West Asia’s economic savior is called ‘multipolarity’

The transition from a western economic order toward a multipolar one is ushering in unprecedented economic and security advancements for West Asia.

May 02 2022

With Russia and Iran standing guard, and China’s ambitious investments, West Asia must sever its western economic dependencies and race toward the riches of multipolarity. Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Matthew Ehret

With Russia and Iran standing guard, and China’s ambitious investments, West Asia must sever its western economic dependencies and race toward the riches of multipolarity.

A race is now underway that will determine the shape of things to come for many generations.

While it is easy to get lost in the swarm of chaotic facts, sound bites, narrative spin, and other noise, it is vital to keep sight of the larger historical forces shaping our present crisis-ridden age.

Two weeks ago, in an important exclusive interview for The Cradle, influential Russian economist Sergey Glazyev outlined the terms and operating principles quickly being brought online by the leading member states of the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

Glazyev laid out the fundamental principles upon which the new post-US dollar economic system will be based. Although some common unit will be agreed upon, it will not be based upon any particular currency as with the Bretton Woods order, but rather a market basket of local currencies tied more deeply to an array of real commodities such as gold and other precious metals, grain, hydrocarbons, sugar, etc.

Real science, not casino-economics

The difference between this system and the now defunct Anglo-American economic structures is that Glazyev’s conception is based on real, tangible, measurable processes defining economic value among participants of the multipolar alliance.

This new paradigm of value stands in stark contrast to the post-1971 floating exchange rate system of rampant speculation and hyperbolically increasing rates of unpayable debts supporting decades of western economic malpractice.

Whereas one system justifies the increase of monetary flows within its system by speculative casino-logic devoid of any measurable improvement in the productive powers of labor, the opposing Eurasian system as described by Glazyev is very different. This multipolar system justifies economic growth, investment, and profit by activities that are tied to improving the conditions of life of people through practices tied to agro-industrial and scientific progress.

For those willing to do their research, they will take note that this is ironically how the west behaved when it was still growing industrially during the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. Sadly, two generations of a post-industrial consumer society logic have destroyed that earlier heritage.

Glazyev is not just any theoretician. He is the Russian minister in charge of Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasia Economic Union (EEU) and a leading strategist behind the Eurasian Economic Union-China commission for a new financial architecture. As such, his words are not merely academic, but an active force of grand strategy which keeps even monetarist ideologues at the Russian Central Bank up at night.

In all of his recent interviews and writings, Glazyev has also made it clear that the principles of this new system are already operational in the form of China’s unique approach to finance and international relations, recently describing China in the following terms:

“The entire banking system in China is state-owned, it operates as a single development institution, directing cash flows to expand output and develop new technologies. In the United States, the money supply is used to finance the budget deficit and is reallocated to financial bubbles. As a result, the efficiency of the US financial and economic system is 20 percent-there only one in five dollars reaches the real sector, and in China almost 90 percent (that is, almost all the yuan created by the Central Bank of the PRC) feed the contours of expanding production and ensure ultra-high economic growth.”

Across South and Central Asia, the Sino-Russian alliance has been transformative with Moscow providing strategic military and intelligence assistance to prevent western-directed regime change over the past seven years, as we have seen in the case of Syria since 2015, Turkey in 2016, and most recently Kazakhstan in 2022.

However, Russia lacks the economic freedom to carry out construction of mega-projects due to the continuing (for now) IMF hold on its economy — this is where China comes in. Beijing has been able to use its vast state banking apparatus to provide long term investments for the reconstruction of all nations abused by globalization for generations.

‘Tunxi’ to transform western Asia

While China’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been evolving at a fast pace since it was first unveiled in 2013, nowhere does it offer more hope than in the regions of West and Southwest Asia which have suffered under Anglo-American manipulation for generations and whose people are hungry for economic advancement.

With the April 1, 2022 comprehensive Tunxi Agreement signed by the foreign ministers of Russia, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, the Southwest and Central Asian BRI projects took on new energy.

Among the many initiatives in the Tunxi’s goal of integrating Afghanistan into the BRI while also amplifying BRI influence in surrounding regions, we see a high priority on energy projects, transport/connectivity, integration, agriculture, telecommunications and integration with surrounding nations. Among its 72 points, the agreement states:

“China supports the extension of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor to Afghanistan, and is ready to promote synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the development strategies of Afghanistan, and support the smooth operation of the China-Afghanistan freight train services, to help Afghanistan better integrate into the regional economic integration process.”

Leading projects will include the Khaf-Herat railway which will be completed and extended to central Asian countries via the Mazar-e-Sharif rail line and also the Chabahar Port in Iran.

Iran’s Deputy Transport Minister Abbas Khatibi pointed out that this project will soon link to China and other regional nations saying, “In addition to connect Iran’s rail network to Europe, the new Khaf-Herat railroad will link the country’s southern ports to Central Asian countries, the Caucasus, Iraq and even China.”

Increased interconnectivity

On February 23, 2022, The Silk Road Briefing stated:

“There is much to be done to attain Iran-Afghanistan-China rail connectivity. The planned route east would exit Afghanistan on the border with Tajikistan, then continue east to Kyrgyzstan before entering China through valleys of the Tian Shan mountain range that divide the two countries. A likely terminus would be Kashgar, with existing spurs heading north to Urumqi and connecting to China’s high-speed national rail network and through West to Kazakhstan. There are as yet unrealised plans to create a southern rail connection from Kashgar through to Pakistan.”

According to the Tunxi agreement, Turkmenistan also vowed to contributed to the “development of the transport, transit and communication system of Afghanistan, the intensification of the transit of cargo and passenger flows, by maintaining the operation of the railways along the route Atamyrat-Imamnazar-Akina-Andkhoy, which is designed to connect the countries of the region with further access to the railway network of China.”

Also important is the 6540 km Pakistan-Iran-Turkey freight line now being re-opened after 10 years of disarray. This strategic line which can easily intersect with CPEC and rail networks in China cuts travel down from 21 days at sea to only 10 days. Plans to add a new parallel passenger line to the freight service are also underway.

Commenting on the significance of this project, Pakistan’s Railway minister Azam Khan Swati said, “The start of the container train from Pakistan to Iran and Turkey was a long-standing dream of the countries of the region which has come true again.”

Following the Economic Cooperation Organization meeting in November 2021, projects to connect the Persian Gulf (at the Port of Bandar Abbas in Iran) with the Black Sea via rail were advanced by representatives of Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

This development is part of the broader International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) which has become increasingly synergistic with the East-West BRI in recent years and which offers multiple points of intersection with both Russia, Ukraine and Europe. If a wider conflict is to be avoided among Russia and its European neighbors, win-win projects of economic cooperation embodied by this project are essential.

A high priority in the Tunxi agreement was placed on energy projects which Afghanistan desperately needs. Among the many coal, natural gas and other projects showcased, much effort was made to emphasize their complementarity with the CASA-1000 project launched in 2016. This $1.2 billion energy mega project involves creating a vast system of transmission lines stretching from the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Another high priority project featured in Tunxi is the 1814 km Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Natural Gas Pipeline whose construction began in 2018 which will be an important force for residential and industrial development of all four nations.

How ‘new’ will the international order be?

While the Russia-China alliance is robust, other nations among the 148 which have so far signed cooperation agreements with the BRI are on shakier ground. It is in these weaker zones that efforts are being made to loosen the fabric of the Eurasian alliance through any and all possible means.

Such has been the fate of Pakistan which saw an alleged US State Department-directed overthrow of Prime Minister Imran Khan on 10 April. This has cast doubt over the new government’s level of commitment to the CPEC and BRI projects as outlined in Tunxi and other locations as well as broader pro-Eurasian security agreements advanced through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in recent years. At least for the time being, the new Pakistani government of Shehbaz Sharif has vowed to maintain CPEC as a top national priority.

Whatever the outcome of the unfolding conflict in Ukraine, military saber-rattling by the US in Asia-Pacific, or broader efforts to destabilize the allies of Russia, Iran and China (RIC), the fact is that the current order as we know it is in terminal decline, while a new economic system will arise one way or another.

The question isn’t “will it collapse?” but “will the new system be based on the principles advocated by Sergey Glazyev?” If not, will it be premised on the model of a new Roman Empire managing a divided, impoverished, and warring world under the influence of a sociopathic supranational hegemon?

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

Here comes China: The world rotated one more time

April 14, 2022


By Amarynth

The world rotated one more time since the last report on China.

So, what do we know?

China is rock-solid behind Russia in all of Russia’s objectives, and in some instances, up ahead.

It almost seems as if an agreement was, if not stated, then understood. Russia will do the shootin’ for now, and China will keep the economic boat afloat. We see consistent commenting such as China is a consistent stabilizing force in a changing world

Overall NATO is feeling the pressure and ‘resetting’ and trying to clone itself as Aukus in the east while trying to strengthen itself in the west. We have Stoltenberg announcing: “What we see now is a new reality, a new normal for European security. Therefore, we have now asked our military commanders to provide options for what we call a reset, a more longer-term adaptation of NATO.”. In this speech, he announced that plans are being worked up to transform NATO into a major force capable of taking on an invading army and states that NATO deepens partnerships in Asia in response to a rising “security challenge” from China.

Yet, in the east, the Quad is one less, given India’s refusal to follow the U.S. regarding Russia.

Japan has been asked to join Aukus as a Japan, US, Australia, UK alliance intending to project a strong regional balance of power against China, Russia (and maybe India then?) in Asia. This Aukus will then have synergy,, they say, with Japanese technologies in areas such as hypersonic weapons and electronic warfare. Somehow I don’t see Japan as a suitable switch out for India, but then again, we’re dealing with desperate last gyrations of a world hegemon here, trying to project that it still has many friends.

A quick look at India. These days, if you see a country being threatened, you know already that they have started decoupling from so-called western democracy and Blinken has just threatened India yet again. He says the US is “monitoring rise in rights abuses in India” So, suddenly the US cares about human rights abuses in India. This bellicose rhetoric is not effective and way beyond its sell-by date.

It is clear that Russia is decoupling from Europe, and this started before sanctions. But did you know that China is decoupling from Britain, Canada, and the US? This is a brand-new trend. China’s top offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC Ltd. is preparing to exit its operations in Britain, Canada, and the United States, because of concerns in Beijing that assets could become subject to Western sanctions. As it seeks to leave the West, CNOOC is looking to acquire new assets in Latin America and Africa, and also wants to prioritize the development of large, new prospects in Brazil, Guyana, and Uganda.

Apparently trying to deal with those three countries has become painful and CNOOC is seeking to sell “marginal and hard to manage” assets. Quoted are red tape and high operating costs in the western climes.

In the Asia region, we also saw the ease with which Imran Khan was relieved of his post as Prime Minister. I don’t believe this is the end of this story, because the citizens of Pakistan are truly unhappy.  https://www.rt.com/news/553734-us-involved-imran-khan-departure/

So if you were thinking that while the Ukraine war is hot, the Pacific is cool, that would be a mis judgement.

The new cry going out is if we’ve censored all the Russian voices, how can we allow the Chinese voices to carry water for Russia. We have to cancel them too! (These people deserve to go and live underground in bunkers!)

Taiwan keeps the war propaganda at a fever pitch by releasing a China Invasion Survival Guide.

Taiwan’s All-out Defense Mobilization unit has released a guide for citizens in the event of a war with Beijing, complete with comic strips and tips for survival, locating bomb shelters, and preparing food and first aid provisions.  The guide has been planned for some time, and comes as local officials look to extend military service beyond the current 4 months. https://t.me/rtnews/23455

Nancy Pelosi was planning to visit Taiwan. China made its displeasure known widely and loudly. And Pelosi immediately contracted Covid and had to suspend her trip.

From the Australian side, the propaganda is flowing strong. Here is a very fine video with Brian Berletic and Robbie Barwick, explaining exactly what happened with the contretemps in the Solomon Islands, as well as the overall trajectory and the speed thereof, of Australia’s belligerence against China. This video contains some interesting statements and supporting data. Seemingly, if Australia interacts with Island Nations like the Solomon’s the idea is to build infrastructure suitable for war, so, building a port must be suitable for US aircraft carriers, and building a road must be suitable for landing US airplanes. If China interacts with these very same Island Nations, the idea is to build infrastructure that can benefit their population and this is now clear among all.

Is it over? No, not by a long shot. Aussie minister pays ‘unprecedented coercive visit’ to Solomon Islands over China security pact. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202204/1259266.shtml

I’ve come to enjoy China’s spokespeople. They are sharp and do not miss a trick. Acerbic and incisive commentary is the order of the day. This is a good example, and please note the tone of the Western journos .. If you have never spent time on one of these, it is an education. The western journos try and beat the spox to death with repeated questions loaded with innuendo. https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/202204/t20220411_10666750.html

It is quite clear that China is not leaving the issue of Biolabs behind. They have just about daily coverage in various media about it.

SEOUL, April 12 (Xinhua) — U.S. military biological facilities in South Korea are serious threats to local residents’ safety, said a South Korean expert, as the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) continues with a scandalous program involving experiments with living toxic samples. #GLOBALink


China will never forget epithets like “China Virus” and “Wuhan Flu”. Take a good look at this image titled Poison Disseminator.

China had to evacuate +- 2,000 Chinese citizens from the Ukraine. From media, it was a successful evacuation. They have also repeatedly made their stance clear on the Ukraine.


The main focus is humanitarian. China released a five-point position statement supported by a six-point humanitarian plan

The position statement is:

  • First, we persevere in promoting peace talks in the right direction. We hold that dialogue and negotiation are the only way out, oppose adding fuel to the fire and intensifying confrontation, call for achieving a ceasefire and ending the conflict, and support Russia and Ukraine in carrying out direct dialogue.
  • Second, we persevere in upholding the basic norms governing international relations. We advocate respect for the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and oppose putting small and medium-sized countries on the front line of geopolitical games.
  • Third, we persevere in preventing the resurgence of the Cold War mentality. We do not agree with the “friend-or-foe” camp confrontation, firmly promote international solidarity, advocate the vision of common, cooperative, comprehensive and sustainable security, and respect and accommodate the legitimate and reasonable concerns of all parties.
  • Fourth, we persevere in upholding the legitimate rights and interests of all countries. We oppose unilateral sanctions that have no basis in international law and call for safeguarding the international industrial and supply chains to avoid harming normal economic and trade exchanges and people’s lives.
  • Fifth, we persevere in consolidating peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. We firmly uphold the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness in our neighborhood diplomacy, guard against the introduction of bloc confrontation into the region by the United States through the “Indo-Pacific strategy”, accelerate the promotion of regional integration and cooperation, and guard the hard-won development momentum in the region.

Wang Ji describes the six-point humanitarian plan:

While China is doing its best to create a level playing field and do real humanitarian work, they are not hiding the fact that they hold the US/NATO fully responsible for what they see as an action that was forced onto Russia.

Inside China, it is all about economic miracles. Taking a huge bow now in their theater of urgent needs is seeds: Chinese Seeds, Chinese developed, and Chinese local seeds. The seed companies of the west are unwelcome with the IP registration of their seeds and China will hold its ownership over its seeds.


The Shanghai lockdown provided endless China-bashing opportunities for western commentators. Tucker Carlson jumped on this horse and did his part for the anti-China campaign with a litany of complaints, a bunch of pixellated videos that are propaganda material, never having spoken to anyone actually living in Shanghai, without an idea of China’s principled management of Covid and without understanding the levels of the lockdown – complete political projection of US so-called values.  As we have seen so many times from the USA’ians, trying to fight his political battles on the back of the Chinese (or anyone else, for that matter).  He also perceivably has no idea that the Chinese lockdown supports the people with food and medicines, and it is not like the west. So, he looks at this with western eyes and truly, he has no clue. It is exactly the same that the world complains about .. it is: “We are right and exceptional and we know better.” Because China makes its own rules, Carlson calls it wrong. He is totally committed to the idea of US manifest destiny and his way is the right way.  Carlson is anti a war with Russia for political purposes but show him China as a possible war partner, and he blooms with bloodlust.

It is truly better to listen to those that are actually living there and can actually speak the language.  It is so that people believe the MSM when that very same MSM says something that they like and rail against that very same MSM when they say something that they don’t like.

David Fishman tweets: So it’s CRAZY that we have to do this, it’s also incredibly fascinating from a supply chain/logistics/economics perspective. We are in the process of re-inventing the food distribution network in Shanghai. It’s all based on the newly prevalent concept of Group-Buying.

If you really want to know how people live through a 14 day lockdown, a 14 day lighter lockdown if no Covid presents itself, a closed and open-loop system, and then thereafter no lock down. I would recommend that you click on this tweet and read all the parts:

Let’s hear from someone who is actually right there:

And Jeff Brown weighed in as well. Special explanation to address the many concerns global citizens have about China’s “Zero-Covid” policy, with Shanghai now in the headlines.


And so there are to my knowledge hundreds of people reporting that they get their food delivered, they take part in group buying, they mostly get what they want but sometimes not and we see things like this:

The lesson here is that if you want to know what is happening in China, listen to the people in China. Now, they are not brutally suppressed and silenced. Online media is bigger than ever. What is frowned upon and can get you into hot water, is if you are rude and rude to others. State your case, don’t be rude and you will be fine with social media communication.  (Somewhat like the concept of Saving Face).

No, China is not killing 25 million people in Shanghai.

There are thousands of made-up and anti-China video clips breathlessly being passed around by the usual suspects.  I saw one that purports that the Chinese are breaking down their 5G towers.  It was a clip from the umbrella riots in Hong Kong where the rioters were breaking down public infrastructure.

Is everything perfect? Of course not. Are their people struggling? Of course. Was there food distribution problems initially?  Of course.  Is it easy? Of course not. Are most people content with the decision to do a phased lock-in of a city of 25 million people? Most of the ones that I’ve regularly followed are, if not content, they understand the reason and trust the Chinese Zero-Covid policy. Westerners need to start understanding that the Chinese people are part of their government and that they actually believe the government does what is best for the people and they have evidence and proof of this, because they are part of a very inclusive system.

Cyrus Janssen is a regular commentator on China.  He does not like the Shanghai lockdown.  This is his thread, and take a look at what the Chinese actually answered.

The conversation in China is different from the conversation in the west.  Their current concern is future management of Covid.  They have concerns that their Zero-Covid strategy needs to be adjusted.  They are in the process of refining its strategy.  They do not have concerns about their strategy, because they have the numbers.

The last report that I have is as of Saturday.  The Shanghai port STILL operating smoothly, with berthing efficiency better than 2021. The average waiting time for ships in Port is under 24 hours, and all the production units at the port maintain normal 24-hour operations, except in extreme weather. In 2021, the Port moved 47 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), ranking first globally. Throughput of international containers exceeded 6 million TEUs for the first time.

Trade between Russia and China skyrocketed. Paul from the Sirius report states it as follows:  “Western experts fail to grasp that the Global South is around 87% of the world’s population, is in its ascendancy and has a myriad of vertical growth markets now in play and is embracing the multipolar world. West meanwhile is in terminal decline.”

China and Russia trade in Q1 rose 28% to $38.2bn equivalent.

In 2021, trade turnover between Russia and China hit a record high of $146.88 billion, having surged 35.8%. In December, the Russian and Chinese presidents agreed on creating infrastructure to service trade operations between the two nations without third parties.

The ASEAN surpassed the EU to become China’s largest trading partner. China’s imports and exports with ASEAN jumped 8.4% yoy to 1.35tn yuan in Q1 accounting for 14.4% of the country’s foreign trade volume.

Beijing’s economic and trade cooperation with other countries including Russia and Ukraine remains normal.

Beijing has refused to join sanctions against Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine, saying cooperation between China and Russia “has no limits.” The two countries have been switching from the US dollar and the euro to local currencies in trade to avoid possible sanctions.

It’s all digital currency for the years ahead for China. Make a strong distinction in your mind between CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency), Cryptocurrencies and China’s digital currency. They are not all the same.

Russia is increasing its holdings in Yuan. This is explained as underscoring the falling credibility of the US dollar, as the US has been weaponizing the dollar as a financial weapon instead of a trusted international payment currency.  This via Xu Wenhong, a research fellow at the Institute of Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

From the Here Comes China newsletter by Godfree Roberts, we see this:

Cainiao, Alibaba’s logistics arm, rolled out a digital end-to-end e-commerce logistics service that includes pickup, warehousing, supply chain, customs clearance, and last-mile delivery.  You may think this is for China internally and it might well be so, but China has now something like 3,000 warehouses across the world, supporting the products that the belt and road transport, to get to the last-mile delivery.

Earlier I referred to the Quad as well as to the fact that China is doing its own selective decoupling. The Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline, which runs through Mongolia, is specifically aimed at reducing any Chinese dependence on Quad Members.


To conclude before we get to a lighter note, the west has no competitive edge any longer in trade, very little in war if we look at it as of today (they can still wipe us all out and turn us into glass), and have no honor left. They are not serious people and cannot be allowed to try and run our planet any longer, exclusively to their own benefit.

From Godfree’s newsletter about one of China’s minorities that I had actually never heard of. The Naxi, one of China’s 55 ethnic minorities, have long been popular with anthropologists, but its folk music is routinely overlooked. A new album hopes to change that. It might not be your style, but something different and away from war is always welcome.

Many of the data points here are courtesy of Godfree Roberts’ extensive weekly newsletter: Here Comes China. You can get it here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

Interview: London Paul from the Sirius Report – Move to Multipolarity

April 12, 2022


Amarynth interviewed London Paul

London Paul from the Sirius Report has a story to tell. This is the story of the history of multipolarity and the global move to a new multipolar structure in our world with the old single polarity hegemon now collapsing.

He graciously agreed to this 5-question written interview to bring Saker readers up to date and we are grateful for his time.

Paul will probably not be a new voice for some of our readers, but for others, you can read his background here: https://www.thesiriusreport.com/about/

His work was some of the first that was scrubbed from the internet and for years, he was laughed out of the house, as what he was observing was just too different to be true. To avoid the continual internet scrubbing games, he set up a monthly subscription podcast, where he discusses current affairs in relation to economics.  Yet today, we are in this process and we can visibly see the progress and effects of this massive move to a multipolar world.

