Biden says ‘no’ to US sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine

31 Jan 2023

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Amid Kiev’s calls for the West to provide it with fighter jets, the US President says he is not in favor of the decision.

US President Joe Biden speaking at the Steamfitters Local 602 in Springfield (AP)

United States President Joe Biden claimed on Monday that he will not be sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

“No,” Biden said when asked by reporters at the White House if he was in favor of sending the jets, which Ukraine’s leaders have said are at the top of their latest weapons wish list.

This comes despite a group of US military officials quietly lobbying for sending F-16s to Ukraine, Politico reported, citing three anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

According to the newspaper, the campaign for F-16s to Ukraine is gaining momentum in the Pentagon, while Kiev is bracing for a planned offensive this spring.

A senior Pentagon official told Politico he did not think the US Department of Defense (DoD) was opposed to the idea, noting that there was no final decision on the possible supplies yet.

However, there is no appetite in the Pentagon for this proposal, US officials revealed, according to Politico.

Elsewhere, the US President also said he will be visiting Poland. “I’m going to be going to Poland. I don’t know when, though,” he told reporters when asked about a visit.

Earlier, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki pointed out that Poland can hand over its F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine only in coordination with other NATO partners.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week however that he wants the West to send long-range missiles and jets.

Last Monday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Kiev expects to receive fighter jets from the West in the near future and it would take Ukrainian pilots at least six months to learn how to operate them.

A couple of days ago, Colonel Yurii Ihnat, the spokesperson for the Air Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said Kiev intends to obtain 24 F-16 fighter jets from its international allies.

Read more: US complicit in Kiev shelling of Lugansk hospital: Russia UN envoy

Macron does not exclude France providing Ukraine with fighter jets

In this context, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would not rule out France delivering fighter jets to Ukraine but warned against the risk of escalation in the conflict.

“Nothing is excluded in principle,” Macron said after talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte when asked about the possibility of sending jets to Kiev.

However, the French President set out a series of “criteria” before making any decision, as Ukraine steps up calls for more advanced weapons from the West just days after its allies pledged to deliver tanks.

These included that Ukraine must first make the request, that any arms would “not be escalatory,” and that they would “not be likely to hit Russian soil but purely to aid the resistance effort.”

Macron stressed that any arms delivery “must not weaken the capacity of the French armed forces.”

He noted that the Ukrainians “are not making this request at the moment for fighter jets.”

Dutch politicians have recently suggested the idea of sending F-16 jets to Ukraine, but Rutte echoed Macron’s cautious comments.

“There is no taboo but it would be a big step,” the Dutch Premier indicated.

“It is not at all a question of F-16s, there has been no demand (from Ukraine),” he added.

The French and Dutch leaders made their comments a day after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he would not send fighter jets to Ukraine.

Scholz only just agreed on Wednesday to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and to allow other European countries to send theirs, after weeks of intense debate and mounting pressure from allies.

Scholz’s decision to green-light the tanks was accompanied by a US announcement that it would send 31 of its Abrams tanks.

It is noteworthy that even though the West has not yet decided on the deliveries of fighter jets, Ukraine has already compiled a list of some 50 pilots, who are ready to start training on F-16s, speak English, and have a track record of “thousands of combat missions,” Politico revealed, citing a Pentagon official and a Ukrainian official, as well as three other people familiar with the matter.

Read more: Germany reiterates stance not to send warplanes to Ukraine

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McCarthy calls for investigating Biden over classified documents

 January 12, 2023

Source: 

By Al Mayadeen English 

US President Joe Biden’s lawyers discovered a second batch of classified documents from his vice presidency at a new location.

President Joe Biden visits Mexico City on January 9. (Getty Images)

Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called for a Congressional investigation of Biden after classified documents were found at his home in Wilmington, Delaware.

“Congress has to investigate this,” McCarthy said, pointing to the Justice Department’s investigation of former president Donald Trump for keeping more than 100 classified documents at his home in Palm Beach, Florida.

Moreover, Republican lawmakers in Congress will look into President Joe Biden’s mishandling of classified government records while serving as vice president because it is a serious felony, Republican Congressman Paul Gosar said on Thursday.

A day after the president was briefed about the first set of records discovered in his private office in Washington, Biden’s lawyers discovered a second batch of classified documents from his vice presidency at a new location.

“Joe Biden stole classified documents and secretly hid them in his office while he was Vice President yet suddenly democrats could care less. Negligently retaining classified documents is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Republicans in congress will investigate and see to it that Biden answers for his crimes,” Gosar said in a statement.

In the same context, the White House announced Thursday that “a small number” of classified documents dating from the Obama-Biden administration had been discovered at Joe Biden’s private residence in Wilmington, Delaware.

Other documents were discovered at a Washington think tank where Biden used to work, embarrassing the White House as authorities investigate an even larger scandal involving ex-President Donald Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents.

Biden says ‘cooperating fully’ with classified documents review

In the meantime, Biden stated on Thursday that he is “fully cooperating” with a Justice Department investigation after classified documents were discovered at his private residence in Wilmington, Delaware.

Lawyers “discovered a small number of documents with classified markings in storage areas and file cabinets in my home and my personal library,” Biden said, adding, “I take classified documents and classified material seriously.”

Yesterday, Biden said that he was “surprised” to learn that classified documents were taken to his personal office after he left the vice presidency and that he has no idea what is in the records. Meanwhile, Democratic and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill demanded more information about the discovery that prompted a Justice Department investigation.

“I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there are any government records that were taken there to that office,” Biden said during a news conference in Mexico City on Tuesday evening.

“But I don’t know what’s in the documents. My lawyers have not suggested I ask what documents they were. I’ve turned over the boxes — they’ve turned over the boxes to the Archives. And we’re cooperating fully — cooperating fully with the review, which I hope will be finished soon, and there will be more detail at that time,” he added.

This came after the White House confirmed that the US Justice Department is reviewing a batch of potentially classified documents found in the office space of Biden’s former institute in Washington.

Richard Sauber, special counsel to Biden, indicated that “a small number of documents with classified markings” were discovered when the President’s personal attorneys were emptying the offices of the Penn Biden Center, where Biden kept an office after he left the vice presidency in 2017 until shortly before he launched his presidential campaign in 2019.

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Dictators welcomed and safe from prosecution in the US

Wednesday, 04 January 2023 10:47 AM  

[ Last Update: Wednesday, 04 January 2023 10:51 AM ]

Mohammad Bin Salman, Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister (File Image)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman being granted immunity from prosecution in US reassuring dictators around the world that they are safe in America.

In September, as a lawsuit was proceeding against him in a federal court in the United States, Mohammed bin Salman abruptly became Saudi Arabia’s Prime Minister, a role with several rights that he had not enjoyed previously as the country’s Crown Prince.

That dubious move paid off on Thursday, November 17, when the US State Department said that bin Salman enjoyed head of state immunity in US courts effectively dooming the lawsuit filed against him for his role in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

How bin Salman escaped punishment

Khashoggi was a loyalist turned dissident who lived in self exile in the United States and wrote articles critical of Bin Salman for The Washington Post.

In late 2018 he traveled to Turkey to obtain papers he needed to marry his Turkish fiancée from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

On October 2, he entered the diplomatic building. He never left, not on his own feet. A hit squad flown in from Saudi Arabia had been waiting for him inside the consulate where they tortured him to death, and then dismembered his body, taking his limbs outside in suitcases.

Khashoggi’s fiancé, Hatice Cengiz, waited for hours outside the consulate for him to emerge, when he didn’t she alerted the Turkish police.

Soon, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a personal friend of the couple, joined the fray with full force and hardly a day went by without President Erdogan, or the Turkish Government, commenting publicly on the case, thus directing international attention to the Saudi government, or dropping hints that bin Salman, the Crown Prince, may have been personally involved.

Erdogan hosts MBS on his first visit to Turkey since Khashoggi murder

Saudi Arabia

Plenty of evidence, no prosecution

Turkish security agencies even released audio tapes from inside the consulate with people yelling and Khashoggi screaming, effectively detailing the grisly murder and keeping the international community focused.

And only a month and a half after the murder, The Washington Post, which had been Khashoggi’s publication of choice, dropped a bombshell. The CIA had concluded that Mohammed bin Salman had personally ordered Khashoggi murder. The CIA never spoke publicly about their findings on the matter.

Already the world had learned of an earlier princely gambit whereby Mohammed had become Crown Prince through what US media described as a coup d’etat, purging his rivals and holding the then Crown Prince in custody until he agreed to step down.

To learn that the prince had become so emboldened as to order the murder of his critics in a foreign country was seen to have been a step too far, and it seemed that the prince was finally going to be held to account.

There was reason to believe that since President Erdogan was unrelenting in his public admonishments of Saudi Arabia.

Years later, both before and after he assumed office, US President Joe Biden was openly critical of Saudi Arabia. At one point during a presidential debate when he was asked about the Khashoggi case, Biden said he would make the Saudis “pay the price and make them in fact the pariah that they are”.

All of that angry moral posturing went down the drain of history when the US State Department said that the Saudi Prince had legal immunity in the United States of America as Prime Minister, Saudi King Salman, MBS’s father, had already bent over backwards to make that possible, but even he himself couldn’t believe that the Americans would fall for his scheme that easily.

Legally the prime minister himself as King of the country, King Salman acted against Saudi law by delegating that position to his son in late September just as Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiance, was doing everything she could to have justice served in a court of law.

The US mulls lifting a ban on the sale of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia; however, the final decision is expected to hinge on the KSA ending the war in neighboring Yemen.

President Biden’s rhetoric, and his anger over a move by OPEC+ to limit output at a time of energy difficulties for the US and Europe had given further hope even though the Turkish denunciations had already died down years ago.

Fraught as it is with behind the scenes jockeying, betrayals and other moral failures, world politics took away not just one woman’s hope for justice, but the entire world’s faith in the willingness of the US and other governments to stand up to tyranny, despite all the rhetoric to the opposite effect, killing Hatice Cengiz’s hope for justice and perhaps closure.

The US and others had one message for all murderous dictators in the world: You’re safe in America.

The prince and the spy, MBS vs al-Jabri

The prince and the spy, MBS vs al-Jabri

Barely five years since he came to prominence as the crown Prince, and the de facto leader of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, MBS has shocked the world with his callous disregard for human life.


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Dems’ win in key midterm races boosted by Latino voters: Study

JANUARY 04, 2023

Source: Axios

By Al Mayadeen English 

Republicans have long demonized Hispanics, regardless of immigration status.

Midterms stats reveal Hispanics boosted Dems’ chances in several races

A study conducted by research firm Equis revealed to Axios that Latino votes were just enough to help Democrats win several key races in multiple states, including Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. 

Prior to the release of these findings, several analysts forecasted that the Dems would be losing support from the Hispanic community, instead joining the Republican side. 

For instance, in some Hispanic-majority communities in Arizona, Democrat Senator Mark Kelly beat outspoken Trump-supported and Republican Blake Masters, while the analysis found Kelly marginally exceeded the number of votes President Biden got in 2020.

In Nevada, the Hispanic community provided a strong boost for Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, who also happens to be the nation’s only Latina Senator. The results show that “just enough” Latinos voted for her to win the race by a “tight margin”.

As for South Texas, Republican Mayra Flores failed to get re-elected after she had won an election for a traditionally Democratic seat. 

But in Florida, where Republican Ron DeSantis won the race, the analysis strangely reveals that Republican gains were the highest among non-Cuban American and non-Puerto Rican Latino voters. 

GOP candidates managed to capture governor’s seats in Arizona and Nevada although Dems had in both states earned less support than Biden in 2020. 

