CHICKEN KIEV MEETS COLD TURKEY: BLACK SEA AXIS EMERGES?

South Front

Chicken Kiev Meets Cold Turkey: Black Sea Axis Emerges?

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

Kiev’s Unrequited Love

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

Ankara’s Burning Hate

Chicken Kiev Meets Cold Turkey: Black Sea Axis Emerges?

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

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

Quid pro Quos

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

Chicken Kiev Meets Cold Turkey: Black Sea Axis Emerges?

Match Made in Hell

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

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the meeting with members of the Association of European Businesses in Russia, Moscow, October 5, 2020

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the meeting with members of the Association of European Businesses in Russia, Moscow, October 5, 2020

October 08, 2020

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Mr Vanderplaetse,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Colleagues,

Thank you for the opportunity to address once again the members of the Association of European Businesses in the Russian Federation. First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the 25th anniversary of your association. We appreciate your efforts to promote our economic, investment and trade ties, laying a solid foundation for building good relations between us and the countries you represent.

Here at the Foreign Ministry we value opportunities for dialogue with European entrepreneurs aimed at pushing forward a pragmatic, politics-free and mutually beneficial agenda. At the end of the day, these efforts are designed to improve the wellbeing of the people in Russia and in your countries. Holding regular meetings in this format has become a good tradition, testifying to our mutual commitment to keeping this dialogue going.

Since our previous meeting last year, in fact more than a year ago, the overall global environment has not become any easier, seriously affecting business activity. For many years now, the problems of international terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime have been escalating around the world. Regional conflicts continue unabated and their number is growing. Recently, the coronavirus infection emerged as a new and a very serious challenge for all of humanity. It would not be an exaggeration to say that it changed the lives of billions of people overnight. Today, no one can say with certainty when the pandemic will end. I will not elaborate here on how the interruption of global supply chains affects global trade. Unemployment is on the rise in many countries. All this weighs on the global economy, which will have to go through a lengthy and probably challenging recovery.

Speaking broadly, in the global context, the pandemic has yet again highlighted what we have long been talking about, that all countries without exception are interconnected, regardless of their geography, size and the level of economic development. All of them have been affected. This is how the pandemic has shown again that cross-border issues cannot be disregarded in this globalised world.

We believed that the conclusion was obvious, that the common tasks and challenges should bring all of us together based on the universally recognised norms of international law. Regrettably, this has not happened so far.  Quite to the contrary, some of our Western colleagues led by the United States have tried to take advantage of the novel coronavirus crisis to promote their narrow interests even more energetically and to settle scores with their geopolitical rivals. The appeals by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to suspend the illegitimate unilateral sanctions at least during the pandemic, primarily to allow the delivery of medicines and medical equipment as well as the necessary financial transactions, have fallen on deaf ears. Likewise, they have paid no heed to the initiative, put forth by President Vladimir Putin at the online G20 meeting, for setting up green corridors free from trade wars and sanctions to supply medications, food, equipment and technologies. This attitude to unifying initiatives is seriously poisoning the atmosphere of international cooperation and increasing the lack of mutual trust, damaging not only ordinary people, who have been affected first of all, but also the business circles. You know this better than anyone.

These alarming trends have also affected Russia-EU relations. There are hardly any positive achievements to speak about. Since 2014, when the European Union flagrantly violated its own pledge to guarantee the agreement between President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition, it has not just accepted the coup but has actually been encouraging those who seized power in Ukraine illegally and in violation of the Constitution. In particular, the EU has turned a blind eye to the fact that the coup plotters’ policy is based on Russophobia, and that they threatened to oust Russians from Crimea and tried to browbeat the Russian-speaking regions which refused to recognise the coup and said they wanted to sort out the situation. They were denounced as terrorists, even though they had not attacked anyone, and the army and Ukrainian security forces were sent to fight them. As I said, they have been designated terrorists for refusing to recognise the coup.

Since then, the EU, probably becoming aware of its negative role in these processes but still trying to shift the blame onto someone else. Since 2014, it has ruined the multilevel architecture of interaction between Brussels and Moscow, from summit meetings to over two dozen sectoral dialogues. The programme of four common spaces has been abandoned. To this very day, the normalisation of our relations is being artificially conditioned on the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Moreover, they say openly that it is the Russian Federation that must do this. Meanwhile, our Ukrainian colleagues have announced once again through their leaders, as you probably know, that the Minsk agreements should be preserved as the basis of the EU and US sanctions against Russia. This is their logic.

Of course, we will insist on the implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures, which has been approved by the UN Security Council, but we will not do this because we want the EU to lift its sanctions. We will do this above all in the interests of the fraternal Ukrainian people, who are suffering from what has been recently going on in Kiev and other parts of their country.

Restrictions are still retained on Russian economic operators’ access to external financial markets. European producers, too, continue to sustain multi-billion losses. The other day, we became aware that Sweden has taken yet another discriminatory step. A Swedish company, Quintus Technologies AB, has refused to supply spare parts for GAZ Group’s industrial press, under an absolutely far-fetched pretext. Allegedly, the equipment is of a military nature and has a dual purpose. This is absolutely artificial logic. This press has been in use since 2009, and never before, including the entire period of crisis in our relations after the coup in Ukraine, have the Swedish regulators entertained any doubts. Judging by all appearances, this is by far not the last example, where the wish to curry favour with those who lay down the West’s geopolitical line prevails over commonsense and own interests. Of course, this will also affect Swedish businesses that cooperate with the GAZ Group and the company’s employees.

Regrettably, we have to state that the EU agencies continue their shortsighted policies. In particular, this refers to the EU member countries that have proclaimed themselves “frontline” states. Their mood is also “frontline” and they pursue “frontline” policies. Let me note that in July, the EU set into motion, under an absolutely far-fetched pretext, its 2019 framework for unilateral sanctions against violations of certain “rules” in the cyberspace, which rules have not yet been coordinated on a universal basis. Invented last year, this generic regime, as they decided, should be “test-driven” in practice over Russian citizens. Without providing any real evidence, they have accused them of launching a cyber attack against the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague. Created in 2019, this regime is not the only one of its kind. The EU has spawned, also within its “inner circle,” yet another generic regime punishing violations in the field of employment of toxic chemicals, or, to put it in a nutshell, the use of prohibited types of chemicals that are chemical weapons. It is intended to be used in specific situations. I have no doubt that they will be attempting to apply this regime to the situation involving Alexey Navalny. Moreover, there is no need to “test-drive” or discuss the facts for this on a universal basis either.

Our French colleagues, again unilaterally, have established the so-called “partnership against impunity for the use of chemical weapons,” a structure outside of the UN or any universal and generally approved international legal framework. But a narrow circle of soul-mates will establish so called “facts,” whereupon a unilaterally created EU organisation intended to punish those who are allegedly guilty of violations will approve sanctions, based on these unilaterally established “facts.” All of this is sad and makes one think that our Western colleagues’ talk of the need for everyone to respect the rules-based order is not just a figure of speech or a synonym of the need to respect international law, but a conscious policy to substitute unilateral and illegitimate actions for the universal international legal framework that requires a consensus of all states in order to approve relevant conventions.

We are interested in establishing the truth regarding Alexey Navalny. That said, this is an outrageous situation that is unfolding following the exact same scenario as in the so-called Skripal case, when accusations were made without presenting any evidence. As you are aware, Russia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office sent requests under the 1959 European Convention for Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters to the relevant agencies in Germany, France and Sweden, where the required tests were allegedly carried out. Under the protocols to this convention they were asked to share information on the results of these tests. We were told that no action will be taken under this convention, which in itself is a violation, and that the results were handed over to the OPCW. They told us to wait for this organisation to release the results of its tests. However, the OPCW informed us that they continue investigating this matter and the samples they collected (it is unclear who collected them and when). We were told that once they are finished, they will communicate the results to Germany, since the request came from there, leaving it to Germany to decide whether to share this information with us. This is a travesty of common sense, and I believe that everyone understands this, including our Western colleagues who deny our requests that are based on a binding international convention. It seems that their Russophobic fervour is so strong that it prevents them from exercising good judgement.

We regret that trade and economic cooperation is becoming increasingly politicised. I have just cited some examples. Trade and economy have always been viewed as a safety net in relations among nations. Nowadays though, things seem to have shifted into a somewhat different phase. I remember so well that in 2014 German businesses called on the European Union and its agencies not to place politics above the economy in its approach to Ukrainian affairs. At the time it was German Chancellor Angela Merkel who said that there are cases when politics must be above economics. This is regrettable.

We are now witnessing another example. The European Commission has drafted a report with a long title: Report on Significant Distortions in the Economy of the Russian Federation for the Purpose of Trade Defence Investigations. You probably understand what this is all about. The document is clearly biased and can lead to new restrictions on the access of Russian goods to the EU market. You know that this will definitely prompt us to reply. In particular, this report presents regulatory measures that are totally legitimate, including in energy, transport and labour resources, as distortions in the Russian economy. We also have questions regarding another EU initiative. I am referring to the key element of the European Green Deal, the so-called carbon border adjustment mechanism. Brussels said that it will be enacted not later than on January 1, 2023 in one form or another. For now, we are looking into what this initiative actually means. We do hope that this mechanism would not contradict the World Trade Organisation (WTO) norms and will not lead to “trade protectionism on climate issues.” We would like to avoid having to take retaliatory measures. I believe now is not the time for trade wars, even in the current politicised environment.

I will not elaborate too much on the games with Nord Stream 2. It all started quite a few years ago when the EU retrospectively amended the gas directive within its Third Energy Package just to make it harder to carry out this project. This ran counter to all legal norms and established practices approved by all countries. It was with great difficulty that compromises were found. This did not prevent things from going awry afterwards. When the end of the project was on the horizon, a new factor emerged in the form of the heavy hand of the United States that stated its open and unscrupulous intention to derail this project for Russia and the Europeans in order to force the US LNG on the Europeans. They are franticly creating LNG capabilities. Washington claims that these measures are designed to support US producers. This is a gloves-off approach free from any ethical boundaries. They do not seem to be concerned with the fact that higher costs for buying expensive gas will undermine the competitiveness of entire European manufacturing sectors. In fact, this suits the US.

Politicised energy cooperation is yet another blow at the foundations of what we call European security. Energy is the area of cooperation dating back over 50 years. We recently marked the anniversary with our Austrian colleagues. Energy was always left outside any forms of confrontation during the Cold War. Our joint energy programme and cooperation have survived the dissolution of some states and the formation of others; they have always served the long-term interests of all European nations, including the Russian Federation.

Protectionism and other barriers and restrictions will only aggravate the economic situation, which is already complicated. By the way, we noted that the BusinessEurope Confederation of European Business recently published recommendations aimed at protecting European businesses amidst sanctions-related restrictions. The document directly states that the weaponisation of the sanctions policy to pursue economic interests is unacceptable. It may seem obvious but as things go nowadays, it takes a lot of courage to say something as obvious as this.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Russian leadership is implementing measures to support the public and businesses in the face of COVID-19 related problems. We are doing everything we can, considering certain minimum requirements of the epidemiological authorities, to help return foreign workers to Russia, which you are well aware of. You have made respective requests and requests continue to come in. We will continue to process them promptly. We expect that, according to the forecasts made in Russia and foreign capitals (including multilateral institutions), the depth of the economic decline in our country will not be as significant as in many other countries, including the eurozone.

Our potential for countering infectious diseases is becoming increasingly more effective. We have learned a lot while taking practical measures to fight this challenge. Relying on our past experience in countering various pandemics, we managed to develop a series of test systems to diagnose the coronavirus and launch the production of drugs to treat it efficiently. As you know, we registered the Sputnik V vaccine. Registration of one or two more vaccines developed by the Vector Research Centre is being finalised. We support sharing experience in this area and cooperating with all interested countries because it is important for overcoming the consequences of our common emergency once and for all. As you know, speaking at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly via videoconference, President Vladimir Putin proposed an initiative of holding a high-level online conference involving the states interested in cooperation on developing coronavirus vaccines. We hope to receive a constructive response to this important proposal.

Before concluding my opening remarks, I would just like to say a few more words about the main subject on our agenda today: as we have already seen more than once, economic interdependence can be both a boon and a bane. I don’t really think that anything good will come out of this if the EU continues to see its partners as some “appendages” of the Eurocentric world. The world that was based on the central role of Europe has become history, not regrettably or happily but objectively. The drivers of economic growth and political influence are now in the East. The new polycentric reality calls for new approaches in politics and the economy. The “leader-follower” relationship is no longer tenable. What we need now is respect for the fundamental principle of equality.

Nowadays we must help the global economy through this difficult period and ensure its consistent post-COVID development. This goal should unite all of us, because this is about the welfare of all nations. We call for finding new growth points in order to overcome the global recession. It is crucial in this respect to combine the potentials of the various integration initiatives that are being implemented throughout Eurasia. This is the objective of President Putin’s initiative on the Greater Eurasian Partnership based on the universal principles of international law and transparency and open to all countries of our huge common continent without exception. You are aware that we are actively promoting dialogue on this subject within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), as well as in relations with ASEAN nations. While doing so, we point out that we would like all countries of our common continent to join this process, both members of regional associations and the unaligned countries. This means that the EU countries could also take a look at this initiative with regard to their own interests, the interests of European businesses, including the possibility of easy access to the rapidly growing markets and new transit routes within the framework of this project. We have a starting point for launching this work in earnest. I am referring to the contacts created at the technical level between the European Commission and the Eurasian Economic Commission. We would like these contacts to break out of the restrictions of technical and regulatory issues. We would like our discussions to move over to a political level and to acquire a political vision of the development of Eurasia, which will become a global economic driver – there is no doubt about this.

We firmly believe that it is in our common interests to prevent the appearance of undesirable dividing lines in the new economic spheres created by the new technological paradigm. Energy and industry are becoming ever greener and all spheres of human activity, including the work of economic operators, are being digitalised. It is our strong conviction that this calls for combining efforts rather than trying to play zero sum games again, as was the case in the past. We are ready for cooperation on the broadest possible basis.

Thank you. I am now ready for the interactive part of our meeting.

Question: There is a saying in my native German language that smart people give way in a dispute. What steps would Russia be ready to make in this regard? What opportunities do you see for giving an impetus to this process and putting it back on a more constructive trajectory? What mechanisms and measures do you see for shielding small islands of cooperation from the collateral damage caused by geopolitical rivalry?

Sergey Lavrov: As far as I can see, the way you used this German saying (smart people giving way in a dispute) suggests that you are certain that the West will never give way.

I also see this in the way many of the ongoing developments are unfolding. In particular, this refers to the complaints we hear. Russia invariably owes something regardless of the international matter, be it Syria, Libya or Belarus. The same goes for Alexey Navalny, any cyber affairs and poisonings. But no evidence is presented. Moreover, when we question their claims and findings, in this case I am referring to the Bundeswehr laboratory, or to the Porton Down laboratory in the Skripal case, they see this as an insult. But no evidence was presented. Our German colleagues are now telling us that this is our problem and that the poisoning took place on Russian territory, so they don’t know anything. Go ahead and open a criminal case, but we will not give you anything, they tell us.

By the way, I remember a rather gruesome episode in our relations with Germany when there was a problem in 2016 with Yelizaveta Fesenko, a Russian underage girl. She disappeared and the search continued for quite a long time. She later resurfaced and said that she had been raped. It turned out that she had not been raped but Germany still opened a criminal case on child sexual abuse charges. One of the defendants received a suspended sentence. But when we tried to become involved to help the girl (apart from a German citizenship she also is a citizen of the Russian Federation) and asked our German colleagues to explain what happened, we faced an outpouring of resentment, including a statement by then German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who said that Russia should not interfere in Germany’s domestic affairs or use this incident for propaganda purposes. This is a similar case. Something happened to a Russian national on German territory. When we asked to explain what had happened they told us that it’s not our business and asked us not to interfere in their domestic affairs. When now we asked our German colleagues to share their findings after analysing Alexey Navalny’s test samples, they referred us to the OPCW. The OPCW referred us to Germany, arguing that it was Germany that filed the request, while Russia should have had the same findings as Berlin. However, the doctors in Omsk passed on to the Germans the results of all the tests they ran and everything they did. When the Germans came to transport Alexey Navalny to Germany, they signed papers confirming that they received all the information. Moreover, Alexey Navalny’s spouse signed a document assuming responsibility for all the consequences of his transfer to Germany, since our doctors were not convinced that this was safe. It is true that they did not find any traces of weapon-grade toxic substances. They honestly said so. Let me draw your attention to the fact that the Charite clinic did not find any toxic agents from the so-called Novichok group in Navalny’s samples either. It was the Bundeswehr clinic that made these findings. We still do not know whether the French and the Swedes collected the samples themselves or the Germans simply passed on these samples to them. The fact that our partners are trying to keep this secret, muddying the waters, is a matter of serious concern for us. We want to get to the truth and will pursue this objective. I don’t know what to do with this. Now we are being accused of the developments in the Central African Republic, and they are trying to pin the blame for something that happened in Mozambique on us as well. We stand accused of everything no matter where it occurs.

When US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, his deputies and other members of the US administration travel around the world, they openly call on their partners during news conferences in Africa, Greece or elsewhere to stop cooperating with Russia and China. These statements are being made officially and unceremoniously, for everyone to hear. It is difficult for me to say now what concessions we can make when it comes to this situation.

As your board chairman has already mentioned, it is good that the ties with the EU are being revived. Yes, they are indeed being revived, but only in specific areas, such as Syria, Libya and Africa – we have recently held such consultations. However, we do not see a systemic approach to our relations on the global and hugely important political plane.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell is a good friend of mine. We spoke with him earlier  this year on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. In June, we talked for two hours via videoconference. We discussed all topics in great detail. There is a common understanding that we need to review the situation, at least so as to see if the EU policy based on sanctions is really effective. This is for the EU to do. In our opinion, it is a flawed policy. Sanctions damage both those against whom they are applied and those who apply them. You are aware that we are trying to abandon all forms of cooperation that can strengthen our dependence on Europe, including in the fields of technology and agricultural goods. I believe that we have achieved good results with this. We are probably doing this because we are no longer sure that our European partners will honour their commitments. I have cited the example of Nord Stream 2. It would seem that the EU’s Legal Service has long analysed this project and concluded that it is good and does not contradict any EU norms. Nevertheless, the question has been reopened and the rules have been changed. Is this how reliable partners act? Moreover, this is being done contrary to the fact that companies from the five respected “old” EU members were fully interested, and continue to be interested, in the Nord Stream 2 project. But politics has prevailed over business.

Of course, selective dialogue is underway on some specific matters, as you mentioned. We are not abandoning it. But we can see that the EU has been trying to preserve the five guiding principles and only to modernise them (and they are based on the fact that the normalisation of EU’s relations with Russia is conditioned by the implementation of the Minsk agreements by Russia, not by Ukraine). While these futile discussions are underway in the EU and the very aggressive and loud Russophobic minority is preventing any efforts to reassess relations with Russia, very serious analytical processes are gathering momentum in Germany. As far as we know (this information is based on German media reports), experts close to the German Government are developing what they describe as “a new Eastern policy,” which actually amounts to removing the remaining positive parts on our agenda.  Their main arguments, as cited by the press, are that strategic partnership is a thing of the past; that the Partnership for Modernisation, which used to be a symbol of our cooperation with Germany and subsequently with the EU as a whole, has not materialised; and that Russia refused to become an ally for the EU and NATO and hence became their opponent when it comes to fundamental political and ideological aspects of the new international order. I have already said that our Western friends want the new international order to be based on rules rather than international law, and on rules invented in a narrow circle of confederates.

As for selective cooperation, the circles close to the Government who are formulating a new agenda say that such cooperation will be possible only after Russians mend their ways. Amid mental stagnation in Brussels, these processes are gathering momentum first of all in Germany. Geopolitical analysts have probably seen that Germany is becoming the lead player in ensuring a strong and lasting anti-Russia charge in all processes underway in the EU.

We have seen this before. The first sanctions were adopted after an absolutely transparent referendum was held in Crimea and nobody questioned their outcome – US representatives told me so immediately after the referendum. Nobody doubted then, and nobody doubts now, that it was a sincere desire of the Crimean residents. But as soon as this happened, we were told in a quite superior manner that Russia should know that there would be no “business as usual.” We replied that yes, there will be no “business as usual.” You yourself have ruined your standing and reputation when you were spit in the face – excuse my French – by those who terminated the agreement guaranteed by France, Germany and Poland. We know very well that there will be no “business as usual,” but we are nevertheless ready to look for spheres of constructive interaction. But take a look at the current situation. Just a small but telling example regarding Nord Stream 2: the Swedish authorities have cancelled their companies’ permit for cooperation with GAZ. There are more examples of this kind too. The question now is not that there will be no “business as usual,” but that there may be no reliable basis for doing business with Europe in the long term and we cannot be sure that our European partners will honour their commitments. I am not talking about companies. They want to do business, but it is the politicians who are ruling over business now. This is the problem. As I have already said, there is no lack of goodwill or desire to develop normal relations on our part. Just read President Putin’s message of greetings to Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel on Germany’s reunification. It clearly says everything. But goodwill cannot be unilateral. It is said that he who is smarter and stronger should take the first step. We probably have grounds to believe that our partners are strong and smart. I really do hope that they think about us in the same way. If there is goodwill on both sides, we can turn the tide. But we do not see any reciprocity so far.

Question: We have noticed these concerns regarding the recent trends that you mentioned, and the articles claiming that the partnership has come to an end. We share these concerns. As an association, we agree that it takes two to tango.

