Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Director General of Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency Dmitry Kiselev Moscow, April 28, 2021

April 28, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Director General of Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency Dmitry Kiselev Moscow, April 28, 2021

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

We have available video in Russian and transcript in English.

Transcript:

Dmitry Kiselev: Our relations with the United States are really “hell”. Personally, I don’t recall them being at such a low ebb ever before. This is even worse than the Cold War times, in my opinion. Ambassadors have returned back to their home countries. What’s going to happen next? What is the possible scenario?

Sergey Lavrov: If it depended on us alone, we would gladly resume normal relations. The first possible step towards this, which I regard as obvious, is to zero out the measures restricting the work of Russian diplomats in the United States. It was as a response measure that we restricted the operations of American diplomats in Russia.

We proposed this to the Biden administration as soon as it had taken the oath and assumed office. I have mentioned the idea to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. I did not try to press it; I just said that an obvious way to normalise our relations would be to zero out the measures initiated by Barack Obama. Several weeks before leaving office, he was so annoyed he virtually slammed the door by seizing Russian property in violation of all the Vienna conventions and throwing Russian diplomats out. This has caused a chain reaction.

We patiently sat back for a long time, until the summer of 2017, before taking any response measures. The Trump administration asked us to disregard the excessive measures taken by the outgoing Obama administration. However, Donald Trump’s team failed to normalise the situation, and so we had to take reciprocal measures. But the Americans have not stopped there.

We can see that the Biden administration continues to go downhill, although US President Biden said during his conversation with President of Russia Vladimir Putin soon after his inauguration, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told me that they are thoroughly reviewing their relations with Russia, hoping that this would clarify many things. However, instead they adopted new sanctions, which triggered not simply a mirror response on our part. Our response was asymmetrical, just as we had warned them on numerous occasions. It has to do, in part, with a considerable disparity in the number of diplomats and other personnel of the US diplomatic missions in Russia, which is way above the number of Russian diplomats in the United States.

As for the strategic picture of our relations, I hope that Washington is aware, just as Moscow is, of our responsibility for global stability. There are not only the problems of Russia and the United States, which are complicating our citizens’ lives and their contacts, communications, businesses and humanitarian projects, but also differences that are posing a serious risk to international security in the broadest possible meaning of the word.

You remember how we responded to the outrage that took place during Joe Biden’s interview with ABC. You are also aware of how President Putin reacted to President Biden’s proposal of a meeting. We have taken a positive view of this, but we would like to understand all aspects of this initiative, which we are currently analysing.

Nothing good will come out of this, unless the United States stops acting as a sovereign, as President Putin said during his Address to the Federal Assembly, accepts the futility of any attempts to revive the unipolar world or to create an architecture where all Western countries would be subordinate to the United States and the Western camp would work together to “rally” other countries across the world against China and Russia, admits that it was for a purpose that the UN Charter sealed such principles as respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as non-interference in the internal affairs of other states and sovereign equality of states, and simply honours its commitments and starts talking with us, just as with any other country, on the basis of respect for each other and for a balance of interests, which must be established. President Putin said this clearly in his Address, pointing out that Russia is always open to broad international agreements if they suit our interests. But we will harshly respond to any attempts to cross the red line, which we ourselves will determine.

Dmitry Kiselev: Would it be realistic to expect them to become aware of this and stop acting as a sovereign? Hope is fine, but the reality is completely different.

Sergey Lavrov: I have not expressed any hope. I just mentioned the conditions on the basis of which we will be ready to talk.

Dmitry Kiselev: And what if they refuse?

Sergey Lavrov: It will be their choice. This means that we will be living in conditions of a Cold War, or even worse, as you have already mentioned. In my opinion, tension did run high during the Cold War and there were numerous high-risk conflict situations, but there was also mutual respect. I believe that this is lacking now.

There have been some schizophrenic notes in the statements made by some of the Washington officials. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said just a while ago that sanctions against Russia would be continued, that they are producing, by and large, a desired effect, and that their objective is not to “escalate” with Russia. Even I am at a loss about how to comment on this. I hope anyone can see that such statements are doing no credit to those who are upholding and promoting this policy.

Dmitry Kiselev: I had a chance to hear an opinion – perhaps even a commonplace opinion, to some extent, in certain circles – to the effect that diplomats are doing a poor job, that we are constantly digging in our heels, that our position is inflexible and non-elastic, and this is the reason why our relations are poor.

Sergey Lavrov: Are you alluding to circles inside this country?

Dmitry Kiselev: Yes, inside this country.

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, I also read these things. Thankfully, this country protects freedom of speech much better than many Western countries, including the United States. I read the opposition’s online resources and newspapers, and I think that perhaps these people have a right to express their point of view that consists in the following: “If we refrained from disputing with the West, we’d have Parmesan cheese and lots more things that we are sincerely missing; but for some reason, they have cut short food purchases in the West [they do not even explain that this was done in response], they have stopped buying food and gone into import substitution, thus increasing the price of food.”

You know, this is a narrow, lopsided view taken entirely from the standpoint of creature comforts, a choice between a television set and a fridge. If they think it essential to accept US values, I would like to remind them about what US President John Kennedy, the greatest US President to my mind, once said: “Don’t think what your country can do for you. Think what you can do for your country.” This is a radical distinction from today’s liberal views, where personal wellbeing and personal feelings alone are the things that matter.

The promoters of these philosophical approaches, as I see it, are not just unaware of what our genetic code is all about, but are trying in every way to undermine it. For, apart from the desire to live well, to be well-fed, to be confident that one’s children, friends and relatives are well too, a feeling of national pride always played an equally important role in what we did throughout our one thousand years’ history. If someone thinks that these values are of no importance for him or her, as it is [politically] correct to say now, it is their choice, but I am certain that the overwhelming majority of our people have a different opinion.

Dmitry Kiselev: Are you counting on a meeting with Antony Blinken? When can this meeting be held, and will it take place at all in the foreseeable future?

Sergey Lavrov: When we were talking over the phone, I congratulated him in keeping with the diplomatic etiquette. We exchanged a few appraisals of the [current] situation. The talk was, I feel, well-meaning, calm and pragmatic. When our US colleagues have completed staffing their Department of State, we will be prepared to resume contacts – naturally, on the understanding that we will engage in a search for mutually acceptable arrangements on many problems, starting from the functioning of the diplomatic missions and ending with strategic stability and many other things. US and Russian business communities are concerned with expanding their cooperation, something that the American-Russian Chamber of Commerce has recently told us. We have concluded by stating that there will be some joint multilateral events, on whose sidelines we will be able, as chance offers, to talk. But no signals have come from the US so far. Speaking about the schedule of events, Russia will be taking over the Arctic Council chairmanship from Iceland three weeks from now. An Arctic Council ministerial meeting is scheduled to take place in Reykjavík on May 20-21. If Secretary Blinken leads the US delegation, I will, of course, be prepared to talk with him, if he is interested.  Given that we will chair the Arctic Council for the next two years, I have informed our Iceland colleagues that I will attend this ministerial meeting.

Dmitry Kiselev: Is there any certainty as to who will definitely join the list of unfriendly states?

Sergey Lavrov: The Government of Russia is attending to this on instructions from President of Russia Vladimir Putin. We are participating in this work, as are other respective agencies.  I would not like to jump the gun right now.  We are reluctant to be indiscriminate and put on that list just any country that will say somewhere “something wrong” about Russia. Our decision will be based, of course, on a deep-going analysis of the situation and on whether we see opportunities to have a dialogue with that country in a different way. If we come to the conclusion that there is no chance of this, then, I think, the list will, of course, be periodically extended. But this is not a “dead” paper. As is only natural, it will be revised in tune with how our relations develop with this or that state.

Dmitry Kiselev: When will the public be able to read this list?

Sergey Lavrov: Soon, I think. The Russian Government has concrete assignments. We understand the criteria that are guiding us in this work. So, I think, the wait will not be very long now.

Dmitry Kiselev: Will the unfriendly states be banned from hiring local workforce?

Sergey Lavrov: There will be a ban on hiring any physical persons whether Russian or foreign.

Dmitry Kiselev: Is this the only measure with regard to unfriendly states or some others are in the offing?

Sergey Lavrov: At this stage, this is the concrete aim set in the executive order signed by President of Russia Vladimir Putin.

Dmitry Kiselev: Donbass is another subject. Tensions have continued to escalate there since early 2021, and it appears that they have subsided a little since US President Joe Biden called President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. In my show News of the Week, I noted that US military guarantees to Ukraine had turned out to be a bluff. Nevertheless, shootouts continue, and they are using banned large-calibre weapons. It seems like this peace is not very different from war, and that the balance is highly unstable. Over 500,000 Russian citizens now live in Donbass. Will there be a war?

Sergey Lavrov: War can and should be avoided, if this depends on us and on the self-defence fighters, as far as we understand their principled approaches. I cannot speak and make guesses on behalf of the Ukrainian party and President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky because, by all indications, his main goal is to stay in power. He is ready to pay any price, such as pandering to neo-Nazis and ultra-radicals who continue to brand the Donbass self-defence fighters as terrorists. Our Western colleagues should reassess the developments that have taken place since February 2014.  None of these districts attacked the rest of Ukraine. They were branded as terrorists, and an anti-terrorist operation was launched against them and then another operation involving “joint forces.”. But we do know for sure that they have no desire to make war on representatives of the Kiev regime.

I have repeatedly told our Western colleagues, who are totally biased in their assessment of current developments, and who unconditionally defend Kiev’s actions, that Russian journalists and war correspondents working on the other side of the demarcation line show an objective picture. They work in trenches there almost without respite, and they provide daily news reports. These reports show the feelings of the people living in these territories that are cut off from the rest of Ukraine by an economic blockade, where children and civilians are being regularly killed, and where the civilian infrastructure, schools and kindergartens are being destroyed. I asked our Western colleagues why they don’t encourage their media outlets to organise the same work on the left side of the demarcation line, so that the scale of damage there can be assessed and to see which facilities have been the hardest hit.

As for the recent developments, when we openly announced the military exercises in the Southern and Western military districts – we made no secret of that, you remember the shouts about the alleged Russian build-up on the border with Ukraine. Just take a look at the terms used: we speak about drills in the Southern and Western military districts, while they say that Russia is amassing troops on the Ukrainian border. And when the drills ended and we made the relevant announcement, the West claimed maliciously that Russia had to back off, to withdraw. This is an example of wishful thinking.

This is reminiscent of the situation with the G7: every time they meet they announce that Russia will not be invited to the group. We have stated on numerous occasions that we will never re-join it, that there will not be any G8, and that this is a thing of the past. However, continued references to this subject, as well as claims that Russia has “rolled back” and has ordered its troops to “return to their barracks” shows, of course, that in this instance the West wants above all to take advantage of this situation to prove that it has the last word and the dominant place in modern international relations. This is regrettable.

The subject of a settlement in Ukraine has been discussed by President Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The other day President Putin spoke about it with President of France Emmanuel Macron. The issue was also raised during a recent conversation with US President Joe Biden. The situation is clear, as I see it. The patrons of President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky and his team refuse to make him honour the Minsk Agreements, even though they are aware of the futility of trying to use military force; they have heard the signals sent from Donetsk and Lugansk about their readiness to defend their land, their homes and their people who refuse to live by the laws being enforced by neo-Nazis.

President Putin has said clearly that we will never abandon the people of Donbass, who are standing up to the openly radical neo-Nazi regime. President Zelensky keeps saying in his interviews that there are no problems with the Russian language or the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, and that he is willing to discuss all these subjects with President Putin. It is a shame perhaps that a person I have always regarded as clever says that the Russian language and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have no problems in Ukraine. I have no doubt that he is very well aware of the situation. Maybe nothing at all is being reported to him, but in that case he is living in a dream world. But the West has definitely sent its signals to Zelensky.

As you have mentioned, it would be senseless to pin hopes on US military assistance. This has always been clear to everyone. If anyone entertained such illusions, such advisers are good for nothing in any government, including the government of Mr Zelensky. Regrettably, the West continues to try to convince us that the Minsk Agreements should be mitigated and the sequence of the actions set out in them changed. Zelensky says he likes the agreements, but only if it is all the other way round, that they first take full control of these territories, including the border with Russia, and only then deal with the elections, amnesty and a special status for these territories. It is clear that if they did this, if they were allowed to do this, there would be a massacre. The West is unable or unwilling to force Zelensky to comply with the Minsk Agreements strictly in accordance with the sequence set out in them, which does not permit any double interpretation and has been formulated unambiguously from the first to the last step. Control of the border is the very last step to be taken after these territories receive a special status, which must be sealed in the Constitution of Ukraine, after free elections are held there and their results are recognised as such by the OSCE.

Of course, there must also be total amnesty. Not in the way envisaged by the Poroshenko government or the current regime, which only want to approve an  amnesty on an individual basis for those who are proved to have committed no crime. This is yet another misinterpretation. The Minsk Agreements stipulate an amnesty for those who took part in fighting on both sides, without any transitional justice process, which our Western colleagues are now beginning to discuss.

I believe that the brunt of responsibility lies with the West, because only the West can make President Zelensky honour the commitments which his predecessor signed and he himself signed in Paris in December 2019 when he, the presidents of Russia and France and the Chancellor of Germany reaffirmed the absence of any alternative to the strict observance of the Minsk Agreements, and he pledged to amend the legislation and the Ukrainian Constitution to formalise the special status of Donbass on a permanent basis.

Dmitry Kiselev: Many people are wondering why Russia fails to recognise Donbass. It did recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia. There is an inner “lobby” in Russia, even among my fellow journalists, who are demanding that we recognise Donbass – the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic. Why are we failing in this?

Sergey Lavrov: You are right that there is an analogy with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But there is just one exception: no agreements similar to the Minsk Package of Measures were signed in those countries, when Saakashvili’s aggression against Tskhinval and the positions of peacekeepers, including Russian peacekeepers, occurred. The Medvedev-Sarkozy document was discussed there, and it implied a number of steps. But it was not signed by Georgia. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, after reaching an agreement with us in Moscow, took a plane to Tbilisi to ensure Saakashvili’s support for the document. Saakashvili signed it, but he deleted all the key provisions.  Mr Sarkozy attempted to represent this as a compromise, but everyone understood everything. It had a preamble saying that the Russian Federation and the French Republic, desirous of normalising the situation in South Caucasus, propose to Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia the following:  a ceasefire. Saakashvili crossed out the heading, leaving just the first and subsequent items. Since then, the West has been demanding that we comply with these agreements. This is just an example.

In the case of Donbass, the situation was different. The 17-hour long negotiations in Minsk involving the Normandy format leaders (President Franсois  Hollande of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Petr Poroshenko of Ukraine, and President of Russia Vladimir Putin) produced a result, which was endorsed, two days later, by the UN Security Council without any amendments or doubts that it should be implemented.

Today, the moral and international legal truth is on our side and on the side of the Donbass militias.  I think that we must not let Mr Zelensky and his entire team “off the hook,” writhing as they might. Mr Zelensky’s statement is a fine specimen (made when he had all but given up hope of turning the Minsk Agreements upside down) to the effect that they are no good, albeit necessary, because the saving of the Minsk Agreements guarantees that the sanctions against Moscow will be preserved as well. We asked the West, what they think about this. They just look aside shamefacedly and say nothing.  I think it is a shame and a disgrace, when an international legal document is held up to mockery in this manner.  The West, which has co-authored this document and supported it at the UN Security Council, is demonstrating absolute helplessness.

Dmitry Kiselev: President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky cannot get a call through to President of Russia Vladimir Putin, who is not picking up the receiver. Your Ukrainian counterpart, Dmitry Kuleba, cannot get a call through to you. What does this mean? Why is this?

Sergey Lavrov: This means that they are seeking to revise the Minsk Agreements and represent Russia as a party to the conflict even in this area of their activities.

Requests that came in until recently both from my counterpart Kuleba and President Zelensky dealt with the topic of settlement in Donbass. We replied that this [topic] should be discussed not with us, but with Donetsk and Lugansk, as you agreed under the Minsk Agreements.   The agreements say in black and white that the key stages of settlement should be the subject of consultations and coordination with Donetsk and Lugansk. When they say that a “nasty situation is looming large” at the line of contact and want to talk to Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin, they are barking up the wrong tree. Meeting with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko in the Kremlin the other day, President Putin made it amply clear that if they wanted to talk about this, the address should be different.  If our colleagues, including President Zelensky, want to discuss how to normalise bilateral relations, they are welcome. We are always ready to talk about this.

Dmitry Kiselev: There is no reply or acceptance so far, is there?

Sergey Lavrov: I heard that Mr Zelensky instructed the chief of his office, Andrey Yermak, to come to terms on the timeframes. The location is of no importance, because each day of delay means new deaths.

Incidentally, let us take the fact that people are dying and what is happening at the line of contact. Over the last couple of weeks, Kiev has been insisting quite aggressively on the need to reaffirm the ceasefire. All of its Western patrons have also been urging us to influence Donbass so that the ceasefire takes hold in earnest. Speaking on the phone with President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, President Putin reminded them of the facts. And the facts are as follows: In July 2020, the Contact Group reached what was perhaps the most serious and effective ceasefire agreement, because it contained a verification mechanism.  It implied a sequence of actions, primarily each side’s commitment not to return fire immediately on the spot but report the violation to the top command and wait for its order on how to act, to wit, whether to respond in kind or to negotiate an arrangement under the mechanisms created for commander-to-commander liaison on the ground.   This agreement, as it was implied, was translated into military orders issued by the DPR and the LPR. These orders were published. Kiev pledged to do the same, but did nothing. Instead it started fiddling with words again. Instead of performing the obligation to report each shelling attack to the top command and get orders from them, they began replacing this clear-cut arrangement with confused formulas, although they were blamed for this by Donetsk and Lugansk at all subsequent meetings, and Russian representatives in the Contact Group, too, repeatedly said as much. The same happened in the Normandy Format.  This is what Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak has been doing all these months in contacts with his French and German colleagues. The head of President Zelensky’s Office, Andrey Yermak, was representing Ukraine. I read transcripts of their talks. It was like talking to a brick wall. They were at cross purposes: the Ukrainian leaders had obviously decided that it was necessary to revive the ceasefire story. It was shameful and unseemly.

It was a great pleasure to watch the Servant of the People series, when no one suspected that its main character would follow this path in real life. But he took the wrong path. If Mr Zelensky watched the series again today and tried to fathom the convictions of the person he had impersonated so well on screen, and later compared those convictions with what he is doing now, he would, perhaps, have achieved one of the most effective transformations.  I do not know when he was himself and when he underwent a transformation. But the contrast is striking.

Dmitry Kiselev: Another subject is the Czech Republic. What was it? How are we to understand it?

Sergey Lavrov: I cannot speculate on this because I do not understand intellectually what they wanted. One can watch it like a not too elegant television series.

This story is full of schizophrenic components. Czech president Milos Zeman says it should be sorted out, not denying the possibility of a subversive act by foreign agents, but suggesting taking into account the story told by the Czech leadership, including the incumbent Prime Minister Andrej Babis (the then Minister of Finance, in 2014), that it was the result of negligence by the depot owners. President Zeman only suggested that consideration should be given to the case that has never been disproven over the seven years. He is accused of high treason now. President of the Senate Milos Vystrcil said that by stating the need to investigate all the leads President Zeman had disclosed a state secret. Is this not schizophrenia? A pure case, I think.

There needs to be an investigation into what was stored in the depot. The German media said that they kept antipersonnel mines prohibited by the convention signed, inter alia, by the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. A lot of questions remain.

Dmitry Kiselev: Indeed, how could it happen that a certain Bulgarian citizen supplying antipersonnel mines (by all appearances they were found there), controlled a depot in the Czech Republic which was not then under the control of the government?

Sergey Lavrov: It so happens.

Dmitry Kiselev: Maybe the Czechs would be better to start with themselves?

Sergey Lavrov: Probably. Or follow the example of Ukraine where too a vast number of armed people, weapons and ammunition are controlled not by the Ukrainian armed forces, but by “volunteer battalions.” It is a trend where the state proves its inability to ensure, if you like, its monopoly over the use of force.

Dmitry Kiselev: Ukraine is one thing but the Czech Republic is a member of the EU. It is bound by other international commitments than those of Ukraine and presents itself differently.

Sergey Lavrov: Above all, in addition to the aforementioned conventions (Ottawa Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and the so-called Arms Trade Treaty, they are all parties to it), the EU has its own quite strict rules that do not encourage but rather prohibit any actions like supplies and sending forces to regions where there are conflicts.

Dmitry Kiselev: What do you think about the so-called British files? This looks like an orchestrated information campaign against Russia.

