Putin’s speech at the Eastern Economic Forum

September 07, 2022

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, Mr Min Aung Hlaing, Mr Pashinyan, Mr Oyun-Erdene, Mr Li Zhanshu, ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to greet all participants and guests of the Eastern Economic Forum. Russia and Vladivostok are again hosting a forum of business leaders, experts, politicians, public figures and members of government from dozens of countries across the world.

As per tradition, the programme of the Eastern Economic Forum includes discussions on the projects and initiatives that are extremely important for the development of the regions in Russia’s Far East and for strengthening Russia’s cooperation and production ties with Asia Pacific countries, both our old, traditional partners and countries that are only developing dialogue with Russia in a broad range of areas and business projects.

Of course, this meeting in Vladivostok is a good opportunity to once again review the situation in the global economy and to exchange views on its main trends and risks.

Last year, the Eastern Economic Forum was held after a long pause caused by the coronavirus pandemic. At that time, the majority of experts agreed that global business activity was beginning to recover and that it would normalise soon after the lifting of the coronavirus restrictions, However, the pandemic has given way to new challenges, global ones that are threatening the world as a whole. I am referring to the Western sanctions frenzy and the open and aggressive attempts to force the Western mode of behaviour on other countries, to extinguish their sovereignty and to bend them to its will. In fact, there is nothing unusual in that: this policy has been pursued by the “collective West” for decades.

The waning dominance of the United States in the global economy and politics, as well as the stubborn unwillingness or even inability of the Western elites to see, let alone recognise objective facts, acted as a catalyst for these processes.

I have already mentioned that the entire system of international relations has recently undergone irreversible, or should I say, tectonic, shifts. Emerging states and regions around the world, primarily, of course, in the Asia-Pacific region, now play a substantially bigger role. Asia-Pacific countries emerged as new centres of economic and technological growth, attracting human resources, capital and manufacturing.

Despite all that, the Western countries are seeking to preserve yesterday’s world order that benefits them and force everyone to live according to the infamous “rules”, which they concocted themselves. They are also the ones who regularly violate these rules, changing them to suit their agenda depending on how things are going at any given moment. At the same time, other countries have not been forthcoming when it comes to subjecting themselves to this dictate and arbitrary rule, forcing the Western elites, to put it bluntly, to lose grip and take short-sighted, irrational decisions on global security, politics, as well as economics. All these decisions run counter to the interests of countries and their people, including, by the way, the people in those Western countries. The gap separating the Western elites from their own citizens is widening.

Europe is about to throw its achievements in building up its manufacturing capability, the quality of life of its people and socioeconomic stability into the sanctions furnace, depleting its potential, as directed by Washington for the sake of the infamous Euro-Atlantic unity. In fact, this amounts to sacrifices in the name of preserving the dominance of the United States in global affairs.

Back in spring, many foreign corporations rushed to announce their withdrawal from Russia, believing that our country will suffer more than others. Today, we see one manufacturing site after another shutting down in Europe itself. One of the key reasons, of course, lies in the severed business ties with Russia.

The competitive ability of European companies is in decline, for the EU officials themselves are essentially cutting them off from affordable commodities and energy, as well as trade markets. It will come as no surprise if eventually the niches currently occupied by European businesses, both on the continent and on the global market in general, will be taken over by their American patrons who know no boundaries or hesitation when it comes to pursuing their interests and achieving their goals.

More than that, in an attempt to obstruct the course of history, Western countries have undermined the pillars of the global economic system, built over centuries. It is in front of our eyes that the dollar, euro and pound sterling have lost trust as currencies suitable for performing transactions, storing reserves and denominating assets. We are taking steps to shed this dependence on unreliable and compromised foreign currencies. By the way, even allies of the United States are gradually reducing their dollar assets, as we can see from statistics. Step by step, the volume of transactions and savings in dollars is diminishing.

I want to note here that yesterday, Gazprom and its Chinese partners decided to switch to 50/50 transactions in rubles and yuan with respect to gas payments.

I want to add that with their short-sighted actions, Western officials have triggered a global inflation. In many developed economies, the inflation rate has reached a record-high level that had not been seen in many years.

Everybody is aware of this but I will reiterate: as of late July, inflation in the United States reached 8.5 percent. Russia has just over 14 percent (I will speak about this further) but it is declining, unlike in Western economies. The inflation there is on the rise, and in our country it is declining. I believe that as of the end of the year, we will have around 12 percent and, as many of our experts think, in the first quarter or by the second quarter of 2023, we will most likely reach the target inflation rate. Some say it will be 5–6 percent. Others say it will go down to 4 percent. We will see. In any case, the trend is positive. Meanwhile, what is happening with our neighbours? The inflation in Germany has reached 7.9 percent, in Belgium 9.9 percent, in the Netherlands 12 percent, Latvia 20.8 percent, Lithuania 21.1 percent and Estonia 25.2 percent. And it is still on the rise.

Rising prices in the global markets can be a real tragedy for most of the poorest countries, which are facing shortages of food, energy, and other vital goods. I will cite a few figures that underline the danger: while in 2019, according to the UN, 135 million people in the world were facing acute food insecurity, their number has soared by 2.5 times to 345 million by now – this is just horrible. Moreover, the poorest states have completely lost access to the most essential foods as developed countries are buying up the entire supply, causing a sharp increase in prices.

Let me give you an example. Most of the ships – you all know very well how high passions have been running, how much has been said about the need to facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain at all costs, to support the poorest countries. And we certainly had no other choice but to respond, despite all the complicated developments taking place around Ukraine. We did everything to ensure that Ukrainian grain was exported, and we certainly assumed – I met with the leaders of the African Union, with the leaders of African states and I promised them that we would make every effort to uphold their interests and would facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain.

Russia did it together with Turkiye. We did it. And I would like to report the result to you, colleagues: if we exclude Turkiye as an intermediary, all the grain exported from Ukraine, almost in its entirety, went to the European Union, not to the developing and poorest countries. Only two ships delivered grain under the UN World Food Programme – the very programme that is supposed to help countries that need help the most – only two ships out of 87 – I emphasise – transported 60,000 tonnes out of 2 million tonnes of food. That’s just 3 percent, and it went to the developing countries.

What I am saying is, many European countries today continue to act as colonisers, exactly as they have been doing in previous decades and centuries. Developing countries have simply been cheated yet again and continue to be cheated.

It is obvious that with this approach, the scale of food problems in the world will only increase. Unfortunately, to our great regret, this could lead to an unprecedented humanitarian disaster, and perhaps, exporters need to think about limiting their exports of grain and other food to this destination. I will certainly consult with President of Turkiye, Mr Erdogan, because together with him we were the ones who developed a mechanism for the export of Ukrainian grain, primarily, I repeat, to help the poorest countries. But what happened in practice?

I would like to stress once again that this situation has been caused by the reckless steps taken by the United States, the UK and the European Union, which are obsessed with illusory political ideas. As for the wellbeing of their own citizens, let alone people outside the so-called golden billion, they have been pushing it to the backburner. This will inevitably lead Western countries into a deadlock, an economic and social crisis, and will have unpredictable consequences for the whole world.

Colleagues,

Russia is coping well with the economic, financial and technological aggression of the West. I am talking about a real aggression; there is no other word for it. Russia’s currency and financial market has stabilised, inflation is going down, as I have already mentioned, and the unemployment rate is at an all-time historical low of less than 4 percent. The assessments and forecasts of our economic performance, including by businesspeople, are more optimistic now than in early spring.

I would like to say that our economic situation has stabilised overall, but we also see a number of problems in some sectors, regions and individual enterprises, especially those that relied on supplies from Europe or supplied their products there.

It is important to continue working with businesses to take prompt decisions and launch effective targeted support mechanisms. I would like to ask the Government Commission to Increase the Sustainability of the Russian Economy under the Sanctions to keep track of the situation. It is true that we are doing this almost on a daily basis. Nevertheless, despite the evidence of stabilisation I have mentioned, we are also aware of the risks and so we must keep an eye on them.

Russia is a sovereign state. We will always protect our national interests while pursuing an independent policy, and we also appreciate this quality among our partners, who have demonstrated their reliability and responsible attitude in the course of our trade, investment and other types of cooperation over many years. I am referring, as you are aware, to our colleagues from the Asia Pacific countries.

An absolute majority of Asia Pacific countries reject the destructive logic of sanctions. Their business relations are focused on mutual advantage, cooperation and the joint use of our economic capabilities to the benefit of our countries’ citizens. This adds up to a huge competitive advantage of the regional countries and a guarantee of their dynamic long-term development, which has been growing faster than the world’s average for a long time.

You are aware of this, but I would like to remind everyone that over the past 10 years Asian countries’ GDP has been increasing by approximately 5 percent every year, while the figure is 3 percent in the world, 2 percent in the US and 1.2 percent in the EU. But it is even more important that this trend persists. What will this ultimately lead to? As a result, the share of Asian economies in global GDP will grow from 37.1 percent in 2015 to 45 percent in 2027, and I am sure that this trend will persist.

It is important for Russia that the economy of the Russian Far East grows together with Asia Pacific economies, that this region provide modern living conditions, boost people’s incomes and well-being, and that it create high-quality jobs and cost-effective production facilities.

We have already tested unique national tax, administrative and customs privileges in the Far East. They help implement landmark projects, even by global standards, in such fields as natural gas conversion and the shipbuilding sector, bioengineering technologies and clean energy.

In the past seven years, industrial production volumes in the Far East have increased by about 25 percent. This exceeds nationwide levels by one third. I want to stress this: growth rates of industrial production in the Far East greatly exceed similar nationwide growth rates.

We will continue to promote the priority development of the Far Eastern regions by using new advanced state support measures and by creating the best and highly competitive business environment. For example, we intend to continue adjusting the mechanism of priority development areas for modern and joint projects with other countries, to create the best possible business climate for attracting the most advanced technologies to Russia and for manufacturing high value-added goods in the Far East.

Events of this year confirm the special significance of such a factor as accessible and affordable raw materials without which it is impossible to organise any production process or to set up co-production chains. Russia is just about the only country that is completely self-sufficient in terms of natural resources, and the Far East plays a substantial role here. This region is a highly important supplier of crude oil and natural gas, coal, metals, timber and marine biological resources to the domestic market and our foreign partners.

We are staking on the prudent and rational development of Russia’s natural riches under the most stringent environmental standards. First of all, we will refine all extracted raw materials domestically as much as possible. We will also use these raw materials to strengthen the sovereignty of this country, to ensure industrial security, to raise incomes and to develop the regions.

