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

Turkey’s Destructive Role in the M.E and Europe

Source

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 10:49

Turkey has for a longtime now been the enzyme that speeds problems in the area of the Mediterranean. Still unable to stomach the Treaty of Lausanne(1923) which defined the borders of modern day Turkey it has for a long time now been scheming to extend its borders by land grabbing from other countries. This can be clearly depicted in two countries Cyprus and Syria .In 1974 Turkey attacked Cyprus and occupied a third of the island and formed on its own the “Republic of Northern Cyprus” recognized by no country in the world except its creator. In Syria the story is even sadder – not satisfied with usurping Alexanderetta ,Turkey opened its borders to terrorists to infiltrate Syria and aided and abetted them(During the war of terror on Syria). Now it has taken a further step by arming and training terrorists and by actually sending its troops inside Syria. Turkey dreams of a revival of the Ottoman Empire and for that to happen boundaries must change and towns and cities might have to be erased. A question arises –why does no one do anything about  this? Why is the world silent while Turkey wreaks havoc where it wants. What is the UN doing or for that matter the EU?

 Syriatimes carried out an interview with EU parliamentarian Athanasios Konstantinou to clarify certain points.

  Member of European Parliament  to ST: EU’s appeasement of Turkey, has deeply injured the trust of Greek citizens

 Member of European Parliament Athanasios Konstantinou reckons that hollow actions that have no political and economic impact will be taken by the EU against Turkey for political propaganda reasons.

 He told Syria Times e-newspaper that from the 1980 till today, more than 60.000 Turkish planes have infiltrated Greek airspace not counting the paralleling actions of the Turkish navy.

 Konstantinou, in addition, has pointed out that U.N. repeatedly over time appears  powerless and without the will to enforce international law and in that way tolerate NATO to act in their place.

 Here below is the full text of the interview:

1-Can you tell us about the origins of the gas drilling dispute between Greece  and Turkey? 

For many decades Turkey has applied a calculated foreign policy that aims to seize as much of the Aegean Sea as possible, part of a larger plan to enforce itself as a Mediterranean power.

 This policy is obviously effective, due mostly to the failure of all past and present Greek governments (and their allies) to efficiently protect the Greek borders. This explains why Turkey defies international law and openly and officially threatens war, if Greece exercises its rights to the “12 nautical miles” international law, in Aegean.

A major phase for the implementation of their strategy was the occupation of Northern Cyprus. Until then, the Turkish plan was a “paper” one, but since then, Turkey is moving with real steps. Consider that from the 1980 till today, more than 60.000 Turkish planes have infiltrated the Greek airspace  not counting the paralleling actions of the Turkish navy.

 All major powers and alliances endorse the Turkish plan, otherwise the occupation of Cyprus, with its obvious geopolitical effects, would not have been tolerated and possibly would have not been tried by the Turks!

 So in that light, what we see now regarding the “drilling dispute” as you put it, is not surprising.

2-Is the United Nations able to influence Turkey?? 

The United Nations, unfortunately, wasn’t able in the past and cannot in the present, influence Turkey. Allow me to remind your readers that, for the illegal Turkish occupation forces in Cyprus, U.N. voted two resolutions, ordering the withdrawal of the Turkish army.

 Nothing of the kind has happened.

 Furthermore, the UN voted on an arms embargo for Libya, an embargo, today de facto ignored by Turkey and other countries.

 The greater issue here is that, U.N. repeatedly over time appears powerless and without the will to enforce international law and in that way tolerates NATO to act in their place.

And NATO’s first priority, of course, is the protection of USA’s interests and not the international law.

3-Many EU emergency summits were held concerning this issue, were the results positive?

The results of these summits, can barely  be described as “not-negative” but we certainly cannot define them as positive. In my opinion, European Union with its appeasement Turkish policy, has severely damaged the trust of the European peoples in the Union. And without any doubt, has deeply injured the trust of Greek citizens. After all, Greek borders are part of the E.U. ’s borders. And the Greek economy as well. When a malicious outsider defies your borders and tries to rip-off your wealth and you don’t defend either, then you void the reasons for your own existence as a Union.

4- Is the EU likely to approve  sanctions on Turkey ? What kind of sanctions will they be and most importantly how effective?  

So far, everything points out that no real measures or sanctions will be imposed on Turkey from E.U. Only hollow and without political or economic impact actions will be taken and only for political propaganda reasons.

If this is the case, then we are led to believe that EU politics obey and serve not the interests of European citizens but those of  big international financial lobbies. And I know that this is most frustrating for the Syrian people also, because you have felt this injustice through the sanctions imposed to Syria.

5-How does Libya enter into this equation? 

The Turkish involvement in Libya, is the second major stepping stone, of their plan to promote themselves to a Mediterranean power, as I have pointed out earlier.

The Turkish government wisely tries to capitalize on NATO’s great mistake and injustice on Libya, where once more, international financial lobbies have indicated policies aiming to gain and disregard the will of the peoples. The result was chaos in Libya and opportunity for Turkey. This is why other countries like Egypt, counteract against the Turkish actions.

Editor in chief : Reem Haddad

Basma Qaddour

History: The Zionist Origins of Saudi Arabia and Its Royals

Part I

By Rez Karim

Global Research, September 22, 2020

Recognizing the contentious nature of the subject, this two-part article relies only on official treatises, pacts and primary sourced evidence to compile a historically accurate account of the founding of Saudi Arabia and Al Saud family becoming ‘Royals’.

