The Death of the Nation State has been somewhat exaggerated (Part 2)

The Death of the Nation State has been somewhat exaggerated (Part 2)

October 12, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

Globalization – i.e., neo-liberalism writ large – is essentially a negative phenomenon destroying the sovereignty and cohesion of nation states and thereby depriving markets of the social and political guidance without which they cannot function effectively…The result will be a socially divisive, politically destructive, ethically abhorrent and even economically inefficient structure.(1)

JOINED AT THE HIP

Transnational Corporations (TNCs) can be compared to a tree: they have extensive branches everywhere, but their roots are firmly based at National HQ. Of late this has become a disputed view. One of the contemporary clichés in the current discussion of global political economy is the rather dubious concept of the end of the nation state and the subsequent breaking of the shackles which had hitherto tied TNCs to specific geographical and legal locations. It has been argued that these organizations have moved beyond the control of nation states who can no longer exercise effective jurisdiction over their activities.

This ‘state-denial’ thesis has been articulated by the influential hyper-globalist faction ensconced in the financial press, academic economics departments and political parties. In a ‘borderless’ world the state apparently no longer matters; economic power has shifted from sovereign states to global markets. In the words of the German political and social theorist, Wolfgang Streeck, ‘Markets were once fitted into states; now states are fitted into markets.’(2)This change has involved a global transmutation which reputedly has been brought about by the invention of revolutionary technologies in transport and communications. Such is the thesis put forward by the spokespersons of globalization.

True to say that in general terms all states have to choose a global strategy; they have to look at the full range of choices, then they have to decide what is in their best interests. In the current era of global competition, trade liberalization via the market remains the riskiest choice of all. It demands that trade barriers of all kinds be dismantled – the EU model being the archetype. With this policy governments have to let international competitive pressures restructure industries without recourse to state aids or other protectionist methods. This requires states to open their borders regardless of the costs and consequences in industries and vulnerable workers. Russia in the 1990s was a textbook example of what would happen if a state opened its economy too early, namely, a massive economic contraction. In the official textbooks among the neo-classical scribblers in academe and the media, markets are seen to be self-organizing social and economic space responding to universal demand and supply signals.

For countries which accept this view of the world economy, state power to make policy independent of a country’s major trading partner is being progressively eroded as countries find themselves trapped in a seamless web of interdependency. Larger markets do not come without a cost. This much is axiomatic.

Since the 2008 crisis, however, and now the 2020 blowout the state-denialist view has been more difficult if not actually impossible to sustain. It was after all the allegedly redundant state (or states) which pulled capitalism’s chestnuts out of the fire with the bail-out of insolvent American banks in 2008. As the story goes, during the meeting between Obama and the Wall Street elite at the height of the 2008 crisis the President apparently remarked that it was only himself who stood between the assembled financial movers and shakers of Wall Street and ‘the pitchforks’. The US government also ponied up some US$50 billion to bail out distressed auto manufacturers General Motors and Ford who were based in ‘Motor City’ (Detroit). Detroit itself was also bankrupt but the Federal government was unable to find an additional US$13 billion to bail out the city itself. Maybe – just a thought – because the population of Motor City was largely African-American.

However, the received wisdom emanating from the neoliberal elite has been challenged with a more critical assessment coming from heterodox economic theorists.

As follows.

‘’Contrary to the globalist supposition and as a matter of fact, the (sovereign) state always has, and continues to be the mobilizing force in shaping and guiding national economic development, including globalization itself. Given that an increased capability to overcome geographical distance made possible by technological innovations in transport and communication technologies is of little use if there are political barriers to such movements. Thus, policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatisation were necessary to overcome non-technical barriers to the free flow of labour, capital, and commodities. Therefore, the enabling force of globalization was the state. In fact, the bigger and more powerful states have used globalization as a means of increasing their own power and interests.

States actively construct globalization and use it as soft geo-politics and to acquire greater power over, and autonomy from, their national economies and societies respectively … E.g. … The US and G7s other dominant members design and establish the international trade agreements, organizations, and legislation that support and govern trans-border investments, production networks, and market penetration constitutive of contemporary globalization. Advanced capitalist states, particularly, use these political instruments to shape international economic decision making and policy making in their interests.’’ (3)

In addition, nation-states protect, subsidize, manipulate currencies, impose quotas, sanctions, give tax breaks and exemptions to export industries, R&D, and grant patents, use procurement policies and intellectual property rights to their indigenous corporations to both protect their home markets and help them penetrate overseas markets. This is laughingly described as ‘free trade’. States and corporations are not antipodes they are twins, and arguably the state is the senior partner in this arrangement.

For example, in 1934 the Roosevelt administration passed the Glass-Steagall Act. This involved a forced separation of investment banking from commercial banking which stopped banks speculating with depositors’ monies. In 1999, however, Bill Clinton signed the Financial Services Modernization Act, commonly known as Gramm-Leach-Bliley, repealing the key components of Glass-Steagall whose articles became largely toothless. This was what Wall Street had been angling for and which gave an additional push to the eventual debacle in 2008.

The state giveth, and the state taketh away.

Thus, the notion that powerful trends of internationalization and interdependence have ended national sovereignty is vastly overstated. States remain in charge of the essential part of their national sovereignty: monetary policy, (except in the Eurozone of course) law-making, macroeconomic policy, finance and taxation, environment, education, labour markets, industrial relations, pensions, health and welfare, social policy, science and technology and so forth. Arguably no supra-national entity has yet been designed to replace what has been an effective system of national government. Unimpeded global flows of capital in search of lucrative investment opportunities, are hardly conducive for countries wishing to plan and stabilize their future free from the vagaries of uncontrolled markets

TENSIONS

Power to shape/control the global system is concentrated in the hands of states and/or the newly emergent TNCs. Of course, there is not going to be a simple description of this development as the relationship between these two pillars of modern imperialism is both fractious and permanently mutating. The received wisdom, as put forward by the various spokespersons for globalization, ranging from the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) OECD, WTO, World Bank and IMF, and through the globalist house journals of the global Transnational Uberklasse – The Financial Times, The Economist and Wall Street Journal – is predictable enough. Namely that the state is always in a subservient position vis-à-vis the dominant TNCs.

This perhaps would qualify as a procrustean effort to make the facts fit the theory. Contrary to the image of the all-powerful TNC demanding fealty and obedience from prostrate states, the relationship is somewhat more symmetrical; corporations and states are always to a certain degree joined at the hip.

They are both competitive and competing, both supportive and conflictual. They operate in a fully dialectical relationship, locked into unified but contradictory roles and positions, neither one nor the other partner completely able to dominate.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Additionally, the widespread notion that a TNC can simply up sticks and move lock, stock, and barrel to a more compatible venue if its home base no longer suits its purposes, is fanciful in the extreme. All TNCs have home bases, national HQs. Here is where global strategy is determined; here is where top-end R&D is carried out; here is where design and marketing strategies take place; here is where the domestic market is situated and where long-term domestic suppliers are located; here is where overseas operations are conceived planned and carried through; here is where AGMs of the Corporations takes place with published accounts circulated to all shareholders; here is where the local workforce, at all levels, is recruited; here is where the political bureaucracy and the above mentioned institutions are situated and amenable to lobbying. Picking an obvious example, the US defence industries, Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop-Grumman, General Dynamics, Boeing, are all based domestically and are not, even if they could, going to jump ship anytime soon.

It is unquestionably true that TNCs and states often have divergent goals: TNCs’ primary function is to maximise profits and enhance shareholder value, whereas the economic role of the state should be to maximise the economic welfare of its society. But although this conflictual relationship exists, states and TNCs need and lean on each other in a variety of ways. States might wish that TNCs are bound by allegiance to national borders – and in many ways they are (see above) – but total allegiance is not an option in a liberal capitalist economy. Indeed, it would be true to say that some states regard TNC (activities) as being complementary to their foreign policy. Here economic issues merge with geopolitical imperatives. For example, American political leaders have believed that the national interest has also been served by the foreign expansion of US corporations in manufacturing and services. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been considered a major instrument through which the US could maintain its relative position in world markets – as is of course the US$ acting as the world’s reserve currency – with the overseas expansion of TNCs being regarded as a means to maintain America’s dominant world position. As it was succinctly stated. ’What’s good for General Motors is Good for America’.

THE EU: SUPRANATIONAL OR NATIONAL STATES.

Which brings me to the EU. The state-declinist thesis seems to have gained a considerable traction in Europe among the orthodox left. No less a personage than Yanis Varoufakis – the initiator of DiEM2025 (Democracy in Europe) – has been reading the last rites of state democracy and sovereignty in Europe. Apparently, the model of politics based on the nation state is ‘finished’. The sovereignty of national parliaments has been dissolved. Today, national electoral mandates are impossible to fulfil. Hence, reform of the European institutions (specifically the Euro Parliament), is the only remaining option.

Essentially this is the latest version of the TINA ‘argument’, (there is no alternative), pioneered by Mrs Thatcher and rolled out with monotonous regularity ever since by every cornered establishment politician, both left and right. As has been noted elsewhere. ‘’Tell the population that the nation-state is ‘finished,’ that it is unable to guarantee full employment (or to work towards it) and you free yourself of the responsibility of even trying.’’ The same goes for austerity or anything else. If the nation state is ‘kaput’ it is futile to oppose it.’’(4)

Globalization, however, is far from being the all-powerful and all- encompassing Leviathan postulated by the declinists. ’There are major cultural and linguistic differences that preclude a full mobilisation of resources across national borders. There is ‘home bias in investment portfolios. There is a high correlation between national investment rates and national saving rates. Capital flows between rich and poor nations fall considerably short of what theoretical models predict. There are still severe restrictions to the international mobility of labour. The truth is that we do not live in a completely globalised world, far from it. Ergo, nation-states can pursue their own fiscal and monetary policies.

Ex-leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn’s (quite moderate) policy proposals, during the 2017 and 2019 UK elections, namely, peoples’ QE, renationalisation of the Railways, taking into public ownership the energy and water industries together with the Royal Mail were not beyond the scope of the UK qua sovereign and democratic state. Additionally, these policies found considerable support among the UK’s population at large. (5) Unfortunately Corbyn’s programme was derailed by pro-EU elements in the Parliamentary Labour Party, the MSM and a vicious and mendacious ‘antisemitic’ smear campaign aimed at Corbyn. But this doesn’t alter the fact that a sovereign country can issue its own currency and formulate its own fiscal and monetary policy that can override the EU neo-liberal package of free movement of labour, capital, and commodities. This in addition to blocking the drive to deregulate labour markets (euphemistically, ‘flexibilization’). The sovereign state is perfectly capable of a policy for growth rather than for continued austerity which has become the hallmark of the EU area. But to carry out such growth policies would require an exit from the EU. There’s the rub. Social-democratic policies are incompatible to the EU’s liberal orientation, which is a structurally, neo-liberal capitalist institution.

The euro has in fact simply been designed to ensure that Germany runs a permanent trade surplus whilst the southern periphery runs continuing trade deficits – a simple accounting identity. Eventually something will have to give. It is also noticeable that Germany seems to be harbouring increasingly regional hegemonic ambitions regarding the rest of Europe. It seems to be positioning itself as the EUs anti-Russian key front-line probably with US backing. Euro state Socialism or even tepid social democracy can never truly thrive within such a hostile and increasingly militarised political environment. But that’s another explosive can of worms.

The position of the globalist left as outlined in the DiEM2025 manifesto, however, seems like a back-to-front attempt to by-pass national institutions and to attempt through a supra-national democracy to make fundamental reforms, through a democratised and strengthened EU. But even Varoufakis regards this as being ‘utopian.’ But he continues, it is ‘a lot more realistic than trying to maintain the system as it is’ or ‘trying to leave.’ (6)

More realistic, really? But this begs the obvious question of why such an entity is going to be any different from the present dispensation; will be any less neo-liberal and undemocratic if it is given greater powers and is integrated further? It seems to make more sense to work from the national to the supra-national level than the other way around – particularly given that most states in the EU are governed by centre right coalitions with social-democrats in tow (but acting like centre right liberals). Moreover, the transfer of local democracy – which we are told is now obsolete – to supranational democracy contributes to a weakening of popular control. This leapfrogging of national democracy to supranational democracy perforce requires a supranational electorate. This is problematic however since for the great majority of ordinary European citizens linguistic barriers and cultural differences impair the opportunity for political participation at a supra-national level. And so the dialogue, such as it is, goes on – ad nauseam.

This should not be considered a mere academic nit-picking issue for Socratic Senior Common Room dialogue. It is the key geopolitical issue of the day, as to whether sovereign nation states can determine their own future and political structures and policies, against the globalist project to turn the world into a borderless playground for international finance, corporate hegemony and the corollary of extinguishing democracy.

IDEOLOGICAL INTEGRATION OF STATES INTO NEOLIBERAL MARKET THEORY

But perhaps a more disturbing feature of the state/economy relationship has been the ongoing and gradual privatisation of the state itself. The role of the state has traditionally been a provider of public goods – education, healthcare, culture, parks, libraries, museums, transport infrastructure, including water, energy, forests and national parks, defence, law and order and judiciary, telecommunications, egalitarian social policies and so forth. The role of the market qua economy is to produce private goods and services for sale on a market. There has always been a tension between ‘the commons’- i.e., that which is public and open for everyone to use – and ‘commodification’ which turns things into commodities for private ownership and money-making. To use Marxist terminology, the commons has use-value, not an exchange-value (a market price) simply because it is not – and by definition cannot be – a commodity that can be bought, sold, or commercialised. The elevation of use-value over exchange-value is integral to the commons.

Throughout history, powerful interests have sought to privatise, close, and commodify the commons whether land, other spaces, amenities, or even intellectual ideas – to contrive scarcity and create income-earning assets. To the extent to which the succeeding enclosure and privatisation drives up rental income and proliferate its sources, increasing private riches while eroding public wealth. Such asset-stripping, rent-seeking behaviour by private companies intent on rent-extraction is not only tolerated by public authorities but actually encouraged.

Other examples of this have been the government/private sector liaison whereby private companies are now employed by the government to perform the role which was once the prerogative of governments. These government/private financial arrangements were called Private Financial Initiatives PFIs or Public Private Partnerships PPPs and were operationalised in both the UK and Australia. These predatory organizations were simply looking for public authority institutions to milk. Their incompetence – and outright looting – was legendary. The privatisation of British Rail, for example, led to increased accidents, higher costs, monopolistic rents (in terms of ticket prices), overcrowded trains, and failure to meet the timetable criteria.

In Australia, a report by the New South Wales Auditor General in 2002 warned of the considerable risks associated with the outsourcing of information technology and of the need to ensure that agencies are clear why they should do so. The previously inconceivable opportunities for the security of private information, collected and held by governments to be compromised, opening the way for identity fraud and held by governments was dramatically exposed in November 2007, when the British Department of Revenue and Customs was unable to account for two compact disks which had been sent through the mail at the National Audit Office. These disks contained highly detailed personal information concerning the 25 million citizens who received child benefits, information which included their addresses and bank account numbers, along with details of their children.

This was not an unusual occurrence it was simply another example – among many – of the ongoing rip-off of the public taxpayer by rent-seeking marauders. The market is always right, always works best, and always delivers the goods, or so it is ordained. Such is the categorical imperative of neoliberalism.

Coming full circle, the point of arrival involves a recognition that the relationship between (usually capitalist) states and markets has been a permanent and alternating process which started with the industrial revolutions in western Europe and North America. On the one side there are the permanent state bureaucracies and organizations which function as the basis for the production of public goods, and the national interest as they define it. This is complemented by the free-wheeling, cosmopolitan, financial and corporate interests whose outlook and policies are global as well as national and whose objectives are both practical and ideological. Practical in the sense that their motives are commercial and predicated on the imperative of growth and development not necessarily restricted to their national base. Ideological in terms of their neo-liberal Weltanschauung.

It was the great American social and political theorist C. Wright Mills who postulated the existence of what he called, The Power Elite as early as 1956. The American elite groups were composed of most importantly The Corporate Rich, The Warlords and The Political Directorate which together with various lower ranking sub-elite groups controlled the United States. State and Economy have to an extent always coexisted, their positions and influence moving back and forth, but in recent years (circa 1980) there has been – to put it mildly – a marked tendency of power and influence to tilt away from the state and toward the corporate/commercial configurations. Whether this trend will continue is an open question; but it would not be amiss to assert that nothing goes on forever.

NOTES

(1)Manfred Bienefeld – Is a Strong National Economy a Utopian Goal at the end of the 20th Century? – States Against Markets – pp. 434,435

(2) Wolfgang Streeck – ‘Buying Time’ – The Democratic Crisis Of Democratic Capitalism. ‘

(3) M. Gritsch – (2005: 2-3) (Nye 2002) Quoted in – The State Really Does Matter, Global Shift 2012 – p.223

(4) Picciotto, S. 1991 The Internationalisation of the State – Capital and Class 43.43-63 – quoted in Global Shift 2012– Peter Dicken)

(5) Although it should be said that the 2019 – the Brexit election – was very much watered down to the policies of the electoral manifesto of 2017.

(6) The IndependentUK Newspaper

(7) In Government We Trust – Market Failure and the Delusions of Privatisation. pp.90

The censored reason why the US would torpedo the UN over Iran: Iranian strength

Tuesday, 22 September 2020 7:19 PM  [ Last Update: Tuesday, 22 September 2020 7:23 PM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference to announce the Trump administration’s restoration of sanctions on Iran, on September 21, 2020, at the US State Department in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)
Why would the US blow up the UN over little old Iran?

By Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with Press-TV

Washington has illegally snapped back illegal sanctions on Iran. No one in the world cares, but all this illegality has not gone unnoticed: The US is gutting both its international reputation and that of the United Nations all over Iran.

Risking the international order, which Washington partially controls, over China – Ok, they could be viewed as a serious enough threat by the realpolitik fanatics in the Pentagon. Over the former USSR? Ok, that unsubmissive bloc also threatened total US control.

But over Iran?

We must remind ourselves that the question seems strange only because in all the Western coverage of Iran-US relations what is never broached is the merest notion of Iranian strength.

But if Iran is so powerless then why is the US going to such unprecedented lengths? Why did the warmongering New York Times take a pause from their yellow journalism to concede that, yes, the absurd sanctions move means, “the United States has largely isolated itself from the world order”.

But they didn’t genuinely explain, much less even ask: “Why risk so much over Iran?”

Here is the never-stated reality: the US has made this desperate, sure-to-fail gambit because US policy has been defeated by superior Iranian strength.

This is not jingoistic propaganda on my part: The New York Times conceded that, “The act was born of frustration”. Iran is not some behemoth ready to steamroll the entire world, nor is it a media darling welcomed by foreign masses with strewn flowers – so how can it frustrate the superpower so very much, even as so many other countries fear to engage in the smallest acts of independence or defiance?

It can’t merely be the morally-bankrupt answer so popular in the US, “It’s the economy, stupid,” – i.e, that Iran has a lot of oil. 

No, Iranian strength rests upon the fundamental success of Iran’s unique combination of post-1917 socioeconomic political structures adapted under a genuine and modern interpretation of Islam.

This strength has even another strength on top of it – what a tremendous appeal this combination has for the huge portion of the globe known as the Muslim world.

Iran calls US attempt to ‘snapback’ sanctions ‘null and void’, urges UN to block it
Iran calls US attempt to ‘snapback’ sanctions ‘null and void’, urges UN to block it

Iran says the US’ claim about the return of the UN Security Council’s sanctions against Tehran as per the so-called “snapback” mechanism is “null and void”, calling on the UN and its Security Council to block any attempt to reinstate the bans.

The idea that the Iranian Islamic Revolution could be universally exported is an absurdity – forced conversion to Islam is proscribed in the Qur’an, for starters, and Islamic culture does not seem readily compatible with that of Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro or Tokyo any more than the culture of Tokyo, Rio and Amsterdam are readily compatible with that of Iran’s. But the idea that a post-1917, Islamically-based government can not just exist but thrive – even in total and open opposition to Western imperialism – is most definitely exportable to the Muslim World.

But even allowing this option to be democratically presented within Muslim countries is something which imperialists – from any region or culture – cannot risk.