“Whereas in Florida the shifts among Latino voters could be measured in yards, elsewhere it was a matter of inches,” said Carlos Odio, co-founder of Equis Labs, adding that Dems had done “just enough” among Latino voters to win key races to stave off GOP wins across the nation. 

“I think the top line is that Latinos live in a perpetual persuasion window,” Tory Gavito, president and CEO of leftist home base Way to Win, told Axios, stressing that Latino voters backed Democrats in the midterms because Republicans were about “chaos, mobs, and MAGA.”

Dems need to invest more time and energy into explaining how their agenda will support the Latino community. 

These results come against the backdrop of recent moves initiated by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to pressure the Biden administration to take action on immigration enforcement and border security.

Governor Abbott began transporting migrants from border cities to the capital in April, which landed him heavy criticism.

The Texas governor explained his decision to move the migrants in a letter to President Biden that he was doing so because migrant housing facilities had to release residents outside onto the streets due to frigid conditions in places like El Paso.

“Your policies will leave many people in the bitter, dangerous cold as a polar vortex moves into Texas,” Abbott wrote. “Texas has borne a lopsided burden caused by your open border policies.”

The Republican also described the current border crisis as a “catastrophe” for which Biden was solely responsible. “This terrible crisis for border communities in Texas is a catastrophe of your own making,” he wrote.

“The need to address this crisis is not the job of border states like Texas. Instead, the US Constitution dictates that it is your job, Mr. President, to defend the borders of our country, regulate our nation’s immigration, and manage those who seek refuge here,” he added.

Abbott also cautioned that if the federal government abandons its Title 42 policy, which limits the number of immigrants who are permitted to enter the United States, the problem will only grow worse.

The Department of Homeland Security projects between 9,000 and 15,000 migrant encounters a day once the policy ends, a surge that would add to the already highest annual total of encounters in US history.

In September last year, 101 migrants on board two buses sent by Texan governor Greg Abbott were dropped off next to Vice President Kamala Harris’ home in Washington, D.C., according to American sources. 

The 101 migrants were picked up in Eagle Pass, Texas, and were sent to Washington under the care and supervision of the non-profit organization Sanctuary DMV. According to the organization, it had arranged for a church to offer them a “safe location”.

Most of the migrants were from South American countries, such as Venezuela, Uruguay, Colombia, and Mexico.

On December 25, 2022, another three buses bringing migrants from Texas arrived in Washington, D.C. One of the buses dropped off its passengers close to Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence.

Abbott has previously sent dozens of buses of migrants across northern parts of the US, including New York, DC, and Chicago. Texas’ migrant buses are meant to send a message about immigration and antagonize Democrats as Southern states have been protesting the White House’s inability to manage the border and migrant crises by relocating migrants to so-called sanctuary states.

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Zelensky lands in US, meets with Biden

December 22, 2022 

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives in Washington, DC, as he expects the United States to send more arms and other equipment to his country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with US President Joe Biden at the White House, Washington, DC, United States, December 21, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived at the White House on Wednesday for a meeting with US President Joe Biden in light of the ongoing war in his country.

Biden and First Lady Jill Biden greeted Zelensky upon his arrival for bilateral talks regarding the war, as well as views on a potential peace and further sanctions on Moscow.

Zelensky landed in the US earlier in the day as part of a trip to Washington, which was only announced on the eve of his visit.

The Ukrainian President will be addressing a joint session of the US Congress on Wednesday evening as lawmakers mull ratifying legislation that will include billions of dollars to be sent to Ukraine as “aid”.

The United States involved itself excessively in security arrangements to bring Zelensky to the US, according to the White House. 

According to media reports, US military aircraft escorted Zelensky to Washington.

Retired US Marine Corps Intelligence Officer Scott Ritter revealed Tuesday that the West is laying the groundwork to overthrow Zelensky and replace him with Valery Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces.

In an interview for the Judging Freedom YouTube channel, Ritter claimed that “the West pushed Zelensky into the background, focusing on Zaluzhny as the future leader of Ukraine.”

According to Ritter, there is a tendency in the Western media to promote the figure of Zaluzhny, pointing out that the days of the reign of Zelensky are coming to an end, as he no longer has the previous power and could not influence the subsequent outcome of events.

“People like General Zaluzhny will determine the future of Kiev. When the conflict reaches its final stage, it will be he who will sit at the negotiating table from Ukraine’s side,” the retired intelligence officer indicated.

Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi had also indicated that Zelensky is trying to involve NATO in a direct conflict with Russia, explaining that the Ukrainian President and his advisors are determined to escalate the situation.

Winter as a weapon

Biden said the US would continue sending aid to Kiev while increasing military support for the country, including in terms of air defense systems.

“We are going to continue to strengthen Ukraine’s ability to defend itself, particularly air defense. That’s why we’re gonna be providing Ukraine with a Patriot missile battery and training Ukrainian forces to use it,” Biden said.

During remarks alongside Zelensky, Biden claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to use winter as a weapon in Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine.

“He’s trying to use winter as a weapon,” Biden said during remarks in the Oval office.

Biden has already started fulfilling his promises.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier in the day that the United States will provide an additional $1.85 billion in military assistance for Ukraine, with the assistance consisting of a Patriot air defense system.

“$1.85 Billion in Additional US Military Assistance, including the First Transfer of Patriot Air Defense System,” Blinken said in a press release.

The Pentagon announced on Wednesday that one Patriot air defense system, additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), and High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs), among other military hardware, are included in the recently announced $1.85 billion US security assistance package for Ukraine.

According to the press release, the package also includes small guns, explosives, armored vehicles, mortar systems, and 500 precisely guided 155mm artillery rounds.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Washington for several hours

Zelensky in US Congress confirms war in Ukraine is war for US

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses a joint session at the US Congress to reaffirm that if Russia wins the war in Ukraine, the world order established by the US post WWII will inevitably crumble.

Ukrainian President brings Ukrainian flag to US Congress in joint session only to have it raised by US House Speaker (AP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived at the White House on Wednesday for a meeting with US President Joe Biden in light of the ongoing war in his country and addressed the US Congress in a joint session as lawmakers mull ratifying legislation that will include billions of dollars to be sent to Ukraine as “aid.”

During the address, Zelensky urged US lawmakers to provide his forces with more weapons as well as impose additional anti-Russian sanctions.
 
“We have artillery, yes – thank you,” Zelensky acknowledged in his address, and then questioned whether that is enough and went on to answer himself “Honestly, not really.”
 
Zelensky claimed that “to make sure the Russians completely pull out, more shells and cannons are needed.”

The Ukrainian President then called for increased unilateral sanctions against Russia, arguing that Congress had the capacity to impose stronger sanctions. 

Early in his address Zelensky claimed that Kiev has already “defeated Russia in the battle for minds of the world” and the rest of the West had achieved a “victory” over the Russian Federation which he insisted “will never influence us again.”

Zelensky also used the occasion to attack not only the Russian Federation, but also Iran as he stated that “Russia found an ally” in what he called “its homicidal strategy – Iran.”

Furthermore, Zelensky added that “one terrorist has found the other,” and warned that the Russia-Iran partnership threatened not just Ukraine, but all Western nations, as he stated that “It is just a matter of time before they strike your other allies if we do not stop them now.”

Also in his speech, the Ukrainian President hinted that only regime change will “liberate” Russia and noted that “the Russians will stand a chance to be free only when they defeat the Kremlin in their minds.”

Zelensky agrees with Putin, fights until the last Ukrainian

There were a few significant statements in Zelensky’s speech where he reaffirmed that the war in Ukraine is about changing the world order. Zelensky stated “This struggle will define in what world our children and grandchildren will live, and then their children and grandchildren.” 

While he pointed out that this war is one for generations to come, he added that he, and those whom he represented in Ukraine and the world, stand with the American version of the world order. He recalled US President Franklin Roosevelt, who defined modern liberalism in the US and dominated US politics throughout the two World Wars; an era that set the current global world order.

Zelensky stated, “the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory,” referring to victory in the war in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian President also stated, whilst in the US Congress, that a potential victory against Russia “will prove to any potential aggressor that no one can succeed in breaking national borders, no one committing atrocities and reigning over people against their will.”

It is of note that the US is currently illegally occupying Syrian soil and looting Syrian oil, and is currently in violation of numerous international resolutions and the UN charter in a number of countries.

Moreover, Zelensky brought with him a flag from Bakhmut to the US and described it as “a symbol of our victory,” wherein the US and Ukraine are fighting one and the same war against world order change. and then noted that “we will win because we are united — Ukraine, America, and the entire free world.”

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, agreed with the Ukrainian President and tweeted that “the fight for Ukraine is the fight for democracy itself.”

Zelensky, in conclusion, thanked the US and added “may God protect our brave troops and citizens, may God forever bless the United States of America. “

Read more: Putin: The world is changing for the better

Some members of Congress were not impressed

GOP Representatives Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, Dianne Harshbarger, and Jim Jordan remained seated at times when the rest of the US Congress gave Zelensky a standing ovation. These GOP reps were criticized by others however, their positions were not new. 

Gaetz, on his Twitter page, hinted at US Congress’ double standards as he noted that when 

Jen Psaki, former White House Press Secretary, called Zelensky’s trip a “sales pitch” via her Twitter profile, noting decreasing support for Ukraine in the US.

While Donald Trump Jr. argued that the Ukrainian President is an “ungrateful international welfare queen.”

Republicans vow audit to track Biden’s $20 bln Ukraine aid

It is worth noting that earlier in November, the Biden administration is currently scurrying to track down the approximately $20 billion in military aid it sent to Ukraine, amid a warning by Republicans of impending audits after they take over the House in January.

Incoming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has previously stated that Ukraine will not receive a “blank check”. The purpose of the audit is meant to track how the funds are being delivered and exactly where – as prior suspicions point to many shipped arms ending up on the black market.

Controversial Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, who announced the audit decision, promised to “hold our government accountable”, as other colleagues such as Rep. Jason Crow echoed to the Washington Post: “The taxpayers deserve to know that investment is going where it’s intended to go,” adding: “In any war, there can be missteps and misallocation of supplies.”

The lawmakers called out current monitoring efforts as inadequate since the Biden administration inspected just 10% of the 22,000 weapons transported to Ukraine between February and November 1, according to the Post

However, US allies in Europe believe such an audit won’t fully cut off funding, such as UK Parliament member Tobias Ellwood who said in October: “You’d be playing into Putin’s hands… If America pulls back, Putin could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.”

Read more: Russia operation aimed at derailing West’s ominous plans: Lavrov

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US throws Khashoggi case under a bus after suit against MBS dismissed

7 Dec 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

Prior to his electoral victory, US President Biden pledged he would make MBS a “pariah” and said he would bring justice to the dismembered victim. 

A US federal judge ruled on Wednesday that the lawsuit against the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman be lifted after it was announced by federal authorities that he was basically “immune” from jurisdiction. 

The reason for such entitlement was owed to his title as prime minister of Saudi Arabia which he was granted on September 27, just six days before the State Department’s court-imposed deadline to determine whether Mohammed was protected from legal action.

“The US has informed the court that he is immune, and Mohammed is therefore ‘entitled to head of state immunity … while he remains in office,’”  reads a filing by Judge John D. Bates of the US District Court for the District of Columbia who heeded the motion to protect the Crown Prince despite there being “credible allegations of his involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.”

The filing also dismissed the claims filed against two senior Saudi officials due to a lack of evidence in pushing for a ruling over their case.