Growing up Muslim in a Muslim majority country, I spent most Friday afternoons at a mosque, attending the Jummah prayer. First part of a Jummah prayer calls for the Imam to perform a Khutbah – a weekly sermon of sorts. It was in one of those Khutbahs that I, as a very young boy, learnt about the plight of the Palestinians for the first time.

Indeed, it’s a common practice among Imams around the world to bring up the Palestinian issue at mosques, especially during Friday sermons, and pray for the Palestinian people. In those prayers and discussions, Israel’s name comes up inevitably. In fact, Israel’s oppression of Palestinians bears no ambiguity in Islamic thoughts. And condemnation of Israel, therefore, comes naturally to Muslims around the world.

However, what escapes awareness in almost all Muslims is the connection between Israel and Saudi Arabia. While zealously castigating Israel for its atrocities, Muslims often revere Saudi Arabia as the custodians of Islam’s holiest sites; completely ignoring the Kingdom’s role in founding the Zionist state in the first place.

Notwithstanding the existence of a deep-seated bias against Israel among Muslims, it’s important to recognize that the lack of criticism for Saudi Kingdom, alongside Israel, doesn’t come from bias. Indeed, this absence finds its roots not in bias, but in a complete lack of knowledge. Knowledge among current generation of Muslims, as well as among the world population, about how Saudi Arabia and its founding king, Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud, played a critical role in establishing the Zionist state of Israel.

Suffice it to say, this ignorance about one of the most critical periods in world history seems anything but normal. Amazingly, the world, especially the Muslim world, had been kept in darkness about this momentous chapter in Middle East history. Propaganda and omissions run rampant within the historical accounts of this period. Official Saudi sources like House of Saud website, for example, avoids any mention of British involvement in founding the KSA. Although this omission seems predictable to many, it’s worth noting that even mainstream media outlets like the BBC, and prominent historians such as Professor Eugene Rogan etc., routinely portray Ibn Saud as having acted independently during WWI, and not as an instrument for the British Empire.

Therefore, recognizing the contentious nature of the issue – and to avoid becoming yet another ‘perspective’ on the subject – this article relies only on primary sourced evidence and the following four official treatises and declarations to compile a historically accurate account of the events:

  1. The McMahon-Hussain Correspondence
  2. The Treaty of Darin
  3. The Sykes-Picot Agreement
  4. The Balfour Declaration

1. The McMahon-Hussain Correspondence

To properly understand the events that led to the creation of both Israel and Saudi Arabia, we must travel back to the early 1900s’ Middle East. At the outbreak of WWI in the region, Sir Henry McMahon, then British High Commissioner in Egypt, offered Hussain bin Ali, Sharif of Hijaz (or ruler of the Hijaz – the western Arabian region in which Mecca and Medina lie), an independent Arab state if he would help the British fight against the Ottoman Empire. Hussein’s interest in throwing off his Turkish overlords converged with Britain’s war aim of defeating the Ottomans. McMahon made this offer via a series of letters exchanged between him and Sharif Hussain, collectively known as the McMahon-Hussain Correspondence. On his 14 July 1915 letter to McMahon, Hussain stated, among other things, the following as one of his propositions:Palestine: Britain Should Apologise for the Balfour Declaration, Not ‘Celebrate’ It

“Firstly.- England will acknowledge the independence of the Arab countries, bounded on the north by Mersina and Adana up to the 37th degree of latitude, on which degree fall Birijik, Urfa, Mardin, Midiat, Jezirat (Ibn ‘Umar), Amadia, up to the border of Persia; on the east by the borders of Persia up to the Gulf of Basra; on the south by the Indian Ocean, with the exception of the position of Aden to remain as it is; on the west by the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea up to Mersina. England to approve the proclamation of an Arab Khalifate of Islam.”

In response, McMahon wrote on 24 October 1915:

“I regret that you should have received from my last letter the impression that I regarded the question of the limits and boundaries with coldness and hesitation; such was not the case, but it appeared to me that the time had not yet come when that question could be discussed in a conclusive manner.

“I have realized, however, from your last letter that you regard this question as one of vital and urgent importance. I have, therefore, lost no time in informing the Government of Great Britain of the contents of your letter, and it is with great pleasure that I communicate to you on their behalf the following statement, which I am confident you will receive with satisfaction:-

“The two districts of Mersina and Alexandretta and portions of Syria lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo cannot be said to be purely Arab, and should be excluded from the limits demanded.

“With the above modification, and without prejudice of our existing treaties with Arab chiefs, we accept those limits.”

Interestingly, throughout history, there has been much disagreement as to whether this promise included Palestine. However, as we can see above, the area promised to the Arabs in McMahon’s letter excluded only the territory to the west of a line from Damascus north to Aleppo. Palestine, far to the south, was, by implication, included. Nevertheless, the British subsequently denied that they included Palestine in the promise and refused to publish the correspondence until 1939.

At the time however, Sharif Hussain believed this official promise from the British Government. He went on to make the most significant contribution to the Ottoman Empire’s defeat. He switched allegiances and led the so-called ‘Arab Revolt’ in June of 1916, which removed the Turkish presence from Arabia.

