ما العمل لإنقاذ لبنان

زاهر الخطيب

ما هو عِلميَّا وعَمليَّا مُقتَرحُنا الخَلاصيّ؟

بين انتصار المقاومة 14 آب 2006 وانفجار الفاجعة 4 آب 2020 وفي أعقابِ التّطوراتِ والمستجِدّات الأخيرة…

سَواءٌ على صعيدِ الجائحةِ الكورونيّةِ وطنيّاً وإقليميّاً ودوليّاً…

أو على صعيدِ الانفجارِ الفاجعة في المرفأ التاريخيّ العريق لبيروت «اُمِّ الشرائع»، والتّداعيات المُزلْزِلة، التي أقلُّ ما خلّفت وراءها: رعباً… ودماً… وألماً… ودَماراً… وَرُكاماً… وتهجيراً…

بين الانفجار الزّلزلَة.. وتفرُّد الحكومة باستقالةٍ متسرِّعة!

فوَّتتِ الحكومةُ فرصةً ثمينةً بِرِهانِها الطويلِ المدى على صندوق النّقد الدولي، وبعدم التوجُّهِ شرقاً، لملاقاة عروضٍ سخيّةٍ قدّمتها دولٌ صديقةٌ لو استُجيبَ لها، لكانت فَتحت للحكومةِ منافذ واسعةً أمامَ حُلولٍ عمليّةٍ فوريَّة، وشقّت طُرُقاً لإنقاذِ لبنانَ من فظيعِ محنتِهِ والمآسي. أوَلم يكنِ الأجدى للبنانَ، بألّا تُقدِمَ الحكومةُ على تركِ المسؤوليةِ فجأةً بِلا استشارة؟ وفي تِلكُمُ الظروفِ العصيبة؟ وإذا كان في ما نقولُ الكثيرُ من الأسف وبعضُ العتب، فهو على قدرِ المودَّة. وتبقى الغلطةُ الكبيرةُ بالتردُّدِ والتفرُّد، وبعدمِ قراءةِ موازينِ القُوى موضوعِيّاً بعينِ العقل. ولو فعَلتِ الحكومة ذلك، لما خَذَلت أو خُذِلت، لأنّ موازينَ القُوى كانت لِتسمَحَ للحكومةِ بالفلاح، لو كانت لبَّت نداءَ التوجُّه شرقاً، ولكانت وضعت لبنانَ فوراً، على سكّةِ الخلاصِ الاستراتيجيّ. أمّا الأدلَّةُ الثبوتيةُ على صحّةِ ما نقولُ فعديدة، ويكفي أن نُشيرَ الى شاهدٍ من أهْلِهِ، هو نفسُهُ المبعوثُ الأميركيُّ السّيد هيل، الذي، في زيارته لبنان، جاءنا مُتكبِّراً مُتجبِّراً لِيفرِضَ شروطاً أميركيةً على لبنان، توحي بإقصاءِ حزبِ الله عن الحكومة اللبنانيّة تمهيداً لنزعِ سلاحِه، وإذ بالمبعوثِ نفسِهِ، بعد تصريحاته المزَلزِلة، وبعد صدورِ الحكمِ المهزلة عن المحكمةِ الدوليَّة، يُصرِّحُ بما معناه: إنّ أميركا تعايشت وتعاملت مع حكوماتٍ سابقةٍ شاركَ فيها حزبُ الله (وفي مثل هذا التّصريح الفصيح طبعاً) إشارةٌ واضحةٌ إلى أنَّ أميركا على استعدادٍ للتعاملِ مع الحكومة اللبنانيّة المُقبلة، التي لن تُشكَّلَ إنْ لم يكن حزبُ اللهِ، فيها، شريكاً.

أمّا بعدُ، وعلى ضوء ما سبق، وبحصيلة مشاوراتٍ دَؤوبةٍ مع الرِّفاق في القيادةِ المركزيَّةِ لرابطةِ الشَّغيلة… وكوادرَ ناشطةٍ في تيَّار العُروبةِ للمقاومةِ والعدالةِ الاجتماعيَّة.

ارتأيتُ ضَرورةَ التوجُّه لأبناءِ الوطنِ العربيّ ولا سِيّما فلسطين وسورية والعراق واليمن وسائر الأقطار، والى الأحرار والشرفاء في العالم بِنداءٍ وجدانيٍّ، أو فلنقُلْ بصريحِ بيانٍ عقلانيٍّ موضوعي، بعناوينَ ثلاثة، أُوجِزُ مضامينَها تمهيداً، كما يلي:

العنوانُ الأول: «المقاومة شرطُ وجودِ لبنان»

المقاومة شرطُ حماية انتصار شعبه في العام 2000.

المقاومة شرطُ صونِ سيادته بسمائهِ وأرضِهِ ومياهِهِ والثروات ما ظهرَ منها وما بَطَن.

أوَلم يؤكد ذلك أمين عام حزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله في ذكرى انتصار آب 2006؟

العنوان الثاني: أليسَ لِغاياتِها وأهدافِها السياسيّة تُشَنُّ الحروبُ العسكرية والعدوانية،

أوَليس الحِصارُ والعقوباتُ والاغتيالاتُ والفوضى الخلّاقةُ والثوراتُ الملوّنةُ والإرهابُ الوحشيُّ وقطعُ الطرقاتِ والأموالُ، هي البدائلُ الجاهزةُ للحروبِ الاقتصاديةِ عند فشلِ الحروبِ العسكريّةِ الظالمةِ من تحقيقِ غاياتِها وأهدافِها السياسية؟

العنوان الثالث: ما العملُ لإنقاذِ لبنان

وما هو عِلميّاً وعَمليّاً مُقتَرحُنا الخَلاصيّ؟

تمهيدٌ… في البُعد الفلسفيّ: المقاومةُ شرطٌ وجوديّ

إنّ المقاومةَ شرطٌ وجوديٌّ في حياةِ الإنسان، لأنه فطرةٌ طبيعية وسُنَّةٌ تواكِبُه مع نشأتِه وفي تكوينه، سواء بمناعته الجسدية، أم بمناعته النفسيّة، مناعةٌ جسدية لِدفع أذىً يطالُ الجسد، ونفسيّة لِردعِ ظلم ينالُ من النّفس… أولم تلِدْنا أمهاتُنا أحراراً؟

ألا تتجلّى هذه السِّمات في سِيَرِ الأنبياءِ والشهداءِ والعلماءِ والقادةِ العظماء؟ وعند الشعوب المناضِلة والأقوياءِ في نفوسهم مُذ كان التمرّد على الظلم والطغيان؟

أليس جدلُ الكونِ والإنسان قائمٌ على الدِّيالكتيّة، أي الثنائيّة في صراع الأضداد، كالصّراع الدائر بين الخير والشرّ على صعيد الإنسان والمجتمع، أو كالصّراع الدائرِ بين الحقِّ والباطل، أو بين النور والظُلمة، أما في الموضوعةِ التي نحن بصددها ففي الصّراع الدائرِ بين الحرية والعبودية.. بين حرية الإنسان في خِياراته بإعطاء المعنى الذي يريدُ لِوجودِه سيّداً حرّاً مستقلّا عن أيِّ ارتهان أو استلاب أو استغلال من أيِّ نوعٍ كان، وعبوديةٍ تكبِّلُهُ بالسلاسل الحديدية والأغلال الى الأذقان، أو عبودية أشدُّ وأدهى، تتبدّى خبيثًةً بالعبودية الفكريّة والعنصريّة والطائفيّة والمذهبيّة والفئويّة والمناطقيّة والعائليّة والعُصبويّة، وهي أخطرُ أنواعِ العبوديات. وفي حديثٍ شريفٍ عن التعصُّب والعصبيّة: «إنها لجاهليَّةٌ نتِنة».

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ـ المقاومةُ شرطُ وجودِ لبنان

أربعةَ عشر عاماً مضت على انتصار شعبِنا على العدو الصّهيوني في حرب تموز 2006، استطاعت خلالها المقاومةُ مجابهةَ تحدِّيات الحرب الصُّهيو – أميركيّة العدوانيّة الهمجيّة، وإسقاطَ مشروع الشرق الأوسط الجديد، الذي كانت قد بشّرت به السيدة رايس الحكومة اللبنانية بشخصِ رئيسِها فؤاد السنيورة، ولم يكن قد مضى أكثر من ثلاثةٍ وثلاثين يوماً حتى خاب فألُ أميركا بعد أن ساء ظنُّها بقوةِ أداة التنفيذ الصُّهيونية، التي لم توفّر حتى أطفال قانا في ارتكاب مجازرها، فجعلتهم أشلاءَ متناثرة في مركز القُوات الدولية. وقد تمكّنت المقاومة بعد ذلك من تثبيت معادلاتٍ للرّدع، غلّت يد الصّهاينة عن استسهالِ العدوان على لبنان، بفضل القوةِ المتعاظمة للمقاومة وموقفها الثَّوريِّ المبدئيّ، وتطوير قدراتها التي قلّصت، إنْ لم نقل، كفّت الى حدٍّ بعيد شرَّ الصّهاينة الغادرين بغزو لبنان أو استمراء تَكرار اعتداءاته. ويعود الفضلُ الأول في ذلك الى المقاومة في خِيارها بتأكيدِ قوتها ورفضِها رفضاً مطلقاً قبولَ الذُلِّ والهوان لأبناء شعبها والوطن، فكانت لِتردعَ بقوةٍ، أيَّ عدوانٍ على سيادتنا، لا سيما بعد أن طوّرت المقاومةُ قدراتِها الرّدعية، وبذلت من الجهود والجهاد ما يوافرُ المقدرةَ على كبحِ جموح الحِلف الاستعماري الصُّهيوني ومنعِه من شنِّ حروبٍ جديدةٍ، فالمقاومةُ الباسلةُ باتت تفرِضُ على العدو الصُّهيوني حسابَ الكِلفة في حال إقدامِهِ على أيّ مغامرةٍ غير محسوبة، وذلك بفعل امتلاكها قوة قاهرة تُخفي المفاجآت، وتسهر لياليها بضناء في مواصلة بناء قوّتها وتعزيزها تدريباً وعدّةً وعتاداً بفضل الشراكة المصيريّة مع سوريّة وإيران، اللتين تواصلان دعم المقاومة في أقسى الظروف، ولَمْ يَصرِفهُما عن ذلك الالتزامِ المصيريِّ الأخويِّ الأخلاقيِّ، أيُّ عدوانٍ أو حصارٍ أو تهديدٍ أو تآمرٍ مع شياطينِ الداخلِ أو الخارج، وإنّ شرفاءَ لبنان وأحرارَ العالم لَمَدينون لتلك الأرواحِ الغاليةِ والدماءِ الزكيّةِ والجهودِ المضنية، التي تبذلُها المقاومة بعناءٍ وسخاء، والتي لا يجوز أن يطمسها أو يغيِّـبَها أيُّ جحودٍ أو نكران.

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ـ المقاومةُ شرطُ حماية انتصار لبنان العام 2000 وردع أيّ عدوان على شعبه وترسيخ قوَّته وإسقاط مقولة قوة لبنان بضعفه، والثلاثية التي أرساها الشعب اللبناني هي «قوة لبنان بجيشه وشعبه ومقاومته» ضدّ العدو الصهيوني الاستيطاني الذي دسَّه الاستعمار في قلب الوطن العربي لدورٍ وظيفي، يقضي بتجزئة الوطن العربي وقمع حركات التحرُّر فيه طامعاً بعد احتلال فلسطين بجعل لبنان محمية صُهيونية بلا سيادة، مستبيحاً سماءنا وأرضنا ومياهنا ونفطنا والغاز والثروات، ما ظهر منها وما بطن.

أما وقد دخلنا بهذه المعادلة الثلاثية العصرَ الذي ولّى فيه زمن الهزائم وجاء زمن الانتصارات، وخاض فيه لبنان مع محور المقاومة معارك التحرير الظافرة.

«فقد أصبحت المقاومة تحمي لبنان وتردعُ العدو الصُّهيوني ورعاته في العالم، وشركاءَه في المنطقة، وهي بالشراكة مع الجيش اللبنانيّ، ومع غالبية الشعب الحاضنة والداعمة، تقيم منظومة الدِّفاع والحماية ضدّ التهديد الصُّهيوني… وضدّ الإرهاب التكفيري… وأخطارِه… وإجرامه الدموي. وقد بذل المقاومون بكلّ تواضع تضحيات جمّة في معركة وجودٍ مصيريّة، فدافعوا بالدماء عن حق شعبهم في الحياة والأمان، وحرسوا بأرواحهم مع أبطال الجيش اللبناني وحدة الشعب والوطن، كما منعوا الغزوة الإرهابية من تمزيق الشرق العربي، فكانوا خلال السنوات الأخيرة يبذلون الدماء والأرواح دفاعاً عن لبنان وعن سوريّة والعراق في ملحمة شرقيّة عربيّة تاريخية عظيمة، تؤكد وحدة مصير الشرق، رغم جميع خطط الهيمنة الاستعماريّة الهادفة لِتمزيقه وإخضاعه ونهبه. وقد كانت شراكة المقاومة المصيريّة، وبالذات مع الشقيقة سورية، مثالاً للأخوّة، ولوحدة المصير القومي. بينما كان لإيران الشقيقة الفضلُ العظيمُ، الذي لا يُنسى في تمكين سورية وفلسطين ولبنان والعراق واليمن من التّصدّي للغزوة الإرهابية، المدعومة من الحلف الاستعماري الصُّهيوني الرجعيّ العربيّ الأشدّ صهينًة أو قُل العِبري الأشدّ كُفراً».

العنوان الثاني: الحروبُ الاقتصاديةُ العدوانيةُ بديلاً عن الحروب العسكرية الظالمة عند فشلها في تحقيقِ غاياتها وأهدافها السياسيّة.

«لقد سارع حلف العدوان بعد تعثُّر مخططه الدمويّ الى إحكام أدوات الحصار والخنق الاقتصادي على سوريّة وإيران، وكذلك على لبنان، بينما كانت الحكوماتُ اللبنانية المتعاقبة قاصرةً بخططها وتوجهاتها عن ابتكار وتنفيذ البرامج الوطنية، التي ترعى فرصاً جِديّة لتوفير مستلزمات الصمود، ولتطوير القُدرة على كسر الحصار الغربي الاستعماري، والتصدّي لمسار الانهيار الاقتصادي والمالي، الذي كان أبرزُ وجوهِه النافرة اختناق القطاعات المنتجة، وتمادي الريعيّة والفساد. وما تزال الضرورة الوطنية تفرض على لبنان اعتمادَ خطةٍ للصمود الوطني، ترتكز الى تطوير قطاعات الإنتاج وإحياء الثروة الحقيقية، وتثبيت دعائم الاستقلال الوطني، والتحرُّر من الهيمنة الاستعمارية عبر التمسُّك بشراكة الحياة مع سوريّة والعراق وإيران وسائر دول الشرق. وإنّ عدم ملاقاة هذه الفرص بخطوات عملية يوقعُ لبنان رهينة في فخّ الهيمنة الغربية اللصوصية أيا كان غطاؤها الخادع، وهو ما يجب أن ينتبه إليه جميع اللبنانيين القادرين على توسيع الفرص ومضاعفة القدرات عبر تنويع الخيارات».

نداء إلى أبناء الأمّة جمعاء

بيننا وبين الاستعمار قضايا لن تُصفَّى بالمناشدة والخنوع أو التملّق العاطفي… بل هي تدعونا الى كفاح عمليٍّ شاقٍّ وطويل…

بيننا وبين الاستعمار قضية فلسطين التي شاؤوها لقمة سائغة للصُّهيونية المجرمة، ولكنها، لن تكون في معركة الوجود مهما أبطأ الزمن إلَّا لأبنائها بدمائنا وبجهادِ الأجيال ستكون. فلا صفقة قرنٍ ولا صفقاتِ قرونٍ تعيد فلسطين لأهلها عربيّةً أبيّةً. لقد ضاع عمرُنا الرّخيص بالمساومة، وفلسطين لن تعود إلّا بالمقاومة المسلّحة أساساً، وتجلياتها السياسيّة والدبلوماسيّة والجماهيريّة والثقافيّة، تكون في خدمة الكفاح المسلّح. قضية فلسطين هي قضيتُنا المركزيّة في الصراع العربيّ الصُّهيونيّ.

«لا صلح لا تفاوض لا اعتراف»، المقاومة وُجِدت لتبقى «ما أخذ بالقوة لا يُستردّ بغير القوة»، الرئيس الراحل جمال عبد الناصر.

«لا شراكة مشرقيّة وعربيّة إلّا والمقاومةُ جوهرها»، الرئيس بشار الأسد.

نهضة الأمة وتوحيدُ الوطن العربي رهنٌ بوحدةٍ وطنيةٍ قوميةٍ أمميّة لمعسكر الشرفاء والكادحين من أحرارِ العالم، على مبدأ «نُصادِقُ مَن يُصادِقُنا ونُعادي مَن يُعادينا».

العنوان الثالث: ما العمل لإنقاذ لبنان ما هو علميّاً وعمليّاً مقترحنا الخلاصي؟

«إنّ ابتكار خطة وطنية لكسر الحصار وللخروج من حلقة الاستنزاف والدمار، يوجبُ أمرين اثنين علميّاً وعمليّاً».

علميّاً: رؤية برنامجيّة سياسيّة اقتصاديّة اجتماعيّة إنتاجيّة وطنيّة.

عمليّاً: خطوات شجاعة عاجلة لإحياء قطاعات الإنتاج، والتحرُّر من الرَّيعيّة التّابعة، وبناءُ الشّراكات العربيّة والإقليميّة والدوليّة، التي تدعمُ إعادةَ بناءِ الاقتصاد الوطني، وتطويرُ موارد جديدة تُنعش الحركةَ الاقتصادية، وهذا يوجب خروج لبنان من الارتهان لأحادية الارتباط بالغرب الساعي الى الهيمنةِ والنّهبِ والسّلبِ والحلب. «والعملُ على اعتماد توجُّهات جديدة تحقِّق التوازنَ في البناء الاقتصادي، والخلاص من الريعية لردّ الاعتبار الى الصناعة والزراعة والصناعة السياحيّة وجميع فروع الإنتاج المعرفيّ، مما يُسهمُ في توسيعِ المجالاتِ الاقتصاديّة المجدية، والاعتمادُ على الشراكات المفيدة، وملاقاةِ الفرصِ، التي تمنعُ الاختناق في قبضة الهيمنة الغربية الاستعمارية. وقد أثبتت الكارثةُ، التي تعرّضت لها البلاد أنّ لنا في هذا الشرق دولاً شقيقة وصديقة، يمكن أن نستندَ الى الشراكة الوثيقة معها في المصالح والتوجُهات الاستقلالية بعلاقات متكافئة بعيدةٍ عن الأطماع والهيمنة والنهب، وقد قدّمت مساعدتِها لنا دون سؤال أو أيّ شكل من أشكال الاستثمار السياسي التملّقي الرخيص.

إنّ وضع حدًّ للنزف الخطير، الذي يعيشه اللبنانيون، ومنعَ الاختناقات المعيشيّة المتزايدة يستدعي التزامَ فكرةِ التحرُّر من الارتهان للغرب، وأقلُّه، الانتقال الى علاقات وشراكات متوازنة على أساس تكافؤ المصالح مع الشرق والغرب، والارتكاز على تنمية القطاعات الإنتاجية، وملاقاةُ فرصِ الشّراكة مع الجِوار القومي والإقليمي والشرقي على أساس المصالح المشتركة والمتكافئة. والبديل عن هذا الخيار ليس سوى المزيدِ من التسوُّلِ والاستدانة، وفي الاستدانة تبعيةٌ وإذلالٌ، وفي مطلق الأحوال لم تعد متاحة كالسابق، وباتت قرينةَ شروطٍ وإملاءاتٍ تخنقُ البلادَ مالياً واقتصادياً، وترهن إرادتَها السياسيّة للهيمنة الأجنبيّة».

أيُّها اللبنانيون: لماذا لا نُجاوِزُ اليأسَ والكآبةَ والاستسلام، ونبعثُ في نفوسنا والأذهان، آمالَنا والأحلام؟ لماذا لا نُزيحُ الغشاوةَ عن أعيننا، لنُحرِق بحرارةِ الشّمس نتنَ الفسادِ والعفن؟ لماذا القُصورُ في البَصرِ والبصيرةِ، فنُعادي مَن يصادِقَنا، ونُصادق مَن يُعادينا؟

أيها اللبنانيون: ألم يئنِ الأوانُ لإنقاذ لبنانَ ببناءِ دولةِ المواطنة؟ والتمسُّك بشُرعةِ حقوقِ الإنسان، والخياراتِ والثوابت الوطنية المنصوص عنها في وثيقة الوِفاق الوطنيّ الفقرة ب «لبنان عربيّ الهوية والانتماء. وفي الدُّستور اللبناني، الفقرة عينُها «لبنان عربيُّ الهويّة والانتماء»، (أحكام رئيسة).

أوَلم يئنِ الأوانُ بعدُ لنرفع في ساحات النّضال الجماهيري السلميّ شعارَ تطبيق الميثاقِ الوطني اللبناني، ووضع موضع التنفيذ الفوري المادة 95 من الدستور اللبناني بإلغاء الطائفية السياسية السمُّ الزعاف، الذي دسَّه الانتداب الفرنسي في دستور 1926. وتطبيق المادة 22 المعدّلة في دستور 1990 (مجلس نواب وطني لا طائفي ومجلس شيوخ تتمثّل فيه العائلات الرّوحية وتنحصرُ صلاحياتُه في القضايا المصيريّة، لا سيما في الأحوال الشخصية المادة 65 – بند 5) والمادة 27 (عضو مجلس النواب يمثّل الأمة جمعاء). (ما يستوجب الدائرة الوطنية الواحدة) وسواها من الإصلاحات.

أيها اللبنانيون: فلندفع بوعينا لتقوية النّفوس وإلغاء النصوص، وتحرير العقول من أوهام سلطان الهيمنة والارتهان، فدربُ النّضال شاقٌّ وطويل لاستكمال التحرّر والتحرير من عَوزٍ واحتلال، ولْنَدفع بمسار الإصلاح والتغيير، ومحاربة الفساد، ومعاقبة المفسدين بتطبيق الدستور والقوانين، وليكن مسارُ النضال الجماهيري سلميّاً، لا سيّما أنّ الجيشَ وقوى الأمن هم أهلنا بالبزّة العسكرية، وحَذارِ من المندسّين والإعلام التضليلي المأجور، وجمعيات الأنجوز» المشبوهة المموّلة بشعاراتِ الحريّة المزيّفة والديمقراطية!

وحَتَّامَ الانتظار لاسترداد المنهوبِ من أموالِ الشعب، وتطبيق قانون من أين لك هذا، وقانون العقوبات بمحاربة الفساد والاقتصاص من المفسدين والقتَلة والخونة المتعاملين جَهاراً نهاراً مع العدو الصُّهيوني، وليلاً في العتمةِ مع الموساد. فهل يندرجُ ذلك في بابِ حرية الرأي أو حرية التعبير عن وجهة نظر؟. وهل ثمةَ حياديّةٌ في الصراع الدائر بين الحقّ والباطل؟

وهل الحدودُ الجغرافية فواصلُ عنصرية تُسقط عن الشرفاء والأحرار المسؤولية والقيمَ الإنسانية. «وإذا قلتم فاعدلوا ولو كان ذا قربى». «فلبــنان جمــهورية تعــدُّدِيّــة». قائمٌ نظامُها السياسي على الطائفيّة والمذهبيّة، فهل نقيم على بعضنا البعض الحواجز والمتاريس، ونحفرُ الخنادقَ، ونبني بيننا الجدران؟

أيها اللبنانيون

لا تجعلوا «نعمةَ التّعدُّدِيّة»، «نِقمةً فتنويّة»…

لماذا تعرفون الحقَّ فتتجنَّبونَه… وتُدرِكونَ الباطل فتجتلِبونَه؟ فلْنَعقِل ونرفع رايةَ الوَحدةِ الوطنيّة.. ولْنوئِدِ الفِتنة، فالفتنةُ أشدُّ من القتل… ولْتكن المعاملةُ بالِمثل، «فنعادي مَن يُعادينا… ونُصادِقُ مَن يصادِقُنا» أُمَمِيّاً، صوناً للسّلمِ الأهليّ وحبّاً بلبنانَ حُرّاً سيِّداً قويّاً على صورةِ أحلامِ أطفالِنا والشّهداء. ولْيكُن نضالُنا معاً من أجلِ الأجيال المقبِلة، لا من أجل الانتخابات المُقبِلة أو المُبكِرة، بل من أجل أن نحيا بعزَّةٍ في دولةِ القانون والمؤسسات، تساوي بالجَدارة والنّزاهة والأخلاق، ما يساوي القيِّمون عليها: دولة تُسمّى «دولةَ المواطنة والإنسان»، دولةَ العدلِ والمساواة، والحريةِ ونُصرةِ المظلومينَ والكادحينَ في نضالِهم والبؤساء، عسانا نتفكّرُ ونَعِي كمواطنينَ مسؤولين، حقوقَنا كلَّها وفرائضَ الواجبات…

أفــلا نــعــقِلُ ونتــوكّلُ… ونُلــبّي النِّــداء؟

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وزير ونائب سابق، الأمين العام لرابطة الشغيلة

Free Georges Abdallah: Lebanese confront Macron in Beirut

Source

The majority of the text below is republished from the original French at Collectif Palestine Vaincra. Collectif Palestine Vaincra is a member of the Samidoun Network based in Toulouse, France: 

Protest in Lannemezan, France, to free Georges Abdallah

amidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses its deepest solidarity with the people of Beirut and all of Lebanon after the devastating explosion on Tuesday, 4 August, which has left at least 137 dead, dozens missing and 5,000 injured, as well as hundreds of thousands of people homeless.

It also struck a sharp economic blow, destroying critical resources such as Beirut’s grain silos and the Beirut port, critical to Lebanese trade. This comes atop the existing economic crisis, exacerbated and developed by U.S. imperialism and its sanctions and financial policies, leaving the most marginalized sectors, including Palestinian refugees, migrant workers, and the almost 50% of Lebanese living in poverty. Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation – which occupied Southern Lebanon until defeated in 2000 and has launched multiple, violent wars continues to threaten Lebanon, its people and its resistance with destruction while regularly violating Lebanese airspace with drones.

Meanwhile, imperialist powers, while continuing to impose sanctions on Lebanon, as well as neighboring Syria, that are contributing significantly to the financial crisis, have been eager to draw a potential profit from the devastation in Lebanon.

Visiting Beirut on Thursday, 6 August, French President Emmanuel Macron claimed that he was present to bring humanitarian aid to Lebanon, already in the throes of an economic and social catastrophe. However, the arrival of the French president was not smooth. Many Lebanese journalists and activists denounced the neocolonial hypocrisy demonstrated by Macron, emphasizing that his objective is to impose “structural reforms” on the country according to the requirements of the International Monetary Fund.

Perhaps the clearest example of Macron’s duplicity is the continued imprisonment by France of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, imprisoned by the French state since 1984 and eligible for release since 1999. The Lebanese government has officially requested his release and repatriation, yet he continues to be held hostage while calls for his release mount, especially in France and Lebanon.

Lebanese intellectual Samah Idriss noted, “we want the release of Georges Abdallah before all of your ‘aid’ and promises!

برسم “الضيف” ماكرون، وبرسم كلّ مَن يلتقونه من اللبنانيين: نريد جورج إبراهيم عبد الله فورًا. قبل كلّ “مساعداتكم” ووعودكم

Indeed, Macron’s visits to the streets of Gemmayzeh in the devastated Lebanese capital was repeatedly greeted with calls of “Freedom for Georges Abdallah” by youth who refuse to be treated as colonial subjects once again by France, reject the complicity of many Lebanese politicians and see Georges Abdallah as a symbol of Arab and anti-imperialist dignity, resilience and resistance.

Mobilizations continue to demand the release of this Lebanese Arab resistance fighter for the Palestinian cause, and building solidarity with Georges Abdallah is critical! Beyond simply an individual case, Georges Abdallah embodies an alternative to French colonialism and corrupt politicians that serve imperialist interests, a truly free Lebanon.

Belarus: Why Is Lukshenko Being Color Revolutioned Just Now?

By F. William Engdahl

Global Research, August 21, 2020

The globalist Powers That Be have clearly decided to topple the long-standing sole-ruler of Belarus, President Aleksander Lukashenko. The question is why at just this time? There is a case to be made that one reason is he is being destroyed for his unforgivable coronavirus defiance. In any case Belarus is being hit with a full force West-led Color Revolution. The protests over the August 9 election show every sign of the usual Color Revolution destabilization protests, manufactured by the usual Western NGOs, as well as private contractors using social media to steer the protests.

Under Lukashenko’s regime, the country defied WHO and the global coronavirus lockdown demands. He refused to order lockdown of his citizens or the economy. As of August 13 the country had recorded a total of 617 covid19 related deaths. Belarus stood together with Sweden and the US State of South Dakota as one of the very few places in the world to successfully disprove the bizarre and dangerous WHO demands for a global lockdown to control the pandemic. Belarus ordered no lockdown so most industry continued. Schools remained open other than a 3 week closing during Easter. There were no mask requirements, though volunteer groups distributed masks to some and in June the EU sent a shipment of PPE including masks to Health officials for distribution. Football and the May 9 Victory parade went as normal. And now the country stands as an example the WHO and friends do not want.