At the Saker Blog, we’ve focused on the Russian military action in the Ukraine. We understand that this is a fight not against the Ukrainians but against the US-led NATO military alliance, and the single power center, west.  The Ukraine is but a proxy. In the bigger picture, this move toward multipolarity is one of the reasons if not the major part, for this military action.

With that short overview, we move straight into the questions.

Question:  Paul, give us the background. How did you arrive at your understanding? What drew you to this specific study and what makes you excited about it, even today? Where do we stand as a world community? What do we stand to gain by changing the complete underpinnings of our world to a fairer system, where each country has a voice?

Response:  I was originally an academic who studied Physics at degree and PhD level. I then moved into the financial services sector, so that’s when my interest and understanding in economics and finance started in earnest. It was around the time of 9-11 that I developed a serious interest in geopolitics.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2008 Global financial crisis, which I predicted in 2006, it was immediately apparent that the West had not implemented any policies which would resolve the causes of that crisis. They merely decided to bailout the financial system and then implemented QE and ZIRP which should only ever have been implemented on a very short term basis. I wrote to Western governments at the time advising them not to implement these policies for more than a few short months because the consequence of long term implementation is unsustainable asset bubbles, failing economies addicted to – and propped up by – cheap credit, and a completely unsustainable financial system. Developments made by China, Russia and other nations, which we will come to in the next question, were the first genuine suggestion that those nations saw the need for an alternative to what had become the utter failure of unipolarity by the 2008 GFC.

It was around a decade ago that I came to know the architects of what is now known as the multipolar world. They understood back in the 1990s that US hegemony and the US Dollar were in terminal decline. They advised the Chinese and Russians that they needed to develop a multipolar world, the resurrection of the Old Silk Road, to seek win-win cooperation with other nations and to develop sound monetary policies and currencies backed by real wealth, such as gold and commodities. From discussions with these architects I began to study China, Russia and the wider Global South in great detail as we began to see the embryonic development and implementation of the multipolar world.

Given these are fundamentally game changing developments in the so-called global order, my interest remains as strong today as it was a decade ago. We are now seeing a world that operates in two distinct spheres: a rapidly developing and ascendent multipolar world and a unipolar world in terminal decline. When these two worlds collide as the latter seeks to retain its relevance, we then see the risk of serious conflicts developing such as what we are now witnessing in the Ukraine.

Whilst the developing multipolar world is a decades-long project in the making, its adoption and the benefits that will be accrued are multifold, in that it seeks to develop nations domestically, bilaterally and in multilateral formats. It strives to promote true globalisation, not the highly abusive Western adoption of this theory. By promoting win-win cooperation and the development of vertical poles across the entire world, it will provide prosperity and security for everyone.

Many will argue that this is a nonsensical pipedream but it is already becoming a reality. Challenges will remain, not least in the ideological bias that exists between nations and in deep-seated historical grievances. However, all journeys have to start with the first step and that is what we are already beginning to see across the Global South. The sum of our parts can be infinitely greater than the individual components and that is something we, as responsible custodians of this planet, should be striving to achieve. It is for these reasons that my understanding of this paradigm shift remains as strong today as it was a decade ago.

Question:  Is it only China and Russia that designed the concept of multipolarity for us, or were there more involved historically?

Response:  Whilst I think it would be fair to say that China and Russia were the trail blazers for multipolarity, we should not forget the role that has been played by many other nations in the last decade which is equally as important and significant.

Firstly, there was the announcement of the BRIC alliance, which became the BRICS alliance, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in 2009, in the immediate aftermath of the GFC of 2009. We also saw the foundation of the SCO or Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in 2001, which included Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Full membership was granted to India and Pakistan in 2017. There are also four observer states: Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran (soon to become a full member), Mongolia and 6 dialogue partners.

We also saw the creation of the EAEU in 2014 which now includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. In 2016, there was the formation of the AIIB or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is a multilateral development bank focusing on developments in Asia. The bank currently has 105 members, including 16 prospective members.

We have also seen the modification of long-term institutions such as the ASEAN alliance or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations which was founded in 1967 and is a political and economic union of 10 member states in Southeast Asia, which promotes intergovernmental cooperation in the realms of economic, political, and security integration between its members and in a wider context throughout Asia.

One development which has been years in the making was the adoption of the RCEP or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in early 2022, which is a free-trade agreement. It includes Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.

These are just a few examples of developments in multilateral formats. There have also been many developments in bilateral and trilateral formats which are all pieces of the development of this multipolar world.

Question:  What do you envisage as we move further into this world configuration in terms of trade?  What could be the everyday currencies? As we are a Russian-oriented site, there is much concern about the Russian Central Bank. Will we end up with Central Banks? Has Russia’s move to set a price standard for gold ended in a gold backed Ruble, or a commodity based currency? Explain to us what it means in broader terms for the ordinary person?  Why should we be interested?

Response:  Global trade, finance and ecoomies will literally go through a revolution. The BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) has laid the foundation for a global trade system but it is fluid and subject to change. There is no doubt that banks and the global financial system are going to undergo radical changes, including their investment arms. There will be a radical overhaul of the function of governments and financial institutions to include central banks. We expect to see the adoption of sophisticated barter systems which will facilitate trade whereby the respective counter parties will set transaction prices as they see fit, free from government interference.

Blockchain and other technologies will totally change the way business is conducted. The multipolar world will seek to facilitate trade and allow trading partners to generate and keep their wealth. There will be a radical overhaul of how basic needs are managed to include healthcare, education, food and energy security. The domination of unsustainable cartels and cooperations will come to an end and we will see an explosion of creativity in terms of industry, medicine, science and the arts. Ultimately, it requires a complete overhaul of all existing Western institutions which have ruthlessly abused their responsibility for self-interests.

We will see, in a very broad sense, the marrying of true capitalism and socialism into workable models for nations and alliances. The ongoing challenge to US unipolarity will continue via the Global South and, in essence, the Eurasian Trade Zone. Existing Western institutions will continue to unravel and the insidious practices that have underpinned the world since WW2 will continue to be exposed.

In terms of future currencies, we are going to see the adoption of new payment mechanisms outside the purview of the USD / UST complex. This will include nations trading in local currencies, adopting future cryptocurrencies or digital currencies in multilateral formats such as the EAEU and the ASEAN nations. The backbone of future trade will be in currencies which are backed by real wealth, to include gold, perhaps silver and a basket of commodities. There will be no single world reserve currency in the future. China has always made it clear that it doesn’t seek to make the yuan a world reserve currency but merely to internationalise its currency. Russia also has that possibility via its vast commodity resource base, for the future global adoption of the ruble in terms of trade, particularly with the Global South but also the West and not just in terms of demanding ruble for gas as we are currently seeing.

The 5000 ruble per gram price fix was merely meant to stabilise internal markets and miners. It has now been removed because that stability has been achieved. Unfortunately, in the West, that announcement was interpreted as meaning that Russia had backed the ruble with gold and it was wrongly conflated with a far bigger story which we have discussed for years about the future role of the ruble in international trade.

For Russia, the stability and global adoption of the ruble in terms of trading commodities will be beneficial to the Russian economy, its financial stability and enable it to access markets free from the potential interference of the US via the weaponization of the dollar. It will also permit Russia to continue to implement further domestic changes, not least including the development of the Russian Far East and its integration into the BRI. A stable ruble and the benefits that will accrue will also see greater international investment in Russia in the future.

Question:  People talk about food scarcity and prices are rising everywhere.  So, is this purely sanctions blowback, or the result of years of fiscal mismanagement?  And then how is an ordinary person to hedge.  Where are we going to see major country defaults on their debts?

Response:  We have spoken about food and energy insecurity for a number of years. The sanctions blowback has merely exacerbated a long-term problem caused by utterly failed policy decisions. Firstly, nations should have long since been aware of the flaws of a global ‘just-in-time-system’, in that if one aspect of that mechanism fails it can have damaging consequences.

We have seen during the pandemic how global supply chains were impacted in very serious and sudden ways. The just-in-time-system was the primary cause of this. Whilst we are not advocates of protectionism, because we see that as being equally flawed, nations need to understand that they need to become more self-sufficient where possible, in terms of food and energy security. There also needs to be a radical overhaul of this just-in-time-system because the pandemic highlighted eloquently why it is quite simply unfit for purpose.

This also highlights the need for nations to adopt a new approach via multipolarity which seeks to find mechanisms to address the future disruption of supply chains, how nations can begin to address some of those concerns domestically, particularly in terms of food production and via their energy needs. There also needs to be an understanding that this Western ideological zero-sum game mentality is contributing to global food and energy instability because of its very weaponization by Washington and its vassal states.

In terms of energy security, the desire to push ahead with the utterly flawed green revolution has also led to unnecessary imbalances in the energy mix, putting even Western nations at serious risk of future energy and food insecurity including rationing and perhaps even the complete absence of basic sustenance food items. There needs to be a radical global overhaul of how we address energy needs and how we can address this via a mix of traditional fossil fuels, nuclear reactors to include a global drive for commercial fusion development, hydroelectricity and the adoption of viable renewable energy sources because currently the renewable sector is appallingly myopic and fails to address obvious issues such as the cost in terms of energy, resources, commodities and the environmental impact to implement e.g. solar and wind farms. In very basic terms the cost-benefit ratio of seeking to implement such technologies has not been adequately addressed.

In terms of how people can manage the current risks of food and energy insecurities, that depends on their individual circumstances. If possible, they should look to stockpile non-perishable foods, grow their own fresh vegetables, utilize alternative off-the-grid energy sources for cooking, heating and lighting. However, this is often not possible due to financial and domestic constraints. What is clear is that we are expressing a global crisis in terms of food and energy security and currently we don’t sense that Western nations are taking this seriously enough. The consequences are potentially catastrophic and not just in terms of the global South. The West is now highly vulnerable to similar shocks and we are simply unprepared, not least in dealing with the societal impact this could and will cause.

Question:  What is the question that you would have liked people to ask you, initially, in the early days, when your message was not taken seriously. And of course, if you can answer that question as well.

Response:  Ironically, this is a question within a question. I was asked back in 2014 what I regarded as my fundamental observation for the next decade. My response was that we should all pay attention to what China and Russia do domestically, bilaterally and internationally. This was greeted with utter disbelief, ridicule and anger. Instead of reacting in such a manner, the next question should have been why I gave such a radical response and what was my reasoning, instead of being summarily dismissed.

If I had been asked why I believed this to be the case I would have explained why the GFC in 2008 was the signal that US hegemony, the US dollar and unipolarity were in rapid and terminal decline. Why – as I stated at the time of the Kiev maidan in 2014 – this was the final nail in the coffin lid of the US hegemony and the USD and Russia would play the long game to see this reach its inevitable conclusion. Why I stated that the major energy deal between China and Russia for the Power of Siberia, signed in 2014, was a major catalyst for the acceleration of the multipolar world and de-dollarisation. Why post GFC 2008, the US burnt its bridges with China by printing trillions of dollars instead of asking China to buy their debt. Why the rollout of the multipolar world was baked in the cake in 2014 and the US weaponization of the dollar would continue to erode global trust in the US and the USD leading to the collapse of unipolarity.

My reasoning was based on an unfolding reality which Westerners have continually, for the last 8 years, failed to see, often because of their arrogance and ignorance. Even now, many still regard the US as the hegemonic power it was in the 1990s and China and Russia as they were in the 1980s economically, societally and military. They also tend to see China and Russia through the eyes of the West, which is a very myopic perspective and makes the assumption that neither nation is capable of offering a better alternative to unipolarity. A failure to grasp these fundamental issues will continue to see Westerners fail to understand the unfolding paradigm shift and therefore to continue to dismiss it as being an irrelevance.

Thank you Paul! for your time and your complete responses.  But, I feel we’ve hardly touched the subject and this is most probably the one issue we will be talking about far into the future.

We open to the Saker commentariat and if you have a question for Paul, please put that in the comments.  We will choose another five questions and do another interview in written form.  It is now your turn, dear reader.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the Serbian media, Moscow, March 28, 2022

March 29, 2022


Question: As you know, Serbia has not joined the sanctions [against Russia]. Did it come as a surprise to you that some of the Balkan nations who have recently had a good relationship with Russia have joined the sanctions against it? What is your perspective on the efforts to bring relations with these Balkan countries back to normal later?

Sergey Lavrov: We are seeing unprecedented pressure as part of a general campaign, which some Western politicians call an all-out war against Russia where all means are justified. This did not just start now – far from it.

Over the previous ten years, the European Union, in its relations with the countries seeking to join it, has been demanding – the Serbs know this well – that they join all their foreign policy initiatives that of late have been increasingly anti-Russia in character. This has nothing to do with a single economic space or with introducing the rule of law or anything else like that. There is only an ideologically-charged approach that allows them to continue to put pressure on Russia to emasculate its independence in the international arena and have it accept European values, which Europe has long since been inculcating [in others], despite its Christian roots.

Allow me to remind you that when they were working on the European Union Constitution, which, in the end, was not approved and was replaced by the Treaty of Lisbon, the first version began with a reference to Europe’s Christian roots. The European “grandees” refused to support this wording, having repudiated their race and religious traditions. They can hardly be expected to have respect for the traditions of other faiths.

We are seeing this pressure being exerted on the Balkan countries, including Serbia, to have them join the anti-Russia sanctions, which cover almost all economic, cultural, humanitarian, political and other activities. President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic has spoken about this in detail in public several times, emphasising that Serbia will be guided by its own interests. There are also countries like this in the European Union. I just want to mention the recent statement by Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban, who said that Hungary would stand up for its own interests.

This multi-ethnic self-reproducing bureaucracy with a seat in Brussels is trying to subjugate all countries without exception and concentrate all efforts to establishing rules and standards at the headquarters of the European Union, reducing to a minimum what its member countries can do on their own. This is a flawed policy. It shows yet again that, essentially, a certain trend is emerging in the European Union to strengthen autocracy as represented by Brussels in its relations with the member countries.

Montenegro and North Macedonia have been drawn into the sanctions war. They were tempted by the promise of fast rapprochement with the European Union, but this did not happen. They were drawn into NATO and anti-Russia actions and campaigns. Then they were patted on the shoulder, as it were, and told: “Good job, fellas, keep it up.” This is a serious problem. The EU’s reputation and the real goals of its policy in the Balkans are at stake. I believe the United States has given the EU complete control over the Balkans. The US is fully satisfied with the EU’s aggressive anti-Russia line.

Do you remember this statement by Josep Borrell’s predecessor Federica Mogherini? She accused Russia of being too active in the Balkans and said that if the EU started getting involved there, there was no room for others. Her successor Josep Borrell promotes the same idea. He has always urged the EU not to allow Russia to build stronger relations with those countries where it feels like “the boss of the show.”

We are seeing attempts by the US, the EU and NATO to impose their hegemony on others, not only in the Balkans but also in the rest of the world –virtually everywhere else. I am convinced that most of the countries around the world realise that this is the path to a deadlock. It will eventually be necessary to find a way out. There are not too many countries in Europe that can consider themselves sovereign and independent. Those that refuse to join the sanctions in favour of other states to protect their own national interest are fully entitled to be called independent regardless of their size.

Question: Did Russia envision such isolation and military losses, things we rarely hear precise information about?

Sergey Lavrov: The sanctions against Russia have never stopped. In Soviet times, we lived under the sanctions of the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (CoCom). Under this, the West did all it could to prevent the purchase and supply of high-tech equipment. The Jackson-Vanik amendment existed for many years. It was repealed to allow us to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO) because the United States and other countries were interested in this. It was instantly replaced by the Magnitsky Act that continued the tradition of pressuring the Russian Federation through sanctions. These sanctions were valid until 2014.

A coup took place in Kiev in 2014 contrary to the guarantees of the EU and with Washington’s direct support. Now there is no longer any doubt about it. The coup evoked indignation in both Crimea and in the east of Ukraine. The Crimeans held a referendum to return to Russia, protecting themselves against the armed militants that were bound for Crimea. The people in eastern Ukraine also proclaimed the creation of republics that refused to accept the anti-constitutional government coup. At that time, the Russian Federation was again blamed for everything. The West was disappointed that its plan to finally use Ukraine for its anti-Russia needs fell through.

The introduced sanctions simply reflected the West’s irritation. President of Russia Vladimir Putin has said more than once that since then the EU and the US have imposed sanctions on us almost every month, at least two or three times a year. I think it is always easy to find an excuse. The goal of the sanctions is not to resolve some specific problem but to curb Russia’s strategic and geopolitical development. We know that the West is good at finding excuses.

The surge in unprecedented Neanderthal-like Russophobia that has come to life in almost all Western countries whose leaders are vigorously encouraging and cultivating it was something that struck me particularly in the circumstances at hand. I’m aware that there are reasonable people in the EU who understand the danger of inciting this kind of Russophobia. They are issuing reminders to the effect that Europe saw a similar attitude towards a certain ethnicity over 80 years ago and they know how it ended. This obsession with regard to how they see everything Russian, be it culture, art, education, or Russian citizens (as soon as they start speaking their language in many European countries), has taken over almost all European countries. This struck me, because it revealed the Neanderthal entrails of Russophobia. It appears to have been brewing for a long time now. It’s impossible to bring to life a sentiment like that in just one day. So it was carefully hidden. We will make corresponding conclusions.

Isolation doesn’t exist and is brought up exclusively by those who, mentally and ideologically, have resigned themselves to the inevitability of a Western dictatorship on the global stage. This dictatorship is supported primarily by the West itself which is loath to lose its positions. The West has been the world’s dominant player for over 500 years now. A different era – the forming of a multipolar international order – is now here. The global economic development hubs pursuing a nationally oriented policy have risen, and they do not want to accept the impersonal neoliberal values ​​imposed by the West on the world. They want to be grounded in their history, traditions and values, including religious values. By and large, they are common to all world religions.

Russia has many partners in the Asia-Pacific region, Asia, Africa and Latin America. We have good relations with the vast majority of organisations created by the developing countries, including the African Union, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and many others. As you are aware, organisations with the participation of the Russian Federation have been created and are successfully functioning in Eurasia which is a critically important, strategically developing region: the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. In cooperation with ASEAN, these organisations are vigorously promoting interaction among them and developing a network of cooperation projects in conjunction with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, among others. We are building the Greater Eurasian Partnership. Our relations with China are at their all-time best. Russia has a particularly privileged strategic partnership with India. We have ties with the majority of the Middle Eastern, Latin American and African countries.

The West is trying to showcase the so-called “isolation” in which the Russian Federation allegedly found itself by presenting the mathematical results of the UN vote. We are aware of how they get these results and the kind of shameless blackmail the developing countries are subjected to, and personal threats against the representatives of these countries at the UN or other organisations. For us, this means only one thing: the United States and the Western countries that are playing along with this crude and undisguised blackmail are themselves afraid of being isolated. If they are that confident in their ideals and values that can win their way to the hearts and minds of all people around the world, then let them state their position and allow the countries to make a choice. These countries are aware of the position adopted by the West, Russia, China and other major global players. Let them choose freely without any pressure.

During his recent visit to Europe, US President Joseph Biden said that we were entering an era of long confrontation between democracy and autocracy. Look at how the modern West is functioning, look at the countries that have declared themselves a model of democracy. The United States has subdued the entire Europe. It is leading not only NATO but actually also the EU, using its infrastructure and potential for strengthening US military and political positions in the Old World. As for democracies and autocracies, this “community of democracies” represented by the US, NATO and the EU has become an integral whole (under US command). It is an overt autocracy if not a dictatorship as regards other members of the international community.

Our Western colleagues have urged us and other countries for many years to ensure the supremacy of law and democracy in the US interpretation. But whenever we suggested discussing democracy in the world arena, they were against it – there can be no democracy in the world arena. The Westerners have even cancelled the very term “international law” that implied respect for the principles of the UN Charter, primarily, the principle of the sovereign equality of states. Our Western colleagues did not give a damn (excuse me for this expression) about the sovereign equality of states or international law, generally speaking. They no longer use the latter term. They are saying now that all countries must follow the laws of a rules-based order. The rules mean only one thing – they are established by the West. Everyone else must obey. This is a typical example of autocracy and dictatorship that uses an ultimatum.

We don’t feel isolated. Isolation is the lot of those who couldn’t imagine their life without so-called “Western values” and without the welcoming embrace or at least a more or less warm reception in the West. Meanwhile, there are much more important things in life. They are a loadstar for the overwhelming majority of states and civilisations on this planet.

It is necessary to respect each other rather than impose one’s pseudo values in an aggressive manner. These have only existed for a short time. They appeared with the development of neo-liberalism and are used to discontinue millennia-old cultures and civilisations. This path is a dead-end. These attempts will continue for a while, but they are doomed in the historical perspective. Strategically, this policy will find itself in complete isolation.

Question: I know Russia now has more important things to worry about, but “everyone is out for himself.” Now Serbia has to harmonise its foreign policy. It has not introduced sanctions against Russia. For us Russia is the most important foreign policy partner when it comes to upholding our sovereignty in international organisations. How do you visualise Serbia’s possible political prevarication between the two geopolitical poles, and does this phenomenon have time limits?

Sergey Lavrov: It’s not up to us to be responsible for decisions made by Serbia, the Serbian leadership or the Serbian people. We are fraternal nations. We are united by common history and victories against common enemies. We feel how deeply these feelings are rooted in the soul of the Serbian people, in their historical memory. And now we are seeing this. We never impose anything by force. The West is trying to impose on Serbia its own policy and interests by force of economic pressure, threats, blackmail and ultimatums. It is telling Serbia that it must oppose Russia if it wants to join the EU. This is unseemly. This is not how one should behave in society, at home, with friends or in the world arena. This is an example of their policy of arm-twisting. President Aleksandar Vucic has mentioned this more than once. He said honestly that Serbia is a small country but it has its own pride and its own interests. Attempts are being made now to simply forget these interests and turn you into an instrument of Western policy. This is what happened with North Macedonia and Montenegro. This is what the West is now trying to do with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We have deep respect for the Serbian people, its commitment to its traditions, history and its historical friends. I am convinced that the Serbian people will continue making wise decisions in any situation, based on their fundamental interests.

