الأميركي وفرضية عدم عودة إيران للاتفاق

التعليق السياسي

أعلنت واشنطن عن سلسلة مشاورات تشمل كيان الاحتلال ودول الخليج لمناقشة فرضية فشل مساعي العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي، وأوردت واشنطن الفرضية بناء على معطيات يوردها الأميركيون تحت عنوان عدم رغبة إيران بالعودة للاتفاق، وتضعها إيران تحت عنوان مواصلة واشنطن لعبة التذاكي لعودة مشروطة تتبنى ما كان الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب يسعى الى تحقيقه ولا يمكن لإيران القبول به.

التسريبات الأميركية تقول ان إيران تواصل السعي لتطوير برنامجها النووي، وانها باتت قريبة من بلوغ اللحظة النووية الحرجة، أي امتلاك إيران لما يكفي لإنتاج سلاح نووي، ويضيف الأميركيون انه إذا أرادت إيران تأجيل العودة للاتفاق الى ما بعد هذه اللحظة، فإن واشنطن لن تكون مستعدة لذلك.

المسؤولون الأميركيون يتحدثون عن خطة عمل، والوقائع الحاضرة في المنطقة تقول ان هذه الخطة وضعت قيد التطبيق، ففي افغانستان تحول تنظيم “داعش” من تفجيرات عشوائية ضد “طالبان” أو الأجانب الى تفجيرات تسهدف قومية الهزارة القريبة من إيران حيث سقط العشرات كضحايا بتفجيرين كبيرين، وفي العراق خطر انفجار سياسي وربما امني على وقع الإمساك بنتائج الانتخابات النيابية والدفع بها الى نقطة مواجهة داخل البيت الشيعي الذي يشكل بيئة التحرك القريب من إيران، وفي لبنان تحقيق قضائي في انفجار مرفأ بيروت لم يعد خافياً حجم الدعم الذي يلقاه أميركياً، وتوجيه التحقيق نحو حزب الله وحلفائه، وتأتي مجزرة الطيونة لتقول ان المخاطرة بأخذ لبنان نحو الحرب الأهلية فرضية قائمة ضمن سلة الخيارات البديلة.

تتجه واشنطن بعد الانسحاب من افغانستان لترك قواتها للمنطقة، على قاعدة حرق الأخضر واليابس وراءها ما يضع قوى المقاومة امام مسؤوليات جسام، قد يكون بيان غرفة عمليات حلفاء سورية الذي يتضمن إعلاناً عن العزم على رد قاس على الغارات الإسرائيلية أول رسائل محور المقاومة للأميركي نحن عنوان وصلت رسالتكم وإليكم جوابنا.

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

SEPTEMBER 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eurasia takes shape: How the SCO just flipped the world order

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With Iran’s arrival, the SCO member-states now number nine, and they’re focused on fixing Afghanistan and consolidating Eurasia.Photo Credit: The Cradle
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SEPTEMBER 22, 2021

By Pepe Escobar posted with permission and cross-posted with The Cradle

Part 1 of 2 on Eurasia

With Iran’s arrival, the SCO member-states now number nine, and they’re focused on fixing Afghanistan and consolidating Eurasia.

As a rudderless West watched on, the 20th anniversary meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was laser-focused on two key deliverables: shaping up Afghanistan and kicking off a full-spectrum Eurasian integration.

The two defining moments of the historic 20th anniversary Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan had to come from the keynote speeches of – who else – the leaders of the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Xi Jinping: “Today we will launch procedures to admit Iran as a full member of the SCO.”

Vladimir Putin: “I would like to highlight the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed today between the SCO Secretariat and the Eurasian Economic Commission. It is clearly designed to further Russia’s idea of establishing a Greater Eurasia Partnership covering the SCO, the EAEU (Eurasian Economic Union), ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI).”

In short, over the weekend, Iran was enshrined in its rightful, prime Eurasian role, and all Eurasian integration paths converged toward a new global geopolitical – and geoeconomic – paradigm, with a sonic boom bound to echo for the rest of the century.

That was the killer one-two punch immediately following the Atlantic alliance’s ignominious imperial retreat from Afghanistan. Right as the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15, the redoubtable Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, told his Iranian colleague Admiral Ali Shamkhani that “the Islamic Republic will become a full member of the SCO.”

Dushanbe revealed itself as the ultimate diplomatic crossover. President Xi firmly rejected any “condescending lecturing” and emphasized development paths and governance models compatible with national conditions. Just like Putin, he stressed the complementary focus of BRI and the EAEU, and in fact summarized a true multilateralist Manifesto for the Global South.

Right on point, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan noted that the SCO should advance “the development of a regional macro-economy.” This is reflected in the SCO’s drive to start using local currencies for trade, bypassing the US dollar.

Watch that quadrilateral

Dushanbe was not just a bed of roses. Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon, a staunch, secular Muslim and former member of the Communist Party of the USSR – in power for no less than 29 years, reelected for the 5th time in 2020 with 90 percent of the vote – right off the bat denounced the “medieval sharia” of Taliban 2.0 and said they had already “abandoned their previous promise to form an inclusive  government.”

Rahmon, who has never been caught smiling on camera, was already in power when the Taliban conquered Kabul in 1996. He was bound to publicly support his Tajik cousins against the “expansion of extremist ideology” in Afghanistan – which in fact worries all SCO member-states when it comes to smashing dodgy jihadi outfits of the ISIS-K mold .

The meat of the matter in Dushanbe was in the bilaterals – and one quadrilateral.

Take the bilateral between Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Chinese FM Wang Yi. Jaishankar said that China should not view “its relations with India through the lens of a third country,” and took pains to stress that India “does not subscribe to any clash of civilizations theory.”

That was quite a tough sell considering that the first in-person Quad summit takes place this week in Washington, DC, hosted by that “third country” which is now knee deep in clash-of-civilizations mode against China.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was on a bilateral roll, meeting the presidents of Iran, Belarus, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The official Pakistani diplomatic position is that Afghanistan should not be abandoned, but engaged.

That position added nuance to what Russian Special Presidential Envoy for SCO Affairs Bakhtiyer Khakimov had explained about Kabul’s absence at the SCO table: “At this stage, all member states have an understanding that there are no reasons for an invitation until there is a legitimate, generally recognized government in Afghanistan.”

And that, arguably, leads us to the key SCO meeting: a quadrilateral with the Foreign Ministers of Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi affirmed: “We are monitoring whether all the groups are included in the government or not.” The heart of the matter is that, from now on, Islamabad coordinates the SCO strategy on Afghanistan, and will broker Taliban negotiations with senior Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara leaders. This will eventually lead the way towards an inclusive government regionally recognized by SCO member-nations.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was warmly received by all – especially after his forceful keynote speech, an Axis of Resistance classic. His bilateral with Belarus president Aleksandr Lukashenko revolved around a discussion on “sanctions confrontation.” According to Lukashenko: “If the sanctions did any harm to Belarus, Iran, other countries, it was only because we ourselves are to blame for this. We were not always negotiable, we did not always find the path we had to take under the pressure of sanctions.”

Considering Tehran is fully briefed on Islamabad’s SCO role in terms of Afghanistan, there will be no need to deploy the Fatemiyoun brigade – informally known as the Afghan Hezbollah – to defend the Hazaras. Fatemiyoun was formed in 2012 and was instrumental in Syria in the fight against Daesh, especially in Palmyra. But if ISIS-K does not go away, that’s a completely different story.

Particular important for SCO members Iran and India will be the future of Chabahar port. That remains India’s crypto-Silk Road gambit to connect it to Afghanistan and Central Asia. The geoeconomic success of Chabahar more than ever depends on a stable Afghanistan – and this is where Tehran’s interests fully converge with Russia-China’s SCO drive.

What the 2021 SCO Dushanbe Declaration spelled out about Afghanistan is quite revealing:

1. Afghanistan should be an independent, neutral, united, democratic and peaceful state, free of terrorism, war and drugs.

2. It is critical to have an inclusive government in Afghanistan, with representatives from all ethnic, religious and political groups of Afghan society.

3. SCO member states, emphasizing the significance of the many years of hospitality and effective assistance provided by regional and neighboring countries to Afghan refugees, consider it important for the international community to make active efforts to facilitate their dignified, safe and sustainable return to their homeland.

As much as it may sound like an impossible dream, this is the unified message of Russia, China, Iran, India, Pakistan and the Central Asian “stans.” One hopes that Pakistani PM Imran Khan is up to the task and ready for his SCO close-up.

That troubled Western peninsula

The New Silk Roads were officially launched eight years ago by Xi Jinping, first in Astana – now Nur-Sultan – and then in Jakarta.

This is how I reported it at the time.

The announcement came close to a SCO summit – then in Bishkek. The SCO, widely dismissed in Washington and Brussels as a mere talk shop, was already surpassing its original mandate of fighting the “three evil forces” – terrorism, separatism and extremism – and encompassing politics and geoeconomics.

In 2013, there was a Xi-Putin-Rouhani trilateral. Beijing expressed full support for Iran’s peaceful nuclear program (remember, this was two years before the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the JCPOA).

Despite many experts dismissing it at the time, there was indeed a common China-Russia-Iran front on Syria (Axis of Resistance in action). Xinjiang was being promoted as the key hub for the Eurasian Land Bridge. Pipelineistan was at the heart of the Chinese strategy – from Kazakhstan oil to Turkmenistan gas. Some people may even remember when Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, was waxing lyrical about an American-propelled New Silk Road.

Now compare it to Xi’s Multilateralism Manifesto in Dushanbe eight years later, reminiscing on how the SCO “has proved to be an excellent example of multilateralism in the 21stcentury,” and “has played an important role in enhancing the voice of developing countries.”

The strategic importance of this SCO summit taking place right after the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok cannot be overstated enough. The EEF focuses of course on the Russian Far East – and essentially advances interconnectivity between Russia and Asia. It is an absolutely key hub of Russia’s Greater Eurasian Partnership.

A cornucopia of deals is on the horizon – expanding from the Far East to the Arctic and the development of the Northern Sea Route, and involving everything from precious metals and green energy to digital sovereignty flowing through logistics corridors between Asia and Europe via Russia.

As Putin hinted in his keynote speech, this is what the Greater Eurasia Partnership is all about: the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), BRI, India’s initiative, ASEAN, and now the SCO, developing in a harmonized network, crucially operated by “sovereign decision-making centers.”

So if the BRI proposes a very Taoist “community of shared future for human kind,” the Russian project, conceptually, proposes a dialogue of civilizations (already evoked by the Khatami years in Iran) and sovereign economic-political projects. They are, indeed, complementary.

Glenn Diesen, Professor at the University of South-Eastern Norway and an editor at the Russia in Global Affairs journal, is among the very few top scholars who are analyzing this process in depth. His latest book remarkably tells the whole story in its title:  Europe as the Western Peninsula of Greater Eurasia: Geoeconomic Regions in a Multipolar World. It’s not clear whether Eurocrats in Brussels – slaves of Atlanticism and incapable of grasping the potential of Greater Eurasia – will end up exercising real strategic autonomy.

Diesen evokes in detail the parallels between the Russian and the Chinese strategies. He notes how China “is pursuing a three-pillared geoeconomic initiative by developing technological leadership via its China 2025 plan, new transportation corridors via its trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, and establishing new financial instruments such as banks, payment systems and the internationalization of the yuan. Russia is similarly pursuing technological sovereignty, both in the digital sphere and beyond, as well as new transportation corridors such as the Northern Sea Route through the Arctic, and, primarily, new financial instruments.”

The whole Global South, stunned by the accelerated collapse of the western Empire and its unilateral “rules-based order, now seems to be ready to embrace the new groove, fully displayed in Dushanbe: a multipolar Greater Eurasia of sovereign equals.

Fifth Iranian Fuel Shipment Enters Lebanon

September 22, 2021 

Fifth Iranian Fuel Shipment Enters Lebanon

By Staff, Agencies

Lebanon’s media outlets reported entrance into the United States-sanctioned country of a fifth shipment carrying Iranian fuel as announced earlier by the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.

