Who Really Runs the Middle East?

September 25, 2021

Who Really Runs the Middle East?

By Cynthia Chung for the Saker Blog

Afghanistan is on many people’s minds lately, though the sentiment is rather mixed. Some think of it as a cause for celebration, others for deep concern, and then there are those who think it an utter disaster that justifies foreign re-entry.

Most of the western concern arises out of 9/11 and the Taliban’s supposed connection to this through Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, however, as Scott Ritter (who was the lead analyst for the 7th Marine Amphibious Brigade on the Soviet war in Afghanistan) wrote:

The entire Afghan conflict must be examined considering this reality – everything is a lie. Every battle, every campaign, every contract written and implemented – everything was founded in a lie…

Admiral McRaven, when speaking of the operation to kill Bin Laden, noted that there wasn’t anything fundamentally special about that mission in terms of the tactics. ‘I think that night we ran 11 or 12 [other] missions in Afghanistan,’ McRaven noted. Clearly there was a military focus beyond simply killing Bin Laden. It was secretive work, reportedly involving the assassination of Taliban members, that often resulted in innocent civilians beings killed.

It should be noted that, as of 2019, McRaven believed that this kind of special operations activity should be continued in Afghanistan for years to come. So much for the US mission in Afghanistan being defined by the death of Bin Laden. The mission had become death, and the careers that were defined by those deaths.

The fact is the war in Afghanistan did not need to be fought. We could have ended the threat posed by Bin Laden simply by negotiating with the Taliban in the aftermath of 9/11, providing the evidence we claimed to have linking Bin Laden to the terrorist attacks on the United States. Any student of Afghanistan worth their salt knows the fundamental importance of honor that is enshrined in the concepts of Pashtunwali, the unwritten ethical code that defines the traditional lifestyle of the Pashtun people. If, as we claimed, Bin Laden carried out an attack on women and children while he was living under the protection of Pashtunwali, then his dishonor is that of the Pashtun tribes. To clear their honor, they would seek justice – in this case, evicting Bin Laden and his followers from Afghanistan.

In fact, the Taliban made precisely this offer.

For America, however, this would have been an unsatisfying result. We needed blood, not justice, and we sent our troops to Afghanistan to stack bodies, which they did, in prodigious numbers. Most of these bodies were Taliban. We excused this by claiming the Taliban were providing safe haven to Bin Laden, and as such were complicit in the 9/11 attacks.

Which was a lie.

Scott Ritter (who was a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq from ’91-98) had also played a leading role in bringing to the public’s attention the lies told to justify the illegal war in Iraq, which was based off of cooked British intelligence.

It was not just based on the illusion of “justice,” there was a deeper and much more disturbing agenda under the patriotic trumpet blaring.

In this light, Afghanistan is indeed an incredible American “failure,” not only in failing to install their puppet government; it has also failed the American people, however, not in the way most are talking about.

The 20 year, some say occupancy others say terrorizing, of Afghanistan, is estimated at $1-2 trillion. This is only for the case of Afghanistan, it does not account for the total cost thus far of the War on Terror. Such extravagant spending with really nothing to show for it but destruction, the slaughter of innocents, instability and chaos; you would think the United States must be a very rich country to afford such a budget with no clear goal or objective. Instead, what we find is that the American economy is tanking and the living standard is plummeting, while drug use and overdose rates are sky-rocketing and suicide is among the top causes of death in the United States, especially among their youth.

What is going on here? Have the Americans gone mad? Or is there something much much more sinister afoot?

This situation cannot just be explained away as incompetence or the money-making business of war, or even the crazed end-of-world ideologies of neo-conservatives or Zionists, although these are all major factors.

The reason for this is because there has been something operating within the Middle East for much longer, it is even the reason why we call the Middle East and the Far East by such a name, it is the reason for why many countries in this region have the boundaries they do, and was the originator of the Palestine/Israel conflict.

It is also found at the center of the origin and funding of Islamic terrorism as we see in its modern form today.

Whose “Arab Awakening”?

The renunciation will not be easy. Jewish hopes have been raised to such a pitch that the non-fulfilment of the Zionist dream of a Jewish state in Palestine will cause intense disillusionment and bitterness. The manifold proofs of public spirit and of capacity to endure hardships and face danger in the building up of the national home are there to testify to the devotion with which a large section of the Jewish people cherish the Zionist ideal. And it would be an act of further cruelty to the Jews to disappoint those hopes if there existed some way of satisfying them, that did not involve cruelty to another people. But the logic of facts is inexorable. It shows that no room can be made in Palestine for a second nation except by dislodging or exterminating the nation in possession.” [emphasis added]

– the concluding paragraph of George Antonius’ “The Arab Awakening” (1938), graduate from Cambridge University, civil servant in the British Mandate of Palestine

Much of what is responsible for the war and havoc in the Middle East today has the British orchestrated so-called “Arab Awakening” to thank, led by characters such as E.G. Browne, St. John Philby, T.E. Lawrence of Arabia, and Gertrude Bell. Although its origins go as far back as the 19th century, it was only until the early 20th century, that the British were able to reap significant results from its long harvest.

The Arab Revolt of 1916-1918, had been, to the detriment of the Arab people, a British led rebellion. The British claimed that their sole interest in the affair was the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire and had given their word that these Arab territories would be freed and allowed independence if they agreed to rebel, in large part led and directed by the British.

It is a rather predictable feature of the British to lie and double cross and thus it should be of no surprise to anyone that their intentions were quite the opposite of what they had promised and thanks to the Sykes-Picot Russian leak, were revealed in their entire shameful glory.

Once the Arab Revolt was “won” against the Ottoman Empire, instead of the promised Arab independence, the Middle East was carved up into zones of influence under British and French colonial rule. Puppet monarchies were created in regions that were considered not under direct colonial subjugation in order to continue the illusion that Arabs remained in charge of sacred regions such as Mecca and Medina.

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In central Arabia, Hussein ibn Ali, Sharif of Mecca, the puppet leader of the Arab Revolt laid claim to the title Caliph in 1924, which his rival Wahhabite Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud rejected and declared war, defeating the Hashemites. Hussein (British Cairo Office favourite) abdicated and Ibn Saud (British India Office favourite), was proclaimed King of Hejaz and Najd in 1926, which led to the founding of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Al Saud (House of Saud) warriors of Wahhabism were a formidable strike force that the British believed would help London gain control of the western shores of the Persian Gulf.

Hussein ibn Ali’s son Faisal (under the heavy tutelage of T.E. Lawrence, Cairo Office) was bestowed as King of Iraq and Hussein’s other son, Abdullah I was established as the Emir of Transjordan until a negotiated legal separation of Transjordan from Britain’s Palestine mandate occurred in 1946, whereupon he was crowned King of Jordan.

While the British were promising Arab independence they simultaneously were promising a homeland in Palestine to the Jews. The Balfour Declaration of November 2nd, 1917 states:

“His majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object…”

Palestine had been seized by the British during the so-called “Arab Revolt” on December 11th, 1917 when General Allenby marched into Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate and declared martial law over the city. Palestine has remained occupied ever since.

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Britain would receive the mandate over Palestine from the League of Nations in July 1922.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s violent confrontations between Jews and Arabs took place in Palestine costing thousands of lives. In 1936 a major Arab revolt occurred over 7 months, until diplomatic efforts involving other Arab countries led to a ceasefire. In 1937, a British Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by William Peel concluded that Palestine had two distinct societies with irreconcilable political demands, thus making it necessary to partition the land.

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The Arab Higher Committee refused Peel’s “prescription” and the revolt broke out again. This time, Britain responded with a devastatingly heavy hand. Roughly 5,000 Arabs were killed by the British armed forces and police.

Following the riots, the British mandate government dissolved the Arab Higher Committee and declared it an illegal body.

In response to the revolt, the British government issued the White Paper of 1939, which stated that Palestine should be a bi-national state, inhabited by both Arabs and Jews. Due to the international unpopularity of the mandate including within Britain itself, it was organised such that the United Nations would take responsibility for the British initiative and adopted the resolution to partition Palestine on November 29th, 1947. Britain would announce its termination of its Mandate for Palestine on May 15th, 1948 after the State of Israel declared its independence on May 14th, 1948.

The Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood

“We do not cut the head of religion except by sword of religion.”

– Jamal al-Din al-Afghani

In 1869, a man named Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, the intellectual founder of the Salafiyya movement, went to India where British led colonial authorities welcomed him with honors and graciously escorted him aboard a government owned vessel on an all-expenses paid voyage to the Suez. [1]

In Cairo he was adopted by the Egyptian prime minister Riad Pasha, a notorious enemy of the emerging nationalist movement in Egypt. Pasha persuaded Afghani to stay in Egypt and allowed him to take up residence in Cairo’s 900 year old Al Azhar mosque considered the center of Islamic learning worldwide, where he received lodging and a monthly government stipend (paid for by the British).[2]

While Egypt was fighting its nationalist fight from 1879-1882, Afghani and his chief disciple Muhammad Abduh travelled together first to Paris and then to Britain, it was in Britain that they would make a proposal for a pan-Islamic alliance among Egypt, Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan against Czarist Russia.[3]

What Afghani was proposing to the British was that they provide aid and resources to support his formation of a militant Islam sect that would favour Britain’s interest in the Middle East, in other words, Afghani was offering to fight Islam with Islam to service British interests, having stated in one of his works “We do not cut the head of religion except by sword of religion.[4]

Although it is said that the British refused this offer, this is not likely considering the support Afghani would receive in creating the intellectual foundation for a pan-Islamic movement with British patronage and the support of England’s leading orientalist E.G. Browne, the godfather of twentieth century Orientalism and teacher of St John Philby and T.E. Lawrence.

E.G. Browne would make sure the work of Afghani would continue long beyond his death by lionising him in his 1910 “The Persian Revolution,” considered an authoritative history of the time.

In 1888, Abduh, the chief disciple of Afghani, would return to Egypt in triumph with the full support of the representatives of her Majesty’s imperial force and took the first of several positions in Cairo, openly casting his lot with Lord Cromer, who was the symbol of British imperialism in Egypt.

Abduh would found, with the hold of London’s Egyptian proconsul Evelyn Baring (aka Lord Cromer) who was the scion of the enormously powerful banking clan (Barings Bank) under the city of London, the Salafiyya movement.[5]

Abduh had attached himself to the British rulers of Egypt and created the cornerstone of the Muslim Brotherhood which dominated the militant Islamic right throughout the twentieth century.

In 1899, Abduh reached the pinnacle of his power and influence, and was named mufti of Egypt.

***

In 1902, Riyadh fell to Ibn Saud and it was during this period that Ibn Saud established the fearsome Ikhwan (translated as “brotherhood”). From the 1920s onward, the new Saudi state merged its Wahhabi orthodoxy with the Salafiyya movement (which would be organised into the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928).

William Shakespear, a famed British agent, forged the first formal treaty between England and Saudi Arabia which was signed in 1915, which bound London and Arabia for years before Saudi Arabia became a country. “It formally recognized Ibn Saud as the independent ruler of the Nejd and its Dependencies under British protection. In return, Ibn Saud undertook to follow British advice.[6]

Harry St. John Bridger Philby, a British operative schooled by E.G. Browne and father to the legendary triple agent Kim Philby, would succeed Shakespear as Great Britain’s liaison to Ibn Saud under the British India Office, the friendly rival of the Cairo Arab Bureau office which was sponsoring T.E. Lawrence of Arabia.

In Egypt 1928, Hassan al-Banna (a follower of Afghani and Abduh) founded the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimeen), the organization that would change the course of history in the twentieth century Middle East.

Banna’s Muslim Brotherhood was established with a grant from England’s Suez Canal Company[7] and from that point on, British diplomats and intelligence service, along with the British puppet King Farouq would use the Muslim Brotherhood as a truncheon against Egypt’s nationalists and later against Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. (For more on this refer to my paper.)

To get the Muslim Brotherhood off the ground, the Suez Canal Company helped Banna build the mosque in Ismailia that would serve as its headquarters and base of operation.[8] The fact that Banna created the organization in Ismailia is itself worthy of note. For England, the Suez Canal was the indispensable route to its prize possession, India, and in 1928 the town Ismailia happened to house not only the company’s offices but a major British military base built during WWI. It was also, in the 1920s a center of pro-British sentiment in Egypt.

In the post-WWI world, England reigned supreme, the flag of the British Empire was everywhere from the Mediterranean to India. A new generation of kings and potentates ruled over British dominated colonies, mandates, vassal states, and semi-independent fiefdoms in Egypt, Arabia, Iraq, Transjordan and Persia. To varying degrees those monarchies were beholden to London.

In the half century between 1875 and 1925 the building blocks of the militant Islamic right were cemented in place by the British Empire.

Islamic Banking Made in Geneva/London

Islamic banking [that is the banking system dominated presently by Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States] was born in Egypt and financed by Saudi Arabia and then spread to the far corners of the Muslim world. Eventually the Islamic banking movement became a vehicle not only for exporting political Islam but for sponsoring violence. However, Islamic banking did not get off the ground on its own, as Ibrahim Warde (a renowned scholar of international finance) explains in his book “Islamic Finance in the Global Economy,” Islamic banking:

operates more out of London, Geneva, or the Bahamas than it does out of Jeddah, Karachi or Cairo…Ideologically, both liberalism and economic Islam were driven by their common opposition to socialism and economic dirigisme…Even Islamic Republics have on occasion openly embraced neo-liberalism…In Sudan, between 1992 and the end of 1993, Economics Minister Abdul Rahim Hamdi – a disciple of Milton Friedman and incidentally a former Islamic banker in London – did not hesitate to implement the harshest free-market remedies dictated by the International Monetary Fund. He said he was committed to transforming the heretofore statist economy ‘according to free-market rules, because this is how an Islamic economy should function.’ ” [emphasis added]

Perhaps the best case study to this phenomenon is the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).

BCCI was an international bank founded in 1972 by Agha Hasan Abedi, a Pakistani financier. The bank was registered in Luxembourg with head offices in Karachi and London. A decade after opening, BCCI had over 400 branches in 78 countries in excess of $20 billion USD, making it the seventh largest private bank in the world.

In the 1980s investigations into BCCI led to the discovery of its involvement in massive money laundering and other financial crimes, and that the BCCI had illegally and secretly gained the control of a major American bank, First American, according to Robert Morgenthau (Manhattan DA) who had been investigating the bank for over two years.

BCCI was also to be found guilty for illegally buying another American bank, the Independence Bank of Los Angeles, using a Saudi businessman Ghaith Paraon as the puppet owner. The American depositors lost most of their money when BCCI was forced to foreclose since it was essentially operating a Ponzi scheme to fund illegal activity of all sorts.

According to Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald’s book “The Valediction”:

Afghanistan offered the opportunity for BCCI to migrate the lucrative heroin business from Southeast Asia [Laos/Cambodia/Vietnam] to the Pakistani/Afghan border under the cover of destabilization. President Carter supported Brzezinski’s provocations into Soviet territory from the minute they got into the White House. He then sanctioned Brzezinski’s plan to use Afghanistan to lure the Soviet Union into its own Vietnam and lied to the public about it when they fell into the trap on December 27, 1979.

…The destabilization kills three birds with one stone. It weakens the Soviets…It acts as a cover for moving the heroin business out of Vietnam/Laos and Cambodia to a safe haven on the Pakistan frontier with Afghanistan – a trade that propped up the British Empire financially for over a hundred years.

…Afghan drug dealer and CIA asset Gulbuddin Hekmatyar…[then organizes] a deal with the renegade gangster, Afghan prime minister, and possible CIA asset Hafizullah Amin…to make Kabul the center of the world heroin trade…pays for the off-the-books operation with drug money brought in by Hekmatyar and laundered through a Pakistani bank…known as BCCI. Everything goes smoothly until the new US Ambassador Adolph Dubs launches a campaign against the destabilization…

US Ambassador Adolph Dubs was assassinated, just seven months after taking his post, under an extremely suspect situation, on February 14, 1979, to which Gould and Fitzgerald do a superb investigation of, as well as what really happened in Afghanistan in 1979, in their book “The Valediction.

Investigators in the United States and the UK determined that BCCI had been “set up deliberately to avoid centralized regulatory review, and operated extensively in bank secrecy jurisdictions. Its affairs were extraordinarily complex. Its officers were sophisticated international bankers whose apparent objective was to keep their affairs secret, to commit fraud on a massive scale, and to avoid detection.[9]

This is an incredibly sophisticated operation, and interestingly, uses the very same methods that the City of London has been using for centuries and presently operates to a diabolical perfection today. There is no way that a solo Pakistani financier, even if he was financed by the Sheik of Abu Dhabi, could rise in less than a decade, operating on the turf of ancient banking channels that go back several centuries, to rise to become the seventh largest bank in the netherworld of finance without a little help from the big boys.

On July 29th, 1991, a Manhattan grand jury indicted BCCI on twelve accounts of fraud, money laundering and larceny. Robert Morgenthau (Manhattan DA), who was in charge of the investigation, has described BCCI as “the largest bank fraud in world financial history.”

Through the Rabbit Hole and Out Again

Today, the actions of the United States can best be understood in the context of the Anglo-American Empire, with Wall Street operating as an extension of the ancient banking channels of the City of London and Geneva.

The disastrous foreign policy of namely Britain and the United States in the War on Terror Crusade has been exposed multiple times. That is, that the very governments who have been shouting the loudest against Islamic extremism and for stability in the Middle East, are the very ones who have been weaponising, training and funding such terrorist groupings. The Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, ISIS (and all its viral variants) would not exist today if it were not for namely Britain’s age old strategy.

So what is the goal?

Well, what does any empire seek? Global domination.

In this light, the War on Terror is exposed for what it truly is. It is meant to impoverish and destroy the national sovereignty of the people, not only of the Middle East (or more accurately Southwest Asia), but as we are seeing clearly today, it has also acted as a slow blood-letting of the western people, whose economies are much weaker today than they were 20 years ago.

While western countries are increasingly unable to provide a proper standard of living, with mass unemployment, lack of healthcare, increased crime and suicide rates, and increased overdoses and homelessness, and pretty much everything you would expect to rise during a Dark Age straight out of a Goya painting, these “first-world” governments are applying further austerity measures on the people, even after prolonged lockdowns, while openly pumping trillions of dollars into wars that not only fund the destruction of entire nations, but funds the global drug, arms and sex-trafficking trade. All of this dirty money then circles back into the London-Geneva fondi, benefitting a select class that has existed and thrived for centuries on this sort of backdrop.

Nobody has benefitted from this War on Terror except the global elite.

So stop getting sucked into the same old same old lies; stop being a slave to the system and let us finally unite and stand up against the true common enemy of the people of the world.

The author can be reached at https://cynthiachung.substack.com/

  1. Elie Kedourie, “Afghani and Abduh: An Essay on Religious Unbelief and Political Activism in Modern Islam” 
  2. Ibid. 
  3. The proposal to London from Jamal al-Din al-Afghani was reported by a British Orientalist and author W.S. Blunt, a friend of Afghani’s. It is cited in C.C. Adams, “Islam and Modernism in Egypt.” 
  4. Elie Kedourie, “Afghani and Abduh: An Essay on Religious Unbelief and Political Activism in Modern Islam.” 
  5. Ibid. 
  6. David Holden and Richard Johns, “The House of Saud.” 
  7. Richard P. Mitchell, “The Society of the Muslim Brothers.” 
  8. Ibid. 
  9. John Kerry “The BCCI Affair: A Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations.” 

Article by Vladimir Putin ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“

July 13, 2021

Article by Vladimir Putin ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66181

July 12, 2021

During the recent Direct Line, when I was asked about Russian-Ukrainian relations, I said that Russians and Ukrainians were one people – a single whole. These words were not driven by some short-term considerations or prompted by the current political context. It is what I have said on numerous occasions and what I firmly believe. I therefore feel it necessary to explain my position in detail and share my assessments of today’s situation.

First of all, I would like to emphasize that the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russia and Ukraine, between the parts of what is essentially the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy. These are, first and foremost, the consequences of our own mistakes made at different periods of time. But these are also the result of deliberate efforts by those forces that have always sought to undermine our unity. The formula they apply has been known from time immemorial – divide and rule. There is nothing new here. Hence the attempts to play on the ”national question“ and sow discord among people, the overarching goal being to divide and then to pit the parts of a single people against one another.

To have a better understanding of the present and look into the future, we need to turn to history. Certainly, it is impossible to cover in this article all the developments that have taken place over more than a thousand years. But I will focus on the key, pivotal moments that are important for us to remember, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus, which was the largest state in Europe. Slavic and other tribes across the vast territory – from Ladoga, Novgorod, and Pskov to Kiev and Chernigov – were bound together by one language (which we now refer to as Old Russian), economic ties, the rule of the princes of the Rurik dynasty, and – after the baptism of Rus – the Orthodox faith. The spiritual choice made by St. Vladimir, who was both Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Kiev, still largely determines our affinity today.

The throne of Kiev held a dominant position in Ancient Rus. This had been the custom since the late 9th century. The Tale of Bygone Years captured for posterity the words of Oleg the Prophet about Kiev, ”Let it be the mother of all Russian cities.“

Later, like other European states of that time, Ancient Rus faced a decline of central rule and fragmentation. At the same time, both the nobility and the common people perceived Rus as a common territory, as their homeland.

The fragmentation intensified after Batu Khan’s devastating invasion, which ravaged many cities, including Kiev. The northeastern part of Rus fell under the control of the Golden Horde but retained limited sovereignty. The southern and western Russian lands largely became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which – most significantly – was referred to in historical records as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Russia.

Members of the princely and ”boyar“ clans would change service from one prince to another, feuding with each other but also making friendships and alliances. Voivode Bobrok of Volyn and the sons of Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas – Andrey of Polotsk and Dmitry of Bryansk – fought next to Grand Duke Dmitry Ivanovich of Moscow on the Kulikovo field. At the same time, Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila – son of the Princess of Tver – led his troops to join with Mamai. These are all pages of our shared history, reflecting its complex and multi-dimensional nature.

Most importantly, people both in the western and eastern Russian lands spoke the same language. Their faith was Orthodox. Up to the middle of the 15th century, the unified church government remained in place.

At a new stage of historical development, both Lithuanian Rus and Moscow Rus could have become the points of attraction and consolidation of the territories of Ancient Rus. It so happened that Moscow became the center of reunification, continuing the tradition of ancient Russian statehood. Moscow princes – the descendants of Prince Alexander Nevsky – cast off the foreign yoke and began gathering the Russian lands.

In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, other processes were unfolding. In the 14th century, Lithuania’s ruling elite converted to Catholicism. In the 16th century, it signed the Union of Lublin with the Kingdom of Poland to form the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Polish Catholic nobility received considerable land holdings and privileges in the territory of Rus. In accordance with the 1596 Union of Brest, part of the western Russian Orthodox clergy submitted to the authority of the Pope. The process of Polonization and Latinization began, ousting Orthodoxy.

As a consequence, in the 16–17th centuries, the liberation movement of the Orthodox population was gaining strength in the Dnieper region. The events during the times of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky became a turning point. His supporters struggled for autonomy from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In its 1649 appeal to the king of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Zaporizhian Host demanded that the rights of the Russian Orthodox population be respected, that the voivode of Kiev be Russian and of Greek faith, and that the persecution of the churches of God be stopped. But the Cossacks were not heard.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky then made appeals to Moscow, which were considered by the Zemsky Sobor. On 1 October 1653, members of the supreme representative body of the Russian state decided to support their brothers in faith and take them under patronage. In January 1654, the Pereyaslav Council confirmed that decision. Subsequently, the ambassadors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and Moscow visited dozens of cities, including Kiev, whose populations swore allegiance to the Russian tsar. Incidentally, nothing of the kind happened at the conclusion of the Union of Lublin.

In a letter to Moscow in 1654, Bohdan Khmelnytsky thanked Tsar Aleksey Mikhaylovich for taking ”the whole Zaporizhian Host and the whole Russian Orthodox world under the strong and high hand of the Tsar“. It means that, in their appeals to both the Polish king and the Russian tsar, the Cossacks referred to and defined themselves as Russian Orthodox people.

Over the course of the protracted war between the Russian state and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, some of the hetmans, successors of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, would ”detach themselves“ from Moscow or seek support from Sweden, Poland, or Turkey. But, again, for the people, that was a war of liberation. It ended with the Truce of Andrusovo in 1667. The final outcome was sealed by the Treaty of Perpetual Peace in 1686. The Russian state incorporated the city of Kiev and the lands on the left bank of the Dnieper River, including Poltava region, Chernigov region, and Zaporozhye. Their inhabitants were reunited with the main part of the Russian Orthodox people. These territories were referred to as ”Malorossia“ (Little Russia).

The name ”Ukraine“ was used more often in the meaning of the Old Russian word ”okraina“ (periphery), which is found in written sources from the 12th century, referring to various border territories. And the word ”Ukrainian“, judging by archival documents, originally referred to frontier guards who protected the external borders.

On the right bank, which remained under the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the old orders were restored, and social and religious oppression intensified. On the contrary, the lands on the left bank, taken under the protection of the unified state, saw rapid development. People from the other bank of the Dnieper moved here en masse. They sought support from people who spoke the same language and had the same faith.

During the Great Northern War with Sweden, the people in Malorossia were not faced with a choice of whom to side with. Only a small portion of the Cossacks supported Mazepa’s rebellion. People of all orders and degrees considered themselves Russian and Orthodox.

Cossack senior officers belonging to the nobility would reach the heights of political, diplomatic, and military careers in Russia. Graduates of Kiev-Mohyla Academy played a leading role in church life. This was also the case during the Hetmanate – an essentially autonomous state formation with a special internal structure – and later in the Russian Empire. Malorussians in many ways helped build a big common country – its statehood, culture, and science. They participated in the exploration and development of the Urals, Siberia, the Caucasus, and the Far East. Incidentally, during the Soviet period, natives of Ukraine held major, including the highest, posts in the leadership of the unified state. Suffice it to say that Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev, whose party biography was most closely associated with Ukraine, led the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) for almost 30 years.

In the second half of the 18th century, following the wars with the Ottoman Empire, Russia incorporated Crimea and the lands of the Black Sea region, which became known as Novorossiya. They were populated by people from all of the Russian provinces. After the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire regained the western Old Russian lands, with the exception of Galicia and Transcarpathia, which became part of the Austrian – and later Austro-Hungarian – Empire.

The incorporation of the western Russian lands into the single state was not merely the result of political and diplomatic decisions. It was underlain by the common faith, shared cultural traditions, and – I would like to emphasize it once again – language similarity. Thus, as early as the beginning of the 17th century, one of the hierarchs of the Uniate Church, Joseph Rutsky, communicated to Rome that people in Moscovia called Russians from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth their brothers, that their written language was absolutely identical, and differences in the vernacular were insignificant. He drew an analogy with the residents of Rome and Bergamo. These are, as we know, the center and the north of modern Italy.

Many centuries of fragmentation and living within different states naturally brought about regional language peculiarities, resulting in the emergence of dialects. The vernacular enriched the literary language. Ivan Kotlyarevsky, Grigory Skovoroda, and Taras Shevchenko played a huge role here. Their works are our common literary and cultural heritage. Taras Shevchenko wrote poetry in the Ukrainian language, and prose mainly in Russian. The books of Nikolay Gogol, a Russian patriot and native of Poltavshchyna, are written in Russian, bristling with Malorussian folk sayings and motifs. How can this heritage be divided between Russia and Ukraine? And why do it?

The south-western lands of the Russian Empire, Malorussia and Novorossiya, and the Crimea developed as ethnically and religiously diverse entities. Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Karaites, Krymchaks, Bulgarians, Poles, Serbs, Germans, and other peoples lived here. They all preserved their faith, traditions, and customs.

I am not going to idealise anything. We do know there were the Valuev Circular of 1863 an then the Ems Ukaz of 1876, which restricted the publication and importation of religious and socio-political literature in the Ukrainian language. But it is important to be mindful of the historical context. These decisions were taken against the backdrop of dramatic events in Poland and the desire of the leaders of the Polish national movement to exploit the ”Ukrainian issue“ to their own advantage. I should add that works of fiction, books of Ukrainian poetry and folk songs continued to be published. There is objective evidence that the Russian Empire was witnessing an active process of development of the Malorussian cultural identity within the greater Russian nation, which united the Velikorussians, the Malorussians and the Belorussians.

At the same time, the idea of Ukrainian people as a nation separate from the Russians started to form and gain ground among the Polish elite and a part of the Malorussian intelligentsia. Since there was no historical basis – and could not have been any, conclusions were substantiated by all sorts of concoctions, which went as far as to claim that the Ukrainians are the true Slavs and the Russians, the Muscovites, are not. Such ”hypotheses“ became increasingly used for political purposes as a tool of rivalry between European states.

Since the late 19th century, the Austro-Hungarian authorities had latched onto this narrative, using it as a counterbalance to the Polish national movement and pro-Muscovite sentiments in Galicia. During World War I, Vienna played a role in the formation of the so-called Legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen. Galicians suspected of sympathies with Orthodox Christianity and Russia were subjected to brutal repression and thrown into the concentration camps of Thalerhof and Terezin.

Further developments had to do with the collapse of European empires, the fierce civil war that broke out across the vast territory of the former Russian Empire, and foreign intervention.

After the February Revolution, in March 1917, the Central Rada was established in Kiev, intended to become the organ of supreme power. In November 1917, in its Third Universal, it declared the creation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UPR) as part of Russia.