One very important point is that the Health Ministry ignored the very flawed WHO recommendations on loosely classifying deaths as Covid19 when only a “suspicion” is there. The basis for the Belarus pathologists to state the cause of death from coronavirus is the presence of a patho-morphological picture with laboratory confirmation of Covid-19.i

This all did not sit well with the globalist Powers That Be. The manifestly corrupt WHO, whose main private donor is the Gates Foundation, criticized Lukashenko’s government for lack of quarantine and in June, when announcing it would grant Belarus a $940 million loan, the IMF said it was conditional on the country imposing quarantine, isolation and closed borders, demands Lukashenko rejected as “nonsense.” He noted in a widely-quoted statement, “the IMF continues to demand from us quarantine measures, isolation, a curfew. This is nonsense. We will not dance to anyone’s tune.”

Color Revolution Begins

Clearly NATO and the Western globalist circles have been working on toppling Lukashenko well before the covid19 events. That coronavirus defiance may only have helped galvanize events. The West and its “democracy” NGOs have long had Lukashenko in their targets. During the Bush Administration in 2008 US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denounced Lukashenko as Europe’s “last dictator.” After that, Russia created the Eurasian Economic Union along with Kazakhstan and Belarus as members. Until now Lukashenko has refused Putin’s proposal to merge with Russia in one large Union State. That may soon change.

The protests broke out in Belarus after elections on August 9 gave Lukashenko some 80% of the vote against his last-minute opposition candidate, the ‘western’ candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Those protests are being run using the same model that the CIA and its various “democracy” NGOs, led by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) developed in Serbia, Ukraine, Russia and numerous other states whose leaders refused to bow to the globalist dictates. A co-founder of the NED, Allen Weinstein, declared in the Washington Post in 1991, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” The NED gets its financing from the US government, but poses around the world as a “private” democracy-promoting NGO, where it was instrumental in most every Washington-backed regime change destabilizations since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

In 2019, the NED listed on its website some 34 NED project grants in Belarus. All of them were directed to nurture and train an anti-Lukashenko series of opposition groups and domestic NGOs. The grants went for such projects as, “NGO Strengthening: To increase local and regional civic engagement… to identify local problems and develop advocacy strategies.” Another was to “expand an online depository of publications not readily accessible in the country, including works on politics, civil society, history, human rights, and independent culture.” Then another NED grant went, “To defend and support independent journalists and media.” And another, “NGO Strengthening: To foster youth civic engagement.” Another large NED grant went to, “training democratic parties and movements in effective advocacy campaigns.”ii Behind the innocent-sounding NED projects is a pattern of creating a specially-trained opposition on the lines of the CIA’s NED model.

Belarus Kicks Off Large-scale Military Drills Near Poland, Lithuania

The Murky Nexta

A key role in coordinating the “spontaneous” protests was played by a Warsaw-based texting and video channel called “Nexta,” based on the Telegram messaging app. Nexta, which is Belarusian for “somebody,” is nominally headed by a 22-year old Belarus exile based in Poland named Stepan Putila. With the Belarus Internet shut by the government since days, Nexta, operating from Poland, has posted numerous citizen videos of protest and police crackdown and claims now to have 2 million followers. It quickly became the heart of the Color Revolution once Belarus shut its Internet access.

Stepan Putila is also known under the moniker Stepan Svetlov. Putila previously worked for the Warsaw-based Belsat channel which broadcasts propaganda into Belarus and is funded by the Polish Foreign Ministry and USAID. The co-founder and Editor in Chief at Nexta since March, 2020 is a Belarus exile named Roman Protasevich who used to work for the US Government’s propaganda media, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Protasevich also worked for the Polish-based Euroradio which is partly funded by USAID. He was active in the CIA’s 2013-14 Maidan Square demonstrations in Kiev and according to his Facebook likes is close to Ukrainian neo-nazi Pahonia Detachment. In April 2018, Protasevich ends up at the US State Department in Washington, a notable contact. On his Facebook then he noted, “The most important week in my life begins.” The same day he posted a picture of himself inside the US State Department, stating “Never had so many important and interesting encounters in my life.”iii After he left Washington he went to work for the USAID-funded radio in Belarus Euroradio.fm on August 31, 2018. Two years later Protasevich is coordinating the anti-Lukashenko events from Warsaw via Nexta. Coincidence?

Nexta which uses the London-registered Telegram, and is in NATO-member Poland, outside the country, so far has eluded shutdown. Nexta has been sending out, via social media, such information as plans for protests, at what time and where to gather for a rally, when to start a strike, where police are assembled and so on. Nexta has also circulated texts of protesters’ demands, updates about arrests, locations of arrests by riot police, and contacts for lawyers and human rights defenders as well as maps showing where police are located and addresses for protesters to hide in.

It has also advised subscribers how to bypass internet blocking by using proxies and other means. As Maxim Edwards, a pro-opposition British journalist at Global Voices, describes Nexta, “It is clear that the channel does not merely report on the protests, but has played a substantial role in organising them.”iv

No doubt such coordination from abroad would not be possible unless Nexta had some very sophisticated assistance from certain intelligence services. Nexta claims it depends on “donations” and ads for funding, but claims to get no “grants” from governments or foundations. Whether true or not, it is an answer that gives little clarity. Is USAID one of their “donors” or the Open Society Foundations? The relevant point is that Nexta uses cyber technology that Belarus is not able to shut down. In 2018 the Russian governments unsuccessfully tried to ban Telegram for refusing to reveal their source codes.

Global Stakes

The opposition political candidates to Lukashenko is also surprisingly clever in tactics, suggesting they are being guided by professionals. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya the alleged “political novice” who stepped in when her husband was arrested and forbidden to run, claims she won the election based on exit pollers. On August 14 Tikhanovskaya announced that she was forming a “coordination council” to secure a peaceful transfer of power. It echoed the earlier call by another opposition candidate, Valery Tsepkalo, a former Belarus Ambassador to Washington who, like Tikhanovskaya’s husband Sergei Tikhanovsky, was barred from running for president. Tsepkalo called it a “national salvation front.”

Though Belarus is a small country of less than 10 million, the stakes of this destabilization effort of the West are enormous. In 2014 the Obama CIA head John Brennan led a US-backed coup d’etat in Ukraine to prevent Ukraine joining Russia’s economic union. That coup has not given Ukraine anything positive. Instead it has resulted in rule but by other corrupt oligarchs, but friendly with Washington, especially under Obama.

The NED tried in 2018 to destabilize Armenia, another part of the Russian Eurasian Economic Union. Were they now to break off Belarus, the military and political consequences for Russia could be severe. Whether or not the Lukashenko defiance of the WHO coronavirus dictates had a role in the timing of the ongoing Minsk Color Revolution attempt, clearly some powers that be in the West, including the EU and Washington would love to collapse Belarus as they did in Ukraine six years ago. If they succeed we can be sure they will be emboldened to try Russia after.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on the author’s blog site, williamengdahl.com.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. 

Notes

Natalya Grigoryeva, How Belarus Ignored the WHO and Beat Coronavirus, FRN, June 21, 2020, https://fort-russ.com/2020/06/covid-19-psychosis-defeated-how-belarus-ignored-the-who-and-beat-coronavirus/

NED, Belarus 2019, https://www.ned.org/region/central-and-eastern-europe/belarus-2019/

Anonymous, Roman Protasevich, August 17, 2020, https://www.foiaresearch.net/person/roman-protasevich

Maxim Edwards, How one Telegram channel became central to Belarus protests, August 19, 2020, https://radioeonline.com/2020/08/19/how-one-telegram-channel-became-central-to-belarus-protests/

Featured image:  Protest rally against Lukashenko, 16 August. Minsk, Belarus License: The Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license Under Some Conditions https://bit.ly/325WwSw


seeds_2.jpg

Seeds of Destruction: Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation

Author Name: F. William EngdahlISBN Number: 978-0-937147-2-2Year: 2007Pages: 341 pages with complete index

List Price: $25.95

Special Price: $18.00

This skilfully researched book focuses on how a small socio-political American elite seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival: the provision of our daily bread. “Control the food and you control the people.”

This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO. Engdahl takes the reader inside the corridors of power, into the backrooms of the science labs, behind closed doors in the corporate boardrooms.

The author cogently reveals a diabolical world of profit-driven political intrigue, government corruption and coercion, where genetic manipulation and the patenting of life forms are used to gain worldwide control over food production. If the book often reads as a crime story, that should come as no surprise. For that is what it is.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © F. William Engdahl, Global Research, 2020

In Defence of Sovereignty

August 18, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

In Defence of Sovereignty

For the benefit of Frau Merkel & Nordstream-2

No sovereignty = No democracy: If a State is subordinate to another State or group of states it is no longer sovereign. That is to say if it ceases to exercise control over its vital policies, economic, political, social and cultural. Moreover it follows that if it is not sovereign it cannot be democratic since the key policies it might wish to enact and carry out are decided elsewhere.

The increasingly unbalanced assessment regarding the UK’s eventual exit from membership of the EU (if indeed it ever really happens) seems predicated on a series of fixed, cliché-ridden political positions which haven’t changed since the whole issue became live. The great national ‘debate’ seems to be an emotionally charged affair with little attention to facts and more focused upon personalities and taken-for-granted assumptions of the ‘everybody knows’ type. This presumably is post-modern politics I suppose. But at the heart of the debate is the issue of sovereignty.

Let us firstly consider the international economic issues involved according to the conventional wisdom of the hyper-globalists. It is argued that both nation states and the whole concept of national sovereignty is now defunct. Their reasoning is based upon the following premises. 1. Most products have developed a very complex geography – with parts made in different countries and then assembled somewhere else, in which case labels of origin begin to lose their meaning. 2. Markets when left unfettered will arrive at optimal price, allocative, and productive efficiency. 3.This means that capital, commodities and labour should be free to move around the globe without let or hindrance to achieve these goals. 4. Any barriers to this process – capital controls, trade unions, exchange rate controls, welfare expenditures, minimum wage legislation, wages and even public goods – will give rise to price and allocative distortions. Q.E.D. Apart from point 1., the rest of these claims are in fact highly contestable and could easily be shredded by reference to historical experience and empirical testing, but hey, if the theoretical paradigm is sound who cares about historical experience and empirical testing.

Such globalization has come to be seen and defined by its proponents as the ‘natural order’ of things, almost a force of nature. This, it is further argued, will be an inexorable process of increasing geographical spread and functional integration between economic and political activities. This current orthodoxy goes by various names, Washington Consensus, Market Liberalisation, Neo-liberalism, Globalism and so on and so forth. In fact, there is nothing ‘natural’ about this stage of historical development since the whole phenomenon has been politically driven. From the outset there has been a coalition of globalist oligarchs, technocrats and heads of state et.al working through global institutions the IMF, World Bank, BIS, WTO, NATO, the EU, CIA – the list is extensive. They control the economic, political and military superstructures which form the ruling global system and constitute the vanguard of the whole process.

Turning to the EU as the regional prototype for the globalization, anti-state project, it was Patrick Buchanan, an American conservative who once correctly stated in ‘The American Conservative’ that the US Congress ‘‘is an Israeli occupied zone’’ by which he meant of course that Israel and the Israeli Lobby, both external and internal, has had a huge input into the framing and operation of US foreign policy. In a similar vein the EU is also occupied territory under the occupation and control of US imperialism. (This process of blatant meddling in European affairs by the US-CIA started with Operation Gladio in the late 1940s at about the same time as Operation Mockingbird and Operation Paperclip.) However, the perceived enemy was not merely Soviet communism, but also sotto voce, European social and political theory and practice, namely, Gaullism and social-democracy. These latter political groupings have long since been politically cleansed with the EU being reconfigured as neo-liberal, and, since the alignment of the EU security structures with NATO, as neo-conservative vassal states overseen and represented by odious little Petainist/Quisling occupation regimes. This is only too apparent when the fawning behaviours of Johnson, Macron and Merkel vis-à-vis the US are observed. Whenever the US master says jump, the Europeans will reply ‘how high’ And this is even more pronounced by the newly arrived Eastern European states. A group which Dick Cheney once described as the ‘new Europe.’ By which he meant the political force which was operationalised to fundamentally change the political direction of the EU in the late 20th century. Euro-widening was meant to prevent euro-deepening, and it worked a treat.

Perhaps the most salient (and bogus) claim deployed by the pro-Globalization camp is the use of the time-honoured TINA ‘there-is-no-alternative’ Varoufakis approach. This is invariably deployed to shut-down any genuine discussion. Of course it was Mrs Thatcher who pioneered this method of political discourse, with, it should be added, considerable success. Reading the editorials in the ‘leftist’ publications, I couldn’t help being reminded of those little Thatcherite homilies trotted out by the Tory press during the Thatcher ascendency.

But now, not to be outdone, the centre-left has taken upon itself the mantle of ‘progress’ and ‘modernity’ providing the ideological rationale for the globalist tendency. This has involved a 180 degree turn and is apparently using the same language and political orientation as the Globalists. Try this one on: ‘’Nations are increasingly irrelevant when it comes to effective action on the environment and social and immigration policies …’’ This was taken from a centre-left publication. Yep, distilled, undiluted globalization – TINA. That could have been George Soros speaking. As if sovereign nations could not pool their resources, enter into bi-lateral agreements, engage in trade and diplomacy, enter into negotiations with others precisely to confront common issues such as the aforementioned environmental, immigration and social issues.

But in this ‘stateless’ or seemingly becoming ‘stateless’ world I do feel obliged to point out that the United States as a nation is sovereign and has every intention of remaining so. Contrary to the globalist patter, however, this super-state shapes and formulates both economic and foreign policy for itself and its vassal states in Europe and East Asia, but of course these vassal states are not fully sovereign and are subject to the rule of the one that is – the USA. The reality we have in the EU consists not of a unified assemblage of sovereign states but a de facto occupied zone of a political, economic and military empire, under both US aegis and control.

As the late Egyptian Marxist, Samir Amin, put it:

‘’Conceived of at the end of WW2 the ‘European Project’ was born as the European part of the Atlanticist project of the United States, much in the spirit of the first Cold War initiated by Washington and given voice by Churchill’s speech in Fulton Missouri in 1946 in which he intoned. “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”  This has been a project which the European bourgeoisies – at that time weak and afraid of their own working classes – adhered to practically without conditions. This is still largely true, as seen in the choices put into effect by the ruling classes and political forces of the right and majority left, at least in certain European countries, above all in Great Britain, where it has been done clearly and ostentatiously. In other countries there is perhaps a small piece of hesitation, whilst in Eastern Europe the process is managed by political classes formed in the culture of servility … There is no longer, at present, a European project … A North Atlantic project under American command has replaced it

Thus the European ‘project’ is not moving – or not moving fast enough, or not moving at all – in the direction that is needed to bring Washington to its senses. Indeed it remains a basically ‘non-European’ project, scarcely more than a European part of the American project. The European’s Constitution is for a Europe which is settling – has settled ? – its dual and Atlanticist option. Hence the potential contained in the clash of political cultures, which could theoretically lead to an end of Atlanticism which remains mortgaged to social-liberalism of the majority sections of the left (electorally speaking, the European socialist parties). But social-liberalism is a contradiction in terms, since liberalism is by its nature non-social or even anti-social … a stable and generally multipolar world will be socialist or it will not exist at all. (2)

Inter-governmental policy is perfectly possible, however, without the surrender of national sovereignty to an imperial hegemon. However, If the European Vichy regimes choose to accept the imposition of US policy imperatives that is their choice – a political choice, not an iron law of political development.

The fact is that nation states unquestionably remain the most significant force in shaping the world economy – this in spite of the hyper-globalist rhetoric coming from the Bilderbergers and neo-liberal/Washington consensus proponents. The nation state has always played a fundamental role in the economic development of all countries and indeed in the process of globalization itself. In fact, the more powerful states have used globalization as a means of increasing their power vis-à-vis the weaker states. The US and the G7 design and establish, international trade agreements, organizations, and legislations that support and govern trans-border investments, production networks, and market penetration, constitutive of contemporary economic globalization. Advanced capitalist states, in particular, use these political instruments to shape international decision making and policy in their own interests.(3)

A contemporary example of this is the US – qua sovereign hegemon – forcing policies, such as membership of NATO, down the throats of their (apparently willing) ‘allies’ (read vassals) and ‘partners’ in order to carry out the US’s geopolitical policies by mobilizing their Quisling regimes in both Europe (particularly Eastern Europe) for possible conflict with Russia, China and Iran (which are de facto sovereign states). It can be seen that the sovereignty of Europe is limited by the Transatlantic hegemon to the extent that Europe lacks both military, political and key areas of economic decision making to individual European G7 states. The fact that these semi-sovereign euro states are forced – as is everyone else – to use the US$ as the global currency means they do not really control their own economies. Let us assume for the sake of argument that Sweden has a trading surplus with the US; this means that it is exporting more than it is importing in terms of US goods. This means that the Swedish currency – the Krona – will appreciate against the US$. But the Swedish government may not want its currency to appreciate by being palmed off with US Treasuries which will never be redeemed. In order therefore to stop its own currency appreciating against the dollar it will have to buy US dollars or dollar denominated assets, (usually Treasury Bills) to keep its own currency at a lower exchange rate to the dollar. This results in an appreciating dollar which means the US can buy more stuff on world markets without producing any additional goods and services! Great deal if you can get it! Moreover by accepting the US$ and Treasuries as a means of payment for goods produced in Europe these semi-peripheral states are on the wrong end of what the French politician Valery Giscard D’Estaing once termed an ‘exorbitant privilege’. Such is the position of sovereign states, semi-sovereign states, and non-sovereign states.

In geopolitical terms it should be understood that the abasement of Europe to American interests is frankly abject. Europe has become a forward base for the Pentagon, military industrial complex, and neo-con infested State Department to play their war games against Russia and latterly against China. If there is a war with Russia, please note it is intended to be carried out on European soil not American.

In terms of present and future membership not only was the admission of the Eastern European periphery a massive error for individual European states, but future membership bodes even worse for the EU ‘project’. Turkey is not only authoritarian, a US proxy and a member of NATO, which is bad enough, but it also funds and arms our most inveterate enemies, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Jabhat Al Nusra, and various other jihadist alphabet soup grouplets. This same state was at that time mooted for membership of the EU by both the UK and Germany. Moreover, future candidates for EU/NATO status include Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. None of these states could be considered to be even remotely sovereign and/or democratic and generally are totally and openly corrupt. It is all part of the long march toward Russia’s western frontier by NATO/EU, a process begun by Clinton (Mr) in the 1990s. But apparently this is of no consequence to the contemporary ‘left’ which doesn’t seem unduly worried by these developments.

As for the EU/NATO, do we really want to belong to an organization who has these people as members/applicants? It’s a bit like Groucho Marx’s famous witticism – ‘’I wouldn’t want to belong to a club which would have me as a member.’’ More important in this respect does the EU/NATO even allow us a choice in the matter?

One final point. Okay it is argued that if we – the UK – leave the EU the roof falls in, of course that is a complete non sequitur, but let’s run with it for a moment. Membership is therefore imperative! Really?

Well in 1946 due to costs of the WW2 the UK was flat broke. Lord Keynes was despatched to Washington and negotiated a loan from the Americans. Of course there were strings, or in IMF/World Bankspeak, ‘conditionalities.’ 1. Britain had to end the system of imperial preference of intra-empire trading, mainly because the Americans wanted to get into this lucrative market. 2. The British empire had to be wound up, and the Americans would then carry the baton for the Anglo-Zionist empire, with all the costs but mostly advantages that accrued from this position. The UK’s long retreat from East of Suez began with Indian independence in 1947 and continued well into the 1960s.

The roof did not fall in, however, Britain, in spite of continuing imperial delusions of grandeur, adjusted to its new position in the world. There was, after all, an alternative to imperial nostalgia, maybe it never quite worked out as planned, but it happened, nonetheless.

Thus the TINA hypothesis is basically invalid. There are – pace the globalist dogma – always alternatives, you may not like them, but to deny their existence is neither a serious nor honest position to take.

NOTES

(1) Samir Amin – The Liberal Virus – p.86 p.89.

(2) Samir Amin – Beyond US Hegemony – p.148.

(3) Peter Dicken – Global Shift – The State Really Does Matter, Chapter 6

Opportunities still exist to rebuild Lebanon: retired general

By Mohammad Mazhari

August 12, 2020 – 18:30

TEHRAN – A retired Lebanese brigadier general says there is still the opportunity to make the required reforms to restore confidence and ability in Lebanon by learning from mistakes and rise again from the ashes.

Lebanon’s prime minister announced his government’s resignation late on Monday. The resignation followed a huge explosion in downtown Beirut on August 4 that triggered public outrage amid endemic corruption.
“The solution is the unity of people in the country over one goal, which is to preserve civil peace and restore the trust of the whole world in the ability of the Lebanese to overcome difficulties,” Baha Hallal tells the Tehran Times.
The text of the interview with Baha Hallal is as follows:

Q: What are the next scenarios in the aftermath of the resignation of the Diab government? 

A: After August 4, it is not the same as before. Beirut, before August 4, was a glorious city on the Mediterranean coast. After the blast, the city was ruined and lost its prosperity. This is an event that will create a new phase. Here we are facing one of two scenarios:
First, respond to the visit of the French president; it is expected that President Aoun to immediately conduct parliamentary consultations to name a new prime minister who will be internationally and domestically acceptable to head a national unity government. In this scenario, the new government should begin serious work with Western countries and the International Monetary Fund to take the necessary actions to save Lebanon. In this context, the visit by David Hill (the United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs) implies the same direction as the visit by Macron.

In the second scenario, after parliamentary resignations amid uproar over the Beirut blast, which has led to violent actions, it will be difficult to choose a consensual personality between the Lebanese parties, as the gap widens between the rival March 8 and March 14 blocs. 

However, a caretaker government will be incomplete due to the resignation of some of the ministers and protests with a new characteristic, as the August version differs from the October version, given the violent path that it is going to take.

Some parties express their political opposition by inciting people to pour into the street, which may push the country towards civil strife if it continues in this manner. Moreover, the caretaker phase will last longer in the shadow of a burning street.

Given the declaration of a state of emergency in Beirut for a period of two weeks, while the army is carrying out its tasks at all levels, the question is that will the country will resort to a military government to manage a transitional phase?

Q: How do you see the role of foreign interference in the resignation of government?

A: Some foreign countries have a fundamental role as the French president’s visit marginalized Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab.  Macron said that he is not here to support the government, but he did not urge it to resign. I think that some of the parties supporting the government abandoned it at a critical moment.

There are parties influenced by Macron’s visit, which led to resignations in the parliament, followed by resignations of the government.

The next foreign interference, I think, is not like 2005, rather it will show itself as a protective umbrella.

Q: Do you think that Lebanon as a state has collapsed or failed? Is there a way out of the crisis?

A: No, I do not see Lebanon as a collapsed and failed state. We are undoubtedly suffering harshly of successive economic and financial, as well as political and even health crises (Coronavirus).

However, the opportunity still remains to make the required reforms to restore confidence and ability by learning from mistakes and rise again from the ashes.

The solution is the unity of people in the country over one goal, which is to preserve civil peace and restore the trust of the whole world in the ability of the Lebanese to overcome difficulties, by undertaking the required reforms to fight corruption.

The new government should be capable of dealing with urgent problems while preserving the country’s dignity and sovereignty.

Q: Do you expect chaos in the next phase in Lebanon, which may pave the way for the formation of a military government?

A: I do not believe that chaos on the street will lead to a military government. But I think that one of the proposed solutions is to form a government that includes military members whose mission is to calm the street and restore the citizen’s trust in the state through effective accountability. To make this process a transitional phase, we need a dialogue between the country’s different groups, with the addition of representatives of the protestors within this dialogue framework to create a new political consensus instead of generating successive crises.

Q: Do you think that the internationalization of the issue of the Beirut explosion will help Lebanon to overcome the current crisis? 

A: Internationalization is a far-fetched matter and is not at least seriously discussed at the official levels. But if you mean international demands to play a role in this issue, I do not see any regional, Arab, or international enthusiasm for internationalization of the case. The conditions today are completely different from 2005 when Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafic Hariri was killed in a bomb attack.

The internationalization of cases would not help Lebanon and its citizens, with what they hope for dialogue inside the country, to create realistic and constitutional opportunities for their children to live in dignity and freedom within the eternal homeland. It is noteworthy to remember that the international investigation of the Rafic al-Hariri case has lasted for a period of 15 years, without a final result.

Internationalization requires a consensus between the Lebanese constitutional mechanisms that are not available today, not to mention the international and regional conditions.
 

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Battleground Beirut: Western colony or back to the East?

Battleground Beirut: Western colony or back to the East?

August 12, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – republished from Asia Times by permission of author

As much as Covid-19 has been instrumentalized by the 0.001% to social engineer a Great Reset, the Beirut tragedy is already being instrumentalized by the usual suspects to keep Lebanon enslaved.

Facing oh so timely color revolution-style “protests”, the current Lebanese government led by Prime Minister Diab has already resigned. Even before the port tragedy, Beirut had requested a $10 billion line of credit from the IMF – denied as long as trademark, neoliberal Washington consensus “reforms” were not implemented: radical slashing of public expenses, mass layoffs, across the board privatization.

Post-tragedy, President Emmanuel Macron – who’s not even capable of establishing a dialogue with the Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests in France – has opportunistically jumped in full neocolonial mode to pose as “savior” of Lebanon, as long as the same “reforms”, of course, are implemented.

On Sunday, France and the UN organized a videoconference to coordinate donor response – in conjunction with the European Commission (EC), the IMF and the World Bank. The result was not exactly brilliant: a paltry 252 million euros were pledged – once again conditioned by “institutional reforms”.

France came up with 30 million euros, Kuwait with 40 million, Qatar with 50 million and the EC with 68 million. Crucially, neither Russia nor Iran were among the donors. The US – which is harshly sanctioning Lebanon – and GCC allies Saudi Arabia and UAE pledged nothing. China had just a pro forma presence.

In parallel, Maronite Christians in Brazil – a very powerful community – are sending funds for the color revolution protests. Former President Michel Temer and industrialist tycoon Paulo Skaf even flew to Beirut. Former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel (1982-1988) maintained a lot of businesses in Brazil with funds he skimmed when in power.

All of the above points to neoliberalism taking no prisoners when it comes to keeping its deadly grip on Lebanon.

The Hariri model

Lebanon’s profound economic crisis, now aggravated by the Beirut port blast, has nothing to do with Covid-19 or the US proxy war on Syria – which brought a million refugees to the nation. It’s all about proverbial neoliberal shock and awe, conducted non-stop by the Hariri clan: former Prime Ministers Rafiq, assassinated in 2011, and Saad, chased out of power last January.

The Hariri model was focused on real estate speculation and financialization. The Solidere group, controlled by Arab investors and a few Lebanese, Hariri included, destroyed Beirut’s historical downtown and rebuilt it with luxury real estate. That’s the classical rentier neoliberalism model that always profits a tiny elite.

In parallel, the Bank of Lebanon was attracting funds from the tony Lebanese diaspora and assorted Arab investors by practicing very generous interest rates. Lebanon suddenly had an artificially strong currency.

A small middle class sort of flourished throughout the 2000s, comprising import-export traders, the tourism sector and financial market operators. Yet, overall, inequality was the name of the game. According to the World Inequality Database, half of Lebanon’s population now holds less wealth that the top 0.1%.

The bubble finally burst in September last year, when I happened to be in Beirut. With no US dollars in circulation, the Lebanese pound started to collapse in the black market. The Bank of Lebanon went berserk. When the Hariri racket imposed a “Whatsapp tax” over calls, that led to massive protests in October. Capital embarked on free flight and the currency collapsed for good.

There’s absolutely no evidence the IMF, the World Bank and assorted Western/Arab “donors” will extricate a now devastated Lebanon from the neoliberal logic that plunged it into a systemic crisis in the first place.

The way out would be to focus in productive investments, away from finance and geared towards the practical necessities of an austerity-battered and completely impoverished population.

Yet Macron, the IMF and their “partners” are only interested in keeping monetary “stability”; seduce speculative foreign capital; make sure that the rapacious, Western-connected Lebanese oligarchy will get away with murder; and on top of it buy scores of Lebanese assets for peanuts.

BRI or bust

In stark contrast with the exploitative perpetuation of the Western neoliberal model, China is offering Lebanon the chance to Go East, and be part of the New Silk Roads.

In 2017, Lebanon signed to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

In 2018, Lebanon became the 87th member of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Over the past few years, Lebanon was already taking part in the internationalization of the yuan, offering bank accounts in yuan and increasing bilateral trade in yuan.

Beijing was already engaged in discussions revolving around the upgrading of Lebanese infrastructure – including the expansion of Beirut harbor.

This means that now Beijing may be in the position of offering a renewed, joint rebuilding/security deal for Beirut port – just as it was about to clinch a smaller agreement with Diab’s government, focused only on expansion and renovation.

The bottom line is that China has an actual Plan A to extricate Lebanon from its current financial dead end.

And that’s exactly what was, and remains, total anathema to US, NATO and Israel’s interests.

The Trump administration recently went no holds barred to prevent Israel from having China develop the port of Haifa.