We have already protected the resource extraction industry from unfriendly actions. From now on, only companies with Russian jurisdiction have the right to develop natural resources in Russia.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment together with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and leading business associations has determined the national economy’s demand for strategic raw materials. This information will become the foundation of the revised Strategy for the Development of Russia’s Mineral Resources Base with an extended planning horizon up to 2050.

At the same time, special focus should be placed on geological exploration and processing of rare raw materials (such as titanium, manganese, lithium, and niobium), which are used in metallurgy, medical and chemical industries, microelectronics, aircraft manufacturing and other industries, as well as in new energy storage and transmission technologies.

I would like to separately ask the Government to have a look at the bioresources harvesting sphere, where we have a mechanism of investment quotas. Here, it is important to achieve balanced growth and full utilisation of production capacities, as well as to ensure the harmonious development of the regions’ infrastructure.

I would like to stress that the funds the state receives from the utilisation of water bioresources must above all be allocated for developing the infrastructure of rural areas, employment support, and increasing incomes of local residents. I ask the Government to take specific measures on this. We have discussed this many times.

Next, over the past years Russia has implemented big plans for the development of transport infrastructure, railways and roads, seaports and pipelines. These timely decisions have made it possible for businesses to quickly rebuild logistics in today’s conditions, and redirect cargo flows to those countries that are ready and willing to trade with Russia and prefer civilised and predictable business relations.

It is noteworthy that despite the attempts of external pressure, the total cargo of Russian seaports has only slightly decreased over the seven months of this year; it has remained at the same level as a year earlier, which is about 482 million tonnes of cargo. Last year there were 483 million, so the figure is practically the same.

At the same time, Far Eastern ports are seeing a real logistics boom. The volume of cargo transhipment and container handling is such that specialists are working 24/7 to handle the workload. In a word, no matter how much someone might like to isolate Russia, it is impossible to do it, as we have always said so. It is enough just to look at the map.

We will use natural competitive advantages to build up our further transport capabilities, expand the road and railway network, build new access roads to sea terminals and expand their capacity.

I mentioned earlier that our focus is on building the eastward infrastructure and developing the North-South international corridor and ports of the Azov-Black Sea basin which we will keep working on. They will open up more opportunities for Russian companies to enter the markets of Iran, India, the Middle East and Africa and, of course, for reciprocal deliveries from these countries.

The total volume of freight and cargo transportation along these routes and arteries will be able to grow by about 60 percent by 2030. We are absolutely realistic about our predictions, and this is how it will be. To achieve these numbers, the Government has drafted specific “roadmaps” in the three areas I outlined earlier, which will enable us to make this work consistent, consolidate and coordinate our efforts in terms of deadlines and capacity to break up the bottlenecks and upgrade border checkpoints and related infrastructure.

In addition to our plans to expand transport corridors, it is important to put in place new rolling stock and railway traction vehicles, to provide Russian shipyards with orders for modern high-quality tankers, dry cargo ships and container vessels, including ice-class ships, for the further expansion of the Northern Sea Route as a potent transport corridor of national and global importance with, I want to stress this, year-round navigation. The state-of-the-art icebreakers that we are designing and building make it possible for us to do this already now.

This year, a container vessel made its first run between Murmansk and Kamchatka along the Northern Sea Route to reaffirm the reliability and safety of shipping operations in the Arctic zone.

Notably, the point is not just about authorising the passage of ships in the Arctic or simply connecting two destinations. What we need to do is make sure that ships are properly serviced and cargo is properly handled at each port along the route, and the traffic schedule is sustainable, predictable and reliable. Then, every Northern Sea Route waypoint and region will benefit from the logistics corridor. That is what we should be striving for.

The Government has approved a development plan for the Northern Sea Route until 2035 with plans to allocate 1.8 trillion rubles from various sources to implement it. As forecasted, the cargo traffic along this corridor will go from the current 35 million tonnes per year to the targeted 220 million tonnes per year.

The availability of freight vehicles is certainly a key factor in the transportation of goods to and from the Russian Far East. This means we need to offer economically justified and competitive freight rates. I am asking the Government to study all these issues carefully.

Aviation is a special issue for the Far East. Here, the availability of flights from the European part of Russia to the Far East is not the only issue, but connectivity between the Far Eastern regions themselves also matters – air services should cover as many destinations, cities and regions of the Far East as possible.

That is why we have established a single Far Eastern airline. It offers almost 390 destinations, some of them subsidised by the state. In the next three years, this airline’s traffic should increase, and the number of destinations will exceed 530. And as we could see after those flights were opened, these destinations are in great demand.

To implement these plans, we need to expand the company’s fleet, to make sure it has modern aircraft, including small aircraft. A decision has been made in this regard, and I ask the Government to strictly implement it.

I would like to note that in general, Russian air carriers will soon be thoroughly re-equipped. Our airlines, including Aeroflot, have placed the largest order package in modern history, for about 500 Russian-made mainline aircraft. By the way, as far as I know, the United Aircraft Corporation and Aeroflot have signed a respective agreement on the sidelines of this Eastern Economic Forum, and the figures in there are quite impressive – over a trillion, I think.

This high demand should become a powerful incentive for aircraft factories and design bureaux, for many related industries, including electronics and aircraft components, and, of course, for the schools training professional personnel including engineers and skilled blue-collar workers in the aviation industry.

I would like to add that a decision has been made on another sensitive issue for the Far East. I am referring to the development of air medical services and increasing the availability of medical care for people living in remote areas. Starting next year, we will more than double federal funding for these purposes, which means that the number of flights will also increase, and there will be faster and better provision of healthcare in the region.

Friends, colleagues,

All our decisions involving the economy and social sphere, all the mechanisms that we are implementing in the Far East have the same important purpose – to make this region a truly attractive place for living, studying, working, for starting families, to ensure that more children are born.

Several important initiatives in this regard have been included in the package of measures that the Government is now considering. One of them is to create an up-to-date environment for living, to improve the local cities and towns.

Let me remind you that at the last forum, we set a task to develop master plans for the development of the largest Far Eastern cities. These include all administrative centres of the regions, and cities with a population of over 50,000 people, as well as Tynda and Severobaikalsk, the key stations on the Baikal-Amur Mainline railway.

We had in mind an integrated approach to the development of communities, where plans for the modernisation of infrastructure, social facilities, and creation of public spaces and so on would be combined competently and conveniently, and economic and industrial projects would rely on thoroughly calculated business models.

In all cities, the initial task was to make strategic development plans. Master plans are already being actively developed on the basis of those strategic plans in 17 cities and metropolitan areas. One of them has to do with the development of the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky urban area, and the day before yesterday, we discussed this issue with our colleagues on the spot. Once again, I ask the Government to provide maximum assistance in implementing this and other master plans in order to have them unconditionally implemented.

Here, among other things, it is important to use tools such as the Far Eastern concession, the government’s infrastructure loans and infrastructure bonds. It is necessary to determine target limits for the Far East in these programmes. The funds should be used for urban development and improvement, and of course, for infrastructure, including the upgrade of existing networks and connections to utilities.

I would like to add that at the recent St Petersburg Economic Forum, I instructed the Government to allocate an additional 10 billion rubles annually for improvement projects in Russian cities. I think it would be right to channel half of this financing, that is, 5 billion a year, towards upgrading Far Eastern cities and towns with populations below 250,000.

Separate resources should also be allocated under all our main infrastructure development programmes for projects to modernise Far Eastern cities. I have already given such an instruction, and I ask you to ensure its implementation as quickly as possible. Target limits should be stipulated in the federal budget for the next three years.

Something else I would like to stress – we need to increase the volume of housing construction in the Far East, while also widely applying the most advanced ‘green’ and energy-efficient construction technologies.

This year, the Far Eastern Quarters programme was launched. Under this programme, developers will be able to take advantage of priority development areas, including tax and infrastructure benefits, which will reduce the cost of flats and the price of finished housing. This will increase the availability of housing for people. The plan is to build about 2.5 million square metres of housing by 2030 using this cost-reduction mechanism. I ask the regional authorities and the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East to hold the first tenders by the end of the year, to select developers and start designing and developing the residential buildings.

Next, the Far Eastern residents are entitled to special, preferential mortgage terms. As many as 48,000 families have already purchased new housing using mortgages with a rate of 2 percent. This year, we have expanded the Far Eastern mortgage programme so that doctors and teachers, regardless of their age, can apply for it along with young Far Easterners.

Let me remind you that the programme is planned until 2024. But given the demand and efficacy – and this programme is working effectively – I propose extending it until at least 2030. I hope that the Far Eastern residents will also appreciate this.

(Applause.)

A separate decision concerns the support of young professionals who come to the Far East or graduate from local educational institutions, get a job and consider local accommodation. As many as 10,000 rental apartments will be built for them. The rental rate will be significantly below the market level due to subsidies from the regional and federal budgets. The Government has already envisaged such a measure. I ask you to work out all the details in order to start building rental housing for young professionals without delay. And I would like to specifically point out that the location of this housing should be included in the development master plans for Far Eastern cities, which means all the necessary infrastructure should be available – in short, such accommodation should be convenient and enjoy demand.

I would like to note that the Far Eastern regions, like many other regions of the Russian Federation, are experiencing a shortage of workers today. We will also take several important steps to intensify personnel training in key competencies. Over 900 modern workshops will be opened in Far Eastern colleges by 2030, and in the near future, until the end of 2025, we will launch 29 production and educational clusters. In addition, businesses will receive compensation for employing young workers.

Another important area is improving the quality of higher education in the Russian Far East. The goal is to attract qualified instructors, upgrade facilities and equipment in higher education institutions, and provide grants to stimulate academic research and prospective developments in the crucial areas of the technological agenda.

There are network programmes for Far Eastern universities that connect education institutions in the region with the country’s leading universities such as St Petersburg State Marine Technical University, Moscow Aviation Institute and others. We will undoubtedly support this area of cooperation.

Finally, branches of the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts (GITIS), the National State Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) and the Boris Shchukin Theatre Institute will open in 2025 in the Russian Far East to train cultural and art workers. I would like to ask the Government to provide all necessary assistance.

I would like to note that the Far Eastern regions offer their own professional development initiatives. For example, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives in the Sakhalin Region supports a pilot project called Earning Money Together. Participants in the project will be able to undergo free additional training, receive career guidance and get help with starting a business. Based on the outcome of these pilot projects we will think about scaling up.

I also want to mention a training programme for a new generation of managers in the Far East. The programme focuses on cultivating a local pool of talent, and on integrating study programmes and internships in public offices and development institutions. This programme is already running and I suggest that the heads of all regions in the Far Eastern Federal District get involved.

