Yellow Vests ‘Season 2’ begins – are Season 1’s always better?

October 21, 2021

Yellow Vests ‘Season 2’ begins – are Season 1’s always better?

By Ramin Mazaheri posted with permission and cross-posted with PressTV

Last weekend, after more than one and half years away, the Yellow Vests hit the streets again for what they are calling “Season 2”.

You’re going to laugh and say, “But Season 2 of television programs are always worse!” Sure, for TV shows which turn out to be lousy. I find it hard to imagine that the Yellow Vests are going to sour into something unwatchable – in 2019 it was global can’t-miss politics.

The Yellow Vests poised to restart marching in Paris: The Bastille monument is in the background and a “Stop the genocide of the Gauls” sign is at the head of the demonstration. Photo Credit: Ramin Mazaheri

French President Emmanuel Macron may appreciate the coronavirus because it provided the only time in his term, other than his first several months when the streets weren’t swarming with protesters. There are self-centered Americans who claim that the corona hysteria was amplified in the West to push Donald Trump into losing re-election – some egotistical French say the hysteria was manipulated to get the Yellow Vests off the streets. Neither egos are totally out of control here, if you ask me.

Most everyone in France I talked with about the Vesters had the same response about Season 2: “The Yellow Vests still exist?” That’s fair – it has been a while.

I hate sounding like the perpetually self-referential Chris Cuomo of CNN, but no journalist in French or English attended more Yellow Vest demonstrations than I did… and even I had to catch up on what happened in the different epoch of 2019!

All I can say after doing so is – wow… France’s state-sponsored repression in 2019 boggles the mind and stuns the pen. It should not be forgotten, and someone needs to get it right.

Which is why at the end of 2019 I thought it was necessary journalism to compile this, A News Chronology of France in 2019: The Year of Yellow Vest Rebellion. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know exactly what happened in 2019, in what order, how, and why. It is 11,000 words but reviewing how the Yellow Vest phenomenon arose and exploded, and the depths to which France descended to repress it, make for astounding reading even if Chris Cuomo would have penned it.

To condense it all into two lines from the introduction: “The metronomic sadism of certain, massive state violence was not at all a normal state of affairs, and yet Parisians were expending all their psychic energy to convince themselves that everything was indeed ‘normal’. … The question that France cannot quite answer is: are they still the coloniser, or are they now colonised?

Disgusting Eric Zemmour, who has risen to third in the April 2022 presidential polls, will say that France is the colonised – by Muslims. Nonsense: somehow the lowest socioeconomic class is the one pulling the strings which gutted France’s middle class? Yet he still gets all the airtime in the world. The Yellow Vests, however, get it right – France has been colonised by the European Union, which is indeed a neo-imperialist project that is openly and repeatedly anti-democratic. For this Vesters get no airtime.

But they do get plenty of tear gas (a more powerful type began getting used in March 2019), and rubber bullets (or “flash balls” shot from “defense ball launchers” per the MSM), from a new police chief who was hired because the Prime Minister said that “Inappropriate orders were given to reduce the use of LBD (rubber bullets)” by the previous police chief, while protesters were forbidden from covering their face (are corona masks ok now?).

You really can’t make this stuff up: remember the “anti-Yellow Vest law”, the lockdowns, the deployment of the army, the reactionary and short-lived “Red Scarves”, the fake turnout numbers, the fact that Macron didn’t even utter the words “Yellow Vests” until April 25, the banning of rural demonstrations, the tear-gassed tourists on Bastille Day, Lobstergate, etc.

So, yes, Mr. and Mrs. Jean Q. Frenchy stopped going to protests around mid-May 2019. You can say the Yellow Vests grew unpopular but you’d be wrong – they were consistently around a 60% approval rating, which is a staggeringly high number for a protest movement, and a great score for a political party.

But don’t forget the victories: they stopped Macron’s privatisation of the airports, they forced him to back down on yet another austerity budget (thus ending 9 years of austerity), they got €10 billion in concessions (which was credited to raising France’s 2019 Q3 growth rate of 0.3% (remember how many years of awful quarters they had when 0.3% quarterly growth would be trumped up as proof of austerity’s success!)), they must get credit for inspiring the 2019/20 General Strike (France’s longest labor movement in history) and also – they refused to give up.

These are low numbers, because how many hurt protesters (including tourists) didn’t report their injuries, but the 1-year tally in late November was 11,000 arrests, 2,000 convictions, 1,000 imprisoned, 5,000 seriously hurt and 1,000 critically injured.

Incredible… and yet France continued to claim to be a leader in human and political rights all the while. As if Danton and Robespierre wouldn’t have guillotined themselves rather than be associated with the French government of today….

But we all know what happened right after the French union-led, which is to say incompetently-led, General Strike failed: ”2 weeks to flatten the curve!”

Well, at least it gave France a reason to have a new type of state of emergency. Recall that those started under Francois Hollande – executive branch power-grabs are not something started by Macron.

Season 2 of the West’s most advanced political group

Oh, wait – aren’t they Islamophobic, per the repeated accusations of the MSM? Well, then why did the head of the Paris demonstration feature a Muslim woman wearing a hijab?

Photo Credit: Ramin Mazaheri

In 2019 they marched against both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, by the way.

Nothing says, “The spirit of les Lumières (the Enlightenment)” like a machine gun at a peaceful, unarmed demonstration. Guess they don’t need to call out the army anymore?

Photo Credit: Ramin Mazaheri

I counted about 1,000 at one of the Paris protests on the opening act of Season 2, and I estimated there were 300 planned demonstrations nationwide. The Yellow Vests have always been a rural-based movement, and because the MSM dismisses and denigrates rural areas they have consistently undercounted Vester demos by a third. Here’s a shot of the Paris demonstration to see for yourself. Notice the Palestinian flag, even though Vesters are surely racist, Islamophobic, pro-imperialist, etc.?

Photo Credit: Ramin Mazaheri

Here’s the TV report we at PressTV did on Act 1, Season 2 – you may not find any others. I surprisingly did see a lone major French media there, which was a huge increase from the usual French media presence of “none”. An RT colleague was there, as always, so it was quite the same as it was from mid-May 2019 onwards – mostly just the Russians and the Iranians covering the Yellow Vests.

So what’s going to happen this season?

Well, the resumption of regular weekend repression of protesters would surely hurt Macron’s re-election chances, but will the average Jean and Jeanne Frenchy join them? Believe it or not, many people don’t like being tear gassed in 2021 as much as they didn’t like it in 2019. The massive state repression, the criminalisation, the tear gas, the beatings, the fines, the intrusive searches, the portraying of political protesters as mere rioters – the whole point was to scare away the average Frenchman, and it definitely worked.

People here tell me that Macron will just buy voters off with some one-off payments before the election, but Americans told me the same thing about Trump – I note that he did not.

The world is not going to lock itself down to sway the French election, like many said it seemed to do for the US election; the Western 1% really doesn’t care what happens to French protesters, and 2019 proved that emphatically.

If you’re going to pin me down for an early prediction, and fairly ask this foreign correspondent what exactly is going on in France, then at this point I’d say: Macron wins re-election regardless of how much petrol increases, inflation rises, the Vesters march, etc. for a simple reason:

The West postures on 18th century political and social achievements, largely disavowing 20th-century advances in political thought and anti-imperialism. Thus, France is a far-right country with a host of recent massacres, violence and repression which are forgotten or covered up as soon as the smoke clears – look at the Yellow Vests of 2019. The Yellow Vests are emphatically not poseurs, but they were and likely will be incredibly suppressed ahead of the presidential election.

Apathy is always the forerunner of catastrophe – however, perhaps France will grasp that and not cede the political field to the economic and social far-right (Macron, Le Pen, Zemmour)?

The story of French political modernity is not over – Season 2 has only begun.


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Photos by Ramin Mazaheri

Algeria Bans French Military Aircraft from Airspace

October 3, 2021

Source: Al Mayadeen & Agencies

By Al Mayadeen

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Algeria banned French military aircraft 


Algeria banned French military aircraft from entering its airspace, the French army reported Sunday. This comes as another Algerian step in response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s disrespect to Algeria’s sovereignty and history, in addition to the dispute between Algiers and Paris over visas. Macron’s comments and the visa row resulted in a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

France’s military planes regularly fly through Algeria’s airspace to reach the West African Sahel region, where they carry out military missions as part of France’s Barkhane operation.

Algeria’s decision “does not affect our operations or intelligence missions” carried out in the Sahel, a French army spokesman, Colonel Pascal Ianni, said.

This decision heightened tensions between the two nations, and it constitutes the latest step in this diplomatic crisis, which saw Algeria recalling Saturday its ambassador to France over “inadmissible interference” in its affairs. Algeria rejected France’s interference in its internal affairs hours after recalling its ambassador to Paris.

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هُيام «الضعفاء» بالنموذج الإسرائيليّ

الجمعة 30 تموز 2021

وليد شرارة

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لا تقيم إسرائيل اعتباراً فعلياً للدول الأعضاء في «نادي معجبيها»، مثل فرنسا (أ ف ب )

تأتي زيارة وزير الأمن الصهيوني، بيني غانتس، واجتماعه مع نظيرته الفرنسية فلورانس بارلي، ضمن مساعي حكومة الاحتلال إلى احتواء التداعيات السلبية لفضيحة برنامج «بيغاسوس» الذي أنتجته شركة «إن إس أو» الإسرائيلية، والذي استُخدم من قِبَل المغرب للتجسّس على هاتف الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون، ورئيس وزرائه السابق إدوارد فيليب، و15 وزيراً ونائباً ومسؤولاً سياسيّاً. البيان الصادر عن وزارة الدفاع الفرنسية بعد الاجتماع، يشي برغبة في تجاوز التداعيات السلبية المذكورة، إذ يشدّد على ضرورة تقديم إسرائيل «التوضيحات التي تطلبها فرنسا، والأساسية بالنسبة إلى الثقة والاحترام المتبادل بين البلدين»، وإطلاع المسؤولين في هذا البلد «على مدى معرفة الحكومة الإسرائيلية بأنشطة زبائن إن إس أو». الارتباط العضوي بين الشركة المشار إليها والأجهزة الأمنية والعسكرية الصهيونية، لم يكن خافياً على العديد من الخبراء والصحافيين الفرنسيين، في السنوات الماضية، أي قبل «الفضيحة» الأخيرة. فهذا لوي إمبير في «لوموند»، يشير في مقالة بعنوان «برنامج بيغاسوس: مجموعة إن إس أو في قلب القوة الناعمة الإسرائيلية»، إلى أن «الشركة المنتِجة للبرنامج والحكومة الإسرائيلية تعملان يداً بيد لبناء تحالفات جديدة، وخدمة مصالحهما على المستوى الدولي». لم تكن الأجهزة الأمنية الفرنسية غافلة عن هذه الحقيقة، وطلب «توضيحات» من قِبَل رسميين فرنسيين يعكس حرصاً على الحفاظ على التعاون المتعاظم في الميادين التكنولوجية والأمنية مع الكيان الصهيوني، باعتباره مصدر إلهام في كيفية خوض «الحروب الجديدة»، الموجّهة أساساً ضدّ السكان والحركات الشعبية، نتيجة لخبراته المتراكمة في هذا المضمار في فلسطين المحتلّة ولبنان. هو «نموذج» يُحتذى بنظر قطاعات وازنة من النُّخب السياسية الفرنسية والغربية، وكذلك بالنسبة إلى زبائنه التقليديين من أنظمة فاسدة ومستبدّة في جنوب العالم، ومنه العالم العربي. لكن، وفي مقابل هذا الحرص على العلاقات مع «الدولة – النموذج»، فإن اللافت هو أن الأخيرة لا تقيم اعتباراً فعلياً للدول الأعضاء في «نادي معجبيها»، باستثناء الولايات المتحدة وروسيا والصين، كونها دولاً قادرة على ردّ الصاع صاعين في حال تجرّأت إسرائيل على استخدام منتجاتها التكنولوجية للتجسّس عليها.


حبٌّ من طرفٍ واحد


قيام إسرائيل ببيع برنامج «بيغاسوس» للمغرب لكي يستخدمه الأخير للتجسّس على المسؤولين الفرنسيين، يُعدّ تطوّراً يستحقّ التأمّل فيه، لأنه يكشف تحوّلاً في طبيعة التحالفات التي تنسجها تل أبيب وفي نظرتها الفعلية لِمَن تعتبرهم حلفاء من «الدرجة الثانية». محاولات إسرائيل للتجسّس حتى على أهمّ حلفائها، ليس بالأمر الجديد. جميعنا يذكر قضيّة الأميركي جوناثان بولارد الذي اعتُقل سنة 1985 بتهمة التجسّس على بلاده لحسابها. الجديد هو بيعها برامج تجسّس لدول أخرى تعمل على تطوير علاقاتها معها، كالمغرب مثلاً، دون التأكُّد من عدم استخدامها ضدّ حلفاء آخرين، كفرنسا مثلاً. يعزو فردريك مورو، الخبير الفرنسي في شؤون الدفاع، في مقابلة مع «لوموند»، عدم اكتراث إسرائيل لردّ الفعل الفرنسي أو الأوروبي تجاهها، إلى قناعتها بأنه سيكون في غاية الضعف. ولا شكّ في أن هذا الرأي يتضمّن الكثير من الوجاهة لأن التحوّلات البنيوية، السياسية والاجتماعية، التي شهدها الكيان الصهيوني في العقود الماضية، وطغيان التيارات الفاشية القومية والدينية على المشهد السياسي فيه، كان لها أيضاً أثر كبير على الفهم السائد للوضع الدولي وللتحالفات. العالم من منظور هذه القوى، بات غائباً أكثر من أيّ حقبة سابقة، وموازين القوى الفجّة هي التي تحكم تعامل أطرافه بعضها مع بعض، صراعاً وتقاطعاً وتحالفاً. إسرائيل لا تحترم إلّا الأقوياء، وهم في حالتنا الولايات المتحدة وروسيا والصين، وتتجنّب استفزازهم. أمّا الآخرون، فهي تتعاطى معهم، وكما أظهرت «الفضيحة»، وفقاً لأولوياتها الظرفيّة.

لم تَعُد قوّة إسرائيل «الناعمة» تستند إلى ادّعاءاتها بكونها «واحة ديمقراطية» في محيط من البرابرة

وما فعلته مع فرنسا، لن تتردّد في تكراره في المستقبل مع دول كالمغرب والإمارات والسعودية إذا اقتضت مصالحها المتغيّرة ذلك. لا تحالفات ثابتة، أو على الأقلّ تجنّباً للتأزيم، إلّا مع الأقوياء. هي لم تراعِ الاندفاعة الفرنسية غير المسبوقة حيالها في السنوات الماضية، والتي فصّلها الباحث والصحافي الفرنسي، جان ستيرن، في سلسلة مقالات على موقع «شرق 21» عن اللوبي الإسرائيلي في بلاده. فشركة «إلبيت» الإسرائيلية تساهم في إنتاج نظام «العقرب»، وهو في قلب استراتيجية القوات البرية الفرنسية في العقود القادمة، و»يسمح بتطوير قيادة رقمية واحدة تعتمد على وصلة مشتركة تسمح للجنود المنتشرين في الميدان وكذلك للأدوات العسكرية الجديدة، مثل الطائرات من دون طيار والروبوتات، بأن تكون متّصلة في وقت واحد لتستبق بالتالي ردود فعل العدو». أمّا الشركات الفرنسية العاملة في حقل التكنولوجيا الرقمية، فـ»جميعها تريد الموساد عندها»، بحسب العنوان الحرفي لإحدى مقالاته في السلسلة المشار إليها آنفاً، والتي يتحدّث فيها عن مدى إعجاب الشركات الخاصّة وصناعات الدفاع الفرنسية، بإنجازاته في المجالات التكنولوجية، خاصّة برنامج «بيغاسوس». وهذه المقالة نُشرت في 26 نيسان الماضي، أي قبل «الفضيحة»، ما يضعنا أمام هُيام من طرف واحد يقابله عدم اكتراث، إن لم يكن ازدراء من الطرف الآخر.



جاذبية نموذج السيطرة والتنكيل والقتل


لم تَعُد قوّة إسرائيل «الناعمة»، أي جاذبيتها، تستند إلى ادّعاءاتها بكونها «واحة ديمقراطية» في محيط من البرابرة و/أو الأنظمة المستبدة. فقدت هذه السردية الحدود الدنيا من الصدقيّة على نطاق الكوكب. جاذبيتها اليوم تستند إلى خبراتها ومعارفها في ميدان القوّة الخشنة، والتي اكتسبتها من خلال حربها المستمرّة على الشعب الفلسطيني وشعوب المنطقة وقواها المقاومة. وحتى كاتب صهيوني «معتدل» كيوفال هراري يعترف بذلك في مقالة كتبها بعنوان: «سنستطيع قرصنة البشر قريباً»، يعتبر فيها أن «الضفة المحتلّة هي حقل تجارب بالنسبة إلى الإسرائيليين حول كيفية بناء ديكتاتورية رقميّة. كيف نستطيع التحكُّم بـ2,5 مليون من السكان عبر استخدام الذكاء الاصطناعي والبيغ داتا والطائرات المسيّرة والكاميرات؟ إسرائيل رائدة في مجال الرقابة والسيطرة: تقوم باختبارات ميدانية، ومن ثم تصدّرها نحو بقية العالم». وعلى الغالب، فإن هذه الخبرات وما تتيحه من قدرات أمنية وعسكرية وتكنولوجية، لأطراف تعتبر الشعوب أو قطاعات معتبرة منها، مصدراً رئيساً للتهديد، هي بين أبرز الاعتبارات التي تُفسّر هيامها بالنموذج الإسرائيلي.

Quick news update from the Saker (July 15th, 2021)

Quick news update from the Saker (July 15th, 2021)

July 15, 2021

Crazy times!

It turns out that the Colombian thugs which killed the President of Haiti were linked to both the DEA and the FBI.  The former agency confirmed that the killer were, indeed, part of a DEA team , but they never got the order to kill anybody.  Right.

[Sidebar for the alternatively gifted: if you are thinking “oh no!  The DEA is a respected branch of the US government, they would never do that“, I remind you that this latest assassination was in many ways very similar to the (failed) coup against Maduro (when they tried to blow him up with a drone) and the (also failed) “invasion from the sea”, again against Maduro (whom they wanted to kidnap and bring to the USA) which was also executed by thugs close to US three letter agencies.]

In the meantime, the Mayor of Miami wants the US military to bomb Cuba.  His logic?  Both Republicans and Democrats bombed sovereign nations in full illegality (no UNSC Resolution).  Does that mean that he wants Russia to bomb the USA for all the truly innumerable cases of human rights and civil right violations committed in the US?

By the way, the riots in Cuba were very limited and short lived, especially if compared to the numerous violent protests in Colombia.

It is also funny to see how Cuban rioters are freedom fighters whereas the protesters of Jan 6th are “terrorists”.

Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi I suppose…

Putin has just authored a seminal article on the history of Russia and the Ukraine.  See here for the article itself, and for a follow-up interview here.  I won’t write a detailed reaction/analysis of this text for the two following reasons:

  • The facts listed by Putin are uncontroversial, you can find them in any decent history book.  The way the Ukronazis deal with this is to invent a totally new “history” of the Ukraine, but without contributing any facts to substantiate their imaginary reality.
  • As for Putin’s analysis and conclusions, I agree with them.

Finally, there is a lot of things going on in the Ukraine, “Ze” seems to be in real trouble as the Biden Admin seems to be preparing a “post-Ze” period.  Very interestingly, the Ukronazi strongman cum (now ex-) Minister of the Interior, Arsen Avakov, either was resigned or resigned voluntarily.  Most observers agree that the reason for this was to decouple Avakov (which the Empire still needs) from “Ze” (which is totally useless) before “Ze” sinks to the bottom of the ocean.   It is too early to pick a version, but knowing the Ukraine, the info about what just happens will definitely leak and will be made public by the Ukrainian opposition leaders and analysts (Elena Bondarenko, Anatolii Sharii, Rostislav Ishchenko, Mikhail Pogrebinskii, etc.).

Very bad news from France: Macron clearly wants to make anti-Covid vaccines mandatory, first for healthcare workers and, this fall, apparently for everybody.  Knowing the French, there will be violent resistance to this kind of freedom-crushing measures.  A military coup is also always a possibility.  The “great silent one” as the French military is often called might not remain silent, especially not after many French generals warned that France is at the edge of a major collapse.

Yesterday was the National Holiday of France and the cops beat the living crap of the many rioters which took to the streets to protest the policies of the French government.  That is “democracy” at work I suppose 🙂

In Russia, the Moscow Patriarchate, always the obedient mouthpiece for whoever happens to be sitting in the Kremlin, has gone as far as to declare that those who refuse the vaccination are committing a sin!  Here is the original article (in German) about this: https://de.rt.com/russland/120250-russisch-orthodoxe-kirche-impfverweigerer-begehen/ and here is a machine translation into English: https://translate.yandex.com/translate?lang=de-en&url=https%3A%2F%2Fde.rt.com%2Frussland%2F120250-russisch-orthodoxe-kirche-impfverweigerer-begehen%2F.

Keep in mind that Putin himself said that there would never be mandatory vaccinations in Russia, so in this case the Moscow Patriarchate tried to over-please the Kremlin a little too much and, as as result, we have this weird situation of Putin saying that each Russian can decide for himself/herself whether to take a vaccine or not, and the MP adds that “yes, you a free, but say “no” and you are sinning before God”.  Truth be told, these folks are selected for their total obedience, not for their brains…

Of course, there is absolutely NO theological excuse for such a crazy statement, none!  Keep in mind that the person who made that statement is not just some lone, crazy, bishop but the Chairman of the Department for external Church relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion.  It don’t get more official than that.  Also, “Patriarch” Kirill used to occupy that function in the past (the Dep of External Relation of the Moscow Patriarchate was simply a franchise of the bad old Soviet KGB) and that is a function which only the most trusted candidates are allowed to ever reach.  You can think of the MP as a combination of Peskov and Zakharova, only dressed up in clerical vestments.