The same “offer you can’t refuse” tactics will be applied with full force on whoever leads the new Lebanese government.

Beirut is an absolutely key node in BRI’s geopolitical/geoeconomic connectivity of the Eastern Mediterranean. With Haifa temporarily out of the picture, Beirut grows in importance as a gateway to the EU, complementing the role of Pireus and Italian ports in the Adriatic.

It’s crucial to note that the port itself was not destroyed. The enormous crater on site replaces only a section quayside – and the rest is on water. The buildings destroyed can be rebuilt in record time. Reconstruction of the port is estimated at $15 billion – pocket money for an experienced company such as China Harbor.

Meanwhile, naval traffic is being redirected to Tripoli port, 80 km north of Beirut and only 30 km away from the Lebanon-Syria border. Its director, Ahmed Tamer, confirms “the port has witnessed during the past years the expansion work by Chinese companies, and it has received the largest ships from China, carrying a big number of containers”.

Add to it the fact that Tripoli port will also be essential in the process of Syria reconstruction – to which China is totally committed.

BRI’s Southwest Asia connectivity network is a maze including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

China is already planning to invest in highway and railroads, further to be developed into high-speed rail. That will connect BRI’s central China-Iran corridor – fresh from the $400 billion, 25-year strategic partnership deal soon to be signed – with the Eastern Mediterranean.

Add to it the role of the port of Tartus in Syria – bearing a strong Russian naval presence. Beijing will inevitably invest in the expansion of Tartus – which is crucially linked by highway to Lebanon. The Russia-China strategic partnership will be involved in the protection of Tartus with S-300 and S-400 missile systems.

Historically, in a larger axis that went from Samarkand to Cordoba, with strong nodes such as Baghdad and Damascus, what slowly evolved in this part of Eurasia was a syncretic civilization superimposed over an ancestral regional, rural and nomad background. The internal cohesion of the Muslim world was forged from the 7th century to the 11th century: that was the key factor that shaped the lineaments of a coherent Eurasia.

Apart from Islam, Arabic – the language of religion, administration, trade and culture – was an essential unifying factor. This evolving Muslim world was configured as a vast economic and cultural domain whose roots connected to Greek, Semitic, Persian, Indian and Arab thought. It was a marvelous synthesis that formed a unique civilization out of elements of different origin – Persian, Mesopotamian, Byzantine.

The Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean were of course part of it, totally open towards the Indian Ocean, the Caspian routes, Central Asia and China.

Now, centuries later, Lebanon should have everything to gain by ditching the “Paris of the Orient” mythology and looking East – again, thus positioning itself on the right side of History.

Who Profits from the Beirut Tragedy

by Pepe Escobar : Republished from Asia Times by permission of author

The narrative that the Beirut explosion was an exclusive consequence of negligence and corruption by the current Lebanese government is now set in stone, at least in the Atlanticist sphere.

And yet, digging deeper, we find that negligence and corruption may have been fully exploited, via sabotage, to engineer it.

Lebanon is prime John Le Carré territory. A multinational den of spies of all shades – House of Saud agents, Zionist operatives, “moderate rebel” weaponizers, Hezbollah intellectuals, debauched Arab “royalty,” self-glorified smugglers – in a context of full spectrum economic disaster afflicting a member of the Axis of Resistance, a perennial target of Israel alongside Syria and Iran.

As if this were not volcanic enough, into the tragedy stepped President Trump to muddy the – already contaminated – Eastern Mediterranean waters. Briefed by “our great generals,” Trump on Tuesday said: “According to them – they would know better than I would – but they seem to think it was an attack.”

Trump added, “it was a bomb of some kind.”

Was this incandescent remark letting the cat out of the bag by revealing classified information? Or was the President launching another non sequitur?

Trump eventually walked his comments back after the Pentagon declined to confirm his claim about what the “generals” had said and his defense secretary, Mark Esper, supported the accident explanation for the blast.

It’s yet another graphic illustration of the war engulfing the Beltway. Trump: attack. Pentagon: accident. “I don’t think anybody can say right now,” Trump said on Wednesday. “I’ve heard it both ways.”

Still, it’s worth noting a report by Iran’s Mehr News Agency that four US Navy reconnaissance planes were spotted near Beirut at the time of the blasts. Is US intel aware of what really happened all along the spectrum of possibilities?

That ammonium nitrate

Security at Beirut’s port – the nation’s prime economic hub – would have to be considered a top priority. But to adapt a line from Roman Polanski’s Chinatown: “Forget it, Jake. It’s Beirut.”

Those by now iconic 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate arrived in Beirut in September 2013 on board the Rhosus, a ship under Moldovan flag sailing from Batumi in Georgia to Mozambique. Rhosus ended up being impounded by Beirut’s Port State Control.

Subsequently the ship was de facto abandoned by its owner, shady businessman Igor Grechushkin, born in Russia and a resident of Cyprus, who suspiciously “lost interest” in his relatively precious cargo, not even trying to sell it, dumping style, to pay off his debts.

Grechushkin never paid his crew, who barely survived for several months before being repatriated on humanitarian grounds. The Cypriot government confirmed there was no request to Interpol from Lebanon to arrest him. The whole op feels like a cover – with the real recipients of the ammonium nitrate possibly being “moderate rebels” in Syria who use it to make IEDs and equip suicide trucks, such as the one that demolished the Al Kindi hospital in Aleppo.

The 2,750 tons – packed in 1-ton bags labeled “Nitroprill HD” – were transferred to the Hangar 12 warehouse by the quayside. What followed was an astonishing case of serial negligence.

From 2014 to 2017 letters from customs officials – a series of them – as well as proposed options to get rid of the dangerous cargo, exporting it or otherwise selling it, were simply ignored. Every time they tried to get a legal decision to dispose of the cargo, they got no answer from the Lebanese judiciary.

When Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab now proclaims, “Those responsible will pay the price,” context is absolutely essential.

Neither the prime minister nor the president nor any of the cabinet ministers knew that the ammonium nitrate was stored in Hangar 12, former Iranian diplomat Amir Mousavi, the director of the Center for Strategic Studies and International Relations in Tehran, confirms. We’re talking about a massive IED, placed mid-city.

The bureaucracy at Beirut’s port and the mafias who are actually in charge are closely linked to, among others, the al-Mostaqbal faction, which is led by former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, himself fully backed by the House of Saud.

The immensely corrupt Hariri was removed from power in October 2019 amid serious protests. His cronies “disappeared” at least $20 billion from Lebanon’s treasury – which seriously aggravated the nation’s currency crisis.

No wonder the current government – where we have Prime Minister Diab backed by Hezbollah – had not been informed about the ammonium nitrate.

Ammonium nitrate is quite stable, making it one of the safest explosives used in mining. Fire normally won’t set it off. It becomes highly explosive only if contaminated – for instance by oil – or heated to a point where it undergoes chemical changes that produce a sort of impermeable cocoon around it in which oxygen can build up to a dangerous level where an ignition can cause an explosion.

Why, after sleeping in Hangar 12 for seven years, did this pile suddenly feel an itch to explode?

So far, the prime straight to the point explanation, by Middle East expert Elijah Magnier, points to the tragedy being “sparked” – literally – by a clueless blacksmith with a blowtorch operating quite close to the unsecured ammonium nitrate. Unsecured due, once again, to negligence and corruption – or as part of an intentional “mistake” anticipating the possibility of a future blast.

This scenario, though, does not explain the initial “fireworks” explosion. And certainly does not explain what no one – at least in the West – is talking about: the deliberate fires set to an Iranian market in Ajam in the UAE, and also to a series of food/agricultural warehouses in Najaf, Iraq, immediately after the Beirut tragedy.

Follow the money

Lebanon – boasting assets and real estate worth trillions of dollars – is a juicy peach for global finance vultures. To grab these assets at rock bottom prices, in the middle of the New Great Depression, is simply irresistible. In parallel, the IMF vulture would embark on full shakedown mode and finally “forgive” some of Beirut’s debts as long as a harsh variation of “structural adjustment” is imposed.

Who profits, in this case, are the geopolitical and geoeconomic interests of US, Saudi Arabia and France. It’s no accident that President Macron, a dutiful Rothschildservant, arrived in Beirut Thursday to pledge Paris neocolonial “support” and all but impose, like a Viceroy, a comprehensive set of “reforms”.  A Monty Python-infused dialogue, complete with heavy French accent, might have followed along these lines: “We want to buy your port.” “It’s not for sale.” “Oh, what a pity, an accident just happened.”

Already a month ago the IMF was “warning” that “implosion” in Lebanon was “accelerating.” Prime Minister Diab had to accept the proverbial “offer you can’t refuse” and thus “unlock billions of dollars in donor funds.” Or else. The non-stop run on the Lebanese currency, for over a year now, was just a – relatively polite – warning.

This is happening amid a massive global asset grab characterized in the larger context by American GDP down by almost 40%, arrays of bankruptcies, a handful of billionaires amassing unbelievable profits and too-big-to-fail megabanks duly bailed out with a tsunami of free money.

Dag Detter, a Swedish financier, and Nasser Saidi, a former Lebanese minister and central bank vice governor, suggest that the nation’s assets be placed in a national wealth fund. Juicy assets include Electricité du Liban (EDL), water utilities, airports, the MEA airline, telecom company OGERO, the Casino du Liban.

EDL, for instance, is responsible for 30% of Beirut’s budget deficit.

That’s not nearly enough for the IMF and Western mega banks. They want to gobble up the whole thing, plus a lot of real estate.

“The economic value of public real estate can be worth at least as much as GDP and often several times the value of the operational part of any portfolio,” say Detter and Saidi.

Who’s feeling the shockwaves?

Once again, Israel is the proverbial elephant in a room now widely depicted by Western corporate media as “Lebanon’s Chernobyl.”

A scenario like the Beirut catastrophe has been linked to Israeli plans since February 2016.

Israel did admit that Hangar 12 was not a Hezbollah weapons storage unit. Yet, crucially, on the same day of the Beirut blast, and following a series of suspicious explosions in Iran and high tension in the Syria-Israeli border, Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted , in the present tense: “We hit a cell and now we hit the dispatchers. We will do what is necessary in order to defend ourselves. I suggest to all of them, including Hezbollah, to consider this.”

That ties in with the intent, openly proclaimed late last week, to bomb Lebanese infrastructure if Hezbollah harms Israeli Defense Forces soldiers or Israeli civilians.

headline – “Beirut Blast Shockwaves Will Be Felt by Hezbollah for a Long Time” – confirms that the only thing that matters for Tel Aviv is to profit from the tragedy to demonize Hezbollah, and by association, Iran. That ties in with the US Congress “Countering Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Military Act of 2019” {S.1886}, which all but orders Beirut to expel Hezbollah from Lebanon.

And yet Israel has been strangely subdued.

Muddying the waters even more, Saudi intel – which has access to Mossad, and demonizes Hezbollah way more than Israel – steps in. All the intel ops I talked to refuse to go on the record, considering the extreme sensitivity of the subject.

Still, it must be stressed that a Saudi intel source whose stock in trade is frequent information exchanges with the Mossad, asserts that the original target was Hezbollah missiles stored in Beirut’s port. His story is that Prime Minister Netanyahu was about to take credit for the strike – following up on his tweet. But then the Mossad realized the op had turned horribly wrong and metastasized into a major catastrophe.

The problem starts with the fact this was not a Hezbollah weapons depot – as even Israel admitted. When weapons depots are blown up, there’s a primary explosion followed by several smaller explosions, something that could last for days. That’s not what happened in Beirut. The initial explosion was followed by a massive second blast – almost certainly a major chemical explosion – and then there was silence.

Thierry Meyssan, very close to Syrian intel, advances the possibility that the “attack” was carried out with an unknown weapon, a missile -– and not a nuclear bomb – tested in Syria in January 2020. (The test is shown in an attached video.) Neither Syria nor Iran ever made a reference to this unknown weapon, and I got no confirmation about its existence.

Assuming Beirut port was hit by an “unknown weapon,” President Trump may have told the truth: It was an “attack”. And that would explain why Netanyahu, contemplating the devastation in Beirut, decided that Israel would need to maintain a very low profile.

Watch that camel in motion

The Beirut explosion at first sight might be seen as a deadly blow against the Belt and Road Initiative, considering that China regards the connectivity between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as the cornerstone of the Southwest Asia Belt and Road corridor.

Yet that may backfire – badly. China and Iran are already positioning themselves as the go-to investors post-blast, in sharp contrast with the IMF hit men, and as advised by Hezbollah Secretary-General Nasrallah only a few weeks ago.

Syria and Iran are in the forefront of providing aid to Lebanon. Tehran is sending an emergency hospital, food packages, medicine and medical equipment. Syria opened its borders with Lebanon, dispatched medical teams and is receiving patients from Beirut’s hospitals.

It’s always important to keep in mind that the “attack” (Trump) on Beirut’s port destroyed Lebanon’s main grain silo, apart from engineering the total destruction of the port – the nation’s key trade lifeline.

That would fit into a strategy of starving Lebanon. On the same day Lebanon became to a great extent dependent on Syria for food – as it now carries only a month’s supply of wheat – the US attacked silos in Syria.

Syria is a huge exporter of organic wheat. And that’s why the US routinely targets Syrian silos and burns its crops – attempting also to starve Syria and force Damascus, already under harsh sanctions, to spend badly needed funds to buy food

In stark contrast to the interests of the US/France/Saudi axis, Plan A for Lebanon would be to progressively drop out of the US-France stranglehold and head straight into Belt and Road as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Go East, the Eurasian way. The port and even a great deal of the devastated city, in the medium term, can be quickly and professionally rebuilt by Chinese investment. The Chinese are specialists in port construction and management.

This avowedly optimistic scenario would imply a purge of the hyper-wealthy, corrupt weapons/drugs/real estate scoundrels of Lebanon’s plutocracy – which in any case scurry away to their tony Paris apartments at the first sign of trouble.

Couple that with Hezbollah’s very successful social welfare system – which I saw for myself at work last year – having a shot at winning the confidence of the impoverished middle classes and thus becoming the core of the reconstruction.

It will be a Sisyphean struggle. But compare this situation with the Empire of Chaos – which needs chaos everywhere, especially across Eurasia, to cover for the coming, Mad Max chaos inside the US.

General Wesley Clark’s notorious 7 countries in 5 years once again come to mind – and Lebanon remains one of those 7 countries. The Lebanese lira may have collapsed; most Lebanese may be completely broke; and now Beirut is semi-devastated. That may be the straw breaking the camel’s back – releasing the camel to the freedom of finally retracing its steps back to Asia along the New Silk Roads.

ماذا يريد ماكرون فعلياً؟

د.وفيق إبراهيم

فرنسا الحالية السياسية والاقتصادية ليست في وضع يسمح لها بإطلاق مبادرة ضخمة لإنقاذ الدولة اللبنانية، ولم تعُد تمتلك النفوذ الدولي ما يؤهلها لإعادة صناعة “لبنان الدولة مرة ثانية”. فهذا يتطلّب مركزاً بين الدول العالمية الأساسية على غرار الولايات المتحدة الأميركية والصين وروسيا، اي بلدان تجمع بين النفوذ الدولي وقوة الاقتصاد والمناعة العالمية، وهذا ما تفتقده فرنسا حالياً.

بما يكشف على الفور ان زيارة الرئيس الفرنسي ماكرون الى لبنان الغريق في فرنكوفونيته تذهب الى واحد من احتمالين: اما إنها تحاول الاحتفاظ بدور على قياسها في السياسة اللبنانية عن طريق بعض المساعدات المقدور عليها وتتيح لها المشاركة في مرحلة ما بعد الحرب في سورية وتمتين وضعها في الصراع على البحر الأبيض المتوسط. اما انها الآلية المقبولة من لبنان لتمرير مشروع غربي لا يريد للبنان أن يذهب بعيداً في بحثه عن بديل للغرب وخصوصاً في الصين وروسيا وإيران.

فأي الاحتمالين هو الأقوى؟

بالتدقيق في مقارباته لضرورة بناء آلية سياسية جديدة في لبنان وتطرقه الى حكومة وحدة وطنية وتأكيده على استمرار الدعم الاقتصادي المباشر من مؤتمر سيدر والصندوق والبنك الدوليين والدول الغربية.

هذا اذاً عرض يربط بين السياسة والاقتصاد انما بعض تقديم مساعدات فرنسية كبيرة تعيد تذكير اللبنانيين بفرنكوفونيتهم القديمة.

بذلك يتضح ان المشروع فرنسي ظاهرياً وأميركي – أوروبي في اهدافه ويرمي الى منع لبنان، خصوصاً بعد تفجير مرفئه الأساسي في بيروت من الإقدام على التعاون مع الصين وروسيا والعراق وايران.

فهناك اهميات للبنان تبدأ حالياً في انه يشكل جزءاً من مياه البحر المتوسط وسواحله، بما يحتويه من كميات معروفة من الغاز وأخرى غير معروفة يقول الخبراء انها تشكل أكبر تجمع غاز معروف في العالم.

هذا بالإضافة الى حساسية آبار الغاز اللبنانية عند حدوده مع فلسطين المحتلة بما يمكن أن تشكله من دفع لحروب في الاقليم قد تؤدي الى وقف انتاج الغاز ليس فقط في الكيان الاسرائيلي ولبنان وانما في قبرص واليونان امتداداً الى ليبيا ومصر، فيتحكم بذلك حلف الغاز الذي يدعمه الاميركيون بين مصر و”اسرائيل” وقبرص واليونان وبعض الدول الاوروبية. فهذا حلف يبني عليه الاميركيون لوقف التمدد الروسي المعني كثيراً بهذا الأمر لان بلاده هي الدولة الاولى في انتاج الغاز في العالم. وتعرف ان حلف الغاز الاميركي في المتوسط إنما هو مبني لوقف الهيمنة الروسية على اسواق استهلاك الغاز في اوروبا.

كيف يفكر الفرنسيون؟

يعتبر ماكرون أن حزب الله اصبح حقيقة سياسية في لبنان والإقليم لا يمكن تجاوزه. لذلك فإن بناء آلية سياسية لبنانية تضم كل مكوّنات لبنان السياسية والطائفية هي إنقاذ للدور الغربي في لبنان من خلال الإصرار على التمثيل للقوى اللبنانية الموالية لهم على شاكلة الحريرية وجعجع والكتائب والاشتراكي.

بذلك يتأمن توازن سياسي داخلي مدعوم غربياً يمنع اي سياسات لبنانية جديدة نحو الصين وروسيا، ويفرض هدنة بين لبنان والكيان الإسرائيلي ويعرقل فتح الحدود السورية بوظائفها الاقتصادية وإذا سمح باستعمالها فللعراق فقط وفي إطار بعض التبادلات النفطية.

يحاول ماكرون إذاً ومعه النفوذ الغربي العام الاستفادة من مميزات لبنان على مستوى الموقع المتوسطي والجوار مع فلسطين المحتلة وسورية استخدامه في الصراعات الحالية والمقبلة على مصادر الطاقة.

لكن هناك مَن يضيف بأن مشروع ماكرون الاقتصادي – السياسي يخفي توقاً فرنسياً لإعادة الاعتماد على لبنان السياسي لأداء دور اقتصادي فرنسي كبير في الشرق الاوسط.

هنا يعرف ماكرون أن لبنان بتنوعه السياسي هو الوحيد في منطقة الشرق الاوسط القادر على ايصال حلفائه الى إيران والسعودية وربما امكنة اخرى.

واذا كان ماكرون قادراً على الوصول الى الرياض بامكانات دولته، فإن رحلته نحو سورية والعراق وإيران واليمن تتطلب مرشداً خبيراً وحليفاً لهذا الخط الطويل.

هذا ينطبق تماماً على حزب الله الوحيد الذي يستطيع فتح أبواب هذه الدول لفرنسا. اما لماذا يريد ماكرون التسلل الى هذه الدول؟

فهذا عائد الى انها تحتاج الى عمليات اعادة اعمار ضخمة تستطيع فرنسا بواسطتها العودة الى قطبية عالمية فعلية، فإعمار هذا الخط يتطلب آلاف مليارات الدولارات ويرتبط بتقارب سياسي بين هذه الدول والبلدان الراغبة في المشاركة. بما يؤكد ان حزب الله هو أفضل مؤدٍ لهذا الدور لعلاقاته البنيوية بخط مقاومة عميق جداً.

لكن ماكرون لن يتجرأ على البوح برغبات بلاده، بما يدفعه الى بناء سياسات هادئة تبتدئ من لبنان الفرنكوفوني ولبنان المنتمي الى حزب الله من دون اي كشف للأهداف الاقتصادية العميقة. وعندما تصل المنطقة الى مرحلة إعادة إعمار تكون فرنسا الهادئة سياسياً من المحظوظين القادرين على ايجاد مساحات للاقتصاد الفرنسي وربما الألماني أيضاً الذي يقبع في خلفية المشهد.

هل تنجح هذه المحاولات؟ هناك مَن يراهن على مرحلة ما بعد الانتخابات الأميركية والإسرائيلية مع انتظار بضعة أشهر بعد تنفيذها لبدء عصر التسويات في الشرق الأوسط.

هذا هو الشهر الفاصل

ناصر قنديل

مع خولنا شهر آب ندخل أخطر شهور العام، وربما أعوام سبقت. فهو الشهر الذي سيتقرر خلاله اتجاه الإدارة الأميركية في التعامل مع لبنان واستطراداً مع المنطقة، وهذا الاتجاه الذي سيجد ترجمته في شهر أيلول، سيبقى حاكماً لعام على الأقل، لأن إعادة انتخاب الرئيس دونالد ترامب ستعني التمديد للنهج الذي يكون قد اختاره، وانتخاب منافسه ستعني مواصلة نهج سلفه حتى ترسم السياسة الجديدة، بعد مئة يوم على الأقل من تسلم الرئيس لمقاليد الحكم في كانون الثاني، ما يعني أن لا سياسات أميركية جديدة قبل أيار المقبل، سيكون الرئيس الجديد محتاجاً لاستثمار سياسات سلفه خلال الفترة الانتقالية، وتركها تؤتي بعض ثمارها قبل تبديلها.

الخيارات الأميركية أساسية في تقرير سياسات فريقين فاعلين في الملفات اللبنانية والإقليمية، هما أصحاب الأموال، وأصحاب السلاح، وفي طليعة أصحاب الأموال يقف صندوق النقد الدولي وتقف أوروبا، ويقف بعض حكام الخليج، وكلهم ينتظرون للإفراج عن بعض الأموال خلال الفترة الفاصلة عن شهر أيار المقبل، طبيعة الضوء الأميركي، أحمر أم اصفر أم أخضر؛ وأصحاب السلاح وفي طليعتهم كيان الاحتلال وجيشه، والجماعات الإرهابية، ودول إقليمية تجس النبض بحثاً عن دور تتقدمها تركيا، جميعهم ينتظر التوجه الأميركي، تصعيداً أم تبريداً.

الخيارات الأميركية محكومة بضوابط هي الأخرى، فالوضع الداخلي ليس مريحاً للرئيس ترامب على أكثر من صعيد، والمواجهة الدائرة مع روسيا والصين على ملفات مختلفة تجعل الخيارات في المنطقة محكومة بعدم التورط بمواجهات أشد تعقيداً تجد في التورط الأميركي في المنطقة فرصة لخوض حروب استنزاف ضدها، كما أن انزلاق الوضع نحو مواجهة بلا ضوابط أمر تسعى إدارة الرئيس ترامب لتفاديه، ومثله اللاعبون تحت ظلال سياساته لا يرغبون باختبارات للقوة تذهب إلى المناطق اللزجة مع خطر انفلات المكابح وحدوث الانزلاق إلى منطقة الخروج عن السيطرة، سواء بالضغوط المالية أو الضغوط الأمنية والعسكرية.

الخيارات الأميركية خلال شهر آب هي بين خيارين، الأول فتح قنوات تفاوض على سقوف منخفضة عن تلك التي تضمنتها دعوات المبعوث الخاص إلى سورية جيمس جيفري لانسحاب متزامن ومتوازن أميركي إيراني من سورية، وقد رفضتها إيران وحلفاؤها، ودعوات معاون وزير الخارجية ديفيد شنكر للبنان لقبول خط فريدريك هوف أساساً لترسيم حدود النفط والغاز مع كيان الاحتلال، وقد رفضها لبنان. أما الخيار الثاني فهو الدفع بالتصعيد خطوة إضافية في الملفين المالي والأمني، لمزيد من الضغط أملاً بفرض المقترحات الأميركية الهادفة لتأمين سور أمني وقانوني يحمي كيان الاحتلال من مخاطر مواجهات مقبلة، ولأن حزب الله والمقاومة في لبنان التي يمثل الحزب رأس حربتها، المعني الأول بالملفين وعلى الجبهتين، بمثل ما هو المعني الأول بالملف الحكومي في لبنان، يصير كل ما سنشهده خلال هذا الشهر من أحداث تمت جدولتها زمنياً بصورة مسبقة مدروسة، كقرار المحكمة الدولية، أو ستظهر كمفاجآت، كاستقالة وزير الخارجية المرتقبة، رسائل مباشرة لرسم وجهة الحركة الأميركية مباشرة أو بالواسطة، أو بالونات اختبار لرؤية الخيارات المقابلة، مع تسريبات عن زيارة قريبة لمعاون وزير الخارجية الأميركية ديفيد شنكر إلى بيروت لتحريك التفاوض حول الترسيم البحري.

رد المقاومة على جيش الاحتلال، وتوقيته وحجمه ونوعه، لن يكون معزولاً عن قراءة هذه الرسائل، والتريث ليس حرباً نفسية وفقاً لقاعدة الوقوف على «إجر ونص» فقط، بل هي بعض الاستثمار لعامل الوقت، لأن الفرصة ذهبية ليكون الرد عامل ترجيح في ضربات الجزاء التي ستحسم مصير المباراة.

The Sword of Damocles Over Western Europe: Follow the Trail of Blood and Oil

The Sword of Damocles Over Western Europe: Follow the Trail of ...

Cynthia Chung June 3, 2020

In Part 1, we left off in our story at the SIS-CIA overthrow of Iran’s Nationalist leader Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953. At this point the Shah was able to return to Iran from Rome and British-backed Fazlollah Zahedi, who played a leading role in the coup, replaced Mosaddegh as Prime Minister of Iran.

Here we will resume our story.

An Introduction to the ‘Shah of Shahs’, ‘King of Kings’

One important thing to know about Mohammad Reza Shah was that he was no fan of British imperialism and was an advocate for Iran’s independence and industrial growth. That said, the Shah was a deeply flawed man who lacked the steadfastness to secure such a positive fate for Iran. After all, foreign-led coups had become quite common in Iran at that point.

He would become the Shah in 1941 at the age of 22, after the British forced his father Reza Shah into exile. By then, Persia had already experienced 70 years of British imperialism reducing its people to near destitution.

Mohammad Reza Shah had developed very good relations with the U.S. under President FDR, who at the behest of the Shah, formed the Iran Declaration which ended Iran’s foreign occupation by the British and the Soviets after WWII.

His father, Reza Shah came into power after the overthrow of Ahmad Shah in 1921, who was responsible for signing into law the infamous Anglo-Persian Agreement in 1919, which effectively turned Iran into a de facto protectorate run by British “advisors” and ensured the British Empire’s control of Iran’s oil.

Despite Reza Shah’s problems (Mosaddegh was sent into exile during his reign), he had made significant achievements for Iran. Among these included the development of transportation infrastructure, 15 000 miles of road by 1940 and the construction of the Trans-Iranian Railway which opened in 1938.

Mohammad Reza Shah wished to continue this vein of progress, however, he would first have to go through Britain and increasingly the U.S. in order to fulfill Iran’s vision for a better future.

In 1973, Mohammad Reza Shah thought he finally found his chance to turn Iran into the “world’s sixth industrial power” in just one generation…

OPEC and the European Monetary System vs the ‘Seven Sisters’

In 1960, OPEC was founded by five oil producing countries: Venezuela, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait in an attempt to influence and stabilise the market price of oil, which would in turn stabilise their nation’s economic return. The formation of OPEC marked a turning point toward national sovereignty over natural resources.

However, during this period OPEC did not have a strong voice in such affairs, the main reason being the “Seven Sisters” which controlled approximately 86% of the oil produced by OPEC countries. The “Seven Sisters” was the name for the seven transnational oil companies of the “Consortium of Iran” cartel which dominated the global petroleum industry, with British Petroleum owning 40% and Royal Dutch Shell 14%, giving Britain the lead at 54% ownership during this period.

After 1973, with the sudden rise of oil prices, the Shah began to see an opportunity for independent action.

The Shah saw the price increase as a way to pull his country out of backwardness. To the intense irritation of his sponsors, the Shah pledged to bring Iran into the ranks of the world’s top ten industrial nations by the year 2000.

The Shah understood that in order for this vision to become a reality, Iran could not just stay as a crude oil producer but needed to invest in a more stable future through industrial growth. And as it just so happened, France and West Germany were ready to make an offer.

In 1978, France and West Germany led the European community, with the exception of Great Britain, in the formation of the European Monetary System (EMS). The EMS was a response to the controlled disintegration that had been unleashed on the world economy after the fixed exchange rate became a floating exchange rate in 1971.

