From His Solitary Confinement, Marwan Barghouti Holds the Key to Fatah’s Future

April 7, 2021

By Ramzy Baroud

If imprisoned Palestinian leader, Marwan Barghouti, becomes the President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the status quo will change substantially. For Israel, as well as for the current PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, such a scenario is more dangerous than another strong Hamas showing in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections.

The long-delayed elections, now scheduled for May 22 and July 31 respectively, will not only represent a watershed moment for the fractured Palestinian body politic, but also for the Fatah Movement which has dominated the PA since its inception in 1994. The once-revolutionary Movement has become a shell of its former self under the leadership of Abbas, whose only claim to legitimacy was a poorly contested election in January 2005, following the death of former Fatah leader and PA President, Yasser Arafat.

Though his mandate expired in January 2009, Abbas continued to ‘lead’ Palestinians. Corruption and nepotism increased significantly during his tenure and, not only did he fail to secure an independent Palestinian State, but the Israeli military occupation and illegal settlements have deepened and grown exponentially.

Abbas’ rivals from within the Fatah Movement were sidelined, imprisoned or exiled. A far more popular Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, was silenced by Israel as he was thrown into an Israeli prison in April 2002, after a military court found him guilty of involvement in Palestinian resistance operations during the uprising of 2000. This arrangement suited Abbas, for he continued to doubly benefit: from Barghouti’s popularity, on the one hand, and his absence, on the other.

When, in January, Abbas declared that he would hold three successive rounds of elections – legislative elections on May 22, presidential elections on July 31 and Palestinian National Council (PNC) elections on August 31 – he could not have anticipated that his decree, which followed intense Fatah-Hamas talks, could potentially trigger the implosion of his own party.

Fatah-Hamas rivalry has been decades-long but intensified in January 2006 when the latter won the legislative elections in the Occupied Territories. Hamas’s victory was partly attributed to Fatah’s own corruption, but internal rivalry also splintered Fatah’s vote.

Although it was Fatah’s structural weaknesses that partly boosted Hamas’ popularity, it was, oddly, the subsequent rivalry with Hamas that kept Fatah somehow limping forward. Indeed, the anti-Hamas sentiment served as a point of unity among the various Fatah branches. With money pouring in from donor countries, Fatah used its largesse to keep dissent at a minimum and, when necessary, to punish those who refused to toe the pro-Abbas line. This strategy was successfully put to the test in 2010 when Mohammed Dahlan, Fatah’s ‘strong man’ in Gaza prior to 2006, was dismissed from Fatah’s central committee and banished from the West Bank, as he was banished from Gaza four years earlier.

But that convenient paradigm could not be sustained. Israel is entrenching its military occupation, increasing its illegal settlement activities and is rapidly annexing Palestinian land in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The Gaza siege, though deadly and tragic, has become routine and no longer an international priority. A new Palestinian generation in the Occupied Territories cannot relate to Abbas and his old guard, and is openly dissatisfied with the tribal, regional politics through which the PA, under Abbas, continues to govern occupied and oppressed Palestinians.

Possessing no strategies or answers, Abbas is now left with no more political lifelines and few allies.

With dwindling financial resources and faced by the inescapable fact that 85-year-old Abbas must engineer a transition within the movement to prevent its collapse in case of his death, Fatah was forced to contend with an unpleasant reality: without new elections the PA would lose the little political legitimacy with which it ruled over Palestinians.

Abbas was not worried about another setback, like that of 2006, when Hamas won majority of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)’s seats. Until recently, most opinion polls indicated that the pro-Abbas Fatah list would lead by a comfortable margin in May and that Abbas would be re-elected President in July. With his powers intact, Abbas could then expand his legitimacy by allowing Hamas and others into the PLO’s Palestinian National Council – Palestine’s parliament in the Diaspora. Not only would Abbas renew faith in his Authority, but he could also go down in history as the man who united Palestinians.

But things didn’t go as planned and the problem, this time, did not come from Hamas, but from Fatah itself – although Abbas did anticipate internal challenges. However, the removal of Dahlan, the repeated purges of the party’s influential committees and the marginalization of any dissenting Fatah members throughout the years must have infused Abbas with confidence to advance with his plans.

The first challenge emerged on March 11, when Nasser al-Qidwa, a well-respected former diplomat and a nephew of Yasser Arafat, was expelled from the movement’s Central Committee for daring to challenge Abbas’ dominance. On March 4, Qidwa decided to lock horns with Abbas by running in the elections in a separate list.

The second and bigger surprise came on March 31, just one hour before the closing of the Central Election Commission’s registration deadline, when Qidwa’s list was expanded to include supporters of Marwan Barghouti, under the leadership of his wife, Fadwa.

Opinion polls are now suggesting that a Barghouti-Qidwa list, not only would divide the Fatah Movement but would actually win more seats, defeating both the traditional Fatah list and even Hamas. If this happens, Palestinian politics would turn on its head.

Moreover, the fact that Marwan Barghouti’s name was not on the list keeps alive the possibility that the imprisoned Fatah leader could still contest in the presidential elections in July. If that, too, transpires, Barghouti will effortlessly beat and oust Abbas.

The PA President is now in an unenviable position. Canceling the elections would lead to strife, if not violence. Moving forward means the imminent demise of Abbas and his small but powerful clique of Palestinians who benefited greatly from the cozy political arrangement they created for themselves.

As it stands, the key to the future of Fatah is now held by a Palestinian prisoner, Marwan Barghouti, who has been kept by Israel, largely in solitary confinement, since 2002.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

مصر وحالة اللامعقول… أمن قوميّ أم أمن الرئيس؟ Egypt and the state of the absurd … national security or the security of the president?

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

مصر وحالة اللامعقول… أمن قوميّ أم أمن الرئيس؟

سعادة مصطفى أرشيد

أثار حادث جنوح الباخرة «إيفر غيفن» منذ أيام وسدّها مجرى الملاحة في قناة السويس، تسونامي من الأخبار والتعليقات والتحليلات، اعتمد كثير منها على نظرية المؤامرة، التي وإنْ كانت غالباً على خطأ، إلا أنها قد تصيب أحياناً، ومما لا شك فيه، أنّ تأثيرات هذا الحدث ولا بد، استراتيجية بامتياز، وسوف تكون لها تداعيات مهمة في الزمن القريب، انه ليس حدثاً عابراً.

تتعطل الموانئ السورية، اللاذقية، بانياس وطرطوس، يتمّ تدمير ميناء بيروت بفعل فاعل، يتوقف ميناءا عدن والحديدة عن العمل بسبب الحرب والحصار، وأخيراً تجنح سفينة «إيفر غيفن» التي تحمل بضائع يقلّ وزنها قليلاً عن ربع مليار طن بسبب الرياح، والنتيجة أن تغلق قناة السويس أمام حركة الملاحة، فيما تعمل موانئ الخليج بنشاط، مثلها مثل موانئ حيفا وأسدود، ويتداول الجميع الحديث عن قناة بديلة، تصل بين البحر الأبيض المتوسط والبحر الأحمر، من عسقلان حتى أيله (ايلات)، وعلى شواطئها مدن صناعيّة وتجمّعات عمالية وفنادق ومراكز ترفيه.

فكرة قناة السويس في البداية، ارتبطت بالغرب وتوسّعه وحركة تجارته العالميّة وتنافسه الاستعماريّ، حفر المصريون القناة بجهدهم وعرقهم في منتصف القرن التاسع عشر، وفقدوا مئات ألوف الأرواح أثناء عملية الحفر، وذلك باستعمال الفأس والقفة، وحققوا خلال عشر سنوات، معجزة هندسيّة تفوق في روعتها وفوائدها وتأثيرها أهرامات الجيزة، لكن ورثتهم لم يحافظوا عليها، وحتى عملية تطويرها التي انتهت عام 2015 لم تكن ذات بال وأهميّة، وهنا يتضح أنّ المسألة ليست مسألة سفينة جانحة بحادث عرضي، أو رياح عاتية، وإنما فشل للنظام.

في عام 1888 وقعت اتفاقية القسطنطينية، لإدارة قناة السويس والتي حدّدت حقوق السفن العابرة للقناة، وكذلك الحقوق والواجبات المترتبة على مصر، ومع تقدّم الزمان، تطوّر القانون الدولي المتعلق بالمضايق والممرات وأضاف على اتفاقية القسطنطينية التي لا تزال معمولاً ومعترفاً بها، بنوداً عديدة تحكم وتنظم عمل القناة، وهي تشمل حرية الملاحة والمرور السريع البريء والآمن للجميع، ومن دون تمييز تجاه العلم الذي ترفعه السفينة الذي يمثل الدولة التي سجلت السفينة بها، ويحظر كلّ من الاتفاقية المذكورة والقانون الدولي إغلاقها، وفي حين تملك مصر حقوقاً في القناة باعتبارها جهداً مصرياً في أرض مصرية، إلا أنها في الوقت عينه ترتب عليها مسؤوليات، وذلك بأن تقوم بما يلزم من أجل سلامة المرور، وصيانة الممر، وتأمين وسائل تيسير الملاحة، وضمان سلامة السفن، وحيازة ما يلزم من آليات الطوارئ في حال تعطلت القناة. فالممرات المائيّة يحظر إغلاقها لما في ذلك من تأثير على السلم العالمي، وأمام خطورة هذا الحدث الذي أثبت أنّ الدولة الفاشلة غير قادرة على إدارة هذا الممر الحيوي، الأمر الذي قد يضع إمكانيّة وضع إدارة القناة تحت رعاية دوليّة أمراً ممكناً.

الفشل عند هذا النظام، لم يبدأ عند حادث السفينة، فالنظام أصلاً لم يستطع المحافظة لا على مكانته العربيّة والأفريقية والإسلامية فحسب، ولا على علاقاته بجواره غرباً في ليبيا التي عادت وستعود عليه بالكوارث، مقابل خدمته لأولياء النعمة ومصدر بقائه في الحكم، أو جنوباً في السودان، الذي تقسّم وأخذ ينحو بشطريه الجنوبي والشمالي بعيداً عن مصر وعن المحيط العربي، وفشل النظام في التعاطي مع سدّ النهضة، الذي أخذ يمتلئ بالماء وأصبح أمراً واقعاً، فيما رجال النظام وقططه السمان يموّلون السدّ المعادي ويقرضون الحكومة الإثيوبيّة، بشرائهم سندات تمويل السدّ، لإماتتهم وإماتة المصريين عطشاً، مقابل فوائد ربوية، فيما حلفاء النظام السعوديين والإماراتيين، الذين يحارب نظام عبد الفتاح السيسي من أجلهم، نراهم يقفون إلى جانب إثيوبيا.

لم يرَ نظام العسكر في مصر، من مخاطر على بلده من الحرب الأهلية وليبيا، ولا في جنوب السودان، وما يحضّر له من سدود ومشاريع مائية، بخبرة وشركات (إسرائيلية) وأموال خليجيّة تقضي على إمدادات المياه من بحيرة فكتوريا والنيل الأبيض، ولا أمام خطر العطش الذي سيصيب مصر بعد اكتمال المشاريع على جميع روافد النيل، ويتنازل عن جزر مهمة لأمنه القوميّ في مضائق البحر الأحمر – تيران وصنافير – والتي كانت السبب المباشر لحرب عام 1967، والتي ستكون متكآت ملاحيّة لمشروع القناة البديلة.

إنها هزيمة لنظام العسكر، لصورة الدولة الشرقيّة في أذهان العالم، أنهم مثال للهزيمة في الحرب، والفشل في الإدارة، والاستبداد بالحكم، وعلى سبيل المثال البسيط، نرى وزير النقل المصري وهو جنرال متقاعد لا يرى في حادث السفينة مسؤوليّة إلا مسؤولية الرياح، التي استطاعت إزاحة سفينة متطوّرة يصل وزنها مع حمولتها إلى ربع مليار طن، في حين يتمّ تداول روايات سخيفة حول سبب الحادث والمسؤولية عنه.

هذا انكشاف لعورات نظام متهافت، فشل في الحفاظ على البلد وعلى أمنها القوميّ، يخوض حروباً بالوكالة في ليبيا، وأخرى في جنوب جزيرة العرب، يتحالف مع «إسرائيل» واليونان في خطوط الغاز، ويفرّط بحقوقه المائيّة التي هي سرّ بقاء مصر المعروفة في التاريخ باسم هبة النيل، عاجز عن التعامل مع الأزمات الاقتصادية الخانقة والمتلاحقة وغير قادر على حلها، البطالة تتفاقم وتزداد بمعدلات مزعجة وترافقها انهيارات اجتماعيّة، فساد مستشرٍ في كافة قطاعات الإدارة القاصرة، أبراج سكنية تنهار فوق أجساد ساكنيها، فيما لا يرى من مهدّدات للأمن القومي إلا في المعارضة الداخليّة، وزجّ 60 ألف من مواطنيه في السجون، بتهمة الانتماء للإخوان المسلمين، فيما بعضهم من الأقباط…

إنه نظام العسكر، ومصر التي نامت نواطير أمنها القومي ومصالحها العليا، فيما عاثت بها الثعالب ضراً وفساداً، لكم تحتاج إلى حاكم بعقلية السلطان العثماني محمود الثاني، الذي أنهى سيطرة العسكر الانكشاريّ على الدولة، بعد أن أصبحوا عبئاً ثقيلاً عليها، ومصدراً من مصادر ضعفها وهوانها.

اليوم في أمّ الدنيا كما يحب أهل مصر تسميتها، نرى في نظام العسكر، انّ الحمار قد أكل الأمن القوميّ وأبقى على أمن الحاكم وضرورات بقائه.

*سياسي فلسطيني مقيم في جنين – فلسطين المحتلة

Egypt and the state of the absurd … national security or the security of the president?

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SAADA Mustafa Arshid

The accident of the delinquency of the ship «Ever given» days ago and blocked the course of navigation in the Suez Canal, a tsunami of news, comments and analysis, many of which relied on the conspiracy theory, which although often wrong, but may sometimes infect, and no doubt, that the effects of this event must, strategy par excellence, and will have important repercussions in the near time, it is not a passing event.

The Syrian ports, Latakia, Banias and Tartus are destroyed by an actor, the ports of Aden and Hodeidah stop working due to the war and siege, and finally the ship “Ever Geven” which carries goods weighing just under a quarter of a billion tons due to the wind, the result is that the Suez Canal is closed to shipping traffic, while the Gulf ports are working actively, as are the ports of Haifa and Ashdod, and everyone talks about an alternative channel, connecting the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, from Ashkelon to Ayla (Eilat), and on its shores industrial cities, labor gatherings, hotels and entertainment centers.

The idea of the Suez Canal at the beginning, associated with the West and its expansion and the movement of its world trade and its colonial competition, the Egyptians dug the canal with their effort and sweat in the middle of the nineteenth century, and lost hundreds of thousands of lives during the drilling process, using the axe and the shell, and achieved in ten years, an engineering miracle beyond In its splendor and its benefits and impact the Pyramids of Giza, but their heirs did not preserve it, and even the process of development that ended in 2015 was not significant and important, and here it is clear that the issue of a ship is not a matter of ship accidentally, or high winds, but a failure of the system.

In 1888, the Constantinople Agreement was signed for the management of the Suez Canal, which defined the rights of ships crossing the canal, as well as the rights and duties of Egypt, and as time progressed, the development of international law on straits and corridors, added to the Convention of Constantinople, which is still in force and recognized, many clauses governing and regulating the operation of the canal, which includes freedom of navigation and rapid, innocent and safe passage for all, without discrimination against the flag that the ship flies in, which represents the country in which the ship is registered, and both the aforementioned convention and international law prohibits its closure. While Egypt has rights in the canal as an Egyptian effort on Egyptian territory, it has responsibilities to do what is necessary for traffic safety, maintain the corridor, secure the means of facilitating navigation, ensure the safety of ships, and possess the necessary emergency mechanisms in the event of a breakdown of the canal. Waterways are prohibited from being closed because of the impact on world peace, and in the face of the seriousness of this event, which has proved that the failed State is unable to manage this vital corridor, which may place the possibility of placing the management of the canal under international auspices.

Failure with this system did not begin when the ship accident, for the regime originally could not preserve its Arab, African and Islamic status only, nor its relations with its side to the west in Libya, which returned and will return to it with disasters, in return for its service to the saints of grace and the source of its survival in power, or to the south in Sudan, which is divided and began to turn its southern and northern parts away from Egypt and the Arab ocean, and the failure of the regime in dealing with the Renaissance Dam, which began to fill with water and became a fait accompli, while the regime’s fat cats were financing the hostile dam and lending to the Ethiopian government, by buying bonds to finance the dam, to kill them and let the Egyptians thirst in exchange for usurious interest, while the regime’s allies, Saudi and Emirati whom the regime of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is fighting for, are standing by Ethiopia.