Colleagues, I want to conclude my remarks by stressing once again that the modern global economy and the entire system of international relations is going through challenges. However, I believe that the logic of cooperation, aligning the potentials and mutual benefits that our countries and our friends in the region adhere to, will prevail no matter what. By reasonably taking advantage of the competitive sides and strengths of the Asia-Pacific countries, by creating constructive partnerships we will open new colossal opportunities for our peoples. We are ready to work together for the sake of a successful future. And we are grateful to our partners for participating in this work.

Thank you.

Ukraine: Somewhere between Afghanization and Syrianization

Ukraine is finished as a nation – neither side will rest in this war. The only question is whether it will be an Afghan or Syrian style finale.

August 30 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Pepe Escobar

One year after the astounding US humiliation in Kabul – and on the verge of another serious comeuppance in Donbass – there is reason to believe Moscow is wary of Washington seeking vengeance: in the form of the ‘Afghanization’ of Ukraine.

With no end in sight to western weapons and finance flowing into Kiev, it must be recognized that the Ukrainian battle is likely to disintegrate into yet another endless war. Like the Afghan jihad in the 1980s which employed US-armed and funded guerrillas to drag Russia into its depths, Ukraine’s backers will employ those war-tested methods to run a protracted battle that can spill into bordering Russian lands.

Yet this US attempt at crypto-Afghanization will at best accelerate the completion of what Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu describes as the “tasks” of its Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine. For Moscow right now, that road leads all the way to Odessa.

It didn’t have to be this way. Until the recent assassination of Darya Dugina at Moscow’s gates, the battlefield in Ukraine was in fact under a ‘Syrianization’ process.

Like the foreign proxy war in Syria this past decade, frontlines around significant Ukrainian cities had roughly stabilized. Losing on the larger battlefields, Kiev had increasingly moved to employ terrorist tactics. Neither side could completely master the immense war theater at hand. So the Russian military opted to keep minimal forces in battle – contrary to the strategy it employed in 1980s Afghanistan.

Let’s remind ourselves of a few Syrian facts: Palmyra was liberated in March 2016, then lost and retaken in 2017. Aleppo was liberated only in December 2016. Deir Ezzor in September 2017. A slice of northern Hama in December and January 2018. The outskirts of Damascus in the Spring of 2018. Idlib – and significantly, over 25 percent of Syrian territory – are still not liberated. That tells a lot about rhythm in a war theater.

The Russian military never made a conscious decision to interrupt the multi-channel flow of western weapons to Kiev. Methodically destroying those weapons once they’re in Ukrainian territory – with plenty of success – is another matter. The same applies to smashing mercenary networks.

Moscow is well aware that any negotiation with those pulling the strings in Washington – and dictating all terms to puppets in Brussels and Kiev – is futile. The fight in Donbass and beyond is a do or die affair.

So the battle will go on, destroying what’s left of Ukraine, just as it destroyed much of Syria. The difference is that economically, much more than in Syria, what’s left of Ukraine will plunge into a black void. Only territory under Russian control will be rebuilt, and that includes, significantly, the bulk of Ukraine’s industrial infrastructure.

What’s left – rump Ukraine – has already been plundered anyway, as Monsanto, Cargill and Dupont have already bagged 17 million hectares of prime, fertile arable land – over half of what Ukraine still possesses. That translates de facto as BlackRock, Blackstone and Vanguard, top agro-business shareholders, owning whatever lands that really matter in non-sovereign Ukraine.

Going forward, by next year the Russians will be applying themselves to cutting off Kiev from NATO weapons supplies. As that unfolds, the Anglo-Americans will eventually move whatever puppet regime remains to Lviv. And Kiev terrorism – conducted by Bandera worshippers – will continue to be the new normal in the capital.

The Kazakh double game

By now it’s abundantly clear this is not a mere war of territorial conquest. It’s certainly part of a War of Economic Corridors – as the US spares no effort to sabotage and smash the multiple connectivity channels of Eurasia’s integration projects, be they Chinese-led (Belt and Road Initiative, BRI) or Russian-led (Eurasian Economic Union, EAEU).

Just like the proxy war in Syria remade large swathes of West Asia (witness, for instance, Erdogan about to meet Assad), the fight in Ukraine, in a microcosm, is a war for the reconfiguration of the current world order, where Europe is a mere self-inflicted victim in a minor subplot. The Big Picture is the emergence of multipolarity.

The proxy war in Syria lasted a decade, and it’s not over yet. The same may happen to the proxy war in Ukraine. As it stands, Russia has taken an area that is roughly equivalent to Hungary and Slovakia combined. That’s still far from “task” fulfillment – and it’s bound to go on until Russia has taken all the land right up to the Dnieper as well as Odessa, connecting it to the breakaway Republic of Transnistria.

It’s enlightening to see how important Eurasian actors are reacting to such geopolitical turbulence. And that brings us to the cases of Kazakhstan and Turkey.

The Telegram channel Rybar (with over 640k followers) and hacker group Beregini revealed in an investigation that Kazakhstan was selling weapons to Ukraine, which translates as de facto treason against their own Russian allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Consider too that Kazakhstan is also part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the EAEU, the two hubs of the Eurasian-led multipolar order.

As a consequence of the scandal, Kazakhstan was forced to officially announce the suspension of all weapons exports until the end of 2023.

It began with hackers unveiling how Technoexport – a Kazakh company – was selling armed personnel carriers, anti-tank systems and munitions to Kiev via Jordanian intermediaries, under the orders of the United Kingdom. The deal itself was supervised by the British military attaché in Nur-Sultan, the Kazakh capital.

Nur-Sultan predictably tried to dismiss the allegations, arguing that Technoexport had not asked for export licenses. That was essentially false: the Rybar team discovered that Technoexport instead used Blue Water Supplies, a Jordanian firm, for those. And the story gets even juicier. All the contract documents ended up being found in the computers of Ukrainian intel.

Moreover, the hackers found out about another deal involving Kazspetsexport, via a Bulgarian buyer, for the sale of Kazakh Su-27s, airplane turbines and Mi-24 helicopters. These would have been delivered to the US, but their final destination was Ukraine.

The icing on this Central Asian cake is that Kazakhstan also sells significant amounts of Russian – not Kazakh – oil to Kiev.

So it seems that Nur-Sultan, perhaps unofficially, somehow contributes to the ‘Afghanization’ in the war in Ukraine. No diplomatic leaks confirm it, of course, but bets can be made Putin had a few things to say about that to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in their recent – cordial – meeting.

The Sultan’s balancing act

Turkey is a way more complex case. Ankara is not a member of the SCO, the CSTO or the EAEU. It is still hedging its bets, calculating on which terms it will join the high-speed rail of Eurasian integration. And yet, via several schemes, Ankara allows Moscow to evade the avalanche of western sanctions and embargoes.

Turkish businesses – literally all of them with close connections to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) – are making a killing, and relishing their new role as crossroads warehouse between Russia and the west. It’s an open boast in Istanbul that what Russia cannot buy from Germany or France they buy “from us.” And in fact several EU companies are in on it.

Ankara’s balancing act is as sweet as a good baklava. It gathers    economic support from a very important partner right in the middle of the endless, very serious Turkish economic debacle. They agree on nearly everything: Russian gas, S-400 missile systems, the building of the Russian nuclear power plant, tourism – Istanbul is crammed with Russians – Turkish fruits and vegetables.

Ankara-Moscow employ sound textbook geopolitics. They play it openly, in full transparence. That does not mean they are allies. It’s just pragmatic business between states. For instance, an economic response may alleviate a geopolitical problem, and vice-versa.

Obviously the collective west has completely forgotten how that normal state-to-state behavior works. It’s pathetic. Turkey gets “denounced” by the west as traitorous – as much as China.

Of course Erdogan also needs to play to the galleries, so every once in a while he says that Crimea should be retaken by Kiev. After all, his companies also do business with Ukraine – Bayraktar drones and otherwise.

And then there’s proselytizing: Crimea remains theoretically ripe for Turkish influence, where Ankara may exploit the notions of pan-Islamism and mostly pan-Turkism, capitalizing on the historical relations between the peninsula and the Ottoman Empire.

Is Moscow worried? Not really. As for those Bayraktar TB2s sold to Kiev, they will continue to be relentlessly reduced to ashes. Nothing personal. Just business.

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

Erdogan Asks Russia to Return the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine: Who Does Turkey Support?

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

Yoselina Guevara Lopez

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently pointed out in a video message that “The return of Crimea to Ukraine, of which it is an inseparable part, is essentially a requirement of international law”, statements he made within the framework of the second international summit of the Crimean Platform. Erdogan added that “ensuring the safety and well-being of our Crimean Tatar compatriots is also among Turkey’s priorities”.  The president again called for the release of Nariman Dzhelyal, deputy speaker of the Crimean Tatar “parliament”, and at least 45 other Tatars who remain detained on the peninsula.

The Crimean Platform Summit, which Kiev held online,  bringing together the leaders of Western countries, more strongly maintained its anti-Russian character this year, without losing one iota of the characteristics with which last year Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described it as a witches’ meeting (Sabbat, coven) in which “the West will continue to cultivate the neo-nazi and racist sentiments of the current Ukrainian authorities.”

For this reason the position of the skilled politician that is Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not surprising. In fact, since the beginning of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, Ankara has been able to play with two hands, maintaining a balance between the West, represented by the United States and its NATO allies, and the Russian Federation. It is precisely this quality of expert balancing act that has led it to play the role of mediator because Turkey has powerful interests on both sides of the conflict.

At the level of Moscow, Ankara is one of the main commercial partners of the gas giant Gazprom, with which it has established a series of agreements for energy supplies from the Russian Federation. For example, in 2021 Russia supplied Turkey with 5 million 800 thousand cubic meters of gas. Moscow has also sold Ankara the famous S-400 missile systems. On the other hand, if we analyze Turkey’s relationship with the West, it cannot be overlooked that since 1952, Ankara has been a member of NATO, and hosts numerous bases, including the Incirlik Air Base which has served as a command base for NATO operations in the Middle East. There is no doubt that for NATO, staying on Turkish territory gives it a geostrategic advantage. As for the migration problem, Ankara functions as a containment wall for the numerous migrants seeking to enter Europe through the Balkan Route.