In December 1917, UPR representatives arrived in Brest-Litovsk, where Soviet Russia was negotiating with Germany and its allies. At a meeting on 10 January 1918, the head of the Ukrainian delegation read out a note proclaiming the independence of Ukraine. Subsequently, the Central Rada proclaimed Ukraine independent in its Fourth Universal.

The declared sovereignty did not last long. Just a few weeks later, Rada delegates signed a separate treaty with the German bloc countries. Germany and Austria-Hungary were at the time in a dire situation and needed Ukrainian bread and raw materials. In order to secure large-scale supplies, they obtained consent for sending their troops and technical staff to the UPR. In fact, this was used as a pretext for occupation.

For those who have today given up the full control of Ukraine to external forces, it would be instructive to remember that, back in 1918, such a decision proved fatal for the ruling regime in Kiev. With the direct involvement of the occupying forces, the Central Rada was overthrown and Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi was brought to power, proclaiming instead of the UPR the Ukrainian State, which was essentially under German protectorate.

In November 1918 – following the revolutionary events in Germany and Austria-Hungary – Pavlo Skoropadskyi, who had lost the support of German bayonets, took a different course, declaring that ”Ukraine is to take the lead in the formation of an All-Russian Federation“. However, the regime was soon changed again. It was now the time of the so-called Directorate.

In autumn 1918, Ukrainian nationalists proclaimed the West Ukrainian People’s Republic (WUPR) and, in January 1919, announced its unification with the Ukrainian People’s Republic. In July 1919, Ukrainian forces were crushed by Polish troops, and the territory of the former WUPR came under the Polish rule.

In April 1920, Symon Petliura (portrayed as one of the ”heroes“ in today’s Ukraine) concluded secret conventions on behalf of the UPR Directorate, giving up – in exchange for military support – Galicia and Western Volhynia lands to Poland. In May 1920, Petliurites entered Kiev in a convoy of Polish military units. But not for long. As early as November 1920, following a truce between Poland and Soviet Russia, the remnants of Petliura’s forces surrendered to those same Poles.

The example of the UPR shows that different kinds of quasi-state formations that emerged across the former Russian Empire at the time of the Civil War and turbulence were inherently unstable. Nationalists sought to create their own independent states, while leaders of the White movement advocated indivisible Russia. Many of the republics established by the Bolsheviks’ supporters did not see themselves outside Russia either. Nevertheless, Bolshevik Party leaders sometimes basically drove them out of Soviet Russia for various reasons.

Thus, in early 1918, the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic was proclaimed and asked Moscow to incorporate it into Soviet Russia. This was met with a refusal. During a meeting with the republic’s leaders, Vladimir Lenin insisted that they act as part of Soviet Ukraine. On 15 March 1918, the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) directly ordered that delegates be sent to the Ukrainian Congress of Soviets, including from the Donetsk Basin, and that ”one government for all of Ukraine“ be created at the congress. The territories of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic later formed most of the regions of south-eastern Ukraine.

Under the 1921 Treaty of Riga, concluded between the Russian SFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and Poland, the western lands of the former Russian Empire were ceded to Poland. In the interwar period, the Polish government pursued an active resettlement policy, seeking to change the ethnic composition of the Eastern Borderlands – the Polish name for what is now Western Ukraine, Western Belarus and parts of Lithuania. The areas were subjected to harsh Polonisation, local culture and traditions suppressed. Later, during World War II, radical groups of Ukrainian nationalists used this as a pretext for terror not only against Polish, but also against Jewish and Russian populations.

In 1922, when the USSR was created, with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic becoming one of its founders, a rather fierce debate among the Bolshevik leaders resulted in the implementation of Lenin’s plan to form a union state as a federation of equal republics. The right for the republics to freely secede from the Union was included in the text of the Declaration on the Creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, subsequently, in the 1924 USSR Constitution. By doing so, the authors planted in the foundation of our statehood the most dangerous time bomb, which exploded the moment the safety mechanism provided by the leading role of the CPSU was gone, the party itself collapsing from within. A ”parade of sovereignties“ followed. On 8 December 1991, the so-called Belovezh Agreement on the Creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States was signed, stating that ”the USSR as a subject of international law and a geopolitical reality no longer existed.“ By the way, Ukraine never signed or ratified the CIS Charter adopted back in 1993.

In the 1920’s-1930’s, the Bolsheviks actively promoted the ”localization policy“, which took the form of Ukrainization in the Ukrainian SSR. Symbolically, as part of this policy and with consent of the Soviet authorities, Mikhail Grushevskiy, former chairman of Central Rada, one of the ideologists of Ukrainian nationalism, who at a certain period of time had been supported by Austria-Hungary, was returned to the USSR and was elected member of the Academy of Sciences.

The localization policy undoubtedly played a major role in the development and consolidation of the Ukrainian culture, language and identity. At the same time, under the guise of combating the so-called Russian great-power chauvinism, Ukrainization was often imposed on those who did not see themselves as Ukrainians. This Soviet national policy secured at the state level the provision on three separate Slavic peoples: Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian, instead of the large Russian nation, a triune people comprising Velikorussians, Malorussians and Belorussians.

In 1939, the USSR regained the lands earlier seized by Poland. A major portion of these became part of the Soviet Ukraine. In 1940, the Ukrainian SSR incorporated part of Bessarabia, which had been occupied by Romania since 1918, as well as Northern Bukovina. In 1948, Zmeyiniy Island (Snake Island) in the Black Sea became part of Ukraine. In 1954, the Crimean Region of the RSFSR was given to the Ukrainian SSR, in gross violation of legal norms that were in force at the time.

I would like to dwell on the destiny of Carpathian Ruthenia, which became part of Czechoslovakia following the breakup of Austria-Hungary. Rusins made up a considerable share of local population. While this is hardly mentioned any longer, after the liberation of Transcarpathia by Soviet troops the congress of the Orthodox population of the region voted for the inclusion of Carpathian Ruthenia in the RSFSR or, as a separate Carpathian republic, in the USSR proper. Yet the choice of people was ignored. In summer 1945, the historical act of the reunification of Carpathian Ukraine ”with its ancient motherland, Ukraine“ – as The Pravda newspaper put it – was announced.

Therefore, modern Ukraine is entirely the product of the Soviet era. We know and remember well that it was shaped – for a significant part – on the lands of historical Russia. To make sure of that, it is enough to look at the boundaries of the lands reunited with the Russian state in the 17th century and the territory of the Ukrainian SSR when it left the Soviet Union.

The Bolsheviks treated the Russian people as inexhaustible material for their social experiments. They dreamt of a world revolution that would wipe out national states. That is why they were so generous in drawing borders and bestowing territorial gifts. It is no longer important what exactly the idea of the Bolshevik leaders who were chopping the country into pieces was. We can disagree about minor details, background and logics behind certain decisions. One fact is crystal clear: Russia was robbed, indeed.

When working on this article, I relied on open-source documents that contain well-known facts rather than on some secret records. The leaders of modern Ukraine and their external ”patrons“ prefer to overlook these facts. They do not miss a chance, however, both inside the country and abroad, to condemn ”the crimes of the Soviet regime,“ listing among them events with which neither the CPSU, nor the USSR, let alone modern Russia, have anything to do. At the same time, the Bolsheviks’ efforts to detach from Russia its historical territories are not considered a crime. And we know why: if they brought about the weakening of Russia, our ill-wishes are happy with that.

Of course, inside the USSR, borders between republics were never seen as state borders; they were nominal within a single country, which, while featuring all the attributes of a federation, was highly centralized – this, again, was secured by the CPSU’s leading role. But in 1991, all those territories, and, which is more important, people, found themselves abroad overnight, taken away, this time indeed, from their historical motherland.

What can be said to this? Things change: countries and communities are no exception. Of course, some part of a people in the process of its development, influenced by a number of reasons and historical circumstances, can become aware of itself as a separate nation at a certain moment. How should we treat that? There is only one answer: with respect!

You want to establish a state of your own: you are welcome! But what are the terms? I will recall the assessment given by one of the most prominent political figures of new Russia, first mayor of Saint Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak. As a legal expert who believed that every decision must be legitimate, in 1992, he shared the following opinion: the republics that were founders of the Union, having denounced the 1922 Union Treaty, must return to the boundaries they had had before joining the Soviet Union. All other territorial acquisitions are subject to discussion, negotiations, given that the ground has been revoked.

In other words, when you leave, take what you brought with you. This logic is hard to refute. I will just say that the Bolsheviks had embarked on reshaping boundaries even before the Soviet Union, manipulating with territories to their liking, in disregard of people’s views.

The Russian Federation recognized the new geopolitical realities: and not only recognized, but, indeed, did a lot for Ukraine to establish itself as an independent country. Throughout the difficult 1990’s and in the new millennium, we have provided considerable support to Ukraine. Whatever ”political arithmetic“ of its own Kiev may wish to apply, in 1991–2013, Ukraine’s budget savings amounted to more than USD 82 billion, while today, it holds on to the mere USD 1.5 billion of Russian payments for gas transit to Europe. If economic ties between our countries had been retained, Ukraine would enjoy the benefit of tens of billions of dollars.

Ukraine and Russia have developed as a single economic system over decades and centuries. The profound cooperation we had 30 years ago is an example for the European Union to look up to. We are natural complementary economic partners. Such a close relationship can strengthen competitive advantages, increasing the potential of both countries.

Ukraine used to possess great potential, which included powerful infrastructure, gas transportation system, advanced shipbuilding, aviation, rocket and instrument engineering industries, as well as world-class scientific, design and engineering schools. Taking over this legacy and declaring independence, Ukrainian leaders promised that the Ukrainian economy would be one of the leading ones and the standard of living would be among the best in Europe.

Today, high-tech industrial giants that were once the pride of Ukraine and the entire Union, are sinking. Engineering output has dropped by 42 per cent over ten years. The scale of deindustrialization and overall economic degradation is visible in Ukraine’s electricity production, which has seen a nearly two-time decrease in 30 years. Finally, according to IMF reports, in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, Ukraine’s GDP per capita had been below USD 4 thousand. This is less than in the Republic of Albania, the Republic of Moldova, or unrecognized Kosovo. Nowadays, Ukraine is Europe’s poorest country.

Who is to blame for this? Is it the people of Ukraine’s fault? Certainly not. It was the Ukrainian authorities who waisted and frittered away the achievements of many generations. We know how hardworking and talented the people of Ukraine are. They can achieve success and outstanding results with perseverance and determination. And these qualities, as well as their openness, innate optimism and hospitality have not gone. The feelings of millions of people who treat Russia not just well but with great affection, just as we feel about Ukraine, remain the same.

Until 2014, hundreds of agreements and joint projects were aimed at developing our economies, business and cultural ties, strengthening security, and solving common social and environmental problems. They brought tangible benefits to people – both in Russia and Ukraine. This is what we believed to be most important. And that is why we had a fruitful interaction with all, I emphasize, with all the leaders of Ukraine.

Even after the events in Kiev of 2014, I charged the Russian government to elaborate options for preserving and maintaining our economic ties within relevant ministries and agencies. However, there was and is still no mutual will to do the same. Nevertheless, Russia is still one of Ukraine’s top three trading partners, and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are coming to us to work, and they find a welcome reception and support. So that what the ”aggressor state“ is.

When the USSR collapsed, many people in Russia and Ukraine sincerely believed and assumed that our close cultural, spiritual and economic ties would certainly last, as would the commonality of our people, who had always had a sense of unity at their core. However, events – at first gradually, and then more rapidly – started to move in a different direction.

In essence, Ukraine’s ruling circles decided to justify their country’s independence through the denial of its past, however, except for border issues. They began to mythologize and rewrite history, edit out everything that united us, and refer to the period when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as an occupation. The common tragedy of collectivization and famine of the early 1930s was portrayed as the genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Radicals and neo-Nazis were open and more and more insolent about their ambitions. They were indulged by both the official authorities and local oligarchs, who robbed the people of Ukraine and kept their stolen money in Western banks, ready to sell their motherland for the sake of preserving their capital. To this should be added the persistent weakness of state institutions and the position of a willing hostage to someone else’s geopolitical will.

I recall that long ago, well before 2014, the U.S. and EU countries systematically and consistently pushed Ukraine to curtail and limit economic cooperation with Russia. We, as the largest trade and economic partner of Ukraine, suggested discussing the emerging problems in the Ukraine-Russia-EU format. But every time we were told that Russia had nothing to do with it and that the issue concerned only the EU and Ukraine. De facto Western countries rejected Russia’s repeated calls for dialogue.

Step by step, Ukraine was dragged into a dangerous geopolitical game aimed at turning Ukraine into a barrier between Europe and Russia, a springboard against Russia. Inevitably, there came a time when the concept of ”Ukraine is not Russia“ was no longer an option. There was a need for the ”anti-Russia“ concept which we will never accept.

The owners of this project took as a basis the old groundwork of the Polish-Austrian ideologists to create an ”anti-Moscow Russia“. And there is no need to deceive anyone that this is being done in the interests of the people of Ukraine. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth never needed Ukrainian culture, much less Cossack autonomy. In Austria-Hungary, historical Russian lands were mercilessly exploited and remained the poorest. The Nazis, abetted by collaborators from the OUN-UPA, did not need Ukraine, but a living space and slaves for Aryan overlords.

Nor were the interests of the Ukrainian people thought of in February 2014. The legitimate public discontent, caused by acute socio-economic problems, mistakes, and inconsistent actions of the authorities of the time, was simply cynically exploited. Western countries directly interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs and supported the coup. Radical nationalist groups served as its battering ram. Their slogans, ideology, and blatant aggressive Russophobia have to a large extent become defining elements of state policy in Ukraine.

All the things that united us and bring us together so far came under attack. First and foremost, the Russian language. Let me remind you that the new ”Maidan“ authorities first tried to repeal the law on state language policy. Then there was the law on the ”purification of power“, the law on education that virtually cut the Russian language out of the educational process.

Lastly, as early as May of this year, the current president introduced a bill on ”indigenous peoples“ to the Rada. Only those who constitute an ethnic minority and do not have their own state entity outside Ukraine are recognized as indigenous. The law has been passed. New seeds of discord have been sown. And this is happening in a country, as I have already noted, that is very complex in terms of its territorial, national and linguistic composition, and its history of formation.

There may be an argument: if you are talking about a single large nation, a triune nation, then what difference does it make who people consider themselves to be – Russians, Ukrainians, or Belarusians. I completely agree with this. Especially since the determination of nationality, particularly in mixed families, is the right of every individual, free to make his or her own choice.

But the fact is that the situation in Ukraine today is completely different because it involves a forced change of identity. And the most despicable thing is that the Russians in Ukraine are being forced not only to deny their roots, generations of their ancestors but also to believe that Russia is their enemy. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the path of forced assimilation, the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us. As a result of such a harsh and artificial division of Russians and Ukrainians, the Russian people in all may decrease by hundreds of thousands or even millions.

Our spiritual unity has also been attacked. As in the days of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a new ecclesiastical has been initiated. The secular authorities, making no secret of their political aims, have blatantly interfered in church life and brought things to a split, to the seizure of churches, the beating of priests and monks. Even extensive autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church while maintaining spiritual unity with the Moscow Patriarchate strongly displeases them. They have to destroy this prominent and centuries-old symbol of our kinship at all costs.

I think it is also natural that the representatives of Ukraine over and over again vote against the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism. Marches and torchlit processions in honor of remaining war criminals from the SS units take place under the protection of the official authorities. Mazepa, who betrayed everyone, Petliura, who paid for Polish patronage with Ukrainian lands, and Bandera, who collaborated with the Nazis, are ranked as national heroes. Everything is being done to erase from the memory of young generations the names of genuine patriots and victors, who have always been the pride of Ukraine.

For the Ukrainians who fought in the Red Army, in partisan units, the Great Patriotic War was indeed a patriotic war because they were defending their home, their great common Motherland. Over two thousand soldiers became Heroes of the Soviet Union. Among them are legendary pilot Ivan Kozhedub, fearless sniper, defender of Odessa and Sevastopol Lyudmila Pavlichenko, valiant guerrilla commander Sidor Kovpak. This indomitable generation fought, those people gave their lives for our future, for us. To forget their feat is to betray our grandfathers, mothers and fathers.

The anti-Russia project has been rejected by millions of Ukrainians. The people of Crimea and residents of Sevastopol made their historic choice. And people in the southeast peacefully tried to defend their stance. Yet, all of them, including children, were labeled as separatists and terrorists. They were threatened with ethnic cleansing and the use of military force. And the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk took up arms to defend their home, their language and their lives. Were they left any other choice after the riots that swept through the cities of Ukraine, after the horror and tragedy of 2 May 2014 in Odessa where Ukrainian neo-Nazis burned people alive making a new Khatyn out of it? The same massacre was ready to be carried out by the followers of Bandera in Crimea, Sevastopol, Donetsk and Lugansk. Even now they do not abandon such plans. They are biding their time. But their time will not come.

The coup d’état and the subsequent actions of the Kiev authorities inevitably provoked confrontation and civil war. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that the total number of victims in the conflict in Donbas has exceeded 13,000. Among them are the elderly and children. These are terrible, irreparable losses.

Russia has done everything to stop fratricide. The Minsk agreements aimed at a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Donbas have been concluded. I am convinced that they still have no alternative. In any case, no one has withdrawn their signatures from the Minsk Package of Measures or from the relevant statements by the leaders of the Normandy format countries. No one has initiated a review of the United Nations Security Council resolution of 17 February 2015.

During official negotiations, especially after being reined in by Western partners, Ukraine’s representatives regularly declare their ”full adherence“ to the Minsk agreements, but are in fact guided by a position of ”unacceptability“. They do not intend to seriously discuss either the special status of Donbas or safeguards for the people living there. They prefer to exploit the image of the ”victim of external aggression“ and peddle Russophobia. They arrange bloody provocations in Donbas. In short, they attract the attention of external patrons and masters by all means.

Apparently, and I am becoming more and more convinced of this: Kiev simply does not need Donbas. Why? Because, firstly, the inhabitants of these regions will never accept the order that they have tried and are trying to impose by force, blockade and threats. And secondly, the outcome of both Minsk‑1 and Minsk‑2 which give a real chance to peacefully restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine by coming to an agreement directly with the DPR and LPR with Russia, Germany and France as mediators, contradicts the entire logic of the anti-Russia project. And it can only be sustained by the constant cultivation of the image of an internal and external enemy. And I would add – under the protection and control of the Western powers.

This is what is actually happening. First of all, we are facing the creation of a climate of fear in Ukrainian society, aggressive rhetoric, indulging neo-Nazis and militarising the country. Along with that we are witnessing not just complete dependence but direct external control, including the supervision of the Ukrainian authorities, security services and armed forces by foreign advisers, military ”development“ of the territory of Ukraine and deployment of NATO infrastructure. It is no coincidence that the aforementioned flagrant law on ”indigenous peoples“ was adopted under the cover of large-scale NATO exercises in Ukraine.

This is also a disguise for the takeover of the rest of the Ukrainian economy and the exploitation of its natural resources. The sale of agricultural land is not far off, and it is obvious who will buy it up. From time to time, Ukraine is indeed given financial resources and loans, but under their own conditions and pursuing their own interests, with preferences and benefits for Western companies. By the way, who will pay these debts back? Apparently, it is assumed that this will have to be done not only by today’s generation of Ukrainians but also by their children, grandchildren and probably great-grandchildren.

The Western authors of the anti-Russia project set up the Ukrainian political system in such a way that presidents, members of parliament and ministers would change but the attitude of separation from and enmity with Russia would remain. Reaching peace was the main election slogan of the incumbent president. He came to power with this. The promises turned out to be lies. Nothing has changed. And in some ways the situation in Ukraine and around Donbas has even degenerated.

In the anti-Russia project, there is no place either for a sovereign Ukraine or for the political forces that are trying to defend its real independence. Those who talk about reconciliation in Ukrainian society, about dialogue, about finding a way out of the current impasse are labelled as ”pro-Russian“ agents.

Again, for many people in Ukraine, the anti-Russia project is simply unacceptable. And there are millions of such people. But they are not allowed to raise their heads. They have had their legal opportunity to defend their point of view in fact taken away from them. They are intimidated, driven underground. Not only are they persecuted for their convictions, for the spoken word, for the open expression of their position, but they are also killed. Murderers, as a rule, go unpunished.

Today, the ”right“ patriot of Ukraine is only the one who hates Russia. Moreover, the entire Ukrainian statehood, as we understand it, is proposed to be further built exclusively on this idea. Hate and anger, as world history has repeatedly proved this, are a very shaky foundation for sovereignty, fraught with many serious risks and dire consequences.

All the subterfuges associated with the anti-Russia project are clear to us. And we will never allow our historical territories and people close to us living there to be used against Russia. And to those who will undertake such an attempt, I would like to say that this way they will destroy their own country.

The incumbent authorities in Ukraine like to refer to Western experience, seeing it as a model to follow. Just have a look at how Austria and Germany, the USA and Canada live next to each other. Close in ethnic composition, culture, in fact sharing one language, they remain sovereign states with their own interests, with their own foreign policy. But this does not prevent them from the closest integration or allied relations. They have very conditional, transparent borders. And when crossing them the citizens feel at home. They create families, study, work, do business. Incidentally, so do millions of those born in Ukraine who now live in Russia. We see them as our own close people.

Russia is open to dialogue with Ukraine and ready to discuss the most complex issues. But it is important for us to understand that our partner is defending its national interests but not serving someone else’s, and is not a tool in someone else’s hands to fight against us.

We respect the Ukrainian language and traditions. We respect Ukrainians’ desire to see their country free, safe and prosperous.

I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories. Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.

Today, these words may be perceived by some people with hostility. They can be interpreted in many possible ways. Yet, many people will hear me. And I will say one thing – Russia has never been and will never be ”anti-Ukraine“. And what Ukraine will be – it is up to its citizens to decide.

Turkey and Russia.. Central Asia after Afghanistan?

 ARABI SOURI 

Turkey and Russia Central Asia after Afghanistan

Ankara sees the American withdrawal from Afghanistan as its valuable opportunity to gain several footholds in this country neighboring the Central Asian republics of Turkish origin.

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:

With the approach of the complete American withdrawal from Afghanistan, the competition intensified between Turkey and each of Russia, Iran, and other countries, with the aim of gaining more positions, not only in this country but through it in Central Asia in general as well. With the “Taliban” movement controlling more areas, and the Afghan forces fleeing en masse, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahman, and assured him of his country’s support for him in the face of possible developments in the Afghan crisis, after thousands of Afghan soldiers sought refuge in this neighboring country.

Last Tuesday, the Russian army announced the readiness of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems at the Russian base in Tajikistan, which in turn does not hide its concern about the possibility of an explosion in the security situation in Afghanistan, which may be exploited by the various jihadist groups, which some of them are present in Idlib and other areas of Syria, under the protection of Turkey, which prevents President Putin from any action that directly targets these groups.

President Putin also made a second phone call to his Uzbek counterpart Shaukat Mir Daif and discussed with him the details of coordination and joint cooperation to confront possible developments in Afghanistan.

In turn, Foreign Minister Lavrov said, “The main problem is the growing threat of terrorist attacks because the Taliban is behaving more aggressively. Also, the terrorist organization ISIS is strengthening its presence in the northern parts of Afghanistan near the border with Russia’s allies.”

And the Russian security announced the thwarting of many terrorist attacks planned by the militants of the Islamist “Tahrir Party”, which is mainly active in the autonomous republics within the borders of the Russian Federation, whose population is mostly Muslims, and their number exceeds 20 million.

Iran – which has a common border with Afghanistan with a length of 936 km, Pakistan with a length of 909 km, and Turkmenistan with a length of 992 km – are closely watching the Afghan developments, given the direct relationship of the matter to Iran’s national security. Last Tuesday, Tehran hosted a meeting between representatives of the “Taliban” and the Afghan government, in an attempt to achieve peaceful reconciliation between the two parties after the US withdrawal at the end of next month.

In turn, Ankara sees this withdrawal as its valuable opportunity to gain several footholds in this country neighboring the Central Asian republics of Turkish origin, namely Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Defense Minister Hulusi Akar visited Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan at the end of last month, in a new attempt by Ankara to develop military relations with these two countries, and later with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, all of which constitute the backyard of Russia, which President Erdogan has previously challenged in Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Lithuania.

He also challenged it by lighting the green light for Atlantic maneuvers which included the British and Dutch provocations in the Black Sea, which Washington, with the support of Ankara, wants to turn into an Atlantic basin after the annexation of Georgia and Ukraine to the alliance. NATO membership mainly includes Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria, which overlook the Black Sea, while Turkey controls the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, which connect the Black Sea to both the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean.

Ankara signed several military cooperation agreements with Bulgaria and Romania and then sold its drones to Lithuania, Ukraine, Albania, and Azerbaijan, which achieved quick victories in their war with the Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region thanks to Turkish support.

The information then spoke of Turkey’s efforts to establish several military bases in Azerbaijan, including a base near the Caspian Sea (also overlooked by Iran), which is rich in oil and gas. This may constitute a new and dangerous crisis between Ankara and Moscow, which previously expressed its dismay and rejection of Turkish bases in Azerbaijan in general, which President Erdogan will not care about, who did not care about Russian threats in Syria and Libya, and continued to implement what he had previously planned on the road back to the dreams of the Ottoman Empire.

This (Ottoman) empire had many reasons for entering into 16 fierce wars with the Russian Empire, of which it was defeated in 11. Many see President Putin as the heir of this empire, as Erdogan sees himself as the heir to the Ottoman Empire and its Islamist caliphate, which may make the possible Turkish dialogue, coordination, and cooperation with Kabul after the Taliban control it much easier, even if Turkey is the only Muslim country within NATO that has occupied Afghanistan under the leadership of the United States in 2001. After his meeting with President Biden, on the 14th of last month in Brussels, Erdogan announced that Turkey is ready to send additional forces to Afghanistan to protect the security of Kabul Airport and international facilities, which will be contributed by his ally, Sheikh Tamim, Emir of Qatar, who played and still is, an important role in the American reconciliation with the “Taliban”.

Al-Jazeera was the mouthpiece of the Taliban during its war with the “Great Satan” America, at a time when Osama bin Laden sent his tapes exclusively to the aforementioned channel before and after the American occupation and until his death in May 2011, that is, after the emergence of ISIS, and “Al-Nusra” in Syria and Iraq, which are the arenas for America and its new allies to settle scores with the resistance countries and for “Israel”.

All this explains the new US military position in Jordan, adjacent to Syria, Iraq, and “Israel”, after Washington transferred some of its forces from Qatar, where the Al-Udeid base is still located, which is the most important US base in the region. This base was and will remain, the headquarters of the Central Command of the US Air Force in the Middle East, and it houses 100 warplanes used by US forces against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

In all cases, and whatever the result of the Turkish moves in Afghanistan, through it in the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and all the countries that overlook them or close to them, it has become clear that the Turkish President was, and will remain, a source of concern for President Putin, especially if Ankara succeeds in its relationship with the Taliban. Everyone was surprised by its (Taliban) agreement with President Erdogan, who declared himself “the protector of Islam and Muslims.”

In turn, the Taliban leaders, with Qatari mediation, might consider cooperating with him, especially if he proves his authority in the Central Asian republics of Turkish origin, an authority that the late President Turgut Ozal sought after fall and disintegration of the Soviet Union. Erdogan sees himself as Ozal’s successor and before him Adnan Menderes, who made Turkey “a fish on American hook” for the period 1950-1960.

Erdogan and others did not ignore the strategic location of Afghanistan, which is rich in gold, iron, cobalt, copper, uranium, and rare minerals, including niobium and molybdenum, which are invested by Chinese companies that control the extraction and export of most of the world’s rare minerals everyone needs in sensitive industries, including warplanes and missiles.

In the end, the bet remains on the possible policies of the Taliban. If they remain on their approach as they were 20 years ago, history will repeat itself, and everyone will return to their interests in the extremist Islamist movements that have become more famous for their brutality after the so-called “Arab Spring,” especially in Syria. Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and the extension of these countries in Africa, the Middle East, Bahrain, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, and the Gulf region.

Erdogan has proven that he has a long experience in all of them after he succeeded in establishing and developing distinguished relations with all Islamist movements, both political and armed, many of whose leaders had previously been present and fought in Afghanistan. These leaders had a relationship with “Al-Qaeda”, and later “Taliban”, which seems clear that, with its next actions, it will decide the fate and future of Afghanistan, and all its neighboring countries as well, most of which are within the borders of Russia’s backyard.

This may be the “hidden satanic” reason for Washington’s decision to withdraw, which wants Russia to afflict Afghanistan again as it afflicted it during the Soviet occupation, and Turkey was at the time on the neutral, but this time it will be a direct party, as is the case on many fronts, which it proved with the transfer of mercenaries from Syria to Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh. Now, some expect it to transfer their likes to Afghanistan, which is what America might do by transferring what it has of ISIS detainees in Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan!

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Top Rabbi: America is Collapsing, Israel must Step Up as new World Superpower

Rabbi Eliyahu

June 30, 2021

https://www.israel365news.com/164050/top-rabbi-america-is-collapsing-israel-must-step-up-as-new-world-superpower/

One of Israel’s most respected rabbis, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, has released a statement on the status of America as a waning world superpower and a message of hope for Israel to fill the void. Rabbi Eliyahu is the Chief Rabbi of Safed and a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council

The big crisis that is currently happening in America

Regarding the outcome of the US elections, Rabbi Eliyahu explains that the schism is deeper than last week’s incident on Capitol Hill saying: “The big crisis that is currently happening in America didn’t start with the storming of Capitol Hill. It started with the Democratic party’s’ lack of confidence in Trump’s presidency expressed in fiery protests across the United States, and his being labeled in every possible derogatory manner.”

