues, the men met without masks, despite the Vatican’s ambassador to Iraq being in isolation due to exposure. Sunni Muslims later joined the talks during the Pope’s three day visit.

The topic, as expected, was peace and secuity, not only worldwide but in Iraq, a country where its once 1.5 million Christian community is estimated to be 250,000 now. And Pope Francis did not shy away from discussing religious persecution with ISIS in the crosshairs.

“We believers cannot be silent when terrorism abuses religion,” the Pope said. “Indeed, we are called unambiguously to dispel all misunderstandings. Let us not allow the light of heaven to be overshadowed by the clouds of hatred.”

He specifically singled out the Yazidi community who suffered terribly, with its women kidnapped, sexually abused, and sold openly in ISIS slave markets, all this done under the Saudi Imams having provided cover on the mass rapes of Yazidis by classifying the events as ‘temporary marriages’.

This was an act of terrorism in itself, one which not only the US never objected to, and the Saudi religious community never santioned the perpetrators. The US coalition’s stand down acted as de facto approval, because they wanted to Balkanize Syria.

A day of religious and judicial reckoning is long overdue on this horrible tragedy, with way too many taking the easy route of just looking away. May the Pope’s visit spark a badly needed flame for justice in the region… Jim W. Dean ]

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The Vatican

First published … March 06, 2021

Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, has held closed-door talks with Iraq’s prominent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on the second day of his visit to the Arab country.

The meeting took place at Ayatollah Sistani’s residence in the holy city of Najaf on Saturday morning.

The office of Ayatollah Sistani said in a statement that he highlighted challenges facing mankind and stressed the role of belief in God and commitment to high moral values ​​in overcoming them.

Ayatollah Sistani cited injustice, oppression, poverty, religious persecution, repression of fundamental freedoms, wars, violence, economic siege and displacement of many people in the region, especially the Palestinians in the occupied territories as some of the major problems which afflict the world.

The cleric touched on the role which religious and spiritual leaders can play in tackling some of these problems. Ayatollah Sistani said religious leaders have to encourage parties invovled in conflicts, particularly the world powers, to give primacy to rationality over confrontation.

He also stressed the importance of efforts to strengthen peaceful coexistence and solidarity based on mutual respect among the followers of different religions and intellectual groups.

Ayatollah Sistani emphasized that the Christian citizens of Iraq, like all other Iraqis, should live in security and peace and enjoy their fundamental rights.

He referred to the role played by the religious authority in protecting Christians and all those who have suffered from the criminal acts of terrorists over the past years. After the one-hour meeting, Pope Francis travelled to the Iraqi city of Ur, which is believed to be the birthplace of Prophet Abraham (Peace be upon him).

The pontiff arrived in Iraq on Friday for a three-day trip amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to Ayatollah Sistani, Pope Francis has so far met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and President Barham Salih.

Iraq’s Christian community has seen its numbers drop from nearly 1.5 million to about 250,000, less than 1% of the population over the last two decades. Iraqi Christians fled the country to escape the chaos and violence that ensued after the US invasion of the country in 2003.

Tens of thousands were also displaced when the Daesh terrorist group overran vast swathes in northern Iraq in 2014, targeting various ethnic and religious groups of the country.

The Takfiri terrorist group was vanquished in December 2017 after a three-year anti-terror military campaign with the crucial support of neighboring Iran. Daesh’s remnants, though, keep staging sporadic attacks across Iraq, attempting to regroup and unleash a new reign of terror.

The terrorist group has intensified its deadly attacks in Iraq since January 2020, when the US assassinated legendary anti-terror Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis near Baghdad airport.

Saraya Awliya al-Dam group, part of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units better known as Hash al-Sha’ab, announced in a statement that it had stopped all its anti-terror operations during the pope’s visit and out of respect for Ayatollah Sistani.

The statement also condemned the assassination of al-Muhandis and General Soleimani who was targeted during an official visit to Iraq.

“We, Arabs, warmly receive our guests. Unlike the United States which betrayed the official guest of Iraq and warrior of Islam, General Soleimani, we will never follow such an approach,” the statement said.

Saraya Awliya al-Dam group also published a poster, featuring General Soleimani’s severed hand after the US drone airstrike and the Arabic words, “Does the Pope know this is the hand that brought the ringing of bells back to churches.”