Sergey Lavrov: As before, the British continue to play a very active, serious and subversive role in relations between Russia and Europe. Britain has withdrawn from the EU but it has not slackened its activities there. On the contrary, it has been trying to exert maximum influence on the EU countries’ positions towards Moscow. This is not surprising at all.

You don’t even need to go very far back in history. In 2006, Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium. The inquest began in one way, and then the process was classified because it was necessary to analyse the materials of intelligence services. And then they announced the verdict, but the materials involved in the case have never been made public. As Arnold Schwarzenegger used to say, “Trust me.” I would rather side with Ronald Reagan’s “trust but verify.” But they don’t allow us to verify; they only demand that we trust them.

In 2014, the Malaysian Boeing was downed. They formed a team comprising a narrow group of four countries – the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and Ukraine. They did not even invite Malaysia, the country that lost the plane. These four countries have agreed, as it has since transpired, that any information would only be revealed on the basis of consensus. Ukraine, where the disaster took place, was given the right of veto, while Malaysia was invited to join the group only six months later. The black boxes, which the self-defence forces provided to Malaysia, were analysed in London. I don’t recall them making the information public.

In 2018, there were the Skripals and the “highly likely.” Nobody knows to this day how the Skripals survived the alleged poisoning, why the police officer who worked with them did not display any symptoms of poisoning, and why the woman involved died while her partner did not get sick. There are very many questions.

In 2020, we had the case of Alexey Navalny. He was flying from Tomsk to Moscow, but the plane landed in Omsk. Nobody on board the plane or in the Omsk hospital got sick. A bottle of water [from his hotel room] was taken by Maria Pevchikh to Germany on the plane that transported Navalny – nobody knows anything. Doctors at the Charité hospital did not find any traces of poison, but they were found at the Bundeswehr. German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer demanded transparency in connection with our recent military drills in the southern and western regions of Russia. But we announced the drills beforehand, whereas the Bundeswehr, whose experts allegedly found traces of Navalny’s poisoning, is keeping information from us. Our request for the results of tests and biomaterials has been denied.

After that there was a long story involving the OPCW. It allegedly took part in collecting samples from Navalny. According to the remarkable information from Berlin, German experts were present during the collection of the samples, but OPCW experts are not mentioned at all. We are trying to sort this information out. Nobody wants to explain anything. Germany is directing us to the OPCW, which says that the request came from Germany and so we should ask them. It is a conspiracy of silence. We have seen this happen in crime movies about bandit groups operating all over the country after the war. This is regrettable.

Getting back to Britain, we can see that London is continuing its anti-Russia policy. Chief of the UK Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) Richard Moore said a few days ago that Russia is “a declining power” whose allegedly “reckless behaviour” needs to be dealt with. This is inherent arrogance and a belief that they continue to rule the world. They are sending “signals” to us and propose establishing ties. In other words, they are not against communicating with us, but they are trying to discourage others from doing the same. This could be an aspiration for a monopoly of contacts and a desire to prove that they are superior to others.

Dmitry Kiselev: Speaking about decline, Britain is a perfect example of a declining empire “on which the sun never sets,” a small island in the North Sea with clouded prospects. To return to the Czech Republic, opinions within the country on the latest developments are totally inconsistent. There is no consensus, and nothing has yet been proven, but diplomats have been expelled. There has already been a result.

Sergey Lavrov: They claim that this is not the reason why our diplomats were expelled.  Two statements were made on the same day. They appeared to be interconnected. Prague is now trying to prove that there is no connection between them. They have announced that the explosions were organised by Petrov and Boshirov, the ubiquitous Russian suspects. It’s like blaming them for the sinking of the Titanic. The same day it was announced that 18 diplomats would have to leave the country. The majority of people accepted this as “punishment” for the 2014 explosions. After that, the Czech authorities said they would track down Petrov and Boshirov and issue an arrest warrant for them. As for the 18 diplomats, they identified them as spies. They expelled them because they turned out to be intelligence agents. No proof that any of these 18 diplomats are guilty of illegal activities has been provided. It is not surprising that former Czech President Vaclav Klaus said that the country’s authorities were like a tiny pooch barking at a huge dog, hoping that the big boys (the United States and Britain) would throw their weight behind them. Do you remember a time from your childhood when local bullies waited until dusk to demand 15 kopeks from a smaller kid, and if he refused they summoned the “big boys.” The logic is very similar. This is regrettable.

We never schemed against our Czech colleagues. Why would we need to blow up that warehouse? Some people say that the Russians were angry that the Bulgarian planned to send munitions to Ukraine. This is a completely schizophrenic view of the situation. This is impossible to imagine. But the machinery has been set in motion. I hope our Czech colleagues will come to their senses after all and will take a look at what they have done. If reason prevails, we will be ready to gradually rebuild the conditions for our diplomatic missions to function normally.  If not, we will make do. We know how we will be working. We don’t have to ingratiate ourselves with anyone.

Dmitry Kiselev: Working on what?

Sergey Lavrov: We know how we will be working in the Czech Republic and other countries. Pinpoint attacks are being made against Russia in the Baltics, Poland and, recently, Romania. Bucharest has added, though, that its decision was in no way connected to the EU’s position. This came as a surprise. They just decided to send that Russian diplomat back home. Why? They have not explained.

Dmitry Kiselev: It is notable that Germany has not supported the Czech Republic.

Sergey Lavrov: I have read the relevant statement by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. He spoke like a responsible politician. It is not always that the German Foreign Ministry takes such a balanced and astute position. Many of its other statements have indiscriminately supported injustice, for example when Ukraine adopted sanctions against the Opposition Platform – For Life political party, its leader Viktor Medvedchuk and several of his associates, all of them Ukrainian citizens.  The German Foreign Ministry expressed its approval, saying that this was fully in keeping with OSCE principles. This is absurd.

Therefore, what Heiko Maas said the other day is a responsible political statement. It has not smoothed over differences but pointed out the importance of maintaining dialogue and looking for agreements, since we live side by side.

Dmitry Kiselev: Recently in China, you said we needed to look for alternatives to the SWIFT international payment system, and Russia was preparing for this. Is there a specific timeframe, and what stage of the preparations are we at?

Sergey Lavrov: Many have already spoken about this. This is happening because in recent years, the West has been looking for more ways of infringing on Russia’s legitimate interests. Now they are openly mentioning the possibility of disconnecting our country from SWIFT. Responsible politicians just have to think of ways to play it safe.

In addition to these statements, the United States is increasingly abusing the role of the dollar in the international monetary system, using certain countries’ dependence on dollar settlements to limit their competitive opportunities – China and other states they dislike. China, Russia, and Turkey are now looking for opportunities to reduce their dependence on the dollar by switching to alternative currencies, or even better – by making settlements in their national currencies. The responsible agencies, including in our country, are thinking about how to prevent damage to the economy and the financial system if some hotheads actually disconnect us from SWIFT. Russia launched a national payment card system a few years ago; MIR cards have been in use in Russia since then. The system is already developing ties with its foreign counterparts, as similar cards are being issued in China and Japan. It is also building ties with the internationally accepted payment card Maestro.

As regards the SWIFT system, specifically, the Central Bank of Russia recently introduced and continued to develop a system for the transfer of financial messages. It is quite popular. I think we need to support and strengthen this in every possible way to ensure we do not depend on anyone. Let me emphasise that we are not trying to self-isolate. We want to be part of the international community. Part of a community where justice and democracy work. We have discussed the problems of democracy with the West. But once they are asked to come to an agreement, to declare that democracy should triumph in international relations, too, they lose their enthusiasm. They are full of lectures on internal democratic processes, but when it comes to the international arena, we get raised eyebrows. Here, allegedly, there are established ‘practices’ that ‘Russia and China are trying to implement’ (it’s about this). But in reality, Moscow and Beijing only want to preserve the principles of the UN Charter, according to which everyone is equal and must seek agreement.

One needs to have a safety net in terms of payment systems and transfer of financial messages. We have one. I hope it will grow stronger and be able to provide a guarantee if suddenly, contrary to our desire to cooperate with everyone, the West discriminates against Russia, abusing its current position in the international economic and monetary systems, in this situation, we really cannot afford to depend on anyone.

Dmitry Kiselev: So the Central Bank’s system for transfer of financial messages is the budding alternative to SWIFT?

Sergey Lavrov: I am not an expert. I don’t know how reliably and effectively it provides a full warranty. But the groundwork is already there. I am confident that the Government and the Central Bank must do everything to make it reliable and guarantee us complete independence and protection from more damage that might be inflicted on us.

Dmitry Kiselev: In a conversation with your Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, you proposed an initiative to create a coalition of countries affected by illegal sanctions. To what extent has this project progressed? What countries could join it?

Sergey Lavrov: I would not put it like that. We have been working at the UN for a long time to end the practice of unilateral illegitimate sanctions such as embargoes, blockades and other restrictions. We have been working for a number of decades to lift the embargo the United States declared on Cuba. The respective resolution is supported by more than 190 votes annually, with only the United States and one small island nation voting against it.

However, since this practice of unilateral restrictions began to be widely used (started by Barack Obama, expanded by Donald Trump, and applied to this day), a large group of countries voted in the UN to establish the position of Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights and their impact on the civilian population and the socioeconomic situation in a particular country. Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan is a citizen of Belarus. This institution, created by the UN General Assembly, is working and circulating reports. I think it is a very useful step.

Another specific course of action is now being developed in New York to the same end, as you mentioned, to counter illegal unilateral measures. It is a group in support of the UN Charter. Nothing revolutionary – just in response to our Western colleagues forming flagrantly non-universal groups.

US President Joe Biden has put forth the idea of ​​holding a Summit for Democracy. Naturally, the Americans will recruit the participants and will judge who is worthy to be called a democracy and who is not.

Also, in recent years, our French and German colleagues have being making calls to ensure freedom of the media through the Alliance for Multilateralism, a group they announced outside the framework of universal institutions. They rallied more than thirty states under its banners even though there is UNESCO, where the same topic is discussed by everyone.

Or, there was an appeal in support of international humanitarian law. Law is universal. It is the responsibility of the UN bodies. But again, they recruited about 50 states.

Such appeals have nothing to do with universal bodies, but they cover the agenda that is discussed at a universal level. They place that agenda into a framework where they are more comfortable negotiating with those who obey, and then they present it as the ultimate truth.

This movement against illegitimate unilateral actions is much broader than just sanctions.

Dmitry Kiselev: Can this movement be formalised by membership?

Sergey Lavrov: The membership is in the UN. This is the difference: we are not creating anything against anyone. In the Asia-Pacific region, we would like to leave everything as it is. ASEAN has its partners, while anyone else can join security discussions. The logic of the West acts against this. They are implementing the Indo-Pacific Strategy with its declared goal of containing China and isolating Russia.

The same is happening at the UN. They create various partnerships on topics that need to be discussed as part of the UN agenda. We insist that everyone must fulfil their obligations under the UN Charter, not scatter the global agenda across their compartments, only to present it later as the international community’s opinion.

Dmitry Kiselev: A recent update: the Americans confirmed they had made efforts to prevent Brazil from buying the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. Brazil indeed refused, even though the coronavirus situation in that country is simply awful. What is your assessment?

Sergey Lavrov: This does not surprise me. The Americans are not even embarrassed to do things like that; they are not hiding it.

When former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travelled to Africa, he openly and publicly called on his colleagues at a press conference to cut off trade with Russia and China because these countries pursue selfish goals. Right, the United States trades with African states for the sole benefit of their peoples, of course.

As for the vaccine issue, a protest movement kicked off in Brazil against that decision. If the Americans have admitted they were behind it, that means they are true to their logic and believe everything is possible and permitted, and they can now openly dictate their will.

Not so long ago, French President Emmanuel Macron warned of a new type of world war, and that Russia and China were using vaccines as a weapon and means of propaganda. That rhetoric is now receding. Germany, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, is already seriously talking about the possibility of using the Russian vaccine.

We are not going to force anyone. I think life itself will set things straight. Vladimir Vysotsky said: “I always try to find the good in people. They will show the bad themselves.”

Dmitry Kiselev: A year ago, in an interview with our agency in the midst of the pandemic, you said you missed football. Are you back to sport yet?

Sergey Lavrov: In fact, I am. I did miss playing for a couple of weeks. We took a break and kept it low-key. But later, when we realised what precautions we could take, the games resumed. We play every Sunday.

So Who Wants a Hot War?

So Who Wants a Hot War?

April 17, 2021 

by Pepe Escobar and cross-posted with Strategic Culture Foundation

It’s not by accident that the Hegemon is going no holds barred to harass and try to smash Eurasian integration by all means available.

It’s a scorpion battle inside a vortex of distorted mirrors inside a circus. So let’s start with the mirrors in the circus.

The non-entity that passes for Ukrainian Foreign Minister traveled to Brussels to be courted by US Secretary of State Blinken and NATO secretary-general Stoltenberg.

At best, that’s circus shadowplay. Much more than NATO advisers in a frantic revolving door in Kiev, the real shadowplay is MI6 actually working very close with President Zelensky.

Zelensky’s warmongering script comes directly from MI6’s Richard Moore. Russian intel is very much aware of all the fine print. Glimpses were even carefully leaked to a TV special on the Rossiya 1 channel.

I confirmed it with diplomatic sources in Brussels. British media also got wind of it – but obviously was told to further distort the mirrors, blaming everything on, what else, “Russian aggression”.

German intel is practically non-existent in Kiev. Those NATO advisers remain legion. Yet no one talks about the explosive MI6 connection.

Careless whispers in Brussels corridors swear that MI6 actually believes that in the case of a volcanic but as it stands still preventable hot war with Russia, continental Europe would burn and Brexitland would be spared.

Dream on. Now back to the circus.

Oh, you’re so provocative

Both Little Blinken and NATO straw man Stoltenberg parroted the same script in Brussels after talking to the Ukrainian Foreign Minister.

That was part of a NATO “special meeting” on Ukraine – where some Eurocrat must have told a bunch of extra clueless Eurocrats how they would be carbonized on the spot by Russian TOS-1 Buratino’s terrifying explosive warheads if NATO tried anything funny.

Listen to the sound of Blinken yappin’: Russian actions are “provocative”.

Well, his staff certainly did not hand him a copy of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu examining step by step the deployment of the annual US Army DEFENDER-Europe 21: “The main forces are concentrated in the Black Sea and Baltic region.”

Now listen to the sound of Stoltenberg yappin’: We pledge “unwavering support” to Ukraine.

Woof woof. Now go back to play in your sandboxes.

No, not yet. Little Blinken threatened Moscow with “consequences” whatever happens in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov’s infinite patience is nearly Daoist. Sun Tzu’s Art of War, by the way, is a Daoist masterpiece. Peskov’s answer to Blinken: “It is simply not necessary for us to go around forever proclaiming: ‘I am the greatest!’ The more one does this sort of thing, in fact, the more people doubt it…”

When in doubt, call the irreplaceable Andrei Martyanov – who always tells it like it is. The Crash Test Dummy gang in D.C. still does not get it – although some Deep State pros do.

Here’s Martyanov:

As I am on record constantly – the United States never fought a war with its Command and Control system under the relentless sustained fire impact and its rear attacked and disorganized. Conventionally, the United States cannot win against Russia in Europe, at least Eastern part of it and Biden Admin better wake up to the reality that it may, indeed, not survive any kind of escalation and, in fact, modern Kalibrs, 3M14Ms, as a matter of fact, have a range of a 4,500 kilometers, as well as 5,000+ kilometer range of X-101 cruise missiles, which will have no issues with penetrating North American airspace when launched by Russia’s strategic bombers without even leaving the safety of Russia’s airspace.

The Patrushev effect

The circus went on with the phone call from “Biden” – that is, Crash Test Dummy with an earpiece and a teleprompter in front of the phone – to President Putin.

Call it the Patrushev effect.

In his stunning interview to Kommersant, Triple Yoda Patrushev mentioned a very civilized late March phone call he had with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. Of course there’s no smokin’ gun, but if anyone would come up with the face-saving idea of a Biden-Putin phone call that would have been Sullivan.

The spin from Washington and Moscow is only slightly divergent. The Americans highlight that “Biden” – actually the deciding combo behind him – wants to build “a stable and predictable relationship with Russia, consistent with US interests.”

The Kremlin said that Biden “expressed interest in normalizing bilateral relations.”

Away from all this fog, what really matters is Patrushev-Sullivan. That has to do with Washington telling Turkey that US warships would be transiting the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea. Sullivan must have told Patrushev that no, they won’t be “active” in Donbass. And Patrushev told Sullivan, OK, we won’t incinerate them.

There are absolutely no illusions in Moscow that this putative Biden-Putin summit in a distant future will ever take place. Especially after Daoist Peskov had made it very clear that “no one will allow America to speak with Russia from a position of strength.” If that sounds like a line straight out of Yang Jiechi – who made shark fin’s soup out of Blinken-Sullivan in Alaska – that’s because it does.

Kiev, predictably, remains stuck in circus mode. After getting sharp messages from Mr. Iskander, Mr. Khinzal and Mr. Buratino, they changed their mind, or at least pretend to, and are now saying they don’t want war.

And here comes the intersection between circus and the serious stuff. The “Biden” combo never said, explicitly, on the record, that they don’t want war. On the contrary: they are sending those warships to the Black Sea and – circus again! – designating an envoy, Ministry of Silly Walks-style, whose only job is to derail the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

So the cliffhanger – like a teaser for Snowpiercer – is what happens when Nord Stream 2 is completed.

But before that, there’s something even more momentous: next Wednesday, on his speech to the Russian Security Council, President Putin will lay down the law.

It’s Minsk 2, stupid

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, has struck a much less Daoist note than Peskov: “The United States is our enemy, doing everything to undermine Russia’s position in the international arena, we do not see other elements in their approach to us. These are our conclusions”.

That’s stone to the bone realpolitik. Ryabkov knows the Hegemon’s “non agreement-capable” mindset inside out. So an added dimension to his observation is its direct connection to the only solution for Ukraine: the Minsk 2 agreements.

Putin reiterated Minsk 2 on his live teleconference with Merkel and Macron – and certainly to “Biden” in their phone call. The Beltway, the EU and NATO are all aware of it. Minsk 2 was signed by Ukraine, France and Germany and certified by the UN Security Council. If Kiev violates it, Russia – as a member of the UNSC – must enforce it.

Kiev has been violating Minsk 2 for months now; it refuses to implement it. As a faithful Hegemon satrapy, they are also not “agreement-capable”. Yet now they are seeing the – firepower – writing on the wall if they as much as think of starting a blitzkrieg against Donbass.

The open secret in the whole Ukraine/Donbass wilderness of mirrors under the circus tent is of course China. Yet Ukraine, in a sane world, would not only be part of a Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) corridor, but also part of the Russian Greater Eurasia project. China specialist Nikolai Vavilov recognizes the importance of BRI, but is also certain Russia is above all defending its own interests.

Ideally, Ukraine/Donbass would be inserted in the overall revival of the Silk Roads – as in internal Central Eurasian trade based and developed taking into consideration Eurasia-wide demand. Eurasia integration – in both the Chinese and Russian vision – are all about interconnected economies via inter-regional trade.

So it’s not by accident that the Hegemon – on the verge of becoming an irrelevant player across Eurasia – is going no holds barred to harass and try to smash the continental integration by all means available.

In this context, manipulating a failed state to meet its own doom is just (circus) business.

Analyzing Saudi Arabia’s Changing Attitude Towards Former Allies & Enemies

By Denis Korkodinov

Source

Analyzing Saudi Arabia

There is a huge possibility that the kingdom will nevertheless reconsider some of the directions of its foreign policy, given that the new US President Joe Biden and the head of the American State Department Antony Blinken began to exert tremendous pressure on Riyadh, demanding, in particular, to complete the war in Yemen.

A key feature of the development of the Middle East, from the mid-1970s to the present, is its direct dependence on the global hydrocarbon market. Nevertheless, based on the new geopolitical reality and the existing uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MENA states are forced to significantly reduce their costs and abandon projects related to ensuring regional interests. Saudi Arabia, which for a long time positioned itself as the leading donor for the overwhelming majority of states, is also forced to experience economic difficulties. Such a picture can negatively affect the kingdom’s ability to ensure the realization of its own regional interests and forces it to reconsider its relations with former enemies and allies. First of all, this concerns Iran and Syria.