In conclusion, I have a dilemma and I would ask for your opinion: as many of you know, I have a very bad opinion of the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) and I don’t even recognize it as a legitimate part of the Russian Orthodox Church.  I could write up an article explaining it all, but I ALSO am aware that the MP is under attack by all the russophobic factions in the West and under attack by western religious sects (including the woke-home-lobby in both the US and EU).  Last, but certainly not least, there are a lot of people who simply don’t know the history of the MP and who sincerely take it to be a Russian Orthodox Church.  If I break the truth to them, they will be hurt and deeply offended.

I think my latest “cage rattling” exercise about the COVID-deniers proves that I do not shy away from writing deeply unpopular things (writing has never been a popularity contest for me, and since I have no ads and, therefore, no ad-money, I don’t have to worry about my controversial positions affecting my revenue.  But while I have no respect for the attitude, behavior and intolerance of the COVID-deniers, I have a great deal of respect for the Russian Orthodox faithful who know very little about the history of the MP and who very sincerely love their parish priest, possibly even their ruling bishop.  And I do not want to offend these “little ones” (in faith).

So what do I do?  Do I break this abscess and let all the pus out, or shall I wait for better times?

Please let me know.

I will end on a funny note: a US “diplomat” was caught on CCTV stealing a sign along a train track near the city of Tver in Russia.  It was not the FSB or the FSO which caught him, but the local police department.  The “diplomat” was quickly and quietly removed from Russia by the US Embassy.  This happened earlier this Spring, but the Russians released the video (see here) only now.  I knew that US diplomats nowadays were crap, but that kind of kleptocracy really reaches a new low 🙂  Next, the Russians will catch a US “diplomat” exhibiting himself in front of schoolchildren or eating his own feces.  Should that happen, Uncle Shmuel will blame the “KGB” (sic) for using an super dooper and super secret “energy weapon” against the coprophagic “diplomat” (especially if “diversity” in hiring continues to be the #1 criteria for the US government).

Hugs and cheers

The Saker

PS: about the US fleeing from Afghanistan, there is an interesting question which all should ask ourselves.  The question has two parts.  Part one: how many countries has the US invaded, or bombed, or overthrown or otherwise subverted since the end of WWII? and part two: to how many of those countries did the US bring freedom, democracy and progress?

نصرالله عصر التنوير وماكرون محاكم التفتيش Nasrallah – the Age of Enlightenment, Macron – the Inquisition

ناصر قنديل

العلمانية التي ظهرت كنظام سياسي وعقد اجتماعي للدولة الأوروبية المعاصرة، هي منتج سياسي وقانوني لثقافة أعمق نهضت على أكتاف الثورة الصناعيّة وتجسّدت في القرنين الثامن عشر والتاسع عشر بثورة العقل والمنطق. وما عُرف بعصر التنوير الذي قاده عمالقة بحجم فولتير وروسو ومونتسكيو، وتبلورت شعاراتها السياسية بالحرية والأخاء والمساواة في الثورة الفرنسية، بينما تبلورت فلسفته العميقة بالاحتكام للعقل، وكانت قطيعة مع تاريخ معاكس مثلته محاكم التفتيش الكاثوليكية التي دفع فيلسوف كبير مثل برونو وعلماء كبار مثل كوبرنيكوس وجاليلو ثمناً باهظاً لها بتهمة الهرطقة على قاعدة تحريم الاحتكام للعقل والعلم، بينما سياسياً واجتماعياً طورد الإصلاحيون باسم التبرؤ من البدع كما حدث مع الفيلسوف ميشال سيرفيه الذي أحرق حياً في جنيف بتهمة رفض عقيدة التثليث، فيما شكلت جرائمها بحق المسلمين في الأندلس أبرز ما حمله سجلها التاريخي تحت عنوان فحص الولاء لله، وشكلت فكرياً وثقافياً وجهاً من وجوه استمرار الحملات الصليبية.

في ما يشبه استعادة مناخات الحروب الصليبية يتبادل الرئيسان الفرنسي والتركي عبثاً بالعقائد والعواطف والانفعالات المنبثقة عنها، حيث يصب كل منهما من طرفه وفي البيئة التي يخاطبها زيتاً على نار حرب عبثية، لا يتورّع فيها الرئيس الفرنسي امانويل ماكرون عن التحدث عن أزمة في الإسلام، وإرهاب إسلامي، وفاشية إسلامية، أملاً بأن يتزعم جبهة تضم العلمانيين بداعي الدفاع عن حرية التعبير في شقها المتصل بالتغطية على ما يطال المقدسات الإسلامية، وتضم المتطرفين المسيحيين، الذين لا يخفون ضيقهم من تنامي حضور وتعداد المسلمين في فرنسا خصوصاً وأوروبا عموماً، وإلى الفريقين تضم اليمين الوطني الرافض لتكاثر المهاجرين من البلاد الإسلامية، أملاً بأن يشكل هذا الثلاثي مصدر زعامة تشبه زعامات بناها قادة الحروب الصليبية، بينما يسعى الرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان، وفي ظل نزاع مصلحي بين الدولتين الفرنسية والتركية، لقيادة جبهة تضم الجاليات الإسلامية المقهورة تحت ظلم سياسات عنصرية في أوروبا، وتضم التنظيمات الإرهابية التكفيرية التي تشغّلها تركيا، وكانت فرنسا شريكها في التشغيل طوال سنوات الحرب على سورية، وتضم ثالثاً الشعوب العربية من المسلمين التي تسمع بصعوبة كلاماً منخفض الصوت لحكوماتها الواقعة تحت تبعية ذليلة لحكومات الغرب، فتعجز عن التجرؤ لمخاطبة الحكومات الغربية، والرئيس الفرنسي في المقدمة بلغة شجاعة تنتقد وتصحح وتعترض. وهذه الحكومات التابعة هي شريك لحكومات فرنسا وأوروبا في رعاية الجماعات الإرهابية وتشجيع الفكر التكفيري، لكن بغرض استعمال نتاج هذه الرعاية في ليبيا وسورية وليس في أوروبا.

في هذا القحط الفكري، والانفلات القاتل للعصبيّات، يخرج رجل دين معمّم من أتباع الرسول وعشاقه ليقود الدعوة للتعقل وتحمّل المسؤولية، ووضع النقاط على الحروف، مستعيداً المعاني العميقة لشعارات الثورة الفرنسية ودعوات روسو وفولتير، حيث الحرية هي الاحترام العميق لحرية المعتقد. وهو في الأولوية معتقد الأقلية والضعفاء والمقهورين، والأخاء هو الترفّع عن منطق التمييز العنصري على اساس الدين والعرق واللون والجنس، والمساواة هي نزاهة تطبيق معيار المحاكمة العقلية للمفاهيم قبل أن تكون المساواة أمام القانون، حيث لا يستوي نص تحريم الحرية والعقل تحت شعار معاداة السامية، ولو التزما كل التحفظ العلمي والضوابط الأخلاقية، وتطلق حرية بث الكراهيّة، ولو تمت بصورة عبثية تستخف بالضوابط الأخلاقية والقيمية للأخوة الإنسانية، تحت شعار حرية التعبير، فجادل رجل الدين المعمم، بلغة عصر التنوير كوريث لمنجزات الحضارة الإنسانية، من يفترض أنه الوصي على تنفيذ منتجاتها من الموقع الدستوري والسياسي، بعدما ارتضى أن يتحول إلى قائد جيش في الحرب الصليبية أو رئيس غرفة من غرف محاكم تفتيش.

كلام السيد حسن نصرلله في ما تشهده علاقة المسلمين والجاليات الإسلامية بالقضايا المثارة على مساحة أوروبا من وحي قضية الرسوم المسيئة للرسول والجرائم الإرهابية المتذرّعة بها، مرافعة فلسفية عقلانية تستعيد روح عصر التنوير والاحتكام للعقل، والحل الذي تبنّاه ختاماً لمرافعته، مستعيداً مقترح الأزهر بتشريع عالمي لتحريم النيل من المقدسات، حجر متعدد الأهداف في يوم الوحدة الإسلامية، بينما يتساءل بعض رجال القانون في فرنسا، لماذا لا تتم محاكمة أصحاب الرسوم المسيئة للرسول تحت بند العداء للسامية، أليس الرسول من أحفاد سام بن نوح، وقد روى الترمذي أن الرسول هو القائل بأن “سام أبو العرب ويافث أبو الروم وحام أبو الحبش”؟

Nasrallah – the Age of Enlightenment, Macron – the Inquisition

2/11/2020

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Secularism is a political regime and a social aspect of the contemporary European state, it is a political and legal outcome of a deeper culture that emerged as a result of the Industrial Revolution and was embodied in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the revolution of reason and logic or as was called the Age of Enlightenment led by the giants as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu. Its political slogans called for freedom, brotherhood, and equality during the French Revolution. But this movement was faced with counter thinking represented by the Catholic Inquisition which a great philosopher as Bruno and great scholars as Copernicus and Galileo had paid a high cost in charge of heresy based on the prohibition of resorting to reason and science. Politically and socially, many reformists were chased under the name of the disavowal of heresies, as happened with the philosopher Michael Servetus who was burnt alive in Geneva on the accusation of rejecting the doctrine of Trinity. Its history was known for its crimes against Muslims in Andalusia under the name of loyalty to God, so intellectually and culturally it formed an aspect of the continuation of the Crusades.

As in the Crusades, the French and the Turkish Presidents exchanged in vain beliefs, emotions, and the outcome feelings. Each one of them has tried to evoke a futile war. The French President Emmanuel Macron did not hesitate to talk about a crisis in Islam, Islamic terrorism, and Islamic Fascism, hoping to lead a front that includes the secularists in order to defend the liberty of expression about Islamic sanctities, the Christian extremists, who are fed up with the growing number of Muslims in Europe in general and in France in particular, and the National right which rejects the growing number of immigrants from Islamic countries, hoping that this front can be a source of leadership as the leaderships of the Crusades. While the Turkish President Recep Erdogan was seeking to lead a front that includes the oppressed Muslim communities due to the tyranny of the racist policies in Europe, the takfiri terrorist organizations backed by Turkey, and the Arab Muslim nations who are suffering from their governments that are subordinated to the governments of the West, and do not dare to address them bravely, criticize or oppose. These governments are partners of the governments of France and Europe in sponsoring the terrorist groups and supporting the takfiri belief in order to be operated in Libya and Syria not in Europe.

In this intellectual aridity and fatal chaos of fanaticism, a religious man from the followers and lovers of the Prophet emerged to lead the call to be rational, to bear the responsibility, and to be clear, recalling the deeper meanings of the slogans of the French Revolution and the calls of Rousseau and Voltaire where freedom means the respect of the freedom of belief which is the belief of the minority, the weak, and the oppressed, and where brotherhood means to be away from the logic of the racial discrimination on the basis of religion, race, color, and gender, and where equality is the fairness of applying the mental judgment of concepts before it is governed by law, and where the texts of prohibiting freedom and reason cannot be dealt with under the slogan of anti-Semitism even if scientific reservation and moral controls were taken into consideration, and the freedom of  feeling hostile cannot be spread irrationally underestimating all moral controls of the human brotherhood under the slogan of the liberty of expression. Therefore, this religious leader has argued in the language of the Age of Enlightenment “as a heritage of the achievements of the human civilization” the man who is supposed to be the trustee constitutionally and politically not an army commander in the Crusades or a head of one of the inquisitions.

The words of Al Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah regarding the relationship of Muslims and the Islamic communities with the issues rose in Europe after the offensive drawings against the Prophet and the terrorist crimes relating are a philosophical and rational argument that recalls the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment and the resorting to reason. He adopted the suggestion of Al Azhar of an international legislation to prohibit the underestimation of sanctities as a base in the Day of the Islamic unity. While some jurists in France are wondering why the owners of the offensive drawings are not prosecuted under the name of anti-Semitism, Is not the Messenger one of the grandsons of Sam Bin Noah?! Al Tirmidhi narrated that the Prophet “peace be upon him” said: “Sam was the father of Arabs, Ham the father of the Ethiopians, and Yafith the father of the Romans”.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

Will the allies have to die for Kiev?

Thierry Meyssan Political consultant, President-founder of the Réseau Voltaire (Voltaire Network). Latest work in English – Before Our Very Eyes, Fake Wars and Big Lies: From 9/11 to Donald Trump, Progressive Press, 2019.

by Thierry Meyssan

The Ukrainian population is divided between a part of European culture and another of Russian culture.

This singularity offers Washington a playground against Moscow. For several weeks now, the drums have been beating, sounding war.

But none of the allies want to die for Kiev or sacrifice themselves to Russia.

VOLTAIRE NETWORK | PARIS (FRANCE) | 20 APRIL 2021

The US armed forces

Joe Biden has always been the “Pentagon’s man”.

1- The Anglo-Saxons have a hereditary enemy: the Russians. For them, Russians are despicable people, destined since Otto I (10th century) to be nothing but slaves, as their name indicates (‘Slavic’ means both ethnicity and slave). In the 20th century, they were against the USSR, allegedly because it was communist, and are now against Russia without knowing why.

2- Second adversary, enemies they have created for themselves by waging an “endless war” against them since September 11, 2001: the populations of the wider Middle East, whose state organisation they are systematically destroying, whether they are allies or adversaries, in order to “send them back to the stone age” and exploit the riches of their region (Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy).

3- Third adversary: China, whose economic development threatens to relegate them to second place. In their eyes, they have no other choice than war. This is at least what their political scientists think, and they even speak of the “Thucydides trap” in reference to the war that Sparta waged against Athens, frightened by its flight [1].

4 – The issues of Iran and North Korea are far behind the first three.

Joe Biden’s Interim National Security Strategy [2] or their Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community [3] keep repeating this from different angles.

Fighting three wars at once is extremely difficult. The Pentagon is currently looking at how to prioritise these. It will report in June. There is absolute secrecy about the commission that is doing this assessment. No one even knows who the members are. Yet without delay, the Biden administration is focusing on Russia.

Whether we are independent or subservient to the “American Empire”, we must stop trying to avoid seeing. The United States of America has no other objective than to destroy Russian culture, Arab state structures, and – eventually – the Chinese economy. This has absolutely nothing to do with the legitimate defence of their people.

There is no other way to explain why the United States spends astronomical sums on its military that bear no relation to the budgets of those it describes as its “friends” or “enemies”. According to the Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the US military budget is at least equal to the sum of the budgets of the other 15 most armed

states [4].

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Military budgets of the 15 largest states (in billions of US dollars).Source: Institute for Strategic Studies

Issues for confrontation with Russia

The US is concerned about Russia’s recovery. After experiencing a sharp drop in life expectancy between 1988 and 1994 (5 years less), it has recovered, then largely surpassed that of the Soviet era (12 years more), although its healthy life expectancy remains one of the lowest in Europe. Their economy is diversifying, particularly in agriculture, but remains dependent on energy exports. Their army has been renewed, their military-industrial complex is more efficient than the Pentagon’s, and it has acquired experience in Syria.

For Washington, the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline threatens to free Western Europe from its dependence on US oil. While the attachment of Crimea to the Russian Federation, and even that of Donbass, is at least partially a blow to Ukraine’s dependence on the American Empire (Crimea and Donbass are not of Western culture). Finally, the Russian military presence in Syria is slowing down the project of political destruction of all the peoples of this region.

“When you want to drown your dog, you say it has rabies”

It was undoubtedly President Biden who opened the hostilities by calling the Russian president a “killer”. The two powers had never exchanged insults, even in the Gulag era. His interlocutor replied politely and offered to discuss the matter publicly, which he refused.

The United States has a short-term view of the world. They do not see themselves as responsible for their legacy. According to them, the evil Russians have amassed more than 100,000 troops in the vicinity of Ukraine and are preparing to invade it, as the Soviets did in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. But then it was not Russia, but the USSR; not the Putin doctrine, but the Brezhnev doctrine; and Leonid Brezhnev himself was not Russian, but Ukrainian.

The Russians, on the contrary, have a long-term view of the world. In their view, the barbaric Americans challenged the balance of power with the attacks of 11 September 2001. Immediately afterwards, on December 13, 2001, President Bush announced the withdrawal of the United States from the ABM Treaty. The United States then brought into NATO, one by one, almost all the former members of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR in violation of their promise at the time of the dissolution of the latter. This policy was confirmed by the Bucharest Declaration in 2008 [5].

Everyone knows the peculiarity of Ukraine: Western culture in the West, Russian culture in the East. For about fifteen years, the country was politically frozen, until Washington organised a pseudo-revolution and put its puppets, in this case neo-Nazis, in power [6]. Moscow reacted quickly enough for Crimea to declare its independence and join the Russian Federation, but it hesitated for the Donbass. Since then, it has been handing out Russian passports to all the inhabitants of this Ukrainian region for which it is the only hope.

The Biden administration

President Biden was known, when he was a senator, for introducing legislation in the Senate that was devised by the Pentagon. When he became president, he surrounded himself with neo-conservative figures. We cannot repeat it enough: the neo-conservatives were Trotskyite militants who were recruited by Republican President Ronald Reagan. Since then, they have always remained in power, except during the parenthesis of Jacksonian President Donald Trump, switching from the Republican to the Democratic Party and back again.

During the colourful Maïdan ’revolution’ (2013-14), Joe Biden, then vice-president, took up the cause of the neo-Nazis who were agents of Nato’s stay-behind networks [7] He ran the operation with one of the then assistant secretaries of state, Victoria Nuland (whose husband, Robert Kagan, is a founder of the Project for a New American Century, the fundraising arm of Republican George W. Bush). President Biden decided to make her the deputy to his new Secretary of State. She relied on the then US ambassador to Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, now posted in Athens, Greece. As for President Biden’s new Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, he is both judge and jury because his mother is of Ukrainian origin. Although he was raised in Paris by his mother’s second husband, te lawyer Samuel Pisar (advisor to President Kennedy), he is also a neo-conservative.

Preparing for the confrontation with Russia

In mid-March 2021, the United States and its Nato partners organised the Defender-Europe 21 manoeuvres. These will continue until June. This is a repeat of the mega-exercise Defender-Europe 20, which was reduced and shortened due to the Covid-19 epidemic. It is a huge deployment of men and equipment to simulate a confrontation with Russia. These manoeuvres are joined by a nuclear bomber exercise in Greece, attended by the aforementioned Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.

On March 25, President Volodymyr Zelensky published the new Ukrainian Security Strategy [8], three weeks after President Joe Biden published the US one.

Responding to Nato, Russia undertook its own manoeuvres on its western border, including its border with Ukraine. It was even sending additional troops to Crimea and as far as Transnistria.

On 1 April, the US Secretary of Defense called his Ukrainian counterpart about a possible increase in tension with Russia [9]. President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a statement saying he was monitoring Russian moves that could be provocative [10].

On 2 April, the United Kingdom organised a meeting of the British-Ukrainian Defence and Foreign Ministries, under the responsibility of British Minister Ben Wallace [11] (who was very active in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict [12]).

On April 2, President Joe Biden called his Ukrainian counterpart to assure him of his support against Russia. According to the Atlantic Council, he announced his decision to give him a hundred combat aircraft (F-15, F-16 and E-2C) currently based at Davis-Monthan air base [13].

On April 4, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Democrat Adam Smith, negotiated with Ukrainian parliamentarians to provide large subsidies to the Ukrainian army in exchange for the Ukrainian commitment to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline [14]

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Discreet return trip to Qatar by President Zelensky and the head of the Ukroboronprom arms factories on April 5, 2021.

On April 5, President Volodymyr Zelensky paid a visit to Qatar. The official purpose was to develop trade relations. Qatar is the main supplier of weapons to the jihadists and, according to our information, the question of possible financing of fighters was discussed. The director general of the military manufacturer Ukroboronprom, Yuriy Gusev, was on the trip. It was he who had supplied weapons to Daesh on order from Qatar [15].

On April 6, Lithuania, which in the past protected the western part of Ukraine in its own empire, enquired about the military situation [16]

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President Zelensky receives the Chairman of the Nato Military Committee on April 7, 2021.

On 6 and 7 April, British General Sir Stuart Peach, Chairman of the Nato Military Committee, visited Ukraine to clarify the reforms necessary for the country to join Nato [17].

On 9 April, in accordance with the Montreux Convention, the Pentagon informed Turkey of its intention to transit warships through the Dardanelles and Bosporus straits.

After discussing weapons and money with Sheikh Tamin in Qatar, President Zelinski came to talk about men with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on 10 April 2021.

On April 10, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in Istanbul as part of regular consultations between the two nations [18]. In view of the Qatari endorsement, Nato member Turkey immediately began recruiting international jihadists in Syria to fight in the Ukrainian Donbass. Turkish military instructors were also sent to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, the headquarters of the International Islamist Brigade [19], created by President Erdoğan and his then Ukrainian counterpart with Tatars loyal to Washington against Russia.

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Logically, the Russian Federation was amassing troops on the Ukrainian border. So its partners in the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) questioned it about its manoeuvres. The Russian side only answered evasively. The Vienna Document (1999) obliges OSCE members to provide each other with all information on the movements of their troops and equipment. But we know that the Russians do not operate like the West. They never inform their people or their partners during an operation, only when their deployments are over.

Two days later, the G7 issued a statement expressing concern about Russian movements, but ignoring those of Nato and Turkey. It welcomed Ukraine’s restraint and called on Russia to “stop its provocations” [20].