The defeat of the Ottoman Empire by the British in WWI left three distinct authorities in the Arabian peninsula. Sharif of Hijaz Hussain bin Ali of Mecca (in the west); Ibn Rashid of Ha’il (in the north); and Emir Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud of Najd and his religiously fanatical followers, the Wahhabis (in the east).

2. The Treaty of Darin

On 26 December 1915, Sir Percy Cox, on behalf of the British Government, signed the Treaty of Darin with Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud. Also known as the Darn Pact, the treaty made the lands of the House of Saud a British protectorate. The British aim of the treaty was to guarantee the sovereignty of Kuwait, Qatar and the Trucial States (later UAE). Abdul-Aziz vowed not to attack these British protectorates. He also pledged to enter WWI in the Middle East against the Ottoman Empire as an ally of Britain.

Britain’s signing of Darin Pact in December went against their promises of mutual protection made to Sharif Hussain in October; because Britain’s treaty with Ibn Saud does not oblige him to not attack the Hijaz.

The treaty also saw Abdel Aziz receiving £5000 per month ‘tribute’ from the British Government. After World War I, he received further support from the British. Support included substantially more monetary rewards and a glut of surplus munitions.

3. The Sykes-Picot Agreement 

On May 19, 1916, representatives of Great Britain and France secretly reached an accord, known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The accord aimed at dividing most of Arab lands under the Ottoman rule between the British and the French at the end of WWI. In its designated sphere, it was agreed, each country shall be allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they desire and as they may think fit.

Two diplomats, a Briton and a Frenchman, divided the map of one of the most volatile regions in the world into states that cut through ethnic and religious communities. The secret agreement largely neglected to allow for the future growth of Arab nationalism; which at that same moment the British government was using to their advantage against the Turks.

A century on, the Middle East continues to bear the consequences of the treaty. Many Arabs across the region continue to blame the subsequent violence in the Middle East, from the occupation of Palestine to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), on the Sykes-Picot treaty.

Indeed, Britain’s signing of this treaty went directly against what it promised to the Sharif of Hijaz in October of previous year. As we will see in Part II of this article, Britain’s betrayal of their promises of an independent Arab state eventually led them to unleash their attack dog, Ibn Saud, on Sharif Hussain and topple him. This allowed the British to effectuate the Sykes-Picot accord, and subsequently establish the Zionist state of Israel.

Read Part II

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Author Rez Karim is an Electrical Engineer and Chief Editor at VitalColumns.com.

Featured image is from the authorThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Rez Karim, Global Research, 2020

توسّع أردوغان في شرق المتوسّط مسمار نعش النهاية..

سماهر الخطيب

وجّهت الولايات المتحدة بالأمس دعوة إلى الحليف الناتوي تركيا لسحب قواتها من شرق المتوسط.

وجاءت الدعوة على لسان وزير الخارجية الأميركية مايك بومبيو عشية زيارته إلى قبرص بهدف التوصل إلى حل سلميّ يُنهي التوتر في المنطقة.

وبحسب بومبيو فإن «زيارته لقبرص تأتي استكمالاً لاتصالات أجراها الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب مع نظيره التركي رجب طيب أردوغان ورئيس الوزراء اليوناني»، مشدداً على «ضرورة حل النزاع بطريقة دبلوماسية وسلمية». كما أشار إلى «دور ألمانيا في السعي إلى خفض التوتر».

فيما أكدت الدول الأوروبية السبع المطلة على المتوسط في ختام قمتها بشأن الأوضاع في شرق المتوسط استعدادها لـ»فرض عقوبات على تركيا ما لم تتراجع عما وصفته بتحركاتها الأحادية الجانب في المنطقة».

كما أكدت الدول الأوروبية السبع “دعمها الكامل وتضامنها مع قبرص واليونان في وجه التعديات المتكررة على سيادتهما وحقوقهما السيادية والأعمال التصعيدية من جانب تركيا”، وفق ما جاء في البيان.

وندّد الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون أول أمس، بـ”لعبة الهيمنة لقوى تاريخية” في البحر الأبيض المتوسط وليبيا وسورية، مسمياً تركيا. وقال ماكرون إن «دول المتوسط السبع تريد حواراً بنية حسنة مع تركيا التي تقود سياسة توسعية في البحر الأبيض المتوسط».

وفي المشهد التركي يبدو أنّ أردوغان ماضٍ إلى نهاية حقبته «الأردوغانية»، بعد أن أصبحت نزعته «السلطانية» المتحكمة والمسيطرة على أفعاله وأقواله. وهو يعلم جليّاً بأنّ تلك النزعة التوسعية فاقدة أي شرعية أو مشروعية وخالية من أي سند قانوني يدعمها أو حق تاريخي يؤصّلها، ليس في مياه البحر الأبيض المتوسط، فحسب، إنما في معظم الأراضي السورية التي سلخها أجداده عن أمها السورية بلا حق وها هو اليوم يفتح عليه أبواب مواجهات قاسية وقاصمة، قد تصل إلى حد الحرب.

ومنذ أن وقعت تركيا اتفاقية ترسيم الحدود مع الوفاق الليبية ولم تكل ولم تهدأ بتوجيه تهديداتها لجيرانها في منطقة شرق البحر الأبيض المتوسط، وبخاصة قبرص واليونان، وذلك من خلال إعلانها الخاص بتوسيع نطاق عملياتها لاستكشاف حقول الغاز في المنطقة المتنازع عليها شرقي المتوسط، وتأكيدها على مواصلة سفينة التنقيب التركية “ياووز” أعمالها، خلال الفترة الممتدة من 18 آب، وحتى نهاية أيلول الحالي.

