No traces of beating, internal bleeding found on Amini’s body: Report

21 Sep 2022 22:53

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen English 

The Director General of Forensic Medicine in Tehran Province says the autopsy conducted on Mahsa Amini’s body revealed no bleeding or rupture in her internal organs.

A still image from Iranian CCTV showing Mahsa Amini

    The Director General of Forensic Medicine in Tehran Province said Wednesday that there are no traces of beating or wounds on the head and face of the late Iranian Mahsa Amini.

    “Concerning the misleading information about blood coming out of Amini’s ears and a fracture at the base of her skull, we, forensic doctors, confirm that there are no signs of bruising or swelling on her eye and no fracture in her skull either,” the Director General said. 

    The forensic report showed that there are no signs of skull fracture, and the autopsy conducted on Amini’s body revealed no bleeding or rupture of her internal organs.

    According to the Director General of Forensic Medicine in Tehran, more time is needed to find the actual cause of Amini’s death in order to issue a final report based on the results of the analysis of the taken samples.

    It is worth noting that “Mahsa Amini underwent a brain surgery in a hospital in Tehran in 2006,” as revealed by the Director General. 

    It is noteworthy that Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian pointed out Tuesday that “an investigation was ordered into the tragic death of Mahsa, who, as the President said, was just like our own daughters.”

    According to the Iranian Minister, “to Iran, human rights are of inherent value unlike those who see it a tool against adversaries,” hinting at the US. 

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    Mahsa Amini is a 22-year-old Iranian whose case has been exploited by several Western media outlets in order to further promote Iranophobia by fabricating lies and making use of her medical condition that led to her death merely for political purposes.

    Mainstream and social media outlets were swarmed with trumped-up news, as some media outlets, mostly Western, claimed that an alleged brutal arrest led to the death of Amini. 

    Following the incident, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi called Amini’s family, confirming that he had ordered the incident to be investigated carefully.

    “Your daughter is like my own daughter, and I feel that this incident happened to one of my loved ones. Please accept my condolences,” Raisi told Amini’s family.

    Earlier, Iranian Judiciary Chief, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, stressed that the judiciary will closely investigate the case of Amini’s death, assuring her family that he has ordered the judicial bodies to carry out a thorough investigation of the case.

    The story as it is

    After contacting several official sources in Iran, Al Mayadeen learned that Amini was never assaulted, beaten, or abused, and the proof was CCTV footage that slammed western reports as fake and fabricated.

    The incident, recorded by the CCTV, shows a female police officer approaching Amini and pointing at her hijab. Amini and the officer entered into a verbal disagreement, after which the officer turned around and left Amini alone.

    At this point, and without any physical altercation taking place between the two – contrary to western media reports which claimed that Amini was brutally beaten – Amini fainted and it was later reported that she fell into a coma. The police officer can be seen rushing to support Amini to prevent her from falling. Amini was then transferred to the hospital for treatment. 

    The video shows that there was no violence and no beating whatsoever and that not even an arrest was made. Official sources told Al Mayadeen that Amini had a brain tumor and that she has been undergoing treatment for some time prior to the incident. Medical records confirm Amini’s multiple visits to the hospital for treatment.

      Maduro: Venezuela Receives Third Oil Tanker Built by Iran

      September 17, 2022

      By Staff, Agencies

      Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says the country has received an “advanced” oil tanker from Iran as part of a bilateral contract amid increasing cooperation between Tehran and Caracas in various fields.

      “We have just received a ship with the most advanced engineering and technology in the world,” Maduro said according to Venezuelan state TV. He said that the ship was manufactured by Iran upon Venezuela’s order.

      The oil tanker “now comes to serve as a cargo ship for our revolutionary PDVSA,” he added.

      This is the third Iran-made oil tanker delivered to Venezuela. The South American country received the second tanker on June 11, 2022.

      The second tanker was of Aframax type with a deadweight between 80,000 and 120,000 metric tons [mt] which can carry 113,000 mt or 750,000 barrels of oil. The 250-meter-long vessel is equipped with a 21,000-horsepower engine and three diesel generators that are capable of producing 900 kilowatts of electricity.

      Maduro said in June that the fourth tanker will also join the Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company [PDVSA] in 2024, marking the conclusion of a 2006-signed contract on four oil tankers between the two states.

      The tankers are produced by Iran Marine Industrial Company [Sadra] located along the Persian Gulf coast in Bushehr province.

      The delivery comes as both Iran and Venezuela are under severe economic sanctions imposed by the United States. Tehran and Caracas have expanded cooperation in recent years, especially in the field of energy, to neutralize Washington’s unilateral measures.

      The Venezuelan president made an official visit to Iran in June, inking a 20-year partnership agreement aimed at improving bilateral cooperation in various fields such as technology, agriculture, oil and gas, petrochemicals, tourism as well as culture.

      The ceremony to deliver the second oil tanker was held during this visit with presidents of the two nations in attendance.

      Addressing the event, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi hailed Venezuela as a “friendly and brotherly” country, adding, “In a situation where the enemies of Iran and Venezuela are trying to impede the progress of the free nations of Iran and Venezuela by imposing severe restrictions and sanctions, the delivery of the 113,000-ton tanker built by Iranian engineers and shipbuilding industries to Venezuela is an example of Iran’s high capacity and capability in exporting technical and engineering services to the world and proving the efficiency of the policy of the resistance economy.”

      For his part, Maduro hailed the cooperation with Iran, saying, “The production of the tanker for the Venezuelan state oil company was Commander Chavez’s plan to strengthen our country’s oil industry, to make it self-sufficient in the face of all foreign aggression.”

      “The construction of this modern and strong ship shows the high capability of the extraordinary and admirable industry of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said, adding, “Iran is one of the emerging powers of the 21st century and the construction of this ship is one of the practical and clear signs of this emerging power.”

      Iranian FM visits Mali days after French withdrawal

      Malian officials praised Iran for providing aid that ‘does not seek superiority, and seeks the interests of Africans’

      August 24 2022

      (Photo credit: Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

      ByNews Desk- 

      On 23 August, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian travelled to Mali to meet with interim President Colonel Assimi Goïta, one week after France withdrew the last of its troops from the African state.

      Amir-Abdollahian expressed Tehran’s determination to develop cooperation with Bamako and praised the nation’s struggles against terror groups, highlighting Iran’s experience in the successful fight against ISIS in West Asia.

      Western military troops have been operating in Mali – a former French colony – since 2013, allegedly to assist in defeating terrorism. But as terror acts steadily increased over the past decade, Malians have slammed the foreign military intervention and labelled the presence of French troops as an “occupation.”

      In a previous letter to the UN Security Council president, Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop accused France of supporting terrorists in his country.

      “These flagrant violations of Malian airspace were used by France to collect information for terrorist groups operating in the Sahel and to drop arms and ammunition to them,” the letter charged.

      In the meeting to boost bilateral relations between Iran and Mali, Goïta emphasized his nation’s readiness to host Iranian industrialists and entrepreneurs.

      Earlier in the day, Iran’s top diplomat took part in the first Iran-Mali joint economic commission with his Malian counterpart, Diop.

      After unveiling special plans to promote economic cooperation with the West African nation, Amir-Abdollahian took aim at the “failure” of western sanctions imposed on sovereign nations.

      “The west’s nonsensical sanctions policy has failed, and nations will move forward with perseverance, stability, and self-confidence,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

      He also called on Malian authorities to take advantage of Tehran’s accumulated experience in the field of countering western sanctions.

      “Iran attaches great importance to the development of relations with the important and beautiful African continent. The new Iranian government of President [Ebrahim] Raisi places special emphasis on prioritizing the relationship with Africa, especially with a historical and civilized country like the Republic of Mali,” the Iranian foreign minister affirmed.

      For his part, the Malian foreign minister praised Raisi’s commitment to Africa.

      “Many countries are interested in Africa for their own interests, but Iran’s choice is different. Iran’s choice is not for political purposes and does not seek superiority, and seeks the interests of Africans,” Diop said.

      At the conclusion of their meeting, Amir-Abdollahian announced that the Islamic Republic would donate one million doses of its homemade COVID-19 vaccine to Mali.

      Leading a high-ranking economic delegation on a tour of Africa, Amir-Abdollahian is next set to visit Tanzania and Zanzibar.

      Peace with Syria: The final piece in Turkey’s foreign policy puzzle

      August 15 2022

      Ankara has managed to reset relations with several neighbors, yet normalization with Damascus has remained the most elusive, until recently. Why now? And what will it take?

      Photo Credit: The Cradle

      By Hasan Ünal

      The 5 August meeting in Sochi between Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin has given rise to speculation in the west over Turkish-Russian rapprochement – and its possible negative impact on western efforts to curtail the imminent multipolar order.

      Western NATO states have reason to be concerned about Ankara’s recent moves, given the momentum created on 19 July during Astana talks in Tehran – between Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Erdogan, and Putin – geared to resolve the Syrian crisis.

      United against the States

      What was striking about the meeting in the Iranian capital was its defiant tone, slamming US-led unipolarity (the so-called rules-based order), and accusing Washington of looting Syria’s resources and sponsoring terrorism, all while demanding that the US exits the region immediately.

      Washington has long sought to undermine the Astana Process, launched in January 2017 by Russia, Iran and Turkey to demilitarize the Syrian conflict and establish ceasefires. To that end, it manipulated Turkey’s ill-defined Syria policy, expecting that Ankara and Moscow would collide head-on over “opposition-controlled” Idlib or elsewhere, thereby hindering possible rapprochement between the two Eurasian states.

      However, it seems as if the Erdogan-Putin meeting has instead advanced beyond their earlier encounter on 29 September 2021, also held in Sochi, where it was then leaked that the two leaders had somewhat agreed on a broad geopolitical vision.

      The two leaders focused on a wide range of areas of close cooperation – particularly on trade and economy – but also on prospective fields of mutual benefit such as defense industry ventures, as well as on regional issues like Syria, Crimea, and Cyprus.

      Turkey’s shift on Syria

      Although few details have been released following that closed-door meeting, it is interesting to note the discernable change in Ankara’s stance on Syria since then.

      There is now serious talk of normalization with Damascus and a renewal of the Syrian-Turkish 1998 Adana Agreement, which will entail a joint effort to defeat US-sponsored Kurdish separatists in Syria, especially in the areas to the east of the Euphrates where the latter are striving to install a US-backed statelet.

      As things stand, there is no reason why Erdogan and Putin could not iron out a deal to end the Syrian conflict, especially since Ankara – in an 18-month flurry of diplomatic outreach to regional foes – has largely given up on its Muslim Brotherhood-oriented foreign policy by mending ties with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and even Israel.

      Today, Erdogan’s personal obstinacy over Syria remains the main hurdle obstructing an overall peace with Turkey’s war-stricken southern neighbor.

      Why make peace?

      The Turkish president certainly has a lot to gain from a well-orchestrated rapprochement with the Syrian government. For starters, Ankara and Damascus could agree on a protocol to repatriate millions of Turkish-based Syrian refugees back to their places of origin, and renew the Adana Agreement to create a common front against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliates.

      Conceivably, Erdogan could even ask Damascus to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – a very dear issue for Ankara – in return for Turkey’s full support for the re-establishment of Syrian sovereignty over all its territories, including those areas currently under Turkish occupation.

      With strong Russian guidance, is not entirely inconceivable that the two states could return to a comfortable neighborly states quo, with trade, investment, and reconstruction activities leading the way.

      It would be a far cry from the 1998 to 2011 Syrian-Turkish ‘golden era,’ when Ankara studiously worked to bolster friendly relations with Damascus, to such an extent that joint-cabinet meetings were occasionally held between the administrations of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Erdogan, where the latter would refer to the former as “my brother.”

      Today, the emerging multipolar order makes diplomatic and economic re-engagement all the more conducive, because as NATO’s Madrid Summit demonstrated, the west needs Turkey more than ever, and Ankara’s moves to normalize relations with Damascus is less likely to incur a significant cost than before the Ukraine crisis erupted.

      Indeed, even before events in Europe unfolded, Turkey undertook several military operations against the PKK/ Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria, much to Washington’s dismay and outrage.

      Ankara could proceed with these operations with less censure today, but it has not. Turkey appears to have realized – possibly under Russian advisement – that without normalization with Damascus, Turkish military moves on Kurdish separatists would yield significantly fewer results.

      Problems closer to home

      Moreover, Erdogan’s administration has been beset by the contentious domestic issue of the millions of Syrian refugees who remain inside Turkey. The days when the president and his close associates were preaching Islamic solidarity in defense of hosting Syrian refugees have long past.

      The mood across Turkey has changed dramatically amid rising inflation, a collapse of the lira, and the general public’s disenchantment with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). For the first time since Erdogan’s ascension to power in 2003, the masses sense that his once-unbeatable, Islamist-leaning populist party may be defeated in upcoming presidential polls slated for May-June next year.

      True or not, there are public rumblings that the AKP – to escape an election loss – plans to bestow millions of Syrian refugees with Turkish citizenship, allowing them to vote in the pivotal polls.

      The disoriented outlook of Turkey’s main opposition party has always played to Erdogan’s advantage in previous elections. The feeble-looking Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who took the helm of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) after a sex scandal involving its previous leader, has never managed to rally the public around him.

      Importantly, Kılıçdaroğlu has typically trailed behind Erdogan in opinion polls because of his pro-American, pro-EU approach to almost everything – at a time when anti-US sentiment in the country polls at a startling 85 to 95 percent of the population.

      Repatriating refugees

      Furthermore, Kılıçdaroğlu and his party do not make any clear-cut pronouncements about a peace with Syria. If anything, the CHP was as critical of Assad as Erdogan’s AKP, and its spokespeople barely weighed in on the divisive Syrian refugee issue, even though economically-challenged Turkey currently hosts more refugees than any other country.

      The entry of a new figure – Ümit Özdağ, a professor of Political Science and International Relations, who recently formed the Party of Victory (Zafer Partisi) – onto the Turkish national political scene, has introduced a radical change in the discourse about Syrian refugees and their repatriation.

      Almost overnight, Özdağ has gained widespread support from voters across the political spectrum. His unexpected surge in the polls has clearly contributed to a reassessment by the government and ruling party on the Syrian issue.