Question: Is President Vladimir Putin ready to sit down at the negotiating table with President Vladimir Zelensky?

Sergey Lavrov: President of Russia Vladimir Putin has commented on this topic many times. He raised this subject yet again not that long ago when answering questions by his foreign colleagues with whom he maintains regular dialogue, including on the situation in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin said that he has never refused to meet with President Vladimir Zelensky. It is just that he believes in the importance of making sure that these meetings are well prepared. Considering the current crisis situation in Ukraine, its internal conflict which has been building up over all these years and the multiple challenges, simply arranging a meeting to discuss what one thinks and what the other thinks does not cut it. In fact, it would be counterproductive. When Ukraine suggested talks after we launched our special military operation, we agreed. These talks carried on and are ongoing. They will resume today or tomorrow in person in Istanbul after a series of videoconferences. The outcome we seek must deliver on our principled objective of stopping the killing of civilians in Donbass which has been going on for eight long years. The Western community has remained silent despite all its progressivism and has not issued even a single comment to condemn what was going on, even though everyone saw the shelling of civilian infrastructure in Donbass: hospitals, kindergartens, clinics and residential housing. Civilians were dying by the thousands. Still, the “enlightened” West remained silent. All it did was call for fulfilling the Minsk agreements. When Kiev refused, the West started saying that it was up to Russia to fulfil them. This is sheer mockery in terms of common sense, international law, human rights, you name it.

When negotiating with Ukraine, it is our duty to ensure that the people of Donbass never suffer from the Kiev regime again, while the West and NATO stop their military build-up in Ukraine, which creates physical, military threats to the Russian Federation. Ukraine must cease being subject to a constant militarisation effort and attempts to deploy strike capabilities there to threaten the Russian Federation. Ukraine must also stop encouraging neo-Nazi ideology and practices.

This has happened before, and we know these examples. In fact, they are rooted in Ukrainian law. Let me mention the discriminatory laws which run counter to the Ukrainian Constitution and all international commitments. These laws prohibit the Russian language in education and the media. Ukraine has recently adopted laws banning the Russian language from everyday life. Demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine constitute an indispensable component of the agreements we are seeking to conclude. I hope that Ukraine understands that the developments which have been running rampant there since the country’s independence are extremely toxic. This includes honouring the memory of Shukhevich and Bandera, who were Nazi criminals. The “decommunisation” drive includes demolishing monuments to the great people who liberated Ukraine from the Nazis. Western instructors helped train “nationalist” battalions whose members not only wore Nazi symbols but practiced Nazi methods of war. Seeing how Ukrainian Nazis from the Azov and Aidar battalions treat Russian prisoners of war should have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s for you. We will need to arrange this meeting once a solution regarding all these key matters comes into reach.

For many years, we sought to raise awareness on these issues. The West remained impervious to our efforts, but they have heard us now. This is already something. What matters the most right now is to stop indulging the Ukrainians who want to use talks and solutions as a smokescreen. They have succeeded in this posture when they derailed the Minsk agreements immediately after signing them in February 2015. In the end, they said that they refused to fulfil them. We know how good they are at pretending to be involved. This time, they will not get away with it. We need to make sure that the talks yield results, and once they do, the Presidents will formalise them.

Question: I have a question about mercenaries in Ukraine. It is a hot subject in Russia, and it is being discussed around the world as well. Hundreds of people from Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina fought on the side of the Islamists in Syria. However, the West did not criticise Pristina or Sarajevo. These people are now willing to fight in Ukraine, and there are also Croatian volunteers there. The Kosovo Albanian authorities and Pristina have supported Kiev. We would like you to comment on this.

Sergey Lavrov: We were among those who for years warned our Western partners about the recruiters of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups working in several Balkan countries. We warned them about the consequences of such connivance for Europe. Statistics show that Pristina is holding the per capita anti-record by the number of militants fighting in Syria and Iraq. But nobody wanted to hear about that. Later our Western colleagues wondered where the cutthroats who staged terrorist attacks and massacres in European cities had come from. Mercenaries will not remain in Ukraine after their inglorious mission ends there. It is perfectly clear that they will move on to European cities, where they will continue their so-called work. You may know that participation in hostilities in foreign states is a punishable offence in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Kosovo Province. Some of those who fought in Syria and Iraq have even been punished upon their return home. But today Europe is acting differently. The policy of double standards has taken priority when it comes to Ukraine. The West has banked on it to contain Russia. It would use any means to achieve this end.

We don’t see any reaction to this. We have been trying to draw the attention of our Western partners and colleagues from other countries and parts of the world to the Ukrainian embassies’ activities to recruit mercenaries for Ukraine on their websites, which is a blatant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and is discrediting the status of a diplomatic office. Some of these mercenaries have made statements on the social media and have appeared on several television networks. It is obvious that they are not volunteers. They are fighting for money. Therefore, they do not have the right to the status of combatant or prisoner of war under international humanitarian law. They are not entitled to protection.

As for Pristina’s support for Kiev, the matter is clear. Kosovo, which is a criminal self-proclaimed quasi-state, does not care for international law. It only wants to take advantage of the situation to win recognition for its pseudo-independence and is posing as just about the main ally of the United States and NATO in the Balkans.

Our attitude to this is well known. We warned about the inadmissibility of pandering to Pristina’s unacceptable actions, and we have always called for settling the Kosovo issue in strict compliance with UN Security Resolution 1244. When the UN General Assembly gave the European Union the mandate to facilitate dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade in 2010, this raised our hopes. In 2013, the EU convinced Pristina and Belgrade to sign an agreement on the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo. It guaranteed the Serbs’ language and cultural rights, as well as their rights in local governments and their special relations with Serbia. However, the Community has not been established. When we remind our Western colleagues about this, they are embarrassed and say that “the matter is still on the table” and that efforts should continue to be taken to implement the decision. I believe that the EU has discredited itself as the guarantor of any agreements.

In February 2014, the EU guaranteed the agreement on a settlement in Ukraine between President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition. When the opposition overturned the agreements the following morning, the EU said nothing and only cited certain democratic processes.

In 2015, France and Germany signed, together with us, a document that is known now as the Minsk agreements. During the subsequent years, Kiev did nothing to implement that document. It said openly that it would not do it.

[Prime Minister of Kosovo] Albin Kurti has said that he would not implement the agreements on the Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo.

The EU, which guaranteed the implementation of all of the above documents, has failed completely. I am sure that it will not do anything to force Pristina to implement the documents co-signed by Europe. The EU and the United States will not place any pressure on Pristina on the issue of mercenaries. The United States is feeling just fine. It used the situation to establish Camp Bondsteel, the largest military base in the Balkans. Pristina has not questioned the need to keep that base and has instead indicated its interest in keeping it. I believe that Pristina will be forgiven for anything it does and will be allowed to do anything it wants.

Question: The ultimate goal of your special operation is not quite clear. Originally it was stated as denazification and protection of the people of Donbass. Today, it seems, at least from abroad, that this is not the only goal being pursued by Russia. Many Russians cannot say what these goals are. Some of them are unable to agree with the rationale for this conflict.

Sergey Lavrov: Each person has the right to choose and define his or her position with regard to some or other events that take place in their own country or in other states.

As for our aims, they are certainly about removing the threats that over these long eight years have caused thousands of deaths and the destruction of civilian facilities in Ukraine – schools, hospitals, plants, factories, etc. This is what the Ukrainian regime has been doing against the population of Donbass with the West’s tacit approval. If today the West is suddenly concerned about the need to respect international humanitarian law and save people’s lives, I will only welcome it, but they should act in such a way as to see the causes and roots of the situation we are facing now.

The root cause of the matter is that an effort was launched to transform Ukraine into an anti-Russia immediately after its independence, its withdrawal from the USSR. You can see it for yourself if you look at the Kiev regime’s lawmaking: its laws in effect ban the use of the Russian language and encourage the development of openly Nazi organisations.

The Nazi ideology and practices have deep roots in Ukrainian society. Officers from the “national volunteer battalions” have permeated Ukraine’s army and armed forces; they publicly preach Nazi ideas, calling on others to follow the behests of Adolf Eichmann, a person notorious for his role in Europe during the Nazi rule.   Even their symbols and tattoos reproduce the swastikas and emblems of the Nazi SS battalions.  If we want to abide by the European values, I do not think they can include this sort of ideology and practices. Europe must put an end to this, if it does not want to find itself once again in a situation where it will be inundated by this “wave,” be it brown or of any other colour that the neo-Nazis favour.

The whole thing is much more serious than just solving a single problem.  Russia cannot accept NATO’s plan to turn Ukraine into its outpost chock-full of offensive arms aimed at our territory. We cannot accept the West’s effort to encourage the eradication of all things Russian in Ukraine (language, culture, etc.). Where were our Western colleagues when Kiev banned the Russian media, TV channels, and not only printed matter but also books published in Russia? They shut down three Russian-language TV channels owned by Ukrainian citizens.

You have mentioned the fact that some Russian citizens cannot accept what is happening today and express their concern. But others – journalists, cultural figures, artists, and athletes – do not voice anything and just do their job. Ukraine puts hundreds of them on sanctions lists.  Yesterday, the Ukrainian regime blacklisted another 46 Russian cultural figures, artists, athletes and journalists. And everyone believes that this is normal. Being Russian in Europe today means running a tremendous risk of violence. There have already been such cases.

Our task is to ensure long-term security in Europe. This cannot be done without cutting off attempts to draw Ukraine into NATO, or without agreeing on security guarantees that will take into account the interests of Russia, Ukraine and European countries. We were confident of this when we tried (unfortunately, to no avail) to start a serious conversation with the United States and NATO in 2021 about providing security guarantees, including for Ukraine, without expanding the North Atlantic Alliance. Nobody would listen.

We have heard repeated promises that NATO would not continue to expand. For example, when it came to the unification of Germany, then the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist. They just lied to our face. When we reminded them about those promises, they said they had never made any. Later on, when we presented proof, they said, well, there might have been some verbal agreement – meaning they just said things to “calm us down,” because they had more important concerns – to ensure that the Soviet Union would “shut down” without any “consequences” for Europe.

When they decided everything had “calmed down,” it was time to get moving. Now they are saying we “should not be afraid” because “NATO is a defensive alliance.” So it was when it was created. But they continued to explain, “NATO is protecting its territory.” We knew where their territory was when there was the Berlin Wall – both concrete and imaginary – between the North Atlantic Alliance and the Warsaw Pact. But when the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union ceased to exist, NATO suddenly thought it wanted to “protect the territory” further east. Then it moved a little more to the east, and so on. What kind of defensive alliance is it that draws its own line of defence? Moreover, it keeps adding countries that no one was ever going to attack – actually, no one had ever even thought of threatening these countries.

Jens Stoltenberg (the Norwegian Central Bank is unlikely to have him back any time soon, as the Alliance has extended his term) declares that NATO should take responsibility for global security. This is where the line of defence is, and where democracy turns into autocracy and dictatorship. He says the alliance needs to increase its role in the vast Indo-Pacific region – that’s what they call the Asia-Pacific region, a direct allusion to the South China Sea. This is where their line of defence will be now.

We want NATO to return to sanity. We have reason to believe that Russia’s most serious concerns, having to do with our fundamental, legitimate interests, have finally been heard. They begin to understand now. If this is so, they will try to influence the Kiev regime, which listens to them, and in fact does everything the West tells them to. I hope that the Ukrainian negotiators will show a constructive approach, and at some stage, we will be able to achieve the desired result.

My colleague, UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss has actually confirmed with fantastic, amazing, naive frankness that those negotiators, like the Kiev regime itself, are not acting independently. She actually said they were assisting the Ukrainians in working out their negotiating position. Indeed, who knows the situation in our common region better than London? She went on to say they needed to continue to use the “hard lever” on Russia and “to double down on sanctions.” And when negotiations begin, the UK should be the country that will provide the necessary solutions. An amazing “revelation.” No need to comment.

I can see there are chances to reach an agreement. There is an understanding of the grossest mistakes our Western partners have been making for years. Although, for obvious reasons, they would hardly say this out loud.

Question: What do you think, wouldn’t Belgrade be a perfect place for the negotiations?

Sergey Lavrov: I believe Belgrade is a great city in terms of its position and status. It is quite suitable for talks at any level.

The venue for the negotiations must be acceptable to both teams. Three rounds of in-person talks were held in Belarus, followed by a break due to technical reasons. It was difficult to meet directly; therefore, we held several videoconferences. Now we have agreed to meet in Istanbul. It is a point on the map where both parties were able to arrive. We are ready to consider other locations, including Belgrade.

Question: These days Serbian people remember NATO bombings and many say that the reasoning President Vladimir Putin used to “attack” Ukraine is identical to the reasoning the alliance used in its aggression against Yugoslavia. What is your response to these claims?

Sergey Lavrov: Our Western colleagues are known for twisting facts without batting an eye or as much as a blush. They always want to justify their stance and demands by distorting the real picture.

We have already spoken about the February 2014 coup in Ukraine, when the settlement guarantees provided by the EU were trampled to pieces. The neo-Nazis who came to power immediately afterwards demanded revoking the status of the Russian language in Ukraine, getting out of Crimea, and sent combat units to Crimea to storm the Supreme Council. Only then did the Crimean people revolt against such attacks and held a referendum. Now, reviewing that period, the West starts its story not with the failure of the European Union, whose signature, apparently, meant nothing to the opposition that staged the coup, and not with the attacks on the Russian language and Russians committed by the putschists that came to power. The West begins the timeline of those events with what it calls an “annexation” of Crimea. The truth is it was not an annexation but a free expression of will that took place as a result of the coup staged with the support from the West. However, the West has crossed out those several weeks leading up to the referendum in Crimea, from history. They say Crimea was “annexed,” hence the sanctions, when in fact, they wanted to punish Russia for their own failures and inability to keep their promises.

For them, the timeline of everything that is happening in Ukraine right now begins on February 24, 2022, when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of a special military operation. The years of abuse targeting Russians, the Russian language and culture in Ukraine, ignoring Russia’s appeals to NATO and the United States about the fact that further “exploration” of the territories bordering the Russian Federation is unacceptable, direct calls to prevent Ukraine’s accession to NATO and to stop pumping Ukraine with weapons, building naval bases and, as it now turns out, biological warfare laboratories – nobody is talking about that. They claim that Russia started the operation against the Ukrainian state for no reason at all. What about the fact that the Ukrainian state could not care less about the Minsk agreements for eight years, bombing cities, towns and killing civilians? All this is now behind the line from which the West now marks off its angry and principled positioning.

I heard that President Vladimir Zelensky gave an interview to several Russian media outlets and, when asked about the biological warfare labs, he said it was all a lie and they did not exist. If the West is ready to buy into this kind of commentaries it means that our own experience with the modern Western politics will only be reaffirmed. There are multiple pages of documents that we submitted to the UN Security Council and President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky claims they are a lie.

To be continued…

Say hello to Russian gold and Chinese petroyuan

The Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union and China just agreed to design the mechanism for an independent financial and monetary system that would bypass dollar transactions.

March 15 2022

By Pepe Escobar

Russia says half its gold assets were frozen – is this for real or a slick play by Moscow?

Photo Credit: The Cradle

It was a long time coming, but finally some key lineaments of the multipolar world’s new foundations are being revealed.

On Friday, after a videoconference meeting, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and China agreed to design the mechanism for an independent international monetary and financial system. The EAEU consists of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia, is establishing free trade deals with other Eurasian nations, and is progressively interconnecting with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

For all practical purposes, the idea comes from Sergei Glazyev, Russia’s foremost independent economist, a former adviser to President Vladimir Putin and the Minister for Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasia Economic Commission, the regulatory body of the EAEU.

Glazyev’s central role in devising the new Russian and Eurasian economic/financial strategy has been examined here. He saw the western financial squeeze on Moscow coming light-years before others.

Quite diplomatically, Glazyev attributed the fruition of the idea to “the common challenges and risks associated with the global economic slowdown and restrictive measures against the EAEU states and China.”

Translation: as China is as much a Eurasian power as Russia, and they need to coordinate their strategies to bypass the US unipolar system.

The Eurasian system will be based on “a new international currency,” most probably with the yuan as reference, calculated as an index of the national currencies of the participating countries, as well as commodity prices. The first draft will be already discussed by the end of the month.

The Eurasian system is bound to become a serious alternative to the US dollar, as the EAEU may attract not only nations that have joined BRI (Kazakhstan, for instance, is a member of both) but also the leading players in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as well as ASEAN. West Asian actors – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon – will be inevitably interested.

In the medium to long term, the spread of the new system will translate into the weakening of the Bretton Woods system, which even serious US market players/strategists admit is rotten from the inside. The US dollar and imperial hegemony are facing stormy seas.

Show me that frozen gold

Meanwhile, Russia has a serious problem to tackle. This past weekend, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov confirmed that half of Russia’s gold and foreign reserves have been frozen by unilateral sanctions. It boggles the mind that Russian financial experts have placed a great deal of the nation’s wealth where it can be easily accessed – and even confiscated – by the ‘Empire of Lies’ (copyright Putin).

At first, it was not exactly clear what Siluanov had meant. How could the Central Bank’s Elvira Nabiulina and her team let half of foreign reserves and even gold be stored in Western banks and/or vaults? Or is this some sneaky diversionist tactic by Siluanov?

No one is better equipped to answer these questions than the inestimable Michael Hudson, author of the recent revised edition of Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of the American Empire.

Hudson was quite frank: “When I first heard the word ‘frozen,’ I thought that this meant that Russia was not going to expend its precious gold reserves on supporting the ruble, trying to fight against a Soros-style raid from the west. But now the word ‘frozen’ seems to have meant that Russia had sent it abroad, outside of its control.”

“It looks like at least as of last June, all Russian gold was kept in Russia itself. At the same time, it would have been natural to have kept securities and bank deposits in the United States and Britain, because that is where most intervention in world foreign exchange markets occurs,” Hudson added.

Essentially, it’s all still up in the air: “My first reading assumed that Russia must be doing something smart. If it was smart to move gold abroad, perhaps it was doing what other central banks do: ‘lend” it to speculators, for an interest payment or fee. Until Russia tells the world where its gold was put, and why, we can’t fathom it. Was it in the Bank of England – even after England confiscated Venezuela’s gold? Was it in the New York Fed – even after the Fed confiscated Afghanistan’s reserves?”

So far, there has been no extra clarification either from Siluanov or Nabiulina. Scenarios swirl about a string of deportations to northern  Siberia for national treason. Hudson adds important elements to the puzzle:

“If [the reserves] are frozen, why is Russia paying interest on its foreign debt falling due? It can direct the “freezer’ to pay, to shift the blame for default. It can talk about Chase Manhattan’s freezing of Iran’s bank account from which Iran sought to pay interest on its dollar-denominated debt. It can insist that any payments by NATO countries be settled in advance by physical gold. Or it can land paratroopers on the Bank of England, and recover gold – sort of like Goldfinger at Fort Knox. What is important is for Russia to explain what happened and how it was attacked, as a warning to other countries.”

As a clincher, Hudson could not but wink at Glazyev: “Maybe Russia should appoint a non-pro-westerner at the Central Bank.”

The petrodollar game-changer

It’s tempting to read into Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s words at the diplomatic summit in Antalya last Thursday as a veiled admission that Moscow may not have been totally prepared for the heavy financial artillery deployed by the Americans:

“We will solve the problem – and the solution will be to no longer depend on our western partners, be it governments or companies that are acting as tools of western political aggression against Russia instead of pursuing the interests of their businesses. We will make sure that we never again find ourselves in a similar situation and that neither some Uncle Sam nor anybody else can make decisions aimed at destroying our economy. We will find a way to eliminate this dependence. We should have done it long ago.”

So, ‘long ago’ starts now. And one of its planks will be the Eurasian financial system. Meanwhile, ‘the market’ (as in, the American speculative casino) has ‘judged’ (according to its self-made oracles) that Russian gold reserves – the ones that stayed in Russia – cannot support the ruble.

That’s not the issue – on several levels. The self-made oracles, brainwashed for decades, believe that the Hegemon dictates what ‘the market’ does. That’s mere propaganda. The crucial fact is that in the new, emerging paradigm, NATO nations amount to at best 15 percent of the world’s population. Russia won’t be forced to practice autarky because it does not need to: most of the world – as we’ve seen represented in the hefty non-sanctioning nation list – is ready to do business with Moscow.

Iran has shown how to do it. Persian Gulf traders confirmed to The Cradle that Iran is selling no less than 3 million barrels of oil a day even now, with no signed JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement, currently under negotiation in Vienna). Oil is re-labeled, smuggled, and transferred from tankers in the dead of night.

Another example: the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), a huge refiner, just bought 3 million barrels of Russian Urals from trader Vitol for delivery in May. There are no sanctions on Russian oil – at least not yet.

Washington’s reductionist, Mackinderesque plan is to manipulate Ukraine as a disposable pawn to go scorched-earth on Russia, and then hit China. Essentially, divide-and-rule to smash not only one but two peer competitors in Eurasia who are advancing in lockstep as comprehensive strategic partners.

As Hudson sees it: “China is in the cross-hairs, and what happened to Russia is a dress rehearsal for what can happen to China. Best to break sooner than later under these conditions. Because the leverage is highest now.”

All the blather about “crashing Russian markets,” ending foreign investment, destroying the ruble, a “full trade embargo,” expelling Russia from “the community of nations,” and so forth – that’s for the zombified galleries. Iran has been dealing with the same thing for four decades, and survived.

Historical poetic justice, as Lavrov intimated, now happens to rule that Russia and Iran are about to sign a very important agreement, which may likely be an equivalent of the Iran-China strategic partnership. The three main nodes of Eurasia integration are perfecting their interaction on the go, and sooner rather than later, may be utilizing a new, independent monetary and financial system.