Read more: Amnesty: US immunity to MBS ‘deep betrayal’

Civil rights organization, DAWN, founded by the late Jamal Khashoggi condemned the move as a “last ditch effort to escape the jurisdiction of the court.”

“DAWN’s lawsuit against [Mohammed] bin Salman (MBS) for his ruthless murder of Jamal Khashoggi is only one part of our continued efforts for justice and accountability for this crime, and the many other crimes the Saudi government is perpetrating against its own citizens,” a statement reads by the organization’s executive director, Sarah Leah Whitson. “While we are disappointed in the decision, we will consider all options to continue our legal challenges to MBS’s criminal behavior.”

Bin Salman admitted he was responsible for the death of Khashoggi but denied any direct involvement in the assassination. 

Read more: US says MBS’ ‘legal immunity’ was unavoidable, albeit not so sure

Prior to his electoral victory, US President Biden pledged he would make MBS a “pariah” and said he would bring justice to the dismembered victim. 

But when Biden greeted MBS earlier this year with a fist bump, it was clear to the public that Biden broke his vow.

In response to the outrageous move, Khashoggi’s fiance, Hatice Cengiz, urged the President to “uphold your promise to pursue justice for Jamal.”

“President Biden, imagine yourself in my position, trying to move on while knowing that the people who killed your loved one are still free,” Cengiz wrote. “Imagine the trauma of knowing that what happened to your loved one can and will happen to someone else because the perpetrators know there will be no consequences.”

Read more: 

Operation Claw-Sword: Erdogan’s big new game in Syria

November 27, 2022

by Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and widely cross-posted

Wily Sultan is caught between his electorate, which favors a Syria invasion, and his extremely nuanced relations with Russia

There’s another Special Military Operation on the market. No, it’s not Russia “denazifying” and “demilitarizing” Ukraine – and, therefore, it’s no wonder that this other operation is not ruffling feathers across the collective West.

Operation Claw-Sword was launched by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as revenge – highly emotional and concerted – for Kurdish terrorist attacks against Turkish citizens. Some of the missiles that Ankara launched in this aerial campaign carried the names of Turkish victims.

The official Ankara spin is that the Turkish Armed Forces fully achieved their “air operation objectives” in the north of Syria and in Iraqi Kurdistan, and made those responsible for the terror attack against civilians in Istanbul’s Istiklal pedestrian street pay in “multitudes.”

And this is supposed to be just the first stage. For the third time in 2022, Sultan Erdogan is also promising a ground invasion of Kurdish-held territories in Syria.

However, according to diplomatic sources, that’s not going to happen – even as scores of Turkish experts are adamant that the invasion is needed sooner rather than later.

The wily Sultan is caught between his electorate, which favors an invasion, and his extremely nuanced relations with Russia – which encompass a large geopolitical and geo-economic arc.

He well knows that Moscow can apply all manner of pressure levers to dissuade him. For instance, Russia at the last minute annulled the weekly dispatch of a joint Russo-Turkish patrol in Ain al Arab that was taking place on Mondays.

Ain al Arab is a highly strategic territory: the missing link, east of the Euphrates, capable of offering continuity between Idlib and Ras al Ayn, occupied by dodgy Turkish-aligned gangs near the Turkish border.

Erdogan knows he can’t jeopardize his positioning as potential EU-Russia mediator while obtaining maximum profit from bypassing the anti-Russian embargo-sanctions combo.

The Sultan, juggling multiple serious dossiers, is deeply convinced that he’s got what it takes to bring Russia and NATO to the negotiating table and, ultimately, end the war in Ukraine.

In parallel, he thinks he may stay on top of Turkey-Israel relations; a rapprochement with Damascus; the sensitive internal situation in Iran; Turkey-Azerbaijan relations; the non-stop metamorphoses across the Mediterranean; and the drive towards Eurasia integration.

He’s hedging all his bets between NATO and Eurasia.

‘Close down all of our southern borders’

The green light for Claw-Sword came from Erdogan while he was on his presidential plane, returning from the G20 in Bali. That happened only one day after he had met US President Joe Biden where, according to a presidential Erdogan statement, the subject had not come up.

“We held no meeting with Mr Biden or [Russian President Vladimir] Putin regarding the operation. They both already know that we can do such things at any moment in this region,” the statement said.

Washington not getting briefed on Claw-Sword mirrored Erdogan not getting invited to an extraordinary G7-NATO meeting in Bali, on the sidelines of the G20.

Then-US vice president Joe Biden (L) speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul. Photo: AFP / Bulent Kilic

That meeting was called by the White House to deal with the by-now notorious Ukrainian S-300 missile that fell in Polish territory. At the time, no one at the table had any conclusive evidence about what happened. And Turkey was not even invited to the table – which profoundly incensed the Sultan.

So it’s no wonder Erdogan, mid-week, said that Claw-Sword was “just the beginning.” Addressing AKP party lawmakers in Parliament, he said Turkey is determined to “close down all of our southern borders … with a security corridor that will prevent the possibility of attacks on our country.”

The ground invasion promise remains: It will begin “at the most convenient time for us” and will target the regions of Tel Rifaat, Mambij and Kobane, which the Sultan called “sources of trouble.”

Ankara has already wreaked havoc, using drones, on the main headquarters of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, whose commanders believe the main target of a potential Turkish ground invasion would be Kobane.

Significantly, this is the first time a Turkish drone targeted an area extremely close to a US base. And Kobane is highly symbolic: the place where the Americans sealed a collaboration with Syrian Kurds to – in theory – fight ISIS.

And that explains why the Syrian Kurds are appalled by the American non-response to the Turkish strikes. They blame – who else? – the Sultan for stoking “nationalist sentiments” ahead of the 2023 elections, which Erdogan now stands a great chance to win despite the catastrophic state of the Turkish economy.

As it stands, there is no Turkish troop buildup near Kobane – just airstrikes. Which brings us to the all-important Russian factor.

Manbij and Tel Rifaat, west of the Euphrates, are much more important for Russia than Kobane, because they are both vital for the defense of Aleppo against possible Salafi-jihadi attacks.

What may potentially happen in the near future makes the situation even murkier. Ankara intel may use Hayat Tahrir al-Sham jihadis – which have already taken over parts of Afrin – as a sort of “vanguard” in a ground invasion of Syrian Kurd territory.

Selling stolen Syrian oil to Turkey

The current fog of war includes the notion that the Russians may have sold out the Kurds by leaving them exposed to Turkish bombing. That does not hold – because Russia’s influence over Syrian Kurd territory is negligible compared with the US’s. Only the Americans could “sell out” the Kurds.

The more things change, the more they remain the same in Syria. It could all be summarized as a monumental impasse. This gets even more surrealist because, in effect, Ankara and Moscow have already found the solution for the Syrian tragedy.

The problem is the presence of American forces – essentially protecting those shabby convoys stealing Syrian oil. Russians and Syrians always discuss it. The conclusion is that the Americans are staying by inertia. They do it because they can. And Damascus is powerless to expel them.

The Sultan plays the whole thing with consummate cynicism – in geopolitics and geo-economics. Most of what is unresolved in Syria revolves around territories occupied by de facto gangs that call themselves Kurds, protected by the US. They traffic Syrian oil to resell it mostly to … Turkey.

And then, in a flash, armed gangs that call themselves Kurds may simply abandon their “anti-terrorist” fight by … releasing the terrorists they apprehended, thus increasing the “terrorist threat” all over northeast Syria. They blame – who else? – Turkey. In parallel, the Americans increase financial aid to these armed gangs under the pretext of a “war on terror.”

The distinction between “armed gangs” and “terrorists” is of course razor thin. What matters most of all to Erdogan is that he can use the Kurds as a currency in trade negotiations linked to bypassing anti-Russian embargoes and sanctions.

And that explains why the Sultan may decide to bomb Syrian territory whenever he sees fit, despite any condemnation by Washington or Moscow. The Russians once in a while retake the initiative on the ground – as happened during the Idlib campaign in 2020 when Russians bombed the Turkish military forces that were providing “assistance” to Salafi-jihadis.

A view of the site after attacks carried out by Assad regime in Syria on the city center of Idlib on September 7, 2021. Photo: Izzeddin Kasim / Anadolu Agency

Now a game-changer may be on the cards. The Turkish Army bombed the al-Omar oilfield north of Deir ez-Zor. What this means in practice is that Ankara is now destroying no less than the oil infrastructure of the much-lauded “Kurdish autonomy.”

This infrastructure has been cynically exploited by the US when it comes to the oil that reaches the border with Iraq in Iraqi Kurdistan. So in a sense, Ankara is striking against Syrian Kurds and simultaneously against American robbery of Syrian oil.

The definitive game-changer may be approaching. That will be the meeting between Erdogan and Bashar al-Assad, (Remember the decade-long refrain “Assad must go”?)

Location: Russia. Mediator:  Vladimir Putin, in person. It’s not far-fetched to imagine this meeting paving the way for those Kurdish armed gangs, essentially played by Washington as useful idiots, to end up being decimated by Ankara.

Biden Administration Grants Saudi’s MBS ‘Immunity’ in Khashoggi Murder Case

November 18, 2022

US President Joe Biden with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman during a visit to the Kingdom in July 2022.

The Biden administration has told a US court that Mohammed bin Salman should be granted sovereign immunity in a civil case involving the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, effectively ending a last-ditch attempt to hold the Saudi crown prince legally accountable for the 2018 killing.

In a filing released late on Thursday night, the Biden administration said the crown prince’s recent promotion to the role of prime minister meant that he was “the sitting head of government and, accordingly, immune” from the lawsuit.

“The United States government has expressed grave concerns regarding Jamal Khashoggi’s horrific killing and has raised these concerns publicly and with the most senior levels of the Saudi government,” the Department of Justice said in its filing, adding that the US had also imposed financial sanctions and visa restrictions related to the murder.

“However, the doctrine of head of state immunity is well established in customary international law and has been consistently recognized in longstanding executive branch practice as a status-based determination that does not reflect a judgment on the underlying conduct at issue in the litigation,” it said.

The government’s filing included an attached letter from Richard Visek, acting legal adviser to the US state department, instructing the Department of Justice to submit a “suggestion of immunity” to the court.

Legal experts say the US government’s position, which was filed to a US district court, will likely lead judge John Bates to dismiss a civil case brought against Prince Mohammed, known by his initials MBS by Hatice Cengiz, the outspoken fiancee of Khashoggi.

Back in 2019, in the wake of the assassination of Washington Post, then-presidential candidate Biden promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the kingdom’s human rights record.

Biden repeatedly talked about reevaluating and reassessing US-Saudi relations. To his credit, Biden seemed to follow through on this early in his presidency by suspending offensive weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, freezing contacts with MBS, and releasing a brief assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence establishing the Saudi crown prince’s role in and responsibility for Khashoggi’s death.

Thursday’s decision is likely to provoke an angry reaction. The White House had hoped the July trip by President Joe Biden to Saudi Arabia would get the rocky US-Saudi relationship back on track but since then, relations have only continued to sour.

The relationship is being reevaluated, the White House has said earlier in October, in the wake of an oil production cut by Saudi-led OPEC+ that the administration saw as a direct affront to the US. Members of Congress, already infuriated by the oil cut and calling for a reevaluation, will likely only be angered further if the prince is given immunity.

Source: Agencies

US hands down ‘immunity’ to MBS in Khashoggi murder case

The G20’s Balinese geopolitical dance

FRIDAY, NOV 18, 2022 

BY TYLER DURDEN

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

Xi has few reasons to take Biden – rather, the group writing every script in the background – at face value…

Balinese culture, a perpetual exercise in sophisticated subtlety, makes no distinction between the secular and the supernatural – sekala and niskala.

