Biden Deploying More US Troops to Middle East

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By Stephen Lendman


Throughout his time in Washington from the early 1970s, Biden supported all US wars of aggression against invented enemies.

Will he escalate inherited conflicts in multiple countries, perhaps launch one or more new ones?

Like his predecessors, peace and stability are off the table.

A permanent state of forever war is highly likely to continue on his watch.

It’s been hard-wired US policy throughout most of the post-WW II period.

When Biden took office, Syria’s UN envoy Bashar al Jaafari called on his regime to end a near-decade of US war in his country, saying the following:

“The American occupation forces continue to plunder Syria’s wealth of oil, gas and agricultural crops, burning and destroying what it cannot steal,” adding:

“The new (US regime) must stop acts of aggression and occupation, plundering the wealth of my country, (and) withdraw its occupying forces.”

It must “stop supporting (jihadists), illegal entities, and attempts to threaten Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.”

Obama/Biden launched aggression against Syria in early 2011, a failed attempt to transform the country into a pro-Western vassal state and isolate Iran.

Biden/Harris have no intention of ending US forever war on Syria and its people — despite failure to achieve the aims of its predecessors.

The US is building one or more new bases in the country, suggesting no end to permanent occupation and war.

More Pentagon troops are being deployed to Syria and Iraq — on the phony pretext of combatting an ISIS resurgence the US supports, a statement by Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica McNulty saying the following:

“The US is participating in the force generation process for NATO Mission Iraq and will contribute its fair share to this important expanded mission (sic),” adding: 

“The US and its partners in the global coalition to defeat ISIS (sic) remain committed to ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS (sic), and the department looks forward to continued consultations with Iraq, NATO, and the global coalition going forward (sic).”

According to US installed NATO secretary general Stoltenberg, thousands more alliance troops are being sent to Iraq — on the phony pretext of combatting ISIS.

Defying reality, he added that US-controlled NATO occupation of Iraq will “expand (to) fight terrorism” the alliance supports.

He falsely claimed that the expanded mission comes “at the request of the Iraqi government (sic).”

“It is carried out with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity (sic).”

The vast majority of Iraqis and members of parliament want their country back. They want unacceptable US occupation ended.

US hardliners intend permanent occupation of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, and other countries, along with a permanent state of war on these nations and their long-suffering people.

Trump wanted US troops withdrawn from the region but failed to achieve this objective.

Biden wants more Pentagon occupying forces sent to Middle East countries, more likely to Afghanistan.

US war secretary Austin “welcomed” greater numbers of US and NATO forces in the Middle East and elsewhere, saying:

“From Afghanistan and the Middle East, across Europe, Africa and our own hemisphere, to the wide expanse of the Western Pacific, the United States stands shoulder-to-shoulder with allies old and new, partners big and small (sic),” adding: 

“Each of them brings to the mission unique skills, knowledge and capabilities.” 

“And each of them represents a relationship worth tending, preserving and respecting. We will do so.”

Before Trump left office, acting war secretary Miller said the following:

“The drawdown of US force levels in Iraq is reflective of the increased capabilities of the Iraqi security forces.” 

“Our ability to reduce force levels is evidence of real progress.”

Biden reversed dubious “progress” in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

A state of greater US war in multiple countries exists than when he took war.

Is much more of the same coming, perhaps facilitated by one or more US false flags?

According to a White House statement,” the Biden regime claims the “right (to strike its enemies) at a time and place of (its) choosing.”

Is escalated US aggression in Syria and Iraq coming?

Will Iran be falsely blamed for things it had nothing to do with as before?

Resurgence of US supported ISIS appears part of a Biden regime plan for greater belligerence instead of turning a page for peace and stability in the Middle East and Central Asia.

US economic decline and global instability

US economic decline and global instability

January 19, 2021

by Phillyguy for The Saker Blog


The US emerged from WWII as the world’s preeminent economic and military power. Seven decades later, American power is in decline, a direct consequence of decades of neoliberal economic policies, spending large amounts of public money on the military and attainment of economic/military parity by Russia and China. These policies have eroded US economic strength and are undermining the role of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, key pillars of US global power. In this essay, we highlight how this situation evolved and its implications for US foreign policy and international relations.

Foundations of American Global Hegemony

The US emerged from WWII as the world’s leading military and economic power. This power was further solidified at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in 1944, which came to be known as the ‘Bretton Woods Agreement’. This agreement: 1) pegged the value of member country’s currencies to the US dollar, which was pegged to the price of gold, and 2) created the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, later known as the World Bank. The purported goals of the Bretton Woods system were to ‘stabilize currencies and promote international economic growth’. This conference also recognized the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. 12

International economic relations started to change in the mid-1970s as US corporate profits began to stagnate/decline, a direct consequence of spending lots of taxpayer money on wars in Korea and Vietnam and increased competition from rebuilt economies in Europe, primarily Germany (Marshall Plan) and Asia- Japan, South Korea (Korean and Vietnam wars) and more recently China. US policy makers responded to these economic challenges in several ways. 1) Recognizing that the government had insufficient gold reserves to cover all of the dollars in circulation, in 1971 President Richard Nixon was forced to suspend convertibility of the dollar into gold, effectively devaluing the US dollar and making it a fiat currency. 3 2) In the early 1980s, US policy makers began instituting neoliberal economic policies. Neoliberalism can be broadly defined as policies promoting free-market capitalism, deregulation, and a reduction in government spending and was widely promoted in the US by President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) and in the UK by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1975-1990). 4 These policies included multiple tax cuts for the wealthy, financial deregulation, attacks on labor and poor, job outsourcing and spending $ trillions of taxpayer money on the military. 5 A short description of these policies and their impact on US society follows.

Tax Cuts

Beginning with the Reagan Administration, a number of tax cuts were enacted which reduced and/or eliminated top tax rates, corporate taxes and inheritance taxes (aka ‘death tax’; see Table 1). It should be noted that to market this legislation and ‘sell’ it to a generally uninformed American public, these bills frequently contain words or phrases in their titles which convey a positive and progressive message, such as ‘Economic Recovery’, ‘Tax Reform’, ‘Economic Growth and Tax Relief’, ‘Jobs and Growth’ and ‘Jobs Act’. After all, who is against ‘Economic Recovery’ and ‘Growth’ or a ‘Jobs Act’? However, to quote Phaedrus (Greek; circa 444 – 393 BC) ‘things are not always what they seem’. Each of these pieces of legislation was the result of massive lobbying campaigns by large financial interests- banks and corporations, with the goal of rolling back ‘New Deal’ tax and economic legislation enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the depths of the Great Depression (1933-1939) 67 and ‘open up’ the economy to unregulated and risky financial schemes, which under the right circumstances can yield substantial profits, but when things do not proceed as planned, can lead to large losses, as observed during the 2008 financial collapse. An analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) concluded that between 2001-2018, 65% of the benefit from these tax cuts went to the wealthiest (top 20%) households, while federal tax revenues declined $5.1 Trillion and federal deficits grew $5.9 Trillion. 8 As a result of the COVID19 pandemic, federal deficits are now hemorrhaging.

Attacks on Labor and Poor

In 1981, members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike. President Reagan declared the strike a threat to ‘national safety’ and ordered all workers back to work, under the Taft-Hartley Act (1947). Of the circa 13,000 striking air traffic controllers, only 1,300 returned to work; Reagan fired the remaining 11,345 air traffic controllers who were still out. 9 The decline in labor solidarity was readily apparent as there was little support for striking PATCO workers from other unions. As a result, this began a frontal assault on union workers and labor.

During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton vowed to ‘end welfare as we have come to know it’ 10 and in 1996, signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, creating the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (aka TANF) program 11, which changed the financing and benefit structure of cash assistance to poor people, Predictably, these changes did not ‘end welfare’ but increased poverty. Not surprisingly, Conservatives in Congress want to use the TANF model to ‘reform’ other federal programs such as Medicaid.

Job Outsourcing

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), enacted Jan, 1994, created a ‘free trade’ agreement between Canada, Mexico, and US. While not fully appreciated at the time, this trade agreement would have a major impact on US industrial policy and jobs. NAFTA enabled large American corporations such as auto makers- Ford, General Motors, etc., to build manufacturing plants in Mexico taking advantage of lower wage rates and import the finished products back into the country duty free. The savings in labor costs is significant- the 2020 manufacturing wage in the US- $23/hr 12 vs $2.50/hr in Mexico 13 (90% lower) and not surprisingly, decreased labor costs boost corporate profits. On the negative side, NAFTA has: 1) led to the loss 4.5 million manufacturing jobs, with many of these displaced workers were forced to take lower paying jobs, 2) reduced growth in the export of manufactured products and services, 3) increased trade deficits with Canada and Mexico 14.

Job outsourcing has acquired the acronym ‘Globalization’ implying that it is a natural form of economic evolution, enabling large corporations to make their operations more cost-effective and efficient. Not surprisingly, the reality is somewhat different. Since passage of NAFTA, large corporations from the US and other countries have moved their manufacturing to Mexico, China, India, and other low-wage platforms to reduce labor costs, take advantage of lax environmental regulation and more favorable tax policies which increase corporate profits. It should be stressed that these polices have been voluntarily enacted by large financial interests in the US and other countries based on economic decisions and the relentless drive of capitalism to maximize corporate profits. During his 2016 ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign, presidential candidate Donald Trump repeatedly stated that China has ‘stolen’ American jobs and been involved in massive ‘theft’ of intellectual property 15 . Indeed, China has aggressively pursued economic development and has clearly taken advantage of technology transfer by multinational corporations 16. However, China is certainly not unique as these practices are frequently used by other developing countries. For example, during the Industrial Revolution (circa 1760-1840), the developing US manufacturing base relied largely on knowledge and technologies that had been developed in Europe, primarily the UK. No doubt, some of this technology was acquired by unscrupulous methods. Thus, while Trump was correct in pointing out that many American jobs had indeed moved to China, he has repeatedly failed to acknowledge that these jobs were deliberately moved by American corporations because it is more profitable. Trump’s allegations also beg the obvious question, if large US corporations and their functionaries in government were concerned about technology transfer to China, they should not have moved their production and associated ‘sensitive’ technology out of the US in the first place. Following his electoral victory in 2016, Trump attempted to force corporations to repatriate outsourced jobs. While some US-based firms left China, little of this production was moved back to the US; the vast majority were relocated to Vietnam, Thailand, India, Mexico and other low-wage platforms 17. A fundamental axiom of Capitalism is that business enterprises always seek the highest rate of return on their capital investments. Further, US CEO compensation is typically tied to stock price. Given this reality, large US corporations have curtailed domestic business spending (i.e., investing in new plants and equipment) and instead have allocated large amounts of money for stock buybacks. The reason for this behavior is clear- investments in new plants and equipment have payback periods ranging from years-decades, while spending money on share buybacks and stock futures results in near instantaneous increase of equity prices and higher financial compensation for corporate management. No one forced the CEOs of Apple, Nike, Levis, GM, etc. to move their RD/production facilities to China or other countries. Rather, this was done deliberately to maximize corporate profits. Unfortunately, the proverbial ‘chickens are coming home to roost’. The US is lagging behind China in 5G technology because corporate CEOs have been more interested in boosting stock price and their financial compensation, rather than investing in new plants and equipment to compete with China in this technology.

Financial Deregulation

The Glass-Steagall Act was part of the Banking Act of 1933, and established a barrier or ‘firewall’ between commercial banks, which accept deposits from working people and issue loans and investment banks that sell investment products, such as stocks and bonds. 7 Not surprisingly the financial industry lobbied heavily to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act; in 1999, this lobbying paid off as Bill Clinton enacted the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA; aka the Financial Services Modernization Act), which repealed the depression era Glass-Steagall Act thus loosening regulations on banking. Prior to leaving office, Clinton also signed The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (CFMA) into law, which exempted over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives from regulation.

A derivative is defined as a financial security whose value is based or ‘derived’ from an underlying asset- bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates, stocks and market indexes. 18 Not surprisingly, derivatives can potentially yield a large financial reward to savvy investors. On the down side, derivatives carry significant ‘market risk’ and lead to financial losses, which can rapidly accelerate during periods of collapsing equity prices. Warren Buffett has described the $ multi-quadrillion derivatives market as “financial weapons of mass destruction. 19 As Pepe Escobar has pointed out, ‘If Tehran were totally cornered by Washington, with no way out, the de facto nuclear option of shutting down the Strait of Hormuz would instantly cut off 25 percent of the global oil supply. Oil prices could rise to over $500 a barrel or more even $1000 a barrel. The 2.5 quadrillion of derivatives would start a chain reaction of destruction.’ 20

Financial deregulation enacted during the Clinton Administration (see Table 1) have been considered a major cause of the 2007-2008 GFC. 21 As pointed out by Pam Martins-

‘The Glass-Steagall Act had kept the U.S. financial system safe for 66 years. It took just nine years after its repeal by Clinton for Wall Street to enrich its own pockets to the tune of billions of dollars, blow up the U.S. economy, and then collect an astounding and secret $29 trillion in below-market-rate loans from the Federal Reserve to bail itself out.’ 22

Unfortunately, none of the structural economic problems giving rise to the 2008 crisis were resolved and as we are now seeing, have returned with a vengeance from the COVID19 pandemic. As a result, American Capitalism confronts the deepest crisis since the Great Depression, plagued by excess capacity and slack demand, high unemployment, with millions of families facing eviction from their homes, food insecurity, loss of medical insurance and financial ruin. Debt levels have exploded- projected US government debt for 2020- $3.1 Trillion (CBO estimate), while total debt levels are projected to reach $80 trillion, up from $71 trillion at the end of last year. 23 A further indication of the severe structural economic problems confronting American capitalism is that the financial industry has been unable to recover from the Global Financial crisis of 2008 and is still dependent on taxpayer support to function. Indeed, since April, the FED has pumped circa $ 7 Trillion of taxpayer-backed funds to Wall St for share buybacks and to purchase toxic corporate debt and mortgage-backed securities. 24 Without this support, many corporations and banks will collapse. 25

Enduring Economic Power

Despite continuing economic decline, the US still wields considerable global economic power, which stems from several factors.

1) Dollar- The US dollar is the world’s reserve currency, and as of 2019, comprises 60% of central bank foreign exchange reserves; circa 90% of forex trading involves the U.S. dollar. 2627 The dollar (i.e., ‘Petrodollar’) is used for purchase of crude oil. 28

2) FED– The US Federal Reserve System was set up following the 1910 secret meeting of executives from large banks- J.P. Morgan, Rockefeller, and Kuhn, Loeb & Co. for ten days on Jekyll Island, Georgia, which was followed by Congress passing the Federal Reserve Act (Dec, 1913), which established the Federal Reserve System as the central bank of the United States. The Chairman, currently Jerome Powell, and FED Governors are appointed by the US President. Thus, the ‘FED’ was set up by private bankers to support the interests of large banks and has effectively no public control over its actions. 29 Of the 12 Reserve banks in the Federal Reserve System, the New York FED (NY FED) wields the most power. 30 The NY FED directs monetary policy through open market operations, emergency lending facilities, quantitative easing, and foreign exchange transactions. It also stores gold on behalf of the U.S. and foreign governments, other nation’s central banks, and international organizations. FED policies, such as setting interest rates and money supply are closely followed by the European Central Bank (ECB), Bank of England, Bank of Japan (BOJ) and other central banks.

3) SWIFT– The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) system is used to conduct financial transactions between 11,000 SWIFT member institutions and is the largest financial network in the world. 31 SWIFT is described as a ‘cooperative society’ under Belgian law, owned by its member financial institutions and headquartered in La Hulpe, Belgium. Due to its dominant global economic position, the US has been able to exert a strong influence on SWIFT policies, such as enforcing unilateral US economic sanctions (effectively a form of financial warfare) on the Islamic Republic of Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea and other countries deemed an obstacle to US global hegemony. 32

WWII and subsequent events shaping US foreign policy

Nuclear Attacks on Japan

The twentieth century was marked by turbulence, economic depression, war and economic prosperity. Eclipsing all prior conflicts, WWII was the deadliest conflict in human history, resulting in circa 75 million fatalities, with approximately twice as many civilian vs military casualties. During the war, the Soviet Union, much of Europe and Japan experienced high casualties and physical destruction. At the end of the war, the US dropped ‘Little Boy’ an enriched uranium gun-type fission device on Hiroshima, Japan on Aug 6, 1945, followed 3 days later, with ‘Fat Man’, a plutonium implosion-type nuclear weapon dropped on Nagasaki, resulting in circa 250,000 casualties. 33

While much has been written about the decision by the US to attack Japan, when the outcome of the war was all but certain, several things stand out.

1) The Soviet Union suffered the most physical destruction and casualties in WWII, a minimum of 25 million. In comparison, the US experienced circa 400,000 casualties.

2) During the war, the Soviet Union was an ally of the US/allied forces. As the war began winding down, this relationship rapidly changed, as the ruling elite, led by President Harry Truman were positioning the US as the world’s leading military power and viewed the USSR as a threat to American global hegemony. Thus, by dropping atomic bombs on Japan, the US was: i) sending an unmistakable message to the global community of US military might, and ii) also sending a warning to Stalin and the Soviet Union to not interfere with US global policies.

