إنجازاتُ أسَدِ سورية أقوى من شائعاتٍ محبوكة بعناية غربيّة

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تنهال الشائعات التي تستهدف الدولة السورية في وضعها الداخلي وعلاقاتها مع حلفائها الروس والإيرانيين وحزب الله.

الاهداف هنا واضحة وتركز على الإساءة للتماسك بين المتحالفين الذين صدّوا اوسع هجوم على دول مستقلة منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية. وجرى استخدام الارهاب والجيوش الاردنية والتركية والأميركية والاوروبية والخليجية والاسرائيلية وتسعير التباينات المذهبية والطائفية والعرقية بشكل لم يستبقوا فيه أية وسيلة خارج الاستعمال.

لذلك كان من الطبيعي ان يعززوا من وسائلهم ليعاودوا بخدعة الاعتراف بنجاح محور الدولة السورية وروسيا وإيران وحزب الله في الميادين السورية. انما بمعاودة الانقضاض عليه من زوايا مختلفة.

هنا كان الاعلام هو الوسيلة المفضلة خصوصاً بانتشاره في العالم العربي والاسلامي والغربي.

مع فائدة اضافية للحجر بسبب كورونا التي رفعت من معدلات المتابعة الإعلامية في الليل والنهار.

بذلك بدأ الاعلام المتنوع باطلاق سرديات عن إفلاس الدولة السورية بسبب الانهيار الاقتصادي في لبنان من جهة والحصار الأميركي – الغربي عليها، القابل للازدياد الى حدود خنقها نهائياً من جهة ثانية، خصوصاً أن مجزرة «قانون قيصر» الأميركي للمقاطعة الكاملة مع سورية تبدأ في منتصف حزيران المقبل.

وهكذا بالتدريج انتقلت الشائعات الى إطلاق أخبار عن اندلاع خلافات بين اغنياء من اقرباء الاسد يزعمون ان الدولة تريد الاستيلاء على مؤسسات يمتلكونها وقدرها مليارات عدة، ويلتقطون فيديوهات متتابعة مصورة بالهاتف الجوال على طريقة الواتس آب لرامي مخلوف احد ابرز الاغنياء وقريب للرئيس الاسد وهو يناشده لحمايته من الذين يريدون الاستيلاء على شركاته في دوائر الدولة.

هنا تبدو الحبكة الخبيثة من هذه الشائعات لأن الدولة المفلسة العاجزة عن الوصول الى الاموال الخارجية تأكل نفسها، حسب ما تقوله الخرافات.

هذا ما يجعل الشائعات تكبر وتنمو وتحفر لها امكنة في مخيلات المتابعين وحتى لو تراجع مفعولها، فإنها تعتمد على المثل المصري الذي يقول: «طلقة الرصاص التي لا تصيب تدوش». اي تسبب صخباً وضجيجاً وهذا هو المطلوب.

بالتتابع أيضاً، لمزيد من ترسيخ فكرة إفلاس سورية، اطلقت قوى لبنانية محسوبة على الخط الأميركي الاسرائيلي الخليجي اشاعات عن تهريب بضائع مدعومة من الدولة اللبنانية بمئات ملايين الدولارات الى سورية وان المهربين لبنانيون ينسقون مع اجهزة رسمية سورية وقدموا هذه المعلومة على اساس انها طارئة وطازجة.

ليتبين ان هذا التهريب من الحدود اللبنانية – السورية قديم يرقى الى ثمانية عقود على الأقل وذلك بسبب التداخل الاهلي والاجتماعي بين البلدين اللذين سلخهما المستعمر الفرنسي عن بعضهما بعضاً مفرقاً بين العائلات الواحدة على جانبي الحدود.

هناك ميزة اضافية وهي ان هذه الانواع من التهريب الحدودي موجود بين أميركا والمكسيك ودول أميركا الجنوبية واليمن وجوارها وفي كامل الحدود العالمية بين الدول في اوروبا وافريقيا.

لكن الاستناد الى شائعات عن إفلاس سورية يجعل من أي ترهات قابلة ومناسبة لاجتياز الموانع المنطقية التي يستخدمها العقل.

لذلك ذهب مطلقو شائعات التهريب الى المطالبة بنشر قوات دولية تقفل حدود لبنان مع سورية اليس هذا هو الهدف الكامن من وراء شائعات الإفلاس؟

هذه عينة لما يزاوله الاعلام الذي يستهدف سورية لكن هناك امثال اخرى، على رأسها رامي مخلوف احد اقرباء الرئيس بشار الاسد الذي يحتل صدارة الأخبار عن سورية فيعتبره الاعلام الغربي والخليجي والاسرائيلي والتركي رمز الفساد المرتبط بالدولة، لأنه يمتلك شركات وعقارات وفنادق بعشرات مليارات الدولارات واكثر ويترأس شركة سيرياتيل للاتصالات.

للاشارة فإن اسم مخلوف المتداول في الشرق والغرب اصبح اكثر شهرة من الممثلين العالميين وحتى ممثلات الإغراء.

لم يكتفِ اصحاب الشائعات المتواصلة بهذا الحد فذهبوا لاستغلال العلاقات بين سورية وحلفائها، ناسجين اتفاقات أميركية روسية اسرائيلية تريد إخراج إيران من سورية، وبنوا عليها عشرات بل مئات البرامج والمقالات المدبجة مستندين لأخبار بثتها وكالة انباء روسية خاصة، تبين آنفاً انها مخترقة.

كذلك استفادوا من برامج معادية للدولة السورية أعدها مقدم برامج من اصل عراقي في محطة روسيا اليوم وتبين أيضاً انه بعثي سابقاً ومؤيد لصدام حسين.

لقد جرى استغلاله بعرض مقابلات من إعداده مع رموز سورية معارضة، بينها مناف طلاس إبن قائد كبير في مرحلة الأسد الأب هو العماد مصطفى طلاس.

لذلك ابتدأ الاعلام الغربي يزعم ان رحيل إيران عن سورية مسألة ايام وربما اشهر لأن روسيا تريد هذا الامر اكثر من الأميركيين والاسرائيليين لانها تريد احتكار النفوذ في سورية.

اما الشائعة الرديفة والمواكبة للاولى فهي حديث عن خلاف روسي – سوري، لأن الرئيس بوتين يريد استبدال الاسد باتفاق مع الأميركيين والاتراك ينهي «ازمة سورية» بكاملها.

للمزيد من الإثارة اطلقت الشائعات الإعلامية ايضاً خلافات سورية – إيرانية اصابت حزب الله في بعض المجريات، وزعمت ان القيادة السورية تلقت عرضاً أميركياً غربياً تؤيده «اسرائيل» يقبل ببقاء الاسد في الرئاسة مقابل طرد الإيرانيين وحزب الله من سورية بكاملها وليس مقابل الجولان فقط.

لقد سقطت هذه الشائعات الواحدة تلو الأخرى. ببيان روسي واحد نفى اي تنسيق مع الأميركيين معادٍ لإيران معتبرين انها في سورية بطلب من حكومتها الدستورية الشرعية التي يقودها الرئيس بشار الاسد. فيتبين انه بيان حسن الإعداد اصاب الشائعات الثلاث بحجر واحد، اولاً بنفيه اي خلاف مع الإيرانيين وهذا يعني ضمناً عدم وجود اتفاق مع الأميركيين، معتبراً ان إيران في سورية هو قرار من الدولة السورية بما يؤكد على شرعيتها، فالدولة تطلبها للحضور وتدعوها للانسحاب حسب مصالحها بالتوافق مع الطرف المعني، كما ان البيان بحد ذاته مؤشر واضح على العلاقة العميقة بين بوتين والاسد.

فهل هذا كافٍ لإزالة كامل الاضرار التي تسببت بها الشائعات؟ بالطبع لا لانها مستمرة بعرض مقاطع مصورة لمخلوف وربما تستحضر مقاطع اخرى لنجوم فساد آخرين مؤيدين من الغرب وتطالبهم الدولة السورية بضرائب متأخرة لم يدفعوها وذلك بتوزيع رشى على الفاسدين في تلك المصالح مستغلين علاقات لهم مع بعض السياسيين في الدولة.

للتنبيه هنا، فإن الدولة السورية التي ليس عليها ديون للخارج ليست أكثر إفلاساً من مجمل بلدان المنظومة العربية وهي الأقل فساداً بينهم على الرغم من الحصار الكامل المفروض عليها من المحور الأميركي الاسرائيلي السعودي.

قد يبدو مطلوباً وجود اعلام عربي متخصص بعرض بالتعاون مع اعلام دولي صديق حقائق عن مدى الفساد السياسي في الدول العربية التي أصبح سلوكها علنياً فيما النزاهة اصبحت غير قابلة للتطبيق الا خلسة.

بالنتيجة فإن تراجع الضغط العسكري عن الدولة السورية يمنحها فرصة استعادة حقوقها من مفسدين نهبوا السوريين ويتغطون اليوم بالأميركيين وحلفائهم، وهذا لن يفيدهم لأن الاسد هزم هؤلاء في معارك بدأت منذ خمس سنوات وتتواصل مع القضاء على الفساد الداخلي.

China updates its ‘Art of (Hybrid) War’

China updates its ‘Art of (Hybrid) War’

May 19, 2020

by Pepe Escobar – posted with permission

Chinese General Qiao Liang argues, ‘If we have to dance with the wolves, we should not dance to the rhythm of the United States’

A Chinese anti-US propaganda poster from the Korean War era. Photo: Facebook

In 1999, Qiao Liang, then a senior air force colonel in the People’s Liberation Army, and Wang Xiangsui, another senior colonel, caused a tremendous uproar with the publication of Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America.

Unrestricted Warfare was essentially the PLA’s manual for asymmetric warfare: an updating of Sun Tzu’s Art of War. At the time of original publication, with China still a long way from its current geopolitical and geo-economic clout, the book was conceived as laying out a defensive approach, far from the sensationalist “destroy America” added to the title for US publication in 2004.

Now the book is available in a new edition and Qiao Liang, as a retired general and director of the Council for Research on National Security, has resurfaced in a quite revealing interview originally published in the current edition of the Hong Kong-based magazine Zijing (Bauhinia).

General Qiao is not a Politburo member entitled to dictate official policy. But some analysts I talked with agree that the key points he makes in a personal capacity are quite revealing of PLA thinking. Let’s review some of the highlights.

Dancing with wolves

The bulk of his argument concentrates on the shortcomings of US manufacturing: “How can the US today want to wage war against the biggest manufacturing power in the world while its own industry is hollowed out?”An example, referring to Covid-19, is the capacity to produce ventilators: “Out of over 1,400 pieces necessary for a ventilator, over 1,100 must be produced in China, including final assembly. That’s the US problem today. They have state of the art technology, but not the methods and production capacity. So they have to rely on Chinese production.”

General Qiao dismisses the possibility that Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India and other Asian nations may replace China’s cheap workforce: “Think about which of these countries has more skilled workers than China. What quantity of medium and high level human resources was produced in China in these past 30 years? Which country is educating over 100 million students at secondary and university levels? The energy of all these people is still far from being liberated for China’s economic development.”

He acknowledges US military power even in times of epidemic and economic difficulties is always capable of “interfering directly or indirectly in the Taiwan straits question” and finding an excuse to “block and sanction China and exclude it from the West.” He adds that, “as a producing country, we still cannot satisfy our manufacturing industry with our own resources and rely on our own markets to consume our products.”

In consequence, he argues, it’s a “good thing” for China to engage in the cause of reunification, “but it’s always a bad thing if it’s done at the wrong time. We can only act at the right time. We cannot allow our generation to commit the sin of interrupting the process of the Chinese nation’s renaissance.”

General Qiao counsels, “Don’t think that only territorial sovereignty is linked to the fundamental interests of a nation. Other kinds of sovereignty – economic, financial, defense, food, resources, biological and cultural sovereignty – are all linked to the interests and survival of nations and are components of national sovereignty.”

To arrest movement toward Taiwan’s independence, “apart from war, other options must be taken into consideration. We can think about the means to act in the immense gray zone between war and peace, and we can even think about more particular means, like launching military operations that will not lead to war, but may involve a moderate use of force.”

In a graphic formulation, General Qiao thinks that, “if we have to dance with the wolves, we should not dance to the rhythm of the US. We should have our own rhythm, and even try to break their rhythm, to minimize its influence. If American power is brandishing its stick, it’s because it has fallen into a trap.”

In a nutshell, for General Qiao, “China first of all must show proof of strategic determination to solve the Taiwan question, and then strategic patience. Of course, the premise is that we should develop and maintain our strategic force to solve the Taiwan question by force at any moment.”

Gloves are off

Now compare General Qiao’s analysis with the by now obvious geopolitical and geo-economic fact that Beijing will respond tit for tat to any hybrid war tactics deployed by the United States government. The gloves are definitely off.

The gold standard expression has come in a no-holds barred Global Times editorial: “We must be clear that coping with US suppression will be the key focus of China’s national strategy. We should enhance cooperation with most countries. The US is expected to contain China’s international front lines, and we must knock out this US plot and make China-US rivalry a process of US self-isolation.”

An inevitable corollary is that the all-out offensive to cripple Huawei will be counterpunched in kind, targeting Apple, Qualcom, Cisco and Boeing, even including  “investigations or suspensions of their right to do business in China.”

So for all practical purposes, Beijing has now publicly unveiled its strategy to counteract US President Donald Trump’s “We could cut off the whole relationship” kind of assertions.

A toxic racism-meets-anti-communism matrix is responsible for the predominant anti-Chinese sentiment across the US, encompassing at least 66% of the whole population. Trump instinctively seized it – and repackaged it as his re-election campaign theme, fully approved by Steve Bannon.

The strategic objective is to go after China across the full spectrum. The tactical objective is to forge an anti-China front across the West: another instance of encirclement, hybrid war-style, focused on economic war.

This will imply a concerted offensive, trying to enforce embargoes and trying to block regional markets to Chinese companies. Lawfare will be the norm. Even freezing Chinese assets in the US is not a far-fetched proposition anymore.

Every possible Silk Road branch-out – on the energy front, ports, the Health Silk Road, digital interconnection – will be strategically targeted. Those who were dreaming that Covid-19 could be the ideal pretext for a new Yalta – uniting Trump, Xi and Putin – may rest in peace.

“Containment” will go into overdrive. A neat example is Admiral Philip Davidson – head of the Indo-Pacific Command – asking for $20 billion for a “robust military cordon” from California to Japan and down the Pacific Rim, complete with “highly survivable, precision-strike networks” along the Pacific Rim and “forward-based, rotational joint forces” to counteract the “renewed threat we face from great power competition.”

Davidson argues that, “without a valid and convincing conventional deterrent, China and Russia will be emboldened to take action in the region to supplant US interests.”

Watch People’s Congress

From the point of view of large swathes of the Global South, the current, extremely dangerous incandescence, or New Cold War, is mostly interpreted as the progressive ending of the Western coalition’s hegemony over the whole planet.

Still, scores of nations are being asked, bluntly, by the hegemon to position themselves once again in a “you’re with us or against us” global war on terror imperative.

At the annual session of the National People’s Congress, starting this Friday, we will see how China will be dealing with its top priority: to reorganize domestically after the pandemic.

For the first time in 35 years, Beijing will be forced to relinquish its economic growth targets. This also means that the objective of doubling GDP and per capita income by 2020 compared with 2010 will also be postponed.

What we should expect is absolute emphasis on domestic spending – and social stability – over a struggle to become a global leader, even if that’s not totally overlooked.

After all, President Xi Jinping made it clear earlier this week that a “Covid-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available,” won’t be subjected to Big Pharma logic, but “will be made a global public good. This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.” The Global South is paying attention.

Internally, Beijing will boost support for state-owned enterprises that are strong in innovation and risk-taking. China always defies predictions by Western “experts.” For instance, exports rose 3.5% in April, when the experts were forecasting a decline of 15.7%. The trade surplus was $45.3 billion, when experts were forecasting only $6.3 billion.

Beijing seems to identify clearly the extending gap between a West, especially the US, that’s plunging into de facto New Great Depression territory with a China that’s about to rekindle economic growth. The center of gravity of global economic power keeps moving, inexorably, toward Asia.

Hybrid war? Bring it on.

OPCW’s Own Scientists Say OPCW Is Now Just a U.S.-Propaganda Agency

OPCW’s Own Scientists Say OPCW Is Now Just a U.S.-Propaganda Agency

April 29, 2020

by Eric Zuesse for the Saker Blog

The formerly respected global authority on whether or not a chemical-weapons attack has occurred, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, has now so continuously ignored its own hired expert investigators, so that in an April 28th news-report, at “The Gray Zone” investigative-news site, anonymous “OPCW Insiders” have issued a public statement saying that:

A number of impartial and principled professionals no longer wish to be associated with the politically motivated reports being issued by the OPCW FFM  [Fact-Finding Mission] and now the IIT [Investigation and Identification Team]. Many consider this work and these reports to be procedurally and scientifically flawed. Some of us believe they should not be seen as representing the work of OPCW inspectors at all.

The recent publication of the IIT report into alleged chemical attacks at Ltamenah [in Syria — a country whose non-sectarian Government the U.S. regime has been trying since 2009 to overthrow and replace by a fundamentalist-Sunni government that would be controlled by the Saudson March 24, 25 and 30 2017, has highlighted again the misuse of the OPCW by influential state parties to further their political and foreign affairs objectives.

The news-reports that are listed below provide the essential background to this, indicating that the “influential state parties” which are being referred-to are the U.S. and its allied regimes (such as UK).

If the quoted statement is, in fact, a leak by “OPCW Insiders,” as “The Gray Zone” alleges, then it’s yet another nail in the coffin of the OPCW’s international credibility. Coming after a lengthy string of such OPCW scandals as are documented in the below-listed articles, all international funding organizations will then cancel their commitments to OPCW, except for organizations that represent the U.S. regime; and, then, the only international organizations that will continue to publicize the ‘findings’ from the OPCW will be organizations that themselves are agencies of the U.S. regime.

In that case, of course, no national delegations to the United Nations, except ones that represent regimes which themselves likewise front for (are vassals of) the U.S. regime, will continue to cite OPCW ‘findings’, in any other way than to deny the credibility of OPCW reports.

The background on all of this, including an explanation of what the main objectives of the U.S. regime are in Syria — what the purposes of this OPCW propaganda against Syria’s Government are — is provided here.

And, now, following, are the news-reports that describe the events building up to the “OPCW Insiders” statement, that “Some of us believe they should not be seen as representing the work of OPCW inspectors at all” (these events will be listed starting with the latest, and working backwards in time, to the earliest):

“As an employee of the OPCW I was horrified” 12 March 2020

“Deluge Of New Leaks Further Shreds The Establishment Syria Narrative” 15 December 2019

“Fresh Evidence that UN Watchdog Suppressed Evidence Casting Doubt on Assad Gas Attack” 15 December 2019

“New WikiLeaks Bombshell: 20 Inspectors Dissent From Syria Chemical Attack Narrative” 14 December 2019

“Newsweek reporter resigns after accusing outlet of SUPPRESSING story about OPCW leak that undermines Syria ‘gas attack’ narrative” 8 December 2019

“Second whistleblower exposes cover-up at OPCW & Syria chemical weapons report (Video)” 16 November 2019

“SUPPRESSED OPCW FINDING: War-Crime Likely Perpetrated by U.S. Against Syria on 14 April 2018 (Update)” 19 May 2019

“A memo from a member of the OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) in Douma to the OPCW Director General Fernando Arais” 14 March 2019

“Douma Videos and Photos” 24 April 2018

“Did Al Qaeda Dupe Trump on Syrian Attack?” 9 November 2017

“The Trumped-Up Syria-Sarin Case” 4 November 2017

“UN On Khan Sheikhoun – Victims Hospitalized BEFORE Claimed Incident Happened” 29 October 2017

“The Red Line and the Rat Line: Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels” 17 April 2014

“Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus Nerve Agent Attack of August 21, 2013” 14 January 2014

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

US Launches Campaign to Accuse Syria of Inability to Curtail Coronavirus, Claims Syrian-Russian Joint Statement

By Sputnik

Source

The Nation 22 April 2020

The United States has launched a propaganda campaign by accusing Damascus of its inability to effectively combat the spread of COVID-19 in Syria, the Russian and Syrian coordination centres said in a joint statement

According to the statement, the United States has influenced the development of a UN plan for sending a humanitarian medical mission to the camp.

