Peace with Syria: The final piece in Turkey’s foreign policy puzzle

August 15 2022

Ankara has managed to reset relations with several neighbors, yet normalization with Damascus has remained the most elusive, until recently. Why now? And what will it take?

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Hasan Ünal

The 5 August meeting in Sochi between Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin has given rise to speculation in the west over Turkish-Russian rapprochement – and its possible negative impact on western efforts to curtail the imminent multipolar order.

Western NATO states have reason to be concerned about Ankara’s recent moves, given the momentum created on 19 July during Astana talks in Tehran – between Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Erdogan, and Putin – geared to resolve the Syrian crisis.

United against the States

What was striking about the meeting in the Iranian capital was its defiant tone, slamming US-led unipolarity (the so-called rules-based order), and accusing Washington of looting Syria’s resources and sponsoring terrorism, all while demanding that the US exits the region immediately.

Washington has long sought to undermine the Astana Process, launched in January 2017 by Russia, Iran and Turkey to demilitarize the Syrian conflict and establish ceasefires. To that end, it manipulated Turkey’s ill-defined Syria policy, expecting that Ankara and Moscow would collide head-on over “opposition-controlled” Idlib or elsewhere, thereby hindering possible rapprochement between the two Eurasian states.

However, it seems as if the Erdogan-Putin meeting has instead advanced beyond their earlier encounter on 29 September 2021, also held in Sochi, where it was then leaked that the two leaders had somewhat agreed on a broad geopolitical vision.

The two leaders focused on a wide range of areas of close cooperation – particularly on trade and economy – but also on prospective fields of mutual benefit such as defense industry ventures, as well as on regional issues like Syria, Crimea, and Cyprus.

Turkey’s shift on Syria

Although few details have been released following that closed-door meeting, it is interesting to note the discernable change in Ankara’s stance on Syria since then.

There is now serious talk of normalization with Damascus and a renewal of the Syrian-Turkish 1998 Adana Agreement, which will entail a joint effort to defeat US-sponsored Kurdish separatists in Syria, especially in the areas to the east of the Euphrates where the latter are striving to install a US-backed statelet.

As things stand, there is no reason why Erdogan and Putin could not iron out a deal to end the Syrian conflict, especially since Ankara – in an 18-month flurry of diplomatic outreach to regional foes – has largely given up on its Muslim Brotherhood-oriented foreign policy by mending ties with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and even Israel.

Today, Erdogan’s personal obstinacy over Syria remains the main hurdle obstructing an overall peace with Turkey’s war-stricken southern neighbor.

Why make peace?

The Turkish president certainly has a lot to gain from a well-orchestrated rapprochement with the Syrian government. For starters, Ankara and Damascus could agree on a protocol to repatriate millions of Turkish-based Syrian refugees back to their places of origin, and renew the Adana Agreement to create a common front against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliates.

Conceivably, Erdogan could even ask Damascus to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – a very dear issue for Ankara – in return for Turkey’s full support for the re-establishment of Syrian sovereignty over all its territories, including those areas currently under Turkish occupation.

With strong Russian guidance, is not entirely inconceivable that the two states could return to a comfortable neighborly states quo, with trade, investment, and reconstruction activities leading the way.

It would be a far cry from the 1998 to 2011 Syrian-Turkish ‘golden era,’ when Ankara studiously worked to bolster friendly relations with Damascus, to such an extent that joint-cabinet meetings were occasionally held between the administrations of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Erdogan, where the latter would refer to the former as “my brother.”

Today, the emerging multipolar order makes diplomatic and economic re-engagement all the more conducive, because as NATO’s Madrid Summit demonstrated, the west needs Turkey more than ever, and Ankara’s moves to normalize relations with Damascus is less likely to incur a significant cost than before the Ukraine crisis erupted.

Indeed, even before events in Europe unfolded, Turkey undertook several military operations against the PKK/ Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria, much to Washington’s dismay and outrage.

Ankara could proceed with these operations with less censure today, but it has not. Turkey appears to have realized – possibly under Russian advisement – that without normalization with Damascus, Turkish military moves on Kurdish separatists would yield significantly fewer results.

Problems closer to home

Moreover, Erdogan’s administration has been beset by the contentious domestic issue of the millions of Syrian refugees who remain inside Turkey. The days when the president and his close associates were preaching Islamic solidarity in defense of hosting Syrian refugees have long past.

The mood across Turkey has changed dramatically amid rising inflation, a collapse of the lira, and the general public’s disenchantment with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). For the first time since Erdogan’s ascension to power in 2003, the masses sense that his once-unbeatable, Islamist-leaning populist party may be defeated in upcoming presidential polls slated for May-June next year.

True or not, there are public rumblings that the AKP – to escape an election loss – plans to bestow millions of Syrian refugees with Turkish citizenship, allowing them to vote in the pivotal polls.

The disoriented outlook of Turkey’s main opposition party has always played to Erdogan’s advantage in previous elections. The feeble-looking Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who took the helm of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) after a sex scandal involving its previous leader, has never managed to rally the public around him.

Importantly, Kılıçdaroğlu has typically trailed behind Erdogan in opinion polls because of his pro-American, pro-EU approach to almost everything – at a time when anti-US sentiment in the country polls at a startling 85 to 95 percent of the population.

Repatriating refugees

Furthermore, Kılıçdaroğlu and his party do not make any clear-cut pronouncements about a peace with Syria. If anything, the CHP was as critical of Assad as Erdogan’s AKP, and its spokespeople barely weighed in on the divisive Syrian refugee issue, even though economically-challenged Turkey currently hosts more refugees than any other country.

The entry of a new figure – Ümit Özdağ, a professor of Political Science and International Relations, who recently formed the Party of Victory (Zafer Partisi) – onto the Turkish national political scene, has introduced a radical change in the discourse about Syrian refugees and their repatriation.

Almost overnight, Özdağ has gained widespread support from voters across the political spectrum. His unexpected surge in the polls has clearly contributed to a reassessment by the government and ruling party on the Syrian issue.

Ankara needs Damascus

Today, almost all voices from the CHP to the AKP are floating arguments for some sort of repatriation, but as even the Turkish public understands, this cannot be done without normalization with Damascus.

Hence, Erdogan’s test-balloon musings to Turkish journalists on his flight back from Sochi, hinting that Putin had repeatedly recommended that Ankara coordinate with Damascus on any military operation in Syria to rout out the PKK/SDF.

Despite the positive national outlook on normalizing with Syria, Erdogan won’t have a smooth path ahead. Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s untimely remark a few days ago that Ankara should try to bring the Syrian opposition (a clear reference to the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army) and the Assad government together with a view to striking a deal, didn’t go down well at all with those oppositionists.

It almost led to an uprising in Syrian areas under Turkish control – particularly in Azaz, where militants burned down Turkish flags and vowed to fight to the bitter end against the “Assad regime” and even Turkey.

Same old foreign policy

The statement the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued following these events underlined the long hard slog to a Syrian peace settlement, and revealed the depth of the Erdogan government’s involvement with these militants.

As it has predictably done since 2011, the FM statement conveniently shifted blame back onto the Syrian government for foot-dragging toward overall peace and reconciliation.

But Ankara desperately needs to drop its tired old refrain: demanding that Damascus agrees to a new constitution, pushing for federalization of the state, and insisting on new Syrians elections, under a care-taker government, composed of opposition politicians, and preferably without Assad at its helm.

Having failed to oust Assad militarily, Turkey once imagined it could unseat him through this convoluted political and electoral formula. Erdogan’s logic was that the millions of Syrians under Ankara’s influence – both in Turkey, as well as in Turkish-controlled Syrian territories – in addition Syrian Kurds in areas under the PKK/PYD, especially to the east of the Euphrates, would vote Assad out.

Trading the ‘rebels’ for the Kurds

This ‘fantasy’ contrasts sharply with realities on the Syrian ground, and also totally undermines Turkey’s own national interests.

Years of these haphazard AKP policies, premised on the unrealistic scenario of a sudden collapse of Assad’s government, all while stealthily transforming the country into a jihadist paradise – in the name of democracy – has instead become Ankara’s biggest foreign policy quagmire, and has emboldened its separatist Kurdish foes as never before.

Furthermore, Erdogan’s disastrous Syria policy has isolated Turkey for almost a decade in the region, even among Sunni states, and threatened to set off a conflagration with Russia, a major source of energy and tourism for the Turkish economy.

In fairness, the Turkish leader appears to be making some sound political maneuvers of late, and reaching out to Damascus is the most important of these for the region’s stability. Whether Erdogan will crown his new grand foreign policy moves with a Syrian peace by normalizing relations with Damascus remains to be seen.

If he doesn’t take this bold step, particularly in advance of Turkey’s presidential elections, Erdogan runs the risk of joining the long list of politicians determined to oust Assad, who have themselves left or been ousted from office under the weight of the so-called “Assad Curse.”

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Author

Maduro to Visit Damascus Soon, Ready to Contribute to Syria Reconstruction

Jan 20 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he will visit Syria soon to celebrate Damascus victory over terrorism, expressing his country’s readiness to contribute to the reconstruction of the Arab country.

According to Syria’s official news agency SANA, Maduro on Tuesday announced that he would pay a visit to Syria soon to celebrate with the Syrian people and their leadership the atmosphere of peace and stability that has been restored after the Damascus government’s fight against terrorist groups over the past years.

During a ceremony of awarding Syria’s ambassador to Caracas Khalil Bitar the Order of Francisco de Miranda First Class for the end of his mission, Maduro said the medal reflects the friendship and mutual admiration between the peoples of Venezuela and Syria, who are opposed to imperialism and aspire to peace and joint economic growth.

He also expressed his admiration of Syria’s history and the heroism of its people.

“We praise the courage of Mr. President Bashar al-Assad and salute his heroic stance as he has led a historic feat against the American terrorist aggression and its accomplices in the world, and achieved a victory thanks to the help of his allies such as Russia, China, Iran and other anti-imperialism nations and with moral and spiritual support from Venezuela,” he added.

He also proposed the idea of holding an exhibition for economy and investment in Damascus with the participation of Venezuelan businessmen with the aim of contribution to Syria’s rebuilding, and ordered the Venezuelan foreign minister to prepare for such a fair.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the “Israeli” regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

The US military has stationed forces and equipment in eastern and northeastern Syria, with the Pentagon claiming that the deployment is aimed at preventing the oilfields in the area from falling into the hands of the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”] terrorists.

Damascus, however, says the unlawful deployment is meant to plunder the country’s resources.

Former US president Donald Trump admitted on several occasions that American forces were in Syria for its oil.

After failing to oust the Syrian government with the help of its proxies and direct involvement in the conflict, the US government has now stepped up its economic war on the Arab country.

To survive, Lebanon needs to get real


January 18 2022

By Léa Azzi

As Lebanon’s economy continues plunging, it needs to look beyond ‘aid and bailouts’ to craft a longterm economic plan with friendly neighbors

It has been two years since the collapse of the Lebanese economy. According to the World Bank, Lebanon’s economic and financial crisis is likely to rank in the top 10 – possibly in the top three – most severe crises in the world since the mid-nineteenth century.

Poverty is on the rise, the middle class has plunged into poverty, real GDP per capita has fallen by 37.1 percent, consumer prices have soared, the Lebanese lira has lost more than 85 percent of its value against the dollar, and the financial sector is bankrupt.

While the situation worsens, the political establishment has spent the past two years vacillating over an economic and social recovery plan for Lebanon.

The first attempt to vote in a recovery plan dates back to the government of former prime minister Hassan Diab, on 30 April 2020.

Diab’s recovery plan outlined the losses of the banking sector, the imposition of capital controls, cut-offs for deposits above 500,000 US dollars, and the restructuring of the financial sector.

The plan was met by strong opposition from the banks, the Banque du Liban (Lebanon’s Central Bank), and the Finance and Parliamentary Committee (in particular, deputies Ibrahim Kanaan, Yassin Jaber, Nicolas Nahas), as well as various political parties and representatives of the private sector. The plan failed, and talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout came to nothing.

On 10 September, following a 13-month vacancy in the executive branch, a new government was formed headed by the billionaire Najib Mikati, also a former prime minister.

Once again, the government attempted to adopt a recovery plan, with no success to date. The central problem obstructing all proposals is the absence of agreement on the distribution of losses and the identification of responsibilities.

The Banque du Liban, other banks, and all the members of their political parties resolutely deny responsibility for the crisis, while punishing society through the reduction of the value of deposits, the decline of currency value, and through the seizure of public property.

A common element between the Diab and Mikati governments, in spite of fundamental differences in approach, is to seek an IMF program, as though it were the one and only solution to extract Lebanon out of its crisis.

Despite numerous internal actions, Lebanon has around $30bn in foreign reserves, which are more than enough to finance a reform program, diversify economic and trade relations, impose tax on wealth, and kickstart the shift towards a productive economy.

The main objective of an agreement with the IMF is to secure three to four billion dollars for Lebanon, if financial reforms and anti-corruption measures are implemented.

More importantly for Lebanese officials, however, is that an IMF deal is set to regain the confidence of the international community, and unlock $11 billion pledged in 2018 through the CEDRE conference organized in Paris.

Despite all this, the question remains: Does Lebanon really need an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, knowing that this financial institution also has a political agenda, a history of imposing unpalatable austerity measures, and is strongly influenced by Washington in its decisions?

Could and should Lebanon pivot towards alternative investments available from newer, multipolar, and less-intrusive institutions? Could and should China, Russia, or West Asian neighbors become the saviors of Lebanon?

Russia, the ‘grande dame’ of energy resources

Russia is accused by the west of controlling energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean, and extending its influence into Lebanon.

Over the past few years, Russia has offered Lebanon security and military coordination, as well as investments, especially in the energy sector.

One the main projects was the signing of an operations and services contract between the Lebanese Ministry of Energy and Water and the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft, in 2018. The contract was for the rehabilitation and operation of oil through Tripoli Oil Installations (TOI).

According to Lebanon’s former minister of energy and water, Cesar Abi Khalil, this was a strategic decision with known benefits.

“TOI is now productive and valuable,” Abi Khalil said, “and we are able to store around half a million of fuel derivates to face any potential obstacle.”

