Former French diplomat to ST: ‘ME Stability’ from U.S. viewpoint includes the neutralization of Syria as long as it is not possible to destroy it

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The former French diplomat Prof. Michel Raimbaud has argued that it is very difficult to envisage a fighting alliance between the Gulf States with Israel and US against Iran, making clear that ‘Middle East’ stability from U.S viewpoint means the safety for Israel, the eradication of Iran and Hezbollah and the neutralization of Syria as long as it was not possible to destroy the country.

The professor’s remarks were made during an interview with the Syria Times e-newspaper about Warsaw Conference, Israeli-Gulf relations and France’s clash with U.S. over Iran nuclear deal.

Following is the full text of the interview:

ST-Why the US Administration has failed to get the world on board with Washington’s tough-on-Iran policy?

Prof. Raimbaud : Let’s note at first that this Warsaw Conference was competing with two important international meetings liable to attract the attention of observers and public opinions: the Munich Security Conference 2019, that is the annual meeting of the Western World enlarged to other Powers as China and Russia…and the tripartite Summit gathering in Sotchi around Vladimir Poutine the Presidents of Iran and Turkey about the Syrian conflict.

Anyway, the so-called spectacular performance that was shown on TV screens or delivered to the public or the World at large was remarkable indeed as it brought to the fore several discordant points:

The relative weakness of the reply to US invitation to the Warsaw Conference: about sixty States had been called, but much fewer came (it is very difficult to know exactly how many ones attended).

We must note the absence of some important countries. Iran was not invited, as being the target against which the Summit had been convened, Turkey was apparently represented by its ambassador to Poland, Russia and China having refused to participate. Iraq and Lebanon abstained, according to some reports.

It is obvious that many States were represented at a fairly low diplomatic level, for example the Ambassadors posted in Warsaw. This was the case with most of the European “partners” or guests that were underrepresented, as a mark of opposition or blame to the main purpose of the conference: to promote a holy alliance against Iran, for instance through America making pressure to bear on the European countries in order to incite them to withdraw from the Nuclear Treaty.

On the other hand, and by contrast, this discretion brought out the strong presence and overzealousness of the Gulf countries, including the envoy of Yemen. But we can take note of the low profile of countries such as Morocco, Jordan and Egypt, nevertheless anxious not to clash head-on with their US “partner”.

Israel, the great feeder of the obsession about Iran, was represented at the top level, one of the most prominent figures starring in the show being indisputably the Prime Minister Netanyahou who behaved as the Host, to the great satisfaction of the two Mikes, Pence and Pompeo.

But finally, the US administration has failed to reach the main goal of the conference: to mobilize the World around their tough-on policy. No common position against Iran, no reference to the fight or a War against the Islamic Republic and no final official statement.

ST-What does the open meeting between Israel and Gulf States reflect? Why has Israel unmasked its covert relations with Gulf States at this time??

Prof. Raimbaud: The meeting that took place in Warsaw was not a real innovation. But the fact of being an open meeting was doubtlessly something new. In fact, if there was somewhere a real success inside the whole Summit, it is to be attributed to Netanyahou, the Israeli Prime Minister. After all, two Arab States of the region have diplomatic relations with Israel, and it is common knowledge that the Gulf countries have been maintaining for some time semi-secret but well-known contacts and relations with the former “Zionist enemy”.

But it is sure that the show will strongly help Netanyahou to be re-elected in the forthcoming poll.

Having in mind the very special relationship between Washington and Israel that is the real “Beating Heart of America”, it is not far-fetched to imagine that this point was enough for Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo to consider the Summit as a big achievement: for the first time, the Israeli Head of Government was openly sitting in company of a team of Arab foreign ministers around the same table, in the same room, under the coverage of medias, and they apparently were very proud of their boldness and performance, laying it on thick, rivaling each other in kindness and thoughtfulness towards their new friend. For instance the Bahraini Minister affirmed that of course Iran was the threat number one for Arabs, and this was more important than the Palestinian cause…The Yemeni minister was also fairly effusive…

The whole operation looks like a trap for the Arabs, aiming at compromising them with Israel and making a routine out of this new relation.

ST- What can Gulf States do with Israel and US against Iran?

Prof. Raimbaud: In my opinion, it seems very difficult to envisage a fighting alliance between the Gulf States with Israel and US against Iran for various reasons related to geographical situation, religion, immigration. Let’s not forget at first that Gulf countries and Iran are very close neighbors, facing each other from both shores of the Oman Gulf and Persian Gulf.

Regardless of its conflict with the “Gulf Cooperation Council” Member-States, Qatar is duly condemned to maintain good and active relations with Iran, as far as it shares with this powerful neighbor a common huge gas-field that is the main source of its providential wealth. As to Oman, it was a tradition to nurse a wise and peaceful relationship with Iran, to make a distance with Saudi Arabia and to keep a specific go-between role in what regards the relationship of the Gulf countries and Iran. The Emirates, specially Dubai, welcomes hundreds of thousands of active Iranians… It is well known that most of the Bahraini population is Shiite as well as a strong minority in Kuwait. As a result, and even though the GCC was created in order to counter Iran, we might hardly imagine those countries waging a serious war against Iran. As far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, I strongly doubt that the Saudi Kingdom could think of starting a War against Iran, given that the Saudi leadership must surely have drawn the harsh lessons of the still ongoing conflict and the military disaster in Yemen.

The fact of fighting alongside with US and Israel wouldn’t help, the populations feeding a very lukewarm sympathy for those two countries irrespective of their kings and princes feelings.

ST-What is the meaning of Middle East stability’ from the viewpoint of U.S. and its allies?

Prof. Raimbaud: At first, we must take into account the real meaning of the words being used today in the political and diplomatic language of US and, to some extent, US proxies. As an example, if we take for granted that the expression “Friends of the Syrian People” refers exactly to the whole group of the enemies of Syria, that the so-called “Rogue States” are those resisting the American and western “Rogue Rule”, that democratization and Human Rights are a mere pretext for destabilizing the countries where the regimes are considered as unsuitable to Washington and Israel views, it is quite clear that “Middle East Stability” means to say instability and disorder.

From this view point,” stability “means the safety and quietness for Israel, the eradication of Iran presence in the region, the eradication of Hezbollah and the neutralization of Syria as long as it was not possible to destroy the country or change the “regime”. Last but not least, the Middle East stability includes the leadership of the Gulf countries and Co, and their alliance along with Israel, under the supervision of America.

The creation of Israel is commonly considered by many analysts, historians and thinkers as a destabilizing event that occurred in the Middle East in the twentieth century. Many experts and commentators agree about the fact that this State, created by the “international community” but violating endlessly and restlessly all the rules of the international law, all the Security Council resolutions, became and remains the major destabilization stronghold in the Middle East at large and beyond. In those conditions, how to consider Israel as a stabilizing pole?