“We believe that the document proposed by the UN was developed under the influence of the United States that had launched a propaganda campaign to accuse Damascus of its inability to effectively counter the spread of coronavirus in the [Syrian Arab] Republic. Obviously, the delivery of humanitarian aid to the [Rukban] camp is necessary for the US solely to achieve its goals..” the statement said.

According to the statement, the reception centre for people in the Al-Waha region is equipped with everything necessary to organise quarantine for Rukban residents before they are transported to temporary accommodation centres in the province of Homs.

Moreover, given the critical humanitarian situation in the Rukban refugee camp, and in order to study the real situation with the spread of COVID-19 there, the Syrian Foreign Ministry sent an official request to the UN to conduct an evaluation of medical mission in the camp.

Russia Blames OPCW for Sacrificing Reputation for West’s Ambition in Syria

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has sacrificed its reputation to serve the West’s geopolitical ambition in Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

“The OPCW reputation as an authoritative expert body in the field of chemical disarmament has actually been sacrificed to the Middle East geopolitical ambitions of a small group of countries”, the Russian ministry said in a statement.

It argued that the investigative body had been set up in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Only the UN Security Council has the right to apportion blame for chemical attacks.

“[The] activity of this quasi-prosecutor structure, which is dominated by representatives of Western countries, encroaches on the exclusive powers of the UN Security Council and is aimed at the solution of odious political tasks to discredit legally elected authorities of Syria”, it said.

The Truth About Syria: A Manufactured War Against An Independent Country

Russia sees the decisions to create the investigative team and fund it with money from the OPCW’s regular budget as illegitimate, the ministry said. It refuses to cooperate with the investigators or finance their activities.

The OPCW published the first report of its newly created investigation and identification team two weeks ago, blaming the 2017 chemical attacks in the Syrian town of Al Lataminah on the country’s government, which denied ever using chemical weapons.

Syrian Ceasefire Guarantors to Hold Ministerial Meeting Via Video Conference on Wednesday

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will discuss the latest developments in Syria in an online meeting with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts, Mevlut Cavusoglu and Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova confirmed that the sides would hold the meeting in the Astana format.

The previous summit in this format was held in December when the three Syrian ceasefire guarantors reaffirmed the importance of preserving the country’s sovereignty and the implementation of the 1998 Adana agreement between Turkey and Syria, which allows Turkish troops to temporarily enter Syria as far as 5 kilometres (3 miles) to fight the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Another meeting in the Astana format was scheduled to be held in Iran in March, but it was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Zarif met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Monday and informed him that the trilateral talks would focus on Syria’s Constitutional Committee and the situation in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said that tensions in Idlib were again on the rise, accusing the Syrian government of being behind it and warning of a potential military response to the developments.

The Syrian Constitutional Committee is a product of long-standing efforts by international mediators to reconcile the Syrian government and opposition. The 150-member body with equal representation of the government, opposition, and civil society was launched on 30 October to work toward drafting a new constitution.

The committee failed to reach a mutually beneficial solution to the Syrian crisis during the two sessions convened so far due to disagreements between various factions. A third round of talks is currently being planned.

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New York Times: “Putin has destroyed the US science and medicine” (Ruslan Ostashko)

New York Times: “Putin has destroyed the US science and medicine” (Ruslan Ostashko)

Source

April 19, 2020

Translated and subtitled by Eugenia Gurevich. Translator’s notes: Translator’s notes:

(1) “liberoid” opposition – Ruslan mockingly refers to the Russian liberal opposition, which is anything but liberal;

(2) “Sumerians” – this is a mocking reference to the Ukrainians; some Ukrainian “historians” claim that the Ukrainian “civilization” is as ancient as the Sumerian;

(3) Shaman coming to chase off Putin – a reference to a bizarre situation last year when a medicine-man (or shaman) from Yakutia decided to walk to Moscow to “perform a ceremony to chase off Putin”;

(4) Sobol – Lubov Sobol, an associate of Alexei Navalny, a figure in the Russian “opposition” beloved by the West. Sobol is notorious because of a number of scandals she created.

الحرب الناعمة بين أميركا والصين ستزداد نعومة

ناصر قنديل

خلال عام ما قبل كورونا كانت العلاقة بين الصين وأميركا قد تحوّلت إلى القضية الأولى على الساحة الدولية، رغم تقدّم المواجهة الإيرانية الأميركية إلى الواجهة، فما أعلنه الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب عن الصين كعدو مرات عديدة، وما أعلنه عن نيات تقليم أظافر الصين اقتصادياً، وربطه مستقبل خطته للنهوض بالاقتصاد الأميركيّ بنتائج المواجهة مع الصين والسعي لترويضها وتقييدها، كلها كانت إشارات كافية لاعتبار المواجهة مع الصين المحرّك الحاكم للسياسات الأميركية، والنظر لمصادر القوة السياسية والعسكرية لروسيا، وللحضور المزعج والمربك الذي تمثله إيران، بصفتها عناصر ارتكاز يمكن للصين الاعتماد عليها في تثبيت خطها الصاعد اقتصادياً على المستوى العالمي.

شكلت أزمة كورونا ساحة من ساحات الاشتباك الحاسمة بين بكين وواشنطن، على مستويات عدة، ففي البدايات كانت فرصة واشنطن للتنمّر على بكين، والتشفي بتفشّي الفيروس، واعتباره علامة من علامات التخلف الصيني، الذي قام على تمويل الإنتاجات العملاقة وأهمل مسؤوليات الدولة في قطاعات البيئة والصحة، كما قالت كل التعليقات الأميركية. وفي مرحلة ثانية عندما بدأ الفيروس يتفشى أوروبياً ولاحقاً أميركياً، انقلب السحر على الساحر، فظهر الغرب كله مكشوفاً بلا نظام صحيّ وبلا تجهيزات وبلا استعدادات، وظهرت شركات الأدوية والمختبرات كمجرد مضاربين في البورصة، فيما كانت الصين تسلك طريق التعافي، وتتقدم بنموذج السيطرة على الفيروس الذي لا يزال يهيمن على الحياة الأوروبية والأميركية، فسُجّل لها عالمياً ربح الجولة الأولى من الحرب الناعمة التي أطلقها كورونا بالضربة القاضية.

في الجولة الثانية حاول الأميركيون ومعهم بريطانيا وضع الصين في وضع المشتبه به كمسؤول عن توريط البشرية بالوباء، بتهمة عدم تقديم الإنذار المبكر، وعندما لم تستجب منظمة الصحة العالمية لطلبات أميركية باتهام الصين فتح الرئيس الأميركي النار على المنظمة، وكاد ترامب يصنفها منظمة إرهابية، فيما كانت مواجهة من نوع آخر تدور على جبهتين، الأولى جبهة تقديم الدعم للدول الأوروبية، التي خسرتها أميركا أمام الصين، والثانية جبهة توريد المعدات والتجهيزات، التي اضطر الأميركيون للانحناء فيها أمام حاجتهم للاستيراد من الصين في ظل النقص الهائل الذي عانت منه مؤسساتهم الطبية، وربح الصينيون الجولة الثانية بالنقاط.

تبدأ الجولة الثالثة تحت عنواني، سباق تصنيع اللقاح والأدوية، والقدرة على التأقلم وفتح الباب لإطلاق الدورة الاقتصادية، حيث يجهد الطرفان لإثبات التفوق في المجالين، وتبدو واشنطن منهكة القوى تقف أمام استحقاقات تبث القلق في أوساط المعنيين الأميركيين كإعلان ترامب عزمه إطلاق الحياة الاقتصادية مطلع الشهر المقبل، فيما الأرقام المرعبة تتوالى حول الإصابات والوفيات والنقص المتواصل في تلبية الاحتياجات، بينما تبدو الصين تسير بخطى ثابتة في خطتها على المسارين، فتبدأ خطوات تدريجية على طريق استعادة الحياة الطبيعية خلال شهور، وتعلن تطوير لقاحات وبدء الاختبارات حولها.

ما فعله كورونا ليس تغيير الاتجاه في احتساب عناصر التفوق والتقدم عالمياً، بل كشف المستور عن مفهوم الدولة العميقة ومدى تماسك بناها وصلابتها وحجم قدرتها على تلقي الضربات، وحجم استثمارها على البنى اللازمة للتعامل مع المفاجآت، ودرجة تماسك مؤسساتها وانسجامها في تلبية ما تستدعيه الكوارث من جهوزيّة، لهذا يصعب أن تنجح البروباغندا الأميركية في محو نتائج الوقائع الصينية، فيما أميركا تدخل هذه الجولة بلا أنياب، وتحتاج أن تخوضها بنعومة أكثر، تلبية للحاجة المصلحية التي لا تقاوم، فسوق الدواء العالمي بنسبة 90% هو صيني لمن لا يعلمون، وبعد تراجع أسعار النفط ملأت الصين مخزونها لسنة مقبلة واشترت بأسعار اليوم ما ستحتاجه لملء مخزوناتها مرة أخرى.

الحرب الناعمة بين أميركا والصين ستزداد نعومة

ناصر قنديل

خلال عام ما قبل كورونا كانت العلاقة بين الصين وأميركا قد تحوّلت إلى القضية الأولى على الساحة الدولية، رغم تقدّم المواجهة الإيرانية الأميركية إلى الواجهة، فما أعلنه الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب عن الصين كعدو مرات عديدة، وما أعلنه عن نيات تقليم أظافر الصين اقتصادياً، وربطه مستقبل خطته للنهوض بالاقتصاد الأميركيّ بنتائج المواجهة مع الصين والسعي لترويضها وتقييدها، كلها كانت إشارات كافية لاعتبار المواجهة مع الصين المحرّك الحاكم للسياسات الأميركية، والنظر لمصادر القوة السياسية والعسكرية لروسيا، وللحضور المزعج والمربك الذي تمثله إيران، بصفتها عناصر ارتكاز يمكن للصين الاعتماد عليها في تثبيت خطها الصاعد اقتصادياً على المستوى العالمي.

شكلت أزمة كورونا ساحة من ساحات الاشتباك الحاسمة بين بكين وواشنطن، على مستويات عدة، ففي البدايات كانت فرصة واشنطن للتنمّر على بكين، والتشفي بتفشّي الفيروس، واعتباره علامة من علامات التخلف الصيني، الذي قام على تمويل الإنتاجات العملاقة وأهمل مسؤوليات الدولة في قطاعات البيئة والصحة، كما قالت كل التعليقات الأميركية. وفي مرحلة ثانية عندما بدأ الفيروس يتفشى أوروبياً ولاحقاً أميركياً، انقلب السحر على الساحر، فظهر الغرب كله مكشوفاً بلا نظام صحيّ وبلا تجهيزات وبلا استعدادات، وظهرت شركات الأدوية والمختبرات كمجرد مضاربين في البورصة، فيما كانت الصين تسلك طريق التعافي، وتتقدم بنموذج السيطرة على الفيروس الذي لا يزال يهيمن على الحياة الأوروبية والأميركية، فسُجّل لها عالمياً ربح الجولة الأولى من الحرب الناعمة التي أطلقها كورونا بالضربة القاضية.

في الجولة الثانية حاول الأميركيون ومعهم بريطانيا وضع الصين في وضع المشتبه به كمسؤول عن توريط البشرية بالوباء، بتهمة عدم تقديم الإنذار المبكر، وعندما لم تستجب منظمة الصحة العالمية لطلبات أميركية باتهام الصين فتح الرئيس الأميركي النار على المنظمة، وكاد ترامب يصنفها منظمة إرهابية، فيما كانت مواجهة من نوع آخر تدور على جبهتين، الأولى جبهة تقديم الدعم للدول الأوروبية، التي خسرتها أميركا أمام الصين، والثانية جبهة توريد المعدات والتجهيزات، التي اضطر الأميركيون للانحناء فيها أمام حاجتهم للاستيراد من الصين في ظل النقص الهائل الذي عانت منه مؤسساتهم الطبية، وربح الصينيون الجولة الثانية بالنقاط.

تبدأ الجولة الثالثة تحت عنواني، سباق تصنيع اللقاح والأدوية، والقدرة على التأقلم وفتح الباب لإطلاق الدورة الاقتصادية، حيث يجهد الطرفان لإثبات التفوق في المجالين، وتبدو واشنطن منهكة القوى تقف أمام استحقاقات تبث القلق في أوساط المعنيين الأميركيين كإعلان ترامب عزمه إطلاق الحياة الاقتصادية مطلع الشهر المقبل، فيما الأرقام المرعبة تتوالى حول الإصابات والوفيات والنقص المتواصل في تلبية الاحتياجات، بينما تبدو الصين تسير بخطى ثابتة في خطتها على المسارين، فتبدأ خطوات تدريجية على طريق استعادة الحياة الطبيعية خلال شهور، وتعلن تطوير لقاحات وبدء الاختبارات حولها.

ما فعله كورونا ليس تغيير الاتجاه في احتساب عناصر التفوق والتقدم عالمياً، بل كشف المستور عن مفهوم الدولة العميقة ومدى تماسك بناها وصلابتها وحجم قدرتها على تلقي الضربات، وحجم استثمارها على البنى اللازمة للتعامل مع المفاجآت، ودرجة تماسك مؤسساتها وانسجامها في تلبية ما تستدعيه الكوارث من جهوزيّة، لهذا يصعب أن تنجح البروباغندا الأميركية في محو نتائج الوقائع الصينية، فيما أميركا تدخل هذه الجولة بلا أنياب، وتحتاج أن تخوضها بنعومة أكثر، تلبية للحاجة المصلحية التي لا تقاوم، فسوق الدواء العالمي بنسبة 90% هو صيني لمن لا يعلمون، وبعد تراجع أسعار النفط ملأت الصين مخزونها لسنة مقبلة واشترت بأسعار اليوم ما ستحتاجه لملء مخزوناتها مرة أخرى.

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution

March 31, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution

By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

While the concept of class warfare is verboten and greeted with expressions of bewilderment and fear in the West, at least now everyone is familiar with the 99% versus the 1%. However, this is really too facile an analysis.

It would be more accurate to talk of the “not-so-talented, toadying” 10% versus the 90%. But while this can prove quite accurate for neo-imperial clients, a genuine rise of the middle class in the West renders it less accurate than this distinction:

Today’s “proletariat” is Mao’s “property-less class”. This is easily understood – the propertied class has lives which are more stable by orders of magnitude.

I am a socialist and I want property – this is not a contradiction. In fact, the lack of property is making me crazy – fortunately, it turns out that I am not alone.

In my 2019 book Ending Western Propaganda on Red China (Part 5: The Cultural Revolution’s solving of the urban-rural divide) I relayed a fascinating transnational study which found that Paris and London had the highest rates of social psychosis; more importantly, they concluded that owning your home – or not – was found to be the single biggest predictor of mental and emotional stability.

Of course: being forced to hand over one-third of our pay checks every month to a rich, two-home owning landlord (which he or she probably just inherited from their parents) is a huge stress. I estimate my current landlord has received about €130,000 of my money over the past 8 years.

All that sweat of mine down the drain simply because I need a roof to live yet I can’t possibly qualify for a loan in Paris, where last year the real estate crossed the €10,000 per square meter mark.

As I summed up: “‘Bread, peace, land’ can be translated to ‘Bread, peace, a decent apartment’ in modern times. But it’s not only China and not only Maoism which has solved this issue, proven by their 90% home ownership rate: 80% of Cubans own their own home and thus pay no rent or mortgage.”

Please believe me: when I think about all that money in my landlord’s pocket I get pretty stressed, to put it mildly. I’m not edging into social psychosis, but the recalcitrant capitalists will probably want me locked up for making the following demand/social service announcement.

Now is the time for the landlord class to show who they are as individuals

Across the world there has been an incredible overreaction to the Corona crisis – in my estimation – as the global economy is shutting down. Places like the US, India and many other areas simply do not have the social safety net to accommodate such a move… but they have done it anyway.

Landlords across the world must do the following:

  • Talk to their renters to gauge their economic situation.
  • Admit that a poor economic outlook for their renters is an undeserved injustice.
  • Admit that their renters must be aided, and that landlords have already profited enough.
  • Waive this month’s rent – and perhaps for months to come. Give some profits back.
  • Or, at the VERY LEAST: reduce rent charges in order to only cover the landlord’s monthly mortgage payment on the property/property taxes/building assessments, etc.
  • If their renter has a good economic situation, landlords must donate their rent-profits to charity, because they have already profited enough and their nation almost certainly does not have the social safety net to take care of other poor renters.

This is all simple justice, and it is in the hands of individual landlords to do so.

I am not asking landlords to ruin their credit rating by refusing to pay the mortgage on their properties (though they should demand such an agreement with their lending bank, in order to force banks to consent to widespread debt furloughs), merely to forego gaining profits on their properties.

Can they not afford do that for one month? Perhaps three?

Of course they can.

If they cannot, then they have proven themselves to be the true “(rent) welfare queens”, because they must be living such unaffordable, extravagant lifestyles; they have proven themselves to be as bad as the most ruthless venture capitalist and job-moving globalist; they have proven themselves to be traitors.

Is traitor too harsh a word?

No – failure to do so means that your landlord is only looking out for himself and his nuclear family, so of course he has necessarily betrayed every other larger group: neighborhood, town, metro area, province, region, nation and earthlings. Furthermore, there is constant public and media shaming of “welfare queens”, poor people and non-college educated workers. Have you ever read somebody calling out the landlord class like this? Not in any Mainstream Media and probably not even in Anglophone world, where the landed petit-entrepreneur is supposed to be the rightly-guided class of moral heroes.

This is the best I can do: if not “traitors”, then “deserters”. Feel better?

Won’t do it? Then fear the revolution

Last spring I wrote an 8-part series about China’s Cultural Revolution precisely because I witnessed that France’s Yellow Vests were essentially demanding a French Cultural Revolution: a near-total shutdown of society in order to have huge discussions about their society’s most contentious socioeconomic and cultural issues and their current trajectories. Of course, such trajectories are quite, quite unpopular, and this was before the Great Recession threatened to turn into the Great Depression 2.

The West has now shut down, but still appear far from joining China and Iran as the only two nations with state-protected Cultural Revolutions. However, the horrendous economic impact – which will create such widespread poverty, unemployment, homelessness and death precisely because they do not have the big government of socialist-inspired nations like China, Iran, Cuba and others – seems certain to eventually push the entire world towards the leftism and cooperation of socialism rather than the continued greed, selfishness and competition of “capitalism with Western characteristics”.

From the the very beginning of China’s Cultural Revolution landlords were openly vilified, along with the “four olds”, unrepentant capitalists and known-to-be-corrupt party members. The bad ones were paraded around in dunce caps, or sent to (finally) work for a living instead of living off of parasitic rent-seeking, and – if we listen to balanced Chinese sources and not Western ones – abused physically pretty rarely for an event I refer to as the “Chinese Socialist Civil War” (here, Red Guards ain’t all red: Who fought whom in China’s Cultural Revolution?).

So landlords can either double down and grab as much cash as they can, or when the Cultural Revolution comes to their town people can testify that during this crisis they were true human patriots. It’s an individual choice landlords must make now, and they may not ever be judged harshly by their society for their choices… but they might be. Asian societies know this: Fear and shame are perfectly acceptable motivations for good deeds, after all – but why not just go socialist?

