The Objectionable Discourse of Those Insisting on Sovereignty: ’Iranian Occupation’ & Overlooked Facts

The Objectionable Discourse of Those Insisting on Sovereignty: ’Iranian Occupation’ & Overlooked Facts

By Ali Abadi

The topic of diesel fuel deliveries from Iran is still making the rounds among elements belonging to the American camp, which seems to have been caught off guard. Following unrealistic propositions, these circles launched intensive media campaigns to recapture the popular base that emerged from the claws of the propaganda directed against Hezbollah and Iran.

The diesel fuel has become a form of “Iranian occupation”. That’s according to the point of view of those who got dizzy from their inability to keep up with this initiative. Not a day has gone by since the arrival of the Iranian diesel convoys without someone calling for neutrality, to liberate Lebanon from Iranian occupation, to join the wave of peace and normalization with “Israel”, and to reject the helping hand extending to Lebanon from Iran, Russia, or China, unless this is accompanied by explicit American permission.

These people are trying to regroup and raise their voices, but their weak presence in the arenas is being exposed and reflects the fragility of their proposal and approach.

All the headlines that were used to reject the initiatives presented by friendly countries that are ready to support Lebanon in times of need do not support the principle of national sovereignty and going through the state. Let’s take a closer look at the following headlines and facts:

1- Refusal to allow urgent relief aid to pass from Iran except through the state:

Those opposed to fuel coming from Iran claim that it passed through unofficial crossings. But is this the full story? In fact, they lobbied loudly not to receive oil derivatives from Iran through the official Lebanese crossings, sometimes under the pretext of international or US sanctions and other times claiming that Lebanon does not need them and can manage its affairs with the presence of import companies in conjunction with the imminent lifting of subsidies.

[Does this claim agree with the suffocation of markets and long queues for several months, in light of the collusion between local forces and external hegemonic forces?].

And when it became clear to them that the project to import fuel from Iran was very serious, and its effects began to appear in different areas, they changed their discourse tactically by showing a forced acceptance of the goods through official channels. But in reality, they placed one obstacle after another to prevent this from being achieved in order to preserve the interests of deep-rooted local capitalist forces and to sever the way for advanced economic relations that may link Lebanon and countries outside the system of American hegemony.

2- The organic organization of those opposing the American project:

While the logicof sovereignty and going through the state is used as a barrier to Iran and a red card in the face of Hezbollah, they accept the American statements that explicitly call for ignoring the existence of the Lebanese state and passing funds and aid to the so-called civil society associations under the pretext of corruption in the state apparatus. How is one right and not the other? Who guarantees that corruption will not occur in these associations as well, in light of reports of new “revolutionaries” enriching themselves while few benefits trickle down to society? Simply put, there is no comparison between Iranian fuel, which has tangibly reached all areas and sects, and the US aid, which is characterized by limitation and special teleology.

The US administration aims to support scattered cluster groups for an “eventual goal” which is the creation of “a more structured civil society organization that enjoyed strong relationships with the U.S., Europe, and international institutions and focused on creating economic opportunities, empowering new political voices and offering a meaningful alternative to Hezbollah for frustrated Lebanese Shias.” That’s according to an article published in the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the voice of the Zionist lobby in the United States.

The institute adds that “donor nations, including the United States and international institutions like the World Bank and IMF, could work with the Lebanese business community to structure, develop, fund, and manage the organization. The critical thing is that this would take place outside Lebanon’s state institutions and political parties.”

How will this umbilical cord that was established between the American agencies and these societies that spawned in their hundreds help with the establishment of a healthy Lebanese state?!

3- Ignoring initiatives and official offers from Russian, Chinese, and Iranian companies in the energy field, at a time when electrical supply is the biggest problem for the Lebanese. Offers to establish railways to reduce the cost of transportation were also ignored.

These companies have presented attractive offers based on the BOT [build, operate, transfer] system, which does not cost the state a single penny. But there has been no answer! Who is restraining the will of the state and preventing it – with intimidation – from being open to various economic options that are in the interest of the Lebanese people? And another question: What has the United States provided, for example, over the past years to solve the electricity crisis in Lebanon, in light of its capabilities and huge energy companies?

The Lebanese must know the extent of the losses they incur as a result of the continuous rejection of the initiatives coming from Iran, Russia, China, and other countries offering deals related to electricity and various infrastructure projects. Such deals are only rejected by stubborn people or those who are ignorant about the interests of their country. On the other hand, we see nothing of the American, French, or Gulf support except for some crumbs here and there. Meanwhile, their companies are waiting for the privatization of key sectors, such as the port of Beirut, the airport, as well as communications and electricity, and the acquisition of oil and gas fields at sea.

For many years, the paralyzed interaction with the initiatives from abroad has produced a reality based on addiction to begging and waiting for aid and gifts from the Gulf and Western countries, as well as addiction to borrowing from governments and now from the International Monetary Fund.

A final note regarding the current controversy over Iranian aid and Hezbollah’s role at home: The approaching parliamentary elections are exacerbating the political campaigns around all the steps the party is taking. Washington has long invested in the siege and drying up the sources of the Lebanese local economy in order to strike the strength of the resistance and disperse the masses from around it. However, it was surprised by the bold steps taken by Hezbollah from outside the traditional economic equation, and now it fears that its plan may backfire.

China in the crosshairs – is a war in the Far East and Pacific next?

OCTOBER 03, 2021

China in the crosshairs – is a war in the Far East and Pacific next?

As in my previous post, I will begin with referring you to two pieces.

First, the typical China-bashing propaganda: https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/taiwan-bristles-lashes-out-after-chinas-record-aerial-show-force

Second, a very solid debunking of the China-bashing crap above: https://www.moonofalabama.org/2021/10/how-ap-reuters-and-scmp-propagandize-their-readers-against-china.html

By the way, I also highly recommend to all my readers to read Moon of Alabama  (https://www.moonofalabama.org/) at least once a day.  ‘b’ is a very solid analyst and his website is superb.  Even better is the fact that he often writes about topics I do not cover, or he covers them differently, so make sure to check him out daily 🙂

Now about China.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Anglos have had China in the crosshairs for a while and that now China has become the evil, devious boogeyman #1, displacing Russia from that position.   By the way, this hysterical paranoia and hatred of China is equally shared by the two indistinguishable factions of the single Imperial Party which runs the USA: hatred for China is a political consensus, at least in the USA ruling class (hence the stupid “CCP virus” expression and other such illiterate infantilisms).

Here is my strictly personal and subjective interpretations of what happened and why China is now the Official Enemy Number One Hypervillain.

I will being by comparing China to the other two AngloZionist Official Hypervillain Enemies Number 2 and 3.

Russia.  The US/NATO/EU policy on Russia has comprehensively failed.  It has failed politically (the Evil Putin “KGB killer” is still in power and does not even have a semi-serious competitor – pro-western sentiments in Russias are now somewhere in the 1-2 percent max), economically (Russia has recovered from both sanctions and the COVID induced crisis and is booming, at least compared to the West) and militarily (the US and NATO are now the proverbial paper tigers).  Finally, the entire “Ukrainian strategy” has also faceplanted and has now turned into an unmanageable nightmare for the EU (which richly deserves this). In other words, Europe is now a “bad place” for the USA which really can’t do much to change this reality.

Iran.  The US/NATO/EU policy on Iran has also comprehensively failed.  Yes, Iran is going through very difficult times, the sanctions and COVID did, and are still, hurting it, but militarily Iran has successfully defeated the AngloZionist alliance in two ways: first, by deterring the AngloZionists from a direct attack (so far) and by showing its true capabilities in its superb missile strikes on US bases: a CENTCOM+Israeli attack on Iran would be suicidal, and the AngloZionists know it (even while they deny it).  Add to this the Russian+Iranian victory in Syria and the terminal inability of the Israelis to deal with Hezbollah and and Saudis to deal with the Houthis, and you will see that the Middle East is yet another “bad place”  for the USA which really can’t do much to change this reality (if they attack Iran it will be the end of Israel and CENTCOM). And I won’t even mention the Kabul event which showed to the word the true face and capabilities of the US armed forces.

Which logically leaves only China as the Official Enemy Number One Hypervillain.  Here are a few reasons for that:

  • China is the biggest and strongest economic power on the planet and the Chinese are geniuses in commerce and trade.
  • China is run by a leadership which the US cannot control, break, corrupt or otherwise subdue (I am talking about the leadership collectively, not individuals;  traitors exist everywhere).
  • China and Russia have a very successful alliance which the Anglos tried very hard to break by spreading anti-Chinese propaganda in Russia and anti-Russian propaganda in China.  The result?  The two countries are MORE than “just” allied, they are symbionts who are so “perfectly different” and that “fit together” like Lego pieces!
  • China has made incredible progress in the military field: in the 80s and 90s, China had a huge military, but which was decades behind the USA and the USSR/Russia.  This is now changing very very fast and has been for 20 years.
  • While the US has a money printing press, China has actual technologies and real manufacturing capabilities and the outcome here is not in doubt: it’s just a matter of time before the quasi industrialized USA becomes un-resucable by just printing billions of dollars.
  • The US cannot control the Chinese Internet, which deprives it from is main weapon (all that crap about human rights, the (non-) massacre in Tienanmen, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet etc. etc. etc. as if the West was not the worst violator of human rights on the planet, and by far!)

I am sure there are many more reasons, but the above is just a sample.  It is crucial to keep in mind the difference between reasons and pretexts.  Nobody in the western ruling class give a damn about human rights or any other Chinese problems (fictional or very real).  And I am not denying that there are real problems in China, like in any other country by the way.  I am saying that the western rhetoric about China is hypocritical crap.

Also, China does have real weaknesses.  I will list only the few I am aware of:

  • While the Chinese military has made immense progress, it is mostly technological.  Russian officers who trained with their Chinese counterparts regularly report that “culture” of the Chinese ground forces is still much inferior to, say, the Russian ones.  But I bet you that a Chinese solider in defense of his own land will outperform any Anglo imperialist solider fighting for “democracy” (Ha!) thousands of miles away from home.  Again, like the USA, the Chinese culture is not really a military one and the strengths of the Chinese lie elsewhere (commerce, emigration, business, etc.).  Also, it is likely that the problems reported by Russian military advisors about the Chinese ground forces do not apply to “high tech” domains such as aerospace, acoustics, etc.  Finally, even if  historically the Chinese are not a nation born warriors, it is likely that this weakness is much more evident in “general purpose” military forces and is much less applicable to the PRC’s specialized and high-tech forces (Air Force, Navy, special forces, ELINT, etc.)
  • The Chinese are still struggling in some key military technology domains, such as aircraft engines, but they are catching up really fast.  From the Anglo point of view, this means that it is a “now or never” situation, lest China accomplishes what Russia did between 2000 and 2021, which they might.
  • China, like Russia, is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious state, which is why the Anglos always try to use this diversity against the peoples of China (they failed in Russia, but in Chechnia they came very close, do we should never discount that real Anglo capability!).
  • China is run by the Chinese Communist Party which inevitably brings images of Nike-Gulags, devious secret agents and all the rest of the stuff Anglos like to scare themselves with.  That the word “Communism” in 2021 has a totally different meaning than in the 20th century is too complex a notion for many to even contemplate.
  • As many of my readers know, I do not consider that Russia is culturally part of Europe, but it is geographically European, at least west of the Urals, and the Russians are (mostly) “White” which western racists nowadays seem to like a lot (not so much in the times of Nazi Europe, obviously).  So the bad old European racism, itself a pretext for imperialism, is even worse with these “Fu-manchu gooks”.  Sinophobia has a particularly long history in the United States, much older than russophobia, by the way.
  • China is at least partially surrounded by Anglo colonies run comprador elites (Taiwan, Japan, etc.) and by countries who fear the very real regional influence and power of China (Philippines, India, etc.).
  • The US has some truly ideal “unsinkable bases” in the region (Japan, Hawaii, Australia, etc.) which are hard to neutralize (but that is also changing, and quickly).

Again, this is a partial list, and I am sure that our commentators can expand on this, or point out that some of my assumptions are simply wrong.

But let’s not overthink this either.

The western ruling elites are in a panic and they are consolidating into a smaller but potentially tougher “Anglosphere” whose best (or “least bad”) positions are in the Pacific (as I have always maintained, big, multinational alliances are great as fig-leafs to justify imperialism, but militarily they inevitably suck, badly).  From their point of view this policy of “circling the wagons” (expression straight from genocidal, imperialistic times) makes sense and is really the own viable option.

I will mention a few good news, and then let our commentators take over.  Here are a few good ones:

  • Russia will never allow the Anglosphere to defeat China militarily.  Simply put, she can’t afford it.  I will make a prediction: Chinese SSNs will, in the near future, get much better sensors and integration, they “develop” better quieting technologies and faster SSNs with smaller crews and superior automation.  As for Chinese aircraft, they are already very impressive, and China does not have the same need as Russia for advanced long range strategic bombers (where they still lag behind the most): they can use missiles instead.
  • The pace of progress of the PRC is truly amazing and, unlike Russia’s, the Chinese industrial base is huge and once they “get” a technology “right” – they can produce it in huge amounts.  So even IF the best Chinese submarine is still inferior or, at best, more or less on par, with the original Los Angeles class, they can produce them (and other ships or aircraft) in much larger amounts than the Anglosphere.
  • The Chinese space program does, to my admittedly non-engineer eyes, look much more promising that the PR crap of Bezos or Musk managed to peddle to the terminally misinformed US tax payer.  This is very important, crucial even, for modern warfare.
  • The Chinese leaders are (FINALLY!) speaking up!!  In the past, it was all Putin and Russia, the Chinese mostly kept a low profile, but now they are confident enough to call a “stone and stone” and they are very successfully hitting back at the Anglo propaganda, openly and bluntly.
  • By all accounts, the Chinese are proud patriots who will not sell their newly and very painfully acquired sovereignty to anybody (good for them, may all countries follow this model!).  They also know history, including how the Anglos waged war on them to sell opium (no crap about human rights then, just brute gang warfare).  They can also look at modern Japan and see what true Anglo domination can do to a ancient and noble culture.

Again, I invite you all to add to this list, or dispel my misconceptions!

My personal bottom line is this: the major powers are all preparing for a major war in Far East Asia and the Pacific.  God willing, and with the wise leadership of Putin and Xi, it will never happen.

But yes, China is, in my opinion, definitely in the Anglo crosshairs.

Now I turn this over to you.

Hugs and cheers

Andrei

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s news conference to sum up the high-level meetings week at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, New York, September 25, 2021

SEPTEMBER 27, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s news conference to sum up the high-level meetings week at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, New York, September 25, 2021

https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4867149

Question: Which opportunities and risk factors does the new Taliban’s Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan present? Does Russia fear that the presence of Taliban could somehow feed Islamic extremism in the region? If so, what can be done?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, Afghanistan is now on everyone’s mind. We believe, and we did believe from the outset, that what has happened there is a reality. Unfortunately, the hasty pull-out, let’s call it this way, by the United States and other NATO countries of their troops was carried out without any consideration of the consequences. As you are aware, many weapons were left behind in Afghanistan. We all need to see to it that these weapons do not serve any unconstructive purposes.

The reality on the ground is based on statements made by the Taliban who proclaimed their commitment to fighting extremism and terrorism, including ISIS and Al-Qaeda, not to project instability on their neighbours. They committed themselves to respecting women’s rights and to creating an inclusive government. You know all this. What matters the most at the moment is that they fulfil their promises.

The first step to form a transitory government structure fails to reflect the whole gamut of the Afghan society in its ethnic, religious and political diversity. We remain engaged with the Taliban, and these contacts have been continuing for several years now. We are doing this, inter alia, within the expanded troika of Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan. Only recently, Russian, Chinese and Pakistani representatives travelled to Doha, and after that they visited Kabul where they engaged with the Taliban, as well as with representatives of the secular authorities. I am referring to former President Hamid Karzai and former Head of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah. These contacts primarily focused on the need to form a genuinely representative government structure. The Taliban claim to be moving in this direction, and the current architecture is only temporary. What matters the most is to make sure that they keep the promises that they made in public. For us, the top priority is precisely what you just mentioned: it is unacceptable that extremism spills over into neighbouring countries, and the terrorist threat must not persist on Afghan soil. We will do everything we can to support the Taliban in their determination, as you have said, to fight ISIS and other terrorist groups, and to try to make sure that this determination paves the way to some practical progress.

Question: Does Russia consider easing or lifting its national sanctions against the Taliban members who become part of the new Afghan government in order to facilitate contacts with them? What position will Russia take during UN talks on easing or lifting sanctions against the Taliban?

Sergey Lavrov: As things stand at the moment, nothing is restraining or hindering our contacts with the Taliban. Moreover, the UN Security Council sanctions, as set forth in the corresponding resolutions, are not preventing us from engaging in such contacts. On the contrary, UN Security Council resolutions stipulate the need to advance a political process, and without working together with the Taliban this is impossible.

We have been engaged in contacts with this movement for some years now, and these contacts have been primarily geared towards ensuring the safety ofr Russian nationals, facilitating intra-Afghan reconciliation and political process. I have not heard any suggestions within the UN Security Council about the need to ease or lift international sanctions at one of the forthcoming meetings. There is no need for this for us to be able to engage with the Taliban movement at this stage.

We all expect the Taliban to honour all the good-minded promises they made. For this reason, we will see whether the terrorist and drug trafficking threats are actually eliminated.

Question: The UN Secretary-General has warned of disastrous consequences of a putative economic collapse in Afghanistan. What do you think about the idea to unfreeze Afghan assets held by international organisations?

It appears from your remarks that your policy is to judge the Taliban by their deeds. In what way does the Taliban ideology differ from that of other Islamic groups in other parts of the world, such as the groups in Syria, which you are opposing and showering with bombs?

Sergey Lavrov: Syria, as you may know, is where the seat of terrorism is located. Practically the entire Syrian territory has been liberated, but the so-called de-escalation zone in Idlib province is under the sway of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an offspring of Jabhat al-Nusra. All the UN Security Council resolutions point out the nature of these terrorist organisations. I see no problem here from the point of view of destroying the terrorists in Syria.

We are holding talks with our Turkish partners, who signed with us, a couple of years ago now, a special agreement whereby they undertook to fight terrorists in the Idlib de-escalation zone and to separate them from armed groups that are not terrorist ones and to cooperate with the Turkish military. In just a few days from now, President of Russia Vladimir Putin will have yet another meeting with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The presidents will thoroughly analyse how this commitment is being implemented. It is being implemented at a rather slow pace. This is obvious.

As for the Taliban and comparisons between them and other groups, we cannot divide the terrorists into good guys and bad guys. There is a sufficient number of exemptions from sanctions imposed on the Taliban. This has been made on purpose to enable [the international community] to have a dialogue with them. It means that the UN Security Council recognises the Taliban as an inalienable part of Afghan society, which, for Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham are not. This is what makes the difference.

We will induce those who have seized power in Kabul following the flight of the foreign contingents to behave in a civilised way.

We have mentioned the unfreezing of the assets. We think that this matter should be given a practical consideration from the positions you have mentioned in quoting the UN Secretary-General.

Question: The Taliban Government have decided on the candidacies for their ambassador to Russia. Will Russia be prepared to issue an agreement to people proposed by the Taliban?

Sergey Lavrov: We have no information of anyone applying to us for an agrement. Serving in Moscow today is the ambassador appointed by the previous government. No one is urging an international recognition of the Taliban. We will proceed precisely from this principle if and when we receive a request regarding the appointment of a new ambassador.

Question: We have heard US President Joe Biden’s statement. He said that the period of relentless war has ended, and that the era of relentless diplomacy has been ushered in. Do you believe this?

What about Russia’s diplomatic property? Has there been any progress?

Even some of the members of the delegation had problems with their visas, let alone the fact that there was a danger that the Russian delegation would not be allowed into the UN General Assembly because of the vaccination requirements, with vaccines that were approved in the United States. Are they just trying to annoy us whenever they can?

Sergey Lavrov: I do not think that this is an attempt to annoy us in any way. Most likely they are just a bit at a loss over the resumption of in-person UN General Assembly meetings. I cannot blame the New York authorities for being overly cautious. This is a serious event, and a lot of people come here from all around the world. There are quite a few different variants of the virus already, so safety measures do not hurt.

It is another question, as you have so rightly put it, that we do not accept any attempts to discriminate against vaccines that are not registered in the United States but have proven time and again to be effective. Sputnik V is a case in point. Several EU countries, for example, Hungary and Slovakia, have approved our vaccines, and this should serve as an example for other EU and NATO members.