      Ankara needs Damascus

      Today, almost all voices from the CHP to the AKP are floating arguments for some sort of repatriation, but as even the Turkish public understands, this cannot be done without normalization with Damascus.

      Hence, Erdogan’s test-balloon musings to Turkish journalists on his flight back from Sochi, hinting that Putin had repeatedly recommended that Ankara coordinate with Damascus on any military operation in Syria to rout out the PKK/SDF.

      Despite the positive national outlook on normalizing with Syria, Erdogan won’t have a smooth path ahead. Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s untimely remark a few days ago that Ankara should try to bring the Syrian opposition (a clear reference to the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army) and the Assad government together with a view to striking a deal, didn’t go down well at all with those oppositionists.

      It almost led to an uprising in Syrian areas under Turkish control – particularly in Azaz, where militants burned down Turkish flags and vowed to fight to the bitter end against the “Assad regime” and even Turkey.

      Same old foreign policy

      The statement the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued following these events underlined the long hard slog to a Syrian peace settlement, and revealed the depth of the Erdogan government’s involvement with these militants.

      As it has predictably done since 2011, the FM statement conveniently shifted blame back onto the Syrian government for foot-dragging toward overall peace and reconciliation.

      But Ankara desperately needs to drop its tired old refrain: demanding that Damascus agrees to a new constitution, pushing for federalization of the state, and insisting on new Syrians elections, under a care-taker government, composed of opposition politicians, and preferably without Assad at its helm.

      Having failed to oust Assad militarily, Turkey once imagined it could unseat him through this convoluted political and electoral formula. Erdogan’s logic was that the millions of Syrians under Ankara’s influence – both in Turkey, as well as in Turkish-controlled Syrian territories – in addition Syrian Kurds in areas under the PKK/PYD, especially to the east of the Euphrates, would vote Assad out.

      Trading the ‘rebels’ for the Kurds

      This ‘fantasy’ contrasts sharply with realities on the Syrian ground, and also totally undermines Turkey’s own national interests.

      Years of these haphazard AKP policies, premised on the unrealistic scenario of a sudden collapse of Assad’s government, all while stealthily transforming the country into a jihadist paradise – in the name of democracy – has instead become Ankara’s biggest foreign policy quagmire, and has emboldened its separatist Kurdish foes as never before.

      Furthermore, Erdogan’s disastrous Syria policy has isolated Turkey for almost a decade in the region, even among Sunni states, and threatened to set off a conflagration with Russia, a major source of energy and tourism for the Turkish economy.

      In fairness, the Turkish leader appears to be making some sound political maneuvers of late, and reaching out to Damascus is the most important of these for the region’s stability. Whether Erdogan will crown his new grand foreign policy moves with a Syrian peace by normalizing relations with Damascus remains to be seen.

      If he doesn’t take this bold step, particularly in advance of Turkey’s presidential elections, Erdogan runs the risk of joining the long list of politicians determined to oust Assad, who have themselves left or been ousted from office under the weight of the so-called “Assad Curse.”

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

      Author

      International condemnation against Israel grows as Gaza blitz continues

      Russia referred to the Israeli strikes as a ‘provocation’, and has urged all sides to exercise restraint

      August 06 2022

      The father of five-year old Palestinian Alaa Qadoum carries her body during her funeral in Gaza City on 5 August, 2022. (Photo credit: REUTERS/Ashraf Amra)

      ByNews Desk- 

      Many nations have issued condemnations of Israel’s brutal airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip that started on 5 August.

      So far, Tel Aviv’s bombing campaign has left over 100 injured and caused the deaths of 13 Palestinians, including a five-year old girl and three commanders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

      Palestinian resistance groups have launched several rocket attacks in retaliation, targeting nearby illegal settlements.

      Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, condemned on 6 August the escalation that “was provoked by Israeli air strikes,” adding that Moscow is deeply concerned over the breakout of large-scale conflict.

      The official also called all sides to “exercise maximum restraint.”

      Egypt has also condemned the attacks and warned against escalation, with an anonymous Egyptian security source telling Arab media: “We hope to reach a consensus to return to calm as soon as possible.”

      Another Egyptian source revealed that a PIJ delegation may travel to Cairo on 6 August for talks with Egyptian officials.

      In another strong condemnation of the Israeli aggression, Qatar called on the international community to “move urgently” to stop Israel’s continuous violence against civilians.

      The Gulf state’s foreign ministry affirmed via statement the kingdom’s “firm position on the justice of the Palestinian cause, the legitimate rights of the brotherly Palestinian people, and the establishment of their independent state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

      Jordan also called on Israel to “immediately stop its aggression,” warning of the dangerous consequences of increased escalation.

      The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan vehemently denounced Tel Aviv’s actions on Saturday, with the Taliban foreign ministry calling on the international community to perform its duty and prevent Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

      On the same day, the Islamic Republic of Iran issued its own condemnation of the attacks on Gaza.

      “In its last night’s crime, the Zionist regime once again showed its occupier and aggressor nature to the world, but the resistance of the people of Gaza will speed up the decline of this child-killing regime,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on the morning of 6 August.

      A statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on 5 August “strongly” condemned the Israeli bombardment, referring to the loss of civilian life as “unacceptable,” and urging “restraint and common sense.”

      Turkey has recently strengthened its diplomatic relationship with Israel after a long period of tension, and has reportedly been deporting members of the Hamas resistance faction at Tel Aviv’s request and in a bid to further improve relations with Israel.

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      Iran FM Terms Revenge for Gen. Soleimani as ’Absolute Responsibility’

      Jully 23, 2022

      By Staff, Agencies

      Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said revenge for the assassination of Iran’s celebrated anti-terror commander Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani is among the “absolute responsibilities” of the foreign ministry and other concerned organizations.

      Amir Abdollahian made the remarks in an interview broadcast on state television Thursday evening while elaborating on the Sayyed Ebrahim Raesi-led administration’s foreign policy.

      “The issue of General Soleimani will never be forgotten. The issue is so deep that even [Russian President Vladimir] Putin pointed to the important position and role of General Soleimani during his meetings with the Leader of the Islamic Revolution and the Iranian president,” the top diplomat said.

      The foreign ministry, Amir Abdollahian noted, has beefed up a committee that follows up on international issues, adding that the judiciary branch is also seriously pursuing the case.

      “We consider avenging the blood of Martyr Soleimani in legal, international, and political arenas and deem following up on the issue in all its aspects as our absolute responsibility,” he asserted.

      General Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard [IRG], and his Iraqi trenchmate Hajj Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units [PMU], were martyred along with their companions in a US drone strike on January 3, 2020.

      The strike near the Baghdad International Airport was authorized by then-President Donald Trump.

      The two noted anti-terror commanders were tremendously respected and admired across the region for their instrumental role in fighting and decimating the Daesh [Arabic for ‘ISIS/ISIL’] Takfiri terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

      In other remarks during the interview, Iran’s foreign minister said Saudi Arabia has shown readiness to advance the ongoing talks from security to the political sphere, after progress in the previous five rounds hosted by the Iraqi government.

      He said the two sides have reached some agreements, including on re-opening embassies in their respective countries.

      “Last week we received a message from Iraqi foreign minister [Fuad Hussein] saying that the Saudi side is ready to move the phase of talks from a security one to a political and public one,” said the minister.

      “We also expressed our readiness to continue talks at the political level so that it leads to the return of Iran-Saudi Arabia ties to the normal level.”

      Riyadh decided to sever diplomatic relations with Iran back in January 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed by protestors who were enraged by the Saudi execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr.

      There was no change in Riyadh’s confrontational policy towards Tehran until 2021 when it signaled an inclination to mend fractured ties with the Islamic Republic.

      Major news day for Russia: In conclusion of his working visit to Iran, Vladimir Putin answered questions from the media.

      July 20, 2022

      In conclusion of his working visit to Iran, Vladimir Putin answered questions from the media.

      Question: Mr President, some would think the world has forgotten about Syria amid the numerous issues on the international agenda. But we have seen today that this is not so.

      We would like to hear your views on the situation on the ground in Syria. A great deal has been said today about points of contact, but there are many differences as well. Have you discussed or coordinated any fundamentally new solutions today? I am referring primarily to these differences.

      President of Russia Vladimir Putin: What I would like to begin with is not the differences but the fundamental issues that allow us to work and continue our efforts in the trilateral format. All of us believe that it I necessary to guarantee the territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and to eliminate all sorts of terrorists, which I will not enumerate here. This is the fundamental and the most important thing, as we have pointed out again in our joint statement. I believe that this is very important.

      Yes, there are certain differences, which is obvious, but all of us support the constitutional process. Thanks to our efforts, we have brought together various conflicting parties at one negotiating platform, including the opposition and the official authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic, experts and representatives of public organisations, as well as the UN. I believe this is extremely important. This is the first point.

      The second. Humanitarian aid is being provided to Syria, for which there is particularly great demand today, because the sanctions imposed on Syria and the Syrian people have produced a deplorable result: nearly 90 percent of people in Syria are living below the poverty line. The situation in Syria is extremely serious.

      Of course, it would be unfair to give priority attention to certain groups, to politicise humanitarian aid.

      Third. There are different approaches to organising humanitarian aid. We have always believed that it should be organised in full compliance with international humanitarian law. This means that all humanitarian aid must be provided through the official Syrian authorities, through Damascus. However, we have agreed to extend the existing procedure for six months, including for deliveries to the Idlib zone, so as to have more time for coordinating our positions.

      There is some disagreement about what is happening in Northern Syria. Incidentally, we also have some common ground here: all of us believe that US troops should leave this area. This is the first point. And they should stop looting the Syrian state, the Syrian people, taking their oil illegally. But there is disagreement about how to organise and stabilise the situation in that region. As you know, Russian-Turkish observation convoys are working there together.

      However, in our view, in order to ensure a long-term, stable situation there it is necessary to transfer the entire territory under the control of the official authorities in Damascus, under the control of the Armed Forces of the Syrian Arab Republic, and then it will be possible to hold a dialogue with those who are responsible – in this case the official Syrian authorities. I believe it would greatly stabilise the situation there.

      But in general, it is work in progress. As I have said many times and would like to stress once again, the work of this tripartite group – Russia, Turkiye and Iran – this joint effort to search for compromises and find these compromises has led to the fact that over 90% of Syria is now under official government control and, as we say in such cases, we have broken the back of international terrorism there. This is a great result of this joint work.

      Question: Mr President, you had three one-on-one meetings today, first with Mr Raisi, then with Mr Khamenei, and then with Mr Erdogan, and there were no news conferences after these meetings. All we know is the topic you were discussing, the official part.

      In particular, you said that you discussed the grain issue with your Turkish counterpart, the issue of supplying Russian and Ukrainian grain to international markets. Could you tell us some more about that, please?

      Vladimir Putin: There are no secrets here; in fact, almost everything is known. There are some subtleties; maybe I do not always have time to follow what is happening in the information field. I will tell you how I see it.

      First, what was the highlight of the three meetings? At each meeting, there were issues that could be considered central to a particular bilateral meeting.

      For example, as I said at the news conference, in my press statement, the main theme at the meeting with the Spiritual Leader of Iran was strategic issues, including developments in the region. This is natural, as it is the sphere of his activity. It was very important for me to hear his opinion, his assessment. I have to say that we have very similar views with Iran on many aspects. So, it was very important and very useful.

      As for my meeting with President Raisi, we discussed primarily economic matters. I would like to note that Russian-Iranian trade has grown by 40 percent over the past six months. This is a very good indicator.

      There are promising spheres for our cooperation, and there is a great variety of them, like infrastructure development. You may know that a deputy prime minister of the Russian Government chairs a group that is responsible for developing relations in the South Caucasus, including infrastructure projects in the South Caucasus, that is, in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia. A great deal can be achieved in this sphere in cooperation with Iran.

      As you know, the first pilot train is travelling along the North-South Railway line. It is a short route to ports in the south of Iran, which further leads to the Persian Gulf and India.

      There is a practical project: the Rasht-Astara railway is a short 146-kilometre line across Iran. Azerbaijan is interested in its construction. I recently met with President Aliyev during the Caspian Summit, and we discussed this matter. Iran is interested in this as well, as our Iranian partners have told us just now. Russia is interested in this, because it will connect Russia’s northern region, St Petersburg, directly to the Persian Gulf. It is a very interesting and promising project. The task now is to build this line, which is only 146 kilometres. Russia is ready to do this.

      We need to coordinate the conditions of this construction project. We have discussed its general outlines with our Iranian partners and friends, and we have coordinated it with Azerbaijan. I hope we will get down to business now. And then, it will be an interesting job for us. It actually amounts to exporting the services of Russian Railways (RZD). This is one of the relevant examples.

      There are other spheres. There are security issues relevant to Iran’s nuclear programme. It was very important for us to understand the sentiments of the Iranian party regarding this work. It also involves Russia, which is contributing to the joint efforts aimed at relaunching interaction between Iran and the IAEA. I will not speak about this now, but Russia is playing a considerable role in this.

      The grain issue. It is what we discussed with the President of Turkiye. I have already said that the Republic of Turkiye and personally President Erdogan have done a great deal to facilitate the agreement on Ukrainian grain exports. But initially we suggested that it should be adopted as a package, that is, we would facilitate the Ukrainian grain exports provided all the restrictions on the potential exports of Russian grain are lifted. This is what we initially agreed upon with international organisations. They pledged to formulate this as a package solution. Nobody has so far raised any objections, including our American partners. We will see what comes of it in the near future.

      As you know, the Americans have actually lifted restrictions, for example, on the delivery of Russian fertilisers to the global market. I hope this will also happen with regard to the export of Russian grain if they really want to improve the situation on the global food markets. As I have said, we are ready to do this right now. We can export 30 million tonnes of grain, and our export potential based on this year’s harvest will be 50 million tonnes.

      Question: Mr President, a serious energy crisis is developing in Europe, which is discussing the possibility of Gazprom cutting off gas deliveries. The company has allegedly issued an official notification to one of its German clients, citing force majeure circumstances.

      Are there grounds for accusing Russia of causing this energy crisis? Will Gazprom continue to honour its obligations

      Vladimir Putin: First of all, Gazprom has always honoured, and will continue to honour its commitments.

      There are no grounds at all for the attempts by our partners to shift or try to shift the blame for their own mistakes on Russia and Gazprom.