For the people reading this in huge housing developments with corporations for landlords, there are easy ways to resist:

  • Organise on a building-by-building level to refuse collectively to pay your rent as normal, or at least to collectively demand some reduction.
  • Follow the Chinese, if only because what they did worked: outside your buildings put up dàzìbào, or big-character reports/posters to publicly shame your corporate landlords.
  • Contact your local newspaper media and insist they cover your actions against unfair landlords.
  • If your local media won’t side with the People, then resort to social media. Social media can be quite effective, but it is easily overestimated – apply pressure on your local journalists and publishers.
  • The youth class has had it bad enough since 2008, eh? The average age of the Yellow Vests is, in my estimation, 50 years old because, in my estimation, people that age and older have comparatively little to lose. So be an elder leader and risk your credit score, blacklisting, harassing phone class from bill collectors, etc., so the youth can resist in other ways and not live so very long under Western capitalist-style stigmatisation.

Many medium and large businesses are reportedly already telling their creditors – banks – that they are stopping parasitic rent payments for the time being; they have to keep their savings for the long, slow Corona recovery which will surely eat through their cash. (Again, do the doctors, helicopter Moms and Western politicians have any understanding of economics on a micro- or macro-level? I wonder….)

The non-propertied class doesn’t have these types of levers but social shaming is one – I suggest you use it with your landlord.


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

RUSSIA CALLS ERDOGAN CLAIMS ABOUT 8 PANTSIR SYSTEMS DESTROYED IN SYRIA FAKE

South Front

On March 10, the Russian Defense Ministry commented on recent claims by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that Turkish forces had destroyed 8 Russian-made Pantsir air defense systems operated by the Syrian Armed Forces. The destruction, Erdogan said, during the active phase of Turkey’s Operation Spring Shield.

In its comment on these claims, the Russian military said that the number provided is “more than overestimation” (i.e. fake). According to the Russians, data received by the Turkish leader on the combat effectiveness of the use of strike UAVs in Idlib province are untrue.

Moscow recalled that the main air defense means and measures of the Syrian military, including Pantsir air defense systems, have been and remain focused primarily on the area of the country’s capital, Damascus. There were only 4 Pantsir air defense systems deployed in Greater Idlib, the defense ministry said adding that 2 of them were in fact demaged. Currently, the damaged systems are undergoing repair works.

Recently, Turkey and affilated media outlets increased their propaganda campaign in order to compensate setbacks in the conflict in Syria with some PR victories. This campaign is supported by various questionable claims and sometimes even rough fakes.

Related News

لا لبنان مفلس ولا حزب الله اشتراكيّ … ولا ساندرز شيوعيّ… ولا كورونا إيرانيّة

ناصر قنديل

لا يمكن تجاهل حرب إعلامية منهجيّة تشتغل على غسل الأدمغة بزرع مفردات في اللاوعي الجمعي للناس، بطريقة مدروسة تتحوّل في لاحق الأيام إلى خلفية حكمية للتفكير تخضع لها عملية تلقي المعلومات وتظهيرها، وهذا علم أشدّ عمقاً وتعقيداً من فذلكات البروباغندا الإعلاميّة التسويقيّة والترويجيّة، ومن منهجيّة غوبلز حول «اِكذب ثم اِكذب» فلا بدّ أن يصدّق الآخرون. فالتدقيق العلمي سيوصلنا إلى نفي فرضية توصيف مشروع الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب لتشريع اغتصاب فلسطين وحقوق شعبها، بصفقة، فيكف بصفقة القرن، لكن أحداً لن يستطيع بسهولة انتزاع هذا التوصيف من أي استعمال لغوي للمشروع، الذي نجحت الحملة الاستباقية لطرحه بحجز مكان له في الذاكرة بحيث بات جاهزاً لاحتواء ما تتضمّنه تحت هذا المسمّى.

من مضامين بعض الحملات المبرمجة المشابهة التي نشهدها، مفردة يتداولها خبراء وإعلاميون وسياسيون، تربط عدم سداد سندات اليوروبوند ومشروع هيكلة الدين، بتسويق مفردة عنوانها، إفلاس الدولة اللبنانية. وبعيداً عن انتقاد الحكومة أو تأييدها يلتقي فريقان هنا وهناك على ترويج المفردة، باعتبارها الخلفية الفعلية للقرار الحكومي، وكثيراً بلباس حسن النيّة، عبر القول، لقد سرقوا البلد وأكلوا الأخضر واليابس، وها نحن مفلسون، فكيف ندفع، وبتدقيق بسيط يسهل اكتشاف أن لبنان ليس مفلساً، رغم ما سُرق وما نُهب، وأن هيكلة الدين نقطة الانطلاق نحو نهوض اقتصادي، وترسمل للدولة والاقتصاد، فالدولة لديها مرافق إنتاجية من الاتصالات والكهرباء والمرافئ والمطار وشركات منتجة كالكازينو والميدل إيست وغيرها، وإذا كانت الكهرباء هي أشدّها تعثراً، وإفلاساً بالتوصيف المذكور، فلماذا تتنافس شركات أميركية وفرنسية وصينية وكورية وإيطالية وألمانية، على تقديم عروض لتولي تمويلها وإدارتها وتشغيلها، أما عن الاتصالات فحدّث ولا حرج عن حال التشهي في أوساط المال والأعمال على فرضيات الخصخصة والمليارات المستعدّة للتداول على الطاولة. فماذا عن المطار والمرافئ، والكازينو والميدل إيست، إنهم يقفون بالصف انتظاراً لرواج نظرية الدولة المفلسة تمهيداً لتقاسمها مغانم وغنائم، ولهذا يريدون تعميم نظرية الدولة المفلسة قبل أن نتحدث عن النفط والغاز.

من هذه المفردات ومضامين البرمجة للتسويق المضلل والمبرمج، ما يتمّ تسريبه على دفعات وجرعات، حول وجود مشروع جاهز لدى حزب الله يطبق بالتدريج، عنوانه فك ارتباط لبنان بالغرب ونموذج الاقتصاد الحر، نحو الارتباط بالشرق، ونماذج التأميم وإدارة الدولة على الطريقة الاشتراكية، ويعرف المتابعون والمعنيون بالملفات الاقتصادية، أن حزب الله براغماتي اقتصادياً وداعية لنموذج الاقتصاد الحر واحترام الملكية الفردية، والمبادرة الفردية، لكن ضمن ضابطَيْ إيقاع، الأول سيادة الدولة وعدم تحول البعد الاقتصادي سبباً لانتهاكها، وفرض الشروط عليها؛ والثاني عدم انفلات الاقتصاد من الضوابط الإنسانية والمسؤوليات الاجتماعية التي يجب على الدولة رعايتها لحماية الفئات الضعيفة والمهمشة من تحمل أعباء لا تستطيع حملها، كما هو واجب الدولة تأمين حاجاتها الأساسية من صحة وتعليم وفرص عمل، لكن عندما ترسخ في الأذهان مرة من باب التمني الإيجابي، ومرة من باب التنديد والتحريض، نظرية وسم خطوات الحكومة باتباع مخطط لدى حزب الله، بمضمون «اشتراكي»، يصبح صعباً استبعاد نظريتين مرادفتين، الأولى أن الحكومة تخضع لخطة لدى حزب الله يتم تمريرها بالتدريج فيُحجم الكثير من الخارج عن التعامل مع الحكومة، والثانية أن لا مكان للرأسمال الوطني في هذا المخطط، فيُحجم عن التعاون مع الحكومة، والبعض فرح بالمشاركة في الحديث عن «اشتراكية» عند حزب الله هي غير موجودة، لكنها ربما تصير موجودة ببعض وجوهها لدى الحكومة، إذا نجح أصحاب هذه النظرية بترويجها.

مثل ما سبق تخاض حملة في الداخل الأميركي، وتتسع تدريجاً، لتصير عالمية، تريد ترسيخ توصيف للمرشح الديمقراطي المنافس نحو الرئاسة الأميركية بوب ساندرز، بالشيوعيّة، لسبب واحد، هو تضامنه مع القضية الفلسطينية وتجرُّئه على المساس بالمحرمات الديمقراطية والجمهورية بالمساندة العمياء لـ«إسرائيل»، ومثلها حملة لربط فيروس كورونا بكل من الصين وإيران، وهما رغم حجم الأذى الذي سببه لهما الفيروس تتعافيان، لكن المطلوب أن يقال إن النموذج المناهض للولايات المتحدة وهيمنتها يتهاوى، ولا يجلب إلا الكوارث، ويمكن الغوص تفصيلاً بكل من هاتين النظريتين وطريقة تسويقهما، والأساليب المعتمدة في جذب الطيبين وحسني النية لمعسكر الترويج للنظريتين، لكن الأهم هو الانتباه إلى أنه في زمن ثورة المعلوماتيّة ووسائل التواصل، صار الانطباع أقوى من الاقتناع، وإذا تصادما في اللاوعي يفوز الانطباع بالمشاعر، فترى صاحب القناعة ذابلاً شاحباً يائساً، رغم قناعته، لأنه قد هزم بالانطباع المعاكس قبل أن ينتبه لموقع قناعاته، وكثيرون قالوا في استطلاعات الرأي الأميركية أنهم يؤيدون طروحات ساندرز لكنهم لن ينتخبوه، لأن لا حظّ لشيوعي بأن يصير رئيساً لأميركا، بمثل ما يتحدث كثيرون عن إعجابهم بشجاعة الصين وإيران في تحدي السياسات الأميركية، لكنهم يضيفون أن تجربة كورونا قالت إن ذلك لا يكفي، فعثرة صغيرة قد توقعك عن السلم، فيما التقارير العلمية تقول إن التعثر في مواجهة كورونا يظهر غرباً لا شرقاً، رغم عامل المباغتة الذي عرقل فعالية المواجهة الصينية والإيرانية للفيروس في البدايات، وهو عامل غير حاضر في حالة الغرب الذي استقبل الفيروس وهو في جهوزية تامة نفسية وتقنية، تكفي مقارنة إيران وإيطاليا.

GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT (AGAIN): UN REPORT ON ALLEGED RUSSIAN ‘WAR CRIMES’ IN SYRIA IS BASED ON ‘WE SAY SO’ & UNNAMED SOURCES

March 7, 2020, RT.com

A UN-mandated report, which accuses Russia of war crimes in Syria, heavily relies on anonymous sources and lacks evidence, but also smacks of deliberate disinformation that is halting the eradication of terrorism in Idlib.

Earlier this week, the The Independent International Commission of Inquiry into the Syrian Arab Republic released a report largely lambasting Syria and Russia in their fight against terrorism in Syria. Corporate media were quick to echo allegations of Russian “war crimes” in Syria, all while diminishing the crimes of terrorist groups against Syrian civilians and soldiers.

The report does passingly acknowledge that Syria, Russia and allies are fighting “armed opposition groups, including Hay’at Tahrir” (al-Qaeda); the rest of the document reads mainly as a litany of accusations against Syria and Russia.

In the “mandate and methodology” section, the report notes that its information is based on “233 interviews conducted in the region and from Geneva” as well as from governments, NGOs, and UN reports.

So a report based on testimonies taken in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon or by phone, is again negating the masses of Syrians in Syria who would like their truths to be heard, the terrorism they have endured to be known.

I scoured the 24 pages of the report, but even in the annexes I could find no transparent and credible sources, only the following vague terms repeatedly referred-to: Witnesses, civilians, NGO, rescuers, medical teams, first responders, flight spotters, and early warning observers.

As Western media has largely focused on two accusations of Russian war crimes, I’ll address these here.

Russia War Crime – Accusation One

The first of two major accusations against Russia is of conducting airstrikes on Marat al-Numan, Idlib, on July 22, 2019, allegedly killing 43 civilians and targeting a market.

Details for this claim are provided by the unnamed sources mentioned above. Quite possibly, information was also provided by the usual suspects, like the one-man (Rami), UK-based “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,” and the terrorist-affiliated White Helmets fake rescue group, which, by 2020, should need no introduction.

The commission refers to flight spotters, “civilians who monitor aircraft flights to provide…advance warning prior to an air strike.”

But who are these civilians? Do they use the early-warning radar systems like those provided to the White Helmets? Are they neutral observers? Or the usual sources embedded with terrorists that we are meant to believe as credible?

The report claims it had obtained “satellite imagery, video footage and photos” regarding the alleged airstrikes. Yet none are included in the report.

It claims it “obtained flight communication intercepts conducted in the Russian language.” 

How did it supposedly obtain these intercepts? How do they know they are authentic? How do we know, since the alleged intercepts are not shared in the report?

Russia has emphasized that “Russian aviation was not used in this area on July 22 and did not fly there.”

Russian Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy noted that reconnaissance two days after the alleged attacks showed, “the allegedly destroyed market is completely intact and functions as usual.”

Given that Syria is surveilled by the intelligence services of the US, Israel, and Turkey, is it really plausible that Russia would be so careless as to broadcast their moves over airways?

So, for claim number one, we are presented with a number of unnamed sources. There is no transparency as to who these sources are, what their allegiances are (civilians or members of al-Qaeda or other armed groups in that area) and no visual evidence presented.

Just the words of the commission. Trust them.

Journalist and blogger Vanessa Beeley, who was last week in Marat al-Numan, told me “I can categorically say that the White Helmet centers in Marat al Numan were next door to Nusra Front, as always.”

Keep that in mind when watching their dramatic footage of the alleged July 22 attacks.

Accusation Number Two

The second claim concerns a Russian airstrike on a refugee compound near Haas, Idlib, on August 16, 2019, allegedly killing 20 people.

The commission’s segment on this accusation is long, with details about why people came to live in that compound, on the agricultural fields surrounding the area, that children played in summer in an open area of the compound, and that there was a kindergarten and schools, and also a prayer room!

All this detail paints a very intimate picture: we can imagine the setting and the subsequent horrors.

But whereas the report is quite long on such details, it is scant on one rather important thing: evidence.

It relays what purported events took place, but again gives no specifics on who the cited sources are or on why they should be credible, given that Idlib is under the control of al-Qaeda.

Having myself looked into previous anti-Syria war propaganda, including articles by the New York Times, I have found that, time and again, sources cited inevitably display allegiance to terrorist groups.

For claim number two, the report again refers to intercepted communications “in the Russian language,” a claim which stands against that of Russia’s Defense Ministry on its pilots’ communication policies.

Again, no supporting visuals are included in the report.

In fact, in the entire 24 pages, a sole photo is provided: a detailed map of Syria.

We are simply meant to take the word of the commission.

It’s possible that the UN commission also relied on the report of Human Rights Watch. However, that report is also replete with anonymous sources and devoid of names and evidence.

Based on all of these vague points, the UN commission concluded “reasonable grounds to believe” the guilt of Russia having committed war crimes.

Since when do we need more than that, right?  Think WMD Iraq

Commission’s Track Record of War-Crime Reports

You would imagine since the commission’s mandate is to report all war crimes in Syria since 2011, it would be replete with massacres committed by terrorists, including the incessant beheadings, rapings, public executions, torture, the underground prisons (including under hospitals), the caging of civilians and use of them as human shields.

Scrolling through the commission’s archives, one finds only reports echoing the war propaganda popular at any given time, vilifying the main parties fighting al-Qaeda, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and other terrorists in Syria: Syria and Russia.

The latest report covers the period from July 2019 to January 2020. Yet, while briefly admitting the presence of al-Qaeda in Idlib, the report does not highlight the terror of civilians targeted by al-Qaeda & co in areas they control, something which colleagues and myself have done.

And nowhere could I find reports of the terrorist bombings of civilians in Aleppo city, which have occurred routinely, long since the liberation in late 2016 of Aleppo City until only recently, when Aleppo’s countryside was restored to peace, all to the silence of corporate media.

Accusations of war crimes are a serious matter, requiring solid, transparent, evidence. From what the UN has presented, there is no clear evidence. Instead, there is a lot of “we say so,” and otherwise a reliance on sources and witnesses not named and quite possibly al-Qaeda-affiliated. In what court of law would such sources be considered acceptable?

The UN, US, and Western media play a guilty-until-proven-innocent game when it comes to their accusations against Syria and Russia. But it is they who have proven time-and-again to be guilty of war propaganda and of whitewashing terrorism in Syria.

Related:

‘Sorry, but it’s fake…again’: Russian military debunk NYT report on bombing of civilians in Syria, December 3, 2019

Excerpt:

“On Sunday, the leading US newspaper came up with a heartbreaking story of a housing complex for families displaced by the Syrian conflict being bombed in what the Times called a Russian airstrike in August. The journalists then stated that they were able to trace the air raid back to the Russian Air Force using “eyewitness photos and videos,” and claimed to have a trove of flight logs and cockpit tapes.

…Responding to the accusations on Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry has highlighted flaws in the report – perhaps the most glaring of which is that Russian pilots neither receive commands, nor report on their mission mid-flight, Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov argued.

“As frustrating as it can be for the masterminds behind this fake, but we have to say it once again: passing of coordinates to Russian bomber pilots and reports on task execution are not made by voice openly on air”

In fact, it is not the first time the Russian military has refuted claims that appeared in America’s newspaper of record. The Defense Ministry issued a similar correction following another damning piece by the same outlet in October. That story accused Russia of bombing UN-protected hospitals, some of which turned out to be militant hideouts tucked away in caves in the Idlib province. Konashenkov also questioned other evidence presented in the Times’ latest report, calling it “primitive and ill-defined” and adding that “In Russia, it is called a shot in the dark.”

DOCTORED FOOTAGE AND FAKE CLAIMS: TURKISH MEDIA CAMPAIGN IN SUPPORT OF OPERATION PEACE SPRING

Source


Since the start of Operation Peace Spring, Turkish media outlets have released a large number of videos showing Turkish strikes on positions of the Syrian Army in Greater Idlib. In general, these videos provide a useful inside into Turkish operations against forces of the Damascus government. However, some of them appear to have apparent issues and cause legitimate raising of eyebrows.
It’s interesting to note that most of these ‘strange videos’ were released by ‘Clash Report’, the media outlet that spearheaded the Turkish military propaganda campaign in social media. Among other things, this media outlet released videos supposedly showing the destruction of the Russian-made Pantsir air defense systems and a bombing of a large Syrian Army military convoy. These videos drew a notable attention of the international audience. So, let’s get a closer look at them.

Video 1 – Destruction of a first Russian-made Pantsir air defense system

A simple example is the following Twitter post, in it, a Turkish drone strike reportedly destroyed a Russian-made Pantsir S-1, used by the Syrian Arab Army.
After the attack on its soldiers, Turkish Armed Forces destroyed one of the Syrian regime’s Russian-made Pantsir S-1 (Sa-22) air defense system. Aerial footage clearly shows the radar was active when it was hit.
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On the exact same day, with the exact same video, but in Arabic, the post claims that the Pantsir S-1 is being operated by the so-called Russian private military company – “Wagner” (Turkey regularly claims that Turkish-backed forces are fighting Russian mercenaries in Libya) – and that the radar was on and it was still destroyed in a drone strike, but in Libya.
جيش التركي ، دمر نظام الدفاع الجوي Pantir S-1 (Sa-22) الروسي الصنع. يبدو أن رادار النظام فعال..
ميليشيات Wagner الروسية في ليبيا.
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Both posts are followed, however, by a description of how much the Pantsir S-1 costs and that only 12 countries have the equipment, in the respective language.
The Pantsir S-1, said to be worth in excess of 75 million dollars, sits in the inventory of 12 countries, and was recently deployed by the Russian mercenary company in .
View image on Twitter
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إن Pantir S-1 ، نظام الدفاع الجوي الذي دمرته القوات الجوية التركية ، هو يستعمل 12 دولة. وتفيد التقارير بأن بانتسير ، بقيمة 75 مليون دولار ، تم استخدامها من قبل ميليشيات Wagner الروسية في ليبيا.
View image on Twitter
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Both of these claim Wagner deployed them in Libya.