The shipment was passing through the Syrian border into Lebanon carrying fuel residue, al-Mayadeen reported.

According to Lebanese sources, the consignments were passing into Lebanon through the Hermel-al-Qasir border area.

The shipments have been reaching Lebanon in the face of the US’s sanctions targeting both the Islamic Republic and the country.

The US re-imposed its sanctions on Iran in 2018 after illegally leaving a historic nuclear accord between the Islamic Republic and world countries.

It has been enforcing similar measures against Lebanon for more than a year to pressure the country over influence wielded in its political and military sectors by Hezbollah. In the 2000s, the movement fought off two major wars on Lebanon that had been waged by the Zionist occupation regime, Washington’s most treasured ally in the region.

The sanctions have taken huge toll on the Lebanese economy, leading to acute shortage of staples, including gasoline and diesel.

Hezbollah has, however, vowed that the country would keep importing Iranian fuel, pledging not to allow Washington to further interfere with the Lebanese people’s livelihoods.

During his speeches, Hezbollah’s Secretary-General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has identified the American Embassy in Beirut as the “operation room” devising sabotage plots against the country’s economy.

Announcing pending arrival of the third and fourth consignments on September 12, Sayyed Nasrallah said some had hoped and speculated that the ‘Israeli’ regime would intervene and target the shipments.

The speculations, however, simply served propagandist media purposes, His Eminence said, adding, “It became finally clear that such remarks are false.”

Iran Seeks Action Rather Than Words From JCPOA Parties – Amir Abdollahian

September 22, 2021 

Iran Seeks Action Rather Than Words From JCPOA Parties – Amir Abdollahian

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with new UK foreign secretary Liz Truss on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday to discuss Afghanistan and issues of mutual interest as well as the Join Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

At the meeting, the top Iranian diplomat said that the rebuilding of bilateral relations requires serious actions and stressed the need for the implementation of the repayment of Britain’s debt to Iran.

Amir Abdollahian said Iran just had heard words from the other parties to the JCPOA and no actions, adding, “Unfortunately, Britain is also part of this inaction and this approach must change.”

He further said that “The US administration, with Europe’s silence and cooperation, continues to impose its illegal sanctions [against Iran] and at the same time claims it wants to return to JCPOA.”

“This is a clear paradox that is carefully being seen by the Iranian people,” he noted, adding that for the current Iranian government action rather than words matters most.

Amir-Abdollahian stressed that Britain needs to pay attention to the fact that fulfilling its obligations is the only way to rebuild relations, and that Tehran will respond appropriately to any positive and constructive step.

The two sides also discussed consular issues, including the issue of dual-national prisoners.

The Iranian foreign minister further stressed the need to pay attention to the humanitarian situation in Yemen and Bahrain.

Regarding Afghanistan, he said that the formation of an inclusive government that represents the ethnic and demographic composition of the country is the only comprehensive solution to achieve lasting stability and peace in Afghanistan.

During the meeting, the new British foreign secretary, for her part, said that her country is ready to repay its debts to Iran.

Regarding the Iran nuclear deal, Liz Truss said that the most urgent issue now is the attention of all parties to the time of the start of the talks process.

The British top diplomat also thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for facilitating the evacuation of the remaining British nationals from Afghanistan.

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بوتين والأسد يفتتحان المرحلة الجديدة

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إدلب إلى الواجهة مجدّداً: هل يتكرّر سيناريو «M5»؟

يقدم الاجتماع الهام الذي جمع الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين بالرئيس السوري بشار الأسد في موسكو، تأكيداً جديداً على ما أظهرته أحداث السنوات العشر الماضية من إشارات لموقع ومكانة سورية في معادلات المنطقة، بعدما أريد لهذه الأحداث ان تمحو تلك المكانة التي حجزتها سورية على مدى عقود ماضية، وتكمن أهمية لقاء الرئيسين بوتين والأسد أنه يأتي في لحظة تقاطع جملة أحداث دولية وإقليمية وسورية، ليشكل نقطة انطلاق لمسار جديد ترتسم معالمه بسرعة بعد جمود امتد لسنوات في ملفات المنطقة منذ إعلان الانسحاب الأميركي من التفاهم النووي مع إيران، ضمن سياق تصعيدي لكسر جبهة المواجهة التي تضم روسيا والصين وإيران وسورية ودول وقوى آسيوية أخرى، جمعها السعي لكسر مشروع الهيمنة الأميركية على أكبر قارات العالم مساحة وسكاناً، والتي تختزن أكثر من نصف ثروات العالم وأكثر من نصف قدرات العالم العسكرية، فصمدت جبهة المواجهة ونجحت باحتواء عاصفة التصعيد.

خلال هذا العام ومع تسلم الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة، شهدت آسيا تكريساً لتفاهم القوى الصاعدة في آسيا على قطع الطريق أمام عروض الصفقات الثنائية التي توهمت إدارة الرئيس الأميركي الجديد جو بايدن أنها سياسة قادرة على استعادة زمام المبادرة، وبدأت ملامح التسليم الأميركي بالفشل مع الانسحاب الأميركي من أفغانستان، الذي تزامن مع انتقال دول وقوى محور المقاومة إلى الهجوم لكسر خطط الحصار الأميركية، فخرجت فلسطين منتصرة من معركة سيف القدس، وخرجت إيران بانتخاباتها الرئاسية تحمل راية القائد الجنرال قاسم سليماني بإخراج القوات الأميركية من المنطقة، وبلغ الملف النووي الإيراني مراتب علمية تضع واشنطن بين خيارات أحلاها مر، فإما تقبل بلوغ إيران اللحظة النووية الحرجة المتمثلة بامتلاك كمية من اليورانيوم المخصب على درجة عالية تكفي لتصنيع قنبلة نووية، أو الانكفاء عن الشروط وقبول العودة بلا شروط إلى الاتفاق النووي، وتوج هذا الهجوم المعاكس مشهد السفن الإيرانية التي استقدمها حزب الله تحت شعار السفن قطعة أرض لبنانية، لتنقلب واشنطن من خط الحصار إلى البدء بفك الحصار من باب التراجع عن بعض عقوبات قانون قيصر لتتيح نقل الغاز من مصر والكهرباء من الأردن عبر سورية إلى لبنان.

موسكو كانت على ضفة التلقي لكل هذه المتغيرات المتحركة، حتى جاءت زيارة المبعوث الأميركي الخاص بالملف الإيراني روبرت مالي إلى موسكو مدخلاً لإحداث النقلة في السياسات، فسورية هي حجر الرحى في معادلات المنطقة، وقد باءت كل محاولات تجاوزها بالفشل، بمثل ما فشلت خلال السنوات الماضية مشاريع إسقاطها وتفتيبها، فلا شام جديد فاعل بلا الشام، ولا قمة جوار العراق تنجح بلا الجار الأول، وواشنطن تعترف بفشل العقوبات في صناعة السياسة كما اعترفت بفشل القوة العسكرية بصناعتها وفقاً لتوصيف الرئيس بايدن لحاصل الحرب في أفغانستان، ويحضر العرض الروسي على طاولة المباحثات، تشجيع روسي لإيران للعودة إلى مفاوضات فيينا وإنجاز تفاهم تقني أولي مع الوكالة الدولية للطاقة الذرية مقابل التزام أميركي بالتخلي عن الأوهام التي عطلت التوصل لتفاهم في جولات فيينا يضمن العودة إلى الاتفاق الأصلي من دون تعديلات وشروط وإضافات، ودعوة روسية لواشنطن لحسم أمر الانسحاب من سورية لقوات أميركية تتواجد بصورة غير شرعية، لحساب تولي موسكو مواصلة الحرب على “داعش” وإدارة الحوار بين الجماعات الكردية التي ترعاها واشنطن والدولة السورية وتنشيط العملية السياسية، بما يفتح الباب لسقوط الذريعة التركية للبقاء في شمال غربي سورية. وجاءت المعارك التي خاضها الجيش السوري في منطقة الجنوب، والتي انتهت بدخوله إلى درعا تحت نظر قاعدة التنف لتقول لجميع الجماعات الموهومة بالإسناد الأميركي أن مرحلة جديدة قد بدأت، وأن بسط سيطرة الدولة السورية على كامل أراضيها تنطلق.

يدرك الأميركيون معنى فقدان المشروعية الداخلية والخارجية للبقاء في سورية والعراق بعد انسحابهم من أفغانستان، بعدما فقدوا شرعية هذا البقاء في العراق بعد مطالبتهم من مجلس النواب العراقي بالانسحاب، بينما لم يملكوا شرعية وجودهم في سورية يوماً، كما يدرك الأميركيون أن فترة السماح المتاحة أمامهم لإعلان الانسحاب لن تطول قبل أن تبدأ عمليات المقاومة باستهدافهم، ويدركون أن المخرج المتاح بأقل الخسائر هو تظهير الانسحاب من سورية كحلقة من حلقات تقاسم مهام الحرب على الإرهاب مع روسيا، وإظهار نية التشارك مع موسكو في الدفع باتجاه تنشيط فرص الحل السياسي في سورية على قاعدة التراجع التدريجي عن العقوبات وفكفكتها لحساب توفيرالتمويل لإعادة النازحين وإعادة الإعمار، كما قالت دراسة الدبلوماسي الأميركي السابق الخبير بشؤون سورية جيفيري فيلتمان، ونصائح السفير الأميركي السابق لدى سورية روبرت فورد.

مرحلة جديدة في المنطقة ستبدأ من سورية، وفرص يمكن أن يلتقطها، ويفترض أن يلاقيها بعض العرب واللبنانيين كي لا يظهروا مجرد صدى للصوت الأميركي.

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العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي… بلا شروط

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  رغم الكلام الفارغ الصادر عن المسؤولين الأميركيين، تحت عنوان أنّ واشنطن لن تواصل التفاوض حول الملف النووي الإيراني إلى ما لا نهاية، وعن خيار التخلي عن الاتفاق النووي، أو عن وجود بدائل للعودة إلى الاتفاق، يعرف كل مسؤول في واشنطن وتل أبيب والرياض وباريس ولندن وبرلين أن ليس في جعبتهم شيء غير العودة إلى الاتفاق، وأنّ كلّ الطلبات الإضافية كأثمان للعودة، سواء في الملفات الإقليمية أو ملف الصواريخ أو إبقاء بعض العقوبات، سيعني عدم العودة، كما يعرفون أنه عندما تقول إيران إنها لن تواصل التفاوض إلى ما لا نهاية وإن لديها بدائل للاتفاق، فيجب أن يأخذوا كلامها على محمل الجد، ذلك أن الزمن يفعل لصالح إيران، وفقاً لما يقوله الأميركيون والإسرائيليون وما قاله بالأمس مدير عام الوكالة الدولية للطاقة الذرية، عن أنّ إيران تستثمر الوقت لمراكمة المزيد من اليورانيوم المخصّب بنسب عالية يجعلها أقرب لما يسمّونه بالحظة النووية الحرجة، وهي لحظة امتلاك ما يكفي لإنتاج قنبلة نووية.

بالتوازي لا يملك الأميركيون والأوروبيون سوى إغواء رفع العقوبات لتحفيز إيران لقبول العودة، والالتزام بموجباتها المنصوص عليها في الاتفاق، خصوصاً أن إيران التزمت منفردة لسنتين بالاتفاق في ظل الانسحاب الأميركي بلا سبب أو مبرّر كما يقول جميع الشركاء الآخرين بمن فيهم الأوروبيون ووكالة الطاقة الذرية والأمم المتحدة عدا عن الصين وروسيا، والعودة عن العقوبات اليوم هي إعلان العودة إلى الاتفاق من الجانب الأميركي لامتلاك مشروعية مطالبة إيران بالعودة المماثلة، ووفقاً لما يقوله الأميركيون و»الإسرائيليون» أيضاً فإنّ رفع العقوبات عن إيران لم يعد يملك ذات السحر الذي كان يملكه قبل ست سنوات يوم توقيع الاتفاق في مثل هذه الأيام، حيث كانت العقوبات صادرة عن الأمم المتحدة، وهذا قد سقط إلى غير رجعة، وفتح أمام إيران الطريق لحلول اقتصادية ومالية عديدة، لم تنجح العقوبات الأميركية بتعطيلها، فالمتاجرة بين إيران وروسيا والصين وتركيا وباكستان واليابان وكوريا الجنوبية والعراق  وسواها من الدول، بقيت تجد بدائل لها تتفادى العقوبات الأميركية، فيما نجحت إيران بتطوير صناعات نفطية أضعفت حاجتها لتصدير النفط الخام، كما نجحت بتطوير اقتصادها لتفادي حجم الاقتصاد الاستهلاكي والريعي لحساب الإنتاج.