On April 13, on the occasion of the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting with the Ukraine/NATO Commission, the United States pulled out all the stops. All the allies – none of whom wanted to die because the Ukrainians could not get a divorce – were invited to support Kiev and denounce Russia’s “escalation” [21]. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held extensive talks with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kouleba [22]. War was inexorably on the way.

Suddenly, President Joe Biden lightened the mood by phoning his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. He proposed a summit meeting, whereas Putin had dismissed the proposal for a public debate when he had insulted him [23]. After this initiative, war seemed avoidable.

On April 14, Antony Blinken, however, summoned his main allies (Germany, France, Italy and the UK) to mobilize them [24]

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.President Biden clarified his position on Russia on April 15, 2021.

On April 15, President Joe Biden gave his vision of the conflict, expelled ten Russian diplomats [25] He imposed sanctions on Russia, which was accused not only of rigging elections to get President Donald Trump elected, but also of offering bounties for the assassination of US soldiers in Afghanistan and of attacking federal computer systems using SolarWinds software.

Predictably, Russia expelled a similar number of US diplomats. In addition, it set a trap for a Ukrainian diplomat, who was caught in the act of espionage with classified documents in his hand.

Continuing on his path, President Volodymyr Zelensky went to meet his French and German counterparts, President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel. While deploring the Russian escalation and reaffirming their moral support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, they were evasive about what would happen next. In the end, if the United States and Russia are to meet and discuss, it is a bit early to die for Kiev.

Thierry Meyssan

Translation

Roger Lagassé

[1Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?, Graham Allison, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2017).

[2Interim National Security Guidance, White House, March 3, 2021. “President Biden’s National Security Strategy”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Roger Lagassé, Voltaire Network, 9 April 2021.

[3Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, Director of National Intelligence, April 9, 2021.

[4The Military Balance 2021, Institute for Strategic Studies, Routledge (2021).

[5] “Bucharest Summit Declaration”, Nato, April 3, 2008.

[6] “Who are the Nazis in the Ukrainian government?”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 3 March 2014.

[7NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe, Daniele Ganser, Routledge (2005).

[8] Presidential Order 121/2021.

[9] “Readout of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s Call With Ukrainian Minister of Defence Andrii Taran”, US Department of Defense, April 2, 2021.

[10] “Zelensky on Russian troops near border: Ukraine is ready for any provocations”, Ukrinform, April 2, 2021.

[11] “UK defense secretary initiates talks with Taran due to escalation in eastern Ukraine”, Ukrinform, April 2, 2021.

[12] “Nagorno-Karabakh: victory of London and Ankara, defeat of Soros and the Armenians”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Roger Lagassé, Voltaire Network, 24 November 2020.

[13] “U.S. Should Provide Lend-Lease Type of Aid Package for Ukraine to Help it Upgrade its Air Force – Atlantic Council”, Defense Express, April 7, 2021.

[14] “Arakhamiya, Congressman Smith discuss expanding military support for Ukraine”, Ukrinform, March 5, 2021.

[15] “Qatar and Ukraine come to deliver Pechora-2D to ISIS”, by Andrey Fomin, Oriental Review (Russia) , Voltaire Network, 22 November 2015.

[16] “Ukrainian, Latvian defense ministers discuss security situation on Ukraine’s borders”, Ukrinform, April 7, 2021.

[17] “NATO Military Committee Chairman visits Ukraine”, NATO, April 6, 2021.

[18] “Turkey recruiting jihadists to send them to Ukraine ”, Voltaire Network, 18 April 2021.

[19] « L’Ukraine et la Turquie créent une Brigade internationale islamique contre la Russie », par Thierry Meyssan, Télévision nationale syrienne , Réseau Voltaire, 12 août 2015.

[20] “G7 Foreign Ministers statement on Ukraine”, Voltaire Network, 12 April 2021.

[21] “NATO-Ukraine Commission addresses security situation in and around Ukraine”, NATO , Voltaire Network, 13 April 2021.

[22] “Meeting of Antony Blinken and Dmytro Kouleba”, USA (Department of State) , Voltaire Network, 13 April 2021.

[23] “Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Call with Vladimir Putin”, USA (White House) , Voltaire Network, 13 April 2021.

[24] “Main allies meeting on Ukraine”, United States (Department of State) , Voltaire Network, 14 April 2021.

[25] “Remarks on Russia”, by Joseph R. Biden Jr., Voltaire Network, 15 April 2021.

https://www.voltairenet.org/article212801.html

Ukraine redux: war, Russophobia and Pipelineistan

Ukraine redux: war, Russophobia and Pipelineistan

April 07, 2021

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

Ukraine and Russia may be on the brink of war – with dire consequences for the whole of Eurasia. Let’s cut to the chase, and plunge head-on into the fog of war.

On March 24, Ukrainian President Zelensky, for all practical purposes, signed a declaration of war against Russia, via decree No. 117/2021.

The decree establishes that retaking Crimea from Russia is now Kiev’s official policy. That’s exactly what prompted an array of Ukrainian battle tanks to be shipped east on flatbed rail cars, following the saturation of the Ukrainian army by the US with military equipment including unmanned aerial vehicles, electronic warfare systems, anti-tank systems and man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS).

More crucially, the Zelensky decree is the proof any subsequent war will have been prompted by Kiev, debunking the proverbial claims of “Russian aggression.” Crimea, since the referendum of March 2014, is part of the Russian Federation.

It was this (italics mine) de facto declaration of war, which Moscow took very seriously, that prompted the deployment of extra Russian forces to Crimea and closer to the Russian border with Donbass. Significantly, these include the crack 76th  Guards Air Assault Brigade, known as the Pskov paratroopers and, according to an intel report quoted to me, capable of taking Ukraine in only six hours.

It certainly does not help that in early April US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, fresh from his former position as a board member of missile manufacturer Raytheon, called Zelensky to promise “unwavering US support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.” That ties in with Moscow’s interpretation that Zelensky would never have signed his decree without a green light from Washington.

Controlling the narrative

Sevastopol, already when I visited in December 2018, is one of the most heavily defended places on the planet, impervious even to a NATO attack. In his decree, Zelensky specifically identifies Sevastopol as a prime target.

Once again, we’re back to 2014 post-Maidan unfinished business.

To contain Russia, the US deep state/NATO combo needs to control the Black Sea – which, for all practical purposes, is now a Russian lake. And to control the Black Sea, they need to “neutralize” Crimea.

If any extra proof was necessary, it was provided by Zelensky himself on Tuesday this week in a phone call with NATO secretary-general and docile puppet Jens Stoltenberg.

Zelensky uttered the key phrase: “NATO is the only way to end the war in Donbass” – which means, in practice, NATO expanding its “presence” in the Black Sea. “Such a permanent presence should be a powerful deterrent to Russia, which continues the large-scale militarization of the region and hinders merchant shipping.”

All of these crucial developments are and will continue to be invisible to global public opinion when it comes to the predominant, hegemon-controlled narrative.

The deep state/NATO combo is imprinting 24/7 that whatever happens next is due to “Russian aggression.” Even if the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) launch a blitzkrieg against the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics. (To do so against Sevastopol in Crimea would be certified mass suicide).

In the United States, Ron Paul has been one of the very few voices to state the obvious:  “According to the media branch of the US military-industrial-congressional-media complex, Russian troop movements are not a response to clear threats from a neighbor, but instead are just more ‘Russian aggression.’”

What’s implied is that Washington/Brussels don’t have a clear tactical, much less strategic game plan: only total narrative control.

And that is fueled by rabid Russophobia – masterfully deconstructed by the indispensable Andrei Martyanov, one of the world’s top military analysts.

A possibly hopeful sign is that on March 31, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, General Valery Gerasimov, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, talked on the phone about the proverbial “issues of mutual interest.”

Days later, a Franco-German statement came out, calling on “all parties” to de-escalate. Merkel and Macron seem to have gotten the message in their videoconference with Putin – who must have subtly alluded to the effect generated by Kalibrs, Kinzhals and assorted hypersonic weapons if the going gets tough and the Europeans sanction a Kiev blitzkrieg.

The problem is Merkel and Macron don’t control NATO. Yet Merkel and Macron at least are fully aware that if the US/NATO combo attacks Russian forces or Russian passport holders who live in Donbass, the devastating response will target the command centers that coordinated the attacks.

What does the hegemon want?

As part of his current Energizer bunny act, Zelensky made an extra eyebrow-raising move. This past Monday, he visited Qatar with a lofty delegation and clinched a raft of deals, not circumscribed to LNG but also including direct Kiev-Doha flights; Doha leasing or buying a Black Sea port; and strong “defense/military ties” – which could be a lovely euphemism for a possible transfer of jihadis from Libya and Syria to fight Russian infidels in Donbass.

Right on cue, Zelensly meets Turkey’s Erdogan next Monday. Erdogan’s intel services run the jihadi proxies in Idlib, and dodgy Qatari funds are still part of the picture. Arguably, the Turks are already transferring those “moderate rebels” to Ukraine. Russian intel is meticulously monitoring all this activity.

A series of informed discussions – see, for instance, here and here – is converging on what may be the top three targets for the hegemon amid all this mess, short of war: to provoke an irreparable fissure between Russia and the EU, under NATO auspices; to crash the Nord Steam 2 pipeline; and to boost profits in the weapons business for the military-industrial complex.

So the key question then is whether Moscow would be able to apply a Sun Tzu move short of being lured into a hot war in the Donbass.

On the ground, the outlook is grim. Denis Pushilin, one of the top leaders of the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics, has stated that the chances of avoiding war are “extremely small.” Serbian sniper Dejan Beric – whom I met in Donetsk in 2015 and who is a certified expert on the ground – expects a Kiev attack in early May.

The extremely controversial Igor Strelkov, who may be termed an exponent of “orthodox socialism,” a sharp critic of the Kremlin’s policies who is one of the very few warlords who survived after 2014, has unequivocally stated that the only chance for peace is for the Russian army to control Ukrainian territory at least up to the Dnieper river. He stresses that a war in April is “very likely”; for Russia war “now” is better than war later; and there’s a 99% possibility that Washington will not fight for Ukraine.

On this last item at least Strelkov has a point; Washington and NATO want a war fought to the last Ukrainian.

Rostislav Ischenko, the top Russian analyst of Ukraine whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Moscow in late 2018, persuasively argues that, “the overall diplomatic, military, political, financial and economic situation powerfully requires the Kiev authorities to intensify combat operations in Donbass.

“By the way,” Ischenko added, “the Americans do not give a damn whether Ukraine will hold out for any time or whether it will be blown to pieces in an instant. They believe they stand to gain from either outcome.”

Gotta defend Europe

Let’s assume the worst in Donbass. Kiev launches its blitzkrieg. Russian intel documents everything. Moscow instantly announces it is using the full authority conferred by the UNSC to enforce the Minsk 2 ceasefire.

In what would be a matter of 8 hours or a maximum 48 hours, Russian forces smash the whole blitzkrieg apparatus to smithereens and send the Ukrainians back to their sandbox, which is approximately 75km north of the established contact zone.

In the Black Sea, incidentally, there’s no contact zone. This means Russia may send out all its advanced subs plus the surface fleet anywhere around the “Russian lake”: They are already deployed anyway.

Once again Martyanov lays down the law when he predicts, referring to a group of Russian missiles developed by the Novator Design Bureau: “Crushing Ukies’ command and control system is a matter of few hours, be that near border or in the operational and strategic Uki depth. Basically speaking, the whole of the Ukrainian ‘navy’ is worth less than the salvo of 3M54 or 3M14 which will be required to sink it. I think couple of Tarantuls will be enough to finish it off in or near Odessa and then give Kiev, especially its government district, a taste of modern stand-off weapons.”

The absolutely key issue, which cannot be emphasized enough, is that Russia will not (italics mine) “invade” Ukraine. It doesn’t need to, and it doesn’t want to. What Moscow will do for sure is to support the Novorossiya people’s republics with equipment, intel, electronic warfare, control of airspace and special forces. Even a no-fly zone will not be necessary; the “message” will be clear that were a NATO fighter jet to show up near the frontline, it would be summarily shot down.

And that brings us to the open “secret” whispered only in informal dinners in Brussels, and chancelleries across Eurasia: NATO puppets do not have the balls to get into an open conflict with Russia.

One thing is to have yapping dogs like Poland, Romania, the Baltic gang and Ukraine amplified by corporate media on their “Russian aggression” script. Factually, NATO had its collective behind unceremoniously kicked in Afghanistan. It shivered when it had to fight the Serbs in the late 1990s. And in the 2010s, it did not dare fight the Damascus and Axis of Resistance forces.

When all fails, myth prevails. Enter the US Army occupying parts of Europe to “defend” it against – who else? – those pesky Russians.

That’s the rationale behind the annual US Army DEFENDER-Europe 21, now on till the end of June, mobilizing 28,000 soldiers from the US and 25 NATO allies and “partners.”

This month, men and heavy equipment pre-positioned in three US Army depots in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands will be transferred to multiple “training areas” in 12 countries. Oh, the joys of travel, no lockdown in an open air exercise since everyone has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Pipelineistan uber alles

Nord Stream 2 is not a big deal for Moscow; it’s a Pipelineistan inconvenience at best. After all the Russian economy did not make a single ruble out of the not yet existent pipeline during the 2010s – and still it did fine. If NS2 is canceled, there are plans on the table to redirect the bulk of Russian gas shipments towards Eurasia, especially China.

In parallel, Berlin knows very well that canceling NS2 will be an extremely serious breach of contract – involving hundreds of billions of euros; it was Germany that requested the pipeline to be built in the first place.

Germany’s energiewende (“energy transition” policy) has been a disaster. German industrialists know very well that natural gas is the only alternative to nuclear energy. They are not exactly fond of Berlin becoming a mere hostage, condemned to buy ridiculously expensive shale gas from the hegemon – even assuming the hegemon will be able to deliver, as its fracking industry is in shambles. Merkel explaining to German public opinion why they must revert to using coal or buy shale from the US will be a sight to see.

As it stands, NATO provocations against NS2 proceed unabated – via warships and helicopters. NS2 needed a permit to work in Danish waters, and it was granted only a month ago. Even as Russian ships are not as fast in laying pipes as the previous ships from Swiss-based Allseas, which backed down, intimidated by US sanctions, the Russian Fortuna is making steady progress, as noted by analyst Petri Krohn: one kilometer a day on its best days, at least 800 meters a day. With 35 km left, that should not take more than 50 days.

Conversations with German analysts reveal a fascinating shadowplay on the energy front between Berlin and Moscow – not to mention Beijing. Compare it with Washington: EU diplomats complain there’s absolutely no one to negotiate with regarding NS2. And even assuming there would be some sort of deal, Berlin is inclined to admit Putin’s judgment is correct: the Americans are “not agreement-capable.” One just needs to look at the record.

Behind the fog of war, though, a clear scenario emerges: the deep state/NATO combo using Kiev to start a war as a Hail Mary pass to ultimately bury NS2, and thus German-Russian relations.

At the same time, the situation is evolving towards a possible new alignment in the heart of the “West”: US/UK pitted against Germany/France. Some Anglosphere exceptionals are certainly more Russophobic than others.

The toxic encounter between Russophobia and Pipelineistan will not be over even if NS2 is completed. There will be more sanctions. There will be an attempt to exclude Russia from SWIFT. The proxy war in Syria will intensify. The hegemon will go no holds barred to keep creating all sorts of geopolitical harassment against Russia.

What a nice wag-the-dog op to distract domestic public opinion from massive money printing masking a looming economic collapse. As the empire crumbles, the narrative is set in stone: it’s all the fault of “Russian aggression.”

التنافس على مرفأ بيروت Competition for the port of Beirut

** Please scroll down for the English Machine translation **

Lebanon: No Justice 6 Months After Blast | Human Rights Watch

التنافس على مرفأ بيروت

لم يكن خافياً حجم الأهميّة التي يعلّقها الرئيس الفرنسي أمانويل ماكرون على المساهمة التي توفرها المبادرة الفرنسيّة في تشكيل الحكومة اللبنانية لحساب حصول الشركات الفرنسيّة على دور محوريّ في مشاريع ذات جدوى اقتصادية عالية يصنَّف مرفأ بيروت بالنسبة لفرنسا في طليعتها.

جاء الاهتمام الألماني بمرفأ بيروت علنياً ومنافساً للدور الفرنسي رغم الشراكة الفرنسية الألمانية في إطار المقاربة الأوروبية الموحدة للوضع اللبناني، وهذا يكشف الأهمية النوعية التي يمثلها المرفأ في الأدوار الاقتصادية للدول الكبرى وموقعها في اقتصادات المنطقة.

ربما تكون هناك اهتمامات لا تقل عن الاهتمام الفرنسي والألماني فكثيراً ما كان لافتاً ان الصين التي تتولى معداتها تشغيل مرافئ عالمية كبرى كمرفأ بوسطن الذي يُعتبر الأول أميركياً ومرفأ أمستردام الذي يعتبر الأول في العالم، وتقول المعلومات أن الشركات الصينية تنظر لمرفأ بيروت كجزء من شبكة خطوط تجارية مع العمق الآسيويّ، تشكل السكك الحديديّة بين بيروت ودمشق من جهة وبيروت والساحل السوري من جهة موازية مكوّنات أساسية لمشروع إعادة الإعمار والاستثمار، بالإضافة إلى اهتمام كوريا الجنوبية، التي قيل إن شركاتها أعدّت دراسات لتحويل مرفأ بيروت الى نقطة وصل رئيسيّة بين الشرق والغرب.

هذا الاهتمام يؤكد بالإضافة لكونه تعبيراً عن أن لبنان ليس قضية خاسرة اقتصادياً ولا هو تفليسة تنتظر مَن يديرها، فشلَ المشاريع المنافسة لمرفأ بيروت والتي تمّ إعدادها كبدائل له، ويعتقد البعض أن تفجير المرفأ كان في خدمتها، وفي طليعتها مشروع تقدّم مرفأ حيفا المحتلة كمدخل للتجارة الدوليّة نحو العمق العربيّ والآسيويّ بالاستناد الى معاهدات التطبيع الإسرائيلية الخليجية، ويتخذ العديد من الباحثين الاقتصاديين من حادثة قناة السويس التي يعتقدون بكونها مفتعلة، دليلاً على التخبّط الإسرائيلي في السعي لضرب الخيارات المنافسة لخط حيفا نحو العمق العربي والآسيوي، ومن التمسك الدولي بقناة السويس دليلاً على تعثر المساعي الإسرائيلية.

الخلاصة التي يشترك فيها الأوروبيون هي ان التطبيع لم يخلق ولن يخلق بغياب حل للقضية الفلسطينية شروط الأمان اللازمة لعمليات تجارية ستمتد على مسافة ألف كلم تعبر في جزء منها داخل الأردن الذي كشفت الأحداث الأخيرة فيه درجة القلق من وضعه تحت تأثير ضغوط وأحداث كبرى، ما يعني أن الدور التقليدي لمرفأ بيروت والرهان على توسيعه لا يزال يشكل المحور الرئيسيّ لتجارة الترانزيت بين أوروبا والعمقين العربي والآسيوي بإجماع الشركات العالمية الكبرى شرقاً وغرباً، ما يترجم اهتماماً سياسياً من حكومات الدول المعنية بالانفتاح على لبنان ومشاريع تمويل اقتصاده، والسعي لامتلاك تأثير على المسارات السياسية فيه.

Competition for the port of Beirut

It was no secret that the French initiative, and the contribution of President, Emanuel Macron, in forming the Lebanese government to order give the French companies a pivotal role in projects of high economic feasibility that places the port of Beirut the forefront.

The German interest in the port of Beirut came publicly and competing despite the Franco-German partnership within the unified European approach towards Lebanon, and this reveals the qualitative importance that the port represents in the economic roles of the major countries and their position in the economies of the region.

It has often been remarkable that China, operating major international ports such as Boston Harbor, the first American and the port of Amsterdam, which is considered the first in the world, consider the port of Beirut as part of a network of commercial lines with Asian depth, the railway between Beirut and Damascus on the one hand and Beirut and the Syrian coast on the parallel are key components of the reconstruction and investment project, in addition to the interest of South Korea, whose companies are said to have prepared studies to turn Beirut port into a major link between the East and the West.

This interest confirms in addition to being an expression that Lebanon is not an economically lost cause nor is it bankruptcy awaiting someone to manage it, the failure of the competing projects for the port of Beirut, which have been prepared as alternatives to it, and some believe that the bombing of the port was in its service, and at the forefront of which is the project of advancing the occupied Haifa port as an entry point for international trade, with the Arab and Asian depth, based on the Israeli-Gulf normalization treaties. Many researchers believe that the Suez Canal incident is fabricated, and evidence of Israeli confusion in seeking to strike the rival options of the Haifa line towards the Arab and Asian depths, and that the international adherence to the Suez Canal is evidence of the faltering Israeli efforts.

The conclusion that the Europeans share is that normalization has not created and will not create, in the absence of a solution to the Palestinian issue, the safety conditions necessary for commercial operations that will extend over a distance of a thousand kilometers that cross in part inside Jordan, in which recent events have revealed the degree of concern about its situation under the influence of major pressures and events, which means that the traditional role of the port of Beirut and the bet on its expansion continues to be the main focus of transit trade between Europe and the Arab and Asian giants by the consensus of major international companies east and west, which translates political attention from governments Countries concerned with opening up to Lebanon and projects to finance its economy, and seeking to have an impact on its political tracks.

جورج عبدالله: لن أتنازل عن موقفي ولا تُفاوضوا على براءتي George Abdullah: I will not give up my position nor negotiate my innocence

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

Al-Akhbar

Lea Al-Qazi Thursday, April 1, 2021

I will not regret, I will not bargain, I will still resist

The visit of Minister Marie-Claude Najm and General Abbas Ibrahim to Paris, and their meeting with French officials to discuss the issue of the Freedom Fighter Georges Ibrahim Abdullah, reactivated the stagnant waters and raised the level of hope as his release approaches. “Negotiations are advanced,” according to follow-up sources, without exaggerating, because France still requires Abdullah to apologize for his past, while he rejects the principle of researching the origin of his political position on his struggle and from his present and his present.