Sergey Lavrov: These days, some prefer breakdancing and you don’t need a partner.

Question: Let’s hope that partner dancing will not go out of style. As an association, we adhere to the principle of independence. We communicate both with Brussels, by voicing our concerns with the current situation, and with officials in Russia. I was very happy to hear your greetings on our anniversary. This year we marked 25 years. We planned to organise a conference using the motto “Russia and Europe in the world of tomorrow: looking back on the past to move towards the future.” How do you see Russia and Europe in the world of tomorrow? What are the most promising areas for continuing the cooperation that has not always been easy but has undoubtedly been productive over these 25 years? What are the key areas for you?

Sergey Lavrov: We spoke about this at length today. If we talk about specific areas, these include, of course, the digital economy, the green economy and everything related to the new types of energy (the Russian-Italian-French thermonuclear reactor project). We have many hi-tech projects with Germany. There is mutual interest. But, again, the political course pursued right now, mainly by the United States, is aimed at preventing any mutually beneficial, promising and competitive economic projects in Europe to be carried out without the American involvement – be it Russia or China. This has been stated openly. Politics is the art of the possible but perhaps, in the current circumstances, the economy is also the art of the possible. As long as the leaders of your countries are capable of protecting the core interests of European businesses, as long as they can protect your competitiveness and as long as they can withstand this pressure.

But, of course, besides the economy, we are deeply concerned about the military and political situation. It is not improving in Europe and, on the contrary, it is becoming more disturbing. By the way, there have been many reports, analysis pieces and articles recently marking the anniversary of the German reunification. Russian television filmed a two-hour documentary, The Wall, which came to a rather sad conclusion: the Berlin Wall was never destroyed; it simply became virtual and moved to the East very close to the Russian border, despite all the promises and assurances. I will not comment on this film right now. I hope you watched it. If you did not, I recommend it because you will understand a lot about the current conditions for the Russia-Europe relations, how the Russian leadership and Russian people remember the times when – and we all know this very well – Russia played the decisive role in the German reunification, by making a huge sacrifice. I am not exaggerating. The withdrawal of our troops was conducted in absolutely cruel and inhumane conditions. We know the real (financial) cost Germany paid for this. We also know that, not that our Western colleagues tried to persuade the Soviet leaders against it but they asked whether they [the Soviet leaders] had thought carefully and whether everybody needed a united Germany. You know the outcome. I find the manner used by some representatives of the German leadership in communication with the Russian Federation not only unacceptable but fully indicative of the fact that the era everybody considered a historic victory of Germans and Russians and eventually the victory of the entire Europe is now completely forgotten. This is unfortunate. I really hope that this anomaly goes away. It cannot reflect the Germans’ true attitude towards Russia. Speaking of which, in a recent public opinion poll, half of the German people across the Federal Republic of Germany, including Western Germany, expressed a positive attitude towards the Russian people. I think the number of people in our country supporting cooperation with Germans will not be less than that. Our historic victory is in overcoming all phobias and focusing on the constructive process in the interests of our nations. Of course, it would be a crime to lose it.

Question: I would like to get back to the issue of highly skilled professionals returning to Russia. We are very grateful for the help we received from the Government of the Russian Federation and, in particular, from the Foreign Ministry. We know that the rules currently in place, the Government Directive No. 635-r of March 16, 2020, is greatly appreciated by our members because it opens a channel for returning highly skilled professionals. However, on the other hand, this process is still complicated and there are many unresolved matters. What are the prospects of relaxing the border crossing regime, especially ahead of the New Year days off?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already spoken on this matter multiple times. The Foreign Ministry will play a secondary role there. Public health is the top priority. Therefore, the epidemiological and sanitary authorities are calling all the shots. We have an Emergency Response Centre headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, the Federal Supervision Service for Consumer Protection and Welfare, the Healthcare Ministry and the Federal Medical-Biological Agency. All these experts are working on the best measures to protect our citizens and our visitors from the danger of contracting the coronavirus.

It is in the interests of the Foreign Ministry to establish contacts as quickly as possible. As you are aware, the aviation authorities are also interested in this – as are the airline companies which are suffering losses and hoping to resume air services as quickly as possible. Once again, the decisions are up to the epidemiologists.

Question: I can see that Russia is trying to shut itself off from the rest of the world by demanding that production facilities be more localised.  We invested about 2 billion and are one of the largest companies. Seventy percent of our products will not be considered Russia-made products in two years. I am urging you to do everything you can to make sure that Russia does not isolate itself from the rest of the world and cooperates with Western companies. Do not force us to resort to localisation which puts us at a disadvantage and which will seem rather strange after we invested 2 billion.

Sergey Lavrov: I agree with the idea that we should not destroy the global forms of cooperation and build barriers. If we look at localisation as a barrier, this logic probably applies here. But again, we need to remember about the strategic goals set for our economy by President Vladimir Putin and the Government. To a great extent, they have to do with the events in our relations of the past six or seven years and with the fact whether the West demonstrated itself as reliable and capable of negotiating in relations with us.

When it comes to localisation, we are not alone. For example, India is rather actively pursuing its Make in India policy and I think it is much more demanding than the localisation policy in the Russian Federation. Overall, I understand your production-related concerns and assume that these issues should be raised with the Government Foreign Investment Advisory Council that is in charge of these matters.

Question: The Government of the Russian Federation adopted new rules that prevent us from investing for the next two years. We do not know whether we can invest in the future because in two years there will be no benefits in this for us.

Sergey Lavrov: The Foreign Ministry is interested in continuing pragmatic and mutually beneficial economic cooperation; therefore, let’s agree that following this meeting, following our discussion, your chairman, the Director General, will send me a proposal outlining the steps which, in your opinion, would allow our cooperation to continue on a mutually beneficial basis.

I know that you cooperate with the GAZ Group. I meant exactly the same thing that you are talking about when I said that some small European countries are trying to run before the American hounds because the seizures by the United States were once again extended. The Americans are thinking about themselves, too. Many American jobs depend on continuing this cooperation. Our Swedish neighbours decided that they will be more American than the Americans themselves.

Question: When we discuss relaxing the border crossing regime for highly skilled professionals, please do not forget about their family members because it is a major part of their lives here. I would like to ask you to consider this issue.

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, their comfort is important. We will make sure to support requests concerning their family members as well.

Question: We are witnessing the US administration purposefully dismantling the international relations system that took shape after World War II. How much have they managed to accomplish in this regard? Is this an irreversible process? What can we expect from the upcoming election?

Sergey Lavrov: As I mentioned earlier, the current international relations system is collapsing under the banner of the “rules-based world order.” It became part of the political vocabulary, or narrative, in modern parlance, about three to four years ago. We took note of it immediately. When we began to talk about this term which was proposed to be included in the declarations of international forums, we were told that “this is the same as international law.” When we proposed replacing this term with “respect for international law,” we were told, by hook or by crook, that “we need to use some fresh language.” And then everything that I was talking about came to the surface.

Two parallel processes are underway that are directly related to the erosion of the system that was created after World War II, which suited everyone, made it possible to avoid another world war and, as we all hoped, would be ridding itself of confrontational components after the Cold War ended. We have already talked about the Berlin Wall and everything that followed and what we are witnessing now.

There are two obvious areas where this system is being eroded. The first is the privatisation of the existing international organisations’ secretariats. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is based on the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), is a case in point. It was adopted unanimously (any convention can only be adopted unanimously) and is binding exclusively for the countries that have ratified this Convention, 193 in all. The OPCW is one of the most universal organisations. The Convention can only be amended by way of talks, and the language must be agreed upon by a consensus, after which the amendments are adopted and ratified. Under the convention, the OPCW Technical Secretariat (TC) has the competence to conduct a probe in response to an inquiry by any CWC member country. This should be done by an onsite visit by the experts to a location designated by the corresponding party to take samples that are then taken to certified labs. Then, a report is compiled which says whether a substance prohibited by the special lists attached to the CWC was found in these samples. That’s all there is to it. The OPCW Secretariat began to grossly violate the Convention. For example, in Syria, they were making decisions and compiling reports without onsite visits. They just said that they managed to get samples from, say, Great Britain or France (there was such an episode in Khan Shaykhun), since it was “unsafe” for them to go there. We insisted that, under the Convention, they must go there themselves. The answer was “it’s unsafe.” Then, we asked the British and the French, since they were able to obtain the samples in unsafe circumstances, to use their contacts to ensure the safety of the OPCW inspectors so that they comply with the convention. We were told there was nothing they could do, and it’s “classified.” The Syrian government was accused of airstrikes using bombs filled with toxic agents. This “classified” information was used to conclude that a poisonous agent was used in Khan Shaykhun. End of story. Nobody knows who took these samples, or who took them to which laboratory, because it’s “classified.”

There are many questions. When we started asking them and stopped accepting such reports in the UN Security Council (only the UNSC can decide who is right and who is wrong under international law and the UN Charter), our Western colleagues at the OPCW convened an extraordinary session of all parties to the Convention. They put to the vote a proposal that, in addition to what is allowed for the OPCW Technical Secretariat under the Convention (to determine whether a prohibited poisonous agent was used or not), it should also be authorised to identify the perpetrators and to carry out the attribution. Less than half of the countries members of the convention voted in favour of the proposal. The rest voted against it or abstained. However, according to the rules of procedure, the decision was declared adopted. Thus, instead of an international law instrument, which any universal convention is, we got an instrument of the “rules-based order.” Of course, we will not be paying for the portion of the Secretariat’s activities that focuses on these purposes. China and a number of other countries are doing the same, but that doesn’t make the problem disappear. This is an outright privatisation of the Secretariat, which can now be seen in the way the senior officials of this body (Western countries hold the posts of Director-General and his “right hand”) react to our inquiries on many issues (Syria, Navalny, etc.). Concurrently, privatisation is carried out in less aggressive forms, when the Western employees of the respective secretariats conduct blatantly one-sided policies at the UN organisations.

The second area is about the propensity to move “inconvenient” matters outside the UN system. In my opening remarks, I mentioned that our French colleagues had created the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. We asked why we can’t discuss this at the UN or the OPCW, which they are trying to manipulate. Why do this somewhere else? We were told that this is just a “group of like-minded people.” Today, I spoke on the phone with my French colleague, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, and asked him why they were not responding to a request filed by the General Prosecutor’s Office of Russia regarding Alexey Navalny’s tests. Mr Le Drian told me they were waiting for the OPCW to respond. The OPCW has not yet responded (today is October 5). However, already on September 24, our French colleagues initiated the distribution, among their closest partners at the very same organisation in The Hague, of a draft statement by the countries participating in the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. The draft of this statement is already saying that, as confirmed by the OPCW Secretariat, Mr Navalny was poisoned with Novichok. The Secretariat has not confirmed or said anything. We have an official letter from the OPCW Director General Fernando Arias Gonzalez saying that the process is still underway.

This “privatisation,” as we call it, creates quite serious problems in other areas of the universal institutions’ work as well. Instead of once again provoking scandals at the conferences of the parties to the relevant universal conventions, they are now making decisions in a narrow circle of “like-minded people” and then present this as an example of multilateralism. This approach forms the basis of the Franco-German initiative for a new multilateralism, which they are promoting and which was proclaimed not so long ago. It was stated that the EU is an example of multilateralism. We asked again why multilateralism is being considered outside the framework of the UN multilateral organisation. There’s no answer, but we know it. There will be more cases like this. Along with this International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, the French have created a similar partnership on the freedom of journalism and information in cyberspace.

Question: The impact of geopolitics on de-globalisation. Modern equipment has a very broad built-in functionality for data collection and transmission. At the same time, requirements for a mandatory local hosting are being tightened, in particular, with regard to data collection and transmission. Some forecasts say that by 2030, many countries will close their markets to each other. What do you think could promote the opening of a common economic space?

Sergey Lavrov: For 15 years, if not longer, we have been actively promoting the initiative (it has gained a large number of supporters now) to figure out how the internet should work so that everyone feels comfortable. This question was raised at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an organisation dealing with all forms of information and communication technologies, and in the UN, where it was proposed to agree on the rules of responsible behaviour in the information landscape. It is about international information security. At the same time, we are promoting initiatives at the UN to combat crime in cyberspace. There is one part that relates to processes affecting national security, and the other is crime proper – drug trafficking, paedophilia, pornography, and so on. But things are moving with difficulty at the ITU. All these years of discussions have led us nowhere. The Americans do not seem interested in making this topic the subject of agreements. The discussion continues, but you know how the internet is governed, how it all works. It suits them. The Americans are actually pushing forward the idea that there is no need for any anti-cybercrime conventions or rules of conduct to ensure security in the information landscape. There is international law and it is applicable. This also reflects our Western partners’ policy to declare cyberspace an arena of potential confrontation, including the possibility of hostilities (and the outer space for good measure).

As we have seen from hours of discussions with the Americans and other Westerners, they are reluctant to introduce new regulations and cite applicable international law because the West again wants to reserve some extra rights. I mentioned the partnership to protect freedom in cyberspace. If it is established that someone has violated “freedom in cyberspace,” they will not have to prove anything to anyone, because international law is already in place. The Americans are primarily interested in Article 51 of the UN Charter (the right to self-defence and the possible use of weapons). They do not hide this and want to reserve the right to strike. More precisely, not reserve, but actually obtain the right to use military force in response to what they might consider an encroachment in cyberspace that affects their national interest. You can implicate just about anything there.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin proposed reopening the existing channels on cybersecurity issues. On October 2, Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev met with US President Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, who said that so far, Washington has not seen any Russian interference attempts in the 2020 United States elections. Well, they kind of expected Moscow to interfere, but “Mr Patrushev assured them they won’t.” What the Russian Security Council Secretary proposed – we actually lived through all this many years ago with the Obama administration, and later it resumed with Donald Trump – was a proposal to sign a deal on non-interference in each other’s affairs, including in cyberspace, concerning elections or other processes. The US does not want to, because they really interfere in our internal affairs. After Kiev events in 2014, they passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which explicitly ordered the State Department to spend $20 million a year to liaise with Russian civil society, to support certain “independent” and “non-governmental” organisations. You are certainly well aware of this. Indeed, a cutting-edge sphere like cyberspace and information and communication technologies in general, where progress is rapidly gaining momentum, is a field for competition. Look at what is happening with 5G networks now, how the Americans prohibit Europe and the rest of the world from cooperating with China; look at how these policies affect the atmosphere of international relations. Consider artificial intelligence. I think competition will continue, as we are seeing a new industrial revolution – or rather, not an industrial, but a technological one.

If we consider the US policy line they are pursuing today, it is difficult to predict how and when it will end, whether it will even come to a close in our lifetime, because anything’s possible. Who knows what will happen on this planet in 50-100 years. There are many people who believe the current US policy line is irrevocable, and from now on, they refuse to put up with it. The most interesting thing is that they actually achieve their goals in some cases. As we say, might is right. But it seems to me that the United States should and will try to pay more attention to its internal problems. I would say what we can see there now has very deep roots. There are many forecasts that any empire will reach a crisis at some point and become smaller and quieter. As Vladimir Vysotsky wrote, “it goes at random, all over the place, and downhill.”

I am not trying to make any predictions about the US elections now; I do not want to be blamed again for supporting someone or not supporting someone else. Vladimir Putin has said many times that we will work with anyone they elect. We are watching the squabbles between Democrats and Republicans. No silver lining, of course. Destabilisation in the United States is unlikely to do any good to any of us. We are actually all interested in the United States being a responsible player in the international arena; but for that, they should at least have some internal stability, which is now being tested. We want them to be a responsible player, which means they should follow the rules, not those invented by them, consistently rather than occasionally, and not change those rules at their whim or use loopholes (like we say, every law has a loophole). This is rules-based order. Unfortunately, the trend is quite steady – they have left the UNESCO, the UN Human Rights Council, and withdrawn from nearly all treaties; now the last one, the New START, is going to die. The conditions they set are absolutely unilateral and do not take into account either our interests or the experience of many decades, when arms control was enforced to everyone’s satisfaction and was welcomed by all countries. I cannot rule out that the World Trade Organisation will be next. They are also complaining about it, as I understand it, and continue blocking the dispute resolution body, preventing the appointment of the necessary participants for a quorum.

This question causes everyone’s concern, but I have no answer to give you. Some expound on how empires grow old and new ones emerge, like when you all play together as kids, and there is always the main bully in the sandbox who hits the younger ones. But later, when they grow up, they get even. This probably happens in different forms on a bigger scale, like centuries-long cycles.

Question: As you may be aware, Turkey and Libya have certain agreements regarding the Mediterranean Sea. We’re amid an abnormal situation, where Turkey, a NATO member, has a run-in with Europe, where most countries are NATO members as well. Clearly, in addition to the economic interests, there are geopolitical and military reasons as well. What’s your view about a potential increase in the number of clashes in this region and Russia’s role?

Sergey Lavrov: Here, too, we need to look through the lens of geopolitical interests. The situation in Libya, Syria and a number of other countries is far from being alright, but hydrocarbons are among the factors that clearly influence politics. At least what the Americans are doing with oil having illegally occupied the eastern coast of the Euphrates River in Syria and making a decision allowing their company to produce oil. Together with the Kurds, they are trying to “cobble up” a Kurdish autonomy, which will have quasi-state functions. It is well known that they are also trying to talk the Turks into not objecting to the idea of creating such autonomy, assuring them that the Americans will ensure the Kurds’ loyalty. Flirting with a country’s territorial integrity is a gross violation of international law. In this case, this applies not only to Syria, but also to the Kurdish problem, which can be so explosive that the current situation will appear much less serious. It affects a number of countries in the region. An invitation to separatism and its active promotion can end very badly. This is being done by a distant overseas country, but the countries of the region and Europe will have to deal with the consequences. We are not far away from there, either. So, we have come up with an initiative to develop a security concept in the Gulf with the participation of all Arab countries, Iran, the League of Arab States (LAS), the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the UN Security Council permanent members, and the European Union.

The time has come when too many problems have piled up in and around the Gulf, including the Middle East and North Africa. We need to sit down and talk.

The Americans are also departing from international law and moving to the rules on which they want to establish the world order, I mean a Middle East settlement. They are turning the Arab Peace Initiative upside down, which proclaimed the creation of the Palestinian state followed by the normalisation of relations between the Arab countries and Israel. Now, the process has reversed.

We welcome any agreements that normalise relations between the states, but we cannot agree to this being done to the detriment of the Palestinian people’ interests which are enshrined in numerous consensus resolutions adopted by the Security Council and the UN General Assembly.

Question: More than a year ago now, President of Russia Vladimir Putin met with President of France Emmanuel Macron in Bregancon. How would you assess the results of that meeting? I know that recently in Lithuania, President Macron said he would continue cooperating with Russia because it is crucial for Europe. What do you have to say  on this score?

Sergey Lavrov: In August 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron had a very good and productive meeting in Bregancon. France is the only state whose government responded to Vladimir Putin’s address circulated in autumn 2019, when it became known that the INF Treaty had finally “died.” That long letter went to all NATO members and a number of other states, in which Vladimir Putin spelled out the history of the issue, explained how important the INF Treaty was, how its termination would increase the risks and wipe out any control over such missiles, and proposed to declare a voluntary moratorium. He said that Russia has already announced it and will not build or deploy any such missiles until such US-made systems are deployed in some part of the world. The President of Russia asked his NATO partners to consider the possibility of a counter moratorium without concluding any agreement – just pure goodwill, similar to the previous nuclear test ban. Only a few of them even bothered to respond, usually “thank you and we’ll read it later.” Some just declined. French President Macron was the only one who actually wrote he was ready to discuss the proposal, and who noticed that we were not just proposing two counter-moratoriums in that letter – a Russia-NATO and a wider one – but we were ready to discuss specific ways to verify compliance. Western Europeans as well as our American colleagues said the “cunning” Russia was proposing a moratorium when it allegedly had such missiles in Kaliningrad. They believe our Iskander systems violate this Treaty, but never provided a single fact that proved it. If they say that an Iskander missile has been tested at a prohibited range, then obviously, they should have satellite images, but they never showed any, just as they have not shown any satellite images when it comes to the Malaysian Boeing shot down over Donbass. They have some pictures, but they just don’t show them to anyone. So Vladimir Putin proposed, if they have any such concerns, to discuss what verification measures we can agree upon to make everyone feel comfortable. The only one who responded to that was Emmanuel Macron.

Unlike our selective cooperation with EU’s Brussels on specific conflict matters, sporadically, from time to time, what we have with France is a stable dialogue, including the two-plus-two format with the foreign and defence ministers. In September 2019, our French colleagues were in Moscow. We also established cooperation in more than ten working groups on various strategic tracks. The working groups on combating terrorism and cybersecurity met recently – these topics should obviously be of interest to everyone, but the Americans and most other Westerners, including the Germans, have shown little interest in cooperating on them, to put it mildly.

Emmanuel Macron also makes critical statements. We can hear those. We also have some questions for France. I have just mentioned some of the steps they are taking that undermine the legitimacy of universal organisations, attempts to isolate some issues to be addressed by a narrow circle of participants they find comfortable. But we are having a dialogue, whatever disagreements we might have cannot be a reason to refuse to discuss serious matters, and limit interaction to some selective, elective topics, as the European Union does.

Question: The international community failed to prevent two global catastrophes in the 20th century: the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. Today we are witnessing the escalation of a conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in which Turkey has become involved. Do we have any mechanisms for preventing genocide in the 21st century?

Sergey Lavrov: We have the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention), which is effective. Genocide has been denounced as a crime against humanity. There are different types and forms of genocide. What is happening today to the Russian language and Russian education in the Baltic countries (in Latvia and Estonia), in Ukraine and several other places clearly amounts to infringement on the fundamental rights of a very large group of people.