As for visas for our delegation, apart from the epidemiological situation, the delay in the granting of visas was obviously caused by political considerations. We have seen through this. A number of our employees have yet to obtain their visas, including State Duma members who are part of the delegation. We will see to it that the UN Secretariat leadership fulfils its duties as to ensuring compliance with all the provisions of the agreement between the UN and the United States, the headquarters host country. Instances of flagrant violation of this agreement and repeated failures to comply with the UN headquarters host country commitments have been piling up, including the confiscation of diplomatic property, as you have just mentioned. The UN Committee on Relations with the Host Country has said that this is unacceptable and wrong. The Secretary-General should have launched arbitration proceedings against the actions by the United States several years ago. We had a meeting yesterday, and I reminded him of this fact. I was glad that his Legal Counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares, was present at this meeting, since it is his duty to initiate these steps. They have been long overdue.

United States President Joe Biden said that the United States will no longer use force to change regimes abroad. “Never say never,” as the saying goes. We have seen how the Donald Trump administration pulled out of the Iranian nuclear deal that was concluded by the Barack Obama administration. Now that talks on fully restoring the JCPOA to settle the situation around the Iranian nuclear programme are underway, one of the questions the Iranians are asking the Americans is whether the agreement to restore this plan can include a clause binding future administrations to respect it? The Americans say that they cannot do this, since this is how their system works. International law is one thing, but their law is a nose of wax, and can be twisted about any way they so desire.

United States President Joe Biden said that an era of “relentless diplomacy” has been ushered in. This means that the Americans will seek to impose on other countries what they deem right for them by other means. This could include colour revolutions. They do not require any use of force, but are equally destructive. Just look at Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine, our neighbour.

We want the United States to make the next step and move beyond the commitment not to use force for reshaping other countries by actually refraining from doing this altogether. They must recognise that we are all different. We have different cultural, civilisational roots, but we share the same planet and must respect each other.

Question: According to our information, preparations for Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria’s Nuland’s visit to Moscow are underway. Where do these talks stand at this point? Can you give us a timeline for the visit? What does Moscow expect to receive in response to the temporary lifting of restrictions from someone who is on Russia’s black list?

Sergey Lavrov: If you have sources of information that let you know about this, I encourage you to ask them this question. The Foreign Ministry and the US State Department are working on a number of contacts. This is not the only matter under discussion.

When both parties decide on a date for contact to take place in order to discuss a specific issue, we will make a corresponding announcement.

Question: I have a question about the JCPOA. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that swift action is needed, because we are running out of time. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said yesterday that they were ready for that. They appear to be receiving mixed signals from the United States, but they should come up with an agreement soon. You were involved in making this deal happen. As a negotiator, have you any idea what will happen if the United States does not return to the agreement and Iran continues its nuclear programme? What is the worst-case scenario?

Sergey Lavrov: Iran is not doing anything illegal, because it is complying with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and an additional protocol to a comprehensive safeguards agreement. Iran is not complying with most of its obligations included in the JCPOA which are now not binding, because the Americans have destroyed the agreement.

The issue is about restoring it in full so that Iran has no reason to make exceptions to its commitments. The IAEA, including in the person of its Director General, is in contact with the Iranians. They have a complete picture of what is happening there. They are not being denied access to the work that Iran is doing as part of its nuclear programme. The IAEA has no reason to believe that the 2015 findings to the effect that there were no signs of the nuclear programme being re-oriented towards military needs have become outdated. They have no reason to revise these findings. They speak about this explicitly.

Of course, we want the talks on the full restoration of the JCPOA to resume as soon as possible. But, first, the government in Iran has just been formed. They say they will need a week or two (hopefully not more) to put together their negotiating team. There have been personnel changes. Second, when the United States withdrew from the JCPOA, Iran, for over a year, had been conscientiously complying  with its commitments under this document in hope that the United States would come to its senses and return to the deal. Of all people, our counterparts in Washington are not in a position to say that time is up. Indeed, it was carried out by the administration which is now gone, but this is the legacy of the current administration, especially since the JCPOA is its brainchild. It is only fair that it deliver bold action in addressing all related issues.

There are also sanctions that the US has illegally imposed on Iran, allegedly for violating the JCPOA. But the sanctions concern not just Iran. They have also imposed sanctions on everyone who carry out legal trade with Iran, including the supply of military products, which are no longer subject to a ban. These sanctions must be lifted as part of the reinstatement of the JCPOA. And Iran’s trading partners across all areas of commercial exchange must not be affected by America’s unilateral move.

Question: Will Iran’s economy collapse if the JCPOA is not restored?

Sergey Lavrov: We are not even considering scenarios like that. There is serious hope and cautious optimism that we will be able to achieve a result. At least everyone wants it, including the United States and Iran.

Question: The calm in the northwest of Syria has changed with Russia’s intense airstrikes in recent weeks, particularly ahead of the summit between President Erdogan and President Putin. Why is Russia stepping up its attacks just ahead of this summit?

And another question on Syria as well. Is there an agreement or consensus between Russia and the US following the meeting between the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and US National Security Council Coordinator Brett McGurk, which took place in Geneva? Thank you.

Sergey Lavrov: We are using force in northwestern Syria in conformity with the requirements contained in UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which provides for an uncompromising struggle against terrorism in Syria.

I have mentioned that there was a special agreement on Idlib between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Our Turkish colleagues have committed themselves to separating the normal and sensible opposition forces from the terrorists. This should have been done long ago. So far, this has not happened. There is slow progress, but the threats of terrorism from the militants in the Idlib de-escalation zone are constantly renewed. These people are attacking the positions of the Syrian army and have repeatedly tried to launch strike drones to attack the Russian Khmeimim Air Base.

Our Turkish friends are well aware that we will not put up with this behaviour and with these militants’ attitude to the role performed by the Turkish military in the Idlib de-escalation zone. We will have detailed discussions as part of preparations for the presidential meeting. The September 29 summit will focus on ways to achieve what we have agreed upon and prevent the terrorists from ruling the roost.

As for contacts with the US regarding the right bank of the Euphrates, they are held periodically. We draw their attention to the fact that the US presence in Syria is illegitimate, to the outrageous situation in the 55-kilometre zone called Al-Tanf, which they have occupied, and to the situation at the Rukban camp located in the US-controlled territory. This is a long story.

The contacts taking place between the foreign ministries and the security councils are mostly about the fact that the Americans are present [in Syria] illegally, illegitimately, but they are there.  This is the reality. Given their tendency to fire all their guns with or without reason, we are negotiating the so-called deconflicting mechanism with them.   It is working. Let me draw your attention to the fact that it is functioning despite the legal bans on contacts between the militaries imposed by the US Congress. Not so long ago, the heads of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff officially announced that this was unreasonable and that the bans on military contacts should be lifted. I think this will do good both to the deconflicting process in Syria and our further arms dialogue as a whole.

Question: Turkey has expressed concerns about the voting in Crimea in the recent State Duma elections. This is despite the fact that Russia has provided humanitarian assistance for COVID-19 to Turkey, as well as military cooperation. My question is: could you address the imbalance, what is your analysis of the imbalance in relations?

Sergey Lavrov: Turkey was not the only one to voice “concerns” or “denounce” the vote in Crimea. I can give you two explanations for this “commotion.” First, five years ago, when the previous State Duma elections were held, no one made any statements of this kind, at least not that strong. Had this been the case, I would have remembered it, but no such thing occurred.

However, now they are pouncing on this issue, including the hectic efforts to convene the so-called Crimea Platform in Kiev, and all the commotion around the election. I think that this is an attempt to divert attention from the fact that Kiev, under President Vladimir Zelensky’s leadership, has shamefully failed to honour its commitments under the Minsk Agreements on overcoming the intra-Ukrainian conflict in the east of the country. It is obvious. The adopted laws have been a de-facto obstacle to granting southeastern Ukraine the status required under the Minsk Agreements.

We drew the attention of our German and French colleagues, as well as the European Union to the fact that their “clients” are negating UN Security Council resolutions, because it was the Security Council that approved the Minsk Agreements. Unfortunately, they are all bashfully looking the other way, while President Vladimir Zelensky understood that all he needed to do was divert attention from his own failures and the fact that the Minsk Agreements were sabotaged. Therefore, they are now playing the Crimean card.

A lack of professionalism in foreign policy is the second reason why they are doing this. Professionals know all too well that the Crimea question is closed once and for all.

Question: My second question is regarding Mali. France has expressed concern about the presence of military contractors from Russia in Mali. They are now being joined by their European allies speaking about this concern. My question is: what is Russia’s position on this?

Sergey Lavrov: I have heard these questions. Foreign Minister of France Jean-Yves Le Drian, and EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, have raised them with me.

Mali currently has a transitional government. Those authorities are undertaking efforts to restore the constitutional order, prepare elections and return to civilian rule. The elections are scheduled to take place in February under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union.

Mali’s transitional government has emphasised its commitment to international obligations and is combatting terrorism. It has called upon a private Russian military company because, to my understanding, France intends to substantially reduce its military presence there, and these troops were tasked with fighting terrorists entrenched in the north, in an area called Kidal. But they did not succeed, and terrorist are still in control there.

The Malian authorities considered their own capabilities insufficient without support from abroad, but those who had promised to eliminate terrorism in this country decided to draw down their presence. So they went to a Russian private military company. We have nothing to do with this. This activity is legal and consists of a relationship between the host country, which is a legitimate government recognised by everyone as a legitimate transitional structure, on the one hand, and those offering their services as foreign experts.

Let me emphasise that apart from private military companies, the Russian state has been making its own contribution to ensuring Mali’s defence capability and combat readiness for eliminating the terrorist threat and other threats. We do this by supplying military equipment as part of our assistance. We also work within the UN Security Council to devise the best approaches to further peacebuilding efforts.

I do not see any reason to question this. Yesterday I had a meeting with Mali’s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Abdoulaye Diop, who talked to the press on this matter. There are no questions here. In fact, the problem lies elsewhere. Our colleagues from the European Union, as Josep Borrell told me, are asking us to stop working in Africa altogether, because this is “their place.” It would be better for the EU and the Russian Federation to align their actions in fighting terrorism not only in Mali, but in the Sahara-Sahelian region in general. Claiming that “they were there first, so we must leave” is, first, an insult to the Bamako government that has invited its foreign partners, and second, it is not the way to treat anyone.

Question: Shortly before the Russian parliamentary elections, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the European Commission to refuse to recognise the results of the vote. Did you discuss this with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell? Will the EU recognise the results of the Russian State Duma elections?

Sergey Lavrov: We have not heard any assessments from the European Union proper because the European Parliament is not a body that determines EU policy. I spoke about this with Josep Borrell; I quoted some of the assessments made during his remarks in the European Parliament, including the absolutely unacceptable statements that the European Union distinguishes between “the regime” in Moscow and the Russian people.

He made some rather awkward and vague excuses. It was quite obvious that he realised the phrasing was lame at the very least. I hope that was just a phrase, not the idea. This happens. Sometimes we let something slip only to regret it later.

We have no information about anyone officially rejecting the results of our elections, which have just been announced.

Question: France calls for a review of the recent nuclear submarine deal between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom to verify its compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). What is your opinion on this matter? What do you generally think of this new triple alliance, which has created such a stir and runs counter to the partnership agreements in NATO and beyond?

Sergey Lavrov: This deal, signed immediately after the flight from Afghanistan, inevitably raises questions from the parties to these alliances. Probably, in addition to a commercial grievance, France is also thinking how reliable these alliances are and how this has increased the relevance of Europe’s strategic autonomy? These are big questions for the Western camp, and they have to address them.

We are not going to interfere in these matters. Yet, we might feel the consequences of what is happening there. This may affect our relations with the European Union, may spur the EU’s interest in cooperating with us, in using the obvious geopolitical and geostrategic advantages of being on one huge continent, especially since the global growth centre is shifting towards Asia.

I have discussed this with many participants here who represent the European Union and who do not like what is happening. Especially when the EU says they should “push back against, constrain, and engage” with Russia. I asked Josep Borrell how they were going to “engage with us,” exactly. Do you know what he answered? “Get out of Mali.” That is all there is to this policy, to this triad. That’s what it is worth. I am being honest. I do not think there is a violation of any ethical norms here because they are also talking about this publicly. I am just giving examples to illustrate their way of thinking.

As regards the Non-Proliferation Treaty, this matter is being discussed a lot on the sidelines in Vienna. The IAEA is responsible for the non-proliferation regime and for ensuring that nuclear research is not diverted to military needs. For a submarine, uranium must be enriched to 90 percent. This is weapons-grade uranium. We will probably have to ask for an IAEA expert review.

A similar attempt to develop such submarines by a non-nuclear country was made a few decades ago. The project was eventually scrapped then, and that settled the whole matter. But now, this deal has been signed. If the IAEA confirms it is in line with nuclear safety and non-diversion to military needs, there will be a queue for such submarines.

Question: In the lead up to the high-level week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a warning that the world might be drawn into a new vastly more dangerous cold war if the US and China fail to mend their completely collapsed relations. He called for the avoidance of a new confrontation at any cost, and also warned that it would be more dangerous than the cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States and dealing with its aftereffects would be much more difficult. What does Russia have to say to these statements?

Sergey Lavrov: Make no mistake, we had this issue on our radar screen even before UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres mentioned it. We see that tensions in China-US relations are escalating. We are aware of who is “playing the first violin” in this not too pleasant turn of events. This worries us. Confrontational schemes do not help the people of our planet to live a normal life: be it the recently announced Indo-Pacific Strategy, which explicitly proclaimed containing China, including in the South China Sea, one of its main goals, or QUAD that was formed as part of these strategies, or, by the same token, the purported AUKUS “triple alliance,” the purpose of which is to help Australia contain the “Chinese threat.”

Yesterday and today, I met with a number of ministers representing ASEAN member countries and asked them how things were going. Talks are underway between China and ASEAN to draft a legally binding code of conduct in the South China Sea. Things are not moving fast, but this is the most reliable way to ensure freedom of navigation and everything else that worries our Western partners to the extent that they keep holding provocative and non-provocative naval manoeuvres and creating anti-Chinese geopolitical schemes. We stand for mutually respectful relations between the great powers that never escalate into a nuclear war. The presidents of Russia and the United States, Vladimir Putin and Joseph Biden, confirmed the unacceptability of this at the Geneva summit. Any kind of war between nuclear powers is unacceptable, because the risks of it escalating into a nuclear conflict are enormous. Humanity has not come up with anything new in this regard. We must talk and strive to find a compromise and get along. As President Trump put it, we must “make a deal.” This is the right expression to use not only in business, but in politics as well. Politics is needed to create a proper environment for normal life, rather than for someone to promote their ambitions, so that everyone agrees that they are “the coolest guy on Earth.” This is obvious to normal people. Great powers must act responsibly with regard to their people and the rest of humanity.

President Putin proposed holding a UN Security Council permanent members’ summit. The pandemic has delayed this work. We have resumed it now. We aim to come to an agreement with our partners from China and the three Western permanent members of the UN Security Council on specific issues which will then be included in the agenda, and on the format of discussions (we may start out online). Talks are the only way to resolve the issues at hand. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council must set an example to other countries.

Question: In connection with the withdrawal of foreign contingents – official and informal mercenaries – from Libya, disputes arose about over whether it would be better to withdraw them only after the elections, upon receipt of an official request from a new government. Some say this should take place before December 24 to ensure fair and legitimate elections. The spokesman for the Presidential Council said today that you highlighted two points at a meeting with Mohammed al-Menfi: the need for a settlement between the Libyan parties and the withdrawal of foreign troops. Does Russia think it should be done before or after the elections?

Sergey Lavrov: Before or after the elections is not a critical matter. Most importantly, the final document of the second International Conference on Libya held in Berlin in June reads as follows: all foreign armed people must leave Libya. Our Turkish colleagues made a reservation saying they had been invited there by the legitimate leadership in the person of the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord, Fayez al-Sarraj. However, the other part of Libyan society – the Tobruk Parliament – is no less legitimate. Both of these bodies were created under the Skhirat Agreement. The legitimate parliament along with the legitimate Libyan national army invited armed personnel, whom they have on their payroll, to come and join them from abroad. Concurrently, there were people who can be referred to as mercenaries. People are being transferred from Syria (to both sides), Chad and other African countries.

From the outset, the moment it came up in our discussions, we said that we were in favour of doing this. Considering that foreign military forces are on both sides of the Libyan confrontation, we must make sure that they move out in small groups and simultaneously, so as not to create a military advantage on one side at any point in time. A ceasefire has been observed in Libya for over a year now. No one should be tempted to think that they can return to military methods and try to use force to resolve that country’s problems.

Question: Is Russia facilitating the withdrawal of troops from Libya?

Sergey Lavrov: They should deal with this in their 5+5 commission. We are ready to help, but if they continue to address non-priority matters, there will be no elections on December 24, 2021. They have just adopted the legislative framework for the elections. Then the Parliament voted on the legitimacy of Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh’s Government of National Unity. They need to be pushed towards an earnest discussion about how to live on. There are already speculations about whether the current leaders can run for office (reportedly, there was an agreement that they would not participate, but they want to). Our colleagues in the Secretariat are trying to create artificial difficulties when it comes to the format of the UN presence in Libya. They had better concentrate on fulfilling what we agreed on a year ago now. Nobody expected this. They should not be trying to change this to promote someone’s interests or advance hidden agendas.

Question: At what stage are the US-Russia strategic stability talks at the moment? As for nuclear weapons, what is Russia’s reaction to the recent missile launches in North and South Korea? What could work as an incentive for Kim Jong-un to return back to the negotiating table?

Sergey Lavrov: I heard that Pyongyang is sending signals about North Korea’s interest in normalising relations with South Korea. We have always stood for a direct dialogue between the North and the South. However, it was not always supported by the previous US administration, which wanted to control the process. I hope that in the new situation, the Biden administration will be ready to make more constructive steps to encourage the resumption of normal contacts between North and South Korea.

Missile launches don’t help. We noticed that this time, Seoul tried not to over-dramatise. I think this is the right thing to do. Once we begin to resort to public condemnation and strong rhetoric, this significantly reduces our incentives for diplomatic, professional, and calm dialogue. The final agreement can only be reached through confidential and quiet negotiations, rather than mutual recriminations through loudspeakers.

As regards the strategic stability talks with the United States, the first round took place in July. The second is due next week.

Question: As the UN General Assembly is meeting in New York, the Southern District Court in New York has again denied Russian citizen Konstantin Yaroshenko’s appeal. He continues to be held in American dungeons, as does Viktor Bout. There have been occasional reports in the media about their possible exchange for Americans. Whose court is the ball in? How realistic is the exchange scenario?

Sergey Lavrov: It is difficult to make any predictions or promises on behalf of the United States. We have tried many times to change our citizens’ situation by invoking the Council of Europe Convention on Transfer of Sentenced Persons. The United States is a party to this Convention, just as we are. They categorically refuse to hear anything, including our arguments that both Yaroshenko and Bout (as well as a number of others) have been actually lured into a trap by provocations. They have been literally kidnapped, which is against the law. In Bout’s case, the Thai laws were violated – not all procedures were followed; with Yaroshenko, it was Liberia’s. There was also a case where they took Roman Seleznev in the Maldives in a gangster manner – they just put him on an aircraft and he was flown away. Nobody knew anything. Such methods of provoked attacks on our people are being used to achieve something. Either to persuade them to cooperate, or for some other reason. This is unacceptable.

About prisoner exchanges – Presidents Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden touched upon this matter in Geneva, among other things. They agreed that the respective Russian and US security services in charge of this matter will try to negotiate some mutually acceptable options. So far, we haven’t come to any agreement. The United States is only interested in getting its citizens back and does not seem to take our interests very seriously. They are interested in Paul Whelan, who is convicted of espionage. He was caught red-handed. This crime cannot be even compared with the reasons Yaroshenko and Bout got their sentences in excess of 20 years in prison. We are ready to talk. There are other American citizens as well. For some reason, they are not of interest to the administration in Washington. But talking is always better than not talking.

Question: On the JCPOA, the United States wants to discuss [inaudible] the Middle East. Will this be included into the JCPOA?  And on Syria, why doesn’t Damascus allow the UN to have humanitarian trips there? I know that there is a compromise made in the UN Security Council, but it does not seem to make sense. Does Syria or Damascus think that UN workers are Trojan horses?

Sergey Lavrov: Regarding the JCPOA, all we want is for it to resume without any preconditions. Attempts to add them as a requirement to expand the talks to include the Iranian missile programme or to discuss Iran’s “behaviour” in the region, as our Western colleagues say, have no future. This is like comparing apples and oranges. The agreement on the nuclear programme is a separate subject. If there are any concerns as to someone’s behaviour, Iran’s regional partners are not the only ones to have such concerns. Teheran has its own misgivings regarding them, which is totally normal for any region of the world.