وصرّح أردوغان مراراً أن بلاده ستستأنف عمليات التنقيب وستبحث عن مصادر الطاقة قبالة جزر يونانية، متوعّداً بعدم التراجع عن توغل بلاده في شرق المتوسط، زاعماً أن لبلاده «الحق تماماً» في المنطقة المتنازع عليها مع اليونان.. وإذا ما فتحنا دفتر الحساب حول الحق المزعوم فسنجد أنّ هذه «الحقوق العثمانية» ما هي إلا الأوهام مجرّدة من المصداقية بنت إمبراطوريتها السابقة على المجازر التي ارتكبتها كالمجازر الأرمنية والسريانية واقتطعت الأراضي بلا أدنى حق متذرعة بقوة السيف من جهة وباتفاق مع حلفاء الحربين العالميتين الأولى والثانية من جهة أخرى..

إنما هروب أردوغان من الجهة الغربية نحو جهة المتوسطية سيكون مسماراً في نعش النهاية الحتمية لجنون الحقبة «الأردوغانية» التي عاشتها بلاده ودفعت وستدفع أكلافها عالية وغالية..

إذ أضحى أردوغان عدواً مشتركاً للغرب وللشرق بتصرّفاته الرعناء ولم تقتصر تلك العداوة على الخارج بل ظهرت وتغلغلت داخل بلاده وبين مواطنيه..

ودخل في دوامة الخلافات مع محيطه الشرقي والغربي وبات العمق الاستراتيجي أضغاث أحلام ولم يعد يساوي الحبر الذي كتب فيه أحمد داوود أوغلو كتابه موجهاً دعواته لحزبه السابق حزب العدالة والتنمية بالتوجه نحو الشرق والداخل المشرقي وباتت رؤية “صفر مشاكل” صفراً على شمال طموحات أردوغان الرعناء.. فأصبح الإقليم برمته ضدّه، فبينما تلوّح أوروبا بورقة العقوبات، تحرّك فرنسا قطعها الحربية إلى المتوسط، وواشنطن تفتر علاقتها به وتطلب منه بصريح العبارة سحب قواته من المتوسط وتدين “الجامعة العربية” تصرفاته وتطالبه بسحب قواته من سورية وليبيا وغيرها من البلاد التي عاث فيها فساداً ليبدو وكأنّ الجميع اتفق عليه ويتجه نحو تشكيل حلف جديد في رحم المنطقة لملاقاته، والذي يبدو في الزمن القريب قدراً مقدوراً..

في المحصلة تبدو نهاية «الأردوغانيّة» أمراً محتوماً وحقيقة مؤكدة، وفي التاريخ الكثير من أمثولات أطماع أردوغان وأوهامه التي تسببت بانهيار إمبراطوريات كبيرة واندثرت حضارات عظيمة، إذا ما افترضنا أنّ تركيا «حضارة» وإن كانت، فإنما حضارة مسروقة مبنية على مجازر..

وفي العودة إلى التاريخ، فإن كثيراً من الإمبراطوريات انهارت وفسدت واضمحلت من داخلها، بسبب تصرفات حكامها وما محاولة أردوغان لبناء دولة خلافة تركية من جديد، إلا أوهام مضادة لحركة التاريخ وتزييف لتطور البشرية..

وإذا ما استمرّ في تجاوزاته لكل الخطوط الحمر فإن نهايته حتماً ستأتي على يد تحالف دولي إقليمي، قد يتحول إلى حلف عسكري في القريب العاجل، للقضاء على أوهام السلطان الذي لم يعد له صاحب أو صديق..

Why empty can makes the most noise? Or how visible is hidden deep in invisible?

Why empty can makes the most noise? Or how visible is hidden deep in invisible?

August 11, 2020

Note by the Saker: I want to express my deepest gratitude to Zoran for taking up my (always standing) invitation to express a point of view different than the one expressed by Johnny-on-the-spot in Serbia.  And, just in case, I want to remind everybody that I take NO personal position on this issue.  I hope that with Zoran’s column we can now have a discussion of substantive issues even if we vehemently disagree with each other.  Kind regards, The Saker

by Zoran Petrov for The Saker Blog

I was also one who has sent complaints to Saker on reporting from Belgrade and the one who refused his request to write something about situation in Serbia. There are many reasons for my refusal – one of them is that I am a biodynamic farmer and right now is high season for us in the fields. But Saker´s open letter did make change of my mind! Even if it means being accused as one of “tyrant’s trolls and bots”.

In younger days I was deputy editor in chief of small Yugoslav weekly in Australia and one of the first rules for every journalist was to avoid in their articles attributes like the one in reporting from Belgrade – “Serbian tyrant”, “psychopath” or having statements like “the board of medical charlatans”, “illegitimate, fraudulently elected deputies” without giving argumentation for such statements. Or better to say – without substance.