But Turkey, independently of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, has other objectives on the table that indirectly affect what happens between Kiev-Moscow. In the Balkans, for example, Erdogan wants to start bilateral collaboration with Belgrade, especially in the area of arms exports, which on the one hand, will allow modernizing the Serbian armed forces and, on the other hand, will give Turkey the opportunity to exercise a greater presence, both military and of its war industry, in the heart of Europe; with a turnover that, according to some analysts, would be close to 15 million euros. Just as it is no secret that Turkey also wants to expand its sphere of influence and investments towards Asia; the decisions it has taken amply demonstrate this willingness to expand diplomatic and political relations with this area. It is no coincidence that Ankara has made huge investments with the aim of being able to connect Central Asia with Anatolia through major infrastructures: railroads, ports in the Caspian Sea and energy facilities, through Kazakhstan to China, which can reinforce its role as an energy hub.

If Erdogan succeeds in his role as mediator, he will gain international recognition as a “peacemaker” or “the one who achieved world peace”, which could mean that Erdogan will continue to play his role as a mediator in the coming days. This could mean for Erdogan, in addition to going down in history, being rid, once and for all,  of the image of dictator placed on him after he imposed strict policies against dissidents of his government in 2013, without disdaining all his warlike wanderings in different places. The chessboard is still open, the game has not been closed, the political players are still moving the pieces.


Yoselina Guevara L.(@lopez_yoselina)is an international policy political analyst, correspondent and recipient of the Simón Bolívar 2022 National Journalism Award (Opinion) and Anibal Nazoa 2021 (Venezuela).

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

أنقرة تُغضب جماعاتها: خطوة أولى نحو دمشق

السبت 13 آب 2022

خرجت الإضرابات في بعض مناطق الشمال السوري عن السيطرة بعد إحراق العلم التركي (أ ف ب)

 علاء حلبي 

لم يخرج مولود جاويش أوغلو، في تصريحاته الأخيرة حول محادثاته مع فيصل المقداد، عن المؤشّرات التي ما فتئت أنقرة تبعث بها في الآونة الأخيرة، حول رغبتها في الانفتاح التدريجي على دمشق، بهدف إيجاد حلول لأزمة اللاجئين وتحقيق مكاسب ميدانية، يمكن رجب طيب إردوغان تجييرُها لمصلحته في الانتخابات الرئاسية. وعلى رغم أن تلك التصريحات أثارت موجة غضب ورفض في الشمال السوري، قادتها أطراف عدّة تجمع في ما بينها المصلحة في بقاء الوضع القائم، إلّا أن تركيا بدت راغبة في ضبط الشارع بما يتوافق مع تكتيكاتها السياسية، وفي الوقت نفسه استثماره في الضغط على شريكَي «أستانا»، موسكو وطهران، ومِن خَلفهما دمشق


خلال مؤتمر صحافي لوزير الخارجية التركي، مولود جاويش أوغلو، وفي ردّه على سؤال يتعلّق بالأوضاع في سوريا، أجاب رأس هرم الدبلوماسية التركية باستفاضة، شارحاً موقف بلاده من الانفتاح على دمشق، والذي وضع له شروطاً متّصلة بـ«الحرب على الإرهاب»، في إشارة إلى «قسد» التي تَراها أنقرة امتداداً لحزب «العمال الكردستاني»، مشيراً في الوقت ذاته إلى الاقتناع الذي بات مترسّخاً لدى تركيا بضرورة إجراء ما سمّاه «مصالحة» بين الحكومة والمعارضة لضمان وحدة الأراضي السورية. أوغلو أشار أيضاً، في سياق حديثه، إلى «لقاء عابر على الواقف» أجراه مع وزير الخارجية السوري، فيصل المقداد، على هامش اجتماع مجموعة دول «حركة عدم الانحياز» في بلغراد، في تشرين الأول من العام الماضي، نافياً وجود أيّ تواصل مباشر بين الرئيسَين التركي رجب طيب إردوغان، والسوري بشار الأسد، مفنّداً بذلك شائعات أطلقتها وسائل إعلام مرتبطة بحزب «العدالة والتنمية» الحاكم في تركيا بهذا الخصوص، كانت قد نفتها دمشق أيضاً. غير أنه عاد وأكد أن موسكو تدفع في الاتّجاه المذكور، والذي تريد تركيا، في المقابل، أن يبدأ بلقاءات أمنية في الوقت الحالي، تتركّز، بحسب ما يُفهَم من كلامه، على «اتفاقية أضنة» المُوقَّعة عام 1998 بين سوريا وتركيا.
ولم يكد الوزير التركي ينتهي من تصريحاته، حتى بدأت تَظهر دعوات في الشمال السوري إلى الخروج في تظاهرات رافضة لها، تحت عناوين عديدة؛ أبرزها «لا للصلح». على إثر ذلك، شهدت مناطق عدّة تسيطر عليها فصائل تابعة لأنقرة، وأخرى في إدلب التي تَحكمها «هيئة تحرير الشام»، تظاهرات تخلّلتها – في ريف حلب الشمالي – عمليات إحراق للعلم التركي، وهتافات مناوئة لأنقرة. وأفادت مصادر ميدانية، «الأخبار»، بأن هذه التظاهرات خرجت لدوافع عديدة، بعضها شخصي يتعلّق بوجود تيّارات رافضة لأيّ انفتاح على دمشق، وبعضها الآخر مرتبط بجهات بعينها لا ترغب في تغيير الوضع القائم، من بينها صناعيون وتجّار يملكون استثمارات عديدة ويستفيدون من ارتباط مناطقهم بالاقتصاد التركي، وبعضها الثالث تقف وراءه تيّارات تابعة لـ«الإخوان المسلمين»، الذين بدأ نشاطهم يطفو على السطح في أعقاب عمليات إعادة هيكلة قامت بها تركيا لـ«الائتلاف» المعارض، قلّصت بموجبها حضورهم داخله.

تزامنت حركة الإضرابات في الشمال السوري مع ظهور موجة رفض للسلطة الأمنية التي تفرضها تركيا


وجاءت موجة الاحتجاج الجديدة تلك، بالتزامن مع ظهور بوادر تمرّد على السلطة الأمنية التي تفرضها تركيا في الشمال، تجلّت في عمليات شطب لعبارات مؤيّدة لأنقرة، واستبدال أخرى بها ترَفض هذه التبعية، وهو ما أعقبته حملة أمنية ألقت خلالها الفصائل القبض على عدد من الأشخاص، وعمّمت أسماء آخرين، بتهمة «الإساءة لتركيا». ويبدو أن حركة الإضرابات هذه خرجت عن السيطرة في بعض المواقع، وخصوصاً بعد إحراق العلم التركي، والذي استنفرت أنقرة على إثره قادة الفصائل وبعض المؤثّرين في الشارع من أجل استنكار الواقعة بوصْف المحروق «راية مقدسة»، والدعوة إلى احترام «التضحيات التركية والعلاقة المتينة مع أنقرة». كما أصدر «المجلس الإسلامي»، الذراع الدينية لأنقرة في الشمال، بياناً اتّهم فيه «مندسّين» بالوقوف وراء ما سمّاه «حرْف الأمر عن مساره وتهديد مصالح الثورة». وفي السياق نفسه، كشفت المصادر الميدانية أن اجتماعاً عقده مسؤولون أمنيون وعسكريون أتراك، مع قادة بعض الفصائل في ريف حلب الشمالي، أبلغوا فيه الأخيرين ضرورة منع انزلاق الشارع إلى معاداة تركيا، بشتّى السبل، ومن بينها اعتقال الأشخاص «المسيئين»، مُتوقّعة اعتقال مَن أحرقوا العلم وردّدوا شعارات مناوئة لأنقرة بتهم عدّة؛ من بينها «الإساءة لتركيا»، و«إلحاق الضرر بالمال العام»، ولا سيما مع انتشار فيديو الإحراق في وسائل الإعلام التركية، وإثارته مخاوف من موجات عنف جديدة ضدّ اللاجئين السوريين في تركيا. وعلى عكْس حالة الانفلات التي ظهرت في مناطق سيطرة الفصائل، لم تشهد إدلب، التي يُحكِم أبو محمد الجولاني سيطرته عليها، أيّ حوادث تُذكر، في ما من شأنه أن يضيف نقطة إضافية إلى رصيد الجولاني الذي ترغب أنقرة في توحيد مناطق نفوذها تحت سيطرته.
بالتوازي مع ذلك، وفي محاولة لتخفيف حدّة الاحتقان، وفي الوقت نفسه استثمار حركة الشارع في الضغط على دمشق، خرج المتحدّث باسم الخارجية التركية، تانجو بيلجيتش، ببيان لتفسير تصريحات أوغلو، ذكر فيه أن تركيا أدت دوراً رائداً في الحفاظ على وقف إطلاق النار، وإنشاء «اللجنة الدستورية» من خلال عمليّتَي أستانا وجنيف، وقدّمت الدعم الكامل للمعارضة ولجنة التفاوض في العملية السياسية، مُحمِّلاً دمشق مسؤولية عرقلة الحلّ السياسي. وختم بيانه بالتأكيد أن تركيا «ستواصل مساهمتها النشطة في الجهود المبذولة لتهيئة الظروف المناسبة للعودة الطوعية والآمنة للاجئين، وإيجاد حلّ للنزاع وفقاً لخريطة الطريق المنصوص عليها في قرار مجلس الأمن الدولي الرقم 2254، بالتعاون مع جميع أصحاب المصلحة في المجتمع الدولي. وبينما اشتعلت مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي بمواقف رافضة لأيّ انفتاح تركي على دمشق أطلقها قياديون في الفصائل، لم تَخرج عن «الائتلاف» أيّ تصريحات في هذا السياق، في استمرار لسياسة الصمت التي اتّبعها طوال الشهر الماضي، بعد توالي التصريحات التركية حول الرغبة في التعاون مع الحكومة السورية. وتفسّر المصادر نفسها التي تحدّثت إليها «الأخبار»، ذلك، بأنه رغبة من أنقرة في فصْل ما يجري في الشارع عن المسار السياسي، لاستثمارهما معاً في الضغط على دمشق وموسكو وطهران، ما يعني في المحصّلة ربْط أيّ خطوة نحو دمشق باستمرار المصالح التركية، وما ينجم عنها من مكاسب.

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Israel Bombs Damascus Countryside, 3 Killed 7 Injured, a Challenge to Russia!

ARABI SOURI

Israel bombed the city of Sayyeda Zainab in the southeastern countryside of Damascus shortly after midnight, three soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded in an initial official Syrian military report, this latest Israeli bombing comes less than three days after Russian President Putin condemned previous repeated Israeli bombings against Syria.