French foreign minister Jean Francois–Poncet had told a UN press conference, that it was his vision that the EMS eventually replace the IMF and World Bank as the center of world finance.

For those who are unaware of the devastation that the IMF and World Bank have wreaked upon the world, refer to John Perkins’ “Confession of an Economic Hit Man”… the situation is 10X worst today.

As early as 1977, France and West Germany had begun exploring the possibility of concretizing a deal with oil producing countries in which western Europe would supply high-technology exports, including nuclear technology, to the OPEC countries in exchange for long-term oil supply contracts at a stable price. In turn, OPEC countries would deposit their enormous financial surpluses into western European banks which could be used for further loans for development projects… obviously to the detriment of the IMF and World Bank hegemony.

The Carter Administration was not happy with this, sending Vice President Walter Mondale to France and West Germany to “inform” them that the U.S. would henceforth oppose the sale of nuclear energy technology to the Third World…and thus they should do so as well. West Germany’s nuclear deal with Brazil and France’s promise to sell nuclear technology to South Korea had already come under heavy attack.

In addition, the Shah had started a closer partnership with Iraq and Saudi Arabia cemented at OPEC meetings in 1977 and 1978. In a press conference in 1977 the Shah stated he would work for oil price stability. Together Saudi Arabia and Iran at the time produced nearly half of OPEC’s entire output.

If an Iran-Saudi-Iraq axis established a permanent working relationship with the EMS it would have assembled an unstoppable combination against the London world financial center.

Recall that France and West Germany had already ignored British calls to boycott Iranian oil in 1951 under Mosaddegh, and therefore, there was no indication that they were going to follow suit with Britain and the U.S. this time either.

As far as London and Washington were concerned, the Shah’s reign was over.

British Petroleum, BBC News and Amnesty International as Servants to the Crown

Were we to select a date for the beginning of the Iranian revolution it would be November 1976, the month that Amnesty International issued its report charging brutality and torture of political prisoners by the Shah of Iran.

Ironically, the SAVAK which was the secret police under the Shah from 1957 to 1979, was established and pretty much run by the SIS (aka MI6), CIA and the Israeli Mossad. This is a well-known fact, and yet, was treated as somehow irrelevant during Amnesty International’s pleas for a humanitarian intervention into Iran.

For those who haven’t already discovered Amnesty International’s true colors from their recent “work” in Syria… it should be known that they work for British Intelligence.

Gruesome accounts of electric shock torture and mutilation were printed in the London Times, the Washington Post and other respected press. Within a few months, President Carter launched his own “human rights” campaign. With this, the international humanitarian outcry got bigger and louder demanding the removal of the Shah.

The Shah was caught between a rock and a hard place, as he was known not to be strong on “security” matters and often left it entirely up to the management of others. Once Amnesty International sounded the war-cry, the Shah made the mistake of not only defending the undefendable SAVAK in the public arena but continued to trust them entirely. It would be his biggest mistake.

With the international foment intensifying, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) Persian language broadcasts into Iran fanned the flames of revolt.

During the entire year of 1978 the BBC stationed dozens of correspondents throughout the country in every remote town and village. BBC correspondents, often in the employ of the British secret service, worked as intelligence operatives for the revolution.

Each day the BBC would report in Iran gory accounts of alleged atrocities committed by the Iranian police, often without checking the veracity of the reports. It is now acknowledged that these news reports helped to fuel and even organise the political foment towards an Iranian revolution.

In 1978, British Petroleum (BP) was in the process of negotiating with the government of Iran the renewing of the 25 year contract made in 1953 after the Anglo-American coup against Mosaddegh. These negotiations collapsed in Oct 1978, at the height of the revolution. BP rejected the National Iranian Oil Company’s (NIOC) demands, refusing to buy a minimum quantity of barrels of Iranian oil but demanding nonetheless the exclusive right to buy that oil should it wish to in the future!

The Shah and NIOC rejected BP’s final offer. Had the Shah overcome the revolt, it appeared that Iran would have been free in its oil sales policy in 1979 – and would have been able to market its own oil to the state companies of France, Spain, Brazil and many other countries on a state-to-state basis.

In the American press hardly a single line was published about the Iranian fight with BP, the real humanitarian fight for Iranians.

The Sword of Damocles

The “Arc of Crisis” is a geopolitical theory focused on American/western politics in regards to the Muslim world. It was first concocted by British historian Bernard Lewis, who was regarded as the leading scholar in the world on oriental studies, especially of Islam, and its implications for today’s western politics.

Bernard Lewis was acting as an advisor to the U.S. State Department from 1977-1981. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor, would announce the U.S.’ adoption of the “Arc of Crisis” theory by the American military and NATO in 1978.

It is widely acknowledged today, that the “Arc of Crisis” was primarily aimed at destabilising the USSR and Iran. This will be discussed further in Part 3 of this series.

Egypt and Israel were expected to act as the initiating countries for the expansion of NATO into the Middle East. Iran was to be the next link.

Iran’s revolution was perfectly timed with the launching of the “Arc of Crisis”, and NATO had its “humanitarian” cause for entering the scene.

However, the fight was not over in Iran.

On Jan 4th, 1979, the Shah named Shapour Bakhtiar, a respected member of the National Front as Prime Minister of Iran. Bakhtiar was held in high regard by not only the French but Iranian nationalists. As soon as his government was ratified, Bakhtiar began pushing through a series of major reform acts: he completely nationalised all British oil interests in Iran, put an end to the martial law, abolished the SAVAK, and pulled Iran out of the Central Treaty Organization, declaring that Iran would no longer be “the gendarme of the Gulf”.

Bakhtiar also announced that he would be removing Ardeshir Zahedi from his position as Iran’s Ambassador to the U.S.

An apple that did not fall far from the tree, Ardeshir is the son of Fazlollah Zahedi, the man who led the coup against Mosaddegh and replaced him as Prime Minister!

Ardeshir was suspected to have been misinforming the Shah about the events surrounding the Iranian revolution and it was typical that he spoke to Brzezinski in Washington from Teheran over the phone at least once a day, often twice a day, as part of his “job” as Ambassador to the U.S. during the peak of the Iranian revolution.

With tensions escalating to a maximum, the Shah agreed to transfer all power to Bakhtiar and left Iran on Jan 16th,1979 for a “long vacation” (aka exile), never to return.

However, despite Bakhtiar’s courageous actions, the damage was too far gone and the hyenas were circling round.

It is known that from Jan 7th to early Feb 1979, the No. 2 in the NATO chain of command, General Robert Huyser, was in Iran and was in frequent contact with Brzezinski during this period. It is thought that Huyser’s job was to avoid any coup attempts to disrupt the take-over by Khomeini’s revolutionary forces by largely misleading the Iranian generals with false intel and U.S. promises. Recently declassified documents on Huyser’s visit to Iran confirm these suspicions.

During the Shah’s “long vacation” his health quickly deteriorated. Unfortunately the Shah was never a good judge of character and kept a close dialogue with Henry Kissinger as to how to go about his health problems. By Oct 1979, the Shah was diagnosed with cancer and the decision was made to send him to the U.S. for medical treatment.

This decision was very much pushed for and supported by Brzezinski and Kissinger, despite almost every intelligence report indicating this would lead to a disastrous outcome.

In Nov 18th 1979, the New York Times reported:

‘The decision was made despite the fact that Mr. Carter and his senior policy advisers had known for months that to admit the Shah might endanger Americans at the embassy in Teheran. An aide reported that at one staff meeting Mr. Carter had asked, “When the Iranians take our people in Teheran hostage, what will you advise me then?” ‘

On Oct 22, 1979, the Shah arrived in New York to receive medical treatment. Twelve days later, the U.S. Embassy in Teheran was taken over and 52 American hostages would be held captive for 444 days!

With the taking of the hostages, the Carter Administration, as preplanned under the “Arc of Crisis”, set into motion its scenario for global crisis management.

The hostage crisis, a 100% predictable response to the U.S.’ decision to accept the Shah into America, was the external threat the Carter Administration needed to invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, authorising the President to regulate international commerce after declaring a national emergency in response to an extraordinary threat

With this new authority, President Carter announced the freezing of all U.S.-Iranian financial assets, amounting to over $6 billion, including in branches of American banks abroad. Instantly, the world financial markets were thrown into a panic, and big dollar depositors in western Europe and the U.S., particularly the OPEC central banks, began to pull back from further commitments.

The Eurodollar market was paralyzed and most international lending halted until complex legal matters were sorted out.

However, the most serious consequence by far from the Carter Administration’s “emergency actions,” was in scaring other OPEC governments away from long-term lending precisely at a time when West Germany and France were seeking to attract deposits into the financial apparatus associated with the European Monetary System (EMS).

In addition, the Carter Administration’s insistent demands that western Europe and Japan invoke economic sanctions against Iran was like asking them to cut their own throats. Yet, the raised political tensions succeeded in breaking apart the economic alliances and the slow blood-letting of Europe commenced.

Within days of the taking of the hostages, the pretext was given for a vast expansion of U.S. military presence in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean.

Sound familiar?

The message was not lost on Europe. In a Nov 28, 1979 column in Le Figaro, Paul Marie de la Gorce,  who was in close dialogue with the French presidential palace, concluded that U.S. military and economic intervention into Iran would cause “more damages for Europe and Japan than for Iran.” And that those who advocate such solutions are “consciously or not inspired by the lessons given by Henry Kissinger.”

During the 444 day hostage crisis, a full-scale U.S. invasion was always looming overhead. Such an invasion was never about seizing the oil supply for the U.S., but rather to deny it to western Europe and Japan.

If the U.S. were to have seized the oil supply in Iran, the body blow to the western European economies would have knocked out the EMS. Thus, during the 444 day holding of American hostages, this threat was held over the head of Europe like the sword of Damocles.

It is sufficed to say that today’s ongoing sanctions against Iran cannot be understood in their full weight and international ramifications without this historical background.

To Understand Iran’s 150-Year Fight, Follow the Trail of Blood and Oil

To Understand Iran's 150-Year Fight, Follow the Trail of Blood and ...

Cynthia Chung May 23, 2020

This past Sunday, April 17th, a dispute between Iran and the U.S. occurred over the U.S.’ decision to increase its military presence in Caribbean and Eastern Pacific waters, with the purported reason being a counter-narcotics campaign.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this past Sunday, that the real purpose for this move by the U.S. is to “intervene and create disruption in the transfer of Iran’s fuel to Venezuela.” In the same letter, Zarif expressed concern over “the United States’ intention to consider dangerous, unlawful and provocative measures against Iranian oil tankers engaged in perfectly lawful international commerce with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

The Iranian deployment consists of five tankers carrying around $45.5million of gasoline and related products, as part of a wider deal between Iran and Venezuela. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on both nations’ oil exports.

For the first time since 1962, Iran has requested IMF assistance due to severe shortages created by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Iran requesting an emergency loan of $5 billion. However, the request is currently being blocked by the U.S., which accounts for slightly more than 16.5% of IMF’s voting shares and has an effective veto over decisions.

Iran is presently experiencing a critical shortage of medicines and equipment amid the pandemic, and yet is prohibited from purchasing medicines and supplies because of the banking sanctions.

It is clear that these manoeuvres against Iran are not on behalf of anyone’s “security” but rather an attempt to force Iran to finally bend the knee and be reduced to a state of complete dependence.

Iran has fought a long fight to claim its independence from western powers.

However, what if I were to tell you that once there was a time when Iran and the U.S. had good relations and that the U.S. was in fact the leading promoter and supporter of Iran’s sovereignty?

Almost out of a Shakespearean play of tragedy and betrayal, the relationship was jeopardised by a third player. As identified by John Perkins, in his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the first ever U.S. coup against a foreign country was the overthrow of Iran’s nationalist Prime Minister Mosaddegh in 1953. However, what is often left out…is that it was a British authored and designed operation.

In order for us to understand how and why the U.S. was dragged into such an affair, our story starts 150 years ago…

Dieu et mon droit

It all started in 1872, with Nasir al-Din Shah having granted to the British Baron Julius de Reuter, rights to Iran’s entire economic estate. Reuter not only controlled Iran’s industry, farming, and rail transportation, but also held the right to issue currency and to set up a national bank, called the Imperial Bank of Persia, which was under direct British control.

In 1901, Muzzaffar al-Din Shah negotiated what became known as the D’Arcy Contract, granting William Knox D’Arcy, a millionaire London socialite, the special and exclusive privilege to basically own and manage the natural gas and petroleum of Iran for a term of 60 years.

In May 26th 1908 D’Arcy struck pay-dirt in Iran, discovering a huge oil field in Masjed-Soleiman. Britain immediately set up APOC in 1908, purchasing the rights to the black gold from D’Arcy. Six years later, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill gave the order to purchase 51% of APOC, effectively nationalizing the company. This was to ensure the free flow of oil to the British navy. It was the first company to extract petroleum from Iran.

Iran received only 16% of the royalties on the oil.

Britain continued to pursue total control of Iran, not through colonial occupation, but rather through economic “agreements”. In the midst of carving up the empire’s new “jewels” of the Middle East from the Sykes-Picot fraud on the Arabian people and the illegal British occupation of Palestine, the notorious Anglo-Persian Agreement of Aug 19, 1919 was also signed, with London effectively turning Iran into a de facto protectorate run by British “advisors”. Britain had succeeded in becoming the masters of Iran’s natural resources through this agreement.

Iran received almost nothing in return, not even oil from APOC for domestic consumption, but rather had to import it from the Soviet Union!

On Nov 28th 1932 Reza Shah announced that he would be cancelling the British concession to APOC. The British Navy was heavily dependent on cheap Iranian oil and thus Britain refused to acquiesce. A compromise was reached in 1933 through bilateral negotiations and the British managed to extend their concession up until 1993! Iran had succeeded in getting the British to pay a higher price but it still did not control its own oil.

The American Relationship

Despite claiming a neutral stance for Iran during WWII, word had gotten out that Reza Shah was apparently sympathetic to the cause of Hitler. The argument was thus used that a pro-German Iran could become a launching pad for an attack against the Soviet Union, justifying British and Soviet entry into the country on Aug 25th 1941 for what would be a several years’ occupation. On Sept 16th Reza was forced by the British to abdicate and go into exile transferring power to his 22 year old son, Mohammad Reza Shah.

Mohammad Reza Shah was not happy with the joint occupation and sought an American military presence as a mediator to British and Soviet interests. The Shah sent a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Aug 25th 1941 asking him to:

“be good enough to interest yourself in this incident…I beg Your Excellency to take efficacious and urgent humanitarian steps to put an end to these acts of aggression.”

In response to this plea, Roosevelt sent Gen. Patrick Hurley as his special representative to Iran to help prepare what was to become the Iran Declaration, finally adopted at the Tehran Conference where Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill would agree to guarantee the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Iran.

The Iran Declaration was used to finally end the foreign occupation of Iran after WWII, despite some resistance, and would play a crucial role in Iran’s future fight for sovereignty. The Iran Declaration thus proved itself to be more than just words, and this would certainly never have happened if not for FDR.

As part of Hurley’s report to FDR, he wrote some biting words on the present system of British imperialism, “The imperialism of Germany, Japan, Italy, France… will, we hope, end or be radically revised by this war [WWII]. British imperialism seems to have acquired a new life. . . What appears to be a new life… is the result of the infusion, into its emaciated form, of the blood of productivity and liberty from a free nation [Iran] through Lend-Lease.”

Roosevelt sent a copy of the Hurley report to Churchill with his thoughts on the matter: “The enclosed memorandum was sent to me… I rather like his general approach to the care and education of what used to be called ‘backward countries’…the point of all this is that I do not want the United States to acquire a ‘zone of influence,’ or any other nation for that matter [in Iran].”

Churchill was less than enthusiastic on the Hurley-FDR vision. He was particularly irked by Hurley’s notion that British imperialism were in conflict with democracy.

FDR died only a few months later, and with his interment, Hurley’s plans for American support for a sovereign and democratic Iran as a model for the rest of the Middle East were relegated to the dust bins of time and forgotten by much of the world.

Following WWII, nationalistic sentiments were on the rise including in the Middle East, the most notable being Iran. However, following the death of FDR the British were free to disingenuously respond to Iran’s request for better economic conditions by offering what was called the “Supplemental Agreement”, in May 1949. This entailed a better payment in royalties but still denied Iran any oversight over accounts or any other form of control over Iranian oil.

Enter Mosaddegh

In the late 1940s, a new political force emerged in Iran called the National Front led by Mohammad Mosaddegh. Their campaign was centered on the demand to nationalize the AIOC and the people of Iran were in accord, electing Mosaddegh into the Majlis (parliament) in 1949.

Mosaddegh lost no time, and quickly became the head of the Majlis Oil Committee which was tasked to study the British “Supplemental Agreement”. When it came time to put it to a vote on Nov 25th 1950, the committee delivered a resounding “no” to the British proposition.

Less than four months later, the Majlis voted on March 15th 1951 for nationalization of the AIOC, and it was renamed as the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). Less than two months later, Mosaddegh became Prime Minister of Iran on April 28th 1951.

The British were left empty handed.

Twice the British tried to argue their case before the international community, once in May 1951 at The Hague and again in October at the UN Security Council. Both attempts were to lose to Mosaddegh’s defense. Mosaddegh had earned a Ph.D. in law from the Neuchatel Law School in Switzerland in 1914.

This was anything but a formal victory. It was to set a precedent in the international community that a country’s right to national sovereignty would be favored over Britain’s imperial “claims”, which were exposed during these two very public trials as amounting to nothing more than the threats and bribes of pirates.

At the UN Security Council, Mosaddegh responded to Britain’s imperial ambitions over Iran with these eloquent words:

“My countrymen lack the bare necessities of existence…Our greatest natural asset is oil. This should be the source of work and food for the population of Iran. Its exploitation should properly be our national industry, and the revenue from it should go to improve our conditions of life. As now organized, however, the petroleum industry has contributed practically nothing to the well-being of the people or to the technical progress or industrial development of my country…if we are to tolerate a situation in which the Iranian plays the part of a mere manual worker in the oil fields…and if foreign exploiters continue to appropriate practically all of the income, then our people will remain forever in a state of poverty and misery. These are the reasons that have prompted the Iranian parliament… to vote unanimously in favor of nationalizing the oil industry.”

A British coup

The British were fuming over Mosaddegh’s high profile humiliation of the British Empire’s claim to Iran’s oil. Mosaddegh would have to be deposed, however, this could not look like a British retaliation.

During Averell Harrimann’s visit to Tehran in July 1951, in an attempt to salvage the broken British-Iranian relationship, Mosaddegh is reported to have said,

“You do not know how crafty they are. You do not know how evil they are. You do not know how they sully everything they touch.”

As coup rumours circulated and reports were rife of British contact being sought with Iranian military officers, Mosaddegh severed diplomatic relations with the UK on Oct 16th 1952. The British were further humiliated and had to leave the country taking their agents with them.

It was at this point that Churchill “invited” his lap dog, de facto president Truman, to participate in his vision for regime change in Iran. In November 1952, NSC 136 and 136/I were written into record, Truman had agreed to promote direct intervention in Iran through covert operations and even military force. A detailed plan was approved on Jan 8th 1953 which was 12 days before Eisenhower was inaugurated.

The management of this covert operation was under the treasonous Dulles brothers, who would use the very same technique when JFK first entered office in setting him up with the Bay of Pigs fiasco, however, JFK managed to publicly expose Allan Dulles in this scheme and fired him. Dulles had been the Director of the CIA for 8 years up until that point, and was Deputy Director of the CIA for two years prior. Refer to my paper on this for further details.

A preliminary meeting in Washington saw representatives of the Near East and Africa Division (NEA) with British Intelligence. The key personalities were Christopher Montague Woodhouse who had been station chief for British Intelligence in Tehran and on the American side Kermit Roosevelt (son of Teddy Roosevelt) acting as NEA Division Chief. It was the British who would propose a joint political action to remove Prime Minister Mosaddegh according to CIA documents, which were in part leaked by the New York Times on April 16th 2000. The final plan was codenamed TPAJAX.

Appendix B, aka “London Draft of the TPAJAX Operational Plan” was black propaganda aimed at hammering out these themes 1) Mosaddegh favors the Tudeh Party and the USSR 2) Mosaddegh is an enemy of Islam since he associates with Tudeh.

The aim of such tactics was to drive a wedge between Mosaddegh and his National Front on the one side and his clerical allies, especially Kashani on the other. Demonstrations against Mosaddegh in the streets were to provide the pretext for bought MPs to hold a vote against him, if he refused to step down the plan was to have Fazlollah Zahedi, leader of the opposition, to arrest him. Zahedi, as laid out in Appendix B was selected by the British to replace Mosaddegh as Prime Minister after the coup.

Chief of Staff Gen. Taghi Riahi found out about the coup plans and alerted Mosaddegh in time. When the chief of the Imperial Guards, Col. Nasiri went to Mosaddegh’s house the evening before the planned coup day (Aug 16th) to arrest him, Nasiri himself was taken as prisoner by the pro- Mosaddegh military. Zahedi managed to flee.

The coup attempt had failed and the word spread fast, crowds flooded the streets supporting Mosaddegh and denouncing the Shah. The Shah left the country quickly.

The CIA informed of the fiasco alerted Kermit Roosevelt that he should leave Iran immediately. But Kermit believed the coup could still work and would make a second attempt three days later. British Intelligence and CIA orchestrated demonstrations set to the streets on Aug 19th. The royal decrees signed by the Shah for the deposal of Mosaddegh to be replaced by Zahedi were made public in the press that very day with the radio news announcing: that Zahedi was Prime Minister, that Mosaddegh had been ousted and that the Shah would return soon.

Military units were dispatched to Mosaddegh’s home. As his house was being destroyed by gunfire and tanks, Mosaddegh managed to escape. It is said he later turned himself in to the authorities.

After a ten-week period in a military prison, Mosaddegh was tried on charges of treason, because he had allegedly mobilized for a rebellion and had contradicted the Shah. In fact, the accused treason was a nationalistic response to a foreign led coup.

Mosaddegh was promptly found guilty and sentenced to death, later lessened to three years in prison, followed by house arrest.

Mosaddegh’s response to the kangaroo court proceedings was,

“My only crime is that I nationalized the oil industry and removed from this land the network of colonialism and the political and economic influence of the greatest empire [the British Empire] on Earth.”

Members of his government were also arrested, as were the leading military who remained loyal to him. Six hundred of the 6, 000 of these men were executed.

Even after Mosaddegh had passed away, on March 5th, 1967, his enemies were fearful of his influence. Mosaddegh had requested that upon his death, he be buried in the public graveyard beside the victims of the political violence that occurred on the 21st July 1952 from British-backed Ahmad Qavam who ordered soldiers to shoot at Mosaddegh nationalists during a demonstration, resulting in a blood bath. Not wanting his grave to become the site of political manifestations, a public funeral for Mosaddegh was denied and his body was quietly buried underneath the floorboards of a room in his house.

وطن يتحلّل

د. عدنان منصور

لم عد أمام المواطن اللبناني ما يقوله، بعد الحالة المزرية الكارثية التي وصل اليها، وتدهور الأوضاع المعيشية والخدمية، في مختلف القطاعات، وعلى المستويات كافة، بعد كلّ الذي قاله بحق حكامه، والطغمة الفاسدة، والزمرة الباغية سوى: كفى، كفى!

كفى استهتاراً واستخفافاً بالشعب! كفى كذباً ونفاقاً وفشلاً وتقاعساً وإهمالاً متعمّداً بحق الوطن والمواطنين! كفى إذلالاً وتجويعاً وقهراً واستبداداً وطغياناً!

لم يعد أمام المواطن اللبناني من مفردات تعبّر عن غضبه وسخطه، ينعتكم بها، إلا وقالها لكم بصوت عال. لقد أصبحتم مهزلة وأضحوكة العالم، يتندّر بكم، وبوقاحتكم، وفشلكم، وتعلقكم بالمناصب، والصفقات، والنهب والكراسي… عالم يعلم علم اليقين، أنكم لم تتركوا لشعبكم الا الذكريات المرة، والإحباط والإذلال والمآسي…

يا حكام وأغنياء البلد ولصوصه، ايّ وطن بنيتموه؟! وأي إرث تركتموه لشعبكم؟! خذوا ثرواتكم كلها مع نعوشكم، واملأوا بها بطونكم، وانفخوا كروشكم وأدمنوا على المال الحرام وقولوا هل من مزيد…؟!

ما الذي ننتظره منكم، ومن بلد تحكمه مجالس طائفية، كل طائفة فيها يديرها زعماء روحيون وسياسيون على طريقتهم الخاصة، وفق أهوائهم السياسية ومصالحهم الشخصية!

ما الذي ننتظره من عمل المؤسسات، وكلّ مؤسسة يديرها مجلس ملل مرتهن لمن عيّنوه، ليصبح بمتناولهم، من خلاله يتقاسمون الحصص، والمحاسيب، والصفقات، والتلزيمات “ والمناقصات»….

أيّ بلد نريده، وأيّ وإصلاح ننتظره! وأيّ مستقبل يعوّل عليه المواطنون، عندما يدركون انّ القضاء محكوم بالسياسة، لا يستطيع قاضٍ مهما علا شأنه، أن يحاكم سياسياً أو مسؤولاً فاسداً أو مفسداً، أو ناهباً للمال العام، أو مستغلاً لوظيفته التي من خلالها، حقق ثروة عن طريق الإثراء غير المشروع! كيف يمكن تحقيق الإصلاح في بلد منهار، عندما يُستدعى فاسد، مختلس، للتحقيق معه، لكونه خرق القانون عن إصرار، وتحوم حوله شبهات وعلامات استفهام، وتدينه أدلة دامغة لا لبس فيها، ثم يخرج من التحقيق يختال، رافع الرأس، يمشي مرحاً، بعنجهية وقحة، لنتساءل بعد ذلك: مَن استدعى مَن؟!

أيّ بلد ننتظره، وفيه خمسة أسعار صرف للعملة الوطنية المنهارة أصلاً، وكلّ يوم يغدق علينا مصرف لبنان وحاكمه الفذ، قراراً جديداً، مع ما تنعمه علينا أيضاً المصارف وحيتانها، سارقو جنى عمر وأموال المودعين، بالوعود والتطمينات الكاذبة، التي تخدّر أبناء الشعب المسحوق, على يد أفسد وأوقح وأرذل وأحط طبقة سياسية ومالية ومصرفية شهدها العالم، وعانى لبنان من شراستها الأمرّين على مدى ثلاثة عقود!!

ما الذي ننتظره من بلد يفاوض فيه مسؤولوه الصناديق والمؤسسات النقدية والمالية الدولية، في الوقت الذي تتضارب وتتباين فيه أرقام مؤسساته المالية، حول العجز المالي والديون المترتبة على الدولة والمصارف، ليصبح مسؤولوها مجالاً رحباً للتندّر والتهكم، وعرضة للاستخفاف وعدم الثقة بهم، وبجديتهم، وصدقيتهم من قبل المؤسسات المالية الدولية!!

أي بلد هو هذا البلد، وأي صنف من المسؤولين الفاشلين، المتخبّطين، المتردّدين يديرونه، حيث تكثر فيه الوعود، والاجتماعات والتصريحات، والتطمينات، والخطابات واللجان المنكوبة، التي تضمّ ما هبّ ودبّ من خبراء، واختصاصيين، وباحثين، ومنظرين محليين وأجانب، لتعطى الدروس، وتتعدّد الاجتهادات! دراسات توضع، وحلول ترفع، وتقارير تجمع، وأصوات تلعلع، ووزير يلفّ ويدور، يصول ويجول، ورئيس حكومة يؤثر ان يطل علينا بسجل إنجازاته “الباهرة”، وبعد ذلك نرى النتيجة الصادمة المفجعة على الأرض:

عتمة وظلام، قمامة ونفايات تتصدّر الساحات والشوارع، انقطاع وشحّ في المياه، ازمة طاقة مستدامة يحرص عليها لصوص البلد، رواتب ومعاشات وصلت الى الحضيض، وتضخم مالي فاق الحدود وتجاوز المعقول… وفوق كلّ ذلك، نرى الصورة المأساة: مواطن يُسحَق، ويُسرَق، ويُذلّ، ويُهجّر ويجوع ويموت!!

ما الذي ننتظره من بلد، يَعِد فيه رئيس حكومته الشعب، باسترجاع أمواله المنهوبة، والمحوّلة الى الخارج بصورة غير قانونية، ثم يتلكأ عن اتخاذ الإجراءات القانونية لملاحقة الناهبين للمال العام ومحاسبتهم، أو يغضّ الطرف عن كشف أسماء المختلسين، الذين سطوا على أموال المودعين، إما عمداً، وإما ضعفاً، وإما لأسباب وحسابات لا يعلمها الا الراسخون في السلطة، لتبقى وعود الحكومة العتية وبيانها الوزاري في هذا الشأن كالسراب.

ما الذي ننتظره من بلد تقوده زمرة سياسية فاشلة، لا يستطيع فيه القضاء أن يوقف مسؤولاً سياسياً فاسداً، أو يجرؤ على كشف شرعية وقانونية ثرواته وعقاراته وأمواله المنقولة وغير المنقولة، العائدة له، ولأفراد أسرته وحاشيته، في الداخل والخارج!