Ahead of the visit, infectious disease experts had expressed concern about Pope Francis’ trip to Iraq, given a sharp rise in coronavirus infections there, a fragile health care system and the unavoidable likelihood that some people would crowd to see him.

Health experts say from a purely epidemiological standpoint, as well as the public health message it sends, the papal trip to Iraq amid a global pandemic is not wise.

Their concerns were reinforced with the news last week that the Vatican ambassador to Iraq, the main point person for the trip who would have escorted Francis to all his appointments, had tested positive for COVID-19 and was self-isolating.

BIOGRAPHYJim W. Dean, Managing EditorManaging EditorJim W. Dean is Managing Editor of Veterans Today involved in operations, development, and writing, plus an active schedule of TV and radio interviews. Read Full Complete Bio >>>

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Biden becomes the fourth successive President to bomb Iraqis: how far could this latest round of escalation go?

Biden becomes the fourth successive President to bomb Iraqis: how far could this latest round of escalation go?

March 04, 2021

By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

Another president, another act of aggression. For the past few decades, it’s almost like a mandatory rite of passage for US presidents to bomb Muslim countries. I don’t think many of us are surprised to see that current US President Joe Biden turned out to be no different to his predecessors, when Washington once more bombed Iraqis last week.

Continuing the same policy of terrorism and humiliation from the Trump era, Washington felt the need to show strength against the Resistance forces on the Syrian-Iraqi border area. What angers me most, is not just the terrorist act of killing people who are fighting US occupation and US backed terrorism, but the fact that Washington cannot and will not recognize that there is a growing local resistance to Zionist hegemony, instead resorting to degrading and humiliating legitimate resistance groups such as Hashd al-Sha’abi of Iraq (PMU) or the Houthis of Yemen by labelling them “Iranian backed proxies”.

Everything and everyone that oppose Washington and Zionist hegemony in West Asia are “Iranian backed”. Whether it is a Houthi attack on a Saudi airport, a Taliban attack on a NATO convoy or a suspiciously random rocket attack on a US base in Iraq, it is always Iran’s fault and somehow the Islamic Republic must be held responsible for these attacks. Both Washington and the Zionist entity keep attacking Resistance forces in the very area where ISIS remnants have been re-emergent for the past months, claiming their right to self defense. Self defense?! America is more than 10 000 kilometres away. US troops are occupying Syrian and Iraqi territory and Washington claims the right to self defense? This narrative has been drilled into the minds of so many people in the West that nobody even reacts when one of the Obama gang’s old crude liars, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby was telling the press that Washington acted to “de-escalate” the situation when it bombed Resistance forces on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

What Kirby really meant by “de-escalation” was that he believes that Washington sent Iran and its allies a “clear message”, that messing with Washington is unwise. The sad part is that he and the other psychopaths in Washington actually believe that the so called “message” will in any way deter the Resistance forces in West Asia. It is pretty clear what the US is doing with these random attacks on the Resistance forces. Washington knows the realities on the ground and acts in response to them. In Syria, it has become clear for Washington that Damascus won’t fall, that dream came down crashing when Russia entered the war in 2015. So, Washington is acting to deny Syria and her allies their well deserved victory through the occupation and looting of eastern Syria. Washington will act for as long as it takes to starve the Syrian people into submission.

In Iraq, Washington, being well aware that the Iraqi parliament has voted to expel US forces from Iraq, is desperately seeking new reasons to prolong their occupation. Be it through the magical re-emergence of Daesh terrorists in Western Iraq or through suspicious Katyusha rocket attacks on US interests in Baghdad’s green zone, which are then blamed on the Iraqi Resistance forces without any kind of evidence presented, Washington is seeking to undermine the Iraqi parliament’s decision.
In Iraq, Washington has a foothold in Baghdad not seen in Syria’s Damascus. It is through this foothold that Washington wields influence over many Iraqi politicians and thus has the ability to cause great internal disunity and animosity among Iraqis themselves.