The military regime in Egypt does not see the dangers to its country from the civil war and Libya, nor in southern Sudan, and the dams and water projects prepared, with experience and (Israeli) companies and Gulf funds that eliminate water supplies from Lake Victoria and the White Nile, nor the danger of thirst, which will afflict Egypt after the completion of projects on all the tributaries of the Nile. Moreover, the regime gave up important islands for its national security in the straits of the Red Sea – Tiran and Sanafir – which were the direct cause of the 1967 war, and which will be navigational anchors for the alternative canal project.

This is the exposure of the states of a reckless regime, which failed to preserve the country and its national security, is engaged in proxy wars in Libya, and another in the south of the Arabian Peninsula, allied with Israel and Greece in gas lines, and overrides its water rights, which are the secret of Egypt’s survival known in history as the Gift of the Nile, unable to deal with the economic crises stifling and successive and other Unemployment is worsening and increasing at alarming rates and accompanied by social collapses, widespread corruption in all sectors of the underage administration, residential towers collapsing over the bodies of its inhabitants, while it sees no threats to national security except in the internal opposition, and 60 thousand of its citizens are imprisoned, accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, while some Copts.

Today in the mother of the world, as the people of Egypt like to call it, we see in the military system that the donkey has eaten national security and kept the security of the ruler and the necessities of his survival.

*Palestinian politician residing in Jenin, Occupied Palestine

اختبار القوة الحاسم يمنيّ

ناصر قنديل

يترافق إعلان النيات الأميركي بالخروج من سياسات المراحل السابقة لعقدين ماضيين، التي توزعت بين الحروب المباشرة في عهد الرئيس السابق جورج بوش، والحروب بالوكالة في عهد الرئيس الأسبق باراك أوباما، والعقوبات القاتلة في عهد الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب، مع محاولات تلمّس خريطة طريق لاستراتيجية بديلة تسعى لصناعة تفاهمات دولية إقليمية بأقل قدر ممكن من التنازلات التي تمسّ بهيبة ومكانة واشنطن العالمية، وتأمين ما يلزم لاستراتيجيتها القائمة على أولويّة المواجهة مع الصين وروسيا، من بوابة ما وصفه الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن باستبدال مثال القوة بقوة المثال، بعناوين حقوق الإنسان وحماية البيئة ومكافحة الفساد، لأن واشنطن تدرك أن التخفف من أعباء المراحل السابقة بتسويات سيُبنى على موازين قوى أظهرتها مراحل المواجهة، كما تدرك أن الترسمل لمرحلة قوة المثال تستدعي تقليم أظافر وتحجيم حلفاء رئيسيين يترتب على إضعافهم تراجع النفوذ الأميركي لحساب الخصوم الإقليميين، ولذلك تختبر واشنطن بالتتابع سقوف التفاهمات التي تحاول تحقيقها، وكلما اكتشفت فشل تسويق سقف مرتفع تستبدله بسقف أدنى، وهي محكومة بالخشية من دفع أثمان يصعب ترميم التوازنات ما بعدها، أو الفشل بصناعة التفاهمات بسبب الأثمان المكلفة لها، أو تزعزع كيانات حليفة وتراجعها بسبب الترسمل على حسابها للمهمة المقبلة، أو ضياع فرص الترسمل بسبب الحرص على حماية هذه الكيانات وأدوارها الحليفة.

في الملف النووي الإيراني يتحكّم عامل الوقت الداهم على القرار الأميركي الذي لم يُخفِ الخشية من أن ينجم عن طول أمد التفاوض قبل العودة إلى الاتفاق النوويّ، نجاح إيران ببلوغ العتبة الخطرة، أي عتبة امتلاك إيران مقدرات كافية لإنتاج سلاح نووي. وهذا ما يشكل أولويّة أميركيّة عالميّة تختلف عن الأولويات الإقليمية المتمثلة بملفات تفرضها ساحات الاشتباك وتعقيداتها، حيث لا خارطة طريق أميركية واضحة بعد لكيفية التعامل معها، وفيما يبدو أن سورية تمثل أعقد الملفات، لتداخلها مع الأجوبة الصعبة على الأسئلة الصعبة، من نوع كيف سيكون أي تصوّر لسورية واقعياً من دون أن يضع في الاعتبار أن ميزان القوى لم يعد يسمح بفرض شروط على الدولة السورية التي تجاوزت مرحلة الخطر، وحيث روسيا وإيران وقوى المقاومة شركاء في الإنجاز، وكيف سيكون تأثير اي تصور واقعي على مستقبل أوزان وأحجام روسيا وإيران والمقاومة، التي لا يريد لها الأميركي أن تتعزّز، وكيف سيكون تأثير أيّ تصور واقعيّ لسورية على كل من «إسرائيل» وتركيا، ولكل منهما ملف خاص وحساس في رؤية الأمن والدور ضمن أي استراتيجية أميركية للمنطقة؟

يبدو أن الملف اليمني هو الملف المتقدم والأشد قدرة على رسم توازنات يمكن التأسيس عليها لملفات أخرى في الرؤية الأميركية، وفقاً للاختيار الأميركي الذي بدأ مقاربة أوضاع المنطقة بمقاربة الملف اليمني من زوايا عدة، واحد يتصل بإعلان واضح بالدعوة لوقف الحرب وتوصيفها ككارثة إنسانية يجب ان تتوقف وتحميل السعودية والإمارات مسؤولية استمرارها، وترجمة ذلك بإعلان وقف صفقات السلاح الأميركي إلى حكومتي البلدين، وثانٍ يتصل بالتقرب من أنصار الله عبر إلغاء تصنيفهم على لوائح الإرهاب، وثالث بإرسال وفد أميركي إلى عُمان لحوار أنصار الله. وهذه المقاربات الأميركية رغم وضوحها تبدو اختبارات تجريبية لما يمكن أن ترسو عليه التوازنات التي ستكون ذات تأثير موضوعي ومعنوي على سائر ساحات الاشتباكات، بحيث يبدو حجم المسافة الأميركية من الحليف السعودي مؤشراً يراقبه سائر الحلفاء في تل أبيب وأنقرة، وصولاً إلى منظمة قسد، ومشروع الدويلة الكردية شمال شرق سورية. وبالمقابل يمثل حدود ما يمكن قبوله في العلاقة مع أنصار الله مؤشراً يمكن القياس عليه لما سيكون ممكناً قبوله من خصوم واشنطن في ساحات أخرى كسورية ولبنان وسواهما، والفشل في التوصل لتفاهمات تنهي الحرب في اليمن كما النجاح مؤشرات لمستقبل المقاربة الأميركية في سائر الساحات.

يشهد الملف اليمني سخونة غير مسبوقة، واستثمار الحد الأقصى لأوراق القوة من الطرفين السعودي واليمني. والأكيد أن التوازنات التي سيرسو عليها مستقبل المواجهة، على جبهة مأرب من جهة، وتوازن الردع الصاروخي من جهة مقابلة، سيكتب تاريخ اليمن والخليج وربما المنطقة بأسرها.

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Palestinian Elections: Barghouti and Qidwa Give Abbas Ultimatum for Accepting Electoral List

March 2, 2021

Imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman, The Palestine Chronicle)

Senior Fatah leaders Marwan Barghouti and Nasser Al-Qidwa have given Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas until March 5 to accept their electoral list, Lebanon’s Al-Akbar reported on Monday.

Barghouti has been in an Israeli prison since 2002, while Al-Qidwa is a cousin of the late Yasser Arafat. According to senior Fatah sources, they have proposed a list to Abbas that includes young people and active Fatah members who have been effectively neutralized by Abbas due to their resistance against the Israeli occupation.

The Lebanese newspaper reported the sources as saying that they ruled out that Abbas could cancel the elections or postpone them due to regional and international pressure if he fails to be ready to face Fatah’s main rival, Hamas.

Meanwhile, the differences within Fatah are increasing. The Secretary of its Central Committee, Jibril Al-Rajoub failed last week to prevent the formation of different electoral lists for Fatah members and leaders.

Al-Akhbar said that Al-Rajoub had laid down a roadmap for the elections that meets the demands of Barghouti and Al-Qidwa, but falls far behind their vision in relation to fighting corruption and supporting Palestinian resistance against the occupation.

Senior Fatah official Qadura Fares has announced that he will not stand for election. Fares is the director of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club and said that he is not standing as a candidate because of the “numerous painful conditions for the democratic process that makes the factional agenda superior to national interests.”

Moreover, another senior Fatah official, Nabil Amro, is apparently seeking to form his own list after rejecting the list proposed by the movement’s Central Committee, which does not put him among the top names. Former PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the sources said, is working to form his own list and could possibly act in partnership with Amro.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

The People Vs Navalny: Russia Draws Red Lines To Foreign Meddling In Its Sovereign Affairs

South Front

The flag-bearer of Western influence and globalists in Russia, Alexey Navalny, has been sentenced to 2 years and 8 months in prison for grossly disregarding the terms of his suspended sentence.

The initial sentence was for 3.5 years, but he has already served a part of that term under house arrest. The absurdity of the situation is that his initial sentence was related to corruption – something he allegedly fights against.

Despite claims by MSM and Western diplomats that Navalny is subject to political persecution, his proven and known ties to Western Intelligence were not part of the case.

Just recently, on February 1st, videos were released online showing the joyful cooperation between Navalny’s team and foreign intelligence services. To put it plainly – Navalny’s team requested information from British Intelligence. It planned to employ that “dirt” to hinder Russia’s interests, both internal and external. His Anti-Corruption Foundation, furthermore, promised to work against Russian business, and to promote British companies. For that, these would be paid hefty sums when he, ultimately, somehow managed to come to power. To achieve that, Navalny’s people vowed to stage mass protests, spread propaganda and strike behind the scenes deals with the elites. It can’t be corruption, if it’s for a “good cause”, right?

As further evidence of this foreign support and pressure, at least 20 diplomats from various countries, including the US, made an appearance when Navalny’s case came up in the Moscow Court hoping to pressure the court in his favour thereby meddling in Russian internal affairs. The massive media propaganda campaign was also plain to see.

For proven in court criminal offenses involving embezzlement of funds on a massive scale, dozens of violations of the terms of his suspended sentence, contempt of court, his active and public work in the interests of foreign states against the Russian nation Navalny faced slightly more than 2.5 years in jail. For any neutral observer, this was an expected outcome and the only concern would be the soft punishment that he received. This can be partly explained by Russia once again showing itself to be a stronghold of tolerance and democracy and also by the fact that the decision of the court is related to the violations of the suspended sentence only and it did not review other ‘achievements’ of the anti-Russian clique operating under the Navalny brand.

Following the court decision, Western leaders and diplomats further publicly meddled in internal Russian affairs by calling for violence to demand the release of the self-proclaimed anti-corruption activist. This will also likely be used as a pretext for increasing pressure on Russia, including new sanctions. The remaining Western-funded network inside the country already tried to stage violent protests in Moscow and other big cities. Nonetheless, their attempts failed largely due to a low turnout and to the successful actions of the authorities. There are no doubts that foreign efforts in this field will continue as opponents of Russia need violence on the streets and casualties to push forward their destabilization campaign. At the same time, recent events demonstrated that the hardcore pro-Western opposition has close to no real support among the general Russian population. Therefore, help from Western special services will likely focus on creating pinpoint provocations to escalate the violence and to create some sacred sacrifice. If the government acts successfully to contain these provocations and avoid the escalation of violence, anti-Russian forces will likely focus on keeping up the pressure and some level of instability in the larger cities for the next months. A new round of major provocations can be expected in the runup to the Russian general election in September 2021.

Actions of the global establishment show that hopes for a ‘reconciliation with the West’ demonstrated by the ‘liberal part’ of the Russian elites are largely baseless. Therefore, Russia should be ready for the further confrontation with the so-called ‘Democratic world’, which has for a long time forgotten what the words ‘democracy’ and the ‘rule of law’ really mean.

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The triads, the Kuomintang and Hong Kong’s “democracy riots”

February 02, 2021

The triads, the Kuomintang and Hong Kong’s “democracy riots”

By Ji Pei for the Saker Blog

To put the World in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the Family in order; to put the Family in order, we must first cultivate our personal lives by setting our hearts right. Confucius

The extent of the criminal and corrupt past of Hong Kong and Taiwan is little known in the West.

People know that Hong Kong has been a British colony and the center of the opium trade with China from the the nineteenth century on, but this often remains an abstract knowledge for most readers, who often ignore to which extent this “trade” was tied to blackmailing, corruption, money laundering, war, colonial exploitation and other criminal activities. Part of the huge growth of British banking and of the financial power of the City of London in the 19th century resulted notably from the profits from the opium sold in China. This trade grew from around 5000 crates of opium sold in 1820, to 96,000 crates sold in 1873. This took place against the fierce resistance of the Chinese imperial government, which for this reason had to suffer the three so called Opium Wars waged by Great Britain against China. Expressed in tons, the British opium exports reached very nearly ten thousand tons during the year 1873. An incredible quantity for a substance sold in grams!

Colonial exploitation and crime expanded to new heights after 1949 in Hong Kong and, for that matter, also in Taiwan. Why?

Western people interested by Chinese history usually know that the Kuomintang (KMT) came to power in China as a result of Chiang Kai-shek’s 1926 “Northern Expedition” against the northern warlords. With 6000 Whampoa cadets and 85,000 troops, Chiang took Wuhan in September, 1926, and Shanghai and Nanking in March 1927. Many also know, if only by having read the famous French Author André Malraux’s moving text on this event, that Chiang Kai-shek organized the liquidation of the communists in Shanghai in April, 1927, and that he used the help of the Shanghai criminal syndicates, the so called triads to this aim. What is much less known is the incredible high level of influence played by the triads and by crime in the history of the Kuomintang government of China until its defeat at the hands of Mao Tse-tung’s and Chu Teh’s communists in 1949. This ignorance is due to the fact that the USA, which supported the Kuomintang-based anti-communist government in China during the war with Japan and later in Taiwan after the liberation of China, did everything to let Chiang and the KMT appear clean and solid. They thus laid a coating of governmental respectability on everything that concerned Chiang Kai-shek and his KMT.

In the twenties of the twentieth century, Shanghai’s underworld was dominated by three triads: Pockmarked Huang’s (Huang Chih-jung’s) Red Gang, which would soon be the most militant anti-communist force in China after Big-eared Tu (Tu Yueh-sheng) took the gang’s operational direction, Tu’s own Green Gang, and the Blue Gang. These three triads associated under Big-eared Tu’s pressure to exercise a monopoly of opium handling in order to raise the price. Tu was soon pulling all strings in Shanghai, not only in the underworld, but also in the city’s administration (the gangsters could even read the mail and gather information on banking operations) and in the police. He also had the best connections to the Kung banking family and to the Soong finance dynasty, thus combining the resources of the Kung banking empire, the leverage of the Soong family and the mammoth clout of the green gang. With Chiang Kai-shek, Tu would soon add political power to this extraordinary pyramid of forceful means.

Chiang Kai-shek, the Kuomintang and the triads

And here comes violent-tempered Chiang Kai-shek, born around one year before Big-eared Tu left his mother’s womb in 1888. In 1906, young Chiang left for Japan to receive a military training. On arriving, he discovered that he did not own the official recommendation necessary for that. Soon, he came in contact with the Chinese expatriate community, many of which were followers of Sun Yat-sen’s republican movement. One of them, Ch’en Ch’i-mei, one of Sun’s most ardent recruiters and member of Pockmarked Huang’s Shanghai Red Gang, befriended him. Back in China where he attended the lessons of a military academy, Chiang finally obtained a permission to follow a three-year course at the famous Shimbu Gakko military academy. There in Japan, Ch’en put Chiang up for membership of Sun’s political movement and he was accepted. During one of his visits to China with Ch’en, Chiang Kai-shek was also enrolled into the Green Gang. Involving himself in the gang’s activities, he took part in extortion, armed robberies and a jail break. “His police record in the British-administered International Settlements grew over the years to include murder, extortion, numerous armed robberies, and assorted other crimes.” (Seagrave, page 156).