The Persian Gulf countries engage in far-reaching foreign policy activities far beyond their regions. This must be taken into consideration. In this connection, we noted that many years ago Russia drafted a Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf region suggesting a dialogue inspired to some degree by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. This included discussing confidence-building measures, military transparency and attending each other’s exercises, as well as engaging in positive joint projects. Political scientists from the region and other countries have already discussed this topic. In August 2021, we updated our collective security approach for the Persian Gulf region and released it as an official UN General Assembly and Security Council document. We believe that it is at a forum of this kind, and we hope that we will succeed in convening it, that we need to discuss concerns over the presence of missiles in this region, since Iran is not alone in this regard, and what kind of policies various parties follow. The conflict in Yemen is a case in point in terms of exposing the interests of Arab countries and Iran. There is a need to reach agreements. We believe that this forum should reach beyond the Gulf region. You cannot separate Iraq, Egypt and Jordan in terms of their engagement in shaping a new common platform for constructive dialogue. The Arab League, and the five permanent members of the UN Security must all be involved. Probably, the European Union will also be interested. We believe this approach to be concrete and realistic, at least I had the impression that our colleagues were interested in it. Yesterday, I met with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and they are interested in this topic. We agreed to make it a priority as we resume our ministerial contacts.

As for humanitarian aid to Syria, yesterday I had a lengthy conversation on this topic with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. We cannot be satisfied with a situation where double standards are being used in the most flagrant and blatant manner. There are six million refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, or maybe even more. In November 2020, Russia and 20 other countries helped Damascus hold a conference on refugees. It focused on creating conditions that would enable refugees to return home, which is what most of them want. The fact that the United States did everything to intimidate those who were expected to attend this conference in Damascus, and the fact that the UN did not take part in the conference was a real shock for us. In fact, the UN representative in Damascus was the only person representing the UN as an observer. At the time, I wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying that this amounted to a failure to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 that provides a framework for the UN’s activity on the Syrian track. It clearly stipulates efforts to facilitate humanitarian deliveries and creating conditions that would enable refugees to return to Syria.

Early in 2021, the European Union held an annual conference on Syrian refugees in Brussels, without the Syrian Arab Republic, but co-chaired by the EU and the UN Secretary-General. How perplexing. Not only was Syria not present, which is already a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, but the funds collected at the conference went towards paying for the accommodation of refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, instead of being used to restore infrastructure in Syria. For this reason, I ask those of our friends from the media who worry about ordinary people in conflict zones, to note that initiatives of this kind make a mockery of international humanitarian law.

We adopted the compromise resolution in July. It is true that it extends the so-called cross-border humanitarian aid mechanism for another six months, with deliveries primarily coming from Turkey to the Idlib de-escalation zone. However, considering that the West clings to this mechanism that has not been agreed with Damascus and runs counter to the international humanitarian law, we have every reason to believe that there is some kind of hidden agenda there. We do not get any information on what is in the lorries heading to the Idlib de-escalation zone. The UN swears that they inspect every lorry, but there is no way this can be verified. Even more so, no one knows how this aid or whatever these boxes contain is distributed in the Idlib de-escalation zone, or whether terrorists from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other unacceptable structures benefit from this aid.

Unless specific measures are taken to unblock humanitarian aid deliveries through Damascus, as required under international humanitarian law, we will put an end to this untransparent cross-border activity. Moreover, since the adoption of the resolution requiring that aid be sent into Syria through Damascus as well, there was only one convoy, and even it was far from complete. About half of the supplies that had been waiting to be delivered for almost a year could not reach their destination. The convoy organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent back in April 2020 remained where it was. Those who care about the starving population must, first, appeal to the Western countries that can influence this situation, and second, reach out to the UN leadership so that it complies with the relevant resolution. Apart from purely the humanitarian aspects, on assisting Syria and humanitarian deliveries, this resolution calls for the so-called early recovery projects, including water supply, electricity, housing, schools and healthcare. This must be done, and the UN Secretariat knows this. Syrians currently face so much hardship. Throughout the Syrian crisis the UN Secretariat did little to create conditions facilitating the return of refugees. However, the UN Security Council Resolution is there. It has been adopted unanimously, and has to be carried out.

Question: Yesterday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared that the Palestinians would withdraw their recognition of the State of Israel, if Israel did not cease its occupation within one year.  This will lead to chaos in the Middle East. What can the Russian Federation as a friend of the Palestinians and a country maintaining good relations with Israel do to avoid this scenario? After the Palestinians lost faith in the efficacy of the peace process, do they have the right to defend themselves and resist the occupation?

Sergey Lavrov: All right, let’s talk about the Palestinian-Israeli problems. These problems are certainly grave ones. They were not helped by the “casting about” we observed during the previous US administration. I am referring to both their recognition of the Golan Heights and the attempts to promote what was actually an annexation inscribed in the context of the efforts to create a quasi Palestinian state. What is important here is that the Biden administration has confirmed its commitment to the two-state approach. But the Israeli prime minister is not confirming this commitment, although there are politicians in Israel and in the Israeli parliament, who have different views on how to ensure security of the Jewish State without living under constant strain and hitting targets threatening Israel. [According to them], the alternative is to come to an agreement and build a stable and peaceful life through a two-state safe and prosperous coexistence in keeping with the principles of a settlement endorsed by the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly. The current Israeli leaders are maintaining contacts that mostly boil down to keeping security in the Palestinian territories.

We believe that it would be a major mistake if the processes in the region – Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, etc. – make us forget about the Palestinian question. After all, it is the outgrowth of this planet’s longest-lasting modern conflict, a conflict that other powers sought to settle through the creation of two states. One state was established in no time, but the other state is still to be created.

I believe that the decision approved by the Arab League at the initiative of the King of Saudi Arabia almost 20 years ago now was a wise decision. I am referring to the Arab Peace Initiative, which said that the Arab countries would normalise their relations with Israel immediately after the creation of a viable Palestinian state conforming to all the UN-defined criteria. That was quite a specimen of statecraft. But the Trump administration attempted to turn everything upside down. The Abraham Accords promoted by a number of Arab countries were based on the logic that the first thing to do was to normalise relations between the Arabs and Israel, with the Palestinian problem to be considered afterwards. We welcome any kind of normalisation between any states. Not at the expense of Palestine in this case. It is gratifying that all the signatories of the Abraham Accords, including Bahrain, the UAE, the Sudan, and Morocco stressed that they were fully committed to the UN decisions on the Palestinian problem. This is where we should stand.

You asked whether they have the right to fight. They will not ask [for anyone’s permission]. The unregulated state of the Palestinian problem is the gravest factor feeding radical sentiments on the Arab “street.”  The extremist preachers are saying that their people have been wronged, that they were promised a state of their own 80 years ago but it was a deception. Young people, particularly uneducated ones, are highly sensitive to this sort of propaganda. But my Israeli colleagues get offended when I explain to them this aspect of the Middle East situation and the impact of the lack of a settlement of the Palestinian problem is exerting on stability in the whole of the region. They say I am wrong and that the problem is not very serious. But this is a shortsighted approach.

This is the reason why we are supporting Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas’ proposal to convene an international conference. But we are confident that it must be thoroughly prepared, for which purpose we would like to resume the activities of the Quartet of international intermediaries consisting of Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations and to recruit for joint work, for example, the foursome of Arab countries – Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, and Bahrain – that have relations with Israel.   Probably Saudi Arabia, the author of the Arab Peace Initiative, should be invited as well. This makes 4+4+1+2 (Israel and Palestine). If some parties believe that it is still too early to meet in this format, we are ready to offer our territory as a venue and support any other invitation for Israel and Palestine to meet for direct talks. The important thing is to avoid procrastination. We will seek to support this approach in every way we can.

Most importantly, while what we have just discussed depends on many factors (some depend on Israel, some on other members of regional organisations), there is one matter that depends on no one but the Palestinians themselves. I am referring to Palestinian unity. Attempts were being made to restore it a couple of years ago now. Certain agreements seemed to be reached and a circle of elections was announced. But eventually nothing came of it.  The lack of rapport between Ramallah and Gaza carries a negative charge. If the Palestinians restored their unity, it would be easier and more effective for them to talk to Israel at future negotiations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once said that he did not know who to hold talks with, when it was unclear whom Mr Abbas was representing.  It looked like he had Ramallah alone, while Gaza was controlled by other people. These matters have a strong influence on any attempts to achieve major political results. The Palestinians are unwilling to restore unity. But we are actively working with all the Palestinian factions. I repeatedly invited them to Moscow. During the discussions they agree they should reunite, but later it all somehow goes amiss.

Question (retranslated from English): This week, the European Commission accused Russia of engaging in hacker attacks against European politicians and media representatives, in particular, German politicians and officials, in the run-up to tomorrow’s election in which they are participating. What is your response to these accusations? Do you have any expectations regarding the outcome of elections in Germany?

Trevor Reed’s family believes he was unjustly indicted and sentenced to an unreasonably long term. Could you comment on these statements as well?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already covered Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan, for that matter. Paul Whelan was arrested on espionage charges. He was caught red-handed. Trevor Reed was arrested for attacking and hitting a police officer several times. I am not sure how many years in prison people in the United States would get for violent attacks against a police officer. I think, many. Konstantin Yaroshenko and Viktor Bout were simply lured by deception into a deal where they used an aircraft for some purpose, which got them implicated into a case of arms and drug smuggling. They were sentenced to over 20 years in prison without having hurt anyone or having any intention to violate international rules for trading in particular types of goods. So, our US colleagues need to be consistent, if they are offended over someone being arrested here. The same standards should be applied to all situations. In the case of an attack on police officers, see what is happening at the trial on the “Capitol attack.”

With regard to the accusations advanced by the European Commission, we are willing to review the facts, but they simply will not give us any. We are being unfoundedly charged with the alleged poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko with polonium in London in 2007. They have not yet provided a single piece of evidence, but closed the process to the public and made it “official,” meaning that the judges can now consider secret materials behind closed doors. Now, they want to do the same with the process regarding the woman who died in Salisbury in the context of the Skripal case. They also want closed hearings on the causes of her death in order to avoid disclosing some secret documents. Nobody is making them available to us, but they blame us for everything. As with the Skripal case, they are also blaming us for the Malaysian Boeing case. The court in The Hague ruled that they had reason to believe the United States, which stated it had satellite images to prove that Russia had done it. But they did not show these images to anyone. The Dutch court considers this normal. They believe whatever the Americans say. Arnold Schwarzenegger famously said “trust me” in one of his films, and Ronald Reagan added “but verify.” So, we want to conduct verification. In the case of the MH17 flight, we provided the data from the radars and much more. The Ukrainians refused to share the data from their radars. Allegedly, they “went dead” during the crash. They refuse to provide the exchange between the air traffic controller and the pilots. This speaks volumes. And much more.

We’re being accused of interfering  in the US elections. I discussed this matter with my colleagues on many occasions, in particular, with former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He once said they had irrefutable evidence of Russia’s interference in the 2016 US elections, and I asked him to show it to me. He said they would not let us see it and that we should contact our special services for they would know what it was all about. That was all that was said. Is that okay?

The same goes for cyber attacks. The US authorities accused us (President Biden brought this issue up at a meeting with President Putin) or, rather our ransomware hackers, of attacking a meat processor and a fuel pipeline in the United States demanding them to pay ransom. Nobody showed us any evidence. President Biden, however, said their data show it is not the Russian Government that is doing this, but some people who are based in  Russia.

We let them know that most (about half) of the hacker attacks on our resources over the past year were carried out from the United States. Some originated in Germany and other countries. We have sent 45 official inquiries to our US colleagues indicating concrete facts that needed investigation. We received nine replies. We have received about 10 official inquiries and answered every one of them. I am heartened to know that the Americans agreed to move away from sporadic accusations and complaints and to begin systematic work on this matter after President Putin discussed this issue with President Biden in Geneva. The services that deal with cyber security have established dedicated communication channels. We hope that things will get going now.

With regard to the election in Germany, we wish every success to all its participants.

Question: Last week, the preliminary results of an investigation conducted by Justice Department special counsel John Durham into “Russiagate” were made public in the United States. The indictment mentioned one of the probe’s initiators. It is not the first paradoxical situation reported in the United States. American officials are overturning the US accusations against Russia.

The paradox is that the sanctions adopted against Russia have not been lifted despite the refutation. What is Moscow’s position on this score and what are its American partners saying?

Sergey Lavrov: You have answered your own question. It was unreasonable to do this before pondering the matter or investigating the situation. And it is a pity that after the situation was clarified they have not retraced their steps so as not to harm our bilateral relations. This is what American manners are all about. We have become accustomed to this. We will never ask for the sanctions to be lifted. The “limit” has been exhausted by neighbouring Ukraine, which continues making requests, unable to get its bearings of what is happening.  We are not going to act in this manner.

We do not have any other partners [in the US]. However, dialogue is gradually taking shape in some spheres, such as strategic stability and cybersecurity, which gives hope that we will bit by bit develop dialogue based on mutual respect at least in some spheres of international relations.

Question (retranslated from English): My question concerns Palestine. Many people say that Palestinian settlements are occupying too much land, that there are already half a million settlers. Do you think it’s time for the international community to settle the problem by creating one state for two peoples? Could you comment on this please?

As you are aware, WFP Executive Director David Beasley said just two days ago now that at least 50,000 Yemenis are starving and millions need humanitarian aid and food. Do you think that the international community, which includes Russia, has let the Yemeni people down by failing to put sufficient pressure on all the conflicting parties, including Saudi Arabia?

Sergey Lavrov: I would not say that the international community is not doing enough to convince the conflicting parties to sit down at the negotiating table not only to exchange accusations but also to come to some agreements.  There are a number of factors involved here, which are, regrettably, absolutely subjective and have to do with the desire of certain individuals to remain in power as long as possible, which is having a negative effect on the negotiating process and the possibility of compromise. I will not go into any details right now, but Yemen is indeed a country with the world’s largest humanitarian disaster, which was pointed out long ago, when the conflict had only just started and was in the hot phase.

We are involved through our Embassy. Our ambassador to Yemen is currently working from Riyadh, where a group of ambassadors are acting together to support the process and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen. I hope that everyone will gradually come to see the futility of trying to put off the necessary agreements.

As for the [Palestinian] settlements, we have always condemned the settlement policy, saying, just as you have so rightly pointed out, that this would create facts on the ground that will prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. I have heard about the one state solution where all people would have equal rights. I believe that this is unrealistic. Many academics say that this, if this should happen, will undermine the Jewish nature of the State of Israel. But if equal rights are not granted to everyone in Israel, it might become an apartheid state.

I am quite sure that the two-state solution is the only option. I would just like to point out that many people in the Israeli political elite share this same view and believe that this option must be promoted more actively.

Raisi: US Efforts to Impose Hegemony Have ‘Failed Miserably’

September 22, 2021

Raisi: US Efforts to Impose Hegemony Have ‘Failed Miserably’

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian President Sayyed Ebrahim Raisi said the US efforts to impose hegemony on other countries have “failed miserably,” and that Washington’s hegemonic system lacks credibility.

Raisi made the remarks during the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly via video conference on Tuesday night, in his first address to the main policy-making organ of the world body since taking office last month.

“This year, two scenes made history: one was on January 6 when the US congress was attacked by the people and, two, when the people of Afghanistan were dropped down from the US planes in August. From the Capitol to Kabul, one clear message was sent to the world: the US’ hegemonic system has no credibility, whether inside or outside the country,” Raisi told the UN General Assembly.

“What is seen in our region today proves that not only the hegemonist and the idea of hegemony, but also the project of imposing Westernized identity have failed miserably. The result of seeking hegemony has been blood-spilling and instability and, ultimately, defeat and escape. Today, the US does not get to exit Iraq and Afghanistan but is expelled,” he added.

The Iranian president further noted that Washington is using sanctions as a “new way of war” against other nations, stressing that the US sanctions against the Islamic Republic during the coronavirus pandemic are “crimes against humanity.”

“Sanctions are the US’ new way of war with the world countries. Sanctions against the Iranian nation started not with my country’s nuclear program; they even predate the Islamic Revolution and go back to the year 1951 when oil nationalization went underway in Iran,” Raisi said at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

“Despite the fact that the Islamic Republic was keen from the outset to purchase and import COVID-19 vaccines from reliable international sources, it faced inhumane medical sanctions. Sanctions, especially on medicine at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, are crimes against humanity,” he noted.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian president stressed that Tehran has been adhering to its nuclear commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] while Washington violated the 2015 landmark accord‎, stressing that the US so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran has failed.

“Today, the whole world, including the Americans themselves, have admitted that the project of countering the Iranian people, which manifested itself in the form of violating the JCPOA and was followed by the “maximum pressure” and arbitrary withdrawal from an internationally recognized agreement, has totally failed,” Raisi said.

“We want nothing more than what is rightfully ours. We demand the implementation of international rules. All parties must stay true to the nuclear deal and the UN Resolution in practice,” he added.

Raisi also said that Iran has “no trust in US promises,” and wants all anti-Tehran sanctions to be removed at once, noting that the Islamic Republic considers the nuclear talks useful only when their ultimate outcome is the lifting of all unilateral sanctions.

حزن ميقاتي وأربعة أسئلة في القانون الدولي مفاهيم تحدّد مسألة السيادة في قوافل المازوت

 ناصر قنديل

طرح كلام رئيس الحكومة نجيب ميقاتي عن توصيف عبور قوافل المازوت الإيراني الذي استورده حزب الله وجلبه عبر الحدود السورية من دون الخضوع للإجراءات الحكومية، بالانتهاك للسيادة اللبنانية، سؤالاً عن مفهوم السيادة في قضية القوافل وعبورها، من الزاوية القانونية، وفقاً لمعايير القانون الدولي، لأنه ثمة ما هو معلوم من الزاوية السياسية بأن المقاومة لم تمتنع عن الالتزام بالخضوع للإجراءات الحكومية عبر الحدود، بل إن الحكومة هي التي فضلت عدم الانخراط في أي صلة بالقوافل تلافياً لإثارة أي التباس يوحي بشراكتها تفادياً لتعرضها للعقوبات الأميركية، كما هو معلوم أن كلام الرئيس ميقاتي عن انتهاك السيادة هو مقصد سياسي للقول إن الحكومة لم تكن على صلة، طلباً لذات الهدف، أي تفادي العقوبات الأميركية، ما يستدعي فحص ومعاينة المصطلح والتحقق من مدى ملاءمته للحالة التي نتحدث عنها توصيفاً واستنتاجاً.

السؤال الأول الذي يطرحه الموضوع هو طالما أننا لا نتحدث عن عقوبات دولية تحظر المتاجرة مع إيران أو عبر سورية، فما هو التوصيف القانوني للعقوبات الأميركية في حالة لبنان، والجواب نجده في معاهدة لاهاي التي تتحدث عن مفهوم الاحتلال، بصفته تعبيراً يتجاوز مجرد الوجود العسكري الأجنبي الذي لا يصبح احتلالاً إلا بمقدار ما يفرض مشيئته على الأرض التي توصف محتلة بذات نسبة سيطرة المشيئة الأجنبية على إجراءاتها وتدخلها في تغيير وجهة ممارسة السيادة عليها، فيصير السؤال هو، لو لم تكن هناك عقوبات أميركية، هل كان لدى الحكومة اللبنانية مشكلة في أن تتعامل بصورة سيادية مع القوافل، وهل أن الذي استولى على الصلاحيات السيادية للدولة وحل مكانها هو الأميركي الذي استولى على سلطة السماح والمنع أم المقاومة التي كانت جاهزة للخضوع للإجراءات الحكومية، وهل أن الحكومة لديها قرار سيادي يحظر الاستيراد من إيران وعبر سورية خرقته المقاومة، أم أن المقاومة خرقت قواعد الاستيلاء الأميركي على هذا البعد من القرار السيادي للحكومة؟

عندما  نوصف السيطرة الأميركية على القرار السيادي للدولة، بالاحتلال لأنه يتولى ممارسة سلطة على أرض ليست أرضه ويفرض عليها تشريعات ليست نابعة من السلطات السيادية الشرعية، يصير السؤال القانوني هل أن الحكومة بمؤسساتها السيادية قامت بما يلزم لردع هذا الاحتلال وتحرير بلادها منه، أم أنها خضعت أو تغاضت أو استسلمت أو أعلنت عجزها، وفي كل هذه الحالات التي لحظها القانون الدولي هل يصبح الاحتلال شرعياً، ويصبح التسليم بمشيئة الاحتلال قانونياً، والجواب قاطع بالنفي في كل المداولات والمناقشات الخاصة بحالة الاحتلال التي ينتهي البحث فيها باعتبار المقاومة التي تنظمها الشعوب بوجه الاحتلال لإسقاط مشيئته هي الرد القانوني المشروع والسيادي.

