Battleground Beirut: Western colony or back to the East?

Battleground Beirut: Western colony or back to the East?

August 12, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – republished from Asia Times by permission of author

As much as Covid-19 has been instrumentalized by the 0.001% to social engineer a Great Reset, the Beirut tragedy is already being instrumentalized by the usual suspects to keep Lebanon enslaved.

Facing oh so timely color revolution-style “protests”, the current Lebanese government led by Prime Minister Diab has already resigned. Even before the port tragedy, Beirut had requested a $10 billion line of credit from the IMF – denied as long as trademark, neoliberal Washington consensus “reforms” were not implemented: radical slashing of public expenses, mass layoffs, across the board privatization.

Post-tragedy, President Emmanuel Macron – who’s not even capable of establishing a dialogue with the Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests in France – has opportunistically jumped in full neocolonial mode to pose as “savior” of Lebanon, as long as the same “reforms”, of course, are implemented.

On Sunday, France and the UN organized a videoconference to coordinate donor response – in conjunction with the European Commission (EC), the IMF and the World Bank. The result was not exactly brilliant: a paltry 252 million euros were pledged – once again conditioned by “institutional reforms”.

France came up with 30 million euros, Kuwait with 40 million, Qatar with 50 million and the EC with 68 million. Crucially, neither Russia nor Iran were among the donors. The US – which is harshly sanctioning Lebanon – and GCC allies Saudi Arabia and UAE pledged nothing. China had just a pro forma presence.

In parallel, Maronite Christians in Brazil – a very powerful community – are sending funds for the color revolution protests. Former President Michel Temer and industrialist tycoon Paulo Skaf even flew to Beirut. Former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel (1982-1988) maintained a lot of businesses in Brazil with funds he skimmed when in power.

All of the above points to neoliberalism taking no prisoners when it comes to keeping its deadly grip on Lebanon.

The Hariri model

Lebanon’s profound economic crisis, now aggravated by the Beirut port blast, has nothing to do with Covid-19 or the US proxy war on Syria – which brought a million refugees to the nation. It’s all about proverbial neoliberal shock and awe, conducted non-stop by the Hariri clan: former Prime Ministers Rafiq, assassinated in 2011, and Saad, chased out of power last January.

The Hariri model was focused on real estate speculation and financialization. The Solidere group, controlled by Arab investors and a few Lebanese, Hariri included, destroyed Beirut’s historical downtown and rebuilt it with luxury real estate. That’s the classical rentier neoliberalism model that always profits a tiny elite.

In parallel, the Bank of Lebanon was attracting funds from the tony Lebanese diaspora and assorted Arab investors by practicing very generous interest rates. Lebanon suddenly had an artificially strong currency.

A small middle class sort of flourished throughout the 2000s, comprising import-export traders, the tourism sector and financial market operators. Yet, overall, inequality was the name of the game. According to the World Inequality Database, half of Lebanon’s population now holds less wealth that the top 0.1%.

The bubble finally burst in September last year, when I happened to be in Beirut. With no US dollars in circulation, the Lebanese pound started to collapse in the black market. The Bank of Lebanon went berserk. When the Hariri racket imposed a “Whatsapp tax” over calls, that led to massive protests in October. Capital embarked on free flight and the currency collapsed for good.

There’s absolutely no evidence the IMF, the World Bank and assorted Western/Arab “donors” will extricate a now devastated Lebanon from the neoliberal logic that plunged it into a systemic crisis in the first place.

The way out would be to focus in productive investments, away from finance and geared towards the practical necessities of an austerity-battered and completely impoverished population.

Yet Macron, the IMF and their “partners” are only interested in keeping monetary “stability”; seduce speculative foreign capital; make sure that the rapacious, Western-connected Lebanese oligarchy will get away with murder; and on top of it buy scores of Lebanese assets for peanuts.

BRI or bust

In stark contrast with the exploitative perpetuation of the Western neoliberal model, China is offering Lebanon the chance to Go East, and be part of the New Silk Roads.

In 2017, Lebanon signed to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

In 2018, Lebanon became the 87th member of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Over the past few years, Lebanon was already taking part in the internationalization of the yuan, offering bank accounts in yuan and increasing bilateral trade in yuan.

Beijing was already engaged in discussions revolving around the upgrading of Lebanese infrastructure – including the expansion of Beirut harbor.

This means that now Beijing may be in the position of offering a renewed, joint rebuilding/security deal for Beirut port – just as it was about to clinch a smaller agreement with Diab’s government, focused only on expansion and renovation.

The bottom line is that China has an actual Plan A to extricate Lebanon from its current financial dead end.

And that’s exactly what was, and remains, total anathema to US, NATO and Israel’s interests.

The Trump administration recently went no holds barred to prevent Israel from having China develop the port of Haifa.

The same “offer you can’t refuse” tactics will be applied with full force on whoever leads the new Lebanese government.

Beirut is an absolutely key node in BRI’s geopolitical/geoeconomic connectivity of the Eastern Mediterranean. With Haifa temporarily out of the picture, Beirut grows in importance as a gateway to the EU, complementing the role of Pireus and Italian ports in the Adriatic.

It’s crucial to note that the port itself was not destroyed. The enormous crater on site replaces only a section quayside – and the rest is on water. The buildings destroyed can be rebuilt in record time. Reconstruction of the port is estimated at $15 billion – pocket money for an experienced company such as China Harbor.

Meanwhile, naval traffic is being redirected to Tripoli port, 80 km north of Beirut and only 30 km away from the Lebanon-Syria border. Its director, Ahmed Tamer, confirms “the port has witnessed during the past years the expansion work by Chinese companies, and it has received the largest ships from China, carrying a big number of containers”.

Add to it the fact that Tripoli port will also be essential in the process of Syria reconstruction – to which China is totally committed.

BRI’s Southwest Asia connectivity network is a maze including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

China is already planning to invest in highway and railroads, further to be developed into high-speed rail. That will connect BRI’s central China-Iran corridor – fresh from the $400 billion, 25-year strategic partnership deal soon to be signed – with the Eastern Mediterranean.

Add to it the role of the port of Tartus in Syria – bearing a strong Russian naval presence. Beijing will inevitably invest in the expansion of Tartus – which is crucially linked by highway to Lebanon. The Russia-China strategic partnership will be involved in the protection of Tartus with S-300 and S-400 missile systems.

Historically, in a larger axis that went from Samarkand to Cordoba, with strong nodes such as Baghdad and Damascus, what slowly evolved in this part of Eurasia was a syncretic civilization superimposed over an ancestral regional, rural and nomad background. The internal cohesion of the Muslim world was forged from the 7th century to the 11th century: that was the key factor that shaped the lineaments of a coherent Eurasia.

Apart from Islam, Arabic – the language of religion, administration, trade and culture – was an essential unifying factor. This evolving Muslim world was configured as a vast economic and cultural domain whose roots connected to Greek, Semitic, Persian, Indian and Arab thought. It was a marvelous synthesis that formed a unique civilization out of elements of different origin – Persian, Mesopotamian, Byzantine.

The Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean were of course part of it, totally open towards the Indian Ocean, the Caspian routes, Central Asia and China.

Now, centuries later, Lebanon should have everything to gain by ditching the “Paris of the Orient” mythology and looking East – again, thus positioning itself on the right side of History.

Why Xi won’t repeat Ming Dynasty mistakes

Why Xi won’t repeat Ming Dynasty mistakes

May 11, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

China has learned from its own rich history and is applying those lessons to re-emerge as a major 21st century power

Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the Jiayu Pass, a famed MIng Dynasty era part of the Great Wall in Jiayuguan City, during an inspection tour of northwest China’s Gansu Province, August 20, 2019. Photo: FacebookWith hybrid warfare 2.0 against China reaching fever pitch, the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative, will continue to be demonized 24/7 as the proverbial evil communist plot for economic and geopolitical domination of the “free” world, boosted by a sinister disinformation campaign.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the Jiayu Pass,
a famed MIng Dynasty era part of the Great Wall in Jiayuguan City,
during an inspection tour of northwest China’s Gansu Province,
August 20, 2019. Photo: Facebook

It’s idle to discuss with simpletons. In the interest of an informed debate, what matters is to find the deeper roots of Beijing’s strategy – what the Chinese learned from their own rich history and how they are applying these lessons as a re-emerging major power in the young 21st century.

Let’s start with how East and West used to position themselves at the center of the world.

The first Chinese historic-geographic encyclopedia, the 2nd century B.C. Classic of the Mountains and the Seas, tells us the world was what was under the sun (tienhia). Composed of “mountains and seas” (shanhai), the world was laid out between “four seas” (shihai). There’s only one thing that does not change: the center. And its name is “Middle Kingdom” (Zhongguo), that is, China.

Of course, the Europeans, in the 16th century, discovering that the earth was round, turned Chinese centrality upside down. But actually not that much (see, for instance, this 21st century Sinocentric map published in 2013).

The principle of a huge continent surrounded by seas, the “exterior ocean,” seems to have derived from Buddhist cosmology, in which the world is described as a “four-petal lotus.” But the Sinocentric spirit was powerful enough to discard and prevail over every cosmogony that might have contradicted it, such as the Buddhist, which placed India at the center.

Now compare Ancient Greece. Its center, based on reconstituted maps by Hippocrates and Herodotus, is a composite in the Aegean Sea, featuring the Delphi-Delos-Ionia triad. The major split between East and West goes back to the Roman empire in the 3rd century. And it starts with Diocletian, who made it all about geopolitics.

Here’s the sequence: In 293, he installs a tetrarchy, with two Augustuses and two Caesars, and four prefectures. Maximian Augustus is charged to defend the West (Occidens), with the “prefecture of Italy” having Milan as capital. Diocletian charges himself to defend the East (Oriens), with the “prefecture of Orient” having Nicomedia as capital.

Political religion is added to this new politico-military complex. Diocletian starts the Christian dioceses (dioikesis, in Greek, after his name), twelve in total. There is already a diocese of the Orient – basically the Levant and northern Egypt.

There’s no diocese of the Occident. But there is a diocese of Asia: basically the Western part of Mediterranean Turkey nowadays, heir to the ancient Roman provinces in Asia. That’s quite interesting: the Orient is placed east of Asia.

The historical center, Rome, is just a symbol. There’s no more center; in fact, the center is slouching towards the Orient. Nicomedia, Diocletian’s capital, is quickly replaced by neighbor Byzantium under Constantine and rechristened as Constantinople: he wants to turn it into “the new Rome.”

When the Western Roman empire falls in 476, the empire of the Orient remains.

Officially, it will become the Byzantine empire only in the year 732, while the Holy Roman Empire – which, as we know, was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire – resurrects with Charlemagne in 800. From Charlemagne onwards, the Occident regards itself as “Europe,” and vice-versa: the historical center and the engine of this vast geographical space, which will eventually reach and incorporate the Americas.

Superstar admiral

We’re still immersed in a – literally – oceanic debate among historians about the myriad reasons and the context that led everyone and his neighbor to frenetically take to the seas starting in the late 15th century – from Columbus and Vasco da Gama to Magellan.

But the West usually forgets about the true pioneer: iconic Admiral Zheng He, original name Ma He, a eunuch and Muslim Hui from Yunnan province.

His father and grandfather had been pilgrims to Mecca. Zheng He grew up speaking Mandarin and Arabic and learning a lot about geography. When he was 13, he was placed in the house of a Ming prince, Zhu Di, member of the new dynasty that came to power in 1387.

Educated as a diplomat and warrior, Zheng He converted to Buddhism under his new name, although he always remained faithful to Islam. After all, as I saw for myself when I visited Hui communities in 1997 when branching out from the Silk Road, on my way to Labrang monastery in Xiahe, Hui Islam is a fascinating syncretism incorporating Buddhism, the Tao and Confucianism.

Zhu Di brought down the Emperor in 1402 and took the name Yong Le. A year later he had already commissioned Zheng He as admiral, and ordered him to supervise the construction of a large fleet to explore the seas around China. Or, to be more precise, the “Occidental ocean” (Xiyang): that is, the Indian Ocean.

Thus from 1405 to 1433, roughly three decades, Zheng He led seven expeditions across the seas all the way to Arabia and Eastern Africa, leaving from Nanjing in the Yangtze and benefiting from monsoon winds. They hit Champa, Borneo, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Hormuz, Aden, Jeddah/Mecca, Mogadiscio and the Eastern African coast south of the Equator.

Those were real armadas, sometimes with over 200 ships, including the 72 main ones, carrying as many as 30,000 men and vast amounts of precious merchandise for trade: silk, porcelain, silver, cotton, leather products, iron utensils. The leading vessel of the first expedition, with Zheng He as captain, was 140 meters long, 50 meters wide and carrying over 500 men.

This was the original Maritime Silk Road, now revived in the 21st century. And it was coupled with another extension of the overland Silk Road: after all the dreaded Mongols were in retreat, there were new allies all the way to Transoxiana, the Chinese managed to strike a peace deal with the successor of Tamerlane. So the Silk Roads were booming again. The Ming court sent diplomats all over Asia – Tibet, Nepal, Bengal, even Japan.

The main objective of pioneering Chinese seafaring has always puzzled Western historians. Essentially, it was a diplomatic, commercial and military mix. It was important to have Chinese suzerainty recognized – and materialized via the payment of a tribute. But most of all this was about trade; no wonder the ships had special cabins for merchants.

The armada was designated as the Treasury Fleet – but denoting more a prestige operation than a vehicle for capturing riches. Yong Le was strong on soft power and economics – as he took control of overseas trade by imposing an imperial monopoly over all transactions. So in the end this was a clever, comprehensive application of the Chinese tributary system – in the commercial, diplomatic and cultural spheres.

Yong Le was in fact following the instructions of his predecessor Hongwu, the founder of the Ming (“Lights”) dynasty. Legend rules that Hongwu ordered that one billion trees should be planted in the Nanjing region to supply the building of a navy.

Then there was the transfer of the capital from Nanjing to Beijing in 1421, and the construction of the Forbidden City. That cost a lot of money. As much as the naval expeditions were expensive, their profits, of course, were useful.

Yong Le wanted to establish Chinese – and pan-Asian – stability via a true Pax Sinica. That was not imposed by force but rather by diplomacy, coupled with a subtle demonstration of power. The Armada was the aircraft carrier of the time, with cannons on sight – but rarely used – and practicing “freedom of navigation”.

What the emperor wanted was allied local rulers, and for that he used intrigue and commerce rather than shock and awe via battles and massacres. For instance, Zheng He proclaimed Chinese suzerainty over Sumatra, Cochin and Ceylon. He privileged equitable commerce. So this was never a colonization process.

On the contrary: before each expedition, as its planning proceeded, emissaries from countries to be visited were invited to the Ming court and treated, well, royally.

Plundering Europeans

Now compare that with the European colonization led a decade later by the Portuguese across these same lands and these same seas. Between (a little) carrot and (a lot of) stick, the Europeans drove commerce mostly via massacres and forced conversions. Trading posts were soon turned into forts and military installations, something that Zheng He’s expeditions never attempted.

In fact Zheng He left so many good memories that he was divinized under his Chinese name, San Bao, which means “Three Treasures,” in such places in Southeast Asia as Malacca and Siam’s Ayutthaya.

What can only be described as Judeo-Christian sadomasochism focused on imposing suffering as virtue, the only path to reach Paradise. Zheng He would never have considered that his sailors – and the populations he made contact with – had to pay this price.

So why did it all end, and so suddenly? Essentially Yong Le run out of money because of his grandiose imperial adventures. The Grand Canal – linking the Yellow River and the Yangtze basins – cost a fortune. Same for building the Forbidden City. The revenue from the expeditions was not enough.

And just as the Forbidden City was inaugurated, it caught fire in May 1421. Bad omen. According to tradition, this means disharmony between Heaven and the sovereign, a development outside of the astral norm. Confucians used it to blame the eunuch councilors, very close to the merchants and the cosmopolitan elites around the emperor. On top of it, the southern borders were restless and the Mongol threat never really went away.

The new Ming emperor, Zhu Gaozhi, laid down the law: “China’s territory produces all goods in abundance; so why should we buy abroad trinkets without any interest?”

His successor Zhu Zanji was even more radical. Up to 1452, a series of imperial edicts prohibited foreign trade and overseas travel. Every infraction was considered piracy punished by death. Worse, studying foreign languages was banished, as was the teaching of Chinese to foreigners.

Zheng He died (in early 1433? 1435?) in true character, in the middle of the sea, north of Java, as he was returning from the seventh, and last, expedition. The documents and the charts used for the expeditions were destroyed, as well as the ships.

So the Ming ditched naval power and re-embraced old agrarian Confucianism, which privileges agriculture over trade, the earth over the seas, and the center over foreign lands.

No more naval retreat

The takeaway is that the formidable naval tributary system put in place by Yong Le and Zheng He was a victim of excess – too much state spending, peasant turbulence – as well as its own success.

In less than a century, from the Zheng He expeditions to the Ming retreat, this turned out to be a massive game changer in history and geopolitics, prefiguring what would happen immediately afterwards in the long 16th century: the era when Europe started and eventually managed to rule the world.

One image is stark. While Zheng He’s lieutenants were sailing the eastern coast of Africa all the way to the south, in 1433, the Portuguese expeditions were just starting their adventures in the Atlantic, also sailing south, little by little, along the Western coast of Africa. The mythical Cape Bojador was conquered in 1434.

After the seven Ming expeditions crisscrossed Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean from 1403 for nearly three decades, only half a century later Bartolomeu Dias would conquer the Cape of Good Hope, in 1488, and Vasco da Gama would arrive in Goa in 1498.

Imagine a historical “what if?”: the Chinese and the Portuguese bumping into each other in Swahili land. After all, in 1417 it was the turn of Hong Bao, the Muslim eunuch who was Zheng He’s lieutenant; and in 1498 it was Vasco da Gama’s turn, guided by the “Lion of the Sea” Ibn Majid, his legendary Arab master navigator.

The Ming were not obsessed with gold and spices. For them, trade should be based on equitable exchange, under the framework of the tribute. As Joseph Needham conclusively proved in works such as Science and Civilization in China, the Europeans wanted Asian products way more than Orientals wanted European products, “and the only way to pay for them was gold.”

