بكين وصلت إلى دمشق.. ماذا بعد؟

22 تموز2021

المصدر: الميادين

أحمد الدرزي

حملت زيارة الصين إلى دمشق 3 أبعاد، فقد تم فيها دعوة دمشق إلى الدخول في مشروعها الكبير وبدأ العمل فيها على البنى التحتية الضرورية.

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كان واضحاً الحرص الصيني على الوصول إلى دمشق في تاريخ القسم الرئاسي نفسه، للدلالة على الدعم الكبير لها.

تعاطى السوريون مع قدوم وزير الخارجية الصيني في يوم القسم الرئاسي إلى سوريا، والذي حمل دلالات رمزية عميقة، بمشاعر متباينة بين التفاؤل والتشاؤم، وخصوصاً أن الوضع الاقتصادي ضاغط بشدة على القاعدة الأكبر منهم، التي تجاوزت 90% من مجموع السكان، فأي مسارات ستسلكها العلاقات بين البلدين؟ وما انعكاسها على الوضع السوري الداخلي والخارجي؟

لا يعدّ اهتمام قادة بكين بسوريا وليد اللحظة، إذ إنه يمتد إلى نهايات الألفية الثانية، مع صعود الصين التي بدأت نهضتها الحقيقية في العام 1978، بمجيء دينغ هسياو بينغ. وكان من المفترض أن تحصل قفزة كبيرة في العلاقة بين البلدين بعد زيارة الرئيس الأسد لبكين في العام 2004، ولكن المشاريع الاقتصادية التي كان من المفترض أن تقوم بها الأخيرة في مدينة عدرا العمالية تم إيقافها لأسباب غير معروفة.

مع مجيء تشي جينبينغ في العام 2013 إلى موقع الرئاسة في الصين، تم الإعلان عن مبادرة “الحزام والطريق” التي قُدّرت كلفتها بحدود 4 تريليون دولار. وكان اللافت للنظر هو استبعاد سوريا والعراق من المشروع، واعتبار شمال غرب إيران وجنوب شرق تركيا الممرَّ البري نحو أوروبا، واعتبار مرفأ حيفا في فلسطين المحتلة المرفأ المعتمد في شرق البحر الأبيض المتوسط. 

أخذت السياسات الصينية تُظهر نفسها على المستوى السياسي بعد إدراك قادة بكين أن القدرات الاقتصادية الهائلة التي أتاحت لهم بناء قدرة عسكرية دفاعية، تتيح لهم ترجمة ذلك، لتحويل الصين إلى قطب دولي موازٍ للقطب الأميركي الأوحد، ما دفع الرئيس جينبينغ إلى الإعلان عن اعتباره أن العالم أصبح متعدد الأقطاب، ولا عودة عن ذلك، وذلك من منبر الأمم المتحدة في العام 2015.

ارتفعت نبرة التحدي الصيني بعد مجيء الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة بقيادة بايدن، واعتبارها كلاً من الصين وروسيا تهديدين استراتيجيين للولايات المتحدة، ما دفع الرئيس الصيني إلى الإعلان عن أنَّ “زمن التنمّر على الصين ولَّى بلا رجعة”.

كما أحدث الانسحاب الأميركي غير المشروط من أفغانستان، وتركه الفوضى والاضطرابات من خلال سيطرة حركة “طالبان”، قلقاً لدى دول الجوار، ما دفع 40 دولة إلى عقد مؤتمر آسيا الوسطى والجنوبية في مدينة طشقند في أوزباكستان بتاريخ 15 تموز/يوليو الماضي، بعنوان لافت للنظر هو “الترابط الإقليمي، تحديات وفرص”.

وكان من الواضح من خلال طبيعة تحركات وزير الخارجية الصيني أنَّ القرار اتخذ بضرورة تأمين منطقة غرب آسيا، التي تشمل المنطقة الممتدة من أفغانستان إلى شرق البحر الأبيض المتوسط، وهو ما يقتضي بطبيعة الحال إخراج سوريا من منطقة الصراعات الدولية والإقليمية، فالتقى القوى الدولية والإقليمية المؤثرة في الملف السوري، ممثّلة بكل من وزيري خارجية روسيا سيرغي لافروف والمملكة العربية السعودية سعود الفرحان في اليوم الأول. وفِي اليوم الثاني، التقى وزير خارجية تركيا مولود جاويش أوغلو قبل التوجّه إلى دمشق.

كان واضحاً الحرص الصيني على الوصول إلى دمشق في تاريخ القسم الرئاسي، للدلالة على الدعم الكبير لها، وعلى أنّ بقاء الرئيس الأسد في سدة الحكم لم يكن سوى مظهر لنتائج الصراع الدولي والإقليمي وتحولاته الكبرى، وتأكيداً على دور الصين في المرحلة القادمة في تأمين الجغرافيا السورية كمنطقة آمنة، بالتعاون والتنسيق بشكل أساسي مع موسكو وطهران، وإشراك المملكة العربية السعودية التي تعتبر قاطرة دول الخليج، إضافة إلى مصر التي زارها في اليوم التالي، والتقى فيها الرئيس المصري عبد الفتاح السيسي، ومعالجة الدور التركي السلبي الذي لم يفِ بتعهداته لبكين بتسليم القيادات الإرهابية التركستانية، رغم الدعم الاقتصادي الصيني لها.

وكان لاتصال وزير الخارجية وانغ يي بوزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف في اليوم الذي زار فيه دمشق دلالة كبيرة، وخصوصاً أن بيان وزارة الخارجية الصيني أعلن استعداد الصين للعمل مع إيران على مواجهة السياسات الأحادية والهيمنة، وهو ما يعني بالضرورة التوافق مع استراتيجيتها بإخراج الأميركيين من غرب آسيا بأكملها، وخصوصاً سوريا والعراق، ما يمهّد الطريق لدخول مبادرة “الحزام والطريق” إلى كل من العراق وسوريا ولبنان.

حملت الزيارة الصينية إلى دمشق 3 أبعاد، فقد تم فيها دعوة دمشق إلى الدخول في مشروعها الكبير، أسوةً ببقية الدول التي وافقت عليه، وبدأ العمل فيها على البنى التحتية الضرورية. 

وللتأكيد على ذلك، وقعت على اتفاقيات الاستثمار في كل مدينة عدرا الصناعية واللاذقية، وعلى إنشاء خط بري من الشمال إلى الجنوب، يربط دول الخليج العربي وشمال أفريقيا بتركيا وأوروبا، وبناء خط لسكك الحديد يربط مرفأ طرطوس بالعراق وإيران وباكستان والصين، إضافةً إلى الاستثمار في قطاع النفط والغاز، والجانب الآخر يتعلق بالمساعدات التي يمكن أن تقدمها إلى سوريا.

وقد توج ذلك بمبادرة للحل السياسي وفق قرارات الأمم المتحدة، مع الدعم الكبير لتصورات دمشق في أكثر القضايا، وخصوصاً ما يتعلق بالإدارة الذاتية والاحتلال التركي، عندما لمّحت المبادرة إلى “رفض جميع المخططات المحفزة على الانقسامات العرقية تحت ذريعة مكافحة الإرهاب”، إضافةً إلى شرط أساسي: “ينبغي دعم حل سياسي شامل وتصالحي للقضية السورية” بقيادة السوريين.

من الواضح أنَّ المساهمة الصينية في مساعدة سوريا اقتصادياً وسياسياً مرتبطة بتحقيق متطلبات أساسية، تتعلق بتغيير بيئة العمل الاقتصادي وتغيير التشريعات الاقتصادية، وهو ما تعهّد به الرئيس الأسد في خطاب القسم، عندما أكّد أن العمل في المرحلة القادمة سيكون على مكافحة الفساد وإصدار تشريعات اقتصادية جديدة.

أما الحلّ السياسي، فقد يذهب نحو مسار تشكيل منصّة للمعارضة السورية الداخلية بعنوان منصة دمشق، تكون مهمّتها الأساس إيجاد أرضية للحوار والتفاوض بين الطرفين في دمشق، وليس جنيف، وإنهاء دور المنصات التي تشكل امتدادات دولية وإقليمية.

بعد أن اختارت دمشق قرار التوجّه شرقاً، تطلَّب منها ذلك الشروع في تحقيق المتطلبات الثلاثة الآنفة الذكر، وهو ما ينتظره أغلب السوريين الذين طحنتهم الحرب، والذين يبحثون عن مخرج لاسترداد حياتهم السابقة واستعادة المناطق المحتلة في الشمال السوري وجنوبه، والبدء بإعادة إعمار ما تهدم على الصعيد الاجتماعي والاقتصادي، والّذي تعجز عنه الدولة السورية وحدها.  

China’s Foreign Minister Meets President Assad and Syrian Officials, Signs Economic Agreement

 MIRI WOOD 

President Bashar Assad receives China Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Damascus

President Bashar al Assad welcomed China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi and his delegation, to Damascus on Saturday, 17 July. They discussed the “historic and distinguished relations binding the two friendly countries,” a relationship that dates back more than two thousand years.

Minister Wang brought felicitations from China’s President Xi Jinping on Dr. Assad winning re-election, “noting that the success of this entitlement indicates the people’s victory and their firm determination to resist all challenges and domination attempts.

President Assad thanked China for its ongoing support for the Levantine republic’s territorial integrity, support for Syria’s sovereignty in international forums, and for her support “to the Syrian people in various fields” (e.g., in 2018, the People’s Republic of China generously sent a 118 container cargo of transformers, cable, and other essentials to help the Syrian Arab Republic rebuild its electrical grid destroyed by NATO-supported terrorists; in 2019, the People’s Republic sent one-hundred public buses to enhance the transportation sector).

China Grants Syria Electrical Transformers
Gifts of transformers and buses from the People’s Republic of China, to the Syrian Arab Republic.

Syria and China discussed entering a new stage in bilateral relations, to open “wider horizons…to serve the interests of the two countries and peoples.”

President al Assad noted China’s “strong presence and its ethical policies which serve most countries around the world.” Minister Wang stated that China will continue to “support the Syrian people in the war against terrorism,” and in condemnation of the illicit sanctions imposed on the Syrian people and their inherent right to self-determination (which — of course — includes their right to elect the president of their choosing, despite NATO countries demanding the right to dictate their leader).

Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China
Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China.

As expected, the two friendly nations discussed Syria’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, sometimes referred to as The New Silk Road. The Belt and Road is the rebirth of the Ancient Silk Road, a 4,000 mile/6437 kilometer route of economic trade and cultural development ‘built’ around 139 BCE. The route lasted throughout the late 1300s, and also inspired Ibn al Nadim’s 10th century The Thousand Stories. Compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age, this work of literary art was a collection of stories and folk tales spanning the Asian continent during the period of great creativity and trade along the path of development.

The Ancient Silk Road spanned the Asian continent, with China and Syria playing key roles in economic trade and cultural development.

That sound of werewolves howling and hyenas barking is actually coming from frustrated NATO imperialists and their peons at keyboards, enraged over the meeting; we can expect the shrieks to become increasingly loud.

Minister Wang stated that China opposes “any attempt to seek regime change in Syria,” and that “blatant foreign interventions in Syria have failed in the past, and will not succeed in the future.”

President Assad stated that “Syria unconditionally supports China on Taiwan, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong issues.”

The visiting Chinese Minister Mr. Yi held another meeting with his Syrian counterpart Mr. Faisal Mekdad after which the ministers attended the signing of an agreement of economic and technical cooperation between Syria and China, a step toward practical work that will see China entering the Levant, properly after it entered through some investment in Israel, and Syria entering the route of the Belt and Road initiative.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi holds takls in Damascus and signs economic agreement
Syria and China ink economic and technical agreement in Damascus

China, which vetoed a number of draft resolutions presented by NATO member states against Syria at the United Nations Security Council in a non-precedented diplomatic move in using its veto power for non-Chinese national security resolutions, and in which it was not required when the Russian veto was already there, is now challenging the US-led strangling blockade and sanctions against the Syrian people.

— Miri Wood and Arabi Souri

Postscript: Ibn al Nadim’s The Thousand Nights was the basis for the fairy tale of Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp (set in China), and Prussian Christian Maximilian Habicht and Tunisian Mordechai ibn al Najjar co-authorship of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, via Antun Yosuf Hanna Diyab, a Syrian writer, cloth merchant, and famous storyteller, living in Paris in the 1600’s.

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New Great Game gets back to basics

New Great Game gets back to basics

July 13, 2021

Russia-China-Iran alliance is taking Afghanistan’s bull by the horns

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The Great Game: This lithograph by British Lieutenant James Rattray shows Shah Shuja in 1839 after his enthronement as Emir of Afghanistan in the Bala Hissar (fort) of Kabul. Rattray wrote: ‘A year later the sanctity of the scene was bloodily violated: Shah Shuja was murdered.’ Photo: Wikipedia

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a Central Asian loop all through the week. He’s visiting Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The last two are full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, founded 20 years ago.

The SCO heavyweights are of course China and Russia. They are joined by four Central Asian “stans” (all but Turkmenistan), India and Pakistan. Crucially, Afghanistan and Iran are observers, alongside Belarus and Mongolia.

And that leads us to what’s happening this Wednesday in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital. The SCO will hold a 3 in 1: meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, and a conference titled “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities.”

At the same table, then, we will have Wang Yi, his very close strategic partner Sergey Lavrov and, most importantly, Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar. They’ll be debating trials and tribulations after the hegemon’s withdrawal and the miserable collapse of the myth of NATO “stabilizing” Afghanistan.

Let’s game a possible scenario: Wang Yi and Lavrov tell Atmar, in no uncertain terms, that there’s got to be a national reconciliation deal with the Taliban, brokered by Russia-China, with no American interference, including the end of the opium-heroin ratline.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi chats with guests after the opening ceremony of the Lanting Forum in Beijing on June 25. Photo: AFP / Jade Gao

Russia-China extract from the Taliban a firm promise that jihadism won’t be allowed to fester. The endgame: loads of productive investment, Afghanistan is incorporated to Belt and Road and – later on – to the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

The SCO’s joint statement on Wednesday will be particularly enlightening, perhaps detailing how the organization plans to coordinate a de facto Afghan peace process farther down the road.

In this scenario, the SCO now has the chance to implement what it has been actively discussing for years: that only an Asian solution to the Afghan drama applies.

Sun Zhuangzhi, executive director of the Chinese Research Center of the SCO, sums it all up: the organization is capable of coming up with a plan mixing political stability, economic and security development and a road map for infrastructure development projects.

The Taliban agree. Spokesman Suhail Shaheen has stressed, “China is a friendly country that we welcome for reconstruction and developing Afghanistan.”

On the Silk Road again


After economic connectivity, another SCO motto encouraged by Beijing since the early 2000s is the necessity to fight the “three evils”: terrorism, separatism and extremism. All SCO members are very much aware of jihadi metastases threatening Central Asia – from ISIS-Khorasan to shady Uighur factions currently fighting in Idlib in Syria, as well as the (fading) Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

The Taliban is a way more complex case. It’s still branded as a terrorist organization by Moscow. Yet on the new, fast-evolving chessboard, both Moscow and Beijing know the importance of engaging the Taliban in high-stakes diplomacy.

Taliban fighters have taken large swathes of Afghanistan in the past two weeks. Photo: AFP / Aref Karimi

Wang Yi has already impressed upon Islamabad – Pakistan is a SCO member – the need to set up a trilateral mechanism, with Beijing and Kabul, to advance a feasible political solution to Afghanistan while managing the security front.

Building blocks include the deal struck between China Telecom and Afghan Telecom already in 2017 to build a Kashgar-Faizabad fiber optic cable system and then expand it toward a China-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan Silk Road system.

Directly connected is the deal signed in February among Islamabad, Kabul and Tashkent to build a railway that in fact may establish Afghanistan as a key crossroads between Central and South Asia. Call it the SCO corridor.

Here, from China’s point of view, it’s all about the multi-layered China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), to which Beijing plans to incorporate Kabul. Here is a detailed CPEC progress update.

All of the above was solidified by a crucial trilateral meeting last month among China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Foreign Ministers. Team Ghani in Kabul renewed its interest in being connected to Belt and Road – which translates in practice into an expanded CPEC. The Taliban said exactly the same thing last week.

Afghanistan in trade connectivity with CPEC and a key node of the New Silk Roads could not make more sense – even historically, as Afghanistan was always embedded in the ancient Silk Roads. Crossroads Afghanistan is the missing link in the connectivity equation between China and Central Asia. The devil, of course, will be in the details.

Wang Yi knows very well that jihadism is bound to target CPEC. Not Afghanistan’s Taliban, though. And not the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), as quite a few CPEC projects (fiber optics, for instance) will improve infrastructure in Peshawar and environs.

The Iranian equation


Then, to the West, there’s the Iranian equation. The recently solidified Iran-China strategic partnership may eventually lead to closer integration, with CPEC expanded to Afghanistan. The Taliban are keenly aware of it. As part of their current diplomatic offensive, they have been to Tehran and made all the right noises towards a political solution.

Their joint statement with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif privileges negotiations with Kabul. The Taliban commit to refrain from attacking civilians, schools, mosques, hospitals and NGOs.

Tehran – an observer at the SCO and on the way to becoming a full member – is actively talking to all Afghan actors. No fewer than four delegations were visiting last week. The head of Kabul’s team was former Afghan Vice President Yunus Qanooni (a former warlord, as well), while the Taliban were led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, who commands their political office in Doha. This all implies serious business.

There are already 780,000 registered Afghan refugees in Iran, living in refugee villages along the border and not allowed to settle in major cities. But there are also at least 2.5 million illegals. No wonder Tehran needs to pay attention. Zarif once again is in total synch with Lavrov – and with Wang Yi, for that matter: a non-stop war of attrition between the Kabul government and the Taliban could lead only to “unfavorable” consequences.

The question, for Tehran, revolves around the ideal framework for negotiations. That would point to the SCO. After all, Iran has not participated in the snail-paced Doha mechanism for over two years now.

Aerial view of Mashhad. Photo: Wikipedia

A debate is raging in Tehran on how to deal practically with the new Afghan equation. As I saw for myself in Mashhad less than three years ago, migration from Afghanistan – this time from skilled workers fleeing the Taliban advance – may actually help the Iranian economy.

The director general of the West Asia desk at Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Rasoul Mousavi, goes straight to the point: “The Taliban yield” to the Afghan people. “They are not separated from Afghanistan’s traditional society, and they have always been part of it. Moreover, they have military power.”

On the ground in western Afghanistan, in Herat – linked by a very busy highway corridor across the border to Mashhad – things are more complicated. The Taliban now control most of Herat province, apart from two districts.

Yet the Taliban have already vowed, in diplomatic talks with China, Russia and Iran, that they are not planning to “invade” anyone – be it Iran or the Central Asian “stans.” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has been adamant that cross-border trade in different latitudes, from Islam Quilla (in Iran) to Torghundi (in Turkmenistan) and across northern Tajikistan will “remain open and functional.”