The rabbi added that the lack of Republican trust in America’s election process also contributes to the crisis.

“With tremendous sorrow we can recall this event as part of the process of the US descending from the stage of world history. It’s a sad moment, but it’s happening.”

Pharaoh fell too

Recalling the fall of ancient Egypt, the rabbi uses historic precedent to back up his claim saying: “This is not the first time a superpower fell because of a crisis of values and returns to being an ordinary country among other nations. That is what happened to Egypt and Rome in the old days. That is what happened to the Ottoman Empire approximately a century ago, all the way to the Russian Empire that collapsed 30 years ago, both of whom collapsed due to a failure of values that led to their demise as well as a decline in their great power as world leaders.”

Rabbi Eliyahu also recalled the collapse of France and Great Britain who were once “considered part of the four powers that rule the world,” He added that they collapsed just as Europe as a whole is collapsing because of values…or lack thereof.

Values of political correctness

“The values ​​of justice were replaced with those of political correctness. The family values have been replaced with those ​​of hedonism. The birthrate that fell below the red line caused European leaders to open the floodgates to mass Muslim migration that would fill the void, and Europe started to totally lose its character.”

Rabbi Eliyahu sees the developments unfolding as an opportunity for Israel to step up and take America’s place as the world superpower. He supports his proposition by calling Israel a world leader in family values saying: “We’ve been called upon to fill this vacuum. There are problems inside the State of Israel as well, but unlike Europe, Israel leads the world in the stability of family values. The average amount of children per Israeli woman is double the average of the Western world, and this is what propels Israel’s economy and creativity forward. Israel also leads the globe in the least amount of children from single mothers.”

Regarding a potential insurrection, Rabbi Eliyahu refers to the destruction of the second Temple as evidence that a similar situation cannot reoccur saying “As far as governmental stability is concerned, we are not similar in any way. There cannot be an antigovernmental revolution in Israel. With all the allegations we have regarding this and that corruption in the system of government, none of us have aspirations of a military revolt. We all recall the heavy price of the destruction of the 2nd Temple and it can’t be repeated.”

The rabbi also said that because Israel trails the western world in alcohol and drug consumption.

Not Pretentious, but Torah

Acknowledging that his proclamation could come across as condescending, the rabbi explains that it’s all part of God’s plan saying:  “Israel is stable and is called upon to take its place as a world leader in values. I realize that to many people this sounds very pretentious, but this is the template that G-d promised our forefather Abraham.”

And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you (Genesis 12:3)

Reflecting on the Jewish people who he says don’t recognize the opportunity, the Rabbi notes: “The only ones who do not see this is us, and the time has come for us to recall our destiny. We need to prepare for it so that we can fulfill it with all the necessary responsibilities and not make the mistakes that they made.”

إردوغان يتّفق مع بايدن.. جيشنا إلى أفغانستان

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باحث علاقات دولية ومختصص بالشأن التركي

26 June 2021

حسني محلي

المصدر: الميادين نت

يبدو أنَّ بايدن لن يستعجل في حسم ملف تركيا ما دام يشك في أجندات إردوغان الخاصة لإحياء ذكريات الخلافة والسلطنة العثمانية.

حديث إردوغان عن ضرورة إشراك باكستان في المهمة العسكرية التركية يهدف إلى كسب ود “طالبان”.

مع بدايات الحرب الباردة وتشكيل الحلف الأطلسي في نيسان/أبريل 1949، استعجلت تركيا في مساعيها للانضمام إلى هذا الحلف لمواجهة الخطر السوفياتي الشيوعي، كما كانت تقول آنذاك. وجاءت الحرب الكورية كفرصة ثمينة بالنسبة إلى أنقرة، التي قرّرت إرسال جيشها للقتال إلى جانب الأميركيين، في محاولة منها لإثبات ولائها للغرب، الذي فتح أبواب الحلف لها في شباط/فبراير 1952، بعد أن ضحَّت بحوالى ألف عسكري من عساكرها في كوريا.

وكان انضمام أنقرة إلى الحلف بداية التحالف الاستراتيجي التركي مع أميركا، التي أصبح لها القول الأول والأخير في مجمل تطورات تركيا الداخلية والخارجية، بعد أن أقامت عشرات القواعد البحرية والجوية والبرية في مختلف أنحاء البلاد، وما زالت تحتفظ بـ12 منها، رغم كلّ حالات الفتور والتوتر بين البلدين خلال الفترات الماضية. 

وجاء “الربيع العربي” كفرصة جديدة لإثبات ولاء أنقرة في ظل حكم حزب العدالة والتنمية لأميركا، التي أرادت تغيير خارطة الجغرافيا العربية بتسليم السلطة في العديد من دولها للإسلاميين، شرط أن يستفيدوا من النموذج التركي. وقد أثبت هذا النموذج فشله بعد إسقاط حكم الإخوان في مصر وصمود الدولة السورية والتناقضات التي عاشتها تركيا، لينتهي الأمر بها بما هي عليه الآن داخلياً وخارجياً.

لم يمنع ذلك أنقرة من الاستمرار في مساعيها لأداء دور أساسي في مجمل تطورات المنطقة، انطلاقاً من سوريا، وهي قفل كلّ المعادلات التركية اللاحقة ومفتاحها، فأرسل الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان قواته إلى العراق وليبيا والصومال وأذربيجان وقطر وألبانيا، إضافة إلى مساهمات تركيا في قوات حفظ السلام في لبنان ومالي وجمهورية أفريقيا الوسطى والبوسنة وكوسوفو. 

كما أرسلت أنقرة جيشها إلى أفغانستان بعد الاحتلال الأميركي لهذا البلد، إذ قال وزير الخارجية كولن باول في تصريح لـ”نيويورك تايمز” في 11 تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر 2001: “إنَّ بعض الدول الإسلامية، وفي مقدّمتها تركيا، عبرت لنا عن استعدادها لإرسال قواتها إلى أفغانستان، للمساهمة في تحقيق الأمن في العاصمة كابول وجوارها”. وتحتفظ تركيا منذ ذلك التاريخ بحوالى ألفي عسكري في أفغانستان، يقومون بحماية مطار كابول، كما يقومون بتدريب عناصر الأمن الأفغاني، في الوقت الذي تنفّذ الشركات التركية مشاريع تنموية فيها. 

وجاء حديث الرئيس إردوغان بعد لقائه الرئيس بايدن عن استعداده لإرسال الجيش التركي وموافقة بايدن على ذلك، ليدفع المعارضة إلى التذكير بتجربة الجيش التركي في كوريا قبل 70 عاماً. وقال فاروق لوغ أوغلو، سفير تركيا السابق في واشنطن، “إن إردوغان، من خلال إرسال الجيش إلى أفغانستان، يسعى إلى كسب ودّ ودعم الرئيس بايدن الذي وصفه بالاستبدادي، وأكد ضرورة التخلص منه”، فيما ذكَّر الجنرال المتقاعد أحمد ياووز بـ”إرسال رئيس الوزراء الأسبق عدنان مندرس الجيش التركي إلى كوريا في بداية الخمسينيات”، وقال: “التاريخ يكرر نفسه. هذه المرة، يرسل إردوغان عساكرنا إلى أفغانستان لحماية المصالح الأميركية، وهو ما فعله في سوريا، وبعد ذلك في ليبيا، فقد زارها وزراء الداخلية والدفاع والخارجية ورئيس الأركان ورئيس المخابرات ومستشارو إردوغان قبل يوم من لقاء بايدن، وذلك إشارة من إردوغان الذي أراد أن يقول لواشنطن إنه على استعداد للتنسيق والتعاون الدائم والشامل مع أميركا في كل المناطق ذات الاهتمام المشترك بما فيها أفغانستان ولاحقاً الصومال ومنطقة الخليج والقوقاز”. 

أما رئيس تحرير قناة “Tele 1” الإخبارية، ماردان ينارداغ، فقد اعتبر “حماس إردوغان لإرسال الجيش التركي إلى أفغانستان جزءاً من أيديولوجيته العقائدية التي طبَّقها بالتحالف مع جميع القوى والفصائل الإسلامية، المسلحة منها وغير المسلحة، في سوريا وليبيا”.

حديث الرئيس إردوغان عن ضرورة إشراك باكستان وهنغاريا في المهمة العسكرية التركية يهدف إلى كسب ود “طالبان” ذات الأصول الباشتونية، فيما يسعى من خلال الحديث عن الرئيس الهنغاري أوروبان (قال إنه من أصول عثمانية) لكسب ودّ الاتحاد الأوروبي ودعمه سياسياً ومالياً، من دون أن نتجاهل علاقات أنقرة منذ فترة مع حركة “طالبان” التي توسّطت قطر (حليف إردوغان) بينها وبين “الشيطان الأكبر” أميركا، التي نسيت أنها هي التي احتلّت أفغانستان، فقد أدت واشنطن ومخابراتها مع باكستان، وبتمويل سعودي وإماراتي، دوراً أساسياً في دعم المجاهدين الأفغان خلال الاحتلال السوفياتي، كما ساهمت في تشكيل “القاعدة”، ومن بعدها حركة “طالبان”، وإيصالها إلى السلطة في أيلول/سبتمبر 1996.

وجاء مقتل أسامة بن لادن في الأول من أيار/مايو 2011 كمؤشر مهم على فتح صفحة جديدة في المخطط الأميركي في المنطقة العربية، إذ حلَّت “داعش” محلّ “القاعدة”، ثم بقيت الساحة لـ”جبهة النصرة” بعد مقتل البغدادي، مع استمرار الصراع على مناطق النفوذ بين القاعدة و”داعش” في أفريقيا، وربما لاحقاً في أفغانستان وآسيا الوسطى، بعد استلام “طالبان” السلطة هناك. 

كل ذلك مع استمرار اهتمام دول الجوار الأفغاني بهذا التغيير المحتمل، إذ تجاور أفغانستان الصين بحوالى 75 كم من الحدود البرية القريبة من منطقة مسلمي الإيغور، والآلاف منهم يقاتلون في سوريا. 

بدورها، تراقب إيران تطوّرات الوضع في أفغانستان، التي تمتدّ حدودها معها إلى حوالى 950 كم، ويعدّ حوالى 15% من سكان أفغانستان من الشيعة. أما الاهتمام الأميركي، وبالتالي الأوروبي، بهذا البلد، فله أبعاد مختلفة، إضافةً إلى موقعه الجغرافي وثرواته المعدنية المختلفة، وأهمها أن 90% من مختلف أنواع المخدرات التي تصل أوروبا وأميركا تأتي منه.

لم تبالِ هذه الدول الغربية بقنابل باكستان النووية، في الوقت الذي تقيم الدنيا وتقعدها على احتمالات امتلاك إيران مثل هذا السلاح الذي قد يهدد “إسرائيل”، بحسب ادعاءات هذه الدول وحلفائها في دول الخليج. ويعرف الجميع أنها تتنافس في ما بينها، ومعها تركيا، لكسب باكستان إلى جانبها، لأنَّ من يكسب هذا البلد، الذي يتميز بحدود بطول 2650 كم مع أفغانستان، يتقدم على الآخرين في كسب موطئ قدم استراتيجي في المنطقة، وهي بوابة الانفتاح على جمهوريات آسيا الوسطى الإسلامية ذات الأصل التركي، وهي أيضاً الحديقة الخلفية لروسيا. 

تراقب روسيا بدورها كلّ التطورات عن كثب، لما لها من ذكريات سيّئة في أفغانستان، كانت كافية لسقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي. ويعرف الجميع أن الرئيس بوتين لن يسمح لأحد بأن يكرر هذه التجربة، مع استمرار أميركا والحلف الأطلسي وحلفائهما في مساعيهما لتضييق الحصار عليها، كما يعرفون أن تركيا هي الحليف الأهم والأكثر تأثيراً في مشاريع واشنطن. وقد كانت في سنوات الحرب الباردة مخفراً متقدّماً للدفاع عن الحلف الأطلسي ضد حلف “وارسو”. 

وقد انضم معظم أعضائه السابقين، باستثناء أوكرانيا وروسيا البيضاء ومولدوفا، إلى الحلف الأطلسي، مع استمرار مساعي الرئيس إردوغان لضم أوكرانيا وجورجيا إلى الحلف. ويرى البعض في ذلك محاولة جديدة من إردوغان، وقد تكون الأخيرة، لإثبات قوته للحليف الأكبر بايدن.

ويبدو أنَّ الأخير لن يستعجل في حسم ملف تركيا، ما دام يشك في أجندات إردوغان الخاصة لإحياء ذكريات الخلافة والسلطنة العثمانية، ولو بتسميات مختلفة يريد لها أن تدغدغ مشاعر أنصاره وأتباعه في الداخل، وبين إسلاميي المنطقة والعالم، وخصوصاً بعد أن أصبح الحاكم المطلق للبلاد، وسيطر على جميع أجهزة الدولة، وأهمها جيش أتاتورك، الذي يريد له أن يتحول إلى جيش انكشاري ينفّذ تعليماته، ويخدم مشاريعه ومخططاته، ولو كان ذلك بخطوة إلى الأمام وخطوتين إلى الوراء! 

On Nasser’s Fight for Arabic Independence and a Free Palestine

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Cynthia Chung

June 15, 2021

Nasser became the catalyst for an Arab Revolution for independence, a revolution that remains yet to be finished, Cynthia Chung writes.

In the 1950s the so-called enemy of the West was not only Moscow but the Third World’s emerging nationalists, from Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt to Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran. The United States and Britain staged a coup d’état against Mossadegh, and used the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist movement and the grandfather organization of the militant Islamic right, in an attempt to remove Nasser, the leader of the Arab nationalists.

In the 1960s, left wing nationalism and Arab socialism spread from Egypt to Algeria to Syria, Iraq and Palestine. This emergence presented a threat to the old imperialist game of Great Britain, to which the United States was a recent recruit of, and thus they decided to forge a working alliance with Saudi Arabia intent on using Wahhabi fundamentalism as their foreign policy arm in the Middle East, along with the Muslim Brotherhood.

This paper will go through the carving up of the Middle East under Sykes-Picot, the British creation of Saudi Arabia and Israel and the British occupation of Palestine, the origin of the Muslim Brotherhood and Nasser’s fight for Arab independence. In a follow-up paper, I will discuss the role of the City of London in facilitating the bankroll of the first Islamic fundamentalist state Saudi Arabia, along with the Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist apparatus.

An “Arab Awakening” Made in Britain

The renunciation will not be easy. Jewish hopes have been raised to such a pitch that the non-fulfilment of the Zionist dream of a Jewish state in Palestine will cause intense disillusionment and bitterness. The manifold proofs of public spirit and of capacity to endure hardships and face danger in the building up of the national home are there to testify to the devotion with which a large section of the Jewish people cherish the Zionist ideal. And it would be an act of further cruelty to the Jews to disappoint those hopes if there existed some way of satisfying them, that did not involve cruelty to another people. But the logic of facts is inexorable. It shows that no room can be made in Palestine for a second nation except by dislodging or exterminating the nation in possession.”

– the concluding paragraph of George Antonius’ “The Arab Awakening” (1938)

Much of what is responsible for the war and havoc in the Middle East today has the British orchestrated so-called “Arab Awakening” to thank, led by characters such as E.G. Browne, St. John Philby, T.E. Lawrence of Arabia, and Gertrude Bell. Although its origins go as far back as the 19th century, it was only until the early 20th century, that the British were able to reap significant results from its long harvest.

The Arab Revolt of 1916-1918, had been, to the detriment of the Arab people, a British led rebellion. The British claimed that their sole interest in the affair was the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire and had given their word that these Arab territories would be freed and allowed independence if they agreed to rebel, in large part led and directed by the British.

It is a rather predictable feature of the British to lie and double cross and thus it should be of no surprise to anyone that their intentions were quite the opposite of what they had promised and thanks to the Sykes-Picot Russian leak, were revealed in their entire shameful glory.

If the Sultan of Turkey were to disappear, then the Caliphate by common consent of Islam would fall to the family of the prophet, Hussein ibn Ali the Sharif of Mecca, a candidate which was approved by the British Cairo office as suitable for British strings. T.E. Lawrence, who worked at the Cairo bureau is quoted as saying:

If the Sultan of Turkey were to disappear, then the Caliphate by common consent of Islam would fall to the family of the prophet, the present representative of which is Hussein, the Sharif of Mecca….If properly handled the Arab States would remain in a state of political mosaic, a tissue of jealous principalities incapable of cohesion…” (1)

Once the Arab Revolt was “won” against the Ottoman Empire, instead of the promised Arab independence, the Middle East was carved up into zones of influence under British and French colonial rule. Puppet monarchies were created in regions that were considered not under direct colonial subjugation in order to continue the illusion that Arabs remained in charge of sacred regions such as Mecca and Medina.

In central Arabia, Hussein, Sharif of Mecca, the puppet leader of the Arab Revolt laid claim to the title Caliph in 1924, which his rival Wahhabite Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud rejected and declared war, defeating the Hashemites. Hussein abdicated and ibn Saud, the favourite of the British India Office, was proclaimed King of Hejaz and Najd in 1926, which led to the founding of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Al Saud warriors of Wahhabism were a formidable strike force that the British believed would help London gain control of the western shores of the Persian Gulf.

Hussein ibn Ali’s son Faisal (under the heavy tutelage of T.E. Lawrence) was bestowed as King of Iraq and Hussein’s other son, Abdullah I was established as the Emir of Transjordan until a negotiated legal separation of Transjordan from Britain’s Palestine mandate occurred in 1946, whereupon he was crowned King of Jordan. (For more on this history refer to my paper.)

While the British were promising Arab independence they simultaneously were promising a homeland in Palestine to the Jews. The Balfour Declaration of November 2nd, 1917 states:

His majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object…

Palestine had been seized by the British during the so-called Arab Revolt on December 11th, 1917 when General Allenby marched into Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate and declared martial law over the city. Palestine has remained occupied ever since.

Britain would receive the mandate over Palestine from the League of Nations in July 1922.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s violent confrontations between Jews and Arabs took place in Palestine costing hundreds of lives. In 1936 a major Arab revolt occurred over 7 months, until diplomatic efforts involving other Arab countries led to a ceasefire. In 1937, a British Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by William Peel concluded that Palestine had two distinct societies with irreconcilable political demands, thus making it necessary to partition the land.

The Arab Higher Committee refused Peel’s “prescription” and the revolt broke out again. This time, Britain responded with a devastatingly heavy hand. Roughly 5,000 Arabs were killed by the British armed forces and police.

Following the riots, the British mandate government dissolved the Arab Higher Committee and declared it an illegal body.

In response to the revolt, the British government issued the White Paper of 1939, which stated that Palestine should be a bi-national state, inhabited by both Arabs and Jews. Due to the international unpopularity of the mandate including within Britain itself, it was organised such that the United Nations would take responsibility for the British initiative and adopted the resolution to partition Palestine on November 29th, 1947. Britain would announce its termination of its Mandate for Palestine on May 15th, 1948 after the State of Israel declared its independence on May 14th, 1948.

The Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood

In 1869, a man named Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, the intellectual founder of the Salafiyya movement, went to India where British led colonial authorities welcomed him with honors and graciously escorted him aboard a government owned vessel on an all expenses paid voyage to the Suez. (2)

In Cairo he was adopted by the Egyptian prime minister Riad Pasha, a notorious enemy of the emerging nationalist movement in Egypt. Pasha persuaded Afghani to stay in Egypt and allowed him to take up residence in Cairo’s 900 year old Al Azhar mosque considered the center of Islamic learning worldwide, where he received lodging and a monthly government stipend (paid for by the British). (3)

In 1879, Cairo nationalists in the Egyptian Army, led by the famous Egyptian hero Ahmed ‘Urabi, organised an uprising against the British role in Egypt. Afghani was expelled from Egypt by the Egyptian nationalists that same year.

Ahmed ‘Urabi served as prime minister of Egypt briefly, from July 1882 to Sept 1882, however, his movement for Egyptian independence was eventually crushed by the British with the shelling of Alexandria in July 1882 followed by an invasion which resulted in a direct British occupation of Egypt that would last until 1956. It would be Gamal Abdel Nasser who would finally end British colonial rule of Egypt during the Suez Crisis, whereupon the Suez canal was nationalised and the British military bases expelled.

While Egypt was fighting its nationalist fight from 1879-1882, Afghani and his chief disciple Muhammad Abduh travelled together first to Paris and then to Britain, it was in Britain that they would make a proposal for a pan-Islamic alliance among Egypt, Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan against Czarist Russia (4).

In addition, the crisis in Sudan, was in the middle of a tribal religious rebellion against the British led by a man named Mohammed Ahmad a Sudanese sheikh who proclaimed himself the Mahdi, or savior, and was leading a puritanical Islamic revolt. (5)

What Afghani was proposing to the British was that they provide aid and resources to support his formation of a militant Islam sect that would favour Britain’s interest in the Middle East, in other words, Afghani wished to fight Islam with Islam, having stated in one of his works “We do not cut the head of religion except by sword of religion.”(6)

Although it is said that the British refused this offer, this is not likely considering the support Afghani would receive in creating the intellectual foundation for a pan-Islamic movement with British patronage and the support of England’s leading orientalist E.G. Browne, the godfather of twentieth century Orientalism and teacher of St John Philby and T.E. Lawrence.

E.G. Browne would make sure the work of Afghani would continue long beyond his death by immortalising him in his 1910 “The Persian Revolution,” considered an authoritative history of the time.

In 1888, Abduh, the chief disciple of Afghani, would return to Egypt in triumph with the full support of the representatives of her Majesty’s imperial force and took the first of several positions in Cairo, openly casting his lot with Lord Cromer, who was the symbol of British imperialism in Egypt.

Abduh would found, with the hold of London’s Egyptian proconsul Evelyn Baring (aka Lord Cromer) who was the scion of the enormously powerful banking clan (Barings Bank) under the city of London, the Salafiyya movement. (7)

Abduh had attached himself to the British rulers of Egypt and created the cornerstone of the Muslim Brotherhood which dominated the militant Islamic right throughout the twentieth century.

In 1899, Abduh reached the pinnacle of his power and influence, and was named mufti of Egypt.

***

In 1902, Riyadh fell to Ibn Saud and it was during this period that Ibn Saud established the fearsome Ikhwan (translated as “brotherhood”). He collected fighters from Bedouin tribes firing them up with fanatical religious zeal and threw them into battle. By 1912 the Ikhwan numbered 11,000 and Ibn Saud had both central Arabia’s Nejd and Al-Ahsa in the east under his control.

From the 1920s onward, the new Saudi state merged its Wahhabi orthodoxy with the Salafiyya movement (which would be organised into the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928).

William Shakespear, a famed British agent, forged the first formal treaty between England and Saudi Arabia which was signed in 1915, which bound London and Arabia for years before Saudi Arabia became a country. “It formally recognized Ibn Saud as the independent ruler of the Nejd and its Dependencies under British protection. In return, Ibn Saud undertook to follow British advice.” (8)

Harry St. John Bridger Philby, a British operative schooled by E.G. Browne and father to the legendary triple agent Kim Philby, would succeed Shakespear as Great Britain’s liaison to Ibn Saud under the British India Office, the friendly rival of the Cairo Arab Bureau office which was sponsoring T.E. Lawrence of Arabia.

In Egypt 1928, Hassan al-Banna (a follower of Afghani and Abduh) founded the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimeen), the organization that would change the course of history in the twentieth century Middle East.

Banna’s Muslim Brotherhood was established with a grant from England’s Suez Canal Company (9) and from that point on, British diplomats and intelligence service, along with the British puppet King Farouq would use the Muslim Brotherhood as a truncheon against Egypt’s nationalists and later against Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.

To get the Muslim Brotherhood off the ground, the Suez Canal Company helped Banna build the mosque in Ismailia that would serve as its headquarters and base of operation. (10) The fact that Banna created the organization in Ismailia is itself worthy of note. For England, the Suez Canal was the indispensable route to its prize possession, India and in 1928 the town Ismailia happened to house not only the company’s offices but a major British military base built during WWI. It was also, in the 1920s a center of pro-British sentiment in Egypt.

In the post-WWI world, England reigned supreme, the flag of the British empire was everywhere from the Mediterranean to India. A new generation of kings and potentates ruled over British dominated colonies, mandates, vassal states, and semi-independent fiefdoms in Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan, Arabia and Persia. To varying degrees those monarchies were beholden to London.

In the half century between 1875 and 1925 the building blocks of the militant Islamic right were cemented in place by the British Empire.

Nasser Leads the Fight for Arab Independence

In 1942, the Muslim Brotherhood would earn their well-deserved reputation for extremism and violence by establishing the “Secret Apparatus,” an intelligence service and secret terrorist unit. This clandestine unit functioned for over twelve years almost entirely unchecked, assassinating judges, police officers, government officials and engaging in goon squad attacks on labor unions and communists.

Throughout this period the Muslim Brotherhood worked for the most part in an alliance with King Farouq (and thus the British), using their clandestine forces on behalf of British interests. And throughout its entire existence it would receive political support and money from the Saudi royal family and the Wahhabi establishment (more on this in part 2 of this series).

The Secret Apparatus would be smashed into pieces by Nasser in 1954.

After WWII, the faltering Farouq regime lashed out against the left in an intense campaign of repression aimed at the communists. The Cold War was beginning. In 1946, prime minister Isma’il Sidqi of Egypt who was installed as head of the government with the support of Banna, openly funded the Muslim Brotherhood and provided training camps for its shock troops used in a sweeping anti-left campaign. Sidqi resigned in Dec 1946 after less than one year as PM due to massive unpopularity.

As King Farouq began to lose his grip on the Egyptian people, the Brotherhood distanced itself while maintaining shadowy ties to the army and to foreign intelligence agencies and always opposed to the left.

The Palestine War (1947-1949) resulted in the establishment of the State of Israel at the cost of 700,000 displaced Palestinian Arabs and the destruction of most of their urban areas.

The territory that was under British administration before the war was divided between the State of Israel (officially formed May 14th, 1948), which captured about 78% of it. In opposition to Israel, the Kingdom of Jordan captured and later annexed the West Bank, and Egypt captured the Gaza Strip, with the Arab League establishing the All-Palestine Government, which came to an end in June 1967 when the Gaza Strip, along with the West Bank, were captured by Israel in the Six-Day War.

The Egyptian people were furious over these developments, and the reign of British puppet King Farouq who had done nothing to prevent the dismantling of Palestine was on extremely shaky ground. In response to this, Farouq’s accord with the Muslim Brotherhood broke down, and in December 1948, the Egyptian government outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood. Weeks later a Brotherhood assassin murdered prime minister Mahmoud El Nokrashy.

Two months later, in Feb. 1949, Banna was assassinated in Cairo by the Egyptian secret police.

For Arab nationalists, Israel was a symbol of Arab weakness and semi-colonial subjugation, overseen by proxy kings in Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.

On the night of July 23, 1952, the Free Officers, led by Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser, staged a military coup that launched the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, overthrowing the British puppet monarch. The Free Officers, knowing that warrants had been issued for their arrest, launched the coup that night, storming the staff headquarters in Cairo.

Cairo was now, for the first time, under the control of the Arab people after over 70 years of British occupation.

The seizure of power by the Free Officers in Egypt came during an era when the entire Arab world from Morocco to Iraq was locked in the grip of imperialism. Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia were French colonies; Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE, Oman and Yemen were British colonies. Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia were kingdoms ruled by monarchies installed by London. And Egypt under King Farouq was the political and economic center of the Arab world.

A growing surge of Arab nationalism arose in response to the Free Officers’ actions in Egypt. The powerful Voice of the Arabs radio in Cairo was reporting to the entire Arab world that they had found their independence movement, and that Nasser was at its helm.

From 1956 to 1958 Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon underwent rebellions, Iraq’s king was toppled, and Syria united with Egypt in Nasser’s United Arab Republic, part of Nasser’s strategy to unify the Arab world.

In Algeria, moral and material support was given from Cairo towards the Algerian revolution that finally won them independence from French colonial rule in 1962.

That same year, Yemen underwent a Nasser-inspired revolt, triggering a proxy war pitting Saudi Arabia against Egypt, with Nasser stating in a 1962 speech, “Yemen’s fight is my fight. Yemen’s Revolution is our Revolution.”

Nasser’s leadership and the inspiration he stirred were so strong that even as late as 1969 the year before Nasser’s death, Libya’s king was overthrown and Sudan’s right-wing regime was eliminated by military leaders loyal to Nasser.

Nasser had managed to threaten the very heart of Anglo-America’s post-WWII strategy in the Middle East. Nasser understood, that if the vast oil fields in Saudi Arabia were under Arab control, the potential for an economic boom would be enormous for all Arab states, such that the old game of imperialism by Britain and France could no longer retain its chokehold on Arab independence.

Not only was Egypt a military rival to Saudi Arabia, not only did Cairo clash with Riyadh in a shooting war in Yemen, not only did Nasser inspire Arabs in Saudi Arabia with republican ideals but the Egyptian leader even won over some of Saudi Arabia’s royal family. This group was led by Prince Talal to form the ‘Free Princes’, which defected to Egypt demanding the establishment of a republic in Saudi Arabia!