Iran’s frightening strength, and its massive threat, is thus this: it keeps democratically presenting this option. That is the true reason why the US is so very deranged over Iran that they would topple the world order just to keep Iran from succeeding.

In a sense they are right: Iran’s success really does challenge the world order, after all, given the modern importance of oil – a Muslim world not chained by arrogant imperialists would force the West to finally cooperate and not dominate, and also free up trillions of petrodollars for local use.

Washington demands that 80 million Iranians must be viciously sanctioned because they keep selecting this option; keep getting out to vote; keep democratically participating; and – in 2020 – keep on respecting the national democratic will no matter how many sanctions get levied in an effort to, as former US Secretary of State John Kerry once said by accident in Paris, “implode” Iran.

(In 2020 in the US, however, it seems like neither side will honor the national democratic will if their own candidate doesn’t win – more proof that the US is not a very democratic culture, perhaps.)

UN chief says will take no action on US 'snapback' push against Iran
UN chief says will take no action on US ‘snapback’ push against Iran

The UN chief says “uncertainty” prevents him from considering Washington

Savvy commentators know that Trump’s sanctions may have increased economic difficulties but they also know that they have only increased domestic patriotism: a country which fought for eight years to preserve 5 centimetres of Iranian land from Iraqi & Western aggressors cannot be easily cowed, nor have they come this far to stop now.

Increasing this sense of patriotism is the reality that Iranians truly feel that they deserve international respect precisely because the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 has created a novel system so very strong and egalitarian that it can face endless sanctions and still win.

These post-1917 and Islamic-inspired creations, solutions and levers are what are so treasured domestically; are what explain the success for Iran’s resistance; cannot even be objectively described, much less openly admired, in the West, which is why the West doesn’t even want to inquire about possible Iranian strengths.

It also these systems – their very success, support and how they increase sovereign Iranian strength – which explain why it is China which courted Iran for the Belt and Road Initiative and not the other way around. For over five years Iran rather rejected Beijing’s overtures, in order to give the JCPOA a chance.

The most lenient analysis in 2020 would be that the JCPOA is at least a partial failure, and it seems very historically logical to predict that even a victory by Joe Biden would not lead to the US actually honoring the treaty.

But as the JCPOA’s promises continued to go unfulfilled Iranian diplomats were also laying the groundwork for the $400 billion, 25-year strategic partnership with China that now seems certain to be finalized.

None of it adds up over Iran, to the US elite:

Why would the US blow up the UN over little old Iran? Why is China making Iran (and not, say, Russia) their make-or-break node in their Belt and Road Initiative? Why is the world standing with Iran against almighty Washington?

But it’s not possible to intelligently answer such questions if the idea of Iranian strength cannot even be openly discussed.

Fortunately for the average Iranian: strength means having the ability to disregard the ignorance, collusion and duplicity of those weaker than yourself.

Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV 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 ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

In Defence of Sovereignty

August 18, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

In Defence of Sovereignty

For the benefit of Frau Merkel & Nordstream-2

No sovereignty = No democracy: If a State is subordinate to another State or group of states it is no longer sovereign. That is to say if it ceases to exercise control over its vital policies, economic, political, social and cultural. Moreover it follows that if it is not sovereign it cannot be democratic since the key policies it might wish to enact and carry out are decided elsewhere.

The increasingly unbalanced assessment regarding the UK’s eventual exit from membership of the EU (if indeed it ever really happens) seems predicated on a series of fixed, cliché-ridden political positions which haven’t changed since the whole issue became live. The great national ‘debate’ seems to be an emotionally charged affair with little attention to facts and more focused upon personalities and taken-for-granted assumptions of the ‘everybody knows’ type. This presumably is post-modern politics I suppose. But at the heart of the debate is the issue of sovereignty.

Let us firstly consider the international economic issues involved according to the conventional wisdom of the hyper-globalists. It is argued that both nation states and the whole concept of national sovereignty is now defunct. Their reasoning is based upon the following premises. 1. Most products have developed a very complex geography – with parts made in different countries and then assembled somewhere else, in which case labels of origin begin to lose their meaning. 2. Markets when left unfettered will arrive at optimal price, allocative, and productive efficiency. 3.This means that capital, commodities and labour should be free to move around the globe without let or hindrance to achieve these goals. 4. Any barriers to this process – capital controls, trade unions, exchange rate controls, welfare expenditures, minimum wage legislation, wages and even public goods – will give rise to price and allocative distortions. Q.E.D. Apart from point 1., the rest of these claims are in fact highly contestable and could easily be shredded by reference to historical experience and empirical testing, but hey, if the theoretical paradigm is sound who cares about historical experience and empirical testing.

Such globalization has come to be seen and defined by its proponents as the ‘natural order’ of things, almost a force of nature. This, it is further argued, will be an inexorable process of increasing geographical spread and functional integration between economic and political activities. This current orthodoxy goes by various names, Washington Consensus, Market Liberalisation, Neo-liberalism, Globalism and so on and so forth. In fact, there is nothing ‘natural’ about this stage of historical development since the whole phenomenon has been politically driven. From the outset there has been a coalition of globalist oligarchs, technocrats and heads of state et.al working through global institutions the IMF, World Bank, BIS, WTO, NATO, the EU, CIA – the list is extensive. They control the economic, political and military superstructures which form the ruling global system and constitute the vanguard of the whole process.

Turning to the EU as the regional prototype for the globalization, anti-state project, it was Patrick Buchanan, an American conservative who once correctly stated in ‘The American Conservative’ that the US Congress ‘‘is an Israeli occupied zone’’ by which he meant of course that Israel and the Israeli Lobby, both external and internal, has had a huge input into the framing and operation of US foreign policy. In a similar vein the EU is also occupied territory under the occupation and control of US imperialism. (This process of blatant meddling in European affairs by the US-CIA started with Operation Gladio in the late 1940s at about the same time as Operation Mockingbird and Operation Paperclip.) However, the perceived enemy was not merely Soviet communism, but also sotto voce, European social and political theory and practice, namely, Gaullism and social-democracy. These latter political groupings have long since been politically cleansed with the EU being reconfigured as neo-liberal, and, since the alignment of the EU security structures with NATO, as neo-conservative vassal states overseen and represented by odious little Petainist/Quisling occupation regimes. This is only too apparent when the fawning behaviours of Johnson, Macron and Merkel vis-à-vis the US are observed. Whenever the US master says jump, the Europeans will reply ‘how high’ And this is even more pronounced by the newly arrived Eastern European states. A group which Dick Cheney once described as the ‘new Europe.’ By which he meant the political force which was operationalised to fundamentally change the political direction of the EU in the late 20th century. Euro-widening was meant to prevent euro-deepening, and it worked a treat.

Perhaps the most salient (and bogus) claim deployed by the pro-Globalization camp is the use of the time-honoured TINA ‘there-is-no-alternative’ Varoufakis approach. This is invariably deployed to shut-down any genuine discussion. Of course it was Mrs Thatcher who pioneered this method of political discourse, with, it should be added, considerable success. Reading the editorials in the ‘leftist’ publications, I couldn’t help being reminded of those little Thatcherite homilies trotted out by the Tory press during the Thatcher ascendency.

But now, not to be outdone, the centre-left has taken upon itself the mantle of ‘progress’ and ‘modernity’ providing the ideological rationale for the globalist tendency. This has involved a 180 degree turn and is apparently using the same language and political orientation as the Globalists. Try this one on: ‘’Nations are increasingly irrelevant when it comes to effective action on the environment and social and immigration policies …’’ This was taken from a centre-left publication. Yep, distilled, undiluted globalization – TINA. That could have been George Soros speaking. As if sovereign nations could not pool their resources, enter into bi-lateral agreements, engage in trade and diplomacy, enter into negotiations with others precisely to confront common issues such as the aforementioned environmental, immigration and social issues.

But in this ‘stateless’ or seemingly becoming ‘stateless’ world I do feel obliged to point out that the United States as a nation is sovereign and has every intention of remaining so. Contrary to the globalist patter, however, this super-state shapes and formulates both economic and foreign policy for itself and its vassal states in Europe and East Asia, but of course these vassal states are not fully sovereign and are subject to the rule of the one that is – the USA. The reality we have in the EU consists not of a unified assemblage of sovereign states but a de facto occupied zone of a political, economic and military empire, under both US aegis and control.

As the late Egyptian Marxist, Samir Amin, put it:

‘’Conceived of at the end of WW2 the ‘European Project’ was born as the European part of the Atlanticist project of the United States, much in the spirit of the first Cold War initiated by Washington and given voice by Churchill’s speech in Fulton Missouri in 1946 in which he intoned. “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”  This has been a project which the European bourgeoisies – at that time weak and afraid of their own working classes – adhered to practically without conditions. This is still largely true, as seen in the choices put into effect by the ruling classes and political forces of the right and majority left, at least in certain European countries, above all in Great Britain, where it has been done clearly and ostentatiously. In other countries there is perhaps a small piece of hesitation, whilst in Eastern Europe the process is managed by political classes formed in the culture of servility … There is no longer, at present, a European project … A North Atlantic project under American command has replaced it

Thus the European ‘project’ is not moving – or not moving fast enough, or not moving at all – in the direction that is needed to bring Washington to its senses. Indeed it remains a basically ‘non-European’ project, scarcely more than a European part of the American project. The European’s Constitution is for a Europe which is settling – has settled ? – its dual and Atlanticist option. Hence the potential contained in the clash of political cultures, which could theoretically lead to an end of Atlanticism which remains mortgaged to social-liberalism of the majority sections of the left (electorally speaking, the European socialist parties). But social-liberalism is a contradiction in terms, since liberalism is by its nature non-social or even anti-social … a stable and generally multipolar world will be socialist or it will not exist at all. (2)

Inter-governmental policy is perfectly possible, however, without the surrender of national sovereignty to an imperial hegemon. However, If the European Vichy regimes choose to accept the imposition of US policy imperatives that is their choice – a political choice, not an iron law of political development.

The fact is that nation states unquestionably remain the most significant force in shaping the world economy – this in spite of the hyper-globalist rhetoric coming from the Bilderbergers and neo-liberal/Washington consensus proponents. The nation state has always played a fundamental role in the economic development of all countries and indeed in the process of globalization itself. In fact, the more powerful states have used globalization as a means of increasing their power vis-à-vis the weaker states. The US and the G7 design and establish, international trade agreements, organizations, and legislations that support and govern trans-border investments, production networks, and market penetration, constitutive of contemporary economic globalization. Advanced capitalist states, in particular, use these political instruments to shape international decision making and policy in their own interests.(3)

A contemporary example of this is the US – qua sovereign hegemon – forcing policies, such as membership of NATO, down the throats of their (apparently willing) ‘allies’ (read vassals) and ‘partners’ in order to carry out the US’s geopolitical policies by mobilizing their Quisling regimes in both Europe (particularly Eastern Europe) for possible conflict with Russia, China and Iran (which are de facto sovereign states). It can be seen that the sovereignty of Europe is limited by the Transatlantic hegemon to the extent that Europe lacks both military, political and key areas of economic decision making to individual European G7 states. The fact that these semi-sovereign euro states are forced – as is everyone else – to use the US$ as the global currency means they do not really control their own economies. Let us assume for the sake of argument that Sweden has a trading surplus with the US; this means that it is exporting more than it is importing in terms of US goods. This means that the Swedish currency – the Krona – will appreciate against the US$. But the Swedish government may not want its currency to appreciate by being palmed off with US Treasuries which will never be redeemed. In order therefore to stop its own currency appreciating against the dollar it will have to buy US dollars or dollar denominated assets, (usually Treasury Bills) to keep its own currency at a lower exchange rate to the dollar. This results in an appreciating dollar which means the US can buy more stuff on world markets without producing any additional goods and services! Great deal if you can get it! Moreover by accepting the US$ and Treasuries as a means of payment for goods produced in Europe these semi-peripheral states are on the wrong end of what the French politician Valery Giscard D’Estaing once termed an ‘exorbitant privilege’. Such is the position of sovereign states, semi-sovereign states, and non-sovereign states.

In geopolitical terms it should be understood that the abasement of Europe to American interests is frankly abject. Europe has become a forward base for the Pentagon, military industrial complex, and neo-con infested State Department to play their war games against Russia and latterly against China. If there is a war with Russia, please note it is intended to be carried out on European soil not American.

In terms of present and future membership not only was the admission of the Eastern European periphery a massive error for individual European states, but future membership bodes even worse for the EU ‘project’. Turkey is not only authoritarian, a US proxy and a member of NATO, which is bad enough, but it also funds and arms our most inveterate enemies, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Jabhat Al Nusra, and various other jihadist alphabet soup grouplets. This same state was at that time mooted for membership of the EU by both the UK and Germany. Moreover, future candidates for EU/NATO status include Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. None of these states could be considered to be even remotely sovereign and/or democratic and generally are totally and openly corrupt. It is all part of the long march toward Russia’s western frontier by NATO/EU, a process begun by Clinton (Mr) in the 1990s. But apparently this is of no consequence to the contemporary ‘left’ which doesn’t seem unduly worried by these developments.

As for the EU/NATO, do we really want to belong to an organization who has these people as members/applicants? It’s a bit like Groucho Marx’s famous witticism – ‘’I wouldn’t want to belong to a club which would have me as a member.’’ More important in this respect does the EU/NATO even allow us a choice in the matter?

One final point. Okay it is argued that if we – the UK – leave the EU the roof falls in, of course that is a complete non sequitur, but let’s run with it for a moment. Membership is therefore imperative! Really?

Well in 1946 due to costs of the WW2 the UK was flat broke. Lord Keynes was despatched to Washington and negotiated a loan from the Americans. Of course there were strings, or in IMF/World Bankspeak, ‘conditionalities.’ 1. Britain had to end the system of imperial preference of intra-empire trading, mainly because the Americans wanted to get into this lucrative market. 2. The British empire had to be wound up, and the Americans would then carry the baton for the Anglo-Zionist empire, with all the costs but mostly advantages that accrued from this position. The UK’s long retreat from East of Suez began with Indian independence in 1947 and continued well into the 1960s.

The roof did not fall in, however, Britain, in spite of continuing imperial delusions of grandeur, adjusted to its new position in the world. There was, after all, an alternative to imperial nostalgia, maybe it never quite worked out as planned, but it happened, nonetheless.

Thus the TINA hypothesis is basically invalid. There are – pace the globalist dogma – always alternatives, you may not like them, but to deny their existence is neither a serious nor honest position to take.

NOTES

(1) Samir Amin – The Liberal Virus – p.86 p.89.

(2) Samir Amin – Beyond US Hegemony – p.148.

(3) Peter Dicken – Global Shift – The State Really Does Matter, Chapter 6

To Understand Iran’s 150-Year Fight, Follow the Trail of Blood and Oil

To Understand Iran's 150-Year Fight, Follow the Trail of Blood and ...

Cynthia Chung May 23, 2020

This past Sunday, April 17th, a dispute between Iran and the U.S. occurred over the U.S.’ decision to increase its military presence in Caribbean and Eastern Pacific waters, with the purported reason being a counter-narcotics campaign.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this past Sunday, that the real purpose for this move by the U.S. is to “intervene and create disruption in the transfer of Iran’s fuel to Venezuela.” In the same letter, Zarif expressed concern over “the United States’ intention to consider dangerous, unlawful and provocative measures against Iranian oil tankers engaged in perfectly lawful international commerce with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

The Iranian deployment consists of five tankers carrying around $45.5million of gasoline and related products, as part of a wider deal between Iran and Venezuela. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on both nations’ oil exports.

For the first time since 1962, Iran has requested IMF assistance due to severe shortages created by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Iran requesting an emergency loan of $5 billion. However, the request is currently being blocked by the U.S., which accounts for slightly more than 16.5% of IMF’s voting shares and has an effective veto over decisions.

Iran is presently experiencing a critical shortage of medicines and equipment amid the pandemic, and yet is prohibited from purchasing medicines and supplies because of the banking sanctions.

It is clear that these manoeuvres against Iran are not on behalf of anyone’s “security” but rather an attempt to force Iran to finally bend the knee and be reduced to a state of complete dependence.

Iran has fought a long fight to claim its independence from western powers.

However, what if I were to tell you that once there was a time when Iran and the U.S. had good relations and that the U.S. was in fact the leading promoter and supporter of Iran’s sovereignty?

Almost out of a Shakespearean play of tragedy and betrayal, the relationship was jeopardised by a third player. As identified by John Perkins, in his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the first ever U.S. coup against a foreign country was the overthrow of Iran’s nationalist Prime Minister Mosaddegh in 1953. However, what is often left out…is that it was a British authored and designed operation.

In order for us to understand how and why the U.S. was dragged into such an affair, our story starts 150 years ago…

Dieu et mon droit

It all started in 1872, with Nasir al-Din Shah having granted to the British Baron Julius de Reuter, rights to Iran’s entire economic estate. Reuter not only controlled Iran’s industry, farming, and rail transportation, but also held the right to issue currency and to set up a national bank, called the Imperial Bank of Persia, which was under direct British control.

In 1901, Muzzaffar al-Din Shah negotiated what became known as the D’Arcy Contract, granting William Knox D’Arcy, a millionaire London socialite, the special and exclusive privilege to basically own and manage the natural gas and petroleum of Iran for a term of 60 years.

In May 26th 1908 D’Arcy struck pay-dirt in Iran, discovering a huge oil field in Masjed-Soleiman. Britain immediately set up APOC in 1908, purchasing the rights to the black gold from D’Arcy. Six years later, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill gave the order to purchase 51% of APOC, effectively nationalizing the company. This was to ensure the free flow of oil to the British navy. It was the first company to extract petroleum from Iran.

Iran received only 16% of the royalties on the oil.

Britain continued to pursue total control of Iran, not through colonial occupation, but rather through economic “agreements”. In the midst of carving up the empire’s new “jewels” of the Middle East from the Sykes-Picot fraud on the Arabian people and the illegal British occupation of Palestine, the notorious Anglo-Persian Agreement of Aug 19, 1919 was also signed, with London effectively turning Iran into a de facto protectorate run by British “advisors”. Britain had succeeded in becoming the masters of Iran’s natural resources through this agreement.

Iran received almost nothing in return, not even oil from APOC for domestic consumption, but rather had to import it from the Soviet Union!

On Nov 28th 1932 Reza Shah announced that he would be cancelling the British concession to APOC. The British Navy was heavily dependent on cheap Iranian oil and thus Britain refused to acquiesce. A compromise was reached in 1933 through bilateral negotiations and the British managed to extend their concession up until 1993! Iran had succeeded in getting the British to pay a higher price but it still did not control its own oil.

The American Relationship

Despite claiming a neutral stance for Iran during WWII, word had gotten out that Reza Shah was apparently sympathetic to the cause of Hitler. The argument was thus used that a pro-German Iran could become a launching pad for an attack against the Soviet Union, justifying British and Soviet entry into the country on Aug 25th 1941 for what would be a several years’ occupation. On Sept 16th Reza was forced by the British to abdicate and go into exile transferring power to his 22 year old son, Mohammad Reza Shah.

Mohammad Reza Shah was not happy with the joint occupation and sought an American military presence as a mediator to British and Soviet interests. The Shah sent a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Aug 25th 1941 asking him to:

“be good enough to interest yourself in this incident…I beg Your Excellency to take efficacious and urgent humanitarian steps to put an end to these acts of aggression.”

In response to this plea, Roosevelt sent Gen. Patrick Hurley as his special representative to Iran to help prepare what was to become the Iran Declaration, finally adopted at the Tehran Conference where Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill would agree to guarantee the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Iran.

The Iran Declaration was used to finally end the foreign occupation of Iran after WWII, despite some resistance, and would play a crucial role in Iran’s future fight for sovereignty. The Iran Declaration thus proved itself to be more than just words, and this would certainly never have happened if not for FDR.

As part of Hurley’s report to FDR, he wrote some biting words on the present system of British imperialism, “The imperialism of Germany, Japan, Italy, France… will, we hope, end or be radically revised by this war [WWII]. British imperialism seems to have acquired a new life. . . What appears to be a new life… is the result of the infusion, into its emaciated form, of the blood of productivity and liberty from a free nation [Iran] through Lend-Lease.”