Sekala is what our senses may discern. As in the ritualized gestures of world leaders – real and minor – at a highly polarized G20.

Niskala is what cannot be sensed directly and can only be “suggested”. And that also applies to geopolitics.

The Balinese highlight may have featured an intersection of sekala and niskala: the much ballyhooed Xi-Biden face-to-face (or face to earpiece).

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs preferred to cut to the chase, selecting the Top Two highlights.

1. Xi told Biden – rather, his earpiece – that Taiwan independence is simply out of the question.

2. Xi also hopes that NATO, EU and US will engage in “comprehensive dialogue” with Moscow.

Asian cultures – be they Balinese or Confucianist – are non-confrontational. Xi laid out three layers of common interests: prevent conflict and confrontation, leading to peaceful coexistence; benefit from each other’s development; and promote post-COVID global recovery, tackle climate change and face regional problems via coordination.

Significantly, the 3h30 meeting happened at the Chinese delegation’s residence in Bali, and not at the G20 venue. And it was requested by the White House.

Biden, according to the Chinese, affirmed that the US does not seek a New Cold War; does not support “Taiwan independence”; does not support “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”; does not seek “decoupling” from China; and does not want to contain China.

Now tell that to the Straussians/neo-cons/neoliberalcons bent on containing China. Reality spells out that Xi has few reasons to take “Biden” – rather the combo writing every script in the background – at face value. So as it stands, we remain in niskala.

That zero-sum game

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was dealt a terrible hand: how to hold a G20 to discuss food and energy security, sustainable development, and climate issues, when everything under the sun is polarized by the war in Ukraine.

Widodo did his best, urging all at the G20 to “end the war”, with a subtle hint that “being responsible means creating not zero-sum situations.”

The problem is a great deal of the G20 arrived in Bali bent on zero-sum – seeking confrontation (with Russia) and hardly any diplomatic conversation.

The US and UK delegations avowedly wanted to snub Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov every step of the way. France and Germany is a different matter: Lavrov did speak briefly with both Macron and Scholz. And told them Kiev wants no negotiation.

Lavrov also revealed something quite significant for the Global South:

“US and the EU have given the UN Secretary General written promises that restrictions on the export of Russian grain and fertilizers will be lifted – let’s see how this is implemented.”

The traditional group photo ahead of the G20 – a staple of every summit in Asia – had to be delayed. Because – who else – “Biden” and Sunak, US and UK, refused to be in the same picture with Lavrov.

Such childish, un-diplomatic hysterics is profoundly disrespectful towards ritual Balinese graciousness, politeness and a non-confrontational ethos.

The Western spin is that “most G20 countries” wanted to condemn Russia in Ukraine. Nonsense. Diplomatic sources hinted it may be in fact a 50/50 split. Condemnation comes from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, UK, US and EU. Non-condemnation from Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkiye and of course Russia.

Graphically: Global South against Global North.

So the joint statement will refer to the impacts of the “war in Ukraine” on the global economy, and not “Russia’s war in Ukraine”.

The collapse of the EU economy

What was not happening in Bali enveloped the island in an extra layer of niskala. Which brings us to Ankara.

The fog thickened because on the backdrop of the G20, the US and Russia were talking in Ankara, represented by CIA director William Burns and SVR (Foreign Intel) director Sergei Naryshkin.

No one knows what exactly was being negotiated. A ceasefire is only one among possible scenarios. And yet heated rhetoric from NATO in Brussels to Kiev suggests escalation prevailing over some sort of reconciliation.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was adamant; de facto and de jure, Ukraine can’t and does not want to negotiate. So the Special Military Operation (SMO) will continue.

NATO is training fresh units. Next possible targets are the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant and the left bank of the Dnieper – or even more pressure in the north of Lugansk. For their part, Russian military channels advance the possibility of a winter offensive on Nikolaev: only 30 km away from Russian positions.

Serious Russian military analysts know what serious Pentagon analysts must also know: Russia used at best only 10% of its military potential so far. No regular forces; most of them are DPR and LPR militias, Wagner commandos, Kadyrov’s Chechens and volunteers.

The Americans suddenly interested in talking, and Macron and Scholz approaching Lavrov, point to the heart of the matter: the EU and the UK may not survive next winter, 2023-2024, without Gazprom.

The IEA has calculated that the overall deficit by then will approach 30 billion cubic meters. And that presupposes “ideal” circumstances this coming winter: mostly warm; China still under lockdowns; much lower gas consumption in Europe; even increased production (from Norway?)

The IEA ‘s models are working with two or three waves of price increases in the next 12 months. EU budgets are already on red alert – compensating the losses caused by the current energy suicide. By the end of 2023, that may reach 1 trillion euros.

Any additional, unpredictable costs throughout 2023 mean that the EU economy will completely collapse: industry shutdown across the spectrum, euro in free fall, rise of inflation, debt corroding every latitude from the Club Med nations to France and Germany.

Dominatrix Ursula von der Leyen, leading the European Commission (EC), of course should be discussing all that – in the interests of EU nations – with global players in Bali. Instead her only agenda, once again, was demonization of Russia. No niskala here; just tawdry cognitive dissonance.

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Goodbye G20, hello BRICS+

The increasingly irrelevant G20 Summit concluded with sure signs that BRICS+ will be the way forward for Global South cooperation.

November 17 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

The redeeming quality of a tense G20 held in Bali – otherwise managed by laudable Indonesian graciousness – was to sharply define which way the geopolitical winds are blowing.

That was encapsulated in the Summit’s two highlights: the much anticipated China-US presidential meeting – representing the most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century – and the final G20 statement.

The 3-hour, 30-minute-long face-to-face meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden – requested by the White House – took place at the Chinese delegation’s residence in Bali, and not at the G20 venue at the luxury Apurva Kempinski in Nusa Dua.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs concisely outlined what really mattered. Specifically, Xi told Biden that Taiwan independence is simply out of the question. Xi also expressed hope that NATO, the EU, and the US will engage in “comprehensive dialogue” with Russia. Instead of confrontation, the Chinese president chose to highlight the layers of common interest and cooperation.

Biden, according to the Chinese, made several points. The US does not seek a New Cold War; does not support “Taiwan independence;” does not support “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”; does not seek “decoupling” from China; and does not want to contain Beijing.

However, the recent record shows Xi has few reasons to take Biden at face value.

The final G20 statement was an even fuzzier matter: the result of arduous compromise.

As much as the G20 is self-described as “the premier forum for global economic cooperation,” engaged to “address the world’s major economic challenges,” the G7 inside the G20 in Bali had the summit de facto hijacked by war. “War” gets almost double the number of mentions in the statement compared to “food” after all.

The collective west, including the Japanese vassal state, was bent on including the war in Ukraine and its “economic impacts” – especially the food and energy crisis – in the statement. Yet without offering even a shade of context, related to NATO expansion. What mattered was to blame Russia – for everything.

The Global South effect

It was up to this year’s G20 host Indonesia – and the next host, India – to exercise trademark Asian politeness and consensus building. Jakarta and New Delhi worked extremely hard to find wording that would be acceptable to both Moscow and Beijing. Call it the Global South effect.

Still, China wanted changes in the wording. This was opposed by western states, while Russia did not review the last-minute wording because Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had already departed.

On point 3 out of 52, the statement “expresses its deepest regret over the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and demands the complete and unconditional withdrawal of armed forces from the territory of Ukraine.”

“Russian aggression” is the standard NATO mantra – not shared by virtually the whole Global South.

The statement draws a direct correlation between the war and a non-contextualized “aggravation of pressing problems in the global economy – slowing economic growth, rising inflation, disruption of supply chains, worsening energy, and food security, increased risks to financial stability.”

As for this passage, it could not be more self-evident: “The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible. The peaceful resolution of conflicts, efforts to address crises, as well as diplomacy and dialogue, are vital. Today’s era must not be of war.”

This is ironic given that NATO and its public relations department, the EU, “represented” by the unelected eurocrats of the European Commission, don’t do “diplomacy and dialogue.”

Fixated with war

Instead the US, which controls NATO, has been weaponizing Ukraine, since March, by a whopping $91.3 billion, including the latest presidential request, this month, of $37.7 billion. That happens to be 33 percent more than Russia’s total (italics mine) military spending for 2022.

Extra evidence of the Bali Summit being hijacked by “war” was provided by the emergency meeting, called by the US, to debate what ended up being a Ukrainian S-300 missile falling on a Polish farm, and not the start of WWIII like some tabloids hysterically suggested.

Tellingly, there was absolutely no one from the Global South in the meeting – the sole Asian nation being the Japanese vassal, part of the G7.

Compounding the picture, we had the sinister Davos master Klaus Schwab once again impersonating a Bond villain at the B20 business forum, selling his Great Reset agenda of “rebuilding the world” through pandemics, famines, climate change, cyber attacks, and – of course – wars.

As if this was not ominous enough, Davos and its World Economic Forum are now ordering Africa – completely excluded from the G20 – to pay $2.8 trillion to “meet its obligations” under the Paris Agreement to minimize greenhouse gas emissions.

The demise of the G20 as we know it

The serious fracture between Global North and Global South, so evident in Bali, had already been suggested in Phnom Penh, as Cambodia hosted the East Asia Summit this past weekend.

The 10 members of ASEAN had made it very clear they remain unwilling to follow the US and the G7 in their collective demonization of Russia and in many aspects China.

The Southeast Asians are also not exactly excited by the US-concocted IPEF (Indo-Pacific Economic Framework), which will be irrelevant in terms of slowing down China’s extensive trade and connectivity across Southeast Asia.

And it gets worse. The self-described “leader of the free world” is shunning the extremely important APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Bangkok at the end of this week.

For very sensitive and sophisticated Asian cultures, this is seen as an affront. APEC, established way back in 1990s to promote trade across the Pacific Rim, is about serious Asia-Pacific business, not Americanized “Indo-Pacific” militarization.

The snub follows Biden’s latest blunder when he erroneously addressed Cambodia’s Hun Sen as “prime minister of Colombia” at the summit in Phnom Penh.

Lining up to join BRICS

It is safe to say that the G20 may have plunged into an irretrievable path toward irrelevancy. Even before the current Southeast Asian summit wave – in Phnom Penh, Bali and Bangkok – Lavrov had already signaled what comes next when he noted that “over a dozen countries” have applied to join BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa).

Iran, Argentina, and Algeria have formally applied: Iran, alongside Russia, India, and China, is already part of the Eurasian Quad that really matters.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Afghanistan are extremely interested in becoming members. Indonesia just applied, in Bali. And then there’s the next wave: Kazakhstan, UAE, Thailand (possibly applying this weekend in Bangkok), Nigeria, Senegal, and Nicaragua.

It’s crucial to note that all of the above sent their Finance Ministers to a BRICS Expansion dialogue in May. A short but serious appraisal of the candidates reveals an astonishing unity in diversity.

Lavrov himself noted that it will take time for the current five BRICS to analyze the immense geopolitical and geoeconomic implications of expanding to the point of virtually reaching the size of the G20 – and without the collective west.

What unites the candidates above all is the possession of massive natural resources: oil and gas, precious metals, rare earths, rare minerals, coal, solar power, timber, agricultural land, fisheries, and fresh water. That’s the imperative when it comes to designing a new resource-based reserve currency to bypass the US dollar.

Let’s assume that it may take up to 2025 to have this new BRICS+ configuration up and running. That would represent roughly 45 percent of confirmed global oil reserves and over 60 percent of confirmed global gas reserves (and that will balloon if gas republic Turkmenistan later joins the group).