In 1911, now graduated from Shimbu Gakko, Chiang joined Ch’en for the revolution in October with a unit of Sun Yat-sen’s Republican army composed entirely of Green Gang personnel. After the success of the revolution, Ch’en was appointed military governor of Shanghai and Chiang was made commander of a regiment. He spent the years of WW I mostly in Shanghai (and in Japan when Yuan Shih-kai’s secret police was after him and after Ch’en), usually active in Green Gang extortions and also assisting Ch’en Ch’i-mei who was now chairman of the Kuomintantg’s Central Committee. After Ch’en’s murder by the secret police in May, 1916, Chiang found himself at the heart of a hefty realignment of power in the Kuomintang. He became senior political assistant to Sun Yat-sen and, in 1917, his military adviser in Guangzhou, at the same time always closely working with Big-eared Tu on insider dealings in Shanghai’s stock market. His Shanghai patrons (Tu, the Soongs and wealthy industrialists, bankers like Kungs and merchants) wanted him to ingratiate himself with Sun to increase their common influence upon the Kuomintang. He fulfilled the task with success and was himself made chairman of the Kuomintang’s military academy in Whampoa and chief of staff of the Kuomintang army. Following Sun Yat-sen’s death (1925), Sun’s favored successor, left of center politician Liao Chung-k’ai, was gunned by five Green Gang killers. The murder was attributed to right wing influence: this eliminated the conservative candidates to Sun’s seat, while other leftist candidates couldn’t secure enough support because the workers’ strikes called by the Communist Party scared too many. Thus in the end, it was the “middle of the road” candidate Chiang Kai-shek, Big-eared Tu’s secret candidate of choice, who was elected president of the Kuomintang, the ‘Nationalist Party’. Chiang organized immediately the election of Curio Chang (Chang Ching-chang, another Green Gang friend of Tu with wide connections) to the chairmanship of the KMT’s Central Committee. “With them in charge, the Kuomintang was finally thoroughly criminalized.” (Booth, page 143). Two years later, Chiang and the Green Gang would carry against the communists the heavy blow mentioned at the beginning of this article (the Shanghai 1927 communists’ massacre), thus opening the long civil war between KMT and CPC that would end 1949 with Chiang Kaishek’s defeat at the hands of Mao Tse-tung and Chou Teh and with the establishing of the People’s Republic of China. Chiang fled to Taiwan with his defeated army.

New Regime on Mainland China: the triads flee to Hong Kong and Taiwan

Whatever position one has on communism, one must admit that Mao’s new regime proscribed the triads with a vigor never seen before. The triads were considered a real threat: the Kuomintang had used them as they had used the Kuomintang, virtually running (and ruining) the country together. So the communists feared and abhorred triad criminality: triads had plundered China for decades and in their eyes, this had to stop. Within three years of the communists’ victory, opium got completely removed from Chinese society, the nation “clean” again after more than one century and the triads bereft of their most lucrative business. Addicts were treated sympathetically, farmers ordered to grow food crops instead of poppies. Opium-den owners were publicly humiliated and sent for political reeducation in labor camps. Dealers and traffickers were shot in public after brief trials. The triads got outlawed all over the country.

It is easy to imagine where the triad bosses and members that did not get caught by the communists would go: to Taiwan and to Hong Kong.

As a colony, Hong Kong had attracted Chinese triads almost from the beginning. The more affluent the colony became, the more worthwhile crime also grew. So by 1848, Hong Kong was already considered the nerve center for triad activity all over South China. Hundred years later, by 1949, it looked as if Hong Kong would become the biggest criminal city on earth: prostitution, protection, gambling rackets, narcotics trade, nothing was missing. It is in this situation that refugee members of the big Chinese triads (especially the Shanghainese ones) arrived to Hong Kong and Taiwan in great numbers. Big-eared Tu and his Green Gang chose Hong Kong, not Taiwan, as their mainstay. A new scourge came with them, Heroin: the first Hong Kong heroin laboratories were financed by Big-eared Tu and went into production in 1950. “With an orchestrated, vicious ruthlessness, they also started their own extortion rackets and staged armed robberies on Chinese jewelers’ and gold shops. Well organized and financed, they were soon challenging the local societies (…), coordinating vice with the efficiency of corporate managers. They opened dance halls full of ‘taxi dancers’ who, charging clients by the dance, in turn paid the Green Gang operators for the right to work in their establishments. They ran brothels and massage-parlors, and administered opium and gambling dens. Not content with this, they bribed immigration officials, then preyed upon wealthy criminal exiles, offering protection to avoid deportation or to avoid being sent back to China. Wealthy non-criminals were forced to invest in Green Gang-controlled legitimate business.” (Booth, page 264). However, not everything developed smoothly in Hong Kong for the Green Gang. They had to ward off the competition of the local triads, and the arrest of a high member of the gang, Li Choi-fat in 1952, was a serious setback.

For Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan, on the contrary, the refugee triads from the mainland were welcome. Here again one may say: ‘With them in charge, the island’s new government was now fully criminalized’. Chiang’s government itself consisted almost exclusively of triads, which could so continue their life of crime. They associated themselves into a new government sponsored society, the United Bamboo Society, which helped other triads to gain foothold in Hong Kong. They also formed an effective branch of Chiang Kai-shek’s secret service. Chiang had originally even hoped to be able to establish some political power in Hong Kong to run the colony as another KMT center of power against communist China.

After riots in Hong Kong’s refugee settlements in 1956, during which triads had supported the rioters, the British colonial government increased its fight against the secret societies. The triads had to adopt a low profile and to reconsolidate their position. At the same time, they re-oriented their criminal business to take advantage of the worldwide growing level of wellbeing. “Within four years of the riots, they were in a position to internationalize the narcotics trade. A new triad era was dawning.” (Booth, page 275).

The worldwide narcotic trade

Soon, the triads developed their infrastructure, increased their grip on Hong Kong, and organized during the Vietnam War an essentially Asian-wide, and later a worldwide Heroin trafficking. To gather the huge quantities of morphine base they needed, they set up a purchase agreement with Kuomintang general Li Wen-huan who lived in the Thai jungles in the so called ‘Golden Triangle’ ready to strike at communist China, and who paid his troops by selling Heroin. They also had agreements with Burmese insurgents, with General Rattikone, head of the Laotian army, with the Vietnamese heroin ring of air Vice-marshal Ky etc., thus controlling unlimited sources of morphine base. The CIA, Air America, Continental Air Service and Laos Development Air Service flew the narcotics for them to Thailand and to Hong Kong. In this way, the Hong Kong triads could soon control the entire heroin smuggling, processing and trade from the source to distribution. Hong Kong was the place which accommodated the Heroin labs, where the worldwide income was gathered, laundered and invested in casinos, in general and in commodity trading companies, in commercial property, cinemas, restaurants and bars. Triad bosses like the Ma brothers founded the Oriental Press Group, the main publication of which was the Oriental Daily News, one of Hong Kong’s most popular daily papers. They took part in high profile philanthropic activities, were accepted on the select Hong Kong racecourse and even in the exclusive Royal Jockey Club and lived in luxurious mansions.

After the end of the Vietnam war in 1973, the Hong Kong triads organized connections to the American Mafia (some say they even met Mafia boss Meyer Lansky), to the French Corsican crime syndicates, the French Marseilles gangsters and others. Soon, heroin addiction rose sharply in most Western countries and the triads’ income rose correspondingly. Meanwhile, the fight of the British authorities against the Hong Kong triads was most of the time rather a joke. Even the Ma brothers, if arrested, were released on appeal, or went to Taiwan if necessary. Many high level traffickers were acquitted. Why would police officers or judges risk their lives, seeing the attitude of their bosses: according to a Sunday Times report, the triad’s Oriental Press Group had donated considerable sums to the Conservative Party funds. Even Christopher Patten, sung of as the so incredibly democratic minded last governor of Hong Kong, “attended functions at the Oriental Press Group headquarters and gave his blessing to the founding of a new English-language daily newspaper, the Eastern Express. John Major, as party leader as well as prime minister, entertained [triad boss] Ma to tea at Downing Street.” (Booth, page 295). No change from the 19th century: Great Britain’s elites (if not the poor British youth addicted to Heroin!), Hong Kong’s elites ‒ and their banks! ‒ have always thrived on opium. And the USA always followed the example.

Chinese corruption and Chinese Fight against corruption

Everybody knows that in the early eighties, Deng Xiaoping told the Chinese to “Get rich” in order to launch the process of building up efficiently a market economy to strive out of underdevelopment. The Chinese people obeyed and the economy started to thrive and to boast incredible GDP growth rates never seen before. Obviously, in this process, quite a few Chinese would transgress the laws of morals, and corruption grew again in China at a rate never seen since 1949. Hong Kong triads reestablished business with the new Chinese criminal scene. Even the People’s Liberation Army, the communist party and the administration were caught in this corrupting frenzy. But because the Chinese communist party is – with more than eighty million members – the biggest people’s party worldwide, the law abiding majority of this party let their party leaders understand that they had to do something against corruption, or else… Since China had and has energetic leaders like Jiang Zemin, Zhu Rongji or now Xi Jinping, who organized a war against corruption never seen of in our parts of the world, things started to change: in the meantime, even high level officials or ministers found guilty of corruption have been condemned to heavy sentences (even death penalty) in China, whereas similar persons in the West get a few months on probation for the same level of corruption, if at all.

However, the corruption fighting leaders of the Communist Party had a problem: if criminal or corrupt members of the Chinese society and of the party could flee to Hong Kong before being arrested, they couldn’t be brought to trial in their homeland because the ex-colony had no extradition law. That was a real problem for China’s politics and for China’s justice.

In the final months of British rule under Governor Patten, Hong Kong had passed laws barring the extradition to mainland China due to claimed concerns about the quality and objectivity of the mainland’s justice. This in spite of the huge progress made in China in the field of justice, especially since the law of 2004 strongly reinforcing the position of the defending counsels in court, and in spite of the fact that colonial justice itself had always been a caricature of justice, since in Hong Kong Chinese people could never be tried by Chinese judges, but only by British ones.

Beijing formulated very early its wish to see this Patten “non-extradition” bill changed for a law allowing extradition, but displayed much patience in order to avoid doing violence to the autonomy and anti-communist feelings of part of the Hong Kong population. But the constant misuse of Hong Kong’s protection by persons menaced by the Xi Jinping government’s legal, useful and successful fight against corruption and graft led to an increase of Beijing’s pressure for a change in this field. Beijing let it know that more than 300 wanted fugitives were hiding in Hong Kong. Finally, the Hong Kong government decided in February, 2019 to amend the law and to allow for extradition on a case-by-case basis with countries not already covered by mutual agreements—and this would include mainland China and Macao, doing away with the geographical restrictions on the PRC in the existing rules.

Street war against extradition law

Opposition to this change manifested itself very soon. Aside of the old anti-communist prejudice of a part of Hong Kong’s population, this change obviously affected huge interests: the financial interests of the Hong Kong triads which earned millions with the corrupt part of mainland China’s industry, banking and import-export business, the financial interests of the Taiwan triads doing similar businesses, the financial interests of the money laundering and money manipulating British and overseas Chinese banks, the financial interests of Hong Kong’s big import-export houses, the financial and political interests of Taiwan’s Kuomintang party, the huge political and geopolitical interests of the imperialist NATO countries, especially Great Britain and the USA and their secret services and NGOs, which have been practicing the containment of China since 1949 and which dream of a weak China which could be recolonized, and finally the financial and political interests of the infamous One Percent billionaires dreaming of globalization and world power and who saw there an opportunity to sabotage China’s Belt and Road Initiative. With such interests ready to finance and support opposition against the new extradition bill, and within the framework of the anti-China business war waged by the Trump government against the Chinese government, it is clear that huge rioting activities and widespread protests were soon mobilized on a very large scale against China in the streets of Hong Kong and Kowloon during the whole of 2019 and part of 2020.

The incredibly brutal and nasty protests against the extradition law in Hong Kong thus lasted more than one year. The West has probably never before invested so much money and political influencing in a single China containment political struggle, fortunately to no avail: bar associations, chambers of commerce, law societies, so called human rights groups, journalist’s associations, dozens of colonial era officials including of course Chris Patten himself, the whole of the Western mainstream media and dozens of government representatives in the line of Great Britain, the EU, the USA, Canada, etc. have criticized the People’s Republic’s policy. A nastier intervention into the internal affairs of a country is difficult to find. The world can rest thankful to the Peoples Republic of China for having shown much patience: the units of the People’s Liberation Army established in Hong Kong never intervened except to clean up the debris of destroyed shop fronts. Having brought seven hundred million citizens out of poverty within twenty-five years, China is now a strong, proud dragon that obviously no longer needs to brawl with misled students and louts. One only feels sorry for the tens of thousands of these naïve students and other young people who believed the lies of their agitators and thought to fight for liberty and democracy, whereas they were fighting for the financial and political interests of criminals, of money launders, globalists and of corrupt politicians.

In the end, an extradition law had to be. And it is now effective in Hong Kong.


Literature:

One could fill many pages with titles of books on the Chinese triads, on the history of Kuomintang China, on the history of Hong Kong, etc. The two books mentioned in this article bring the most important facts together in attractive, easy readable texts:

SEAGRAVE, Sterling, 1985: The Soong dynasty, Corgi Books, London

BOOTH, Martin,, 1999: The dragon syndicates. Bantam Books, London

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_hong_kong_extradition_bill

Dr. Ji Pei was lecturer for Chinese history at a European University.

CHICKEN KIEV MEETS COLD TURKEY: BLACK SEA AXIS EMERGES?

South Front

Chicken Kiev Meets Cold Turkey: Black Sea Axis Emerges?

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

Kiev’s Unrequited Love

On the face of it, an alliance between Turkey and Ukraine seems like a rather odd creation, yet one that may surprisingly durable simply because neither country has anywhere else to turn. What practically dooms them to a partnership if not an outright alliance is their unenviable geographic and geopolitical position of occupying the strange “no man’s land” between Russia, NATO, and the Middle East. It is, of course, largely a predicament of their own making. Ukraine, with considerable Western backing and encouragement but nevertheless mostly through efforts of a faction of its own oligarchy, opted out of the Russia-centered network of loose alliances, trade partnerships, and other forms of cooperation that were mutually beneficial to the two in the previous two decades. But that defection was not rewarded by the West in a way the likes of Poroshenko, Yatsenyuk, Avakov, Parubiy, and other architects of the Maidan coup expected. Merely being stridently anti-Russian did not prove enough to warrant a shower of US and European cash, only onerous IMF loans which moreover come with conditions Kiev elites are in no hurry to abide by. EU foreign policy chief Josef Borrel lecturing Kiev that the European Union is not an “ATM machine” delivered that point loud and clear: Kiev is supposed to privatize whatever crown jewels its economy still has (at this point, mainly agricultural land), fight corruption of its own elites and facilitate the corruption of Western elites. Joseph Robinette Biden Junior is hardly the only Western politician with a talentless son in need of a lucrative sinecure. There are entire Western companies eager to participate in the thinly disguised plunder that the privatization of Ukraine’s economy will inevitably turn into. A Kiev court’s recent decision to declare the country’s anti-corruption institutions that were painstakingly stood up with considerable aid and tutelage from Western governments, down to screening appropriately-minded individuals for the job, looks as if it were calculated to send a middle-finger gesture to Borrel in terms even dense EU bureaucratic hacks will comprehend. Pro-EU newspapers like Kiev Post were quick to label this a “death of democracy”, presumably with the intent of interesting EU and NATO in sponsoring yet another Maidan since last one seems not to be delivering the goods. The expected shower of Western weaponry has not materialized, probably because NATO is afraid to give Ukraine so much aid that it will risk a full-blown war with Russia.

Ankara’s Burning Hate

Chicken Kiev Meets Cold Turkey: Black Sea Axis Emerges?

Erdogan’s Turkey, by contrast, is in process of de-facto opting out of NATO, though neither Turkey nor the alliance itself want to take the final step of severing ties completely. NATO membership is still beneficial to Turkey. While the procurement of Russian S-400 air defense systems angered NATO and US in particular, resulting in the expulsion of Turkey from the F-35 program and the cancellation of F-35 sale to the country, evidently Ankara hopes that by nominally remaining in the alliance it limits NATO and EU sanctions that would no doubt be far harsher if it were totally out of the alliance. The hope that Turkey, possibly post-Erdogan, will yet see the error of its ways and return to the fold, prevents NATO from adopting harsher stances that would definitely push Ankara away. Yet the drifting apart is unmistakable, and the animosity between Turkey’s leaders and their Western European counterparts is so intense as to beggar belief. While Germany’s Merkel is careful to tip-toe around the issue due to fear of another wave of refugees as well as unrest among the large Turkish diaspora in Germany, France’s Macron seems to have taken a personal affront to Erdogan’s suggestion he might need a mental evaluation and will press the issue of EU sanctions against Turkey at future Union summits.