A Syrian military spokesperson said in an official statement carried by Sana:

“At exactly 12:32 a.m. this morning, the Israeli enemy carried out an air attack with bursts of missiles from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan, targeting some points in the vicinity of the city of Damascus. Our air defense media confronted the aggression’s missiles and shot down some of them.”

The brief statement concluded that ‘three soldiers were killed, seven others were wounded, and some material losses were caused’ as a result of the Israeli aggression.

Other sources, including Israeli news outlets, claim that members of Hezb Allah were among the casualties, Sayyeda Zainab is a small city in the Damascus southern Ghouta, formerly orchids, in which the shrine of the granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad PBUH is buried in the shrine in the city which is named after her.

The video is also available on BitChuteOdysee, and Rumble.

Israel bombs Sayyeda Zainab in Damascus countryside

Israel bombs Sayyeda Zainab in Damascus countryside

Israel bombs Sayyeda Zainab in Damascus countryside

Israel bombs Sayyeda Zainab in Damascus countryside

Israel bombs Sayyeda Zainab in Damascus countryside

Israel bombs Sayyeda Zainab in Damascus countryside

Hezb Allah’s initial intervention in Syria was to assist in protecting the Islamic shrines, especially this one after the NATO-sponsored anti-Islamic terrorists started attacking Muslim prayer houses, shrines, and the graves of the Prophet’s companions buried in Syria.

We will find out the details shortly, if there were members of Hezb Allah within the casualties, the Hezb will officially report that and they will retaliate to the aggression on their own separately from Syria’s retaliation.

In August 2019, Israel bombed an apartment in Sayyeda Zainab killing two Hezb Allah soldiers assigned to guard the shrine, Hezb Allah vowed to avenge the killing of its soldiers and within less than a week, Hezb Allah blew up a vehicle of the Israeli IDF terrorists in northern occupied Palestine killing and injuring who’s inside it.

Israel did once more bomb another site used by Hezb Allah killing one of the group’s soldiers in the same area in July 2020, this record is not yet settled by the Hezb who is awaiting a proper time to score it, if there were casualties of the Lebanese resistance party in this latest Israeli aggression, the Hezb will definitely retaliate and will score among the IDF terrorists the same number of casualties if not more.

Today’s Israeli bombing against Damascus is seen as a humiliating message to Russia whose officials have issued a flurry of statements condemning the Israeli war crime of bombing Damascus International Airport on the 10th of last month, June, the Russian statements escalated very recently, and including a direct condemnation by the Russian President Putin during his trilateral summit in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart President Raisi and the Turkish madman Erdogan who joined in condemning the Israeli repeated aggression against Syria!

Russia is not in direct conflict with Israel in Syria, however, it’s acting as a peace arbitrator in its capacity as one of the five permanent member states of the United Nations Security Council, the council supposedly responsible for maintaining peace and security around the globe, in addition to Russia’s long-standing relations with Syria which one of the main reasons of the US-led war of terror on it was because of Syria’s refusal to allow the US camp to extend a gas pipeline from Qatar to Europe through Syria thus strangling both Russia and Iran back in 2008 when both of these countries were not in a good economic position.

Syria accepted to shoulder the burden of the most heinous and evil war waged against one small country by most of the world countries including three of the main superpowers and all of the super-rich countries, directly and by using tens of thousands of anti-Islamic Wahhabi and Muslim Brotherhood Al Qaeda, ISIS (ISIL), and their affiliated terrorists.

The least Russia can do is withdraw from the weird agreement it signed with Israel to ‘operate’ over Syria, or notify the Syrian side about Israel’s intentions of bombing Syria conveyed to the Russians within the framework of this agreement in order for Syria to prepare the defenses, relocate its troops to avoid casualties, and to take other necessary precautions to limit the damage from such aggression until the time Syria is capable of directly retaliating against Israel.

Russia, could also, at least ask the Israeli ambassador to Moscow to leave until further notice especially since this latest Israeli aggression comes less than three days after Russian President Putin condemned the previous Israeli attacks on Syria.

Russia, could also, at least, allow Syria to use the 6 decades old S300 air defense systems that Syria bought over 12 years ago its delivery was delayed upon the request of Israel allowing the Israelis, Turks, and other members of NATO to freely bomb Syria multiple times since. The systems were delivered to Syria after Israel used a Russian IL20 military plane as a shield to carry out an aggression against the Syrian port city of Latakia in September 2018, the Syrian outdated S200 air defense missiles fired at the attacking Israeli fighter jets hit instead the larger bird the Israelis were hiding behind killing all 15 Russian soldiers and technicians onboard the Russian IL20 plane. Despite delivering the systems, many sources confirm that the Russians are not allowing the Syrian air defense units to use those systems until this very day.

Russia, could as well, at least suspend or even reduce the volumes of the ‘thriving’ businesses with Israel including tourism which provides Israel with hundreds of millions of dollars it uses part of that to humiliate Russia in Syria and to arm the Nazi battalions in Ukraine whose goals are to kill Russian people, in addition to Israel helping Turkey with its Bayraktar drones which were used against Russia in Syria and in Ukraine!

July 2018 Israeli article about Israel arming Neo-Nazis in Ukraine

Syria, on its part, should start developing its own independent air defense systems and it’s about time to retaliate to the Israeli aggression, there’s nothing much left to lose in Syria, casualties or damage to infrastructure, while wherever Syria hits back in Israel the Israelis will lose a lot.

Syria, as well, should stop granting amnesty to the terrorists who are still fighting against the Syrian state and who are thinking of joining the reconciliation process in the future, give them a limited time for the amnesty, these are traitors in addition to being terrorists as they are aiding all the enemies of the Syrian people in Israel, the USA, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. These terrorists are exhausting Syria’s capabilities to a very large extent.

Israel will continue to bomb Syria as long as Syria does not retaliate, there’s already a very long list of war crimes that Israel committed against Syria including the bombing of civilian infrastructures like the Damascus International Airport, several times, Latakia seaport, several times, and scientific centers, to name a few, retaliating in kind will deter Israel from further aggressions, the Russians, and the UNSC can afterward ask all the parties to maintain restraint, especially that the UNSC collectively is a partner to Israeli aggressions by refusing to condemn these war crimes.


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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

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Source: Al Mayadeen Net

Imam Khamenei To Erdogan: Attacking Syria To Harm Turkey, Benefit Terrorists; Palestine Muslims’ First Issue

July 19, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei said that maintaining the territorial integrity of Syria is very important, and any military attack on northern Syria will definitely harm Turkey, Syria and the entire region, and benefit terrorists.

Imam Khamenei made the remarks while receiving Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who arrived in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Monday evening to participate in the tripartite meeting of the heads of the guarantors’ states of peace in Syria.

Emphasizing the need to increase the cooperation between the two countries, especially commercial cooperation, Imam Khamenei described the volume and quality of exchanges and economic cooperation between the two countries as much less than the existing capacities.

His Eminence also said that the dignity of the Islamic Ummah depends on overcoming differences and being vigilant against divisive policies, adding that one of the causes of discord and enmity in the region is the Zionist regime supported by the US.

Imam Khamenei considered Palestine as the first issue of the Islamic world and emphasized that despite the tendency of some rulers towards the Zionist regime, the nations are deeply opposed to this usurping regime.

Emphasizing that the US and the Zionist regime should not be relied upon, His Eminence said, “Today, neither the Zionist regime, nor the US, nor others will be able to stop the movement of the Palestinians, and the final result will be to the benefit of the Palestinian people.”

Imam Khamenei further considered the issue of territorial integrity of Syria as very important. Referring to some quotes about a military attack on northern Syria, he added, “This [attack] is definitely to the detriment of Syria as well as Turkey and the region. It will also not allow the Syrian government’s political measures to be materialized.”

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.

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قمة بوتين – رئيسي – أردوغان: الأسد المنتصر

July 18, 2022 

 ناصر قنديل


غالباً ما كانت الدولة السورية تتعرّض لضغوط مواطنيها في الشمال مطالبة بعمل عسكريّ يُنهي الاحتلال الأميركي والاحتلال التركي ومشروع الكانتون الكردي الذي تقيمه قوات قسد، وكان كثيرون يذهبون للتحذير من خطورة أن تكون صورة تقاسم جغرافيا الشمال السوري نهائيّة، وتعني تحوّل وحدة التراب السوري إلى شيء من الماضي، بينما كان كثيرون يرمون سهام الاتهام على حلفاء سورية، روسيا وإيران، بسبب علاقاتهما الجيدة مع تركيا ما يتيح اتهامهما بالتردد في دعم أية عملية عسكرية سورية نحو المناطق الخاضعة لسيطرة الجماعات الإرهابيّة المدعومة من تركيا. وبالمثل لعلاقاتهما الجيّدة بقوات قسد التركية، واعتبار هذه العلاقة سبباً لتردد مماثل؛ بينما كان كل من القيادتين التركية والكردية يتقاسمان عدم الوفاء بالتعهدات، وتطبيق التفاهمات، ويواظبان على الخداع، فكلما اشتدت الضغوط العسكرية يبديان الاستعداد السياسي الإيجابي، ثم لا يلبثان يعودان إلى لغة المماطلة وأسلوب الخداع والتنصل من الالتزامات.

خلال الأيام القليلة الماضية، وبينما الأجواء السائدة محكومة بالإعلان التركيّ عن اكتمال الاستعدادات لعمليّة عسكريّة كبيرة شمال سورية، مرّة تحت ذريعة ضرب الجماعات الكردية التركية المناوئة، ومرة تحت عنوان ضمان منطقة آمنة لعودة النازحين المقيمين في تركيا، دخل الجيش السوري بلدة منبج الواقعة تحت سيطرة الميليشيات التابعة لقسد، والمرشّحة لتكون أول أهداف العملية العسكرية التركية، وبلغ عدد البلدات والمدن والقرى التي انتشر فيها الجيش السوري، بما فيها تل رفعت، أكثر من عشرين، وتجري الاستعدادات المتسارعة لتوسيع حجم الانتشار ليشمل المزيد، بينما تتجه المزيد من الحشود العسكريّة للجيش السوري شمالاً مزوّدة بالأسلحة الثقيلة.

