Why Israel is joining the Pentagon’s ‘Arab Nato’ لماذا تنضم “إسرائيل” إلى القيادة المركزية الأميركية

Israel’s inclusion in Centcom will further harm the Palestinian cause, drive a wedge between Arab states and raise the heat on Iran

Flags of the US, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are projected on the ramparts of Jerusalem’s Old City in celebration of Israeli normalisation deals with the UAE and Bahrain, 15 September 2020 (AFP)
Jonathan CookJonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Nazareth since 2001, is the the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is a past winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be found at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net

Jonathan Cook

2 February 2021 12:21 UTC 

With none of the usual fanfare associated with such a momentous decision, the Pentagon announced last month a major reorganisation to bring Israel – for the first time – inside its military command in the Middle East alongside the Arab states.

Until now, Israel has belonged to the US military’s European command, or Eucom, rather than the Middle Eastern one, known as Central Command, or Centcom. The decision effectively jettisoned the traditional wisdom that Israel’s inclusion in Centcom would increase friction between the US and Arab states, and would make the latter more reluctant to share intelligence or cooperate with the Pentagon. 

Those concerns were felt especially keenly when the US had large numbers of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Back in 2010, David Petraeus, then Centcom’s commander, expressed fears that the price of too-overt military collusion with Israel could be exacted on US forces stationed in the region. 

But Israel’s long-standing goal has been to force the Pentagon to restructure Centcom, and pressure had mounted from pro-Israel lobby groups in Washington in the final months of the Trump administration. The decision looked very much like a “parting gift” to Israel from President Donald Trump as he stepped down.

Military ‘normalisation’

Israel’s formal transfer to Centcom has not yet taken place, but the move was cemented last week with the first visit to Israel by General Kenneth McKenzie, the current head of Centcom, since Joe Biden entered the White House. Alongside Israel’s military chief of staff, Aviv Kohavi, McKenzie planted a tree – officially to mark the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat but symbolically representing a new era in their strategic partnership. 

The decision to bring Israel inside Centcom is best viewed – from Washington’s perspective – as the culmination of efforts to push the Arab states into public ‘normalisation’ with Israel

On Friday, after a meeting with the US general, Benny Gantz, Israel’s defence minister, issued a statement praising the Pentagon’s reorganisation, saying it would “afford Israel opportunity to deepen cooperation with new regional partners and broaden operative horizons”.

The decision to bring Israel inside the US military command in the Middle East is best viewed – from Washington’s perspective – as the culmination of efforts to push the Arab states into public “normalisation” with Israel. 

Military normalisation can now be added to the political, diplomatic and economic normalisation that formally began last September when two Gulf states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, signed the so-called Abraham Accords with Israel. Morocco and Sudan have also announced their own peace deals with Israel, and other Arab states are likely to follow suit once the dust settles with the incoming Biden administration. 

Since the signing of the Abraham Accords, the UAE has been forging strong trading ties with Israel and has helped to establish the Abraham Fund, designed to finance the infrastructure of occupation Israel has used to deprive the Palestinians of statehood. When flights to Dubai were launched in November, Israeli tourists poured into the UAE to take advantage of the new friendly relations and escape lockdown restrictions back home. 

In fact, it is widely reported that such visits have become one of the main ways Israel has imported new variants of Covid-19. Last week, Israel effectively closed its borders – except to General McKenzie – to keep the virus in check. 

Growing confidence

On the face of it, Israel’s desire to move into Centcom – a kind of Middle East Nato covering several Arab states with which Israel still has hostile relations – appears counter-intuitive. But, in fact, Israel will make major strategic gains. How Gulf states became business partners in Israel’s occupationRead More »

It will align US security interests in the region even more closely with Israel’s, at the expense of its Arab neighbours. It will aid Israel’s continuing efforts to crush the national ambitions of the Palestinians, with many Arab states’ either explicit or implicit cooperation. It will accentuate political tensions within the bloc of Arab states, further weakening it. And it will help to build pressure on recalcitrant Arab states to join the broader consensus against Israel’s one remaining significant regional foe: Iran.

It is significant that Washington’s long-standing concern about Israel’s presence in Centcom damaging US relations with the Arab states has apparently evaporated. 

Once, the US was careful to distance itself from Israel whenever the Pentagon got deeply mired in the region, whether it was the US Gulf war of 1990 or the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Those calculations no longer seem relevant.

The move demonstrates a growing US confidence that the Arab states – at least those that matter to Washington – are unperturbed about being seen to make a military accommodation with Israel, in addition to political and economic engagement. It underscores the fact that the oil-rich Gulf states, alongside Israel, are now the key drivers of US foreign policy in the region and suggests that the most important, Saudi Arabia, is waiting for the right moment to sign its own accord with Israel. 

Move out of the shadows

Israel, it is expected, will continue to conduct military exercises in Europe with Nato countries, but will soon be able to build similar direct relations with Arab armies, especially those being rapidly expanded and professionalised in the Gulf using its oil wealth. 

US Marine Corps General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. (L), Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), shakes hands with Saudi military officers during his visit to a military base in al-Kharj in central Saudi Arabia on July 18, 2019.
US General Kenneth McKenzie (L), commander of US Central Command (Centcom), shakes hands with Saudi military officers on 18 July 2019 (AFP)

As the Israeli scholar Jeff Halper has noted, Israel has shown how effective it is at translating its military and security ties with armies and police forces around the world into diplomatic support in international bodies. 

The Middle East is not likely to be different. Once Israel has become the linchpin of more professionalised armies in the region, those states dependent on its help can be expected to further abandon the Palestinian cause.

Regional divide-and-rule

Another dividend for Israel will be complicating Washington’s relations with the Arab region. 

Not only does Centcom operate major bases in the Gulf, especially in Bahrain and Qatar, but it leads the proclaimed “war on terror”, with overt or covert operations in several Arab states, including Iraq and Syria. 

With Israel inside Centcom, the US and its most favoured Arab states are also likely to be more directly implicated in Israel’s major military operations against the Palestinians, such as the repeated ‘wars’ on Gaza

It will be harder for the US to disentangle itself from Israel’s own openly belligerent operations, including air strikes, in both countries, that are conducted in flagrant violation of international law. Tensions between the US and Baghdad have in the past escalated over Israeli air strikes in Iraq, with threats to limit US access to Iraqi airspace.  

With Israel inside Centcom, the US and its most favoured Arab states are also likely to be more directly implicated in Israel’s major military operations against the Palestinians, such as the repeated “wars” on Gaza. 

This will pose a significant challenge to the region’s cooperative institutions such as the Arab League. It is almost certain to drive an even deeper wedge between pro-Washington Arab states and those accused of being on the wrong side of the “war on terror”.

The result could be a regional divide-and-rule policy cultivated by Israel that mirrors the decades-long, disabling divisions Israel has generated in the Palestinian leadership, most pronounced in the split between Fatah and Hamas.

Anti-Iran front

The biggest bonus for Israel will be a more formal alliance with Arab states against Iran and shepherding more ambivalent states into Israel’s orbit. 

That appears to have been the purpose of the recently well-publicised reconciliation between the UAE and Saudis on one side and Qatar on the other, achieved in the dying days of the Trump administration. One of the chief causes of the lengthy blockade of Qatar related to its insistence on maintaining political and economic ties with Tehran.

the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps Hossein Salami (R) watching a launch of missiles during a military drill in an unknown location in central Iran
Head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hossein Salami (R), watches missiles being launched during a military drill in central Iran on 15 January 2021 (AFP)

Israel’s aim is to force the Biden administration’s hand in continuing Trump’s belligerent anti-Iran policy, which included aggressive sanctions, assassinations and tearing up the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran signed by Barack Obama. That deal had given inspectors access to Iran to ensure it did not develop a nuclear bomb that might neutralise the strategic clout Israel gains from its nuclear arsenal.

Once Israel has become the linchpin of more professionalised armies in the region, those states dependent on its help can be expected to further abandon the Palestinian cause

Inside Centcom, Israel will be able to work more closely with Gulf allies to sabotage any efforts inside Washington to revive the nuclear accord with Tehran. That point was underscored last week when an online security conference, hosted by Tel Aviv University, was attended by two Gulf ministers.

At the conference, Kochavi, Israel’s military chief of staff, issued an unprecedented public rebuke to Biden over recent statements that he wished to revive the nuclear deal. Kochavi called the agreement “bad and wrong strategically and operatively”, claimed that Iran would launch nuclear missiles at Israel once it had them, and declared that a go-it-alone attack by Israel “must be on the table”. 

Bahrain’s foreign minister, Abdullatif al-Zayani, observed that Israel and the Gulf states would have a better chance of preventing any US conciliation towards Iran if they spoke in a “unified voice”. He added: “A joint regional position on these issues will exert greater influence on the United States.” 

That view was echoed by Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s foreign affairs minister.

Middle East bogeyman

In a sign of how the Biden administration is already fearful of taking on a broad Middle Eastern alliance against Iran, the new president’s pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said last month it was “vitally important” to consult with Israel and the Gulf states before re-entering the deal.Is the UAE plotting with Israel against Palestinian refugees?Read More »

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, desperate to bolster his electoral fortunes and deflect attention from his looming corruption trial, has every incentive to prise open that chink. 

Ensuring Iran remains the Middle East’s number one bogeyman – the focus of western hostility – is in the joint interests of an Israel that has no intention of ending its decades-old obstruction of Palestinian statehood and of Gulf states that have no intention of ending their own human rights abuses and promotion of Islamic discord.

Mike Pompeo, Trump’s departing secretary of state, planted a landmine last month designed to serve Israeli and Saudi interests by highlighting the fact that a number of al-Qaeda leaders have found shelter in Iran. That echoed the Bush administration’s – in this case, entirely fanciful – claim of ties between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein as a pretext, along with non-existent WMD, for the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003.

With Israel’s arrival in Centcom, the lobbying for a repeat of that catastrophic blunder can only grow – and with it, the prospects for renewed conflagration in the Middle East.

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

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition

“ميدل إيست آي”: لماذا تنضم “إسرائيل” إلى القيادة المركزية الأميركية

المصدر: ميدل إيست آي
11 شباط 12:24

إن انضمام “إسرائيل” إلى القيادة المركزية الأميركية سيزيد من إلحاق الضرر بالقضية الفلسطينية وسيدق إسفيناً بين الدول العربية ويزيد من حدة التوتر مع إيران.

صورة تجمع ماكينزي بغانتس وكوخافي خلال زيارته

كتب جوناثان كوك مقالة في موقع  “ميدل إيست آي” البريطاني قال فيه إن البنتاغون أعلن الشهر الماضي عن إعادة تنظيم كبيرة لإدخال “إسرائيل” – لأول مرة – داخل قيادتها العسكرية في الشرق الأوسط، القيادة المركزية الأميركية ، إلى جانب الدول العربية، وهذا القرار الخطير لم يحدث أي من الضجة المعتادة.

وأضاف: حتى الآن، تنتمي “إسرائيل” إلى القيادة الأوروبية للجيش الأميركي، أو ، بدلاً من القيادة في الشرق الأوسط، المعروفة باسم القيادة المركزية . لقد تخلص القرار بشكل فعال من الحكمة التقليدية القائلة بأن إدراج “إسرائيل” في القيادة المركزية الأميركية من شأنه أن يزيد الاحتكاك بين الولايات المتحدة والدول العربية، وسيجعل الأخيرة أكثر إحجاماً عن مشاركة المعلومات الاستخباراتية أو التعاون مع البنتاغون. فقد تم الشعور بهذه المخاوف بشكل خاص عندما كان للولايات المتحدة أعداد كبيرة من القوات في العراق وأفغانستان. في عام 2010، أعرب الجنرال ديفيد بتريوس، قائد القيادة المركزية الأميركية آنذاك، عن مخاوفه من احتمال دفع ثمن التواطؤ العسكري الصريح مع “إسرائيل” على القوات الأميركية المتمركزة في المنطقة.

لكن هدف “إسرائيل” الطويل الأمد كان إجبار البنتاغون على إعادة هيكلة القيادة المركزية، وقد تصاعد الضغط من جماعات الضغط المؤيدة لـ”إسرائيل” في واشنطن في الأشهر الأخيرة من إدارة الرئيس دونالد ترامب. وكان القرار يشبه إلى حد كبير “هدية وداع” لـ”إسرائيل” من ترامب أثناء تنحيه.

تطبيع عسكري

وأوضح الكاتب أنه لم يتم الانتقال الرسمي لـ”إسرائيل” إلى “سنتكوم” بعد، ولكن تم تعزيز هذه الخطوة مع أول زيارة الشهر الماضي إلى “إسرائيل” من قبل الجنرال كينيث ماكنزي، الرئيس الحالي للقيادة المركزية، منذ دخول الرئيس جو بايدن البيت الأبيض. إلى جانب رئيس أركان الجيش الإسرائيلي، أفيف كوخافي، زرع ماكنزي شجرة، رسمياً بمناسبة العيد اليهودي لتو بيشفات، لكنها تمثل رمزياً حقبة جديدة في شراكتهما الاستراتيجية.

وبعد اجتماع مع الجنرال الأميركي، أصدر بيني غانتس، وزير الأمن الإسرائيلي، بياناً أشاد فيه بإعادة تنظيم البنتاغون، قائلاً إنه “سيوفر لإسرائيل فرصة لتعميق التعاون مع شركاء إقليميين جدد وتوسيع آفاق العمل”.

وقال الكاتب إن قرار إدخال “إسرائيل” داخل القيادة العسكرية الأميركية في الشرق الأوسط – من وجهة نظر واشنطن – يعتبر تتويجاً لجهود دفع الدول العربية إلى “التطبيع” العلني مع “إسرائيل”. وأضاف: يمكن الآن إضافة التطبيع العسكري إلى التطبيع السياسي والدبلوماسي والاقتصادي الذي بدأ رسمياً في أيلول / سبتمبر الماضي عندما وقعت دولتان خليجيتان، الإمارات العربية المتحدة والبحرين، ما يسمى بـ”اتفاقات إبراهيم” مع “إسرائيل”. كما أعلن المغرب والسودان عن اتفاقيات السلام الخاصة بهما مع “إسرائيل”، ومن المرجح أن تحذو دول عربية أخرى حذوها بمجرد انتهاء الغبار مع إدارة بايدن.

وتابع كوك: منذ توقيع اتفاقات إبراهيم، أقامت الإمارات علاقات تجارية قوية مع “إسرائيل” وساعدت في إنشاء صندوق إبراهيم، المصمم لتمويل البنية التحتية للاحتلال الذي استخدمته “إسرائيل” لحرمان الفلسطينيين من إقامة دولة. وعندما تم إطلاق الرحلات إلى دبي في تشرين الثاني / نوفمبر، تدفق السياح الإسرائيليون على الإمارات للاستفادة من العلاقات الودية الجديدة والهروب من قيود الإغلاق في الوطن. ويُقال على نطاق واسع إن مثل هذه الزيارات أصبحت إحدى الطرق الرئيسية التي استوردت بها “إسرائيل” أنواعًا جديدة من  فيروس كوفيد -19 الشهر الماضي، إذ أغلقت “إسرائيل” حدودها فعلياً – باستثناء استقبال الجنرال ماكنزي – لإبقاء الفيروس تحت السيطرة.