For the Portuguese, the “discovered” lands were all potential colonization territory. And for that the few colonizers needed slaves. For the Chinese, slavery amounted to domestic chores at best. For the Europeans, it was all about the massive exploitation of a workforce in the fields and in mines, especially concerning black populations in Africa.

In Asia, in contrast to Chinese diplomacy, the Europeans went for massacre. Via torture and mutilations, Vasco da Gama and other Portuguese colonizers deployed a real war of terror against civilian populations.

This absolutely major structural difference is at the root of the world- system and the geo-historical organization of our world, as analyzed by crack geographers such as Christian Grataloup and Paul Pelletier.  Asian nations did not have to manage – or to suffer – the painful repercussions of slavery.

So in the space of only a few decades the Chinese abdicated from closer relations with Southeast Asia, India and Eastern Africa. The Ming fleet was destroyed. China abandoned overseas trade and retreated unto itself to focus on agriculture.

Once again: the direct connection between the Chinese naval retreat and the European colonial expansion is capable of explaining the development process of the two “worlds” – the West and the Chinese center – since the 15th century.

At the end of the 15th century, there were no Chinese architects left capable of building large ships. Development of weaponry also had been abandoned. In just a few decades, crucially, the Sinified world lost its vast technological advance over the West. It got weaker. And later it would pay a huge price, symbolized in the Chinese unconsciousness by the “century of humiliation.”

All of the above explains quite a few things. How Xi Jinping and the current leadership did their homework. Why China won’t pull a Ming remix and retreat again. Why and how the overland Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road are being revived. How there won’t be any more humiliations. And most of all, why the West – especially the American empire – absolutely refuses to admit the new course of history.

BRI-LED REGIONALIZATION ROLLS ON AS GWADAR PORT OPENS AFGHAN TRADE TO THE WORLD

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

29 APRIL 2020

The successful opening of Gwadar Port to Afghanistan lays the basis for expanding this trade network to Central Asia and Russia via N-CPEC+, which sets a positive example for how BRI-led regionalization can rejuvenate globalization after the coronavirus is finally defeated.

The speculative talk about the coronavirus supposedly signaling the impending end of globalization was thrown into doubt last week after Gwadar Port was opened to Afghanistan. That facility is the terminal point of the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and will be used to facilitate trade with the South Asian state’s landlocked neighbor, according to the announcement by Abdul Razak Dawood, the adviser for commerce and investment to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He also said that “16,000 MT of diamonium phosphate and World Food Programme cargo of 500,000 MT of wheat for Afghanistan will arrive next month” and that “Ships from China will also offload at Gwadar.” This development is remarkable in more ways than one and thus deserves to be analyzed a bit more in depth in order for the reader to better understand its grand strategic significance in the context of contemporary geopolitics.

First off, it’s especially important that war-torn Afghanistan will receive much-needed aid through this port. Those supplies will help its people better survive the hardships that they’ve been experiencing for decades already, and they come at a crucial time when the country is struggling to counter COVID-19. Not only could Gwadar become a humanitarian lifeline for Afghanistan, but also an economic one too since it opens up its trade to the rest of the world and can therefore help it rebuild after the war finally ends.

The very fact that CPEC is expanding along the northern vector suggests that a branch corridor prospectively called N-CPEC+ could enter into fruition in the future if the project expands into the Central Asian Republics and even further afield to Russia, thus creating a new North-South connectivity corridor in the Eurasian Heartland. Even in the event that the aforementioned scenario doesn’t unfold right way, it’s still noteworthy that BRI’s flagship project is strengthening regionalization between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This objective observation powerfully refutes the rumors that globalization is destined to die due to the consequences of the world’s uncoordinated lockdowns in response to COVID-19. There will always be a need for countries to import whatever they can’t make at home and export the wares that they produce abroad, which in the Afghan context refers to agricultural imports and prospective mineral exports via CPEC. The present lockdowns will inevitably end, after which globalization will resume, bolstered by regionalization.

Regionalization and globalization are two sides of the same coin since they both involve international trade, albeit to differing geographic extents made obvious by their names. There’s some credence to the claims that regionalization will benefit more in the short term than globalization, though the success of regionalization would strengthen globalization through the creation of more consolidated economic spaces. In the present example, CPEC brings China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan closer together, thus boosting trade between all three.

The successful opening of Gwadar Port to Afghanistan lays the basis for expanding this trade network to Central Asia and Russia via N-CPEC+, as was earlier explained, which sets a positive example for how BRI-led regionalization can rejuvenate globalization after the coronavirus is finally defeated. Both interconnected trends are pivotal to the world’s economic recovery, and seeing as how they’re being championed by China, it can be said that the People’s Republic is taking the leading role in helping humanity return back to normal.

With all of this in mind, while casual observers might have dismissed the opening of Gwadar Port to Afghanistan as an unimportant event compared to everything else going on in the world nowadays (if they were even aware of it in the first place, that is), it’s actually one of the most significant non-health-related developments of the year. China showed that its desire to create a Community of Common Destiny through BRI hasn’t slowed down as a result of the virus, which speaks to its commitment to carry through with this noble vision no matter what.

The unbearable lightness of China

April 26, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kishore-Mahbubani-300x198.jpg
Singaporean ex-diplomat and author Kishore Mahbubani speaks at an Asia Society event in a file photo. Photo: Flickr Commons

As a living embodiment of how East and West shall meet, Mahbubani is immeasurably more capable to talk about Chinese-linked intricacies than shallow, self-described Western “experts” on Asia and China.

Especially now when demonization-heavy hybrid war 2.0 against China is practiced by most factions of the US government, the Deep State and the East Coast establishment.

Distinguished fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute, former president of the UN Security Council (from 2001 to 2002) and the founding dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (2004-2017), Mahbubani is the quintessential Asian diplomat.

Ruffling feathers is not his business. On the contrary, he always deploys infinite patience – and insider knowledge – when trying to explain especially to Americans what makes the Chinese civilization-state tick.

All through a book elegantly argued and crammed with persuasive facts, it feels like Mahbubani is applying the Tao. Be like water. Let it flow. He floats like a butterfly reaching beyond his own “paradoxical conclusion”: “A major geopolitical contest between America and China is both inevitable and avoidable.” He centers on the paths towards the “avoidable.”

The contrast with the confrontational, stale and irrelevant Thucydides Trap mindset prevalent in the US could not be starker. It’s quite enlightening to observe the contrast between Mahbubani and Harvard University’s Graham Allison – who seem to admire each other – at a China Institute debate.

An important clue to his approach is when Mahbubani tells us how his Hindu mother used to take him to Hindu and Buddhist temples in Singapore – even as in the island-state most Buddhist monks were actually Chinese. Here we find encapsulated the key cultural/philosophical India-China crossover that defines “deep” East Asia, linking Confucianism, Buddhism and the Tao.

All about the US dollar 

For Asia hands, and for those, as in my case, who have actually lived in Singapore, it’s always fascinating to see how Mahbubani is the quintessential Lee Kuan Yew disciple, though without the haughtiness. As much as his effort to understand China from the inside, across the spectrum, for decades, is more than visible, he’s far from being a disciple of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

And he stresses the point in myriad ways, showing how, in the party slogan, “Chinese” is way more important than “Communist”: “Unlike the Soviet Communist Party, [the CCP] is not riding on an ideological wave; it is riding the wave of a resurgent civilization … the strongest and most resilient civilization in history.”

Inescapably, Mahbubani outlines both Chinese and American geopolitical and geo-economic challenges and shortcomings. And that leads us to arguably the key argument in the book: how he explains to Americans the recent erosion of global trust in the former “indispensable nation,” and how the US dollar is its Achilles’ heel.

So once again we have to wallow in the interminable mire of reserve currency status; its “exorbitant privilege,” the recent all-out weaponization of the US dollar and – inevitably – the counterpunch: those “influential voices” now working to stop using the US dollar as reserve currency.

Enter blockchain technology and the Chinese drive to set up an alternative currency based on blockchain. Mahbubani takes us to a China Finance 40 Forum in August last year, when the deputy director of the People’s Bank of China, Mu Changchun, said the PBOC was “close” to issuing its own cryptocurrency.

Two months later, President Xi announced that blockchain would become a “high priority” and a matter of long-term national strategy.  It’s happening now. The digital yuan – as in a “sovereign blockchain” – is imminent.

And that leads us to the role of the US dollar in financing global trade. Mahbubani correctly analyzes that once this is over, “the complex international system based on the US dollar could come tumbling down, rapidly or slowly.” China’s master plan is to accelerate the process by connecting its digital platforms – Alipay, WeChat Pay – into one global system.

Asian Century 

As Mahbubani carefully explains, “while Chinese leaders want to rejuvenate Chinese civilization, they have no missionary impulse to take over the world and make everyone Chinese.” And still, “America convinced itself that China has become an existential threat.”

The best and the brightest across Asia, Mahbubani included, never cease to be amazed at the American system’s total inability to “make strategic adjustments to this new phase in history.” Mahbubani dedicates a whole chapter – “Can America make U-turns?” – to the quandary.

In the appendix he even adds a text by Stephen Walt debunking “the myth of American exceptionalism.” There’s no evidence the Exceptionalistan ethos is being seriously contested.

A recent McKinsey report  analyzes whether the “next normal” will emerge from Asia, and some of its conclusions are inevitable: “The future global story starts in Asia.” It goes way beyond prosaic numbers stating that in 20 years, by 2040, “Asia is expected to represent 40% of global consumption and 52% of GDP.”

The report argues that, “we may look back on this pandemic as the tipping point when the Asian Century truly began.”

In 1997, during the same week when I was covering the Hong Kong handover, I published a book in Brazil whose translated title was 21st: The Asian Century (excerpts from a few chapters may be found here). By that time I had already lived in Asia for three years, and learned quite a few important lessons from Mahbubani’s Singapore.

China then was still a distant player on the new horizon. Now it’s a completely different ball game. The Asian Century – actually Eurasian Century – is already on, as Eurasia integration develops driven by hard-working acronyms (BRI, AIIB, SCO, EAEU) and the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Mahbubani’s book, capturing the elusive, unbearable lightness of China, is the latest illustration of this inexorable flow of history.

Has China Won? The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy (Kishore Mahbubani), published by Public Affairs (US$19.89).

روسيا العُظمى ونهاية البترودولار؟

زياد حافظ

بينما يتخبّط الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب لإعادة العظمة للولايات المتحدة تنفيذاً لشعاره الانتخابي استطاعت روسيا أن تثبّت أنها دولة عُظمى بامتياز. وهي ليست الوحيدة في العالم، فالصين شريكتها في ذلك، لكن أصبح من المشكوك في أمره أنّ الولايات المتحدة قد تبقى دولة عُظمى هذا إذا ما بقيت كدولة متحدة! فما أصاب الاتحاد السوفياتي قد يصيبها بشكل أسواء لأنها دولة تاريخها لا يمتدّ إلى أكثر من ثلاثة قرون بينما روسيا تاريخها أعرق منها على الأقلّ ببضعة قرون. كما أنّ التناقضات الداخلية السياسية والاقتصادية جعلت الولايات المتحدة أكثر هشاشة مما يعتقد معظم المراقبين فهي أصبحت في مرحلة التراجع. وقد شرحنا سابقاً لماذا الولايات المتحدة مهدّدة ليس بالأفول فقط بل بالزوال، على الأقلّ زوال شكلها الحالي. هدفنا في هذه المطالعة إبراز الدور المتصاعد لروسيا الذي يؤثّر بشكل مباشر في قلب موازين القوّة لصالح محور تقوده كل من روسيا والصين ومعهما الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران ومحور المقاومة بشكل عام. يُضاف إلى ذلك المحور دول أميركا اللاتينية التي تصارع الهيمنة والبلطجة الأميركية ككوبا وفنزويلا ونيكارغوا في المرحلة الحالية وإلى حد ما المكسيك، وربما في المستقبل القريب كل من الأرجنتين والبرازيل وبوليفيا.

العزلة المتزايدة الأميركية يقابلها حضور دبلوماسي وسياسي روسي نافذ وحاسم في معظم الملفّات الساخنة. وأهمية هذا الحضور أنه جاء بعد تفكيك الاتحاد السوفياتي وبعد غزوة الاوليغارشية الروسية على مرافق الاقتصاد الروسي في حقبة بوريس يلتسين وبتشجيع أميركي واضح. غير أن روسيا استطاعت بقيادة فلاديمير بوتين استعادة مكانتها السياسية في العالم في فترة قصيرة نسبياً ما يدلّ على ضخامة الجهود التي بُذلت من قبل القيادة الروسية الجديدة بعد حقبة بوريس يلتسين. ففي آسيا، هي الشريكة الأولى للصين وصاحبة مشروع متكامل مع المشروع الصيني المعروف بالحزام والطريق الواحد. والمشروع الروسي هو مشروع الكتلة الاوراسية التي تمتد شرقاً من بحر الصين إلى الغرب في بحر المتوسط، كما أنها قد تصل إلى المحيط الأطلسي الشمالي والجنوبي فيما استطاعت التفاهم مع الاتحاد الأوروبي وإذا ما استطاعت التفاهم مع دول المغرب العربي الكبير.

أما على الصعيد العسكري فلم يخش الرئيس الروسي في خطاب موجّه للأمة في شهر آذار/مارس 2018 الكشف عن التطوّر النوعي الفائق في الإنتاج العسكري والكاسر للتوازن وذلك عبر عرض السلاح الجوّي الجديد من طائرات وصواريخ فائقة السرعة والتخفّي وعن أسلحة أخرى حيث تحتاج الولايات المتحدة على الأقل عشر سنوات للوصول إلى المستوى نفسه. وإذا ما اخذنا بعين الاعتبار تعليقات الخبراء في السلاح الروسي فإن الاسطول البحري الأميركي أصبح بمثابة خردة عائمة في البحار، حيث لا تستطيع وسائل الدفاع الأميركية رصد وردع الصواريخ الفائقة السرعة والمتخفية. المهم هنا أن السلاح الروسي الجديد المتفوّق نوعياً وقليل الكلفة في آن واحد يشكل مصدراً تنافسياً جاداً للولايات المتحدة في التسويق التسليحي ويدعم الدبلوماسية الروسية في الملفّات كما شهدنا في معالجتها للمعضلة التركية في المسرح السوري.

في الأيام الأخيرة أقدمت روسيا على قلب الطاولة على كل من الولايات المتحدة وبلاد الحرمين في موضوع النفط. وقرار روسيا بعدم الالتزام بقرارات منظّمة الاوبيك ورفض الابتزاز من قبل حكومة الرياض حول تثبيت استقرار سعر برميل النفط عبر تخفيض الإنتاج له دلالات في ظرف اقتصادي عالمي صعب وفي ظرف اضطراب كبير في الجزيرة العربية، خاصة في أعقاب الحرب الكونية على سورية التي تخرج سورية منها منتصرة وفي أعقاب العدوان العبثي التي تقوده بلاد الحرمين على اليمن حيث تخرج منها مهزومة ومجروحة وصاغرة وفي ظل صراع داخلي على العرش.

لم يأت القرار الروسي من الفراغ. فالقيادة الروسية مقتنعة أن الولايات المتحدة ليست في مزاج الوصول إلى تسوية أو حتى تفاهم على الملفّات الكبرى وأن حزب الحرب المسيطر في الولايات المتحدة يريد المواجهة وربما الحرب المفتوحة وإن لم تكن الجهوزية لها متوفرة. قرار روسيا جاء لتسديد ضربة موجعة جدّا للغرب بشكل عام وللولايات المتحدة بشكل خاص بعد أن عرقلت الأخيرة المشروع الغازي الروسي نورستريم 2 الذي هدفه تزويد أوروبا الغربية بالغاز. وكعب أخيل الأميركي هو قطاع النفط والأسواق المالية المثقلة بالديون. فعبر استهداف قطاع النفط الصخري الأميركي الذي له الدور الأكبر في زيادة الإنتاج النفطي الأميركي تقول روسيا لأميركا إنك في موقع ضعف ولا تستطيعين تحمّل نتائج استمرارك في محاربتنا. التدهور في أسعار النفط جاء في أعقاب التراجع الكبير في البورصات الأميركية المثقلة بالديون والعالميّة بسبب تداعيات فيروس الكورونا الذي ضرب الصين وأدّى إلى تباطؤ نموّها هذه السنة. وتبعات التباطؤ الصيني انعكست في تباطؤ اقتصادات العالم بسبب التأثير الكبير للاقتصاد الصيني على العالم واتّكال العالم على شبكات العرض الصناعيّة التي تملكها الصين والتي يحتاجها العالم وفي مقدّمته الولايات المتحدة. فالضعف في الأسواق المالية بسبب الكورونا كشف الضعف البنيويّ فيها بسبب الديون التي تفوق طاقة التسديد والاتّكالية في الإنتاج على دول خارج الغرب بشكل عام وخاصة الولايات المتحدة. فلا تستطيع الأسواق المالية أن تستمّر في النمو بعيدة عن نمو الاقتصاد الفعلي كما لا تستطيع الأسواق الاستمرار في معدلات النمو أضعاف المعدلات في الاقتصاد الفعلي.

تحاول الولايات المتحدة المكابرة والتنكّر للضربة الموجعة الموجّهة لها. فالرئيس الأميركي أمر إدارته بشراء كمّيات كبيرة من النفط من الشركات الأميركية المتضرّرة من الانهيار في أسعار برميل النفط وذلك لتغذية الاحتياط الاستراتيجي للنفط. كما أمر أن يكون سعر الشراء «جيّدا» دون أن يحدّد ما هو «جيد». هذا حلّ موقت وفي أحسن الأحوال يستنزف الخزينة الأميركية لأن الموضوع هو في مئات مليارات الدولار. فإذا أحد أصدقاء الرئيس الأميركي من رجال النفط خسر في يوم واحد فقط ما يقارب مليارين من الدولارات، فيمكن أن يتصوّر المرء مدى الخسارة لمجمل القطاع النفطي الأميركي وخاصة عند الشركات النفط الكبرى كشركة اكسون وكالتكس وسونوكو على سبيل المثال.

