The Myth of Peace in the Middle East: Deconstructing the Naturalization Narrative

April 16, 2021Articles,

American-Israeli delegation visit to Morocco in December 2020. (Photo: US Embassy Jerusalem, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Mohamed El Metmari

This critical essay deconstructs the political narrative surrounding the naturalization agreements that have occurred between some Arab countries and Israel formally known as the Abrahamic Accords or Jared Kushner’s plan for peace in the Middle East. It offers unique perspectives and analysis of these accords and their true geopolitical intentions. Primarily, it argues how the peace promised by these newly established ties remains just a myth as it explores the true objectives behind them. Interestingly enough, it also highlights the true goals behind the U.S’ mediations in these Accords.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is one of the hottest yet unresolved political issues of today. Whereas this conflict is not heading towards any resolutions soon, the recent naturalization agreements that have occurred between some Arab regimes and the apartheid state of Israel may mark a future shift in Middle East’s political scene.

Earlier to these agreements, boycotting Israel was these Arab nations’ approach to show support for Palestinians and their claims. Before 2020, only two bordering countries have had diplomatic ties with Israel; that is, Egypt and Jordan. This number has risen to six as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco have set full diplomatic and economic relations with Israel as part of Jared Kushner’s plan for peace in the Middle East known formally as the Abrahamic Accords.

Celebrating the first occurrence of the Abrahamic Accords, Trump hosted a signing ceremony in the White House and had the following rash statement to announce: “We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history. After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East.” By this politically immature statement, Trump seemed as if he had finally found a solution to the conflict in the region.

As for peace in the region is concerned, Jared Kushner’s peace plans do not make any sense. Apart from Sudan, none of the countries involved with these accords are in conflict with Israel. On the opposite, Morocco and so the Gulf States have retained very healthy diplomatic relations with Israel, even if they were undeclared publicly. For instance, Morocco has had a fair share of intelligence-sharing with Israel since the mid-sixties. On top of that, the two countries had liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat from Sept. 1, 1994, to Oct. 23, 2000. Not to mention Morocco’s contribution in populating Israel by handing over its Jewish population to the newly established Jewish state during the reign of the Moroccan king Hassan II.

Granted, Israel supports the totalitarian regimes of the region mainly because these totalitarianisms do not demand accountability for its human rights and international law violations. Hence, most Arab dictatorships have been dealing with Israel on political and security levels; especially after the outbreak of the Arab spring where these regimes had to obtain the latest spying and security tech to topple every dissident in their population who desires regime change. Whereas the case of the Washington Post’s correspondent Jamal Khashoggi remains the most covered case, Amnesty International has reported that Moroccan journalist Omar Radi’s phone has also been infected with the Israeli Pegasus spyware.

The Myth of Peace: Deception, Expansion and Dispossession.

Each time an Arab country initiates full diplomatic relations with Israel, its local propaganda machine makes it look as a major historical event that has occurred in the country. Some media outlets have gone far with this. For example, they take the religious tolerance preached in the Muslim faith as a pretext for setting these normalization agreements with this ‘Jewish’ nation. Other media platforms, however, have beautified the image of Israel’s apartheid regime via elaborate historical descriptions of Jewish culture and heritage. This is not wrong at all, but what is wrong is to evoke this history only at this particular event ignoring Israel’s present violations of International Law and Human rights and most of all occupation of Palestinian lands. This is why it is easy to deconstruct the naturalization narrative and prove that it is just a myth.

First of all, the context of these agreements was preceded and controlled by the 2020 US elections. Trump’s administration had tried to convince the American public that it will be the first administration that ends the conflict in the Middle East and thus planning on gaining a potential leverage in the election race. But despite the occurrence of the Abrahamic Accords last year and even Trump’s administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, 2017, it still was not enough to win Trump the approval of the devastated American public. This is mainly because Americans wanted Trump out of the White House at any cost; even if it meant choosing the lesser evil of the two candidates in the elections.

Meanwhile, these events come as a perfect opportunity to boost the reputation of the Likud party and more specifically the reputation of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whose image has been stained by his corruption and monopoly of the Israeli political scene. Unlike Trump, the chances of him getting replaced in the upcoming Israeli elections are relatively low because of his firm grip on power and the lack of his equal in the Israeli political arena. Furthermore, with the massive press coverage that comes with such events, Netanyahu, similarly to Trump, wanted the spotlights on him to distract the public from his administration’s terrible handling of Covid-19 and thus gaining significant leverage in the elections.

Second, the biggest gain for Israel from these new ties with the Arab States and Morocco is that it reinforces its political influence in the Middle East. Not only this, but unlocking Israel’s geo-political isolation in the region as well. And since this newly granted influence to Israel is an approved one, it gives it freedom to expand and occupy more without any opposition. Of course, if Israel is gaining a legitimate influence in the region, this means that Palestine’s position will exacerbate. And thus the Palestinian cause will no longer have the leverage it has on the Middle Eastern political scene.

Furthermore, Israel’s decision to create ties with the Gulf countries in specific is not arbitrary. This move was motivated by economic reasons. As it is known, the Khaleeji people are the biggest consumers in the region. Hence the khaleeji market becomes a perfect destination for Israeli goods. Israeli products, foods in specific, can even replace other products coming from other countries because of the close distance and the low shipping costs. Additionally, Sudan may not offer much as markets are concerned, but it is definitely a great source of agricultural imports for Israel. Being the mediator between Israel and its “new” allies, the US benefits from these agreements as well since it is Israel’s biggest ally. After all, any ongoing political conflict between Israel and any of the Middle Eastern countries is primarily endangering US’ political and economic interests in the region. In other words, the mediation of the US in these so-called Peace agreements is not out of a sort of altruism because the US is only after its share of the pie.

Third, to say that these newly established ties will bring “peace” to the region is ludicrous and rash but not totally wrong. But for whom this peace is served; for Palestine, for the Arab States, or for Israel? To give a rather simple and short answer, it is apt to say it remains just a myth for the Palestinians in specific, but it means more security and power for the Israeli side in particular. To put it differently, with Israel having full diplomatic ties with these Arab countries and Morocco, it becomes easy for it to carry its annexation plans and dispossession of Palestinian lands without being held accountable. And the Palestinians are likely to be displaced gradually and implicitly to one of these countries. Apparently, Morocco and the rich Gulf states are the biggest fish that Israel could ever come to terms with. Since they provide financial comfort and political stability, some Palestinians may choose these destinations over their currently Israeli-occupied and war-inflected homes.

However, it is worth mentioning that the Emiratis as well as the Saudis despise the Palestinians. Hence, the Palestinians will never accept the reality of being displaced to one of these two countries. Meanwhile, this does not apply to either Kuwait or Oman in which do not have a strong political influence in the region. Apart from Morocco, they maybe the desired destination Israel is looking for to displace the Palestinians to after annexing their lands. Whether the two countries agree to normalize relations with Israel in the future or not, it does not really matter as long they are subservient to UAE and Saudi Arabia. Apparently, the Palestinians are likely to resist as they usually do.

Concurrently, Israel is likely to pressure them to accept this bitter reality as it has been doing for the last decades. Hence, Israel will possibly seek not only to increase its siege and pressure on the borders and checkpoints, but it may also instigate a war with Hamas as a pretext for a military escalation. Hamas, on the other hand, will be, as always, scapegoated for the whole thing especially that it is classified as a terrorist organization. Therefore, the peace that Israel is seeking is a peace with the Palestinians out of Palestine.

However, Israel is not the only benefactor from these agreements. Clearly, the Gulf States have paid for US military protection by signing these accords. But UAE in specific have had further arms deals and gained even more political protection against the Iranian influence in the Arab peninsula. Nonetheless, when a country signs a peace deal, it does not instantly demand acquirement of advanced F-35 stealth Jet, which is what this Gulf State did, because the two are paradoxical. Therefore, in opposition to the classic definitions of peace treaties, the brokered peace from these agreements is a purchased one like many peace agreements that have been signed before it in the region. After all, Sudan agreed to normalize relations with Israel so it is de-listed from the state-sponsors of terror, the Gulf States signed them as a payment for US military protection and Morocco got support for its sovereignty over Western Sahara.

Therefore, as all the purchased peace agreements the Middle East has witnessed over modern history- whether it is peace for land, peace in exchange of monopoly or what have you- this one is also doomed to be broken by conflict since it is not based on a balanced compromise where two equal parties meet in the middle. Rather, it is a political move towards accumulation of power where the main side of this conflict, meaning the Palestinians, is not even included in these agreements.

The US, Morocco, and Israel: A Geopolitical Chess Game over Africa

The fact that Israel has pursued diplomatic relations with Morocco- a country so far away from the Middle East’s political discourse- is by no means for peace as it is claimed by any of the Accords’ orchestrators. The moment it was announced that Morocco was to resume relations with Israel, Moroccan propaganda machines overshadowed the controversies that come with this event by preaching to the public about the Moroccan Jewish heritage and the coexistence of the Abrahamic religions in this homogeneous sphere. This normalization was depicted as a win-win situation for Morocco especially that Trump has rewarded Morocco’s approval of its resumption of relations with the apartheid regime by signing a presidential proclamation that recognizes Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.

The celebrations following this recognition covered up totally for the naturalization. This proclamation has even become an independent narrative of its own. The official discourse in Moroccan media has asserted that this recognition is the fruit of long-lasting diplomatic ties between Morocco and the US and not as a part of the Abrahamic Accords. Moreover, many factors influence politics, but altruism is not one of them. Taking the fact that Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the US in 1777, and the two countries long diplomatic relations, it stands as a surprise that it took so much time for the US to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara or at least support its claim diplomatically.

Meanwhile, political terminology is important here because Moroccan media had it intentionally mixed up to alleviate the Moroccan public’s rage. Trump’s presidential proclamation does not recognize the Western Sahara region as a Moroccan entity as they have claimed, but it only recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over it. These are two different things, because Morocco has already been practicing sovereignty over the region although with some difficulties mainly caused by intense altercations with the Algerian-backed Polisario Front. The only thing that Morocco has needed is legitimacy and this proclamation happens to be it. Obviously, this is a simple treat from the US for Morocco’s acceptance of the resumption of relations with Israel.

Nevertheless, the majority of the Moroccan public welcomed Trump’s move, but they abhorred Morocco’s establishment of ties with Israel. Nasser Bourita, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, has refused to call this an act of “naturalization” of relations. For him, normalization is a Middle Eastern term that does not apply to Morocco which is not a neighboring country to Israel. Indeed, Morocco’s North African location and its large indigenous Amazigh population make it hard to proclaim the country as purely Arab.

Bourita has preferred using the term “resumption” of relations instead. As mentioned earlier, Morocco and Israel had Liaison offices in Tel Aviv and Rabat before Morocco had to close their office in response to Israeli repression of the second Palestinian Intifada in 2000. Not to mention, there is a number of almost 800.000 Jews of Moroccan decent living in Israel right now.

Obviously, Israel remains the biggest benefactor from these naturalization agreements. However, the US did not take part in them without purpose. The existence of Israel in the Middle East protects American interests in the region. That is why Zionist lobbies in the US always do their best to empower this regime. And this is what AIPAC is doing and what Christians United for Israel and other Zionist lobbies are doing. As a result, this support for the apartheid regime enables the US to retain its firm grip on Middle East’s political and economic affairs. These are all facts now. But the case of Morocco is still a uniquely dubious one. Pressing Morocco – a country so far away from The Middle East’s frenzy and even terminology to sign these deals seems confusing to say the least; especially that Morocco is not a rich country like the Gulf States.

However, ever since Morocco’s rejoining the African Union in 2017, many countries and the US particularly have started to look for ways to intensify their relations with this African country more than before. To illustrate, Morocco’s main weapon supplies come from the US. Granted, the influence of the US embassy in Rabat has surpassed diplomatic lines to influencing Moroccan cultural context and even influencing Moroccan academia via its grants and many programs and English learning courses. This soft pressure changes the structure of Moroccan society with time. As of now, although French is the official second language in Morocco, the majority of Moroccan youth, many of whom have benefited from US grants and programs, speak English. This is not bad at all, but again, politics is the game of interests and not altruisms. Implemented in these courses and grants are soft ideologies that create sympathy and acceptance of US values and democracy in the Moroccan community. In the long run, acceptance of the US image rises even if its intentions in the region are not necessarily benevolent.

To connect this to the question at hand, Morocco remains the US’ key holder to the African Union and African countries. This strategic move to invest in Morocco politically and economically and then support its sovereignty over its full territorial land comes as the price for infiltrating a fertile network of rising African economies. Hence, these countries become perfect investment destinations for the US. And although China is the biggest player in Africa as economy is involved, not counting the previous colonial powers of Africa, the US is doing the best it can to take this role in the near future. After its degrading failure to do so under pretexts of humanitarian aid and war on terror, the UShas finally chosen this diplomatic direction to overtake Russian and Chinese influences in Africa. It is hence a perfectly played chess game over geopolitical expansion and power. Peace and human rights preached in these agreements however, are turned into industries that are used to further their dominance and hegemony.

Additionally, what makes Morocco exceptional is its officials’ diplomatic maturity and its political stability in comparison to the Middle East and other African countries. Also, Morocco’s ability to repay its debts boosts foreign investors’ confidence to embark on the Moroccan market. Not to mention, Morocco itself needs this kind of political and economic partnership and support as it seeks to take the lead as an African power. However, this pursuit remains far-fetched without having full sovereignty over its lands or without having strong allies.

Meanwhile, Moroccan King Mohamed VI has confirmed that Morocco’s position on Palestine remains unchanged. He has also affirmed that he places his country’s territorial issue and the Palestinian cause at the same level, and that the kingdom will use its new position to push for a conflict resolution in the region. Thus, Morocco is playing it as safe as it could as it is placing itself neither with the current, nor against it.

All in all, Morocco and the Arab regimes’ decision to normalize relations with Israel is not promising of any lasting peace between Palestine and Israel simply because Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories will gain significant legitimacy from the establishment of these diplomatic ties. Especially that these Arab States are not democratic themselves so they can account it for its infringement of international law and human rights. Granted, since the Palestinian question, the right of self-determination and the right of return are not included in the official discourse of these peace agreements, a resolution for the Palestinian- Israeli conflict remains just a myth that appears to be tangible with propaganda and exclusionary media narratives.

– Mohamed El Metmari is an independent writer and researcher affiliated with the faculty of Letters and Humanities of Abdelmalek Essaadi University, Martil, Morocco. He is an Open Hands Initiative’s Conflict Resolution alumnus. Currently, he is conducting a Master’s thesis centered on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. His articles have appeared on Aljazeera Arabic, SasaPost, and Countercurrents. He contributed this essay to The Palestine Chronicle.

انقلاب في الأردن أم في أميركا؟

عمرو علان - Amro 🇵🇸 (@amrobilal77) | Twitter
*كاتب وباحث سياسي

الأخبار

عمرو علان

الثلاثاء 13 نيسان 2021

تتميّز المملكة الأردنية الهاشمية بموقع جغرافي مميّز، فهي تشكل فاصلاً جغرافياً وحاجزاً بشرياً بين الكيان الصهيوني وبين العراق والسعودية، وبصورة ما أيضاً بين سوريا والكيان الغاصب، إذا ما أخذنا في الحسبان الحدود الأردنية السورية المشتركة، بالإضافة إلى كون الحدود بين الأردن وفلسطين المحتلة هي الأطول من بين دول الطوق.

أما سياسياً، فالمَلَكية في الأردن وأجهزة الدولة تربطهما مع المملكة المتحدة البريطانية والولايات المتحدة الأميركية علاقات وثيقة وقديمة أمنياً واستخبارياً وعسكرياً، ناهيكم بالعلاقات المميزة بين الحكم الأردني وبين الكيان الصهيوني، تتضافر كل هذه العوامل لتجعل الأردن ذا أهمية خاصة في الإستراتيجية الأميركية تُجاه العالم العربي، لذلك تُعد ديمومة الحكم في الأردن واستقراره من المسلّمات في العقيدة الأميركية، وبناءً عليه يُستبعد حصول أي تغيير أو محاولات تغيير في الحكم الأردني دون أن تكون لها ارتباطات دولية وإقليمية، أو دون أن تكون محكومة بسقف أميركي لا يسمح بانزلاق الساحة الأردنية إلى فوضى غير منضبطة، تُفضي إلى انعكاسات أمنية خطيرة على كيان العدو. إذن كيف يمكن تفسير إجهاض ما بات مرجّحاً أنه كان محاولة لاستبدال رأس الحكم الأردني عبر إحلال الأمير حمزة بن الحسين وليّ العهد السابق محل أخيه غير الشقيق الملك عبدالله الثاني؟
بدايةً نستذكر «صفقة القرن» التي طرحها الرئيس الأميركي السابق دونالد ترامب، والتي كانت ترتكز على ثلاثي ترامب وابن سلمان ونتنياهو، وكان واضحاً عدم رضى الأردن الرسمي عن تلك الصفقة بما تشكّله من تهديد مباشر للوصاية الهاشمية على المقدّسات في القدس المحتلة، ومن حيث كونها مقدمة لتنفيذ مخطط الوطن البديل في الأردن، وكان حضور الملك عبدالله الثاني لقمة القدس الاستثنائية التي عُقدت في إسطنبول في كانون الأول/ ديسمبر 2017 برغم الضغوط الإقليمية التي تعرّض لها آنذاك مع محمود عباس لثنيهما عن الحضور علامة فارقة في العلاقات السعودية الأردنية، حيث ظهرت للعلن بعدها آثار توتر العلاقات عبر وقف المساعدات السعودية للأردن وعبر ضغوط أخرى، لكن ما شهدناه في الأيام القليلة الماضية يشير إلى أن تأزّم العلاقات هو أكثر عمقاً مما كان ظاهراً، وأنه مذّاك الحين بدأت السعودية والإمارات بالتعاون مع نتنياهو بالإعداد إلى استبدال رأس الحكم في الأردن ضمن مسعى تنفيذ «صفقة القرن»، وعلى الأرجح أن ذلك كان بعلم ورضى أميركيين لما يشكّله الأردن من أهمية في الاستراتيجية الأميركية.

ما موقع الأردن من الإستراتيجية الجديدة لإدارة بايدن؟ هل تقرر تحويل المملكة الهاشميّة إلى ما يشبه قاعدة عسكرية أمريكية؟


لكن تعثر تطبيق «صفقة القرن»، وصعود الديمقراطيين إلى سدة الحكم الذين جاؤوا باستراتيجية مغايرة لتلك التي اتّبعها ترامب، يبدو أنهما فرضا تبديلاً في الأولويات الأميركية وتغييراً في طريقة التعاطي الأميركي مع ملفات المنطقة، ولقد كان لافتاً إبرام الاتفاقية العسكرية الأميركية الأردنية أخيراً، التي لاقت استياءً كبيراً في الأوساط الأردنية لما تتضمنه من تنازل عن السيادة الأردنية لمصلحة القوات العسكرية الأميركية، والتي تُحوِّل الأردن على امتداد أراضيه إلى قاعدة عسكرية أميركية، وقد تزامن توقيع هذه الاتفاقية مع الإعلان عن إحباط محاولة إطاحة العاهل الأردني عبدالله الثاني، لذلك يصير من المشروع ربط الخطوتين، إحداهما بالأخرى.
إذا ما صحّت هذه القراءة، فنحن نشهد انقلاباً في الإستراتيجية الأميركية تُجاه المنطقة العربية اقتضى طيّ صفحة مشروع سابق لمصلحة مسار جديد يتم العمل به، ويصير معه البعد الداخلي الأردني للأحداث تفصيلاً، ويصبح السؤالان الأهم: ما الذي ترسمه إدارة جو بايدن للمستقبل؟ وما هو موقع الأردن في هذه الإستراتيجية الجديدة الذي يلزمه معها تحويل الأردن إلى ما يشبه القاعدة العسكرية الأميركية؟
من المبكر الإجابة عن هذين التساؤلين بشكل قطعي، فنحن في انتظار تكشُّف المزيد من المعطيات، لكن من المفروغ منه أن احتمالية الانسحاب الأميركي من العراق، ومصير التوصل إلى تفاهم في الملف النووي الإيراني من عدمه، وما يخفيه الأميركي لسوريا في قابل الأيام، هي قضايا لعبت كلها أو بعضها دوراً في الهزة غير المسبوقة التي شهدها الأردن في هذه الأيام القليلة، وفي تحويل الأردن إلى منصة عسكرية أميركية يمكن استعمالها بصورة أو بأخرى.

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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.

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Whose interests are really being served with US anti-China alliance?

By Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor -March 28, 2021

NEO – Building an anti-China Alliance is the Last US Bid for Political Survival in Asia & the Pacific

by Salman Rafi Sheikh, …with New Eastern Outlook, …and the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a research institution for the study of the countries and cultures of Asia and North Africa.

[ Editor’s Note: Is this Biden reinventing Trump’s unipolar power dominance via a two step Biden unipolar power move in Asia with allies in tow, so they are available for cannon fodder use when deemed necessary to keep US trade fluctuations down?

What is important in this Biden plan story is to take a broad overview. By pulling allies into a coalition, he is positioning them for bullet magnets in case of hostilities. So one has to ask, why would they want this exposure when they can just be trade friendly countries with China and sit on the sidelines during a war?

China has no real invasion capability at this point, and has been spending its military money on a defensive navy as protection against the massive US navy firepower. It is also building a strong retaliatory defense as a first strike deterrent. If you want to talk about a threat, that is an undeniable one.

Within this context, to call China’s Navy expansion a threat is just hoaxing the American people to support an aggressive policy by the US to move into a first strike decapitation capability to threaten China.

As for why our own government would want to create a Neo Cold war against someone, the answer is the usual one. The uber wealth interests, who have their hooks deep inside our government, can see themselves making a shit load of military funding money ‘confronting China’, and also Russia, if the peacetime economy is looking dim for them.

NATO is doing a similar move pushing up to the Russian border via Ukraine. Then we have the US wanting the EU to be more dependent on US energy, not for their own security, but so we can have that advantage over them in a time of need.

And, there is the not discussed item that for Biden’s much hyped infrastructure spending to create high paying jobs here, US products based on such will be much less marketable overseas.

Biden needs a cover to always have sanctions put on China so Americans can’t buy Chinese, even if it is better, because sanctions run up the costs.

Economists have always warned that such contrived market moves fail in the long run.

But for countries with a huge military and unlimited borrowing power, which the super rich love, a slow peacetime trade market can always be replaced by a profitable war time market in a jiffy. Think false flag. You just have to press the right buttons… Jim W. Dean ]

First published … March 25, 2021

While the recently held QUAD summit-meeting did not mention China directly, there is little gainsaying that the basic thrust of the group is against China.

Although there are internal disagreements on whether to tackle China through military means or otherwise, or whether to keep this grouping strictly anti-China or not, the Biden administration has no doubts.