But from Turkey’s perspective, getting a cold shoulder from the EU is par for the course. Its own migration to the geopolitical gray zone of Eurasia was motivated by EU’s failure to admit Turkey as a member after decades of leading it by the nose and promising neighborhood in some nebulously distant future right after Hell froze over. Like Ukraine, Turkey was not seeking EU membership because of some mythical “shared values”. It, too, saw EU as an ATM machine that would shower Turkey, one of the poorest countries on the continent, with development assistance and moreover allow Turks to freely travel and work throughout the Union. Needless to say, neither of these prospects appealed to pretty much any European country, no matter how close or distant it was geographically. So after decades of leading Turkey by the nose, EU politely put an end to the charade citing problems with Turkey’s democracy. Thus snubbed, Erdogan opted to chart an independent course and appears to be finding a similarly snubbed oligarch clique in Kiev looking for ways the two countries could extract mutual benefit from their isolated status.

Quid pro Quos

There are plenty of those to be had, as limited as Ukraine’s and Turkey’s resources are, compared to such patrons as EU, NATO, US. Faced with isolation and even a potential ban on arms exports, Turkey has a strong incentive to exploit the resources of the Ukrainian defense industry and engage in some export substitution in case vital supplies are no longer available from the West. Canada’s and Austria’s ban on exports of optronics and engines needed for the Bayraktar TB2 combat drones means Ukraine’s ability to provide substitutes would be most welcome. Ukraine, for its part, would not be against deploying a huge attack drone fleet of its own in the hopes of replicating Azerbaijan’s successful offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh on the Donbass, though there Ukraine’s drones would probably run afoul of Novorossiya’s air defenses in the same way Turkish drones were brought to heel over Idlib. Turkey’s Altay main battle tank is likewise little more than an assembly of components imported from other countries, particularly Germany. Since Germany has already placed a ban on export of powerpacks and transmissions for the Altay, Turkey has been casting about for replacements, looking as far as China. Whether Ukraine’s developments in this realm can be adopted to rescue the Altay project remain to be seen. However, the Oplot powerpacks and transmissions can probably be adapted to Altay use, resulting in Turkey realizing its goal of a home-grown MBT. Ultimately, the greater the contribution of Ukrainian defense industry to Turkey’s military modernization, the more freedom of action it would bestow on Turkey and make it less dependent on other foreign sources of military hardware who can exert influence over Turkey simply by withholding future technical support. If the United States were to follow up on the F-35 expulsion with a ban on servicing Turkish F-16s which form the mainstay of its airpower, the result would be crippling of the country’s air combat capabilities that drones cannot compensate for and which would be sorely missed in any confrontation with another comparable power like Greece. Turkey’s efforts to develop an indigenous fighter aircraft would benefit from Ukraine’s technological contributions and its own interest in indigenous aircraft designs. For Ukraine, the relationship would be an opportunity to acquire NATO-compatible weaponry with the caveat that it would have to pay in full for every last drone, either with cash or in kind. Turkey’s economic situation is not so strong as to allow largesse in the form of free military aid to anyone.

Chicken Kiev Meets Cold Turkey: Black Sea Axis Emerges?

Match Made in Hell

Mitigating against the long-term development of what Zelensky referred to as “strategic partnership” with Turkey is the erratic behavior of Erdogan who seeks to dominate any and all partners and tries to see how far he can push before the partners push back. This practice has led to the confrontations in Syria, Libya, and eastern Mediterranean. Ukraine, in contrast to Russia, France, and even Greece, is hardly in a position to push back. The most dangerous aspect of Turkish politics, from Ukraine’s perspective, is the ideology of Pan-Turkism that just might transform Ukraine’s Tatar community into a proxy force for Turkey right inside Ukraine, adding yet another fissure to the already fractured political picture. On the plus side, Erdogan does not appear interested in “combating corruption” in Ukraine, though that does not preclude the possibility Turkey’s military collaboration with Ukraine might not cost Ukraine dearly, though not to the same extent as EU-promoted privatization efforts.

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لماذا إيران ليست مع أذربيجان…!؟

محمد صادق الحسيني

بصراحة واختصار لأنّ أذربيجان مع الشيطان…!

هذا هو جواب الذين يتساءلون، لماذا لا تقف إيران الى جانب أذربيجان، بما انّ أذربيجان دولة مسلمة وشيعية ولديها أراض محتلة لدى أرمينيا (غير قره باغ التي هي إقليم حكم ذاتي مستقل، فهناك أراض سيطرت عليها أرمينيا خلال حرب ١٩٩٤، منها بلدة جبرائيل التي زعمت أذربيجان انها استرجعتها اخيراً) فلماذا إذن إيران لا تقف معها وتساندها…!؟

سؤال مهمّ نحاول الإجابة عنه هنا بكلّ موضوعية ومسؤولية وإليكم البراهين:

١– انّ إيران تقف بقوّة مثلها مثل كثير من الدول الى جانب هذا الحق للشعب الأذربيجاني، والذي ضمنه لها أيضاً قرار أممي اعترفت به معظم دول العالم.

٢– انّ جمهورية أذربيجان الحالية تعتبر واحدة من الدول الغارقة في الفساد والمتحالفة تحالفاً عميقاً مع الكيان الصهيوني قلباً وقالباً منذ إعلانها دولة مستقلة بعد انهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي السابق، ويتحكم في قرارها نحو ٤٠ مليونير يهودي من الأقلية القليلة جداً الأذربيجانية لكنها التي تحيط بالرئيس الحالي الهام علييف، وهي التي توفر له حالياً الجسر الجوي الصهيوني من مسيّرات وتسليح متعدّد الأهداف، بالإضافة إلى تدريب مرتزقة أجانب وإرسالهم إلى باكو..!

٣– انّ جمهورية أذربيجان الحالية تلعب دوراً قذراً وخطيراً جداً تجاه الجمهورية الإسلامية حيث تحتضن ومعها تركيا مجموعات من الانفصاليين الأذربيجانيين الإيرانيين (من القسم الأصلي لأذربيجان الذي لا يزال في حضن الدولة الأمّ بعد انفصال جمهورية أذربيجان الحالية مع أرمينيا وجورجيا التي كانت أراضي إيرانية تمّ سلخها عن الوطن الأمّ في نهاية الحرب الثانية بين روسيا القيصرية وإيران القاجارية عام ١٨٢٨).

وهم الذين تحضّرهم الآن حكومتا أنقرة وباكو ليلعبوا دوراً تخريبياً على الحدود الإيرانية، بهدف تمزيق وتجزئة إيران وإشعال حرب قوميات فيها، في حال نجحتا في توسيع نطاق حرب القوقاز الحالية واستدراج إيران إليها…!

٤– انّ أذربيجان دولة قرارها ليس بيدها، والحرب الحالية التي يتمّ تسعيرها تحت غطاء حق قره باغ في الحكم الذاتي ضمن نطاق جمهورية أذربيجان كما تنصّ المقررات الدولية واسترجاع أراض محتلة لها، إنما تمّ شنّها بأمر عمليات أميركي ودعم جزء من الأطلسي وبرأس حربة أردوغانية خبيثة هدفها التحشيد ضدّ روسيا وإيران والصين، ومحاولة استنساخ سيناريو سوري من خلال عمليات نقل وتثبيت عصابات إرهابية تكفيرية من جنسيات ذات أصول سوفياتية وصينية وقوقازية في كلّ جمهوريات القوقاز وفي مقدّمها أذربيجان، بهدف السيطرة على منابع النفط والغاز والطرق الاستراتيجية التي تعيق عمليات الدفاع لثلاثي القوة الصاعد المناهض للأحادية والهيمنة الأميركية أيّ روسيا والصين وإيران في أيّ مواجهة مرتقبة.

وهي عملية هيّأت لها تركيا بنقل مستشاريها الى باكو قبل اندلاع النزاع الحالي تحت عنوان مناورات مشتركة وأبقتهم هناك، بالإضافة الى القيام بعمليات نقل واسعة لمجموعات إرهابية من سورية بتمويل قطري.

٥– انّ حكومة باكو تلعب دور المطية والأداة الطيعة بيد أردوغان الذي سيستخدمها في أيّ مقايضات مستقبلية دولية بين القوى المتصارعة في البحرين الأسود والخزر وكذلك شرق المتوسط حيث تحاول أنقرة أخذ موقع لها مستجدّ هناك، في ظلّ تحشيدات الناتو والأميركي اللذين يقاتلان قتالاً تراجعياً بعد هزائمهما المتكرّرة أمام أسوار وبوابات عواصم محور المقاومة تاركين المجال لأدواتهم الصغار ليملأوا الفراغ…!

٦– انّ سياسة الجمهورية الإسلامية الخارجية لا تقوم مطلقاً على قواعد طائفية او مذهبية في كافة الملفات الدولية والإقليمية، وإنما على قواعد العدالة والقانون الدولي ونصرة المستضعفين أينما كانوا، ومقاومة الظلم والهيمنة والتسلط من اي طرف جاؤوا…

اخيراً لا بدّ من القول بأنّ الطغمة الحاكمة حالياً في أذربيجان هي من بقايا الحزب الشيوعي السوفياتي السابق والتي باتت الآن منقسمة على نفسها بين الرئيس الهام علييف المشهور بالفساد والذي ربط مصالحه الشخصية بأنقرة واستلحاقاً بالغرب من بوابة تل ابيب، فيما زوجته مهربان التي تشغل موقع نائب الرئيس في الجمهورية والتي تترأس جمعية الصداقة الأذربيجانية الروسية وهي التي قلدها الرئيس بوتين أعلى وسام للصداقة في موسكو قبل أشهر، تتمايز عنه بعض الشيء في ميلها نحو موسكو، وهي التي أطاحت بوزير خارجية بلادها ورئيس هيئة الأركان قبل مدة بعد اتهامهما بتغليب مصالح الخارج على مصالح الداخل، ما اعتبر زعزعة للأمن القومي الأذربيجاني!

أما حكاية دعم إيران لجمهورية أرمينيا المسيحية في المقابل فهي حكاية منقوصة التداول…

فإيران لا تصطفّ مع أرمينيا ضدّ أذربيجان في الصراع حول قره باغ، وإنما تحترم وتقدّر دور جمهورية أرمينيا باعتبارها دولة مستقلة تمارس سياسة متوازنة في القوقاز، ولا تساهم مطلقاً في زعزعة استقرار المنطقة، تماماً كما هو دور المواطنين الأرمن الإيرانيين الشرفاء الذين كانوا ولا يزالون يلعبون دوراً ايجابياً في الدفاع عن سلامة واستقرار واستقلال ووحدة أراضي بلدهم ووطنهم إيران، رغم حمايتهم وحبهم وعشقهم لوطنهم الأمّ أرمينيا.

لتجدنّ أشدّ الناس عداوة للذين آمنوا اليهود…

ولتجدنّ أقرب الناس مودة للذين آمنوا الذين قالوا انا نصارى… وانهم لا يستكبرون…

المعيار إذن هو الموقف من مقولة الاستكبار والمستكبرين.

سئل الإمام علي: كيف تعرف أهل الحق في زمن الفتن، فقال: اتبعوا سهام العدو، فإنها ترشدكم إلى أهل الحق.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

NYT Report: Trump Paid No Income Taxes In 10 Out Of 15 Years Beginning In 2000

NYT Report: Trump Paid No Income Taxes In 10 Out Of 15 Years Beginning In 2000

By Staff, Agencies

US President Donald Trump paid no federal income taxes whatsoever in 10 out of 15 years beginning in 2000 because he reported losing significantly more than he made, according to an explosive report released Sunday by the New York Times.

In both the year he won the presidency and his first year in the White House, Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes, the NYT reported.

Detailing payments gleaned from more than two decades of tax information, the NYT report outlined extensive financial losses and years of tax avoidance that deal a blow to the business-tycoon brand Trump has built his political career on.

At a White House briefing Sunday, Trump denied the New York Times story and claimed that he pays “a lot” in federal income taxes.

“I pay a lot, and I pay a lot in state income taxes,” Trump claimed.

He also added that he is willing to release his tax returns once he is no longer under audit by the Internal Revenue Service, which he said “treats me badly.”

Trump, however, is under no obligation to hold his tax returns while under audit, despite his repeated claims otherwise.

The US President also refused to answer how much he has paid in federal taxes in the briefing and walked out to shouted questions from CNN’s Jeremy Diamond on the topic.

The expansive NYT report paints a picture of businessman who was struggling to keep his businesses afloat and was reporting millions in losses even as he was campaigning for President and boasting about his financial success.

According to the newspaper, Trump used the $427.4 million he was paid for “The Apprentice” to fund his other businesses, mostly his golf courses, and was putting more cash into his businesses than he was taking out.

The tax information obtained by the NYT also revealed that Trump has been fighting the IRS for years over whether losses he claimed should have resulted in a nearly $73 million refund.

In response to a letter summarizing the newspaper’s findings, Trump Organization lawyer Alan Garten told the Times that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate” and requested the documents.

The New York Times said it will not make Trump’s tax-return data public so as not to jeopardize its sources “who have taken enormous personal risks to help inform the public.”

The tax-return data obtained by the newspaper does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019.

Trump’s taxes have been largely a mystery since he first ran for office.

During the 2016 campaign, the then-candidate broke with presidential election norms and refused to produce his tax returns for public review. They have remained private since he took office.

The NYT reported Sunday that Trump’s tax information reveals specific examples of the potential conflicts of interests between the President’s business with his position.

Trump has collected an additional $5 million a year at Mar-a-Lago since 2015 from new members. A roofing material manufacturer GAF spent at least $1.5 million in 2018 at Trump’s Doral golf course near Miami while its industry was lobbying the government to roll back federal regulations, according to the Times.

Trump has denied the accusations, labelling the report as ‘fake news’ but the NYT said all of the information obtained was “provided by sources with legal access to it.”

Canada today slipped beneath the waves, like the Titanic, but into deep dictatorship.

Canada today slipped beneath the waves, like the Titanic, but into deep dictatorship.

August 18, 2020

By Marcel Woland for The Saker Blog

Today, the Minister of Finance, Morneau, was forced by Trudeau to resign, after he and Trudeau were caught (*see below) diverting one billion dollars to personal, non-governmental, associates. George Soros, through an Ukrainian agent/mole, is now the de facto head of Canada.

George Soros’s designated ‘biographer’ (hagiographer) Ukrainian-Canadian Fascist, Chrystia Freeland, becomes Minister of Finance, (presumably de facto keeping her duties as Minister of InterGovernmental Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister) as parliament is dissolved amidst the cover-up of a billion dollar scandal.

With Canada rudderless, in a time of alleged pandemic and economic collapse, the new Minister of Finance, DPM and Intergovernmental Affairs-in-one, has already promised to “help women” using money-printing and the almost empty Treasury of Canada. Women voters are likely the last hope for the oligarch playboy, thrice found guilty of ethics violations, minority PM Trudeau. His support at the last election was 30%. By now it is likely down to 20% of die-hard, mostly female, fans.

Shutting down Parliament completely, which he has partially done for months under cover of the alleged pandemic, will prevent a motion of non-confidence being brought, even if the Sikh leader of the NDP, who keeps Trudeau in power, remembers suddenly that his allegiance is to the country and not to the ‘white Sahib’ PM.

* Our Prime Minister and his ex-Finance Minister were caught recently attempting to siphon one billion dollars to an alleged pedophile cult and real estate assembly crime family(the Kielburgers), with which both their families had business dealings, called The WE Foundation. So far we know that the WE Foundation, or its subsidiaries, had paid the PM  and the former Finance Minister and their families over 500 thousand dollars in ‘free vacations’ and ‘speaker fees’. 

Here ​(below) ​is the new de facto Queen of Canada, Chrystia Freeland who concealed her family’s Nazi past.  “Look upon her​ works​, ye ​M​ighty, and despair.”​ (apology to Percy Shelley) ​ She was instrumental in the coup d’etat in the former The Ukraine, working with various Soros NGOs and the USSD as well as other quasi-criminal organizations. In this time of collapsing trade, and nuclear proliferation, she has long been banned from Russia in any capacity for Russophobia and crazed antagonism towards one of the world’s three “superpowers”. She of course makes no apology for this and the Canadian press dares not pressure her, even if they wanted to. She has also accelerated the destruction of the Canadian economy by the arrest, requested by the USA, of Meng Wan Zhou, CFO of Huawei, in the West’s il-thought out and failing trade war with China.