المقاومة المسلحة هي الجواب عندما يكون الاحتلال الذي يفرض المشيئة عسكرياً، وكسر المشيئة بذاتها بالتمرد على مندرجاتها كدعوة الشعب لرفض دفع الضرائب لسلطات الاحتلال هو نوع من المقاومة المشروعة، وفي حالة الاستيلاء الأميركي على السلطة السيادية للدولة في تحديد شروط المتاجرة والعبور، يكون كسر هذه المشيئة مقاومة مشروعة لا تقبل الاجتهاد، يزيده مشروعية تلكؤ الحكومة أو استسلامها أو تغاضيها أو عجزها أو خضوعها، بما يجعل التخلي الحكومي عن ممارسة الحق السيادي وارتضاء استيلاء الأجنبي عليه إطلاقاً لحق المقاومة المشروع باسترداد هذا الحق وفرض ممارسته من الشعب الذي تمثله المقاومة، كما في حال المقاومة العسكرية للاحتلال بالقوة العسكرية.

وفقاً للمفهوم القانوني للسيادة، الذي ينتهك هو صاحب العقوبات الذي نصب نفسه صاحب المشيئة في فرض القوانين بدلاً من السلطات الوطنية المحلية، ليصير قوة احتلال وفقاً للتعريف القانوني، وليست المقاومة التي تمردت على الإجراءات التي فرضها الاستيلاء على القرار السيادي للدولة وتلكؤ الدولة في مواجهة هذا الاستيلاء وخضوعها للمشيئة الأجنبية، بل إن المقاومة تصبح قانونياً الممثل الشرعي للشعب في ممارسة السيادة في إسقاط الاحتلال بصفته مشيئة أجنبية تفرض تشريعاتها على الأرض الوطنية للدولة من خارج الممارسات السيادية لمؤسسات الدولة وتشريعاتها.

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Weaponizing Dollar | 10 Minutes

Sep 1, 2021

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إعلام محور المقاومة

22/06/2021

فجأة ودون سابق إنذار تمّ إغلاق مواقع تابعة لقنوات تلفزيونيّة لمحور المقاومة، وأعلن على صفحاتها الرئيسية أنها تغلق بقرار من وزارة العدل الأميركيّة، والإغلاق سواء كان رسمياً أو عبر قراصنة هو تعبير عن هشاشة المزاعم الأميركيّة حول التمسك بحرية الرأي والإعلام، والسابقة ليست جديدة فهي تعبير عن استمرار سبقه الكثير من إجراءات القمع التي بدأت مع تصنيف مؤسسات إعلاميّة على لوائح الإرهاب. وكانت البداية مع قناة المنار.

اللافت أن هذا يجري في بداية ولاية الرئيس الأميركي الجديد جو بايدن، الذي جعل في مقاربته لإعادة صياغة سياسات بلاده عنوان حقوق الإنسان المرجع الذي يوجّهها، وأول هذه الحقوق حق التعبير، فعندما تفاوض واشنطن مع طهران لرفع العقوبات والعودة إلى الاتفاق النووي، لا تفعل ذلك بحساب الاعتراف بحق الشعب الإيراني، بل دفعاً لما تعتقده الأصعب وهو امتلاك إيران لسلاح نووي. والسياسة الفعلية لواشنطن هي ما يجسّده قرار إقفال موقع قناة العالم ومواقع قناة المسيرة اليمنيّة وقناة الكوثر العراقية وقناة فلسطين اليوم، وكلها مواقع إعلاميّة لا تحمل إلا الآراء.

في الوقت نفسه يصمت الأميركي عن انتهاكات جدية ومؤلمة لحقوق الإنسان، واعتداءات موصوفة على حرية التعبير، فتسقط المعارضة الإماراتيّة آلاء الصديق في حادث مدبّر في لندن، كانت واشنطن ستشكل له لجنة تحقيق دولية لو كان المعني منشقاً روسياً، وستتخذ من باب الاحتياط عقوبات فورية حتى ينتهي التحقيق، وبالمثل بعد شهور من الوعود بالسير حتى النهاية في تحميل ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان مسؤوليّة قتل الصحافي جمال الخاشقجي، قرّر بايدن وقف أي ملاحقة بحق ابن سلمان.

يحظى نظام البحرين برعاية وحماية واشنطن رغم فضائح الانتهاكات التي توثقها كل الهيئات الدولية الأممية والمنظمات الحقوقية، حيث آلاف معتقلي الرأي يقبعون في السجون مهددين بتفشي وباء كورونا، ويعاني قادة كبار السن ومرضى بينهم من معاناة المرض من دون أن ينالوا أبسط رعاية صحية.

لا ترفّ عين المسؤولين الأميركيين عندما يقرأون التقارير عن أحوال الفقر في اليمن والمعاناة في سورية وفنزويلا، بل يتباهون بنتاج الحصار والعقوبات، وهم يعرفون ويعترفون أنهم يعاقبون الشعوب على خياراتها، كما فعلوا عندما رفضوا الاعتراف بنتائج الانتخابات الفلسطينية التي قاموا برعايتها عبر مؤسسة كارتر عندما جاءت النتائج تحمل قوى المقاومة إلى البرلمان.

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US blatant disregard for International laws | The Communiqué with Richard Medhurst

It’s a Nikolai Patrushev-Yang Jiechi world

May 31, 2021

It’s a Nikolai Patrushev-Yang Jiechi world

As Sino-Russo-Iranophobia dissolves in sanctions and hysteria, mapmakers carve the post-unilateral order

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

It’s the Nikolai Patrushev-Yang Jiechi show – all over again. These are the two players running an up and coming geopolitical entente, on behalf of their bosses Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.

Last week, Yang Jiechi – the director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee – visited Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev in Moscow. That was part of the 16thround of China-Russia strategic security consultations.

What’s intriguing is that Yang-Patrushev happened between the Blinken-Lavrov meeting on the sidelines of the Arctic Council summit in Reykjavik, and the upcoming and highest-ranking Putin-Biden in Geneva on June 16 (possibly at the Intercontinental Hotel, where Reagan and Gorbachev met in 1985).

The Western spin before Putin-Biden is that it might herald some sort of reset back to “predictability” and “stability” in currently extra-turbulent US-Russia relations.

That’s wishful thinking. Putin, Patrushev and Lavrov harbor no illusions. Especially when in the G7 in London, in early May, the Western focus was on Russia’s “malign activities” as well as China’s “coercive economic policies.”

Russian and Chinese analysts, in informal conversations, tend to agree that Geneva will be yet another instance of good old Kissingerian divide and rule, complete with a few seducing tactics to lure Moscow away from Beijing, an attempt to bide some time and probing openings for laying out geopolitical traps. Old foxes such as Yang and Patrushev are more than aware of the game in play.

What’s particularly relevant is that Yang-Patrushev laid the groundwork for an upcoming Putin visit to Xi in Beijing not long after Putin-Biden in Geneva – to further coordinate geopolitically, once again, the “comprehensive strategic partnership”, in their mutually recognized terminology.

The visit might take place on July 1, the hundredth anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party – or on July 16, the 20thanniversary of the China-Russia Treaty of Friendship.

So Putin-Biden is the starter; Putin-Xi is the main course.

That Putin-Luka tea for two

Beyond the Russian president’s “outburst of emotions” comment defending his Belarusian counterpart’s action, the Putin-Lukashenko tea for two in Sochi yielded an extra piece of the puzzle concerning the RyanAir emergency landing in Minsk– starring a blogger from Belarus who is alleged to have lent his services to the ultra-nationalist, neo-Nazi-ridden Azov battalion, which fought against the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in the Ukrainian Donbass in 2014.

Lukashenko told Putin he had “brought along some documents so you can understand what is going on.” Nothing has been leaked regarding the contents of these documents, but it’s possible they may be incandescent – related to the fact that sanctions were imposed by the EU against Belavia Airlines even though the carrier had nothing to do with the RyanAir saga – and potentially capable of being brought up in the context of Putin-Biden in Geneva.

The Big Picture is always Eurasia versus the Atlanticist West. As much as Washington will keep pushing Europe – and Japan – to decouple from both China and Russia, Cold War 2.0 on two simultaneous fronts has very few takers.

Rational players see that the 21st century combined scientific, economic and military power of a Russia-China strategic partnership would be a whole new ball game in terms of global reach compared with the former USSR/Iron Curtain era.

And when it comes to appealing to the Global South, and the new iterations of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), emphasis on an international order upholding the UN Charter and the rule of international law is definitely sexier than a much-vaunted “rules-based international order” where only the hegemon sets the rules.

In parallel to Moscow’s lack of illusions about the new Washington dispensation, the same applies to Beijing – especially after the latest outburst by Kurt Campbell, the former Obama-Biden 1.0 assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific who is now back as the head of Indo-Pacific Affairs on the National Security Council under Obama-Biden 3.0.

Campbell is the actual father of the ‘pivot to Asia’ concept when he was at the State Department in the early 2010s – although as I pointed out during the 2016 US presidential campaign, it was Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State who claimed Mothership of the pivot to Asia in an October 2011 essay.

At a gig promoted by Stanford University last week, Campbell said, “The period that was broadly described as engagement [with China] has come to an end.” After all, the “pivot to Asia” never really died, as there has been a clear Trump-Biden continuum.

Campbell obfuscated by talking about a “new set of strategic parameters” and the need to confront China by working with “allies, partners and friends”. Nonsense: this is all about the militarization of the Indo-Pacific.

That’s what Biden himself reiterated during his first address to a joint session of the US Congress, when he boasted about telling Xi that the US will “maintain a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific” just as it does with NATO in Europe.

The Iranian factor

On a different but parallel track with Yang-Patrushev, Iran may be on the cusp of a momentous directional change. We may see it as part of a progressive strengthening of the Arc of Resistance – which links Iran, the People’s Mobilization Units in Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen and now a more unified Palestine.

The proxy war on Syria was a tragic, massive fail on every aspect. It did not deliver secular Syria to a bunch of takfiris (aka “moderate rebels”). It did not prevent the expansion of Iran’s sphere of influence.  It did not derail the Southwest Asia branch of the New Silk Roads. It did not destroy Hezbollah.

“Assad must go”? Dream on; he was reelected with 95% of Syrian votes, with a 78% turnout.

As for the upcoming Iranian presidential election on June 18 – only two days after Putin-Biden – it takes place when arguably the nuclear deal revival drama being enacted in Vienna will have reached an endgame. Tehran has repeatedly stressed that the deadline for a deal expires today, May 31.

The impasse is clear. In Vienna, through its EU interlocutors, Washington has agreed to lift sanctions on Iranian oil, petrochemicals and the central bank, but refuses to remove them on individuals such as members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

At the same time, in Tehran, something very intriguing happened with Ali Larijani, former Parliament speaker, an ambitious member of a quite prominent family but discarded by the Guardian Council when it chose candidates to run for President. Larijani immediately accepted the ruling. As I was told by Tehran insiders, that happened with no friction because he received a detailed explanation of something much bigger: the new game in town.

As it stands, the one positioned as the nearly inevitable winner on June 18 seems to be Ebrahim Raeisi, up to now the chief justice – and close to the Revolutionary Guards. There’s a very strong possibility that he will ask the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to leave Iran – and that means the end of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as we knew it, with unforeseen consequences. (From the Revolutionary Guards’ point of view, the JCPOA is already dead).

An extra factor is that Iran is currently suffering from severe drought – when summer has not even arrived. The power grid will be under tremendous pressure. The dams are empty – so it’s impossible to rely on hydroelectric power. There’s serious popular discontent regarding the fact that Team Rouhani for eight years prevented Iran from obtaining nuclear power. One of Raeisi’s first acts may be to command the immediate construction of a nuclear power plant.

We don’t need a weatherman to see which way the wind is blowin’ when it comes to the top three “existential threats” to the declining hegemon – Russia, China and Iran. What’s clear is that none of the good old methods deployed to maintain the subjugation of the vassals is working – at least when confronted by real sovereign powers.

As Sino-Russo-Iranophobia dissolves in a fog of sanctions and hysteria, mapmakers like Yang Jiechi and Nikolai Patrushev relentlessly carve the post-unilateral order.

The Vienna shadowplay

The Vienna shadowplay

April 27, 2021

None of the actors can admit that revival of JCPOA pales compared with the real issue: Iranian missile power

by Pepe Escobar and first posted at Asia Times

Few people, apart from specialists, may have heard of the JCPOA Joint Commission. That’s the group in charge of a Sisyphean task: the attempt to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal through a series of negotiations in Vienna.

The Iranian negotiating team was back in Vienna yesterday, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi. Shadowplay starts with the fact the Iranians negotiate with the other members of the P+1 – Russia, China, France, UK and Germany – but not directly with the US.

That’s quite something: after all, it was the Trump administration that blew up the JCPOA. There is an American delegation in Vienna, but they only talk with the Europeans.

Shadowplay goes turbo when every Viennese coffee table knows about Tehran’s red lines: either it’s back to the original JCPOA as it was agreed in Vienna in 2015 and then ratified by the UN Security Council, or nothing.

Araghchi, mild-mannered and polite, has had to go on the record once again to stress that Tehran will leave if the talks veer towards “bullying”, time wasting or even a step-by-step ballroom dance, which is time wasting under different terminology.

Neither flat out optimistic nor pessimistic, he remains, let’s say, cautiously upbeat, at least in public: “We are not disappointed and we will do our job. Our positions are very clear and firm. The sanctions must be lifted, verified and then Iran must return to its commitments.”

So, at least in the thesis, the debate is still on. Araghchi: “There are two types of U.S. sanctions against Iran. First, categorized or so-called divisional sanctions, such as oil, banking and insurance, shipping, petrochemical, building and automobile sanctions, and second, sanctions against real and legal individuals.”

“Second” is the key issue. There’s absolutely no guarantee the US Congress will lift most or at least a significant part of these sanctions.

Everyone in Washington knows it – and the American delegation knows it.

When the Foreign Ministry in Tehran, for instance, says that 60% or 70% has been agreed upon, that’s code for lifting of divisional sanctions. When it comes to “second”, Araghchi has to be evasive: “There are complex issues in this area that we are examining”.

Now compare it with the assessment of informed Iranian insiders in Washington such as nuclear policy expert Seyed Hossein Mousavian:  they’re more like pessimistic realists.

That takes into consideration the non-negotiable red lines established by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei himself. Plus non-stop pressure by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who are all JCPOA-adverse.

But then there’s extra shadowplay. Israeli intel has already notified the security cabinet that a deal most certainly will be reached in Vienna. After all, the narrative of a successful deal is already being constructed as a foreign policy victory by the Biden-Harris administration – or, as cynics prefer, Obama-Biden 3.0.

Meanwhile, Iranian diplomacy remains on overdrive. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is visiting Qatar and Iraq, and has already met with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim al Thani.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, virtually at the end of his term before the June presidential elections, always goes back to the same point: no more US sanctions; Iran’s verification; then Iran will return to its “nuclear obligations”.

The Foreign Ministry has even released a quite detailed fact sheet once again stressing the need to remove “all sanctions imposed, re-imposed and re-labeled since January 20, 2017”.

The window of opportunity for a deal won’t last long. Hardliners in Tehran couldn’t care less. At least 80% of Tehran members of Parliament are now hardliners. The next President most certainly will be a hardliner. Team Rouhani’s efforts have been branded a failure since the onset of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign. Hardliners are already in post-JCPOA mode.

That fateful Fateh

What none of the actors in the shadowplay can admit is that the revival of the JCPOA pales compared to the real issue: the power of Iranian missiles.

In the original 2015 negotiations in Vienna – follow them in my Persian Miniatures e-book – Obama-Biden 2.0 did everything in their power to include missiles in the deal.

Every grain of sand in the Negev desert knows that Israel will go no holds barred to retain its nuclear weapon primacy in the Middle East. Via a spectacular kabuki, the fact that Israel is a nuclear power happens to remain “invisible” to most of world public opinion.

While Khamenei has issued a fatwa clearly stating that producing, stockpiling and using weapons of mass destruction – nuclear included – is haram (banned by Islam), Israel’s leadership feels free to order stunts such as the sabotage via Mossad of the (civilian) Iranian nuclear complex at Natanz.

The head of Iran’s Parliament Energy Committee, Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, even accused Washington and London of being accomplices to the sabotage of Natanz, as they arguably supplied intel to Tel Aviv.

Yet now a lone missile is literally exploding a great deal of the shadowplay.

On April 22, in the dead of night before dawn, a Syrian missile exploded only 30 km away from the ultra-sensitive Israeli nuclear reactor of Dimona. The official – and insistent – Israeli spin: this was an “errant”.

Well, not really.

Here – third video from the top – is footage of the quite significant explosion. Also significantly, Tel Aviv remained absolutely mum when it comes to offering a missile proof of ID. Was it an old Soviet 1967 SA-5? Or, rather more likely, a 2012 Iranian Fateh-110 short range surface-to-surface, manufactured in Syria as the M-600, and also possessed by Hezbollah?

A Fateh family tree can be seen in the attached chart. The inestimable Elijah Magnier has posed some very good questions about the Dimona near-hit. I complemented it with a quite enlightening discussion with physicists, with input by a military intel expert.

The Fateh-110 operates as a classic ballistic missile, until the moment the warhead starts maneuvering to evade ABM defenses. Precision is up to 10 meters, nominally 6 meters. So it hit exactly where it was supposed to hit. Israel officially confirmed that the missile was not intercepted – after a trajectory of roughly 266 km.

This opens a brand new can of worms. It implies that the performance of the much hyped and recently upgraded Iron Dome is far from stellar – and talk about an euphemism. The Fateh flew so low that Iron Dome could not identify it.

The inevitable conclusion is this was a message/warning combo. From Damascus. With a personal stamp from Bashar al-Assad, who had to clear such a sensitive missile launch. A message/warning delivered via Iranian missile technology fully available to the Axis of Resistance – proving that regional actors have serious stealth capability.

It’s crucial to remember that when Tehran dispatched a volley of deliberately older Fateh-313 versions at the US base Ayn al-Assad in Iraq, as a response to the assassination of Gen Soleimani in January 2020, the American radars went blank.

Iranian missile technology as top strategic deterrence. Now that’s the shadowplay that turns Vienna into a sideshow.

China’s Iran Deal Is Just the Beginning ” الاتفاقية مع إيران استراتيجية صينية أشمل لتنمية نفوذها في الشرق الأوسط

الاتفاقية مع إيران استراتيجية صينية أشمل لتنمية نفوذها في الشرق الأوسط

الكاتب: إيرييل ديفيدسون وآري سيكوريل
المصدر: ذا ناشونال إنترست
اليوم 7/4/2021

ينما تسعى بكين إلى تحقيق توازن للقوى في المنطقة لمنافسة الدول الغربية، فإن العبء يقع على عاتق إدارة بايدن لتحدي مكائد الصين في الشرق الأوسط.

وزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف ونظيره الصيني وانغ يي.
وزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف ونظيره الصيني وانغ يي يتبادلان وثائق الاتفاقية

كتبت إيرييل ديفيدسون بالاشتراك مع زميلها آري سيكوريل، وهما محللان وباحثان في مركز بحثي صهيوني أميركي مرتبط بـ”إسرائيل”، مقالة مشتركة في مجلة “ذا ناشونال انترست” الأميركية، يحرضان فيها واشنطن على الاتفاقية الصينية الإيرانية، إذ دعيا الولايات المتحدة إلى منع الصين من دعم خصوم الولايات المتحدة أو اكتساب نفوذ شديد على شركاء الولايات المتحدة في المنطقة.

وفي ما يلي ترجمة بتصرف للمقالة:

أعلنت الصين وإيران أخيراً عن “شراكة استراتيجية شاملة” لمدة خمسة وعشرين عاماً، تسعى إلى زيادة التعاون العسكري والدفاعي والأمني ​​بين إيران والصين، مما أثار فزع خصوم البلدين.

لا يشير الاتفاق إلى تجسيد تحالف إيران والصين، ولكنه يشير بدلاً من ذلك إلى استراتيجية صينية أوسع لتنمية نفوذها في الشرق الأوسط. ومن المفارقات أن هذا يأتي في وقت ظهر فيه إجماع من الحزبين في واشنطن على أن الولايات المتحدة يجب أن تقلل من مشاركتها في الشرق الأوسط لمواجهة التحدي الذي تشكّله الصين الصاعدة.

يُظهر الاتفاق الإيراني الصيني أن الشرق الأوسط ساحة مهمة لمنافسة القوى العظمى الناشئة مع الصين. تحتاج الولايات المتحدة الآن إلى منع الصين من تعزيز خصوم الولايات المتحدة واكتساب نفوذ شديد على شركاء الولايات المتحدة في المنطقة.

بالنسبة للإيرانيين، لا يمكن أن يكون توقيت الاتفاق أكثر ملاءمة. إن طهران بحاجة ماسة إلى السيولة بعد أن شلت العقوبات الأميركية اقتصاد البلاد وتأمل أن يخفف الاتفاق مع الصين من سطوة العقوبات الأميركية. مع كون الصين مشترياً مفترضاً لصادرات النفط الإيرانية لعقود مقبلة عدة، فإن جهود إدارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن لجر طهران إلى طاولة المفاوضات ستثبت أنها أكثر صعوبة.