The main stumbling block between the countries is the draft political settlement of the Syrian crisis. Official power in Damascus, are loyal to the Iranian Ayatollah regime. Riyadh, especially since the beginning of the period of the so-called “Arab Spring”, has been pursuing the goal of reducing Tehran’s influence in the region, but it no longer regards Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as an ideological adversary. Differences in views with Iran are the main source of existing problems on the path to normalizing Syrian-Saudi relations. However, there is a huge possibility that the kingdom will nevertheless reconsider some of the directions of its foreign policy, given that the new US President Joe Biden and the head of the American State Department Antony Blinken began to exert tremendous pressure on Riyadh, demanding, in particular, to complete the war in Yemen. It is quite clear that such a requirement is deliberately impracticable, primarily for political reasons. Thus, the withdrawal of Saudi troops from Yemen may cause another escalation of the conflict, which, in principle, is already clearly visible in the situation in the province of Marib. Of course, this development of events does not meet the interests of the Saudi monarchy, which is especially sensitive to attacks carried out by the Ansar Allah movement both inside and outside Yemen. It should also be noted that the withdrawal from Yemen risks undermining the position of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In addition, Washington is seeking to re-establish a nuclear deal with Iran, thereby placing the kingdom at a real threat. In such conditions, Riyadh needs to urgently transform its foreign policy, including towards Syria.

On March 1, 2021, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov became the first “extra-regional” high-ranking diplomat to make an official visit to Riyadh and meet in person with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the United States announced a series of anti-Saudi sanctions. Moscow is highly counting on the kingdom’s assistance in recognizing the new Libyan government and resolving the Syrian crisis. According to Russia, this would serve as an international guarantee that the region can soon return to a peaceful life and forget about the time of the protracted Arab Spring. In turn, Riyadh is interested in using Moscow as a mediator in negotiations with Damascus. In addition, the kingdom pursues the goal of determining the direction of its further path in the international arena and finding a “spare ally” in the person of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Initially taking an irreconcilable position in relation to official Damascus, Saudi Arabia is gradually beginning to change its mind and is ready for a dialogue with Bashar al-Assad, including within the framework of the League of Arab States, from which Syria was excluded in 2011. Now Riyadh is considering the possibility of resuming Damascus’s membership in the “Arab family”, but the timeframe for the implementation of this plan is still unclear. So, according to a former employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, retired Colonel Abdullah Mohsen Lafi al-Shammari, this may not happen before the presidential elections in Syria to be held in December 2021. In addition, the question of whether Damascus will want to return to the Arab League raises great doubts. In any case, now Russia and Iran are almost completely compensating Syria for all the costs that could be borne by the member countries of the international Arab organization.

One can, of course, consider that the starting point of such a sharp turn in Saudi diplomacy is the “destructive” policy of US President Joe Biden, who, having attacked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with harsh criticism, called this approach a “recalibration.” However, a former member of the General Staff of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad al-Harbi, said there is an understanding in the Saudi court that the American “condemnation strategy” is part of a larger geopolitical game. Kuwaiti expert Abdul Mohsen al-Shammari is of the same opinion. At least no one in Riyadh views the murder of Jamal Khashoggi as a serious reason for breaking off relations with Washington. Based on the principle of “real politics,” the Saudi court will not revise the format of cooperation with the White House in the next 30-50 years, even if force majeure circumstances arise in the form of a global conflict.

By putting pressure on Mohammad bin Salman, Washington, apparently, hopes for his categoricality, primarily in issues related to Iran and Russia. Joe Biden dislikes that Riyadh has questioned the US plan to reopen the nuclear deal with Tehran. In addition, the royal family’s interest in developing a constructive dialogue with Moscow also raises concerns in the White House administration. At the same time, Washington’s anti-Saudi rhetoric can be viewed as a kind of manifestation of jealousy.

Recently, US President Joe Biden sanctioned strikes against Iranian targets in Syria. This was a kind of signal for Saudi Arabia, which the US administration thus asked to join its military campaign. And, apparently, in Riyadh they are in no hurry to welcome this “invitation”, preferring to renew good relations with Damascus, but at the same time not to offend Washington. This opinion was confirmed by the Saudi expert Mohammed al-Harbi and his Kuwaiti counterpart Abdul Mohsen al-Shammari.

It is also worth noting that Russia and Saudi Arabia are trying to put pressure on the United States to ease sanctions on Syria in accordance with the “Caesar’s Law.” Our countries agree that Caesar’s Law is generally toxic to regional security and stability. In particular, due to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria, the parties to the conflict may attempt another escalation and shift the field of armed struggle to other states. Recent negotiations between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, touched upon, among other things, this problem.

Saudi Arabia is ready to reconsider its relations not only with Syria, but also with Turkey, the political tension with which has become especially aggravated after the events of October 2018. Ankara and Riyadh actually took diametrically opposed positions in the international arena. In just two years, more than 20 Turkish schools have been closed in Mecca and Medina, and imports of Turkish goods into the kingdom in December 2020 reached an all-time low of $13.5 million, about 9 percent of imports in the same period in 2019. However, the situation began to change. Paradoxically, the reason for this was the results of the Second Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At least Riyadh positively assessed the use of Turkish drones during the conflict as a tool for enforcing peace and in March 2021 expressed its intention to purchase 8 Bayraktar TB2 complexes from Ankara, which was officially confirmed by Turkish President Recep Erdogan.

Saudi expert Mohammad al-Harbi, speaking about the transformation of foreign policy approaches in the Middle East, noted that Riyadh is ready to forget about grievances and start building friendly relations with many regional and non-regional players. According to the Saudi general, under the influence of the global economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, the kingdom’s foreign policy has undergone dramatic changes. Ideological differences with many states are a thing of the past. There is a huge need for the development of a regional anti-crisis communication system. As a first step on this path, Riyadh is pursuing the goal of normalizing relations with Syria, as well as trying to neutralize the “sharp corners” in the dialogue with Turkey with the obligatory mediation of Russia.

The increased Saudi interest in the peace process in Syria certainly plays a defining role in bilateral contacts. Riyadh intends to contribute to the achievement of peace in the Syrian Arab Republic and agrees to a leading position in the country of Bashar al-Assad. Nevertheless, according to Muhammad al-Harbi, the process of revising the Saudi policy towards official Damascus is still at a starting level, and therefore, it is not yet clear what such a policy can lead to. Nevertheless, Riyadh intends to clearly and consistently implement the Syrian-Saudi “warming” project. It is noteworthy that the regime of Bashar al-Assad quite adequately responds to the good aspirations of the kingdom. At the very least, Damascus is showing international sympathy for the Saudis to become guarantors of security in the MENA region, while maintaining Moscow’s mediating role. However, now the main obstacle is the pro-Iranian and pro-Turkish armed formations that have occupied a significant part of Syrian territory. These “unwanted forces” act as a trigger in regional politics and significantly complicate the implementation of the peacekeeping project under the auspices of Saudi Arabia.

It is possible that following the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Riyadh, direct talks may be organized between the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad already directly in Moscow. In any case, the Saudi court feels a great need for such a negotiation process to take place. The Russian Kremlin, apparently, is working out the details of this plan, hoping, thereby, to strengthen its own positions in the region. After all, if Bashar al-Assad and Mohammed bin Salman really meet directly and can shake hands, then this will generate a global resonance, and this act in terms of its geopolitical impact can be comparable to the conclusion of the Versailles Peace Treaty. At the very least, Riyadh and Damascus, through the resumption of bilateral relations, will be able to end the protracted armed conflict that has led to the deaths of more than 2 million ordinary Syrians.

لماذا لا تملك واشنطن خياراً غير العودة للاتفاق النوويّ؟ Why does Washington have no choice but to return to the nuclear deal?

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

مفاوضات فيينا تنتهي بنجاح.. واتفاق على استكمال المباحثات

لماذا لا تملك واشنطن خياراً غير العودة للاتفاق النوويّ؟

ناصر قنديل

يتزامن في 22 أيار المقبل الموعد المعلن من إيران للانتقال الى مرحلة تخصيب لليورانيوم على درجة 40%، مع مرور ثلاثة شهور على دخول الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن الى البيت الأبيض، والزمن القياسي بالنسبة لمهمة بحجم الملف النووي الإيراني، من موقع إدارة أميركية تدخل للتوّ الى موقع القرار وتمسك بعشرات الملفات الدولية والداخلية الضاغطة والملحّة، وهذا يعني أن انعقاد اجتماع فيينا الذي يجري تحت عنوان وضع خريطة طريق لعودة واشنطن وطهران الى التزاماتهما بموجب الاتفاق النووي، تعبير عن سرعة استثنائية بمفهوم العلاقات الدولية، مع التزام مبدئي من الطرفين الأميركي والإيراني بالاستعداد للعودة الى التزاماتهما، وخلافهما حول كيفية هذه العودة، كما قال المبعوث الأميركي الخاص للملف النووي، روبرت مالي، مع اعترافه بأن مناقشة القضايا الخلافية من خارج الاتفاق كقضية الصواريخ البالستية الإيرانية والنزاعات الإقليمية، يجب أن تنتظر لما بعد العودة الى الاتفاق الأصلي. وهذا الاعتراف الأميركي يزيل أول عقبة من طريق العودة للاتفاق.

الواضح أن النقاش الدائر في فيينا لا يتصل بمبدأ العودة الأميركية عن العقوبات، ولا بمبدأ العودة الإيرانية عن تخفيض الالتزامات بموجبات الاتفاق، فمن الزاوية القانونية المبدئية يشكل الاتفاق مقايضة بين التزامين، أميركي برفع العقوبات، وإيراني بقبول ضوابط للملف النووي، ونحن اليوم أمام إعلان متبادل لترجمة هذا الاستعداد، تراجعت لأجله واشنطن عن دعوات سابقة للرئيس بايدن وفريقه تشترط للعودة إلى الاتفاق ورفع العقوبات باتفاق آخر، يضمن مزيداً من الضوابط التقنية، ويمتد لزمن أطول، ويطال تفاهمات أشمل نحو ملف الصواريخ البالستية الإيرانية وملفات النزاع الإقليمي، وهذا أكبر تحول يفتح الباب للعودة إلى الاتفاق النووي، لأن ما تبقى يقوم على قاعدة سياسية تتصل برغبة وقدرة الفريقين الأميركي والإيراني بتسهيل المهمة على الشريك الآخر في الاتفاق. فواشنطن تطلب من طهران، كما قال مالي، مساعدتها على تسويق العودة للاتفاق أمام الداخل الأميركي، بينما تتمسك طهران بمعادلة قانونيّة قوامها، أن طهران خفضت التزاماتها رداً على الانسحاب الأميركي من الاتفاق، ولم تنسحب من الاتفاق، بل أبقت بنداً من بنوده يجيز هذا التخفيض مقابل إخلال الأطراف الأخرى بموجباتها، ولذلك تتشدد طهران باعتبار العودة الأميركية إلى الاتفاق، وترجمتها بإلغاء كل العقوبات التي صدرت بناء على الانسحاب الأميركي، لتتم مطالبة إيران من قلب الاتفاق ووفقاً لبنوده بالعودة الى موجباتها.

في فيينا تشكلت لجان من المشاركين الدوليين مع كل من الفريقين الأميركي والإيراني نسختان من لجنتين، واحدة للالتزامات الإيرانية وواحدة للالتزامات الأميركية، لإنتاج تصوّر تفاوضيّ مع الوفد الإيراني في ملفي العودة للالتزامات والتراجع عن العقوبات، ومثله تصور تفاوضي مع الوفد الأميركي المقيم خارج قاعة الاجتماعات لملفي العودة عن العقوبات والعودة للالتزامات، والبدء بمحاولة تقريب التصورين سعياً لمنطقة وسط، والمقصود بالمنطقة الوسط هو تحديداً، ما هو حجم العقوبات الذي يمكن التفاهم مع واشنطن على رفعها قبل العودة الإيرانية إلى التزاماتها، مقابل ضمانة المشاركين الدوليين بأن إيران ستعود، وتقبله إيران للبدء بالخطوة الأولى في العودة إلى التزاماتها، وما هي المدة التي تطلبها واشنطن وتقبلها إيران لاستكمال إنهاء العقوبات، قبل أن تُقدم إيران على الخطوة الأخيرة في العودة إلى التزاماتها.

الطريق الذي فتح في فيينا محكوم أميركياً باللاعودة، وباب النهاية الوحيد له هو العودة إلى الاتفاق بأقل المخاطر والخسائر الممكنة، وفقاً لمعادلة قالها كل من وزير الخارجية الأميركية توني بلينكن ومستشار الأمن القومي جايك سوليفان، ومضمونها السباق مع الزمن للعودة إلى الاتفاق قبل أن تمتلك إيران المقدرات اللازمة لإنتاج أول سلاح نوويّ، طالما هي خارج الاتفاق، والموعد الأميركيّ المرتقب لذلك هو نهاية شهر أيار.

فيديوات متعلقة


Why does Washington have no choice but to return to the nuclear deal?

Nasser Kandil

– Next May 22 coincides with the announced date of Iran to move to a stage of uranium enrichment at a level of 40%, with the passage of three months after the entry of US President Joe Biden to the White House, to hold dozens of international and internal files that are pressing and urgent, and this means that the Vienna meeting that is taking place under The title of laying out a road map for the return of Washington and Tehran to their obligations under the nuclear agreement is an expression of exceptional speed in the international relations, with an initial commitment on the American and Iranian parties to prepare for a return to their commitments, and their disagreement over how to do this return, as said by the US special envoy for the nuclear file, Robert Malley, admitting that outside the agreement such as Iran’s ballistic missile issue and regional conflicts, discussing issues outside the agreement, such as the Iranian ballistic missile issue and regional disputes, must wait until after the return to the original agreement. This American admission removes the first obstacle to returning to the agreement.

– It is clear that the debate in Vienna is not related to the principle of U.S. return from sanctions, nor to the principle of Iran’s return from reducing obligations under the agreement, from the initial legal point of view the agreement constitutes a trade-off between two commitments, the U.S. lifting of sanctions, and Iran accepting controls on the nuclear file, and today we are facing a mutual declaration to translate this readiness, for which Washington has retracted earlier calls for President  Biden and his team to return to the agreement and the lifting of sanctions with another agreement, guaranteeing more technical controls, extending longer, and extending broader understandings toward the Iranian ballistic missile file and regional conflict files, the biggest shift opens the door to a return to the nuclear agreement, because what remains is based on a political base related to the desire and ability of the U.S. and Iranian teams to facilitate the task over the other partner in the agreement. Washington is asking Tehran, Mali said, to help it market the return to the agreement in front of the U.S. interior, while Tehran adheres to a legal equation, that Tehran has reduced its obligations in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement, and has not withdrawn from the agreement, but has kept one of its provisions authorizing this reduction in exchange for other parties violating its terms.  Tehran therefore tightens its consideration of the U.S. return to the agreement, translated into the abolition of all sanctions issued based on the U.S. withdrawal, so that Iran is asked to reverse the agreement and in accordance with its terms to return to its obligations.

– In Vienna, committees of international participants were formed with both the U.S. and Iranian teams, two versions of two committees, one for Iranian commitments and one for U.S. commitments, to produce a negotiated vision with the Iranian delegation in the return of commitments and the lifting of sanctions, as well as a negotiated vision with the U.S. delegation residing outside the meeting room to lift sanctions and return to commitments, and to begin trying to bring the two scenarios closer together in an effort to find a settlement. What is meant by the settlement is specifically, what is the size of the sanctions that can be agreed upon with Washington to lift them before Iran returns to its commitments, in exchange for the international participants ’guarantee that Iran will return, and Iran accepts it to start the first step in returning to its commitments, and what is the period that Washington demands and Iran accepts to complete End the sanctions, before Iran takes the final step in returning to its commitments

– The road opened in Vienna is doomed to  return, and the only end door to it is to return to the agreement with the least possible risks and losses, according to an equation said by U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken and National Security Adviser  Jake Sullivan, and its content is the race against time to return to the agreement before Iran has the capabilities to produce the first nuclear weapon, as long as it is outside the agreement, and the expected U.S. date is the end of May.

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Yemen’s Blood Is on US Hands, and Still the US Lies about the War

Yemen’s Blood Is on US Hands, and Still the US Lies about the War

4/4/2021

By William Boardman – Towards Freedom

Six years ago, on March 26, 2015, the US green-lighted and provided logistical support for the Saudi bombing of Yemen that continues on a daily basis. The US/Saudi war, which includes as allies the several members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, is an undeclared war, illegal under international law, and an endless crime against humanity. The US and the Saudis have dropped cluster bombs on Yemen since 2009. Yemen has no air force and no significant air defenses. Two years ago, even the US Congress voted to end US involvement in the war, but President [Donald] Trump vetoed the resolution.

In 1937 the Nazis, in support of Franco in Spain, bombed the defenseless northern Spanish town of Guernica, massacring hundreds of civilians gathered in the town on market day. Pablo Picasso’s painting Guernica, a shriek of protest against the slaughter, is one of the world’s best known anti-war works of art. Yemen has had more than 2000 days of Guernicas at the hands of the US and Saudis, but no Picasso.

On February 4, 2021, President [Joe] Biden got a whole lot of good press when he announced that the US would be “stepping up our diplomacy to end the war in Yemen.” Biden also promised that the US would be “ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen.” Biden gave no specific details. The six-year bombing continues. The six-year naval blockade of Yemen continues. The humanitarian crisis continues, with the threat of famine looming. In effect, Biden has participated in war crimes since January 20, with no policy in sight to end the killing.

On March 1, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged that:

The humanitarian crisis taking place in Yemen is the largest and most urgent in the world. Twenty million people, including millions of children, desperately need help. The United States is committed to doing our part, both to provide aid and to help address the obstacles standing in the way of humanitarian access.

That sounds a whole lot better than it is. Blinken did not acknowledge the US role in the air war on Yemen. Blinken did not acknowledge the US role in the naval blockade preventing food and fuel from reaching those 20 million Yemenis. Those obstacles to humanitarian access remain unchanged. The US has the power to remove either one unilaterally, just as it unilaterally chose to impose them. Blinken called on “all parties” to allow unhindered import and distribution of food and fuel, as if the US played no role in blocking both.

Blinken wasn’t done inventing a reality to fit US policy. He pledged support for “the well-being of the Yemeni people” but singled out the Houthis for pressure, even though the Houthis represent a large proportion of the Yemeni people. He called on the Houthis “to cease their cross-border attacks,” even though those attacks are a response to the US/Saudi undeclared war. And then he offered an analysis that would be hilarious if it weren’t so grotesque:

… the Saudis and the Republic of Yemen Government are committed and eager to find a solution to the conflict. We call on the Houthis to match this commitment. A necessary first step is to stop their offensive against Marib, a city where a million internally displaced people live, and to join the Saudis and the government in Yemen in making constructive moves toward peace.

The Saudis are so eager to find a solution to the conflict that they maintain their air war and naval blockade, effectively waging war by starvation – a crime against humanity. The “Republic of Yemen Government” is a fiction and a joke. Yemeni president Mansour Hadi, who is 75, was vice president of Yemen from 1994 to 2011, under the late authoritarian president Ali Abdullah Saleh. When Arab Spring protests erupted against Saleh, he stepped aside in favor of Hadi, who was “elected” president in 2012 with no opposition – a “democratic” result imposed by an international cabal. When you read media referring to his “internationally recognized government,” that’s the fiction they’re hiding. Hadi’s term as president ended in 2014, the international cabal extended it for a year, and that’s pretty much the extent of his legitimacy. That and US/Saudi firepower. By any rational calculation, Hadi is not a legitimate president. He also has no legitimate alternative. No wonder Hadi doesn’t feel safe in Yemen and remains in exile in Riyadh. The population in southern Yemen under the “government’s” control has recently attacked the government palace in Aden in protest against the government’s failure to provide sustenance and stability. A recent bomb attack aimed at a Hadi government minister reflects the reality that southern Yemen has long had a separatist movement quite independent of the Houthis in the north, in effect a second civil war. The most constructive move the Hadi government could make toward peace is to abdicate.

-Marib City, the capital of Marib Governorate, is roughly 100 miles northeast of Yemen’s capital in Sanaa. Marib City was established after the 1984 discovery of oil deposits in the region. Covering 6,720 square miles in central Yemen, the Marib Governorate is somewhat smaller than New Jersey. Marib contains much of Yemen’s oil, gas, and electric resources. Marib is the last governorate under the control of the Hadi government, but it has been under increasing attack by the Houthis since early 2020. Before that, Marib was relatively remote from the fighting in Yemen, providing refuge for a million or more Yemenis fleeing the fighting elsewhere. Marib City had a population of about 40,000 when the civil war broke out in 2014. Now the city has an estimated 1.5 million people.