«… I promise you That I will not leave you,” French President Emmanuel Macron told the Lebanese after his visit to Mrs. Fairouz last September… He was the one who came, leaving Georges Ibrahim Abdullah in French custody. Since the August 4 Beirut explosion, Macron has come twice to Lebanon, without seeking to erase the shame of his country in the Abdullah case. He spoke about the titles of “Reform” and gave lessons in “nation-building”, forgetting France’s flagrant violation of human rights in the subject of Abdullah and the continued detention of his freedom despite the expiry of his sentence in 1999. 37 years have passed since the son of the “Lebanese Revolutionary Brigades” was arrested in Paris. Since then, France has implemented the orders of the USA and ‘Israel’ enemy to prevent his release and to implement requests for parole. In 2013, the Public Prosecutor’s Office in France abstained from implementing the decision of the Paris Sanctions Enforcement Chamber to release Abdullah, and then it was entitled to reject many requests for parole.

In 2018, the Lebanese state, for the first time, embraced the cause of the fighter George Ibrahim Abdullah, to no avail. The French “blackmailed” Abdullah with his freedom and stipulated that he apologize for his past and announce his repentance, which George refused. But suddenly, his has returned to the forefront of the Lebanese scene, and talk of his release is coming to an end.

In her first is the visit to the prison of “Lanmezan”, the Minister of Justice in the caretaker government, Marie-Claude Negm, met with George twice in one day for a period of three hours. The goal of visiting France was not to meet Abdullah, rather it was basically a private visit. Before leaving Lebanon, She discussed with President Michel Aoun, Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab, and the rest of the concerned parties, if they would welcome her meeting with Abdullah, and the answer was positive.

President Aoun approached the French President, while he was in Lebanon, about Abdullah’s case. Macron raised the legal dimension, which led Aoun to decide to send a legal figure. Preparations for Najm’s visit to the prison took place after her arrival in France, and the French were keen to link approval of the visit request by not allowing the minister to give any information to the media before and after the visit, according to diplomatic sources.

Robert Abdullah, George’s brother, says that the latter “was comfortable during his meeting with Najm, especially since it was the first time that a Lebanese minister visited him, and she informed him that there is an official follow-up to his case.”

The French demand abdullah’s apology for his past to grant him a presidential pardon


The second development is the visit of the Director General of Public Security, General Abbas Ibrahim, France, and his meetings with French officials during which he discussed Abdullah’s release, as part of an additional agenda that includes the French position on the government issue in Lebanon and the background of French talk about sanctions against Lebanese officials on charges of obstructing the formation of the government.

“This time there is a French seriousness in the case of Georges Abdullah that we have not previously entrusted,” said sources following up on the issue, considering that “the negotiations have come a long way.” However, betting on the “French conscience” remains an obligation. The case did not reach the finish line, due to obstacles that the French authorities are still raising in the face of Lebanon. According to the information, before Najm’s visit accompanied by Ambassador Rami Adwan – and meeting prisoner Abdullah, she met with French officials who told her that “the key to resolving the issue is Abdullah’s issuance of a statement presenting his apology to the families of those who have fallen into the operations he was accused of carrying out and his remorse for the past, at which time a French presidential pardon will be issued for him. Set him free ».

George, who is celebrating his 70th birthday on April 2nd, reminded the Minister of Justice of his positions against imperialism, stressing his commitment to the resistance approach, reiterating his lack of remorse and refusal to apologize for his past. More importantly, George is sticking to what he had previously said: he refused to beg for his freedom, and he wishes the authorities in Beirut not to negotiate his release on French terms. He sees himself as a political prisoner, and France is responsible for his detention or even execution in prison.

Abdullah’s lawyer, Jean-Louis Chalansse, told Al-Akhbar that there were no new factors in the file, especially since “last September, we applied for a new parole for George, and we still have not received an answer until now.” The lawyer is currently considering transferring the file to the European judicial services.

The official French silence was matched by a rise in popular movements condemning the decision to arrest George. Robert Abdallah says that the movements are escalating “slowly but regularly, whether through popular solidarity or the letters that MPs send to the Elysee to release George.” It can be said that, to a certain extent, the subject has begun to turn into an issue of public opinion in France ». In this context, Alain Pujola, one of the founders of New Anti-Capitalism Party (NPA), says that in previous years, “we have been suffering from campaigns of intimidation and misinformation against George and his family in the French press.” Currently, participation in demonstrations and meetings is still relatively small, but they are widespread in many French cities.” Pujola is the founder of The Liberation Of Abdullah Rally, in an interview with Al-Akhbar, considered that “the ball is in the court of the Lebanese who have to exploit their relations with the French administration and press for release.”

The most basic rules of diplomatic work and international relations if it is committed to the release of Abdullah through the use of “legitimate” means, to suspend any cooperation with Paris until resolving Abdullah’s case ….
Not to allow Macron to restore his “colonial glories”, acting as if he were qualified to launch “rescue” initiatives, threaten political sanctions and appoint ministers and officials, Especially since Macron represents a continuation of the submissive French mentality in the face of “Israel” interests. His speech is still echoed at the Higher Institute of Business ESA before his election as president in 2017, when he announced from Beirut that he was “against France’s recognition of the Palestinian state without a peace agreement between the two parties, and against any pressure on Israel.” George is not accused of carrying out any operation against French citizens, but because his struggle was in the face of the forces of domination and colonialism and in defense of peoples, his “crime” will remain unpardoned.

جورج عبدالله: لن أتنازل عن موقفي ولا تُفاوضوا على براءتي

الأخبار

ليا القزي الخميس 1 نيسان 2021

جورج عبدالله: لن أتنازل عن موقفي ولا تُفاوضوا على براءتي
تقدّم محامي جورج بطلب إفراج مشروط في أيلول من دون جواب (مروان بو حيدر)

زيارة الوزيرة ماري كلود نجم واللواء عبّاس إبراهيم لباريس، ولقاؤهما مسؤولين فرنسيين لبحث قضية المناضل جورج إبراهيم عبد الله، أعاد تحريك المياه الراكدة ورفع منسوب الأمل باقتراب إطلاق سراحه. «المفاوضات مُتقدمة»، تقول مصادر مُتابعة، من دون أن تُبالغ بالإيجابية، لأنّ فرنسا ما زالت تشترط اعتذار عبدالله عن ماضيه، فيما هو يرفض مبدأ البحث في أصل موقفه السياسي من نضاله ومن حاضره«… أعدكم بأنّني لن أترككم»، قال رئيس فرنسا إيمانويل ماكرون للبنانيين بعد زيارته السيّدة فيروز في أيلول الماضي… هو الذي أتى تَاركاً جورج ابراهيم عبدالله في المعتقل الفرنسي. منذ انفجار 4 آب، قَدِم ماكرون مرّتين إلى لبنان، من دون أن يسعى في أيّ منهما إلى محو عار دولته في قضيّة عبدالله. تكلّم عن عناوين «إصلاحية» وأعطى دروساً في «بناء الدولة»، مُتناسياً انتهاك فرنسا الفاضح لحقوق الانسان في موضوع عبدالله واستمرار احتجاز حرّيته رغم انتهاء مدّة محكوميته سنة 1999. 37 سنة مرّت على اعتقال ابن «الألوية الثورية اللبنانية في باريس، ليُصبح في ذلك أقدم الأسرى السياسيين في أوروبا. ومن حينه، تُنفّذ فرنسا أوامر الولايات المتحدة الأميركية والعدّو الاسرائيلي في منع إطلاق سراحه وتنفيذ طلبات الإفراج المشروط. في الـ2013، امتنعت النيابة العامة في فرنسا عن تنفيذ قرار غرفة تطبيق العقوبات في باريس الإفراج عن عبدالله، ثمّ لحقها رفض العديد من طلبات الإفراج المشروط.

عام 2018، تبنّت الدولة اللبنانية للمرّة الأولى قضيّة المناضل جورج إبراهيم عبدالله، عبر ثلاثي رئاسة الجمهورية – وزارة الخارجية والمغتربين – الأمن العام، من دون نتيجة. فالفرنسيون «ابتزّوا» عبدالله بحريته عبر اشتراط تقديمه اعتذاراً عن ماضيه وإعلانه التوبة، ما رفضه جورج. لكن فجأةً، عادت قضية المُناضل الأممي لتتصدّر المشهد اللبناني، ويرتفع الحديث عن اقتراب الإفراج عنه.
تطوران «يُبرّران» هذه الإيجابية؛ الأول هو زيارة وزيرة العدل في حكومة تصريف الأعمال، ماري كلود نجم، سجن «لانميزان» ولقاؤها جورج مرّتين في يومٍ واحد، لمدّة ثلاث ساعات. لم يكن هدف وجود نجم في فرنسا لقاء عبدالله، بل كانت زيارة خاصة في الأساس. قبل مغادرتها لبنان، بحثت مع الرئيس ميشال عون، ورئيس حكومة تصريف الأعمال حسّان دياب، وبقية المعنيين، إن كانوا يُرحّبون باجتماعها بعبدالله، فأتى الجواب إيجابياً. الرئيس عون كان فاتح الرئيس الفرنسي، أثناء وجوده في لبنان، بقضية عبدالله. ماكرون شرح البعد القانوني، وهو ما جعل عون يقرر إرسال شخصية معنية بالجانب القانوني. التحضيرات لزيارة نجم للسجن تمّت بعد وصولها إلى فرنسا، وقد حرص الفرنسيون على ربط الموافقة على طلب الزيارة بعدم تصريح الويزرة بأي معلومة للإعلام قبل الزيارة وبعدها، وفق ما تؤكّد مصادر دبلوماسية. يقول روبير عبدالله، شقيق جورج، إنّ الأخير «كان مُرتاحاً خلال لقائه نَجم، ولا سيّما أنّها المرّة الأولى التي يزوره فيها وزير لبناني، وهي أبلغته وجود متابعة رسمية لقضيته».

يشترط الفرنسيون اعتذار عبدالله عن ماضيه لمنحه عفواً رئاسياً


أما التطور الثاني، فهو زيارة المدير العام للأمن العام، اللواء عبّاس ابراهيم، فرنسا وعقده لقاءات مع مسؤولين فرنسيين بحث خلالها إطلاق سراح عبدالله، ضمن جدول أعمال إضافي يشمل الموقف الفرنسي من المسألة الحكومية في لبنان وخلفيات الحديث عن عقوبات مفترضة على مسؤولين لبنانيين بتهمة عرقلة تأليف الحكومة.

«هذه المرّة يوجد جدّية فرنسية في ملفّ جورج عبدالله لم نعهدها سابقاً»، تقول مصادر مُتابعة للقضية، مُعتبرةً أنّ «المفاوضات قطعت شوطاً مُهمّاً». إلا أنّ الحَذَر وعدم المبالغة في الرهان على «الضمير الفرنسي» يبقيان واجبين. القضية لم تصل خطّ النهاية، بسبب عراقيل ما زالت السلطات الفرنسية ترفعها في وجه لبنان. تُفيد المعلومات بأنّه قبل زيارة نجم – برفقة السفير رامي عدوان – الأسير عبدالله، التقت مسؤولين فرنسيين أبلغوها أنّ «مفتاح حلّ القضية هو إصدار عبدالله بياناً يُقدّم فيه اعتذاره لذوي الذين سقطوا في العمليات التي اتُّهم بتنفيذها وندمه عن الماضي، حينها سيصدر عفو رئاسي فرنسي عنه ويُطلق سراحه». جورج، الذي يحتفل في 2 نيسان بعيد ميلاده الـ70، ذكّر وزيرة العدل بمواقفه ضدّ الامبريالية، مؤكداً التزامه نهج المقاومة، ومُكرّراً عدم ندمه ورفضه الاعتذار عن ماضيه. والأهم من ذلك، أنّ جورج مُتمسّك بما أعلنه سابقاً: رفض تسوّل حريته، وهو يتمنى على السلطات في بيروت عدم التفاوض باسمه حول إطلاق سراحه بناءً على الشروط الفرنسية. وهو يرى نفسه سجيناً سياسياً، ولتتحمل فرنسا مسؤولية احتجازه أو حتى إعدامه في السجن.

يقول محامي عبدالله، الفرنسي جان لوي شالانسيه لـ«الأخبار»، إنّه لم تطرأ عوامل جديدة على الملفّ، خاصة أنّه «في أيلول الماضي، تقدّمنا بطلب إفراج مشروط جديد عن جورج، وما زلنا حتى الساعة لم نتلقّ جواباً». ويبحث المحامي حالياً في نقل الملفّ إلى الدوائر القضائية الأوروبية.

الصمت الفرنسي الرسمي، قابله ارتفاع في التحركات الشعبية المُندّدة بقرار اعتقال جورج. يقول روبير عبدالله إنّ التحركات تتصاعد «ببطء ولكن بانتظام، أكان عبر التضامن الشعبي أم الرسائل التي يوجهها نواب إلى الإليزيه لإطلاق سراح جورج. يُمكن القول إنّه إلى حدّ ما، بدأ الموضوع يتحوّل إلى قضية رأي عام في فرنسا». وفي هذا الإطار، يقول أحد مؤسّسي «الحزب الجديد المناهض للرأسمالية ، آلان بوجولا، إنّه في السنوات السابقة «كنّا نعاني من حملات ترهيب، والتضليل الممارس ضدّ جورج وعائلته في الصحافة الفرنسية. حالياً، ما زالت المشاركة في التظاهرات واللقاءات ضئيلة نسبياً، ولكن نجد أنّها مُنتشرة في العديد من المدن الفرنسية». بوجولا هو مؤسّس «تجمّع تحرير عبدالله» يعتبر في حديث مع «الأخبار» أنّ «الكرة في ملعب اللبنانيين الذين عليهم أن يستغلوا علاقاتهم مع الإدارة الفرنسية والضغط لإطلاق السراح».

أبسط قواعد العمل الدبلوماسي والعلاقات الدولية، تفرض أن يُعلّق لبنان أي تعاون مع باريس قبل حلّ قضية عبدالله… إذا كان مُلتزماً بالإفراج عنه عبر استخدام الوسائل «الشرعية». لا أن يُسمح لماكرون باستعادة «أمجاده الاستعمارية»، ويتصرّف كما لو أنّه أهلٌ لإطلاق مُبادرات «إنقاذية» والتهديد بعقوبات سياسية وتعيين وزراء ومسؤولين رسميين، خاصة أنّ ماكرون يُمثّل استمرارية للعقلية الفرنسية الخانعة أمام مصالح «إسرائيل». لا يزال يتردّد صدى خطابه في «المعهد العالي للأعمال قبل انتخابه رئيساً سنة 2017، حين أعلن من بيروت أنّه «ضدّ اعتراف فرنسا بالدولة الفلسطينية من دون اتفاق سلام بين الطرفين، وضدّ ممارسة أي ضغط على اسرائيل». جورج غير مُتهم بتنفيذ أي عملية ضدّ مواطنين فرنسيين، ولكن لأنّ نضاله كان بوجه قوى الهيمنة والاستعمار ودفاعاً عن الشعوب، ستبقى «جريمته» غير مغفورة لدى «ورثتهم».

ماكرون أربك واشنطن في لبنان والملف النوويّ Macron confused Washington in Lebanon and the nuclear file

**Please scroll down for the English Machine translation **


ماكرون أربك واشنطن في لبنان والملف النوويّ

 ناصر قنديل

حاولت فرنسا في عهد الرئيس أمانويل ماكرون أن تستعيد صورة الدولة المستقلة والمتوازنة، وأن تقود الاتحاد الأوروبي تحت هذا العنوان، وخلال سنوات مرّت على انتخابه كانت هذه المحاولة تحت الاختبار، والأبرز كان استحقاق الحفاظ على الاتفاق النووي مع إيران، بعدما انسحبت منه إدارة الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب، ووقفت أوروبا قبل أن يبدأ تفكك وحدتها موحّدة تحت شعار حماية الاتفاق. وخلال هذه السنوات فشلت أوروبا وفي المقدّمة فرنسا في تقديم المثال والنموذج الذي كان ينتظره العالم لتقديم نموذج الاستقلال والاقتدار، فبقي القرار الأميركي حاكماً ومقرراً للحركة الأوروبية وفي قلبها الحركة الفرنسية.

راهنت إدارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن على تغيير في مقاربتها للملفات الساخنة لتتفرّغ لأوضاعها الداخلية، وتستردّ ما وصفه بايدن بقوة المثال بدلاً من مثال القوة الذي وسم به سلفه ترامب، وكان لفرنسا مكانة خاصة في مقاربة بايدن للسياسات الخارجيّة الجديدة، فخطاب بايدن عن المواجهة مع روسيا والصين يبدأ باستنهاض أوروبا وحلف الأطلسي، وفي قلبهما فرنسا، والعودة للاتفاق النوويّ بصورة سريعة تحفظ ماء وجه واشنطن تقوم على رهان عنوانه فرنسا، حتى جاء اختيار بايدن لكل من وزير خارجيّته توني بلينكن ومبعوثه إلى إيران روبرت مالي، الفرانكوفينيين اللذين عاشا وتعلّما في فرنسا تعبيراً عن هذا الرهان.

دخل الرئيس الفرنسي على خطة الرئيس الأميركي نحو ملفات السياسة الخارجيّة، ووضع معادلة عنوانها حماية الدور الفرنسي بتفويض أميركيّ في التعامل مع الملف اللبنانيّ بعدما خسرت فرنسا نفوذها في ليبيا أمام تركيا، مقابل تحرّكه تحت المظلة الأميركيّة في الملفات الدوليّة وفي طليعتها تفعيل العلاقة الأميركية الأوروبية، وتنشيط حلف الأطلسي، والاصطفاف في مواجهة روسيا والصين، والتحرّك على خط التفاوض مع إيران في شروط العودة إلى التفاهم النوويّ معها، وبدا بعد الاتصال الهاتفي بين بايدن وماكرون أن فترة اختبار أميركيّة منحت لفرنسا.

خلال أسبوع من الاتصال الهاتفي أعلن ماكرون ضمانته للسعودية بالشراكة في مفاوضات الملف النووي، ضمن معادلة رسمها ماكرون ووزير خارجيّته، تقوم على تولي السعودية تسهيل مهمة فرنسا لبنانياً، مقابل حصول فرنسا على موافقة أميركيّة وإيرانيّة على ضم السعودية إلى مفاوضاتهما حول الملف النووي الإيراني، فسقط الحل اللبنانيّ المنتظر وصار مرتبطاً بالملف النووي الإيراني، على الأقل في التسهيل المنتظر من السعودية، وارتبك الدور الفرنسي الوسيط في مفاوضات الملف النووي بسبب الفيتو الإيراني على الوساطة الفرنسيّة، بعد هذا الإعلان، واضطرار واشنطن لسحب التفويض الممنوح لفرنسا كوسيط، لضمان مواصلة التفاوض، سواء عبر الدور الذي كان مؤجلاً لمبعوثها روبرت مالي، أو عبر تكليف مفوّض السياسة الخارجية الأوروبية جوزيب بوريل بتولي المهمة الفرنسية.

بدلاً من المراجعة الفرنسية للدور، مضت إدارة الرئيس ماكرون بالهروب إلى الأمام، وبعد خسارة التفويض الأميركي، تواجه مخاطر خسارة التفويض الأوروبي، فوزير خارجية فرنسا أحرج أوروبا بحديثه عن طلب العقوبات الأوروبية على المسؤولين اللبنانيين، ما اضطر بوريل إلى الإعلان عن موقف واضح مختلف عنوانه دعوة الأحزاب اللبنانية إلى إنجاز اتفاق سياسي يتيح منع الانهيار، بينما فرنسا بشخص وزير خارجيتها تريد أوروبا واجهة لضغوط تنقذ مبادرتها المترنّحة، أملاً بتجاوز مأزق وعود ماكرون التي لم تتحقق للسعودية.

شيئاً فشيئاً تسود نظرية أميركية، وتبدأ لتصبح أوروبية، عنوانها خفة الرئيس ماكرون، ويصل بعض الخبراء الأميركيين للقول إن الشهور الأولى من ولاية الرئيس بايدن ضاعت بسبب خفة ماكرون، وبعضهم يقول إن الانتظار الصيني الإيراني للإعلان عن توقيع الاتفاق الاستراتيجي، كان لمنح بايدن فرصة تظهير مقاربة جديدة للعلاقات الدوليّة، فتمخض بايدن وأجهض ماكرون، على طريقة تمخّض الجبل فأجهض فأراً.

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Macron confused Washington in Lebanon and the nuclear file

Nasser Kandil

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– France tried under President Emmanuel Macron to restore the image of an independent and balanced state, and to lead the European Union under this title, and within years of his election this attempt was tested, most notably the merit of maintaining the nuclear deal with Iran, after the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from it, and Europe stood before the disintegration of its unity began under the banner of protecting the agreement. During these years, Europe, led by France, failed to provide the example and model that the world was waiting for to present the model of independence and power, and the American decision remained the ruler and rapporteur of the European movement and at the heart of the French movement.

The administration of US President Joe Biden wagered on a change in its approach to hot files in order to devote itself to its internal conditions, and to recover what Biden described with the power of the example instead of the example of power that characterized his predecessor Trump, and France had a special place in Biden’s approach to the new foreign policies, so Biden’s speech about the confrontation with Russia and China It begins with the revival of Europe and NATO, with France at their heart, and a quick return to the nuclear agreement that saves Washington’s face, based on a bet whose title is France, until Biden chose each of his foreign minister Tony Blinken and his envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, the Francophenians who lived and learned in France as an expression of this. the bet.