Abi Khalil, who signed the deal, said that the most important benefit is “transforming Tripoli (north) into a mandatory passage for Iraqi oil.”

Another project involved Russia’s largest independent natural gas company, Novtek, which has a 20 percent stake in Blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanon’s offshore fields. The deal was signed in 2020.

In February 2018, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev signed a military agreement to issue a credit line of $1 billion that would provide the Lebanese Army with ammunition for free.

Under US pressure, the Lebanese government postponed its decision on the matter.

During bilateral meetings, both Lebanese and Russian politicians discussed the creation of  attractive conditions for Russian investments. These included the reconstruction of Beirut port, building of power stations, infrastructure projects, and improvements in bilateral trade.

“Procedures, however, are slow from their end, and they look for investments that generate profits, and it is hard to attract them now while we are struggling with the collapse,” Abi Khalil explained.

Lebanese economist Hasan Moukalled said that, despite Russian business interest in Lebanon having started a year and four months ago, “[this interest] has not evolved yet into an official Russian decision to expand its influence in Lebanon.”

Lebanon’s crucial link to China’s Belt and Road Initiative

A former minister, who requested anonymity, told The Cradle about his meeting with a former Chinese diplomat. The minister explained that China did not want confrontations with the US over investments in Lebanon.

This, he added, despite the fact that trade ties are strong, with around 40 percent of Lebanese imports coming from China, as well as offers by Lebanon for Chinese companies to invest in Lebanon’s electricity grid, in the port of Tripoli (an important link in China’s Belt and Road Initiative), in the revival of the Beirut-Tripoli railway, and in the reconstruction of post-conflict Iraq and Syria.

Hasan Moukalled, who is known for bringing Chinese companies to Syria and Lebanon, says that China sees Lebanon as an important part of its Belt and Road Initiative, and part of their area of interest through Syria and Iraq.

On the other hand, Cesar Abi Khalil describes Chinese delegations who visited Lebanon as “interested in investing, but to our surprise refused our official frameworks and our bidding process.”

Can the future be in the Levantine market?

Among Lebanon’s economic alternatives are the Levantine market, comprising Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine.

This eastern economic integration was the plan of current Lebanese President Michel Aoun, even before his election and the country’s economic collapse unfolded.

“[It was] never implemented due to political divisions and US sanctions against Syria,” says an advisor to President Aoun. “The eastern belt is a potentially huge market, and there is a need to establish it to develop our economy.”

It is not a question of alternatives, or ‘who’ invests in the country. As Hasan Moukalled explains: “Yes, heading east is a solution, but what matters is having our own national plan.”

“How can we diversify our options when security and the army, and every sector is controlled by the US?” the advisor to the president went on to ask. “The biggest problem in Lebanon today is the absence of unity. What is the role of the country now? Which economic and political system do we want? What are our goals and plans?”

Definitive answers to these questions could provide a strong basis for Lebanon to work its way out of its crisis.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

Checkmate: Iran is spearheading a geopolitical sea change in West Asia

While the west bangs on about Vienna talks, sanctions and military options, Iran has been quietly building a vast network of alternative solutions to cement its Asian ascent

Photo Credit: The Cradle

December 24 2021

By Matthew Ehret

Benjamin Franklin once famously wrote to his fellow colonials: “Either we hang together or we hang separately.”

Those words are just as true today as they were 270 years ago, for empires have always controlled by dividing their victims into regional tribal interests in order to be better conquered.

While techniques have adapted to modern times, the essential ingredients for the science of discord remain relatively unchanged: keep resources scarce, fear and ignorance high, and let a targeted population clash over diminishing returns of scarcity.

Amid this division, myopic ethnic, religious, and linguistic prejudices have fertile soil to grow to the benefit of an oligarchic elite.

Today’s Americans, sitting as they are on the precipice of a their own internal civil clashes, and economic collapse more broadly, have not heeded the advice of their own founding fathers well enough.

However, it is no small irony that Ben Franklin’s advice is being taken to heart in another part of the world far removed from the decaying republic.

The China-Russia-Iran alliance challenges rules-based disorder

Since Iran finalized its Comprehensive 25 Year Cooperation Plan with China on 27 March, a completely new geometry has arisen in Southwest Asia, which is evolving at breakneck speed.

An ancient civilization serving as the third foundational pillar supporting the Greater Eurasian Partnership, and having joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on 17 September, Iran has finally emerged as a leading driver for stabilization and progress.

Alongside security agreements with Russia that have seen the two nations conducting Indian Ocean military drills in February 2021, Russia, Iran and China (RIC) have also announced that all three parties would hold joint naval drills in the Persian Gulf by the start of 2022.

Russian-Iran relations don’t end here, but a 20-year cooperation agreement – modelled on the Iran-China agreement – between the two powers is also in the final stages of negotiation.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh stated on 11 December: “Like the 25-year cooperation roadmap we developed with China, we can do the same with major neighboring countries.”

Among the many impossibilities now becoming possible under this new system, the Iranian-led Persian Gulf-Black Sea International Transportation and Transit Corridor, which many thought was long dead, has in 2016 has come back to life with force.

This transformative corridor is an obvious synergistic component to the China-led east-west Belt and Road Initiative, and Russian-Indian led International North South Transportation Corridor, both of which are sweeping across the world island.

The Iran-Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan gas swap

At the 28 November Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) summit in Ashgabat, the leaders of Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan overcame immense hurdles by finalizing an important gas swap deal that will involve Iran receiving two billion cubic meters of gas per year from Turkmenistan, which it will also send in equal proportions to Azerbaijan.

This agreement broke through the five-year block on gas relations between Turkmenistan and Iran, which had collapsed in 2016 due to complaints over unpaid oil from over a decade earlier. Additionally, the war which many commentators were warning might break out just a few months ago between Azerbaijan and Iran makes the agreement for renewed cooperation between the two nations that much more important.

Iranian president Raisi alluded to the foreign interests that were provoking fires during that heated period saying: “We must never allow others to interfere in our relations. We must resolve our own problems, work together to advance our relations and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation. Experience so far shows that when we discuss our issues ourselves, we manage to resolve many of them.”

The Trans-Caspian and White Stream pipelines complement the Southern Gas Corridor (Source: Trans-Caspian Pipeline)

The three nations also agreed to deepen integration and cooperation in transportation, trade, shipping, tourism and, most importantly, the development of the incredibly bountiful offshore oil and gas resources within the Caspian Sea.

While southern Iran holds the world’s second largest oil and natural gas reserves (behind Russia, who sits at #1), Turkmenistan is 4th on the list, while offshore deposits in the Caspian Sea represent some of the largest in the world.

As Pepe Escobar has observed in his recent contribution to The Cradle, the Chalous Gas fields in the Caspian not only represent the tenth largest reserves in the world with a $5.4 trillion value but, according to experts, this region alone could service 52 percent of Europe’s natural gas needs for 20 years. As of this writing, agreements have been signed, which will see this region developed by Russian, Chinese and Iranian interests.

The long overdue 300 km Trans Caspian Pipeline (TCP) crossing the Caspian has also come much closer to being realized alongside this harmonization of interests. With its completion in 2022, the TCP will connect to the Southern Gas Corridor and Turkey’s TANAP.

The final branch to Europe via the Nabucco gas pipeline will easily be completed (if political sabotage is avoided), providing Europe with abundant gas for generations. This will give both Iran and Russia a position of vast economic leverage with a mismanaged Europe now experiencing one of the worst man-made energy crises in history.

The INSTC as a game changer

The International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC, involving Russia, Central Asia, Azerbaijan, Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and India) is a 7,200 km multimodal transit system very much in synergy with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

(Source: CSIS: Reconnecting Asia)

Since the ECO summit, a plethora of agreements have been signed to accelerate this megaproject as well. While many talking heads have tried hard to paint this 20-year-old project as a Russian competitive challenge to China’s BRI, it is increasingly obvious that the two projects are entirely harmonious.

On 28 November, a three-way Iran-Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan memorandum of understanding was signed to build a new railway which will add to the 917 km railway from Ozen (in Kazakhstan) to Gorgan (in Iran) via Turkmenistan that began in 2014 and which was funded primarily by the three powers.

Another agreement was signed on 10 December to create an Iran-Azerbaijan-Georgia transit route connecting the Persian Gulf with the Black Sea to be completed in March 2022.

Once built, this new route will allow goods to move from Iran’s southern ports to Europe and Central Europe directly over land.

Reporting on this development, the Caspian Report stated that “effectively combining the capacity of all three would allow Iran to connect the Oman Sea and the Gulf to the south, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east, Central Asia to the northeast and the Caucasus to the northwest.”

On 12 November, Iranian, Turkish and UAE leaders signed a new cooperation agreement to start work on a new transportation corridor between the three nations with goods arriving from the UAE to Iran’s Port Shahid Rajaee, then transported over land to Turkey and thence to Europe, cutting eight days off  conventional sea routes.

This is all part of the broader INSTC which just last summer saw the first cargo arriving to India via Iran from Finland.

Security cooperation

In addition to building new transport and energy grids between the historic rivals, the leaders of Turkey and Iran signed a strategic security agreement on 21 October with Iran’s Interior Minister Vahidi saying: “Iran-Turkey ties will speed up. The two states will together end regional instability and foil enemy plots. The two countries will not allow others to disrupt their relations.”

One month later, Vahidi’s sentiments were amplified by Prime Minister Erdogan who held a press conferencealongside Raisi saying: “The White House is training and arming all terrorist groups in the region, including ISIS and the PKK, and providing them with terrorist equipment and tools to create insecurity.”

The two leaders not only signed security cooperation agreements to fight foreign-sponsored terrorism, but also advanced plans for a new free trade zone with preferential tariffs for all regional nations.

While Saudi Arabia has been among the most stubborn of the Persian Gulf states to adapt to the new reality shaping Southwest Asia, the UAE has been among the quickest.

No longer do the promises of western backers appear as attractive as they did a decade ago, especially considering the speed of economic disintegration of the ‘Titanic’ speculative bubbles known as the Trans-Atlantic economy.

In this spirit of simply wanting to survive if nothing else, the UAE has not only suspended US military deals, unveiled regional transport hubs, and advanced frontier scientific investments in space and atomic power. Additionally, we have also seen Iran and the UAE agreeing to “open a new page in Iran-UAE relations.”

On 6 December, Iran’s President met with the UAE’s National Security in Tehran saying: “the security of the countries in the region is intertwined and Iran supports the Persian Gulf littoral states. There should be no obstacle in the relations between the two Muslim countries of Iran and the UAE, and these relations must not be influenced by outsiders.”

The UAE representative stated in return: “We are the children of this region and we have a common destiny, so the development of relations between our two countries is on our agenda … we hope that a new chapter of relations with our two countries will begin.”

A new paradigm emerges

While the west is busy sabre-rattling, imposing unilateral sanctions and virtue signaling their rules-based superiority, the world has moved ahead towards a new multipolar system premised on genuine cooperation.

Based on this positive momentum, it is only a matter of time before the Economic Cooperation Organization fully incorporates into the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) which itself has already integrated deeply into China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

As it stands the long-awaited Iran-EAEU free trade zone is on the cusp of being finalized and this watershed will create many potentials for an expanded power bloc.

As Iranian MP Mohsen Zanganeh stated: “I think that if we focus our attention on Eastern countries, especially those in Central Asia, East Asia, as well as Eastern Europe, instead of focusing on the West, we can definitely benefit from their considerable economic potential… As you are aware, we are facing a lot of challenges in interacting with Western countries, because of the United States and Israel’s attitudes toward Iran. But the same challenges don’t exist in our ties with Eastern nations. That creates a great opportunity for our economy.”

With this new set of relationships in place, a chance at Syrian reconstruction has emerged with Iran and Iraq building the first railway connecting both nations in the form of the Shalamcheh-Basra railway.

If the 2018 Iraq-Iran Provisional Agreement is also revived, then this small railway can be extended 1,570 km through Iraq to Syria’s Latakia Port and Lebanon as a southern corridor for the New Silk Road. Syria’s return to the Arab League in the coming months makes this project much easier to achieve.

Despite the fact that old imperial habits die hard, there is obviously a new game in town, and anyone who wants to have a future should come to the recognition that they must learn to play by a new set of rules. These are rules which reject regime changes, divide-to-conquer tactics, or zero-sum thinking.

Much more in alignment with natural law, the Greater Eurasian Partnership is driven by win-win cooperation and building up the powers of productivity within a community of sovereign nation states.

Where one paradigm is unipolar, the other is multipolar; and where one is premised on extracting wealth from a fixed set of resources in order to get nations to fight for scraps, the other creates new wealth while harmonizing diverse interests into a greater whole. Which one would you rather live in?

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

بوتين والأسد يفتتحان المرحلة الجديدة

 ناصر قنديل
إدلب إلى الواجهة مجدّداً: هل يتكرّر سيناريو «M5»؟

يقدم الاجتماع الهام الذي جمع الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين بالرئيس السوري بشار الأسد في موسكو، تأكيداً جديداً على ما أظهرته أحداث السنوات العشر الماضية من إشارات لموقع ومكانة سورية في معادلات المنطقة، بعدما أريد لهذه الأحداث ان تمحو تلك المكانة التي حجزتها سورية على مدى عقود ماضية، وتكمن أهمية لقاء الرئيسين بوتين والأسد أنه يأتي في لحظة تقاطع جملة أحداث دولية وإقليمية وسورية، ليشكل نقطة انطلاق لمسار جديد ترتسم معالمه بسرعة بعد جمود امتد لسنوات في ملفات المنطقة منذ إعلان الانسحاب الأميركي من التفاهم النووي مع إيران، ضمن سياق تصعيدي لكسر جبهة المواجهة التي تضم روسيا والصين وإيران وسورية ودول وقوى آسيوية أخرى، جمعها السعي لكسر مشروع الهيمنة الأميركية على أكبر قارات العالم مساحة وسكاناً، والتي تختزن أكثر من نصف ثروات العالم وأكثر من نصف قدرات العالم العسكرية، فصمدت جبهة المواجهة ونجحت باحتواء عاصفة التصعيد.