يجري ذلك عشية انعقاد القمة الثلاثية الروسية الإيرانية التركية في طهران، التي تستضيف القمة التي ستجمع الرؤساء فلاديمير بوتين والسيد إبراهيم رئيسي ورجب أردوغان، وقد سبقتها تحضيرات ومشاورات ورسائل متبادلة ومبادرات، منذ إعلان الرئيس التركيّ محاولاً الاستفادة من حرب أوكرانيا، عن نيّته بتوسيع نفوذه داخل الأراضي السورية، وكان أول المواقف هو القرار الذي اتخذته الدولة السورية بالتصدّي العسكري لهذه العملية التركية، بمعزل عن كيفية تفاعل الميليشيات الكردية من جهة، وحدود قدرة الحلفاء على اتخاذ مواقف داعمة من جهة أخرى. وقد أبلغت سورية القيادتين الروسية والإيرانية بموقفها، كما أبلغت قيادة قسد أن قوات الجيش السوري ذاهبة الى الحدود لمنع التوغل التركي، وسنتصدّى لكل من يقف في طريقها.

تبلور الموقف الروسيّ الإيرانيّ المشترك الذي تبلغته سورية بالوقوف معها في قرارها، وتمّت صياغة موقف سياسيّ استراتيجيّ مشترك عنوانه، مسار أستانة سيسقط مع انطلاق العملية العسكرية التركية، وتبلغت القيادة التركية بذلك، وبدأت مبادرة روسية وأخرى إيرانية لبلورة مسار سياسي سوري تركي، يضع الاعتبارات السيادية السورية أولاً، حيث الالتزام التركي بالانسحاب العسكري من الأراضي السورية، واعتبار اتفاق أضنة أساساً لتنظيم الوضع عبر الحدود، كما تبلغت قيادة الميليشيا الكردية موقف كل من روسيا وإيران، بأن انتشار الجيش السوريّ وحده يمثل ضمانة تجنيب مناطق سيطرة هذه الميليشيات وسكانها مخاطر الحرب، وبدأت المساومة التركية التقليدية على جوائز ترضية، سواء في تولي ملف تجارة الحبوب الأوكرانيّة، أو الاتفاقيات التجارية التركية الإيرانية والروسية في مجال الطاقة وأسعار الغاز الذي يشكل أعلى فاتورة تركيّة بالعملات الصعبة، واحتمالات تسديدها بالعملة المحلية.

قمة طهران نقطة تحوّل في مسار الوضع شمال سورية، حيث الصبر الاستراتيجي، والتربّص عند المنعطفات، والمصداقية في التحالفات، عناصر منحت سورية فرصة أن تكون المنتصر الذي يخرج رابحاً في جغرافيا يتقاسمها الاحتلال التركي والاحتلال الأميركي، لتعود وحدة سورية وسيادتها في المقدّمة مجدداً.

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In Eurasia, the War of Economic Corridors is in full swing

July 15, 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Source

Mega Eurasian organizations and their respective projects are now converging at record speed, with one global pole way ahead of the other.

By Pepe Escobar

The War of Economic Corridors is now proceeding full speed ahead, with the game-changing first cargo flow of goods from Russia to India via the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) already in effect.

Very few, both in the east and west, are aware of how this actually has long been in the making: the Russia-Iran-India agreement for implementing a shorter and cheaper Eurasian trade route via the Caspian Sea (compared to the Suez Canal), was first signed in 2000, in the pre-9/11 era.

The INSTC in full operational mode signals a powerful hallmark of Eurasian integration – alongside the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and last but not least, what I described as “Pipelineistan” two decades ago.

Caspian is key

Let’s have a first look on how these vectors are interacting.

The genesis of the current acceleration lies in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s capital, for the 6th Caspian Summit. This event not only brought the evolving Russia-Iran strategic partnership to a deeper level, but crucially, all five Caspian Sea littoral states agreed that no NATO warships or bases will be allowed on site.

That essentially configures the Caspian as a virtual Russian lake, and in a minor sense, Iranian – without compromising the interests of the three “stans,” Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. For all practical purposes, Moscow has tightened its grip on Central Asia a notch.

As the Caspian Sea is connected to the Black Sea by canals off the Volga built by the former USSR, Moscow can always count on a reserve navy of small vessels – invariably equipped with powerful missiles – that may be transferred to the Black Sea in no time if necessary.

Stronger trade and financial links with Iran now proceed in tandem with binding the three “stans” to the Russian matrix. Gas-rich republic Turkmenistan for its part has been historically idiosyncratic – apart from committing most of its exports to China.

Under an arguably more pragmatic young new leader, President Serdar Berdimuhamedow, Ashgabat may eventually opt to become a member of the SCO and/or the EAEU.

Caspian littoral state Azerbaijan on the other hand presents a complex case: an oil and gas producer eyed by the European Union (EU) to become an alternative energy supplier to Russia – although this is not happening anytime soon.

The West Asia connection

Iran’s foreign policy under President Ebrahim Raisi is clearly on a Eurasian and Global South trajectory. Tehran will be formally incorporated into the SCO as a full member in the upcoming summit in Samarkand in September, while its formal application to join the BRICS has been filed.

Purnima Anand, head of the BRICS International Forum, has stated that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are also very much keen on joining BRICS. Should that happen, by 2024 we could be on our way to a powerful West Asia, North Africa hub firmly installed inside one of the key institutions of the multipolar world.

As Putin heads to Tehran next week for trilateral Russia, Iran, Turkey talks, ostensibly about Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is bound to bring up the subject of BRICS.

Tehran is operating on two parallel vectors. In the event the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is revived – a quite dim possibility as it stands, considering the latest shenanigans in Vienna and Doha – that would represent a tactical victory. Yet moving towards Eurasia is on a whole new strategic level.

In the INSTC framework, Iran will make maximum good use of the geostrategically crucial port of Bandar Abbas – straddling the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

Yet as much as it may be portrayed as a major diplomatic victory, it’s clear that Tehran will not be able to make full use of BRICS membership if western – especially US – sanctions are not totally lifted.

Pipelines and the “stans”

A compelling argument can be made that Russia and China might eventually fill the western technology void in the Iranian development process. But there’s a lot more that platforms such as the INSTC, the EAEU and even BRICS can accomplish.

Across “Pipelineistan,” the War of Economic Corridors gets even more complex. Western propaganda simply cannot admit that Azerbaijan, Algeria, Libya, Russia’s allies at OPEC, and even Kazakhstan are not exactly keen on increasing their oil production to help Europe.

Kazakhstan is a tricky case: it is the largest oil producer in Central Asia and set to be a major natural gas supplier, right after Russia and Turkmenistan. More than 250 oil and gas fields are operated in Kazakhstan by 104 companies, including western energy giants such as Chevron, Total, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

While exports of oil, natural gas and petroleum products comprise 57 percent of Kazakhstan’s exports, natural gas is responsible for 85 percent of Turkmenistan’s budget (with 80 percent of exports committed to China). Interestingly, Galkynysh is the second largest gas field on the planet.

Compared to the other “stans,” Azerbaijan is a relatively minor producer (despite oil accounting for 86 percent of its total exports) and basically a transit nation. Baku’s super-wealth aspirations center on the Southern Gas Corridor, which includes no less than three pipelines: Baku-Tblisi-Erzurum (BTE); the Turkish-driven Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP); and the Trans-Adriatic (TAP).

The problem with this acronym festival – BTE, TANAP, TAP – is that they all need massive foreign investment to increase capacity, which the EU sorely lacks because every single euro is committed by unelected Brussels Eurocrats to “support” the black hole that is Ukraine. The same financial woes apply to a possible Trans-Caspian Pipeline which would further link to both TANAP and TAP.

In the War of Economic Corridors – the “Pipelineistan” chapter – a crucial aspect is that most Kazakh oil exports to the EU go through Russia, via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC). As an alternative, the Europeans are mulling on a still fuzzy Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, also known as the Middle Corridor (Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey). They actively discussed it in Brussels last month.

The bottom line is that Russia remains in full control of the Eurasia pipeline chessboard (and we’re not even talking about the Gazprom-operated pipelines Power of Siberia 1 and 2 leading to China).

Gazprom executives know all too well that a fast increase of energy exports to the EU is out of the question. They also factor the Tehran Convention – that helps prevent and control pollution and maintain the environmental integrity of the Caspian Sea, signed by all five littoral members.

Breaking BRI in Russia

China, for its part, is confident that one of its prime strategic nightmares may eventually disappear. The notorious “escape from Malacca” is bound to materialize, in cooperation with Russia, via the Northern Sea Route, which will shorten the trade and connectivity corridor from East Asia to Northern Europe from 11,200 nautical miles to only 6,500 nautical miles. Call it the polar twin of the INSTC.

This also explains why Russia has been busy building a vast array of state-of-the-art icebreakers.

So here we have an interconnection of New Silk Roads (the INSTC proceeds in parallel with BRI and the EAEU), Pipelineistan, and the Northern Sea Route on the way to turn western trade domination completely upside down.

Of course, the Chinese have had it planned for quite a while. The first White Paper on China’s Arctic policy, in January 2018, already showed how Beijing is aiming, “jointly with other states” (that means Russia), to implement sea trade routes in the Arctic within the framework of the Polar Silk Road.

And like clockwork, Putin subsequently confirmed that the Northern Sea Route should interact and complement the Chinese Maritime Silk Road.

Russia-China Economic cooperation is evolving on so many complex, convergent levels that just to keep track of it all is a dizzying experience.

A more detailed analysis will reveal some of the finer points, for instance how BRI and SCO interact, and how BRI projects will have to adapt to the heady consequences of Moscow’s Operation Z in Ukraine, with more emphasis being placed on developing Central and West Asian corridors.

It’s always crucial to consider that one of Washington’s key strategic objectives in the relentless hybrid war against Russia was always to break BRI corridors that crisscross Russian territory.

As it stands, it’s important to realize that dozens of BRI projects in industry and investment and cross-border inter-regional cooperation will end up consolidating the Russian concept of the Greater Eurasia Partnership – which essentially revolves around establishing multilateral cooperation with a vast range of nations belonging to organizations such as the EAEU, the SCO, BRICS and ASEAN.

Welcome to the new Eurasian mantra: Make Economic Corridors, Not War.