Legendary local warlord Ismail Khan, now in his mid-70s, and carrying an overloaded history of fighting the Taliban, has deployed militias to guard the city, the airport and its outskirts.

That non-withdrawal withdrawal


In a fast-evolving situation, the Taliban now control at least half of Afghanistan’s 400 districts and are “contesting” dozens of others. They are policing some key highways (you can’t go on the road from Kabul to Kandahar, for instance, and avoid Taliban checkpoints). They do not hold any major city, yet. At least 15 of 34 regional capitals – including strategic Mazar-i-Sharif – are encircled.

Afghan news media, always very lively, have started to ask some tough questions. Such as: ISIS/Daesh did not exist in Iraq before the 2003 US invasion and occupation. So how come ISIS-Khorasan emerged right under NATO’s noses?

Within the SCO, as diplomats told me, there’s ample suspicion that the US deep state agenda is to fuel the flames of imminent civil war in Afghanistan and then extend it to the Central Asian “stans,” complete with shady jihadi commandos mixed with Uighurs also destabilizing Xinjiang.

This being the case, the non-withdrawal withdrawal – what with all those remaining 18,000 Pentagon contractors/mercenaries, plus special forces and CIA black op types – would be a cover, allowing Washington a new narrative spin: the Kabul government has invited us to fight a “terrorist” re-emergence and prevent a spiral towards civil war.

The protracted endgame would read like win-win hybrid war for the deep state and its NATO arm.

Well, not so fast. The Taliban have warned all the “stans” in no uncertain terms about hosting US military bases. And even Hamid Karzai is on the record: enough with American interference.

All these scenarios will be discussed in detail this Wednesday in Dushanbe. As well as the bright part: the – now very feasible – future incorporation of Afghanistan to the New Silk Roads.

Back to the basics: Afghanistan returns, in style, to the heart of the 21st Century New Great Game.

China’s Communist Party – A 100-Year Legacy of Success and a Forward Vision

June 30, 2021

China’s Communist Party – A 100-Year Legacy of Success and a Forward Vision

By Peter Koenig with permission and written for China’s Chongyang Institute of the Renmin University in Beijing – for the 100 Anniversary – 1 July 2021 – of China’s Communist Party.

The legendary Chinese success story goes hand-in-hand with the evolution of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and China’s Communist Revolution that began in 1945. The foundation of the CPC on 1 July 1921 signaled the end of some 200 years of China’s oppression by foreign powers, to western invasions and exploitation, grabbing China’s territories and especially her rich natural resources – and to gain trading advantages, including from the riches of China’s resources and crafts.

Background and History
About two centuries ago, foreign interferences were dominated by illegal Opium Trade that eventually culminated in two Opium WarsIn the 18th and 19th centuries Western countries, mostly Great Britain, exported opium grown in India to China. In turn, the Brits used the profits from opium sales largely to buy Chinese luxury goods, like porcelain, silk, and tea. These goods were in high demand in the west.

Much of this opium export was illegitimate and created widespread addiction throughout China, causing serious social and economic calamities. The wars were triggered by China’s attempting to suppress the trade, that grew tremendously from about 1820 onwards. In early 1839 the Chinese government confiscated and destroyed more than 20,000 chests of opium (chest = about 63.5 kg) — some 1,400 tons of the drug—that were warehoused at Canton, Guangzhou Province by British merchants. By 1838 imports had grown to some 40,000 chests annually.

In July 1839, British sailors killed a Chinese villager. The British government refused to turn the accused over to be judged in Chinese courts. The Brits did not wish its subjects to be tried in the Chinese legal system, and refused to turn the accused men over to the Chinese courts.

This conflict prompted the first Opium War (1839 – 1842), fought between the UK and the Qing dynasty (1644 to 1912), with the British objective to legalize the opium trade. This did not happen, which led to the Second Opium war (1856 – 1860), also called the Anglo-French war. But China did not win the wars and the nefarious addiction-causing trade continued for several more decades.

China’s British-forced war-concession to the winner, was to hand over the island of Hong Kong to British administration. In addition, China had to legalize the opium trade and concede a number of trading ports to the Brits, as well as opening travel for foreigners into China and granting residencies for Wester envoys to China. And an important concession for a predominantly Buddhist country was that China had to grant freedom of movement to Christian missionaries throughout China.

The wars and the resulting multiple concession of China, prompted an era of unequal treaties between China and foreign imperialist powers, aka, the UK, France, Germany, the United States, Russia and Japan. China was forced to concede many of her territorial and sovereignty rights. These encroachments on Chinese sovereignty weakened and eventually brought down the Qing dynasty, leading to a revolution on October 10, 1911, bringing the Kuomintang (KMT) to power. They are also referred to as the Chinese National Party and founded the Republic of China on 1 January 1912. 

The founder of the KMT and initial ruler of China after the 1911 revolution, Sun Yat-sen attempted to modernize China along western lines and values – which was not accepted by the Chinese people. The next couple of decades of KMT rule were rather chaotic times, during which Sun Tat-sen was unable to control China which fractured into many regions controlled by warlords. To strengthen its position and to gain back control of the country, the KMT was seeking alliance with the new fledgling Communist Party, forging the first United Front, but was still unable to control all of China. After Sun Yat-sen died in 1925, Chiang Kai-shek (1887–1975) took over and became the KMT strong man.

——–

The creation of the Communist Party of China on 1 July 1921, was deeply marked by the preceding history. One of the CPC’s key objective was that China would never again be dominated by wester colonial powers. The CPC became a force to be reckoned with, as it grew stronger by increased solidarity forged throughout communities and regions of China which all pursued the same goal – independence from foreign colonization and exploitation and the creation of a sovereign communist China, with a sovereign socialist economy.

With the support of the west, notably the UK and the United States, the KMT-led government of the Republic of China (ROC) entered in 1927 into a civil war with the forces of the CPC. The war was intermittent, but basically played out in two major phases, until 1949. The first phase can be described as a war of attrition. It lasted until 1937, when due to the Japanese invasion of China, KMT-CPC hostilities were put on hold. Instead, a KMT-CPC alliance fought and defeated the Japanese. This was also called the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression(1937–1945).

The KMT – CPC civil war resumed with the victory over the Japanese forces, and entered its second, but most violent and decisive final phase from 1945 to 1949. This phase is also called the beginning of the Chinese Communist Revolution, during which the CPC gained the upper hand and finally defeated the Kuomintang on the Chinese mainland.

The leader of KMT (1928 – 1975), Chiang Kai-shek, fled the mainland and established himself and the KMT in what was originally called by her Portuguese discoverers in 1542, Ilha Formosa (“beautiful island”), located north of the Philippines and the South China Sea, some 180 km off the Southeastern coast of China.

In 1895 Formosa became “Taiwan” meaning “foreigners” referring to the early Chinese settlers on the island. Today Taiwan is again integral part of China, since the Treaty of San Francisco (WWII Allied Forces Peace Agreement with Japan, signed on 8 September 1951), when Japan ceased its occupation of Taiwan, returning the island back to China.

Though an integral part of China, Taiwan is still occupied by the KMT Regime, calling it the Republic of China or ROC, the name taken over from KMT’s reign over mainland China until their defeat by the CPC in 1949, which also marked the beginning of the new communist People’s Republic of China (PRC).

This internationally illegal control of Taiwan by the KMT has been going on since 1949, but especially for the last 50 years, when on 25 October 1971, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the PRC, led by the CPC, as “the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations” and removed the representatives of the Chiang Kai-shek ROC regime of Taiwan from the United Nations. Nevertheless, today still 15 nations, including the Vatican, of the 193 UN member nations recognize Taiwan as the official China. Many of them would like to switch to the officially recognized CPC-led mainland China, but are coerced, predominantly by the US and the UK, not to do so.

Over the past several decades, the United States, the UK and other western allies have continually sought to destabilize China by interfering in Taiwan, meaning in China’s internal affairs. The latest such events include the US weapons sale for US$ 5 billion to Taiwan in December 2020, and earlier this year, the U.S. Ambassador to the Pacific Island of Palau (Palau being one of the states recognizing Taiwan), became the first US envoy to travel to Taiwan in an official capacity, since Washington cut formal ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing in 1979.

In addition, the US is promoting closer relations with Taiwan through the so-called Taipei Act, signed in April 2020, calling for strengthening trade relations and diplomatic ties between the US and Taiwan to bring Taiwan closer into “international space”, meaning politically distancing the island territory from the mainland.

This and other interferences of the US in China’s internal affairs, are attempts at disrupting peaceful co-existence with China. They include the US-provoked trade war with Beijing, during the last almost 4 years; the stationing of about 60% of the American Navy in the South China Sea; the Washington orchestrated interference in Honk Kong, seeking independence from Beijing; and wildly falsified accusation of Human Rights abuses of the Uyghurs in the officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in Northwestern China; as well as similar claims in Tibet. 

Thanks to the steadfast leadership of President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China and of the Communist Party of China, these interferences are being dealt with carefully by Beijing, always trying to find diplomatic and non-belligerent solutions. China is a master in following the paths of non-aggression, while constantly creating and moving peacefully forward – always with the goal of achieving a multipolar world, where people of different nations, regions, races, roots, cultures and believes can prosper peacefully together.
——
Present – and Vision for the Future
Since the foundation of the Communist Party on 1 July 1921, China strove for total independence, and never surrendered to foreign invasions or attempts to influence China’s internal, as well as foreign relations policies. What the CPC has attained over the past 100 years is truly remarkable. It comprises not only maintaining internal solidarity, but also and foremost, people’s trust in the government, moving peacefully forward, becoming food, health and education-wise autonomous and self-sufficient and, not least, lifting 800 million people out of poverty. No other nation in the world has achieved such extraordinary objectives for their people’s well-being.

The CPC has today 91 million members. It is by far the largest single party in the world. In addition, thanks to her leadership, starting with Mao Tse Tung in 1949 and today by President Xi Jinping, China, with a population of 1.4 billion people, has become the second largest economy in the world in absolute terms, and since 2017 already the largest, assessed by the only real measure – the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). This is an indicator of how much people can buy for their money. Within a few years, China is expected to surpass the currently largest economy, the United States, also in absolute terms.

This is, of course, representing a threat for the country that has declared itself as THE Empire of the world, controlling all vital essentials, like energy, food supply and the international monetary system – though faltering, but still dominated by the US-dollar. The self-styled empire is already crumbling. And Washington knows it. Its strongest asset, the US-dollar, is gradually being dismantled. The US-currency has been widely used throughout the world, almost exclusively, to buy vital goods and services, like energy, food and communication services, as well as for other international trade, but it is losing its weight in the international arena.

The reasons for this are both political and economic. On the economic front, the US have created by their 1913 Federal Reserve Act, a fiat currency without any backing, a currency of which the flow and money mass can be expanded at will. This allowed and still allows Washington to “print” money as per necessities, i.e. to finance extensive wars and conflicts around the globe and to accumulate debts that the US Treasury and Federal Reserve (the totally privately owned US Central Bank), will never be able to pay back.

The US-dollar has absolutely no backing whatsoever. When Washington abandoned in 1971 their self-designed so-called gold-standard (Bretton Woods Conference, 1944), the US-dollar became de facto the “new gold standard”, since the gold standard was based on the value of the US-dollar (US$35 / troy ounce, about 31 grams), instead of on a basket of currencies. Since everybody needed US dollars for their reserves, this gave the US Treasury free range to increase its money supply almost infinitely.

When the US, also at the beginning of the 1970s, negotiated with Saudi Arabia, head of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), that all hydrocarbons, petrol gas and coal, should be traded in US-dollars, it gave the US another dollar boost – printing freely dollars in abundance, because the entire world needed US-dollars to buy hydrocarbon energy. Even today about 84% of all energy consumed worldwide consists of hydrocarbons (2019 Forbes).

As a counter-measure, the US promised the House of Saud to always protect Saudi Arabia, and proceeded almost immediately building numerous military bases in Saudi Arabia, from which they are now waging different wars in the Middle East.

Due to this phenomenon of freely generating new US-dollars, creating new debt, the US is by far the most indebted country in the world, with currently US$ 49.8 trillion debt, compared with a 2020 GDP of about US$ 21 trillion (Debt – GDP ratio 2.3 = 237% debt over GDP).

There is another important component of US debt, called by the General Accounting Office (GAO), “Unfunded Liabilities”, US$ 213 trillion (all figures 16 April 2021: US Debt Clock – https://www.usdebtclock.org/current-rates.html). These exceptionally high ratios have undoubtedly also to do with incurred covid-debt.

Unfunded liabilities are debt obligations that do not have sufficient funds or assets set aside to pay them. These liabilities generally refer to the U.S. government’s debt-service (unpaid interest on debt), or pension plans and their impact on savings and investment securities, as well as  health-insurance and social support coverage for soldiers returning from wars.

These astronomical debt figures and an unbacked fiat currency are even further reducing worldwide confidence in the US-dollar. It is clear, the US debt will never be paid-off. The Federal Reserve Chair, Allan Greenspan (1987 – 2006), once answered to a journalist’s question, when will the US pay back her debt: Never. We just print new money. So, spoken, so it was and so it is.
—–

Today and for the last about 10 years the US-dollar has no longer a hydrocarbon trade monopoly, nor are other international contracts primarily established in US-dollars as used to be the case a couple of decades ago. China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela and others have stopped using the US-dollar and are trading in local currencies and increasingly in Chinese yuan.

Why? – Countries’ treasurers around the world started realizing that the dollar is a highly volatile fiat currency, based on nothing, as shown by the above figures. Equally important for the loss of trust in the US-currency is that dollar-denominated international assets and the US banking system are frequently used by Washington to impose draconian, illegal economic sanction on countries that do not follow Washington’s dictate, including blocking countries’ foreign placed reserve assets. These economic and political realities are signaling the end of the US-dollar hegemony.

The trend of diminishing trust in the US-dollar may increase when China rolls out her digital Renminbi (RMB = people’s money) or international Yuan (the terms RMB and Yuan are used interchangeably) which may be used for international trade without touching the international US-dominated SWIFT transfer and US banking system. The Chinese currency being backed by a strong and solid Chinese economy, confidence in the Chinese currency is growing rapidly. Already today, the Chinese currency’s use as an international reserve asset is increasing quickly.

While the US Federal Reserve (FED) is also contemplating a new digital currency, it is not clear to what extent it can be detached from the current dollar and its debt burden. In any case, with US international trade waning, and Chinese trade rapidly increasing, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for a declining empire to catch up with China.

For example, in the first quarter of 2021, Chinas foreign trade (exports and imports) soared by 29.2%, with Exports jumping 38.7% from the year before, while imports climbed 19.3 percent in yuan terms, according to the General Administration of Customs (GAC).

If anything, these developments – plus the fact that China has been highly successful in overcoming the covid-crisis – within less than 6 months – and putting her industrial apparatus back on line, are testimony for a solid CPC leadership, a sound Chinese economy and fiscal policy. China is the world’s only major economy reporting economic growth in 2020, amounting to 2.3% according to the Wall Street Journal. It is what China calls “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” – a feature demonstrating a spirit of constant creation and evolution of the CPC.
These facts will further enhance international trust in the Chinese economy, as well as in the Chinese way of seeking a more equal, more egalitarian and more just multipolar world, where nations may keep their national sovereignty over their internal and external political inclinations, their culture, national resources, monetary policies and foreign relations – and live peacefully together.
—-
CPC and the Chinese Vision

The New Silk Road, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is President Xi Jinping’s brilliant brainchild. It’s based on the same ancient principles as was the original Silk Road, adjusted to the 21st Century, building bridges between peoples, exchanging goods and services, research, education, knowledge, cultural wisdom, peacefully, harmoniously and ‘win-win’ style. On 7 September 2013, President Xi presented BRI at Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University. He spoke about “People-to-People Friendship and Creating a better Future”. He referred to the Ancient Silk Road of more than 2,100 years ago, that flourished during China’s Western Han Dynasty (206 BC to 24 AD).

Referring to this epoch of more than two millenniums back, President Xi pointed to the history of exchanges under the Ancient Silk Road, saying, “they had proven that countries with differences in race, belief and cultural background can absolutely share peace and development as long as they persist in unity and mutual trust, equality and mutual benefit, mutual tolerance and learning from each other, as well as cooperation and win-win outcomes.”

President Xi’s vision may be shaping the world of the 21st Century. The Belt and Road Initiative is designed and modeled loosely according to the Ancient Silk Road. President Xi launched this ground-breaking project soon after assuming the Presidency in 2013. The endeavor’s idea is to connect the world with transport routes, infrastructure, industrial joint ventures, teaching and research institutions, cultural exchange and much more. Since 2017, enshrined in China’s Constitution, BRI has become the flagship for China’s foreign policy.

BRI is literally building bridges and connecting people of different continents and nations. The purpose of the New Silk Road is “to construct a unified large market and make full use of both international and domestic markets, through cultural exchange and integration, to enhance mutual understanding and trust of member nations, ending up in an innovative pattern with capital inflows, talent pool, and technology database”.

BRI is a global development strategy adopted by the Chinese Government. Already today BRI has investments involving more than 150 countries and international organizations – and growing – in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. Since the onset of BRI in 2013, BRI investments have exceeded US$ 5 trillion equivalent.

BRI is a long-term multi-trillion investment scheme for transport routes on land and sea, as well as construction of industrial and energy infrastructure and energy exploration – as well as trade among connected countries. Unlike WTO (World Trade Organization), BRI is encouraging nations to benefit from their comparative advantages, creating win-win situations. In essence, BRI is to develop mutual understanding and trust among member nations, allowing for free capital flows, a pool of experts and access to a BRI-based technology data base.  At present, BRI’s closing date is foreseen for 2049 which coincides with the People’s Republic of China’s 100th Anniversary. The size and likely success of the program indicates, however, already today that it will most probably be extended way beyond that date. It is worth noting, though, that only in 2019, six years after its inception, BRI has become a news item in the West. Remarkably, for six years, the west was in denial of BRI, in the hope it may go away. But away it didn’t go. To the contrary, many European Union members have already subscribed to BRI, including Greece, Italy, France, Portugal – and more will follow, as the temptation to participate in this projected socioeconomic boom is overwhelming.

The BRI, also called Belt and Road, or One Belt One Road, is not the only initiative that will enhance China’s economy and standing in the world.

After decades of western aggressions, denigrations and belligerence towards China, in a precautionary detachment from western dependence, China is focusing trade development and cooperation on her ASEAN partners. In November 2020, after 8 years of negotiations, China signed a free trade agreement with the ten ASEAN nations, plus Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, altogether 15 countries, including China.