في هذه المواجهة الجديدة التي فرضتها روسيا على الولايات المتحدة احتمالات الانتصار الروسي أكثر من احتمالات الصمود الأميركي أو نظام بلاد الحرمين. أولا، فإن كلفة الإنتاج لبرميل النفط الروسي منخفضة وتنافس كلفة الإنتاج في الخليج وبلاد الحرمين بينما الكلفة مرتفعة جدّا للنفط الصخري في الولايات المتحدة. فمعظم الدراسات والتقارير تفيد أن تغطية تلك الكلفة في الولايات المتحدة تستدعي سعراً لبرميل النفط بحدود الثمانين دولاراً بينما السعر المتداول هذه الأيام هو بحدود 45 دولاراً مع احتمالات جدّية للهبوط حتى منتصف العشرينيات. هذا ما ضرب مصداقية والجدوى الاقتصادية لذلك الاقتصاد النفطي الذي تمّ تمويله بالديون ولكن على قاعدة معلومات ملفّقة وغير دقيقة. فإضافة إلى كلفة إنتاج تفوق الأسعار في السوق هناك دفق مالي سلبي (negative cashflow) حيث الواردات أقل من الكلفة. كما أن الطاقة المستثمرة لاستخراج النفط الصخري أكبر من الطاقة المستخرجة ناهيك عن التهديد الواضح والصريح للبيئة.

ثانياً، ليست للشركات الروسية المنتجة للنفط ديون خارجية وبالدولار بينما الشركات الأميركية التي تستخرج النفط الصخري مثقلة بالديون. ثالثاً، تبيع روسيا معظم نفطها بالروبل وبالعملات الوطنية للدول التي تشتري نفطها وبالتالي هي خارج الابتزاز الأميركي في ما يتعلّق بالدولار. والتسهيلات للدفع بالعملات الوطنية تساعد على تسويق النفط الروسي. رابعاً، برهنت روسيا أن التقلّبات في سعر صرف الروبل لن يؤثّر في موازنتها العامة، حيث استطاعت التكيّف مع التقلّبات. وبما أن الديون شبه معدومة عند الروس فالقدرة على قولا «لا» تصبح كبيرة بينما الحالة مختلفة جدّا عند منافسيها العرب والأميركيين. فحرّية التحرّك الروسي تُوظّف لمصلحة الاستراتيجية الروسية المتوسطة والطويلة المدى.

خامسا، استهداف القطاع النفطي الأميركي لم يكن ليحصل لولا الانكشاف القائم في الأسواق المالية. فقوّة الولايات المتحدة كانت في السيطرة على شرايين المال وشبكات التمويل والأسواق المالية بشكل عام. وبما أن تلك الأسواق شهدت انخفاضات حادة بسبب انتشار وباء الكورونا وكشف عدم جهوزية الولايات المتحدة والدول الأوروبية على مواجهة ذلك الوباء فباتت المنظومة المالية القائمة على سياسات نيوليبرالية مهدّدة. انخفاض سعر برميل النفط ينعكس على أسعار شركات النفط الكبيرة في الولايات المتحدة ما يجعلها تتحرّك للضغط على الإدارة الأميركية لتغيير سياستها باتجاه يرضي في آخر المطاف الحاجات الروسية. حتى الساعة لم ترضخ الإدارة لتلك المستجدّات وما زالت تعتقد أن بمقدورها تجاوز الأزمة. فقرار الرئيس الأميركي بشراء كمّيات كبيرة من النفط من الشركات الأميركية لتغذية الاحتياط الاستراتيجي قد يكون بمثابة حبّة بنادول بينما المطلوب جراحة عميقة في الجسم المالي.

ويتساءل البعض لماذا أدّى تفشّي وباء فيروس الكورونا إلى انخفاض حادّ في الأسواق المالية خاصة أن الإعلام الغربي بشكل عام والأميركي بشكل خاص ركّز على أن مصدره هو الصين بغض النظر عن الملابسات حوله والتي كشفتها الحكومة الصينية في تحميل المسؤولية إلى الولايات المتحدة. فتفشّي الوباء أدّى إلى شلّ الحركة الصناعية في الصين التي أصبحت المورد الأول في العالم للمواد الصناعية. فأي انخفاض في الإنتاج الصيني يعني تباطؤا في الحركة الاقتصادية في العالم. والأسواق المالية تعكس إلى حد كبير التوقّعات الاقتصادية ليس إلاّ لغرض المراهنة على المستقبل في المضاربات التي تشّكل العمود الفقري لعملها. فالاقتصاد والاقتراض المنفصم عن الاقتصاد الفعلي لا يستطيع أن يذهب بعيداً ومنفرداً عن الاقتصاد الفعلي وبالتالي تحوّل المناخ التفاؤلي في الأسواق المالية إلى مزاج تشاؤمي كبير ساهم في تعميقه سوء الإدارة الأميركية والشركات الكبرى في تقدير الموقف عبر الاستهتار والإنكار لخطورة تفشّي وباء الكورونا.

أخر الأخبار تفيد أن الإجراءات للاحتياط الاتحادي الذي يعمل بمثابة المصرف المركزي في تخفيض الفائدة إلى الصفر وضخ ما يوازي 700 مليار دولار لم تؤدّ إلى عودة التفاؤل إلى الأسواق المالية التي ما زالت تعاني من تقلّبات ضخمة وفي اتجاه انخفاض كبير. فعلى ما يبدو لم يرتَح السوق إلى الإجراءات المتخذة على صعيد مكافحة وباء فيروس الكورونا وتصحيح الاتجاه في الأسواق المالية.

لذلك الأزمة في الأسواق المالية مرشّحة للاستمرار بل حتى إلى التفاقم. هذا يعني ليس أفول حقبة البترودولار بل ربما سقوط النظام المالي الدولي. هذا ما تسعى إليه كل من روسيا والصين، حيث هيمنة الدولار لم تعد مبرّرة وحتى مقبولة. فالصفقات الكبيرة في النفط بين روسيا والصين والتعامل في عدد متزايد بالعملات الوطنية ينذر بأفول دور الدولار في العالم. كم لا نستبعد إعادة النظر في تسعير السلع الأساسية بالدولار. فالقهوة والقمح مثلا إضافة إلى البترول والغاز مسعّرة بالدولار. وهذا قد يتغيّر ما يعني أن الطلب على الدولار سينخفض بشكل ملموس ويعني نهاية نظام البترودولار. فهل يمكن أن نقول إن روسيا قامت بحركة في الشطرنج الدولي أدّى إلى كشّ ملك ثم إلى ملك مات؟ هذا ما ستكشفه الأسابيع المقبلة!

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*كاتب اقتصادي سياسي والأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي.

No Weapon Left Behind: The American Hybrid War on China

Pepe Escobar February 21, 2020

The New Silk Roads – or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – were launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, first in Central Asia (Nur-Sultan) and then Southeast Asia (Jakarta).

One year later, the Chinese economy overtook the U.S. on a PPP basis. Inexorably, year after year since the start of the millennium, the U.S. share of the global economy shrinks while China’s increases.

China is already the key hub of the global economy and the leading trade partner of nearly 130 nations.

While the U.S. economy is hollowed out, and the casino financing of the U.S. government – repo markets and all – reads as a dystopian nightmare, the civilization-state steps ahead in myriad areas of technological research, not least because of Made in China 2025.

China largely beats the U.S. on patent filings and produces at least 8 times as many STEM graduates a year than the U.S., earning the status of top contributor to global science.

A vast array of nations across the Global South signed on to be part of BRI, which is planned for completion in 2049. Last year alone, Chinese companies signed contracts worth up to $128 billion in large-scale infrastructure projects in dozen of nations.

The only economic competitor to the U.S. is busy reconnecting most of the world to a 21st century, fully networked version of a trade system that was at its peak for over a millennia: the Eurasian Silk Roads.

Inevitably this state of things is something interlocking sectors of the U.S. ruling class simply would not accept.

Branding BRI as a “pandemic”

As the usual suspects fret over the “stability” of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Xi Jinping administration, the fact is the Beijing leadership has had to deal with an accumulation of extremely severe issues: a swine-flu epidemic killing half the stock; the Trump-concocted trade war; Huawei accused of racketeering and about to be prevented from buying U.S. made chips; bird flu; coronavirus virtually shutting down half of China.

Add to it the incessant United States government Hybrid War propaganda barrage, trespassed by acute Sinophobia; everyone from sociopathic “officials” to self-titled councilors are either advising corporate businesses to divert global supply chains out of China or concocting outright calls for regime change – with every possible demonization in between.

There are no holds barred in the all-out offensive to kick the Chinese government while it’s down.

A Pentagon cipher at the Munich Security Conference once again declares China as the greatest threat, economically and militarily, to the U.S. – and by extension the West, forcing a wobbly EU already subordinated to NATO to be subservient to Washington on this remixed Cold War 2.0.

The whole U.S. corporate media complex repeats to exhaustion that Beijing is “lying” and losing control. Descending to sub-gutter, racist levels, hacks even accuse BRI itself of being a pandemic, with China “impossible to quarantine”.

All that is quite rich, to say the least, oozing from lavishly rewarded slaves of an unscrupulous, monopolistic, extractive, destructive, depraved, lawless oligarchy which uses debt offensively to boost their unlimited wealth and power while the lowly U.S. and global masses use debt defensively to barely survive. As Thomas Piketty has conclusively shown, inequality always relies on ideology.

We’re deep into a vicious intel war. From the point of view of Chinese intelligence, the current toxic cocktail simply cannot be attributed to just a random series of coincidences. Beijing has serial motives to piece this extraordinary chain of events as part of a coordinated Hybrid War, Full Spectrum Dominance attack on China.

Enter the Dragon Killer working hypothesis: a bio-weapon attack capable of causing immense economic damage but protected by plausible deniability. The only possible move by the “indispensable nation” on the New Great Game chessboard, considering that the U.S. cannot win a conventional war on China, and cannot win a nuclear war on China.

A biological warfare weapon?

On the surface, coronavirus is a dream bio-weapon for those fixated on wreaking havoc across China and praying for regime change.

Yet it’s complicated. This report is a decent effort trying to track the origins of coronavirus. Now compare it with the insights by Dr. Francis Boyle, international law professor at the University of Illinois and author, among others, of Biowarfare and Terrorism. He’s the man who drafted the U.S. Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 signed into law by George H. W. Bush.

Dr. Boyle is convinced coronavirus is an

“offensive biological warfare weapon” that leaped out of the Wuhan BSL-4 laboratory, although he’s “not saying it was done deliberately.”

Dr. Boyle adds, “all these BSL-4 labs by United States, Europe, Russia, China, Israel are all there to research, develop, test biological warfare agents. There’s really no legitimate scientific reason to have BSL-4 labs.” His own research led to a whopping $100 billion, by 2015, spent by the United States government on bio-warfare research: “We have well over 13,000 alleged life science scientists… testing biological weapons here in the United States. Actually this goes back and it even precedes 9/11.”

Dr. Boyle directly accuses “the Chinese government under Xi and his comrades” of a cover up “from the get-go. The first reported case was December 1, so they’d been sitting on this until they couldn’t anymore. And everything they’re telling you is a lie. It’s propaganda.”

The World Health Organization (WHO), for Dr. Boyle, is also on it: “They’ve approved many of these BSL-4 labs (…) Can’t trust anything the WHO says because they’re all bought and paid for by Big Pharma and they work in cahoots with the CDC, which is the United States government, they work in cahoots with Fort Detrick.” Fort Detrick, now a cutting-edge bio-warfare lab, previously was a notorious CIA den of mind control “experiments”.

Relying on decades of research in bio-warfare, the U.S. Deep State is totally familiar with all bio-weapon overtones. From Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Korea, Vietnam and Fallujah, the historical record shows the United States government does not blink when it comes to unleashing weapons of mass destruction on innocent civilians.

For its part, the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) has spent a fortune researching bats, coronaviruses and gene-editing bio-weapons. Now, conveniently – as if this was a form of divine intervention – DARPA’s “strategic allies” have been chosen to develop a genetic vaccine.

The 1996 neocon Bible, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), unambiguously stated, “advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.”

There’s no question coronavirus, so far, has been a Heaven-sent politically useful tool, reaching, with minimum investment, the desired targets of maximized U.S. global power – even if fleetingly, enhanced by a non-stop propaganda offensive – and China relatively isolated with its economy semi paralyzed.

Yet perspective is in order. The CDC estimated that up to 42.9 million people got sick during the 2018-2019 flu season in the U.S. No less than 647,000 people were hospitalized. And 61,200 died.

This report details the Chinese “people’s war” against coronavirus.

It’s up to Chinese virologists to decode its arguably synthetic origin. How China reacts, depending on the findings, will have earth-shattering consequences – literally.

Setting the stage for the Raging Twenties

After managing to reroute trade supply chains across Eurasia to its own advantage and hollow out the Heartland, American – and subordinated Western – elites are now staring into a void. And the void is staring back. A “West” ruled by the U.S. is now faced with irrelevance. BRI is in the process of reversing at least two centuries of Western dominance.

There’s no way the West and especially the “system leader” U.S. will allow it. It all started with dirty ops stirring trouble across the periphery of Eurasia – from Ukraine to Syria to Myanmar.

Now it’s when the going really gets tough. The targeted assassination of Maj. Gen. Soleimani plus coronavirus – the Wuhan flu – have really set up the stage for the Raging Twenties. The designation of choice should actually be WARS – Wuhan Acute Respiratory Syndrome. That would instantly give the game away as a War against Humanity – irrespective of where it came from.The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Expansion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Tehran Wants to Build “the Golden Ring”

Statement of Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan

By Andrew Korybko

Global Research, February 07, 2020

Featured image is from OneWorld

BRI-led Eurasian integration processes are one of the defining characteristics of contemporary International Relations, and the Golden Ring could eventually become the centerpiece of these efforts if Ambassador Hosseini’s W-CPEC+ proposal succeeds, especially if it’s done in parallel with N-CPEC+.

The Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan shared his visionary plans for CPEC+, the neologism that’s becoming popular in Pakistan nowadays to refer to the expansion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor along different geographic axes such as the northern (N-CPEC+), western (W-CPEC+), and southern (S-CPEC+) ones. Turkey’s Anadolou Agency reported on Ambassador Seyyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini’s lecture at the Islamabad Strategic Studies Institute (ISSI) earlier this week, which deserves to be analyzed more in depth.

According to Ambassador Hosseini,

“Establishment of rail network between Gwadar and Chabahar and its link up to Europe and Central Asia through Iran, will usher major economic development in the region. On the other hand, construction of Railway track on Pakistani territory to China, linking the two ports will lead towards economic development in this region.” In practice, this would fulfill what the author wrote about W-CPEC+ in his CGTN analysis last April titled “CPEC+ is the key to achieving regional integration goals“.

In that piece, he wrote that

“Pakistani Prime Minister Khan’s recent visit to Iran saw the two neighboring countries agreeing to deepen their cooperation with one another, which could foreseeably evolve to the point of a W-CPEC+ overland trade route eventually traveling through the Islamic Republic to Islamabad and Beijing’s partners in Turkey, which could be paired with a parallel maritime corridor connecting CPEC’s terminal point of Gwadar with the Gulf Kingdoms.”

That’s exactly what Ambassador Hosseini proposed during his lecture at ISSI (minus the part about the Gulf Kingdoms), which could revolutionize Iran’s geostrategic role in the emerging Multipolar World Order and consequently make it one of the most important countries of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) if successfully implemented with time. Not only could this have significant economic implications, but also significant political ones as well.

The Ambassador is also quoted by Anadolou Agency as saying that “Countries like Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Russia and China have the potential to form a new alliance for better future of the region”. While China and Russia eschew the term “alliance” to describe their close relations with other countries, the intent of his words is clear enough in that he’s calling for a strengthened strategic partnership between all five of those countries. This becomes a realistic possibility between China, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey if W-CPEC+ is completed.

As for Russia, it could be brought on board this ambitious connectivity proposal if W-CPEC+ is expanded to include it via Azerbaijan by following the path proposed by the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) that those two, Iran, and India are trying to build. Moreover, the pioneering of a Russia-Pakistan trade corridor via post-war Afghanistan and Central Asia (N-CPEC+) could greatly contribute to making Moscow a greater stakeholder in this CPEC-centric strategic quintet that some have called the “Golden Ring“.

BRI-led Eurasian integration processes are one of the defining characteristics of contemporary International Relations, and the Golden Ring could eventually become the centerpiece of these efforts if Ambassador Hosseini’s W-CPEC+ proposal succeeds, especially if it’s done in parallel with N-CPEC+. The five anchor states of this connectivity vision could be linked to one another and the states between them (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and the Central Asian Republics) through a multitude of rail and other transport corridors built by China.

Through these means, China would be functioning as the engine of Eurasian integration and tying all of the involved countries closer together in a Community of Shared Destiny. The complex interdependence that would emerge as a result of this vision would make each party greater stakeholders in one another’s success, with the construction of multilateral megaprojects giving their citizens unprecedented economic opportunities. The CPEC-centric Golden Ring would therefore strengthen stability in the geostrategic Heartland of Eurasia.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

China’s virus response has been ‘breathtaking’

Would Mao Zedong (pictured in background at Tiananmen Gate in Beijing) be happy with China’s attempt to win a ‘People’s War’ on the coronavirus? Photo: Nicolas Asfouri / AFP

January 31, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

Chinese President Xi Jinping is leading a scientific ‘People’s War’ against the coronavirus

President Xi Jinping formally told WHO head Tedros Ghebreyesus, at their meeting in Beijing earlier this week, that the coronavirus epidemic “is a devil and we cannot allow the devil to hide.”

Ghebreyesus for his part could not but praise Beijing for its extremely swift, coordinated response strategy – which includes fast identification of the genome sequence. Chinese scientists have already handed over to Russian counterparts the virus genome, with snap tests able to identify it in a human body within two hours. A Russia-China vaccine is under development.

The devil, of course, is always in the details. In a matter of a few days, at the peak of the most congested travel period of the year, China did manage to quarantine an urban environment of over 56 million people, including megalopolis Wuhan and three nearby cities. This is an absolute first in terms of public health, anytime in history.