What was really going on during the period of 1954 to 1970, under Nasser’s leadership, was a war between two competing visions for the future of the Middle East; an Arab world of independent but cooperative Arab republics utilising their natural resources to facilitate an economic boom in industrialisation vs a semi-feudal scattering of monarchies with their natural resources largely at the West’s disposal.

The real reason why the British and Anglo Americans wanted Nasser removed, was not because he was a communist or because he was susceptible to communist influence; it was because he refused to obey his would-be foreign controllers and was rather successful in this endeavour, bringing their shadowy actions uncomfortably close to the light and inspiring loyalty amongst Arabs outside of Egypt including those sitting on top of the oil.

What especially worried London and Washington was the idea that Nasser might succeed in his plan to unify Egypt and Saudi Arabia thus creating a major Arab power. Nasser believed that these oil wells were not only for the government of those territories to do with as they wished but belonged to all Arab people and thus should be used for the advancement of the Arab world. Afterall, most Arabs are aware that both the monarchies themselves and the artificial borders that demarcate their states, were designed by imperialists seeking to build fences around oil wells in the 1920s.

Nasser understood that if Cairo and Riyadh were to unite in a common cause for the uplifting of the Arab people, it would create a vastly important new Arab center of gravity with worldwide influence.

In 1954 Egypt and the United Kingdom had signed an agreement over the Suez Canal and British military basing rights. It was a short lived. By 1956 Great Britain, France and Israel concocted a plot against Egypt aimed at toppling Nasser and seizing control of the Suez Canal, a conspiracy that enlisted the Muslim Brotherhood.

In fact, the British went so far as to hold secret meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood in Geneva. According to author Stephen Dorrill, two British intelligence agents Col. Neil McLean and Julian Amery, helped MI6 organize a clandestine anti-Nasser opposition in the south of France and in Switzerland, (11) in his book he writes “They also went so far as to make contact in Geneva…with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, informing only MI6 of this demarche which they kept secret from the rest of the Suez Group [which was planning the military operation via its British bases by the Suez Canal]. Amery forwarded various names to [Selwyn] Lloyd, [the British foreign secretary].”

British prime minister Anthony Eden, Churchill’s handpicked successor, was violently anti-Nasser all along and considered a British coup d’état in Cairo as early as 1953. Other than such brash actions, the only political force that could mount a challenge to Nasser was the Muslim Brotherhood which had hundreds of thousands of followers.

Nasser’s long postponed showdown with the Muslim Brotherhood occurred in 1954, this was timed to add pressure during the rising frustration concerning the British-Egyptian negotiations over the transfer of the Suez Canal and its military bases to Egypt. The British, after over 70 years of direct occupation in Egypt, were not going to give up on one of their most prized jewels, their gateway to the Orient, so easily.

From 1954 on, Anthony Eden, the British prime minister was demanding Nasser’s head. According to Stephen Dorrill’s “MI6: Fifty Years of Special Operations”, Eden had ranted “What’s all this nonsense about isolating Nasser or ‘neutralising’ him, as you call it? I want him destroyed, can’t you understand? I want him murdered…And I don’t give a damn if there’s anarchy and chaos in Egypt.”

Nasser would not back down, and in the first few months of 1954 the Muslim Brotherhood and Nasser went to war, culminating in Nasser outlawing them as a terrorist group and a pawn of the British.

On Oct. 1954, a Muslim Brotherhood member Mahmoud Abdel-Latif attempted to assassinate Nasser while he was delivering a speech in Alexandria, which was live broadcasting to the Arab world by radio, to celebrate the British military withdrawal.

Panic broke out in the mass audience, but Nasser maintained his posture and raised his voice to appeal for calm, and with great emotion he exclaimed the following:

My countrymen, my blood spills for you and for Egypt. I will live for your sake and die for the sake of your freedom and honor. Let them kill me; it does not concern me so long as I have instilled pride, honor, and freedom in you.”

The crowd roared in approval and Arab audiences were electrified. The assassination attempt backfired, and quickly played back into Nasser’s hands. Upon returning to Cairo, he ordered one of the largest political crackdowns in the modern history of Egypt, with the arrests of thousands of dissenters, mostly members of the Brotherhood.

The decree banning the Muslim Brotherhood organization said “The revolution will never allow reactionary corruption to recur in the name of religion.” (12)

In 1967, there was a Six-Day War between Israel and the Arab states Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq, which was started by Israel in a coordinated aerial attack on Egypt, eliminating roughly 90% of Egyptian air forces that were still on the ground, followed by an aerial attack on Jordan, Syria and Iraq. Israel then went on to conduct a ground attack with tanks and infantry, devastating whole Arab regions.

Despite the disastrous loss to Israel, the people of Egypt refused to accept Nasser’s resignation and took to the streets in a mass demonstration calling for Nasser’s return. Nasser accepted the call of the people and returned to his position as president where he remained as until his death in Sept 1970.

Five million people turned out on the streets of Egypt for Nasser’s funeral, and hundreds of millions more mourned his death throughout the world.

Although Nasser had devastatingly lost a battle, the Egyptian people along with their Arab compatriots understood that the fight for Arab independence was not lost. The dream of dignity and freedom, in forever opposition to the shackles of tyranny could not be buried now that it had been stirred to its very core. Nasser would be the catalyst for an Arab Revolution for independence, a revolution that remains yet to be finished.

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Cynthia CHUNG

Cynthia Chung is a lecturer, writer and co-founder and editor of the Rising Tide Foundation (Montreal, Canada).

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So what if the Ottomans shaped the modern world?

So what if the Ottomans shaped the modern world?

May 15, 2021

Erdogan is mesmerized by Calilph Selim but, unlike Machiavelli, he doesn’t fear him; he wants to emulate him

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

Once upon a time in Anatolia, in the late 13th century a Turkic principality – one of many shaped in the wake of the Mongol invasion of the 1240s – consigned the Seljuk Turks to the past and emerged as the Ottoman emirate. It was named after its founder, Osman I.

By the middle of the 15th century, the time of the game-changing conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmet II, the expanding Ottoman empire had absorbed virtually all its neighboring Turkic emirates.

And by the start of the 16th century, what sprang up was a multi-religious and multi-ethnic empire that – pragmatic and tolerant – ruled for four centuries over the Balkans, Anatolia and Southwest Asia.

Talk about a major historical riddle: How did a small principality in the western fringe of what used to be known as Asia Minor turn into what could arguably be defined as Islam’s most important empire? The key to unlocking the riddle may be offered by Sultan Selim I.

God’s Shadow, which in its original English edition (Faber & Faber) is subtitled The Ottoman Sultan Who Shaped the Modern World, may reveal that author Alan Mikhail, chair of the Department of History at Yale, is uniquely qualified to argue the case.

Mehmet II, who with his endless obsession and cunning extinguished the Byzantine empire on the fateful May 29, 1453, when he was only 21, was a larger-than-life figure for peoples of the Mediterranean, the Balkans and Asia Minor.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Left) during an April 17, 2017, visit to the tomb of Yavuz Sultan Selim, a sultan of the former Ottoman Empire 1512-1520, in Istanbul, a day after Erdogan’s victory in a national referendum. Photo : AFP / Yasin Bulbul / Turkish Presidential Press Office

He bridged Europe and Asia. He refashioned Constantinople, renamed Istanbul, into the capital of the sprawling empire. He lorded over the silk roads from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. The Fatih (“Conqueror”) assumed mythical proportions east and west – and even branded himself Caesar, heir to Byzantine emperors.

Mehmet II conquered the Balkans in the 1460s, finished off with Genoese trading colonies in Crimea and imposed vassalage over the Crimean Tatar Khanate in 1478. That meant, in practice, turning the Black Sea into a virtual Ottoman lake.

Author Mikhail stresses right at the start that the Ottoman Empire was the most powerful state on earth – more powerful than the Ming dynasty, not to mention the Safavids – for quite some time. It was the largest empire in the Mediterranean since ancient Rome and “the most enduring” in the history of Islam.

Then he sets the crux of the – explosive – thesis he will develop in detail: “It was the Ottoman monopoly of trade routes with the East, combined with their military prowess on land and on sea, that pushed Spain and Portugal out of the Mediterranean, forcing merchants and sailors from these 15th-century kingdoms to become global explorers as they risked treacherous voyages across oceans and around continents – all to avoid the Ottomans.”

This thesis will be extremely unpalatable to a hegemonic (at least for the past 150 years) West, now confronted with its turbulent decline. Mikhail does his best to show how, “from China to Mexico, the Ottoman empire shaped the known world at the turn of the 16th century.”

Obviously ideological, military and economic competition with the Spanish and Italian states – and then Russia, China and other Islamic states – was no holds barred. Still, Mikhail relishes showing how Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Montezuma, Luther, Tamerlan – one and all “calibrated their actions and defined their very existence in reaction to the reach and grasp of Ottoman power.”

Christopher Columbus taking leave of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon before setting out on his first voyage to the New World, August 8, 1492. Photo: AFP / Ann Ronan Picture Library

Geoeconomic superpower

It takes a lot of balls for a historian employed by an elite American university to offer a self-described “revolutionary” narrative on the role of Islam and the Ottomans in shaping not only the Old World, but also the New World. Mikhail is fully aware of how this will come as “a bitter pill for many in the West.”

Exit Muslims as the “terrorist.” Exit “the rise of the West.” Enter the Ottomans as a civilizing power. Mikhail is adamant: The practice “since the Industrial Revolution and the so-called glories of the 19th century” of stretching European primacy back to Columbus “is a historical absurdity.” The Ottoman empire “struck fear into the world for centuries before it earned its derogatory 19th-century sobriquet, ‘the sick man of Europe.’”

The fact is that, for all its setbacks, the Ottoman Empire – in over 600 years of history – remained the hegemon in the Middle East and one of the most important states in Europe, Africa and Asia until World War I. From 1453 up to the 19th century, the Ottomans remained “at the center of global politics, economics and war.”

Just imagine. Ottoman armies ruled over vast swaths of Europe, Africa and Asia; the most crucial Silk and non-Silk trade corridors; key city hubs along the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. They ruled over Damascus, Istanbul, Cairo, Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina. That’s a long way from their humble beginnings as sheepherders in desolate trails across Central Asia.

And then there’s the ultimate badass: Sultan Selim.

Mikhail spends a great deal of his narrative carefully setting the stage for the eruption of the quintessentially Machiavellian Selim, even before he became Sultan in 1512. Still in Trabzon, in the Black Sea, as provincial governor, consolidating the imperial forces in the East, by 1492 Selim was fully aware how the alliance between Istanbul and Cairo conditioned European trade in what US neo-cons not long ago called the “Greater Middle East.”

The Ottomans and the Mamluks – whom Selim would later destroy as Sultan – controlled all access to the East from the Mediterranean. This geoeconomic fact by itself destroys the fable of European ascendancy during the Renaissance and the much-lauded “Age of Exploration”; it was all about Ottoman control of trade and commerce.

If anyone in Europe wanted to trade with China and India, they would have to adjust to the Ottoman’s “my way or the highway.” The Venetians tried, and it didn’t work. Genoese Columbus went full highway. Mikhail relishes nothing more than showing how the voyages of Columbus, in so many ways, “were a response to the power of the Ottomans.” They were “the political force that shaped Columbus and his generation more than any other.”

Things get positively heavy metal when Columbus is depicted as a Christian jihadi, as “he used the notion of a global civilizational war between Christendom and Islam to push his case for the Atlantic voyage.” Queen Isabella ended up buying it.

And then it all went downhill, in a literally bloody way, as “the vocabulary of war with Islam became the language of the Spanish conquest in the Americas.” The West conveniently forgets that all indigenous peoples were required (Mikhail’s own italics) to acknowledge that the Catholic Church was the universal power and that their own belief systems were absolutely inferior.

From Selim to Erdogan

Machiavelli was a huge fan of the Ottomans, whom he admired and feared. He was particularly impressed by Selim’s strategic acumen, always prevailing over nearly impossible odds. Machiavelli finished The Prince in the exact same year – 1513 – when Selim eliminated his half-brothers to finally secure the Sultanate, which he had conquered in 1512.

Selim started with a bang – with no less than an economic blockade against the Safavids, outlawing the export of Persian silk from the Ottoman empire. (That trade had been how the Iranians reached the Eastern Mediterranean and the lucrative European markets.

Selim casually hanging out with crocodiles in Egypt. Photo: Miniature included in the book

Selim casually hanging out with crocodiles in Egypt. Photo: Miniature included in the book

Selim’s victory over the Safavids in the Battle of Chaldiran was intertwined with something immensely eventful; the Portuguese capture of ultra-strategic Hormuz in 1515. That was the first European possession in the Persian Gulf. And what a prize: The Portuguese would now have control over shipping to and from the Persian Gulf, as well as a key hub linking to their new colonies on India’s west coast.

After the battle between Christians and Muslims crossed the Atlantic, the stage was set for the next chapter: Ottomans and Portuguese fighting for global power in the Indian Ocean.

Selim was on a roll. First he took Syria – incorporating legendary Damascus and Aleppo. Then he smashed the Mamluks – and that meant not only Cairo but also Jerusalem, Mecca, Medina and even Yemen, with its strategic access to the Indian Ocean and infinite possibilities for Ottoman commerce, starting with a monopoly on the silk trade.

The Selim Sultanate lasted only 8 years, from 1512 to 1520 – with geopolitical tectonic plates moving non-stop. Luther plunged Christianity into a religious civil war. The Ottomans controlled more territory around the Mediterranean than any other power. The European imperial drive hit the Indian Ocean. And then there was the ultimate theological challenge presented by the ultimate Other: Native Americans, north and south. They could not possibly be part of “God’s creation.”

When he died in 1520, Selim – sultan and also caliph – thought that being the ruler of the world’s largest empire was a given. He was, indeed, “God’s shadow on Earth.”

By the end of the last chapter in the book, “American Selim,” Mikhail again tackles the most burning question: why (his italics) Columbus had to cross the Atlantic. In a nutshell: “Hoping for an alliance with the Grand Khan of the East, he aimed to retake Jerusalem and destroy Islam; more prosaically, his voyages promised an end-run around the trade monopolies of the Ottomans and the Mamluks.”

After Columbus arrived in the Americas, Europeans inevitably filtered their experiences “through the lens of their wars with Muslims” and engaged “in a new version of their very old Crusades, a new kind of Catholic jihad.” Nevertheless, “Islam would continue to forge the histories of both Europe and the New World and the relationship between the two.”

After so much drama, Mikhail and the book’s editors still manage to present an outstanding image in the next before the last page: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ceremoniously staring at Selim’s tomb in Istanbul in 2017, after winning a constitutional referendum that expanded his powers enormously.

Like Machiavelli, Erdogan is mesmerized by Selim. But, unlike Machiavelli, he does not fear him; he wants to emulate him. What – weaponized – imperial dreams still lurk in the mind of the neo-Ottoman sultan?

Israeli Apartheid Confirmed

13 May 2021

About me

by Lawrence Davidson 

Part I—The Question Of Apartheid 

It was perhaps 6 or 7 years ago. I was part of a panel, debating on Israel and the Palestinians, that took place at a local (West Chester, Pa) Quaker Friends school. The school had such debates regularly until the administration caved-in to pressure from the Zionist parents of a number of Jewish students. One of these parents debated for the Israeli side. 

This particular event came to mind upon my seeing the latest Human Rights Watch (HRW) report conclusively laying out the apartheid nature of Israel. Here is the connection: just before the debate was to begin the participating Zionist parent tried to make a command decision. No one was to use the term apartheid in reference to Israel. This was because the assertion was, according to him, obviously nonsense. 

I remember at the time thinking, who gave him the right to define the terms of the debate? As it turned out, and this is quite often the case, those supporting the Palestinians knew twice as much history as did the Zionists, and could call upon twice as many facts and examples. Apartheid Israel was shown to be a matter of fact rather than nonsense. I am convinced that Zionist pressure on the school to end future debates was motivated by the additional fact that those supporting the Palestinians so readily won. 

I have run into many other cases like this. The Zionists would debate for a while, but upon realizing that they could not prevail, they opted for enforced silence—that is, attempting to deny their opposition a stage and eventually labelling them anti-Semites. I often wonder if that Zionist parent who did the one-time debate at the Friends school, ever did face the fact that he was wrong about Israel and apartheid. Not because we said he was wrong. He would never have taken our word for it despite the evidence we had at hand. Rather, because an ever greater number of humanitarian organizations, of which HRW is one, journalists and research institutions have thoroughly and repeatedly laid out the facts that make it so. To this one may now add the charge of “medical apartheid.”

And none of us could forget the ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing if most of us were actually informed of the process.

Amidst the predictable resumption of mass resistance from Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, The Human Rights Watch report confirming Israeli Apartheid presents the seminal context for what we now witness. 

Part II—Human Rights Watch’s 2021 Report

Here is part of the opening pages of the HRW report:

—“About 6.8 million Jewish Israelis and 6.8 million Palestinians live today between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River. Throughout most of this area, Israel is the sole governing power; in the remainder, it exercises primary authority alongside limited Palestinian self-rule.”

—“Across these areas and in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy. In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

—“The prohibition of institutionalized discrimination, especially on grounds of race or ethnicity, constitutes one of the fundamental elements of international law … [over which] the International Criminal Court has the power to prosecute …when national authorities are unable or unwilling to pursue them.”

The report goes on to definitively prove its allegations in 213 pages of depressing detail—all laid out like a damning legal writ. Nor, as suggested above, is this the first time the apartheid nature of Israel been demonstrated. The HRW document was preceded by 16 March 2017 report submitted by UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia demonstrating Israel’s apartheid nature. Though the report was accurate, the UN Secretary General disavowed it under pressure from the United States and Israel. In May of 2018 a

thorough examination appeared entitled Apartheid Israel, by the journalist Jonathan Cook. This was published by Americans for Middle East Understanding in their journal, The Link (April/May 2018). More recently, a 21 January 2021 report by B’Tselem, Israel’s own premier human rights organization, entitled “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid,” proved particularly revealing. One should also take a look at the Israeli Apartheid Factsheet, published 12 January 2021 online, by War On Want. 

The Israeli government dismisses all of these fact-based reports as propaganda. This sets up a question of what is real—one that can be readily resolved, one way or another, through objective outside observers. Unfortunately, Israeli behavior over the past decades has shown that, unless you agree with the Zionist interpretation of events, Israel does not consider you objective. Thus, the HRW representative, and many others as well, have been banned from entering the country. This sort of reaction is not just an Israeli tactic. It is typical of countries in the process of undermining the rule of law and destroying human rights. In a very real way, the charge of “it is all, in this case, anti-Semitic propaganda” is itself a form of propaganda design to shut done critics. 

Part III—The Zionist Rationale

The Zionists consistently say that Israel exists to save world Jewry from persecution—from the constant threat of anti-Semitism and another Holocaust. Many still believe this is true and some of a liberal orientation now resort to this rationale to undermine the HRW report. They charge that it will cause the current wave of anti-Semitism to gain greater traction. Such greater traction always leads to a greater fear of another Holocaust. And this fear will only make the Zionists and Israelis dig in their heels. And indeed, the cries of anti-Semitism and Holocaust has always created a smokescreen behind which can be hidden all Israeli sins. Has anyone ever considered that Israel’s abominable behavior, always committed in the name of the community of worldwide Jewry, is itself a major cause of growing anti-Semitism? 

While Zionism might have started out as a strategy to save the Jews, Israel and the Zionists are no longer in the saving business. In point of fact, various Israeli authorities are constantly bickering about who is or isn’t Jewish. What they are now about is the business of national glorification and expansion—carried on in the old 19th century style of racist imperialism. In this effort the Palestinians are the major victims, but all Jews are, if you will, collateral damage. They become denigrated by the behavior of a brutalizing racist regime that simply declares itself acting in their name.

In the process another truth is also brought low—the fact that means ultimately shape ends. And here is the irony of it all: the outcome of apartheid that is now playing itself out in “greater Israel” was all but predetermined by the nature and behavior of Zionism itself.

Part IV—The Predetermined Nature Of Israeli Apartheid

Here are some of the steps and decisions that made today’s apartheid Israel inevitable:

—The aim of the Zionist movement was to found an exclusively Jewish state. Most of the early Zionists were European Jews searching for a way to escape centuries of anti-Semitism. Living in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, their reference point was the ethnically homogeneous nation state. Soon they convinced themselves that Jews could only escape anti-Semitic persecution if they had their own nation state. 

—By the beginning of the 20th century the Zionists had focused on Palestine as their future political, religious, and cultural nation state. This was due to the land’s biblical associations—and despite the fact that many Zionists were of a secular rather than religious orientation. In 1917, they made an alliance with the British government to rally Jewish support for the British war effort in World War I (WWI) in exchange for British support of a “Jewish national home” in Palestine. This alliance was spelled out in the Balfour Declaration.

—Soon thereafter, the British took Palestine from the Ottoman Turks (the Turks were allies of the Germans in WWI). They then allowed Zionist organized immigration to commence. The British told the Palestinian Arabs that Zionist investment would raise the living standards of the land’s non-Jewish residents. In the meantime, the Zionists discouraged any cooperative interaction with the Palestinian Arabs. This was particularly true when it came to use of Arab labor. Jews who had Arab employees were forcefully pressured to replace them with Jewish immigrants.

Between 1914 and 1947 both the Arab and Jewish population of Palestine grew. However, Jewish numbers, even though consistently bolstered by Zionist inspired immigration, were never more than 32% of the total population.

—Given Zionist ambitions and the demographics, the question can be asked, just how they could create a state for one group alone in a land where that favored group was a distinct minority? There were only three direct ways: (1) devising a method to get the Arab majority to move out of the country. (2) creating an unequal political and economic system that marginalized the majority, rendering them politically and economically irrelevant. (3) Committing genocide.  

—Both methods 1 and 2 were employed. The first led to the Nakba, the catastrophic removal of some 700,000 Palestinians, during the 1948 war that led to the creation of the State of Israel. Some of these people fled the fighting, but many were forced out at gunpoint by Israeli forces. In truth, the Nakba never completely came to an end as the ongoing home demolitions and evictions show. The second method followed in two stages for those Palestinians who would still find themselves under direct Israeli rule: (A) the so-called Palestinian Israelis, today numbering close to 2 million people or roughly 21% of the population of pre-1967 Israel. These Arabs have been given Israeli citizenship—actually second class citizenship. They are segregated from Jewish Israelis by  a host of discriminatory practices, among which are inferior housing, schools, and job opportunities. (B) The Palestinians who fell under Israeli control in 1967 and remain so today. These are the residents of the West Bank, Golan Heights and also the Gaza Strip, numbering roughly 5 million people. Most of these Palestinians have been denied Israeli citizenship. They are under the rule of Israeli military authorities or an allied Palestinian authority under Israeli supervision. Internal travel is made difficult for them, their ability to improve or expand their infrastructure is restricted. They are encroached upon by illegal Israeli settlements and harassed by Israeli settlers. Attempts at self-defense or counterattack are seen by the Israelis as terrorist acts.

—Means shape ends. (1) The nature of Zionist goals: the transformation of Palestine into a nation state for Jews alone, (2) undertaken with a group mentality shaped by a memories of European anti-Semitism, the outlook of racist European imperialism, and finally the trauma of the Holocaust, (3) strongly inclined the Zionists toward tactics that precluded compromise and equity with the indigenous Palestinians. (4) When the Palestinians inevitably resisted the Zionists they were cast as Arab Nazis, an image which justified the brutal tactics (suppression and expulsion) already in use. Finally, having conquered Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, and shying away from a second mass expulsion as long as the world was watching, the Israelis inevitably fell into apartheid to neutralize the 7 million Arabs under their rule.

Part V—Conclusion

Once you have segregated away those you oppress, the average member of the dominant group can proceed with his or her life in comfortable blindness—literarily not seeing their victims, and remaining purposefully ignorant of the deformed situation that sustains their status, security and wealth. As time goes on all aspects of society (education, employment, media, social norms) come to reinforce this condition. This is the situation in today’s Israel. 

The blindspots can extend to Israel’s Zionist supporters in the diaspora, even if they are otherwise progressive liberals. Take the case of the American Jewish progressive  Peter Osnos, who fears the definitive nature of the HRW report. Why so? Because, he believes, “this report—in detail, length and tone—could be the basis for sanctions against Israel.” As the old Jewish idiom goes, “from his mouth to God’s ears.” However, that is an unlikely prospect. Western governments are so committed to Israel—and steeped in the hypocrisy this requires—that they will simply ignore the HRW revelations, as they did the earlier reports.  

Nonetheless, when you strip away all the ideologically-bred magical thinking, rationalizations, and blindspots, what you are left with is the blatant truth: you cannot impose a foreign group of people, seeking exclusive domination, into a land already populated by a different people, and not end up with a discriminatory and abusive system of rule. And if the abusive system persists something akin to apartheid becomes inevitable. So does periodic mass resistance.

“Hagia Sophia” by Sheikh Imran Hosein

May 08, 2021

Russia and the EU; The Ukraine Card

Russia and the EU; The Ukraine Card

April 08, 2021

by Ghassan and Intibah Kadi for the Saker Blog

A tug-of-war game in Europe has been a strong feature of dramatic events in the region and further afield ever since the Roman Empire plus the Church split up. Which was the cause and which was the effect is subject to debate, but the split was much deeper than one that was political; the spiritual aspect of it is not to be overlooked.

The authors are not experts on this aspect of history and will therefore not dwell too much, but it suffices to say that Catholic Easter can come before Passover, even though Jesus celebrated Passover before His Crucifixion. But this anomaly does not happen in the Julian Calendar that the Orthodox Church adheres to till today; and the Orthodox community doesn’t shy away from presenting this contradiction in the Georgian Calendar that Catholicism follows.

But this article is not about the over millennium-and-a-half-old disagreement between the Western and Eastern Churches. It is about the current rift between Russia and Western Europe.

But to what extent does much of the current rift find its roots in religion? No region in the world has in recent times experienced the repercussions of this ancient divide as much as the Balkans when the former federation of Yugoslavia split, on Catholic/Orthodox religious lines, that ironically bear a huge resemblance to the borders between those of the Roman and the Byzantine Empires. The exploitation of potential cracks in the two main spheres of Islam by the Western power-block, along with its useful non-Western allies, is not to be discounted. It is easy to apply a simplistic view of the divide of the East and West upon such criteria alone, but religious difference always plays an important role, albeit psychologically. In Europe, historical factors also include that of the influence of the Ottoman Empire, the conversion of many East Europeans to Islam, divisions within the Western Church resulting in drastic conflicts and, fast forward to the much later phenomenon of the Soviet era and the lasting implications of its legacy in neighbouring countries, then the picture becomes more complex.

No matter what is said by those countries that Russia had influence over in the post-World War II period, there is no excuse for their denial of the fact that that it was Russia, albeit under the banner of the Red Army, that liberated all of Eastern Europe, including former East Germany and all of Berlin from the Nazis. Among the allies in WWII, Russia made the biggest sacrifices, more sacrifices than all of those of the allies combined, losing tens of millions of its people, with estimates reaching up to forty million. No other nation came close to this calamitous human loss; not even Germany itself.

Yet, Russia is denied all of the accolade in winning the fight against Nazi Germany. Was it its communist USSR status that turned it into the underdog in Western written history or, was it its Orthodox heritage juxtaposed to that of a powerful-global reaching Vatican and also a ‘Christian West’, intent on subduing and dominating, all with the trappings of grabbing resources and spoils?

Clearly, Western Europe, no matter what facts on the ground exist, seems intent on expressing, in public at least, an incurable sense of apprehension, mythology and propagation of fiction when it comes to Russia. Add to this a European obedience to the dictates of America and its power-brokers in attempts to cripple Russia with sanctions, an obedience mostly gained through threats of negative consequences and blackmail if not adhered to. Not only is this broad-spectrum demonization, at least publicly, expressed by European politicians and its so-called ‘elites’, but also among most of the population of Western Europe.

One of the authors often uses popular songs of the West and their lyrics to express specific mental mindsets in certain blocks of time and space. In 1980, British musician, Sting, wrote a song titled Russians. It was meant to be a message of peace in which Sting wondered, with obvious sympathetic sarcasm, about the state of anti-Russia propaganda, and whether some people in the West regarded Russians as robotic communist mindless machines and questioned if they loved their children like all other humans. The lyrics exemplify the popular perceptions in the West of the people and nation of Russia, even to the extent that they would ask such a bizarre question about the love of children.

And, despite the changes in Russia since the dismantling of the Soviet Union which is what the West planned for, and the emergence during the Yeltsin period of ‘bandit capitalism’ – as if that doesn’t exist elsewhere- the negative perceptions persisted, and to add to that, a palpable sense of glee at the chaos and collapse occurring in Russia. Some say, Yeltsin was wracked with guilt later on and ensured a leader who could pull the country out of this disaster; Vladimir Putin, tripping up the West’s plan with many future surprises in store. To this day, the eyes of the Western public are re-directed from any ills that their own powers may be involved in and sharply turned towards this convenient ‘bogey-man’. There was no Hollywood spin to show a ‘rehabilitated’ Russia as Putin quickly turned things around after the Yeltsin period, restoring the nation and the Federation to one of healthy self-esteem, pride, strength and a resolve to regain its place in the world, gradually rendering what the West had seen as a great ‘coup’ over Russia, to a victory that backfired.