One of the topics we discussed with Josep Borrell was discrimination against Russian speakers, in particular, in Ukraine. We regularly raise the question of the Baltics with the EU. They seem unable to do anything, and it even looks to me as if they are unwilling to do anything about it. They only speak in favour of naturalisation. The process is underway, they claim, adding that everything will be just fine, in time. Nothing good is taking place there though. And in Ukraine they adopted several laws on education and language, following which they have adopted amendments that stipulate exemptions for EU languages, which has placed the Russian language in conditions of double discrimination, even though the Ukrainian Constitution stipulates the protection of national minority rights. And it directly mentions Russians.

We have informed the EU that there are Hungarian, Bulgarian and Polish communities in Ukraine and called on them to join forces to protect the rights of the national minorities at the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe. We sense a trend in each of these countries to settle the problems of their national minorities in Ukraine unofficially, and they don’t care what happens after that. I asked Josep Borrell if Brussels would support this policy. Absolutely not, he replied, adding that they would equally protect all national minority languages and that the EU would never be content with exemptions for their minorities. But these exemptions have already been made. A law prohibiting primary school tuition in any language other than Ukrainian was to become effective as of September 1. A three-year exemption has been approved for the EU languages, but not for the Russian language. I asked Josep Borrell why this was so. He answered that they were working on this problem.

I don’t think a repetition of genocide in its classical form is possible today, but regrettably, discrimination trends will be gathering momentum. Speaking about Karabakh, we maintain contact with Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as with Turkey and Iran as their neighbours. Today I had a telephone conversation with [French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs] Jean-Yves Le Drian, during which we also spoke about Karabakh. The presidents of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group – Russia, France and the United States – have made a very strong statement. We are now preparing a statement of the three countries’ foreign ministers.  However, what we need is not only statements but practical moves that can be made to end the bloodshed and resume negotiations.

You have mentioned that Emmanuel Macron said in Vilnius that cooperation with Russia was crucial for finding solutions to problems. We fully share this view. He also met with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya there; she has met with a number of high-ranking officials from EU countries.

This has jogged my memory regarding a situation, I think it was in 2017, when Jean-Marc Ayrault held the post of foreign minister. In March 2017, Marine Le Pen came to Russia at the invitation of our parliament. She met with President Putin. Mr Ayrault criticised that meeting between the President of Russia and the leader of a large French party. He interpreted it as “an attempt to interfere in the election process.” “We would like to understand if this is so. France is not interfering in Russia’s internal affairs, and we hope that Russia will not interfere in our affairs either,” he said. This is how he commented on President Putin’s meeting with the leader of a French political party who had been invited to visit Russia by our parliament. Now look at the [Western] reaction to what is taking place in Vilnius and other places. This is double standards.

Question: First of all, I would like to point out the importance of [foreign] professionals returning to Russia so that they can resume their operations here. As for our exports to Russia, we would like to say that we account for 25 percent of them, and we would like to continue to increase our share. We can see great potential here, in particular, when it comes to raw materials. We should start with renewable materials and discuss recycling. We also need to coordinate certification issues and think about improving the furniture industry in Russia so as to be able to export more IKEA products from Russia.

Sergey Lavrov: I hope your products will not be designated as military or dual-purpose items, as was the case with Sweden’s Quintus Technologies, and that you will continue to supply us with affordable, solid and reliable furniture.

Sayyed Nasrallah to Macron: You’re Not Lebanon’s Ruler, Hezbollah Open to the French Initiative… US behind Failure

Sayyed Nasrallah to Macron: You’re Not Lebanon’s Ruler, Hezbollah Open to the French Initiative… US behind Failure

Zeinab Essa

Beirut-Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah delivered on Tuesday a televised speech in which he tackled various internal and regional issues.

At the beginning of his speech, Sayyed Nasrallah offered condolences to Kuwait and its people over the demise of Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah. “The late Kuwaiti leader played a personal and major role in ending Lebanon’s civil war. The Lebanese people neither forget the role of the late Emir in ending the civil war, nor the Kuwaiti role during the July 2006 war, supporting Lebanon and reconstructing it” he said, noting that “Kuwait still maintains its honorable stance towards Al-Quds and Palestine, unlike the train of normalization.”

Meanwhile, His Eminence praised the coherent stance of Kuwait under its late Emir against pressures on Gulf nations to join normalization with the Zionist entity.

On another level, Sayyed Nasrallah hailed the efforts and sacrifices of the Lebanese army and forces that had recently confronted the armed terrorist groups in Northern Lebanon. “The armed groups in north Lebanon were plotting major military action against the country.”

He further offered condolences to the Lebanese army and the families of the martyrs that have fallen in the battle. “We have previously warned against the attempts to revive Daesh [Arabic Acronym for the terrorist ‘ISIS’/’ISIL’ group] again in Iraq and Syria, and it is natural that preparations began in Lebanon to justify the American forces’ presence in the region,” His Eminence added, pointing out that “After the assassination of martyrs [Qasim] Soleimani and [Abu Mahdi] al-Muhandis, Washington started reviving Daesh.”

In parallel, the Resistance Leader declared Hezbollah appreciates the popular position in the north and the people’s rallying around the army and security forces.

According to His Eminence, “Washington is trying to justify its continuous presence in the region under the pretext of the international coalition to fight Daesh, which it seeks to revive in the region.”

On another level, Sayyed Nasrallah underscored that “The “Israeli” enemy’s army is still at the highest level of alert and is still hiding, and this is the longest period that the occupation army lives in this way without having its soldiers moving [from their places].”

Reiterating that Hezbollah still intends to retaliate to the martyrdom of one of its fighters in Syria, the Resistance Leader responded to “Israeli” PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims that Hezbollah is storing missiles near a gas station.

On this level, Sayyed Nasrallah announced that Hezbollah Media Relations is to invite local media outlets to the site at 22:00, to let the world discover his lies.

“We’re not obliged to invite journalists to any site mentioned by Netanyahu, but we are doing this now due to the sensitivity of the situation after the August 4 explosion,” he stressed, noting that c.”

According to His Eminence, “Our measure is to make the Lebanese people aware amid the battle of consciousness, and to let them know that we don’t put our missile between residential houses.”

On the political front, Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted that “The French initiative was published and we all agreed on it. We said we support it. The first step was to name a PM.”

“The work has started and the parliamentary blocs started to consult to agree on naming Hariri or whomever he names. Meanwhile, the club of the four former PMs was formed. We did not put any conditions when Mustafa Adib was nominated and did not make any prior agreement to show our intention to facilitate the process,” he recalled.

His Eminence went on to say, “There are those who said that the designated PM would hold negotiations, but the parliamentary blocs and the president of the republic have not been contacted.”

Moreover, Hezbollah Secretary General disclosed that “Adib did not consult with the President of the Republic, a prepared file was handed to him, and the most important authority for the President- i.e. to participate in forming the government- would have been dropped out.”

“The French must know where they erred, especially as to eliminating the President’s most important remaining power, which is participation in the formation of governments,” he added, noting that “The one who negotiated with us over the government wasn’t Adib, but PM Saad Hariri.”

Sayyed Nasrallah also mentioned that “The naming of ministers for all sects in Lebanon by a single person is dangerous for the country. The Ex-PMs club wanted to distribute portfolios and name the ministers alone.”

“Some wanted to eliminate the parliamentary blocs and the President’s powers and they sought to introduce new norms,” he stated, pointing out that “When we asked whether the French initiative included what was proposed by the club of ex-PMs, we were answered by ‘NO’.”

In addition, Sayyed Nasrallah confirmed that “We rejected what was presented to us because it forms a threat to the country and is not a subject of discussion. The French initiative neither mentions the number of ministers nor the rotation of portfolios.”

His Eminence underlined that “At one point there was an attempt to form a de-facto government. The way things were tackled with regard to the government is unacceptable in Lebanon, regardless of its sponsor or supporter.”

“We have always said that the reason for our presence in the government is to protect the back of the resistance,” he added, warning that “The coercion method does not work in Lebanon, regardless of its advocates and sponsors, be them the US, France or Europe.”

On the same level, Sayyed Nasrallah reminded that Hezbollah “must be in the government to protect the back of the resistance so that May 5, 2008 will not be repeated in Lebanon,” noting that “The second reason behind our participation in the government is fearing for what has remained from Lebanon economically, nationally and on all other levels.”

“What if a government accepts the conditions of the IMF without any discussions? Do we agree on a government that increases taxes on citizens? What if a new government decides to sell the state’s assets,” he asked, statin, “We fear for the state property and people’s money.”

Meanwhile, His Eminence addressed the French President Emanuel Macron by saying: “Did the French initiative say that the ex-PMs form the government and name ministers? Hajj Mohammad Raad told Macron that we agree to 90% of the French initiative, and here we ask, what is it that we agreed upon and did not respect? What you are asking from us contradicts with democracy. You are asking the parliamentary majority to bow and cede power to the parliamentary minority.”

To Macron, Sayyed Nasrallah sent a clear message: “Look for the party that wanted to control the country and eliminate the political forces under your cover. President Macron, who accused us of intimidation, is the one who practiced the intimidation policy against the heads of parties in order to pass the government.”

He also emphasized that Hezbollah “prevented the country from moving towards the worse, and we hope that the Lebanese will cooperate so that the country doesn’t move into the worst.”

Explaining that Hezbollah has not committed to hand over the country to any kind of government, he told the French President: “We know how we adhere to our promises, fulfill it and sacrifice in order to abide by it. Our enemies and friends know that we honor our pledges. We upset our friends to fulfill our promises.”

Once again, he repeated that Hezbollah “did not go to Syria to fight civilians. We went there at the invitation of the Syrian government to fight the groups that you named as terrorists.”

“It was not us who chose war, the Zionists rather occupied our land and attacked us,” he told Macron, stressing that “We do not accept that anyone speaks to us in this language. A settlement is different than surrender. We do not practice the game of terrorism and intimidation against anyone in Lebanon. We do not practice intimidation, but Arab countries that you protect and are friendly to you, doesn’t allow a tweet that criticizes the king to be written.”

In addition, Sayyed Nasrallah said: ‘Iran doesn’t interfere in Lebanon, and we in Hezbollah and Amal Movement decide what to do.”

He further sent the French President a clear advice: “If you want to search for those who thwarted your initiative, look for the Americans who imposed sanctions and complicated the situation.”

In a sounding message, His Eminence stated: “We do not accept the arrogant behavior and that you accuse us and other Lebanese with committing treason. We welcomed the role of President Macron and the French initiative to help Lebanon but not to be an Attorney General, inspector, judge, guardian or governor of Lebanon. There isn’t any mandate neither for the French president nor for others to be guardian or ruler of Lebanon.”

However, Sayyed Nasrallah kept the door open for discussion: “We still support the French initiative, but the language must be reconsidered because what was attacked the last two days ago is the national dignity,” he said, noting that “We are still open to the French initiative for the benefit of our country, and we insist on cooperation to pass from bad to good.”

On another level, Sayyed Nasrallah hailed the stance of the Bahraini people despite oppression and risks, particularly the Bahraini scholars’ rejection of Al-Khalifa regime’s normalization with the “Israeli” enemy.

“The stance of the Bahraini people is honorable and [truly] represents the people of Bahrain. The authority in Bahrain doesn’t own its decision, it rather operates as a Saudi-affiliated state,” he said, pointing out that “The people of Bahrain, despite their wounds, and despite the presence of many of their leaders and symbols behind bars, have said their resounding word of truth in the era of silence, subservience and submission.”

He also warned of Sudan’s move towards normalization.

In addition, Sayyed Nasrallah hailed the official and popular stances of Tunisia and Algeria against the normalizations, and urged the Sudanese people not to accept being part of the normalization under the pretext of lifting its name from the “terror list”.

“We’re not worried about all what is happening in the region as long as the Palestinian people keep adhering to their rights,” he assured.

بين الموقف السعودي والفيتو الأميركي… ودور نادي الرؤساء!

حسن حردان

شكل موقف الملك السعودي سلمان بن عبد العزيز، في كلمته أمام الجمعية العامة للأمم المتحدة، لناحية توجيه الاتهام الى حزب الله بالإرهاب، واشتراط عودة الاستقرار للبنان بنزع سلاح المقاومة، شكل مؤشراً واضحاً لا لبس فيه على تماهي موقف المملكة مع الهدف الأميركي المُراد تحقيقه في لبنان في هذه المرحلة، كون الموقف السعودي إنًما هو يُجسّد ويُترجم السياسة الأميركية في لبنان وعموم الوطن العربي والشرق الأوسط.. ذلك أنّ السياسة السعودية إنما هي مرتبطة تماماً بالسياسة الأميركية، وليست مستقلة عنها…

والهدف الأميركي هو إخراج حزب الله وحلفائه من السلطة وتغيير المعادلة النيابية، في سياق خطة مدروسة، كان قد شرحها بالتفصيل السفير الأميركي السابق في لبنان جيفري فيلتمان في شهادته الشهيرة أمام الكونغرس الأميركي في شهر تشرين الثاني 2019.

ولتحقيق هذا الهدف، أقدمت واشنطن على تشديد الحصار المالي على لبنان وتفجير الاستقرار فيه وربط تسهيل الحلول للأزمة ورفع الحصار عن لبنان بإقصاء حزب الله وحلفائه عن السلطة التنفيذية، عبر فرض تشكيل حكومة من الاختصاصيين، يكون ولاؤهم للسياسة الأميركية، لضمان تنفيذ خطة إنجاز انقلاب سياسي في لبنان على غرار انقلاب 2005 للسيطرة على السلطة وتحقيق الأهداف الأميركية التي تنسجم أيضاً مع الأهداف الصهيونية… وهي:

فرض الهيمنة الأميركية على لبنان وإخضاعه بالكامل لتوجهات الولايات المتحدة، وإنهاء وجود المقاومة ونزع سلاحها، وتأمين أمن الكيان الصهيوني، وفرض اتفاق لترسيم الحدود البحرية والبرية بين لبنان وفلسطين المحتلة يحقق لكيان العدو أطماعه في ثروات لبنان النفطية والغازية والمائية، وصولاً إلى فرض خطة القرن لتصفية القضية الفلسطينية، والتي لا يمكن أن تفرض طالما هناك مقاومة تملك القدرات والإمكانيات الردعية وتشكل جزءاً من محور مقاوم يعيق تعويم مشروع الهيمنة الأميركي…

لذلك فإنّ طرح موضوع المداورة في حقيبة وزارة المالية، ومن ثم إعلان رئيس الحكومة السابق سعد الحريري اقتراح أن يسمّي الرئيس المكلف مصطفى أديب وزير شيعياً مستقلاً، إنما يضمر محاولة تمرير الخطة الانقلابية الأميركية السعودية الأشمل، والتي تقتضي قلب المعادلة في لبنان عبر تغيير قواعد اللعبة السياسية وفرض آليات جديدة لتشكيل الحكومة، يتولى نادي رؤساء الحكومات السابقون التحكم فيها من خلال إظهاره في صورة، أولاً، من يسمّي الرئيس المكلف، وثانياً، من يشكل معه الحكومة من دون أيّ مشاركة من الكتل النيابية ورئيس الجمهورية، وأنّ المطلوب ألا يعترض أحد على ذلك، والقبول بالتشكيلة الحكومية والطريقة المبتكرة في تأليفها، وإلا تكونوا، (أيّ الكتل النيابية التي تمثل الأكثرية)، تعرقلون المبادرة الفرنسية، وتقفون عقبة في طريق إنقاذ البلاد من الكارثة الاقتصادية والمالية إلخ…

والرهان في محاولة تمرير هذه الخطة من قبل نادي الرؤساء، إنما على…

أولاً، إحداث شرخ في العلاقة بين التيار الوطني الحر وحزب الله وصولاً الى تفكيكه.. من خلال محاولات فريق المستقبل والقوات اللبنانية، التصويب بشكل مستمر على هذا التحالف بتحميله مسؤولية الأزمة من جهة، وتغذية التناقضات والخلافات والعمل على تأليب قواعد الطرفين ضدّ بعضهما البعض من خلال إثارة الشائعات عبر وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي.

ثانياً، إطلاق مناورات مستمرة مفخخة لوضع تحالف حزب الله ـ أمل في وضع حرج… فإذا قبل يكون قد وقع في فخ الموافقة على ولادة حكومة انقلابية يسمّيها، من ألِفها إلى يائها، الرئيس المكلف مصطفى أديب ومن ورائه نادي رؤساء الحكومات السابقين، أما إذا رفض التحالف فإنه يجري اتهامه بالعرقلة ويُحمّل المسؤولية عن تعطيل تشكيل الحكومة.

ثالثاً، ممارسة الضغط الاستثنائي على التيار الوطني عبر…

1

ـ استغلال المبادرة الفرنسية التي تلقى قبولاً وترحيباً عاماً، لا سيما في الوسط المسيحي، انطلاقاً من الارتباط الثقافي والعلاقات المصلحية الاقتصادية مع الغرب.

2

ـ الضغط الأميركي بسلاح العقوبات، والذي رفع الأميركي من منسوب التهديد به لقيادات في التيار الوطني وفي المقدمة الوزير جبران باسيل، إذا ما وقف ضدّ تشكيل حكومة يختارها أديب.. وكانت العقوبات على الوزيرين السابقين، علي حسن خليل ويوسف فنيانوس، في سياق هذه الخطة الأميركية لإرهاب حلفاء حزب الله ودفعهم إلى الرضوخ للمطلب الأميركي القاضي بفرض تشكيل حكومة تكنوقراط أميركية الهوى. تكون الأداة لتمرير جملة الأهداف المُراد تحقيقها في لبنان…

3

ـ ممارسة الضغوط من قبل بكركي على الرئيس ميشال عون، لمنعه من الاعتراض على تشكيل حكومة، منزلة عليه بالبراشوت، وبالتالي دفعه الى التخلي عن ممارسة صلاحياته الدستورية التي تضمن له الحق بالمشاركة في تأليف الحكومة مع الرئيس المكلف.

انطلاقاً مما تقدّم، باتت الصورة واضحة، مهما جرى تمويهها، وهي الضغط بكلّ الوسائل لفكّ عرى التحالف بين التيار الوطني الحر وحزب الله، وفرض تشكيل حكومة اللون الأميركي.. واقتراح الرئيس الحريري بأن يسمّي أديب وزيراً مستقلاً للمالية من الطائفة الشيعية، لا يخرج عن هذا السياق، وهو مناورة حيكت في مطبخ نادي رؤساء الحكومات السابقين، لتعلن باسم الحريري لضمان خطة الرجعة في حال فشلت محاولة تمريرها، والرئيس فؤاد السنيورة يتقن حياكة مثل هذه المناورات المفخخة، التي جرى تصويرها على أنها تنازل كبير في حين هي بالجوهر تريد دسّ السمّ في العسل، لتمرير حكومة يختار كلّ وزرائها نادي الرؤساء.. وفي الحالتين هي خروج على دستور الطائف الذي يحدّد بوضوح كيفية تشكيل الحكومة على أسس التمثيل البرلماني والطائفي والميثاقي.. كما يحدّد دور رئيس الجمهورية في المشاركة في عملية تأليف الحكومة مع الرئيس المكلف…

من هنا فإنّ المهمة الملحة الملقاة على عاتق تحالف حزب الله والتيار الوطني الحر إنما هي…

1

ـ التنبّه لخطورة المخطط الذي يستهدف النيل من تحالفهما، وإقصائهما عن السلطة وإضعاف تمثيلهما الشعبي والوطني.. وإعلان التمسك، أكثر من أيّ وقت مضى، بهذا التحالف، (وهو ما أكد عليه بالأمس الوزير باسيل)، والعمل على تحصينه والتصدي بخطة موحدة بالتنسيق مع كلّ القوى الوطنية، لمنع الانقلاب على قواعد دستور الطائف التي تضمن مشاركة الكتل النيابية وفق أحجامها التمثيلية، وعلى أسس التمثيل الطائفي والحفاظ على الميثاقية.. ريثما يتمّ تطبيق البنود الإصلاحية في اتفاق الطائف، لإلغاء الطائفية السياسية المنصوص عليها في المادتين 95 و22 من الدستور.

2

ـ الامتناع عن إطلاق أيّ تصريحات علنية حول مسائل الخلاف، والتركيز على أهمية القضايا المشتركة التي قام عليها التحالف، لا سيما في هذه المرحلة التي يستهدف فيها هذا التحالف بسهام أميركية مسمومة، وبسهام خصوم الداخل، الذين يراهنون على تفكيك التحالف لتحقيق ما يطمحون إليه من العودة إلى فرض هيمنتهم على السلطة، وإضعاف شعبية وتمثيل التيار الوطني الحر في الشارع المسيحي باعتبار ذلك مقدمة أيضاً لمحاصرة حزب الله المقاوم.. وهو ما يشكل أيضاً هدفاً مركزياً لرئيس حزب القوات سمير جعجع، الذي باتت تتمحور معظم مواقفه حول كيفية تحقيق هذا الهدف الذي يعتبره هو الأساس في نجاح أو فشل الخطة الأميركية الانقلابية للإمساك بناصية القرار السياسي في لبنان وقلب المعادلة النيابية…

Venezuela – A Tribute for Endless Pursuit of Democracy

Venezuela – A Tribute for Endless Pursuit of Democracy

September 19, 2020

by Peter Koenig for The Saker Blog

Venezuela is again the shining light of Democracy – pushing ahead with the 6 December National Assembly (NA) elections – despite the endless challenges of covid – of sanctions, of embargos, of confiscation of foreign assets, and even of a totally illicit blockage of reserve currencies – Venezuela’s gold – naturally in the world’s protectorate of international financial fraud, The City of London.