خلال هذا العام ومع تسلم الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة، شهدت آسيا تكريساً لتفاهم القوى الصاعدة في آسيا على قطع الطريق أمام عروض الصفقات الثنائية التي توهمت إدارة الرئيس الأميركي الجديد جو بايدن أنها سياسة قادرة على استعادة زمام المبادرة، وبدأت ملامح التسليم الأميركي بالفشل مع الانسحاب الأميركي من أفغانستان، الذي تزامن مع انتقال دول وقوى محور المقاومة إلى الهجوم لكسر خطط الحصار الأميركية، فخرجت فلسطين منتصرة من معركة سيف القدس، وخرجت إيران بانتخاباتها الرئاسية تحمل راية القائد الجنرال قاسم سليماني بإخراج القوات الأميركية من المنطقة، وبلغ الملف النووي الإيراني مراتب علمية تضع واشنطن بين خيارات أحلاها مر، فإما تقبل بلوغ إيران اللحظة النووية الحرجة المتمثلة بامتلاك كمية من اليورانيوم المخصب على درجة عالية تكفي لتصنيع قنبلة نووية، أو الانكفاء عن الشروط وقبول العودة بلا شروط إلى الاتفاق النووي، وتوج هذا الهجوم المعاكس مشهد السفن الإيرانية التي استقدمها حزب الله تحت شعار السفن قطعة أرض لبنانية، لتنقلب واشنطن من خط الحصار إلى البدء بفك الحصار من باب التراجع عن بعض عقوبات قانون قيصر لتتيح نقل الغاز من مصر والكهرباء من الأردن عبر سورية إلى لبنان.

موسكو كانت على ضفة التلقي لكل هذه المتغيرات المتحركة، حتى جاءت زيارة المبعوث الأميركي الخاص بالملف الإيراني روبرت مالي إلى موسكو مدخلاً لإحداث النقلة في السياسات، فسورية هي حجر الرحى في معادلات المنطقة، وقد باءت كل محاولات تجاوزها بالفشل، بمثل ما فشلت خلال السنوات الماضية مشاريع إسقاطها وتفتيبها، فلا شام جديد فاعل بلا الشام، ولا قمة جوار العراق تنجح بلا الجار الأول، وواشنطن تعترف بفشل العقوبات في صناعة السياسة كما اعترفت بفشل القوة العسكرية بصناعتها وفقاً لتوصيف الرئيس بايدن لحاصل الحرب في أفغانستان، ويحضر العرض الروسي على طاولة المباحثات، تشجيع روسي لإيران للعودة إلى مفاوضات فيينا وإنجاز تفاهم تقني أولي مع الوكالة الدولية للطاقة الذرية مقابل التزام أميركي بالتخلي عن الأوهام التي عطلت التوصل لتفاهم في جولات فيينا يضمن العودة إلى الاتفاق الأصلي من دون تعديلات وشروط وإضافات، ودعوة روسية لواشنطن لحسم أمر الانسحاب من سورية لقوات أميركية تتواجد بصورة غير شرعية، لحساب تولي موسكو مواصلة الحرب على “داعش” وإدارة الحوار بين الجماعات الكردية التي ترعاها واشنطن والدولة السورية وتنشيط العملية السياسية، بما يفتح الباب لسقوط الذريعة التركية للبقاء في شمال غربي سورية. وجاءت المعارك التي خاضها الجيش السوري في منطقة الجنوب، والتي انتهت بدخوله إلى درعا تحت نظر قاعدة التنف لتقول لجميع الجماعات الموهومة بالإسناد الأميركي أن مرحلة جديدة قد بدأت، وأن بسط سيطرة الدولة السورية على كامل أراضيها تنطلق.

يدرك الأميركيون معنى فقدان المشروعية الداخلية والخارجية للبقاء في سورية والعراق بعد انسحابهم من أفغانستان، بعدما فقدوا شرعية هذا البقاء في العراق بعد مطالبتهم من مجلس النواب العراقي بالانسحاب، بينما لم يملكوا شرعية وجودهم في سورية يوماً، كما يدرك الأميركيون أن فترة السماح المتاحة أمامهم لإعلان الانسحاب لن تطول قبل أن تبدأ عمليات المقاومة باستهدافهم، ويدركون أن المخرج المتاح بأقل الخسائر هو تظهير الانسحاب من سورية كحلقة من حلقات تقاسم مهام الحرب على الإرهاب مع روسيا، وإظهار نية التشارك مع موسكو في الدفع باتجاه تنشيط فرص الحل السياسي في سورية على قاعدة التراجع التدريجي عن العقوبات وفكفكتها لحساب توفيرالتمويل لإعادة النازحين وإعادة الإعمار، كما قالت دراسة الدبلوماسي الأميركي السابق الخبير بشؤون سورية جيفيري فيلتمان، ونصائح السفير الأميركي السابق لدى سورية روبرت فورد.

مرحلة جديدة في المنطقة ستبدأ من سورية، وفرص يمكن أن يلتقطها، ويفترض أن يلاقيها بعض العرب واللبنانيين كي لا يظهروا مجرد صدى للصوت الأميركي.

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بوتين مستقبلاً الأسد: بجهودنا المشتركة وجهنا ضربة للإرهابيين

الثلاثاء 14 أيلول 2021

الميادين نت المصدر

في زيارة غير معلنة مسبقاً، الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين يعقد اجتماعاً مع نظيره السوري بشار الأسد في العاصمة الروسية موسكو.

بوتين يلتقي الأسد في موسكو: القوات الأجنبية عائق أمام توحيد سوريا
بوتين يستقبل الأسد في الكرملين

أفاد الكرملين، صباح اليوم الثلاثاء، بأن الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين عقد اجتماعاً مع نظيره السوري بشار الأسد الذي وصل إلى العاصمة الروسية موسكو في زيارة غير معلنة مسبقاً.

وأشار بوتين خلال اللقاء إلى أن “الرئيس السوري يفعل الكثير لإقامة حوار مع المعارضين السياسيين”.

كما هنأ بوتين الأسد بـ”النتائج الجيدة للانتخابات الرئاسية”، قائلاً إن هذه النتائج “تؤكد أن السوريين يثقون بك، وعلى الرغم من كل الصعوبات والمآسي التي شهدتها السنوات السابقة، فإنهم يُعوّلون عليك في عملية العودة إلى الحياة الطبيعية”.

وأضاف الرئيس الروسي: “بجهودنا المشتركة وجهنا ضربة للإرهابيين”، لافتاً إلى أن “الجيش السوري يسيطر على أكثر من 90% من أراضي البلاد، رغم بقاء عدد من بؤر الإرهاب قائمة”.

وأشار إلى أن المشكلة الأساسية لسوريا هي الوجود غير الشرعي للقوات الأجنبية على أراضيها، معتبراً أن “هذا يعيق التقدم على طريق تعزيز وحدة البلاد”.

ولفت بوتين إلى أن التبادل التجاري بين روسيا وسوريا ازداد بمقدار 3.5 مرة في النصف الأول من العام الجاري، كما أنه تم تسليم أولى شحنات لقاحات “سبوتنيك V” و”سبوتنيك لايت” لسوريا.

وبحسب الكرملين، توجه الرئيس الأسد لبوتين بالقول إن “جيشي البلدين أسهما كثيراً في حماية البشرية من شرّ الإرهاب الدولي”، مضيفاً أن “بعض الدول لها تأثير مدمر على إمكانية إجراء العمليات السياسية بكل الطرق”.

وأضاف الأسد أن الجيشين السوري والروسي حققا نتائج مهمة في تحرير الأراضي وتدمير الإرهاب، وساهما بعودة اللاجئين الذين أجبروا على مغادرة منازلهم.

واعتبر أن “الإرهاب الدولي لا يعرف حدوداً وينتشر مثل العدوى في جميع أنحاء العالم”، مشدداً على أن “الجيشين أسهما إسهاماً كبيراً في قضية حماية البشرية جمعاء من الإرهاب”.

الرئيس السوري أكد أن “أعمالنا السياسية سواء كانت في سوتشي أو في أستانة ساهمت أيضاً في تطبيع الحياة في سوريا”، مشيراً إلى أن “بعض الدول التي لها تأثير مدمر على إمكانية إجراء العمليات السياسية بكل طريقة”.

ووصف الأسد العقوبات المفروضة على سوريا بأنها “لا إنسانية ولا شرعية”، شاكراً “روسيا وشعبها على المساعدة الإنسانية التي يقدمها الاتحاد الروسي إلى سوريا”.

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President Assad Holds a Lengthy Summit with President Putin in Moscow

 ARABI SOURI 

Syrian President Bashar Assad meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow

Syrian President Bashar Assad held a lengthy summit with the Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday, Monday, in Moscow, the summit lasted 90 minutes and the presidents were later joined by the Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Faysal Mekdad and the Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu for an additional 45 minutes.

The visit was unannounced earlier due to security reasons, though it was planned for, President Bashar Assad is accompanied by a large delegate of Syrian officials.

President Bashar Assad meets President Vladimir Putin in Moscow

At the reception, President Bashar Assad highlighted the joint cooperation between the Syrian and Russian states, peoples, and armed forces, in combating terrorism in Syria which also saves many innocent citizens around the world because ‘terrorism knows no political borders and does not stop at political borders,’ President Assad thanked Russia for its support and highlighted the negative work of countries that impose inhuman, immoral, and illegal siege against the Syrian people.

President Putin congratulated President Assad on the ‘well-deserved excellent results in the presidential elections,’ President Putin told President Assad that the Syrian people have high hopes in him, they ‘associate his name with restoring normal life in Syria,’ for the efforts President Assad is exerting in this regard.

‘We have delivered a blow to the terrorists and now the Syrian state controls more than 90% of the Syrian territories,’ President Putin added, he also highlighted the illegal presence of foreign forces in Syria who are uninvited and contradict the international law, hinting at both the US and Turkish forces without naming them.

The following is the video released by the Syrian Presidency with the full transcript in English:

The video is also on BitChute and YouTube.

The video transcript:

Thank you, Mr. President. I am glad that we meet today in Moscow. The joint anti-terrorist operation has been going on for nearly 6 years, during which the Syrian and Russian armies achieved great achievements, not only by liberating lands or by returning refugees to their villages and cities, but also by protecting many innocent citizens in this world because terrorism knows no political borders and does not stop at political borders.

Of course, in addition to the important results in the liberation of lands and the retreat of terrorists was the launch of the political process, whether in Sochi, Astana, or recently in Geneva. This process has been going on for about two years now, but as you know there are obstacles because there are countries that support terrorists and have no interest in continuing this process in the direction that achieves stability in Syria.

Some countries have imposed a siege on the Syrian people, which we describe as inhuman, immoral and illegal, nevertheless, we are determined in Syria, as a government, and as state institutions, to go in parallel in the process of liberating the territories and in the process of political dialogue.

Today’s visit is an important opportunity to discuss these two points in addition to the bilateral relations that a team of specialists in the two governments will follow up in parallel with our meeting.

I want to take advantage of this meeting in order to thank the Russian state and the Russian people for the humanitarian aid provided to the Syrian people, whether with regard to the Corona pandemic recently or with regard to securing all the basic necessities that the Syrian citizen requires in his daily life.

I would like to thank you and the Russian political establishment, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for the efforts they made in international forums to defend international law, which at the outset states the sovereignty of states and the right of peoples to determine their future and destiny which managed effectively and strongly to prevent the exploitation of the process of combating terrorism in the world for political goals that serve the agendas of some countries.

Once again, thank you, Mr. President.

Honorable President, I am pleased to welcome you again to Moscow,

First, I would like to congratulate you on your birthday, and I also congratulate you personally on your well-deserved victory with an excellent result in the presidential elections, these results prove that people trust you, despite the difficulties and complications that Syria has gone through in the previous period, people associate your name with restoring normal life to Syria, which you are working hard to achieve including arranging the course of dialogue between you and your political opponents, and we hope that this process will continue.

Achieving this kind of synergy between all Syrian political forces will enable us to move forward in order to achieve a better future for the Syrians, many steps have been taken to achieve this, and thanks to our joint efforts, the largest part of the Syrian territory has been liberated despite all the difficulties and tragedies, and thanks to these efforts, the Syrian government today controls more than 90% of the territory.

The problem was the presence of some foreign armed forces on Syrian territory, in contradiction to all international references, and without permission from the Syrian government, which of course contradicts all international laws.

This gives you the possibility to make the maximum possible efforts to unite all the forces of the country to control the entire Syrian territory, as well as the possibility to reconstruct Syria as much as you can, in the absence of any armed forces in the Syrian territory.

But at the same time, unfortunately, we are still witnessing some actions by terrorists who not only control some lands, but also spread terror among the people.

The liberated areas are also witnessing the return of refugees, and I visited Syria with your kind invitation and witnessed with my own eyes how people return to their homes and rebuild their homes and work actively and energetically to return to normal life.

Our joint efforts are not limited to humanitarian assistance only, but also contribute to the development of economic and trade relations. During the past year, the volume of trade exchange increased by three and a half times.

At the same time, we are working together to get rid of the basic problem facing humanity, and I mean combating the Corona pandemic, we witnessed the supply of the first shipments of the Sputnik (7) and Sputnik Lite vaccines to Syria, we hope that, with our joint efforts, we will succeed in helping the Syrian people get back on their feet in the face of all these problems, including the reconstruction of the Syrian economy, social life and the health field.

Once again, I am pleased to welcome you, Mr. President. Welcome.

End of the transcript.

Russia Affirms its Support to Syria Economically, Politically, and Militarily

https://syrianews.cc/russia-affirms-its-support-to-syria-economically-politically-and-militarily/embed/#?secret=Ftd1XhBwWM

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بكين وصلت إلى دمشق.. ماذا بعد؟

22 تموز2021

المصدر: الميادين

أحمد الدرزي

حملت زيارة الصين إلى دمشق 3 أبعاد، فقد تم فيها دعوة دمشق إلى الدخول في مشروعها الكبير وبدأ العمل فيها على البنى التحتية الضرورية.

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كان واضحاً الحرص الصيني على الوصول إلى دمشق في تاريخ القسم الرئاسي نفسه، للدلالة على الدعم الكبير لها.