Wuhan, with a GDP growth of 8.5% a year, is a significant business center for China. It lies at the strategic crossroads of the Yangtze and Han rivers and at a railway crossroads as well – between the north-south axis linking Guangzhou to Beijing and the east-west axis linking Shanghai to Chengdu.

As premier Li Keqiang was sent to Wuhan, President Xi visited the strategic southern province of Yunnan, where he extolled the immense government apparatus to boost control and sanitary prevention mechanisms to limit propagation of the virus.

Coronavirus catches China at an extremely sensitive juncture – after the (failed) Hybrid War tactics displayed in Hong Kong; an American pro-Taiwan offensive; the trade war far from solved by a mere “phase 1” deal while more sanctions are being plotted against Huawei; and even the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, which ultimately is about targeting the expansion of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Southwest Asia (Iran-Iraq-Syria).

The Big Picture spells out Total Information War and non-stop weaponization of the China “threat” – now even metastasized, with racist overtones, as a bio-threat. So how vulnerable is China?

A people’s war

For almost five years now a maximum-security biolab has been operating in Wuhan dedicated to the study of highly pathogenic micro-organisms – set up in partnership with France after the SARS epidemic. In 2017, Nature magazine was warning about the risks of dispersion of pathogenic agents out of this lab. Yet there’s no evidence this might have happened.

In crisis management terms, President Xi has lived up to the occasion – ensuring that China fights coronavirus with nearly total transparency (after all, the internet wall remains in place). Beijing has warned the whole government apparatus in no uncertain terms not to attempt any cover-ups. A real-time webpage, in English, here, is available to everyone. Whoever is not doing enough will face serious consequences. One can imagine what awaits the party chief in Hubei, Jiang Chaoliang.

A post that went viral all over the mainland this past Sunday states, “We in Wuhan have truly entered the stage of people’s war against the new viral pneumonia”; and many people, “mainly Communist Party members” have been confirmed as “volunteers and observers according to street units.”

Crucially, the government directed everyone to install a “Wuhan Neighbors” applet downloaded from WeChat. That determines “our home’s quarantine address through satellite positioning, and then lock on our affiliated community organization and volunteers. Thenceforth, our social activities and information announcements would be connected to the system.”

Theoretically, this means that “anyone who develops a fever will report their condition through the network as soon as possible. The system will immediately provide an online diagnosis, and locate and register your quarantine address. If you need to see a doctor, your community will arrange a car to send you to the hospital through volunteers. At the same time, the system will track your progress: hospitalization, treatment at home, discharge, death, etc.”

So here we have millions of Chinese citizens totally mobilized in what’s routinely described as a “people’s war” using “high technology to fight against illness.” Millions are also drawing their own conclusions when comparing it with the use of app software to fight against the police in Hong Kong.

The biogenetic puzzle

Apart from crisis management, the speed of the Chinese scientific response has been breathtaking – and obviously not fully appreciated in an environment of Total Information War. Compare the Chinese performance with the American CDC, arguably the top infectious disease research agency in the world, with an $11 billion annual budget and 11,000 employees.

During the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014 – considered a maximum urgency, and facing a virus with a 90% fatality rate – the CDC took no less than two months from getting the first patient sample to identifying the complete genomic sequence. The Chinese did it in a few days.

During the swine flu in the US in 2009 – 55 million infected Americans, 11,000 killed – the CDC took over a month and a half to come up with identification kits.

The Chinese took only one week from the first patient sample to complete, vital identification and sequencing of coronavirus. Right away, they went for publication and deposit in the genomics library for immediate access by the whole planet. Based on this sequence, Chinese biotech companies produced validated essays within a week – also a first.

And we’re not even talking about the now notorious building of a brand new state of the art hospital in Wuhan in record time just to treat victims of coronavirus. No victims will pay for their treatment. Additionally, Healthy China 2030the reform of the health/development system, will be boosted.

Coronavirus opens a true Pandora’s box on biogenetics. Serious questions remain about experiences in vivo in which the consent of “patients” will not be required – considering the collective psychosis initially developed by Western corporate media and even the WHO around coronavirus. Coronavirus could well become a pretext for genetic experiments via vaccines.

Meanwhile, it’s always enlightening to remember Great Helmsman Mao Zedong. For Mao, the top two political variables were “independence” and “development.” That implies full sovereignty. As Xi seems determined to prove a sovereign civilization-state is able to win a scientific “people’s war,” that does not exactly spell out “vulnerability.”

Why the New Silk Roads are a ‘threat’ to US bloc

Modern day traders on the ancient Silk Road track in Central Asia. Photo: Facebook

The Middle East is the key to wide-ranging, economic, interlinked integration, and peace

By PEPE ESCOBAR

Under the cascading roar of the 24/7 news cycle cum Twitter eruptions, it’s easy for most of the West, especially the US, to forget the basics about the interaction of Eurasia with its western peninsula, Europe.

Asia and Europe have been trading goods and ideas since at least 3,500 BC. Historically, the flux may have suffered some occasional bumps – for instance, with the irruption of 5th-century nomad horsemen in the Eurasian plains. But it was essentially steady up to the end of the 15th century. We can essentially describe it as a millennium-old axis – from Greece to Persia, from the Roman empire to China.

A land route with myriad ramifications, through Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, linking India and China to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, ended up coalescing into what we came to know as the Ancient Silk Roads.

By the 7th century, land routes and sea trade routes were in direct competition. And the Iranian plateau always played a key role in this process.

The Iranian plateau historically includes Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia linking it to Xinjiang to the east, and to the west all the way to Anatolia. The Persian empire was all about land trade – the key node between India and China and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Persians engaged the Phoenicians in the Syrian coastline as their partners to manage sea trade in the Mediterranean. Enterprising people in Tyre established Carthage as a node between the Eastern and Western Mediterranean. Because of the partnership with the Phoenicians, the Persians would inevitably be antagonized by the Greeks – a sea trading power.

When the Chinese, promoting the New Silk Roads, emphasize “people to people exchange” as one of its main traits, they mean the millenary Euro-Asia dialogue. History may even have aborted two massive, direct encounters.

The first was after Alexander The Great defeated Darius III of Persia. But then Alexander’s Seleucid successors had to fight the rising power in Central Asia: the Parthians – who ended up taking over Persia and Mesopotamia and made the Euphrates the limes between them and the Seleucids.

The second encounter was when emperor Trajan, in 116 AD, after defeating the Parthians, reached the Persian Gulf. But Hadrian backed off – so history did not register what would have been a direct encounter between Rome, via Persia, with India and China, or the Mediterranean meeting with the Pacific.

Mongol globalization

The last western stretch of the Ancient Silk Roads was, in fact, a Maritime Silk Road. From the Black Sea to the Nile delta, we had a string of pearls in the form of Italian city/emporia, a mix of end journey for caravans and naval bases, which then moved Asian products to Italian ports.

Commercial centers between Constantinople and Crimea configured another Silk Road branch through Russia all the way to Novgorod, which was very close culturally to the Byzantine world. From Novgorod, merchants from Hamburg and other cities of the Hanseatic League distributed Asian products to markets in the Baltics, northern Europe and all the way to England – in parallel to the southern routes followed by the maritime Italian republics.

Between the Mediterranean and China, the Ancient Silk Roads were of course mostly overland. But there were a few maritime routes as well. The major civilization poles involved were peasant and artisanal, not maritime. Up to the 15th century, no one was really thinking about turbulent, interminable oceanic navigation.

The main players were China and India in Asia, and Italy and Germany in Europe. Germany was the prime consumer of goods imported by the Italians. That explains, in a nutshell, the structural marriage of the Holy Roman Empire.

At the geographic heart of the Ancient Silk Roads, we had deserts and the vast steppes, trespassed by sparse tribes of shepherds and nomad hunters. All across those vast lands north of the Himalayas, the Silk Road network served mostly the four main players. One can imagine how the emergence of a huge political power uniting all those nomads would be in fact the main beneficiary of Silk Road trade.

Well, that actually happened. Things started to change when the nomad shepherds of Central-South Asia started to have their tribes regimented as horseback archers by politico-military leaders such as Genghis Khan.

Welcome to the Mongol globalization. That was actually the fourth globalization in history, after the Syrian, the Persian and the Arab.    Under the Mongolian Ilkhanate, the Iranian plateau – once again playing a major role – linked China to the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia in the Mediterranean.

The Mongols didn’t go for a Silk Road monopoly. On the contrary: during Kublai Khan – and Marco Polo’s travels – the Silk Road was free and open. The Mongols only wanted caravans to pay a toll.

With the Turks, it was a completely different story. They consolidated Turkestan, from Central Asia to northwest China. The only reason Tamerlan did not annex India is that he died beforehand. But even the Turks did not want to shut down the Silk Road. They wanted to control it.

Venice lost its last direct Silk Road access in 1461, with the fall of Trebizond, which was still clinging to the Byzantine empire. With the Silk Road closed to the Europeans, the Turks – with an empire ranging from Central-South Asia to the Mediterranean – were convinced they now controlled trade between Europe and Asia.

Not so fast. Because that was when European kingdoms facing the Atlantic came up with the ultimate Plan B: a new maritime road to India.

And the rest – North Atlantic hegemony – is history.

Enlightened arrogance

The Enlightenment could not possibly box Asia inside its own rigid geometries. Europe ceased to understand Asia, proclaimed it was some sort of proteiform historical detritus and turned its undivided attention to “virgin,” or “promised” lands elsewhere on the planet.

We all know how England, from the 18th century onwards, took control of the entire trans-oceanic routes and turned North Atlantic supremacy into a lone superpower game – till the mantle was usurped by the US.

Yet all the time there has been counter-pressure from the Eurasian Heartland powers. That’s the stuff of international relations for the past two centuries – peaking in the young 21st century into what could be simplified as The Revenge of the Heartland against Sea Power. But still, that does not tell the whole story.

Rationalist hegemony in Europe progressively led to an incapacity to understand diversity – or The Other, as in Asia. Real Euro-Asia dialogue – the de facto true engine of history – had been dwindling for most of the past two centuries.

Europe owes its DNA not only to much-hailed Athens and Rome – but to Byzantium as well. But for too long not only the East but also the European East, heir to Byzantium, became incomprehensible, quasi incommunicado with Western Europe, or submerged by pathetic clichés.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as in the Chinese-led New Silk Roads, are a historical game-changer in infinite ways. Slowly and surely, we are evolving towards the configuration of an economically interlinked group of top Eurasian land powers, from Shanghai to the Ruhr valley, profiting in a coordinated manner from the huge technological know-how of Germany and China and the enormous energy resources of Russia.

The Raging 2020s may signify the historical juncture when this bloc surpasses the current, hegemonic Atlanticist bloc.

Now compare it with the prime US strategic objective at all times, for decades: to establish, via myriad forms of divide and rule, that relations between Germany, Russia and China must be the worst possible.

No wonder strategic fear was glaringly visible at the NATO summit in London last month, which called for ratcheting up pressure on Russia-China. Call it the late Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski’s ultimate, recurrent nightmare.

Germany soon will have a larger than life decision to make. It’s like this was a renewal – in way more dramatic terms – of the Atlanticist vs Ostpolitik debate. German business knows that the only way for a sovereign Germany to consolidate its role as a global export powerhouse is to become a close business partner of Eurasia.

In parallel, Moscow and Beijing have come to the conclusion that the  US trans-oceanic strategic ring can only be broken through the actions of a concerted block: BRI, Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), BRICS+ and the BRICS’ New Development Bank (NDB), the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Middle East pacifier

The Ancient Silk Road was not a single camel caravan route but an inter-communicating maze. Since the mid-1990s I’ve had the privilege to travel almost every important stretch – and then, one day, you see the complete puzzle. The New Silk Roads, if they fulfill their potential, pledge to do the same.

Maritime trade may be eventually imposed – or controlled – by a global naval superpower. But overland trade can only prosper in peace. Thus the New Silk Roads potential as The Great Pacifier in Southwest Asia – what the Western-centric view calls the Middle East.

The Middle East (remember Palmyra) was always a key hub of the Ancient Silk Roads, the great overland axis of Euro-Asia trade going all the way to the Mediterranean.

For centuries, a quartet of regional powers – Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and Persia (now Iran) – have been fighting for hegemony over the whole area from the Nile delta to the Persian Gulf. More recently, it has been a case of external hegemony: Ottoman Turk, British and American.

So delicate, so fragile, so immensely rich in culture, no other region in the world has been, continually, since the dawn of history, an absolutely key zone. Of course, the Middle East was also a crisis zone even before oil was found (the Babylonians, by the way, already knew about it).

The Middle East is a key stop in the 21st century, trans-oceanic supply chain routes – thus its geopolitical importance for the current superpower, among other geoeconomic, energy-related reasons. But its best and brightest know the Middle East does not need to remain a center of war, or intimations of war, which, incidentally, affect three of those historical, regional powers of the quartet (Syria, Iraq and Iran).

What the New Silk Roads are proposing is wide-ranging, economic, interlinked integration from East Asia, through Central Asia, to Iran, Iraq and Syria all the way to the Eastern Mediterranean. Just like the Ancient Silk Roads. No wonder vested War Party interests are so uncomfortable with this real peace “threat.”

Assad Discusses Belt and Road, US Aggression, with China’s Phoenix Television

December 16, 2019Miri Wood

Syrian President Bashar Assad interview with Chinese Phoenix channel

In the third of recent international interviews, Syria’s President Bashar al Assad met with Phoenix Television, to discuss Belt and Road development projects with China’s Phoenix Television.

Given that Syria and China are both part of the original Silk Road that created a beautiful explosion of the development and trade that uplifted humanity, this interview has greater importance than the recent one with France’s Paris Match and that with Rai News 24, subsequently banned in Italy. Transcript courtesy of SANA.The video is also available on Bitchute: https://www.bitchute.com/video/f72MJVK16TLw/

Journalist:  Mr. President, on behalf of the Chinese television channel, Phoenix, I would like to thank you for giving us this interview.

President Assad:  You are welcome.

Question 1:  Mr. President, allow me to start straight away…  Syria has been able to make great achievements in fighting terrorism and large areas of Syrian territories have been restored.  Now, where will you begin the reconstruction of Syria?

President Assad:  In fact, we are not waiting for the end of a particular stage of the war in order to start reconstruction; reconstruction starts immediately after the liberation of any area, whether it is big or small, a village or a city.  Reconstruction has stages, the first of which is rebuilding the infrastructure, particularly in the areas of water and electricity.  Later, the state shifts its focus to schools, health centers and hospitals.

However, the most important stage in reconstruction, which comes later and constitutes the most serious challenge for us, is restoring daily activity especially economic livelihood.  This requires a great deal of effort and is affected by internal factors and the external environment – namely the embargo imposed by Western countries on Syria, which has a negative affect and slows the process down.  So, reconstruction has already started, but we need more investments from within and outside the country in order to scale it up.

Question 2:  And here we ask, Mr. President, what are the most important areas in which Syria needs the help of friendly countries, including China?

President Assad:  China specifically provides assistance in reconstruction particularly in the humanitarian domain.  As I mentioned earlier, life’s necessities are water and electricity and China is providing support in these areas through humanitarian grants which we apply to the areas most in need.

In the past, we did not engage in discussions with our friends – and at the forefront China, on reconstruction because the security situation did not allow us to initiate this process on a large scale.  Now, with the liberation of most areas, we have started discussions with a number of Chinese companies experienced in reconstruction.  As I mentioned, the most important stage and the greatest challenge is the full restoration of the economic cycle.  We would hope that Chinese companies start looking and studying the Syrian market which is improving quickly and constantly in terms of security.

It is essential that we start discussing investment opportunities, because it is well-known that rebuilding countries destroyed partially or totally by war is very profitable and has high returns-on-investment.  The process is not limited to loans or providing aid without any returns, it is a profitable investment in every sense of the word.

We have started talking to a number of Chinese companies on finding ways to evade sanctions and have access to the Syrian market.  They have shown an interest because the process is profitable, but investors and investment companies still have concerns about the way sanctions could impact them.  We have found certain formulas, which will not be disclosed of course, for them to enter the Syrian market safely and consequently contribute to the reconstruction process in Syria.

I would like to emphasize that this support is not limited to the economy; reconstruction ultimately means contributing to Syria’s stability for two reasons.  First, in the past two years, millions of Syrians have returned from abroad without finding sufficient job opportunities, which in itself is a factor that can be used by terrorists and outside powers.  Second, the reconciliation we have achieved in Syria, was in part with those who worked with the militants or the terrorists at a certain period.  They agreed to lay down their weapons and return to their normal lives – this return requires job opportunities.  So, the support from China and other friendly countries in Syria’s reconstruction, is as important as the military efforts to restoring stability in Syria, and striking and fighting terrorism.

crimes-against-peace
Central Homs rebuilt by Syrian government with help of China. Dedicated May 2015
crimes-against-peace
Old Clock in Central Homs bombed by US-funded “moderates.”

Question 3:  So, can we ask about the concrete measures that are being taken by the Syrian government in order to attract investors coming from China and other friendly countries?

President Assad:  The first thing an investor needs is security.  When we talk about a country coming out of war: we have achieved great milestones in this respect, but we are not completely finished.  The first question an investor asks is about security, this is what we are doing on a daily basis – fighting terrorists and liberating areas one by one.

As to the investment environment, there are requirements any investor would need, regardless of whether there is a war or not.  In this regard, we are focusing on two things:  the urgent, which is improving this investment environment by addressing necessary measures, like transparency, clarity on investors’ rights and obligations in the country and the legal or judicial aspects of their investments.  With all these issues, we are currently drawing up clear guidelines for investors.

However, the more important and comprehensive step is the investment law.  We have achieved significant progress in developing our investment law in-line with similar laws in many other countries around the world, thus ensuring it is based on international investment standards.

This law clearly identifies the guarantees given to investors concerning their investment in Syria:  legal guarantees, financial guarantees, exemptions clearly laid out, the tax situation for their investments – and any other aspects which constitute a guarantee to ensure that this investment is completely safe and profitable.  We are now in the final stages of this law and it will be passed soon.

Question 4:  Well, Mr. President, are there specific measures taken to ensure the existence of a safe investment environment which assure Chinese investors to come and not face any security problems?  Chinese investors are very concerned about this.