عندما تقول واشنطن إنها تستعجل العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي تسهيلاً للتفرغ لمواجهة الصين، فهل تنتظر من الصين أن تقف مكتوفة الأيدي، وهي تعلم وتقول إنها تعلم، أن الاتفاق الاستراتيجي الاقتصادي بين الصين وإيران أفقد العقوبات الأميركية فعاليتها، وأسقط قيمة العودة للاتفاق النووي بالنسبة لإيران، وجعل عائداته مجرد مكاسب إضافية لا يجوز إضاعتها، لكنها لا تستحق القتال من أجلها، فيما تعرف واشنطن أن الضفة الدولية الموازية للاهتمام الأميركي بالمواجهة التي تمثلها موسكو باتت شريكاً استراتيجياً لطهران في العديد من السياسات الإقليمية، التي تجعل الحفاظ على إيران قوية موضع اهتمام صيني- روسي، لا يمكن للأميركي تبديله لا بالإغراءات ولا بالتهديدات لكل من الصين وروسيا.

الكلام الأميركي عن بدائل يعني شيئاً واحداً هو العودة إلى خطة الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب التي صعد الرئيس جو بايدن على قاعدة القول بأنها خطأ جسيم، وأنه في ظلها طوّرت إيران نظام الصواريخ وطوّرت قوى المقاومة مزيداً من الحضور، وتمّ اختصار المسافة عن اللحظة النووية الحرجة من سنة إلى بضعة أسابيع كما قال كل من وزير الخارجية الأميركية أنتوني بلينكن ومستشار الأمن القومي الأميركي جايك سوليفان والمبعوث الأميركي الخاص روبرت مالي مراراً، أما الرهان على الخيار العسكري، فهل من عاقل يتخيّل أنّ أحداً يأخذه على محمل الجد في ضوء المشهد الأفغاني، والتلويح بالاعتماد على ضربات «إسرائيلية» يبدو مجرد مزحة سمجة في ضوء الكلام «الإسرائيلي» والمؤيد أميركياً بأن إيران وقوى المقاومة في وضع تفوّق استراتيجي، وفائض قوة يتيح تحويل أي تحرش «إسرائيلي» جدي إلى مبرر لمواجهة شاملة لن تكون نهايتها في صالح «إسرائيل».

مرة أخرى كما كانت الحال عليه قبل ست سنوات، لا بديل للاتفاق مع إيران إلا الاتفاق مع إيران، ومضمون الاتفاق عودة غير مشروطة عن العقوبات، على قاعدة الالتزام المتبادل بالاتفاق الأصلي من دون الرهان على متغيرات وتحوّلات، هي في غير صالح الثنائي الأميركي «الإسرائيلي».

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Raisi: Unconstructive IAEA Attitude Can’t Have Constructive Response

September 9, 2021

Raisi: Unconstructive IAEA Attitude Can’t Have Constructive Response

By Staff, Agencies

Iranian President Sayyed Ebrahim Raisi warned the United Nations nuclear watchdog against the consequences of its “unconstructive” attitude towards Iran.

Raisi made the remarks during a phone call initiated by European Council chief Charles Michel, which he had officially requested to hold with the Iranian chief executive.

“Instances of Iran’s serious cooperation with the [International Atomic Energy] Agency [IAEA] serve as shining examples of its will to observe transparency in its nuclear activities,” Raisi said.

“[However,] the agency’s unconstructive attitude will be disruptive of the negotiation course,” he noted, adding, “Naturally, it defies logic to expect Iran to offer a constructive reaction to such attitude.”

The IAEA has, on several occasions, relied on so-called information provided to it by the US and the Zionist Mossad spy agency to allege the presence of “uranium traces” on some locations inside the Islamic Republic.

The body that is forbidden from trusting alleged data provided to it by foreign intelligence services has been using the claims to request visits to those sites on Iranian soil.

Tehran, which has been warning the agency against adopting such approaches, has, nevertheless, provided it with voluntary access to those sites to show its goodwill. The good-faith gestures have not stopped the agency, though, from repeating such requests.

Raisi said Iran was the only country that stood by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] in the face of the United States and Europeans’ non-commitment.

The US left the historic 2015 nuclear deal three years after its conclusion and began reinforcing its oppressive sanctions against the Iranian nation. Its European allies in the deal—the UK, France, and Germany—were quick to start toeing Washington’s sanction line as closely as possible.

Raisi also took exception to Europe’s refusal to duly condemn the US’s early 2020 “terrorist” assassination of Iran’s senior anti-terror commander, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani.

The entire world witnessed that Iran was the only country to truly confront Daesh’s [Arabic for ‘ISIS/ISIL’] terrorism in Iraq and Syria, the Iranian president asserted.

He called General Soleimani, who used to direct Iran’s military advisory assistance to Baghdad and Damascus in the face of the group, “a hero of terror fight in the region and the world,” censuring European countries for failing to adopt a “just position” on his assassination.

NYT: “Israel’s” Spy Agency Snubbed the US, Trust Broken

August 28, 2021

NYT: “Israel’s” Spy Agency Snubbed the US, Trust Broken

By Staff, Agencies

A new report says the “Israeli” regime gave the administration of US President Joe Biden a last-minute notice before an act of sabotage that caused a power outage at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility earlier this year.

Citing unnamed American and “Israeli” sources, the New York Times reported that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered “Israeli” security officials to reduce the information that they conveyed to the US about planned operations in Iran.

On April 11, when the attack took place at Natnaz nuclear site, the “Israeli” entity’s Mossad spy agency gave the US less than two hours’ notification, far too short a time for Washington to assess the operation or ask Tel Aviv to call it off, according to the report.

“Israeli” sources said they concealed information from their American counterparts because there had been leaks regarding earlier attacks.

Senior Biden administration officials said the “Israelis” violated an unwritten agreement to inform the United States of covert operations.

After the Natanz attack, CIA director William Burns called Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, expressing concern over the snub, the report said.

Cohen claimed that the belated notification was due to operational constraints and uncertainty about when the attack would take place.

One day after the “Israeli” act of nuclear terrorism, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Washington “was not involved in any manner.”

The US, however, has a history of collaborating with the “Israeli” entity in sabotage acts against Iran.

For example, the Stuxnet computer virus is widely believed to have been developed jointly by the United States and the entity. It was the first publicly known example of a virus being used to attack industrial machinery. It was discovered in 2010 after it was used to attack a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, Iran.

The April attack occurred less than a week after the first talks began in the Austrian capital, Vienna, on a potential revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], something the “Israeli” entity opposes.

Former US president Donald Trump abandoned the agreement and reimposed the anti-Iran sanctions that the JCPOA had lifted. He also placed additional sanctions on Iran under other pretexts not related to the nuclear case as part of the “maximum pressure” campaign.

Following a year of strategic patience, Iran resorted to its legal rights stipulated in Article 26 of the JCPOA, which grants a party the right to suspend its contractual commitments in case of non-compliance by other signatories.

Now, the Biden administration says it wants to compensate for Trump’s mistake and rejoin the accord, but it is showing an overriding propensity for maintaining some of the sanctions as a tool of pressure.

Tehran insists that all sanctions should first be removed in a verifiable manner before the Islamic Republic reverses its remedial measures.

The last-minute notification of the Natanz operation was the starkest example that the entity had changed its procedures since the Trump presidency.

For the American-“Israeli” intelligence relationship, it was another a sharp turnabout.

زمن قاسم سليماني


الخميس 26 آب 2021

 ناصر قنديل

شكل استشهاد الجنرال قاسم سليماني رئيس أركان محور المقاومة، وقائد الجناح العراقي في محور المقاومة ابي مهدي المهندس، عنواناً لزلزال إقليمي ودولي، وداخل كلّ من إيران والعراق ودول محور المقاومة، لم تظهر كلّ تردّداته بعد، وإذا كان الأميركيون قد قرّروا الانحناء أمام عاصفة الردّ الفوري على عملية الإغتيال التي تمثلت بقصف قاعدتهم في “عين الأسد” بالصواريخ من إيران وببيان إعلاني، بصمتهم أمام الردّ في سابقة فريدة في تاريخ الجيش الأميركي، ظناً منهم بأنّ هذا سينهي الأمر عند هذا الحدّ، فهم يكتشفون وسيكتشفون أنّ الزلزال مستمرّ، وتردّداته لا زالت تحكم معادلات المنطقة وستحكمها أكثر فأكثر، فالكثير من الخطط التي خرجت الى العلن بعد العملية كانت خططاً وضعها الجنرال سليماني، وبعضها كانت خطط احتياط لمواجهة سوء تقدير الموقف من الأميركي لموازين الردع وارتكابهم حماقات كبرى تراهن على كسر هذه المعادلات، وجاءت عملية الاغتيال أكبر هذه الحماقات، ولعلّ الأميركيين سيكتشفون في يوم غير بعيد أنّ أفغانستان وفلسطين كانتا ساحتين رئيسيتين لما أعدّه وهيأه سليماني، وأنه صاحب حضور فيهما يصعب حصر تأثيره، وأنه أولاهما بالحضور والمقدرات النوعية والعلاقات المميّزة بكلّ القيادات العاملة فيهما عناية استثنائية بمجرد اطمئنانه عام 2017 لصيرورة الانتصارات في سورية، تتويجاً لعلاقة مميّزة أنشأها ورعاها بين حركتي حماس وطالبان.

الموج الشعبي الهادر الذي خرج في تشييع هذين القائدين في العراق وإيران، أنجز مهمته في إيران مع وصول الرئيس السيد إبراهيم رئيسي الى الرئاسة، وهذا الموج لن يهدأ حتى ينجز مثل ذلك في العراق، وكما دخلت إيران رسمياً زمن الجنرال قاسم سليماني، سيدخل العراق رسمياً زمن القائد أبي مهدي المهندس، والترابط الذي حمله استشهاد القائدين معا يحكم الربط بين مساري التحوّلات في بلديهما، وليس من باب الصدفة تسمية قائد ملف أفغانستان في فيلق القدس الجنرال إسماعيل قآني لقيادة الفيلق خلفاً لسليماني، كما ليست صدفة تسمية الدبلوماسي حسين أمير عبد اللهيان المعاون السياسي لسليماني وزيراً للخارجية في عهد السيد رئيسي، ومع نيل حكومة رئيسي ثقة مجلس الشورى الإيراني، الذي يشكل الجنرال سليماني الأب الروحي للغالبية المسيطرة عليه، تدخل إيران رسمياً في ظلّ رعاية الإمام الخامنئي زمن سليماني، لتبدأ ترجمة الردّ على اغتياله واغتيال رفيق دربه المهندس، والردّ ليس بالضرورة عسكرياً، فالجانب المعنوي من الردّ العسكري قد تمّ، لكن الردّ هو كما قال الإمام الخامنئي وكما أكد السيد حسن نصرالله، بإخراج الأميركيين من المنطقة انطلاقاً من أفغانستان، ومروراً بالعراق وصولاً الى سورية، وربما يكون الأميركيون قد اكتشفوا أو هم سيكتشفون بصمات سليماني وأنفاسه في ما لحقهم في أفغانستان، لكنهم حكماً سيرون بأمّ العين حضوره وحضور المهندس في كيفية خروجهم القادم من العراق.