3) As pointed out by Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Center for Research on Globalization, as early as 1945 “the Pentagon had envisaged blowing up the Soviet Union with a coordinated nuclear attack directed against major urban areas. The Pentagon estimated that a total of 204 atomic bombs would be required to Wipe the Soviet Union off the Map”. 34

Iron Curtain & Truman Doctrine

On March 5, 1946 former British PM Winston Churchill delivered a speech at Westminster College, Fulton, MO, dubbed the ‘Iron Curtain speech’, stating

‘From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an ‘iron curtain’ has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in some cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.’ 35 In his speech, Churchill stressed the need for the US and UK to work together, acting as ‘guardians of peace and stability’ against the menace of Soviet communism. As a representative of the [former] British Empire, Churchill was signaling that the UK would willingly serve as a junior partner to American imperialism.

In a speech to Congress March 12, 1947, President Harry Truman laid out the ‘Truman Doctrine’, whose primary goal was to ‘contain Soviet geopolitical expansion’ and more broadly, implied American support for other countries ‘threatened’ by Soviet communism. The Truman Doctrine became the bedrock of post-WWII US foreign policy and in 1949, led to establishment of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Truman’s speech is considered by many to be the start of the ‘Cold War’.

Demise of Soviet Union

Between 1988–1991 the Soviet Union experienced a process of internal disintegration which began with growing unrest in its various constituent republics are subsequent political and legislative conflicts between the republics and the central government. This is not surprising considering that the country was the largest country in the world, covering a vast land mass of 22,400,000 square km2 with a diverse population of circa 290 million consisting of 100 distinct nationalities. In addition, the USSR faced near continuous hostility from the US, UK and other imperialist powers since its very inception. The collapse of the Soviet Union and ‘end’ of the Cold War was interpreted by some in the US, notably Charles Krauthammer as the beginning of a US-directed ‘unipolar’ movement and a ‘new world order’ by President GW Bush. As is usually the case in global affairs, things did not go exactly as planned- the cold war never ‘ended’ and a ‘multipolar’ world emerged.

Project for the New American Century (PNAC)

The PNAC was founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan in the Spring of 1997 as ‘a non-profit, educational organization’ that had a neo-conservative philosophy with close ties to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and endorsed strong American global leadership. 36 The PNAC had a particular focus on Iraq, predating the Bush Presidency and in Jan, 1998, sent a letter to then President Bill Clinton stating:

‘We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding……We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S……That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power’. 37

In Sept 2000, ironically a year prior to 911, the PNAC would publish an influential policy document “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” that would serve as a blueprint for US foreign policy in the 21st century. Summarized in its Statement of Principles:

‘As the 20th century draws to a close, the United States stands as the world’s most preeminent power. Having led the West to victory in the Cold War, America faces an opportunity and a challenge: Does the United States have the vision to build upon the achievement of past decades? Does the United States have the resolve to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interests?’

‘[What we require is] a military that is strong and ready to meet both present and future challenges; a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad; and national leadership that accepts the United States’ global responsibilities.’

‘Of course, the United States must be prudent in how it exercises its power. But we cannot safely avoid the responsibilities of global leadership of the costs that are associated with its exercise. America has a vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental interests. The history of the 20th century should have taught us that it is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire. The history of the past century should have taught us to embrace the cause of American leadership.” 38

The PNAC advocated: 1) increased ‘defense’ spending to ‘carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future’, 2) ‘strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values’, 3) ‘promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad’, and 4) ‘accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles’.

Many PNAC members would go on to hold high level positions in the GW Bush administration, including: Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage, John Bolton, Dick Cheney (Vice President), Eliot Cohen, Paula Dobriansky, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Zalmay Khalilzad, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Richard Perle, Peter Rodman, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Zoellick, William Schneider and James Woolsey. 39 Not surprisingly, these individuals would play a major role in shaping post-911 US foreign policy.

911 and Eruption of US Military Activity

On the morning of Tuesday, Sept 11, 2001 the US experienced the deadliest attack in its history. According to the ‘official’ narrative, nineteen people affiliated with al-Qaeda, a radical Islamic group, hijacked 4 jet aircraft- 2 from Boson, 1 from Newark and 1 from Washington Dulles. Two of these aircraft subsequently crashed into the World Trade Center (WTC) in NYC resulting in the collapse of building 1 (WTC1) and building 2 (WTC2), one hit the Pentagon and the fourth crashed into an empty field in Shanksville, PA. 40 Two decades later, there are still multiple outstanding questions about 911, including what did the intelligence community- FBI, CIA know about the hijackers prior to 911, why didn’t the Pentagon immediately scramble fighter jets to intercept the hijacked aircraft, and why did steel framed buildings that had been ostensibly engineered to survive an impact from an airplane, rapidly collapse? 41

As it turned out, 911 would be a ‘watershed’ event, showcased in President George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address where he delivered his [in]famous ‘axis of evil’ speech, designating three countries- North Korea, Iran and Iraq- as rogue states that he claimed ‘harbored, financed and aided terrorists’. 42 Indeed, 911 would set the stage for US military engagements, currently stretching from the Levant, to Caspian Basin, Persian Gulf, South-Central Asia, China Sea, Indian Ocean, Horn of Africa, the Maghreb, to Eastern Europe and Russian border (Figure 1). 4344. These conflicts and conflict zones are summarized in Table 2.

Invasion of Afghanistan

The Pentagon has had a longstanding interest in Afghanistan, due to its strategic location in southern Asia- sharing borders with Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan to the north, Iran to the west, and Pakistan to the south and east. During the Soviet–Afghan War (1979-1989), the Mujahideen, headed by Osama Bin Laden fought a nine-year guerrilla war against the Soviet Army and Afghanistan government, receiving material and financial support from the US, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other countries and has been described as a ‘Cold War-era proxy war’, pitting the US against the USSR. In October 2001, immediately following 911, the U.S. launched its invasion of Afghanistan, rapidly ‘defeating’ the Taliban, and soon thereafter, installing a new government headed by Hamid Karzai in Kabul, and declaring the country ‘liberated’. 45. It soon became obvious that this rapid ‘success’ would be short lived. Despite spending over $1 trillion of US taxpayer money and deploying more than 100K troops, the conflict in Afghanistan continues and is the longest war in US history. The Taliban currently control >50% of Afghan territory and Afghanistan has the dubious distinction of supplying >90% of the world’s heroin 46

War on Iraq

Following defeat of the Central Powers in WWI, the Paris Peace Conference (1919-1920) assembled diplomats from 32 countries, resulting in the creation of the League of Nations, denounced by Lenin as a “thieves’ kitchen” and the ‘awarding’ of German and Ottoman overseas possessions as “mandates,” primarily to Britain and France. 47 Well aware of Iraq’s large energy reserves and strategic importance, Winston Churchill managed to cobble together Basra, Bagdad and Mosul into the ‘state’ of Iraq, while at the same time, carve out the state of Kuwait, which has 499 km of Coastline on the Persian Gulf, compared with Iraq, which has 58 km. 4849 This was likely done to limit Iraqi coast line and access to the Gulf.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and 911 attacks provided the directors of US foreign policy considerable latitude to pursue a more aggressive foreign policy. As described above, the PNAC laid out their perspective in their 2000 policy manifesto ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses’. The Bush Administration was literally infiltrated with PNAC members, led by Vice President Dick Chaney and Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld who were well aware of Iraq’s large energy reserves and was ‘ripe’ for the picking. All that was missing was a ‘marketing’ strategy, using 911 as a rationale for initially invading Iraq and then attempting to widen US control of other countries in the Middle East, with the goal of governing the regions vast energy reserves and selling this to a skeptical American public. This was accomplished using corporate media and testimony by Colin Powell, a respected former four-star Army General and 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The stage would be set by a 2002 piece by Michael Gordon and Judith Miller in the paper of record (NYT), alleging that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was secretly building ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (WMD). 50 This piece would form the basis of Collin Powell’s Feb 5, 2003 Speech before the UN, setting up a casus belli (Latin, ‘occasion for war’) for the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. 51 As is now well known, the piece by Gordon and Miller was essentially fabricated as was much of Powell’s UN speech. 52 As preparations for Invading Iraq were being formulated, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others estimated the costs of the conflict to be below $100 billion and ‘reassuring’ nervous Americans that Iraq’s oil ‘would cover’ the cost of the war. 53 As is now readily apparent, the Iraq war which is still ongoing, has been a strategic disaster, resulting in thousands of American casualties, killing or displacing circa 25% of the Iraq population, led to the creation of ISIS and has cost US taxpayers circa $ 5 Trillion. The extent of this disaster was pointed out in vivid detail by Thomas Ricks, former US military reporter for the Washington Post, in his 2006 book- ‘Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003 to 2005. As pointed out by General Wesley Clark in his 2007 interview with Amy Goodman, US plans to invade Iraq were formulated within days after 911. In addition, these plans also included strategies for ‘taking out’ six other countries in 5 years, including Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.” 43

Libya, Syria and Yemen

On Mar 19, 2011 a multi-state NATO-led coalition began a military intervention in Libya, to implement UNSC Resolution 1973, which ‘demanded’ an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians and imposed a no-fly zone and new sanctions on the Qadhafi regime and its supporters. This resolution would be used by US/NATO to overthrow the Libyan government and kill Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would later ‘joke’ about Qaddafi’s death, commenting ‘We came, we saw, he died’. 54 In a 2016 interview with the BBC, President Barack Obama stated- failing to prepare for the aftermath of the ousting of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi was the ‘worst mistake’ of his presidency’. 55 Gaddafi’s removal plunged the country into chaos and became an international arms bazaar for radical Islamic groups, as he predicted. 56 Since 2014, the country has fractured- split between forces loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), supported by Turkey and Qatar and the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Benghazi-based Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and supported by Egypt, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Russia.

The US has been intent on ‘regime change’ in Syria since at least 2007. 43 Syria occupies a strategic position in Western Asia, sharing borders with Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan (see Figure 1). Direct US involvement in the war on Syria began in 2014, with the support of US vassals- Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Israel, with the goal of removing President Bashar al-Assad from power, a policy which remains in effect today. Due to the loyalty of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) along with support from Hezbollah, the Islamic Republic or Iran and Russian Air Force and advisors, Syrian forces have fortified control over much of the country and Bashar al-Assad remains in power.

Yemen occupies a strategic position on the Arabian Peninsula, abutting the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, which connects the Arabian Sea to the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Thus, the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait is considered a strategic ‘chokepoint’ that can be closed during a military crisis and thus, of interest to major global powers. 57 In 2015, the Houthi Ansarullah movement overthrew the Yemeni government, led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, forcing him to flee to neighboring KSA. In response, Mohammed bin Salman (aka MBS), Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, formed a ‘coalition’ consisting of circa 10 countries, including Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)- the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, along with Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and Morocco. While not directly involved in the Yemen conflict, the US, UK and other imperialist countries have provided the Saudi coalition with intelligence, logistical and material support. 58 As pointed out by HRW and others, the war on Yemen has been a humanitarian disaster, leading to massive cholera epidemics, poverty, starvation and physical destruction of the country’s infrastructure. 5759

2021 and Beyond

The US emerged from WWII as the world’s dominant economic and military power. This power has been facilitated by the dollar’s privileged status as the world’s reserve currency, giving Washington the ability to print money and effectively ‘weaponize’ the dollar. Since the mid-1970s, US global power has been systematically undermined from decades of neoliberal economic policies and costly wars. Since 2001, the US has been involved in conflicts in Afghanistan (longest war in US history), Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. These conflicts have been humanitarian disasters, resulting in the injury or death of thousands of American soldiers, while displacing/killing an estimated 37 million people in the affected countries. The ongoing refugee ‘crisis’ in Europe is a direct consequence of these wars, with millions of people escaping the chaos, violence and poverty that US/NATO wars have created. 60

The costs of these wars to American taxpayers have been staggering. In addition to spending circa $14 trillion on the Pentagon (2001-2020) 61, post-911 conflicts have cost taxpayers circa $6.4 trillion. 60 Despite expending astronomical amounts of financial and human capital on these wars, the American empire has been unable to extract significant imperial rent from these countries. Unfortunately, the Pentagon is incapable of extricating itself from these conflicts as doing so is an admission of failure and by extension military/geopolitical weakness. No amount of jingoistic and bellicose rhetoric from politicians in Washington or talking heads on corporate media changes this reality.

The Trump administration has accelerated US global isolation by exiting or contemplating leaving: Paris Climate Accord, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP), Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA; Iran Nuclear deal), Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Open Skies Treaty, UN Human Rights council, World Trade Organization (WTO) and several other agreements. 62 At the same time, China has been actively negotiating multiple trade agreements, including: $400 billion comprehensive energy and security agreement with Iran 63; Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with 15 Asian countries including Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia and is the largest trade deal in history 64; EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment 65. Significantly, the US is not a party to any of these agreements and trade will be conducted using regional currencies, excluding the dollar. Not surprisingly, these trade deals are exacerbating tensions between the US, China and other countries. 66 US economic decline has now progressed to the point where the very survival of the American Empire depends on continued money printing to prop up Wall St and large banks, subsidize the military and war. This was recently summarized by economist Richard Wolff- “The Federal Reserve is sustaining US capitalism — directly by loaning to corporations and indirectly by loaning to the federal government — to run a huge deficit, excess of trillion dollars… The federal government is not an intrusion; the federal government is the only thing that keeps private capitalism from a complete bust… And what do we know about this way that the Federal Reserve is keeping capitalism going? It’s funding the most extreme inequality in a century of American history.” 25

Thus, the US is stuck between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place’. The very functioning of the American state- keeping Wall St. and large banks solvent and funding the Pentagon and ongoing wars, requires continued public support- i.e., providing unlimited amounts of ultra-cheap money from the Treasury, as laid out in a recent presentation by FED chair Jerome Powell. 67 Indeed, anytime there is so much as a hint that interest rates are going up, equity markets fall. These policies have become so ingrained and accepted as the ‘normal’ functioning of the state, that they were not addressed by Donald Trump or Joe Biden, during the 2020 campaign. The problem is that this is further undermining the strength of the dollar and jeopardizing its role as the world’s reserve currency 68, readily seen from the rising price of gold, which increased 25% last year. History tells us that over the last 700 years, world reserve currencies maintain their position on average 100 years. 69 At this point, the dollar has been the reserve currency for 77 years. 70 As the global economic vise continues to tighten, American foreign policy is becoming increasingly reckless and bellicose, while debt levels continue rising, putting increasing downward pressure on the dollar. When the dollar crashes the American Empire will crash with it. The American ruling elite are courting a rendezvous with disaster.