      What is the situation with energy deliveries? In 2020, in the first half of 2020, gas cost 100 euros per 1,000 cubic metres in Europe. The price rose to 250 euros in the first half of 2021. Today it is 1,700 euros per 1,000 cubic metres of gas.

      What is happening? I have spoken about this on numerous occasions, and I do not know if we should go into detail regarding the energy policies of European countries, which underrate the importance of traditional sources of energy and have put money on non-traditional energy sources. They are big experts on non-traditional relations, and they have also decided to make a bid for non-traditional energy sources like the sun and wind.

      Last winter was long, there wasno wind, and that did it. Investment in the fixed assets of traditional energy producers has decreased because of previous political decisions: banks do not finance them, insurance companies do not insure them, local governments do not allocate land plots for new projects, and pipeline and other forms of transportation are not developing. This is a result of many years, probably a decade of this policy. This is the root cause of price hikes rather than any actions by Russia or Gazprom.

      What is going on today? Until recently, we supplied gas to Europe without Turkiye: we supplied around 30 billion cubic metres a year to Turkiye, and 170 billion to Europe, 55 billion via Nord Stream 1, and, if memory serves me, 33 billion were supplied via Yamal-Europe, via the two strings that run through Ukraine. About 12 billion were delivered to Europe through Turkiye via TurkStream.

      Ukraine suddenly announced that it was going to close one of the two routes on its territory. Allegedly because the gas pumping station is not under its control but on the territory of the Lugansk People’s Republic. But it found itself under the control of the Lugansk People’s Republic several months before, and they closed it just recently without any grounds. Everything was functioning normally there, no one interfered. In my opinion, they closed it simply for political reasons.

      What happened next? Poland imposed sanctions on Yamal-Europe, which supplied 33 billion cubic metres of gas. They used to take 34, I think, 33–34 million cubic metres a day from us. They shut it down completely. But then we saw that they turned on the Yamal-Europe pipeline in reverse mode, and they started taking about 32 million a day from Germany. Where is the gas from Germany coming from? It is our Russian gas. Why from Germany? Because it turned out to be cheaper for the Poles. They used to get it from us at a very high price, closer to the market price, whereas Germany gets it from us 3–4 times cheaper than the market price under long-term contracts.

      It is profitable for German companies to sell it to the Poles at a small premium. It is profitable for the Poles to buy it because it is cheaper than to buy it directly from us. But the volume of gas in the European market has decreased, and the total market price has gone up. Who has won? All Europeans only lost. This is the second point: Yamal-Europe.

      So, first one of the routes in Ukraine was shut down, then Yamal-Europe was shut down, now Nord Stream 1, which is one of the main routes – we pump 55 billion cubic metres a year through it. There are five Siemens gas compressor stations working there, and one is on standby. One compressor had to be sent out for repairs. A repaired compressor was supposed to come from Canada, from the Siemens plant in Canada, to replace it. But it ended up under sanctions in Canada. So, one pumping station, just one piece of equipment was out of order because of scheduled maintenance work and it has not been returned from Canada.

      Now we are being told that the unit will be delivered from Canada soon, but Gazprom does not have any official documents yet. We must certainly obtain them, because this is our property, it is the property of Gazprom. Gazprom should receive not only the hardware, not only the gas pumping unit, but also the accompanying documents, both legal and technical documentation. We must be able to see what Gazprom is taking – the turbine’s current condition as well as its legal status, whether it is under sanctions or not, what we can do with it, or maybe they are taking it back tomorrow. But that is not all.

      The problem is that at the end of July, on July 26, I think – we can ask Gazprom – another turbine should be sent for routine maintenance, for repairs. And where will we get a replacement from? We do not know.

      One more turbine is actually out of order because of some crumbling of its internal liner. Siemens has confirmed this. That leaves two operational units, which are pumping 60 million per day. So, if one more is delivered, fine, we will have two in operation. But if it is not, only one will be left, and it will pump only 30 million cubic meters per day. You can count how much time it will take to pump the rest. How is this Gazprom’s responsibility? What does Gazprom even have to do with this? They have cut off one route, then another, and sanctioned this gas pumping equipment. Gazprom is ready to pump as much gas as necessary. But they have shut everything down.

      And they have fallen into the same trap with the import of oil and petroleum products. We hear all sorts of crazy ideas about capping the volume of Russian oil imports or the price of Russian oil. This is going to lead to the same situation as with gas. The result (I am surprised to hear people with university degrees saying this) will be the same – rising prices. Oil prices will spiral.

      As for gas, there is another route we are ready to open, which is Nord Stream 2. It is ready to be launched, but they are not launching it. There are problems here as well, I discussed them with the Chancellor about six or maybe eight weeks ago. I raised this issue; I said that Gazprom had reserved the capacity, and that this capacity needed to be used, and it cannot be suspended in mid-air indefinitely.

      The answer was that there were other issues on the agenda, more important things, so it is difficult for them to deal with this right now. But I had to warn them that then we would have to redirect half of the volume intended for Nord Stream for domestic consumption and processing. I raised this issue at the request of Gazprom, and Gazprom has actually already done it. Therefore, even if we launch Nord Stream 2 tomorrow, it will not pump 55 billion cubic meters, but exactly half that amount. And given that we are already halfway through this year, it would be just a quarter. Such is the supply situation.

      But – I said this at the beginning of my answer to your question and I want to end with this – Gazprom has always fulfilled and will always fulfil all of its obligations, as long as, of course, anyone needs it. First, they themselves close everything, and then they look for someone to blame – it would be comical if it were not so sad.

      Question: You spoke with Mr Erdogan today. He has repeatedly stated his readiness to arrange talks between you and Vladimir Zelensky. Has this issue surfaced today? Are you ready to meet with the President of Ukraine?

      Vladimir Putin: President Erdogan is making a lot of efforts to create the necessary conditions for normalising the situation. It was during our talks in Istanbul that we actually reached an agreement, and it only remained to initial it. But, as you know, after that, when our troops, in order to create the right conditions, withdrew from central Ukraine, from Kiev, the Kiev authorities backed off on those agreements. These were agreements that had actually been achieved. So, you see that the final result depends, of course, not on intermediaries, but on the parties’ commitment to fulfil the agreements reached. And we can see today that the Kiev authorities have no interest in that.

      As for Turkiye’s efforts, as well as other countries’ proposals – Saudi Arabia has offered its mediation services, and the United Arab Emirates, and they do have such capabilities – we are grateful to all our friends who are interested in resolving this crisis for providing their opportunities. Even their willingness to make some contribution to this noble cause is worth a lot. We are deeply grateful for that.

      قمّة طهران تثمر في إدلب: تحضيرات تركيّة لفتْح «M4»

      الجمعة 22 تموز 2022

      تعمّد أردوغان خلال قمّة طهران ذكر إدلب والتشديد على ضرورة الإبقاء على الهدوء فيها (أ ف ب)

      سوريا 

      علاء حلبي 

      لم تكد ساعات تمضي على انتهاء قمّة طهران، التي احتلّ الملفّ السوري حيّزاً رئيساً منها، حتى بدأت تركيا سلسلة خطوات على الأرض تمهيداً لفتح طريق حلب – اللاذقية، ضمن مقايضة أوّلية تشمل تسليماً جزئياً لمنبج وتل رفعت للجيش السوري. وعلى رغم تواضع الإجراءات المتّصلة بتلك المقايضة إلى الآن، إلّا أن من شأنها، إذا ما آلت إلى نهايتها، ولم تفلح الولايات المتحدة في عرقلتها، أن تُحقّق انفراجة جزئية في الملفّ الإدلبي الشائك، وأن تؤدّي إلى إعادة تشغيل أحد أبرز الطرق الاستراتيجية (M4) في سوريا

      دمشق | تُعتبر إدلب، أكبر المعاقل التي تتجمّع فيها الفصائل المتشدّدة في سوريا في ظلّ سيطرة «هيئة تحرير الشام» (جبهة النصرة) عليها، أحد أكثر الملفّات إشكالية بين كلّ من تركيا من جهة، وإيران وروسيا من جهة أخرى. وقد حاولت أنقرة، على مدار الأعوام الأربعة الماضية، المماطلة في معالجة هذا الملفّ، وتثبيت أمر واقع لصالحها، بالتوازي مع عمليات تبييض لصفحة «جبهة النصرة» تستهدف إعادة تصديرها على أنها فصيل معتدل، ضمن معادلة تشابكت فيها مجموعة من العوامل. وتفرض اتفاقات سوتشي الموقَّعة بين روسيا وتركيا عام 2018، ومتمّمتها عامَي 2019 و2020، على أنقرة، فتح طريق حلب – اللاذقية (M4)، وعزل الفصائل الإرهابية، مقابل إبعاد «خطر الأكراد» في الشمال والشمال الشرقي من سوريا مسافة 30 كلم عن الحدود التركية، وهو ما تعهّدت روسيا بتنفيذه. غير أن التسويف التركي في تنفيذ تلك الالتزامات، التي ظلّت محدّدة بجدول زمني واضح بعد كلّ لقاء بين الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين ونظيره التركي رجب طيب إردوغان، دفع الروس إلى الردّ بالمثل والمماطلة في حلّ قضية الأكراد، على الرغم من تنشيط دوريات المراقبة المشتركة.

      وتعمّد الرئيس التركي، في كلمته التي ألقاها خلال قمّة طهران وفاقت بطولها كلمتَي الرئيس الروسي ونظيره الإيراني، ذكر إدلب في أكثر من موقع. كما تعمّد التشديد على ضرورة الإبقاء على الهدوء فيها، مشيراً إلى أن بلاده «تتفهّم مخاوف جميع الأطراف حول الوضع هناك، لكنها تبذل جهوداً كبيرة في المنطقة وتقدّم الدعم للنازحين على الحدود من دون دعم من دول أخرى». وسبق لإردوغان أن جادل، خلال لقاءات سوتشي السابقة، بالمسائل نفسها، وعلى رأسها وجود أكثر من 1500مخيّم تضمّ مئات آلاف النازحين في ريف إدلب وقرب الحدود مع تركيا، الأمر الذي يمثّل، وفق الرئيس التركي، تهديدات بموجات لجوء جديدة إلى بلاده لا يرغب فيها، في الوقت الذي يحاول فيه أصلاً التخلّص من اللاجئين الموجودين لديه عبر بناء تجمّعات سكنية لهم قرب الشريط الحدودي، من أجل إعادة توطينهم.

      ترى موسكو في فتح طريق حلب – اللاذقية خطوة مقبولة ضمن الظروف الحالية


      وبالتوازي مع عقد قمّة طهران، وفي اليوم التالي لها، زار وفد أمني وعسكري تركي مناطق عدّة في إدلب، حيث أجرى سلسلة من اللقاءات، بعضها مع ممثّلين عن سكّان قرى على خطّ التماس في جبل الزاوية، حيث يمرّ طريق حلب – اللاذقية. وبحسب مصادر تحدّثت إلى «الأخبار»، فإن الوفد طلب من الأهالي الاستعداد للعودة إلى قراهم، وسط وعود بمنْع تدهور الأوضاع الأمنية والعسكرية خلال الفترة المقبلة، بالإضافة إلى أخرى بتحسُّن اقتصادي كبير، حيث سيتمّ فتح طريق «M4»، ومجموعة من المعابر الاقتصادية التي تربط بين إدلب بشكل عام ومناطق سيطرة الحكومة، مع ضمانات باستمرار وصول المساعدات إلى تلك القرى بدلاً من المخيمات. ونقلت المصادر أن الوفد أكّد أكثر من مرّة أن «ملفّ إدلب لن ينزلق إلى العسكرة»، وأنه «بات مرتبطاً بالحلّ السياسي»، لافتةً إلى أن الوفد أجرى لقاءات مغلقة مع «هيئة تحرير الشام»، تسرّب عنها وجود أوامر تركية واضحة لـ«الهيئة» بضبْط محيط الطريق، ومنْع أيّ محاولات من فصائل منفلتة لعرقلة الاتفاق، ومتابعة العمل على إزالة مظاهر التشدّد. وكان أبو محمد الجولاني، زعيم «النصرة»، بدأ، قبل مدّة، بهذه المهام بالفعل، عبر زيارات لقرى تسْكنها أقلّيات، آخرها زيارة لقرية تقطنها عائلات مسيحية لتطمين الأهالي وإزالة مخاوفهم من «الهيئة»، وذلك بالتوازي مع إدخال تعزيزات عسكرية تركية إلى نقاط تمركز القوات التركية في جبل الزاوية. غير أن الجهود التركية لا يبدو أنها تمكّنت حتى الآن من ضبط الأمن، حيث سُجّلت خلال الساعات الماضية عدّة خروقات لوقف إطلاق النار من طرف الفصائل المسلّحة، بالإضافة إلى محاولة شنّ هجمات بطائرتَين انتحاريتَين على قاعدة حميميم الروسية في جبلة.

      ويبدو، حتى الآن، أن ثمّة قبولاً، على مضض، من قِبَل موسكو، التي ترى في فتح طريق حلب – اللاذقية، والمتأخّر نحو أربع سنوات عما اتُّفق عليه، خطوة مقبولة ضمن الظروف الحالية، في وقت ينصبّ فيه اهتمام الدول الثلاث (إيران وروسيا وتركيا) على زيادة الضغوط لإخراج القوات الأميركية من الشمال الشرقي من سوريا، وهي الأرضيّة المشتركة التي بنت عليها إيران قمّتها، وحاولت ترسيخها كونها قد تساهم في فتح الأبواب المغلقة بين دمشق وأنقرة. وبشكل عام، يمكن القول إن الرئيس التركي نجح، إلى حدّ ما، في تجميد ملفّ إدلب، وتجاوُز المعادلة الروسية التي تربط بين منبج وتل رفعت من جهة، وإدلب من جهة ثانية، عبر خطوات صغيرة في الأخيرة مقابل تسليم الأُوليَين للجيش السوري. ومن شأن ذلك أن يؤدّي، في حال تمّت الخطوات المتّفق عليها، ولم تنجح المساعي الأميركية القائمة في عرقلتها عبر الضغط على «قسد» ومنعها من تسليم المدينتَين، إلى تحقيق انفراجة جزئية في الملفّ الإدلبي الشائك، بالإضافة إلى فتح أحد أبرز الطرق الاستراتيجية (M4)، والذي يمتدّ من أقصى الشرق السوري مروراً بحلب وصولاً إلى الساحل السوري، علماً أن الخطّة الروسية، التي أبلغها قائد القوات الروسية في سوريا، ألكسندر تشايكو، لممثّلي «قسد»، خلال لقاء في القامشلي قبل يومين، تقضي بأن تنسحب قواتها من الشريط الحدودي إلى ما بعد الطريق، على أن يتسلّم الجيش السوري المنطقة بما فيها «M4».