At the same time, many observers and analysts do think that America has become and remains – more and more – one of the main sources of instability in the World, including of course in the Middle East. Having in mind the exhibition of some high-ranking western representatives or ministers, speaking at the Security Council, we must say that the allies of US can hardly be accounted for their sense of responsibility in what regards the stability in any part of the World.

To sum up the question, to call a meeting on “stability” in this context and with such actors, sounds like a flash of humor.

ST-Why does France reject to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal??

Prof. Raimbaud : France is not the only party rejecting the idea to withdraw from the Nuclear Treaty. In fact four (out of six) of the Iran partners in the aforesaid Treaty do refuse (China, Russia, Germany, France). In 2015, the French authorities “inspired” by Fabius (the previous Foreign Minister) had been fairly reluctant to sign for various reasons I won’t elaborate here, but they found no other way out…There are strong economic reasons linked to US former pressures and sanctions that exasperated the French government, and the deep misunderstanding prevailing between Trump’s administration and many European governments. Some people will refer to the respect of international law and treaties, but there is no doubt that European governments, usually very tolerant to the abuses of power from the US, have finally come to the conclusion that “too much is too much”.

Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour

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Iran looks East amid US trials and tribulations

February 12, 2019

Iran looks East amid US trials and tribulations

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

February 12, 2019

On the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, this past Friday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei made an effort to express Iran’s geopolitical stance in simple terms: ‘We have good relations with all nations in the world, we don’t want to break relations with any European nation’, and an explanation of the slogan ‘Death to America’.

The Ayatollah said ‘Death to America’ “means death to Trump, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo. It means death to American rulers. We have no problems with the American people.”

So, the slogan is indeed a metaphor – as in death to US foreign policy as conducted for much of the past four decades.

That includes, of course, the dismantling, by the Trump administration, of the nuclear deal with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA).

In a rash rebuke of the centrist government of President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif – who negotiated the JCPOA with the Obama administration, as well as Russia, China, France, the UK and Germany – Khamenei stressed he would not have signed it. His legendary distrust of the US now seems more than vindicated.

Payment system

For the Europeans who signed the JCPOA, what’s left is trying to pick up the pieces. Enter Instex – the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, a mechanism backed by the European Union, with its headquarters in Paris and run by a German banker, which in theory allows European banks and companies to keep trading with Iran without being fined, extra-territorially, by the US Department of Justice, or being totally excluded from the American market.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called it “an important geopolitical gesture.” But a “gesture” may not be enough, especially because initially it just covers humanitarian goods sold to Iran, such as pharmaceuticals, food and medical supplies.

Tehran pays Instex, and Instex reimburses the food and pharma companies involved. Further on down the road, small and medium-sized European companies might also use Instex to trade with Iran without being slapped with US sanctions.

What’s crucial in the long run about Instex is that the mechanism bypasses the US dollar. So, it will be under immense scrutiny all across the Global South. Instex won’t replace the Swift payment system anytime soon, because the capitalization is set at only $1 billion. The thing is whether other heavyweights, such as Russia, China and Turkey, will start using Instex to bypass US dollars and sanctions, trading way beyond “humanitarian goods”.

Instex, although an embryonic response, shows how Brussels and major European capitals are exasperated by the Trump administration’s unilateralism. Diplomats have been saying on and off the record that nothing will prevent the Europeans from doing business with Iran, buying their energy, investing in their market, and bypassing the US dollar in the process.

This has the potential to offer some breathing space to President Rouhani. The latest internal polls reveal that 40 years after the Islamic Revolution, over 70% of Iranians of all social classes have zero trust in any negotiations involving the US government. And that even includes an increasing number of millennials, for whom the Islamic Revolution is just an echo of a distant past.

That may not be the exact sentiment in Teherangeles, California – the capital of the Iranian diaspora, which may number over half a million people worldwide, mostly upper-middle-class. But it does reflect the pulse of the nation.

PayMon, crypto alternative

Over and over again, the Rouhani administration must tackle an insurmountable contradiction. National pride, boosted by Iran recapturing its role as a major power in Southwest Asia, is always undermined by intimations of social despair, as in countless families surviving on less than $200 a month, under rampant inflation and suffering the effects of the non-stop fall of the rial, whatever the feel-good factors constantly exhorted by the government.

An Iranian girl holds a poster of the late founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Khomeini on the 40th anniversary of his return from exile in Paris at his mausoleum in Tehran on February 1. Photo: AFP

Already in regard to Instex, there has been a backlash. Iran has been told it must join the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body that seeks to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and that it must compromise on its missile program, which it regards as non-negotiable. The chief of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, branded the two conditions set by the Europeans as “humiliating”.

And on the European front, there’s no evidence yet that small companies trust that the Instex payment system will make them immune to retaliatory action by the US.

Iranians though are opening other creative fronts. Four banks – Bank Melli, Bank Mellat, Parsian Bank and Bank Pasargad – have developed a gold-backed cryptocurrency named PayMon, and negotiations are already advanced with the Europeans as well as Russia, Switzerland and South Africa to expand PayMon trading. Iranian officials are adamant that blockchain will be crucial to improve the nation’s economy.

The Iranian move mirrors Venezuela’s action in launching its own oil-backed cryptocurrency, the petro, last October. But count on the Blocking Iran Illicit Finance Act to swing into overdrive in the US Congress.

Meanwhile, Russia and Iran have all but bypassed the US dollar in bilateral trade, using only ruble and rial and “in case of urgent need, the euro, if we have no other options”, according to the Russian Ambassador to Iran, Levan Dzhagaryan.

China, Russia, Iran and Turkey – the four key vectors of ongoing Eurasia integration – are investing in bypassing the US dollar on trade by any mechanism necessary. The Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) is also working on a common system for “boosting economic sovereignty”, as defined by President Putin. It has free-trade agreements with an array of partners, including China and Iran.

Arab NATO roll-call

This is the background in the run-up towards what is essentially an anti-Iran conference convened by the Trump administration in Warsaw this Wednesday.

No one in Europe that really matters wants to be publicly associated with Iranian demonization. Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, is not going. EU-wide businesses increasingly tell their puny political leaders that the way to go is Greater Eurasia – from Lisbon to Vladivostok, from Murmansk to Mumbai, with Tehran in between, and everything linked to the China-driven Belt and Road Initiative.

Poland is an exception. Ruled by hardcore nationalists, it has been lobbying for a permanent US military base, which President Andrzej Duda wants to call “Fort Trump”.