تعاطى السوريون مع قدوم وزير الخارجية الصيني في يوم القسم الرئاسي إلى سوريا، والذي حمل دلالات رمزية عميقة، بمشاعر متباينة بين التفاؤل والتشاؤم، وخصوصاً أن الوضع الاقتصادي ضاغط بشدة على القاعدة الأكبر منهم، التي تجاوزت 90% من مجموع السكان، فأي مسارات ستسلكها العلاقات بين البلدين؟ وما انعكاسها على الوضع السوري الداخلي والخارجي؟

لا يعدّ اهتمام قادة بكين بسوريا وليد اللحظة، إذ إنه يمتد إلى نهايات الألفية الثانية، مع صعود الصين التي بدأت نهضتها الحقيقية في العام 1978، بمجيء دينغ هسياو بينغ. وكان من المفترض أن تحصل قفزة كبيرة في العلاقة بين البلدين بعد زيارة الرئيس الأسد لبكين في العام 2004، ولكن المشاريع الاقتصادية التي كان من المفترض أن تقوم بها الأخيرة في مدينة عدرا العمالية تم إيقافها لأسباب غير معروفة.

مع مجيء تشي جينبينغ في العام 2013 إلى موقع الرئاسة في الصين، تم الإعلان عن مبادرة “الحزام والطريق” التي قُدّرت كلفتها بحدود 4 تريليون دولار. وكان اللافت للنظر هو استبعاد سوريا والعراق من المشروع، واعتبار شمال غرب إيران وجنوب شرق تركيا الممرَّ البري نحو أوروبا، واعتبار مرفأ حيفا في فلسطين المحتلة المرفأ المعتمد في شرق البحر الأبيض المتوسط. 

أخذت السياسات الصينية تُظهر نفسها على المستوى السياسي بعد إدراك قادة بكين أن القدرات الاقتصادية الهائلة التي أتاحت لهم بناء قدرة عسكرية دفاعية، تتيح لهم ترجمة ذلك، لتحويل الصين إلى قطب دولي موازٍ للقطب الأميركي الأوحد، ما دفع الرئيس جينبينغ إلى الإعلان عن اعتباره أن العالم أصبح متعدد الأقطاب، ولا عودة عن ذلك، وذلك من منبر الأمم المتحدة في العام 2015.

ارتفعت نبرة التحدي الصيني بعد مجيء الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة بقيادة بايدن، واعتبارها كلاً من الصين وروسيا تهديدين استراتيجيين للولايات المتحدة، ما دفع الرئيس الصيني إلى الإعلان عن أنَّ “زمن التنمّر على الصين ولَّى بلا رجعة”.

كما أحدث الانسحاب الأميركي غير المشروط من أفغانستان، وتركه الفوضى والاضطرابات من خلال سيطرة حركة “طالبان”، قلقاً لدى دول الجوار، ما دفع 40 دولة إلى عقد مؤتمر آسيا الوسطى والجنوبية في مدينة طشقند في أوزباكستان بتاريخ 15 تموز/يوليو الماضي، بعنوان لافت للنظر هو “الترابط الإقليمي، تحديات وفرص”.

وكان من الواضح من خلال طبيعة تحركات وزير الخارجية الصيني أنَّ القرار اتخذ بضرورة تأمين منطقة غرب آسيا، التي تشمل المنطقة الممتدة من أفغانستان إلى شرق البحر الأبيض المتوسط، وهو ما يقتضي بطبيعة الحال إخراج سوريا من منطقة الصراعات الدولية والإقليمية، فالتقى القوى الدولية والإقليمية المؤثرة في الملف السوري، ممثّلة بكل من وزيري خارجية روسيا سيرغي لافروف والمملكة العربية السعودية سعود الفرحان في اليوم الأول. وفِي اليوم الثاني، التقى وزير خارجية تركيا مولود جاويش أوغلو قبل التوجّه إلى دمشق.

كان واضحاً الحرص الصيني على الوصول إلى دمشق في تاريخ القسم الرئاسي، للدلالة على الدعم الكبير لها، وعلى أنّ بقاء الرئيس الأسد في سدة الحكم لم يكن سوى مظهر لنتائج الصراع الدولي والإقليمي وتحولاته الكبرى، وتأكيداً على دور الصين في المرحلة القادمة في تأمين الجغرافيا السورية كمنطقة آمنة، بالتعاون والتنسيق بشكل أساسي مع موسكو وطهران، وإشراك المملكة العربية السعودية التي تعتبر قاطرة دول الخليج، إضافة إلى مصر التي زارها في اليوم التالي، والتقى فيها الرئيس المصري عبد الفتاح السيسي، ومعالجة الدور التركي السلبي الذي لم يفِ بتعهداته لبكين بتسليم القيادات الإرهابية التركستانية، رغم الدعم الاقتصادي الصيني لها.

وكان لاتصال وزير الخارجية وانغ يي بوزير الخارجية الإيراني محمد جواد ظريف في اليوم الذي زار فيه دمشق دلالة كبيرة، وخصوصاً أن بيان وزارة الخارجية الصيني أعلن استعداد الصين للعمل مع إيران على مواجهة السياسات الأحادية والهيمنة، وهو ما يعني بالضرورة التوافق مع استراتيجيتها بإخراج الأميركيين من غرب آسيا بأكملها، وخصوصاً سوريا والعراق، ما يمهّد الطريق لدخول مبادرة “الحزام والطريق” إلى كل من العراق وسوريا ولبنان.

حملت الزيارة الصينية إلى دمشق 3 أبعاد، فقد تم فيها دعوة دمشق إلى الدخول في مشروعها الكبير، أسوةً ببقية الدول التي وافقت عليه، وبدأ العمل فيها على البنى التحتية الضرورية. 

وللتأكيد على ذلك، وقعت على اتفاقيات الاستثمار في كل مدينة عدرا الصناعية واللاذقية، وعلى إنشاء خط بري من الشمال إلى الجنوب، يربط دول الخليج العربي وشمال أفريقيا بتركيا وأوروبا، وبناء خط لسكك الحديد يربط مرفأ طرطوس بالعراق وإيران وباكستان والصين، إضافةً إلى الاستثمار في قطاع النفط والغاز، والجانب الآخر يتعلق بالمساعدات التي يمكن أن تقدمها إلى سوريا.

وقد توج ذلك بمبادرة للحل السياسي وفق قرارات الأمم المتحدة، مع الدعم الكبير لتصورات دمشق في أكثر القضايا، وخصوصاً ما يتعلق بالإدارة الذاتية والاحتلال التركي، عندما لمّحت المبادرة إلى “رفض جميع المخططات المحفزة على الانقسامات العرقية تحت ذريعة مكافحة الإرهاب”، إضافةً إلى شرط أساسي: “ينبغي دعم حل سياسي شامل وتصالحي للقضية السورية” بقيادة السوريين.

من الواضح أنَّ المساهمة الصينية في مساعدة سوريا اقتصادياً وسياسياً مرتبطة بتحقيق متطلبات أساسية، تتعلق بتغيير بيئة العمل الاقتصادي وتغيير التشريعات الاقتصادية، وهو ما تعهّد به الرئيس الأسد في خطاب القسم، عندما أكّد أن العمل في المرحلة القادمة سيكون على مكافحة الفساد وإصدار تشريعات اقتصادية جديدة.

أما الحلّ السياسي، فقد يذهب نحو مسار تشكيل منصّة للمعارضة السورية الداخلية بعنوان منصة دمشق، تكون مهمّتها الأساس إيجاد أرضية للحوار والتفاوض بين الطرفين في دمشق، وليس جنيف، وإنهاء دور المنصات التي تشكل امتدادات دولية وإقليمية.

بعد أن اختارت دمشق قرار التوجّه شرقاً، تطلَّب منها ذلك الشروع في تحقيق المتطلبات الثلاثة الآنفة الذكر، وهو ما ينتظره أغلب السوريين الذين طحنتهم الحرب، والذين يبحثون عن مخرج لاسترداد حياتهم السابقة واستعادة المناطق المحتلة في الشمال السوري وجنوبه، والبدء بإعادة إعمار ما تهدم على الصعيد الاجتماعي والاقتصادي، والّذي تعجز عنه الدولة السورية وحدها.  

The forthcoming inevitable battle for Middle-East Peace

May 05, 2021

The forthcoming inevitable battle for Middle-East Peace

by Ghassan Kadi for the Saker Blog

The alleged stray ground-to-air Syrian missile that landed near the nuclear reactor in Dimona Israel carried many messages; both overt and covert.

And, as if the fact that this missile managed to penetrate Israel’s formidable ‘Iron Dome’ was not embarrassing enough for Israel, the official Israeli report alleged that the missile was actually Iranian-made; not Russian as initially perceived by the world.

In other words, the Israeli report is saying that its ‘Iron Dome’ has been easily penetrated by a missile that is 1) not meant to hit ground targets, 2) had already spent its fuel and maneuverability and was literally on a free fall trajectory by gravitation and not propulsion, 3) yet it penetrated the allegedly most advance air defense system in the world, and 4) above all, it was made in Iran; a nation ‘crippled by sanctions and governed by ‘fundamentalist Mullas’.

Seriously, Israel has never before admitted a defense failure that is even close to such similar proportions.

Ironically, almost simultaneously, Iran revealed photos of an American aircraft carrier taken by a drone; not to forget mentioning that Iran also revealed that it has developed kamikaze drones ready to attack any target within their range in the Gulf.

But the Dimona incident alone cannot be seen in isolation of the recent Russian ‘diplomacy’ initiatives in the Middle East. I have deliberately put the word diplomacy under inverted comas, because that Russian version of diplomacy has a side that proves its worth in both traditional diplomatic ways as well as ones that are unorthodox.

Russia has thus far been very tight-lipped about its objectives in the Middle East. My own analysis of it has landed me in hot water with Russian friends and media allies, and I accept their stand. Perhaps they do not want me to ‘spoil the hidden agenda’, but my role as an analyst is not going to stop, and their views, directives, and concerns will not make me feel guilty for expressing my analyses and predictions.

In this portrayal of recent regional political events in the Middle east, I am relying on bits of pieces of information from here and there, but the analysis of it all is based on my own understanding of what makes sense in combining all what is currently taking place. My analysis does not represent the views of any blog, news agency or government. I have expressed similar views earlier, but events keep progressing, and in every step of the way, it seems that my initial prediction about the Russian initiative in the Middle East was accurate. So here is an updated summary of it all with a bit repetition of earlier material for the benefit of first-time readers.

Ever since Russia responded to Syria’s request to offer military aid, Russia responded with accepting the request under certain conditions; conditions that stipulate a Syrian-Israeli peace settlement agreement.

But this wasn’t all. Putin’s Russia is trying to reverse what Kissinger did to Russia some forty years ago when he catapulted the USSR out of Middle East politics and conned Egypt into accepting a unilateral peace deal with Israel in the so-called Camp David Accords.

Ever since then, Russia has been deprived of a role to play in the Middle East, none at all, until Putin sent troops into Syria and thereby changing the status quo not only in the Middle East, but also heralding the end of the single global superpower status of the post USSR USA.

The post-USSR world has seen Russia suffering from huge American-based NATO encroachments in Eastern Europe, and the current impasse in Ukraine is only one aspect of it. Former Warsaw Pact nations have gone full dipole away from Russia and in cahoots with their new-found Western ‘allies’. The Stalin era might have left a bitter taste in the palate of some East European countries, but this was a long time ago, and nations like Poland and Ukraine surely must understand and know who are their historic regional and global allies. With the era of Nazism and Fascism in the dust bin of history that Europe would like to forget, even Germany and France ought to realize that today’s Russia cannot be associated with Stalin’s-USSR any more than today’s Germany and France can be associated with Hitler and Petain.

And, if Poland wants to remained mentally entrenched in the Stalin era and forget about who liberated it from Nazi occupation, it should look further back in history and remember that the partition of Poland in the 19th Century was not only orchestrated by the Russian Czars, but also in collaboration with Prussia and Austria.

As discussed in the previous article, the current animosity of Eastern European nations towards Russia is not something that can be rationally explained and justified.

Back to the Middle East.

Only Russia can broker a peace deal in the Middle East, a deal that includes not only Syria and Israel, but also Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The main sticking elements in any such deal are Israel and Turkey, and to a lesser extent Iran.

In the same previous article mentioned above, I predicted a win-win scenario that Russia will broker between Iran and Saudi Arabia; one that guarantees the mutual withdrawal of Iran from Syria and Saudi Arabia from Yemen. As a matter of fact, a few days ago Saudi Crown Prince MBS announced that he wants to have a good relationship with Iran. Is this a sign that this deal is closer than we think? Perhaps not, but I cannot think of any other reason.

Turkey will undoubtedly want a bite of the cherry, and I not sure how will Russia be able to diplomatically appease Erdogan without giving him too much more than what he has taken already. However, his recent stand on Ukraine has put him in deep hot water with Russia and in any future bargains, he will find that his Ukraine venture will be used against him. He has deliberately introduced a bargaining chip that can be used only against himself.

This leaves Israel; how to bring Israel to the negotiating table for a deal that is unlike all previous American-brokered deals.

All American-brokered deals have thus far been based on providing Israel with the lion’s share and the Arab party with very little; especially when it came to making deals with the Palestinian Authority. Furthermore, on top of the political and strategic gains that America delivered to Israel in all of those deals, America ensured that Israel continued to have military superiority and that Arabs would never be able to score a major military victory, even if united.

Despite the October 1973 (ie Yom Kippur War) and what followed it, all the way up to the July 2006 war with Hezbollah, and the humiliations that Israel suffered from all of those military engagements, Israel remains mentally entrenched in the euphoria of the huge Six-Day War win of June 1967 and what ensued afterwards, resulting in what can best be described as the invincible army complex.

Israel will not be prepared to sign a peace agreement with Syria while it believes that it continues to have this military superiority; the power to shape events in its favour. For Israel to change course and become more realistic, it needs either a new generation of political leaders who are more rational, or a reality check; a punishment if you wish.

This is why it is that, inasmuch as the corridors of negotiations are opening up and the tables are being prepared, so are the drums of war.

It is worthy to note here that major reconstructions have not begun in Syria yet. The underlying message here is that perhaps Syria is expecting more carnage, and that reconstruction will have to wait. Why reconstruct twice? In its current state of devastation, Syria has little to lose.

Israel, on the other hand, is in a very vulnerable situation, and the Dimona incident has exposed this gaping hole.