Washington has both great influence over the Kurds in northern Iraq and over the Prime Minister’s office. PM Al-Kadhimi is known to be a close associate of Washington’s and is suspected to be cooperating with the US to prolong their stay in Iraq. During his tenure, tensions between Baghdad and the PMU have run high as government forces have made random raids on the PMU headquarters, arresting some members even. Yet even more dangerous is the escalating tensions between Washington and the PMU. On Wednesday March 3rd, a new rocket attack on the Ain Al-Assad military base was reported. This is the same military base that was struck by the IRGC last year in retaliation for Washington’s murder of martyrs Soleimani and Al-Muhandis. Previously the PMU had vowed revenge for Washington’s attack last week, which makes it rather obvious that Washington will blame the PMU for this recent strike.

With this latest round of escalation, one wonders what will happen next? Of course I’m just speculating but I see some real dangers with tensions running this high. I believe that Washington could very well seek to push Iraq into a new civil war in a bid to eradicate the Hashd al-Sha’abi. Many of the groups within the PMU have threatened to wage war on US forces if Washington refuses to withdraw. Unfortunately, this threat by the PMU can easily be exploited by the US, giving Washington a casus belli, as they intensify their “defensive” airstrikes while claiming to support Baghdad’s campaign to bring “stability” to Iraq. Such an endeavour could risk dragging several regional countries into the conflict as the Islamic Republic could be forced to intervene on behalf of the Iraqi Resistance forces. It is clear that Washington cannot and will not attack Iran directly, such an adventure would be too risky for the crazies in the White House and Pentagon. However, fighting “Iranian backed” forces and rolling back Iranian influence could serve to both solidify the continued US occupation of Iraq in the short term, and prevent the Resistance forces from achieving complete victory, in the mid-to-long term. In order to manufacture consent, Washington must portray their actions as both “defensive” and in service of “stability and peace”. Having others fight Washington’s wars for them is a speciality for the Empire. This is why I believe the most likely scenario to be one where Washington attempts to pit Baghdad against the PMU, then sweep in to “help” Baghdad “preserve stability”. This strategy has been used in different ways before by the Obama regime when it unleashed the Daesh terrorist group in Iraq, then claimed to fight the same terrorists it had armed and trained, in a bid to continue their occupation of Iraq and pressure pro-Iran PM Nouri Al-Maliki to resign. Obama then did the same thing in Syria with the support of Kurdish militants in a bid to pressure Damascus into concessions. Trump continued on the same path but went even further when his administration began using phony attacks on “US interests” in Iraq as a pretext for direct confrontation with the PMU, a path that ultimately led to the murder of Martyrs Soleimani and Al-Muhandis. The then-secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that Washington had acted to “stabilize” Iraq with the murder of these “terrorists” who were “hated among Iraqis”.

Iraq is key to the Resistance Axis and cannot fall into enemy hands. It is however also the most vulnerable of the countries where the Resistance forces are active, as not only does Washington have great influence over Baghdad, but also over the Kurdish autonomous region in the north.

Supporting Kurdish independence is another way that Washington could seek to attack the Resistance Axis. This can be seen in Syria as well where the Kurdish militants are acting as excellent proxy troops for Washington, occupying about a third of the country and helping US forces in the looting of Syrian oil. Kurdish parties also have excellent ties to the Zionist entity in Tel Aviv, as Zionist chieftain Netanyahu has on several occasions been a vocal supporter of Kurdish independence, often likening the Kurdish people’s cause with the Zionist one. The reactionary Kurdish parties, who are too ignorant and too greedy to understand and realize that they are being used as cannon fodder to further US imperial ambitions, will be more than happy to wage war on Syria and Iraq with US support behind them.

It’s been almost 10 years since the war in Syria began, and 18 years since the war in Iraq began, and still there seems to be no peace in sight for any of the Arab countries. Biden has been in office in less than two months, but in my opinion, the next four years seem to be rather clear in terms of Washington’s policies towards the West Asia region- the long wars will continue and more blood is to be expected. Bush bombed Iraq, Obama bombed Iraq, Trump bombed Iraq, and now Biden bombs Iraq. For our people, it never matters who or what occupies the White House, the bombings and wars will continue. Iraq has a rather young population, more than 60 percent of the population is under 25 years of age. This means that most Iraqis have known nothing else except the US imposed wars on their homeland. It is a tragedy and a shameful moment in human history where most people in the totally “advanced, civilized, democratic, morally superior” West don’t care about what their despicable governments are doing in Iraq or Syria, because they are stupid Muslim terrorists anyway. This is why Iraq cannot and should not rely on Western public opinion. Resistance is the only way, and the US Empire must be kicked out with force in order for Iraqis to finally have some peace.