This unique drive for democracy against all odds succeeds to a great degree thanks to President Maduro, who relentlessly resists not only the attempts against his life, but the lies and vilifications about Venezuela from most of the western world, led, of course, by the United States, followed closely by the European Union which, it seems, dominated by NATO, can’t break loose from being at Washington’s bidding.

It is sad to see European states – hands and minds still dripping of colonial blood, not being able to break the stranglehold of their genocidal past – and step onto a new plate, into a new history – fighting for justice and human rights. An example how far from this eye-opening conscientious awakening Europe is, was again demonstrated today by the EU Commission’s call to “sanction” Russia for the totally unproven Navalny poisoning, by stopping the almost completed Nord Stream 2 German-Russian gas pipeline project.

Never mind the absurdity, that Germany and the EU are punishing themselves, not only because alternative badly needed gas supplies will be considerably more expensive – and god forbid – may be coming from US fracking sources. In other words, the EU would approve of an environmental disaster. Many of EU member countries are by their Constitution barred from using fracking gas or oil.

And again, the EU vassalhood – to call it what it is – refused President Maduro’s invitation to observe the December 6 elections. Mr. Maduro went out of his way to invite all the important opinion makers to come and observe the fairness of the elections, including the UN and the Europeans. The latter prefer not to see the correctness with their own eyes, but being able to criticize what they have not seen. There is no darker blindness than that emanating from not wanting to see.

And that of course only, because the European leaders (sic) – all shoe-ins by an international deep state elite – will do whatever it takes to preserve as long as possible the unsustainable – an unfettered, neoliberal no holds barred capitalism. The WEF (World Economic Forum) calls it best: The Great Reset – the upwards reorganization of assets. After the very elite-made global covid hoax has destroyed and continues to devastate most of what was the world economy, what gave work and food to billions of people – people are dwelling in the gutters with nothing left – no health care, no shelter, no food – no hope. The latter is the killer.

Venezuela is the antidote to this western usurping approach to civilization – what’s left of it. Venezuela pursues justice and fights for equality. By the way, Venezuela is in the honorable company of Cuba, Syria, Iran, Russia and China. The US, alias the west, cannot tolerate an example of ethics in its hegemonic orbit. Western allies – united under the boot of NATO – pretend freedom is their cause, while their own people suffer from unfathomable injustice every day – poverty and famine of children is skyrocketing in the Global North, the so-called developed or industrialized world – the bankers world, the world of those who indebt the Global South into dependence, into the Global North’s neo-colonies.

Venezuela, on the contrary, aims at eradicating poverty famine and misery – and that despite her constant strangulation by Washington and their western allies, and even by some of what should be their Latin Brothers, the Lima Group, formed in August 2017 in Lima, Peru (12 members as of December 2019: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Guyana, Saint Lucia, Bolivia and Haiti).

Imagine – how much pressure these Lima Group countries are under to accuse, boycott, denigrate and speak out in international fora against their fellow Latin Americans of Venezuela. Once upon a time there was a United Latin America – united under the leadership of Venezuela’s Simon Bolivar. With the onset of the British Empire’s transatlantic move of its power center to become the United States of America, the southern part of the America’s became what recent US Presidents called “our backyard” – ready to be usurped in any way possible, mostly in the form of military dictatorships and lately by Washington-induced coups against democratically elected heads of states.

However, the spirit of Simon Bolivar, El Libertador, lives on. Together with Nicolas Maduro’s tenacious will for freedom, for autonomy, for full sovereignty for Venezuelans, their use and destiny over natural resources, may prevail and influence upcoming elections in Bolivia (October 2020), Chile (October 2020 referendum on whether a new Constitution ought to be drafted, replacing the one dating back to Pinochet), Brazil (municipal election in November 2020) and Ecuador (general elections in February 2021).

Venezuela’s overarching strength by solidarity and endless fight for justice and Human Rights, brought the opposition to its knees. The right-wing Washington supported opposition, led by self-nominated “president” Juan Guaidó, boycotted past elections, so as not to show their weakness vis-à-vis the rest of the world. Now, perhaps the real head of opposition, Henrique Capriles, is changing tactics. Realizing that the only way to have any say in the political arena of Venezuela is by participating in it, he is calling for participation in the 6 December National Assembly elections.

President Maduro has always invited participation of the opposition in elections and will welcome their presence for the December 2020 NA elections too. Because Democracy is at the heart of Chavismo, the very socialist thought being carried forward – steadily, without wavering, by President Maduro and his Government. – Viva! Venezuela’s Democracy – a shining light for the Americas and for the world.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.  Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Presidents that play chess

Presidents that play chess

September 15, 2020

by Katerina for the Saker Blog

This is a follow-up to my previous contribution, the “Relentless March” and I have to warn you, this one will be much harsher as it will be highlighting some home truths for east Europeans. If you are not ready or simply do not want to face those, I suggest you stop reading now.

In this essay, among other things, I will also try to provide some explanations as to why Russian President (VVP as he is widely known) does not respond to western provocations the way some people would like him to and it seems to bother them, especially those who see the perceived lack of response on his part as an indication of some weakness and indecisiveness..

He is none of that.

Although I have to admit that once I was one of these people. When ukro-nazis embarked on their killing spree in Donbass (historically part of Russia) and started killing Russian population there, I was absolutely enraged that the Russian Government has allowed for this horror to take place.

Looking back at it in a much calmer light I eventually realised that THAT was, without doubt, the right response on the part of Russia. If it got itself involved in that provocation, the body count would have been much, much higher.. besides, Donbass was helped in other ways.

What is a provocation? It is something that your enemy sets up, expecting you to react to it the way they were hoping you would react. So, what you do not do is GIVE them what they expected.

I will also admit that my understanding of this and other things to do with the actions of the Russian President are entirely due to my very calm, collected and analytical husband of Scottish ancestry, who would very patiently explain to me as to why VVP is doing what he does. Although, he had to calm me down first! He understood much better the Russian President’s thinking and actions, better than his Russian born wife! Must be the man thing. : )

I will also touch upon the attitudes towards Russia by former Eastern Bloc allies – former Warsaw Pact members and the reasons for their disturbing Russophobia that is being displayed towards Russia in the last couple of decades.

First on VVP.

President Putin is an exceptional strategist, not to mention, analyst and he sees all of this as a long engagement, very much the same as Chinese in that respect. The short- lived satisfaction of hitting back at every provocation thrown at him is definitely not the way he operates. He will respond only when that response is absolutely required, as in retaliatory sanctions on EU, which apparently now costing them BILLIONS, and his response will be selective and painful. He has also very adequately retaliated for the expulsion of Russian Diplomats after the made-up by UK Skripal nonsense.

He looks far ahead and plans accordingly. Crimea is a very good example of that. He knew what was brewing up in Ukraine for much longer than anyone of us, the Russian intelligence service is second to none, and he was absolutely prepared for that. The speed of his counter-actions there was breath-taking.

And here I will describe the sheer imbecility and stunning ignorance of some morons (no other way to describe them) in the USA administration. Did you know that one of their main objectives in meddling in Ukraine was to remove the Russian Naval Base from Crimea and replace it with their own? They even made plans for the adaptation of the barracks there! Talk about absolute insanity and DELUSION. They actually thought that they could pull that off!! Beyond belief.. But that’s the mentality of the people Russians are dealing with here. The sheer ignorance of not only a country’s history but also it’s sacrifices is incredible! Russian Crimea has always been an extremely important asset to Russia, hence the several and very bloody wars it had to fight with the Ottoman Empire to wrench it back from them. Since then it has always been the home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet- it is a highly strategic naval base, which also of course, gives Russia an access to the Mediterranean and beyond.

Those imbecilic morons, who planned such idiocy actually thought that they could just cruise in there!! Oh my God… what passes for brains among that lot?!

Their sanctions, which were wheeled out almost immediately when their plan did not succeed, was the result of what can only be described as “sour grapes”. Their Euro “allies” were rather reluctant to join them in those sanctions as most Europeans know very well that Crimea has always been Russian, for more than two centuries, and were fearing the reciprocal sanctions from Russia.

To force their Euro vassals to join them in imposing the sanctions, the imbeciles decided that something needed to be done to make that happen. And so, together with their ukie flunkies that is exactly what they have carried out – an unbelievably evil and shocking crime of shooting down a passenger airliner. The screaming headlines that Russia did it and not only that, Putin himself was responsible, were all over their Western media even before “the wreckage hit the ground”. Their Euro “allies’ had no choice now but to go along with the sanctions. Cui bono? I will repeat again – this is the psychopathic mentality Russia and her President are dealing with.

As for those sanctions – here is a good example of when you “get lemons you turn them into lemonade”. Again, things were anticipated and everything was in place. Since Russian retaliatory sanctions, which were imposed on EU immediately, were to do with banning food imports from Europe, Russia had to become much more self-sufficient in providing for itself what was needed, also including substitutions. In fact, having more adequate self-sufficiency was something that the Russian President had been advocating for years prior – all of this totally played into his hands.

Donbass also wanted to re-join Mother Russia, same as Crimea, but VVP sees it as a very useful buffer and wants to keep it that way. Donbass is protected and now it is de-facto Russian, with same currency, pensions (Kiev “government” stopped paying those when the conflict started), same education programmes as in Russia and of course Russian passports. Russia has got back most of what for centuries belonged to it. Two more regions of what used to be called Ukraine – the south east of it, Mariupol and Odessa in the south (as Russian as it gets!) will eventually follow Donbass, and the rest, as far as Russia is concerned, can go to hell. The western part of so-called Ukraine is former Galicia, the ukro-nazis breeding ground that Russia wouldn’t want to touch with a barge pole, Poland can have it back. In fact, welcome to it!

“Ukraine” as most people know by now, is an artificial construct, (same as EU by the way and as such, will also have no longevity), was created by the Bolsheviks – some territory was added by Lenin (Novorussia), later, the Western parts, by Stalin after WWII and in 1954 Khruschev has “gifted” them Crimea, probably after having one too many one evening. Even under the Soviet Constitution at the time, that was ILLEGAL, as such a move required a Referendum, but being one big USSR with no borders between Republics it did not matter that much at the time. After the break-up of the Soviet Union all historically Russian parts of it should have been returned back to Russia. Ukraine hung on to these for one simple reason – money. Novorussia, which includes Donbass, was the most industrialised part of that country, as for Crimea, well, they were getting paid by Russia for the base.

As for the rest of the former USSR – the cheap little Baltic prostitutes – well, those three have already paid a very heavy price for prostituting themselves to the West. Their economies are routed, population drastically shrunk. Once the supply of money from EU dries out, they will be thrown to the kerb. What’s called “used and abused” and it will be richly deserved. Under no circumstances Russia would want those back.

Georgia is facing a similar fate – the country which owes its very existence to the protection by Imperial Russia at the time, from the total annihilation by Ottomans, and of course with loss of Russian lives.. Rings the bell, doesn’t it? What some of these former Soviet republics have discovered, is that without Russia they are rather nothing, non-entities. The West is simply using them and the very thing that they all had eagerly engaged in, meaning Russophobia – as was demanded and expected by their new, western Master, is now coming back at them with a vengeance. Most of them are broke, depopulated, despised, with no future prospects. That is the price you pay for Russophobia. I believe other countries in Eastern Europe should take some serious notice here as they are pretty much in the same boat, whether they would want to admit that to themselves or not.

After the collapse of the USSR the former Warsaw Pact members, comprising of Eastern Europe states became immediately “invaded” – by various western NGOs, “experts”, “advisors” and what not. Same was happening in Russia – the goal there of course, was looting and pillage, in Eastern block the goal was also plain and simple – to convert them all into one Russophobic entity. And once these countries became members of EU and NATO, well.. what can one say.

It usually starts with the re-writing of one’s history and inventing lies to fit that, and then the insidious, constant and pervasive brainwashing that the Soviet Union (and by extension, Russia) was bad, was an invader and aggressor, no better than the Nazis and Stalin was just as bad as Hitler, etc and so on, was unleashed and has never stopped..

Ironically, these East European nations that have suddenly achieved their long-cherished dream of becoming a part of this “EUROPE”, did not realise at the time that to this “EUROPE” they were nothing more than holops, good old-fashioned Russian word for lowly servant. As they were gleefully giving a middle finger to their Slavic brothers in the East, their new Western Master fully expected them to polish his boots, muck out the stables and fetch and carry. Pathetic is not even a good enough word to describe it. The day might come when you would NEED that Russia, but by then you would have burned all your bridges..

Now, what we have there is at least two generations of these east Europeans that are totally brainwashed, indoctrinated and absolutely ignorant of their ACTUAL history.

Their grandparents and even parents perhaps could tell them that life as they knew it, wasn’t that bad being part of the Eastern Block alliance with the Soviet Union. There was no “ghastly tyranny”, “oppressions” or “massacres” – it was in fact a peaceful and friendly cooperation. In case of the “INVASIONS” of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, well, at the time, the usual EXTERNAL players were trying to foment there the early versions of what is now called “colour revolutions” – obviously those two had to be brought back in line. It was an alliance after all.

One would think that in today’s world where you can get any information you need, there would be at least some attempt to get a true picture of your own history and not become victims of this despicable indoctrination and the vile, “in your face” propaganda. Critical thinking is obviously no longer taught in the class, let alone the ability to have an INFORMED opinion as compared to an acquired attitude. As a result, most of them now have a firm belief that Russia was and is some “enemy” – EXACTLY what your NATO masters want you to believe. The “West” has done it’s job rather well with you – producing generations of dumb-downed, ignorant and brainwashed, and to that lot we can add the sold-out, totally self-serving and west-worshipping “elites” and the rest is just a silent mass.

This is what most East European countries have become. Only Serbia so far has not sold itself out, but her government, unfortunately has, as was amply demonstrated by the latest developments, which I am sure made most Serbs cringe. This, your sad quisling “government” needs to be replaced, and fast. There are, no doubt, lots of great people in Serbia who love their country. Vote for these.

As for the rest of Eastern Europe, I will say this – re-writing your history is never a good move and neither is inventing lies to suit. Pulling down statues of Soviet heroes that liberated your countries from the Nazi scourge is just as bad. And shameful.

I will repeat – the EU is an artificial construct and as such will have no longevity and THEN where would you be?

Unfortunately, Russia also has few of those brainwashed morons as well. This rather useless idiot, Navalny, whom the West has been lovingly grooming to be a “face of Russian opposition” and who is a long-time recipient of Soros’s grants, even he has some following. Not large but none the less showing the exact same mentality shaped by some delusional beliefs picked up from so-called “social media” and in a very much the same age group. They don’t even realise that what they are displaying is a dumb, sheeple mentality and of course, ignorance. It is truly sad to see. I wonder how many of them will believe another made up garbage with another alleged “Novichok poisoning”, now of this twat. By the way, these politicians in Germany that are actually promoting this, do they comprehend as to how utterly stupid they come across with this idiotic accusation? Feel like saying to them – for crying out loud, give it a rest!

Just to note, according to Lavrov, UK still has not produced ANY evidence to support THEIR accusations of the totally made-up and “highly likely” Scripal “poisoning” tale. Well, how can one? But never mind, meanwhile the Russian Diplomats were expelled, en-masse, and some diplomatic properties illegally seized. Mission accomplished.

Sometimes I feel really sorry for both Putin and Lavrov as to what kind of people they have to deal with..

As for the Russian President, it has been often said that he is a very good chess player, and for a chess player to be that good he needs to anticipate his opponent’s every move, well in advance. Besides, he is playing that chess not on just one chessboard, but several at once and dealing with SUCH people it becomes quite a challenge to anticipate every deranged MENDACITY as being displayed by them.

What makes the Russian President stand head and shoulders above those Western politicians is not only his strategic thinking, but his morals and also his unshakable belief in a lawful approach in everything that matters. If you have signed some agreement you absolutely keep to it, if you have given your word you honour it.

In addition, he is also of course a judo master and for these who are not familiar with this particular form of martial art, the objective is to defeat your opponent by using THEIR OWN bulk and strength against them to get them off balance and then throw them on the floor. Hmm..

This is what THE WEST is dealing with when it comes to the President of Russia. There will be some detractors here, sadly without much ability for an astute analysis, who would immediately label me as being Putin’s fan, but we will ignore them. The man is formidable, in every respect.

What most Russians want from their President now is to show a much harder edge, and THAT is actually happening. Lavrov, being a Diplomat Supreme, has been showing this lately, quite noticeably, in his responses, which are now much more pointed, direct and blunt. Still, caution is required.

The hegemon is collapsing in front of our eyes and this is one of the most dangerous moments, but as I have pointed out in one of my previous comments, there is a very wise saying, I believe by SUN TZU – why disturb your enemy when it’s self- destructing. The only question is how much destruction can it wreak on the rest of us in its death throes. A very careful approach is absolutely essential now – the aim is to make this collapse more of a “controlled demolition” than to have it as a very destructive explosion in which many could be very badly hurt as a result, especially with regard to their economies, already rather shaky amid this “scamdemic”.

That is what, I believe, VVP and Xi are now working on, very carefully. Hence the very calculated responses to numerous stupid and nasty provocations. And lots of patience.

We are indeed living in very interesting times.

Unipolar Spin: Why Imperial Leftists Vilify Russia’s Social Democracy

Unipolar spin game: Why imperial Leftists vilify Russia's social democracy  -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net

Source

Joaquin Flores

September 14, 2020

A lie told a thousand times becomes the truth. In reading countless articles from the Atlantic Council press outlets (NYT, WaPo, VICE News, et al), we take for granted that modern Russia is a right-wing regime controlled by an authoritarian personality bent on total domination. As a result, the debate then gets framed on why or whether its right for leftists to attack it as such, since this is used to further justify collective punishment (sanctions) against a whole people.

What escapes us is why creating propaganda that will result in collective punishment is in any way the business of self-declared leftists in the first place. Historically, it hadn’t been, which raises big questions about who is really controlling the narrative and providing career paths and publishing opportunities for those who posture on the radical, even ‘anarchist’ left. We all know what happened to the self-imploded reputation of the Trotskyist Christopher Hitchens, that war-criminal scoundrel who offered some kind of left-cover for the crown’s imperial pretensions in Iraq. Millions died in part as a direct product of his work. Those who didn’t attend his funeral will tell you why.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that Russia is a social democracy, a fact erased from the collective understanding as a result of the insidious psychological operation being carried out on western audiences and Russians alike.

The End of Globalization: Unipolar Panic at the Rise of Multipolarity

The broader geopolitical problem for unipolar trans-Atlanticism is that much of the rest of the world has nearly caught up to the U.S. The unipolar moment is over, and multipolarity has arrived. This is a growing success and a great achievement for the people of Asia, Latin America, the Middle-East, and Sub-Saharan Africa. All wars and coups the U.S. has engaged in since the end of WWII were aimed at suppressing this multipolar eventuality. And yet multipolarity, as explained through the Atlantic Council and its imperial leftist scribes, is deceitfully presented as a neo-fascist threat to the people of the world, and one promoted uniquely by Russia. This would come as a surprise to the BRICS countries, and all those in their peripheries. It would defy the logic of Mercosur and the Sucre that these were established by sovereign state in Latin America at great cost, through the decades of surviving Washington Consensus dictatorships and the rule of U.S. Steel and the United Fruit Company, only to hand it to Moscow for now particular reason.

And yet this stands at the heart of vilifying Russia’s social democracy.

That multipolarity is a ‘Russian project’ is truly the most incoherent and chauvinistic geopolitical conspiracy theories in modern times, reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Narcissist Gaslighting

The rampant xenophobia that is allowed in the toxic Atlanticist press will no doubt be the subject of debate when those individuals soon lose their careers and livelihoods, because being a talentless hack makes one highly expendable. And this border-line racism and national chauvinism against a whole people and their representative government is increasingly being aired in broad daylight.

No, the waters won’t part, up will not become down, and the elites promoting a soft-power war on Russia won’t be overthrown. But their replaceable media-minions, who become too much of a liability with all the bad PR, will certainly be disappeared and erased.

We can set aside that Russophobic hate scribbling performed concertedly appears like a Operation Mockingbird psy-op, and yes, we can even ignore that over forty years ago the Church Commission revealed that the legacy newspapers have the international sections and editorials of their publications reviewed, approved, and even directly written by CIA agents and assets.

We can leave even alone that these are seemingly managed through a network of seemingly independent news and opinion outlets which nevertheless parrot each other’s talking points on the righteousness of NATO expansionism, the evils of Russia and Putin, and are organized under an Atlantic Council mandate.

What a perfect match, one no doubt made in heaven – to posture as some holier than thou concerned citizen of abuses around the world while in fact doing little more than feeding a crypto-nationalist media ecosystem bent on weapons sales and big ticket contracts for the U.S. military industrial complex. With enough self-delusion or narcissistic supply, they can even imagine that this is not what’s going on. One would imagine that it’s Russia, not the U.S. with 800 bases around the world. This is truly sick gaslighting, and all the well-paid flying monkeys are deployed with the named aim of doing just that.

Follow the Money – Promote Russophobia, Win Prizes

The Atlantic Council related publications which continue these Operation Mockingbird-like methods, have employed a number of ethically compromised imperial left-wing radicals to do the dirty work of gaslighting the American public on the political and socio-economic nature of countries being targeted by the U.S.