But there’s more poetic justice on the way, revolving around the ultimate game-changer. And it came much sooner than we all thought.

Saudi Arabia is considering accepting Chinese yuan – and not US dollars – for selling oil to China. Translation: Beijing told Riyadh this is the new groove. The end of the petrodollar is at hand – and that is the certified nail in the coffin of the indispensable Hegemon.

Meanwhile, there’s a mystery to be solved: where is that frozen Russian gold?

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

The twists and turns of Erdogan’s foreign policy

A deeply NATO-entrenched Turkey is heading east, but not in the way you think. Erdogan’s ‘Asia Anew’ strategy is all about Turkic primacy, and will likely be at odds with Chinese and Russian-driven integration plans

February 14 2022

The ‘Sultan of Eurasia’ is planning a uniquely-Turkic eastward thrust into Asia, one that is unlikely to complement Eurasia-wide integrationPhoto Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

The information dropped like a Hellfire in the middle of a productive discussion with a group of top analysts in Istanbul: Across the Turkish establishment – from politicians to the military – over 90 percent are pro-NATO.

Eurasian ‘hopefuls’ in West Asia need to factor in this hard truth about Turkey’s oft-confusing foreign policies. The ‘Erdoganian neo-Ottomanism’ that runs through Turkey’s current ruling system is deeply colonized by a NATO psyche – which implies that any notion of real Turkish sovereignty may be severely overvalued.  

And that sheds new light on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s perennial geopolitical waffling between NATO and Eurasia.  

Let’s start with the mediation offered by Erdogan on the Russia-Ukraine drama, which for all practical purposes would mean a mediation between Russia and NATO.  

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu may not be the one dictating Ankara’s policy – my interlocutors stress that the man who really has Erdogan’s ears is his spokesman Ibrahim Kalin. Still, Cavusoglu’s latest talking points were quite intriguing:

  1. “Russian and Belarussian sources” told him there will be no “invasion” of Ukraine.
  2. The West “should be more careful” in making statements “about the allegedly possible ‘invasion’, as they lead to panic in Ukraine.”
  3. “We, as Turkey, are not a part of a conflict, war, problem, however, any tension affects us all, the economy, energy security, tourism.”    
  4. “We will have a phone conversation with [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov on Wednesday, [then] with [Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro] Kuleba. We will happily agree to mediate if both parties agree. We gladly agree to host a meeting of the Minsk trio.”
  5. “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin should not close the door. They [the Russians] don’t have a positive or negative answer.”

Ankara’s efforts in positioning itself as a mediator may be laudable, but what Cavusoglu cannot possibly admit in public is their futility.

As much as Ankara enjoys good relations with Kiev – Bayraktar TB2 drone sales included – the heart of the matter is not even between Russia and NATO; it’s between Moscow and Washington.

Moreover, Erdogan’s offer had already been sidelined by notorious opportunist – and totally out of his depth – Emmanuel Macron, via his meme-celebrated visit to Moscow, where he was politely but bluntly dismissed by Putin.

The Kremlin has been making it very clear, even before issuing its demands on security guarantees, that the only interlocutors that matter are the people in charge – as in the Russophobic/neocon/humanitarian-imperialist combo that remote controls the current president of the United States.     

How to “Make Turkey Great Again”

It will be a hard slog to “Make Turkey Great Again” in Washington, even if they’re both part of the NATO matrix. It’s one thing to inaugurate the $300 million Turkevi Center – or Turkish House – in Manhattan, near the UN headquarters, complete with a top-floor presidential suite for Erdogan. But entirely another thing for the Americans to allow him real sovereignty.

Still, whenever he’s snubbed, Erdogan always comes up with a thorny counter. If he is prevented from meeting the real players behind ‘Biden’ last September in New York and Washington, he can always announce, as he did, his intention to buy yet another batch of Russian S-400s which, irony of ironies, is a missile system designed to destroy NATO weaponry. As Erdogan then boldly proclaimed: “In the future, nobody will be able to interfere in terms of what kind of defense systems we acquire, from which country, at what level.”

Global South players, from West Asia and beyond, have been following with enormous interest (and trepidation) how Ankara, from a secular, well-behaved NATO semi-colony on the periphery of the EU eager to join the Brussels machine, turned into an Islamist-tinged regional hegemon – complete with supporting and weaponizing “moderate rebels” in Syria, dispatching military advisers to Libya, propelling Azerbaijan with armed drones to defeat Armenia, and last but not least, promoting their own, idiosyncratic version of Eurasian integration.

The trouble is how Turkey is supposed to pay for all this ambitious overreach – considering the dire state of its economy.

Quite a few Justice and Development Party (AKP) politicians in Ankara are avid promoters of a “Turkic world” that would stretch not only from the Caucasus to Central Asia but all the way to Yakutia, in Russia’s far east, and Xinjiang, in China’s far west. It isn’t hard to imagine how this is viewed in Moscow and Beijing.   

It was actually Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the ultra-right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), a top Erdogan ally, who presented a revised map of the Turkic world to the Turkish president.

The response by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, who happens to be a Turkologist, was priceless. At the time, he said that the heart of the Turkic world should be in the Altai mountains. That is, in Russia; not Turkey.

And that brings us to the Organization of Turkic States (OTS), the new denomination of the former Turkic Council, as approved by their 8th summit last November in Istanbul.

The OTS has five members (Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan) and two observers (Hungary and Turkmenistan). The secretary-general is a Kazakh diplomat, Baghdad Amreyev.

An initial visit to their lovely, salmon-colored historical palace in Sultanahmet – prior to an upcoming official conversation – establishes some much needed context. Among the dazzling Byzantine and Ottoman neighboring structures, we find the tomb of the last Ottoman Sultan, Abdulhamid II, who happens to be none other than Erdogan’s role model.

Depending on who you talk to – the largely AKP-controlled media or Kemalist intellectuals – Abdulhamid II is either a venerable religious leader fighting subversives and the Western colonial powers in the late 19th century or a retrograde, fanatical nutcase.

The OTS is an immensely intriguing organization. It brings together a NATO member with the second most-powerful army (Turkey); an EU member (Hungary, yet still an observer); two CSTO members, that is, states very close to Russia (Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan); and a supremely idiosyncratic, permanently-neutral gas superpower (Turkmenistan).  

Even at OTS headquarters they agree, smiles included, that no one outside Turkey knows about the real aims of the organization, which are loosely framed as investment in connectivity, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), green technologies and smart cities. Most of the investment would be supposed to come from Turkish companies.

Until recently, Erdogan was not exactly focused on the Turkic world in Central Asia – which was considered too secular from an Islamist point of view, or even worse, a bunch of dreaded crypto-Kemalists. The focus was on the US-defined MENA (Middle East/Northern Africa) region – which happened, historically, to include the key Ottoman lands.  

The record, of course, shows that these neo-Ottoman incursions did not go down so well in Muslim lands. Hence the spectacular re-entrance of Eurasia into Turkish foreign policy. It may sound swell in theory, but way more complicated in practice.  

Crisscrossing Eurasia

The OTS may be unified by language – but you won’t find many people speaking Turkish across Central Asia: they’re all about Russian.  

History and culture is a different story, and it goes something like this:

As Peskov correctly pointed out, the Turcophone peoples originally came from the Altai mountains – between Mongolia and Central Asia. Between the 7th and the 17th centuries, they were invested in a conquering migration drive in the opposite direction compared to Alexander The Great and his Hellenistic successors, the Seleucid kings and then the Arabs under Islam.

So, for a long time, we had a few ephemeral empires founded by Turkish dynasties and built essentially over Persian Sassanid structures, with an add-on by Turkmen groups, until the Ottomans, based on Byzantine structures, established an imperial system that lasted for no less than five centuries.

In terms of ancient connectivity, the route of the steppes lay more to the north of Eurasia – and was followed in the 13th century, with spectacular success, by Genghis Khan and his successors. We all know today that the Mongols built the very first, real Eurasia-wide empire. And in the process, they also took the southern route traveled by the Turks and Turkmen.

Just like the Persian, Greek and Arab empires, the Turkic and Mongol empires were bent on continental conquest. The main line of communication across Eurasia was always, in the precise definition by Toynbee, “the steppe and desert chains that cut across the belt of civilizations, from Sahara to Mongolia.”

Much like China’s recent revamp of the Silk Road concept, Erdogan – even as he’s not a reader and much less a historian – also has his own neo-Ottoman interpretation of what makes connectivity run.

Instinctively, to his credit, he seems to have understood how the conquering migration runs of the Turko-Mongols from Central Asia towards West Asia ended up shattering this huge zone of discontinuity, very hard to move around, between East Asia and Europe.   

The sun “rises again from the East”

Erdogan himself went no-Eurasia-holds-barred at the November summit of the OTS: “Inshallah, the sun will soon start to rise once again from the East.”

But that ‘East’ was very specific: “The Turkestan region, which had been the cradle of civilization for thousands of years, will once again be a center of attraction and enlightenment for the entirety of humanity.”

The mere mention of ‘Turkestan’ certainly sent shivers all across the Zhongnanhai in Beijing. At the OTS though, they assure the organization has absolutely no designs on Xinjiang: “It’s not a state. We unite Turkic states.”   

Much more relevant to the ground is the OTS drive towards “sustainable multimodal connectivity.”

Enter a twin strategy juxtaposing the Trans-Caspian East-West Middle Corridor Initiative – a trans-Eurasia link – and the Zangezur corridor, linking the South Caucasus to both Europe and Central Asia.

Zangezur is absolutely key for Ankara, because it allows for a direct link not only to its key OTS ally Azerbaijan but also to Turkic Central Asia. For the past three decades, this connectivity route happened to be blocked by Armenia. Not anymore. Still, a final agreement with Armenia is pending.   

In theory, the Chinese New Silk Roads – or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – and the Turkish Middle Corridor binding the Turkic world are complementary. Yet only (connectivity) facts on the ground will tell, in time.

The fact is, Turkey is already neck deep in a major connectivity drive. Take the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway connecting Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Ankara may not have anything nearly approaching the scale and scope of the BRI master road map, which plans all steps to 2049.

What has been designed is a Turkic World Vision – 2040, adopted at the OTS summit, with the Middle Corridor billed as “the shortest and safest transport link between East and West,” including a new special economic zone (SEZ) called Turan, in Kazakhstan, to be launched in 2022.  

This SEZ will be exclusively for OTS members and observers. The Turan steppe, significantly, is also considered by many in Turkey as the original home of Turkic peoples. It remains to be seen how Turan will interact with the Khorgos SEZ, at the Kazakh-Chinese border, an essential node of BRI. As it stands, the view that Ankara will pose a major systemic threat to Beijing in the long run are mere speculations.

The bottom line is that the OTS is part of a larger Erdogan initiative also not well known outside Turkey: Asia Anew. It’s this initiative that will be guiding Ankara’s expanding connections across Asia, with the OTS promoted as one among many “tools of regional cooperation.”

Whether Ankara can leverage this vastly ambitious strategic reading of geography and history to build a new sphere of influence depends on a lot of Turkish lira that the Erdogan coffers sorely lack.

Meanwhile, why not dream of becoming Sultan of Eurasia? Well, Abdulhamid II would never have thought that his future pupil would upstage him by going East – like Alexander The Great – and not West.

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

التحالف الصيني الروسي.. أين سوريا منه؟

السبت 12 فبراير 2022

المصدر: الميادين نت

أحمد الدرزي 

يرتبط مستقبل سوريا بنتيجة الصراع في أوكرانيا، فقد تتحول الضغوط المتبادَلة بين الأميركيين والروس، الذين يؤازرهم الصينيون، إلى الساحة السورية.

شكّلت الحرب على سوريا هاجساً للأمن القومي الروسي والصيني والإيراني، الأمر الذي دفع الدول الثلاث بعيداً في مواجهة مشروع الولايات المتحدة فيها.

روسيا: “نُعَوِّل على الصين من أجل فرض توازن القوى العالمي مع واشنطن وأوروبا”.

لم يكن الرابع من شباط/فبراير لهذا العام يوماً عادياً، ففيه وقّع الرئيسان شي جين بينغ وفلاديمير بوتين على اتفاق التحدّي، وأظهرا للعالم أجمع أن شراكتهما أبعد كثيراً من مصطلح الحلف، وأقل من الاندماج، فتردّد صداه في كل العواصم، بما في ذلك دمشق، التي أُصيبت بالإرهاق، وهي تصارع ذاتها والعالم، من أجل الخروج من مأزقها الداخلي، الذي لا ينفصل عن الخارج، وتنتظر انعكاس هذا الصدى عليها.

تخوض الصين وروسيا، مشتركتَين، صراعاً متدرجاً مع النظام العالمي القطبي الوحيد، والذي تَشكَّلَ بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوڤياتي، فكانت الشراكة الاستراتيجية الجديدة عام 1996، والتي لم تعطِ تصوراً حقيقياً عن مدى التهديدات، التي يمكن لهذه الشراكة أن تسببها لواشنطن.

كان للحرب على سوريا، موقعاً وتاريخاً، دورٌ أساسيٌّ في إظهار حجم العلاقة بين الطرفين، بعد يقين الدولتين بأنهما المُستهدفَتان الأساسيتان لـ”ثورات الربيع العربي”، بالإضافة إلى إيران التي تشكل القوة العسكرية الصادمة في غربي آسيا، والتي عملت عليها الإدارات الأميركية المتلاحقة، الأمر الذي دفعهما إلى التصدي السياسي للحرب، عبر منع إعطاء مظلة شرعية دولية في مجلس الأمن، للتدخل العسكري المباشر في سوريا، كما حدث في ليبيا.

وفَّر التآزر السياسي الروسي الصيني، في الحرب السورية، فرصة كبيرة لروسيا والصين من أجل إخراج البعد الحقيقي لطبيعة الشراكة بينهما إلى العلن، لكن البُعد العسكري كان منوطاً بإيران وروسيا بصورة متتالية، فدخلت إيران وحزب الله وقوى عراقية أولاً، ثم شاركت روسيا في نهاية أيلول/سبتمبر 2015.

شكّلت الحرب في سوريا هاجساً للأمن القومي الروسي الصيني الإيراني، الأمر الذي دفع الدول الثلاث بعيداً في مواجهة مشروع الولايات المتحدة فيها، كما أنها شكلت فرصة للأطراف الثلاثة، وخصوصاً بالنسبة إلى موسكو، التي عملت على مدى أكثر من قرنين من أجل الوصول إلى المياه الدافئة، وهذا ما حققته بعد توسيع مطار حميميم، وتحويل أغلبيته إلى قاعدة عسكرية جوية، في مواجهة قاعدة أنجرليك للناتو في تركيا، بالإضافة إلى القاعدة العسكرية البحرية في طرطوس.

فرض الدور العسكري الروسي المباشِر نفسه على طبيعة الاتفاق مع الصين، التي أحجمت عن التدخل العسكري، نتيجةً لاستراتيجيتها المبنية على استراتيجية دفاعية فقط، الأمر الذي فرض معادلة بين الطرفين، تكون فيها موسكو صاحبة الدور الأساس، وتحتاج بكين إلى التوافق مع موسكو في تحقيق مشروعها “مبادرة الحزام والطريق”.

تغيّرت أحوال الدولتين مع عودة الديمقراطيين إلى البيت الأبيض، وظهرت عدوانية أميركا الكبيرة في طريقة التعاطي العدواني مع روسيا، في الدرجة الأولى، ومع الصين المؤجَّلة إلى المرحلة التالية، في الدرجة الثانية. ولمس الطرفان هذا التحول من خلال محاولات واشنطن تحريك الثورات الملوَّنة في هونغ كونغ وفي موسكو. وبعد الفشل، تحوّلت إلى سياسات عدوانية جديدة، عبر إنشاء تحالف عسكري جديد، “أوكوس”، ضد الصين، ومحاولة ضم أوكرانيا إلى حلف الناتو.

تشكّل كل من تايوان وأوكرانيا أولوية قصوى لكل دولة، فتايوان لا تزال تشكل تهديداً مستمراً للصين، بحكم الوجود الأميركي الذرائعي فيها، من أجل منع عودتها إلى الوطن الأم من جهة، وتهديد الممر البحري الفاصل بينهما، والذي يشكّل عصباً للتجارة البحرية. كما أن بكين لا يمكنها التنازل عن تايوان، لأن هذا أمر يمس سيادتها وعنوان وحدتها الكاملة، بالإضافة إلى ما تشكله تايوان من إضافة مهمة جداً إلى التكنولوجيا الصينية، باستحواذها على أهم المعامل المنتجة للمعالِجات، وخصوصاً بعد العقوبات الأميركية على الصين.

وتشكل أوكرانيا الملف الأهم في الاستراتيجية الروسية، وهي أولوية قصوى لها، وخصوصاً إذا استطاعت واشنطن ضمّها إلى حلف الناتو، بالإضافة إلى أهميتها التاريخية، والتي لا تنفصل عن التاريخ الروسي الإمبراطوري. وهي واقعاً أساس روسيا التاريخية، ولا تزال في الوجدان الروسي جزءاً من روسيا.

أولوية الملفين لكِلا البلدين تدفعهما إلى التعاطي مع سائر الملفات من موقع ساحات الصراع المتعددة. فالنظام الدولي الجديد، والذي تم إعلانه من بكين، لا يمكن له أن يثبّت قدميه واقعاً إلاّ بعودة تايوان إلى الصين، وخروج الولايات المتحدة من بحر الصين والمحيط الهادي، وبالتوازي بعودة أوكرانيا إلى روسيا، أو عزلها عن البحر الأسود، وإفقادها دور الخاصرة الرخوة، وإقرار الولايات المتحدة وأوروبا بهواجس الأمن القومي الروسي، ليس في أوكرانيا فقط، بل في كل أوروبا الشرقية.

يرتبط مستقبل سوريا، في الدرجة الأولى، بنتيجة الصراع في أوكرانيا، فقد تتحول الضغوط المتبادَلة بين الأميركيين والروس، الذين يؤازرهم الصينيون، إلى الساحة السورية. ومن الصعب على واشنطن أن تخسر معركة أوكرانيا، ففي ذلك فقدانها استمرارها قطباً وحيداً، بالإضافة إلى تراجع موثوقيتها لدى من يدور في فلكها، وخصوصاً بعد خروجها المُذِلّ من أفغانستان، وما قد يترك من آثار في النظام المالي العالمي المرتبط بالدولار. 

كما أن موسكو لا يمكن أن تتراجع عن مطالباتها، ففي ذلك هزيمة قد تنعكس على مجمل إنجازاتها، بعد عودتها إلى المسرح الدولي، ولها مصلحة الآن مع الصين في إخراج الأميركيين من سوريا، الأمر الذي يتيح التواصل البري من شانغهاي إلى شرقي المتوسط.

يبقى الوضع السوري هو الأصعب في منطقة غربي آسيا، وربما في العالم أجمع، وهو غير قابل للحل في المدى القريب، إلاّ إذا تغيَّرت معطيات الصراع، دولياً وإقليمياً، خلال الأشهر والسنوات المقبلة، وخصوصاً إذا تمت العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي، الذي سيترك آثاره الإيجابية في كل المنطقة، لكن من دون الوصول إلى مرحلة الاستقرار والنهوض. والأمر يتطلب التعاطي مع المبادرة الصينية تجاه سوريا بجدية أكبر وبرؤية مغايرة، وخصوصاً أن التفاهم الروسي الصيني بشأن طريقة التعاطي مع سوريا سقط، مع توقيع اتفاق شراكة المواجهة مع الولايات المتحدة وأوروبا، والاندفاعة الصينية المباشِرة نحو دمشق، والعمل على تنفيذ مذكِّرات التفاهم بين البلدين. فالصين هي الوحيدة التي تمتلك الهامشين الاقتصادي والتكنولوجي، القادرين على إنقاذ سوريا من تداعيات تدهور الوضع الاقتصادي غير المُحتمَل للسوريين، بمساعدة إيرانية، وقبول روسي. فهل تندفع دمشق نحو تسهيل الحضور الصيني، من خلال إجراءات تشريعية واقتصادية مغايرة لكل المرحلة السابقة؟    

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Bouthaina Shaaban: ‘US Working With ISIS to Partition Syria!’


We speak to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s political advisor Bouthaina Shaaban. She alleges that the US has been working with ISIS to demographically change Syria and make way for a Syrian Kurdistan, the US’ theft of Syrian oil and natural resources, Israeli bombing of Syria, Syria’s inclusion into China’s Belt and Road Initiative and much more.

“Do You Want a War Between Russia and NATO?”

February 09, 2022


By Pepe Escobar,

ISTANBUL – Emmanuel Macron is no Talleyrand. Self-promoted as “Jupiterian”, he may have finally got down to earth for a proper realpolitik insight while ruminating one of the former French Minister of Foreign Affairs key bon mots: “A diplomat who says ‘yes’ means ‘maybe’, a diplomat who says ‘maybe’ means ‘no’, and a diplomat who says ‘no’ is no diplomat.”

Mr. Macron went to Moscow to see Mr. Putin with a simple 4-stage plan in mind. 1. Clinch a wide-ranging deal with Putin on Ukraine, thus stopping  “Russian aggression”. 2. Bask in the glow as the West’s Peacemaker. 3. Raise the EU’s tawdry profile, as he’s the current president of the EU Council. 4. Collect all the spoils then bag the April presidential election in France.

Considering he all but begged for an audience in a flurry of phone calls, Macron was received by Putin with no special honors. Comic relief was provided by French mainstream media hysterics, “military strategists” included, evoking the “French castle” sketch in Monty Python’s Holy Grail while reaffirming every stereotype available about  “cowardly frogs”. Their “analysis”: Putin is “isolated” and wants “the military option”. Their top intel source: Bezos-owned CIA rag The Washington Post.

Still, it was fascinating to watch – oh, that loooooong table in the Kremlin: the only EU leader who took the trouble to actually listen to Putin was the one who, months ago, pronounced NATO as “brain-dead”. So the ghosts of Charles de Gaulle and Talleyrand did seem to have engaged in a lively chat, framed by raw economics, finally imprinting on the “Jupiterian” that the imperial obsession on preventing Europe by all means from profiting from wider trade with Eurasia is a losing game.