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      The power troika trumps Biden in West Asia

      The presidents of Russia, Iran, and Turkey convened to discuss critical issues pertaining to West Asia, with the illegal US occupation of Syria a key talking point

      July 20 2022

      Photo Credit: The Cradle

      Oil and gas, wheat and grains, missiles and drones – the hottest topics in global geopolitics today – were all on the agenda in Tehran this week.

      By Pepe Escobar

      The Tehran summit uniting Iran-Russia-Turkey was a fascinating affair in more ways than one. Ostensibly about the Astana peace process in Syria, launched in 2017, the summit joint statement duly noted that Iran, Russia and (recently rebranded) Turkiye will continue, “cooperating to eliminate terrorists” in Syria and “won’t accept new facts in Syria in the name of defeating terrorism.”

      That’s a wholesale rejection of the “war on terror” exceptionalist unipolarity that once ruled West Asia.

      Standing up to the global sheriff

      Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his own speech, was even more explicit. He stressed “specific steps to promote the intra-Syrian inclusive political dialogue” and most of called a spade a spade: “The western states led by the US are strongly encouraging separatist sentiment in some areas of the country and plundering its natural resources with a view to ultimately pulling the Syrian state apart.”

      So there will be “extra steps in our trilateral format” aimed at “stabilizing the situation in those areas” and crucially, “returning control to the legitimate government of Syria.” For better or for worse, the days of imperial plunder will be over.

      The bilateral meetings on the summit’s sidelines – Putin/Raisi and Putin/Erdogan – were even more intriguing. Context is key here: the Tehran gathering took place after Putin’s visit to Turkmenistan in late June for the 6th Caspian summit, where all the littoral nations, Iran included, were present, and after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s travels in Algeria, Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, where he met all his Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) counterparts.

      Moscow’s moment

      So we see Russian diplomacy carefully weaving its geopolitical tapestry from West Asia to Central Asia – with everybody and his neighbor eager to talk and to listen to Moscow. As it stands, the Russia-Turkey entente cordiale tends to lean towards conflict management, and is strong on trade relations. Iran-Russia is a completely different ball game: much more of a strategic partnership.

      So it’s hardly a coincidence that the National Oil Company of Iran (NIOC), timed to the Tehran summit, announced the signing of a $40 billion strategic cooperation agreement with Russia’s Gazprom. That’s the largest foreign investment in the history of Iran’s energy industry – badly needed since the early 2000s. Seven deals worth $4 billion apply to the development of oil fields; others focus on the construction of new export gas pipelines and LNG projects.

      Kremlin advisor Yury Ushakov deliciously leaked that Putin and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in their private meeting, “discussed conceptual issues.” Translation: he means grand strategy, as in the evolving, complex process of Eurasia integration, in which the three key nodes are Russia, Iran and China, now intensifying their interconnection. The Russia-Iran strategic partnership largely mirrors the key points of the China-Iran strategic partnership.

      Iran says ‘no’ to NATO

      Khamenei, on NATO, did tell it like it is: “If the road is open for NATO, then the organization sees no borders. If it had not been stopped in Ukraine, then after a while the alliance would have started a war under the pretext of Crimea.”

      There were no leaks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) impasse between the US and Iran – but it’s clear, based on the recent negotiations in Vienna, that Moscow will not interfere with Tehran’s nuclear decisions. Not only are Tehran-Moscow-Beijing fully aware of who’s preventing the JCPOA from getting back on track, they also see how this counter-productive stalling process prevents the collective west from badly needed access to Iranian oil.

      Then there’s the weapons front. Iran is one of the world’s leaders in drone production: Pelican, Arash, Homa, Chamrosh, Jubin, Ababil, Bavar, recon drones, attack drones, even kamikaze drones, cheap and effective, mostly deployed from naval platforms in West Asia.

      Tehran’s official position is not to supply weapons to nations at war – which would in principle invalidate dodgy US “intel” on their supply to Russia in Ukraine. Yet that could always happen under the radar, considering that Tehran is very much interested in buying Russian aerial defense systems and state of the art fighter jets. After the end of the UN Security Council-enforced embargo, Russia can sell whatever conventional weapons to Iran it sees fit.

      Russian military analysts are fascinated by the conclusions Iranians reached when it was established they would stand no chance against a NATO armada; essentially they bet on pro-level guerrilla war (a lesson learned from Afghanistan). In Syria, Iraq and Yemen they deployed trainers to guide villagers in their fight against Salafi-jihadis; produced tens of thousands of large-caliber sniper rifles, ATGMs, and thermals; and of course perfected their drone assembly lines (with excellent cameras to surveil US positions).

      Not to mention that simultaneously the Iranians were building quite capable long-range missiles. No wonder Russian military analysts estimate there’s much to learn tactically from the Iranians – and not only on the drone front.

      The Putin-Sultan ballet

      Now to the Putin-Erdogan get together – always an attention-grabbing geopolitical ballet, especially considering the Sultan has not yet decided to hop on the Eurasia integration high-speed train.

      Putin diplomatically “expressed gratitude” for the discussions on food and grain issues, while reiterating that “not all issues on the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports are resolved, but progress is made.”

      Putin was referring to Turkiye’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who earlier this week assured that setting up an operations center in Istanbul, establishing joint controls at the port exit and arrival points, and carefully monitoring the navigational safety on the transfer routes are issues that may be solved in the next few days.

      Apparently Putin-Erdogan also discussed Nagorno-Karabakh (no details).

      What a few leaks certainly did not reveal is that on Syria, for all practical purposes, the situation is blocked. That favors Russia – whose main priority as it stands is Donbass. Wily Erdogan knows it – and that’s why he may have tried to extract some “concessions” on “the Kurdish question” and Nagorno-Karabakh. Whatever Putin, Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev may really think about Erdogan, they certainly evaluate how priceless is to cultivate such an erratic partner capable of driving the collective west totally bonkers.

      Istanbul this summer has been turned into a sort of Third Rome, at least for expelled-from-Europe Russian tourists: they are everywhere. Yet the most crucial geoeconomic development these past few months is that the western-provoked collapse of trade/supply lines along the borders between Russia and the EU – from the Baltic to the Black Sea – finally highlighted the wisdom and economic sense of the International North-South Transportation Corridor (INTSC): a major Russia-Iran-India geopolitical and geoeconomic integration success.

      When Moscow talks to Kiev, it talks via Istanbul. NATO, as the Global South well knows, does not do diplomacy. So any possibility of dialogue between Russians and a few educated westerners takes place in Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the UAE. West Asia as well as the Caucasus, incidentally, did not subscribe to the western sanctions hysteria against Russia.

      Say farewell to the ‘teleprompter guy’

      Now compare all of the above with the recent visit to the region by the so-called “leader of the free world,” who merrily alternates between shaking hands with invisible people to reading – literally – whatever is scrolling on a teleprompter. We’re talking of US President Joe Biden, of course.

      Fact: Biden threatened Iran with military strikes and as a mere supplicant, begged the Saudis to pump more oil to offset the “turbulence” in the global energy markets caused by the collective west’s sanction hysteria. Context: the glaring absence of any vision or anything even resembling a draft of foreign policy plan for West Asia.

      So oil prices duly jumped upward after Biden’s trip: Brent crude rose more than four percent to $105 a barrel, bringing prices back to above $100 after a lull of several months.

      The heart of the matter is that if OPEC or OPEC+ (which includes Russia) ever decide to increase their oil supplies, they will do it based on their internal deliberations, and not under exceptionalist pressure.

      As for the imperial threat of military strikes on Iran, it qualifies as pure dementia. The whole Persian Gulf – not to mention the whole of West Asia – knows that were US/Israel to attack Iran, fierce retaliation would simply evaporate with the region’s energy production, with apocalyptic consequences including the collapse of trillions of dollars in derivatives.

      Biden then had the gall to say, “We have made progress in strengthening our relations with the Gulf states. We will not leave a vacuum for Russia and China to fill in the Middle East”.

      Well, in real life it is the “indispensable nation” that has self-morphed into a vacuum. Only bought-and-paid for Arab vassals – most of them monarchs – believe in the building of an “Arab NATO” (copyright Jordan’s King Abdullah) to take on Iran. Russia and China are already all over the place in West Asia and beyond.

      De-Dollarization, not just Eurasian integration

      It’s not only the new logistical corridor from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Astrakhan and then, via the Caspian, to Enzeli in Iran and on to Mumbai that is shaking things up. It’s about increasing bilateral trade that bypasses the US dollar. It’s about BRICS+, which Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are dying to be part of. It’s about the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which formally accepts Iran as a full member this coming September (and soon Belarus as well). It’s about BRICS+, the SCO, China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) interconnected in their path towards a Greater Eurasia Partnership.

      West Asia may still harbor a small collection of imperial vassals with zero sovereignty who depend on the west’s financial and military ‘assistance,’ but that’s the past. The future is now – with Top Three BRICS (Russia, India, China) slowly but surely coordinating their overlapping strategies across West Asia, with Iran involved in all of them.

      And then there’s the Big Global Picture: whatever the circumvolutions and silly schemes of the US-concocted “oil price cap” variety, the fact is that Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela – the top powerful energy-producing nations – are absolutely in sync: on Russia, on the collective west, and on the needs of a real multipolar world.

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

      Meeting of the guarantor states of the Astana process to facilitate the Syrian settlement + Speech by President Vladimir Putin

      July 20, 2022

      Joint Statement by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the President of the Russian Federation, and the President of the Republic of Turkiey, Tehran

      July 19, 2022

      President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, H.E. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, President of the Russian Federation, H.E. Vladimir Putin, and President of the Republic of Turkiey, H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdogan gathered in Tehran on 19 July 2022 for a Tripartite Summit within the framework of Astana format.

      The Presidents:

      1. Discussed the current situation on the ground in Syria, reviewed the developments following the last virtual summit on 1 July 2020 and reiterated their determination to enhance the trilateral coordination in light of their agreements as well as conclusionsof foreign ministers and representatives’ meetings. Also, examined the latest international and regional developments and emphasized the leading role of the Astana Process in peaceful and sustainable settlement of the Syrian crisis.

      2. Emphasized their unwavering commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic as well as to the purposes and principles of UN Charter. Highlighted that these principles should be universally respected and that no actions, no matter by whom they were undertaken, should undermine them.

      3. Expressed their determination to continue working together to combat terrorism in all forms and manifestations. Condemned increased presence and activities of terrorist groups and their affiliates under different names in various parts of Syria, including the attacks targeting civilian facilities, which result in loss of innocent lives. Highlighted the necessity to fully implement all arrangements related to the north of Syria.

      4. Rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism, including illegitimate self-rule initiatives, and expresses their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as threatening the national security of neighboring countries including through cross-border attacks and infiltrations.

      5. Discussed the situation in the north of Syria, emphasized that security and stability in this region can only be achieved on the basis of preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and decided to coordinate their efforts to this end. Expressed their opposition to the illegal seizure and transfer of oil revenues that should belong to Syria.

      6. Reaffirmed the determination to continue their ongoing cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate terrorist individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, while ensuring the protection of the civilians and civilian infrastructure in accordance with the international humanitarian law.

      7. Reviewed in detail the situation in the Idlib de-escalation area and underscored the necessity to maintain calm on the ground by fully implementing all agreements on Idlib. Expressed their serious concern over the presence and activities of terrorist groups that pose threat to civilians inside and outside the Idlib de-escalation area. Agreed to make further efforts to ensure sustainable normalization of the situation in and around the Idlib de-escalation area, including the humanitarian situation.

      8. Expressed grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Syria and rejected all unilateral sanctions which are in contravention of international law, international humanitarian law and the UN Charter including, among other things, any discriminatory measures through waivers for certain regions which could lead to this country’s disintegration by assisting separatist agendas. In this regard, called upon the international community, particularly the UN and its humanitarian agencies and other governmental/non-governmental international institutions to increase their assistance to all Syrianswithout discrimination, politicization and preconditions and in a more transparent manner.

      9. Reaffirmed their conviction that there could be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that it could only be resolved through the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned, UN-facilitated political process in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2254. Emphasized in this regard the important role of the Constitutional Committee, created as a result of the decisive contribution of the Astana guarantors and the implementation of the decision of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi. Reaffirmed the readiness to support the continuous interaction with its members and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen, as facilitator, in order to ensure the sustainable and effective work of the next sessions of the Constitutional Committee. Expressed the conviction that the Committee in its work should respect the Terms of Reference and Core Rules of Procedure to enable the Committee to implement its mandate of preparing and drafting for popular approval a constitutional reform as well as achieving progress in its work and be governed by a sense of compromise and constructive engagement without foreign interference and externally imposed timelines aimed at reaching general agreement of its members. Underlined the necessity that it should conduct its activities without any bureaucratic and logistical hindrances.

      10. Reaffirmed their determination to continue operations on mutual release of detainees/abductees within the framework of the respective Working Group of the Astana format. Underscored that the Working Group was a unique mechanism that had proved to be effective and necessary for building confidence between the Syrian parties, and decided to further continue its work on the release of detainees and abductees and in line with its mandate on handover of bodies and identifications of missing persons.

      11. Highlighted the need to facilitate safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their original places of residence in Syria, ensuring their right to return and right to be supported. In this regard, they called upon the international community to provide appropriate contributions for their resettlement and normal life as well as to undertake greater responsibility in burden-sharing and to enhance their assistance to Syria, inter alia by developing early recovery projects, including basic infrastructure assets – water, electricity. sanitation, health, educations, schools, hospitals as well as the humanitarian mine action in accordance with international humanitarian law.

      12. Condemned Israeli military attacks in Syria including to civilian infrastructures. Considered it as violating the international law, international humanitarian law, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, and recognized it as destabilizing and intensifying the tension in the region. Reaffirmed the necessity to abide by universally recognized international legal decisions, including those provisions of the relevant UN resolutions rejecting the occupation of Syrian Golan, first and foremost UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 497, which also consider all decisions and measures taken by Israel in this regard null void and have no legal effect.