معادلة كش ملك هي التي تحكم اللعبة الإيرانية مع الأميركيين رداً على الاغتيال، أيّ المضيّ بجملة من الخطوات والإجراءات المعقدة والمتعدّدة الميادين والمبتاعدة جغرافياً لوضع الأميركي في منطقة قرار صعب بين الانكفاء أو الحرب، حيث لا يستطيع اتخاذ قرار الحرب، وهذا ما حصل في أفغانستان، وهذا ما سيحصل مع عبد اللهيان في الملف النووي، وهذا ما سيحصل في العراق مع توصية الانسحاب، وهذا ما يحصل مع سفن المقاومة، وهذا ما سيحصل في سورية، وفي اليمن وفي غزة، وحيث تتحرك إيران ويتحرك محور المقاومة.

وصية سليماني ومشروعه غير منفصلين، لكن مشروعه الذي اقتنع به الروس والصينيون هو آسيا خالية من الوجود الأميركي، لكن مع عرض الخروج المشرف على الأميركيين بتثبيت معادلات استحالة المواجهة أمامهم وجرهم إلى فرص الانسحاب ضمن تفاهمات وتسويات، أما وصيته فهي فرض الخروج المذلّ على الأميركيين، ومشهد أفغانستان يشرح الكيفية، ومشكلة الأميركيين أنهم لم يفهموا بعد لماذا لم تلق عروضهم لتفاهمات ثنائية مع كلّ من إيران وروسيا والصين قبولاً، ولم ينتبهوا انّ ثلاثي آسيا متفق على عدم منحهم فرص الثنائيات والاستفراد، وعازم على إخراجهم من آسيا، وأفغانستان تمنحهم فرص أفضل للفهم إنْ استطاعوا عرض تسويات تضمن انسحابهم بلا أثمان مقابلة، لاستباق ما ينتظرهم من اختناقات في مربعات الخيارات الصعبة بين مواجهة انتحارية وانسحاب مذلّ؟

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The Persian Gulf is Once Again at the Center of Western Provocations

17.08.2021 

Author: Viktor Mikhin

IRN52345

As part of a concerted effort to pressurize Iran ahead of the expected resumption of nuclear talks in Vienna, Washington and its European allies appear to be using a mysterious and not entirely understandable attack on an oil tanker operated by Israel to extract additional concessions from Tehran.   In doing so, says the well-informed Iranian newspaper Ettelaat, they are unwittingly playing into the hands of an Israeli scheme aimed at railroading the very nuclear deal that Washington and the Europeans are supposedly trying to revive. The controversy over the recent attack on the Israeli Mercer Street continues unabated, and the US and Britain rushed to bring the issue even to the UN Security Council. However, they failed to reach a consensus on Iran there.

In this connection, it may be recalled that an Israeli ship was attacked off the coast of Oman on July 29 while it was sailing from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to the Port of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. An oil tanker operated by Zodiac Maritime, owned by Israeli shipping magnate Eyal Ofer, was reportedly attacked by suicide drones. A Zodiac Maritime spokesman said two crew members, British and Romanian nationals, died in the attack. The attack, for which Tel Aviv, London, and Washington instantly and unsubstantiated accused Iran, marked the beginning of a coordinated diplomatic campaign against Tehran at a time when nuclear talks on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal had stalled after six rounds of painstaking negotiations in Vienna. The last round of talks in Vienna was completed more than a month ago, and differences over how to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are still unresolved. The US has steadfastly refused to lift all sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration and to give assurances that it will not withdraw from the JCPOA again, as it did in the past. The sixth round was also held when a transfer of power in Iran connected with the June 18 presidential elections, in which Ebrahim Raisi won a confident and predictable victory.

In a separate statement, US CENTCOM spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said that based on the fact that “the vertical stabilizer is identical to those identified on one of the Iranian UAVs designed and manufactured for the one-sided kamikaze attack, we could assume that Iran was actively involved in the attack.”  In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of the G7 countries (Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States) condemned Iran for the attack. “This was a deliberate and targeted attack and a clear violation of international law,” the statement said. “All available evidence points to Iran.” There is no excuse for this attack.   Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh instantly responded that the G7 condemnation consisted of unfounded accusations. “Israel is likely to be the real culprit behind the attack,” the spokesman added. “For experts and those who know the history of our region, it is nothing new that the Zionist regime is scheming such plots,” Said Khatibzadeh emphasized.

Sensing a change of plans in Tehran, the US and its European allies launched a diplomatic campaign to intimidate Iran into returning to the talks in Vienna without any new demands. Washington’s main concern was that the negotiating team of new President Ebrahim Raisi would return to Vienna with new spirit and demands, amounting to a reversal of the American progress made in the last six rounds. This concern is not groundless: the Tehran Times, which presents the official point of view, reported that the Iranians were even considering, among other options, abandoning the results of the Vienna talks under Hassan Rouhani. The same newspaper, citing official sources, concludes that Tehran may reject the results and set a new agenda for negotiations with the West to resolve the remaining issues in a new format and spirit.  This is why the US, in an apparent attempt to influence the plans of the Iranian ayatollahs, has sought to increase diplomatic pressure on Iran since the end of the sixth round. They have threatened and are threatening to withdraw from negotiations, openly opposed to lifting all sanctions, and have even prepared new oil sanctions against Iran.

Then there was the incomprehensible attack on Mercer Street, which the US and its allies saw as a gift to exert further pressure on Iran. While the hype surrounding this attack is still going on, the known provocateur, Britain and its allies, in a spirit of high probability, have concocted several stories about the hijacking of commercial ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf of Oman. Once again, they have accused Iran, without evidence and with impudence, of playing a role in these events. How can we not recall the dirty work of London and its notorious international organization Médecins Sans Frontières in accusing Damascus of the use of poisonous substances?

Iran fully understands the ulterior motives behind this drama, which the West has habitually turned into a farce. Iranian officials warned the West not to engage in dirty propaganda games to gain concessions. Commenting on the alleged attempted seizure of a ship in the Gulf of Oman, the Iranian Embassy in Britain stated on Twitter: “To mislead the public around the world for diplomatic gain in New York is not fair game.” But this unfair game can lead to the opposite result. The US and Britain have enlisted Israel’s help in their campaign of putting pressure on Iran, which is likely to have unintended consequences for them.

“We have just heard a distorted statement about the Mercer Street incident. Immediately after the event, Israeli officials blamed Iran for the incident. That’s what they usually do. This is a standard practice of the Israeli regime. Its purpose is to divert world attention from the regime’s crimes and inhumane practices in the region,” said Zahra Ershadi, the charge d’affaires ad interim of Iran’s permanent mission to the United Nations. She made the remarks after a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on the recent oil tanker incident in the Gulf of Oman.

Israel’s ambassador to the US and the UN, Gilad Erdan, threw aside his restraint and revealed some of these targets. He said that Israel would ultimately like to see the current regime in the Islamic Republic of Iran overthrown. “In the end, we would like [the government] to be overthrown and [for] regime change to take place in Iran,” Gilad Erdan said when asked about Israel’s strategy toward the Islamic Republic, according to the Times of Israel. The statement was made after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s blunt remarks that Tel Aviv allegedly knows for a fact that it was Iran that attacked Mercer Street.

Regardless of Israel’s goals for Iran, the current approach of London and Washington is unlikely to produce results, as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has unequivocally and firmly made it clear that the West is unlikely to succeed in intimidating the Iranians and the country’s leadership. Moreover, no one will force the Iranians to give up their legal rights and freedoms.

Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” .

محاولات التحوّل من حائر إلى قائد

 سعادة مصطفى أرشيد _

يحتاج نفتالي بينيت رئيس وزراء (إسرائيل) الهابط من عالم الإعمال والتجارة إلى عالم السياسة، أن يبدو بمظهر قوي، قادر على الاشتباك وتحقيق انتصارات عزيزة وبعيدة عن قدراته، وهو قد تسلّم الحكم من بن يامين نتياهو المتمرّس والذي استطاع حفر اسمه عميقاً في تاريخ دولته القصير، بما يملك من دهاء وقدرات استثنائية، وها هو مستمر في دوره كقائد للمعارضة، قادر على نصب الكمائن وإحاكة المؤامرات بهدف إسقاط خصومه الكثر، الذين لا يجدون ما يجمعهم سوى رغبتهم في إخراجه من عالم السياسة سواء كرئيس وزراء أو كزعيم معارضة، ومن جانب آخر، فإنّ الأغلبية البرلمانية الداعمة للحكومة هشة وهزيلة وقابلة للسقوط إنْ خرج عضو واحد من التحالف، لا بل انْ غاب عن جلسة برلمانية بدواعي المرض أو السفر أو حتى إنْ تأخر بسبب أزمة سير، والدعم الذي يتلقاه بينيت من الإدارة الأميركية على أهميته للبقاء، وكيديته المفرطة تجاه نتنياهو، إلا انه غير قادر على رسم صورة الزعيم القوي.

حاول بينيت الدفع باتجاه الاشتباك مع إيران متخذاً من حوادث السفن ذريعة لإقامة تحالف انجليزي – أميركي – (إسرائيلي) وبالطبع عربي، ولكن الإدارة الأميركية كان لها رأي آخر، فهي تريد الابتعاد عن المنطقة ومشاكلها والتركيز على الصين وبحرها وطريق حريرها السياسي والاقتصادي، وهي ترى أنّ عدم الوصول إلى اتفاق مع إيران، أمر يضرّ بخططها الإستراتيجية، فيما الوصول إلى كلمة سواء وصيغة مقبولة للتعامل مع إيران أمر بالغ الضرورة، خاصة لدرء مخاطر تحول إيران وانفتاحها بشكل واسع على الصين وروسيا وكوريا الشمالية، فكان لا بدّ لنفتالي بينيت ان يبتلع أقواله واتهاماته، ومعه الانجليز الذين تخلوا عن حذرهم التقليدي وبالغوا في حماستهم للمواجهة مع إيران، ولكن ذلك أمر لم تدركه حتى الآن بعض فضائيات الخليج مثل «العربية» و»الحدث» ومثيلاتهما، التي لا تزال تنفخ في نار المواجهة .

 رأى بينيت أنّ لديه فرصة في لبنان، فالوضع الداخلي قد بلغ مرحلة حرجة من التدهور، تشكيل الحكومات يتعذر ويتعرقل بفعل داخلي وضغوط خارجية، وتحقيقات قاضي تحقيق تفجير المرفأ تثير من الغموض أكثر مما تكشف من حقائق، وفي مشاريع الفتنة والشقاق أخذت تصدر عن مرجعيات دينية – طائفية عليا، كان آخرها ما صدر عن بكركي، وسعر صرف الليرة ينهار برعاية حاكم مصرف لبنان ودولته المالية العميقة، وقد أوصل اللبنانيين إلى حدود العوز والفاقة، فيما نفذت الأدوية والمستلزمات الطبية من سوق الدواء بعد أن توقف استيرادها بسبب عدم توفر النقد الأجنبي، والإشكالات اليومية غير البريئة تؤذن في حال لم تتمّ محاصرتها من فورها بالتطور نحو اشتباك واسع قد يصل إلى الحرب الأهلية، كما حصل في الشمال وخلده وشويّا. مجموع هذه المعطيات جعلت من بينيت يفكر بتجريب حظه مع لبنان ومقاومته، ويفترض أنّ بإمكان جيشه الاشتباك مع إيران من هذه الخاصرة، وأنّ باستطاعته أيضاً العودة إلى مرحلة ما قبل حرب 2006، عندما كان «الإسرائيلي» يملك القدرة على توجيه ضرباته إلى لبنان عند كلّ حاجة أمنية أوسياسية، أو حتى عند أيّ شعبية انتخابيه مؤقتة، وذلك عندما يفرض قواعد اشتباك جديدة من موقع القوي، بدل قواعد الاشتباك المعمول بها منذ أكثر من عقد ونصف العقد.