The combined GDP – in today’s figures – would be roughly $29.35 trillion; much larger than the US ($23 trillion) and at least double the EU ($14.5 trillion, and falling).

As it stands, BRICS account for 40 percent of the global population and 25 percent of GDP. BRICS+ would congregate 4.257 billion people: over 50 percent of the total global population as it stands.

BRI embraces BRICS+

BRICS+ will be striving towards interconnection with a maze of institutions: the most important are the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), itself featuring a list of players itching to become full members; strategic OPEC+, de facto led by Russia and Saudi Arabia; and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s overarching trade and foreign policy framework for the 21st century. It is worth pointing out that early all crucial Asian players have joined the BRI.

Then there are the close links of BRICS with a plethora of regional trade blocs: ASEAN, Mercosur, GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), Arab Trade Zone, African Continental Free Trade Area, ALBA, SAARC, and last but not least the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the largest trade deal on the planet, which includes a majority of BRI partners.

BRICS+ and BRI is a match everywhere you look at it – from West Asia and Central Asia to the Southeast Asians (especially Indonesia and Thailand). The multiplier effect will be key – as BRI members will be inevitably attracting more candidates for BRICS+.

This will inevitably lead to a second wave of BRICS+ hopefuls including, most certainly, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, three more Central Asians (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and gas republic Turkmenistan), Pakistan, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka, and in Latin America, a hefty contingent featuring Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Venezuela.

Meanwhile, the role of the BRICS’s New Development Bank (NDB) as well as the China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will be enhanced – coordinating infrastructure loans across the spectrum, as BRICS+ will be increasingly shunning dictates imposed by the US-dominated IMF and the World Bank.

All of the above barely sketches the width and depth of the geopolitical and geoeconomic realignments further on down the road – affecting every nook and cranny of global trade and supply chain networks. The G7’s obsession in isolating and/or containing the top Eurasian players is turning on itself in the framework of the G20. In the end, it’s the G7 that may be isolated by the BRICS+ irresistible force.

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

Biden hopes Congress upholds the US’ support for Ukraine

10 Nov 2022

Source: Agencies

    During the press conference US President Joe Biden says that there had been no tampering with voting process of the US midterm elections.

    President Joe Biden answers questions from reporters as he speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022 (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    US President Joe Biden stated during a news conference on Wednesday that the ‘red wave’ that many had projected would occur in the US midterm elections did not occur.

    “While the press and the pundits are predicting a giant red wave, it didn’t happen,” Biden said on Wednesday.

    According to NBC News’ projections as of Wednesday afternoon, the Democrats are predicted to win 213 seats in the US House of Representatives, while the Republicans are predicted to win 222 seats. However, because certain final findings have not yet been verified, these figures might change.

    If Democrats maintain control of the US Senate or whether Republicans get a majority will depend on the results of the Senate election results in the states of Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada. In order to take control of the upper chamber of Congress, Republicans must triumph in two of the three states.

    Furthermore, Biden asserted, during a news conference, that there was no meddling with the US midterm election voting process.

    According to Biden, “The states across the country saw record voter turnout and the heart and soul of our democracy, the voters, the poll workers, election officials, they did their job, and they fulfill their duty, apparently without much interference at all without any interference it looks like and that’s a testament I think to the American people.”

    During the press conference, Biden reaffirmed his optimism and hope that the new Congress “will continue this bipartisan approach of controlling Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.”

    Biden: Democracy does not happen by accident

    US President Joe Biden praised voters, poll workers, and various officials on Wednesday for participating in the midterm elections. He also said he will make further comments concerning the vote and take questions later in the afternoon.

    “I’ll have more to say this afternoon, but thanks to the poll workers and officials that worked into the night to safeguard our sacred right to vote. And the millions who made their voices heard,” Biden said via Twitter.

    According to the White House, Biden will be holding a press conference at 4:00 pm to deliver his remarks.

    Read more: Trump midterm elections remarks: Who has ever done better than that?

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    نصف هزيمة للديموقراطيين: القبَلية الحزبية تنتصر

     الخميس 10 تشرين الثاني 2022

    الأخبار  

    أميركا: انتصار القبَلية الحزبية

    اتّسمت المنافسة بحدِّة غير مسبوقة، هي نتاجٌ للشرخ المتعاظم بين الحزبَين (أ ف ب)

    على رغم أن الموجة الحمراء العملاقة لم تبلغ مداها المنظور، فهي تمكّنت من إنزال بعض العقاب بالرئيس الأميركي، جو بايدن، وحاشيته، بعد سنتَين من رئاسة أقلّ ما يُقال فيها إنها أسوأ من سابقتها، وربّما بأضعاف. لم يُحسن بايدن شيئاً، كما لم يَحسب، ربّما، أن مَن أزاحوا خصمه، دونالد ترامب، في انتخابات 2021، قد يعيدونه، ولكن بوجوه كثيرة على شكل مشرّعين وسناتورات، سيشرف جميعهم، باسمه، على عرقلة خطط الرئيس الحاكم ومشاريعه التي لم ترَ منها أميركا شيئاً، إلّا مزيداً من التضخّم، ومزيداً من الغلاء الذي لم يَعُد، بالنسبة إلى كثيرين، محمولاً. مع هذا، طغت الولاءات الحزبية على سباق «النصفيات» الذي يُمكن عَدُّه «الأهمّ في التاريخ الأميركي» لِمَا سيترتّب عليه من انعكاسات حتى على الحزب الديموقراطي نفسه. وحتى إنْ لم يتلقَّ الأخير هزيمة نكراء في انتخابات عزّزت آمال المعسكر المقابل لسنين لاحقة، فهو يظلّ، في ميزان الربح والخسارة، مهزوماً


    بيّنت النتائج الأوّلية لانتخابات التجديد النصفي، أن لا فوز كاسحاً للجمهوريين يشبه ما تأمّل به الرئيس الأميركي السابق، دونالد ترامب، وإنْ كان هؤلاء انتزعوا، وفق ما أَظهرته الأرقام الصادرة حتى مساء أمس، السيطرة على مجلس النواب من الديموقراطيين، وسط ترقُّب لمعرفة وجهة مجلس الشيوخ، الذي تشير المعطيات إلى احتمال مراوحته مربّع المناصفة، مع صوت تفضيلي لنائبة الرئيس، كامالا هاريس. وفق الأرقام أيضاً، حصل الحزب الجمهوري على 202 مقعد في «النواب»، في مقابل 184 للحزب الديموقراطي من مجموع 435 مقعداً (يحتاج أيّ حزب لتحقيق الغالبية الساحقة إلى 218 نائباً). وفيما يحتدم الصراع على مجلس الشيوخ، بلغت حصيلة مقاعد الجمهوريين 49، في مقابل 48 لحزب الرئيس، في انتظار الانتهاء من فرز الأصوات في ولايات: نيفادا، أريزونا وجورجيا (يتنافس الحزبان على 35 مقعداً من مقاعد المجلس الـ100).

    وفي منافسةٍ اتّسمت بحدِّة غير مسبوقة، هي نتاجٌ للشرخ المتعاظم بين الحزبَين، بيّنت النتائج غير المكتملة أن هناك ولاءً أكبر للحزبية على حساب القضايا الرئيسة (الاقتصاد، التضخم). وظهر جليّاً، في المقابل، أن آمال الجمهوريين في «موجة حمراء عملاقة» كانت تتضاءل مع ورود النتائج تباعاً، فيما سعى الديموقراطيون الذين تركّزت أجندة سباقهم على قضيَتي الإجهاض والديموقراطية، مبتعدين عن القضايا الاقتصادية، إلى الحدّ من بعض الأضرار، في انتخابات ستكون حاسمة بالنسبة إلى مستقبل كلّ من جو بايدن ودونالد ترامب. ومع تمكُّن الديموقراطي جون فيترمان من انتزاع أهمّ مقعد متنازَع عليه في هذا الاقتراع، هو مقعد مجلس الشيوخ عن ولاية بنسلفانيا في مواجهة مرشّح يدعمه الرئيس السابق، حصل الديموقراطيون على جرعة أمل في الاحتفاظ بالسيطرة على «الشيوخ». وغذّى هذا الفوز أيضاً تكهّنات بأن المدّ المحافظ في مجلس النواب الذي وعد به ترامب، لن يبلغ توقّعاته الطموحة بالحصول على غالبية ساحقة، وهو ما أقرّ به، مثلاً، السناتور ليندسي غراهام، حين قال إن «الأمر ليس بالتأكيد مدّاً جمهوريّاً. هذا أمر مؤكد»، فيما سارع ترامب، من جهته، إلى نفْض يده من أيّ هزيمة غير متوقّعة، قائلاً: «حسناً، أعتقد أنه إذا فازوا، يجب أن أحصل على كلّ الفضل، وإذا خسروا، فلا ينبغي إلقاء اللوم عليّ على الإطلاق».

    من شأن هذه الانتخابات أن ترسم ملامح العامَين المتبقّيين من ولاية الرئيس جو بايدن


    وفق الأرقام غير الرسمية، أُعيد انتخاب السناتور الجمهوري راند بول عن ولاية كنتاكي، والجمهوري تيم سكوت عن كارولينا الجنوبية، وتود يانغ عن إنديانا. وفي المعسكر الجمهوري أيضاً، أُعيد انتخاب السناتور البارز ماركو روبيو عن فلوريدا، وزميله جون بوزمان عن أركنساس، والسناتور جيمس لانكفورد عن أوكلاهوما، والسناتور جون هوفن عن ولاية داكوتا الجنوبية، وفاز رون جونسون بمقعد مجلس الشيوخ عن ولاية ويسكونسن الحاسمة. من الجهة الديموقراطية، فاز المرشّح بيتر ولش بمقعد مجلس الشيوخ عن ولاية فيرمونت، والسناتور تشاك شومر عن ولاية نيويورك، كما فاز السناتور ريتشارد بلومنثال بفترة ثالثة في المجلس عن ولاية كونتيكيت. وحسم الديموقراطيون مقعد مجلس الشيوخ عن ولاية بنسلفانيا، بفوز جون فيترمان على محمد أوز، المرشّح المدعوم من ترامب، في واحدة من أكثر المنافسات حدّة في انتخابات منتصف الولاية. وللحفاظ على السيطرة على مجلس الشيوخ، يحتاج الديموقراطيون إلى الاحتفاظ بولايتَي أريزونا (مارك كيلي)، ونيفادا (كاثرين كورتيز ماستو).

    بالنسبة إلى حكّام الولايات، أشارت النتائج الأولية إلى انتخاب الجمهورية سارة ساندرز، الناطقة السابقة باسم البيت الأبيض في عهد ترامب، حاكمة لولاية أركنساس. وفي الجانب الجمهوري أيضاً، أُعيد انتخاب كريس سنونو حاكماً لولاية نيوهامبشر، ومارك غوردون حاكماً لولاية وايومنغ، وكيم رينولدز حاكماً لولاية أيوا، وكذلك فيل سكوت لولاية فيرمونت، وهنري ماكماستر لولاية كارولينا الجنوبية، وانتخب الجمهوري جاي دي فانس – يدعمه ترامب – عن ولاية أوهايو، متفوّقاً على الديموقراطي تيم راين، وأُعيد انتخاب الجمهوري رون ديسانتيس حاكماً لولاية فلوريدا. وفي خطاب هجومي، عبّر النجم الصاعد في المعسكر المحافظ والمرشّح المحتمل للرئاسة الأميركية في انتخابات 2024، عن ارتياحه لجعله هذه الولاية الجنوبية التي تميل أحياناً إلى اليسار وأحياناً إلى اليمين، «أرض ميعاد» للجمهوريين، مؤكداً أن «المعركة بدأت للتو». وسطع نجم ديسانتيس (44 سنة) في أوساط اليمين الأميركي، حتى بات يُنظر إليه باعتباره منافساً محتملاً لترامب لنَيْل ترشيح الحزب الجمهوري. لكن هذا لا يعني أن المعسكر الديموقراطي لم يحقّق أيّ شيء؛ فقد انتزع من الجمهوريين المحافظين منصبَي حاكمَين: في ميريلاند وماساتشوستس، فيما أُعيد انتخاب دانييل ماككي حاكماً لرود أيلاند. وتمكّن الديموقراطيون أيضاً من الاحتفاظ بمقعد حاكم ولاية نيويورك التي تُعدّ من معاقلهم، حيث شهدت الانتخابات منافسة حادّة. وفيها، فازت الحاكمة الديموقراطية المنتهية ولايتها، كاثي هوشول، التي حلّت صيف 2021 محلّ أندرو كومو، على خصمها الجمهوري لي زيلدن، المدعوم من ترامب.