Those in the West are at a loss to accurately elaborate on the actual cause of the current escalation with Russia and, that is because the facts don’t stack up in their favour in the honesty box when it comes to manufacturing conflict. Their exploitation of any religious divide has to an extent been successful, but more so about ensuring the encircling of Russia with hostile nations or turning around some governments of traditional Orthodox allies. There is no racial based explanation to the escalation and history of it other than Russian culture being generally one of inclusiveness and diversity, something the West has failed in and in fact abused. Russia, an old culture with at least one thousand years of existence in a paradigm of interdependence with diverse cultures and ethnicities, spanning a massive section of the largest continent that reaches the Black, Caspian, Baltic, Bering Seas, those to the north and east, and all the way to the North Pacific Ocean; how can modern day Europe and the West compare to that?

For the old West, Europe, now mostly gathered into the entity known as the EU, their animosity cannot be explained by unresolved issues with the old Soviet Union. Nor can it be based on beliefs of clear and present dangers and threats posed by the existence of Russia. EU leaders are surely cognisant of the fact that it was NATO that broke the agreement between Gorbachev and the West and that NATO incrementally has been intimidating and threatening Russia’s security by positioning missiles in former Warsaw Pact nations, encircling Russia, and long before Russia made any attempts to counteract such measures. EU leaders, for various reasons, put aside reality and rationality and the known fact that peace and stability in Europe can only exist or have any potentiality if it is based on a mutual European understanding that Russia must be included. EU leaders clearly know, but never state it, that it is the USA that is coercing them to make a stand against their own regional and economic interests and to take actions against Russia; not the other way around as stipulated by their national interests as they claim.

When it comes to the crunch, it is the manipulation by America, a power that aimed and succeeded for some decades in creating itself as a unipolar, all-reaching, global power, one which called the shots on anything and everything and had under its control the vanquished nations that lost out in WWII. When Europe organized itself into a union, it became far easier for America to have almost the entire sub-continent under its boot. It could not have achieved this without the demonization of Russia and re-writing of history for the consumption of the West and all under its tutelage. Just like we have witnessed over time with the ‘Empire Wars’, the strategy of co-opting into a hybrid war format Hollywood and all media has played a crucial role in building a world-wide narrative of America as the ‘world policeman’, ‘saviour’ and ‘leader of the free-world’, when in reality it played the role of raider, pirate and predator, sharing spoils with some of its more powerful ‘allies’ who in effect were nations with little sovereignty or ability to make any crucial decisions of their own.

Last but not least, from the unpragmatic military position, EU leaders know, but under duress ignore the fact that Russia has recently developed state-of-the-art hypersonic weapons that their NATO status and alliance with the USA cannot protect them against. They know that should an escalation materialize between NATO and Russia; such weapons can be used and the outcome possibly devastating for the EU itself. EU nations and, NATO as a whole, know for a fact that a war on European soil with Russia is totally and utterly unwinnable by them. Even without deploying any of the many weapons President Putin announced to the world during his famous speech of March the 1st 2018, a conventional war between the two sides gives Russia the benefit of depth of field and number of troops. Such is the hold on these nations that they act as if in denial of the obvious. What do they stand to gain? Or, is it about harm minimization under the yoke of America? And, what does Europe in particular, expect to gain from provoking or partaking in the provoking of war over Ukraine?

Again, in the usual twisting of facts, the Western media busy themselves in the post-Trump era in portraying Russia as the culprit that is escalating the crisis in Ukraine. If Russia is left with no alternative to act, deciding it must engage militarily, it is not going to be either influenced or intimidated by Western ‘fake news’. It will act based on the facts on the ground, and whatever Russia decides to do or not do, the Western media and leading figures will portray Russia as the transgressor and aggressor, and as we have recently witnessed from Biden himself, ramp up the rhetoric such as calling the President of a world power, President Putin, ‘a killer’.

Without the benefit of a crystal ball, either the situation will escalate to a level that leaves Russia with no other alternative than taking measures similar to those it took in Chechnya and Georgia, or that Ukraine will back off. The former scenario seems more likely unless the superior style of Russian diplomacy that specializes in win-win deals can find a solution. However, the current threat regarding Ukraine surely is for Russia where the line in the sand is to be drawn. Should matters descend to the irreconcilable, even though Russia is certain to score military victory, it will most definitely be subjected to more Western sanctions than the ones it is already under. No doubt, in such an event of ever more imaginative and diabolic sanctions imposed, it will draw Russia ever closer to allies the West does not approve of and new systems which the West has monopolized, will be overridden and rendered ineffective in bringing Russia to its knees.

As for the ever creeping ‘naughty puppy’ syndrome of NATO pushing its presence in Eastern Europe one inch at a time after the breakup of the USSR, all the way from feigning reasons for missiles stationed in Eastern Europe as safeguarding the EU from Iranian missiles, to inciting and coercing former Warsaw Pact nation members to join NATO, deploying more troops in the EU, blatant support for the Ukrainian Nazis, Russia has reciprocated in measured ways. Yes, it did retake Crimea from Ukraine, but this was done within a referendum-based democratic process. Russia may have to bite the dangerous bullet and offer the persecuted regions of Ukraine the same option. Afterall, Russia’s stand in Syria in 2015 at the request of the Syrian government, has clearly signaled that the unipolar 1990’s style ‘New World Order’ is over and that there cannot be any turning back.

Russia’s patience, perseverance and confidence in superior, win-win diplomacy in time will be widely regarded with respect by the rest of the world, even quietly by the EU leaders. It is the EU leaders who will not come to the party because they are hostage to many traps and hence, it is extremely unlikely, if not impossible, given the bind they find themselves in, that they will respond to reason, diplomacy or act in their best interests. Unlike the decades America in particular has had to install or hijack institutions and conjure up scams to place ‘rules’ on the world, Russia is not yet in a strong enough financial position to implement some of its own ‘rules’ to protect her interests. No nations should be able to do this in a manner that adversely affects other nations, whether through ‘rules’, sanctions, scams or monopoly and other tools that kill without a bullet being fired or bombed dropped. These and other strategies and tactics have come predominately from a nation in a general decline; one that boasts a huge fleet of ten aircraft carriers, countless world-wide bases and almost a trillion-dollar annual war budget; the American war machine nonetheless is a technological dinosaur in comparison to the slick and advanced Russian counter-part.

On the big geo-political level; (1) what keeps America in a position of power today is its power of the petro-dollar based global economy and all that comes with it, including control of the SWIFT-based monetary international transactions without which goods cannot be bought, sold and paid for on the international market; (2) in realistic economic sense however, it is China that is approaching the global lead if it hasn’t already at least in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) terms, and (3) in terms of military hardware superiority, it is Russia that leads the world in this.

In regards to the current ‘crisis’ and a possible showdown over Ukraine, Russia surely cannot have concerns over its military capacity to deal with any action. However, unless Russia has been able to safe-guard its economy, quarantining it as much as possible from being affected by further Western sanctions, then any escalation should not leave Russia subject to any intimidatory Western repercussions. The further the West pushes, the closer Russia will co-operate with China, whether that is driven on a voluntary basis or has arisen out of necessity, and, in such a rapidly changing global environment, that decision of Russia is understandable and pragmatic, providing China stays solidly by the side of Russia.

US support for the project of Greater Albania

US support for the project of Greater Albania

March 24, 2021

By Ljubiša Malenica for the Saker Blog

The Greater Albania project has its roots in the nineteenth century and idea of ​​the Prizren League to unite in one territorial unit all areas that were allegedly originally inhabited by Albanians. The Prizren League itself can be seen as an extension of the Ottoman authorities, since it was founded in 1878, immediately after the end of the war between Russia, Serbia and Montenegro against Turkey.

Given that Turkey was defeated in the war, Istanbul had to look for other methods of protecting its own interests during the peace process. League was equipped with weapons and ammunition by the Porte, members of the organization were individuals well known for their loyalty to the Sultan, and Ottoman authorities took upon themselves the responsibility of paying for congress in Prizren. All these facts support the thesis claiming Prizren League was an organization created as expression of Ottoman interests in the Balkans.[1]

Turkey’s interests have been significantly undermined by the San Stefano Peace Treaty and the Berlin Congress, and, as might be expected, the Prizren League took a negative stance towards both peace conferences. Moreover, during the Berlin Congress, the League sent a memorandum to the major powers asking for recognition of the Albanian national identity, a very illustrative fact in itself, and the realization of autonomy within the Ottoman Empire for all territories that would compose the so-called “Greater Albania”.[2]

Simultaneously with these documents, an additional memorandum was sent to the Berlin Congress, called the Skadar Memorandum, requesting from Great Britain[3] to take upon itself the role of a guarantor for the creation of the Albanian state. Considering the role of London as a self-proclaimed balancer whose main goal was to maintain the status quo in continental Europe, the Albanian choice is not surprising.

In terms of political relations during the period in question, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro have already been allies of Moscow on several occasions. The same could be expected if Greece became independent. The development of the situation at that moment was already, obviously, to the detriment of Istanbul, and any future conflict in the Balkans would mean a further liberation of the territories previously occupied by the Ottomans. The First and Second Balkan Wars are illustrative cases in point. Given that all Slavic countries in the Balkans, at that period, had an interest in preserving the alliance and cultural ties with Russia, the eventual withdrawal of Turkey from the Balkans and the re-establishment of Slavic statehood would create a situation in which most of the Balkan Peninsula would find itself within the Russian sphere of influence.

London could not afford such a development given the understandable, and on many previous occasions expressed, fear of a united continental Europe in whose presence the British Isles would be a negligible force, probably subordinated to cultural and political dictates of the continental center of power.

The realization of Albanian ambitions did not come with the Berlin Congress, but they did not have to wait long for creation of their own state, with the blessing of official London. After the end of the First Balkan War, the Ottoman Empire was completely expelled from the majority of Balkan Peninsula. Despite the fact that the Albanians did not play any role in liberation of the occupied territories from Ottoman rule, London Agreement of 1913 established the independent state of Albania.

In addition to earlier mentioned documents created by the Prizren League, Albanian pretensions towards the territories of the surrounding peoples can be seen in this period through the actions of Ismail Cemali. In the midst of the First Balkan War, Cemali gathers representatives of the Albanians in city of Vlora, where they proceed to adopt the declaration on independence of Albania.

If we take into account that representatives in question came from all parts of the four Ottoman provinces (vilayets), i.e. Kosovo, Skadar, Janjina and Bitola, back then inhabited by Albanians, it can be assumed that Albania, imagined by the present delegates, included the territorial totality of all four mentioned provinces. Claims on lands of others become clear when one realizes that Albanians represented a minority in a significant part of the four provinces. Representatives gathered in Vlora were not elected representatives, so it is unsurprising this declaration of independence was completely ignored by both the Ottoman Empire and the then great powers. The Albanian state established during the London Conference was defined within significantly more modest borders.

During the Second World War, Albania was known as Greater Albania in the period from 1939 until 1943, and had status of an Italian protectorate which incorporated, after the fall of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, parts of Serbia. During their rule, the Italians found a natural ally in the irredentist aspirations of the Albanian elite towards the territories of the neighboring peoples where Albanians lived, regardless of the numerical ratio between them and the domicile population. It is a historical fact that period of Italian occupation was accompanied by a large number of crimes committed by Albanians against the local population in the occupied territories.

After the collapse of Italy and defeat of Germany, the short-lived state project of “Greater Albania” ended like the Independent State of Croatia, but the aspirations remained. After the fall of communist regime in the early 1990s, irredentist claims again occupied a significant part of the political and intellectual thought within Albania.

Considering the influence of United States in the Balkans during the last three decades, there can be no doubt that activities in question, intentionally or not, were in favor of the idea of Greater Albania. Both during the conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, and during war in Kosmet, Washington’s position was obviously in favor of Serbian enemies. The conduct of organizations under the influence or direct leadership of the United States, both during military operations and in peacetime, was undoubtedly directed against Serbian interest in any shape or form. This fact alone was enough to strengthen the position idea of Greater Albania had within Albanian population, given that over time its realization seemed to become more and more probable.

Ethnic cleansing of Serbs from the Federation of BiH and Croatia, carried out with silent blessing from the West, served as a pattern of behavior that Albanians could apply during the Kosovo conflict without fear of criticism or intervention. There was no trepidation Tirana could be bombed by NATO planes due to the ethnic cleansing of Kosmet by the KLA.

Revitalization of the idea of​​ Greater Albania, in its core, is not so much about the American relationship with the Albanians as it is about US perception of the Serbs.

The statement of George Kenney, a former Yugoslavia desk officer at the US state department, is an illustrative example how was Yugoslavia perceived as a state, and by extension, Serbs as a people who were most interested in its preservation. In a 2008 statement to the British Guardian, Kenney pointed out that “In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalization”.[4]

In addition to American interests, the role of Germany, which immediately after its unification took a hostile attitude towards Yugoslavia and the Serbs, should not be forgotten. Considering the last one hundred and twenty years of European history, one gets the impression that the desire for domination of the continent by Germany is the main catalyst for a significant part of the misfortune which befell Europe.

In a world characterized by the hegemonic role of the United States, after the disappearance of the Soviet Union, it was inevitable that the ideological features of the victor, in this case capitalism, globalism, free trade, multiculturalism, and democracy, would become a model for transformation of other countries, regardless of their wishes and desires of the domicile population.

The characteristics of the victorious ideology were, of course, largely beneficial to the United States themselves, given that the system was established with the aim of reproducing, into infinity, American, and to a lesser extent West European, global dominance. It is not surprising that all serious forms of opposition to the imposed system were seen as a danger, given that at the same time they represented a departure from the propagandist illusion there were no alternatives to the new state of affairs, that the system represented the best way to regulate social relations and that everyone benefited from it.

The fact that the new system quickly took on the outlines of a neocolonial model of behavior, especially towards Eastern European countries, with pronounced demographic and economic parasitism embodied in legal structures and norms of both the European Union and other world organizations such as the IMF and World Bank, was supposed to remain hidden behind an appropriate smokescreen of consumer culture and a general degradation of cultural standards in behavior and action.

The geopolitical interests of Washington, and of the West in general, in conjunction with their economic interests, were not to be called into question by opposition, especially by a state such as Yugoslavia or a people such as Serbs. Allowing the general narrative of globalization and the norms and quality of the Western model to be questioned by small states and peoples was unthinkable, given that it would simultaneously point to the existence of imbalances and problems within the model itself and would further give the impression that the model itself was subject to change through dialogue and consensus. As we have already mentioned, the very purpose of the model was contrary to this development and force, both in legal and physical terms, remained the only way to protect interests of the original creators of an ideology that until recently was considered irreplaceable.

The easiest way to deal with Yugoslavia and the Serbs was to encourage internal divisions and recruit non-Serb local elites into implementation of American goals. One obvious example was the influence of Warren Zimmerman[5] on the beginning of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Gathering representatives of all three sides in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Portuguese Ambassador to Sarajevo at that time, Jose Cutileiro, and the British Lord Peter Carrington succeeded in creating a plan for the division and decentralization of Bosnia and Herzegovina that was, to an extent, satisfactory for all three sides.

The agreement, also known as the Lisbon Treaty, was signed by representatives of all three sides on March 18, 1992. Ten days later, US Ambassador Warren Zimmerman arrives in Sarajevo where he meets with Alija Izetbegovic. Soon after, Izetbegovic quickly withdraws his signature from the previously reached arrangement. Although there is no documentation, or other direct record, of what was said during this meeting between Zimmerman and Izetbegovic, sequence of events is far from accidental and indicates a high degree of connection between the encounter and the outbreak of war in BiH.

According to unofficial information, during the meeting, Zimmerman gave Izetbegovic a firm assurance that United States were ready to recognize Bosnia and Herzegovina as an independent country. The fact that Washington recognized BiH as an independent state only nine days after the meeting, on April 7, 1992, just as Zimmermann claimed, gives credence to the unofficial information about the nature of the Zimmerman-Izetbegovic meeting. Recognizing independence of a certain state, in itself as a process, is not something that happens spontaneously and quickly, especially due to the situation Bosnia and Herzegovina found itself in at that time. Given that it took the US administration less than ten days to make such a decision, implies that decision had already been made. US only awaited a suitable moment in order to make the decision public.

During a statement for Canadian CTVNews in 2012, former Canadian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, James Bissett, gave additional weight to earlier claims regarding Zimmerman’s role in the beginning of the Bosnian civil war. Namely, during the conversation, Bissett pointed out without hesitation that “the trigger was really when the American ambassador persuaded Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim leader in Bosnia, to renounce his signature and withdraw his signature from an agreement that had been reached earlier, negotiated by the Portuguese foreign minister…That meant that Bosnia could become independent, but there would be three autonomous regions. They all signed that, but my neighbor that lived across the street from me, Warren Zimmerman, the US ambassador convinced Alija Izetbegovic to renounce that agreement and declare unilateral independence, and that the United States would immediately recognize an independent Bosnia…”[6]

Events related to crisis in Kosmet followed a very similar pattern. Albanians in Kosovo served the interests of Washington in the same manner that Muslims did on the ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Just as Muslims were promised support and independence of a state which they saw exclusively as their own, so the Albanians were, in essence, offered the opportunity to realize the idea of ​​a Greater Albania.

The August 1993 New York Times article, surprisingly professionally written, conveys the opinion of most US officials, who largely agree that Washington made a mistake in insisting on an independent and multicultural Bosnia and Herzegovina despite domestic leaders agreeing to divide the country. This view of the situation recently reappeared on the scene with the texts of Timothy Less, who proposes supporting the unification of the Republic of Srpska and Serbia as compensation for the recognition of independent Kosovo by Belgrade.[7][8]

Of course, Less looks at things from perspective of interests of the United States and expects Serbs, after American blessing of unification, to approach the United States and turn their backs on Moscow. Whether American diplomacy will accept these suggestion remains to be seen, but the fact that this option is being discussed at all should serve as a lesson to Serbian neighbors that in the last three decades they have not fought against Serbs so much for their own interests as they did for American ones.

As author stated earlier in the text, the Balkan problem of Washington, from the perspective of the United States, comes down to the question of Serbs. An illustration of this can be found in the New York Times article mentioned above. Namely, part of the article is dedicated to the statement of Warren Zimmerman, who, defending the earlier American policy, pointed out that “our view was that we might be able to head off a Serbian power grab by internationalizing the problem…Our hope was the Serbs would hold off if it was clear Bosnia had the recognition of Western countries. It turned out we were wrong.”[9]

Although a short statement, it is very indicative and leads to several important questions. If we take into account the nature of the Lisbon Treaty, which Ambassador Warren torpedoed during his conversation with Izetbegovic, why was the power takeover by the Serbs a problem? Moreover, since the territorial units envisaged by the Carrington-Cutilier plan were based on the national principle, Serbs, by taking power in their areas, would do the same as the other two groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the other hand, why was the internationalization of the problem necessary? The problem was already, in large part, nearing a solution that was accepted by all three parties. Why were Serbs expected, almost by some kind of automatism, to give up their interests and demands in a situation where West recognized Bosnia and Herzegovina declaration of independence?

All these questions make sense and their answers are relatively obvious if we accept position that the moves of American diplomacy were not aimed at defusing the situation or achieving solution to crisis in BiH, but against the interests of Serbs. The language used by Zimmerman implies Serbs are the destabilizing factor and threat to the situation within the country at the time, despite all the facts to the contrary. The American vision of BiH, interpreted through Zimmerman’s statement, implied complete political domination of Sarajevo and the Muslim political leadership, a unitary state structure accompanied, for the sake of US internal propaganda, with labels of multiethnicity and multiculturalism. Serbs, and partly Croats, were expected to give up upon their own interests.

The irony of history is reflected in fact that the Dayton Agreement itself, which achieved peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was relatively similar to the Lisbon Agreement.

For a better understanding of American policy towards Serbs during the 1990s and after conflict in the former Yugoslavia ended, it is necessary to pay attention to the previously mentioned victorious ideology which, after collapse of the USSR, gained status of a globally applicable template for shaping societies.

Due to the specifics of American history, a thread of racial relations between the inhabitants of the United States always ran through American society. Over time, this led to the development of complexes which were twisted by the political forces in United States, particularly the Democratic Party, into political and social power simultaneously encompassing both white and black population. Within the Hollywood dichotomy of guilt, whites in the US were assigned the role of malfeasants while blacks, along with other minorities, became victims. The former developed a guilt complex while in the latter, victim complex was encouraged. In both cases, the encouragement of these complexes took extreme forms and was from the very beginning completely divorced from historical facts. Resistance to these processes did exist in the United States, and still exists today, but the foundation of the future American society was laid.

Multiculturalism, as one element of the new world order, introduced a whole range of other minorities into the previously outlined social formula, which mostly referred to the American population of European and African descent. New minorities encompassed both minorities based on their nation and groups that became minorities because of a particular characteristic, such as sexual orientation or a specific view of one’s own gender. The artificial multiplication of minorities led to a specific development of the earlier abuser-victim relationship, and soon, in opposition to white “malfeasants”, a mass of “victims” appeared, diverse in their minority status but monolithic in their role of victims.

Globalism, as one of the key elements of American ideology, transferred the insane perception of racial relations within the United States to the global level, predefining “good and bad guys” without taking into account the local context events or their development.

The European left, by its very nature inclined to such ideological ramshackle, and itself without an original idea, accepted this view of history and society, thus providing support to the Americanization of European nations. In his book “Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards a Secular Theocracy”, Paul Gottfried points out that “for the Left, especially in Europe, the post-Cold War United States is the enforcer of “antifascist” and multicultural ideas that are triumphing in American society and among its human-rights allies. The long-demonized American capitalist empire no longer upsets the European Left as monolithically as it once did…For the Left, at least until the recent war against terrorism, the United States has become an indispensable partner in promoting its work, against obstinate European nationalists and antiglobalists.”[10]

In the early 1990s, America was seen by leftists as a utopia. The combination of leftist ideas and predatory capitalism, intertwined with the image of an “exceptional nation”, led Washington’s aggressive stance on the global field. Anyone opposed to the cultural and economic aggression in question eventually faced a military aggression.

American leftists, who managed by “long march through institutions” to install their cadres within a large number of important positions both in American society and American political structure, recognized Serbs as historical actors perfectly fitting the constructed stereotype of “bad guys”. As a white nation, the stigma of “white guilt” could be immediately applied to them, only in this case the “oppressed minority” were not the blacks or other minority populations within the United States, but the Muslim population in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosmet. As a nation aware of its history and national identity, and interested in preserving both, Serbs commit the additional sin of reflexive suspicion towards globalism and resistance to the processes associated with this phenomenon.

The desire of Serbian people for existence within a homogeneous nation-state, derived from historical experience which confirmed the unstable and violent tendencies of heterogeneous societies, was interpreted as a rejection of the multicultural framework for social organization and was thus branded as unwelcomed. From the perspective of the American administration, regardless of historical facts and specific circumstances of events in former Yugoslavia, a multicultural society had to be insisted on. If multiculturalism can work in the United States, then it can work in small Balkan countries. However, if there was to exist a place in the world where it is objectively quite clear that multiculturalism is neither possible nor desirable, it would be only a matter of time before someone within the US questioned why were American politicians, on the domestic scene, so insistent on multiculturalism and why does this phenomenon becomes a taboo subject when its more negative characteristics become apparent.

Lessons from disintegration of multicultural “brotherhood and unity” within Yugoslavia have not been learned by the creators of American policy, and events within the United States today are the fruits of those missed historical lessons.

Doug Bandow, a senior fellow of the well known Cato Institute, during his testimony before the congressional committee in March 1999, clearly points out that there are no objective reasons for NATO intervention in Kosmet against Serbs and in favor of Albanians. In a transcript of Bandow’s statement, he explains that “despite the administration’s best intentions, its proposal to bomb Serbia and initiate a long‐​term ground occupation of Kosovo is misguided in the extreme. The administration would attempt to impose an artificial settlement with little chance of genuine acceptance by either side. It would attempt to micromanage a guerrilla conflict, likely spreading nationalistic flames throughout the region. It would involve America in an undeclared war against a nation which has not threatened the U.S. or any U.S. ally. It would encourage permanent European dependence on America to defend European interests with little relevance to America. It would turn humanitarianism on its head, basing intervention on the ethnicity of the victims, allied status of the belligerents, relative strength of the contending political interests, and expansiveness of the media coverage. Most important, it would put U.S. troops at risk without any serious, let alone vital, American interest at stake”.[11]

During his testimony, Bandow pointed out that NATO supporting KLA would only give additional impetus to the advocates of Greater Albania. Probably one of few American analysts from that period, Bandow warned involvement in the Balkans carried a risk of losing a much more important game related to Russia. Bandow emphasized that “Moscow’s future development remains worrisome and uncertain. Yet NATO attacks on and occupation of Yugoslavia, which shares longstanding Slavic ties with Russia, would exacerbate tensions already inflamed by the expansion of NATO”.[12]

Twenty years after the events in Kosmet, we live in a world that Bandow partially predicted. The aggression on Yugoslavia represented one of the turning points in Russian-American relations and influenced the shaping of the world as we know it today.

Support for a unitary Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Greater Albania project is undoubtedly present within American politics, given that planners in Washington recognize these projects as useful for their own interests. This is perhaps the most important reason for support. Serbophobia, as a derivative of Russophobia, exists within the American administration, but the question is to what extent does the phenomenon in question influences the shaping of Washington’s policies towards the Serbian people. Albanian politicians should have learned lessons from the history of Yugoslavia itself in the early 1990s. For a certain time, ex-Yugoslavia suited Americans and they supported its existence. As soon as the American interest changed, the US did not hesitate to take an active part in encouraging its disintegration. Even in the event where Albanian project is realized, it would be a creation with a limited lifespan. Formed with American blessing, Greater Albania would depend on the goodwill of “friends” from Washington and their backing.

In the treatise that made him famous, Niccolo Machiavelli points out that “auxiliary troops—armies borrowed from a more powerful state—are as useless as mercenaries. Although they often fight well, a prince who calls on auxiliaries places himself in a no-win situation. If the auxiliaries fail, he is defenseless, whereas if the auxiliaries are successful, he still owes his victory to the power of another.”[13]

This seems to be a lesson that none of the Serbian neighbors have learned. Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina is an international protectorate and a dysfunctional country. Croatia is a reservoir of labor reduced to the tourist destination of richer European countries, and at the beginning of the 2020, through intervention of the American military commander in political life of “independent” Kosovo, one could perceive real distribution of power on Kosmet. While Croats, Albanians and Muslims in Bosnia spent themselves in wars against “evil” Serbs, Western states imperceptibly placed a noose of economic and political dependence around their necks, all the while helping cultivate their victimhood narrative.

At this moment, the Serbian political leadership can act simultaneously in three directions. The first involves regional action towards countries also threatened by the idea of ​​a Greater Albania. This raises the question whether there is political will among potential allies to take steps against the realization of the Albanian idea in the current conditions where the emergence of a larger Albanian state affects only Serbian interests. The political mood in the countries in question will most likely depend on the escalation of Albanian ambitions and actions.

The second course of action is to reject any recognition of Kosovo as an independent state and to insist on such a position within international institutions. The work of Serbian diplomacy has been somewhat successful in this regard in recent years, but the work of diplomats must be supported by efforts to strengthen Serbian institutions and influence in Kosmet itself.

The third set of activities concerns efforts to undo, within a seemingly increasingly multipolar world order, the Western-imposed status quo in the Balkans, almost entirely ranged against Serbian interests. This would entail an initiative for reconsideration of events which took place during the break-up of former Yugoslavia and to, furthermore, question the final results of those events, such as Kosovo’s self-proclaimed independence or the narrative of alleged Serbian guilt for various war crimes.

The idea and narrative of Greater Albania are a danger to Serbian statehood, but the very idea of Greater Albania bears the seeds of its disappearance. The full realization of Albania’s pretensions entails the creation of a hostile disposition within four neighboring states. The project of the Albanian irredentists was previously realized only in conditions of serious foreign support. As is usually the case with a hegemon that is slowly losing its status, the United States is facing growing challenges around the world, and support for Albanian interests by Washington is not assured. At the moment, it seems that time is working for Belgrade, which should use this opportunity to full extent and cease to react reservedly for the sake of EU membership, an illusion by this point.

  1. http://www.kosovo.net/sk/rastko-kosovo/istorija/knjiga_o_kosovu/bogdanovic-kosovo_2.html 
  2. http://www.rastko.rs/cms/files/books/474e828f5a0ad 
  3. http://www.rastko.rs/cms/files/books/474e828f5a0ad 
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/jan/14/itstimetoendserbbashing 
  5. https://nationalinterest.org/print/article/obituary-alija-izetbegovic-1925-2003-2458 
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1QL1M8zycE 
  7. http://demostat.rs/en/vesti/analize/timothy-less-re-ordering-the-balkans/763 
  8. https://balkaninsight.com/2020/02/28/bosnias-second-collapse-is-starting-to-look-inevitable/ 
  9. https://www.nytimes.com/1993/08/29/world/us-policymakers-on-bosnia-admit-errors-in-opposing-partition-in-1992.html 
  10. https://books.google.ba/books?id=0XvR-aKybuQC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false 
  11. https://www.cato.org/publications/congressional-testimony/us-role-kosovo 
  12. https://www.cato.org/publications/congressional-testimony/us-role-kosovo 
  13. https://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/prince/section6/ 

حرب بايدن مع بوتين.. إردوغان مع من؟….بقلم حسني محلي

حسني محلي

2021-03-20

بانتظار أن يهاتف بايدن إردوغان سوف يتخذ الطرفان الروسي والأميركي كل التدابير والإجراءات لضمان انحياز الرئيس التركي إلى جانبه أو على الأقل البقاء على الحياد.