The so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, covers some 2.2 billion people, commanding some 30% of the world’s GDP. This is a never before reached agreement in size, value and tenor.

The RCEP’s trade deals will be carried out in local currencies and in yuan – no US dollars. The RCEP is, therefore, also an instrument for dedollarizing, primarily in the Asia-Pacific Region, and gradually moving across the globe. Moving away from the dollar-based economies may be an effective way to stem against the western “sanctions culture”. China is soon rolling-out her new digital Renminbi (RMB) or yuan, internationally, as legal tender for inter-country payments and transfers. The digital RMB is primed to become also an international reserve currency, thereby further reducing demand for the US-dollar.

Orientation towards China’s internal economic development – so-called horizontal instead of vertical growth – is a strategy to develop local Chinese internal production and infrastructure to build up and enhance Chinese internal capacities and markets and bringing about wellbeing and a better equilibrium between China’s vast hinterland and China’s prosperous eastern coastal areas.

The future belongs to China
After two thousand years of western “white supremacy”, relentless exploitation, colonization, discrimination and outright enslavement of other colored people, other cultures, throughout the world, the time has come to turn the wheel – and to veer the future of mankind into a more peaceful, more just and more egalitarian world.

During the next hundred years and under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party – China will guide the East into the era of the Rising Sun – prosperity and good health for all.

This new epoch will strive for a multi-polar world, with win-win trade relations, and bringing about new environmental, social and technological challenges, but also a new awakening for a social consciousness and solidarity. A key instrument for achieving major goals for human wellbeing is the Belt and Road Initiative, providing a steady flow of new ideas, creations, cultural exchange and mutual learning. The future focus may be on:

  • Renewable sources of energy, based mainly on hydro- and solar power, developed with cutting edge technologies, i.e. capturing solar power with a process of photosynthesis, producing high efficiency energy yields;
  • Increasing green areas in urban centers to bring about a balance of natural CO2 absorption and Oxygen production, aiming at zero pollution;
  • Protecting the world’s rain forests and water resources;
  • Keeping natural resources and public services – health, education, food supply, water and sanitation services, electricity, and public transport – in the public domain;
  • Promoting biological and multi-crop agriculture;
  • Developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help increase production and transport efficiency and to serve humanity; and
  • Adopting public banking as the primary means of socioeconomic development funding, Leading humanity to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

—–

Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he has worked for over 30 years on water and environment around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals. He is also the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and  co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020).

Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization and a Non-resident senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China

皮特·凯尼格(Peter Koenig),世界银行前高级经济学家、中国人民大学重阳金融研究院外籍高级研究员(瑞士)

How will US disengagement shape the Middle East? “ميدل إيست آي”: “محور المقاومة” هو المؤهل لملء الفراغ بعد الانسحاب الأميركي

Iranians destroy a US flag during a demonstration in Tehran in January 2020 (AFP)

24 June 2021 10:54 UTC

Marco Carnelos

So far, the entity best positioned to fill the power vacuum is the ‘axis of resistance’ led by Iran

The Middle East has always proudly claimed its own culture and, above all, a certain resistance to so-called western modernity. But over the past two decades, reading its tea leaves has become increasingly difficult.

The past two decades have been cataclysmic, and those to come could be even more worrisome. A power vacuum is looming, especially amid multiple signals of a US political and military disengagement from the region. With the notable exception of Israel, it is not certain that Washington’s other local partners will be able to adjust to the new strategic environment.

In the summer of 2000, the Clinton administration believed for a moment that the circle of the historical Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be squared – only to discover, just months later, that this was not on the cards.

The so-called US-led peace process has become essentially an international PR strategy for managing the conflict

At the time, the Americans and Israelis concluded that, no matter how effective their marketing strategies, a bantustan could not be sold to the Palestinians as the state they had claimed and sought for decades to fulfil their unquestionable right to self-determination. Since then, the so-called US-led peace process has become essentially an international PR strategy for managing the conflict. It has given breath and time to a creeping Israeli annexation of the sliver of historical Palestine not yet under Israel’s control.

The Trump administration – more honestly, or less hypocritically, if you prefer – tried to solve the issue by siding openly with Israel, aiming to impose a “bantustan solution” under a different name: the Abraham Accords. To succeed, the formula required the formal adhesion of certain Arab countries, primarily Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Yet, while some Arab states quickly established diplomatic relations with Israel, the absence of Riyadh has left an aura of uncertainty around the ambitious project.

Turmoil in Israel-Palestine

The latest conflict in the streets of Jerusalem, inside Palestinian communities of Israel, and in the Gaza Strip, has likely buried the viability of such a “solution”. Most certainly, it has shown that the Palestinian question is still alive and kicking.

Israel is now in the paradoxical situation of being the strongest regional military and technological power, while facing a highly polarised political framework and a somewhat crumbling internal front. In order to finally remove former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power, Israeli politicians cobbled together the most heterogeneous coalition in the country’s history. The most extremist prime minister ever, Naftali Bennett, had to rely on the support an Arab party with Islamist roots in order to narrowly win power.

Palestinians protest in the occupied West Bank village of Salem on 15 May 2021 (AFP)
Palestinians protest in the occupied West Bank village of Salem on 15 May 2021 (AFP)

Meanwhile, Palestinians are mired between an increasingly ineffective official leadership in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority, and an increasingly popular but “terrorist”-designated leadership in Gaza, Hamas.

After 9/11, the main western political driver for the region changed. The US-led “war on terrorism” aimed to impose, once and for all, a Pax Americana in the region, focusing on Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Yemen.

Two decades later, this strategy is crumbling. The US is withdrawing from Afghanistan without accomplishing anything significant, and after spending trillions in Iraq, the US has been asked by Baghdad’s parliament to leave. A tiny enclave in eastern Syria remains under US control, but all the “useful” parts of the country are again under the control of President Bashar al-Assad.

Spreading anxiety

US disengagement from the region, whether real or perceived, is spreading anxiety, with the sense of an incoming power vacuum that needs to be filled. So far, the only entity sufficiently organised and determined to do so appears to be the “axis of resistance”: Iran and its regional allies, including Syria, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Yemen’s Houthis and Shia militias in Iraq.

Since its 1979 revolution, Iran has been the main opponent of western modernity and, particularly, a Pax Americana in the region. Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and regional activities have been a constant source of concern for Washington and its regional allies, both Arab and Israeli.

A temporary and partial truce, the 2015 nuclear deal, was quickly removed from the strategic equation in 2018. A heavy sanctions campaign, the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy, did not achieve its claimed objectives: Iran has changed neither its regime nor its behaviour.America Last: Coming to terms with the new world order

As another US administration now attempts to rejoin the nuclear deal, hoping to improve some of its clauses, Iran – with the recent election of Ebrahim Raisi as the country’s next president – is firmly under the control of conservatives, while also seeking a deal with the US and regional rivals. While Major-General Qassem Soleimani might have been eliminated, his regional master plan was not.

There are also other spoilers keen to take their slice of the cake. Turkey seems to be rediscovering its Ottoman past, and combined with its links to the Muslim Brotherhood, it is still viewed as an existential threat to many Arab ruling families.

Russia’s policy has been smarter and more effective, relying on diplomacy reinforced by military power – contrary to Washington’s approach, which used diplomacy only to justify the use of military force. Moscow has held its ground in Syria, obtained important leverage in Libya, and maintained good relations with all regional actors. Two decades ago, Russia was barely relevant in the area; now it is a player. It holds poor cards, but can use them far more effectively than others.

China, as usual, is approaching the region pragmatically, not ideologically. It aspires to leverage the power vacuum to smoothly build up the southern leg of its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, aiming to create the world’s biggest economic and trading bloc outside of US political and financial control.

Looming pressures

On a regional scale, the so-called Arab Spring, an overdue and legitimate rallying cry by ordinary people exhausted by a systemic lack of governance, basic services and political rights, turned quickly into an Islamic awakening. It fuelled bloody civil wars in Syria, Libya and Yemen, while achieving only a single, partially accomplished political transition in Tunisia. The rest was an autocratic counter-spring, resembling the concert of powers mustered at the Congress of Vienna after the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.

The Middle East during the past two decades of American unilateralism has been a mess. Could it be even worse without it?

While the US seems engaged in naively challenging both China and Russia, Europe, as usual, is torn by the dilemma over how to position itself. The Middle East may descend further into chaos, with Covid-19, migration and environmental pressures presenting just a few of the challenges that lie ahead.

One self-proclaimed enabler of the vaguely defined “rules-based world order”, the G7, has again failed to display the necessary leadership, which requires not only power, but also intellectual honesty and self-criticism. Its latest communique outlines no inspirational vision for the Middle East, failing to address the bombs that have already exploded (in Israel-Palestine) or the ones still ticking (the forthcoming collapse of Lebanon).

The Middle East during the past two decades of American unilateralism has been a mess. Could it be even worse without it? That’s doubtful, but it would be best to fasten your seatbelts anyway.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.Marco CarnelosMarco Carnelos is a former Italian diplomat. He has been assigned to Somalia, Australia and the United Nations. He has served in the foreign policy staff of three Italian prime ministers between 1995 and 2011. More recently he has been Middle East Peace Process Coordinator Special Envoy for Syria for the Italian government and, until November 2017, ambassador of Italy to Iraq.

“ميدل إيست آي”: “محور المقاومة” هو المؤهل لملء الفراغ بعد الانسحاب الأميركي

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القوات الامريكية تنسحب من افغانستان بحلول سبتمبر المقبل

الكاتب: ماركو كارنيلوس

المصدر: ميدل إيست آي


كتب الدبلوماسي الإيطالي السابق ماركو كارنيلوس مقالة في موقع “ميدل إيست آي” البريطانيا قال فيها إن الشرق الأوسط كان دوماً يدعي بفخر أنه يمتلك ثقافته الخاصة، وقبل كل شيء، أنه لديه مقاومة ما لما يسمّى بالحداثة الغربية. لكن العقدين الماضيين، كانا كارثيين، ويمكن للعقدين المقبلين أن يكونوا أكثر إثارة للقلق. 

وأوضح الكاتب سبب ذلك بأنه يلوح في الأفق فراغ في السلطة، خاصة وسط إشارات متعددة لفك الولايات المتحدة الأميركية ارتباطها السياسي والعسكري بالمنطقة. فباستثناء “إسرائيل”، ليس من المؤكد أن شركاء واشنطن المحليين الآخرين سيكونون قادرين على التكيّف مع البيئة الاستراتيجية الجديدة.

في صيف عام 2000، اعتقدت إدارة الرئيس الأميركي بيل كلينتون للحظة أنه يمكن تربيع دائرة الصراع الإسرائيلي الفلسطيني التاريخي، كي تكتشف، بعد أشهر فقط، أن هذا لم يكن مطروحاً على الورق. فقد خلص الأميركيون والإسرائيليون أنذاك إلى أنه، بغض النظر عن مدى فعالية استراتيجياتهم التسويقية، لا يمكن بيع “البانتوستان” للفلسطينيين كدولة طالبوا بها وسعى لعقود من الزمان لتحقيق حقهم غير المشكوك فيه في تقرير المصير. منذ ذلك الحين، أصبحت عملية السلام المزعومة، بقيادة الولايات المتحدة، استراتيجية علاقات عامة دولية لإدارة الصراع. لقد منحت هذه العملية نفساً ووقتاً لقيام “إسرائيل” بضم زاحف لبقية فلسطين التاريخية التي لم تخضع بعد لسيطرة الاحتلال الإسرائيلي.

وأضاف كارنيلوس: حاولت إدارة الرئيس الأميركي السابق دونالد ترامب – بصراحة أكثر، أو أقل نفاقاً – حل المشكلة بالانحياز صراحة إلى “إسرائيل”، بهدف فرض “حل البانتوستان” تحت اسم مختلف: اتفاقات أبراهام. ولتحقيق النجاح، تطلبت الصيغة الانضمام الرسمي لبعض الدول العربية، وفي مقدمتها السعودية والإمارات العربية المتحدة. ومع ذلك، في حين أن بعض الدول العربية أقامت بسرعة علاقات دبلوماسية مع “إسرائيل”، فإن غياب الرياض ترك هالة من عدم اليقين حول المشروع الطموح.

هبة القدس

وأشار الكاتب إلى أن الصراع الأخير في شوارع القدس، وداخل التجمعات السكانية الفلسطينية في الكيان الإسرائيلي، ومع قطاع غزة، قد يكون قد دفن جدوى مثل هذا “الحل”. لكنه بالطبع، أظهر أن القضية الفلسطينية لا تزال حية وتنطلق. فـ”إسرائيل” اليوم في وضع متناقض لكونها أقوى قوة عسكرية وتكنولوجية إقليمية، لكنها تواجه إطاراً سياسياً شديد الاستقطاب وجبهة داخلية متداعية إلى حد ما. فمن أجل الإطاحة برئيس الوزراء السابق بنيامين نتنياهو أخيراً، قام السياسيون الإسرائيليون بتجميع أكثر تحالف غير متجانس في تاريخ الكيان. كان على رئيس الوزراء الأكثر تطرفاً، نفتالي بينيت، الاعتماد على دعم حزب فلسطيني ذي جذور إسلامية من أجل الفوز بالسلطة بفارق ضئيل.

واعتبر الدبلوماسي الإيطالي أنه في المقابل، فإن الفلسطينيين غارقون بين قيادة رسمية غير فعالة في رام الله، هي السلطة الفلسطينية، وقيادة شعبية ولكنها مصنفة “إرهابية” في غزة، هي حركة حماس. وقال إنه بعد 11 أيلول / سبتمبر 2001، تغير المحرك السياسي الغربي الرئيسي للمنطقة، إذ هدفت “الحرب على الإرهاب” بقيادة الولايات المتحدة إلى فرض “السلام الطويل المدى” الأميركي في المنطقة لمرة واحدة وأخيرة، مع التركيز على لبنان وسوريا والعراق وإيران واليمن.

لكن بعد عقدين من الزمن، هذه الاستراتيجية تنهار. إذ تنسحب الولايات المتحدة من أفغانستان من دون تحقيق أي شيء مهم، وبعد إنفاق تريليونات الدولارات في العراق، طلب البرلمان العراقي من الولايات المتحدة المغادرة. لا يزال جيب صغير في شرق سوريا تحت سيطرة الولايات المتحدة، لكن جميع الأجزاء “المفيدة” من البلاد أصبحت مرة أخرى تحت سيطرة الرئيس بشار الأسد.

ورأى الكاتب “أن فك ارتباط الولايات المتحدة بالمنطقة، سواء كان حقيقياً أو متصوراً، ينشر القلق، مع إحساس بفراغ القوة الذي سيأتي والذي يجب ملؤه. حتى الآن، يبدو أن الكيان الوحيد المنظم والمصمم على القيام بذلك هو “محور المقاومة”: إيران وحلفاؤها الإقليميون، بما في ذلك سوريا وحزب الله اللبناني والحوثيين والميليشيات الشيعية في العراق”.

منذ ثورة 1979، كانت إيران الخصم الرئيسي للحداثة الغربية، وعلى وجه الخصوص الهيمنة الأميركية في المنطقة. لطالما كانت طموحات طهران النووية وأنشطتها الإقليمية مصدر قلق دائم لواشنطن وحلفائها الإقليميين، العرب والإسرائيليين.

وقد تم إلغاء الهدنة المؤقتة والجزئية، الاتفاق النووي لعام 2015، بسرعة من المعادلة الاستراتيجية في عام 2018. ولم تحقق حملة العقوبات الأميركية الشديدة، استراتيجية “الضغط الأقصى” لإدارة ترامب، أهدافها المعلنة حيث أن إيران لم تغيّر لا نظامها ولا سلوكها.

وقال الكاتب إنه بينما تحاول إدارة أميركية أخرى الآن الانضمام إلى الاتفاق النووي، على أمل تحسين بعض بنوده، فإن إيران – مع انتخاب إبراهيم رئيسي كرئيس مقبل للبلاد – تخضع بشدة لسيطرة المحافظين، بينما تسعى في الوقت نفسه إلى إبرام اتفاق مع المنافسين الأميركيين والإقليميين. وفي حين أن اللواء قاسم سليماني قد اغتيل، إلا أن خطته الرئيسية الإقليمية لم تتم الإطاحة بها.

وقال الكاتب إن تركيا تعيد اكتشاف ماضيها العثماني، وإلى جانب صلاتها بجماعة الإخوان المسلمين، لا يزال يُنظر إليها على أنها تهديد وجودي للعديد من العائلات العربية الحاكمة.

وأضاف: كانت سياسة روسيا أكثر ذكاءً وفاعلية، حيث اعتمدت على الدبلوماسية التي تعززها القوة العسكرية، على عكس نهج واشنطن، الذي استخدم الدبلوماسية فقط لتبرير استخدام القوة العسكرية. احتفظت موسكو بموقفها في سوريا، وحصلت على نفوذ مهم في ليبيا، وحافظت على علاقات جيدة مع جميع الأطراف الإقليميين. فقبل عقدين من الزمن، كانت روسيا بالكاد ذات صلة بالمنطقة. الآن هي لاعب، تحمل بطاقات رديئة، ولكن يمكنها استخدامها بشكل أكثر فاعلية من غيرها.

أما الصين، فهي كالعادة تقترب من المنطقة بطريقة براغماتية وليس أيديولوجية. وتطمح للاستفادة من فراغ السلطة لبناء بسلاسة الجزء الجنوبي من “مبادرة الحزام والطريق” الطموحة، والتي تهدف إلى إنشاء أكبر كتلة اقتصادية وتجارية في العالم خارج السيطرة السياسية والمالية الأميركية.

ضغوط تلوح في الأفق

وقال الكاتب: بينما يبدو أن الولايات المتحدة منخرطة في تحدي كل من الصين وروسيا بسذاجة، فإن أوروبا، كعادتها، ممزقة بسبب معضلة كيفية التمركز. قد ينزلق الشرق الأوسط إلى مزيد من الفوضى، حيث يمثل فيروس كورونا والضغوط البيئية والهجرة عدداً قليلاً من التحديات التي تنتظر الأوروبيين.

وأضاف: لقد أخفقت مجموعة الدول السبع، التي نصبت نفسها بنفسها في تمكين “النظام العالمي القائم على القواعد” المحددة بشكل غامض، في إظهار القيادة اللازمة، والتي لا تتطلب القوة فحسب، بل تتطلب كذلك الصدق الفكري والنقد الذاتي. لا يحدد بيانها الأخير أي رؤية ملهمة للشرق الأوسط، وقد فشلت في معالجة القنابل التي انفجرت بالفعل (بين “إسرائيل” وفلسطين) أو التي قد تنفجر (الانهيار الوشيك للبنان).