Roosevelt sent a copy of the Hurley report to Churchill with his thoughts on the matter: “The enclosed memorandum was sent to me… I rather like his general approach to the care and education of what used to be called ‘backward countries’…the point of all this is that I do not want the United States to acquire a ‘zone of influence,’ or any other nation for that matter [in Iran].”

Churchill was less than enthusiastic on the Hurley-FDR vision. He was particularly irked by Hurley’s notion that British imperialism were in conflict with democracy.

FDR died only a few months later, and with his interment, Hurley’s plans for American support for a sovereign and democratic Iran as a model for the rest of the Middle East were relegated to the dust bins of time and forgotten by much of the world.

Following WWII, nationalistic sentiments were on the rise including in the Middle East, the most notable being Iran. However, following the death of FDR the British were free to disingenuously respond to Iran’s request for better economic conditions by offering what was called the “Supplemental Agreement”, in May 1949. This entailed a better payment in royalties but still denied Iran any oversight over accounts or any other form of control over Iranian oil.

Enter Mosaddegh

In the late 1940s, a new political force emerged in Iran called the National Front led by Mohammad Mosaddegh. Their campaign was centered on the demand to nationalize the AIOC and the people of Iran were in accord, electing Mosaddegh into the Majlis (parliament) in 1949.

Mosaddegh lost no time, and quickly became the head of the Majlis Oil Committee which was tasked to study the British “Supplemental Agreement”. When it came time to put it to a vote on Nov 25th 1950, the committee delivered a resounding “no” to the British proposition.

Less than four months later, the Majlis voted on March 15th 1951 for nationalization of the AIOC, and it was renamed as the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). Less than two months later, Mosaddegh became Prime Minister of Iran on April 28th 1951.

The British were left empty handed.

Twice the British tried to argue their case before the international community, once in May 1951 at The Hague and again in October at the UN Security Council. Both attempts were to lose to Mosaddegh’s defense. Mosaddegh had earned a Ph.D. in law from the Neuchatel Law School in Switzerland in 1914.

This was anything but a formal victory. It was to set a precedent in the international community that a country’s right to national sovereignty would be favored over Britain’s imperial “claims”, which were exposed during these two very public trials as amounting to nothing more than the threats and bribes of pirates.

At the UN Security Council, Mosaddegh responded to Britain’s imperial ambitions over Iran with these eloquent words:

“My countrymen lack the bare necessities of existence…Our greatest natural asset is oil. This should be the source of work and food for the population of Iran. Its exploitation should properly be our national industry, and the revenue from it should go to improve our conditions of life. As now organized, however, the petroleum industry has contributed practically nothing to the well-being of the people or to the technical progress or industrial development of my country…if we are to tolerate a situation in which the Iranian plays the part of a mere manual worker in the oil fields…and if foreign exploiters continue to appropriate practically all of the income, then our people will remain forever in a state of poverty and misery. These are the reasons that have prompted the Iranian parliament… to vote unanimously in favor of nationalizing the oil industry.”

A British coup

The British were fuming over Mosaddegh’s high profile humiliation of the British Empire’s claim to Iran’s oil. Mosaddegh would have to be deposed, however, this could not look like a British retaliation.

During Averell Harrimann’s visit to Tehran in July 1951, in an attempt to salvage the broken British-Iranian relationship, Mosaddegh is reported to have said,

“You do not know how crafty they are. You do not know how evil they are. You do not know how they sully everything they touch.”

As coup rumours circulated and reports were rife of British contact being sought with Iranian military officers, Mosaddegh severed diplomatic relations with the UK on Oct 16th 1952. The British were further humiliated and had to leave the country taking their agents with them.

It was at this point that Churchill “invited” his lap dog, de facto president Truman, to participate in his vision for regime change in Iran. In November 1952, NSC 136 and 136/I were written into record, Truman had agreed to promote direct intervention in Iran through covert operations and even military force. A detailed plan was approved on Jan 8th 1953 which was 12 days before Eisenhower was inaugurated.

The management of this covert operation was under the treasonous Dulles brothers, who would use the very same technique when JFK first entered office in setting him up with the Bay of Pigs fiasco, however, JFK managed to publicly expose Allan Dulles in this scheme and fired him. Dulles had been the Director of the CIA for 8 years up until that point, and was Deputy Director of the CIA for two years prior. Refer to my paper on this for further details.

A preliminary meeting in Washington saw representatives of the Near East and Africa Division (NEA) with British Intelligence. The key personalities were Christopher Montague Woodhouse who had been station chief for British Intelligence in Tehran and on the American side Kermit Roosevelt (son of Teddy Roosevelt) acting as NEA Division Chief. It was the British who would propose a joint political action to remove Prime Minister Mosaddegh according to CIA documents, which were in part leaked by the New York Times on April 16th 2000. The final plan was codenamed TPAJAX.

Appendix B, aka “London Draft of the TPAJAX Operational Plan” was black propaganda aimed at hammering out these themes 1) Mosaddegh favors the Tudeh Party and the USSR 2) Mosaddegh is an enemy of Islam since he associates with Tudeh.

The aim of such tactics was to drive a wedge between Mosaddegh and his National Front on the one side and his clerical allies, especially Kashani on the other. Demonstrations against Mosaddegh in the streets were to provide the pretext for bought MPs to hold a vote against him, if he refused to step down the plan was to have Fazlollah Zahedi, leader of the opposition, to arrest him. Zahedi, as laid out in Appendix B was selected by the British to replace Mosaddegh as Prime Minister after the coup.

Chief of Staff Gen. Taghi Riahi found out about the coup plans and alerted Mosaddegh in time. When the chief of the Imperial Guards, Col. Nasiri went to Mosaddegh’s house the evening before the planned coup day (Aug 16th) to arrest him, Nasiri himself was taken as prisoner by the pro- Mosaddegh military. Zahedi managed to flee.

The coup attempt had failed and the word spread fast, crowds flooded the streets supporting Mosaddegh and denouncing the Shah. The Shah left the country quickly.

The CIA informed of the fiasco alerted Kermit Roosevelt that he should leave Iran immediately. But Kermit believed the coup could still work and would make a second attempt three days later. British Intelligence and CIA orchestrated demonstrations set to the streets on Aug 19th. The royal decrees signed by the Shah for the deposal of Mosaddegh to be replaced by Zahedi were made public in the press that very day with the radio news announcing: that Zahedi was Prime Minister, that Mosaddegh had been ousted and that the Shah would return soon.

Military units were dispatched to Mosaddegh’s home. As his house was being destroyed by gunfire and tanks, Mosaddegh managed to escape. It is said he later turned himself in to the authorities.

After a ten-week period in a military prison, Mosaddegh was tried on charges of treason, because he had allegedly mobilized for a rebellion and had contradicted the Shah. In fact, the accused treason was a nationalistic response to a foreign led coup.

Mosaddegh was promptly found guilty and sentenced to death, later lessened to three years in prison, followed by house arrest.

Mosaddegh’s response to the kangaroo court proceedings was,

“My only crime is that I nationalized the oil industry and removed from this land the network of colonialism and the political and economic influence of the greatest empire [the British Empire] on Earth.”

Members of his government were also arrested, as were the leading military who remained loyal to him. Six hundred of the 6, 000 of these men were executed.

Even after Mosaddegh had passed away, on March 5th, 1967, his enemies were fearful of his influence. Mosaddegh had requested that upon his death, he be buried in the public graveyard beside the victims of the political violence that occurred on the 21st July 1952 from British-backed Ahmad Qavam who ordered soldiers to shoot at Mosaddegh nationalists during a demonstration, resulting in a blood bath. Not wanting his grave to become the site of political manifestations, a public funeral for Mosaddegh was denied and his body was quietly buried underneath the floorboards of a room in his house.

لبنان: من الانهيار إلى الصعود (1)

زياد حافظ

في لقاء افتراضي عقده منتدى «الحوار» في واشنطن والذي يديره الأستاذ صبحي غندور، كان معنا عدد من النخب العربية المقيمة في الولايات المتحدة وكندا ولبنان والأردن والمملكة المتحدة وفرنسا على ما نذكر، وعرضنا فيه مقاربة للمشهد الاقتصادي والمالي اللبناني وعلاقته بالمشهد السياسي المحلّي والإقليمي والدولي. ليس هدفنا تلخيص المقاربة بل التوسع في ما وصلنا إليه في الختام لأننا تطرّقنا إلى بُعد لم نقاربه من قبل وإنْ كان في ذهننا منذ فترة طويلة. خلاصة المقاربة كانت أن رغم المشهد القاتم السائد حاليا والذي ينذر بالوقوع في هاوية خالية من القاع فإنّ لبنان يقف على أبواب نهضة اقتصادية لم يشهدها بعد في التاريخ المعاصر وحتى القديم نسبيا. وكل ما يحتاجه هو إرادة فقط لا غير لأنّ الظروف الموضوعية لتلك النهضة متوفرة وما ينقصها إلاّ القرار الذاتي.

لكن هذا القرار ليس متوفّراً عند الجميع بل فقط عند بعض الفئات ولبنان لا يستطيع أن ينهض إن لم يكن هناك توافق بين مكوّناته السياسية والاجتماعية. صحيح أنّ هناك أكثرية تستطيع أن تفرض التغيير ولكن فد يكون ذلك على حساب السلم الأهلي. وهذا ما لا تريده أكثرية اللبنانيين الذين ما زالوا يذكرون ويلات الحرب الأهلية. وهذا الوعي بمخاطر الحرب الأهلية هو ما حمى لبنان من الوقوع في فخ الفتنة التي حاول أعداء لبنان من جرّه إليه.

بطبيعة الحال نتوّقع الاستهزاء من هذا التفاؤل الذي نعتقد (أي التفاؤل) أنه في مكانه والمرتكز إلى قواعد موضوعية قد تغفل عن بال العديد من المحلّلين والتي سنسردها لاحقا.

فـ «الموضوعية» و»الواقعية» التي يتغنّى بها العديد من النخب التي تملأ الفضاء السياسي والإعلامي في لبنان ليست إلاّ التبرير لإعفاء النفس عن الجهد والتفكير، كما أن «التشاؤم» أصبح تجارة مربحة وقليلة الكلفة طالما تخدم أهدافاً خارجية بشكل موضوعي أو ذاتي. فالاستهزاء مثلا من العودة إلى الاقتصاد الإنتاجي انصبّ على التهكم على الزراعة وكأنها عودة إلى الوراء! فالمجتمعات المتقدّمة كما يزعم البعض انتقلت من الزراعة إلى الصناعة ثم إلى الخدمات فلماذا العودة إلى الوراء؟ هذا المنطق المغلوط يخفي أن التوجّه نحو اقتصاد منتج هو التوجّه إلى المحاسبة والمساءلة، بينما الاقتصاد الريعي يلغي تلك المساءلة والمحاسبة. ويمكن التوسّع في تفسير ذلك إلاّ أنه يخرجنا عن صلب الموضوع الذي نريد التركيز عليه.

الحجة الرئيسية التي يقدّمها المشكّكون هي المشهد الاقتصادي الحالي القاتم والأزمة المالية التي تتفاقم يوماً بعد يوم وكأنها قدر وقائمة حتى يوم الدين هي أنّ خلاص لبنان هو عبر المساعدات الخارجية فقط لا غير. والتشخيص المتشائم للواقع هو كلام حق، إلى حدّ ما، ولكن يُراد به باطل على الأقلّ للحفاظ على البنية القائمة كما هي، وفي الحد الأقصى تنفيذاً لأجندات خارجية لا تخدم إلاّ الكيان العدو. والخطورة في ذلك التشخيص هو «ثباته» وأنه غير قابل للتغيير وكأنه منزل أو محفور بالصخر. فهو ليس مُنزلا ولا محفورا بالصخر بل عناصره افتراضية أكثر مما هي عينية. فهي تغيّب الإرادة أو تعتبرها مشلولة ولا حول ولا قوّة لها وهذا غير صحيح موضوعيا. فالتغيير ممكن والإرادة موجودة على الأقل عند بعض القيادات التي تسعى بشكّل جدّي إلى التغيير. لكنها بحاجة إلى حشد توافق مع سائر القوى التي كانت تستفيد من الوضع الحالي الذي وصل إلى طريق مسدود.

ما نريد أن نقوله هو أن الأزمة الاقتصادية والمالية ظاهرها تقني ولكن جوهرها سياسي. فالحلول التقنية موجودة ولكن ينقصها القرار السياسي الذي يصبّ في جوهر الأزمة. وإذا أردنا أن نكون أكثر وضوحا نقول إن أزمة شحّ الدولار والارتفاع غير المسبوق لسعر الصرف والشلل الاقتصادي العام والبطالة الناتجة عن كل ذلك هي ظواهر لأزمة مصطنعة وإْن ارتكزت على بعض المعطيات الموضوعية الاقتصادية والمتظافرة مع جائحة كورونا، لكنها لا تبرّر ذلك الارتفاع لسعر الدولار وما ينجم عن ذلك. فالتحكّم بعرض الدولارات لأسباب لا علاقة لها بالواقع الاقتصادي كضرورة الحفاظ على احتياط كاف لسدّ الحاجات الاستيرادية من المواد الأساسية كالمشتقات النفطية والدواء وبعض المواد الغذائية الأساسية لا تصمد أمام الحلول التي يمكن تطبيقها وتخفّف الضغط على طلب الدولار والتي عرضناها سابقا كما عرضها العديد من الخبراء في هذا الموضوع. من ضمن تلك الحلول التعامل بالليرة اللبنانية مع المورّدين الذي يقبلون ذلك وخاصة في المشتقات النفطية التي تشكّل الجزء الأكبر من الاستيراد اللبناني وذلك على سبيل المثال وليس الحصر. لكن التحكّم بالعرض للدولار والتلاعب بسعره فرصة للمتحكّمين للثراء غير المشروع وأيضا لفرض المزيد من الضغط السياسي على المقاومة عبر الضغط على المواطنين بشكل عام. فالساحة اللبنانية أصبحت ساحة المواجهة المباشرة بين الولايات المتحدة والمقاومة خدمة للكيان الصهيوني. كلام وزير الخارجية بومبيو وكلام مساعده دافيد شينكر وكلام قائد المنطقة الوسطى كينيت ماكنزي واضح مفاده أن القرارات الأميركية تجاه لبنان هي لمصلحة الكيان فقط لا غير. فالحصار الاقتصادي ومنع وصول الدولار إلى لبنان هو قرار سياسي يغذّي الأزمة الاقتصادية والمالية بل يساهم عمدا في تفاقمها للضغط السياسي على لبنان.

إذاً، الأزمة المالية هي أزمة سياسية وحلّها في السياسة عبر ممارسة الضغط المضاد الذي تقوم به المقاومة في لبنان والذي يجب أن تساندها القوى الشعبية والهيئات النقابية. فإطلالات أمين عام حزب الله الأخيرة مكّنت الحكومة من استعمال ورقة الانفتاح «إلى الشرق»، فظهر العراق، لينذر بانفتاح على كل من سورية والجمهورية الإسلامية في إيران والصين وروسيا، ليساهم في تعديل اللهجة الأميركية تجاه لبنان. وهذا الانفتاح إلى تلك الدول المغضوب عليها أميركيا أدّى إلى جنوح نحو الانفتاح الخليجي تجاه لبنان بعدما كان أداة للحصار على لبنان. فخسارة لبنان خسارة استراتيجية لا تستطيع الولايات المتحدة وحلفاؤها في المنطقة تحمّلها.

إذاً، قوانين الاشتباك السياسي والاقتصادي أصبحت واضحة يضاف إليها التهديد الواضح بقلب الطاولة على الجميع من قبل المقاومة عبر الكلمة المكتوبة والتي ردّدها ثلاث مرّات الأمين العام، أي إذا أردتم قتلنا عبر التجويع فلن نجوع وسنقتلك، سنقتلك، سنقتلك! ترجمة هذا التهديد تمّ التبليغ عنها عبر «الوسطاء» الذين أرادوا معرفة ما المقصود. النتيجة كانت واضحة تجلّت في تخفيف حدّة اللهجة الأميركية في مخاطبة الحكومة. كما أنّ الوفد المفاوض من قبل صندوق النقد الدولي اعتمد بدوره أسلوباً ولغة أكثر دبلوماسية مما كان عليه قبل توقف الحوار مع الحكومة اللبنانية. فالأخيرة استطاعت الاستفادة من ضغط المقاومة لتحسين شروط التفاوض مع الولايات المتحدة والصندوق عبر المباشرة بخيارات بديلة وهذا ما يُسجّل لها رغم البطء والتردّد الذي سبق هذه الخطوة.

خطوة أولى للخروج من الأزمة

ضغط المقاومة يفتح باب المقاومة الاقتصادية كخطوة أولى للخروج من الأزمة وتمهّد لمسار اقتصادي يصون الاستقلال والسيادة الوطنية في الاقتصاد ويفتح مجالات البحبوحة الاقتصادية التي ستعمّ المنطقة تحت شعار إعادة اعمار الدول المنكوبة من الحروب الكونية التي شُنت عليها أي كل من سورية والعراق، وعبر التشبيك الاقتصادي الذي سنعرض فوائده لاحقا.

أما الخيارات الاستراتيجية الاقتصادية الموجودة التي تحمل في طيّاتها الحلول فهي أولا إعادة هيكلة الاقتصاد عبر الانتقال من اقتصاد ريعي بامتياز إلى اقتصاد إنتاجي وهذا ما تبنّته تصريحات رئيس الوزراء الدكتور حسّان دياب. ثانيا، إن إعادة هيكلة الاقتصاد اللبناني تطلّب أيضا المباشرة بإعادة هيكلة الدين العام كخطوة استراتيجية في تصحيح الوضع المالي. ثالثا، من ضمن شروط إعادة هيكلة الدين العام إعادة هيكلة القطاع المصرفي لاسترجاع الثقة التي بدّدها القطاع بسوء إدارته ولا مبالاته لحاجات اللبنانيين بشكل عام والمودعين بشكل خاص. رابعا، ما يرافق هذه الخطوات هو الانفتاح على الدول المستعّدة للتعاون مع الدولة اللبنانية بالعملة الوطنية أي الليرة اللبنانية. ومن ضمن هذه الدول دول الشرق بشكل عام بما فيها دول الكتلة الأوراسية وبطبيعة الحال الدول العربية المجاورة وفي مقدمتها سورية ثم العراق والأردن. أما دول الخليج فهي أيضا مرّحب بها إن كانت على استعداد للتعامل مع الدولة اللبنانية كما أعربت عن ذلك دولة الكويت.

هذه الحلول تطلّب قرارا سياسيا واضحا من قبل الحكومة التي ما زالت تتأرجح بين المضي في تنفيذ خطّتها الإصلاحية والتعامل مع التجاذبات الداخلية وإن كانت في معظمها من رحم القوى التي دعمتها. ولكن عاجلا أم آجلا، والأرجح عاجلا، ستستأنف الحكومة تنفيذ خطّتها رغم العراقيل التي تُوضع بوجهها والتي أشار إليها رئيس الحكومة، ورغم الضغوط الخارجية التي تمارس عليها. فلا خيار إلا عبر الحلول المعروضة أعلاه التي العديد من عناصرها متوفّرة في الخطّة الإصلاحية والمعطوفة على التوجّه الأخير نحو العراق كبداية. في المقابل، فإنّ العروض التي يروّجها ما يُسمّى بالمجتمع الدولي غير قابلة للتنفيذ لأنها لن تفي بالغرض لإنقاذ الاقتصاد اللبناني كما أنّ شروطها غير مقبولة. فهذه الشروط لا تفي بالغرض أولا، لأنّ قيمة المساعدات المرتقبة منها لا تشكّل إلاّ الجزء الصغير من حجم الأزمة وثانيا، لأن ما تضمّنته تلك الشروط هي خصخصة ما تبقّى من مرافق للدولة. من جهة أخرى إن القطاع العام رغم الثغرات المعهودة فيه اقلّ ضررا من تجاوزات القطاع الخاص في ما يتعلّق بسلامة ومصلحة المواطنين. هذا لا يعني أننا ندعو إلى سيطرة القطاع العام على حساب القطاع الخاص بل القول إنّ الخصخصة ليست الحل بل هي باب لمشاكل قد تصبح مستعصية على الحل بسبب الجشع الذي يسود في القطاع الخاص وخاصة عند ارباب الطبقة السياسية التي هي جزء من «الفعّاليات الاقتصادية».