اخذ بينيت قراره، وأخذت المقاومة إجراءها التحذيري، والنتيجة أنّ الاشتباكات بين المقاومة اللبنانية و(إسرائيل) بقيت محدودة والقصف المتبادل على جانبي الحدود طال مناطق غير مأهولة، وأرست المقاومة في نهاية الاشتباك بردودها الحاسمة قواعد الاشتباك المعمول بها، يضاف إلى ذلك أن الإدارة الأميركية، وإن كان لا مانع لديها من تغيير قواعد الاشتباك لصالح (إسرائيل) وربما ترغب في ذلك، إلا أنّ لديها كما ورد آنفاً، ما يدعوها لان تكون راغبة عن هذا التوتر، ثم ترى أنها مطمئنة إلى تموضعها الجديد، وبما صنعت من عوامل اقتتال داخلي وما زرعت من صواعق تفجير في بلادنا، كفيلة بظنّ الاستراتيجية الأميركية على إبقاء المنطقة غارقة في صراعاتها التي تحول دون قيامها بأي فعل ايجابي لصالح قضاياها الكبرى وأمنها القومي .

 لما كان نفتالي بينيت قد فشل في استغلال حادث السفينة، وفشل في تغيير قواعد الاشتباك مع لبنان ومقاومته، فهل يجد ضالته في غزة؟ وهي التي خسرت جزئياً مع خسارة حركة النهضة موقعها في تونس، ولا تجد حماساً عالياً لدى الأتراك مؤخراً، ولا يعطيها حليفها القطري أكثر من حقيبته الشهرية، ولم تستطع أن تحوّل انتصارها في حرب «سيف القدس» إلى إنجازات على الأرض، فيرفع الحصار عنها، وتصلها الكهرباء ووقودها، ويُعاد إعمارها، وغير ذلك مما تعهّد به الوسيط المصري الذي لدغ غزة ومقاومتها لا مرتين فحسب.

*سياسي فلسطيني مقيم في الكفير – جنين – فلسطين المحتلة

Iran embraces its Eurasian future

Iran embraces its Eurasian future

by Pepe Escobar, posted with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi was sworn in as the 8th president of Iran this Thursday at the Majlis (Parliament), two days after being formally endorsed by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei.

Representatives of the UN secretary-general; OPEC; the EU; the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU); the Inter-Islamic Union; and quite a few heads of state and Foreign Ministers were at the Majlis, including Iraq President Barham Salih and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The Islamic Republic of Iran now enters a new era in more ways than one. Khamenei himself outlined its contours in a short, sharp speech‘The Experience of Trusting the US’.

Khamenei’s strategic analysis, conveyed even before the final result of the JCPOA negotiations in Vienna in 2015, which I covered in my Asia Times ebook Persian Miniatures , turned out to be premonitory: “During the negotiations I repeatedly said they don’t uphold their promises.” So, in the end, “the experience tells us this is a deadly poison for us.” During the Rouhani administration, Khamenei adds, “it became clear that trusting the West doesn’t work”.

With perfect timing, a new, six-volume book, Sealed Secret, co-written by outgoing Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and two top JCPOA negotiators, Ali Akbar Salehi and Seyed Abbas Araghchi (who’s still involved in the current, stalled Vienna debate) will be published this week, for the moment only in Farsi.

Professor Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran summed up for me the road map ahead: “Iran’s foreign policy decisions are pretty clear. Iran will be putting less emphasis on Western nations, especially European, and more emphasis on the Global South, the East, neighboring countries, and of course that will include China and Russia. That doesn’t mean the Iranians are going to ignore Europe altogether, if they decide to return to the JCPOA. The Iranians would accept if they abide by their obligations. So far, we have seen no sign of that whatsoever.”

Marandi could not help referring to Khamenei’s speech: “It’s pretty clear; he’s saying, ‘we don’t trust the West, these last 8 years showed that’, he’s saying the next administration should learn from the experience of these 8 years.”

Yet the main challenge for Raisi will not be foreign policy, but the domestic framework, with sanctions still biting hard: “With regard to economic policy, it will be tilting more towards social justice and turning away from neoliberalism, expanding the safety net for the disenfranchised and the vulnerable.”

It’s quite intriguing to compare Marandi with the views of a seasoned Iranian diplomat who prefers to remain anonymous, and very well positioned as an observer of the domestic conflict:

“During Rouhani’s 8 years, contrary to the Supreme Leader’s advice, the government spent lots of time on negotiations, and they have not been investing on internal potential. Anyhow the 8 years are now finished, and contrary to Rouhani’s promises we currently have Iran’s worst economic and financial record in 50 years.”

The diplomat is adamant on “the importance of paying attention to our internal capacities and abilities, while having powerful economic relations with our neighbors as well as Russia, China, Latin America, South Africa as well as maintaining mutual respectable ties with Europeans and the US government, if it changes its behavior and accepts Iran as it is and not always trying to overthrow the Iranian state and harm its people by any possible means.”

Iranians are heirs to a tradition of at least 2,500 years of fine diplomacy. So once again our interlocutor had to stress, “the Supreme Leader has never, ever said or believed we should cut our relations with Europeans. Quite the opposite: he deeply believes in the notion of ‘dynamic diplomacy’, even concerning the US; he said multiple times we have no problem with the US if they deal with us with respect.”

And now, let’s time travel

There are no illusions in Tehran that Iran under Raisi, much more than under Rouhani, will remain the target of multiple “maximum pressure” and/or Hybrid War tactics deployed by Washington, Tel Aviv and NATOstan, crude false flags included, with the whole combo celebrated by US Think Tankland’s analyses penned by “experts” in Beltway cubicles.

All that is irrelevant in terms of what really matters ahead in the Southwest Asia chessboard.

The late, great René Grousset, in his 1951 classic L’Empire des Steppes, has pointed out “how Iran, renewing itself for fifty centuries”, has “always given proof of astonishing continuity.” It was because of this strength that Iranian civilization, as much as Chinese civilization, has assimilated all foreigners that conquered is soil, from Seljuks to Mongols: “Every time, because of the radiance of its culture, Iranism reappeared with renewed vitality, on the road to a new renaissance.”

The possibility of a “new renaissance”, now, implies a step beyond the “neither East or West” first conceptualized by Ayatollah Khomeini: it’s rather a back to the (Eurasian) roots, Iran reviving its past to tackle the new, multipolar, future.

The political heart of Iran lies in the sophisticated urban organization of the northern plateau, the result of a rolling, pluri-millennial process. All along Grousset’s “fifty centuries”, the plateau has been the house of Iranian culture and the stable heart of the state.

Around this central space there are plenty of territories historically and linguistically linked to Persia and Iran: in Eastern Anatolia, in Central Asia and Afghanistan, in the Caucasus, in Western Pakistan. Then there are Shi’ite territories of other ethnic groups, mostly Arab, in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah), Yemen (the Zaidites) and the Persian Gulf (Bahrain, the Shi’ites in Hasa in Saudi Arabia).

This is the Shi’ite arc – evolving in a complex Iranization process that is foremost political and religious, and not cultural and linguistic. Outside of Iran, I have seen in my travels how Arab Shi’ites in Iraq, Lebanon and the Gulf, Dari/Farsi Shi’ites in Afghanistan, those of Pakistan and India, and Turcophone Shi’ites in Azerbaijan look up towards political Iran.

So Iran’s large zone of influence relies mostly on Shi’ism, and not on Islamic radicalism or the Persian language. It’s Shi’ism that allows political power in Iran to keep a Eurasian dimension – from Lebanon to Afghanistan and Central Asia – and that reflects once again Grousset’s “continuity” when he refers to Persian/Iranian history.

From Ancient History to the medieval era, it was always out of imperial projects, born in Southwest Asia and /or the Mediterranean basin, that came the drive to attempt the creation of a Eurasian territory.

The Persians, who were halfway between Mediterranean Europe and Central Asia, were the first who tried to build a Eurasian empire from Asia to the Mediterranean, but they were halted in their expansion towards Europe by the Greeks in the 5th century B.C.

Then it was up to Alexander The Great, in pure badass blitzkrieg mode, to venture all the way to Central Asia and India, de facto founding the first Eurasian empire. Which happened to materialize, to a large extent, the Persian empire.

Then something even more extraordinary happened: the simultaneous presence of the Parthian and Kushan empires between the Roman Empire and the Han Empire during the first two centuries of the first millennium.

It was this interaction that first allowed commercial and cultural trade and connectivity between the two extremities of Eurasia, between the Romans and the Han Chinese.

Yet the largest Eurasian territorial space, founded between the 7th and 10th centuries, following the Arab conquests, were the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates. Islam was at the heart of these Arab conquests, remixing previous imperial compositions, from Mesopotamia to the Persians, Greeks and Romans.

Historically, that was the first truly Eurasian economic, cultural and political arc, from the 8th to the 11th century, before Genghis Khan monopolized The Big Picture.

All that is very much alive in the collective unconscious of Iranians and Chinese. That’s why the China-Iran strategic partnership deal is much more than a mere $400 billion economic arrangement. It’s a graphic manifestation of what the revival of the Silk Roads is aiming at. And it looks like Khamenei had already seen which way the (desert) wind was blowing years before the fact.

Iran Vows Crushing Response to Any Measure against Its Interests, National Security – Official

AUGUST 3, 2021

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By Staff, Agencies

An informed Iranian source said the Islamic Republic will give a strong and crushing response to any measure taken against its national interests and security, blaming Britain and the US for the consequences of such moves against Tehran.

“Although the Islamic Republic of Iran considers threats posed by the officials of Western countries and the Zionist regime to be mostly of propaganda value, any measure against Iran’s interests and national security will be met with strong and crushing response, with Washington and London being directly responsible for consequences of such moves,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity with an Iranian news outlet close to the Supreme National Security Council, said on Monday.

The Iranian source’s remarks came after the United States and the United Kingdom joined the ‘Israeli’ entity in accusing Iran of orchestrating Thursday’s attack on an ‘Israeli’ tanker off the coast of Oman, despite Tehran’s firm denial.

“Upon review of the available information, we are confident that Iran conducted this attack, which killed two innocent people, using one-way explosive UAVs,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Sunday.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also reflected on the matter, saying that the “unlawful and callous” attack had highly likely been carried out by Iran using one or more drones.

Later on, ‘Israeli’ newspaper Kan reported on Sunday that Tel Aviv has received a “green light” from Washington and London to carry out a “response” to the attack.

According to Iran’s Nournews news agency, the accusations against Iran come despite the fact that no evidence or a single proof has so far been provided to prove Iran’s role in this incident.

“Although the statements made by Blinken and Raab are in line with their Iranophobia project to impose their excessive demands in negotiations on [the revival of Iran’s] nuclear deal, they are also indicative of West’s extreme weakness in the area of intelligence and are aimed at creating a new crisis to help them meet their political goals,” it added.

The media report noted that Western countries’ false expression of concern about undermining of maritime security comes despite the fact that both the United States and the UK have many cases of piracy on their records.

“They have also turned a blind eye to the Zionist regime’s acts of terror against other countries and its frequent acts of mischief aimed at making shipping lines unsafe,” the report noted.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh on Sunday said recent accusations leveled against Tehran by the Zionist entity and the United States about attacking an ‘Israeli’-owned merchant ship in the Sea of Oman are “childish” and influenced by the Zionist lobby in the United States.

“The illegitimate Zionist entity must stop leveling baseless charges against Iran. This is not the first time that this regime brings up such accusations [against Tehran],” he added.

Iran Behind Strike on Israeli-Managed Tanker?

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By Stephen Lendman

Source

On July 30, Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime said an attack on the Liberian-flagged Japanese-owned Mercer Street tanker it manages killed two crew members onboard.

The incident occurred in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Oman.

According to Tehran-based Al-Alam News, attacking the Mercer Street was in response to Israeli aggression on Syria’s Dabaa airport that killed two resistance fighters.

On Friday, Zodiak Maritime said the following:

“Details of the incident are still being established and an investigation into the incident is currently underway.” 

“We continue to work closely with the UKMTO (United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations) and other relevant authorities.”