For them, the QUAD is a ‘Asia Pivot 2.0.’ and that the very survival of the US in Asia & the Pacific depends on selling a ‘China threat’ and subsequently placing itself as the primary bulwark against it; hence, the hurriedly done arrangements to hold QUAD’s first ever summit level meeting.

In other words, at the heart of Biden’s “China Strategy” is the imperative of rebuilding ties with allies in Asia & the Pacific, especially those frustrated by Trump’s policies, and then assembling a grand anti-China coalition.

Therefore, while the QUAD summit did not mention China as the rival, the so-called “The Spirit of the QUAD” is more than categorically specific about establishing a US led regime of rules governing Asia & the Pacific.

“The spirit” is about making the QUAD “strive for a region that is free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values, and unconstrained by coercion.” As such, while the summit did not mention China, it still addressed China directly. Indeed, this was more about making China “hear.”

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently told a US Congress House Foreign Affairs Committee that

“the more China hears not just our opprobrium, but a course of opprobrium from around the world the better the chance that we’ll get some changes. We have a number of steps we have taken, or can take, going forward to include for those directly responsible for acts of genocide, gross human rights violations – sanctions, visa restrictions, etc.”

Again, while the QUAD summit was not overtly anti-China, the Biden administration’s follow up visits to Asia & the Pacific are very much focused on building and cementing anti-China alliance.

For instance, the US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Saturday March 13 that he was traveling to Asia to boost military cooperation with American allies and foster “credible deterrence” against China, adding that “China is our pacing threat” and that “Our goal is to make sure that we have the capabilities and the operational plans and concepts to be able to offer credible deterrence to China or anybody else who would want to take on the US”

Criticising the Trump administration’s ambivalent policies that concerned themselves with ‘trade war’ and ‘deal making’, Austin said while the US competitive edge has eroded, “We still maintain the edge and we’re going to increase the edge going forward.”

The key to increasing the edge is through alliances. It is the alliances that, as Austin emphasised, “give us a lot more capability and so one of the big things the Secretary of State and I want to do, is begin to strengthen those alliances — great alliances, great partnerships to begin with.” This will be the key to furthering US interests in Asia & the Pacific against China.

Accordingly, Austin’s visits to Japan and South Korea are most likely to focus on repairing the damaged done to their ties by the Trump administration.

While Japanese officials are sure to seek assurances from Austin that the US military would come to Japan’s aid in the event of a conflict with China over the Senkaku Islands, his time in Seoul is expected to be consumed with the question of whether to resume regular large-scale military exercises with South Korea, which Trump had abruptly cancelled. 

Already, the two countries have reached a cost-sharing agreement for stationing American troops in South Korea, a presence that Trump had also threatened to end.

Austin’s full-scale visit to Asia & the Pacific also includes India, another QUAD member and a country at its lowest point in relations with China in decades after deadly clashes last year. Austin’s visit, therefore, will be particularly focused on utilizing the existing tensions between India & China to the US’ advantage.

The US, as it stands, cannot let these opportunities un-utilized; for, such opportunities allow them [the US ] to inject themselves in conflict zones in ways that, instead of de-escalating tensions, serve US interests first and foremost. If the US needs India as an ally against China, it needs to convince the Modi regime that India’s survival against China demands partnership with the US.

Again, the fact that the Trump administration stood virtually aloof in the last year India-China border skirmishes did a great deal of damage to India’s belief about the extent to which it could rely on the US. Austin’s mission will be, first and foremost, focused on rebuilding India’s belief and assuring the Indian government of the inevitability of the US support for their survival against China.

There is little gainsaying that the core focus of the Biden administration’s foreign policy is China. This is evident not only from the first ever summit level meeting of the QUAD, but also from Lloyd Austin’s first ever overseas mission as the Pentagon Chief.

What it shows is that the Biden administration, which is still less than two months into the presidency, is in no hurry to change of the course of tense relations with Chain set by the Trump administration.

In fact, the Biden administration is not only building on the same tensions, but is also utilizing its relatively more “responsible”, more “democratic” and more “stable and predictable” outlook as compared to the previous administration to woo their somewhat estranged allies into a sort of “global coalition” that Mike Pompeo had sought, and failed, to build and lead.

Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

BIOGRAPHY

Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor

Managing Editor

Jim W. Dean is Managing Editor of Veterans Today involved in operations, development, and writing, plus an active schedule of TV and radio interviews. 

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Jim W. Dean Archives 2009-2014https://www.veteranstoday.com/jim-w-dean-biography/jimwdean@aol.com

JOE BIDEN’S HEARTFELT ILLOGIC ABOUT ISRAEL

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history emeritus at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He has been publishing his analyses of topics in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, international and humanitarian law and Israel/Zionist practices and policies since 2010

by Lawrence Davidson

Part I—Stale Foreign Policy

Almost everyone in the West who is not a fan of Donald Trump—and if they are a fan, their sanity is to be doubted— assumes that U.S. President Joe Biden is now helping to save both the United States and the world. In some categories such as climate change, environmental regulation, economic reform favoring the poor and middle class, equal rights and, of course, combating the Covid-19 virus, they might have a point.

Nonetheless, it really saddens me to say that, at least in this author’s opinion, President Biden is not “the sharpest tack in the box.” That is, he is not the smartest guy in Washington, D.C. On the other hand, Joe has a strong point. He has the good fortune to have drawn together some very strong and progressive advisers on the domestic side of the political equation. It would also seem that, unlike his predecessor, Biden has the capability to actually listen to these people. He also has accommodated himself to the pressure put forth by true progressives such as Bernie Sanders.

The one exception to this wealth of good advice is on the other half of the job, in the area of foreign policy, in particular foreign policy toward the Middle East, and specifically policy toward the country of Israel. Here is where Joe has difficulty thinking straight and is out of luck with his chosen advisers.

To wit Andrew Bacevich of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft:

“Beneath a veneer of gender and racial diversity, the Biden national security team consists of seasoned operatives who earned their spurs in Washington long before Donald Trump showed up to spoil the party. So, if you’re looking for fresh faces at the departments of state or defense, the National Security Council or the various intelligence agencies, you’ll have to search pretty hard. Ditto, if you’re looking for fresh insights. In Washington, members of the foreign policy establishment recite stale bromides, even as they divert attention from a dead past to which they remain devoted.”

Part II—Analytical Shortcomings Nos. 1 and 1A: Policy Formulation toward Israel and the Palestinians

In the field of U.S.-Israeli relations, there are two areas where President Biden’s analytical shortcomings show themselves.

(1) The inability to formulate foreign policy that takes into account the behavior of the object of that policy.

President Biden says “my commitment to Israel is completely unshakable. As president, I’m going to continue our security assistance … and maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge. I’m not going to place conditions for the security assistance.” Essentially, this position abdicates U.S. national interests in favor of Israeli interests.

Here is a metaphor for such blind commitment. Think of how one adjusts attitudes toward friendships held over time. If you had a friend (we will refer to this friend as male) who, for whatever reason, evolved into a robber, would you give him a gun every year on his birthday? Would you do that because you remember he was a battered child and you think the arsenal you provide will make him feel secure and, hopefully, lead him to give up his criminal behavior? Or maybe you think he needs the gun because he lives in a bad neighborhood?

Biden believes that “Israelis wake up every morning facing an existential threat. That’s why we always have to be adamant that Israel must be able to defend itself.” But this is just a long-obsolete rationalization for spoiling your friend, who turns out to be head of the strongest gang on the block.

In the meantime, Biden points fingers at his predecessor for adopting exactly the same stance toward the Saudi Kingdom. Biden complained that “Donald Trump has given the government of Saudi Arabia a blank check to pursue a disastrous set of policies.”

(1A) The reverse side of this coin entails Joe Biden’s uninformed attitude toward the Palestinians. These are people who allegedly pose an “existential” threat to Israeli lives.

“The Palestinians need to end incitement in the West Bank and rocket attacks in Gaza. … No matter what legitimate disagreement they may have with Israel, it’s never a justification for terrorism.”

The truth is that it is the Palestinians who are under the “existential threat” and it is the Israelis who exercise massive violence against them, more often than not of a terroristic nature. When Palestinians resist Israeli oppression they are labeled terrorists, they are killed and their infrastructure is destroyed. When they do not resist, more and more of their land is taken. Volunteers must come from Europe to the West Bank so that farmers can harvest their olives without getting shot by Israeli settlers.  Gaza is under blockade, not able to obtain basic supplies or vaccines. It should come as no surprise that “the death tolls in the Israel-Palestine conflict are lopsided, with Palestinians far more likely to be killed than Israelis. According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, which has compiled month-to-month fatality records, looking at the figures since 2005, 23 out of every 24 conflict deaths have been Palestinian.”

Biden also insists that the Palestinian Authority should “acknowledge, flat-out, Israel’s right to exist—period–-as an independent Jewish state and guarantee the borders.” Actually, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) did so in 1993. The Palestinian Authority suspended recognition in 2018 due to incessant theft of Palestinian land by Israel.

It appears that Joe Biden takes none of these facts into consideration. Is it because he does not know them? Such ignorance is certainly possible, though for a U.S. president it would be inexcusable. More likely, he has heard the Palestinian side, but cannot interpret it objectively because he is ideologically committed to the Israeli worldview.

President Biden has declared that “I am a Zionist. You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist.” Commitment to Zionism is commitment to an ideology. Seeing the world on the basis of an ideology—any ideology—must distort your understanding. Thus, Biden’s view of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict becomes as lopsided as the conflict’s death toll.

Part III—Analytical Shortcoming No. 2: The BDS Movement

President Biden’s personal refusal to adjust U.S. policy to confront even those aspects of Israeli behavior he says he opposes—settlement activity and threats of annexation—carries over into his personal opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Israel, active both in the U.S. and Europe. Just as his reasoning is often faulty when refusing to match policy to Israeli behavior, it is also faulty as to his opposition to BDS.

On the one hand, “Joe Biden will protect the constitutional right of our citizens to free speech.” On the other, the president “has been unequivocal in condemning calls in the United States to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel.” In other words, Americans can say it, but in this case, Joe ain’t listening.

According to the president, “the BDS movement singles out Israel—home to millions of Jews—in a way that is inconsistent with the treatment of other nations, and it too often veers into anti-Semitism.”

It is obvious that in the case of the BDS campaign, Israel is “singled out.” However, this is not unusual or “inconsistent with the treatment of other nations.” It is quite consistent. Cuban Americans single out Cuba. Other groups single out China, or Russia, or Myanmar and the like. Does the president dismiss these defenders of human rights because of their single-country focus? Of course not. Thus, he is being a hypocrite when singling out BDS.

In the case of Israel, those involved in BDS are mostly victims of Israeli oppression (Palestinians) or Jews who are utterly disgusted with what the Zionists are doing in their name. Israeli actions, particularly in the Occupied Territories, are in clear violation of international law and human rights declarations, and this gives the BDS a solid legal grounding. So what is Biden complaining about? Nothing that he has seriously thought through. And, when pushed on this, he falls back on the charge of anti-Semitism. Yet, the suggestion that the BDS movement is anti-Semitic is just a red herring.

Here is another quite legitimate justification for Americans, and others in the West, to “single out” Israel for attention by supporting BDS. Israel is indeed unique in that through its agents—Zionist lobbies—it is powerful enough to divert the debate over the aims of foreign policy in relation to much of the Middle East. That is, these agents of a foreign power divert the debate away from what is in the best interests of the U.S. or this or that Western nation, toward the question what is in the best interest of Zionist Israel. As a result, billions of dollars, pounds, euros and other resources have been diverted into making Israel a supremely powerful apartheid state.

Can President Biden understand these arguments? No more than any other self-proclaimed Zionist. As a Zionist he must, if he is to stay ideologically consistent, let Israel off the hook for its crimes. Sometimes this blinkered way of thinking creates embarrassingly contorted positions.

Consider this emotional proclamation made by then Senator Joe Biden at the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference, on March 20, 2016.

“Singling out Israel, [either at the UN or by BDS] is wrong! It’s wrong! I know it’s not popular to say, but it’s wrong, because as the Jewish people know better than any other people, any action that marginalizes one ethnic and religious group imperils us all. It’s incumbent upon us, all of us, that we stand up against those who traffic in pernicious stereotypes, who seek to scare and divide us for political gain, because the future belongs to the bridge builders, not the wall builders.”

Let’s unpack this declaration. We start with the sentence “the Jewish people know better than any other people, any action that marginalizes one ethnic and religious group imperils us all.” It is correct that, given their history, many Jews should recognize Biden’s statement as true. But all those who are Zionists will make an exception for Israel. They must do so in order to avoid outright contradiction. Why so? Because Israel has posited both its identity and its security on the “marginalization of one ethnic and religious group,” namely, Palestinians. Maybe President Biden senses that there is some inconsistency here, but being a Zionist he dismisses it as justified. Addressing an AIPAC audience, of course, meant no one challenged him.

We move on to the next sentence. “It is incumbent that all of us to stand up against those who traffic in pernicious stereotypes.” When Israeli leaders and Zionists such as Joe Biden constantly refer to Palestinians who resist Israeli oppression as “terrorists,” they too are “trafficking in pernicious stereotypes.” It is a safe guess that Biden does not realize this.

Next sentence, “It is incumbent that all of us that stand up against those who … seek to scare and divide us for political gain.” I cannot think of a more apt description of what the Zionist/Israeli aim is here in the United States and the West in general—to scare us away from the defense of Palestinian rights and divide us when it comes to legitimate criticism of Israeli behavior, all done for political gain in the form of maintaining an extraordinary level of financial and military support of an apartheid state.

Finally, the last statement, “because the future belongs to the bridge builders, not the wall builders.” It is amazing that, given his immediate audience, Biden made this statement with a straight face. For he was addressing those infamous for building a wall that divides and isolates.

Essentially, this entire declaration by Joe Biden attributes to BDS all the negative characteristics that Israel in fact displays. As a self-declared, true-believer Zionist, he does this without any recognition of the deep irony his declaration contains.

Part III—Conclusion

How much history does Joe Biden, or his foreign policy advisers, know? For instance, do they know the history of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency? Lyndon Johnson could have gone down in U.S. history as a remarkably successful and progressive leader. He could have done this on the basis of his championing civil rights. But he was destroyed by the Vietnam War—a war fought by the U.S. because of ideological imperatives.

President Biden may well be faced with the same choices. He probably could go down in U.S. history as the 21st century’s first truly great president for all those reasons listed at the beginning of this essay. But these achievements may be diminished by adherence to obsolete and dangerous foreign policies in the Middle East. If he follows his current trajectory he will bury the 2015 Iran agreement—one of the most promising diplomatic achievements of the 21st century. He may linger on in that “forever war” in Afghanistan. He will let both the Israelis and the Saudis off the hook for their past and future abominations. And, he will sustain Israeli dominance in the region even as that country confirms itself as a rightist, racist threat to human rights and international law. Through all of this Joe Biden may lose his moment in history.

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Trump Laughs at How Biden Stumbled Down Air Force One Stairs: “I Didn’t Lose to Him”

‘I didn’t lose to him’: Trump mocks Biden’s Air Force One steps fall (VIDEO)

March 21, 2021

Former US President Donald Trump poked fun at President Joe Biden after the latter tumbled down the stairs to Air Force One on Friday.

“I watched as Joe Biden went up the stairs today on Air Force One and I said, ‘I didn’t lose to him’ – we didn’t lose to him,” Trump said in the short clip posted on TikTok, which was reportedly captured at his Mar-a-Lago residence.

“Almost 75 million votes and probably a lot more than that,” Trump continued on the footage, referring to his allegations of voter fraud during the presidential election.

In the above-mentioned video clip, the former US president referred to the recent footage of Joe Biden tumbling downstairs when walking up to Air Force One, the presidential jet.

The video of the 78-year-old slipping on stairs hard, then walking up and giving a salute, went viral immediately, triggering an avalanche of memes and jokes as well as concerns about the President’s health.

The White House blamed the weather for the incident, saying that “it’s pretty windy outside. It’s very windy”.

Donald Trump’s son also took the chance to crack a joke or two about the oldest person to assume the presidency tripping stairs to his jet.

Source: Agencies

The Puppet Masters: Is There Really a Deep State?

The danger posed by the Deep State is that it wields immense power but is unelected and unaccountable, Phil Giraldi writes.

Conspiracy Theory

By Philip Giraldi

Global Research, March 19, 2021

Strategic Culture Foundation 18 March 2021

All Global Research articles can be read in 27 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).

***

As a former intelligence officer, I find it amusing to read articles in the mainstream media that blithely report how the latest international outrages are undoubtedly the work of CIA and the rest of the U.S. government’s national security alphabet soup. The recurring claim that the CIA is somehow running the world by virtue of a vast conspiracy that includes the secret intelligence agencies of a number of countries, using blackmail and other inducements to corrupt vulnerable politicians and opinion makers, has entered into the DNA of journalists worldwide, frequently without any evidence that the current crop of spies is capable to doing anything more complicated than getting out of bed in the morning.

One problem with the theory about total global dominance through espionage is the sheer logistics of it all. Directing political and economic developments in two hundred nations simultaneously must require a lot of space and a large staff. Is there a huge office hidden in Langley? Or the Pentagon? Or in the White House West Wing itself? Or is it in one of the secure facilities that have been popping up like mushrooms just off of the Dulles Toll Road in Herndon Virginia?

To provide evidence that intelligence agencies extend their tentacles just about everywhere, the other claim that is nearly always made is that all former spooks are part of the conspiracy, as once you learn the secret handshake to join CIA, NSA or the FBI you never stop being “one of them.” Well, that might be true in some cases but the majority of former spooks are quite happy to be “former,” and one might also observe that many voices in the anti-war movement, such as it is, come from intelligence, law enforcement or military backgrounds. Of course, the conspiracy theorists will explain that away by claiming that it is a conspiracy within a conspiracy, making the dissidents little better than double agents or gatekeepers who are put in place to make sure that the opposition doesn’t become too effective.

Given the fact that how the so-called American “Deep State” actually gets together and plots is unknown, one would have to concede that it is an organization without much structure, unlike the original Turkish Deep State (Derin Devlet), which coined the phrase, that actually met and had centralized planning. I would suggest that the problem is one of definitions and it also helps to know how the national security state is structured and what its legitimate mission is. The CIA, for example, employs about 20,000 people, nearly all of whom work in various divisions that collect information (spying), analysis, technology and also are divided into staffs that work transnationally on issues like terrorism, narcotics, and nuclear proliferation. The overwhelming majority of those employees have political views and vote but there is a consensus that what their work entails is apolitical. The actual politics of how policy comes out the other end is confined to a very small group at the top, some of whom are themselves political appointees.

To be sure, one can and probably should oppose the policies of regime change that the Agency is engaged in worldwide but there is one important consideration that has to be understood. Those policies are set by the country’s civilian leadership (president, secretary of state and national security council) and they are imposed on CIA by its own political leadership. The Agency does not hold referenda among its employees to determine which foreign policy option is preferable any more than soldiers in the 101st Airborne are consulted when they receive orders to deploy.Rethinking National Security: CIA and FBI Are Corrupt, but What About Congress?

Nearly all current and former intelligence officers that I know are, in fact, opposed to the politics of U.S. global dominance that have been pretty much in place since 9/11, most particularly as evidenced by the continued conflict with Russia, the ramping up of aggression with China, and the regime change policies relating to Syria, Iran and Venezuela. Those officers often consider the invasions and exercise of “maximum pressure” to have been failures. Those policies were supported by truculent language, sanctions and displays of military readiness by the Trump Administration but it now appears clear that they will all be continued in one form or another under President Joe Biden, likely to include even more aggression against Russia through proxies in Ukraine and Georgia.

The officers engaged in such operations also observe that regime change has basically come out of the closet since 2001. George W. Bush announced that there was a “new sheriff in town” and the gloves would be coming off. Things that the intelligence agencies used to do are now done right out in the open, using military resources against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria while the biggest change of all, in Ukraine in 2014, was largely engineered by Victoria Nuland at the State Department. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was also active in Russia supporting opposition parties until the Kremlin forced them to leave the country.

So, it is fair to say that the Deep State is not a function of either the CIA or the FBI, but at the same time the involvement of John Brennan, James Clapper and James Comey in the plot to destroy Donald Trump is disturbing, as the three men headed the Agency, the Office of National Intelligence and Bureau. They appear to have played critical leadership roles in carrying out this conspiracy and they may not have operated on their own. Almost certainly what they may have done would have been either explicitly or implicitly authorized by the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, and others in his national security team.

It is now known that President Barack Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan created a secret interagency Trump Task Force in early 2016. Rather than working against genuine foreign threats, this Task Force played a critical role in creating and feeding the meme that Donald Trump was a tool of the Russians and a puppet of President Vladimir Putin, a claim that still surfaces regularly to this day. Working with Clapper, Brennan fabricated the narrative that “Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.” Brennan and Clapper promoted that tale even though they knew very well that Russia and the United States have carried out a broad array of covert actions against each other, including information operations, for the past seventy years, but they pretended that what happened in 2016 was qualitatively and substantively different even though the “evidence” produced to support that claim is weak to nonexistent.

I would, nevertheless, argue that their behavior, though it exploited intelligence resources, was not intrinsic to the organizations that they led, that the three of them were part and parcel of the real Deep State, which consists of a consensus view on running the country that is held by nearly all of the elements that together make up the American Establishment, with its political power focused in Washington and its financial center in New York City. It should come as no surprise that those government officials who are complicit in the process are often personally rewarded with highly paid sinecure jobs in financial services, which they know nothing about, when they “retire.”

The danger posed by the Deep State, or, if you choose, the Establishment, is that it wields immense power but is unelected and unaccountable. Even though it does not actually meet in secret, it does operate through relationships that are not transparent and as the media is part of it, there is little chance that its activity will be exposed. One notes that while the Deep State is mentioned frequently in the national media there has been little effort to identify its components and how it operates.

Viewed in that fashion, the argument that there exists a cohesive group of power brokers who really run the country and are even able to coopt those who are ostensibly dedicated to keeping the country safe becomes much more plausible without denigrating the many honest people who are employed by the national security agencies. The Deep State conspirators don’t have to meet to plot as they all understand very well what has to be done to maintain their supremacy. That is the real danger. The Biden Administration will surely demonstrate over the next several months that the Deep State is still with us and more powerful than ever as it operates both inside and outside the government itself. And the real danger comes from the Democrats now in charge, who are if anything more given to playing with consensus politics that involve phony threats than were the Republicans.

*

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Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is https://councilforthenationalinterest.orgaddress is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org

He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT PUTIN

March 18, 2021

Dear friends: this column shows how matters stand. Support this website or darkness will arrive.