فإذا كانت حلول «المجتمع الدولي» غير قابلة للتنفيذ ألاّ بكلفة عالية سياسيا وماليا لن يقبلها اللبنانيون وإذا في المقابل الحلول التي نقترحها هي قابلة للتنفيذ وبكلفة مالية واقتصادية أقلّ بكثير من حلول «المجتمع الدولي» فيبدو أن لا مفر من إقرار خطة الحكومة وإن كانت فيها ثغرات لا ترضينا. على الأقل لدى الحكومة خطّة بينما الحكومات السابقة لم يكن لديها إلاّ الخطّة غير المعلنة الا وهي النهب المنظّم عبر الانتقال إلى اقتصاد ريعي والسيطرة على الريع ومصادره. أما القوى التي تعرقل الخطة فستكتشف أن مصلحتها المستقبلية ستكون في تنفيذ الخطة وإنْ كانت كلفتها التضحية ببعض الرموز حفاظا على سيطرتها على مجريات الأمور. فرفضها للتنازل عن بعض الامتيازات والرموز سياسة قصيرة المدى وسلبياتها أكثر من الإيجابية التي تعتقد أنها ستحصل عليها عبر التمسّك بالوضع القائم. فلا عودة إلى ما قبل 17 تشرين والطريق الأفضل لهذه القوى أن تكون شريكة في التغيير بدلا من أن تكون مصدر العرقلة.

تحويل المخاطر إلى فرص

بالنسبة لما يعتقده البعض بـ «التفاؤل» غير المبرّر فنحن من مدرسة تعوّدت على مقاربة المشاهد عبر تحديد المخاطر والتحدّيات وتحويلها إلى فرص، وعبر تقوية عناصر القوّة الموجودة وتحييد مواطن الضعف إن لم نستطع تحويلها إلى مواطن قوّة. التشاؤم ليس «واقعية» ولا «موضوعية» بل موقف مسبق لتبرير عدم الجهد.

فما هي العناصر الموضوعية التي تجعل لبنان على أبواب نهضة لم يشهدها في تاريخه المعاصر؟

العنصر الأول هو أن لبنان بلد غني بحد ذاته وذلك دون التطرّق إلى الثروات الغازية والنفطية القادمة. والدليل على أن لبنان غني بالرغم من استغلال المواد الأولية والمعادن في جوفه هو أن الطبقة الحاكمة استطاعت أن تسرق أكثر من 130 مليار دولار على الأقل وفقا لأرقام الدين العام والتقديرات العائدة للهدر والاسراف المبرمج! وما زالت تلك الطبقة تفكّر في وسائل جديدة للنهب (ربما عبر «الخصخصة») مما يدلّ على أن الثروة غير المنهوبة ما زالت موجودة وإلاّ لرحلت تلقائيا تلك الطبقة!

ثانيا، إن التاريخ هو مؤشّر على قوّة لبنان في قدرته على تحويل التحدّيات إلى فرص. ففي التاريخ القديم استطاع الكنعانيون أن يبحروا ويكتشفوا قارات ويبنوا شبكات تجارية واسعة رغم التنافس التآمري المدمّر بين ما يمكن تسميته كونفدرالية المدن كجبيل وصيدا وصور. أما في التاريخ المعاصر استطاع لبنان بسبب موقعه الاستراتيجي أن يكون فعلا جسرا بين الشرق والغرب وبالتالي الاستفادة من عولمة لم تكن تعرف آنذاك وسائل التواصل والنقل والاحتساب التي أصبحت اليوم سمتها. إن الجغرافيا لها دور لا يلغيها التاريخ ولا التطوّرات بل تؤكّدها.

ثالثا، وهنا دور الديمغرافيا التي تتلاحم مع الجغرافيا، فإن الثروة الأساسية في لبنان هي في الطاقة البشرية الموجودة التي استطاعت أن تتكيّف مع أصعب الظروف التي مرّ بها البلد. فالحرب الأهلية التي شهدت انهيار مؤسسات الدولة لم تؤدّ إلى انهيار المجتمع. فالأخير برهن آنذاك وحتى الساعة أنه أقوى من الدولة في مواجهة التحدّيات. صحيح أن التكيّف كان وما زال مكلفا ولكن غريزة البقاء كانت الأقوى والقدرة على التكيّف أمّنت الحد الأدنى رغم الفساد الذي تمّت مأسسته في حقبة الطائف ورغم تقاعس الدولة عن تقديم الخدمات التي كان يجب أن تقدّمها. هذه الطاقة البشرية لم تنجح في التكيّف فحسب بل أيضا ابدعت في العديد من القطاعات. وخير دليل على ذلك هو نجاح اللبنانيين في التنافس مع العقول الدولية سواء في العلوم أو في الاقتصاد والمال أو حتى في السياسة (إلاّ في لبنان؟!؟!) اللبنانيون لم ينجحوا حتى الساعة في إدارة شؤونهم الوطنية لأسباب عديدة لكن ما حصل في 17 تشرين 2019 غيّر الكثير.

صحيح أنّ انتفاضة تشرين لم تؤدّ إلى نتائج ملموسة في مجال التغيير لكنّها وضعت على الطاولة قضايا كثيرة لم تكن تريد معالجتها الطبقة السياسية. استطاعت الأخيرة استيعاب حدّة الحراك موقّتاً ساعدها في ذلك جائحة كورونا لكن لم تستطع القضاء على جوهر الحراك. المارد خرج فعلا من عنق الزجاجة وبالتالي مهما طال الأمر فإنّ التغيير آت. لسنا متأكدّين متى سيحصل ذلك كما لسنا متأكدّين أن اللبنانيين سيعودون إلى مبايعة الطقم السياسي بعد كلّ ما حصل. يمكن للطبقة السياسية تأجيل الاستحقاق ولكنها لا يمكنها إلغاء الخطر عليها إن لم تبادر هي بالإصلاح لضبط إيقاع الإصلاح دون المساس بقضايا تعتبرها جوهرية. وهنا الفرصة، فبعض الإصلاح أحسن من لا إصلاح وبعض الإصلاح سيليه اصلاحا آخرا.

رابعا، هناك من سيهزأ من حصول التغيير. نقول في هذا الشأن ان التغيير آت لأن موازين القوّة في الإقليم تغيّرت لصالح قوى التغيير. فمهما كانت قوّة الدولة العميقة أو المجتمع الطائفي العميق فإنها لن تستطيع أن تصمد أمام التغيير في وجه موازين القوّة الجديدة. ولدينا دليل من تاريخ لبنان المعاصر. فالاحتقان الذي تراكم بعد حصول لبنان على الاستقلال وصل إلى ذروة الانفجار سنة 1958 تزامنا مع تغيير في موازين القوّة الإقليمية. فالمد القومي آنذاك بقيادة جمال عبد الناصر استطاع أن يفرز في لبنان قيادة من داخل النظام أقدمت على إجراء إصلاحات لا لتغيير النظام بل لتثبيته على قواعد أكثر صلابة مما كانت عليه بعد الاستقلال. فبعثة ارفد أشارت إلى الخلل في البنية الاقتصادية واللاتوازن في التنمية بين المناطق ما جعل القيادة السياسية تقدم على إنجازات كبيرة في إنشاء مؤسسات للدولة ما زالت قائمة.

التغيير في موازين القوّة بعد 1967 على الصعيد الإقليمي لصالح ما يمكن تسميته بالثورة المضادة في الوطن العربي وخاصة في مشرقه بعد رحيل جمال عبد الناصر مكّنت البيوت السياسية اللبنانية من الانتفاضة ضدّ النهج الذي نتج عن إصلاحات رسخها فؤاد شهاب. فكان الصراع بين «النهج» الذي ضمّ آنذاك القيادات السياسية المؤيّدة لتلك الإصلاحات بقيادة الرئيس الشهيد رشيد كرامي وبين تحالف «الحلف الثلاثي» و»تجمع الوسط» الذي ضمّ معظم البيوت والقوى السياسية المناهضة للإصلاح. وبما أن اختلال ميزان القوّة في المنطقة ازداد لصالح الثورة المضادة والكيان الصهيوني كانت كارثة الحرب الأهلية التي استمرّت 15 سنة. حقبة الطائف التي أمّنت حدّا أدنى من الاستقرار السياسي والأمني والاقتصادي عكس موازين القوّة الجديدة التي أفرزتها التحوّلات في المنطقة بعد انتصار الثورة الإسلامية في إيران والتحالف الاستراتيجي معها الذي أقامه الرئيس الراحل حافظ الأسد مقابل القوى التي ظنّت أن عالما جديدا ولد من رحم خرب الخليج وبعد سقوط الاتحاد السوفيتي ووهم مشاريع السلام في المنطقة. فالوكالة العربية الإقليمية والدولية لسورية أمنّت ذلك الاستقرار حتى 2005 على قاعدة ذلك الوهم في السلام. أما الحقبة التي بدأت مع تحرير لبنان سنة 2000 وبعد اجتياز امتحان العدوان الصهيوني على لبنان بقرار أميركي سنة 2006، وبعد إخفاق المشروع الأميركي في العراق بدأت موازين قوة جديدة ترتسم. أما الحرب الكونية على سورية والعدوان المتكرّر على قطاع غزّة فكانت محاولات لكسر تلك الموازين. فشل هذه المحاولات ثبّت فعّالية الموازين الجديدة التي ستنعكس بشكل مباشر على لبنان.

ما نريد أن نقوله إن تاريخ لبنان المعاصر يُقرأ من خلال قراءة ومعرفة موازين القوّة العربية والإقليمية والدولية. وما كان صحيحا في الماضي البعيد والقريب ما زال قائما حتى الساعة. وبالتالي الموازين الجديدة سينتج عنها قوى في لبنان تقود التغيير.

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*كاتب وباحث اقتصادي سياسي والأمين العام السابق للمؤتمر القومي العربي

Lebanon economic crisis: Sovereignty and solidarity are the keys to prevent collapse

Source

9 July 2020 11:14 UTC | 

By Hicham Safieddine, He is a lecturer in the History of the Modern Middle East at King’s College London. He is author of Banking on the State: The Financial Foundations of Lebanon (Stanford University Press, 2019).

As the US ramps up financial pressure, a political struggle is underway over whether Lebanon should turn eastwards to China, Russia and Iran for relief

Lebanese protesters take part in a symbolic funeral for the country in Beirut on 13 June (AFP)

Lebanon has joined the club of sanctioned nations by proxy. Limited sanctions were already in place, but the US Caesar Act targeting Syria has cast its net over Lebanon’s entire economy. 

The country’s crumbling financial system had been gasping for fresh foreign funds. It is now stuck between the anvil of morbidly corrupt Lebanese elites obstructing reform, and the hammer of financial coercion by western powers.

On top of accelerating inflation that has rippled into Syria, the spectre of sanctions in the wake of failed International Monetary Fund talks has triggered a political tussle inside Lebanon over turning eastwards to China, Russia and Iran for relief.

Wedded to the West

This is not the first time that Lebanon has been unhinged by shifts in the global and regional balances of power. But it is one of the most dangerous crises. Sanctions on top of financial bankruptcy, oligarchic manipulation, regional instability, coronavirus and a global slump, are a recipe for total collapse.

There is no denial of the impending calamity. But the undignified media spectacle of apocalyptic suffering, divorced from a serious discussion of the tough choices Lebanon faces, borders on sanctions-mongering and accentuates this very suffering.

Aside from being a historic fiction, Lebanese neutrality today is wishful thinking

The first choice is clinging to the West and forgetting the rest through negative neutrality. In real terms, this means passive normalisation with Israel and active distancing from Syria, both of which meet western expectations. Aside from being a historic fiction, Lebanese neutrality today is wishful thinking. 

Firstly, calls for neutrality underestimate the nature and extent of the ongoing geo-economic war, of which the Caesar Act is the latest salvo. Having lost the proxy war militarily, Washington is flexing its powerful financial muscle – powered by dollar supremacy in global markets – to spoil reconstruction efforts in Syria by its lesser rivals, Russia, China and Iran. 

More broadly, financial sanctions are now a fixture of US foreign policy, with the majority of affected states in the Middle East. These sanctions are part of a multi-front war that involves tertiary actors such as Turkey, Egypt and the Gulf states and are tied to reconstruction in Iraq and Syria, geo-military rivalries in Yemen and Libya, settler-colonial expansion in Palestine, and control over gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean. Lebanon is engulfed by these conflicts from all four cardinal directions.

Political suicide

Secondly, neutrality vis-a-vis Syria in particular is economic euthanasia and political suicide given the two countries’ shared borders, common history, interdependent economies, joint threat of Israeli aggression, oligarchic and authoritarian governing elites, and – as these sanctions have shown – converging financial crises. 

Neutrality would cut Lebanon off from its only land lifeline to Syria and the wider region at a time when air and sea travel are grounded thanks to Covid-19. It would also revive animosity between the two peoples while doing little to alleviate the crisis or topple ruling elites. 

Lebanon protests: We should not let the ruling class reproduce itself again Read More »

In addition, western powers continue to play the game of double standards, feigning concern while tightening the noose. While Washington slapped criminal sanctions on the entire population of Lebanon, its ambassador in Beirut singled out the usual suspect, Hezbollah, for destabilising the country. The accusation was parroted by her British counterpart, while a sniffer dog at London’s Heathrow Airport – as this author witnessed firsthand – frisked Lebanese expatriates carrying much-needed cash back home. Travellers caught “red-handed” were interrogated without cause. 

To top it off, Gulf states within the western orbit are also withholding aid while awash with trillions of dollars in sovereign funds.

Finally, US allies themselves, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are anticipating a decline in the global role of the US. More to the point, European states, as well as the US, have multibillion-dollar trade and financial ties with China and the rest of the east – but they have no qualms about denying Lebanon and the region their sovereign share of ties.

Going East

Despite these realities, resistance to seeking eastern alternatives persists. Dependency on western and Gulf capital runs deep within Lebanese society, beyond the banking and business sectors. 

The private education and NGO sectors, home to large segments of highly visible pro-uprising activists, are heavily reliant on western funding. These material ties are augmented by an internalised cultural affinity to all things western and prejudice against all things eastern. Some resistance is also driven by a blind rejection and immature ridicule of any proposals uttered by status-quo forces.

A man walks past a money exchange company in Beirut on 1 October (AFP)
A man walks past a money exchange company in Beirut on 1 October (AFP)

In theory, turning eastwards increases bargaining power vis-a-vis the West, diversifies sources of foreign investment, and could offer practical and quick solutions to pressing problems such as power generation, waste management and transportation infrastructure. But in reality, it is not the easy way out it is being portrayed to be.

Firstly, its current proponents reduce the turn eastwards to a tool against western intervention that would strengthen ties with the Syrian regime without holding the latter accountable for its role in the killing, displacement and destruction in Syria, or curbing the stranglehold of Syrian oligarchs associated with the regime on the country’s economic future. 

Nor is the turn eastwards preconditioned by cleaning house in Lebanon itself. The oligarchs who looted public wealth for so long will not bear the costs of financial loss, let alone face justice for their crimes. Without these corrective measures, Chinese or other foreign investments are likely to turn into dividing up the spoils of sanctions. It will reinforce existing structures of oppression, clientelism and inequality.

Secondly, Chinese capital is not manna from heaven or a communist free lunch. Reports of plans for nine development projects worth more than $12bn sound promising and may offer some respite, but these come with strings attached.

They include possible privatisation of state assets, government guarantees to compensate potential losses that will ultimately come out of citizens’ pockets, continued – even if partial – reliance on dollar-based banking systems, and access to energy resources, which in the case of Lebanon are confined to potential energy reserves in a hotly contested sea zone. 

Sovereignty deficit

Formal state-to-state protocols are preconditions for all of the above, the same way they are for requesting legal assistance to return stolen assets deposited in Switzerland or other offshore financial havens. 

Whether turning west, east or inwards, fixing Lebanon’s political regime is crucial to restoring external and internal sovereignty

Government decrees are also needed internally to to implement the basic demands of the uprising and resolve the crisis in a fair and expedited manner. These include legislating capital controls, forcing the oligarchs and their banking agents to bear the costs of collapse, implementing universal healthcare, redistributing wealth through progressive taxation, clearing up violations of coastal beaches to revive tourism in a competitive neighbourhood, reforming unjust labour and personal status laws, and subsidising productive economic activity. 

In other words, whether turning west, east or elsewhere, fixing Lebanon’s political regime is crucial to restoring external and internal sovereignty, without which major change is unlikely to happen.

Since its founding, Lebanon has had a sovereignty deficit in relation to foreign powers and its ruling oligarchy. It is now facing the twin challenge of restoring both amid unfavourable conditions. 

The path to sovereignty does not place all foreign actors in the same basket. Aware of its own economic limitations and position as part of the Global South, and in the face of US threats, Lebanon should adopt a strategy of positive neutrality that plays on the contradictions of the ongoing geo-economic war to maximise the gains of its people – not its usurping elites or neocolonial masters, old or prospective. 

Dignity and social justice

Fighting for sovereignty on both fronts, external and internal, in the face of global powers, requires the mustering of tremendous political strength. This is not possible without a well-organised mass movement that is still missing in Lebanon, let alone the absence of regional solidarity stretching from Iraq to Palestine, which incorporates geopolitics into revolutionary struggle. 

In Lebanon, the starting point is necessarily Syria. Whatever the sensitivities, prejudices and complications associated with Syrian-Lebanese relations, they need to be reconfigured in a manner that serves rather than sidelines the fundamental demands of both uprisings for political dignity and social justice. 

Lebanon protests: The people want the downfall of the banks Read More »

This includes, first and foremost, confronting the contradictions of fighting against the two major historical forces impacting them today: oppressive regimes on the one hand and Zionist colonisation and occupation on the other.

All proclamations to the contrary, this is not a straightforward matter given the alignments on the ground. 

Another would be redrawing the terms of struggle across class, rather than nationalist, lines. This means finding common cause with Syrian and Palestinian workers in Lebanon, beyond the liberal paradigm of refugee rights, as well as uniting efforts to dislodge the ruling elite in both countries without further foreign intervention.

A third would be a united vision of managing the global shift from West to East in coordination with fellow Global South nations.

Devising solutions to these and other thorny issues that are both morally defensible and politically viable is not an obvious or easily achievable task. But with street mobilisation on the wane and community solidarity in the face of hardship taking a front seat, they may be the necessary rites of passage for both struggles beyond the current stalemate.

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

أيها القاضي المحترم… ربحتَ نفسَك

د. عدنان منصور

أن يستقيل قاضٍ صاحب ضمير وطني حيّ، أو يُكرَه على الاستقالة بطريقة مباشرة أو غير مباشرة، ويبقى الفاسد والمفسِد في مكانه… أن تُقبل استقالة قاض شريف بفارغ صبر، وبسرعة دون التريّث والطلب إليه البقاء في منصبه، وتبقى ملفات الفاسدين مخبّأة، نائمة نوم أهل الكهف في الأدراج، مُصانة، مُحصّنة، لا يُفرج عنها، رغم كلّ ما تحمله من مصائب وكوارث مالية، ونقدية، ومعيشية، ألحقت الأذى باللبنانيين، وقضت على مستقبل شعب بأكمله…

أن يبتعد قاضٍ نزيه، أصدر حكماً باسم الشعب، يحرص في حيثياته القانونية على سيادة وطن وكرامة شعب، ويبقى على الساحة، طابور من العملاء، والمنتفعين، والمأجورين، الواقفين على أبواب المندوب السامي، إما خوفاً، أو جُبناً، أو رهبة، أو طمعاً بدور أو بمنصب، يطمحون إليه، ينعمه عليهم سيدهم… أن نتصرّف حيال الشرفاء تصرّف الذئاب، وأمام الطغاة تصرّف النعاج، ونخفي رؤوسنا في الرمال، فهذا يدلّ على مدى الانهيار الأخلاقي والسياسي، والمهني الذي وصلنا إليه، ومدى تحلّل السلوك، والأداء والمفاهيم الوطنية، الذي نشاهده بأمّ العين.