We can see from the evidence that the motley crew of imperial leftist Russophobes are those who aspire to be blue-check mark people on twitter and have regular opportunities at Atlantic Council approved publications. They want to be fast-tracked to full tenure in the increasingly partisan humanities and social sciences departments of various colleges and universities, and do the book writing and speaking tour gig. This is a relatively easy formula: virtue signal on domestic wedge issues like gender and race while ignoring class issues that would otherwise cause discomfort for their financiers, simultaneously doubling down on Atlantic Council approved Russophobia using those wedge issues – meanwhile ignoring or obfuscating the larger socioeconomic and geopolitical questions that provide more context and clarity.

After this storm has passed, it will be the subject of many books written by numerous historians, how and why it came to be that in the climate of virtue signaling political correctness, the only approved form of national chauvinism and borderline-racist conspiracy theories was Russophobic in nature. Those who engaged in it, while being creatures of their time and place, will be condemned and marginalized for the xenophobes that they were.

Their method, which is as dangerous to the left as it is misinformative to the public at large, is to use radical left criticisms of countries the U.S. is targeting for regime change and sanctions, even though there are effectively no countries (including most obviously the plutocratic U.S.) that meet their anarchoid standard. But by arbitrarily using an anarchist yard stick to measure the political correctness of some other country, they can issue these leftoid fatwas and make it so appear that Russia is uniquely problematic.

And the personal motivations of egomania aside, we only need to follow the money. And for our purposes today, just a fraction of it. Between George Soros’ Open Societies Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy’s lucrative grantsThe MacArthur Foundation, there are hundreds of millions of dollars being thrown at this soft-power endeavor.

Outside of philanthropy are the huge sums paid to ‘journalists’ and ‘authors’ directly by the billionaire blogs themselves, no doubt doing their part for Operation Mockingbird. You can bet your bottom dollar that the life of a collective-punishment-advocating ‘leftist’ in the employ of empire is neither a difficult nor impoverished one. They may appear homely, bookish, even shabby in their social media presentation, but that is part of the illusion, the veneer. Within the demented aesthetic-sphere of Anglophone left-radicalism, projecting depressiveness is akin to projecting virtue – an odd carryover from Puritanism. But in truth, they are neither hungry nor intellectual. They are well paid actors, and those who believe them have been duped.

Russia is the target of an ongoing campaign to vilify its leadership, with no shortage of tropes and dog whistling that this is an inherent feature of Russian culture itself. Like black-face, comedic ethnic impersonations are all but banned in the public sphere, unless it is of a Russian. The trope is so pervasive that even those trying to speak in the name of decreasing tensions, often frame their commentary in the name of peace by accepting that premise; that Russianness is inherently corrupt, misogynistic, authoritarian, and aggressive.

It is this very premise which must be challenged. The funny thing is, this task isn’t too difficult.

The Elastic Overton Window

By which rubric, by which method, do we compare the reality of targeted country like Russia to what is possible or even desirable?

Anarchist theory is ‘fantastic’ because anything one compares it to will necessarily fall short. It is reminiscent of Trotskyist criticisms of nominally socialist states, or Salafist criticisms of countries already within the Ummah. These societies, by definition, have to fall short because the self-declared ‘revolutionary’ nature of these belief systems must characterize anything short of their unattainable ideal as being a critical failure.

When it comes to assessing the reality of Russia’s cultural and sociopolitical system, the Overton Window of social acceptability is magically moved to the radical end of the anarchist left when Russia is the subject, for the forced result that we find Russia to be double-plus ungood, despite that those penning these pieces come from a country (the U.S.) far to the right on the socioeconomic matters which effect real working people.

The U.S. is Far to the right of Russia? Yes, we’ll explain

The fact that ski mask wearing anarchists are not free to run naked whilst flinging frozen chickens through kindergartens or Easter church services, is presented as evidence that Russia is an authoritarian state. The fact that Russia is a country, with a culture and history it finds worthy of being taught in schools, and with borders, and a standing army (!!) are taken as proof positive that Russia fulfills most of Umberto Eco’s ’14 Signs of Fascism’. And yet until last Tuesday, these were just understood of part of the fabric that makes a UN member-state … a UN member-state.

Every other country on earth has a school curriculum, has laws on public decency, and teaches the country’s narrative in its school system. When every other country is looked at, we are encouraged to see ‘normal’, and we apply a non-anarchist yard stick to measure it up. When it’s Russia, everything is problematized using every epithet from the critical school glossary. It is interesting, but upon close examination not strange, that these writers are able to get away with it. They do after all have the full support of the world’s last unipolar empire behind them.

The job of these writers is to misinform the left, and to turn the politics of class struggle into the politics of xenophobic national rivalry – a quintessential aspect of classical fascism. That they use apparently politically correct talking points couched within the framework of human rights, and terms borrowed from the vocabulary of the new-left is beside the point.

We must look instead at the perennial meta-political essence of that endeavor and not the particular forms it takes based upon the political or linguistic fashions of the day. The fact that we are better informed to understand fascism through the lens of a meta-political essence, points to a very big theoretical problems in the work of both Umberto Eco and Roger Griffin, as their entire composite heuristic explanatory paradigm is challenged in so doing.

It probably escapes people after that barrage of disinformation and national chauvinism parading as left-wing critique, that Russia is a social-democratic society.

It is Russia, not the United States that has universal healthcare and university education, vast public housing and useful programs for the disadvantaged, a multi-party parliamentary democracyearly retirement (60 m, 55 f), nearly two years leave with pay for new mothers. Russia, like any other social democracy also strong workplace protections against discrimination, a vigorous labor movement (35% union density in a formal workforce of 70 million), and codified rights for ethnic, linguistic and religious groups, and a no-holds barred private/citizen media complex that regularly attacks the country’s leaders and exposes the inevitable corruption that comes with large-scale societies and market systems.

Putin Serves the Russian Oligarchy Poorly – A Question of Democracy

While less-than-honest critics would say that Russia’s social democracy is merely a ‘carry-over’ from Russia’s former Soviet system, it begs the question: why nearly thirty years later, twenty-some of which being under Putin’s ‘right-wing oligarchy’, are these still soundly in place?

We are pressed with a difficult dilemma in the Russophobic narrative: Either Putin is the tyrannical tool of a rapacious oligarchy that has nevertheless failed to destroy Russia’s social democracy in 20 years, or Putin uses his vast powers to maintain its progressive social system against the right-wing oligarchy. In either event, the Swiss cheese that is the imperial left’s Russophobic narrative is evidently pungent.

Putin has been elected – and continues to win elections – for the past two decades. Isn’t this indicative of some large problem in the narrative? This is a question we have to turn on its head: why, in the U.S., have we taken for granted that our elected leaders should expectedly let us down and fail in their mandate with such prejudice that we want to throw them out every four or eight years? Why, in the west, has democracy been defined as dissatisfaction built upon betrayal?

How would a democratic society respond to a government that has, on the balance, solved and continued to solve the problems arising from the collapse of its former authoritarian self? Would they respond by throwing that government out, or by re-electing it?

This is not to view Russia through rose-tinted glasses, or to ignore the problems that it has: largely similar problems that face the world in the context of global capitalism. Russia has problems in wealth inequality, as well as too high an incarceration rate – though still one that pales in comparison to the U.S. by nearly half. But our view is offered knowing that such criticisms are so vast in their abundance, and so mandatory in every western publication, that not fixating on these here in no way obstructs audiences from accessing them elsewhere. What we bring is some balance and perspective.

What characterizes Russia’s social democracy are things which the left-most wing of the Democrat Party in the U.S., led by figures like Bernie Sanders, would consider absolute victories to achieve. And yet nevertheless we are confronted with a media barrage that blindsides us with misinformation to the extent that this basic truth is lost upon us. Fortunately, that tide is turning and will turn all the faster as we understand the reality of modern Russia through a sober and honest lens.

Why Today’s India is on the Wrong Side of History

Why Today’s India is on the Wrong Side of History

September 13, 2020

by Allen Yu for the Saker Blog

Recently, I wrote a short comment in the piece India’s border policies line with Thalassa noting that “India is on the wrong side of history.” It was too “conclusory” a comment deserves to be better explained. So I’d like to take a brief time why I think India is on the wrong side of history in siding with America against China today.

I’d first like to take a larger view of history.

Historical Context

Human history has for the most part gotten better over the last few tens of thousands of years. Our technology has advanced. Our life expectancies have increased. The last 200 or so years have seen the most explosive advances. The pace of scientific and technological advances has created a world beyond the wildest dreams of our ancestors.

And if we believe that the human spirit of ingenuity will continue, as there is no reason not to, then the best is still yet to come. 90% of all scientists that have ever lived are alive today. If we can have peace and the world allowed to be free from hegemonic oppression, I’d say the future is bright for the human species.

Unfortunately, ominous dark clouds have hung over the world despite all the positive momentum of history. We live in a time of great paradoxes. Though the world is currently in a “time of peace,” with technologies and economies fast advancing, in relative overall prosperity, sponsored Color Revolutions and civil wars have been unleashed upon many nations, devastating regions from Iraq to Afghanistan to Ukraine to Egypt to Syria to Hong Kong. Economic sanctions have ravaged whole generations of peoples in regions from N. Korea to Turkey to Iran to Venezuela.

WWII by most accounts represents a righteous high point in history. It represents the defeat of the axes of fascism and colonialism. Yet, fascism and colonialism never left us. It got transformed and embedded into our new world.

The more things changed, the more we realize that many things haven’t changed. The poor and disposed of the colonial era are for the most part still poor and dispossessed. Russia is still the target of Western aggression after hundreds of years of antagonism. Even China – the presumed challenger to the West – has not escaped the trajectory of this history. Western powers – with their allies – are now actively scheming and working hard to suffocate China economically and technologically in an attempt to shove it back to a place of perpetual subservience to Western interests.

Some may argue say that Russia and China’s problems are that both had overplayed their hands. Russia had overextended itself in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and crossed the West’s “red line” in Ukraine. China has crossed the “red line” in the S. China Sea, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, etc.

The truth is that it is the West that has crossed the line in Europe, the Middle East and in Ukraine … and in S. China SeaHong Kong, and Xinjiang.

India’s Strategic Blunder

It is at this critical juncture that India has decided to pivot toward the West. India is making a gigantic strategic mistake. Here are some reasons why.

  • It does not make sense to make an enemy of 1.4 billion people. It’s is one thing to fight a border war, but it is quite another to actually join a group of others to contain the development and growth of 1.4 billion people. The wrath and actions coming out of the U.S. against China has been truly surprising and depressing. It is against the basic rights and dignity expressed in the UN charter. Why should India join that chorus? Chinese have no animosity toward the Indian people. However, the Indian populace – fanned by an irresponsible media with much rumors and fake news – has allowed itself to be whipped into a giant anti-China frenzy.
  • America – and the broader West – will not help India to develop. Many Indians fancy that India – after America decouples from China – will take the place of China and that the West is going to help pull India out of poverty the way it has helped to pull China out of poverty. That is just not going to happen. There are a few reasons for this.
    • First, America has squandered much of its capital since becoming the sole superpower with its endless wars since the fall of the Soviet Union. America today thinks the world as set up after WWII is set against it, with much of the world leaching off America’s largess. America will have no more of it. Enough has been enough! Never again will America work for another country!!! America now wants the world to serve it, not the other way around. If Indians think America had pulled China out of poverty (Chinese mince at that notion since they believe it is they themselves who pulled themselves out of poverty), they can rest assured America will not be able to do the same for India.
    • Second, the West has come to see the world not in win-win terms, but in zero sum terms. For a brief while, the West did experiment with some version of win-win globalism. While it infused globalism with its own suffocating ideologies and rules to benefit itself, it did for a while work on a flatter world. In this “flat world,” people the world over get to exchange ideas and goods and services with each other, for each other’s own benefits, all in a win-win fashion. But that period soon ended. It’s not just Trump. It’s the whole establishment and populace. The jealousy by which the West has come to guard their knowhow, markets, and manufacturing resources for Covid-19 vaccines represents just the tip of the ice berg. The West used to think of itself as a shining beacon for the world. It had first rate technology and science that attract the world over to learn and disseminate back to the world. Now, it considers people coming to learn and bring back knowledge as “stealing.” It considers manufacturing abroad as stealing. It considers R&D abroad as “stealing.” Whatever India hopes to get from America and the West, it is not going to be good jobs or know-how. America wants its manufacturing back. It has drawn from China’s rise the (incorrect) lesson that it should never help or allow another power rise. It doesn’t want to depend on China – or anyone else – to make anything but the lowest value items. It becomes suspicious when others make its masks, medical equipment, pharmaceutical products, software, cars, computers, etc. It will think twice, thrice, about ever helping to create a new peer competitor again.
    • America – and the broader West – is in decline. The West is in decline. There is no doubt about it. The writing is on America’s economic wall – or more accurately, in its Fed balance sheet. An economy cannot go on printing money. An economy cannot stay productive with prolonged low interest rates and paper printing, where the most productive and valuable thing it produces are military weapons. Many people talk about America’s “soft power.” I say B.S. If you take away America’s military, do you think America’s “soft power” will stand on its own? No. America’s “software power” will vaporize. American soft power stands on its military power. And America’s military power stands on the might of its economic power. Recently, that economic power is buttressed in part by China (through trade). But now America no longer wants to rely on faraway lands for anything. Once it starts decoupling from China, it will soon realize how weak it economically is. An economic reckoning will come. Such a inflection point would not necessarily bad for the American people. Stripped of its imperial duties and obligations, Americans can focus on the important things that had made America “America” again. But it means the days of the American Empire are ending. The days of America helping to lift another nation from poverty has long gone.
  • America – and the broader West – is not capable of negotiation. The West cannot keep any agreement that goes against their interests. When even the slightest of circumstances change, they find a reason to tear up the agreements, with the Iran nuclear deal but one example. Whatever deal India think it is going to get, it is not going to get what it thinks it will get. The relationship will only work song as so India gives up much more than it receives. This is the Western way. Forget about getting a fair deal. Forget about even getting a good deal. India is thinking about forging a long-term deal … I say be realistic. There is nothing special about India that will make the West change. Beggars can’t demand change. The West is not going to change its fundamental ways for you.
  • India will miss the boat in the rising Asian Century. The engine of the new global growth for the foreseeable future will be China and its surrounding neighbors. No one doubts that. Many ASEAN nations – despite having intractable territorial disputes with China in the S. China Sea – have decided to join China in building a shared future. India too has been invited but it has decided time and time against joining China because of its territorial disputes with China. This is short-sighted. China and India are old sister civilizations that have long interacted with each other. The notion of a straight line fixed territory is a Western concept. When we fixate on boundaries to the exclusion of everything else, we get led down a zero-sum intractable dispute.

China’s “community with shared future for mankind”

China is pushing forward a framework of “community with shared future for mankind” for foreign relations. This is a rejection of both traditional ideological based framework of international relations as well as the cold “realist” approach.

It is a rejection of traditional ideology in the sense it is truly agnostic about what forms of government or other ideologies other nations follow. As Deng Xiao Ping has been quoted to say, “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” It doesn’t matter if you have a left leaning or right leaning, or capitalistic or socialist, or “democratic” or “authoritarian” government, what matters is if you deliver good governance for the people.

It is a rejection of traditional realistic approach because it doesn’t really view might as the end and be all. While China acknowledges cold realism, it also aspires for a new world order that promotes global justice – which can be summarized as true sovereignty of each nation to develop as it chooses for its people.

The way to a stable world then – according to China – is to create an environment where we can raise the water for each other, shelving all conflicts as much as possible. Once everyone is better off enough – hopefully much better off than today – many issues – including territorial disputes – will become much easier to resolve.

Why Shelf Territorial Dispute?

So if we go back to the India and China territorial dispute: sure, the two neighbors can always fight to the death over a piece of territory, but that is missing the forest for the trees. What they need – above all else – is to develop each other’s society, to pull its peoples from poverty, to provide a better future for its people. What they need then is to meet each other somewhere in the middle and to enable each other to cooperate with each other. China’s faith – which should be India’s as well – is that the benefits of cooperation will in the future outweigh – far outweigh – any territorial concession each can make. It will outweigh territorial concessions because the sky is the limit to where each nation can develop.

If you think lifting 800 million out of poverty over 4 decades is amazing, think lifting 1 .4 billion between India and China over the next 4 decades! That’s the kind of vision and possibility we are looking at!!!

The way out of today’s intractable territorial dispute is to shelf it and to focus on things both sides can cooperate on, leaving the problem for a much more prosperous generation to settle on. The important thing is to build a bigger pie for our future generations instead of bickering over today’s limited pie.

Unfortunately India has decided to not only reject that vision, but to ally with U.S. to suppress China’s win-win shared common future from arising.

From China’s view, the world has been held hostage by the West for too long. Too many nations either cannot or do not want to stand up for their right to develop. The cost of standing up to the hegemon just seems too high. Many actually want to work with the hegemony, hoping to for fleeting crumbs of good will and vague rewards, even if it means enabling the hegemon to continue its pillaging and oppression over them.

The human psyche is a strange thing. While human beings have been known to rise to the highest of braveries in defense of justice, righteousness, honor, and faith, they can also be exceedingly weak and feeble. There are too many stories of a man or woman being beaten to death by a criminal, with passive crowds and strangers watching and passing by, doing nothing.

“Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime.” The world must go beyond taking short-term benefits from the West and learn to fish by themselves. It cannot always beg for a fish scrap here and there. It cannot keep fighting against or sabotaging each other for favors from the rich.

Too many of the areas of the world with territorial conflicts have arisen from their colonial legacy. The China-Indian territorial disputes arose from British colonial legacy (others that come to mind include the Palestinian issue, Cyprus, Kashmir, Pakistan-India animosity, etc.). The world must be able to through this trap to free themselves collectively from their colonial legacy.

The West – despite all its follies – continue to be strong. It has the most wealth, technologies, and strongest military. It can buy allies anywhere around the world. It can bribe and corrupt most governments around the world. But in the long term, it cannot last. The rest of the world must learn to stand up by itself.

Freedom and Development with Strings Attached

As the world currently stand, if nothing major is done, much of the fruits of science and technology will continue to accrue only to a few nations. The U.S. and the “West” has been the undisputed leader across a wide swath of science and technology in the 20th and 21th century. By their actions throughout history and today, we know Western dominance rests exclusively on their scientific and technological prowess. If their ideological prowess, not their technological prowess, is the source of their power, why are they so quick to demand others adopt their ideologies while remaining so protective of their technologies?

I mean … have you wondered why the West would want to shove down the rest of the world’s throat their version of “democracy” and “rule of law” … but get so worked up when others learn from them knowledge about science and technology?

Today, China is the only power capable of challenging all dimensions of the Western grip on of scientific and technological dominance – at least in the foreseeable future. But just as China begins to appear to be a credible competitor or alternative, the West is mounting an all spectrum attack on China to suppress its ability to access technology and markets around the world.

Thus we see that the West’s preaching of “free markets” and “rule-based economy” has always been a mirage. The British demanded “freedom” because they wanted the “freedom” to pillage on their own terms. They know that since they had the best technology and companies, the world is there for their picking if the barriers are broken down. Hence they worked to knock those barriers down!

The U.S. took on their mantle … and demanded “freedom” … too, also for the U.S. to pillage the world on their own terms. But when their dominance is threatened, the veil of “free markets” and “rule-based” trade systems has come down too.

From the Chinese view, the U.S.’s lack of confidence about China’s rise shows how insincere and hypocritical the West has always been about the world. Many Chinese have long seen through the façade of “ideologies,” and “norms” and “rules” masquerading hegemony real politik.

China’s dreams for win-win shared future are not false ideals. After all, it is not completely devoid of precedence. After U.S. helped to rebuild Europe and/or Japan, has the U.S. not received benefits from those regions? Of course! Not only have they contributed to advances in science and technology, they also provided a market for the U.S.

But there is a critical limit about American good will. Europe and Japan were allowed to succeed – but only up to a certain level. The main value of allowing Europe and Japan some prosperity is not in making those regions better off per se. The main value was in using those regions to contain Soviet Union / Russia and China. Europe and Japan understand their roles as subservient powers – and their roles as first lines of containment against Russia and China.

A Disgruntled West

Today, with U.S.’s political system and social fabric deteriorating, the U.S. is going through a fundamental rethink. The U.S. now openly thinks allies like Japan and Europe have been “taking advantage” of the U.S. The U.S. now wants payback. From its allies, it seeks better trade deals and more “protection money.”

And against China, it is on a crusade to stop its development. In China’s view, this is a red line and truly tragic. China believes the fundamental right of every people is the right to develop. It is the right of the U.S. to want to decouple from China. But to try to form an alliance to constrain the growth of 1.4 billion, as it had already with lesser powers such as N. Korea, Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela is to cross China’s fundamental red line.

India is on the wrong side of history because it is siding with a West that is going to such levels to extend its grip on dominating the world. Some time ago, I remember seeing Trump tweet out an edited version of Time’s cover of Trumpism outlasting Trump … lasting “4EVER”! There is an important kernel of truth to that video!

The West has changed. It is now open about wanting to dominate the world through suppression instead of being the light that draws the world.

Painting Itself into a Corner

In wanting to join the Western crusade against China, India too has crossed to the wrong side of history. In the coming multipolar world, India is positioning itself in a place where it will be difficult for it to develop. The capital and knowhow that can flow from a renewed China will no longer flow to India. By rejecting the Belts and Road Initiates and the RCEP, India is decoupling from Asia’s coming century.

Losing all that, but what does India have to gain? India will not be able to tease more territory out of China by playing tough. If India believes it can hang on the disputed territories against China, so too can China hang on to its disputed territories against India. Whatever India thinks it can do against China, China can do the same to India. This should be beyond any doubts!