1. Bretton Woods Agreement and System by James Chen Apr 30, 2020; Link:

2. Launch of the Bretton Woods System- The international currency system became operational in 1958 with the elimination of exchange controls for current-account transactions By Robert L. Hetzel Federal Reserve History; Link:

3. Nixon Ends Convertibility of US Dollars to Gold and Announces Wage/Price Controls- With inflation on the rise and a gold run looming, President Richard Nixon’s team enacted a plan that ended dollar convertibility to gold and implemented wage and price controls, which soon brought an end to the Bretton Woods System. By Sandra Kollen Ghizoni, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Aug 1971; Link:

4. The Politics of Privatization: How Neoliberalism Took Over US Politics By Brett Heinz; Sept 8, 2017; Link:

5. Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems- Financial meltdown, environmental disaster and even the rise of Donald Trump – neoliberalism has played its part in them all. Why has the left failed to come up with an alternative? By George Monbiot Apr 15, 2016; Link:

6. New Deal by Editors Nov 27, 2019; Link:

7. Glass-Steagall Act by Editors Aug 21, 2018; Link:

8. Federal Tax Cuts in the Bush, Obama, and Trump Years Report July 11, 2018 Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy; Link:

9. Labor Day: Ronald Reagan and the PATCO Strike by David Macaray HuffPost Aug 20, 2017; Link:

10. How Bill Clinton’s Welfare Reform Changed America- Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign placed welfare reform at its center, claiming that his proposal would “end welfare as we have come to know it.” By Mary Pilon Aug 29, 2018; Link:

11. The Real Lessons from Bill Clinton’s Welfare Reform- The 1996 creation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program effectively killed cash assistance. Now, Republicans want to use it as a model for the rest of the social safety net. By Vann R. Newkirk II Feb 5, 2018; Link:

12. United States Average Hourly Wages in Manufacturing-1950-2020 Data; Link:

13. Mexico Nominal Hourly Wages in Manufacturing- 2007-2020 Data; Link:

14. NAFTA’s Legacy: Lost Jobs, Lower Wages, Increased Inequality; Link:

15. The White House is only telling you half of the sad story of what happened to American jobs by Linette Lopez Jul 25, 2017; Link:

16. China, Saudi Arabia and the US: Shake Up and Shake Down. By Prof. James Petras Global Research, Dec 04, 2017; Link:

17. Why bringing manufacturing jobs to the U.S. from China is “highly unlikely” by Victoria Craig Marketplace Morning Report Aug 27, 2020; Link:

18. Derivative By Jason Fernando Dec 5, 2020; Link:

19. What are the Main Risks Associated with Trading Derivatives? By J.B. Maverick Apr 3, 2020; Link:

20. War on Iran & Calling America’s Bluff by Pepe Escobar April 24, 2019; Link:

21. Bill Clinton – 25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis – TIME; Link:,28804,1877351_1877350_1877322,00.html

22. The Bizarre Action in U.S. Treasuries Is Linked to the U.S. National Debt and the Repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: Aug 29, 2019; Link:

23. World economy engulfed by “debt tsunami” by Nick Beams Nov 20, 2020; Link:

24. The Fed Man Song (to the music of Beatles ‘The Taxman’) by Jack Rrasmus Nov 16, 2020; Link:

The Fed Man Song (to the music of Beatles ‘The Taxman’)

25. Capitalism is on life support by Richard Wolff Democracy at Work Jan 4, 2021; Link:

26. IMF Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves (COFER); Link:

27. Why the US Dollar Is the Global Currency By Kimberly Amadeo July 23, 2020; Link:

28. The Rise of the Petrodollar System: “Dollars for Oil” By Jerry Robins Thu, Feb 23, 2012; Link:

29. Federal Reserve Act; Link:

30. Federal Reserve Bank of New York By Investopedia Staff Dec 18, 2020; Link:

31. SWIFT; Link:

32. SWIFT and the Weaponization of the U.S. Dollar- The U.S. has used the system as a stick before. Continuing down this path could trigger de-dollarization and an ensuing currency crisis. Saturday, Oct 6, 2018; Link:

33. The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Link:

34. “Wipe the Soviet Union Off the Map”, 204 Atomic Bombs against 66 Major Cities, US Nuclear Attack against USSR Planned During World War II When America and the Soviet Union Were Allies. By Prof Michel Chossudovsky Global Research, Oct 27, 2018; Link:

35. The Sinews of Peace (‘Iron Curtain Speech’) Mar 5, 1946; Link:

36. Project for the New American Century Oct 16, 2019; Link:

37. 1998 PNAC Letter to President Clinton on Iraq Jan 26, 1998; Link:

38. Rebuilding America’s Defenses- Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century. A Report of The Project for the New American Century By Donald Kagan, and Thomas Donnelly Sept, 2000; Link:;

39. List of PNAC Members associated with the Administration of George W. Bush; Link:

40. The 9/11 Commission Report- Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States; Link:

41. Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth; Link:

42. President Bush cites ‘axis of evil,’ Jan. 29, 2002 By Andrew Glass Politico Jan 29, 2019; Link:

43. “We’re going to take out 7 countries in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan & Iran.” Interview with General Wesley Clark Global Research, Feb 06, 2018; Link:

44. A Timeline of the U.S.-Led War on Terror- In the wake of the attacks of 9/11, President George W. Bush called for a global “War on Terror,” launching an ongoing effort to thwart terrorists before they act. By Editors May 5, 2020; Link:

45. A timeline of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan since 2001 AP July 6, 2016; Link:

46. Washington’s Twenty-First-Century Opium Wars: How a Pink Flower Defeated the World’s Sole Superpower- America’s Opium War in Afghanistan by Alfred McCoy Tom Dispatch Feb 21, 2016; Link:

47. The First World War – A Marxist Analysis of the Great Slaughter by Alan Woods June 2, 2019; Link:

48. Paris 1919: How the Peace Conference Shaped the Middle East; Link:

49. The Impact of Western Imperialism in Iraq, 1798-1963 By Geoff Simons Dec, 2002; Link:

50. Threats and Responses: The Iraqis; U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts By Michael R. Gordon and Judith Miller NYT Sept. 8, 2002; Link:

51. Colin Powell Still Wants Answers- In 2003, he made the case for invading Iraq to halt its weapons programs. The analysts who provided the intelligence now say it was doubted inside the C.I.A. at the time. By Robert Draper NYT Jan. 11, 2021; Link:

52. Lie After Lie: What Colin Powell Knew About Iraq 15 Years Ago and What He Told the U.N.- The evidence is irrefutable: Powell consciously deceived the world in his 2003 presentation making the case for war with Saddam Hussein. By Jon Schwarz

Jon Schwarz The Intercept Feb 6, 2018; Link:

53. The cost of the Iraq war Mar 19, 2013; Link:

54. The Libya Gamble- A New Libya, with ‘Very Little Time Left’. The fall of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi seemed to vindicate Hillary Clinton. Then militias refused to disarm, neighbors fanned a civil war, and the Islamic State found refuge. By Scott Shane and Jo Becker NYT Feb. 27, 2016; Link:

55. President Obama: Libya aftermath ‘worst mistake’ of presidency BBC April 11, 2016; Link:

56. Coups and terror are the fruit of Nato’s war in Libya- The dire consequences of the west’s intervention are being felt today in Tripoli and across Africa, from Mali to Nigeria by Seumas Milne The Guardian May 22, 2014; Link:

57. Strategic Importance of the Indian Ocean, Yemen and Bab-el-Mandeb Strait by Phillyguy for The Saker Blog Aug 5, 2020; Link:

58. Ending the Yemen war is both a strategic and humanitarian imperative by John R. Allen and Bruce Riedel Brookings Monday, Nov 16, 2020;

59. U.S. War Crimes in Yemen: Stop Looking the Other Way- The State Department warned for years that the U.S. was complicit in war crimes in Yemen. No one put a stop to it. Foreign Policy in Focus by Andrea Prasow Sept 21, 2020; Link:

60. Costs of War Brown University; Link:

61. U.S. military spending from 2000 to 2019; Link:

62. Here are all the treaties and agreements Trump has abandoned By Zachary B. Wolf and JoElla Carman, CNN Fri, Feb 1, 2019; Link:

63. A China-Iran bilateral deal: Costs all around- Beijing sees an opportunity in Tehran’s international isolation – but may not realise the tangle it is entering. By Jeffrey Payne Sept 2, 2020; Link:

64. China signs huge Asia Pacific trade deal with 14 countries By Jill Disis and Laura He, CNN Business Tue Nov 17, 2020;

65. The Strategic Implications of the China-EU Investment Deal- The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment is a win for China, and a blow to transatlantic relations. By Theresa Fallon Jan 4, 2021; Link:

66. EU–US tensions mount after EU signs trade deal with China by Alex Lantier Jan 4, 2021; Link:

67. Fed chief pledges massive support for Wall Street will not cease by Nick Beams Jan 16, 2021; Link:

68. Is the US Dollar’s Role as the World’s Reserve Currency Under Threat? International Banker. Sept 30, 2020; Link:

69. 3 Major Signs That Precede the Fall of World Reserve Currencies- Economics by Graham Smith Oct 24, 2019; Link:

70. 75 Years ago the U.S. Dollar Became the World’s Currency. Will that last? By Greg Rosalsky Jul 30, 2019; Link:

Figure 1 and Tables 1, 2

Figure 1. Map of Western Asia and Middle East. Source:

Table 1. Major economic legislation since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

1981Economic Recovery Tax ActReagan
1986Tax Reform Act of 1986Reagan
2001Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (EGTRRA)GW Bush
2003Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (JGTRRA)GW Bush
2010Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation ActBush/Obama
2012American Taxpayer Relief ActBush/Obama
2017Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)Trump
1993North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)Clinton
1996Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA)Clinton
1999Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (GLBA; Financial Services Modernization Act)Clinton
2000Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA)Clinton

Table 2. US involvement in conflicts and conflict zones since 911.

AfghanistanGW Bush2001-present
IraqGW Bush2003-present
LibyaObama2011- present
Eastern Europe/Russian BorderClinton- Trump1997-Present
China Sea/Western PacificObama/Trump2011-present
Persian GulfBush/Obama/Trump2003-present

وقف الاستيراد دون إجازة حكوميّة لسنة

ناصر قنديل

لن تتوقف محاولات الاستثمار السياسي الخبيثة للأزمة الاقتصادية والمالية بالتحريض، على الحكومة، والعهد، وليس فقط على المقاومة وسلاحها مرة، وعلى العلاقة بسورية مرات، وكلما استمرت المفاعيل المتفجّرة للأزمة بوقعها على الناس من دون معالجة، سيكون لهذه المحاولات فرص التلاعب بتفكير ومشاعر شرائح من الناس الذين تفقدهم الأزمة توازنهم، وتجعلهم تحت تأثير أيّ نوع من التفسيرات التي تنتهي بالدعوة للانضباط في السياسات والمشاريع الأميركية، كطريق وحيد لوهم الخلاص الذي تحدّث عنه جيفري فيلتمان بوصفه الازدهار الموعود.

بالمقابل لا يمكن لمواجهة الأزمة غير العادية أن تعتمد الطرق التقليديّة، وطالما أن الحكومة تنتظر نتائج مفاوضاتها مع صندوق النقد الدولي لتعتمد السياسات النهائية، في مواجهة الأزمة، وطالما أن المدة المتوقعة لهذه المفاوضات وتبلورها بسياسات، هي سنة تقريباً، وطالما أن الوجه الأبرز للأزمة هو سعر الصرف، وهو منصة صالحة للعبث والضغوط الهادفة لفرض السياسات، فإن تثبيت سعر الصرف يشكل العنوان الأبرز لكل مواجهة جدّية ومجدية، فهل هذا ممكن؟

يتولّى مصرف لبنان تأمين العملات الصعبة اللازمة لشراء المشتقات النفطية والقمح بسعر صرف مدعوم، ولديه مخزون يكفي للقيام بذلك بأسعار التجار لسنتين وأكثر، فلماذا لا يتم تأمينها عبر اتفاقيات صادقة من دولة لدولة، توفر في كلفتها وتضمن مواصفاتها وربما تتضمّن تيسيراً في سبل السداد، وتصير المدة المضمونة خمس سنوات بدلاً من سنتين، كما يتولى مصرف لبنان تأمين اعتمادات لشراء الأدوية والمعدات الطبية ولوازم الصناعة وموادها الأولية، ووفقاً لصيغة المنصة المستحدثة بين مصرف لبنان والمصارف والصرافين سيتم تأمين الدولارات اللازمة لاستيراد المواد الاستهلاكيّة الأساسية، بسعر 3200 ليرة، ووفقاً لحساب بسيط من المعلوم أن مبالغ كبيرة يتم ضخها في سوق الصرف بين تحويلات من الخارج، وما تقوم المقاومة بضخه شهرياً، تقدّر بمئة وخمسين مليون دولار، وهي وفقاً لتقديرات الخبراء كافية لتغطية حاجات السوق الاستهلاكية بالمواد الضرورية، والغذائية منها خصوصاً.

يبقى الاستيراد الإضافيّ سواء لمواد استهلاكية أو رفاهية، مصدراً وحيداً للطلب على الدولار، تتغطى به عمليات المضاربة، وهو لمواد ينتج مثلها في السوق المحلية، أو لا تشكل أساسيّات ليتمّ تمويلها بسعر صرف مدعوم، ومنها الألبسة والأحذية والألبان والأجبان والعصائر والمياه المعدنيّة، وكلها يوجد ما يوازيها من الإنتاج المحلي، بالإضافة للكماليّات الكثيرة، والجواب الطبيعي للذين يتحدّثون عن حالة طوارئ ماليّة واقتصاديّة ولا يقومون بتوصيفها، هو هنا باتخاذ إجراءات مؤقتة وصارمة تساهم في تعزيز الصمود، أي الحفاظ على مخزون العملات الصعبة من جهة، والحفاظ على سعر الصرف وبالتالي أسعار المواد الاستهلاكية التي تحدد القدرة الشرائية للمواطنين من جهة موازية، والطريق واضح وهو منع الاستيراد من دون إجازة حكومية لمدة سنة، والمدة هنا تأكيد على أن الإجراء استثنائي ومؤقت، ولو تم تمديدها لاحقاً، إذا ظهر أنه في ظل هذا الإجراء نمت صناعات وطنية تحتاج لمزيد من الوقت للحماية كي يقوى عودها.

باستيراد المشتقات النفطية والقمح باتفاقات دولة لدولة، وحصر الاستيراد بإجازة، وتحديده بالضروريات، يمكن للبنان أن يؤمن حاجات استهلاكه الأساسية لخمس سنوات وليس لسنتين فقط، وهي مدة أكثر من كافية للنهوض الاقتصادي، وبالتوازي سيصير لمكافحة المضاربة بصفتها جريمة تعادل الخيانة، فرصة حقيقية، حيث من يقدم على شراء الدولار من السوق بكميات تفوق حاجات شخصية معلومة، سيكون مكشوفاً بصفته مضارباً، طالما أن تمويل عمليات الاستيراد مشروط بإجازة حكومية مسبقة، سيوفر منحها فرصة مراقبة أسعار البيع، وضمان استقرار الأسواق.

هنا يصير سعر الصرف الذي تضمنه عملية ضخ للدولار يتوازن فيها العرض مع حجم الطلب، قابلا للحماية إذا تعرض لضغوط إضافية ستكون محدودة وعابرة، وقابلة للحصر والملاحقة، ويصير لمصرف لبنان القدرة ببضعة ملايين من الدولارات حماية سعر الصرف، ومعه يصير مطلوباً من وزارة الاقتصاد، تحمّل مسؤولياتها لمراقبة حقيقية خارج المكاتب لأسعار المواد الاستهلاكية ونشر لائحة يومية لهذه الأسعار، وإنزال عقوبات مشدّدة بالمخالفين.

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الشرق الأوسط ضحية النفوذ الأميركي وتسييس الدين

ديسمبر 20, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

هاتان سمتان عامتان تسيطران على المسرح السياسي في بلدان الشرق الأوسط وتضبطه في تخلف متواصل، يجعله ألعوبة أميركية ومسرحاً سهلاً لسيطرتها الاقتصادية.
هذا الاهتمام الأميركي ذهب في اتجاه اختراع آليات صراع غير حقيقية لا تعكس حاجات شعوب المنطقة بقدر ما تُلبي إصرار الأميركيين على ضبط شعوبها في تناقضات تنتج المزيد من التخلف.

فبعد استهلاك الخلافات القبلية والعشائرية بين آل سعود والهاشميين وخليفة وأئمة اليمن وآل ثاني وزايد؛ هذه الصراعات التي أنتجت معظم الدول العربية المعاصرة، برعاية فرنسية بريطانية؛ نسج الأميركيون على منوال اختلاف تعارضات اخرى مكرسين ذعراً اسلامياً من الغرب المسيحي ليستفردوا به باستبعاد اوروبا وريثة الصليبيين والرومان والفرنجة، ومقدمين أنفسهم وكأن لا علاقة لهم بهذا الإرث التاريخي ذي الواجهة الدينية السطحية والعمق الاستعماري الاوروبي الحقيقي لا المسيحي.

للإشارة بان الولايات المتحدة هي أوروبية التأسيس إنما على اراضي الهنود الحمر أي أن لها حصة بتكوينها الشعبي من الاستعمار الاوروبي الذي شمل العالم بأسره في القرنين الماضيين.

وعندما بدأ العصر الأميركي فعلياً نقل اصحاب البيت الأبيض طبيعة الصراع في الشرق الأوسط الى دائرة العداء الإسلامي ـ الشيوعي، الإسلامي ـ الاشتراكي، او بين انظمة قبلية في الخليج وقومية في سورية والعراق ومصر.
هنا شكل الاتحاد السوفياتي نموذجاً “للكفار” الذين أرادوا ضرب الاسلام وإلغائه، على حد زعمهم، متوصلين الى بناء سد بين معظم المنطقة العربية وروسيا أدرك مستويات العداء. وكان المستفيد بالطبع هي الهيمنة الأميركية الاستراتيجية ـ الاقتصادية على الشرق الاوسط النفطي والاستهلاكي.

هذا السيناريو جابه ايضاً الفكر القومي العربي، فبالتعاون بين الأميركيين وانظمة الخليج، أطلقت هذه الانظمة مقولة تتهم مصر وسورية والعراق بأنها تروّج لفكر عنصري معادٍ لأممية الإسلام الذي يساوي بين كل الأمم التي ينتمي اليها المسلمون في العالم، متوصلين الى إعادة القوميين الى دوائر ضيقة.

لكن الأميركيين ومعهم أنظمة الخليج، أخذوا يبثون مواد إعلامية تتحدث عن الديانتين اليهودية والاسلامية ومعهما المسيحية هي ديانات سماوية متآخية لا يجب على الخلافات السياسية أن تدفع بها الى حالات الاحتراب والاقتتال، وكأنهم أرادوا منذ ذلك الوقت إنهاء القضية الفلسطينية بتفكيك التأييد العربي والاسلامي، وحتى المسيحي لها.

لتأكيد هذا المدى الواسع الذي يلعبه النفوذ الأميركي في تسييس الاسلام عبر وكلائه الخليجيين في المنطقة، اخترع صراعاً بين سنة وشيعة للتعامل مع الصعود الإيراني في الجمهورية الاسلامية، مستغلين شيعة إيران، فليس بمقدور الأميركيين التهاون مع ايران التي تمكنت من اختراق هيمنتهم على الشرق الأوسط، عبر تأييد القضية الفلسطينية بالتمويل والتأييد السياسي والتسليح، ودعم الدولة السورية في وجه الإرهاب الكوني، والعراق ايضاً مع مد يد العون لليمن المستهدف أميركياً وخليجياً.