من يجرؤ من الزعماء والمسؤولين أن يقول بصوت عال، إنّ القضاء غير مسيّس أو بعيد عن سلطة وهيمنة الطبقة السياسية الحاكمة؟! وإنّ القضاء حرّ، لا يتدخل به أحد، وإنه غير خاضع للضغوط من هنا وهناك، وإنّ القاضي متحرر بالكامل _ كما هو مفروض _ من تأثيرات ورغبات زعيمه السياسي او الروحي!

اي بلد هو هذا البلد، عندما تطال حكومته تصريحات مستفزة تأتي من قبل سفراء، لتنال من سيادته، وهم يطلقون مواقف مستهجنة، ويتقدّمون بمطالب علنية وقحة، تشكل تدخلاً سافراً في شؤوننا الداخلية، متجاوزين الأصول والأعراف واللياقات الدبلوماسية، والاتفاقيات الدولية، وبعد ذلك نرى كيف يلتزم المسؤولون المعنيون الصمت حيال ما يجري، وكأن على رؤوسهم الطير!

اي بلد هو هذا البلد، الذي يرفض فيه نوابه، مشروع قانون لإزالة صور الزعماء من الشوارع والساحات، ومن على الأشجار والجسور والجدران، ويصرّون على إبقائها رغماً عن أنوف الناس، غير مكترثين بما يُبديه المواطن في نفسه من غضب، ويردّده من شتائم في كلّ مرة تقع عينه على صورة زعيم ما معلقة على عمود هنا او هناك، او على جدار وتحتها حاويات تفيض منها النفايات!!

أي بلد هو هذا البلد، وزعماؤه وسياسيوه، يتهمون بعضهم بعضاً، بالصفقات والسرقات والفساد، وكلهم في اتهاماتهم المتبادلة صادقون في ما يقوله كلّ واحد منهم بحق الآخر. ورغم كلّ ذلك يستمرّ هؤلاء في فسادهم وطغيانهم من دون حسيب او رقيب!!

اي بلد هو هذا البلد، الذي يقبل فيه مسؤولوه الالتزام بقانون خارجي تعسّفي ظالم، يفرض الخناق على شعبهم، ليقولوا لقرصان العالم: الأمر لكم، والطاعة لنا! القرار منكم، والتنفيذ علينا. ترفعون الصوت عالياً ضدّنا، ونحن لا نتردّد برفع أعلام بلدكم أمام سفارتكم، لنقول لكم هذا واجبنا، وطاعتنا لكم، تقع على عاتقنا!!

من يوقظ وطناً من الغيبوبة التي هو فيها، حيث يعيش مسؤولوه وزعماؤه على كوكب آخر، لا همّ لهم إلا الثروة ثم الثروة ثم الثروة، طالما أنّ بطونهم المنتفخة والشرهة، وبطون أولادهم وأصهرتهم وأحفادهم وحاشيتهم لم تمتلئ بعد!!

لقد ابتلي الشعب بطبقة فاجرة لا مثيل لها، ليست لديها نية الإصلاح من قريب او بعيد، او الرغبة في التخلي عن سياسة النهب المنظم للبلاد والعباد، أو التحسّس بفقر وجوع وعذاب الشعب المقهور.. هذه الطبقة يجب ان تحاسب وتردع من محكمة ميدانية، كي يصدر عنها الحكم العادل على الطغمة الفاجرة، من الشعب مباشرة، وليس حكماً باسم الشعب!

*وزير الخارجية والمغتربين الأسبق

How Geopolitical Economy Crossed the Atlantic – West to East

How Geopolitical Economy Crossed the Atlantic – West to East

by Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

Europe is tending to bring the society and culture of the continent into harmony with those of the United States, exulting the characteristics of the latter into models and objects of an uncritical and overwhelming admiration … There is no longer at present a European project. A North American project … under American command has replaced it … The hegemonism of the United States is clearly visible behind the disappearance of the European project in favour of a return to Atlanticism – political, economic, cultural, and militaristic.

Samir Amin (The Liberal Virus 2004)

According to current orthodox economic trade theory – see the works of David Ricardo (1772-1823) and his theory of comparative advantage – this is a hypothesis which in policy terms is predicated upon the free movement of labour, capital and commodities, which it is argued will result in flows into the most optimal investment and growth areas. This process will be seen to maximise social welfare in terms of income and output. Like many economic theories which have come and gone this particular addition to the collection may seem disarmingly plausible; in practise, however, the theory begs a number of key questions.

The current conventional wisdom as applicable to the free-trade paradigm rests on a one-size fits all prescriptive model; that is to say that always and everywhere it is regarded as the policy of choice. Free-up the dead hand of state controlled, interventionist policies, and the markets will deliver the goods, so it is argued. This is, it should be understood, not an empirical assessment but a purely theoretical paradigm, which is to say the least, questionable. The quasi-religious belief in the efficacy of free trade/markets and factor input movement is the cornerstone of trade agreements such as free-trade areas like NAFTA, on the Mexican/American border and trading blocs like the EU in Europe and MERCOSUR in Latin America.

This theory, which was effectively mobilized and globalized by the Anglo-American economic establishment (the Reagan-Thatcher axis) continues to be taught in schools and university courses so that generation after generation of students are infected by what has become known as the Washington Consensus, Neo-liberalism, Globalization call it what you will. However, in the cold and unforgiving world of actually-existing capitalism free-trade and free-markets have never to any great extent really existed. It cannot be emphasised enough that orthodox economic theory is, as Amin states elsewhere, a purely ideological construct bearing only a tenuous connection with the real world.

At the outset it should be made clear that capitalist development was and is a function of the market and state relationship. Public authority has always actively intervened in shaping and promoting the economic policies of the domestic and international economy contrary to hyper-globalist assertions which we might call ‘state-denial’. It should be stated unequivocally that the state and its role is and remains the most significant force in shaping both the national and world economy. This was evident as far back as Tudor England and beyond when the English monarchs banned the importation of woollen cloth in an early version of infant industry protection transforming England from an importing wool country into the most formidable wool and later manufacturing country in the world.

Mercantilism and its influence*

The same mercantilist policies initially carried out in England (as it then was) were then also in time operationalised in both the United States and Germany who played catch-up with the UK in the late 19th century. The architect of US mercantilism was Alexander Hamilton (born 1755 or thereabouts – died 1804) who overcame the free-trade preferences of Thomas Jefferson in the early stages of US economic development; but it was the civil war – 1861-65 – essentially a conflict between the protectionist north and the free-trading south, which settled the issue. Ex Commander-in-Chief of the Union Army of the Potomac, Ulysses Simpson Grant, later to become US President argued that:

“For centuries England has relied on protection, has carried it to extremes and has obtained satisfactory results from it. There is no doubt that it is to this system that it owes its present strength. After two centuries, England has found it convenient to adopt free trade because it thinks that protection can no longer offer it anything. Very well then, gentlemen, my knowledge of our country leads me to believe that within 200 years, when America has gotten out of protection all that it can offer, it too will adopt free trade.”(1)

In Germany, Friedrich List (1789-1846) who also had scant regard for any ‘free-market’ nonsense and the Ricardian corollary of comparative advantage was instrumental in promoting a system of political guidance from above as a policy for economic development.

‘’ … the first stage (of such a long-term policy) is one of adopting free-trade with more advanced nations as a means of raising themselves from a state of barbarism, and of making advances in agriculture; in the second stage, promoting the growth of manufactures, fisheries, navigation and foreign trade by means of commercial restrictions; and in the last stage, on after reaching the highest degree of wealth and power by gradually reverting to the principle of free-trade and of unrestricted competition in the home and in foreign markets’’. (2)

This was the policy instrumentalised by Bismarck during the middle and late 19th century which enabled Germany to outperform its European rivals, principally the UK. And still today in many ways German nationalist mercantilism which it rests upon has dominated the EU and is even now still much in evidence.

The peculiarities of financialised capitalism in Germany stands in marked contrast to that of the Anglo-American world. During the last 4 decades the German service sector has become proportionately larger, as should be expected from a financialised economy, but Germany has also systematically defended its industrial sector, not least by manipulating the exchange rate to protect its export industries. The distinctive feature of German financialization is a maintenance of a strong industrial base, in spite of weak aggregate investment. Additionally, the German financial system has retained much of its historic character as ‘bank-based’ in contrast to the ‘market-based’ system of the US/UK. Germany has a small stock-market in comparison to the Anglo-American model and a larger more diffused and competitive banking model – the Sparkassen which stands in sharp contrast to the liberalised and oligopolistic banking systems in the US/UK.

Generally speaking the reversion to free-trade from protectionism has been fraught with difficulties. The mutual benefits of free-trade only exists between highly developed nations, or between nations of roughly equal levels of development. There is no question that free trade can ever become a source of growth and development between nations of unequal economic status; such development has never worked for the less developed party in the trade relationship and in all probability never will. (See the Prebisch-Singer hypothesis.) The advantages will accrue to the more productive economy.

It is easy enough to cite examples of this phenomenon: Why for example do Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Latvia, Italy, run chronic negative trade figures on their respective current accounts? The answer is that their productivity levels are lower and therefore their costs are higher than Germany’s. This means that there is a structural problem of trade relations between Germany together with the core states (Holland, Scandinavia, Austria, and so forth) and the EU’s less developed peripheral states (See above). Moreover, given that they use the same currency free markets only work for the core of the EU. Germany and the core states run surpluses on their current account whilst the periphery runs chronic trade deficits. One nation’s surplus is another’s deficit. Hence given the policy prescriptions stipulated by the ruling institutions of global capitalism, and their applications, the increasing divergence between developed, semi-developed and under-developed states becomes apparent and understandable.

Furthermore, simply opening up a developing economy to global market forces will almost certainly lead to further disaster. There is always the danger of local businesses being wiped out by more efficient foreign competition before they can get a toehold into the wider world. This was certainly the case in Russia during the Yeltsin years. The imposition of the economic ‘shock therapy’, turned out to be all shock and no therapy. ‘Experts’ from the west in the shape of neo-liberal economists such as Jeffrey Sachs and Andrei Shleifer, and the lawyer Jonathan Hay, had a degree of influence over Russia’s economic policy that was unprecedented for a sovereign independent state. Together with Yagor Gaidar and Anatoli Chubais they formulated decisions that were inserted directly into Presidential decrees. The lesson learnt was that a prerequisite for positive and beneficial engagement with the global economy is the development of robust internal structures; the development of a national economy starts with internal integration and then moves on to external integration.

Strange as it may seem the development strategies employed in the East Asian states and economies were in flat contradiction to the IMF/World Bank prescriptions and met – mirabile dictu – with considerable success. These policies carried out by South Korea and Japan were in fact based on the exclusion of inward investment of western capital inflows particularly those of a short-term speculative nature (i.e. ’’Hot Money’’). The strategy was supplemented by an extensive programme of export driven development and gradually opening up the domestic economy for trade. A policy which is still extant with China now included.

What Price Comparative Advantage?

Yet the Ricardian ideology still holds sway in the textbooks and institutions seemingly unaware of the negative outcome of such policies. This is perhaps a classical example of the dissociation of theory from empirical reality; a hidebound and utterly incapable of reform of the institutions of global capitalism and their spokespersons are aptly personified in the words of one of Samuel Becket’s characters in one of his plays ‘’I must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.’’ Neo-liberalism, in fact, proved extremely difficult to implement technically but then practical results have little to do with the persuasiveness of ideologies.

Suffice it to say that this ideological paradigm both permeates and is pretty much obligatory in the ruling institutions of global capitalism – the IMF, World Bank and WTO and in addition to other auguste bodies such as the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) the OECD and G7. Any questioning of the holy script is treated as blasphemy and relegated to mocking footnotes or treated as being non-existent.

With an unchanging policy consensus the EU defenders of the faith are completely sold on the putative beneficial outcomes to be derived from the holy trinity of free-movement of labour, capital, and commodities. And of course, this sacred trinity is crucial to an understanding of the results of these policies which have had extremely deleterious effects in practice, both in the developing world but more recently particularly in Europe. This meant that in Euroland the deficit countries could not devalue their currencies in order to rectify their trade deficits and would be forced into what became known as ‘internal devaluation’, more commonly understood as austerity.

In addition to this has been the lack of fiscal transfers from the more developed to the less developed or one state to another. Fiscal transfers within sovereign states, from Vermont to Louisiana or Surrey to Merseyside, or the North to the South of Italy, is quite normal, but fiscal transfers between sovereign states, for example, Finland and Greece, is more problematic. In the same spirit this lack of mutualization of public debt, i.e., allowing the debt of one-member state to be considered as an obligation of another and proposed to correct it through the issue of Eurobonds. However the members of the EU have neither the legitimacy nor the desire to carry the costs and burdens of each other’s actions. Nation states are not, after all, registered charities and charity stops at their borders.

‘’So long as a country is a member of the EU – even if it is not bound by a specific programme imposing austerity measures because of its huge debt, and so forth – it will still be bound by the catastrophic neoliberal rules imposed by the various EU treaties. That is to say the EU treaties that followed the Treaty of Maastricht, which institutionalised the opening and liberalisation of the markets for commodities, capital, and labour, and which, indirectly, also imply privatisations and the phasing out of the welfare state. (my emphasis – FL). This on top of the severe restrictions imposed on fiscal policy through the stringent rules and upon budget deficits and debt-to-GDP ratios (through the Stability and Growth Pact) which indirectly impose austerity.’’(3)

We should be by now also familiar with the imposition of the holy trinity of privatisation-liberalisation-deregulation policies and the effects which these policies have visited upon the world courtesy of the so-called ‘Washington Consensus’.

The problem is that there seems to be an invincible barrier of learnt ignorance nurtured within the governing institutions which direct and administer the global economy and its policies, and the shutting down or even the possibility of transcending what amounts to a religious dogma the consequences of which are manifest.

‘’We are now being asked to believe that these policies which have further impoverished people and are devastating the planet will in fact lead to diametrically different and highly beneficial outcomes, if only they can be accelerated and applied everywhere, freely and without restrictions; that is when they are globalized.’’ (4)

You see, the problem is easily solved by a more radical implementation of the existing – failed!- policies. Words fail one!

Predictably the result of the above guiding principles have reduced annual GDP growth figures for the Euro area which have been uniformly poor. These indicators were already baked in the cake and there were serious reservations regarding the sustainability of the global system as far back as 2019 which were bound to give rise to weak levels of investment and growth with the corollary of increasing unemployment – and so it turned out. From January 2018 Euro growth had slowed down to an average of 0.3% and then with the onset of the pandemic collapsed to a negative -3.6. As follows all are the latest figures for the 4 major EU countries: the UK -1.7%, France -5.0% Germany -2.2% and Italy -5.4% as of March 2020. GDP growth in the EU had been on a downward trajectory from 2.7% in 2017 to 1.3% in early 2020 and since the Covid-19 has plummeted to minus -3.6% (5)

IMF/WB Shock Therapy – Eastern Europe

A person sitting at a table Description automatically generated

Latvia. Soup de Jour: Russophobia. Enjoy.

Looking back and having witnessed the great Soviet meltdown with its attendant economic cataclysm the ex-Soviet satellites and republics have more recently received less attention in the business and financial media. What attention they have received paints a rosy picture of full-employment and runaway growth which have been a function of the rapid shock therapy which caused such mayhem in Russia in the 1990s. So much for the hype. What did in fact happen was rather different.

If anything the implantation of the neo-liberal virus and shock-therapy in the newly emerged post-communist states of Eastern Europe, together with an additional virulent and counter-productive Russophobic hostility should stand as a model for a botched and bungled attempt at social and economic development. The subsequent economic and social ravages has reduced these states to an almost Latin-American relationship with Western Europe.

The bald fact is that in economic terms there is little comparison to be made between Eastern and even Central Europe to Western Europe. This gap has not significantly changed and the only ex-soviet satellite comparable is Czechia reputed to be the success story. Czechia just squeezes into the bottom of the income hierarchy of the west as measured in GDP per capita of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). The only western states which fall below the Czechia are Portugal $30,622.00 and Greece $27,812.00. (6)

These states, the ex-soviet Republics and satellites, having thrown off the yoke of communism wanted to taste the joys of western consumerism and national self-determination, apparently, and as subsequent events turned out, also for the imposition of the yoke of US imperialism, which for bizarre reasons they found liberating. Suffice it to say that their geopolitical outlook was unashamedly Atlanticist, and their economics were neo-liberal; this much to the dismay of the European Gaullists and socialists.

But this really was manna from heaven for the British and German Atlanticists. Their object all along had been to smash the Delors’ vision of Euro-deepening with the policy tool of Euro-widening. German big business in particular saw juicy opportunities to outsource its operations to a new low-wage, East European hinterland thereby lowering its costs, as well as opening up new markets in which to sell their products. European banks also saw opportunities to extend credit – a move that they would later regret bitterly – to these newly emerging states. From the British viewpoint Euro-widening effectively meant political and institutional dilution as well as economic and financial deregulation. The cheap armies of labour in the East would provide the perfect instrument for downward harmonisation of wage levels and workers’ rights and benefits in the West.

This was indeed a deep-going change in both the economic configuration and geopolitics of the EU. But I cannot recall any discussion prior to the event. Such big policy decisions, taken behind closed doors with minimal consultation (if any) to all those who would be affected only served to distance the electorates of the west further from the EU political and bureaucratic elites. Pretty much par for the EU.

A case study by Michael Hudson (7) is illustrative of the whole process which happened, and is still happening in Eastern Europe, he writes with reference to Latvia:

‘’Post-soviet economies were free of public debt, real estate and personal debt or other bank loans obtained with their political independence in 1991 … like other post-soviet economies Latvians wanted to achieve the type of prosperity they saw in Western Europe. If Latvia had actually followed the policies that had built up the western industrial nations, the state would have taxed wealth and income progressively to invest in public infrastructure. Instead Latvia’s ‘miracle’ assumed largely predatory forms of rent-seeking and insider privatisations. (My emphasis – FL).

Accepting US and Swedish advice to impose the world’s lopsided and set of neoliberal tax and financial policies, Latvia imposed the heaviest taxes on labour. Employers must pay a flat 25% tax on wages plus a 25% social service tax, whilst wage earners pay another 11% service tax … Persons who advocated taxing real estate and financial wealth, or even supported public spending, protecting consumers and other regulation were accused of threatening a return to communism. A black and white contrast is drawn either soviet style socialism, or neoliberal ideology denying that there is any such thing as a viable mixed economy (Op.cit. pp.286/287)

There followed a period of phony, debt-fuelled growth which inevitably popped in 2008 when in Warren Buffet’s amusing little quip ‘’You only see who’s been swimming naked when the tide’s gone out.’’ And in the fullness of time the tide went out for Latvia. By 2008 it had become common knowledge that the post-soviet economies had not really grown at all but had simply been financialised and indebted.

Eastern Europe – A Demographic Disaster Zone

If the economic problems of Eastern Europe were not bad enough there was the second wave of bad news. To wit, an unmitigated fall in population levels which have already have now resulted from a massive exodus of young and talented migrants from the Baltics and others to the more salubrious climes of Western Europe, mainly Germany and the Scandinavian states. The depopulation phenomenon was not a policy as such, but it emerged as the unanticipated corollary to other parts of the neoliberal policy baggage.

In addition to mass migration there has been a fall in the fertility rate (8) and a rise in the death rate as well as the exodus of skilled and ambitious young workers looking for a better life in Western Europe. For population growth to stabilise a fertility rate minimum of 2.1 babies for every one child-bearing woman per annum is needed. Suffice it to say that even Western Europe has not managed to hit this target let alone the Eastern periphery.

Post-independence from the Soviet bloc in 1991, the population of Latvia has been diminishing annually at the rate of 23,000 people a year. These frightening figures were unveiled last March by a professor at the University of Latvia, demographer Peteris Zvidriņš who would note that the sad reality is that Latvia loses a small town every two weeks. In raw figures, that is 55 people a day, or 1,650 people a month. Another Latvian demographer, who heads a local office of the International Organization for Migration of the United Nations, Ilmar Mezhs, has recently told Skaties.lv that most of those who are leaving Latvia are not planning to go back. Referring to the forecasts of Eurostat, Mezhs suggested that in sixty years in the place of 2.7 million people who had previously resided in Latvia, one would find less than a million people still dwelling in this country. According to preliminary reports, the country’s population has already been reduced to 1.946 million people. Latvia has been plagued by high mortality rates along with the massive exodus of its people since 1991. According to LTV7, a local media station, the situation in maternity wards across Latvia is critical: low salaries often go hand-in-hand with a shortage of medical personnel, especially young professionals. If the situation is not addressed urgently, as various Latvian media sources report, there will be no qualified doctors left in hospitals.

The latest Eurostat report on the situation in Lithuania shows that up to 29% of the inhabitants are living on the verge of poverty, with the situation remaining unchanged for eight consecutive years. At the same time, Lithuania is among the top five states of the EU where people are being employed for meagre salaries. The sad reality of this trend is evident in historical records showing an unprecedented drop in the population of this Baltic country, falling from 3.7 million back in 1990 to 2.8 million in 2016 – a 25% decline. Income inequality and the striking poverty of some Lithuanian residents is only getting worse over time, putting Lithuania on the list of the poorest EU states. A typical resident would pay a third of his monthly salary in a bid to get access to healthcare services.

It’s not surprising that for many years Lithuania has had the largest number of suicide cases in the EU. Therefore, it is quite understandable why Lithuania remains a country that consumes more alcohol than any other, as it’s been stated by the World Health Organization (WHO). A similar situation can be seen in other Eastern European countries, that are being described, according to Der Spiegel, as so-called “second speed EU states … Apart from migration additional factors exacerbate the problem namely: low birth and increasing death rates.

The long list of domestic social problems in the Baltic states has been largely ignored by media engaged in a massive Russophobia campaign promoted by Washington. Rolandas Paksas, the former president of Lithuania summed up the results of the post-Soviet period in the history of the republic in March. In his opinion, nothing has been done in the past twenty-seven years of independence nor has anything been built. Therefore, as Paksas points out, every year there are fewer and fewer people in Lithuania, and the life of those who remain is only becoming more difficult.

In general terms Eastern Europe’s population is shrinking like no other regional population in modern history. The population has declined dramatically in war ridden countries like Syria as well as in some advanced economies in peacetime, like Japan. But a population drop throughout a whole region and over decades has never been observed in the world since the 1950s with the exception of Southern Europe in the last five years and Eastern Europe over the last 25 consecutive years. The UN estimated that there were about 292 million people in Eastern Europe last year, 18 million less than in the early 1990s, that’s more than the population of the Netherlands disappearing from the region. The fall corresponds to a drop of six per cent – moreover, the trend continues

  • Lithuania 12%
  • Latvia 12%
  • Ukraine 9%
  • Hungary 8.5%
  • Romania 7%
  • Bulgaria 6%
  • Estonia 1.5%
  • Poland 0.5%
  • Russia, slight increase
  • Slovakia, slight increase
  • Czech Republic, slight increase.

But the most drastic consequences of the “post-communist breakdown” have been experienced by Ukraine – once one of the most developed republics of the USSR. If in the early 1990s there were 52 million people in the republic, now the population does not exceed 42 million. So much for the revolution of dignity and prospect of freedom democracy and abundance promised by the EU. The Kiev Institute of Demography estimates a population of 32 million by 2050 or perhaps sooner. According to recent polls, 35% of Ukrainians declared their readiness to emigrate usually to other Eastern European states; particularly Russia and Poland. The process accelerated after Ukraine received a visa-free regime with the EU: about 100,000 people leave the country every month. Ukraine is not so much a failing state, it is more a dying state.

In geopolitical terms a recognisable global configuration has since the 1990s come into being. This consists of a top down US-Zionist structure resting upon a West European layer of semi-comprador states, which in turns rests upon completely comprador regimes in Eastern Europe as was the case during their years of Soviet domination.

Unfortunately for them neo-liberalism and Russophobia didn’t put food on the table. The peoples of Eastern Europe have been subjected to a three-card confidence trick of ‘find the lady’ a card game practised by petty thieves on dumb overseas tourists in the streets of central London during the tourist season. It may work for a time, but ultimately the deteriorating conditions of life are and will be such that there will be a search for alternatives. But given their abject servility ‘will be’ should be perhaps be less likely than ‘may be’.

NOTES

*Mercantilism: economic theory and practice common in Europe from the 16th to the 18th century that promoted governmental regulation of a nation’s economy for the purpose of augmenting state power at the expense of rival national powers. It was the economic counterpart of political absolutism. Its 17th-century publicists—most notably Thomas Mun in England, Jean-Baptiste Colbert in France, and Antonio Serra in Italy.

  1. Monthly Review Press – 1967
  2. National System of Political Economy – Friedrich List – p.141 – 1841
  3. The New World Order in Action – Takis Fotopolous – pp.156/157
  4. The Case Against the Global Economy – Jerry Mander, et al.
  5. Source: – Trading Economics.
  6. Source: – Pocket World in Figures – The Economist 2020 edition.
  7. Killing the Host – Michael Hudson -2015
  8. The total fertility rate in a specific year is defined as the total number of children that would be born to each woman if she were to live to the end of her child-bearing years and give birth to children in alignment with the prevailing age-specific fertility rates. It is calculated by totalling the age-specific fertility rates as defined over five-year intervals. Assuming no net migration and unchanged mortality, a total fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman ensures a broadly stable population.

هذا ما ينتظر لبنان… ثلاثة سيناريوات محتملة!

 د. فادي علي قانصو

إن ّالأوضاع السياسية الهشّة التي شهدها لبنان خلال العقدين المنصرمين من فراغ على المستوى الرئاسي والحكومي والتشريعي، إضافة إلى العجوزات المتراكمة في المالية العامة، والمُماطلة في تنفيذ الإصلاحات المالية والهيكلية اللازمة، لا سيّما لناحية مكافحة الفساد وتعزيز أُطر المحاسبة والحوكمة للدولة اللبنانية، جميعها عوامل أرخت أوزارها على عامل الثقة وعلى اضطراد توافد الرساميل إلى لبنان، وأثقلت كاهل الاقتصاد اللبناني الذي أصبح اليوم بأمسّ الحاجة إلى بيئة سياسية واقتصادية خصبة وحاضنة على كافّة الصُعد.

في الواقع، لقد كثُرت في الآونة الأخيرة التحليلات والتوقعات التي قد ترسم ملامح المرحلة المقبلة في لبنان خاصةً في المدى المنظور إلى المتوسّط. عليه، فإنّ تقييم كافة المؤشرات الاقتصادية بالترافق مع قراءة معمّقة لكلّ ما استجدّ من أحداث مترابطة على الصعُد المحلية والإقليمية وحتى العالمية، تجعلنا نستنتج بأنّ ما ينتظر لبنان في المرحلة المقبلة ثلاث سيناريوات محتملة لا بديل عنها.

بدايةً مع السيناريو الأفضل (أو السيناريو التفاؤلي)، وهو رهن الاستقرار السياسي والأمني في لبنان وفي المنطقة بشكل خاص. إنّ هذا السيناريو المُحتمل مرتبط بشكل رئيسي بتأثير الانتخابات الرئاسية المقبلة في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية على المنطقة، وذلك في ضوء هزيمة، على ما يبدو مرتقبة حتى الآن، للرئيس الأميركي الحالي دونالد ترامب في الانتخابات الرئاسية في تشرين الثاني المقبل، ما من شأن ذلك أن يحمل في طيّاته ارتياحاً إقليمياً ومحلياً في ظلّ الحصار الاقتصادي الخانق على إيران وسورية ولبنان، لا سيّما أنّ المرشح عن الحزب الديمقراطي جو بايدن يعتقد أنّ الاتفاق النووي كان يخدم مقصده في ما يتعلّق بعرقلة مسارات طهران المحتملة إلى القنبلة النووية وأنّ موقف الولايات المتحدة الأميركية أصبح أسوأ بعد انسحابها من الاتفاق.

في الواقع، إنّ سيناريو كهذا ينبغي أن يترافق حُكماً مع برنامج إنقاذ شامل ينخرط فيه صندوق النقد الدولي من أجل إعطاء مصداقية للمساعي الإصلاحية المطروحة وتعزيز القدرة على استقطاب المساعدات المرجوّة من الخارج. إذ لا يمكن أن يتحقق النهوض الاقتصادي الآمن في لبنان من دون المساعدات الخارجية نظراً إلى الثغرات التمويلية الكبيرة التي أصبح لبنان يعاني منها اليوم، ودور صندوق النقد بشكل خاص محوري كونه الضمانة الأساسية للحكومة لتنفيذ الإصلاحات الموعودة، كما يشكّل الضمانة للدول المانحة بشكل عام وتحديداً دول الخليج. ومع أنه لم يجرِ الكشف حتى الآن عن حجم الدعم المالي الذي سيقدّمه الصندوق، إلا أنّ لبنان يحاول الحصول على عشرة أضعاف حصته في صندوق النقد الدولي والمقدّرة بحوالي 880 مليون دولار، مما قد يعوَّل عليه لتحرير جزء من مساعدات مؤتمر «سيدر» والتي تصل في الإجمالي إلى 11 مليار دولار. وبالتالي فإنّ ضخ ما يوازي 20 إلى 25 مليار دولار خلال السنوات الخمس المقبلة كفيل بإحداث صدمة إيجابية تُعيد ضخّ الدمّ من جديد في شرايين الاقتصاد الوطني المتعطّشة إلى السيولة بالعملات الأجنبية، ما من شأن ذلك أن يُؤمّن الاستقرار الاقتصادي المنشود والقادر على إخراج لبنان من فخّ الركود في فترة لا تتجاوز العامين، وذلك بالتوازي مع استقرار مالي ونقدي من شأنه أن يوحّد أسعار الصرف عند مستويات تعكس القيمة الحقيقية لليرة اللبنانية مقابل الدولار والتي لا تتجاوز عتبة الـ 5.000 ليرة لبنانية للدولار الأميركي الواحد كحدّ أقصى. وهو ما كانت تطمح إليه فعلياً خطة الإصلاح الحكومية التي أُقرّت في نيسان المنصرم، قبل أن تنقلب عليها الحكومة مؤخراً وتنطلق إلى البحث عن خطة بديلة، شرط أن يتغيّر النهج السائد في طريقة التعامل مع الملفّ الاقتصادي وإطلاق جدّي وسريع لعجلة الإصلاحات الهيكلية المطلوبة.