So no new territories will be gained (or lost) through India’s current posture. What is lost however is the space for cooperation and mutual growth. India’s rejection of strategic cooperation perceived tactical gain is India’s tragic mistake today.

China is strong enough to go along without India if necessary. It is moving full steam ahead with its Belts and Road Initiative, RCEP, CJK, etc. It has formed a formidable relationship with Russia not based on ideology, alliance, political preferences, etc. – but based on building up and emphasizing common interests between two previous competitors. China and Russia will be friends not necessarily because the people “like” each other – although Chinese generally do have overwhelming positive feels toward the Russian people – but because their leaders have worked hard to ensure that they have develop and enhance many overlapping common interests.

A Relationship of Mutual Respect and Shared Common Future

Russia and China represents the sort of respectful, cooperative give and take relationship that China believes will represent the future of man-kind. They will succeed because such thinking not because you either join China or get kicked out on the high way. No, it will succeed because it will create far more than the West’s zero sum approach.

Now, don’t think everything is jolly good between Russia and China. I am sure the leaders have had many “frank” discussions about their differences … often. Historically China and Russia has had many issues. But rather than just hyping up (or burying, which is just as bad) their past, they have chosen to work on cooperating with each – to each other’s mutual benefits.

There is still time for India to join China. For eons China and India have coexisted with each other without a clearly demarcated border. Yes, in our modern world, we all long for clearly defined boundaries. But if that’s not possible, it should not be the end all and be all! Through cooperation, India and China can build a bright, shared future together, notwithstanding the territorial disputes. Now is the time for India’s leaders to decide if petty adventures on the border and allying with a dying hegemon are truly in India’s interest. Will India go down defiant, proud, and loud – but weak, petty, and trapped in the history of time?


Allen Yu is an IP attorney in Silicon Valley, a founding blogger at blog.hiddenharmonies.org, as well as an adjunct fellow at the Chunqiu Institute for Development and Strategic Studies. He holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a D. Engr., M.S., and B.S. from UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.

المبادرة الفرنسيّة باب للحلّ أم للحرب؟

ناصر قنديل

تمّ تسويق تدريجيّ لمقولة الوصول للحضيض المالي والاقتصادي كمدخل لتسويق ما يليها من مطالبات بات لها صدى شعبيّ بضرورة تلبية مطالب أي مسعى إنقاذي مهما كانت، حتى لو كان بعضها في السابق سبباً كافياً للتمترس وراءه، وجرى تصوير كل مطلب سياسي بصفته عرقلة، وكل دعوة لمراعاة التوازنات بصفتها تخريباً، وسبق ذلك جهد مبرمج لشيطنة كل سياسة، لتفرغ الساحة أمام سياسة واحدة، هي السياسة التي تزعم أنها غير سياسية، لأنها تلبس ثوب كيس المال، الذي يحتاجه اللبنانيون بعدما جرى الضغط الأقصى على لبنان لتجفيف موارده، سواء عبر تغطية فساد مستديم، أو عبر ترك الدين العام يتضخّم ويكبر ليصير سبباً للاسترهان وفرض الشروط، فما هو السياق الذي تفتحه المبادرة الفرنسيّة التي جاءت بثوب الإنقاذ ولاقت ترحيباً من الجميع، خصوصاً بعد تأكيد تمسك الرئيس الفرنسي أمانويل ماكرون باستبعاد قضايا الخلاف والتركيز على الإصلاحات الاقتصادية، والتعبير عن تجاوزه للحظر الأميركي على المقاومة؟

عشية تبلور صورة حكومة الرئيس المكلف بتشكيل الحكومة الذي ولدت تسميته في كنف المبادرة الفرنسية، تبدو الصورة سوداويّة، حيث نشأ عن الحركة الأميركية تعديل في التوجه الفرنسي، أو تظهيرا لنيات فرنسية مبيّتة منسقة، لكن في الحصيلة طرح على السطح بدلاً من تأجيل قضايا الخلاف، مشروع ينتقي من القضايا الخلافية المتصلة بالإصلاح السياسي عنوان المداورة ويريد تطبيقه جزئياً في تشكيل الحكومة، ومعه السعي لحسم أمر توازنات التوقيع السياسي الطائفي على المراسيم، الذي تمّ التعامل معه خلال الحكومات السابقة بمنطق تجاوز الخلاف وتأجيل الحسم، انطلاقاً من أن للمداورة معايير تطال الرئاسات إذا طالت المناصب السيادية غير المذكورة في الدستور ضمن التوزيعات الطائفية، وتبدأ بوظائف الفئة الأولى التي نصت المادة 95 على عدم تخصيصها بطائفة، ومن ضمنها حاكم مصرف لبنان ورئيس مجلس الإنماء والإعمار وقائد الجيش ومديرية قوى الأمن الداخلي والأمن العام وسواها، بحيث جاءت مفاجأة الإصرار على حسم الأمر من ضمن تشكيل الحكومة، مع دعوات لإطلاق يد الرئيس المكلف بصورة تعيد التذكير بصلاحيات رئيس الجمهورية وفقاً لصيغة 43، حيث يمارس السلطة رئيس الجمهورية يعاونه وزراء يختارهم، لتظهر محاولة فرض صيغة تمنح هذه الصفات لرئيس الحكومة في نظام طائفي هشّ، يفترض تغييره تمرير الحكومة بأقل التشنجات الطائفية، وصولاً للحوار الوطني حول عقد سياسي جديد، يأمل الكثيرون أن يكون الدولة المدنية من باب قانون انتخاب جديد خارج القيد الطائفي.

المشهد الثاني الذي يرتسم عشية تبلور التشكيلة الحكومية، هو مع الإصرار على التلاعب بالتوازنات الطائفية، بدلاً من التمهيد لتجاوزها وتخطيها، الاستعداد لعزل كتلتين نيابيتين كبيرتين عن المشهد الحكومي، تقع المقاومة في قلب تكوينهما، ومعهما حلفاء، ينتمون لخيار المقاومة، فتصير المبادرة الفرنسية بالحصيلة الواقعية مشروعاً شبيهاً بمرحلة حكم الرئيس أمين الجميل، سواء لجهة الهوية الطائفية للجهات التي تم إحراجها لإخراجها، أو لجهة هويتها السياسية المقاومة، وهذه مخاطرة تستدرج نحوها المبادرة الفرنسية أو تذهب المبادرة إليها عمداً، ما يضع الأسئلة الكبرى حول ما هو أبعد من الحكومة والوعود المالية التي تبدو مربوطة بشروط سياسيّة تنفذها حكومة موضبة سلفاً، والشروط تبدأ من ترسيم الحدود ولا يعرف أحد أين تنتهي، والتاريخ يقول إن مثل هذه المخاطرة لا تفتح إلا أبواب جهنم على لبنان، سواء كان ذلك عاجلاً أو آجلاً، فواحدة من النتائج تبشر بمشروع حرب أهلية، وثانية تبشر بفرضية حرب إقليمية، وكأن المطلوب استدراج 6 شباط ثانية أو حرب تموز 2006 أخرى؟

هل يستدرك ماكرون المخاطرة خلال الساعات الأخيرة؟

Related

توسّع أردوغان في شرق المتوسّط مسمار نعش النهاية..

سماهر الخطيب

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMPRESSIONS FROM AN INFORMAL MEETING WITH ASMA AL-ASSAD, SYRIA’S FIRST LADY

By Eva Bartlett

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*(All photos taken from the Facebook page “Asma al Assad – Syria’s First Lady“)

I had been sitting in a small entrance room for what seemed less than a minute when the door opened and Syria’s first lady, Her Excellency Asma al-Assad, greeted me with a warm smile, welcoming me inside a slightly larger sitting room. In official meetings I had had over the years in Syria, I was accustomed to a secretary or assistant escorting me into the meeting room. Asma al-Assad, however, does things up close and personal.

Over the years in Syria, I had heard from people I encountered that she and President Assad routinely meet with their fellow Syrians in crowded venues, mixing and engaging with the people. I had also seen countless photos and videos of the Assads visiting Syrians in their homes around the country.

While I have been to Syria over a dozen times in the past seven years, it had never occurred to me to request a meeting with the first lady. But when that opportunity recently presented itself, I leapt at the chance to speak with one of the most beloved figures in Syria, and to hear her thoughts on her country, her fellow Syrians, and on the plights they are all in. And as it turned out, it was a chance to hear her poignant insights on her role as a mother, a citizen, the wife of the President and a leader in her own right.

Even before assuming the role of Syria’s first lady, Asma al-Assad made it a priority to focus on the development of Syria, and over the years since she’s headed organizations focusing on a range of development issues, including financial, educational and vocational. To effectively work on the many issues she does, her level of awareness of Syrians’ situation on the ground is crucial.

She has travelled widely around Syria, to the smallest villages, to meet with those who could benefit from the various organizations she heads. Videos abound of the first lady, and also the president, visiting wounded soldiers, families of martyrs, cancer patients, and impoverished Syrians, greeting them with hugs and kisses to their cheeks. They often sit with them on the floor of their homes, listening to them talk about their experiences.

In fact, in an interview she gave in 2002, Asma al-Assad explained:

“I wanted to meet [ordinary Syrians] before they met me. Before the world met me. I was able to spend the first couple of months wandering around, meeting other Syrian people. It was my crash course. I would just tag along with one of the many programmes being run in the rural areas. Because people had no idea who I was, I was able to see people completely honestly, I was able to see what their problems were on the ground, what people are complaining about, what the issues are. What people’s hopes and aspirations are. And seeing it first-hand means you are not seeing it through someone else’s eyes. It was really just to see who they are, what they are doing.”

As I already had an appreciation for what she’s accomplished I approached our recent meeting with a great degree of admiration for the person she is and the compassion she exudes.

Since this meeting was not a formal interview, I did not seek to record the over two hours of conversation with Her Excellency. Immediately after leaving, however, I did jot down as many notes about our conversation as I could recall, and will do my best to do justice to what Asma al-Assad said, sometimes quoting her but in general paraphrasing her words.

Also, while I wish to express the respect she deserves in her role as the first lady, and whereas most would call her Your Excellency, I’m also aware that she isn’t fond of titles and fanfare, one of many traits evidencing her humility. Thus, to find middle ground I will either refer to her as the first lady or Asma al-Assad.

Finally, although I’ve begun this essay with focus on Asma al-Assad and her character, what follows is really about Syria, through her eyes, and at some points my own. From the way she spoke, it is very clear that everything she does for her country is for her country, and she does so with an admirably passionate commitment.

I was admittedly anticipating our meeting, wondering how it might unfold. As it turned out, from the initial greeting, conversation flowed naturally and comfortably, which I attribute not only to Asma al-Assad’s ability to put those she meets with at ease very quickly, but also to the genuine interest and attention she pays everyone she meets.

She asked about my family, and was concerned about my own well being—to which my answer was something along the lines of: I’m very gratefully in the place I would most want to be right now. She asked about my experiences in Palestine in general, and my years in Gaza specifically. This was not feigned interest, as the first lady has consistently shown support for Palestine.

In late 2008/early 2009, when Israel was committing a massacre of Palestinian civilians in Gaza who had nowhere to flee, I was living in Gaza, and during the war riding in ambulances, documenting Israel’s war crimes. For three weeks, civilians were bombarded relentlessly—including with White Phosphorous, DIME, dart (flechette) bombs, drone strikes, Apache and tank shelling, and the massive one ton bomb airstrikes. In the end, Israel’s assault killed over 1400 Palestinians.

During an interview she gave to CNN at the time, Syria’s first lady spoke on the horrors which Palestinians were enduring during the massacre and also due to the inhumane Israeli siege on Gaza, rendering Gaza a prison. She spoke movingly of the over 80 percent of Palestinians in Gaza reliant on food aid to merely survive, the nearly 1 million (there are far more now) who don’t have access to clean water, and on many of the other sordid realities about life under siege in Gaza.

“This is the 21st Century. Where in the world could this happen? Unfortunately, it is happening. Just imagine your children living in Gaza. Mothers in Gaza can’t cook. Why can’t they cook? Because they don’t have access to fuel, they don’t even have access to the basic foodstuffs that are required to get a meal together, so children don’t eat. You put your children to bed at night and you expect to see them in the morning. That’s a luxury that people in Gaza just do not have. So what would it be like for you, living under those circumstances?”

WORKING FOR SYRIANS

During our meeting I commented on her work drive, knowing that throughout the past months when around the world things have slowed to a halt she has continued working on issues related to Syria’s development and empowering Syrians from all walks of life.

In May she participated in a workshop with staff of Jarih al-Watan (The Nation’s Wounded), a national veteran support program created in 2014 to help injured soldiers rebuild their lives and reintegrate back into society. The program provides support in several key areas including physical rehabilitation, mental health, education grants, vocational training and financial aid for small and medium enterprises.

The first lady explained that working hard is natural for her. She graduated from university quite young and started working professionally at age 21. When it comes to her work for Syrians, it’s more than her natural drive, it is something she is compelled to do for her country.

She talked to me about her cancer treatment (2018-2019), saying that people likely expected her to stay home, to discontinue work or at least work less because she was ill and undergoing treatment. But for her, how could she, for example, delay a child from getting treatment for a hearing aid, or delay a patient from getting medical care, “simply because I was feeling tired.”

Most people who have had a cold or flu would stay home during their illness, justifiably so. That Asma al-Assad refused to do so while enduring cancer treatment and all of the painful and exhausting side effects speaks volumes to her devotion to her people, a point worth stressing given that Western media has done their utmost to vilify her and the President.

Apart from her development work, the first lady quietly works to change antiquated mindsets on how to do things in Syria. She is also keen to encourage people in general, especially children, including her own, to think for themselves.

“We are trying to encourage young people to ask questions and think critically, which should be in line with democracy and freedom of opinion…”

Encouraging critical thinking and questioning of everything are traits that make for a more open society. For at least the past decade, the US and allies have preached about wanting freedom and democracy in Syria. But while gushing about freedom, they were funding and supporting terrorism, illegally occupying Syrian land, stealing Syrian oil, and prolonging terrorism in the country.

The forward-thinking approach Asma al-Assad embodies could lead to changes for the better in Syria. Yet, because the West is on a mission to impose a government which will do America’s bidding, people and policies that are actually good for Syria are dismissed and ridiculed by America and her allies.

Meanwhile, ironically, in Western countries, censorship has become increasingly rife, with dissenting voices being deleted from Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook, and with critical articles on current events being labelled as “fake news” by Western-government affiliated so-called “fact checkers”.

The first lady noted, “People are being steered by a narrative. They are not allowed to have an opinion any longer. There’s now no freedom of speech in the West.”

IMPACTS OF AMERICA’S DEADLY SANCTIONS

In June, America again ratcheted up its decades-old sanctions on Syria, adding a new round of sanctions meant to utterly debilitate the people of Syria— who’ve already suffered nearly ten years of war.

Every day where I am now in Syria, I hear and see things that drive home just how utterly brutal the US sanctions are: a friend whose aunt can’t get the medications needed for her cancer, another friend whose cousin died as a result of not getting the medications he needed for his chronic illness.

The sanctions are deliberately targeting Syrian civilians, and that is the intent of the United States. The US pretext of “helping Syrians” by sanctioning their country is sociopathic double-speak. The reality is they are slowly killing Syrians.

Under the latest sanctions, civilians are denied medicines, access to up to date medical equipment, and as a consequence, denied medical treatment.

The first lady spoke on how much harder life has gotten for Syrians.

“The medical equipment in Syria (like radiotherapy) needed to treat cancer patients is outdated and it is getting harder and harder to maintain these machines and keep them working. With the sanctions, chemotherapy drugs have become harder to source decreasing the likelihood of patients surviving cancer. If I was facing cancer now instead of two years ago, I wouldn’t be able to get the needed treatment. This is the case for Syrians now.”

I asked about importing the materials needed for local manufacturing. But the problem is, she told me, companies cancel contracts for fear of being punished by the US for violating sanctions.

The first lady asked me what I noticed in recent visits to Syria. I said that I had imagined things would be better after the 2018 liberation of eastern Ghouta and other areas occupied by terrorists and the cessation of their daily mortar and missile attacks on residential areas of Damascus.

But although there is peace, people I meet are despondent about the future. Young people want to leave, to find work or study abroad. And while Syria has started to rebuild, the truth is we don’t know how long that will take, particularly given that the latest sanctions target reconstruction as well. Nor do people know how or when the economy will improve.

The shattered economy is largely a product of ten years of terrorism, war, the sanctions, and the US-Turkish theft and destruction of Syria’s resources, particularly oil. The Syria-wide bout of crop fires in wheat and barley growing regions has devastated farmers and contributes to the country’s economic woes. Farmers blame US and Turkish occupation forces for deliberately setting some of the fires, with Turkish forces even allegedly firing on farmers to keep them from extinguishing the flames.

Destroying the economy, starving the people, bringing people to their knees, in hopes they will vote against their president. That is the US strategy.

However, the US and allies have from day one underestimated the Syrian people. Syrians have shown the world the meaning of steadfastness, facing the most powerful nations and their terrorist proxies, and rising undefeated. But doing so with untold, tragic losses.

HONOURING THE SACRIFICES OF SYRIAN SOLDIERS

The first lady spoke of supporting micro businesses as a long term strategy to improve the economy for all, not just for some. This is something she’s been doing for nearly twenty years in Syria, with a variety of initiatives on microfinance, funding and training.

Tied into this is the vocational training that enables startup projects.

This June, at Nasmet Jabal, in a mountainous area in northwestern Syria, I saw wounded former Syrian soldiers receiving vocational training, learning cheese and yogurt making, staples of the Syrian diet. In previous years, at a Damascus community centre supported by the Syria Trust, I saw women learning sewing skills, likewise to enable them to be employed or start their own businesses.

When speaking of her and her husband’s approach to raising their children, Asma al-Assad noted the importance of their children knowing the sacrifices of Syrian soldiers, stressing that her children are able to do the most basic things in life—walk, study, even just be alive—precisely because the army has defended Syria, and in many cases with soldiers paying a deep price in doing so.

This is one reason their three children frequently appear with the first lady and president in their visits to wounded soldiers.

Last month at the vocational training, I heard the testimonies of a number of such wounded soldiers, suffering injuries that should be life-shattering. But like wounded soldiers I’ve met over the years, they shared an inspirational drive to rebuild their lives, physically, materially and emotionally

In February 2011, Vogue published a surprisingly honest article on the first lady and her work for Syria, titled “Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert.” Although Vogue later removed it from their website, I would encourage people to read the archived copy. It gives a detailed sense of the work and life of the first lady. The author spent several days with Asma al-Assad, getting informative glimpses into the workings of her foundations, and of the first lady herself.

I was told some months ago that when the first lady learned of the title, she was not pleased as one might have expected.

“I am not the only rose, you are all roses,” she said to a room of women at the Syria Trust for Development.

Throughout Syria’s history women have played prominent roles, from Queen Zenobia in the 3rd century AD, to women defending Syria against terrorism, to Nibal Madhat Badr first female Brigadier General in the Syrian Army, to the mothers of martyrs.

Syria’s Vice President, Najah Al-Attar, is a woman, as is Bouthaina Shaaban, media and political advisor to the president. Armenian MP Nora Arissian and former independent MP Maria Saadeh are among countless others.

Asma al-Assad also balked at the portrayal of Syria as a desert, a portrayal physically depicting the country as a vast sandy region, but also incorrectly implying a lack of culture and education, a sense of backwardness.

Just as the cultural mosaic is vast and varied, so is Syria’s landscape, with snowy mountains, steaming coastal areas replete with citrus and banana trees, rolling hills in the northwest, and yes desert areas to the east.

Anyone who has had the fortune to come to Syria likewise is aware of how empowered women are, how rich the culture is, and how valued education is. Art and music flourish here. Teenagers participate in science Olympiads.

In the past four months, I’ve had some opportunities to see more of Syria’s beautiful landscapes that I’ve described. Prior to the war, Syria was a popular tourist destination, particularly for its rich culture and landscapes, as well as for its ancient areas and cities and historic sites.

But historic and cultural sites aside, there is an aspect of Syria’s history and culture that the first lady is extremely worried about losing: the intangible culture, customs passed down through generations. A dialect gets lost because people who fled an area sometimes will not return.

She told me of a village woman who still hand makes Freekah (whole grains of wheat harvested while still green) in the traditional way. But most young people in the village have left, so that tradition won’t be passed down.

Syria is trying to document its intangible culture, a monumental task considering how much there is to document.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I’ll conclude by saying that whereas over the past decade there has been a systematic effort by Western media, politicians and government-aligned “human rights” groups to vilify the first lady, president and army, the reality on the ground is in stark contrast to the propaganda emanating from Washington.

Anyone who has followed the war on Syria, and the Western aggression against so many nations, will be aware that one of the first things America and allies does is to vilify the leadership, those same leaders they may have previously praised as being moderate.

The abrupt removal shortly after publication by Vogue of its feature on the first lady is a perfect example of the media being directed to not allow any positive reflections on Syria’s key figures. Only cartoonish denominations are allowed in Western media now. The 2002 interview with Asma al-Assad which I referenced at the start was published in the Guardian, an outlet which has since become a prime source of the most vile war propaganda against Syria and the whitewashing of terrorists’ crimes.

Meeting Syria’s first lady confirmed what I already knew from speaking with countless Syrians over the years, and from observing from afar the work she does: she is a strong, intelligent, down to earth, and compassionate woman dedicated to empowering and helping her fellow Syrians.

I am extremely grateful for the time I had with her. At a time of global instability, sitting with Asma al-Assad was calming and inspiring.