Meet the new Queen of Canada

And here, for some comic relief, on this bleak day for Canada indeed, is the eternal inspiration of crooked, low-potential, high-achievers (though a bit taller than the micro-Mini-Me Freeland) Pooh-Bah from The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan  https://youtu.be/jbpUzCFCy_8?t=889  (to 18:13) …but the whole of The Mikado in this Stratford Ontario Canadian production is often delightful and yet quite a dark and timely tale of misrule. Perfect viewing for a luxurious solitary confinement.

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Meanwhile, under cover of press silence and collusion, as in Russia, in 1917, the attack on the Church is  advancing at full speed:

VIDEO: Holy Communion BANNED at Churches in Toronto Canada

Is the Russian Ministry of Finance Sabotaging Putin’s Decision? (Ruslan Ostashko)

Is the Russian Ministry of Finance Sabotaging Putin’s Decision? (Ruslan Ostashko)

August 12, 2020

Translated and captioned by Leo.

The attempt to sabotage the [Russian] President’s decision to pull the tail of offshore optimizers seems to be the work of the Ministry of Finance. The profile of the ministry, with the head of Anton Siluanov, has set back the actions of preventing withdrawal of dividends without taxation until the beginning of 2024. Which once again brings up the question about, “who do the Russian liberals in power work for?”

A very controversial decision was made at the end of July by the Ministry of Finance. I’ll remind you. Earlier, Vladimir Putin proposed to introduce a 15% tax on the output of dividends into offshore zones. And the government quickly went into a decisive action. For example, with the laws of the Republic of Cyprus, there was a letter about the change in their agreement for taxation. A few months went by with negotiations. Cypriots didn’t agree with terms, so as a result of this, Russia recently tore up the agreement in a one-sided manner. It would seem that everything is going according to the plan proposed by the President. But in light of the actions by the Ministry of Finance, it puts the question on the refusal of actually attaining the proposed goals for upcoming years.

Article title: “The Ministry of Finance Will Extend the Possibility of Withdrawing Dividends Abroad Without Taxes”. Businesses have lobbied for the transition period until 2024 to pay for the dividends offshore with a 0% tax under certain conditions. The Ministry of Finance wanted to completely close this loophole by the beginning of next year.

As RBK Group media reported in the Ministry of Finance: “The proposed bill was discussed with the involvement of the business community to develop an optimal mechanism for applying the benefits as for the state, and the same way for business, in order to prevent a sharp increase in the tax burden, following the discussion, a compromise decision was made on a transition period (before December 31, 2023) for the application of this long process and the need to comply with certain conditions for its retrieval. The amendments were submitted for consideration to the government.”

Am I the only one who sees that with the phrasing of these words, businesses lobbied for actions of criminal offense? I’ll remind you that it’s in the USA where lobbyism is legalized. But here [in Russia] it’s in fact called ‘corruption’. Maybe the Ministry of Finance’s press service will sound out the name of the company which influenced the official on the question about delaying the term in introducing the 15% tax on outsourced dividends? Which would allow our comrades from the FSB to visit these companies.

It looks like Russia’s liberal Minister of Finance completely confused which side of the ocean he’s supposed to be on. We know very well what happens with the output of money from Russia into offshore accounts with no taxes. For those who don’t know, it won’t be that hard to find out after reading on the aftermath of the accident in the Arctic. (Article featured in video: https://www.forbes.ru/obshchestvo-photogallery/402193-krupneyshaya-katastrofa-v-arktike-chto-izvestno-o-razlive-topliva) Which was caused by the ‘I don’t care’ attitude by the company leadership of Nornickel. This corporation exploits Russian natural resources and shareholders move them into the offshore accounts without paying any taxes. But if they had paid it, then the government could have used this money to make decisions themselves, without expecting responsibility from light clothes-wearing talk-managers to answer those same questions related to ecology. But for the Minister of Finance, the opinions of entrepreneurial networks are more important.

When it comes to buying out recent proposals by turning up the heat on privatization, it is characterized by this very Minister of Finance like the lackeys of major businesses:

Source: Lenta.ru – “From the period until 2025, the number of companies with state participation should be reduced 1.5 times to 961 enterprises, such figures are contained in the plan of activities of the Ministry of Finance of Russia for 2020 until 2025. The department is gathered to consistently fight against state participation in the economy. In 2020, the number of state companies should fall to 1465, in 2021 – down to 1319, in 2022 – down to 1187, in 2023 – down to 1068.”

Has there been not enough privatization frauds in Russia with their consequences? There were only a little amount of ‘effective owners’ that harmed our fellow citizens, like that same owner of the shopping center ‘Winter Cherry’ in Kemerovo. While sitting abroad and regularly receiving his rent money, he hired ‘effective managers’ which didn’t care about fire safety. Do we really need more effective bloodsuckers to cause accidents and death? Or maybe we need to get rid of the rotten liberals in the Ministry of Finance who are clearly serving not the government of the Russian society, but instead those same ‘effective owners’. Otherwise it’s looking like the Prime Minister changed, but the liberal path of independent ministries has remained unchanged:

Source: Lenta.ru – “In January, even before the resignation of Dmitry Medvedev’s government, the Ministry of Finance published forecasts for a privatization plan for 2020-2022. It mentioned within three years the sale of 86 federal unitary enterprises, 186 joint-stock companies, 1168 facilities and 13 shares of state participation in limited liability companies.”

I am personally against a written path, and I express my lack of trust in the Minister who pushes these kind of politics. If you agree with me, then I suggest you to spread this information on social media, demanding that we remove Anton Siluanov from the post of Minister of Finance. Enough already, he’s ruled long enough. Let the post become available to someone who will carry out the orders of the President of Russia, instead of sabotaging them.

Lebanese government resigns: ‘Corruption is stronger than the State’


Date: 10 August 2020

Author: lecridespeuples

Statement by Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab announcing the resignation of his government, August 10, 2020.

This technocratic government formed in January 2020 was the first ever in which Hezbollah’s strongest opponents didn’t hold positions.

Source: http://www.pcm.gov.lb/arabic/subpg.aspx?pageid=18047

Translation: resistancenews.org

Transcript:

We are still in the throes of the tragedy that struck Lebanon. This disaster that struck the Lebanese people to the core occurred as a result of chronic corruption in politics, administration and the State.

I said previously that the system of corruption is rooted in all articulations of the State, but I have found that the system of corruption is bigger than the State, and the State is constrained by this system and can’t face it or get rid of it.

One of the examples of this endemic corruption has exploded in the port of Beirut, and this calamity has struck Lebanon, but such examples of corruption are widespread in the political and administrative geography of the country, and the danger is very great that other hidden woes (still threaten the people), very present in many minds and stored in other warehouses, with the protection of the class which controls the fate of the country and threatens the lives of the people, falsifies the facts and lives off the sedition, trading in the blood of the Lebanese people as soon as the opportunity arises, depending on fluctuating interests, whims, calculations and allegiances.

Today, we are facing a great tragedy, and all the forces concerned with preserving the country and the interests of the people were supposed to cooperate to overcome this ordeal, by imposing on themselves silence for several days, mourning for the souls of the martyrs, respecting the pain of the bereaved, parents, siblings and orphans, striving to help people, heal their wounds, and provide them with housing, and helping those who have lost their livelihood.

The scale of the tragedy is too great to describe, but some live in another era. They are not interested in everything that has happened except to the extent that it can allow them to score political points, launch populist electoral speeches and demolish what remains of the State.

They should have been ashamed of themselves, for their corruption has produced this calamity hidden for seven years, and God knows how many calamities they hide under the cloak of their corruption.

But these people have the habit of changing their position according to the circumstances, to falsify the facts, when what is needed is to change them (get rid of them permanently), because they are the real tragedy of Lebanese people. Yes, they are the real tragedy of the Lebanese people.

They have changed and evolved a lot in the past, (to neutralize) every opportunity to get rid of their corruption.

They did not correctly interpret the Lebanese revolution of October 17, 2019. This revolution was against them, but they did not understand it well. They continued with their practices and calculations, believing they could dilute the Lebanese people’s demands for change, for a just and strong State, for an independent judiciary, to end corruption, waste and theft, and the policies that have emptied the State treasury, squandered the savings of the people and placed the country under enormous debt burdens, causing this financial, economic and social collapse.

But the greatest paradox is that a few weeks (only) after the formation of this government, they tried to make it bear the responsibility for their infamies, and to hold it responsible for the collapse, the waste and the public debt.

Really, they should die of shame.

This government has gone to great lengths to chart a road map to save the country.

Each minister in this government has given his maximum because we are concerned about the country, and we care about its future and that of our children.

We have no personal interests, and all that matters to us is saving the country. Because we have taken on this mission, we have suffered many attacks and false accusations. But we refused to let ourselves be drawn into futile polemics, because we wanted to work. Nevertheless, the enraged trumpets did not stop their attempts to falsify the facts, to protect themselves and cover up their crimes.

We carried the Lebanese demand for change. But between us and change lies a very thick and very thorny wall, protected by a class which resists by all dirty methods, in order to preserve its privileges, its positions and its ability to control the state.

We fought fiercely and with honor, but this battle could not be won. We were alone and they were united against us. They have used all their weapons, distorted the truths, falsified the facts, spread rumors, lied to people, committed all mortal and venial sins. They knew that we were a threat to them, and that the success of this government would mean real change in this class which has always reigned until the country was suffocated by the smells of its corruption.

Today we have come to this, with the earthquake that struck the country, with all its humanitarian, social, economic and national repercussions. Our first concern is to deal with these repercussions, along with a swift investigation that defines responsibility and does not let the disaster be forgotten over time.

Today we appeal to the people, to their demand that those responsible for this hidden disaster for seven years be held to account, to their genuine desire to move from a state of corruption, waste, bribes and thefts to a rule of law, justice and transparency. To a State that respects its children.

Faced with this reality, we are taking a step backwards, in order to stand alongside the people, to lead the battle for change with them. We want to open the door to a national salvation that the Lebanese will help shape.

Therefore, today I am announcing the resignation of this government.

May God protect Lebanon. May God protect Lebanon. May God protect Lebanon.

Long live the Lebanese people. Long live Lebanon.

***

Hassan Nasrallah: our opponents have demonstrated their moral bankruptcy and lack of lucidity

Echoing extracts from the speech of Hezbollah Secretary General on August 7, 2020.

[…] In general, it is said that dignified peoples, who have a certain level of culture and ethics, a certain sense of responsibility and humanity, a sense of national interest, even when there are struggles and disputes among themselves, when a great national tragedy occurs, or a terrible event occurs, everyone temporarily freezes their struggles and disputes, as well as their personal calculations, to rise above all these (partisan) considerations, and to behave on a nobler ethical and human basis, and everyone helps each other to overcome this tragedy or this catastrophe. Once the crisis is over, things can resume their usual course. Things are like this (in general) all over the world.

Sometimes we have even seen that in the midst of war, when a tragic event such as a massacre occurs, the enemies conclude a truce, a ceasefire, even in the midst of war! It does happen and it is well known (even against Israel), but I will not waste time citing examples. But outside of war, within the same country, where there is a government, an opposition, rival political forces, when a catastrophe affects everyone, all regions, all families. What happened was not a tragedy that only targeted certain categories of the population, no. In general, in such situations (of national disaster), differences are temporarily put aside, and everyone helps and cooperates (even with their political opponents), and adopts more dignified language, with different sentiments, and different statements and political speeches. Likewise, the media behave differently, with humanity and ethics, each granting a respite (to their adversaries), if only for a few days, at least a few days (of truce)! I’m not talking about months or years, no, a few days, (one or) two weeks! To give people time to recover the remains of their martyrs, to heal their wounds, to visit the wounded, to assert the fate of the missing people, to put out the fires, to clear the debris, to find a way to relocate the displaced, etc. After that, we can reopen the accounts (and rekindle the rivalries), no problem.

But unfortunately what happened in Lebanon with this incident is that from the first hours of this tragedy and this cataclysm, and even from the first hour, not the first hours, when no one yet knew what was going on or had happened [our adversaries flooded the media with lies accusing Hezbollah of the explosion]. […] Even before anyone knew the answer to these questions, the Lebanese and Arab media, and certain political forces expressed through their official social networks, and even through some public statements by officials… These are not from obscure people running (Twitter or Facebook) accounts, but statements on television and in the media, made as soon as the explosion was known to the public, and while the fires in the port were not yet extinguished, and the destruction and amazement was the lot of all the Lebanese and the whole world. But these people spoke out in the media and announced their position before they knew anything. Their position was decided in advance: the cause of the explosion in hangar number so-and-so at the port of Beirut was a Hezbollah missile warehouse that exploded and caused this unprecedented terror and cataclysm. Or, they said it was stockpiles of Hezbollah ammunition, explosives, or weapons. The bottom line is that it must have belonged to Hezbollah, whether it was missiles, ammunition, explosives. […] Even before an investigation was launched, before anyone knew what happened, some media, some Lebanese and Arab TV channels, since the incident began and until now —they haven’t changed their tune— asserted that the hangar belonged to Hezbollah, that what exploded was Hezbollah missiles, Hezbollah explosives, Hezbollah nitrate, Hezbollah, Hezbollah, Hezbollah, Hezbollah… We heard nothing else from them, because there is no other (hypothesis) for them. It is a great crime committed against us. And their method has been to lie, lie, lie and lie and lie again, until people believe it. […]

I have seen yesterday and today that the majority of international media and journalists have abandoned the hypothesis (of a stockpile of Hezbollah weapons), except for a few voices in Lebanon and the Arab world. Thus, those who launched (this slander) are now all alone (to support it), because all the media and all the voices in the world are anxious to keep a minimum of credibility, even if they are our enemies engaged in a political war against us; but when it turns out that the accusation is clearly a lie as shiny as the sun at its zenith, they (have enough good sense to) back off and conjure up other possibilities.

Either way, investigations are ongoing, and the truths will emerge quickly, as this is not a question that will take time. I believe that the criminal, security, military and technical investigation will be able to quickly establish (with certainty) what was in the hangar, what was the nature of the explosives and how it was triggered, because at the technical level, this does not require much time, and the truths can be expected to come to light quickly.

When the truths come to light, I hope that the Lebanese public opinion, in all regions of Lebanon, because in our country there is a problem in terms of punishments and responsibilities, and in the name of freedom of opinion and expression, some (media and politicians) accuse, insult, abuse, oppress and lead the country to the brink of civil war, and (despite all this), ultimately, the Criminal Court imposes them a (mere) fine of 10 to 50 million Lebanese pounds (6,000 to 35,000 dollars), and it stops there. What I want to ask the Lebanese people is that they should themselves judge these media (and politicians) and condemn them. In what way? By ceasing to give them the least credit, the least importance, and by ceasing to consult them or to look at them. Because when we know that such media has no credibility, and that it is based on lies, manipulation and falsification, and that it participates in the battle that targets our country (to destroy it), then we must condemn them and turn our backs on them for good. And it is in my opinion the most important punishment (that can befall) these false and falsifying television stations which push to the civil war. This should not be taken lightly! This is not a (simple) political accusation. When somebody comes and tells hundreds of thousands of people that it is Hezbollah who is responsible for this carnage, all these deaths and injuries, all this destruction and all this displacement, what is it (if not pushing the country towards civil war)?

On the other hand, still concerning the political scene, on the other hand we saw the political instrumentalisation of the incident, and all those who had a problem with so and so reopened this problem (in this tragic context), whether it is the Lebanese National Pact, the government or other political forces, and of course those who have a problem with us. Today, I do not want to open an argument with anyone, and we are putting off (the settling of accounts) for later because we remain attached to avoid settling political or personal disputes, out of ethical, humanitarian and national considerations. This is the time for solidarity, compassion, mutual aid, to heal wounds, to clear debris, to determine the fate of the missing, to treat the wounded, to help people return home, which is a vital priority. The country needs this kind of attitude and calm for several days in order to overcome the crisis. Then we can talk politics and settle accounts. Our position will be firm. And as for certain analyzes which compare the current situation with previous experiences (assassination of Hariri in 2005, etc.) or build hopes (on capitalizing on this tragedy for political gains) like so many of their past illusions, (remember that) for a long time, some people (Hezbollah adversaries) chased after mirages, only to realize that they were all mirages, but I will talk about that later. At this point, I don’t want to get into these considerations, and I don’t want to attack anyone. I’ll put it off until later. The priority is compassion, cooperation and mutual aid, to overcome these days of pain, suffering and humanitarian crisis. Let’s put all the differences aside and get back to political (disputes) later.