Video 2 – Destruction of a second Russian-made Pantsir air defense system

A second video, purportedly showing a Pantsir-S1 system in Saraqib also raises some questions, as specifically to its content. It was published on March 3rd.
Images du système de défense aérienne (SA-22) abattu par des drones de combat turc à dans la nuit du 3 mars alors que son radar était actif.Des traces de caméras thermiques sur le côté de la batterie déterminent que le système a été tiré contre un avion turc
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The video is 16 seconds and is very obviously consisting of two glued fragments. The first fragment actually shows the installation of a rotating radar. The second begins with an explosion. Moreover, two fragments are glued in such a way as to create the feeling that this is a continuous video. However, a closer look allows to see that the second part was shot a little from a different angle.
Here are the shots between second 11-14, when the explosion happens, it fades to black, there’s a little flash and it resumes. It can be seen that the explosion is centered so that it is in the same place where the presumed Pantsir stood before gluing.
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see full-size image
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see full-size image
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see full-size image
Then if the footage around second 14-16 is added here, it becomes obvious that the shooting is from a different angle. The tracks left from the Pantsir is now turned almost horizontally.
There are serious suspicions of falsification, as it can clearly be seen that there was an attempt to show the viewer something that this video does not specifically show.
Another problem is identical debris. After the explosion, a cloud of debris rises into the air. If one looks closely at them, it turns out that some of them are exactly the same.
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see full-size image
Did the Pantsir system disappear? And finally, the main thing. Let’s see the “last” second before the explosion and the last second before the video ends. If one looked “closely” you could see that the Pantsir is mounted to a rather large four-axle vehicle, much larger than a normal truck. From it should remain quite large debris, parts of the chassis. There is nothing, nothing at all remains.
Red circles on the image show debris that have already landed on the ground, the smoke that one sees in the frame flies over them and sometimes covers them. That is, one can clearly see the surface of the earth, but the installation has disappeared. The identical debris flying in the air is in blue.
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see full-size image
These lacks are so so obvious that there is even a sarcastic video presenting some of the issues the video has.

Video 3 – Strikes on a Syrian Army column near Maarat al-Numan

Moving on to another video published by Clash Report, this time on March 3rd. It purportedly showed a Syrian Arab Army convoy being punded by Turkish strikes.
Starting from the 13th second of the video, an individual supposedly exist the tank, and begins moving towards the other armored vehicle. What is questionable is the manner of his movement, as if he’s experiencing some sort of “video game lag,” but in real life.
Compared to the soldiers running in a file to the right, the movement of the individual on the left appears as if separated into specific frames, and rather odd, since the movement of everybody else in the footage is quite fluid.
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see full-size image
Then, the next explosion, which also obviously has jumps in footage, of where the specific parts were glued together, also has entirely identical debris resulting from the explosion that happens at the 41st second of the video.
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see full-size image
The final segment shows troops and a tank, being struck and then the camera rapidly pans to the side, not showing any of the aftermath, just the flash of the explosion and some partial debris.

***

Therefore, Turkish media outlets intentionally released doctored footage and made false claims in an attempt to paint the Turkish military operation in Syria more successful than it was. This is a common approach for any side of the conflict. However, it’s interesting to note that no of ‘high-professional’ maisntream media outlets adressed these gaps in Turkish-provided video reports.
A summary of Turkish Defense Ministry claims on the supposed casualties and equipment losses of the Syrian Army during Operation Peace Spring:
Doctored Footage And Fake Claims: Turkish Media Campaign In Support Of Operation Peace Spring
Click to see the full-size image
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Erdogan The Liar

Erdogan Launches anti-Greece Propaganda; Seeks More Support for War Crimes in Syria

March 3, 2020 Miri Wood

Erdogan has launched an anti-Greece propaganda campaign while simultaneously seeking more support for his war crimes against Syria. Days after the caliph-wannabe gave free bus rides to thousands of alleged refugees to the Greek border, Turkey released refugee porn videos meant to make Greece hated by the Mockingbird west.

Last week, after the Syrian Arab Army put out the lights of 37 Turkish regime military invaders who had come to help al Qaeda in Idlib, madman Erdogan got the NATO klan at the UN to hold back-to-back meetings in support of his war crimes and in support of al Qaeda.
Article 4: When NATO tribesmen gather to cluck over an aggrieved member, in this case, Turkey who was enraged that Syria defended itself from criminal invaders. Article 5 is when the tribesmen bond via joint bombing (basically, a bullying operation).
Erdogan called for, and received an Article 4 meeting of NATO tribesmen, with the goal of moving it into a bellicose Article 5 meeting. Greece wanted some guarantees regarding Turkey’s dumping of refugees at Greece’s border. France, the US, UK, and Germany refused, followed by Greece tossing in the proverbial monkey wrench.
Erdogan claims to have dumped 18,000 alleged refugees at Greece’s doorstep; some photos suggest about 10,000 have arrived. Coincidentally, they are all men, and men of a particular age.
Men, however, simply do not cut the mustard when it comes to the needs of the refugee porn junkies, who self-titillate with self-righteous tears for women and baby refugees, and who will devour any amount of snake oil propaganda for such a fix.
Therefore, a video was produced, allegedly at the Greek border, of a screaming woman, allegedly a mother, and two screaming babies, who were intentionally manhandled to make them scream.
The backstory was that mean Greece had showered them with tear gas, though no gas was visible. Somehow, the video was supposed to make Greece look bad, and Turkey look good, even though it was Turkey who sent these alleged refugees packing.
What was ”heart wrenching” was the abuse of toddlers, & the psycho banshee fake mom.
Masih Alinjad is an alleged feminist/Iranian dissident who lives in NYC, who has worked for the CIA’s Voice of America, ‘Persian Service,’ and who does photo ops with Mike ‘Lied, Cheated, Stole’ Pompeo, and Madeline ‘Five Hundred Thousand Dead Iraqi Babies Was Worth It’ Albright.
To some extent, it is ”heart-wrenching” to see the disgusting White Helmets fake rescue scenes recycled to the alleged border of Greece. This 23 second video clip is the same grizzly script, without the white helmets and without the Hollywood make-up.
It is ”heart-wrenching” that anyone would tolerate this criminal propaganda and not condemn the standard terrifying of babies to make them scream, the ‘hand-off’ repetition of passing crying babies from aggressive men who shake them, yank their clothing up so that they will be chilled, and then run off with them into the netherworld.
Every bit of this obscenity is made worse by the addition of the fake mother who allows her babies to be rough-handled by strange men — shirt pulled up in chilly weather; pummeled on back; practically held upside down — while she screams like a psychotic banshee and flails about like she suffers from asterixis and disappears into nothingness as strange men go for the Olympic medals in the 500 meter sprint.
The Child Abuse at the Border has been an ongoing refugee porn motif, particularly when barbed wired is involved, moms are missing, and men touch babies and children inappropriately and/or in hazardous positions.
Generally the children are done in stills, and nobody questions the abuse.
In interesting coordination by NATO stenographer journalism, and NATO-supported NGOs, the ugly video provided by the friend of Pompeo and Albright, who works for one of the CIA cut-outs, was used prelude to the second deification of Turkey and demonization of Greece, on Monday.
Along came — surprise! — The Syria Campaign to confirm the fraudulent ‘tear gas’ video which shows no tear gas, merely the torment of babies, before sharing another Erdogan’s Turkey scam video, as reported by the WaPo Berlin desk director.
How convenient that Turkey released an edited video of a ridiculous dinghy.
The viralized, edited, video showed cuts of Greece’s Coast Guard: Pushing the dinghy away with a pole; appearing to make waves near the dinghy; firing shots into the water near to the dinghy.
Somehow, the NATO stenographers did not marvel at how overstuffed with humanity was the dinghy; even a decent motor would die out from the weight if it tried to travel any distance. Somehow, the NATO propaganda pimps did not consider that the distance from even the closest part of Turkey and Greece would still be impossible to reach.
UK’s Daily Mail pretends it’s naive enough to believe Turkey just happened to be nearby, just happened to take the [edited] video, just happened to rescue the immigrants Erdogan bragged about turning loose on Greece.
Though Greece has previously, sporadically, been demonized by the media, the stenographers have chosen the side of NATO Turkey over NATO Greece’s right to defend its borders. It has begun to snowball. The more Greece is demonized, the bigger the halo painted on Turkey’s madman, Erdogan.
Greece
Over 16 million results.
Bloomberg first diminishes Greece, then spreads Erdogan propaganda against it.
Men sent to Greece’s border by Erdogan start fires at the checkpoint. What other intimidation tactics will they use?
It is of note that uncorroborated reports claim that Turkish police have escorted criminals to the Greek border, when one considers this video that shows Turkish police firing tear gas:
Τούρκοι αστυνομικοί ρίχνουν δακρυγόνα στην Ελληνική πλευρά.
Η χώρα δέχεται εισβολή. Το βίντεο τα λέει όλα!!
130 people are talking about this
It has been suggested that Greece repatriate Syrians, who can then be offered reconciliation. As of Monday, however, of 98 persons arrested by the Greek Border Patrol, none was identified as Syrian.
Monday’s media attacks against Greece, at the behest of Turkey which admits to supplying one of the two videos, also pours a foundation for whatever new criminal hoax is being cooked up in Istanbul, with the visit of Kelly Craft, US Ambassador to the UN, and James Jeffrey, fake ambassador of the invisible embassy that does not exist in Damascus (though his paycheck, courtesy of the American taxpayer, is quite real). The UK’s Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab joins them, today.
Surprisingly, France appears not to be joining this conspiratorial meeting, this breach of International Law, of the UN Charter. These unindicted criminals plot a way to better support Erdogan’s illegal military operations in Syria, plot a way to circumvent UNSCR 2504, the ugly compromise which slightly decreased the affront to Syria’s sovereignty that they could have vetoed.
American taxpayers will be thrilled to know that while their cities crumble, they scramble to keep a roof over their heads, CrowdFund to pay medical bills, and are now told they may not be covered for the Coronavirus, that President Donald J. Trump has found another $108 million to add to the $10 billion already provided, allegedly for humanitarian aid, though every time the SAA frees an area from al Qaeda terrorists, millions of dollars in abandoned NATO weapons are found.
If the US stood with “the people of Syria,” it would not arm and fund al Qaeda in the SAR. It would also not support the crazed president of Turkey.
The world knows that Trump is fiercely protective of US territorial integrity. He breaches Syria’s borders with impunity. He supports Turkey’s illegal incursions into Syria.
In supporting Turkey, he shows his contempt also for Greece, also a NATO ally.
— Miri Wood

INTERVIEW ON GEORGE GALLOWAY’S THE MOTHER OF ALL TALKSHOWS

In London for a new round of Imperialism On Trial (February 25, info here), I was on George Galloway’s The Mother Of All Talkshows Sunday night to discuss Syria.

George gives an excellent introduction on the nature of systematic, paid-for, organized, deliberate, war propaganda on Syria, to deceive people and whitewash the nature of the heinous, criminal, actions of the terrorists dubbed by the west as “rebels” who have beheaded children, among other crimes.

He kindly points out that I and others who have been telling the truth on Syria are being vindicated on a daily basis.

During the interview, I noted the media portrayal of what is happening in Syria (incessant demonization of Syria and Russia), and that Syria has a legal right to fight terrorism, and an obligation to the Syrian people to do so. 

Later, I came across an article eloquently outlining this perfectly. Author Stephen Gowans, in his recent article on Idlib, wrote (excerpts):

Erdogan wanted to run Idlib through his Al Qaeda proxies to gain leverage in order to shape the outcome of post-conflict talks on a new political arrangement for Syria. [6] This would allow him to further his Islamist agenda in a neighboring country—he had taken numerous steps to Islamize his own country—and to acquire profit-making opportunities in Syria for Turkish business people.

Erdogan’s plans were soon brought to fruition. By February, 2018, Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the US campaign against ISIS, could call Idlib “the largest al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.” [7] The veteran foreign affairs correspondent Robert Fisk would refer to the Syrian province as a territory teeming with “the Islamist fighters of Isis, Nusrah, al-Qaeda and their fellow jihadists.” [8] In September, 2019 The New York Times’ Eric Schmitt said that Idlib province contained “a witch’s brew of violent Islamic extremist groups, dominated by the larger Qaeda-linked organization Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly the Nusra Front.” [9] Hayat Tahrir al-Sham would control 99 percent of Idlib and surrounding areas. [10], creating what Cockburn dubbed an “al-Qaeda-run mini-state” [11]—behind which sat Erdogan, on the Sultan’s throne.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Al Qaeda are one and the same. After undergoing a previous rebranding as Jabhat al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch morphed once again, this time into HTS. As the Syrian delegate to the United Nations, Bashar Ja’afari, explained to the UN Security Council in May,

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham … is the Al-Nusra Front, which itself is part of Al-Qaida in the Levant, which in turn is part of Al-Qaida in Iraq, which in turn is part of Al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Therefore, we are all talking about Al-Qaida, regardless of its different names; all are designated by the [UN Security] Council as terrorist entities. [12]

The Washington Post described Hayat Tahrir al-Sham as “an extremist Islamist group that began as al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria and has tried to rebrand itself several times during the war.” [13] The New York Times says Hayat Tahrir al-Sham “is affiliated with Al Qaeda,” [14] while The Wall Street Journal lists the group as “a branch of al Qaeda.” [15]

But of Western mainstream journalists, Cockburn perhaps describes the group best. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, he wrote in early 2019, is “a powerful breakaway faction from Isis which founded the group under the name of Jabhat al-Nusra in 2011 and with whom it shares the same fanatical beliefs and military tactics. Its leaders wear suicide vests studded with metal balls just like their Isis equivalents.” [16]

“In September 2018, Russia and Turkey brokered a cease-fire agreement for Idlib to forestall a military offensive,” explained The Wall Street Journal. “The deal required that” Al Qaeda fighters “withdraw from a demilitarized buffer zone along the front line.” [21] Rather than withdrawing, Al Qaeda expanded areas under its control. [22] while continuing to carry on its fight against the Syrian military. The jihadists attacked Syrian army positions, targeted the Russian airbase at Khmeimim, and shelled towns and villages, “killing civilians and forcing more than 10,000 to flee,” according to the United Nations. [23] Turkey stood by while its proxies violated the cease-fire, failing “to meet its commitment to disarm” its fighters. [24]

In response, the Syrian army, backed by its Russian and Iranian allies, launched an offensive to liberate Idlib. It has done this because Al Qaeda’s attacks have never stopped and because the government of Syria has an obligation to protect its citizens and control its own territory.

When Ja’afari addressed the Security Council in May he asked:

When will it be recognized that the right we are exercising is the same right others have exercised in confronting terrorist attacks against the Bataclan theatre and the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, as well as terrorist acts in Niece, London, Boston and other cities? The terrorists that members have confronted in their own countries were not equipped with Turkish rocket launchers and tanks. [25]

Apart from glossing over such inconvenient facts as the true character of the “armed opposition” and Erdogan’s connection to it, the US news media have failed to address a number of key questions.

First, is it legitimate for a government to use force to recover territory occupied by an armed enemy, even if the use of force endangers civilians or sparks their flight? If the answer is no, then the Allies acted illegitimately during World War II in liberating Europe from Nazi occupation, for their project was impossible without endangering some civilians and creating refugees.

Moreover, if civilian casualties and their displacement were acceptable consequences of US forces taking Raqqa from ISIS—the US defense secretary at the time, James Mattis responded to concerns about the effect of the US siege on civilians by noting that “Civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation” [26]—how is it that they are an unacceptable in the case of Syrian forces liberating Idlib from Al Qaeda?

A still more basic question is, Is it acceptable to respond in force to attacks from an enemy? The answer is obvious, which may be why it is never asked, for if asked, Syrian military operations against continued Al Qaeda attacks would have to be accepted as legitimate, rather than falsely portrayed as acts of aggression against Syrian civilians.

Third, is Turkey’s presence on Syrian soil legitimate? The answer is categorically in the negative. The invasion of Syria by Turkey and the occupation of part of Syrian territory by Turkish forces is no different in law, politics, or morality than the Nazi invasion of Poland, France, the low countries, the Soviet Union, and so on. It is clearly illegal, and an affront to the ‘rules-based international order’ to which the United, Turkey, and other NATO countries so conspicuously and hypocritically profess allegiance. The invasion and occupation have been carried out in defense of Turkey’s Al Qaeda proxy, and to advance the interests of Turks and Islamists against the interests of Syrians and secularists. Erdogan is no hero, but a villain, whose hands are as maculated by the blood of Al Qaeda’s Syrian victims as are those of his Al Qaeda proxies.

Finally, what are the costs of Al Qaeda’s continued rule over three million Syrians in Idlib? Are they greater than the costs in civilian casualties and displacement of bringing that rule to an end? The US news media have been generally supportive of the immense costs in blood and treasure Washington has incurred to wage its war on Al Qaeda in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen. While noting the civilian cost of driving ISIS from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria, the US news media have never denounced the US war on ISIS as a humanitarian horror story, a term it uses to denounce Syria’s war on Al Qaeda. Instead, ISIS itself is portrayed as a humanitarian horror story, and efforts to undermine and defeat it are welcomed. This should be true too of Syria’s war on Al Qaeda. It is Al Qaeda that is the humanitarian horror story and it is the actions of the Syrian military in undermining and defeating it that ought to be welcomed and met with approbation.

The Syrian military advance to recover Idlib and liberate it from Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization which has imposed a harsh regime of religious intolerance and Islamist despotism on three million Syrians, has not been welcomed by the US news media. Although the campaign is praiseworthy on multiple levels—it recovers national territory held by proxies of a foreign aggressor, and aims to liberate millions of people who have been tyrannized by a rule imposed on them by an organization made up of thousands of foreign fighters—US media, betraying their commitment to US geopolitical agendas, portray the commendable as indefensible. We ought to applaud the actions of the Syrian military, along with those of its Russian and Iranian allies, not deplore them. These actions are blows against reaction, oppression, and foreign aggression, and in defense of democracy on an international level, as well as in the furtherance of the welfare of the Syrian people.

RELATED LINKS:

Words of former special envoy, Brett McGurk

Liberate Syria’s Idlib, precisely for the civilians that America fakes concern over 

En route to Abu al-Duhour, Idlib (VIDEO)

American Journalist Killed in Turkey for Revealing the Truth Regarding ISIS-Daesh (Serena Shim)

Liberate Idlib and Syria: The Martyred of Mhardeh Speak Through the Ones They’ve Left Behind

Aleppo City’s Countryside Fully Secured, Syrians in Aleppo Celebrate The End of Terrorism

Aleppo MP Fares Shehabi on improved life in Aleppo since liberation (June 2017 VIDEO)

CNN recycles 2018 lies as 2020 lies on Syria

Eastern Ghouta rebuilding

How the Mainstream Media Whitewashed Al-Qaeda and the White Helmets in Syria

A Personal Reply to the Fact-Challenged Smears of Terrorist-Whitewashing Channel 4, Snopes and La Presse

Under Fire from Ukraine and Misperceived by the West, The People of the DPR Share Their Stories

Accused of Treason and Imprisoned Without Trial: Journalist Kirill Vyshinsky Recounts His Harrowing Time in a Ukrainian Prison

Eva K Bartlett Patreon

Telegraph Reporter Ensor Pimps Last Propaganda Post against Syria

February 25, 2020 Miri Wood

Telegraph reporter Josie Ensor who has engaged in anti-Syria propaganda since the beginning of the foreign-imposed war of terror has attempted to cash in on the anemic last template. She has succeeded in flunking Bathos 101, and has stopped just short of asking NATO to obliterate Syria to make her feel better. A curious lamentation on the 2009 -10 Damascene air and atmosphere feeling and being much thicker and darker simply does not the mustard cut.

Ensor’s final goodbye is a hodgepodge of the ongoing criminal lies against the Syrian Arab Republic since the early attempts to impose a NATO Spring on the sovereign Levantine country. Following Ensor’s weird imagery schematic, it could be described as exuding the stench of a stew, made from rotting produce and maggot-infested meat, cooked up and then left in the summer heat — and with a Greek chorus conveniently nearby, which chants, Please, Sir, may I have another?

Ensor’s alleged last goodbye swansong has a potential silver lining; her personalheavy heart, personal misery, personal clubbing, are so maudlin as to warrant a return to shunning of first person singular in news reports (her egocentrism extended to pulling her lamentations out from behind The Telegraph‘s pay/registration wall).