Instead manipulative “the people of Belgrade” good journalist would write (small or large) group of people, huge crowd, etc. and poetic expressions like “Serbia has now sunk to the darkest depths of the Middle Ages…”, “it is the descent of a proud country and noble nation into the malodorous septic tank…” would never be printed…

But what is happening in Serbia? Although everything seems quite obvious to Johnny-on-the-spot in Belgrade, questions must be raised about true influences and powers play in Serbia.

Good starting point could be series of lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in 1916 and firstly published as “Karma of Untruthfulness “in 1948. Steiner gave many lectures on nature of political events of his time. Quite interesting is his remark in 1918 that “Russian revolution was a social experiment that will last 70 years”! There are nice insights in his lectures into events that happened before WWI and background info on real causes that led to WWI.

Macintosh HD:Users:katarinapetrov:Downloads:200px-Mehmed_talaat_pasja.jpg

Steiner claimed that there was quite obvious clear intention of secret Anglo-Saxon brotherhoods to destroy 4 empires based on strong religious impulses – German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman empire!

Back in 1893, an elusive Englishman named Charles George Harrison delivered a series of six lectures to the Berean Society, a London based association of Christian esotericists. Harrison, described as a “mysterious and unknown figure,” was an English occultist and Anglican Christian. In his second lecture Harrison spoke of “the next great European war” and of how the “national character” of the Slavic peoples would “enable them to carry out experiments in Socialism, political and economical, which would present innumerable difficulties in Western Europe.”[1]

These brotherhoods took active roles after WWI, from forming new states to establishing new borders like the one between Serbia and new countries of Hungary and Romania (free masons even published a book about how demarcation line was settled among them for newly established Yugoslavia). What is less known is their role in Ottoman empire destruction – major figures in Young Turk movement were at least Freemasons. The role of Dönmeh[2] members is quite intrigant and hard to follow due to their secrecy. The fact is that direct responsibility for Armenian genocide does not lay on some, of those days religious fanatic Al Kaida, but on western educated and western leaning, young Turks like Talaat Pasha (one of 4 feared Pashas) that ruled during last days of Ottoman Empire. Talaat Pasha comes from Dönmeh environment in Salonika, 33rd Scottisch Rite Freemason, minister of interior, etc., masterminded genocide of Armenian people. Today whole Turkish nation is blamed for this genocide! “Good thing” was Young Turks decision to turn Aja Sofia into museum as today is “bad thing” by Erdogan to turn in back into mosque!

With these hints in mind maybe we could start to check what is happening in Serbia right now! Is Serbia better place now then 8 years ago? I remember when several Serbian governments unsuccessfully tried to sell 2 black holes of Serbian budget – Bor copper mine[3] and Smederevo Foundry[4]. Roughly 500 millions of euros went to cover wages and maintenance costs of these two unproductive companies. No one wanted to buy any of these companies even when the sale for 1 euro for each of them (There was short episode with US company that bought Smederevo Steel Mill for 1 euro but returned it back to Serbian state after they melted surplus of tanks and artillery pieces from Serbian army)! During Vucic rule he managed to bring Chinese companies that paid good money for these companies with commitment to make further investments into modernization as well in environmental protection. Serbian state is minority shareholder and more importantly it has 500 euros more in annual budget!

Long overdue modernization of Serbian army did take place (but we are not going into this topic) and it might have some connection with interesting events:

1. in 2018 Chinese president XI and Vucic discussed possible purchase of FK3 (frankensteined S-300 and Patriot missile defence system);

2. in 2019 and 2020 Serbian solders took training in Russia on S-400 missile defence system;

3. in 2020 Russia brought S-400 missile defense system to Serbia for a joint military exercise.

4. This month it became public information that Serbia actually bought FK – 3 from China[5]

How do we connect all these dots, are Russians and Chinese so stupid to play Vucic games, Western puppet? Why would Serbian soldiers spend nearly 2 years in Russia on training how to use S-400 when government already bought FK-3!?

Even more interesting events took part in the last 60 days! But Johnny-on-the-spot in Belgrade, somehow overlooked it. Instead, of all 2 million something Belgrade citizens, he focused his attention on handful (at most 1000) active protestors?!

Chain of events started with sudden visit of FM Lavrov to Belgrade on 18th of June. After meeting with Lavrov, grim Vucic warned of “difficult times ahead”[6] :

1. protests started by small group of people (because “fraudulent election”) eventually swelled on one day to maybe 6-7000 people. But after violence by some, number of protestors decreased rapidly in the matter of 48 hours! Interestingly, police arrested young men from Ukraine and Turkmenistan (with Israel passports), from Great Britain, etc. fully prepared for fight with police.

It is hard to believe that security services in Serbia were not aware of preparation for protests. It could be even that Lavrov brought those information? It is obvious to me that firecracker was prematurely ignited (aikido scenario) and gave Vucic nice pretext for negotiation in Brussels to show his counterparts that he is not at peace at home because Kosovo but also to get some more space for maneuver after uncomfortable complete majority in Serbian parliament!

2. US mediated Serbia/Kosovo negotiation was postponed as a blow to Trump[7]

3. Brussels mediated Serbia/Kosovo negotiation came “back on track”[8] whatever it means.

4. Serbia contacted US to buy 20 bombers[9] but if US refuses it, Serbia will find someone else where to buy it (Russia).