وفق تقديراتنا، فإنّ سيناريو كهذا لا يبدو أنه قد يتحقق في المدى المنظور، بل قد يحتاج إلى ما يقارب العام على الأقلّ حتى تتبلور معالم أيّ تسوية مرتقبة في المنطقة بشكل عام، لا سيّما أن الإدارة الجديدة لبايدن، في حال فوزه، لن تكون قادرة بهذه السهولة على عكس نتائج سياسات ترامب المتشدّدة التي غيّرت المشهد السياسي الإيراني بطرق تجعل الدبلوماسية أكثر صعوبة في المستقبل، خاصّةً أنه من المرجح أن يبقى إرث ترامب بسياساته الخارجية رابضاً لفترة ليست بقصيرة بعد رحيله. والسؤال الذي يُطرح هنا، هل أنّ الاقتصاد اللبناني قادر فعلياً على الصمود لعام أو أكثر؟

في الواقع، إنّ الإجابة على هذا السؤال تضعنا أمام السيناريو الثاني، أو سيناريو المراوحة، وهو الأكثر احتمالاً حتى هذه اللحظة في ظلّ هذا التراخي المُستهجن من قبل الدولة اللبنانية. ويفترض هذا السيناريو أنّ لبنان لن يحقّق أي خرق جدّي على صعيد الإصلاحات الهيكلية الضرورية أو حتى على صعيد مفاوضاته مع صندوق النقد الدولي لا سيّما في ظلّ غياب التوافق على أرقام الخسائر المالية بين مختلف العملاء الاقتصاديين حتى الآن، وبالتزامن مع فرضية أنّ لبنان باقٍ في عين العاصفة الإقليمية، أيّ دون تغيير ملموس في السياسة الأميركية المتّبعة في المنطقة في ما يخص ملفات إيران وسورية وحزب الله. وهو ما ينطبق فعلياً في حال فاز دونالد ترامب لولاية ثانية أو حتى لا تبدو هذه الفرضية مستبعدة نظرياً في حال فاز منافسه جو بايدن الذي على ما يبدو ليس بوارد التراجع عن «قانون قيصر» أقلّه في المدى القريب، وهو الذي يشارك ترامب في العديد من وجهات النظر حول السلوك الإقليمي لإيران والاقتناع بأنه لا ينبغي السماح لإيران أبداً بأن تصبح دولة مسلّحة نووياً. في ظلّ هذا السيناريو، فإنّ احتياطيات مصرف لبنان الأجنبية والبالغة اليوم حوالي 20 مليار دولار (دون احتساب احتياطيات لبنان من الذهب والمقدّرة بحوالي 16 مليار دولار)، ستبقى عرضة للاستنزاف المستمرّ منذ ما يقارب العام نتيجة تمويل حاجات الاقتصاد الوطني الأساسية من النفط والقمح والأدوية. عليه، فإذا اعتبرنا بأنّ حاجات لبنان من العملات الصعبة تُقدّر بحوالي 10 مليارات دولار سنوياً (بعدما تقلّصت إلى النصف في ظلّ التراجع الملحوظ في حجم الاستيراد)، فإنّ احتياطيات المركزي قد تكفي «نظرياً» لما يقارب العامين حتى تُستنزف بالكامل.

غير أنّ هذا الاستنزاف التدريجي في الاحتياطيات الأجنبية ستكون له تداعيات خطيرة على سعر صرف الليرة مقابل الدولار الأميركي وبالتالي على القدرة الشرائية ومعدلات البطالة ونسب الفقر المدقع، بحيث من المتوقع أن يتّبع سعر الصرف مساراً تقلبيّاً تصاعدياً ليبلغ مستويات قياسية وهمية قد يصعُب توقّع سقوفها، لا سيّما أن العوامل الهيكلية التي تساهم عادةً في تخفيض سعر الصرف في السوق السوداء تبدو غائبة تماماً اليوم، أولّها الحاجة إلى عرض أو ضخّ للدولار عن طريق توافد رساميل من الخارج على شكل ودائع أو قروض أو مساعدات أو هبات. ثانيها، كبح الطلب على الدولار نتيجة تعزّز عامل الثقة بالليرة اللبنانية (والطلب، بالعكس، إلى ارتفاع نتيجة طبع كميات كبيرة من الليرات لتمويل حاجات الدولة). وثالثها، تدخّل للمصرف المركزي في السوق نتيجة تعزّز احتياطياته بالعملات الأجنبية (وهو اليوم غير قادر فعلياً على المراوغة في ظلّ الضغط المستمرّ على احتياطياته نتيجة تمويله حاجات لبنان الأساسية). وبالتالي، فإنّ كلّ محاولات القمع أو الملاحقات القضائية والأمنية التي يمكن أن تطال صرافي السوق السوداء، وإنْ تبقى ضرورية منعاً لتفلّت السوق، لن تساهم في خفض ملموس في سعر الصرف طالما أنّ قوى العرض والطلب تتصارع على حلبة سوق الصرف والغلبة المضمونة حتى هذه اللحظة للطلب الشرس على الدولار الأميركي. تجدر الإشارة هنا إلى أنّ حجم سوق الصرف السوداء في لبنان لا يتعدّى 15% من إجمالي السوق، إلا أنها تبقى هي المتحكّمة في سعر الصرف الموازي، كونها الجهة الوحيدة القادرة اليوم على توفير الأوراق النقدية بالدولار الأميركي، مع العلم بأنّ المصارف اللبنانية قادرة على توفير هذه الأوراق النقدية من خلال الأموال المحوّلة حديثاً أو «الأموال الطازجة» الوافدة عبر حسابات مصرفية خاصة تسمّى بالحسابات الخارجية، إلا أنّ هذه الأوراق النقدية تتجّه إما إلى المنازل أو تُحوّل مباشرةً إلى الليرة اللبنانية في السوق السوداء للاستفادة من سعر الصرف المرتفع. من هنا، وفي ظلّ سيناريو كهذا، فإنّ لبنان قد يلجأ مُرغماً إلى «تسوّل» بعض المساعدات الإنسانية من مواد نفطية وغذائية وطبّية، كحدّ أقصى، إذا ما طالت فترة المراوحة.

أما السيناريو الثالث، أيّ السيناريو الأسوأ (أو السيناريو التشاؤمي)، فهو قابل للتحقّق إذا ما طالت فترة السيناريو الثاني (أيّ سيناريو المراوحة) لأكثر من عام ونصف العام، أو حتى إذا ما ترافق السيناريو الثاني مع مواجهة عسكرية قريبة قد تنطلق من جبهة الجنوب اللبناني (وإنْ تبدو مستبعدة في الوقت الراهن)، أو تزامن مع اضطرابات سياسية وأمنيّة في الشارع بين مختلف مكوّنات المجتمع السياسي اللبناني قد تدفعنا باتجاه «الفوضى الخلّاقة»، أو مع اضطرابات اجتماعية قد تدفع إلى ارتفاع معدّل الجريمة وحالات النشل والسرقة، أو حتى قد تدفع بالحكومة الحالية إلى الاستقالة تحت ضغط التحركات الشعبية في الشارع إذا ما استمرّ الوضع الاقتصادي والمعيشي في التردّي، ما يعني الدخول في فراغ سياسي طويل قد يكون مدمّراً، لا قدّر الله، لما تبقّى من أنقاض للاقتصاد اللبناني.

إنّ هذا السيناريو، للأسف، قد تردّد صداه في الآونة الأخيرة في أروقة بعض الباحثين الدوليّين تحت مسمّى «صَوْمَلة» لبنان، أيّ تحويل لبنان إلى صومال ثانٍ. إلا أنّ تفادي سيناريو كهذا ممكن جدّاً وهو يتطلّب منّا أقصى درجات الوعي والحكمة، مع إجماع داخلي وانخراط ملائم لكافة قوى المجتمع اللبناني، ومع الحاجة إلى تقديم كلّ التنازلات الملحّة وتخفيض منسوب التباينات وتعزيز القواسم المشتركة في ما بيننا، ناهيك عن أنّ كلّ المؤشرات تدلّ على أنّ المجتمع الدولي لا يزال حريصاً على دعم الاستقرار الأمني والاجتماعي في لبنان وعلى تفادي الفوضى على الساحة المحلية.

في الختام، لا شكّ بأنّ لبنان يتأرجح اليوم بين السيناريو الأفضل (أو السيناريو التفاؤلي) الذي يبقى رهن تسوية سياسية إقليمية تحمل معها ارتياحاً نسبياً على الساحة المحلية، وبين السيناريو الأسوأ (أو السيناريو التشاؤمي) الذي يبقى لُغماً متفجّراً يتربّص بنا، ولكننا قادرون على تخطّيه بوحدتنا ووعينا الجماعي. وبانتظار ما ستؤول إليه الأوضاع في المدى القريب، فإنّ سيناريو المراوحة يبقى هو الغالب في الوقت الراهن، وبما أننا لم نعد نملك ترف الوقت، فإنّ أيّ تلكّؤ في اتخاذ كافّة الإجراءات اللازمة لكسر حلقة المراوحة، قد يكون استنزافياً ويجرّنا في نهاية المطاف نحو سيناريو هو أكثر ما نخشاه، نظراً لتداعياته المؤلمة على الاستقرار السياسي والأمني والاقتصادي والاجتماعي في البلاد. من هنا، ينبغي أن نحافظ على إيماننا رغم صعوبة ودقّة الوضع الراهن دون أن ننسى أننا مررنا بفترات عصيبة في تاريخ لبنان الحديث وكنّا نقول في كلّ مرّة أنها آخر الدنيا وقد استطعنا أن نتجاوز هذه الخضّات مع الوقت بصلابتنا وعقيدتنا، دون أن نغفل للحظة بأنه «ليس عاراً أن نُنكَب، ولكنه عارٌ إذا كانت النكبات تحوّلنا من أشخاص أقوياء إلى أشخاص جبناء».

*خبير اقتصادي وأستاذ جامعي

Sayyed Nasrallah’s Full Speech on July 7, 2020: The Day He Launched Battle to Confront Economic Crisis

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Sayyed Nasrallah’s Full Speech on July 7, 2020: The Day He Launched Battle to Confront Economic Crisis
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Translated by Staff

Televised speech by Hezbollah’s Secretary General, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, on the latest local and regional developments (7/7/2020)

I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan. In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and prayers and peace be upon our Master and Prophet, the Seal of Prophets, Abi al-Qassem Muhammad Bin Abdullah and his good and pure household and his good and chosen companions and all the prophets and messengers.

Peace and Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you all. 

I apologize for the delay. We took up a few minutes for prayer time. God willing, we will address this matter in the future.

In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Merciful. Before I begin talking about tonight’s main topics, I would like to briefly shed light on some occasions.

First, we are nearing the anniversary of the July 2006 war, which the “Israeli” enemy calls the second Lebanon war. It was a war in the full sense of the word.

We remember the enormous sacrifices, the great victories, and the great failure of the American-“Israeli” project in our region that was called the New Middle East.

I just wanted to say as the anniversary is nearing – from July 12 to August 14 – that we have ample time to talk about this war and this occasion as well as speak with the families of the martyrs, the wounded, the mujahideen, those who made sacrifices, were patient, gave their support, the victors, and about those defeated in this war.

The anniversary of the defeat of the takfiri terrorists that were controlling the Jaroud in the Bekaa area is coming in a few days. The Jaroud, as the Lebanese people remember, was liberated in two stages. The first stage was following the confrontation with the Nusra Front. The second stage was following the confrontations with Daesh. The former stage was achieved in the month of July around this time.

The third occasion that I would like to point to is the tenth anniversary of the passing of His Eminence Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, who was a compassionate father, a wise guide, and a strong pillar in all stages. He was all this to us and to this faithful, jihadi, and resisting generation.

After ten years, we still feel that his pure spirit is with us. I am repeating the same text that was in the obituary ten years ago. We feel that his pure spirit, his kind words, his kind smile, and his solid positions have remained in us, will continue to guide us, and be a strong renewed motivation for us to persist and continue jihad.

This is the last point in the introduction. In the past few days, we lost a great scholar and investigator, who came from a long line of scholars and martyrs. His Eminence, the late Allamah Sheikh Mohammad Jaafar Shamseddine, may he rest in peace. He provided Islam, the Islamic culture and thought as well as the youth and the Hawzas with great scientific and educational services. He was also a supporter and a backer of the resistance in Lebanon through all the stages. He made great efforts, even risking his well-being, to unite all the ranks, and face sedition during the most difficult days of the resistance.

On behalf of Hezbollah and myself, I extend our deepest condolences and heart-felt sympathies to his honorable family. And I ask God Almighty to grant them patience and solace and receive him in His mercy. May He accommodate him in his spacious paradise and join him with his loved ones and with Muhammad and his pure household (peace be upon them all).

I intend to discuss three topics.

First part: The economic and the living situation in Lebanon as well as the attempts to address and confront it – this is the Lebanese people’s daily concern

Second part: Lebanese politics

Third part: Regional developments

Before we start talking about the first topic, things must be corrected and stirred in the right direction. The current situation people are living – at the financial, economic, and political levels – requires unity among all Lebanese and cooperation. Therefore, I do not want to enter into quarrels with anyone regarding everything I will present or say, but rather I will try to be as positive as I can. 

Economic collapse or starvation doesn’t affect one area of Lebanon or one group. Unfortunately, some speak this language. So, anyone trying to confront this must do so with the awareness of how to solve the problem for all Lebanese in every area. I should not only care about my people, area, or a couple of villages. It should be a national approach. 

This cannot be simply be disassembled or simplified as some people think. We need a continuous integrated national effort. Each one of us must think of all the Lebanese people and residents on Lebanese territory. This includes the Palestinian refugees, the displaced Syrians, non-Lebanese residents residing in Lebanon. 

At the end of the day when certain things collapse or certain dangers occur, the repercussions will be on everyone. This is a main issue that should be present in any approach. The approach should stem from what our humanity, morals, our religion, and our patriotism tell us. 

Based on the aforementioned, I said that we need to correct some things to be on the right track. 
In the context of correction, when we raised the issue of turning eastward, I was clear in my last speech that this didn’t mean turning our back on the West. I was clear when I said that we must be open to the whole world except “Israel”. 

And I had the courage to say that even though America is an enemy in our political and cultural thought, we will not be an obstacle if it is going to help Lebanon, like any country in the world, and take it out of its crisis.

Turning eastward does not mean being cut off from the rest of the world. On the contrary, it’s turning east, west, north, and south. Turning to any country except for the usurper entity. Any country that is ready can come to Lebanon, invest in Lebanon, work in Lebanon, put deposits in the central bank, provide aid and loans, open lines of credit. We’re completely open to this.

Unfortunately, some tried to improperly classify the matter and say we’re pitting one axis in Lebanon against the other. We never said this. Some have said that the U.S. and the West are Lebanon’s indispensable oxygen. We are not asking you to cut it off. Breathe it. But my question is what will you do if the U.S. cuts it off? Will you die or look for another source of oxygen to stay alive?

We do not want to cut off oxygen from anyone in Lebanon at all. We are also putting all our ideological, jihadist, and political considerations aside, with the exception of the “Israeli” issue. I say, let Lebanon be open to everyone so that it can overcome this difficult stage.

Others said that the goal of turning eastward was to change the face of Lebanon’s civilization and the identity of its economic system – honestly when one looks at the comments and responses, he can only laugh at them – as if Lebanon isn’t in the Middle East but in South or North America. Lebanon is part of the East. Nobody raised this matter. 

For example, if we said that China is going to invest in Lebanon and will commit to projects without taking a penny from the Lebanese state, that is according to the B.O.T. format, does that mean we want to transform Lebanon’s economic structure into a communist or socialist one? This talk is just to disrupt. It is not based on any reason.

Regarding Iran, some said we are trying to turn Lebanon into an Iranian model. We never said this. All we said was that we have a friend called Iran who can sell us fuel/petroleum byproducts in Lebanese pounds. We are asking it for help. Otherwise, they need hard currency, they need dollars and the euros.

When the Iranians accept to sell Lebanon fuel/petroleum byproducts in Lebanese liras, they are making a big sacrifice. What does this have to do with applying the Iranian model or the Iranian economic model. It is like “Lebanon is on the Mediterranean Sea; thus, Brazil exists.” What does this have to do with that? It is just intended to scare and intimidate people and instill doubt. 

Even though we do not have a problem regarding this matter. We only have a few countries in the world that we are friends with or have relations with. We have no problem with you bringing fuel/petroleum byproducts to Lebanon using Lebanese pounds. We will not be intimidated. We will not accuse you of imposing their model onto Lebanon. 

Also, you can rest assured. Lebanon doesn’t currently have the components to be transformed into the Iranian model, not that the Iranian model is a bad thing. The Iranian model enabled Iran to withstand 40 years of wars, sanctions, and blockade. Iran eats what it grows. It has a semi self-sufficient agriculture. It has advanced industries and very sophisticated military industry.

A few months ago, Iran sent a satellite into space. The Iranian model has self-sufficiency in gasoline, diesel, fuel and electricity. It sells electricity and fuel to neighboring countries. It produces over 90% of its medicinal needs. It also sells medicine to neighboring countries.

Hence, this model produces results. Why are you scared of it? Nonetheless, Lebanon doesn’t have the components for the Iranian model. So, rest assured. 

If the brothers in Iran extended a helping hand to their brothers in Lebanon in some way, this should be respected and appreciated, and not a point of intimidation or skepticism.

Iran has withstood 40 years of sanctions and still is. Of course, it has a problem with the hard currency because the world is connected to the dollar, to New York, to America, and to this process. This is problem of the world today. The dollar is what is left of the America’s strength, apart from the military power. The U.S. holds on to the dollar and imposes financial and economic sanctions. However, despite all the threats and the sanctions, Iran was steadfast for 40 years. No country in the world, regardless of its economic model, would have been able to resist for 40 years the way Iran did amid all the wars, sanctions, and blockade.  

Look at Lebanon. It was subject to some sanctions and intimidation, and some people and political forces are ready to cave in and abandon everything.

In any case, we said we did not want to create debates. But I would like to reassure everyone that no one is trying to impose the Iranian model on Lebanon’s economy or change the face of Lebanon’s civilization. We do not want to transform the economic system into a communist or a socialist system.

All we mean by turning eastward is that since France won’t disburse CEDRE funds, the U.S. is imposing sanctions, and the Arab countries won’t help for different reasons, we should accept help from whomever offers.

So, if China, Iran, Iraq, Russia, or any country in the world – be it in the east or the west – is ready to provide assistance, Lebanon should be open to it. It must communicate with this country. It must look for opportunities.

This is just to clarify matters.

We come to where we are today. When approaching the economic, living, financial, and monetary crisis, we must talk about them while people keep pace. We all must have the knowledge and the awareness so that we can together face this challenge and threat.

A lot of the Lebanese have political awareness and culture. Many of them have awareness and culture of the economic and financial issue. But we must generalize this culture so that we can all keep pace and shoulder the responsibilities.

The first part:

There are two levels in the economic crisis.

The first level: There is a big and huge topic when talking about getting Lebanon out of its economic crisis and reaching a stage of economic recovery and stability. This is because there is a debt of about 80 billion to one hundred billion dollars. We have deep economic crises. There is a discussion regarding the old and current economic policies. This is a big topic, of course, that needs the state with all its institutions, the society, and perhaps external help. We are not talking about this topic. 

The second level: There are risks of economic and financial collapse. There are risks of hunger. How do we prevent economic collapse and hunger and their repercussions on the Lebanese people and residents in Lebanon?

We are talking about the second level. How do we prevent collapse and starvation? This must be addressed first before we can deal with the first level.

Of course, if we can achieve this, we will enable the country, the state, the government, the state institutions, the army, the Lebanese people, and the security forces to withstand and continue the path in addressing the first level – getting out of the economic crisis. 

So today I will be talking about several points related to the second level.

1- The first thing we call for when talking about the second level is that we shouldn’t confine ourselves to one path in trying to prevent collapse like confining ourselves to IMF negotiations and awaiting their results before starting on alternative paths. What if these talks fail in six months or a year? Do we only then start looking?

We must not derail this path – negotiations with the IMF. But we must open up all possible pathways that would prevent Lebanon’s collapse and starvation. On this basis, we spoke about a set of ideas, and the topic of turning eastward came up in the general methodology. There must not be a state of despair or surrender among the Lebanese people. Passive waiting must not take over the general performance – to wait and see what the IMF will decide; will the U.S. forgive Lebanon or not? What are the developments that might take place in the region? by doing so, we are not being active. Rather we are waiting passively. This is wrong.

As a state and a people, we must be active. We should not stay home and wait. Whatever path can be opened, we must open it. Whatever path leads to a solution, even if we are not sure it will to results, we must take it. We must knock on all doors to reach a possible outcome.

Today, the Lebanese state and people are facing a threat – the threat of collapse and starvation. This is the most serious threat that can face a people or a state. Should we give up to the threat? Or should we turn it into an opportunity? I say to all the Lebanese people: we as a state and people – we will not talk about the tripartite equation because we need a different and new equation – are able to turn the threat into an opportunity. This threat can even be an occasion to take very important steps that will not only save Lebanon, but they will also put Lebanon on the track for economic prosperity and not repeating the failed policies of the past.

I will say how. We must have hope, confidence in our ability to rise and transform threats into opportunities, and not despair, surrender, and submit. We must have the mentality that we can do so much when it comes to, for example, moving the wheel of the economy. I will shed light on the agricultural and industrial productions later.

The Lebanese government and we were told that Chinese companies are ready to invest billions of dollars in Lebanon. I will not delve into numbers. It is natural for Lebanon to initiate talks – just as PM Hassan Diab did – and not wait since the Chinese did not talk to us or send us anything. 

You can see that the country is in danger. You as an official must initiate talks with China. Ask the Chinese about their conditions and see whether these conditions are in the interest of Lebanon and if Lebanon can accommodate them. So, we opt for this option instead of waiting around ad putting doubt like some Lebanese people are doing. Some said that China is not ready and has no desire to invest in Lebanon. China will not make a problem with the U.S. for Lebanon. 

Hold on. Why are we disagreeing on this? Let us ask the Chinese. What is the point of diplomacy, the Foreign Ministry, and the people concerned with the economy? Let the Lebanese state – not Hezbollah, the Amal movement, the Free Patriotic movement, or any political party – talk to the Chinese. There should be no mediation regarding this matter.  

If you want an indication of the effectiveness of the Chinese offer, just look at the angry American response, from Pompeo, to Schenker, to US State Department aides, to the US ambassador in Lebanon. All of them started saying that the Chinese aid won’t help. China will spy on Lebanon, as if the CIA isn’t. And if something went wrong regarding the financial obligations, they will confiscate the state’s assets. They started talking in this sense to spread fear. This is evidence that this is a useful and serious option. Otherwise, why else would the Americans do this? Why would they want to launch a clear and open campaign? They are launching this campaign to scare the Lebanese people from doing business with the Chinese. This is only evidence that the Chinese offer will release the American stranglehold on Lebanon, and I’ll talk about that shortly. 

Now, the Lebanese government should contact China, send delegations to China, and engage in direct discussions, and through some media outlets. This is one.

2- We also thank our Iraqi brothers. Ministers from the Iraqi government came and met with Lebanese officials, including the prime minister and competent ministers. There was a positive atmosphere that was reflected in the media. We should follow up on this matter.

I repeat and affirm, Iraq is a very great opportunity for Lebanon. It is an open country, a friendly country, and a loving country. The relationship between Iraq and Lebanon as two countries and two peoples are excellent. Iraq is a very large and capable country economically. We can start cooperation at the level of agriculture, industry, medicine, and tourism – there is mutual religious tourism. All these are opportunities. They will allow the flow of money, create job opportunities, and revive the different sectors. 

We already have naysayers saying we shouldn’t pursue the Iraqi option because the U.S. might pressure the Iraqi government. So, should we just sit and despair? Or should the Lebanese government send a delegation, like the Iraqis did, and continue negotiations to reach results. This is also another option to be explored. 

We spoke about these two propositions. Thank God, there are options to be explored. 

3- The third issue that we raised was the central bank. The central bank has to pay billions of dollars. There is a problem in numbers in Lebanon. But there are billions of dollars to cover Lebanon’s need for oil derivatives. If we asked our brothers in Iran to sell us gasoline, oil, gas, oil derivatives, and diesel in Lebanese pounds, this would relieve pressure off the central bank, which is hard-pressed for dollars. 

This amount, if it is available to the central bank, would allow it to give to the banks to solve the depositors’ problems. 

This proposition has a lot of advantages. I will not talk about them because if I did, it would be understood as putting pressure on the Lebanese. 

I don’t want to speak ahead of the brothers in Iran. but eventually, they will declare an official position. But I can tell the Lebanese people this: I guarantee you this.

In any case, we started discussions and presented it to Lebanese officials. There is a calm discussion regarding this matter. let us see how the matter unfolds away from the media and explanations made in the media. Let us where this option will lead. But this option has great advantages on the assets of Lebanon’s central bank, on banks, on depositors, on agriculture, on industry, on electricity plants, on electricity, on the value of the national currency, on the trade balance. We will talk about this detail later.

Of course, there are some who are spreading doubts and intimidation. What’s the end result we will get? I don’t know, but we must still explore all options, so our conscience is clear – we tried everything to rescue Lebanon economically.

In the same context, the Lebanese government should also initiate. It should contact other states. It seems that there is something of this sort. Let them say no. but at the very least, we are trying and looking for options. 

We must also not forget the option of opening up to Syria. The situation should not remain that the whole country has surrendered to the Caesar Act. We must challenge this law. There are loopholes and exceptions. We must not surrender to this law.

In any case, what does this methodology mean? It means that there is a movement towards confronting hunger and collapse. This gives hope to the Lebanese, meaning that we are not powerless, and we did not surrender. At the same time, it sends a powerful message to the Americans and others who wants to strangle Lebanon: we have alternatives, and you won’t be able to blockade, strangle, starve, or defeat Lebanon. This will force America to despair and to do so quickly. This is the importance of this methodology.

Based on the above, one of the options we have in Lebanon is right in front of us. I am not imposing this option as we have agreed from the beginning that there are more than one road and more than one choice. Decades of economic policies in the country – I will not criticize whether they were right or wrong – turned Lebanon into a service-oriented economy with the focus on the banking sector, tourism – that is airport expansion and building ports, highways, and hotels. A country reliant on the service industry. 

These policies were within a vision – a true or false vision is another discussion. What happened due to these policies? These policies led to collapse of two sectors: the agricultural and industrial sectors. These two sectors remained steadfast despite all the conditions that Lebanon went through before and during the civil war and after the invasion in 1982 to 1990s.

The policies that were adopted led to the collapse of these two sectors. In the agricultural sector, you find that the farmer is not supported. There is no budget. There is no financing of agricultural projects. There are no agricultural investments. This of course increases the cost of production. When the farmers are not being supported with the production costs, the cost of production becomes increases. When the cost of production increases, it would difficult for marketing this agricultural product in the Lebanese or foreign markets since other produce are cheaper. Thus, the farmer will be forced to throw them on the streets like we see every year.

Also, some invested in the agricultural sector when the rates the central bank or the banks were high. This person looked at the profit he would be from investing in agriculture or industry. It is more or less 5 or 10%. So, he put his money in the bank and waited for his profit. Basically, these policies destroyed the agricultural and industrial sectors. Thus, we became a consumer country, a country that buys everything. We even import basic foodstuffs from abroad. We became almost completely a consumer country.

Now, we’re feeling the mistake and the danger. But we can still turn this into an opportunity and address the problem. The Lebanese people are afraid of collapse and hunger. What should we do? We have to turn Lebanon into a productive country, regardless of the international economic situation. 

Regardless of the future of the world economy after COVID-19, whatever happens to the U.S. economy or the economy in the region, being productive is essential for any country to live a decent life. Can we survive without oxygen? Can we live without water? Agriculture and industry are like oxygen and water to any people. Former policies asked us to live off imported oxygen and water. I’m just giving an analogy here. our industry and agriculture were put aside. Everything we wear, use, eat, and drink should come from abroad. Today, we can change the equation and start producing.

Here lies the responsibility of the Lebanese state, the Council of Ministers, the Parliament, and officials. Meanwhile, the people’s responsibility is to support the state. We must all cooperate. The Lebanese state should revive the agricultural and industrial sectors. All the political forces as well as the parliamentary blocs, the government, and the officials should all shoulder their responsibilities in reviving these sectors to enable the country to stand on its feet and prevent it from going hungry. The Lebanese people also have a responsibility. They are a big part of this battle and its main driving force.