ايران هذه اخترقت ايضاً افغانستان في الهزارة وطالبان وأمنت مواقع في باكستان والهند وماليزيا، ما استجلب عليها، غضب الأميركيين واستياءهم في الحدود القصوى.

لذلك جاء الردّ على شكل محاولة تطويق ايران بعداء سني لها عبر إحياء الفتنة الشيعية ـ السنية او الفارسية ـ العربية، حسب المطلوب أميركياً.

ولولا التأييد الفلسطيني لإيران لكانت السياسة الأميركية ـ الخليجية أفعل في مجابهتها. هذا يكشف مدى تمكن النفوذ الأميركي من تسييس الاسلام عبر الانظمة العربية المحلية. فالأزهر الشريف اعلى موقع اسلامي تاريخي تُمسِك بقراراته الدولة المصرية منفردة، وتتدخّل لتصبح ملائمة لمصلحة التنسيق الخليجي الأميركي. وكذلك حال المراكز الدينية في المدى الإسلامي الموالي للأميركيين، بما يكشف العلاقة البنيوية بين النفوذ الأميركي في العالم الإسلامي وبين المراكز الإسلامية الكبرى.

أما لمذا تسييس الدين؟ لا يزال الدين العنصر الاساسي في الإقناع والتأثير على الناس، وتشكيل المحاور الكبرى. وهذه تبدأ من الخلافات الفقهية والتاريخية لتشكل تحشيداً يرتحل من الدين الى السياسة والخلافات المذهبية والطائفية والقومية.لبنان واحد من ضحايا هذه المعادلات الأميركية ـ الإسلامية ـ المسيحية، حتى أن مراكزه الدينية الكبرى السنية الشيعية والمسيحية والدرزية مرتبطة بشكل كامل بمواقع القوة السياسية في طوائفها، فتستجيب لكل ما تحتاجه من تأييد شعبي للتحشيد حول مصالحها، وهذا يشمل كل طوائف لبنان، ألم يصدر المفتي دريان حظراً يمنع فيه على أي سني بقبول رئاسة الوزراء باستثناء رئيس الوزراء المستقيل سعد الحريري؟ أهذا من الدين أو من السياسة؟
وهذا للأمانة، يشمل كل المراكز الدينية لطوائف لبنان التي تضع الدين في خدمة قواها السياسية في الداخل ـ وهذه بدورها تخدم المشاريع الكبرى للأميركيين ومنافسيهم في الاقليم.

فهل من مؤشرات على اقتراب موعد القطع مع تسييس الدين لخدمة المشاريع الخارجية؟ الدلائل متواضعة، ويحتاج الأمر الى انتصار اكبر على المشروع الأميركي في الشرق الأوسط، من إيران إلى لبنان، وهذا أصبح ممكناً.

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هيل: نواف سلام والفاخوري والبلوك 9… والعقدة برّي

ديسمبر 17, 2019

ناصر قنديل

مع وصول المبعوث الأميركي معاون وزير الخارجية والسفير السابق في بيروت ديفيد هيل يوم الجمعة، تسبقه ثلاثة طلبات أميركية معلنة أو موحىً بها؛ الطلب الأول المتصل بتسمية مرشح لرئاسة الحكومة، بدا بوضوح أنه ليس الرئيس سعد الحريري من كلام رئيس حزب القوات اللبنانية سمير جعجع الذي يبدو أنه يعبّر بدقة أكبر من الحريري عن التقاطع في الموقفين الأميركي والسعودي، وقول جعجع لافت «ليس هناك في الخارج من يقول لا يمكن للبلد أن يصطلح أمره من دون حكومة برئاسة الحريري كما أن ليس هناك من يقول العكس أيضاً». والكلام الإضافي لجعجع يأتي ترويجاً لاسم السفير السابق نواف سلام، الذي تبنّاه النائب ميشال معوض ومثله فعل حزب الكتائب، بعدما كان الرئيس سعد الحريري أول من طرحه في التداول وقام بسحبه سريعاً، ما يجعل التساؤل عن مصدر التسمية مشروعاً، خصوصاً أن سلام ليس اقتصادياً ولا خبيراً مالياً، وهو سياسي له مواقف تشكل سبباً للانقسام حولها. وكان واضحاً أن الرئيس سعد الحريري يسعى لتأجيل الاستشارات إلى الإثنين المقبل لأن زيارة ديفيد هيل ستتم يوم الجمعة، وتوجيهات هيل سبقته باعتماد اسم نواف سلام الخميس، وهو ما كان يأمل الحريري بتغييره عبر لقاء هيل قبل الاستشارات، ويسعى لذلك عبر الاتصالات المتاحة قبل الخميس، خصوصاً أن رئيس مجلس النواب نبيه بري كان أول من رفض التسمية عندما عرضها الحريري باعتبار التسمية بحثاً عن مشكلة وليست سعياً لحل.

الطلب الثاني الذي يحمله هيل ويسبق وصوله يتعلق بمصير العميل “الإسرائيلي” عامر الفاخوري المعروف بجزار سجن الخيام، فعندما يغرّد النائب السابق وليد جنبلاط عن هندسة تتمّ لنزع الجنسية اللبنانية عن الفاخوري وتصويرها عقوبة على عمالته، بينما هي تمهيد لترحيله إلى أميركا التي يحمل جنسيتها، لا يمكن وصف الأمر بالتكهّن والتحليل. فجنبلاط يتحدث بمعلومات وليس بتكهنات، وإذا أضفنا لكلام حنبلاط المعلومات الأكيدة عن وجود خلية عمل في السفارة الأميركية تهتمّ وتتابع التفاصيل الشخصية والقانونية للفاخوري، وقامت بترتيب ملف طبي ملفّق عن إصابته بنوع من أمراض السرطان التي تستدعي علاجه في أميركا، والمعلومات التي يؤكد الأسرى المحررون تحققهم من صحتها عن إقامة الفاخوري بين فندق الحبتور ومستشفى أوتيل ديو، يجب التنبه لمهمة هيل بما يخصّ العميل الفاخوري، خصوصاً أن بعض ما تشيّعه أوساط قريبة من السفارة الأميركية يقول إن المشكلة تكمن في موقف رئيس مجلس النواب الرافض لكل تسوية لملف الفاخوري، وأنه بتخلي بري عن رفضه تهون المسألة، لأن رفض حزب الله وحده لا يكفي، علماً أن القضية ببعدها الوطني تستدعي موقفاً معلناً من كل القوى السياسية والمواقع الدستورية، فهي ليست قضية طائفية ولا قضية حزب أو تيار أو حركة.

القضية الثالثة التي يحملها هيل تتصل بالبلوك رقم 9 الذي يشكل قضية القضايا في ترسيم الحدود البحرية للبنان، والذي تقوم ورقة المبعوث الأميركي ديفيد ساترفيلد على مطالبة لبنان بالتخلّي عن أغلب حقوقه في البلوك 9 تلبية للمصالح الإسرائيلية. وقد دعا كل من الدبلوماسيين الأميركيين جيفري فيلتمان وديفيد شنكر بعد انطلاق الحراك الشعبي إلى ربط أي دعم لمساعي تقديم الدعم للبنان بوجود حكومة توقع على ورقة ساترفيلد. والمعلوم أن الرئيس سعد الحريري بعد لقائه بوزير الخارجية الأميركية مايك بومبيو قبل شهور عاد بطلب وضع يده على ملف التفاوض حول ترسيم الحدود البحرية، بدلاً من توليه من قبل الرئيس بري الذي يزعج بقاؤه ممسكاً بالملف، الحسابات الأميركية. وللتذكير فقط فإن الثروات التي يطلب من لبنان التخلي عنها تقدر بـ 74 مليار دولار بينما المبالغ التي يعد الأميركيون بتسهيل تدفقها على لبنان هي قروض بـ 4 مليارات دولار من البنك الدولي، ولأن الأميركيين قرّروا إيفاد هيل، فذلك يعني أنه بعد الزيارة سيكون تصعيد أميركي إذا لم يحصل هيل على ما جاء يطلبه. والتصعيد مالي وربما أمني عبر خطة الفوضى التي بدأت معالمها. – الاستنتاج الطبيعي هو أن الحملة المفتعلة والمبرمجة على الرئيس نبيه بري لادخل لها بنظرية “كلنيعنيكلن”، بل هي أمرعمليات أميركي تمهيداً لزيارة هيل، والرسالة وصلت، وسيسمع هيل مالايُرضيه، والعتب على الرئيس الحريري الذي يستعمل شارعه لإيصال رسائل الشتائم والكراهية بحق مَن وقف معه في كل المحن التي عاشها، رغم عدم مبادلته الحسنة بالحسنة، فعلى الأقل حجب الإساءة تلقى من شرفة داره.

لماذا يردّ الحريري في الشارع على بري؟

ـ مع فشل مشروع تسمية الرئيس سعد الحريري لتشكيل الحكومة الجديدة واضطراره لطلب تأجيل الإستشارات النيابية صدرت عنه وعن تياره وشارعه ردود أفعال مستغربة رغم أنّ المعلوم أنه تلقى الطعنة التي أسقطت حساباته بالتسمية من حليفه حزب القوات اللبنانية الذي سبق وأعطاه وعداً بالانضمام إلى التسمية.

ـ الحجر الأول وجهه الحريري في بيانه نحو التيار الوطني الخر بتبرير طلب التأجيل بداعي معلوملت وصلته عن نية التيار وضع أصواته في عهدة رئيس الجمهورية والتحذير من خرق دستوري ما اضطر رئاسة الجمهورية للردّ بقسوة عن رفض رئيس الجمهورية مراراً لوضع التسمية في عهدته واستغرابها الحديث عن حرب نوايا والانتهاء بالحديث عن خرق دستوري.

ـ من بعد الظهر وحتى الليل شهد شارع المستقبل قطع طرقات وهتافات استفزازية تستهدف رئيس مجلس النواب نبيه بري علماً أنّ الرئيس بري كان الوحيد من خارج تحالفات الحريري التقليدية سيقوم مع كتلته بتسمية الحريري رغم عدم الإتفاق معه على شكل الحكومة ومنذ الأزمة وهو يحرص على مداراة الحريري ومراعاته رغم كلّ الإساءات لتاريخ العلاقة التي حملها سلوك الحريري منذ الإستقالة، وفي لحظة طلب التأجيل للإستشارات لم يجد الحريري معيناً له إلا الرئيس بري الذي تدخل لدى رئيس الجمهورية طالباً أخذ رغبة الحريري بالإعتبار.

ـ القوات تطعن الحريري وشارعه يهتف ضدّ بري، فهل فقد الحريري شارعه وصار لسواه وصار هذا الشارع أو كتلة الشغب فيه ضمن معادلة أخرى يتمّ توظيفها لصناعة الفتنة باستفزاز الشارع المؤيد لبري وصولاً لمواجهات تشعل عدداً من مناطق العاصمة والمحافظات ولحساب من؟

ـ الجواب عند الرئيس الحريري ووزيرة الداخلية والمدير العام لقوى الأمن الداخلي بما تصوّره الكاميرات وما تنقله تقارير الأجهزة الأمنية فهل نسمع كلاماً مسؤولاً؟

التعليق السياسي

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Does «Israel» Believe A War With The Axis of The Resistance Will Be Just A Walkover?

Does «Israel» Believe A War With The Axis of The Resistance Will Be Just A Walkover?

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“There is no alternative to war. One day it will be war on a large scale”. This is what one of the decision-makers within the “Axis of the Resistance” has said with confidence. However, the timing may not be as close as repeatedly advertised by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, despite signs to the contrary. Such a war is most unlikely to happen any time soon. Examining the reasons may be quite revealing.

For the first time in the history of Israel, the election of a Prime Minister is stumbling. Netanyahu needs to remain in power to avoid prison. A war against Gaza is not a realistic option. A battle against Hezbollah in Lebanon would be very costly and is therefore unlikely to take place. The Israeli attacks against Syria may trigger a reaction but not an all-out war on multiple fronts. A war against Iraq is not possible because the US has thousands of forces in the country, offering a perfect target for Iran’s allies when needed.

On the other hand, attacking Iran – as Netanyahu is advertising – doesn’t mean limiting the war to two belligerents (Iran and Israel) but a widespread war on all Middle Eastern fronts. A well-informed source within the “Axis of the Resistance” considers “there is no valid reason for Israel to be engaged with the US in a destructive war, whose outcome will be doubtful, any time soon”.

“The US doesn’t wage war on any country if victory is not certain. Fighting Iran leads to uncertain results and huge destruction on many levels. The US and its allies will doubtless avoid this scenario”, said the source.

The US imposed sanctions on Iraqi personalities this month, similar to its procedure against Lebanese figures at the beginning of this year, contributing to curbing the domestic economy with the hope that heavy sanctions may lead to civil unrest. However, the US needs the Iraqi oil to stop its flow and sales to diminish its financial income, mainly when Iraq produces almost 3.5 million barrels per day and its budget heavily depends on oil exports. So far, no indications are leading to the intention of the US to block the Iraqi oil sales, even though Iran is selling some of its oil in Mesopotamia to counter the US sanctions.

It is good to note that the US has no plan to control Lebanon, neither to lay its hands on Iraq. Washington is benefitting from the chaos or at least the instability hitting both countries, essential components from the “Axis of the Resistance”, is to its advantage.

In Syria, the reconstruction plan will take off only when the US is confident it will lead to the removal of President Bashar al-Assad. The US and its allies failed to achieve this in 9 years of war. Now they are trying to overthrow the government using economic leverage- to no avail. The US is imposing sanctions on Syria to prevent any commerce with and from the Levant. Iran, Russia and China are contributing to supporting the government of Damascus to recover, slowly, from the long destructive war notwithstanding the US-EU sanctions. However, the Syrian devaluation of the local currency – similar to Lebanon – significantly damaged the local economies of Lebanon and Syria. However, the two countries are still far from falling victim to US hegemony. With Lebanon, Iraq and Syria slipping away from the US’s control, the only possible option would be a direct attack on Iran.

In Lisbon, during his meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this month, Prime Minister Netanyahu said his conversation focused “first of all on Iran”. The Israeli-US fear emanates from reports that Iran’s influence is growing in support of “Hezbollah, the Assad regime and factions in Iraq”. Alastair Crooke, the former British diplomat and current Middle Eastern analyst, writes about a “prospectus for war with Iran this time, in six months, because Netanyahu needs it to survive”. Considering the date in the next six months, this means the end of the spring and the beginning of the summer. A perfect and usually most favourable time for war by Israel that relies mainly on its Air Force in the first waves of attacks. Notwithstanding all these verbalised indications, are Israel and the US ready for a war on Iran?

Iran is not a country willing to stand by without reacting. It can respond on many fronts, particularly as US forces are spread widely all over the Middle East. Targets are certainly not lacking.

The source believes “Netanyahu is putting pressure on President Trump to keep him in Syria even if the US President has expressed on many occasions his wish to pull out completely”. Netanyahu is telling the US that it has no reason to leave when Iran is preparing for war and that the US forces’ presence in the Levant and Mesopotamia are much needed in this case.

It is within Netanyahu’s plan – said the source – to ask the US forces to disturb or close down the Syrian-Iraqi borders at Albu Kamal – Al Qaem crossing in case of war, making the continuous presence of the US forces in Syria mandatory for the benefit of Israel, under the excuse of stealing the Syrian oil, which is also a valid pretext that suits Trump with his greed for money.

Indubitably, Israel is provoking Iran in Syria by frequently bombing its large forces whose brigade name is  Zulfukar. It is this same Iranian IRGC brigade that uses anti-air missiles to intercept most of the Israeli missiles hitting Syrian and Iranian targets. Iran, in most Israeli attacks, receives at least 12-hours prior warning from Russia about the objectives to be targeted by Israel. This may be irrelevant because the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Forces increased their presence and effectiveness in the Levant over the last five years, ready to be part of any possible war with Israel starting from Syria or Lebanon. Sayyed Nasrallah has said in previous speeches that the “Axis of the Resistance” is ready to support Lebanon in case of war.

In Lebanon, following the failed Israeli drone attacks on the Hezbollah warehouse in the suburb of Beirut, the group considered the attack as a violation of the undeclared cessation of hostilities and a severe break of the 1701 UN resolution agreed following the 2006 Israeli war. Hezbollah promised to retaliate. In response, for the first time in the history of Israel, Tel Aviv decided to lock the entire Israeli military in their bunkers for over one week. No visible trace of the Israeli army was visible for at least 3 km wide and 100 km long away from the borders with Lebanon. Not only that, Israel was providing dummy targets for Hezbollah to bomb, to end the Israeli army’s embarrassment, an army that used to brag about itself, classifying its military power as the strongest in the Middle East. Hezbollah terrorised Israel with only one televised speech pronounced by its General Secretary Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah that was more effective than a weapon of mass destruction. The deterrence policy of Israel and its military preventive ideology against its enemy were smashed. Half an hour after the attack, Israeli patrols returned along the border, humiliated. The Israeli politicians and military officers led by their Prime Minister took their tails between their legs and walked away as no attack had happened.