وختم بالقول: كان الشرق الأوسط خلال العقدين الماضيين من هيمنة الأحادية الأميركية في حالة من الفوضى. فهل يمكن أن يكون أسوأ من دونها؟ هذا مشكوك فيه، ولكن سيكون من الأفضل ربط أحزمة الأمان على أي حال.

*ماركو كارنيلوس دبلوماسي إيطالي سابق. تم تكليفه بالعمل في الصومال وأستراليا والأمم المتحدة. وقد عمل في فريق السياسة الخارجية لثلاثة رؤساء وزراء إيطاليين بين عامي 1995 و2011. وشغل أخيراً منصب مبعوث الحكومة الإيطالية الخاص لعملية السلام في الشرق الأوسط إلى سوريا، وحتى تشرين الثاني / نوفمبر 2017، سفيراً لإيطاليا في العراق.

نقله إلى العربية بتصرف: هيثم مزاحم

The Chinese Miracle, Revisited

The Chinese Miracle, Revisited

June 30, 2021

Western exceptionalists may continue to throw a fit 24/7 ad infinitum: that will not change the course of history.

By Pepe Escobar with permission and widely distributed

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) centennial takes place this week at the heart of an incandescent geopolitical equation.

China, the emerging superpower, is back to the global prominence it enjoyed throughout centuries of recorded history, while the declining Hegemon is paralyzed by the “existential challenge” posed to its fleeting, unilateral dominance.

A mindset of full spectrum confrontation already sketched in the 2017 U.S. National Security Review is sliding fast into fear, loathing and relentless Sinophobia.

Add to it the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership graphically exposing the ultimate Mackinderian nightmare of Anglo-American elites jaded by “ruling the world” – for only two centuries at best.

The Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping may have coined the ultimate formula for what many in the West defined as the Chinese miracle:

“To seek truth from facts, not from dogmas, whether from East or West”.

So this was never about divine intervention, but planning, hard work, and learning by trial and error.

The recent session of the National People’s Congress provides a stark example. Not only it approved a new Five-Year Plan, but in fact a full road map for China’s development up to 2035: three plans in one.

What the whole world saw, in practice, was the manifest efficiency of the Chinese governance system, capable of designing and implementing extremely complex geoeconomic strategies after plenty of local and regional debate on a vast range of policy initiatives.

Compare it to the endless bickering and gridlock in Western liberal democracies, which are incapable of planning for the next quarter, not to mention fifteen years.

The best and the brightest in China actually do their Deng; they couldn’t care less about the politicizing of governance systems. What matters is what they define as a very effective system to make SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) development plans, and put them in practice.

The 85% popular vote

At the start of 2021, before the onset of the Year of the Metal Ox, President Xi Jinping emphasized that  “favorable social conditions” should be in place for the CCP centennial celebrations.

Oblivious to waves of demonization coming from the West, for Chinese public opinion what matters is whether the CCP delivered. And deliver it did (over 85% popular approval). China controlled Covid-19 in record time; economic growth is back; poverty alleviation was achieved; and the civilization-state became a “moderately prosperous society” – right on schedule for the CCP centennial.

Since 1949, the size of the Chinese economy soared by a whopping 189 times. Over the past two decades, China’s GDP grew 11-fold. Since 2010, it more than doubled, from $6 trillion to $15 trillion, and now accounts for 17% of global economic output.

No wonder Western grumbling is irrelevant. Shanghai Capital investment boss Eric Li succinctly describes the governance gap; in the U.S., government changes but not policy. In China, government doesn’t change; policy does.

This is the background for the next development stage – where the CCP will in fact double down on its unique hybrid model of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.

The key point is that the Chinese leadership, via non-stop policy adjustments (trial and error, always) has evolved a model of “peaceful rise” – their own terminology – that essentially respects China’s immense historical and cultural experiences.

In this case, Chinese exceptionalism means respecting Confucianism – which privileges harmony and abhors conflict – as well as Daoism – which privileges balance – over the boisterous, warring, hegemonic Western model.

This is reflected in major policy adjustments such as the new “dual circulation” drive, which places greater emphasis on the domestic market compared to China as the “factory of the world”.

Past and future are totally intertwined in China; what was done in previous dynasties echoes in the future. The best contemporary example is the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – the overarching Chinese foreign policy concept for the foreseeable future.

As detailed by Renmin University Professor Wang Yiwei, BRI is about to reshape geopolitics, “bringing Eurasia back to its historical place at the center of human civilization.” Wang has shown how “the two great civilizations of the East and the West were linked until the rise of the Ottoman Empire cut off the Ancient Silk Road”.

Europe moving seaward led to “globalization through colonization”; the decline of the Silk Road; the world’s center shifting to the West; the rise of the U.S.; and the decline of Europe. Now, Wang argues, “Europe is faced with a historic opportunity to return to the world center through the revival of Eurasia.”

And that’s exactly what the Hegemon will go no holds barred to prevent.

Zhu and Xi

It’s fair to argue that Xi’s historical counterpart is the Hongwu emperor Zhu, the founder of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The emperor was keen to present his dynasty as a Chinese renewal after Mongol domination via the Yuan dynasty.

Xi frames it as “Chinese rejuvenation”: “China used to be a world economic power. However, it missed its chance in the wake of the Industrial Revolution and the consequent dramatic changes, and was thus left behind and suffered humiliation under foreign invasion …we must not let this tragic history repeat itself.”

The difference is that 21st century China under Xi will not retreat inward as it did under the Ming. The parallel for the near future would rather be with the Tang dynasty (618-907), which privileged trade and interactions with the world at large.

To comment on the torrent of Western misinterpretations of China is a waste of time. For the Chinese, the overwhelming majority of Asia, and for the Global South, much more relevant is to register how the American imperial narrative – “we are the liberators of Asia-Pacific” – has now been totally debunked.

In fact Chairman Mao may end up having the last laugh. As he wrote in 1957, “if the imperialists insist on launching a third world war, it is certain that several hundred million more will turn to socialism, and then there will not be much room left on earth for the imperialists; it is also likely that the whole structure of imperialism will utterly collapse.”

Martin Jacques, one of the very few Westerners who actually studied China in depth, correctly pointed out how “China has enjoyed five separate periods when it has enjoyed a position of pre-eminence – or shared pre-eminence – in the world: part of the Han, the Tang, arguably the Song, the early Ming, and the early Qing.”

So China, historically, does represent continuous renewal and “rejuvenation” (Xi). We’re right in the middle of another one of these phases – now conducted by a CCP dynasty that, incidentally, does not believe in miracles, but in hardcore planning. Western exceptionalists may continue to throw a fit 24/7 ad infinitum: that will not change the course of history.

A Sovereign Iran will Move Closer to Russia-China

22/06/2021

A Sovereign Iran will Move Closer to Russia-China

Iran’s president-elect will ‘Look East’ while seeking to exit ‘strategic patience’ when dealing with the US

By Pepe Escobar posted with permission and first posted at AsiaTimes

In his first press conference as President-Elect with 62% of the votes, Ebrahim Raeisi, facing a forest of microphones, came out swinging and leaving nothing to the imagination.

On the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal, the dossier that completely obsesses the West, Raeisi was clear:

– the US must immediately return to the JCPOA that Washington unilaterally violated, and lift all sanctions.

– The JCPOA negotiations in Vienna will proceed, but they do not condition anything in terms of Iran’s future.

– The Iranian ballistic missile program is absolutely non-negotiable in the framework of the JCPOA, and will not be curbed.

Asked by a Russian journalist whether he would meet President Biden if a deal was struck in Vienna and all sanctions lifted – a major “if” – Raeisi’s answer was a straight “No”.

It’s crucial to stress that Raeisi, in principle, favors the restoration of the JCPOA as its was signed in 2015 – following the guidelines of Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. But if the Vienna charade goes on forever and the Americans keep insisting on rewriting the deal towards other areas of Iranian national security, that’s a definitive red line.

Raeisi acknowledged the immense internal challenges he faces, in terms of putting the Iranian economy back on track, getting rid of the neoliberal drive of outgoing Team Rouhani, and fighting widespread corruption. The fact that election turnout was only 48.7%, compared to the average 70% in the prior three presidential contests will make it even more difficult.

Yet in foreign policy Iran’s path ahead is unmistakable, centered on the “Look East” strategy, which means closer cooperation with China and Russia, with Iran developing as a key node of Eurasian integration or, according to the Russian vision, the Greater Eurasia Partnership.

As Professor Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran told me “there’s going to be a tilt eastward and to the Global South. Iran will improve relations with China and Russia, also because of US pressure and sanctions. President-elect Raeisi will be better positioned to strengthen these ties than the outgoing administration.”

Marandi added, “Iran won’t intentionally hurt the nuclear deal if the Americans – and the Europeans – move towards full implementation. The Iranians will reciprocate. Neighbors and regional countries will also be a priority. So Iran will no longer be waiting for the West.”

Marandi also made a quite nuanced distinction that the current policy was “a major mistake” by Team Rouhani, yet “not the fault of Dr. Zarif or the Foreign Ministry, but the government as a whole.” That implies the Rouhani administration placed all its bets on the JCPOA and was completely unprepared for Trump’s “maximum pressure” offensive, which de facto decimated the reformist-minded Iranian middle class.

In a nutshell: in the Raeisi era, exit “strategic patience” when dealing with the US. Enter “active deterrence”.

A key node of BRI and EAEU

Raeisi was met by those who control the “international community” narrative with proverbially derisive and/or demonizing epithets: loyal to the “repressive machinery” of the Islamic Republic, “hardliner”, a violator of human rights, mass executioner, anti-Western fanatic, or simply “killer”. Amnesty International even called for him to be investigated as perpetrator of crimes against humanity.

Facts are more prosaic. Raeisi, born in Mashhad, has a PhD in jurisprudence and fundamentals of Islamic law and a further jurisprudence degree from the Qom seminary. His previous positions include member of the Assembly of Experts and chief of the Judiciary.

He may not have been exposed to the Western way of life, but he’s not “anti-Western” – as he believes Iran must interact with all nations. Yet foreign policy must follow Khamenei’s guidelines, which are very clear. Without understanding Khamenei’s worldview, any analysis of Iranian complexities is an idle sport. For essential background, please refer to my Asia Times e-book Persian Miniatures.

It all starts with Ayatollah Khomeini’s founding concept of an Islamic Republic, which was indeed influenced by Plato’s Republic as well as Muslim political philosopher al-Farabi’s Virtuous City (also Plato-influenced).

On the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Khamenei updated his concept of foreign policy, as part of a clear map for the future. This is absolutely required reading to understand what Iran is all about. An excellent analysis by Mansoureh Tajik emphasizes the ways the system strives for balance and justice. Khamenei could not be more straightforward when he writes,

Today, the challenge for the US is Iran’s presence at the borders surrounding the Zionist regime and dismantling the illegitimate influence and presence of America from West Asia, Islamic Republic’s defense of Palestinian fighters at the heart of the occupied territories, and defense of holy flag of Hizbullah and the Resistance in the entire region. If in those days, the West’s problem was preventing Iran from buying even the most primitive forms of arms for its defense, today, its challenge is to prevent the Iranian arms, military equipment, and drones reaching Hizbullah and the Resistance everywhere in the region. If in those days, America imagined it can overcome the Islamic System and the Iranian nation with the help of a few self-selling Iranian traitors, today, it is finding itself in need of a large coalition of tens of hostile yet impotent governments to fight Iran. Yet, it fails.”

In terms of Big Power politics, Iran’s “Look East” policy was devised by Khamenei – who fully vetted the $400 billion-worth Iran-China comprehensive strategic partnership, which is directly linked to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and also supports Iran joining the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

So it’s Iran as a key Eurasian connectivity hub that is going to shape its geopolitical and geoeconomic future. And not the West, as Marandi stressed.

China will be investing in Iranian banking, telecom, ports, railways, public health and information technology – not to mention striking bilateral deals in weapons development and intel sharing.

On the Russian front, the impetus will come from the development of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC), which directly competes with an East to West overland corridor that can be hit anytime with extra-territorial American sanctions.

Iran has already struck an interim free trade agreement with the EAEU, active since October 2019. A full-fledged deal – with Iran as a full member – may be struck in the first few months of the Raeisi era, with important consequences for trade from the South Caucasus to wider Southwest Asia and even Southeast Asia: Vietnam and Singapore already have free trade zones with the EAEU.

The American rhetoric about Iran’s “isolation” does not fool anyone in Southwest Asia – as the developing interaction with China-Russia attests. Add to it Moscow’s reading of the “mood for deepening dialogue and developing contacts in the defense sphere”.

So this is what the Raeisi era is leading to: a more solid union of Iranian Shi’ism, socialism with Chinese characteristics and the Greater Eurasia Partnership. And it doesn’t hurt that state of the art Russian military technology is quietly surveying the evolving chessboard.

Saudi-Iranian talks are an attempt to pre-empt the American return to nuclear deal, says sociologist

June 16, 2021 – 17:12

By M. A. Saki

TEHRAN – Head of the Center for Political Studies at the University of Lebanon says that the Saudi desire to negotiate with Iran is an attempt to pre-empt the American return to the nuclear deal.

“The Saudi-Syrian normalization is a positive step and the Saudi-Iranian dialogue is an attempt to pre-empt the American return to the nuclear deal,” Dr. Talal Atrissi tells the Tehran Times.

 “Saudi Arabia sees tangibly that all of its previous bets failed, and I assure that this step was by American encouragement and support, especially since Saudi Arabia failed in the war on Yemen and today it is trying to get out of the Yemeni quagmire at any cost,” Atrissi notes.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: How do you evaluate the ongoing talks over revitalizing the Iran nuclear deal?

A: Most of the statements, whether from the Iranian side or the American side, confirm that the negotiations are heading to yield results. The statements are optimistic, and the announcement of the formation of committees to study how to lift the sanctions implies that all sides are nearing an agreement. 

The statements of the Russian, Chinese and even European delegates indicate progress and seriousness in the negotiations. But this does not mean that things will go quickly. The United States, for its part, will not lift the sanctions so easily, and even not all sanctions will be lifted. It will try to negotiate to lift only parts of the sanctions in exchange for Iran’s return to full commitment to the terms of the nuclear deal.

As for Iran, it has an interest in negotiating and has a direct interest in lifting the sanctions, which have caused great damage to the Iranian economy, and for this reason, Iran has returned to the negotiating table. But Iran has no interest in prolongation of the talks. I mean, you go back to the negotiation table again, as if we need a new agreement. With regard to Iran, this is unacceptable, as the Leader of the Islamic Revolution warned about prolonging the negotiations, while America wants to extract the largest number of concessions from Iran before lifting the sanctions.

This is what is happening today in the successive rounds of the Vienna talks. 

Q: How would the revival of the Iran nuclear pact affect the region?

A: If this agreement occurs, of course, it will reflect positively on the relations among the countries of the region. I believe that Saudi Arabia’s desire for dialogue with Iran began with America’s encouragement, not on a self-initiative, meaning that the new American administration wants some kind of stability in the Middle East (West Asia) and mitigating Persian Gulf-Iranian tension. 

The main tensions have been from the Israeli side while the Biden administration looks forward to a kind of stability and dialogue, and this is one of the reasons for thinking about reviving the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The biggest strategic challenge for the Biden administration is China, and this means that the United States is reluctant to get involved in the Middle East (West Asia) again. It is also withdrawing from Afghanistan. Afghanistan was a major failure for America and its policies in the world and the region.

So, if the negotiations for an agreement succeeds, the allies of the United States, including Saudi Arabia in the first place, will return to stable relations and understanding with Iran, and this could contribute to solving problems in Lebanon, Yemen and other countries of the region.

Q: What are Israel’s options to undermine the nuclear talks in Vienna? Do you think Israel will start a war to block the path for reviving the nuclear pact?

A: From the beginning, Israel and the U.S. administration have been at odds over the 2015 nuclear deal, and Netanyahu considered the agreement signed by Obama a “historical mistake” rather than a “historic achievement,” as Obama called it. Israel tried to obstruct the path of the agreement and worked with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to prevent the conclusion of the pact, but the agreement was achieved in 2015.

 When Trump came to power in 2016, Israel considered it a great opportunity to push America to pull out of the nuclear deal.

As for the possibility of Israel carrying out some kind of operation or sabotaging Iran’s nuclear facilities to change the balance and impede a possible revival of the nuclear agreement between Iran and America, I rule out that this would happen.

First, Israel faces a domestic crisis, and Netanyahu is accused of having failed in the battle of “the sword of Jerusalem,” and therefore the victory that has been achieved by the Palestinian resistance is a victory for Iran. The resistance in Palestine expressed its thanks to Iran for its role in supporting Palestine.

For Israel, it is very difficult to contemplate such an option, especially since Netanyahu has moved to the ranks of the opposition and is no longer prime minister.

Q: How do you read Saudi-Syrian normalization, especially when we put this alongside the Iranian-Saudi talks? What caused the Saudi policy change in the region?

A: The Saudi-Syrian normalization is a positive step and the Saudi-Iranian dialogue is an attempt to pre-empt the American return to the nuclear deal.
Saudi Arabia sees tangibly that all of its previous bets failed, and I am sure that this step was by American encouragement and support, especially since Saudi Arabia failed in the war on Yemen and today it is trying to get out of the Yemeni quagmire at any cost.

She believes that dialogue with Iran can help it get out of this war, and thus Saudi Arabia’s return to the negotiation table with Iran and Syria is an indirect acknowledgment of the failure of its previous policies.

I mean, the policy of toppling the government in Syria has failed, and the policy of forming an Arab-(Persian) Gulf-Israeli axis against Iran has failed, as well as normalization with Israel and the deal of the century, after what happened recently in occupied Palestine.

So, this step on the part of Saudi Arabia is an affirmation that Iran and the axis of resistance are in a better position than before and that the past decade was a period of steadfastness and resistance in the face of all attempts to ruin the region, Syria, and Yemen in particular.

 Today, after the battle of Palestine, the axis of resistance is in a position of strength, and this is what prompts the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to engage in dialogue with the parties to this axis.

Q: What is the significance of the Iran-China partnership for the region and the larger world?

A: The importance of the Iran-China partnership is that it opens up broad prospects for Iran at various levels of development in the areas of investment, oil and communications. On the other hand, this may be an alternative even to the nuclear agreement with the West. Even if the nuclear deal is not revived, Iran can be satisfied with the partnership with China.

 Even if Iran complies fully to the nuclear agreement and agrees with the United States, it will have balanced relations with East and West, with the preference of China, especially since China is not a colonial country and did not create problems in the region.

 So, the Chinese-Iranian partnership is an important strategic agreement that may block the way for the U.S. to put pressure on Iran.

In addition, the Iranian-Chinese partnership as an economic agreement is inseparable from China’s vision and its historical and strategic project to restore the Silk Road (One Road, One Belt). 