محمد مازح، أيها القاضي المحترم… لقد ربحت نفسك، وتخلّيت عن وظيفتك… ربحت وطنك وشعبك، ولفظت منصباً حتى لا يكبّل قناعاتك، وقناعات كلّ الوطنيين الأحرار. فالحكم الذي أصدرته سيظلّ في ذاكرة الوطن، يردّده اللبنانيون، والأوساط السياسية والقانونية، والقضائية، في كلّ مرة، يحاول فيها مسؤول أجنبي على أرضنا، مهما كان موقعه، وعلا شأنه، التطاول على سيادة بلدنا وكرامة شعبه.

*وزير الخارجية والمغتربين الأسبق.

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نحو قراءة نقديّة لمسار مواجهة الأزمة

ناصر قنديل

كثيراً ما يُطرح السؤال داخل قوى المقاومة تحت عنوان، أين أخطأنا في التعامل مع المسار التراكميّ نحو الانهيار في الأزمة الاقتصادية المالية، ويطغى في بحث التقييم الخضوع الضمني لخطاب دائم الانتقاد للمقاومة، خصوصاً لحزب الله لعدم إعلانه خوض المواجهة المفتوحة مع سياسات الدين والفوائد، واتهامه بتغطية الفساد او الصمت عنه، تحت شعار أولوية الاستقرار، كحاجة لحماية مسار المقاومة، ومنع الفتن، وهو ما يحاول خصوم المقاومة تلخيصه بمعادلة خبيثة عنوانها، مقايضة الصمت على السلاح بالصمت عن الفساد، وهذا العنوان موضوع حملة قديمة متجدّدة استمرت وتعاظمت لتصير تحت عنوان تحميل سلاح المقاومة مسؤولية الفساد، كما تجلت في الدعوة لتظاهرة 6-6، وربط الخروج من الأزمة المالية بتلبية الشروط الأميركية بنزع السلاح، وإن لم يكن نزع السلاح قد حظي بقبول شعبي يكفي لجعله حاضراً، فهذا لا ينفي أن كثيراً من الصالونات تتحدث عن تنازلات لا بد منها للحصول على الدعم الدولي اللازم، وعينها هي على ما يمكن طلبه من حزب الله. وعلى ضفة موازية تستمر حملة مطالبة حزب الله بالمزيد من الانخراط في حملة ثورية على الفساد تنتهي بتدحرج الرؤوس الكبيرة، ليوضع حزب الله بين مطرقة هؤلاء وسندان أولئك، بالرغم من الشرح الذي قدّمه الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله لخلفيات موقف حزب الله الهادئ في مواجهة الفساد والمبني على التمسك باعتماد طريق أحادي هو القضاء وتمكين القضاء، وتأكيد أن القلق من خطر الانزلاق نحو الفتنة لا يتصل بالحرص على سلاح المقاومة، بمقدار اتصاله بالحرص على البلد القائم على معادلات طائفيّة متفجرة، أكدت صدقيته أحداث اليومين الماضيين، وخطورة تخيّل القدرة السحرية على مواجهة الفساد بمجرد وجود النية والرغبة والإرادة، إذا تم تجاهل الآليات الصحيحة والتي تأخذ الخصوصية اللبنانية بعين الاعتبار.

ثمة نقطتان تحتاجان لفحص وتدقيق في مسار التعامل مع الأزمة الاقتصادية والمالية وتحركها بين ضفتي، الفساد الجنائي وحجمه قياساً بالنظام القائم على معادلات فاسدة مشرعنة وشعبية، من جهة، وثنائية العقوبات وسلاح المقاومة وموقعها الإقليميّ من جهة مقابلة، ففي النقطة الأولى ثمّة قناعة شعبية رائجة قائمة على وهم كاذب، لا يجرؤ السياسيون على قول الحقيقة المرة بصددها، والحقيقة هي أن الفساد الذي يمكن للملاحقة القضائية الجنائية أن تطاله لا يشكل إلا نسبة ضئيلة من حجم المال الضائع على لبنان، قياساً بالمال الذي تمّ إهداره من خلال سياسات التوظيف والتلزيم وتسيب الخدمات العامة وتمويلها بالديون المرتفعة الفوائد. ومثال الكهرباء يكفي لمعرفة أن الحقيقة لا تكمن في خطاب المزايدات الذي يتحدث عن عشرات مليارات الدولار كمال منهوب، فالعمولات والسمسرات الموجودة حكماً في صفقات الكهرباء لا تكاد تشكل نسبة بسيطة من هذا المبلغ، بينما جوهر الأزمة يكمن بثنائية التهرّب من التخلي عن تسعير منخفض للكهرباء وملاحقة الجباية المحدودة، مع تلكؤ في تأمين كهرباء مستدامة 24/24، وتمويل الانتظار من ديون بفوائد مرتفعة، لتأمين الفيول المتحرك بأسعاره على إيقاع سعر النفط، والسبب هو تعميم عائدات هذا الهدر على الشعب كله، كما في التوظيف الفوضوي والانتخابي، كما وهذا هو الأهم والأعظم والأكبر والأخطر، في سلسلة الرتب والرواتب بالتوازي مع تثبيت سعر صرف الدولار، وتمويل كليهما من دين مرتفع الفائدة، بحيث إن المفاجأة غير السارة التي تنتظر اللبنانيين عندما يشتغل القضاء بكامل طاقته، وبلا حصانات، هي أن الرقم الفعلي الموثق لا يشكل إلا نسبة ضئيلة مما ينتظره اللبنانيون لأرقام المال المنهوب، فالفساد الأصلي هو فساد نظام قائم على إعادة إنتاج الزعامات السياسية من بوابة خدمات وعائدات ومستوى عيش، بصورة لا تتناسب مع مقدرات الدولة، وعبر عملية لحس مبرد اسمها الإستدانة بفائدة مرتفعة لتثبيت سعر الصرف، أي تثبيت القدرة الشرائية للبنانيين، بل وزيادتها عبر سلسلة الرتب والرواتب التي تسببت وحدها بزيادة الاستيراد بأربعة مليارات دولار منذ عام 2017.

النقطة الثانية التي تحتاج إلى التدقيق أكثر، هي مدى صوابية تساهل المقاومة في تعامل الدولة ومصرف لبنان والمصارف مع العقوبات الأميركية بإيجابية، على قاعدة التضحية لأجل لبنان، ليبدو اليوم بوضوح أنها كانت تضحية من حساب السيادة اللبنانية تحوّلت إلى ثقافة، صارت تستجلب مطالبات كالتي خرجت تدعو لسحب السلاح تفادياَ للمزيد من العقوبات، وكطريق للحصول على مساهمات مالية تخرج لبنان من الأزمة، والمنطقي كان يومها أن تصر المقاومة وكل الأحزاب الصادقة في تمسكها بالمفهوم السيادي على رفض التسليم بنظام العقوبات، والإصرار على أن تمارس الدولة سيادتها، باشتراط السير بأي ملف يطال شخصاً أو مؤسسة، بالحصول على مندرجات قانونية تبرر تصنيفه كملف مخالف للقوانين، وفقاً لمعايير الجرائم المالية، وهل ننسى كيف أقفل بنك الجمال وتمت تصفيته بصمت لبناني عام، من دون أن يحصل مصرف لبنان حتى اليوم على ملف قانوني مفصل، يبرر قرار إعدام كالذي صدر بحقه من دون محاكمة، وهو مجرد مثال لعشرات ومئات الحالات التي تراكمت لصناعة الانكماش المالي، وصولاً لخسارة لبنان أغلب التحويلات الآتية من الاغتراب، والتي كانت عاملاً حاسماً في الأزمة التي تفجر تحت ضغطها ميزان المدفوعات وما يعرفه اللبنانيون من شح في الدولار، ولنتخيل أن الإصرار على رفض التسليم بالعقوبات قد أدّى إلى أزمة داخلية يومها، فهي ستكون في ظروف وشروط أفضل مما نواجهه في أزمة اليوم.

يكفي الخروج من صنميّة المشهد اللبناني، لنعرف أن الأمر أوسع وأبعد مدى من خصوصية، فالمشهد من إيران إلى سورية والعراق ولبنان وفنزويلا يقدم لنا أزمات متشابهة، لكن ممنوع على المشاهدين والمعنيين الواقعين تحت تأثيرها، أن يفكروا فيها بطريقة البحث عن المشترك، وهو نظام العقوبات والحصار الذي تقوده واشنطن بهدف الإخضاع، بل يجب الذهاب بدلاً من التفكير الموحد، التفكير بطريقة موحدة، أو متشابهة للأزمات المتشابهة، بترداد عنوان واحد هو الفساد والعجز الحكومي والسياسات المالية الخاطئة، وهي مشتركات بين كل دول العالم، لكن هنا يجب منحها الخصوصية لأنها يجب ان تكون هي التفسير، وإلا فكيف يحقق نظام العقوبات أهدافه، والفرق هو ببساطة بين طريقتين في التفكير، طريقة تقول، صحيح هناك فساد وفشل وسياسات خاطئة لكن القضية تكمن في نظام العقوبات والحصار، وطريقة أخرى تقول، صحيح هناك عقوبات وحصار لكن القضية هي في الفساد والفشل والسياسات الخاطئة، ومتى انحزنا إلى الطريقة الثانية يبدأ السقوط وصولاً للانهيار، لماذا؟

لأن التشخيص الخاطئ سينتج معالجة خاطئة، فالتركيز على مواجهة الفساد والعجز والفشل والسياسات الخاطئة، سينتج الانقسام الداخلي حكماً، والانقسام سيصير توترات و»الفقار بيولد النقار»، وفي البلاد التي تتشكّل من مكوّنات متعددة الأصول الإتنية أو العراقية أو الدينية يسهل أن تتحول التوترات إلى مشاريع حروب أهلية، وحيث الحكومة سيادية وطنية كحال إيران وسورية، تتحول دعوات مواجهة الفساد والفشل إلى إضعاف للحكومات وتأليب للرأي العام عليها، أي جعله من حيث لا يدري في خندق واحد مع أصحاب العقوبات، وثانياً لأن المعالجة للفساد إذا لم تكن بعمليات جراحية واتهامات استئصالية فلن تعطي مفعولاً سريعاً ولن تلقى الاحتفالية الشعبية بثوريتها، فيسهل نمو الميل لتكون كذلك، وإن كانت كذلك ستتحوّل إلى عمليات إستنسابية وفوضوية ومافيوية تنهي كل أرضية قانونية للاستقرار ومفهوم الدولة، وتفتح المجتمع على التشظي، ومنطق العصابات، وعقلية الميليشيا التي تصير ميليشيات وتخلف الدولة بدويلات، وثالثاً لأن استبدال السياسات الخاطئة بسياسات مجدية يرتكز على تشجيع الإنتاج والتصدير، فيصطدم مجدداً بالعقوبات، بعد أن قام السعي كله على نظرية الهروب من الاعتراف بأنها المشكلة الأصلية، والهروب إلى الأمام سيقتضي الالتفاف على العقوبات بمنطق مسايرتها وتحقيق أهدافها، من دون الاعتراف بأنها المشكلة، والطريق سهل، تلبية ما يريده صاحب العقوبات لفتح الطريق نحو الخروج من المأزق الانهياري بالقطارة، تنازل سيادي مقابل فتحة تسرب ضيقة للأوكسجين، حتى يتحقق الإخضاع الكامل، والانهيار الكامل، فماذا لو جربنا الوصفة الأولى؟

الانطلاق من توصيف العقوبات كأساس للمشكلة، سيعني مباشرة تأكيد التمسك بالمصادر السيادية للقوة التي تستهدفها العقوبات، وتحقيق أوسع إجماع ممكن حولها، والانتقال للاستثمار على مصادر القوة الاقتصادية التي توفر إنتاج الثروة من خارج منظومة العقوبات، وهذا معناه التركيز على أعلى درجات الاكتفاء الذاتي الممكنة، وإغلاق الأسواق أمام المستوردات التي يمكن إنتاجها، وحصر المتاجرة بما أمكن بالتبادلات العينية مع مَن يمكن، وهم بطبيعة الحال المعاقبون مثلنا، الشركاء في المحنة ذاتها، والمدافعون عن قيم الاستقلال والعزة ذاتها، بمعابر شرعية برية وبحرية، أو بابتكار معابر لا شرعية بحرية وبرية أيضاً، لا بإقفالها، بل بتقنين استعمالها لخير الشريكين، هذا في الاتجاه الرئيسي هو عملياً معالجة للسياسات الخاطئة دون ضجيج، لأنه سير بعكسها، وفتح للباب لتجفيف اقتصاد الفساد، لأنه ذهاب للاقتصاد المنتج حيث تضعف السمسرات والصفقات، وحيث أغلب المتاجرة ستكون من دولة لدولة، بمسك دفاتر التبادل بالعملات الوطنية، وبهدوء ومن دون ضجيج، سيقع الفاسدون من مكانتهم الممسكة بتلابيب الاقتصاد إلى الهامش، فيصير فتح دفاتر ماضيهم ممكناً، من دون صخب؛ أما القضاء الذي من دونه لا مساءلة ولا محاسبة ولا مكافحة جدية ومستديمة للفساد فلا يكون إنهاض استقلاله وتعزيز فعاليته إلا بصمت.

الوطنيون الحقيقيون، والثوار الحقيقيون، هم الذين يسألون، ما معنى أن المال لن يأتينا إلا إذا تخلينا عن ثوابتنا السيادية، سواء كانت موقفاً أم سلاحاً؟ ويجيبون، أليس هذا ما رفضناه يوم كان الثمن المعروض علينا أعلى، ولأجله دارت كل هذه الحروب وقدّمت كل هذه التضحيات؟ وما معنى أن ننتصر على الأزمة بأن ننهزم أمام من سببها؟ وهل فعلاً سننتصر، أم سننهزم بالتدريج، فهل من قيمة لسورية من دون دولتها المستقلة ليقيموا حساباً لجوع أهلها إذا سقطت الدولة وثوابتها واستقلالها؟ وهل من قيمة للعراق من دون حشده الشعبي كي لا يصادروا نفطه إذا انتهى الحشد وسلاحه وخياره المقاوم؟ وهل من قيمة للبنان من دون مقاومته وسلاحها، كي يبحثوا في كيفية إطعام شعبه، إذا ضمرت وضعفت؟

تصديق كذبة التفسيرات الساذجة وصفة سريعة للانهيار الكامل، والمغفلون هم الذين يسيرون بأعين مفتوحة وأقدام ثابتة إلى الوادي السحيق، تحت شعار الصعود إلى القمة، فهذا هو التقدم إلى الوراء، بكل ما تعنيه الكلمة، لنخرج مع نهاية النفق إلى المقصلة، حيث بصيص الضوء يأتي فقط مخادعاً من بين حدّي شفرتيها لا أكثر ولا أقل، وعندها لا مفر، ولا جدوى من الصراخ، الطريق إلزامي إلى المزيد من الاقتراب نحو المقصلة، ولا تراجع، فالتراجع ممنوع ومستحيل، وسنكون كما يقول المثل، «كالفواخرة بلا دنيا ولا آخرة»، فصانع الفخار الذي يتلاعب بمكان أذن الجرة ليتلاعب بسعرها، لن يجد مَن يشتري منه، لكنه لن يجد مَن يسير بجنازته أيضاً.

سيبدأ لبنان باكتشاف وصفته للخلاص، يوم يجرؤ على التفاوض مع إيران على شراء المشتقات النفطية على الطريقة الفنزويليّة، فيخفض فاتورته بالعملات الصعبة، ويوم يجرؤ على التفاوض مع سورية على سلة تبادل عينيّ زراعية وصناعيّة، وفتح طريق العراق لاستجرار النفط الخام وتأمين الأسواق لصادراته وتفعيل تجارة الترانزيت لحساب السوق العراقية برسوم مخفضة، ولتكامل اقتصادي مشرقي لبناني سوري عراقي. وطالما السعي هو لاسترضاء مَن يقف وراء صندوق النقد الدولي، فنحن ذاهبون لمناقشة حجم ونوع ومجال التنازلات السيادية التي يطلبها صاحب العقوبات، في ترسيم حدود النفط والغاز أم في سلاح المقاومة أم في العلاقة مع سورية، أم في جميعها. والحصيلة لن تكون بالمقابل سوى جرعة مهدئات وليست علاجاً للأزمة، لكنها استرهان بالإدمان على جرعات المخدر المنتظمة كلما حان أوانها.

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CONFUCIUS IS WINNING THE COVID-19 WAR

Compare hundreds of millions of Asians’ serene response to the coroavirus crisis with the West’s fear, panic and hysteria

This picture taken on March 17 shows a masked Chinese prophet Confucius statue, part of a collection by Taiwan sculptor Lin Hsin-lai, in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan. Photo: AFP / Sam Yeh

As the Raging Twenties unleash a radical reconfiguration of the planet, coronavirus (literally “crowned poison”) has for all practical purposes served a poisoned chalice of fear and panic to myriad, mostly Western, latitudes.  

Berlin-based, South Korean-born philosopher Byung-Chul Han has forcefully argued the victors are the “Asian states like Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Singapore that have an authoritarian mentality which comes from their cultural tradition [of] Confucianism.”

Han added: “People are less rebellious and more obedient than in Europe. They trust the state more. Daily life is much more organized. Above all, to confront the virus Asians are strongly committed to digital surveillance. The epidemics in Asia are fought not only by virologists and epidemiologists, but also by computer scientists and big data specialists.”

That’s a reductionist view and plenty of nuances should apply. Take South Korea, which is not “authoritarian.” It’s as democratic as top Western liberal powers. What we had in a nutshell was the civic-mindedness of the overwhelming majority of the population reacting to sound, competent government policies. 

Seoul went for fast mobilization of scientific expertise; immediate massive testing; extensive contact tracing; and social distancing, as well. But, crucially, most of it voluntary, not imposed by the central power. Because these moves were organically integrated, South Korea did not need to restrict movement drastically or to close down airports. 

Hong Kong’s success is due in large part to a superb health care system. People in the frontline, with institutional memory of recent epidemics such as SARS, were willing to go on strike if serious measures were not adopted. Success was also due in large part to myriad professional links between Hong Kong’s and Taiwan’s healthcare and public health systems.  

Barbarism with human face 

Then there’s Big Data. Han argues that in neither China nor other East Asian nations is there enough critical analysis in relation to digital vigilance and Big Data. But that also has to do with culture, because East Asia is about collectivism, and individualism is not on the forefront.   

Well, that’s way more nuanced. Across the region, digital progress is pragmatically evaluated in terms of effectiveness. Wuhan deployed Big Data via thousands of investigative teams, searching for possibly infected individuals, choosing who had to be under observation and who had to be quarantined. Borrowing from Foucault, we can call it digital biopolitics. 

Where Han is correct is when he says that the pandemic may redefine the concept of sovereignty: “The sovereign is the one who resorts to data. When Europe proclaims a state of alarm or closes borders, it’s still chained to old models of sovereignty.” 

The response across the EU, including especially the European Commission in Brussels, has been appalling. Glaring evidence of powerlessness and lack of any serious preparations have appeared even though the EU had a head start.

The first instinct was to close borders; hoard whatever puny equipment was available; and, then, social Darwinist-style, it was every nation for itself, with battered Italy left totally to itself.

 The severity of the crisis especially in Italy and Spain, with elders left to die to the “benefit” of the young, was due to a very specific EU political economy choice: the austerity diktat imposed across the eurozone. It’s as if, in a macabre way, Italy and Spain are paying literally in blood to remain part of a currency, the euro, which they should never have adopted in the first place. 

As for France, read here for a relatively decent summary of the disaster in the EU’s second-largest economy.   

Going forward, Slavoj Zizek gloomily predicts for the West “a new barbarism with a human face, ruthless survivalist measures enforced with regret and even sympathy, but legitimized by expert opinions.”