Syria has exercised great restraint in the face of the ongoing Israeli airstrikes. Even though an Israeli jet was downed a few years ago, by-and-large, Syria has remained non-respondent. We do not know exactly what is happening behind the scenes, but it seems that Israel is misreading Syria’s lack of response and seeing weakness, despite information from Russia that such is not the case. Israel will continue to act like the regional bully, refusing to sit at the negotiating table as an equal partner, unless it receives a significant hit.

This hit is not necessarily one that will cause much carnage in Israel such as civilian and military loss of life. Putin will not accept or allow such a level of devastation to be inflicted on Israel. After all, a significant fraction of Israel’s population is originally Russian. Putin, furthermore, is intent on convincing Israel that it is Russia, and not America, that can give Israel real peace with its Arab neighbours.

To this effect, Israel only needs to lose a few fighter-jets, ten, maybe twenty, finding itself unable to defend key military and strategic land targets in order for it to realize that the days of military superiority are gone.

The Dimona incident is a forewarning, but only if Israel wants to read in between the lines. Otherwise, there will be a war in the Middle East, a war that will be intended to be contained and limited to be a punch, a powerful punch, but not a knockout.

With this said, this is the Middle East, a very volatile region, with many volatile heads. A limited war aimed at showing who has muscle may end up spiraling out of control and into something very large. With experience of such unpredictability, Syria is presenting to Israel that a long war will bring more destruction upon Israel than it will on an already destroyed Syria.

What seems certain is that peace initiatives are on the table, but not all parties are yet convinced that they will attend such talks as equal partners before some arms are twisted and statures rattled.

RUSSIAN-SYRIAN GAS CONTRACT HINTS AT SYRIA’S RECOVERY

Source

 09.04.2021

Russian-Syrian Gas Contract Hints At Syria’s Recovery

Submitted by Steven Sahiounie.

The Syrian government signed a 4-year contract in March with Capital Limited, a Russian firm, to conduct oil and gas exploration in the area known as block No. 1 in the Syrian exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of the Tartous province.

The disputed maritime area covers 2,250 square kilometers on the Syrian-Lebanese maritime borders in the Mediterranean Sea.

Large reservoirs of natural gas have been discovered under the seafloor of the eastern Mediterranean and the neighboring nations and energy exploration companies are eager to exploit these gas deposits.

The Levantine basin has proven reserves of more than 60 trillion cubic feet of gas. The US Geological Survey has estimated that 1.7 billion barrels of oil lie in the basin, and as much as 122 trillion cubic feet of gas. That amount of gas is equivalent to about 76 years of gas consumption in the European Union (EU).javascript:window[“$iceContent”]

Natural gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels and serves as a transition fuel towards more renewables, and to replace coal and nuclear electric generation across the EU.  Gas is the energy of demand for the EU, which is the biggest emerging gas market in the world.

In December 2013, Damascus entered into a major agreement with Moscow to explore oil and gas in the offshore territorial waters for 25 years.  Drilling and exploration costs were estimated at $100 million.  Russia would finance these activities with expenditures recovered from eventual production.

The 2013 deal for gas exploration involved Russia’s SoyuzNefteGaz; however, the current contract involves two Russian companies, Capital Limited and East Med Amrit.

The area in which Russian companies are being allowed to operate is disputed by the Lebanese, with the maritime borders drawn by the Syrians, especially in Block No. 1, overlapping significantly with Block No. 1 and Block No. 2 on the Lebanese side, and encroaching approximately 750 square kilometers within Lebanon’s maritime border.

Lebanon was busy demarcating its southern maritime and land borders with Israel for years, without making any progress.

On April 6, Lebanese caretaker Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe said that Lebanese President Michel Aoun held a phone conversation with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to discuss the demarcation of maritime borders between the two countries. Wehbe said Aoun confirmed in his call with Assad that “Lebanon won’t accept to diminish from its sovereignty over its waters”, and confirmed that his country sticks to demarcating the maritime borders via negotiations, and not court disputes.

The majority of the land borders between the two countries have been demarcated in 1971, while the maritime borders between Syria and Lebanon have not been delineated. Lebanon had previously demarcated its maritime borders in 2011, and in 2014 launched a round of primary licenses and invited bids for Block No. 1 in the north, but Syria did not recognize the Lebanese demarcation. Damascus objected to the unilateral Lebanese demarcation of its exclusive economic zone in the north, by sending a protest letter to the United Nations in 2014.

Wehbe said that Beirut must negotiate with Damascus about the demarcation of maritime borders.

“This is not an act of aggression but every state demands its rights according to its perspective,” Wehbe said, adding that negotiations must take place within the framework of international laws and the brotherly relations between the two countries.

In late 2010, a dramatic discovery was made in the eastern Mediterranean of a huge natural gas field offshore, in what geologists call the Levant or Levantine Basin. The discovery set into motion a geopolitical plan devised in Washington and Tel Aviv back in 1996.  By March 2011 Syria was immersed into a revolution instigated and fueled by the CIA on orders from President Obama.

In August 2011 findings were revealed by Syrian exploration companies of an immense gas field in Qara near the border with Lebanon and near the port of Tartus, which was leased to the Russian navy. The gas reserves are believed to be equal to or exceed those of Qatar.  The US-backed rebels kept the fighting focused in the area to prevent the recovery of the gas.

Trump ordered the US troops illegally occupying Syria to stay and steal the oil.  The US military prevents the Syrian government from using the oil in the northeast to rebuild or recover from 10 years of war.

The US, NATO, and the EU all worked in coordination to destroy Syria and keep it from reaching its potential as an energy-sufficient nation.

Washington’s ‘regime-change’ strategy was based on instigating internal chaos in Syria through the use of CIA training and weapons of armed fighters following Radical Islam, which they thought would end with an Islamic State as opposed to the existing secular government in Damascus, and supported through the coffers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both nations state sponsors of Radical Islam.

The US lost the war in Syria. But, Washington will continue to isolate Russia and try to prevent the unchanged government in Damascus from the gas reserves off-shore.

Turkey began the US-NATO war against Syria as a team player. Turkey was used as a transit point for all the hundreds of thousands of foreign terrorists from the four corners of the globe who flocked to Syria on Team-USA to oust the Syrian government, in favor of Radical Islam. However, Turkey feels left out of the lucrative gas deals, and envious of its neighbors in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey is trying to disrupt energy exploration. Meanwhile, it is the babysitter of the Al Qaeda terrorists in control of Idlib and determined to maintain the status quo in Idlib.

While Russia has been in the Syrian port of Tartus for decades, it was in 2015 that they were invited to Syria militarily in the darkest days of terrorist expansion.  The Russians have a long and bloody experience with Radical Islamic terrorists on Russian soil. With Syria laying on the southern front of Russia, it was seen as a national security threat to allow an Islamic state to be proclaimed in Damascus, even if it was only the Muslim Brotherhood politicians supported by the US and housed in hotels in Istanbul.

The Russians felt they could either defeat the terrorists in Syria or wait and fight them on the streets of Moscow. Radical Islam is neither a religion, nor a sect, but a political ideology that is very difficult to deal with once US weapons are placed in their hands.

In 2012, F. William Engdahl wrote a prophetic article Syria, Turkey, Israel and a Greater Middle East Energy War. He wrote, “The battle for the future control of Syria is at the heart of this enormous geopolitical war and tug of war. Its resolution will have enormous consequences for either world peace or endless war and conflict and slaughter.”

Engdahl theorized that Syria would ultimately be a major source for Russian-managed gas flows to the EU.

In late 2015, Pepe Escobar, a journalist with Asia Times, wrote a groundbreaking article Syria: Ultimate Pipelineistan War”.

Escobar wrote, “Syria is an energy war. With the heart of the matter featuring a vicious geopolitical competition between two proposed gas pipelines, it is the ultimate Pipelinestan war.”

In the article, he takes you back to 2009 when Qatar proposed to Damascus the construction of a pipeline traversing Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria to Turkey, to supply the EU.

However, in 2010 Syria chose a competing project, the $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline. That choice set into motion what the western media terms as the Syrian civil war, but in reality was never civil, and was a classic US ‘regime-change’ project which featured a cast of thousands, and among the supporters were the heads of state from most of the civilised world.

After 10 years of war, Syria may finally be approaching the endgame. President Assad’s government is looking to post-war recovery and reconstruction, which will need foreign and domestic investments. The energy sector is crucial. Syria’s oil exports accounted for 30% of pre-war revenue, and the prospect of gas output was revealed just as the war ramped up. US and EU sanctions will make foreign investment difficult, but the world is watching Russia in the waters off Syria.

Steven Sahiounie is an award-winning journalist and political commentator.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Maria Saadeh, former independent Syrian MP, on the blockade of Syria

Presentation at the London webinar ‘A Decade of War on Syria – Future Trajectories’, hosted by The European Centre for Extremism Studies [www.eurocse.org] in Cambridge’s #Syria​​ Program.

James Jeffrey’s Confessions: We Destroyed the Syrian Pound and Prevented Russia, Iran and Assad from Feeling Victory (1) اعترافات جيمس جيفري: دمّرنا الليرة السوريّة ومنعنا روسيا وإيران والأسد من الشعور بالانتصار… (1)

James Jeffrey’s Confessions: We Destroyed the Syrian Pound and Prevented Russia, Iran and Assad from Feeling Victory (1)

Paris – Nidal Hamada

In a lengthy interview with The Monitor, former U.S. special envoy to Syria James Jeffrey made confessions about his country’s Syria policy, which can rightly be said to be the kind of scandal revealed by WikiLeaks documents.

James Jeffrey said: I convinced Secretary Pompeo of the USA administration that Iran should be treated as a nuclear problem like North Korea and that it represents a threat to security in the region, and we supported the Israeli air campaign against Iranian targets in Syria, we told them if you did not address the Iranian presence in Syria will not succeed in the war against ISIS, and we invoked the administration’s war against terrorism to justify the “Israeli” air campaign against Iranian targets in Syria, so we made a policy in Syria that is at the heart of our Iranian policy and the result was relatively successful, because we got a lot of Turkish assistance.

 Elsewhere, James Jeffrey says: “We have stepped up the pressure of siege and isolation on Assad, we have kept along the line to prevent any reconstruction assistance that the country needs, see what happened in the Syrian pound, you see what happened to the Syrian economy, it was a very useful strategy.”

 On the Iranian issue, he also says that “Iran’s ability in Syria to impose an equation similar to south Lebanon through long-range missiles stopped because of the Israeli air campaign, and the continuation of this campaign is due to The American diplomatic support and I will not enter into more details on the subject, we have stopped Iran’s long-term objectives and put its presence under pressure, but I do not know if it is enough to force it to leave Syria. I know that this is an important element for any broader agreement and no matter how much pain we attribute to the Russians, the regime in Syria and the Iranians, this will not disappear until Iran leaves Syria.”

He also said that Russia is winning politics and it knows that there is no military solution to the crisis, and we have clearly told them that we will lift the sanctions, and that Assad will return to the Arab League and will drop the diplomatic blockade if they accept our offer put by Pompeo in Sochi in 2019, they know what this offer is.”

(Part2: Turkey kurds and how were they lying to Trump?).

اعترافات جيمس جيفري: دمّرنا الليرة السوريّة ومنعنا روسيا وإيران والأسد من الشعور بالانتصار

باريس – نضال حمادة

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في مقابلة طويلة أجراها مع (ذي مونيتر) أدلى المبعوث الأميركي الخاص السابق الى سورية جيمس جيفري بكلام أشبه بالاعترافات حول سياسة بلاده في سورية، يمكن القول عنها بحق إنها من نوع الفضائح التي كشفتها وثائق «ويكيليكس».

قال جيمس جيفري: لقد أقنعت مع وزير الخارجية بومبيو أعضاء الإدارة الأميركية أنه يجب التعامل مع إيران على أنها مشكلة نوويّة على غرار كوريا الشمالية وأنها تمثل تهديداً للأمن في المنطقة، كما دعمنا الحملة الجوية «الإسرائيلية» ضدّ الأهداف الإيرانية في سورية، قلنا لهم إذا لم تعالجوا التواجد الإيراني في سورية فلن تنجحوا بالحرب ضدّ داعش، وتذرّعنا للإدارة بالحرب ضدّ الإرهاب لتبرير الحملة الجوية «الإسرائيلية» على أهداف إيرانية في سورية، هكذا صنعنا سياسة في سورية تدخل في صلب سياستنا الإيرانية العامة وكانت نتيجتها ناجحة نسبياً، لأننا حصلنا على الكثير من المساعدة التركية.

 في مكان آخر يقول جيمس جيفري: «لقد صعّدنا ضغوط الحصار والعزلة على الأسد، لقد حافظنا على طول الخط على منع أية مساعدة لإعادة الإعمار التي يحتاجها البلد، أرأيتم ماذا حلّ بالليرة السورية، أرأيتم ماذا حلّ بالاقتصاد السوري، لقد كانت استراتيجية مفيدة جداً».

 في الشأن الإيراني يقول أيضاً «إنّ قدرة إيران في سورية على فرض معادلة شبيهة بجنوب لبنان عبر صواريخ بعيدة المدى توقفت بسبب الحملة الجوية الإسرائيلية، ويعود استمرار هذه الحملة إلى الدعم الدبلوماسي الأميركي ولن أدخل بتفاصيل أكير عن الموضوع، لقد أوقفنا أهداف إيران البعيدة المدى ووضعنا وجودها تحت الضغط، لكن لا أعرف إذا كان كافياً حتى يجبرها على ترك سورية. أنا أعرف أن هذا عنصر مهمّ لأيّ اتفاق أوسع ومهما كان الألم الذي نسبّبه للروس وللنظام في سورية وللإيرانيين فهذا لن يختفي قبل مغادرة إيران لسورية».

قال أيضاً «إنّ روسيا تكسب بالسياسة وهي تعلم ان لا حلّ عسكرياً للأزمة، وقد قلنا لهم بشكل واضح إننا سوف نرفع العقوبات، وإنّ الأسد سوف يعود الى الجامعة العربية وسوف يسقط الحصار الدبلوماسي في حال قبلوا بعرضنا الذي طرحه بومبيو في سوتشي عام 2019، هم يعرفون ما هو هذا العرض».