فاجأ الرئيس التركي الجميع عندما اتخذ (الجمعة) موقفاً متضامناً مع “حليفه الجديد” فلاديمير بوتين في الحرب الكلامية بينه وبين الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن الذي لم يتصل بإردوغان حتى الآن. فرداً على سؤال يبدو أنه كان معداً مسبقاً قال إردوغان: “في الحقيقة ليس ممكناً القبول بما قاله رئيس دولة ضد رئيس دولة أخرى كروسيا، وليس سهلاً على أحد هضم هذه العبارة التي استخدمها بايدن، وفي رأيي لقد قام بوتين بما يجب القيام به حيث رد على بايدن بشكل ذكي ولائق جداً”.

كلام إردوغان هذا أثار نقاشاً واسعاً في الأوساط السياسية والإعلامية التركية. هناك من أيّد وهناك من شكّك لا سيما أن تصريح إردوغان جاء بعد ساعات قليلة من سماح أنقرة لحاملة الصواريخ الموجهة الأميركية بالمرور عبر مضيق البوسفور باتجاه البحر الأسود الذي يشهد توتراً خطيراً بين روسيا وبين أميركا وحلف الأطلسي الذي يسعى إلى ضم جورجيا وأوكرانيا للحلف الساعي إلى محاصرة موسكو من خلال بناء قواعد بحرية في هاتين الدولتين وفي كل من بلغاريا ورومانيا. 

وجاء حديث السفير الأميركي في أنقرة ديفيد ساترفيلد مع مجموعة من الصحافيين بعد كلام إردوغان بساعتين ليثبت استمرار الموقف الأميركي تجاه أنقرة، حيث لوح ساترفيلد بعقوبات جديدة على تركيا في حال استمرارها بموقفها الحالي في ما يتعلق بصواريخ اس-400 الروسية. 

ورغم أن ساترفيلد لم يتطرق إلى كلام إردوغان في ما يتعلق بالحرب الكلامية بين بايدن وبوتين، إلا أن الأوساط الدبلوماسية في أنقرة تتوقع رداً أميركياً قريباً على كلام إردوغان، ويعرف الجميع أن واشنطن تستعد لحربها معه في مجالات عدة داخلية وخارجية. ويفسر ذلك رد الفعل الأميركي على رفع الحصانة البرلمانية عن أحد اعضاء حزب الشعوب الديمقراطي (الكردي) ومساعي النيابة العامة لحظر نشاط الحزب بشكل نهائي. 

وبانتظار المكالمة الهاتفية التي أعلن بايدن “أنها ستكون في الوقت المناسب” مع بوتين، يبدو واضحاً أن الطرفين الروسي والأميركي يحسبان الكثير من الحسابات لموقف الرئيس إردوغان المحتمل في حال استمرار هذه الأزمة وانعكاساتها على العلاقات الاستراتيجية بين العدوين التقليديين روسيا وأميركا المدعومة من بعض الحلفاء الأوروبيين. 

ومن دون العودة إلى العلاقات التاريخية بين روسيا والدولة العثمانية والتي بدأت قبل خمسمئة سنة تقريباً وتخلل معظمها خلافات وصراعات وحروب، فالجميع يعرف أن علاقات موسكو مع أنقرة دخلت في مسار جديد بعد أن اعتذر إردوغان في حزيران/يونيو 2016 من الرئيس بوتين عن إسقاط الطائرة الروسية في سوريا في 24 تشرين الثاني/ديسمبر 2015. وسمح بوتين بعد ذلك للجيش التركي بدخول جرابلس السورية في 24 آب/أغسطس 2016، أي في ذكرى مرور 500 عام على معركة مرج دابق التي دخل منها السلطان سليم سوريا ثم مصر ليعود منها خليفة على المسلمين. وتطورت العلاقة بعد ذلك بين بوتين وإردوغان لتشمل العديد من مجالات التعاون العسكري والاقتصادي والتجاري والسياحي (6 ملايين روسي زار تركيا عام 2019) بل وحتى المجال النووي، حيث تقوم روسيا ببناء مفاعلات نووية في تركيا بقيمة ثلاثين مليار دولار. ومع جميع حالات المد والجزر التي شهدتها العلاقات بين الطرفين وخاصة في سوريا وأحياناً في ليبيا ومنطقة القوقاز، فقد نجح بوتين في إبقاء إردوغان ضمن “الحلبة الروسية”، وذلك على الرغم من نقاط الخلاف الكثيرة والجدية مع أنقرة في موضوع سوريا وبشكل خاص في إدلب. 

وكان فيه الدعم الذي قدمه باراك أوباما ومن بعده دونالد ترامب والآن جو بايدن إلى وحدات حماية الشعب الكردية السورية الهم الأكبر بالنسبة إلى إردوغان الذي سمح له ترامب ومعه بوتين بإرسال قواته إلى شرق الفرات في 9 تشرين الأول/أكتوبر 2019 لامتصاص غضبه. وكانت هذه الموافقة ومن قبلها موافقة بوتين كافية بالنسبة إلى إردوغان الذي تحول من خلالها إلى عنصر أساسي في المعادلة السورية المعقدة بكل أطرافها الإقليمية والدولية. ويعرقل ذلك التوصل إلى حل نهائي للأزمة السورية إلا برضا أنقرة التي قال عنها إردوغان قبل أيام “إن موقفها منذ بداية الأزمة لم يتغير ولن يتغير”. 

وليس واضحاً كيف سيوازن بوتين بين موقف إردوغان هذا في سوريا وبين المصالح الروسية المتشابكة مع تركيا التي تستورد أكثر من خمسين بالمئة من غازها من روسيا التي باعت أنقرة صواريخ اس-400.

وكانت هذه الصواريخ وما زالت سبباً كافياً للتوتر بين تركيا والحليف الاستراتيجي التقليدي واشنطن التي لها 12 قاعدة في تركيا وأهمها أنجيرليك التي تضم حوالى 50 قنبلة نووية. 

وبانتظار أن يهاتف بايدن إردوغان، وهي مكالمة يعرف الجميع أن إردوغان ينتظرها بفارغ الصبر، سوف يتخذ كل من الطرفين الروسي والأميركي كل التدابير والإجراءات لضمان انحياز إردوغان إلى جانبه أو على الأقل البقاء على الحياد، وهو أمر شبه مستحيل بسبب الموقع الجغرافي الاستراتيجي لتركيا ومن ثم تداخل السياسات التركية في العديد من مناطق العالم مع سياسات العدوين المذكورين. فقد مثّلت تركيا بعد نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية خندقاً أمامياً للدفاع عن “العالم الديمقراطي المتحضر” ضد خطر الاتحاد السوفياتي الشيوعي، ولولا مؤسسه لينين لما استطاع مصطفى كمال أتاتورك أن ينتصر على دول العالم المذكور، أي فرنسا وبريطانيا وإيطاليا واليونان، ويؤسس جمهوريته المستقلة في 29 تشرين الأول/أكتوبر 1923. وبقيت تركيا ثابتة في خندقها لمنع السوفيات والشيوعية من النزول إلى المياه الدافئة في المنطقة العربية الإسلامية، وتحالفت معها أنظمة الخليج المعروفة التي تآمرت دائماً، وما زالت تتآمر، على المد الوطني والقومي العربي، كما هو الحال في ما يسمى بالربيع العربي. 

وجاء سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي بداية التسعينات من القرن الماضي ليدفع أنقرة وبتشجيع من واشنطن إلى الحديث عن المد القومي التركي من البوسنة وحتى حدود الصين مروراً بالجمهوريات الإسلامية ذات الأصل التركي في القوقاز وآسيا الوسطى. 

ولم تغير مجمل التطورات التي شهدها العالم خلال الأعوام الثلاثين الماضية من أحلام إردوغان وهو سائر على طريق الرئيس الراحل تورغوت أوزال الذي رفع شعار “أمة تركية واحدة من الأدرياتيكي إلى حدود الصين”، وسعى بعد حرب الكويت 1991 لضم الشمال العراقي إلى تركيا، الأمر الذي فكر به الرئيس  إردوغان أكثر من مرة غداة أحداث ما يسمى بالربيع العربي عندما تحدث عن حدود الميثاق الوطني الذي يضم الشمال السوري مع ولاية الموصل، التي تعني في العرف التركي الموصل وأربيل والسليمانية وكركوك.

في جميع الحالات وحتى وإن كانت احتمالات المواجهة الساخنة بين واشنطن وموسكو ضعيفة، فالجميع يعرف أن بايدن لن يبحث بعد الآن عن حلول وسط في علاقته مع إردوغان، ولكنه في نفس الوقت لن يضحي بتركيا بسهولة. فالرئيس بايدن معروف بمواقفه السلبية تجاه إردوغان على صعيد السياستين الداخلية والخارجية، كما معروف عنه أنه لا يملك الشجاعة الكافية للاستمرار في مواقفه هذه. فبعد أن اتهم في تشرين الأول/أكتوبر 2014 كلاً من تركيا ومعها السعودية والإمارات بدعم التنظيمات الإرهابية في سوريا ومنها داعش والنصرة، زار بايدن بصفته نائب الرئيس أوباما اسطنبول واعتذر من إردوغان بعد أن زاره في منزله وتمنى له الشفاء العاجل بعد عملية جراحية خضع لها في الأمعاء. 

والسؤال هو: هل وكيف سيرد بايدن على تضامن إردوغان مع الرئيس بوتين ضده؟ في حين أن بوتين لن يتأخر في البحث عن مجالات جديدة للتعاون مع إردوغان وتقديم تنازلات جديدة له في سوريا وكاراباخ وليبيا وأماكن أخرى لمنع واشنطن من اختراق تحالفه مع أنقرة.

ولن يبقى أمام بايدن في هذه الحالة إلا خيارين فقط لا ثالث لهما:

الأول: استخدام القوة السياسية والاقتصادية والتجارية بل وحتى العسكرية للتخلص من إردوغان من خلال تضييق الحصار عليه خارجياً (دعم كرد سوريا) في ظل استمرار أزماته الداخلية الخطيرة. 

الثاني: الاتصال بإردوغان بأقرب فرصة لكسب وده وتلبية كل شروطه ومطالبه للعودة إلى التحالف التقليدي بين تركيا وأميركا وفيها العديد من القوى التي تطالب بايدن بمحاسبة إردوغان على خلفية أقواله وأفعاله التي باتت تهدد المصالح الأميركية “ومفاهيم الحضارة الغربية الديمقراطية”. 

وفي كلتا الحالتين سيكتشف الجميع كيف سيواجه إردوغان الاحتمالات القادمة وإذا ما كان سيعالجها بنجاح يضمن بقائه في السلطة وربما إلى الأبد، أو أنه سيجد نفسه في دوامة التجاذبات الصعبة بين حليفه التقليدي أميركا والحليف الجديد روسيا، من دون أن يتجاهل “صداقة” بكين (عدو بايدن الحقيقي)، ولولاها لما تم تطعيم الشعب التركي ضد كورونا!

المصدر: الميادين نت

برنامج اسرار الصراع تقديم الراحل أنيس النقاش

Naqqash’s solution for Middle East: A Levantine Confederation (Pt. 4)

March 10, 2021

Naqqash's solution for Middle East: The Levantine Confederation (Pt. 1) |  Middle East Observer

Description:

In a 2020 conference held on Zoom and published on YouTube, the late senior Middle East political analyst Anees Naqqash spoke about his 2014 book titled The Levantine Confederation: The Battle of Identities and Policies.

The book proposes that the solution to the chronic problems of the war-ravaged and tumultuous Middle East region lies in the establishment of a confederation that unites the states of the Levant, or what Naqqash often calls the ‘West Asian region’.

Middle East Observer is gradually publishing English translations of the author’s online talk over several posts. The following is Part Four.

To read Part One see here.
To read Part Two see here.
To read Part Three see here.

Source:  Kalam Siyasi YouTube Channel

Date:  Aug 26, 2020

(Important Note: Please help us keep producing independent translations for you by contributing as little as $1/month here)

Transcript :

It is no longer a secret; no one can say anymore that we are (falsely) accusing a (particular) state of being an ally of America and an ally of Zionism, now that all the masks have fallen off. They (some Arab states) themselves admitted that they had served America for 70 years (by implementing) its regional and international strategies. Today, they are openly expressing their convictions and publically (sharing) their relations with Zionism and the US. For them, Arabism and Islam have become a type of folklore with no ideological, political or cultural importance, (and they feel no need to) respect the will of their people and the people of the region. They have lost all these titles (Arabism and Islam). However, they have a strong grip on the Arab media because 80% of it is financed by Arab oil (monarchies). Therefore, we are facing a major offensive locally and internationally.

I believe that no country alone, no matter how powerful it is, can face such an offensive; and no party can claim that it alone can confront it. Even Turkey, with its current capabilities, cannot defend the region on its own and run things alone no matter how great its economic and military capabilities. The reason is that if Turkey took action individually, without joining the socio-political and security pact and the dialogue we are calling for, other powers (in the region) will be troubled by the Turkish forces and will begin a resistance under the title of rejecting a (potentially) new Ottoman (Empire). Some people in Turkey may have the idea of resurrecting the Ottoman Empire with the same old ultranationalism, but this is impossible these days.

Iran, which today leads the Axis of Resistance in confronting Israel and the US presence in the region, meaning that it leads the armed national liberation movement against the Western presence, also (has not yet been able to achieve) a broader regional dialogue (that is necessary) to clarify its goals and cooperate with other powers. However, there is an advantage that I must point out, which is that the bilateral Turkish-Iranian cooperation is almost impeccable. However, there are many regional issues that (both countries) do not agree on, the most important of which are the conflict in Syria; Iraq; in addition to some other matters. Even regarding Palestine (there are differences between the two). The Iranian involvement has now become an engagement that challenges the US and Israel with (its provision of) weapons and equipment aimed at unconditionally supporting the Palestinian resistance with all means (possible). Turkey, on the other hand, supports the Palestinian people, but without disturbing Zionism. It refuses to withdraw its recognition of (Israel as a state), it does not bother the US, nor does it support the (Palestinian) resistance with arms. There must be a dialogue to settle these issues.

I think that the dialogue aiming to build a Levantine Confederation that moves away from Ibn Khaldun’s concept of one ‘asabiyyah (socially cohesive group) having control over the region, will (in fact) bring ideological peace to the region, because the Turkish bloc represents a major Sunni bloc and the Iranian bloc represents the largest Shia bloc in the Islamic nation. Therefore, (more cooperation between the two countries) would offer a respite to this sectarian conflict that the Zionists, the US, and all enemies of our nation – and even the Takfiris from within our nation – seek to ignite in order to weaken our nation. In other words, this is a positive thing that we must support through (the establishment) of an intellectual system that explains to public opinion what we (who call for a Levantine Confederation) do and why are we doing this. Our movement should not be secret or private, and our tactics should be clear, so that no party is accused of wanting to dominate.

The most important thing (necessary here) is that the idea of ​​the hegemony of one sect with its individual capabilities must be completely precluded. We must push parties, powers, movements, thinkers, writers and journalists towards a region-level social, security and political union through dialogue and conferences, and not through hegemony. This (approach) will facilitate the consolidation of financial, economic, military and security capabilities. It would also dispel the worrisome ideas prevailing in the region as everyone fears for their doctrine, nationalism, and even their clan. In order for everyone to feel that there is a great fusion in the region (between our countries), just as big as a nuclear fusion, such that there would be a win-win situation for all, with no losers.

This is what I wrote about in my book after (conducting) a historical study of the way geographical maps were drawn up, by highlighting the ways in which client regimes were implanted (in our region), and by speaking about (the importance of) natural resources, a very important issue when it comes to questions of strategic awareness. Geography is a dominant (factor) that we often forget about. (Geography) is not only related to borders, but also to natural resources and the interconnectedness of natural geography, relating to plains, mountains and valleys. It refers to oil and gas reservoirs. It refers to transit lines, energy transit routes, and the networking/integration of potentials in relation to economic-related transport and the transit of passengers.

Therefore geography is a dominant/undeniable (factor) that must not be forgotten. In the past we lived in an open geography (i.e. without rigid national borders), and what is utterly disgraceful today is that the Hejaz Railway line, that was built just before World War One, had passed through all of these countries, from Istanbul to Hejaz, passing through Palestine and Baghdad, while we are unable today to implement even a portion of this project which would tie these areas together.

(To be continued…)


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Iran-Russia Relationship: Requisites for Transition from Meager Tactical Actualities to Actualization of Deep Strategic Potentials

March 06, 2021

Iran-Russia Relationship: Requisites for Transition from Meager Tactical Actualities to Actualization of Deep Strategic Potentials

by Mansoureh Tajik for the Saker Blog

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim, “In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. On March 12, 2001, a near-comprehensive agreement was reached between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation in Moscow. The agreement was signed by Mohammad Khatami, Iran’s president at the time, and Vladimir Putin as the Russian president.[1] It has been in place for 20 years and is about to expire in a few days and needs to be either extended or replaced with another much more comprehensive and strategically-oriented long-term agreement. An important written message from Ayatullah Khamenei to President Putin was delivered by Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the head of the Iranian Parliament, on Monday, February 8, 2021. It appears the latter scenario (i.e. a comprehensive long-term agreement) is inevitably the case.

Unsurprisingly, the mainstream media in the West and anti-Iran Persian language channels immediately focused on insignificant marginal issues about diplomatic and health protocol oddities that surrounded the method of message delivery and ignored entirely the strategic significance of the message and its timing. The timing itself had a message to the US and the European countries who are behaving as if it were high noon in the West while dusk has already settled in.

Image reads: “Those who are inclined to compromise must know that [US of] America is entering dusk.” – Sayyed Ali Khamenei. Extracted from Khamenei.ir available here.

The actual content of the letter has not been revealed either by Ayatullah Khamenei or by President Putin. However, Amir Abdullahian who is the head of international relations committee of Majlis (the Iranian Parliament) and a special advisor to Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, and who also accompanied the team to Moscow explained the overall goal of the message and parts of its content on national television during a program titled “Special File” on February 14th.[2] He said (I translate):

“The subject of the message relates to our long-term outlook toward a sustainable foreign policy and protection of security and interests of our nation. It pays particular attention to mutual interests of Iran and Russia, which could in turn affect our relationship with Russia. Of course, this trip and Leader’s message could affect the calculus of three Western players in Barjam (JCPOA) as well as the [US] Americans in their behavior towards Iran.”

Elsewhere in the interview, he also emphasized:

“The Leader’s message was strategically important and was delivered at a correct time. I will speak about the details of the message and the Russians’ response at a more appropriate time but it will suffice to say that the Russian counterparts promptly reviewed and regarded the message with serious attention and it was of particular importance to [President] Putin… In less than 24 hours, we received the first reactions and feedbacks to this message when we were meeting with the Supreme National Security Council of Russia and high-level officials.”

In an evaluation session regarding the trip and the Leader’s message to President Putin, Javad Niki Maliky, a geopolitical analyst with Mashriq News [East News] – the full title of this news outlet is “the Sun always Rises from Mashriq [the East]” – explains:

“Just as the current order of global balance is disintegrating, a new order is rapidly and relentlessly forming. Only nations that have the following four attributes will be among the victors in any future order: 1) those who deeply understand this strategic shift and could correctly identify macro currents, movements, and equations; 2) those who have the belief, the will, and the capacity to play significant roles and to have shares in shaping future global orders; 3) those who have increased the breadth and depth of their strategic assets and have meaningfully operationalized those assets; and 4) those who have, based on the maturing of their assets, increased and solidified their strategic relationships and partnerships. The overall theme of the Leader’s [Ayatullah Khamenei’s] speeches regarding the shift in global order during the past few years has revolved around the above 4 axes and his message to the president of Russia could be understood and explained within the framework of the 4th axis.”[3]

As such, Ayatullah Khamenei’s letter to President Putin aims to solidify the strategic relationship and partnership that has already been established between Russia and Iran in accordance to the maturing of each country’s respective assets. As soon as the Leader’s message was delivered to President Putin by his Special Representative, who is also the current chairman of State Duma, and while the Iranian delegation was still in Russia, Ayatullah Khamenei’s Tweeter account in Russian read: “The era of post [US] America has begun.”[4]

The upcoming long-term agreement (likely a 25-year agreement), would be similar in many ways but potentially and qualitatively different in nuanced ways with what was reached with China. There are some critically important social and historical factors that would affect the quality of the relationship between Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia in a very fundamental way regardless of current and future formal agreements. These factors, in my view, are the basic requisites for a transition from meager tactical actualities between Iran and Russia to an actualization of a deep strategic potentials. I would like to address, very briefly, three of those factors in this essay and they include: 1) A shift in the perspective of Iranians regarding Russia; 2) A shift in the perspective of Russians about Iran; and 3) A religious approximation between Shi’a Islam and Russian Orthodoxy.

1) A Shift in the Perspective of Iranians about Russia

First a quick note about perspectives. A nation’s perspectives could both regulate and be regulated by its overall perceptions. To be sure, national perceptions are like individual perceptions but at a more complex hierarchical level. They are not rigid and have a dynamic and ever-changing nature to them. Some socio-political environments have nurturing effects that help promote individual and national thoughts and perceptions in the direction of maturing and evolving cultures. Other environments encourage cultural stagnation wrapped in an illusion of real movement, or hamster-on-the-wheel phenomenon. There are also some environments that aid human minds and societies in the direction of ever-devolving mental and cultural atrophies and decay. Therefore, the media and its role in shifting perceptions.

About a decade ago, if you had asked almost any older Iranian of any background or younger Iranians in middle and high school about Russia-Iran relationships, you would have been highly likely to hear “Qaraardaad_e Nangin_e Turkmanchaai” [the Nefarious Treaty of Turkmanchai] and “Qaraardaad_e Nangin_e Golestan” [The Nefarious Treaty of Golistan].

Even now when people are weary and/or dissatisfied with any agreement reached with some foreign power, or when a propaganda and smear campaign is leveled at Iran for reaching meaningful agreements with any power outside of those in the Western circle, you hear the opposing side, too, uses phrases like “worse than Turkmanchaai,” or “the second Turkmanchaai.” We heard these ad nauseam from Western-backed Persian-language loudspeakers and media outlets regarding the 25-year agreement with China and we are going to be fortunate enough to hear them again with any agreement between Iran and Russia. Turkmanchaai has, therefore, been a “nefariousness standard” by which to measure or falsely portray to the Iranian public how bad, shameful, or dishonorable a particular agreement is. In recent years, Barjam (JCPOA) has become the catchphrase to invoke similar sentiment.

A bit of history about that. Golistan and Tukmanchaai treaties, reached in 1813 and 1828 respectively, were two agreements according to which major portions of the Iranian soil were ceded to Russia by the incompetent kings of the Qajar dynasty and 13 years (10 +3 years combined) of wars of aggression by Russia waged against Iran during Romanovs. Specifically, the areas ceded included the Caucus region of what is now eastern part of Turkey, Republic of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, 1360 kilometer of shorelines in Caspian Sea (approximately 20,000 square kilometer area of water), and 310 kilometer of shoreline in Black Sea (120 to 150 thousand square kilometer area of water).[5]

Before these two treaties, Iran (then Persia) and Russia had a formal and sustained relationship that had begun during Safavi Dynasty and went back to more than 300 years. The connection between the two nations was a strategic alliance of necessity against a common threat from an aggressive and ruthless power: the Ottomans. The Ottomans, for most parts but not always, were not only a menace to the security of Russia, but also were actively involved attacking Iran and the Shi’a and performing their “cleansing” acts. I provide more details about that history in the upcoming essays in Wilayat and Imamat series. For this essay, it is suffice to say that Iran-Russia alliance in earlier periods was based on common threat posed by the Ottomans.

Throughout the centuries, however, in multiple occasions and at very sensitive junctures, the Russians betrayed the Iranians and repeatedly broke the pledges and agreement they had made with them. There were different factors at play for this erratic behavior. One could point to conniving influence of some European powers especially the British over Russian ruling elites (the Europeans perceived a closeness between Russia and Iran as a threat to their own interests), progressive weakening of the Ottomans therefore diminishing of their threat, and Russia’s own expansionist and hegemonic dreams, especially under Romanovs with Peter I being the most prominent among them as the most prominent factors.[6]

These are, of course, painful historical facts. Naturally, any Iranian with minuscule amount of zeal, honor, and dignity would be disgusted and shamed and it is understandable that s/he would not look too favorably toward Russia given the experiences of the past 500 years. However, there is something more paradoxical going on here than simple facts of history. I extracted a map[7] from an Iranian news and information network, Raah_e Dana [or “Informed Path News Network”] and formatted, adapted, and annotated it (see below) to illustrate a specific point. The dotted yellow and pink areas of Iran were ceded to Russia. The dotted red and green areas plus the purple area (Bahrain) were ceded to the British.

If we add total territorial areas separated from Iran by aggressive means and mischief of foreign powers in the past two hundred years, for sure, the actual territorial loss caused by Britain is far greater than that caused by Russia. Qualitatively speaking the geostrategic importance of areas lost to Britain were not any less, if not more, than those lost to Russia. It is also important to note that even Golistan, Turkmanchaai, and Akhaal treaties between Iran and Russia were the handiwork of Britain. Furthermore, if we were to catalogue national calamities exacted upon Iran and the Iranians, the backstabbing, reneging of contracts and agreements, aggressions, and plundering of Iranians’ wealth and resources by Britain, France, and the US, and killing of half the Iranian population by starvation by Britain in particular, the West wins the race in shamefulness, malevolence, and aggression by a landslide.

By simply examining facts of history and separating them from historical fictions related to Iran’s interactions with foreign powers, Iranians should then be far more resentful of the Wes and less willing to cooperate with them than with Russia if those historical experiences were the deciding factors. How come such has not been the case? How come the number of person-hours by our statesmen in official trips and state-meetings (and even backdoor meetings) with a handful of Western powers –whose treacherous and criminal treatment of Iran and Iranians has been infinitely more widespread and deep— has been manifold (until recently) of that with Russians of any level, one might be curious to ask.

We will look at the short answers first and examine a few evidences next. The first has to do with a defunct perception of strength of the West and a perceived weakness of Russia. The second relates to an obsolete perception of relative “openness” of Western societies and a perceived relative “closeness” of Russian society. The third pertains to an outdated and crude perception of Russia as a “Godless” country.

A major shift in the above perceptions within the Iranian population occurred with the Islamic Revolution. The pace for various segments of the Iranian society to catch up with realities, however, has been different. Thankfully, global events of the past two decades have been great catalysts to speed up the shift in perceptions globally for everyone including various segments of the Iranian society.

In addition, a deepening and maturing of Iran-Russia relationship has occurred in these decades as well that could be justly attributed to the efforts of significant figures like Ayatullah Khamenei and Shahid Soleimani in Iran and to President Putin in Russia. I conducted a simple search in the archive regarding meetings with heads of states and high-level officials from 1368 to present. The following data[8] is simple yet telling. It is the search result for Russia and any of the Western triplets (US, Britain, and France):

97/6/16 [Sept. 7, 2018] – Meeting with President Putin

96/8/10 [Nov. 1, 2017] – Meeting with President Putin

94/9/2 [Nov. 23, 2015] – Meeting with President Putin

86/7/24 [Oct. 16, 2007] – Meeting with President Putin

85/11/8 [Jan. 28, 2007] – Meeting with Chairman [et al.] of Russia’s National Security Council

77/7/1 [Sept. 28, 1998] – Meeting with Chairman [et al.] of State Duma

Number of meetings with any head of state and high officials from the Western triplets: Zero.

It is quite clear to independent analysts that Russia has benefited greatly from the stewardship of President Putin than any other statesman in the history of the Iran-Russia relationships in terms of relative freedom from foreign influence. The Zionist entity wields some noteworthy influence but very soon that entity, too, will become a non-issue.

Amir Abdullahian’s candid interview (referenced above) highlights this “Putin phenomenon” this way:

“When we wanted to enter into talks with Russia regarding Syria, Shahid Soleimani told us, ‘I have worked with the Russians in Afghanistan and you must have dialogue with them and if the Russians are convinced of your logic and rationale, and know exactly how the mutual interests are defined, then you could see good results in working with Russia.’ I must say though that when I was working at the Ministry of Foreign Relations and during negotiations with the special representative from President Putin in Middle East relations, when I began to talk about Syria’s crisis, my impression was that you cannot work with the Russians. However, after working closely with them for 5 years, I must clearly state that Putin’s Russia is different from Soviet Russia and even different from Russia prior to Putin. This is what I could say in terms of attending to our own national interest and in our outlook with Asian and the Eastern domain.”

In another part of his interview, he provided additional clues but this time from the Iranians’ corner:

“Some, when they see an official going to Russia or China, they begin their allegations in virtual space claiming that, ‘See how these people are pushing the country in to the arms of Russia and Communist China!’ However, our motto of Neither East, Nor West means that in the political arena we will not be subjugated to any power [East or West]. In the event of looking out for our interests, we explore both sides. The legacy of the West, the history of the West with our nation, they created so many problems for us. With the East, we have the Turkmanchai and Golestan treaties, which are our bitter experiences from the previous eras.”