In other words, we must plant. We have vast swathes of arable land. Lebanon’s climate is suitable as is the environment. It has rivers and springs. The water is only wasted because it flows into the Mediterranean. Land reclamation for agriculture is not a difficult and complicated process if all the possibilities are available. So, what do we need?

We need to make a decision. We need will power and start planting. Let us take the agricultural sector and based on it approach the industrial issue. What do we need?

First, the people should believe in the option to cultivate. Secondly, there should be motivation, will, and determination. Thirdly, we have to cultivate the land. We as Lebanese people, state, political parties, cooperatives, merchants, etc. should help people who are cultivating and reduce the cost of production. We should help those planting and producing sell their produce in the local and external markets. We should cooperate in this whole process. We need guidance; what should be cultivated and how much. The same goes to industry. We might start with craft (handmade) industry or something to do with food that is low cost because we want to stave of hunger. This is the path required now.

What I am saying today is on behalf of Hezbollah and not the Lebanese government. on behalf of Hezbollah, we call on the Lebanese people to fight the battle of reviving the agricultural and industrial sectors. We call for an agricultural and industrial renaissance as a necessary condition for resilience, facing hunger, and living in dignity.

This matter was part of our interests. But our priority was and still is resistance. Then we have the political work. We also have activities related to agriculture and craft industry as well as of social and medical nature. But these activities are limited.

But today we in Hezbollah took the decision to confront collapse and hunger. We say that this is Lebanon’s battle, just as the resistance’s military battles to liberate the land or to fight the takfiri terrorists are Lebanon’s and the Lebanese people’s battles, even though some are not fighting them. This is Lebanon’s battle as well as the Lebanese people’s and people residing on Lebanese territory. Everyone should be fighting it.

That is why the entirety of Hezbollah will be fully committed to this, not just a certain apparatus, unit, or institution. 

Today, I want to announce that we have taken the decision that all of Hezbollah, with its human and material capabilities, relationships, friendships, and alliances will be at the heart of this confrontation, challenge, and battle. And we want to cooperate with everyone, just as we did in the fight against COVID-19. We came out in full force. We saw how the situation in the country was when all the Lebanese people cooperated with each other in the fight against the pandemic – even though we need to emphasize on this again. 

In the same context, I would like to address the supporters of the resistance and tell them that in the past decades and years, we adopted the slogan: “Where we should be, we will be”. So, we were present wherever we were needed. We achieved victory and accomplished goals during every challenge; this is what happened during the resistance and liberation battle, during the confrontations with the takfiri terrorists, and in the face of projects, such as the new Middle East. We assessed whether the challenges required us to be there, and we achieved victory.

Today, I would like to tell our brothers and sisters, men and women, young and old, in the battle of agriculture and industry, we will be where we are required. We will be in this new field.

In other words, we must all become farmers and manufacturers, within the available capabilities. Being a farmer is not shameful. It is a glory and not shameful when our young and old plough the land and cultivate it. Many of the prophets, messengers, and saints throughout history were farmers and peasants grazing sheep, livestock, etc. We have to be farmers not only to save ourselves but also to save our country. We are thinking about all the Lebanese areas and all the Lebanese people. 

Now some may say that Hezbollah is only concerned about its people and its environment. We’re concerned about all Lebanese areas, factions, and people. We are human being with morals and faith. We are nationalists. This is how we think. This is how we think because we are humane. To all my brothers and sisters, this is the new phase we must confront. Wherever we have potential arable land, even a front yard, balconies, and rooftops in Dahiyeh and in cities, we must cultivate it. This is our new battle. 

As for how to agricultural guidance and reducing the cost of production, we will talk about them in future addresses. We have a complete vision on this matter, and we have extended our hand to everyone. 

The same applies to the industrial sector. As I said, we should opt for light homemade products and food products that do not cost much. We have to follow in the footsteps of other people who attained their independence. When we eat what we plant and wear what we manufacture, then we are a people worthy of independence, freedom, dignity, and sovereignty. Here we go back and open the file of the national industry and import from abroad. All these details will come later.

The date 7-7-2020 (Tuesday) is an easy one to remember. Let us say that on this day we want to declare an agricultural and industrial jihad at the popular level. This is not an official decision. In 1988, the resistance in Lebanon was not established by a government or official decision, but rather a popular decision. Today, we should head towards agricultural and industrial jihad, resistance, or renaissance. Call it what you want, we’ll decide on a name later, but this should be our direction.

We should engage in an organized work or individual initiatives. All the Lebanese must cooperate. Popular efforts must also integrate with the efforts of the state to overcome the stage of hunger, the stage of collapse, and the stage of fear and anxiety. We should establish a strategic exit from the coming economic crisis.

The second part: 

Regarding domestic politics, I want to confine myself to one issue that we consider dangerous in Lebanon – the American interference and blatant performance of the State Department in Lebanon, particularly that of the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon.

During the past few months, since Ambassador Shea came to Lebanon – welcome to and to the other ambassadors – we’ve seen the way has been acting in Lebanon – as military governor, a high commissioner, or someone with military authority. She expects everyone in Lebanon to fear her, submit to her, appease to her, listen to her, appease to her, and ask for her approval.  

When we talk about U.S. interference, we can say that they are numerous. As I have mentioned, her movements were clear and blatant. For example, what is the U.S. ambassador’s business with financial appointments. What right does she have in accepting this person and refusing that? This happened, and she spoke with many officials and threatened many others. She demanded that a certain person be appointed deputy governor of the central bank. She also demanded that if this certain person was not appointed deputy governor, then he must be appointed as head of the Banking Control Commission. Some might say that this is not a new thing. 

What is new is that today this matter is being done in the open. All the Lebanese have sensed it. I don’t know what they used to do in the past. Of course, I know. But I don’t have proof. But go ask the officials she spoke to. They’ll tell you the U.S. ambassador told them to appoint specific people and not others as deputy governor of the central bank and if not head of the Banking Control Commission, otherwise the U.S. would withhold funds. Is this how an ambassador should behave? Is this a friendly country or a colonialist country?

This is how a colonialist country acts. Let me give you another example. This might have given some people last week the impression that there will be a change of government and that it will be toppled. This is because they believe and are accustomed to the U.S. being divine. If America said something, then it must be done. 

In the past few days, the U.S. ambassador was quoted by more than one party and person that she said last week that the government is finished, that it must be toppled, and must resign. What is your business? The Lebanese people are the one who determine if the government remains or goes. The Lebanese Parliament determines if the government remains or goes, not the American ambassador or the U.S. State Department. However, she continues to interfere in this issue. She discusses the identity, nature, and composition of the next supposed government. Is this not a blatant interference in Lebanese affairs?

Let me tell you what is more serious and dangerous – the American ambassador appearing on Lebanese, Arab, and non-Arab television channels and attacking a prominent Lebanese party. I do not want to praise Hezbollah and describe its popular, organizational, political and parliamentary size and its impact on the country and the region. Others will talk about this. 

But Hezbollah is a Lebanese party with a huge popular support. It is represented in the parliament and is part of Lebanon’s political life. 

Every day the ambassador attacks Hezbollah, insults it, calls it a terrorist organization, accuses of it stealing and selling drugs, and all this non-sense. Meanwhile, the Lebanese state is silent. However, some politicians, media personnel, and political parties respond to her. But it seems that this lady is comfortable. She sees no problem in insulting, attacking, and offending it on a daily basis.

But what is more dangerous is pitting the Lebanese against each other. The U.S. ambassador is pitting Lebanon’s parties and officials against Hezbollah and its allies, pushing Lebanon towards internal strife and civil war. Should this be met with silence? 

We can add to this the role of the US Embassy in the sanctions, the blockade, the threats, preventing investments in Lebanon, scaring off foreign investors, intimidating the Lebanese officials and government. They are doing this around the clock. This is unacceptable. 

I put this in front of the Lebanese people, all the political forces in Lebanon, the government in Lebanon, and the state in Lebanon, as well as the political forces that claim to be sovereign. An ambassador of country in Lebanon is interfering with appointments, the government, the economic situation, while the Lebanese people are watching. 

Meanwhile, an honorable, brave, patriotic judge made a decision concerning the ambassador’s movement and her dealings with the media. Whether this decision was legitimate or not, constitutional or not, is beside the point. For a Lebanese judge to make such a decision shows that there are honorable and courageous Lebanese judges. The U.S. embassy and the American ambassador were annoyed and demanded an apology from the Lebanese government.

If Lebanon’s ambassador in America spoke about what is happening now in the U.S. and criticized the performance of the Trump administration in dealing with the coronavirus and racism, what would have they done to him? 

We do not want to talk about this issue, but many people stood up to defend freedom of the press in Lebanon. What about Lebanese sovereignty? Defend freedom of the media, but what about Lebanese sovereignty? Are these two things separate? How can freedom and slavery meet? Abandoning sovereignty is slavery. They do not go hand in hand. 

In any case, Judge Mohammad Mazeh made the decision based on his patriotism, awareness, sense of responsibility, and realization that there is an ambassador who is inciting, accusing, insulting, pushes towards sedition, and attacking the Lebanese people.

Personally, because this is the first time I speak after this incident, I am proud of him. We [in Hezbollah] are proud of judge Mohammad Mazeh and in every patriotic, honorable, and brave person who dares in this difficult time to stand in the face of American policies and American administrations because the best kind of jihad is saying the truth in the face of an unjust ruler. 

Today, the most unjust, criminal, terrorist, and brutal ruler on the face of this earth is the American administration. I hope the Lebanese judiciary and the Lebanese Ministry of Justice will reconsider their approach. They should treat this judge and his resignation with the same level of patriotism, honor, courage and respect that he expressed.

Hence, to limit the movement of the ambassador, legal methods must be followed. Great! God willing, the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc will be submitting a petition to the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to summon the U.S. ambassador and ask her to adhere to diplomatic protocol and Vienna Convention. Our deputies will do this. We will not ask other deputies. We do not want to put anyone under the spotlight. This is the first step, but it is not enough.

The people in Lebanon also have a responsibility. Politicians and political forces, the Lebanese people, elites, media personnel, young and old, must raise their voice not in the defense of Hezbollah – we do not want anyone to defend us – but to defend Lebanon. They must raise the voice against starving Lebanon, besieging it, pitting the Lebanese people against each other, the pretentious intervention, the imposition of options or wills on the Lebanese people. You have to defend yourself, or else you can let her be.

Also, in this part, I wish that – I am keen to remain within the limits of decency while addressing her – I request that the U.S. ambassador not appear on our TV stations and lecture us and the Lebanese people about democracy, human rights, and sovereignty. Please do not talk about these because you represent a country that has waged wars, killed and displaced millions, the money and natural resources that you have plundered. Your country is still waging wars and killing all over the world.

Not to mention what is going on in the US, the inhumane actions taken against your people, racial discrimination, etc. You do not have any right to talk about human rights in Lebanon and lecture us. You, your country, and your administration. 

Let’s just talk about America’s behavior in Lebanon, backing “Israel” and its wars on Lebanon before 1982 and the invasion in 1982. Tens of thousands of people were killed and wounded, and homes were destroyed.

You protected and supported all of “Israel’s” wars against Lebanon. We are in July. The July 2006 war was an American decision and an American management. The blood of all the men, women, and children killed in the July war is in the hands of your criminal and murderous country that supports “Israel” and defend it. We do not need to prove this. All the Lebanese people know this.

Even regarding the takfiri terrorist organizations, your President, Trump, admits that it was the previous administration of your country that created Daesh and these terrorist organizations in the region. He accuses Clinton. Is Clinton Lebanese? Is Barak Obama Syrian or Palestinian? They are Americans. They were a president and a Secretary of State. They were the ones who created the takfiri terrorists. You are the one supporting the “Israeli” terrorism and are today empower “Israel” in oppressing the Palestinians and usurping the rest of their land in the West Bank. 

So, you have no place saying these words. You should respect yourself, remain respectful, and know your boundaries. America has been exposed to the people of the region. This, of course, I am speaking to her as a representative of her country. Otherwise, this includes the entire State Department and every American administration – all of who are repeating the same thing.

One last advice for the American administration, and it is also good for the ambassador to hear and pass it on to her administration. You are waging a war on Lebanon. You are taking advantage of a circumstance in Lebanon that is a result of 30 to 40 years of accumulations of bad policies that led it to the current economic situation.

All Lebanese know that the economic, financial, monetary, and living conditions in Lebanon are caused by successive policies – corruption, waste, theft, irresponsible management of the situation, local and regional conditions, immigration, wars, etc.

As for pinning the situation in Lebanon on the resistance is something the Lebanese people will not allow. 

The Lebanese people have reached a point where they are saying that is an economic crisis. While you have come to take advantage of this crisis and besiege the Lebanese people to impose options on them. Your most important objective is to isolate and weaken Hezbollah and end the resistance in Lebanon by starving the people and turning the Lebanese and its supporters against it. Wars have failed; the assassinations have failed; “Israel” has failed; the takfiris have failed; and all your efforts have failed. This is the last weapon in your hands.

I would love to advise you not to waste your time. First, this option will not bear fruit. Hezbollah will never surrender. The resistance in Lebanon will never surrender. Second, the policy that you are adopting regarding Lebanon – the blockade and the sanctions – will not weaken Hezbollah but rather strengthen it. 

This policy will weaken your allies and influence. It will not make the resistance’s environment turn against it. Rather its adherence to the resistance will increase. The policy you are adopting will eventually make the rest of the Lebanese groups turn to the resistance and its local and regional allies because it will have no refuge after you push the country to collapse and starvation. With this policy, you are pushing Lebanon to be completely in this axis and with this team. Go and study it well. 

Therefore, I invite you to abandon this policy. Do not torture the Lebanese people and do not punish them. Do not let the Lebanese people endure this ordeal that will not lead to a result. 

In the first place, international law does not allow you to punish an entire people, starve them, and besiege them, as you did with many countries in the world from Syria to Iraq to Iran to Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea, as a means to punish or pressure a specific group. This will not lead to a result. Do not play this game and do not waste time.

The third part:

Regarding the regional part, I will talk briefly because I have already taken up a lot of your time. I apologize. 

The most dangerous thing occurring now is the “Israeli” annexation of lands from the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. The Palestinian people are the only ones standing alone in this confrontation, with all their movements, factions, and forces. We’re in constant contact with the different leadership of the Palestinian resistance factions. 

Yesterday I received a message from the dear brother and head of Hamas’s political bureau, Mr. Ismail Haniyeh. We are in contact with the rest of the leadership. 

What I want to say and call for at the end of this address regarding Lebanon and the countries and peoples of the region is that we must not forget the Palestinian cause despite our worries and the economic and living condition we are in. We must stand by our Palestinian brothers as a state, people, and resistance.

Anything we, the Lebanese state, and the other Lebanese factions alongside our Palestinian brothers can do in confronting this dangerous conspiracy, we must do because the its repercussions not only target Palestine and the Palestinian but also threatens Lebanon. it is known how its most dangerous repercussions will be on Lebanon.

Regionally, everyone must raise their voices, take a stand, be in contact with the Palestinian leaders and Palestinian forces, and cooperate in everything that can happen in the face of the annexation scheme.

Of course, we were like this in the past, but I liked to say today that this matter must be escalated because it is a sensitive, fateful, and historic moment.

Peace and Allah’s mercy and blessing be upon you. 

Related

في وجه الحرب الأمنيّة: الردّ هو الصمود…

د. عصام نعمان

ليس سراً ان الولايات المتحدة، بضغط من «إسرائيل»، تشنّ حرباً أمنية ضد الأعداء والخصوم على امتداد غرب آسيا، من شواطئ البحر الابيض المتوسط غرباً الى شواطئ بحر قزوين شرقاً. يُقصد بالحرب الأمنية مجموعة هجمات متكاملة قوامها عمليات استخبارية، وعقوبات اقتصادية، وصدامات أهلية، وصراعات مذهبية، وتفجيرات وحرائق تستهدف مرافق عامة حيوية وموجودات عالية القيمة والأهمية.

أشدّ هجمات الحرب الأمنية الأميركية قسوة تركّزت في إيران، تليها عدداً وأهمية تلك التي تستهدف لبنان بما هو منطلق لحزب الله. في إيران استهدفت الهجمات الاميركية مواقع لها صلة ببرنامجها النووي (موقع نطنز) وبالقوة البحرية (مرفأ بوشهر) وغيرها من المواقع والمرافق الحيوية. لوحظ في كل هذه الهجمات ان للسلاح السيبراني دوراً وازناً فيها.

إيران أعلنت عزمها على الردّ اذا ما ثبت لديها ان لأميركا و«إسرائيل» صلة بهذه الهجمات. خبير عسكري مقرّب من أحد أطراف محور المقاومة أكدّ أنّ إيران باشرت فعلاً الردّ على الهجمات الأميركية. ذكّر محاوريه بأنه سبق لـِ «إسرائيل» أن اتهمت إيران قبل أقلّ من شهر بأنها استعملت وسائل سيبرانية في هجومها على شبكات المياه في قلب الكيان.

ثانية الساحات استهدافاً من الولايات المتحدة هي لبنان. هنا الاستهداف يعتمد وسائل وتدابير اقتصادية، ويضاعف ضغوطه السياسية ويستغلّ بلا هوادة الصراعات السياسية والطائفية بين اللاعبين المحليين، كما المشاكل الاقتصادية والمالية التي تعانيها البلاد.

كثيرة هي التحديات التي تواجه اللبنانيين، مسؤولين ومواطنين. غير أنّ أشدّها ضراوة وخطراً ثلاثة: الانهيار الماليّ والاقتصاديّ، والحكم المزمع صدوره عن المحكمة الخاصة بلبنان في لاهاي في 7 آب/ أغسطس المقبل بحق المتهمين باغتيال رئيس الوزراء الراحل رفيق الحريري، وقرار مجلس الأمن الدولي المزمع صدوره أواخرَ الشهر المقبل بصدد تجديد مهمة قوات الأمم المتحدة «يونيفيل» (أو تعديلها) التي تقوم بمراقبة وقف إطلاق النار بين لبنان و«إسرائيل» وفقاً لأحكام القرار الأممي 1701.

حيال تحدي الانهيار المالي والاقتصادي، تباشر واشنطن ضغوطاً شديدة على طرفين محليين من جهة، ومن جهة أخرى على صندوق النقد الدولي لحمله على إحباط أمل الحكومة اللبنانية بالحصول منه على دعم مالي وازن. كما تضغط على الحكومة والقوى التي تساندها للتصرف بمعزل عن حزب الله الذي يشارك فيها بوزير للصحة العامة وآخر للصناعة، وتضغط على القوى السياسية، لا سيما المعارضة منها، للمطالبة بتحييد لبنان إزاء الصراعات الإقليمية والدولية وصولاً الى تجريد حزب الله، أي المقاومة، من السلاح أو إبعاده في الأقلّ عن ايّ صيغة حكومية حاضراً ومستقبلاً.

إذ تبدي قوى المعارضة السياسية وخصوم حزب الله تأييداً فاقعاً لشعار تحييد لبنان وتستظل البطريرك الماروني بشارة الراعي كرأس حربة في الضغط سياسياً وشعبياً لتحقيقه، يرفض الرئيسان ميشال عون وحسان دياب والقوى السياسية الداعمة لهما ولحزب الله المساس بسلاح المقاومة بما هو ضمانة لحماية لبنان من الاعتداءات الإسرائيلية المتواصلة. وعلى كلّ حال لا يشكّل تحييد لبنان تحدّياً راهناً طالما أنّ البطريرك الراعي قال أخيراً إنه لا يصحّ إلا بوجود دولة قوية وعادلة، وهو أمر غير متوافر حالياً.

الحكم المنتظر صدوره عن المحكمة الخاصة بلبنان في قضية اغتيال رفيق الحريري يبدو أكثر حساسية وخطورة لكونه سيُستخدم أداةً للتعبئة الطائفيّة، لا سيما في أوساط أهل السنّة والجماعة، سواء قضى بتجريم المتهمين او بتبرئتهم. وفي هذه الحالة فإنّ الهدف المرشح دائماً للتصويب عليه هو حزب الله الذي يأمل خصومه بإضعافه وحمل حلفائه تالياً على التخلي عنه وإبعاده عن الحكومة. المقول إنّ حزب الله لن يكترث لحكم المحكمة الخاصة أياً كان مضمونه، وإنّ حلفاءه لن يتخلوا عنه لأن لا مصلحة لهم في ذلك.

التحدي الناجم عن قرار مجلس الأمن المنتظر بشأن تجديد مهمة قوات «اليونيفيل» العاملة في جنوب لبنان لا يقلّ حساسية وخطورة عن التحديين سالفيْ الذكر. ذلك أن أميركا، بضغط متواصل من «إسرائيل»، تريد تعديل مضمون مهمة القوات الأممية لتتيح لها مراقبة ً أفعل لحزب الله وذلك بدخول منازل الأهلين من دون ان ترافقها وحدات من الجيش اللبناني، وبإقامة أبراج مراقبة وتجهيزها بوسائل سيبرانية لتمكينها من توسيع مراقبتها لتحركات أنصار حزب الله، كما بتوسيع نطاق مهمتها بحيث تشمل الحدود بين لبنان وسورية ايضاً.

لبنان، على ما يبدو، استحصل على ضمانات من روسيا والصين برفض محاولات أميركا تعديل مهمة «اليونيفيل» من جهة، ومن جهة أخرى لا يبدو حزب الله مكترثاً بكل محاولات أميركا على هذا الصعيد حتى لو أدى الأمر الى إنهاء مهمة «اليونيفيل» لكونها، اولاً وآخراً، مبرمجة لخدمة «إسرائيل».

اذ تشتدّ وطأة التحديات والأزمات والضغوط السياسية والاقتصادية والأمنية على خصوم الولايات المتحدة في غرب آسيا، لا سيما أطراف محور المقاومة، ينهض سؤال: ما العمل؟

يقول مسؤولون في دول محور المقاومة، كما خبراء مقرّبون منهم إنّ الولايات المتحدة لن تخفف البتة من وطأة حربها الأمنية على أطراف المحور المذكور قبل حلول موعد الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية في مطلع تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر المقبل. إنها مرحلة انتقالية حساسة لا تسمح للرئيس ترامب، المنشغل بطموح ملتهب لتجديد ولايته في ظروف داخلية غير مؤاتية له، بالإقدام على أيّ عمل غير مأمون العواقب لئلا ينعكس سلباً على وضعه الانتخابي. كما لا تسمح الظروف الدقيقة نفسها لأطراف محور المقاومة بالردّ على أميركا و«إسرائيل» بعمليات قاسية لئلا تؤدي تداعياتها الى خدمة كلٍّ من ترامب ونتنياهو المستميتين للبقاء في السلطة.

الصمود في المواقف، والصمود في أساليب الردّ بالمثل على الأعداء هو الجواب الأجدى والأفعل في المرحلة الانتقالية.

هل من خيار آخر…؟

*نائب ووزير سابق.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions

Source

July 11, 2020

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions at a news conference following political consultations between the foreign ministers of Russia and three African Union countries (South Africa, Egypt and the Congo) via videoconference, Moscow, July 8, 2020

Colleagues,

Today, we held the first political consultation meeting at the foreign minister level between Russia and three members of the African Union. This mechanism was established after the first Russia-Africa Summit held in Sochi last October. These countries are the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Republic of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are the former, current and next presidents of the African Union.

Russia and Africa are linked by traditional friendly relations, strong political dialogue and extensive trade, economic and investment ties. We have even more ambitious plans in all of these areas. Today, Russia and these African countries expressed their reciprocal interest in further building up cooperation in all areas, including the economy, humanitarian ties and political consultations.

We discussed the priorities of developing cooperation through the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum established by the Russian Foreign Ministry. It was set up for daily contact with the foreign ministries of various African countries and the mechanisms of the African Union and other integration associations in Africa. The Secretariat will oversee the organisational and practical preparations of new initiatives for the next Russia-Africa Summit scheduled for 2022 in accordance with the Sochi agreements.

Having met in Sochi, the heads of state decided that it was expedient to hold these summit meetings once every three years.

We also discussed the energy requirements of the African states. They are growing fast given the African countries’ development rates. We reviewed opportunities for enhancing the energy security of African countries, in particular, by supplying them with hydrocarbon resources and especially by developing the nuclear power industry. Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev gave a relevant presentation. Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Alexey Gruzdev spoke about industrial cooperation at our videoconference.

The issues formulated by our African partners today and initiatives on the best ways to develop investment, trade and economic ties will be discussed at the Association of Trade and Economic Cooperation with African Countries. This was established last month by the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum. Large Russian companies are members of this association. They are interested in developing cooperation with African states. In addition to Rosatom, it brings together ALROSA, Gazprombank, Transmashholding, and the Innopraktika development institute, to name a few. As I mentioned, the association will be used as a platform for helping Russian companies that want to work in individual African countries or with the integration associations on the African continent.

We also discussed humanitarian issues focusing, for obvious reasons, on the spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic has made a tangible impact on many aspects of interstate relations and has done harm to the economy. This is also being felt in Africa. Our African colleagues expect this damage to be heavier than it is now.

They expressed gratitude to the Russian Federation for the assistance that our departments have rendered to African states. We continue receiving requests for additional aid. Over 30 countries have sent requests. We are reviewing them as quickly as possible. Deputy Head of Rospotrebnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare) Alexander Simanovsky talked about this in detail today.

We agreed to continue our assistance in countering the coronavirus infection, in part, via African and global multilateral associations. We will support the adoption of decisions that favour the African nations at the UN, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

We emphasised our mutual interest in further cooperation in developing vaccines against such pandemic threats, in particular, by using the very helpful and effective experience of our cooperation (several years ago) in combatting the Ebola virus.

As part of our political dialogue, we focused on the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. This anniversary is marked this year. It is a historically meaningful document that played a critical role in breaking down the world colonialist system. It was the Soviet Union which played the lead role in adopting that declaration. We stressed the need for preserving the historical truth about colonial times. Now, many of our Western colleagues, who have a colonial past on the African continent, prefer to forget where the problems of contemporary Africa largely come from. We believe it is unacceptable to forget about that period or turn a blind eye to the neocolonial practices that continue in Africa, the harmful effects of which were mentioned by our interlocutors today.

We agreed that the establishment of the UN played a decisive role in the upcoming process of decolonization, and the UN itself appeared as a result of defeating Nazism and the Victory in WWII. There is an interesting connection: the countries that try to rewrite the history of World War II try, at the same time, to forget the consequences of the colonial past on the African continent.

We shared the opinion, and Russia made it a point, that decolonisation cannot be declared completed. UN General Assembly resolutions and the International Court of Justice demand the completion of this process, specifically, with respect to the Chagos Archipelago. Mauritius’ sovereignty over it should be restored. The sovereignty of Madagascar should be restored over the Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean and Comoros’ sovereignty over the island of Mayotte. This French territory preserves its status despite numerous UN General Assembly resolutions.

We think it is important to continue these discussions at the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonisation. Together with our African and other partners we will promote implementation of the existing decisions made by the world community.

In general, the talks were very useful. We agreed to draft relevant proposals that would let us start working on the agenda for the next summit, which, as I have said, is scheduled for 2022 pursuant to the understandings reached in Sochi last October. I mean that the next summit will be held in Africa.

We have adopted a joint statement following our discussions which will be distributed to the media. You are welcome to read the document.

Question: I would like to ask you about the situation in Libya. This is a source of constant concern for the international community because of the differences between the confronting parties and the discord among their supporters. Moscow keeps talking about the need to conduct a direct dialogue based on the Berlin Сonference. Russia has also backed Cairo’s initiative – recently the Foreign Ministry has started talking about the need to enhance the UN role in a Libyan settlement. How can this be done in practice when nothing really changes?

Sergey Lavrov: In practice this can be done in only one way – both sides must immediately stop the hostilities and their attempts to move armed units westward and eastward, respectively, or in any direction. Regrettably, the statement of obvious fact by our partners, notably, that the Libyan conflict has no military solution, is not leading to practical actions. At some point, last January before the Berlin conference, we invited the main parties to Moscow: Commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar, Head of the Presidential Council and the Government of National Accord Fayez al-Sarraj, and Speaker of Parliament in Tobruk Aguila Saleh. At that time, the LNA believed in its superiority on the ground and did not want to sign a document that suited al-Sarraj. In our estimate, the LNA is now willing to sign a document on an immediate ceasefire but the government in Tripoli is now reluctant to do so in the hope of a military solution once again. This is the main reason for what is happening there.

In the framework of a dialogue as sanctioned by our presidents, we and our Turkish colleagues are coordinating approaches that would make it possible to immediately announce a ceasefire and embark on resolving the other issues, including those mentioned at the Berlin Conference and reaffirmed at the meeting in Cairo in the so-called Cairo Declaration. This is the main problem now.

Recently, we spoke in Moscow with Speaker of the Libyan Parliament in Tobruk Aguila Saleh. We stay in touch with Fayez al-Sarraj who heads the Government of National Accord in Tripoli and, of course, with Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the LNA commander. We express to them that an announcement of the complete cessation of hostilities must be the first, indispensable step and that this has no alternative. Our Turkish colleagues are working with the National Transitional Council towards the same end. I hope they will manage to achieve the only correct solution under the circumstances.