My last point, which is most important, is investigation and retribution. A huge, terrible and dangerous event has happened. First, there must be an investigation. His Excellency the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister declared from the outset that there will be an impartial, resolute, firm, definitive and strong investigation, and that whoever will be identified as having a responsibility in this incident, by his actions or by negligence, corruption or insufficiency, will be held to account, whoever he is, big or small. Very well. It’s a good start. The Lebanese are now asking for action and effort (in this direction). I consider that faced with the shock of the event, there is national, popular and governmental unanimity, of all political parties and all deputies, etc., demanding that an exhaustive, frank, transparent, precise, fair and impartial investigation be carried out on this event, and that whoever bears any share of responsibility be judged and condemned in the most severe and exemplary manner —a fair punishment, of course (not a lynching). We are also among the voices that demand this loud and clear. We must not allow anyone to be covered or protected during the investigation, and truths to be withheld about anyone. It is not tolerable that the investigation and then the trial should be done in the “Lebanese fashion”, that is to say in this well-known way where one takes into account religious and sectarian calculations and balances. Anyone who was inadequate or negligent, instigated (this event) or engaged in corruption, has no religion or sect, as is the case with collaborators (of the Israeli enemy). They should be judged on the basis of what they have done, not on the basis of their sectarian, religious or political affiliation. Neither the investigation nor the trial should be conducted on a sectarian basis (requiring a precise ratio of Sunnis, Shiites or Christians). Whoever is in charge, whether they belong to several sects or are all from the same sect, whatever their political affiliation and group, whatever their family clan, truth and justice must prevail and determine the position, the investigation and the punishment. […]

In this regard, I would also like to add something very important. Just as the event is exceptional, today the attitude of the Lebanese State towards this event will be in our eyes decisive and fateful. This will determine the future of Lebanon. In what way? Today it is not about the President of the Republic, the National Pact or the government (which can come and go at the whim of elections and crises). It is about (the safeguard of) the Lebanese State, (which will depend) on the way in which the authorities will behave in this regard, be it the judicial body, the army, the security services, and even the Chamber of Deputies. It is about (the sustainability) of the (Lebanese) State and its institutions. Everyone has some responsibility for the trial and the punishment. The way to act in the face of such a catastrophe, which has affected all sects, all neighborhoods and all regions, and must in no way be tinged with sectarianism, religion or politicization, a national and humanitarian tragedy par excellence, the way State institutions will behave about it, as well as political leaders and the various political forces in the country, will have a fateful consequence for the whole country. What will this fateful consequence be? How this tragedy is dealt with will determine in the eyes of the Lebanese people —and in my eyes the verdict will be irrevocable— whether there is a (genuine) State in Lebanon or not. The second question (which will find an irrevocable answer) is about the hope of building a State (in Lebanon). Because I tell you quite frankly: if the Lebanese State and the Lebanese political forces —whether in power or in the opposition—, in such a case and such a cause, do not achieve a result in the investigation, and fail to punish (all those responsible), it means that the Lebanese people, political forces, State institutions (are bankrupt), and that there is no hope to build an (authentic) State. I don’t want anybody to despair, but I accurately describe the reality.

But we must (all) work so that this despair does not happen, in order to confirm, create and sow hope (to see a real State) among the Lebanese. Today, all the calls to fight against corruption that may have denounced a biased judge, a cowardly judge, a force that buried court files for such or such consideration, (are eclipsed by the magnitude of this case). We have to see a heavy punishment, because even if the investigation reveals that it was an intentional act or an aerial bombardment, the fact that this nitrate was stored in this way for 6 or 7 years clearly implies that there was a (criminal) negligence, inadequacy and corruption on the part of judges. This is where the war on corruption must (be a priority)! If in this case all those who call for a war on corruption, and we are part of it, if we are unable to do anything (to identify and punish all the culprits), it means that we are unable to do anything (forever). Game over. We will frankly declare to the Lebanese people that it is impossible to fight corruption, to fight neglect and insufficiency, and we will say, “O Lebanese people, you have no State and there is no hope of building an (authentic) State, so it’s up to you to see what you can do with yourselves”. To me, such is the magnitude of the question. So that people do not say later that it was a tragedy (without culprits) and forget about the matter, we make it clear that as far as we are concerned, it is impossible to forget this disaster, to move on and to allow let it be neglected. The whole truth must be revealed about this tragedy, and those responsible must be tried without any protection, whether political, sectarian or partisan. If that doesn’t happen, yes, I will consider that there is a crisis of the regime, a crisis of the State, maybe even a crisis of the (Lebanese) entity, some will be entitled to go this far. And some people try to ignore it, one way or another.

Therefore, I call on State officials, at all levels and in all authorities, to show the utmost seriousness and determination, whether to complete the investigation or to judge and blame, and chastise all those responsible for this tragedy. This is required so that the leaders and the political forces can give hope to the Lebanese people that there are authorities, a State and institutions, or at least that there is hope that a State be erected on the basis of truth, justice, transparency and the protection of the Lebanese, because sometimes the consequences of corruption, negligence and incompetence accumulate and become apparent after several years, and can be destructive, like what happened in this terrible event where in seconds, in a matter of seconds, tens of people were killed or missing, thousands were injured, hundreds of thousands of families were affected and had to leave their homes… And some people say that God prevented an even greater tragedy, and that if this hangar had not been so close to the sea, and without such and such peculiarities of the site, if this same amount of nitrate had exploded in a different geographic configuration, perhaps the whole city (of Beirut) would have been destroyed. All this in an instant, in a matter of seconds, because of corruption, neglect and incompetence, and no one should say it is simply because of the intricacies of the bureaucracy. Never. We are talking about stocks that could completely destroy the capital and certain suburbs (in an instant). The blame cannot be blamed on the intricacies of bureaucracy. […]

I declare to all those who, from the first moment, launched a campaign against us, against the Resistance and against the Axis of Resistance, trying to take advantage of this tragedy, you will get nowhere, and I tell you that frankly and sincerely. I also declare to the masses (who support) the Resistance, and some of whom are perhaps worried, scared, wonder what is the (underlying) atmosphere, if this is a big regional or international plot , (I reassure them by reminding them) that the regional situation is very different (from what it was before), as is the international situation (much more favorable to us than ever). We are very different from what we were, and so is the (Axis of) the Resistance (we are stronger than ever), so there is really nothing to worry about (for us). These people (our adversaries) run after mirages, as they have always run after mirages. All of their choices have always been doomed to failure and defeat.

And I say this to our adversaries: just as you have been disappointed and defeated (in all your past undertakings: Special Tribunal for Lebanon, 2006 war, war in Syria, etc.), you will once again be disappointed and defeated. You will not achieve anything. This Resistance, by its credibility, its sincerity, by the confidence of the Lebanese people in it, by its (victorious) battles, by its positions, by its attitude and its behavior, and by its strength, its place in the country and in the region, is too large, too strong and too noble for it to be tainted by (the slanders) of certain oppressors, liars and falsifiers of the truth, who (constantly) incite sectarian rivalry, and who encourage civil war. They have always worked at this and have always failed, and they will fail again. […]

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“Any amount counts, because a little money here and there, it’s like drops of water that can become rivers, seas or oceans…” Hassan Nasrallah

How Western Media Fabricate The “China Experts”

How Western Media Fabricate The “China Experts”

August 06, 2020

by Thorsten J. Pattberg for The Saker Blog

NEW YORK – A media professional from China asks: “Why do the Western media always promote the same ‘China experts’ who preach China doom, over and over again?” The answer is quite simple: The game of ‘expert testimonials’ is rigged.

‘Expert testimonials’ is not a level playing field. Never was. It is no coincidence that you will always see the same China experts and the same Chinese dissidents paraded in the news. Our key media are collusive. It means they act in concert.

If they act in concert, they project power. Here’s a definition of power by Hannah Arendt: “Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together.”[i]

Yes, our media are corrupt beyond hope. And society is largely to blame: We often feel intimidated by the manipulative press, and powerless. We condemn cronyism, misconduct, and cheating in business, politics, and sports. But exposing the rampant corruption in the media and education? That remains a taboo.

Nobody knows exactly why they get away with it. Of course, they won’t report their own corruption. Also, journalism is inherently feminine (not the gender, the characteristics!); so manipulative journalism is always defensible, is always right, is always the victim.

Expert testimonials in journalism are witnesses that support the argument or mouth-piece what the journalist wants to say. For example, the New York Times will not directly call for violent riots in Hong Kong; instead it will offer expert testimonials that violence is indeed justified.[ii]

The expert testimonials in journalism are not the same as the ‘expert testimony’ used in the legal system. The press is illegitimate; it is not a governmental institution; it is not under oath, and it is absolutely not required to be neutral.

Most persuasive pieces of journalism have at least two testimonials. There are three kinds of testimonials. The first and most vital one is the ‘expert testimonial’. Without quoting a real expert, the journalist, who is by definition a non-expert on anything except journalism, is simply not credible. The second kind of testimonial is ‘plain folks’. That’s the taxi driver, the man from the corner shop, ordinary people. This creates sympathy. The third kind of testimonial is what this author calls a ‘negative-positive’. It means that someone with an opposing view, negative, is quoted, but in such an manipulative way, that it actually helps the journalist, hence the “positive.”

Plain folks are almost always made-up. Negative-positives are a manner of writing. But the expert testimonials shouldn’t be fake. That “expert” should ideally be consulted by the journalist.

Here’s an example (you may want to skip this exercise, if in hurry, and continue in the main text below) of three testimonials in one article. See, if you can guess which kind of testimonials they are. It’s from a British Guardian propaganda piece,[iii] by a certain Adam Gabbatt. The Guardian rushes to the defense of Chris Buckley from the New York Times, who’s a notorious propagandist. Since this is the global Western anti-China coalition, if one of their press soldiers gets into trouble in China, the others will naturally close ranks:

A: “I regret that Chris Buckley has been forced to relocate outside of China despite our repeated requests to renew his journalist visa,” Abramson said. [Ms. Abraham, a Harvard graduate, is the chief executive editor of the New York Times.]

B: Lawyers for Wen Jiabao’s family denied reports of their riches as untrue in October. “Some of Wen Jiabao’s family members have not engaged in business activities. Some were engaged in business activities, but they did not carry out any illegal business activity. They do not hold shares of any companies,” the statement said.

C: Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the piece “smears China’s name and has ulterior motives”, later insisting that the China’s critics were attempting to destabilize the country and were “doomed to failure”.

As a general rule, for every New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Guardian, The Diplomat, or Forbes piece (etc.) there should be at least one expert testimonial in it! [Other testimonials are optional.] That said, you can image that there must be, in theory, a huge market for expert testimonials out there. Right?

Now, think: Does it not make perfect strategic sense, since tens of thousands of China articles must be mass-produced every year in the West, for the Western media to have a ‘ready-made’ stall of loyal experts to ask for phony testimonials any time they want? Better still, how about jointly fabricating EXACTLY the experts (and dissidents) we later want to see at the top!

So they fabricate experts. It’s not illegal, see. And not just any experts: Their buddies and friends and mutual benefactors. Those are the David Shambaugh, Ezra Vogel, Minxin Pei, Orville Schell (now out of favor, it seems), and Roderick Macfarquhar, to name a few.

Now, of those five experts mentioned, all of them are associated with Harvard University, and all were prominently featured in the New York Times. So, understandably, many readers get very upset every time they spot such obscene, shameless favoritism. For example when Harvard man and New York Times journalist Michael Forsythe prominently features a fellow Harvard man, Minxin Pei.[iv] Or when Evan Osnos, a Harvard man from The New Yorker, prominently features all of them Harvard experts in his book. So that he can get “conversations”[v] with them. And his buddies promote his book in The New York Times.[vi] Or the Guardian.[vii] Or Mr. Forsythe’s spouse, also Harvard, also New York Times, miraculously gets to promote her own book in the New York Times.[viii] Yes, the New York Times people are not stupid: they try to disguise cronyism. So NY Times Kirsten Didi Tatlow gets to write about NY Times Mr. Forsythe’s wife’s book.[ix] And NY Times Christ Buckley gets to interview David Shambaugh, alright.[x] NY Times Javier C. Hernandez, also Harvard, gets the Ezra Vogel interview.[xi] And NY Times Austin Ramzy interviews Evan Osnos, right![xii]

Journalists are un-elected. They enjoy relative low status in society in exchange for the privilege of fools. Some hang around with politicians and pose as ‘political analysts’. Others pose as ‘intellectuals’ by collaborating, say, with enough “Harvard” scholars: The journalists get artificial respectability, the scholars gets gratuitous media coverage. For them, it’s a win-win situation. The big loser, of course, is the global audiences to whom – not even talking about US colonialism – the vanity and the arrogance of these few privileged men is sold as “correct” information and news about China.

Remember when back in the old days the media set out to expose the corruption of the elites? Well, they didn’t. They joined the corrupt elites.

It gets worse. Think about this: Why would the New York Times EVER change the status quo? They have absolutely no incentives to do so. They would be stupid to reform. In fact, upon reading this, they will probably even tighten the status quo. Out of pure spite.

This all reminds your author of the following story from the Mahabharata: There’s this great guru, Drona, who promised prince Arjuna to make him “the greatest archer in the world.” Then one day they go into the forest and meet Eklavya, who trained all by himself under the idol of Drona. Eklavya is clearly the better archer! But Drona cannot tolerate this, because it would completely ruin the royal narrative. So they politely ask Eklavya to cut off the thumb of his right hand. Which he reluctantly does. To preserve the status quo. Uninterruptedly, Drona now goes on to fulfill his promise and make Arjuna “the greatest archer in the world.”

This is exactly how it is: The New York Times & Co act in concert and are systematically empowering their own buddies and protégées from Harvard as “the greatest China experts in the world.” And to the rest of the world, especially to the 1.3 million Chinese: cut your talented limbs off, will you!

The author is a German cultural critic and frequent commentator on Sino-Western affairs.  He describes himself as “Thorsten J. Pattberg, Asia specialist, PhD comparative literature and linguistics, unbeknownst writer, polyglot, monster, idiot”.

[i] Hannah Arendt, On Violence (1970), Harcourt Brace & Company, New York

[ii] http://www.east-west-dichotomy.com/why-the-ny-times-promotes-violence-in-hong-kong/
[iii] The Guardian, China forces New York Times reporter Chris Buckley to leave country, Dec 31, 2012, London
[iv] The New York Times, Q. and A.: Minxin Pei on the Future of Communist Rule in China, Feb. 29, 2016, New York
[v] http://www.livestream.com/roosevelthouse/evan-osnos-chasing-fortune
[vi] The New York Times, Q & A: Evan Osnos on the ‘Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China’, May 13, 2014, New York
[vii] The Guardian, Age of Ambition; The New Emperors reviews – two studies on modern China, July 6, 2014, London
[viii] The New York Times, China’s ‘Leftover’ Women, Oct. 11, 2012, New York
[ix] The New York Times, Rejecting the ‘Leftover Women’ label, April 24, 2013, New York
[x] The New York Times, Q. and A.: David Shambaugh on the Risks to Chinese Communist Rule, March 15, 2015, New York
[xi] The New York Times, Q. and A.: Ezra F. Vogel on China’s Shifting Relations With Japan and Taiwan, Nov 12, 2015, New York
[xii] The New York Times, Q & A: Evan Osnos on the ‘Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China’, May 13, 2014, New York

Russia and the next Presidential election in the USA

Source

Intro: not a pretty picture

Let’s begin with a disclaimer: in this article, I will assume that there will be a US Presidential election in the Fall. Right now, it appears to be likely that this election will take place (there appear to be no legal way to cancel or delay it), but this is by no means certain (see here for a machine translated and very interesting article by one Russian analyst, who predicts a diarchy after the election). Right now, the state of the US society is both extremely worried (and for good reason) and potentially explosive. It is impossible to predict what a well-executed false flag attack could do to the US. There is also the possibility of either a natural disaster (hurricane, earthquake, etc.) or even an unnatural one (considering the condition of the US infrastructure, this is almost inevitable) which could precipitate some kind of state of emergency or martial law to “protect” the people. Finally, though at this point in time I don’t see this as very likely, there is always the possibility of a coup of some kind, maybe a “government of national unity” with the participation of both parties which, as Noam Chomsky correctly points out, are basically only two factions of what could be called the Business Party. There might come a point when they decide to drop this pretense too (just look at how many other pretenses the US ruling elites have dropped in the last decade or so).

Alexander Solzhenitsyn used to explain that all governments can be placed on a continuum ranging from, on one end, “states whose power is based on their authority” to, on the other end, “states whose authority is based on their power“. In the real world, most states are somewhere between these two extremes. But it is quite obvious that the US polity currently has gone very far down the “states whose authority is based on their power” path and to speak of any kind of “moral authority” of US politicians is really a joke. The (probable) upcoming “choice” between Donald “grab them by the pussy” Trump and Joe “creepy uncle” Biden will make this joke even more laughable.