(الجزء الثاني: تركيا الأكراد وكيف كانوا يكذبون على ترامب؟).

Syria’s International Conference On Refugees Is A Masterclass In Balancing

12 NOVEMBER 2020

By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Syria

The kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria has mostly drawn to a close, as evidenced by the milestone event of the country hosting an international conference on the return of refugees, which resulted in several significant outcomes that speak to the masterful execution of its “balancing” strategy and raise hope that the Arab Republic will eventually transform into the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of China’s visionary W-CPEC+ corridor across Eurasia.

Strategically Disarming “Weapons Of Mass Migration”

Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees is a milestone event for the country’s war which shows that the kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror against it has mostly drawn to a close. President Assad’s keynote speech saw the Syrian leader thanking his Russian and Iranian wartime allies for their help getting to this point and encouraging his compatriots abroad to finally return home. He claimed that some of their host countries are exploiting them for financial and other reasons, strongly hinting that they’re being used against their will as “Weapons of Mass Migration” like Ivy League scholar Kelly M. Greenhill earlier described such a phenomenon. In connection with that, President Assad condemned those states which continue to impose illegal sanctions against the Arab Republic, which has disincentivized some refugees from returning home and thus results in artificially perpetuating this historic humanitarian crisis that was initially sparked by their external war of regime change aggression against his people through terrorist means.

Syria’s “Balancing” Act

Thankfully, Syria can count on its Russian and Iranian wartime allies to help reconstruct the ruined country and thus facilitate the return of millions of refugees to their homeland. To this end, Russia promised to allocate $1 billion as well as open up a trade mission in Damascus while Iran suggested setting up an international fund for this purpose. Both countries seem poised to enter into a “friendly competition” with one another for reconstruction contracts and market space which can only work out to Syria’s ultimate benefit. The Arab Republic is therefore expected to retain its carefully calibrated “balancing” act between them, wisely doing its utmost to prevent the emergence of any complete dependence on either of them in the future. This strategy is consistent with what it’s always pursued over the decades and represents its masterful execution which too many other small- and medium-sized states previously attempted but to no avail. Even worse, many of Syria’s peers saw this strategy backfire on them, thus leading to either their ruin or full dependence on one partner.

Full credit goes to Syria’s world-class diplomats for being able to manage such a difficult policy with such success. Not only are they “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but they also managed to attract the important participation of other countries in their international refugee conference, most curious of which for some observers is Pakistan. Those who only casually follow Syrian affairs might have missed it, but Islamabad recently dispatched massive medical aid to the Arab Republic. This and its participation in the international conference show that the “global pivot state” (which the author previously referred to it as) is capable of bold foreign policy moves independent of its close American, Saudi, and Turkish partners. Pakistan, just like Syria, is also practicing its own “balancing” act between its aforementioned three traditional partners and its three newest ones of Russia, China, and Iran. In fact, it can be argued that Pakistan and Syria are in the process of synergizing their respective “balancing” strategies for the betterment of Eurasia.

Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria”

To explain, not only is Syria “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but also between India and Pakistan too. Although Damascus and Delhi have a long history of close relations, Presidential Advisor Bouthaina Shabaan told the Hindustan Times in August 2017 that her country is becoming hesitant about India’s role in its reconstruction after Prime Minister Modi’s highly publicized trip to “Israel” where he did everything from sign intergovernmental deals solidifying their de-facto alliance to even walking barefoot with Netanyahu along the beach. The author realized at the time that this is “Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria” whereby Islamabad could flex its anti-Zionist credentials to present itself as a much more credible partner than pro-Zionist Delhi in pursuit of strengthening the two state’s historic relations that reached their high point in 1974 after a Pakistani pilot flying a Syrian jet shot down an “Israeli” fighter flying over the occupied Golan Heights. Syria’s diplomats were evidently receptive to Pakistan’s outreaches, hence the steady improvement of ties.

The Winding Road To W-CPEC+

It’s not just nostalgia for their Old Cold War-era ties nor their shared hatred of “Israel” that’s bringing them closer together nowadays, but pro-Chinese Silk Road pragmatism. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), and its western branch corridor (W-CPEC+) through Iran has the chance of not only reaching Russia by running parallel with the stalled North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) across Azerbaijan but can also extend as far as Syria via Iraq. China is the little-discussed third economic force apart from Russia and Iran which is engaged in a “friendly competition” with its partners to develop Syria, and the improvement of Syrian-Pakistani relations as is presently happening could result in W-CPEC+ extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Eastern Mediterranean through Iran, Iraq, and Syria, all of which are allied with one another. It’ll of course take a lot of political will from all sides — not least of all Pakistan — to see this ambitious vision through, but if successful, then it could revolutionize Mideast geopolitics.

All five countries — China, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and Syria — would benefit from this outcome. The People’s Republic is the world’s second-largest economy and actively eyeing more positions in the Eastern Mediterranean to complement its prospective ones in “Israel”, albeit via more geopolitically reliable mainland routes than the maritime ones connecting it to the self-professed “Jewish State”. Pakistan has an interest in bolstering its credential as the “global pivot state” by having CPEC serve as the platform for integrating Eurasia more closely together. Iran, which is desperately seeking all manner of sanctions relief, is reportedly negotiating a gargantuan economic agreement with China and would certainly benefit by facilitating more East-West trade through its territory. As for Russia, its recent control over Tartus means that it could profit from any Syrian export of Chinese products through that port. As for the Arab Republic itself, its expected benefit is that this vision would accelerate its reconstruction and allow it to finally actualize its pre-war “Five Seas Strategy”.

Concluding Thoughts

All told, Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees was about much more than just its titular topic. Reading between the lines of the details that have since been revealed about this milestone event, it was actually a masterclass in Syria’s “balancing” strategy. The Arab Republic proved that its diplomats are among the most highly skilled in the world after successfully “balancing” between Russia and Iran, as well as India and Pakistan, all with the aim of fulfilling its visionary “Five Seas Strategy” which some argue was partially responsible for provoking the Hybrid War of Terror that’s been viciously waged against it for almost an entire decade already. In the best-case scenario, Syria will eventually serve as the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of the W-CPEC+ corridor connecting that strategic body of water with the Pacific Ocean via a several-country-long mainland commercial corridor. The successful fulfillment of this vision would revolutionize not only Mideast geopolitics, but also Eurasian geopolitics as a whole, which thus makes it an urgent priority for all.

Syria’s International Conference On Refugees Is A Masterclass In Balancing

By Andrew Korybko

Source

The kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror on Syria has mostly drawn to a close, as evidenced by the milestone event of the country hosting an international conference on the return of refugees, which resulted in several significant outcomes that speak to the masterful execution of its “balancing” strategy and raise hope that the Arab Republic will eventually transform into the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of China’s visionary W-CPEC+ corridor across Eurasia.

Strategically Disarming “Weapons Of Mass Migration”

Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees is a milestone event for the country’s war which shows that the kinetic phase of the Hybrid War of Terror against it has mostly drawn to a close. President Assad’s keynote speech saw the Syrian leader thanking his Russian and Iranian wartime allies for their help getting to this point and encouraging his compatriots abroad to finally return home. He claimed that some of their host countries are exploiting them for financial and other reasons, strongly hinting that they’re being used against their will as “Weapons of Mass Migration” like Ivy League scholar Kelly M. Greenhill earlier described such a phenomenon. In connection with that, President Assad condemned those states which continue to impose illegal sanctions against the Arab Republic, which has disincentivized some refugees from returning home and thus results in artificially perpetuating this historic humanitarian crisis that was initially sparked by their external war of regime change aggression against his people through terrorist means.

Syria’s “Balancing” Act

Thankfully, Syria can count on its Russian and Iranian wartime allies to help reconstruct the ruined country and thus facilitate the return of millions of refugees to their homeland. To this end, Russia promised to allocate $1 billion as well as open up a trade mission in Damascus while Iran suggested setting up an international fund for this purpose. Both countries seem poised to enter into a “friendly competition” with one another for reconstruction contracts and market space which can only work out to Syria’s ultimate benefit. The Arab Republic is therefore expected to retain its carefully calibrated “balancing” act between them, wisely doing its utmost to prevent the emergence of any complete dependence on either of them in the future. This strategy is consistent with what it’s always pursued over the decades and represents its masterful execution which too many other small- and medium-sized states previously attempted but to no avail. Even worse, many of Syria’s peers saw this strategy backfire on them, thus leading to either their ruin or full dependence on one partner.

Full credit goes to Syria’s world-class diplomats for being able to manage such a difficult policy with such success. Not only are they “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but they also managed to attract the important participation of other countries in their international refugee conference, most curious of which for some observers is Pakistan. Those who only casually follow Syrian affairs might have missed it, but Islamabad recently dispatched massive medical aid to the Arab Republic. This and its participation in the international conference show that the “global pivot state” (which the author previously referred to it as) is capable of bold foreign policy moves independent of its close American, Saudi, and Turkish partners. Pakistan, just like Syria, is also practicing its own “balancing” act between its aforementioned three traditional partners and its three newest ones of Russia, China, and Iran. In fact, it can be argued that Pakistan and Syria are in the process of synergizing their respective “balancing” strategies for the betterment of Eurasia.

Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria”

To explain, not only is Syria “balancing” between Russia and Iran, but also between India and Pakistan too. Although Damascus and Delhi have a long history of close relations, Presidential Advisor Bouthaina Shabaan told the Hindustan Times in August 2017 that her country is becoming hesitant about India’s role in its reconstruction after Prime Minister Modi’s highly publicized trip to “Israel” where he did everything from sign intergovernmental deals solidifying their de-facto alliance to even walking barefoot with Netanyahu along the beach. The author realized at the time that this is “Pakistan’s Serendipitous Chance In Syria” whereby Islamabad could flex its anti-Zionist credentials to present itself as a much more credible partner than pro-Zionist Delhi in pursuit of strengthening the two state’s historic relations that reached their high point in 1974 after a Pakistani pilot flying a Syrian jet shot down an “Israeli” fighter flying over the occupied Golan Heights. Syria’s diplomats were evidently receptive to Pakistan’s outreaches, hence the steady improvement of ties.

The Winding Road To W-CPEC+

It’s not just nostalgia for their Old Cold War-era ties nor their shared hatred of “Israel” that’s bringing them closer together nowadays, but pro-Chinese Silk Road pragmatism. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), and its western branch corridor (W-CPEC+) through Iran has the chance of not only reaching Russia by running parallel with the stalled North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) across Azerbaijan but can also extend as far as Syria via Iraq. China is the little-discussed third economic force apart from Russia and Iran which is engaged in a “friendly competition” with its partners to develop Syria, and the improvement of Syrian-Pakistani relations as is presently happening could result in W-CPEC+ extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Eastern Mediterranean through Iran, Iraq, and Syria, all of which are allied with one another. It’ll of course take a lot of political will from all sides — not least of all Pakistan — to see this ambitious vision through, but if successful, then it could revolutionize Mideast geopolitics.

All five countries — China, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and Syria — would benefit from this outcome. The People’s Republic is the world’s second-largest economy and actively eyeing more positions in the Eastern Mediterranean to complement its prospective ones in “Israel”, albeit via more geopolitically reliable mainland routes than the maritime ones connecting it to the self-professed “Jewish State”. Pakistan has an interest in bolstering its credential as the “global pivot state” by having CPEC serve as the platform for integrating Eurasia more closely together. Iran, which is desperately seeking all manner of sanctions relief, is reportedly negotiating a gargantuan economic agreement with China and would certainly benefit by facilitating more East-West trade through its territory. As for Russia, its recent control over Tartus means that it could profit from any Syrian export of Chinese products through that port. As for the Arab Republic itself, its expected benefit is that this vision would accelerate its reconstruction and allow it to finally actualize its pre-war “Five Seas Strategy”.

Concluding Thoughts

All told, Syria’s international conference on the return of refugees was about much more than just its titular topic. Reading between the lines of the details that have since been revealed about this milestone event, it was actually a masterclass in Syria’s “balancing” strategy. The Arab Republic proved that its diplomats are among the most highly skilled in the world after successfully “balancing” between Russia and Iran, as well as India and Pakistan, all with the aim of fulfilling its visionary “Five Seas Strategy” which some argue was partially responsible for provoking the Hybrid War of Terror that’s been viciously waged against it for almost an entire decade already. In the best-case scenario, Syria will eventually serve as the Eastern Mediterranean terminal point of the W-CPEC+ corridor connecting that strategic body of water with the Pacific Ocean via a several-country-long mainland commercial corridor. The successful fulfillment of this vision would revolutionize not only Mideast geopolitics, but also Eurasian geopolitics as a whole, which thus makes it an urgent priority for all.

روسيا وتركيا وسورية والوقت الأميركيّ الحرج هل يستفيد لبنان؟

ناصر قنديل

بينما كان العالم منشغلاً في معرفة اسم المرشح الرئاسي الأميركي الذي تؤيده موسكو، كنا منشغلين بوضع اللمسات الأخيرة على خطة شهور الانتقال بين ولايتين رئاسيتين أميركيتين، سواء للرئيس نفسه أو لرئيس آخر، هذا الكلام المنسوب لمسؤول في الفريق الروسي المتابع للسياسة الدولية، تبدو ترجمته قد بدأت عملياً على جبهتين محوريتين في مفهوم الأمن القومي الروسي، هما جبهة القوقاز والجبهة السورية، حيث ليس من باب المصادفة أن يتزامن ظهور دور الراعي الروسي في تثبيت وقف النار في ناغورني قره باغ مع انعقاد المؤتمر الخاص بعودة النازحين السوريين الى بلادهم، وليس خافياً أن الحركة الروسية في الملفين تقتنص الإنجاز من موقع الاشتباك مع مصالح وسياسات أميركية وإسرائيلية واضحة، وبالاحتكاك مع حركة تركية لا تنضبط تحت السقف الروسي وتسير على حافة خطوط التماس.