ورأى الكاتب أنه في ظاهر الأمر، فإن رغبة “إسرائيل” في الانتقال إلى “سنتكوم ، وهو نوع من حلف شمال الأطلسي في الشرق الأوسط يغطي العديد من الدول العربية التي لا تزال “إسرائيل” لديها علاقات عدائية معها، تبدو غير بديهية. لكن في الواقع، ستحقق “إسرائيل” مكاسب إستراتيجية كبيرة. وستعمل على مواءمة المصالح الأمنية الأميركية في المنطقة بشكل أوثق مع مصالح “إسرائيل”، على حساب جيرانها العرب. وسوف تساعد جهود “إسرائيل” المستمرة لسحق الطموحات الوطنية للفلسطينيين، مع تعاون العديد من الدول العربية سواء بشكل واضح أو ضمني. وسيزيد من حدة التوترات السياسية داخل كتلة الدول العربية، ويزيد من إضعافها. وسيساعد على زيادة الضغط على الدول العربية المتمردة للانضمام إلى إجماع أوسع ضد العدو الإقليمي الوحيد المتبقي لـ”إسرائيل”: إيران.

وقال الكاتب “إن من الأهمية بمكان أن قلق واشنطن الطويل الأمد بشأن الوجود الإسرائيلي في القيادة المركزية الأميركية الذي يضر بعلاقات الولايات المتحدة مع الدول العربية قد تبخر على ما يبدو. فذات مرة، كانت الولايات المتحدة حريصة على إبعاد نفسها عن “إسرائيل” كلما غرق البنتاغون بعمق في المنطقة، سواء كانت حرب الخليج الأميركية عام 1990 أو غزو العراق واحتلاله عام 2003. هذه الحسابات لم تعد موجودة. فقد أظهرت هذه الخطوة ثقة الولايات المتحدة المتزايدة في أن الدول العربية – على الأقل تلك التي تهم واشنطن – غير منزعجة من أن يُنظر إليها على أنها تقدم تسوية عسكرية مع “إسرائيل”، بالإضافة إلى المشاركة السياسية والاقتصادية. إنه يؤكد حقيقة أن دول الخليج الغنية بالنفط، إلى جانب “إسرائيل”، أصبحت الآن المحركين الرئيسيين للسياسة الخارجية الأميركية في المنطقة، وتشير إلى أن أهمها، المملكة العربية السعودية، تنتظر اللحظة المناسبة لتوقيع اتفاقها الخاص مع إسرائيل”.

وأضاف: من المتوقع أن تستمر “إسرائيل” في إجراء التدريبات العسكرية في أوروبا مع دول حلف الأطلسي (الناتو)، لكنها ستتمكن قريباً من بناء علاقات مباشرة مماثلة مع الجيوش العربية، وخاصة تلك التي يتم توسيعها بسرعة واحترافها في الخليج باستخدام ثروتها النفطية. ومن المحتمل أن يخرج الضباط الإسرائيليون قريباً من الظل ويقومون بتدريب الجيوش الإماراتية والسعودية وتقديم المشورة لهم كجزء من أدوارهم المشتركة في القيادة المركزية. إن خبرة “إسرائيل” الخاصة، التي تعتمد على عقود من المراقبة والسيطرة والقمع للفلسطينيين، ستكون مطلوبة بشدة في دول الخليج التي تخشى المعارضة الداخلية أو الانتفاضات.

وكما أشار الباحث الإسرائيلي جيف هالبر، أظهرت “إسرائيل” مدى فعاليتها في ترجمة علاقاتها العسكرية والأمنية مع الجيوش وقوات الشرطة في جميع أنحاء العالم إلى دعم دبلوماسي في الهيئات الدولية. ومن غير المحتمل أن يكون الشرق الأوسط مختلفاً. فبمجرد أن تصبح “إسرائيل” العمود الفقري للجيوش الأكثر احترافاً في المنطقة، يمكن توقع أن تتخلى تلك الدول التي تعتمد على مساعدتها عن القضية الفلسطينية.

فرّق تسد 

ورأى الكاتب أن المكاسب الأخرى لـ”إسرائيل” ستكون تعقيد علاقات واشنطن مع المنطقة العربية. إذ لا تقوم القيادة المركزية الأميركية بتشغيل قواعد رئيسية في الخليج فقط، وخاصة في البحرين وقطر، ولكنها تقود “الحرب على الإرهاب” المعلنة، مع عمليات علنية أو سرية في العديد من الدول العربية، بما في ذلك العراق وسوريا. وسيكون من الصعب على الولايات المتحدة أن تنأى بنفسها عن عمليات “إسرائيل” العدائية العلنية، بما في ذلك الضربات الجوية، في كلا البلدين (سوريا والعراق)، والتي تتم في انتهاك صارخ للقانون الدولي. 

وأضاف: تصاعدت التوترات بين الولايات المتحدة وبغداد في الماضي بسبب الضربات الجوية الإسرائيلية في العراق، مع تهديدات بتقييد وصول الولايات المتحدة إلى المجال الجوي العراقي. لكن بوجود “إسرائيل” داخل القيادة المركزية الأميركية، فمن المرجح أيضاً أن تكون الولايات المتحدة والدول العربية المفضلة لديها أكثر تورطًا بشكل مباشر في العمليات العسكرية الإسرائيلية الكبرى ضد الفلسطينيين، مثل “الحروب” المتكررة على غزة. سيشكل هذا تحدياً كبيراً للمؤسسات التعاونية في المنطقة مثل جامعة الدول العربية. ويكاد يكون من المؤكد دق إسفين أعمق بين الدول العربية الموالية لواشنطن وتلك المتهمة بالوقوف في الجانب الخطأ من “الحرب على الإرهاب”.

وخلص الكاتب إلى أنه يمكن أن تكون النتيجة سياسة “فرق تسد” الإقليمية التي ترعاها “إسرائيل” والتي تعكس الانقسامات التي دامت عقوداً، والتي عطلتها “إسرائيل” في القيادة الفلسطينية، والتي تجلّت أكثر في الانقسام بين حركتي فتح وحماس.

الجبهة المناهضة لإيران

وأوضح الكاتب أن المكافأة الأكبر لـ”إسرائيل” ستكون تحالفاً أكثر رسمية مع الدول العربية ضد إيران ورعاية دول أكثر تردداً في فلك “إسرائيل”. ويبدو أن هذا الأمر كان الغرض من المصالحة التي تم الإعلان عنها أخيراً بين الإمارات والسعوديين من جهة وقطر من جهة أخرى، والتي تحققت في الأيام الأخيرة لإدارة ترامب. فمن الأسباب الرئيسية للحصار المطول على قطر إصرارها على الحفاظ على العلاقات السياسية والاقتصادية مع طهران. وتهدف “إسرائيل” إلى إجبار إدارة بايدن على مواصلة سياسة ترامب العدائية المناهضة لإيران، والتي تضمنت عقوبات صارمة واغتيالات وتمزيق الاتفاق النووي لعام 2015 مع طهران الذي وقعه الرئيس باراك أوباما. وقد سمح هذا الاتفاق للمفتشين بالدخول إلى إيران للتأكد من أنها لم تطور قنبلة نووية قد تكسر النفوذ الاستراتيجي الذي تكسبه “إسرائيل” من ترسانتها النووية. 

وتابع الكاتب: داخل القيادة المركزية -سنتكوم، ستكون “إسرائيل” قادرة على العمل بشكل أوثق مع حلفاء الخليج لتخريب أي جهود داخل واشنطن لإحياء الاتفاق النووي مع طهران. فقد أصدر كوخافي، رئيس أركان الجيش الإسرائيلي، توبيخاً علنياً غير مسبوق لبايدن بشأن التصريحات الأخيرة التي قال فيها إنه يرغب في إحياء الاتفاق النووي. ووصف كوخافي الاتفاق بأنه “سيء وخاطئ استراتيجياً وعملياً”، وادعى أن إيران ستطلق صواريخ نووية على “إسرائيل” بمجرد امتلاكها، وأعلن أن هجوم “إسرائيل” بمفردها “يجب أن يكون على الطاولة”.

وأشار وزير خارجية البحرين، عبد اللطيف الزياني، إلى أن “إسرائيل” ودول الخليج ستكون لها فرصة أفضل لمنع أي تسوية أميركية تجاه إيران إذا تحدثت “بصوت موحد”. وأضاف: “الموقف الإقليمي المشترك بشأن هذه القضايا سيكون له تأثير أكبر على الولايات المتحدة”. وكرر هذا الرأي أنور قرقاش وزير الخارجية الإماراتي.

وفي إشارة إلى كيف تخشى إدارة بايدن بالفعل الدخول في تحالف شرق أوسطي واسع ضد إيران، قال انتوني بلينكين، وزيرة الخارجية الأميركي، الشهر الماضي إنه من “المهم للغاية” التشاور مع “إسرائيل” والخليج قبل العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي.

رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي بنيامين نتنياهو، اليائس لتعزيز ثرواته الانتخابية وصرف الانتباه عن محاكمته التي تلوح في الأفق بالفساد، لديه كل الحافز لفتح هذه الفجوة، وذلك لضمان أن تظل إيران البعبع الأول في الشرق الأوسط – محور العداء الغربي – في المصالح المشتركة لـ”إسرائيل”، التي لا تنوي إنهاء عوائقها المستمرة منذ عقود للدولة الفلسطينية، ودول الخليج التي لا تنوي إنهاء انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان وتعزيز الانقسام الإسلامي.

مايك بومبيو، وزير خارجية ترامب، زرع لغماً أرضياً الشهر الماضي مصمماً لخدمة المصالح الإسرائيلية والسعودية من خلال تسليط الضوء على حقيقة أن عدداً من قادة تنظيم القاعدة وجدوا ملاذاً في إيران. وردد ذلك صدى ادعاء إدارة الرئيس جورج بوش الإبن – الوهمي تماماً – بوجود روابط بين “القاعدة” وصدام حسين كذريعة، إلى جانب أسلحة دمار شامل التي لم تكن موجودة، لغزو العراق واحتلاله عام 2003.

وختم كوك تحليله بالقول إنه “مع وصول إسرائيل إلى القيادة المركزية، فإن الضغط لتكرار هذا الخطأ الكارثي يمكن أن ينمو فقط، وتنمو معه احتمالات تجدد الحرب في الشرق الأوسط”.

ترجمة بتصرف: هيثم مزاحم

SAA Kills and Injures 16 Turkestan Islamist Party Terrorists North of Hama

ARABI SOURI 

Turkestan Islamist Party terrorist group - Syria - الحزب الاسلامي التركستاني

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) killed and injured 16 terrorists of the Turkestan Islamist Party in the northwestern countryside of Hama, central Syria.

The army units spotted a group of anti-Islamic Turkestan Islamist Party terrorists in the Al-Ghab Valley heading to their makeshift posts to attack Syrian Army posts in the area and targeted them with a guided-missile.

Local sources confirmed the killing of 7 terrorists at least and the injury of 9 others at the time of writing this report.

Turkish Madman Erdogan imported tens of thousands of radical terrorists from regions where his Muslim Brotherhood global radicalization groups operate, mainly in Central Asian countries all the way to the Chinese Xingyang Province of Muslim majority. The Turkestan Islamist Party is one of the backbones of these terrorist groups the Turkish pariah Erdogan uses in his regional influence spreading which spans from west China to Germany and from the Caucasus to north and western African countries.

The Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Aerospace Forces have increased their levels of readiness recently and resumed targeting the posts of terrorist groups sponsored by Turkey and the USA in Idlib and Hama provinces especially after the latest deadly attacks by ISIS and its affiliates against buses in the region. In the past week, the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out successful strikes against command centers, tunnels, and weapons depots in northern Idlib countryside, while the SAA targeted terrorist gatherings in the southern countryside of the province.

Terrorist groups designated as such by the United Nations Security Council are not included in the Moscow, Astana, and Sochi ceasefire agreements in which the Turkish regime of Erdogan is a signatory and he has not only failed to meet his commitments as per these agreements for the past 2 years, he has instead beefed up the terrorist groups operating under his command in northern Syria regions and sent thousands of Turkish army soldiers to serve as human shields between his terrorists and the Syrian Army units on Syrian territories.

Worth noting that Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump’s secretary of state delisted the Turkistan Islamist Party from the US list of terrorist groups last November 2020, despite the UNSC maintaining them as one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations with terrorist activities in a number of countries.

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GIDHR to Biden: Put an End to the War on Yemen

GIDHR to Biden: Put an End to the War on Yemen

By Staff, GIDHR.org

On the Global Day of Action for Yemen, the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights addressed US President Joe Biden urging him to put an end to the war on Yemen.

Dear President Joe Biden,

We, in the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights [GIDHR], are writing to you to offer our congratulations on your election.

We are, also, writing to bring to your attention the unprecedented crisis in Yemen due to the war launched by Saudi and Emirati led coalition.

Targeting civilians

The Saudi and Emirati led coalition directly target Yemeni residential neighborhoods, schools, markets, leaving civilian casualties, without being held responsible for their crimes. It is estimated that, until November 2020, more than 100,000 Yemenis [including thousands of children and women] were directly targeted and killed.

These attacks are blatant violations to the international law which guarantees protecting the lives of civilians and children during armed conflicts. They also amount to be described as war crimes, whose perpetrators and those who ordered the attacks should be prosecuted.

Imminent Catastrophe

The high levels of food insecurity and acute malnutrition which knock on the Yemenis’ doors are alarming, especially with the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. Many people lost their jobs what to lead to an increase in the population rate who lost the ability to secure their needs, and an increase in the rate of those who need humanitarian aid.

The designation of Houthis as a foreign terrorist organisation by the former US secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, raised the concerns of worsening the famine and the humanitarian conditions in the country.

In this context, Mark Lowcock, the director general of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, called for the decision to be reversed. He warned the UN that “the likely humanitarian impact of the US decision would be a large-scale famine on a scale that we have not seen for nearly 40 years.”

David Beasley, the UN food chief, described the situation as “literally a death sentence to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of innocent people, in Yemen”.

The systematic destruction of farms, fisheries, sewage, sanitation plants and much more had brought more suffering to the Yemeni people. UN reports estimate that two-thirds of Yemenis are already hungry and half of them do not know what their next meal is. Quarter the population suffer from malnutrition, ranging from moderate to severe, including more than two million children.

Blockade and siege

For nearly six years, Yemenis have been facing a blockade on all their ports, preventing humanitarian aid, food, medications, fuel, and any other goods from entering the country.

The blockade has been contributing to the humanitarian disaster which the Yemeni people are facing.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that 131,000 Yemenis have died from indirect causes such as lack of food, health services and infrastructure. All these causes are results of the Saudi and Emirati led war on Yemen, their direct targeting of civilians and the blockade they are enforcing, starving millions and killing tens thousands of Yemenis.