5. Serbian army entered Kosovo in joint border with NATO KFOR[10]. Press statement from KFOR confirmed event adding that everything was in accordance with UN resolution 1244 and Kumanovo Agreement (The Military Technical Agreement signed between the International Security Force (KFOR) and the Governments of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Serbia) !?!?[11]

And, yes, Corona did something to Serbian government that started frantically to invest hundreds of millions of euros in health system of Serbia that was devastated during last 30 years. Many new hospitals are going to be built as a matter of urgency, complete restructuring of microbiological labs in Serbia, state owned Torlak (in older days major vaccine provider for Asia and Afrika) was resurrected amid claims that it was sold. Veil of silence was lifted and we know now that Torlak still produces influenza vaccine among others. State of art new labs were bought or donated from China…

So many news in so few days! Chess game is in full swing and we need good and thoughtful reports from Belgrade!

It is important to remember – when Vucic came to power he was immediately accused of being Western pawn that should finalize Kosovo independence. He might be a Western man in Serbia but he did not give Kosovo independence yet!

Notes:

  1. https://www.newdawnmagazine.com/articles/brothers-of-the-shadows-overlords-of-chaos&nbsp;
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%B6nmeh&nbsp;
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zijin_Bor_Copper&nbsp;
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesteel_Serbia&nbsp;
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2020/08/03/world/europe/03reuters-serbia-arms-china.html&nbsp;
  6. http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a611225/Belgrade-additionally-worries-about-Kosovo-after-Moscow-s-estimatesBelgrade-additionally-worries-abo.html&nbsp;
  7. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/25/world/europe/serbia-kosovo-trump-hashim-thaci.html&nbsp;
  8. https://www.rferl.org/a/leaders-of-kosovo-serbia-to-hold-talks-in-eu-effort-to-reboot-dialogue/30721718.html&nbsp;
  9. https://www.voanews.com/europe/serbia-seeks-purchase-more-warplanes-strengthen-its-armed-forces-potentially-russia&nbsp;
  10. https://exit.al/en/2020/08/09/serbian-army-entered-kosovo-in-joint-border-patrol-with-natos-kfor-mission/&nbsp;
  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumanovo_Agreement&nbsp;

Lebanon’s future: Lebanon’s Mutasarrifate Take II:

August 10, 2020

A crossroads of civilizations, Lebanon has been often involved in wars, invasions, and sectarian warfare. Image depicts Lebanese soldiers in 1861, right after a big clash between Maronite Christians and Druze muslims.

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

Most of the current instability in the Levant and the whole Middle East is inadvertently and inadvertently a result of the obsession about Israel’s security; both from the Israeli as well as the American sides. That said, many of the region’s problems are deep-rooted and go back to times before Israel was created and before America had any influence.

In the middle part of the Nineteenth Century, and whilst the entire Levant was under Ottoman rule, sectarian strife between Lebanese Maronites (a regional Catholic sect) and Druze (regional esoteric Muslim-based faith) left thousands savagely butchered, towns decimated, and civilians displaced. The strife escalated in 1860-1861, and as it was obvious back then that the Ottoman Empire was not far from its demise, the West was looking for half an opportunity to interfere in the Levant; and under the guise of protecting the Lebanese Maronites, coerced the Ottomans to give Mount Lebanon autonomy, under the auspices of the West.

This all happened prior to WWI, before Sykes Picot, and before any single Western nation could make a claim on Lebanon. The decision had then to be reached by consensus. This is why it was jointly reached by France, Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia. The Ottomans had no choice but to accept and dilute their influence in the region by giving the West a post within the Ottoman Empire.

The French proposed that the ruler should be given the title of Plenipotentriary, and the word was translated to a Turkish word of Arabic origin, Mutasarrif, but that person was appointed by the West; not by Turkey, and the political entity itself was called the Mutasarrifate of Mount Lebanon.

For readers interested in my take and analysis on Lebanon’s recent history in a more detailed but concise narrative, they can go to this reference. In brief, Grand Liban (Greater Lebanon) was created by the French under the demand of the then Maronite Patriarch Howayyek in 1920. It was meant to give Lebanese Christians a sense of security, and to be a neutral country in the Middle East; with a Western outlook.

This article will not discuss the geopolitical changes that have happened since. They are in the link above. That said, with the many changes over the last century, the situation in Lebanon has become untenable.

In summary, and among other things, Lebanon has to find a way to deal with Israel, with Syria which is the heart of the axis of resistance and support of Hezbollah, its Arab neighbours who are predominantly against Syria and Hezbollah, devise a united policy as to the status and level of the presence of Hezbollah, find a way out of the current financial collapse and redefine the country’s position as either a neutral country or a spearhead of resistance.

But this is easier said than done not only because of the political divisions, but also because of the endemic corruption of its Mafia lords; Lebanon’s ruling elite and their cronies.

These are the family lines of the same lords that led Lebanon into the civil war. They all have little armies, real armies; some with tanks and artillery. The Lebanese Army is incapable of crushing them, and even if it attempts to, it will have to attack them all at once; not one at a time without risking being accused of impartiality and giving favours.

Those leaders are accused of having thieved $800 Bn from Lebanon and siphoned it overseas. And in as much as they loathe each other, they equally need each other because the existence of each of them is contingent upon that of the others.

Much has been blamed in the past on the disunity of the Lebanese themselves, but when literally millions took to the streets in October 2019, they were united, they carried the slogan of ‘kellon yani kellon’ (all of them means all of them). But before too long, meddlers and thugs were set up inside their camps wreaking havoc and disunity. The protestors were hoping that the Lebanese Army would make a move and start arresting the leaders and the cronies implanted amongst them, but the army itself is bogged down in the same game of dirty politics and loyalties.