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

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/

CHRIS HEDGES: NATO — THE MOST DANGEROUS MILITARY ALLIANCE ON THE PLANET

JULY 12TH, 2022

By Chris Hedges

Source

PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY (Scheerpost) — The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the arms industry that depends on it for billions in profits, has become the most aggressive and dangerous military alliance on the planet. Created in 1949 to thwart Soviet expansion into Eastern and Central Europe, it has evolved into a global war machine in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

NATO expanded its footprint, violating promises to Moscow, once the Cold War ended, to incorporate 14 countries in Eastern and Central Europe into the alliance. It will soon add Finland and Sweden. It bombed Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo. It launched wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, resulting in close to a million deaths and some 38 million people driven from their homes. It is building a military footprint in Africa and Asia. It invited Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, the so-called “Asia Pacific Four,” to its recent summit in Madrid at the end of June. It has expanded its reach into the Southern Hemisphere, signing a military training partnership agreement with Colombia, in December 2021. It has backed Turkey, with NATO’s second largest military, which has illegally invaded and occupied parts of Syria as well as Iraq. Turkish-backed militias are engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Syrian Kurds and other inhabitants of north and east Syria. The Turkish military has been accused of war crimes – including multiple airstrikes against a refugee camp andchemical weapons use – in northern Iraq. In exchange for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s permission for Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, the two Nordic countries have agreed to expand their domestic terror laws making it easier to crack down on Kurdish and other activists, lift their restrictions on selling arms to Turkey and deny support to the Kurdish-led movement for democratic autonomy in Syria.

It is quite a record for a military alliance that with the collapse of the Soviet Union was rendered obsolete and should have been dismantled. NATO and the militarists had no intention of embracing the “peace dividend,” fostering a world based on diplomacy, a respect of spheres of influence and mutual cooperation. It was determined to stay in business. Its business is war. That meant expanding its war machine far beyond the border of Europe and engaging in ceaseless antagonism toward China and Russia.

NATO sees the future, as detailed in its “NATO 2030: Unified for a New Era,” as a battle for hegemony with rival states, especially China, and calls for the preparation of prolonged global conflict.

“China has an increasingly global strategic agenda, supported by its economic and military heft,” the NATO 2030 initiative warned. “It has proven its willingness to use force against its neighbors, as well as economic coercion and intimidatory diplomacy well beyond the Indo-Pacific region. Over the coming decade, China will likely also challenge NATO’s ability to build collective resilience, safeguard critical infrastructure, address new and emerging technologies such as 5G and protect sensitive sectors of the economy including supply chains. Longer term, China is increasingly likely to project military power globally, including potentially in the Euro-Atlantic area.”

The alliance has spurned the Cold War strategy that made sure Washington was closer to Moscow and Beijing than Moscow and Beijing were to each other. U.S. and NATO antagonism have turned Russia and China into close allies. Russia, rich in natural resources, including energy, minerals and grains, and China, a manufacturing and technological behemoth, are a potent combination. NATO no longer distinguishes between the two, announcing in its most recent mission statement that the “deepening strategic partnership” between Russian and China has resulted in “mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order that run counter to our values and interests.”

On July 6, Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, and Ken McCallum, director general of Britain’s MI5, held a joint news conference in London to announce that China was the “biggest long-term threat to our economic and national security.” They accused China, like Russia, of interfering in U.S. and U.K. elections. Wray warned the business leaders they addressed that the Chinese government was “set on stealing your technology, whatever it is that makes your industry tick, and using it to undercut your business and dominate your market.”

This inflammatory rhetoric presages an ominous future.

One cannot talk about war without talking about markets. The political and social turmoil in the U.S., coupled with its diminishing economic power, has led it to embrace NATO and its war machine as the antidote to its decline.

Washington and its European allies are terrified of China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) meant to connect an economic bloc of roughly 70 nations outside U.S. control. The initiative includes the construction of rail lines, roads and gas pipelines that will be integrated with Russia. Beijing is expected to commit $1.3 trillion to the BRI by 2027. China, which is on track to become the world’s largest economy within a decade, has organized the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world’s largest trade pact of 15 East Asian and Pacific nations representing 30 percent of global trade. It already accounts for 28.7 percent of the Global Manufacturing Output, nearly double the 16.8 percent of the U.S.

China’s rate of growth last year was an impressive  8.1 percent, although slowing to around 5 percent this year.  By contrast, the U.S.’s growth rate in 2021 was 5.7 percent — its highest since 1984 — but is predicted to fall below 1 percent this year, by the New York Federal Reserve.

If China, Russia, Iran, India and other nations free themselves from the tyranny of the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency and the international Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a messaging network financial institutions use to send and receive information such as money transfer instructions, it will trigger a dramatic decline in the value of the dollar and a financial collapse in the U.S. The huge military expenditures, which have driven the U.S. debt to $30 trillion, $ 6 trillion more than the U.S.’s entire GDP, will become untenable. Servicing this debt costs $300 billion a year. We spent more on the military in 2021, $ 801 billion which amounted to 38 percent of total world expenditure on the military, than the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined. The loss of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency will force the U.S. to slash spending, shutter many of its 800 military bases overseas and cope with the inevitable social and political upheavals triggered by economic collapse. It is darkly ironic that NATO has accelerated this possibility.

Russia, in the eyes of NATO and U.S. strategists, is the appetizer. Its military, NATO hopes, will get bogged down and degraded in Ukraine. Sanctions and diplomatic isolation, the plan goes, will thrust Vladimir Putin from power. A client regime that will do U.S. bidding will be installed in Moscow.

NATO has provided more than $8 billion in military aid to Ukraine, while the US has committed nearly $54 billion in military and humanitarian assistance to the country.

China, however, is the main course. Unable to compete economically, the U.S. and NATO have turned to the blunt instrument of war to cripple their global competitor.

The provocation of China replicates the NATO baiting of Russia.

NATO expansion and the 2014 US-backed coup in Kyiv led Russia to first occupy Crimea, in eastern Ukraine, with its large ethnic Russian population, and then to invade all of Ukraine to thwart the country’s efforts to join NATO.

The same dance of death is being played with China over Taiwan, which China considers part of Chinese territory, and with NATO expansion in the Asia Pacific. China flies warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense zone and the U.S. sends naval shipsthrough the Taiwan Strait which connects the South and East China seas. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in May called China the most serious long-term challenge to the international order, citing its claims to Taiwan and efforts to dominate the South China Sea. Taiwan’s president, in a Zelensky-like publicity stunt, recently posed with an anti-tank rocket launcher in a government handout photo.

The conflict in Ukraine has been a bonanza for the arms industry, which, given the humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, needed a new conflict. Lockheed Martin’s stock prices are up 12 percent. Northrop Grumman is up 20 percent. The war is being used by NATO to increase its military presence in Eastern and Central Europe. The U.S. is building a permanent military base in Poland. The 40,000-strong NATO reaction force is being expanded to 300,000 troops. Billions of dollars in weapons are pouring into the region.

The conflict with Russia, however, is already backfiring. The ruble has soared to a seven-year high against the dollar. Europe is barreling towards a recession because of rising oil and gas prices and the fear that Russia could terminate supplies completely. The loss of Russian wheat, fertilizer, gas and oil, due to Western sanctions, is creating havoc in world markets and a humanitarian crisis in Africa and the Middle East. Soaring food and energy prices, along with shortages and crippling inflation, bring with them not only deprivation and hunger, but social upheaval and political instability. The climate emergency, the real existential threat, is being ignored to appease the gods of war.

The war makers are frighteningly cavalier about the threat of nuclear war. Putin warned NATO countries that they “will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history” if they intervened directly in Ukraine and ordered Russian nuclear forces to be put on heightened alert status. The proximity to Russia of U.S. nuclear weapons based in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey mean that any nuclear conflict would obliterate much of Europe. Russia and the United States control about 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads, with around 4,000 warheads each in their military stockpiles, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

President Joe Biden warned that the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine would be “completely unacceptable” and “entail severe consequences,” without spelling out what those consequences would be. This is what U.S. strategists refer to as “deliberate ambiguity.”

The U.S. military, following its fiascos in the Middle East, has shifted its focus from fighting terrorism and asymmetrical warfare to confronting China and Russia. President Barack Obama’s national-security team in 2016 carried out a war game in which Russia invaded a NATO country in the Baltics and used a low-yield tactical nuclear weapon against NATO forces. Obama officials were split about how to respond.

“The National Security Council’s so-called Principals Committee—including Cabinet officers and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—decided that the United States had no choice but to retaliate with nuclear weapons,” Eric Schlosser writes in The Atlantic. “Any other type of response, the committee argued, would show a lack of resolve, damage American credibility, and weaken the NATO alliance. Choosing a suitable nuclear target proved difficult, however. Hitting Russia’s invading force would kill innocent civilians in a NATO country. Striking targets inside Russia might escalate the conflict to an all-out nuclear war. In the end, the NSC Principals Committee recommended a nuclear attack on Belarus—a nation that had played no role whatsoever in the invasion of the NATO ally but had the misfortune of being a Russian ally.”

The Biden administration has formed a Tiger Team of national security officials to run war games on what to do if Russia uses a nuclear weapon, according to The New York Times. The threat of nuclear war is minimized with discussions of “tactical nuclear weapons,” as if less powerful nuclear explosions are somehow more acceptable and won’t lead to the use of bigger bombs.

At no time, including the Cuban missile crisis, have we stood closer to the precipice of nuclear war.

“A simulation devised by experts at Princeton University starts with Moscow firing a nuclear warning shot; NATO responds with a small strike, and the ensuing war yieldsmore than 90 million casualties in its first few hours,” The New York Times reported.

The longer the war in Ukraine continues — and the U.S. and NATO seem determined to funnel billions of dollars of weapons into the conflict for months if not years — the more the unthinkable becomes thinkable. Flirting with Armageddon to profit the arms industry and carry out the futile quest to reclaim U.S. global hegemony is at best extremely reckless and at worst genocidal.

Turkey and NATO: a vital alliance, with limits

With deepening global polarization, can Ankara retain its foreign policy autonomy within NATO?

July 04 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By MK Bhadrakumar

Turkey has had an uneasy history as a NATO member country. The push and pull of strategic autonomy constantly grated against a security guarantee the alliance offered, and also a way of reinforcing its western identity. The west, in turn, wanted Turkey because of the Cold War.

The enigma still continues: Was Turkey’s shift from neutrality to alignment a real necessity in 1951? Did Stalin indeed cast an evil eye on Turkish lands? Would any other Kemalist leader than Ismet Inounu, an unvarnished Euro-Atlanticist whose conception of modernisation implied cooperation with the west, have succumbed to the Anglo-American entreaties?

The relations between Turkey and the Soviet Union remained relatively calm during the period of Turkey’s admission to NATO.

In November 1951, Moscow actually directed a note to Turkish Government protesting the latter’s decision to participate in NATO, which asserted that “it is quite obvious that the initiation to Turkey, a country which has no connections whatever with the Atlantic, to join the Atlantic Bloc, can signify nothing but an aspiration on the part of imperialist states to utilise Turkish territory for the establishment of military bases for aggressive purposes on the frontiers of the USSR.”