Recommendations:

We are aware of your statements to end US support for Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen. Hence, we urge you to:

  • End the US support of Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen as soon as possible.
  • Stop the arms sales to Saudi Arabia and United Arabic Emirates.
  • Pressure the international community and the coalition, especially Saudi Arabia and United Arabic Emirates, to end the blockade enforced on Yemeni ports.
  • Hold the perpetrators and the instigators of the war crimes committed against the Yemeni people accountable and refer them before fair trials.
  • Compensate the victims of this war.
  • Reconstruct Yemen.

Yours sincerely,

Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights [GIDHR]

Pompeo’s Last Stand

Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.

Source

Philip Giraldi

January 21, 2021

The neocons and the media demand tough talk and even tougher action from their candidate and Pompeo is already running hard to oblige them.

Pompeo's Last Stand - TheAltWorld
© Photo: REUTERS/POOL New

It is finally over. Joe Biden has been inaugurated President of the United States while his predecessor Donald Trump has retired to Florida. Trump intends to remain the driving force in the Republican Party but there are many in the GOP who would like to see him gone completely and the national media is obliging by depriving him of a “voice,” cutting him off from his preferred social media. The Democratic Party’s top “megadonor” Israeli film producer Haim Saban goes one step farther, recommending that all the media stop reporting on Trump and his activities, thereby taking away his platform and making him disappear politically speaking.

Prior to the inauguration, which proceeded protected by an unprecedented display of military and police, there had been so much going on in and around Washington that other serious developments worldwide were not getting the attention that they merited. President Donald Trump was impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors” relating to his alleged encouragement of the January 6th rioting at the U.S. Capitol building, but to my mind the recent travels and meetings involving Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could turn out to be far more damaging to America’s long-term interests. One wonders why Pompeo was engaging in frenetic activity with the Administration that he represented being about to vanish in a few days, but the answer is perhaps obvious. Trump and Pompeo want to lay a foreign policy mine field for the Joe Biden White House, locking the new administration into policies that will prove difficult to untangle.

Pompeo has been most active in four areas: Iran, China, Cuba and Yemen. Iran, as has often been the case with the Trump Israeli-driven policy in the Middle East, has been the principal focus. The Trump Administration has consistently responded to Israeli and also Saudi perceptions of the threat from Iran to the entire region, even though those claims were generally based on self-interests and deliberately falsified intelligence. Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran signed in 2015 and has been waging incrementally expanded economic warfare against the Iranians for the past three years. It has collaborated with the Israelis on assassinations and air attacks on primarily civilian targets in Syria and Lebanon.

During Trump’s last two weeks in power there was much talk about the possibility of a U.S. attack on Iran. The Israeli military was on alert and there was a surge in attacks on Syria, frequently using Lebanese airspace. One incident in particular on January 6th used U.S. intelligence to enable multiple bombing attacks on targets inside Syria, killing 57. Pompeo reportedly dined publicly in a well-known Washington restaurant Café Milano on the day after the carnage to discuss the “success” with Israel’s head of Mossad Yossi Cohen.

The public meeting with Cohen was a sign from the Trump Administration that the U.S. supports Israel’s bombing campaign against claimed Iranian targets in Syria. If Biden wishes to change that, he will have to do so publicly, earning the ire of Israel’s friends in the Democratic Party and media. And more was to come. Last Tuesday, Pompeo gave a speech in which he accused al-Qaeda and the Iranian government of being “partners in terror” , constituting an “axis” of terrorism. He further claimed that al-Qaeda has a “new home base” and a “new operational headquarters” built for it in Tehran, an assertion that ran counter to the intelligence collected by U.S. counterterrorism officials, who said there was no evidence to support such a claim. In fact, the Intelligence Community has long asserted that al-Qaeda is fundamentally hostile to Shi’ite Iran and that the Iranians return the favor. In other words, Pompeo is either lying or making something up that will be an impediment if Biden tries to improve relations with Tehran. Pompeo also went so far as to declare that Iran is the “new Afghanistan” for al-Qaeda, which is meant to imply that Iran is now its home base and safe haven. There is also no evidence to support that claim.

The Trump Administration has also included Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, based on nothing whatsoever, apparently as something of a throw away item to shore up support from the rabid Cuban exile community in Florida. So too the decision to designate the Houthis of Yemen as terrorists to give a parting gift to the Saudis and the UAE. Yemen is suffering from famine and the terror designation will have a drastic impact on imports of food and medicine, condemning many Yemenis to death. Daniel Larison opines that the “Houthi designation is by far the worst thing that Pompeo has done as Secretary of State, because if it is not quickly reversed it will lead directly to the deaths of tens and possibly even hundreds of thousands of people. It takes severe cruelty to look at a war-torn, famine-stricken country that depends heavily on outside aid and imports and then choose to suffocate the survivors with additional economic warfare. That is what Pompeo has done, we shouldn’t forget that.”

And, incidentally, the United States gains absolutely nothing from killing thousands of people in Yemen, but that is not all. Pompeo has also opened the door to new problems with China. His easing of the longstanding restrictions on contacts between American diplomats and Taiwanese has been described by the State Department as a strong gesture of support for the democratic government and “ally” in Taipei. It overturns more than forty years of “strategic ambiguity” which has prevailed since Richard Nixon traveled to Beijing and recognized the communist People’s Republic of China as China’s only legitimate government, to include over Taiwan by implication. The so-called “One China” principle states that Taiwan and China are part of the same China with the U.S. recognizing, though not necessarily endorsing, that the PRC has a historic claim to sovereignty over Taiwan.

Apart from locking in policies that Biden will find hard to shift, Pompeo also has a secondary motive. It is widely believed that he would like to run for president in 2024. He will need the support of the Israelis and their powerful domestic lobby as well as the Cubans in Florida and it does not hurt to show him playing hardball in the Middle East and against an increasingly vilified China. The so-called neocons, who have again become influential in the Republican Party and the media, demand tough talk and even tougher action from their candidate and Pompeo is already running hard to oblige them.

Baghdad on the Potomac: Welcome to the Blue Zone

Via The Saker

Baghdad on the Potomac: Welcome to the Blue Zone

January 19, 2021

The star of the Joe and Kammy Regime Change Show

The season opening of the Joe and Kammy Regime Change Show could not be a more appropriate roomful of mirrors reflecting the self-described US “political elite”.

During the 2000s, I came face to face with Baghdad’s Green Zone multiple times. I always stayed, and worked, in the hyper-volatile Red Zone – as you may check in my 2007 book Red Zone Blues.

We knew then that blowback would be inevitable.

But still, we could never have imagined such a graphic simulacrum: the Green Zone fully replicated in the heart of imperial D.C. – complete with walls, barbed wire, multiple checkpoints, heavily armed guards.

That is even more significant because it ends a full “new world order” geopolitical cycle: the empire started bombing – and cluster bombing – Iraq 30 years ago. Desert Storm was launched in January 17, 1991.

The Blue Zone is now “protected” by a massive 26,000 plus troop surge – way more than Afghanistan and Iraq combined. The Forever Wars – which you may now relieve through my archives – have come back full circle.

Just like an ordinary Iraqi was not allowed inside the Green Zone, no ordinary American is allowed inside the Blue Zone.

Just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone represent none other than themselves.

The D.C. Blue Zone map

And just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone are viewed by half of the population in the Red Zone as an occupying force.

Only satire is capable of doing poetic justice to what is, de facto, the Potemkin inauguration of a hologram. So welcome to the most popular president in history inaugurated in secret, and fearful of his own, fake, Praetorian Guard. The Global South has seen this grisly show before – in endless reruns. But never as a homegrown Hollywood flick.

When in doubt, blame China

Meanwhile, trapped inside the Blue Zone, the White House has been busy compiling an interminable list of accomplishments.

Multitudes will go berserk relieving the appalling foreign policy disasters, courtesy of American Psycho Mike Pompeo; debunking the official narrative partially or as a whole; and even agreeing with the odd “accomplishment”.

Yet close attention should be paid to a key item: “Colossal Rebuilding of the Military”.

This is what is going to play a key role beyond January 20 – as Gen Flynn has been extremely busy showing evidence to the military, at all levels, of how “compromised” is the new Hologram-in-Chief.

And then there’s the rolling, never-ending November 3 drama. Blame should be duly apportioned. Impeachment, digital witch hunts, rounding up “domestic terrorists”, that is not enough. “Foreign interference” is a must.

Enter Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe, adamantly stating that “the People’s Republic of China sought to influence the 2020 U.S. federal elections.”

Ratcliffe was referring to a report sent to Congress on January 7 by the DNI’s Chief of the Solutions Division, or analytic ombudsman Barry Zulauf, side by side with an assessment about “foreign interference”.

A legitimate question is why it took them so long to finish this report. And it gets wackier: the full intel on the report about foreign interference was scotched by none other than CIA higher-ups.

The ombudsman states that the groups of analysts working on Russian and Chinese interference used different standards. Russia, of course, was guilty from the start: a categorical imperative. China had the benefit of the doubt.

Ratcliffe actually states that some analysts refused to blame Beijing for election interference because they were – what else – Never Trumpers.

So Langley, we’ve got a problem. Pompeus “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Minimus is CIA. He qualifies the Chinese Communist Party as the greatest evil in the history of mankind. How would he not influence his minions to produce, by any means necessary, any instance of Chinese election interference?

At the same time, for the Dem Deep State faction, Russia is perpetually guilty of…whatever.

This rift inside the Deep State roomful of mirrors delightfully reverberates the Blue Zone/Red Zone schism.

Needless to add, in both the ombudsman’s report and Ratcliffe’s letter, there is absolutely no hard evidence of Chinese interference.

As for Russia, apart from election interference – once again, no evidence – the Dem Deep State Dementia apparatus is still busy trying to blame Moscow also for 1/6. The latest gambit centers on a MAGA chick who may have stolen Pelosi’s laptop from her office at the Capitol to sell it to the SVR, Russian foreign intel.

The whole Global South – Baghdad’s Green Zone included – just can’t get enough of the greatest show on earth. Do they sell bananas in the Blue Zone?

Pompeo Cancels Final Trip Abroad after European Leaders Refuse to Meet With Him

Alahednews

Pompeo Cancels Final Trip Abroad after European Leaders Refuse to Meet With Him

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cancelled his Europe trip at the last minute on Tuesday after Luxembourg’s foreign minister and top European Union officials declined to meet with him, European and US diplomats familiar with the matter said.

The extraordinary snub of the top US diplomat, first reported by Reuters, came days after the storming of the US Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump, an unprecedented attack on American democracy that stunned many world leaders and US allies.

Pompeo, a close ally of Trump, had sought to meet Jean Asselborn in Luxembourg, a small but wealthy NATO ally, before meeting EU leaders and the bloc’s top diplomat in Brussels, three people close to the planning told Reuters.

But the initial plan to go to Luxembourg, which had not been officially announced, was scrapped after officials there showed reluctance to grant Pompeo appointments, a diplomatic source said. The Brussels leg was still on until the last minute.

But the thin itinerary of Pompeo’s final visit to Brussels raised questions about the merit of the trip. There were no meetings on his schedule with EU officials or any public events at NATO. A third diplomatic source said allies were “embarrassed” by Pompeo after the violence in Washington last Wednesday that left five dead.

Trump encouraged his supporters at a rally earlier that day to march on the building that houses the Senate and the House of Representatives while lawmakers were certifying Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s Nov. 3 election victory. The Republican president claims, without evidence, that the election was stolen from him.

Pompeo condemned the violence but made no reference to the role that Trump’s baseless claims played in galvanizing the march on the Capitol.

Appalled by the violence, Luxembourg’s Asselborn had called Trump a “criminal” and a “political pyromaniac” on RTL Radio the next day.

Luxembourg’s foreign ministry confirmed the previously planned stop there was cancelled, but declined to give further details. The EU declined to comment.

The US State Department, in a statement, attributed the cancellation to transition work before Biden takes office on Jan. 20, even if Pompeo had been reluctant until recently to unequivocally recognize Biden’s win. The State Department declined further comment on European officials’ rejection of meetings with Pompeo.

In Brussels, Pompeo was due to have a private dinner with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday evening at Stoltenberg’s private residence, before meeting Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes, whose country is a NATO ally.

One of the sources said the lack of any public events at NATO was another reflection of European officials questioning the point of the trip. It was not immediately clear why Pompeo sought to go to Brussels so near to the end of Trump’s term.

The cold shoulder was a contrast with Pompeo’s previous visits to Brussels, which is home to NATO and EU headquarters, over the past three years, where he has given keynote speeches on US policy and met the EU’s chief executive, even as Europe balked at Trump’s foreign policy.

In 2018, Pompeo said in Brussels that Trump’s ‘America First’ policy was reshaping the post-World War Two system on the basis of sovereign states, not institutions such as the EU.

EU officials, who say they were exhausted by Trump’s unpredictability, are eager to build fresh ties with Biden.

One source, while explaining why Pompeo chose to remain in Washington, cited his eagerness to roll out planned foreign policy tasks until the end of the term and help keep the continuity of government.

For nearly three years, Pompeo proved a loyal executor of Trump’s unconventional style.

His tenure did not include obvious successes in such long-standing US foreign policy challenges as reining in the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, ending the US war in Afghanistan or containing an increasingly assertive China.

Nevertheless on Jan. 1, Pompeo kicked off a daily Twitter thread, saying the United States was “much safer” today than four years ago thanks to what he saw as the foreign policy accomplishments of the Trump administration.

He said he would showcase the results. “Over the coming days, I’m going to lay out the mission set, the huge wins, personal stories, and a lot more. Just me, Mike,” he said.

The tweets, along with some of his foreign trips, have been largely seen as part of his bid to lay the groundwork for his much-anticipated 2024 run for the Republican nomination for president.

Israel & United States Unite Efforts In Large-Scale Strikes On Iranian Infrastructure In Syria

South Front

The first two weeks of 2021 have, so far, been marked by an incredible increase in Israeli activity in the skies over Syria.

The most intense strike took place on January 13 morning hitting multiple Syrian and Iranian-affiliated targets in the province of Deir Ezzor, including the underground base of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Corps near al-Bukamal.

The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Israeli strikes have killed 57 and wounded another 37. Pro-government sources confirmed only 5 casualties.

The airstrikes were so numerous that even Abu Yatem al-Katrani – the commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) 4th Brigade was killed in an airstrike.

The Israeli operations were carried out with the assistance of the United States – it provided intelligence and Israeli struck on them. Former CIA Director, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was reportedly discussing the airstrikes with Yossi Cohen, chief of Israel’s spy agency Mossad.

The US support of Tel Aviv’s aerial raids is a clear message to Iran, and is a very open support to Israel’s undeclared war against Iran, which it has been waging in Syria since hostilities began.

All of the airstrikes in the first two weeks of 2021 are the most significant by Israel, and over all, since the beginning of the war in Syria. They were so significant, that Damascus even accused Tel Aviv of carrying out the strikes in very open support of ISIS militants which the Syrian Arab Army is hunting.