In simple terms, the Lebanese people can become united if they have the will and they have done so in the past. They have learned this lesson the hard way, but they simply do not have the means and the power to dislodge the ruling families who control everything; all the way from daily bread to election results.

The country has been struggling for years with mountains of rubbish that the government has not been able to process, electricity shortages, water shortages, soaring unemployment just to name a few problems. It is little wonder why the economy collapsed and the Lira lost nearly 80% of its value in the last few months. Add to this COVID-19, the Caesar Act, and now the Beirut Sea-Port explosions.

Of interest to note is that the latest events in Lebanon have been capitalized on to raise the level of dissent against Hezbollah. According to some, Hezbollah was blamed for everything; even including the sea-port disaster.

Sometimes however, disasters offer silver linings. The cries of Lebanese citizens in the streets of major cities did not generate any global compassion, but after the massive blast, there seems a change in this respect.

Many nations have come forward and offered to assist the Lebanese people, and their governments are not shying away from stating that they will not entrust this aid to the Lebanese Government for distribution to those in need. This is because the whole world, not only the Lebanese people, no longer trust Lebanese officials.

Thus far, among a list of nations, aid and offers of aid came from Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the USA, and ironically, even from Israel .

But no aid offer has thus far come close to that of France. French President Marcon did not only make a promise, but he also visited Lebanon and walked on Ground Zero (thereby shooting the concept of nuclear attack in the guts) and made a very intriguing yet audacious promise. He promised Lebanon a ‘new political pact’.

What does a ‘new political pact’ exactly mean?

This promise harks back to the days of colonization when France did not only actually draw the map of the new state of Lebanon and gave it a constitution that was shaped on France’s own, but it also goes back to the days when the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate was created, does it not?

Macron went further and promised to return to Lebanon on the 1st of September 2020, a very ominous date indeed, a date that marks the centenary of the declaration of Grand Liban.

But Lebanon is no longer under French mandate, and France is unable to receive such a mandate without international support. That said, as unbelievable as it may sound, more than fifty thousand Lebanese have signed a petition asking France to take control of Lebanon for the next ten years. And speaking of former colonizers, if such a poll was taken for the return of Turkish rule, perhaps more would sign it as the popularity of Erdogan is growing within the Sunni street.

This is not to say that Lebanese people want to be ruled by a foreign entity. It is simply because they are feeling beaten, robbed, hungry, terrorised, so helpless and have lost total faith in their own leaders and political process and are desperately screaming out for help from outside.

If the events of 1860-1861 have generated enough Western ‘sympathy’ to ‘help’ the people of Lebanon, then the events of 2020 are much more prominent and offer a much bigger opportunity and lure for a new-style intervention.

But once again, France cannot get away with doing this alone. With Russia already on the ground in Syria and America looking for a new role in Lebanon, France would have to get them on board somehow. It is plausible that a new international conference that of course includes Russia but also Turkey, but not Iran, may soon be convened to discuss the political future of Lebanon.

This time, the West will have a significantly larger incentive than the one it had back in 1861, because this time around, it will have one small eye on Lebanon, and the bigger eye on the security of Israel, as well as seeing in this an opportunity they have not been able to achieve by other means in order to reach a deal that stamps out Iranian influence and presence just at the door step of Israel’s borders.

If the international community were serious about helping the Lebanese people and the Lebanese Army, it is quite capable of freezing the assets of the corrupt leaders and repatriating those funds to jump-start the economy again. Lebanon has a huge wealth of highly qualified professionals, many of whom currently are unemployed, and are desperately needing work in a country that desperately needs rebuilding. But would they be trusted, given their miserable track record, and who would they be answerable to if they breached the agreed mandate?

But such a plan, devised by an international conference would not bear fruit unless it puts teeth into the decision, sending troops to disarm the relatively small militia of the corrupt politicians, forcefully if needed. Theoretically, and with good intentions, this is conceivable. However, since when has such an operation ever been genuinely executed and free of abuse and various stakeholder’s pursuing their nefarious agendas. How could we forget Libya? That said, the intervention in Libya was NATO-based, the presence of Russia and possibly China in any international agreement over Lebanon will add more balance.

But no one will be able to disarm the formidable army of the true resistance, Hezbollah, any more than Hezbollah will agree to lay down its weapons.

According to my analysis and predictions, it appears likely that some type of intervention will occur to cleanse the country of the political elite and their private interest militias. The pact will draw a line somewhere in South Lebanon, keep an area under Hezbollah’s control, and have Hezbollah to agree to leave Lebanese politics. This would be the biggest concession that Hezbollah will agree to, if it does. This will not give Israel all of what it wants, because such an outcome will not safeguard it from Hezbollah’s rockets, however Israel cannot expect more than that, if it does.

Russia may use this ‘opportunity’ to reach a way out of the deadlock and find a political settlement with the USA over their differences in Syria. But for this to happen, Syria will also need to agree to remove Iranian influence and presence from Syrian soil, as this fact has caused so much growing divisiveness in the region and provided an excuse for further Israeli aggression and US presence in Syria.