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ROCKETS POUND US BASE IN NORTHERN IRAQ LEADING TO CASUALTIES

Source

The United States has already started bearing the consequences of the decision of the Biden administration to halt the troop drawdown from the Greater Middle East.

On February 15th, 14 rockets struck the area of the US military base near Erbil International Airport, 4 of them within the compound, 10 of which were near strikes. One private contractor was killed and 5 were injured. In a rare event, 1 US service member was also wounded.

The location of the attack coincides with Turkey’s operation “Claw Eagle 2” which targets the alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions. Most of northern Iraq was on edge, as a result.

Turkey and the US, as NATO allies appear to not be cooperating whatsoever, as they’re pursuing separate goals in largely the same areas of the Middle East.

Ankara’s activities contribute to the chaos of the Middle East situation, as it targets the PKK, while the US mostly targets and is targeted by Iranian-backed forces.

Another US ally, this time one that aligns its activities with it – Israel struck unknown targets around Damascus.

It launched missiles from the occupied Golan Heights, and many of them were intercepted by Syrian air defenses, however, some landed on their targets. It is unclear what was targeted and what the damage was.

There have been no strikes by Israel through Lebanese airspace after a drone was downed, and Hezbollah vowed to attempt to destroy any Israeli aircraft that encroaches on its airspace.

Movements throughout the Middle East are beginning for the US and its allies.

In Iraq, many of the targeted convoys in the last several weeks have reached their destinations.

With a lack of reports of convoy targeting, it would appear that the currently static positions are under threat.

Iran is continuing its movements, undermining US and Israeli influence, and it has had general success in recent weeks. The US is fighting back against it.

On February 11th, a truck moving supplies for an Iranian-backed unit, al-Haydariyun, was targeted near Syria’s border with Iraq.

According to the Resistance Media Network, the truck was targeted by a drone likely operated by the US military.

In Yemen, the US said it would attempt to impose a peace deal, on its own terms. It claims to stop supporting Saudi Arabia’s genocidal intervention. Washington, however, also continues providing defensive services and intelligence.

Following Joe Biden’s first foreign policy speech, the time for the US to move has come. In the coming days, the “fight against ISIS” is sure to ramp up, alongside various other movements throughout the Middle East.

IRANIAN-BACKED FORCES RECEIVE NEW MISSILES AS TENSIONS GROW IN IRAQ

South Fronts

The second month of 2021 began with preparations by Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) for new round of hostilities.

Kata’ib Hezbollah received short and medium range rockets through Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Kata’ib Hezbollah is a key member of the PMU, actively participates in the fight against ISIS since the emergence of the group in Iraq, and is a vocal supporter of the current attempts to oust the US presence from Iraq.

At the same time, the PMU are subject to more and more frequent ISIS attacks in recent days. As the terrorists appear to be popping up all around. On January 31st, the PMU said they repelled an ISIS attack in the region of Jurf al-Sakhar in the province of Babil.

These apparent appearances by ISIS members coincide with reports by pro-Iranian sources blaming the US for airlifting them. On January 31st, in an interview with the al-Maloumeh news website, Sabah al-Akili claimed that the US military airlifts ISIS units into areas behind PMU positions in the Jurf al-Sakhar region.

So far, US President Joe Biden’s policy for the Middle East is incredibly unsurprising. Any potential withdrawals appear to be nothing more than a pipe dream. The first-ever African American Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw was being reconsidered. Not only that, but it is likely that the deployments need to be increased.

Attacks on US supply convoys have become commonplace, all of them being blamed on the PMU. However, responsibility for the most recent attack was assumed by the Qasim Al-Jabbarin group, which does not declare its affiliation with the PMU.

With the US still leading the way for NATO in the entire region, any exit also from Afghanistan becomes more fiction than reality. This will, in turn, lead to increased Taliban activity, since the peace deal is not being honored.

US troops remaining in Syria is also indisputable, judging by the deployments that have recently taken place.