وفي الوقت نفسه، ستكسب الصين إمدادات النفط من إيران لتغذية اقتصادها سريع النمو، وشريكاً إقليمياً يشاركها مصلحتها في كبح الامتداد العالمي لقوة الولايات المتحدة.

وبالتالي، قد يكون التأثير الفوري للاتفاق هو قيام الصين عن غير قصد بتسهيل المزيد من التخصيب النووي الإيراني. لكن من غير المرجح أن تنتهي آثاره المزعزعة للاستقرار عند هذا الحد، لأن مصلحة الصين تمتد عبر المنطقة.

بالإضافة إلى إبرام الاتفاقية، تضمنت رحلة وزير الخارجية الصيني وانغ لي إلى الشرق الأوسط كذلك تشكيل خطة أمنية إقليمية مع المملكة العربية السعودية، ولقاء في اسطنبول مع نظيره التركي، وإعلان أن الإمارات ستنتج جرعات لقاح سينوفارم الصيني بقيمة مائتي مليون دولار. وفي الوقت نفسه، تعمل الشركات الصينية المملوكة للدولة على توسيع استثماراتها في “إسرائيل” والسعودية والإمارات العربية المتحدة كجزء من “مبادرة الحزام والطريق”.

يأتي هذا النمط المتزايد من المشاركة الإقليمية الصينية، إلى جانب الوعود السخية، وإن لم تكن واقعية تماماً، بالاستثمار الأجنبي في وقت تقوم فيه الولايات المتحدة بتقليص وجودها في الشرق الأوسط وإعادة تموضعها بشكل متوازن. قد يبدأ شركاء الولايات المتحدة التقليديون، برؤية إيران تستفيد من السخاء الصيني وعلاقاتهم الخاصة بواشنطن، في النظر إلى الصين على أنها بديل جذاب بشكل متزايد.

تمثل أنشطة الصين في الشرق الأوسط خطراً على الولايات المتحدة لأن الصين تلعب في الميدان بطريقة سياسية واقعية بالكامل – فقد تدعم أعداء أميركا (على غرار إيران) أو قد تحاول استمالة حلفاء الولايات المتحدة (على غرار “إسرائيل”). بكين ليس لديها ولاءات. إنها تسعى لتقوية خصوم الولايات المتحدة أو سرقة شركائها التقليديين.

إن واشنطن ليست عاجزة عندما يتعلق الأمر باحتواء النفوذ الصيني في المنطقة. تحتاج الولايات المتحدة إلى استراتيجية مدروسة للتخفيف من سعي الصين لتحقيق نفوذ أكبر في الشرق الأوسط، استراتيجية تسعى إلى الحد من النفوذ الصيني بين شركاء الولايات المتحدة وإحباط الجهود الصينية لتقوية خصوم الولايات المتحدة. 

ويوصي الكاتبان أن تقوم هذه الاستراتيجية على:

أولاً، يجب أن تعمل واشنطن مع شركائها للحد من وصول بكين إلى البنية التحتية الحيوية والملكية الفكرية والتقنيات بين شركاء الولايات المتحدة. ونظراً لأن منظمتنا، المعهد اليهودي للأمن القومي الأميركي، قدمت أخيراً توصيات “لإسرائيل”، يجب أن يشمل ذلك تمكين الشركاء لتطوير أنظمة رقابة قوية على الاستثمار الأجنبي المباشر والصادرات، وتقديم مصادر تمويل تنافسية لشركات الشرق الأوسط المتعطشة للاستثمار.

في الوقت نفسه، يجب على الولايات المتحدة أن تدرك أنها لا تستطيع منع جميع الأنشطة الاقتصادية الإقليمية الصينية. وبدلاً من ذلك، يجب أن تشجع أميركا الصين على الاستثمار في بناء البنية التحتية غير الحيوية في المنطقة وفي الشركات التي تتعامل مع التحديات المشتركة، مثل الاحتباس الحراري.

وفي التعامل مع المحاولات الصينية لبناء علاقات مع خصوم الولايات المتحدة، قد تحد العديد من التكتيكات “الناعمة” كذلك من قدرة الصين على تكوين علاقات مستقرة مع الأنظمة. على سبيل المثال، فيما يتعلق بطهران، يمكن للولايات المتحدة إطلاق مجموعة من العمليات السيبرانية والمعلوماتية والنفسية التي تركز على الكشف عن التوترات الداخلية الخاصة بين الحكومتين الصينية والإيرانية، والتي قد تشمل الإشارة إلى الإبادة الجماعية المروعة التي ارتكبتها الصين ضد السكان المسلمين الإيغور. (في شينجيانغ) ونفاق الأنظمة الإسلامية التي تتسامح مع ذلك، بحسب توصية الكاتبين.

وفي الجانب الإعلامي، انتقد عدد كبير من الأصوات الغموض والطبيعة السرية لعملية التفاوض بين الصين وإيران، ويجب على الولايات المتحدة تضخيم هذه الأصوات عبر مختلف المنافذ الدولية. ومن شأن حملة منسقة من هذا النوع أن تساعد على تقويض صدق الاتفاقية، وبالتالي تقويض قدرة كل طرف على الاعتماد على بعضه البعض على المدى الطويل.

وختم الكاتبان بالقول: بينما تسعى بكين عن عمد إلى تحقيق توازن القوى في المنطقة لمنافسة الدول الغربية ، فإن العبء يقع على عاتق إدارة بايدن لتحدي مكائد الصين في الشرق الأوسط، والتي تتراوح من التدخل مع شركاء أميركا التقليديين إلى تشجيع خصوم الولايات المتحدة. وأضاف أن الاتفاقية الأخيرة بين الصين وإيران ليست سوى غيض من فيض.

*إيريل ديفيدسون وآري سيكوريل هما محللان سياسيان بارزان في المعهد اليهودي للأمن القومي الأميركي في مركز جيمندر للدفاع والاستراتيجية.

نقله إلى العربية بتصرف: الميادين نت

China’s Iran Deal Is Just the Beginning “

Source

April 6, 2021 

As Beijing deliberately pursues a balance of power in the region to rival Western countries, the onus will fall on the Biden administration to challenge China’s Middle Eastern machinations, which range from intervening with America’s traditional partners to emboldening its adversaries.

by Erielle Davidson Ari Cicurel

China and Iran recently announced a twenty-five-year “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” which seeks to increase military, defense, and security cooperation between Iran and China, to the consternation of both countries’ adversaries. 

The pact does not signal the materialization of an Iran-China alliance but instead points to a broader Chinese strategy to grow its influence in the Middle East. Ironically, this comes at a time when a bipartisan consensus has emerged in Washington that the United States should reduce its engagement in the Middle East to address the challenge posed by a rising China.  

The Iran-China deal evinces that the Middle East is an important arena for the emerging great-power competition with China. The United States now needs to prevent China from strengthening U.S. adversaries and gaining predatory influence over U.S. partners in the region. 

For the Iranians, the timing of the deal could not be more apropos. Tehran is desperate for cash after U.S. sanctions have crippled the country’s economy and hopes the pact with China will cushion the blow from U.S. sanctions. With China as a supposed purchaser of Iranian oil exports for several decades to come, the Biden administration’s efforts to drag Tehran to the negotiating table will prove much harder. 

Meanwhile, China is to gain both oil to fuel its rapidly growing economy and a regional partner that shares its interest in curbing the global reach of U.S. power. 

The immediate impact of the deal, thus, might be China unintentionally facilitating further Iranian nuclear enrichment. But its destabilizing effects are unlikely to end there, for China’s interest extends across the region. 

In addition to concluding the pact, Chinese foreign minister Wang Li’s trip to the Middle East also included the formation of a regional security plan with Saudi Arabia, a meeting in Istanbul with his Turkish counterpart, and an announcement that the UAE will produce two hundred million doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine. Meanwhile, Chinese state-owned companies are expanding investments in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates as part of the Belt and Road initiative.

This increasing pattern of Chinese regional engagement, coupled with generous, if not entirely realistic, promises of foreign investment comes at a time when the United States is reducing and “rebalancing” its presence in the Middle East. Traditional U.S. partners, seeing Iran benefit from Chinese largesse and their own ties to Washington cool, might begin to view China as an increasingly attractive alternative. 

China’s activities in the Middle East present a risk to the United States because China plays the field in a wholly realpolitik fashion—it may support America’s enemies (see Iran) or it may court or attempt to court U.S. allies (see Israel). Beijing has no allegiances. It seeks both to strengthen U.S. adversaries or steal its traditional partners.

Firstly, Washington should work with its partners to limit Beijing’s access to critical infrastructure, intellectual property, and technologies among U.S. partners. As our organization, the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, recently recommended for Israel, this should include both empowering partners to develop robust oversight regimes for foreign direct investment and exports and offering competitive sources of financing for investment-hungry Middle Eastern firms.

Simultaneously, the United States should recognize it cannot block all Chinese regional economic activity and instead, should encourage China to invest in building the region’s non-critical infrastructure and in firms tackling shared challenges, like global warming. 

In dealing with Chinese attempts to build ties with U.S. adversaries, several “soft” tactics also might limit China’s ability to form stable ties with regimes. For example, vis-à-vis Tehran, the United States could launch a combination of cyber, information, and psychological operations centered on revealing privately held internal tensions between the Chinese and Iranian governments, which might include pointing out China’s horrific genocide of its Uighur population and the hypocrisy of the Muslim regimes that tolerate it. 

On the information side, a plethora of voices have criticized the ambiguity and secretive nature of the negotiating process, and the United States should amplify those voices across various international outlets. A coordinated campaign of this nature would help to undermine the sincerity of the pact and, in turn, the ability of each party to rely on each other in the long term. 

As Beijing deliberately pursues a balance of power in the region to rival Western countries, the onus will fall on the Biden administration to challenge China’s Middle Eastern machinations, which range from intervening with America’s traditional partners to emboldening U.S. adversaries. The China-Iran deal is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Erielle Davidson (@politicalelle) and Ari Cicurel (@aricicurel) are senior policy analysts at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy. 

“The one Who Accuses is the One Who Is” – President Putin’s Response to Biden’s Calling him a “Killer”

“The one Who Accuses is the One Who Is” – President Putin’s Response to Biden’s Calling him a “Killer”

March 24, 2021

By Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

On March 16, 2021, ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos held an exclusive interview with President Joe Biden. In the context of the United States’ chief intelligence office releasing an unclassified report on foreign meddling in the 2020 US election, concluding that Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw sweeping efforts aimed at “denigrating” President Joe Biden’s candidacy, Biden told Stephanopoulos that he had warned Putin about a potential response during a call in late January.

This is verbatim the ABC News Report of March 17, 2021:

“He will pay a price,” Biden said. “We had a long talk, he and I, when we — I know him relatively well. And the conversation started off, I said, “I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.”

Stephanopoulos then asked: “So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he’s a killer?”
“Mmm hmm, I do,” Biden replied
.

Stephanopoulos: “So, what price is he going to pay?”
Biden: “The price he is going to pay, well, you’ll see shortly.”

Stephanopoulos also asked Biden, when you met him (Putin, in the past), you told him that he didn’t have a soul… and Biden retorted: yes, I told him. And Putin responded, “we understand each other.”

When President Putin spoke later to the media in Moscow, answering a question about his reaction to Biden’s accusing him to be a “killer”, Putin just said, “I wish him good health, and I mean it without irony.”

Speaking on television, reflecting philosophically, Putin said, “I remember when we were young, playing in the playground and accusing each other of little things, we always see ourself in the mirror and project our own image of ourselves on to the other, like “the one who accuses is the one who did it”.

President Putin last Thursday (18 March) challenged Biden to talk, I invite President Biden to talk on Friday or on Monday publicly online live… to which Biden did not respond. Presumably Given Biden’s often confused mind, to put it benignly, he was advised to abstain from such a conversation with President Putin.

The tension between the US and Russia has hardly been stronger and the diplomatic relation between the two countries is at its lowest in the past decades. President Putin recalled immediately the Russian Ambassador from Washington for “consultation” – a euphemism for declaring a serious rupture in the relationship of the two countries.

Later in a small media gathering in Moscow, Mr. Putin said he would deal with America on his terms. He also philosophized about Biden’s thoughtless slandering, when he talked to ABC’s anchor Stephanopoulos. He referred to children accusing one another, the going saying is, “the one who accuses is the one who is”. This is equally valid for adults.

When later asked at a Press Conference whether Biden regretted having suggested Putin was a “killer”, the White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, replied, “No. The President gave a straight answer to a straight question.” – That reflects all too well the intellectual and diplomatic level of US Presidents and their entourage. Though Biden may be a special case of being a blind-folded bully, previous US Presidents’ track record is not much better.
——

President Putin is one of the world’s most brilliant Statesman. The other one is China’s President Xi Jinping. Together, their alliance, their vision and diplomacy, their conflict avoidance – and constant search for peaceful solutions to world disorders – have kept our planet out of a nuclear Armageddon for the last couple of decades. That’s quite an achievement, given the warmongers in Washington and by extension in Europe – and given the over two-dozen NATO bases in Europe, inching ever closer to the gates of Moscow and surrounding China – all the way through the South China Sea.

Obama once promised he would station more than half of the US Navy fleet in the South China Sea, making sure China was surrounded from everywhere. He made true on his promise. Its Obama’s infamous “Pivot to Asia”. And so, he did with Russia. That included and still includes deadly economic sanctions on countries that once-upon-a-time counted with Washington – and Europe – as partners.

How many people were killed by these sanctions in North Korea, Russia, China? How many were – and still are – being killed by the totally illegal sanctions – illegal by any standards of international law – in Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Libya, Iran, Pakistan, DPRK (North Korea) – and by extension through Israel in Palestine – and many more nations of our planet? – Let alone the “eternal war on terror” – an invention to keep killing people for the good of the United States, for their control over humanity – and not least for the enormous profit bonanza of the US military industrial complex.

Shall we mention the mass killing caused by President Clinton’s initiated NATO intervention in former Yugoslavia; or the six still ongoing wars, initiated by President father Bush with the first Gulf war in 1991, then officially expanded by son Bush in 2001 and 2003 with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, then further expanded by four more wars in the Middle East – Libya, Syria, Sudan and Yemen – under the Obama Administration. And how about the explicitly Obama-approved massive extra-judiciary drone killings around the world, with focus on the Middle East?

Aren’t we talking about tens and tens of thousands of deaths, assassinated people, a genocide by US presidents with the complicity of so-called European leaders (sic)?

Did President Putin and President Xi ever call them “killers” or murderers? – They could have, but they didn’t. However, that is what President Putin meant when he referred to Biden’s call him a “killer” – “It takes one to know one”, or rather “the one who accuses is the one who is”. The emperor and the emperor’s servants are a cabal of “killers” – a better fitting term is mass murderers.
——

Now President Biden, then VP to Obama was an intimate part of it, of clamping down on Russia and China. Biden was also part of the intensification of the Iraq war, as well as of the destruction of Libya and the brutal murder of President Qadhafi. Though Hillary’s initiative (then Obama’s Secretary of State), Biden fully supported her.

So, President Putin’s wise response was remarkable. See here https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-usa-reaction-idUSKBN2BA0S1?fbclid=IwAR2RWXH1UPWt3KhWjffR_TPbwugWlklMjf3k6UYhxdDX37NMS4b2FjS51NY “The one who accuses is the one who is” – he said, referring to a psychic wisdom that one looks in the mirror when accusing others of a crime or a sin. In other words, Biden projects his own character onto Putin. Mr. Putin, politely and diplomatically said, they were different, had different cultures and different values. He also wished President Biden good health – genuinely good health, no irony, he stressed.

Before closing on such a conciliatory note, Putin referred to some American atrocities, dating back to the very beginning of American history which started with the indiscriminate slaughter of tens of thousands of indigenous Americans, for which American Presidents were responsible.

Also mentioned should be the brutal killings in Iraq, with special focus on the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, as well as Afghanistan’s Bagram Airbase detention center and lately the infamous Pul-e-Charkhi Prison, also known as the Afghan National Detention facility, outside of Kabul – and renovated by the US Corps of Engineers to accommodate war prisoners taken by US / NATO forces. And not least, nor last, the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba.

These are just a few of the hundreds of detention camps around the world, where thousands of prisoners were tortured and executed under orders and supervision of the US / NATO. Since WWII an estimated 20 to 30 million people were killed due to direct or indirect US intervention around the world. War crimes abound.

Yet, Mr. Putin didn’t call any of the US Presidents a “killer”. But it is crystal clear what he meant, when he said, “The one who accuses is the one who is”.


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

Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions following talks with Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, Guilin, March 23, 2021

March 23, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions following talks with Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi, Guilin, March 23, 2021

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be in this wonderful place, enjoying the unique nature of this province. We really do admire these landscapes, but I can assure you that this has not prevented us from holding extremely business-like and practical talks. They were held in a traditionally friendly and trust-based manner.

We pointed out once again that Russia and China continue their close and fruitful cooperation in virtually all spheres on the international stage despite the coronavirus pandemic, in all the spheres which have been identified as our priorities during contacts between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of China Xi Jinping.

We will continue to strengthen our relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction. We have had a useful discussion on ways to boost our practical cooperation in the conditions created by the current epidemiological restrictions.

We highlighted the preparations being made for Russian-Chinese contacts at the high and highest levels. We have submitted to our partners a draft joint statement of our heads of state on the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.

We discussed our positions on the main international topics and found them similar. Moscow and Beijing stand for developing interstate relations on the principles of mutual respect and a balance of each other’s interests, justice and non-interference in others’ internal affairs. We reject zero sum political games and the illegal unilateral sanctions, which our Western colleagues have been using increasingly more often.

We share the opinion that Russian-Chinese foreign policy interaction remains a vital factor in global affairs. We pointed out the destructive character of US aspiration to undermine the UN-centric international legal framework by using the military-political alliances of the Cold War period and creating similar closed alliances. We noted the growing importance of the joint activities of Russia, China and a wide range of other countries to preserve the current system of international law in the context of the increasing Western attempts to promote its concept of a rules-based international order.

We expressed our appreciation for the high level of coordination at various multilateral platforms, including the UN, the G20, the SCO, BRICS, RIC, APEC, as well as EAS and other ASEAN-based regional cooperation bodies. We spoke about the preparations for the summit of the UN Security Council permanent members, which has been proposed by President Putin and supported by President Xi Jinping.

As Minister Wang Yi said, we have signed a joint statement, which reflects the views of Russia and China on vital issues such as democracy, human rights, international law and the necessity to find collective approaches to solving global problems.

We signed an annual plan for consultations between our foreign ministries. It stipulates numerous contacts this year at the level of deputy foreign ministers and the heads of relevant departments designed to hold practical discussions on a wide range of global and regional matters.

Speaking on behalf of our delegation, I would like to once again express our deep gratitude to our Chinese friends for their hospitality and for substantive joint work.

Question: How does Russia plan on moving away from using international payment systems controlled by the West? Are there any specific agreements with China to create a common system as opposed to the Western ones? What can it be based on? Russia’s Mir card or China’s UnionPay system?

Sergey Lavrov: This work has been underway for quite a long time now in different areas. We have our own financial messaging system. The respective financial departments of Russia and China plan to expand its use.

For many years now we have been trying to transfer trade to settlements in national currencies. There’s a corresponding mechanism which is quite effective. We are switching to the national currency in our trade with other major partners.

This is the imperative of our time. The people behind the global monetary system suddenly decided they were unhappy with the way other countries, in particular China, are using this system. China is beating the West at its own game. Hence, the reaction of the United States. Wang Yi covered this in detail. You cannot do global business by means of ultimatums and sanctions, or force other countries to behave as expected of them. We have a proverb: You can’t force your love on another person. Unfortunately, the United States has not learned this and is acting from the opposite position.

I’m convinced that Russia and China will do their best to ensure their safety and protection against the threats coming from the states that are unfriendly towards our respective countries. This also applies to ways of conducting trade, mutual settlements and everything else that makes us stronger.

Question (translated from Chinese and addressed to Wang Yi): Chinese and Russian vaccines are being delivered to dozens of countries all around the world. There are unfounded speculations that China is promoting “vaccine diplomacy” and Russia is trying to increase its influence. What can you say about this?

Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Wang Yi): I fully support what Wang Yi said. From the outset of the pandemic, Russia and China have been showing an example of openness, cooperation and mutual assistance. This interaction continues to this day, including in the sphere of vaccine production and distribution. Our respective institutions remain in contact on these matters.

On March 22, President Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting on vaccine production and distribution. He clearly spoke in favour of everyone being guided solely by considerations of humanity and the interest of saving lives rather than geopolitical or commercial approaches to overcoming competition. Everyone, including our partners in the West who are trying to portray Russia and China as vaccine diplomacy scammers, must keep this in mind. This is not true.

Question: China and Russia are under sanctions pressure from the United States and the EU. Do our countries plan to share their experience of confronting this pressure? How justified is the opinion that both countries’ tense relations with the Western powers make them move ever closer to one another?