Right now, the most powerful force in the US political system must be the financial sector. And, of course, there are many other powerful interest groups (MIC, Israel Lobby, the CIA and the ridiculously bloated Intel community, Big Pharma, the US Gulag, the corporate media, Oil, etc.) who all combine their efforts (just like a vector does in mathematics) to produce a “resulting vector” which we call “US policies”. That is in theory. In practice, you have several competing “policies” vying for power and influence, both on the domestic and on international front. Often these policies are mutually exclusive.

Last, but certainly not least, the level of corruption in the US is at least as bad as, say, in the Ukraine or in Liberia, but rather than being on the street and petty cash level, the corruption in the US is counted in billions of dollars.

All in all, not a pretty sight (see here for a good analysis of the decline of US power).

Yet the US remains a nuclear power and still has a lot of political influence worldwide and thus this is not a country anyone can ignore. Including Russia.

A quick look at Russia

Before looking into Russian options in relation to the US, we need to take a quick look at how Russia has been faring this year. The short of it would be: not too well. The Russian economy has shrunk by about 10% and the small businesses have been devastated by the combined effects of 1) the economic policies of the Russian government and Central Bank, and 2) the devastating economic impact of the COVID19 pandemic, and 3) the full-spectrum efforts of the West, mostly by the Anglosphere, to strangle Russia economically. Politically, the “Putin regime” is still popular, but there is a sense that it is getting stale and that most Russians would prefer to see more dynamic and proactive policies aimed, not only to help the Russian mega-corporations, but also to help the regular people. Many Russians definitely have a sense that the “little guy” is being completely ignored by fat cats in power and this resentment will probably grow until and unless Putin decides to finally get rid of all the Atlantic Integrationists aka the “Washington consensus” types which are still well represented in the Russian ruling circles, including the government. So far, Putin has remained faithful to his policy of compromises and small steps, but this might change in the future as the level of frustration in the general population is likely to only grow with time.

That is not to say that the Kremlin is not trying. Several of the recent constitutional amendments adopted in a national vote had a strongly expressed “social” and “patriotic” character and they absolutely horrified the “liberal” 5th columnists who tried their best two 1) call for a boycott, and 2) denounce thousands of (almost entirely) imaginary violations of the proper voting procedures, and to 3) de-legitimize the outcome by declaring the election a “fraud”. None of that worked: the participation was high, very few actual violations were established (and those that were, had no impact on the outcome anyway) and most Russians accepted that this outcome was the result of the will of the people. Furthermore, Putin has made public the Russian strategic goals for 2030,which are heavily focused on improving the living and life conditions of average Russians (for details, see here). It is impossible to predict what will happen next, but the most likely scenario is that Russia has several, shall we say, “bumpy” years ahead, both on the domestic and on the international front.

What can Russia reasonably hope for?

This is really the key question: in the best of situations, what can Russia really hope for in the next elections? I would argue that there is really very little which Russia can hope for, if only because the russophobic hysteria started by the Democrats to defeat Trump has now apparently been completely endorsed by the Trump administration and the all the members of Congress. As for the imperial propaganda machine, it now manages to simultaneously declare that Russia tried to “steal” COVID vaccine secrets from the West AND that Russian elites were given a secret COVID vaccine this Spring. As for the US Dems, they are already announcing that the Russians are spreading “disinformation” about Biden. Talk about PRE-traumatic stress disorder (to use the phrase coined by my friend Gilad Atzmon)…

Although I have no way of knowing what is really taking place in the delusional minds of US politicians, I am strongly suspecting that the latest hysteria about “Russia stealing COV19 vaccine secrets” is probably triggered by the conclusion of the US intel community that Russia will have a vaccine ready before the US does. This is, of course, something absolutely unthinkable for US politicians who, (sort of) logically conclude that “if these Russkies got a vaccine first, they *must* have stolen it from us” or something similar (see here for a good analysis of this). And if the Chinese get there first, same response. After all, who in the US legacy media would ever even mention that Russian or Chinese researchers might be ahead of their US colleagues? Nobody, of course.

I would argue that this mantric Russia-bashing is something which will not change in the foreseeable future. For one thing, since the imperial ruling elites have clearly lost control of the situation, they really have no other option left than to blame it all on some external agent. The “terrorist threat” has lost a lot of traction over the past years, the “Muslim threat” is too politically incorrect to openly blame it all on Islam, as for the other boogeymen which US Americans like to scare themselves at night with (immigrants, drug dealers, sex offenders, “domestic terrorists”, etc.) they simply cannot be blamed for stuff like a crashing economy. But Russia, and China, can.

In fact, ever since the (self-evidently ridiculous) “Skripal case” the collective West has proven that it simply does not have the spine to say “no”, or even “maybe”, to any thesis energetically pushed forward by the AngloZionist propaganda machine. Thus no matter how self-evidently silly the imperial propaganda is, the people in the West have been conditioned (literally) to accept any nonsense as “highly likely” as long as it is proclaimed with enough gravitas by politicians and their legacy ziomedia. As for the leaders of the EU, we already know that they will endorse any idiocy coming out of Washington or London in the name of “solidarity”.

Truth be told, most Russian politicians (with the notable exception of the official Kremlin court jester, Zhirinovskii) and analysts never saw Trump as a potential ally or friend. The Kremlin was especially cautious, which leads me to believe that the Russian intelligence analysts did a very good job evaluating Trump’s psyche and they quickly figured out that he was no better than any other US politician. Right now, I know of no Russian analyst who would predict that relations between the US and Russia will improve in the foreseeable future. If anything, most are clearly saying that “guys, we better get used to this” (accusations, sanctions, accusations, sanctions, etc. etc. etc.). Furthermore, it is pretty obvious to the Russians that while Crimea and MH17 were the pretexts for western sanctions against Russia, they were not the real cause. The real cause of the West’s hatred for Russia is as simple as it is old: Russia cannot be conquered, subdued, subverted or destroyed. They’ve been at it for close to 1,000 years and they still are at it. In fact, each time they fail to crush Russia, their russophobia increases to even higher levels (phobia both in the sense of “fear” and in the sense of “hatred”).

Simply put – there is nothing which Russia can expect from the upcoming election. Nothing at all. Still, that does not mean that things are not better than 4 or 8 years ago. Let’s look at what changed.

The big difference between now and then

What did Trump’s election give to the world?

I would say four years for Russia to fully prepare for what might be coming next.

I would argue that since at least Russia and the AngloZionist Empire have been at war since at least 2013, when Russia foiled the US plan to attack Syria under the pretext that it was “highly likely” that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against civilians (in reality, a textbook case of a false flag organized by the Brits), This means that Russia and the Empire have been at war since at least 2013, for no less than seven years (something which Russian 6th columnists and Neo-Marxists try very hard to ignore).

True, at least until now, this was has been 80% informational, 15% economic and only 5% kinetic, but this is a real existential war of survival for both sides: only one side will walk away from this struggle. The other one will simply disappear (not as a nation or a people, but as a polity; a regime). The Kremlin fully understood that and it embarked on a huge reform and modernization of the Russian armed forces in three distinct ways:

  1. A “general” reform of the Russian armed forces which had to be modernized by about 80%. This part of the reform is now practically complete.
  2. A specific reform to prepare the western and southern military districts for a major conventional war against the united West (as always in Russian history) which would involve the First Guards Tank Army and the Russian Airborne Forces.
  3. The development of bleeding-edge weapons systems with no equivalent in the West and which cannot be countered or defeated; these weapons have had an especially dramatic impact upon First Strike Stability and upon naval operations.

While some US politicians understood what was going on (I think of Ron Paul, see here), most did not. They were so brainwashed by the US propaganda that they were sure that no matter what, “USA! USA! USA!”. Alas for them, the reality was quite different.

Russian officials, by the way, have confirmed that Russia was preparing for war. Heck, the reforms were so profound and far reaching, that it would have been impossible for the Russians to hide what they were doing (see here for details; also please see Andrei Martyanov’s excellent primer on the new Russian Navy here).

While no country is ever truly prepared for war, I would argue that by 2020 the Russians had reached their goals and that now Russia is fully prepared to handle any conflict the West might throw at her, ranging from a small border incident somewhere in Central Asia to a full-scaled war against the US/NATO in Europe.

Folks in the West are now slowly waking up to this new reality (I mentioned some of that here), but it is too late. In purely military terms, Russia has now created such a qualitative gap with the West that the still existing quantitative gap is not sufficient to guarantee a US/NATO victory. Now some western politicians are starting to seriously freak out (see this lady, for example), but most Europeans are coming to terms with two truly horrible realities:

  1. Russia is much stronger than Europe and, even much worse,
  2. Russia will never attack first (which is a major cause of frustration for western russophobes)

As for the obvious solution to this problem, having friendly relations with Russia is simply unthinkable for those who made their entire careers peddling the Soviet (and now Russian) threat to the world.

But Russia is changing, albeit maybe too slowly (at least for my taste). As I mentioned last week, a number of Polish, Ukrainian and Baltic politicians have declared that the Zapad2020 military maneuvers which are supposed to take place in southern Russia and the Caucasus could be used to prepare an attack on the West (see here for a rather typical example of this nonsense). In the past, the Kremlin would only have made a public statement ridiculing this nonsense, but this time around Putin did something different. Right after he saw the reaction of these politicians, Putin ordered a major and UNSCHEDULED military readiness exercise which involved no less than 150,000 troops, 400 aircraft & 100 ships! The message here was clear:

  1. Yes, we are much more powerful than you are and
  2. No, we are not apologizing for our strength anymore

And, just to make sure that the message is clear, the Russians also tested the readiness of the Russian Airborne Forces units near the city of Riazan, see for yourself:

This response is, I think, the correct one. Frankly, nobody in the West is listening to what the Kremlin has to say, so what is the point of making more statements which in the future will be ignored equally as they have been in the past.

If anything, the slow realization that Russia is more powerful than NATO would be most helpful in gently prodding EU politicians to change their tune and return back to reality. Check out this recent video of Sarah Wagenknecht, a leading politician of the German Left and see for yourself:

The example of Sahra Wagenknecht is interesting, because she is from Germany, one of the countries of northern Europe; traditionally, northern European powers have been much more anti-Russian than southern Europeans, so it is encouraging to see that the anti-Putin and anti-Russia hysteria is not always being endorsed by everybody.

But if things are very slowly getting better in the EU, in the bad old US of A things are only getting worse. Even the Republicans are now fully on board the Russia-hating float (right behind a “gay pride” one I suppose) and they are now contributing their own insanity to the cause, as this article entitled “Congressional Republicans: Russia should be designated state sponsor of terror” shows (designating Russia as a terrorist state is an old idea of the Dems, by the way).

Russian options for the Fall

In truth, Russia does not have any particularly good options towards the US. Both parties are now fully united in their rabid hatred of Russia (and China too, of course). Furthermore, while there are many well-funded and virulently anti-Russian organizations in the US (Neo-cons, Papists, Poles, Masons, Ukrainians, Balts, Ashkenazi Jews, etc.), Russian organizations in the US like this one, have very little influence or even relevance.

Banderites marching in the US

Banderites marching in the US

However, as the chaos continues to worsen inside the US and as US politicians continue to alienate pretty much the entire planet, Russia does have a perfect opportunity to weaken the US grip on Europe. The beauty in the current dynamic is that Russia does not have to do anything at all (nevermind anything covert or illegal) to help the anti-EU and anti-US forces in Europe: All she needs to do is to continuously hammer in the following simple message: “the US is sinking – do you really want to go down with it?”.

There are many opportunities to deliver that message. The current US/Polish efforts to prevent the EU from enjoying cheap Russian gas might well be the best example of what we could call “European suicide politics”, but there are many, many more.

Truth be told, neither the US nor the EU are a top priority for Russia, at least not in economic terms. The moral credibility of the West in general can certainly be described as dead and long gone. As for the West military might, it is only a concern to the degree that western politicians might be tempted to believe their own propaganda about their military forces being the best in the history of the galaxy. This is why Russia regularly engages in large surprise exercises: to prove to the West that the Russian military is fully ready for anything the West might try. As for the constant move of more and more US/NATO forces closer to the borders of Russia, they are offensive in political terms, but in military terms, getting closer to Russia only means that Russia will have more options to destroy you. “Forward deployment” is really a thing of the past, at least against Russia.

With time, however, and as the US federal center loses even more of its control of the country, the Kremlin might be well-advised to try to open some venues for “popular diplomacy”, especially with less hostile US states. The weakening of the Executive Branch has already resulted in US governors playing an increasingly important international role and while this is not, strictly speaking, legal (only the federal government has the right to engage in foreign policy), the fact is that this has been going on for years already.

The example of Sahra Wagenknecht is interesting, because she is from Germany, one of the countries of northern Europe; traditionally, northern European powers have been much more anti-Russian than southern Europeans, so it is encouraging to see that the anti-Putin and anti-Russia hysteria is not always being endorsed by everybody.

But if things are very slowly getting better in the EU, in the bad old US of A things are only getting worse. Even the Republicans are now fully on board the Russia-hating float (right behind a “gay pride” one I suppose) and they are now contributing their own insanity to the cause, as this article entitled “Congressional Republicans: Russia should be designated state sponsor of terror” shows (designating Russia as a terrorist state is an old idea of the Dems, by the way).

Russian options for the Fall

In truth, Russia does not have any particularly good options towards the US. Both parties are now fully united in their rabid hatred of Russia (and China too, of course). Furthermore, while there are many well-funded and virulently anti-Russian organizations in the US (Neo-cons, Papists, Poles, Masons, Ukrainians, Balts, Ashkenazi Jews, etc.), Russian organizations in the US like this one, have very little influence or even relevance.

Banderites marching in the US

Banderites marching in the US

However, as the chaos continues to worsen inside the US and as US politicians continue to alienate pretty much the entire planet, Russia does have a perfect opportunity to weaken the US grip on Europe. The beauty in the current dynamic is that Russia does not have to do anything at all (nevermind anything covert or illegal) to help the anti-EU and anti-US forces in Europe: All she needs to do is to continuously hammer in the following simple message: “the US is sinking – do you really want to go down with it?”.

There are many opportunities to deliver that message. The current US/Polish efforts to prevent the EU from enjoying cheap Russian gas might well be the best example of what we could call “European suicide politics”, but there are many, many more.

Truth be told, neither the US nor the EU are a top priority for Russia, at least not in economic terms. The moral credibility of the West in general can certainly be described as dead and long gone. As for the West military might, it is only a concern to the degree that western politicians might be tempted to believe their own propaganda about their military forces being the best in the history of the galaxy. This is why Russia regularly engages in large surprise exercises: to prove to the West that the Russian military is fully ready for anything the West might try. As for the constant move of more and more US/NATO forces closer to the borders of Russia, they are offensive in political terms, but in military terms, getting closer to Russia only means that Russia will have more options to destroy you. “Forward deployment” is really a thing of the past, at least against Russia.

With time, however, and as the US federal center loses even more of its control of the country, the Kremlin might be well-advised to try to open some venues for “popular diplomacy”, especially with less hostile US states. The weakening of the Executive Branch has already resulted in US governors playing an increasingly important international role and while this is not, strictly speaking, legal (only the federal government has the right to engage in foreign policy), the fact is that this has been going on for years already. Another possible partner inside the US for Russian firms would be US corporations (especially now that they are hurting badly). Finally, I think that the Kremlin ought to try to open channels of communication with the various small political forces in the US which are clearly not buying into the official propaganda: libertarians, (true) liberals and progressives, paleo-conservatives.

What we are witnessing before our eyes is the collapse of the US federal center. This is a dangerous and highly unstable moment in our history. But from this crisis opportunities will arise. The best thing Russia can do now is to simply remain very careful and vigilant and wait for new forces to appear on the US political scene.

Another possible partner inside the US for Russian firms would be US corporations (especially now that they are hurting badly). Finally, I think that the Kremlin ought to try to open channels of communication with the various small political forces in the US which are clearly not buying into the official propaganda: libertarians, (true) liberals and progressives, paleo-conservatives.

What we are witnessing before our eyes is the collapse of the US federal center. This is a dangerous and highly unstable moment in our history. But from this crisis opportunities will arise. The best thing Russia can do now is to simply remain very careful and vigilant and wait for new forces to appear on the US political scene.

‘Israel’ Stumble over Coronavirus: Looking More like Sayyed Nasrallah’s Spider Web

‘Israel’ Stumble over Coronavirus: Looking More like Sayyed Nasrallah’s Spider Web

By Staff, Agencies

Months after the ‘Israeli’ entity became in trouble dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic, former head of the ‘Israeli’ Military’s Operations Directorate, Maj.-Gen ‘Israel’ Ziv [ret.] told Kan Bet on Monday that ‘Israel’ looks confused, as if it is not being managed, looking like Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s “spider web.”