Calling the incident “suspected piracy (sic),” the company said it’s “not aware of harm to any other” crew members.

According to Refinitiv ship tracking, the Israeli-managed tanker was en route to the UAE port city of Fujairah from Tanzania.

It continues to an unnamed location with a US naval escort.

Press TV said the attack came “against a backdrop of the Israeli regime’s various assaults on cargo ships across the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere.”

A statement by Britain’s war ministry said it’s “aware of reports of an attack on a merchant vessel off the coast of Oman.” 

“UK military headquarters in the region are currently conducting investigations.”

Israel’s Ynet News quoted an unnamed Bennett regime official vowing a tough response.

An unnamed Biden regime official called the incident an attack by more than one drone — with no further elaboration.

A report by Dryad Global maritime intelligence said drones in the area were spotted before the attack.

In early June, Iran’s Kharg, its largest warship, mysteriously caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Oman near the Hormuz Strait.

At the time, Iranian media reported that crew members on board were rescued, dozens injured from the incident.

Around the same time, a large-scale fire occurred at Iran’s Tondgooyan Petrochemical Company.

In April, Israel was believed behind an attack on Iran’s MV Saviz commercial vessel in the Red Sea.

Ahead of the incident, an unnamed Biden regime official said Israel informed the US of a planned attack on the vessel. 

These and other incidents in recent years heightened tensions between Iran, the US, and Israel.

On August 1, interventionist Blinken and his counterpart Yair Lapid discussed a joint Biden/Bennett regime response to the July 30 incident against The Mercer tanker — according to State Department mouthpiece Price.

The incident comes against the backdrop of Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif’s sharp rebuke of the US and E3 for pressuring, bullying, and blackmailing Iran to accept unacceptable JCPOA changes.

Regional tensions remain heightened at a time of nuclear deadlock.

What Biden regime envoy for Iran Robert Malley falsely called its “unrealistic demands” suggests that the US and E3 intend abandoning the JCPOA if Iran won’t accept what’s unacceptable.

That’s where things appear to be heading.

Years of negotiations for JCPOA agreement in 2015 proved once again that diplomatic outreach to the US-dominated West assures failure even when deals are made.

How to Undermine a Diplomatic Triumph

About me

26 July 2021

by Lawrence Davidson

Part I—The Backstory

The true status of current negotiations to reinstate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran is unknown to the American public—most of whom are tragically indifferent to the outcome. This is so even though the successful negotiation of this deal with Iran back in 2015 represents one of the greatest triumphs of diplomacy in the last hundred years. What we do know is this triumph was followed by tragedy—a premeditated tragedy—the sort of tragedy only fools can produce. But very few Americans care. That is the way it is with foreign policy. On the one hand, you can start wars to great public acclaim, and on the other, you can destroy hard-won diplomatic achievements almost without public notice. 

At the end of President Obama’s term of office (January 2017) the JCPOA was complete and in force. In exchange for a lifting of “nuclear-related sanctions,” Iran undertook not to pursue research that might allow her to develop nuclear weapons. Up until May of 2018 “Iran’s compliance has been repeatedly verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which oversees the most intrusive inspections regime ever negotiated.” It was in May of 2018 that Donald Trump, perhaps the most despicable human being to hold the presidency since Andrew Jackson, withdrew from the JCPOA, apparently for two reasons: (1) was the treaty was completed by Obama and Trump wanted to destroy the achievements of his non-white predecessor, and (2) Trump thought he could bully the Iranians into a “better deal.” It is important to note that the other signatories to the treaty did not initially follow Trump’s lead. “The leaders of France, the United Kingdom, and Germany issued a joint statement on behalf of their countries that reemphasized their support for the deal and its importance to the nonproliferation regime.” The United Nations expressed “deep concern” over Trump’s decision and released a statement in support of the JCPOA. Russia’s Foreign Ministry also reiterated its support for the JCPOA, and further stated that “U.S. actions compromise international trust in the IAEA.”

How did the Iranians react to Trump’s withdrawal from the treaty and reimposition of harsh sanctions? At first, Tehran suggested that if the other signatories to the agreement would remain loyal to their obligations, Iran too would keep to the treaty. Unfortunately, most of the European nations involved would soon succumb to U.S. economic pressure and cease to hold to their obligations. Nonetheless, it was not until a year following Trump’s irresponsible act that Iran announced that “The Islamic Republic of Iran in reaction to the exit of America from the nuclear deal and the bad promises of European countries in carrying out their obligations will restart a part of the nuclear activities which were stopped under the framework of the nuclear deal.” Even while the Iranian government took this position, it insisted that if at any time the United States returned to the treaty and removed all nuclear-related sanctions, Iran too would return to its obligations. Tehran even suggested a process whereby the U.S. and Iran would take simultaneous steps to that end. 

Everyone but Trump devotees, Israel and its supporters, and those Iranian exiles who would like to see the return of the country’s monarchy recognized that the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA had been a mistake. Accordingly, in the campaign run-up to the 2020 presidential election in the U.S., the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, promised that upon election he would rejoin the treaty if Iran returned to compliance as well. 

Biden did win, but he has not yet fulfilled his promise. Instead, he entered an extended period of negotiations that is still ongoing. At first it was said that these were about “who goes first” when it comes to returning to requirements of the treaty. Was Iran to give up the small steps in nuclear enrichment since the Trump withdrawal, or was the U.S. going to go first in removing the draconian sanctions placed on Iran by the Trump administration? It was Iran who realized the childish nature of this question and offered a simultaneous return to the compliance mentioned above. While the Biden administration rejected this offer, it has been reported that now both sides are working toward “simultaneous, sequential steps” back to requirements of the treaty. 


Part II—Misleading the American Public


In the meantime, the Biden administration has been releasing misinformation to the public. For instance, Biden has insisted that sanctions relief depends on Iran “returning to compliance.” But, of course, for anyone familiar with the relevant events, it was Washington that broke the treaty and needed to return to compliance. Any subsequent Iranian actions following Trump’s folly were, and still are, perfectly legal under the terms of the JCPOA. Joe Biden can continue to justify draconian economic sanctions in this way—sanctions that are ruining the lives of millions—only because he is addressing an ignorant American audience. 

When Iran failed to be bullied, Biden’s diplomats adopted a “shift the blame” tactic. In May 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “Iran, I think, knows what it needs to do to come back into compliance on the nuclear side, and what we haven’t yet seen is whether Iran is ready and willing to make a decision to do what it has to do. That’s the test and we don’t yet have an answer.” Translation: the American people should know that we, the Biden administration, are trying, but those Iranians seem to be too thick-headed to do what is necessary. So if the whole thing fails, it is their fault and not ours. 

Blinken went on, “If both sides can return to the original deal, then we can use that as a foundation both to look at how to make the deal itself potentially longer and stronger—and also [to] engage on these other issues, whether it’s Iran’s support for terrorism [or] its destabilizing support for different proxies throughout the Middle East.”

That scenario will not encourage the Iranians. They have repeatedly stated that the JCPOA, and the present negotiations, are about two things: sanctions and the scope of nuclear development. It is not about Iranian foreign policy, which has been so blandly assumed to be “terrorism” by both Trump and Biden. If Mr. Blinken keeps tagging on these extras, we will still be running in circles come Christmas.   

What is the diplomatic aim of the Biden administration? Is it to pursue the Democrats’ traditional, and bankrupt, aim of sounding as tough on foreign policy as the Republicans? That irrelevant goal (remember most Americans don’t care about foreign policy) would not be surprising coming from a professional Democratic politician of Joe Biden’s generation. However, after all the work that has gone into the JCPOA and all the suffering endured by the Iranian population due to brutal U.S. sanctions, such a petty motive reflects the mentality of a street gang competing with rivals, rather than the peaceful ends of an alleged civilized society. 

With statements like this, Secretary of State Blinken transforms himself into someone we might mistake for a

Fox News TV anchor. It would seem that many who pride themselves on eschewing Fox’s lies are ready to swallow whole Mr. Blinken’s bunk. 

Part III—An Israeli Connection?

We know that ex-Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and ex-President Trump were in agreement on Iran policy. In this regard, all the yelling and screaming about Iran’s nuclear program carried on by both men hid their real goal. Particularly for Netanyahu, the hyperbole was aimed at creating a “credible reason” to force regime change in Iran, even if it meant a U.S. invasion. Essentially, the model here was Iraq. Netanyahu was ready to pursue this end till the last dying American soldier. Obviously, the JCPOA was a major obstacle in that path. So was Barack Obama, who thought he was helping Israel and the world in general by negotiating the treaty. 

Now Netanyahu and Trump are gone from office. However, why should we believe that the new Israeli government has changed the ultimate goal? And why should we believe that Joe Biden—who is, as he never fails to remind us, an “ironclad” Zionist—will really follow in Obama’s footsteps?

In June, Israel sent some of its highest-ranking leaders to see Biden. These included Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Both meetings were basically about Iran. “Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch,” Biden told Rivlin. This was billed as a “stark warning” to Iran—a country which has, for religious as well as other reasons, disavowed the desire for such a weapon. How many Americans know this? Does President Biden know this?

Many scholars and other experts in Middle East policy believe that “Mr. Biden’s calculations are rooted in a different era of American-Israeli relations—when Israel’s security concerns commanded far more attention than Palestinian grievances.” This is true. But there is a more personal connection. Biden personally identifies with Israel like no other U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson. He collects yarmulkes and is reported to have knelt down in an impromptu “show of respect” after learning that Rivka Ravitz, President Rivlin’s Orthodox chief of staff, was the mother of 12 children. The Israeli Orthodox Jews often have such large families out of fear of a “demographic holocaust”—that is, the consequences of the Palestinians’ much higher birth rate than that of most Israeli Jews. Finally, Biden has completely accepted the highly debatable notion that world Jewry, many of whom are not Zionists, cannot be safe apart from the existence of Israel. 

Those same experts also believe that, when it comes to Israel, President Biden’s approach has much to do with domestic politics. Thus, getting back to the JCPOA is less important than catering to the desires of the Israel Lobby. This only makes sense for a politician born and bred to the power of that lobby.

Part IV—Conclusion


The U.S. and Israeli leaders are suffering from a group-think environment and tunnel vision, all shaped in good part by political pressure generated by dominant special interests.  At least in this instance, one cannot say the same for the Iranians who, though led by a rigid religious elite, broke through their tunnel vision and joined the JCPOA treaty. The present stalemate is the work of American ideologues tied hand and foot to a major U.S. lobby. 

Outside the tunnel one can see the obvious answer to the present stalemate. Having been polite and empathetic toward Rivlin and Gantz, Joe Biden should ask over to the Oval Office an outsider, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. At the end of June Guterres said, “I appeal to the United States to lift or waive its sanctions outlined in the plan.” He also appealed to Iran to return to full implementation of the deal. Right from the beginning of Biden’s election, the Iranians have been willing to follow Guterres’s lead. It is Biden who has temporized while being encouraged by his confidants from Jerusalem. 

Cleric politician calls on Raisi to follow long-term strategic ties with neighbors

24 July 2021 

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Cleric politician calls on Raisi to follow long-term strategic ties with neighbors. A member of the Expediency Council has called on the incoming administration of Ebrahim Raisi to establish long-term strategic ties with neighbors and countries which are not influenced by the United States’ anti-Iran position.

TEHRAN (Iran News) – Cleric politician calls on Raisi to follow long-term strategic ties with neighbors. A member of the Expediency Council has called on the incoming administration of Ebrahim Raisi to establish long-term strategic ties with neighbors and countries which are not influenced by the United States’ anti-Iran position.

Gholamreza Mesbahi Moqaddam also said “the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is set by the Supreme National Security Council” and the president is chairman of the council and a change in government will not lead to a shift in foreign policy.

“Of Course,” the cleric politician remarked, “approaches are different. Certain approaches are resistant in the face of global arrogance and some are flexible.”

On his prediction of the foreign policy of the Raisi government, he told IRNA,  “My prediction of the approach of the government of Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi is resistance against global arrogance.”