    ومن شأن هذه الانتخابات التي شهدت منافسة محتدمة أشعلتْها قضايا الوضع الاقتصادي والإجهاض، أن ترسم ملامح العامَين المتبقّيين من ولاية الرئيس جو بايدن، وربّما تكون، كما وصفها الأخير، «الأهمّ في التاريخ الأميركي الحديث»، نظراً إلى انعكاساتها المحتملة على مختلف الأصعدة الداخلية والخارجية. فهي لا بدّ أن تؤدّي إلى تقليص سلطة الرئيس الحالي، على رغم كونه تجنّب هزيمة نكراء كان يخشاها حزبه. مع هذا، فإن حصول الجمهوريين على غالبية، وإنْ كانت بسيطة، في مجلس النواب، سيسمح لهم بعرقلة أولويات بايدن، ريثما يشرَعون في تحقيقات ستطاول إدارته وحتى عائلته، وقد تكون لها تأثيرات سياسية مدمّرة. فوجود مجلس نواب جمهوري، «سيوجّه ضربة كبيرة لبايدن، وسيقضي على طموحاته التشريعية، فضلاً عن أنه يُنذر بعامَين من الصراع الحزبي الطاحن»، وفق «نيويورك تايمز». ويمكن بايدن، في بلدٍ منقسم إلى حدّ التشظّي، أن يشهد شللاً برلمانياً طويلاً، ستتخلّله صراعات لا نهاية لها حول مشاريع قوانين تولد ميتة. فتحقيق الغالبية حتى بفارق ضيّق في مجلس النواب، يُعطي سلطة كبيرة في مجال الإشراف، وعد اليمين الجمهوري باستخدامها للبدء بعدد من التحقيقات ضدّ بايدن وأدائه وأوساطه. وخلال إحدى الجلسات، وعدت الجمهورية مارجوري تايلور غرين التي أعيد انتخابها في مجلس النواب، على سبيل المثال، بفتح ملفات هانتر بايدن، النجل الأصغر للرئيس. كما ستكون لدى الجمهوريين وسائل ضغط في الموازنة، ويمكن أن يلوّحوا بتهديد «الإغلاق» – شلّ الإدارات الفيدرالية – أو حتى بالتخلّف عن الدفع من قِبَل أكبر قوة عالمية.

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    Intelligence Online: MBS ‘purges’ politically aimed at certain clans

     November 9, 2022

    Source: Intelligence Online

    The purge is directed toward certain clans; commercial agents close to former King Abdullah and Mohammad bin Nayef.

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Athens, Greece, July 26, 2022. (Reuters)

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    Website Intelligence Online has revealed that Saudi Arabia’s purges are motivated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman using the pretext of tackling corruption and that the purge is directed toward certain clans; commercial agents close to former King Abdullah and Mohammad bin Nayef. Interestingly, agents of the Mishaal and Sultan clans are not being targeted. 

    Saudi authorities are trying via Interpol to get their hands on Salah Fustok, a former commercial agent for a clan of King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz. Fustok is the uncle of Muteb bin Abdullah, who commanded the Saudi National Guard (SANG) until he was ousted by MbS. Muteb then got caught up in the anti-corruption purge that took place in November that year. He is still under house arrest and cannot leave the kingdom.    

    Individuals close to bin Nayef are facing legal proceedings, and bin Nayef himself remains under house arrest. Bin Nayef’s former counter-terrorism chief and head of a financial empire, Saad Al-Jabri, in addition to Nader Turki Al-Dossari, a Saudi businessman, are both under intense judicial pressure.

    King Salman bin Abdelaziz’s brother, Ahmad bin Abdelaziz, is forbidden from leaving the country while businessmen close to him are avoiding the kingdom. 

    However, members of the late Mishaal bin Abdelaziz’s clan won’t be worrying too much about the purge.

    Although complaints against businessman Abdullah Al Shugair have been made to the Saudi Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority – Nazaha – no actions have been taken despite documented evidence. Shugeir was a factotum to Prince Mishaal, who allowed MBS and his son to prevail, after which he died a multi-billionaire in 2017. 

    Noting that Shugeir owns his Security Technology Company (STC), according to a 70-page complaint filed by US company DefensTech, he had stolen intellectual property related to body armor. The complaint puts down that Shugeir owes DefensTech over $5.6 million after selling 10,000 vests to the Royal Guard in 2014.

    The vests sold to the Royal Guard were not DefensTech’s, but rather counterfeits that they purchased through a scheme in which Saudi interior ministry officials were involved. According to Intelligence Online, although the US company made a strong case, Nazaha did not take action. 

    Read next: NBC: “Mohammed Bin Nayef Was Beaten & Biden Stepped in to Rescue Him”

    Iran Not Intimidated by West’s Threats, Sanctions – Raisi

    November 4, 2022

    By Staff, Agencies

    Iranian President Sayyed Ebrahim Raisi pointed to the western countries’ support for the recent riots in Iran, saying that the sanctions and threats will not be able to hinder the Iranian nation’s progress.

    Raisi addressed a public rally in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Friday, which was held as part of nationwide rallies to mark the National Day of the Fight against Global Arrogance on the anniversary US embassy takeover on November 4, 1979.

    Ibrahim Raisi responds to Biden: We will not be your cash cow

    “Today’s symbol of arrogance is the ruling system in the United States that is according to Imam Khomeini [RA], the Great Satan,” Raisi said at the beginning of his speech.

    “Arrogance seeks to destroy many nations and peoples in the world and endanger their material and spiritual interests in order to secure its interests,” he added.

    “Had it not been for the move taken by students who followed the Imam’s path, the fight against arrogance would be incomplete,” Raisi underlined, adding that the “Day of Fight against Global Arrogance is a symbol of Iran’s might.”

    “The President of the United States uttered words out of distraction and said that they are looking for Iran’s liberation. Mr. President! Iran was freed 43 years ago and got out of your captivity and we will never be your milk cow [cohort] again,” Raisi told Joe Biden.

    He then added that “The Iranian nation has declared these positions many times through its insight and its good knowledge of the enemy.”

    Raisi further noted that the younger generation in Iran has the same view toward the United States as their fathers and mothers did at the time of the Islamic Revolution.

    He pointed to the western countries’ support for the rioters in the recent riots in Iran, saying that the country will not be intimidated by their sanctions and threats.

    Raisi also noted that the sanctions and threats will not be able to hinder the Iranian nation’s progress, pointing out that the country’s economy is recovering from the sanctions and it is advancing while the pressures are still in place, which is why the US and western countries are angry.

    “Do you really think that we will be stopped by your threats and sanctions? You are looking to slow down the pace of the Iranian nation’s movement, but that’s just a dream! Our men and women will not allow your malicious dreams to come true. They wanted to isolate Iran, but they failed.”

    Raisi also pointed out that Iran has grown too strong and that there are not any problems in the region than can be solved without Iran’s role.

    Everybody should learn that the Islamic Revolution has gained a major progress thanks to the blessings of the martyrs; we are strong because of our martyrs, the recommendations of late Imam Khomeini, and Leader [Imam Khamenei], as well as the people’s presence in this arena, the Iranian president noted.

    The enemy wants to target our unity and solidarity, and to prevent students from studying at our universities. The enemy wants to target our self-esteem, but has failed to harm Iran’s security and stability, Raisi also stated.

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    US faces ‘environment of fascism’ ahead of 2022 midterms: Congresswoman

    Saturday, 29 October 2022 7:28 PM  [ Last Update: Saturday, 29 October 2022 7:36 PM ]

    Progressive Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (front) and Ilhan Abdullahi Omar (center) pose for a photograph at Capitol Hill. (AP file photo)

    Progressive Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says that the United States is “facing an environment of fascism” similar to the days of Jim Crow in the leadup to the 2022 midterms which Democrats are likely to lose to Republicans.

    Federal officials at the Department of Homeland Security and FBI have warned of a “heightened threat” ahead of the midterm elections charged by violent extremism, CBS News reported

    What they’re saying: “We are really truly facing an environment of fascism in the United States of America. This type of intimidation at the polls brings us to Jim Crow,” Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told MSNBC on Friday about reports of intimidation at Arizona ballot boxes.

    “It brings us back and harkens back to a very unique form of American apartheid that is not that long past ago,” she added. “And we have never fully healed from it and those wounds threaten to rip right back open if we do not strongly defend democracy in the United States of America.”

    US authorities released a bulletin on Friday that said domestic violent extremists pose a threat of violence for the 2022 midterms and the days after.

    “Following the 2022 midterm election, perceptions of election-related fraud and dissatisfaction with electoral outcomes likely will result in heightened threats of violence against a broad range of targets ― such as ideological opponents and election workers,” the bulletin reads, according to CNN.

    CBS reported that these extremists may target state and local government buildings following the election.

    The bulletin was issued on the same day as the attack on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband at their residence in San Francisco.

    Speaking at a political event in Pennsylvania hours after Paul Pelosi was attacked and gravely injured by an intruder, US President Joe Biden blamed the Republican Party, increasingly influenced by the political vitriol of former President Donald Trump, for “too much political violence.”

    “There’s too much violence, political violence, too much hatred, too much vitriol,” Biden said.

    “And what makes us think that one party can talk about ‘stolen elections,’ ‘COVID being a hoax,’ ‘this is all a bunch of lies,’ and it not affect people who may not be so well balanced?  What makes us think that it’s not going to corrode the political climate?” Biden added.

    Paul Pelosi was attacked and severely beaten by an assailant with a hammer, according to people familiar with the matter.

    Pelosi, 82, suffered blunt force trauma to his head and body, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation into the attack who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing probe.

    US midterm elections outlook darkens for Democrats The White House has lowered its earlier optimism about the midterm elections and is now worried that Democrats could lose control of both chambers of Congress, administration officials say.

    The assailant is in custody, and the motivation for the attack is under investigation, the spokesman said.

    Meanwhile, Democrats are worried they could lose control of both chambers of Congress on November 8 which would give Republicans the power to bring Biden’s legislative agenda to a halt. Biden’s unpopularity is helping drive this view.

    Biden’s term has been marked by the economic scars of the global health crisis, including soaring inflation. Biden’s popularity hit a record low of 36 percent in May and June.

    US consumer inflation hit a 40-year high of 8.6 percent in the 12 months through May, with gasoline marking a record high and the cost of food soaring, Labor Department data showed.

    The surging costs have become a political headache for the Biden administration, which has tried several measures to lower prices but said much of the responsibility to control inflation falls to the Federal Reserve.