Has Biden’s Description of Putin as a Killer Finally Dispelled Kremlin Hopes for Good Relations?

Paul Craig Roberts - Official Homepage

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT PUTIN

Paul Craig Roberts

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to Biden’s unacceptable characterization of Russia’s president as a killer by stating that Biden had made it clear that “he doesn’t want to normalize relations.”  In the Kremlin does hope burn eternal?  It has been obvious to me for many years that Washington does not want normal relations with Russia or any country. Washington wants a hegemonic relationship with Washington as the hegemon and Russia as the obedient puppet as Russia was during the Yeltsin decade.

Just consider the past four years of Trump’s presidency.  Trump declared his intention of normalizing relations with Russia and for this reason his presidency was destroyed by the American Establishment.

There is no prospect of Russia having normal relations with the US and its Empire.  The destruction of Trump’s presidency and the theft of his reelection is proof that the American Establishment will not tolerate a president who intends a normal diplomatic relationship with a sovereign Russia. This one intention was all it took to destroy Trump’s presidency.  Trump was immediately confronted with three years of orchestrated “Russiagate,” followed by two attempted impeachments of Trump on false grounds, and his reelection was stolen. The American judiciary refused to even look at the overwhelming evidence of the stolen election.  Did the Kremlim really believe that Biden was going to repeat Trump’s self-destruction and make friends with Russia?

Despite all the clarity in Biden’s accusation, backed up by White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki that “the Russians will be held accountable,”  Russian Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reaffirmed Russia’s interest in “preventing the irreversible degradation” of Russian bilateral ties with the US.

Amazing.  It seems the Kremlin is incapable of acknowledging reality.  In 2016 Hillary Clinton, who was expected to be the next US president, called Putin the “new Hitler.”  How does this differ from Biden calling Putin a killer? It is official Western policy to demonize Putin and Russia. The demonization of Putin and Russia  has been underway for years.

Putin’s forbearance is remarkable. He treats these calculated insults as if they are water off a duck’s back.  But Putin’s response does not serve peace or Russian interests.  

Dear President Putin, please permit me to offer an explanation of the threat that you and the entire world face.  Washington and the American foreign policy establishment hates your guts.  They hate you because you restored Russia’s sovereignty and, thereby, put a powerful country in the way of American hegemony.  Remember the Wolfowitz Doctrine (1992):

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

You, President Putin and you alone, are responsible for the “re-emergence of a new rival . . . sufficient to generate global power.”  Therefore, you are an unpardonable constraint on American hegemony, and “our first objective” is to remove the constraint you place on American hegemony. 

This neoconservative policy remains in place. No alternative has come forward. Recently, two Russian analysts at the hegemonic Atlantic Council suggested that Washington pursue a less hostile approach to Russia.  They were immediately denounced by the other 22 members of the council’s foreign policy experts.

See: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2021/03/17/washington-has-resurrected-the-specter-of-nuclear-armageddon/  

It could not be stated any clearer that Russia is in Washington’s way.  Does the Kremlin lack people familiar with the English language?

Whoever is advising the Kremlin is an idiot.  Every time the Kremlin replies to insults and false accusations from Washington, the Kremlin hands to the entire Western media—a propaganda ministry, the likes of which has never before existed on earth and can be found only in science fiction such as George Orwell’s 1984—the opportunity to repeat the charge:  “Today the Kremlin spokesman denied that Putin is a killer.”

If I may offer my advice, President Putin, explain to Peskov and to Zakharov not to respond to accusations and insults.  Ignore them.  Say nothing. Stop trying to appeal to Washington and its NATO puppets.  The fact that Russia believes facts are relevant is seen by the West as a sign of great weakness.  Facts don’t matter in the West.  Russiagate proved that for you.  

Go about your business where you are welcomed and regarded as a potential protector against Washington, such as Iran.  Form an explicit mutual defense pact with China.  Not even criminally insane Washington will take on Russia and China.  Add Iran and the Taliban.  The best way to keep Islamic terrorism out of the Russian Federation is to befriend them and turn them against Washington.  Beat Washington at its own game.  And by all means, stop Israel and Washington from attacking Syrian territory.  Until you show Russia’s power, you will not be taken seriously. The longer you are not taken seriously, the greater the likelihood that threats against Russia will mount until nuclear war arrives.  Obviously, Russia is not taken seriously with American Democrat leaders describing the President of Russia as the “new Hitler” and “a killer.”  No American president dared to speak of a Soviet leader, where there actually was justification for the charge, in such terms.  

I offer this advice not because I am pro-Russia and anti-America, but because I worked with President Reagan to achieve the goal of ending the Cold War and its threat of nuclear Armageddon.  People can go on all they want about climate change and Covid, but nuclear war is an end times occurance.  

The American neoconservative intent to acquire world hegemony will bring nuclear war unless you turn Russia’s back to the decadent, corrupt, and dying West and protect with decisive force the interests of Russia and her friends.  Washington denies you friends in Europe.  Find them elsewhere.  The peace of the world is at stake.

Blockbuster: Biden Rolling Back Israel’s ‘Free Ride,’ Ready to Recognize Palestinian State

Plans for ‘reset’ of PA ties include rollback of Trump policies legitimizing settlements, $15 million in COVID-related aid to Palestinians

Times of Israel: The Biden administration will reportedly push for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines, with mutually agreed upon land swaps, reinstating US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to more traditionally held positions than those of former president Donald Trump.

memo titled “The US Palestinian Reset and the Path Forward,” which was revealed Wednesday to the Abu Dhabi-based The National, also showed that the Biden administration is planning on announcing a $15 million aid package in coronavirus-related humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians as early as this month.

Drafted by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr, the memo also details plans to roll back various Trump policies that Washington believes made reaching a two-state solution more difficult, such as US legitimization of the settlement enterprise.

Amr recommends in the memo that the White House back a two-state framework “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps and agreements on security and refugees.”

Hady Amr, now US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs, speaks at the Brookings Institute, where he was a fellow, on December 3, 2018. (Screen capture/YouTube)

While behind closed doors, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has participated in peace negotiations based on the 1967 lines, publicly the formula is not very popular in Israel, particularly among the right wing, which is expected to further expand in the Knesset after next week’s election.

The memo discusses “rolling back certain steps by the prior administration that bring into question our commitment or pose real barriers to a two-state solution, such as country of origin labeling.”

The memo was referring to a last-minute policy change announced by Trump’s secretary of state Mike Pompeo, which requires all US exports from the settlements to be labeled as having been “made in Israel.”

Since 1995, US policy had required products made in the West Bank and Gaza to be labeled as such. That directive was republished in 2016 by the Obama administration, which warned that labeling goods as “made in Israel” could lead to fines. Prior to the Oslo Accords, however, all products manufactured in these areas were required to mention Israel in their label when exporting to the United States.

The Pompeo order went into effect in December, but manufacturers were given a 90-day grace period, until March 23, to implement the change.

“As we reset US relations with the Palestinians, the Palestinian body politic is at an inflection point as it moves towards its first elections in 15 years,” the new memo reads. “At the same time, we [the US] suffer from a lack of connective tissue following the 2018 closure of the PLO office in Washington and refusal of Palestinian Authority leadership to directly engage with our embassy to Israel.

The Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organization, pictured in 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Trump closed the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s diplomatic mission in Washington in 2018, against the backdrop of the PA’s boycott of his administration following the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In 2019, the Trump administration shuttered the US consulate in Jerusalem, which served as the de facto embassy to the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. The mission was folded into the US embassy to Israel in Jerusalem and the previous position of consul-general was dissolved.

Before the Trump administration began tightening the screws on the PA in 2018 for refusing to engage with its peace efforts, the United States was the single largest donor country to the PA.

The US paid hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the PA’s creditors, such as the Israeli state utility companies from which the Palestinians purchase water and electricity. They paid for training for the PA’s security forces and numerous infrastructure projects.

Washington also gave hundreds of millions a year in funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency — known as UNRWA — which is in charge of administering the daily needs of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants across the Middle East.

The memo, which was passed along to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, highlights UNRWA in particular as one of the organizations the Biden administration plans to back in order to aid the Palestinians.

Israel accuses UNRWA of perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, criticizing the agency’s practice of extending refugee status to millions of descendants, rather than only to the original refugees as is the norm with most refugee populations worldwide.

Then-US president Donald Trump (L) and PA President Mahmoud Abbas leave following a joint press conference at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

Noting major economic disparities between Israelis and Palestinians, the memo states that the Biden administration is “planning a full range of economic, security and humanitarian assistance programs [for Palestinians], including through UN Relief and World Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).”

“State and USAID are working towards a restart of US assistance to the Palestinians in late March or early April,” the memo says, adding that the COVID-related humanitarian relief package will be announced beforehand.

The memo reveals the administration’s plans to “take a two-fold approach of maintaining and ideally improving the US relationship with Israel by deepening its integration into the region while resetting the US relationship with the Palestinian people and leadership.”

It notes Amr’s “listening sessions” with senior officials in the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry who “welcomed the restart of US-Palestinian relations.”

The United States consulate building in Jerusalem, March 4, 2019. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Notably, those two offices are controlled by Blue and White ministers Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi who hold more moderate public stances on the Palestinian issue than Netanyahu and his Likud party. Gantz and Ashkenazi have taken pride in their efforts to block Netanyahu’s West Bank annexation plans last year.

One section of the memo likely to please both sides of the political spectrum in Israel is its support for expanding the normalization agreements brokered by the Trump administration between Israel and its Arab and Muslim neighbors.

However, Amr also writes of using such agreements “to support Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and improve the quality of life for the Palestinian people.” Netanyahu has sought to divorce the normalization deals from the Palestinian issue, arguing that the peace deals prove that Israel can expand its diplomatic ties in the region without making concessions to the Palestinians.

As previously pledged by Biden officials, the memo floats the idea of reopening an independent consulate akin to the one that served as the de facto mission to the Palestinians and operated out of the western part of Jerusalem until 2019. Doing so would signal US recommitment to a two-state solution, the document says. However, no final decisions have been made yet on the matter.

Benny Gantz (left) and Gabi Ashkenazi of the Blue and White party arrive to give a joint a statement in Tel Aviv on February 21, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The memo notes the Biden administration’s commitment to engaging the international community via the UN and the Middle East Quartet, which consists of the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia.

The document notes the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections in May and presidential elections in July, adding that it has been 15 years since Palestinians have been able to elect their representatives.

“But the implications of an election remain uncertain: the collapse of a power-sharing agreement after the prior elections led to the Hamas takeover of Gaza [in 2007],” the memo says, noting the PA request that the US push Jerusalem to allow elections to take place in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, but not stating Washington’s position on the matter.

“We are analyzing the evolving situation and will propose a US posture together with the inter-agency,” the memo reads.

The lack of position on elections is likely to disappoint Ramallah as Palestinian officials have been lobbying Washington in recent weeks to come out in support of the democratic process, sources familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Joe Biden after their meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, March 10, 2010. (AP/Bernat Armangue)

Amr recommends the Biden administration push the PA to clamp down on incitement while also calling out Israeli settlement expansion on land that Palestinians hope will be part of their future state.

The memo reveals that talks are underway with the PA leadership aimed at altering Ramallah’s controversial payment of stipends to Palestinian security prisoners, including those convicted of terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

The altered policy currently being discussed in Ramallah would base the stipends on prisoners’ financial need rather than the length of their sentence, senior Palestinian officials told The Times of Israel in January.

The Biden administration will also seek to boost Palestinian institutions. “This includes strengthening civil society, media watchdogs and other elements of the fourth estate, such as emphasizing to the [Palestinian Authority] the need to protect civil society through the reductions of arrests of bloggers and dissidents,” the memo reads.

ABOUT VT EDITORS

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Blockbuster/Exclusive: More Mossad Ties between ‘Bear Spray Killers’ , proof of Israel’s role in January 6

By VT Editors -March 16, 2021

January 6 was a last ditch attempt by Israel to save the Trump presidency and turn the US into a full-fledge colony of Israel.  How anti-Semitic does that sound?How true does it sound?VT Exclusive: We have been doing background on the January 6 killers of Officer Sicknick.  When Elie Khater was arrested getting off a plane from Israel and that was hidden, we knew there was something else.We then found this article from Newsweek, owned by former Congresswoman Jane Harmon, who was “busted” for trying to free Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who gave America’s NOC List to the Russians. This is the real story and why every top US intel official for 28 years demand he “burn in hell.”Now we find young Israeli “American’ Elie Khater, the alleged murder, was, with his mother, evacuated from Lebanon to save them from Hezbollah, in 2006, by the US military.Dad is never mentioned nor is why they were there serving in an unnamed intelligence capacity.  Fake people, fake restaurants, no murder charges…it keeps getting better and better…

Onscene: Pain, Joy, After Leaving Lebanon

BY NEWSWEEK STAFF 

Sitting aboard the USS Trenton as it leaves Lebanon, Elie Khater is crying. But unlike most Americans aboard this amphibious assault ship, her tears are not those of joy over escaping a country tumbling into war. The 43-year-old mother of four is sobbing because the clashes between Israel and Hizbullah have forced her out of her adopted home in Kherbert Kanafar, a small village where her husband’s family has a fruit orchard and where the New Jersey native has lived since 1994.

The Khaters decided to leave Lebanon after Israeli airstrikes hit nearby villages and roads, cutting off most escape routes. Their harrowing drive to Beirut on a bomb-damaged road was terrifying; now the prospect of going back to America breaks her heart. “Lebanon has become my country and it’s is horrible beyond words to be leaving behind my extended family, my friends, my life,” she weeps.

The Khaters were among the thousands of foreigners trapped in Lebanon when fighting broke out 10 days ago. On Friday, an estimated 4,000 Americans were scheduled to leave for Cyprus in what Brig. Gen. Carl Jensen, the U.S. Marine Corps officer commanding the operation, calls a “voluntary withdrawal.” A similar number have already been evacuated over the last two days, with the United States chartering ferry boats and rerouting seven naval ships to help Americans trying get out. Helicopters were also deployed to fly out humanitarian cases like the elderly and disabled.

Why aren’t they charged as cop killers?  Could it be because of reasons only VT will publish?  Arrested in the airport while exiting a plane from Tel Aviv…shouldn’t that fact be gotten out?  We think so…and hiding it tells us volumes…

VT: Julian Elie Khater was picked up today as he got off a plane from Tel Aviv at the Newark Airport. Both Khater and George Tanios are childhood friends who grew up in New Brunswick, New Jersey’s Jewish community, just outside Philadelphia.

Khater fled to Israel after the killing of Officer Sicknick during the January 6 coup attempt by Donald Trump.  Autopsy results have been withheld, particularly toxicology, but VT sources say Officer Sicknick died from a reaction to being soaked with powerful “Bear Spray”, listed as a “dangerous weapon.” 

Video exists showing both Khater and Tanios deploying bear spray against Officer Sicknick, but it also shows that both were coordinating deployment of chemical weapons with highly trained teams that were searching for members of Congress, teams allegedly in communication with GOP House members.

This is a separate FBI investigation. A House investigation has published 2000 pages of tweets from members of the House and Senate that were used, it is alleged, “in real time” to hunt Vice President Pence and his family and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

We also found, with little effort, that Tanios’ restaurant, if you can call it that, is fake as well.

VT’s sources say both Khater and Tanios are former IDF intelligence and are Israeli citizens. We also learn that Tanio’s “restaurant” is not so much either, one review at Tripadvisor:

and from Yelp:

Every decent Mossad agent is taught to keep their cover and make money at their side business.  Certainly the Mossad’s highly paid journalists are proof of this.  Look at Hannity and Carlson…

WaPo: Federal authorities have arrested and charged two men with assaulting U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick with bear spray during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot but have not determined whether the exposure caused his death.

Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania and George Pierre Tanios, 39 of Morgantown, W.Va., were arrested Sunday and are expected to appear in federal court Monday.

“Give me that bear s—,” Khater allegedly said to Tanios on video recorded at the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol at 2:14 p.m., where Sicknick and other officers were standing guard behind metal bicycle racks, arrest papers say.

About nine minutes later, after Khater said he had been hit with bear spray, Khater is seen on video discharging a canister into the face of Sicknick and two other officers, arrest papers allege.

Khater and Tanios are charged with nine counts including assaulting three officers with a deadly weapon — Sicknick, another U.S. Capitol Police officer identified as C. Edwards, and a D.C. police officer identified as B. Chapman. They are also charged with civil disorder and obstruction of a congressional proceeding. The charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors filed charges after tipsters contacted the FBI allegedly identifying Khater and Tanios from wanted images released by the bureau from surveillance video and officer-worn body camera footage, the complaint said. It said the men grew up together in New Jersey, and that Khater had worked in State College, Pa., and Tanios owns a business in Morgantown.

*

Arrested at Newark Airport getting off a plane from Israel in an FBI sting, something censored by the Washington Post

Khater was arrested Sunday in Newark, N.J., according to an unsealed arrest warrant signed by a magistrate judge on March 6. Family for Khater could not be immediately reached.

Questions remain about whether anyone will be held criminally responsible in Sicknick’s death. Autopsy results for Sicknick were still pending as of Monday, according to a spokeswoman for the deputy mayor of public safety in D.C.

Without a cause of death, his case has not been established as a homicide, although charging papers allege that evidence of an assault on Sicknick is clear on video.

This is, officially, the longest autopsy ever.  It it isn’t a coincidental natural death, then it is a homicide.  Why the games.  Both impeachment docs and US Atty. Rosen stated Sicknick was murdered and did so many weeks ago.

An FBI agent alleged in charging papers that publicly available video showed that after Khater asked for the bear spray, Tanios replied, “Hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet … it’s still early.” The agent said the exchange showed that the two allegedly were “working in concert and had a plan to use the toxic spray against law enforcement.”

The agent asserted that the men “appeared to time the deployment of chemical substances to coincide with other rioters’ efforts to forcibly remove the bike rack barriers that were preventing the rioters from moving closer to the Capitol building,” using their hands, ropes and straps.

All three officers were temporarily blinded and incapacitated for more than 20 minutes, and Edwards sustained scarring beneath her eyes for several weeks, charging papers said.

Sicknick died at a hospital about 9:30 p.m. Jan. 7, one day after 139 police officers were reportedly assaulted by an angry mob of Trump supporters wielding sledge hammers, baseball bats, hockey sticks, crutches and flagpoles. At least 800 people entered the Capitol after a smaller number forced entry, police have testified, seeking to block Congress from confirming the November presidential election victory of Joe Biden.

FBI focuses on video of Capitol Police officer being sprayed with chemicals

Referring to Sicknick, a House-passed article of impeachment charged Trump with inciting insurrection, alleging that members of a crowd he addressed “injured and killed law enforcement personnel.” Trump was acquitted after 57 senators voted to convict him for inciting the attack, 10 short of the two-thirds majority needed.

Then-acting U.S. attorney general Jeffrey A. Rosen said in a statement shortly afterward that Sicknick died of “the injuries he suffered defending the U.S. Capitol,” echoing a statement by Capitol Police.

Investigators determined that he did not die of blunt force trauma, people familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. After more than two months, no autopsy or toxicology report has been made public.

This report, however, has been kept from the public.  Is it because every suspect arrested can be charged with full 1st Degree Murder, not simply trespass, as per well established legal precedent.

Officer Brian D. Sicknick recalled for his ‘shared humanity’The senator described Sicknick’s death as a “crime” that “demands the full attention of federal law enforcement.” He said “when white supremacists attacked our nation’s capital, they took the life of one of our officers. They spilled his blood, they took a son away from his parents. They took a sibling away from their brothers.”

Beaten, sprayed with mace and hit with stun guns: Police describe injuries to dozens of officers during assault on U.S. Capitol


Julian Elie Khater and George Pierre Tanios – charged and arrested in the Death of US Capitol Police Officer Brian Siknick

Finally and yes it was captured on Body Worn Camera(s)

Both charged (these are incredibly serious charges);

18 U.S.C. §§ 111(a) and (b) – Assault on Federal Officer with Dangerous Weapon; 18 U.S.C. §§ 111(a) and (b) – Assault on Federal Officer with Dangerous Weapon; 18 U.S.C. §§ 111(a) and (b) – Assault on Federal Officer with Dangerous Weapon; 18 U.S.C. § 372 – Conspiracy to Injure an Officer; 18 U.S.C. § 231(a)(3) – Civil Disorder; 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2) – Obstructing or Impeding Any Official Proceeding; 18 U.S.C. § 1752(a)(1), (2), (4), (b)(1)(A) and (b)(1)(B) – Physical violence on restricted grounds, while carrying dangerous weapon, and resulting in significant bodily injury; 40 U.S.C. § 5104(e)(2)(f) – Violent entry and disorderly conduct, act of physical violence on Capitol Grounds; and 18 U.S.C. § 2 – Aiding and Abetting.

As the affidavit reads:

“Officers Sicknick, Edwards and Chapman, who are standing within a few feet of KHATER, all react, one by one, to something striking them in the face. The officers immediately retreat from the line, bring their hands to their faces and rush to find water to wash out their eyes…

….defendants, JULIAN ELIE KHATER and GEORGE PIERRE TANIOS, working together to assault law enforcement officers with an unknown chemical substance by spraying officers directly in the face and eyes….”

Again I’ll never understand why the “fire extinguisher” took root – I repeatedly tried to tell my readers that was disinformation that the death was likely caused by the excessive deployment of a chemical irritant;

“KHATER continues to talk animatedly with TANIOS. At approximately 2:20 p.m., KHATER walks through the crowd to within a few steps of the bike rack barrier. KHATER is standing directly across from a line of law enforcement officers to include U.S. Capitol Police (“USCP”) Officers B. Sicknick and C. Edwards, and Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) Officer D. Chapman, who was equipped with a functioning body worn camera (“BWC”) device.

Officer Chapman’s BWC shows that at 2:23 p.m., the rioters begin pulling on a bike rack to Chapman’s left, using ropes and their hands to pull the rack away. Seconds later, KHATER is observed with his right arm up high in the air, appearing to be holding a canister in his right hand and aiming it in the officers’ direction while moving his right arm from side to side. Officer Chapman’s BWC confirms that KHATER was standing only five to eight feet away from the officers.

“Officers Sicknick, Edwards and Chapman, who are standing within a few feet of KHATER, all react, one by one, to something striking them in the face. The officers immediately retreat from the line, bring their hands to their faces and rush to find water to wash out their eyes, as described in further detail…

“KHATER is again observed raising his arm and continues to spray in the direction of law enforcement officers. MPD Lt. Bagshaw notices these actions and approaches KHATER. At 2:23 p.m., Lt. Bagshaw then sprays KHATER, as observed on both surveillance footage and Lt. Bagshaw’s BWC….”