      13. In addition to the Syrian issue, they confirmed their intention to strengthen trilateral coordination in different fields in order to promote joint political and economic cooperation.

      14. Agreed to assign their representatives with the task of holding the 19th International Meeting on Syria in the Astana format by the end of 2022.

      15. Decided to hold the next Tripartite Summit in the Russian Federation upon the invitation of President of the Russian Federation, H.E. Vladimir Putin.

      16. The Presidents of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkiye expressed their sincere gratitude to the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, H.E. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi for graciously hosting the Tripartite Summit within the framework of Astana format in Tehran.


      Speech by President of Russia Vladimir Putin at the summit of the guarantor states of the Astana process

      President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Raisi, Mr Erdogan, colleagues,

      First, I would like to thank President Raisi for inviting us to visit Tehran for our today’s meeting in the framework of the Astana process. Of course, it is best to talk in-person in this format, and now we have the opportunity to do so.

      We hope to discuss in a practical and business-like spirit the urgent issues of stabilisation in Syria, and there are quite a few of them at present.

      Overall, the joint efforts of Russia, Iran and Turkiye to facilitate the comprehensive settlement of the crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic are highly productive. Owing to the assistance and support of our countries, the level of violence in Syria has decreased significantly; peaceful life is returning and the country is gradually rebuilding its economy and social sphere.

      And no less important, the real political and diplomatic process has been launched in line with Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council. We believe the Astana Troika must continue playing a key role in the efforts to achieve complete normalisation in Syria and establish durable peace and civil accord in the country.

      Importantly, Russia proceeds from its firm commitment to the fundamental principles of unconditional respect for the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.

      We support the draft joint statement prepared for approval following the summit, which determines the priorities of cooperation in this trilateral format.

      We believe our task for the near future is to agree on specific steps to promote the intra-Syrian inclusive political dialogue, that is, to implement our agreement on creating conditions that will allow the Syrians to determine their future themselves, without outside interference.

      In fact, this is why our three states initiated the adoption of the decision to establish a Constitutional Committee at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi in 2018. The Syrian parties achieved noticeable progress with support from Russia, Iran and Turkiye, and the participation of the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for Syria. Importantly, the Syrians showed a willingness to come to terms, to search for and find consensus solutions on priority issues related to the future arrangement of their sovereign state.

      I am convinced that our countries will continue promoting cooperation in the interests of the ultimate elimination of the remaining hotbeds of international terrorism on Syrian territory. It is necessary to put an end, once and for all, to the presence of ISIS and other extremist groups in Syria.

      Let me stress that the situation on the territories outside the control of the Syrian government is particularly concerning. We see real threats of crime, extremism and separatism coming from those regions. This is largely allowed through the destructive policy of the Western states led by the US which are using a broad arsenal of political and economic measures, are strongly encouraging separatist sentiment in some areas of the country, as the President of Iran just mentioned, and plundering its natural resources with a view to ultimately pulling the Syrian state apart. So, it would be best to take extra steps in our trilateral format aimed at stabilising the situation in those areas and at returning control to the legitimate government of Syria.

      I think it is important that Russia, Iran and Turkiye are making concerted efforts to render support to the Syrian people in the post-conflict recovery. We believe that everything needed must be done to restore the economy and social sphere, to return refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes, and to create conditions for safe and unimpeded access to humanitarian aid for those who need it. And these activities must be continued, of course.

      In addition, it is necessary to see that other members of the international community, the respective UN agencies, and international development institutions play a more substantial role in providing Syria with assistance without politicisation or any preconditions.

      To conclude, I would like to express confidence that our talks will be useful and productive and the results will serve to enhance stability and security not only in Syria but also in the Middle East in general.

      I would also like to note that the next Astana Troika summit is scheduled to be held in Russia, and we will definitely be happy to see all of you there.

      Thank you for your attention.

      Tehran Summit to accelerate political solution in Syria, fight terror

      19 Jul 2022

      Tehran tripartite summit to discuss northern Syria

      By Al Mayadeen English 

      The presidents of Iran, Russia, and Turkey will hold their summit in the Iranian capital, Tehran, stressing the importance of finding solutions in northern Syria.

      Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Russian Vladimir Putin, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a tripartite summit in the Iranian capital, Tehran, to discuss possible settlements in Syria.

      The Iranian president opened the tripartite summit with a speech, stressing that “the sanctions imposed on Syria contradict the sovereignty of countries, and Iran condemns these policies against the Syrian people.”

      Raisi pointed out that “Syria’s sovereignty, stability, and security are a red line, and the illegal US presence in the country is the reason for its instability,” saying that “the presence of the Syrian army on the borders is the guarantor of the country’s stability.”

      Furthermore, Raisi noted the role of the Israeli occupation practices in destabilizing global security, saying that “the practices of the Zionist entity lead to destabilization of global security, which will have repercussions on the entity itself.”

      Putin: Our goal is Syrian territorial integrity

      In his speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that our goal is for Syria to be able to decide its future without outside interference.

      Putin added that “The joint work of Russia, Iran, and Turkey to promote a comprehensive resolution of the crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic is very effective. Thanks to the help and support of our countries, the level of violence in Syria has noticeably decreased, peaceful life is being revived, and the economy and the social sphere are gradually being restored. And no less importantly, a real political and diplomatic settlement process has been launched on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 2254.”

      Putin stressed, “the need to ensure that the international community plays a more important role towards the Syrian people, without political interests,” adding that “we will have specific steps for the Syrian political dialogue on the basis of our agreements in a way that Syria can decide its future without outside interference.”

      Erdogan: We need to accelerate political solution to the Syrian crisis

      For his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed “the need to combat all terrorist organizations,” saying that his country is determined to do so.” 

      Erdogan added that “Turkey will continue to participate in meetings aimed at finding solutions to the crisis in Syria,” adding, “We must provide full support to accelerate the political and diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis.”

      On the tensions in the Syrian province of Idlib, Erdogan said during his speech that “Turkey understands the clear concern of the presence of some parties in Idlib.”

      Regarding the Syrian refugees on Turkish territory, Erdogan expressed his confidence that “the Syrian people want a voluntary return to their lands,” pointing out that “it is unfair for the Turkish state only to bear the burdens of the displaced.”

      Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, arrived in the Iranian capital to participate in the “Astana talks” in Tehran and discuss ways of a Syrian settlement, in addition to several common agendas.

      Read more: Duma committee: Northern Syria Turkish operation hypothesis subsided

      Related Stories

      Source: Al Mayadeen Net

      تنسيق متصاعد مع دمشق: «قسد» تُسخط واشنطن

      الثلاثاء 19 تموز 2022

      بدأت «قسد» رسم معالم تحالفات ميدانية جديدة بعيداً عن الأميركيين (أ ف ب)

      سوريا 

      أيهم مرعي 

      تشهد مناطق الشريط الحدودي بين سوريا وتركيا، تحرّك تعزيزات إضافية للجيش السوري في اتّجاه المناطق المهدَّدة بالعملية العسكرية التركية. ويأتي ذلك في وقت تبعث فيه «قسد» بمزيد من الإشارات إلى استعدادها لتعميق حالة التنسيق مع دمشق، توازياً مع رفضها، العلني والصريح، للمبادرات الأميركية المطروحة في شأن مناطق الشمال، والذي دفع بواشنطن إلى إيصال رسائل تحذير وتهديد إلى «الإدارة الذاتية»، في حال مضيّها في التفاهم مع السوريين والروس والإيرانيين

      الحسكة | في وقت يسود لديها تقدير بأن مصير العملية العسكرية التركية في الشمال السوري سيتقرّر في القمّة الثُّلاثية المنتظَرة في طهران بين رؤساء روسيا وإيران وتركيا، بدأت «قسد» رسم معالم تحالفات ميدانية جديدة بعيداً عن الأميركيين، توازياً مع رفضها، بشكل غير مباشر، مبادرة عضو مجلس الشيوخ الأميركي، ليندسي أغراهام، بخصوص المناطق المهدَّدة بالهجوم التركي. وكان الأخير اقترح انسحاباً كاملاً لـ«قسد» من مدن الشريط الحدودي، وتأسيس منطقة عازلة بعمق 5 كم، مع منح امتيازات اقتصادية لتركيا في تلك المنطقة. وتلت زيارةَ أغراهام إلى الشمال السوري، زياراتٌ أميركية عسكرية لمناطق سيطرة «قسد» في عين العرب ومنبج، حيث طُرحت فكرة عودة جزء من القواعد الأميركية إلى هذه المناطق، مع بثّ شائعات عن عودة القاعدة الأميركية إلى مقرّ «الفرقة 17» في مدينة الرقة، وهو ما نفته مصادر أهلية وعسكرية متقاطعة من داخل المدينة لـ«الأخبار». وفُهم ذلك التحرّك الأميركي على أنه محاولة لإعاقة أيّ تقارب بين «قسد» ودمشق، ولا سيما بعد توصُّل الطرفَين إلى اتفاق على نشر قوات إضافية من الجيش السوري والقوات الرديفة على خطوط التماس مع الجيش التركي، وهو ما اعتبرته واشنطن تهديداً لتحالفها مع «الإدارة الذاتية»، ومحاولة لسحب الورقة الكردية منها، خصوصاً مع تهديد «قسد» بوقف العمليات الأمنية ضدّ «داعش»، ورفع يدها عن السجون والمخيمات في حال وقوع الهجوم التركي. وعبّرت عن تلك الخشية، صراحةً، مساعِدة وزير الدفاع الأميركي، دانا سترول، بقولها إن «أيّ عملية عسكرية تركية شمال سوريا، قد تؤدي إلى دفع قسد إلى أحضان خصومنا، روسيا وإيران وسوريا، إذا تعرّضت لهذا النوع من الضغط».

      ومع تسارع الأحداث في الشمال السوري، سرّبت مواقع كردية أنباءً عن تلقّي «قسد» توصية مباشرة من الأميركيين بضرورة الابتعاد عن التنسيق العسكري مع الجيش السوري والإيرانيين، مع التهديد باتّخاذ إجراءات ضدّها. ونقلت وسائل إعلام كردية عن ممثّل «المجلس الوطني الكردي» في كردستان العراق، كاوا أزيزي، قوله إن «التحذير الأميركي لقسد جاء على خلفية التقارب الكبير بينها وبين الحكومة السورية والذي ترعاه روسيا». وأمام هذه التطوّرات، اختارت قيادة «قسد» إشهار موقفها من الحراك الأميركي، من خلال مؤتمر صحافي عُقد في مدينة الحسكة، أكد خلاله القائد العام، مظلوم عبدي، أن «قسد لن تنسحب من أيّ منطقة، بل سنقاوم أيّ عدوان سيُشنّ على مناطقنا»، لافتاً إلى أنه «لم يَعُد لدينا مكان ننسحب إليه، بعد تطبيق قواتنا لاتفاق سوتشي 2019، والانسحاب لمسافة 30 كم عن الحدود». واللافت أن عبدي وجّه انتقادات صريحة إلى واشنطن، مقابل الإشادة بالدور الروسي، وإبداء الاستعداد للتعاون مع موسكو والجيش السوري، في موقف إمّا أن يكون حاسماً، أو محاولة لاستفزاز الأميركيين ودفْعهم نحو اتّخاذ مزيد من الإجراءات لثنْي تركيا عن تنفيذ تهديداتها. وفي هذا السياق، اعتبر عبدي أنه «على الرغم من الموقف العلني للتحالف الدولي والأميركيين بمعارضة أيّ عدوان تركي على مناطقنا، إلّا أن هذه المواقف ضعيفة وغير كافية لردع الهجوم»، مشيراً في المقابل إلى «وجود جهود روسية لوقْف التهديدات التركية»، مضيفاً «(أننا) نقدّر الجهود الروسية التي كانت إحدى نتائجها نشر قوات الحكومة السورية في مناطق حدودية في منبج وعين العرب للدفاع عن السيادة السورية»، مشيداً أيضاً بدور الجيش السوري الذي قال إنه «سيكون أوّل مَن سيواجه الجيش التركي وفصائله».

      دفَع الجيش السوري بتعزيزات عسكرية إضافية إلى الشريط الحدودي


      وجاءت تصريحات عبدي في وقت دفَع فيه الجيش السوري بالفعل بتعزيزات عسكرية إضافية إلى الشريط الحدودي، بعد عدّة أيام من نشر كتيبتَي مدرّعات على امتداد المنطقة الممتدّة بين عين العرب في ريف حلب، وصولاً إلى عين عيسى وأطراف تل أبيض في ريف الرقة الشمالي. ولا يُعدّ هذا الانتشار الجديد بمستوى فرْض السيادة الكاملة، خاصة مع تجديد «قسد» رفضها الانسحاب، وتأكيدها استمرار عمل «الإدارة الذاتية»، وغياب أيّ مؤشّرات إلى استعدادها لتسليم المناطق المُهدَّدة بالهجوم إدارياً وعسكرياً للحكومة السورية. وفي هذا الإطار، تقول مصادر ميدانية مطّلعة، لـ«الأخبار»، إن «الانتشار الجديد للجيش السوري هو من ضمن مهامه الوطنية في الدفاع عن السيادة السورية، ويأتي استكمالاً لاتفاق تمّ توقيعه بين قسد والجيش السوري برعاية روسية في عام 2019»، مشيرة إلى «وجود تفاهمات على توسيع تواجد الجيش على خطوط التماس، مع نشر أسلحة ومعدّات ثقيلة». وفي ظلّ عدم شمول الانتشار الجديد مركزَي مدينتَي عين العرب ومنبج، تدعو المصادر «قسد إلى الإعلان عن فكّ ارتباطها رسمياً بالأميركيين، والمُضيّ بالتعاون مع الجيش السوري والروس، وتسليم مدن الشريط الحدودي، بما ينزع الذرائع التركية لشنّ عدوان جديد»، معتبرةً أن ذلك، في حال حصوله، «سيؤسّس لاتفاق شامل بين قسد والجيش السوري، سيكون بداية لتحوّل داخلي مهمّ في مسار الأزمة السورية».