The responses to these refusals to withdraw will lead to more frequent attacks and accusations from the Axis of Resistance. The answer from the Iran-led group will be not only against the US presence, but also against its allies in the face of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Yemen’s Houthis are responsible for dealing with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabian fighter jets continue their attacks on reported Houthi targets, but mostly civilians. The ceasefire in al-Hudaydah is not being honored. Despite the Kingdom’s best efforts, the Houthis still have the upper hand in the conflict. On January 28th, at least 150 members of the Saudi-backed forces switched sides and went over to the Ansar Allah movement (the formal name of the Houthis). Additionally, drone attacks are more frequent. The Kingdom reported that it repelled several attacks, but such reports were not as common until recently.

That is when Iran deployed brand-new loitering munitions to the Houthis, and a new group made its appearance to target Riyadh’s ambitions on the Arab Peninsula.

Tensions in the Middle East continue deepening. The advent of reports of the airlifting of terrorists is something that’s been rare since the Obama-era. It appears that the region is once again subject to this known and proven method of “diplomatic intervention.”

US-backed DAESH terrorism returns to Iraq, Dr Marwa Osman

Marwa Osman

A twin suicide bombing on a bustling commercial street in the heart of Baghdad on Thursday killed at least 32 people and wounded more than 100, in an attack that ruptured months of relative calm. Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack which bears the hallmarks of the terrorist group who has carried out numerous similar attacks in Iraq. To discuss this issue with us from Beirut is Laith Marouf political commentator. As the US continues to occupy parts of Syria in a clear violation of the territorial integrity of the Arab country, an Apache attack helicopter belonging to the US military has reportedly crashed in Syria’s northeastern Province of Hasakah, with no information available about the fate of those onboard. The initial deployment of US occupation soldiers to that specific area was meant to plunder the country’s crude oil resources, however now it seems someone is making sure the U.S. abandons their theft efforts. U.S. Apache down in Syria in this following report. To discuss this issue with us from Damascus is Vanessa Beeley, independent journalist.

Central Baghdad Twin Blast Casualties Rise To 28, More Than 73 Wounded

Central Baghdad Twin Blast Casualties Rise To 28, More Than 73 Wounded

By Staff, Agencies

A rare twin suicide bombing claimed the lives of 28 people so far, and wounded 73 others on a bustling commercial street in the heart of Baghdad on Thursday, the military said, rupturing months of relative calm.

Brigadier General Hazem al-Azzawi, the director of Baghdad Operations Command, told the Iraq News Agency [INA] that a “double explosion” hit a crowded market in the Bab al-Sharji area near Tayaran Square.

Medical sources told AFP news agency they feared the death toll could rise. The health ministry said it had mobilized medics across the capital to respond to the deadly attack.

Military spokesman Yahya Rasool said two suicide bombers detonated their explosives as they were being pursued by security forces.

An AFP reporter at the scene said the bombers had struck a huge open-air market for second-hand clothes in Tayaran Square.

After years of deadly violence following the 2003 US invasion, suicide bombings have become relatively rare in the capital. The last such attack took place in June 2019 and left several people dead.

No group claimed the attack immediately, but suicide attacks have mostly been used by Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group].

Iraq declared Daesh defeated at the end of 2017 after a fierce three-year campaign. But the group’s sleeper cells have continued to operate in desert and mountain areas, typically targeting security forces or state infrastructure with low-casualty attacks.

“This kind of attacks bears the hallmark of Daesh who have targeted crowded civilian areas in Baghdad with suicide attacks many times in the past,” said Sajad Jiyad, an Iraqi analyst.

Journalists, Activists Condemn UK Decision to Keep Assange Locked Up without Charge

By Alan Macleod

Source

AUnited Kingdom court has ruled that Wikileaks cofounder Julian Assange must remain in prison, despite an earlier ruling that he could not be extradited to the United States.

Explaining her decision, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said that, “As far as Mr. Assange is concerned, this case has not been won,” adding that the United States must be allowed to appeal her earlier decision. Part of the ruling was based upon her assessment of the Australian publisher being a serious flight risk if released, noting he had “huge support networks” that could help him “should he again choose to go to ground.”