– President Joe Biden’s administration has bet on a change in its approach to the hot files to take off its domestic situation, and recovers what Biden strongly described as an example instead of the example of power that his predecessor Trump has branded. France has a special place in Biden’s approach to new foreign policies, Biden’s rhetoric on confrontation with Russia and China begins with its Europe and NATO, where France is the heart. The quick return to the nuclear deal will save Washington’s face water depends on France, and explain Biden’s choice to appoint too Francophenians who lived and educated in France, as his foreign minister, Tony Blinken, and his envoy to Iran, Robert Malle.

-The French President entered into the US President’s plan towards foreign policy files, and set up an equation titled protecting the French role with an American mandate in dealing with the Lebanese file after losing its influence in Libya to Turkey, in exchange for moving under the US umbrella in the international files, on top of which is the activation of the US-European relationship, and the revitalization of NATO, aligning itself in the face of Russia and China, and moving on the line of negotiations with Iran in terms of returning to a nuclear understanding with it, and it seemed after the phone call between Biden and Macron that an American test period had been granted to France.

– After the phone call between Biden and Macron that an American test period had been granted to France .The French president entered the plan of the U.S. on the foreign policy files. He put an equation to protect the French role under U.S. mandate in dealing with the Lebanese file after France lost its influence in Libya to Turkey, in exchange for the revitalization of NATO, in the face of Russia and China, and moving on the line of negotiation with Iran.

– Within a week of the phone call, Macron announced his guarantee to Saudi Arabia in partnership in the negotiations on the nuclear file, within an equation drawn by Macron and his foreign minister, based on Saudi Arabia to facilitate the mission of France Lebanon, in exchange for France’s approval of the inclusion of Saudi Arabia in their negotiations on the Iranian nuclear file, the expected Lebanese solution fell and became linked to the Iranian nuclear file, at least in the facilitation expected from Saudi Arabia, and the French mediating role in the nuclear file negotiations was confused by the Iranian veto on the French mediation., After this announcement, Washington was forced to withdraw the mandate granted to France as a mediator, to ensure the continuation of the negotiations, whether through the role that was postponed to its envoy, Robert Malle, or by assigning the European foreign policy commissioner, Josep Borrell, to assume the French mission.

-Instead of the French review of the role, President Macron’s administration proceeded to flee forward, and after losing the American mandate, He faces the risks of losing the European mandate, and the French Foreign Minister embarrassed Europe by talking about the request for European sanctions against Lebanese officials, which forced Borrell to announce a different clear position entitled: Call The Lebanese parties reach a political agreement that allows preventing the collapse, while France, in the person of its foreign minister, wants Europe to face pressures to save its faltering initiative, hoping to overcome the deadlock and Macron’s unfulfilled promises to Saudi Arabia.

– Little by little, an American theory prevails, and it begins to become European, titled the lightness of President Macron, and some American experts arrive to say that the first months of President Biden’s term were lost because of Macron’s lightness, and some say that the Chinese-Iranian wait to announce the signing of the strategic agreement was to give Biden the opportunity to demonstrate an approach to international relations, Biden labored and Macron aborted, the mountain gave birth to a mouse.

Munich-esque Davos

January 31, 2021

Munich-esque Davos

Rostislav Ishchenko – Crossposted with permission from Stalker Zone

Vladimir Putin’s speech, delivered in the format of remote participation in the annual Davos forum, is already being actively compared with his Munich speech of 2007.

Well, there is something in common. It is about the same general as between Stalin’s “Brothers and Sisters!” in 1941 and the toast “To the great Russian people!” in 1945.

The Munich Speech of 2007 stated Russia’s acceptance of the challenge posed by the west. We didn’t attack, we were attacked. We offered peace, but the enemy chose war. We are not going to capitulate, we will win the war. We suggest, before it’s too late, to come to your senses and stop the aggression. The Emperor Aleksandr the Blessed conveyed similar words to Napoleon through the Adjutant-General Balashov in June 1812, adding that if necessary, he would retreat to Kamchatka, but would not lay down his weapons as long as at least one enemy was on Russian soil.

So Putin’s Munich speech is evidence of Russia’s entry into a new (hybrid, informational) Patriotic War. And here is his Davos speech – summing up the results of this war. A kind of new Yalta (the Yalta Conference also took place before Germany finally capitulated).

The people who came up with this move and worked on organising the speech of the President of Russia at the Davos Forum in 2021 should be given the hero of Russia title in full force. It’s also possible to erect a monument. Thanks to their efforts, unlike Yalta in 1945, today Russia has found itself at the origins of a new post-war world in the singular, without any allies/competitors. At the same time, the same China can not be offended — no one has removed it. Somehow it just happened. And its interests are not being violated.

Let’s look at the Davos speech from the point of view of diplomatic art.

Everyone knows that the Davos Forum is a gathering of the global financial and industrial elite, people who have a significant, and sometimes decisive, influence on the policies of their (and sometimes neighboring) states. Politicians, even the most prominent ones, serve only as a condiment there. Their presence is evidence of the importance of the non-political part of the guests. Those who speak from the stage mean much less there than those who are silent and listen on the sidelines. In addition, in terms of information, any speech will be blocked by a dozen others, blocked in a panel discussion. The journalists present at the forum are more interested in showing their own importance by interviewing at least a minor oligarch (Ukrainian, for example, from year to year discuss the colour of dumplings and the size of portions at Pinchuk‘s “Ukrainian Breakfast”, without being distracted by anything else). In general, it is almost impossible to give a speech on this platform an appropriate political and informational sound.

That is why Putin did not go to Davos for 12 years — there was no need.

It was then that the coronavirus pandemic came, which forced the forum to be held remotely. As a result, a huge number of narcissistic peacocks, who previously proudly wore their shiny tails on the sidelines of the forum, remained at home. On Skype, you can’t take a picture against the background of someone from the powerful of this world and you can’t exchange a few words with anyone during a coffee break. The forum was almost forgotten.

But it didn’t die. Its organisers did not want to chop up the chicken that lays the golden eggs, because of some pandemic. If the motley retinue that gave the picture is cut off, and there are only a few dozen people who really make serious decisions, then the problem lies only behind the topic that would captivate everyone so much that it would put the forum held on Skype at the centre of the world information agenda.

Nothing could be better than Putin’s speech to solve this problem.

Firstly, as a result of the crisis in the US, it became obvious even to the deepest skeptics that Washington had lost its leadership in the modern world. Moreover, the Biden coup made the US a pillar of the liberal left and a threat to right-wing conservative forces around the world. The right-wing conservative traditionalist Trump, considered by western conservatives as a potential leader, has been knocked out of politics for a long time, if not forever. At best, he will be able to return to American politics after some time, but he is still far from returning to global politics.

Secondly, there is also no leader among European politicians capable of leading the right-conservative resistance to the left-liberal globalists. Merkel herself is a liberal (though pragmatic), and is also retiring. Macron is ambitious, but he works in the style of “both yours and ours”, he can not be trusted — at any time he can go to the other side. The rest neither came out in caliber, nor the countries they represent can claim to be a leader.

Thirdly, Xi Jinping in China is certainly a conservative leader in Asia, but due to the huge cultural and historical differences, he cannot claim leadership in Europe.

Putin in Davos came to a popular position in the conditions of a complete absence of competitors. It is designed for the world’s financial and industrial elite, was the only offer of a “bright future”, which should come after the final demolition of the American-centric system (and for this reason it turned out to be the number one information topic of the week that no one can ignore).

Putin elegantly demonstrated the inevitability of its final disintegration with a few figures, which showed that while over the past 15-20 years the number of poor people (living on less than $5 a day) in the US has increased by 1.5-fold, in China the number of such people has decreased by 4-fold, and in Russia – 12-fold. At the same time, in Russia today the number of people living on less than $5 a day is already less than in the US.

For people who are used to buying and selling, who know well what the purchasing power of the population is, who are able to calculate processes in dynamics, these figures are a verdict for the US. Moreover, they already know that in military terms, Russia has also overtaken the west forever. The US and Europe do not have the technology to catch up with Moscow in the field of weapons, and there are no resources to develop such technologies in the next decade.

I.e., on the computer screens of about 100 of the most influential people on the planet, the president of Russia appears and offers a model of a new post-American world without an alternative (in the absence of at least some competitor). Putin points out that the loose liberal leftists pose a threat to any statehood, and gently unobtrusively hints that Russia will not just fight this, but is also ready to lead an alliance of healthy conservative forces around the world, ensuring the protection of national statehood from the encroachments of TNCs.

To the natural question in return, without waiting for it to be asked, Putin explains that no one is going to demolish the system to the ground, just in the conditions of a severe systemic crisis, the role of the state in economic life should be strengthened. The state is not going to replace a private initiative. It only plans to smooth out the rough edges and make sure that the private pursuit of profit maximisation does not conflict with public interests and conservative values. What remains behind the scenes is that it is the Russian state that should become the guarantor and leader of this process.

Another unasked question, “How to defeat the left-liberal destroyers of the state in the interests of the transnational financial oligarchy?” was answered on January 23rd and in the following days on the streets of Russian cities. Without excessive violence, without totalitarian prohibitions, but also without liberalism with outright hooliganism. Those who can be negotiated with — an agreement will be made. And those leopards who will change their spots will be jailed (but alive). In general, against the background of what is happening in the world (from Belarus to the US), Russian protective measures are indeed the softest, but at the same time the most effective.

In general, for the global money that really wants to work within the framework of a classical market economy, which doesn’t want to wait for the “golden billion” to turn into a “golden million”, then into a “golden thousand”, and then into a gang of crazy bankers fighting on the ruins of the planet, Putin proposed a way out of the crisis, drew the outline of the “post-Yalta world” (guaranteed by Russian power) and suggested that we begin discussing its final format.

And look, 80 people from among the most influential people on the planet did not laugh in Putin’s face, as it was in 2007 in Munich, and without noise and dust immediately after his open speech signed up for a closed conference with him.

Honest liberals and ordinary urban lunatics can laugh quite sincerely and free of charge at the claims (and evidence) of Russian power and global authority. This queue of those who run the global economy for a private meeting with Putin is the best evidence that what seemed incredible yesterday has become obvious today. Russia has put the terms of a new world on the table. And the world reached out to discuss these conditions.

Finally, once again, I want to draw your attention to the inconspicuous feat of the people who prepared this speech of Putin. In terms of scale and impact on historical processes, this is steeper than the Battles of Stalingrad and Kursk combined. In addition, the victory was achieved with little blood and on foreign territory. The effect of the bomb explosion is achieved by surprise. This is already the corporate identity of Russia. Putin’s speech in Munich was sudden, and the crushing defeat of the presumptuous Saakashvili regime in August 2008 was sudden. The return of Crimea was sudden. And now the same sudden Davos.

The late Viktor Stepanovich Chernomyrdin would have remarked with satisfaction: “This has never happened before, and here it is again!”

SADAT: Blackwater… with a Turkish-Islamic Flavor!

ARABI SOURI 

Turkish SADAT Mercenary and security company - Erdogan

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

All the opposition’s questions and inquiries remain unanswered as long as the ambiguity hangs over the entire activity and activities of the “SADAT” company.

Turkey has been witnessing for days, far from the interests of the global media, an exciting debate related to the defense philosophy that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes in, at least according to the opposition’s perception. The International Defense and Consulting Services Company, SADAT, announced a few days ago, on its official website: “Organizing special courses in the field of assassinations, bombings, raids, ambushes, and special operations.” This was preceded by a webinar in which some thinkers from Islamic countries participated, during which they discussed “the necessity for Islamic countries to have a joint force in order to rise to the level of superpowers in defending themselves.”

The discussion gained additional importance, because the founder and chairman of the company, Adnan Tanri Wardi, was until January of last year a personal advisor to President Erdogan, as well as a member of the Supreme Commission for Defense and Foreign Policy Affairs in the Republican Palace.

Before getting acquainted with the nature of this company and its various activities, it is necessary to introduce the man and his interesting personality, as he was the commander of the special units in the Chief of Staff before he was expelled from the army in 1996 because of his religious activities, and he was also, a friend of Erdogan, a lecturer at the War College about war gangs when the latter (Erdogan) was mayor of Istanbul in 1994, and the current defense minister, Hulusi Akar, was one of his students.

Retired General Tanry Wardi established his company, “SADAT” on February 28, 2012, after being acquainted with the activities of private American security companies, the most important of which was “Blackwater”, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen, and before that, Africa and Latin America.

Turkish newspapers published more information about the activity of this company, but without any official response to these allegations and the inquiries and questions of members of parliament by the opposition parties, including Unal Cevikoz from the Republican people, and Aton Geray about the “Good Party”, who called on the government to reveal the secrets of the company’s activities and secrets inside Turkey, and in Syria, Libya and other places. The company announced after its founding in 2012 that among its goals is “to provide security services to the armies and security forces in countries friendly to Turkey.”

The head of the “Good Party”, Maral Akshanar, spoke about the secret training camps of the aforementioned company near the cities of Konya and Tokat in central Anatolia, “and appealed to President Erdogan” to reveal the reasons, objectives and activities of these camps. ” The press information talked more than once about the company’s officers training the various Syrian factions in guerrilla warfare and the various arts of war and fighting since its establishment, especially after the failure of the CIA project to train the militants of the moderate Syrian factions in camps for Turkey in the year 2013-2014.

Spokesmen for the opposition parties accused the company of secretly transferring weapons and combat equipment to the aforementioned factions, after they obtained them from various countries, including Serbia and Ukraine. Journalist Mehmet Ali Gular said in the Cumhuriyet newspaper that Adnan Tanri Wardi persuaded President Erdogan during Sochi’s discussions with President Putin in September 2018 to establish Turkish military observation points in the vicinity of Idlib, despite the objection of the military leadership.

Adnan Tanri Wardi rose to prominence after the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, after President Erdogan appointed him as his personal advisor, and it was said that he plays a major role in rearranging the affairs of the military establishment, after Erdogan canceled, by presidential decree, all military colleges and schools to replace them with The National Defense University which is headed now by a professor of Ottoman history close to him, and civilians close to Erdogan head the military colleges of the aforementioned university, which is joined according to criteria that will contribute in the medium and long term to the “Islamization of the military establishment.”

During the past period, opposition newspapers published a lot of news and articles about the company’s activities and the activities of its owner, who was said to have had a direct role in training members of the armed factions in Libya since 2013. He also played an important role in transporting Syrian mercenaries to Libya and supervising their movements there, which is the case also in Karabakh.

Member of Parliament for the Republican People Party, Unal Cevikoz, referred to the confessions of President Erdogan, who last year spoke about “sending various groups to fight in Libya,” and asked: “What are these various groups? What is the aforementioned company’s relationship with it? What is the number of its members? How much the Turkish state pays it? What are its special tasks in Libya or Syria or anywhere else if it exists?

This may explain the call of Aula Jalbka and Andre Hahn, members of parliament for the left party of the German government, to “follow up the activities of the mentioned company and its relations with the Turkish community and Islamic mosques in Germany,” and French President Macron did not hide his concern “about the Turkish secret activity among the Muslim communities in his country and in Europe in general. “

The sudden change in the internal system of the armed forces came at the end of last month, as the intelligence and internal security forces would be able to use whatever they want from the army’s weapons, to increase the suspicions of the opposition, which accused President Erdogan in the past of “working to form armed militias loyal to him directly to be used in emergency situations,” without the opposition parties and forces being able to confront Erdogan’s projects and plans as long as he controls the majority in parliament and controls all state facilities and apparatus, the most important of which are the army, intelligence, security, money, and the judiciary, and 95% of the state and private media.

Erdogan seeks to silence his opponents through financial fines imposed by government authorities on opposition newspapers, while the Supreme Council of Radio and Television decides to close television stations or impose heavy financial fines on them, under the pretext that they broadcast news that contradicts “the national interests of the nation and the Turkish state,” which means objection to his policies.

All of this explains President Erdogan’s attack on the leaders of the opposition parties and all those who oppose him, accusing them all of “terrorism, national treason, and espionage.” In turn, the security and judiciary will prosecute anyone who objects to this statement and charge him with insulting the President of the Republic, which carries a sentence of between one and three years in prison.

The opposition says that what the Turkish president aims to do is prevent his opponents on the right and left from talking about the secrets of Turkish activities, official and unofficial, in the military, security, and intelligence sectors abroad, especially in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, and in its neighboring countries, and now in Azerbaijan and Ukraine.

All the opposition’s questions and inquiries remain unanswered as long as the ambiguity hangs completely over the work and activities of the “SADAT” company. “There is no difference between it and the notorious American” Blackwater “company in Iraq and other Arab and African countries, said Ozkur Ozal, a spokesman for the CHP.

Aiton Girai, a member of parliament for the “Good Party”, expressed “his concern about the activities of the aforementioned secret company in Libya,” saying that it is there to achieve balance with the Russian “Wagner” company that supports General Haftar’s forces.

In all cases, and with the continued ambiguity that hangs over the activities of the aforementioned company, everyone knows that it has a very important role in serving the goals, plans, and projects of the Turkish President, both internally and externally, without anyone being able to go into the details, as long as the issue is related to the national security of Turkey, which only Erdogan defines its concepts and standards!

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“بلاك ووتر”.. بنكهة تركيّة إسلاميّة!

حسني محلي

حسني محلي
المصدر: الميادين نت
18 كانون الثاني 15:48

تبقى جميع أسئلة المعارضة واستفساراتها من دون جواب، ما دام الغموض يخيم بالكامل على نشاط شركة سادات وفعالياتها.

قام الجنرال المتقاعد تانري واردي بتأسيس شركته

تشهد تركيا منذ أيام، وبعيداً من اهتمامات الإعلام العالمي، نقاشاً مثيراً له علاقة بفلسفة الدفاع التي يؤمن بها الرئيس رجب طيب إردوغان، على الأقل بحسب تصوّر المعارضة، فقد أعلنت الشركة الدولية للدفاع والخدمات الاستشارية “سادات” قبل أيام، عبر موقعها الرسمي على الإنترنت، “عن تنظيم دورات خاصة في مجال الاغتيالات والتفجيرات والمداهمات والكمائن والعمليات الخاصة”. وسبق ذلك ندوة عبر الإنترنت شارك فيها بعض المفكّرين من دول إسلامية، تم خلالها مناقشة “ضرورة أن يكون للدول الاسلامية قوة مشتركة حتى ترتقي إلى مستوى الدول العظمى في الدفاع عن نفسها”. 

واكتسب النقاش أهميّة إضافيّة، لأنّ مؤسّس الشركة ورئيس مجلس إدارتها، عدنان تانري واردي، كان حتى كانون الثاني/يناير من العام الماضي مستشاراً شخصياً للرئيس إردوغان، كما كان عضواً في الهيئة العليا لشؤون الدفاع والسياسة الخارجية في القصر الجمهوري.

وقبل الاطّلاع على ماهية هذه الشّركة وأنشطتها المختلفة، لا بدَّ من التعريف بالرجل وبشخصيّته المثيرة، فقد كان قائداً للوحدات الخاصة في رئاسة الأركان قبل أن يطرد من الجيش في العام 1996 بسبب أنشطته الدينيّة، وكان أيضاً، وهو صديق لإردوغان، محاضراً في الكلية الحربية حول حرب العصابات عندما كان الأخير رئيساً لبلدية إسطنبول في العام 1994، وكان وزير الدفاع الحالي خلوصي أكار من تلامذته. 

وقد قام الجنرال المتقاعد تانري واردي بتأسيس شركته “سادات” في 28 شباط/فبراير 2012، بعد أن اطلع على نشاط الشركات الأمنية الأميركية الخاصة، وأهمها “بلاك ووتر”، في العراق وأفغانستان واليمن، وقبلها أفريقيا وأميركا اللاتينية. 

ونشرت الصحف التركية المزيد من المعلومات عن نشاط هذه الشركة، ولكن من دون أن يرد أي مسؤول رسمي على هذه الادعاءات وعلى استفسارات وأسئلة أعضاء البرلمان عن أحزاب المعارضة، ومنهم آونال جاويكوز عن الشعب الجمهوري، وآيتون جيراي عن الحزب “الجيد”، اللذان ناشدا الحكومة للكشف عن خفايا أنشطة الشركة وأسرارها داخل تركيا، وفي سوريا وليبيا وأماكن أخرى. وقد أعلنت الشركة بعد تأسيسها في العام 2012 أنَّ من بين أهدافها “تقديم خدمات أمنية لجيوش وقوى الأمن في الدول الصديقة لتركيا”.

وتحدَّثت رئيسة الحزب “الجيد” مارال أكشانار “عن مخيمات تدريب سرية تابعة للشركة المذكورة قرب مدينتي قونيا وتوكات وسط الأناضول”، وناشدت الرئيس إردوغان “للكشف عن أسباب هذه المخيمات وأهدافها وفعالياتها”. وتحدّثت المعلومات الصّحافية أكثر من مرة عن قيام ضباط الشركة بتدريب عناصر الفصائل السورية المختلفة على حرب العصابات ومختلف فنون الحرب والقتال منذ تأسيسها، وخصوصاً بعد فشل مشروع المخابرات الأميركية في تدريب مسلحي الفصائل السورية المعتدلة في مخيمات خاصة بتركيا في العام 2013-2014. 

واتهم المتحدثون باسم أحزاب المعارضة الشركة بنقل الأسلحة والمعدات القتالية سراً إلى الفصائل المذكورة، بعد أن حصلت عليها من دول مختلفة، ومنها صربيا وأوكرانيا. وقال الصحافي محمد علي جوللار في صحيفة “جمهوريات” إن عدنان تانري واردي هو الذي أقنع الرئيس إردوغان خلال مناقشات سوتشي مع الرئيس بوتين في أيلول/سبتمبر 2018، بإنشاء نقاط المراقبة العسكرية التركية في جوار إدلب، على الرغم من اعتراض القيادات العسكرية على ذلك. 