Unable to force France, the UK, Germany and Italy out of doing business with Iran, what’s left for Washington is to have Persian Gulf governors plus Israel assembled in the same room, pledging their efforts towards an ill-defined, anti-Iran Arab NATO.

What this will certainly accomplish inside Iran is to promote even more hardliners and “Principlists” who are lobbying for a return to former President Ahmadinejad’s “Look East” strategy.

Iran is already looking East – considering its top Asian energy clients and the close ties with the Belt and Road Initiative and the EAEU. Team Rouhani now knows, in realpolitik terms, they cannot trust the US; and the EU is an immensely problematic partner. The next major step would be for Iran to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. China wants it. And Russia wants it.

Venezuela looks to have been targeted for regime change essentially because it’s trying to bypass the US dollar on trade. That should not be a problem for Iran, which has been a target for regime change for decades.

Enemies’ Iranophobia scheme used to sell arms to Mideast: Iran military chief

This undated photo shows Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri.

This undated photo shows Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri.

Sun Feb 10, 2019

Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri says enemies of the Islamic Republic have intensified their effort to spread Iranophobia with the purpose of signing arms deals with countries in the Middle East.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Iran’s military chief added that the Islamic Republic has never had a covetous eye on any regional country over the past four decades, but has maintained advisory presence in regional countries that have been faced with terrorist attacks upon their request.

Iran’s top military commander then noted that the country has been offering advisory assistance to the Syrian and Iraqi governments in the face of Takfiri terrorists, saying, “We will continue our presence in these countries as long as they want and will leave them whenever they do not want. This is contrary to what Americans do, who stay [in regional countries] with force despite opposition of people in those countries and then accuse the Islamic Republic [of interference in other countries’ affairs].”

In an exclusive interview with Press TV in October, spokesman for Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said the Islamic Republic will keep its military advisory presence in Syria as long as Tehran finds it “effective and useful” and as long as the Arab country’s government demands.

Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif said the Islamic Republic has been supporting Syria in accordance with international regulations since the beginning of the crisis in the country.

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Elsewhere in his remarks, Baqeri pointed to recent statements by some European countries about Iran’s missile and defensive capabilities and emphasized, “The defense power of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including [its] missile might, is not negotiable at all.”

He added that instead of making remarks on Iran’s defense capabilities, Europeans should remove obstacles in the way of banking and economic exchanges with the Islamic Republic as a small part of their commitments under the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.

“Europeans have a huge debt to the Iranian nation. Iran has fulfilled all its commitments under the JCPOA and this has been verified by international organizations, particularly the International Atomic Energy Agency,” Baqeri said, adding, “However, member states of the P5+1 group of countries, which were supposed to remove all banking and economic restrictions against Iran, failed to fulfill their commitment. The Americans have quit the JCPOA and other signatories [to the deal] are dawdling when it comes to fulfilling their commitments.

Iranian authorities have invariably asserted that the country’s missile program has not been established for unconventional purposes and is only meant as part of the country’s deterrence capability.

France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian late last month made remarks against Iran’s missile program and its regional role, saying that his country was ready to impose new sanctions on Tehran if no progress was made in talks over its ballistic missile program.

“We have begun a difficult dialog with Iran… and unless progress is made, we are ready to apply sanctions, firmly, and they know it,” Le Drian said, demanding that Iran change its behavior in the region, particularly regarding its presence in Syria.

In reaction to the French foreign minister’s remarks, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the Islamic Republic acts independently in adopting its defense policies and will never allow other countries to interfere in that regard.

Qassemi said, “As we have said time and again, we determine our own defense policies and will not allow others to interfere with such issues.”

Later on February 3, the senior spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces once again reiterated Iran’s message of peace and friendship to the world, emphasizing that the country seeks no one’s permission to boost its defense capabilities.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran manufactures any equipment it requires to defend the country and will not ask for anybody’s permission in this regard,” Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi told IRNA.

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In Praise of Shamelessness

February 05, 2019

by Jimmie Moglia for The Saker BlogIn Praise of Shamelessness

So much has been said about the Venezuelan crisis that adding more would equate to gilding the lily or bringing coal to Newcastle.

The following, then, is but a brief aside on the psychology and physiognomy of the protagonists of the ongoing coup, starting with Guaido’ – or “Guido” as per Mike Pompeo’s re-baptism, while he anointed him as self-appointed president of Venezuela.

The true face of Guaido?

If the face is indeed an open book where men may read strange matters, the attached image of the afore-said putative president of Venezuela proves the point. A camera immortalized him thus in 2009, during a political demonstration.

I have unprofessionally modified some extreme features to obscure a part of the body that I will forbear to mention out of my inviolable respect for the ladies.

Still, apart from the image, it is as clear as the summer sun that, despite his pathetic rabble-rousing, Guido is but one of the many lying knaves and stipended ruffians, abounding in politics and in Christendom at large.

Political liars notoriously invert factual reality to suit their personal interest, or utter bragging and platitudinal nonsense about freedom, democracy and the like. Confirming the proven maxim that ‘it will come to pass that every braggart shall be found an ass.’

On the other hand, watching the current Administration with an impartial eye, it would appear that bragging and arrogance are recommended as the supply of every defect, and the ornament of every excellence.

Furthermore, given the Administration’s engineering of the Venezuelan coup, I wonder how the same Administration would react if a congressman or senator imitated Guido and declared himself president, instead of the elected Trump.

Sometimes chances mock, and changes occur unexpectedly in place and time. For instance in France, where it is impossible to ignore the similarity between the two winters of discontent, distant in space but not in time.

For the yellow-jackets shout “Macron Dimission” in France, as loud as Guido wants Maduro to resign in Venezuela. Probably the Administration thinks that the fool multitudes that choose by show should either avoid to ask what is the difference between Macron and Maduro, or provide unaided their own answer.

As for Mike Pompeo, add a glass of wine in one hand and a sausage in the other and we have a tolerable reincarnation of Falstaff, or of one of the gluttons in the hell of Dante’s Divine Comedy, though in some way more sublimely ridiculous – or rather, more ridiculous and less sublime.

Politically, Pompeo states that, “The Heritage Foundation has shaped my thinking on matters of the world and public policy issues.” Where ‘thinking’ refers to Reaganomics, Thatcherism and freedom to loot and pollute by the usual suspects. An ideology perfectly embodied in the notorious “Citizen United” Supreme Court case, which treats corporations as persons – sanctifying the notion that he who has (or receives) the most money wins the elections (presidential or otherwise).

Internationally and briefly stated, the Heritage Foundation stands for regime-change in any country whose interests appears not directly benefiting the elites who created, maintain and fund the think-tank. Besides Venezuela, Nicaragua is at the front, along with El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Grenada, Cuba and, of course, all wars in the Middle East.