President Assad's interview with Chinese channel

President Assad:  That’s right, this is a serious challenge.  In fact, there are two challenges.  First, is the current lack of sufficient or effective financial channels between Syria and China for the transfer of money.  This is a real problem caused mainly by the sanctions.  A solution must be found if we want investors to come to Syria; a solution needs the engagement of relevant financial institutions from both countries, which requires discussion at a state level.  This is a major obstacle that needs to be overcome.

The second issue is the fear that many Chinese companies still have.  Today, there are companies which are willing to send experts to Syria.  This is important because many Syrian industries have started to show interest in the Chinese market, for example Syrian factories which buy their equipment from China.  Previously, Chinese experts had concerns about coming to Syria; this has recently started to improve, which is a new step.

However, when we talk about Chinese investment with Chinese capital, this needs more assurances; we must exert greater effort in this regard as a Syrian state and we hope the Chinese state with its relevant institutions – like the China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation, to encourage investors to come to Syria or at least to the areas which have become completely safe.  In this interview I confirm this and since you are in Syria, you are able to convey the true, unexaggerated picture about the extent of security achieved recently.

Intervention: So, the Syrian government guarantees security to all Chinese companies which might come to Syria, and that there is no problem in terms of safety?

President Assad:  Certainly.

Question 5:  Mr. President, I would like to ask you about the Belt and Road Initiative.  How do you see this initiative in general?

President Assad:  From a strategic perspective, it constitutes a worldwide transformation, a transformation in the nature of international relations.  If we look at the current situation in the world, we see that it is governed by Western attempts of domination, particularly on the part of the United States.  In the past during the Cold War, there was a period of conflict among states.  This conflict was based on the degree of dominance of each pole, particularly the Western pole over a group of states, in order to achieve its interests against the other pole.

Before that, World War II and the preceding period of full colonialization; states occupied other nations and wherever they did so, they defined the interests of those peoples under their domination.  In most cases there were no mutual interests; those peoples were enslaved by the more powerful states.

Today, we see that there is a superpower – China, trying to strengthen its influence in the world. But what kind of influence?  It is not the negative influence we have become accustomed to, but rather an influence in the sense of relying on friends and an influence based on mutual interests.  When we in Syria think about being part of the Silk Road and Syria is a small country – by international, geographic, demographic, economic and military standards…

Intervention: But historically, it is on the Silk Road.

President Assad:  It is exactly on the Silk Road, but what is more important is that this new approach is derived from history but is suitable for the 21st century; it is an approach built on parity.  When we are part of this Road, China treats us as equals and not as a superpower dealing with a small country.  There are mutual interests: it is beneficial to China, Syria and all the countries on this Road.

Another aspect, is that it is not limited to China’s bilateral relations with these countries but rather it is a relationship among all the countries on this axis.  So, it is a relationship of culture and civilization which ultimately leads to greater prosperity and investment, and the improvement of the social, economic and security conditions in these countries.  This means more stability in the world, which is contrary to what we have known in our modern and recent history.  This is what we see in the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative): stability and prosperity.

Question 6:  Syria, for its part, expressed its desire to take part in the Belt and Road Initiative.  Are there any developments in this regard?

President Assad:  During the previous period, and especially in the early years of the war due to the instability, it wasn’t our priority.  Perhaps because it didn’t make sense to talk about infrastructure when you are in a state of life or death, not as individuals but as a homeland, as a nation – Syria.

Now that we have overcome this stage and with the increased stability and the improvement of the economic cycle in Syria, we have started this year a serious dialogue with the Chinese government on how Syria can become part of the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative).  At present Syria is not on the route; there are different routes and Syria is not on them.  However, part of the initiative includes cultural, educational and scientific domains, and through the direct relationship between us and China, there has been a large number – which has increased in recent years – of scholarships offered to Syria that we are benefitting from.  The discussions have recently started concerning infrastructure, which is one of the most important elements and could make Syria a part of the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative) in the future.  We have proposed a number of projects only a few months ago.

Intervention:  In specific areas.

President Assad:  Of course.  In areas related to infrastructure, we have proposed around six projects to the Chinese government in line with the Belt and Road methodology and we are waiting for the Chinese government to determine which project, or projects, is in line with their thinking.  I think when this infrastructure is developed, with time, the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative) passing through Syria becomes a foregone conclusion, because it is not a road you only draw on a map.  Whilst it is true that historically the Silk Road passed through Syria, Iraq and this region, today however, this initiative takes into account the available infrastructure required for these routes.  Therefore, by establishing, strengthening, and developing this infrastructure, the Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative) will pass through Syria in the future.

Manufacturing returns to Aleppo.
Rebuilt souks in Aleppo.

Question 7:  Do you think that Syria has now become ready, security-wise, to be part of this initiative?

President Assad:  Precisely, because we are ready security-wise, we have started discussions with our Chinese friends.  Before that, it wasn’t logically or practically possible to initiate such a dialogue.

Question 8:  Mr. President, I would like to ask you about the situation in America.  The United States holds presidential elections next year.  If Trump is not reelected for a new presidential term, would that failure, in your opinion, be useful to Syria or not?

President Assad:  In one of my interviews, I referred to Trump as being the best because he is the most transparent.  Of course, being the best doesn’t mean that he is good; but transparency is a good thing especially that when it comes to Western politics because we have become accustomed to masks which hide real Western intentions regarding the world.

However at the same time, we need to realise that the American political system is not a state system in the sense that we understand.  It is a system comprised of lobbies.  The rulers of America are the money lobbies, whether in the form of oil, weapons, banks, or others. These lobbies control all parts of American politics.

When Trump tried to be independent, albeit in a very limited degree, the attack against him started.  We are now witnessing the impeachment process aimed at bringing the President back into line with the lobbies.  All the presidents we have dealt with in Syria, from Nixon in 1974 – when relations with America were restored, up to Trump today are controlled by these lobbies.   No matter how much good will any president has, he cannot act outside the policies of these lobbies.  Therefore, betting on the change of presidents is misplaced and unrealistic and I don’t think that this American policy will change in the next few years.  That’s why during the election campaign, they say one thing and once they are elected, they do the complete opposite.  For those reasons in Syria we never consider which American president comes and which one leaves.

Intervention:  In this context, I pose the question: after the American president announced his intention to withdraw American forces from Syria, he suddenly backtracked and said that he will leave American troops in Syria in order to protect oil wells in the area east of the Euphrates.  So, he suddenly takes a decision, and then goes back on it.

President Assad:  Exactly, what you are saying confirms my point that the lobbies are the ones in charge of the policies.  It also confirms that this state is not governed by principles, but rather by the interests of those companies; if they have an interest in occupying the oil wells, stealing and selling them one way or another, then this state and this regime will act in favor of these companies, regardless of international law and regardless of American law.  They violate American laws for the sake of these companies because if they don’t make them happy, the president might be impeached.

Question 9:  Mr. President, what is the number of the remaining American troops on Syrian territories now?

President Assad:  The funny thing in American politics is that they announce the number between thousands and hundreds.  When they say thousands: it is to make the the pro-war lobby – particularly the arms companies, happy that they are in a state of war.  When they say hundreds: they are addressing the people who oppose the war by saying that they are only “a few hundred.”  In actual fact, both figures are incorrect for a simple reason; even if these figures were correct, they are based on the number of American soldiers and not the number of individuals fighting with the American army.  The American regime relies significantly in its wars on private firms like Blackwater in Iraq and others.  So even if they had a few hundred American soldiers in Syria, they still also have thousands – maybe tens of thousands, of civilians working for such companies and fighting in Syria.  That’s why it is difficult to know the real number, but it is certainly in the thousands.

Question 10:  The Americans say that they will protect oil wells in the east of Euphrates area in Syria; but in the end, what are they going to do with the oil produced from those wells?

President Assad:  Before the Americans, in the early days Jabhat al-Nusra used these wells; after ISIS came and drove out al-Nusra – or rather when ISIS merged with al-Nusra and they all became ISIS, it also stole and sold oil.  Where? It used to sell it through Turkey.  Now America is the one stealing oil and selling it to Turkey.  Turkey is an accomplice, with all these groups, in selling oil; it doesn’t have a problem – Turkey is ready.  The Turkish regime plays a direct part in selling the oil, previously with al-Nusra, later with ISIS and today with the Americans.

Erdogan thief أردوغان اللص
Erdogan: Syrian factories and economy thief.

Question 11:  In this situation, what is the impact on Syrian oil returns?

President Assad:  At a certain point at the beginning of the war, oil returns dropped to almost zero.  Today – after restoring a small number of wells during the past two years – we have a little amount of oil.  However, there is still limited positive impact on the Syrian economy from oil because most of the wells are either under the control of terrorist groups or groups acting outside the law and under American command.  So, the situation with the oil has not changed much.

Question 12:  Yes. So, how is the Syrian government going to face the question of American presence in the oil fields area east of the Euphrates?

President Assad:  First, the Americans rely on terrorists.   The terrorists must be attacked, this is a priority for us in Syria.  Striking the terrorists weakens the American presence one way or another.  At a later stage: there are Syrian groups acting under American command and these groups must be persuaded, one way or another and particularly through dialogue, that it is in all our interests in Syria that they embrace the homeland and join the Syrian state’s efforts to liberate all its territories.  At that point, it’s only natural that there will be no prospect for an American presence.  However, if they remained, they have their experience in Iraq to consider; there will be a popular resistance and they will pay the price.  Ultimately, the Americans will leave.

Question 13:  Mr. President, we have witnessed recently popular protests and riots in some neighboring countries, including Iraq, Lebanon, and even Iran.  In fact, these countries are considered, to a certain extent, Syria’s allies.  How do you view what happened and is happening in these countries?

President Assad:  Of course, neighboring countries have a direct impact on us because there are direct family and economic relations, as well as other types of relations that exist between any two neighboring countries.  At the same time, the Middle East as a whole is one area; the social fabric is similar, beliefs are similar and interests are intertwined even when these countries are not direct neighbors.

If we assume that the movements taking place aim to address the problems faced by the population and that they would lead to improving economic, political and other conditions in these countries, then I can say that the impact will be positive.

However, if we think logically, would the Western countries and in particular the United States, leave these countries to continue spontaneously?!  They would definitely interfere and would certainly exploit every movement in order to create chaos, because American policy – at least since 2000 and since the Iraq war – is to create chaos. This is what they called ‘constructive chaos;’ that is how George Bush and Condoleezza Rice referred to it.  This ‘constructive chaos’ which they are looking for, is a type of chaos that achieves their interests.  That’s why when this chaos takes place in our region, or in any other region, it will have a negative impact on us.  Chaos is contagious, it’s like a disease, it spreads; so, we can only hope that these events remain in the internal, spontaneous, popular framework.

Question 14:  Would it be possible to say that one should look for an American role wherever there is chaos?

President Assad:  This is self-evident and has become well-known throughout the world.  What is the difference between the policies of superpowers: America, and those who stand with it – like France and Britain, believe or think – which we see as wrong but they see as right – that the interests of these countries or this axis, lies in creating chaos; whereas Russia, China and most other countries believe that stability and international law are in the best interest of the world and its states, big or small.

Journalist:  Mr. President, thank you very much for availing us this opportunity and we wish you continued success and progress.

President Assad:  Thank you and I also thank Phoenix Television for this interview.

Journalist:  Thank you very much.

President Assad:  You are welcome.

Pamir Highway: the road on the roof of the world (Part 1 of 2)

Straight from the Ancient Silk Road: a camel caravan on the Afghan Wakhan Corridor. Photo: Pepe Escobar / Asia Times

December 16, 2019

Pamir Highway: the road on the roof of the world (Part 1 of 2)

By Pepe Escobar, Pamir Highway, Tajikistan – Posted with permission

These are the ancient Silk Roads the Taliban will never be able to reach

Part 1 of a 2-part series

This is arguably the ultimate road trip on earth. Marco Polo did it. All the legendary Silk Road explorers did it. Traveling the Pamir Highway back to back, as a harsh winter approaches, able to appreciate it in full, in silence and solitude, offers not only a historical plunge into the intricacies of the ancient Silk Road but a glimpse of what the future may bring in the form of the New Silk Roads.

This is a trip steeped in magic ancient history. Tajiks trace their roots back to tribes of Sogdians, Bactrians and Parthians. Indo-Iranians lived in Bactria (“a country of a thousand towns”) and Sogdiana from the 6-7th centuries BC to the 8th century AD Tajiks make up 80% of the republic’s population, very proud of their Persian cultural heritage, and kin to Tajik-speaking peoples in northern Afghanistan and the region around Tashkurgan in Xinjiang.

Proto-Tajiks and beyond were always at the fringe of countless empires – from the Achaemenids, Kushan and Sogdians to the Greco-Bactrians, the Bukhara emirate and even the USSR. Today many Tajiks live in neighboring Uzbekistan – which is now experiencing an economic boom. Due to Stalin’s demented border designs, fabled Bukhara and Samarkand – quintessential Tajik cities – have become “Uzbek.”

Bactria’s territory included what are today northern Afghanistan, southern Tajikistan and southern Uzbekistan. The capital was fabled Balkh, as named by the Greeks, carrying the informal title of “mother of all cities.”

Sogdiana was named by the Greeks and Romans as Transoxiana: between the rivers, the Amu-Darya and the Syr-Darya. Sogdians practiced Zoroastrianism and lived by arable agriculture based on artificial irrigation.

 

Western Pamirs: Road upgrade by China, Pyanj River, Tajikistan to the left, Afghanistan to the right, Hindu Kush in the background. Photo: Pepe Escobar

We all remember that Alexander the Great invaded Central Asia in 329 B.C. After he conquered Kabul, he marched north and crossed the Amu-Darya. Two years later he defeated the Sogdians. Among the captured prisoners was a Bactrian nobleman, Oxyartes, and his family.

Alexander married Oxyartes’s daughter, the ravishing Roxanne, the most beautiful woman in Central Asia. Then he founded the city of Alexandria Eskhata (“The Farthest”) which is today’s Kojand, in northern Tajikistan. In Sogdiana and Bactria, he built as many as 12 Alexandrias, including Aryan Alexandria (today’s Herat, in Afghanistan) and Marghian Alexandria (today’s Mary, formerly Merv, in Turkmenistan).

By the middle of the 6th century, all these lands had been divided among the Turkic Kaghans, the Sassanian Empire and a coalition of Indian kings. What always remained unchanged was the emphasis on agriculture, town planning, crafts, trade, blacksmithing, pottery, manufacture of copper and mining.

The caravan route across the Pamirs – from Badakshan to Tashkurgan – is the stuff of legend in the West. Marco Polo described it as “the highest place in the world.” Indeed: the Pamirs were known by the Persians as Bam-i-Dunya (translated, appropriately, as “roof of the world”).

The highest peaks in the world may be in the Himalayas. But the Pamirs are something unique: the top orographic crux in Asia from which all the highest mountain ranges in the world radiate: the Hindu Kush to the northwest, the Tian Shan to the northeast, and the Karakoram and the Himalayas to the southeast.

Ultimate imperial crossroads

The Pamirs are the southern boundary of Central Asia. And let’s cut to the chase, the most fascinating region in the whole of Eurasia: as wild as it gets, crammed with breathtaking peaks, snow-capped spires, rivers ragged with crevasses, huge glaciers – a larger-than-life spectacle of white and blue with overtones of stony gray.

This is also the quintessential crossroad of empires – including the fabled Russo-British 19th century Great Game. No wonder: picture a high crossroads between Xinjiang, the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan and Chitral in Pakistan. Pamir may mean a “high rolling valley.” But the bare Eastern Pamirs might as well be on the moon – traversed less by humans than curly-horned Marco Polo sheep, ibex and yaks.

Countless trade caravans, military units, missionaries and religious pilgrims also made the Pamir Silk Road known as “road of Ideologies.” British explorers like Francis Younghusband and George Curzon hit the upper Oxus and mapped high passes into British India. Russian explorers such as Kostenko and Fedchenko tracked the Alai and the great peaks of the northern Pamir. The first Russian expedition arrived in the Pamirs in 1866, led by Fedchenko, who discovered and lent his name to an immense glacier, one of the largest in the world. Trekking toward it is impossible as winter approaches.

And then there were the legendary Silk Road explorers Sven Hedin (in 1894-5) and Aurel Stein (1915), who explored its historical heritage.

Chinese container cargo trucks negotiate the Western Pamirs. Photo: Pepe Escobar

The Pamir Highway version of the Silk Road was actually built by the Soviet Union between 1934 and 1940, predictably following ancient caravan tracks. The name of the region remains Soviet: the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO). To travel the highway, one needs a GBAO permit.

For no less than 2,000 years – from 500 B.C. to the early 16th century – camel caravans carried not only silk from East to West, but goods made of bronze, porcelain, wool and cobalt, also from West to East. There are no fewer than four different branches of the Silk Road in Tajikistan. The ancient Silk Roads were an apotheosis of connectivity: ideas, technology, art, religion, mutual cultural enrichment. The Chinese, with a keen historical eye, not by accident identified “common legacy of mankind” as the conceptual/philosophical base for the Chinese-led New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative.

Afghan village by the Pyanj River, Hindu Kush in the background. Photo: Pepe Escobar

Have China upgrade, will travel

In villages in Gorno-Badakhshan, stretched out along stunning river valleys, life for centuries has been about irrigation farming and seasonal-pasture cattle farming. As we progress toward the barren Eastern Pamirs, the story mutates into an epic: how mountain people eventually adapted to living at altitudes as high as 4,500 meters.

In the Western Pamirs, the current road upgrade was by – who else? – China. The quality is equivalent to the northern Karakoram Highway. Chinese building companies are slowly working their way towards the Eastern Pamirs – but repaving the whole highway may take years.

The Chinese are coming: upgrading the highway in the Western Pamirs. Photo: Pepe Escobar

The 3rd century BC Yamchun fortress, known as ‘The Castle of the Fire Worshippers.’ Photo: Pepe Escobar

The Pyanj river draws a sort of huge arc around the border of Badakhshan in Afghanistan. We see absolutely amazing villages perched on the hills across the river, including some nice houses and owners with an SUV instead of a donkey or a bike. Now there are quite a few bridges over the Pyanj, financed by the Aga Khan foundation, instead of previous planks jammed with stones suspended above vertiginous cliffs.