“All three officers were incapacitated and unable to perform their duties for at least 20 minutes or longer while they recovered from the spray. Officer Edwards reported lasting injuries underneath her eyes, including scabbing that remained on her face for weeks…”

“Defendant KHATER was listed as subject number 190. Defendant TANIOS was listed as subject number 254. A tipster to the FBI provided information that TANIOS and KHATER knew each other and grew up together in New Jersey…”

So investigators received several tips and subsequently reviewed the defendant’s LinkedIn account and other social media accounts

It came down to the “Sandwich University” sweatshirt and a keen eye by both a former coworker and the investigators …

“kingofthefatsandwich.” no really that’s in the affidavit …

Redacted Affiliation Found here. According to the DOJ-OPA:

“…arrested on Sunday in connection with a complaint filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., charging them with conspiring to injure officers and assaulting federal officers, among other charges, on Jan. 6.  Khater was arrested as he disembarked from an airplane at Newark Airport in New Jersey.  Tanios was arrested at his residence in West Virginia.

Motion for Detention filed by USA as to Defendant Tanios:

https://ecf.wvnd.uscourts.gov/doc1/19903090082

Or via my public drive https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xwceNNp-gLcaVKJte87Ds6ViR76Er1av/view?usp=drivesdk

Sorry more files incoming – paperless Minute Order WVDC- Defendant Tanios

United States v. 2012 White Jeep Grand Cherokee with West Virginia License Tag 53T507, VIN 1C4RJFAT2CC204303 (1:21-mj-00024) ECF

-and it is well worth reading the 65+page affidavit in support of the search warrant – I uploaded it to my public drive, found here. I literally have <27 minutes before I have to jump on a Teams Call – so I’m speedy racing through the Court Documents

United States v. 708 Beechurst Avenue, Morgantown, WV 26505 (1:21-mj-00025)

Seized)(mh) (copy USA, Agent) (Entered: 03/14/2021)

Document Number:1 Attachment Description Affidavit Agent – Attachment A – Property to be Searched and Attachment B – Description of Property to be Seized

United States v. 205 Blue Ridge Lane, Morgantown, WV 26508 (1:21-mj-00026) ECF

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Congress May Have to Act to Punish Saudi Arabia

Congress May Have to Act to Punish Saudi Arabia

By David M. Wight, Washington Post

While President Biden enjoyed widespread praise for releasing an intelligence report concluding that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, he also received criticism for not sanctioning Mohammed. On March 1, Rep. Tom Malinowski [D-N.J.] introduced a bill denying the prince entry into the United States and conditioning any future US arms sales to Saudi Arabia upon the White House certifying that the kingdom was no longer intimidating its critics in the United States.

That fits with a recent trend: Both Biden and members of Congress have vocally supported curbing arms sales to Saudi Arabia, in part because of the killing of Khashoggi. Their willingness to follow through, however, will face the same challenges that confronted, and ultimately torpedoed, President Jimmy Carter’s resolve to reduce arms sales to the Saudis. In fact, several key developments in US-Saudi relations transformed Carter and members of Congress from advocates of arms-sales restrictions to promoters of expanding sales.

From the 1940s through the 1960s, the United States, Saudi Arabia’s primary arms provider, limited the size and scope of the weapons it sold to the Saudis so as to conserve its limited budget and restrain potential arms races in the Middle East.

During the 1970s, however, oil prices skyrocketed, and Saudi Arabia, at that point the largest oil exporter in the world, enjoyed a windfall. Suddenly, the kingdom had unparalleled influence over the global oil market and enormous revenue with which to buy imports, including weapons. Conversely, the United States experienced rapidly rising energy import costs and fuel shortages. These problems compounded when Saudi Arabia led an Arab oil embargo against the United States in retaliation for its massive arms resupply to “Israel” during the 1973 Arab-“Israeli” War.

The administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford worked strenuously to repair Washington’s tattered alliance with the Saudi monarchy and obtain its help in restraining oil prices, in large part by offering the sale of advanced US weapons. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger offered Saudi King Faisal the US government’s “cooperation in the military field … to strengthen our friendship on a long-term basis.” Faisal and his successors responded positively, ending the Arab oil embargo in 1974 and subduing demands within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries for even higher oil prices. In exchange, US arms and military construction sales to Saudi Arabia soared from $300 million in 1972 to $7.1 billion in 1976.

Yet this provoked increasing opposition within the United States, including in Congress. An array of factors drove this opposition, including a desire to protect “Israel’s” military superiority, to curb costly arms races, to reduce the potential for war and to prevent powerful weapons technology from falling into hostile hands through theft or a coup. Accordingly, in 1974, Congress passed a law empowering itself to veto major arms sales approved by the president. In 1976, a bipartisan coalition used that new tool to compel Ford to reduce missile sales to Saudi Arabia.

That year, Carter, as a presidential candidate, declared that the rise in US arms sales to the Arab world constituted “a deviation from idealism … from a commitment to [‘Israel’]” and “a yielding to economic pressure … on the oil issue.” Once president, while seeking to preserve Saudi-US cooperation, Carter worked to steadily reduce weapons and military construction sales to Saudi Arabia. In 1977, during his first year in office, they dropped by more than two-thirds.

But Saudi leaders relentlessly pressed for more US weapons, saying they needed to defend themselves against Soviet-armed countries such as Iraq and what was then South Yemen. They especially desired to purchase advanced F-15 jet fighters. Saudi Crown Prince Fahd, for example, told the US ambassador that “the F-15 issue was a basic, crucial test of our relationship” and threatened to obtain comparable weapons from France, Britain or even the Soviet Union, countries that had ignored Carter’s entreaties for shared restraint in global arms transfers.

To preserve the Saudi-US relationship and obtain Saudi cooperation on oil and the Arab-“Israeli” ‘peace’ process, Carter shifted course and agreed to the F-15 sales in 1978. Activists and members of Congress mobilized to block the deal, however, including a young Sen. Joe Biden. Carter, along with Saudi-hired PR firms and corporations doing business in the kingdom, spent significant political and monetary capital in making the case to the American public and Congress that the sale served US interests. In a concession to Congress, Carter provided written assurance that the Saudis would not be given certain missile capabilities for their F-15s. Even then, Carter barely won — the House voted to block the sale, and the Senate fell short of a veto only by six votes after an acrimonious debate.

Two events the following year shook Saudi and US leaders. The 1979 Iranian revolution ousted the US-aligned Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and replaced him with the hostile Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Iran’s massive stockpile of US-made weapons now threatened Saudi Arabia. The Soviet Union subsequently invaded Afghanistan, further inflaming the fears of Saudi royals that the Soviets aimed to encircle and conquer them. These two events generated new urgent pleas from Saudi Arabia for additional US arms.

For Carter and many members of Congress, these events made the Saudi kingdom appear even more vital to US interests. In response, they approved $10.2 billion in arms and military construction sales to Saudi Arabia to reassure its leaders of Washington’s commitment to their security. This decision ended presidential efforts to meaningfully restrain Saudi arms purchases for four decades — until now-President Biden entered office.

In the first weeks of his presidency, Biden declared an end to US support for the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, where the use of US weapons has inflamed anti-American sentiment and exacerbated a conflict that has killed more than 200,000 Yemenis. He likewise ordered a halt and review of last-minute arms agreements for Saudi Arabia authorized by predecessor Donald Trump. This has raised the hopes of some activists and politicians that Biden might continue to restrict arms to Saudi Arabia so long as its rulers endanger US interests and human rights. But the experience of the Carter administration cautions against assuming this is inevitable, as does Biden’s refusal to sanction Mohammed.

Some of today’s circumstances are quite different from those of the 1970s. Saudi Arabia’s influence over US oil supplies and prices is significantly less now than it was during the Carter years, lessening the pressure on Washington to satisfy arms requests. Conversely, however, the contemporary alliance between “Israel” and Saudi Arabia against Iran means pro-“Israel” lobbyists, a major force against arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the 1970s, now present, at most, a diminished hurdle.

But the basic bargain established by Nixon and Faisal, and ultimately retained by Carter, remains on the table: The United States sells arms to Saudi Arabia in exchange for Saudi cooperation on issues prioritized by Washington. Whether this arrangement persists depends on the calculations of leaders in both countries.

Saudi Arabia will continue to argue that the threat from Iran necessitates increased weapons imports and threaten to acquire arms elsewhere if US offers are not forthcoming. That would be costly for the Saudis, because their armed forces are heavily reliant on US weapons technology and training, and it would inevitably weaken the Saudi-US relationship. Yet Saudi leaders may reluctantly attempt such an undertaking if they determine Washington has abandoned the alliance or attached too many strings to it.

The Biden administration seeks to maintain the Saudi-US partnership but expects greater Saudi cooperation on human rights and US strategic concerns in exchange for more US weapons. How demanding Biden will be on these points remains to be seen. But just as for Carter, the more Biden believes vital US interests in the Middle East are threatened by Iran or another power, the more likely he is to abandon other objectives and turn to arms sales to secure the Saudi-US alliance.

Congress could prove to be a wild card: It will weigh the same issues as the White House, but historically it has shown more appetite for restricting arms sales to Saudi Arabia. This raises the possibility that it could step in if the administration proves too acquiescent.

Blinken paves the way for a return to the nuclear deal in compliance with Iran’s terms بلينكين يمهّد للعودة إلى الاتفاق النووي رضوخاً لشروط إيران

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

Blinken paves the way for a return to the nuclear deal in compliance with Iran’s terms

Nasser Kandil

– In the context of a radio interview with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she said, “We have come a long way towards preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and all of this was subsequently abandoned by the Trump administration. Current U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken responded to Clinton’s question about his expectations of the outcome of Iran’s absence from the 5+1 meeting, with the participation of Russia and China, by saying that Iran “is speeding up towards the day when it will have the ability to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon in a very short time», considering that when the agreement was reached in 2015, Iran was tending to make this period a mere weeks. Blinken warned that allowing this to happen, and Iran’s acquiring a nuclear weapon, or being on the threshold of possessing a nuclear weapon, “enables it to act with greater impunity,” noting that taking military action against it would have “different consequences,” concluding that “the best answer is” We reached the agreement “that” put the nuclear program in a box, cut its tracks to be able to produce the materials needed to make a nuclear weapon, “and pushed the period called” the time of penetration to more than one year. “

– Blinken said that because of the agreement «we had very strong sanctions » through the use of the Snapback mechanism, to automatically reimpose them if Iran violates the agreement, adding that “after we got out of the deal, Iran felt good,” as if saying: “We can move forward; We no longer comply with the commitments we made. ” And Blinken went on to say,“ And now she returns to that point, where she can produce fissile material for a very powerful weapon in a short time. He stressed that «we have an interest in returning it to the box, then see if we can actually build something longer and stronger in terms of the duration of the agreement, as well as deal with some of the other actions that Iran is taking, because we have a real problem with ballistic missiles and what they are doing in their vicinity».

– In practice, Blinken rearranged President Joe Biden’s administration vision papers regarding the Iranian nuclear file, from the stage on which Iran should start the first step, to the stage we started the first step with the indirect release of Iranian deposits of more than ten billion dollars in South Korea and Iraq, in exchange for Iran attending a joint session Within the 5 + 1 platform, and then here he is rearranging the cards again with Iran’s refusal of less than an American declaration to retract the sanctions as a condition for Iran’s retreat from implementing its obligations stipulated in the agreement. He withdraws from the table the issues of Iranian missiles and Iran’s regional role to the post-return phase. Regarding the nuclear agreement, and the implementation of its obligations from both sides, that is, the lifting of sanctions in return for Iran’s return to its obligations, Blinken’s equation is clear, that Iran is comfortable not returning and approaching with a missile speed that it has sufficient capabilities to produce a nuclear weapon, and that Washington has an interest in blocking this path, and that the abolition of sanctions is a reasonable cost to achieve this goal, because the alternative is to confront a situation that “enables it to act with impunity.” “Knowing that carrying out military action against it will have various consequences,” concluding that “the best answer we came to was the agreement” that “put the nuclear program in a box and cut its paths to be able to produce the materials they need to build a nuclear weapon, and pay the nominal period at the time of penetration.” To more than one year ».

– The Biden administration in Blinkin’s tongue goes back to what the Barack Obama administration reached when Biden was vice president, betting on more time to bring Iran to an agreement that includes the missile file and the regional situation will mean giving Iran more time to acquire the capabilities to produce a nuclear weapon. The bet that something has changed as a result of the sanctions imposed by the administration of former President Donald Trump, is disappointing, as Iran appears more comfortable in its steps outside the agreement than it was in the days of previous negotiations, so priority is given to returning to the agreement and then it is possible to know what should be done to discuss the rest, “We have an interest in returning that to a box, and then seeing if we can actually build something longer and stronger in terms of the duration of the agreement, as well as deal with some other measures that Iran is taking, because we have a real problem with ballistic missiles and what they are doing in their vicinity.”

بلينكين يمهّد للعودة إلى الاتفاق النووي رضوخاً لشروط إيران

ناصر قنديل

في سياق حوار إذاعيّ مع وزيرة الخارجية السابقة هيلاري كلينتون قالت فيه «قطعنا شوطاً طويلاً نحو منع إيران من الحصول على سلاح نووي، وكل ذلك جرى التخلي بعد ذلك عنه من قبل إدارة ترامب. أجاب وزير الخارجية الأميركية الحالي توني بلينكين على سؤال كلينتون حول توقعاته لنتائج غياب إيران عن الاجتماع الذي وافقت عليه واشنطن ضمن صيغة الـ 5+1، بمشاركة روسيا والصين، بالقول بأن إيران «تسرع نحو اليوم الذي سيكون لديها فيه القدرة على إنتاج ما يكفي من المواد الانشطارية لسلاح نووي في وقت قصير جداً»، معتبراً أنه عند التوصل إلى الاتفاق عام 2015، كانت إيران تتجه إلى جعل ​​هذه المدة مجرد أسابيع. ونبّه بلينكن إلى أن السماح بحدوث ذلك، وامتلاك إيران سلاحاً نووياً، أو أن تكون على عتبة امتلاك سلاح نووي «يمكنها من التصرف مع إفلات أكبر من العقاب»، علماً بأن القيام بعمل عسكري ضدها ستكون له «عواقب مختلفة»، مستنتجاً أن «أفضل إجابة توصلنا إليها كانت الاتفاق» الذي «وضع البرنامج النووي في صندوق، وقطع مساراته لتكون قادرة على إنتاج المواد التي تحتاج إليها لصنع سلاح نووي»، ودفع المدة المسماة «وقت الاختراق إلى أكثر من عام واحد».

قال بلينكن إنه بسبب الاتفاق «كانت لدينا عقوبات قويّة للغاية»، عبر استخدام آلية «سناب باك»، لإعادة فرضها بصورة تلقائية إذا انتهكت إيران الاتفاقية، مضيفاً أن «الأهم من ذلك هو نظام المراقبة والتفتيش الأكثر تدخلاً الذي نمتلكه على الإطلاق لأي اتفاق للحدّ من الأسلحة». وقال إنه «بعد خروجنا من الصفقة، شعرت إيران بحال جيدة»، كأنما تقول: «يمكننا المضي قدماً؛ لم نعد نمتثل للالتزامات التي تعهدنا بها»، واستطرد بلينكن: «وها هي الآن تعود إلى تلك النقطة، حيث يمكن أن تنتج مواد انشطارية لسلاح في غاية القوة في وقت قصير»، وشدّد على أن «لدينا مصلحة في إعادة ذلك إلى صندوق، ثم معرفة ما إذا كان بإمكاننا بالفعل بناء شيء أطول وأقوى من حيث مدة الاتفاق، وكذلك التعامل مع بعض الإجراءات الأخرى التي تتخذها إيران، لأن لدينا مشكلة حقيقية مع الصواريخ الباليستية وما تقوم به في جوارها».

عملياً أعاد بلينكين ترتيب أوراق رؤية إدارة الرئيس جو بايدن تجاه الملف النووي الإيراني، من مرحلة على إيران أن تبدأ الخطوة الأولى، إلى مرحلة بدأنا الخطوة الأولى بالإفراج غير المباشر عن ودائع إيرانية تزيد عن عشرة مليارات دولار في كوريا الجنوبية والعراق، مقابل حضور إيران لجلسة مشتركة ضمن منصة الـ 5+1، ثم ها هو يعيد ترتيب الأوراق مجدداً مع رفض إيران لما هو أقل من إعلان أميركي بالتراجع عن العقوبات كشرط لتراجع إيران عن تنفيذ موجباتها التي نص عليها الاتفاق، فيسحب عن الطاولة قضيتي الصواريخ الإيرانية والدور الإقليمي لإيران إلى مرحلة تعقب العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي، وتنفيذ موجباته من الفريقين، أي رفع العقوبات مقابل عودة إيران الى التزاماتها. ومعادلة بلينكين واضحة، أن إيران مرتاحة لعدم العودة والاقتراب بسرعة صاروخية من امتلاك مقدرات كافية لإنتاج سلاح نووي، وأن واشنطن صاحبة مصلحة بقطع الطريق على هذا المسار، وأن إلغاء العقوبات كلفة معقولة لتحقيق هذا الهدف، لأن البديل هو مواجهة وضع «يمكنها من التصرف مع إفلات أكبر من العقاب»، مضيفاً، «علماً بأن القيام بعمل عسكري ضدها ستكون له عواقب مختلفة»، مستنتجاً أن «أفضل إجابة توصلنا إليها كانت الاتفاق» الذي «وضع البرنامج النووي في صندوق، وقطع مساراته لتكون قادرة على إنتاج المواد التي تحتاج إليها لصنع سلاح نووي، ودفع المدة المسمّاة وقت الاختراق إلى أكثر من عام واحد».

تعود إدارة بايدن بلسان بلينكين الى ما توصلت اليه إدارة باراك أوباما يوم كان بايدن نائباً للرئيس، وهو أن الرهان على مزيد من الوقت لجلب إيران إلى اتفاق يتضمن ملف الصواريخ والوضع الإقليمي، سيعني منح إيران المزيد من الوقت لامتلاك مقدرات إنتاج سلاح نووي، وأن الرهان على أن ثمّة ما تغير بفعل العقوبات التي فرضتها إدارة الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب، يكشف عقماً وخيبة، فإيران تظهر أكثر راحة في خطواتها خارج الاتفاق مما كانت عليه أيام المفاوضات السابقة، لذلك يعطي الأولوية للعودة إلى الاتفاق وبعدها يمكن معرفة ما يجب فعله لبحث الباقي، بقوله، «لدينا مصلحة في إعادة ذلك إلى صندوق، ثم معرفة ما إذا كان بإمكاننا بالفعل بناء شيء أطول وأقوى من حيث مدة الاتفاق، وكذلك التعامل مع بعض الإجراءات الأخرى التي تتخذها إيران، لأن لدينا مشكلة حقيقية مع الصواريخ الباليستية وما تقوم به في جوارها».

MSM IN PRAISE OF BIDEN’S STRATEGIC GENIUS

MSM In Praise Of Biden's Strategic Genius

On February 26th, US President Joe Biden ordered a strategic strike on pro-Iranian groups on the border between Syria and Iraq.

It allegedly targeted a weapon’s shipment, caused massive damage, had casualties, the entire package.

US Air Force F-15 Eagle fighter jets dropped 7 GPS-guided bombs on the position. It was a “shot across the bow” and a sort of warning to Iran.

It was also at a very strategic location – somewhere that the Syrian Arab Army and President Bashar al-Assad had failed to consolidate power ever since 2014. So that an escalation is avoided with the Syrian government.

Syrian and Russian forces are not deployed where U.S. jets struck last night. They have not been there for nearly a decade.

This is, of course, hailed as a genius move, especially compared with former US President Donald Trump’s strikes on Syria.

In April 2017, Trump approved a Tomahawk cruise missile strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government after alleged chemical weapons were used to kill Syrian civilians. There is still no proof of that.

Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles were launched from two US warships to destroy an airbase used the Syrian military.

One year later, Trump approved a second Tomahawk strike to destroy an alleged chemical weapons production facility. French and British forces joined in that effort, as well. U.S. warships in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf launched missiles into Syria.

The April 2018 strike marked the combat debut for the Virginia-class submarine. USS John Warner launched six Tomahawks from the Mediterranean into Syria.

And in what appears to be the crown difference, according to MSM, between Trump and Biden:

The Virginia-class submarine dove and prepared to sink any Russian warships should they take action against any U.S. Navy ships in the area including one that was acting as a decoy and didn’t launch missiles into Syria.

The decoy part has never been revealed, the time had come 3 years later.

Those two strikes in April of 2017 and 2018 were the first time the U.S. military has struck Assad’s forces in Syria after critics said Obama backed down from enforcing his red line on chemical weapons.

Still, Obama, carried out so many more strikes on various targets throughout the Middle East.

A better comparison for this week’s strike in Eastern Syria is when Trump approved the U.S. military to launch airstrikes in that same area in December 2019 when an American contractor was killed in a rocket attack in Iraq days prior.

The entire MSM narrative regarding the strikes by Trump and Biden is this – Trump was willing to allegedly cause a large escalation, while Biden simply struck one of the most low significance locations, so as not to cause to any further issues.

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The Khashoggi Bomb: What Does Biden Want from Riyadh & What Are MBS’s Options?

The Khashoggi Bomb: What Does Biden Want from Riyadh & What Are MBS’s Options?

By Ali Abadi

The release of the US intelligence community’s declassified report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is more than two years overdue. Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

The sanctions announced by the administration of US President Joe Biden did not include specific measures against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. This despite the fact that the report pins the murder on the royal. The report states that the hit team could have only gotten its marching orders from the Crown Prince, given the latter’s tight grip on the security apparatus.

The CIA report did not introduce any new information. But the intelligence assessment about what transpired and who is responsible are important. The substance of the report was toned down following several weeks of consultations between Biden and his team. The aim was to avoid pushing their Saudi ally into a corner and keeping an outlet for him to modify his behavior in line with the policies of the new US government.

The report asks correlative questions

Do the steps taken by the US administration regarding the assassination of Khashoggi indicate a turning point in the relations between the two states? Are they merely scoring political points in restoring American soft power by pretending to protect human rights? Or are these steps the end of the tolerance phase practiced by former US President Donald Trump and do they mark the start of a new relationship based on new-old foundations?

American review

First, let’s review the steps that have been taken to date by the Biden administration vis-à-vis the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:

– Halting the supply of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE and pushing for an exit from the US-sponsored Saudi predicament in Yemen

– Calling for the release of human rights activists in the Kingdom.

– Stopping US communication with the Saudi Crown Prince and limiting presidential communication with King Salman

– Announcing gradual steps, even if currently conditional, to return to the nuclear agreement with Iran

– Perhaps most importantly, the declaration of a break from the Trump era in several areas, including those related to dealing with Saudi Arabia leading up to the release of the Khashoggi report

It is clear that the new administration in Washington doesn’t enjoy a harmonious relationship with the current ruling team in Saudi Arabia, specifically with Mohammed bin Salman, who seized power by force, imprisoned his opponents [some of whom are in cahoots with officials in the deep state in America] or placed them under house arrest. Bin Salman is attempting to buy the support of the US government for all his reckless actions, while harming American soft power, especially with the open wound in Yemen.