According to Pompeo, Congress should pass a law re-establishing collection of all metadata. Followed by combining the collection with publicly available financial and lifestyle information of individuals into a comprehensive and searchable database. That is, legal and bureaucratic impediments to surveillance should be removed.

Understandably, Pompeo opposes closing Guantanamo. After a visit to the prison while some prisoners were on hunger strike, he said, “It looks to me like a lot of them had put on weight.” Though he may have been inspired to say so while seeing himself in the mirror.

He criticized the Obama administration’s decision to end secret prisons and the requirement that all interrogators adhere to anti-torture laws.

Expectedly, Pompeo strongly disagreed with the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated during the Obama administration. He said, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.” Adding that a better option than negotiating with Iran would be to directly carry out “under 2,000 sorties to destroy the Iranian nuclear capacity. This is not an insurmountable task for the coalition forces.”

Naturally, during a visit to Israel in 2015, Pompeo said that “Prime Minister Netanyahu is a true partner of the American people” (!), and that “Netanyahu’s efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons are incredibly admirable and deeply appreciated”. And further, “In the fight against terrorism, cooperation between Israel and the United States has never been more important,…we must stand with our ally Israel and put a stop to terrorism. Ongoing attacks by the Palestinians serve only to distance the prospect of peace.”

Given that Israel just killed or wounded about 3000 Palestinians during the last year of unarmed demonstrations by Palestinians in Gaza, I will direct the Aesopian-minded reader to review or remember the Latin story about the wolf and the lamb.

Of Assange, “… we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us. To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now … Assange and his ilk make common cause with dictators today. Yes, they try unsuccessfully to cloak themselves and their actions in the language of liberty and privacy; in reality, however, they champion nothing but their own celebrity. Their currency is click-bait; their moral compass, nonexistent. Their mission: personal self-aggrandizement through the destruction of Western values.”

Talk about a world upside-down. Even assuming the statement to be true, it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black or, if you like, of whipping his own faults in other men. As for his interpretation of “Western values” maybe Mr. Pompeo should speak for himself and stick them up where he thinks best.

He disapproved of the “Clean Power Plan” and in 2013 introduced the self-explanatory “Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act.” And in his latest performance he has taken to insulting the nation of Venezuela with the rage of a superstitious crank.

If there’s a history in all men’s lives, the tales of Pompeo speak for themselves. As they do for Bolton, whose own history and actions in government prove him to be as opposite to any good as the south is to the north.

Bolton personifies, in appearance and posturing, the classic bully, qualified by nature, servility and experience to exercise the office of a criminal. He is as prone to mischief as able to perform it. The number of Bolton’s ‘accomplishments’ is great and well known – listing them would constitute an unwanted mode of annoyance.

Suffice a short glimpse of his mode of reasoning on an important issue. Bolton enlisted in the Maryland Army National Guard, which was at the time an unofficially-official means to avoid the draft, and being sent to Vietnam. In a 25threunion book of his university he wrote, “I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost.” And in his own book he clarified his decision, “… by the time I was about to graduate in 1970, it was clear to me that opponents of the Vietnam War had made it certain we could not prevail, and that I had no great interest in going there to have Teddy Kennedy give it back to the people I might die to take it away from.”

A statement that would be a perfect entry in an instruction and operating manual for chicken-hawks, in the chapter titled, “How to persuade others that cowardice is courage.”

According to experts in his train, Bolton is a “conservative” rather than a “neo-conservative.” What’s the difference? It’s a diffuse and complicated question that may be examined by different methods, upon different principles – it requires a great labor of research and dexterity of application.

Suffice to say that the neo-conservative movement was founded by a handful of followers of the communist philosopher Leon Trotsky. Which makes communists of the neo-conservatives, and neo-conservatives of communists. A perfect instance of the unity of opposites “Coincidentia Oppositorum” – a term attributed to 15th century German philosopher Nicholas of Cusa in his essay, “De Docta Ignorantia,” (Of Learned Ignorance.)

But I digress. There is one more character in the troika of evil in the train of Trump. Associate his deeds with his countenance, add a couple of horns, and an observer may be tempted to say, “Here comes the devil in the likeness of Elliot Abrams.” And although national security frees crime from reproach, Abrams, as we know, is actually a convicted criminal, later pardoned by Bush Jr.

Again, rather than a list of his crimes, a glimpse into his mode of reasoning is shorter and I think more meaningful.

Needless to say, all members of the troika are Israel-firsters. In 2005 Abrams, as an even more special friend of Israel, was a protagonist in a meeting between the US Foreign Secretary and Syrian envoys, including the Syrian minister for emigration, Bouthaina Shaaban. The US advanced the thesis that Syria was hostile to the American invasion of Iraq – because, allegedly, Syria allowed the Iraqis defending themselves against the US, to cross into Syria.

They were pretexts. The Syrians told the US party that the news was false and probably propagated by hearsay. If the Americans wanted to know the truth, they should visit and interview those who lived in the affected area.

Abrams then pulled Ms. Shaaban aside and said, “What is the relevance of truth in what happens in the world? The important thing is the concept and the images that affect the minds of people. Whether the conveyed images reflect reality is secondary and reflect nothing.”

From which we deduct what we already know, namely that, for the US Administration, reality is an abstraction, where the truth or falsehood of a fact depends on the size of the audience, as with a TV serial.

I could not verify the source of the anecdote, but it fits the character. Besides, it is almost a mirror rendering of the historical answer given by Donald Rumsfeld to a journalist who questioned the truth and reality of an Iraq-related report, “We create our own reality.” Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defence during the Bush Jr. invasion of Iraq.

Back to Venezuela. I realize I am in a minority, but I do not think that the primary US goal of destroying Maduro is the desire to own the oil resources of Venezuela. Just as in Iraq Saddam Hussein was quite happy to sell the oil to any buyer who agreed on the price.

Astutely, the media serfs of the deep state have foisted two creeds onto their followers. One is for the distracted multitude, who like not in their judgment but their eyes (or ears). It holds that Venezuela is a dictatorship and Maduro tortures and starves the Venezuelans, because he is a socialist.

The idea may satisfy a certain section of an old right that associates the words ‘socialism’ or ‘social measures’ with evil.

The other creed addresses those who prefer to believe a more tenable reason than a somewhat obsolete fear of socialism. In twitter-like terms the creed goes, “They do it for the oil” – where ‘they’, of course, are the wise guys of the State Department.

Instead, I rather think that the ongoing attempted coup in Venezuela follows the steps of the so-called ‘globalization’, a euphemism for the Kalergi Plan, described in the article “The Waves of Time,” and carried out according to the objectives – of and for – the chosen people.