From Qalaykhumb to Khorog and then all the way to Ishkoshim, the Pyanj river establishes the Afghan border for hundreds of kilometers – traversing poplar trees and impeccably-tended fields. Then we enter the legendary Wakhan valley: a major – barren – branch of the Ancient Silk Road, with the spectacular snow-capped peaks of the Hindu Kush in the background. Farther south, a trek of only a few dozen kilometers of trekking, it’s Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan.

The Wakhan could not be more strategic – contested, over time, by Pamiris, Afghans, Kyrgyz and Chinese, peppered with qalas (fortresses) that protected and taxed the Silk Road trade caravans.

The star of the qalas is the 3rd century B.C. Yamchun fortress – a textbook medieval castle, originally 900 meters long and 400 meters wide, set in a virtually inaccessible rocky slope, protected by two river canyons, with 40 towers and a citadel. Legendary Silk Road explorer Aurel Stein, who was here in 1906, on the way to China, was gobsmacked.The fortress is locally known as the “Castle of the Fire Worshippers”.

Pre-Islamic Badakhshan was Zoroastrian, worshipping fire, the sun and spirits of ancestors and at the same time practicing a distinct Badakhshani version of Buddhism. In fact, in Vrang, we find the remains of 7th-8th century Buddhist man-made caves that could have also been a Zoroastrian site in the past. The early Tang dynasty wandering monk Xuanzang was here, in the 7th century. He described the monasteries and, tellingly, took notice of a Buddhist inscription:  “Narayana, win.”

Ishkoshim, which Marco Polo crossed in 1271 on the way to the upper Wakhan, is the only border crossing in the Pamirs into Afghanistan open to foreigners. To talk of “roads” on the Afghan side is audacious. But old Silk Road tracks remain, negotiable only with a study Russian jeep, delving into Faizabad and farther into Mazar-i-Sharif.

Here are the parts the 18-year-long, trillion-dollar, Hindu Kush-of-lies-told American war on Afghanistan never reaches. The only “America” available is Hollywood blockbusters on DVDs at 30 cents apiece.

I was very fortunate to spot the real deal: a camel caravan, straight from the ancient Silk Road, following a track on the Afghan side of the Wakhan. They were Kyrgyz nomads. There are roughly 3,000 Kyrgyz nomads in the Wakhan, who would like to resettle back in their homeland. But they are lost in a bureaucratic maze – even assuming they secure Afghan passports.

These are the ancient Silk Roads the Taliban will never be able to reach.

Next in part 2: The Pamir Highway: the heart of the Heartland

Is Trump Preparing A New Iran Nuclear Deal?

Is Trump Preparing A New Iran Nuclear Deal?

By Simon Watkins – OilPrice.com

A moment of monumental importance for US-Iran relations took place early last week when a high-level exchange of prisoners took place in Switzerland. OilPrice.com can exclusively reveal that during the exchange the US, for the first time, made it clear that it would resume negotiations with Iran on the removal of sanctions “with no preconditions.”

Iran made it equally clear that it saw the prisoner exchange as the road to re-engaging in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] nuclear deal, without the removal of sanctions by the US being required beforehand. “This is the beginning of the end of this extremely dangerous global stand-off between the US and Iran,” a senior oil and gas industry source who works closely with Iran’s Petroleum Ministry exclusively told OilPrice.com last week.

Where we are now in US-Iran relations is a product of two key factors that have occurred in just over the past six months. The first of these was the absolute absence of any support for any meaningful US retaliation against Iran for either the downing of the US ‘surveillance’ drone in June, or the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s Khurais oil field and the Abqaiq refinery in September.

In the case of the former, military retaliation was halted at the last moment, and subsequently John Bolton – the most insistent proponent of military action against Iran over the years – was fired as National Security Adviser. In the case of the latter, various high-level officials from the US State Department repeatedly tried to persuade US allies in NATO and other supposedly sympathetic states in the Middle East to take part in a joint naval task force to patrol the Strait of Hormuz, but to no avail.

This was followed by the decision from the US to effectively disengage from the rolling conflicts in Syria, even if it involved leaving its former allies in the fight against Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group], the Kurds, at the mercy of their longstanding mortal enemy, Turkey. Given the twin realization that the US was no longer willing to and/or could not meaningfully safeguard them and that Iran had everything to gain from further attacks on oil and gas targets in the region, Middle Eastern countries have been looking to row back on any hostility against Iran. Even the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Ansarullah in Yemen since 2015 have begun releasing jailed Ansarullah members in an attempt to bring some resolution to the conflict.

From the US side, there is the realization that, without the option to have an enduring [and costly in blood and money terms] military presence in multiple countries across the Middle East, it needs to have Iran on side to protect its political and energy interests there.

“Wherever the US withdraws, China increases its presence, with Russia close alongside, and the US is finding itself marginalized not just in Syria but also in Iraq and further East in Afghanistan by China and/or Russia, as these places are central to China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ project and to Russia’s attempts to isolate the US internationally,” the Iran source told OilPrice.com.

“The US is looking at being left with just Saudi, which is not the force that it once was either in political or energy terms and a country that is deeply unpopular amongst many segments of the US, including in both Houses [Senate and Representatives],” he added. “Iran, on the other hand, with Rouhani, is relatively moderate and has enormous influence across the entire Shia crescent of power [Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria] and into Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he underlined.

This ties in to the second game-changing reason that portends an end to sanctions and a resumption of the nuclear deal…

From both perspectives, then, an agreement makes sense and the prisoner exchange “marks an extremely important signal that we on the road to a lasting and workable resolution,” said the Iran source. As important as the exchange – Iran released Princeton PhD student Xiyue Wang [accused of spying], detained since 2016, and the US dropped [spying] charges against Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani, who was arrested in the US in 2018 – was the rhetoric [and absence of rhetoric in interesting places] involved.

At the time of the exchange, US President Donald Trump Tweeted: “Thank you to Iran on a very fair negotiation… See, we can make a deal together!” Behind the scenes, US officials highlighted that Trump is willing to meet with Iran “without preconditions” and added that the administration was “hopeful [that the release of Wang] is a sign that the Iranians may be willing to come to the table to discuss all these issues.” Iran, in the meantime, signaled that it is willing to engage in more prisoner swaps and, crucially, according to the Iran source: “That it does not necessarily expect all sanctions to be removed before sitting down for negotiations with the Washington team.”

Trials and tribulations of Central Asia integration

Trials and tribulations of Central Asia integration

A man leads a horse on the Suu-Samyr plateau along the ancient Great Silk Road from Bishkek to Osh, some 200 km from Bishkek. Photo: Vyacheslav Oseledko / AFP

The pros and cons of being the Heartland in the 21st century

By PEPE ESCOBAR, NUR-SULTAN, KAZAKHSTAN

Trials and tribulations of Central Asia integration

Crossing Tajikistan from west to northeast – Dushanbe to the Tajik-Kyrgyz border – and then Kyrgyzstan from south to north all the way to Bishkek via Osh, is one of the most extraordinary road trips on earth. Not only this is prime Ancient Silk Road territory but now is being propelled as a significant stretch of the 21st century New Silk Roads.

In addition to its cultural, historical and anthropological pull, this road trip also lays bare some of the key issues related to the development of Central Asia. It was particularly enlightening to hit the road as previously, at the 5th Astana Club meeting in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, I had had the pleasure of moderating a panel titled Central Asia at the Intersection of Global Interests: pros and cons of being Heartland.

The Heartland in the 21st century could not but be a major draw. Any serious analyst knows that Central Asia is the privileged corridor for both Europe and Asia at the heart of the New Silk Roads, as the Chinese-led BRI converges with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Banking experts such as Jacob Frenkel, chairman of JP Morgan Chase International, insist that the path towards inclusive growth in Central Asia entails access for financial services and financial tech; Nur-Sultan, incidentally, happens to be the only financial center within a 3,000-mile radius. Only a few years ago it was basically a potato field.

So it will be up to Kazakhs to capitalize on the financial ramifications of their independent, multi-vector foreign policy. After all, aware that his young nation was a “child of complicated history,” First President Nursultan Nazabayev from the beginning, in the early 1990s, wanted to prevent a Balkans scenario in Central Asia – as proposed as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy by Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard. Recently Kazakhstan mediated quite successfully between Turkey and Russia. And then there’s the Kazakh hosting of the Astana process, which quickly evolved as the privileged road map for the pacification of Syria.

A link or a bridge?

Frederick Starr, chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute in Washington, made a crucial point in the sidelines of our debate: the UN recently passed a unanimous resolution recognizing Central Asia as a world region. And yet, there is no structure for cooperation inside Central Asia. Tricky national border issues between the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya rivers may have been solved. There are very few pending questions between, for instance, the Uzbeks and the Kyrgyz. Most “Stans” are SCO members, some are EAEU members and all want to profit from BRI.

But as I later saw for myself on the road as I crossed Tajikistan and then Kyrgyzstan, tariff barriers still apply. Industrial cooperation is developing very slowly. Corruption is rife. Distrust against “foreigners” is inbred. And on top of it, the fallout of the US-China trade war affects mostly developing nations – such as the Central Asians. A solution, Starr argues, would be to boost the work of an established commission, and aim towards setting up a single market by 2025.

At the Nur-Sultan debate, my friend Bruno Macaes, former Minister for Europe in Portugal and author of the excellent The Dawn of Eurasia, argued that the thrust for the New Silk Roads remains sea transportation, and investment in ports. As Central Asia is landlocked, the emphasis should be on soft infrastructure. Kazakhstan is uniquely positioned to understand differences between trading bocks. Macaes argues that Nur-Sultan should aim to replicate the role of Singapore as a bridge.

Peter Burian, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, chose to stress the positives: how Central Asia has managed to survive its new Heartland incarnation without conflict, and how it’s engaged in institutional building from scratch. The Baltics should be taken as an example. Burian insists the EU does not want to impose ready-made concepts, and would rather work as a link, not as a bridge. More EU economic presence in Central Asia means, in practice, an investment commitment of $1.2 billion in seven years, which may not amount to much but targets very specific, practical-minded projects.

Evgeny Vinokurov, chief economist of the Eurasian Fund for Stabilization and Development, touched on a real success story: the 15 day-only transportation/connectivity rail between China’s central provinces, Central Asia and the EU – now running at 400,000 cargo containers a year, and rising, and used by anyone from BMW to all manner of Chinese manufacturers. Over 10 million tons of merchandise a year is already moving West while six million tons are moving East. Vinokurov is adamant that the next step for Central Asia is to build industrial parks.

Svante Cornell, from the Institute for Security and Development Policy, emphasized a voluntary process, possibly with six nations (Afghanistan also included), and well-coordinated in practice (way beyond mere political integration). Models should be result-oriented ASEAN and Mercosur (presumably before Bolsonaro’s disruptive practices). Key issues involve facilitating smoother border crossings and for Central Asia to position itself as not just a corridor.

Essentially, Central Asia should think eastwards – in an SCO/ASEAN symbiosis, keeping in mind the role Singapore developed for itself as a global hub.

What about tech transfer?

As I saw for myself days later, when for instance, visiting the University of Central Asia in Khorog, in the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan, set up by the Aga Khan foundation, there is a serious drive across Central Asia to invest in universities and techno centers. In terms of Chinese investment, for instance, the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is financing hydropower in Kyrgyzstan. The EU is engaged in what it defines as a “trilateral project” – supporting education for Afghan women and universities in both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

This may all be discussed and deepened in an upcoming, first-time-ever summit of Central Asian presidents. Not bad as a first step.

Arguably the most intriguing intervention in the debate in Nur-Sultan was by former Kyrgyz Prime Minister Djoomart Otorbaev. He remarked that the GDP of four “Stans,” excluding Kazakhstan, is still smaller than Singapore’s. He insisted the road map ahead is to unite – mostly geoeconomically. He emphasized that both Russia and China “are officially complementary” and that’s “great for us.” Now it’s time to invest in human capital and thus generate more demand.

But once again, the inescapable factor is always China. Otorbaev, referring to BRI, insisted, “you must offer to us the highest technological solutions.” I asked him point-blank whether he could name a project with inbuilt, top technological transfer to Kyrgyzstan. He answered, “I didn’t see any added value so far.” Beijing better go back to the drawing board – seriously.

Iran Overcomes the US-led Plot to Destabilize the Country

Iran riots

Iran riots

 

Iran has overcome the US plot to destabilize the country using ‘Peaceful Protests’ as a pretext, these peaceful protests have become a synonym to riots in our region, what was known in the early days as 5th column useful cannon fodders also known now as the 4th generation wars, it only targets countries independent of the US hegemony, and it becomes immediately bloody and violent.

What makes it very obvious in the latest developments in Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran at the same time is the timing of it upon two major steps by the Iraqi government to defy the US policies by

  • 1) Opening the Bu Kamal border crossing with Syria which would connect Iran to the Mediterranean through Iraq and Syria, and also connect to Lebanon which would help the economies of all these countries, this would also stretch the Chinese reach to the Mediterranean as well. Remarkably, the oldest civilizations in the world blocked by the newest countries and satellite regimes: the USA, Saudi, and Israel!
  • 2) The Iraqi Prime Minister visited China and signed a number of economic contracts worth over 200 billion US dollars. Suddenly, the US and Saudi moved their agents on the ground to protest against the same corruption that was sponsored by the US and Saudi in Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran.

This also comes as the Syrian Arab Army started its military operation on a small scale to clean the last al-Qaeda stronghold in Idlib province and liberate 3 million Syrians from the control of this human garbage.

The Iranian protests immediately turned violent leaving dozens killed and massive losses in public and private properties destroyed in a number of cities ignited by a government decision to help the poor segments of the society by increasing the fuel price and using the increase in direct payments to these segments, but the plot was already in place.

The following report by Melhem Rayya, Iran’s office manager for the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news channel gives a balanced outlook on the events and the Iranian government’s response to the riots:

The video is also available on BitChute: https://www.bitchute.com/video/hNdIAISN1HxH/

Transcript of the English translation of the above report:

Let everyone know, friends and enemies that we have forced our enemies to retreat in the military war and in the political and security wars, we have forced enemies to retreat in all areas, and, with God’s blessing, we will make them retreat unequivocally in the arena of economic warfare as well.

It was not a popular act but a wish, this is how the Iranian leader points to the riots that accompanied the protests over the price of gasoline in Iran days ago.

A position that bears responsibility for what happened to external hands is clearly reflected in President Rouhani’s words, he declared victory over what some here call sedition in Iranian society and seeks to destabilize Iran.

The numbers of rioters are small and they are organized, armed and programmed on plans prepared by retard states in the region, the Zionist entity (Israel), and America. The people have triumphed over enemy schemes aimed at striking the country’s security.

Calm returns to areas and cities where protests and riots have occurred started after the supreme leader stressed the importance of the decision to raise the price of gasoline economically, and when the president clarified that this decision was the only possible option to support the middle and poor segments, and after the distribution of the proceeds of the increase in gasoline to citizens.

Iran riots a US plot to destabilize the country

Attacks on public and private property also provoked opposition in many areas of Iran, denouncing the riots and supporting the authorities.

The rioters are few who were fooled and are not ordinary citizens because the objection has its legal methods until the voice arrives, but what happened is planned in advance.

Their riots were not right, the real objection must be legal and everyone must cooperate to build the nation.

Iranian newspapers pointed to the role of citizens in putting out the flames of sedition that the US administration tried to ignite, taking advantage of the difficult economic conditions experienced by the citizen here because of the US sanctions imposed on him, which officials here assert that they are able to overcome successfully despite the difficulties and obstacles.

From protests against the hike on gasoline price turned into riots turned into plans to target security in multiple areas, thus, the crisis in Iran rolled within days in the midst of a volatile regional atmosphere that many see as an American attempt to pressure Iran after the failure of the options of war and sanctions.

End of the transcript.

The Iranian government has revealed today it foiled a sabotage attempt against the largest gas facility in the country. The plot is ongoing and targeting the countries that continue to resist the US hegemonic policies in our region.

Within the same context, we see the insisting of the protests in both Lebanon and Iraq to disturb and harm the economic cycle in their countries, and the Israeli – Turkish – US alliance in increasing the military and terror efforts against Syria trying to disperse the Syrian Arab Army’s efforts among large fronts in the 3 corners of the country.

Israel bombing Syria

Israel Bombs Damascus Vicinity Killing 2 Civilians Injuring Others

At 1:20 am Wednesday 20 November 2019 Damascus local time Israeli warplanes targeted the vicinity of Damascus from both over the occupied Golan and from over Lebanese town of Marj Oyoun. Desperate war criminal and … Continue readingIsrael Bombs Damascus Vicinity Killing 2 Civilians Injuring Others

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The Chinese Silk Road to Lebanon Blocked by US Allies

The Chinese Silk Road to Lebanon Blocked by US Allies

By Mona Issa

Beirut – That the political class in Lebanon profits off of the sectarian system is old news. Sectarianism poses as a blockade against class consciousness and solidarity, which in turn wades the necessary conditions for popular struggle against the power structure.

Lebanon was one of the earliest experiments for sectarianism by France and other imperial powers. While it suffers from corruption and sectarianism, it also suffers from accumulated financial burden. The economic basis of the country is founded on the fiscal terms of the old aristocrats, who are what we call the “international financial class” today. This class, according to the Economist, monopolizes 18 out of 20 of all major banks in Lebanon. However, the Lebanese banking sector is hardly ever Lebanese. Engineered and driven by IMF, neoliberal fiscal policy, and their Lebanese billionaire minister-proxies, the West bloc in the Lebanese parliament barely ever passed up an opportunity to benefit off of the sectarian nature of their workplace. What is good for the banks, is good for them – the imperialism business is a thriving one.

The international financial class – the Lebanese West bloc – which is inherently capitalist, then inherently imperialist, functions on finance and militarism, entailing that it functions on the oppression and abuse of human capital and conflict. In a post-colonial state like Lebanon, conflict just might be on its way with the right amount of mass manipulation, play on identity politics, and painful economic conditions. The latest painful imposition is the high dollarization rate, which struck as a shock to the already-collapsing economy in Lebanon. This ultimately weakens the country much further than it already is, instills financial fragility and draconian living expenses.