This map of Yemen shows the oil fields of Yemen as well as the projected route [in dotted lines of the Trans-Yemen oil pipeline, protected by Al Qaeda forces, which, when completed will allow Saudi Arabia to avoid possible clashes with Iran at the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf. Source: The Crash of Flight 3804: A Lost Spy, A Daughter’s Quest, and the Deadly Politics of the Great Game for Oil  by Charlotte Dennett  (Chelsea Green) Map by John Van Hoesen.

The Houthi offensive against Marib has intensified since January 2021. Their offensive has continued in spite of having no air support. For the US Secretary of State to call for the Houthis to stop their offensive is an indication that it’s going their way. By March 8, Houthi forces had breached the northern gates of Marib City. Hadi government forces are supported by the Saudi coalition and local tribes, as well as elements of Al Qaeda and ISIS. [Al Qaeda also fights independently against occupying forces of the United Arab Emirates along the Gulf of Aden coastline.]

Famine has arrived in pockets of Yemen.

Saudi ships blocking fuel aren’t helping.

This was CNN’s headline on March 11, for a story reporting with reasonable accuracy on the very real, years-old humanitarian crisis that the US/Saudi war has brought on the region’s poorest country. CNN quotes a “food insecurity” analysis by the world electronics trade association IPC that predicts that more than 16 million Yemenis (of a total population of about 30 million) are “likely to experience high levels of acute food insecurity” in the first half of 2021. “Out of these, an estimated 11 million people will likely be in Crisis, 5 million in Emergency, and the number of those in Catastrophe will likely increase to 47,000.”

Yemen is an atrocity from almost any perspective. Three US presidents – Obama, Trump, and now Biden – have lied about Yemen while taking the US into an endless nexus of war crimes and crimes against humanity. And for what? To support a Yemeni government that is a fraud? To support a Saudi ally that thought it could win a quick, dirty air war at little or no cost? This abomination, pun intended, never should have happened. So why did it? The formulaic answer in much of the media is usually some variation on this propagandistic patter from Reuters:

A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 after the Iran-allied Houthi group ousted the country’s government from the capital Sanaa.

This essentially false version of reality in Yemen appears in news media across a wide spectrum, from Al Jazeera to ABC News to this version by CNN:

Saudi Arabia has been targeting Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen since 2015, with the support of the US and other Western allies. It had hoped to stem the Houthis’ spread of power and influence in the country by backing the internationally-recognized government under President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.

The core falsehood in most versions is “the Iran-allied” or “Iran-backed” Houthis. The grain of truth in that characterization is far outweighed by the history on the ground. The Houthis live in Yemen. They are the only combatant force that lives in Yemen, other than elements of the Hadi government and assorted insurrectionists. Yemen is in the midst of a civil war that has flared over decades. The war that is destroying Yemen is waged entirely by outside countries, primarily the US and the Saudi coalition.

The Houthis, who are mostly Shia Muslims, have lived in northwest Yemen for generations and centuries. They fought a civil war against President Saleh and lost. They have long been an oppressed minority in Yemen. When the Hadi government perpetuated the oppression of the Houthis, they rebelled once again. This time, challenging an unpopular and divided government, they were more successful. In 2014 they captured Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, and captured Hadi himself. Then they released him and he fled first to Aden, then to Saudi Arabia, where he is a puppet figurehead.

Before it could become clear what kind of governance the Houthis would provide for their part of Yemen, the US and the Saudi coalition attacked the country. Their publicly stated motivation has always included the imaginary threat from Iran. But the Houthis have a long and independent history that does not rely on Iran for its coherence and force. Iranian support for the Houthis in 2014 was never shown to be significant. The US/Saudi war had had the perverse effect of incentivizing Iranian support for the Houthis, but there’s no evidence that support comes anywhere close to the strength of the US and Saudi coalition forces directed at the Houthis. The US and the Saudi coalition are waging an aggressive war against a country that did none of them any harm. Iran is providing support for an ally unjustly under siege.

The war in Yemen has been brutal on all sides, according to reports by more or less neutral observers. But only the US and the Saudi coalition are invaders, only they are committing international war crimes. The Houthis, as well as all the other sides fighting in Yemen, have also committed war crimes, but on a far lesser scale. Yemeni forces are not the ones waging war by starvation and disease.

Ultimately, the Houthis are the home team, along with other Yemeni factions. The Houthis have nowhere else to go. The only military solution to the Houthis is extermination, genocide, the very course the US and Saudis have been on for years, with the winking hypocrisy of most of the world.

In April 2015, with the Saudis’ saturation bombing already in its third week, the United Nations Security Council unanimously [14-0] passed Resolution 2216, which “Demands End to Yemen Violence.” The Resolution begins with an obscene misrepresentation of reality:

Imposing sanctions on individuals it said were undermining the stability of Yemen, the Security Council today demanded that all parties in the embattled country, in particular the Houthis, immediately and unconditionally end violence and refrain from further unilateral actions that threatened the political transition.

That is the official lie that has publicly defined the war on Yemen since 2015. The UN sees no terror bombing by foreign countries. The UN sees no invasion by foreign troops. The UN sees no terrorist groups in a country that has had little stability for decades. The UN cites only the Houthis for their sins, as if it were somehow the Houthis’ fault that, having no air force and no air defenses, they weren’t getting out of the way of the cluster bombs dropped on their weddings and their funerals.

GERMANY’S POLITICAL CRISIS AND THE FUTURE OF NORD STREAM 2

South Front

April 03, 2021

Germany’s Political Crisis and the Future of Nord Stream 2

To make matters worse, at the EU summit Blinken pointed out that his threats aimed at Nord Stream 2 are a reflection of US Congress laws demanding any and all firms participating in its construction to be sanctioned, though omitting that the Executive Branch has considerable freedom of action in implementing legislation impinging on the presidential foreign policy prerogatives.

It does not appear as if Blinken’s “shock and awe” show on three continents has had the desired results. Germany’s Foreign Ministry pointedly refused to endorse Biden’s characterization of Vladimir Putin as a “killer”, in contrast to several other European countries traditionally adhering to an anti-Russia stance. Moreover, there is no evidence that German companies are about to drop their work on Nord Stream 2. Doing so would be a fatal blow to Germany’s position as the leading EU member state and would introduce a greater degree of chaos into EU power struggles. Factors putting a certain degree of steel into Germany’s spine is the apparent realization that, emboldened by the effectiveness of a mere threat of sanctions against Germany, the US State Department will grow accustomed to using that instrument on a routine basis with Germany and other members of the EU. United States’ apparent desire to denigrate Germany’s international status seems to have led to a few other snubs, such as the failure to invite it to a high-level meeting on Afghanistan that Russia, China, and even Turkey will attend.

Germany’s Green Hell

If the United States has an ace in a hole that might yet reverse the decline of its fortunes, it is the gradual ascendancy of Germany’s Green Party. German and indeed international public opinion have come a long way from the heady days of Spring 2020, when Angela Merkel was roundly hailed as the “scientist” whose combination of empirical astuteness and political savvy would bring COVID-19 to heel, in stark contrast to the ignorant fools that Boris Johnson and Donald Trump were supposed to be. Back in May or June 2020, it certainly did not appear as if anything could threaten Merkel’s political fortunes. Yet it is Merkel who is now facing calls for a Bundestag vote of confidence. The botched pandemic response, the puzzling back-and-forth of lockdowns, relaxations, then new lockdowns, and a number of corruption scandals associated with pandemic response contracts that implicated a number of CDU/CSU deputies, have undermined the public’s confidence in the ruling party and its leadership. It certainly did not help matters that the EU official most closely associated with the botched vaccine procurement at the Union level is the President of the European Commission Ursula van der Leyen who previously occupied several ministerial posts, including that of Defense, in the various Merkel governments.

It is therefore unsurprising that Germany is potentially facing a major electoral upheaval that threatens to significantly rearrange the country’s political landscape. As of March 27, 2021, a Kantar opinion poll attempting to ascertain the level of support each of Germany’s parties might enjoy during this year’s Bundestag elections showed CDU/CSU still in the lead with potentially 25% of the vote, with the Greens in close second at 23%. The other political parties posted notably weaker figures. The once-dominant SPD scored only 17%, Alternative for Germany (AfD) and FDP 10% apiece, Die Linke 9%, with 6% distributed among the remaining parties. Other German opinion polls delivered roughly similar results, varying only by a couple percentage points.

Its rise is driven by several factors, including the exhaustion with the ruling CDU/CSU coalition, the SPD suffering from the abandonment of its leftist principles in favor of Blair/Clinton-like “third way” neoliberal policies, Die Linke still lingering under a cloud of suspicion due to its German Democratic Republic ancestry, and of course the Alternative for Germany attracting unwanted attention from Germany’s own “Deep State” which, like its US and British counterparts, is playing an increasingly active role in the country’s politics.

Gruen Nach Osten

That the Greens’ coming to power is bound to result in Germany becoming more militaristic and interventionist on the world stage is also suggested by the curious case of Tareq Alaows, a Syrian man born in Damascus who came to Germany in 2015 and, only six years later, was declared a Bundestag candidate from the Green Party already as a German citizen. Given that the rest of the 1.5 million refugees who arrived in Germany at roughly the same time are still not German citizens and are likely never to become them, Alaows’ rapid elevation suggest that the Greens have friends within Germany’s “deep state”, and are interested in following US and British lead in “weaponizing” social issues such as gender rights, environmentalism, and other issues in order to justify aggression against countries deemed insufficiently dedicated to what the West claims to be “universal values”. They would not be Europe’s first “Green” party to go neo-conservative. Sweden’s Greens have likewise inducted many Islamists into their ranks in order to press for greater foreign interventionism. Moreover, since Germany’s Green Party is a relatively recent invention and is therefore not associated with Germany’s earlier military aggressions (and here one should note that even the SPD was staunchly supportive of Germany’s aggression in World War I, and likely would have been in World War II had it not been banned by the Nazis),  they are the most logical front for Germany’s neo-cons. One can readily imagine empowered Greens declaring Germany has a sacred mission to rid the world of coal, oil, and natural gas as sources of energy which naturally means a confrontation with China and Russia in order to install governments in those countries that naturally share the Greens’ priorities and incidentally also enact policies highly favorable to German business interests. While the Green Party began its existence as a radical party of the Left, by the end of the Cold War it began to reinvent itself along neo-conservative lines. Its support for NATO’s wars against Yugoslavia and other military adventures, its peculiar interest in Aleksey Navalny who is not exactly known as an environmentalist, combined with strident opposition to Nord Stream 2, collectively make it very attractive to the Bidens and Blinkens of the world interested in making Germany a US client state. What remains to be seen is whether German and US “deep states” are capable of smoothing the Greens’ path into power, and whether the German people will accept the Green regime that is being prepared for them.

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Sitrep China : Xinjiang backlash market shock

March 30, 2021

Sitrep China : Xinjiang backlash market shock

Selections from Godfree Roberts’ extensive weekly newsletter : Here Comes China, plus editorial notes. You can get it here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe


The last two weeks we’ve watched in awe the Chinese telling the US in Alaska that a more assertive China now is a reality as the empire has left it no choice.  Of course the Alaska meeting was spiked with sanctions poison minutes before the meetings started, to present a strongman ‘advantage’ (or so they thought) to empire.   This backfired spectacularly and lasted but 15 minutes of a blistering response by China, so perfectly translated by the Chinese translator that she immediately became a new sensation in the eyes of the Chinese people.   The Chinese response is continuing and the stance is now permanent.  I think it is fair to say that China will take no more empire so-called ‘rules-based’ international order.

We saw Mr.Biden calling President Putin a “killer with no soul”.  We saw Russia moving away from empire, in action and in (less than diplomatic) words, with Foreign Minister Lavrov completing a triumphant visit to China directly after the Alaska meeting, and in press conferences making it clear that the petrodollar is now oh so last century news.  New economic and financial mechanisms will put it in its place and we already see this.  Take a look:

China signed a currency swap agreement with Sri Lanka before $3.7 billion of its foreign debt matures this year. Sri Lanka is entitled to a $1.5 billion swap facility from the PBOC, valid for three years. More than 22% of the nation’s foreign purchases were from China last year. Read full article →.

And then these wild two weeks ended with China and Iran signing a 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership, of course, not using any last century petrodollars.

The US fought back fiercely, with nothing else but rumors and the rest of the west sanctioned everything that they could possibly think of.  The rumors and propaganda are about Xinjiang and included the bathwater and the baby, cold war style, threatening hot war style and seemingly quite out of step with developments in the rest of the world.  We will look at the market fall-out in some detail.

But why now? Why did both Russia and China stand up and declare that they are here to stay, while we were used to a more muted approach from both?

James W. Carden and Patrick Lawrence considers that it is a deep disappointment with discovering the “retrograde character of the Biden administration’s foreign policies”  “We thought too well of the United States” Mr Yang, Foreign Minister of China said.  They had hopes for Biden, in other words. Given his fading competence, we ought to add, we think these policies will be shaped and directed in large measure by Blinken and Sullivan, with an adjunct role for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. This will prove another competence problem.

https://thescrum.substack.com/p/our-cold-two-front-war

What has not had much media coverage, is foreign minister Wang Yi’s tour to the Middle East after the Iran agreement announcement.   He visited Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman, all Belt and Road member countries.   To cap off these two weeks of telling empire to become productive, take their rightful place in the world if they can, stop playing warmonger and policeman and economic hitman, the take-away statement from this tour is that Wang repeatedly said global powers should butt out of making the Middle East their arena for big-power rivalry.

(Imagine empire confusion while the penny drops that their empire is over.  Anyone hearing someone playing the fiddle or more accurately the lute?)


A short video from Professor Bill Brown at Xiamen University in southeast China’s Fujian province about the changes in China after spending 33 years there.

The empire struck back with an all-out attack against the province of Xinjiang.  The Xinjiang cotton industry was attacked with baseless rumors and propaganda about the Uyghur people and the propaganda and sanctions machines went into overdrive and we saw sanctions everywhere, mainly against anyone buying cotton from the region.  It is quite ludicrous to pretend to care for the Uyghurs if your sanctions are designed to deprive them of their major industry and their income, which is from cotton.  As fast as the western sanctions were announced, they were responded to with reciprocal sanctions.  Mr.Lavrov already mentioned that there will be a concerted effort throughout the world to do away with unilateral sanctions, so, it is almost as if they do not matter, as no country in the world can or should spare the resources to manage all the sanctions.

But China is striking back hard.  In addition, the cotton manufacturers out of Xinjiang are bringing legal action against Adrian Zenz, who stitched together the rumors of forced labor, labor camps, forced sterilization, and many others.  If you do not want to watch this video, just take a scroll through the comments though.

The Chinese people got angry and a major market kerfuffle commenced and is still ongoing.  For Australia with their thoughtless comments against China, their trade (excluding iron ore) has dropped by 40%.

H&M’s agony, Nike’s fear, the market strikes back. H&M craters after saying it would not source cotton from Xinjiang. All e-commerce platforms removed it from their websites. Searches for ‘H&M’ and ‘HM’ yielded no results, celebrities cut ties, and 200 million Weibo users boycotted H&M’s 450 stores. Nike and Adidas are under attack for using the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which stopped licensing farms in Xinjiang. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/3126828/hm-under-fire-china-over-refusal-buy-xinjiang-cotton

A-list Uyghur stars Dilraba Dilmurat (Dílì Rèbā), an actress with a huge Han fan base, and Liú Yìfēi, who starred in Mulanended their business relationships with Adidas. Nike, Calvin Klein, and Converse have lost their Chinese brand ambassadors. https://supchina.com/2021/03/24/hm-faces-boycott-in-china-over-year-old-xinjiang-cotton-ban/

Japanese fashion retailer Muji, with 17% of its total sales from China, said its stores in China will continue carrying products made with Xinjiang cotton. The company has conducted due diligence on all companies in Xinjiang involved in its supply chain. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Retail/Muji-features-Xinjiang-cotton-as-Chinese-netizens-lash-its-rivals

“H&M, Nike, and others are now suffering heavy losses to their reputations in the Chinese market. Enormous investment in public relations has been destroyed instantly. They need to complain to Western society, because they know that, whether they are active or passive, they have indeed done something intolerable to Chinese consumers”. – Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times.  https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202103/1219413.shtml

Why this focus on the Chinese province Xinjian?  Is it really caring deeply about the Uyghurs?  Of course not.  This is not how empire conducts its business.

“The investments and the infrastructure development under the BRI will bring an explosion of growth in Xinjiang. It will not just become a wealthy region, it will become ‘Dubai wealthy,’ said engineer Robert Vannrox, “the West does not want this. The more Chinese investment pours into Xinjiang, the louder the anti-China propaganda becomes.”


Cover Image: Chinese archaeologists announced Saturday that some new major discoveries have been made at the legendary Sanxingdui Ruins site in southwest China, helping shed light on the unified, diverse origin of the Chinese civilization.  https://www.shine.cn/news/nation/2103206280/

This is but a fraction of what I gleaned from the Here Comes China newsletter.  If you want to learn about the Chinese world, get Godfree’s newsletter here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

Amarynth

Whose interests are really being served with US anti-China alliance?

By Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor -March 28, 2021

NEO – Building an anti-China Alliance is the Last US Bid for Political Survival in Asia & the Pacific

by Salman Rafi Sheikh, …with New Eastern Outlook, …and the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a research institution for the study of the countries and cultures of Asia and North Africa.

[ Editor’s Note: Is this Biden reinventing Trump’s unipolar power dominance via a two step Biden unipolar power move in Asia with allies in tow, so they are available for cannon fodder use when deemed necessary to keep US trade fluctuations down?

What is important in this Biden plan story is to take a broad overview. By pulling allies into a coalition, he is positioning them for bullet magnets in case of hostilities. So one has to ask, why would they want this exposure when they can just be trade friendly countries with China and sit on the sidelines during a war?

China has no real invasion capability at this point, and has been spending its military money on a defensive navy as protection against the massive US navy firepower. It is also building a strong retaliatory defense as a first strike deterrent. If you want to talk about a threat, that is an undeniable one.

Within this context, to call China’s Navy expansion a threat is just hoaxing the American people to support an aggressive policy by the US to move into a first strike decapitation capability to threaten China.

As for why our own government would want to create a Neo Cold war against someone, the answer is the usual one. The uber wealth interests, who have their hooks deep inside our government, can see themselves making a shit load of military funding money ‘confronting China’, and also Russia, if the peacetime economy is looking dim for them.

NATO is doing a similar move pushing up to the Russian border via Ukraine. Then we have the US wanting the EU to be more dependent on US energy, not for their own security, but so we can have that advantage over them in a time of need.

And, there is the not discussed item that for Biden’s much hyped infrastructure spending to create high paying jobs here, US products based on such will be much less marketable overseas.

Biden needs a cover to always have sanctions put on China so Americans can’t buy Chinese, even if it is better, because sanctions run up the costs.

Economists have always warned that such contrived market moves fail in the long run.

But for countries with a huge military and unlimited borrowing power, which the super rich love, a slow peacetime trade market can always be replaced by a profitable war time market in a jiffy. Think false flag. You just have to press the right buttons… Jim W. Dean ]

First published … March 25, 2021

While the recently held QUAD summit-meeting did not mention China directly, there is little gainsaying that the basic thrust of the group is against China.

Although there are internal disagreements on whether to tackle China through military means or otherwise, or whether to keep this grouping strictly anti-China or not, the Biden administration has no doubts.

For them, the QUAD is a ‘Asia Pivot 2.0.’ and that the very survival of the US in Asia & the Pacific depends on selling a ‘China threat’ and subsequently placing itself as the primary bulwark against it; hence, the hurriedly done arrangements to hold QUAD’s first ever summit level meeting.

In other words, at the heart of Biden’s “China Strategy” is the imperative of rebuilding ties with allies in Asia & the Pacific, especially those frustrated by Trump’s policies, and then assembling a grand anti-China coalition.

Therefore, while the QUAD summit did not mention China as the rival, the so-called “The Spirit of the QUAD” is more than categorically specific about establishing a US led regime of rules governing Asia & the Pacific.

“The spirit” is about making the QUAD “strive for a region that is free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion.” As such, while the summit did not mention China, it still addressed China directly. Indeed, this was more about making China “hear.”

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently told a US Congress House Foreign Affairs Committee that

“the more China hears not just our opprobrium, but a course of opprobrium from around the world the better the chance that we’ll get some changes. We have a number of steps we have taken, or can take, going forward to include for those directly responsible for acts of genocide, gross human rights violations – sanctions, visa restrictions, etc.”

Again, while the QUAD summit was not overtly anti-China, the Biden administration’s follow up visits to Asia & the Pacific are very much focused on building and cementing anti-China alliance.