In Iraq, intelligence sources claimed Iran is building an underground tunnel to store missiles. Also, Iran is accused of “secretly moving missiles into Iraq”, in a way to justify the Israeli strikes on Mesopotamia, as Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi confirmed. Moreover, there are ‘rocket messages’ sent to the US in the green zone, at Ayn al-Assad military base, Baghdad airport and Balad airbase. These rockets launched against the US army deployed in Iraq serve to intimidate the US and carry the following message from Iran: “Your forces are within our reach, and our allies are ready whenever you are”.

Sources within the Axis of the Resistance believe Iran is indeed preparing a significant hit on Israel, without necessarily giving more details or indication as to where and when the strike could take place. This option is still a possibility that could change depending on the development of events in the Middle East but will most likely be hot, on the table, when the US elections come nearer. These elections will probably prevent any US intervention in a broader war in the Middle East, even if the aim were to protect Israel.

Our source in the Axis of the Resistance wonders: can Israel afford to see its seven military airports around Tel Aviv hit by long-range cruise missiles fired from Iran or precision missiles fired from Lebanon, Syria and Iraq? Israeli civilian airports and infrastructure are within Iran and its allies’ reach. Is Israel ready to face a level of destruction never observed before, notwithstanding Israel’s own immense fire-power? Does Israel believe a war with the Axis of the Resistance will be a walk in the park?

The Pentagon warned that Iran is “increasingly producing capable ballistic and cruise missile with better accuracy, lethality and range”. These Iranian missiles have been delivered to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The source within the “Axis of the Resistance” asks: “Can Israel and its military bases outside Israel and the US military bases spread across the Middle East be ready to confront these accurate cruise missiles?”

The US was incapable of overpowering Iran in the last forty years of the revolution, despite forty years of escalating sanctions. The US won’t engage in a war anywhere in the world where the results are uncertain. The US – and the world – saw the results of provoking Iran during the last tanker war where Iran downed the most expensive US drone which violated its sovereignty and almost shot down a spy plane with 38 US officers onboard.

In Israel, not only is the internal front far from being ready (Hezbollah has precision missiles capable of reaching any objective in its geography), but the politico-economic situation is pitiful. Non-Governmental-Organisations believe 2.3 million in Israel are defined as poor (about 530,000 families, among them 1,007,000 children, in Israel live in poverty). 59% of elderly citizens who are supported by aid organisations cannot afford to make their homes suitable for their medical needs, due to a lack of income. About 64.5% of the elderly who receive aid don’t have properly fitting clothes, and about 49% cannot heat their homes during winter. 69% cannot afford school textbooks and materials. Data shows that 79% of those given aid struggle with a chronic medical condition, about 67% were forced to give up on medication or treatment due to cost, and about 58% had to give up treatment or medication for their children.

A war would thus seem logically to be out of the question, although the potential for madness and desperation of Prime Minister Netanyahu should never be underestimated.

Proofread by  Maurice Brasher and C.G.B

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Copyright ©, 2019

More US Pressures: Treasury Sanctions 2 Lebanese Businessmen over Alleged Links to Hezbollah

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin


December 14, 2019

The US Treasury imposed sanctions against two Lebanese businessmen over alleged links to Hezbollah.

According to the US Treasury statement, the Lebanon-based businessman Nazim Sa’id Ahmad and the Democratic Republic of Congo-based businessman Saleh Assi were both sanctioned.

The US Treasury accused Ahmad of allegedly being one of Hezbollah’s top donors, while also accusing Assi of allegedly laundering money to Ahmad’s businesses.

“Hezbollah continues to use seemingly legitimate businesses as front companies to raise and launder funds in countries like the DRC where it can use bribery and political connections to secure unfair market access and evade taxes,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stated.

Shortly after the US Treasury statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted on Twitter that these latest sanctions are helping the Lebanese people “fight against corruption and terrorism.”

“We stand with the people of #Lebanon to fight against corruption and terrorism. Today we designated two prominent Lebanese businessmen whose illicit financial activity supports Hizballah. We will continue to use all the tools at our disposal to counter the threat Hizballah poses,” he tweeted, referring to Hezbollah.


Source: Agencies

Sayyed Nasrallah: The US is Exploiting Lebanon’s Protests, No for One-Sided Gov’t

Sayyed Nasrallah: The US is Exploiting Lebanon’s Protests, No for One-Sided Gov’t

Zeinab Essa  

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered on Friday a speech in which he tackled the latest internal developments on the Lebanese level, particularly the formation of a new government.

Warning that Lebanon is passing through a sensitive moment regarding the formation of a new government, Sayyed Nasrallah clarified that “Whenever protests erupt in a certain country, we find the Americans quickly interfering and seeking to exploit these protests in a rude and clear way that serves their own interests and not those of the protesters.”

On this level, His Eminence explained that

“the Americans try to convince the world that they are orchestrating these protests, whether that is true or not. This is the case Latin America as well as in Hon Kong as well in the so-called Arab spring.”

Image result for kelly craft unHe cited the US envoy to the UN, Kelly Craft who said that the demonstrations will continue in Lebanon and Yemen and wherever Iran is and not in any place where there is corruption. “The Americans view the demonstrations as tools to pressure Iran.”

“Since the first day, the Americans assumed that these demonstrations reflect the Lebanese revolution against Hezbollah and the resistance’s resistance, and some Arab and Gulf media helped them in this, knowing that no one raised this issue,”

Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted noting, that

“The Americans are either deceiving themselves or the world, or some Lebanese are sending wrong and misleading reports.”

Commenting on the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statements on Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah recalled that

“Pompeo’s statements regarding the demonstrations claimed that the stalemate in Lebanon was caused by Hezbollah, and thus he called them to get rid of it.”

Slamming Pompeo’s statements as reflection of the US silly approach, His Eminence underscored that

“Pompeo’s statements reflect his pressure on Lebanon to remove Hezbollah from the state, which is impossible due to its popular presence. The US evaluation of the Lebanese protests  is wrong.”

“The American exploitation to the Lebanese demonstrations is clear, parallel to the “Israeli” consideration that what is happening in Lebanon forms an opportunity for them,” he highlighted, pointing out that

“Pompeo, with his comments, considers himself to be the mouthpiece and expresser of the Lebanese people’s opinion!”

In response to Pompeo, the Resistance Leader stressed that

“Hezbollah poses the first threat to “Israel” in the face of its ambitions as well as a threat to the schemes of the American hegemony in Lebanon and the region. Hezbollah never formed a threat to the interests of the Lebanese people, but rather a defender to their interests.”

“Both the Americans and the “Israelis” are practicing the policy of blackmail,” His Eminence warned, cautioning that “the American equation that they want to impose on the Lebanese people is ‘give up what preserves your sovereignty so that we help you’.”

To the Lebanese, Sayyed Nasrallah raised the following question:

“Do not believe the American promises. Draw lessons from the countries that surrendered to the US conditions. Have they overcome their financial woes?”

He also urged the Lebanese to be aware of and not to be affected by the US deceptive calls and incites pushing towards sedition and chaos. “Everyone who has a problem and is protesting should not allow the Americans to take advantage of his movement.”

“From the beginning, we did not agree on the government’s resignation because the country cannot tolerate a vacuum,” His Eminence stated, noting that “the government’s resignation has made matters worse on various levels. “It also paralyzed state institutions that should have been implementing reforms.”

Regarding the recent fabrications, Sayyed Nasrallah revealed that

“Some Gulf countries are fabricating statements attributed to Iranian officials. The IRGC  general mentioned nothing about Lebanon in his statement. Some parties are fabricating statements attributed to Iranian officials in order to embarrass some Lebanese parties.”

“Iran itself will respond to those who attack it [whether the US or “Israel”] and it will not depend on its allies,” he added.

Back to the Lebanese internal scene, His Eminence declared: “Forming a government of one color requires courage, but the risks and ramifications have been studied. We in Hezbollah and the brothers in Amal Movement are against a one-color government. In parallel, Sayyed Nasrallah wondered:

“If a one-color government is formed in light of the existing situation, the situation will get worse and how can it deal with a crisis with this level of danger?”

He reminded that “The National Pact forbids the formation of a one-sided government.”

“The consultations are supposed to take place Monday and we hope a PM-designate will be named,” he went on to say, predicting that

“The formation of the government won’t be an easy process. After the designation of a PM, we will talk about the line-up and we would negotiate and cooperate with the PM-designate to form the government.”

According to Sayyed Nasrallah, “The solution to the current crisis is cooperation and concessions to save the country.”

He once again explained that

“Hezbollah had no objection on a government headed by PM Saad Hariri. However, he proposed inappropriate conditions. A reformist government does not necessarily mean a technocrat government.”

In addition, he announced that Hezbollah insists on the Free Patriotic Movement’s representation in the government as no party should be eliminated. “The parliamentary blocs have not yet agreed on a PM’s name and the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc is to unveil its position on Monday.”

On the same level, His Eminence urged “The caretaker government to shoulder its responsibilities regarding the economic situation.”

Calling on the Lebanese army and its leadership to accelerate the opening of any road that is being cut, Sayyed Nasrallah reiterated that

“blocking the roads during the protests put people at risk as some seek chaos and clashes.”

Once again, His Eminence called on supporters of Hezbollah and the Amal movement to control nerves, and be patient so not to be drawn to any tension. “On the security level, the Lebanese have so far acted with responsibly. We, God willing, are nearing the end.”

Regarding the social aspect of the economic crisis, Sayyed Nasrallah urged “People to come together socially and to show solidarity with each other.”

To whoever is taking advantage of the situation and raising profits, His Eminence said:

“Now the situation needs everyone’s solidarity. And if the country collapses, everyone will be severely affected. Everything that has to do with the lives of the people from bread to gasoline and medicine shouldn’t be manipulated.”

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The American Empire Will Fall, Not America Itself

December 12, 2019 (Gunnar Ulson – NEO) – The collapse of an entire nation is as spectacular as it is rare. For a nation to simply cease to exist it must suffer such absolute defeat across the entire spectrum of what constitutes a nation; economically, militarily, culturally, socially and politically.

What is much more common is a transition from existing, prevailing socioeconomic, political and military orders to new ones driven by new, emerging special interests. It can happen quickly and violently, or take place as a long-term process with ups and downs and both constructive and destructive processes intertwining.

For the United States, a massive nation with the third largest population on the planet, the largest military and still currently the largest economy, for it to suffer such full-spectrum defeat is impossible.

What is not impossible is for the small handful of special interests currently directing US policy foreign and domestic, to find itself displaced by a new order consisting of entirely different kinds of special interests and, hopefully, special interests that better reflect the best interests of the United States as a whole and function more sustainably among the nations of the world rather than hovering above them.

It is a process that is already ongoing.

America’s Prevailing Order is Fading 

The current special interests driving US foreign and domestic policy are centered around Wall Street and Washington and represent an increasingly unrealistic, unsustainable, archaic network based on traditional banking, energy and manufacturing monopolies.

Many of the tools used by these special interests to maintain and expand their power and influence including mass media, extensive lobbying, networks dedicated to political subversion abroad and political distractions at home find themselves increasingly ineffective as both the American people and nations around the globe become increasingly familiar with them and as they begin developing effective countermeasures.

While US special interests dedicate a seemingly immense amount of time countering “Russian” or “Chinese” “propaganda,” it is primarily alternative media from the United States and its partner nations that have done the most to expose and diminish the unwarranted influence wielded from Wall Street and Washington. Wikileaks is a prime example of this.

As America’s elite and their networks weaken, alternatives continue to grow stronger.

An unsustainable socioeconomic and political model, coupled with equally unsustainable military campaigns abroad along with a political and media strategy that is no longer even remotely convincing even to casual observers demarks what is an irreversible decline of America’s current, prevailing order.

America’s Elite Face Challenges from Within as Well as From Abroad

The topic of Chinese corporations out-competing long-established US monopolies has become an increasingly common topic across global media. It is indeed this process that has precipitated the seemingly pointless and futile US-led trade war against China, a futile exercise that seems to only highlight the decline of America’s established elite rather than address it.

Corporations like Huawei, despite facing serious setbacks owed to US sanctions and efforts to undermine them, still move forward, while their US competitors continue to struggle. This is because despite setbacks, Huawei is built upon a solid foundation of business and economic fundamentals, while its American counterparts, despite their initial advantages owed to a lack of competition, have neglected and continue to neglect such fundamentals.

But Chinese corporations aren’t the only challengers America’s established elite face.

Within the US itself some of the most innovative and disruptive companies in the world are cropping up, challenging not only foreign competition but also long-established monopolies based in the US.

Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla is a perfect example of this. Its breakneck pace of innovation, high-profile successes and the disruptive impact it is having on traditional car manufacturing is setting back the American car industry first and foremost. It also poses a serious threat to the petroleum-centric energy model the US has adopted and propagated globally for over a century.

American car manufacturing monopolies have spent decades developing a model of planned obsolescence and marketing gimmicks as a stand-in for genuine consumer value and innovation. The industry has become a means of simply making as much money as possible and to increase profits each year, with “making cars” merely the means through which this money and the influence it buys is being accumulated.

Tesla has for years now been growing both in terms of business and in terms of sociopolitical influence. US car manufacturing monopolies have attempted to ape the most superficial aspects of Tesla’s appeal, but have entirely failed to examine or replicate the substance that drives the new company’s success.

Just as the US elite have attempted to use what could be described as “dirty tricks” rather than direct competition to deal with competitors like Huawei abroad, similar “dirty tricks” have been employed against disruptive companies within the US itself like Tesla. Attempts by faux-unions to complicate Tesla’s US-based factories are one example of this.

US-based aerospace manufacturer SpaceX is another example of an American-bred competitor directly challenging (and threatening) long-established US monopolies, in this case aerospace monopolies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman.

SpaceX is not only driving aerospace innovation forward at breakneck speeds, it is driving down the overall cost of access to space at the same time. It is doing this at such impressive rates that established aerospace monopolies like Lockheed, Boeing and Northrop, even with their immense lobbying networks, are unable to dissuade SpaceX customers (including the US government itself) from purchasing rides on its rockets.

Bloated monopolies who have become overly reliant on maintaining profits through lobbying and political games have little means to overhaul their massive organizations in the face of real competition as it emerges. Because of this, the prevailing order driving US policy faces an insurmountable obstacle that already appears to have resulted in terminal decline and displacement.

Those doing the displacing stand to assume the position at the levers of American power and influence, with an opportunity to set an entirely new course into the future that will have a fundamental impact on both the American nation and its people, and the nations of the world it will interact with.

America’s New Order May Seek Genuine Competition and Collaboration 

Tesla and SpaceX are prominent examples, but by no means the only examples of the ongoing transition that is increasingly evident within America. There are emerging innovations and companies threatening virtually every area America’s current elite dominate. From the alternative media targeting the deeply rooted corporate media of America, to a growing movement of local organic farmers chipping away at America’s massive agricultural monopolies, there are already many tangible examples of a transition taking place; a positive transition that those interested in truly addressing the negative aspects of America’s current role globally can invest in or contribute toward.

In what is perhaps a hopeful sign of the new America that might emerge as this process continues forward is the fact that emerging disruptors like Tesla are not afraid of collaborating with other nations, seeking to simply do business rather than construct a global spanning network aimed at dominating others. Tesla’s massive Gigafactory going into operation in Shanghai, China takes place as the US attempts to sever China’s access to the economic benefits of doing business with the US for purely political and hegemonic purposes.

Despite the apparent hostilities between the US and nations like Russia and China, the consensus in nations targeted by America’s current prevailing order is one of simply wanting to do business on equal terms. Whatever hostility may exist is reserved not for America as a nation or as a people, but toward the handful of special interests obstructing constructive competition and collaboration between these nations and the US.

In the near to intermediate future, this process will continue to resemble a bitter struggle as US special interests attempt to maintain their grip on power, fighting against inevitable decline and displacement, and against competitors both abroad and within the US itself.

Beyond that, there is a hopeful future where the US finds itself a constructive member of a multipolar world, constructively competing against and collaborating with nations rather than attempting to assert itself over them.

Because of this, it is important for nations and peoples to refrain from unnecessary, broad hostilities and to instead patiently weather current efforts emanating from Wall Street and Washington. It is important to establish ties and relations with US interests genuinely interested in true competition and collaboration and who represent America’s future, and to distinguish them from deeply rooted US interests that represent America’s abusive past and and are responsible for America’s current decline.

The foreign policies of Moscow, Beijing and even of many emerging and developing nations may seem overly passive or appeasing, but around the capitals of the world many are aware of the transition taking place in America and are attempting to position themselves advantageously for the fall of the American Empire so they can do business with those who assume the levers of power in America once it does.

Gunnar Ulson, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Google blocks access to YouTube accounts of Iran’s Press TV, Hispan TV

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Google renews attacks on accounts of Iranian media outlets. (Illustrative image)

Tuesday, 10 December 2019 3:03 PM

Google has targeted Iranian broadcasters Press TV and Hispan TV once again, blocking access to their official YouTube accounts without any prior notice.

Over the past years, the US tech giant has recurrently been opting for such measures against Iranian media outlets. It has taken on Press TV more than any other Iranian outlet given the expanse of its viewership and readership.