Evidence also shows that Ayatullah Khamenei is among the very few top Iranian statesman, religious scholars, and thinkers who has championed and promoted an in-depth, realistic, and nuanced look at Russian society, culture, and history compared to any other scholar and/or statesman close to his caliber in Iran. Just to illustrate by way of example, I have translated a part of his talk in a meeting with government officials during President Khatami’s administration on 1379/4/19 [July 9, 2000] for you:

“Here, our own television was showing images from CNN. We saw Yeltsin had climbed up a tank and was chanting slogans like, ‘No, we do not surrender to the coup!’ Then, he went to the parliament. But the coup organizers let Yeltsin, who was then sitting in protest in Duma, be. They did not go after him but they went to Gorbachev who was on vacation in Crimea and arrested him! And Yeltsin kept on shouting and chanting slogans! They created a media mayhem in the world and, of course, there was no traces of truth and reality to what they were saying! A few tanks appeared in the streets of Moscow but three days later, there was nothing. After three days, they announced they had arrested the coup organizers at night and in their sleep! The result from this coup was that Yeltsin who was the number two character practically became number one in charge!”

Right at that time, our foreign minister was visiting Central Asian Republics. Upon his return, I asked about his assessment and he said, ‘It’s clear that Yeltsin is in charge of the Soviet and not Gorbachev!’ It was also clear to the world that was the case. Then, the Republics demanded their independence one after another. For instance, Crimea would ask for its independence. Gorbachev would refuse but Yeltsin would say ‘We accept.’ Then, after two to three days, Gorbachev would accept it as well. Therefore, they had created a condition that Gorbachev would either feel compelled to pre-emptively agree and chant the same slogans so that he is not left behind; or, after a few days, he would follow the other one [Yeltsin] because the world-wide propaganda would not allow anything other than what Yeltsin was saying.

This trend had begun around the end of Khordad (3rd month in spring). After that, they brought up the issue of Gorbachev pulling out of the Party’s chairmanship, then the dismantling of the communist party, then the announcement regarding the defeat of communism – the exact things that made [US] Americans quite gleeful – and, finally, they spread the rumor about Gorbachev’s resignation. Right at that time, during an interview, they asked Gorbachev, ‘Will you resign or not?’ and he responded, ‘I am waiting for the [US] American secretary of state to come to Moscow to see what happens!’ The [US] American secretary of state came to Moscow and before making any contacts with Gorbachev, he went straight to Yeltsin. In main official meeting hall in Kremlin! That meant Gorbachev was finished! Three days later, Gorbachev resigned and Soviet disintegration was announced! This was a successful [US] American plot in the Soviet. That means, they were able to fully destroy a superpower with a very well-designed plot, a bit of money, purchasing some people, and extensive media propaganda; they were able to completely demolish it with a three-to-four-year plan and a six-to-seven-month implementation!”

“Of course, I must tell you that Russia, after disintegration of the Soviet, like they wished for, did not become the 2nd Brazil. They wanted to turn Russia into another Brazil – it means, into a 3rd rate country in the world – high production but afflicted with deep poverty and very little significant role in world’s politics. You look, where in the world the words and opinion of Brazil attracts anyone? They wanted to turn Russia into this but it did not happen. Why? Because Russia is a very strong and tough nation. Racially speaking, they are resilient people. Their progress in industry, in nuclear science, their scientists, their research works and other assets are quite noteworthy.”

“The plotters of these events (refers to the civil uprisings during late 1990s in Iran), too, were dreaming of similar dreams regarding the Islamic Republic. They were cutting and sewing for themselves. They cannot imagine that if the Islamic Republic of Iran were to face a similar fate as the Soviet, it becomes something like today’s Russia. No. They think Iran is a country at the level of Pahlavi era. That means, a level lower than Turkey! Because they imagine that there is no atom [nuclear research or bomb] here, no scientific progress, no 300-million population, no country as vast as Russia which even today is almost the largest country in the world. That’s what they are thinking!”[9]

The above sorts of detailed narrations and clarifications (and in simple terms for the public) are extremely effective in replacing shallow perspectives with insightful ones, especially at the population level. Even though these noteworthy forces counter a barrage of attacks in the past couple of decade or so, lots more work in all arenas are needed. These are other straight forward realities: Persian-language media (in all their forms from written books to children cartoons) available to the Iranians have been dominated by anti-Russia discourse. One can find something for everyone: For religious groups, the communist (read Godless) episodes in Russian history have often been emphasized. For the liberal-minded groups, some sorts of cultural rigidity and closed-system aspects have been highlighted. For national zealots, aggressive and expansionist dimensions of Russia’s past against Iran have regularly and artfully been flashed. For those who are quite distrustful, specific instances of Russia’s reneging on their pledges to Iranians have been put on display.

2) A Shift in the Perspective of Russians about Iran

For evidence on a shift in the perspective of Russians about Iran, I have to rely mostly on the publicly available information and reports of interactions that have revolved around socio-cultural, political, and security issues available to us here in Iran. This blog and the Saker’s writings and emails have been, by all means, invaluable sources of information, I must add. By design and their nature, these lenses allow a very limited point of view and cannot qualitatively compare to first hand empirical knowledge one gains by being personally present in a given society. Therefore, I apologize, in advance, to the readers of this essay and good people of Russia for the shortcomings of what I write.

I present segments of transcripts from video clips that are in Russian with Farsi subtitles. My translation here is of the Farsi translations of those segments which are in Russian. So, you could imagine this sort of flow inevitably gathers a good amount of verbal debris on its path. Nevertheless, for now, that is the best I could do and for the purpose of the points I am making, I think an illustration of approximate sentiments are adequate for now.

During a discussion panel shown in Rossiya 1 TV channel on the subject of a US Navy destroyer (I am guessing it is about McCain nav.-ship) which had accidently on purpose wandered into Russia’s territorial waters, Alexey Naumov, an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (Russia) expressed the followings in that panel:

Alexey Naumov: “The American experts are saying it this way. They say that they are providing for the security of America. If they were moving near American borders, that is, if they were moving within 12 miles of their maritime, we, too, would have viewed it relatively positively. Also, let us remember how other countries react to American deception, especially Iran. This is an example of a good lesson for us. We remember how in 2016, the border patrols of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard brought the American navy personnel to their knees.”

Another participant: “They disarmed them and brought them to their knees!”

Alexey Naumov: “…this was while they had ‘accidently’ [he draws air quotes] entered into the Iranians’ water territories.

Another participant: “They had been ‘lost’! So long as we know.”

Alexey Naumov: “Next we remember how Iran targeted American bases in Iraq after General Soleimani was killed. But Russia behaves leniently. Sometimes they behave too leniently. But why are Americans doing this? Note that Americans do stupid things but we do not yield to their pressure.”

Another participant: “In fact, the issue here is what is it that we are proud of? What is the right thing to do? They violated our borders. Either we must shoot missiles at them in a way there wouldn’t be any damages like shooting one to the sky and one right behind its rear [other participants laughing], or we should aim straight for the deck.”

Alexey Naumov: “The violators must be arrested just as we do with others who violate our borders. Arrests would yield good results but the current anti-ship missiles do not operate this way.”[10] </blockquote>

In the above panel, based on the dialogue and the body language of the participants, one gets a distinct impression that they have a more positive view of Iran’s firm and decisive reaction when faced with the US infractions than what they perceive as Russia’s meek response. It is just human nature to root for the one who challenges a bully. It is rather simple.

A speech by the Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, aired more than a year ago again in Rossiya 1 TV channel, included the following segment in reference to Iran:

<blockquote> “… See how they [US] occupied Iraq. They easily walked into Iraq. Without any resistance. Nine Iraqi generals got a few million dollars and went to London and Iraq no longer had any armies. That is it!”

“But Iran, whose regime is being criticized; it is Shi’a; it is in control of the situation. The Sunni world does not have a leader but Iranians do. Imam Khamenei, and before him Imam Khomeini. Because of this, the regime is resilient. Because of this, this country is not like Iraq. They [the Iranians] do not go off the path. Why were there millions of people in General Soleimani’s [funeral] walk? He had the charisma of Dzerzhinsky and … [cannot figure the names] in one. He was faithful to the revolution and destroyed all the enemies of the Iranian revolution and was very famous. Then everything happened together in Iran. They are on at the top of the Shi’a world. The killing of their most important symbol caused the nation to cry for him. Even some people who may not have supported him before cried.”

“This country is [one of] the youngest countries in the world. [Few] countries are as young as this country. It has 80 million population and very soon it will reach 100 million in the next 20 years. Median age is 25 and 70 percent are young. They will all work. There is no need for them to be sent to violence. They can make bombs in their own country. That means, they are ready for everything. Today, this system is a great system.”

“But what do we do? We destroyed our own religion. We filled our priests’ mouths with molten lead! Do you get it?! We threw away our young people. We destroyed our whistle blowers. We threw away our intellectuals. They don’t throw away anyone but we chase away everyone.”[11]

Some of the statistics about Iran in the above statement are inaccurate but the overall tone reflects the speaker’s positive view regarding Iran’s religious leadership, sacrifices of commanders like Sardar Soleimani, diversity of views, and the Iranian society’s endurance. Iran’s positive, energetic, and youthful outlook, too, holds promises and could increase the potential for greater exchange between Iranian and Russian societies.

I have translated one last segment from statements made by another Russian expert on regional security and military issues that is reflective of a Russian perspective that gives a more labyrinthine character to Iranians in general and its leadership and the Revolutionary Guard in particular.

“But what is more interesting is that if there is a conflict, Iran has the capacity for extensive retaliation against the Americans in Iraq. The Americans in Iraq have less than 10,000 military men but what is the paramilitary force that enters the conflict? That is Hashd Al-Shaabi. With more than 100,000 organized force and 40 diverse paramilitary units and Shi’a, among which there are smaller units of Assyrian Christians and Yazidi groups. When something happens there, of course the Iranian military advisors are there, too. On the other hand, these forces are equipped with American arms which had been specially shipped to Iraq during Daesh presence. Abrams tanks 2, 3, and so on. Exactly here, the Iranians could retaliate.”

“If we had been in place of Revolutionary Guard commanders, we would have planned what to do with the Americans. But how do the Iranians manage things? [They say,] ‘There is no need to take anyone to any of the bases there. Why should we do something stupid like that?! Let’s put the pressure on them in Iraq and exactly there demolish American forces. And we will show them that two billion dollars they spent and a thousand of their forces did not benefit them even a bit. In Iraq, we were present and we will continue to be present.’ This is a real and great victory from the perspective of military relationships. [They say,] ‘Let the Americans try and imagine they could control [things] there [in Iraq].’”[12]

These discussions and dialogue demonstrate great potential for a positive and nuanced change in perspective of Russians about Iran and the Iranians and a fertile ground to cultivate a mutually respectful and non-transgressive relationship between the two nations.

3) A Religious Approximation between Shi’a Islam and Russian Orthodoxy

Taqrib_e Mazahib (or, Religious Approximation) is the term used to describe activities by the Islamic Republic of Iran especially Qom Seminary to bring together scholars, practitioners, and representatives from diverse religions and denominations of the world for an ongoing and meaningful discourse in order to improve knowledge and understanding among these religions and help improve the condition of humanity in all material and spiritual domains.

To shed some light on the history of the relationship between Shi’a Islam and Russian Orthodoxy, I bring here a short presentation by Dr. Muhammad Masjidjamei, a scholar and thinker who has been quite active in the area of Taqrib related to Russian Orthodox Church. He delivered his lecture titled “We and the Russian Orthodox Church: Iran Eurasian Reality of Russia,”[13] during a two-day conference held by the University of Religions and Denomination in Qom in Shahrivar 1393 [2014/8/25-26] on Evaluation of Eight Rounds of Religious Dialogue between Muslims and Orthodox Christians over Seventeen Years. Since it contains many key points and gives a mini-history of the interaction (up until 2014), I have translated all but the very first greeting lines:

“…Under current critical conditions in the region and the world crises, perhaps one could say extreme crises, we desperately need gatherings of this nature so that we could find solutions for current crises or at least ways to reduce them by relying on meaningful cooperation and sharing of thoughts and ideas. Part of the reason for current difficult conditions is a lack of serious discussion and counsel among those who have shared view points and interests. I very much hope this conference could offer a real platform for these sorts of cooperation.

It was midyear 1991 when I was sent to Vatican as an ambassador for my country. It was a few months after the occupation of Kuwait and right at the heels of disintegration of the Eastern Block and Soviet Union. These events had great impacts on Europe especially the relationships among various churches, in particular two major and quite different Catholic and Orthodox churches. Even a very short explanation about the transformative events between these two churches would take a very long time. But the most noteworthy point for me was that reached a realization about the logic and thinking behind the behavior of the Orthodox Church. At that time and under those critical conditions, the Church was in a rather passive and defensive position. To discover the root of this logic, I needed to study extensively their works be those of the church officials or the others or what related to their contemporary history , or the history, culture and beliefs and their harsh experiences with the communist regimes, or their position and grievances with the Catholic Church, the media, and other publications.

This was my first serious encounter with the realities of Orthodox Church. A church that in those early years in 90s few open ears in Europe were willing to listen to what they had to say. The strong waves of criticism against communism was so fierce and widespread that no one was willing to see a single positive point in the Eastern Block of that time. The Orthodox Church, too, was being viewed as part of the ruling socialist system and was perceived to have been at the service of the system. The reality was that this distorted view and these sorts of propaganda had influenced the thinking of the Muslim World. The war of the Balkans and Bosnia was fueling it even further.

The reality was not at all like what was being portrayed. Probably, Iran realized this point faster than any other Muslim country and began to have a more open and active policy with Orthodox churches. At the height of the Bosnian war, many meetings took place between our ambassador in Sarajevo and Late Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle. In addition, several meetings took place between some of our political and religious representatives and the bishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Kuharic, and the bishop of Sarajevo, Puljic, who had just become a cardinal.

What was important here was that Iran understood rather quickly that to solve the Bosnian problem, or at least to reduce tensions, first and foremost the venue of religion was instrumental, and secondly, Orthodox Church had the most fundamental role in this and should not be neglected because of negative propaganda. As such, Iran, in establishing relations with Serbian Orthodox Church was a maverick and a leader among the Islamic countries. So long as I remember, from among the Western countries, [US] Americans and the British tried to establish relations with Serbian churches much later.

It was more or less around this time, as well, that Iran realized the great importance of Russian Orthodox Church as a historical and cultural identity of Russian nation, as a reality that could help expand and deepen the reciprocal relation between the two nations (Iran and Russia), and in the internal scene, as a catalyst to improve the relations between the Russian Muslim minorities, the Russian society and the Russian State. This was especially critical since there were problems in Caucus and Northern Caucus regions. The sort of problems that kept on accumulating and getting worse.

In fall of 1993, I took a trip to Moscow and met with late Russian Patriarch Alexy II, There I became closely familiar with different sections and teachings of this church. Following that, the Russian Orthodox Church representative to Iran was assigned and the bilateral dialogue and relationship started and have continued to this date.

Even though Iran has had great many dialogues with many churches, its dialogue with the Russian Church has remained one of the most systematic, sustainable, and institutionalized one today. This demonstrates the importance of the relationship between the two and the resolve on both sides to continue this relationship. So, the question now is how this relationship could become even more active and constructive. What additional potentials does it have?

Russia is a Eurasian reality. This reality existed throughout ups and downs of history whether it was during the tsars, or the socialist rulers, or thereafter. And it will continue to exist in the future. The problem of the West with Russia, to some extent, is due to this very historical and identity reality. They want a Russia that is European not Eurasian. A Russia whose policies and politics are played within the European frameworks and by their standards. Russia wants to be Russia and remain Russia. From this perspective, this country, too, is parallel in line with everyone and all countries which want to have a life according to their own culture and identity.

In addition, Russia is one of the few countries that stands up to multi-faceted Western dictatorship. The clearest sign of this is seen in Russia’s Middle East policies in the aftermath of Arab springs. Another important point is that the Eurasian characteristic of Russia and its look towards Asia makes it a weighty Asian component in international relations. No doubt, a closer cooperation with Asian countries as well as China and India makes this share weightier and to the benefit of all Asians, us, and Russia itself.

Here, I cannot count all the points that relate to Eurasian reality/nature of Russia and its many significances. But I could very summarily say that it [Russia’s Eurasian nature] is to the best interest of us and all independent countries which want to rely on their own culture and potentials in life. What is important to remember is that Russian Church, both directly and indirectly, is the most significant cornerstone of this reality. Orthodox churches, including Russian churches, are far more eastern than the Catholic and Protestant churches. This is an intrinsic characteristic of this church.

We should not forget that Russia is the largest country in the world and has within it many diverse people, religions, and cultures and to be sure, Russian Church has its own unique place. This does not mean that other religions and cultures are pushed aside. Islam and Islamic culture, too, is an important reality and part of Russian identity. Also, the Eurasian characteristic of Russia, to a notable extent is due to its Islamic heritage as well. Besides, if Russia wishes to have independent policies in the international arena free of Western domination, it needs, at the least, receptive co-thinkers. For sure, among the Muslim nations, there are countries which can and want to stand besides Russia but this is possible only if the Muslim minority in Russia have a suited status. From this perspective, acknowledging other religions and groups, including Islam, is a necessity for Russia. Although a great portion of this attention relates to the state and the ruling system, Orthodox Church can play a significant constructive and facilitative role.

It is for certain that a cooperation between Iran and this Church is very valuable, nay, extremely valuable. Also, this cooperation can be instrumental in remedying takfiri thoughts and extremist groups in Russia. Parts of the causes of takfiri thoughts go to a lack of depth in understanding the religion itself. Without a doubt, Iran, for the richness of its religious, philosophical, and spiritual thoughts is one of the most suitable countries to help fill these gaps.

It is rather difficult to put all potential areas of cooperation in one short article. Certainly, scientific and academic cooperation is one of them. Right now, there are so many Western religious texts written by either formal religious figures or non-religious thinkers and translated into Farsi. However, you can rarely find authentic translations of Orthodoxy texts that have been written by the Orthodox themselves. This is also true of research in Christianity. Many books and manuscripts about history, culture, and beliefs of Protestant and Catholic churches are written but the Orthodoxy texts are quite sparse.

Another key point is the existence and continued presence in Middle East of Christians who are mainly Orthodox. They are part of the history and culture of this region and have had much greater impact on literature and culture of contemporary Arab societies relative to their numbers. However, the upheavals of Arab spring have shaken up their positions as well. This is while their presence in the region, for various reasons, is positive and beneficial to a social and cultural balance and prevention of a polarization in these societies. If they had played a more active role, takfiri thought would not have found an opportunity to expand and monopolize the scene.

Fortunately, the Christians in the region, especially the Orthodox, do not have evangelical tendencies which is an important point because such situation itself prepares the ground for salafi thoughts. Without a doubt, cooperation and co-counseling between Iran and Russian church, and other churches in the region, could help reform the conditions. If such relation had existed at the beginning of Syrian crisis, the overall condition of the country and the situation of its Christians would have been much better than what it is now.

Indeed, the areas for cooperation is far more than what has been mentioned here. Given the circumstances of the two countries and international and regional realities, when this cooperation starts, new opportunities will also emerge. What is important is that both sides must, having taken into account the actualities and the limitations, must pursue their collaboration and cooperation with serious will and make progress.”

It might be interesting for you to know that the exchange between Iran and the Russian Orthodox Church went on for several years before Sardar Soleimani could convince President Putin to commit Russia’s military to Syrian war as a practical step to block the spread of takfiries. The Church had already been convinced!

To wrap up the essay and put things succinctly, cooperation between Iran and Russia regarding Syria was only a pilot test and shifts in the Iranian and Russian nations’ perspectives have already occurred. However, a lot more media products, people-to-people exchange and interactions in socio-economic, scientific, and cultural fields are also needed to help promote a more insightful and culturally mature public perceptions on both sides.

References

[1] Center for Research of the Islamic Republic of Iran Majlis [Parliament]. “The policies pertaining to the agreement between the Islamic of Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation based on mutual relationship and principles of cooperation.” The Date of Approval: 1380/10/16 [Jan. 6, 2002]. Available in Farsi online at: https://rc.majlis.ir/fa/law/print_version/93690

[2] Entekhab News Site, Video Archive, “Explanation by Special Advisor to the Head of Majlis regarding Qalibaf’s trip to Moscow.” 1399/11/22 @ 22:41, News Code: 602070. Accessed online at: https://www.entekhab.ir/002Wco

[3] Niki Maleki J. (1399). “Why the Leader’s Message to Putin is important.” Mashriq News, the Sun always Rises from the East, Bahman 21, 1399 [Feb. , 2021]; 18:57; News Code: 1179189. Accessed online at: mshrgh.ir/1179189

[4] Mashriq News, Trans. from Farsi: “The Important Tweet from the Russian Account of the Publication Office of the Revolution Leader’s Works.” 20th Bahman, 1399, 14:36, News Code: 1178619. Accessed online at: mshrgh.ir/1178619

[5] Golistan and Turkmanchaai Treaties

[6] Karami J (1397 HS [2019]). Trans. from Farsi: “Iran and Russia in the Passage of History: Security Environment and the Issues of Threats and Alliances.” Quarterly of History of Foreign Relations, No. 75, Summer 1397, Pages 65-97.

جهانگیر کرمی، “ایران و روسیه در گذر تاریخ: محیط امنیتی و مساله تهدید و اتحاد.” فصلنامۀ تاریخ روابط خارجی، شماره 75، سال نوزدهم، تابستان 1397، صص 65 تا 97.

[7] Rah_e Dana Information Network. Trans. from Farsi: “Turkmanchaai, a Nefarious History in Auctioning off the Homeland.” 1396/2/12, 15:29, News ID: 1096763. Accessed online at: https://www.dana.ir/1096763

[8] List of official visits from heads of states with the Leader of Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei. Accessed online on March 2, 2021 @ 12:00 noon; at: https://farsi.khamenei.ir/tag-content?id=11172

[9] Sayyed Ali Khamenei. “Speech during visit with officials and members of government of Islamic Republic of Iran” on 1379/4/19 [July 9, 2000]. Accessed online at: https://farsi.khamenei.ir/speech-content?id=3016

[10] KavoshMedia, What They Say About Us. “Iranians disarmed and brought American navy personnel to their knees.” 2021/1/11 @ 13:01:28 Tehran Time, Original in Russian Language. Accessed on line at: https://kavoshmedia.com

[11] Tabnak Javan News Agency. “Nuanced View of the Leader of Liberal Democratic Party of Russia about Iranians.” 1398/12/8 [Feb. 27, 2020] @ 18:09; News Code: 14130.

[12] Kavoshmedia. “Russian expert’s view regarding Iran’s great victory in Iraq,” aired on Rossya 1, Posted 24/11/2020 @ 4:30 UTC.

[13] Masjidjamei M. “We and Russian Orthodox Church: Iran and Eurasian Realities of Russia.” University of Religions and Denominations, Publication date: 1393/6/12. Accessed online at: https://urd.ac.ir/fa/cont/355

They say that great myths die hard

They say that great myths die hard …

February 28, 2021

By The Ister for the Saker Blog

They say that great myths die hard, but as it fades into obscurity will anyone really miss the Saudi state?

Because the Kingdom’s cosmopolitan elite longed to be like the West, they imported European sports cars and erected enormous skyrises using slave labor. Riyadh and Jeddah transformed into shopping centers and hubs of oligarchic largesse while the oil-rich sheiks appeased the conservative populace by sanctioning Wahhabist doctrine, public beatings and beheadings, and other backwards symbolic gestures.

Saudi Arabia is essentially based on this great contradiction: posturing itself as the hardline leader of the Islamic world while aligning with America and carrying out a foreign policy that has killed countless Muslims, a contradiction that exists because it is an artificial construct of imperialism.

In the early 1900s, British spies in the Middle East sought to partition off Ottoman claims in the Arab Peninsula with the help of Arab rebels such as Emir Faisal. These spies who included Edmund Allenby and the famous T E Lawrence led the Arab Revolt of 1916 and successfully revoked Ottoman control of the region.

A little-known fact is that Israel and Saudi Arabia share this same point of origin. In December of 1918 after the success of the Arab Revolt, Lord Walter Rothschild held a banquet for Emir Faisal culminating in the signing of the Faisal-Weizmann agreement, used to demonstrate Arab support for the Balfour Declaration: the document that laid the foundation for the state of Israel. The rebels who had been promised a unified Arab state stretching from Aden to Aleppo had been lied to however, as the leaked Sykes Picot agreement revealed a plot by imperial powers to divide and conquer the Middle East along sectarian lines.

Today the pan-Arab doctrine of the government of Bashar al-Assad is the ideological progenitor of those early rebels who fought to unite the Arab world against the wishes of imperialists. The stoking of the Syrian Civil War was just an extension of century-old divide and conquer tactics, as the West sought to enrage Sunnis against the secular Syrian Arab government for the betterment of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and Israel. Recall too that neo-Ottoman Turkey is aware of the imperial history and sees Syria as Ottoman territory lost to the West.

If the Syrian revolution ever had a grassroots base it was in the impoverished Sunni Idlib governorate, where Turkey and Saudi Arabia had for decades financed Salafist mosques and imams with the intention of eventually breaking this region off from Syria. Although the remaining terrorists in Idlib have yet to be defeated, Saudi Arabia’s failure to achieve full regime change in the Syrian Civil War marks its waning power: previously both Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein spoke out in favor of pan-Arabism and denounced the Saudis at the cost of their lives. Unlike the ideological and religious bonds that tie America and Israel, America’s commitment to Saudi Arabia was always strategically contingent and several developments suggest that it is declining.

America has abandoned support for the war in Yemen

The war against the Houthi movement in Yemen has been fought with a threefold strategy: sanctions to starve the Yemeni population, targeted assassinations to kill Shia imams and others tied to the Houthis, and traditional military force by Saudi conscripts. The Kingdom’s force has performed poorly and relied heavily on support from America. In one case in 2019, the Saudis were planning an attack in the disputed town of Najran in retaliation for missile strikes on Riyadh oil facilities. They were baited into a trap and over 2,500 were captured by Houthi forces. In blind retaliation, they struck a Houthi prison in Yemen and killed over 290 of their own prisoners.

It is no surprise in such conditions that morale is low among the Kingdom’s soldiers and that Iran has supported the Houthi side with weapons and intelligence.

Why has America abandoned its ally in the conflict? Simply, we don’t need Saudi oil as much anymore. Shale gas technology completely changed the nature of the global oil and gas industry and broke the Saudi monopoly. Recall my article The Empire is Losing the Energy War. Since then, more confirmation of this thesis has come around as prices have risen – beneficial to Russia, and oil experts have broadly agreed that Russia has won the most recent price war with the Saudis. America’s withdrawal in Yemen is an acknowledgement of their diminishing role and a reason which under Trump’s “Middle East Peace Plan” Saudi Arabia panickedly sought to tie its future not to oil production but to the creation of a joint security bloc against Iran.

Pipeline developments: NordStream 2 and Goreh Jask

By mid-2020, two major new pipelines are expected to be built. The first is the NordStream 2, which will cement Russia’s control of European energy markets. Washington is moving in slow motion to try and stop this pipeline but it is basically already done. Only 100 miles of pipe remain and the Biden admin’s early smackdown of the American energy industry with the Keystone XL cancellation means that there will not be enough American gas to provide an alternative to Russia. The German public retains a dislike for Russia but the industrialists have pushed ahead regardless.

NordStream 2 serves two other geopolitical purposes. First, Ukraine will be deprived of $1-2 billion of energy transit revenue, a big deal for a country with a $150 billion GDP. This also lowers NATO’s interest in Ukraine, which will suddenly have less of an ability to bottleneck Russian energy shipments to Europe. Second, the pipeline also reduces Russia’s exposure to Turkey as an energy transit and will allow Russia to be more “gloves off” in northern Syria without risking economic retaliation.

Iran’s Goreh Jask pipeline is expected to be completed by June 2021, and the development will improve the country’s energy situation by limiting its reliance on the Strait of Hormuz and opening up Southeast Asian markets to Iranian oil. In addition to promoting economic ties with the rest of Asia the move also allows Iran to potentially shut off the Strait of Hormuz in a crisis situation, a hypothetical move which never made sense in the past given that it would kill its own energy exports. Naturally, sanctions have been applied to the project but this has simply been used as an opportunity to develop domestic industrial capacity: over 95% of the parts for the Goreh Jask pipeline have been sourced domestically.

Iran is increasing its influence in Iraq and Syria

The increased Iranian influence on Iraq suggests that supporting the overthrow of Saddam Hussein may have been a miscalculation by the Western bloc. The government of Hussein was aggressive on Iran-Iraq border issues and had a large and powerful military. With Iraq’s expensive military infrastructure largely destroyed and a diminished American presence, Iran has grown its soft power both through religious and economic outreach.

In southeastern Iraq, Iran is massively expanding and developing Shia shrines at sites like Kerbala as a method of promoting its influence. Some of these developments are enormous, for example the $600 million expansion of the Imam Hussein shrine, which was mostly constructed with Iranian funds and parts. These developments also give economic opportunity to both Shia and Sunni Iraqis who are paid to work in construction and benefit from increased tourism. Conducting business in eastern Iraq also gives Iran an opportunity to transact in a region unaffected by sanctions.

Political power is another way that Iran has expanded its reach. The prime minister of Iraq is aligned with the Saudis and Americans but outnumbered in parliament by pro-Iranian MPs, and has been able to do little to diminish the Iranian presence.