Iran will be a major station in this project. For this reason, China is counting on partnership with Iran and wants Iran to remain a strong and pivotal country in the face of the American hegemony, and this is not in the interest of the West and the United States in particular.

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The real B3W-NATO agenda

June 16, 2021

The real B3W-NATO agenda

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The West is the best

The West is the best

Get here and we’ll do the rest

Jim Morrison, The End

For those spared the ordeal of sifting through the NATO summit communique, here’s the concise low down: Russia is an “acute threat” and China is a “systemic challenge”.

NATO, of course, is just a bunch of innocent kids building castles in a sandbox.

Those were the days when Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay,

NATO’s first secretary-general, coined the trans-Atlantic purpose: to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

The Raging Twenties remix reads like “keep the Americans in, the EU down and Russia-China contained”.

So the North Atlantic (italics mine) organization has now relocated all across Eurasia, fighting what it describes as “threats from the East”. Well, that’s a step beyond Afghanistan – the intersection of Central and South Asia – where NATO was unceremoniously humiliated by a bunch of Pashtuns with Kalashnikovs.

Russia remains the top threat – mentioned 63 times in the communiqué. Current top NATO chihuahua Jens Stoltenberg says NATO won’t simply “mirror” Russia: it will de facto outspend it and surround it with multiple battle formations, as “we now have implemented the biggest reinforcements of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War”.

The communiqué is adamant: the only way for military spending is up. Context: the total “defense” budget of the 30 NATO members will grow by 4.1% in 2021, reaching a staggering $1.049 trillion ($726 billion from the US, $323 billion from assorted allies).

After all, “threats from the East” abound. From Russia, there are all those hypersonic weapons that baffle NATO generals; those large-scale exercises near the borders of NATO members; constant airspace violations; military integration with that “dictator” in Belarus.

As for the threats from China – South China Sea, Taiwan, the Indo-Pacific overall – it was up to the G7 to come up with a plan.

Enter “green”, “inclusive” Build Back Better World (B3W), billed as the Western “alternative” to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). B3W respects “our values” – which clownish British PM Boris Johnson could not help describing as building infrastructure in a more “gender neutral” or “feminine” way – and, further on down the road, will remove goods produced with forced labor (code for Xinjiang) from supply chains.

The White House has its own B3W spin: that’s a “values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership” which will be “mobilizing private-sector capital in four areas of focus – climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equality – with catalytic investments from our respective development institutions”

The initial “catalytic investments” for BW3 were estimated at $100 billion. No one knows how these funds will be coming from the “development institutions”.

Seasoned Global South observers already bet they will be essentially provided by IMF/World Bank “green” loans tied to private sector investment in selected emerging markets, with an eye on profit.

The White House is adamant that “B3W will be global in scope, from Latin America and the Caribbean to Africa and the Indo-Pacific”. Note the blatant attempt to match BRI’s reach.

All these “green” resources and new logistic chains financed by what will be a variant of Central Banks showering helicopter money would ultimately benefit G7 members, certainly not China.

And the “protector” of these new “green” geostrategic corridors will be – who else? – NATO. That’s the natural consequence of the “global reach” emphasized on the NATO 2030 agenda.

NATO as investment protector

“Alternative” infrastructure schemes already proliferate, geared to contain “Russia bullying” and “Chinese meddling” off from the EU. That’s the case of the Three Seas Initiative, where 12 EU member-states from Eastern Europe are supposed to better interconnect the Adriatic, Baltic and Black Seas.

This initiative is a pale copy of China’s 17+1 mechanism of integrating Eastern Europe as part of BRI – in this case forcing them to build very expensive infrastructure to receive very expensive American energy imports.

The offensive against “threats from the East” is bound to fail.

Dmitry Orlov has detailed how “Russia excels at building and operating huge energy, transportation and materials production systems” and, in parallel, how “the technosphere…has quietly relocated and is now busy telecommuting between Moscow and Beijing.”

As every geek knows, China is way ahead in 5G and is the world’s top market for chips. And now the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law – significantly approved right before the G7 in Cornwall – will “safeguard” Chinese companies from “unilateral and discriminatory measures imposed by foreign countries” and the US “long arm jurisdiction”, thus forcing Atlanticist capital to make a choice.

It’s China as a rising global power that in fact has proposed an “alternative” to the Global South in the first place, a counterpunch to the endless IMF/World Bank debt trap of the past decades. BRI is a highly complex sustainable development trade/investment strategy with the potential to integrate vast swathes of the Global South.

That’s a direct connection to Chairman Mao’s famous theory on the division of the Three Worlds ; the emphasis then on the post-colonial Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), of which China was a stalwart, now encompasses the whole Global South. In the end, it’s always about sovereignty against neocolonialism.

B3W is the Western, essentially American, reaction to BRI: try to scotch as many projects as possible while harassing China 24/7 in the process.

Unlike China or Germany, the US hardly manufactures products the Global South wants to buy; manufacturing accounts for only 5% of a US economy essentially propped up by the US dollar as reserve currency and the – dwindling – Pentagon’s Empire of Bases.

China churns out ten top engineers for every US “financial expert”. China has perfected what is known among bilingual tech experts as an effective system to make SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) development plans – and implement them.

The notion that the Global South will be convinced to privilege B3W – a hollow PR coup at best – over BRI is ludicrous. Yet NATO will be regimented to actively protect those investments that follow “our values”. One thing is certain: there will be blood.

Empire of Clowns vs. Yellow Peril

June 14, 2021

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Empire of Clowns vs. Yellow Peril

Global South will be unimpressed by new B3W infrastructure scheme funded by private Western interests out for short-term profit 

It requires major suspension of disbelief to consider the G7, the self-described democracy’s most exclusive club, as relevant to the Raging Twenties. Real life dictates that even accounting for the inbuilt structural inequality of the current world system the G7’s economic output barely registers as 30% of the global total.

Cornwall was at best an embarrassing spectacle – complete with a mediocrity troupe impersonating “leaders” posing for masked elbow bump photo ops while on a private party with the 95-year-old Queen of England, everyone was maskless and merrily mingling about in an apotheosis of “shared values” and “human rights”.

Quarantine on arrival, masks enforced 24/7 and social distancing of course is only for the plebs.

The G7 final communique is the proverbial ocean littered with platitudes and promises. But it does contain a few nuggets. Starting with ‘Build Back Better’ – or B3 – showing up in the title. B3 is now official code for both The Great Reset and the New Green Deal.

Then there’s the Yellow Peril remixed, with the “our values” shock troops “calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms” with a special emphasis on Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

The story behind it was confirmed to me by a EU diplomatic source, a realist (yes, there are some in Brussels).

All hell broke loose inside the – exclusive – G7 room when the Anglo-American axis, backed by spineless Canada, tried to ramrod the EU-3 plus Japan into an explicit condemnation of China in the final communiqué over the absolute bogus concentration camp “evidence” in Xinjiang. In contrast to politicized accusations of “crimes against humanity”, the best analysis of what’s really going on in Xinjiang has been published by the Qiao collective.

Germany, France and Italy – Japan was nearly invisible – at least showed some spine. Internet was shut off to the room during the really harsh “dialogue”. Talk about realism – a true depiction of “leaders” vociferating inside a bubble.

The dispute essentially pitted Biden – actually his handlers – against Macron, who insisted that the EU-3 would not be dragged into the logic of a Cold War 2.0. That was something that Merkel and Mario ‘Goldman Sachs’ Draghi could easily agree upon.

In the end the divided G7 table chose to agree on a Build Back Better World – or B3W – “initiative” to counter-act the Chinese-driven Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Reset or else

The White House, predictably, pre-empted the final G7 communiqué. A statement later retracted from their website, replaced by the official communique, made sure that, “the United States and our G7 partners remains deeply concerned by the use of all forms of forced labor in global supply chains, including state-sponsored forced labor of vulnerable groups and minorities and supply chains of the agricultural, solar, and garment sectors – the main supply chains of concern in Xinjiang.”

“Forced labor” is the new mantra handily connecting the overlapping demonization of both Xinjiang and BRI. Xinjiang is the crucial hub connecting BRI to Central Asia and beyond. The new “forced labor” mantra paves the way for B3W to enter the arena as the “savior” human rights package.

Here we have a benign G7 “offering” the developing world a vague infrastructure plan that reflects their “values”, their “high standards” and their way of business, in contrast to the Yellow Peril’s trademark lack of transparency, horrible labor and environmental practices, and coercion methods.

Translation: after nearly 8 years since BRI, then named OBOR (One Belt, One Road) was announced by President Xi, and subsequently ignored and/or demonized 24/7, the Global South is supposed to be marveling at a vague “initiative” funded by private Western interests whose priority is short-term profit.

As if the Global South would fall for this remixed IMF/World Bank-style debt abyss. As if the “West” would have the vision, the appeal, the reach and the funds to make this scheme a real “alternative”.

There are zero details on how B3W will work, its priorities and where capital is coming from. B3W idealizers could do worse than learn from BRI itself, via Professor Wang Yiwei.

B3W has nothing to do with a trade/sustainable development strategy geared for the Global South. It’s an illusionist carrot dangling over those foolish enough to buy the notion of a world divided between “our values” and “autocracies”.

We’re back to the same old theme: armed with the arrogance of ignorance, the “West” has no idea how to understand Chinese values. Confirmation bias applies. Hence China as a “threat to the West”.

We’re the builders of choice

More ominously, B3W is yet another arm of the Great Reset.

To dig deeper into it, one could do worse than examining Building a Better World For All, by Mark Carney.

Carney is a uniquely positioned player: former governor of the Bank of England, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance, adviser to PM Boris “Global Britain” Johnson and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, and a trustee of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Translation: a major Great Reset, New Green Deal, B3W ideologue.

His book – which should be read in tandem with Herr Schwab’s opus on Covid-19 – preaches total control on personal freedoms as well as a reset on industry and corporate funding. Carney and Schwab treat Covid-19 as the perfect “opportunity” for the reset, whose benign, altruistic spin emphasizes a mere “regulation” of climate, business and social relations.

This Brave New Woke World brought to you by an alliance of technocrats and bankers – from the WEF and the UN to the handlers of hologram “Biden” – until recently seemed to be on a roll. But signs in the horizon reveal it’s far from a done deal.

Something uttered by B3W stalwart Tony Blair way back in January is quite an eye-opener: “It’s going to be a new world altogether… The sooner we grasp that and start to put in place the decisions [needed for a] deep impact over the coming years the better.”

So here Blair, in a Freudian slip, not only gives away the game (“deep impact over the coming years”, “new world altogether”) but also reveals his exasperation: the sheep are not being corralled as fast as necessary.

Well, Tony knows there’s always good old punishment: if you refuse the vaccine, you should remain under lockdown.

BBW, incidentally, accounts for a heterodox category of porn flics. B3W in the end may reveal itself as no more than toxic social porn.

The “Three Seas Initiative”: The West’s “Answer” to China’s Belt and Road?

By Brian Berletic

Global Research, June 09, 2021

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version). 

Visit and follow us on Instagram at @crg_globalresearch.

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To counter not only China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) but also Russia’s growing ties with Western Europe, an “alternative” infrastructure drive is being proposed that if and when completed, Washington, London, and Brussels hopes will further contain Russia and cut China off from European markets.

Called the “Three Seas Initiative,” it is described in a Bloomberg op-ed titled, “This Is How Europe Can Push Back Against China and Russia,” as:

…a joint endeavor by 12 eastern members of the European Union to update the physical and digital links between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas.

The op-ed argues that the initiative is the only way to fight off “Russian bullying and Chinese meddling.”

But upon closer scrutiny – even the selling points made by the author – Andreas Kluth – reads instead like a thinly veiled attempt to bully and meddle in Europe – and at the expense of the obvious opportunities trade and ties with Russia and China will bring.

Kluth’s argument includes blaming the Soviet Union’s neglect of Eastern European nations as the reason they lack modern infrastructure today, claiming:

Though economically vibrant, most of this region still lags the rest of the bloc in infrastructure. Travel by road and rail takes two to four times longer on average than in the rest of the EU. 

What’s missing in particular is good highways, railway tracks and gas pipes running north and south. This is a legacy of the Cold War. The Soviet hegemons made sure that Russian gas, tanks and troops could easily move east-west, but cared not a hoot about other connections among the countries they occupied.

Yet the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 – 30 years ago. If Eastern Europe currently still lacks modern infrastructure – it would be more appropriate to state that it is Brussels who “cares not” about making improvements.

The infrastructure proposed is also curious. The op-ed claims:

Projects include, for example, a port in Croatia that could welcome ships carrying liquefied natural gas — from the US, for example — and the pipelines that would bring this gas north to partner countries. Poland already has an LNG terminal.

This is not necessary infrastructure though. Europe already has access to hydrocarbons in the form of Russian energy moved into the region through existing pipelines and at costs much cheaper than LNG shipped across the Atlantic from the United States will ever be.

The inclusion of this “example” reveals Kluth’s hand and the true nature of this argument – this isn’t about stopping imagined “Russian bullying,” this is about imposing very real American bullying.

In other words, expensive infrastructure would be built specifically to put in place energy imports that would cost more and come with far more strings attached politically than Russian energy. These strings would include – and the op-ed itself mentions this specifically – cutting off relations with both Moscow and Beijing.

And regarding Beijing – Kluth accuses China of seeking political favor in return for infrastructure investments and construction projects – citing Hungary as an example of a partner nation “compromised” by its relationship with Beijing. Kluth claims that Hungary has blocked EU condemnation of alleged “human rights abuses” by China – never considering that the accusations themselves may have been politically motivated in the first place by opponents of Beijing.

Kluth – after describing the Three Seas Initiative as a means of escaping “bullying and meddling” – makes clear that US and EU investment in the projects should themselves come with political strings attached – noting:

…the EU should also be clear about its expectations. First, all involved, including Hungary, must acknowledge the geopolitical subtext and unambiguously declare their allegiance to Brussels, foregoing dalliances with Beijing. Second, the initiative mustn’t become the germ of an eastern bloc that defines itself in opposition to the rest of the EU.

While Russian “bullying” and Chinese “meddling” remain squarely in the realm of politically-motivated accusations – Kluth is openly declaring Washington’s and Brussels’ intentions to invest in a neglected Eastern Europe are predicated on acquiring unflinching obedience and the full surrender of national sovereignty – a proposition made without any hint of intentional irony.

Three Seas Initiative: About Primacy, Not Progress 

US foreign policy has been and continues to be predicated on maintaining global primacy. Any nation, anywhere on Earth that challenges Washington’s ability to act upon the global stage with absolute impunity is designated an enemy and thus targeted through a combination of political, economic, and even military coercion.

Two nations that have found themselves on this list for decades are Russia and China.

Both Russia’s re-emergence after the collapse of the Soviet Union as a major global power and China’s rise both regionally in Asia and globally – have demonstrably inhibited Washington’s worst impulses.

While Washington describes both Russia and China as threats to global peace and stability – it was Russia’s intervention in Syria that prevented the nation from suffering a similar fate as Libya or Iraq at America’s hands.

It has been China’s incremental rise that has created viable alternatives for nations across Asia just now working their way out from under the shadow of America’s Indo-Pacific “primacy” – a notion still included openly as part of US foreign policy – demonstrated in a “framework” paper published as recently as the Trump administration.

Notions of “Russian bullying” and “Chinese meddling” are geopolitical projections made by Western policymakers in a bid to justify a continued campaign of coercion – and not just against Russia, China, and nations along their peripheries – but also against allied nations like Germany who seek to diversify their ties between East and West – US sanctions targeting German companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project with Russia being only the latest example.

Perhaps the ultimate irony of all is that as Washington and Brussels attempt to dangle the promise of modern infrastructure over the heads of Eastern Europe – Kluth of Bloomberg himself admits that China has already come through in the case of Hungary – and Russia has been reliably pumping cheap energy into Eastern and Western Europe since before the collapse of the Soviet Union – and of course – ever since.

Once again – while pointing the accusing finger elsewhere – the US and its EU partners reveal themselves as the central threat to peace and prosperity. In reality, Chinese infrastructure projects coupled with US-EU investments, and cheap energy from Russia would be most beneficial to the nations of both Eastern and Western Europe – but clearly what is in the continent’s best interests run at cross-purposes to Washington’s and thus while Russia and China have never demanded exclusive economic ties with Europe – Washington is.

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Brian Berletic is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. 

Featured image is from New Eastern Outlook

G7: Desperately Seeking Relevancy

G7: Desperately Seeking Relevancy

June 09, 2021

A G7 rebooted as a Sinophobic crusade will have few if any takers due to members’ rising dependence on Chinese goods and markets

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The upcoming G7 in Cornwall at first might be seen as the quirky encounter of “America is Back” with “Global Britain”.

The Big Picture though is way more sensitive. Three Summits in a Row – G7, NATO and US-EU – will be paving the way for a much expected cliffhanger: the Putin-Biden summit in Geneva – which certainly won’t be a reset.

The controlling interests behind the hologram that goes by the name of “Joe Biden” have a clear overarching agenda: to regiment industrialized democracies – especially those in Europe – and keep them in lockstep to combat those “authoritarian” threats to US national security, “malignant” Russia and China.

It’s like a throwback to those oh so stable 1970s Cold War days, complete with James Bond fighting foreign devils and Deep Purple subverting communism. Well, the times they are-a-changin’. China is very much aware that now the Global South “accounts for almost two-thirds of the global economy compared to one-third by the West: in the 1970s, it was exactly the opposite.”

For the Global South – that is, the overwhelming majority of the planet – the G7 is largely irrelevant. What matters is the G20.

China, the rising economic superpower, hails from the Global South, and is a leader in the G20. For all their internal troubles, EU players in the G7 – Germany, France and Italy – cannot afford to antagonize Beijing in economic, trade and investment terms.

A G7 rebooted as a Sinophobic crusade will have no takers. Including Japan and special guests at Cornwall: tech powerhouse South Korea, and India and South Africa (both BRICS members), offered the dangling carrot of a possible extended membership.

Washington’s wishful thinking cum P.R. offensive boils down to selling itself as the primus inter pares of the West as a revitalized global leader. Why the Global South is not buying it can be observed, graphically, by what happened for the past eight years. The G7 – and especially the Americans – simply could not respond to China’s wide-ranging, pan-Eurasian trade/development strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The American “strategy” so far – 24/7 demonization of BRI as a “debt trap” and “forced labor” machine – did not cut it. Now, too little too late, comes a G7 scheme, involving “partners” such as India, to “support”, at least in theory, vague “high-quality projects” across the Global South: that’s the Clean Green Initiative , focused on sustainable development and green transition, to be discussed both at the G7 and the US-EU summits.

Compared to BRI, Clean Green Initiative hardly qualifies as a coherent geopolitical and geoeconomic strategy. BRI has been endorsed and partnered by over 150 nation-states and international bodies – and that includes more than half of the EU’s 27 members.