Most ironically in this particular context, even Chairman Nasrallah referred to silver linings in his latest speech on the 8th of August 2020, following the sea-port disaster. He said “from the womb of the tragedy, opportunities are born, and that international discussions emerging from this incident are an opportunity that must be capitalized upon by the Lebanese” I do not profess to know what Chairman Nasrallah meant, but he did add that all of those who are hedging their bets on the failure of the resistance will eventually fail.

Lebanon has probably gone the full circle, and the age of Mutasarrifate Take II is possibly only around the corner.

If Marcon is true to his word, for better or for worse he needs to act fast because he knows that the condition of the Lebanese people is dire. But no doubt, given his country’s history great skepticism prevails.

Tragically, such an outcome will catapult Lebanon right back into the age of Western custodianship. Depending on its fine details, and unless it stipulates the lifting of sanctions on Syria, its outcome may have serious further economic repercussions on Syria. Furthermore, it will take away many of the achievements of the Axis of Resistance, realistically however, such an outcome is not far-fetched.

The murderous, greedy, filthy and corrupt Lebanese political leaders would not have only destroyed Lebanon’s economy, but also returned it to the doldrums of the age of colonization.

Censorship: Dictator Erdogan Continues to Block Syria News in Turkey

August 7, 2020 Arabi Souri

Recept Tayyeb Erdogan - Turkey Sultan Wannabe

The Turkish madman and Sultan wannabe Recep Tayyeb Erdogan continues to block our site Syria News in Turkey, or better call it Erdoganstan, the site has been blocked since 2013.

A thread on Reddit reminded me of the blocking in Turkey, it’s been a while I didn’t check with our visitors from Turkey whether they can access the site normally in different regions of Turkey, do they need to use a VPN to access the site? I’d highly appreciate if we get the response in the comments.

This is the thread on Reddit of Turkish visitors who can’t access the site normally and need a VPN to override Erdogan’s censorship, yet still one of them, as I understood from the translator, he still couldn’t access the site:

Censorship: Erdogan continues to ban Syria News in Turkey

I used Google Translator to try to confirm that the discussion is about the censorship of Syria News in Turkey, and this is what it returned:

Turkish citizens don't have access to Syria News
  • Does the site syrianews.cc anti-AKP banned pro-Assad regime in Turkey?
  • I saw a news on Social Media, a link was given to this site. I said I’ll read, I clicked but “mafiş”. I used a VPN, it was turned on. Now I can’t say the problem is on my computer.
  • It doesn’t open for me

Obviously, the madman and loyal servant to the worldwide Political Zionism movement, Erdogan is working hard to fulfill his role as the “leading player in the Greater Israel Project” – in his own words, has managed in a short period of time to reverse most achievements Turkey has accomplished since its evolvement from the most hated Ottoman Sultanate to a modern country a century ago, now he’s doubling down on reviving that anti-Islamic criminal empire that fought fake religious wars in the name of Islam against everybody else.

Erdogan: ‘George W. Bush Assigned Me the Leading Regional Role in the Greater Israel Project.

Erdogan Intimidating Syrianews.cc to Silence Us

The Ottoman sultanate, and contrary to the propaganda its defenders try to spread, is a complete 180 degrees twist from Islamic teachings. This can easily be established by their ditching of the Arabic language, the language of the Holy Quran, as the state’s formal language and enforcing their Turkish language on the Muslims and others in the countries they invaded and destroyed.

The Ottomans infiltrated and then collapsed the last real Islamic Caliphate the Abbassid based in Baghdad, and continued to sideline the Damascus center of the former Omayyad Caliphate. They moved the center of their ‘Sultanate’ to Constantinople which they conquered and called it Astana then Istanbul, the furthest they could reach from centers of Islam in Mekkah, Medina, Quds (Jerusalem), Damascus, Fustat (Cairo), and Baghdad.

The Turks – Ottomans have great hatred towards Arab Muslims manifested in their constant invasions of other countries using Muslim youth from the Arab world to fight the useless bloodiest wars of the Sultan, not to spread Islam, but to make it a hated religion. Islam strictly prohibits invading and attacking other countries that did not pose any threat or invade Muslim countries. The only other context where Islam permits an attack against another country is when it prohibits its Muslim people from practicing their prayers, even in this case, if there’s a peace treaty with that country Islam prohibits attacking it. This explains how Islam easily and peacefully spread in regions as far as China and Indonesia without any war.

The Ottomans also worked hard to stop the advance of the Arab Muslim territories from science and education in all its fields and to prevent it completely, the succeeded in making more than 90% of the population of the regions they conquered illiterate. They stole the books to their capital, they oppressed, harshly the people of the regions under their control. That’s all very much un-Islamic and against a main teaching of Prophet Muhammad PBUH.

Their grandchildren now fighting freedom of speech, oppressing journalism, and attacking all their neighbors and beyond is not surprising, seems it runs in their genes.

We call on all governments of the world to block Erdogan’s propaganda sites in their countries until he allows freedom of speech back in his, after all, his propaganda sites are only used to recruit anti-Islamic terrorists in your countries.

All those who claim they are helping the Syrian people and shout their lungs out that they want us to gain freedoms we don’t have and democracy we lack, and to distribute our resources better, are the same ones who ban our voices, block our contributions, they jail their own citizens who do not align with their criminal policies, and steal our resources, burn our food, and prevent others from trading with us or even help us.

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