More

MEE: UK Gov’t’s Covert Propaganda Campaign in Syria

By Staff, MEE

The British government covertly established a network of citizen journalists across Syria during the early years of the country’s war in an attempt to shape perceptions of the conflict, frequently recruiting people who were unaware that they were being directed from London.

A number of leaked documents seen by Middle East Eye show how the propaganda initiative began in 2012 and gathered pace the following year, shortly after the UK parliament refused to authorize British military action in Syria.

Drawing upon British, American and Canadian funding, UK government contractors set up offices in Istanbul and Amman, where they hired members of the Syrian diaspora, who in turn recruited citizen journalists inside Syria.

These journalists, many of them young, were commissioned to produce TV footage, radio programs, social media, posters, magazines and even children’s comics.

While many Syrians turned spontaneously to media activism from the start of the war, the documents describe the way in which the British government sought to guide some of their output, seeing citizen journalism as a way of covertly influencing Syrian audiences.

The papers also make clear that those people who were recruited were often unaware that they were part of a British propaganda initiative.

Some of those who were recruited have defended their involvement, however, saying that they were reliant on western support in their efforts to counter pro-government reporting in Syrian state media, and in Iranian and Russian-backed media.

At a time when the last opposition-held enclave in Idlib province is under assault by pro-government forces, they questioned whether western countries could have contributed more material support to moderate rebels.

Some Syrian journalists complained that western support for their work was decreasing even as it was most needed.

The documents were drawn up as blueprints for the initiative by an anthropologist working in counter-terrorism at the foreign office in London. They were issued in late 2014 to a small number of communications companies that were invited to bid for three contracts to deliver the work.

The documents show that the over-arching aim of the citizen journalism project – and a series of interlinked British propaganda initiatives – was to promote the UK’s strategic interests in Syria and the Middle East.

These are defined in the leaked papers as “a more stable and democratic Syria that better meets the needs and aspirations of its people”, support for a political solution to the conflict, the alleviation of humanitarian suffering, and enhanced UK security.

As well as developing grassroots journalism aligned with British government values, the UK and other western governments were at the same time attempting to build civil society in areas controlled by some of Assad’s opponents, financing and training police forces and civil defense teams.

The anthropologist’s blueprint makes clear that this was being done not just to help maintain law and order and provide humanitarian assistance, but “to build confidence in a future Syria free from extremist rule”.

However, the documents acknowledge the risks to the young journalists who had unwittingly been co-opted by the British government.

The British government’s citizen journalism project was part of a three-pronged propaganda initiative that was developed in London and was, according to the documents, intended to “have a synergistic effect”.

The first strand, named Syrian Identity, sought to “unite Syrians through positive affirmation of common cultures and practices and to restore trust between neighbors, while illustrating Syrians’ strength in numbers,” according to the blueprint.

The documents explain that the second strand, called Free Syria, “seeks to build confidence in a future Syria free from extremist rule”.

It “amplifies the work of the ‘free’ police, civil defense teams and wider public service provision and broader developments in civil society and seeks to unite the moderate opposition (civil and armed) to work for a common future”.

The third, known as Undermine, “seeks to degrade the effectiveness of VE [violent extremist] networks in Syria by undermining the credibility of VE narratives and actors and isolating VE organizations from the populace.”

The document goes on, using a different acronym for IS: “ISIL is an explicit and named focus, Al Nusra Front (due to its current popularity within Syria) is addressed indirectly through its behavior.

“The purpose of the project to directly ‘Undermine’ (degrading the effectiveness of) VE networks in Syria through the delivery of media product, the emboldening and empowering of moderate voices, and supporting community coalescence around a vision of a tolerant, pluralist Syria. Ultimately, active Syrian rejection of VE is the requirement.”

The documents add that the research underpinning the initiative “will need to be able to draw upon open source material, jihadist discourse and, in particular, a network of assets inside Syria”.

Individuals familiar with the project say that around nine companies were invited to bid for the contracts. They included a number of firms established by former British diplomats, intelligence officers and army officers.

Although the contracts were awarded by the UK’s foreign office, they were managed by the country’s Ministry of Defense, and sometimes by military intelligence officers.

These companies set up offices in Amman, Istanbul and, for a period, at Reyhanli in southeast Turkey. From here they would employ Syrians who would in turn recruit citizen journalists inside Syria, who were under the impression that they were working for the media offices of Syrian opposition groups.

Meanwhile, other leaked documents seen by MEE show that the British government had awarded contracts to communications companies, which selected and trained opposition spokespeople, ran press offices that operated 24 hours a day, and developed opposition social media accounts.

British staff running these offices were told that their Syrian employees were permitted to talk to British journalists – as spokespeople for the Syrian opposition – but only after receiving clearance from officials at the British consulate in Istanbul.

One of the responsibilities of the press offices set up covertly by the British government under the terms of these contracts was to “maintain an effective network of correspondents/stringers inside Syria to report on MAO [moderate armed opposition] activity”.

In this way, the British government was able to exert behind-the-scenes influence over conversations that the UK media was having with individuals who presented themselves as Syrian opposition representatives.

People involved with the operation say that some prominent British journalists visiting Istanbul would be introduced to Syrians acting as opposition spokespeople, who had been prepared for the encounter by British handlers.

They say they would brief the Syrians before the meeting, and avoid any face-to-face contact with the visiting journalists themselves.

Channel 4 – White Helmets Collaboration: Britain’s Propaganda Package to Destroy Syria

February 7, 2020 Miri Wood

This edifice is not on the Syrian Health Ministry’s list of hospitals & therefore it is not a hospital, no matter what Britain’s Channel 4 claims. It also shows no signs of being bombed.

Channel 4 has outdone itself in war criminal propaganda against Syria. Giddy over its Bafta Award for fraudumentary, greedy to win an Oscar, and arrogant enough to attempt to inflict emotional blackmail on the UN, it has released one of the most ludicrous videos since the foreign war of terror was unleashed on the Syrian Arab Republic in 2011.

The video was shot in August 2019 but seems to have been kept on the back burner, for an emergency situation, like the one that is happening now: Syria is liberating Every Inch of itself from foreign-owned criminally insane savages. The smarm and the filth of this one were so viscous that even Jon “Velvet Throat” Snow — of last summer’s buffoonish Who You Gonna Believe, Us or Your Lyin’ Eyes infamy — sat out this jewel.

Shamelessly titled Incredible rescue of baby left behind in hospital after Syria bombing, it grotesquely insults mothers and health care professionals and those with any semblance of intelligence (excepting, of course, the emotional porn voyeurs and the peak colonialists who feel pious feeling said for them, over there.

Channel 4’s latest sham begins with an attractive panoramic view of what it claims to be the Al-Iman Maternity Hospital, in the middle of nowhere. The edifice is huge, enormous enough to have been an allied health sciences university hospital covering every system in the human body. But the camera pan shows no evidence of it ever having actually been a hospital; in fact, it simply looks like an old, huge, abandoned building.

Whatever it may have been, it does not look like it was aerial bombed, six times, after 0100, according to the somber Channel 4 voice-over (as the video cuts off before the apparent voice-over dude says, this is so-and-so, reporting from such-and-such, the author will simply refer to him as “VO Dude” throughout this report.).

channel-4

Channel 4 ‘ VO Dude — as is the wont — immediately and ominously declares that the “deliberate targeting of hospitals is a war crime.”

As is also the wont, not mentioned is that hospitals are accredited by governments in which they exist. This alleged maternity hospital does not exist on the list of Syria’s Ministry of Health’s distribution of hospitals, nor is it on the list of the Ministry’s private hospitals by governate.

I tell you here publicly that what has been said is misleading and false whatever the source that provides this information is a misguided source. There are no 27 hospitals in Idlib. Huh, now for our colleague the British Ambassador, if the White Helmets have opened a room in a cellar in a building, where it launches missiles and shells from, this is another thing, this is not a hospital. This is not a hospital, this is called a makeshift medical facility. This is a hallucination and a cinema on the ground when they call it a hospital. It is not a hospital. It is a room they open in a cellar in one of the buildings used for bombing civilians and the Syrian Arab army from. — H.E. Bashar al Jaafari, to UNSC, 18 June 2019

That this alleged maternity hospital is huge and visible for distances of a gazillion kilometers, it probably can not be considered one of the secret unhospitals claimed by al-Qaeda press liaisons, on every corner of every street in every area occupied by terrorists.

Again, for the record, and because Channel 4 keeps repeating the ‘war crimes & hospitals’ mantra, Geneva/ICRC Agreements explicitly state that the requirements for medical facilities in war zones include the ‘agreement of the host country’ and the ICRC Emblem to identify it. Anything less, and there is no hospital.

sarc
“When the Parties concerned have agreed…”.

We also take this opportunity to again remind Channel 4 — and VO Dude — that the Nuremberg Statutes are part of Geneva/ICRC, and that journalists who engaged in war propaganda were indicted, convicted, and sentenced to death under Principle VI, “crimes against humanity.”

nuremberg VI crimes against peace
Some journalists engaged in criminal propaganda were hung upon conviction, at the Nuremberg Tribunals.

After the veiled threat about ”war crimes,” the Channel 4 VO Dude manages to state, without cracking up in a fit of laughter over the absurdity, that after this unhospital was evacuated of 35 health personnel and new moms, and moms in labor and delivery, that “a baby has been left behind in the hospital under attack” because it was “somehow overlooked.”

Imagine a new mother overlooking the fact that her newborn infant was not with her. Imagine, that in addition to a mother being so derelict, so negligent, so were thirty-five health care professionals.

Anyway, it is the stethoscope-less, CPR-ignorant, bagging-incompetent, fake responders, the White Helmets, off to the rescue, sirens blaring, annoyingly, and oh, by the way, the forgotten baby was left in an — drum roll, please — incubator.

incubator babies
The incubator as emotional war porn appears to be immortal.

After what seems like a long century of sirens and chatter and VO Dude bathetically describing how these Helmets just always risk their lives for everyone (possibly the reason they have not been trained in even the basics of emergency care, despite tens of millions from the CIA and Brit intelligence is that they are just too darn busy).

Darkness surrounds the hospital (making it convenient not to be recognized as a hospital) except for an annoying flickering light (enhancing the fake drama) which conveniently leads to … the incubator room! where the lost baby forgotten by all, for an unstated amount of time is immediately located.

Let there be light.
And there was light, & it was good.
It was also darn convenient, too.

After much breathlessness, the gang decides to take the baby and leave.

Here we see a White Helmet holding a bunched blanket and engaging in ridiculous script; if they really were going to get a somehow overlooked neonate, it would likely be known that his name were known.

channel 4
Cannot Channel 4 improve a bit on the psyops? Is anyone really this bloody stupid?

Channel 4 — due to indolence, stupidity, or arrogance — went in to one of the utterly ridiculous, standard, White Helmets running scenes, because they always park their ambulances as far from an entryway as possible (reminiscent of the fab scene in Airplaneexcept this time it was in darkness, this “chaotic run [why? For the love of God, why?] across open ground.”

channel-4

Medical note: Most premature babies are kept in incubators to keep them warm, until their bodies self-adjust to proper thermoregulation. Those whose lung surfactant has not yet fully developed, are provided with extra oxygen, along with the heat, while in the incubator.

The Channel 4 VO Dude goes into the infant’s sad medical history, that of the “critical condition with a hole in his heart.”

Let’s clear that up, right now.

There are two types of ‘holes in the heart,’ both of which are holes in the septal wall of the heart. Though the atrial septal defect is less serious than the ventricular septal defect, much of the time, both frequently heal themselves, without surgery.

We are told that the neonate’s name is Yusef, and that he is a twin (of course. Channel 4 has forgotten that the twin motif was used, in Khan Sheikhoun by the dad who left his family to go rescue someone else, and then returned to find his entire family dead, including his baby twins, and then he had to dig graves for twins, wife, extended family, with his bare hands, because there were no shovels, after which he caught the express to Istanbul where he met Erdogan, kissed his forehead, and then got indigestion.).

Being a twin, makes ‘Yusef’s abandonment more ridiculous.

Finally, there is light, again, without explanation.

‘Yusef,’ the twin who oddly got left behind, in an incubator, ”somehow overlooked” by mom, and 35 staff members, now in the front seat of a vehicle.

Inexplicably — or perhaps to feature the white helmet — ‘Yusef’ is moved to the back. He is kept naked, though he should have been wrapped in a blanket.

Naked, though, the neonate looks more fragile, helpless, and therefore is a better marketing tool for emotional pornography than were he properly wrapped, kept warm.

He looks healthy, and does not cry.

Whose baby might he really be, this infant whom Channel 4 callously claims was “somehow overlooked”?

Channel 4 pimps the White Helmets, again, viciously suggests that this precious baby’s mom forgot about him. The creeps keep him naked and vulnerable, and the death squad Helmet holds something unrecognizable, with a tube.
WHOSE BABY IS THIS, REALLY?

The video is cobbled, and bumpy, which adds to Channel 4’s too frequent use of a variation on the word, “chaos,” as if to give legitimacy to the entire fraud of it.

After much driving, and drivel from the media operative, we finally arrive to a ‘hand off’ to another ambulance.

This purloined infant, who looks completely healthy, whose respiratory rate has been stable on the occasions it was visible, who is not shivering despite being sadistically kept uncovered, for this purpose, is handed to another man, in another ambulance, with lies, and unwrapped.

In August, the average night temperature in Syria is 67F/19C, which is too chilly for a neonate to be outdoors, naked, even if only for a ‘hand over.’

As there is no reason for Channel 4 to be reporting on August news in February, it is more likely the chaotic, cobbled propaganda video is recent.

The average night temperature in Syria, this time of year is 33F/0.4C.

As he presents the naked, stolen, ‘Yusef’ to the other man, he lies that his lips were blue (when rescued from that incubator, where he was “somehow, overlooked” by all). He screams the baby is in urgent need of oxygen.

The Channel 4 operative does not challenge the lie. He does not check the time. Were this infant oxygen-dependent, he would have looked it, and possibly not survived the five-minute drive, especially when viciously kept unwrapped.

The new ambulance set is pristine, and when last we see ‘Yusef,’ the urchin who has taken control of his fraud care, fumbles with accessories, while leaving the infant, naked.

Somewhere during this drive, the shameless mouthpiece for Channel 4 says, “who knows when they’ll be reunited,” referring to the purloined child, and giving no explanation of why the reunion would be unknown. Surely, by now, the incompetent, negligent mom realizes that one of her twins is missing.

Channel 4 returns us to more darkness.

Al Qaeda hates women; here is the Freudian evidence.
In the chaos, it was not understood if this was the evacuated — including the “somehow overlooked” ‘Yusef’ twin — ”maternity” one.

More chaos ensued, and the Channel 4 voice-over brought us to a sturdy-looking Helmets’ center, where there were some alleged patients in need of alleged evacuation.

Evacuation from what looks like a sturdy building to go “looking for a functioning hospital” like a trillion others, on this night, according to Channel 4.
Another naked baby.

This is Mariam. The bundle she is holding is reportedly her new granddaughter. It is amazing to see a woman in a video taken in Idlib, as they are generally only allowed out for public executions, or — if they are young and pretty, for fake photo ops showing ‘gender equality’ among the Nusra Helmets — but given this fraud report involved a maternity hospital, it could not have been helped.

‘Mariam”s daughter is only seen from behind, bent over, reportedly post c-section, struggling to climb into a van.

‘Mariam’ does her lines well, careful to look upward and left, when trying to remember.
Mom does not speak in this video. Her covered, bent, legs are all we see; she is practically invisible.

We return to chaos, and darkness, as the Channel 4 guy somberly tells us “crammed into this ambulance [is] around two dozen women with five babies.”

How odd that there are none of those teen girl White Helmets to help maternity patients.

As though things could not become more chaotic, an alleged doctor allegedly faints, as these “chaotic emergencies taking a toll on medical staff,” according to the Channel 4 NATO stenographer, who offers no explanation of why the lights suddenly go on, and we catch glimpses of women, and their faces, women, stuffed like sardines.

Women who may have been kidnapped.

The Channel 4 reporter does not concern himself that the only time we heard a young women’s voice, was when she used it to show concern for ‘the doctor.’

He is not concerned be the obscene story that a new mother would ”somehow overlook” one of her twins.

He is not concerned at the lies of the White Helmets, of the disregard for the infant, ‘Yusef.’ He is unperturbed when a man viciously states I have about twenty-five women. For what purpose does he have them?

The few women’s faces that we have been allowed to see, are haunted. They look like the women of the villages of Lattakia, who were kidnapped in the summer of 2013, mostly Alawite Syrian women, fumbling with headscarves their male abductors forced them to wear, before the pigsty al-Jazeera interviewed them forced to thank the terrorists for their very good care.

Channel 4 did not report on their kidnappings.

Channel 4 also did not report on the many children who were abducted from their homes in Lattakia villages in early August, and who were murdered for the cameras the last weekend of August 2013, in Ghouta.

Channel 4 did not report when 400 women & their children were kidnapped, nor did it report when the Syrian government was able to get the release of 58 of them, almost four years later.

On Monday 27 January, Syria’s Foreign and Expatriates Ministry dispatched a diplomatic letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and to the head of the Security Council, reporting that another fabricated chemical attack is planned in the Idlib-Aleppo area, under the direction of Turkey, by the White Helmets.

Channel 4 also did not report this news.

The Channel 4 mouthpiece does not hear the silence of these women. He does not notice their eerie, Stepford Wives quality about them.

He does not even wonder where any husbands might be.

Channel 4 ends its video presentation by once again demanding we believe its lies, rather than the evidence it provides. How lethal this barrage could have been while the camera pans a room filled with intact medical equipment. There is no sign of any bombing; rather, it looks as though some idiot dumped red wood chips around, and then watered them.

The nameless, shameless Channel 4 man who did not hear the silence of these women, audaciously complains about a non-existent United Nations agreement “shattered by the sound of international silence.”

— Miri Wood

Reportedly a group photo of the criminal liars of imperialist media.

Photo Tutorial on the Death Squad Helmets

GUARDIAN, ATLANTIC CONTRIBUTOR ACTS AS A SYRIAN TERRORIST MOUTHPIECE ON TWITTER, AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT YOU’RE A RUSSIAN STOOGE

December 27, 2019, RT.com

-by Eva Bartlett

Eva Bartlett

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Palestine (where she lived for nearly four years).

FILE PHOTO: Al-Nusra fighter in Syria ©  AFP/ Rami Al-Sayed

Giving a sympathetic platform to a terrorist is reprehensible at best, downright criminal at worst, and definitely a bad look for a ‘respected’ media contributor. Oh, it’s for bashing Assad and the Russians? Go ahead, then.

A funny thing happened recently on Twitter. A journalist who contributes to the Guardian, Foreign Policy and the Atlantic tweeted—in a long thread peppered with photos of Abu Mohammed al-Jolani, the leader of an Al-Qaeda branch in Syria—about “the force that dominates” Idlib. Hassan Hassan’s initial tweet coyly avoided mentioning that this force is Al-Qaeda in Syria.

And no, its not just us Russian bots who say that Idlib is infested with Al-Qaeda: former US special envoy, Brett McGurk, deemed Idlib “the largest Al-Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.”

The thread smacked of giving a platform to terrorist propaganda. After extensively quoting Jolani, Hassan weighed in with his own thoughts on the situation in Syria and his Al-Qaeda “rebels”.

Aside from whitewashing designated terrorists, the point of his thread was clearly a continuation of the anti-Russia hysteria corporate journalists are so rabidly devoted to.

These latest anti-Russia, anti-Syria headlines and tweets echo those  which abounded when eastern Ghouta and Aleppo were being liberated from  terrorists. Go to Aleppo now and you’ll find a city that just celebrated  Christmas and is rebuilding, and indeed rebuilding all over Syria, in areas once occupied by terrorists.

More importantly, liberated areas are no longer ruled by fanatics who imprison, torture, starve and assassinate civilians. Syrian women I interviewed  earlier this year in Sinjar, Idlib, spoke of being tormented by  terrorists in Idlib, and called for the Syrian army to liberate all of  Idlib.