That the political-ideological leaders of the chosen people may have a particular ax to grind with Venezuela is understandable. It is one of the few countries not to have diplomatic relations with Israel. And while defending the Palestinians during a televised rally, Hugo Chavez called Israel “un pays de mierda.”

Given that even a minor criticism of Israel causes the ADL to brand the critic as an ‘anti-Semite,’ Venezuela had it coming. Keeping in mind that Saddam Hussein was also a defender of the Palestinians.

But there are other indirect signs showing the progress of the Kalergi Plan, besides the hatred for Venezuela.

For example, the inflow of migrants into Europe continues steadily, even if the media no longer talks much about it. From what I am told by some friends, migrants in Italy, unofficially are no longer required to pay for public transportation, nor are they asked to show a ticket. This follows various reported cases of a conductor being assaulted by migrants when they were requested to produce the ticket. Though the same world media give ample coverage to any episode that may be artfully construed as ‘racist.’

Just very recently, Feb 4, 19, in Sweden, a black pregnant woman was removed from a train for not having a ticket. All networks broadcasted the news, claiming that the woman had been roughly handled. Even so, she had a voice strong enough to complain and threaten the allegedly ‘racist’ police.

Here in the US I will refer to the sequence of events surrounding the Covington Catholic High School students’ trip to Washington D.C, for a peaceful demonstration against abortion. Apparently they do this every year, as a component of their guided visit to the capital (and they pay for the trip).

Anyone can have his own views on abortion, but no one, as yet, prohibits peaceful demonstrations. As most readers may know, the media blasted the students for not yielding to an abusive group of Black Israelis (sic), plus one Native American who chanted and banged his war-drum in the face of the students.

The media attempted to turn the event into another Charlottesville, but further videos showed clearly who were the attackers and that the students reacted quite civilly, without answering in words and kind to the provocative actions of their opponents.

In the meantime, in one of its articles, the Guardian interviewed a Dan Siegel, a Jewish psychiatrist, interested in remodeling the teenage brain to prevent what he calls “in-group attachments” – translation, consciousness of being white.

Siegel has invented a method called “mindfulness wheel of awareness” aimed at leading his patients to abandon any sense of ethnic identity (Kalergi docet). He called his method ‘Essence’ (Emotional Sparks, Social Engagement, Novelty-seeking and Creative Exploration). Here is a quotation showing all the finesse of Freud-like pseudo-science.

“You want to expand your “circle of identity” so that within the phrase “like me” you include a lot of diversity. What I would say is that the plane of possibility is accessed more when people integrate consciousness. People are too confined, so they are excessively differentiated and not accepting the value of other life forms including other humans that do not fit into that initial high plateau of identity. What has been fascinating about doing the wheel of awareness practice — and I think this is consistent with some of the research about reducing some of the implicit racial bias with mindfulness practices— is that when people access the hub, they’re gaining more access. They are more readily accessing the plane of possibility and in the plane, there is no racism. In the plane, there is this experience of reality that embraces the fluidity of identity. That is, “you” are made up of people who are not your racial background. You are people who don’t speak your same language. You are people who are of different religions. It’s not just that they’re different and that is okay. It’s that you are both part of the same sea of potential or the plane of possibility. What has been beautiful about explaining this is that people get a feeling of relief that they can now basically be in a state of love and acceptance.”

Siegel convinces his clients that they will be happy by thinking that they are several different people all-in-one, a Muslim from Afghanistan, a Voodoist from West Africa, a Buddist from Tibet etc. That is, to feel a “reality that embraces the fluidity of identity” the patient (or in this instance, the misled and young European-American student,) must have a multicultural mind. He must convince himself that he contains within himself other people who are not of his racial background and have different religions.

I paraphrased the last statements to avoid the rambling Freudian psycho-babble of such remarkable captain of erudition.

Anyone among the rest of us, who came up with this nonsense, would be branded as a producer of low merriment and buffoonery. But Siegel is highly regarded by the mainstream academic and scientific establishment. And, even more ominous, he has even received an invitation to address the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family on the subject of child psychology.

I strayed from the main subject, only to show, with a few examples, what the Kalergi operatives, and the world shapers of the collective mind, have in store for the rest of us. And any objecting government must be overturned.

As for Venezuela, we cannot look into the seeds of time and see which grain will grow and which will not, but it never yet did hurt to hold some likelihoods and forms of hope.

As for the organizers of the coup, we cannot even ask, “Shame where is thy blush?” because they have brought shamelessness to grand new heights and turned a liability into an asset or, if you like, have made a virtue out of a vice.

EU Channel for Transactions to Be Announced in Next Hours: Iran Envoy to London

Iran UK envoy Hamid Baeedinejad

EU Channel for Transactions to Be Announced in Next Hours: Iran Envoy to London

January 31, 2019

Iran’s ambassador to London said on Thursday that Germany, Britain and France have finalized registration of a channel for transactions with Iran (INSTEX), and the news will be announced within next hours.

Hamid Baeedinejad made the remarks in a twitter message on Thursday.

The Paris-based transactions channel, named INSTEX – Instrument In Support Of Trade Exchanges, is run by a German national, and France, Britain and Germany are shareholders in it, IRNA news agency reported.

German TV broadcaster, NDR, had earlier reported that Germany, France and the UK have set up a payment channel with Iran called INSTEX, to help continue trade with Iran, circumventing the US sanctions.

SourceAgencies

Germany, France, UK to Establish EU Channel for Transactions with Iran

UK France Germany

According to the German broadcaster NDR, Germany, the UK, and France are ready to set up the European Channel for transactions with Iran.

The European transactions channel for Iran will be called INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges), NDR reported.

The statement comes after spokeswoman for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Maja Kocijancic announced that the work aimed at the creation of the special purpose vehicle (SPV) had already entered its final stage. On 28 January, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that the mechanism had not been registered yet.

The second package of US sanctions targeting, in particular, Iran’s oil sector took effect on 5 November.

In May, US President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, and re-impose sanctions against Iran that had been lifted under the agreement. The first round of restrictions came into force in August and the second on 5 November.

Despite Washington’s unilateral move, the other parties to the deal — China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia, the United Kingdom and the European Union — have expressed their commitment to the deal.

SourceSputnik

Insights on the Iran deal, BRICS and Venezuela

January 28, 2019

Insights on the Iran deal, BRICS and Venezuela

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with The Asia Times by special agreement with the author)

An exclusive interview with former Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim on how BRICS came into being, how the nuclear deal was done with Tehran and how the South dealt with Chavez

Brazil is once again in the eye of a political hurricane, after President Jair Bolsonaro’s appearance at Davos and explosive revelations directly linking his clan to a criminal organization in Rio de Janeiro.