Meanwhile, there appears to be a sense of urgency, or a sense of danger in the air, as the United States reinforced its troop positions in the Omar oil fields with artillery pieces and other equipment.

The US troops, together with their local proxies also hold frequent drills in the area, to keep ready, for some future unknown escalation.

Prior to New Year’s Eve, Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated, in what Tehran claimed to be an elaborate Israeli operation.

Additionally, since around the same time, a farewell strike on Iran has been expected from US President Donald Trump, and the general chaos in the US ahead of Joe Biden stepping into office has been used by Israel as a chance to inflict as much damage as possible on Tehran and its allies.

Russia, at the same time, appears to also be preparing for an escalation of some sort, by building up its forces and is lying in wait.

Israel appears dead set on continuing its crusade against Iran and its allies in Syria. An urgency is felt, since Biden is unlikely to support Tel Aviv as much as Trump did, and every possible chance should be used. This is all in spite of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu removed the photo of Donald Trump from his Twitter, but all is fair in love and war.

Finally, both the American and Russian forces appear to be biding their time, waiting for an escalation that, with tensions at the breaking point appears closer than ever.

The year began with terrorist attacks in Syria, increased Israeli strikes, Iran threatening against any aggression against it, and the two most significant players in the face of Moscow and Washington are expecting an escalation, and no amount of preparation would be enough for the incoming storm.

US nuclear submarine comes in close contact with Iranian anti-submarine chopper: video

Iran ends massive war games in Strait of Hormuz, issues stern warning to enemies: photos

BY NEWS DESK 2021-01-14

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:00 P.M.) – A U.S. nuclear submarine was spotted making close contact with an Iranian military chopper this week, in a new escalation in the Persian Gulf region.

In a video released by the Iranian media and shared on social media, the U.S. nuclear submarine can be seen making close contact with the Iranian anti-submarine helicopter, the SH-3D, in the Persian Gulf waters.

The video, which is shared below, was allegedly take on Thursday, January 14th, in the Persian Gulf; however, the U.S. and Iranian forces have yet to comment on this close approach.

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More War by Other Means: Sanctioning the Wife of Syria’s President Makes No Sense to Anyone

By Philip Giraldi, Ph.D.
Source: Strategic Culture

January 7, 2021

More sanctions, by all means. More grief and suffering and more people around the world wondering what exactly the United States is doing.

I am a recipient of regular, usual weekly, emails from the Department of the Treasury providing an “Update to OFAC’s list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) and Blocked Persons.” OFAC is the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which is tasked with both identifying and managing the financial punishments meted out to those individuals and groups that have been sanctioned by the United States government. A recent update, on November 10th, included “Non-Proliferation Designations; Iran-related Designations.” There were ten items on the list, names of Chinese and Iranian individuals and companies. Those who are “Specially Designated” on the list are subject to having their assets blocked if located in the United States and are also not allowed to engage in any financial transactions that go through U.S. banking channels. As many international banks respect U.S. Treasury “designations” lest they themselves be subjected to secondary sanctions that often means in effect that the individual or group cannot move money in a large part of the global financial marketplace.

The complete SDN list is hundreds of pages long. The Treasury Department defines and justifies OFAC’s mission “As part of its enforcement efforts, OFAC publishes a list of individuals and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, targeted countries. It also lists individuals, groups, and entities, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers designated under programs that are not country-specific. Collectively, such individuals and companies are called ‘Specially Designated Nationals’ or ‘SDNs.’ Their assets are blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them.”

In reality, of course, OFAC’s sanctions are highly political. They are clearly a form of economic warfare, particularly when entire sectors of a nation’s economy are blocked or a part of a government itself is listed as has been the case with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Force. Wave after wave of “maximum pressure” sanctions on Iran have made it difficult for the country to sell its only major marketable resource, oil, and it has been locked out of most normal financial networks, making it difficult or even impossible to buy food and medicines.

In many cases sanctions have no practical effect but are rather intended to send a message. There have been new sanctions directed against Moscow and Russian government officials have been sanctioned due to their alleged involvement in activities that the United States does not approve of. The sanctions are imposed even though those “specially designated” have no assets in the U.S. and do not engage in any international financial transactions that could be blocked or disrupted. In those cases, the federal government is sending a message to whomever has been sanctioned to warn them that they are being watched and their behavior has become a matter of record. It is basically a form of intimidation.

Whether sanctions actually work is debatable. The example of Cuba, which was sanctioned by the U.S. for nearly sixty years, would suggest not. Some would argue that on the contrary countries with totalitarian regimes would actually improve their behavior if their citizens could travel freely and welcome visitors, providing evidence that foreigners do not pose a threat justifying a police state.

Within the United States government, it is largely accepted that the most powerful advocate of the sanctions regime is Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who has been the driving force behind recent sanctions directed against both China and Iran. If that is so he might well be challenged on one of the most bizarre and basically pointless applications of sanctions in recent years, targeting Asma the wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as well as her family that lives in London and are British citizens. Per Pompeo’s statement on the new sanctions “The Department of State today is imposing sanctions on Asma al-Assad, the wife of Bashar al-Assad, for impeding efforts to promote a political resolution of the Syrian conflict pursuant to Section 2(a)(i)(D) of Executive Order 13894… Asma al-Assad has spearheaded efforts on behalf of the regime to consolidate economic and political power, including by using her so-called charities and civil society organizations.”

But the real kicker is Pompeo’s condemnation of Asma, of Syrian origin but English born and raised, is how he involves her family. Her father-in-law Fawaz is a renowned cardiologist at Cromwell Hospital in South Kensington who was educated in England and has lived there for decades. “In addition, we are sanctioning several members of Asma al-Assad’s immediate family, including Fawaz Akhras, Sahar Otri Akhras, Firas al Akhras, and Eyad Akhras as per Section 2(a)(ii) of EO 13894. The Assad and Akhras families have accumulated their ill-gotten riches at the expense of the Syrian people through their control over an extensive, illicit network with links in Europe, the Gulf, and elsewhere.”

Inevitably, no evidence is provided to support any of the allegations about Asma al-Assad and her English family. Asma’s charities are for real in her war-torn country and she is highly respected and admired by those who know her and are not influenced by U.S. and Israeli propaganda.

In reality, the United States has been trying hard to overthrow the Syrian government since 2004 when the Syria Accountability Act was passed. Much of the heat in Congress behind the passage of the act was generated by the Israel Lobby, which wanted to weaken the regime and reduce its ability to represent a viable military force possibly capable of regaining the occupied Golan Heights. Be that as it may, the United States has been hostile to the country’s government and has frequently called for regime change. To bring that about, the U.S. supported al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups operating against Damascus and American soldiers continue to occupy Syrian oil fields in the southeast portion of the country. The Syrians have also been subjected to waves of sanctions that have done grave damage to their economy. American and Israeli concerns have sometimes been linked to the presence of Damascus’ allies Hezbollah and Iran, both of whom have military units based inside Syria, but the simple fact is that neither Iranians nor Lebanese in any way threaten the vastly superior American and Israeli forces present in the region.

One has to ask why, given the realpolitik playing out in the Middle East, Washington and Pompeo feel compelled to go after Asma al-Assad and her family, apparently to include absurdly blaming relatives living for many years outside of Syria for fueling the war. More sanctions, by all means. More grief and suffering and more people around the world wondering what exactly the United States is doing.

Trump’s disgraceful end

January 9, 2021 – 12:10

By M.A. Saki

It was too late for Americans, especially most of his fellow Republicans, to realize how dangerous Donald Trump was. 

I cannot forget remarks by Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, an expert in global thought and comparative philosophies, who said that “Trump is the most dangerous man in the world.”

On Wednesday, Trump provoked assault on the Capitol in a last-ditch effort to overturn the results of the November 3 election in which he lost with a rather large margin.  

According to CNN, in his first presidential debate on October 1, Trump refused to condemn White supremacists and blamed what he called “antifa and the left” for violence and told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.”

At last, his Proud Boys, a mob of fanatics, caused mayhem by storming and capturing the Capitol, violently disrupting the ceremonial electoral count. The move by the fanatics came as a severe blow to the heart of democracy that the U.S. has been boasting of.

Trump has been repeatedly claiming that the U.S. presidential election looked like an election in a third world country. But, in fact, it was Trump himself who behaved like a dictator in a third world country as he refused to admit losing the election. 

It is very difficult for the liar-in-chief to admit defeat and resist his egoism. He proved that he is ready to push the United States toward a crisis in order to please his egoism.

Just prior to the elections, he kept claiming that he will win the presidency for a second term otherwise the votes are rigged.

Trump’s entire presidency was filled with numerous lies. He has no principles. In addition, the self-centered president shows no respect to democracy, freedom of expression, human rights, etc. By inciting his supporters, who attacked the Capitol building, he crucified democracy and the rule of law in the U.S. and showed complete disregard for those who had not voted for him.

If the American Constitution had not restrained Trump, he would have acted more irresponsibly and recklessly at home and abroad.

His unprecedented sanctions against Iran under the name of the “maximum pressure” campaign are in violation of international law. The sanctions have pushed millions of Iranian citizens to the verge of poverty and instead made a small percentage of Iranians millionaires because of skyrocketing inflation. This will remain in the memory of Iranians forever. His reckless order of assassinating Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq in January 2020 reminded the people of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria which ignited the First World War. 

Also, his move in recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the stolen Golan Heights and moving the U.S. capital to Jerusalem in violation of UN Security Council resolutions are some other examples of the illegal moves that the Trump administration should be ashamed of.

Trump picked Mike Pompeo as his secretary of state, who according to Professor Adib-Moghaddam, “continued to pursue an essentially ideological foreign policy, driven by a distinctively irrational approach to world politics in general and Iran in particular.” 

Actually, from the very beginning, Trump was unfit for the post of president. However, a great majority of Republicans in Congress, especially in the Senate, kept supporting him just for partisan interests. 

Regardless of certain extremist senators such as Ted Cruz and a considerable number of lawmakers in the House of Representatives who still repeat Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, finally it was realized that the person that the Republicans supported for four years based on party lines dealt the greatest blow to the Republicans themselves. And fortunately, he is being forced, of course legally, to leave the White House in disgrace.  

PA/PA

US Labels Illegal Jewish Settlement Products as ‘Made in Israel’

December 24, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: File)

The US has started to label products from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as “Made in Israel”. Washington claims that this is to mark goods in accordance with import laws and regulations.

In a statement published yesterday by US Customs and Border Protection, it called for the accuracy of the labeling on products from territories held by Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Gaza to be “consistent with the United States’ foreign policy approach.”

Under the new ruling, all products made and packaged in the areas controlled by Israel and its military – including those in the West Bank formerly held by the PA – are to be marked as Israeli-made. The areas mentioned include the West Bank’s Area C, where around 150,000 Palestinians live under Israel’s full control.

The order came into effect yesterday and follows last month’s landmark visit to a settlement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Prior to Pompeo’s visit, he announced that the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against illegal settlement goods will be branded as “anti-Semitic” by the US.

The labeling of goods from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories has long been a debated issue. Prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the US required all products from those areas to mention Israel. Since 1995, however, products from the West Bank and Gaza have been required to be labeled from those territories; two years later, they were allowed to have the joint label of “West Bank/Gaza”.

In 2016, under President Barack Obama, it was ruled that wrongly labeling settlement goods as “Made in Israel” could lead to fines being levied.

Even though the new ruling has now come into effect, importers have been given a 90-day grace period to implement the changes to their labels.

This new development ensures that consumers who want to buy products from the Palestinian territories and not Israel or its settlements can do so more easily. Nevertheless, such labeling gives US legitimacy to the settlements, all of which are illegal under international law.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Persian Gulf in the US and Israel’s Sights

By Viktor Mikhin
Source: New Eastern Outlook

SLM

After more than three years of diplomatic tensions and a hostile media campaign against each other, it seems that Saudi Arabia and Qatar finally decided to settle their relations. Political scientists and experts around the world are now wondering what finally motivated the two rivals to put their differences behind them and start a policy of rapprochement.

In this regard, it should be noted that in June 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — commonly known as the “Arab Quartet” — severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a complete blockade on the tiny emirate of the Persian Gulf. These countries, led by Riyadh, closed their airspace, land and sea routes to Qatari planes, cars and ships, prompting Doha to use Iranian airspace. Kuwait, a country stuck in the middle of a dispute between its neighbors, tried diligently to reconcile the opposing sides, and even the “great peacemaker of the Persian Gulf” — now deceased Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah — entered the case, but to no avail.

In the end, however, Kuwaiti mediation efforts seem to have brought fruit. Kuwaiti Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammad Al Sabah spoke on Kuwaiti State Television to read a statement about the split between Qatar and the Arab Quartet:  “Recently, fruitful discussions took place. All parties expressed their interest in unity and stability in the Persian Gulf and Arab countries, as well as in reaching a final agreement that will ensure lasting solidarity”.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia welcomed Kuwait’s efforts, while Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE, which boycotted the emirate along with the Saudis, remain silent. Some news reports suggest that Riyadh has broken off the ranks of these allies to normalize relations with Qatar under US pressure. Bahrain, Egypt, and the UAE are not members of the normalization agreement that the Saudis intend to sign with Qatar. Some Arab media reported that normalization would begin with a bilateral agreement between Riyadh and Doha, followed by Manama and Cairo. The UAE’s stance is still unclear, even if they tend to be reluctant to pursue this issue in the waterway of Saudi Arabia.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani expressed the Qatari optimism regarding the solution of the Persian Gulf crisis, adding that the Emirate has a strong positive attitude towards any initiative that brings peace to the region.  Moreover, Saudi Arabia also expressed optimism that the three-year crisis would soon be resolved. Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said at a conference of the International Institute for Security Studies in Manama, Bahrain, that “significant progress” has been made in resolving the crisis that began in 2017.

Although the details of the deal between Qatar and Saudi Arabia have not yet been made public, political analysts and experts in the region have rightly placed the event in the broader context of “boiling tensions” between Iran, on the one hand, and the United States and Israel, on the other. It should be recognized that the current US president Donald Trump is still defending his advantages to the very last, resorting to all visible and invisible methods. Initially, a plan to launch a military strike on the alleged nuclear facilities of Iran was revealed. In this connection, there was even a secret meeting in the White House, where Trump asked his military and advisers about such a possibility. However, the military, accustomed to a quiet and peaceful life, with the situation with Iran, which has modern air defense equipment and missiles, which can easily cover all US bases in the region with a barrage of fire, has somewhat cooled the fervor of the belligerent president. But, nevertheless, the American President’s advisors, among which is the senior advisor of the White House Hasid Jared Kushner, Trump’s favorite brother-in-law, constantly keep buzzing in the President’s ears about the impending threat to America from “bearded Iranian ayatollahs”.