The most recent move came on Tuesday. Users shortly flooded both the networks with messages asking why the international networks’ YouTube channels had been put out of service.

The two networks were last targeted in April, when Google similarly shut their YouTube and Gmail accounts.

The previous attack also denied the networks any advance notification, sufficing to cite a nebulous “violation of policies.”

Previously, Press TV’s YouTube channel was closed in September and November 2013 and April 2014.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting — which runs Press TV and Hispan TV as part of its World Service — has called such attacks clear examples of censorship.

‘Paying price for giving voice to the voiceless’

Reacting to Tuesday’s move, Press TV’s Website and Social Media Director Habib Abdolhossein said, “We have been adhering to Google policies, including those concerning user content and conduct policy. Even if we had violated any rules, they could have let us know.”

“Social media outlets were supposed to be a platform for the alternative views, but unfortunately they are rather politicized than socialized!” he said. “I think we are paying the price for being the voice of the voiceless.”

Following Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president in 2016, Washington ramped up its efforts to target the Islamic Republic.

The campaign even assumed the self-styled title of “maximum pressure” under the current US president. The drive has seen the US leaving a multi-party nuclear agreement with Iran last year, and returning the nuclear-related sanctions that the deal had lifted.

As part of the campaign, the US State Department has called on social media companies Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to block the accounts of Iranian government leaders, and iOS — a mobile operating system created by US company Apple Inc. — disabling Iranian applications.

What Have the US and Protesters in Lebanon Achieved over Iran and Its Allies?

Global Research, December 09, 2019
Elijah J. Magnier 8 December 2019

For several weeks now, much of the Lebanese population has turned on the country’s traditional political leaders and wrought havoc on the corrupt domestic political system. Those who have ruled the country for decades have offered little in the way of reforms, have paid little attention to the infrastructure, and done little or nothing to provide job opportunities outside the circle of their clients. The protestors were also driven into the street by the US measures strangling the Lebanese economy and preventing most of the 7-8 million expatriates from transferring financial support (around $8 billion per year) to their relatives back home. This is how the US administration has conducted its policy in the Middle East in its failed attempt to bring Iran and its allies to their knees. The US seems to believe that a state of chaos in the countries where the “Axis of the Resistance” operates may help curb Iran and push it into the US administration’s arms. The US seeks to break Iran’s back and that of its allies and impose its own conditions and hegemony on the Middle East. What has the US achieved so far?

In Lebanon, since the beginning of protests, the price of merchandise has gone sky-high. Medicines and goods are lacking from the market and the Lebanese Lira has lost more than 40% of its value to the US dollar. Many Lebanese have either lost their jobs or found themselves with a salary reduced to half. Lebanon came close to civil war when pro-US political parties closed the main roads and tried mainly to block the Shia link from the south of Lebanon to the capital, around the suburb of Beirut and from Beirut to the Bekaa Valley.

War was avoided when Hezbollah issued a directive instructing all its members and supporters to leave the streets, asking its members to stop and persuade any ally members to come off the streets and to avoid using motorcycles to harass protestors. The instructions were clear: “If anyone slaps you on the right cheekturn to him the other also.”

Hezbollah understood what the corners of Beirut are hiding: an invitation to start a war, particularly when for over a month the Lebanese army refused to open the main roads, allowing not only legitimate protestors but also thugs to rule.

The situation today has changed: the Lebanese President is using the constitution to his advantage, equally to the practice of the Prime Minister who has no deadline in forming a government. President Michel Aoun gave the Christians what they have lost after the Taif Agreement: he refused to ask a Prime Minister candidate to form a new government unless he offers a successful and harmonious cabinet membership that pleases all political parties and has strong chances of success.

Aoun was about to offer the mandate to a new candidate, Samir al-Khatib, had the caretaker the Sunni Saad Hariri – who nominated al-Khatib initially – avoided to boycott him at the last moment or did not ask the ex-prime Ministers, the religious Sunni authority and political parties who support him to nominate Hariri in person. The nomination of the Prime Minister is most likely postponed to an unknown date.

However, the protestors have not achieved much because the traditional political parties will hold onto their influence. The new government, once and if formed, will not be able to lift US sanctions to relieve the domestic economy. On the contrary, the US administration is willing to resume its sanctions on Lebanon and impose further sanctions on other personalities, as Secretary Mike Pompeo sated a couple of months ago.

Today, no Lebanese citizen is able to dispose of his own saving or company assets in banks due to restrictions on withdrawals, effective “capital controls”. Only small amounts are allowed to be delivered to account holders–around $150-300 per week in a country where cash payments prevail. No one is allowed to transfer any amount abroad unless for university fees or special demands of goods import of first necessities.

However, Hezbollah, the US-Israel main target, was not affected directly by the US sanctions and by the new financial restrictions. Militants were paid, as is the case monthly, in US dollars with an increase of 40% (due to the local currency devaluation) with the compliments of “Uncle Sam”.

Hezbollah not only has avoided civil war but also has managed to boost the position of its allies. President Aoun and the leader of the “Free Patriotic Movement” (FPM) the foreign Minister Gebran Bassil were in a confused state in the first weeks of the protests. Hezbollah leadership played a role in holding on to his allies and supporting them. Today, the situation is back under control and the President and the FPM leader are holding the initiative over their political opponents.

Hezbollah will be part of the new government with new personalities and perhaps one traditional minister. The “Axis of the Resistance” believes if “Hezbollah’s presence in the new government disturbs the US administration, then why it should comply and leave? Quite the opposite. It should stay or appoint Ministers on its behalf”.

The “Axis of the Resistance” is convinced that the exit of Hezbollah from the cabinet would trigger further US demands. It is Hezbollah’s legitimate right to be represented in the government since it holds a large coalition in the Parliament. Besides, who will stop any attempt by the US to allow Israel to annex the disputed Lebanese water borders? Who will campaign for the return of Syrian refugees back home? What about the US request to deploy UN forces on the borders with Syria?

Hezbollah enjoys large amount of popular support and this from a society that is behind it and that suffers as much as everybody else from the country of the corrupted Lebanese system. Notwithstanding its poverty, the society of Hezbollah stands with the “Axis of the Resistance” against the US sanctions and attempts to corner it.

The US administration failed to achieve its objectives, even when riding the wave of protestors’ legitimate demands. It has also failed to drag Hezbollah to street fighting. It is about to fail to exclude Hezbollah and its allies, determine to be part of the new government regardless of the names of individual ministers. The US failed to corner Hezbollah – as was possible with Hamas – because Lebanon is open to Syria and from it to Iraq and Iran. Lebanon has also the seafront on the Mediterranean open to the outside world to import much needed goods. However, the “Axis of the Resistance” has asked its friends and supporters to cultivate the land in order to soften the increase of prices of food.

The “Axis of the Resistance’ also has lines open to Russia and China. Hezbollah continues trying to convince political parties to diversify the resources and cease depending on the US and Europe only. Russia is proving itself on the political international arena – even if still not enjoying influence in Lebanon – and is able to stand firm against US hegemony. Europe is also happy to see Hezbollah and its allies in power, afraid of seeing millions of Syrian and Lebanese refugees flocking to the old continent. China is willing to open a bank in Lebanon, collect and recycle the bins, offer drinkable water and construct electricity generators. The total of what China is ready to invest in Lebanon is close to $12.5 billion, much more than the $11 billion offered by CEDRE that is linked to the privatisation of Lebanese infrastructure.

Doors in Lebanon are open for an alternative to the US. Therefore, the more Washington is willing to corner the Lebanese government and its inhabitants, the more certainly they move towards Russia and China.

The Lebanese have lost much since the protests began. The US has gained a society ready to keep at a distance whihc is further from its hegemony and its allies have failed to trap Hezbollah. However, protestors did manage to sound an alarm and warn politicians that their corruption can’t continue forever and that they may someday be brought to justice. Once again, the agents of chaos have failed and the “Axis of the Resistance” has the upper hand in Lebanon.


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Syria Slams US Meddling in the Syrian Constitution Committee Talks

Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Damascus

Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Damascus

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs slammed the regime of Donald Trump for its attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries after the US State Department issued a statement to interfere in the works of the Syrian Constitution Committees deliberations in Geneva.

A spokesperson for the ministry said to the Syrian official news agency SANA ‘the dialogue is a Syrian-Syrian one and no one has the right to interfere in it or support any party under any pretext.’

The spokesperson outlined that the role of the United Nations represented by its special envoy Geir Pederson is limited to facilitating the committees’ discussions only and does not interfere in the contents.

Earlier, the US State Department issued a statement accusing the Syrian delegation to the Geneva talks to discuss amendments to the Syrian constitution of impeding the talks by placing obstacles.

US state department statement interfering in Syrian constitution discussion committee
Trump Regime’s State Dept statement:

The Syrian delegation asked the Turkish delegation to set the principles on Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity before discussing less important details in the constitution, the delegation sent by the Turkish regime of the madman Erdogan rejected to set such a principle. Erdogan Regime Delegation threw a tantrum, refused to even enter the meeting hall, and issued its rejection via media, violating the agreed-upon Code of Conduct, similar to Erdogan-the-Guarantor consistent breach of the de-escalation zones in Syria.

Observers following the talks referred their rejections to the conflict of interest it would cause with their sponsor carrying out an illegal incursion of northern Syria.

Syrian constitution discussion committee meeting - Geneva

The condemnation by the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was expected, firstly, it’s a blatant attempt by the US to achieve in politics and diplomatic pressure what it failed by sponsoring terrorist groups in Syria and by direct invasion, secondly, it’s the same US regime that its officials have been crying non-stop for the past 3 years over alleged Russian interference in their own ‘democratical’ system claiming that some accounts from Russia bought Facebook ads worth of around US$ 3000(!) which placed Donald Trump as the president of the USA!

It’s the same regime that spent hundreds of billions of dollars directly and through its regional slaves to topple yet another legitimate government in the region and this time in Syria, and replace the elected officials with planted puppets.

The author of this post is trying to feel sorry for the US citizens and taxpayers whose government is dealing with double-face around the world, but to be honest, I’m failing to feel sorry. It’s been endless times their government interfered in every other country around the world and they spent hundreds of millions of dollars of their hard-earned tax money on investigations of alleged Russian interference worth of 3000 dollars. No one can be that simple, that dumb, and that naive for that long period of time and for those countless times their government on behalf of them and using their resources have committed such crimes and violations of international law abroad, it’s like the US citizens themselves support these heinous acts.


“If You Liked What We Did To The Middle East, You’ll LOVE What We’re About To Do To Latin America”

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

Latin America in the Crosshairs

Latin America has been regarded as the exclusive stomping ground of US economic interests, US military, and US intelligence services for much of the 19th and 20th centuries, to the point that the US public has grown to view meddling in its neighbors’ domestic politics as some sort of birthright which is still faintly rooted in the 19th century “white man’s burden” racialist policies. That the majority of Democratic Party presidential candidates supports the military coup in Bolivia, the escalating repressions in Chile, and the plundering of Brazil by the Bolsonaro regime is actually unremarkable in that regard. Such policies have long been the norm.

However, if one were to take a quick survey of recent developments in the “information battlefield” in the United States, one would be struck by the rapid elevation of Latin America as a place where direct US military action is needed. It is not just Trump who, in the aftermath of an apparently cartel-related murder of an American Mormon family in Mexico, “offered” Mexico the “help” of the US military in fighting the cartels. The latest boy-wonder of the US Establishment, “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg likewise allowed he is “open” to the idea of sending US troops to Mexico. Neither of these statements was seen as in any way controversial by the mainstream media—even though the US public is broadly anti-war and skeptical of additional international entanglements, the Washington Establishment views the sovereignty of other countries as nothing more than legal fiction.

These politicians’ statements do not stand in isolation. Hollywood has long been “joined at the hip” with the US national security establishment and can be always relied upon to propagate the latest set of Washington talking points. While Russian villains remain the staple of US movies and video games, Latin America is gradually reclaiming its role as a battlefield and source of threats to the United States which it lost after 9/11. There are now at least two currently running US TV series which specifically focus on direct US interventions in Latin America. America’s favorite CIA analyst Jack Ryan (who, it should be noted, became President on the pages of Tom Clancy’s novels after the rest of the US government was conveniently eliminated by a Boeing 747 flown into the Capitol  by a suicide pilot) is now bravely thwarting Russian plots in Venezuela. Going considerably further, Last Ship’s current season actually posits the emergence of Gran Colombia, a veritable Latin American empire which launches a Pearl Harbor-style surprise air raid which destroys the just-rebuilt US Navy with the assistance of a cyber-strike. In retaliation, United States employs the full range of its conventional capabilities, starting with CIA covert operatives working with some modern equivalent of the Nicaraguan Contras whose connections to the drug cartels are not even concealed, and ending with US Marines landing on the shores of Latin American countries in order to “liberate” them from their own governments.

There are other indications US establishment is bracing for a major deterioration of the political situation “south of the border”, up to and including a major refugee crisis comparable to what Europe has experienced. While Donald Trump has been roundly condemned for his immigration policies, particularly the deportations of Latin American refugees, the construction of a major barrier on the US-Mexico border, and the efforts to transform Mexico into a holding tank for refugees seeking admission into the United States, no senior Democratic Party politician or candidate has promised to reverse these policies.

From the Shores of Tripoli to the Halls of Montezuma?

The rekindling of interest in Latin America is a logical consequences of the drift toward a global multi-polar system. It means, first, a retrenchment in the Middle East due to the demonstrated power of Russia and China which has proved sufficient to thwart not only covert US plots but also overt uses of economic and military capabilities. This power transition has meant that even long-standing US allies such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia are adopting a multi-vector foreign policy no longer wholly centered on their relationship with the United States. It certainly does not help that the United States has proved of limited utility in resolving the many international conflicts and rivalries in that region, not only the obvious Iran-Saudi Arabia one, but also the lower-intensity Saudi Arabia—Turkey one. Since Russia is literally the only international power capable to credibly negotiate with each of these three regional rivals, its reputation as an honest broker backed up by non-trivial “hard power” has elevated its standing in the region to the detriment of the United States.

The second implication is an even closer binding of Latin American states to the United States, with the remarkably compliant Organization of American States (OAS) which has never seen a military coup it did not like, serving as the overt instrument of control. Conversely, regional organizations which have proven resistant to US control such as Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America-Trade between Peoples (ALBA-TCP) and  the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), both of which actually condemned the coup in Bolivia in strong terms, will find themselves the target of US pressure. Post-coup Bolivia’s announced departure from both of these organizations is unlikely to be an aberration, particularly since it follows on the heels of Lenin Moreno’s Ecuador’s departure from ALBA in 2018. The remaining ALBA states include Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela (in addition to several small island states), all of which are continuing targets of US regime change policies.

UNASUR also appears headed for extinction. As many as six countries, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru, suspended their membership in 2018. Chile moreover launched PROSUR, an organization explicitly intended to target Venezuela, with the initial states invited to join the new organization being  Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Guyana and Suriname, none of which can be described as pursuing policies contrary to US wishes.

Good-bye NAFTA, Hello USMC!

Trump Administration’s regional trade war that resulted in the launch of the US, Mexico, Canada (hence the “USMC” abbreviation) intended to replace the North America Free Trade Association (NAFTA) is indicative of the future US policy course. It’s doubtful few in the region failed to note the new trade pact’s abbreviation is exactly the same as that of the US Marine Corps which has a long and dark history of invasions and occupations of Latin American states. Consistent with the plot of “Last Ship”, USMC will find itself once again the final arbiter of trade arrangements in Latin America in the #MAGA era that will not end with Trump.

Economic developments in countries that have suffered right-wing regime shifts in the last few years show the direction in which Latin America will evolve. In Brazil, Boeing was allowed to acquire the commercial aircraft division of EMBRAER which hitherto was able to compete, as an independent actor, against both Boeing and Airbus even in their own home markets. The more strengthens Boeing by making it more competitive against Airbus in certain niches it lacked, and strips Brazil of a major industrial asset. Bolsonaro also aims to privatize another of Brazil’s economic “crown jewels”, the Petrobras energy firm which is all but guaranteed to fall into the hands of Washington-favored energy firms.  US interest in the lithium reserves in Bolivia and neighboring countries has also been well documented. Preventing Morales’ Bolivia from entering into a development deal with China was one of the main motives behind the coup. Like Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Moreno’s Ecuador is pursuing plans to allow oil drilling in the Amazon region.

 The Ghost of Che

The famed Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara suffered a heroic death in Bolivia, attempting to mobilize an indigenous rebellion against the post-conquistador elite. The inevitable backlash to the ever more evident US efforts to ruthlessly exploit Latin America in order to compensate for the loss of influence and business elsewhere in the world means that the United States will find itself with several insurgencies and refugee crises not halfway around the world but in its own geopolitical backyard, whose intensity will eclipse the Cold War-era struggles.  Should United States insist on pursuing its current course, it risks losing power and influence in Latin America in the same way as it did in the Middle East.