For instance, the US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Saturday March 13 that he was traveling to Asia to boost military cooperation with American allies and foster “credible deterrence” against China, adding that “China is our pacing threat” and that “Our goal is to make sure that we have the capabilities and the operational plans and concepts to be able to offer credible deterrence to China or anybody else who would want to take on the US”

Criticising the Trump administration’s ambivalent policies that concerned themselves with ‘trade war’ and ‘deal making’, Austin said while the US competitive edge has eroded, “We still maintain the edge and we’re going to increase the edge going forward.”

The key to increasing the edge is through alliances. It is the alliances that, as Austin emphasised, “give us a lot more capability and so one of the big things the Secretary of State and I want to do, is begin to strengthen those alliances — great alliances, great partnerships to begin with.” This will be the key to furthering US interests in Asia & the Pacific against China.

Accordingly, Austin’s visits to Japan and South Korea are most likely to focus on repairing the damaged done to their ties by the Trump administration.

While Japanese officials are sure to seek assurances from Austin that the US military would come to Japan’s aid in the event of a conflict with China over the Senkaku Islands, his time in Seoul is expected to be consumed with the question of whether to resume regular large-scale military exercises with South Korea, which Trump had abruptly cancelled. 

Already, the two countries have reached a cost-sharing agreement for stationing American troops in South Korea, a presence that Trump had also threatened to end.

Austin’s full-scale visit to Asia & the Pacific also includes India, another QUAD member and a country at its lowest point in relations with China in decades after deadly clashes last year. Austin’s visit, therefore, will be particularly focused on utilizing the existing tensions between India & China to the US’ advantage.

The US, as it stands, cannot let these opportunities un-utilized; for, such opportunities allow them [the US ] to inject themselves in conflict zones in ways that, instead of de-escalating tensions, serve US interests first and foremost. If the US needs India as an ally against China, it needs to convince the Modi regime that India’s survival against China demands partnership with the US.

Again, the fact that the Trump administration stood virtually aloof in the last year India-China border skirmishes did a great deal of damage to India’s belief about the extent to which it could rely on the US. Austin’s mission will be, first and foremost, focused on rebuilding India’s belief and assuring the Indian government of the inevitability of the US support for their survival against China.

There is little gainsaying that the core focus of the Biden administration’s foreign policy is China. This is evident not only from the first ever summit level meeting of the QUAD, but also from Lloyd Austin’s first ever overseas mission as the Pentagon Chief.

What it shows is that the Biden administration, which is still less than two months into the presidency, is in no hurry to change of the course of tense relations with Chain set by the Trump administration.

In fact, the Biden administration is not only building on the same tensions, but is also utilizing its relatively more “responsible”, more “democratic” and more “stable and predictable” outlook as compared to the previous administration to woo their somewhat estranged allies into a sort of “global coalition” that Mike Pompeo had sought, and failed, to build and lead.

Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

BIOGRAPHY

Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor

Managing Editor

Jim W. Dean is Managing Editor of Veterans Today involved in operations, development, and writing, plus an active schedule of TV and radio interviews. 

Read Full Complete Bio >>>

Jim W. Dean Archives 2009-2014https://www.veteranstoday.com/jim-w-dean-biography/jimwdean@aol.com

Washington’s Obsession with China Expands

March 25, 2021 (Brian Berletic – NEO) – Mid-March saw a series of events helping to measure with exactitude US foreign policy regarding China – a commitment to and a doubling down on a decades-long encirclement and containment policy that has – so far – failed to return on Washington’s immense investments in it. 

The first indicator was the new US administration of President Joe Biden continuing without even the slightest deviation Trump-era policy regarding the targeting and banning of Chinese companies. 

German state media – Deutsche Welle – in an article titled, “US designates Huawei, four other Chinese tech firms national security threats,” would note: 

The US has labeled five Chinese tech companies, including Huawei, as national security risks. President Joe Biden may be continuing his predcessor’s hardline stance against China’s growing technological dominance.

Evidence justifying US claims of Chinese companies presenting a national security risk to the US has never been produced – and it is clear that these claims are meant to justify what is otherwise merely America’s inability to compete with rising Chinese companies. Because, in addition to banning Chinese companies from doing business in the US – the US has sought to pressure nations around the globe to similarly deny market access to China. 

This is an ongoing bid to secure US market shares through threats and intimation rather than through innovation and competitive business strategies.  

Why two apparently “opposite” political candidates like Trump and Biden have indistinguishable foreign policies is easy to explain when considering these policies are generated and promoted by unelected corporate interests who influence US foreign policy regardless of who sits in either the White House or Congress. These are the very interests who see their market shares and the associated power and influence that comes from them under threat by rising Chinese competitors. Another indicator was US Secretary of State Anthony Bliken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s “tour” of the Indo-Pacific, including stops in South Korea and Japan. 

Foreign Policy magazine in an article titled, “Blinken and Austin in Japan to Bolster Asian Allies,” would claim: 

The Biden administration wants to prod Japan more on defense and resolve tensions between Tokyo and Seoul.

The article would cite an op-ed by Blinken and Austin in the Washington Post claiming: 

“Our combined power makes us stronger when we must push back against China’s aggression and threats,” Blinken and Austin wrote in a joint Washington Post op-ed, citing human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Tibet, and China’s pushback on freedoms in Taiwan and Hong Kong. “If we don’t act decisively and lead, Beijing will.”

The deeply flawed notion that the US should “lead” in Asia rather than China – a nation actually residing in the region – is at the root of US-Chinese tensions – tensions driven entirely by Washington’s unreasonable pursuit of unwarranted influence in – even primacy over the Indo-Pacific Region. Foreign Policy would also note: 

…there is growing concern about how to nudge a politically wary Japan to boost its missile defenses, while hardening the U.S. presence that’s increasingly vulnerable to improving Chinese missiles.

And that: 

Japan already has Aegis-class destroyers equipped with SM-3 missiles offshore, which the United States helped develop, and is a co-producer in the F-35 program. But last June, Tokyo canceled delivery of the U.S. Aegis Ashore missile system, a shore-based missile-defense system, pushing instead to develop a domestically produced solution. That’s another area where the Pentagon may press the Japanese.

SM-3 missiles used on Aegis-class destroyers as well as with Aegis Ashore systems are manufactured by Raytheon – an arms manufacturer Lloyd Austin sat on the board of directors of until being brought in as Biden’s Secretary of Defense. 

In essence, a former Raytheon director will be selling missiles for Raytheon in his official capacity as Secretary of Defense – and based on the supposed threat of China – the largest economy and most populous nation in the region – “leading” rather than the US. 

To paper over the corruption at the very core of US foreign policy – the US pursues a propaganda war against China – citing manufactured and patently false claims of “repression” and “abuse” everywhere from Hong Kong and Taiwan to Xinjiang and Tibet. 

A 2019 US State Department strategy paper titles, “A Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Advancing a Shared Vision,” would repeat these false claims, stating: 

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) practices repression at home and abroad. Beijing is intolerant of dissent, aggressively controls media and civil society, and brutally suppresses ethnic and religious minorities. Such practices, which Beijing exports to other countries through its political and economic influence, undermine the conditions that have promoted stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific for decades.

It is difficult to understand what “stability” and “prosperity” the US is referring to. 

It is amid China’s rise that the region enjoys unprecedented levels of both as well as accelerated development through projects built in cooperation with China – and all in stark contrast to the decades of war triggered by US interventions on the Korean Peninsula and all across Southeast Asia as part of its Vietnam War and adjacent military operations. 

These were conflicts that have left the region permanently scarred and in several instances – such as the residual impact of chemical weapons used in Vietnam or unexploded ordnance dropped by the US over nations like Laos – are still disfiguring and killing people to this day. 

Underneath this thin and peeling layer of US propaganda lies the truth of waning American primacy around the globe and the fundamental lack of interest by Washington and Wall Street to adjust US foreign policy toward a cooperative and constructive role among the nations of the world rather than unobtainable aspirations to dominate over all other nations. 

Brian Berletic is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.  

Sino-US Dialogue in Alaska: Outcomes.

Sino-US Dialogue in Alaska: Outcomes.

March 23, 2021

by Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

The first direct, high-level dialogue, under Joe Biden Administration, was held on 18-189 March 2021 in Anchorage, Alaska, USA. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Chinese Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the dialogue.

After welcoming the Chinese guests, Secretary of state Mr. Blinken accused China of many issues, including Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States, and economic coercion toward our allies. Each of these actions threatens the rules-based order that maintains global stability.

Director Yang responded that “What China and the international community follow or uphold is the United Nations-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law, not what is advocated by a small number of countries of the so-called rules-based international order. And the United States has its style — United States-style democracy –and China has the Chinese-style democracy. It is not just up to the American people, but also the people of the World, to evaluate how the United States has advanced its own democracy. After decades of reform and opening up in China’s case, we have come a long way in various fields. In particular, we have engaged in tireless efforts to contribute to the peace and development of the World and to upholding the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter.”

“The wars in this World are launched by some other countries, which have resulted in massive casualties. But for China, what we have asked for, for other countries, is to follow a path of peaceful development, which is the purpose of our foreign policy. We do not believe in invading through the use of force, in toppling other regimes through various means, or massacring other countries’ people because all of those would only cause turmoil and instability in this World. And at the end of the day, all of those would not serve the United States well. So we believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image and stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the World. Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States, and they have various views regarding the government of the United States. In China, according to opinion polls, China’s leaders have the wide support of the Chinese people. So no attempt to — the opinion polls conducted in the United States show that China’s leaders have the support of the Chinese people. No attempt to smear China’s social system would get anywhere. Facts have shown that such practices would only lead the Chinese people to rally more closely around the Communist Party of China and work steadily towards the goals that we have set for ourselves.”

“Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan are an inalienable part of China’s territory. China is firmly opposed to U.S. interference in China’s internal affairs. We have expressed our staunch opposition to such interference, and we will take firm actions in response. On human rights, we hope that the United States will do better on human rights. China has made steady progress in human rights, and the fact is that there are many problems within the United States regarding human rights, which is admitted by the U.S. itself as well. The United States has also said that countries can’t rely on force in today’s World to resolve the challenges we face. And it is a failure to use various means to topple the so-called authoritarian states. And the challenges facing the United States in human rights are deep-seated. They did not just emerge over the past four years, such as Black Lives Matter. It did not come up only recently. So we do hope that for our two countries, it’s important that we manage our respective affairs well instead of deflecting the blame on somebody else in this World. We’ve had a confrontation in the past, and the result did not serve the United States well. China will pull through and has pulled through such confrontation.”

Outcomes:

China availing this opportunity has conveyed that China will not accept U.S. supremacy and will not accept dictation. China will not allow any country to interfere in its domestic issues. Generally speaking, the Chinese are well-mannered, polite, submissive, and friendly people. It seems that the U.S. has crossed all the limits where China have to take a firm and blunt stand and express their point of view so clearly. It is up to the U.S. administration to analyze the Chinese response and do their homework before meeting them again.

The World has conceived well that the U.S. can not sustain its hegemony anymore. It is no longer a unipolar world, and the U.S. is no longer a unique superpower. The U.S. needs to understand the emerging geopolitics and have to accept realities. It might need to share power with other rising nations and respect them. The U.S. must keep in mind the existence of other emerging nations’ potential while making any decision.

It is an established fact that the U.S., after enjoying the global leadership role for seven decades, may not sustain this status anymore. The U.S. is on the decline and, with every passing day, may decline further. Whereas China is a rising power and, with the passage of each day, may grow further. The time is on the Chinese side. If Americans are wise, they might give up confronting China and extend cooperation to be the beneficiary of Chinse rise. There exists enormous goodwill about America among the general public in China.

The American claim of promoting democracy and the law-based rule is no more trusted as the Americans are a supporter of all dictators in the oil-rich Gulf countries in the Middle-East. The U.S. was behind the toppling of the democratically elected legitimate Government of Mr. Adil Morsey in Egypt. Again, it was the U.S. who was among the first nations to support the dictator General Sissi in Egypt. American history is full of supporting dictators around the globe. Regarding law-based rule, it is just a joke. It was the U.S. that destroyed Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.

Under the Trump Administration, America was deteriorated in respect of human rights violations, hate among various ethnicities in America. And official discriminatory laws were introduced against Muslims; immigration laws were biased. The pandemic was mismanaged, the economy was collapsed. President Trump harmed America so severely that it might take several decades to recover such losses. President Trump has offended some of his close allies too.

President Joe Biden’s remarks about President Putin were misconceived and may spoil the geopolitics further. More tensions between Russia and the U.S. are predictable visibly. It may cement China-Russia relations further.

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

Welcome to shocked and awed 21st century geopolitics

Welcome to shocked and awed 21st century geopolitics

March 23, 2021

With a Russia-China-Iran triple bitch slap on the hegemon, we now have a brand new geopolitical chessboard

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

It took 18 years after Shock and Awe unleashed on Iraq for the Hegemon to be mercilessly shocked and awed by a virtually simultaneous, diplomatic Russia-China one-two.

How this is a real game-changing moment cannot be emphasized enough; 21st century geopolitics will never be the same again.

Yet it was the Hegemon who first crossed the diplomatic Rubicon. The handlers behind hologram Joe “I’ll do whatever you want me to do, Nance” Biden had whispered in his earpiece to brand Russian President Vladimir Putin as a soulless “killer” in the middle of a softball interview.

Not even at the height of the Cold War the superpowers resorted to ad hominem attacks. The result of such an astonishing blunder was to regiment virtually the whole Russian population behind Putin – because that was perceived as an attack against the Russian state.

Then came Putin’s cool, calm, collected – and quite diplomatic – response, which needs to be carefully pondered. These sharp as a dagger words are arguably the most devastatingly powerful five minutes in the history of post-truth international relations.

In For Leviathan, it’s so cold in Alaska, we forecasted what could take place in the US-China 2+2 summit at a shabby hotel in Anchorage, with cheap bowls of instant noodles thrown in as extra bonus.

China’s millennial diplomatic protocol establishes that discussions start around common ground – which are then extolled as being more important than disagreements between negotiating parties. That’s at the heart of the concept of “no loss of face”. Only afterwards the parties discuss their differences.

Yet it was totally predictable that a bunch of amateurish, tactless and clueless Americans would smash those basic diplomatic rules to show “strength” to their home crowd, distilling the proverbial litany on Taiwan, Hong Kong, South China Sea, “genocide” of Uighurs.

Oh dear. There was not a single State Dept. hack with minimal knowledge of East Asia to warn the amateurs you don’t mess with the formidable head of the Foreign Affairs Commission at the CCP’s Central Committee, Yang Jiechi, with impunity.

Visibly startled, but controlling his exasperation, Yang Jiechi struck back. And the rhetorical shots were heard around the whole Global South.

They had to include a basic lesson in manners: “If you want to deal with us properly, let’s have some mutual respect and do things the right way”. But what stood out was a stinging, concise diagnostic blending history and politics:

The United States is not qualified to talk to China in a condescending manner. The Chinese people will not accept that. It must be based on mutual respect to deal with China, and history will prove that those who seek to strangle China will suffer in the end.

And all that translated in real time by young, attractive and ultra-skilled Zhang Jing – who inevitably became an overnight superstar in China, reaping an astonishing 400 million plus hits on Weibo.

The incompetence of the “diplomatic” arm of the Biden-Harris administration beggars belief. Using a basic Sun Tzu maneuver, Yang Jiechi turned the tables and voiced the predominant sentiment of the overwhelming majority of the planet. Stuff your unilateral “rules-based order”. We, the nations of the world, privilege the UN charter and the primacy of international law.

So this is what the Russia-China one-two achieved almost instantaneously: from now on, the Hegemon should be treated, all across the Global South with, at best, disdain.

An inevitable historical process

Pre-Alaska, the Americans went on a charming offensive in Japan and South Korea for “consultations”. That’s irrelevant. What matters is post-Alaska, and the crucial Sergey Lavrov-Wang Yi meeting of Foreign Ministers in Guilin.

Lavrov, always unflappable, clarified in an interview with Chinese media how the Russia-China strategic partnership sees the current US diplomatic train wreck:

As a matter of fact, they have largely lost the skill of classical diplomacy. Diplomacy is about relations between people, the ability to listen to each other, to hear one another and to strike a balance between competing interests. These are exactly the values ​​that Russia and China are promoting in diplomacy.

The inevitable consequence is that Russia-China must “consolidate our independence: “The United States has declared limiting the advance of technology in Russia and China as its goal. So, we must reduce our exposure to sanctions by strengthening our technological independence and switching to settlements in national and international currencies other than the dollar. We need to move away from using Western-controlled international payment systems.”

Russia-China have clearly identified, as Lavrov pointed out, how the “Western partners” are “promoting their ideology-driven agenda aimed at preserving their dominance by holding back progress in other countries. Their policies run counter to the objective international developments and, as they used to say at some point, are on the wrong side of history. The historical process will come into its own, no matter what happens.”

As a stark presentation of an inevitable “historical process”, it doesn’t get more crystal clear than that. And predictably, it didn’t take time for the “Western partners” to fall back into – what else – their same old sanction bag of tricks.

Here we go again: a US, UK, EU, Canada “alliance” sanctioning selected Chinese officials because, in Blinken’s words, “the PRC [People’s Republic of China] continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.”

The EU, UK, and Canada didn’t have the guts to sanction a key player: Xinjiang party chief Chen Quanguo, who’s a Politburo member. The Chinese response would have been – economically – devastating.

Still, Beijing counterpunched with its own sanctions – targeting, crucially, the German far-right evangelical nut posing as “scholar” who produced the bulk of the completely debunked “proof” of a million Uighurs held in concentration camps.

Once again, the “Western partners” are impermeable to logic. Adding to the already appalling state of EU-Russia relations, Brussels chooses to also antagonize China based on a single fake dossier, playing right into the Hegemon’s not exactly secret Divide and Rule agenda.

Mission (nearly) accomplished: Brussels diplomats tell me the EU Parliament is all but set to refuse to ratify the China-EU trade deal painstakingly negotiated by Merkel and Macron. The consequences will be immense.

So Blinken will have reasons to be cheerful when he meets assorted eurocrats and NATO bureaucrats this week, ahead of the NATO summit.

One has to applaud the gall of the “Western partners”. It’s 18 years since Shock and Awe – the start of the bombing, invasion and destruction of Iraq. It’s 10 years since the start of the total destruction of Libya by NATO and its GCC minions, with Obama-Biden “leading from behind”. It’s 10 years since the start of the savage destruction of Syria by proxy – complete with jihadis disguised as “moderate rebels”.

Yet now the “Western partners” are so mortified by the plight of Muslims in Western China.

At least there are some cracks within the EU illusionist circus. Last week, the French Armed Forces Joint Reflection Circle (CRI) – in fact an independent think tank of former high officers – wrote a startling open letter to cardboard NATO secretary-general Stoltenberg de facto accusing him of behaving as an American stooge with the implementation of NATO 2030 plan. The French officers drew the correct conclusion: the US/NATO combo is the main cause of appalling relations with Russia.

These Ides of March

Meanwhile, sanctions hysteria advance like a runaway train. Biden-Harris has already threatened to impose extra sanctions on Chinese oil imports from Iran. And there’s more in the pipeline – on manufacturing, technology, 5G, supply chains, semiconductors.

And yet nobody is trembling in their boots. Right on cue with Russia-China, Iran has stepped up the game, with Ayatollah Khamenei issuing the guidelines for Tehran’s return to the JCPOA.

1. The US regime is in no position to make new demands or changes regarding the nuclear deal.

2. The US is weaker today than when the JCPOA was signed.

3. Iran is in a stronger position now. If anyone can impose new demands it’s Iran and not the US.

And with that we have a Russia-China-Iran triple bitch slap on the Hegemon.

In our latest conversation/interview, to be released soon in a video + transcript package, Michael Hudson – arguably the world’s top economist – hit the heart of the matter:

The fight against China, the fear of China is that you can’t do to China, what you did to Russia. America would love for there to be a Yeltsin figure in China to say, let’s just give all of the railroads that you’ve built, the high-speed rail, let’s give the wealth, let’s give all the factories to individuals and let the individuals run everything and, then we’ll lend them the money, or we’ll buy them out and then we can control them financially. And China’s not letting that happen. And Russia stopped that from happening. And the fury in the West is that somehow, the American financial system is unable to take over foreign resources, foreign agriculture. It is left only with military means of grabbing them as we are seeing in the near East. And you’re seeing in the Ukraine right now.

To be continued. As it stands, we should all make sure that the Ides of March – the 2021 version – have already configured a brand new geopolitical chessboard. The Russia-China Double Helix on high-speed rail has left the station – and there’s no turning back.