Finally, a solution was reached – Jared Kushner and his team rushed to Saudi Arabia and Qatar to negotiate in a region bubbling with tension and hatred towards Israel and the United States after the despicable assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who had recently worked on the COVID-19 issue.   The delegation included Ambassadors for the Middle East Avi Berkowitz, Brian Hook and Adam Boler, Executive Director of the American International Development Finance Corporation.  Incidentally, the senior advisor and his team have recently been actively involved in negotiations to normalize relations between Israel and Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan. Officials said in public speeches that they would like to promote and sign more such agreements before President Donald Trump transfers power to President-elect Joe Biden on January 20.

American officials believe, and the US media sometimes write, that Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the deal with Israel will encourage other Arab countries to follow their example. But the Saudis don’t seem to have reached such a milestone deal, and officials in recent weeks have focused on other countries concerned about Iran’s regional influence as a unifying factor.

Kushner’s trip took place shortly after the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh by unknown attackers, whose hand was allegedly pointed by the Israeli Mossad and the American CIA. In fact, a few days before the murder, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Saudi Arabia and met with Mohammed bin Salman, joined by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Given that Joe Biden has repeatedly announced his intention to join an international nuclear pact with Iran, Mohammed bin Salman and Benjamin Netanyahu fear that the future White House master will pursue a policy toward Iran similar to that adopted during Barack Obama’s presidency, which has sharpened Washington’s ties with its traditional regional allies and, in particular, with Israel.

Therefore, there is no doubt that the deal between Qatar and Saudi Arabia will be directed against Iran, although it is not yet clear how it will affect the Iranian-Qatari relationships. Both parties to the deal — Qatar and Saudi Arabia — have not yet gone into detail and, for example, the Qatar embassy in Tehran has refused to comment on any details of the agreement. Yet this deal may not be sufficient to safeguard Qatar’s national interests, especially if it pushes the emirate away from Iran, which has opened its airspace and sea routes to Doha over the past three years. This new arrangement between Riyadh and Doha is obviously of direct relevance to the US, but it is most likely related to Iran, because the situation in the region has not only not changed as a result of thoughtless policies of Washington, but has further strained the situation.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are still in a state of competition in many countries, such as Libya and Syria. When Qatar was under blockade, it sought support from other countries, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, and therefore, if the Qataris damaged their previous relations by getting closer to the Saudis, there would be very high risks for Doha, the Tehran Times stressed. The newspaper also noted that the establishment of relations between Doha and Riyadh can never be in Qatar’s favor, as Saudi Arabia still does not recognize the role of Doha in regional issues and both countries are fiercely competing in Egypt.

Iran welcomed Kuwait’s mediation efforts to end the three-year crisis between Qatar and the Arab Quartet. But Tehran seems to be closely monitoring the situation in the region in light of US and Israeli efforts to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic.  Iran seeks to strengthen ties with Qatar and other Arab states in the region, but it also seeks to make it clear to those states that it does not accept any restructuring aimed at harming its interests.  “We welcome understandings in the Persian Gulf announced by Kuwait. Iran’s longstanding policy is diplomacy, good neighborly relations & regional dialogue. We hope reconciliation contributes to stability and political & economic development for all peoples of our region,” Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted a few hours after Kuwait issued a statement saying that ”fruitful negotiations“ had been held between all parties to the conflict.

Undoubtedly, the situation in the Persian Gulf is far from any settlement. And even if Riyadh’s Doha settles its difficult relations, the most important question remains — the relations of the United States and Israel with Iran and their futile efforts to change the state system in this Islamic Republic.

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

خطة بومبيو تلفظ أنفاسها و لبنان لن يتنازل…؟

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

ظنّت أميركا أنّ لبنان الذي قادته بمؤامراتها وبفساد معظم مسؤوليه، وأوصلته الى حال الوهن الشديد ودفعت به الى قاع الانهيار المركب، انهيار مالي واقتصادي وسياسي وقبل ذلك وأهم من ذلك انهيار أخلاقي لدى معظم من يتولى شأناً عاماً فيه، ظنّت أميركا انّ لبنان الذي هذا حاله سيكون طيّعاً بيديها مستجيباً لإملاءاتها مستعداً للتنازل عن حقوقه ليقدّم ما أسمته «هدايا لترامب في أيامه الأخيرة» ويقتطع من لحمه ودمه أجزاء ليعوّض بها على ترامب خسائره التي لم تعوّضها كما يبدو حلقات التطبيع المتتالية من المشرق العربي الى مغربه.

ومع الظنّ هذا كان هاجس يسكن النفس الخبيثة ويشغل البال الأميركي، هاجس المقاومة في لبنان التي استطاعت في العام 2000 ثم في العام 2006 ان تصنع للبنان وللمنطقة ولمحور المقاومة انتصارات جاءت خارج السياق الكوني العام، اذ في الوقت التي نكست فيه الرؤوس أمام القطب الواحد بعد انهيار القطب الآخر دولياً أيّ الاتحاد السوفياتي وتزاحمت الدول والكيانات على الباب الأميركي طلباً للرضا وتقديماً لأوراق اعتمادهم تابعين وعملاء لأميركا، كانت المقاومة ومحورها تبدي شيئاً آخر وتتمسك بحقوقها وبعلانية تجاهر بأنها لن تتنازل عن حقوقها الوطنيّة وعن فلسطين وحقوق شعب فلسطين، وفي الوقت الذي أسمي «عصر أميركا الذهبي» عالمياً، العصر الذي عملت فيه أميركا بالقوة الصلبة وانتشرت في الخليج واحتلت أفغانستان والعراق في هذا الوقت سجلت المقاومة ومحورها النصر في لبنان وكسرت استراتيجية القوة الصلبة ثم لوت ذراع العاملين بالقوة الناعمة في لبنان وإيران في العام 2008 و2009، ثم أفشلت العمل باستراتيجية القوة الإرهابية العمياء في سورية.

وأميركا مسكونة بهذا الهاجس، لأنها تعلم أنّ حصادها في أيّ مجال سيكون مهدّداً وانتصارها لن يكون مستقراً وأنّ ما تريد لن يتحقق ما لم تكسر شوكة المقاومة ومحورها، ولذلك تقوم أميركا اليوم بأبشع أنواع التصرفات الوحشية والعدوانية ضدّ إيران وسورية ولبنان في إطار ما تسمّيه «سياسة الضغوط القصوى» وهي تؤمل أن تكسر المقاومة وتزيح خطرها وتتخلص من الهواجس التي تشكلها، فهل الهدف الأميركي ممكن التحقيق في المنطقة عامة وفي لبنان خاصة؟ وهل لبنان سيصل الى يوم يرى فيه انّ التنازل عن حقوقه بات أمراً لا مفرّ منه، وان أميركا تخيّره بين التنازل أو الانتحار والموت والانحلال والدمار؟

قبل الإجابة لا بدّ من التذكير بما تريده أميركا من لبنان ولا بدّ من استعادة لائحة الطلبات الأميركية المفروضة على لبنان وهل لبنان قادر على تلبيتها؟

تريد أميركا من لبنان ما يمكن تصنيفه تحت عنوانين، المطالب الأميركية الخالصة، والمصالح «الإسرائيلية» الخاصة، أما في الفئة الأولى فإنّ أميركا تريد أن يكون لبنان قاعدة أميركيّة تلعب دور الباب الغربي لمنطقة الشرق الأوسط، وأن لا يكون لها في النفوذ فيه شريك إقليمي أو دولي مهما كانت علاقة هذا الشريك بأميركا، أما في العنوان الثاني فإنها تريد إعطاء «إسرائيل» ما تطمع به في الجو والبر والبحر والتنازل لها عن 1800 كلم2 من المنطقة الاقتصادية اللبنانية، كما والتنازل عن الحدود البرية الدولية، والقبول بالاحتلال لمزارع شبعا ومنح «إسرائيل» حصة في مياه الليطاني، وأخيراً توطين نصف مليون لاجئ فلسطيني فيه.

هذه هي المطالب الأميركية – الإسرائيلية من لبنان، وتعتقد أميركا انّ بإمكانها انتزاع ذلك عبر مَن يعملون بإمرتها في الداخل بشرط أن تنجح في تعطيل قدرات المقاومة وعزلها ثم الحرب عليها وإسقاطها، ولذلك وضعت أميركا الخطط وحشدت العملاء من الداخل والإقليم، وأوكلت إليهم مهامّ وزعت عليهم لتحقيق هدف واحد هو “إسقاط المقاومة»، لأنّ هذا الإسقاط هو الممر الإجباري الوحيد لحصول أميركا و»إسرائيل» على ما يريدون في لبنان.

ومن عميق أسف نجد أنّ أميركا و»إسرائيل» وجدت في لبنان من العملاء والتابعين وفي كلّ القطاعات الإعلامية والسياسية والاقتصادية وبدائع المجتمع المدني والمنظمات غير الحكومية (NGO.S) ما جعلها مطمئنة الى انها ستحقق أهدافها وان المسالة مسالة أسابيع أو أشهر.

بيد أنّ الظنّ الأميركي كان شيئاً والنتائج في الميدان جاءت على شكل آخر، وإذا دققنا في نتائج الهجوم الأميركي الأخير الذي ينفذ وفقاً لخطة بومبيو2019 والتي تسبّبت في الفراغ السياسي والانهيار الاقتصادي والمالي للبنان والتهويل الأمني، نجد أنّ أميركا وبيد محلية لبنانية توصّلت الى إيلام الشعب اللبناني وتسبّبت عبر الفاسدين الذين ترعاهم وكانت قد وزعتهم على كلّ القطاعات… تمكنت من تجويع أكثر من نصف الشعب، إلا أنها لم تتمكن من المقاومة التي عرفت كيف تحصّن ذاتها وتحمي قدراتها العسكرية وتستمرّ في قوّتها التي ترعب «إسرائيل» وتالياً ترعب كلّ من تسوّل له نفسه انتزاع حق من حقوق لبنان، وبقيت «إسرائيل» تعيش حالة رعب جعلت جنودها يخشون من «الطفل حسين» الذي لاحق دجاجته حتى الشريط الشائك عند الحدود فأرعب العدو حتى جعله يطلق النار، لكن رصاصه لم يخف الطفل.

إنّ المقاومة ومجتمعها وحلفاءها في لبنان يعلمون ما تريد أميركا و»إسرائيل»، ويعرفون خططهم، ويدركون أنّ كلّ فاسد في الدولة هو عميل تابع للعدو بعلمه وقصده أو من غير علم، وفي الوقت ذاته يعلمون أن ليس بإمكان أميركا ان تصنع أكثر مما فعلت أو أن تستمرّ في خطة بومبيو الإجرامية والخبيثة وهي خطة لن يبقى متاحاً العمل بها أكثر من الأيام الثلاثين المتبقية لترامب وجلاده بومبيو. وتستطيع المقاومة أن تقول بعدها أنها حققت نصراً جديداً بإسقاط خطة بومبيو ومنعت أيّ تنازل من لبنان عن أيّ من الحقوق الوطنية. وكما انتصرت في العام 2000 و2006 سيكون النصر المنتظر مع الأيام الأولى للعام 2021.

أستاذ جامعي – باحث استراتيجي

James Jeffrey’s Confessions: Syria is the gift that continues to give to us, we are in control of northeastern Syria. Erdogan retreats under threat (2) اعترافات جيمس جيفري: سورية الهديّة التي تستمرّ بالعطاء لنا نحن المسيطرون فعلياّ على شمال شرق سورية.. وأردوغان يتراجع تحت التهديد (2)

**Please scroll down for the English translation**

نضال حمادة

نستكمل الجزء الثاني والأخير من المقابلة التي أجراها المبعوث الأميركيّ الخاص السابق الى سورية جيفري جيمس مع «المونيتور».

يقول جيفري جيمس يجب الفصل بين أردوغان وتركيا، وستكون أكبر التحديات التي يواجهها بايدن هي الصين وروسيا وكوريا الشمالية وخطة العمل الشاملة المشتركة الإيرانية والمناخ. هؤلاء هم الخمسة الكبار. المرتبة السادسة هي تركيا، حيث إنّ تركيا لها تأثير مباشر على اثنين من المراكز الخمسة الأولى: إيران وروسيا، وهذا له تأثير على الإرهاب رقم ثمانية أو تسعة.

ويضيف: تركيا دولة مهمة للغاية في الناتو يقع رادار الناتو في قلب نظام الصواريخ المضادة للصواريخ الباليستية الذي يواجه إيران في تركيا. لدينا أصول عسكرية هائلة هناك. لا يمكننا فعلاً «القيام» بالشرق الأوسط أو المؤتمرات الحزبيّة أو البحر الأسود من دون تركيا. وتركيا خصم طبيعي لروسيا وإيران.

ويتابع: أردوغان مفكر كبير في أساليب الحكم. حيث يرى ما يجذب يتحرّك، الأمر الآخر بالنسبة لأردوغان هو أنه متعجرف للغاية ولا يمكن التنبّؤ بما يفعله، وببساطة لن يوافق على حلّ يربح فيه الجميع. ولكن عندما يكون في عجلة من أمره – وتفاوضت معه – فهو ممثل عقلانيّ..

لذا، إذا رأى بايدن العالم مثل الكثير منا الآن، منافسة قريبة من الأقران، تصبح تركيا مهمة للغاية. انظروا إلى ما فعله (أردوغان) للتوّ خلال ثمانية أشهر في إدلب وليبيا وناغورني كاراباخ. كانت روسيا أو الحلفاء الروس هم الخاسرون في الثلاثة.

يصف جيفري أردوغان فيقول: أردوغان لن يتراجع حتى تظهر له أسنانك، هذا ما فعلناه عندما تفاوضنا على وقف إطلاق النار في تشرين الأوّل/ أكتوبر 2019، كنا مستعدّين لسحق الاقتصاد التركي.

هذا ما فعله بوتين بعد إسقاط الطائرة الروسيّة لقد أرسل الروس الآن إشارات قوية مرتين إلى الأتراك في إدلب.

يجب أن تكون مستعداً، عندما يذهب أردوغان بعيداً، لقمعه حقاً والتأكد من أنه يفهم ذلك مسبقاً. الموقف التركيّ ليس صحيحاً أبداً بنسبة 100 %. لديهم منطق وحجج معينة من جانبهم. نظراً لدورهم كحليف مهمّ وحصن ضدّ إيران وروسيا، فإنّ الأمر متروك لنا على الأقلّ للاستماع إلى حججهم ومحاولة إيجاد حلول وسط.

حول رغبة ترامب في مغادرة القوات الأميركية المنطقة يقول جيمس جيفري: الرئيس غير مرتاح لوجودنا في سورية. كان منزعجاً جداً مما اعتبره حروباً لا نهاية لها. هذا شيء لا ينبغي أن ينتقد بسببه. أسقطنا الخلافة (داعش) ثم بقينا. ظلّ ترامب يسأل، «لماذا لدينا قوات هناك؟» ولم نعطه الإجابة الصحيحة.

إذا قال أحدهم، «الأمر كله يتعلق بالإيرانيين»، فربما كان سينجح. لكن الأشخاص الذين كانت مهمتهم معرفة سبب وجود القوات هم وزارة الدفاع. وقد أعطوا الإذن (من الكونغرس) لاستخدام القوة العسكريّة، نحن هنا لمحاربة الإرهابيين.»