But war propagandists don’t care about those civilians…

Backslapping and Rebranding

The  same corporate media vultures who bandy about self-righteously furious  expressions for all things Russian and Syrian are normalizing terrorists  in Syria, rendering ISIS into mere militants”, “fighting for survival”, as was the case in a recent Washington Post ode to ISIS.

So the US and allies invaded Iraq under the pretext of fighting Al-Qaeda, largely destroyed that country, killed untold numbers of Iraqi civilians, maimed untold numbers more… and now the same designated terror group, Al-Qaeda, is suddenly a fuzzy li’l militant?

Likewise, a recent Bloomberg article describes the bandits ruling in Libya (with its slave markets – thanks, American humanitarian intervention!) as an “internationally recognized” government, and the terrorists heading there to create more chaos as Syrian “rebels”.

Extreme Xenophobia

Unsurprisingly, when war propagandists get called out by thinking people, they deflect blame onto Russia. A perusal of replies to Hassan’s tweets reveals many (non-Russian) people object to war propaganda and the platforms that propagate it.

Hassan  gets a sticker for his efforts to do best in the Russophobia challenge.  He went beyond merely hurling the same old unoriginal accusations at  Russia, and denigrated the entire nation as “repulsive”. Classy.

Of course, when many on Twitter pointed out his xenophobia, he scrambled to reword.

But that’s the thing about Twitter: no edits. The vitriol is out there, there’s no undoing the racism.

Blatant war propagandists like him have, for years, acted as  cheerleaders and whitewashed the civilian-murdering terrorists in Syria,  slandered  those of us who challenge war propaganda and bother to give platforms  to civilians instead of terrorists, and relentlessly hounded Russian  diplomats and media.

The Russophobia, and indeed xenophobia, has  gotten preposterous. It is Russia that is actually helping Syria fight  terrorism, it’s Russia that also sends humanitarian aid, it’s Russia  that helps open humanitarian corridors for Syrian civilians, it’s Russia  that is aiding Syria in rebuilding, and it’s Russian sappers who have  done most of the demining of areas formerly occupied by terrorists.

And it is not Russia who financed, backed, and whitewashed terrorism: that honour goes to the US and its allies.

Increasingly,  people on Twitter are calling the war orchestrators and their  propagandists out. Of course,they must all just be Russian trolls, da?

Booming Sochi – Debunking the $50-billion Olympic Expenditure Hoax

September 10, 2019

by Jon Hellevig for The Saker Blog

Booming Sochi – Debunking the $50-billion Olympic Expenditure Hoax

It’s a two and a half hour flight from Moscow to Sochi and when you land you are in another world. Sochi is absolutely unique and like no place else in Russia, a gem in its own right. Sheltered by the Caucasian mountains from the severe northern winds which sweep over most of Russia in wintertime and tempered by the Black Sea breezes the summer, Sochi has a pleasant climate all year round. While the other resorts to the west on the same Russian Black Sea coast may get winter peak colds of -10 degrees and below, Sochi could see morning frosts but daily temperatures rarely drop below +10. There’s a reason the climate is characterized as subtropical.

Leaving Moscow birch trees and Siberian pines behind, the traveler when he emerges from the airport is amazed to be welcomed by swaying palm trees. And, above the palms, you will behold the snowcapped peaks of the guarding mountains lit by the sun.

It’s not only the nature and climate that make Sochi special, the man-made environment is also unique for Russia and at the highest global levels. Russia went through some rough times in the 20th century, which set a mark on most its cities, but in Sochi there is not a trace of bygone Soviet decay. Everything is as neat as we would think of countries like Switzerland. At the same time, we see stunning new Miami-style high-rise buildings perfectly placed among the lush scenery. A lot of that marvel came courtesy of Vladimir Putin’s bold decision to transform Sochi into a world-class all-year tourist destination in the run-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Sochi hoax just won’t go away

I was reminded of this just recently, when in my research on the Russian economy I plowed through a couple of grant-fueled Western accounts of the economic history of the Putin years. One was Chris Miller’s book (2018) with the ridiculous title “Putinomics” (as unfit as they come for a book purporting to be academic research). The other one, a 2019 book from the Atlantic Council’s fiction department hack Anders Aslund – of Russian shock therapy fame – with the no less bizarre title “Russia’s Crony Capitalism.” In the case of Aslund and his employer, I am sure nobody would have expected anything else.

Miller unilaterally declared: “What is clear, however, is that a significant share of the funds invested [in Sochi] were wasted or stolen.” For evidence he refers to Navalny’s fraudulent pamphlet in addition to all the other propaganda clichés. (*1). In his book, Aslund in turn returns time after time – without any justification – to Sochi as an alleged hotbed of corruption and waste and one of the alleged original sins of Putin.

As these fellows cannot in the real Russia detect, no matter how hard they try, any Putinomics and not much of crony capitalism either, they just make it up. One of the favorite clichés such sham analysts resort to in order to back up their agenda-driven narratives about Russia is the supposed corruption and lavish spending in connection with the Olympic Games, trying to convince their readers that it was all nothing but “Putin’s vanity project.”

This line of attack was first developed in a desperate attempt to destroy the reputation of the Russian Olympic games even before they were held. Another topic on the anti-Sochi black agenda centered around the fake claims that gay people were supposedly persecuted in the country. And everything culminated just a couple of days before the games started in the wacky claim going viral in Western media that the Russians had built “twin-seat toilets,” toilets designed to have two people doing their business next to each other in one cubicle. In reality, the photos were from work in progress just before the partition walls and cubicle doors were being installed.

The Nemtsov report

The original raw material for the corruption and overspending narrative was delivered by late rabid opposition activists – derailed presidential hopeful from the anarchy of the 90s – Boris Nemtsov. It was a shamelessly forged report titled “Winter Olympics in the Subtropics: Corruption and Abuse in Sochi” (2013). (*2). Nemtsov as a sworn nemesis of Putin was a totally unreliable witness to start with, it was clear that he would have no intention to render an honest and fair account of what was going on. All he wanted to do was to destroy the Games and deny millions of Russians, whose lives he had already conspired to wreck in the 1990s, to take pride in the Olympic Games which symbolized the national awakening and resurrected prosperity. – But the Western press sucked it all up – of course, because they were part of it.

Nemtsov’s report was rehashed in January 2014, just before the games were set to open, by another frenzied one-cause anti-Putin activist, Alexey Navalny, who basically plagiarized Nemtsov’s report with an added portion of hyperbole. (*3). This with the predictable and orchestrated knee-jerk reactions of the combined Western media.

The central claim and giant falsehood in these reports was the contention that the $50 billion dollar budget for the Sochi region in the run-up to the Olympics would have been event-based, that is, supposedly been spent on organizing the Games with a zero residual value. Following this blatantly false argument, the critics then pushed the meme that the Sochi Olympics would have been by far the most expensive in history. In reality, the actual organizing costs of hosting the Games, including the construction of all the sporting facilities was $10.6 billion, while the resting $39 billion were investments in the Sochi urban infrastructure. This infrastructure spending was related to the Games only insofar as Putin had wanted to take the chance of upgrading at one fell swoop Sochi into a modern urban area and world-class resort, a first for Russia. It was an investment for the future. Real experts never doubted the wisdom of that decision, but today only the most diehard lying propagandist could argue against it, as it is shown in the present report.

The $10.6 billion spent on Sochi is perfectly in line with other recent Games. The cost of London 2012 Olympics was $13.9bn, and that is a city which even from before had all the sporting infrastructure you could wish for. Sochi had none. Vancouver in 2010 coughed up $8.9bn. Pyeongchang 2018 had a cost of $13.1bn.

With the $40 billion, which did not form part of the organizational costs, Sochi has indeed been transformed into a top destination for both winter and summer tourism as well as business travel with amazing congress facilities and a solid offering of high-class hotels.

This is what Sochi in reality got with that money

Let’s see what Sochi in reality got for that money in addition to the amazing sports facilities:

  • A state-of-the art modern airport
  • A new seaport for cargo, passenger liners, ferries and personal boats
  • Several new railway stations, among them the Adler station which is one of the biggest in Russia (not known for its miniscule rail stations
  • 367 km of roads and bridges
  • 967,400 square meters of road surface and pavements
  • 200 km of railways, with 22 tunnels, 54 bridges and several multi-level junctions
  • Two thermal power plants and one gas power plant with a combined capacity of 1200 MW, and four electric substations
  • 480 km of low-pressure gas pipelines
  • 550 km of high voltage power lines
  • A new water and wastewater treatment facility
  • Three new sewage treatment plants
  • A new graduate-level Russian International Olympic University
  • 60 new educational, cultural and health facilities
  • Two hospitals
  • A fascinating cluster of mountain villages built from scratch in the Krasnaya Polyana area (Gorky Gorod, Rosa Khutor, and others)
  • 25,000 additional hotel rooms, with 56 hotels rated four-star and above
  • A new theme park (Sochi Park)
  • A Formula 1 racing track (not an Olympic sport)
  • Renovation of a huge number of residential houses and public space
  • Barrier-free accessibility to public and commercial buildings for disabled persons
  • A 7-kilometer pedestrian and bicycle seaside boardwalk, Russia’s coolest along the newly created impressive beach down at the Olympic Village in the Imereti Lowlands

Most of the details for the above list were derived from Oleg Golubchikov’s marvelous report on the actual costs of the Sochi investments. (*4). Golubchikov provides transparent and detailed costs on each investment category with a division of the costs on organizational costs and investments in sporting facilities, and the Sochi urban infrastructure. Incidentally, he reaches the same grand total of $50 billion ($49.5bn, to be precise) for the combined costs as the propagandists announced, but with the difference that he shows where the funds in reality went. According to Golubchikov, the direct costs for holding the Games amounted to $10.75bn, whereas the infrastructure costs were $38.76bn. There is a break-down of both cost groups in his report, while the below table focuses on the infrastructure costs, which were the objects of the fabricated scandal.

This data on the costs and the infrastructure investments that they went into should convince anybody who is interested in the truth that there has absolutely been no squandering of funds and that $39 billion of the alleged “most expensive Olympics ever” in fact were investments in the Sochi urban infrastructure. Nevertheless, we will proceed below with exposing some more details, which should finally put the Nemtsov hoax to rest.

Nemtsov’s calculations just don’t hold water – and were never meant to

Nemtsov’s and Navalny’s propaganda pamphlets were masquerading as sound economic analysis based on global comparisons of alternative costs. Their findings then purported to show that Russia had built the Sochi objects significantly more expensively than global best practices would have it. As those reports are nothing but blatant propaganda and the calculations without merit, it would not make any sense to try to decipher them in detail. Just one example, concerning road and railroad works, the most expensive objects, will suffice more than enough.

I remind, 367 km of roads and bridges and 200 km of railways were constructed with 22 tunnels, 54 bridges and several multi-level junctions. These included, among other things, a new elevated road passing through the whole city of Sochi (the Kurortny Avenue bypass road), an extension of the Sochi ring road, and the combined railroad and highway connecting the sporting cluster down at the Adler coastal area with the skiing cluster up in the mountains at Krasnaya Polyana. The latter was by far the most expensive individual investment. The railroad and highway are each 48-kilometer long and include 10.3 km of railroad tunnels, 6.7 km of highway tunnels and 6.7km of escape tunnels, in addition to 40 highway and 37 railway bridges and overpasses with a combined length of 35 km.

The total cost for these were $10.3. In Nemtsov’s account the cost was $9.404. The difference may be explained by the additional stretch of railroad going from the Adler railway station to the airport. Nemtsov claimed that the expenditure on the road would normally buy 940 kilometers of highway. That is a highly dubious claim in itself, but most importantly, Nemtsov is here cutting corners and straightening the bends by comparing flatland highway with a mountainous road with tunnels, bridges and underpasses. But those were precisely the challenging and costly parts of the entire combined highway and railroad.

Instead of minding the Nemtsov antics, we can just look at a very transparent comparative project cost from the United States. In 2013, construction began on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel, a bored highway tunnel in the city of Seattle, Washington. It is a 2-mile (3.2 km) tunnel under Downtown Seattle. The construction cost was estimated at $3.3 billion. (*5).

Once again, this is a 3.2 km tunnel that cost $3.3 billion. But the Adler-Krasnaya Polyana highway had 6.7 km of automotive road tunnels, 10.3 km of railroad tunnels, 6.7km of escape tunnels, and 77 bridges and overpasses. Now, compare that with the total price of the merely 3.2-km Seattle tunnel. What can you say, glaring economy in favor of Russia here. With the Seattle cost level, the expenditure on tunnels alone would have been $17.5 billion, not counting the escape tunnels, bridges, overpasses and the surface parts of the 48-km four-lane road and 48-km railroad.

There is no reason to refrain from spelling it out: Nemtsov was not mistaken here, he was lying. His narrative is full of holes and deliberate attempts to confuse the reader. (He would not have fooled anybody, hadn’t it been for the orchestrated media propaganda). In his scandalous report, Nemtsov claimed that the combined “highway/railroad” had cost $9.404 billion. But immediately in the next paragraph, the activist dropped the railroad part and pretended that the expenditure was exclusively for the highway, to quote: “For 266 billion rubles, you could build 940 kilometers (and they only built 48 kilometers!) of high-quality four-lane highway in Russia…” (*6). Thus the 48 km railroad – which made up at least half of the cost – was magically made disappear from the comparison.

But that’s not all, next Nemtsov spirited away the tunnels, bridges and overpasses. Quote: “To estimate the cost of the 35-kilometer portion of the four-lane highway, we will use the average European cost – $10 million per kilometer. Thus, the price of the automobile road without the bridges and tunnels would be $350 million. One kilometer of high-speed railroad track, according to average European standards, is $45 million. Thus, the 25.7 kilometers of regular rail track should cost $1.156 billion.” – Here the railroad is back in the narrative, but the items that objectively carry a high cost – tunnels, bridges, overpasses – were all wiped out and never returned into Nemtsov’s mendacious narrative. Interestingly enough, there was that admission of those costly items being omitted. That is a common propaganda ploy, the fabulists mining their narratives with half-truths to gain tools to deflect criticism.

The above exposure of the Nemtsov bluff has clearly shown that the intention was just that: to bluff, to create a giant propaganda hoax aimed at spoiling the Games and sullying the reputation of Russia and its president.

There’s another giant transparent con right in the introduction of the Nemtsov travesty. Although he proceeds further down in the report to discuss the cost of the road building, Nemtsov pretends in the introduction that the $50 billion was all spent on sporting facilities. Quote: “With over $50 billion already spent, it is more expensive than the sports buildings of all 21 other Winter Olympics combined.” (*7). – He compares the cost for an airport, a seaport, several railway stations, power plants, power lines, gas pipelines, all those 367 km of roads and bridges, 25,000 hotel rooms, etc. etc. with previous costs on sports building. Give me a break and STFU.

Spinning the facts, he tells that the original budget for the sporting facilities and organization costs were $12 billion, but then allows (referring to the experience from previous Games) for regular Olympic cost overruns and inflation (from 2007 to 2013) and concludes that $24bn would have been the fair price. Therefore, Nemtsov fancies, the remaining $26bn would consists of nothing but “embezzlement and kickbacks.” (*8). This ridiculous postulation amounts to saying that the real price of organizing the Games and getting all that amazing infrastructure – of which only the Adler-Krasnaya Polyana combined highway and railroad had a fair cost, by global comparison, of at least $25bn – would have been only $24bn.

The Sochi Olympic expenditure also compares favorably with the Berlin Brandenburg Airport (in construction since 2006 and still unfinished, sic!) with a present price tag of 10.3 billion euro. (Approximately USD 13 billion). (*9).

A good gauge is also the approximately $3 billion that Toronto is planning to invest in just one subway station. (*10).

Enough of the fairy tales, now let’s return back to the real Sochi.

Tourists are Flocking to Sochi

All these infrastructure goodies obviously remained in Sochi after the Olympics. They were not dismantled and tucked away after the Games as the brothers-in-arm Nemtsov and Navalny and their cheerleaders in the Western media insinuated. They are there for the millions of visitors and the population of Sochi to enjoy. Notably, the population has grown with one fifth, up from the pre-Olympic 368 thousand to present day 450 thousand.

In the same period from 2013 to 2018, the number of visitors has nearly doubled from 3.8 million to levels around 7 million. It is difficult to pinpoint an exact figure for visitors as many stay in private accommodation, rented or owned, but that must be the level. A foolproof indicator is the number of passengers travelling through Sochi airport. It has grown 150% from 2.4 million in 2013 to 6.3 million in 2018. (Note, both arrivals and departures are counted in airport statistics). A further 10% growth has been reported for first half of 2019.

Obviously, this tremendous growth in population and visitors would not have been possible without the $40 billion investment in Sochi’s infrastructure.

It has been established that 25,000 additional hotel rooms where built for the Olympics, of these 12,000 in 56 new world class hotels rated four-stars or above. This practically doubled the pre-Olympic capacity to a total of 55,000 rooms. Before the Olympic boom, Sochi had only one single hotel conforming to international standards, a Gazprom owned Radisson establishment with 200 rooms.

There’s more devastating news in store for the propagandists. The Olympic constructions did not result in any overcapacity, far from it, on the contrary the number of hotel rooms has significantly further risen since then. Reporting on the results of completing the new mandatory star rating procedures for hotels, the Sochi city administration told in February 2019, that the city now possessed a total capacity of 84 thousand rooms combined in 2,387 hotels, guest houses and hostels. (*12). On top of that comes the huge number of private accommodation.

This means that there has been a major shift towards more value-added visitors. With this total capacity, Sochi was ready to accommodate 200 thousand guests simultaneously in one day during the FIFA football world cup.

For sake of comparison, Helsinki (Finland) has built only 63 hotels with a combined 9,373 rooms in its entire history. (*12). Sochi then built 5 times more in just a couple of years before and after the Olympics than one of Europe’s major capital cities managed in over 100 years.

Interestingly, due to good bookings, the mountain resort hotels also get guests in the summer, and the coastal hotels in the winter.

Western wishful predictions of doom and gloom failed to materialize

Right after the Olympic games, the Western media kicked off a follow-up campaign designed to convince that all the investments actually had been in vain. Sochi is “Deserted and already falling apart,” The Daily Mail gleefully declared. (*13). A “ghost town,” announced the spooks at The Guardian (*14). “A $51 billion ‘ghetto’: Extraordinary images show Vladimir Putin’s Sochi Olympic park lying desolate and abandoned one year after most expensive games in history,” more lies from London. (*15). I cannot even get worked up about these claims — they are so ludicrously flawed — just what one would expect from the London fiction factory.

As there simply was nothing real to complain about, what the Western reporters did was to go up to the mountain winter sport cluster in summertime to report that no skiers were spotted, as the CNN did (*16), and then descend onto the coastal beach resort in wintertime (*17) to share their amazement over the empty beaches, as The Daily Mail did. (*18). The winter is mild down there, rarely cooler than 10°C in daytime, but it hardly qualifies for a beach season.

As post-Olympic Sochi really has been a resounding success, this line of attack is largely dead in the media. My impression is that the only ones who are trying to rehash the scandals are Moscow based correspondents of Western media who want to take a long weekend off and travel over to Sochi to enjoy some nice days in the sun during the Moscow winter gloom. It’s a surefire trick to get your employer to pay for it by promising a report about the “post-Olympic decay of Putin’s vanity project.” But even so, they seem not to be able to deliver, as for example was the case with Marjo Nakki from Yle, Finland’s state broadcasting corporation. She enjoyed her free meal but really had nothing to complain about. (*19).

For those who are interested to see how the real Sochi looks like, I refer to an article which I wrote back in 2017. It has a lot of pictures displaying the beauty of Sochi. Here is the link https://russia-insider.com/en/society/sochi-sunny-side-reality/ri4658

White Elephants Live and Kicking

What about the claims that the Olympic sporting arenas stand out like white elephants – unfinished, useless and abandoned? Already a few days before the games even took off, Voice of America declared that “Sochi Facilities Will Not Be Used After Olympics.” (*20). Alas, this wish did not come true; far from it.