Noting that a “balanced approach” and not a cut of ties with countries is favorable, Mesbahi Moqaddam said such an approach has presented Iran to the world as an independent country which acts based on its interests.

The Expediency Council member also said his prediction is that the United States will not lift all sanctions against Iran even if the 2015 nuclear deal is revived.

The Americans will not lift all sanctions because they consider sanctions as a “pressure tool” to follow their policies against Iran, noted the cleric politician.

Iran and the remaining parties to the nuclear deal, officially called the JCPOA, have been holding sixth round of talks. The last round ended on June 20.

The U.S. is participating in the talks indirectly. Iran has said it will not talk directly to the U.S. until Washington rejoins the agreement and recommit itself to the legally binding agreement.

Iran’s chief negotiator Abbas Araqchi has said the next Iranian government will continue the talks.

“It is clear that the Vienna talks must wait for a new administration in Iran. This is a requirement of any democracy,” Araqchi tweeted on July 17.

He added, “We are in a period of transition and a democratic transfer of power is taking place in Tehran.”

Raisi will be sworn in as president on August 5.

There is still no official word about Raisi’s choice for the post of foreign minister and his foreign policy team.

Related

Red Alert in Iraq… Time for the U.S. to Decide

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amro@amrobilal.net), is an independent Palestinian writer and Political researcher. He writes for various Arabic news outlets, some of which are Al-Akhbar newspaperAl-Mayadeen Satellite News ChannelArabi 21, and Rai Al-Youm, and UPROOTED PALESTINIANS

July 15, 2021

By Amro Allan

‘President Joe Biden may be nearly done with America’s two-decade military involvement in Afghanistan, but another nearby war zone, where U.S. troops have been based for almost as long, is threatening to become a major thorn in the White House’s side: Iraq’, says Foreign Policy in its Situation Report on July 8, 2021, entitled ‘Red Alert in Iraq’. This comes after two fairly heated weeks in Iraq and Syria, where an escalation in the resistance groups operations against American troops was noticeable, both in frequency and in nature.

For instance, on Wednesday, July 7, 14 rockets hit Ain al-Assad Air Base, the largest military installation in Iraq housing U.S. troops, wounding at least two American soldiers. Another suicide drone attack, a day before, targeted U.S. forces based in Erbil airport, not far from where the U.S. consulate is located. Also, there were multiple improvised explosive device (IED) attacks against convoys transporting U.S. military logistic supplies, that took place in various Iraqi towns and cities in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, in Eastern Syria, U.S. occupation forces were busy fending off suicide drone and rocket attacks targeting al-Omar oilfield and nearby areas. Al-Omar oilfield is the largest in the country, and It is invested with both the U.S. forces and their collaborators  the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

No American soldiers have been killed in these recent intense activities in Iraq and Syria. However, Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, explains ‘It’s already very intense. The strikes aren’t killing people, but they could, easily, if they want them to’, and he adds ‘The missile defences are quietly working quite well. But what we haven’t seen is determined efforts to kill Americans’.

Many analysts consider this escalation a retaliation for the second round of U.S. airstrikes under Biden’s administration on June 27. Those airstrikes used the pretext ‘Iran-backed militia’, although in reality, they targeted a static Iraqi-Syrian border position of the Iraqi security forces (Popular Mobilisation Forces) under Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, killing four members of brigade 14 of the PMF.

While agreeing with this analysis in principle, I believe widening the scope would put the latest events in the broader context they deserve.

It is quite clear that Biden’s administration’s main foreign policy strategy, and indeed the U.S. establishment’s attitude in general of late, is to concentrate its overseas efforts on opposing the rise of China and Russia:  what Biden dubbed defending and strengthening democracy. This focus shift first took shape during Obama’s days in 2012 with his (unsuccessful) ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy and it has remained in principal a U.S. foreign policy objective since. But this shift naturally requires an improved allocation of U.S. resources.

Thus, when Biden came to power, he followed in the steps of his two predecessors in aiming to disengage from the ‘Middle East’ and West Asia in general as much as possible.

As the QUINCY Paper No. 7 entitled ‘Nothing Much to Do: Why America Can Bring All Troops Home From the Middle East’, published on June 24, 2021, poses the question ‘Three successive American Presidents — Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden — have pledged to end the post 9/11 wars and reunite U.S. soldiers with their families.

Yet, fulfilling that pledge has proven tougher than expected. Do U.S. interests in the region require so much of the U.S. military that full-scale withdrawals are not feasible?’. The paper argued that ‘the United States has no compelling military need to keep a permanent troop presence in the Middle East.

The two core U.S. interests in the region — preventing a hostile hegemony and ensuring the free flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz — can be achieved without a permanent military presence. There are no plausible paths for an adversary, regional or extra-regional, to achieve a situation that would harm these core U.S. interests. No country can plausibly establish hegemony in the Middle East, nor can a regional power close the Strait of Hormuz and strangle the flow of oil. To the extent that the United States might need to intervene militarily, it would not need a permanent military presence in the region to do so’.

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, to be presumably fully completed by September 2021, was the first manifestation of Biden’s drawdown policy from West Asia. However, when it came to Iraq and Syria, the equations were quite different.

Despite Biden’s pledge to return to the JCPOA in his election campaign, there was an assessment that was widely spread between Iranian officials which says that the Biden administration would capitalise on Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ policy to extract concessions from Iran, before re-joining the JCPOA. Those concessions are related to two aspects:

  • Change in Iran’s foreign policy, especially its support for resistance groups in the region. This is to  the benefit of the Zionist entity, which remains a core influence on U.S. foreign policy.
  • Imposing restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missiles programme.

This American approach became apparent after Biden took office, and during the latest Vienna talks to salvage the nuclear deal. However, contrary to Biden’s false assumptions, the Americans found out that Iran will not give them any concessions, and that it meant what it said when Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei stated back in 2015 ‘We negotiated with the U.S. on the nuclear issue for specific reasons. The Americans performed well in the talks, but we didn’t and we won’t allow negotiation with the Americans on other issues’.

This has put the Americans in a quandary. Biden found that he could not withdraw from Iraq and Syria without getting guarantees from Iran and the Axis of Resistance related to the security of the Zionist entity, as the Axis of Resistance will never offer any guarantees at the expense of the Palestinians’ inalienable rights. Nor could Biden maintain the same level of American involvement in the ‘Middle East’ indefinitely. As this would be at the expense of the main U.S. foreign policy strategy, “Facing the Chinese challenge”, according to the terminology the  U.S. uses.

Furthermore, this American quandary has deepened after the battle of the ‘Sword of Jerusalem’ exposed many of the Zionist Entity’s [Israel]  weaknesses tactically and strategically in the face of the Axis of Resistance.

Based on this overview, we can expect a fairly heated summer for the U.S. occupation forces in the region, as from the Axis of Resistance point of view, the negotiations for the American withdrawal from the ‘Middle East’ and West Asia in general are not open-ended.

And it seems that the U.S. needs a nudge to decide whether: to start a meaningful and peaceful drawdown, with minimal losses; or risk a new ‘Middle East’ all-out war by trying to impose its sovereign will on the whole region.

And I believe, based on the Americans’ experience of the past two decades, that the consensus within the U.S. institutes is that the latter option would be highly costly. Not to mention that based on the current balance of powers in the region, as we read them, the outcome is not guaranteed to be in the favour of the U.S., nor in the favour of  “Israel” its closest ally.

لماذا تخشى «إسرائيل» حرباً جديدة مع لبنان؟

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ابراهيم الأمين

الإثنين 12 تموز 2021

تلهّي سياسيين أو ناشطين في مناقشة الخلافات الداخلية على طريقتهم، أمر تعوّده الناس منذ قيام هذا البلد المسخ. لكن الأمر لا يستقيم عندما يتصدّى هؤلاء، بالتعاون مع ماكينة إعلامية تحتاج إلى «مطابقة للمواصفات المهنية»، للتعامل مع التدخلات الخارجية كأنها جزء من منازعات قوى السلطة داخل الحكم وخارجه. وحتى الذين يريدون تحديد المسؤوليات عن الأزمة، يسارعون الى رمي كرة النار في حضن اللبنانيين حصراً، بطريقة تبرّر الدور السلبي للحراك الإقليمي والدولي الذي يتحمّل مسؤولية كبيرة، وكبيرة جداً، عن الأزمة وعن تفاقمها في الآونة الأخيرة.

في سلوكيات الدول، إقليمياً وعالمياً، ما يكفي للجزم بأن هذا الخارج لم يكن يوماً يريد لبنان إلا وفق ما يناسب استراتيّجيته. وما نعرفه، بعد كل أنواع التجارب، هو أن ما ينفع إسرائيل يتقدم على كل أمر آخر. وهذا ما يستدعي مراقبة ما يقوله وما يفكر به العدو حيال الأزمة اللبنانية.

تبدو «إسرائيل»، هذه الأيام، منشغلة بالأزمة التي تواجه لبنان، وبتأثير تفاقمها على أمنها «القومي». وتنقل وسائل إعلام العدو تصريحات وتحليلات وتسريبات، عن مسؤولين في قادة الحكومة والجيش والأمن، بأن لبنان دخل مرحلة الانهيار الشامل، وأن هناك «خشية» من أن يتحوّل الانهيار الى «ورقة قوة في يد حزب الله». ومع كل قراءة، يجري الحديث عن التشاور الدائم بين «إسرائيل» وأميركا وأوروبا ودول عربية حول ما يجب القيام به، ليس لمنع الانهيار، بل لـ«منع وقوع لبنان في يد حزب الله».
ما الذي تخشاه «إسرائيل»؟

أولاً، تبدي تحفّظاً عن العلاج السياسي الذي يتطلّب تغطية حزب الله أو موافقته، وتحاول دفع القوى الخارجية المؤثّرة الى خوض معركة إبعاد أي حكومة جديدة عن الحزب ومنع مشاركته فيها. وهي تعتقد بأن مجرد وجود الحزب داخل الحكومة سيقيّدها ويمنعها من القيام بخطوات تناسب متطلبات الغرب. وحصة «إسرائيل» من سلطة المطالب الغربية تركّز على فكرة إمساك الدولة بسلاح المقاومة أو تقييده، وعلى فرض آليات تعاون أمني مع لبنان يوفر الأمن لحدود إسرائيل ويمنع أيّ دعم، ولو سياسي، لقوى المقاومة في فلسطين.
ثانياً، تبدي «إسرائيل» رفضاً دائماً لتسليح الجيش اللبناني بما قد يسمح له بعرقلة نشاطها في الجو أو البحر، أو حتى في البر. لكنها، اليوم، تريد من العالم التدخل لمنع انهيار الجيش، لكن شرط ربط مساعدته بآلية تسمح للغرب بالإشراف المباشر على عمله. وهي تعتبر أن كل فراغ أمني يحصل بسبب تراجع الجيش أو القوى الأمنية سيملأه حزب الله الذي سيتصرف براحة أكبر في حال تفكّك القوى الأمنية والعسكرية.

ثالثاً، تريد «إسرائيل» تعزيز الضغط الاقتصادي والمعيشي على الدولة وعلى الناس لدفعهم إلى انتفاضة في وجه حزب الله. لكنها تخشى أن يعمد الحزب الى استغلال نفوذه الميداني الكبير براً وبحراً، والى استغلال علاقاته وقدراته لتوفير ما يعطّل مفعول الحصار على لبنان. ولذلك، تحاول الضغط كي يلجأ الغرب، بالتعاون مع «عربه»، إلى وضع آليات للإشراف على المساعدات المقترحة للبنان، منها نشر قوات أجنبية ولو على شكل «قوى إسناد» لعملية توزيع المساعدات كما يروّج المغفّلون. ويعتبر العدو أن مزيداً من التورّط الغربي في لبنان سيسمح ليس فقط بممارسة الضغط المباشر على الحكومة، وبالتالي على حزب الله، بل ربما يوفر أيضاً عناصر حماية لقوى ومجموعات لبنانية تخشى المواجهة المباشرة والكاملة مع الحزب. وينبغي لفت الانتباه الى أن جانباً من الضغوط الإسرائيلية الكبيرة على واشنطن لعدم العودة الى الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، يرتبط بتقدير العدو أن رفع العقوبات سيسمح بضخ مليارات الدولارات في الخزينة الإيرانية، وسيجد جزء من هذه الأموال طريقه إلى حزب الله، كما أنه لا يوجد ما يمنع إيران من استغلال جزء من أرباح النفط لزيادة نفوذها في بيروت.