أعتقد أنّ سبب سحب ترامب للقوات كان لأنه سئم من تقديم كلّ هذه التفسيرات لسبب وجودنا هناك. كان هناك وعد ضمني له: يا رئيس، لا شيء خطأ، نحن نعمل مع الأتراك، ونعمل مع الروس. ومن ثم يحصل على هذه الكوارث.

لم أبلغ الرئيس بذلك. لقد فعل بومبيو ذلك وقدّم له الحجة، وركز على إيران. لكن ترامب كان غير مرتاح لهذه القوى، وكان يثق بأردوغان. سيواصل أردوغان طرح هذه القضايا حول حزب العمال الكردستاني، وسيستجوب الرئيس الناس، ويجب أن يكونوا صادقين ويعترفوا». بالطبع، الأمر أكثر تعقيداً من ذلك. الحروب معقدة، ويضيف: لقد شرحنا الأسباب للرئيس لكنه يستمع أيضاً إلى أردوغان. أردوغان مقنع تماماً بالنسبة له.

في وزارة الخارجية، لم نكشف للرئيس عن عدد القوات في سورية. إنها ليست وظيفتنا. لم نحاول خداعه. لكننا كنا نعطيه أرقاماً أقلّ بكثير من الأرقام الفعليّة، لذلك عند التحدث إلى وسائل الإعلام والكونغرس، كان علينا توخي الحذر الشديد وتجنبها. بالإضافة إلى أنّ الأرقام كانت مضحكة. هل تحصي الحلفاء الذين لا يريدون الكشف عن هويتهم هناك؟ هل تشمل ثكنة التنف؟ هل تحسب أن وحدة برادلي تأتي وتذهب؟

كنا خجولين لأنّ الرئيس أعطى الأمر بالانسحاب ثلاث مرات. كانت الضغوط مستمرة والتهديد بسحب القوات من سورية. شعرنا بالضعف الشديد وربما شربنا القليل من الخوف لأنه كان يعني الكثير بالنسبة لنا. أتفهّم مخاوفه بشأن أفغانستان. لكن المهمة في سورية هي الهدية التي تستمرّ في العطاء. نحن وقوات سورية الديمقراطية ما زلنا القوة المهيمنة في شمال شرق سورية.

كان الأكراد يحاولون دائماً جعلنا نتظاهر بأننا سندافع عنهم ضد الجيش التركي. وحثوا قوة المهام المشتركة، على الرغم من اعتراضاتي، على البدء في إقامة نقاط استيطانيّة على طول الحدود التركيّة.

James Jeffrey’s Confessions: Syria is the gift that continues to give to us, we are in control of northeastern Syria. Erdogan retreats under threat (2)

Nidal Hamada

We complete the second and final part of the interview that former U.S. special envoy to Syria Jeffrey James gave to Al-Monitor.

Jeffrey James says Erdogan and Turkey must  be separated, and Biden’s biggest challenges will be China, Russia, North Korea, Iran’s JCPOA and climate.

“Turkey is a very important NATO country, and NATO’s radar is at the heart of the anti-ballistic missile system that confronts Iran in Turkey.” We have enormous military assets there. We can’t really “do” the Middle East, party conventions or the Black Sea without Turkey. Turkey is a natural opponent of Russia and Iran.

“Erdogan is a great thinker in governance.” Where he sees what attracts he moves, the other thing for Erdogan is that he is too arrogant and unpredictable as to what he is doing, and simply won’t agree to a win-win solution. But when he’s in a hurry, (and I negotiated with him), he’s a rational actor.

So, if Biden sees the world like so many of us now, a close-up competition, Turkey becomes very important.   

“Erdogan won’t back down until you show him your teeth, that’s what we did when we negotiated a ceasefire in October 2019, we were ready to crush the Turkish economy,” he said.

The Russians have now sent twice strong signals to the Turks in Idlib.

You must be prepared, when Erdogan goes away, to really suppress him and make sure that he understands it in advance. The Turkish position is never 100% true. They have certain logic and arguments on their part. Given their role as an important ally and bulwark against Iran and Russia, it is up to us at least to listen to their arguments and try to find compromises.

“The president is uncomfortable with our presence in Syria,” said James Jeffrey. He was very disturbed by what he considered endless wars. This is something that should not be criticized for it. We brought down the caliphate (ISIS) and then we stayed. Trump kept asking, “Why do we have troops there?” and we didn’t give him the right answer.

If someone said, “It’s all about the Iranians,” maybe it’s going to work. But the people whose job it was to find out why the troops were present was the Ministry of Defence. They have given permission (from Congress) to use military force, we are here to fight terrorists.”

I think the reason Trump pulled the troops out was because he’s tired of providing all of these explanations of why we’re there. There was an implicit to him: President, nothing is wrong, we are working with the Turks, we are working with the Russians. And then he gets these disasters.

I didn’t report it to the President. But Trump was uncomfortable with these forces, and he trusted Erdogan.

At the State Department, we have not disclosed to the President the number of troops in Syria. It’s not our job. We didn’t try to fool him.

We were shy because the president gave the order to withdraw three times. Pressure was continuing and the threat of withdrawing troops from Syria. We felt very weak and maybe even drunk a little fear because it meant so much to us. I understand his concerns about Afghanistan. But the task in Syria is the gift that continues to give. We and the Syrian Democratic Forces are still the dominant force in northeastern Syria.

The Kurds were always trying to make us pretend that we would defend them against the Turkish army. They urged the Joint Task Force, despite my objections, to start establishing outposts along the Turkish border.

US hits Search and Destroy against the New Silk Roads

US hits Search and Destroy against the New Silk Roads

December 09, 2020

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

Seven years after being launched by President Xi Jinping, first in Astana and then in Jakarta, the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) increasingly drive the American plutocratic oligarchy completely nuts.

The relentless paranoia about the Chinese “threat” has much to do with the exit ramp offered by Beijing to a Global South permanently indebted to IMF/World Bank exploitation.

In the old order, politico-military elites were routinely bribed in exchange for unfettered corporate access to their nations’ resources, coupled with go-go privatization schemes and outright austerity (“structural adjustment”).

This went on for decades until BRI became the new game in town in terms of infrastructure building – offering an alternative to the imperial footprint.

The Chinese model allows all manner of parallel taxes, sales, rents, leases – and profits. This means extra sources of income for host governments – with an important corollary: freedom from the hardcore neoliberal diktats of IMF/World Bank. This is what is at the heart of the notorious Chinese “win-win”.

Moreover, BRI’s overall strategic focus on infrastructure development not only across Eurasia but also Africa encompasses a major geopolitical game-changer. BRI is positioning vast swathes of the Global South to become completely independent from the Western-imposed debt trap. For scores of nations, this is a matter of national interest. In this sense BRI should be regarded as the ultimate post-colonialist mechanism.

BRI in fact bristles with Sun Tzu simplicity applied to geoeconomics. Never interrupt the enemy when he’s making a mistake – in this case enslaving the Global South via perpetual debt. Then use his own weapons – in this case financial “help” – to destabilize his preeminence.

Hit the road with the Mongols

None of the above, of course, is bound to serenade the paranoid volcano, which will keep spitting out a 24/7 deluge of red alerts deriding BRI as “poorly defined, badly mismanaged and visibly failing”. “Visibly”, of course, only for the exceptionalists.

Predictably, the paranoid volcano feeds on a toxic mix of arrogance and crass ignorance of Chinese history and culture.

Xue Li, director of the Department of International Strategy at the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has shown how “after the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed in 2013, China’s diplomacy has changed from maintaining a low profile to becoming more proactive in global affairs. But the policy of ‘partnership rather than alliance’ has not changed, and it is unlikely to change in the future. The indisputable fact is that the system of alliance diplomacy preferred by Western countries is the choice of a few countries in the world, and most countries choose non-aligned diplomacy. Besides, the vast majority of them are developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.”

Atlanticists are desperate because the “system of alliance diplomacy” is on the wane. The overwhelming majority of the Global South is now being reconfigured as a newly energized Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – as if Beijing had found a way to revive the Spirit of Bandung in 1955.

Chinese scholars are fond of quoting a 13th century imperial handbook, according to which policy changes should be “beneficial for the people”. If they only benefit corrupt officials, the result is luan (“chaos”). Thus the 21st century Chinese emphasis on pragmatic policy instead of ideology.

Rivaling informed parallels with the Tang and Ming dynasties, it’s actually the Yuan dynasty that offers a fascinating introduction to the inner workings of BRI.

So let’s go for a short trip back to the 13th century, when Genghis Khan’s immense empire was replaced by four khanates.

We had the Khanate of the Great Khan – which turned into the Yuan dynasty – ruling over China, Mongolia, Tibet, Korea and Manchuria.

We had the Ilkhanate, founded by Hulagu (the conqueror of Baghdad) ruling Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, parts of Anatolia and the Caucasus.

We had the Golden Horde ruling the northwestern Eurasian steppe, from eastern Hungary to Siberia, and most of all the Russian principalities.

And we had the Chaghadaid Khanate (named after Genghis Khan’s second son) ruling Central Asia, from eastern Xinjiang to Uzbekistan, until Tamerlane’s rise to power in 1370.

This era saw an enormous acceleration of trade along the Mongol Silk Roads.

All these Mongol-controlled governments privileged local and international commerce. That translated into a boom in markets, taxes, profits – and prestige. The khanates competed to get the best trading minds. They laid out the necessary infrastructure for transcontinental travel (13th century BRI, anyone?) And they opened the way for multiple East-West, trans-civilizational exchanges.

When the Mongols conquered the Song in southern China they even expanded overland Silk Roads trade into Maritime Silk Roads. The Yuan dynasty was now controlling China’s powerful southern ports. So when there was any kind of turbulence overland, trade switched to the seas.

The key axes were through the Indian Ocean, between south China and India, and between India and the Persian Gulf or the Red Sea.

Cargo was traveling overland to Iran, Iraq, Anatolia and Europe; by sea, through Egypt and the Mediterranean, to Europe; and from Aden to east Africa.

A slave trade maritime route between the Golden Horde’s ports on the Black Sea and Egypt – run by Muslim, Italian and Byzantine traders – was also in effect. The Black Sea ports transited luxury merchandise arriving overland from the East. And caravans traveled inland from the Indian coast during dangerous monsoon seasons.

This frantic commercial activity was the proto-BRI, which reached its apex in the 1320s and 1330s all the way to the collapse of the Yuan dynasty in 1368 in parallel to the Black Death in Europe and the Middle East. The key point: all the overland and maritime roads were interlinked. 21st century BRI planners benefit from a long historical memory.

“Nothing will fundamentally change”

Now compare this wealth of trade and cultural interchange with the pedestrian, provincial, anti-BRI and overall anti-China paranoia in the US. What we get is the State Dept. under exiting Mike “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Pompeo issuing a paltry diatribe on the “China challenge”. Or the US Navy recommissioning the First Fleet, probably to be based in Perth, to “have an Indo-Pac footprint” and thus maintain “maritime dominance in an era of great power competition”.

More ominously, here is a summary of the humongous, 4,517-page, $740.5 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2021, just approved by the House by 335 to 78 (Trump threatened to veto it).

This is about funding for the Pentagon next year – to be supervised in theory by the new Raytheon General, Lloyd Austin, the last “commanding General” of the US in Iraq who run CENTCOM from 2013 to 2016 and then retired for some juicy revolving door gigs such as the board of Raytheon and crucially, the board of ultra-toxic air, water, soil polluter Nucor.

Austin is a revolving door character who supported the war on Iraq, the destruction of Libya, and supervised the training of Syrian “moderate rebels” – a.k.a. recycled al-Qaeda – who killed countless Syrian civilians.

The NDAA, predictably, is heavy on “tools to deter China”.

That will include:

1. A so-called “Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), code for containment of China in the Indo-Pacific by boosting the Quad.

2. Massive counter-intel operations.

3. An offensive against “debt diplomacy”. That’s nonsense: BRI deals are voluntary, on a win-win basis, and open to renegotiation. Global South nations privilege them because loans are low-interest and long-term.

4. Restructuring global supply chains which lead to the US. Good luck with that. Sanctions on China will remain in place.

5. Across the board pressure forcing nations not to use Huawei 5G.

6. Reinforcing Hong Kong and Taiwan as Trojan Horses to destabilize China.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe has already set the tone: “Beijing intends to dominate the US and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically”. Be afraid, very much afraid of the evil Chinese Communist Party, “the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II”.

There you go: Xi is the new Hitler.

So nothing will fundamentally change after January 2021 – as officially promised by Biden-Harris: it’s gonna be Hybrid War on China all over again, deployed all over the spectrum, as Beijing has perfectly understood.

So what? China’s industrial production will continue to grow while in the US it will continue to decline. There will be more breakthroughs by Chinese scientists such as the photonic quantum computing – which performed 2.6 billion years of computation in 4 minutes. And the 13th century Yuan dynasty spirit will keep inspiring BRI.

Warnings of not responding to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhri محاذير عدم الرد على اغتيال محسن فخري زادة

BY Amro Allan

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2020-12-03_11-29-53_411039.jpg
Writer and political researcher

**Machine translation**

Warnings of not responding to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhri Zadeh

The conclusion that the murder of prominent Iranian physicist Mohsen Fakhri Zadeh is the first result of the Three-Way (Israeli) American-Saudi meeting in the Saudi city of Neom is a reasonable conclusion, especially in light of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s description of this crime as a triple (Israeli), American and Saudi plot.

After this crime it became easier to draw a picture of the plan of the Israeli occupation entity for the current period that separates us from the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. It seems that the Zionist entity, in cooperation with the Gulf governments in addition to the Cover of the American administration of Donald Trump, seems determined to direct several effective security strikes to the Islamic Republic and possibly to others in the axis of resistance also during this period. The Zionist enemy aspires to achieve several objectives from these strikes including: 

–      To deliver malicious tactical strikes that could have an effect on Iran’s missile program and civil nuclear program.

–      To complicate the tracks for a possible quick U.S. return to the Iran nuclear deal after Joe Biden’s administration takes office.

–      To undermine Iran’s prestige and to strike harsh moral blows to the Islamic Republic and to the axis of resistance in general, and in return to give a moral boost to the new Zionist entity allies from the Gulf countries.

–      To present tangible security achievements to the new normalization treaties between some of the Gulf countries and the Zionist entity, to be placed in the hands of the Joe Biden administration as a leverage against the axis of resistance in the event of new talks with the Islamic Republic on the Iran nuclear deal in the future. As CNN international security editor Nick Paton Walsh says “For Biden’s team, Netanyahu is likely a problem to be solved rather than an ally, and this killing suggests in that likely fractious relationship with the new US President that Israel can do useful and aggressive things for the White House. It does not hinder Biden being the good cop, when the bad cop has just shown it can kill one of Iran’s most precious human resources in the secure suburbs of Tehran.”