Sergey Lavrov: We have covered Russia and China’s reaction to sanctions and the illegitimate unilateral restrictions already today. We share the understanding that these methods are unacceptable in international life. We have more than once stated our position on this score, including in the Joint Statement. I’m convinced that this approach will be reiterated in a clear and unambiguous manner in the document on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Treaty on Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation between Russia and China that our leaders will approve.

In addition to our principled approaches that are set forth in public documents, we closely cooperate with many countries at the UN in order to counter these practices. As you are aware, the UN has a Special Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures. This is already a fairly serious practical move to clarify the unacceptability of this policy. The United States, Europe and the West in general are, in fact, replacing diplomacy, the art which they are losing, with the steps seeking to impose their own rules on everyone else. In their opinion, these rules rather than international law must underlie the international order. Sanctions are among these rules.

Russia and China do not ally against anyone. Geographically, our country is located on the vast Eurasian continent. China is our good neighbour, as is the EU. We have always been interested in promoting our relations across all areas. Europe has severed these relations and destroyed the mechanisms that have been created over many years. There are only a few European partner countries that have a desire to act based on their national interests.

Objectively, this led to cooperation between Russia and China developing faster than what is left of relations with the European countries. Importantly, there are no relations with the EU as an organisation. The infrastructure was destroyed by unilateral decisions made by Brussels. If and when the Europeans decide to eliminate this anomaly in contacts with their largest neighbour, we will be ready to build up relations between us on the basis of equality and a search for a balance of interests. But so far, all has been quiet on the Western front, whereas the East offers a very intense agenda, which is getting more varied every single year.


Further press conferences by Mr.Lavrov during this auspicious visit to China.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China Wang Yi, Guilin, March 23, 2021 – https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4647593

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Chinese media, Moscow, March 22, 2021-https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4646592

Complete press conference:  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi take part in a joint press conference after holding bilateral talks in Guilin, China on Tuesday, March 23.

22.25

For Leviathan, it’s so cold in Alaska

For Leviathan, it’s so cold in Alaska

March 18, 2021

Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi will seek to make shark’s fin soup out of Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan at the Anchorage summit

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

Leviathan seems to be positioning itself for a geopolitical Kill Bill rampage – yet brandishing a rusty samurai high-carbon-steel sword.

Predictably, US deep state masters have not factored in that they could eventually be neutralized by a geopolitical Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique.

In a searing, concise essay, Alastair Crooke pointed to the heart of the matter. These are the two key insights – including a nifty Orwellian allusion:

1. “Once control over the justifying myth of America was lost, the mask was off.”

2. “The US thinks to lead the maritime and rimland powers in imposing a searing psychological, technological and economic defeat on the Russia-China-Iran alliance. In the past, the outcome might have been predictable. This time Eurasia may very well stand solid against a weakened Oceania (and a faint-hearted Europe).”

And that brings us to two interconnected summits: the Quad and the China-US 2+2 in Alaska.

The virtual Quad last Friday came and went like a drifting cloud. When you had India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the Quad is “a force for global good,” no wonder rows of eyebrows across the Global South were raised.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi remarked last year that the Quad was part of a drive to create an “Asian NATO.”

It is. But the hegemon, lording over India, Japan and Australia, mustn’t spell it out. Thus the vague rhetoric about “free and open Indo-Pacific,” “democratic values,” “territorial integrity” – all code to characterize containment of China, especially in the South China Sea.

The exceptionalist wet dream – routinely expressed in US Thinktankland – is to position an array of missiles in the first island chain, pointing towards China like a weaponized porcupine. Beijing is very much aware of it.

Apart from a meek joint statement, the Quad promised to deliver 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines throughout the “Indo-Pacific” by the end of… 2022.

The vaccine would be produced by India and financed by the US and Japan, with the logistics of distribution coming from Australia.

That was predictably billed as “countering China’s influence in the region.” Too little, too late. The bottom line is: The hegemon is furious because China’s vaccine diplomacy is a huge success – not only across Asia but all across the Global South.

This ain’t no ‘strategic dialogue’

US Secretary of State Tony Blinken is a mere apparatchik who was an enthusiastic cheerleader for shock and awe against Iraq 18 years ago, in 2003. At the time he was staff director for the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then chaired by Senator Joe Biden.

Now Blinken is running US foreign policy for a senile cardboard entity who mutters, live, on camera, “I’ll do whatever you want me to do, Nance” – as in Nancy Pelosi; and who characterizes the Russian president as “a killer,” “without a soul,” who will “pay a price.”

Paraphrasing Pulp Fiction: “Diplomacy’s dead, baby. Diplomacy’s dead.”

With that in mind, there’s little doubt that the formidable Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, side by side with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, will make shark’s fin soup out of their interlocutors Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the 2+2 summit in Anchorage, Alaska.

Only two days before the start of the Two Sessions in Beijing, Blinken proclaimed that China is the “biggest geopolitical challenge of the 21st century.”

According to Blinken, China is the “only country with the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system – all the rules, values and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to, because it ultimately serves the interests and reflects the values of the American people.”

So Blinken tacitly admits what really matters is how the world works “the way we want it to” – “we” being the hegemon, which made those rules in the first place. And those rules serve the interests and reflect the values of the American people. As in: It’s our way or the highway.

Blinken could be excused because he’s just a wide-eyed novice on the big stage. But it gets way more embarrassing.

Here’s his foreign policy in a nutshell (“his” because the hologram at the White House needs 24/7 instructions in his earpiece to even know what time it is):

Sanctions, sanctions everywhere; Cold War 2.0 against Russia and “killer” Putin; China guilty of “genocide” in Xinjiang; a notorious apartheid state getting a free pass to do anything; Iran must blink first or there’s no return to the JCPOA; Random Guaido recognized as President of Venezuela, with regime change still the priority.

There’s a curious kabuki in play here. Following the proverbial revolving door logic in DC, before literally crossing the street to have full access to the White House, Blinken was a founding partner of WestExec Advisorswhose main line of business is to offer “geopolitical and policy expertise” to American multinationals, the overwhelming majority of which are interested in – where else – China.

So Alaska might point to some measure of trade-off on trade. The problem, though, seems insurmountable. Beijing does not want to eschew the profitable American market, while for Washington expansion of Chinese technology across the West is anathema.

Blinken himself pre-empted Alaska, saying this is no “strategic dialogue.” So we’re back to bolstering the Indo-Pacific racket; recriminations about the “loss of freedom” in Hong Kong – whose role of US/UK Fifth Column is now definitely over; Tibet; and the “invasion” of Taiwan, now on spin overdrive, with the Pentagon stating it is “probable” before 2027.

“Strategic dialogue” it ain’t.

A junkie on a bum trip

Wang Yi, at a press conference linked to the 13th National People’s Congress and the announcement of the next Five-Year Plan, said: “We will set an example of strategic mutual trust, by firmly supporting each other in upholding core and major interests, jointly opposing ‘color revolution’ and countering disinformation, and safeguarding national sovereignty and political security.”

That’s a sharp contrast with the post-truth “highly likely” school of spin privileged by (failed) Russiagate peddlers and assorted Sinophobes.

Top Chinese scholar Wang Jisi, who used to be close to the late Ezra Vogel, author of arguably the best Deng Xiaoping biography in English, has introduced an extra measure of sanity, recalling Vogel’s emphasis on the necessity of US and East Asia understanding each other’s culture.

According to Wang Jisi, “In my own experiences, I find one difference between the two countries most illuminating. We in China like the idea of “seeking common ground while reserving our differences.” We state that the common interests between our two countries far exceed our differences. We define common ground by a set of principles like mutual respect and cooperation. Americans, in contrast, tend to focus on hard issues like tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea. It looks that the Chinese want to set up principles before trying to solve specific problems, but the Americans are eager to deal with problems before they are ready to improve the relationship.”

The real problem is that the hegemon seems congenitally incapable of trying to understand the Other. It always harks back to that notorious formulation by Zbigniew Brzezinski, with trademark imperial arrogance, in his 1997 magnum opus The Grand Chessboard:

“To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected and to keep the barbarians from coming together.”

Dr Zbig was referring, of course, to Eurasia. “Security dependence among vassals” applied mostly to Germany and Japan, key hubs in the Rimland.  “Tributaries pliant and protected” applied mostly to the Middle East.

And crucially, “keep the barbarians from coming together” applied to Russia, China and Iran. That was Pax Americana in a nutshell. And that’s what’s totally unraveling now.

Hence the Kill Bill logic. It goes back a long way. Less than two months after the collapse of the USSR, the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance preached total global dominance and, following Dr Zbig, the absolute imperative of preventing the emergence of any future peer competitor.

Especially Russia, defined as “the only power in the world with the capacity of destroying the United States.”

Then, in 2002, at the start of the “axis of evil” era, came the full spectrum dominance doctrine as the bedrock of the US National Security Strategy. Domination, domination everywhere: terrestrial, aerial, maritime, subterranean, cosmic, psychological, biological, cyber-technological.

And, not by accident, the Indo-Pacific strategy – which guides the Quad – is all about “how to maintain US strategic primacy.”

This mindset is what enables US Think Tankland to formulate risible “analyses” in which the only “win” for the US imperatively requires a failed Chinese “regime.”

After all, Leviathan is congenitally incapable of accepting a “win-win”; it only runs on “zero-sum,” based on divide and rule.

And that’s what’s leading the Russia-China strategic partnership to progressively establish a wide-ranging, comprehensive security environment, spanning everything from high-tech weaponry to banking and finance, energy supplies and the flow of information.

To evoke yet another pop culture gem, a discombobulated Leviathan now is like Caroline, the junkie depicted in Lou Reed’s Berlin:

But she’s not afraid to die / All of her friends call her Alaska / When she takes speed / They laugh and ask her / What is in her mind / What is in her mind / She put her fist through the window pane / It was such a / funny feeling / It’s so cold / in Alaska.

Syria, Venezuela sanctions | The Communiqué with Richard Medhurst

Venezuela and Syria are both under siege warfare by the United States and its allies. Richard Medhurst speaks with Alena Douhan, United Nations Special Rapporteur on sanctions, about her preliminary report after recently returning from Venezuela.

Russia holds the key to German sovereignty

Russia holds the key to German sovereignty

February 17, 2021

A more sovereign Germany closer to Russia and China may be the straw that breaks the US hegemon’s back

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Last week we traced the necessary historical and geopolitical steps to understand Why Russia is driving the West crazy.

And then, last Friday, right before the start of the Year of the Metal Ox, came the bombshell, delivered with customary aplomb by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

In an interview with popular talk show host Vladimir Solovyov – with the full transcript published by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Lavrov said Moscow “must be ready” for a possible “break with the European Union.”

The ominous break would be a direct result of new EU sanctions, particularly those “that create risks for our economy, including in the most sensitive areas.” And then, the Sun Tzu-style clincher: “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov, afterwards, made sure to explain that Lavrov was taken out of context: the media, predictably, had seized on a “sensational” headline.

So Lavrov’s full, nuanced answer to a question about rocky EU-Russia relations must be carefully examined:

“We believe we would be ready for this. We are neighbors. Speaking collectively, they are our largest trade and investment partner. Many EU companies operate here; there are hundreds or even thousands of joint ventures. When a business benefits both sides, we will continue. I am sure that we have become fully self-sufficient in the defense sphere. We must also attain the same position in the economy to be able to act accordingly if we see again (we have seen this more than once) that sanctions are imposed in a sphere where they can create risks for our economy, including in the most sensitive areas such as the supply of component parts. We don’t want to be isolated from the world, but we must be prepared for this. If you want peace, prepare for war.”

It’s quite clear that Lavrov is not stating that Russia will unilaterally cut off relations with the EU. The ball is actually in the EU’s court: Moscow is stating that it will not exercise a first-strike option to break relations with the Brussels eurocracy. And that in itself would also be quite different from breaking relations with any of the 27 EU member-states.

The context Peskov referred to is also clear: EU envoy Josep Borrell, after his disastrous trip to Moscow, had raised the issue that Brussels was weighing the imposition of further sanctions. Lavrov’s response was clearly designed to drum some sense into the thick heads of the European Commission (EC), run by notoriously incompetent former German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen and her foreign policy “chief” Borrell.

Earlier this week, Peskov was forced to come back incisively to the volcanic saga: “Regrettably, Brussels keeps talking about sanctions, so does the United States with maniacal persistency. This is something we will never welcome. It is something that we do not like at all.”

Talk about diplomatic euphemism.

So the stage is set for a raucous – to say the least – meeting of EU foreign ministers next Monday, where they will discuss – what else? – possible new sanctions. Those most probably would include travel bans and asset freezes on selected Russians, including people very close to the Kremlin, blamed by the EU to be responsible for the jailing earlier this month of right-wing blogger and convicted fraudster (a scam against Yves Rocher) Alexei Navalny.

The overwhelming majority of Russians see Navalny – with a popularity rate of 2% at best – as a lowly, expendable NATO asset. The meeting next week will pave the way for the summit of member state leaders at the end of March, where the EU could – and that’s the operative word – formally approve new sanctions. That would require a unanimous decision by the EU’s 27 member states.

As it stands, apart from the stridently Russophobic usual suspects – Poland and the Baltics – it doesn’t appear Brussels is aiming to shoot itself in the back.

Remember Leibniz

EU observers obviously have not been observing how Moscow’s pragmatic view of Brussels has evolved in the past few years.

Russia-EU trade will continue, no matter what. The EU badly needs Russian energy; and Russia is willing to sell it, oil and gas, pipelines and all. That’s strictly business. If the EU doesn’t want it – for a basket of reasons – no problem: Russia is developing a steady stream of businesses, energy included, all across East Asia.

The always relevant Valdai Discussion Club, a Moscow-based think tank, for instance, is carefully tracking the trade aspect of the Russia-China strategic partnership:

“US policy will continue to seek a split between China and Russia. Europe remains an important partner for Moscow and Beijing. The situation in Central Asia is stable, but it requires the building up of Russian-Chinese cooperation.”

Putin, laterally, also weighed in on the EU-Russia saga, which is a subtext of that perennial battle between Russia and the West: “As soon as we began to stabilize, to get back to our feet – the policy of deterrence followed immediately… And as we grew stronger, this policy of deterrence was being conducted more and more intensely.”

I hinted last week at the intergalactic-distant possibility of a Berlin-Moscow-Beijing axis
Media and telecoms analyst Peter G. Spengler in a lengthy email to me elegantly qualified it as belonging to Robert Musil’s sense of possibility, as described in his masterpiece The Man Without Qualities.

Peter Spengler also called attention to Leibniz’s Novissima Sinica, and particularly to an essay by Manfred von Boetticher on Leibniz and Russia, represented by Tsar Peter the Great, in which the role of Russia as a bridge between Europe and China is emphasized.

Even though Leibniz, in the end, never met Peter the Great, we learn that “it was always Leibniz’s goal to get practical application for his theoretical findings. Throughout his life, he was looking for a ‘great potentate’ who was open to modern ideas and with whose help he could realize his ideas of a better world. In the age of absolutism, this seemed to be the most promising perspective for a scholar for whom the progress of science and technology as well as the improvement of education and economic conditions were urgent goals.”

“Tsar Peter, who was as powerful as he was open to all new plans and whose personality fascinated him anyway, must therefore have been an extraordinarily interesting contact for Leibniz. Since Western Europe had come into closer contact with China through the Jesuit mission and Leibniz had recognized the importance of the millennia-old Chinese culture, he also saw in Russia the natural link between the European and Chinese cultural spheres, the center of a future synthesis between the Orient and the Occident. With the emerging upheavals in the Russian Empire, his hopes seemed to be fulfilled: Full of expectation, he followed the changes in Russia, as they were emerging under Peter I.”

Yet to evoke Leibniz at this stage is to dream of heavenly spheres. The pedestrian geopolitical reality is that the EU is an Atlanticist institution – de facto subordinated to NATO. Lavrov might want to behave like a Daoist monk, or even pull a Leibniz, but it’s hard when you’re forced to deal with a bunch of dummies.

It’s all about sovereignty

Rabid Atlanticists argue that non-entity Navalny is directly related to Nord Stream 2. Nonsense: Navalny was built (italics mine) by the usual suspects as a battering ram to undermine Nord Stream 2.

The reason is that the pipeline will consolidate Berlin at the core of the EU’s energy policy. And that will be a major factor in the EU’s overall foreign policy – with Germany, at least in theory, exercising more autonomy in relation to the US.

So here’s the “dirty” secret: it’s all a matter of sovereignty. Every geopolitical and geoeconomic player knows who does not want a closer Germany-Russia entente.

Now imagine a hegemonic Germany in Europe forging closer trade and investment ties with not only Russia but also China (and that’s the other “secret” inbuilt in the EU-China trade-investment deal).

So whoever is lodged in the White House, there’s nothing else to expect from the US Deep State apart from the “maniacal” push towards perennial, accumulated sanctions.

The ball is actually in Berlin’s court, much more than in the court of eurocratic nightmare Brussels, where everyone’s future priority amounts to receiving their full, fat retirement pensions tax-free.

Berlin’s strategic priority is more exports – within the EU and most of all to Asia. German industrialists and the business classes know exactly what Nord Stream 2 represents: increasingly assertive German sovereignty guiding the heart of the EU, which translates as increased EU sovereignty.

An immensely significant sign has been recently delivered by Berlin with the approval granted for imports of the Sputnik vaccine.

Is Musil’s sense of possibility already in play? It’s too early to tell. The hegemon has unleashed a no-holds-barred hybrid war against Russia since 2014. This war may not be kinetic; roughly, it’s 70% financial and 30% infowar.

A more sovereign Germany closer to Russia and China may be the straw that breaks the hegemon’s back.

Crucial statement by Foreign Minister Lavrov

The Saker

Crucial statement by Foreign Minister Lavrov

Foreign Minister Lavrov just made the following statement that Russia is willing to sever her ties with the EU if the EU introduces new sanctions.  He said:

“Мы исходим из того, что мы готовы [к разрыву с Евросоюзом]. Если мы еще раз увидим, как мы уже почувствовали не единожды, что в каких-то областях накладываются санкции, которые создают риски для нашей экономики, в том числе в самых чувствительных сферах, — да. Хочешь мира — готовься к войне”

“We proceed from the fact that we are ready [to break with the European Union]. If we once again see, as we have already felt more than once, that sanctions are imposed in some areas that create risks for our economy, including in the most sensitive areas, – yes. If you want peace, prepare for war“.

This is exactly what I have been advocating for and predicting.

Not a moment too soon.

The Saker

New U.S. Foreign Policy Problems (2) International files إشكاليات السياسة الخارجية الأميركية الجديدة (2) الملفات الدولية

**Part 2 English Machine translation**Please scroll down for the Arabic version **

Part 1 Here

Click here to see the Video (deleted by You Tube)

Ziad hafiz.

Part 2:  International Files

 What external files will there be a conflict between the  interests of the interventionists and the interests of the forces that want to focus on the internal files?  The contours of foreign policy began to be clarified  after the Senate hearings of Blinken (State Department)  and Heinz (Director of National Intelligence DNI). The  bottom line is that there is little change in substance  about  Obama and Trump’s policies  except  in style and approach. We’ll show here some files, not all of them,  because of the limited space available.

At the international  level, relations with Russia and China are number one. The first signs issued by a number of figures of the President-elect’s transition team do not suggest any future solution in relations with  Russia. Let’s no forget that most of the employees in the new administration were in the Obama  administration,  which  was  anti-Russian.  The Ukrainian crisis was triggered by the Obama administration and then the Vice President, the president-elect today, which had major interventions in Ukrainian affairs,  not to mention the suspicions of corruption that accompanied it. On the other hand, let’s not forget that the entire Democratic Party, the deep state and the dominant corporate media have spent the past four years  demonising President Trump and accusing him of working for Russia. The latter is also accused of  interfering  in the 2016 election in favour of Donald Trump. Taking into account some statements by intelligence leaders supporting Biden that the Russians are lying because lying is an essential part of Russian  DNA, we see that the climate within the new administration is a tough one for Russia. This pessimism is reinforced by the fact that prospective officials  in the new administration n the second  row of foreign affairs, defence and  national security are neoconservatives such as Victoria Newland and liberal  interventionists such as Kathleen Hicks, Wendy Sherman and John Weiner as deputy national security  adviser.  All of them have close ties with the military security complex, research centres and  major    universities, as we explained in an earlier article.  What has attracted the attention of observers  is that  to  date there has been no contact between the transitional administration and the Russian leadership, although  this  is  a tradition that has spanned over the  past decades.