This was a reference to Sayyed Nasrallah’s famous speech celebrating the Islamic Resistance’s victory and forcing ‘Israel’ to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000 when he stressed that with all its might and weaponry, ‘Israel’ is as feeble as a spider web.

The former military official’s comments were made amid angry protests engulfing the Zionist entity over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s weak handling of the Coronavirus crisis, as well as cases of corruption he is tried for.

Confessing the joy the ‘Israeli’ enemy felt when watching what was happening in the Arab world during the ‘Arab Spring’, Ziv said “we felt a degree of satisfaction – look, they are unstable; look, they are failing.”

As for now, he lamented: “How do we now look in the eyes of the Arabs? We have a managerial crisis, a mess on the street – they are certainly hoping that it will go from demonstrations to anarchy – there is no budget…”

And the government can’t even make a decision to give the ‘War’ Ministry, which is supposed to always keep its eyes above water, [budgetary] exemptions. And if I’m Iran, I’m thinking this is an extraordinary opportunity, the former military official went on to regret.

‘Israel’s’ enemies, Ziv said, are closely watching what is happening here, and the conclusions they draw could have long-lasting ramifications. We must recover, he stressed, “take matters into our hands, change the framework for dealing with the crisis, and show the strong ‘Israel’.”

Ziv considered that the ‘Israeli’ entity’s foes are carefully watching to see, and perhaps exploit, its weaknesses that are on full display.

In the early days of the virus, Netanyahu boasted often that countries around the world were looking to learn from ‘Israel’ about how to deal with the virus.

But what will happen to this leverage if these countries look at how ‘Israel’ is dealing with the pandemic now, and conclude that it is doing no better – and perhaps even worse – than they themselves are?, Ziv wondered.

Netanyahu Lashes Out against Law Enforcement Before Entering Court

Source

May 24, 2020

Netanyahu

Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust has begun Sunday at the Jerusalem District Court. It is the first time in the country’s history that a sitting prime minister is facing a criminal trial.

The indictments have been read for the three separate cases the enemy’s prime minister has been charged in.

Israel Police reinforced their presence in advance of Sunday’s session, partly in anticipation of protests in front of the courthouse. Two main protests are planned: a motorcade to Jerusalem by the pro-democracy Black Flag group, whose members will then demonstrate in front of the courthouse alongside a group of pro-Netanyahu demonstrators.

The judges will announce the next steps in the trial in the coming days.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is innocent until proven guilty, just like every citizen, adding that he is “sure that the justice system will hold a just trial for him. I reiterate that my colleagues and I have complete confidence in the justice system and law enforcement. At this time, perhaps more than ever, we must act as a state and society for unity and reconciliation, for the State of Israel and for all Israeli citizens.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told the panel of judges he has read and understands the three indictments against him.

Speaking to the press before entering the Jerusalem District Court,  Netanyahu told reporters the investigations against him “were tainted from day one,” and called the three indictments against him “ludicrous.” Netanyahu called to allow a live broadcast of his his entire trial.

Source: Israeli media

أكثر من 5 آلاف مُوقّع تونسيّ.. عريضة تسأل عن ثروة الغنوشيّ؟

البناء

تجاوزت حملة توقيعات تطالب بالتحقيق في ثروة زعيم حركة النهضة الإخوانية في تونس راشد الغنوشي، حاجز الـ5 آلاف مُوقّع، وتسعى الحملة في هدفها المقبل إلى رفع العدد إلى 7500 توقيع.

ويرتاب الناشطون في ثروة الغنوشي، لكونه لم يمارس أي نشاط مهني أو اقتصادي منذ قدومه إلى تونس قبل 9 سنوات آتياً من لندن.

وتقول العريضة إن الغنوشي أصبح من «من أغنى أغنياء تونس»، بثروة تقدر بأكثر من مليار دولار.

ودعا الموقعون على العريضة، وهم عدد من الأكاديميين والنشطاء والفنانين والمواطنين، إلى ضرورة «ﺍﻟﺘﺤﻘﻴﻖ ﺑﻜﻞ ﺟﺪﻳﺔ ﻭﺷﻔﺎﻓﻴﺔ ﻓﻲ ﺛﺮﻭﺓ ﺍﻟﻐﻨﻮﺷﻲ وﻣﺼﺎﺩﺭﻫﺎ».

كما دعوا إلى تشكيل ﻟﺠﻨﺔ ﻣﺴﺘﻘﻠﺔ للتحقيق في مصادر هذه الثروة التي تقول تقارير إنها تجاوزت المليار دولار، تتكون من الاتحاد العام التونسي للشغل ونقابة المحامين والرابطة التونسية للدفاع عن حقوق الإنسان.

وقالوا إنه «باعتبار أن السيد راشد الغنوشي هو زعيم واحد من أكبر الأحزاب تمثيلاً في البرلمان، وباعتبار أنه رئيس مجلس النواب، وباعتبار تفشي الفساد في الدولة والمجتمع، وباعتبار كثرة التمويلات الأجنبية المشبوهة التي تفد على البلاد التونسية بعنوان العمل الخيري والجمعياتي، وباعتبار تقاطع هذه التمويلات غالباً مع التنظيمات الإرهابية والأجندات السياسية المشبوهة، فإنه قد بات من الضروري أن يتم التحقيق بكل جدية وشفافية في ثروة الغنوشي وفي مصادرها».

دروس عراقيّة للبنان

ناصر قنديل

مهما تحدثنا عن حجم الحضور الأميركي في لبنان فهو أقلّ منه بالقياس للعراق، حيث ولد العراق السياسي الجديد من رحم الاحتلال الأميركي، وحيث قوات أميركية بالآلاف مقيمة في العراق. وبالتوازي مهما تحدّث الكثيرون عن نفوذ إيراني في لبنان فهو مجرد استنتاج منسوب لعلاقة مميزة تربط إيران بشريحة لبنانية واسعة لها تاريخ مشرّف في تحرير لبنان من الاحتلال، مقارنة بحضور إيراني مباشر تجسد بحضور عسكري في مرحلة المواجهة مع داعش، وجوار جغرافي إيراني للعراق يلقي بظلاله وحضوره الديمغرافي والديني والاقتصادي والأمني، منذ قرون. ومهما تحدثنا عن مواجهة أميركية إيرانية في لبنان فهي دون مستوى التوتر والاشتباك الذي مثلته مرحلة اغتيال الأميركيين لقائد فيلق القدس الإيراني في العاصمة العراقية، وقصف إيران الصاروخي لمواقع أميركية في قاعدة عين الأسد العراقية. وعندما ينجح العراقيون بتحقيق تضامن سياسي من خلال الوقوف خلف حكومة يعرف الجميع، أن ليس فيها فرص ربح سياسي ومصلحي، بل محاولة عبور بالعراق من النفق المظلم، ونفشل في لبنان بمجرد عقد لقاء حوار وطني، فالسبب ليس قطعاً الدور الأميركي ولا الحضور الإيراني، ولا الاشتباك الأميركي الإيراني.

كذلك مهما تحدثنا عن عناصر الخلاف والانقسام اللبنانية، وأعدناها لتكوين طائفي ومذهبي للقوى السياسية، ومحاصصة طائفية في النظام السياسي، ومرجعيات إقليمية ودولية لهذا الانقسام، فسيكون من السهل اكتشاف أن الحال في العراق أشدّ تشظياً في الداخل وتبعية للخارج. ففي العراق صيغة حكم بلغ حد تشريع الانقسام في الدستور عبر الفدرالية، ومكوّن رئيسي يمثله الأكراد لا تربطه اليوم بالصيغة المركزية للدولة إلا شعرة، وتجاذب مذهبي بين المكونين الإسلاميين الرئيسيين، بلغ حد مواجهات شعبية وسياسية شكلت لاحقاً بيئة مباشرة لسيطرة تنظيم داعش، تحت عنوان غبن طائفي وحقوق طائفية، وتكفي نظرة على المواقف المعلنة للقوى العراقية حول العلاقات الخارجيّة، والمجاهرة بمرجعيات الخارج، ومقارنتها بلبنان، لنعرف أن عمق الانقسام الداخلي وحجم ارتباطه بالخارج الإقليمي والدولي، لا يفسّر الفشل اللبناني حيث نجح العراقيون.

إذا انتقلنا للجانب الاقتصاديّ، فمهما تحدّثنا عن الهدر والفساد في لبنان، وعائدات المحاصصات السياسية والاقتصادية وتقاسم المنافع، فلن تفسّر لنا حال الفشل في ملاقاة الحاجة لحد أدنى من التضامن يفصل بين الوطني والسياسي، قياساً بحال العراق حيث موارد نفطية تعادل تريليون دولار جرى إهدارها، وتقاسمها، مع فقر مدقع يطال ملايين العراقيين، ومئات آلاف المهجرين بلا مأوى، وبنية تحتية لا تشبه أشد أرياف لبنان حرماناً، وفي الكهرباء والمياه حدث ولا حرج. فلولا الكهرباء المستجرّة من إيران بموافقة أميركية، لكان العراق في الظلمة، ورغم ذلك تفوق العراقيون على أنفسهم وجمدوا صراعاتهم، وانقساماتهم، ولو إلى حين، ولو بتهدئة مؤقتة، بينما نحن فشلنا.

دروس العراق تقول للبنان واللبنانيين كفى، عبر مثال الاستثناء الأميركي للعراق من العقوبات في استجرار الغاز والكهرباء من إيران، وهو ما يمكن للبنان الحصول على مثله لتشغيل أنبوب النفط الآتي من كركوك إلى طرابلس عبر سورية، وتقول الدروس إن تذرعنا بالعوامل الخارجية مبالغة رغم ثقل حضورها، وتقول إن تذرعنا بالأسباب الطائفية للانقسام هروب من المسؤولية رغم بشاعة نظامها وإفلاسه، وتقول إن وطأة الفساد وشبكة منافع المحاصصة رغم الاشمئزاز الذي يثيره مجرد الحديث عنها، لا تكفي لتفسير الإفلاس السياسي الذي نعيشه على مستوى القدرة في إدراك أننا نغرق وأن لا مكان لفرقة ناجية بيننا، ما لم نتضامن ونوحّد جهودنا لعبور العاصفة، وأننا نعلم بأن ما أمامنا من أهوال اليوم ليس إلا مجرد بداية لما هو آتٍ من ويلات.

German Government Bails Out Owners of German Corporations

German Government Bails Out Owners of German Corporations

May 06, 2020

by Eric Zeusse for the Saker Blog

Just as the corrupt U.S. Government is bailing out owners of U.S. corporations while the American public experiences a recession that is heading into a depression, the corrupt German Government likewise is bailing out investors. It’s not illegal for the Government to do that — not even when the corporation that they might bail out next is the nation’s flag-carrying airline, which already receives unfair advantages in competing against other airlines in that country.

The German Government has offered to bail out even the wealthy investors who control the already governmentally favored but privately investor-owned airline Lufthansa, but those super-rich investors demand that it be an unconditional bailout, and negotiations are continuing. On May 5th, the “Flight Global” site bannered “Lufthansa reluctant to accept state aid with conditions attached”, and reported that “Lufthansa Group is holding ‘intensive talks’ with governments in Germany, Austria and Belgium about the provision of state aid.”

The very idea that the general public, the nation’s taxpayers, should ever absorb any losses of any private stock-investors, constitutes the very essence of “socialism for the rich, and capitalism for everybody else.” That is the essential core of fascism, or as Benito Mussolini sometimes called his economic and political system, “corporationism” (control of the government by the owners of corporations), but it is antithetical to any democracy, which is ruled only by its public, not by only the richest of them, who, in any country, own almost all of the corporate stock.

Any corporation that (like Lufthansa is now doing) threatens the government with going out of business or otherwise laying off employees en-masse during what has become a general financial collapse, should instead be promptly and automatically nationalized — taken over completely, at its then-prevailing stock-value — and the stock in it subsequently become sold by the government after the crisis is over, but, at first, then, made available only to its employees (and with low-interest loans being made available to them by the government, in order to enable any and all of them to participate in owning the corporation that employs them), and only subsequently made available to the general public, as a mere investment-gamble.

The only justification for anyone’s owning corporate stock, ever, is that the stockholders agree to take on all of the financial risk that the corporation’s bondholders have not taken on. (Bondholders get paid interest before stockholders get paid dividends.) If, instead, the general public, including all of the taxpayers, are taking on this financial risk, then it is only fair that the public (as represented by the government) will also be appointing, during the economic crisis, all of the corporation’s directors: the corporation will be promptly nationalized. After the economic emergency is over, the corporation will then be re-privatized, first to its employees, and then to the public. No corporation ever should be bailed-out by the government, on any other terms than to nationalize it, on this temporary basis. Either a corporation’s stockholders will fulfill the function that stockholders are supposed to fulfill (as being a sump for the corporation’s financial losses), or else their corporation will be promptly but temporarily nationalized, on this basis. Then, the stockholders will get paid fair market value for their stock, which is far more than they will receive if the corporation simply goes bankrupt — declares itself unable to fulfill its contractual obligations to its bondholders.

That is the way things would function in any democracy.

On April 9th, the Zero Hedge financial site explained in detail why even bailing out the airlines would hurt the economy more than help the economy. It quoted an extraordinarily honest investor, Chalmath Palihaptiya,

“This is a lie that’s been propagated by Wall Street. When a company fails, it does not fire its employees…it goes through a packaged bankruptcy…if anything, what happens is the employees end up owning more of the company. The people who get wiped out are the people who own the unsecured debt and the equity…but the employees don’t get wiped out and the pensions don’t get wiped out.”

[…]

“And if a bunch of hedge funds get wiped out — what’s the big deal? Let them fail. So they don’t get the summer in the Hamptons — who cares.”

But do we have a democracy?

Bailing out the public (workers and consumers) so that they can afford to continue living — and buying, and working — is the right thing to do in an economic crash, but not bailing out investors. What do investors get their incomes from? It’s not from their work, it’s only from the investment risks that they take on, the financial risks that they have agreed to accept. If the government transfers any of those risks onto the public, then the government must nationalize the corporation, because the ONLY value that investors provide in the economy is as a sump for financial risks. That’s it, and that’s all.

Any nation which transfers any of those risks onto the public is criminal — it is taking from the poor and middle class in order to keep the rich rich. It is retroactively dictating to the public: Here is now the deal: heads the investors win, tails you the public lose. That wasn’t supposed to have been the deal. If it retroactively becomes the deal when investors overall are losing money instead of making money, then the government is simply crooked; it is just a bunch of con-artists.

Apparently, the German Government (like many others) is corrupt — it’s transferring risks off of investors and onto consumers and workers. That’s Robin Hood in reverse — exactly the type of situation that governments are supposed to outlaw, and to label as being “theft.” Is it not “theft” when the richest do it? It is transferring onto workers and consumers the ONLY value-added, the only real service, that investors are supposed to be supplying, which is their serving as a sump for risks. If any of that risk-burden is removed from investors and transferred onto the public, then all of their property should automatically become property of the state. No decent government bails out investors — ever. Only criminal ones do, such as the U.S. Government.

If a government legalizes what is authentically (one might even say “in natural law”) criminal to do — such as to take from workers and consumers and give that to investors (and this is what is now commonly but deceptively called ‘democracy’) — then the ultimate criminal has become the state itself, and a revolution is needed. That’s practically the definition of what a revolution is for. Things are that bad in the United States, but in how many other countries is it likewise the case?

Perhaps we are about to find out.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Court Rejects Israeli PM Netanyahu's Request to Delay His Corruption Trial

Sputnic

10.03.2020

The prime minister’s lawyers had asked for a delay, saying that more time was needed to study evidence.

An Israeli court has rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to delay the beginning of his corruption trial, paving the way for it to begin next week as it was planned. 

According to the presiding judge, there is no need for a delay since the first session that will take place on 17 March is a procedural reading of the charges, which means that Mr Netanyahu’s response is not required.  

The prime minister’s lawyers had requested a 45-day delay, citing the need to spend more time reviewing evidence. 

Mr Netanyahu is facing fraud, bribery and breach of trust charges following a series of scandals that focused on him allegedly accepting luxury gifts from wealthy friends and offering mutually favourable collaboration with media moguls. He denies all the charges, describing them as a media-orchestrated witch-hunt. In early January, Netanyahu requested parliamentary immunity from prosecution but later withdrew the request, saying he would not let his political rivals use the issue against him. 

Corruption charges against the prime minister were at the centre of last week’s parliamentary election.   

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