The last point on the above list is perhaps the most serious of the objectives of the assassination, which forces the Iranian leadership to respond in an appropriate and deterring manner. If the Islamic Republic of Iran shy away from responding to this crime that could send damaging signals that the Islamic Republic is ready to return to the nuclear agreement at all costs, and that the emerging alliance between the Zionist entity and The Gulf countries under Donald Trump is an active alliance on which the United States can rely, and that it can carry out tactical operations that disturb the balances between the axis of resistance and the Zionist-American camp, imposing new facts on which the United States can build on their regional policies.

We do not believe that these calculations are absent from the minds of the leaders of the axis of resistance, and this axis has operational capabilities and tactics on the ground enables it to carry out an equal and deterring response to the assassination of Fakhri Zadeh, in a way that prevents the modification of existing balances or may even improve them in the axis of resistance favor, and in a way that avoids being drawn into open war at the time imposed by the enemy.

محاذير عدم الرد على اغتيال محسن فخري زادة

عمرو علان

كاتب وباحث سياسي

 صحيفة رأي اليوم

يعد الاستنتاج القائل بأن جريمة اغتيال العالم الفيزيائي الإيراني البارز محسن فخري زادة هي أول نتائج الاجتماع الثلاثي (الإسرائيلي) الأمريكي السعودي في مدينة نيوم السعودية استنتاجاً معقولاً، سيما في ضوء وصف الجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران هذه الجريمة بالمؤامرة الثلاثية (الإسرائيلية – الأمريكية – السعودية)، وبعد وقوع هذه الجريمة بات من الأسهل رسم تصور عن مخطط كيان الاحتلال الإسرائيلي للفترة الراهنة التي تفصلنا عن تنصيب الرئيس الأمريكي المنتخب جو بايدن، فيبدو أن الكيان الصهيوني، وبالتعاون مع حلفائه من المتصهينين من حكومات الخليج بالإضافة إلى غطاء أمريكي من إدارة دونالد ترامب، يبدو أنه عازم على توجيه عدة ضربات أمنية مؤثرة للجمهورية الإسلامية وربما إلى جهات أخرى في محور المقاومة أيضاً في هذه الفترة، ويطمح العدو الصهيوني إلى تحقيق عدة أهداف من هذه الضربات منها: 

–         توجيه ضربات تكتيكية مؤذية يكون لها أثار على البرنامجين الصاروخي والنووي الإيرانيين.

–         تعقيد المسارات أمام عودة أمريكية سريعة محتملة إلى الاتفاق النووي الإيراني بعد تسلم إدارة جو بايدن مقاليد الحكم.

–         المساس بالهيبة الإيرانية وتوجيه ضربات معنوية قاسية للجمهورية الإسلامية وإلى محور المقاومة عموماً، وفي المقابل إعطاء دفعة معنوية للحكومات المتصهينة في الخليج.

–         تقديم إنجازات أمنية وميدانية عملية لاتفاقات التطبيع الأخيرة بين الكيان الصهيوني والحكومات المتصهينة في الخليج، ليتم وضعها بين يدي إدارة جو بايدن كأوراق ضغط تُعدِّل في التوازنات ضد مصلحة محور المقاومة في حال دخول إدارة جو بايدن في محادثات جديدة مع الجمهورية الإسلامية حول الاتفاق النووي الإيراني مستقبلاً، وفي هذا الشأن كان نِك واليش محلل قناة (سي أن أن) الأمريكية للشؤون الأمنية قد قال أنه برغم العلاقة المرجح أن تكون مضطربة بين بنجامين نتنياهو والرئيس الأمريكي الجديد، يشير هذا الاغتيال إلى أن (إسرائيل) يمكنها القيام بخطوات عنيفة ومفيدة للبيت الأبيض، وهذه الخطوات لا تمنع بايدن من لعب دور الشرطي الرحيم في الوقت الذي يُظهِر فيه الشرطي العنيف قدرته على قتل أحد أهم القدرات البشرية الإيرانية في أحد ضواحي طهران الأكثر تأميناً.

وربما تعد هذه النقطة الأخيرة الأخطر من بين أهداف جريمة الاغتيال التي تفرض على القيادة الإيرانية الرد بطريقة مناسبة ورادعة، فعزوف الجمهورية الإسلامية عن الرد على هذه الجريمة يبعث بإشارات مضرة مفادها أن الجمهورية الإسلامية مستعدة للعودة إلى الاتفاق النووي بأي ثمن، وأن الحلف الناشئ بين الكيان الصهيوني وبين المتصهينين العرب برعاية دونالد ترامب هو حلف فاعل يمكن للأمريكي الاعتماد عليه، وأنه يمكنه القيام بعمليات تكتيكية تخل بالتوازنات القائمة بين محور المقاومة وبين المعسكر الصهيوأمريكي، مما يفرض وقائع جديدة يمكن أن يبنى عليها في السياسة.

لا نعتقد أن هذه الحسابات غائبة عن ذهن قيادات محور المقاومة، ولدى هذا المحور من القدرات العملانية والتكتيكات الميدانية ما يمكّنه من القيام برد متكافئ ورادع على جريمة اغتيال فخري زادة، بشكل يمنع تعديل التوازنات القائمة أو ربما يحسّنها لصالحه، وبطريقة تتفادى الانجرار إلى حرب مفتوحة في التوقيت الذي يفرضُه عليه العدو.

**Machine translation**

Warnings of not responding to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhri Zadeh

The conclusion that the murder of prominent Iranian physicist Mohsen Fakhri Zadeh is the first result of the Three-Way (Israeli) American-Saudi meeting in the Saudi city of Neom is a reasonable conclusion, especially in light of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s description of this crime as a triple (Israeli), American and Saudi plot.

After this crime it became easier to draw a picture of the plan of the Israeli occupation entity for the current period that separates us from the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. It seems that the Zionist entity, in cooperation with the Gulf governments in addition to the Cover of the American administration of Donald Trump, seems determined to direct several effective security strikes to the Islamic Republic and possibly to others in the axis of resistance also during this period. The Zionist enemy aspires to achieve several objectives from these strikes including: 

–      To deliver malicious tactical strikes that could have an effect on Iran’s missile program and civil nuclear program.

–      To complicate the tracks for a possible quick U.S. return to the Iran nuclear deal after Joe Biden’s administration takes office.

–      To undermine Iran’s prestige and to strike harsh moral blows to the Islamic Republic and to the axis of resistance in general, and in return to give a moral boost to the new Zionist entity allies from the Gulf countries.

–      To present tangible security achievements to the new normalization treaties between some of the Gulf countries and the Zionist entity, to be placed in the hands of the Joe Biden administration as a leverage against the axis of resistance in the event of new talks with the Islamic Republic on the Iran nuclear deal in the future. As CNN international security editor Nick Paton Walsh says “For Biden’s team, Netanyahu is likely a problem to be solved rather than an ally, and this killing suggests in that likely fractious relationship with the new US President that Israel can do useful and aggressive things for the White House. It does not hinder Biden being the good cop, when the bad cop has just shown it can kill one of Iran’s most precious human resources in the secure suburbs of Tehran.”

The last point on the above list is perhaps the most serious of the objectives of the assassination, which forces the Iranian leadership to respond in an appropriate and deterring manner. If the Islamic Republic of Iran shy away from responding to this crime that could send damaging signals that the Islamic Republic is ready to return to the nuclear agreement at all costs, and that the emerging alliance between the Zionist entity and The Gulf countries under Donald Trump is an active alliance on which the United States can rely, and that it can carry out tactical operations that disturb the balances between the axis of resistance and the Zionist-American camp, imposing new facts on which the United States can build on their regional policies.

We do not believe that these calculations are absent from the minds of the leaders of the axis of resistance, and this axis has operational capabilities and tactics on the ground enables it to carry out an equal and deterring response to the assassination of Fakhri Zadeh, in a way that prevents the modification of existing balances or may even improve them in the axis of resistance favor, and in a way that avoids being drawn into open war at the time imposed by the enemy.

Amro Allan

Writer and political researcher

فيديوات مرتبطة

The Trump Administration Barrels on a Warpath Towards Iran

Source

☆ ZENITH NEWS® WILL SHARE OUR MILLIONS OF MONTHLY IMPRESSIONS WITH YOU

December 4, 2020

The assassination of Iran’s preeminent nuclear scientist is a shocking act of terrorism. And there is strong suspicion that Israeli agents were involved in this murderous act with top-level U.S. approval. The world is thus staring into the abyss of war.

This year has been bracketed with two audacious assassinations against the Iranian leadership. Earlier in January saw the murder of Major General Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most senior military commander, by an American drone while he was traveling in an armed convoy from Iraq’s international airport on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Now the year ends with a second assassination after nuclear scientist Mohsen Fahkrizadeh was killed last week when his armed escort was attacked in a ferocious bomb and gun ambush near the Iranian capital, Tehran. Fahkrizadeh, like Soleimani, was a national hero. He was eulogized as the “father of Iran’s nuclear project”.

American President Donald Trump crowed about personally ordering the killing of Soleimani. While Trump and his administration have been reticent about the murder of Fahkrizadeh, there are strong reasons to conclude Washington’s complicity.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani stated this week that Iranian authorities believe Israel was the perpetrator along with agents working on its behalf on the ground. The Israelis have not commented. For such an attack to be mounted against a senior Iranian figure the breach of security would have required sophisticated intelligence conducted at state level.

U.S. media reports cite anonymous senior Trump administration officials confirming that Israel carried out the assassination of Fakhrizadeh. It can be further surmised that Israel would have had at least U.S. approval if not more direct complicity such as from providing the necessary intelligence for executing the hit. Such collusion between the U.S. and Israel is a routine matter. Nearly a dozen Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated over the past decade involving the same modus operandi: U.S.-Israeli intelligence coordinating with Iran-based triggermen supplied by the American-backed terrorist group known as Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK).

This year has also seen a series of sabotage bombings at Iran’s nuclear industry sites. Again, for such operations to be conducted, and conducted successfully, would require state-level intelligence and resources.

All this is in the context of Trump ratcheting up his “maximum pressure” campaign which has comprised a hybrid of verbal threats of military assault against Iran, a tightening of already-crippling economic sanctions imposed on a nation badly afflicted with the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a U.S. military force build-up in the Persian Gulf. Recently, a fleet of nuclear-capable B-52 bombers flew over Israel on the way to Qatar where the biggest American airbase in the Gulf is located, just south of Iran. This week the USS Nimitz, one of America’s lead strike-force supercarriers, entered the Gulf waters.

Only two weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on a more-than-usual jingoistic tour of the Middle East visiting Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Top of his agenda was “deterring” Iran. Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu had previously publicly named Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the Iranian nuclear scientist, as enemy number one.

Netanyahu has long been itching for a military offensive against Iran, one involving surgical air strikes on its nuclear sites. There is now the very real danger that Trump in his final fraught weeks in office may oblige the Israelis. The American president has reportedly given Pompeo carte blanche to aid and abet Israeli aggression towards Iran “as long as it doesn’t start World War III”. Trouble is, there is no way of containing such an escalation. What the Trump administration is doing is criminal and insane.

This week saw a particularly incendiary speech by Trump from the White House in which he again reiterated outlandish conspiracy theories whereby he lost the recent presidential election due to alleged “massive fraud” and cheating by Democrat rivals. Some of Trump’s aides are even urging him publicly to suspend the constitution, declare a state of martial law and re-run the election under military supervision. That is tantamount to Trump staging a coup d’état. There is thus no telling what this megalomaniac president is willing to do in order to thwart the scheduled event of his leaving the White House next month in the expected transition to a new administration under Joe Biden.

At the very least, it seems, Trump is hellbent on damaging relations with Iran so badly as to make it impossible for a Biden administration to return to diplomatic negotiations with Iran and possibly, as Biden as suggested, the U.S. returning to the international nuclear accord, which Trump abandoned in 2018.

Previously, Trump has threatened Iran with annihilation. We are dealing with an American president who has no scruples or moral compass. In his outrageously offended ego over electoral loss and perceived foul play by his domestic enemies, Trump is liable to go ballistic with recrimination. In the next four weeks, starting a war with Iran is therefore a most dangerous prospect. Criminal and insane bracket this year, along with assassinations.

Trump Tells Pompeo: Go Wild on Iran, Just Don’t Risk World War III

Trump Tells Pompeo: Go Wild on Iran, Just Don’t Risk World War III

By Staff, Daily Beast

US President Donald Trump may only have seven weeks left in office, but he’s given his top advisers the green light to batter Iran – anything that doesn’t hazard a full-on war before Joe Biden is inaugurated.

According to multiple US officials familiar with the matter, in recent weeks Trump has taken a more passive role in personally overseeing Iran policy for the critical final months until Inauguration Day. One White House official last week described Trump as mostly “checked out” on this major foreign policy issue, having become consumed by his bumbling legal effort to steal the 2020 election amid the coronavirus pandemic, as well as by other his pet grievances of the moment.

But Trump has given some of his most hawkish administration officials, particularly his top diplomat, Mike Pompeo, carte blanche to squeeze and punish the Islamic Republic as aggressively as they wish in the coming weeks. All Trump asks is that they don’t risk “start[ing] World War III,” as the president has specifically put it in several private conversations with Pompeo and others, according to two senior administration officials.

That has left a host of options at the outgoing administration’s disposal – among them, a suffocating sanctions regime and a studied silence in the face of the assassination of Iranian nationals. Two officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said the administration is set to announce new sanctions on government-linked companies and individuals in the coming weeks to solidify a years-long effort to paralyze Tehran’s economy.

Knowledgeable sources say those actions are designed to help fulfill various Trump officials’ long-brewing desire to make it more difficult for the Democratic president-elect to rekindle negotiations with Tehran and re-enter a nuclear deal. And it’s a scenario for which Biden lieutenants and allies have long prepared, having already factored into their Iran strategy that current US officials would do nearly everything they could to undermine a revival of Obama-era relations between the adversarial nations.

Trump administration officials who spoke to The Daily Beast frequently point to Pompeo and Elliott Abbahrams, special representative for Iran, as the leaders of the administration’s last-ditch attempt at pummeling the regime.

Pompeo has been particularly forward leaning in the administration’s efforts to inflict damage on the Iranian government. In a recent trip to the Middle East, Pompeo met with leaders from the “Israeli” entity, the UAE, and Bahrain on ways all three countries could work together on countering Iran. The trip followed on the heels of an announcement by the State Department that it had recently approved a massive sale of F-35 jets to the UAE. The deal has been widely viewed as a way to get Dubai to cooperate with Tel Aviv on deterring Iran. And on Friday, Pompeo announced additional Iran-related sanctions, this time targeting Chinese and Russian entities for transferring sensitive technology and items to Iran’s missile program.

Both Pompeo and Abrams, officials say, are supportive of harsh measures, including the quiet backing of covert actions carried out by other actors. One other senior administration official pointed to Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel as being intimately involved in the administration’s clandestine strategy as it relates to Iran.

Trump has repeatedly told his advisers that one of his priorities is to avoid a confrontation with Iran in which American military personnel would die. But Trump is comfortable letting the “Israeli” entity take the lead in targeting, or even slaying, Iranian government figures in the closing weeks of his presidency, officials said. That includes Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the country’s top nuclear scientist, who was assassinated on Nov. 27 while traveling in a convoy in the northern part of the country.