في أذربيجان قواعد عسكرية أميركية ونقاط ارتكاز إسرائيلية تتصل بمشروع الحرب مع إيران، وفي أرمينيا حكم يدور في الفلك الأميركي، وفي حرب ناغورني قره باغ بين أذربيجان وأرمينيا تمثل تركيا مشروعاً خاصاً بالتنسيق مع أذربيجان في مواجهة أرمينيا، والحركة الروسية تتوّج سريعاً وبأمر عمليات ينقل مئات الجنود من الشرطة العسكرية الروسية وآلياتهم، لفرض وقف للنار، في منطقة تتوسط دولتين غير مواليتين، للسياسات الروسية ولكن في بيئة جغرافية استراتيجية لم يعد ممكناً تجاهل ثقل الحضور الروسي فيها، خصوصاً مع متغيرات السنوات الأخيرة وما شهدته من تصاعد في الحضور العسكري الروسي، وترسم موسكو خطوطاً حمراء للدور التركي، وتضع أرمينيا مجدداً تحت إبطها، وتنتشر قواتها على خط تماس مع أذربيجان وبرضا حكومتها، بصورة تجعل مشهد الانتشار الأميركي والروسي في جغرافيا واحدة شبيهاً بالمشهد السوري.

في سورية يتصدّر الرئيسان السوري بشار الأسد والروسي فلاديمير بوتين، الدعوة لانعقاد مؤتمر النازحين عبر لقاء جمعهما قبل يوم من انعقاد المؤتمر المخصّص لعودة النازحين، وملف العودة منذ سنتين موضوع اهتمام الرئيس الروسي الذي أطلق مبادرة خاصة تجمّدت عند خطوط الاشتباك مع الأميركي، والالتزام العربي والأوروبي والأممي بالسقوف الأميركية، لكن هذه المرة نجح المؤتمر باجتذاب مشاركة الأمم المتحدة، ودولة الإمارات، ومشاركة لبنانية وازنة، وبدا أن المؤتمر قد تزامن مع قرارات سوريّة تشجيعيّة ذات أهمية لضمان العودة الواسعة، سواء عبر ما أعلنه الرئيس الأسد من اتجاه لاتخاذ إجراءات تتصل بالإعفاءات، أو بضمانات أمنية للذين كانوا على ضفاف المعارضة، أو عبر ما ترجمه كلام نائب وزير الخارجية السورية فيصل المقداد بالإعلان عن توجيهات الرئيس الأسد بتأمين المسكن والمدرسة والطبابة للعائدين.

خلال شهور ستكون أميركا في وضع حرج، في التعامل مع خيارات صعبة لمرحلة الانتقال، وموسكو المستعدّة لفرضيات متشائمة لا تعتقد بإمكانية تحققها عبر حماقات عسكرية وأمنية تخرج الوضع عن السيطرة، تضع ثقلها لفرض حقائق ووقائع جديدة، عنوانها وضع سورية على سكة مسار السلم الداخلي، وفقاً لضوابط جديدة للدور التركي، وملف عودة النازحين ومن خلفه مشروع إعادة الإعمار سيكونان على الطاولة، مع دعوة مفتوحة للأميركيين للانسحاب وللإسرائيليين بالتوقف عن العبث، ودعوة موازية للأوروبيين والعرب للانضمام لخيار السلم في سورية، بينما على ضفة موازية تتجه موسكو لحسم الوضع في القوقاز، الذي يشكل الانسحاب الأميركي والإسرائيلي سقفاً لا يمكن تفاديه للسياق الذي بدأ بانتشار الشرطة العسكرية الروسية، وحيث تركيا أيضاً مطالبة بالانتباه للخطوط الحمر الروسية، وحيث أوروبا مدعوة للخروج من سلبيتها.

لبنان أمام فرصة ذهبية ليكون ملف عودة النازحين من لبنان الى سورية، الترجمة الواقعية المتاحة. والتردّد هنا خسارة لبنانية قد يصعب تعويضها إذا ربط لبنان مصير عودة النازحين السوريين بساعة توقيت غير لبنانية.

Russia Affirms its Support to Syria Economically, Politically, and Militarily

September 9, 2020 Arabi Souri

Russia High-level Delegation in Damascus to Support Syria

Russian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs led a high-level delegation to the Syrian capital Damascus to affirm Moscow’s position towards its oldest continuous and reliable friend, and at times a close ally, in the face of an unprecedented dirty war of terror and attrition waged against it by the world’s superpowers and super-rich countries.

The delegation included the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and a host of business representatives, the visit included a meeting with President Bashar Assad and resulted in a number agreements covering the rebuilding of Syria’s infrastructure and emphasizing on Syria’s sovereignty, territorial unity and integrity.

In addition to facing the NATO-sponsored merciless terrorists, US proxy separatist militias, and the blockade, the COVID 19 measures added further burden to the Syrian economy, with sporadic forest fires in one of its remaining fertile regions not infested by the terrorists or occupation forces.

The following is a compiled report by the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news station covers the important outcomes of the visit and side of the press conference held by the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, and the Syrian and Russian foreign ministers Walid al-Muallem and Sergey Lavrov:

https://videopress.com/embed/VzcBrQzD?preloadContent=metadata&hd=1The video is also available on BitChute.

Transcript of the English translation:

The work on the Syrian track depends on what was reached between the Russian, Iranian and Turkish presidents, with the support and approval of the Syrian leadership, and that what unites the three countries’ views is seeking to prevent the Iraqi and Libyan scenario despite the differences in viewpoints.

With regard to the issue of Syria’s sovereignty, territorial unity, and integrity, all the charters and documents issued through the Astana track, like all the Russian-Turkish bilateral agreements, literally stipulate the two countries ’commitment to the sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of Syria, noting that the territories under the control of the Syrian government have expanded significantly after signing the additional Russian-Turkish memorandum.

Of course, there are significant differences in the positions of Moscow, Ankara, and Tehran on how to conduct the Syrian settlement, and we can see them in the statements of the representatives of these countries, but what unites Russia, Iran, and Turkey is the steadfast pursuit of preventing a recurrence of the Iraq or Libya scenario. Our joint action within the framework of the Astana process depends on the imperative of respecting the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Syria, the importance of preventing any external interference in its internal affairs, and the importance of preventing any external incitement to the separatist atmosphere.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said that the debate on the Syrian constitution will continue until an agreement is reached, indicating that what will come out of the constitutional committee will be submitted to a popular referendum.

Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem: With regard to the next constitution, this is up to what the members of the Constitutional Committee reach from both sides, if they want to amend the existing constitution or produce a new constitution, in both cases the product will be submitted to a popular referendum in order to ensure that it represents the widest popular representation.

There is no timetable for (preparing) the constitution. This constitution occupies special importance and a popular sanctity that cannot be completed in a hurry under pressure. This must be accomplished in a way that achieves the aspirations of the Syrian people. The debate on it will continue until they reach an understanding among themselves, and it has nothing to do with the presidential elections.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Yuri Borisov, said: Most of the areas rich in natural resources are outside the control of the Syrian government, which constitutes an obstacle to the Syrian trade, given that it is an important source of revenue.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Yuri Borisov: Unfortunately, we have to admit that most areas rich in oil and gas are currently outside the control of the Syrian government, bearing in mind that the gas and oil trade were an important source of revenue for the Syrian budget and the same is related to fertile agricultural areas, and this fact harms food security Syria is also forced to import oil and grains after it was exporting them. The draft of the new agreement on expanding commercial, industrial, and economic cooperation between Russia and Syria includes more than 40 new projects, including reconstruction projects for energy institutions and infrastructure for the energy sector, in addition to the reconstruction of a number of hydroelectric power stations that were built by the Union (USSR) or with the participation of Soviet experts, in addition, a work contract has been signed for a Russian company on the Syrian coast to extract oil at sea, and this contract is awaiting its ratification.

The tragic situation in Syria and these obstacles are caused by the destructive position of the American administration, in addition to the unwillingness of the Kurds to communicate with Damascus and hand over control to the legitimate government in Damascus over the agricultural areas and oil and gas fields.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is in Damascus for the first time in eight years, accompanied by a large delegation, to strengthen relations between Moscow and Damascus.

Economically, Moscow seemed to continue to strengthen economic cooperation through agreements to be signed between Russia and Syria. Politically, regarding the Syrian presidential elections, Lavrov was clear by saying: The elections are the sovereign decision of the Syrian Arab Republic. While it was confirmed by Minister Al-Moallem that the Syrian presidential elections are taking place on schedule next year.

Minister Lavrov’s statements did not deviate from the expectations and readings prior to his arrival in Damascus. The Russian minister folded the eight years from the time of his first visit and the Syrian war with three titles as a way out that Damascus needs to get out of the complexities of the crisis, in the work of the Constitutional Committee, economic cooperation, and the completion of the war on terror.

It was not arbitrary that the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Yuri Borisov, sat on one platform with the Russian and Syrian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Al-Muallem. Giving the economic dimension a place in the visit to Damascus was one of its most important goals in the agreements to rebuild the infrastructure in the energy and economy sector and expand Russian investments to alleviate the consequences of Caesar’s sanctions.

The few hours in the presidential palace also carried many messages, and the presidential statement went beyond just pre-registering the points of agreement between the two parties, but turned into a message about a partnership to be held in the war on economic sanctions and overcoming the blockade.

President Assad Receives Visiting Russian Delegation Headed by Dy PM Borisov and FM Lavrov
Russian Delegation in Damascus Meet President Assad
Russian Delegation Meeting President Bashar Assad

The meeting confirmed the continuation of the political process through the Astana track, which set a horizon and an exit point for the war in the hands of Moscow, Tehran, and Damascus, and continues to neutralize the Western powers that seek to divide Syria, and in the work of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva without a timetable for rewriting or amending the constitution, and there is no political solution except from inside Syria. According to UN Resolution 2254, in conjunction with the elimination of the remaining hotbeds of terrorism, to prevent a recurrence of the Libya and Iraq scenario in Syria.

Moscow sends to Damascus a high-level political and economic delegation to re-establish the general lines of its strategy in support of the Syrian state, and Moscow realizes that its position in the Syrian file is an essential part of its rise again in the world, but it is also mainly in ensuring fundamental issues that confirm the unity of soil and the Syrian map.

Dima Nassif – Damascus, Al-Mayadeen

End of the report by Al Mayadeen

When the whole world’s economies struggle from the consequences of COVID 19 and the strict measures implemented to contain it, the western hypocrite and criminal officials doubled-down their sanctions on the Syrian people, who are still fighting ISIS which the west itself claim is the worst terrorist organization, claiming they are helping them by killing them slowly, Trump imposed his Caesar Act regime of sanctions, not applied to any other country on the planet, and the European Union renewed their draconian sanctions for a further year.

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موسكو ومشروع جذب فرنسا إلى سورية تحت عنوان الإعمار

ناصر قنديل

أن تكون زيارة وفد حكوميّ روسيّ رفيع الى دمشق هي الزيارة الثانية لوزير الخارجية الروسيّة سيرغي لافروف لسورية، فذلك يعني رمزيّة يُراد لها أن تؤشر لما هو غير عادي، وأن يقول لافروف في ختام الزيارة إن عودة الوضع الطبيعيّ في سورية بنسبة كبيرة يفتح ملف إعادة الإعمار كأولوية، وأهمية حشد الدعم الدولي لذلك، فهذا يعني أن ثمة في المضمون ما يدعو لمناقشة على درجة عالية من الجدية للمشهد الدولي والإقليمي وبلورة توجهات تتصل بتحديد الوجهات المستهدفة في عملية إعادة الإعمار على خلفيّة سقوط الرهانات الخارجية على العبث بالاستقرار الداخلي في سورية، ونجاح مشروع الدولة السورية في فرض حضوره والصمود بوجه التحديات بدعم مستمر ونوعي وثابت من الحلفاء، فماذا عساه يكون، إضافة لما يمكن أن يقدمه تعزيز دعم الحلفاء في روسيا وإيران للدولة السورية وتعزيز التعاون الاقتصادي مع القطاعين العام والخاص في سورية، ليحتاج اللقاء على هذا المستوى من الأهمية التي أريد تسليط الضوء عليها؟

خلال سنوات قليلة مضت كانت روسيا وهي تقدم نموذج علاقتها مع تركيا، بالتعاون مع إيران، تتوجّه نحو الحلقة الثانية من التموضع في صفوف حلف الحرب على سورية، للانتقال من ضفة الحرب إلى ضفة السلم، والحلقة الثانية تمثلها فرنسا المهتمّة منذ زمن بإعادة الإعمار في سورية، وفي عيون موسكو أن الوقت حان لباريس التي تدرك وصول الحرب على سورية إلى طريق مسدود، كما تدرك حجم التوازن الذي تحرص عليه موسكو بين أنقرة وباريس في ليبيا، تعرف وقد بدأت مهمة رعاية النهوض الاقتصادي في لبنان من بوابة التسوية السياسية، أن البداية من لبنان تعني التحضير للتوجه نحو سورية، العمق الطبيعي للاقتصاد اللبناني، وممره الإلزامي نحو الأسواق العربية في الخليج والعراق، وعمقه السياسي في بيئة استراتيجية يشكل النفط والغاز طرفها الأول، والصراع بين محور المقاومة والحلف الأميركي الإسرائيلي طرفها الثاني، وتقف روسيا على نقاط ومفاصل هاتين المعادلتين بدقة تعرفها باريس، تفتح الطريق الموازي الذي لا بد منه لمبادرة فرنسية تسير بين النقاط في المعادلتين على الضفة اللبنانية، لا تكتمل من دون أن تتحصن بالتوجه نحو سورية.

فرنسا بعيون روسية تمثل ثلاث معادلات ترسم موقفها وموقعها، فهي شريك روسيا في التمسك بالاتفاق النووي الإيراني الذي خرجت منه واشنطن، ومؤخراً وقفت فرنسا مع روسيا في وجه المسعى الأميركي لتجديد الحظر على السلاح على إيران خلافاً لما ينص عليه الاتفاق النووي، وفرنسا منافس لتركيا في المتوسط وتحتاج لتوازن دولي وإقليمي معها على مستوى الفاعلين في البيئة الاستراتيجية الواحدة، وطرف التوازن هنا هو روسيا وإيران، وهما على تواصل مع فرنسا وسمعتا منها رغبة واضحة بالتعاون الإقليمي الذي تعرف فرنسا أن بوابته سورية، وفرنسا أظهرت في لبنان رغبة بتوجيه رسالة مفادها أنها لا تأتي لتنفيذ أجندة تقييد وحصار الحليف اللبناني لروسيا وإيران في سورية الذي يمثله حزب الله، الحليف الاستراتيجي للدولة السورية الذي يحمّله بعض خصوم سورية مسؤولية هزيمتهم في الحرب عليها، ولدى فرنسا معطيات كافية عن مساع تركية لطلب الدعم من حزب الله وروسيا وإيران لوراثة الدورين السعودي والفرنسي في لبنان، مقابل تنازلات تركيّة في سورية، ولم تلق الدعوات التركية الاستجابة التي كانت تسعى إليها أنقرة.