In contrast, Han predicts China will now be able to sell its digital police state as a model of success against the pandemic. “China will display the superiority of its system even more proudly.” 

Alexander Dugin ventures way beyond anyone else. He’s already conceptualizing the notion of a state in mutation (like the virus) turning into a “military-medical dictatorship,” just as we’re witnessing the collapse of the global liberal world in real time. 

Enter the triad 

I offer, as a working hypothesis, that the Asia triad of Confucius, Buddha and Lao Tzu has been absolutely essential in shaping the perception and serene response of hundreds of millions of people across various Asian nations to Covid-19. Compare this with the prevalent fear, panic and hysteria mostly fed by the corporate media across the West.    

The Tao (“the way”) as configured by Lao Tzu is about how to live in harmony with the world. Being confined necessarily leads to delving into yin instead of yang, slowing down and embarking on a great deal of reflection. 

Yes, it’s all about culture, but culture rooted in ancient philosophy, and practiced in everyday life. That’s how we can see wu wei – “action of non-action” – applied to how to deal with a quarantine. “Action of non-action” means action without intent. Rather than fighting against the vicissitudes of life, as in confronting a pandemic, we should allow things to take their natural course.

That’s much easier when we know this teaching of the Tao: “Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy.”

It also helps to know that “life is a series of natural and spontaneous choices. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Buddhism runs in parallel to the Tao: “All conditioned things are impermanent. When one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering.”

And to keep our vicissitudes in perspective, it helps to know: “Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of things than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the rise and fall of things.”

As far as keeping much-needed perspective, nothing beats, “the root of suffering is attachment.” 

And then, there’s the ultimate perspective: “Some do not understand that we must die. But those who do realize this settle their quarrels.” 

Confucius has been an overarching presence across the Covid-19 frontline, as an astonishing 700 million Chinese citizens were kept for  weeks under different forms of quarantine. 

We can easily imagine them clinging to a few pearls of wisdom, such as: “Death and life have their determined appointments; riches and honors depend upon heaven.” Or “he who learns, but does not think, is lost. He who thinks, but does not learn, is in great danger.”  

Most of all, in an hour of extreme turbulence, it brings comfort to know that, “the strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” 

And in terms of fighting a dangerous and invisible enemy on the ground, it helps to know this rule of thumb: “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” 

So what would be the ultimate insight a serene East can offer to the West in such hard times? It’s so simple, and it’s all in the Tao: “From caring comes courage.”

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world’s first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now. 

WORLD IS IN CRISIS TO WHICH RUSSIA HAD BEEN PREPARING

The states that invested in their independence and national economies despite the foreign pressure reap the benefit of their efforts. At the same time, the states that sold their independence and became puppets of the global elites faced expected consequences.

World Is In Crisis To Which Russia Had Been Preparing

South Front

In early, 2020 the world entered a new global crisis. The new round of economic turbulence coincided with the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which started in China and rapidly expanded across the globe. So, mainstream media outlets rushed to explain the crisis developments with the pandemic impact. However, in fact, the global economic crisis has been forecasted by experts for a long time and has reasonable grounds: from the disbalance of the global economy and contradictions among key oil producers to the growing tensions between influential players in the key regions around the world. Saudi Arabia’s ongoing offensive on the oil market is a logical result of these developments.

The coronavirus crisis worked as a trigger revealing the truth behind the lies and propaganda of the mainstream media and the global establishment. The reality broke into pieces the myth about the so-called ‘Euro-Atlantic solidarity’, demonstrated the almost zero-level effectiveness of the European Union bureaucracy and once again showcased that countries selling their sovereignty for some theoretical financial and diplomatic support of the Big Brother should not expect something good during crises.

The world sole superpower, the United States, appeared to be prepared for the economic turbulence, mostly thanks to actions of the Trump administration. At the same time, the U.S. faced significant problems with containing the COVID-19 pandemic and its readiness for such threats are much lower than those of China and even Russia. The United Kingdom revealed itself as another country surprisingly unprepared for the global meltdown. The situation in Italy, Spain and other southern and eastern European states needs no comments. They experience a lack of food and drugs supplies, while their governments failed to prepare and adopt the needed anti-epidemic measures before it became too late. Germany is probably among a few European states that has been prepared for the crisis at least on the level of Russia.

The irony of the situation is that Russia’s stability (in comparison with other states) has become a result of the actions of the so-called collective West. Just 10 years ago, it was importing grain, a large part of food products. It lacked some key technologies in the production of medical supplies. For Russian companies, it was just cheaper and easier to act this way than develop own capabilities in the field. However, the increasing sanction pressure forced the Russians to invest into own national industry and economy thus preparing the state to the upcoming crisis.

If one takes a look at the current situation in Russia in the medical sphere and with food supplies, he would find that the country is passing through crisis without any notable problems. Even the short panic amid the collapse of the European healthcare and the creation of the COVID-19 crisis zone in Italy and a Western-run fake news campaign in Russian social media did not lead to even a short and slight crisis in big cities.

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As of March 20, Russia’s National Wealth Fund (NWF) had assets worth US$151.35 billion, or about 9 percent of Russia’s gross domestic product. The NWF allows Russia to have a security zone of 5-6 years even with oil prices at the level of ~$20 a barrel. It’s hard to imagine that Saudi Arabia, which caused the oil prices crisis by own actions, could pass the same period without a large-scale crisis with such prices. Furthermore, the NWF is operated by the Russian government, not by private persons with own interests. Even taking into account some level of management issues and corruption, the NWF would give the Kremlin to protect key economic spheres and keep the social stability in the country.

The crisis also fueled the ongoing structural economic changes around the world. Economic activities are becoming more and more digitalized. People are forced to work remotely. The importance of the modern IT and media technologies are growing even further. Corporations and governments already started exploiting these trends. Some experts even suggest that in many cases the coronavirus crisis is being fueled artificially in order to push the world in a right direction. Others argue that this is a logical succession of events.

In any case, the ongoing crisis became an important turning point for the current international system revealing the truth behind the global myths, lies and whitewashing. The states that invested in their independence and national economies despite the foreign pressure reap the benefit of their efforts. At the same time, the states that sold their independence and became puppets of the global elites faced expected consequences.

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From Facing the Death Penalty to a Fugitive: US Assists Criminal Al-Fakhoury Out of Lebanon

From Facing the Death Penalty to a Fugitive: US Assists Criminal Al-Fakhoury Out of Lebanon

By Marwa Osman

Beirut – On Monday March 16, the Lebanese military court decided to drop the charges against the “Israeli” agent Amer al-Fakhoury, known as the “Butcher of Khiam”, who was accused of overseeing the torture of thousands of people at a notorious “Israeli” detention center located in south Lebanon decades ago.

The court’s decision came in the form of accepting formal defenses submitted by al-Fakhoury’s attorneys on the pretext that the statute of limitations had expired. The Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported that the military court, in the person of its president, Brigadier General Hussein Abdullah, and its attorney general, Judge Peter Germanos, implemented a political decision “as per the orders of the United States.”

Amer al-Fakhoury is the former commander of the Khiam Detention Center who belonged to the gangs of Antoine Lahd, which was loyal to “Israel” during the occupation of South Lebanon. He worked as the head of the Lahd gangs in the Khiam detention center, under the command of the “Israeli” Intelligence, until 1998. He moved about two years before the liberation of south Lebanon from the detention center to the security apparatus directly affiliated to the “Israeli” Military Intelligence [AMAN]. He continued in his “position” until the liberation of the south in 2000, spying on Lebanese southerners and arresting suspects, in addition to recruiting agents for “Israel” in the liberated areas.

More than a decade has passed since Fakhoury’s crimes of kidnapping, imprisoning and torturing Lebanese people were committed in 1998, yet the graves of the people he killed while torturing are still there. Their families and loved ones still mourn them. The wounds of the Lebanese citizens he personally tortured as per the orders of his “Israeli” masters are imprinted on their bodies and in the souls and they were not even given the chance to testify against this criminal.

What happened earlier this week in the Lebanese military court is nothing sort of a shame and a disgrace. The court referred the Public Prosecution to the request of the defense attorneys of al-Fakhoury, so Judge Germanos left the order of appreciation to the court. Germanos set the court free from any moral burden, and from his right to appeal any reduced decision. The court session on Monday was conducted in a very confidential manner, at a time when the country was in lockdown due to the Corona virus. It appears that the American decision-maker in the case of Fakhoury intentionally made sure that al-Fakhoury is freed before the closing of Rafic Hariri International Airport on Wednesday, so that the criminal can be aided out of the country immediately.

Later on Tuesday, a request made by the Attorney General for Cassation, Ghassan Aouidat, to distinguish the ruling of the military court, to stipulate the cessation of the track record of the criminal, Amer al-Fakhoury. However, according to Lebanese law, this request cannot stop the implementation of the court’s ruling. Which means that Amer al-Fakhoury can remain without arrest pending the issuance of the discriminatory ruling but is not allowed to travel.

Nonetheless, the empire smuggled the criminal on the morning of Thursday March 18, since all flights have been halted at the Rafic Hariri International Airport due to the coronavirus outbreak. Adding insult to the injury, the Lebanese public watched in awe on all social media sites an American plane landing Thursday morning at the American Embassy in Awkar, near Beirut, for a few minutes, before it took off again and returned to Cyprus, where it came from. The plane’s rapid landing and takeoff raised many questions about whether it removed the criminal, Amer al-Fakhoury.

The plane that landed at the American embassy is a V22, which means that its size allows it to be shifted to a hospital, in a way that allows Fakhoury to be pulled out from the embassy like a fugitive.

Whoever allowed the plane to land at the American embassy in Lebanon violated the court’s decision to ban al-Fakhoury’s travel, and whoever participated and colluded in the process of his release and smuggling out of Lebanon, will not be forgiven by the Lebanese public. The least that the government should be doing now is prosecuting them all.

It is worth noting that the American “Fox News” news network had said prior to the release of criminal Fakhoury that “Lebanon is under threat of sanctions because of its continued detention” of the former military commander of the Khiam detention center.

Robert O’Brien, the US national security adviser who was appointed to succeed John Bolton, was responsible for the files of Americans arrested, missing or kidnapped around the world. According to Lebanese daily al-Akhbar newspaper, he was the one who undertook negotiations with Syria via Lebanon, in order to secure the release of one of the Americans arrested in Syria while fighting with ISIS.

Ten days after the arrest of Amer al-Fakhoury in Lebanon, O’Brien contacted Lebanese mediators informing them that the file was in his possession, and that he had a green light from “high places” to make all efforts to achieve al-Fakhoury’s “removal” blatantly claiming that al-Fakhoury, the butcher of Khiam, was “an American citizen pursued on political charges that have no legal basis” against him.

Within days, relevant authorities in the United States of America were all mobilized. Foreign Minister Pompeo and his aides, from David Hale to David Schenker to the embassy employees in Beirut, worked continuously, and the instructions were that calling for the release of al-Fakhoury was a “permanent item” on the agenda of any meeting with any Lebanese officials.

Meanwhile, the American security services were moving in Beirut away from diplomatic channels. They decided to have side contacts with Lebanese personalities with strong ties to Hezbollah. The purpose was to seek to drop the party’s reservations after the Americans were informed by officials in Lebanon that the decision is not possible without Hezbollah’s approval.

The Americans worked day and night plannig on three levels to make sure their asset is removed from Lebanon.

They worked at the official level, and it was assumed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and it relies on direct contacts with President of the Republic Michel Aoun, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Gubran Bassil and presidential advisor Salim Jreissati.

The second level was a security-military one. It was assumed by the American embassy in Beirut and representatives of the American security services, and it included the leadership of the army, the Directorate of Intelligence and the Military Judiciary, and the government commissioner at the Military Court.

The third was a security-political level. It was undertaken by US intelligence in cooperation with American diplomats. Meetings took place in Beirut, Paris, and Washington with Lebanese figures believed to be talking to Hezbollah for the sake of releasing the criminal while Hezbollah refused to accept anything below justice being served.

This goes to show that when the prosecution claimed al-Fakhoury and the judiciary was forced to arrest him, the American side was prompted to search for other means, including possible fabricated reports on a complex health situation that al-Fakhoury suffers from, to ensure special protection for him. Then it became clear later that the aim was to prevent him from appearing before the civil court on cases brought by former detainees, who were tortured by al-Fakhoury at the Khiam detention center.

During the past week, meetings and phone calls between all parties hastened, and the head of the military court, Judge Hussein al-Abdullah, who is ironically from Khiam village, informed Hezbollah that there is a tendency amongst the military court judges to accept the defenses submitted by al-Fakhoury’s attorneys, and that four of the judges will agree to his release. However, the position of Hezbollah, which was reported to the head of the military Court Judge Hussein al-Abdullah, said that the party respects and supports the accusation made by Judge Najat Abu Shakra against al-Fakhoury when he entered Lebanon, and that the party does not see any logic in considering that the statute of limitations had expired.

Abdullah heard directly from Hezbollah officials: “If you are under pressure and cannot resist it, then postpone the session until the matter is handled, instead of making a decision that will have its toll on you in this life and the hereafter.” Communication between Hezbollah and the head of the court ended with the latter saying that he would not release al-Fakhoury.

But the head of the court released him and the Americans made a fugitive out of the criminal who was supposed to face the death penalty for being a disgrace for his country at the time of occupation and for killing and torturing his own fellow citizens while being at service for our archenemy “Israel”. The Lebanese public shall not forgive and forget. Khiam will not forget.

صندوق النقد الدوليّ ونصرالله

ناصر قنديل

الكلام عن وجود وصفة جاهزة لدى صندوق النقد الدولي للدول المتعسّرة ليس اختراعاً من حزب الله ولا من بعض اليساريين المتحمّسين. فصندوق النقد الدولي والخبراء العاملون معه يفاخرون بتوصلهم لهذه الوصفة، والذين يروّجون للصندوق كمخرج حتميّ من أزمات كانوا شركاء في صناعتها، لا يحلقون بعيداً عن السعي لفرض هذه الوصفة عندما يتحدثون عن الصندوق، أما تبعية الصندوق للسياسات الأميركيّة فأمر لا يستحق الجدال، لأن لا الصندوق يعتبرها تهمة تستحق النفي، ولا الأميركيين يرون الأمر مبالغة في تقدير كون الصندوق إحدى أدوات الإخضاع الأميركي للدول من بوابة الاستثمار على أزماتها ومفاقماتها لجلبها إلى بيت الطاعة من بوابة الصندوق.

النتيجة الطبيعيّة لأي نقاش لفكرة اللجوء إلى صندوق النقد الدولي، هي الرفض من جانب أي قوة وطنية، في أي بلد، والتركيز من القوى الوطنية على كشف المسؤوليات التي أخذت بلدهم نحو الانهيار المالي عبر الفساد والسياسات الاستتباعيّة والريعية البعيدة عن أي مضمون اقتصادي إنتاجي أولاً، واجتماعي ينظر للطبقات الفقيرة واحتياجاتها ثانياً، ثم الدعوة لخطة نهوض وطنية تبدأ بالامتناع عن سداد الديون، وتستثمر على مصادر القوة في الاقتصاد الوطني، خصوصاً أن الدعوات للجوء للصندوق تبدأ من بوابة الحديث عن كونه المنقذ من خطر الامتناع عن سداد الديون، واعتبار وصفاته المسمّاة تخفيفاً لدورها التخريبي، بالمؤلمة، ممراً حتمياً لتلافي السقوط، وكل قوة وطنية بعد الفوز بمعركتي تحميل مسؤولية الانهيار للسياسات الخاطئة والفساد، من جهة، ومن جهة مقابلة، حسم قرار الامتناع عن السداد، تتجه نحو وضع بلدها لخطة نهوض اقتصادية، وبعد هذا تضع خطتها وقد انتزعت فوزها في معركة الاستقلال الوطني المالي، من بوابة تكريس حقها بالامتناع عن السداد، والاستعداد للهيكلة الرضائية، وعندها ومن موقع القوة والاستقلال تنفتح بلا عقد على مناقشة خطتها مع كل الجهات المالية الدولية، بما فيها الصندوق، لتستفيد من كل فرص متاحة ضمن شروطها.

هذه هي المنهجية التي تعامل من خلالها حزب الله مع قضية صندوق النقد الدولي، ففي مرحلة ما قبل حسم المسؤوليات وقرار الامتناع عن السداد، رفض الدعوة للجوء للصندوق كمدخل للبدء بالسداد وقبول وصفة الصندوق الجاهزة، وبعدما سلّم الذين هولوا على لبنان بمخاطر الامتناع بأنهم فشلوا، ولم يعد اللجوء للصندوق تسوّلاً لوصفة لتفادي خطر موهوم من عدم السداد، ودخلت الحكومة مرحلة إعداد خطتها للنهوض الاقتصادي، خرج الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله، ليقول: لبنان المستقل بقراره والمحميّ بمقاومته، لا يخشى أن يعرض خطته على الصندوق وغير الصندوق ويرحّب بكل دعم لها، وبكل شروط تطال مكافحة الفساد وتدعو للإصلاحات الهيكلية لإدارات الدولة، ولا تطال ثوابتنا السياديّة ولا فقراء البلد، ولا ترتبط بضرائب تطال ذوي الدخل المحدود.

توصيف رئيس الحكومة الدكتور حسان دياب لعدم سداد اليوروبوند، بمعركة الاستقلال، وقيادته لمقاومة وطنية اقتصادية ومالية، استحقّ ثقة المقاومة لتحريره من كل خطوط حمر مفترضة، لأن لبنان القويّ والمستقل قادر على إدراك أين ومتى ينفتح، حتى على مؤسسات تديرها واشنطن، ويستكشف عبرها وعبر تفاعلها، حدود ودرجة الموقف الأميركي من خطر الانهيار المالي في لبنان، ودرجة الضغط من الباب المالي لفرض شروط تمسّ السيادة.

Syrian-Libyan relations in a panel discussion: Establishing a strategic partnership that serves interests of the two countries

ST

Created on Tuesday, 03 March 2020 20:59

Libyan Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Abdul- Hadi al-Hawaij and Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Dr. Faisal al-Miqdad  affirmed the compatibility of political views and positions between Libya and Syria regarding various issues, especially the Turkish aggression targeting the sovereignty, unity and independence of the two brotherly countries.

In a political panel discussion  held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates at Al-Assad National Library in Damascus on March 3, al-Hawaij said that the return of normal relations between the two brotherly countries is a historic and important step because our battle, challenges and goals are one, confirming we will win, regardless of the challenges.

Al-Hwaij paid tribute to Syria and its people, army and leadership, noting the great sacrifices made by the Syrian Arab Army in order to defend its homeland.

Al- Hawaij said that Libya is part of the Arab world and the Libyan legitimate government seeks to restore its role.

On the Libyan internal level, al-Hawaij reiterated that his country seeks to eliminate armed militias and achieve security and stability.

Al- Hawaij said that the Libyan government, chaired by Abdullah Al-Thani, believes that Libya is for all Libyans and it provides its services to all of them without discrimination.

Al- Hawaij referred to the battles the Libyan Arab Army led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in various Libyan regions to liberate from terrorism.

Al- Hawaij emphasized the legitimate government’s rejection of the existence of any American bases on Libyan soil, indicating that the battle that the Libyan Arab Army is fighting is for sovereignty and independence.

Al- Hawaij said that most of the goods  in Libya were imported from Turkey, but the legitimate government wants to change towards the Syrian products and companies.

For his part, al-Miqdad described the results of the talks between the Syrian and Libyan sides as ‘excellent’, indicating that these results would anger the Turkish regime, the common enemy of both brotherly countries, which seeks to separate them.

Al-Miqdad said that the war that the Syrian and Libyan armies are fighting against terrorism and its supporters expresses the unity of the path between the two brotherly countries.

Al-Miqdad said that Syria’s enemies in the United States and the European Union are trying to complicate life in Syria and prevent Syrians from achieving the final victory against terrorism.

Al-Miqdad emphasized that Libyan delegations will visit Damascus during the coming days, and Syrian delegations will also visit Libya  to discuss relations in various aspects and ways of enhancing them, especially the sectors of the economy, tourism, transportation and aviation.

Al-Miqdad stressed that the Libyan people are capable of resolving the crisis that their country is going through without any external interference.