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After a strenuous six hours of discussions Putin, predictably, monopolized the eminently quotable department, starting with one that will be reverberating all across the Global South for a long time: “Citizens of Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia have seen how peaceful is NATO.”

There’s more. The already iconic  Do you want a war between Russia and NATO? – followed by the ominous  “there will be no winners”. Or take this one, on Maidan: “Since February 2014, Russia has considered a coup d’état to be the source of power in Ukraine. This is a bad sandbox, we don’t like this kind of game.”

On the Minsk agreements, the message was blunt: “The President of Ukraine has said that he does not like any of the clauses of the Minsk agreements. Like it, or not – be patient, my beauty. They must be fulfilled.”

The “real issue behind the present crisis”

Macron for his part stressed, “new mechanisms are needed to ensure stability in Europe, but not by revising existing agreements, perhaps new security solutions would be innovative.” So nothing that Moscow had not stressed before. He added, “France and Russia have agreed to work together on security guarantees.” The operative term is “France”. Not the non-agreement capable United States government.

Anglo-American spin insisted that Putin had agreed not to launch new “military initiatives” – while keeping mum on what Macron promised in return. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not confirm any agreement. He only said that the Kremlin will engage with Macron’s dialogue proposals, “provided that the United States also agrees with them.” And for that, as everyone knows, there’s no guarantee.

The Kremlin has been stressing for months that Russia has no interest whatsoever in invading de facto black hole Ukraine. And Russian troops will return to their bases after exercises are over. None of this has anything to do with “concessions” by Putin.

And then came the bombshell: French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire – the inspiration for one of the main characters in Michel Houellebecq’s cracking new book, Anéantir – said that the launch of Nord Stream 2 “is one of the main components of de-escalating tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border.” Gallic flair formulated out loud what no German had the balls to say.

In Kiev, after his stint in Moscow, it looks like Macron properly told Zelensky which way the wind blows now. Zelensky hastily confirmed Ukraine is ready to implement the Minsk agreements; it never was, for seven long years. He also said he expects to hold a summit in the Normandy format – Kiev, the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, Germany and France – “in the near future”. A meeting of Normandy format political advisers will happen in Berlin on Thursday.

Way back in August 2020, I was already pointing to which way we were heading in the master chessboard. A few sharp minds in the Beltway, emailing their networks, did notice in my column how “the goal of Russian and Chinese policy is to recruit Germany into a triple alliance locking together the Eurasian land mass a la Mackinder into the greatest geopolitical alliance in history, switching world power in favor of these three great powers against Anglo-Saxon sea power.”

Now, a very high-level Deep State intel source, retired, comes down to the nitty gritty, pointing out how “the secret negotiations between Russia and the US center around missiles going into Eastern Europe, as the US frantically drives for completing its development of hypersonic missiles.”

The main point is that if the US places such hypersonic missiles in Romania and Poland, as planned, the time for them to reach Moscow would be 1/10 the time of a Tomahawk. It’s even worse for Russia if they are placed in the Baltics. The source notes, “the US plan is to neutralize the more advanced defensive missile systems that seal Russia’s airspace. This is why the US has offered to allow Russia to inspect these missile sites in the future, to prove that there are no hypersonic nuclear missiles. Yet that’s not a solution, as the Raytheon missile launchers can handle both offensive and defensive missiles, so it’s possible to sneak in the offensive missiles at night. Thus everything requires continuous observation.”

The bottom line is stark: “This is the real issue behind the present crisis. The only solution is no missile sites allowed in Eastern Europe.” That happens to be an essential part of Russia’s demands for security guarantees.

Sailing to Byzantium

Alastair Crooke has demonstrated how “the West slowly is discovering that that it has no pressure point versus Russia (its economy being relatively sanctions-proof), and its military is no match for that of Russia’s.”

In parallel, Michael Hudson has conclusively shown how “the threat to US dominance is that China, Russia and Mackinder’s Eurasian World Island heartland are offering better trade and investment opportunities than are available from the United States with its increasingly desperate demand for sacrifices from its NATO and other allies.”

Quite a few of us, independent analysts from both the Global North and South, have been stressing non-stop for years that the pop Gotterdammerung in progress hinges on the end of American geopolitical control over Eurasia. Occupied Germany and Japan enforcing the strategic submission of Eurasia from the west down to the east; the ever-expanding NATO; the ever de-multiplied Empire of Bases, all the lineaments of the 75-year-plus free lunch are collapsing.

The new groove is set to the tune of the New Silk Roads, or BRI; Russia’s unmatched hypersonic power – and now the non-negotiable demands for security guarantees; the advent of RCEP – the largest free trade deal on the planet uniting East Asia; the Empire all but expelled from Central Asia after the Afghan humiliation; and sooner rather than later its expulsion from the first island chain in the Western Pacific, complete with a starring role for the Chinese DF-21D “carrier killer” missiles.

The Ray McGovern-coined MICIMATT (military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-academia-think tank complex) was not capable to muster the collective IQ to even begin to understand the terms of the Russia-China joint statement issued on an already historic February 4, 2022. Some in Europe actually did – arguably located in the Elysée Palace.

This enlightened unpacking focuses on the interconnection of some key formulations, such as “relations between Russia and China superior to political and military alliances of the Cold War era” and “friendship which shows no limits”: the strategic partnership, for all its challenges ahead, is way more complex than a mere “treaty” or “agreement”. Without deeper understanding of Chinese and Russian civilizations, and their way of thinking, Westerners simply are not equipped to get it.

In the end, if we manage to escape so much Western doom and gloom, we might end up navigating a warped remix of Yeats’ Sailing to Byzantium. We may always dream of the best and the brightest in Europe finally sailing away from the iron grip of tawdry imperial Exceptionalistan:

“Once out of nature I shall never take / My bodily form from any natural thing, / But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make / Of hammered gold and gold enameling / To keep a drowsy Emperor awake; / Or set upon a golden bough to sing /To lords and ladies of Byzantium / Of what is past, or passing, or to come.”

America’s real adversaries are its European and other allies: The U.S. aim is to keep them from trading with China and Russia

February 08, 2022

By Michael Hudson

The Iron Curtain of the 1940s and ‘50s was ostensibly designed to isolate Russia from Western Europe – to keep out Communist ideology and military penetration. Today’s sanctions regime is aimed inward, to prevent America’s NATO and other Western allies from opening up more trade and investment with Russia and China. The aim is not so much to isolate Russia and China as to hold these allies firmly within America’s own economic orbit. Allies are to forego the benefits of importing Russian gas and Chinese products, buying much higher-priced U.S. LNG and other exports, capped by more U.S. arms.

The sanctions that U.S. diplomats are insisting that their allies impose against trade with Russia and China are aimed ostensibly at deterring a military buildup. But such a buildup cannot really be the main Russian and Chinese concern. They have much more to gain by offering mutual economic benefits to the West. So the underlying question is whether Europe will find its advantage in replacing U.S. exports with Russian and Chinese supplies and the associated mutual economic linkages.

What worries American diplomats is that Germany, other NATO nations and countries along the Belt and Road route understand the gains that can be made by opening up peaceful trade and investment. If there is no Russian or Chinese plan to invade or bomb them, what is the need for NATO? What is the need for such heavy purchases of U.S. military hardware by America’s affluent allies? And if there is no inherently adversarial relationship, why do foreign countries need to sacrifice their own trade and financial interests by relying exclusively on U.S. exporters and investors?

These are the concerns that have prompted French Prime Minister Macron to call forth the ghost of Charles de Gaulle and urge Europe to turn away from what he calls NATO’s “brain-dead” Cold War and beak with the pro-U.S. trade arrangements that are imposing rising costs on Europe while denying it potential gains from trade with Eurasia. Even Germany is balking at demands that it freeze by this coming March by going without Russian gas.

Instead of a real military threat from Russia and China, the problem for American strategists is the absence of such a threat. All countries have come to realize that the world has reached a point at which no industrial economy has the manpower and political ability to mobilize a standing army of the size that would be needed to invade or even wage a major battle with a significant adversary. That political cost makes it uneconomic for Russia to retaliate against NATO adventurism prodding at its western border trying to incite a military response. It’s just not worth taking over Ukraine.

America’s rising pressure on its allies threatens to drive them out of the U.S. orbit. For over 75 years they had little practical alternative to U.S. hegemony. But that is now changing. America no longer has the monetary power and seemingly chronic trade and balance-of-payments surplus that enabled it to draw up the world’s trade and investment rules in 1944-45. The threat to U.S. dominance is that China, Russia and Mackinder’s Eurasian World Island heartland are offering better trade and investment opportunities than are available from the United States with its increasingly desperate demand for sacrifices from its NATO and other allies.

The most glaring example is the U.S. drive to block Germany from authorizing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to obtain Russian gas for the coming cold weather. Angela Merkel agreed with Donald Trump to spend $1 billion building a new LNG port to become more dependent on highly priced U.S. LNG. (The plan was cancelled after the U.S. and German elections changed both leaders.) But Germany has no other way of heating many of its houses and office buildings (or supplying its fertilizer companies) than with Russian gas.

The only way left for U.S. diplomats to block European purchases is to goad Russia into a military response and then claim that avenging this response outweighs any purely national economic interest. As hawkish Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, explained in a State Department press briefing on January 27: “If Russia invades Ukraine one way or another Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.”[1] The problem is to create a suitably offensive incident and depict Russia as the aggressor.

Nuland expressed who was dictating the policies of NATO members succinctly in 2014: “Fuck the EU.” That was said as she told the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine that the State Department was backing the puppet Arseniy Yatsenyuk as Ukrainian prime minister (removed after two years in a corruption scandal), and U.S. political agencies backed the bloody Maidan massacre that ushered in what are now eight years of civil war. The result devastated Ukraine much as U.S. violence had done in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. This is not a policy of world peace or democracy that European voters endorse.

U.S. trade sanctions imposed on its NATO allies extend across the trade spectrum. Austerity-ridden Lithuania gave up its cheese and agricultural market in Russia, and is blocking its state-owned railroad from carrying Belarus potash to the Baltic port of Klaipeda. The port’s majority owner complained that “Lithuania will lose hundreds of millions of dollars from halting Belarus exports through Klaipeda,” and “could face legal claims of $15 billion over broken contracts.”[2] Lithuania has even agreed to U.S. prompting to recognize Taiwan, resulting in China refusing to import German or other products that include Lithuanian-made components.

Europe is to impose sanctions at the cost of rising energy and agricultural prices by giving priority to imports from the United States and foregoing Russian, Belarusian and other linkages outside of the Dollar Area. As Sergey Lavrov put matters: “When the United States thinks that something suits its interests, it can betray those with whom it was friendly, with whom it cooperated and who catered to its positions around the world.”[3]

America’s sanctions on its allies hurt their economies, not those of Russia and China

What seems ironic is that such sanctions against Russia and China have ended up helping rather than hurting them. But the primary aim was not to hurt nor to help the Russian and Chinese economies. After all, it is axiomatic that sanctions force the targeted countries to become more self-reliant. Deprived of Lithuanian cheese, Russian producers have produced their own, and no longer need to import it from the Baltic states. America’s underlying economic rivalry is aimed at keeping European and its allied Asian countries in its own increasingly protected economic orbit. Germany, Lithuania and other allies are told to impose sanctions directed against their own economic welfare by not trading with countries outside the U.S. dollar-area orbit.

Quite apart from the threat of actual war resulting from U.S. bellicosity, the cost to America’s allies of surrendering to U.S. trade and investment demands is becoming so high as to be politically unaffordable. For nearly a century there has been little alternative but to agree to trade and investment rules favoring the U.S. economy as the price of receiving U.S. financial and trade support and even military security. But an alternative is now threatening to emerge – one offering benefits from China’s Belt and Road initiative, and from Russia’s desire for foreign investment to help modernize its industrial organization, as seemed to be promised thirty years ago in 1991.

Ever since the closing years of World War II, U.S. diplomacy has aimed at locking Britain, France, and especially defeated Germany and Japan, into becoming U.S. economic and military dependencies. As I documented in Super Imperialism, American diplomats broke up the British Empire and absorbed its Sterling Area by the onerous terms imposed first by Lend-Lease and then the Anglo-American Loan Agreement of 1946. The latter’s terms obliged Britain to give up its Imperial Preference policy and unblock the sterling balances that India and other colonies had accumulated for their raw-materials exports during the war, thus opening the British Commonwealth to U.S. exports.

Britain committed itself not to recover its prewar markets by devaluing sterling. U.S. diplomats then created the IMF and World Bank on terms that promoted U.S. export markets and deterred competition from Britain and other former rivals. Debates in the House of Lords and the House of Commons showed that British politicians recognized that they were being consigned to a subservient economic position, but felt that they had no alternative. And once they gave up, U.S. diplomats had a free hand in confronting the rest of Europe.

Financial power has enabled America to continue dominating Western diplomacy despite being forced off gold in 1971 as a result of the balance-of-payments costs of its overseas military spending. For the past half-century, foreign countries have kept their international monetary reserves in U.S. dollars – mainly in U.S. Treasury securities, U.S. bank accounts and other financial investments in the U.S. economy. The Treasury-bill standard obliges foreign central banks to finance America’s military-based balance-of-payments deficit – and in the process, the domestic government budget deficit.

The United States does not need this recycling to create money. The government can simply print money, as MMT has demonstrated. But the United States does need this foreign central bank dollar recycling to balance its international payments and support the dollar’s exchange rate. If the dollar were to decline, foreign countries would find it much easier to pay international dollar-debts in their own currencies. U.S. import prices would rise, and it would be more costly for U.S. investors to buy foreign assets. And foreigners would lose money on U.S. stocks and bonds as denominated in their own currencies, and would drop them. Central banks in particular would take a loss on the Treasury’s dollar bonds that they hold in their monetary reserves – and would find their interest to lie in moving out of the dollar. So the U.S. balance of payments and exchange rate are both threatened by U.S. belligerency and military spending throughout the world – yet its diplomats are trying to stabilize matters by ramping up the military threat to crisis levels.

U.S. drives to keep its European and East Asian protectorates locked into its own sphere of influence is threatened by the emergence of China and Russia independently of the United States while the U.S. economy is de-industrializing as a result of its own deliberate policy choices. The industrial dynamic that made the United States so dominant from the late 19th century up to the 1970s has given way to an evangelistic neoliberal financialization. That is why U.S. diplomats need to arm-twist their allies to block their economic relations with post-Soviet Russia and socialist China, whose growth is outstripping that of the United States and whose trade arrangements offer more opportunities for mutual gain.

At issue is how long the United States can block its allies from taking advantage of China’s economic growth. Will Germany, France and other NATO countries seek prosperity for themselves instead of letting the U.S. dollar standard and trade preferences siphon off their economic surplus?

Oil diplomacy and America’s dream for post-Soviet Russia

The expectation of Gorbachev and other Russian officials in 1991 was that their economy would turn to the West for reorganization along the lines that had made the U.S., German and other economies so prosperous. The mutual expectation in Russia and Western Europe was for German, French and other investors to restructure the post-Soviet economy along more efficient lines.

That was not the U.S. plan. When Senator John McCain called Russia “a gas station with atom bombs,” that was America’s dream for what they wanted Russia to be – with Russia’s gas companies passing into control by U.S. stockholders, starting with the planned buyout of Yukos as arranged with Mikhail Khordokovsky. The last thing that U.S. strategists wanted to see was a thriving revived Russia. U.S. advisors sought to privatize Russia’s natural resources and other non-industrial assets, by turning them over to kleptocrats who could “cash out” on the value of what they had privatized only by selling to U.S. and other foreign investors for hard currency. The result was a neoliberal economic and demographic collapse throughout the post-Soviet states.

In some ways, America has been turning itself into its own version of a gas station with atom bombs (and arms exports). U.S. oil diplomacy aims to control the world’s oil trade so that its enormous profits will accrue to the major U.S. oil companies. It was to keep Iranian oil in the hands of British Petroleum that the CIA’s Kermit Roosevelt worked with British Petroleum’s Anglo-Persian Oil Company to overthrow Iran’s elected leader Mohammed Mossadegh in 1954 when he sought to nationalize the company after it refused decade after decade to perform its promised contributions to the economy. After installing the Shah whose democracy was based on a vicious police state, Iran threatened once again to act as the master of its own oil resources. So it was once again confronted with U.S.-sponsored sanctions, which remain in effect today. The aim of such sanctions is to keep the world oil trade firmly under U.S. control, because oil is energy and energy is the key to productivity and real GDP.

In cases where foreign governments such as Saudi Arabia and neighboring Arab petrostates have taken control, the export earnings of their oil are to be deposited in U.S. financial markets to support the dollar’s exchange rate and U.S. financial domination. When they quadrupled their oil prices in 1973-74 (in response to the U.S. quadrupling of its grain-export prices), the U.S. State Department laid down the law and told Saudi Arabia that it could charge as much as it wanted for its oil (thereby raising the price umbrella for U.S. oil producers), but it had to recycle its oil-export earnings to the United States in dollar-denominated securities – mainly in U.S. Treasury securities and U.S. bank accounts, along with some minority holdings of U.S. stocks and bonds (but only as passive investors, not using this financial power to control corporate policy).

The second mode of recycling oil-export earnings was to buy U.S. arms exports, with Saudi Arabia becoming one of the military-industrial complex’s largest customers. U.S. arms production actually is not primarily military in character. As the world is now seeing in the kerfuffle over Ukraine, America does not have a fighting army. What it has is what used to be called an “eating army.” U.S. arms production employs labor and produces weaponry as a kind of prestige good for governments to show off, not for actual fighting. Like most luxury goods, the markup is very high. That is the essence of high fashion and style, after all. The MIC uses its profits to subsidize U.S. civilian production in a way that does not violate the letter of international trade laws against government subsidy.

Sometimes, of course, military force is indeed used. In Iraq, first George W. Bush and then Barack Obama used the military to seize the country’ oil reserves, along with those of Syria and Libya. Control of world oil has been the buttress of America’s balance of payments. Despite the global drive to slow the planet’s warming, U.S. officials continue to view oil as the key to America’s economic supremacy. That is why the U.S. military is still refusing to obey Iraq’s orders to leave their country, keeping its troops in control of Iraqi oil, and why it agreed with the French to destroy Libya and still has troops in the oilfields of Syria. Closer to home, President Biden has approved offshore drilling and supports Canada’s expansion of its Athabasca tar sands, environmentally the dirtiest oil in the world.

Along with oil and food exports, arms exports support the Treasury-bill standard’s financing of America’s overseas military spending on its 750 bases abroad. But without a standing enemy constantly threatening at the gates, NATO’s existence falls apart. What would be the need for countries to buy submarines, aircraft carriers, airplanes, tanks, missiles and other arms?

As the United States has de-industrialized, its trade and balance-of-payments deficit is becoming more problematic. It needs arms export sales to help reduce its widening trade deficit and also to subsidize its commercial aircraft and related civilian sectors. The challenge is how to maintain its prosperity and world dominance as it de-industrializes while economic growth is surging ahead in China and now even Russia.

America has lost its industrial cost advantage by the sharp rise in its cost of living and doing business in its financialized post-industrial rentier economy. Additionally, as Seymour Melman explained in the 1970s, Pentagon capitalism is based on cost-plus contracts: The higher military hardware costs, the more profit its manufacturers receive. So U.S. arms are over-engineered – hence, the $500 toilet seats instead of a $50 model. The main attractiveness of luxury goods after all, including military hardware, is their high price.

This is the background for U.S. fury at its failure to seize Russia’s oil resources – and at seeing Russia also break free militarily to create its own arms exports, which now are typically better and much less costly than those of the U.S. Today Russia is in the position of Iran in 1954 and again in 1979. Not only do its oil sales rival those of U.S. LNG, but Russia keeps its oil-export earnings at home to finance its re-industrialization, so as to rebuild the economy that was destroyed by the U.S.-sponsored shock “therapy” of the 1990s.

The line of least resistance for U.S. strategy seeking to maintain control of the world’s oil supply while maintaining its luxury-arms export market via NATO is to Cry Wolf and insist that Russia is on the verge of invading Ukraine – as if Russia had anything to gain by quagmire warfare over Europe’s poorest and least productive economy. The winter of 2021-22 has seen a long attempt at U.S. prodding of NATO and Russia to fight – without success.

U.S. dreams of a neoliberalized China as a U.S. corporate affiliate

America has de-industrialized as a deliberate policy of slashing production costs as its manufacturing companies have sought low-wage labor abroad, most notably in China. This shift was not a rivalry with China, but was viewed as mutual gain. American banks and investors were expected to secure control and the profits of Chinese industry as it was marketized. The rivalry was between U.S. employers and U.S. labor, and the class-war weapon was offshoring and, in the process, cutting back government social spending.

Similar to the Russian pursuit of oil, arms and agricultural trade independent of U.S. control, China’s offense is keeping the profits of its industrialization at home, retaining state ownership of significant corporations and, most of all, keeping money creation and the Bank of China as a public utility to fund its own capital formation instead of letting U.S. banks and brokerage houses provide its financing and siphon off its surplus in the form of interest, dividends and management fees. The one saving grace to U.S. corporate planners has been China’s role in deterring U.S. wages from rising by providing a source of low-priced labor to enable American manufacturers to offshore and outsource their production.

The Democratic Party’s class war against unionized labor started in the Carter Administration and greatly accelerated when Bill Clinton opened the southern border with NAFTA. A string of maquiladoras were established along the border to supply low-priced handicraft labor. This became so successful a corporate profit center that Clinton pressed to admit China into the World Trade Organization in December 2001, in the closing month of his administration. The dream was for it to become a profit center for U.S. investors, producing for U.S. companies and financing its capital investment (and housing and government spending too, it was hoped) by borrowing U.S. dollars and organizing its industry in a stock market that, like that of Russia in 1994-96, would become a leading provider of finance-capital gains for U.S. and other foreign investors.