Tense U.S.-China Talks End With No Breakthroughs “نيويورك تايمز”: قضايا صعبة في المحادثات الأميركية الصينية

The negotiations, held in Alaska, featured rocky exchanges between Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and his Chinese counterpart. A former Green Beret was charged with attacking multiple officers during the Capitol riot.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, left, said that U.S. officials had raised numerous issues with their Chinese counterparts.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, left, said that U.S. officials had raised numerous issues with their Chinese counterparts.Credit…Pool photo by Frederic J. Brown

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — American diplomats ended a fraught round of high-level talks with Chinese officials in Alaska on Friday with no major diplomatic breakthroughs, and acknowledged that a tense relationship lies ahead for Washington and Beijing.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said that U.S. officials had raised numerous issues with their Chinese counterparts — including human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, the status of Tibet and Taiwan, and cybersecurity — which caused tension.

“We certainly know, and knew going in, that there are a number of areas where we are fundamentally at odds,” Mr. Blinken said, adding that “it’s no surprise that when we raised those issues,” U.S. officials “got a defensive response.”

Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, said that American officials had expected the talks to be difficult, and that the delegation had laid out its priorities for how the Biden administration would approach diplomatic relations with Beijing.

“We were cleareyed coming in, we’re cleareyed coming out,” Mr. Sullivan said, “and we will go back to Washington to take stock of where we are.”

In setting up the two days of discussions, the Biden administration had sought to build a baseline for its approach to China, one that officials have said would be grounded in competition but leave space for cooperation or confrontation with Beijing when necessary.

But they kicked off Thursday afternoon with more than an hour of heated accusations passing between Mr. Blinken and his Chinese counterpart, a rocky exchange that played out in front of TV cameras and threw into doubt any prospect of their geopolitical rivalry softening.

Yang Jiechi, China’s top diplomat, accused the United States of taking a “condescending” approach to the talks and said the American delegation had no right to accuse Beijing of human rights abuses or give lectures on the merits of democracy.

At one point, he said the United States would do well to repair its own “deep seated” problems, specifically pointing to the Black Lives Matter movement against American racism. At another, after it looked as if the opening remarks had concluded and journalists were initially told to leave the room to let the deeper discussions begin, Mr. Yang accused the United States of being inconsistent in its championing of a free press.

Mr. Blinken appeared taken aback but tried to keep the discussion on an even keel. He had opened the talks by asserting a goal to “strengthen the rules-based international order.”

It is now unclear how much cooperation between the two nations will be possible, although that will be necessary to achieve a host of shared goals, including controlling the pandemic, combating climate change, and limiting Iran’s nuclear program and North Korea’s weapons systems.

— Lara Jakes and Pranshu Verma

Related

“نيويورك تايمز”: قضايا صعبة في المحادثات الأميركية الصينية

لارا جاكس

المصدر: نيويورك تايمز

19 آذار 11:15

تنتقل واشنطن إلى موقف أكثر تنافسية مع الصين، لمواجهة دبلوماسيتها حول العالم وضمان عدم حصول بكين على ميزة دائمة في التكنولوجيا الحيوية.

وزير الخارجية الأميركي أنتوني بلينكن يتلقي مسؤولين صينيين لمحاولة تحسين العلاقات الثنائية المتوترة.
بلينكن يتلقي مسؤولين صينيين لمحاولة تحسين العلاقات الثنائية المتوترة.

قالت صحيفة “نيويورك تايمز” الأميركية إن التحول الحاد للرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن في سياسة الولايات المتحدة تجاه الصين يطرح قضايا صعبة على الطاولة اليوم في أول اجتماع كبير بين كبار المسؤولين من إدارته ونظرائهم الصينيين.

وأضافت الصحيفة أن وزير الخارجية الأميركي أنطوني بلينكين ومستشار الأمن القومي الأميركي جيك سوليفان سيلتقيان اليوم مع اثنين من كبار الدبلوماسيين الصينيين، عضو مجلس الدولة وانغ يي ورئيس الشؤون الخارجية للحزب الشيوعي الصيني يانغ جيتشي، في مدينة أنكوريج في ألاسكا، حيث من المحتمل أن تتمحور محادثاتهم حول هونغ كونغ، ووضع تايوان ومزاعم قمع الصين للمسلمين الأويغور.

وأوضحت الصحيفة أن الولايات المتحدة إلى تنتقل إلى موقف أكثر تنافسية مع الصين، لمواجهة دبلوماسيتها حول العالم وضمان عدم حصول بكين على ميزة دائمة في التكنولوجيا الحيوية.

وأشارت “نيويورك تايمز” إلى أن إدارة بايدن تعمل على جمع الحلفاء، ولا سيما اليابان وكوريا الجنوبية والهند وأستراليا، لصياغة استراتيجية مشتركة في آسيا.

فمن وجهة نظر الصين، سيكون الاجتماع أول دليل على عزم بكين على الوقوف في وجه الإدارة الجديدة. وكان المسؤولون الصينيون يركزون على تعزيز قوة بلادهم، حيث يبتعد الزعيم الصيني، شي جينبينغ، بشكل متزايد عن الاعتماد على الآخرين.

وأبلغ سفير الصين لدى الولايات المتحدة كوي تيانكاي وسائل الإعلام الصينية أن بلاده “لا تتوقع حواراً واحداً لحل جميع القضايا بين الجانبين”، لكنه يأمل أن يؤدي ذلك إلى بدء حوار بناء.

وقالت وكالة شينخوا الصينية إن الصين والولايات المتحدة تعقدان حواراً استراتيجياً رفيع المستوى يومي الخميس والجمعة في مدينة أنكوراج بولاية ألاسكا الأميركية، معتبرة أنها ستكون هذه أول محادثات مباشرة بين كبار الدبلوماسيين الصينيين والأميركيين منذ تولي الرئيس جو بايدن رئاسة الولايات المتحدة.

ونقلت الوكالة عن الخبراء قولهم إن أحد أسباب عقد الاجتماع في ألاسكا هو موقعها. إذ تقع ألاسكا في منتصف الطريق بين بكين وواشنطن العاصمة، وهذا يعني حرفياً أن الجانبين يلتقيان في منتصف الطريق.

نقله إلى العربية: الميادين نت

For Leviathan, it’s so cold in Alaska

For Leviathan, it’s so cold in Alaska

March 18, 2021

Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi will seek to make shark’s fin soup out of Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan at the Anchorage summit

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

Leviathan seems to be positioning itself for a geopolitical Kill Bill rampage – yet brandishing a rusty samurai high-carbon-steel sword.

Predictably, US deep state masters have not factored in that they could eventually be neutralized by a geopolitical Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique.

In a searing, concise essay, Alastair Crooke pointed to the heart of the matter. These are the two key insights – including a nifty Orwellian allusion:

1. “Once control over the justifying myth of America was lost, the mask was off.”

2. “The US thinks to lead the maritime and rimland powers in imposing a searing psychological, technological and economic defeat on the Russia-China-Iran alliance. In the past, the outcome might have been predictable. This time Eurasia may very well stand solid against a weakened Oceania (and a faint-hearted Europe).”

And that brings us to two interconnected summits: the Quad and the China-US 2+2 in Alaska.

The virtual Quad last Friday came and went like a drifting cloud. When you had India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the Quad is “a force for global good,” no wonder rows of eyebrows across the Global South were raised.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi remarked last year that the Quad was part of a drive to create an “Asian NATO.”

It is. But the hegemon, lording over India, Japan and Australia, mustn’t spell it out. Thus the vague rhetoric about “free and open Indo-Pacific,” “democratic values,” “territorial integrity” – all code to characterize containment of China, especially in the South China Sea.

The exceptionalist wet dream – routinely expressed in US Thinktankland – is to position an array of missiles in the first island chain, pointing towards China like a weaponized porcupine. Beijing is very much aware of it.

Apart from a meek joint statement, the Quad promised to deliver 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines throughout the “Indo-Pacific” by the end of… 2022.

The vaccine would be produced by India and financed by the US and Japan, with the logistics of distribution coming from Australia.

That was predictably billed as “countering China’s influence in the region.” Too little, too late. The bottom line is: The hegemon is furious because China’s vaccine diplomacy is a huge success – not only across Asia but all across the Global South.

This ain’t no ‘strategic dialogue’

US Secretary of State Tony Blinken is a mere apparatchik who was an enthusiastic cheerleader for shock and awe against Iraq 18 years ago, in 2003. At the time he was staff director for the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then chaired by Senator Joe Biden.

Now Blinken is running US foreign policy for a senile cardboard entity who mutters, live, on camera, “I’ll do whatever you want me to do, Nance” – as in Nancy Pelosi; and who characterizes the Russian president as “a killer,” “without a soul,” who will “pay a price.”

Paraphrasing Pulp Fiction: “Diplomacy’s dead, baby. Diplomacy’s dead.”

With that in mind, there’s little doubt that the formidable Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, side by side with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, will make shark’s fin soup out of their interlocutors Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the 2+2 summit in Anchorage, Alaska.

Only two days before the start of the Two Sessions in Beijing, Blinken proclaimed that China is the “biggest geopolitical challenge of the 21st century.”

According to Blinken, China is the “only country with the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system – all the rules, values and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to, because it ultimately serves the interests and reflects the values of the American people.”

So Blinken tacitly admits what really matters is how the world works “the way we want it to” – “we” being the hegemon, which made those rules in the first place. And those rules serve the interests and reflect the values of the American people. As in: It’s our way or the highway.

Blinken could be excused because he’s just a wide-eyed novice on the big stage. But it gets way more embarrassing.

Here’s his foreign policy in a nutshell (“his” because the hologram at the White House needs 24/7 instructions in his earpiece to even know what time it is):

Sanctions, sanctions everywhere; Cold War 2.0 against Russia and “killer” Putin; China guilty of “genocide” in Xinjiang; a notorious apartheid state getting a free pass to do anything; Iran must blink first or there’s no return to the JCPOA; Random Guaido recognized as President of Venezuela, with regime change still the priority.

There’s a curious kabuki in play here. Following the proverbial revolving door logic in DC, before literally crossing the street to have full access to the White House, Blinken was a founding partner of WestExec Advisorswhose main line of business is to offer “geopolitical and policy expertise” to American multinationals, the overwhelming majority of which are interested in – where else – China.

So Alaska might point to some measure of trade-off on trade. The problem, though, seems insurmountable. Beijing does not want to eschew the profitable American market, while for Washington expansion of Chinese technology across the West is anathema.

Blinken himself pre-empted Alaska, saying this is no “strategic dialogue.” So we’re back to bolstering the Indo-Pacific racket; recriminations about the “loss of freedom” in Hong Kong – whose role of US/UK Fifth Column is now definitely over; Tibet; and the “invasion” of Taiwan, now on spin overdrive, with the Pentagon stating it is “probable” before 2027.

“Strategic dialogue” it ain’t.

A junkie on a bum trip

Wang Yi, at a press conference linked to the 13th National People’s Congress and the announcement of the next Five-Year Plan, said: “We will set an example of strategic mutual trust, by firmly supporting each other in upholding core and major interests, jointly opposing ‘color revolution’ and countering disinformation, and safeguarding national sovereignty and political security.”

That’s a sharp contrast with the post-truth “highly likely” school of spin privileged by (failed) Russiagate peddlers and assorted Sinophobes.

Top Chinese scholar Wang Jisi, who used to be close to the late Ezra Vogel, author of arguably the best Deng Xiaoping biography in English, has introduced an extra measure of sanity, recalling Vogel’s emphasis on the necessity of US and East Asia understanding each other’s culture.

According to Wang Jisi, “In my own experiences, I find one difference between the two countries most illuminating. We in China like the idea of “seeking common ground while reserving our differences.” We state that the common interests between our two countries far exceed our differences. We define common ground by a set of principles like mutual respect and cooperation. Americans, in contrast, tend to focus on hard issues like tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea. It looks that the Chinese want to set up principles before trying to solve specific problems, but the Americans are eager to deal with problems before they are ready to improve the relationship.”

The real problem is that the hegemon seems congenitally incapable of trying to understand the Other. It always harks back to that notorious formulation by Zbigniew Brzezinski, with trademark imperial arrogance, in his 1997 magnum opus The Grand Chessboard:

“To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected and to keep the barbarians from coming together.”

Dr Zbig was referring, of course, to Eurasia. “Security dependence among vassals” applied mostly to Germany and Japan, key hubs in the Rimland.  “Tributaries pliant and protected” applied mostly to the Middle East.

And crucially, “keep the barbarians from coming together” applied to Russia, China and Iran. That was Pax Americana in a nutshell. And that’s what’s totally unraveling now.

Hence the Kill Bill logic. It goes back a long way. Less than two months after the collapse of the USSR, the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance preached total global dominance and, following Dr Zbig, the absolute imperative of preventing the emergence of any future peer competitor.

Especially Russia, defined as “the only power in the world with the capacity of destroying the United States.”

Then, in 2002, at the start of the “axis of evil” era, came the full spectrum dominance doctrine as the bedrock of the US National Security Strategy. Domination, domination everywhere: terrestrial, aerial, maritime, subterranean, cosmic, psychological, biological, cyber-technological.

And, not by accident, the Indo-Pacific strategy – which guides the Quad – is all about “how to maintain US strategic primacy.”

This mindset is what enables US Think Tankland to formulate risible “analyses” in which the only “win” for the US imperatively requires a failed Chinese “regime.”

After all, Leviathan is congenitally incapable of accepting a “win-win”; it only runs on “zero-sum,” based on divide and rule.

And that’s what’s leading the Russia-China strategic partnership to progressively establish a wide-ranging, comprehensive security environment, spanning everything from high-tech weaponry to banking and finance, energy supplies and the flow of information.

To evoke yet another pop culture gem, a discombobulated Leviathan now is like Caroline, the junkie depicted in Lou Reed’s Berlin:

But she’s not afraid to die / All of her friends call her Alaska / When she takes speed / They laugh and ask her / What is in her mind / What is in her mind / She put her fist through the window pane / It was such a / funny feeling / It’s so cold / in Alaska.

U.S. Paves Way for Intervention in Ethiopia, Horn of Africa

Finian Cunningham

March 12, 2021

USAID – with an annual budget of over $27 billion and operating in over 100 countries – is notoriously intertwined with covert operations run by the CIA, Finian Cunningham writes.

An ominous development underway in Ethiopia’s devastating civil war is the intervention by the United States under the pretext of humanitarian relief.

The U.S.’ international aid agency – USAID – announced last week it has deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) in the northern Tigray region where millions of people are facing starvation.

A humanitarian crisis has been created in Ethiopia after the central government in Addis Ababa launched a military offensive against the Tigray region in November last year. Heavy fighting continues between Tigray militia and the Ethiopian National Defense Force. The Ethiopian government forces are being assisted by Eritrean troops which have invaded Tigray. There are reports of widespread violations against civilians.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in a phone call on February 27 to open up Tigray to humanitarian access and he expressed deep concern over possible war crimes. Washington then promptly deployed the USAID intervention apparently without authorization from the Ethiopian federal government.

The American move came despite a row during a closed meeting at the UN Security Council last week when it is understood that Russia and China objected to U.S. intervention plans in Ethiopia, which they said was over-riding legal processes and issues of national sovereignty.

USAID said its disaster response team is “assessing the situation in Tigray, identifying priority needs for the scaling up of relief efforts”. Given the dire humanitarian and security situation in Ethiopia that provision is logically paving the way for a major U.S. military intervention under the guise of the “right to protect” (R2P) presumption which has been unilaterally invoked by Washington in other conflicts.

President Joe Biden has picked Samantha Power as the new head of USAID. The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a former national security advisor to President Barack Obama, Power is a stalwart proponent of R2P foreign interventions. Biden also wants to make Power a member of his national security council.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is, like Power, another staunch advocate of “humanitarian interventions”. They were senior members of the Obama administration who formulated American military interventions in Libya and Syria. The “humanitarian” remit is rightly seen as a cynical moral cover for what would otherwise be condemned as American military aggression to achieve Washington’s own political objectives, such as regime change.

USAID – with an annual budget of over $27 billion and operating in over 100 countries – is notoriously intertwined with covert operations run by the CIA.

The damnable thing about Ethiopia’s current crisis is that arguably it was provoked by the United States from its geopolitical ambitions to control the Horn of Africa region and in particular to cut out China and Russia from this strategically important global hub.

Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed worked previously as a top military intelligence officer in the Ethiopian army before he became prime minister in early 2018. A long-time bilateral security partnership between the U.S. and Ethiopia made Abiy an ideal CIA asset. He was involved in developing Ethiopia’s telecom spying network in a replication of the National Security Agency in the U.S.. He was also educated at a private American university.

Before Abiy’s rise to political power, Ethiopia had an independent policy on foreign relations, pursuing strategic partnership with China for economic development. Ethiopia – the second most populous country in Africa and home to the African Union – was seen as a crucial link in building China’s new silk routes from Asia to Africa.

Oddly, Abiy was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at the end of 2019 for a supposed rapprochement with Ethiopia’s northern neighbor Eritrea. The two countries fought a bitter border war in 1998-2000. In hindsight, the award was a travesty given how Abiy has invited Eritrean troops into Tigray to wage war against the civilian population there, committing horrendous massacres.

But the Nobel prize can be seen as part of Abiy’s image-building by his CIA handlers for their objective of reordering Ethiopia. Tellingly, the Western media during his early months in office gushed with praise about the “young democratic reformer” and “peacemaker”. How foolish and fawning those media look now in light of the mayhem and suffering that Abiy unleashed in Tigray over the past four months.

In truth the war was building ever since Abiy took office. Almost from the get-go, there was a campaign of low-intensity aggression directed against the Tigray region. (This author was living there.) This was while the Western media were hailing him as a “reformer”. Abiy’s campaign of hostility towards Tigray involved the central government cutting electricity, water and communications as well as political assassinations. The purpose was to wear down the region and the people’s support for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front which had been the previous dominant governing party before Abiy’s ascent. The Tigray region represented a bastion of opposition to the plan by Abiy and his CIA handlers to refashion and reorient Ethiopia geopolitically. The power struggle culminated in the full-blown war launched against Tigray on November 4, 2020, under false claims of being a security operation against a “terrorist junta”.

The terrible irony is that the war and humanitarian crisis inflicted on six million people in Tigray was predictable because Abiy seems to have been following an American imperial plan to destabilize Ethiopia for boosting its great power rivalry with China and Russia. The Horn of Africa is a geopolitical hotspot: it provides a commanding position for North Africa and Sub-Saharan mineral-rich countries, overlooking the vital shipping lanes of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, and proximate to the oil-rich Arabian Peninsula. Russia last year opened a naval base in Port Sudan on the Red Sea, while China’s only overseas military base is located in Djibouti adjacent to Ethiopia.

Now humanitarian interventionists in the Biden administration are stepping in to “resolve” a mess that the U.S. was instrumental in creating. If the USAID mission is scaled up, as seems intended, then American military could be deployed in Ethiopia giving Washington an unprecedented foothold in a strategically vital region.

It is notable that while the Biden administration seems to be over-riding the authority of the Abiy regime in Addis Ababa, the American objective does not necessarily seek regime change on this occasion. The Biden administration is promoting itself as a mediator in Ethiopia’s civil war, even though this war would not have come about were it not for America’s covert manipulation of Abiy. Recently, the Tigray militia have appeared to be gaining the upper-hand against Abiy’s forces and their Eritrean allies. The American intervention seems prompted in part by concern in Washington to prevent the Abiy regime collapsing in defeat.

Blinken Talks the Talk, but Will He Walk the Walk?

During his 24 years as a senior foreign correspondent for The Washington Times and United Press International, Martin Sieff reported from more than 70 nations and covered 12 wars. He has specialized in US and global economic issues.

Martin Sieff

March 8, 2021

Biden has so far made no move whatsoever to rein in the continued bold and potentially very dangerous US military exercises with allies right up to the very borders of Russia.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s March 3 speech at the US State Department should be warmly welcomed around the world, especially in Caracas and Tehran: It does indeed mark a highly significant shift in US foreign policy and deserves to be taken at face value: But it does not address fundamental policy conflicts with Russia and China that Biden inherited from his predecessors – and not just Donald Trump. And it is these far bigger, unaddressed issues that may very well yet propel the world into a nightmarish thermonuclear war.

Blinken in his speech made an acknowledgement that his predecessors Mike Pompeo, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton would never have been capable of – and that John Kerry was never allowed to admit.

Blinken openly admitted that there had been US efforts to topple governments by force that Washington was critical of. He further openly acknowledged that some of those efforts had failed and that they had badly discredited the cause of democracy and the United States itself around the world.