There is a very important point that may be the main motive behind the new way America is dealing with Riyadh. Circles of the American elite, among the Democrats in general and even some Republicans, feel indignant and suspicious regarding the very special relationship between the Saudi Crown Prince and former US President Donald Trump and his entourage. The Democrats, in particular, want to break this relationship and expose it retroactively. There is a current within the Democratic Party that wants to go further than Biden in dealing with Riyadh. However, the US President preferred a traditional approach that separates the relationship with the Saudi Crown Prince from the one with the entire Saudi government, despite the fact that the two are indistinguishable. Even the Saudi King cannot break away from the authority of his favorite son, and this is another story.

How will Saudi Arabia respond?

Saudi Arabia’s official version about the trial of Khashoggi’s killers is irrelevant. The outcome of the trial was always a foregone conclusion, and it ended in limiting the charges to a number of people and removing the accusation not only from the Crown Prince but from his two closest associates, Saud Al-Qahtani and Ahmed Al-Asiri.

The death penalty against the killers was also abolished, while the family of the victim was compelled to waive their right to retribution in exchange for financial compensation [a typical Saudi procedure in such cases]. Of course, we are not interested now in recovering the contradictions of the official Saudi narrative, which involved disjointed narratives since the assassination saga began to unfold.

However, each of the above steps is sufficient to annoy the Saudis, who are very disappointed with the end of the Trump era, in which the Saudi Crown Prince invested hundreds of billions of dollars in order to cover his impulsive policies. Trump left, and the Saudi money went to the US treasury and American companies. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is once again in the dark about the American agenda that represents an extension of the Obama era. Faced with the American moment of truth, the Saudi government will have to deprecate this incomplete revelation through:

– Downplaying the importance of the US measures and the talk that the Saudi judiciary has spoken in the case

– Stirring up patriotism among the Saudis to give renewed legitimacy to the Crown Prince, whose image was tarnished by this crime

– Betting on time to overcome this saga

– Accelerating the relationship with “Israel” in order to use its influence in Washington to moderate the dealings with the Saudi Crown Prince. In this sense, normalization becomes a price [currently hidden] for legitimizing Bin Salman’s status in Washington

– Hinting to the Americans that Riyadh is looking for alternatives to American weapons with China and Russia, for example, in order to push Washington to reduce its criticism of the Saudi Crown Prince

Most of what the Biden administration wants is for Riyadh to return to the ranks of the passenger rather than Saudi Arabia leading the United States to where it wants in the region, especially after the Saudi Crown Prince proved unprecedented recklessness in managing internal affairs and a lack of efficiency in managing regional challenges.

The Biden administration also wants to preempt any Saudi or non-Saudi objection to returning to the nuclear agreement with Iran and to dispel any attempt by Riyadh and others to enlarge their role in a way that disturbs the new government managing this file from the perspective of various US priorities. We should pause here at an interesting point, which is that the Biden administration is adopting a triple containment strategy for objections to the nuclear deal that was reached in the era of the Democrats in 2015.

This strategy includes, in addition to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and “Israel”. In addition to stopping the US presidential communication with Bin Salman and halting offensive weapons supplies to Riyadh, Washington has also stopped arms deals with the UAE and has allowed, in a carefully studied time frame, to publish satellite images of construction operations at the “Israeli” Dimona reactor, at a time when Netanyahu waited weeks to receive a call from Biden.

In conclusion, the new US administration aims to get rid of Trump’s legacy on several levels and reset US-Saudi relations to a purely American rhythm, but the desired justice stopped with Mohammed Bin Salman.

Let’s remember:

– Jamal Khashoggi’s body was never found, and the Saudi side refuses to reveal its fate.

– We are facing a declassified US report, which means that the US administration preferred to keep secret facts under wraps in order to preserve relations with Saudi Arabia and maintain the loyalty of Riyadh.

– We are facing scanty measures against those involved in the crime. Not granting them entry visas to the United States is the weakest measure in the huge US sanctions arsenal, and Washington was satisfied with the weaker punishment.

– The bitter cup was removed from the Crown Prince, although the moral message was received.

– It is important to note the impact of this position on the way European countries and the international community view the Saudi Crown Prince, who will remain in his father’s shadow as long as the latter is alive.

The question remains: What is Mohammed Bin Salman’s fate after the current king? Will his past be overlooked and his position on the altar of American strategic interests be normalized, or is Washington thinking about reopening the path of the caliphate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is currently unavailable after Bin Salman smashed all possible alternatives?

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Israel Reportedly Points Finger at Iran After Cargo Ship Explosion in Gulf of Oman

Ship fire Gulf of Oman
A video grab shows a fire and smoke billowing from a ship in the Gulf of Oman (photo by Gulf Today).

Source

15:03 GMT 27.02.2021

An explosion that ripped through an Israeli-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday could be the work of Iran, The Times of Israel reports, citing unnamed Israeli officials as saying.  

Unsourced reports from the Israeli media outlets Haaretz and Channel 13 claimed that Iran knew that the vessel was owned by an Israeli businessman – who himself rejected the speculation pertaining to the Islamic Republic.

A separate unsourced report by Israel’s Channel 12 asserted that the explosion was caused by a missile fired by an Iranian warship.

This was echoed by the maritime risk-management firm Dryad Global, which tweeted on Friday that the blast could possibly stem from “asymmetric activity by Iranian military”. Tehran has not commented on the matter yet.

The company identified the ship as the MV Helios Ray, claiming that the blast took place as the vessel with 28 crew members on board was about 44 nautical miles (50 miles) from Oman’s capital Muscat.

No one was reportedly hurt in the blast, which ostensibly caused several holes in the port and starboard sides of the ship, owned by Israeli businessman Abraham Ungar, founder of Ray Shipping Ltd.

The maritime risk intelligence company Ambrey Intelligence posted a raft of photos on its Twitter page, thought to show damage to the Helios Ray as a result of the explosion. The authenticity of the images has yet to be confirmed.

The Israeli media reports come as the satellite-tracking data from the website MarineTraffic.com showed that the explosion-hit cargo ship arrived at a Dubai port earlier on Saturday.

This was preceded by Ungar being quoted by the Ynet news outlet as claiming that the explosion was most likely caused by “missiles or a mine placed on the bow”.

“Israeli authorities will investigate this together with me. I don’t think this deliberately targeted an Israeli-owned ship. That has not happened to me before”, the businessman added.

He reportedly went even further by asserting that the blast could be “part of the game between Iran and the US, that’s why they are hitting Western ships”.

The claims come after the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said, without providing further details, that a ship was hit by an explosion in the Gulf of Oman at 20:40 GMT on Thursday. The UKMTO added that “investigations are ongoing” and that the “vessel and crew are safe”.

Iran-US Tensions

The developments come amid increasing tensions between Tehran and the US, Israel’s ally, which escalated on 25 February, when two F-15 jets launched seven missiles in Syrian territory, following an order from US President Joe Biden.

The attack destroyed nine facilities and partially damaged two facilities, making them unsuitable for use. The facilities were used, according to Washington, by Shia militia group Kata’ib Hezbollah and other formations that are believed to be behind attacks against American military assets in Iraq.

Iran denounced the US airstrikes as “aggression” and a “violation of international law”, insisting that the US presence in Syria is illegal. The attack was also condemned by Syrian authorities as a “cowardly aggression” that will “lead to consequences that will escalate the situation in the region”.

President Biden, for his part, said that Thursday’s US airstrikes are a message to Iran: “You can’t act with impunity. Be careful”.

US-Iranian tensions have been in place since then-President Donald Trump announced Washington’s unilateral exit from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018, and the reinstatement of strict economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Exactly a year later, Tehran announced that it had started scaling down some of its JCPOA obligations, including those related to uranium enrichment.

As far as Israel and Iran are concerned, relations between the two sides remain frozen, with Tehran denying the Jewish state’s right to exist and frequently pledging to destroy it.

Over the last few years, Israel has reportedly carried out a number of airstrikes on Syria, which Tel Aviv says are aimed at countering the alleged Iranian military presence in the Arab Republic. Damascus condemns such attacks as violations of Syria’s national sovereignty, while Tehran insists that there are only Iranian military advisers in the country to help the government fight terrorists.


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Biden’s Journey: Change Is Imperceptible

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

Philip Giraldi

February 25, 2021

Biden has been a major disappointment for those who hoped that he’d change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts.

The new White House Team has been in place for more than a month and it is perhaps time to consider where it is going with America’s fractured foreign policy. To be sure, when a new administration brings in a bunch of “old hands” who made their bones by attacking Syria and Libya while also assassinating American citizens by drone one might hope that those mistakes might have served as valuable “lessons learned.” Or maybe not, since no one in the Democratic Party ever mentions the Libya fiasco and President Joe Biden has already made it clear that Syria will continue to be targeted with sanctions as well as with American soldiers based on its soil. And no one will be leaving Afghanistan any time soon. The Biden team will only let up when Afghanistan is “secure” and there is regime change in Damascus.

A big part of the problem is that the personnel moves mean that the poison from the Barack Obama years has now been reintroduced into the tottering edifice that Donald Trump left behind. Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice once made the case for attacking the Libyans by explaining how Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi provided his soldiers with Viagra so they could more readily engage in mass rapes of presumably innocent civilians. Unfortunately, Sue is back with the new administration as the Director of the Domestic Policy Council where she will no doubt again wreak havoc in her own inimitable fashion. She is joined at the top level of the administration by Tony Blinken as Secretary of State, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, Samantha Power as head of USAID and retired General Lloyd J. Austin as Secretary of Defense. All of the appointees are regarded as “hawks” and have personal history working with Biden when he was in Congress and as Vice President, while most of them also served in the Obama administration.

Be that as it may, Joe Biden and whoever is pulling his strings have assembled a group of establishment warmongers and aspirant social justice engineers that is second to none. Those who expected something different than the usual Democratic Party template have definitely been disappointed. Hostility towards China continues with warships being sent to the South China Sea and the president is seeking to create a new Trans-Atlantic alliance directed against both Beijing and Moscow. The Europeans are reportedly not enthusiastic about remaining under Washington’s thumb and would like some breathing room.

In a phone conversation where it would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall, Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States would no longer ignore his bad behavior. The official White House account of the call included the following pithy summary: “President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ firm support for Ukraine’s sovereignty. He also raised other matters of concern, including the SolarWinds hack, reports of Russia placing bounties on United States soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 United States election, and the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny.”

And to be sure, there have already been a number of issues that Biden might have dealt with by executive order, like lifting the illegal and unjustified blockade of Cuba, that could have inspired some hope that the new administration would not be just another bit of old wine in new bottles. Alas, that has not taken place but for a series of moves to unleash another wave of illegal immigration and to “protect LGBTQ rights globally.” Biden has also retained a heavy military presence in Washington itself, possibly as part of a Constitution-wrecking plan to tackle what he is referring to as “domestic terrorism.” The domestic terrorists being targeted appear to largely consist of people who are white working and middle class and voted for Trump.

In some ways, foreign policy might have been the easiest fix if the new administration were really seeking to correct the misadventures of the past twenty years. Quite the contrary, Biden and his associates have actually reversed the sensible and long overdue policies initiated by Donald Trump to reduce troop strength in Germany and bring the soldiers home from Syria and Afghanistan. Biden has already committed to an indefinite stay in Afghanistan, America’s longest “lost” war, and has covertly sent more soldiers into Syria as well as Iraq.

As regards Latin America, the U.S. clearly is prepared to double down on regime change in Venezuela, continuing its Quixotic support of Juan Guaido as president. Meanwhile, the new Secretary of State Tony Blinken has clearly indicated that there will be no end to deference to Israeli interests in the Middle East. Under questioning by Congress, he has insisted that Israel will be “consulted” on U.S. policy to include arms sales in the region, which has been interpreted to mean that Jerusalem will have a veto, and has confirmed that his view on Iran is identical to that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both are apparently promoting the view that Iran will have enough enriched uranium to construct a weapon within a few weeks, though they have not addressed other technical aspects of what would actually be required to build one. Netanyahu has been making the claim about the Iranian threat since the 1980s and now it is also an element of U.S. policy.

Biden and Blinken have also moved forward slowly on a campaign commitment to attempt renegotiation of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran that President Trump withdrew from in 2017. As a condition to re-start discussions, the Iranian leadership has demanded a return to the status quo ante, meaning that the punitive sanctions initiated by Trump would have to be canceled and Iran would in return cease all enrichment activities. Biden and Blinken, which admittedly sounds a bit like a vaudeville comedy duo, have reportedly agreed to withdraw the Trump sanctions but have also suggested that Iran will have to make other concessions, to include ending its ballistic missile development program and ceasing its “meddling” in the Middle East. Iran will refuse to agree to that, which means that the bid to renegotiate could turn out to be nothing more than a bit of theater involving multilateral “discussions” hosted by the European Union and the pointless hostility between Washington and Tehran will continue.

And speaking again of Israel, there have been concerns expressed by the usual suspects because Biden had not called telephoned Netanyahu immediately after the inauguration. It may be true that the president was sending a somewhat less than subtle message signaling that he was in charge, but the call has now taken place and everything is hunky-dory. As a separate issue, the Jewish state has, of course, the world’s only secret nuclear arsenal, estimated to consist of at least 200 bombs, and it also has several systems available to deliver them on target. For no reasons that make any sense, the United States since the time of President Richard Nixon has never publicly confirmed the existence of the weapons, preferring to maintain “nuclear ambiguity” that allows Israel to have the weapons without any demands for inspections or constraints on their use. The most recent four presidents have, in fact, signed secret agreements with Israel not to expose the nuclear arsenal. Biden has apparently not done so yet, but appeals by international figures, including most recently South African Desmond Tutu, had produced some expectations that the new administration might break with precedent.

Giving aid to Israel is, in fact, illegal due to the Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, which bans U.S. economic and military assistance to nuclear proliferators and countries that seek to acquire nuclear weapons. But Biden has already indicated that he would not under any circumstances cut aid to Israel, so the matter would appear to be closed. In any event the Symington Amendment includes an exemption clause that would allow the funding to continue as long as the president certifies to Congress that continued aid to the proliferator would be a vital U.S. interest. Given Israel’s power in both Congress and the White House it is not imaginable that its aid would be affected no matter what Netanyahu and his band of criminals choose to do.

So, it would seem that Biden is unprepared to either pressure or pursue any distancing from Israel and its policies, not a good sign for those of us who have encouraged some disengagement from the Middle East quagmire. And one final issue where some of us have hoped to see some movement from Biden has also been a disappointment. That is Julian Assange, who is fighting against efforts to have him extradited from England to face trial and imprisonment in the U.S. under the Espionage Act. Many observers believe that Assange is a legitimate journalist who is being set up for a show trial with only one possible outcome. The entire process is to a large extent being driven by a desire for revenge coming largely from the Democratic Party since Assange was responsible for publishing the Hillary Clinton emails as well as other party documents. Biden has already indicated that the process of extraditing Assange will continue.

So, Biden has been a major disappointment for those who expected that he might change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts while also having the good sense and courage to make relations with countries like Iran and Israel responsive to actual U.S. interests. Finally, it would be a good sign if Assange were to be released from the threat of trial and prison, if only to recognize that free speech and a free press benefit everyone, but that is perhaps a bridge too far as the United States moves inexorably towards a totalitarian state intolerant of dissent.

America’s Middle East Policy Is Outdated and Dangerous سياسة أميركا في الشرق الأوسط خطيرة وعفا عليها الزمن

**Please scroll down for the Arabic Version first published in Al-Mayadeen **

A New Approach to the Gulf States Needs a Better Foundation

U.S. aircraft at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, April 2016

By Chris Murphy

February 19, 2021

In his 1980 State of the Union address, which came in the wake of the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979, U.S. President Jimmy Carter described in grave terms the risks of losing access to Middle Eastern oil. “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America,” he said. “Such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” That pledge became known as the Carter Doctrine, and it has remained a defining feature of U.S. Middle East policy ever since.

At the time of Carter’s pronouncement, the United States relied heavily on oil imports to power its economy, and 29 percent of that oil came from the Persian Gulf. Even two decades later, little had changed: in 2001, the United States still imported 29 percent of its oil from the Gulf. But it’s not 1980 or 2001 anymore. Today, the United States produces as much oil as it gets from abroad, and only 13 percent comes from Gulf countries. The United States now imports more oil from Mexico than it does from Saudi Arabia.

Yet even as the driving rationale for the so-called Carter Doctrine has become obsolete, it continues to shape the United States’ approach to the Gulf—emblematic of a broader failure of U.S. policy to catch up with the broader changes to U.S. interests in the region since the 1980s. President Joe Biden should acknowledge new realities and reset the United States’ relationships in the Gulf in a way that promotes American values, keeps Washington out of unnecessary foreign entanglements, and prioritizes regional peace and stability.

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There are myriad reasons for strong relations between the United States and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The decisions by Bahrain and the UAE to establish formal ties to Israel are a clear sign of the positive influence these countries can exert. Kuwait and Oman play powerful roles in mediating regional conflicts. The United States’ counterterrorism partnerships with GCC countries, while frequently flawed, are still crucial, as these governments often have information on extremist networks that U.S. intelligence cannot glean on its own. And the United States is broadening its people-to-people ties with the region: today, tens of thousands of students from the Gulf study at U.S. colleges and universities. Accordingly, the United States must make clear to Gulf allies that its goal is not to pull away from the region but instead to create a more substantive and stable link between the United States and the GCC.

But it is past time to admit that there is a central design flaw in the United States’ current approach to the Gulf: the top two GCC priorities for the relationship—sustaining U.S. military assistance to fight regional proxy wars and maintaining U.S. silence on domestic political repression—will, in the long run, destroy the GCC countries themselves. The United States’ objective must be to replace this broken foundation with a new system that supports a peaceful Gulf replete with stable, diversified national economies and responsive governments—the kind of future that leaders such as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman staunchly claim the Gulf is seeking. A U.S.-Gulf relationship built on economic, diplomatic, and governance ties, rather than just brute security partnerships, will accrue to the benefit of both U.S. and Middle Eastern interests.

AVOIDING PROXY WARS

The first step is for the United States to disengage from the GCC’s proxy wars with Iran. The Iranian government is a U.S. adversary, but the festering series of hot and cold conflicts in the region—in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen—has simply served to strengthen Iran’s influence and create cataclysmic levels of human suffering. A pullback from U.S. intervention in places such as Syria and Yemen will, no doubt, cause immediate consternation in the Gulf. By now, however, the enormous costs of the false belief that the United States can indirectly steer the outcomes in Syria and Yemen are crystal clear. In both theaters, the United States’ tepid, halfway military involvement was never substantial enough to tip the balance and has served instead to extend the conflicts. Washington suffers from a hubristic confidence in its ability to accomplish political goals through military interventions. Instead, the most significant effect of recent U.S. Middle East adventurism has been to fuel perpetual wars that embolden extremist groups and allow anti-American sentiment to grow.

It is past time to admit that there is a central design flaw in the United States’ current approach to the Gulf.

Although the United States should retain its security partnerships with Gulf nations, the U.S. footprint should be smaller. Before the Gulf War, the United States was able to protect its interests in the region without massive military bases in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia and without billions in annual arms sales to these same nations. The foreign policy community in Washington acts as if this massive military presence is now mandatory to protect U.S. interests, even though it wasn’t prior to the creation of the post-9/11 security state. U.S. bases are costly, drawing focus away from increasingly important theaters such as Africa and Asia; they create pressure on the United States to ignore serious human rights abuses lest criticism puts the troop presence at risk; and they stand out as military targets and propaganda fodder for Iran, al Qaeda, and the Islamic State (or ISIS). As U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin undertakes a global review of the United States’ military posture, the Biden administration should seriously consider reducing its military basing in the region. Reconsidering the costs and benefits of basing the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain would be a good start, as the United States’ massive footprint is becoming more trouble than it is worth.

Finally, although the United States should continue to sell military equipment to its partners, Washington should ensure that it is selling truly defensive arms. Today, too many American weapons are used irresponsibly and in violation of international law. Others, such as the recently announced Reaper drone sale to the UAE, fuel a regional arms race that runs counter to U.S. security interests. As it pulls back on systems with more offensive capabilities, however, the United States should still be willing to provide more advanced defensive weapons, such as Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile technology, that fit the Gulf’s real security threats.

If Washington does these things, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will inevitably complain that the United States is abandoning them and empowering Iran. The Biden administration’s task will be to convince them that there is an alternative to a never-ending military contest with Tehran. A regional security dialogue that includes all parties can replace the arms race and proxy wars. This may sound like a utopian fantasy, but it is far from it. The green shoots of this dialogue have been showing for years, and able U.S. leadership, applying both vinegar and honey, can begin to create a structure for détente. And although the United States should not give the Emiratis or Saudis veto power over a bilateral nuclear agreement with Iran, a regional dialogue would tie the Gulf countries closer to the United States on Iran policy and likely give the GCC greater input on any future agreement Washington makes.

TESTING DE-ESCALATION

The Biden administration is best positioned to test the region’s readiness for this kind of de-escalation in Yemen. The pieces that have been missing—meaningful pressure and a credible interlocutor—are now moving into position as the Biden administration ends U.S. support for offensive operations and appoints a new special envoy to support the UN peace process. The United States is the only nation that can move the ball forward. If Washington can find a path toward peace in Yemen, where an inclusive post-Hadi Yemeni government coexists with Houthi leaders as the country rebuilds with international aid, it could be proof of concept for a broader dialogue.

De-escalation should be wildly appealing to the United States’ Gulf partners. Declining oil revenues mean these nations will soon need to make hard choices between investing in economic reforms and fighting wars in foreign countries. Given these persistent conflicts and the state control of local economies, attracting meaningful foreign investment to the region is largely a fantasy. For the United States, another benefit to decreased tensions between the Gulf and Iran is fewer incentives for Gulf interests to spread Wahhabi Islam throughout the Muslim world. This ultraconservative and intolerant brand of Islam often forms the building blocks of extremist ideology, and the Gulf-Iran feud fuels its export (alongside its revolutionary Shiite counterpart).

Biden has a chance to reset Washington’s partnerships with Gulf nations.

The United States must also drive a harder bargain with the Gulf states on questions of human rights. In the wake of Donald Trump’s attacks on American democracy, it will be even more important for Biden to match his talk of the rule of law and civil rights with actions at home and abroad. The United States has difficult work ahead to rebuild its global brand, but ending Washington’s hear-no-evil, see-no-evil approach in the Gulf will help.