The ideological aspirations in becoming an integral  part — at least within the framework of a military alliance — of the western world played a decisive role in Turkey’s decision in 1951, whereas, in reality, there was no imminent or explicit Soviet threat to Turkey.

On the other hand, Turkey’s geographical importance to both the west and to the Soviet Union gave her a particular value in an east-west context, which, to her credit, Ankara would successfully leverage to its advantage through subsequent decades.

Curiously, this complex inter-locking in some ways bears an uncanny resemblance to the current accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin must have alluded to it obliquely when he told the media Thursday on the sidelines of the Caspian Summit in Ashgabat:

“NATO is a relic of the Cold War and is only being used as an instrument of US foreign policy designed to keep its client states in rein. This is its only mission. We have given them that opportunity, I understand that. They are using these arguments energetically and quite effectively to rally their so-called allies.

 

“On the other hand, regarding Sweden and Finland, we do not have such problems with Sweden and Finland as we have, regrettably, with Ukraine. We do not have territorial issues or disputes with them. There is nothing that could inspire our concern regarding Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO. If they want it, they can do it,… let them do it. You know, there are rude jokes about stepping into  unsavoury things. That is their business. Let them step into what they wish.”

While returning from NATO’s Madrid Summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan underscored that by lifting Ankara’s reservations about Sweden’s and Finland’s membership, he advanced Turkish interests. And he added the caveat that their accession is far from a done deal yet, and future developments would depend on their fulfillment of commitments under the memorandum of understanding they signed in Madrid with Turkey.

Indeed, both Sweden and Finland have bent over backward to give Turkey extensive anti-terrorism assurances that require changes in domestic legislation in return for Ankara withdrawing veto against accession talks. Erdogan insists that what matters are not their pledges but the delivery of those pledges.

It is a tough sell domestically for both Sweden and Finland, since one of the pledges is the extradition of 76 Kurds, deemed as terrorists by Turkey. This is easier said than done, as the courts in Stockholm and Helsinki may have their own definition of a “terrorist.”

The Turkish National Assembly’s ratification is a must for the Nordic countries’ admission to be formalised at NATO level. There is some speculation that US President Joe Biden incentivized Erdogan to compromise, but make no mistake, the latter’s warning about compliance by Sweden and Finland — as also the audible rumblings already on the left in Sweden — are reminders that the issue is still wide open.

After all, North Macedonia had been a NATO partner country since 1995 but could become a NATO member in March 2020. And Greece’s reservation was that the newly independent former Yugoslav republic wanted to be known as Macedonia, whereas Athens saw the name as a threat to its own region of Macedonia — and ultimately, Greece won. In comparison, Turkey’s concerns are tangible and directly impinge on its national security.

Turkey was never a ‘natural ally’ of NATO. How far Turkey subscribes to NATO’s latest strategic concept of Russia being a “most significant and direct threat” is debatable. Arguably, Turkey would feel more at home with the alliance’s 2010 doctrine that called Russia a “strategic partner.” This would need some explanation.

Professor Tariq Oguzlu, a leading exponent of the changing dynamics of Turkish foreign policies in recent years from a structural realist point of view, wrote an analysis last week titled Madrid Agreement and the balance policy in Turkish foreign policy, which was interestingly featured by Anadolu, Turkey’s state news agency. Oguzlu explained the rationale behind Turkey’s decision not to veto the two Nordic countries’ accession:

“Turkiye began to change its perspective on NATO a long time ago due to its strategic autonomy and multilateral foreign policy understanding… Considering the realist turnaround in Turkish foreign policy in the last three years, it is quite meaningful that Türkiye did not veto NATO enlargement..

“On the one hand, the second Cold War between the west and Russia narrows the room for maneuver in Turkish foreign policy, while on the other hand, it increases Türkiye’s strategic importance. The most important challenge for Turkish foreign policy in the coming years will be the successful continuation of Türkiye’s strategic autonomy-oriented multi-faceted foreign policy practices in an environment of deepening international polarization.”

“The balance policy pursued between the west and Russia is one of the most important strategic legacies left to the Republic of Türkiye from the Ottoman Empire. It is a strategic necessity for Türkiye, which has a medium-sized power capacity, to follow a policy of balance in order to achieve national interests. The policies adopted by Türkiye since the start of Russia’s war on Ukraine until now and the stance displayed at the last NATO summit in Madrid show that this historical heritage is embraced and successfully executed.”

To put matters in historical context, in 1920, Mustafa Kemal formally approached Vladimir Lenin with a proposal for mutual recognition and a request for military assistance. The Bolsheviks not only responded positively but by throwing in their lot with the growing movement of Turkish nationalists, they helped shore up the new Turkish state’s southern borders. In the period from 1920 to 1922, Soviet Russia’s military help to Ataturk was almost 80 million lire — twice Turkey’s defense budget.

In 1921, in Moscow, the two sides concluded the “Treaty of Friendship and Brotherhood,” which resolved the territorial disputes between the Kemalists and the Bolsheviks. The north-eastern border of Turkey established then remains unchanged to this day.

However, both Moscow and Ankara understood that cooperation between Turkish nationalists and Russian communists would be short-lived. Soon afterward, Turkey deserted Moscow’s camp, banned the communist party, and during the Nazi invasion, looked for an opportunity to invade the Soviet Caucasus if the Red Army collapsed. Nevertheless, Ataturk never forgot the help that Soviet Russia provided in his hour of need.

A historical perspective is needed to understand the US’ manipulation of Turkey — and of Sweden and Finland in the present-day context. Biden is following President Harry Truman’s footfalls. Washington has used the very same Cold-War tactic to draw Sweden and Finland into the NATO fold as it employed 70 years ago with regard to Turkey.

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

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Sweden and Finland joining NATO precedes an inevitable financial collapse of the current international system

June 29, 2022

Source

Sweden and Finland joining NATO besides being a provocative act towards Russia, precedes an inevitable financial collapse of the current international system

By Guilherme Wilbert

The Nordic entry into NATO, in the middle of a war, is clearly an act that does not help the peace negotiations that could be underway, but acts as the opposite, putting more wood on the fire for “military-technical” measures (to paraphrase Shoigu, Russian Defense Minister who uses the term when talking about responding to Western provocations).

With the entry of Finland and Sweden barred initially by Turkey, it shows that even a NATO member cares about enemies of its national interests. In Turkey’s case with the PKK, which is a Kurdish political organization seen as terrorist by Ankara and some countries, yet they were (until then) operating freely throughout the Nordic countries with active members of the official Kurdistan party holding protests in public squares in Helsinki and Stockholm.
Just for level of knowledge, Kurdistan is a region that would be home to the Kurdish ethnic group, taking part of Turkish territory up to the North of Iran, which explains Erdogan’s concern with a possible disintegration of Turkish territory if the Kurds were to gain prominence on the battlefields (which in real data would be very difficult since the Turkish army is the strongest in NATO for example).

But this provocation, which will surely be responded to by Moscow, proves the warmongers’ concern with continuing disputes and wars around the world, using Ukraine, which is the most recent case at the moment, as a kind of proxy to weaken Russia, serving only as a spearhead of the American objective, since Zelensky himself and his cabinet acknowledge that they will never join NATO and possibly not even the European Union, if you consider and draw a parallel with the case of Turkey itself, which has been waiting since 1999 for a resolution whether to join the bloc or not.

So, the entrance of the Nordics into NATO does not help Ukraine at all and can even make the situation worse with military-technical measures applied by the Russian Armed Forces perhaps in the decision centers in Brussels or in the Baltics, which would lead us to a nuclear catastrophe since the mentioned countries (Belgium and the Baltics for example) are NATO members and could invoke article 5 of mutual aid in case of “aggression” (See that aggression here is interpreted by Westerners (in an exercise of deduction) as only after the military-technical measure, ignoring what provoked the decision to do so).

Coupled with the desperation to provoke more wars, Western leaders get lost in the real global objective: economic integration and the fight against hunger

While great concern is seen with NATO, with diplomats having used the term “Global NATO” a few times, some primary and more basic goals of the organization’s member nations are put aside to add more gasoline to the fire.

The recent cases of inflation in Western Europe or even in the US precede a global financial collapse that has several causes, with some analysts citing the sanctions on Russia but personally I would go further and cite all of the last 10 years of at least NOTHING-backed dollar printouts that were used to give a supposed liquidity to the economy after the 2008 crash that was a scare felt around the world.

Economics, unlike some sciences, is not as if it can receive arguments and opinions, the theories are very clear and explanatory: by printing too much of your currency, you devalue it. But surely American economists know this and they also know that the coming collapse would affect the entire Globe because unfortunately after World War II, American hegemony was also monetary, with countries to this day using the dollar as an international reserve. In other words, in addition to the overprinting and national devaluation of the currency on American territory, it also devalues in the coffers of the countries that use it as a reserve and this will cause a cascading effect that will further force realpolitik into play and cause more haste in the emerging countries to get rid of the coming bomb.

Unfortunately war-hungry Western leaders are blind to what is coming and is already happening in some parts of the world, either because of irresponsible sanctions or the natural course of the very sequence of American economic mistakes. Because it is very different to sanction Russia compared to sanctioning Iran for example. And this does not mean that Iran deserves to be sanctioned in any way, because I believe that every country should have the right to its nuclear program, at least for peaceful purposes, and this cannot be used as a pretext for sanctions that crush already small economies, such as the example of Iran.

In the case of Russia the conversation is different for numerous reasons, be they military at the nuclear level or at the economic level, because Russia is part of a global production chain which acts as an active player on the macroeconomic stage. For example, the raw material called antimony, which is used in the global defense industry for military equipment of various kinds, is rightly found in excess in Russia and parts of Asia. This is to cite a simple example of an element that is not on the average citizen’s table, for example. In addition to the many important productions that Russia is responsible for.

So, given recent events and the inference for the disastrous future, the international scenario for the Global South forces them towards long term solutions of American de-dollarization and decolonization in the various ways, either by American NGOs that operate in several countries or by the very US culture exporting technologies that function as small fiefdoms of thought, the case of Facebook for example. But the latter is a little more difficult to achieve because it involves a collective societal thought that would require a national unity for the development of regional cultures.

Having said that, a peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia with the Ukrainian loss of the territories that comprise New Russia needs to happen and sanctions against any country need to be lifted for the sake of multipolarity.

The world cannot be guided by one diplomatic corps and one government only because the international scenario is not a movie of one actor, but of several, with several potentials to be developed in different parts of the Globe.


Guilherme Wilbert is a Brazilian Bachelor of Law interested in geopolitics and international law.

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