رابعاً، تشهد «إسرائيل» نقاشاً حول طريقة التعامل مع لبنان، وما إذا كان ينبغي الاستمرار بشعار أن كل لبنان رهينة للحزب ويجب أن يدفع الجميع ثمن ذلك، أو العودة الى سياسات الثمانينيات حول وجود إمكانية للتعاون مع قوى في لبنان، أو استغلال الظروف الحالية لخلق بيئة معارضة لحزب الله والعودة الى العمل داخلياً.

قلق العدو من كونه مكبّل اليدين إزاء أي عمل عسكري مكشوف مستمر. لذلك، يبدو منطقياً أن يفكر بعض قادته بأن الفوضى السياسية والأمنية والاقتصادية في لبنان قد تسمح بمزيد من الأعمال الأمنية ــــ العسكرية ضد حزب الله، ربطاً بما لا ينفكّ الإسرائيليون عن ترديده من أن حزب الله، رغم الأزمة الحالية وتعقيداتها، «مستمر في برنامج دقة الصواريخ والتزود بمنظومات دفاع جوي تهدد حرية عمل سلاح الجو الإسرائيلي في سماء لبنان».

وإلى ذلك، كان لافتاً ما نقل أمس عن مصدر أمني إسرائيلي من أن «الوضع القابل للانفجار في لبنان، يقرّب إسرائيل من المواجهة… وحرب لبنان الثالثة مسألة وقت».

ما الذي يعنيه ذلك، ولماذا يفكّر العدو بأن الأمور قد تتطوّر الى حدود نشوب حرب جديدة، وهل يتم الأمر على شكل ما فعله في كل حروبه السابقة، أم أن لديه خططاً تفترض ردوداً قاسية من المقاومة تقود الأمور الى المواجهة… أم أنه يخشى أن يبادر حزب الله نفسه الى شنّ الحرب… وخصوصاً بعدما علّمتنا غزّة أن زمن ابتداء الحروب من جانبنا بات متاحاً؟

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“الإنذار الأحمر” وفشل الرهان الأميركي

11/07/2021

عمرو علان

المصدر: الميادين نت

لا يأتي التصعيد العسكري ضد القوات الأميركية في العراق وسوريا مفاجئاً لبعض متتبّعي السياسة الأميركية في المنطقة.

قالت مجلة “فورين بوليسي”، في “تقرير الوضع” ليوم الخميس، 8 تموز/يوليو 2021، إن العراق دخل في حالة “الإنذار الأحمر”. وأضاف التقرير أنه ربما يكون الرئيس جو بايدن على وشك التخلص من أعباء الانخراط العسكري الأميركي في أفغانستان، والذي امتد إلى قرابة عقدين من الزمن، إلاّ أن هناك ساحة حربٍ أخرى توجد فيها قواتٌ أميركيةٌ، وتُنذر بأن تتحوّل إلى شوكةٍ في خاصرة “البيت الأبيض”، في إشارةٍ إلى الساحة العراقية. 

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يأتي إعلان “الإنذار الأحمر” بعد تصاعد العمليات العسكرية ضد القوات الأميركية في الساحة العراقية، وتوأمها الساحة السورية، بحيث قامت قوى المقاومة المسلَّحة، خلال الأسبوعين الأخيرين، باستهداف عدة مواقع في العراق وسوريا توجد فيها قواتٌ أميركيةٌ، كان بينها – على سبيل المثال لا الحصر – استهداف “قاعدة الأسد” الجوية في العراق بأربعة عشر صاروخاً، أدَّت إلى وقوع إصابات في صفوف الأميركيين. وتمّ أيضاً استهداف مطار أربيل، الذي تتمركز في داخله قوات أميركية – والذي يقع بالقرب منه مبنى القنصلية الأميركية – بعدة مُسَيَّرات مفخَّخ.، وبالإضافة إلى تلك الهجمات، تعرَّضت عدة قوافل دعمٍ لوجستيٍّ للقوات الأميركية لهجماتٍ عبر عبواتٍ ناسفةٍ في أكثر من مدينةٍ عراقيةٍ.

أمّا الساحة السورية فشهدت، في الأيام القليلة الماضية، عدةَ هجمات بالمُسَيَّرات المفخَّخة على مواقع لقوات الاحتلال الأميركي الموجودة في حقل العمر النفطي.

لا يأتي هذا التصعيد العسكري ضد القوات الأميركية في العراق وسوريا مفاجئاً لبعض متتبّعي السياسة الأميركية في المنطقة. لعلّ القراءة الأدقّ تضع هذه الهجمات في سياق المعركة المستمرة من أجل إنهاء الوجود العسكري الأميركي في منطقة الهلال الخصيب، لا لمجرد كونها ردّاً ظرفياً على العدوان الجوي الأميركي الأخير في 27 حزيران/يونيو، والذي استهدف مواقع الحشد الشعبي العراقي المرابطة عند الحدود العراقية السورية. 

من خلال متابعة أداء إدارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن لبضعة شهور، منذ تولّيه دفّة الحكم، يبدو أنها جاءت، وفي مخيِّلتها مقارَبة لوضع المنطقة، تقوم في جزءٍ من جوانبها على أساس الاستثمار في سياسات إدارة الرئيس دونالد ترامب السابقة، والمتعارَف عليها بـ”سياسة الضغوط القصوى” تجاه إيران، بحيث بات واضحاً في السياسة الأميركية الخارجية الميل إلى محاولة التَّخفُّف من أعباء منطقة غربي آسيا العسكرية قدر المستطاع، بهدف التركيز على منافسة صعود جمهورية الصين الشعبية في الساحة الدولية. ويبدو أن رؤية التخفُّف هذه كانت تقوم على تصوُّرين اثنين:

– التصور الأول يقوم على الانسحاب العسكري من أفغانستان، كما يجري الآن فعلاً، في محاولةٍ لإقفال باب الاستنزاف في هذه الساحة، ولاسيما أن الانسحاب الأميركي مِن أفغانستان لا يؤدّي إلى زيادة التهديدات على أمن الكيان الصهيوني. 

– أمّا التصور الثاني فيقوم على العودة السريعة إلى الاتفاق النووي الإيراني، على أساس قراءةٍ تقول بوصول إيران إلى مرحلة الإنهاك التامّ، بفعل “سياسة الضغوط القصوى”. وعليه، صارت اليوم إيران جاهزةً لتقديم التنازلات المطلوبة أميركياً في سياساتها الخارجية في الحد الأدنى، ولاسيما تلك التي تتعلق بمنطقة غربيّ آسيا ودعم حركات المقاومة في الإقليم، الامر الذي يجعل استمرار الوجود العسكري الأميركي – ولو في حدوده الدنيا – في العراق وسوريا، غير ذي تكلفةٍ تذكر. وكذلك، من الممكن إجبار إيران على تقديم تنازلاتٍ في برنامجها الصاروخي الساعي لتطوير الصواريخ الباليستية في الحد الأقصى، بحسب الفهم الأميركي.

إلاّ أن التصور الثاني اصطدم بمعطيين، أحدهما قديمٌ والآخرُ مستجدّ. أمّا المعطى القديم، فيتمثّل بأن إيران كانت قد رفضت، على نحو حاسمٍ، مناقشة برنامجها الصاروخي في أثناء جولات التفاوض التي أفضت إلى توقيع الاتفاق النووي مع إدارة الرئيس الأميركي الأسبق باراك أوباما في عام 2015، ناهيك برفض إيران القاطع المساومةَ خلال جولات التفاوض تلك على سياساتها الخارجية ودعم حركات المقاومة في الإقليم. فدعم حركات قوى المقاومة، ضمن السياسة الخارجية الإيرانية، مبنيٌّ على رؤيةٍ استراتيجيةٍ، تندرج ضمن مشروعها الأشمل في الإقليم الذي يقضي بمجابهة القوى الإمبريالية العالمية، بالإضافة إلى التأصيل الشرعي لهذا الالتزام الأخلاقي بدعم المستضعَفين ضمن نظام حكم الجمهورية الإسلامية.

ويضاف إلى هذا وذاك أمرٌ رئيسٌ، يتمثّل بأنَّ حركة قوى المقاومة في الإقليم تنطلق من إرادةٍ ذاتيةٍ لطرد المحتل عن أراضيها، وهي لا تأتمر بإرادة أيّ قوى إقليميةٍ، بل إن المسألة تكمن في تكامل أهداف قوى المقاومة ومصالحها مع المشروع الإيراني الأشمل في المنطقة، والذي يرمي إلى التخلص من هيمنة القوى الإمبريالية العالمية على عموم منطقتنا.

بعد الخروج الأميركي الأحادي الجانب من الاتفاق النووي، عبر قرارٍ من إدارة الرئيس الأميركي السابق دونالد ترامب، أكّد المرشد الإيراني السيد علي خامنئي في عدة تصريحاتٍ، أنه في حال العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي، يجب على الحكومة الإيرانية التزام هذه الضوابط التي تمنع التفاوض على كلٍّ مِن برنامج إيران الصاروخي وسياساتها الخارجية. وعلى ما يبدو، فإن إدارة الرئيس جو بايدن أخطأت عند تصنيف هذه التصريحات على أنها تصريحاتٌ تفاوضيةٌ، ليتبيّن لها بعد ذلك، في محادثات جنيف، أنها كانت مواقف مبدئية لا يمكن لأيّ حكومةٍ إيرانيةٍ تجاوزها، فخاب رهان إدارة جو بايدن على لجم حركات المقاومة في كلٍّ مِن العراق وسوريا، من خلال محاولة الضغط على إيران.

أمّا المعطى المستجدّ، فكان معركة “سيف القدس” التي كشفت فيها فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية المسلّحة في غزة هشاشةَ الكيان الصهيوني، وأظهرت بوضوحٍ مدى التهديد الذي تمثّله حركات المقاومة المسلّحة في فلسطين وفي الإقليم على أمن الكيان الصهيوني ومستقبله، ولاسيّما في ظلّ فشَل الرهان الأميركي على انتزاع ضماناتٍ من إيران وسائر أركان محور المقاومة، ترتبط بحفظ أمن الكيان الصهيوني في مقابل العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي، بحيث كان رهاناً مبنياً في الأصل على قراءةٍ خاطئةٍ لحقيقة موقفَي حركات المقاومة وإيران كما أسلفنا.

لهذا، نجد الأميركي اليوم كمن “بلع المنجل”، فلا هو قادرٌ على الانسحاب من سوريا وتخفيف حضوره العسكري في العراق، ليتفرّغ لمواجهة الصين قبل تأمين ضمانات لأمن الكيان الصهيوني ومستقبله، ولا هو قادرٌ على البقاء أبداً بالزَّخَم نفسه في المنطقة لحماية أمن الكيان الصهيوني، بسبب ما لهذا من آثار سلبية فيما بات يعدّها معركته الرئيسة ضدّ الصين، وتِباعاً روسيا.

يمكن التنبّؤ بكون محور المقاومة يقرأ هذا المأزق الأميركي. فإن صحّت هذه النبوءة، وأظنها صحيحة، فعندها يمكن فهم سياق التصعيد العسكري في وجه القوات الأميركية في الأسبوعين الأخيرين. وهذا يُبشِّر باستمرار هذا التصعيد، وبصيفٍ ساخنٍ نسبياً للقوات الأميركية، لإفهام الأميركي أن استحقاق الانسحاب من المنطقة هو استحقاقٌ جديٌّ، وأن عملية التفاوض على سحب قواته لن تستمر إلى ما لا نهاية.

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