Still, the U.S. conversation with the Gulf on human rights should be realistic. These countries will not become modern democracies overnight. If the Gulf really wants to attract international investment, however, it must address ongoing brutal crackdowns on political dissent and the lack of the rule of law. Serious outside private investment is unlikely as long as these nations torture political prisoners, maintain a draconian “guardian system” that restricts women’s ability to travel, and constantly harass dissidents abroad. Frankly, Gulf leaders should see expanding political rights as an existential issue. The United States must help these regimes understand that their long-standing social bargain of “no taxation, but no representation either” cannot last. As population growth outstrips oil revenues, royal families will soon no longer be able to afford that payoff. Once subsidies atrophy but repression remains, a disastrous storm of unrest will brew. Luckily, there are models of limited reform in the Gulf that can help the laggards inch along. Kuwaitis, for instance, elect a parliament that maintains some independence from the crown. Although this is far from modern participatory democracy, it provides some guideposts to which more repressive regimes can look.

NO COLD WAR REDUX

In pursuing this new course, some sky-will-fall adherents to the status quo will argue that if the Biden administration drives too hard a bargain, Gulf leaders will turn away from the United States and toward China or Russia. This argument is a red herring, one that plays on a misunderstanding of both the irreplaceability of military alignment with the United States and the willingness of China and Russia to get their hands dirty in Middle Eastern politics. This isn’t the Cold War: Russia has little to offer in the region, and as global oil usage continues to fall, Moscow will inevitably compete with Gulf countries for buyers. Although China will continue to look for economic opportunities in the region, it will be unwilling to play a real security role anytime in the near future. The Chinese navy isn’t going to come to the aid of a Gulf country under attack. If the Bahrainis, Emiratis, or Saudis threaten to turn to other powers, Washington can afford to call their bluff.

As a general matter, U.S. foreign policy has become dangerously anachronistic, an instrument tuned to play a song that the orchestra no longer performs. But U.S. policy is, perhaps, most inconsonant in the Gulf, where the United States’ interests have changed but its policy has not. Biden has a chance to reset Washington’s partnerships with Gulf nations. It will be difficult, painful, and arouse loud protest. But the resulting order will be mutually beneficial, advancing U.S. interests while moving Gulf states closer to the future they claim to aspire to. As they say, the most worthwhile endeavors are never easy.

سياسة أميركا في الشرق الأوسط خطيرة وعفا عليها الزمن

الميادين نت

*ترجمة: ميساء شديد

طائرة أميركيّة في قاعدة العديد الجويّة في قطر - أبريل 2016 (رويترز)

كريس مورفي – “فورين أفيرز” 19 شباط 22:39

السيناتور الأميركي كريس مورفي، يشدد في مقال له في مجلة “فورين أفيرز“، على أنّه لدى الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن “فرصة لإعادة ضبط شراكات واشنطن مع دول الخليج”.

السيناتور الأميركي كريس مورفي يؤكد في مقال له في مجلة “فورين أفيرز“، أنّ السياسة الخارجيّة للولايات المتحدة “عفا الزمن عنها”، مبرزاً أنّ “السياسة الأميركيّة غير متسقة في الخليج، ولدى بايدن فرصة لإعادة ضبط شراكات واشنطن مع دول الخليج”. فيما يلي نص المقال: 

في خطاب حالة الاتحاد الذي ألقاه في أعقاب أزمتي النفط عامي 1973 و1979، وصف الرئيس الأميركي جيمي كارتر بعبارات خطيرة مخاطر فقدان الوصول إلى نفط الشرق الأوسط. وقال إن “أيّ محاولة من قبل أيّ قوّة خارجيّة للسيطرة على منطقة الخليج، ستعتبر اعتداء على المصالح الحيويّة للولايات المتحدة الأميركيّة.. وسيتمّ صدّ مثل هذا الهجوم بأيّ وسيلة ضروريّة بما في ذلك القوّة العسكريّة”. أصبح هذا التعهد معروفاً باسم “مبدأ كارتر” وظلّ سمة مميّزة لسياسة الولايات المتحدة في الشرق الأوسط منذ ذلك الحين.

حين أدلى كارتر بهذا التصريح كانت الولايات المتحدة تعتمد بشكل كبير على واردات النفط لتزويد اقتصادها بالطاقة وكان 29% من هذا النفط يأتي من الخليج. حتى بعد عقدين من الزمن لم يتغيّر شيء يذكر: في عام 2001، كانت الولايات المتحدة لا تزال تستورد 29% من نفطها من الخليج. لكننا لم نعد في عام 1980 أو 2001 بعد الآن. واليوم تنتج الولايات المتحدة نفس القدر من النفط الذي تحصل عليه من الخارج وتستورد 13% فقط من دول الخليج. تستورد الولايات المتحدة الآن نفطاً من المكسيك أكثر مما تستورده من السعوديّة.

ومع ذلك بالرغم من أن الأساس المنطقي لما يسمى عقيدة كارتر قد عفا عليه الزمن، إلا أنه يستمر في تشكيل نهج الولايات المتحدة تجاه الخليج – وهو رمز لفشل أوسع لسياسة الولايات المتحدة المتمثلة بتغييرات أوسع للمصالح الأميركيّة في المنطقة منذ الثمانينيات. يجب على الرئيس جو بايدن الاعتراف بالوقائع الجديدة وإعادة ضبط علاقات الولايات المتحدة في الخليج بطريقة تعزز القيم الأميركيّة وتبقي واشنطن بعيدة عن التشابكات الخارجيّة غير الضروريّة وتعطي الأولويّة للسلام والاستقرار الإقليميين.

هناك عدد لا يحصى من الأسباب لإقامة علاقات قويّة بين الولايات المتحدة ودول مجلس التعاون الخليجي – البحرين والكويت وعمان وقطر والسعودية والإمارات. إن قرارات البحرين والإمارات لإقامة علاقات رسميّة مع “إسرائيل” هي علامة واضحة على التأثير الإيجابي الذي يمكن أن تمارسه هذه الدول. تلعب الكويت وعمان أدواراً قويّة في التوسط في النزاعات الإقليميّة. إن شراكات الولايات المتحدة في مكافحة الإرهاب مع دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي بالرغم من كونها معيبة في كثير من الأحيان، لا تزال مهمة حيث تمتلك هذه الحكومات غالباً معلومات عن الشبكات المتطرفة التي لا تستطيع الاستخبارات الأميركيّة جمعها بمفردها.

وتقوم الولايات المتحدة بتوسيع علاقاتها الشعبيّة مع المنطقة: اليوم هناك عشرات الآلاف من الطلاب من الخليج يدرسون في الكليات والجامعات الأميركيّة. وبناءً على ذلك يجب على الولايات المتحدة أن توضح لحلفائها الخليجيين أن هدفها ليس الانسحاب من المنطقة، ولكن بدلاً من ذلك إنشاء رابط أكثر موضوعية واستقراراً بين الولايات المتحدة ودول مجلس التعاون الخليجي.

لكن حان الوقت للاعتراف بوجود خلل مركزي في نهج الولايات المتحدة الحالي تجاه الخليج: أهم أولويتين لمجلس التعاون الخليجي في العلاقة – الحفاظ على المساعدة العسكرية الأميركية لخوض حروب إقليمية بالوكالة والحفاظ على الصمت الأميركي تجاه السياسات الداخلية لدوله. القمع – سيدمر على المدى الطويل دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي نفسها. ويجب أن يكون هدف الولايات المتحدة هو استبدال هذا الأساس المكسور بنظام جديد يدعم خليجاً مسالماً مليئاً باقتصاديات وطنيّة مستقرة ومتنوعة وحكومات متجاوبة – مستقبل من النوع الذي يدعي قادة مثل ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان بقوّة أن منطقة الخليج تسعى إليه. إن علاقة بين الولايات المتحدة والخليج مبنية على العلاقات الاقتصاديّة والدبلوماسيّة والحوكمة بدلاً من مجرد شراكات أمنيّة وحشيّة سوف تعود بالفائدة على مصالح الولايات المتحدة والشرق الأوسط.

تجنب حروب الوكالة

الخطوة الأولى هي أن تنفصل الولايات المتحدة عن حروب دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي بالوكالة مع إيران. الحكومة الإيرانيّة هي خصم للولايات المتحدة لكن سلسلة الصراعات الساخنة والباردة في المنطقة – في العراق ولبنان وسوريا واليمن – عملت ببساطة على تعزيز نفوذ إيران وخلق مستويات كارثية من المعاناة الإنسانية. لا شك أن الانسحاب من التدخل الأميركي في أماكن مثل سوريا واليمن سيسبب ذعراً فورياً في الخليج. ومع ذلك  فإن التكاليف الهائلة للاعتقاد الخاطئ بأن الولايات المتحدة يمكنها توجيه النتائج بشكل غير مباشر في سوريا واليمن باتت واضحة تماماً.

في كلا المسرحين لم يكن التدخل العسكري الفاتر للولايات المتحدة جوهريّاً بما يكفي لقلب التوازن وخدم بدلاً من ذلك إطالة أمد النزاعات. تعاني واشنطن من ثقة متغطرسة في قدرتها على تحقيق أهداف سياسيّة من خلال التدخلات العسكريّة. بدلاً من ذلك كان التأثير الأكثر أهمية للمغامرات الأميركيّة الأخيرة في الشرق الأوسط هو تأجيج الحروب الدائمة التي تشجع الجماعات المتطرفة وتسمح للمشاعر المعادية لأميركا بالنمو.

على الرغم من أن الولايات المتحدة يجب أن تحتفظ بشراكاتها الأمنية مع دول الخليج إلا أن البصمة الأميركيّة يجب أن تكون أصغر. قبل حرب الخليج كانت الولايات المتحدة قادرة على حماية مصالحها في المنطقة من دون قواعد عسكريّة ضخمة في البحرين والكويت وقطر والسعودية ومن دون مليارات من مبيعات الأسلحة السنويّة للدول نفسها.

يتصرّف مجتمع السياسة الخارجيّة في واشنطن كما لو أن هذا الوجود العسكري الضخم أصبح الآن إلزامياً لحماية المصالح الأميركيّة، على الرغم من أنه لم يكن كذلك قبل إنشاء الدولة الأمنية بعد 11 سبتمبر. القواعد الأميركيّة مكلفة ما يجعل التركيز بعيداً عن المسارح ذات الأهمية المتزايدة مثل أفريقيا وآسيا؛ إنهم يمارسون الضغط على الولايات المتحدة لتجاهل الانتهاكات الجسيمة لحقوق الإنسان خشية أن تعرض هذه الانتقادات وجود القوات الأميركية للخطر؛ وهي تبرز كأهداف عسكريّة ومادة دعاية لإيران والقاعدة وداعش.

بينما يجري وزير الدفاع الأميركي لويد أوستن مراجعة عالميّة للوضع العسكري للولايات المتحدة يجب على إدارة بايدن التفكير بجديّة في تقليص قواعدها العسكريّة في المنطقة. إن إعادة النظر في تكاليف وفوائد تأسيس الأسطول الخامس في البحرين ستكون بداية جيدة حيث أصبح الدور الهائل للولايات المتحدة مقلقاً بالرغم من أن الأمر لا يستحق.

أخيرًا على الرغم من أن الولايات المتحدة يجب أن تستمر في بيع المعدات العسكريّة لشركائها، يجب على واشنطن التأكد من أنها تبيع أسلحة دفاعيّة حقيقيّة. اليوم يتمّ استخدام الكثير من الأسلحة الأميركيّة بشكل غير مسؤول وفي انتهاك للقانون الدولي. البعض الآخر مثل بيع طائرات “ريبر” بدون طيار التي تمّ الإعلان عنها مؤخراً للإمارات، يُغذي سباق تسلح إقليمياً يتعارض مع المصالح الأمنيّة الأميركية. مع تراجعها عن أنظمة ذات قدرات هجوميّة أكثر يجب أن تظل الولايات المتحدة على استعداد لتقديم أسلحة دفاعية أكثر تقدمًا مثل تكنولوجيا الصواريخ الدفاعية الطرفية عالية الارتفاع (ثاد) التي تناسب التهديدات الأمنيّة الحقيقيّة في الخليج.

إذا فعلت واشنطن هذه الامور فستشتكي السعودية والإمارات لا محالة من أن الولايات المتحدة تتخلى عنهما وتمكنان إيران. تتمثل مهمة إدارة بايدن في إقناعهما بوجود بديل للمنافسة العسكريّة التي لا تنتهي مع طهران. يمكن لحوار أمنيّ إقليميّ يشمل جميع الأطراف أن يحلّ محل سباق التسلح والحروب بالوكالة. قد يبدو هذا وكأنه محض خيال لكنه بعيد كل البعد عن ذلك.

كانت البراعم الخضراء لهذا الحوار تظهر منذ سنوات ويمكن للقيادة الأميركيّة أن تبدأ في إنشاء هيكل للانفراج. وعلى الرغم من أن الولايات المتحدة لا ينبغي أن تمنح الإماراتيين أو السعوديين حق النقض (الفيتو) على اتفاقية نوويّة ثنائيّة مع إيران، فإن الحوار الإقليمي من شأنه أن يربط دول الخليج بشكل أقرب إلى الولايات المتحدة بشأن السياسة الإيرانيّة ومن المرجح أن يعطي مجلس التعاون الخليجي مساهمة أكبر في أيّ اتفاق مستقبلي.

اختبار خفض التصعيد

إن إدارة بايدن في وضع أفضل لاختبار استعداد المنطقة لهذا النوع من التهدئة في اليمن. القطع المفقودة من ضغوط ذات مغزى ومحاور موثوق به تتحرك الآن إلى موقعها مع إنهاء إدارة بايدن دعم الولايات المتحدة للعمليّات الهجوميّة وتعيين مبعوث خاص جديد لدعم عملية السلام التابعة للأمم المتحدة. الولايات المتحدة هي الدولة الوحيدة التي يمكنها تحريك الكرة إلى الأمام. إذا تمكنت واشنطن من إيجاد طريق نحو السلام في اليمن حيث تتعايش حكومة يمنيّة شاملة مع قادة الحوثيين وتعيد البلاد بناءها بمساعدة دولية فإن ذلك سيكون على مفهوم حوار أوسع.

يجب أن يكون وقف التصعيد جذاباً بشدة لشركاء الولايات المتحدة في الخليج. انخفاض عائدات النفط يعني أن هذه الدول ستحتاج قريباً إلى اتخاذ خيارات صعبة بين الاستثمار في الإصلاحات الاقتصاديّة وخوض الحروب في البلدان الأجنبيّة. بالنظر إلى هذه الصراعات المستمرة وسيطرة الدولة على الاقتصادات المحليّة فإن جذب الاستثمار الأجنبي الهادف إلى المنطقة هو إلى حد كبير أمر خيالي.

بالنسبة للولايات المتحدة هناك فائدة أخرى لتقليل التوترات بين الخليج وإيران تتمثل في حوافز أقلّ للمصالح الخليجيّة لنشر الإسلام الوهابي في جميع أنحاء العالم الإسلامي. غالباً ما تشكل هذه العلامة التجاريّة المتشددة وغير المتسامحة للإسلام اللبنات الأساسيّة للإيديولوجيا المتطرفة، ويُغذي الخلاف الخليجي الإيراني تصديرها (إلى جانب نظيرتها الشيعية الثوريّة).

يجب على الولايات المتحدة أيضاً أن تقود صفقة أكثر صعوبة مع دول الخليج بشأن قضايا حقوق الإنسان. في أعقاب هجمات دونالد ترامب على الديمقراطيّة الأميركيّة سيكون من الأهم بالنسبة لبايدن أن يطابق حديثه عن سيادة القانون والحقوق المدنيّة بأفعال في الداخل والخارج. أمام الولايات المتحدة عمل صعب لإعادة بناء دورها العالمي لكن إنهاء نهج واشنطن الذي لا يسمع ولا يرى الشر في الخليج من شأنه أن يساعد.  

ومع ذلك يجب أن تكون محادثة الولايات المتحدة مع دول الخليج حول حقوق الإنسان واقعيّة. لن تصبح هذه البلدان ديمقراطيات حديثة بين عشية وضحاها. ومع ذلك إذا كانت دول الخليج تريد حقاً جذب الاستثمار الدولي فعليها أن تتصدى للحملات القمعيّة الوحشيّة المستمرة ضد المعارضة السياسيّة وغياب سيادة القانون.

الاستثمار الخاص الخارجي الجاد غير محتمل طالما أن هذه الدول تعذب السجناء السياسيين وتحافظ على “نظام وصيّ” صارم يحد من قدرة المرأة على السفر ويضايق المعارضين في الخارج باستمرار. بصراحة يجب على قادة الخليج أن ينظروا إلى توسيع الحقوق السياسيّة على أنها قضيّة وجوديّة. يجب على الولايات المتحدة أن تساعد هذه الأنظمة على فهم أن الصفقة الاجتماعيّة القائمة منذ فترة طويلة المتمثلة في “غياب الضرائب والتمثيل السياسي” لا يمكن أن تستمر.

نظراً لأن النمو السكاني يفوق عائدات النفط فلن تتمكن العائلات المالكة قريباً من تحمّل هذا المردود. بمجرد ضمور الإعانات واستمرار القمع ستندلع عاصفة من الاضطرابات الكارثية. لحسن الحظ هناك نماذج للإصلاح المحدود في الخليج يمكن أن تساعد المتقاعسين في التقدم. ينتخب الكويتيون على سبيل المثال برلماناً يحافظ على بعض الاستقلالية عن العرش. على الرغم من أن هذا بعيد كل البعد عن الديمقراطيّة التشاركيّة الحديثة إلا أنه يقدم بعض النقاط الإرشاديّة التي يمكن أن تنظر إليها الأنظمة القمعيّة.

لا داعي للحرب الباردة

في متابعة هذا المسار الجديد سوف يجادل بعض أتباع الوضع الراهن بأنه إذا دفعت إدارة بايدن عن صفقة صعبة للغاية فسوف يبتعد قادة الخليج عن الولايات المتحدة ويذهبون أكثر باتجاه الصين أو روسيا. هذه الحجة مضللة وهي حجة تلعب على سوء فهم كل من عدم إمكانية الاستغناء عن الاصطفاف العسكري مع الولايات المتحدة واستعداد الصين وروسيا لتسخير أيديهما في سياسات الشرق الأوسط.

هذه ليست الحرب الباردة: ليس لدى روسيا الكثير لتقدمه في المنطقة ومع استمرار انخفاض استخدام النفط العالمي ستتنافس موسكو حتماً مع دول الخليج على المشترين. على الرغم من أن الصين ستواصل البحث عن فرص اقتصاديّة في المنطقة إلا أنها لن تكون راغبة في لعب دور أمني حقيقي في أي وقت في المستقبل القريب. البحريّة الصينيّة لن تقدم المساعدة لدولة خليجيّة تتعرض للهجوم. إذا هدد البحرينيون أو الإماراتيون أو السعوديون بالتحوّل إلى قوى أخرى، يمكن لواشنطن ألا تنطلي عليها خدعهم.

بشكل عام عفا الزمن عن السياسة الخارجيّة للولايات المتحدة بشكل خطير وهي أداة تمّ ضبطها لعزف أغنيّة لم تعد الأوركسترا تؤديها. لكن ربما تكون السياسة الأميركيّة غير متسقة في الخليج، حيث تغيّرت مصالح الولايات المتحدة ولكن سياستها لم تتغير. لدى بايدن فرصة لإعادة ضبط شراكات واشنطن مع دول الخليج. سيكون الأمر صعباً ومؤلماً ويثير احتجاجاً شديداً. لكن النظام الناتج سيكون مفيداً للطرفين حيث سيعزز المصالح الأميركيّة بينما يقرب دول الخليج من المستقبل التي تزعم أنها تطمح إليه. كما يقولون فإن أكثر المساعي الجديرة بالاهتمام ليست سهلة أبداً.

*ترجمة: ميساء شديد

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي الصحيفة حصراً

FM Sergey Lavrov gave an extensive interview to the RBK Media Holding – Communication between Brussels and Moscow has completely fallen apart

Source

FM Sergey Lavrov gave an extensive interview to the RBK Media Holding – Communication between Brussels and Moscow has completely fallen apart

February 20, 2021

A good sub-title for this interview could be “Lavrov Unplugged”.

A quote from the transcript (which incidentally was available faster than any other transcript from the The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation ):

“… when it became clear that Russia did not want to live in the house of “a self-appointed boss,” all these complications began to emerge.

….

All this started when this signal was not perceived (to be more precise, Russia was seen again as a “hoodlum” in the world arena and they were again going to teach it “good manners”). In any event, the West began its ideological preparations, for its current actions, at that time.”

Video in Russian without subtitles or English voiceover as yet.

Question: There is a feeling that the West is very annoyed by the appearance of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. At first, they were very aggressive and wouldn’t let it go. When I talked with Minister of Trade and Industry Dmitry Manturov, he called it “the vaccine war.” Now the opinion has changed. Is this about the quality of the vaccine or is politics involved in this?

Sergey Lavrov: I think it is possible to use the logic of the Russian proverb that can be translated into English as “love it so but mother says no.” Western experts know that the Sputnik V vaccine is definitely one of the best, if not the very best. Otherwise, there would not be such a stream of requests for it, which is growing geometrically.

On the other hand, they realise that the spread of Sputnik V and other Russian vaccines that will soon enter the international market, will enhance our authority and status in the world. They do not want this to happen. But they have come to realise that their first response was simply outrageous in the context of the facts and medical science. When President Vladimir Putin announced the development of the vaccine in August 2020, the offensive was completely undiplomatic. Their response just betrayed their irritation, you are perfectly right.

And now many countries (the Czech Republic and others) are saying they can’t wait for the certification of the vaccine by the European Medicines Agency. In Hungary, they believe they are ready to start vaccination and supplies are now underway. The number of requests from Europe is steadily on the rise. Just the other day, Prince Albert II of Monaco sent a request for the vaccine for the entire population of his principality.

After independent agencies published their scientific evaluations, the West had to admit that the vaccine was good. Yet, attempts to discredit it continue.

Just yesterday I read a somewhat ambiguous statement by President of France Emmanuel Macron. He put us and the Chinese into the category of those who are trying to gain advantages in the world arena at the expense of their medical achievements. The day before yesterday, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen spoke with an emphatically negative connotation about the supplies of the Russian vaccines to foreign countries.

We must follow the correct position of principle, first voiced by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, notably, that we were the first to develop the vaccine, and we will continue to increase its production. This is not easy, we do not have enough capacities, and this is why we are negotiating with India, South Korea and other countries. At the same time, he said we are open to the broadest possible cooperation.