In conclusion, al-Miqdad called on all the displaced Arab citizens not to submit to blackmail by the hostile western powers and Erdogan’s regime and to return to their homeland to live a free and dignified life in it, indicating that the Turkish regime exploits the refugee crisis.

Al-Miqdad, said the two countries agreed to activate eight joint Syrian-Libyan companies as well as 46 bilateral agreements between the two brotherly countries.

O. al-Mohammad / Inas  Abdulkareem

اخبار متعلقة

The Delusion of Palestinian Independence Through The Deal of Century

Source

US President Donald Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu take part in an announcement of Trump’s Middle East peace plan in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on January 28, 2020. – Trump declared that Israel was taking a “big step towards peace” as he unveiled a plan aimed at solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Today, Israel takes a big step towards peace,” Trump said, standing alongside Netanyahu as he revealed details of the plan already emphatically rejected by the Palestinians. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

Written by: Andi Annisa Nur Dzakiiyyah., S.Pd

By Andi Annisa -February 24, 2020017

President Trump on some days ago released his long-awaited Middle East peace plan which he has also referred to as the “deal of the century”. Trump planned to  give what Israel has long sought, including allowing for immediate expansion of territory, In his speech Trump said, “My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides, a realistic two state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood to Israel’s security,” , Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, warmly welcomed Trump’s plan.

Even though Trump planned to give a $50 billion US investment in Palestine and vowed that he would create more than 1 million jobs over the next 10 years, Palestinians rejected it. They called it as a ‘bribe’ which weakens their struggle for realizing an independent Palestine as a sovereign state.

This surely would be a profitable plan for Israel, but Palestine would not.  That was why Palestinians took to the streets as part of a “day of rage”. In line with that, the Islamic organizations from other countries did it as well. In Indonesia, Koalisi Indonesia Bela Baitul Maqdis (KIBBM) with 20 organizations focused on Palestinian issues held peaceful demonstrations in front of the American embassy on February 14, 2020.

Palestinians’ problems is our problems even their sorrows are ours. The Deal of Century surely will give Israel legitimacy to annex the territory of Palestine more broadly.

Indeed, the solution to solve Palestine’s sorrow is not by agreeing to divide territory in the form of a peace agreement. That is not solution because the territories of Palestine belong to Palestinians. If we trace the history, Palestine is a region which was liberated since the leadership of Khalifah Umar Bin Khattab and moslems have been staying in Palestine for centuries. How about Zionists? They don’t have region at all.  Even when Zionists wanted to buy the region of Palestine, Sultan Hamid II rejected it and he said “I will not sell a single inch of the country, because it is not mine, it belongs to all the Muslims. They paid for this empire with their blood. And we will redeem it with our blood. Let the Zionists keep their millions.”

The statement of Sultan Hamid II showed the firmness of a moslem. We should remember the tragedy in 1917, the British government approved the establishment of the Israeli state on Palestinian land through the Balfour declaration. this agreement became the forerunner of the founding of Israel. It showed that Israel was originally the region of Palestine. The Zionists actually did not have rights to the territories of Palestine. Unfortunately, they were successful to annex the territory of Palestine by doing devious strategy. What was happened in the past should be reminder that making deal the enemy will harm Palestine.

Therefore, what was annexed by the Zionists should be returned to moslems. This of course will not be realized when the presidents of moslem countries only criticize, ignore, and make cooperation agreements, dialogues, or even resolutions with the enemy. In addition, the solution is not by calling for an international conference in which all colonial countries and criminals will gather against the Palestine. Then, who will we rely on? United Nations? The UN Security Council, which becomes the agent of the peace mission, has not been successful to actualize peace for Palestine. In doing this, Palestinian citizen will successfully defend and reclaim their rights and territories when there is a single leader throughout the world named “caliph” who will attack the enemy.

Rasulullah SAW said, “Indeed the Imam (the Leader/Sultan) is a shield. You fight behind him, and you protect yourself with him.” (Muslim).

Based on the hadith above, as moslems, we need the existence of caliphate who will unify all moslem countries in one shade and mobilize the armies to do jihad and against the enemy. This is the only one solutions that can solve all of the problems of moslems not only in Palestine, but also in Uyghur, Myanmar, Syria, and others. The caliph of moslems is the only one leader who will not bow down in front of the enemy as what Sultan Hamid II and Caliph Umar Bin Khattab had done. Moreover, he will lead by implementing all the commands and prohibitions of Allah including the command of jihad against the enemy.

Allah SWT said, ” And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allah will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged.” (Al-Anfal: 60)

Wallahu A’lam Bish Shawab

Father Hanna urges all Churches globally to reject Deal of the Century

By Elfalasteen -February 21, 2020

OCCUPIED AL-QUDS, PALESTINOW.COM — Archbishop of Sebastia Diocese Of the Greek Orthodox Church in occupied Jerusalem, Attallah Hanna, welcomed a delegation of the World Council of Churches at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the adjacent cathedral, and urged them, along with all churches, to denounce the so-called “Deal of the Century” and the ongoing historical injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people in their occupied homeland.

Archbishop Hanna called on the World Council of Churches to take clear Christian standards, based on the holy bible, humanity, morality, and dignity, to stand firm against this so-called deal, and not to surrender to pressure from the Zionist lobby which is acting against basic the principles of justice and freedom.

“What is the benefit of having a World Council of Churches if it becomes a political organization serving certain interests against the other, and if it continues to be hesitant about taking obvious stances against occupation, oppression, and injustice targeting the Palestinian people,” Archbishop Hanna said, “We are calling for clear positions, for churches around the world to work on protecting human rights, and on helping our people live in their own sovereign independent state.”

“Do not listen to those who keep talking about balanced stances, because for us, there is no space here for such a position while we continue to see people getting killed, targeted, oppressed and made homeless, in addition to being treated as strangers in their own homeland,” he added.

“We call on the World Council of Churches to act, as we all expect, on defending dignity, justice, and humanity in Palestine, in Syria, in Iraq as well as even part of the world,” Archbishop Hanna concluded.

كشف حساب في يوم العماد وأربعين القاسم

ناصر قنديل

خلال أربعين عاماً هي أعوام ما بعد انتصار الثورة الإسلامية في إيران، وهي الأعوام التي أمضى الشهيد القائد عماد مغنية ما تيسّر له من العمر منها منذ البدايات الأولى حتى يوم الرحيل قبل اثنتي عشرة سنة، كان العنوان الذي أعلنه الإمام الخميني وتعاهد عليه مع رفاقه في قيادة الثورة، بناء نموذج ثوريّ جديد يستند إلى الإسلام لا يصيبه التكلّس والفساد من الداخل، ولا يساوم على الاستقلال والتنمية مع الخارج، ويبقي جذوة المواجهة مع المشروع الأميركيّ الإسرائيليّ مشتعلة، وفي ذكرى انتصار الثورة، الحادية والأربعين، ومع مرور أربعين يوماً على استشهاد القائد قاسم سليماني، تحلّ الذكرى الثانية عشرة لرحيل العماد، ويستحق كشف حساب.

خلافاً لما يظنه الكثيرون من دعاة استنساخ ثنائية الدولة والثورة، ولما يظنه المتحدثون عن نفوذ إيراني في المنطقة، أو عن هلال شيعي، أو عن تصدير الثورة، كان المشروع الذي آمن به عماد مغنية ووهبه عمره، هو بناء مقاومة عالمية للهيمنة الأميركية، ومقاومة عربية إسلامية للمشروع الصهيوني، والإيمان بأن هذين المشروعين يلبّيان حاجات إنسانية وأخلاقية ويعبّران عن النظرة التي انطلقت منها القيادة الإيرانية في فهم الإسلام وجعله مرجعاً لها، وثلاثية هذا المشروع، ربط شرعية ومشروعية الجمهورية الإسلامية، أي الدولة، بالقدرة على بناء قاعدة متينة اقتصادياً وعسكرياً وسياسياً لحماية المشروع وتوفير المقدّرات لتقدّمه ونموّه، وجعل المقاومة من اجل فلسطين مشروعاً عابراً للعقائد والقوميات والديانات، والسعي لجبهة عالمية تناهض الأحادية الأميركية في مشروعها للهيمنة الاقتصادية والعسكرية والسياسية على العالم.

كان العماد هو عماد مشروع بناء المقاومة العربية لأجل فلسطين، وكان الحاج قاسم سليماني القاسم المشترك بين خطوط تلاقي المقاومتين العربية والعالمية، وجاء الاجتياح الصهيوني للبنان، كما كل إجراء عدوانيّ مشابهاً تبعته في فلسطين، فرصٌ ينتظرها مشروع المقاومة، لينمو ويكبر ويقدم وصفته ويستقطب المزيد من النخب والشباب ويبني المزيد من الاقتدار، ويخوض المزيد من المواجهات. ونجح عماد نجاحاً منقطع النظير في لبنان وفلسطين، وأسس في سورية، وفي العراق وفي اليمن، وكانت تجارب المواجهة أعوام 1996 و2000 و2006، تظهر النجاح وتؤسس لما بعده. فكانت فلسطين حاضرة في انتفاضتها وتحرير غزة مع عماد مغنية، كما كانت سورية شريكاً في أعوام 1996 و2000 و2006 في لبنان، وكان تأسيس المقاومة في العراق وتحضير اليمن ساحة مقاومة من الإنجازات العظيمة، بينما أسس القائد قاسم سليماني في باكستان وأفغانستان، مستنداً إلى ما كان يبنيه ويرعاه في إيران، وامتدّ نحو تأسيس مشابه للعلاقة بسورية بعلاقة مع روسيا، والصين وفنزويلا وسواها.

منذ رحيل العماد تحمل القائد قاسم سليماني بعضاً من أعباء مهمته، وتحمّل قائد المقاومتين العربية والعالمية السيد حسن نصرالله البعض الآخر، ومع رحيل القائد سليماني صار العبء كله على قائد المقاومتين، لكن أين نحن الآن من المشروع الأصلي؟ والجواب بالانتقال من مرحلة المقاومات المتفرقة إلى جبهة المقاومة الواحدة، تحت شعار واحد يترجم هتاف الموت لأميركا والموت لـ”إسرائيل”، ببرنامج عمل عنوانه، لا بديل عن المقاومة في فلسطين ولأجل فلسطين، بعدما صارت مشاريع التسوية بعضاً من الذكريات، وليس خافياً أن ربط أمن كيان الاحتلال بقبضات المقاومين وليس بتواقيع المهزومين، هو الذي أدّى لليأس الأميركي الإسرائيلي من رهان التسوية للخروج بالتمسك بالجغرافيا طريقاً للأمن بدلاً من مقايضتها بالأمن، الذي لم يعُد يملك منحه للكيان أياً من دعاة التطبيع وجماعات التفاوض والاعتراف. وجاءت صفقة القرن تعبيراً عن هذا التحول، الذي حشد الأمة بمفهومها الواسع والمركّب وراء خيار المقاومة كخيار وحيد. وتلعثم النظام الرسمي وارتبك وفقد الخطاب، واللغة، والدور، وصارت المقاومة سيدة الساحات، وفي المقاومة العالمية صار شعار إخراج الأميركي من المنطقة برنامج عمل للدولة الإيرانية وللمقاومات الموحّدة في محور، وقد أنجزت إيران ما توجب على دولة الاستقلال والتنمية من مقدرات. ومثلما كان رحيل العماد نقطة الانطلاق لتأسيس محور المقاومة وفاء لدوره وقيادته وما أشعل رحيله من مشاعر، جاء تعبيراً عن حاجة موضوعية لتلبية مقتضيات المواجهة، وتوزّع خرائط استثمار المقدرات العسكرية في المواجهات المقبلة، ومثل ذلك شكل رحيل القائد قاسم سليماني نقطة الانطلاق لمشروع عملي بدأ تنفيذه عنوانه تحرير المنطقة من الاحتلال الأميركي، بما هو أبعد من مجرد الوفاء للدماء، إلى طلب جواب يليق بحجم الانتقام عبر جعله الفقرة الرئيسية من برنامج الأهداف التي كانت حياة مغنية وسليماني مرصودة لتحقيقها، وعنوانها طرد المحتل الأميركي من المنطقة، وإنهاء كيان الاحتلال في فلسطين.

خلال أربعين عاماً بلغت إيران ساحة الاشتباك الكبرى بعدما أكملت عدتها، ولم تعد إيران التي كانت قبل الأربعين، كما لم تعُد أميركا كما كانت وقد شاخت وهرمت وهزمت مراراً، ولا عادت “إسرائيل” كما كانت وقد تضعضت أركانها، واهتزّ كيانها، وفي يوم العماد وأربعين سليماني تبدو الأهداف أقرب مما يتخيّل الكثيرون، وبدلاً من أن يكون الاحتلال أشدّ شعوراً بأمنه برحيل القادة هو في حال ذعر من الآتي. والمقاومون والثوار يشعرون العدو بحضورهم في الغياب أشدّ مما يعيش حضورهم في الحياة، اسألوا قادة الكيان وقادة البنتاغون، هل هم أشدّ أمناً بعد اغتيال العماد والقاسم، أم أشد ذعراً وخوفاً ورعباً؟

فيديوات متعلقة

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Putin Marks 75th Anniversary of WWII With Speech Warning About Looming Global Conflict!

February 07, 2020

Full Transcript : http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/62732

Presentation of foreign ambassadors’ letters of credence

February 5, 202013:45The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin received letters of credence from 23 newly-appointed foreign ambassadors. The ceremony was held in the Grand Kremlin Palace’s Alexander Hall.

Letters of credence were presented to the President of Russia by Graeme Leslie Meehan (Australia), Lotfi Bouchaara (Kingdom of Morocco), Zhang Hanhui (People’s Republic of China), Malena Mard (Kingdom of Sweden), Geza Andreas von Geyr (Germany), Brian McElduff (Ireland), Miroslav Lazanski (Republic of Serbia), Sadasivan Premjith (Republic of Singapore), Eat Seyla (Kingdom of Cambodia), Ekaterini Nassika (Hellenic Republic),Abdulrahman Hamid Mohammed Al-Hussaini (Republic of Iraq), Mohamed Sherif Kourta (People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria), Dulamsuren Davaa (Mongolia), Tarak ben Salem (Republic of Tunisia), Kazem Jalali (Islamic Republic of Iran), Kamrul Ahsan (People’s Republic of Bangladesh), Deborah Jane Bronnert (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Si’alei van Toor (New Zealand), Alison LeClaire (Canada), Pierre Levy (French Republic), John J. Sullivan (United States), Efrain Villarreal Arenales (Republic of Panama) and Yermek Kosherbayev (Republic of Kazakhstan).

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you in the Kremlin at this ceremony to present your credentials and to congratulate you on officially commencing your diplomatic activities here in Russia.

You have an important and serious mission: to promote the development of comprehensive relations between the countries you represent and Russia. We proceed from the fact that you will be responsible for expanding our political dialogue and trade and economic ties as well as deepening cultural exchanges and promoting people-to-people contacts. And we are sincerely interested in making your embassies’ work in these key spheres successful. You can always count on the help of the Russian official agencies as well as businesses and civil circles. All your useful endeavours will definitely be supported.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII. In May we invite foreign leaders and delegations to attend celebrations marking the great Victory in Moscow to commemorate the memory of millions of victims, pay tribute to the veterans and show our committal to the ideals of peace, freedom and justice. The victor countries, members of the anti-Hitler coalition, made these ideals the foundation of the post-war world order embodied in the United Nations Charter 75 years ago.

Unfortunately, nowadays humankind is coming ever closer to a dangerous line. Regional conflicts are multiplying, the threats of terrorism and extremism are growing and the arms control system is being uprooted. The global economy is also unstable.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today’s ceremony is attended by the heads of diplomatic missions of 23 countries of Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Australia. By tradition, I would like to say a few words about our bilateral relations.

Russia favours pragmatic and business-like cooperation with Australia. We are giving support to the business circles of both countries in their effort to implement mutually beneficial joint projects and are facilitating the expansion of humanitarian contacts.

We are satisfied with the present state of collaboration with Morocco. Our states have achieved decent results in mutual trade, agriculture, and deep-sea fisheries. There are opportunities for advanced Russian technologies and R&D results to reach the Moroccan market.

Our relations with the People’s Republic of China are at an unprecedentedly high level. In fact, this is a comprehensive strategic partnership. Bilateral trade is consistently being built up. The Power of Siberia gas pipeline has been put into operation. Ties in the field of defence and military-technical cooperation are developing successfully. In April, we are planning to launch the Russian-Chinese cross Year of Scientific, Technological and Innovation Cooperation. Our two countries coordinate their positions on key global and regional problems and work in unison at international organisations and associations, including the UN, BRICS, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. China and all of us have come face to face with the threat of the coronavirus. Leaders of the PRC have been taking resolute and energetic measures to halt the epidemic. We are ready to render help and every kind of assistance to the friendly Chinese people.

We are keen to promote cooperation with Sweden in the spirit of good-neighbourliness and mutual respect. Held in St Petersburg last year, our talks with Prime Minister Stefan Löfven have confirmed that our two countries have the capacity for invigorating our economic, cultural and humanitarian contacts and for joint work on matters related to the Baltic Sea and other regional affairs.

Russia attaches much importance to promoting constructive collaboration with the Federal Republic of Germany. We regularly discuss with Ms Chancellor Angela Merkel current international and bilateral issues. We have supported the idea to hold a conference on a Libyan settlement in Berlin and participated in it in the most pro-active manner. Russia and the FRG are intensifying their mutually beneficial cooperation in trade, investment, and energy, and we intend to continue this joint positive work.

Russia and Ireland are striving for closer trade and economic cooperation, including in high technology, innovation and agriculture. There are opportunities for bilateral cooperation in education, culture and similar areas.

Russia and Serbia are linked by a strategic partnership that relies on traditions of friendship and the cultural, spiritual and historical affinity of our fraternal peoples. Last December, meaningful talks were held with President Aleksandar Vucic in Sochi. Important agreements were reached on bilateral cooperation in an entire range of areas: the economy, trade, the power industry, culture and coordination on regional matters. Russia is doing much to help maintain the situation in the Balkans stable and safe. We want Belgrade and Pristina to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the Kosovo problem on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

Singapore is Russia’s highly promising partner in the Asia-Pacific Region. We appreciate our political dialogue that is actively promoting practical cooperation. The implementation of the free trade agreement signed by the Eurasian Economic Union and Singapore at the end of last year is designed to give an impetus to mutual trade and investment growth. We hope to conclude a Russia-Singapore bilateral agreement on services and investment.

We are friends and partners with the Kingdom of Cambodia. We are interested in further developing our relations in diverse areas, including politics and security, trade and investment, as well as educational and other people-to-people exchanges.

I am convinced that the further development of relations between Russia and the Hellenic Republic meets the interests of our states and certainly aligns with the centuries-old traditions of friendship and mutual affinity between our nations. In addition to our cooperation in politics, the economy and the power industry, there are good opportunities for expanding our contacts in tourism and culture. In this context, I would like to mention the current Cross Year of Language and Literature.

Russia and Iraq have accumulated a wealth of experience of mutually beneficial cooperation in many spheres, including the fuel and energy sector. Russia firmly stands for the preservation of Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and has helped to ensure Iraqi security. We believe that efforts towards internal political stability in Iraq should be taken within the framework of a broad national dialogue based on respect for the interests of all citizens, regardless of their ideological beliefs and ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Russia has strong and friendly ties with Algeria. The presidential election held there late last year was a big step towards political and social reform in your country. We support Algeria’s balanced policy in international and regional affairs. We see good possibilities for building up our economic and military technical cooperation and for coordinating our efforts in the interests of stronger stability and security in North Africa and the Sahel-Saharan zone. I recently had a short conversation with your President in Berlin. I hope to see him in Russia soon.

Mongolia is a good neighbour and a tried and tested friend. Last year Russia and Mongolia celebrated the 80th anniversary of victory in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol and signed a termless Treaty on Friendly Relations and Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. We consider it reasonable to complement our close political interaction with practical projects in trade, investment and humanitarian spheres. We are satisfied with the development of the trilateral Russia-Mongolia-China dialogue. We would like to see Mongolia more actively involved in operations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as well.