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    LATEST NEWS

    A few headlines about civilizational values and some week-end music

    October 28, 2022

    Source

    As I now often do, I like to open the discussion with a few headlines:

    1. German man fined over letter ‘Z’
    2. Romanian defense minister resigns after Ukraine comments
    3. RT suspends host after ‘disgusting’ remarks about Ukrainian children

    Let’s take a closer look.

    In the first case, we have the “western value” what is usually known as “freedom of speech” which is something which only exists in the AngloZionist Hegemony (at least according to President Brandon and his summit for democracies).

    In the second case, we have another “western value” usually known as “we stand for peace”.  It is also known as “a bad peace is preferable to a good war” and even “diplomacy is always better than war”.

    In the third case, we have a clear example of how the “Pioootin regime” cracks down on dissent and free speech.  That in this case this speech was shockingly stupid and hateful makes no difference.  Why?  Because “it is only good when we do it”.  Besides, Anton Krasovsky was suspended for doing that which both the Ukronazi and the AngloZionist propaganda does 24/7: spew hateful idiocies.  Maybe he is “one of us” after all?

    Seriously, what we see here are the clear contours of two different civilizational realms which have nothing in common with each other and whose values are mutually exclusive.

    In the meantime, the “warriors of light” (aka the Ukronazis, that is how they refer to themselves) are busy shooting almost exclusively at (ex-Ukrainian, now Russian) civilians pretty much along the entire frontline.  The logic here is purely Anglo tactics: “we had to destroy the village in order to save it”.  Makes sense!  At least to them…

    In the meantime, the clocks are ticking.  The political clock for the US elections, the economic clock for the EU’s social and economic collapse and, of course, the winter coming closer with each passing day.  If the Neocons want to pull off some of their usual tricks, chances are that at least some of them might decide that “it is now or never”.

    Let’s do two more headline.  How about this:

    What a combo, no?  Western “logic” at work I suppose.

    Is that any wonder that, in our last headline for today, Putin has now declared that:

    By the way, Putin is wrong, the US very much still has two things it can offer the world: a nuclear holocaust and the LGBTQ+++++ ideology.  You know, real “western values”!

    So, here is the choice for our poor planet:

    In spite of it all, I wish you all an excellent week-end!

    Andrei

    ***

    I have a confession to make: I don’t like Blues and I never liked this type of music.  Sorry!  To each his own, Blues is really not my thing.  However, there are always exceptions.  In my case, only two, and they are not quite typical of Blues, I would call that “Blues plus” :-).  Anyway, I leave you with my two absolute favorite Blues in the hope that you will enjoy them too!

    Gary Moore – “Still Got the Blues” (I often tear up when I hear this songs, it really touches me)

    Led Zeppelin – “Since I Have Been Loving You”

    MBS Will Have to Choose Between Acquiescence or A Fate Like that of King Faisal

    October 25, 2022

    By Mohammad Baqer Yassin

    There is a new season of the Saudi-US soap opera and the tense relationships between the allies. What’s new in the crisis is the decision of the OPEC+ to reduce oil production which has urged a clear American response, along with a series of reactions in newspapers and speeches of US politicians, amid a Saudi affirmation on the technical aspect of the unanimously-made decision, according to Riyadh. Is the Saudi decision purely technical or political? What are the expected American steps towards Riyadh? Will the Kingdom insist on its position or will it acquiesce, as usual?

    To clarify the nature of the decision taken by OPEC +, we must go back to the time before the decision was taken, as the Wall Street Journal articulated that “US Officials called on their Gulf counterparts, headed by Saudi Arabia, to postpone the decision for another month, which was rejected by Saudis.” The newspaper also stated, according to sources within the Saudi government, that “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] told his advisers that he is not willing to sacrifice much for the administration of US President Joe Biden, which criticizes Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and is trying to conclude a nuclear agreement with Iran which Riyadh opposes.” Adding to the aforementioned, the decision of Aramco, the Saudi energy company, to raise prices of oil exports to the US in November, it becomes clear to us that the Saudi decision unmasks the economic-shelled Saudi decision as purely political. MBS is under US pressure in three stressful topics [the war on Yemen, the nuclear agreement and the Jamal Khashoggi case]. Thus, by reducing production, he tried to blackmail the US administration, as it is in this sensitive stage in need of stabilizing oil prices, especially to harm its enemy Russia, in order to reach its goals.

    After facing the American anger, MBS was sure he made a foolhardy rushing decision of overwhelming consequences. He consequently insisted that it was a pure technical decision with no political dimension, which forced Saudi officials to issue statements agreeing with this point. For this purpose, Adel Al-Jubeir spoke several times on this point in particular, and after him, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan in an interview with Al-Arabiya, in which he confirmed that “the decision of OPEC + is purely economic, and the decision was taken unanimously by member states.” After the failure of this attempt, the kingdom was forced to save face through its foreign ministry statement, in which it rejected what it called “dictations, actions or efforts seeking to alter the lofty goals it is working on to protect the global economy from oil market fluctuations,” adding that the Kingdom “looks at its relationship with the US from a strategic perspective that serves the mutual interests of both countries.” Lately, Riyadh called upon the positions of states [like Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria so far] to back its “technical position” in the face of continuous American declarations regarding reducing oil production.

    MBS’s blackmailing of Washington during tough circumstances urged a strong reaction from the US side, expressed by media and American political figures by demanding deterrent measures. This blackmail forced US President Joe Biden to talk about serious consequences during his interview with CNN. Speaking in the interview, Biden hasn’t defined the nature of his administration’s decisions against the Saudi decision, as he said that he would not go into details. He was quoted as saying that his country is discussing reviewing relations.

    Among the expected measures, which fall under the division of military measures, is reducing or canceling military deals between Washington and Riyadh, as well as withdrawing air defense batteries. If the US goes far in its decision, it would evacuate its bases in the Kingdom. Furthermore, economic sanctions against Riyadh are among the expected measures, especially after it classified the Saudi move as being part of Russia’s aid. The US will include Saudi Arabia in the list of states and companies sanctioned for their cooperation with Russia, if it wants to move forward and give its words legal effects. Accordingly, the US is sending MBS a deterrent message that will make him think wisely before taking any similar measures in the future, and in order for him to know his limits and that he should not cross them.

    On the basis of what has been stated before, MBS is bounded by two difficult choices, the best of which is bitter; the first one is to acquiesce again to US dictates, and the second is to continue insisting on his firm stance and take the decision to the end. MBS set the ground for the first choice when he limited his decision in the pure technical dimension and neglected any support to Russia, this delivers a message saying that he was still under the path of American dependency and did not deviate from it. As for the second option, MBS knows with certainty that his fate will not be far from the fate of King Faisal, and he will not be dearer to him in the American administration.

    «أوبك +» هل تقصم ظهر العلاقات الأميركية ـ السعودية

    الثلاثاء 18 أكتوبر 2022 

    بتول قصير

    يبدو أنّ خيبات الولايات المتحدة الأميركية تتوالى. فقد أثار قرار الدول المصدرة للبترول “أوبك” والدول المنتجة للنفط المتحالفة معها “أوبك بلس” خفض إنتاج النفط بمقدار مليوني برميل يومياً، حالة من الهستيريا والغضب في واشنطن، لما له من تداعيات سلبية على الولايات المتحدة وحلفائها. فعلى خلفية القرار عبّر الرئيس جو بايدن أنه “أصيب بخيبة أمل” ووصف القرار بـ “قصير النظر”، واتهم دول المنظمة النفطية بالانحياز إلى روسيا.

    شكل قرار خفض الإنتاج حالة إرباك بالنسبة لإدارة الرئيس بايدن، فالتوقيت الحرج لهذا القرار يأتي قبل شهر تقريباً من موعد إجراء انتخابات التجديد النصفي للكونغرس. وثمة خطر في أنّ هذا الخفض الذي سيدخل سريان المفعول في الأول من تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر من شأنه أن يتسبّب في ارتفاع أسعار البنزين والغاز، ما يعني انّ واشنطن أمام كارثة سياسية كاملة الأركان على إدارة الرئيس الديمقراطي بايدن، خاصة أنّ خصومه الجمهوريين سيستغلون الفرصة الثمينة هذه للإطاحة بمصداقيته أمام الناخبين الأميركيين خلال عملية الاقتراع، كإثبات على السياسة الفاشلة التي تمتع بها عهده.

    وعلى خلفية هذا القرار تعالت الأصوات في الكونغرس الأميركي التي تدعو لإعادة النظر في العلاقة مع الرياض، وتأطير العلاقة مع الأخيرة التي اعتبرت الإدارة الأميركية خطوتها بأنها بمثابة انحياز للمملكة في صراعات دولية وأنه قرار بُني على دوافع سياسية ضدّ الولايات المتحدة الأميركية. واللافت انّ ارتفاع وتيرة التوتر بين البلدين ترافق مع طرح النائب الأميركي الديمقراطي توم مالينوفسكي مشروع قانون في مجلس النواب يطالب إدارة الرئيس بايدن بسحب أنظمة الدفاع ضدّ الصواريخ و3000 جندي، وهم قوام القوات الأميركية من السعودية والإمارات. وقال مالينوفسكي في بيان صادر عنه: “لقد حان الوقت لكي تستأنف الولايات المتحدة دورها كدولة عظمى في علاقتها بزبائنها في الخليج”.

    وعليه فإنّ حفلة الجنون الأميركية عقب قرار “أوبك بلس”، يفسّرها انشغال واشنطن وحلفائها في السعي الدؤوب لضمان أمنهم الطاقي نظراً لأهمية مصادر الطاقة العالمية. خاصة بعد أزمة أوكرانيا وإغلاق روسيا لصنابير الطاقة والغاز عن أوروبا.

    وكخطوات عاجلة أمر الرئيس الأميركي وزارة الطاقة بالإفراج عن 10 ملايين برميل من الاحتياطي البترولي الاستراتيجي الأميركي في الأسواق مع دخول خفض الإنتاج حيّز التنفيذ في الأول من تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر، والاستمرار في اللجوء إلى احتياطي البترول الاستراتيجي كلما اقتضت الحاجة. كما باشر بايدن بمشاورات مع الكونغرس للبحث في آليات إضافية لتقليص تحكم أوبك في أسعار الطاقة وتقليص اعتماد الولايات المتحدة على المصادر الأجنبية للوقود الأحفوري وتسريع ضخ الاستثمارات في الطاقة النظيفة.

    من منظورٍ آخر، يبدو أنّ واشنطن تسبّبت بطريقة أو بأخرى بدفع “أوبك بلس” لخفض الإنتاج، عندما قرّرت مؤخراً رفع أسعار الفائدة والدولار، في وقت يستورد العالم النفط بالعملة الأميركية، ورفع قيمته يؤثر على الدول المستوردة للنفط، ما تسبّب بقلة الطلب عليه، ما أدّى لخلق فائض نفطي لدول “أوبك بلس”. واشنطن المذهولة من القرار حمّلت الرياض مسؤولية تداعياته، معتبرة أنّ دوافعه سياسية وانحياز لروسيا وسيشكل دعماً لها لا يُستهان به.

    بدورها السعودية رفضت الاتهامات الأميركية التي لا تستند إلى الحقائق، وعلقت بأنّ القرار اتخذ بالإجماع من كافة دول المجموعة، وهو قرار اقتصادي بحت. وما زاد الطين بلة، أنّ قراراً مدعوماً من السعودية بأن تتوقف مجموعة “أوبك بلس” عن استخدام بيانات وكالة الطاقة الدولية، وهي الهيئة الغربية لمراقبة قطاع الطاقة، ما يعكس المخاوف من التأثير الأميركي على البيانات.