“We will incentivize democratic behavior, but we will not promote democracy through costly military interventions or by attempting to overthrow authoritarian regimes by force. We tried these tactics in the past. …they haven’t worked. They have given democracy promotion a bad name and they have lost the confidence of the American people. We will do things differently,” Blinken said.

There is every reason to believe that Blinken was sincere in his commitment to forswear efforts at regime change in both Iran and Venezuela.

First, the very day before his important speech, Blinken held a telephone conversation with Venezuelan opposition politician Juan Guaido, whom Trump, Pompeo and then National Security Adviser John Bolton farcically tried to promote as the legitimate president of Venezuela. US allies around the world, especially in Europe and Latin America have been humiliatingly led by the nose to publicly support this absurd contention, akin to incredibility to claiming that Venezuela’s great Angel Falls flow up not down, or that the World is Flat.

No details of what Blinken discussed with Guaido have yet emerged at this time of writing but it is very clear what the secretary of state’s message was: Like so many previous corrupt and vanity-filled dupes eager to grab the coattails of America’s imagined New Rome global imperium, Guaido was told he was going to be thrown under the bus.

This move is clearly demanded by US pragmatic interests. If there is one lesson that Wall Street and its US government servants have followed for the past 150 years since the rise of John D. Rockefeller and J. P Morgan: It is to back Winners and throw Hopeless Losers to the wolves.

Guaido certainly counts as a Hopeless Loser: He has gained no discernible political, popular or military support within Venezuela, despite the continuing suffering caused by the ongoing US economic war launched against Caracas by President Joe Biden’s old boss and close friend Barack Obama in 2014 and then enthusiastically intensified by Trump and Pompeo.

Does that mean the economic war against Venezuela will end? Certainly not. Blinken himself, like his master, President Biden supported it 100 percent during the Obama administration. And the new administration, already the source of Republican wrath for its domestic economic and social policies, will not casually open up a new front where it can be attacked as wimps.

Like brutalized children, liberal Democrats have been terrified of such accusations ever since Senator Joe McCarthy accused them of “losing China ” (China was never theirs to lose) and being soft on communism back in 1950.

Also, ending the economic war on Venezuela would require decisive and original action and Blinken, like Biden and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, has owed his long, slow, steady rise precisely to following the golden rule of liberal Democrats since the days of party presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s: Never take a strong, sustained position on anything , good or bad. Even when you see a policy is leading you off the edge of a cliff, just slow it down a bit and still tumble over the cliff to your political doom. Never dare to actually stop, or reverse any disastrous course of action.

These simple principles determined the endless foreign policy fiascos of Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama and even to some degree Bill Clinton.

Clinton was led by the nose, though reluctantly, to bomb Serbia and risk needless confrontation with Russia by his secretary of state Madeleine Albright and her lifelong mentor, Russia-phobic former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Blinken’s foreswearing of any effort at direct regime change therefore appears to be part of a policy that while initially appearing moderate will never lead to anything truly constructive.

Blinken, like Biden and Sullivan, wants to restore US participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran for no better reason than that they all supported it and helped negotiate it in the first place for Obama.

However, the new administration has already made clear it does not dare risk driving Saudi Arabia into China or Russia’s arms. Blinken’s speech may indeed lead to the return of US participation in the JCPOA, something America ‘s European allies and the Iranians would both welcome. But it looks unlikely so far to lead to anything else.

Also, so far, Biden has so far made no move whatsoever to rein in the continued bold and potentially very dangerous US military exercises with allies right up to the very borders of Russia. Yet if these moves had been carried out by the Russian Air Force and Navy off the shores or close to the territories of the United States, they would provoke complete outrage.

Similarly, the US armed forces are plunging ahead, secure in both administration and bipartisan congressional support, to step up military deployments in the Western Pacific openly proclaimed as containing China within the two Island Chains of the great ocean.

Blinken’s speech should indeed be welcomed as a positive first step towards reducing global tensions: But it is far too early to celebrate whether he will continue to walk the walk even while he talks the talk.

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

moi

Eva Bartlett

Mar 4, 2021, RT.com

Venezuelan non-president, Juan Guaido, is back in headlines after the new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called him to discuss America’s favorite talking points: “a return to democracy” via “free and fair elections.”

I’m sure the irony will not be lost on those who question the legitimacy of the US election that saw Biden take power.

Anyway, you would have to have been offline or in a coma for the past couple of years to not be aware of some key facts about ‘interim president’ Guaido and US “concern” for Venezuelans.

Venezuelans didn’t vote for Guaido to be president, he hasn’t even stood for president. Venezuelans voted for Maduro. America can huff and puff and whine, but that won’t change the reality.

Guaido named himself ‘interim president’, to the support of only roughly 50 countries – leaving a glaring nearly 150 countries not recognizing this Western-groomed stooge as Venezuela’s leader.

Further, Guaido not only isn’t president of the country, he is no longer president of the National Assembly. As a result, recently, even the EU dropped its recognition of Guaido as interim president. He is a Western-groomed thug who fully backs America’s aggression and sanctions against his own country.

Venezuela’s election process has been recognized as transparent and effective, with former US President Jimmy Carter in 2012 calling it “the best in the world.” On the other hand, Venezuelan opposition, as well as Western nations, have interfered with and attempted to sabotage elections.

As for America’s grave “concern” for Venezuelans, the US in February 2019 staged a “humanitarian aid” delivery via Colombia (“aid” which contained nails and wire, likely meant for opposition barricades), blaming Maduro for “burning food & medicine,” when in fact the trucks were burned by “opposition” supporters. That same month, President Trump threatened military intervention against Venezuela.

The US allegedly sabotaged Venezuela’s power grid in March 2019 (and then blamed the Maduro government for the power failure).

And two former US Special Forces soldiers were in May 2020 arrested in a failed invasion (with the goal of capturing Maduro) which allegedly the Trump administration and Guaido himself were involved in.

President Maduro blamed the August 2018 drone assassination attempt on Colombia and elements in the US. The US was also linked to the kidnapping and coup against former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

But aside from those and many other provocations against Venezuela, it is the brutal sanctions against the country that is a clear indicator of just how little America cares for the people.

As many have already surmised, the Biden administration is a continuation of the previous admin’s policies, and Blinken is the new Pompeo. They even sound the same.

  • Blinken to Ukraine’s foreign minister: “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” “Russian aggression...”
  • Pompeo to the same“support for #Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is ironclad,” “Russia and its proxies’ intransigence, aggressive actions...”
  • Blinken on Crimea: “Russia’s invasion and seizure,” “we call on Russia to end its occupation,” “#CrimeaisUkraine” (newsflash: it’s not, and there was no invasion).
  • Pompeo on the same: “#Crimea is #Ukraine,” “We call on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea.

And of course, their American speak on Guaido is also the same, with both Blinken and Pompeo feigning concern for the lives of the Venezuelan people.

Flogging a dead horse named Guaido

The guy just isn’t popular in Venezuela, not now, not back in early 2019 when America & allies tried to foist him onto Venezuelans.

When I traveled to Venezuela in March 2019, aside from documenting the lack of chaos that Western pundits and media insisted was ongoing at the time, I also tried to find evidence of the massive support the same pundits and media claimed Guaido had.

I had seen on various occasions massive demonstrations of solidarity with President Maduro, the man who average Venezuelans support, particularly impoverished indigenous and Afro-Venezuelans who are conveniently ignored by Western media.

On March 30, I spent a good chunk of the day riding around on motorcycle taxi trying to find pro-Guaido protests which had been advertised, instead at designated sites and times finding none, a trickle, or pro-Maduro protesters instead.

Later the same day, I saw another massive pro-Maduro demonstration.

In encounters with Venezuelans during my few weeks in Caracas, I met people who made clear they didn’t support Guaido and what they were fighting for.

In a hilltop community, one such man told me:

We are poor people, but we are proud, we have dignity. We are fighting against Imperialism, against rich people that want our country, that want us as slaves, that want our oil, our water. But we will win.

The governments of the United States and other nations want to tell everybody that we are starving, we are dying in the streets, we are being oppressed by our government. But we’ve never been more free than now, in spite of all the problems we do have.”

He and others spoke of the extreme racism and discrimination Afro-Venezuelans and indigenous Venezuelans faced before Chavez came to power.

Before, we were treated like nothing, we were treated only as workers, that was it. Say to your governments, this isn’t a fight against Maduro, this is a fight against the people that are trying to be free.”

I won’t even repeat some of the unbelievable racist slurs they were subject to.

Some months later, back in Ontario, I met Ronald Abache, an Afro-Venezuelan who attended a lecture I gave. During the question period, he was so articulate about racism in Venezuela, “very alive, but hidden under class status,” that I asked to record his words.

In 1999, for the first time ever in any country in South America, a law was passed to not discriminate against people of color. People that never had a voice now have one and will never give it up again. You can go to the remotest area in my country and everybody can read. Everybody knows their rights and knows that their voice counts.”

He also challenged the opposition to answer one question:

What would they do different? What is their plan? If they’re planning to go back to those great old days (sarcasm), the people are not having it. Two million militias, old people, young people, everybody knows what the United States is doing. My mother is 70, she’s about to join the militia!

These are just some of the people marginalized by Western media and politicians. The ones who claim concern for Venezuela.

As Mr. Abache noted, Venezuelans themselves aren’t going to accept US hegemony, not only the leadership. I got a powerful sense of that in the demonstrations I observed and from the people I spoke with.

The new Biden administration may want to pressure Venezuela into compliance, but the people won’t accept that.

RELATED:

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

Venezuela playlist

Blinken paves the way for a return to the nuclear deal in compliance with Iran’s terms بلينكين يمهّد للعودة إلى الاتفاق النووي رضوخاً لشروط إيران

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

Blinken paves the way for a return to the nuclear deal in compliance with Iran’s terms

Nasser Kandil

– In the context of a radio interview with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she said, “We have come a long way towards preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and all of this was subsequently abandoned by the Trump administration. Current U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken responded to Clinton’s question about his expectations of the outcome of Iran’s absence from the 5+1 meeting, with the participation of Russia and China, by saying that Iran “is speeding up towards the day when it will have the ability to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon in a very short time», considering that when the agreement was reached in 2015, Iran was tending to make this period a mere weeks. Blinken warned that allowing this to happen, and Iran’s acquiring a nuclear weapon, or being on the threshold of possessing a nuclear weapon, “enables it to act with greater impunity,” noting that taking military action against it would have “different consequences,” concluding that “the best answer is” We reached the agreement “that” put the nuclear program in a box, cut its tracks to be able to produce the materials needed to make a nuclear weapon, “and pushed the period called” the time of penetration to more than one year. “

– Blinken said that because of the agreement «we had very strong sanctions » through the use of the Snapback mechanism, to automatically reimpose them if Iran violates the agreement, adding that “after we got out of the deal, Iran felt good,” as if saying: “We can move forward; We no longer comply with the commitments we made. ” And Blinken went on to say,“ And now she returns to that point, where she can produce fissile material for a very powerful weapon in a short time. He stressed that «we have an interest in returning it to the box, then see if we can actually build something longer and stronger in terms of the duration of the agreement, as well as deal with some of the other actions that Iran is taking, because we have a real problem with ballistic missiles and what they are doing in their vicinity».

– In practice, Blinken rearranged President Joe Biden’s administration vision papers regarding the Iranian nuclear file, from the stage on which Iran should start the first step, to the stage we started the first step with the indirect release of Iranian deposits of more than ten billion dollars in South Korea and Iraq, in exchange for Iran attending a joint session Within the 5 + 1 platform, and then here he is rearranging the cards again with Iran’s refusal of less than an American declaration to retract the sanctions as a condition for Iran’s retreat from implementing its obligations stipulated in the agreement. He withdraws from the table the issues of Iranian missiles and Iran’s regional role to the post-return phase. Regarding the nuclear agreement, and the implementation of its obligations from both sides, that is, the lifting of sanctions in return for Iran’s return to its obligations, Blinken’s equation is clear, that Iran is comfortable not returning and approaching with a missile speed that it has sufficient capabilities to produce a nuclear weapon, and that Washington has an interest in blocking this path, and that the abolition of sanctions is a reasonable cost to achieve this goal, because the alternative is to confront a situation that “enables it to act with impunity.” “Knowing that carrying out military action against it will have various consequences,” concluding that “the best answer we came to was the agreement” that “put the nuclear program in a box and cut its paths to be able to produce the materials they need to build a nuclear weapon, and pay the nominal period at the time of penetration.” To more than one year ».

– The Biden administration in Blinkin’s tongue goes back to what the Barack Obama administration reached when Biden was vice president, betting on more time to bring Iran to an agreement that includes the missile file and the regional situation will mean giving Iran more time to acquire the capabilities to produce a nuclear weapon. The bet that something has changed as a result of the sanctions imposed by the administration of former President Donald Trump, is disappointing, as Iran appears more comfortable in its steps outside the agreement than it was in the days of previous negotiations, so priority is given to returning to the agreement and then it is possible to know what should be done to discuss the rest, “We have an interest in returning that to a box, and then seeing if we can actually build something longer and stronger in terms of the duration of the agreement, as well as deal with some other measures that Iran is taking, because we have a real problem with ballistic missiles and what they are doing in their vicinity.”

بلينكين يمهّد للعودة إلى الاتفاق النووي رضوخاً لشروط إيران

ناصر قنديل

في سياق حوار إذاعيّ مع وزيرة الخارجية السابقة هيلاري كلينتون قالت فيه «قطعنا شوطاً طويلاً نحو منع إيران من الحصول على سلاح نووي، وكل ذلك جرى التخلي بعد ذلك عنه من قبل إدارة ترامب. أجاب وزير الخارجية الأميركية الحالي توني بلينكين على سؤال كلينتون حول توقعاته لنتائج غياب إيران عن الاجتماع الذي وافقت عليه واشنطن ضمن صيغة الـ 5+1، بمشاركة روسيا والصين، بالقول بأن إيران «تسرع نحو اليوم الذي سيكون لديها فيه القدرة على إنتاج ما يكفي من المواد الانشطارية لسلاح نووي في وقت قصير جداً»، معتبراً أنه عند التوصل إلى الاتفاق عام 2015، كانت إيران تتجه إلى جعل ​​هذه المدة مجرد أسابيع. ونبّه بلينكن إلى أن السماح بحدوث ذلك، وامتلاك إيران سلاحاً نووياً، أو أن تكون على عتبة امتلاك سلاح نووي «يمكنها من التصرف مع إفلات أكبر من العقاب»، علماً بأن القيام بعمل عسكري ضدها ستكون له «عواقب مختلفة»، مستنتجاً أن «أفضل إجابة توصلنا إليها كانت الاتفاق» الذي «وضع البرنامج النووي في صندوق، وقطع مساراته لتكون قادرة على إنتاج المواد التي تحتاج إليها لصنع سلاح نووي»، ودفع المدة المسماة «وقت الاختراق إلى أكثر من عام واحد».

قال بلينكن إنه بسبب الاتفاق «كانت لدينا عقوبات قويّة للغاية»، عبر استخدام آلية «سناب باك»، لإعادة فرضها بصورة تلقائية إذا انتهكت إيران الاتفاقية، مضيفاً أن «الأهم من ذلك هو نظام المراقبة والتفتيش الأكثر تدخلاً الذي نمتلكه على الإطلاق لأي اتفاق للحدّ من الأسلحة». وقال إنه «بعد خروجنا من الصفقة، شعرت إيران بحال جيدة»، كأنما تقول: «يمكننا المضي قدماً؛ لم نعد نمتثل للالتزامات التي تعهدنا بها»، واستطرد بلينكن: «وها هي الآن تعود إلى تلك النقطة، حيث يمكن أن تنتج مواد انشطارية لسلاح في غاية القوة في وقت قصير»، وشدّد على أن «لدينا مصلحة في إعادة ذلك إلى صندوق، ثم معرفة ما إذا كان بإمكاننا بالفعل بناء شيء أطول وأقوى من حيث مدة الاتفاق، وكذلك التعامل مع بعض الإجراءات الأخرى التي تتخذها إيران، لأن لدينا مشكلة حقيقية مع الصواريخ الباليستية وما تقوم به في جوارها».

عملياً أعاد بلينكين ترتيب أوراق رؤية إدارة الرئيس جو بايدن تجاه الملف النووي الإيراني، من مرحلة على إيران أن تبدأ الخطوة الأولى، إلى مرحلة بدأنا الخطوة الأولى بالإفراج غير المباشر عن ودائع إيرانية تزيد عن عشرة مليارات دولار في كوريا الجنوبية والعراق، مقابل حضور إيران لجلسة مشتركة ضمن منصة الـ 5+1، ثم ها هو يعيد ترتيب الأوراق مجدداً مع رفض إيران لما هو أقل من إعلان أميركي بالتراجع عن العقوبات كشرط لتراجع إيران عن تنفيذ موجباتها التي نص عليها الاتفاق، فيسحب عن الطاولة قضيتي الصواريخ الإيرانية والدور الإقليمي لإيران إلى مرحلة تعقب العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي، وتنفيذ موجباته من الفريقين، أي رفع العقوبات مقابل عودة إيران الى التزاماتها. ومعادلة بلينكين واضحة، أن إيران مرتاحة لعدم العودة والاقتراب بسرعة صاروخية من امتلاك مقدرات كافية لإنتاج سلاح نووي، وأن واشنطن صاحبة مصلحة بقطع الطريق على هذا المسار، وأن إلغاء العقوبات كلفة معقولة لتحقيق هذا الهدف، لأن البديل هو مواجهة وضع «يمكنها من التصرف مع إفلات أكبر من العقاب»، مضيفاً، «علماً بأن القيام بعمل عسكري ضدها ستكون له عواقب مختلفة»، مستنتجاً أن «أفضل إجابة توصلنا إليها كانت الاتفاق» الذي «وضع البرنامج النووي في صندوق، وقطع مساراته لتكون قادرة على إنتاج المواد التي تحتاج إليها لصنع سلاح نووي، ودفع المدة المسمّاة وقت الاختراق إلى أكثر من عام واحد».

تعود إدارة بايدن بلسان بلينكين الى ما توصلت اليه إدارة باراك أوباما يوم كان بايدن نائباً للرئيس، وهو أن الرهان على مزيد من الوقت لجلب إيران إلى اتفاق يتضمن ملف الصواريخ والوضع الإقليمي، سيعني منح إيران المزيد من الوقت لامتلاك مقدرات إنتاج سلاح نووي، وأن الرهان على أن ثمّة ما تغير بفعل العقوبات التي فرضتها إدارة الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب، يكشف عقماً وخيبة، فإيران تظهر أكثر راحة في خطواتها خارج الاتفاق مما كانت عليه أيام المفاوضات السابقة، لذلك يعطي الأولوية للعودة إلى الاتفاق وبعدها يمكن معرفة ما يجب فعله لبحث الباقي، بقوله، «لدينا مصلحة في إعادة ذلك إلى صندوق، ثم معرفة ما إذا كان بإمكاننا بالفعل بناء شيء أطول وأقوى من حيث مدة الاتفاق، وكذلك التعامل مع بعض الإجراءات الأخرى التي تتخذها إيران، لأن لدينا مشكلة حقيقية مع الصواريخ الباليستية وما تقوم به في جوارها».

Biden’s Journey: Change Is Imperceptible

Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.

Philip Giraldi

February 25, 2021

Biden has been a major disappointment for those who hoped that he’d change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts.

The new White House Team has been in place for more than a month and it is perhaps time to consider where it is going with America’s fractured foreign policy. To be sure, when a new administration brings in a bunch of “old hands” who made their bones by attacking Syria and Libya while also assassinating American citizens by drone one might hope that those mistakes might have served as valuable “lessons learned.” Or maybe not, since no one in the Democratic Party ever mentions the Libya fiasco and President Joe Biden has already made it clear that Syria will continue to be targeted with sanctions as well as with American soldiers based on its soil. And no one will be leaving Afghanistan any time soon. The Biden team will only let up when Afghanistan is “secure” and there is regime change in Damascus.

A big part of the problem is that the personnel moves mean that the poison from the Barack Obama years has now been reintroduced into the tottering edifice that Donald Trump left behind. Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice once made the case for attacking the Libyans by explaining how Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi provided his soldiers with Viagra so they could more readily engage in mass rapes of presumably innocent civilians. Unfortunately, Sue is back with the new administration as the Director of the Domestic Policy Council where she will no doubt again wreak havoc in her own inimitable fashion. She is joined at the top level of the administration by Tony Blinken as Secretary of State, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, Samantha Power as head of USAID and retired General Lloyd J. Austin as Secretary of Defense. All of the appointees are regarded as “hawks” and have personal history working with Biden when he was in Congress and as Vice President, while most of them also served in the Obama administration.