وسطع نجم عدنان تانري واردي بعد محاولة الانقلاب الفاشلة في 15 تموز/يوليو 2016، بعد أن عيَّنه الرئيس إردوغان مستشاراً شخصياً له، وقيل إنّه يؤدي دوراً رئيسياً في إعادة ترتيب أمور المؤسسة العسكرية، بعد أن ألغى إردوغان بمرسوم رئاسي كل الكليات والمدارس العسكرية، لتحلّ محلها جامعة الدفاع الوطني، ويترأسها الآن بروفيسور في التاريخ العثماني مقرب منه، كما يترأس مدنيون مقربون منه الكليات العسكرية التابعة للجامعة المذكورة التي يتم الانضمام إليها وفق معايير ستساهم على المدى المتوسط والبعيد في “أسلمة المؤسسة العسكرية”. 

ونشرت صحف المعارضة خلال الفترة الماضية الكثير من الأخبار والمقالات عن نشاط الشركة وفعاليات صاحبها، الذي قيل إنّ له دوراً مباشراً في تدريب عناصر الفصائل المسلحة في ليبيا منذ العام 2013. كما أدى دوراً مهماً في نقل المرتزقة السوريين إلى ليبيا والإشراف على تحركاتهم فيها، وهو الحال أيضاً في كاراباخ. 

وأشار عضو البرلمان عن الشعب الجمهوري آونال جاويكوز إلى اعترافات الرئيس إردوغان الذي تحدث العام الماضي عن “إرسال مجموعات متنوعة للقتال في ليبيا”، وتساءل: “يا ترى، ما هي هذه المجموعات المتنوعة؟ وما علاقة الشركة المذكورة بها؟ وما هو عدد عناصرها؟ وكم تدفع الدولة التركية لها؟ وما هي مهماتها الخاصة في ليبيا أو سوريا أو أي مكان آخر إن كان موجوداً؟”.

وقد يفسر ذلك دعوة كلّ من آوللا جالبكا وأندريه هان، عضوي البرلمان عن حزب اليسار الحكومة الألمانية، “لمتابعة نشاط الشركة المذكورة وعلاقاتها بالجالية التركية والجوامع الإسلامية الموجودة في ألمانيا”، كما لم يخفِ الرئيس الفرنسي ماكرون قلقه “من النشاط السري التركي بين الجاليات الإسلامية في بلاده وأوروبا عموماً”.

وجاء التغيير المفاجئ في النظام الداخلي للقوات المسلّحة نهاية الشهر الماضي، إذ سيتسنى للمخابرات وقوى الأمن الداخلي استخدام ما تشاء من أسلحة الجيش، ليزيد من شكوك المعارضة التي اتهمت الرئيس إردوغان سابقاً “بالعمل على تشكيل ميليشيات مسلحة موالية له مباشرة لاستخدامها في الحالات الطارئة”، من دون أن يتسنى لأحزاب وقوى المعارضة أن تتصدى لمشاريع إردوغان ومخططاته ما دام يملك الأغلبية في البرلمان ويسيطر على جميع مرافق الدولة وأجهزتها، وأهمها الجيش والمخابرات والأمن والمال والقضاء، و95% من وسائل الإعلام الحكومي والخاصّ.

ويسعى إردوغان لإسكات معارضيه من خلال الغرامات المالية التي تفرضها السلطات الحكومية على صحف المعارضة، في الوقت الذي يقرر المجلس الأعلى للإذاعة والتلفزيون إغلاق محطات التلفزيون أو فرض غرامات مالية كبيرة عليها، بحجة أنها تبث أخباراً تتناقض مع “المصالح الوطنية والقومية للأمة والدولة التركية”، وهو ما يعني الاعتراض على سياساته.

 ويفسر كل ذلك هجوم الرئيس إردوغان على قيادات أحزاب المعارضة وكل من يعارضه، واتهامهم جميعاً “بالإرهاب والخيانة الوطنية والعمالة والتجسس”. بدوره، يلاحق الأمن والقضاء كل من يعترض على هذا الكلام، ويوجه له تهمة الإساءة إلى رئيس الجمهورية، التي تتراوح عقوبتها بين عام و3 أعوام في السجن.

وتقول المعارضة إن ما يهدف إليه الرئيس التركي هو منع معارضيه في اليمين واليسار من الحديث عن أسرار الأنشطة التركية، الرسمية منها وغير الرسمية، عسكرياً وأمنياً واستخباراتياً في الخارج، وبشكل خاص في سوريا وليبيا والعراق والصومال والدول المجاورة لها، والآن في أذربيجان وأوكرانيا. 

وتبقى جميع أسئلة المعارضة واستفساراتها من دون جواب، ما دام الغموض يخيم بالكامل على نشاط شركة “سادات” وفعالياتها. وقد قال آوزكور آوزال، المتحدث باسم حزب الشعب الجمهوري، “أن لا فرق بينها وبين شركة “بلاك ووتر” الأميركية السيئة الصيت في العراق ودول عربية وأفريقية أخرى”.

وعبّر آيتون جيراي، عضو البرلمان عن الحزب “الجيد”، “عن قلقه من فعاليات الشركة المذكورة السرية في ليبيا”، وقال عنها “إنها تتواجد هناك لتحقيق التوازن مع شركة “واغنر” الروسية التي تدعم قوات الجنرال حفتر”.

وفي جميع الحالات، ومع استمرار الغموض الذي يخيم على فعاليات الشركة المذكورة، يعرف الجميع أنَّ لها دوراً مهماً جداً في خدمة أهداف الرئيس التركي ومخططاته ومشاريعه على الصعيدين الداخلي والخارجي، من دون أن يتسنى لأحد الدخول في التفاصيل، ما دام الموضوع له علاقة بالأمن الوطني والقومي لتركيا، ولا يحدد أحد مفاهيمه ومعاييره إلا  إردوغان وحده!

Erdogan and Libya… Will the Ottoman Dream End?

ARABI SOURI 

Erdogan the Ottoman Caliph Wannabe - Syria Libya Yemen Africa Azerbaijan

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

The last week of last year witnessed interesting developments in the Libyan file, and it seems that it will become more hot and interesting during the next few days and weeks; after the fiery statements made by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar calling for the “expulsion of the Turkish occupier”, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not delay in responding by sending the Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar and the commanders of the armed forces to Tripoli, in a new attempt from him to flex the muscles, which he relatively failed in after his “strategic ally” Fayez al-Sarraj refused to receive the delegation that met the pro-Ankara figures led by the Minister of Interior, Fathi Bash Agha, who has Ottoman origins, in the midst of information that started talking about differences, splits and conflicts between the forces, factions, and armed groups that support the government Al-Wefaq, some of which are loyal to Turkey, which the Misrata factions attach special importance to, considering that their militants are a remnant of Ottoman rule, according to President Erdogan’s classification.

Erdogan had talked about a million Libyans of successive Ottoman origins, since Sultan ‘Suleiman the Magnificent’ responded to the request for help from the Libyans to protect them from the attacks of the Knights of Malta and Rhodes in the year 1553, and this Ottoman rule continued until 1911 when Italy occupied Tripoli.

The press information also talks about an important role for Abdul Hakim Belhadj, who lives in Turkey, and who owns the “Wings” aviation company, which played an important role in the transfer of Syrian mercenaries to the Mitiga base near Tripoli. Belhadj, who fought alongside bin Laden, is considered one of the most important leaders of the armed factions in the relationship between Ankara and the rest of the Libyan groups that helped it to establish two air bases in Mitiga and Al-Watiyah, and another navy base west of Misrata.

The Turkish officers are training the Libyans in these bases on various types of weapons, including the use of drones and heavy guns, which explains the words of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said during his press conference with Lavrov in Sochi on December 29: ‘Haftar or any other country has no right to ask Turkey to leave the Libyan territories and stop its support for the legitimate government, Turkey will not leave,’ which is the main topic in the discussions of the Libyan parties under the auspices of the United Nations, and had previously agreed to hold elections on December 24, That all foreign forces and mercenaries be expelled from Libya until that date.

Everyone knows that this talk specifically targets Turkey, which is the only country that has officially sent military forces to Libya, and it is the only country that, with President Erdogan’s admission, transferred thousands of Syrian mercenaries to Libya.

And the entry of Egypt on the line of its crisis came to embarrass President Erdogan. The information expects that he will seek to host the Speaker of the Libyan Parliament, Aguila Saleh, in Istanbul, in response to Cairo’s efforts in dialogue with the Libyan parties in Tripoli, which was visited by an Egyptian military, intelligence, and political delegation a day after the visit of Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.

The Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s call to his Libyan counterpart, Muhammad al-Sayala, and after that al-Sayala’s visit to Moscow and his meeting with Minister Lavrov, came amid information that talks about a joint Russian-Egyptian move to bring together Sarraj and Haftar at a summit that settles all matters on the road to final reconciliation.

This may mean ending the Turkish military role in Libya, in which Paris also seeks to play an important role in it, and at all levels, and everyone knows that this role was and will remain against the calculations of Ankara, which is facing many difficulties and problems in its relations with the European Union, and the main reason for this is the President Emmanuel Macron solidarity with Greece and Cyprus.

With Macron remaining in power in the next May elections, he will continue to create problems for Erdogan’s Turkey, and the latter will then find himself in an unenviable position, with possible pressure from President Biden, in the absence of his “traditional friend”, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will give up her position in this coming September.

All these rapid and successive developments did not prevent Erdogan from continuing to implement his agenda in Libya, in which he sees his important arena to challenge his regional and international enemies, especially Cairo and Paris, which he hopes will return to its normal relations with Ankara in the event that Macron loses in the next elections.

Erdogan did not neglect the appointment of his new ambassador in Paris after he has found the right person for that, a former friend of Macron at the university. The information talks about the Turkish president’s desire to achieve a similar breakthrough in the relationship with Cairo, which Minister Cavusoglu spoke a few days ago about “open intelligence channels with it, as is the case with Tel Aviv,” and perhaps to face all future possibilities.

In all cases, whatever the possible results of the Libyan reconciliation efforts, which information of Ankara’s attempts to obstruct it, it has become clear that Erdogan will mobilize all his Libyan, regional and international capabilities to stay in Libya, for many reasons, the most important of which are psychological, and because he will not accept defeat easily.

Erdogan also does not want his efforts to go to waste, and he is the one who planned to obtain a share in Libyan oil and gas on land and in sea, and also planned to send Turkish companies to Libya, to contribute to the reconstruction of what the war has destroyed, which will bring Turkey a large income that will help it overcome its difficult financial crisis.

The wager on the ideological side that he attaches to special importance in all of his calculations and movements since the so-called “Arab Spring” remains. Without this aspect, Erdogan will not remain the leader of all Islamists in the world, and he will lose his most important weapon in addressing his supporters and followers at home, who are the ones he accustomed to his Ottoman national, religious and historical statements, and he succeeded in convincing them that the whole world is jealous of Turkey and envies it for its victories and feared its greatness!

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إردوغان وليبيا.. هل ينتهي الحلم العثماني؟

إردوغان تحدث عن وجود مليون ليبي من أصول عثمانية في ليبيا.
إردوغان تحدث عن وجود مليون ليبي من أصول عثمانية في ليبيا.
حسني محلي
باحث علاقات دولية ومختصص بالشأن التركي

حسني محلي 

المصدر: الميادين نت

يجري تداول معلومات عن تحرك روسي- مصري مشترك لجمع السراج وحفتر في قمة تحسم كل الأمور على طريق المصالحة النهائية، وقد يعني ذلك إنهاء الدور التركي العسكري في ليبيا.

شهد الأسبوع الأخير من العام الماضي تطورات مثيرة على صعيد الملف الليبي، ويبدو أنه سيزداد سخونة وإثارة خلال الأيام والأسابيع القليلة القادمة، فبعد تصريحات نارية أطلقها المشير خليفة حفتر، ودعا فيها إلى “طرد المحتل التركي”، لم يتأخر الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان في الرد على ذلك بإرسال وزير الدفاع خلوصي آكار وقادة القوات المسلحة إلى طرابلس، في محاولة جديدة منه لعرض العضلات، وهو ما فشل فيه نسبياً بعد أن رفض “حليفه الاستراتيجي” فايز السراج استقبال الوفد الذي التقى الشخصيات الموالية لأنقرة، وفي مقدمتها وزير الداخلية فتحي باش آغا ذو الأصول العثمانية، وسط المعلومات التي بدأت تتحدث عن خلافات وانشقاقات وصراعات بين القوى والفصائل والمجموعات المسلحة التي تدعم حكومة الوفاق، وبعضها موالٍ لتركيا التي تولي فصائل مصراتة أهمية خاصّة، باعتبار أن مسلحيها من بقايا الحكم العثماني، وفق تصنيف الرئيس إردوغان. 

وكان إردوغان قد تحدث عن مليون ليبي من أصول عثمانية متتالية، منذ أن لبى السلطان سليمان القانوني طلب النجدة من الليبيين لحمايتهم من هجمات فرسان مالطا ورودوس في العام 1553، واستمر هذا الحكم العثماني حتى العام 1911، عندما احتلت إيطاليا طرابلس.

وتتحدث المعلومات الصحافية أيضاً عن دور مهم لعبد الحكيم بلحاج المقيم في تركيا، والذي يملك شركة “الأجنحة” للطيران، التي أدت دوراً مهماً في عملية نقل المرتزقة السوريين إلى قاعدة معيتيقة قرب طرابلس. كما أن بلحاج الذي قاتل إلى جانب بن لادن يعدّ من أهم قيادات الفصائل المسلّحة في العلاقة بين أنقرة وباقي المجموعات الليبية التي ساعدتها لإنشاء قاعدتين جويتين في معيتيقة والوطية، وأخرى بحرية غرب مصراتة.

ويقوم الضباط الأتراك بتدريب الليبيين في هذه القواعد على مختلف أنواع الأسلحة، بما فيها استخدام الطائرات المسيرة والمدافع الثقيلة، وهو ما يفسر كلام وزير الخارجية التركي مولود جاويش أوغلو، الذي قال خلال مؤتمره الصحافي مع لافروف في سوتشي بتاريخ 29 كانون الأول/ديسمبر المنصرم: “لا يحق لحفتر أو أي دولة أخرى أن تطلب من تركيا مغادرة الأراضي الليبية ووقف دعمها للحكومة الشرعية، تركيا لن تغادر”، وهو الموضوع الأساسي في مجمل مباحثات الأطراف الليبية برعاية أممية، وسبق أن اتفقت على إجراء الانتخابات في 24 كانون الأول/ديسمبر القادم، على أن يتم إخراج كل القوات الأجنبية والمرتزقة من ليبيا حتى ذلك التاريخ.

ويعرف الجميع أن هذا الحديث يستهدف تركيا تحديداً، وهي الدولة الوحيدة التي أرسلت رسمياً قوات عسكرية إلى ليبيا، وهي الوحيدة التي قامت باعتراف الرئيس إردوغان بنقل الآلاف من المرتزقة السوريين إلى ليبيا.

وجاء دخول مصر على خط أزمتها ليحرج الرئيس إردوغان. وتتوقع المعلومات أن يسعى إلى استضافة رئيس البرلمان الليبي عقيلة صالح في إسطنبول، كرد على مساعي القاهرة في الحوار مع الأطراف الليبية في طرابلس التي زارها وفد عسكري واستخباراتي وسياسي مصري بعد يوم من زيارة وزير الدفاع التركي خلوصي آكار. 

وجاء اتصال وزير الخارجية المصري سامح شكري بنظيره الليبي محمد السيالة، ومن بعده زيارة السيالة إلى موسكو ولقائه الوزير لافروف، وسط المعلومات التي تتحدَّث عن تحرك روسي – مصري مشترك لجمع السراج وحفتر في قمة تحسم كل الأمور على طريق المصالحة النهائية. 

وقد يعني ذلك إنهاء الدور التركي العسكري في ليبيا التي تسعى باريس أيضاً لأداء دور مهم فيها، وعلى جميع الأصعدة، ويعرف الجميع أنَّ هذا الدور كان وسيبقى ضد حسابات أنقرة التي تواجه الكثير من المصاعب والمشاكل في علاقاتها مع الاتحاد الأوروبي، والسبب الرئيسي في ذلك هو الرئيس إيمانويل ماكرون المتضامن مع اليونان وقبرص.

وببقاء ماكرون في السلطة في انتخابات أيار/مايو القادم، سوف يستمر في خلق المشاكل لتركيا إردوغان، وسيجد الأخير نفسه حينها في وضع لا يحسد عليه، مع الضغوط المحتملة من الرئيس بايدن، بغياب “صديقته التقليدية” المستشارة الألمانية أنجيلا ميركل التي ستتخلّى عن منصبها في أيلول/سبتمبر القادم. 

ولم تمنع كلّ هذه التطورات السريعة والمتلاحقة إردوغان من الاستمرار في تطبيق أجندته في ليبيا، التي يرى فيها ساحته المهمة لتحدي أعدائه الإقليميين والدوليين، وبشكل خاص القاهرة وباريس، التي يتمنى لها أن تعود إلى علاقاتها الطبيعية مع أنقرة في حال خسارة ماكرون في الانتخابات القادمة.

ولم يهمل إردوغان تعيين سفير جديد له في باريس، بعد أن وجد الشخص المناسب لذلك، وهو صديق سابق لماكرون في الجامعة. وتتحدث المعلومات عن رغبة الرئيس التركي في تحقيق انفراج مماثل في العلاقة مع القاهرة، التي تحدَّث الوزير جاويش أوغلو قبل أيام عن “قنوات استخباراتية مفتوحة معها، حالها حال تل أبيب”، وربما لمواجهة كل الاحتمالات المستقبلية.

وفي جميع الحالات، وأياً كانت النتائج المحتملة لمساعي المصالحة الليبية، والتي تتحدَّث المعلومات عن محاولات أنقرة لعرقلتها، فقد بات واضحاً أن إردوغان سيستنفر كل إمكانياته ليبياً وإقليمياً ودولياً للبقاء في ليبيا، لأسباب عديدة، أهمها نفسية، ولأنه لن يتقبل الهزيمة بسهولة.

كما لا يريد إردوغان لأتعابه أن تذهب هباء منثوراً، وهو الذي خطط للحصول على حصة ما في النفط والغاز الليبي براً وبحراً، كما خطط لإرسال الشركات التركية إلى ليبيا، لتساهم في إعادة إعمار ما دمرته الحرب، وهو ما سيحقق لتركيا دخلاً كبيراً يساعدها على تجاوز أزمتها المالية الصعبة. 

ويبقى الرهان على الجانب العقائدي الذي يوليه أهمية خاصة في مجمل حساباته وتحركاته منذ ما يسمى بـ”الربيع العربي”. ومن دون هذا الجانب، لن يبقى إردوغان زعيماً لجميع الإسلاميين في العالم، كما سيخسر سلاحه الأهم في مخاطبة أنصاره وأتباعه في الداخل، وهم الذين عوَّدهم على مقولاته القومية والدينية والتاريخية العثمانية، ونجح في إقناعهم بأن العالم أجمع يغار من تركيا ويحسدها على انتصاراتها ويهاب من عظمتها!

Lebanon’s Collapse Is Like the Titanic’s Sinking – French FM

Lebanon’s Collapse Is Like the Titanic’s Sinking – French FM

By Staff, Agencies

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian likened Lebanon’s political and economic collapse to the sinking of the Titanic, only without the music.

“Lebanon is the Titanic without the orchestra,” Le Drian told the daily Le Figaro in an interview published on Sunday. “The Lebanese are in complete denial as they sink, and there isn’t even the music.”

Le Drian’s remarks set a pessimistic tone a little over a week before French President Emmanuel Macron makes his third visit to Beirut since a massive port blast destroyed swathes of the city and killed 200 people in August.

Macron is losing patience with Lebanon’s politicians as rival politicians mired in turf battles stand in the way of sweeping reforms that donors say are imperative for badly-needed financial aid to be released.

It is believed the Titanic’s orchestra kept playing for as long as it could as the liner went down in the Atlantic Ocean in 1912, trying to help keep passengers calm amid impending doom. All the musicians perished.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the 28th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, December 10, 2020

Source

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the 28th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, December 10, 2020
File Photo

11 December 202000:22

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the 28th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, December 10, 2020

Colleagues, friends,

Fyodor Lukyanov spoke about the role of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy. Who would have thought at the time when the Council was created, and I was invited to join in as a co-founder, that the Council would live to this day. The experience gained over the decades of its functioning is instrumental in our work and makes it possible to bounce ideas off the expert community, which is deeply versed in international matters and is keenly interested in them. This is important.

This year was truly challenging and pivotal. Humanity was unprepared for the differences and mixed trends that had been piling up on the agenda over years and exacerbated confusion in international affairs. The habitual way of life of hundreds of millions of people and states, as well as ordinary citizens, has been upended, many sectors of the economy found themselves on the verge of collapse, business activity has significantly decreased, global cooperation chains were disrupted and the unemployment rates went up. Closed borders abruptly reduced the chances for maintaining multifaceted contacts between the countries and the people.

The scale and inertia of the events that we are witnessing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic make it impossible to say when life will get back to normal. I hope Mr Lukyanov was right when he confidently stated, albeit with reservations, that we will be able to meet in person in the spring. So far, humanity and its best representatives in the person of healthcare professionals are just trying to understand where we are and when this might end. Many people are saying that this will never end, and we will have to live with it just like the annual flu, but with much more severe consequences. One of the key lessons of the pandemic is that no one can secure themselves against these cross-border threats.

The pandemic affected literally everyone. Clearly, this kind of global cataclysm can only be overcome by uniting and rising above fleeting differences. President Putin has repeatedly stated this firm position adopted by Russia. Unfortunately, a number of countries, primarily the United States and its allies, are trying to take advantage of this situation in their geopolitical interests and ignore the needs that are common to humanity.