Our Threshing Floors Are A Resistance

Our Threshing Floors Are A Resistance

By Samer al-Hajj Ali

Beirut – The martyrdom of Hussein Shalhoub and Sanaa al-Jundi might be just another terminal on the road to bringing down an entire society to its knees. It could be a “mercy shot” against a shrewd project aimed at destroying Lebanon and eliminating its pluralism and civil peace. But the project, which is designed to subjugate Lebanon and force it into taking deals, will not succeed. It will follow in the footsteps of the starvation projects undertaken by the US against the resistance community and implemented by Washington’s proxies in Lebanon and abroad.

From the chaos of stupidity and the mobs, the resistance community emerges. It is as if it has learned lessons after a weeks-long silence during which it watched and analyzed developments in Lebanon and the region. These regional developments and those unfolding in the streets of Beirut and across Lebanon cannot be separated. This is especially true when it comes to the lines of isolation, which are referred to as points of banditry by those taking advantage of the revolution. For those who lived under the “Israeli” occupation, these roadblocks brought back memories of the former security belt crossings, in particular the Beit Yahoun and Hamra ones. They also provoked those who are racing to find solutions to developments in this open battle, which has taken the economic sanctions as its banner.

“The American conspiracy has been exposed,” social activist Hussein Abbas tells al-Ahed news website. “They want to hit the environment of the resistance in Lebanon by relying on the policies of oppression and starvation after they failed to eliminate it during the decades-long wars and military operations. Today, they are rushing to impose an economic blockade on us, to starve us without paying attention to the fact that we are the followers of an Imam who died hungry and thirsty and did not surrender. His banner still flies.

‘I am the resistance, I am the farmer’

Hussein’s position was articulated through his collaboration with a group of young people in Tyre, which led to the launch of an initiative called ‘I am the Resistance, I am the Farmer’. It urges people to return to cultivating their land that they left behind due to the economic policies prevailing in Lebanon starting in the 1990s. The campaign does more than advocate. It also organizes awareness seminars and educational meetings to re-train people on the correct methods of agriculture and varieties of agriculture that can be used during these circumstances.

Abbas points out that the campaign’s follow-up committee produced many brochures, raising awareness about winter cultivars and their suitability with different soil types in the region.

While the campaign focuses on advocating the cultivation of leaf vegetables and vegetables people consume on a daily basis, Abbas puts the campaign’s capabilities at the disposal of anyone wishing to plow lands and orchards and equip them for agriculture. Volunteer agricultural engineers can provide guidance and follow-up.

While the campaign ‘I am the resistance, I am the farmer’ was launched along the coastal area of southern Lebanon, other campaigns launched by southern municipalities were paving their way to the fields, especially the threshing floors of the town of Ainata in the district of Bint Jbeil. The town’s municipality became the headquarters of a group of farmers and specialists in agriculture and the economy who prepared for a long battle against all forms of siege.

Our Threshing Floors Are A Resistance

‘Our Threshing Floors Are A Resistance’ [Bayaderona Moqawema], is a project born out of an idea the municipality of Ainata got from the local community. It is meant to facilitate a return to the roots and the cultivation of lands that were occupied by the “Israeli” enemy and are still under a masked occupation in the form of cluster bombs, desertification and neglect. The head of the Ainata Municipality, Dr. Riad Fadlallah, points out to al-Ahed that the initiative comes at a time of stressful economic conditions marred by fears of staple food shortages.

“This has forced us to seek other sources to secure these staples and to assure our people that we stand by them,” Fadlallah explains.

“The residents suggested planting a variety of grains, mainly wheat, as the main staple of flour. But the municipal council failed to convene, so a decision was made to adopt the idea but with no financial profit,” Fadlallah tells al-Ahed. “Thus, we launched an appeal asking residents to lend their land free of charge for the project. There was a high turnout. This provided us with an incentive to complete the remainder of the main steps, including designating the land that can be used for planting and divided according to the types of agriculture required pending the start of planting season with the first rains.”

“We want to fight desertification, the high cost of living and the possibility of grain shortages,” Fadlallah adds.

“We will turn the threat into opportunity. And we will go back to our roots represented by agriculture with the help of our people, for those who have been accustomed to giving blood will surely give you land to cultivate, let alone material support. This is an incentive to move forward with this project.”

Sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture

Amid the threats and opportunities, Ainata has the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, which is supposed to be the “mother of the boy” in every sense when it comes to agriculture in Lebanon. Hussein al-Saqqa, director of the Agriculture Department in the Nabatieh governorate, believes the town to be a pioneer, since people used to grow on its plantations and eat from its animal products, such as chickens. Today our villages are full of land that is not being utilized. It sits empty all the time. If each person took care of his land and cultivated it, he will be able to secure his annual provisions and save from the household income.

Al-Saqqa calls on people to return to the land for food security. But he also points out that the ministry stands by the experience and the farmers in Lebanon as it has always done through the projects it launched, the projects it took part in with donors or the projects submitted to it by the municipalities.

Ainata’s initiative was soon adopted by surrounding villages and towns, which are fully aware of how to resist and overcome difficult circumstances. Some municipalities have been working for years on a comprehensive development plan with agriculture as a central tool.

The Federation of Jabal Aamel Municipalities is one of those. It did not hesitate in the past to support this sector. It did so through summer agricultural projects, which distribute seedlings free of charge to farmers and other people. It also did it through the launch of projects of thyme and aromatic plants, laying hens and bees, reviving the cultivation of figs and cactus and taking care of olive groves, tobacco and others in various towns and villages.

Ali Taher Yassin, the president of the federation reveals that the union today is introducing to its annual program the cultivation of different types of grains, including wheat. Both types of wheat are being introduced – the kind used for provisions like Burghul and Freek, and the kind used for flour.

“The agricultural department in the federation is preparing a detailed study that will be completed in the coming days to launch the process of planting grain and wheat in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture and securing seeds that will contribute to increasing production and achieving economic feasibility,” Yassin said hoping for help from the people and farmers by raising interest in this topic.

Yassin points out that the federation and its municipalities have been able to increase local agricultural production by over 40% in the last ten years. It does not only provide provisions that the people need, but it also maintains health and food security through the consumption of controlled and disease-free organic product.

Yassin concludes by pointing out that while some supporting bodies and organizations stopped their aid to the municipalities, we declare our readiness to provide everything necessary in this regard. Let the whole world see that this nation which triumphed through its resistance with the least available means, will reaffirm its capability to achieve self-sufficiency, again with the least available means.

While the state of readiness is raised before we enter the rainy season, and before the phase of sowing the land with grain begins, the agricultural services center in the town of At Tiri – affiliated to the Federation of Bint Jbeil – continued to distribute wheat seeds for making flour to farmers in various municipalities. By next summer, they will be flour-producing municipalities and seeking self-sufficiency. This will save resistance communities from waiting in queues at bakeries in search for breadcrumbs that the US and its puppets in and outside of Lebanon are trying to take away from those who gave glory to the Cedar country with their blood and did not kneel.

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US ‘Regime Changes’: The Historical Record

Global Research, November 29, 2019

First published on February 5, 2019

As the US strives to overthrow the democratic and independent Venezuelan government, the historical record regarding the short, middle and long-term consequences are mixed.

We will proceed to examine the consequences and impact of US intervention in Venezuela over the past half century.

We will then turn to examine the success and failure of US ‘regime changes’ throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Venezuela: Results and Perspectives 1950-2019

During the post WWII decade, the US, working through the CIA and the Pentagon, brought to power authoritarian client regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, Peru, Chile, Guatemala, Brazil and several other countries.

In the case of Venezuela, the US backed a near decade long military dictatorship (Perez Jimenez ) roughly between 1951-58. The dictatorship was overthrown in 1958 and replaced by a left-center coalition during a brief interim period. Subsequently, the US reshuffled its policy, and embraced and promoted center-right regimes led by social and christian democrats which alternated rule for nearly forty years.

In the 1990’s US client regimes riddled with corruption and facing a deepening socio-economic crises were voted out of power and replaced by the independent, anti-imperialist government led by President Chavez.

Image on the right: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 2005 (Source: Public Domain)

The free and democratic election of President Chavez withstood and defeated several US led ‘regime changes’ over the following two decades.

Following the election of President Maduro, under US direction,Washington mounted the political machinery for a new regime change. Washington launched, in full throttle, a coup by the winter of 2019.

The record of US intervention in Venezuela is mixed: a middle term military coup lasted less than a decade; US directed electoral regimes were in power for forty years; its replacement by an elected anti-imperialist populist government has been in power for nearly 20 years. A virulent US directed coup is underfoot today.

The Venezuela experience with ‘regime change’ speaks to US capacity to consummate long-term control if it can reshuffle its power base from a military dictatorship into an electoral regime, financed through the pillage of oil, backed by a reliable military and ‘legitimated’ by alternating client political parties which accept submission to Washington.

US client regimes are ruled by oligarchic elites, with little entrepreneurial capacity, living off of state rents (oil revenues).

Tied closely to the US, the ruling elites are unable to secure popular loyalty. Client regimes depend on the military strength of the Pentagon — but that is also their weakness.

Regime Change in Regional-Historical Perspective

Puppet-building is an essential strategic goal of the US imperial state.

The results vary over time depending on the capacity of independent governments to succeed in nation-building.

US long-term puppet-building has been most successful in small nations with vulnerable economies.

Image below: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the advocate of the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état that installed the right-wing dictatorship (Source: Public Domain)

The US directed coup in Guatemala has lasted over sixty-years – from 1954 -2019. Major popular indigenous insurgencies have been repressed via US military advisers and aid.

Similar successful US puppet-building has occurred in Panama, Grenada, Dominican Republic and Haiti. Being small and poor and having weak military forces, the US is willing to directly invade and occupy the countries quickly and at small cost in military lives and economic costs.

In the above countries Washington succeeded in imposing and maintaining puppet regimes for prolonged periods of time.

The US has directed military coups over the past half century with contradictory results.

In the case of Honduras, the Pentagon was able to overturn a progressive liberal democratic government of very short duration. The Honduran army was under US direction, and elected President Manual Zelaya depended on an unarmed electoral popular majority.Following the successful coup the Honduran puppet-regime remained under US rule for the next decade and likely beyond.

Chile has been under US tutelage for the better part of the 20th century with a brief respite during a Popular Front government between 1937-41 and a democratc socialist government between 1970-73. The US military directed coup in 1973 imposed the Pinochet dictatorship which lasted for seventeen years. It was followed by an electoral regime which continued the Pinochet-US neo-liberal agenda, including the reversal of all the popular national and social reforms. In a word, Chile remained within the US political orbit for the better part of a half-century.

Chile’s democratic-socialist regime (1970-73) never armed its people nor established overseas economic linkage to sustain an independent foreign policy.

It is not surprising that in recent times Chile followed US commands calling for the overthrow of Venezuela’s President Maduro.

Contradictory Puppet-Building

Several US coups were reversed, for the longer or shorter duration.

The classical case of a successful defeat of a client regime is Cuba which overthrew a ten-year old US client, the Batista dictatorship, and proceeded to successfully resist a CIA directed invasion and economic blockade for the better part of a half century (up to the present day).

Cuba’s defeat of puppet restorationist policy was a result of the Castro leadership’s decision to arm the people, expropriate and take control of hostile US and multinational corporations and establish strategic overseas allies – USSR , China and more recently Venezuela.

In contrast, a US military backed military coup in Brazil (1964) endured for over two decades, before electoral politics were partially restored under elite leadership.

Twenty years of failed neo-liberal economic policies led to the election of the social reformist Workers Party (WP) which proceeded to implement extensive anti-poverty programs within the context of neo-liberal policies.

After a decade and a half of social reforms and a relatively independent foreign policy, the WP succumbed to a downturn of the commodity dependent economy and a hostile state (namely judiciary and military) and was replaced by a pair of far-right US client regimes which functioned under Wall Street and Pentagon direction.

The US frequently intervened in Bolivia, backing military coups and client regimes against short-term national populist regimes (1954, 1970 and 2001).

Morales 20060113 02.jpg

In 2005 a popular uprising led to free elections and the election of Evo Morales, the leader of the coca farmers movements. Between 2005 – 2019 (the present period) President Morales led a moderate left-of-center anti imperialist government.

Unsuccessful efforts by the US to overthrow the Morales government were a result of several factors: Morales organized and mobilized a coalition of peasants and workers (especially miners and coca farmers). He secured the loyalty of the military, expelled US Trojan Horse “aid agencies’ and extended control over oil and gas and promoted ties with agro business.

The combination of an independent foreign policy, a mixed economy , high growth and moderate reforms neutralized US puppet-building.

Not so the case in Argentina. Following a bloody coup (1976) in which the US backed military murdered 30,000 citizens, the military was defeated by the British army in the Malvinas war and withdrew after seven years in power.

The post military puppet regime ruled and plundered for a decade before collapsing in 2001. They were overthrown by a popular insurrection. However, the radical left lacking cohesion was replaced by center-left (Kirchner-Fernandez) regimes which ruled for the better part of a decade (2003 – 15).

The progressive social welfare – neo-liberal regimes entered in crises and were ousted by a US backed puppet regime (Macri) in 2015 which proceeded to reverse reforms, privatize the economy and subordinate the state to US bankers and speculators.

After two years in power, the puppet regime faltered, the economy spiraled downward and another cycle of repression and mass protest emerged. The US puppet regime’s rule is tenuous, the populace fills the streets, while the Pentagon sharpens its knives and prepares puppets to replace their current client regime.


The US has not succeeded in consolidating regime changes among the large countries with mass organizations and military supporters.

Washington has succeeded in overthrowing popular – national regimes in Brazil, and Argentina. However, over time puppet regimes have been reversed.

While the US resorts to largely a single ‘track’ (military coups and invasions) in overwhelming smaller and more vulnerable popular governments, it relies on ‘multiple tracks’ strategy with regard to large and more formidable countries.

In the former cases, usually a call to the military or the dispatch of the marines is enough to snuff an electoral democracy.

In the latter case, the US relies on a multi-proxy strategy which includes a mass media blitz, labeling democrats as dictatorships, extremists, corrupt, security threats, etc.

As the tension mounts, regional client and European states are organized to back the local puppets.

Phony “Presidents” are crowned by the US President whose index finger counters the vote of millions of voters. Street demonstrations and violence paid and organized by the CIA destabilize the economy; business elites boycott and paralyze production and distribution… Millions are spent in bribing judges and military officials.

If the regime change can be accomplished by local military satraps, the US refrains from direct military intervention.

Regime changes among larger and wealthier countries have between one or two decades duration. However, the switch to an electoral puppet regime may consolidate imperial power over a longer period – as was the case of Chile.

Where there is powerful popular support for a democratic regime, the US will provide the ideological and military support for a large-scale massacre, as was the case in Argentina.

The coming showdown in Venezuela will be a case of a bloody regime change as the US will have to murder hundreds of thousands to destroy the millions who have life-long and deep commitments to their social gains , their loyalty to the nation and their dignity.

In contrast the bourgeoisie, and their followers among political traitors, will seek revenge and resort to the vilest forms of violence in order to strip the poor of their social advances and their memories of freedom and dignity.

It is no wonder that the Venezuela masses are girding for a prolonged and decisive struggle: everything can be won or lost in this final confrontation with the Empire and its puppets.


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Award winning author Prof. James Petras is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

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Who laughs finally laughs a lot من يضحك أخيرا يضحك كثيرا

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Iran’s ‘only crime is we decided not to fold’

Foreign Minister Zarif sketches Iran-US relations for diplomats, former presidents and analysts

Global Research, November 26, 2019

Just in time to shine a light on what’s behind the latest sanctions from Washington, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a speech at the annual Astana Club meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan delivered a searing account of Iran-US relations to a select audience of high-ranking diplomats, former Presidents and analysts.

Zarif was the main speaker in a panel titled “The New Concept of Nuclear Disarmament.” Keeping to a frantic schedule, he rushed in and out of the round table to squeeze in a private conversation with Kazakh First President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

During the panel, moderator Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute, managed to keep a Pentagon analyst’s questioning of Zafir from turning into a shouting match.

Previously, I had extensively discussed with Syed Rasoul Mousavi, minister for West Asia at the Iran Foreign Ministry, myriad details on Iran’s stance everywhere from the Persian Gulf to Afghanistan. I was at the James Bond-ish round table of the Astana Club, as I moderated two other panels, one on multipolar Eurasia and the post-INF environment and another on Central Asia (the subject of further columns).

Zarif’s intervention was extremely forceful. He stressed how Iran “complied with every agreement and it got nothing;” how “our people believe we have not gained from being part of” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; how inflation is out of control; how the value of the rial dropped 70% “because of ‘coercive measures’ – not sanctions because they are illegal.”

He spoke without notes, exhibiting absolute mastery of the inextricable swamp that is US-Iran relations. It turned out, in the end, to be a bombshell. Here are highlights.

Zarif’s story began back during 1968 negotiations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,  with the stance of the “Non-Aligned Movement to accept its provisions only if at a later date” – which happened to be 2020 – “there would be nuclear disarmament.” Out of 180 non-aligned countries, “90 countries co-sponsored the indefinite extension of the NPT.”

Moving to the state of play now, he mentioned how the United States and France are “relying on nuclear weapons as a means of deterrence, which is disastrous for the entire world.” Iran on the other hand “is a country that believes nuclear weapons should never be owned by any country,” due to “strategic calculations based on our religious beliefs.”