There is one more important point. When this issue was discussed at the UN the other day, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the countries that have this vaccine or have the money to buy it, not to forget about the poor. In the meantime, attempts are being made to accuse us of trying to gain geopolitical favour by supplying it abroad. This is an obvious discrepancy. It is clear that the West is poorly prepared for this discussion.

Question: So, it’s about the same as when President Putin said at the Davos Forum that the world cannot continue creating an economy that will only benefit the “golden billion,” and we are actually accused of supplying the vaccine for the benefit of the “golden billion.” Still, are they talking about the vaccine like this just because it was made in Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t see any other reason, because no one even tried to conduct a medical or a scientific test. They just said right away that it was impossible just because it’s impossible, meaning that “no one can do this that quickly.” It was only in October 2020, when the West said they would be able to report on their achievements. President Putin announced in August that the Russian-made vaccine was ready for rollout.

Unfortunately, I often see that the response to everything we do, say or offer is, at best, questioned right off the bat. Usually, they say that “the Russians are playing their geopolitical games again.”

Question: EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, who was here recently and met with you, said that Russia is distancing itself from the West. At the same time, Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said we are open to cooperation with Europe. You said we are ready to break up, but we are not breaking off our relations. What really stands in the way of normal relations between the EU and Russia?

Sergey Lavrov: A biased attitude, by and large. I worked with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, a good colleague of mine, when he was Spanish Foreign Minister. Now many, in an attempt to give a controversial dimension to the High Representative’s visit to Russia, forget how it all began. In May 2019, Mr Borrell said: “Our old enemy, Russia, says again ‘here I am,’ and it is again a threat.” We then asked his protocol service to confirm what he said. We were told that it was a figure of speech and that he was misunderstood. However, this attitude shows.

We are seen as a stranger. In my interview with Vladimir Solovyov, replying to his question as to whether we are ready to break off with the EU, I gave an affirmative answer because there are no relations to talk about. As former US President Barack Obama once said (although he said it about the Russian economy), relations have been “torn to shreds.”

Indeed, the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement [between the EU and Russia] entered into force in 1997. It contained a number of declarative goals for moving towards common economic, humanitarian and cultural spaces. For many years, we used a mechanism of summits, which were held every six months in Russia and in the EU alternately. In fact, our entire Government held annual meetings with the European Commission to discuss the participants’ responsibilities in the context of over 20 sector-specific dialogues. We were building four common spaces and roadmaps for each of them. These were 100 percent substantive and specific projects. It was all destroyed, just like the Partnership and Cooperation Council, within which the Russian Foreign Minister and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy reviewed the entire range of relations. This disappeared long before the Ukraine crisis.

Many in our country are just waiting for a chance to pounce on the Russian Government’s foreign policy. We are being asked how we can say that we are ready to break off with the EU when it is our largest trade and economic partner. If we take the EU as a collective partner, it is our largest partner in terms of gross trade. For example, in 2013 (before the Ukraine events) Russia became a WTO member. From that moment, our trade relations were built on the principles advocated by that organisation rather than the EU’s principles. As a single trade bloc, the EU also participated in the WTO. We traded with member countries based on WTO guidelines. If you think the EU is a valuable trade and economic partner, here are some statistics for you: in 2013, the United States was the EU’s biggest trading partner with about $480 billion, followed by China with $428 billion and Russia with $417 billion. That is, these numbers are of the same order of magnitude. Where do we stand now? In 2019, EU’s trade with the United States stood at $750 billion, with China $650 billion, and with Russia at about $280 billion. In 2020, it was $218 billion, if counting with Great Britain, and $191 billion without it.

The reason? It’s the sanctions imposed by our “valued” and largest economic partner for reasons that have never relied on any facts whatsoever. At least, no facts have ever been presented to us. We understand Crimea. We understand Donbass as well. It’s just that the EU admitted its inability, or perhaps, unwillingness, to prevent the anti-constitutional coup with an open Russophobic slant and chose to turn things upside down. Brussels shifted the blame to us and imposed sanctions on Russia rather than the putschists, who, by and large, spat on the guarantees of the European Union, which signed the corresponding agreements, totally ignoring, as I said, the fact that the actions of the government, which they supported, were openly and violently anti-Russian.

Question: Without the events in Ukraine, would our relations with the West have sunk to where they are now?

Sergey Lavrov: It is difficult for me to talk about this. After all, later there were other events linked with the accusations of “the poisoning in Salisbury.” No facts were presented. We were not allowed to meet with our citizens. No evidence was offered. Everything was similar to what is happening now with the alleged poisoning of Alexey Navalny.

Question: It seems the West is looking for a pretext to spoil our relations.

Sergey Lavrov: They are looking but there are many pretexts: it’s always possible to use something as an excuse to put the relationship on the required track. But it’s not that they want to spoil relations. I don’t think this is their main goal. They want to bolster their self-esteem. Now they are starting to act like the US, revealing the mentality of an exclusive group of states. I quoted German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. When asked why they continue discussing sanctions against Russia and what goals they had achieved by imposing sanctions, he replied that he didn’t believe sanctions should be used for any purpose. What matters is that they don’t leave any action by the Russian Federation unpunished.

The concealment of facts that could somehow confirm accusations against us started long before the crisis in Ukraine. We can recall 2007 – the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in the hospital. There was a coroner’s inquest. Later this trial was declared “public.” In George Orwell’s logic, in Britain this means a “secret trial” during which no inquisitorial procedures of the secret services may be presented. You know, these are system-wide problems.

I listed what we used to have in our relations with the European Union. Nothing is left now, not even sporadic contacts on some international issues. As regards the Iran nuclear programme, we are taking part in the work of the collective group of countries, which are trying to somehow put this programme back on track. This is not part of our relations with the EU proper. In the Middle East, we have a Quartet of mediators consisting of Russia, the US, the EU and the UN. In other words, this is multilateral cooperation rather than our relations with just the EU.

With regard to who is taking steps to prevent our relations from further decline, at least a little, we were thinking about that when Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, was getting ready to visit Moscow. He suggested cooperating in healthcare and vaccines. We have already discussed this here. As a Brussels institution, the EU will hardly be allowed to contact Russian agencies or companies independently regarding the vaccines. We would sooner cooperate directly with the producers of AstraZeneca, as this is already taking place.

On the eve of Mr Borrell’s visit, we invited his experts to make a joint statement on the Middle East by the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Our positions are nearly identical on the matter and we thought it would be appropriate to urge the Quartet to resume its activities and call for direct Palestinian-Israeli talks, respect for the relevant UN resolutions, and so on.

We gave them a page and a half text that was easy to approve after the first reading. Several days prior to his arrival, we were told that “it did not work out.” I will reveal a secret because this is a blatant example. I asked Mr Borrell at the negotiating table: “What about this statement? Why didn’t it work out?” He started turning his head all around. It was clear from his reaction, and he confirmed this later, that nobody had even told him about it. These are the people that deal with what some of our liberals call “relations with the EU.”

Question: Concluding this theme, I’d like to say that as a man born in the USSR, I understand that during the Soviet-Western confrontation we had different ideologies, economies and so on. Later, I thought that everything was the same on both sides. They were for democracy and we were for democracy; they had a market economy and we had a market economy. So what are the differences? Why do we fail to find a common language to this day? I thought we found it in the 1990s? Why did we find it then?

Sergey Lavrov: We found it at that time because nobody in the Russian Federation disputed the answer to the question of who was ruling the show. President of Russia Vladimir Putin has talked about this many times. We decided that was it – the end of history. Francis Fukuyama announced that from now on liberal thought would rule the world. Now there are attempts to push this liberal thought to the fore again in a bid to gain international influence. But when it became clear that Russia did not want to live in the house of “a self-appointed boss,” all these complications began to emerge.

Initially, having become President, Vladimir Putin and his team tried to convey this message through diplomatic signals that educated and smart people would be bound to understand. But nobody listened. Then the explanations had to be made politely but openly in the Munich speech. All this started when this signal was not perceived (to be more precise, Russia was seen again as a “hoodlum” in the world arena and they were again going to teach it “good manners”). In any event, the West began its ideological preparations, for its current actions, at that time.

Question: Regarding the sanctions. Bloomberg posted a news item today that new sanctions against Russia are planned concerning the Nord Stream 2, however, they are not going to be tough but rather “soft.” On the other hand, they report that the Americans want to thwart the Nord Stream project but without irritating Germany. Where are we in this situation?

Sergey Lavrov: We are a country that completely complies with the contractual obligations undertaken by our companies that are part of the project, along with the EU companies that joined it. The current situation is largely due to a decision taken by what we call the European Union, a decision that proves beyond doubt what sort of alliance it is. A few years ago, when the Poles, and others sharing their attitude, attempted to impede the Nord Stream project, the Legal Service of the European Commission was asked for legal advice, official opinion. The service presented a document which stated in no uncertain terms that the investment project had been launched long before amendments were made to the EU’s gas directive, the Third Energy Package. That’s it. Period. This issue should be closed for any person who has respect for the law. But no, the European Commission took this opinion and launched its own quasi-legal procedure which resulted in the conclusion that the project had indeed been launched much earlier, yet it fell under this third energy package and the gas directive. That’s what kind of a partner we have in this “relationship.”

This is about how we can “pounce” on them and express readiness to break relations with them when they are our main economic partner – that’s what kind of a partner they are. Meanwhile, now Germany alone is fighting for the project.

And in fact, Joe Biden’s administration will not cancel anything which was done by Donald Trump except for leaving the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Democrats are returning there now.

The NATO defence ministers meeting has just ended. But there was no let-up in US demands to pay 2 percent of a country’s GDP for defence needs, i.e. for purchasing US weaponry. There was no backing off the demands on Europe regarding Nord Stream 2 – to stop participating in some matters that undermine European security. They see it better from across the ocean, right? This is about who is the boss. Europe also wants to run the house but it was taken down a peg. The situation around Nord Stream 2 is straightforward.

For now they are saying publicly that bargaining is underway and possible agreements between Washington and Berlin are being discussed, including that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline may be allowed to be completed and even start operating. However, if at the same time gas transiting via Ukraine is going to be falling, then Nord Stream 2 must be shut off. I cannot decide for Germany, however, it is obvious to me that this proposal is humiliating. As Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his meeting with parliamentary party leaders, this is yet further evidence that they want Russia to pay for their Ukraine geopolitical venture.

Question: Do we have to pay for this geopolitical project?  Why do they think we have to pay for it?

Sergey Lavrov: Because they don’t feel like lashing out on it. They need the Ukrainian regime for the sole purpose of constantly irritating Russia and finding new reasons to support their Russophobic policy. They want to weaken anything around us – Belarus, Central Asia, and now also the South Caucasus, as they got nervous after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s successful mediation mission between Armenia and Azerbaijan: why was this done without them? They are now trying to infiltrate this region and step up their activities there. All of that has nothing to do with the Cold War-era ideology of a showdown between the two systems you talked about a few minutes ago. It has to do with the fact that our Western partners are unwilling, unprepared and unable to speak on an equal footing, whether with Russia, China, or whoever. They need to create a system where they will be the boss regardless. This is why they are taking an increasing dislike to the United Nations since they cannot have total control of it.

Question: Do you see the EU as a monolith, or as something more loose, with certain processes unfolding inside and some countries, no matter what, starting to talk about their willingness to be friends with Russia? In the case of the sanctions, the key figures behind them are, strange as it may seem, the Baltic States, which do not play a prominent role in the EU but, for some reason, everyone is listening to them.

Sergy Lavrov: It sounds inappropriate to refer to the EU as a monolith a mere couple of months after Brexit. This “monolith” is not the same as before. If you mean a monolith in a figurative sense, my answer is no. Quite a few countries are maintaining relations with Russia. The visit of Josep Borrell was the first trip by an EU official of this level to Russia in three years. In the same three years, about two dozen ministers from European Union member countries have visited Russia. We are having a great dialogue, without wasting too much time on confrontation and moralising. Indeed, all of them do have their assignments – a couple of sheets of paper from which they read a script approved by the “party committee” in Brussels.

Question: Do you mean they bring a notebook with instructions with them?

Sergey Lavrov: Certainly. They do not dare to veer off course. This, for example, goes for Alexey Navalny, or the Skripals as in the previous case, or human rights. Now scientist Yury Dmitriyev from Karelia is in the spotlight. They flatly refuse to accept evidence of his involvement in crimes, like pedophilia. They read from their notebook and I would adduce my arguments to the contrary and describe our vision of this or that situation and wonder why we cannot obtain evidence on the Navalny case or the Skripal case. In response they simply read again from their notebook. Apart from this discipline induced by the bloc member states’ solidarity, we discuss things normally. Yes, the EU sets the terms on which [its member countries] participate in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), while we are trading with these countries in the WTO on the terms that were agreed on for Russia to join this organisation. But the EU has nothing to do with this cooperation in trade and investment activity, except for its attempts to restrict trade and economic ties with the sanctions.

You mentioned the Baltic States. Indeed, they run the show in this respect to a great extent. I have talked to your colleagues about this on more than one occasion. When in 2004 there were hectic activities to drag them into the EU, Russia and Brussels maintained a very frank dialogue. The President of the European Commission at the time was Romano Prodi. In 2005, the objective was set to move to visa-free travel.

Question: Nobody has any memories of this today.

Sergey Lavrov: We remember this when we reply to those who ask how we dare say that we are ready to break relations with the EU. You mentioned the Baltic States. We had long been negotiating an updated version of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Russia and the EU, which the EU terminated in 2014. It was expected to go a bit beyond the boundaries of the WTO rules and allow us to negotiate additional trade preferences. At one time there was an objective to establish a free trade zone, but this has long since fallen into oblivion. However, there were plans to update the agreement in order to liberalise trade even more, in addition to the WTO rules. In 2014, they ceased to exist – another example of breaking down our relations.

A visa-free travel agreement was also finalised back in 2013. We had met all of the EU requirements: we agreed that only people with biometric passports would be eligible for visa-free travel and that those who violated EU entry rules or any other EU rules while in an EU country during a visa-free period would be subject to readmission. We signed the relevant agreement. Everything they asked for, and that suited us, was done. Later, when it was time to sign the agreement and then ratify it, the EU said: “Let’s wait.” It did not take us long to learn why they had said this, all the more so as they did not try to conceal their motives. This Brussels team decided that it was politically incorrect to approve a visa-free travel agreement with Russia prior to offering it to Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.

Question: In other words, Russia was made dependent on other countries?

Sergey Lavrov: It sure was, at the Baltic States’ initiative. This is also important for understanding the nature of our relations. This is an attitude from people who decided that they were European, which is not at all the case. Russia sees Europe in all its diversity. If the “party committee” in Brussels does not like it, we cannot force them to.

Question: Europe stretches at least to the Urals.

Sergey Lavrov: Correct. In 2009, when Jose Manuel Barroso was President of the European Commission, we held a Russia-EU summit in Khabarovsk. Our European colleagues arrived later in the day. We went out for a walk along the embankment. We were showing them around the city and Mr Barroso said: “It’s amazing. It took us 13 hours to get here from Brussels, and it’s still Europe.” This is the key message behind the slogan “Europe from the Atlantic to the Pacific.”

Question: I’m going to ask you about one other country, Belarus. There will be a presidential summit on February 22. President Lukashenko will come to Russia. Recently, Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makei gave an interview to the RBC media holding and mentioned Belarus’ multi-directional foreign policy. Do you think we have managed to work well with Minsk on integration? What should we expect from these talks?

Sergey Lavrov: The term “multi-directional” should not be used as a profanity. Most normal states want it. Russia, too, has used a multi-directional approach as the basis of its foreign policy since 2002. In our understanding, a multi-directional approach is possible only if based of equality, respect and a balance of interests, as well as mutual benefit. This is the only way it can work.

First, they threaten us with sanctions, and then the same people are saying that we “had it coming” and impose unilateral restrictions on us, and then say that we are “bad” because “we are looking to the East.” Everything has been turned upside down.

Russia is a Eurasian country. We have close contacts with Europe, which have been cultivated for centuries, before anyone even thought of a European Union, and the Europeans fought and competed against each other. By the way, we often helped them achieve peace and fair outcomes in wars.

Question: We even saved the monarchies?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, and they are aware of it. The republic in the United States, too, to a certain extent.

However, our European neighbours have severed almost all of our ties and left only sporadic contacts on international crises that are of interest to the EU in order to keep a profile on the international arena. In many ways, the EU is driven by a desire to be seen as an important operator in Syrian and other matters. If we are not welcome here, we will simply continue to work with our other neighbours who are not prone to whims like that.

Objectively, our trade with the EU is almost half of what it was in 2013. Our trade with China has doubled over the same period.

Question: Back to Minsk. What can we expect from talks between President Putin and President Lukashenko on February 22?

Sergey Lavrov: There are some who want to interpret Minsk’s words about the multi-directional nature of its foreign policy as proof of its “unreliability” as a partner and ally. I do not think so.

In the Council of Europe, of which Belarus is not a member yet, we advocate the CoE establishing relations with Minsk. We supported the accession of Minsk to a number of Council of Europe conventions. We have always been in favour of Belarus enjoying normal relations with its western neighbours. I’m not sure what the CoE will do next. Russophobia has swept over most of the EU countries, and the most “violent” ones are in charge of the agenda.

I read the remarks by President Lukashenko (not all his interviews, but they were cited) to the effect that he sees no obstacles to deepening integration. Progress will depend on how President Vladimir Putin and President Lukashenko agree on things.

There are two more days to go before the talks. I don’t think we should be speculating on the outcome of the summit. We will know everything soon.

Question: Recently, US President Joseph Biden said the United States will no longer be “rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions” (ostensibly, Donald Trump did this). How can we build our relations now? Are there subjects we can discuss with Washington? Are they ready to talk with us?

Sergey Lavrov: These comments on who is rolling over or will be rolling over in the face of someone’s actions illustrate a very deep split in US society. It reached a level of personal enmity that is aggressive and contrary to American political culture. The politicians did not particularly mince their words during previous presidential campaigns or prior to elections to Congress, but I don’t remember anything comparable to what is being said now.

Our liberal media promote a tough pro-Western line. In looking for objects of criticism in Russia, they are infringing on the threshold of decency and getting personal. They are very crude, and behave not like journalists but like inveterate propagandists, accusing others of propaganda.

The fact that the New Start Treaty was extended in time is a very positive step. This shouldn’t be overrated, but it shouldn’t be underrated, either. In his election speeches Joseph Biden mentioned his willingness to extend it, but these were election speeches after all. His promise could be interpreted differently later, but he extended this important document for five years without any conditions, like we suggested. If this had not happened, there would not have been a single instrument of international law, not only in Russian-US relations but in the entire range of multilateral ties, that contained any restrictions in the sphere of disarmament, arms control and nuclear weapons non-proliferation.

It is very important that just a few days prior to February 5, 2021, the date the treaty was extended for five years, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and US President Joseph Biden reaffirmed their intention to promote talks on strategic stability in these new conditions, in their first telephone conversation after the US presidential election. The situation has changed substantially since 2010: We and the Americans have acquired new weapons some of which are covered by the treaty. We announced this last year. We said that they must be taken into account. Some other weapons are not covered by the treaty – they are basically very different because of their physical characteristics.

Question: Are you talking about hypersonic weapons?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, the United States also has such weapons. Hypersonic weapons are partly covered by the New START Treaty, if these are ballistic missiles.

The New START Treaty already covers some weapons systems, so we now have to include these weapons systems in the Treaty for the next five years and see how all this will be verified. But it does not cover some weapons.

The United States has developed a new system called the Prompt Global Strike (PGS). By the way, this system implies a non-nuclear strike. We have suggested negotiating all issues without exception that have an impact on strategic stability and the legitimate interests of the contracting parties.

Question: Did they agree to this? Are they ready?

Sergey Lavrov: In October 2020, we submitted draft joint understandings to the Trump administration. This rough outline shows how we can sit down and start negotiating the agenda. We have received no reply from them. Instead of addressing this matter, Marshall Billingslea, the Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control, mostly made vocal statements that the United States was all for it but that the Russians did not want to do this.

When I spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, I reminded him that Russia had submitted its proposals to the Trump administration, which dealt with this matter and many other issues, including cybersecurity and concerns over interference in each other’s domestic affairs. We would like to get back to them, and to hear the Biden administration’s opinions in this regard. We realise that they now need some time to settle down in the White House and the Department of State. I hope that this will not take too long.

There are still some questions on disarmament, for example, the lineup of participants in the disarmament process. The US position on China, approved by Donald Trump, remains unchanged; the same concerns a number of other matters.

Regarding multilateral talks, first of all, this should not annul Russian-US agreements because we have several times more nuclear weapons than other nuclear countries. Second, if we make this a multilateral process, then all prospective participants, primarily the five nuclear powers, should reach a voluntary agreement. We will never try to persuade China. We respect the position of Beijing, which either wants to catch up with us or proposes that we first reduce our arsenals to China’s levels and then start on the talks. All circumstances considered, if this is a multilateral process, then we will get nowhere without the United Kingdom and France. The Trump administration insisted that China should take part and at the same time said about its allies that they were the good guys, literally. This sounds funny. Apart from the complicated and lengthy disarmament process, we do not have so many promising spheres where we can cooperate constructively.

Question: Does this mean that their vision of the issue is entirely different or that they are reluctant to negotiate?

Sergey Lavrov: They think that they are the boss, and this mentality is still here and it determines the perception of their enemies. So far, they have not designated China as an enemy, but they have called us an enemy a couple of times. Democrats have an additional motivation for expanding this policy. Their position is that, supposedly unlike with Donald Trump, they will be “no Russian tail wagging the dog.”

Question: Don’t you think that Democrats have come to power with the intention of taking revenge against Russia, and that they will implement Donald Trump’s anti-Russia plans that he failed to accomplish in four years.

Sergey Lavrov: They made such statements during the election campaign. Joe Biden and his supporters said openly that the Trump administration had gone soft, that it was constantly making advances and working for the Russian intelligence. Donald Trump said that he was conducting the toughest policy with regard to Russia. He said that he liked Vladimir Putin, but he introduced more sanctions than all of his predecessors taken together.

We are also witnessing a cowboy-style showdown there. But this is normal for US politics, especially today. Disagreements between liberals who considered liberalism an irreversible trend have become aggravated to the greatest possible extent. Donald Trump, who did not like liberal principles and approaches, suddenly took over. He tried to think more about the basic interests of the American founders, the people who moved there (and it has always been a nation of immigrants), and who accepted its laws. So, the big question is whether people should remain loyal to the country that has accepted them, or do they want to erode its principles?

Question: Should they try to fit in?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, and they want to be the boss. Everything boils down to this once again.

Question: Karabakh, the subject of that. Fortunately, the war is over and a peace agreement has been inked. We covered extensively the role Russia and Azerbaijan played. I have a question to do with Turkey. I was in Azerbaijan during the war and heard many people say that the Azerbaijanis are supportive of the Great Turan idea (a state that covered the territory from Turkey to Central Asia). Is Moscow concerned by Turkey becoming a stronger state?