With his administration barely a month old, Bolsonaro is already being seen as expendable to the elites that propelled him to power – from the powerful agribusiness lobby to the financial system and the military.

The new game among the elites of a major actor in the Global South, BRICS member and eighth biggest economy in the world consists of shaping a scenario capable of rescuing one the great frontiers where global capitalism is expanding from total irrelevancy.

That includes the possibility of a “soft coup”, with the Bolsonaro clan sidelined by the Brazilian military rallying around the vice-president, General Hamilton Mourao.

Under these circumstances, a conversation with former Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim is more than sobering. Amorim is universally recognized as one of the top diplomats of the young 21st century, a symbol of the recent past, under President Lula, when Brazil was at the top of its game as a resource-rich continental nation actively projecting power as a BRICS leader.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ambassador Amorim, who is also the author of ‘Acting Globally: Memoirs of Brazil’s Assertive Foreign Policy’ in Sao Paulo. Here are some highlights of our conversation – from the birth of BRICS to the current Venezuela crisis.

BRICS – the most important group in the drive towards a multipolar world – is a very dirty word in Washington. How did it all start?

I had met [British economist] Jim O’Neill a few times, who first talked about BRIC, which was not yet a group and nobody saw as a group. This may sound pretentious, but it’s a curious story. I told him, ‘It is you that invented the BRICS, right?’ He said, ‘Yes, of course, I’m very proud of it’. Then I replied, ‘Yes, but I’m the one who made it happen’. Well, it was not exactly me – under the Lula government and all that it entails. The first action in terms of creating the BRIC group – still without an “S” – came from Sergey Lavrov, in a meeting we had in New York in 2006. They had the RIC [Russia, India, China], but they did not hold many summits. And we had IBAS [India, Brazil, South Africa]. Both China and Russia were always trying to get into IBAS. There was the idea that these were three great democracies, each one in a continent and in a major developing country – so the Russians and Chinese might have thought, ‘we also want to get in, why not, because we are not democracies?’ IBAS was also present in the commercial G-20 at the WTO, and IBAS had similar ideas about reform of the UN Security Council; so the geopolitical interests were not the same.

Then Lavrov proposed BRIC as a forum, I think maybe to find some more equilibrium inside the RIC. I always talked in terms of BRICS, so one day he asked me ‘Why do you say BRICS?’ and I replied, “because it’s plural, in Portuguese’, so in a sense, we were already anticipating the entry of South Africa.

We first agreed we would have a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Lavrov and I already had something more substantial, the Indians and the Chinese just read a speech, so it looked like there would not be a consequential follow-up. Next year we met at the Brazilian UN mission, outside of the UN, and decided to do it later out of New York. Lavrov then offered Yekaterinburg, where we had the first ministerial meeting in 2008, and then next year the first presidential summit, also in Yekaterinburg, and in Brazil in 2010. It was here that the idea of BRIC was expanded into BRICS – through a dinner that concluded IBAS and inaugurated BRICS.

At the time, did you think about expanding to other top emerging economies, such as Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, Iran?

IBAS was born on the second day of President Lula’s government [in January 2003], out of an idea to create a group of developing countries, around seven or eight. I thought a larger group would be very complicated, based on my experience – how to coordinate positions and engage in concrete projects. For instance, Egypt would have to be a member.

When did you start to seriously discuss practical steps towards the emergence of a multipolar world – such as trade in members’ currencies? Was it in 2010?

In 2010 certainly, we had the idea of trade using each member’s currency, not yet the idea – that happened under the Dilma government – of the BRICS bank. But we were already talking about the coordination of our development banks. The concept of multipolarity, the Russians may have been the first to outline it. What I do remember about the use of the concept was by the French, especially when there were serious divergences about the attack on Iraq.

Former French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin insisted on it.

Villepin, yes, but even Hubert Vedrine [foreign minister under Jacques Chirac from 1997-2002] before him, who came up with the concept of ‘hyperpower’. So the ones who spread the concept were the French, and we adhered to it, among developing countries. The French, when they talked about the expansion of the UN Security Council, they said they were in favor regarding Germany and Japan, but also ‘three great nations of the South’, Brazil included.

The Lula government started in January 2003. Geopolitics at the time was conditioned by the war on terror. We were already expecting the invasion of Iraq. How did you, in the first days of January 2003, knowing that Dick Cheney and the neocons were about to turn the Middle East upside down, with direct and indirect repercussions on the Global South, how did you start conceiving a multi-vector Brazilian foreign policy? Which were the priorities?

I think neither President Lula nor myself used the term “multipolar” – even though the concept was already on the table. We wanted to have good relations with the US but also with the largest developing countries. When we started the greatest problems were the Free Trade Area of the Americas [FTAA], so we had to look for other partners; the WTO and negotiations in the Doha round; and Iraq. The combination of all these led Brazil to get closer to India and South Africa, to a great extent via the WTO, and because of Iraq, we got closer to Russia, Germany and France. When President Lula went to Davos…

That was Lula’s first Davos, right?

Yes, but first he went to the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre [in Brazil], then he went to Davos. The message was the search for an equilibrium; to do business, of course, but based on the idea of democratic social change.

Were you discussing Iraq in detail with Russia, Germany and France?

Yes, we were, with Schroeder in Germany and Chirac, as well as Villepin at the Security Council. And there was a fourth problem: Venezuela. Lula had already talked about it with Chavez. During the inauguration of President Gutierrez of Ecuador, Lula’s first foreign trip, on January 15, Lula proposed, in a meeting in a room full of presidents, the creation of the Friends of Venezuela Group, at a moment when the crisis was acute, even though the country was not as debilitated as today.

Already in January 2003 was there neocon pressure on Brazil in relation to Venezuela?

I think they did not know how to deal with Lula and the new government. But they were very strong on Venezuela – especially [US diplomat] Roger Noriega. And yet they saw Brazil was proposing something and accepted it. Fidel was against it, but Chavez, in the end, was convinced by Lula. And this is also relevant for today. Lula said it in so many words; this is not a Friends of Chavez group, it’s a Friends of Venezuela group. So this must also include the United States, Spain and Portugal – under conservative administrations. That was a way to escape from the OAS [Organisation of American States] and its penchant for the Monroe doctrine [the US policy of opposing European colonialism in the Americas].

I used to talk to Colin Powell quite frequently – and not to receive instructions. There were many issues he wanted to know about, and he trusted Brazil. He had a notion of the importance of Brazil, our capacity for dialogue.

Switching to the Obama era, tell us about the role of Brazil, alongside Turkey, in the Iran nuclear negotiation, when you clinched a deal in Tehran in less than 24 hours, only for it to be smashed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the next day.