Be that as it may, Joe Biden and whoever is pulling his strings have assembled a group of establishment warmongers and aspirant social justice engineers that is second to none. Those who expected something different than the usual Democratic Party template have definitely been disappointed. Hostility towards China continues with warships being sent to the South China Sea and the president is seeking to create a new Trans-Atlantic alliance directed against both Beijing and Moscow. The Europeans are reportedly not enthusiastic about remaining under Washington’s thumb and would like some breathing room.

In a phone conversation where it would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall, Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States would no longer ignore his bad behavior. The official White House account of the call included the following pithy summary: “President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ firm support for Ukraine’s sovereignty. He also raised other matters of concern, including the SolarWinds hack, reports of Russia placing bounties on United States soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 United States election, and the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny.”

And to be sure, there have already been a number of issues that Biden might have dealt with by executive order, like lifting the illegal and unjustified blockade of Cuba, that could have inspired some hope that the new administration would not be just another bit of old wine in new bottles. Alas, that has not taken place but for a series of moves to unleash another wave of illegal immigration and to “protect LGBTQ rights globally.” Biden has also retained a heavy military presence in Washington itself, possibly as part of a Constitution-wrecking plan to tackle what he is referring to as “domestic terrorism.” The domestic terrorists being targeted appear to largely consist of people who are white working and middle class and voted for Trump.

In some ways, foreign policy might have been the easiest fix if the new administration were really seeking to correct the misadventures of the past twenty years. Quite the contrary, Biden and his associates have actually reversed the sensible and long overdue policies initiated by Donald Trump to reduce troop strength in Germany and bring the soldiers home from Syria and Afghanistan. Biden has already committed to an indefinite stay in Afghanistan, America’s longest “lost” war, and has covertly sent more soldiers into Syria as well as Iraq.

As regards Latin America, the U.S. clearly is prepared to double down on regime change in Venezuela, continuing its Quixotic support of Juan Guaido as president. Meanwhile, the new Secretary of State Tony Blinken has clearly indicated that there will be no end to deference to Israeli interests in the Middle East. Under questioning by Congress, he has insisted that Israel will be “consulted” on U.S. policy to include arms sales in the region, which has been interpreted to mean that Jerusalem will have a veto, and has confirmed that his view on Iran is identical to that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both are apparently promoting the view that Iran will have enough enriched uranium to construct a weapon within a few weeks, though they have not addressed other technical aspects of what would actually be required to build one. Netanyahu has been making the claim about the Iranian threat since the 1980s and now it is also an element of U.S. policy.

Biden and Blinken have also moved forward slowly on a campaign commitment to attempt renegotiation of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran that President Trump withdrew from in 2017. As a condition to re-start discussions, the Iranian leadership has demanded a return to the status quo ante, meaning that the punitive sanctions initiated by Trump would have to be canceled and Iran would in return cease all enrichment activities. Biden and Blinken, which admittedly sounds a bit like a vaudeville comedy duo, have reportedly agreed to withdraw the Trump sanctions but have also suggested that Iran will have to make other concessions, to include ending its ballistic missile development program and ceasing its “meddling” in the Middle East. Iran will refuse to agree to that, which means that the bid to renegotiate could turn out to be nothing more than a bit of theater involving multilateral “discussions” hosted by the European Union and the pointless hostility between Washington and Tehran will continue.

And speaking again of Israel, there have been concerns expressed by the usual suspects because Biden had not called telephoned Netanyahu immediately after the inauguration. It may be true that the president was sending a somewhat less than subtle message signaling that he was in charge, but the call has now taken place and everything is hunky-dory. As a separate issue, the Jewish state has, of course, the world’s only secret nuclear arsenal, estimated to consist of at least 200 bombs, and it also has several systems available to deliver them on target. For no reasons that make any sense, the United States since the time of President Richard Nixon has never publicly confirmed the existence of the weapons, preferring to maintain “nuclear ambiguity” that allows Israel to have the weapons without any demands for inspections or constraints on their use. The most recent four presidents have, in fact, signed secret agreements with Israel not to expose the nuclear arsenal. Biden has apparently not done so yet, but appeals by international figures, including most recently South African Desmond Tutu, had produced some expectations that the new administration might break with precedent.

Giving aid to Israel is, in fact, illegal due to the Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, which bans U.S. economic and military assistance to nuclear proliferators and countries that seek to acquire nuclear weapons. But Biden has already indicated that he would not under any circumstances cut aid to Israel, so the matter would appear to be closed. In any event the Symington Amendment includes an exemption clause that would allow the funding to continue as long as the president certifies to Congress that continued aid to the proliferator would be a vital U.S. interest. Given Israel’s power in both Congress and the White House it is not imaginable that its aid would be affected no matter what Netanyahu and his band of criminals choose to do.

So, it would seem that Biden is unprepared to either pressure or pursue any distancing from Israel and its policies, not a good sign for those of us who have encouraged some disengagement from the Middle East quagmire. And one final issue where some of us have hoped to see some movement from Biden has also been a disappointment. That is Julian Assange, who is fighting against efforts to have him extradited from England to face trial and imprisonment in the U.S. under the Espionage Act. Many observers believe that Assange is a legitimate journalist who is being set up for a show trial with only one possible outcome. The entire process is to a large extent being driven by a desire for revenge coming largely from the Democratic Party since Assange was responsible for publishing the Hillary Clinton emails as well as other party documents. Biden has already indicated that the process of extraditing Assange will continue.

So, Biden has been a major disappointment for those who expected that he might change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts while also having the good sense and courage to make relations with countries like Iran and Israel responsive to actual U.S. interests. Finally, it would be a good sign if Assange were to be released from the threat of trial and prison, if only to recognize that free speech and a free press benefit everyone, but that is perhaps a bridge too far as the United States moves inexorably towards a totalitarian state intolerant of dissent.

Washington to Organize Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to Challenge Russia in the Black Sea

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research, February 15, 2021

All Global Research articles can be read in 27 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).

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One of Washington’s main strategic objectives is to consolidate and organize Eastern European states to oppose and contain Russia. Supporting Black Sea countries against Russia has become a major American priority as Turkey is now an unreliable partner, and therefore Washington is attempting to create a new alliance officially outside of the NATO structure but attached to it indirectly. The creation of a military bloc between Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova is a Washington-led initiative, but is unlikely to have any major impact in limiting Russian influence.

Last week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba revealed details of his conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Kuleba said that Kiev, with the support of Washington, will start forming a trilateral military alliance comprising of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. Although Moldova is not directly on the Black Sea like Ukraine and Georgia, it does have relatively easy access via the Port of Giurgiulești on the Danube River. The bold statements by Kiev’s leaders do not usually provoke significant global interest, but this is special as the order came directly from the White House. Therefore, it unsurprisingly proves a continuation of Washington’s hostile policies towards Russia under new U.S. President Joe Biden.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, almost immediately after Blinken’s endorsement, began to check the combat readiness of his troops in Donbass and stopped the transmission of “pro-Russian” television stations on February 3. Then a week later on February 10, Ukraine made a provocative proposal to NATO by urging the Alliance to use the airspace in the Simferopol Flight Information Region (FIR) over Russia’s Crimean Peninsula for its operations.

The Simferopol FIR includes Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast, the Crimean Peninsula and the central part of the Black Sea. International air routes over Crimea have been banned by Eurocontrol (European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation) as the Simferopol dispatch center is Russian operated and the only flights to Crimea come from Russia. The sky above the peninsula and the adjacent waters of the Black and Azov Seas are effectively protected by the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Russian Navy. Therefore, Ukraine’s invitation for NATO to fly over Crimea with military aircraft is an insidious military ingenuity and an attempt by Zelensky to force the Alliance into a conflict with Russia.Georgia and Ukraine Joining NATO Will Likely Have the Opposite Effect Against Russia

The intensification of Ukrainian military operations in Donbass, even with the promised support of the U.S., will only lead to a new humanitarian catastrophe, but more importantly a changing of the frontlines that will not be in Kiev’s favor. We cannot overlook that the Donbass People’s Militia defeated the Ukrainian Armed Forces and their advance was only halted because of orders from Moscow. President Vladimir Putin has already announced that he will never allow the repression of Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine to occur, but authorities in Kiev have not shown any sign in ending their hostilities.

Kiev, as well as decisionmakers in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, dream of complete NATO support in any future war against Russia. Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia in 2008 and Ukraine’s military actions against Donbass in 2014 should serve as stark reminders that NATO is not willing to go to war with Russia for their sake. This is even despite Washington’s encouragement for these countries to be openly hostile against Russia.

In the Global Firepower military ranking, Poland ranks 23. The Pentagon has promised to assist Warsaw within five days of any conflict breaking out. However, recent computer simulations of a possible conflict between Poland and an adversary from its east (i.e. Russia) suggest that assistance will be shortcoming. Given the logistical problems, a five-day transfer of U.S. troops to Poland is an overly optimistic forecast. Using the realistic background of Poland which directly borders several friendly states, such as Germany which has a huge contingent of American soldiers, the geographical separation between Ukraine and Georgia is discouraging if they are supposed to be in an alliance to counter and/or contain Russia.

A hypothetical military bloc between Ukraine (ranked 25 by Global Firepower), Georgia (ranked 92) and Moldova (ranked 107) seems extremely unconvincing in being able to contain Russia. Although Moldova has a “non-aligned” Constitution, new Russophobic President Maia Sandu is more than willing to carry out demands made by Washington.

The U.S. and NATO are attempting to turn the post-Soviet space into a state of permanent military hostility and conflict as they believe it is the best guarantee for Western countries to keep Russia distracted and weak. However, close coordination between Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova is unlikely to be a major concern for Russia in security terms as they don’t have navies.

As Turkey has become an unreliable NATO member, the U.S. is hedging their bets on NATO members Bulgaria and Romania, and NATO-friendly states like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, to serve Turkey’s role in pressuring Russia in the Black Sea. Although the U.S. and Turkey conducted military exercises in the Black Sea to the condemnation of Moscow only days ago, there is little suggestion that if a conflict broke out in the Black Sea involving NATO and Russia, Turkey will commit to its Alliance obligations. It is for this reason that Washington is pushing Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to more closely cooperate with NATO against Russia despite not being Alliance members.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

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Al-Houthi to Al-Mayadeen: We are ready for war and peace – Biden to Remove Yemen’s Ansarullah from Terror List الحوثي للميادين: جاهزون للحرب والسلام وبايدن يرفع أنصار الله اليمني من قائمة الإرهاب

Al-Houthi to Al-Mayadeen: We are ready for war and peace

الحوثي للميادين: مستعدون للحرب وللسلام.. والكلام عن التقسيم مجرد شعارات

A member of the Yemeni Supreme Political Council confirms that his country is waiting for the words of the US President on stopping the war to be converted into action, and affirms the readiness of “Ansar Allah” for dialogue in the interest of the Yemenis.


Muhammad Ali Al-Houthi, said in an interview with Al-Mayadeen that Washington is supposed to “stop the Saudi-Emirati war on our country and this is what we are waiting for,” describing the US President’s statements regarding stopping the war as “mere statements,” while what is expected. Stop the war and lift the blockade. “

Al-Houthi stressed that what Saudi Arabia and the UAE have done is “full-fledged terrorism,” adding that the Saudi coalition has tried “against us the military war since 2004 and has not worked with us, and we are not afraid of them and are ready to continue more.”

Al-Houthi emphasized that what Saudi Arabia and the UAE did was “terrorism with full descriptions,” explaining that the Saudi alliance had tried launched a military war against us since 2004, “We are not afraid of this war and are ready to continue the confrontation, but we are with peace,” he said. “all matters can be resolved during peace negotiations if arrogance is put aside.” Al-Houthi called on Washington to impose according to the war on its followers and to take serious decisions in this context, pointing out the absence of communication with the United States until now.

Earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a halt to his country’s support for the war in Yemen, saying, “I have asked my Middle East team to act on a cease-fire  to deliver humanitarian aid and open dialogue.”

Al-Houthi said Biden put forward a halt to the war on Yemen during his campaign because he wanted to “restore U.S. policy” after former President Donald Trump, adding: “If Biden violates the cessation of the war on Yemen that he has pledged to stop, it undermines the confidence of the American voter and that’s what he doesn’t want.”

He also urged Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to stop the war and turn to the peace of the brave,” stressing that “Ansar Allah” will dialogue according to “the dictates of the Yemeni interest, and we do not accept anyone to be humiliated. We and they will be equals to speak in a way that takes care of our interests and their interests. “

Al-Houthi considered that the political solution should be “subject to a referendum by the Yemeni people, and whatever the people are satisfied with, we will accept it.”

Al-Houthi called for an end to the aggression and the embargo imposed on his country, as well as the payment of compensation from the countries of aggression similar to those received by Kuwait from Iraq.

He said the Yemeni armed forces will stop bombing coalition targets “if all the countries of aggression stop bombing,” stressing the right of the Yemeni people to “defend themselves”, using weapons manufactured locally, he said.

Al-Houthi also pointed out that there are video meetings of leaders in “ISIS” and “al-Qaeda” with Vice President Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar in Aden, stressing that the threat of “ISIS” comes from Saudi Arabia and America.

On the position of other countries participating in the aggression in one way or another, al-Houthi said that selling arms to the coalition is a “crime”, and “the British know who the Yemenis are, the Yemeni people have liberated their land from British colonialism, and the Yemeni army can now reach them, we have sophisticated weapons.”

On the future of the solution and the prospects for partition, al-Houthi said the UN Security Council is talking about the territorial integrity of Yemen, calling some of the words of secession “just slogans to mobilise fighters.”

At the end of the interview, a member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council called on the Yemeni people to be aware and cautious “especially in the peace phase”, and praised the efforts of the Yemeni armed forces and their role in maintaining the country’s independence.

Biden to Remove Yemen’s Ansarullah from Terror List

By Staff, Agencies

The US announced that it is heading towards delisting Yemen’s Ansarullah group as a terrorist organization, removing a block that humanitarian groups said jeopardized crucial aid.

The grinding six-year Saudi aggression in Yemen has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions, triggering what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

A State Department spokesperson said Friday they had “formally notified Congress” of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s intent to revoke the terrorist designations.

The move, which will take effect shortly, comes a day after Biden announced an end to US support for the Saudi-led offensive operations in Yemen.

“Our action is due entirely to the humanitarian consequences of this last-minute designation from the prior administration,” they said.

Blinken’s predecessor Mike Pompeo announced the designation days before leaving office last month.

الحوثي للميادين: جاهزون للحرب والسلام

الحوثي للميادين: مستعدون للحرب وللسلام.. والكلام عن التقسيم مجرد شعارات

عضو المجلس السياسي الأعلى اليمني يؤكد أن بلاده تنتظر تحويل كلام الرئيس الأميركي بشأن وقف الحرب إلى أفعال، ويؤكد استعداد “أنصار الله” للحوار بما يخدم مصلحة اليمنيين.

قال عضو المجلس السياسي الأعلى في اليمن محمد علي الحوثي، في مقابلة مع الميادين، إن من المفترض أن “توقف واشنطن الحرب السعودية – الإماراتية على بلدنا وهذا ما ننتظره”، واصفاً تصريحات الرئيس الأميركي بشأن وقف الحرب بأنها “مجرد تصريحات”، فيما المنتظر “وقف الحرب ورفع الحصار”. 
 
 وأكد الحوثي أن ما فعلته السعودية والإمارات هو “إرهاب مكتمل الأوصاف”، موضحاً  أن التحالف السعودي جرّب “ضدنا الحرب العسكرية منذ عام 2004 ولم تنفع معنا، ونحن لا نخشاهم ومستعدون للاستمرار أكثر”. 

وتابع: “نحن لا نخاف هذه الحرب ومستعدون للاستمرار في المواجهة لكننا مع السلام”، موضحاً أن “كل الأمور قابلة للحل خلال مفاوضات السلام في حال تم تنحية العجرفة”.

ودعا الحوثي واشنطن لفرض وفق الحرب على أتباعها واتخاذ قرارات جادة في هذا الإطار، مشيراً إلى غياب التواصل مع الولايات المتحدة حتى الساعة.

وكان الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن قد أعلن، في وقت سابق، وقف دعم بلاده للحرب على اليمن، قائلاً: “طلبت من فريقي المختص للشرق الأوسط العمل لوقف إطلاق النار لإيصال المساعدات الإنسانية وفتح الحوار”.

ورأى الحوثي أن بايدن طرح وقف الحرب على اليمن خلال حملته الانتخابية، لأنه يريد “ترميم السياسة الأميركية” بعد الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب، وأضاف: “إذا أخلّ بايدن بوقف الحرب على اليمن التي تعهد بوقفها فإنه يخل بثقة الناخب الأميركي وهذا ما لا يريده”.
 
كما وحثّ الملك السعودي سلمان بن عبد العزيز على وقف الحرب وأن “تتجه السعودية إلى سلام الشجعان”، مشدداً على أن “أنصار الله” ستحاور وفق “ما تمليه المصلحة اليمنية، ولا نرضى لأحد أن يكون ذليلاً، سنكون نحن وهم أنداداً لنتحدث بما يرعى مصالحنا ومصالحهم”.

واعتبر الحوثي أن الحل السياسي ينبغي أن “يخضع لاستفتاء الشعب اليمني، وما يرضى به الشعب سنقبل به”.

وطالب الحوثي بوقف العدوان والحصار المفروض على بلاده، كما دعا لصرف تعويضات من دول العدوان مماثلة للتعويضات التي حصلت عليها الكويت من العراق.

وأعلن أن القوات المسلحة اليمنية ستتوقف عن قصف أهداف التحالف “إذا توقفت جميع دول العدوان عن القصف”، مؤكداً حق الشعب اليمني في أن “يدافع عن نفسه”، وذلك باستخدام الأسلحة التي يجري صناعتها محلياً، وفق قوله. 

كما وأشار الحوثي إلى وجود لقاءات مصورة لقيادات في “داعش” و”القاعدة” مع نائب الرئيس علي محسن الأحمر في عدن، مشدداً على أن خطر “داعش” يأتي من السعودية وأميركا.

وبشأن موقف الدول الأخرى المشاركة في العدوان بشكل أو بآخر، قال الحوثي إن بيع السلاح للتحالف هو “جريمة”، و”البريطانيون يعرفون من هم اليمنيون فالشعب اليمني حرر أرضه سابقاً من الاستعمار البريطاني، وبإمكان الجيش اليمني حالياً الوصول إليهم، فنحن نمتلك أسلحة متطورة”. 

وحول مستقبل الحل واحتمالات التقسيم، أشار الحوثي إلى أن مجلس الأمن الدولي يتحدث عن وحدة الأراضي اليمنية، معتبراً كلام البعض عن الانفصال “مجرد شعارات لحشد المقاتلين”.

ودعا عضو المجلس السياسي الأعلى في اليمن، في ختام المقابلة، الشعب اليمني أن يكون على مستوى عالٍ من الوعي والحذر “خاصة في مرحلة السلام”، كما وأشاد بجهود القوات المسلحة اليمنية ودورها في الحفاظ على استقلال البلاد. 

بايدن يرفع أنصار الله اليمني من قائمة الإرهاب

Biden to Remove Yemen’s Ansarullah from Terror List

الموظفين والوكالات

أعلنت الولايات المتحدة أنها تتجه نحو شطب جماعة أنصار الله اليمنية من القائمة كمنظمة إرهابية، قالت منظمات إنسانية إنها تعرض المساعدات الحاسمة للخطر.

لقد أدى العدوان السعودي الطاحن الذي دام ست سنوات في اليمن إلى مقتل عشرات الآلاف وتشريد الملايين، مما تسبب في ما تسميه الأمم المتحدة أسوأ كارثة إنسانية في العالم.

وقال متحدث باسم وزارة الخارجية الاميركية الجمعة انهم “ابلغوا الكونغرس رسميا” بعزم وزير الخارجية الاميركي انتوني بلينكن على الغاء هذه التصنيفات الارهابية.

وتأتي هذه الخطوة، التي ستدخل حيز التنفيذ قريباً، بعد يوم واحد من إعلان بايدن إنهاء الدعم الأمريكي للعمليات الهجومية التي تقودها السعودية في اليمن.

واضافوا ” ان تحركنا يرجع تماما الى العواقب الانسانية لهذا التصنيف فى اللحظة الاخيرة من الادارة السابقة ” .

وكان مايك بومبيو، سلف بلينكن، قد أعلن عن تعيينه قبل أيام من مغادرته منصبه الشهر الماضي.

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