Facts on the ground tell the story. China and ASEAN are about to strike a “comprehensive strategic partnership” deal. Trade between China and the Central and Eastern European Countries (CCEC), also known as the 17+1 group, including 12 EU nations, continues to increase. The Digital Silk Road, the Health Silk Road and the Polar Silk Road keep advancing.

So what’s left is loud Western rumbling about vague investments in digital technology – perhaps financed by the European Investment Bank, based in Luxembourg – to cut off China’s “authoritarian reach” across the Global South.

The EU-US summit may be launching a “Trade and Technology Council” to coordinate policies on 5G, semiconductors, supply chains, export controls and technology rules and standards. A gentle reminder: the EU-US simply do not control this complex environment. They badly need South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

Wait a minute, Mr. Taxman

To be fair, the G7 may have rendered a public service to the whole world when their Finance Ministers struck an alleged “historic” deal last Saturday in London on a global, minimal 15% tax on multinational companies (MNCs).

Triumphalism was in order – with endless praise lavished on “justice” and “fiscal solidarity” coupled with really bad news for assorted fiscal paradises.

Well, that’s slightly more complicated.

This tax has been discussed at the highest levels of the OECD in Paris for over a decade now – especially because nation-states are losing at least $427 billion a year in tax-dodging by MNCs and assorted multi-billionaires. In terms of the European scenario that does not even account for the loss of V.A.T. by fraud – something gleefully practiced by Amazon, among others.

So it’s no wonder G7 Finance Ministers had $1.6 trillion-worth Amazon pretty much on their sights. Amazon’s cloud computing division should be treated as a separate entity. In this case the mega-tech group will have to pay more corporate tax in some of its largest European markets – Germany, France, Italy, UK – if the global 15% tax is ratified.

So yes, this is mostly about Big Tech – master experts on fiscal fraud and profiting from tax paradises located even inside Europe, such as Ireland and Luxembourg. The way the EU was built, it allowed fiscal competition between nation-states to fester. To discuss this openly in Brussels remains a virtual taboo. In the official EU list of fiscal paradises, one won’t find Luxembourg, the Netherlands or Malta.

So could this all be just a P.R. coup? It’s possible. The major problem is that at the European Council – where governments of EU member-states discuss their issues – they have been dragging their feet for a long time, and sort of delegated the whole thing to the OECD.

As it stands, details on the 15% tax are still vague – even as the US government stands to become the largest winner, because its MNCs have shifted massive profits all across the planet to avoid US corporate taxes.

Not to mention that nobody knows if, when and how the deal will be globally accepted and implemented: that will be a Sisyphean task. At least it will be discussed, again, at the G20 in Venice in July.

What Germany wants

Without Germany there would not have been real advance on the EU-China Investment Agreement late last year. With a new US administration, the deal is stalled again. Outgoing chancellor Merkel is against China-EU economic decoupling – and so are German industrialists. It will be quite a treat to watch this subplot at the G7.

In a nutshell: Germany wants to keep expanding as a global trading power by using its large industrial base, while the Anglo-Saxons have completely ditched their industrial base to embrace non-productive financialization. And China for its part wants to trade with the whole planet. Guess who’s the odd player out.

Considering the G7 as a de facto gathering of the Hegemon with its hyenas, jackals and chihuahuas, it will also be quite a treat to watch the semantics. What degree of “existential threat” will be ascribed to Beijing – especially because for the interests behind the hologram “Biden” the real priority is the Indo-Pacific?

These interests could not give a damn about a EU yearning for more strategic autonomy. Washington always announces its diktats without even bothering to previously consult Brussels.

So this is what this Triple X of summits – G7, NATO and EU-US – will be all about: the Hegemon pulling all stops to contain/harass the emergence of a rising power by enlisting its satrapies to “fight” and thus preserve the “rules-based international order” it designed over seven decades ago.

History tells uss it won’t work. Just two examples: the British and French empires could not stop the rise of the US in the 19th century; and even better, the Anglo-American axis only stopped the simultaneous rise of Germany and Japan by paying the price of two world wars, with the British empire destroyed and Germany back again as the leading power in Europe.

That should give the meeting of “America is Back” and “Global Britain” in Cornwall the status of a mere, quirky historical footnote.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s video address to the Sixth International Conference Russia and China: Cooperation in a New Era, Moscow, June 1, 2021

June 01, 2021

Source

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s video address to the Sixth International Conference Russia and China: Cooperation in a New Era, Moscow, June 1, 2021
https://thesaker.is/foreign-minister-sergey-lavrovs-video-address-to-the-sixth-international-conference-russia-and-china-cooperation-in-a-new-era-moscow-june-1-2021/

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4759576

Mr Wang Yi,

Mr Ivanov,

Colleagues, friends,

The further development of strategic partnership with China is one of our  top priorities. It is stipulated in the Foreign Policy Concept, which President of Russia Vladimir Putin approved in November 2016. We are grateful to our colleagues from the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) for organising a regular, sixth joint conference. We regard it as an opportunity to review the current state and development outlook of our bilateral cooperation and its increasing influence on global developments.

This is a special year for us: 20 years ago on July 16, 2001, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Jiang Zemin met in Moscow to sign the Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation. By turning this new page in their relations, the parties demonstrated their resolve to pass their friendship down through the generations. The treaty formalised the previously applied political definition of bilateral relations as “a partnership of (…) equality and trust and strategic collaboration.” In other words, this truly historical international document has put on record the development of a new model of our interstate relations and their progress to a fundamentally new stage.

I would like to note that the Treaty is based on the universally recognised norms of international law, first of all the goals and principles of the UN Charter. It seals the parties’ agreement on mutual support in the defence of the national unity and territorial integrity, as well as their commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons against each other and not to target strategic nuclear missiles on each other. The document also formulated the principle of “respecting each other’s choice of the course of political, economic, social and cultural development.” The parties pledged to immediately contact and consult each other in the event of the threat of aggression and not to allow their territory to be used by third countries to the detriment of the national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of the other party. In this way, Russia and China provided a legal framework for the closest possible collaboration on strategic matters bearing on their fundamental interests without creating a formal military-political alliance. In fact, a comprehensive Russian-Chinese partnership is more than just a classical military-political union.

Another vital provision mentions the absence of any territorial claims to each other and the parties’ resolve “to make the border between them into one where everlasting peace and friendship prevail from generation to generation.” The incorporation of this principle promoted the final settlement of the so-called border dispute and greatly strengthened mutual trust.

Colleagues,

The Treaty played a huge role in boosting mutual trade and economic interaction.  We can report positive results to the public. During the past 20 years, our mutual trade increased more than thirteen times, from $8 billion to $104 billion in 2020. Work is underway within the framework of the Intergovernmental Russian-Chinese Commission on Investment Cooperation on 70 projects worth in total more than $120 billion.

Our energy partnership has acquired a strategic dimension. A Russian-Chinese oil pipeline has been functioning for nearly 10 years now, and the Power of Siberia gas pipeline was launched in late 2019. China is taking part in large-scale LNG projects in the Russian Arctic zone. Just a few days ago, on May 19, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Xi Jinping launched the construction of four new Russian-designed power units for the Tianwan and Xudapu nuclear power stations in China.

Our industrial and agricultural cooperation is developing constantly. Our interaction in science and innovation is especially important in light of the continued Western attempts to contain our countries’ technological progress. It is for this reason that we are holding the Years of Science, Technology and Innovation in 2020-2021 as part of the successful practice of themed cross-years.

The Treaty also has a great role to play in promoting cultural and humanitarian ties. These activities are helping to maintain the relations of good-neighbourliness and reinforce the social basis of strategic partnership between Russia and China.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has impaired contacts between our citizens. I am sure that, as the epidemiological situation becomes normalised, we will be able to quickly restore and expand them. In our opinion, efforts to promote Russian language studies in China and Chinese language studies in Russia should become an unconditional priority. The same concerns dialogue with young people, who will soon carry on efforts to develop and expand the traditions of Russian-Chinese friendship.

The Treaty, which is ahead of its time in some respects, is not limited to bilateral ties. Its provisions help expand our foreign policy cooperation. Bilateral dialogue is becoming particularly important on the international scene today, when some Western states are trying to demolish the UN-centric system of international law and to replace it with their own rules-based order. Moscow and Beijing consistently advocate the creation of a more equitable, democratic and therefore stable polycentric international order. This system should reflect the cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world and the natural striving of nations to independently determine their development path. The very fact of the Russian-Chinese accord on this issue serves to stabilise and balance the entire system of international relations. It opens up broad opportunities for truly equitable and free cooperation between large and small countries jointly shaping their historical destiny.

I am satisfied to note the coinciding or largely similar approaches of Moscow and Beijing towards an absolute majority of challenges facing the world today, including efforts to maintain global strategic stability, arms control and counterterrorism operations. We cooperate successfully and fruitfully at such multilateral venues as the UN, the SCO, BRICS, RIC, the G20, APEC and the EAS. We coordinate our steps during the Syrian and Afghan peace processes, the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and on the Iranian nuclear programme. Russia and China advocate the peaceful development of the Asia Pacific region and the creation of reliable regional mechanisms for ensuring equal and indivisible security there based on non-bloc approaches.

Today, the Eurasian region is implementing a number of innovative integration projects, including the Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Work to combine their potentials has good prospects. Notably, it lays a solid foundation for establishing a new geo-strategic contour of peace, stability and economic prosperity based on principles of international law and transparency on our shared continent from Lisbon to Jakarta. This contour would be open for all countries, including members of the Eurasian Economic Union, the SCO, ASEAN and, in the future, the EU. The initiative of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin on establishing a Greater Eurasian Partnership aims to accomplish this truly historic task. We highly value cooperation with our Chinese friends on its well-coordinated implementation together with the Belt and Road Initiative.

Colleagues,

The Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation, whose 20th anniversary we are going to mark in July 2021, is an unshakeable foundation of Russian-Chinese relations. We are convinced that it remains a living and working document that makes it possible to expand, finetune and adjust our strategic cooperation in line with the changing realities of the new epoch. This epoch demands that all of us, including experts, diplomats and politicians, always pay attention to new challenges and opportunities, trends and forecasts. Your conference is a good platform for a calm, detailed and professional exchange of opinions and ideas, without which is it is hard to chart the road forward and to determine a joint algorithm of subsequent actions.

Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to wish you fruitful discussions and intellectual insights and revelations for the benefit of strengthening neighbourly relations and friendship between Russia and China.

Thank you.

So Who Wants a Hot War?

So Who Wants a Hot War?

April 17, 2021 

by Pepe Escobar and cross-posted with Strategic Culture Foundation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dream on. Now back to the circus.

Oh, you’re so provocative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s Martyanov:

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

The Patrushev effect

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

Call it the Patrushev effect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Minsk 2, stupid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second coming of Ben-Gurion

Source

April 5, 2021 – 17:44

The reasons behind capsizing the Taiwanese cargo ship “Ever Given”, on the 24th of March, have become clear.

The cargo ship capsized in the Suez Canal for more than 6 days. Failing to float the ship is not the news, or that the reasons behind the accident were a human failure. But the real news behind it is the reviving of the old-new plans that were and are still alive in the dreams of the Zionist entity which is enlivening the “Ben-Gurion Canal” project. Yes, Ben-Gurion Canal has surfaced once more.

The project aims to connect the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Gulf of Aqaba to the Mediterranean through the Negev desert. The idea of digging a canal opposite the Suez Canal began in 1963. It is recommended in a memo submitted by Lawrence Livermore Patriot Laps in the United States of America. The memorandum was proposed as a response to the decision taken by President Gamal Abdel Nasser to nationalize the Suez Canal in 1956. 

The memorandum suggested: In order to ensure the flow of navigation in the Red Sea, an alternative canal should be opened in the Gulf of Aqaba. It will be drilled through the Negev desert, which was described as an empty area that can be dug using nuclear bombs: Firstly, the project was halted due to the radiation that nuclear bombs could cause; and secondly due to the opposition that the project would face by the Arab countries, led by Nasser.

Today, political alliances have changed the face of the region, particularly after the implementation of the Abraham Accords by several Arab countries. Therefore, a political atmosphere is compatible. Hence, serious deliberations of the project, after the Ever-Given capsizing, provide the idea that the accident was contrived. It was intended as a new window for the return of the talks over finding an alternative to the Suez Canal. 

In principle, that the accident was premeditated is a fair assumption. In an article I previously published on the Al-Ahed website, I talked about Israel’s attempt to control and expand access to the gates of the water routes to the Mediterranean through the Abraham Accords. It was not a peace agreement. Rather, it was actually an economic treaty with Morocco, the Emirates, and Sudan. Once Oman signs it, Israel will be able to control the water routes from the Strait of Gibraltar to the Persian Gulf, and finally control the Red Sea through the upcoming Ben-Gurion Canal, which will provide enormous income for Israel.

Firstly, Israel and the United States are in dire need of the project to compensate for the severe economic contraction due to the Coronavirus pandemic and unstable conditions. The treaties were signed between Israel and the Arab countries so as to guarantee Israel’s political and economic stability, and to maintain its presence in the region.  

And secondly, the project is driven by the need to restrain the rise of the economic power of China, and to hold back its ongoing project known as “One Road, One Belt”. The Chinese project aims to build a train line that starts from the provinces of China in the west towards West Asia and secure water routes around the world. It is a multi-billion-dollar investment project. For example, before the Corona pandemic, several parties in Lebanon hosted the Chinese ambassador, who explained the benefits of the project, which will employ tens of thousands of workers, employees, and specialists along the train line, which will be used mainly to transport goods between China and Europe. Therefore, the U.S. is trying to hamper the Chinese trade route by creating an alternative route to compete with. So, the new stage of struggle will witness an economic war aiming to control seaports and global trade routes.

This American-Israeli project has overlapped with joining several agreements and draft agreements. For example, the United States and the United Arab Emirates have joined the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum as observers. And starting Monday, March 29th, the Military Cooperation Agreement between Jordan and the United States will take effect, which probably aims to find an alternative place for the American forces outside Iraq and Syria.

Thirdly, preparations are underway for the implementation of the New Levant Project, which extends from Iraq to Jordan to Palestine across the Arabian Peninsula to the Sinai Desert. The project aims to create a new trade route that does not pass through Syria and Lebanon, but rather through the New Levant lands extending from the Persian Gulf in the south to the Mediterranean in the north, and through it will pass new oil and gas pipelines from Iraq to Jordan, which will replace the Tab line.

The New Levant project might forfeit Syria’s geostrategic importance for the Americans as one of the most important global and historical trade lines between the north and the south throughout history. However, the project lost its momentum at this stage because of Israel’s drive to be part of it, which forced the Iraqi government to cease working on it.

The secrecy of the canal project’s memorandum was revealed in 1994. It was waiting in the drawers for new conditions to revive it. It seems that the capsizing of the ship was the perfect plan. The capsizing oddly coincided with the signing of the 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership between Iran and China. The current events are evidence that the need to change alliances has become inevitable in the region. This explains the economic pressure on Syria and Lebanon and the continued decline in the price of lira in the sister countries. The Americans hoped that through sanctions they would impose conditions for reconciliations with “Israel”, impose the demarcation of borders between the Palestinian and Lebanese borders to the best interest of Israel, and prevent Hezbollah and its allies from participating in the coming government. Eventually, the U.S. would have the upper hand to prevent the Chinese route from reaching its ultimate destination to the Mediterranean Sea. However, the reasons behind Biden’s escalating tone towards China and Syria were revealed once Iran and China signed the document for cooperation. The protocol also revealed the hidden options Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah spoke of in his speech on the 18th of March.

The developments in the region may change the course of the Syrian crisis.  The “One Belt and One Road” project will not achieve its real success until it reaches the port of Latakia, or/and the port of Tripoli, if the Lebanese desire, in exchange for the ports of Haifa and Ashkelon in Palestine. However, this cannot be achieved as long as Syria is still fighting its new independence war against America and Turkey. Yet, the coming of the Chinese dragon to Iran may mark a new era. Syria constitutes one of the main disputes between China and the United States. It seems that the withdrawal of the latter to Jordan under the new military cooperation agreement has become imposed by the new coming reality. The Americans can manage from there any new conflicts in the region or prolong the life of the crisis and thus obstruct the Chinese project without any direct clashes.

The construction of the Ben-Gurion Canal may take several years. However, the project is now put into action. Thanks to “Ever Given” capsizing, the canal building is now scheduled around May 2021. It is clear now who is the main beneficiary of this calamity, which hit one of the most important global navigation points, namely the Suez Canal.

Normalization agreements were primarily aimed to expand Israeli influence over waterways. The disastrous consequences on the region are starting to be unwrapped.  The major target is going to be Egypt. Egypt’s revenue from the Suez Canal is estimated to be 8 billion dollars. Once Ben-Gurion is activated it will drop into 4 billion dollars. Egypt cannot economically tolerate the marginalization of the role of the Suez Canal as one of the most important sources of its national income, especially after the completion of the construction of the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia. Confinement of the Nile water behind the water scarcity will cause the Egyptians to starve. It will have disastrous consequences on Egypt and Europe. Since the latter will receive most of the Egyptian immigrants; however, this is another story to be told.
 

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التنافس على مرفأ بيروت Competition for the port of Beirut

** Please scroll down for the English Machine translation **

Lebanon: No Justice 6 Months After Blast | Human Rights Watch

التنافس على مرفأ بيروت

لم يكن خافياً حجم الأهميّة التي يعلّقها الرئيس الفرنسي أمانويل ماكرون على المساهمة التي توفرها المبادرة الفرنسيّة في تشكيل الحكومة اللبنانية لحساب حصول الشركات الفرنسيّة على دور محوريّ في مشاريع ذات جدوى اقتصادية عالية يصنَّف مرفأ بيروت بالنسبة لفرنسا في طليعتها.

جاء الاهتمام الألماني بمرفأ بيروت علنياً ومنافساً للدور الفرنسي رغم الشراكة الفرنسية الألمانية في إطار المقاربة الأوروبية الموحدة للوضع اللبناني، وهذا يكشف الأهمية النوعية التي يمثلها المرفأ في الأدوار الاقتصادية للدول الكبرى وموقعها في اقتصادات المنطقة.

ربما تكون هناك اهتمامات لا تقل عن الاهتمام الفرنسي والألماني فكثيراً ما كان لافتاً ان الصين التي تتولى معداتها تشغيل مرافئ عالمية كبرى كمرفأ بوسطن الذي يُعتبر الأول أميركياً ومرفأ أمستردام الذي يعتبر الأول في العالم، وتقول المعلومات أن الشركات الصينية تنظر لمرفأ بيروت كجزء من شبكة خطوط تجارية مع العمق الآسيويّ، تشكل السكك الحديديّة بين بيروت ودمشق من جهة وبيروت والساحل السوري من جهة موازية مكوّنات أساسية لمشروع إعادة الإعمار والاستثمار، بالإضافة إلى اهتمام كوريا الجنوبية، التي قيل إن شركاتها أعدّت دراسات لتحويل مرفأ بيروت الى نقطة وصل رئيسيّة بين الشرق والغرب.