Walmart, Apple and many other U.S. companies organized production facilities in China, which necessarily involved technology transfers and creation of an efficient infrastructure for export trade. Goldman Sachs led the financial incursion, and helped China’s stock market soar. All this was what America had been urging.

Where did America’s neoliberal Cold War dream go wrong? For starters, China did not follow the World Bank’s policy of steering governments to borrow in dollars to hire U.S. engineering firms to provide export infrastructure. It industrialized in much the same way that the United States and Germany did in the late 19th century: By heavy public investment in infrastructure to provide basic needs at subsidized prices or freely, from health care and education to transportation and communications, in order to minimize the cost of living that employers and exporters had to pay. Most important, China avoided foreign debt service by creating its own money and keeping the most important production facilities in its own hands.

U.S. demands are driving its allies out of the dollar-NATO trade and monetary orbit

As in a classical Greek tragedy, U.S. foreign policy is bringing about precisely the outcome that it most fears. Overplaying their hand with their own NATO allies, U.S. diplomats are bringing about Kissinger’s nightmare scenario, driving Russia and China together. While America’s allies are told to bear the costs of U.S. sanctions, Russia and China are benefiting by being obliged to diversify and make their own economies independent of reliance on U.S. suppliers of food and other basic needs. Above all, these two countries are creating their own de-dollarized credit and bank-clearing systems, and holding their international monetary reserves in the form of gold, euros and each other’s currencies to conduct their mutual trade and investment.

This de-dollarization provides an alternative to the unipolar U.S. ability to gain free foreign credit via the U.S. Treasury-bill standard for world monetary reserves. As foreign countries and their central banks de-dollarize, what will support the dollar? Without the free line of credit provided by central banks automatically recycling America’s foreign military and other overseas spending back to the U.S. economy (with only a minimal return), how can the United States balance its international payments in the face of its de-industrialization?

The United States cannot simply reverse its de-industrialization and dependence on Chinese and other Asian labor by bringing production back home. It has built too high a rentier overhead into its economy for its labor to be able to compete internationally, given the U.S. wage-earner’s budgetary demands to pay high and rising housing and education costs, debt service and health insurance, and for privatized infrastructure services.

The only way for the United States to sustain its international financial balance is by monopoly pricing of its arms, patented pharmaceutical and information-technology exports, and by buying control of the most lucrative production and potentially rent-extracting sectors abroad – in other words, by spreading neoliberal economic policy throughout the world in a way that obliges other countries to depend on U.S. loans and investment.

That is not a way for national economies to grow. The alternative to neoliberal doctrine is China’s growth policies that follow the same basic industrial logic by which Britain, the United States, Germany and France rose to industrial power during their own industrial takeoffs with strong government support and social spending programs.

The United States has abandoned this traditional industrial policy since the 1980s. It is imposing on its own economy the neoliberal policies that de-industrialized Pinochetista Chile, Thatcherite Britain and the post-industrial former Soviet republics, the Baltics and Ukraine since 1991. Its highly polarized and debt-leveraged prosperity is based on inflating real estate and securities prices and privatizing infrastructure.

This neoliberalism has been a path to becoming a failed economy and indeed, a failed state, obliged to suffer debt deflation, rising housing prices and rents as owner-occupancy rates decline, as well as exorbitant medical and other costs resulting from privatizing what other countries provide freely or at subsidized prices as human rights – health care, education, medical insurance and pensions.

The success of China’s industrial policy with a mixed economy and state control of the monetary and credit system has led U.S. strategists to fear that Western European and Asian economies may find their advantage to lie in integrating more closely with China and Russia. The U.S. seems to have no response to such a global rapprochement with China and Russia except economic sanctions and military belligerence. That New Cold War stance is expensive, and other countries are balking at bearing the cost of a conflict that has no benefit for themselves and indeed, threatens to destabilize their own economic growth and political independence.

Without subsidy from these countries, especially as China, Russia and their neighbors de-dollarize their economies, how can the United States maintain the balance-of-payments costs of its overseas military spending? Cutting back that spending, and indeed recovering industrial self-reliance and competitive economic power, would require a transformation of American politics. Such a change seems unlikely, but without it, how long can America’s post-industrial rentier economy manage to force other countries to provide it with the economic affluence (literally a flowing-in) that it is no longer producing at home?

  1. https://www.state.gov/briefings/department-press-briefing-january-27-2022/. Dismissing reporters’ comments that “what the Germans have said publicly doesn’t match with what you’re saying exactly,” she explained the U.S. tactics to stall Nord Stream 2. Countering a reporter’s point that “all they have to do is turn it on,” she said: “As Senator Cruz likes to say … it is currently a hunk of metal at the bottom of the ocean. It needs to be tested. It needs to be certified. It needs to have regulatory approval.” For a recent review of the increasingly tense geopolitics at work, see John Foster, “Pipeline Politics hits Multipolar Realities: Nord Stream 2 and the Ukraine Crisis,” Counterpunch, February 3, 2022. 
  2. Andrew Higgins, “Fueling a Geopolitical Tussle in Eastern Europe: Fertilizer,” The New York Times, January 31, 2022. The owner plans to sue Lithuania’s government for hefty damages. 
  3. Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, “Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to questions from Channel One’s Voskresnoye Vremya programme,” Moscow, January 30, 2022. Johnson’s Russia List, January 31, 2022, #9. 

Sitrep Argentina: Odious debt and Belt and Road

February 07, 2022

The president of Argentina as a matter of urgency approached President Putin in the day before President Putin left for Beijing.  They needed help with odious debt that the country entered into with the IMF.  This is the sequence of events in the last few days:

And then, one of the most interesting points in the second tweet: China reaffirmed its support for Argentina’s demand to fully exercise sovereignty over the Malvinas.

This is then how Zone B grows, with countries saying they have had enough of hegemony and taking clear steps to help themselves.

Short report by Amarynth

The New Era Of International Relations Is Defined By The Russian-Chinese Entente


By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

They’re truly changing the world in pursuit of their shared vision of making it more equitable, just, and multipolar, but neither is going to go to war for the other….Precisely because they’re ‘more than allies’, they can responsibly agree to disagree on certain key issues like Kashmir and the South China Sea while still continuing their globally game-changing cooperation.

The Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership serves as the engine of the emerging Multipolar World Order. It was unprecedentedly strengthened after these Great Powers’ grand strategies were compelled to converge in response to the US’ attempted simultaneous “containment” of both after 2014. The declining unipolar hegemon coordinated provocations in Eastern Europe via Ukraine and Southeast Asia through the South China Sea but “counterproductively” brought those two closer than ever before as a result. All of its attempts to divide and rule them through information warfare have also failed.

Nowhere is their grand strategic convergence more apparent than in the joint statement that they released during President Putin’s visit to the People’s Republic to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games and meet with his Chinese counterpart. Titled “Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development”, this document confirms that those two are coordinating almost every facet of their respective policies across the world.

They’re united in their shared vision of the emerging Multipolar World Order and are convinced that the sanctity of international law as enshrined in the UN Charter must be respected no matter what. Russia and China are strongly against attempts to weaponize the concept of “democracy” as a pretext for meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. They regard the people as granting legitimacy to their government, yet they also acknowledge that each country has the right to practice their own unique form of democracy based on their circumstances, history, socio-political situation, and traditions.

On the economic front, Russia and China agree that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals must be achieved, though this has become challenging as a result of the international community’s uncoordinated efforts to contain COVID-19 (“World War C”). Nevertheless, the synchronization between Beijing’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and Moscow’s Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP) will provide a much-needed impetus for bringing this about, all with the intent of jointly forging a community of common destiny for mankind.

The greatest obstacle to their ambitious vision is some states (understood to be a reference to the US) unilaterally ensuring what they describe as their own “security” at others’ expense, including through Color Revolutions, which Russia and China jointly oppose. The creation of military alliances aimed against others, the abrogation of international arms control pacts, and the nuclear proliferation threat posed by AUKUS are all of serious concern to these Great Powers. Only full compliance with the principle of indivisible security as enshrined in international law will suffice for stabilizing the world.

No so-called “forbidden” areas exist in terms of the spheres where Russia and China will now cooperate, nor are there any limits thereof. They’ll pursue true multilateralism in all international fora and will work to strengthen those in which they presently participate such as APEC, EAS, BRICS, RIC, the SCO, and the G20, et al. People-to-people ties will also continue to be prioritized, as will their efforts to maintain ASEAN’s central role in the Asia-Pacific. Russia and China are truly uniting to ensure that the ongoing global systemic transition towards multipolar remains stable and sustainable.

Having reached that conclusion throughout the course of reviewing their very detailed joint statement, it also deserves mentioning that Russia and China still aren’t “allies” in the traditional sense that this term is widely understood to signify. Although Chinese President Xi Jinping described their relations as “more than allied”, this doesn’t in any sense imply that either country is willing to have their troops fight, sacrifice, and potentially even die in defense of the other’s legitimate security interests that are threatened by unprovoked American aggression.

Rather, what’s meant is that neither is dependent on the other or “owes” them anything since their relations are truly between equals and not in any sort of “hierarchy” whereby one can order the other to sacrifice on their behalf like in the alliances of times past. Their joint statement makes it clear that these two are coordinating on issues of global strategic significance that surpass the cooperation of any pair or group of states in history. They’re truly changing the world in pursuit of their shared vision of making it more equitable, just, and multipolar, but once again, neither is going to fight for the other.

Nor, in that case, should they even be expected to as explained by the author in his answer to the third question that he was asked in a recent interview that can be read in full here. He also elaborated on the interplay of China and India’s importance for Russian grand strategy here, which is crucial for observers to keep in mind since Moscow and Beijing still don’t see eye-to-eye on exactly all issues like Kashmir or the South China Sea as was explained in the last part of this article about why China isn’t fully taking Russia’s side in its dispute with Ukraine despite supporting it against NATO’s warmongering.

Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that the Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership is truly the driving force in accelerating International Relations’ ongoing global systemic transition towards multipolarity following the brief and highly destabilizing period of US-led unipolar hegemony. Their ties are rock-solid and won’t be weakened even by their objectively existing differences over hot international issues like those that were touched upon in the abovementioned paragraph. Precisely because they’re “more than allies”, they can responsibly agree to disagree while still continuing their globally game-changing cooperation.

Aoun’s trip to Qatar cannot change Lebanon’s fortunes; for that, he must look further east

December 05 2021

Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s trip to Qatar for help can only be a placebo for his country’s woes. To jumpstart Lebanon’s recovery, he needs to be prepared to realign with new regional actors.

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun heads to Doha to seek urgent help from Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. But Qatar can provide little compared to three other Asian powers.Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Giorgio Cafiero

The crisis in Lebanon goes from bad to worse. Rolling blackouts and soaring gas prices are just some of the ordeals people face day to day. They are buying less meat while pleading with family and friends abroad to send them medicine. Much of Lebanon’s middle class has sunk into poverty. The Lebanese Lira has lost nearly all value while health crises continue to plague the country. And as the crisis grows beyond all expectations, so does public anger.

It is within this context that Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun paid a visit to Qatar on 29 November. While in Doha, Aoun met with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to discuss Lebanon’s internal crises, as well as the diplomatic row between Beirut and four of Qatar’s fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members – Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The dispute erupted in October after a Qatari news program aired comments made by Lebanon’s former Information Minister George Kordahi, criticizing the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen.

After weeks of undue pressure from Riyadh, which at times was described as tantamount to a war declaration, Kordahi was ultimately forced to resign on 3 December.

For his part Aoun, one of Hezbollah’s political allies, said he wanted Beirut’s relationship with Riyadh to improve significantly. The president of Lebanon and the emir of Qatar have both said that Arab nations need to stand by Lebanon and “overcome any flaws that might face these relations.”

What can Qatar do for Lebanon?

At this juncture questions remain about how much the Lebanese can count on Qatar for help. Doha will likely provide some form of aid, but this kind of assistance or investments are unlikely to generate much change in the Levantine nation. And while the Qataris may be able to ease some friction between Beirut and its GCC partners, it is far from clear if any Qatari mediation can help loosen the Saudi chokehold on Lebanon.

Ryan Bohl, a West Asia analyst at risk consultancy agency Stratfor/Rane, told The Cradle that Aoun’s trip to Doha could open the doors for Lebanon to receive “some humanitarian aid, especially as Qatar looks to keep its human rights defender reputation ahead of the World Cup in 2022.”

Nonetheless, Bohl also believes that there are significant limits to what Lebanon can expect from Qatar at this point. “Doha knows that Lebanon is a financial black hole, and so boosting Lebanon’s currency reserves or providing any other aid beyond humanitarian support is unlikely.”

What has become readily apparent is that GCC states have given up on Lebanon in many respects. And while Doha remains determined to assert some degree of influence through their unique history of building networks in the country, the Qataris are fully aware that Lebanon has undergone changes that make it less important to Gulf monarchies.

“[Although Doha] might agree to pay salaries of certain state employees, or [members of] the military, or potentially put some money into the central bank like the Qataris have done before, it’s unlikely to be a major investment that’s going to turn things around for Lebanon,” Dr. Andreas Krieg, assistant professor at the School of Security Studies at King’s College London, told The Cradle.

“The Qataris are aware that there are issues of corruption [in Beirut]. You’re unlikely to get very good returns on your investments,” Dr. Krieg pointed out.

As far as the diplomatic crisis goes, Qatari officials are looking to mediate between Beirut and the rest of the GCC states in an attempt to have all sides reach a consensual position to restore working relations.

This is a role Doha has been trying to play since the Saudis took it upon themselves to create a rift between its closest GCC allies and crisis-hit Lebanon.

Dr. Krieg also explained how, despite going on record to condemn the comments made by Lebanon’s former Information Minister, the Qataris also took it upon themselves to resolve the row.

“The Qataris very early on went to the Saudis and other GCC partners saying ‘we’re happy to mediate [and try] to find a solution to this,’” Dr. Krieg explains. “They received tacit approval from the Saudis to do that. So, the foreign minister was supposed to go to Lebanon. In the end he didn’t. But I think with the Lebanese president coming to Doha, this is also part of that [Qatari effort] to find a way to explore opportunities for a mediation process.”

According to West Asian analyst Ryan Bohl, Doha’s attempt to dial down the tensions “would once again serve Qatar’s ambition of being a diplomatic powerhouse and mediator as well as a humanitarian facilitator.”

But mediation by Qatar might prove unmanageable considering the firm stance Saudi Arabia and the UAE have taken against Hezbollah, as they consider the resistance group to represent Iran’s influence inside Lebanon. The clear trend among Gulf nations to withdraw resources and energy from Lebanon is not one anyone expects Qatar to reverse.

Saudi influence in Lebanon has been declining for quite some time. Nonetheless, it’s safe to conclude that neither Qatar nor any other GCC member seeks to take over Riyadh’s historic role in Lebanon. “Qatar is neither interested in a proxy struggle with Iran nor … in taking up that role of throwing good money after bad in Beirut,” Bohl says.

Yet Doha is not without experience or networks in Lebanon. Back in the 2000s, the Qataris were involved in the reconstruction of southern Lebanon and took part in mediation efforts between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government.

Today, Doha could build on those networks which position it as a Gulf state with a non-sectarian agenda in the Levantine nation and which has working relations with all major communities in Lebanon.

Lebanon’s bleak situation atop the rift between Beirut and four GCC states offer Doha an opportunity to assert further influence in the country.

Looking east, toward rising economies

Lebanon, in its current form, will likely experience a future where neither western nor GCC states are going to be willing to help with its crises. It might therefore be easy to imagine influential Lebanese figures joining Hassan Nasrallah in the belief that Lebanon must pivot to Chinese and Russian orbits of influence.

Tehran’s influence in Beirut is not a factor that would deter either Beijing or Moscow from assisting Lebanon. This constitutes a major contrast to western powers and most GCC states which consider any influence from Iran in the Mediterranean country a serious issue, a fact made evident by how much Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign harmed the Lebanese economy.

A Lebanon that looks towards the east could therefore complicate its relations with western governments. To be sure, if Lebanon does move closer to China, the country will not only remain a hotspot in the Iranian­–Saudi rivalry, but could also become an arena where the friction between Beijing and western powers plays out in increasingly tense ways.

Over recent years China has deepened its influence in numerous West Asian states, such as the UAE, and even in Israel, by developing their networks and strengthening ties in ways that alarm Washington.

Beijing’s incursion into Lebanon and its image as a possible savior could result in weakening US–Lebanon ties. Washington’s ambassador to Beirut Dorothy Shea has already warned of consequences if Beirut turns to China for investment relief, saying such a move could come “at the expense of the country’s prosperity, stability or fiscal viability or its long-standing relations with the United States.”

Doubtless, China is likely to find ways to benefit from a deeper partnership with Lebanon, especially in light of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This mega-infrastructure project alone has officials in western governments questioning whether Lebanon can remain what the Foreign Policy columnist Anchal Vohra recently described as “an outpost of Western values and influence in [West Asia].”

Russia is also an essential element of the ‘look east’ approach supported by Hezbollah and others in Lebanon. However, the Russians have far less economic influence in Lebanon compared to the Chinese, which remains the country’s largest trading partner, even prior to the economic crisis.

Yet Moscow remains important to Lebanon in matters of diplomacy, energy, and mainly security, given the Kremlin’s ongoing military presence in neighboring Syria.

Mindful of Washington’s crippling sanctions against the Syrian government and certain actors in Lebanon, Russian companies, many of which are also sanctioned by the US, have much experience operating in the so-called ‘gray sphere.’ This means Russian firms might possess unique advantages that Lebanese businesses and individuals would find appealing, particularly in their ability to circumvent sanctions for trade and transactions involving Syria.

Looking ahead, a Lebanon that moves closer to China and Russia could create a new period of uncertainty for Beirut as it finds new footholds in an increasingly multipolar world.

The risks and rewards of such a pivot to the east are likely to remain the source of debate for many in Lebanon who are looking for help from any country willing to assist it during a crisis that has been described as the worst of the modern era.

Ultimately, while Aoun’s latest trip abroad was to Doha, many Lebanese may be holding on to hope that his next one will be either to Beijing or Moscow.The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

روسيا والصّين وخطاب قوى المقاومة

الصين تتريَّث حالياً في دخول معترك ملفات المشرق العربي السياسية وتعقيداتها

الجمعة 26 نوفمبر 2021

المصدر: الميادين نت

عمرو علان

كاتب وباحث سياسي في العديد من المنافذ الإخبارية العربية ، ومنها جريدة الأخبار ، وقناة الميادين الإخبارية الفضائية ، وعربي 21 ، وراي اليوم

أُجبِر الكيان الصهيوني سابقاً على الانسحاب من قطاع غزة في العام 2005، وقبل ذلك من جنوب لبنان في العام 2000. وفي كلتا الحالتين، كان انسحابه من دون قيدٍ أو شرطٍ.

لعلَّ من أبرز تجلِّيات حقبة “القطب الواحد” التي عاشها العالم خلال العقود الثلاثة الماضية، والتي يشارف العالم على الخروج منها إلى “نظام عالمي” جديد ما زالت ملامحه قيد التشكل، حيث تجلَّت ملامح “القطب الواحد” باستفراد الولايات المتحدة الأميركية بالتأثير في قضايا منطقتنا العربية، إذ كانت روسيا مشغولة بعملية استعادة توازنها بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي، وكانت الصين في مرحلة بدايات بناء قوتها الاقتصادية العالمية، أما أوروبا، فكان تأثيرها قد بدأ بالتراجع في ملفات السياسة الدولية لمصلحة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية منذ مشروع “مارشال”. 

أما اليوم، ونظراً إلى التحولات العميقة التي تجري في “النظام العالمي”، والتي تتمثل بعودة روسيا لتكون لاعباً دولياً رئيساً في الساحة الدولية من جهة، ولا سيما في منطقة المشرق العربي، وأيضاً في صعود الصين المطرد كعملاق اقتصادي دولي من جهة أخرى، نجد أنَّ الباب يُفتح مجدداً لهذه القوى الدولية للانخراط بشكل أكبر في ملفات المنطقة العربية، وعلى رأسها القضية الفلسطينية، القضية الأم والأكثر تعقيداً من بين قضايا المنطقة، إذ يفرض عليها التواجد الروسي العسكري في منطقتنا التعامل مع مسألة الصراع العربي الصهيوني، فكما صرَّح الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين مؤخراً: “روسيا عملت وستعمل كوسيط نزيه لتسوية النزاعات في الشرق الأوسط ولتحقيق الاستقرار في المنطقة… من أجل تطبيع الوضع في الشرق الأوسط. من المهم مبدئياً دفع عملية التسوية الفلسطينية الإسرائيلية”.

أما الصين التي يظهر أنها تتريَّث حالياً في دخول معترك ملفات المشرق العربي السياسية وتعقيداتها، فعلى الأرجح أن تجد نفسها مضطرة إلى الانخراط في هذه الملفات بقدرٍ أو بآخر، إما عاجلاً وإما آجلاً، ولا سيما أنها تسعى بشكل حثيث للاستثمار الاقتصادي في المنطقة الشرقية لحوض المتوسط، لكونها حلقة وصل رئيسية في مشروعها الاستراتيجي “الحزام والطريق”.

تطرح هذه المستجدات سؤالاً على فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية حول الكيفية الأنسب للتعامل مع دول بحجم روسيا والصين العائدتين لأداء أدوار في قضايا منطقتنا، ولا سيما أنَّ منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية كانت قد ارتضت الدخول في خديعة “عملية السلام” التي أفضت إلى الاعتراف بالكيان الصهيوني المزعوم، وقبلت التنازل عن الحق العربي والإسلامي الأصيل في الأراضي المحتلة العام 1948، وما تبع ذلك من القبول بتقسيم القدس إلى شرقيةٍ وغربيةٍ، وتمييع حق العودة المقدس للاجئين الفلسطينيين، إلى درجةٍ توازي التنازل عنه عملياً، وباتت دول العالم اليوم – اللهم إلا الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران – تنظر إلى تنازلات المنظمة على أنها السقف المقبول فلسطينياً. 