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CHINA MOVING TOWARDS ENDING “PHASE ONE” TRADE DEAL, IS TRADE WAR BACK ON THE MENU?

South Front

China Moving Towards Ending "Phase One" Trade Deal, Is Trade War Back On The Menu?

China is reportedly moving towards ending the “Phase One” Trade deal with the US.

The Chinese government appears to be walking back on the deal, reportedly telling state-owned agricultural firms to halt purchases of U.S. soybeans, one of the major U.S. agricultural exports to China and a pillar of the deal’s promised $200 billion in extra exports.

Beijing’s decision followed the May 29th U.S. announcement that Washington will potentially take steps to revoke Hong Kong’s special status and possibly levy sanctions and other economic weapons against both China proper and the once-autonomous region.

State-owned traders Cofco and Sinograin were ordered to suspend purchases, according to an unnamed source of Bloomberg.

Chinese buyers have also canceled an unspecified number of U.S. pork orders, one of the sources claimed.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang vowed in May that China would implement the trade deal, however, rising tensions in regard to Hong Kong, plus Washington’s continued accusations towards Beijing in regard to COVID-19, and weapon sales to Taiwan, have strained relations significantly.

“We will work with the United States to implement the phase one China-U.S. economic and trade agreement,” Premier Li Keqiang told an annual gathering of lawmakers in Beijing on May 22nd. “China will continue to boost economic and trade cooperation with other countries to deliver mutual benefits.”

That vow appears to be in the past now.

“The market has already seen the deteriorating relationship between the China and the U.S. and many think that with the slow progress of Chinese commodity buying so far, the trade deal’s future was already in jeopardy,” said Michael McDougall, a managing director at Paragon Global Markets in New York.

Currently, analysts consider the deal as good as dead, and the only question now is what form of trade confrontation will take its place at a time when U.S. economic policy toward China is dictated less by long-term national interest and more by short-term electoral calculations.

“The locus inside the administration has moved from, ‘Should we drop the deal?’ to, ‘And then do what?’” said Derek Scissors, a China trade expert at the American Enterprise Institute who sometimes consults with the White House. “Trump wants to make sure that [prospective Democratic presidential nominee Joe] Biden can’t outflank him on China. But that dramatic action, if there is any, is going to have costs.”

Since the phase-one deal delivered a truce to growing U.S.-China tensions, what would it mean when it ends?

“The ‘phase one’ deal’s importance to the overall relationship is relatively small. It’s not the anchor that some thought it could be,” said Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who described the status of the trade deal—if reports of Chinese orders to halt purchases are confirmed—as “hanging by a thread.”

“The deal itself cannot stabilize the relationship, but if you remove the deal, then that is further evidence that both sides are throwing up their hands and see the relationship in purely competitive terms with nothing on the other side of the scale,” Kennedy said.

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«كورونا» حليف حميمٌ للعقوبات الأميركيّة

د. وفيق إبراهيم

مئات ملايين البشر تخضع دولهم لعقوبات أميركيّة اقتصادية فيجدون صعوبات قاسية في مجابهة جائحة الكورونا، لكنهم لا يدّخرون وسيلة لمقاومته، ويسجلون عجزاً تدريجيّاً متصاعداً بسبب الحصار الأميركي المفروض عليهم والذي تلتزم به معظم البلدان الخاضعة للنفوذ الأميركي او التي ترتبط معهم بعلاقات اقتصادية قوية.

هذا الوضع يتيح لكورونا فرصة الانتشار فلا يكتفي بالقضاء على المسنّين في الدول المحاصرة بل بدأ بضرب الشباب ومتوسطي الأعمار بما يهدّد بكوارث على مستوى تدمير الدول بأسرها وقد تتّسع لتصيب برذاذها أجزاء واسعة من الحضارة الإنسانية.

أمام هذه المخاطر الواسعة تزعم الدول الكبرى أنها بصدد القضاء على كورونا، وتكشف نفسها عندما يتبين أن مشاريعها لمجابهة الوباء تقتصر على مجالها الوطني، وتجهد لاكتشاف لقاحات سريعة وعلاجات للاستثمار الاحتكاري فقط وليس لمكافحته على مستوى الإنسانية.

ألم تظهر قمة العشرين التي انعقدت بطريقة الإنترنت والهواتف في السعودية للتنسيق في مجابهة هذه الجائحة، وتبين أنها ليست إلا قمة افتراضية لوضع خطط تحتاج الى بضع سنين لتنفيذها، وترمي الى المحافظة على النفوذ الأميركي المهدّد من كورونا من جهة والتراجع الأميركي في الشرق الاوسط من جهة ثانية.

اما اللافت في هذه القمة فكانت الكلمة التي طالب فيها الرئيس الروسي بوتين بفتح طرق الغذاء والدواء والإمدادات لكل الدول المصابة والمحاصرة، فيما تجاهل رئيس القمة الهاتفية الملك سلمان هذا الأمر وتولى إعلامه التركيز على رفض تأمين فرص لعودة الإرهاب من جديد داعياً الى استمرار العقوبات على أكثر من بلد على رأسها إيران.

فما لم يكشفه سلمان بصراحة أوضحته وسائل إعلامه مع الاعلام الاميركي – الانجليزي بإصرارهم على عدم الربط بين مجابهة كورونا وإلغاء العقوبات الأميركية على أكثر من سبع دول يصل بعضها الى حدود الخنق. فكيف تكافح هذه الدول المستهدفة هذا الوباء المدمر والوباء الاميركي المفترس في آن معاً، فالحصار يمنع استيراد إمكانات لمقاومة الوباء، لكن اميركا ومعها السعودية لها رأي آخر يزعم بأن من يريد الاستسلام للنفوذ الاميركي بالإمكان السماح له باستيراد ادوات المجابهة.

مَن هي هذه الدول المعرّضة لانتشار واسع لكورونا فيها؟

إنها سورية واليمن والعراق وإيران وغزة في فلسطين المحتلة وفنزويلا وكوريا، وهناك أيضاً عقوبات تضرب الصين وروسيا، لكنها لا تؤثر فيهما كثيراً.

لجهة سورية، فتخضع لحصار أميركي – أوروبي يمنع عنها استيراد الغذاء والدواء والمحروقات بذريعة انتشار الإرهاب وتهريب السلاح.

وتساهم تركيا باحتلالها معظم المناطق الحدودية بهذا الحصار أيضاً مع قوات أميركية وأخرى كردية، تقطع أيضاً حدودها مع العراق، هذا بالاضافة الى مراقبة أميركية دقيقة لحدودها مع الاردن، ولبنان بدوره يطبّق التعاليم الأميركية بالامتناع عن التعامل الاقتصادي مع سورية.

فتصبح كامل حدودها البحرية من جهة جبل طارق والبرية من لبنان الى الاردن فالعراق وتركيا كلها مقفلة امام حركة الدواء والغذاء والامدادات الاخرى.

كذلك فإن إيران تخضع لعقوبات أميركية مدمّرة تطبقها أيضاً اوروبا والهند وبلدان أخرى خوفاً من الضغط الأميركي عليها وتشمل الغذاء والدواء وبيع النفط والإمدادات المختلفة، حنى تكاد تكون أسوأ عقوبات معروفة في التاريخ، لذلك فإن الصراع الاميركي – الإيراني يشمل بمداه المنطقة بأسرها.

وبما ان إيران بلد مترامي الأطراف فقد تمكنت حتى الآن من الصمود على الرغم من انتشار وباء كورونا فيها.

وهذا لم ينجح في تليين العقوبات الأميركية عليها والتحريض السعودي – الإماراتي الذي يستهدفها.

بدوره اليمن يتعرض لحصار اميركي – سعودي مدعوم من الاساطيل المصرية والاسرائيلية والطيران الانجليزي.

فتصبح صورة دولة صنعاء بحدود مقفلة من الشمال والشرق والجنوب وليس لديها إلا شريط ساحلي ضيق في الساحل الغربي عند مدينة الحديثة، لكن الحصار البحري عليها يمنعها من نقل مواد غذائية وادوية لمجابهة كورونا.

كذلك فإن العراق الذي تحتل القوات الاميركية قسماً منه لا يستطيع مجابهة كورونا بسبب الإقفال الاميركي لحدوده مع سورية والاردن والسعودية والكويت.

فتبقى غزة في فلسطين المحتلة فتتعرّض لأسوأ حصار اميركي – اسرائيلي مصري يقفل البر الفلسطيني في وجهها والبحر المتوسط وحدودها مع مصر ما يجعلها عاجزة عن مقاومة كورونا، كما ان الاميركيين يحاصرون فنزويلا وكوبا ويمنعان عنهما الاستيراد والتصدير إلا بشكل نسبي، وبدوريهما تسجلان عجزاً عن مكافحة وباء الكورونا الا بالقليل مما يمتلكانه من مواد تعقيمية وعلاجية.

بذلك يتبين علاقة الحصار والمقاطعة الاميركية في اضعاف امكانية العديد من البلدان في مكافحة كورونا. فتحاول الاستفادة من انتشاره لإسقاط هذه الدول التي تقف عائقاً دون السيطرة الكاملة على الشرق الاوسط. الامر الذي يؤكد السقوط الكامل لعصر الاخلاق والقيم الانسانية وسياسة عصر الرأسمالية المتوحشة.

هناك دول تتعرّض لعقوبات اميركية مثل تركيا وروسيا والصين، لكنها عقوبات خفيفة تمس بعض المرافق في هذه الدول بشكل لا يخنقها بل يحاول تأديبها فقط.

فهل تظهر حركة تمرد دولية على هذه العقوبات الاحادية الاميركية؟ هناك بداية تضعضع في جبهة الغرب الصناعية مع دعوات روسية الى إلغاء العقوبات لمجابهة جائحة العصر، الأمر الذي يشجع على ولادة عالم متعدد القطب هو الآلية الوحيدة القادرة على إنهاء العقوبات والعودة الى القانون الدولي.

Iraq’s Hezb Allah: Instead of Leaving, The US is Plotting a Civil War in Iraq

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on 

Kataib Hezbollah Iraq Hezb Allah Brigades

Iraq Hezb Allah Brigades (Kata’ib Hezb Allah) revealed that they have ‘information about dubious US movements to achieve suspicious goals, with the participation of an Iraqi security apparatus’.

The Brigades added that the plot includes ‘airdrops on military, security and PMU positions with ground support and air support’ which will lead to ‘dangerous repercussions, and will cause a humanitarian and societal disaster that is difficult to control’.

The Iraqi Parliament voted to expel the US troops from the country after their role changed from assisting the Iraqi forces in fighting ISIS to bombing and killing Iraqi commanders who were leading the fight against ISIS, the US officials didn’t accept the booting from Iraq orders and vowed to stay there at all costs.

Staying in a hostile environment requires exceptional measures, the Pentagon tried to revive ISIS in Iraq (and in Syria) to justify extending their existence, it didn’t succeed, they tried to prevent forming an Iraqi government and its stooges are playing on time to keep the country in its fail state status, time is running out, it threatened to impose sanctions on the country but that would let Iraq slip completely from its grip into the Iranian grip, so they threatened to impose sanctions on Iraqi officials. That last threat turned out to harm its own assets more than harming those who want to see their country liberated.

While the world is uniting to combat the Coronavirus and its catastrophic impact on the economies of every country, the US officials instead of concentrating their efforts in combating this pandemic and seeking assistance from the rest of the world, bringing back their troops from overseas where they’re not welcomed, are instead plotting to ignite a civil war in Iraq, something they’ve been working on for decades.

Iran - Iraq - Syria Railway

The US is using alleged attacks on its military bases in Iraq as an excuse to target the forces that fought ISIS, especially those positioned at the borders with Syria. The US opposed the reopening of Baghdad – Damascus highway through Iraqi Qaim and Syrian Bu Kamal cities, it’s the road that ISIS put its main focus on blocking and the US continues its efforts to keep it threatened if it cannot secure its closure.
Iran to Reach the Mediterranean through Iraq and Syria Railway

Similarly, to how the Turkish madman Erdogan was blocking the M4 and M5 arteries in Syria to strangle the Syrian economy. The M4 is the Syrian part of the Bagdhad – Damascus highway that connects the Baghdad with the Mediterranean through Saraqib.

Iraq’s Hezb Allah Brigades vowed to ‘respond with all force on all the US’s military, security, and economic facilities, with no exceptions’ if the US carries out this plot, they further promised to ‘turn the sites that will be targeted by the US into their graves and a shame that will follow them forever, the US and its accomplices.’

The US doesn’t need Iraq’s oil or any investment there, it’s a massive loss in the long run and they know that very well. All the US’s involvement in the region is to secure the safety of Israel within the maximum territories it can steal. If someone knows any other reason kindly enlighten us in the comments.

Syria News

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience?

March 22, 2020

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience?

by Ramin Mazaheri, exclusive for the Saker Blog

In the UK an average of just 600 people die from influenza every year, a testament to the major socialist concept the incredibly rich island has tolerated – the National Health Service.

In the US, where the biggest socialist concept they have tolerated is Social Security – to prevent mass elder-class starvation – the lack of health care annually kills 11 times more people than in the UK (proportionally). “It’s fine,” they say in the US – the price of freedom. Freedom of expression above all.

However, all of a sudden everyone across the West cares about preventing mostly-preventable flu deaths. Really?

In fact, apparently the West cares more than anybody: South Korea quarantined some neighborhoods, China one major city, Iran encouraged a national quarantine, but the West wants two entire continents to stay at home.

What overreaction? The West just has a huge heart – haven’t their capitalist and Christian evangelists been saying that for four centuries?

In fact, how dare you possible micro-trigger a Westerner by suggesting an overblown macro-triggering? The vastly, vastly, VASTLY greater reaction of the West than of China, South Korea and Iran is entirely merited, and this cannot be questioned. Or so they keep shouting.

The problem in the West is that those in power during the corona crisis should not be in power.

Firstly, whereas in China it is as hard to get into the vanguard Communist Party as the Ivy League, in the West all one needs is rich friends or friends with clout. So of course the quality of the West’s public service response to corona could have been predicted to be comparatively inferior.

The fourth estate and unofficial branch of government, the media, is similarly compromised: I can’t read Chinese to verify if they are calming a panic instead of inflaming it, but I can read the dire warnings broadcast 24/7 by the Western MSM, whose ratings are surely through the roof. Very over-dramatic, indeed. Personally, I have encouraged anyone who will listen to heed my professional media opinion regarding this corona crisis: the less time you spend watching the Western MSM the saner and more stable you will be during this crisis. Your family will thank you.

In the West technocrats are in power: thus, in an epidemic we must all listen to doctors and statistical-modelling specialists. Both are quite well-paid jobs. Western technocratism means that the West absolutely cannot have policy even partially dictated by the needs or experiences of their legion of middle-aged, single-mother waitresses; or any of the 40% of Americans who don’t have $500 to cover an emergency; or any part of the Yellow Vest-supporting Europeans who have had their social safety net slashed by unending banker bailouts and austerity measures.

The interpretation of statistics, and the public policy such statistics should influence – these things surely cannot be influenced by ideology, can they? I agree though – better to listen to nerds than to not get a second medical opinion.

Let’s not act like they are Cuban: US doctors are perfectly at ease with you being homeless over unpaid medical bills, and they don’t want you forcing them to go work on the front lines to cover this flu crisis. Cynical? Well, I am a daily-hack journalist, but is it such a taboo thought to think when you see yet another doctor handing down a life-and-death proclamation with smug certainty, yet again? Doctors are never wrong… yet the third-largest cause of death in the US is malpractice.

Given this undoubted difference in terms of public policy servants and public policy explainers, why on earth should we assume that the West’s public servants are going to outshine Eastern ones? However, what can and cannot be achieved in these countries is also very different.

On a social level China, South Korea and Iran are Asian societies which are fundamentally more patriarchal and social, whereas Western societies are more matriarchal and individualist. This means that in the West many overworked single mothers are being inflamed into OCD-level sanitizings, while non-deadbeat divorced Dads are proving their all-conquering filial love by fist-fighting over toilet paper for Junior.

As stay at home orders – which vary from suggestions to promises of fines – proliferate across the West I will go out on a limb and say that many Westerners will go far further and treat the orders as if they were martial law. Yes, Westerners insist that they are more freedom-loving and unable to tie down than any Muslim nomad, but I recall a quite compliant response during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent lockdown. American libertarianism is only for good times, it seems.

Contrarily, it is rather amusing that on the first day of spring – a day celebrated as Nowruz in Iran – some regions reported that holiday traffic was 98% as high as in 2019 despite official pleas to stay at home. That is very European of Iranians – nothing stops an Iranian’s vacation, too. Of course, their vacations are not to go and cheaply break anti-nudity laws in Tunisia but to visit relative after relative after relative. But the point is made: with warmth, happiness and in a group, all of the Islamic Republic of Iran simply must celebrate this pagan holiday. What a bunch of fundamentalist Muslims, indeed. As regards to the “Great McDonald’s Satan”: Nothing starts their vacations: worker instability and workaholism incredibly translates into half their workforce with paid vacations being too unwilling to use their paltry number of vacation days; half of all US workers overall work in “low-wage” jobs, meaning they can’t afford vacations period.

But the incredibly elevated conscience of the West is indicated by their incredibly more drastic response that that of the East’s: they are apparently willing to trash their already weak, corruption-rotted, unsuccessful austerity/QE economies to prevent flu deaths among the elderly with significant existing medical conditions.

Bottom line: the West is choosing to avoid flu deaths among the sick elderly now but may wind up with far more deaths due to the mass unemployment and economic chaos they view as the only solution to corona. But bad economics kills, too.

Whatever it takes… not to the save the Eurozone, but to end it?

But economics can’t be discussed in the West: TINA – there is no solution to “capitalism with American characteristics”. Those are “global values”.

Anyway, bad economic policies don’t kill – the market does. And the market cannot be stopped or regulated.

Sure, markets can crash, and ruin the 401k retirement plans (i.e. the US “pension system” – ugh! Terrible… but it makes NYC bankers and stockbrokers happy), of the elderly class, but the US can’t close or control the markets. Sorry Gramps! You survived corona but you’re 30% more busted.

Say goodbye to the Bernie Sanders campaign – in a crisis US (fake) leftists will fall in line for stability, pragmatism and personal safety, just like in 2008. The US is a dog-eat-dog capitalist-imperialist society and in a global crisis the US dog has to make sure they can keep eating the foreign dogs, after all. International solidarity is for socialist suckers; Western sanctions on corona medicine must remain to try and implode Iran, Cuba, etc.

But, as I have written about for years: the Eurozone remains the largest macro-economy and yet also the weakest link in the macro-economy. They have, few want to admit, already had a Lost Decade. Quantitative Easing and Zero Interest Rate Policies have only re-inflated the 1%er bubbles in the FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) markets. It’s incredible: the Western economy is so kindly shutting down for weeks even though they are even more over-leveraged in 2020 than in the 2008 economic crisis, which was sparked by over-leveraging. Don’t the doctors, epidemiologists and helicopter moms know that?

Contrarily, China has had recent decades of spectacular growth, as has South Korea. So has Iran, from the end of the Iraq War until 2012, when the inhuman triple sanctions (EU, UN, US) were levied, and then successes were further delayed by the 2014 oil price collapse.

Incredibly crucially for the ambitions of the corona virus, those three nations have ideologies, histories and cultures which have given their governments far, far more control over their economies. Certainly, in a time of crisis they have more levers to pull to help their nations as well as the willingness to pull them (unlike, say US Republicans/Libertarians).

Some smart journalists have pointed out to Westerners that corona is showing what life is like under Western sanctions. Nations like Iran, Venezuela, China (sanctioned for over two decades post-1949) are quite used to such a life, but: welcome to the party – you appear quite awkward and nervous.

I understand your concern: the US is proudly dog-eat-dog, and the neoliberal, post-1989-inspired structure adopted by the European Union is the dog-eat-dog model the US wishes their Founding Fathers had been dumb enough to implement.

Corona is bad, certainly, but bad economics kills too. Are we trading fewer corona deaths now for even more regular flu deaths in 6 months, caused by all the people pushed into poverty by the Great Recession tipping into the Great Depression 2? This is a vital question, and not a heartless one at all.

We are all in this together, and that’s yet another affirmation of post-1917 socialist worldviews, but at the end of the corona crisis we can all only reap what we have nationally sown.

China eats dogs, and they will pick up the pieces of those whose sowings compounded the corona crisis; whose overreactions – provoked by a lack of economic stability, physical security and emotional trust in many social areas – threaten to pop Everything Bubble 2, which is a verifiable economic reality and not journalistic hyperbole. Russia and Iran will likely be forced to play custodian, too. This is the same century-old story that we have seen in fascist Germany, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, etc.

I hope wherever you are that you and your family are healthy, and that you have faith in the goodness and capability of your nation’s leaders. You’re going to need them, and me as well. (Joe Biden, really?)

Me, I’m going out. I’m a journalist, the most despised – and by a huge margin – of all the first-responders, LOL. However, watching many of my Mainstream Media colleagues during the corona crisis reminds me why this is the case.

If the West’s response does prove to have been an overreaction – if China’s shut down of Wuhan and a few smaller cities was not supposed to replicated on a multi-continental level, in large part because the West does not have the socialist-inspired policy tools to take such extreme preventative measures – then resentment towards mainstream journalists will, and should, only increase.

So that would be something good from corona. In fact, here will be a lot of positives from Corona, but many of them left-handed.

The new year just began; it’s the second day of spring; the world will not end in the next 30 days – I find it hard to be hysterical, negative and over-dramatic, personally. Enjoy being home alone, if that’s what you insist on.