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      Putin heads to Tehran for talks with Iranian and Turkish leaders

      19 Jul, 2022

      The trilateral talks will focus on Syria but other key issues will also be addressed in the Iranian capital, the Kremlin has said

      Putin heads to Tehran for talks with Iranian and Turkish leaders
      FILE PHOTO: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin leaving his plane. © Sputnik / Ramil Sitdikov

      Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to arrive in Tehran on Tuesday for talks with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

      It will be his second foreign trip since the launch of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine on February 24. In late June, he visited Turkmenistan and Tajikistan to meet the countries’ leaders and attend the sixth Caspian Summit, in which Iran also took part.

      The trilateral negotiations in the Iranian capital will be held as part of the so-called Astana Peace Process, which was launched by Moscow, Tehran and Ankara in 2017 with the aim of achieving a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Syria.

      According to the Kremlin, the three heads of state will discuss steps to fully eradicate the hotbed of international terrorism in the country, the facilitation of the inter-Syrian peace process and solutions to humanitarian issues, including post-conflict reconstruction.

      Putin, Raisi and Erdogan will issue a joint statement after the negotiations, Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov said on Monday, adding that its draft had already been prepared.

      Bilateral talks between the leaders will also take place, while Putin is also expected to meet with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

      During those meetings, the Russian president and his interlocutors will discuss the situation around the stalled talks on restoring the Iranian nuclear deal.

      Trade will also be on the agenda, with Moscow and Tehran preparing a new major cooperation deal, Ushakov said.

      Iran is an important partner of Russia. Our relations are friendly, have a centuries-old history, and are developing very effectively in many areas. Both sides have plans to take bilateral cooperation to a new level – the level of strategic partnership,” he pointed out.

      Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, who earlier gave an interview to the Iranian media, said trade between Russia and Iran had surpassed $4 billion in 2021, and grew by 31% in the first four months of this year.

      With Russia and Iran being among the most sanctioned nations in the world, Peskov expressed confidence that the two countries would be able to build relations that will allow them to minimize the effect of international restrictions on their economies.

      When it comes to Ukraine, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made it clear that Tehran would not provide assistance to any of the sides of the conflict as it believes that the conflict “has to be stopped.” By saying so, the minister refuted the US claims that his country was planning to provide Russia with hundreds of drones, including combat drones.

      At the same time, Raisi has said on multiple occasions that Tehran stands ready to contribute to a diplomatic resolution of the Ukrainian conflict.

      Putin’s bilateral meeting with Erdogan is expected to touch on the issue of Ukrainian grain exports from the Black Sea ports, according to Ushakov. Turkey, which declares itself a neutral country when it comes to the situation in Ukraine, has been engaged in various issue-resolving initiatives. It recently hosted multilateral consultations on the grain issue, with the participation of Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations.

      Food security was also one of the main subjects of the phone conversation between Putin and Erdogan last week. The Turkish leader said at the time that “it was time for the United Nations to take action for the plan regarding the formation of secure corridors via the Black Sea.”

      In March, Istanbul hosted a crucial round of peace negotiations between Kiev and Moscow.

      You can share this story on social media:

      Raisi: Any Mistake by US, Allies to Be Met with Iran’s Harsh Response

      July 15, 2022

      By Staff, Agencies

      Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi confirmed that his country cannot condone insecurity and crisis in the region, warning that any mistake by the enemies will be met with a harsh response from the Islamic Republic that will make them rue their acts.

      Raisi made the remarks in a Thursday visit to the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, referring to the hostile and destabilizing activities of the United States and its allies in the region.

      “In the gathering of the resistant people of Kermanshah, I say that any mistake by the Americans and their allies in the region and the world will be met with a harsh and regrettable response,” he said.

      He further stated: “Today, Islamic Iran is stronger than ever”, adding that the United States on the contrary is weaker than ever. 

      The Iranian president also said, “The great nation of Iran does not accept any kind of insecurity and crisis in the region, and the Muslim nations of the region hate the humiliating relations of their governments with America, which has led to the looting of their country’s wealth.”

      His remarks came a day after US President Joe Biden opened his first visit to the region since taking office by telling Israeli leaders of his determination to confront Iran’s nuclear energy program, saying he’d be willing to use force as a “last resort”.

      President Raisi touched on Iran’s military power and authority, calling it a security factor in the region and stressing that the Islamic Republic will not accept any insecurity or crisis in the region.

      “The Zionist regime should not have a covetous eye on the Middle East and West Asia, and it can never have normal relations in the region,” he said.

      In parallel, Raisi added that the Islamic Republic does not see the interference of the US and its allies in the region as anything other than creating a crisis, “because these countries are constantly transiting insecurity and terrorism into the region”.

      Sitrep Operation Z0V: Back to Hot Steel Rain

      July 14, 2022

      Source

      By Saker Staff

      The Ukraine conflict is in fact already a world war, given that the West is fighting Russia via its proxies in Kiev, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told local media on Wednesday.

      Serbian President Vucic: “I know what awaits us. As soon as Vladimir Putin has done his work in Seversk, Bakhmut and Soledar, after reaching the second line Slaviansk-Kramatorsk-Avdeevka, he will come up with a proposal. And if they [the West] don’t accept it, – and they won’t – all hell will break loose.”

      On the Hot Front

      The situation in the Soledar direction as of 12.00 on July 14, 2022
      🔻On the Seversk front:
      Units of the Allied forces are fighting on the outskirts of Verkhnekamenskoye with the aim of reaching the eastern outskirts of Seversk.
      Clashes continue in the vicinity of Ivano-Dariivka, taking the settlement and the station is important for reaching Seversk from the south, as well as cutting the road to Soledar.
      🔻On the Soledar front:
      Soldiers of the 6th Cossack regiment of the LPR took the settlements of Novaya Kamenka and Stryapovka, reaching the eastern outskirts of Soledar.
      Units of the Allied Forces are fighting in Yakovlevka.
      The units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are entrenched in the eastern part of Berestovoye on the Soledar — Lisichansk highway.
      🔻On the Bakhmut front:
      Russian forces are fighting near the village of Pokrovskoye. Together with the nearby Bakhmutsky, they are the last settlements controlled by the AFU on the approaches to Bakhmut from the east.

      We have a naming problem from time to time.  With translations, the names of the villages and areas frequently get mistranslated.  (Eg. Kharkov in Russian, is Kharkiv in Ukrainian, and Ilium in Russian translates to ‘Raisins’ in English machine translations).

      So, for those struggling to follow, let’s repeat two simple maps for orientation:

      Overview

      Oblasts

      Yes, the front line is on fire.  As we’ve seen before, there is a lot of quiet time, positional battles, rest and relaxation for soldiers and then hell breaks loose.

      On the broader front (please note the correct channel for the Russian Mod in English – https://t.me/mod_russia_en and in Russian  https://t.me/mod_russia)

      ⚡️Russian Defence Ministry report on the progress of the special military operation in Ukraine

      ▫️The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation continue the special military operation in Ukraine. The enemy suffers significant losses.

      💥High-precision strikes near Bereznegovatoye, Nikolaev Region, Konstantinovka and Kramatorsk, Donetsk People’s Republic, hit temporary deployment points of units of 35th Marine Brigade, 54th Mechanized Brigade, 81st Airmobile Brigade and 109th Territorial Defence Brigade. As a result of strikes, the total losses of these formations amounted up to 1,000 personnel and more than 100 pieces of military equipment.

      💥High-precision weapons of the Russian Aerospace Forces hit temporary deployment point of 14th Mechanized Brigade battalion manned by nationalists and foreign mercenaries near Chasov Yar, Donetsk People’s Republic. The attacks have resulted in the destruction of 43 militants and about 170 injured.

      🚁💥Russian army aviation hit temporary deployment point of 97th Battalion of 60th Mechanized Brigade of AFU near Malaya Tokmachka, Zaporozhye Region, with high-precision missiles. The attacks have resulted in the destruction of 30 militants and about 37 injured.

      ▫️Conflicts and clashes with the use of weapons have increased among nationalist fighters. On July 13, more than 200 fighters of the 226th Kraken nationalist formation refused to follow the command’s order to move to the Kramatorsk area and claimed a “transfer” to the Kharkov city’ territorial defence. During the ensuing fight with the commanders and the ensuing gunfight, 6 militants were killed.

      ▫️Russian Armed Forces continue strikes against military facilities in Ukraine.

      💥High-precision sea-based Kalibr missiles destroyed multiple rocket launcher vehicles of 45th Artillery Brigade of AFU hidden in hangars at the high voltage equipment plant in Zaporozhye city.

      💥In addition, high-precision weapons of the Russian Aerospace Forces destroyed 4 command posts, including those of 61st Infantry Jaeger Brigade of AFU near Bereznegovatoye in Nikolaev Region and 80th Airborne Assault Brigade near Kramatorsk, 3 ammunition depots near Soledar, Tat’yanovka in Donetsk People’s Republic and Nikolaev, 1 fuel storage facility for military equipment near Kharkov, and 21 areas of manpower and military equipment concentration.

      💥As part of the counter-battery fighting, 1 battery of multiple rocket launchers near Slavyansk, 1 platoon of MLRS near Nikolaevka in Donetsk People’s Republic, and 1 artillery platoon of US-made M-777 howitzers at firing positions in Pervomaiskyi in Kharkov Region were destroyed.

      💥Operational-tactical and army aviation, missile troops and artillery hit 19 command posts, 78 areas of artillery units in firing positions and 232 areas of AFU manpower and military equipment concentration.

      ✈️💥Russian Aerospace Forces fighters have shot down 2 aircraft of Ukrainian air force in the air: 1 Su-24 near Slavyansk and 1 MiG-29 near Troitskoye, Donetsk People’s Republic.

      💥Russian air defence means destroyed 12 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles near Balakleya, Izyum, Lozovaya, Shchurovka in Kharkov Region, Snegirevka, Novaya Kakhovka in Kherson Region, Belogorovka, Karmazinovka, Slavyanoserbsk, Mikhailovka in Lugansk People’s Republic and Derilovo in Donetsk People’s Republic.

      💥In addition, 2 Tochka-U ballistic missiles and 6 rockets of Uragan multiple-launch rocket system were intercepted near Novaya Kakhovka in Nikolaev Region.

      📊In total, 249 Ukrainian airplanes and 137 helicopters, 1,534 unmanned aerial vehicles, 354 anti-aircraft missile systems, 4,050 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 744 multiple launch rocket systems, 3,145 field artillery and mortars, as well as 4,292 units of special military vehicles were destroyed during the operation.

      The Nikolaev Ukrop base now looks like this:

      Yet, another shelling of Donetsk Center has just happened.  Here is the video:  https://t.me/russianhead/5253?single

      https://t.me/russianhead/5253?embed=1

      Military summary at the end of day yesterday starts with, The Worst Nightmare for the Ukrainians has Started.

      We remain with questions:

      What is Mr Putin going to do in Iran next week in his talks with Raisi and Erdogan?

      and, can we take Vucic seriously?

      Serbian President Vucic: “I know what awaits us. As soon as Vladimir Putin has done his work in Seversk, Bakhmut and Soledar, after reaching the second line Slaviansk-Kramatorsk-Avdeevka, he will come up with a proposal. And if they [the West] don’t accept it, – and they won’t – all hell will break loose.”

      Are we reaching an end phase of this part of the SMO?

      Ukrainian propaganda is in full voice and that includes western propaganda.  Keep ‘yer eyes peeled.  Take in Larry Johnson’s latest:  “The speed of Russia’s advance appears to be accelerating. There are reports today that Russian forces are entering the outskirts of Seversk, one of the key strong points of the new Ukrainian defensive line. If true, the Russians are likely to achieve a strategic breakthrough in the Donetsk. What the gullible reporters and the morons who staff the CIA and DIA fail to comprehend is that Russia’s tactic of systematically destroying the air, armor and artillery assets over the past three months appears to have achieved Clausewitz’s culminating point–i.e., the point at which a military force is no longer able to perform its operations.” https://sonar21.com/western-media-and-military-analysts-still-dazed-and-confused/

      Iran in South Caucasus: Turning losses into wins

      Determined not to be cut out of the South Caucasus, Iran is forging strategic ties with both Baku and Yerevan

      July 11 2022

      Photo Credit: The Cradle

      By Yeghia Tashjian

      Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi have averted conflict through geo-economic compromise

      At the end of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war – which Azerbaijan won with Turkish support and Russian diplomacy – Iran was widely seen by analysts as the conflict’s biggest loser, in terms of its regional strategic interests.

      Without wasting much time, however, Tehran flipped those fortunes by very proactively engaging its soft power in the South Caucasus to advance its geo-economic interests. This is arguably due to Iran’s concerns over Turkish-Azerbaijani expansionist designs in the region.

      In the main, Iran has sought to revitalize its relations with Azerbaijan to mitigate Turkey’s push for control over the Zangezur Corridor, a strategic transportation route bypassing Armenian territory close to the Iranian border.

      The corridor’s opening is said to be dependent upon the development of a comprehensive Armenian-Azerbaijani agreement. In this regard, Tehran is engaging with both countries simultaneously, and in doing so has helped reduce Baku’s political pressure on Yerevan.

      Resetting relations with Azerbaijan

      On March 11, 2022, Azerbaijan and Iran signed an agreement to establish new railway, highway, and energy supply lines connecting the southern territories of the disputed Karabakh region (captured by Azerbaijan) to the Azerbaijani Nakhichevan exclave.

      According to the agreement, the new highway will be 55 km long and will pass through northern Iran, eventually connecting to Nakhichevan. In addition to the highway, two railway bridges and a road bridge will be constructed over the bordering Arax River.

      Iranian political analyst Vali Kaleji says these projects have geo-economic significance for both Azerbaijan and Iran.

      For Baku, the construction of this highway is essential for several reasons. First, it is a continuation of an already existing highway in Azerbaijan and will draw investment into the southern regions of Karabakh currently under the control of Baku.

      Second, the 55-km highway through Iran will offer an alternative to the Zangezur corridor that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was pushing for after the trilateral statement, which put an end to hostilities – for now – between Baku and Yerevan.

      Despite the fact that the trilateral statement called for the opening of trade routes and communication, it did not mention anything about a ‘corridor.’ President Aliyev has largely promoted the Zangezur Corridor idea for domestic consumption while adding political pressure on Armenia to sign a peace treaty over Nagorno-Karabakh.