We are resolved to further strengthen bilateral cooperation with Tunis, which is among Russia’s traditional partners in the Middle East and North Africa. We are ready to work together on current regional matters, including a settlement in Libya.

Russia enjoys friendly and mutually respectful relations with Iran. Major bilateral projects in the energy sector, including nuclear energy, in railway transport and other sectors of the economy are steadily expanding. An interim agreement to create a free trade area between Iran and the EAEU came into force in 2019 and gave an additional boost to Russian-Iranian trade and investment relations. We plan to promote cooperation with Iran in fighting international terrorism, coordinate our actions as part of the Astana process and facilitate a settlement in Syria. Russia will continue to make efforts to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for the Iranian nuclear programme. We believe this international agreement is critically important for global and regional stability.

Russian-Bangladeshi ties are quite dynamic. Trade is up, and a major project to build Bangladesh’s first nuclear power station, Rooppur, is in progress. Given the proximity of our respective states’ approaches to most pressing regional problems, we look forward to continuing close cooperation at the UN and other multilateral organisations.

The current state of relations between Russia and Great Britain can hardly be considered satisfactory by either side. We are convinced that restoring a mutually respectful political dialogue, strengthening trade and economic exchanges, and building up cultural and people-to-people contacts is in our common interest. We are ready for this.

We stand for promoting Russia-New Zealand ties in trade, investment and culture. We find it useful to interact on international issues, including counterterrorism, climate change and research in the Antarctic.

We are open to cooperation with Canada based on mutual respect for and consideration of each other’s interests. Canada and Russia are neighbours in the Arctic and share common responsibility for ensuring the sustainable development of this vast region, preserving the traditional way of life of the indigenous peoples and taking good care of its fragile ecosystem.

France is one of Russia’s key international partners. We maintain contacts with President Macron, hold regular meetings, discuss issues such as a settlement in Libya, Syria and the Middle East in general, and interact on the Ukraine crisis within the Normandy format. At a bilateral summit held in Fort de Bregancon last August, we agreed to work jointly on ensuring stability and security in Europe. Economic ties between Russia and France, including in industry and energy, continue to expand. On January 16, the Russian Seasons festival opened in France. It is designed to promote friendship and mutual understanding between the peoples of our countries.

Global peace and security largely depend on the state of relations between Russia and the United States, as well as on their stability and predictability. We are convinced that these relations should hinge on the principles of equality, respect for sovereignty and non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs. We are ready for detailed dialogue with the American side, including on arms control and strategic stability, the fight against terrorism and the peaceful resolution of regional crises. For us, it is absolutely obvious that resuming constructive bilateral collaboration meets the interests of Russia, the United States and the entire world.

We advocate the further development of ties with the Republic of Panama, efforts to streamline the legal framework, cooperation and expanded contacts on the economic agenda. We will continue to encourage educational exchanges and help train specialists for Panama.

Relations between Russia and Kazakhstan are an example of reliable strategic partnership and allied cooperation. Bilateral collaboration is based on solid historical, cultural and spiritual bonds between our nations. We appreciate the current level of trust and collaboration with the leaders of Kazakhstan. Last year, we held nine meetings with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. And, of course, we maintain close contacts with our good friend Nursultan Nazarbayev. Sustainable integration within the Eurasian Economic Union continues to develop largely through joint efforts of Russia and Kazakhstan. Trade and economic relations between our countries are expanding in all areas, including in industry, energy and investment. Russia and Kazakhstan closely coordinate their approaches to matters on the international agenda. It is common knowledge that our Kazakhstani partners provided a venue for launching the Astana negotiating process to achieve a Syrian peace settlement.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Intensive but highly interesting work awaits all of you. I hope that you will be able to get to know Russia better, feel its pulse and watch our country accomplish important and ambitious tasks of political, economic and social development. I also hope that you will provide real assistance in expanding bilateral ties between Russia and the states you represent and will facilitate stronger friendship and mutual understanding between our nations. I wish you every success and all the best.

Thank you.

Iranian FM, Palestinian President Reiterate Stance on ‘Deal of Century’

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas voiced strong opposition to the so-called “deal of the century”, a US-initiated plan for Palestine.

  • February, 05, 2020 – 09:56

In a telephone conversation with Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, Zarif reiterated the Islamic Republic’s opposition to the plan, stressing that Iran will keep supporting the Palestinian nation’s rights and formation of a sovereign Palestinian government with East al-Quds as its capital.

The top Iranian diplomat also hailed Abbas’ efforts to create national unity in Palestine, reaffirming that Tehran will continue to support the process of reconciliation among Palestinians.

For his part, the Palestinian president briefed Zarif on the stances adopted by Palestinian groups against the American plot and on the political movements to counter the plan proposed by US President Donald Trump.

Highlighting the efforts to ensure national unity in Palestine, Abbas said he will dispatch a delegation to Gaza to contribute to unity between Palestinian groups.

Last week, Trump unveiled his long-delayed Middle East plan, a proposal Palestinian leaders called a “conspiracy” that “will not pass”.

Following Trump’s announcement, Abbas said “a thousand no’s to the plan.

The American plan has sparked widespread international condemnation.

The deal of century ploy, fronted by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, had already been rejected by the Palestinians, who say the White House’s policies have been blatantly biased in favor of Israel.

Reaffirming the Revolution: The Islamic Republic of Iran at 41

By Yuram Abdullah Weiler

Source

Qasem Soleimani in 2017 rally b3707

In number theory, 41 is a prime number meaning it is not divisible by any number except itself and one.  Similarly, the Islamic Revolution in Iran so far has been unique in its success and indivisible unity of purpose, despite numerous attempts at sabotage by external and internal actors.  At this prime age of 41, Iran is fully capable of charting an assertive leadership path to recapture the spirit and reaffirm the original goals of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, among which is the propagation of Islam to bring about social change for the welfare of all humanity.[2]

It is no minor accomplishment for the Islamic Republic of Iran to have maintained an independent geopolitical course for a period of forty one years in spite of the overwhelming diplomatic, economic and military pressure employed by the United States to force Tehran to cave in to the diktats of the Washington regime. Even before the erstwhile shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, had fled the country on January 17, 1979, U.S. air force general Robert E. “Dutch” Huyser had arrived on January 3rd on a mission to test the waters for a rerun of the August 1953 coup, which had originally placed the U.S.-backed dictator in power in the first place.[3]

With the victory of the Islamic Revolution on February 11, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini (r) went on to found an Islamic Republic, whose constitution (Article 154) explicitly states that Iran “is concerned with the welfare of humanity as a whole and takes independence, liberty and sovereignty of justice and righteousness as the right of people in the world over.”  Imam Khomeini was very clear in his view that “Islam is revealed for mankind,” and, therefore, the revolution must be exported.[4] This concept, which raised fears of popular uprisings toppling the U.S.-abetted tyrants in the region and beyond, put the nascent Islamic Republic on a collision course with the Washington regime.  Among the despotic leaders shaken by Iran’s Islamic Revolution was the U.S.-supported Iraqi dictator, Saddam, who denounced Imam Khomeini and called upon Iranian Arabs to revolt.[5]

If external threats to the newly-established Islamic Republic weren’t enough, others arose internally. Massoumeh Ebtekar, who witnessed the revolution firsthand and is currently Vice President of Iran for Women and Family Affairs, recalled that “we were sure that foreign elements were actively involved in attempts to weaken and undermine the young republic.” To avert the suspected foreign plot to overthrow the Iranian government, a group of students, including now Vice President Ebtekar, decided to act, and on November 4, 1979 occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran and detained the staff.[6]  U.S. president Jimmy Carter responded ten days later by freezing US $12 billion’s worth of Iran’s assets in the U.S., and later banned all trade with and travel to Iran.[7] Also affected were Iranian assets in U.S. banks in Britain, much of which were in Bank of America’s London branch.[8]  The following year on April 7, the U.S. cut diplomatic relations with Iran, and has never reinstated them.[9]  If Carter had not allowed the deposed shah entry to the U.S., the embassy takeover most likely would not have occurred.[10]

Another internal threat, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), was openly unhappy over the constitution, which, according to them, did not address their demands.  After a humiliating defeat in the March and May 1980 parliamentary elections (no MeK candidates were elected),[11] the MeK became increasingly belligerent over their lack of position in the new government, directing their frustration ever more violently towards members of the Islamic Republic Party (IRP), which had won a decisive victory in the elections.  Despite the electoral defeat, the MeK openly backed Iran’s first president, Abolhassan Bani Sadr, however, following his removal from office for incompetency in June 1981, the MeK declared an armed struggle against the standing government. On June 28, 1981 and again on August 30, the MeK carried out terror bombing attacks against the IRP and government leaders.  In 1986, the MeK moved its operations to Iraq and aligned itself with Saddam, who backed the terrorist group until being ousted by the U.S. invasion in 2003. To date, the Washington regime views the MeK as a viable means by which to overthrow the legitimate government of Iran.[12]

Following the student takeover of the U.S. embassy, which was later shown to be a nerve center for CIA espionage in the region,[13] U.S. president Carter ordered a desperate mission on April 24, 1980 to invade Iran and free the hostages despite negotiations for their release still being in progress.[14] The so-called hostage crisis and the U.S. president’s failed interventionist response provided a perpetual pretext for Washington’s vehemently vindictive view against reestablishing any level of diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.  The 444-day crisis, according to sworn testimony by Israeli intelligence agent Ari Ben-Menashe, was a joint effort by the CIA and Mossad to delay the release of the 52 hostages and thereby ensure an electoral victory for Ronald Reagan in the 1980 U.S. presidential race.[15]

In the midst of the post-revolutionary struggle to establish a fully functioning Islamic government, Iraqi dictator Saddam, with U.S. blessing, attacked the fledgling Islamic Republic on September 22, 1980, imposing a costly 8-year-long war that consumed some 60 to 70 percent of Iran’s national budget, not to mention the suffering of the Iranian people and their sacrifices in defense of Iran and Islam.[16]  The economic impact of the war on Iran itself was enormous with estimated direct costs in the range of US $600 billion and total cost of US $1 trillion.[17]  In the course of this U.S.-supported war, chemical agents were used extensively for the first time since the First World War, resulting in the deaths of some 4,700 Iranians in a single attack.  The U.S. also provided Saddam with biological agents such as anthrax and E. coli.[18]

Howard Teicher, director of political-military affairs for the U.S. National Security Council from 1982 to 1987, in an affidavit stated, “CIA Director [William] Casey personally spearheaded the effort to ensure that Iraq had sufficient military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to avoid losing the Iran-Iraq war.” Teicher also testified that U.S. president Reagan had sent a secret message to Saddam advising him that “Iraq should step up its air war and bombing of Iran.”  Teicher’s sworn testimony provides strong evidence that the U.S. intent was for Saddam to bomb Iranian cities, thereby unavoidably targeting civilians.[19]

Saddam followed Reagan’s advice to the letter by launching eleven SCUD B missiles at Tehran on February 29, 1988.  Over the next two weeks, more than 100 of Saddam’s missiles rained down upon the cities of Tehran, Qom and Isfahan along with bombing raids conducted against a total of 37 Iranian cities. Earlier in October 1987 and again in April 1988, the U.S. as part of its overt but undeclared war against the Islamic Republic, attacked Iranian ships and oil platforms under expanded rules of engagement.[20]  As a result of Washington’s designation of the Persian Gulf as essentially a free-fire zone for Iranian targets, the commander of the USS Vincennes, William C. Rogers, fired two missiles (after twenty-three failed attempts)[21] at what he claimed was a military target but in fact was Iran Air Flight 655 carrying 290 civilian passengers from Bandar Abbas to Dubai.  For downing the civilian airliner and killing all on board, Rogers was awarded the Legion of Merit “for exceptionally meritorious service” for this appalling atrocity.[22]

Yet in spite of the near universal support given by the U.S. and its western minions to Saddam, the people of Iran rose up to defend their newly liberated land in what were termed “human wave attacks” in the western press. Giving their lives selflessly in the cause of defending Islam and Iran, these martyrs, whose numbers reached to half a million,[23] struck fear in the black heart of Saddam and presented a conundrum to the materialistic west.  Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar explains that martyrdom, while clearly understood in the Islamic world, “is incomprehensible and even pointless in materialist and atheistic cultures.”[24]

The incomprehensibility to most westerners of the spiritual basis of Iran’s Islamic Revolution leads to some interesting “anti-explanations.”  Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina Charles Kurzman wrote, “After the Iranian Revolution, those who had considered the upheaval unthinkable became preoccupied with understanding how they could have been so mistaken.” After pointing out the shortcomings of the various political, economic, cultural and other explanations, Kurzman notes, “The more I learned about the Iranian Revolution, the more theoretical anomalies I discovered.” Yet this author acknowledges that 55 percent of educated, middle-class Iranians and 71 percent of others he interviewed spoke of Islam as being involved in their decision to participate in the revolution.[25]

Apparently, for secular-leaning western scholars, Islam cannot be accepted as the basis for an explanation of a successful revolution. For example, even Iranian expatriate scholar Ervand Abrahamian blames the Islamic Revolution on “overwhelming pressures” in Iranian society due to the shah, who “was sitting on such a volcano, having alienated almost every sector of society.”[26]  Downplaying the role of Islam in Iran’s revolution, Iranian expatriate scholar Asef Bayat insists that there was a “strong secular tendency,” which peaked in the 1970s.  Bayat incredulously claims, “In Iran, an Islamic movement was in the making when it was interrupted by the Islamic revolution.”[27]  Other scholars date the origin of the Islamic movement in Iran to the tobacco crisis of 1890-1891, while Farhang Rejaee, a professor at the Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam in Ottawa, Canada, points to the assassination of Nasr al-Din Shah in 1896.[28]

The current Islamic movement in Iran had begun on the 15th of Khordad, 1342 (June 5, 1963), predating the Islamic Revolution by some 15 years.  In a June 1979 speech marking the anniversary of the 15th of Khordad uprising, Imam Khomeini specifically referred to the Islamic movement and its creation in the mosque network.  “Who are they that wish to divert our Islamic movement from Islam?” asked the Imam. “It was the mosques that created this revolution,” he emphasized, adding. “It was the mosques that brought this [Islamic] movement into being.”[29]  Likewise refuting the theories of the western and westernized scholars, Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar explains, “The secret of success of the Islamic Revolution of Iran also is naught but this: valuing the high ideals of Islam and of the Islamic humanities.”  As to the failure of other revolutions, he blames “want of a sufficient depth in its spiritual dimension.”  Finally, he affirms, “The revolutionary experience of Iran should indeed become a model for others to emulate.”[30]

By basing economics and social change on the solid foundation of Islam, Iran has achieved greater progress in many areas, such as reducing poverty, improving health care, eliminating illiteracy, increasing access to education and expanding opportunities for women, than had been the case during the shah’s regime.   As a result, despite the unending U.S. hostility against Iran through ruthless imposed wars, covert and overt aggressions, punitive economic sanctions and continuous diplomatic isolation, the Islamic Republic has managed to amass an impressive list of accomplishments.  U.S. economic sanctions have had the effect of causing Iran to seek self-sufficiency in a number of areas, including weaponry and other military hardware, food production, steel, paper and paper products, cement, heavy industrial machinery, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications equipment. In particular, the domestic production of armaments has helped to ensure the country’s independence and security, as has the highly developed military strategy of the “fast boat swarm” for naval defense in the Persian Gulf.[31]

Moreover, in the field of health care, Iran has made laudable strides, increasing life expectancy from 56 years in the 1970s to over 70, and reducing the infant mortality rate from 104 per 1,000 births to 25.[32]  The Islamic Republic has created, and continuously expanded, a system of hospitals and health clinics, concentrating on areas impacted by economic hardship.  The results have been sufficiently impressive for some universities and NGOs in the U.S. state of Mississippi to introduce Iranian-style health care into the impoverished areas of the Mississippi Delta region.[33] Rural areas also benefitted from the revolution in other ways besides access to health care.  By 2002, rural literacy had risen to 70 percent, each village had an average of two college graduates, and 99 percent of rural households had electricity. In 1976 only ten percent of the rural work force was employed in the industrial, construction and service sectors, whereas 51 percent was employed therein by 1996.[34] Land was redistributed among peasants, who formed numerous cooperatives, which assisted in raising prices for agricultural products.  Even the poorest of Iranians were able to have at least some level of access to modern consumer goods.[35]

“The biggest advances in the educational, professional and social standing of women in Iran’s history have come since the revolution,” wrote scholars Hillary Mann and Flynt Leverett.[36] After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, female literacy rates skyrocketed from 36 percent in 1976 to 74 percent in 1996, with urban women toping 82 percent.[37] Women were provided with the same educational opportunities as men, and were employed in both the public and private sectors.  Not only were women allowed to drive (unlike other “Islamic” countries), but also participated in political, commercial and civil activities, as well as in the security sector.  Health care in the Islamic Republic included women’s clinics, where progressive family planning and other services were available.[38]

“This united gathering which took place in Iran, and this great change which happened, must be taken as an example to be followed and never forgotten,” said Imam Khomeini (r) on 7th of Esfand 1359 (26 February 1981). [39] Despite that to date, no other Muslim-majority nation has yet to emulate successfully the revolutionary path taken by the valiant people of Iran, the paradigm remains as does the potential for Iran’s leadership to bring about a united Islamic Ummah.

German Politician: “Ami Go Home!”… The US is waging bloody economic wars against the entire world

By InfoBrics

Global Research, December 26, 2019

InfoBrics

Oskar Lafontaine

Oskar Lafontaine is a German politician, candidate for Chancellor in the German federal election of 1990, Chairman of the Social Democratic Party from 1995 to 1999, Minister of Finance from 1998 to 1999, leader of The Left in Saarland since 2010.

The United States of America is waging bloody economic wars against the entire world, and now against us Germans. The German government is talking interference with our sovereignty. What a fallacy! We have never been a sovereign state. After the end of the World War II, it is the Americans who have been handling issues of war and peace in Germany.

In 1963, Charles de Gaulle said:

“Having allies… is a matter of course for us in the historical era in which we find ourselves. But to have your own free choice… is also a categorical imperative, because alliances have no absolute virtue, no matter what feelings they are based on. And if you give up control over yourself, you run the risk of never regaining it.”

Later, Francois Mitterrand would add:

“You can’t hand the solution over to others when life or death is at stake.”

American military bases in Germany imperil us instead of protecting. The United States is pushing us to a war with its aggressive policy of encircling Russia and China, with allocating huge amounts of $738 billion for military purposes, by means of withdrawing from the INF Treaty and placing short-range missiles next to the Russian borders. It is in our interest to liberate the German soil from US military bases.The Real New World Order. Bankers Taking over the World

“Ami go home!” the students chanted in 1968, when the United States killed millions of people in Vietnam, using its military bases in Germany. “Ami go home!” the Germans urged when the United States, under the guise of lying about Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, unleashed the war in Iraq using its military facilities in Germany – a war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. “Ami go home!” – this appeal should become the motto of German politics today, when the greatest military power in the world is obviously violating international law and terrorizing all of the world.

This has been taken from Oscar Lafontaine’s Facebook and distributed by the German NachdenkSeiten run by another “heavyweight” of German politics – Albrecht Müller, a long-term ally of German Chancellor Willy Brandt, Bundestag member from 1987 to 1994.

“People like Oscar Lafontaine,” Albrecht Müller writes in his commentary, “able to get across their ideas, are a must-have in politics. The demand [on the US to leave Germany] is by no means radical. It’s appropriate. Many Germans believe so, but not those who shape today’s politics in Berlin. The German establishment and representatives of the major news outlets are either associated with the United States and dependent on them, or serve the interests of the military establishment. There are also people who simply lack courage and consider the ‘Ami go home’ demand unduly radical.

What else should happen? Sanctions have been imposed against us Germans. The weaponization process is at our expense. We are involved in maneuvers next to the Russian borders. Convoys with military equipment block our railways. What is finally going to make the cup run over?”

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Featured image is from Wikimedia CommonsThe original source of this article is InfoBricsCopyright © InfoBricsInfoBrics, 2019

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