It was a long process, followed by 19 hours of negotiations, the Iranians tried to reopen one of the issues, both Lula and Erdogan refused. What facilitated our role as mediators was that the US had its hands full in the Middle East. I already had contacts with Javier Solana, then a sort of Foreign Affairs Minister of the EU, and also [Egyptian diplomat] ElBaradei, from my time at the UN. Obama, in a meeting of the G-8 + 5 in Italy, during a bilateral with us, he said three things: ‘I extended my hand and they did not answer’; ‘We need to solve the nuclear dossier’; ‘And I need friends to say what I cannot say’. What we did in the end, because we thought it was the right thing to do, with a lot of work and facing hardships, was exactly what the Americans wanted. One month before the deal I thought it would not happen. But then we received a letter from Obama, and to my greatest surprise, that was a reiteration of the same initial three points.

Hillary always had a different position. I foresaw her reaction as a possibility. We talked on the phone, in Madrid, when I was coming back from Iran, and I said, ‘Look, in Brazil we have this expression, ‘I didn’t read it, and I didn’t like it’. She did not want a deal. In a phone call before my trip, she was adding some other points of discussion and I said, ‘Hillary, this is a trust-building agreement. And these points that you mention were not in the letter delivered by your own President’. I’m not exaggerating, what followed was a silence lasting half a minute. So I thought; did she read the letter? Or she read it, and because they are a great power they can do what they want, and we have to take it, and adapt to it?

So what about China and Russia accepting the American line – no deal, more sanctions?

I know the sweeteners that made them accept it – concessions on the sanctions front. But geopolitically…

What’s your informed hypothesis?

There are two. This was a problem they did not solve. Who’s part of the global directory? The five permanent members of the Security Council. Now we have two developing countries, who are not even part of the Security Council, and they solve it? By coincidence, both were non-permanent members of the Security Council at the time. The other thing is whenever we are discussing a nuclear issue, the five get closer, because they are all nuclear powers.

What’s your insider view, as a statesman, of Vladimir Putin, demonized 24/7 in the US as a major existential threat to the West?

The first time I saw Putin face to face was when he received three nations from the Group of Rio, and the main topic of discussion was Iraq. That was before the invasion in March 2003. What most impressed me was his great knowledge of the dossiers – something you usually don’t expect from presidents. He’s extremely sharp, very intelligent, obviously cares for Russian interests but at the same time pays attention to the balance of power. A very realist politician. I don’t see him as a great idealist. He’s like a 19th-century politician, very conscious geopolitically.

Now, in the South American chessboard, regarding the Venezuelan crisis, we are seeing a direct confrontation between the four major poles of Eurasia – Russia, China, Iran, Turkey – against the US. And with another BRICS member, Brazil, siding against Russia and China.

In a multipolar world, we now have a huge test, because Brazil presides over the BRICS in 2019. How is Brazil going to be seen inside BRICS? There used to be an atmosphere of trust inside BRICS.

I’ve got to say that based on my experience at the Security Council, when I was ambassador, during the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso [from 1995 to 2003], the Russians and the Chinese gave immense weight to respect for national sovereignty. In terms of international law, they always stress non-intervention. I hope we won’t have a confrontation like Vietnam in our region. But when President Trump says that all options are on the table, he’s obviously accepting a military solution. This is very dangerous. I see a very sound Brazilian position coming from General Mourao [the Brazilian vice-president]. And yet the Foreign Ministry says Brazil will support politically and economically a government that does not exist – so that already means intervention.

On a personal level, in the drive towards multipolarity, what is the most important story in the world for the next 10 or 20 years? What is the issue that drives you the most?

I think that the fundamental theme is psychological – and also civilizational. It’s respect for The Other – and the acceptance of alterity. And this also concerns international relations. We need to understand that the common good is part of our well-being. This reflects on individual attitudes, in internal attitudes in politics, and in international relations. Look at the current, violent attack on multilateralism. We should see that it’s better to work multilaterally than capitulate to the law of the jungle.

Outlook of 2019: International Political Order Without Iran Is Just Impossible

 

Nour Rida

A heated debate has been going on about the outlook of Iran in the coming months. Foreign policy, the economy, and the domestic social and political state are the areas that can shape Iranian society and future. Looking at the political and geopolitical status of the world today, it is impossible to see the world order without Iran among the major players. Iran has been able to maintain stability in the region in face of terrorist groups (supported by the US, Saudi Arabia and their allies), as well as improve relations with allies, neighbors and EU countries in particular. Iran has been able to preserve its internal security despite the many attempts to cause unrest through foreign-backed terrorist attacks or planned violence.

Protests that did not last

With the beginning of 2018, Iran witnessed economic hardships that led to protests here and there across the country. The protests basically started only a few days before the beginning of 2018. However these soon turned into violent protests, which prompted the public to back down. People wanted economic reforms; let us be frank who does not want reforms on this planet? It is not unusual for people to protest in Iran or sound their opinion as long as no violence or breach of law is carried out. The Iranians did not want to start an Iranian spring or carry out a coup d’état. But when protests were infiltrated by hooligans who took to the streets and destroyed public property and harmed citizens, Iranians took a step backward and decided to unite and protect their home country. If you live among Iranians for a while, you will understand that it is not easy to cause division among them; their national identity and long history glues them together tightly whenever there is the slightest attempt to cause unrest in the country.

Now back to the protests that did not last long. American President Donald Trump along with US hardline officials blatantly expressed their support to the violent protests that were orchestrated by anti-Iranian groups abroad and inside Iran.  Persian-speaking mainstream media outlets such as VOA, BBC Farsi were putting fuel on the fire. Foreign attempts to meddle in Iran’s internal affairs is not surprising; Iran has long been subject to foreign interference, from the American- and British-led coup in the 1950s to more recent efforts by the United States and the “Israel” apartheid regime to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program.

In January 2018, US State Department officials said in a statement that the United States was communicating with anti-government protesters through its Facebook and Twitter pages in Farsi, and was encouraging them to demonstrate. Social media pages, particularly Telegram which is widely used in Iran, were instigating people to attack certain places, burn centers, damage public property, and were teaching people how to make home-made Molotovs. The most notorious of these social media outlets was Sedaye Mardom (Farsi for the voice of the people), which is well-known to being orchestrated from outside Iran. The short-term chaos came to an end; people were tired of the economic situation that is caused mainly by US harsh sanctions in addition to incorrect economic policies to which Iranian President Hassan Rouhani admitted. The US sanctions prevent patients suffering from cancer, diabetes and other diseases from receiving treatment. The US administration, US officials, “Israeli” regime officials and Saudi Arabia from the Arab Peninsula kept their anti-Iranian campaigns ongoing. Other attempts to cause unrest or breach Iran’s security were carried out, such as the Ahvaz attacks South of Iran. The attacks came after the US-backed campaign to stir up unrest in Iranian cities fell flat.