      To date, Russia, Armenia and Iran have disregarded Baku’s Zangezur Corridor claims.

      Peacekeeping policies

      To prevent another war between Baku and Yerevan, Tehran came up with an alternative solution by providing this alternative route that will lift some pressure from Armenia’s shoulders, as Azerbaijan was threatening to gain the corridor by any means necessary.

      Moreover, Baku is also concerned that if the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s government falls and the opposition comes to power, the successive government will not provide any corridor to Azerbaijan through the Armenian territories. Hence, as Keleji noted, “Baku is deliberately pursuing another option should the Zangezur Corridor not come to fruition.”

      Finally, Azerbaijan will establish a link with Nakhichevan through Iran, providing additional Iranian leverage over Baku in the future.

      Iranian interests

      Iran, in turn, has its own considerations for allowing the construction of a highway and railway across its territory that would connect Azerbaijan proper to Nakhchivan.

      In reaction to the expansionist narrative pushed by Azerbaijan over the Zangezur Corridor and Azerbaijani incursions into bordering villages in Syunik (southern Armenia), Iran drew its red lines and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) threatened to use military force if necessary to prevent any territorial change in its 44 km border with Armenia.

      As such, Tehran sees the construction of a new highway and railway line via Iran as an appropriate alternative to the Zangezur corridor that will alleviate the military pressure on southern Armenia.

      For this reason, Ahmad Kazemi, an Iranian expert on the South Caucasus region, in his article “Baku’s reconciliation with geopolitical realities” wrote that Baku is pushing a “fake Zangezur corridor” to appease Turkey, Israel, NATO while following pan-Turkic dreams.

      It was only last year that Aliyev declared: “The corridor that is going to pass through here is going to unite the whole Turkic world.”

      For Kazemi, this “Turanic corridor” will go against the interests of Iran, Russia, and China. It is therefore inevitable that these three states will not allow geopolitical changes on Armenia’s southern borders.

      Isolating Iran

      Meanwhile, with the ongoing war in Ukraine, Moscow has focused its attention on the importance of the North-South trade route. According to Kaleji, strengthening this transit route will aid in countering the tightening economic sanctions and transit restrictions imposed on Russia by the west.

      In this regard, the Iranian Roads and Urban Development Minister Rostam Qasemi visited Moscow on 30 April to sign a comprehensive agreement on cooperation in the field of transportation. Both countries agreed to accelerate the construction of Azerbaijani-Iranian railway to connect Moscow to the strategic Persian Gulf – a security concern of western powers since the Cold War era.

      In February, during an Iranian-Armenian conference held in Yerevan, an Iranian diplomatic source told The Cradle that “Iran will take all the necessary measures to prevent the loss of the strategic Armenian-Iranian border and will do all it can to prevent a new war.

      Tehran realizes that any such loss will further increase Turkish influence in the region and that Iran was an indirect target of the 2020 war in Karabakh, with the aim of isolating Iran regionally.

      Within this context, the Iranian-Armenian railway line from Meghri, Armenia’s Syunik province, could have been an alternative route connecting Iran to Russia, but it suffers from high costs and has not seen any progress since 2009.

      Armenia’s poor infrastructure, its conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh with Azerbaijan, and its slow progress in the construction of the North-South highway (over the past twelve years, it has implemented only five percent of the 556-kilometer highway connecting Georgia with Iran) has further isolated and slowed down Armenia’s participation in the regional economic project.

      Armenia’s gateway to Asia

      However, over the past four months, Iran and India have been pushing Armenia to take crucial steps to reinvigorate the north-south transport project. As a result, important meetings between Iranian and Armenian officials have been organized to address trade, transit, and energy issues.

      On 2 March, leading a high-ranking delegation of trade officials and private entrepreneurs, Iranian Minister of Industry, Mining, and Trade, Reza Fatemi-Amin paid a visit to Armenia as part of Tehran’s efforts to strengthen trade ties with its neighbors.

      This was the first visit to Armenia by senior Iranian officials since President Ebrahim Raisi took office in August 2021. Accompanying the delegation were the CEOs of 35 Iranian private companies.

      The Iranian side stated that Tehran attaches great importance not only to the development of economic relations with Armenia but also considers it as a “gateway” to the markets of Russia and other Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) member countries.

      For the rail connection, Miad Salehi, head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, pointed to three possibilities for rail transit between Iran and Armenia. The first two rail connections are:

      • The Jolfa-Nakhchivan-Yerevan.
      • The Jolfa-Nurduz (in Iran) and Yerevan-Nurduz (in Armenia) railroads, which were agreed upon seven years ago though not realized.

      Iran has also proposed a multi-modal transit route from Yerevan to Jolfa by road, and then southward to the port of Bandar Abbas by rail, essentially opening the gates of Asian markets for Armenia.

      Iran hasn’t been pushed out of the South Caucasus  

      After the trilateral statement in 2020, Iran felt isolated from the South Caucasus, though its absence did not last long. Following the election of President Raisi, Tehran adopted a proactive balanced foreign policy in its neighborhood to secure its primary geo-economic interests.

      The Iranians have realized that the Zangezur Corridor poses a threat to their national security as it bypasses Iranian territory and prevents Iran from gaining transit fees from Azerbaijani trucks. But it also threatens to reshape the strategic international borders between Iran and Armenia to the benefit of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and by extension, their mutual ally, Israel.

      Tehran recognizes that were Azerbaijan to succeed in imposing the Zangzur Corridor on Yerevan, Baku could connect to Turkey, Israel, and the European Union by land. Crucially, Iran also interprets this as an expanding presence of Israel and NATO on its borders.

      During his Caucasian tour this month, Iran’s national security chief, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, held talks in Yerevan with his Armenian counterpart and Prime Minister Pashinyan, where he stressed that Tehran was against any actions leading to a geopolitical change in the region.

      Rather than accepting a lesser role, Iran has successfully deployed its economic soft power to recalibrate the field and increase its leverage over Azerbaijan. On one hand, Tehran fostered the construction of a railway with Azerbaijan to connect with Russia; on the other hand, it strengthened its trade, energy, and communication projects with Baku’s archenemy, Armenia.

      For now, though, Iran’s engagement with Azerbaijan over the alternative corridor has lifted the military and political pressure on Armenia, thus preventing another war near its northern borders.

      Iran’s dialogue with both countries has – for now – arguably lifted Azerbaijan’s military and political pressure on Armenia, safeguarded its national interests, and prevented another war near its northern borders.

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

      Raisi: Normalization of Relations Will Not Bring Security to Zionist Regime

      June 28, 2022

      By Staff, Agencies

      Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi says normalization of relations with a number of regional Arab countries will not bring security to the Zionist regime of the “Israeli” entity.

      Raisi made the remarks in a joint presser with the visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Tehran on Sunday.

      “During this meeting, we discussed trade and political and economic relations [between the two countries], and decided to boost economic ties. We discussed the rail connection between Shalamcheh [in Iran] and [Iraq’s] Basra [port], which can play a great role in facilitating trade between the two countries. We also discussed facilitation of monetary and banking relations between Iran and Iraq,” he said.

      Reflecting on the efforts made by the Zionist regime’s official during past years to normalize relations with some Arab states in the region, Iran’s chief executive said, “The efforts made by the Zionist regime to normalize relations with regional countries will by no means bring security to this regime.

      “We and Iraq believe that peace and tranquility in the region depends on all regional officials doing their parts, and normalization [of relations] with the [Zionist] regime and the presence of foreigners in the region will solve none of the regional people’s problems,” Raisi said.

      Highlighting the importance of relations between Iran and Iraq and the role played by the two countries in regional developments, Raisi said, “We stood by people of Iraq when the country was going through dire straits and will continue to stick together. This friendship and relations will never go cold and will further develop on a daily basis. There is no doubt that the visit by Mr. Kadhimi and his accompanying delegation can be a turning point in development of relations between the two countries.

      He said that during his meeting with Kadhimi they discussed the existing relations among regional countries, adding, “We believe that dialog among regional countries can solve regional problems, [but] the presence of foreigners in the region only creates more problems and does not help solve those problems.”

      Back in 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed United States-brokered agreements with the entity to normalize their ties with the regime. Some other regional states, namely Sudan and Morocco, followed suit soon afterward.

      Spearheaded by the UAE, the move has sparked widespread condemnations from the Palestinians as well as nations and human rights advocates across the globe, especially within the Muslim world.

      Other regional countries have also been fraternizing with the entity, including Saudi Arabia, which received a visit by the regime’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November 2020.

      Earlier this month, Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei said the Arab governments that chose to normalize relations with the “Israeli” entity against the will of their people will end up being exploited by the occupying regime.

      Elsewhere in the presser, the Iranian president said the two sides have underlined the need for establishing a durable ceasefire in Yemen, lifting the economic blockade, and facilitating intra-Yemeni talks as the solutions to the existing problem in the impoverished country.

      “Undoubtedly, we consider the continuation of this [Saudi-led] war fruitless and believe that this war has no outcome but the suffering of the people,” Raisi said, emphasizing that ceasefire can be a “step towards resolving issues in Yemen.”

      Saudi Arabia launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in collaboration with its Arab allies and with arms and logistics support from the US and other Western states.

      The objective was to reinstall the Riyadh-friendly regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the Ansarullah resistance movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of a functional government in Yemen.

      While the Saudi-led coalition has failed to meet any of its objectives, the war has killed hundreds of thousands of Yemenis and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

      Kadhimi, for his part, said that during his talks with Iranian officials, the two sides discussed bilateral historical, cultural, and religious relations.

      The Iraqi premier added that Baghdad attaches great importance to its relations with Tehran on the basis of common interests.

      He noted that Iran and Iraq agreed to make further efforts to serve their nations’ interests and boost trade ties.

      Kadhimi said Iran and Iraq also agreed to set a timetable to facilitate the huge annual Arbaeen procession.

      He added that while Iranian pilgrims have already been able to receive visas at Iraqi airports, it is now possible for a specific number of Arbaeen pilgrims to obtain visas through border crossings.

      The Iraqi prime minister said, “We also discussed major regional challenges and agreed to make a joint effort to help establish stability and calm in the region. We also talked about fateful issues facing the regional nations. We decided to support the Yemen ceasefire and agreed to support dialogue in Yemen in order to put an end to a war that has brought a lot of suffering to Yemeni people.”

      Sergey Lavrov’s Presser at a joint news conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran Hossein Amir-Abdollahian

      June 24, 2022

      Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Tehran, June 23, 2022

      Ladies and gentlemen.

      I would like to thank my colleague, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, for the hospitality extended to me and my delegation from the first minutes of my stay on Iranian soil.

      Yesterday’s detailed conversation with President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi and today’s long talks have confirmed both countries’ focus on deepening cooperation in all areas in accordance with the agreements reached by our leaders. I am referring to Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Russia in January 2022 and his subsequent telephone conversations with President Vladimir Putin. The last call took place on June 8.

      The presidents are unanimous that relations between Russia and Iran have reached the highest point in their history. At the same time, there is significant untapped potential for further advancement in our partnership. To this end, work is now underway on a new and comprehensive “big interstate treaty,” initiated by the President of Iran. Some time ago, Russia submitted its proposals and additions to the Iranian initiative to Tehran. Today we agreed that experts should coordinate this important document as soon as possible because it will determine the prospects for our strategic cooperation for the next two decades.

      Particular attention during the talks was paid to trade and economic issues, investment, and the need to expand bilateral relations in a situation where the United States and its “satellites” are using illegal sanctions to hinder our countries’ progressive development and the interaction between Russia and Iran, as well as with other countries that reject diktat and refuse to follow Washington’s orders. Despite this discriminatory policy, trade between Russia and Iran showed a record growth of over 80 percent in 2021, exceeding $4 billion for the first time. This trend continued into 2022. We will do everything we can to support it.

      A Russian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak visited Tehran at the end of May to promote economic cooperation. The delegation included representatives from the relevant ministries and agencies, the heads of Russian regions that cooperate with Iran, and business representatives. They met with their Iranian counterparts to discuss purely practical issues of expanding cooperation, outlining action plans for such areas as energy, transport, agriculture, finance, banking, and customs. At this point, these ambitious goals are being considered at the level of relevant experts.

      We highlighted success in implementing our flagship projects, including  the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (the second and third units being under construction), the Sirik Thermal Power Plant that is being built with the state loans issued by the Russian Federation and a project to upgrade a railway section.

      Just last week, a panel discussion dedicated to the Russian-Iranian business dialogue took place as part of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. A meeting of the intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation will be held soon. As we agreed today, the foreign ministries of Russia and Iran will continue to provide political and diplomatic support to all joint economic undertakings every step of the way.

      In this context, Russia has been facilitating the Iran-EAEU negotiating process that started out in 2021 to develop a free trade agreement. The working group in question will meet in Isfahan in early July.

      We talked about fortifying the contractual and legal framework. Hossain Amir-Abdollahian mentioned an agreement on international cybersecurity and an agreement on creating cultural centres in our countries.

      We also mentioned the importance of moving forward with drafting an agreement on cooperation in geological exploration and oil and gas production, as well as with ratifying the existing agreement on scientific and technical cooperation between our countries.

      We discussed international issues in depth. We stand together in rejecting the concept of the rules-based order that is pushed forward by the United States and its satellites. This concept is designed for use as a substitute for international law and the UN Charter’s basic principles, primarily the principle of sovereign equality of states. Everything that the United States and its allies are doing in the international arena flat-out undermines this fundamental UN principle. Iran and Russia condemn the untenable practice of unilateral illegal sanctions that are imposed contrary to the UN Charter and need to be opposed by all independent members of the international community.

      To this end, the Group of Friends in Defence of the Charter of the United Nations was established which, among others, includes Iran and Russia and has more than 20 members. I’m sure the group will expand.

      On behalf of the Russian Federation, we welcome the official process for Iran joining the SCO as a full member which was launched in 2021. A memorandum will be signed at a SCO summit to be held in Samarkand in September that will clearly lay out the legal scope and timeframe for this process. It should not take long.

      We are convinced that Tehran will make a significant contribution to strengthening the SCO as one of the key centres of the emerging multipolar order.