These sporting facilities are surrounded on a large territory by hotels, convention centers, and various clusters of housing developments originally built to accommodate the Olympic teams, support staff, organizers and media. The result is an extraordinarily vibrant residential and recreational area with a gorgeous beach on one side and snowcapped mountains on the other. This area will for sure provide for some of the best quality of life in Russia, and a good one by any global standards.

And the venues are bustling with activity. One of the ice rinks is the busy home rink of the new Sochi Hockey Club, debuting in Russia’s prestigious KHL league right after the Olympics in 2014. The club draws between six to ten thousand spectators per game. Another ice rink is being used for various figure skating activities and ice shows. A third one has been converted into a Russian central facility for child health and sports activities. The speed skating arena was turned into a tennis center with nine courts under roof and 15 open-air courts. The Fisht Stadium, the central stadium of the Sochi Olympics, which hosted the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, was fast reconstructed to serve as one of football stadiums for the FIFA World Cup in Russia 2018. In 2014 Sochi hosted its first annual Formula One race on a street circuit built around these venues of the Sochi Olympic Park.

The sporting venues and adjacent hotels and congress centers have also been busy with continuously hosting one or another top level conference or summit.

President Putin has practically transformed Sochi into the country’s summer capital, where he frequently meets with foreign dignitaries during the sunnier half of the year. This also tallies with Russia’s pivot to Asia as Sochi is much closer to those countries.

Real Estate

Sochi saw a lot of real estate development – not included in the famous $50 billion price tag – across the city in the years leading up to the Olympic Games. After the sharp devaluation of the Russian ruble in 2014/2015 in the wake of the Western-imposed sanctions and the decline of the oil price, the Sochi real estate prices initially declined in in dollar terms. But since the decline the prices have surged by more than 100 to 200%. Premium category apartments with a sea view currently sell at a level of five to ten thousand dollars per square meter.

Concluding remarks

The present report should serve to convince the skeptic that without even a glimmer of doubt the bulk of the much touted Sochi $50 billion investment budget went towards a regional transformation and a thorough infrastructural overhaul of Sochi with a lasting impact. The reports about vanity spending and corruption can be firmly put down to malicious propaganda aimed at destroying Russia’s and its presidents external image, wipe out national support for the Games, and destabilize Russia’s political system.

Now, we are not saying that there would not be any legitimate concerns about the Sochi spending, there always are in connection with such huge projects, in all countries of the world. And while Russian law enforcement and the president have addressed some of them, the so-called opposition and their foreign cheerleaders have done nothing to expose any kinds of real misallocation of funds, solely concentrating on an entirely fictious propaganda narrative.

In addition to the impressive data evidencing the permanent economic boost that those investments delivered to Sochi, we may look at this from the point of view of the national economy. After the Sochi investments and the reunification of Crimea with Russia, the nation’s current account surplus got a $20 billion boost in form of a much lower capital outflow on foreign travel. In 2013, Russians spent $53 billion on travel abroad, but by 2018 the figure was down at $34 billion. Obviously, not all that money saved from foreign travel was spent in Sochi and Crimea, but these places sure made an enormous contribution towards it.

Finally, let’s see how miniscule the alleged scandal would be in an international comparison, even if the whole propaganda lie had been true. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the United States spent on entirely murky bailouts of the country’s banks and largest corporations 475 billion on the federal TARP bailout program. In addition to that the Federal Reserve’s own bailout program regaled the banks and corporations with $1.2 trillion in the immediate aftermath of the crisis (*21) without any oversight in blatant corruption schemes. (*22). These were followed by more venal schemes in form of Fed’s program to pump $3.5 trillion of virtually interest free money to those private entities belonging to the American financial aristocracy. (*23). Those funds were further contributed by the highly contentious $787 billion Obama stimulus package. Independent analysts have shown that, Obama’s stimulus package resulted in nothing else but “waste, fraud and abuse as well as highly questionable projects.” (*24).

I bring up the American corruption here, because the fabricated Sochi spending scandal was aimed at portraying Russia as a particularly corrupt country. Without any evidence and distorted facts and outright lies the propaganda media indeed managed to convince a substantial majority of the Western populations that this was the case. Therefore, I find it very opportune to remind where the real corruption and waste resides. After all, those people, and types like above referenced Chris Miller and Anders Aslund, especially designed their narratives to convince the public how a supposed byzantine Russian government was the epitome of crony capitalism in comparison with the shining city upon a hill that their America is supposed to be.

FOOTNOTES:

*1. Chris Miller (2018). Putinomics. Pages 139 and 140.

*2. Boris Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk (2013). Winter Olympics in the Subtropics: Corruption and Abuse in Sochi” (2013). https://www.putin-itogi.ru/cp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Report_ENG_SOCHI-2014_preview.pdf

*3. Alexey Navalny (2014). Sochi 2014: The Comprehensive Report. https://sochi.fbk.info/en/report/

*4. Oleg Golubchikov (2017): From a sports mega-event to a regional megaproject: the Sochi winter Olympics and the return of geography in state development priorities, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19406940.2016.1272620

*5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaskan_Way_Viaduct_replacement_tunnel

*6. Nemtsov report, pages 23 – 25.

*7. Nemtsov report, page 6.

*8. Nemtsov report, page 6 and 7.

*9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Brandenburg_Airport

*10. https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/nov/24/3bn-subway-station-toronto-alaska-bridge-pyongyang-hotel-valencia-city-arts-sciences

*11. https://ria.ru/20190219/1551082088.html

*12. https://www.stat.fi/til/matk/2018/12/matk_2018_12_2019-02-07_tau_005_fi.html

*13. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2589194/How-Sochi-ghost-town-just-weeks-Olympics.html

*14. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/dec/17/sochi-olympics-legacy-city-feels-like-a-ghost-town

*15. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2941216/Extraordinary-images-Vladimir-Putin-s-Sochi-Olympic-park-lying-desolate-abandoned.html

*16. https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2014/10/13/bizview-davies-rus-ghosts-of-sochi.cnn

*17. https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2014/10/13/bizview-davies-rus-ghosts-of-sochi.cnn

*18. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2589194/How-Sochi-ghost-town-just-weeks-Olympics.html

*19. https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-10380886

*20. https://www.voanews.com/content/expert-worry-sochi-facilities-will-not-be-used-after-olympics/1844282.html

*21. https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikecollins/2015/07/14/the-big-bank-bailout/#482128b32d83

*22. A fantastic description about the bailout and Federal Reserve quantitative easing frauds and corruption schemes is provided by David Stockman in his The Great Deformation (2013).

*23. https://www.awaragroup.com/blog/with-global-recession-looming-russia-looks-strong/

*24. https://www.judicialwatch.org/corruption-chronicles/more-stimulus-fraud-waste/

 

New World Order in Meltdown, But Russia Stronger Than Ever

New World Order in Meltdown, But Russia Stronger Than Ever

August 30, 2019

by Jon Hellevig for The Saker Blog

Last week was full of portentous events. Only somebody who has not been awake for the last few years will fail to realize how these at first sight unconnected events are part of the same matrix. There was the ever louder talk in mainstream media about an approaching global recession, inverted yield curves and the negative yields, which tell us that the Western financial system is basically in coma and kept alive only by generous IV injections of central bank liquidity. By now it has dawned on people that the central bankers acting as central planners in a command economy and printing money (aka quantitative easing) to fuel asset bubbles are about to wipe off the last vestiges of what used to be a market economy.

Then we saw Trump taking new twitter swipes at China in his on-and-off “great trade deal” and the stock markets moving like a roller coaster in reaction to each new twitter salvo. Also, we had both Trump and Macron sweet talking about getting Russia back and again renaming their club G8. Last Tuesday at a G7 presser in Biarritz, the Rothschild groomed Macron took it one step further opening up about the reasons why they all of a sudden longed for friendship with Russia: “We are living the end of Western hegemony.” In the same series, Britain’s new government under Boris Johnson was telling his colleagues in Biarritz that he is now decisively going for a no-deal Brexit, after which he went back to London and staged a coup d’état by suspending parliament to ensure no elected opposition interfered with it.

Perhaps the weirdest news to crown it all, came from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where the Western central bankers were holed up for their annual retreat. The president of Bank of England Mark Carney shocked everybody (at least those not present) by announcing that the US dollar was past its best-before and should be replaced with something the central bankers have up their sleeves.

The New World Order is in its death throes

What these events have in common is that they amount to an admission that the globalist New World Order project in its present form is dead, or at least in its death throes. It has bumped its head against an impenetrable Sino-Russian wall of resistance. The heated totalitarian propaganda against Russia since 2001 (when the NWO realized that Putin wasn’t their man); regime change and color revolutions in neighboring countries; attempts at Maidan style coups in Moscow; and finally the sanctions since 2014 were key to the Anglo-Zionist empires strategy. They needed to take over either China or Russia to gain absolute world hegemony. Taking over either one, they would have checkmated the remaining one, and after that the entire world. They rightly deemed Russia as the weaker piece and went all out in that direction. The NWO wanted to take advantage of Russia’s weakness in form of its Western minded comprador class and a shell-shocked liberal intelligentsia (dominating media, culture and business, just like in Hong Kong, BTW), which is constitutional uncapable of thinking with their own brains to liberate themselves from Soviet era stereotypes (“Soviet Union/Russia bad, West good”).

They then figured that economic and cultural sanctions (e.g. Olympic ban) coupled with doubling down on the propaganda would break the country. Luckily, the Russian narod, the common people saw through it all and would not play along with the enemy. At the same time, Russia paraded its resurrected military in Crimea and Syria as well as its formidable new hypersonic doomsday weapons. The military option to take over Russia was not in the cards any longer.

Russian economy from strength to strength

And the Russian economy. Believing their own propaganda, they had got that totally wrong. Endlessly repeating their own self-serving talking points they must have truly fancied that Russia’s economy amounted to nothing else than export of fossil fuels, that “Russia’s economy is the size of Holland’s,” that “Russia does not produce anything,” and that Russia was “nothing but a gas station with nukes” (somehow managing to ignore the significance of the nukes part). I seriously believe, that the propaganda had become so complete that the Western leaders and the intelligence people actually had come to adapt their own propaganda as the truth. What is for sure, is that all Western media, including what should be the most respected business journals and all those think tanks, had not published one honest appraisal of the Russian economy in 15 years. Every single piece I read over the years had clearly been written with the aim to denigrate Russia’s achievements and economic development. Nowhere to be found were reports on how Putin by 2013 had totally overhauled the economy transforming Russia into the most self-sufficient diversified major country in the world with all the capabilities of the foremost industrial powers. In fact, I tend to think that even the US presidents from Bush to Obama were fed in their intelligence briefings cooked up fake reports about the Russian economy and the whole nation. Actually, I would go one step further. I bet that the CIA itself in the end believed the propaganda it had given birth to. (It has been said that at some point the genuine Russia analysts had all been dismissed or demoted and replaced with a team specializing in anti-Russian propaganda).

But actually all the data was there in plain view. I myself took the trouble to compile a report on the real conditions of Russia’s economy fresh at the onset of the 2014 crisis. In the report, I set out to show that Russia indeed had modernized and diversified its economy; that it had a vibrant manufacturing industry in addition to its energy and minerals sector; and that its budget revenues and economy at large were not at all as dependent on oil and gas as it was claimed. Among other things, we pointed out that Russia’s industrial production had by then grown more than 50% (between 2000 and 2013) while having undergone a total modernization at the same time. In the same period, production of food had surged by 100% and exports had skyrocketed by almost 400%, outdoing all major Western countries. Even the growth of exports of other than oil and gas products had been 250%.

The gist of the study https://www.awaragroup.com/blog/putin-midterm-interim-results/ may be summarized with this quote from it: “The crisis-torn economy battered by years of robber capitalism and anarchy of the 1990’s, which Putin inherited in 2000, has now reached sufficient maturity to justify a belief that Russia can make the industrial breakthrough that the President has announced.” Events have borne out this insight. And it is therefore that Russia won the sanctions battle.

The report represented an appeal to the Western leaders to give up on their vain hope of destroying Russia through their sanctions and risking nuclear war at it. Russia was invincible even in this respect. For that purpose I expressly added this missive in the introduction to the report:

“We strongly believe that everyone benefits from knowing the true state of Russia’s economy, its real track record over the past decade, and its true potential. Having knowledge of the actual state of affairs is equally useful for the friends and foes of Russia, for investors, for the Russian population – and indeed for its government, which has not been very vocal in telling about the real progress. I think there is a great need for accurate data on Russia, especially among the leaders of its geopolitical foes. Correct data will help investors to make a profit. And correct data will help political leaders to maintain peace. Knowing that Russia is not the economic basket case that it is portrayed to be would help to stave off the foes from the collision course with Russia they have embarked on.”

A follow-up report https://www.awaragroup.com/blog/russian-economy-2014-2016-the-years-of-sanctions-warfare/ of June 2017 covering the sanctions years 2014 – 2016, showed how Russia went from strength to strength never mind the Western attempts at isolation. This report stressed that Russia’s economy had now become the most diversified in the world making Russia the most self-sufficient country on this earth.

In this report we exposed the single biggest error of the propaganda driven Russia analysis. This was the ridiculous belief that Russia supposedly was totally dependent on oil and gas just because those commodities made up the bulk of the country’s exports. Confusing exports with the total economy, they had foolishly confused the share of oil and gas in total exports – which was and remains at the level of 60% – with the share of these commodities of the total economy. In 2013 the share of oil and gas of Russia’s GDP was 12% (today 10%). Had the “experts” cared to take a closer look they would have realized that on the other side of the equation Russia’s imports were by far the lowest (as a share of GDP) of all major countries. The difference here is that while Russia does not export a great deal of manufactured goods, it produces by far a bigger share of those for the domestic market than any other country in the whole world. Taking the 60% of exports to stand for the whole economy was how the “Russia produces nothing” meme was created.

Finally in a November 2018 report https://www.awaragroup.com/blog/russian-economy-strong-and-stable/#chapter2, I could declare that Russia had won hands down the sanctions war having emerged from it as a quadruple superpower: industrial superpower, agricultural superpower, military superpower and geopolitical superpower.

Macron et co. realizes that Russia actually is a superpower

These facts have now finally dawned on certain key stakeholders of the globalist regime can be discerned from the fact that they have tasked their handpicked puppet president Macron to make up with Russia. Trump has got the same assignment, which is evident from the siren calls of the two leaders in Putin’s address. Both want to invite Putin to their future G7-8 get-togethers.

As it was said, Macron went as far as unilaterally capitulating and declaring the decline of the West. He went on to spell out that the reason for this spectacular geopolitical about-face was the rise of the Beijing – Moscow (de facto) alliance that has caused a terminal shift on the world scene. Curiously, he also openly blamed the errors of the United States for the dire state of affairs pointing out that “not just the current administration” were to be blamed. No doubt, the foremost of these errors, Macron had in mind, was the alienation of Russia and pushing the country into the warm embrace of China. It is quite clear, that this is what they want to remedy, snatch the bear back from the dragon. Fortunately, that won’t happen. Good if there will be rapprochement and good if the West will try, but after all what Russia has learnt by now it will not sell out on China under any circumstances. I think Putin and the Russian powers that be have clearly opted for a multipolar world order. That is definitely not what Macron’s and Trump’s employers have in mind but let them try.

Until Trump took office, the strategy of the US regime had been to pursue only Russia in its geopolitical ambitions, but by then it had dawned on them that Russia was invincible especially in the de facto alliance with China. In a sign of desperation, the empire then opened big time another front with China. Essentially going from bad to worse.

The world order is being shaken like never before

“The world order is being shaken like never before…”, that’s another quote from Macron. Obviously, it refers to the military and geopolitical strengths of the Sino-Russian alliance, but certainly also to the economic shifts as the West has lost – and will keep losing – its economic domination. This brings us back to Mark Carney of Bank of England and his unprecedented attack on the US dollar (*1) https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-08-24/why-mark-carney-thinks-dollar-can-no-longer-be-worlds-reserve-currency arguing that it was time to end its global reserve currency status. As one option Carney brought up that the major Western central banks would instead issue a digital cryptocurrency. That is to say, a NWO currency controlled by the central banks. That would effectively mean the replacement of the Federal Reserve cartel with a cartel of the Western central banks (the Fed obviously being a part of it). That’s yet one step further north from any kind of democratic control and a giant step towards world government.

What could possibly have prompted such a radical US hegemony puncturing idea to be put forward? One reason obviously is that the Western economies really are in that extreme critical condition that more and more analysts caution about. (We shall look at the economic facts further down). There’s a very real possibility that we will be hit by a doomsday recession. What’s sure is that Carney’s bizarre speech could possibly not have occurred in a normal economic environment (any more than Macron’s admission that the Western hegemony is done with). According to Zerohedge (*2) https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-08-26/things-will-never-be-same-again-here-are-20-questions-central-banks-admit-defeat Financial Times, the party organ of the globalist elite, admitted as much in its report on the Jackson Hole meeting. The central bankers “acknowledged they had reached a turning point in the way they viewed the global system. They cannot rely on the tools they used before the financial crisis to shape the economic environment, and the US can no longer be considered a predictable actor in economic or trade policy — even though there is no imminent replacement for the US dollar in sight.” There was an effective admission that the central bankers had run out of tricks to pull the economies out of the everything-bubble mess, not to mention the looming doomsday recession. According to FT, Carney went as far as flashing the war card saying: “past instances of very low rates have tended to coincide with high risk events such as wars, financial crises, and breaks in the monetary regime.” On the one hand this can be seen as an admission on how deeply tormented they are about the financial situation and what could happen when it comes crashing down. On the other hand, it can be seen as a sales pitch, “only we can fix it, trust us, give us a carte blanche.” Or more probably, both.

Note from above Carney saying: “the US can no longer be considered a predictable actor in economic or trade policy.” Bank of England President here directly attacking President Trump.

And just a couple of days later William Dudley an ex-president of New York Federal Reserve Bank (the most influential of the 12 federal reserve banks that comprise the Federal Reserve System) followed up on a direct attack on Trump. But as they say about spies, there are no ex-spies, and I would think the same applies for the global financial elite. And yes indeed, Dudley is a card carrying member of the Council of Foreign Relations. Dudley had penned an op-ed for Bloomberg titled “The Fed Shouldn’t Enable Donald Trump.” (*3) https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-08-28/member-elite-bill-dudley-could-open-can-worms-quite-staggering , where he openly lobbies for the Fed to deliberately damage the economy in order to neutralize the policies (namely trade wars) of the sitting president and prevent his reelection chances by willfully ruining the economy.

One thing is for sure, the elite is desperate and in serious disarray. Very probable that the elite is split, too. It seems as if there were two globalist factions competing with each other and wanting to follow vastly different strategies. One faction supports Trump and the other is against him. Possibly, one that wants to do things with force and another that wants to gain by stealth. That could be Pentagon and the military-industrial complex vs. the financial elite, who also owns the media. My argument does not hinge on the veracity of those division lines, but that some rupture exists among the elites must be taken for granted, otherwise Trump would have been ousted by now with all that pressure on him.

To summarize this introduction. The Western world is in turmoil: the previous overwhelming geopolitical domination is gone and over with; military solutions against the main adversaries – China and Russia – are off the books; hybrid wars against them have failed; China and Russia are economically stronger than ever, too strong for the adversary; and to boot the domestic Western economies are in extraordinary bad shape, risking a depression of epic proportions.

Further down in this report, I will look at the one aspect of the question I am best equipped to handle, namely the economy. I will outline just in how bad shape the Western debt-fueled casino economies are. Having that as the background, I will then show how surprisingly strong the Russian economy is, at least in comparison with the Western gambling nations. Most importantly, Russia is virtually debtless, and that’s really the clue to survival in this extraordinary economic environment. In addition to the solid finances, Russia has other things going for it, too, as we will see below. I will not provide comparative data on China. One reason for that is, that China is not an economic risk. China does not have the debt problem that it is frequently touted in Western press to have. China, as the world’s number one export country, would of course take a hit in a serious global crisis, but that would not kill the economy. Although, China is the biggest exporter, there has been a shift from export-led growth towards domestic investment and consumption. The share of exports of goods and services in the country’s GDP was by 2018 down to 19.5%, half of the 2006 peak of 36%. On the contrary, the Chinese economy would stay vivid and therefore also help to sustain Russia’s exports.