The court’s decision was immediately panned by journalists and press freedom organizations who had hoped to see Assange released today, after seven years in prison and hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. “To us, that is nothing more than a pretext to keep him detained. This seems unnecessarily punitive and adding insult to injury after the 10 years of hell that he has endured…We are deeply disappointed with today’s decision,” said Rebecca Vincent, Reporters Without Borders’ Director of International Campaigns, outside the courtroom.

Vincent had been denied entry to the courtroom today, as had some of Assange’s relatives. She had also faced questioning and harassment from police, who used their new powers under the U.K.’s lockdown law to break up pro-Assange demonstrations, even arresting a 92-year-old man.

Julian Assange
Police arrest an Assange supporter outside the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Jan. 6, 2021. Matt Dunham | AP

Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald QC, expressed his disappointment at the news that his client would be heading back to Belmarsh prison in south London. “The logical outcome of the ruling would be he regains liberty at least conditionally,” he stated.

Assange’s colleagues in [alternative] media were also quick to condemn Baraitser’s ruling. “The judge’s decision against bailing Assange only fuels the theory that this prosecution is about keeping a publisher who the U.S. government despises tied up and in limbo so he cannot effectively challenge them ever again,” said Kevin Gosztola, “This is absolutely outrageous for the judge to deny Assange bail and to claim that Belmarsh is doing a fine job of handling COVID, even while London is on lockdown.”

“There are no charges pending against Julian Assange in the U.K. A U.K. judge denied the U.S.’s request to extradite him, the only place where charges are pending. Despite this, the judge just ruled he must remain imprisoned — in a COVID-ridden high-security prison — while the U.S. appeals,” added Glenn Greenwald. “This shows how authoritarian the British judiciary is. The only thing the U.S. cares about is keeping Assange in a cage, silenced and disappeared. This gives them the best of all worlds: he stays in prison, with no need to prove he’s guilty of anything. That’s despotic.”

A particularly high-security prison, H.M.P. Belmarsh is generally considered the U.K.’s most notorious jail, taking in prisoners from around the country that other prisons cannot handle. The government’s 2019 report on conditions inside the facility noted it was overrun with 120 violent gangs and that there were 161 recorded inmate assaults on staff. After a COVID-19 outbreak this year, inmates have been largely locked down in their cells, typically for 23 hours a day.

On Monday, Baraitser ruled that Assange would not be sent to the United States as she was not convinced that the U.S. prison system could guarantee he would not commit suicide while incarcerated. The publisher faced up to 175 years in prison for his alleged breach of the Espionage Act of 1917 while receiving classified information from U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning. However, she sided with the United States on both their assertions and the legality of their claims, setting a precedent that some called a “chilling” ruling for investigative journalism.

Wikileaks disseminated Manning’s information, which came to be known as the Iraq War Logs. Perhaps the most explosive revelation was a recording of a U.S. helicopter attack on central Baghdad in July 2007. The video shows American personnel massacring at least a dozen Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in cold blood. The images went viral on social media and showed a completely different side to the occupation than the carefully sanitized one the U.S. military had been fastidiously curating.

From 2013 to 2019, Assange was confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, unable to travel to the country that had offered him political asylum. However, keen to curry favor with Washington, new president Lenin Moreno allowed British authorities to enter the building and arrest him. Since then, he has been housed in Belmarsh. This new ruling prolongs his stay. But if the appeal is unsuccessful, the U.K. will no longer have any legal argument to keep him interned. Perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Australian.

Washington uses DAESH and Iraqi traitors to fragment the country

Democracies Don’t Start Wars. But Democrats Do

By Philip Giraldi, Ph.D.
Source: Strategic Culture

It may have been President Bill Clinton who once justified his wrecking of the Balkans by observing that liberal interventionism to bring about regime change is a good thing because “Democracies don’t start wars with other democracies.” Or it might have been George W. Bush talking about Iraq or even Barack Obama justifying his destruction of Libya or his interventions relating to Syria and Ukraine. The principle is the same when the world’s only superpower decides to throw its weight around.

The idea that pluralistic democracies are somehow less inclined to go to war has in fact been around for a couple of hundred years and was first elaborated by Immanuel Kant in an essay entitled “Perpetual Peace” that was published in 1795. Kant may have been engaging in some tongue in cheek as the French relatively liberal republic, the “Directory,” was at that time preparing to invade Italy to spread the revolution. The presumption that “democracies” are somehow more pacific than other forms of government is based on the principle that it is in theory more difficult to convince an entire nation of the desirability of initiating armed conflict compared to what happens in a monarchy where only one man or woman has to be persuaded.