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’.

Qasem Soleimani: What We Know About Iranian Elite Force’s General That US Took Aim at

AP Photo / Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader WORLD

Source

Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Major General Qasem Soleimani was killed in rocket fire in Baghdad days after an attempted raid on the US Embassy by Iran-linked Iraqi Shia protesters.

Here is what is known about the top Iranian military commander eliminated by US forces.

Soleimani, born in 1957, joined the Revolutionary Guards in 1979 after the Iranian Revolution that ousted the Shah.

Mind-Blowing Military Career

He quickly climbed the career ladder, becoming commander of the 41st Sarallah Division while still under 30 and by the mid-80s he was setting up covert missions inside Iraq to struggle against the regime of Saddam Hussein, joining efforts with Iraqi Kurds.

After the war he was commander of the Revolutionary Guards in his home Iranian province of Kerman, where he battled against opium trafficking from across the Afghani border.

He fulfilled the role up until 2002, when a few months prior to the US invasion of Iraq, Soleimani was tapped to head the Quds Force, Iran’s elite military unit tasked with spreading the Islamic Republic’s policies beyond Iran – one reason why the commander often landed in Washington’s crosshairs.

In 2011, General David Petraeus, the former CIA director, said that Soleimani and his Quds had undermined much of Washington’s work with Iraq’s Shia Muslims and had undone US diplomatic and military efforts in Lebanon.

Targeted by US Sanctions

In Syria, the Quds – accountable directly to Iran’s supreme leader – were believed to be involved in suppressing the uprising against Bashar al-Assad – a move that spawned US sanctions being imposed on Soleimani, as well as the entire IRGC.

In 2011, Soleimani was promoted to Major General of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who at some point dubbed the military serviceman a “living martyr”.

Right before his assassination at Baghdad Airport, the major general issued a warning following Washington repulsing the assault on the American Embassy in the Iraqi capital, noting Iran was not moving towards a war, but is not scared of a potential conflict.

Tensions’ Climax and Strike to ‘Deter Future Iranian Attack Plans’

As confirmed by the Pentagon, Commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, was killed by rocket fire near the Baghdad International Airport, as US forces conducted “a decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad, at the direction of the president”.

Soleimani’s assassination while in his car at the airport closely followed the repulsion of a raid on the US Embassy in Baghdad with the Pentagon saying Soleimani had previously “orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq – including the attack on December 27th”.

The latter “culminated in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel”, the Department of Defence stressed, referring to the strike, in which Soleimani was killed, as preventive:

“This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans. The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world”, the statement added.

New Year’s Eve, 31 December, saw an attack on the US diplomatic mission in Baghdad, where protesters tried to storm checkpoints, smashing windows, battering down doors, and setting fire to the outer fence. The attempted intrusion was stopped by US forces, dispatched at the Pentagon’s orders to increase security for US personnel.

Iran discovers oil field containing 53bn barrels of crude: President Rouhani

Press TV

Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:38AM

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks in the central city of Yaz on November 10, 2019. (Photo by president.ir)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani speaks in the central city of Yaz on November 10, 2019. (Photo by president.ir)

President Hassan Rouhani says Iran has discovered a new oil field containing 53 billion barrels of crude in southwestern Khuzestan Province. 

Rouhani told a large crowd of people in the central city of Yazd on Sunday that the discovery was made despite US hostilities which have mainly targeted Iran’s oil sector.

“It is a large oil field that extends from Bostan to the vicinity of Omidiyeh spanning an area of 2,400 square kilometers with a depth of 80 meters,” he said.

“Today we are announcing to the US that we are a rich country and despite your enmity and tyrannical sanctions, the Iranian oil industry’s workers and engineers have succeeded to discover this vast oil field,” Rouhani added.

The US has unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against Tehran since unilaterally withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Rouhani said, “The first thing I would like to emphasize here is that we have withstood the pressure exerted by foreigners over the past year, during which our people had to go through difficult times.”

It’s been one year-and-a-half since President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal with Iran and embarked on a policy of “maximum pressure.”

Trump has been piling sanctions and heating up the rhetoric against Tehran, saying he aims to negotiate a better agreement with Iran and his policy will bring the Iranians to the table for that new deal.

However, the maximum pressure policy has not succeeded in bringing Iran to the negotiating table or curbing its regional activities across the Middle East as sought by Washington.

“In fact maximum pressure seems to have backfired and pushed Iran across the edge,” British daily The Independent wrote on Saturday.

According to the paper, “economically, Iran has been able to draw on some of its financial reserves to cushion off the impact of American sanctions.”

Politically, Iran has been able to utilize the theme of nationalism and historic grievances about big power bullying and fend off any unrest, it said.

On Sunday, President Rouhani called on Iranians not to let “America’s wishes rise from the larynx of a few people, even though they are very limited in number.”

He said the Iranian people’s “resilience and unity and their ceaseless efforts have brought us to the point where the United States, in my opinion, has become disappointed.”

From an international perspective, The Independent says, the world is more sympathetic to Iran’s position in the nuclear dispute than the United States, because Iran stayed strictly committed to the nuclear deal for one year, after the US left the deal and violated its terms.

“There is also not much admiration for Mr Trump on the international stage – except among right wing authoritarian and neo-fascist groups – and that also helps Iran,” it added.

The Trump administration’s policy on Iran, the paper said, has isolated the United States and diminished its leverage to enforce the JCPOA, if not open the door to its complete destruction.

“At the moment, President Trump and his administration are running out of options on Iran. There is not much left to sanction in Iran, and short of military conflict, there is not a lot more pressure that can be applied,” it added.

Meanwhile, statistics show Iran’s economic situation is improving and inflation has been contained, President Rouhani said.

Iran is a founding member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and sits on what were already the world’s fourth-biggest oil reserves and second-largest gas reserves.

The new find would add around 34 percent to Iran’s current proven reserves, estimated by the Oil & Gas Journal at 158 billion barrels of crude oil and representing almost 10 percent of the world’s crude reserves.

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Israel’s Last War

 

Israel last days.jpg

by Gilad Atzmon

In my 2011 book, The Wandering Who, I elaborated on the possible disastrous scenario in which Israel is the nucleus of a global escalation over Iran’s emerging nuclear capabilities. I concluded that Israel’s PRE Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PRE-TSS) would be central to such a development.

“The Jewish state and the Jewish discourse in general are completely foreign to the notion of temporality. Israel is blinded to the consequences of its actions, it only thinks of its actions in terms of short-term pragmatism. Instead of temporality, Israel thinks in terms of an extended present.”

In  2011 Israel was still confident in its military might, certain that with the help of America or at least its support, it could deliver a mortal military blow to Iran. But this confidence has diminished, replaced by an existential anxiety that might well be warranted. For the last few months, Israeli military analysts have had to come to terms with Iran’s spectacular strategic and technological abilities. The recent attack on a Saudi oil facility delivered a clear message to the world, and in particular to Israel, that Iran is far ahead of Israel and the West. The sanctions were counter effective: Iran independently developed its own technology.

Former Israeli ambassador to the US, and prolific historian, Michael Oren, repeated my 2011 predictions this week in the Atlantic and described a horrific scenario for the next, and likely last, Israeli conflict.

Oren understands that a minor Israeli miscalculation could lead to total war, one in which missiles and drones of all types would rain down on Israel, overwhelm its defences and leave Israeli cities, its economy and its security in ruins.

Oren gives a detailed account of how a conflict between Israel and Iran could rapidly descend into a massive “conflagration” that would devastate Israel as well as its neighbours.

In Israel, the term “The War Between the Wars,”  refers to the targeted covert inter-war campaign waged by the Jewish State with the purpose of postponing, while still preparing for, the next confrontation, presumably with Iran. In the last few years Israel has carried out hundreds of  ‘war between the wars’ strikes against Iran-linked targets in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Oren speculates that a single miscalculation could easily lead to retaliation by Iran. “Israel is girding for the worst and acting on the assumption that fighting could break out at any time. And it’s not hard to imagine how it might arrive. The conflagration, like so many in the Middle East, could be ignited by a single spark.”

Until now, Iran has restrained itself despite constant aggression from Israel, but this could easily change.

“The result could be a counterstrike by Iran, using cruise missiles that penetrate Israel’s air defenses and smash into targets like the Kiryah, Tel Aviv’s equivalent of the Pentagon. Israel would retaliate massively against Hezbollah’s headquarters in Beirut as well as dozens of its emplacements along the Lebanese border. And then, after a day of large-scale exchanges, the real war would begin…”

Oren predicts that rockets would  “rain on Israel” at a rate as high as 4,000 a day.  The Iron Dome system would be overwhelmed by the vast simultaneous attacks against civilian and military targets throughout the country. And, as if this weren’t devastating enough, Israel is totally unprepared to deal with precision-guided missiles that can accurately hit targets all across Israel from 1000 miles away.

Ben Gurion International Airport would be shut down and air traffic over Israel closed. The same could happen to Israel’s ports. Israelis that would seek refuge in far away lands would have to swim to safety

In this scenario, Palestinians and Lebanese militias might join the conflagration and attack Jewish border communities on the ground while long-range missiles from Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran land. Before long, Israel’s economy would cease to function, electrical grids severed  and damaged factories and refineries would spew toxic chemicals into the air.

In the Shoah scenario Oren describes,

“Millions of Israelis would huddle in bomb shelters. Hundreds of thousands would be evacuated from the border areas as terrorists attempt to infiltrate them. Restaurants and hotels would empty, along with the offices of the high-tech companies of the start-up nation. The hospitals, many of them resorting to underground facilities, would quickly be overwhelmed, even before the skies darken with the toxic fumes of blazing chemical factories and oil refineries.”

Oren predicts that Israel’s harsh response to attack, including a violent put down of likely West Bank and Gaza protests, would result in large scale civilian casualties and draw charges of war crimes.

As Oren states, he did not invent this prediction, it is one of the similar scenarios anticipated by Israeli military and government officials.

If such events occur, the US will be vital to the survival of the Jewish State by providing munitions, diplomatic, political, and legal support, and after the war, in negotiating truces, withdrawals, prisoner exchanges and presumably ‘peace agreements.’  However, the US under the Trump administration is somewhat unpredictable, especially in light of the current impeachment proceedings against Trump.

In 1973 the US helped save Israel by providing its military with the necessary munitions.  Will the US do so again? Do the Americans have the weapons capability to counter Iran’s ballistics, precision missiles and drones?  More crucially, what kind of support could America provide that would lift the spirits of humiliated and exhausted Israelis after they emerge from underground shelters having enduring four weeks without electricity or food and see their cities completely shattered?

This leads us to the essential issue. Zionism vowed to emancipate the Jews from their destiny by liberating the Jews from themselves. It vowed to bring an end to Jewish self-destruction by creating a Jewish safe haven. How is it that just seven decades after the founding of the Jewish state, the people who have suffered throughout their history have once again managed to create the potential for their own disaster?

In The Wandering Who I provide a possible answer: “Grasping the notion of temporality is the ability to accept that the past is shaped and revised in the light of a search for meaning. History, and historical thinking, are the capacity to rethink the past and the future.” Accordingly, revisionism is the true essence of historical thinking. It turns the past into a moral message, it turns the moral into an ethical act.  Sadly this is exactly where the Jewish State is severely lacking. Despite the Zionist promise to introduce introspection, morality and universal thinking to the emerging Hebrew culture,  the Jewish State has failed to break away from the Jewish past because it doesn’t really grasp the notion of the ‘past’ as a dynamic elastic ethical substance.

Secret Document Revealed Plans for Civil War in Lebanon: Report

Pompeo Aoun

Source

October 31, 2019

During a visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last March, Lebanese President Michel Aoun reportedly received a US-Israeli document detailing plans for creating a civil war in Lebanon, a report said.

In an article published on April 5, Geopolitics Alert reported on the secret document, based on a report by Lebanese TV channel Al-Jadeed. The report was months before the latest protests which started on October 17 and were calling for reforms and livelihood demands but were exploited then by suspicious foreign and local sides in Lebanon.

“The document detailed American plans to splinter the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF). The plans involve Washington investing 200 million dollars into ISF under the guise of keeping the peace but with the covert goal of creating sectarian conflict against Hezbollah with 2.5 million specifically dedicated to this purpose,” Geopolitics Alert reported.

The document stated that the ultimate goal was to destabilize the country by creating a civil war in Lebanon which will “help Israel on the international scene.”

“The United States and Israel plan to accomplish this by supporting ‘democratic forces,’ sounding remarkably similar to the same strategy used in Syria, Libya, Venezuela, and elsewhere,” according to the document.

The document noted that, although “full load of our firepower will be unleashed,” they somehow do not anticipate any casualties. They do, however, expect the civil war to “trigger requests” for intervention from the Israeli occupation forces, Geopolitics Alert reported, based on Al-Jadeed report.

During his meeting with Lebanese President Michael Aoun in March 2019, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo presented an ultimatum: contain Hezbollah or expect unprecedented consequences, the report said.

It cited the Foreign Policy as saying that Pompeo told Aoun that if he fails to complete the impossible task of removing Hezbollah from government institutions and cracking down on its military activities, Lebanon should expect an end to US aid and even potential sanctions.

“It will take courage for the nation of Lebanon to stand up to Hezbollah’s criminality, terror, and threats,” Pompeo reportedly said.

At a dinner, the top US official reportedly warned Lebanese officials that they themselves were potential targets for sanctions such as members of the Free Patriotic Movement, President Aoun’s party with the majority of its support coming from Lebanese Christians.

Geopolitics Alert’s report said that potential sanctions will likely first target the Lebanese Health Ministry “which is currently managed by an elected member of Hezbollah’s political party.”

However, the report cast doubts on the success of the US plan, noting that the ISF is not a ‘homogeneous group’.

“Members of Hezbollah and their Christian allies hold many positions not only in the ISF but throughout the Lebanese Army and several branches of government. The Lebanese constitution and political system require all sects have adequate representation in government. As such, a potential manufactured civil war would likely focus on re-writing the Lebanese constitution as a top priority,” the report said.

It reported that it was unclear if Pompeo’s staff presented Aoun with this document as a threat prior to their meeting, but stressed it was clear that the US and ‘Israel’ are plotting behind closed doors to create sectarian conflict in Lebanese society and its democratic political process, “similar to actions in Syria, Lybia, Yemen, Venezuela, Iran, and so on.”

Source: Websites

هل يتعظ «لبنانيو أميركا» من تجربة الأكراد الطازجة؟

مركب «الجراثيم الغبيّة» يغــرق... أين المفرّ؟

أكتوبر 18, 2019

د.وفيق إبراهيم

أصيب العالم السياسي بدهشة من تخلي الأميركيين عن الأكراد في الشمال والشرق السوريين بعد أربع سنوات من تحالف سياسي وعسكري عميق ومن دون سابق انذار او إشارات موجبة.

لقد اعتبر الأميركيون أن الفائدة الاستراتيجية منهم سورياً وإقليمياً مُنيت بخلل دراماتيكي نتيجة لمستجدات عسكرية وسياسية قلبت موازين القوى لمصلحة الدولة السورية داخلياً وروسياً اقليمياً.

فكان افضل الممكن بالنسبة للبيت الأبيض التخلي عن المشروع السياسي الكردي وتعويم الدور الاستعماري التركي المناقض له، من دون النظر الى العواطف واستمرار حيازة الكرد على موقع معقول في الصراعات شمالي سورية.

لكن الأميركيين فضلوا إدخال هذه المناطق في احتراب طويل الامد بين عشرات القوى المتعادية، وذلك لتمديد أزمة سورية حتى اشعار آخر، ما دفع بالكرد الذين خدموا الأميركيين طيلة الأربع سنوات الأخيرة للعودة الى دولتهم السورية.

الا تستدعي هذه التطورات من السياسات اللبنانية الاستفادة من هذه التجارب والعمل لمصلحة الوطن؟

ما يجري اليوم من صراعات بين القوى السياسية الطائفية في لبنان يعكس حركة أميركية ـ سعودية تدفع باتجاه تفجير الأوضاع الداخلية.

ويعتقد زعماء الطوائف ان مثل هذه الاضطرابات تؤدي تلقائياً الى تعزيز معادلة امتلاك القوة داخل الطائفة مضافاً اليها الدعم الأميركي ـ السعودي والعقوبات الأميركية الاقتصادية المتصاعدة حتى تعود 14 آذار الى ادارة السلطة في لبنان، أي كما فكّر الأكراد تماماً الذين بدأوا باثارة المشاعر الاثنية الانفصالية للكرد، مؤسسين قوة عسكرية شكلت جزءاً من الاحتلال الأميركي للمنطقة معتقدين بأن دولتهم المنشودة أصبحت قاب قوسين او ادنى من النشوء.

هذه هي الوتيرة التي يعمل عليها زعماء الطوائف في لبنان، مع اختلاف بسيط يتعلق بسعيهم للسيطرة على الدولة وليس لتفتيتها، وهم مستعدّون للوصول الى فدرالية الدولة اذا استعصت عليهم مسألة السيطرة عليها.

اما البديل من الاحتلال الأميركي المباشر الغائب عن لبنان فهي تلك العقوبات المصرفية الأميركية التي تؤدي دوراً أقسى، وتترقب انفكاك اللبنانيين عن حزب الله، فينفجر متراجعاً لمصلحة صعود احزاب القوات الجعجعية والتقدمي الجنبلاطي والمستقبل انما بعد تنصيب قيادة جديدة تختارها السعودية من بين المتشددين على شاكلة رؤساء الوزراء السابقين او الريفي والمشنوق.

هنا لا بد من التساؤل عن ثلاثة من رؤساء الحكومة السابقين ميقاتي وسلام والسنيورة الذين اجتمعوا منذ يومين بسرعة لافتة للاعتراض على ما أسموه محاولات التيار الوطني الحر، بالعودة بالبلاد الى ما قبل معاهدة الطائف التي انتجت الدستور الحالي.

إن هذا الاجتماع يعكس بوضوح تحريضاً مذهبياً للسنة على الطوائف المسيحية وتحالفاتهم بذريعة ان وضعهم الذي اصبح مميزاً بفضل «الطائف» اصبح اليوم مهدداً كما يزعمون لذلك فهذه دعوة للاستنفار والتوتير لأهداف تبدو وكأنها لمصلحة الطائفة، في حين أنها جزء من المشروع الأميركي في لبنان الذي يدفع بعلنية نحو تطويق حزب الله بوسيلتين: تفجير الشارع الطوائفي في لبنان او اسر حزب الله في بقعة ضيقة من المدى اللبناني ومنعه بالتالي من ادواره الاقليمية والدفاعية عن لبنان.

هذه ممارسات موجودة ببراعة ايضاً من الوزير السابق وليد جنبلاط الذي يواصل منذ بضعة اشهر شحن الطائفة الدرزية بإيهامها بأن العدو الطائفي الخارجي يريد ضرب مكانتها.

وهو بذلك يستنفرها حول أحادية زعامته فقط، ملبياً الاهداف الأميركية ومكانته الإقطاعية بشكل يبدو فيه وكأنه مستعد لتدمير البلاد مقابل تفرّده بشؤون الطائفة في السلطة السياسية، حيث التحاصص والصفقات والدور السياسي في قيادة النظام.

هذا ما يجيد صناعته سمير جعجع قائد القوات الذي يقدم منافسيه المذهبيين وفي الطوائف الاخرى على انهم يريدون ضرب الموقع السياسي للمسيحيين في البلاد، معتبراً ان تحالف اخصامه في التيار الوطني الحر مع حزب الله، هو الكارثة التي تنزع عن المسيحيين اللبنانيين أهمياتهم السياسية والاقتصادية.

من الممكن اضافة حزب الكتائب ببلبله سامي الجميل والسياسيين المستقلين فارس سعيد والريفي والأحرار، ضمن الجوقة التي تتعامل مع الاعلام لتوتير الاوضاع الداخلية.

لكن هذا الجانب لا ينفع المشروع الأميركي إلا باليسير مما يشتهيه لذلك يتعمد الرباعي الحريري جنبلاط جعجع والجميل وكوكبة المستقلين ربط التراجع الداخلي بإيران وسورية في كل شائبة صغيرة او كبيرة يتعرّض لها لبنان، وهنا يربط هؤلاء اللبنانيون بين مصالحهم الشخصية ومواقع طوائفهم التي تمنحهم الصفقات والالتزامات في الدولة مع معاداة سورية وايران واحياناً روسيا والصين، وكل من ينافس الأميركيين في الجيوبلتيك والاقتصاد.

إن هذا الارتماء الكلي في الحضن الأميركي والمراهنة على هجمات اسرائيلية على حزب الله في لبنان، يشكلان مثيلاً كاملاً لسياسة منظمة «قسد» الكردية التي مارستها لجهة تأييد الأميركيين في شرق سورية.

وفجأة تركتها السياسة الأميركية لهمجية الأتراك بما ادى سريعاً الى إسقاط المشروع الانفصالي الكردي، علماً أن «قسد» كانت تسيطر على نحو ثلاثين الف كيلومتر مربع من مساحة سورية وتمتلك من السلاح يزيد بأضعاف عما تمتلكه القوات والتقدمي والمستقبل ومعهم الكتائب والاحرار وسعيد والريفي وغيرهم.

فلماذا لا يتعظ هؤلاء السياسيون من التجربة الكردية، ويتأكدون أن الأميركيين لا يعملون من أجل بلادهم، وما عليهم الا التخلص من انحيازهم لواشنطن والعودة الى وطنهم او انتظار ضربة أميركية تنهي ادوارهم السياسية على الطريقة الكردية؟

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