I may add as one more piece of background, that it is my firm belief that the approaching economic disaster has long been evident to the central bankers and the globalist elite decision makers. Most likely the game plan was to establish the absolute world hegemony – which they not long ago thought was within early reach – and then after that deal with the debts as they saw fit as democratic dissent would not matter a bit anymore by then. That’s why they felt confident in building up the asset bubbles to carry them over to the final solution. Reminds me about a story told about Moscow’s so-called Khrushchyovka tenement buildings. These are low-cost three- to five-storied houses built quickly and cheap during the Khrushchev era to address the dire housing shortages of the 1960s. According to the story, the planners knew they would serve only for a few decades, but that would not matter all that much because by that time there would be Communism and everything would be perfect anyway. No Communism materialized, but presently the Moscow government under Mayor Sobyanin has initiated a program to tear them all down and erect new buildings where flats with title will be given for free to house the 1.5 million present residents of those buildings slated for replacement. – Well, that’s sort of Communism, isn’t it? – This kind of wishful thinking must have kept the globalist elite going, too. Unfortunately for the dreamers, though, their plans hit a snag in form of Russia and China.

Central bank fueled asset bubbles

Russia is low in debt, but you can’t say the same about the US and other Western nations. And that debt really is what got the world in the present mess and brought it teetering on the brink of financial collapse. Since the late 80s, the US central bank, the Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan developed an addiction to cure any downward tick on Wall Street with easy credit, eventually requiring after every downturn ever bigger central bank liquidity injections to keep the stock indices on a growth curve. Greenspan was experimenting with a policy aimed at creating a “wealth effect” aka “trickle-down.” The idea being that Wall Street bankers and big corporations be stuffed with all the free money they can swallow for the purpose of keeping stock and bond prices high. The theoretical frame told that doing so something would eventually trickle down to the real economy, and everybody would live happily ever after. After stocks and bonds, Greenspan’s wealth effect policy was addressed to inflate home prices and all real estate with that. That was the road that eventually led to the 2008 subprime loan crisis, which took down Lehman Brothers and then all of Wall Street and the whole global economy.

But Wall Street recovered soon, because Greenspan’s successor Ben Bernanke had set forth to blow up an even bigger asset bubble. And the Europeans followed suit. The Fed fueled the market frenzy with creating money out of thin air (aka quantitative easing) in favor of governments, banks and corporations to the tune of $3.5 trillion in the decade following the 2008 collapse.

The European Central Bank has done the same for Europe in volumes more than 2.5 trillion euro to date. All the other Western central banks joined the gambling by flooding the markets with fiat money at same levels relatively speaking.

But anyway this astronomic leverage and the humongous budget deficits of the Western countries didn’t get the real economy anywhere. They have blown up asset bubbles of phantasmagorical proportions with preciously little trickle-down. Since the pre-crash peak in October 2007, the broadest US stock index (Wilshire 5000) has gained 95% (on top of covering the nearly 60% crash from in between). In the same 12-year period industrial production (manufacturing, mining, energy, utilities) has grown only 5% combined over all those years. (*4) https://www.deepstatedeclassified.com/heres-what-happens-when-the-fed-cuts-rates/ Deduct – the in itself lossmaking – shale oil and gas and there is barely no growth left in the 12 years. In fact, the US manufacturing sector was in June still 1.6% below the pre-crisis peak in December 2007. (*5) https://www.deepstatedeclassified.com/industrial-production-is-punk/ So we have a 5% gain in the most important part of the real economy vs. 95% in stock market gambling. The absurdity of the stock market growth is further evidenced by the gap between growth of real final sales and stock valuations since 2007 peak. Since then, the former has grown on an average 1.6% per year, while the stock market has delivered annualized growth at levels of 15%. Total industrial production share of the GDP in the US has sunk to 18%. (For comparison, the figure for Russia was 32% and growing.)

Trickle-down, anyone?

It would be false to claim there has not been any trickle-down at all. Millions of people have kept their jobs because of it. But at the same time they have had their real wages squeezed and the overwhelming majority have seen their standards of living drop. Only massive loads of consumer credits and ultra-cheap mortgages have kept up an illusion of superficial prosperity among the middle classes. This debt-fueled prosperity and it’s cursory result, the artificial real estate asset bubble will prove a wolf in sheep’s clothing when the everything-bubble bursts.

There’s been another form of trickle-down, too, a much more real and actually beneficial one. By creating the debt-fueled illusion of prosperity, the Western central banks have actually subsidized China, Russia and all of the emerging world as they have flushed their export goods on the global markets where the Western nations have picked it all up on borrowed money. Thanks for that, though. At the same time, that has driven production costs up in the West with the consequence that their own industries have been priced out.

The humongous borrowings fail to produce GDP growth

Every year since the last bout of the crisis in 2008, growth of debt in the national economies of each Western country has far exceeded the growth of economic output measured as GDP. Below chart shows just how bad it has been in the US.

The debt and GDP growth curves started to diverge in the late 70s, but from 2000 debt has spiraled out of control delivering preciously little incremental GDP. Deduct the wasteful debt and wasteful spending and there would be no growth whatsoever.

Not only has there been no real GDP growth but even the nominal growth has to a crucial extent been provided for by means of the enormous government borrowings. We see from below table that that in each year from 2008 to 2017 even the nominal GDP growth has been less than the growth of government debt, with 2015 and 2015 as the only exceptions when they were on par.

In the peak crisis years 2008 and 2009, debt growth was a staggering 5.7 and 6.3 times that of GDP growth.

The debt game has been equally miserable all over the West, perhaps with the only exception of Germany, who has wisely refrained from participating, even when egged on by liberal economists calling Germany’s more prudent policy unfair to the gambling nations. Below chart shows how much more the Western governments have borrowed than produced economic growth. The chart covers years 2004 to 2013, but the trend has been the same ever since. GDP growth has been vastly less than the growth of the colossal debtberg.

Note Russia there as the shining exception.

Below chart ranks countries according to their debt burden relative to GDP. And again you see how debtless Russia is compared with the squandering nations.

These charts concerned only government debt, when we add private debt to it, the picture is doubly worse. From the point of view of a national economy it really doesn’t matter in which form the excess debt expands, public or private. In fact, on an average in the West the situation with household debt is equally dire. Below chart tells you just how bad. And again note Russia as the one shining exception.

And it’s no better with corporations, which have throughout the last decade been enjoying mindboggling levels of central bank largesse in form of virtually unlimited interest-free financing. For example, compared to earnings, US bond issuers are about 50% more leveraged now than in 2007. (*6) https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-08-24/corporate-debt-risk-flash-crash

Finally, there is the black hole containing trillions and trillions of bankers derivative risks. Deutsche Bank – which was recently placed in emergency care – alone is said to have 49 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives. These risks alone could take down the whole global financial system. (*7) https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-07-20/bank-49-trillion-derivatives-exposure-melting-down-our-eyes

First no real interest, then on to negative yields

One of the many deadly side effects of the central bankers’ practice on gambling with the national economies is that they first eliminated real interest rates (pushed rates below inflation) and then doubled down on the destruction of sound economic principles by cooking up a system with negative yielding bonds (bonds which yield below zero). By now $30 trillion of the $60 trillion US bond market yield below inflation (no real interest) and nearly $17 trillion worth of bonds are in negative yield territory. That’s mostly made up by sovereign debt of Japan and European governments (12 at the moment) but recently the mass of negative yielding corporate bonds has also doubled to $1.2 trillion. Half of the $5 trillion worth of European government bonds sport a negative yield as well as 20% of European investment grade corporate bonds.

Inflation risk

Normally, this kind of excess liquidity artificially put on the market (aka money printing) would have led to high inflation if not hyperinflation. Several factors have helped to keep prices in check. First, it needs to be pointed out, though, that inflation is actually a lot higher than what the government reports. This has been pretty convincingly proven in the case of the United States. (See, for example, (*8) https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-08-17/cpi-constantly-understates-inflation-why-will-lead-catastrophe?fbclid=IwAR0byF4lMciG77ItFvkFhftV9qEnkXAuKaj9oYLmnZn5c8C4ds4E8mie7rk). Official statistics may not see it, but people sure feel it.

Secondly, the asset price bubbles in real estate and financial markets in fact represent inflation, it’s just not officially recorded as such. As it is only the 10% (and increasingly, the 1%) who get the money, they spend it on the stuff that counts for them, stocks and real estate. Keeping their loot offshore also helps to dampen inflation at home. The squeeze on the middle classes and stagnating wages, is sadly an important factor in keeping inflation down. Ordinary people just can’t afford to buy.

One should also note, that resulting from the illusionary debt-fueled prosperity and its effect on keeping the local Western currencies artificially high, there has actually been an inflation in wages and production costs, but only in relative terms in comparison with the emerging world. This in turn has led to further offshoring of manufacturing jobs.

A crucial factor, which in the crazy money printing environment has kept consumer goods from hyperinflating has been imports from the emerging Asia and especially China. Huge growth of the Chinese manufacturing industry coupled with massive influx of cheap labor from the rural countryside into the cities enabled China for a couple of decades to constantly increase its exports to the US and Europe and these countries to keep prices down. (Including by domestic industries having to lower prices in competition). With the Trump trade wars and dramatically increasing protectionism, this will change. And it could get very ugly.

Finally, there is an important consideration that few if anyone seem to understand. That is the fact that the US and other Western countries have been able to print the stupendous amounts of money while keeping rates down and without the currency values crashing only because they enjoy local currency monopolies in their respective territories. The USD has of course been enjoying a global monopoly, but that is fast fading. All the other factors mentioned above (and several other ones), have enabled to prop up and prolong these currency monopolies, but there is a limit to everything. In the coming recession, I would expect some of the lesser currencies to lose their monopoly trust and that would shatter the position of the bigger currencies USD and Euro and force them to raise interest rates. I have earlier written more in detail about this in a report titled How the Dollar and Euro Monopolies Destroyed the Real Market Economy. https://www.awaragroup.com/blog/dollar-euro-monopolies-destroyed-market-economy/

The below chart suggests that the Western countries are already on the way to lose their respective currency monopolies. The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) now have a combined GDP (measured in PPP, which is the only correct way to measure the relative size of national economies) larger than not only the G7 countries, but the US and Eurozone economies combined.

At its foundation in 1973, the G7 countries had a combined GDP PPP of 50% of the world economy, by today it is down to 30%. In the same time the nominal GDP share of world economy has crashed from 80% to 40%. The currency monopolies came with the economic superiority, it is therefore only natural that with the economic domination goes the currency domination, too. If we haven’t reached the tipping point yet, then that will happen within 5 to 10 years.

In summary, everything else unchanged, the risk of inflation picking up with just a few percentage points could have the entire Western financial systems coming crashing down due to the pressure on interest rates growing. The Fed and the ECB are continuously speaking about their inflation targets and how they want to pump the markets with more liquidity to raise inflation. There could yet be a big surprise in store for them. Interest rates as such could also be the primary trigger (even without inflation first rising), as nations would have to protect their currencies and attract financing for their colossal debtbergs.

Must add as a P.S. that the incipient flight to gold might well be one of the trigger events for those currencies to lose their monopolies. (Gold price is up 20% since May).

Deleveraging will come

These massive borrowings have delivered nothing of tangible value. Now, when the party is nearly over all there is left are the debt bubbles that have hit the roof. The real values of all the assets below bear no relation to the money that went into inflating the balloons. What’s left is economic hardship for 80% of the people, a crumbling infrastructure and simmering social tensions.

The debt saturation point has been reached, therefore this time it will be different, the central bankers have lost their magic wand and won’t be able to renew the debt binge and extend it with one more decade. Instead, there will be a day of reckoning. Governments and corporations will have to put their act together and let the market weed out the failed entities. Those who cannot carry the debt, will have to shed it. There will be bloodbath with defaults, bankruptcies and massive unemployment. – Perhaps a revolution here and there. – There will be no choice, deleveraging must happen.

Now, whether this system will come crashing down or just slowly die as it trundles downhill will not matter all that much. It will eventually die either way. Most people would prefer the slow motion option, but only with the crash would a cure come. Whatever, it has become increasingly difficult to stave off the crash and this time around, the financial markets would take the real economy down with them big time.

The impressive figures on Russia

The question then is, who would be left standing? Naturally, those who are less leveraged. Now, scroll back to have a new look at the above charts on government and household debt. Find the position of Russia there? That’s right. Russia is the country with – by far – the least debt, both public and private. Having after 2014 following sanctions been cut off from the Western debt orgy, even Russian corporations are shielded against a possible Western debt apocalypse.

In a global recession, no country is safe, but Russia looks to have quite a lot going for it in terms of economic advantages. Russia’s national balance sheet is next to none with by far the lowest debt of all major countries. All economic actors, the government, corporations and households are economically solid and minimally leveraged. Not only is the government virtually debtless, but it has again replenished its spectacular forex and sovereign wealth fund reserves. On top of that comes a hefty budget surplus. – Yes, you heard that right, surplus. In a time when all Western countries are in a chronic fight against deficits, you rarely even hear the term budget surplus. And more, Russia runs the world’s third biggest trade surplus. Add to that the current account surplus, and there’s the hat trick in form of your classic triple surpluses. Russia has a lot more going for it, too, as we will see.

Let’s look at Russia’s present financial health report.

Thanks to import substitution (domestic production instead of imports to neutralize sanctions) Russia’s industrial production rose 2.6% year-on-year in June. (USA +1.1%, UK +0.8%, Japan -2.4%, Germany -5.9%). Above, we mentioned that US industrial production was up with as little as a cumulative 5% since 2008 to date. In the same period Russia’s industry grew 18% notwithstanding the hardships of sanctions and sharp drop in oil price. In fact, since 2014 when the sanctions were first imposed, Russia’s industry has grown 12%.

Russia’s merchandise trade surplus for the first half of 2019 was $93 billion, ranking third in the world after China and Germany and before South Korea. Imports were down by 3%, the other side of the coin of growing domestic manufacturing. Even when exports also were slightly down, lower imports will keep the surplus on track to reach levels near $200 billion for the full year, just under last year’s record $212 billion.

Q1 current account surplus clocked in at $33 billion, up 10% over the year.

In this connection, it might be helpful to remind that Russia’s economy is nowhere near as dependent on fossil fuel extraction as it is habitually believed in the West. In fact, oil and gas only account for 10% of Russia’s GDP according to World Bank statistics. (In 2017, total natural resources share of GDP was 10.7%, but that includes minerals and forest, too).

We also need to point out that Russia has an enormous strength by way of being the world’s most self-sufficient major country. Russia has the by far lowest level of imports relative to GDP of all countries, as evidenced by below table. It shows that Russia’s imports as a share of GDP was as low as 7.2%, while the corresponding level for Western European countries was between 30 to 40%. The extraordinary low levels of imports in a global comparison obviously signifies that Russia produces domestically a much higher share of all that it consumes (and invests), this in turn means that the economy is superbly diversified contrary to the claims of most so-called Russia experts.

Despite initial scares, inflation has remained low even when the VAT rate was from the new year raised from 18% to 20%. The rolling 12-month inflation runs at 4.6% but with the declining trend the full year inflation is expected to hit the central bank’s target 4%.

The job market continues strong with record low unemployment levels, while the job participation rate has not deteriorated (so no tricks here). The July reading of 4.6% translates to 3.4 million unemployed, which is low for a country with a population of 146 million. The strength of the labor market was underscored by an increase of real salaries by 3.5% by July. This while disposable income otherwise has remained subdued.

Whereas the US is combating persistent budget deficits (latest reading, a deficit of 4.5% of GDP) – likewise the EU countries – Russia mustered a huge budget surplus equal to 3.4% of the GDP by July this year.

Russia’s foreign exchange and gold reserves have also done a spectacular comeback reaching $520 billion.

The Russia sovereign wealth fund surged in July to reach a value equal to 7.2% of GDP.

Despite the wholesome macroeconomic environment and impressive figures, Russia’s GDP growth has been less than 1% so far this year (year-on-year 0.6% in Q1 and 0.9% in Q2). However, by the looks of it the fundamental economy seems to be growing and modernizing, while the drag on the growth comes from depressed household consumption. What’s more important, though, is that while Russia’s growth is hovering around the 1%, so is that of all of the Western world. (Accuse me of whataboutism if you will, but these things need to be put in perspective). Q2 growth in the Eurozone was 1.1%, with Germany even about to slide into recession. UK clocked in at 1.2% and Japan at 0.4%. (All figures, year-on-year). The US showed only 2% (revised down 28 August) even when fueled by a mountainous budget deficit set to reach $1 trillion for the fiscal year and despite all that easy money the Fed keeps pumping out. Only China remained firmly in growth territory with 6.2%.

But, the real conundrum is, how can Russia produce the same GDP as all the Western countries with their seemingly limitless injections of give-away money? How is it possible that all those trillions and trillions that the Western central bankers have thrown on the economy do not produce any real incremental economic output?

The big disadvantage Russia has compared with the Western countries is the exorbitant real interest rate that the central bank maintains. The steering rate is presently 7.25%, with inflation predicted to be 4%, that translates into a primary real interest of 3.25%. Compare that with the negative real interest – and even negative yields – of competitor countries. As, the Russian central bank has failed to create a real banking sector which would lend according to international standards to the country’s businesses, the ones that are lucky to get a loan at all would look to pay interest at the level of 15% of more (save the largest corporations). The Governor of the Russian Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina does not see this as a problem, though. She has said that instead she would pin her hopes on improving the countries investment climate (sic!). (She calls for improvement of corporate governance, development of human capital, and all kinds of nice things. That would sure do it). (*9) http://ibcongress.com/en/news/nabiullina-nazvala-glavnye-ogranichenija-dlja-razvitija-ekonomiki-rossii/

Just this week, Putin called a high profile meeting with Nabiullina, the minister for economic development Maxim Oreshkin, and the finance minister Anton Sulanov, to express his deep concern with the sluggish GDP growth and stagnating income. No doubt, that the depressed income is not only a drag on the economy but on the president’s popularity. There is only one quick fix for it. The government and the CBR must ditch their overzealous austerity programs. It’s good that Russia is not over leveraged with debt, but certainly some debt would be in order to finance the infrastructure and other national strategic development programs instead of ripping it off people’s backs. Free the funds for raising pensions and public service salaries instead. And most importantly, Nabiullina must lower the rates and not run real interests in excess of 3% when the rest of the developed world is in negative territory. There is no other quick remedy for raising people’s income. That’s Putin’s choice. Hope somebody tells that to him.

In conclusion, we are not saying that Russia would not be hurt by the coming recession, we merely express our confidence that Russia is among the world’s countries best placed to cope with it.

Jon Hellevig, originally from Finland, works and lives in Moscow since the early 1990s. By education lawyer and MBA, Hellevig first worked in Moscow as a financial controller for a Russia-American joint venture engaged in shipment of oil and later became founder together with Russian partners of a business administration and consulting firm. Hellevig has written several books on Russian taxation and labor law. From mid-2000, Hellevig has written books on philosophy and social practices. The combination of his experience of actual life and governance in Russia with the theoretical framework pushed Hellevig to engage in the public debate about Russia’s development path including by way of writing articles for the part of the media, which is interested in the truth. Having at least a working knowledge of seven languages (English, Russian, Finnish, Swedish, Spanish, German, and French), Hellevig has been able to follow first-hand the news across the Western hemisphere. Doing so, he realized a decade or so ago, that all the Western media in unison report the same stories about Russia and circulate the same fabricated scandals in the same words at the same time. Frustrated with the totalitarian style propaganda lies about Russia, Hellevig began to regularly produce fundamental analysis reports on the Russian economy in the wake of the sanctions that the Western powers imposed on Russia following the Ukrainian crisis in 2014

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