The term “common to humanity” does not at all mean an average, consensus-based or accommodating understanding of how the inter-civilisational diversity should be respected. This manifests itself in way too many areas of modern international life, including the interpretation of multilateralism energetically promoted and propagated by our Western colleagues. This is also happening in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, despite the fact that people in America and Europe are suffering from COVID-19 as badly as people in other countries.

The need for conducting a mutually respectful dialogue and rejecting artificially created confrontational schemes is nowhere to be seen. Just think of the indiscriminate accusations against China regarding the spread of the disease. There was an attempt to blame the PRC for everything that happened. This undermined the efforts to achieve unity, including of the research capacities, in order to come up with effective responses. In addition to healthcare aspects, we must take a closer look at the international bodies in charge of the health and well-being of the people. The WHO-related developments are quite telling in his regard. Ideas are being put forward to create some non-governmental institutions mandated to determine the international community’s policy. This is a clear attempt to sideline the World Health Organisation. These developments are reminiscent of neo-colonial approaches and habits and show the attempts to restrain the formation of new global centres and to punish those who pursue an independent foreign policy. This can also be seen in the “vaccine race.” We are well aware of attempts to oppose the new concept of the so-called rules-based international order to everything that has been created after establishing the UN and forming a large block of universal international legal instruments.

Russia believes it is imperative to look for ways to unite countries and governments, to look for a constructive agenda relying on the principles of collegiality and equality, which should contribute to de-escalating international tensions and ensuring the predictability of global processes. Later, we will discuss the initiatives that Russia has been promoting to this end. A CSTO summit and a Collective Security Council meeting took place on December 2. Among other decisions, the participants adopted a statement by the heads of state on forming a just and sustainable international order. Among other initiatives, this document proposes setting up a meeting of authorised representatives of the CSTO, the CIS, the SCO, the OSCE, NATO and the EU and seeing if these organisations can sit down and form a common agenda, jointly identify problems and, ideally, outline ways to overcome them. This is not something radically revolutionary. In 1999, the Platform for Co-operative Security was adopted at the OSCE Summit in Istanbul. It proclaimed the unification of the efforts of the OSCE and other sub-regional organisations in the Euro-Atlantic space. Some time ago, before the pandemic, we told our Western partners that it would be nice to take advantage of that consensus and try to build bridges between these organisations, instead of watching them build up confrontational potential, but our Western colleagues chose to step aside. Cooperative security and engagement of the bodies created in the post-Soviet space were important in the 1990s (in this case, in 1999), when the West still hoped that we would follow the path charted by the winners of the Cold War. Now, we have officially submitted a proposal on behalf of the CSTO heads of state. Let’s see how the West will respond to it.

Our goal is clear. We seek stability, fair opportunities for all states, including, of course, Russia. Gunboat diplomacy or democratic or any other sort of messianism is hardly an option if we want to accomplish this. I mentioned the rules which the West wants to base the international order on. There’s an “effective multilateralism” initiative which is openly opposed to multilateralism within the UN. There’s a tendency to interpret it as the need to return to Euro-Atlantic solidarity without exemptions. We are seeing this. I believe that more positive and sustainable results can be achieved through joining efforts based on the observance of the norms and principles of the UN Charter. We are upholding this consistently. President Putin’s initiative to hold a summit of the UN Security Council’s permanent members is part of our policy. It is imperative that they realise their responsibility under the UN Charter and act upon this responsibility. We must do our best to defuse this tension acting together. Heads of all UN Security Council permanent member states gave their consent. The coronavirus pandemic thwarted our efforts to agree on specific dates. However, we are working on it and agreeing on the concept and the potential outcomes of this summit.

We realise that the UN is not a static structure. It needs reform, including the reform of the UN Security Council. Our position is absolutely clear and consistent. It is necessary to increase the representation of the developing countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa if we want to make this body more representative. Only this approach will add value to reforming the UN Security Council. Everything else is up for discussion, but it is unlikely that an increase in Western representation on the Security Council will add diversity of opinions to this central body, which is in charge of peace and security on the planet. In any case, it is necessary to strive for the broadest possible agreement between the member states, so everything will depend on compromises. We are ready to discuss these compromises based on a balance of interests. In principle, this is the key to what needs to be accomplished if we want to ensure stability and harmony in the world inasmuch as this harmony is possible.

We believe that respect for the cultural and civilisational specifics of the modern world and refusal to impose one development model and values on everyone is an absolutely necessary step if we want to calm down the current situation. We see that this approach is shared by the overwhelming majority of participants in international communication. We disagree with the Western attempts to portray Russia as a country in isolation or a geopolitical loner. The viewpoint of our Western colleagues whereby everyone who disagrees with them is a lonely state probably has the right to exist.

However, we can see how the positions that we share are promoted within BRICS, the SCO, the CSTO and the CIS. The EAEU is actively working to align its plans with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. There is the G20. It has been in existence for quite a while, but was brought to the highest level and its meetings were made regular after the 2008 crisis. At first they met twice a year, then once a year. The G20 is the recognition of the fact that the G7 (and even the G8 in its old format) is not capable of resolving all international problems. The G20 includes the G7, the BRICS countries and a number of other like-minded states. The recognition that the G20 is necessary in order to develop generally acceptable approaches based on the balance of interests is a highly symptomatic trend.

Reviewing peace problems should not be driven by ideology, but rather be approached on the basis of equality. President Putin’s initiative to form a Greater Eurasian Partnership is going in the same vein. The partnership is supposed to unite continental efforts with the participation of the EAEU, the SCO and ASEAN and be open to all countries of our vast continent, including the EU states in the long run. This is a long process, but it is crucial to set this goal.

Russia’s proposals regarding strategic stability, arms control and European security are indicative of our constant readiness to achieve mutual understanding. You are aware of our position on renewing the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty (START), a moratorium on deploying ground-based intermediate and shorter-range missiles and de-escalating tensions along the Russia-NATO contact line. We came up with a proposal to agree on an arrangement that the exercises on both sides are conducted at a distance from the contact line, and also agree on the minimum distances that may not be violated by military aircraft and warships of Russia or NATO.

Conceptually, we came up with a proposal a long time ago (and failed to see any reciprocity on the part of the United States) to confirm, in the statement made by our countries, and perhaps in the Russia-NATO format, the unacceptability of nuclear war. Many of you have probably seen the recent remarks by US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea, where he almost ridiculed our proposal and called on any future US Administration to never agree with the statement on the unacceptability of nuclear war.

We believe that implementing these initiatives or, at least, a professional straight-to-the-point and substantive discussion of the subject, possibly along with other steps, would help improve the overall atmosphere in Russia-West relations.  Dialogue itself on these matters would improve it. But so far these ideas have been hanging in the air.

Leaving behind almost everything that has been achieved so far, including our proposals, Mr Billingslea puts forward confrontational ideas, including sanctions against all buyers of military products from Russia and China. This is a fairly telling philosophy, which, unfortunately, has not met any serious opposition in Washington so far.

If we take a close look at what we have heard from the North Atlantic camp so far, we can come to a conclusion that it has consciously opted for not just a policy of containment, but confrontation. Perhaps this approach underlies its unwillingness to admit that the world must change. We are now witnessing two opposite trends in Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron is strongly promoting the EU’s strategic autonomy. The trend embodied by Germany is based on the assumption that defending Europe without the United States is impossible. We have already asked about whom they want to defend it from, but haven’t received a clear answer yet. Given this, multipolarity, which Yevgeny Primakov foresaw many years ago, has shown its objective nature. In an effort to stop it, they are doing whatever it takes in order to minimise the number of potential poles that have the strength and courage to uphold national interests.

One of Washington’s primary goals is to make the EU lose its strategic independence and return to the fold of Euro-Atlantic unity, where everyone is aware of who pays the piper and calls the tune.

Despite the above, we are open to an equal dialogue. Most importantly, our counterparts must be willing to engage. We will keep the communication channels open until they are. Our proposals and initiatives remain on the negotiating table. They have been reiterated many times. It is enough for our partners to know that they remain valid. However, in order to move ahead, we need our Western colleagues to respond to them.

Keeping open the channels for a dialogue on all matters, we will continue to work on the newly available opportunities in the economy, culture, science and people-to-people contacts. We do not fence ourselves off from this. Those who want to impose their agenda on us and ignore our status of a subject in international affairs must understand that we are not going to either make excuses or seek approval for our actions. Threats, sanctions or attempts to come up with other punishments are absolutely pointless and counterproductive. It is strange that the West has not realised this so far.

We do not need interaction with the West any more than the West needs Russia and what it has to offer. If our Western colleagues prefer to stick to certain rules and concepts that they themselves invented when they talk with each other, this is up to them. They can build a dialogue with other participants in international life, including Russia, solely on the basis of a generally accepted code of conduct. You can call it the rules enshrined in the UN Charter, namely, respect for the sovereign equality of states, the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

We are pursuing our own foreign policy, which has taken shape over the past two decades. It is aimed at ensuring the country’s security and creating the most favourable external environment for achieving our internal development goals. We are aware that the goal of the West is to prevent us from creating this particular external environment that is beneficial for our internal development. Everything that is being done to contain Russia is clearly done to this end. Attempts to destroy external opportunities that can be used to promote Russia’s growth continue unabated, but, in any case, there’s more to the world than the West. In the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we wanted to become part of something, but we now realise that there isn’t much we can become part of. At least, the West is not building anything of its own. Indeed, President Macron has come up with a proposal to conduct an analytical and philosophical dialogue about whether modern capitalism can meet the needs of the people and resolve related problems.

If we take Western development models, we have no place to fit in. The coronavirus, as if everything else wasn’t enough, showed it very convincingly. We need to build something ourselves. This is a fairly ambitious and complex goal, but it calls for immediate action.

CHICKEN KIEV MEETS COLD TURKEY: BLACK SEA AXIS EMERGES?

South Front

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

On the face of it, an alliance between Turkey and Ukraine seems like a rather odd creation, yet one that may surprisingly durable simply because neither country has anywhere else to turn. What practically dooms them to a partnership if not an outright alliance is their unenviable geographic and geopolitical position of occupying the strange “no man’s land” between Russia, NATO, and the Middle East. It is, of course, largely a predicament of their own making. Ukraine, with considerable Western backing and encouragement but nevertheless mostly through efforts of a faction of its own oligarchy, opted out of the Russia-centered network of loose alliances, trade partnerships, and other forms of cooperation that were mutually beneficial to the two in the previous two decades. But that defection was not rewarded by the West in a way the likes of Poroshenko, Yatsenyuk, Avakov, Parubiy, and other architects of the Maidan coup expected. Merely being stridently anti-Russian did not prove enough to warrant a shower of US and European cash, only onerous IMF loans which moreover come with conditions Kiev elites are in no hurry to abide by. EU foreign policy chief Josef Borrel lecturing Kiev that the European Union is not an “ATM machine” delivered that point loud and clear: Kiev is supposed to privatize whatever crown jewels its economy still has (at this point, mainly agricultural land), fight corruption of its own elites and facilitate the corruption of Western elites. Joseph Robinette Biden Junior is hardly the only Western politician with a talentless son in need of a lucrative sinecure. There are entire Western companies eager to participate in the thinly disguised plunder that the privatization of Ukraine’s economy will inevitably turn into. A Kiev court’s recent decision to declare the country’s anti-corruption institutions that were painstakingly stood up with considerable aid and tutelage from Western governments, down to screening appropriately-minded individuals for the job, looks as if it were calculated to send a middle-finger gesture to Borrel in terms even dense EU bureaucratic hacks will comprehend. Pro-EU newspapers like Kiev Post were quick to label this a “death of democracy”, presumably with the intent of interesting EU and NATO in sponsoring yet another Maidan since last one seems not to be delivering the goods. The expected shower of Western weaponry has not materialized, probably because NATO is afraid to give Ukraine so much aid that it will risk a full-blown war with Russia.

Erdogan’s Turkey, by contrast, is in process of de-facto opting out of NATO, though neither Turkey nor the alliance itself want to take the final step of severing ties completely. NATO membership is still beneficial to Turkey. While the procurement of Russian S-400 air defense systems angered NATO and US in particular, resulting in the expulsion of Turkey from the F-35 program and the cancellation of F-35 sale to the country, evidently Ankara hopes that by nominally remaining in the alliance it limits NATO and EU sanctions that would no doubt be far harsher if it were totally out of the alliance. The hope that Turkey, possibly post-Erdogan, will yet see the error of its ways and return to the fold, prevents NATO from adopting harsher stances that would definitely push Ankara away. Yet the drifting apart is unmistakable, and the animosity between Turkey’s leaders and their Western European counterparts is so intense as to beggar belief. While Germany’s Merkel is careful to tip-toe around the issue due to fear of another wave of refugees as well as unrest among the large Turkish diaspora in Germany, France’s Macron seems to have taken a personal affront to Erdogan’s suggestion he might need a mental evaluation and will press the issue of EU sanctions against Turkey at future Union summits.

But from Turkey’s perspective, getting a cold shoulder from the EU is par for the course. Its own migration to the geopolitical gray zone of Eurasia was motivated by EU’s failure to admit Turkey as a member after decades of leading it by the nose and promising neighborhood in some nebulously distant future right after Hell froze over. Like Ukraine, Turkey was not seeking EU membership because of some mythical “shared values”. It, too, saw EU as an ATM machine that would shower Turkey, one of the poorest countries on the continent, with development assistance and moreover allow Turks to freely travel and work throughout the Union. Needless to say, neither of these prospects appealed to pretty much any European country, no matter how close or distant it was geographically. So after decades of leading Turkey by the nose, EU politely put an end to the charade citing problems with Turkey’s democracy. Thus snubbed, Erdogan opted to chart an independent course and appears to be finding a similarly snubbed oligarch clique in Kiev looking for ways the two countries could extract mutual benefit from their isolated status.

There are plenty of those to be had, as limited as Ukraine’s and Turkey’s resources are, compared to such patrons as EU, NATO, US. Faced with isolation and even a potential ban on arms exports, Turkey has a strong incentive to exploit the resources of the Ukrainian defense industry and engage in some export substitution in case vital supplies are no longer available from the West. Canada’s and Austria’s ban on exports of optronics and engines needed for the Bayraktar TB2 combat drones means Ukraine’s ability to provide substitutes would be most welcome. Ukraine, for its part, would not be against deploying a huge attack drone fleet of its own in the hopes of replicating Azerbaijan’s successful offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh on the Donbass, though there Ukraine’s drones would probably run afoul of Novorossiya’s air defenses in the same way Turkish drones were brought to heel over Idlib. Turkey’s Altay main battle tank is likewise little more than an assembly of components imported from other countries, particularly Germany. Since Germany has already placed a ban on export of powerpacks and transmissions for the Altay, Turkey has been casting about for replacements, looking as far as China. Whether Ukraine’s developments in this realm can be adopted to rescue the Altay project remain to be seen. However, the Oplot powerpacks and transmissions can probably be adapted to Altay use, resulting in Turkey realizing its goal of a home-grown MBT. Ultimately, the greater the contribution of Ukrainian defense industry to Turkey’s military modernization, the more freedom of action it would bestow on Turkey and make it less dependent on other foreign sources of military hardware who can exert influence over Turkey simply by withholding future technical support. If the United States were to follow up on the F-35 expulsion with a ban on servicing Turkish F-16s which form the mainstay of its airpower, the result would be crippling of the country’s air combat capabilities that drones cannot compensate for and which would be sorely missed in any confrontation with another comparable power like Greece. Turkey’s efforts to develop an indigenous fighter aircraft would benefit from Ukraine’s technological contributions and its own interest in indigenous aircraft designs. For Ukraine, the relationship would be an opportunity to acquire NATO-compatible weaponry with the caveat that it would have to pay in full for every last drone, either with cash or in kind. Turkey’s economic situation is not so strong as to allow largesse in the form of free military aid to anyone.

Mitigating against the long-term development of what Zelensky referred to as “strategic partnership” with Turkey is the erratic behavior of Erdogan who seeks to dominate any and all partners and tries to see how far he can push before the partners push back. This practice has led to the confrontations in Syria, Libya, and eastern Mediterranean. Ukraine, in contrast to Russia, France, and even Greece, is hardly in a position to push back. The most dangerous aspect of Turkish politics, from Ukraine’s perspective, is the ideology of Pan-Turkism that just might transform Ukraine’s Tatar community into a proxy force for Turkey right inside Ukraine, adding yet another fissure to the already fractured political picture. On the plus side, Erdogan does not appear interested in “combating corruption” in Ukraine, though that does not preclude the possibility Turkey’s military collaboration with Ukraine might not cost Ukraine dearly, though not to the same extent as EU-promoted privatization efforts.

الحريري أبلغ الفرنسيّين أنه سيغادر لبنان إذا لم يتمّ تشكيل حكومة

باريس – نضال حمادة

أبلغ الرئيس المكلف تشكيل الحكومة سعد الحريري الموفد الرئاسي الفرنسي باتريك دويل خلال زيارته الأخيرة إلى بيروت أنه قرّر مغادرة لبنان خلال فترة قريبة في حال لم يتمّ تشكيل حكومة، هذا الكلام لمصادر دبلوماسية فرنسية.

وقالت المصادر إنّ الحريري يشعر بالإحباط نتيجة الأوضاع التي وصلت إليها عملية تشكيل الحكومة، وأضافت أنّ الرئيس المكلف ينتظر خروج دونالد ترامب من البيت الأبيض حتى تتسنّى له معرفة الموقف الأميركي الحقيقي من محمد بن سلمان صاحب الفيتو على الحريري كشخص وعلى تشكيل حكومة يكون ضمنها حزب الله مباشرة أو عبر مقرّبين.

وحول حزب الله نقلت المصادر أنّ مسؤولي الحزب الذين التقوا بالمسؤولين الفرنسيين أبلغوهم أنّ حزب الله مستعدّ لتقديم ما يلزم عليه لتشكيل حكومة، فيما لو قرّر الحريري تخطي الفيتو الأميركي السعودي.

وفي السياق، وعلى وقع نتائج زيارة وزير الخارجية الأميركي الى باريس، تريد فرنسا تمرير ما تبقى من فترة حكم دونالد ترامب بانتظار وصول بايدن وربما تفهّمه للموقف الفرنسي من الأزمة الاقتصادية والسياسية التي يمرّ بها لبنان…

فيديوات متعلقة

تعليق

سعدو يعتبر نفسه بي السنة وسعدو لديه ثلاث جنسيات، هو لبناني وسعودي وفرنسي ولأن لحم كتافو وكتاف اللي ،”خلفو” من السعودية فالجنسية السعودية هي الأهم ،سعدو لا يستطيع أن يغضب ترمب كما فعل باسيل ويعلم ان حزب الله لن يخضع للشروط الامريكية ويعلم ان حكومتة العتيدة لن ترى النور بدون مشاكة الحزب.

وعليه لا بد من الهروب من لبنان ربما لباريس أو سيشل حتي خروج ترمب، ان خرج، من البيت الأسود ودخوا “المخلص” بايدن لمعرفة مصير محمد بن سلطان

أما لبنان وعياله “سنة لبنان” فليذهبوا للجحيم

The Long Goodbye of Social-Democracy

The Long Goodbye of  Social-Democracy

November 17, 2020

by Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

The ongoing process of political degeneration which has been happening in the UK Labour Party is basically part of a deep-going movement which has been taking place in all left-of-centre parties in Europe. In political/ideological terms, they have been swept away by the rampaging neo-liberal globalist forces – circa 1980 onwards and have, like good little boys and girls, trimmed their sails to the globalist agenda. This, straight betrayal has been justified by the usual TINA cliche. The roll-call of the sell-outs has included the SPD (Germany) the PS (France) Pasok/Syriza (Greece) the old ex-communist party of Italy, (now rebranded as the Democratic Party) PSOE (Spain) not forgetting the Democratic Party in the US. This historical betrayal has given the militant right a chance to attack the very real sell-out of the centre-left parties and publications which includes the Guardian, New York Times, Economist, Washington Post, . L’Express, La Figaro, Der Spiegel – the list is extensive.

THE BRITISH LABOUR PARTY

The Guardian newspaper had long been a supporter of the Labour Party but more recently has been the trend-setter in this ‘liberal turn’ if we may call it such. There has taken place an unseemly metamorphosis from centre-left to the Blairite right. Going back to earlier days the Manchester Guardian, as it was then called, steered an honest social-democratic course under the leadership of C.P.Scott famous for his catchphrase, ‘’Comment is free but facts are sacred.’’ was the ultimate statement of values for a free press and continued to under-pin the traditions of good newspapers throughout the western world, (but sadly of course this is no longer the case, not by a long shot).  Looking back, Scott and the then Manchester Guardian resolutely opposed the British war against the Dutch settlers (Boers) in South Africa (1899-1902). For his pains Scott’s home was physically attacked by jingoistic mobs and he required police protection, as did the property of the Manchester Guardian which was also attacked.

That was then, this is now.

The rot in the current Guardian newspaper began with the conversion of what was once a campaigning left-of-centre political publication into a straightforward business journal with a centre-right political orientation; this happened earlier in this century when the Scott Trust was rebranded as the Scott Trust Limited, along with the Guardian Media Group – GMG – both of whom became registered as a commercial company by decamping to the tax haven of the Cayman Islands British Overseas Territory, for tax reasons – i.e. tax avoidance.