Zarif stressed how “from 2003 to 2012 Iran was under the most severe UN sanctions that have ever be imposed on any country that did not have nuclear weapons. The sanctions that were imposed on Iran from 2009 to 2012 were greater than the sanctions that were imposed on North Korea, which had nuclear weapons.”

Discussing the negotiations for the JCPOA that started in 2012, Zarif noted that Iran had started from the premise that “we should be able to develop as much nuclear energy as we wanted” while the US had started under the premise that Iran should never have any centrifuges.” That was the “zero-enrichment” option.

Zarif, in public, always comes back to the point that “in every zero-sum game everybody loses.” He admits the JCPOA is “a difficult agreement. It’s not a perfect agreement. It has elements I don’t like and it has elements the United Stares does not like.” In the end, “we reached the semblance of a balance.”

Zarif offered a quite enlightening parallel between the NPT and the JCPOA:

“The NPT was based on three pillars: non-proliferation, disarmament and access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Basically the disarmament part of NPT is all but dead, non-proliferation is barely surviving and peaceful use of nuclear energy is under serious threat,” he observed.


“JCPOA was based on two pillars: economic normalization of Iran, which is reflected in Security Council resolution 2231, and – at the same time – Iran observing certain limits on nuclear development.”

Crucially, Zarif stressed there is nothing “sunset” about these limits, as Washington argues: “We will be committed to not producing nuclear weapons forever.”

All about distrust

Then came Trump’s fateful May 2018 decision:

“When President Trump decided to withdraw from the JCPOA, we triggered the dispute resolution mechanism.”

Referring to a common narrative that describes him and John Kerry as obsessed with sacrificing everything to get a deal, Zarif said:

“We negotiated this deal based on distrust. That’s why you have a mechanism for disputes.”

Still, “the commitments of the EU and the commitments of the United States are independent. Unfortunately the EU believed they could procrastinate. Now we are at a situation where Iran is receiving no benefit, nobody is implementing their part of the bargain, only Russia and China are fulfilling partially their commitments, because the United States even prevents them from fully fulfilling their commitments. France proposed last year to provide $15 billion to Iran for the oil we could sell from August to December. The United States prevented the European Union even from addressing this.”

The bottom line, then, is that “other members of the JCPOA are in fact not implementing their commitments.” The solution “is very easy. Go back to the non-zero sum. Go back to implementing your commitments. Iran agreed that it would negotiate from Day One.”

Zarif made the prediction that

“if the Europeans still believe that they can take us to the Security Council and snap back resolutions they’re dead wrong. Because that is a remedy if there was a violation of the JCPOA. There was no violation of the JCPOA. We took these actions in response to European and American non-compliance. This is one of the few diplomatic achievements of the last many decades. We simply need to make sure that the two pillars exist: that there is a semblance of balance.”

This led him to a possible ray of light among so much doom and gloom:

“If what was promised to Iran in terms of economic normalization is delivered, even partially, we are prepared to show good faith and come back to the implementation of the JCPOA. If it’s not, then unfortunately we will continue this path, which is a path of zero-sum, a path leading to a loss for everybody, but a path that we have no other choice but to follow.”

Time for HOPE

Zarif identifies three major problems in our current geopolitical madness: a “zero-sum mentality on international relations that doesn’t work anymore;” winning by excluding others (“We need to establish dialogue, we need to establish cooperation”); and “the belief that the more arms we purchase, the more security we can bring to our people.”

He was adamant that there’s a possibility of implementing “a new paradigm of cooperation in our region,” referring to Nazarbayev’s efforts: a real Eurasian model of security. But that, Zarif explained, “requires a neighborhood policy. We need to look at our neighbors as our friends, as our partners, as people without whom we cannot have security. We cannot have security in Iran if Afghanistan is in turmoil. We cannot have security in Iran if Iraq is in turmoil. We cannot have security in Iran if Syria is in turmoil. You cannot have security in Kazakhstan if the Persian Gulf region is in turmoil.”

He noted that, based on just such thinking, “resident Rouhani this year, in the UN General Assembly, offered a new approach to security in the Persian Gulf region, called HOPE, which is the acronym for Hormuz Peace Initiative – or Hormuz Peace Endeavor so we can have the HOPE abbreviation.”

HOPE, explained Zarif, “is based on international law, respect of territorial integrity; based on accepting a series of principles and a series of confidence building measures; and we can build on it as you [addressing Nazarbayev] built on it in Eurasia and Central Asia. We are proud to be a part of the Eurasia Economic Union, we are neighbors in the Caspian, we have concluded last year, with your leadership, the legal convention of the Caspian Sea, these are important development that happened on the northern part of Iran. We need to repeat them in the southern part of Iran, with the same mentality that we can’t exclude our neighbors. We are either doomed or privileged to live together for the rest of our lives. We are bound by geography. We are bound by tradition, culture, religion and history.” To succeed, “we need to change our mindset.”

Age of hegemony gone

It all comes down to the main reason US foreign policy just can’t get enough of Iran demonization. Zarif has no doubts:

“There is still an arms embargo against Iran on the way. But we are capable of shooting down a US drone spying in our territory. We are trying simply to be independent. We never said we will annihilate Israel. Somebody said Israel will be annihilated. We never said we will do it.”

It was, Zarif said, Benjamin Netanyahu who took ownership of that threat, saying,

“I was the only one against the JCPOA.” Netanyahu “managed to destroy the JCPOA. What is the problem? The problem is we decided not to fold. That is our only crime. We had a revolution against a government that was supported by the United States, imposed on our country by the United States, [that] tortured our people with the help of the United States, and never received a single human rights condemnation, and now people are worried why they say ‘Death to America’? We say death to these policies, because they have brought nothing but this farce. What did they bring to us? If somebody came to the United States, removed your president, imposed a dictator who killed your people, wouldn’t you say death to that country?”

Zarif inevitably had to evoke Mike Pompeo:

“Today the Secretary of State of the United States says publicly: ‘If Iran wants to eat, it has to obey the United States.’ This is a war crime. Starvation is a crime against humanity. It’s a newspeak headline. If Iran wants its people to eat, it has to follow what he said. He says, ‘Death to the entire Iranian people.’”

By then the atmosphere across the huge round table was electric. One could hear a pin drop – or, rather, the mini sonic booms coming from high up in the shallow dome via the system devised by star architect Norman Foster, heating the high-performance glass to melt the snow.

Zarif went all in:

“What did we do the United States? What did we do to Israel? Did we make their people starve? Who is making our people starve? Just tell me. Who is violating the nuclear agreement? Because they did not like Obama? Is that a reason to destroy the world, just because you don’t like a president?”

Iran’s only crime, he said, “is that we decided to be our own boss. And that crime – we are proud of it. And we will continue to be. Because we have seven millennia of civilization. We had an empire that ruled the world, and the life of that empire was probably seven times the entire life of the United States. So – with all due respect to the United States empire; I owe my education to the United States – we don’t believe that the United States is an empire that will last. The age of empires is long gone. The age of hegemony is long gone. We now have to live in a world without hegemony. – regional hegemony or global hegemony.”


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This article was originally published on Asia Times.

Pepe Escobar is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, at the annual Astana Club meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan last week. Photo: Asia Times / Pepe Escobar

اتصالات روسية فرنسية مشجعة: لا مصلحة دولية في انهيار لبنان.. و إن انهار!

  • اتصالات روسية فرنسية مشجعة: لا مصلحة دولية في انهيار لبنان.. و إن انهار!

 من المؤكد أن ما يشهده العراق ولبنان، على الرغم من أحقية الحراك المطلبي، قد دخل مرحلة التسييس المعلن مع الأحداث العابرة التي شهدتها شوارع إيران، والتي سرعان ما نجح المسؤولون الإيرانيون في احتوائها، في مؤشر على معرفة مسبقة بالسياق العام لخيارات المحور المقابل في هذه المرحلة في المنطقة.

مرّ خبر ارتفاع سعر السندات اللبنانية بالدولار في الساعات القليلة الأخيرة مرور الكرام.

ربط بعض الاقتصاديين الموضوع بتصريح الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب باستعداد الولايات المتحدة للعمل مع حكومة لبنانية جديدة. يُدرك الضالعون في السياسة الدولية و صُنّاع القرار أن ارتفاع قيمة السندات في توقيت كهذا لا يتم من دون موافقة دولية، وأنه إشارة محددة إلى جهات داخلية في لبنان.

في الواقع، شهدت الأيام القليلة الماضية، حراكًا دوليًا جادًا على خط الأزمة اللبنانية، بل قُل “المسألة اللبنانية”، ذلك أنّ النقاش بات في مستقبل التركيبة اللبنانية لا في أزمتها الراهنة فقط.

بعد مرور أكثر من 38 يومًا على الحراك الشعبي، يفرض العامل الاقتصادي نفسه على حسابات جميع الأطراف المعنية محليًا ودوليًا. الجولة الميدانية بين المناطق اللبنانية تُبرز مشهدية ستكون شديدة التأثير في الأيام المقبلة في حال استمرار الإخفاق السياسي في اجتراع الحلول، ففي حين تظهر بوضوح تبعات الأزمة الاقتصادية شمالا وفي الوسط، فإن ضاحية بيروت الجنوبية وجنوب لبنان يشهدان استقرارًا ملحوظًا سببه قيام الجهة السياسية النافذة في هاتين المنطقتين؛ أي حزب الله، بإتخاذ خطوات غير ملحوظة لضمان سير الحياة بشكل شبه طبيعي.

من المؤكد أن ما يشهده العراق ولبنان، على الرغم من أحقية الحراك المطلبي، قد دخل مرحلة التسييس المعلن مع الأحداث العابرة التي شهدتها شوارع إيران، والتي سرعان ما نجح المسؤولون الإيرانيون في احتوائها، في مؤشر على معرفة مسبقة بالسياق العام لخيارات المحور المقابل في هذه المرحلة في المنطقة.

لكن ما يهمنا من المشهد اللبناني الشديد التعقيد هي مؤشرات ومعطيات ترسم معالم مسار الأحداث على المدى البعيد.

كان لافتًا عودة معظم القنوات الإعلامية اللبنانية إلى شبكة برامجها المعتادة والاكتفاء بالنقل المباشر بين البرامج المعتادة عند الحاجة. بغض النظر عما اذا كان ذلك نتيجةً لقرار أم أنه انعكاس لنبض الشارع، فإن الإعلام اللبناني يعكس أيضًا نبض الاتصالات السياسية. وغاب أهل الحراك المستقلين عن المنابر الإعلامية لصالح وجوه أكثر ارتباطا برؤى سياسية.

في هذه الاثناء، كانت الاتصالات الاميركية – الفرنسية وتلك الروسية – الفرنسية قد بدأت في بلورة أفكار معقولة. بالنسبة للموقف الأميركية، ليس لبنان في صدارة الأولويات بالتأكيد، ومن يتولى متابعة الملف اللبناني في واشنطن هم شخصيات معروفة باهتمامها بلبنان من منطلق شخصي. ولعلّ ما نُقل عن “دايفيد شينكر” من باريس عن تقدم الفرنسيين في لبنان والتسليم بقدرتهم على التواصل مع مختلف الأفرقاء يعكس حقيقة الموقف الأميركي غير القادر على أن يقدم حلًا في ظل خصامه السياسي مع شريحة واسعة من اللبنانيين، ونظرة هذه الشريحة بريبة إلى أي مقترح أميركي. في حين أن هذه الشريحة نفسها لا تجد إشكالية في استقبال الموفدين الفرنسيين وتبادل الآراء معهم، وإن كان الموقف الفرنسي ليس مجانيًا بطبيعة الحال، وهو ينطلق من مصلحة فرنسية خالصة، ولكنه يبقى أقل حدة من أي موقف دولي أخر.

وفي هذا السياق، لا يرفض الفرنسيون فكرة حكومة ينخرط فيها حزب الله، وهو ما يتقاطع مع الموقف الروسي أيضًا الحاضر بفعالية، إثر اتصالات بين موسكو وطهران، مدفوعة بحرص روسي على مشاريع الغاز قبالة السواحل اللبنانية والسورية. وهو ما يتطلب استقراراً في لبنان.

ما الذي يفسّر تمسّك الرئيس سعد الحريري بموقفه إذا؟ لدى الحريري اعتبارات ترتبط بحسابات شعبية بعد أن اخترق الحراك بعمق الشرائح المناصرة له، خاصة في طرابلس وبيروت. كما أن الموقف السعودي – الإماراتي من مشاركة حزب الله في الحكومة لا يزال على حاله بالرفض الكامل. وبالتالي فإن أي حل دولي قد لا يعني بالضرورة انخراط الحريري شخصياً به، وإن كان من الطبيعي أن يشمل تياره.

هل يعني هذا أن الحل بات قريباً؟ الجواب هو لا.

قد لا يكن اللاعبون الدوليون قادرين على اللحاق بقطار الانهيار الاقتصادي في لبنان. وهذا الانهيار المرتقب هو سبب إطالة الأزمة في المرحلة المقبلة، لكن الغطاء الدولي يظلّ عاملاً هامًا في ضبط الأمور والبناء عليه لتحقيق تسوية واسعة تجيب على مطالب الحراك المحقة، و تشمل إجراء انتخابات نيابية مبكرة بعد الاتفاق على حكومة مؤقتة.

US Meddling In Lebanon’s Crisis, Hezbollah Won’t Be Dragged into Strife – Deputy Secretary General

US Meddling In Lebanon’s Crisis, Hezbollah Won’t Be Dragged into Strife – Deputy Secretary General

By Reuters, Edited by Staff

Hezbollah accused the United States of meddling in the formation of a new Lebanese government on Friday, its strongest accusation yet of US interference in Lebanon’s political and economic crisis.

As Lebanon grapples with the worst economic crisis since its 1975-90 civil war, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General His Eminence Sheikh Naim Qassem told Reuters he did not see signs of a new conflict. Hezbollah would not be dragged into strife, he stressed.

He also said the economic crisis which has spread to the banking system was hitting Hezbollah followers along with everyone else in Lebanon. The party backed putting corrupt officials on trial “regardless of who they are”, Sheik Qassem added.

Already grappling with an economic crisis, Lebanon has slid even deeper into turmoil since protests erupted against the ruling elite last month, fueled by anger over the corruption of the sectarian politicians who have dominated Lebanon for years.

US dollars have grown scarce, the Lebanese pound has weakened and capital flight from the banking system has led banks to impose controls on depositors.

The protests led Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to quit office on Oct. 29, toppling a coalition government that included Hezbollah.

“The first obstruction in the formation of the government is America, because it wants a government that resembles it and we want a government that resembles the Lebanese people,” Sheikh Qassem said. The crisis would continue, he noted, until foreign parties give up on trying to achieve their goals.

US officials had been in direct contact with Lebanese politicians and officials, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General said. “Let them leave us alone so we can reach an understanding among ourselves. The more they intervene the more they delay the solution.”

Asked why Hezbollah and its allies had not opted to form a cabinet on their own, Sheikh Qassem emphasized that the party preferred the prime minister be chosen through agreement with the main parties.

The position is reserved for a Sunni Muslim in Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system. Hariri is Lebanon’s leading Sunni. “There are continuous contacts between Hezbollah and Hariri to pick the prime minister,” Sheikh Qassem said.

Meanwhile, the United States has confessed that it stands by protesters who are demanding reforms and an end to corruption, claiming that it is ready to work with a new government that can build a stable, prosperous and independent Lebanon.

Putting the Corrupt On Trial

Sources close to Hariri have said he is sticking by his demand for a cabinet of experts because he believes it would be best placed to secure international support and steer Lebanon out of crisis.

According to Sheikh Qassem, the first step towards dealing with the crisis would be the formation of a government which should start by implementing an emergency economic plan after amending it if necessary.

The causes of the crisis included bad policies and corruption, he said.

“We support the people 100% in putting the corrupt on trial,” he said. “The corrupt must stand trial in Lebanon regardless of who they are … we support all measures that limit corruption and that recover looted wealth.”

“I do not see signs of a civil war in Lebanon. Hezbollah is determined not to fall into strife that America wants. But we have information of American attempts to create some security problems,” he pointed out.

Syria Condemns US Position on Zionist Settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territories

Syria Foreign Ministry

November 19, 2019

Syria vehemently condemned as “null and has no legal impact” the US attitude towards the Zionist settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“Syria strongly condemns the US position towards the Zionist settlements in Palestinian occupied lands which forms a blatant violation of the International Law and UN resolutions on the legal status of the occupied territories,” an official source at Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said in a statement to SANA on Tuesday.

The source added that this position forms the most recent series in the US contempt for the International legitimacy and a continuity of the US aggression on the Arab Nation and the unlimited support provided by the USA to the expansionist Zionist entity in its continuous aggression against the Arab rights

Syria confirms, according to the source that the US position is void and has no legal impact as it is for Washington’s attitude towards al-Quds “Jerusalem” and the occupied Syrian Golan.

The source concluded by saying that this positions shows, once again, depth of the gap which separates the USA from the International Community due to its fool policies which are controlled by a mentality of hegemony and arrogance.


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