The American Revolution, which preceded Kant, was clearly not fought on the principle that kings are prone to start wars while republics are not, and, indeed, the “republican” United States has nearly always been engaged in what most observers would consider to be wars throughout its history. And a review of the history of the European wars of the past two hundred years suggests that it is also overly simple to suggest that democracies eschew fighting each other. There are, after all, many different kinds of governments, most with constitutions, many of which are quite politically liberal even if they are headed by a monarch or oligarchy. They have found themselves on different sides in the conflicts that have troubled Europe since the time of Napoleon.

And wars are often popular, witness the lines of enthusiastic young men lining up to enlist when the Triple Entente took on the Germans and Austrians to begin the First World War. So, war might be less likely among established democracies, but it should be conceded that the same national interests that drive a dictatorship can equally impact on a more pluralistic form of government, particularly if the media “the territory of lies” is in on the game. One recalls how the Hearst newspaper chain created the false narrative that resulted in the U.S.’s first great overseas imperial venture, the Spanish-American War. More recently, the mainstream media in the United States has supported the disastrous invasion of Iraq, the destabilization of Syria, and the regime change in Ukraine, Afghanistan and Libya.

So now we Americans have the ultimate liberal democratic regime about to resume power, possibly with a majority in both houses of Congress to back up the presidency. But something is missing in that the campaigning Democrats never talked about a peace dividend, and now that they are returning the airwaves are notable for Senators like Mark Warner asking if the alleged Russian hacking of U.S. computers is an “act of war?” Senator Dick Durbin has no doubts on the issue, having declared it “virtually a declaration of war.” And Joe Biden appears to be on board, considering punishment for Moscow. Are we about to experience Russiagate all over? In fact, belligerency is not unique to Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo.  War is in the air, and large majority of the Democratic Party recently voted for the pork-bloated National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), endorsing a policy of U.S. global military dominance for the foreseeable future. If you are an American who would like to see national health insurance, a large majority among Democrats, forget about it!

But more to the point, the Democrats have a worse track record than do the Republicans when it comes to starting unnecessary wars. Donald Trump made the point of denouncing “stupid wars” when he was running for office and has returned to that theme also in the past several weeks, though he did little enough to practice what he preached until it was too late and too little. Clinton notoriously intervened in the Balkans and bombed a pharmaceuticals factory in Sudan and a cluster of tents in Afghanistan to draw attention away from his affair with Monica Lewinsky. His secretary of State Madeleine Albright thought the death of 500,000 Iraqi children due to U.S. sanctions was “worth it.” Barack Obama tried to destroy Syria, interfered in Ukraine and succeeded in turning Libya into an ungovernable mess while compiling a “kill list” and assassinating U.S. citizens overseas using drones.

If you want to go back farther, Woodrow Wilson involved the U.S. in World War One while Franklin D. Roosevelt connived at America’s entry into the Second World War. FDR’s successor Harry Truman dropped two atomic bombs on civilian targets in Japan, killing as many as 200,000. Japan was preparing to surrender, which was known to the White House and Pentagon, making the first use of nuclear weapons completely unnecessary and one might call it a “war crime.” Truman also got involved in Korea and John F. Kennedy started the intervention in Vietnam, though there are indications that he was planning to withdraw from it when he was killed. The only Democratic president who failed to start one or more wars was the much-denigrated Jimmy Carter.

So, it is Joe Biden’s turn at the wheel. One has to question the philosophy of government that he brings with him as he has never found a war that he didn’t support and several of his cabinet choices are undeniably hardliners on what they refer to as national security. The lobbies are also putting pressure on Biden to do the “right thing,” which for them is to continue an interventionist foreign policy. The Israeli connected Foundation for the Defense Democracies (FDD) has not surprisingly issued a collection of essays that carries the title “Defending Forward: Securing America by Projecting Military Power Abroad.” If one had to bet at this point “defending forward” will be what the Biden Administration is all about. And oh, by the way, as democracies don’t go to war with democracies, it will only be the designated bad guys who will be on the receiving end of America’s military might.Or at least that is how the tale will be told.