هذا الاهتمام يؤكد بالإضافة لكونه تعبيراً عن أن لبنان ليس قضية خاسرة اقتصادياً ولا هو تفليسة تنتظر مَن يديرها، فشلَ المشاريع المنافسة لمرفأ بيروت والتي تمّ إعدادها كبدائل له، ويعتقد البعض أن تفجير المرفأ كان في خدمتها، وفي طليعتها مشروع تقدّم مرفأ حيفا المحتلة كمدخل للتجارة الدوليّة نحو العمق العربيّ والآسيويّ بالاستناد الى معاهدات التطبيع الإسرائيلية الخليجية، ويتخذ العديد من الباحثين الاقتصاديين من حادثة قناة السويس التي يعتقدون بكونها مفتعلة، دليلاً على التخبّط الإسرائيلي في السعي لضرب الخيارات المنافسة لخط حيفا نحو العمق العربي والآسيوي، ومن التمسك الدولي بقناة السويس دليلاً على تعثر المساعي الإسرائيلية.

الخلاصة التي يشترك فيها الأوروبيون هي ان التطبيع لم يخلق ولن يخلق بغياب حل للقضية الفلسطينية شروط الأمان اللازمة لعمليات تجارية ستمتد على مسافة ألف كلم تعبر في جزء منها داخل الأردن الذي كشفت الأحداث الأخيرة فيه درجة القلق من وضعه تحت تأثير ضغوط وأحداث كبرى، ما يعني أن الدور التقليدي لمرفأ بيروت والرهان على توسيعه لا يزال يشكل المحور الرئيسيّ لتجارة الترانزيت بين أوروبا والعمقين العربي والآسيوي بإجماع الشركات العالمية الكبرى شرقاً وغرباً، ما يترجم اهتماماً سياسياً من حكومات الدول المعنية بالانفتاح على لبنان ومشاريع تمويل اقتصاده، والسعي لامتلاك تأثير على المسارات السياسية فيه.

Competition for the port of Beirut

It was no secret that the French initiative, and the contribution of President, Emanuel Macron, in forming the Lebanese government to order give the French companies a pivotal role in projects of high economic feasibility that places the port of Beirut the forefront.

The German interest in the port of Beirut came publicly and competing despite the Franco-German partnership within the unified European approach towards Lebanon, and this reveals the qualitative importance that the port represents in the economic roles of the major countries and their position in the economies of the region.

It has often been remarkable that China, operating major international ports such as Boston Harbor, the first American and the port of Amsterdam, which is considered the first in the world, consider the port of Beirut as part of a network of commercial lines with Asian depth, the railway between Beirut and Damascus on the one hand and Beirut and the Syrian coast on the parallel are key components of the reconstruction and investment project, in addition to the interest of South Korea, whose companies are said to have prepared studies to turn Beirut port into a major link between the East and the West.

This interest confirms in addition to being an expression that Lebanon is not an economically lost cause nor is it bankruptcy awaiting someone to manage it, the failure of the competing projects for the port of Beirut, which have been prepared as alternatives to it, and some believe that the bombing of the port was in its service, and at the forefront of which is the project of advancing the occupied Haifa port as an entry point for international trade, with the Arab and Asian depth, based on the Israeli-Gulf normalization treaties. Many researchers believe that the Suez Canal incident is fabricated, and evidence of Israeli confusion in seeking to strike the rival options of the Haifa line towards the Arab and Asian depths, and that the international adherence to the Suez Canal is evidence of the faltering Israeli efforts.

The conclusion that the Europeans share is that normalization has not created and will not create, in the absence of a solution to the Palestinian issue, the safety conditions necessary for commercial operations that will extend over a distance of a thousand kilometers that cross in part inside Jordan, in which recent events have revealed the degree of concern about its situation under the influence of major pressures and events, which means that the traditional role of the port of Beirut and the bet on its expansion continues to be the main focus of transit trade between Europe and the Arab and Asian giants by the consensus of major international companies east and west, which translates political attention from governments Countries concerned with opening up to Lebanon and projects to finance its economy, and seeking to have an impact on its political tracks.

How Eurasia will be interconnected

How Eurasia will be interconnected

April 04, 2021

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

The extraordinary confluence between the signing of the Iran-China strategic partnership deal and the Ever Given saga in the Suez Canal is bound to spawn a renewed drive to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and all interconnected corridors of Eurasia integration.

This is the most important geo-economic development in Southwest Asia in ages – even more crucial than the geopolitical and military support to Damascus by Russia since 2015.

Multiple overland railway corridors across Eurasia featuring cargo trains crammed with freight – the most iconic of which is arguably Chongqin-Duisburg – are a key plank of BRI. In a few years, this will all be conducted on high-speed rail.

The key overland corridor is Xinjiang-Kazakhstan – and then onwards to Russia and beyond; the other one traverses Central Asia and Iran, all the way to Turkey, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe. It may take time – in terms of volume – to compete with maritime routes, but the substantial reduction in shipping time is already propelling a massive cargo surge.

The Iran-China strategic connection is bound to accelerate all interconnected corridors leading to and crisscrossing Southwest Asia.

Crucially, multiple BRI trade connectivity corridors are directly linked to establishing alternative routes to oil and gas transit, controlled or “supervised” by the Hegemon since 1945: Suez, Malacca, Hormuz, Bab al Mandeb.

Informal conversations with Persian Gulf traders have revealed huge skepticism about the foremost reason for the Ever Given saga. Merchant marine pilots agree that winds in a desert storm were not enough to harass a state of the art mega-container ship equipped with very complex navigation systems. The pilot error scenario – induced or not – is being seriously considered.

Then there’s the predominant shoptalk: stalled Ever Given was Japanese owned, leased from Taiwan, UK-insured, with an all-Indian crew, transporting Chinese merchandise to Europe. No wonder cynics, addressing the whole episode, are asking, Cui Bono?

Persian Gulf traders, in hush hush mode, also drop hints about the project for Haifa to eventually become the main port in the region, in close cooperation with the Emirates via a railway to be built between Jabal Ali in Dubai to Haifa, bypassing Suez.

Back to facts on the ground, the most interesting short-term development is how Iran’s oil and gas may be shipped to Xinjiang via the Caspian Sea and Kazakhstan – using a to-be-built Trans-Caspian pipeline.

That falls right into classic BRI territory. Actually more than that, because Kazakhstan is a partner not only of BRI but also the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU).

From Beijing’s point of view, Iran is also absolutely essential for the development of a land corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea and further to Europe via the Danube.

It’s obviously no accident that the Hegemon is on high alert in all points of this trade corridor. “Maximum pressure” sanctions and hybrid war against Iran; an attempt to manipulate the Armenia-Azerbaijan war; the post-color revolution environment in both Georgia and Ukraine – which border the Black Sea; NATO’s overarching shadow over the Balkans; it’s all part of the plot.

Now get me some Lapis Lazuli

Another fascinating chapter of Iran-China concerns Afghanistan. According to Tehran sources, part of the strategic agreement deals with Iran’s area of influence in Afghanistan and the evolution of still another connectivity corridor all the way to Xinjiang.

And here we go back to the always intriguing

Lapis Lazuli corridor – which was conceptualized in 2012, initially for increased connectivity between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

Lapis Lazuli, wonderfully evocative, harks back to the export of an array of semiprecious stones via the Ancient Silk Roads to the Caucasus, Russia, the Balkans and North Africa.

Now the Afghan government sees the ambitious 21st century remix as departing from Herat (a key area of Persian influence), continuing to the Caspian Sea port of Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan, via a Trans-Caspian pipeline to Baku, onwards to Tblisi and the Georgian ports of Poti and Batumi in the Black Sea, and finally connected to Kars and Istanbul.

This is really serious business; a drive that may potentially link the

Eastern Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean.

Since Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan signed the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea in 2018, in the Kazakh port of Aktau, what’s interesting is that their major issues are now discussed at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), where Russia and Kazakhstan are full members; Iran will soon be; Azerbaijan is a dialogue partner; and Turkmenistan is a permanent guest.

One of the key connectivity problems to be addressed is the viability of building a canal from the Caspian Sea to Iran’s shores in the Persian Gulf. That would cost at least US$7 billion. Another issue is the imperative transition towards container cargo transport in the Caspian. In SCO terms, that will increase Russian trade with India via Iran as well as offering an extra corridor for China trade with Europe.

With Azerbaijan prevailing over Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh flare up, while finally sealing a deal with Turkmenistan over their respective status in the Caspian Sea, impetus for the western part of Lapis Lazuli is now in the cards.

The eastern part is a much more complicated affair, involving an absolutely crucial issue now on the table not only for Beijing but for the SCO: the integration of Afghanistan to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

In late 2020, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan agreed to build what analyst Andrew Korybko delightfully described as the PAKAFUZ railwayPAKAFUZ will be a key step to expand CPEC to Central Asia, via Afghanistan. Russia is more than interested.

This can become a classic case of the evolving BRI-EAEU melting pot. Crunch time – serious decisions included – will happen this summer, when Uzbekistan plans to host a conference called “Central and South Asia: Regional Interconnectedness. Challenges and Opportunities”.

So everything will be proceeding interconnected: a Trans-Caspian link; the expansion of CPEC; Af-Pak connected to Central Asia; an extra Pakistan-Iran corridor (via Balochistan, including the finally possible conclusion of the IP gas pipeline) all the way to Azerbaijan and Turkey; China deeply involved in all these projects.

Beijing will be building roads and pipelines in Iran, including one to ship Iranian natural gas to Turkey. Iran-China, in terms of projected investment, is nearly ten times more ambitious than CPEC. Call it CIEC (China-Iran Economic Corridor).

In a nutshell: the Chinese and Persian civilization-states are on the road to emulate the very close relationship they enjoyed during the Silk Road-era Yuan dynasty in the 13th century.

INSTC or bust

An extra piece of the puzzle concerns how the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) will mix with BRI and the EAEU. Crucially, INSTC also happens to be an alternative to Suez.

Iran, Russia and India have been discussing the intricacies of this 7,200 km-long ship/rail/road trade corridor since 2002. INSTC technically starts in Mumbai and goes all the way via the Indian Ocean to Iran, the Caspian Sea, and then to Moscow. As a measure of its appeal, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Oman, and Syria are all INSTC members.

Much to the delight of Indian analysts, INSTC reduces transit time from West India to Western Russia from 40 to 20 days, while cutting costs by as much as 60%. It’s already operational – but not as a continuous, free flow sea and rail link.

New Delhi already spent $500 million on a crucial project: the expansion of Chabahar port in Iran, which was supposed to become its entry point for a made in India Silk Road to Afghanistan and onward to Central Asia. But then it all got derailed by New Delhi’s flirting with the losing Quad proposition.

India also invested $1.6 billion in a railway between Zahedan, the key city in southeast Iran, and the Hajigak iron/steel mining in central Afghanistan. This all falls into a possible Iran-India free trade agreement which is being negotiated since 2019 (for the moment, on stand-by). Iran and Russia already clinched a similar agreement. And India wants the same with the EAEU as a whole.

Following the Iran-China strategic partnership, chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Mojtaba Zonnour, has already hinted that the next step should be an

Iran-Russia strategic cooperation deal, privileging “rail services, roads, refineries, petrochemicals, automobiles, oil, gas, environment and knowledge-based companies”.

What Moscow is already seriously considering is to build a canal between the Caspian and the Sea of Azov, north of the Black Sea. Meanwhile, the already built Caspian port of Lagan is a certified game-changer.

Lagan directly connects with multiple BRI nodes. There’s rail connectivity to the Trans-Siberian all the way to China. Across the Caspian, connectivity includes Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan and Baku in Azerbaijan, which is the starting point of the BTK railway through to the Black Sea and then all the way from Turkey to Europe.

On the Iranian stretch of the Caspian, Amirabad port links to the INSTC, Chabahar port and further on to India. It’s not an accident that several Iranian companies, as well China’s Poly Group and China Energy Engineering Group International want to invest in Lagan.

What we see in play here is Iran at the center of a maze progressively interconnected with Russia, China and Central Asia. When the Caspian Sea is finally linked to international waters, we will see a de facto alternative trade/transport corridor to Suez.

Post-Iran-China, it’s not far-fetched anymore to even consider the possible emergence in a not too distant future of a Himalaya Silk Road uniting BRICS members China and India (think, for instance, of the power of Himalayan ice converging into a shared Hydropower Tunnel).

As it stands, Russia is very much focused on limitless possibilities in Southwest Asia, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made it clear in the 10th Middle East conference at the Valdai club. The Hegemon’s treats on multiple fronts – Ukraine, Belarus, Syria, Nord Stream 2 – pale in comparison.

The new architecture of 21st century geopolitics is already taking shape, with China providing multiple trade corridors for non-stop economic development while Russia is the reliable provider of energy and security goods, as well as the conceptualizer of a Greater Eurasia home, with “strategic partnership” Sino/Russian diplomacy playing the very long game.

Southwest Asia and Greater Eurasia have already seen which way the (desert) winds are blowing. And soon will the masters of international capital. Russia, China, Iran, India, Central Asia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Korean Peninsula, everyone will experience a capital surge – financial vultures included. Following the Greed is Good gospel, Eurasia is about to become the ultimate Greed frontier.

Iran-China deal hailed as geopolitical game changer

By VT Editors -April 8, 2021

Carl Zha is an American-Chinese social media activist with an extensive knowledge of Chinese foreign policies. He tells Press TV about the importance of the Iran-China economic pact and its possible ramifications for the region and beyond.

This article is based on an episode of Presscast, a podcast by Press TV

Carl Zha is an American-Chinese social media activist with an extensive knowledge of Chinese foreign policies. He tells Press TV about the importance of the Iran-China economic pact and its possible ramifications for the region and beyond.

This article is based on an episode of Presscast, a podcast by Press TV

Very little has been published on the Iran-China agreement and its possible outcome for the region since it was announced last year.

How important is this deal?

So, we know approximate figure, 400, billion (dollar value of agreement), it’s a pretty big number, and it’s touted as a strategic partnership between China and Iran, where both sides committed to broaden the economic cooperation that both sides already have but increasing investment, increasing cooperation in developing infrastructures. So I think it’s a really big deal because we have all the usual outlets in the mainstream media talking about it or the conservative media in the US are, are taking the stance, oh, you know, like the “Biden’s screwed up. He made Iran and China get together, now they have formed the axis of evil, now we are screwed!” You know it’s a good thing when these people are starting to talk like that.

What are the western media criticisms of the deal?

Um, actually I hear a lot of, you know, I saw a lot of criticism for like the, the Iranian dissidents in the diaspora, I mean a lot of them are posing this as somehow Iran selling out to China. You know I see like an astroturf Twitter campaign about you, Iran, get out of “China, get out of Iran”, right, which is totally overblown because as far as I know, you know China is not is not, you know, posting its military to Iran and China. China is in Iran to do business. Right and it’s a deal, agreed by two sovereign governments between the sovereign government of Iran and China. It’s not like one side is pointing a gun to the other side, say hey, sign at the dotted line, and as a matter of fact, it has nothing to do with the United States.

Iran and China have long standing ties through the Silk Road

The fact that people in the US media are getting worked up about it is rather ridiculous, (since) this is a deal between two nations with long standing ties through the Silk Road, I mean Iran and China have had a historical relationship for over 1000 years, you know, way longer than United States even existed. The fact that the people in Washington, who can barely find Iran and China on a map, are worked up about a deal of cooperation, mind you have a deal of cooperation and friendship between Iran and China. It says a lot more about them than about the deal itself it’s, it’s this fear that oh my god you know all these people are ganging up on us. It’s like no, this has nothing to do with the US.

US foreign policy hostile toward both nations

Iran and China are just continuing their historical relationship. There’s every reason for the two nations to work together, especially when both are being put under pressure by US foreign policy, you know, US foreign policy has been very hostile toward Iran since 1979. US foreign policy has been increasingly hostile toward China since 2010. So I mean, when, when US policymakers realize, China now is in a position strong enough to challenge the US hegemony, and that’s what they’re really worried about they’re worried about the position of the US as a hegemon [sic] in the world; they are worried that US hegemony is going to disappear and be replaced by a multipolar, multilateral world, which, I don’t understand why that’s a bad day, for them it is.

Ever since the United States pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018, and reapplied sanctions China remained the sole buyer of Iranian petroleum, the sole lifeline that Iran could rely on at the time was coming from China and what they’re doing now is just a continuation of their previous businesses dealings which has now been made official.

China and Iran Cooperation goes a long way. I mean not just, just, historically, but also in the modern time, you know China has always dealt with Iran and in the latest round of sanctions  the US placed on Iran, China continue to do business (with Iran) despite the US sanctions because, you know, the, the US sanctions rely on the premise that the US has dominate the global finance right and because US threatened to sanction, any company, any government that has dealing with Iran, but China is in a position today where you can basically ignore the US sanction and continue to, to work on its traditional relationship, normal relationship, with Iran. And I think that is what has upset people in Washington, because they see the US is losing its grip.

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

This deal comes in the backdrop of the broader Belt and Road initiative, if I’m not mistaken, please give us more information if you available. This corridor that China has been trying to build through Pakistan and now it connects Iran to this road and maybe later Turkey can, you know, get added to this, how do you view this?

Yeah, I mean, actually the Belt and Road Initiative serves two purposes. The first, the most important purpose is to build up infrastructures throughout the world, throughout especially the global south. So, people there can be increased interconnectivity in the world, that that, you know, people make it seems like, oh, China is building a port So China’s increasing its inputs, but look, a port is is open, a port sits on the ocean, It’s open to anyone. You know Chinese can use the Japanese can use, anybody who wants to do business in Iran can use that board. So that’s a point that’s increasingly global interconnectivity includes the increase of global trade, which for some weird reason the US is trying to oppose. I mean, they, they’re the real reason is really about preserving the USA, Germany, but they, they’re really bending backwards to perform all kinds of mental gymnastics to justify why that’s, that’s a bad thing. And I think he shows how desperate they are. But, as you mentioned the Belt and Road Initiative, there’s another purpose of building a road initiative, it is to bypass the US Navy’s chokehold on the, the world, shipping, trade, because, you know, US Navy, makes no, they do not even disguise the fact that they, they, they always talk about the chokehold on the Malacca Strait, which is where most of the Middle East oil flows to East Asia like two countries like China, Japan and Korea, and, and what China is doing is kind of diversify its energies, by, by building pipelines and building roads and rails through, you know through Central Asia through Pakistan to Iran so they, the oil or gas doesn’t have to go, get on tankers and goes through the Strait of Malacca to China, they can maybe go overland and then the trade can also be carried on overland, not having to route to avoid a possible US Navy blockade, you know like what they’re currently doing right now, sending warships to the Persian Gulf, sending worships to the South China Sea, that’s basically the US demonstrating “look I can, I can, you know choke off your lifeline, anytime”, and the Belt and Road Initiative bypasses that by building alternative routes.