However, another narrative threatens US interests on the ground today. The escalating threat of Chinese influence to replace US power in the region makes America’s friends anxious. The recent economic war on China is based on this anxiety, that they could soon be proposing investments in countries plagued by colonial theft. For this reason, there has been increasing efforts to contain Chinese influence in the Middle East by the United States; the only thing blocking Lebanon from making trade with the East is the West bloc, which is one of the many ways the Lebanese parliament engages in self-defeating behavior. China, through the reconstruction initiatives in Syria, has offered substantial infrastructural deals to the Lebanese government. This year, they’ve offered not only to build a conservatory in Dbayeh, but also a railway which connects Beirut to Tripoli, Tripoli to Aleppo, then Aleppo to Damascus.  Historically speaking, any sort of connectivity in the Arab world let alone the country stands as a threat to sectarian profit. Such projects, furthermore, would jeopardize the WB’s relationship with Washington.

The same West bloc, namely Jumblatt, Hariri, Geagea – are making said profit from the protests. The consecutive resignation of Geagea and Hariri opens up the sectarian vein among the Lebanese who already are geopolitically divided, and fuels protesters to stay in the streets, calling for complete overthrow. They have been using their key positions to serve their superiors, while the people bathe in the illusion that Geagea and Hariri’s resignations were an overthrow.

The threat of civil conflict through sectarian strife and complete overthrow all push Hezbollah into a balancing act they could do without – they become torn between keeping the situation under control and succumbing to the pressures of the protesters and the international community. The protests have attained most of their legitimacy from the working class who today face an economic war as a result from suffocating neoliberal foreign policy instantiated by Hariri the father, whose legacy lives on into a nation sunken by billions of dollars in debt. However, it would only be naive and shortsighted to see that the economic crisis is merely a direct result of corruption. The plight of the working class comes from the direct and eventual effects of US foreign and economic policy. With the lethal combination of corruption and US ambition, the parliamentary West-bloc have managed to “blend in” with the protests, express solidarity with popular grievance, while serve as proxies for the US to drive Hezbollah into resignation and overthrow.

In parallel, Chinese influence has been kept at bay simultaneously keeping socialist ideological influence – such as those of Iran and Syria – marginalized and within limited power.

The world is witnessing a new political horizon; a post-post-Cold War, where US hegemony is challenged by other powers [not to mention also “illegitimate”, “terrorist” groups] and is very desperate.

A blue dot barely visible from New Silk Roads

A blue dot barely visible from New Silk Roads

NOVEMBER 07, 2019

by Pepe Escobar : posted with permission

US-Australia-Japan alternative to Belt and Road helps explain why the US sent a junior delegation to Thailand and why India opted out of RCEP

China’s President Xi Jinping waves during the opening ceremony of the China International Import Expo in Shanghai on November 5. Photo: AFP/Hector Retamal

Chinese President Xi Jinping six years ago launched New Silk Roads, now better known as the Belt and Road Initiative, the largest, most ambitious, pan-Eurasian infrastructure project of the 21st century.

Under the Trump administration, Belt and Road has been utterly demonized 24/7: a toxic cocktail of fear and doubt, with Beijing blamed for everything from plunging poor nations into a “debt trap” to evil designs of world domination.

Now finally comes what might be described as the institutional American response to Belt and Road: the Blue Dot Network.

Blue Dot is described, officially, as promoting global, multi-stakeholder “sustainable infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world.”

It is a joint project of the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation, in partnership with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

Now compare it with what just happened this same week at the inauguration of the China International Import Expo in Shanghai.

As Xi stressed: “To date, China has signed 197 documents on Belt and Road cooperation with 137 countries and 30 international organizations.”

This is what Blue Dot is up against – especially across the Global South. Well, not really. Global South diplomats, informally contacted, are not exactly impressed. They might see Blue Dot as an aspiring competitor to BRI, but one that’s moved by private finance – mostly, in theory, American.

They scoff at the prospect that Blue Dot will include some sort of ratings mechanism that will be positioned to vet and downgrade Belt and Road projects. Washington will spin it as a “certification” process setting “international standards” – implying Belt and Road is sub-standard. Whether Global South nations will pay attention to these new ratings is an open question.

The Japanese example

Blue Dot should also be understood in direct comparison with what just happened at the summit-fest in Thailand centered on the meetings of East Asia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The advent of Blue Dot explains why the US sent only a junior delegation to Thailand, and also, to a great extent, why India missed the RCEP train as it left the pan-Asian station.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is still between a rock – Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy – and a hard place – Eurasia integration. They are mutually incompatible.

Blue Dot is a de facto business extension of Indo-Pacific, which congregates the US, Japan, Australia – and India: the Quad members. It’s a mirror image of the – defunct – Obama administration Trans-Pacific Partnership in relation to the – also defunct – “pivot to Asia.”

It’s unclear whether New Delhi will join Blue Dot. It has rejected Belt and Road, but not, finally and irrevocably, RCEP. ASEAN has tried to put on a brave face and insist differences will be smoothed out and all 16 RCEP members will sign a deal in Vietnam in 2020.

Yet the bottom line remains: Washington will continue to manipulate India by all means deemed necessary to torpedo – at least in the South Asian theater – the potential of Belt and Road as well as larger Eurasia integration.

And still, after all these years of non-stop demonization, the best thing Washington could come up with was to steal Belt and Road’s idea and dress it up in private bank financing.

Now compare it, for instance, with the work of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia. They privilege the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, an original Indonesian idea, instead of the American version. The institute’s president, Hidetoshi Nishimura, describes it as “a guideline for dialogue partners” and stresses that “Japan’s own vision of the Indo-Pacific fits very well with that of ASEAN.”

As much as Nishimura notes how “it is well known that Japan has been the key donor and a real partner in the economic development of Southeast Asia throughout the past five decades,” he also extols RCEP as “the symbol of free trade.” Both China and Japan are firmly behind RCEP. And Beijing is also firmly stressing the direct connection between RCEP and Belt and Road projects.

In the end, Blue Dot may be no more than a PR exercise, too little, too late. It won’t stop Belt and Road expansion. It won’t prevent China-Japan investment partnerships. It won’t stop awareness all across the Global South about the weaponization of the US dollar for geopolitical purposes.

And it won’t bury prevailing skepticism about the development project skills of a hyperpower engaged on a mission to steal other nation’s oil reserves as part of an illegal Syrian occupation.

Rebuilding Syria – without Syria’s oil

November 01, 2019

Rebuilding Syria – without Syria’s oil

By Pepe Escobar – Posted with permission

Compare US pillaging with Russia-Iran-Turkey’s active involvement in a political solution to normalize Syria

What happened in Geneva this Wednesday, in terms of finally bringing peace to Syria, could not be more significant: the first session of the Syrian Constitutional Committee.

The Syrian Constitutional Committee sprang out of a resolution passed in January 2018 in Sochi, Russia, by a body called the Syrian National Dialogue Congress.

The 150-strong committee breaks down as 50 members of the Syrian opposition, 50 representing the government in Damascus and 50 representatives of civil society. Each group named 15 experts for the meetings in Geneva, held behind closed doors.

This development is a direct consequence of the laborious Astana process – articulated by Russia, Iran and Turkey. Essential initial input came from former UN Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. Now UN Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen is working as a sort of mediator.

The committee started its deliberations in Geneva in early 2019.

Crucially, there are no senior members of the administration in Damascus nor from the opposition – apart from Ahmed Farouk Arnus, who is a low-ranking diplomat with the Syrian Foreign Ministry.

Among the opposition, predictably, there are no former leaders of weaponized factions. And no “moderate rebels.” The delegates include several former and current parliament members, university rectors and journalists.

After this first round, significantly, the committee’s co-chair, Ahmad Kuzbari, said: “We hope that our next meeting could take place in our native land, in our beloved Damascus, the oldest continuously inhabited capital in history.”

Even the opposition, which is part of the committee, hopes that a political deal will be clinched next year. According to co-chair Hadi al-Bahra: “I hope that the 75th anniversary of the United Nations next year will be an opportunity to celebrate another achievement by the universal organization, namely the success of efforts under the auspices of a special envoy for political process, who will bring peace and justice to all Syrians.”

Join the patrol

The committee’s work in Geneva proceeds in parallel to ever-changing facts on the ground. These will certainly force more face-to-face negotiations between Presidents Putin and Erdogan, as Erdogan himself confirmed: “A conversation with Putin can take place any time. Everything depends on the course of events.”

“Events” seem not to be that incandescent, so far, even as Erdogan, predictably, releases the whiff of a threat in the air: “We reserve the right to resume military operation in Syria if terrorists approach at the distance of 30km to Turkey’s borders or continue attacks from any other Syrian area.”

Erdogan also said the de facto safe zone along the Turkish-Syrian border could be “expanded,” something that he would have to clear in minute detail with Moscow.

Those threats have already manifested on the ground. On Wednesday, Turkey and allied Islamist factions launched an attack against Tal Tamr, a historic Assyrian Christian enclave 50km deep inside Syrian territory – far beyond the scope of the 10km patrol zone or the 30km “safe” zone.

Poorly-armed Syrian troops pulled out under fierce attack, and with no apparent Russian cover. The Syrian military on the same day issued a public statement calling on the Syrian Democratic Forces to reintegrate under its command. The SDF has said a compromise must be reached first over semi-autonomy for the northeastern region. Thousands of residents in the meantime fled farther south to the more protected city of Hasakeh.

Two facts are absolutely crucial. The Syrian Kurds have completed their pull out ahead of schedule, as confirmed by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. And, this Friday, Russia and Turkey start their joint military patrols to the depth of 7km away from the border, part of the de facto safe zone in northeast Syria.

The devil in the immense details is how Ankara is going to manage the territories that it now actually controls, and to which it plans to relocate as many as 2 million Syrian refugees.

Your oil? Mine

Then there’s the nagging issue that simply won’t go away: the American drive to “secure the oil” (Trump) and “protect” Syrian oilfields (the Pentagon), for all practical purposes from Syria.

In Geneva, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov – alongside Iran’s Javad Zarif and Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu – could not have been more scathing. Lavrov said Washington’s plan is “arrogant,” and violates international law. The very American presence on Syrian soil is “illegal,” he said.

All across the Global South, especially among countries in the Non-Aligned Movement, this is being interpreted, stripped to the bone, for what it is: the United States government illegally taking possession of natural resources of a third country via a military occupation.

And the Pentagon is warning that anyone attempting to contest it will be shot on sight. It remains to be seen whether the US Deep State would be willing to engage in a hot war with Russia over a few Syrian oilfields.

Under international law, the whole “securing the oil” scam is a euphemism for pillaging, pure and simple. Every single takfiri or jihadi outfit operating across the “Greater Middle East” will converge, perversely, to the same conclusion: US “efforts” across the lands of Islam are all about the oil.

Now compare that with Russia-Iran-Turkey’s active involvement in a political solution and normalization of Syria – not to mention, behind the scenes, China, which quietly donates rice and aims for widespread investment in a pacified Syria positioned as a key Eastern Mediterranean node of the New Silk Roads.

 

The Middle East’s New Post-Regime Change Future

Image result for The Middle East’s New Post-Regime Change Future

Matthew Ehret
November 1, 2019

With the transformation of the rules of the “Great Game” in the Middle East emerging out of President Trump’s recent Syrian surprise pullout and Putin’s brilliant manoeuvres since 2015, a sweeping set of development/reconstruction programs led by China now have a chance to become hegemonic across the formerly hopeless, terrorist-infested region.

The fact that the Arab states of the Middle East were targeted for destruction by western geopoliticians over the last 40 years is not un-connected to the region’s historic role as “cross-roads of civilizations” which were once the bridge between East and West along the ancient Silk Road (c. 250 BC). Today’s New Silk Road has brought 150 countries into a multipolar model of cooperation and civilization-building which necessitates a stabilized Middle East in order to function.

When asking “how could a reconstruction of the Middle East be possible after so many years of hell” I was pleasantly surprised to discover that both great projects once derailed have been given new life with the new prospects for peace and also new projects never before dreamed possible have been created as part of the New Silk Road (Aka: One Belt One Road).

Just to get a sense of this incredible potential that is keeping western oligarchs up at night, I want to quickly review just a few of the greatest China-led reconstruction projects which are now taking hold in four of the most decimated areas of the Middle East: Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.

Iraq Joins the New Silk Road

After decades of foreign manipulation, the Iraqi government was able to declare victory over Da’esh in 2017- just 3 years after the western-sponsored insurgents had gained control of one third of the territory. This new stability created by Russia’s intervention into Syria, unleashed a vast potential for China-led reconstruction to not only re-build the war-torn nation, but launch it into the 21st century.

In September 2019, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdu-Mahdi announced Iraq’s participation in the New Silk Road standing alongside Xi Jinping in Beijing. Mahdi said: “Iraq has gone through war and civil strife and is grateful to China for its valuable support… Iraq is willing to work in the ‘One Belt One Road’ framework”.  President Xi then said: “China would like, from a new starting point together with Iraq, to push for the China-Iraq Strategic Partnership”.

Part of this Strategic Partnership involves an Oil for Reconstruction program which will see Chinese firms exchange infrastructure-building for oil (100 000 barrels/day to be exact). Already Iraq is China’s 2nd largest supplier of overseas oil while China has become Iraq’s #1 trade partner. Abdul Hussein al-Hanin (Advisor to the Prime Minister) explained that rather than giving money for Iraqi oil, China would build its projects defined by 3 priorities which al-Hanin said “first is building and modernizing the highways and internal roads with their sewage systems. Second is the construction of schools, hospitals and residential and industrial cities, and third is the construction of railways, ports, airports and other projects”. Atop the list of “other projects” include water treatment systems and power plants.

While Iraq’s economy is dependant on oil (making up 65% of its GDP, 100% of its export revenue), China’s New Silk Road focuses upon diversifying Iraq into a more complex full spectrum economy which is vital to enhance its sovereignty.

While great strides have been made towards a new system, anti-government protests threaten to disrupt this program having left 100 dead and thousands wounded since they began in July 2018.

A New Hope for Syria

The wounds Syria has inflicted since the crisis erupted in 2011 will take generations to heal, with over half a million deaths, a loss of 5.6 million civilians who have fled the country and approximately 6.1 million displaced within Syria itself. China has made clear its intentions to bring the BRI to Syria as fast as possible since 2017 with Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang saying:

“Too many people in the Middle East are suffering at the brutal hands of terrorists. We support regional countries in forming synergy, consolidating the momentum of anti-terrorism and striving to restore regional stability and order. We support countries in the region in exploring a development path suited to their national conditions and are ready to share governance experience and jointly build the Belt and Road and promote peace and stability through common development.”

After committing $23 billion in aid in 2018, BRI projects in Syria have taken many forms which can now begin as a viable peace process is finally underway, including East-West rail and road connections between Asia and Europe passing through Iran, to Iraq and into Syria where goods can be sent to the Basra Port in Iraq, the Syrian ports of Latakia and Tartus on the Mediterranean as well as the incredibly important Port of Tripoli in Lebanon called a “pearl on the New Silk Road” by the Chinese.

Discussion of a North South route connecting transport routs through Syria to Lebanon, Israel and Egypt into Africa are now underway and the timing of the chaotic anti-government protests in Lebanon makes one wonder if western meddling is behind it.

Many of the beautiful possibilities for Syrian reconstruction were laid out in great detail in a 2016 Schiller Institute video entitled Project Phoenix which has circulated widely across the Arab world.

Assad’s Five Seas Strategy Revived

Little known in the western world, President Bashar al-Assad had already advanced this vision as early as 2004 when he first announced his “Five Seas Strategy”. In an August 1, 2009 interview, President Assad described his program beautifully:

“Once the economic space between Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran becomes integrated, we would link the Mediterranean, Caspian, Black Sea, and the [Persian] Gulf . . . we aren’t just important in the Middle East. . . Once we link these four seas, we become the unavoidable intersection of the whole world in investment, transport, and more.”

Going beyond mere words, President Assad had led delegations signing agreements with Turkey, Romania, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon to begin Five Seas projects. This was done at a moment that President Qadaffi was well underway building the Great Manmade River as the largest water project in history alongside a coalition of nations of Sudan and Egypt.

In a powerful report Extending the New Silk Road to West Asia and Africa, BRI expert Hussein Askary wrote:

“Through the BRI, China is offering the rest of the world its know-how, experience and technology, backed by a $3 trillion financial arsenal. This is a great opportunity for West Asia and Africa to realize the dreams of the post-World War II independence era, dreams that have unfortunately been sabotaged for decades. The dramatic deficit in infrastructure both nationally and inter-regionally in West Asia and Africa can, ironically, be considered in this new light as a great opportunity.”

It is now becoming obvious, that the Syrian project that was derailed in 2011 can now get back on track.

Yemen as Keystone of the Maritime Silk Road

The four year Saudi war on Yemen has been a humanitarian disaster of our times. However in spite of insurmountable odds, the Yemenis have managed to not only defend themselves but have pulled off one of the most brilliant military flanking maneuvers in history crippling the Saudi economy on September 29th. This victory has both forced the Saudis to eat yet-another mouthful of humble pie and created a breathing space for a serious discussion for Yemen’s reconstruction through participation in the New Silk Road. Sitting upon the entry of the Gulf of Aden with the Red Sea, Yemen is today as it was 2000 years ago: a vital node in both Maritime Silk Road and the land-based Silk Road connecting Asia with Africa and Europe.

Already several Yemeni organizations have been created endorsing this vision led by the Yemeni Advisory Office for Coordination with the BRICS, Yemeni Youth BRICS Cabinet and the New Silk Road Party which has gained the support of leading government officials since their founding by Yemeni poet/statesman Fouad al-Ghaffari in 2016. Courageous efforts such as these have resulted in the government’s signing an MOU to join the BRI in June 2019.

A word on Turkey and Afghanistan

The Middle Corridor linking Turkey to Georgia and Azerbaijan via rail and to China via Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan was hailed by Erdogan to “be at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative.” In July 2019, Erdogan said the BRI “has emerged as the greatest development project of the 21st century”. After citing the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge over the Bosporus, Eurasian tunnel and Marmaray system across the Dardanelles and its vast high speed rail, Erdogan continued by saying: “Turkey shares China’s vision when it comes to serving world peace, preserving global security, stability, promoting multilateralism… the world seeks a new multipolar balance today”. It is no secret that Turkey has come to the realization that its destiny relies on China, whose trade rose from $230 million in 1990 to a staggering $28 billion in 2017!