As for the UN’s role and the need to increase it, we do want the UN to be more active here. Unfortunately, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Libya Ghassan Salame resigned soon after the Berlin Conference, almost half a year ago. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been unable to appoint a successor so far. His first proposal to appoint Foreign Minister of Algeria Ramtane Lamamra was supported by most countries except our American colleagues. They refused to support his nomination. Almost two months ago a proposal was put forward to appoint former Foreign Minister of Ghana Hanna Tetteh but for some reason Mr Guterres has failed to have her nomination approved. We tend to think that the US representatives are trying to “hobble” him.

Now the situation is like this. After Salame resigned, the UN mission was headed by the acting special representative. By circumstance, this position is now occupied by an American citizen. We don’t want the US to hold the UN Secretariat by the hand and prevent the appointment of a full special representative in the hope that their compatriot will resolve some objective that we fail to understand.

I say this in the open because it is no secret. I am hoping that commitment to multilateral principles will still prevail in this case, and that the UN Secretary-General will fully display his responsibility for the functioning of this mechanism. I am convinced that this position must be occupied by a representative of the African Union.

Question: Can you comment on the UN commission report that says Russian and Syrian aircraft strikes against civilian infrastructure in Idlib are equated with military crimes?

Sergey Lavrov: You, probably mean the commission that calls itself an international independent commission of inquiry on Syria. This commission was not set up by consensus decision, and its mandate raises many questions as does its methodology. The decision to establish this commission was pushed through primarily by the Western countries, which wanted to change the Syrian regime. They didn’t hide this. Using a vote at the UN Human Rights Council, they provided a mechanism with the established purpose of searching for evidence against and discrediting Damascus and those whom they call its allies.

The commission never went to Idlib like many other entities employed by the West in the non-government sector to gather information compromising the activities of the legitimate Syrian authorities. This so-called independent commission uses facts taken from social networks, from some sources they ask to remain anonymous referring to security considerations. These are the same methods as are currently used by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Our Western colleagues are trying to jam through a resolution based on the report prepared in gross violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention based on information taken from social networks, civil society partners, whose names and addresses they refuse to give saying that it would subject their security to risk and threat. This is why we proceed from the exclusive need to resolve and consider any issue concerning the Syrian or any other conflict based on hard facts alone, and on information for which the relevant entity is ready to be responsible. This independent commission just cannot be responsible for its statements, as has been proven on many occasions.

Question:  Mark Esper has said that in the year since he became head of the Pentagon the US Department of Defence successfully restrained Washington’s main strategic rivals – Russia and China. How would you comment on this statement?

Sergey Lavrov: I do not see that there is anything to comment on here. If he thinks the Pentagon’s main objective is to “restrain” Russia and China, then this is the philosophy of the current US administration. It is really burning with a desire to “restrain” everyone except for themselves, and is seeking to get rid of everything that could restrain its freedom to act with impunity on the international stage, such as the INF Treaty, the TOS, the CTBT, UNESCO, the UN Human Rights Council and the WHO. If this is the case, this is rather regrettable. We believed that the military act much more carefully than politicians in situations that can erupt into a conflict, especially a hot conflict.

This mood and this philosophy of the Pentagon chief are really regrettable, because we are interested in developing a normal dialogue with all countries, including the United States. Telephone contacts between Mark Esper and Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu were highly professional and based on mutual respect.  We would like the foreign policies of all countries not to be aimed at “restraint” but at strategic stability based on a balance of interests of all states, including the world’s leading powers. The phrase “strategic stability” is being replaced with “strategic rivalry” in our dialogue with the Americans. In other words, this philosophy shows that the Americans are preparing for conflicts with any country that will attempt to defend its interests.

This is bad for the United States itself. Maybe Washington is using the alleged threats coming from Russia and China to distract the Americans from the incredible problems we see unfolding in that country. Maybe this is part of the election campaign, for the contenders need to gain points. It would be regrettable if they did this by removing all checks and balances on the international stage and by taking the freedom to venture into risky projects in the hope of getting more votes. We stand for dialogue and strategic stability, as President Putin has noted, including when he proposed a summit meeting of the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Question: It has been reported today that Ukraine plans to withdraw from the 2012 memorandum on counterterrorism cooperation with Russia. The interpretative note reads that “this decision will allow for the creation of additional legal and political grounds for protecting the national interests of Ukraine in conditions of Russia’s armed aggression and enhancing Ukraine’s prestige.” Will you comment on this, please?

Sergey Lavrov: I am not aware of our Ukrainian neighbours’ decision to withdraw from the memorandum on counterterrorism cooperation. They are withdrawing from many documents now, which they have a right to do. They also have a right to present their decisions to terminate cooperation in any way. If they think this will help them to protect their national interests more effectively, be that as it may. But it is obvious to us that counterterrorism must not be a victim and hostage of geopolitical games. Any more or less well-read person can see that the Ukrainian authorities are playing geopolitical games. Just look at the statement made by President Vladimir Zelensky, who has said that the Minsk Agreements are only needed to ensure Western sanctions against Russia. This statement is self-explanatory. I leave this on the conscience of the Ukrainian leadership.

We continue our contacts in the Normandy format. The advisers and political aides of the Normandy format leaders have recently had a meeting. It has reaffirmed that the Ukrainian side categorically refuses to honour the Minsk Agreements, which have been approved by the UN Security Council. It has refused to answer the direct questions of our representatives to this effect. We hope that Germany and France as the parties of the Normandy format will take their share of responsibility for Kiev’s position regarding the vital document titled the Minsk Package of Measures.

Question: Is there any chance of a ceasefire in Libya and that the forces of the Government of National Accord will not cross the Sirte – Al Jufra red line, given yesterday’s reports of attacks in Al Jufra, which neither side in the conflict has confirmed?

Sergey Lavrov: I cannot say if the ceasefire has a chance or not. There is always a chance, but it is difficult to say if it will be used. There was such a chance half a year ago, as well as two, three and four years ago when conferences on Libya were held in Paris, Palermo and Abu Dhabi. A conference was also held in Berlin half a year ago, and before that there was a meeting held in Moscow. A document was adopted, an open and simple document that was only a page and a half long, which stipulated a ceasefire in the first place. One of the sides invited to Moscow and Berlin did not use that chance. Now the other side does not want to use this chance, which still exists. As I have mentioned, it is not simply a chance but a demand which has no alternatives and which must be implemented if we want to start settling the situation in Libya.

As for the military situation on the ground and which side’s forces are preparing to cross any lines, this is of secondary importance. If we agree – and it appears that all sides agree that there is no military solution in Libya – the only thing to do is to stop fighting now. Next we can use the tried and tested mechanisms such as the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission and the proposals sealed in the Cairo Declaration, including the proposal recently advanced by the head of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives Aguila Saleh, who has recently visited Moscow. I am referring to the establishment of truly collective and equal bodies of power where all the three historical regions of Libya will be represented based on a balance of interests. I regard this as an absolutely reasonable proposal.

Question: Is Russia ready to act as a mediator in the conflict around the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam?

Sergey Lavrov: We have offered our assistance, including in the form of technical support, to the conflicting parties. We can do useful things. They know this. The United States has offered its assistance as well. Several meetings have been held in the United States. We welcome the progress achieved so far.

It is encouraging that the sides have recently agreed to stimulate contacts between the concerned ministries. This topic has been discussed at the UN Security Council upon Egypt’s initiative. During the discussion held there, we proposed accelerating the coordination of mutually acceptable approaches based on the existing norms of international law and the interests of the parties involved in this dispute.

شارع المقاومة يُسقِط «قيصر» في عوكر… رسائل تهديد تُدجِّن السفيرة الأميركيّة!

تظاهرة منددة بالحصار الأميركي الجائر أمام السفارة الأميركية في عوكر

 محمد حميّة

انقلب المشهد السياسي الداخلي رأساً على عقب… فبعد الاستباحة الأميركية للساحة اللبنانية على مدى أسابيع، تغيرت الصورة خلال الأيام القليلة الماضية وتوّجت أمس، بحدثين: سياسي دبلوماسي تمثل بزيارة السفيرة الأميركية في لبنان دوروثي شيا الى السرايا الحكوميّة ولقائها رئيس الحكومة حسان دياب، الثاني شعبي أمني تمثّل بالتحرك الذي شهده محيط السفارة الأميركيّة في عوكر احتجاجاً على السياسة الأميركية العدوانية ضد لبنان ومحاولة اقتحام حرم السفارة والدخول اليها.

اجتماع بين دياب وشيا في السراي الحكومي... واستبقاء السفيرة الى ...

فما هي الوقائع والمعطيات التي أدت الى استبدال أجواء التصعيد الأميركي الى حدود التلويح بإسقاط الحكومة والتهديد بالحرب العسكرية، بأجواء حوارية وهادئة؟

فبحسب معلومات «البناء» فإن دوائر القرار المعنية في الولايات المتحدة تلقفت رسائل الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله في خطابه ما قبل الأخير بجدية واهتمام كبيرين، لكنها لم توقف حربها على لبنان وكانت تراهن على خطوة سياسية أمنية تقلب توازن القوى السياسي والحكومي الداخلي وذلك عبر إسقاط حكومة الرئيس دياب في الشارع بمساعدة حلفائها من القوى السياسية المحلية وترك البلد في فراغ وفوضى اجتماعية مشرعاً أمام احتمالات الفتنة الطائفية والمذهبية، وبالتالي إجبار القوى السياسية على تأليف حكومة جديدة بشروط أميركية يرأسها أحد الموظفين المصرفيين النافذين المحسوبين عليها، وإما اجراء انتخابات نيابية جديدة تظن أميركا أنها تعبث بالخريطة السياسية للمجلس النيابي الحالي، وعلها بذلك تدفع حزب الله الى التنازل والتسليم بالشروط الأميركية في ملفات عدة أبرزها ملف النفط والغاز في البلوك المتنازع عليه في المياه الإقليمية.

أما هدف إسقاط الحكومة فيصب في هذا الاتجاه. فالمخطط الأميركي بحسب معلومات «البناء» تركز على إطاحة حكومة دياب وتحويلها الى تصريف أعمال كي لا تتمكن من اتخاذ اي قرار في الملفات السيادية لا سيما في موضوع النفط والغاز، وبالتالي يمنع لبنان من تلزيم أي من بلوكاته النفطية ولا عقد اي اتفاقات اقتصادية مع دول عدة مستعدة لمساعدته لكسر قانون العقوبات قيصر وإنقاذ البلد من الانهيار ليبقى أمامه خيار وحيد هو صندوق النقد الدولي.

وبحسب المصادر، بعد فشل مخطط إسقاط الحكومة والهجمة الحكومية المرتدة على صعد عدة لا سيما زيارة الوفدين الصيني والعراقي الى السرايا الحكومية واتفاق السلة الغذائية الجديدة، وتزامن ذلك مع خطاب حاسم للسيد نصرالله حمل رسائل تهديد للأميركيين وبعد تلمّس واشنطن جدية حكومية بالتوجه الاقتصادي الى دول كالعراق والصين وايران وسورية مع الإعلان عن أن بواخر المساعدات الايرانية المحملة بالمحروقات والمواد الغذائية ترسو في المياه الإيرانية تنتظر اشارة الانطلاق الى لبنان، أوعزت وزارة الخارجية الأميركية الى سفيرتها في لبنان بالتهدئة ولجم الاندفاعة التصعيدية والانفتاح على الحكومة ورئيسها للحفاظ على العلاقة مع لبنان وقطع الطريق على دخول دول أخرى الى الساحة اللبنانية. وتعزّزت القناعة الأميركية بضرورة التغيّر بعد سماع السفيرة الأميركيّة الموقف اللبناني الحاسم في عين التينة على لسان الرئيس نبيه بري برفض لبنان المطلق التنازل عن حقوقه في ملف النفط والغاز.

تظاهرة منددة بالحصار الأميركي الجائر أمام السفارة الأميركية في عوكر

أما انقلاب المشهد فتجلى أيضاً بعودة قوى وأحزاب المقاومة للسيطرة على الشارع عبر التحرّكات الشعبية باتجاه السفارة الأميركية في عوكر رفضاً للسياسة الأميركية العدوانيّة تجاه لبنان، بعدما تفردت واشنطن في التحكّم بالشارع منذ 17 تشرين الماضي عبر تحريك أحزاب 14 آذار ضد الحكومة وسلاح حزب الله وتنظيم تظاهرة داعمة للسياسة الأميركية في لبنان وتطبيق القرارات الدولية، فكانت تظاهرة الأمس ضربة مفاجئة للمخطط الأميركي تلقفتها السفارة الأميركية على أنها رسالة أمنية سياسية من حزب الله وحلفائه تحمل في طياتها غضباً وحنقاً من الشعب اللبناني بمختلف تلاوينه من العربدة الأميركية وسياسة حصار لبنان وتجويع شعبه، وبالتالي تشكل جرس إنذار لبداية التحرر اللبناني من الاجتياح الأميركي للبنان بوسائل اقتصادية والسطو على القرار السيادي. الأمر الذي يهدد المصالح الأميركية في لبنان والنفوذ التاريخي في هذه المنطقة. فأدت هذه الرسالة غرضها بأن دفعت الدبلوماسية الأميركية في لبنان للعودة الى «حضن» الشرعية اللبنانية، ولذلك تنقلت شيا بين مقرّي الرئاستين الثانية والثالثة للاحتماء من غضب الشارع.

هكاذ أجهض الشارع قانون «قيصر» قبل أن يولد وأمام «أمه وأبيه» أي في سفارة عوكر المكان الذي عقدت فيه الاجتماعات ونُسجت المخططات للإطاحة بالحكومة وضرب الاستقرار، بحسب ما أكدت معلومات رسمية لـ«البناء».

فالولايات المتحدة بحسب مصادر نيابية في فريق المقاومة تعمل على خنق لبنان لكن ليس قتله، فلا مصلحة لديها بدفع لبنان الى الفوضى الكاملة والحرب الأهلية لأن ذلك يدفع حزب الله وحلفاءه من أحزاب وقوى المقاومة لتنفيذ «الخطة ب» أي اعلان الولايات المتحدة عدوة للبنان وسفارتها موقع عدواني تجب إزالته وفتح لبنان لدخول دول أخرى لإنقاذه اقتصادياً، لذلك تلقفت أميركا رسائل التهديد المتنوعة ما دفعها الى تدجين سفيرتها في لبنان وتأنيبها على تصرفاتها الأخيرة.

علماً أن مصدراً دبلوماسياً لبنانياً سابقاً في واشنطن ومطلعاً على السياسة الأميركية يؤكد لـ«البناء» أن «واشنطن لا تريد إغراق لبنان بالانهيار الكامل بل تريد الضغط على لبنان لتحميل حزب الله المسؤولية وتقليب البيئة الشعبية عليه ودفعه للرضوخ للإملاءات الأميركية الإسرائيلية». وتوقع المصدر استمرار الضغط الأميركي على لبنان مع بعض الليونة في الموقف الأميركي وبعض الإجراءات للتخفيف من حدة الأزمة اللبنانية وذلك حتى الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية على أن تبدأ ملامح مرحلة جديدة في لبنان والمنطقة والعالم مطلع العام المقبل مع تلمس توجهات وسياسات الإدارة الأميركية المقبلة».

وبدا الربط واضحاً بين الليونة الأميركية تجاه لبنان والمؤشرات الإيجابية الخارجية التي لاحت مؤخراً، كزيارة الوفد الصيني تلاه الوفد العراقي الى بيروت ثم ورود إشارات إيجابية من دول خليجية لا سيما قطر والكويت وإحياء المفاوضات مع صندوق النقد الدولي والحديث عن زيارة وزير خارجية فرنسا الى بيروت. ما يشير الى ضوء أصفر أميركي لحلفائها في المنطقة للتأهب لمساعدة لبنان لقطع الطريق على الاندفاعة الإيرانية لكن متى يتحول الى ضوء أخضر؟

يجب الحذر من المناورات الأميركية ما يستوجب على الحكومة الاستمرار بخيار الانفتاح على الشرق ولا تراهن على الإيجابية الأميركية فقد تخسر الاثنين معاً، فالشرق بات حاجة ملحّة للبنان من دون إقفال الأبواب مع الغرب، لكنه وسيلة تعزز الموقف التفاوضي اللبناني.

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USA seeks to drive regime-change by starving the people of Syria

Source

30 June 2020 

By:Reneva Fourie

The United States of America has intensified its economic warfare against the people of Syria. Battered by a 9-year war that resulted in investment and capital flight; and infrastructure and industry destruction, Covid-19 came as a heavy blow to the ailing Syrian economy. The most devastating however has been the ongoing, escalating, illegally imposed USA-driven, and European Union supported, sanctions against Syria. 

Sanctions barring USA-based companies from trading with Syria were imposed in 2004. In 2011 it was extended to include the financial and energy sectors (this while the USA pillages Syrian oil daily; an act that has been designated as illegal under international law and the rules of war, yet there are no repercussions). On Wednesday, June 17, 2020 the sanctions provisions of the USA so-called ‘Caesar’ Civilian Protection Act of 2019, which extends sanctions to all foreign firms or countries that deal with the government of Syria, came into force.

The government of Syria had largely managed to control their weakening currency during the war, despite its domestic challenges. The value of the currency, however, plummeted over the past three weeks in anticipation, and due to the implementation of, the ‘Caesar’ Act.  The Syrian Pound (SYP), which was trading at around SYP 47 (about R ) to the dollar prior to the war, is now, as at end June 2020, hovering around SYP 2 500 to the dollar.

The impact of these sanctions on the quality of life of the Syrian people has been disastrous. According to UNDP data, Syria’s human development index was on the rise between 2000 and 2010.

The IMF outlook for 2010 was as follows, “The outlook for 2010 points to an overall strengthening in economic performance. The ongoing recovery in Syria’s trading partners is expected to contribute to a gradual increase in exports, remittances, and FDI in 2010.” The currency was beginning to appreciate against the dollar. But the gains made during those years were reversed by the war and subsequent sanctions, and the country experienced a drop of nearly 60 percent in GNI per capita from 2010 to 2016.

As political stability in the country increased recently, the economy was once again beginning to show signs of recovery. Sadly, the ‘Caesar’ Act, will cause a major setback.

Syria, home of some of the oldest cities in the world, has a highly sophisticated and cultured populace, who have relatives across the world. Sanctions have compelled them to do much of their banking, particularly that of an international nature, from Lebanon. Most Syrians have relatives in Lebanon due to the historic ties between the two countries.

Traveling between the two countries is a common practice and goods and medication that could not be accessed in Syria due to sanctions, were still obtainable in Lebanon. All that has now come to an abrupt halt.

Covid-19 has made travel across borders difficult; but threats of sanctions against Lebanon, which has its own economic crisis that pre-dates Covid-19, for trading with Syria, will be the final nail in the coffin. Syria is unable to repair the power stations and water infrastructure that was damaged during the war by the West, Israel, Turkey, and insurgents including Isis and al-Qaeda, as they cannot purchase the parts due to sanctions.

Domestic manufacturing of medicines is waning as ingredients cannot be imported. The exemptions around food and medicines touted by the USA and EU are misleading as they apply mostly to areas that remain outside of government control and their “humanitarian aid” in these occupied areas primarily serves to strengthen counter-revolutionary activities.

Exacerbating the cruelty of the general adverse economic impact of sanctions, are the deliberate actions to undermine food security through the regular burning of staple crops by the USA and Turkey-backed mercenaries. For example, Apache helicopters affiliated to the USA occupation forces dropped thermal balloons on barley and wheat crops in a number of villages surrounding al-Shaddadi city, while Turkey-backed mercenaries set fire to a number of wheat and barley fields in Abu Rasin and Tal Tamir towns.

The intention literally is to starve the people of Syria into submission. According to the World Food Programme, as at June 2020, food prices have increased by a staggering 209 percent in the last year, in which most of the increases occurred over the past weeks. This country, where less than 7.5 percent of the population experienced multidimensional poverty in 2009, now has more than 80 percent of its population living below the poverty line, thanks to the USA and its allies. 

The government of Syria has tried to ease the impact of this economic onslaught on its people, who have already suffered tremendous human losses, by broadening access to food parcels, vouchers, subsidised fuel, and government-subsidised grocery shops.  The interventions are however unsustainable. Domestic and international protests calling for the lifting of sanctions in Syria took place regularly over the past two weeks.

But while there have been reports of protests in Syria, almost none of those reports, even from ‘reputable’ entities, state that the protests were AGAINST the USA and its implementation of the Act. The international protests received little coverage.

Sanctions must be lifted. In fact, the USA’s regime-change agenda in Syria must be stopped.

Sanctions are but one aspect of the continued broader regime-change agenda of the USA. The ‘Statement of Policy’ which serves as a preamble to the ‘Caesar’ Act states, “to support a transition to a government in Syria that respects the rule of law, human rights, and peaceful co-existence with its neighbours.”  The last phrase – ‘peaceful co-existence with its neighbours’ – can only refer to Israel, which illegally occupies the Golan and regularly conducts acts of military aggression against Syria.

It must be noted that prior to the war, neither the UNDP nor the IMF made any reference to corruption, maladministration, and human rights abuses in Syria. It became the buzz word when an alleged Syrian military dissenter codenamed Caesar, after whom the USA Act is named, who in 2014 revealed thousands of photographs supposedly depicting torture in Syrian prisons.

An examination of the photos however revealed that it could not be indisputably proven that the injuries depicted in the photographs were indeed inflicted in government prisons.  In fact, the Human Rights Watch found that at least half the photographs depict the bodies of government soldiers killed by the armed opposition.  This confirmed that the opposition is violent and has killed large numbers of Syrian security forces.

The credibility of ‘Caesar’ is highly questionable given the discrepancies in his ‘evidence’ and the USA’s history for fabricating information to suit its interests. Prof Theodore Postol, a respected expert on missile defence and nuclear weapons, who was part of the Joint Investigative Mechanism that investigated allegations of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, disputed the conclusiveness of the allegation. 

Note further that the preamble does not say ‘peaceful transition’, thereby justifying military intervention.  The military situation remains tense despite the cease-fire negotiated between Russia and Turkey in the northwest of the country, as the USA and Turkey continue to reinforce their troops in Syria.

Turkey-backed insurgents and mercenaries continue to engage in motorcycle and car bombs in areas that are outside of the Syrian government’s control.  And Israel regularly invades Lebanese air space to advance missile attacks on the south of Syria.

In addressing the United Nations earlier this month, the Syrian Ambassador, Bashar al-Jaafari stated, “The crimes and practices perpetrated by the governments of those states (the West, Israel and Turkey) rise to the level of war crimes and constitute a violation of the rules of international law and a direct aggression on the sovereignty, safety, independence and territorial integrity of Syria.”

The continued aggression in Syria cannot be delinked from other developments in the region.  The Israeli government continues to persecute the people of Palestine and is determined to forge ahead with implementing the Trump ‘Deal of the Century’. Tension between Lebanon and Israel remains high.  And USA-led sanctions against Iran remain. 

The USA-Israeli-Turkey alliance with their allies continue to seek hegemony in the region, supposedly to reduce the influence of Iran, Russia, and China. Their relentless aggression has however cost this region too many lives.  The people of the region have also suffered too much due to sanctions. Their actions are tantamount to genocide.

As we join the global demand for an end to racism, we should also call for a just and peaceful world. Implementation of this demand begins with a call for all USA troops to exit West Asia, as well as an end to Israeli aggression in the Middle East.

* Reneva Fourie is a policy analyst specialising in governance, development and security and currently resides in Damascus, Syria.She is also a member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party.

This article was first published by Independent  Online,South Africa  

Reem Haddad 

Editor-in-chief

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Sayyed Nasrallah Announces New Front: Reviving Agricultural, Industrial Sectors in Lebanon

July 8, 2020

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah
Click the photo to watch the Video

Marwa Haidar

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah announced a new front on Tuesday by saying that the Resistance party has decided to be in the heart of agricultural and industrial battle.

In a televised speech via Al-Manar, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that reviving the agricultural and industrial sectors in Lebanon is considered as the new battle, since the country must be productive one.

“Save the date: 7/7 is the day when Jihad and uprising on the agriculture and industrial fields was announced,” Sayyed Nasrallah stated.

The Hezbollah S.G., meanwhile, lashed out at the US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea over meddling in Lebanon internal affairs, calling on her to ‘respect herself’ and refrain from “giving lectures on human rights.”

Sayyed Nasrallah also advised Washington to abandon its policy to besiege Lebanon, warning that such behavior won’t weaken Hezbollah, but will strengthen him.

On the other hand, Sayyed Nasrallah dismissed accusations that Hezbollah wants to “turn Lebanon into Iranian model.”

In this context, his eminence stressed that the Islamic Republic is a self-sufficient country, wondering: “Why are you afraid of this model?”

Recalling 2006 July War, Other Occasions

Starting his speech, Sayyed Nasrallah recalled the Divine Victory following the 2006 July war and the Second Liberation in 2017 when the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah fighters liberated Lebanon’s eastern Juroud from Takfiri terrorists.

“We are before several occasions that Lebanon recalls proudly,” Sayyed Nasrallah said via Al-Manar.

His eminence also recalled the firm stances of Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah on the tenth anniversary of his demise.

“He was firm defender of the Resistance. He was our merciful and tenderhearted father,” Sayyed Nasrallah said referring to Sayyed Fadlallah.

The Lebanese Resistance Leader, meanwhile, offered condolences over the departure of Sheikh Mohammad Jaafar Shamseddine.

“Turning Lebanon into Iranian Model?”

Sayyed Nasrallah said that the hard livelihood conditions and the economic crisis Lebanon has been witnessing require national approach and exerting united efforts by all the Lebanese powers.

His eminence referred to his latest speech when he called on the Lebanese government to head east, stressing that such call didn’t mean to relinquish the West.

“In my latest speech I called for heading east, I didn’t mention that Lebanon will abandon the west. We have nothing to do with accusations that Hezbollah wants to ‘turn Lebanon into an Iranian model’.”

As he stressed that “no one wants to turn Lebanon into another Iran,” he noted that the Islamic Republic is a self-sufficient country which confronted all kinds of blockades, wondering: “Why are you afraid of the Iranian model?”

Changing Threats against Lebanon into Chance

Sayyed Nasrallah then said that the current goal which the Lebanese people have to focus on is how to prevent Lebanon’s collapse and starvation.

In this context, his eminence noted that Lebanon must not just rely on the outcome of the talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), stressing the importance of looking for other choices.

“We are able to turn the threat into a chance,” Sayyed Nasrallah affirmed.

He called on the Lebanese government to take the initiative to contact the Chinese government to look into ways of cooperation with the two countries and not to wait for Beijing to do such step.

Meanwhile, Sayyed Nasrallah voiced Iran’s readiness to sell Lebanon oil with the Lebanese pound.

“In this regard I prefer that official talks between Lebanon and Iran take place away from media, and I can guarantee such offer.”

“Heading east is one of choices to confront starvation. This choice sends a message to the US that whoever wants to besiege Lebanon will fail in this policy,” his eminence said further.

New Battle: Agricultural, Industrial Sectors

Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that one of Lebanon’s major problems is that it is non-productive country.

“The agriculture and industry is like the oxygen for people. We have large areas of arable lands, the weather in Lebanon is proper and the rains are suitable. We can plant these lands but we need a decision and determination to do so.”

His eminence called for uniting efforts in reviving the agricultural and industrial sectors.

“As Lebanese people, we have to unite efforts in agriculture and in finding markets for our crops. And the same thing applies to the industry.”

“We in Hezbollah, we call on the Lebanese to revive the agricultural and industrial sectors as one of the major factors of steadfastness.

Stressing that Hezbollah has repeatedly raised the slogan of ‘where should we be we’ll be’, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that this is the party’s new battle.

“We will be at the heart of this battle, our hand is extended to all our people. We will plant even the roofs of the buildings.”

“When we eat what we plant and wear what we fabricate then we are worth of freedom, independence and dignity,” his eminence affirmed.

“US Pressure on Lebanon to Strengthen Hezbollah”

Touching upon the behavior of US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea, Sayyed Nasrallah said that she is acting “like the military governor of our country,” lashing out at Washington’s meddling in Lebanese internal affairs.

“The US ambassador to Lebanon has been openly interfering in our internal affairs. US’ meddling in Lebanon is rejected and the Lebanese state must move in this regard.”

In this context, Sayyed Nasrallah praised courage of Urgent Matters Judge Mohammad Mazeh who banned local and foreign media from featuring statements of US Ambassador Dorothy Shea earlier last month.

Hezbollah S.G. then addressed Shea as saying: “I advise the US ambassador not to give lectures on freedom, sovereignty and human rights, for she doesn’t have the right to do so. Your country has been funding and supporting the Israeli and Takfiri terror. So respect yourself and keep within limits.”

Meanwhile, Sayyed Nasrallah advised Washington to abandon its policy of besieging Lebanon and exerting pressure on it, saying: “Your policy is futile; it won’t weaken Hezbollah but rather will strengthen him and weaken your allies.”

Sayyed Nasrallah then concluded his speech by stressing that Lebanon’s current crisis must not divert from supporting the Palestinian cause “especially now as the Zionist regime is planning to annex areas of the West Bank and Jordan Valley.”

Source: Al-Manar English Website

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