    وأخيراً، يبدو انّ زيارة بايدن للسعودية في تموز/ يوليو لم تفعل شيئاً يُذكر لتغيير تصميم محمد بن سلمان على رسم سياسة خارجية مستقلة عن النفوذ الأميركي، خاصة أنّ الزيارة أغضبت ولي العهد، الذي كان منزعجاً من أنّ بايدن تحدث علناً عن تعليقاته الخاصة مع العائلة المالكة بشأن وفاة الصحافي جمال خاشقجي. وهذا لا يعني انّ البيت الأبيض سيتجه لاتخاذ قرارات عقابية واضحة تجاه الرياض، فهو وعلى الرغم من العلاقات بين كلّ من المملكة والولايات المتحدة شهدت مداً وجزراً على مدى عقود خلت وحتى الفترة الحالية، إلا انّ الدولتين تتمتعان بشراكة استراتيجية، مدعومة بمصالح مشتركة. فالبلدان يشتركان في رؤية متوافقة تجاه العديد من القضايا الدولية والإقليمية، من مسألة الملف النووي الإيراني، والتحالف الرباعي ضدّ اليمن، وغيرها من الملفات الإقليمية والدولية.

    وعليه فإنّ ما يجمع واشنطن والرياض أكبر بكثير مما يمكن أن يزعزع علاقة البلدين الشاملة في كافة المستويات. بيد أنَّ هذه العلاقات تعرّضت وتتعرّض في أوقات كثيرة لمثل هذه الهزات، إلا أنَّه من المستبعد أن تذهب ردود الأفعال إلى مستويات بعيدة، خصوصاً أنّ قرار «أوبك بلس» لم يكن سعودياً بحتاً.

    عندما يستثمر ابن سلمان في «القبَلية» الأميركية

    الثلاثاء 18 تشرين الأول 2022

    علاقة أميركا مع الدول المرتبطة بها، هي علاقة مصلحة متبادلة (أ ف ب)

    موسى السادة  

    يتيح قرار منظّمة «أوبك +» الأخير، خفْض إنتاج النفط بما يقارب المليونَي برميل يومياً، فرصة لقراءة الأبعاد المختلفة للعلاقات الدولية اليوم، وأبرزها العلاقة بين المملكة السعودية والولايات المتحدة، إذ إن تداعيات هذا القرار ستطاول أكثر من ملفّ، في ظلّ وضع دولي غير مسبوق تسارعت التحوّلات فيه بعد الحرب الروسية على أوكرانيا. تستدعي قراءةٌ كتلك، التنبّه إلى ثلاثة أوجهٍ مختلفة متشابكة: أوّلها، الاختلال في قوّة الولايات المتحدة وأدوات سيطرتها على السياسة الدولية، وثانيها، حجم هذا الاختلال وكيفية تأثيره في الداخل الأميركي واستقطاباته السياسية والاجتماعية، وثالثها التغيّر في ديناميكية علاقة الدول المرتبطة بأميركا، خصوصاً حين الحديث عن دولة بحجم وأهمية السعودية، التي تمتدّ وتنصهر ارتباطاتها بالولايات المتحدة، بشكل يتداخل مع مجال السياسة الداخلية الأميركية.

    من هنا، يمكن النظر إلى قرار «أوبك +» من زاوية كوْنه خطوة سعودية ستؤثّر في الهيمنة الأميركية الدولية. ذلك أن واحداً من تداعياته سيكون دعم الاقتصاد الروسي، المنخرط في مجهود عسكري ضدّ أوكرانيا وحلف «الناتو». أمّا الزاوية الأخرى، فهي تأثير القرار في الداخل الأميركي، في فترة زمنية حسّاسة تسبق الانتخابات النصفية، وهذا بالتحديد هو ما يشغل الأميركيين أكثر من تأثير الخطوة في الطرف الروسي. وفي حين كان الخطاب الرسمي السعودي بالغ الدبلوماسية في التعاطي مع القرار، إلّا أن مُريدي السعودية، وبل حتى سواهم، قاربوه كدليل على استقلالية قرار المملكة وتقديمها مصلحتها الوطنية أولاً، وإنْ كان في وجه أميركا نفسها، وهو ما دفع خصوم السعودية، القائم خطابهم على تبعيّتها لـ«بيت الطاعة» الأميركي والغربي، إلى اتّخاذ موقع دفاع، في تنابُز إعلامي وسياسي مديد في المجال السياسي العربي.

    إلّا أن ما يجب اعتباره من القرار، بعيداً عن هذا التنابز، هو عبر قراءة مركّبة لشكل العلاقة التاريخية بين المملكة وأميركا، بالإمكان توسيعها أيضاً لتشمل كلّ دولة تُحكم من نُخب تتشابك وترتبط مصالحها مع الولايات المتحدة. فالتفسير الهشّ القائم على تبسيط شكل العلاقة إلى حدود «سيّد» يأمر وينهى كيفما وأينما شاء دونما أيّ اعتبارات؛ و«عبد» يطيع، إنّما هو تفسير خاطئ يؤسّس لقراءة خاطئة. الواقع أن علاقة أميركا مع الدول المرتبطة بها، هي علاقة مصلحة متبادلة، وأن ما يقتضيه لفظ «الهيمنة الأميركية» هو أن كفّة القوة ضمن علاقة المصلحة تلك، تميل بشكل قاهر لصالح الأميركيين. تختلف، هنا، أدوات القوة وأشكالها من دولة إلى أخرى، ومنها مثلاً الابتزاز بوقْف المِنح المالية والعسكرية، أو التهديد بالتضييق والعقوبات، أو في الحالة المميّزة في الخليج العربي التهديد برفع الحماية العسكرية، مثلما ينادي به اليوم العديد من أعضاء الكونغرس الأميركي، وصرّح به مسؤولون أميركيون مختلفون ومباشرة على شاشات التلفزة، بقولهم: «هل يظنّ السعوديون أن الروس أو الصينيين قادرون على توفير الحماية لهم؟».

    المثير والمهمّ، هو كيف أمست السياسة الأميركية أشبه بسياسات دول غير متماسكة


    وإذ يأتي هذا التهديد ضمن مسار تاريخي من الشدّ والجذب وفق ما تقتضيه المصلحة، فإن الأمر المختلف اليوم هو أننا أمام واقع دولي وأميركي داخلي مغاير، يظهّر اهتزازاً لفعالية أوراق الابتزاز الأميركية، وهو ما فهمه السعوديون جيداً.
    ولعلّ أهمّ وجوه اهتزاز السطوة ذاك، يمكن استشفافه من مراقبة تبدُّل شكل علاقة النُّخب الحاكمة الخليجية بالولايات المتحدة وجرأتها السياسية. فهذه النُّخبة السعودية هي أوّل مَن يستشعر ويهاب تقهقر أميركا التي رهنت ديمومة حُكمها بها. وبالنسبة إلى المملكة، وتحديداً منذ تسلُّم محمد بن سلمان السلطة الفعلية، كانت السنوات السبع الماضية مخاضاً للتكيّف في التعامل مع الأميركيين، والأهمّ الوصول إلى القدرة على استغلال تناقضاتهم الداخلية. ومن هنا، ولكي لا يُفهم قرار «أوبك +» كانحياز كامل إلى الروس، حرص السعوديون على موازنته، بإعلانهم عن هِبة مادّية بقرابة 400 مليون دولار لأوكرانيا، وأيضاً تواصلهم مع المسؤولين الأوكرانيين والطلب منهم التغريد بتصريحات تثمّن مواقف المملكة. هذه الموازنة في حدّ ذاتها تعكس ضعفاً أميركياً وغربياً، حيث تخشى الدول حتى المرتبطة أمنياً واقتصادياً بواشنطن، وعلى الرغم من احتدام الصراع الروسي – الغربي، من التخندق الصارخ إلى جانب أيّ من الطرفَين.
    البُعد الآخر الذي تظهّره هذه الموازنة، هو أن قرار «أوبك +» في جوهره ليس اصطفافاً ضدّ الغرب مع روسيا، بل محاولة للتأثير في الداخل الأميركي وفي حكومة الرئيس جو بايدن على وجه التحديد، إذ تُعدّ السياسة الداخلية الأميركية مسرحاً مهمّاً ليس للحُكم السعودي فقط، بل حتى للشخصيات السعودية المعارضة، التي تعمل من داخل التجاذبات الحزبية على التحريض على حُكم آل سلمان، سواء على المستوى القضائي أو الإعلامي. ولذلك، يؤثّر السعوديون في المجال السياسي الأميركي في إطار مصالحهم، وبحجم ونوع غير مسبوقَين، لم يكونا ليتحقّقا لولا حجم الاستقطاب والتناقضات الداخلية الأميركية الحادّة. بتعبير آخر، إن الاهتزاز الذي يصيب الولايات المتحدة على الساحة الدولية، وحجم الاستقطاب السياسي – الاجتماعي في داخلها، يؤثّر أحدُهما في الآخر بشكل سلبي. ومن هنا، يمسي وصْف البيت الأبيض قرار «أوبك +» بـ«بالعمل العدائي» خاوياً، والأمر ذاته ينسحب على مسألة التدخّل في الانتخابات. ذلك أن حجم الشقاق الجمهوري – الديموقراطي، حال دون إقرار موقف موحّد تجاه خطوة المنظّمة، ليضيع ردّ الفعل في زحمة الاختلافات الحزبية. وحتى وإنْ حرص الجمهوريون على تبيان امتعاضهم من القرار، لكي لا يَظهروا بمظهر غير المبالين بأثره في الناخبين الأميركيين، إلّا أنهم ألقوا باللوم المباشر على بايدن. ويضاف إلى ذلك، قيام أعضاء من الحزبَين بتبنّي سرديات مِن قَبيل أن بايدن أراد من السعوديين مجرّد تأجيل القرار شهراً واحداً حتى تَظهر نتائج الانتخابات، أو سردية أن الجمهوريين هم مَن دفعوا بالسعوديين نحو خطوتهم الأخيرة للإضرار ببايدن ومحاولة كسْب الانتخابات. وهنا، ضاع موضوع تمرّد السعوديين وقيامهم بما وُصف بـ«العمل العدائي».

    المثير والمهمّ، هو كيف أمست السياسة الأميركية أشبه بسياسات دول غير متماسكة، أو حتى بسياسات النُّخب الحاكمة العربية القائمة على تعصّب الأطراف بعضها ضدّ بعض. فلو وضعْنا القرار السعودي في حقبة زمنية ماضية، ولْنقل في فترة باراك أوباما الأولى، فما كان له أن يتمّ، إذ إن الهوية الأميركية كانت متماسكة على نحو سيدفع الجميع إلى اعتبار الخطوة «عملاً عدائياً»، إلّا أن القبَلية الحزبية والاستقطاب الأميركي اليوم، وهّنا من الهوية الأميركية لصالح المصالح الحزبية – الهويّاتية الضيّقة. ومن هنا، يَبرز قرار «أوبك +»، ليس كمحاولة للانعتاق من الولايات المتحدة، اقتصادياً وسياسياً وعسكرياً وبل حتى ثقافياً، بل كمؤشّر إلى ولادة مرحلة دولية، وأميركية داخلية، جديدة على الدول المرتبطة نُخبها بالأميركيين، وقواعد لَعِبها مختلفة عن الماضي، وهذا بالتحديد ما يحاول السعوديون التأقلم معه، وصوغ وجودهم ضمن تناقضاته.

    من ملف : السعودية – أميركا: أزمة تخادُم

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