Peking is increasing its influence with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka which may give India cause for consternation.

https://if-cdn.com/ubIRQ9A?v=1&app=1

Do you think that Delhi may feel left out as the route is not to go through India but through Pakistan or maybe Sri Lanka?

Yeah, I mean, India, feels like the South Asian subcontinent is its own backyard, you know, it feels like you know it feels pressure when China builds a relationship with its neighbors like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal.  But China actually very much want to include India in the Belt and Road Initiative, because India is a huge nation with 1.3 billion people, it’s a large market, and China very much want India to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, by having deepened economic engagement with India. But the problem with India is that if you wants to keep China at arm’s length, because they see this rather than as an opportunity of cooperation and engagement, they see this as some kind of, you know Chinese influence encroaching on other nations. India is also  participating in the so called plod the, you know the cloud of democracy that’s promoted by the United States that’s the US, Japan, Australia, India to form this circle of containment around China, and that will just increase the kind of the friction between, between India and China, but like I said, you know, like, I think Chinese government will be very happy if India just suddenly says we’re going to be on board with the Belt and Road Initiative, you know we love to trade with China, but that’s not happening right now, India has recently banned all the Chinese apps in their market. So, so they’re, they’re following the kind of the US led initiative to decouple from the Chinese economy, and also India had, you know that Iran and India, they had a deal concerning the port of Chabahar. So, so, like India did have this opportunity to, you know, engage with Iran, engage with China, it’s really up to India to decide what they really want.

I think they had payment issues due to US sanctions and that stopped them from developing further. Iran certainly needed this agreement, for certain reasons that you might be aware of. But do you think that China also needed this agreement to happen?

Oh sure, I mean, you know, the whole point of the Belt and Road initiative is, you know, China was to engage more deeply with the global south countries and Iran is a very important strategic country in the Middle East. It sits right by the Persian Gulf, but you know, it sits right across Hormuz Strait, a very strategic point. And so, you know China very much would like to deepen its engagement with Iran, especially right now, when both China and Iran face heavy diplomatic pressure from the United States it makes even more sense for the two sides to to cooperate and, you know, China also wanted, like, kind of, you know, make more inroads into the broader Middle East market because you know, traditionally China imports its energy from the Middle East, including Iran. But right now, you know, China has, has built up a lot of capacity in the past decades, just building out its own domestic infrastructure. And now, China has acquired all this expertise, and all these capacity but China is is being built out in China are people seeing videos of Chinese high speed rails and bridges. Now, all these Chinese companies they have all these expertise and all this capacity. The whole point of the Belt and Road initiative is to invest abroad, you know, to continue to provide opportunities for these Chinese companies to do business abroad, and to export the excessive Chinese capacity, and Iran is a very important country in the Middle East; traditionally Iran is like the centrepiece of the Middle East. It sits right, square, in the middle of the Silk Road and culturally, politically, economically Iran has always been important. So, so for this (reason), I think it’s a major win for China as well.

How do you think this deal can change the geopolitical alignment in the region, what do you think things will change in the region in the next five years?

Yeah, I think, like you said there has always been a relationship between Iran and China. This just makes it more official, you know, traditionally, China has always traded with Iran buying energy, selling everything including weapons. So, but, but it’s more of an ad hoc basis, because there’s almost never like any kind of formal alliance between the two nations, despite both facing the Western pressures, but not now. I think they, this is like the official blessing of the relationship like, let’s, let’s get together, I think it provides a more supportive network, a framework for them to be engaged in a more productive, cooperation.

Now, maybe this deal can give Iran, another bargaining chip by telling the United States okay you’re not going to buy our oil anymore. No problem. We sold it to China. Do you think this is going to help Iran in it negotiations?

Oh yeah, definitely no doubt I mean what China did in a lot of places was to provide an alternative to the World Bank, in that to all these US dominated international institutions, and, now Iran can play that China card like luck. You know it’s not; we’re not coming to you because you are our only option, you know, you can give us a better deal, or we can walk away.  You are totally right that you give yourself a stronger negotiation position at the table.

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Biden’s Grand Strategy Is Delusional And Dangerous

31ST MARCH 2021 

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Biden

The Biden Administration continues to push its delusional and dangerous grand strategy, which doesn’t even serve the US’ own interests but just the short-term narrow ones of a certain segment of its economic and political elite.

US President Joe Biden’s grand strategy is a mix of Democrat value signaling and Republican aggression, which represents a delusional and dangerous combination. The first observation is evidenced by his administration’s emphasis on so-called “democracy” and “human rights” ideals as manifested by its information warfare campaigns against China and Russia on these false bases. The second, meanwhile, is proven by its attempts to assemble alliances to contain those two on the aforementioned pretexts using the Quad, NATO, and the US’ new proposal to pioneer a competitor to China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

About the last of these three means, Biden told his British counterpart Friday afternoon that “I suggested we should have, essentially, a similar initiative, pulling from the democratic states, helping those communities around the world that, in fact, need help.” This is the definition of delusional for several reasons. Firstly, economic development is purely apolitical and shouldn’t discriminate against any state’s sovereign choice to govern themselves however they believe is best. Secondly, for this reason and given its enormous scope and scale, BRI doesn’t have any competitors but only partners. Thirdly, many of these partners are US allies.

For instance, last November’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) brought China, ASEAN, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea into a single trading bloc, the last four partners of which as well as ASEAN’s Philippines and Thailand are American allies. One month later, the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) between China and the EU saw many NATO members agreeing to expand financial and other related ties with the People’s Republic. Finally, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to West Asia last week strengthened his country’s economic connections with regional US allies like Saudi Arabia.

Despite China’s growing relations with Europe, West Asia, and East and Southeast Asia – which can altogether be simply grouped as Eurasia – the US still thinks that it can turn some of those countries, especially its traditional allies there, against the People’s Republic. It’s here where delusion becomes dangerous because the worst-case scenario of American meddling could result in serious economic damage being inflicted on its so-called “allies”. The US is so delusional, however, that it truly doesn’t care about anyone else’s interests other than its own which explains why it’s willing to sacrifice its “allies’” interests in advance of its zero-sum ones.

Therein lies the primary problem, namely the US’ delusional refusal to accept that the aggressive zero-sum mindset which is responsible for its gradual decline from international prominence is outdated as China’s new model of International Relations has successfully replaced that counterproductive philosophy with the win-win one. The Biden Administration thought that it could make cosmetic changes to American policy such as spewing multilateral rhetoric in an attempt to differentiate it from its predecessor, but the reality is that nothing of significance has changed since former President Trump.

Even the Biden Administration’s much-touted peace proposals in Afghanistan and Yemen are faltering, the first after his warning that American troops might not withdraw from the war-torn country by May as his predecessor previously agreed prompted the Taliban to issue more threats while the second has failed to have any meaningful impact on the military dynamics there. Moreover, the US continues to illegally occupy Iraq and Syria while Libya remains mired in American-provoked instability. All the rhetoric about resuming cooperation with allies is just a smokescreen for convincing them to join the US’ new anti-Chinese and -Russian coalitions.

Thankfully, the world seems to have learned quite a few lessons during Trump’s four tumultuous years in office. America’s allies are no longer as willing to blindly follow its lead as before. They realized that the US is unreliable and doesn’t always have their best interests in mind. This is increasingly obvious as the Biden Administration continues to push its delusional and dangerous grand strategy, which doesn’t even serve the US’ own interests but just the short-term narrow ones of a certain segment of its economic and political elite. The situation will only improve for average Americans if their leadership finally embraces the win-win philosophy.

Nixon ‘opened’ China, but only superpower China could ‘open’ Iran (1/2)

Friday, 02 April 2021 2:52 PM  [ Last Update: Friday, 02 April 2021 2:52 PM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Nixon ‘opened’ China, but only superpower, socialist China could ‘open’ Iran (1/2)
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

By Ramin Mazaheri  cross-posted with The Saker

One thing about Western business media is that whenever any imperialism-opposing nation has a major success their subsequent understatement speaks volumes, as evidenced by an article in the oil trade press, The Iran-China Axis Is A Fast Growing Force In Oil Markets, at the website OilPrice. For trade journalists they are quite behind the trends of their industry: Iran and China are now a permanent force in the oil world, but far beyond that realm as well.

In reading OilPrice over the years I am not surprised: they have repeatedly reacted to the bilateral 25-year strategic agreement — which has just been fully signed — as though it was something which had not been in discussion for years; with total consternation as to why these two countries could want to ally with other; with an Iranophobia so enormous that their bias is rarely even barely concealed.

The outlook of their journalists is that of businessmen, and thus it’s the incredibly narrow and self-serving point of view of a specialist. It is unsurprising that — when compelled to formulate a political or moral viewpoint — OilPrice has a totally Cold War view of the world, which is typical in the West, and which explains why their headline calls it an “Iran-China Axis” instead of an “Alliance.” The use of such a term is typical Western media propaganda designed to conflate the right-wing Germans of the World War II era with modern Iran and China, even though the latter are totally different from the former in political ideology, economic structure and social morality.

It’s a nonsensical and historically-nihilist conflation, but when examining OilPrice’s take on the Iran-China deal, we are reminded that Western business media is quite content to sensationalize, to warmonger and to create sustained market panic in order to increase the grip of militarism in the Western psyche and to continue the inequitable Western domination of the oil trade. OilPrice, specifically, also wants the price of oil to always increase.

Thus the article is full of many stupidities worthy of the idiocies of George W. Bush, the paranoia of J. Edgar Hoover, the anti-socialist hysteria of the Dulles brothers and the hypocritical phoniness of Barack Obama. Things of the lowest order of political analysis and knowledge abound, such as: “The first is they are both absolute dictatorships,” “the rogue Islamic country,” China’s Belt and Road Initiative is “a shield for China’s true intentions” and a “Trojan horse” for “military expansion,” etc.

(Of course, few international projects as transparently pragmatic and non-ideological as China’s BRI — if you accept China’s offer of mutually-beneficial cooperation there is no additional demand to also legislate acceptance of their “universal” values.)

But we benefit from knowing the oil trade’s viewpoint because while there are so very many financial shenanigans in the Western economy, there is still a “real” economy, and oil is its lynchpin.

Oil is also the lynchpin of the US dollar’s global preeminence and overvaluation. Indeed, this article’s concluding paragraph is a reminder of those very fundamental — yet often forgotten — facts: “Finally, the introduction of a war premium to oil prices will cause a commensurate re-evaluation of oil equities in non-belligerent countries. The modern economy runs on petroleum products and derivatives, and will for many decades.”

 The Great Financial Crisis and subsequent Great Recession proved that the Western economy is indeed incredibly vulnerable to many types of phonily-inflated equities, economic fundamentals-untethered financial products, sham derivatives concocted by high finance and more besides. However, the author is correct when he writes that paragraph because the Petrodollar — the forced sale of oil in dollars — is the most important and longest-running financial sham. It replaced the gold standard, after all.

But China and Iran’s unprecedented petrodollar end run (and via a new joint China-Iranian bank) is just one part of why their bilateral agreement is such a huge deal. Not only does the pact upset the delicate balance of Western financial chicanery, but it permanently upsets longstanding Western geopolitical advantages, global geopolitical reality and especially the idea that the United States is the sole portal through which modern history can enter.

US has fallen so very far since 1971— now they are even behind China, and Iran just proved it

The bilateral deal’s importance can’t be understated for either side, and I have written about it for years. It’s as if — in the year 1545 — the Bolivian silver miners at Potosi struck a fair deal with the Spanish crown: Instead of getting enslaved, sham conversions and colonized Bolivia would still be an Incan cultural force today, with almost 500 additional years of illustrious history, learning and advancement. Thankfully, China is socialist — thus it is anti-imperialist and mindfully chooses cooperation over enslavement (either literally, through local puppets or through debt). Thankfully, Iran is not the shell-shocked Inca — they know who their enemies are, and also who works with enough goodwill to be welcomed.

For a more modern take, the deal is the equivalent of Richard Nixon’s “Opening of China” in 1971, except in a total role reversal: What is historically vital is no longer the position of the US, but the attitude of the superpower China.

Iran is often described as the last great “untapped market” — against all odds, expectations and supposed historical inevitabilities they chose the East as partners, not the West. That’s gigantic.

The deal will mark the “Opening of Iran” because it is not a mere “lifeline” to Iran – as it is often falsely described – but a guarantee of real prosperity, as it will be administered by Iran’s successful, revolutionary political structure. It is absolutely not more than just the achievement of stability, which Iran achieved entirely on its own starting in 1979, when the slogan was “Neither East nor West but the Islamic Republic.”

To quote from the OilPrice article:

“The New York Times is quoted as saying-

 ‘The partnership, detailed in an 18-page proposed agreement obtained by The New York Times, would vastly expand Chinese presence in banking, telecommunications, ports, railways, and dozens of other projects. In exchange, China would receive a regular — and, according to an Iranian official and an oil trader, heavily discounted — supply of Iranian oil over the next 25 years.’

 And there you have it.”

And there you have it, indeed.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi are seen in this photo while signing the “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” deal between the two countries in Tehran on March 27, 2021. (Via IRNA)

Oil-based cars and machines may be significantly phased out by greener technologies in 25 years or so, but Iran has made a superb bargain to sell as much oil as they can while they still can. The “heavy discount” is only about 4%, but I can see how – as a Western “oilfield veteran” – this OilPrice author expects everyone to scratch and claw for every penny he or she can grab. For Iranian bureaucrats, however, a longer-term economic view is required, as is less greed.

War —  and sanctions (what used to be called “blockades” in English) are indeed war — certainly does force civilians and civil servants into more moral and more intelligent behaviors: self-sacrifice, unity, collective action, planning, determination, study, reflection, etc. The West’s sanctions have been perhaps praised in Iran nearly as often as they have been derided because Iran has had no choice but to build up its domestic capabilities — economic, intellectual, moral and natural — which naturally demanded a long-term commitment of domestic effort, political policies and acceptance of the national consensus.

But if the economic impact of illegal Western sanctions encouraged Iran’s leaders to make a 25-year oil bargain at only a 4% loss, then I say: take the money and run. If Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv fully had their way Donald Trump would have succeeded in forcing Iran to get 0% value from China —instead Tehran settled for 96% value over 25 years. If Iran doesn’t get yuan for every barrel that’s fine —China has technologies and skills which Iran can learn from, assimilate into future domestic projects and then likely export.

But this is what nobody seems to get about the indubitably socialist-inspired modern Iranian economy: Iran doesn’t do Western capitalism, i.e. it doesn’t sell out. Chinese companies will work alongside Iranian industries, all of which are state-owned and state-controlled to a degree which is unthinkable in the neoliberal West. China is not “buying” Iranian corporations – this is not $400 billion in “mergers” and “take-overs” — they are buying Iranian products or bartering for them via techniques Iran can learn from and projects which Iran needs to see built.

And there you have it: Iran secured money and intellectual investment for 25-years, and there is no danger of this investment being hijacked by foreign capital from any nation, which is how foreign investment works in Western neoliberalism. If the Iranian government can redistribute money downwards so effectively over four decades of hot and cold war, then surely they can do better in times of economic prosperity —this is the argument many Iranians have made over and over and over, and the West is fearfully aware of this rationale.

$16 billion per year in cash/goods/skills, and throw in a little thing called diplomatic unity, over 25 years – remember to compare that with what the West just offered: In 2019 France proposed a one-time $15 billion credit line. It was shot down by Washington, and of course Europe complied because neither want Iran to be prosperous or stable.

An incredibly ‘woke’ cooperation between 2 different ethnicities, cultures, regions & religions

Iran has proven to the world that America no longer has the ability to control the main global gate, and that is indeed a real achievement, but this achievement was equally fueled by Western incompetence, cruelty, intolerance and greed. Iran and China have risen, thanks to their modern and revolutionary cultures and structures — of course — but just look at how far the West has fallen since 1971?

As for China it’s vital to remember that it was an oil embargo which pushed fascist Japan into war with the United States, but China now has a guaranteed source of oil stability. China, which imports 75% of its daily needs, is almost as oil-poor as Japan but now no matter what Western adventurism produces in the Straits of Hormuz Beijing can count on the certainty of enough oil supplies to get by.

Iranian oil is already serving as Beijing’s backup against Western imperialist immolation, as the OilPrice article relates in detail: “China is stockpiling oil at a pace unrivaled in the developed world.” Doing so is, “In a marked dichotomy with the U.S., China is building oil inventories by design.” China, in contrast to Western liberal democracy, actually has competent civil service motivated — not by “universal” values, perhaps — by actual values instead of personal greed.

And there you have it: good governance based on modern political ideas which value the individual citizen over the aristocrat’s dollars. That’s the reason why Iran and China rankle the West so much.

So how could the West possibly like the 25-year strategic pact – it’s a “permanent” sea change. It’s a “permanent” step up in class for both Iran and China, and via an incredibly unprecedented cooperation. “Our relations with Iran will not be affected by the current situation, but will be permanent and strategic,” said China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the signing.

But it’s not based on mere dollars — it’s a “pact” in a very broad cultural and political sense, and that’s both a shocking rejection of the Western model and the exciting proposal of something new for global humanity.

China and the USSR never cooperated as closely as this. Impressive Cuba, all alone in the New World, just can’t bring the heft which Iran brings to the table. North Korea is so beset upon and so war-scarred that they reject diplomatic ties like what Iran just accepted. You’d have to go back to the Eastern Bloc’s cooperation with Moscow to find something similar.

But what makes this cooperation so incredibly and excitingly “woke” is that it’s between two totally different cultures, religions and ethnicities. It’s truly a meeting of minds, as equals. We could truly go on and on about this aspect, and we should. We should also repeatedly point out that Western liberal democracy demands homogeneity via total submission to their hive mind, whereas socialist democracy protects, accepts and elevates differences and minorities in a consensus-based democracy.

It’s a meeting of two longtime empires whose modern political structures now explicitly forbid empire-building. But that’s a point which stresses the past and looks backward.

This is a meeting of two countries bravely and excitingly looking forward to this new century, whether it’s the 15th (less than two weeks ago the Iranian calendar reached the year 1400), or the 48th (it’s year 4719 in China).

It’s an incredible cooperation, and one so very long in the making.

Part 2 of this article examines how Western media responds to Sino-Iranian unity with hysterics at the prospects of reduced income from the Western imperialism machine. The article is titled: The Iran-China pact is a huge blow for Western imperialists who want war in Asia

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)


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