Two senior Trump administration officials said the entity was behind the attack, confirming global suspicions. One of those same officials, while they did not detail the level of involvement from the US, noted that America’s intelligence agencies often share information with the “Israeli” entity on Iran-related matters.

“There’s obviously a close working relationship between Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and Haspel,” said Mark Dubowitz, the CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a right leaning think tank that’s advised the Trump administration on Iran.

Some of Trump’s confidants have urged him not to draw too much attention to the killing. The administration has chosen to remain mostly tight-lipped regarding the scientist’s death. A source close to Trump said they had counseled the president in the past few days to avoid gratuitously tweeting about the assassination. Not only would it be a “bad look,” according to this source, it would likely undermine the administration’s public position of keeping the operation at arm’s length, if not farther away.

The two senior administration officials said discussions about taking more active measures to limit Biden’s administration on negotiating a new deal with Iran ramped up this summer and coincided with several of the entity’s covert operations.

“The ‘Israelis’ understand that between now and Jan. 20 they will need to inflict maximum damage on the regime,” Dubowitz said.

The Trump strategy over the next few weeks is clear, one of the senior administration officials said: Continue to use sanctions as a deterrence tool while providing intelligence to regional allies such as Israel that have a mutual goal of damaging the Iranian regime.

That plan isn’t so different from the one the Trump administration has put into action over the past four years. Since Trump took office in 2017, a cohort of top officials, advisers, and external advocacy groups have helped craft and implement a “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran that has relied primarily on the implementation of more than 1,000 sanctions on government-linked officials and companies while also covertly targeting Tehran’s assets overseas.

The only difference now, officials say, is that the administration not only wants to punish Iran, it also wants to pen in President-elect Biden.

Individuals involved in the crafting of the Trump administration’s Iran policy believe the maximum pressure campaign will limit Biden’s ability to get back on track with Tehran, namely because some of the sanctions may be difficult to lift. Dubowitz and Trump administration officials familiar with Iranian sanctions said multinational corporations may be so risk averse to doing business with Iran now, following thousands of financial designations, that even if Biden lifts sanctions they will not engage in normal trade relations with Tehran.

Individuals familiar with Team Biden’s thinking say the president-elect has a clear strategy for dealing with Iran and sanctions come January. That plan rests heavily on Biden’s desire to return back to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA].

“If Iran takes the bait, which is clearly the intention behind [the Farikhzadeh assassination], then it probably makes it impossible to return to the JCPOA and diplomacy,” said Jarrett Blanc, the former coordinator for Iran nuclear implementation in the Obama State Department. “If Iran doesn’t take the bait… I don’t know that it really changes the choices that confront the Biden team or Iran in January.”

Any negotiations between a Biden administration and Iran would include conversations about the lifting of some sanctions, two individuals familiar with the Biden team’s thinking on Iran said. But those sanctions would likely only be lifted if and when Tehran complies with a deal.

“Iran says it is prepared to come back in compliance and reverse some of the decisions it’s made. And the US says it would lift some of the sanctions. [There’s] no legal bar to reverse them. Many of them were imposed for political reasons,” said one former senior Obama administration official. “It’s likely going to be a two-step approach for Biden – getting back in and then perhaps renegotiating a different, better deal.”

Trump is Speeding Up the Creation of an Anti-Iranian Power Bloc

By Vladimir Platov
Source: New Eastern Outlook

In preparation for Joe Biden administration’s possible arrival entering the White House, Donald Trump took additional steps to complete the creation of a regional power bloc with the leading role of Israel and Saudi Arabia under full US control to complicate Biden’s actions in building a new policy in the Middle East. Undoubtedly, the urgency was motivated by leaked information that Joe Biden and his advisers have allegedly already prepared a future nuclear deal with Iran and intend to revise Trump’s previously promoted solution to the Middle East crisis based mainly on Israel.

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With these goals in mind, and also given Riyadh’s previous refusal to establish diplomatic relations with Israel on the instructions of Washington, the way the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain did, preparation was arranged to encourage  with these two Middle Eastern countries pivotal for the US in the region to converge under the auspices of the Trump administration. At the same time, Israel’s fears were actively used in possibly adjusting Joe Biden’s attitude towards the Jewish state’s stance regarding the Palestinian issue and the development of annexed Arab territories. The same goes for the concerns of several Saudi families, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about Biden’s toughening of repression due to the “Khashoggi case”, since the President-elect called Saudi Arabia during the election campaign “an outcast” and promised that he would obstruct the Kingdom’s military campaign in Yemen.

Under these conditions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by Yossi Cohen, current Director of Mossad, the national intelligence agency of Israel, made a secret visit to Saudi Arabia on November 22, where “under the supervision of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo” he met with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Netanyahu and Cohen flew to Saudi Arabia on businessman Ehud Angel’s private jet. The Israeli prime minister had previously used this jet for his secret visit to Oman to prepare the “Abraham Agreement”, which became the basis for the future of the Middle East according to Trump’s patterns, and a number of his other secret trips around the world.

Referring to this meeting, Mike Pompeo, without disclosing the details, indicated in his Twitter account that he had a “constructive” meeting with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. The latter was heavily forced into negotiations with Netanyahu.

According to Kan, Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation, the talks focused on Iran and the new US administration, led by Joe Biden, but no significant agreements have allegedly been reached yet. The Israeli media outlets do not hide that the main reason for the meeting was the consolidation of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the current US administration against Joe Biden’s restoration of Iran’s nuclear deal. They further recognize that Netanyahu’s meeting with bin Salman “brought countries one step closer to establishing official diplomatic relations even before the end of Donald Trump’s term in office.”

The Guardian draws attention to the particular importance of the meeting, emphasizing that it is “an infrequent meeting at a high level between longtime opponents.”

By mutual agreement, the parties agreed not to make the visit public. They behaved cautiously in Riyadh, especially since the Crown Prince’s line regarding rapprochement with Israel does not entirely coincide with his father and family’s line. Earlier, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud warned that the kingdom is ready to establish Israel’s relations in full only after a Palestinian-Israeli peace treaty. Simultaneously, based on Crown Prince bin Salman’s decision to go to such a meeting with Israeli officials, a correction of Riyadh’s position began to be seen. If earlier Saudi Arabia and all Sunni states unambiguously held a pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli position, now new conditions have been created to force Palestinians to agree to the peace process and negotiate with Israel. One definite confirmation of this concept can be, in particular, the recent return to their jobs of the ambassadors of Palestine who were recalled from the UAE and Bahrain after these countries established official relations with Israel.

There are no official statements from the Trump administration yet in avoiding a wave of protest for such actions preventing the White House’s future owner from pursuing an independent policy in the Middle East.

In this regard, it is clear that it is not yet in Riyadh’s interests to make its contacts with the Israelis public, unlike Benjamin Netanyahu. The latter needs bonuses on the internal platform. This meeting was leaked only in Israel, clearly showing Netanyahu’s supporter’s desire, due to recent intensified protests against the Israeli prime minister’s corruption policy, to “boast of his merits” hoping that the steps he has taken will bring the day closer when Tel -Aviv and Riyadh officially establish diplomatic relations. At the same time, the Israeli media are actively promoting the thesis that this secret visit only means the continuation of Israel’s policy of expanding the circle of participants in the Abraham Agreements, which is actively supported by Donald Trump. “This is not an action against Biden. It is about expanding the bloc of Israel-friendly countries in the Middle East. But the emerging pro-American bloc becomes anti-Iranian by definition. Of course, if Biden intends to change the course of the US in the region drastically, it will now be more difficult for him to do so,” said Zvi Magen, the former deputy head of Nativ.

On the night after the said meeting, several Iranian-backed Houthis missiles flew into Saudi Arabia from Yemen. Some social network sources note that the missile strike occurred 5 hours after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, which didn’t exclude negotiations that could have been held on Israel’s use of Saudi airspace for an airstrike on Iranian nuclear facilities at Natanz and Khondab. A particular reason for such fears could be a message, which appeared in Israel Defense, that the United States Central Command (CENTCOM, its area of responsibility in the Middle East) announced transferring a squadron of F-16 fighters from Germany to the United Arab Emirates to contain aggression and ensure security and stability in CENTCOM’s area of responsibility.


Trump on Borrowed Time and Potential Dangers

Trump on Borrowed Time and Potential Dangers

By Ali Abadi, Al-Ahed News

Why are we witnessing the intensification of normalization efforts between Arab regimes and the Zionist entity following the US presidential elections? What options does Donald Trump have during the remainder of his time in office?

Prior to the US elections, it was clear that the goal of the normalization agreements was to boost Trump’s reelection campaign. But the extension of the normalization current beyond the election that Trump lost has other potential objectives:

–    Attracting additional support for Trump in his battle to cling to power by sharpening the capabilities of the Zionist constituencies to support his electoral appeals that don’t have a great chance of success. But Trump has not given up yet in his efforts to reverse the results.

–    Sending important signals to those concerned at home and abroad that Trump still has vigor, as he plans to complete the goals he set and stay on the political scene. If he were to lose the presidency now, he may return in 2024, as those close to him have hinted. In the meantime, he seeks to gain support from the Jewish and Christian Zionist circles as a “man of word and action” in supporting “Israel” absolutely and without hesitation.

With Trump preoccupied with the battle to cling to power at home, his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is abroad – touring as “Israel’s” minister of foreign affairs accompanied by Arab ministers to sign more normalization agreements. He is legalizing “Israeli” settlements and the occupation of the West Bank and the Golan Heights and declaring a move to criminalize the campaign of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). 

It’s worth noting that months before the US elections, Pompeo reportedly had his sights set on the 2024 presidential race. As such, Pompeo, who identifies with Trump’s approach and acts as his obedient supporter, plans to be the natural heir to the Trumpian current in the event that its leader is absent due natural causes like death or unnatural causes such as imprisonment due to his legal issues. 

He is also preparing the groundwork for the birth of an “Israeli”-Arab alliance (Saudi, Bahraini, and Emirati) standing in the face of the Islamic Republic of Iran and adding further complications to any possible return of the Biden administration to the nuclear deal.

Saudi and “Israeli” officials are now speaking in one voice about a “no return” to the nuclear agreement, as they set the conditions and limits that they feel the next American administration should abide by. This is also a reflection of widespread concerns over the failure of Trump’s so-called maximum pressure campaign against Iran. 

This was the background for news reports about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meeting “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saudi territory – a get-together arranged by Pompeo.

The choice for war is in the balance

All of the above are possibilities. But does that give way to expectations for a military adventure against Iran, for example, during the transitional period before Joe Biden takes office on January 20?

No sane person can absolutely deny such a possibility. In this context, news about the US strategic B-52 bomber’s flight to the region, the possibility of supplying US bombs that penetrate fortifications to the Zionist entity, the dismissal of US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and the withdrawal of US units from Iraq and Afghanistan trickled in. 

The last move may be aimed at withdrawing targets near Iran in the event Washington takes military action against Tehran. However, attacking Iran militarily is not an American desire as much as it is an “Israeli” and Saudi one. The Pentagon has previously opposed military action against Iran, at a time when the US military has not recovered from its wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

This view does not appear to have changed, and US military commanders are unlikely to agree to put the military during the transition period on the course of a new war in the Middle East for personal or populist purposes. 

There are other considerations too. The costs of the war and its consequences are difficult to determine. Trump also knows that the mood of the American public can’t bear sacrifices abroad, financially or on a humanitarian level.

What about other possibilities?

Based on Trump’s behavior over the past four years, it appears the US president prefers to score goals and make quick deals. He is not inclined to get involved in prolonged duels. As such, it’s possible to predict that Trump will resort to localized strikes in Syria, Iraq, or Yemen (there is talk about the possibility of placing Ansarullah on the list of terrorist organizations) or cover a possible “Israeli” strike in Lebanon under one pretext or another. 

He could also resort to assassinating figures affiliated with the axis of resistance, and this possibility is more likely, especially in Iraq and Syria. Trump revealed in recent months that he thought about assassinating the Syrian president, and there are also American threats directed at leaders of the resistance factions in Iraq.

In conclusion, any aggressive military action against Iran appears to be a rooted “Israeli” option that Netanyahu tried to market to the Americans since the Obama era but failed. He is trying to strike Iran via the Americans, but Washington has other calculations and options. 

The Saudis have also urged successive US administrations to strike Iran, according to what appeared in WikiLeaks documents quoting the late King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. The window of opportunity for major military action before Trump’s departure appears narrow. He may consider the rapid operations approach followed by similar actions against Iran’s allies to deal a moral blow to Tehran, cut back its regional leadership role, and besiege its growing influence in the power equation with the Zionist entity that is challenging the US hegemony over the region.

However, we should add that the axis of resistance has its own plans for the confrontation. It withstood the maximum pressure and is able to turn any adventure into an opportunity, relying on its vigilance and accumulated capabilities.

Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari’s Statement During the Security Council Session on the Political and Humanitarian Situation in Syria Bashar al-Jaafari at the Security Council 11/25/2020

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on 

Al-Jaafari: countries hostile to Syria, particularly the US and Turkey, support terrorist organizations and separatist militias

25 November، 2020
New York, SANA

Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari, said that countries hostile to Syria, on top of them the US and Turkey, continue their violations of the international law, UN conventions and Security council resolutions relevant to the crisis in Syria through supporting the terrorist organizations, separatist militias and perpetrating crimes against the Syrian people and looting their resources.

“The US occupation and its tools of separatist militias continue their practices aiming at looting the Syrian State resources, furthermore, the US occupation forces have lately excavated the antiquities in Hasaka and stolen large quantities of treasures and gold in the presence of French and Israeli experts at archaeological site in al-Malkiyah city and unearthed 12 historic tombs dating back to the Roman era,” al-Jaafari added in a statement to the UN Security council through video on the situation in Syria.

He added that the stolen priceless antiquities which date back to thousands of years are being smuggled through northern Iraq and Turkey in a preparation for transporting them to other destinations, stressing that these crimes are part of continued ones being perpetrated by the terrorist organization of Daesh with the aim of securing the financial resources for its terrorist acts.

Al-Jaafari reiterated that the political process, facilitated by the UN, is possessed and led by the Syrians and that making the work of the Committee for Discussing the Constitution a success entails respecting its principles being agreed upon, in addition to refusing any external interferences and any attempts by some states to impose timetables, adding that only the Syrian people have the right to determine their destiny.

He also renewed Syria’s condemnation, in the strongest terms, the visit of the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Syrian Golan and the West Bank on Nov 19th, referring that this visit emphasizes the absolute bias of the current US administration until the very end of its mandate to the Israeli occupation Entity.

Regarding the International Conference on the return of Syrian Refugees recently held in Damascus on 11th and 12th of November, al-Jaafari affirmed that it has constituted a significant step to the efforts of Syrian State and its allies to ensure the voluntary, safe and good return of the displaced to their areas and their original residences.

Baraa Ali/ Mazen Eyon

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