THE CORBYN AFFAIR

As for the whole ‘anti-semitic’ brouhaha surrounding ex-leader of the Party, Jeremy Corbyn, and the Labour Party itself, this was engineered from both internal and external sources. It should be understood that anyone who is anyone in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and who entertains political and occupational preferment in the PLP is a member of the ‘Labour Friends of Israel’ – this is mandatory. The same is true of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats. So we have here a situation where an ostensibly sovereign state, the UK, has been penetrated by another sovereign state, Israel which in effect is selecting who and who shall not be members of the Labour Party’s policy and decision-making processes. This blatant process was caught by a mole planted by the Kuwaiti TV Station Al Jazeera and televised under the name of ‘The Lobby’ where the mole in question interviewed a member of the London Israeli embassy – Shai Masot – about the ‘taking down’ of pro-Palestinian politicians and spreading Zionist influence inside independent political groups active in the UK. This TV interview showed Mr Masot – who was blissfully unaware of being televised – discussing with his interlocutor how to cause embarrassment to pro-Palestinian politicians deemed to be detrimental to Israeli interests.

Students and campaigners told a reporter posing as a pro-Israel activist they had been given funding and support from Israel’s embassy in London to counter the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. When asked whether he had ever “built a group”, Mr Masot replied: “Yeah, I did several things like that, yeah…in Israel and here. Nothing I can share but yeah.’’

“It’s good to leave those organisations independent, but we help them actually.”

The UK National Union of Students said it was investigating alleged attempts to influence last year’s leadership election, which saw its first black, Muslim, female president Malia Bouattia voted in.

Following claims that opposing NUS members held “secret meetings” with activists supported by the Israeli embassy, a spokesperson for the union said: “The NUS takes these allegations seriously. We are looking into them and, when we have all the information available, the behaviour of NUS officers will be reviewed, and appropriate action taken.” (1)

This seemed outrageous, but such is the influence of extra-national political configurations in British politics. This was instanced in the manner in which the now ex-leader of the Labour party – Jeremy Corbyn – was subject to a relentless but bogus assault internally from the Blairites, the media and also Britain’s Jewish opponents on the basis of his ongoing support for Palestinian rights. Of course anyone who in Zionist terms is a supporter of Palestinian rights is ipso facto an anti-Semite. On absolutely no evidence Corbyn was suspended from the leadership of the party which was now under the leadership of one (Sir) Keir Starmer QC, who doesn’t seem to have any political views at all, apart from his unconditional support of Israel, which of course befits yet another political carpet bagger on the make. ‘What are my politics?’ What would you like them to be?’

Of course the same scenario also applies to the United States – a fortiori. This latter case of organized Jewish influence both internal and from outside (Israel) is so open, widespread and obvious that it barely needs mentioning. (2) Moreover, socialism in the United States, or even social-democracy, has, never, since the days of Eugene Debs been anything other than a minor curiosity and led by a leadership so venal that it collapses at the first serious challenge. Such was the fate of Bernie Sanders, who managed to capitulate to the DNC powers-that-be not once but twice.

But to return to the Labour Party, this political hollowing-out of what was once a mass and proud reformist party has by now been pretty much neutered and in keeping with centre-left conditions just about everywhere. The list does not make pretty reading. Currently there is no centre-left party, in western Europe at least, worthy of the name, the capitulation seems complete. As follows:

GREECE. THE RISE AND FALL OF SYRIZA

On its accession to power Syriza laid great emphasis on trying to convince their opponents that their proposals were financially sound and of benefit to all in the long-run. This is one of the characteristics of social-democracy. It is an approach based upon ‘the truth’, as they understood it, and rationality of their approach and compared favourably to the mistaken beliefs of their political opponents. What Syriza did not understand, however, was that the social virtues and heritage of social democratic reform was now history, buried deep under the refuse pile of new neoliberal values.

The political imperatives of SYRIZA’s position consisted of an adamantly committed policy to stay in the eurozone and the euro regime; but this was a regime of structural flaws which only benefitted the elites rather than ordinary folk. Concurrent with this the Greek people were consistently indicating in various polls taken that they did not want to leave the eurozone either. Like Syriza they wanted to end austerity and stay in Europe and keep the euro. Neither thus understood that the root of austerity lay in the neoliberal euro regime that they wanted to keep. One would have thought that following the crowd in this instance was a dereliction of duty on the part of the Syriza leadership who should have known better, but it is so much easier to take the easy way out than actually lead.

Syriza wanted a European version of the US 1930’s New Deal, but there was no FDR on the horizon, and, moreover, this was 70 years later, and history was not about to repeat itself.

The upshot of this sad historical nemesis was when Syriza took the road of least resistance. The European base of neoliberalism required the arrangement of goods and services and free movement of labour and capital which had indebted Greece (and other peripheral economies) and ensured some form of perpetual austerity. But this was precisely how the system was designed to work.

‘’Over the course of the third debt restructuring negotiations in 2015, Syriza would at first deny and then resist this reality, then concede in steps as it retreated from its positions and its Thessaloniki programme. In August 2015, it capitulated. Like its political predecessors, New Democracy in 2012, and PASOK in 2010, Syriza would also eventually settle into the ‘caretaker’ role for the neoliberal Troika.’’ (3)

FRANCE – LE PARTI SOCIALISTE – ABJECT FAILURE.

In late 2016, French President Francois Hollande became the first leader of the 5th Republic to announce that he would not seek re-election leaving his Parti Socialiste to find another candidate for the April 2017 presidential election. The five years of Hollande’s presidency had not been kind to the ruling party. Terrorist attacks, a shift to the right on domestic matters, persistent unemployment, internal party divisions, and even an illicit love affair, eroded confidence in Hollande’s government and left the Socialists with little in their playbook that remained popular with voters.

Hollande’s choice for economy minister, Emmanuel Macron, created new problems for the president right from the start. Just 36 when he was appointed in 2014, Macron was a former investment banker at a firm owned by the Rothschild family – an unusual choice for a president who once declared that the world of finance was his “enemy”.

Macron soon angered the Socialist’s left wing with his criticism  of the 35-hour work-week and by calling for the deregulation of the French economy. Socialist deputy Yann Galut spoke for many in his party when he accused Macron of “disowning all the values of the left”. But then what else from an investment banker did the party expect?

The pro-business reforms, known as the “Macron laws”, included allowing stores to remain open  on Sundays and late in the evenings. A more wide-ranging labour code 5, made it easier for firms to hire or fire and to extend employee working hours, soon followed suit. The proposed reforms prompted months of sometimes violent protests  over the summer from students and unions who were angry over diminished labour protections. Yes it was all straight from the neoliberal policy manual. Hollande’s government controversially pushed the bill  through parliament in June 2016 without holding a vote, igniting a new burst of outrage.

Macron was not the only member of Hollande’s cabinet to anger the party’s leftist base. Manuel Valls, 54 – the French Tony Blair – who served as interior minister and then prime minister before resigning to announce his own presidential run, has proved that even a Socialist Party can have a right wing.

As protests against labour reforms spread across France last summer, Valls once again took a hard line, moving to ban further demonstrations in Paris after sporadic outbreaks of violence. It was the first time since the 1960s that union demonstrations had been banned in France and it sparked outrage across the political spectrum, including within the already divided Socialist Party. After a weeklong stand-off, the unions were eventually allowed to hold a protest march via a different route.

Valls has said he wanted to ‘modernise’ the Socialist Party, even suggesting that it rename itself because the term “Socialist” is too “old-fashioned”. He says that a revitalised party could unite all of the country’s “progressive forces” into one movement. Valls’ brand of ‘right-wing Socialism’ (i.e., a neoliberal party) highlighted the quandary the party faced. If Hollande is seen as representing the traditional yet ineffectual left, its more dynamic members now look like the centre-right.

As unemployment continued to hit record highs, Valls infuriated many by saying more needed to be done to encourage the unemployed to get back to work. Macron, for his part, had said that the costly system of unemployment benefits needed to be revised, blaming the unions for deadlocking negotiations.

Statements such as these, coming as record numbers of French citizens struggled with a lack of job opportunities, have heightened resentment among much of the public and divided those within the Socialist party. And they seem more like admonishments that would come from the right-wing Les Républicains party than from the fresh new faces of France’s left. But after the erratic Hollande years, the party now faced the task of reinventing itself as a movement that combines traditional leftist values with a fresh dynamism that is ready to meet the challenges of the future. In short, the PS had to change into a neoliberal outfit. After all – TINA!

Humiliated, unloved, and threatened to be plundered by Macron’s movement, the French socialists stood shivering at a crossroad. Hardly unexpected of course. France was, after all, being corralled into the neoliberal sheep-pen.

France has predictably followed the universal neoliberal economic prescriptions and rewarded with the wholly expected failed outcomes. After growing at an estimated rate of 1.7% in 2018, GDP grew by an abysmal estimated 1.3% in 2019. Minimal growth rates needed to overcome this economic standstill needed to be at least 2% to make any impact on what has become a secular stagnation. This has had political ramifications.

The European elections of May 2019 saw the victory of the National Rally of Marine Le Pen (far right), gathering 23% of the vote, compared to 22% for the Republic in March of Emmanuel Macron. On the international scene, the president intends to strengthen the integration of the euro zone by revitalizing the Franco-German partnership. But Macron’s delusions of grandeur are simply swimming against the stream here with unemployment at 10%, trade figures all negative, private debt to GDP at 227% and Sovereign debt at 98%. Unquestionably France is in a deep structural political/economic crisis.

From Gaullism in 1945 consisting of independence and distrust of the Anglo-Saxon bloc, to the current force feeding of neoliberalism and an unquestioning loyalty to NATO. Mission accomplished? Not quite. And then comes the emergence of the Gilet Jaunes. What next for France?

GERMANY: THE SPD

The oldest, Social Democratic Party in Europe, the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, can be traced back to the 1860s, and for much of the 20th and 21st centuries it has represented the centre-left in German politics, although not the far left politics of the pre-war KPD (Communists) and SAP (Socialist Workers’ Party’ where Willie Brandt was once a member). Nevertheless from 1891 to 1959 the Party at least theoretically espoused Marxism. Of course this all changed in the main due to Cold War but more importantly for the need for political deals and coalition governments which were made the sine qua non for the formation of governments in Germany. At the present time, the SPD is in a fragile coalition government together with the conservative CDU/CSU and the SPD, the Grand Coalition as it is called.

THE EUROPEAN POWER-HOUSE:

In economic terms Germany had always been the economic powerhouse of Europe and possibly even the world. It’s dynamism came from a globally competitive industrial base, pivoting on automobiles, chemicals, and machine tools. Its exports enabled it to command vast surpluses on current account thus providing the wherewithal to lend globally.

Whether this Teutonic pre-eminence was a conscious policy choice on the part of Germany, or merely a policy-drift due to the internal structure of Germany’s post-war policy configuration seems debatable. Germany had certainly bucked the Anglo-American trend of de-industrialisation and financialization which had become de rigueur internationally as a result of the putative ‘efficiency’ of the Anglo-American model. Germany had not deindustrialised, had a smallish stock market compared with other developed states, eschewed as far as possible a system of equity funding and maintained a traditional reliance on bank funding for industry since long term relations were easier to develop among corporations and banks and the internal structure of corporations is not driven by the desire to placate stock markets. Moreover, the German banking system had a multitiered and competitively structured organization which included a raft of smaller and medium sized banks, the Sparkassen, which operated with a local focus. This stood in stark opposition to the oligopolistic banking monoliths of the Atlantic world.

Additionally, there were further reasons why Germany emerged as the EU hegemon. Primarily, Germany did not sacrifice its world class industrial-export sector on the altar of deindustrialisation. But instead adopted and adapted its own variant of financialization while at the same time protected its industrial sector by manipulating its exchange rate to protect exports. The German manufacturing sector is highly productive, export-oriented and has maintained relatively strong union representation in the wage formation process compared to the rest of the private (domestic) sector which has modest productivity and relatively weak unions in comparison with other EU countries.

In the domestic economy, however, Germany was able to restructure (i.e., lower) wage costs and working conditions with the imposition of the Hartz reforms – a set of policies arrayed against German labour which pushed down costs through the implementation of ‘flexible’ labour markets. This gave Germany a competitive first-mover, edge in intra-European trade resulting in an ongoing surplus on its current account. And when one state achieves a (recurring) surplus on current account other states must record a deficit on current account. In this instance this was the southern periphery. If this smacked of neoliberalism –that’s because it was.

In sharp contrast to the southern periphery the eastern periphery of central Europe was not part of the eurozone which means that they were not ensnared in the Iron Cage of EMU and enabled to keep their own currencies. But heavy German investment in this area produced a core-periphery relationship where low-wage, semi-skilled assembly work was farmed out to Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. That is the usual pattern of FDI supply chains. High-end production, including R&D was kept at Home Base.

Additionally, Central European peripheries have come to depend heavily on Germany for technology and markets. If Germany faced a severe recession so would probably be the whole of Central Europe.

Thus, Germany was to become the overseer of an increasingly neo-liberal order precisely at the time when the 2008 blow-out was to cross the Atlantic and usher in a quasi-permanent period of instability for the whole EU project. The main actors in the future development of the EU were the ECB the EC and the IMF, the infamous Troika. The ECB in particular was the paragon of Banking, monetary and fiscal rectitude. This was underlined insofar as it was domiciled in Frankfurt as was the Bundesbank and was heavily influenced in policy terms by this particular institution.

Then came the 2020 derailment. Prior to this, however, growth rates had been zero to miniscule at less than 1% per quarter since 2018. Then came the yo-yo bounce in 2020. Ten Year Bunds Yields were at -0.53 (that’s a minus sign BTW), unemployment was beginning to rise, inflation was at -0.2% which means that it was actually deflation, interest rates were at zero, consumer confidence was at -3.1, retail sales at -2.2%, Sovereign Debt-to-GDP 68%, Private Debt-to-GDP at 154% (but these latter private figures were based upon 2018 statistics).

THE SPD VANISHING TRICK:

And where was the SPD during all this time? It was following the trend of course. The then party leader and Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, defended his counter-reformist ‘Agenda 2010’ and praised Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ as a successful example of ‘modern’ social democracy. At the same time, up and down the country, some 90,000 workers responded to a call by the Trade Union Federation, the DGB, and demonstrated against attempts to dismantle the welfare state. In East Germany, 84% of all steel workers organised in the IG Metall voted in favour of industrial action for the 35-hour week which had been introduced in the West back in the 1990s.

Horrified by high unemployment (4) and fear of recession and even depression, Schroder and his think tanks were doing what they had always accused the previous Helmut Kohl government of doing: they were attacking the unemployed and not unemployment. They claimed that dismantling the welfare state and massive tax reductions were to the benefit of the employers and the rich but in general would open the path towards economic growth and a new jobs miracle. In doing this, they could count on the applause of the bourgeois media and politicians who kept pushing them further and further down that road.

But later developments in 2019 have led to a new inward turn of the SPD which will give the already rapidly changing party system a further push. Both the CDU and SPD have lost dramatically during recent European and regional elections. The winners have been the ‘woke’ Green party and the far-right Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD). The Green party, also led by a new team since January 2018, has been a clear beneficiary of the rise of the urban middle-class and the weakness of the two governing parties. The Green party is now solidly number two in the party system and highly likely to join the next government, either with the CDU or the two parties on the ‘left’, the SPD left centrist and Der Linke the old East German Communist Party.

CONCLUSION

Throughout Europe the Social-Democratic tradition has been in crisis since the 1980s onwards and is heading rapidly toward marginalization and oblivion. Having prostrated itself before the deities of neo-liberalism and globalization, and swallowed the holy dogmas whole there seems no way back. And if anything the situation in the southern and eastern peripheries are even more dire than those in Western Europe. The political structures in Europe now range from outright fascist, right and centre right, and an allegedly centre-left that acts like a centre-right, a Guardian-style liberal woke party. That’s it folks. Europe seems to be heading to a turbulent and ugly future

NOTES

(1) The Lobby – Al Jazeera – The Independent newspaper – London 12-January-2017

(2) The Israel Lobby – John J Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt – passim.

(3) Looting Greece: A New Financial Imperialism Emerges – Jack Rasmus – passim.

(4) The story of the German jobs miracle is misleading. It is true that the number of people in employment increased by more than 10 percent between 2003 and the end of 2016 from 39 to 43 million. But this was achieved mainly by replacing full-time jobs by part-time and mini jobs. In fact, actual working time did not increase at all up to 2010; the work was just spread over more people.” And also since the economic climate improved in 2011, the volume of work has been growing much more slowly than employment and is still below the levels of the early 1990s. And that is why in 2016, 4.8 million people in Germany were living entirely from mini jobs. A further 1.5 million are working against their will in part-time jobs. And then there are around 1 million contract workers and more than 2 million self-employed without employees, and most of them do not have enough work.

The “industrial reserve army“ of the unemployed, as Karl Marx once called them, “was reduced in size at the price of a growth in the reserve army of the under-employed in part-time work and the over-employed who have to do several jobs to get by.”

If US sanctions on Lebanon are about corruption, Saad Hariri should be top of list

Protesters denounce politician Gebran Bassil in downtown Beirut on 8 August (AFP)

13 November 2020 10:55 UTC |

Source

Marco Carnelos

Marco Carnelos is a former Italian diplomat. He has been assigned to Somalia, Australia and the United Nations. He has served in the foreign policy staff of three Italian prime ministers between 1995 and 2011. More recently he has been Middle East Peace Process Coordinator Special Envoy for Syria for the Italian government and, until November 2017, ambassador of Italy to Iraq.

If the US was truly concerned about corruption in Lebanon, it should have targeted the discredited prime minister

المدن - حيرة سعد الحريري: "أبو السنّة" أم "إبن التسوية"؟

The US Treasury recently sanctioned Gebran Bassil, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement party and member of parliament, for his role in corruption in Lebanon, using the Magnitsky Act. This provision is deployed when human rights abuses and corruption reach such scope and gravity that they threaten the stability of international political and economic system. 

Unfortunately, as frequently occurs with the US government’s decisions, even the application of this provision is not immune to double standards. In the case of Lebanon, for Washington, corruption is not a problem – provided that you are aligned with US policies. 

In this case, however, we are facing a real mystery. According to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Bassil “has helped to erode the foundation of an effective government that serves the Lebanese people”. He noted that this decision “further demonstrates that the United States supports the Lebanese people in their continued calls for reform and accountability”.

Economic mismanagement 

The overall US analysis behind this decision is essentially correct. Lebanon has long suffered from endemic corruption and economic mismanagement by its historical power brokers, who have advanced their own interests at the expense of the Lebanese people. Since October 2019, widespread protests with participation from a broad segment of Lebanese society have called for political, social and economic reforms. 

All Lebanese governments have failed to curb inflation and mounting debt, as well as to improve the country’s failing infrastructure and to ensure basic services. Socioeconomic conditions for ordinary Lebanese people have continued to deteriorate, while political leaders remain insulated from the crisis. 


The US decision remains inexplicable, to say the least. It did not target one of the top people responsible for Lebanon’s chaos

The country is experiencing an energy crisis that leaves people without electricity for hours or even days at a time, and government officials appear unable to fix the problem. The political dysfunction was exemplified by the catastrophic explosion at the Beirut port on 4 August, which many saw as a further example of the negligence and corruption that victimises Lebanese citizens.

Financially, the country has already defaulted, thanks to a Ponzi scheme run for years by its central bank, and ordinary savers have been forced to settle for highly limited access to their bank deposits, bringing many to the brink of starvation.

Yet, while long overdue, the US decision remains inexplicable, to say the least. It did not target one of the top people responsible for Lebanon’s chaos: fourth-time Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who once again returned to power after he was ousted by a popular revolt in October 2019. As though nothing had occurred in recent decades, when Hariri repeatedly served as premier with zero results, he has been supported to assume the role again by the usual power brokers.  

Christian parties marginalised

Bassil, the Christian leader who aspires to succeed his father-in-law, Michel Aoun, as the country’s next president, has this time refused to support Hariri’s comeback to power, which had been pushed by some Sunni and Shia parties, including Hezbollah. The second-most important Christian party, the Lebanese Forces, took a similar decision. 

It is probably the first time, then, that a Cabinet has been formed in Lebanon without the participation of the main Christian parties – an unprecedented development that took place as major world powers watched idly, especially France, which since the 4 August explosion had taken the lead in attempts to save the country from complete collapse. 

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in September 2019 (AFP)
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in September 2019 (AFP)

After the blast, French President Emmanuel Macron visited Beirut twice. He made specific, sound proposals and asked for clear commitments on reforms, but his appeals went unheeded by the traditional Lebanese power brokers. 

While France has always been proud of its strict secular approach to politics, up to the point of creating deep and probably avoidable fissures  with its Muslim minority, it has also attributed to itself the historical role of protector of the Christian minorities in the Levant. 

It is thus disconcerting how Macron has tolerated the marginalisation of Christian parties in the Lebanese decision-making process, facilitating Hariri’s disgraceful comeback. How is it possible that one of the main enablers of Lebanon’s chaos has again been assigned to rule and reform the country, amid a deafening silence from Paris?

A final disappointment

The US has maintained a similarly questionable position. After mobilising against the country’s endemic corruption and Hezbollah, the Trump administration has not objected to the fact that Hezbollah’s main power-sharing partner in recent decades, Hariri, is again in charge with the support of this same movement – which, incidentally, figures prominently in the US terrorism list, as Washington pushes its European allies to follow suit with a terrorism designation.Beirut explosion: A weapon of mass corruptionRead More »

If the targeting of Bassil really aims to show that the US “supports the Lebanese people in their continued calls for reform and accountability”, then why – considering his abysmal record – has Hariri not been sanctioned as well? If the primary US concern is the struggle against corruption, why it has decided, again, to go after a relatively small fish like Bassil instead of the bigger fish, such as Hariri, Speaker Nabih Berri or veteran politician Walid Jumblatt? 

Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, Speaker Nabih Berri and MP Walid Jumblatt  during their meeting in Beirut on Sunday evening - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English  Archive

Even on its way out, the Trump administration never misses an opportunity to surprise. The sad news is that this time, in serving one of its last disappointments, it is in good company with the French presidency.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

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