Multifaceted U.S. Retreat

But the fact of the matter is that U.S. competitiveness has declined in politics and the economy, and perhaps most importantly in military matters, as we have also explained in previous articles. Confronting Russia is  by  raising the human rights issue in Russia, by deploying a missile belt in neighbouring countries and by  overthrowing neighbouring regimes that are in agreement with Russia. By the way,  despite the Democratic  Party accusing U.S. President Donald Trump of working for Russia it was the U.S. president who imposed the most sanctions on Russia that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had initiated. The main strategic point of contention is the Russian gas file and its role in supplying it to the European Union, while the dispute over  Ukraine comes in the context of attempts at Atlantic expansion in Eastern Europe.  The security issue    being  waved is to cover up the main target.  There is no evidence that Russia is seeking to destabilization’s  European  security and stability, on the contrary it is seeking the best relations  and cooperation  with the EUROPEAN Union.

That’s what  Germany  understood,  but it  bowed to U.S. pressure, as former German Foreign Minister  Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in justifying his government’s acquiescence to U.S.  dictates when he made  it clear  that Germany was economically affected  by those sanctions, but that the policy had a strong errand  on the  economy. But over the past months, Germany has been able to reduce the arrogance of the United  States with regard to its economic interests with Russia and China. Germany has agreed to extend the Russian Laurel  Pipeline (“Tor  Stream 2” in its Baltic Economic Zone (every  day a kilometre of the pipeline is extended).    This was also the case with the Czech Republic to extend the “Yugal” land line, which is an extension  of “North stream  2” on the  German-Czech Saxon border. This reflects the extent of the U.S. retreat at the  European  ally and cuts the road to the pressures that the new administration could  put on it.

On The Other  Hand, on December 30, 2020, China and the European Union signed an agreement that would open the door to mutual investment, despite opposition from the United States and despite traditional human rights pretexts that were being raised against China to prevent any rapprochement with it. This is another  sign  that Western Europe has felt American weakness and is starting to think about the priority of its interests. The EU would not have taken the move without the approval of Germany and France.

Among the outstanding files between the United States and Russia are  Ukraine, particularly eastern Ukraine (Dombesk), the annexation of Crimea, the file of the Caucasus states in Georgia and Nagorno-Karabakh, and the proliferation of Atlantic weapons in the Baltic states and Poland. Recently, the United States tried to  create unrest in Belarus but failed to do so. Russia’s rapprochement with Russia is intensifying and we do not rule out the accession of Belarus to the Russian Federation, which is a resounding blow to the American administration.  Today, Belarus is mandated to confront Poland and the Baltic states on Russia’s  behalf.  In addition  to the Syrian file and the nuclear file with Iran and of course the treaties in the matter of medium-range ballistic missiles. In the context of the treaty file that the United States has emerged on the subject of  ballistic missiles, Russia is no longer committed to it.

The state of denial is in the  mind of  the ruling elites. 

“We  don’t know what the United  States  can  offer  in  all  these  files other than to back down  from its escalatory positions, which will perpetuate the decline of its influence,”he said. But  in the  current  mood  in the transitional administration, it is not ready  for  any  concession.  Since the denial of that retreat is in control of the ruling elites in the  next administration on the basis of “American exceptionalism” and”its manifest value” and in the absence of any theoretical or concrete evidence to acknowledge that retreat, what we can expect is the continued high and hostile tone in addressing Russia without translating into  confrontation on the ground.   The sanctions regime on Russia continues and began under Obama,  and the next  administration cannot lift it for free to market it in the domestic scene.   There is no creativity in thinking about the American side and the Russian side does not consider itself obliged to make concessions,  especially since there is no confidence in the commitments of the  United States. That’s why  we’re seeing  growing  indifference on the Russian side to what could come from the Biden administration as long as  the  horizon of open armed confrontation is blocked. Russia has been able to adapt to sanctions  and even turned it into a self-sufficiency opportunity freeing it from American blackmail.  Sanctions have only succeeded in increasing the isolation of the United States in the world, especially with its European allies. The elites in  Russia see as we see that the new administration will be focused on the internal files because of their seriousness  and complexity and  therefore do not consider that  they can interact permanently in  external files.

But that doesn’t mean that communicating with Russia is out of the way. If it is necessity or inventions, it is  also the mother of understandings. In  this context, the Russian President announced in a letter to the   president-elect that he hopes for friendly relations on the basis of club and mutual respect, a sign that a return  to the method of transcendence is no longer acceptable. On the other hand, the response of the secretary of  state, Anthony Blinken, was that at the height of the nuclear rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union and under the existential nuclear threat of thousands of nuclear ballistic missiles  directed against each of  the two countries, areas of cooperation in many hot files were possible. Therefore,  “opportunities for cooperation”  can be looked forward to controlling the rhythm of  tensions so as not to lead  to  confrontations  from which no one will emerge  unscathed.  Does this mean that the climate for settlements will exist?  Not necessarily, the most realistic case is that there are no major settlements, no major confrontations and everything is possible under that  roof. In  summary, it can be said that the ceiling of the  possible “understanding” with Russia does not go beyond the limits of  linking  the conflict until new balances of power are established and this will not happen in the foreseeable future, i.e. in the  mandate of the new administration.

One might ask why not settle? The simple answer is that Russia sees no justification for settling matters with a party that has always proved that it does not respect treaties. The Russian also believes that the American is in a state of structural weakness that may not survive it and therefore make concessions to a country whose fate is unknown may not be justified. On the other hand, the U.S. side believes that if the balance of power is not in its favour at the current stage, it should only adjust it to its advantage and therefore there is no need to give up anything substantial that might constitute the  board of settlement. The ruling elites of the United  States believe that it is destined to lead the world and that  its exceptionalism will enable it to do so. There is no willingness to acknowledge that the United States has entered the stage of strategic decline, even a likely internal collapse, and therefore the narrative prevailing among those elites will be  that the United States has valued the world regardless of the difficulties it is encountering at this stage.

Why not  face… I don’t think

The other question is why not face? The answer here is that both sides are well aware that confrontation  ultimately means the end of the globe in limited minutes!  The next war will not  be as long as it did in the two world  wars, not even in  regional wars.  It will be related to the duration of ballistic missiles reaching their targets and here we are talking about minutes, not hours! But what is the alternative to confrontation  and compromise?

The alternative is limited tensions in space and time determined by changing objective and regional  circumstances.  But this imposes careful cooperation to prevent slippage, which could lead to an all-out  confrontation that no one wants. On the other hand, multiplayer on the one hand and the absence of  any  force  capable of adjusting  the rhythm alone makes it very difficult. Hence we understand the role and value of the axis where each component has no ability to control whatever its own abilities. But the axis gives  added value to those capabilities and therefore the axis will be the rhythm officer and not the pole. Here the role of  regional gatherings or hubs is highlighted.  We are in a multi-axis world, not a multipolar world.

If we want to sum up the international landscape between the competing pivots, we see that the U.S. axis in    strategic decline may reach a collapse, but it does the work of its tactical  and show-off nature that does not  change anything in the  balance of power on the ground. On the other hand, the  other Axis of Russia and the Chinese with it the axis of resistance in the event of a strategic rise interspersed with acts of a tactical  and defensive character fortify the balances of power that created it. The anti-American axis does not believe  that a tactical confrontation is necessary at this stage because of the strategic decline of the U.S. axis.  The  time factor works in favour of the anti-dominance axis. Therefore, we do not rule out a very fragile stabilisation  phase of tensions between brief periods of calm. In our view, the balances of  power that change in favour of the anti-Western axis also include cultural and intellectual structures. It also includes political  systems where Western neoliberalism has reached an impasse and that all decisions taken by the ruling  elites in the United States and in the West in general  are an escape  from the structural internal  entitlements  facing all  states. Until a political and economic system takes into account the radical  transformations  that  have taken place in societies, especially economic and social gaps, the general  landscape will be the internal  tension in the western countries, which influence their foreign policies. These remarks apply to all  contentious files between the United  States and its competitors.

 On the Chinese issue, there appear to be two conflicting currents within the democratic party leadership.   On the  one hand, there is the  legacy of former President Barack Obama, who was the author of the theory of east-shifting to counter the rising threat posed by China. This trend to the East uses a political narrative  of  protecting human rights that are violated by the Chinese government. The U. S. needs a “moral” justification for interfering in China’s domestic affairs, whether in the Tibet, Hong Kong or Uighur Muslim stooum.   ut after the January 6 spectacle of the ruling elites dealing with angry crowds and the condemnation of these  demonstrations by elites, some leaders have come to demand that public freedoms be undermined, and it is difficult to put forward such rhetoric condemning freedoms in countries that want to submit to American  will.

The actual goal of U.S. policy is to undermine China’s competitiveness,  especially in the field of technology and artificial intelligence, by imposing sanctions on it (here new arguments will be sought for it!) And curbed  its military rise to prevent the expansion of its influence in East and South Asia. In the context of the conflict we mentioned between the group of interventionists and the “realists” the issue of dealing with  Chinese  t-communication companies, Huawei, which has been the target of sanctions in the Trump administration. If  the Biden administration wants to ease the conflict with China, it will settle the Huawei file at least  in its legal dimension. But is this in line with the interests of U.S. companies affected by Chinese competition that    have mostly supported Biden’s presidential bid? Here we see the extent of the contradiction within the  administration. This is where  Obama’s policy meets Trump’s policy f  confronting china’s rising  influence    and hitting the OneWay/One Belt project. But the capabilities of the United States, no matter how limited the governing  team may be, are too limited and cannot change the equations imposed by the transformations.

On the other hand, there is the BidenGroup, which has made confusing and suspicious deals with Chinese companies.  A large number of  Democratic party leaders are involved in suspicious deals with Chinese  government institutions such as former California State Attorney Barbara Boxer, who became the agent of a   Chinese state-owned eavesdropping  company, the current senator’s husband, Diane Feinstein, who has close ties to Chinese companies, or Representative Eric Swal of California, who is accused of having sexual  relations with a Chinese intelligence officer.  The president will be among the hammer of the Obama team,  which  wants to surround China, curb its rise, and the sanders of the special interests of the Biden family  and a number of senior Democratic officials in their dealings with China. The Republicans will undoubtedly raise the scandals championed by Hunter Biden, the president’s son, and James Biden, the president’s brother. They are the subject of investigations by the Federal Bureau of  Investigation (FBI), which refused to disclose  before the election, and William Barr, the outgoing Justice Secretary in the Trump administration, could have undermined Biden’s chances of winning the last election, reinforcing  the theory that the deep state of all its components wanted to get rid of Donald Trump and succeeded in disrupting  his mandate and success  in the  election.

One of Obama’s attempts to blockade China is the Trans Pacific Partnership/TPP,  which aimed to create a large  economic space similar to the European Common Market  before it became the European Union,    without China’s participation.  This project is similar to a European project that excludes Russia! Here is the grave  geopolitical error because it runs counter to the constant geography and changing history, how can an Asian  grouping be conceived without China and how can Russia be excluded from Europe? But Trump’s first  decision when he entered the White House was to destroy the Trans-Pacific Partnership project. In the fall  of 2020, China was able to conclude an economic agreement with Southeast Asian countries that effectively  eliminates  any  possibility of economic blockade of China.  The title of this new economic gathering is the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) signed on November 12,  2020 at a summit  of  regional  heads of  state such as China, Japan, South Korea, India and other ASEAN countries. 

China’s  most important economic influence…

The Rand Corporation, a Pentagon think  tank, considers  China’s economic influence more important than  U.S. influence in the Pacific and Asia. Asean countries also prioritise economic considerations and interests at the expense of security considerations. China’s economic influence weakens U.S. military influence, according to the RAND Corporation study, especially since countries in that region do not believe that U.S. military  influence is equivalent to China’s economic influence. There is also a conviction in those countries, according to the study, that the USA commitment to the region is questionable. Based on those considerations in the study, the Biden administration’s policy will be very complicated, especially since  the enthusiasm of the countries in the region to align  with them will be weak.

On the other hand, in recent days, the Trump administration has poisoned the atmosphere  between the United States and China by lifting all restrictions on Taiwan. It is clear that the move will anger China and strain relations with the new U.S. administration. The question is how the Biden administration can reinstate the restrictions lifted by the Trump administration, which means that there is no continuity in the outside  decision and weakens confidence in any U.S. pledge. The decisions of any administration become subject to veto by the administration that follows, and this is the result of  falling signs.  We therefore believe  that the Biden administration’s attempts will not go beyond the point of linking the conflict to conflicts of  interest  between the interveners and the realists, while  weighing  in favour of the interventionists  and the weakness of the realists because of the suspicions of corruption surrounding the president-elect and his family. 

 Some of the”positive” steps of the new administration will be to return  to the climate  agreement and the World  Health Organisation and to demand a return to the ballistic agreement. There is little cost here, but  a material for media propaganda to improve the image of the United States. Blinken’s remarks that he should”consult” with allies are a step toward restoring consideration to “diplomacy” that  his predecessor Mike Pompeo did not believe in. But what is the value of diplomacy if it is not  accompanied by  actions that take into account the interests of the various  parties?  The United States has not  yet acknowledged  this,  and it is continuing  its efforts to achieve its goals of domination and domination, but with far  fewer  possibilities. 

*Researcher  and political  economist And the former Secretary General of the  Arab  National Congress

Part 3 Here

إشكاليات السياسة الخارجية الأميركية الجديدة (2) الملفات الدولية

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الجزء الثاني: الملفّات الدولية

فما هي الملفات الخارجية التي ستشهد صراعاً بين مصالح المتدخلّين ومصالح القوى التي تريد التركيز على الملفّات الداخلية؟ ملامح السياسة الخارجية بدأت تتوضح بعد جلست الاستماع في مجلس الشيوخ لكلّ من بلينكن (وزارة الخارجية) وهاينز (مديرة الاستخبارات الوطنية DNI). الخلاصة الأساسية هي لا تغيير يُذكر في الجوهر عن سياسات أوباما وترامب الاّ في الأسلوب وطريقة التعاطي. سنعرض هنا بعض الملفّات وليست جميعها لضيق المساحة المتاحة.

فعلى الصعيد الدولي تأتي في المرتبة الأولى العلاقات مع كلّ من روسيا والصين. الإشارات الأولى التي صدرت عن عدد من رموز الفريق الانتقالي للرئيس المنتخب لا توحي بأيّ حلحلة مرتقبة في العلاقات مع روسيا. فلا ننسى أنّ معظم العاملين في الإدارة الجديدة كانوا في إدارة أوباما التي كانت معادية لروسيا. فالأزمة الأوكرانية فجّرتها إدارة أوباما ونائب الرئيس آنذاك، الرئيس المنتخب اليوم، والتي كانت له تدخّلات كبيرة في الشأن الأوكراني ناهيك عن شبهات الفساد التي رافقتها. من جهة أخرى لا ننسى أنّ مجمل الحزب الديمقراطي والدولة العميقة والإعلام الشركاتي المهيمن أمضى السنوات الأربع الماضية على شيطنة الرئيس ترامب واتهامه بالعمالة لروسيا. كما أنّ الأخيرة متهمة بالتدخل في انتخابات 2016 لصالح دونالد ترامب. وإذا أخذنا بعين الاعتبار بعض التصريحات لقيادات استخبارية داعمة لبايدن بأنّ الروس يكذبون لأنّ الكذب جزء أساسي من الحمض النووي الروسي نرى أنّ المناخ المرتقب داخل الإدارة الجديدة مناخ متشدّد تجاه روسيا. وما يعزّز ذلك التشاؤم هو أنّ المسؤولين المرتقبين في الإدارة الجديدة في الصف الثاني في الخارجية والدفاع والأمن القومي هم من المحافظين الجدد كفيكتوريا نيولند ومن المتدخّلين الليبراليين كـ كاثلين هيكس ووندي شرمان وجون فاينر كنائب مستشار الأمن القومي. وجميعهم لديهم ارتباطات وثيقة مع المجمع العسكري الأمني ومراكز الأبحاث ومن الجامعات الكبرى كما شرحناه في مقال سابق. وما لفت انتباه المراقبين أنه حتى الساعة لم يتمّ أيّ اتصال بين الإدارة الانتقالية والقيادة الروسية علماً أنّ هذا تقليد امتدّ طيلة العقود الماضية.

تراجع أميركي متعدّد الجوانب

لكن حقيقة الأمر هي أنّ القدرة التنافسية الأميركية تراجعت في السياسة والاقتصاد، وربما أهمّ من كلّ ذلك في الشأن العسكري كما شرحناه أيضاً في مقالات سابقة. فمواجهة روسيا تكون عبر إثارة ملف حقوق الانسان في روسيا وعبر نشر حزام صاروخي في الدول المجاورة وعبر إسقاط أنظمة مجاورة تتفاهم مع روسيا. بالمناسبة ورغم اتهام الحزب الديمقراطي الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب بالعمالة لروسيا فإنّ الرئيس الأميركي هو الذي فرض أكثر العقوبات على روسيا والتي كان قد بدأها سلفه باراك أوباما. ونقطة الخلاف الرئيسية الاستراتيجية هي ملف الغاز الروسي ودوره في تزويده للاتحاد الأوروبي بينما الخلاف على أوكرانيا يأتي في سياق محاولات توسع الأطلسي في أوروبا الشرقية. قضية الأمن التي يتمّ التلويح بها هي للتغطية على الهدف الرئيسي. ليس هناك أيّ دليل بأنّ روسيا تسعى لزعزعة الأمن والاستقرار الأوروبي بل العكس تسعى إلى أفضل العلاقات والتعاون مع الاتحاد الأوروبي.

هذا ما فهمته ألمانيا لكنها رضخت للضغوط الأميركية كما صرّح وزير خارجية ألمانيا السابق فرانك والتر ستنماير في تبرير رضوخ حكومته للإملاءات الأميركية عندما قال بوضوح إنّ ألمانيا متضررة اقتصادياً من تلك العقوبات غير أنّ السياسة لها القوّامة على الاقتصاد. لكن خلال الأشهر الماضية استطاعت ألمانيا أن تحدّ من غطرسة الولايات المتحدة فيما يتعلّق بمصالحها الاقتصادية مع روسيا والصين. فقد وافقت ألمانيا على تمديد أنبوب الغار الروسي (“تور ستريم 2) في المنطقة الاقتصادية التابعة لها في بحر البلطيق (كلّ يوم يتمّ مدّ كيلومترا من الأنبوب). كذلك الأمر حصل مع الجمهورية التشيكية لتمديد الخط البرّي “يوغال” الذي هو امتداد لـ “نور ستريم 2) على الحدود السكسونية الألمانية التشيكية. هذا يعكس مدى التراجع الأميركي عند الحليف الأوروبي ويقطع الطريق على الضغوط التي يمكن أن تصدرها الإدارة الجديدة.

من جهة أخرى تمّ التوقيع في 30 كانون الأول 2020 بين الصين والاتحاد الأوروبي على اتفاق يفتح باب الاستثمارات المتبادلة وذلك رغم معارضة الولايات المتحدة ورغم الذرائع التقليدية حول حقوق الإنسان التي كانت تُرفع بوجه الصين لمنع أيّ تقارب معها. هذه إشارة أخرى أنّ أوروبا الغربية شعرت بالضعف الأميركي وبدأت تفكّر بأولوية مصالحها. ولم يكن الاتحاد الأوروبي ليقدم على تلك الخطوة لولا الموافقة لكلّ من ألمانيا وفرنسا.

من ضمن الملفّات العالقة بين الولايات المتحدة وروسيا ملف أوكرانيا وخاصة شرق أوكرانيا (الدومبسك) وضمّ شبه جزيرة القرم، وملف دول القوقاز في جورجيا وناغورنو كراباخ، وانتشار السلاح الأطلسي في دول البلطيق وبولندا. ومؤخراً حاولت الولايات المتحدة خلق القلاقل في بيلاروسيا إلاّ أنها فشلت في ذلك. فالتقارب الروسي البلاروسي يشتدّ ولا نستبعد انضمام بلاروسيا على الاتحاد الروسي ما يشكّل صفعة مدوية للإدارة الأميركية. وبلاروسيا اليوم موكّلة في مواجهة كلّ من بولندا ودول البلطيق نيابة عن روسيا. ويُضاف إليها ملف سورية والملفّ النووي مع إيران وطبعاً المعاهدات في الشأن الصواريخ الباليستية المتوسطة المدى. في سياق ملف المعاهدة التي خرجت عنها الولايات المتحدة في موضوع الصواريخ الباليستية لم تعد روسيا متمسّكة بها.