President Trump’s efforts to bring the Taliban to the discussion table with the Afghan government of Ahmadzai have resulted in a renewed potential for China’s desire to extend the $57 billion China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC) into Kabul. While this diplomatic opportunity is very fragile, it is the closest the region has yet come to a viable resolution to the post 2001 insanity (including the replacement of its opium-based economy towards a viable full spectrum nation).

It goes without saying that the entire Arab world is looking at a new future of hope and development through the combined efforts of Russia and China. The USA, under Trump’s efforts to undo the decades of Gordian Knots in the Middle East have resulted in the most absurd campaign from republican and democratic tools in Washington to impeach the president. Obviously, a US-Russia-China alliance would be a wonderful blessing for the world, but for this to occur, the matter of the deep state infestation of America must first be dealt with.

Kurds face stark options after US pullback

Forget an independent Kurdistan: They may have to do a deal with Damascus on sharing their area with Sunni Arab refugees

October 14, 2019

By Pepe Escobar : Posted with Permission

Kurds face stark options after US pullback

Forget an independent Kurdistan: They may have to do a deal with Damascus on sharing their area with Sunni Arab refugees

In the annals of bombastic Trump tweets, this one is simply astonishing: here we have a President of the United States, on the record, unmasking the whole $8-trillion intervention in the Middle East as an endless war based on a “false premise.” No wonder the Pentagon is not amused.
Trump’s tweet bisects the surreal geopolitical spectacle of Turkey attacking a 120-kilometer-long stretch of Syrian territory east of the Euphrates to essentially expel Syrian Kurds. Even after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cleared with Trump the terms of the Orwellian-named “Operation Peace Spring,” Ankara may now face the risk of US economic sanctions.

The predominant Western narrative credits the Syrian Democratic Forces, mostly Kurdish, for fighting and defeating Islamic State, also known as Daesh. The SDF is essentially a collection of mercenaries working for the Pentagon against Damascus. But many Syrian citizens argue that ISIS was in fact defeated by the Syrian Arab Army, Russian aerial and technical expertise plus advisers and special forces from Iran and Hezbollah.

As much as Ankara may regard the YPG Kurds – the “People’s protection units” – and the PKK as mere “terrorists” (in the PKK’s case aligned with Washington), Operation Peace Spring has in principle nothing to do with a massacre of Kurds.

Facts on the ground will reveal whether ethnic cleansing is inbuilt in the Turkish offensive. A century ago few Kurds lived in these parts, which were populated mostly by Arabs, Armenians and Assyrians. So this won’t qualify as ethnic cleansing on ancestral lands. But if the town of Afrin is anything to go by the consequences could be severe.

Into this heady mix, enter a possible, uneasy pacifier: Russia. Moscow previously encouraged the Syrian Kurds to talk to Damascus to prevent a Turkish campaign – to no avail. But Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov never gives up. He has now said: “Moscow will ask for the start of talks between Damascus and Ankara.” Diplomatic ties between Syria and Turkey have been severed for seven years now.

With Peace Spring rolling virtually unopposed, Kurdish Gen. Mazloum Kobani Abdi did raise the stakes, telling the Americans he will have to make a deal with Moscow for a no-fly zone to protect Kurdish towns and villages against the Turkish Armed Forces. Russian diplomats, off the record, say this is not going to happen. For Moscow, Peace Spring is regarded as “Turkey’s right to ensure its security,” in the words of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. As long as it does not turn into a humanitarian disaster.

No independent Kurdistan

From Washington’s perspective, everything happening in the volatile Iran-Iraq-Syria-Turkey spectrum is subject to two imperatives: 1) geopolitically, breaking what is regionally regarded as the axis of resistance: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah; and 2) geostrategically, breaking the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative from being incorporated in both Iraq and Syria, not to mention Turkey.

When Erdogan remarked that the trilateral Ankara summit last month was “productive,” he was essentially saying that the Kurdish question was settled by an agreement among Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Diplomats confirmed that the Syrian Constitutional Committee will work hard towards implementing a federation – implying that the Kurds will have to go back to the Damascus fold. Tehran may even play a role to smooth things over, as Iranian Kurds have also become very active in the YPG command.

The bottom line: there will be no independent Kurdistan – as detailed in a map previously published by the Anadolu news agency.

From Ankara’s point of view, the objective of Operation Peace Spring follows what Erdogan had already announced to the Turkish Parliament – that is, organizing the repatriation of no fewer than two million Syrian refugees to a collection of villages and towns spread over a 30km-wide security zone supervised by the Turkish army.

Yet there has been no word about what happens to an extra, alleged 1.6 million refugees also in Turkey.

Kurdish threats to release control of 50 jails holding at least 11,000 ISIS/Daesh jihadis are just that. The same applies to the al-Hol detention camp, holding a staggering 80,000 ISIS family members. If let loose, these jihadis would go after the Kurds in a flash.

Veteran war correspondent and risk analyst Elijah Magnier provides an excellent summary of the Kurds’ wishful thinking, compared with the priorities of Damascus, Tehran and Moscow:

The Kurds have asked Damascus, in the presence of Russian and Iranian negotiators, to allow them to retain control over the very rich oil and gas fields they occupy in a bit less than a quarter of Syrian territory. Furthermore, the Kurds have asked that they be given full control of the enclave on the borders with Turkey without any Syrian Army presence or activity. Damascus doesn’t want to act as border control guards and would like to regain control of all Syrian territory. The Syrian government wants to end the accommodations the Kurds are offering to the US and Israel, similar to what happened with the Kurds of Iraq.

The options for the YPG Kurds are stark. They are slowly realizing they were used by the Pentagon as mercenaries. Either they become a part of the Syrian federation, giving up some autonomy and their hyper-nationalist dreams, or they will have to share the region they live in with at least two million Sunni Arab refugees relocated under Turkish Army protection.

The end of the dream is nigh. On Sunday, Moscow brokered a deal according to which the key, Kurdish-dominated border towns of Manbij and Kobane go back under the control of Damascus. So Turkish forces will have to back off, otherwise, they will be directly facing the Syrian Arab Army. The game-changing deal should be interpreted as the first step towards the whole of northeast Syria eventually reverting to state control.

The geopolitical bottom line does expose a serious rift within the Ankara agreement. Tehran and Moscow – not to mention Damascus – will not accept Turkish occupation of nearly a quarter of sovereign, energy-rich Syrian territory, replacing what was a de facto American occupation. Diplomats confirm Putin has repeatedly emphasized to Erdogan the imperative of Syrian territorial integrity. SANA’s Syrian news agency slammed Peace Spring as “an act of aggression.”

Which brings us to Idlib. Idlib is a poor, rural province crammed with ultra-hardcore Salafi jihadis – most linked in myriad levels with successive incarnations of Jabhat al-Nusra, or al-Qaeda in Syria. Eventually, Damascus, backed by Russian airpower, will clear what is in effect the Idlib cauldron, generating an extra wave of refugees. As much as he’s investing in his Syrian Kurdistan safe zone, what Erdogan is trying to prevent is an extra exodus of potentially 3.5 million mostly hardcore Sunnis to Turkey.

Turkish historian Cam Erimtan told me, as he argues in this essay, that it’s all about the clash between the post-Marxist “libertarian municipalism” of the Turkish-Syrian PKK/PYD/YPG/YPJ axis and the brand of Islam defended by Erdogan’s AKP party: “The heady fusion of Islamism and Turkish nationalism that has become the AKP’s hallmark and common currency in the New Turkey, results in the fact that as a social group the Kurds in Syria have now been universally identified as the enemies of Islam.” Thus, Erimtan adds, “the ‘Kurds’ have now taken the place of ‘Assad’ as providing a godless enemy that needs to be defeated next door.”

Geopolitically, the crucial point remains that Erdogan cannot afford to alienate Moscow for a series of strategic and economic reasons, ranging from the Turk Stream gas pipeline to Ankara’s interest in being an active node of the Belt & Road as well as the Eurasia Economic Union and becoming a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, all geared towards Eurasian integration.

‘Win-win’

And as Syria boils, Iraq simmers down.

Iraqi Kurdistan lives a world apart, and was not touched by the Iraqi protests, which were motivated by genuine grievances against the swamp of corrupt-to-the-core Baghdad politics. Subsequent hijacking for a specific geopolitical agenda was inevitable. The government says Iraqi security forces did not shoot at protesters. That was the work of snipers.

Gunmen in balaclavas did attack the offices of plenty of TV stations in Baghdad, destroying equipment and broadcast facilities. Additionally, Iraqi sources told me, armed groups targeted vital infrastructure, as in electricity grids and plants especially in Diwaniyah in the south. This would have plunged the whole of southern Iraq, all the way to Basra, into darkness, thus sparking more protests.

Pakistani analyst Hassan Abbas spent 12 days in Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala. He said heavily militarized police dealt with the protests, “opting for the use of force from the word go – a poor strategy.” He added: “There are 11 different law enforcement forces in Baghdad with various uniforms – coordination between them is extremely poor under normal circumstances.”

But most of all, Abbas stressed: “Many people I talked to in Karbala think this is the American response to the Iraqi tilt towards China.”

That totally fits with this comprehensive analysis.

Iraq did not follow the – illegal – Trump administration sanctions on Iran. In fact it continues to buy electricity from Iran. Baghdad finally opened the crucial Iraq-Syria border post of al-Qaem. Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi wants to buy S-400 missile systems from Russia.

He also explicitly declared Israel responsible for the bombing of five warehouses belonging to the Hashd al-Shaabi, the people mobilization units. And he not only rejected the Trump administration’s “deal of the century” between Israel and Palestine but also has been trying to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

And then there’s – what else? – China. On a state visit to Beijing on September 23, Mahdi clinched a proverbial win-win deal: plenty of oil supplies traded with investment in rebuilding infrastructure. And Iraq will be a certified Belt & Road node, with President Xi Jinping extolling a new “China-Iraq strategic partnership”. China is also looking to do post-reconstruction work in Syria to make it a key node in the New Silk Roads.

It ain’t over till the fat (Chinese) lady sings while doing deals. Meanwhile, Erdogan can always sing about sending 3.6 million refugees to Europe.

What’s happening is a quadruple win. The US performs a face saving withdrawal, which Trump can sell as avoiding a conflict with NATO alley Turkey. Turkey has the guarantee – by the Russians – that the Syrian Army will be in control of the Turkish-Syrian border. Russia prevents a war escalation and keeps the Russia-Iran-Turkey peace process alive.  And Syria will eventually regain control of its oilfields and the entire northeast.

محور المقاومة يُطبِق على الممرات والمضائق وأميركا مكتوفة الأيدي تحت النار…!

أكتوبر 12, 2019

محمد صادق الحسيني

اقرأوهم بعناية وستكتشفون أنهم أعجز من أي وقت مضى، وأنهم قاب قوسين او أدنى من الخسران والخروج من مسرح العمليات في أكثر من ميدان..!

ان ما كتبه الصحافي الأميركي، ميخائيل موران Mechael Moran ، في مجلة فورين بوليسي الأميركية، يوم 30/9/2019، حول تآكل قدرات سلاح البحرية الأميركية، هو كلام غايةً في الأهمية. ولكن الأهم من إعلانه هذا هو الوقوف على اسباب فقدان هذا السلاح الأميركي، الذي كان يهدد دول العالم أجمع، وهي الأكثر أهمية مما نشرته فورين بوليسي.

خاصة أن ما نشر قد كتب في ظل تطورات ميدانية، عميقة التأثير في موازين القوى الاقليمية والدولية، والتي يمكن اختصارها بما يلي :

1. نجاح العديد من الدول في اقامة مناطق حظر، على البحرية الأميركية، والتي من بينها إيران التي اقامت منطقة ممنوعة على حاملات الطائرات الأميركية، بعمق مئتي ميل بحري. أي انها اخرجت طائرات البحرية الأميركية، التي تنطلق من الحاملات، من الميدان، وذلك لان معظم الاهداف الحيوية الإيرانية تقع خارج مدى تلك الطائرات، ولأن الحاملات لا تستطيع الاقتراب لمسافة أقرب الى السواحل الإيرانية، خشية من الصواريخ المضادة للسفن، والتي استخدم واحداً منها، نور 1 ومداه 130 كم، في ضرب البارجة الحربية الإسرائيلية

ساعر، قبالة سواحل بيروت، في تموز 2006، ثم البارجة الإماراتية في البحر الأحمر سنة 2016، ومن بعدها المدمرة الأميركية USS Mason.

علماً ان إيران تمتلك صواريخ عدة مضادة للسفن، اكثر حداثة وأبعد مدى من الصاروخ المذكور أعلاه، مثل صواريخ نور 4 وصاروخ /قادر/ وغيرها من الصواريخ غير المعلن عنها. إذ تؤكد معلومات خاصة أن إيران تمتلك حالياً صواريخ مضادة للسفن يصل مداها الى ما يزيد عن ألفي كيلومتر المصدر يتحدث عن ألف ميل بحري/ علماً ان الميل البحري يساوي الف وثمانمئة وأربعة وخمسين كيلومتراً .

2. النتائج الاستراتيجية الزلزالية، للعمليات الجوية/ الصاروخية / والعمليات البرية الواسعة النطاق، التي نفذتها القوات المسلحة اليمنية ضد منشآت النفط السعودية في ابقيق وخريص وضد القوات البرية السعودية في نجران، وما لتلك الإنجازات من نتائج غيّرت موازين القوى في الميدان، وحوّلت البحر الأحمر وخليج عدن الى بحار او مناطق محظورة على حاملات الطائرات الأميركية خوفاً من تعرّضها لصواريخ القوات اليمنية .

وهو ما يعني ان قوات حلف المقاومة هناك، اي إيران والجيش اليمني وانصار الله في اليمن أصبحت تسيطر على اهم مضيقين بحريين في العالم، هما مضيق هرمز ومضيق باب المندب وما تعنيه هذه السيطرة من تأثير على طرق الملاحة البحرية الدولية. خاصة من ناحية القدرة على المحافظة عليها مفتوحة وآمنة للحركة البحرية لدول صديقة لحلف المقاومة، كالصين وروسيا، بالنسبة لروسيا الحركة من افريقيا وأميركا اللاتينية باتجاه الموانئ الروسية على سواحل المحيط الهادئ مثل ميناء فلاديفوستوك .

كما يجب النظر الى التأثيرات الاستراتيجية، لهذه الانتصارات، على مشروع الصين المستقبلي طريق واحد حزام واحد. وهو المشروع الذي لا يمكن تحقيقه في ظل الهيمنة الأميركية على طرق الملاحة البحرية، من خلال سيطرتها على بحار العالم، منذ نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية وحتى بداية العشرية الحاليّة.

ومن بين آخر التطورات الميدانية، في مسرح عمليات المواجهة بين حلف المقاومة والولايات المتحدة وأدواتها في المنطقة، هو :

3. افتتاح معبر القائم / البوكمال / الحدودي، بين سورية والعراق، وما يعنيه افتتاح هذا الشريان الحيوي، الذي يربط البلدين مع إيران وروسيا والصين شرقاً ومع لبنان وفلسطين المحررة غرباً، من الناحية الاستراتيجية. خاصة أن لفلسطين أهمية خاصة بالنسبة للمشروع الصيني طريق واحد حزام واحد. وذلك لكون فلسطين هي حلقة الوصل بين شرق العالم العربي وغربه، سواء على مستوى النقل بالعجلات او بالسكك الحديدية.

كما لا بد أن نستحضر الأهمية الاستراتيجية من الناحية العسكرية لإعادة فتح هذا المعبر، رغم القصف الجوي الأميركي والإسرائيلي المباشر لقطعات القوات المسلحة العراقية في غرب الأنبار بشكل خاص، وبهدف منع حدوث هذا التحول الهام.

اما عن ماهية عناصر هذا التحول فهي تتمثل، قبل كل شيء، في إحكام الحصار العسكري الاستراتيجي على الكيان الصهيوني رغم وجود جيب الأردن بين قوات حلف المقاومة وفلسطين المحتلة مؤقتاً، وما يعنيه ذلك من تحول هائل في موازين القوى العسكرية، خاصة اذا ما نظرنا الى هذا العنصر من منظار التخلي الأميركي عن الكيان والذي أصبح واضحاً، حسب معظم اهم المحللين الاسرائيليين، بعد الضربات اليمنية على اهداف أرامكو وفِي نجران السعودية. اذ انهم يجمعون المحللون الاسرائيليون على ان الولايات المتحدة، بعزوفها عن ضرب إيران عسكرياً، قد تركت اسرائيل وحيدة في مواجهة قوات حلف المقاومة وعلى رأسه إيران.

4. وإذا ما أضفنا لذلك الحصار البحري، الذي ستفرضه قوات حلف المقاومة، في لبنان وفلسطين، على السواحل الفلسطينية، عند صدور أمر العمليات الخاص بذلك، يصبح ما قاله سماحة السيد حسن نصر الله، في أحد خطاباته، موجهاً كلامه لسكان فلسطين المحتلة من اليهود، مفهوماً. وذلك عندما قال لهم أو نصحهم بالإسراع في مغادرة فلسطين المحتلة لأنه اذا نشبت الحرب فإنهم لن يجدوا لا متسعاً من الوقت للهرب ولا مكاناً يهربون إليه وإن أميركا وغيرها من الدول الاستعمارية لن تتمكن من التدخل لحمايتهم قبل إنهاء وجود كيانهم.

من هنا فان من المؤكد تماماً أن مسألة تحرير فلسطين كاملة ليست أكثر من مسألة وقت، لن يطول انتظار نهايتها، وان آخر مرحلة من مراحل الهجوم الاستراتيجي، لقوات حلف المقاومة، ستكون عبارة عن عملية عسكرية خاطفة، برية وبحرية وجوية، حابسة للأنفاس، تؤدي الى زوال بيت العنكبوت بأسرع ما يتصوّر الجميع.

وما ذلك على الله بعزيز.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله.

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