As far as Syria, the Iranian angle must be considered. In July of 2015, Quds force General Qasem Soleimani visited Moscow to work out the details of the Russian intervention with Vladimir Putin. Although Moscow denies this likely to maintain good relations with Israel, Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah recently stated that it was Soleimani that convinced Putin to enter the conflict. What was exchanged during that conversation in July of 2015? It is impossible to know but it can be reasonably assumed based on how things unfolded that the Russian intervention was largely a cover for Iranian movement into Syria.

The majority of the leg work performed in the Syrian Civil War was done by Syrians and Iranians. While Russia provided crucial air support and logistics, the on-the-ground troop counts have remained small. What Russian intervention did however was to provide the stamp of legitimacy of a powerful, nuclear armed nation to the Syrian/Iranian side, to prevent any major invasion, and to quickly soften the tones on the Assad government. By clearing ISIS out of central Syria, Iran has now created a contiguous path through Syria and Lebanon and upheld its Syrian ally at the expense of the Saudis.

Pakistan is drifting to Iran

In recent history Pakistan has been heavily dependent on Saudi Arabia, in part due to a Sunni majority and a large amount of outstanding loans financed by the Kingdom. As Sheikh Imran Hosein put it unflatteringly, Pakistan has served as “a shoeshine boy for the Saudis.” Several wedges are growing between this strong historical relationship.

First, Pakistan is warming to its neighbor Iran and the new prime minister of Pakistan has accelerated ties with its western neighbor in many areas. One is the accelerated development of a massive Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad railway which highlights an emerging challenge to Saudi supremacy: the nascent Turkey/Iran/Malaysia/Qatar bloc in the Muslim world could potentially expand to include Pakistan. Keeping Pakistan away from Iran has long been an intention of the Saudis, who sought to fuel tensions with their neighbor by financing anti-Shia terrorism in Pakistan in the 80s and 90s. Nevertheless, the two countries seem to be getting over it and the populations of both nations rate each other positively in opinion polling.

Another sign of nervousness in the West about Pakistan-Iranian integration is the failed attempt to stop the construction of the new Iran-Pakistan oil pipeline with threats of sanctions. This will further pull Pakistan into the Iranian orbit.

A new major straining factor on the relationship with Saudi Arabia is Riyadh’s unwillingness to defend Pakistan’s claims to the disputed Kashmir border region. Pakistan has hoped that the Kingdom would defend its claim, but Saudi Arabia has been unwilling to do so.

Finally, there is the issue of Israel. Saudi Arabia would like to recognize Israel as soon as possible but doing so would cause massive protests in Pakistan and ruin the Saudi reputation there. Therefore it is trying to pressure Pakistan to first recognize Israel, something which would be unpopular and put the Pakistani government in a precarious situation domestically.

The Saudis are losing their status as the head of the Muslim world

Consider the Iranian ambassador to Pakistan’s recent comments while promoting the D-8 organization of Islamic nations:

“Countries like Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Russia and China have the potential to form a new alliance for better future of the region”

None of this economic integration would be occurring if not for the US sanctions policy. The impact of sanctions has been to lay the groundwork for creation of a “Zone B” which circumvents the Empire entirely. A model that replaces proxy wars, regime change, and terrorist funding with peaceful economic integration and diplomacy. If Iran had full access to international markets it would have been content to sell its exports to the highest bidder and would not be forced to expand its influence regionally as it is currently doing.

What does this emerging “Zone B” look like? Well, let’s start with the Muslim countries labeled an “Axis of Evil” by George Bush and John Bolton:

Syria, Iraq, Iran. And of course we can add in Lebanon, Yemen, and Palestine right off the bat to this anti-imperial bloc. The growing ties between Sunni Pakistan, heterogeneous Syria, and Shia Iran foreshadow a geographically contiguous model of peaceful relations between Islamic nations untainted by the Takifirism of Saudi Arabia, with Syria and Lebanon serving as a tolerant bridge between the Sunni and Shia regions of the Arab world.

This bloc could then be combined with the D-8 Muslim countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. D-8 alone represents one billion people and over 60% of the Islamic world. Iran, as a major advocate of inter-Islamic integration through organizations such as D-8 would be the lynchpin connecting the resistance nations of the Arab world with the larger emerging Islamic economies in a new trade network to bypass sanctions. (It is worth adding that all D-8 nations other than Turkey supported Syria’s side against Saudi in the civil war, so such an alliance is not much of a stretch by any means.)

Add in China, Russia, Mongolia, Myanmar, and the ‘stans and this new Asian empire would come to span a lion’s share of the planet’s population, GDP, energy resources, and habitable surface area. Moscow and Berlin would emerge as gates between East and West while the sprawling trading network of China would provide an alternative to the overregulated and strings-attached commerce and financing available in the West. China has already replaced America as the major trading partner for most nations.

Though there are other concurrent factors at play, the state of Saudi Arabia which once served as the lynchpin for dividing the Islamic world is diminishing, as Eurasian integration progresses naturally. No color revolutions or regime change are required for this process to continue because:

Zone A’s claims to upholding human rights and other civil liberties increasingly appear like a bad joke: undermined by lockdowns, tech censorship, and politically correct speech codes

Zone B is working past historic rivalries in the pursuit of development while Zone A embraces legally enshrined racism and creates complex taxonomies of privilege to delineate tiers of citizenship

Zone B’s population is growing while Zone A’s is declining

Zone B’s share of global wealth is growing while Zone A’s is declining

Zone B has a burgeoning middle class while Zone A’s middle class is disappearing

Zone B is doing away with extreme politics while Zone A is swept by cultural revolution


The Ister is a researcher of financial markets and geopolitics. Author of The Ister: Escape America

Naqqash’s solution for Middle East: A Levantine Confederation (Pt. 1)

September 29, 2020

Description: 

In a recent conference held on Zoom and published on YouTube, senior Middle East political analyst Anees Naqqash spoke about his 2014 book titled The Levantine Confederation: The Battle of Identities and Policies.

The book proposes that the solution to the chronic problems of the war-ravaged and tumultuous Middle East region lies in the establishment of a confederation that unites the states of the Levant, or what Naqqash often calls the ‘West Asian region’.

Middle East Observer will gradually be publishing English translations of the author’s online talk over several posts. This is part one, which revolves around Naqqash’s initial motivation for developing the concept of a ‘Levantine Confederation’.

(Read Part Two here)

Source:  Kalam Siyasi (YouTube Channel)

Date:  Aug 26, 2020

(Important Note: Please help us keep producing independent translations for you by contributing as little as $1/month here)

Transcript :

One does not need to be a political or strategic expert in order to know that our (Arab and Islamic) countries are (currently) living through numerous wars, whether internal wars or those of an external (nature); and that international and local powers are participating in these wars; and that the (Arab and Islamic) nation’s capabilities are being exhausted by these wars and violence. Its unity, territorial integrity, potentials, property and civilization are being consumed (as a result).

The worst thing about these wars is that they often tarnish and distort (true) Islamic thought, thus proving that many of those who bear arms (in this region) are in a state of aimlessness regarding the actual and necessary track that they should pursue in order to confront the true enemies of the nation. In other words, it has been proven that many activists and local actors have a weak (level of) awareness. Thus, these topics must be highlighted in order to put things back on track.

Naqqash's solution for Middle East: The Levantine Confederation (Pt. 1) | Middle  East Observer

The idea of a Levantine Confederation stems from two points. First, history shows that for more than 1400 years our region lived in a state of empire, starting from the Umayyads, to the Abbasids, all the way to the Ottoman Sultanate. Apart from some perversions during the Crusades and the Tatar and Mongol wars, the region lived in (a state of imperial) unity. No foreign power was allowed to intervene in its military, intellectual or economic affairs. However, following the two world wars, the (Arab & Muslim) nation was faced with a set of programs, plans and schemes resulting from its military defeat against the Western powers. This defeat enabled these (Western) powers to set up a very dangerous triangle for us: the Sykes-Picot-Balfour triangle.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement (in 1916) divided the Arab states in the region into small(er) states, while the Balfour Declaration (in 1917) fulfilled the promise of giving Palestine to the Jews for the establishment of a (Jewish) entity, one of the most brutal entities that the (Arab and Muslim) nation has ever faced in the modern era in terms of military, conspiratorial and intelligence capabilities. Today, this (Israeli) entity is posing a new danger, penetrating deep into the nation and the minds of its people.

In addition, these geographical divisions (created by Sykes-Picot and Balfour) established two types of regimes. First, there were the regimes that were built for religious-sectarian reasons, such as the Lebanese state established as a favor for the (Christian) Maronites in Lebanon. However, Lebanon has changed due to shifts in different kinds of balances as Maronites are no longer the largest demographic group (in Lebanon), nor do they occupy the main role in the country. Therefore, Lebanon always suffers from political problems because of its system that is based on sectarian identity, while it is demographically changing in relation to its sects, as some sects weaken and others grow stronger, which causes continuous security disturbances.

In fact, a part of Syrian land was cut off during the drawing of the map of Lebanon. The map of Syria was not drawn by the hands of its people. Rather, it was established based on the lines and borders demarcated by the French, who at that time gave Turkey a part of Syrian territory. Turkey was the only country (in the region) to demarcate its own borders via blood (i.e. through the military sacrifices that it made), because it was defending what was left of the Ottoman Empire. In other words, historically, Turkey was the only country whose borders were drawn with the blood of its people. Meanwhile, Lebanon’s borders were determined by the French Commission (the French body that controlled Lebanon). Many parts of Syrian territory were cut off, and what was left became the Syrian state.

Naqqash's solution for Middle East: The Levantine Confederation (Pt. 1) | Middle  East Observer

The good thing about Syria is that it preserved its unity against the four-zone division project that the French were planning for. (The French) wanted to establish (four states): an Alawite state, a Druze state, and two Sunni states, one in the north and another in the center; but this project was foiled by the national unity of the Syrians.

Iraq did not demarcate its (own) borders either. Not one Iraqi was involved in the drawing up of the map of Iraq. It was Miss Gertrude Bell – an advisor at the British Foreign Ministry – who drew up the map (of Iraq) and proclaimed Faisal the King of Iraq, based on a sectarian equation that would satisfy both the Shias and Sunnis, and she added some Kurds to a part of the current Iraqi map because (she deemed them) as fierce fighters who would fight against Turkey if a clash broke out between Iraq and the new Turkey.

(Winston) Churchill established Jordan and drew up its map. There was no country called Jordan. The establishment of Jordan fully complemented the British project to establish the State of Israel, in addition to Iraq which was also a British protectorate.

In conclusion, the Levant was suffering from the delineation of borders that were carried out without consultation with its people. (The Levant) was divided up, and new, quasi-national territorial identities were established alongside the sectarian and religious identities that continued to play an (important) role too.

(Read Part Two here)

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أيها اللبنانيون مَنْ منكم يعرف أسماء شهداء الاستقلال؟

معن بشور

شكراً لرفاق القوميين الاجتماعيين الذين بإحيائهم على مدى أعوام لذكرى رفيقهم شهيد الاستقلال في بشامون سعيد فخر الدين، يذكّرون اللبنانيين بأنّ استقلالهم لم يأت دون شهداء وتضحيات، وأنه لم يكن نتيجة ضغط بريطانيّ على الانتداب الفرنسي، كما يحلو للكثيرين تصويره..

ولكن كم من اللبنانيين يعرف أنّ البطل فخر الدين لم يكن الشهيد الوحيد في تلك الأيام العشرة الفاصلة بين اعتقال أركان حكومة الاستقلال 11 تشرين الثاني وإعلان الاستقلال في 22 تشرين الثاني 1943، بل كان هناك 14 شهيداً و 44 جريحاً في طرابلس تمّ إطلاق النار عليهم في ساحة السلطي في شارع المصارف، بعد اعتقال المغفور له عبد الحميد كرامي مع الرئيسين بشارة الخوري ورياض الصلح والوزراء كميل شمعون وعادل عسيران وسليم تقلا، بالإضافة الى شهداء أطفال المدارس في صيدا الذين تمّ قتلهم بالدم البارد أمام مقر الحاكم الفرنسي…

بل كمّ من اللبنانيين يذكر كيف اتّحد اللبنانيون، كما لم يتحدوا من قبل في معركة الاستقلال، فصنعوا في شوارع عاصمتهم وسائر المدن والأرياف، كما في برلمانهم والحكومة المؤقتة في بشامون وفي قلعة راشيا، ملحمة الاستقلال التي صنعت للبنانيين استقلالاً، ولكن لم تكن كافية لتصنع لاستقلالهم دولة الحق والقانون والعدالة الخالية من أمراض الطائفية والفساد والارتهان للقوى الخارجيّة..

لم يكن إهمال الرواية الكاملة لملحمة الاستقلال جزءاً من الإهمال المزمن الذي يعاني منه اللبنانيّون منذ أكثر من 77 عاماً، بقدر ما كان جزءاً من خطة خطيرة بعناوين متعدّدة.

أوّل العناوين ترسيخ القناعة لدى الشعب اللبناني أنّ لبنان قاصر تتقاذفه لعبة الأمم ولا يستطيع شعبه ان يحقق نصراً لا في الداخل ولا على الخارج إلا «بمعونة أجنبيّة»، وهو ما يتجلّى اليوم حين باتت المبادرة الفرنسيّة هي حبل نجاة اللبنانيين في مفارقة تاريخيّة تقول «إنّ من اجتمع اللبنانيون جميعاً بالأمس لإخراجه، من بلدهم أصبح اليوم محطّ إجماع الطبقة السياسيّة الحاكمة لإنقاذ البلد بعد 77 عاماً من الاستقلال.

ثاني العناوين تكريس الانطباع أنّ الاستقلال كان نتيجة جهود فوقيّة بين سياسيين وسفراء لا ثمرة كفاح شعبيّ دامٍ قدّم خلاله اللبنانيون العديد من الشهداء مباشرة في لبنان، أو من خلال انخراط العديد منهم في الثورة السورية الكبرى عام 1925 بقيادة سلطان باشا الأطرش والتي يجمع المؤرّخون وفي مقدمّهم المؤرخ الكبير الأستاذ شفيق جحا أنها كانت أحد أبرز الأسباب التي أدّت الى استعجال المندوب السامي الفرنسي منح لبنان دستوره عام 1926، وهو الدستور الذي ما زال معمولاً به بعد تعديلين أولهما يوم الاستقلال، وثانيهما بعد الطائف عام 1989.

ثالث العناوين هو انتهاج سياسة حرمان بعض المدن والمناطق اللبنانيّة من الإعلان شرف المشاركة بدماء أبنائها في ملحمة الاستقلال، وكأنّها ناقصة «اللبنانية» لتبرير حرمانها طيلة عهود الاستقلال من أبسط حقوقها ومن تشغيل أهمّ مرافقها، ولعلّ ما تعرّضت له مدن كطرابلس وصيدا وجبل عامل وأرياف الشمال والبقاع من حرمان هو أنصع دليل على هذه الخطة.

من هنا، وفي ظلّ إهمال الطبقة الحاكمة لشهداء تلك الملحمة الاستقلاليّة الرائعة، والذين لم يستحقوا حتى زيارة «بروتوكولية» لمدافنهم، كما هي زيارة أضرحة الرؤساء والوزراء والزعماء الذين شاركوا في تلك الملحمة، نشعر انه لا بدّ من أن نذكر أسماء أولئك الشهداء، خصوصاً في طرابلس وصيدا، مذكرّين أيضاً بلوحة في قلعة الاستقلال في راشيا تضمّ أسماء كلّ أبناء تلك المنطقة الذين استشهدوا في معارك ضدّ الاحتلال الفرنسي.

أما شهداء طرابلس فهم: سليم صابونه، أحمد صابر كلثوم، رشيد رمزي حجازي، فوزي قاسم شحود، عبد الغني أفيوني، عباس إبراهيم حبوشي، محمد علي حسين خضر، عبد القادر مصطفى الشهال، كمال عبد الرزاق ضناوي، وديع خاطر بركات، أحمد جوجو، محمد حسين الحمد وسليم الشامي.

وفي صيدا استشهد في انتفاضة 1936 ضدّ الانتداب، برصاص جنود الانتداب الذي أصاب ايضاً كتف المجاهد الشهيد معروف سعد وأدّى الى استشهاد كلّ من: عبد الحليم الحلاق، محمد مرعي النعماني، ناهيك عن كوكبة من طلبة المدارس في صيدا الذين استشهدوا او جرحوا برصاص الانتداب أمام مركز المندوب الفرنسي وهم الشهداء: سعد البزري، ثروت الصباغ وشفيقة ارقدان.

فكيف تكون احتفالاتنا في عيد الاستقلال في غياب أيّ ذكر لشهداء الاستقلال، بل في غياب أيّ محاسبة لمن أوصل لبنان الى ما هو عليه من حال مزرية على كلّ المستويات، ومن فساد ما زال أقوى من كلّ محاولات التصدّي له، حتى بات «استقلالنا» هذه الأيام هو «طرد» شركة تدقيق جنائي لمصرف لبنان وحساباته، ولوزارات الدولة ومؤسساتها، من بلادنا، حرصاً على «الصندوق الأسود» الذي بات أهمّ من استقلال الوطن وحقوق المواطن.

بين العميدين.. الخوري والمعلم

راميا الإبراهيم

راميا الإبراهيم  مذيعة ومقدمة برامج في قناة الميادين

المصدر: الميادين نت

18 تشرين ثاني 20:53

من مجلس الأمن في أربعينيات القرن الماضي إلى “جنيف 2 ” عام 2014 قصةٌ وطنيةٌ خطّها “مسيحيٌّ ومسلمٌ”.. معذرة. ما بينهما وبعدهما الكثير مما يعرّي كذبة الطائفية حيث سورية وطنٌ للجميع حرٌّ ومستقلّ.

من مجلس الأمن في أربعينيات القرن الماضي إلى “جنيف 2 ” عام 2014 قصةٌ وطنيةٌ خطّها “مسيحيٌّ ومسلمٌ”.. معذرة. ما بينهما وبعدهما الكثير مما يعرّي كذبة الطائفية حيث سورية وطنٌ للجميع حرٌّ ومستقلّ.

بين العميدين.. الخوري والمعلم
بين العميدين.. الخوري والمعلم

في بلادي أي سورية (ونحن فيها نكتب سورية بالتاء المربوطة) لم نكن نعلم ديانة صديقٍ أو زميلٍ إلا في حالتين الزواج أو الوفاة.. لم نكن أساساً نُعير بالاً لذلك… حتى وإن جاء أحدٌ على ذكر الأمرِ وهي كانت من النوادر، كان يخفض صوته همساً و كأنه يقرّ بأنه يرتكب خطيئة..

محرك الوطنية.. فارس بيك الخوري 

لا تتّسع بضع الكلمات التي أهمُّ بكتابتها لإنصاف أحد قامات بلادي الوطنية، الثائر ضد الاحتلالين العثماني والفرنسي، الأديب والمفّكر والسياسي الأصيل.. مناصبُ عديدةٌ تدرّج فيها رئيس الوزراء فارس بيك الخوري ومنها وزارة الأوقاف، وهذه الأخيرة لم تكن  الوحيدة التي شغلها، لكن أهمية ذكرها تكمن في كون الخوري مسيحياً. معذرة … مسيحيٌ حارب محاولات فرنسا تبرير إبقاء استعمارها لسورية… بادعائها أن المسحيين يطلبون حمايتها، فذهب إلى المسجد الأموي واعتلى المنبر قائلاً: إن الفرنسيين يقولون إن المسيحيين يطلبون الحماية منها، أنا من هنا أعلنها، أنا أطلب الحماية من شعبي.

من قصص استقلال سوريا 

عام 1946 في جلسة مجلس الأمن، جلس فارس بيك الخوري في المقعد الخاص بالمندوب الفرنسي. وعندما جاء المندوب الفرنسي ليجلس على مقعده، فوجئ بالخوري… طلب منه الفرنسي الانتقال إلى المقعد الخاص بسورية لكن الخوري تجاهله وأخرج ساعته من جييب سترته وراح يتأمل فيها بينما المندوب الفرنسي استشاط غضباً وراح يشرح له… هذا مقعد فرنسا، أنظر هذا العلم الفرنسي أمامه وهناك مقعد سورية حيث علمها أمامه.. لكن الخوري لم يتحرك واستمر بالنظر إلى ساعته. كاد مندوب فرنسا أن يفقد عقله، وعند الدقيقة الـ 25 قال فارس بيك بلغة فرنسية واضحة: سعادة السفير جلست في مقعدك 25 دقيقة، فكدت تقتلني غضباً وحنقاً.. سورية تحمّلت سفالة جنودكم 25 سنة وآن الآوان لها أن تستقلّ.

وكان الاستقلال إلى جانب بطولات أبناء الوطن على اختلاف تلاوينهم. وفي بلدي كما المنطقة لوحة فسيفسائية من الأديان والمذاهب والقوميات هي مصدر قوة بلا شك، وستبقى كذلك. 

في قصص سيادة سورية

بعد ثلاث سنوات من الحرب في سورية وعليها، وهي الأقسى بالمناسبة تحدثت فيها الكرة الأرضية جمعاء باسم الشعب السوري وحكومته وجيشه ورئيسه.. ما عداهم.

وكانت كلمة سورية 

في مؤتمر “جنيف 2” حيث اجتمع العالم لمناقاشة “قضية سورية”، كانت كلمةٌ للوفد السوري برئاسة الراحل شيخ الدبلوماسية ابن دمشق الأصيل وزير الخارجية وليد المعلم. 

خطأٌ أعتقدُ أن واشنطن تندم عليه إلى اليوم، مع عواصمَ للأسف عربية وأيضا غربية. فهي لم تعتقد أن هناك من يضرب أو يشكك بروايتها التي أفردت لها امبراطوريات الإعلام والسياسة بين الغربية منها والعربية وبمال هذه الأخيرة عن “الرئيس القاتل وجيشه السفاح  للثورة”.

عشر دقائق مُنحت للمعلم ليقول كلمته.. لكنها كلمة سورية، قال المعلم بكل هدوء، وأضاف مخاطباً بان كي مون الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة سابقاً عندما حاول مقاطعته لتخطيه الوقت المحدد: “لقد تكلمتَ أنتَ 25 دقيقةً، أنا أعيش في سورية وأنت تعيش في نيويورك.. لدي الحق لإيصال الصورة الحقيقية في سورية”.

 تحدث المعلم  34 دقيقة بالتمام، لم تفلح لا مقاطعات بان كي مون ولا أصوات الجرس في ثنيه عن إكمال كلمته حتى النهاية.. مع رسائل واضحة ومباشرة، مخاطباً وزير الخارجية السابق جون كيري: “لا أحد في العالم سيد كيري، لا أحد في العالم يستطيع إضفاء الشرعية أو عزلها أو منحها لرئيسٍ أو حكومةٍ أو دستورٍ أو قانونٍ أو أي شيءٍ في سورية إلا السوريين أنفسهم”.

و كانت كلمة سورية.. أجبر العالم على سماعها كاملة. 

رئيس أركان الجيش الدبلوماسي 

لم يكن المعلم رئيس وفد سورية إلى مؤتمر “جنيف2” فحسب.. كان يمثل تاريخاً من الوطنية والانتماء والمهنية والخبرة والثبات والعفة، فالملايين من الدولارات دُفعت له حتى ينشقَّ عن وطنيته في سنيّ الحرب في سورية وعليها، فأبى كما الجسم الدبلوماسي السوري، ليكون رئيس أركان جيش دبلوماسيٍّ بطلاً وشريكاً بالانتصار.

سورية وطن للجميع 

بين العميدين الخوري والمعلم من مجلس الأمن في أربعينيات القرن الماضي إلى “جنيف 2 ” عام 2014 قصةٌ وطنيةٌ خطّها “مسيحيٌّ و مسلمٌ”.. معذرة، وما بينهما وبعدهما الكثير.. تعرّي كذبة الطائفية والصدام الديني حيث سورية وطنٌ للجميع حرٌّ مستقلّ…

Turkey’s Destabilizing Role

Source

Tuesday, 29 September 2020 10:22

With the current problems between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the continuous meddling of Turkey stirring trouble where it can-one cannot help but remember Cyprus and the way that beautiful Island was divided (1974) due to Turkish greed and a long time wish to reestablish the Ottoman Empire with a new face.

Cyprus pre-1974 was an island with a rising economy and status amongst world countries. Under the wise leadership of President Makarious it was navigating its way upwards.

Sadly the coup by the Greek Junta on President Makarious presented Turkey with an excuse to invade the Island-one that it had been searching for, for some time.

Syriatimes had the opportunity to interview Marinos Sizopoulos President of EDEK (a socialist Cyprus political Party).

EDEK party shrinks as turmoil escalates over ousted MEP, KNEWS

1- Can you give us a brief overview of the Cypriot problem-maybe going back to the British occupation of the island of Cyprus

After the occupation of Cyprus by the British, the Greek Cypriots of the island, in their very first official welcoming speech to the British in July 1878, asked for enosis (union) with Greece. The enosis was the main and constant demand of the Cypriots, expressed in every official memorandum to the British, in articles in the newspapers and speeches in the Legislative Council. 

The main turning points in the history of the movement for union with Greece was the 1931 revolt known as «Oktovriana», the referendum of 1950 and the EOKA struggle of 1955-1959. Specifically, the demand of Cypriots for Enosis urged them to an impulsive and not organized public revolt in 1931. The aftermath of the 1931 revolt was that the Governor’s House, symbolizing the colonial rule, was set on fire and an autocratic rule was imposed immediately afterwards.

In 1950 the results of the referendum for union (“enotiko dimopsifisma” as it is called) was that 96% of the Cypriots demanded the union of the island with Greece. Five years later, the EOKA struggle began which demanded the unification of the island with Greece. The struggle was ended with the Zurich and London Agreements in 1959. Following the Agreements, Cyprus was recognized as an independent state, the union could no longer be promoted and Turkey, Great Britain and Greece were imposed as the guaranteeing powers of the Republic of Cyprus. 

Few years later, in 1963, the military coup of Turkey against the Republic of Cyprus emerged. The coup was the first attempt of Turkey to put in action its plan for reoccupying Cyprus. This plan was designed in 1956 and it aimed to overthrow the legitimate government of the island by military force and integrate Cyprus to the Turkish regime.    Almost ten years later, in 1974, the military coup of the Greek military Junta allowed Turkey to invade and illegally capture 37% of the island. 

Since then, EDEK, the Socialist Party of Cyprus, has been struggling to set Cyprus free from the Turkish army. We demand all refugees be allowed to return to their home land, all settlers that illegally have been transferred by Turkey in the occupied areas, and all Turkish troops leave the island immediately. 

2- Archbishop Makarious the third was a well known leader of Cyprus-what was his role exactly?

Makarios was a charismatic leader. The people who met him, in Cyprus and abroad, admired him for his personality and knowledge. This can be confirmed by the thousands of letters that he received by his fans and followers from all over the word. Even in the reports of the foreign diplomats held in the historic archives we read how clever he was and how he fought for the justice of his people.   

Makarios succeeded to give prestige to both the office of Archbishop and that of the President of the Republic of Cyprus. He spent his life doing charity and missionary work in Cyprus and abroad. He was struggling for the establishment and strengthening of the Republic of Cyprus. By calling the name Makarios, we refer to the person whose work reflects our flag, our land, our struggles for freedom, national dignity and survival as Greek Cypriots.

His role after the Agreements in Zurich and London was focused on his initiatives for strengthening the Republic of Cyprus as an independent state. He worked hard for strengthening the role of Cyprus in the international community and especially into the Non-Aligned Movement. He systematically tried to give Cyprus an important and significant role in this Movement. As it is very well known he developed some really strong and sincere friendships with the Arab countries of the region, and specifically with Syria and Egypt. 

3- How many political parties are there in Cyprus?

There are four parliamentary parties in Cyprus which have been active for a few decades now. Randomly a few more parties, movements or combinations are popping up, but their existence is just for a short period of time. EDEK, of which I am President since 2015, was established in 1969. It is the socialist party of Cyprus, the fourth political power in the Cyprus Parliament.

4- In your opinion what was the reason for the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey and did Greece play a detrimental role in this invasion?

Turkey’s main goal, set since the 1950s, was to integrate Cyprus into Turkish territory in order to gain a dominant role in controlling the Middle East.

Britain sought to maintain its military presence and influence in Cyprus, in order to continue to exploit the island’s geostrategic position to the benefit of its interests in the region.

The United States, which was acting within the context of the Cold War (as it was at its peak at the time), sought to avoid the internationalization of the Cyprus problem and, above all, the involvement of the Soviets in the island’s affairs.

The junta of Athens, subservient to American politics, contributed with various illegal political and military means to carry out the coup against Makarios and to enable Turkey to invade and occupy the 37%.

For the United States and Britain, the Turkish invasion was a way of resolving a chronic problem. A “resolution” which runs counter to international law and the UN Charter. 

5- What were the policies of the USA and Europe towards Cyprus after the invasion?

The main goal of the US and the European Union is not to clash with Turkey, with which their geo-strategic interests are particularly important. Thus, in violation of international law, European principles, resolutions and provisions of the UN Charter, they either maintain an equal distance, or push Turkey towards the realization of its goals. The United States does that by strengthening Turkey with military equipment, and the European Union by enhancing its trade relations and economic agreements with Turkey.

Editor-in-Chief Reem Haddad

Basma Qaddour

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