 Sanctions not as effective as Trump said

On May 9, Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal and promised he would crush Iran’s economy. The European Union, for the first time, explicitly expressed its uneasiness towards the US administration’s decisions and attitude towards Iran. In August 2018, the EU vowed to thwart Trump’s sanctions on Iran. On August 4, Senior European officials castigated US President Trump’s renewed sanctions on Tehran as “illegal” and in violation of a UN Security Council resolution and they vowed to intensify efforts to thwart the US measures and preserve the Iran nuclear accord. The US administration, with its multiple and successive attempts was trying to keep Iran outside the world order but all its attempts are to no avail. Days before US sanctions took effect on Iran’s oil sector on November 5, India decided it will continue Iranian oil imports post the US sanctions and said it may revert to paying Iran in rupees for the oil it buys. Also, China reported it was set to keep buying oil from the Islamic Republic. According to reports, Iran’s GDP growth in 2017/18 dropped to 3.8 percent as the effect of a large surge in oil revenues in the previous year dissipated. However, an overwhelming majority of growth came from the non-oil sectors out of which more than half can be attributed to services growing by 4.4 percent. Eventually, Iran’s economy is not doing great but there has been no crushing to the economy as Trump claimed.

Now as for Iran, despite all foreign attempts to meddle in its internal affairs and darken its domestic image, reports have said that Iran remains to be among the safest destinies for tourism across the world. Iran generally has a positive track record on internal security. Though Tehran’s very active role in defeating the so-called Islamic State (IS) has made the country a target for extremist attacks.

Iran: a major world player

Now aside from the protests and sanctions, we turn to the regional and international roles Iran has been playing. Since the JCPOA, Iran and EU relations have been moving towards better normalization. That has made three players unhappy; the United States, the “Israeli” apartheid regime, and Saudi Arabia. Even after Trump decided to rip up the deal, the three players seem worried about the gradual empowerment of Tehran and continue to use all instruments at their disposal to antagonize Iran.

Iran has proved its constructive role in preserving security in the region. It has been taking part in multiple talks with Russia, Turkey, and other players to help restore stability in Syria and bring the terrorist groups to an end. Iran has been in Syria on an advisory military capacity since the conflict erupted in the country in 2011. Russia joined the battle late in 2015. The two countries intervened in Syria at the official request of the Syrian government. In August 2018, Iran and Syria signed an agreement on defense and technical cooperation during a visit by Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami who reiterated Tehran’s commitment to the Arab country’s security. Iran has been providing advisory on how to deal with the Western-backed terrorist groups in Syria. Of course, such strong presence makes the “Israeli” regime angry. Over the past few years, and during 2018 in particular, the “Israeli” regime has frequently attacked military targets inside Syria in an attempt to prop up terrorist groups that have been suffering defeats at the hands of Syrian government forces. Tel Aviv has also been providing weapons to anti-Syrian militants as well as medical treatment to the terrorist Wahhabi elements wounded in Syria. During the same period, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the Iranian parliament speaker’s special adviser on international affairs, said Tehran will keep up its “decisive support” for the resistance and will not give in to pressures as regards the Palestinian issue and “Israeli” regime’s threats against the security of the regional countries. December 2018 seems to witness the culmination of the US destructive war in Syria hopefully, as the US pulling out of Syria is actually big news.

Also, Tehran has been playing an important role in supporting the Yemeni people, while thousands in the gulf country including infants suffer severe famine due to Saudi siege and war imposed on the Yemenis. Iran has always welcomed intra-Yemeni negotiations for positive achievements toward peace, stability and security in this county. Iranian officials have also supported global awareness about the calamities of the Saudi-led war on Yemen, expressing hope that it would help end the war in the country. In addition, Iran has also improved its relations with its neighboring countries, has been managing to keep terrorists from infiltrating the country through Pakistani borders, ameliorated bilateral relations with many players across the globe and aimed at preserving stability in the region in face of ongoing “Israeli” threats to surrounding countries.

Trump and MBS; a slap in the face

Now with friends like Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), the US does not need enemies. MBS and the Saudi kingdom have succeeded in embarrassing and isolating the US on the international arena. Saudi Arabia is one of the United States’ most important allies in the Middle East. Of course, Trump’s support to MBS and his milking of the Saudis while neglecting every other aspect does not make things better for Trump. The duo makes things look and work out better for Iran.

This is how The National Interest has described MBS and his kingdom: “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is ruled by an immature authoritarian known mostly for his myopia, ruthlessness, brutality, recklessness, ambition and arrogance. His misadventures are legendary: the murder and dismemberment of a self-exiled (Jamal Khashoggi) in a Saudi consulate; the brazen kidnapping of Lebanon’s prime minister; a busted campaign to isolate and invade Qatar; and a promised speedy invasion of Yemen that transformed into nearly four years of war—so far. Riyadh underwrote radical jihadists in Syria and Yemen, after spending decades promoting fundamentalist Wahhabism around the world. The royal regime also backs tyranny in Bahrain and Egypt with money and troops.”

It is difficult to have an impact on public opinion. With the tremendous amounts of money pumped into the media business, it becomes easy to fabricate facts and realities. However, Trump, along with his Saudi allies, has succeeded to push the public opinion farther. This comes especially as Trump did not respond with appropriate outrage and inflict effective retaliatory measures on Riyadh after the vicious killing of Khashoggi, but rather explicitly said that Saudis give the US a lot of business. This Trump-MBS misadventure has also emphasized who the real terrorists are.

Iran united

Now for Iran, it is important to know that the free will of the people is a major element that affects almost every aspect of the Iranian big picture. Also, if Iran ever decides to change its policies, it will have nothing to do with Trump or anyone in the White House or elsewhere.

To some extent, developments in regional and international relations during the past year have compelled all Iranian political sides to show unity and to cooperate on regional issues. Since the implementation of the nuclear accord, also known as the JCPOA, Iran has been normalizing relations with the rest of the world, especially the European Union. Trump’s ripping up of the deal seems to contribute in proximity between international players including Iran while alienating the US. Also, it is true that the oil and gas sector remains to be the backbone of the Iranian economy; however the question to how things can develop with the EU and other countries remains open. The Iranian economy might not be in a growth cycle, but the sanctions have pushed Iran to focus more on the non-oil sector, tourism, health tourism and IT start-ups which can become a game changer in Iran’s economy by increasing job opportunities and decreasing inflation. Bottom-line: Trump can try to harm Iran’s economy but cannot crush it. And NO, there will be no world order without Iran.

Source: Al-Ahed News – Iran

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