الصين مثلاً، التي كانت ترفض الاعتراف بالكيان الصهيوني، والتي كانت من أواخر دول العالم التي اعترفت بهذا الكيان المصطنع، لم تقْدِم على الاعتراف به إلا بعدما اعترفت منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية به أولاً، وكان حال الصين في ذلك حال العديد من دول العالم الأخرى التي كانت تناصر الحقوق العربية والفلسطينية.

لكن قوى وفصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية، مع باقي قوى المقاومة الحية في وطننا العربي والإسلامي، على عكس منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية، ما زالت ترفع لواء تحرير كامل التراب الفلسطيني المحتل، بصفته الحل العادل والمنطقي للقضية الفلسطينية، ناهيك بكونه الحل الوحيد الحقيقي المتاح للصراع العربي الصهيوني، وذلك إذا ما وُضع أصل فكرة نشأت ووظيفة الكيان الصهيوني في سياقه الصحيح والأشمل ضمن الصراع مع قوى الاستعمار الغربي.

لذلك، يمكن لفصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية بناء خطابها مع هذه الدول على أساس فكرة وجوب انسحاب الاحتلال من الأراضي التي احتلها في العام 1967 من دون قيدٍ أو شرطٍ، فكل قرارات الأمم المتحدة تؤكد أن هذه الأراضي هي أراضٍ محتلة، وعلى أي احتلال الانسحاب من الأراضي التي احتلها من دون قيدٍ أو شرطٍ، ومن دون منحه أية مكافآت مقابل انسحابه هذا، وهي مسألة لا يستطيع أحدٌ المحاججة فيها بالقانون الدولي أو بغيره.

 أما الاحتلال الصهيوني، فهو حرٌ بأن يسمي هذا الانسحاب “إعادة انتشار” أو “فك ارتباط من طرف واحد” أو أي شيء آخر يريحه، فالجوهري هنا أن يكون هذا الانسحاب من دون قيدٍ أو شرطٍ، ومن دون أي تفاهماتٍ مع هذا المغتصب، وبعدها يكون لكل حادثٍ حديثٌ. 

لقد أُجبِر الكيان الصهيوني سابقاً على الانسحاب من قطاع غزة في العام 2005، وقبل ذلك من جنوب لبنان في العام 2000. وفي كلتا الحالتين، كان انسحابه من دون قيدٍ أو شرطٍ، ومن دون أن يحصل على أية تفاهمات مع المقاومة التي دحرته عن الأراضي التي كان يحتلها، وهذه التجربة يمكن تكرارها في الأراضي المحتلة العام 1967. 

أما عقيدة حركات المقاومة القائمة على تحرير كامل التراب الفلسطيني المحتل من رأس الناقورة إلى أم الرشراش، فهذا أمرٌ لا شأن للقوى الدولية به، ولا تجب مناقشته مع أيٍّ من هذه الدول، فإن أرادوا التضامن مع الشعب العربي ومساعدته على استعادة حقوقه، فعليهم الضغط على المحتلّ كي ينسحب من دون قيدٍ أو شرطٍ من الأراضي التي يحتلّها باعتراف القانون الدولي، وحجّة فصائل المقاومة في هذا قوية، فتكفي الإشارة إلى تجربة منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية على مدى العقود الثلاثة الماضية، وما سمي بـ”عملية السلام” وما انتهت إليه.

يرى البعض هذا الخطاب خطاباً متماسكاً، ويَصلح لمحاججة القوى الدولية الصاعدة به، فهو يضع الكرة في ملعبها، ولا يقدم في المقابل أي تنازلات عن الثوابت العربية والإسلامية في القضية الفلسطينية، ناهيك بكونه يتجاوز التنازلات التي قدّمتها منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية، والتي بات العالم يطالب الفلسطينيين بالالتزام بها، عوضاً عن مطالبة الاحتلال بالانسحاب دون قيدٍ أو شرطٍ من الأراضي التي احتلها العام 1967، بناءً على الشرعية الدولية التي تؤمن بها هذه القوى.

ويمكن القول ختاماً إنّ أيّ خطابٍ آخر تتبناه فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية لا يلحظ فكرة وجوب انسحاب الاحتلال من دون قيدٍ أو شرطٍ، لا بد من أن يُدخِل الفصائل الفلسطينية في دوامةٍ تشبه دوامة خديعة “السلام”، إن لم تكن أسوأ. إذاً، ليخرج الاحتلال من الأراضي التي يحتلّها من دون قيدٍ أو شرطٍ أولاً. وعندها، يخلق الله ما لا تعلمون.إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

String of pearls: Yemen could be the Arab hub of the Maritime Silk Road

November 22, 2021

With an Ansarallah takeover of Yemen, Asia’s trade and connectivity projects could expand into some of the world’s most strategic waterways

By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and cross-posted with TheCradle


The usual suspects tried everything against Yemen.

First, coercing it into ‘structural reform.’ When that didn’t work, they instrumentalized takfiri mercenaries. They infiltrated and manipulated the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), ISIS. They used US drones and occasional marines.

And then, in 2015, they went Total Warfare: a UN-backed rogue coalition started bombing and starving Yemenis into submission – with barely a peep from the denizens of the ‘rules-based international order.’

The coalition – House of Saud, Qatar, UAE, US, UK – for all practical purposes, embarked on a final solution for Yemen.

Sovereignty and unity were never part of the deal. Yet soon the project stalled. Saudis and Emiratis were fighting each other for primacy in southern and eastern Yemen using mercenaries. In April 2017, Qatar clashed with both Saudis and Emiratis. The coalition started to unravel.

Now we reach a crucial inflexion point. Yemeni Armed Forces and allied fighters from Popular Committees, backed by a coalition of tribes, including the very powerful Murad, are on the verge of liberating strategic, oil and natural gas-rich Marib – the last stronghold of the House of Saud-backed mercenary army.

Tribal leaders are in the capital Sanaa talking to the quite popular Ansarallah movement to organize a peaceful takeover of Marib. So this process is in effect the result of a wide-ranging national interest deal between the Houthis and the Murad tribe.

The House of Saud, for its part, is allied with the collapsing forces behind former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, as well as political parties such as Al-Islah, Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood. They have been incapable of resisting Ansarallah.

A repeat scenario is now playing in the western coastal port of Hodeidah, where takfiri mercenaries have vanished from the province’s southern and eastern districts.

Yemen’s Defense Minister Mohammad al-Atefi, talking to Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper, stressed that, “according to strategic and military implications…we declare to the whole world that the international aggression against Yemen has already been defeated.”

It’s not a done deal yet – but we’re getting there.

Hezbollah, via its Executive Council Chairman Hashim Safieddine, adds to the context, stressing how the current diplomatic crisis between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia is directly linked to Mohammad bin Salman’s (MbS) fear and impotence when confronted with the liberation of strategic Marib and Hezbollah’s unwavering support for Yemen throughout the war.

A fabricated ‘civil war’

So how did we get here?

Venturing beyond the excellent analysis by Karim Shami here on The Cradle, some geoeconomic background is essential to understanding what’s really going on in Yemen.

For at least half a millennium before the Europeans started to show up, the ruling classes in southern Arabia built the area into a prime hub of intellectual and commercial exchange. Yemen became the prized destination of Prophet Muhammad’s descendants; by the 11th century they had woven solid spiritual and intellectual links with the wider world.

By the end of the 19th century, as noted in Isa Blumi’s outstanding Destroying Yemen (University of California Press, 2018), a “remarkable infrastructure that harnessed seasonal rains to produce a seemingly endless amount of wealth attracted no longer just disciples and descendants of prophets, but aggressive agents of capital seeking profits.”

Soon we had Dutch traders venturing on terraced hills covered in coffee beans clashing with Ottoman Janissaries from Crimea, claiming them for the Sultan in Istanbul.

By the post-modern era, those “aggressive agents of capital seeking profits” had reduced Yemen to one of the advanced battlegrounds of the toxic mix between neoliberalism and Wahhabism.

The Anglo-American axis, since the Afghan jihad in the 1980s, promoted, financed and instrumentalized an essentialist, ahistorical version of ‘Islam’ that was simplistically reduced to Wahhabism: a deeply reactionary social engineering movement led by an antisocial front based in Arabia.

That operation shaped a shallow version of Islam sold to western public opinion as antithetical to universal – as in ‘rules-based international order’ – values. Hence, essentially anti-progressive. Yemen was at the frontline of this cultural and historical perversion.

Yet the promoters of the war unleashed in 2015 – a gloomy celebration of humanitarian imperialism, complete with carpet bombing, embargoes, and widespread forced starvation – did not factor in the role of the Yemeni Resistance. Much as it happened with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The war was a perverse manipulation by US, UK, French, Israeli and minions Saudi, Emirati and Qatari intel agencies. It was never a ‘civil war’ – as the hegemonic narrative goes – but an engineered project to reverse the gains of Yemen’s own ‘Arab Spring.’

The target was to return Yemen back to a mere satellite in Saudi Arabia’s backyard. And to ensure that Yemenis never dare to even dream of regaining their historic role as the economic, spiritual, cultural and political reference for a great deal of the Indian Ocean universe.

Add to the narrative the simplistic trope of blaming Shia Iran for supporting the Houthis. When it was clear that coalition mercenaries would fail to stop the Yemeni Resistance, a new narrative was birthed: the war was important to provide ‘security’ for the Saudi hacienda facing an ‘Iran-backed’ enemy.

That’s how Ansarallah became cast as Shia Houthis fighting Saudis and local ‘Sunni’ proxies. Context was thrown to the dogs, as in the vast, complex differences between Muslims in Yemen – Sufis of various orders, Zaydis (Houthis, the backbone of the Ansarallah movement, are Zaydis), Ismailis, and Shafii Sunnis – and the wider Islamic world.

Yemen goes BRI

So the whole Yemen story, once again, is essentially a tragic chapter of Empire attempting to plunder Third World/Global South wealth.

The House of Saud played the role of vassals seeking rewards. They do need it, as the House of Saud is in desperate financial straits that include subsidizing the US economy via mega-contracts and purchasing US debt.

The bottom line: the House of Saud won’t survive unless it dominates Yemen. The future of MBS is totally leveraged on winning his war, not least to pay his bills for western weapons and technical assistance already used. There are no definitive figures, but according to a western intel source close to the House of Saud, that bill amounted to at least $500 billion by 2017.

The stark reality made plain by the alliance between Ansarallah and major tribes is that Yemen refuses to surrender its national wealth to subsidize the Empire’s desperate need of liquidity, collateral for new infusions of cash, and thirst for commodities. Stark reality has absolutely nothing to do with the imperial narrative of Yemen as ‘pre-modern tribal traditions’ averse to change, thus susceptible to violence and mired in endless ‘civil war.’

And that brings us to the enticing ‘another world is possible’ angle when the Yemeni Resistance finally extricates the nation from the grip of the hawkish, crumbling neoliberal/Wahhabi coalition.

As the Chinese very well know, Yemen is rich not only in the so far unexplored oil and gas reserves, but also in gold, silver, zinc, copper and nickel.

Beijing also knows all there is to know about the ultra-strategic Bab al Mandab between Yemen’s southwestern coast and the Horn of Africa. Moreover, Yemen boasts a series of strategically located Indian Ocean ports and Red Sea ports on the way to the Mediterranean, such as Hodeidah.

Photo Credit: The Cradle

These waterways practically scream Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and especially the Maritime Silk Road – with Yemeni ports complementing China’s only overseas naval base in Djibouti, where roads and railways connect to Ethiopia.

The Ansarallah–tribal alliance may even, in the medium to long term, exercise full control for access to the Suez Canal.

One very possible scenario is Yemen joining the ‘string of pearls’ – ports linked by the BRI across the Indian Ocean. There will, of course, be major pushback by proponents of the ‘Indo-Pacific’ agenda. That’s where the Iranian connection enters the picture.

BRI in the near future will feature the progressive interconnection between the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – with a special role for the port of Gwadar – and the emerging China–Iran corridor that will traverse Afghanistan. The port of Chabahar in Iran, only 80 km away from Gwadar, will also bloom, whether by definitive commitments by India or a possible future takeover by China.

Warm links between Iran and Yemen will translate into renewed Indian Ocean trade, without Sanaa depending on Tehran, as it is essentially self-sufficient in energy and already manufactures its own weapons. Unlike the Saudi vassals of Empire, Iran will certainly invest in the Yemeni economy.

The Empire will not take any of this lightly. There are plenty of similarities with the Afghan scenario. Afghanistan is now set to be integrated into the New Silk Roads – a commitment shared by the SCO. Now it’s not so far-fetched to picture Yemen as a SCO observer, integrated to BRI and profiting from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) packages. Stranger things have happened in the ongoing Eurasia saga.

Four Nightmares Yemen Is Causing “Israel” to Have

17 Nov 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Mohammad Faraj

This is not poetry nor mere exaggerations with the hope of spreading false hope. It is the reality of the Yemeni geographic revenge against the occupation.

Israeli technology is one of the most important sources of input for the Neom project, which heavily relies on stability that cannot be attained without securing the Red Sea itself.

For the UAE, Bahrain, “Israel,” and the United States to launch maritime military exercises is no show of force; it is a reflection of deep concern and misgiving, primarily that of “Israel.”

“Israel” is dealing with four nightmares in the Red Sea, and Yemen seems to be their common thread.

The first nightmare: “We will strike critical targets.” That is how Ansar Allah responded last year to “Israel’s” comment on the situation in Yemen. Ansar Allah’s words were not just mere lip service, for Yemeni drones and Sanaa’s missile capabilities pose a genuine threat to the occupation on the Red Sea front, which has been confirmed by various Israeli military research centers.

Throughout the entirety of the Yemeni Army and Popular Committee-controlled Yemen, threatening “Eilat” is not any harder than threatening Saudi Aramco – that is Ari Heistein’s approach, a researcher in the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies. Though Heistein underrates the Yemeni threat, he acknowledges that Ansar Allah is able to use long-range missiles to hit targets from very far ranges. He sums up the whole situation with a single phrase: “It is realistic; however, it is limited.”

The precarious aspect of “limitation” stems from one basic angle: long-range missiles would grant the Israeli defense systems a certain margin of time to respond. This study was written two weeks ahead of the battle of Seif al-Quds, which proved that the issues in the Israeli defense systems do not solely rely on preparation, for what merits preparation more than a war?

The second nightmare: during the 1967 war, “Israel” experienced firsthand the repercussions of the Suez Canal and the Straits of Tiran being closed, so what could be the adverse effects of a farther passage – Bab-el-Mandeb Strait – being closed?

Closing Bab-el-Mandeb Strait in the face of Israeli vessels could seriously harm Israeli trade, both in terms of imports and exports. India is the largest Israeli arms importer in the world, importing 43% of “Israel’s” arms exports between 2016 and 2020, while Vietnam is the third-largest in the world, importing 12% of “Israel’s” arms exports.

Arms exports are a vital part of the Israeli economy, as “Israel” ranks eighth in the world in terms of arms exports, exporting 3% of the world’s arms. Therefore, closing Bab-el-Mandeb in the face of Israeli ships, one of the main pillars of the Israeli economy, heavily impacts the lives of Israeli settlers, whom the Israeli authorities need many temptations to keep in place.

The Israeli economy heavily relies on imported goods, which cross through the Indian Ocean through Bab-el-Mandeb. “Israel” might experience a situation that is opposite to the one it went through during the October 1973 war, which saw “Israel” suffering because of Bab-el-Mandeb being closed in the face of Iranian tankers transporting oil to “Israel” back when Iran was under the Shah. Today, “Israel” is extremely worried about the same strait standing in solidarity with revolutionary Iran.

The third nightmare: “Israel” dreams about having coastal tourist-attractive cities, and they are part of its plans for the future, firstly due to profits they would generate, and secondly due to the doors they could open for normalization.

Carnegie Center calls this project “The diplomacy of the Saudi Neom.” Neom city is at the heart of this project, and Israeli technology is one of the most important sources of input for this project, which requires high levels of stability that cannot be attained without stability in the Red Sea. Losing the opportunity of having military stability in the Red Sea means “Israel” would lose its economic opportunities in these “smart cities.”

The fourth nightmare: China aims to ensure the finest conditions for stability in the regions and straits through which the Belt and Road Initiative goes. By taking a look at a map of the initiative, one sees that Bab-el-Mandeb is a pivotal intermediate link for its success. The same initiative deems the Haifa port as less of a priority in terms of pathways into the Mediterranean sea, especially because it has many alternatives.

“Israel,” who is acting very cautiously in fear of the US aims to please China, hopes to reap the utmost benefits from the project. However, Bab-el-Mandeb could seriously harm “Israel” if China was put in a zero-sum game. “Israel” would lose a railway that connects “Eilat” and “Ashdod” and huge gas pipelines that would transmit energy through the occupied territories and supply them with energy as well.

This is the Yemeni geographic revenge from the occupation, as the four Yemeni nightmares are enough to shake “Isreal” to the core in terms of the occupation’s security and economy.

Xi’s new Communist Manifesto

NOVEMBER 15, 2021

Leader’s unshakeable ambition is that China’s renaissance will smash memories of the ‘century of humiliation’ once and for all

Xi’s new Communist Manifesto

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

Marx. Lenin. Mao. Deng. Xi.

Late last week in Beijing, the sixth plenum of the Chinese Communist Party adopted a historic resolution – only the third in its 100-year history – detailing major accomplishments and laying out a vision for the future.

Essentially, the resolution poses three questions. How did we get here? How come we were so successful? And what have we learned to make these successes long-lasting?

Chinese President Xi Jinping is poised to take a third five-year term. Image: Agencies / Pool

The importance of this resolution should not be underestimated. It imprints a major geopolitical fact: China is back. Big time. And doing it their way. No amount of fear and loathing deployed by the declining hegemon will alter this path.

The resolution will inevitably prompt quite a few misunderstandings. So allow me a little deconstruction, from the point of view of a gwailo who has lived between East and West for the past 27 years.

If we compare China’s 31 provinces with the 214 sovereign states that compose the “international community”, every Chinese region has experienced the fastest economic growth rates in the world.

Across the West, the lineaments of China’s notorious growth equation – without any historical parallel – have usually assumed the mantle of an unsolvable mystery.

Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping’s ’s famous “crossing the river while feeling the stones”, described as the path to build “socialism with Chinese characteristics” may be the overarching vision. But the devil has always been in the details: how the Chinese applied – with a mix of prudence and audaciousness – every possible device to facilitate the transition towards a modern economy.

The – hybrid – result has been defined by a delightful oxymoron: “communist market economy.” Actually, that’s the perfect practical translation of Deng’s legendary “it doesn’t matter the color of the cat, as long as it catches mice.” And it was this oxymoron, in fact, that the new resolution passed in Beijing celebrated last week.

Made in China 2025

Mao and Deng have been exhaustively analyzed over the years. Let’s focus here on Papa Xi’s brand new bag.

Right after he was elevated to the apex of the party, Xi defined his unambiguous master plan: to accomplish the “Chinese dream”, or China’s “renaissance.” In this case, in political economy terms, “renaissance” meant to realign China to its rightful place in a history spanning at least three millennia: right at the center. Middle Kingdom, indeed.

Already during his first term Xi managed to imprint a new ideological framework. The Party – as in centralized power – should lead the economy towards what was rebranded as “the new era.” A reductionist formulation would be The State Strikes Back. In fact, it was way more complicated.

This was not merely a rehash of state-run economy standards. Nothing to do with a Maoist structure capturing large swathes of the economy. Xi embarked in what we could sum up as a quite original form of authoritarian state capitalism – where the state is simultaneously an actor and the arbiter of economic life.

Team Xi did learn a lot of lessons from the West, using mechanisms of regulation and supervision to check, for instance, the shadow banking sphere. Macroeconomically, the expansion of public debt in China was contained, and the extension of credit better supervised. It took only a few years for Beijing to be convinced that major financial sphere risks were under control.

China’s new economic groove was de facto announced in 2015 via “Made in China 2025”, reflecting the centralized ambition of reinforcing the civilization-state’s economic and technological independence. That would imply a serious reform of somewhat inefficient public companies – as some had become states within the state.

In tandem, there was a redesign of the “decisive role of the market” – with the emphasis that new riches would have to be at the disposal of China’s renaissance as its strategic interests – defined, of course, by the party.

So the new arrangement amounted to imprinting a “culture of results” into the public sector while associating the private sector to the pursuit of an overarching national ambition. How to pull it off? By facilitating the party’s role as general director and encouraging public-private partnerships.

The Chinese state disposes of immense means and resources that fit its ambition. Beijing made sure that these resources would be available for those companies that perfectly understood they were on a mission: to contribute to the advent of a “new era.”

Manual for power projection

There’s no question that China under Xi, in eight short years, was deeply transformed. Whatever the liberal West makes of it – hysteria about neo-Maoism included – from a Chinese point of view that’s absolutely irrelevant, and won’t derail the process.

What must be understood, by both the Global North and South, is the conceptual framework of the “Chinese dream”: Xi’s unshakeable ambition is that the renaissance of China will finally smash the memories of the “century of humiliation” for good.

Party discipline – the Chinese way – is really something to behold. The CCP is the only communist party on the planet that thanks to Deng has discovered the secret of amassing wealth.

And that brings us to Xi’s role enshrined as a great transformer, on the same conceptual level as Mao and Deng. He fully grasped how the state and the party created wealth: the next step is to use the party and wealth as instruments to be put at the service of China’s renaissance.

Nothing, not even a nuclear war, will deviate Xi and the Beijing leadership from this path. They even devised a mechanism – and a slogan – for the new power projection: the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), originally One Belt, One Road (OBOR).

Chinese Communist Party's third historic resolution underscores China is back and set to
A mountain pass along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Image: Facebook

In 2017, BRI was incorporated into the party statutes. Even considering the “lost in translation” angle, there’s no Westernized, linear definition for BRI.

BRI is deployed on many superimposed levels. It started with a series of investments facilitating the supply of commodities to China.