Sergey Lavrov: This opinion is entertained by a portion of the society. I’m not going to give a percentage of how many people support this idea. I’m not sure many of those who informed you about this really know what “Great Turan” is all about.

The relations between Turkic-speaking peoples have become an integral part of cooperation between Turkey and the corresponding countries, including Azerbaijan and a number of Central Asian states.

There is the Cooperation Council of the Turkic-Speaking States, in which we participate as observers. A number of our republics are interested in contacts with it and are promoting their specific projects.

There is TURKSOY  ̵  the International Organisation of Turkic Culture. There’s also the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-Speaking Countries. All of them have been functioning for a long time now. They draft their own plans and hold functions. Their cooperation is mainly based on cultural, linguistic and educational traditions.

Speaking about the Great Turan as a supranational entity in a historical sense, I don’t think that this is what Turkey is after. I don’t see how former Soviet and now independent countries can be supportive of this idea in any form. On the contrary, their foreign policies and practices focus on strengthening their national states.

Turkey has its interests which include its fellow tribesmen who speak the same language. We also want the Russian World to communicate. We have created an extensive network of organisations of our compatriots living abroad; we are opening Russian World centres at universities in different countries with purely linguistic, educational and scientific goals.

The Centre for the Russian Language and Culture created by the Russkiy Mir Foundation was recently closed in Krakow. This is an obvious step for Poland, as well as for the Baltic States, which are fighting everything that is Russian. Ukraine followed in their footsteps and shut down several media outlets and imposed a language ban. We are well aware of all this. We will keep raising this matter at the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the corresponding UN agencies. One cannot pretend that this comes with the “growth” and the “coming of age” of the Ukrainian nation, which, as they say, is an “ill-fated” one. The Ukrainians claim that they are the descendants of Alexander the Great. In that case, they should be responsible for the orders they introduce. The EU, and Germany and France as the Normandy format participants, avoid performing their duties when it comes to “educating” Ukraine in terms of making it comply with the Minsk agreements, and this has become a chronic behaviour pattern which does not reflect well on Germany or France.

Question: It was announced that Ukraine was recognised an unfriendly state. How will this affect relations between us?

Sergey Lavrov: This is just a descriptive attribute. What’s friendly about it? Russian schools are being closed, customers and shop assistants are not allowed to speak their native language, and the Nazis are burning Russian flags.

Question: This is reminiscent of the Baltic States 20 to 30 years ago.

Sergey Lavrov: Back when the Baltic States were about to be admitted to the EU, we asked the Brussels bureaucrats, the Eurogrands, whether they were sure they were doing the right thing. The problems that are at odds with the membership criteria persist, including non-observance of the rights of the Russian-speaking minorities in Latvia and Estonia. We were told that the Baltic States are phobic of Russia (war, the so-called occupation, etc.), the EU will bring it into its fold, it will calm down and ethnic minorities will be happy and contented. Things turned out the other way round. The Russians were not granted any rights, and statelessness is still there.

Question: Let’s go back to Turkey: Ankara’s stronger position, its active role in the Nagorno-Karabakh war, President Erdogan’s visit to Northern Cyprus (which a Turkish leader has not done for quite a while). What does Moscow think about it?

Sergey Lavrov: As far as Turkey and Northern Cyprus are concerned, we see it as Ankara’s relations with its “fellow countrymen.” I have not heard about Turkey refusing to honour the UN obligations accepted by the conflicting parties. These obligations include seeking a mutually acceptable solution and creating a bicommunal bizonal federation. There is a discussion of whether the federation will be strong or weak. But there is no disagreement about the fact that it must be one state. Although not so very long ago, it was the common opinion that the entire project would fail and they would have to create two states. We understand that Ankara is interested in Cypriot Turks living in equality and their rights being observed. We support the idea that the same motives with which Turkey explains its actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, including with respect to hydrocarbons, should determine its dialogue with Greece and Turkey.

On February 17, 2021, I spoke with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias who told me that on January 25, 2021, he had had a probing conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. They did not iron out all issues. But it is good news that a dialogue was established. They agreed to continue it. On February 18, 2021, I spoke with Mevlut Cavusoglu. We continued sharing opinions following the telephone conversations between President Putin and President Erdogan on Syria, Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh and our bilateral relations. New power units of a nuclear power station are under construction; the TurkStream project is ongoing. There is much common ground between our countries when it comes to energy.

In October 2019, the first Russia-Africa Summit in history was held in Sochi. A record number of heads of state and heads of government attended. In the course of the preparations for the summit, we reviewed the development of our relations with African countries and the current state of affairs, including from the perspective of expanding our presence on the continent which political scientists consider to be the most promising in the long term. We reviewed other countries’ presence in Africa. Since 2002, the number of Turkish embassies in Africa has increased from 12 to 42. Turkey’s trade with the region is estimated at around 20 billion dollars a year and Russia’s trade is around 15 billion dollars. This is to say that Turkey has an eye for potential.

Question: Perhaps Turkey is disappointed with the EU because nobody accepted it?

Sergey Lavrov: I believe it could partially be the case. In its contacts with the EU, Ankara continues to insist that the EU promised it accession. Turkey is spreading its wings and gaining weight despite the existing economic problems at home. Turkey mainly goes on by accumulating its national debt but this model is widely common around the world.

Question: 2020 is the year of the pandemic. During such times, countries should join forces and help each other. Do you think that this was the case? Or did the world fail to put aside disagreements and rally together even when it came to the COVID-19 infection?

Sergey Lavrov: Now this conversation is back to square one. There are no ideologies anymore. But this ideology-based, politicised perception of the Russian vaccine was not a very good signal. The Sputnik V vaccine was announced in August 2020, many months after the G20 summit (March 2020) where Vladimir Putin strongly advocated cooperation in vaccine production. Even then, we were ready to create joint scientific teams. But Western countries and their companies, unwilling to help competitors, did not respond to that proposal. So much for unification in this purely medical field.

There is also the humanitarian sphere. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet made calls during the pandemic to suspend all unilateral sanctions in fields directly affecting food, the supply of medicine and medical equipment, in order to alleviate the suffering of the population in countries that were under unilateral sanctions (regardless of their reasons). There was no reaction from the initiators of those sanctions (primarily the US and the EU). Also, there was no response to President Vladimir Putin’s proposal, at the G20 summit, to create ‘green corridors’ for the period of the pandemic, to move goods under the most relaxed rules – without tax, duties, tariffs, delays, or special customs inspections.

We are all in the same boat, and it’s not so big. Some forecasts say this situation will continue for a long time, and the coronavirus will be a seasonal infection, and it is not at all the same as the flu or other diseases, so we will have to use precautions permanently, use PPE. This realisation should somehow prod countries to more open cooperation, especially those that up until recently had some doubts.

True, there have been some good shifts. One of them is the United States’ return to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Some hotheads in Washington believe that, now that they have returned, they will make others do their bidding. There are fewer than 50 Chinese people in the WHO Secretariat, 25 Russians, over 200 Americans, and more than 2,000 NATO representatives. The past US administration said China was manipulating the WHO. That is not true. Otherwise, we are admitting the complete helplessness of 2,000 NATO members who should be the majority in the WHO Secretariat.

Nevertheless, there are some positive results though. This problem has been recently considered at the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. It is important now to focus on equitable collaboration within the WHO. Besides the attempts at carrying out “soft coups” and establishing their own rules in the organisation, hardly based on consensus, an idea has been suggested to move the main decision-making on global health policies outside the universal organisation. We have been pointing out this tendency for some time now – the one to replace international law with a rules-based world order. As it turns out in reality, those rules boil down to working out all decisions in a circle of those who agree with you rather than in a group with universal representation where you have to argue your case and search for balances and compromises. And then you just present the decision as ‘the ultimate truth’ and demand that everyone respect it.

This underlies the Franco-German initiative for a new multilateralism and some limited partnerships in the West. For example, Paris has launched an International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. Under this non-universal, non-UN partnership, the EU creates the so-called ‘horizontal’ regime of sanctions to be imposed on anyone that France-initiated partnership points at. A similar sanctions regime is being created for cybersecurity. Instead of any open-ended discussion, the French are promoting some partnership to defend freedom in cyberspace. This is another example of rules on which ‘order’ will be based.

There are attempts to start similar groups outside the WHO. But people’s health is not a field where one can play geopolitics. Unless there is a conspiracy behind this to reduce the population of the Earth. Many are now starting to develop such theories and concepts.

What a return to the Iran nuclear deal means ماذا تعني العودة إلى الاتفاق النوويّ الإيرانيّ

**English Machine translation Please scroll down for the Arabic original version **

What a return to the Iran nuclear deal means

Dr. Wafiq Ibrahim

The conditions for returning to the nuclear agreement are increasing, and with it the possibility of building a real world peace between the most powerful countries in the world increases.

The reason for this optimism is that four members of the agreement — France, Britain, Germany and the United States — will meet at night for the first time since the Americans withdrew from the agreement in 2016.

Since Russia is also committed to its membership and Iran, there is a high probability that the nuclear agreement will be reintroduced as stipulated in its basic terms in 2015.

The conditions for return do not seem to be difficult despite Saudi-Israeli attempts to block it and pressure the United States not to return. This is because these two countries are determined to continue to regard Iran as an enemy of the Western public order and its alliances in the Middle East.

Former U.S. President Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2016, claiming Iran had violated it. But the rest of the member states and the International Energy Organization did not agree with his claims, which led to the disruption of the work in the last four years in a row and turned into a U.S.-Iran conflict in which Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE entered alongside the Americans, but France, Britain and Germany continued to demand Iran to remain a member of the agreement alongside Russia, which since the beginning of the dispute has declared strong support for Iran.

It is therefore a political struggle that takes the form of technical disagreements. As for the reasons, it is Iran’s success in building deep alliances, starting with Afghanistan with its main forces, and ending with deep political influence in Pakistan. Iran has also managed to penetrate Into India, where it succeeded in building deep relations with its Shiites and in Yemen, where it forged one of the most important relations with the Houthis, who form its main force and defeated with them Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the British and the Americans in battles that continue.

Iran also supported Iraq and allowed it to defeat the Americans, their allies, and ISIS. As for Syria, it is a great story in which Iran supported preventing the overthrow of the Syrian state and its expansion into three quarters of its country. As for Lebanon, Iran was able to support Hezbollah in such a way that it became the main force in a major axis standing in the face of “Israel” and its slaves in the region.

These achievements are the root cause of The U.S. Western Saudi-Israeli hostility to Iran, and it is the reason for the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

Can Iran bow to renegotiating its alliances extending from Afghanistan to Lebanon?

There are reasons to prevent this.

Firstly, the West knows that Iran’s alliances have become armed forces within their own countries and it is not easy to confront them, and it has become almost impossible to attack them by “Israel” or any Arab forces. As for the negotiations over its status, this is a hopeless act, because it is close to catching their countries.

Therefore, the only thing left for the Americans and their alliances is to search for new means of rolling into politics, meaning that the Americans accept political settlements between the forces allied with Iran and the forces affiliated with the Americans, but not within the framework of imposed truces, but rather agreements that lead to the conduct and regularity of public business in the country.

Will a return to the nuclear agreement lead to regular internal actions in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon?

It seems that things are going to this direction because there is no alternative, especially since the two parties to the conflict are never thinking of leaving the areas they are sponsoring in Iraq and Syria due to their national and regional importance.

It turns out, then, that the nuclear agreement is an internal agreement that grasps many internal regions of countries in the Middle East, and this makes it very important and confiscates the external powers of these countries, i.e. it can use the entity that controls it in the Middle East conflicts, which is also an international one that serves the interest of recommending another team in the conflicts of the countries to control the most important oil and gas region in the world.

It is clear that the nuclear agreement is an internal agreement that holds a lot of the internal areas of the countries in the Middle East and this makes it very important and confiscates the external powers of these countries, i.e. it can use the entity that controls it in the Middle East conflicts, which is also an international one that serves the interest of recommending another team in the conflicts of the countries to control the most important oil and gas region in the world.

Will the European-American meetings succeed in preparing for a return to the nuclear agreement as a mechanism for turning Middle Eastern conflicts into draft agreements and freezing their flames?

There is a vague point in this agreement and you go on to wonder if Russia actually accepts to work on an international agreement that excludes China from what is the actual instrument of conflict with the U.S. side?

There is an ambiguous point in this agreement and it raises the question whether Russia actually accepts working on an international agreement that excludes China from it, whereas China is the actual tool for the conflict with the American side?

This is a difficult point for which the Russians may find a solution, namely, limiting the nuclear deal to the Iranian nuclear issue exclusively, provided that the bulk of international relations remain free, and this would re-weave the Sino-Russian-Iranian relations that they believe can catch up with the American giant and possibly overtake it after awhile.

Therefore, the world is in the atmosphere of the Iranian nuclear agreement and is awaiting its results on which it will build its next movement.

If the U.S. movement wants to attract Iran from the Sino-Russian axis, then the Russian role has taken upon itself to freeze the Iranian role at the steps of the nuclear agreement, providing that it paves the way for a Sino-Iranian-Russian movement that will not delay the completion of building a system of alliances that may include more countries than the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia believe. This means that the nuclear deal will not reduce international conflicts and may establish deeper and more violent international conflicts.

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ماذا تعني العودة إلى الاتفاق النوويّ الإيرانيّ

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د. وفيق إبراهيم

ظروف العودة الى الاتفاق النوويّ تزداد ويرتفع معها احتمال بناء سلام عالميّ فعلي بين الدول الأقوى في العالم.

أسباب ارتفاع هذا التفاؤل هو انعقاد لقاء ليليّ بين أربعة من أعضاء الاتفاق هم فرنسا وبريطانيا والمانيا والولايات المتحدة للمرة الأولى منذ انسحاب الأميركيين من الاتفاق في 2016.

وبما ان روسيا متمسكة بعضويتها وإيران ايضاً فهذا يعني وجود احتمال كبير لإعادة العمل بالاتفاق النووي وفق ما نصت عليه شروطه الأساسية في 2015.

يبدو أن ظروف العودة ليست صعبة على الرغم من المحاولات السعودية الإسرائيلية لعرقلتها والضغط على الولايات المتحدة لعدم العودة. وهذا سببه إصرار هذين البلدين على الاستمرار في اعتبار إيران عدواً للنظام الغربي العام وتحالفاته في الشرق الاوسط.

وكان الرئيس الأميركي السابق ترامب انسحب من الاتفاق النووي في 2016 بزعم أن إيران خرقته. لكن بقية الدول الأعضاء ومنظمة الطاقة الدولية لم توافق على ادعاءاته، ما أدى الى تعطيل العمل به في السنوات الاربع الأخيرة على التوالي وتحوّل الأمر نزاعاً أميركياً – إيرانياً دخلت فيه «إسرائيل» والسعودية والإمارات الى جانب الأميركيين لكن فرنسا وبريطانيا والمانيا ظلت تطالب إيران بالبقاء في عضوية الاتفاق الى جانب روسيا التي أعلنت منذ انطلاق الخلاف تأييدها القوي الى جانب إيران.

هو إذاً صراع سياسيّ يرتدي شكل خلافات تقنية، أما الأسباب فهي نجاح إيران في بناء تحالفات عميقة بدءاً مع أفغانستان مع قواها الرئيسيّة وصولاً الى نفوذ سياسي عميق في باكستان. كما أن إيران تمكنت من التوغّل في الهند، حيث نجحت في بناء علاقات عميقة مع شيعتها ولم توفر اليمن، حيث نسجت واحدة من اهم العلاقات مع الحوثيين الذين يشكلون قوتها الأساسية وهزمت بالاشتراك معهم السعودية والامارات والبريطانيين والأميركيين في معارك لا تزال متواصلة.

كذلك فإن إيران دعمت العراق وأتاحت له فرصة الانتصار على الأميركيين وحلفائهم وداعش. أما سورية فهي حكاية كبرى دعمت فيها إيران منع إسقاط الدولة السورية وساندت تمددها الى ثلاثة أرباع بلادها. أما لبنان فتمكنت إيران من إسناد حزب الله بشكل أصبح فيه القوة الأساسية في محور كبير يقف في وجه «اسرائيل» وزبانيتها في المنطقة.

هذه الإنجازات هي السبب الأساسي للعداء الأميركي الغربي السعودي الإسرائيلي لإيران، وهي سبب الانسحاب الأميركي من الاتفاق النووي.

فهل يمكن لإيران الرضوخ لإعادة التفاوض على نقاط تحالفاتها الممتدة من افغانستان الى لبنان؟ هناك معطيات تحول دون هذا الأمر.

اولاً الغرب يعرف ان تحالفات إيران أصبحت قوى وازنة مسلحة داخل بلدانها وليس سهلاً التصدي لها، كما أنه أصبح شبه مستحيل مهاجمتها من طريق «إسرائيل» او اي قوى عربية. اما لجهة المفاوضات حول وضعها فهذا عمل ميؤوس منه لأنها تقترب من الإمساك بدولها.

لذلك لا يتبقى أمام الأميركيين وتحالفاتهم إلا البحث عن وسائل جديدة «كامنة» تتدحرج نحو السياسة، أي أن يقبل الأميركيون بتسويات سياسية بين القوى المتحالفة مع إيران والقوى المحسوبة على الأميركيين انما ليس في إطار هدنات مفروضات بل اتفاقات تؤدي الى تسيير الأعمال العامة في البلاد وانتظامها.

فهل تؤدي العودة الى الاتفاق النووي الى انتظام الاعمال الداخلية في افغانستان واليمن والعراق وسورية ولبنان؟

يبدو ان الأمور ذاهبة الى هذا المنحى لانتفاء البديل خصوصاً أن طرفي الصراع لا يفكران أبداً بترك المناطق التي يرعونها في العراق وسورية وذلك لأهميتها الوطنية والإقليمية.

يتبين اذاً ان الاتفاق النووي هو اتفاق داخلي يمسك بالكثير من المناطق الداخلية للدول في الشرق الأوسط وهذا يجعله هاماً جداً ويصادر القوى الخارجية لهذه الدول أي يصبح بإمكانه استعمال الجهة التي يسيطر عليها في الصراعات الشرق اوسطية وهي ايضاً دولية تصبّ في مصلحة تزكية فريق آخر في صراعات الدول للسيطرة على أهم منطقة نفط وغاز في العالم.

فهل تنجح اللقاءات الأوروبية – الأميركية في التمهيد للعودة الى الاتفاق النووي كآلية تحول الصراعات الشرق أوسطية الى مشاريع اتفاقات وتجمّد لهيبها؟

هناك نقطة غامضة في هذا الاتفاق وتذهب الى التساؤل اذا كانت روسيا تقبل فعلاً العمل في اتفاق دولي يُقصي الصين عنه بما هي الأداة الفعلية للصراع مع الطرف الأميركي؟

هذه نقطة صعبة قد يجد الروس لها حلاً وهي اقتصار الاتفاق النووي على الموضوع النووي الإيراني حصراً على أن يبقى القسم الأكبر من العلاقات الدولية حراً وهذا من شأنه إعادة نسج علاقات صينية روسية إيرانية ترى أن بإمكانها اللحاق بالعملاق الأميركي وربما تجاوزه بعد مدة من الزمن.

العالم اذاً في أجواء الاتفاق الإيراني النووي يترقب نتائجه التي يبني عليها حركته المقبلة.

فإذا كانت الحركة الأميركية تريد جذب إيران من المحور الصيني الروسي، فإن الدور الروسي أخذ على عاتقه تجميد الدور الإيراني عند مندرجات الاتفاق النووي على أن يفسح المجال لحركة صينية – إيرانية روسية لن تتأخر في استكمال بناء منظومة تحالفات قد تشمل من الدول أكثر مما تعتقد الولايات المتحدة و»إسرائيل» والسعودية. بما يعني ان الاتفاق النووي لن يختزل الصراعات الدولية وقد يؤسس لصراعات دولية أكثر عمقاً وأشد عنفاً.

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The US is Duplicitous over Jerusalem, but the PA Stays Silent

February 18, 2021

The city of Jerusalem. (Photo: Ekaterina Vysotina, via Pixabay)

By Ramona Wadi

The Biden administration is adopting a confusing position regarding Jerusalem, signaling a possible effort to square the circle of taking the US back to the fold of international consensus on Palestine and Israel, while maintaining the gifts which former US President Donald Trump handed on a plate to Israel. As usual, Washington is being duplicitous. Also as normal, the PA is staying silent.

In a recent briefing by the US State Department, spokesman Ned Price seemed to contradict the diplomatic position taken by the US under Trump, declaring the issue of Jerusalem to be “a final status issue which will need to be resolved by the parties in the context of direct negotiations.” Such a statement puts the US in line with two-state politics and international consensus.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated clearly that he recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a Trump-era move that ushered in the probability of further annexation. Even more telling was Blinken’s dithering when asked whether the US would support a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. Playing upon the fact that diplomatic negotiations are stalled, Blinken answered, “What we have to see is for the parties to get together directly and negotiate these so-called final status issues.”

If President Joe Biden is determined to pursue two-state diplomacy within the framework of Trump’s legacy, Palestinians are in for a worse time than they were under his predecessor.

The “deal of the century” was explicit in its determination to strip Palestinians of their political rights. A mix of two-state politics and the deal of the century constitutes a double effort to ensure that the Palestinians are the losers, which will be exacerbated with the Palestinian Authority’s brand of acquiescent politics.

In the absence of a clear policy on Palestine, the PA has given too much importance to Biden’s overtures so far. Restoring relations with the PA is, of course, a necessity, but Mahmoud Abbas has still not spoken about US-Palestinian diplomacy, while Biden has not yet formulated a policy and is still hovering between Trump’s actions and pursuing the two-state paradigm.

So far, the US has stated that it will not move the US Embassy back to Tel Aviv, thus clearly endorsing Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital. The PA has preferred not to mull over this significant strategy.

The restoration of relations and the promise of humanitarian aid have instilled a resolve in Abbas to resort to the usual time-waster of an international peace conference, in which participants will overlook the fact that the US can’t possibly adhere to the two-state paradigm without recognizing that occupied East Jerusalem should serve as the capital of the Palestinian state.

Abbas and the international community are still clinging to the obsolete two-state hypothesis, while the US will abide by international consensus as long as it does not have to completely renege on what Trump achieved. When Trump declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital, Abbas called for protests.

What will he do if Biden does not explicitly endorse East Jerusalem as the capital of a State of Palestine? Will Abbas call out the US for its duplicity, or will he continue to stay silent as long as the PA can once again lay claim to a minor presence in the circle of America’s diplomatic relations?

– Ramona Wadi is a staff writer for Middle East Monitor, where this article was originally published. She contributed this article to the Palestine Chronicle.

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