A Loving Father to All: Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis

A Loving Father to All: Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis

By Elham Hashemi

On the first anniversary of the martyrdom of Haj Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, al-Ahed news had an exclusive interview with Zahraa; who was taken care of by martyr al-Muhandis after her father had passed away. She is only one of the very many young women and men who he had helped and supported throughout their lives.

He soon became my father…

I got acquainted to Haj Abu Mahdi when I was around 19 years old. It was in 2008 when we first met at a gathering with common friends and family members. I had lost my father two years before that and life was very tough on me. I was suffering from some issues at university, I had to quit and was exhausted. He noticed I was not okay, and he would always try to make me laugh and give me moral boosts whenever he would see me. Slowly became like a father to me. He would bring hope into my life and help me think positive and supported me in confronting my problems too.

He would always tell me, “You know I have four daughters, and now I have five, you are my fifth daughter.”

I really felt like I was one of his daughters. He supported me like he was my own father in different issues. Even when he was super busy, he would still find time to check up on me and my family members. His wife and daughters are also kind and well-educated women. They would participate in our family gatherings and as time passed we were like one family.

I would sometimes pass by his office with my husband, just to say hello, I knew he had hectic days and was overwhelmed with work.

We would discuss things related to my life, I would seek advice from him. I still remember how he encouraged me to seek my higher education again and focus on psychology as a major, he assured a few times “I really think that we need this major, you can help society a lot.”

A bright future awaits

He was very unique; the way he would speak to people, his generosity, and the positive vibes he spreads wherever he goes. He was a source of tranquility and happiness to me and my husband and I am later on got to know he was that source of delight and serenity for others too. He would always give me and other young men and ladies advice on how important it is to stay up-to-date, to seek good education, to do our best in everything. It was very important for him that young people play an effective role in society. He would tell me and others “You have to do your best always, you must know that the future is waiting and that it can be a bright future if you are successful in your own way and own field.”

He was a loving father to everyone around him, and he would try to personally help people out in their different issues. Of course, young men and women as I said were a main concern to him, and he always cared for them and encouraged them to build a great future.

Caring…

He was so caring, he would also take care of the sons and daughters of many of the martyrs; Iranians and Iraqis alike.

He always said “I feel uneasy to see depressed young people, yes life is tough but we can be tougher and we can win in face of all the challenges in life. Be active in all fields of life, leave your good finger prints wherever you go.”

When my husband and I would pass by to say hello or meet at a dinner or family gathering, he would always joke with my husband and tell him “If you give my lovely daughter a hard time I know how to deal with you,” and we would all laugh. The last time I saw him was around three months before his martyrdom. He asked me a lot if I need anything, he repeated his question several times and told me “my daughter, if you and your husband need anything just let me know, and if I cannot do it myself I will have someone help you out.” 

Abu Mahdi at the war fronts

My husband’s friend was present at the war fronts, when fighting the terrorist group Daesh in Iraq. He was under the supervision of Haj Abu Mahdi. He said that all what mattered to Haj Abu Mahdi was that things go right. It did not matter to him whether he ate or not, it was not important for him to sleep or rest, all what mattered was to achieve victory and protect innocent people and lands from the terrorist and extremist groups who raped, killed, and destroyed wherever they went.

And whenever he felt extremely tired he would eat anything simple, take a short nap even on the asphalt to regain some energy and continue his work.

Bidding him farewell

On that night, one of my best friends sent me a message consoling me on the martyrdom of Haj Abu Mahdi, I was shocked but I told myself this is not true. It was only seconds when my husband came and told me that Abu Mahdi and Haj Qassem Suleimani were assassinated and now are martyrs.

I told myself, it’s probably rumors. I did not want to believe. I was in denial at first, and I was unable to believe he was assassinated. It took me a while to calm down and realize that it’s true. In the morning the first thing I did was go to their house to see his wife and daughters. It was like I lost my father for the second time. His pictures were everywhere. Later on, I went to see him and say good bye but it was only remains of his body that were in the coffin.

 He promised me that he would be my father forever. He promised that he will always there for me. It is true that he was assassinated and no longer could I see him, but his soul is always with me.

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