Then came investments in transport and connectivity infrastructure, with all their nodes and hubs such as Khorgos, at the Chinese-Kazakh border. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), announced in 2013, symbolized the symbiosis of these two investment paths.

The next step was to transform logistical hubs into integrated economic zones – for instance as in HP based in Chongjing exporting its products via a BRI rail network to the Netherlands. Then came the Digital Silk Roads – from 5G to AI – and the Covid-linked Health Silk Roads.

What’s certain is that all these roads lead to Beijing. They work as much as economic corridors as soft power avenues, “selling” the Chinese way especially across the Global South.

Make Trade, Not War

Make Trade, Not War: that would be the motto of a Pax Sinica under Xi. The crucial aspect is that Beijing does not aim to replace Pax Americana, which always relied on the Pentagon’s variant of gunboat diplomacy.

The declaration subtly reinforced that Beijing is not interested in becoming a new hegemon. What matters above all is to remove any possible constraints that the outside world may impose over its own internal decisions, and especially over its unique political setup.

The West may embark on hysteria fits over anything – from Tibet and Hong Kong to Xinjiang and Taiwan. It won’t change a thing.

Concisely, this is how “socialism with Chinese characteristics” – a unique, always mutant economic system – arrived at the Covid-linked techno-feudalist era. But no one knows how long the system will last, and in which mutant form.

Corruption, debt – which tripled in ten years – political infighting – none of that has disappeared in China. To reach 5% annual growth, China would have to recover the growth in productivity comparable to those breakneck times in the 80s and 90s, but that will not happen because a decrease in growth is accompanied by a parallel decrease in productivity.

A final note on terminology. The CCP is always extremely precise. Xi’s two predecessors espoused “perspectives” or “visions.” Deng wrote “theory.” But only Mao was accredited with “thought.” The “new era” has now seen Xi, for all practical purposes, elevated to the status of “thought” – and part of the civilization-state’s constitution.

That’s why the party resolution last week in Beijing could be interpreted as the New Communist Manifesto. And its main author is, without a shadow of a doubt, Xi Jinping. Whether the manifesto will be the ideal road map for a wealthier, more educated and infinitely more complex society than in the times of Deng, all bets are off.

أنصار الله يربحون الحرب ويقلبون الطاولة على الجميع

الاربعاء 17 نوفمبر 2021

محمد صادق الحسيني

يفيد مصدر أمني خاص جداً بانّ ثمة غرفة عمليات مشتركة لما يُعرف بالتحالف العربي لا تزال تأمل في إعاقة تقدّم أنصار الله باتجاه وسط مدينة مأرب، يشترك فيها بالإضافة إلى ضباط بريطانيين، ١٤ ضابط أركان “إسرائيلي” يشاركون جنباً الى جنب مع ضباط سعوديين في ما بات يسمّيه أنصار الله آخر معارك اليمن الكبرى…!

كما تفيد أنباء متداولة في الكواليس وفي صالونات السياسة الإقليمية أنّ حاكم أبو ظبي يتجه لخسارة مدوية لحرب الموانئ التي أوحى يوماً بأنه امتلك ناصيتها فيما هو آخذ في التقهقر نحو اليابسة الإيرانية، بخاصة بعد أن قطعت عليه تل أبيب خطوط إمداداته النفطية من إيلات إلى عسقلان أو أشدود (بحسب وزارة الطاقة الإسرائيلية التي طالبت بوقف مشروعه)!

هذا كما تفيد الأنباء بأنّ الزيارة المرتقبة في الساعات المقبلة لابن زايد إلى أنقرة إنما تأتي في هذا السياق، أي التنسيق مع غريمه الإخواني السابق أردوغان، لكيفية استخدام الأراضي الإيرانية للتجارة الدولية بدلاً من خط إيلات ـ عسقلان، وذلك في إطار المشروع الصيني العملاق: حزام واحد ـ طريق واحد.

 وعودة التركي إلى “بيت الصديق” كما عبّر أحمد شاويش أوغلو في طهران مستحضراً بيت شعر شهيراً لأحد شعراء إيران القدامى، وهو بضيافة عبد اللهيان، فإنّ ثمة من فسّرها بهذا الاتجاه أيضاً.

أيّ تقهقر المشروع التركي في البحار بعد غزواته الفاشلة الثلاث في المتوسط والأحمر وبحر الخزر (ليبيا ـ اليمن ـ أذربايجان)، وتراجع وتيرة الصراع التركي- الإيراني لصالح اتفاقية طويلة الأمد بين البلدين يتمّ التحضير لتوقيعها بين أنقرة وطهران خلال زيارة مرتقبة لأردوغان إلى العاصمة الإيرانية قريباً.

كلّ ذلك يقول عارفون ومطلعون لما يحصل على حدود شبه الجزيرة العربية بين أنصار الله وأرباب الحرب الكونية على اليمن منذ 7 سنوات، والتي تبوء بالفشل وتتوه في صحراء الربع الخالي كما حصل لسابقتها الحرب الكونية على سورية وتكسّر نصالها على أبواب الشام.

لا يظنن أحد أبداً بأنّ زيارة الوزير التركي للبنان وهو الآتي إليه من طهران، والأخرى القطرية المشابهة المرتقبة، إنما تأتي في إطار مبادرات إنقاذ الرياض أو إنزالها من الشجرة كما يتصوّر البعض، أو حتى إصلاح ذات البين بينها وبين بيروت، أبداً بل هي للتقرّب من محور المقاومة المنتصر، وقبل ذلك وبعده فهي من ثمار ذلك الفشل الكبير للغزوات “الجهادية” المندحرة على أسوار مدننا، والتي يتمّ تتويج هزيمتها الكلية في هذه الساعات ضدّ حكم الرياض أيضاً وعلى يد أنصار اليمن الأحرار القابضين على الجمر طوال 7 سنين من الحرب والحصار.

أن هروب مرتزقة تحالف العدوان من الحديدة على عجل ومن دون ترتيب مسبق لا مع الرياض ولا مع الأمم المتحدة والذي سموه إعادة تموضع أو إعادة انتشار، إنما هو انكسار مرّ اضطروا له خوفاً من خسارة ما هو أخطر.

فالأنصار يُطهّرون الآن مدينة مأرب والوادي حيث مجمع صافر النفطي يتجهون لوصله بمجمع بلحاف للغاز في شبوة وعينهم على البحر جنوباً لقطع الطريق على مشروع نظام الرياض التاريخي الذي ظلّ يسعى لسنوات طويلة لتوظيف الأراضي اليمنية جسر عبور للوصول لإعادة رسم خطوط تصدير نفطه ملتفاً عن مضيق هرمز باتجاه بحر العرب.

كلّ هذا يحصل وسط إعادة رسم الخريطة الكونية كلها بين القوى العظمى التي خاضت حروب أنابيب الطاقة والمضائق والبحار خلال السنوات العشر الماضية، والتي يُقال إذا ما نجح أنصار الله في إكمال خطتهم الخاصة بتحرير اليمن كل اليمن، فإنهم ليس فقط سيأخذون لهم دور بارز في المعادلة الكونية الجديدة جيوسياسياً وجيواقتصادياً بل وجيواستراتيجياً أيضاً، أي بلغة أخرى سيقلبون الطاولة على الجميع.

وما ترونه اليوم من تدافع أو تدفق على دمشق لمصالحتها، سترون أضعافه على صنعاء، ما بعد انقراض القبيلة الحاكمة في الرياض عاصمة الوهابيين، وانتقال مركز ثقل الجزيرة العربية صوب الركن اليماني جنوباً.

وعندها فقط سترون كيف أن مرفأ بيروت سيستعيد عافيته فيما يأفل نجم ميناء حيفا وأشدود وعسقلان فعلاً.

وكذلك ستستعيد بغداد الرافدين دجلة والفرات من هيمنة قرار الغزاة المتعدّدي الجنسيات وكلاء الناتو ومخلبه الجنوبي الطوراني.

ويومها أيضاً سترون كيف أن مدن المقاومة والتصدي لمشاريع الهيمنة الغربية من جزائر الأطلس الكبير إلى تخوم جدار الصين العظيم تأخذ دورها الرائد في إعادة رسم جغرافيا آخر الزمان.

قاحلة أنت يا مدن الملح اليوم أكثر من أيّ وقت مضى بفضل الصبر الاستراتيجي لأنصار الله ومسيرتهم القرآنية التي وضع أسسها الشهيد القائد السيد حسين بدر الدين الحوثي.

وعامرة وعزيزة أنت اليوم يا مدن اليمن المنصور بالله بفضل قيادة القائد السيد عبد الملك بدر الدين الحوثي بحكمته وصبره ومعجزات رجاله الأنصار، وعقول كوادر اليمن المبدعة وما يقدّمونه من تضحيات من مأرب حتى باب المندب.

*بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله*

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Here Comes China: Taiwan, RCEP, Earth-science satellite and The Plenum

November 08, 2021

Here Comes China: Taiwan, RCEP, Earth-science satellite and The Plenum

By Amarynth for the Saker Blog

Taiwan. In this article, Taiwan crossing the Red Line when the leader of the Taiwan region, Tsai Ing-wen, admitted to the presence of US military trainers on the island for the first time, was discussed. This was an open secret but the admission in public made it necessary for China to respond.  Now it is clear what form the response is taking.  At the time, all the media in English called for ‘punishment’.  There is always the option of kinetic action but China considers Taiwan as Chinese (despite the civil war) and the leadership really does not want to act kinetically against what they consider fellow Chinese. Soon we saw the words, Taiwan Separatists, appearing in the Chinese media. The reunification groups in Taiwan are becoming visible and reunification is presented as a fait accompli.

Here comes the ‘punishment’ but first the ‘accusation’.

China is accusing the Taiwan separatists of crimes against the peace:

  • inciting cross-Straits confrontation,
  • maliciously attacking and slandering the mainland and colluding with foreign forces to split the country.
  • undermining cross-Straits relations, peace, and stability in the Taiwan Straits, and therefore the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation.

This is the punishment

  • The separatists have been placed on a blacklist and circulating in Chinese social media, the words ‘dead or alive’ are used.
  • They and their families are banned from entering the mainland and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
  • Organizations related to them are restricted from cooperating with organizations and individuals on the mainland, and enterprises related to them and their financial backers are not allowed to make profits on the mainland.
  • The mainland will pursue criminal responsibility for the separatists in accordance with the law, and they will be held accountable for life.

In other words, they are being treated as traitors to their nation and their state and the peace, and there is no place to hide.

While there is no date for reunification yet, the laws governing such a reunification are being drawn up. The expectation is that the hot public opinion war between the reunificationists, separatists, and mainlanders will continue for a while yet. We can be thankful that it is a public opinion war and for now the probability of kinetic action between China and Taiwan is low. The western forces (US, NATO, European Union, etc.) are the dark horse in this configuration. We don’t know what to expect from a stated policy of strategic ambiguity, but which is openly hostile, running regime change operations, and stationing soldiers as trainers in what is China’s province.  Washington is expected to continue making noise and petty moves until they understand that reunification is not a choice, but a firm given.

The Chinese perspective on this:

US used to deter China by conducting military exercise around China, and the strategy recently changed to make its generals, political leaders and media contantly talking tough about Taiwan.

Why? Run out of budget? I know It is cheaper to conduct lip exercise.

— Dai Weiwei (@WEIWEIDAI4) November 8, 2021

[Sidebar] While we are discussing paradigm collapse themes in general in our world, the issue around Taiwan is considered internally as a guide or a measure of the current collapse of the paradigm of a single hegemonic world, into a multipolar world. This is their yardstick and their measure.  In other words, it is a sign of the times.

The RCEP has now been ratified. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement will take effect at the start of January. This is the largest trade agreement in all of the world and in all of history. Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea have signed and ratified the RCEP agreement. (This is the agreement where India was part of the group and then would not sign and stomped off).

Yes, you are right to sit up and take notice. Both Australia and Japan are in the lineup. What do we make of that?  Australia is most probably figuring out where their food comes from and this is the first trade agreement where Japan is involved with both China and South Korea.

RCEP is huge. It groups the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) plus Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea.


In the past few weeks, we had the twin spectacles of the G20 meeting and COP26 with the two most imminent leaders in our world not only not attending, but giving short shrift to the messaging in general, both leaders making simple statements that they will do what they will do generally but will fulfill agreements that they made.

[Sidebar] Again we can link this to a paradigm collapse theme in general where the disintegrating late-Washington world order attempts to implement political technology projects, doomed to fail, for people with no critical thinking.

And just days after COP26, China took the lead again by launching a new sophisticated Earth-science satellite. They have about 30 similar but less sophisticated measuring systems in orbit, but this one is dedicated to the UN 2030 Agenda, of course, to meet and fulfill agreements made with a factual presentation of actual data. What becomes clear is that the cheaters and self-worshipping big hot air statement makers from COP26 cannot hide their own actions any longer. (You can run but you can’t hide). If there are agreements to be made, China will measure the data and do the count.

Developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the satellite will carry out precision analysis of energy consumption, habitat patterns, and coastal areas in the vicinity of human populations, and provide data for sustainable development indicators.  This launch is the 395th flight of the Long March rocket series, developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology.

A few data points gleaned from the Here Comes China Newsletter from Godfree Roberts (link at the end).

Governance:  President Xi proposed a ten-year education plan for SCO members, four of which are Central Asian nations: 30,000 government scholarships to study in China, plus 10,000 places for Confucius Institute teachers and students. Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, a fluent Mandarin speaker, studied in China. Ex-deputy PM Dariga Nazarbayev argued that closer ties to China is the destiny of Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan’s President Sadyr Japarov‘s parents lived in China for decades. Read full article →

The US is attempting to disrupt China’s Belt & Road Initiative across many parts of the world, so the BRI is setting up shop in Cuba, says Tom Fowdy, “China’s willingness to deepen ties with Cuba is illustrative of a broader strategic shift. In the past few years, Beijing may have been too wary of getting close to Havana for fear of upsetting the US or diluting its unilateral sanctions, but as the new reality of US-China competition has crystalized, and as Washington has sought to exploit the role of Taiwan, Cuba naturally becomes a means to push back”. Read full article →

The UN passed a Chinese draft resolution calling for peaceful cooperation on international security, the first arms control resolution proposed by Beijing in its 30 years as a member state. “Promoting International Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security”, was approved with 75 votes in favour and 55 against. Beijing’s resolution was fuelled by a desire to enhance international security by preventing harmful military cooperation between countries, citing the trilateral Aukus deal in particular. Read full article →

Covid Policy in China.  China moved fast and closed down a Disney theme park in about 2 hours and tested everyone.  They also closed down schools for Covid testing. They believe that a Zero Covid policy is less costly than living with it and reintroducing restrictions each time outbreaks occur, China’s top expert, Zhong Nanshan, says. “The country had no option but to aim for zero infections because the coronavirus was replicating quickly and the global death rate of about 2% was unacceptable. Some countries have decided to open up entirely despite still having a few infections. That led to a large number of infections in the past two months and they decided to reimpose restrictions. This flip-flopping is more costly and the psychological impact on citizens is greater.”  https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3154568/zero-covid-still-less-costly-living-it-chinas-top-expert-zhong

The Sixth Plenum

Best described as the beginning of a new epoch, the Sixth Plenum of the 19th Party Congress has started. This is a big deal with a “resolution on history” on the cards. Only three of these have been adopted. The first was in 1945 and served to firmly cement Mao’s era of revolution. The second was adopted in 1981 and served a similar function for Deng with his reform and opening-up policy. It is expected that Xi Jinping will be established as a long-term party leader and charting what is termed a new era.  These resolutions are not only statements of the past, but serve strongly to confirm a new direction. The era of the Deng Xiaoping-inspired “opening and reform era” is now closing and Xi Jinping’s New Era will be entered as the era of Common Prosperity. While we usually talk about Mao and Deng and now Xi Jingping, the acknowledged representatives of the Chinese System and CCP are Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao.


We will hear more from this Plenum.  It is clear, that at least in China, they consider this to be of considerable importance.

Something that people should bear in mind when looking at Chinese governance:  These are not entry-level people.  By the time that they become household names, they have solid education and successful previous governance experience.  China is a merit-based country in its governance.

Please go and enjoy episode six of Nathan Rich’s excellent Epic China series, dealing specifically with the opium war.  Note that 1839 was the last year in history that China was completely free of official foreign interventionism.

In 1839, The Qing Dynasty sought to reason with Britain (“The Lion”), to stop its illegal cartel opium smuggling operations.

Here is the playlist of previous episodes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gl1bPVn81Ok&list=PLo4_KHAgJYFypZFLczc5xf-BzNAfcHGgG

Many of the data points here are courtesy of Godfree Roberts’ extensive weekly newsletter: Here Comes China. You can get it here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

When the West was itchin’ to go to China 

October 17, 2021

When the West was itchin’ to go to China 

The old Silk Roads played a major role in connecting the world through trade, and the new version can too

by Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Forget about the incessant drumming of Cold War 2.0 against China. Forget about think-tank simpletons projecting their wishful thinking on the perpetual “end of China’s rise.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is SilkRds1-300x203.jpg

Forget even about a few sound minds in Brussels – yes, they do exist – saying Europe does not want containment of China; it wants engagement, which means business.

Let’s time travel to nearly two millennia ago, when the Roman Empire was fascinated by the business opportunities offered by those “mysterious” lands in the East.

After the Fall of Rome and the Western half of the Empire in the 5th century, Constantinople – the second Rome – which was in fact Greek, turned into the maximum embodiment of the only true “Romans.”

Yet contrary to the Hellenistic Greeks following Alexander the Great, who were so enticed by Asia, Romans from the end of the Republic to the establishment of the Empire were prevented from traveling further on down the road, because they were always blocked by the Parthians: never forget the spectacular Roman defeat at Carrhae in 53 BC.

For more than four centuries, in fact, the eastern limes of the Empire were remarkably stable, ranging from the mountains of eastern Armenia to the course of the Euphrates and the Syria-Mesopotamian deserts.

So we had in fact three natural limes: mountain, river and desert.

Rome’s overarching strategy was not to allow the Parthians – and then the Persians – to totally dominate Armenia, reach the Black Sea and go beyond the Caucasus to reach the Russo-Ukrainian plains and forward to Europe.

The Persians, meanwhile, limited themselves to strengthening the Euphrates borders, which were only broken many centuries later, by the Seljuk Turks in the late 12th century and the Mongols in the early 13th century.

This is an absolutely crucial fracture in the history of Eurasia – because this border, later perpetuated between the Ottoman and Persian empires, is still alive and kicking today, between Turkey and Iran.

It explains, for instance, the current high tension between Iran and Azerbaijan, and it will continue to be exploited non-stop by divide and rule actors.

Visual search query image

Something extraordinary happened in the year 166: Roman merchants arrived at the court of Chinese emperor Huan-ti, the 27th emperor of the Han dynasty. We learn from the History of the Later Han that a “Roman envoy” – probably sent by none other than emperor Marcus Aurelius – was received by Huan-ti in Luoyang.

They traveled via what the Chinese in the 21st century would rename the Maritime Silk Road – from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea all the way to northern Vietnam, then overland to Chang’an – today’s Xian.

Trade along the Silk Road was in fact conducted by an array of intermediaries: nobody traveled the whole way back to back.

Luxury industry products – silk, pearls, precious stones, pepper – from China, India and Arabia came into contact with Roman merchants only in one of the fabled hubs of the “communication corridors” between East and West: Alexandria, Petra or Palmyra. Then the cargo would be loaded in Eastern Mediterranean ports all the way to Rome.

Caravan trade was controlled by Nabateans, Egyptians and Syrians. The most efficient “Roman” traders were in fact Greeks from the Eastern Mediterranean. Scholar JN Robert has shown how, since Alexander, Greek was a sort of universal language – like English today – from Rome to the Pamir mountains, from Egypt to kingdoms that were born out of the Persian Empire.

And that brings us to a literally groundbreaking character: Maes Titianus, a Greek-Macedonian trader who was living in Antioch in Roman Syria during the 1st century.

The trip was epic – and lasted more than one year. They started in Syria, crossed the Euphrates, kept going all the way to Bactria (with fabled Balkh as capital) via Khorasan, crossed the Tian Shan mountains, reached Chinese Turkestan, then traversed the Gansu corridor and the Gobi desert all the way to Chang’an.

Since the legendary Geographical Guide by Claudius Ptolemy, the Maes Titianus caravan is recognized as the only Classic Antiquity source completely describing the main Ancient Silk Road land corridor from Roman Syria to the Chinese capital.

It’s crucial to note that Bactria, in today’s northern Afghanistan, at the time was the known eastern limes of the world, according to the Romans. But Bactria was way more than that; the key trade crossroads between China, India, the Parthians and Persia, and the Roman empire.

The Pamir mountains – the “roof of the world” – and the Taklamakan desert (“you can get in but you won’t get out”, goes the Uighur saying) were for centuries the major natural barriers for the West to reach China.

So it was geology that kept China in splendid isolation relative to the Roman empire and the West. In military terms, the Romans and then the Byzantines never managed to cross this eastern border that separated them from the Persians. So they never managed to advance their conquests all the way to Central Asia and China, as Alexander famously tried.

Yet the Arabs, during the lightning-fast expansion of Islam, actually managed it. But that’s another – long – story.

The Maes Titianus caravan adventure happened no less than over a millennium before the travels of Marco Polo. Yet Polo had much more sophisticated PR – and that’s the narrative imprinted in Western history books.

To evoke it now is a reminder of the early steps of the Ancient Silk Roads, and how the interconnectedness remains imprinted in the collective unconscious of great parts of Eurasia. Peoples along the routes instinctively understand why an evolving trade corridor uniting China-Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran-Eastern Mediterranean makes total sense.

Parachuted Prime Minister Mario “Goldman Sachs” Draghi may insist that Italy is Atlanticist, and may be constantly deriding the BRI. But sharp heirs of the Roman Empire do see that business partnerships along New Silk Road corridors make as much good sense as during the time of Maes Titianus.

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