      We discussed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action designed to settle matters related to the Iranian nuclear programme. In conjunction with other nations that signed this plan, we have been striving for a long time now to correct the mistake made by the United States. Washington withdrew from this deal and from the corresponding UN Security Council resolution, once again trampling upon its commitments under international law. We will push for the JCPOA to be restored in its original configuration, the way it was approved in 2015 by a UN Security Council resolution, without exceptions or additions, to make sure that the illegal sanctions on Iran that are inconsistent with the JCPOA are lifted. We hope Washington will make a rational choice, although we cannot fully rely on that.

      We spoke about our cooperation on a Syrian settlement, primarily in the Astana format that includes Russia, Iran and Turkey. We highly rated the regular session in this format which took place in the capital of Kazakhstan in early June of this year. We agreed to continue coordinating our efforts to achieve the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, resolve humanitarian problems in Syria and encourage the international community to start practical work on restoring the infrastructure, preparing for the return of refugees and in general, ensuring the country’s return to normal life.

      Iran and the Russian Federation are doing much in this area, helping to implement relevant projects on the ground in the Syrian Arab Republic. Unfortunately, the majority of the Western members of the international community are doing everything to delay fulfilment of the requirements of this resolution and impede the efforts of international organisations to this end, primarily the relevant UN agencies. This politicised course of action prevents the settlement of problems in Syria and, zooming out, in the Middle East and North Africa.

      Russia and Iran have a common position on the need to resume direct talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis with a view to implementing all decisions of the international community, including the creation of the State of Palestine and the OIC-approved Arab Peace Initiative. We will uphold this position in the UN and closely cooperate with the OIC and the Arab League.

      We talked about the developments in the South Caucasus, Afghanistan and Yemen. Russia and Iran have many opportunities to use their influence and contacts with a view to achieving a durable settlement and normalisation.

      We reaffirmed our commitment to facilitate stabilisation in the Persian Gulf. As you know, Russia has introduced and continues promoting a concept for collective security in this important part of the world. We are willing to help promote dialogue between the Arab countries and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

      We are members of the Caspian Five. Next week, the Caspian states will meet for a summit in Ashgabat. We coordinated our preparations for this important event.

      Talking yesterday with President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi and today with Foreign Minister of Iran Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, we described in detail the current developments in and around Ukraine. We thanked our Iranian friends for their entirely correct understanding of the events. Above all, they realise that during the past decade our US-led Western colleagues have been trying to turn Ukraine into a bridgehead for threatening and “deterring” Russia, in part, by developing Ukraine’s territory militarily. We repeatedly sought to engage with the West on this matter. All our concerns have been ignored. President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking officials explained many times that Russia simply did not have another choice but to ensure the interests of Donbass and its Russian residents in the face of a threat from the increasingly aggressive neo-Nazi regime that took power in Kiev after the anti-Constitutional coup d’etat. The Kiev authorities and those who put them in power and continue supporting officially refuted all our attempts to achieve the implementation of the Minsk agreements that were approved by the UN Security Council.

      We are convinced that an overwhelming majority of the world’s countries understand the current situation. The Americans are trying to impose a “rules-based order” on all others. This concept is designed to subordinate the security of all countries to the interests of the Western world and ensure the total, “eternal” domination of Washington and its allies. Understandably, this concept goes against the entire historical process and the objective trend towards forming a multipolar world order under which countries, with their independence and self-worth intact, will uphold their interests in conformity with the principles of the UN Charter. The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation are among these countries.

      Question: Given the constructive role played by the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation in the negotiations, they have managed to reach a sustainable agreement on the JCPOA. We see the current sabotage by the United States through the imposition of new sanctions and anti-Iranian resolutions. They are slowing down the process. What is your assessment of Washington’s destructive policy of slowing down the JCPOA negotiating process?

      Sergey Lavrov: Not only on the JCPOA, but on virtually every issue on the international agenda, the United States is totally inconsistent, driven by short-term considerations, glancing back at the problems in the United States itself and how they can try to distract voters from them.

      What the United States is doing in the negotiations to resume the JCPOA is an example of such actions, where the focus is on creating a “picture” designed to reaffirm the unquestioned leadership role of the United States on every issue on the international agenda. Such attempts to put a falsely understood reputation ahead of the merits of the issue are highly risky.

      About a year ago, the United States tried to blame us for the fact that an agreement to fully resume the JCPOA was delayed. That was, to put it mildly, untrue. Everybody understands this very well. A year ago, the Russian Federation, like all the other parties to the agreement, reiterated its readiness to resume it in full. Since then, the United States has been single-handedly stalling the agreement. We have once again confirmed to our Iranian friends that we will support in every way possible their position on the need to resume the JCPOA in full, without any exceptions or unacceptable “add-ons”. This includes lifting all illegitimate sanctions.

      Question (retranslated from Pashto): How close is Russia’s position on the Syrian crisis to that of Iran? Does the warning to Israel about an attack on Damascus International Airport mean that the positions of Iran and Russia are close on this issue?

      Sergey Lavrov: We have repeatedly emphasised the need for all countries to strictly fulfil UN Security Council Resolution 2254 that relies on the basic principle of recognising the territorial integrity of the SAR and the need to respect Syria’s sovereignty.

      During regular contacts with our Israeli colleagues, we constantly draw their attention to the need to stop violating this resolution and the air space of Syria, not to mention striking at its territory.

      To our great regret, the latest incident is serious. It was a strike on a civilian airport, which put it out of service for several weeks and made it impossible to deliver humanitarian cargoes by air.

      We sent a relevant note to Israel, emphasising the need for all countries to abide by Resolution 2254. We will continue upholding this position in our contacts with Israel and other countries that are involved in the Syrian settlement process in different ways.

      You asked my colleague several questions, including one about the food crisis. I would like to emphasise again that there is no connection whatsoever between the special military operation in Ukraine and the food crisis. This is admitted even by US Government members and representatives of the international organisations dealing with food security. The crisis and the conditions for it were created several years ago. It didn’t start today or yesterday, but a couple of years ago when the Western countries embarked on imprudent, ill-considered, populist fiscal policies. President Vladimir Putin spoke about it in detail. I will not describe them at this point. I would merely stress that the efforts undertaken now by Turkey and the UN Secretary-General would have succeeded long ago if Ukraine and its Western patrons demined Black Sea ports. This issue is clear to any specialist. The attempts to establish an international coalition for these procedures are obviously aimed at interfering in the affairs of the Black Sea region under UN aegis. This is perfectly clear to us. There is no need for any complicated procedures. It is simply necessary to allow the ships locked by the Ukrainians in the mined ports of the Black Sea to leave. The main thing is to clear these ports of mines or provide clear passageways for them.

      As for international waters, the Russian Federation guarantees the safe travel of these ships to the Strait of Bosporus. We have an understanding with the Republic of Turkey in this respect.

      I will say again that the attempts to make a “worldwide tragedy” out of the amount of grain that remains in Ukraine are not above board. Everyone knows that this grain amounts to less than one percent of the global production of wheat and other grains.

      Now it is important to compel the Ukrainians to let out the foreign ships that are being held hostage there. There is no need to turn this problem into a diversion to conceal the mistakes and failures of the West in its international policy on the food and fertiliser markets.

      Question (retranslated from Farsi): A fortnight ago you mentioned a new political package from the US side. A week ago, Mr Zadeh said that “the train has not yet gone off the rails” and you said that in the future there was a possibility that negotiations could be resumed. Has anything changed recently?

      Sergey Lavrov: If I understood the translation correctly, cooperation between Russia and Iran in the energy sector has a rich history and good prospects.

      As far as bilateral cooperation is concerned, we have always found solutions to the problems that have arisen in this area because of the illegal actions of the United States and its satellites, who are trying to hinder the development of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s energy sector. At the present stage, they are trying to do the same with regard to oil and gas production and transportation in the Russian Federation. Our bilateral plans under consideration today are starting to take concrete form; they are beginning to be implemented. They are aimed at making sure that they do not depend in any way on the unlawful unilateral intervention of anybody else.

      I can assure you: there is a reliable plan to work in this way. Together with Iran, we have traditionally worked together in the context of international efforts to stabilise the oil and gas market. There is a complete agreement within the OPEC+ group on the need to safeguard Iran’s interests in its future activities. We will be guided by this.

      Question: Israel and the United States have announced a new regional air defence alliance in the Middle East to protect Israel and neighbours from Iranian rockets. How will this affect the Iran nuclear deal? Will Moscow and Tehran intensify military cooperation in this regard?

      Sergey Lavrov: We are following statements made by our American colleagues, who are openly declaring their intention to try and forge a bloc between several Arab countries and Israel and target this new group against the Islamic Republic of Iran. I believe too much has already been said about the inconsistency of American foreign policy. I don’t want to repeat myself. But this idea is obviously at odds with their intention to normalise the situation in the region and resume full implementation of the JCPOA, through the efforts of the United States, if they are sincerely interested in this.

      We prefer less contradictory arrangements, as compared to those the Americans are now promoting in various regions. Take their idea of ​​the Indo-Pacific. It runs counter to every universal format that has developed over the years around ASEAN in the Asia-Pacific region. Those formats included the US, Russia, China, Australia, India, Japan and Korea. It was a process whereby all interests, primarily those of the regional players and their partners, were brought to a common denominator. Instead, having disrupted all the bodies created under the auspices of ASEAN, the Americans are promoting conflict-generating, divisive formats, without hiding that their policy is aimed at restraining China and isolating Russia.

      The same logic is evident in the initiative to create an air and missile defence system in the Middle East. This is the logic of division and confrontation. We prefer unifying logic. The underlying principle of our initiative to build a collective security system in the Persian Gulf region is unification. The system we propose should provide a framework for the Arab countries to establish a dialogue with the Islamic Republic of Iran, work out joint measures of confidence and transparency, and take other steps to ensure stabilisation. Our idea is to involve the permanent members of the UN Security Council, the EU, the Arab League, the UN and the OIC to facilitate these processes. This is an example of how we consistently propose resolving any problems through combining efforts and finding a balance of interests.

      The example we are now discussing, which involves the US initiative in the Middle East, is not a case of finding a balance of interests; it is a case of planting confrontation, and an attempt to create dividing lines that will be there forever. Needless to say, this is a dead-end position. In any case, in the end, everyone will come to understand the need to return to the underlying principles of the United Nations, such as resolving problems through cooperation, and not through the creation of hostile and aggressive blocs.

      Iranian president welcomes Russian FM, warns against NATO expansion

      Establishing channels of cooperation to overcome western sanctions is reportedly high on Lavrov’s agenda

      June 23 2022

      (Photo credit: Agencies)

      ByNews Desk

      Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi welcomed the Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, to Tehran on 22 June for talks on boosting trade and energy cooperation.

      During their conversation, Raisi stressed the need to end the war in Ukraine as soon as possible and expressed Tehran’s willingness to help the two nations find a diplomatic solution. He also warned against the expansionist agenda of NATO.

      “There is no doubt that the US and NATO provocations have been the factor behind these conflicts [in Ukraine], and therefore, it is necessary to be active in the face of attempts to expand NATO’s influence in any part of the world, including in West Asia, the Caucasus and Central Asia,” the Iranian president said.

      This is the first visit by Russia’s top diplomat to the Islamic Republic since Raisi took power in 2021. It comes at a time when the Kremlin is facing sweeping sanctions from the west, overtaking Iran as the most sanctioned nation on the planet.

      Establishing avenues of cooperation despite the existence of sanctions is reportedly a main point in Lavrov’s agenda.

      “Strengthening cooperation and coordination is an effective way to counter US sanctions and economic unilateralism against independent nations,” the Iranian president told Lavrov.

      Tehran and Moscow both have significant oil and gas reserves, but their energy industries are constrained by US sanctions, which limit their ability to export their output.

      According to a report in the Qatari daily Al Araby Al Jadeed, Russian officials visited Iran secretly and publicly in recent months to “benefit from its experience in facing sanctions.”

      On 23 June, the Russian foreign minister is set to meet with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, to discuss the Iran nuclear deal, the war in Ukraine, and cooperation in regional security concerning Syria and Afghanistan.

      Over recent months, Iran has played host to high-ranking officials from sanctioned nations like RussiaVenezuela, and Syria, as part of Raisi’s policy to boost ties with countries faced with economic warfare from the west.

      To this end, Tehran has signed long-term cooperation documents with China and Venezuela, and is in the process of signing another one with Russia.

      This strategy is part of Raisi’s foreign policy agenda of fostering relations with neighboring countries and major non-western powers, known as the Neighborhood Policy.

      Iranians Hold Funeral for IRGC Member Assassinated in Tehran

      May 24, 2022

      Large crowds attend the funeral of the martyr Colonel Sayyad Khodaye in Tehran

      A funeral procession has been held in Tehran to pay tribute to the member of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) assassinated in a terrorist attack in the Iranian capital.

      The attack on Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, which claimed his life, happened in Tehran at around 4 p.m. local time (1130 GMT) on Sunday when two motorcyclists shot him five times while he was in his car, and fled the scene.

      In a statement, the IRGC said the assassination was carried out by “counterrevolutionary elements” adding that necessary measures have been taken to identify and arrest the assailant or assailants.

      On Tuesday, crowd of people along with state and military officials took part in the procession.

      A farewell ceremony was also held on Monday evening in the capital, with Iran’s first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, in attendance.

      Earlier Monday, President Ebrahim Raisi said “the global arrogance” is behind the terrorist act, vowing “definite revenge” for the blood of the martyr.

      The chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Major General Hossein Salami also warned that Iran will take a “harsh” revenge on those who assassinated the colonel.

      Major General Mohammad Baqeri, the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, said the assassination will not go unanswered.

      On Monday, the Islamic Jihad movement in the besieged Gaza Strip said the assassination of Col. Khodaei is reminiscent of what happened to Palestinian resistance leader Fathi Shaqaqi, who was fatally shot six times on October 26, 1995 in front of the Diplomat Hotel in Malta’s northeastern coastal town of Sliema by a hit team composed of two agents working for the Israeli Mossad spy agency.

      The statement sad terrorist attacks against the Muslim Ummah prove the criminal nature of the Tel Aviv regime and its allies as the sworn and worst enemies of Muslims.

      Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, condemned in a post on his Twitter handle the assassination of Col. Khodaei, saying the Islamic Republic will use all its international capacities to bring the assassins to justice.

      Source: Agencies (edited by Al-Manar English Website)

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