موسكو التي تعمل على خطّ حوار بين الدولة السورية والجماعات الكردية التي تربطها علاقات مميزة بفرنسا، ضمن معادلة خروج أميركي سلس من سورية، كما تعمل على توسيع نطاق الترتيبات المشتركة مع تركيا في منطقة ادلب لتعزيز الاستقرار وتقدّم مسار حضور الدولة السورية بالتوازي مع تقدّم المسار السياسي الذي كانت تعتبره فرنسا شرطاً للتقدم نحو مشروع إعادة الإعمار، هي موسكو التي تعلن عن أولوية إعادة إعمار سورية وحشد الدعم الدولي لها لتمنح فرنسا فرصة تلتقطها لبلورة صورة أشمل للدور المتوسطي لفرنسا الذي لا يكتمل بدون الحلقة السورية، وفي سورية دولة رفضت علاقات تحت الطاولة عرضها الفرنسيون مراراً، وكان جوابها على مثل هذه الدعوات المتكررة أن الأولوية هي لعودة العلاقات الدبلوماسية، وأن السفارة الفرنسية في دمشق هي الجهة الصالحة لبحث كل الأمور ذات الاهتمام المشترك.

في زمن عقوبات قانون قيصر تبدو فرنسا مدعوة لموقف مشابه تجاه سورية من الموقف تجاه لبنان، بالفصل بين مسار الإعمار في سورية ومسار المواجهة الأميركية مع إيران، أسوة بمسعى الفصل بين إنقاذ الاقتصاد اللبناني ومسار المواجهة ذاته.

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Battleground Beirut: Western colony or back to the East?

Battleground Beirut: Western colony or back to the East?

August 12, 2020

By Pepe Escobar – republished from Asia Times by permission of author

As much as Covid-19 has been instrumentalized by the 0.001% to social engineer a Great Reset, the Beirut tragedy is already being instrumentalized by the usual suspects to keep Lebanon enslaved.

Facing oh so timely color revolution-style “protests”, the current Lebanese government led by Prime Minister Diab has already resigned. Even before the port tragedy, Beirut had requested a $10 billion line of credit from the IMF – denied as long as trademark, neoliberal Washington consensus “reforms” were not implemented: radical slashing of public expenses, mass layoffs, across the board privatization.

Post-tragedy, President Emmanuel Macron – who’s not even capable of establishing a dialogue with the Gilets Jaunes/Yellow Vests in France – has opportunistically jumped in full neocolonial mode to pose as “savior” of Lebanon, as long as the same “reforms”, of course, are implemented.

On Sunday, France and the UN organized a videoconference to coordinate donor response – in conjunction with the European Commission (EC), the IMF and the World Bank. The result was not exactly brilliant: a paltry 252 million euros were pledged – once again conditioned by “institutional reforms”.

France came up with 30 million euros, Kuwait with 40 million, Qatar with 50 million and the EC with 68 million. Crucially, neither Russia nor Iran were among the donors. The US – which is harshly sanctioning Lebanon – and GCC allies Saudi Arabia and UAE pledged nothing. China had just a pro forma presence.

In parallel, Maronite Christians in Brazil – a very powerful community – are sending funds for the color revolution protests. Former President Michel Temer and industrialist tycoon Paulo Skaf even flew to Beirut. Former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel (1982-1988) maintained a lot of businesses in Brazil with funds he skimmed when in power.

All of the above points to neoliberalism taking no prisoners when it comes to keeping its deadly grip on Lebanon.

The Hariri model

Lebanon’s profound economic crisis, now aggravated by the Beirut port blast, has nothing to do with Covid-19 or the US proxy war on Syria – which brought a million refugees to the nation. It’s all about proverbial neoliberal shock and awe, conducted non-stop by the Hariri clan: former Prime Ministers Rafiq, assassinated in 2011, and Saad, chased out of power last January.

The Hariri model was focused on real estate speculation and financialization. The Solidere group, controlled by Arab investors and a few Lebanese, Hariri included, destroyed Beirut’s historical downtown and rebuilt it with luxury real estate. That’s the classical rentier neoliberalism model that always profits a tiny elite.

In parallel, the Bank of Lebanon was attracting funds from the tony Lebanese diaspora and assorted Arab investors by practicing very generous interest rates. Lebanon suddenly had an artificially strong currency.

A small middle class sort of flourished throughout the 2000s, comprising import-export traders, the tourism sector and financial market operators. Yet, overall, inequality was the name of the game. According to the World Inequality Database, half of Lebanon’s population now holds less wealth that the top 0.1%.

The bubble finally burst in September last year, when I happened to be in Beirut. With no US dollars in circulation, the Lebanese pound started to collapse in the black market. The Bank of Lebanon went berserk. When the Hariri racket imposed a “Whatsapp tax” over calls, that led to massive protests in October. Capital embarked on free flight and the currency collapsed for good.

There’s absolutely no evidence the IMF, the World Bank and assorted Western/Arab “donors” will extricate a now devastated Lebanon from the neoliberal logic that plunged it into a systemic crisis in the first place.

The way out would be to focus in productive investments, away from finance and geared towards the practical necessities of an austerity-battered and completely impoverished population.

Yet Macron, the IMF and their “partners” are only interested in keeping monetary “stability”; seduce speculative foreign capital; make sure that the rapacious, Western-connected Lebanese oligarchy will get away with murder; and on top of it buy scores of Lebanese assets for peanuts.

BRI or bust

In stark contrast with the exploitative perpetuation of the Western neoliberal model, China is offering Lebanon the chance to Go East, and be part of the New Silk Roads.

In 2017, Lebanon signed to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

In 2018, Lebanon became the 87th member of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Over the past few years, Lebanon was already taking part in the internationalization of the yuan, offering bank accounts in yuan and increasing bilateral trade in yuan.

Beijing was already engaged in discussions revolving around the upgrading of Lebanese infrastructure – including the expansion of Beirut harbor.

This means that now Beijing may be in the position of offering a renewed, joint rebuilding/security deal for Beirut port – just as it was about to clinch a smaller agreement with Diab’s government, focused only on expansion and renovation.

The bottom line is that China has an actual Plan A to extricate Lebanon from its current financial dead end.

And that’s exactly what was, and remains, total anathema to US, NATO and Israel’s interests.

The Trump administration recently went no holds barred to prevent Israel from having China develop the port of Haifa.

The same “offer you can’t refuse” tactics will be applied with full force on whoever leads the new Lebanese government.

Beirut is an absolutely key node in BRI’s geopolitical/geoeconomic connectivity of the Eastern Mediterranean. With Haifa temporarily out of the picture, Beirut grows in importance as a gateway to the EU, complementing the role of Pireus and Italian ports in the Adriatic.

It’s crucial to note that the port itself was not destroyed. The enormous crater on site replaces only a section quayside – and the rest is on water. The buildings destroyed can be rebuilt in record time. Reconstruction of the port is estimated at $15 billion – pocket money for an experienced company such as China Harbor.

Meanwhile, naval traffic is being redirected to Tripoli port, 80 km north of Beirut and only 30 km away from the Lebanon-Syria border. Its director, Ahmed Tamer, confirms “the port has witnessed during the past years the expansion work by Chinese companies, and it has received the largest ships from China, carrying a big number of containers”.

Add to it the fact that Tripoli port will also be essential in the process of Syria reconstruction – to which China is totally committed.

BRI’s Southwest Asia connectivity network is a maze including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

China is already planning to invest in highway and railroads, further to be developed into high-speed rail. That will connect BRI’s central China-Iran corridor – fresh from the $400 billion, 25-year strategic partnership deal soon to be signed – with the Eastern Mediterranean.

Add to it the role of the port of Tartus in Syria – bearing a strong Russian naval presence. Beijing will inevitably invest in the expansion of Tartus – which is crucially linked by highway to Lebanon. The Russia-China strategic partnership will be involved in the protection of Tartus with S-300 and S-400 missile systems.

Historically, in a larger axis that went from Samarkand to Cordoba, with strong nodes such as Baghdad and Damascus, what slowly evolved in this part of Eurasia was a syncretic civilization superimposed over an ancestral regional, rural and nomad background. The internal cohesion of the Muslim world was forged from the 7th century to the 11th century: that was the key factor that shaped the lineaments of a coherent Eurasia.

Apart from Islam, Arabic – the language of religion, administration, trade and culture – was an essential unifying factor. This evolving Muslim world was configured as a vast economic and cultural domain whose roots connected to Greek, Semitic, Persian, Indian and Arab thought. It was a marvelous synthesis that formed a unique civilization out of elements of different origin – Persian, Mesopotamian, Byzantine.

The Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean were of course part of it, totally open towards the Indian Ocean, the Caspian routes, Central Asia and China.

Now, centuries later, Lebanon should have everything to gain by ditching the “Paris of the Orient” mythology and looking East – again, thus positioning itself on the right side of History.

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.

The US Lost in Syria – So Now They’re After Their Business and Military Affiliates

Source

By Mona El-Hajj

The US Lost in Syria – So Now They’re After Their Business and Military Affiliates

Beirut – After 9 years of a war which had torn, killed and exiled millions from their homeland, Syria has fought hawkish NATO powers and diabolic militias which devastated the country. However, unlike Libya and Iraq whose land has been destroyed and economically annexed by US, their allies and proxies, Syria approaches the finish line as Gulf and other foreign investors set foot on Syrian land to discuss post-war reconstruction efforts.

With that being said, it would be naive to assume that Syria will be able to reconstruct without a fight. As US foreign policy fails miserably before the entire planet, they’re betting on their last chips – an optimistic venture – that they still have a chance at crushing the Syrian government. The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which does anything but protect civilians, came into effect on June 17. According to the US State Department, the sanction bill is to hold the Syrian government accountable for the ‘widespread death of civilians’ and to seek ‘justice for those suffering under the [Syrian President Bashar] Assad regime’s brutality’ – baseless allegations deflated by renowned journalists around the world, such as Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett, who have visited and explored Syria throughout the war as opposed to “experts” who haven’t read a shred of its history.

Independent Journalists Vanessa Beeley & Eva Bartlett Puncture the ...

As Syria’s UN Representative Bashar al-Jaafari puts it, the Caesar bill isn’t much different than the previous sanctions, but instead serves as a form of psychological warfare to frustrate the Syrian population further. The major difference is that this time, any individual or business who wish to deal with the government are condemned and sanctioned.

Although Pompeo reinforced that the sanctions are to hold the regime accountable on their own terms, this is fraudulent on many counts. The sanctions do not aim to punish President Assad himself, but rather worsen the humanitarian hell in which people have been living under in the past 9 years (and, crushing the Lebanese Resistance on their way). As Pompeo smugly articulates in his press statement, “the United States remains committed to working with the UN and international partners to bring life-saving assistance to the Syrian people.” What would muddle with logic here is that, if the US were so concerned with the welfare of the Syrian people, why have US forces burnt down over 200 dunums of wheat, barley and other crop fields in Hasaka before the sanctions came into effect?  If the United Nations is a credible humanitarian organization that assists those in need, why hasn’t it condemned the US burning of crop fields?

Sanctions don’t ‘change political behavior’ of regimes and enforce ‘accountability for human rights abuses;’ this theory has proven nil statistical significance. Sanctions starve people, deprive them of basic necessities like oil and gas and hold essential medication from them under the sunshade of ‘dual use’. Morality, morbidity and trauma rates go higher, and under maximum pressure, their effects last for generations. Given the reality that sanctions have almost never resulted in ‘regime change,’ then they are just a sadistic pursuit by the Global North to punish people for resisting imperialism. It is sufficient to take a good look at Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, whose governance have become nearly immune to international pressure.

Once again, the US is dictating the world who to normalize relations with and who not to. They coerce the world who to be friends with and who not to. On its way, it hacks its way into the scene, tells Lebanon, an economic and military ally to Syria, that they will be punished if they were to trade with their own neighbor. As if Sykes-Picot wasn’t enough to divide West Asia, this is a clear reattempt at destroying any form of unison between the two countries and thus instantiating divide through economic restrictions and punishment.

Syria, an already war-torn country, is flattened by an economic crisis and shortages as a result of 9 years of war trauma. While Lebanon, minus the sanctions, today suffers from the depreciation of the Lira and one of the worst economic crises in its history since the 1975 Civil War. With the rise of the dollar crisis in Lebanon, the IMF, the Lebanese Central Bank and other institutions hold back dollar injections into the country, fueling a high demand and short supply. Knowing that goods are largely imported in Lebanon, the currency of transaction is naturally by the dollar, which has recently started to smother entire households making ends meet on low incomes. Syria, a country which has criminalized the use of dollar on land, enjoys strong economic ties with Lebanon, through which they deal by the Lira. This entails that the function of the sanctions isn’t only to affect Syria alone, but it is also to cut Lebanon’s main trade partner which only exacerbates the dollar crisis in the country. Wishful thinking-ly, America’s proxy, “Israel”, through such a tactic, thinks they could coerce Hezbollah into trading its weapons for food.

From infrastructure and basic necessities comes security, and America’s parasite – “Israel” – cannot allow for a strong, stable Syria to heal, and a Lebanon which continually threatens their existence. As Lebanon has recently transitioned into a new government, with a new prime minister and cabinet, MSM has turned to paint it as ‘Hezbollah-led government’ in attempt to delegitimize and punish it on the short run. Under such premise, “Israel” pushes America into a cost-effective war to crush Hezbollah – not militarily – but through sanctioning the Lebanese government, which has a high possibility given the terms and conditions of the Caesar Act. Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah reassured the Lebanese that the government will not end trade with Syria, and neither will the community starve. Deviating the economic hues of the country to the East seemed like a plausible solution, proposing more ties with China and Iran. The world awaits the repercussions of economic terrorism, which will eventually end up in defeat as it always has.

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