حالة الإنكار متحكّمة في عقل النخب الحاكمة

لا ندري ماذا يمكن أن تقدّم الولايات المتحدة في كلّ هذه الملفّات غير التراجع عن مواقفها التصعيدية الذي سيكرّس تراجع نفوذها. لكن ليس في المزاج الحالي في الإدارة الانتقالية جهوزية لأيّ بادرة لتقديم أيّ تنازل. وبما أنّ حالة الإنكار لذلك التراجع متحكّمة في عقل النخب الحاكمة في الإدارة المقبلة على قاعدة “الاستثنائية الأميركية” و”قدرها المتجلّي” وبغياب أيّ دليل نظري أو ملموس للإقرار بذلك التراجع، فما يمكن أن نتوقّعه هو استمرار النبرة العالية والمعادية في مخاطبة روسيا دون أن تترجم بمواجهة على الأرض. فنظام العقوبات على روسيا مستمرّ وهو بدأ في عهد أوباما ولا تستطيع الإدارة المقبلة رفعها دون مقابل ملموس لتسويقه في المشهد الداخلي. فليس هناك ابداع في التفكير في الجانب الأميركي والجانب الروسي لا يعتبر نفسه ملزما بتقديم تنازلات خاصة أن لا ثقة بتعهدّات الولايات المتحدة. لذلك نشهد تزايد عدم الاكتراث في الجانب الروسي لما يمكن أن يصدر عن إدارة بايدن طالما أنّ أفق المواجهة المفتوحة المسلّحة مسدود. فروسيا استطاعت التكيّف مع العقوبات بل حوّلتها إلى فرص اكتفاء ذاتي حرّرها من الابتزاز الأميركي. فالعقوبات نجحت فقط في زيادة عزلة الولايات المتحدة في العالم وخاصة عند حلفائها الأوروبيين. والنخب في روسيا ترى كما نرى نحن أنّ الإدارة الجديدة ستكون منصبّة على الملفّات الداخلية لخطورتها وتعقيداتها وبالتالي لا تعتبر أنّ باستطاعتها التفاعل الدائم في الملفّات الخارجية.

لكن هذا لا يعني أنّ التواصل مع روسيا خارج الاحتمالات. فإذا كانت الضرورة امّ الاختراعات فهي أيضاً أمّ التفاهمات. في هذا السياق أعلن الرئيس الروسي في رسالة للرئيس المنتخب أنه يأمل بعلاقات ودية على قاعدة الندّية والاحترام المتبادل، وهذه إشارة إلى أنّ العودة الى أسلوب التعالي لم يعد مقبولاً. من جهة أخرى كان ردّ وزير الخارجية المسمّى أنطوني بلينكن أنّ في ذروة التنافس النووي بين الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد السوفياتي وفي ظلّ الخطر النووي الوجودي المتمثّل بآلاف الصواريخ الباليستية النووية الموجهة ضدّ كلّ من البلدين كانت مجالات التعاون في العديد من الملفات الساخنة ممكنة. وبالتالي يمكن التطلّع إلى “فرص تعاون” لضبط إيقاع التوترات كي لا تؤدّي إلى مواجهات لن يخرج أحد سالماً منها. هل هذا يعني أنّ مناخ التسويات سيكون قائماً؟ ليس بالضرورة، فالحالة الأكثر واقعية هي أن لا تسويات كبرى ولا مواجهات كبرى وكلّ شيء ممكن تحت ذلك السقفين. في الخلاصة يمكن القول إنّ سقف “التفاهم” الممكن مع روسيا لا يتجاوز حدود ربط النزاع إلى ان تتبلور موازين قوّة جديدة وهذا لن يحصل في المدى المنظور أيّ في ولاية الإدارة الجديدة.

قد يسأل المرء لماذا لا تسوية؟ الإجابة البسيطة هي أنّ روسيا لا ترى أيّ مبرّر لتسوية الأمور مع طرف برهن دائماً أنه لا يحترم المعاهدات فما بال التسويات! كما يرى الروسي أنّ الأميركي في حالة ضعف بنيوي قد لا ينجو منها وبالتالي تقديم تنازلات لدولة مصيرها مجهول قد لا يكون مبرّرا. في المقابل، يرى الطرف الأميركي إذا كانت موازين القوّة ليست لصالحه في المرحلة الحالية فما عليه إلاّ أن يعدّلها لمصلحته وبالتالي لا داعي للتنازل عن أيّ شيء جوهري قد يشكّل متن التسوية. وتعتقد النخب الحاكمة في الولايات المتحدة أنّ قدرها هو أن تقود العالم وأن استثنائيتها ستمكّنها من ذلك. ليس هناك استعداد للإقرار بأنّ الولايات المتحدة دخلت مرحلة التراجع الاستراتيجي بل حتى الانهيار الداخلي المرجّح وبالتالي ستكون السردية السائدة عند تلك النخب بأنّ الولايات المتحدة قدر على العالم بغضّ النظر عن الصعوبات التي تلاقيها في المرحلة الحالية.

لماذا لا مواجهة…؟

والسؤال الآخر لماذا لا مواجهة؟ الإجابة هنا أنّ الطرفين يدركان جيّداً أنّ المواجهة تعني في آخر المطاف نهاية المعمورة في دقائق محدودة! لن تكون الحرب المقبلة ممتدّة على مدى سنوات كما حصل في الحربين العالميتين ولا حتى في الحروب الإقليمية. ستكون مرتبطة بمدة وصول الصواريخ الباليستية إلى أهدافها وهنا نتكلّم عن دقائق وليس ساعات! لكن ما هو البديل عن المواجهة وعن التسوية؟

البديل هو توتّرات محدودة في المكان والزمان تحدّده الظروف الموضوعية والإقليمية المتغيّرة. لكن هذا يفرض تعاوناً دقيقاً لمنع الانزلاق الذي قد يؤدّي إلى مواجهة شاملة لا يريدها أحد. في المقابل، تعدّد اللاعبين من جهة وعدم وجود أيّ قوّة قادرة بمفردها على ضبط الإيقاع تجعل ذلك الأمر في غاية الصعوبة. من هنا نفهم دور وقيمة المحور حيث كلّ مكوّن له لا قدرة على التحكّم مهما كانت قدراته الذاتية. لكن المحور يعطي قيمة مضافة لتلك القدرات وبالتالي المحور هو الذي سيكون ضابط الإيقاع وليس القطب. هنا يبرز دور التجمّعات أو المحاور الإقليمية. أصبحنا في عالم متعدّد المحاور وليس في عالم متعدد القطبية.

إذا أردنا تلخيص المشهد الدولي بين المحورية المتنافسين نرى أنّ المحور الأميركي في تراجع استراتيجي قد يصل إلى الأفول والانهيار ولكنه يقوم بأعمال طابعها هجومي تكتيكي واستعراضي لا يغيّر أيّ شيء في موازين القوّة على الأرض. في المقابل فإنّ المحور الآخر الروسي الصيني ومعه محور المقاومة في حال صعود استراتيجي تتخلله أعمال طابعها تكتيكي دفاعي تحصّن موازين القوّة التي أوجدتها. والمحور المقاوم للهيمنة الأميركية لا يعتقد أنّ مواجهة تكتيكية ضرورية في المرحلة الراهنة بسبب التراجع الاستراتيجي للمحور الأميركي. عامل الوقت يعمل لصالح المحور المقاوم للهيمنة. لذلك لا نستبعد مرحلة استقرار هشّ للغاية تسوده التوترات بين فترات وجيزة من الهدوء. في رأينا، موازين القوّة التي تتغيّر لصالح المحور المناهض للهيمنة الغربية تشمل أيضاً البنى الثقافية والفكرية. وتشمل أيضاً المنظومات السياسية حيث النيوليبرالية الغربية وصلت إلى طريق مسدود وأنّ كلّ القرارات التي تتخذها النخب الحاكمة في الولايات المتحدة وفي الغرب عموما هي هروب إلى الأمام من الاستحقاقات الداخلية البنيوية التي تواجه كلّ الدول. إلى أن يتبلور نظام سياسي اقتصادي يأخذ بعين الاعتبار التحوّلات الجذرية التي حصلت في المجتمعات وخاصة الفجوات الاقتصادية والاجتماعية فإنّ سمة المشهد العام سيكون التوتر الداخلي في دول الغرب العامل المؤثر على سياساتها الخارجية. هذه الملاحظات تنطبق على كافة الملفات الخلافية بين الولايات المتحدة ومنافسيها.

وفي ما يتعلّق بالملفّ الصيني فهناك تياران متصارعان على ما يبدو داخل قيادات الحزب الديمقراطي. فمن جهة، هناك إرث الرئيس السابق باراك أوباما الذي كان صاحب نظرية التحوّل إلى الشرق لمواجهة الخطر الصاعد الذي تمثّله الصين. وهذا التوجّه إلى الشرق يستعمل سردية سياسية هي حماية حقوق الانسان التي تنتهكها الحكومة الصينية. فالولايات المتحدة بحاجة إلى مبرّر “أخلاقي” للتدخل في الشأن الداخلي في الصين سواء في قضية التيبت أو هونغ كونغ أو المسلمين الأويغور! لكن بعد المشهد الذي قدّمته النخب الحاكمة في 6 كانون الثاني/ يناير في التعامل مع الجماهير الغاضبة وتنديد النخب بهذه المظاهرات وصلت عند بعض القيادات إلى المطالبة بتقويض الحرّيات العامة يصعب عندئذ طرح ذلك الخطاب المندّد للحرّيات في الدول التي تريد الخضوع للمشيئة الأميركية.

الهدف الفعلي لسياسة الولايات المتحدة هو تقويض القدرات التنافسية للصين خاصة في الميدان التكنولوجي والذكاء الاصطناعي وذلك عبر فرض العقوبات عليها (وهنا سيتمّ التفتيش عن حجج جديدة لذلك!) وكبح صعودها العسكري لمنع تمدّد نفوذها في شرق وجنوب آسيا. وفي سياق الصراع الذي ذكرناه بين جماعة المتدخلين وجماعة “الواقعيين” مسألة التعامل مع شركات التواصل الصينية كهواوي التي كانت هدفاً للعقوبات في إدارة ترامب. فإذا أرادت إدارة بايدن التخفيف من حدّة الصراع مع الصين فستقوم بتسوية لملف هواوي على الأقلّ في بعده القانوني. لكن هل هذا يستقيم مع مصالح الشركات الأميركية المتضرّرة من التنافس الصيني وهي التي دعمت إلى أقصى الحدود وصول بايدن إلى الرئاسة؟ هنا نرى مدى التناقض الموجود داخل الإدارة. هنا تلتقي سياسة أوباما مع سياسة ترامب في ضرورة مواجهة النفوذ الصيني الصاعد وضرب مشروع الطريق الواحد/ الحزام الواحد. لكن قدرات الولايات المتحدة مهما كان الفريق الحاكم محدودة للغاية ولا تستطيع تغيير المعادلات التي فرضتها التحوّلات.

ومن جهة أخرى هناك “جماعة بايدن” التي عقدت صفقات مثيرة للالتباس والشبهات مع شركات صينية. ويشاركه في ذلك عدد كبير من قيادات الحزب الديمقراطي في صفقات مشبوهة مع مؤسّسات صينية حكومية كالشيخة السابقة لولاية كاليفورنيا بربرا بوكسر التي أصبحت وكيلة شركة صينية حكومية مختصة بالتنصّت، أو زوج الشيخ الحالية دايان فاينشتين الذي له علاقات وثيقة مع الشركات الصينية، أو النائب أريك سوالوال من كاليفورنيا المتهم بعلاقات جنسية مع ضابطة من الاستخبارات الصينية! فالرئيس سيكون بين مطرقة فريق أوباما الذي يريد محاصرة الصين وكبح صعودها وسندان المصالح الخاصة العائدة لعائلة بايدن ولعدد من كبار المسؤولين في الحزب الديمقراطي في تعاملهم مع الصين. الحزب الجمهوري سيثير دون أيّ شكّ الفضائح التي بطلها هنتر بايدن نجل الرئيس وجيمس بايدن شقيق الرئيس. فهما موضوع تحقيقات يقوم بها المكتب الاتحادي للتحقيقات (أف بي أي) التي رفض الكشف عنها قبل الانتخابات وليم بار وزير العدل المستقيل في إدارة ترامب والتي كان بإمكانها تقويض فرص فوز بايدن في الانتخابات الأخيرة، ما يعزّز نظرية أنّ الدولة العميقة بكافة مكوّناتها أرادت التخلّص من دونالد ترامب وقد نجحت في تعطيل ولايته ونجاحه في الانتخابات.

من محاولات محاصرة الصين التي أطلقها أوباما مشروع الشراكة في المحيط الهادئ ((Trans Pacific Partnership/TPP التي كانت تهدف إلى إيجاد فضاء اقتصادي كبير شبيه بالسوق الأوروبية المشتركة قبل أن تصبح الاتحاد الأوروبي، وذلك دون مشاركة الصين. يتماثل هذا المشروع مع مشروع أوروبي يقصي روسيا! وهنا الخطأ الجيوسياسي الفادح لأنه يتنافى مع الجغرافيا الثابتة والتاريخ المتغيّر، فكيف يمكن تصوّر تجمع آسيوي دون الصين وكيف يمكن أقصاء روسيا من أوروبا؟ لكن أول قرارات ترامب عند دخوله البيت الأبيض كان وأد مشروع الشراكة في المحيط الهادئ. والصين استطاعت أن تعقد في خريف 2020 اتفاقاً اقتصادياً مع دول جنوب شرق آسيا يلغي فعلياً أيّ إمكانية محاصرة الصين اقتصادياً. عنوان هذا التجمّع الاقتصادي الجديد هو اتفاق الشراكة الاقتصادية الإقليمية الشاملة (RCEP) الذي وقّع في 12 تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر 2020 في اجتماع قمة لرؤساء دول المنطقة كالصين واليابان وكوريا الجنوبية والهند وسائر دول جمعية دول الجنوب الشرقي الاسيوي (ASEAN).

نفوذ الصين الاقتصادي أهمّ…

وتعتبر مؤسسة راند كوربوريشن، وهي مؤسسة أبحاث تابعة للبنتاغون، أنّ نفوذ الصين الاقتصادي أهمّ من النفوذ الأميركي في منطقة المحيط الهادئ وآسيا. كما أنّ دول جمعية جنوب شرق آسيا تعطي الأولوية للاعتبارات والمصالح الاقتصادية على حساب الاعتبارات الأمنية. والنفوذ الاقتصادي الصيني يضعف النفوذ العسكري الأميركي وفقاً لدراسة مؤسسة راند خاصة أنّ دول تلك المنطقة لا تعتقد أنّ النفوذ العسكري الأميركي يوازي النفوذ الاقتصادي الصيني. وهناك أيضاً قناعة عند تلك الدول وفقاً للدراسة المذكورة أنّ التزام الولايات المتحدة تجاه المنطقة مشكوك بأمره. بناء على تلك الاعتبارات التي جاءت في الدراسة المذكورة ستكون سياسة إدارة بايدن معقّدة للغاية خاصة أنّ حماس دول المنطقة للاصطفاف معها سيكون ضعيفاً.

من جهة أخرى أقدمت إدارة ترامب في أيامها الأخيرة على تسميم الأجواء بين الولايات المتحدة والصين عبر رفع جميع القيود على تايوان. من الواضح أنّ ذلك الإجراء سيغضب الصين ويوتر العلاقات مع الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة. والسؤال كيف يمكن لإدارة بايدن إعادة القيود التي رفعتها إدارة ترامب ما يعني أنّ ليس هناك من استمرارية في القرار الخارجي فيضعف الثقة بأي تعهّد أميركي. فقرارات أيّ أدارة تصبح معرّضة للنقض من قبل إدارة تليها وهذا من إرهاصات السقوط. لذلك نعتقد أنّ محاولات إدارة بايدن لن تتجاوز مرحلة ربط النزاع لتضارب المصالح بين المتدخلّين والواقعيين مع ترجيح الكفّة لصالح المتدخلين وضعف الواقعيين بسبب شبهات الفساد التي تحيط بالرئيس المنتخب وعائلته.

بعض الخطوات “الإيجابية” للإدارة الجديدة ستكون في العودة إلى اتفاق المناخ ومنظمة الصحة العالمية والمطالبة بالعودة إلى الاتفاق الباليستي. لا كلفة هنا تذكر بل مادة للدعاية الإعلامية لتحسين صورة الولايات المتحدة. كما أنّ تصريحات بلينكن بضرورة “التشاور” مع الحلفاء خطوة نحو إعادة الاعتبار إلى “الدبلوماسية” التي لم يكن يؤمن بها سلفه مايك بومبيو. لكن ما قيمة الدبلوماسية إن لم ترفقها أفعال تأخذ بعين الاعتبار مصالح مختلف الفرقاء؟ لم تصل الولايات المتحدة حتى الساعة إلى الإقرار بذلك فهي مستمرّة في جهودها لتحقيق أهدافها في السيطرة والهيمنة لكن بإمكانيات أقلّ بكثير ما يؤهّلها بذلك.

*باحث وكاتب اقتصادي سياسي والأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي

فيديوات ذات صلة

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مقالات ذات صلة

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By Ronnie Kasrils

I salute Jeremy Corbyn’s Peace & Justice initiative which could not be more timely, and I am proud to be part of it.

We live in troubled times: the raging pandemic, rise of neo-fascist forces; the rapacious neoliberal global system.

For so many, survival against war, police brutality, starvation, disease, collapsing economies, refugee camps, is the stark reality.

All of this is compounded by the climate crisis; environmental pollution; collapse of food and water security.

The pandemic has exposed to the light of day too often hidden or denied chasms of inequality both within and between nations and peoples around the world — both in the disproportionate impact on the poorest, most vulnerable, people of color, in getting the virus, and especially in the inequities of access to the vaccine.

The rich grow obscenely richer, the poor grow poorer. Less than one percent owning more than half the world’s population.

Yet “the times are a changing”; Bob Dylan sang at the time of the civil rights and anti-colonial liberation struggles; and the melody continues to rhyme with history – reflected to this day by the pressure of billions across the planet demanding a better life.

Two centuries ago the poet Shelley wrote in the wake of the Peterloo massacre you are the many they are the few”.

Not long after, Marx and Engels pointed to the consequences of the increasing concentration of the means of production and wealth in fewer and fewer hands. Then, as now, the challenge was to understand the world in order to change it.

To do that we must not ignore the repercussions of colonial conquest as a prelude to the rise of the capitalist era.

The hangover of that colonial past exists: in power relations between peoples and nations; between global north and south; in the neo-colonial masquerade of the Bolsonaro’s, Modi’s and El Sisi’s trying to subvert progress.

Progress such as the Black Lives Matter movement, which is energized not only by revolt against police crimes but to overturn the weight and consequence of centuries of slavery, white supremacy and inequality.

Struggle for change, as ever, requires an understanding of the material conditions of political and economic life, to avoid reductionism into identity politics and racial or gender essentialism, at the expense of class-conscious clarity.

Likewise, loser Trump’s rage and the mob that attacked the Capitol building are a consequence of America’s past, and symptomatic of the frustration of white supremacists whose psychosis, as in the 1930s, is stoked by demagogues.

Enormous irony is seen in the double standards of the “Free World”. On the one hand: unbelievable shock that the USA’s seat of democracy has been assaulted. On the other: the sanguine promotion of military intervention, neo-colonial coups, punitive sanctions abroad in the name of that democracy.

To control the Middle East, Israel – a colonizing project – receives massive US military and financial aid. Disregard for Palestinian rights is reflected in Trump’s Deal of the Century and the so-called “normalization” between Israel and corrupt Arab fiefdoms.

If Biden is to commit to democracy, he must quit the double standards of previous administrations and apply the visions of a Franklin D Roosevelt and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Biden needs to apply and significantly extend a “New Deal” project which in FDR’s day cut black Americans short; he must commit to world peace in recognition of the national and human rights of all peoples; uphold international law under the writ of the United Nations – an institution whose authority the US has systematically undermined.

And as King’s birthday is commemorated this weekend, Biden needs to note King’s most important speech – “Beyond Vietnam” which described the US government as the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world”, and crucially identified the three interlocking evils that must be challenged – systemic racism, poverty, and militarism.

For the Corbyn Project to succeed it must become an international champion, furthering both FDR and King’s visions – and connect with movements for peace and justice throughout the world.

From the multitude that filled the streets opposing the invasion of Iraq, to the Arab Spring and BLM rebellion; waves of protest are signaling a new dawn. In India alone, over 250 million participated in strikes and protests last year. We must spare no effort in making this rising tsunami unstoppable.

And if we wish to talk about courage under fire, note the men, women and children of Palestine, facing the bombs and bullets of the Israeli Defense Force in their peaceful protests, refusing to submit.

Like others around the world, we South Africans have developed a vibrant civil society, with grassroots movements, encouraging our and all governments to act decisively in tackling the fault lines of the 21st Century, as we did in the struggle against Apartheid in the previous century:

For people’s involvement in the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine and global vaccine equality;

For the protection of the eco-system and food security through a Climate Justice Charter and Global Food Sovereignty Agenda;

For a global anti-racist, anti-war, pro-peace platform. Together we must defeat a second coming of fascism – for in Berthold Brecht’s words (referring a system, not the gender) – “The beast is on heat again.”

No Pasaran! They shall not pass. This is a time when, in Seamus Heaney’s words, “hope and history rhyme.” Through people’s power, in unity, action, and international solidarity, we will win. For people and the planet. For the many, not the few!

– Ronnie Kasrils, veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle, and South Africa’s former Minister for Intelligence Services, activist and author. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

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