The Hypersonic Fall of US Prestige

January 3, 2022

Even against the backdrop of recent events, the US stubbornly refuses to acknowledge that “American credibility” in the world is falling apart. It is not just a question of political credibility or the collapse of 20 years of American military intervention in Afghanistan. This fall did not begin with Biden or Trump, but with the faulty perception by the current political and military establishment of the United States of its alleged exceptionality and dominance in the world and its total corruption.

Despite the policy pursued by the current US authorities to exert pressure and push their weapons into foreign markets, they have long been unable to compete in many areas, particularly with Russian weapons. The American military who went through armed conflicts in Vietnam and other countries have repeatedly emphasized in The Atlantic and other specialized military magazines the indisputable advantages of the legendary Soviet AK-47 assault rifle over the M-16 rifle, which is most popular in the US military. Today, many of even American media outlets already point out that American weapons cannot protect American soldiers “from the machinations of the enemy.” And here, it would be worth recalling the problems with the US Navy, the collapse of the submarine fleet. Or more new shortcomings revealed with each passing day of the fifth-generation fighter F-35, heftily advertised by the Pentagon, which, despite the billions of US taxpayers’ dollars already invested in it, still cannot guarantee the declared level of capabilities, having turned into an “American scam.”

Throughout all the time since Russia declared it had the hypersonic Zircon missile, even though its tests were announced by Moscow in advance and conducted regularly, the US and NATO missile defense/anti-missile defense systems have never been able to detect its launch and further flight. According to the conclusions of military experts, the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) is only able to provide information on a “fire in the hole!” basis. Modern technologies are unable to intercept such a target.

In this regard, NATO and US military commanders have serious concerns that their air defense/anti-missile defenses would be useless in the event of a possible military conflict. However, it should be emphasized that the Russian nuclear deterrence and nuclear weapons policy does not stipulate a first strike on enemy territory. The conditions for Russia’s use of nuclear weapons are clear, and they call only for a retaliatory counter-strike.

As for the shorter-range hypersonic weapons, for example, the Kinzhal has a range of about 2,000 kilometers. This is not a strategic range but an operational-tactical range. But SBIRS can’t pick it up either.

Therefore, Russian hypersonic weapons are causing great anxiety among US strategists. In this sense, the words of Glen VanHerck, a general in the United States Air Force, that hypersonic weapons of Russia challenge the early warning systems of the US Department of Defense are quite logical. After all, if the target maneuvers at hypersonic speeds, there is an insoluble problem for intercept. At such speeds, the interceptor missile must have more energy than the hypersonic target, and the overloading, in this case, will be such that no material and no missile can withstand it.

As for the US hypersonic weapons, another test of the AGM-183A hypersonic missile under the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) program failed, specialized portal The War Zone reported recently citing a US Air Force official. In late July, it came to light that the US Air Force had already twice failed to test the prototype hypersonic missile AGM-183A, which, according to Washington, was allegedly able to reach Moscow and reach speeds over 15,000 miles per hour, (five times the speed of sound, although the Russian Zircon hypersonic cruise missile already flies at a speed eight times faster than sound!). Nevertheless, attempts to inflate the long sagging US missile cheeks and threats that Washington will, if necessary, send to Europe hypersonic medium- and short-range missiles (which, it should be said, the US does not have) to “deter” Russia continue unabated from Washington.

At the same time, President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly proposed to Washington additional steps to de-escalate the situation in Europe. The Russian Foreign Ministry has published the draft treaties of Russia with NATO and the United States on security guarantees, which are not yet accepted for consideration in Washington and Brussels, unfortunately.

Instead, the Pentagon is trying to intimidate the world with its new effective weapons by actively promoting, through controlled media, the US Navy’s test of a Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) combat laser that destroyed a floating boat target in the Gulf of Aden in the Indian Ocean on December 14. The LWSD laser is designed to counter UAVs and remotely piloted explosive-laden boats commonly used by Houthi insurgents in the Red Sea. US authorities believe the technology could be a “game-changer” in future conflicts, including in the event of a major war with China, reports The Daily Telegraph.

At the same time, the Pentagon deliberately omits the fact that the guidance systems of the US-tested combat laser can be suppressed using electronic warfare without much problem. Its effectiveness falls in fog and haze. That is why even today, the conclusions of some experts can be seen all over the place that the primary purpose of “new Pentagon weapons” is just another siphon off and appropriation of taxpayers’ money, which has already ruined the development of research work of American armament specialists on hypersonic weapons.

Under these circumstances, all Washington has to do today is to rely on the United States’ own use of China’s “miracle weapon” that it used to scare the common American man during the Cold War era: a giant slingshot, which supposedly could be pulled by millions of Chinese soldiers. And the Pentagon is already making some progress in this regard with the adoption, in particular, of the Strategic Long-Range Cannon (SLRC) by the US Army, which, supposedly, instead of the non-existent hyper-weapons, will be able to “bombard Moscow” like in that old scare story about a slingshot.

By Vladimir Platov
Source: New Eastern Outlook

Andrei Martyanov: The Timing of Russia’s Ultimatum to NATO

December 20, 2021

سر التصلب الإيراني في فيينا… ابحثوا عن السلاح السري!

ألاربعاء كانون أول 15, 2021 

محمد صادق الحسيني

تدور نقاشات معمّقةً، بين الكثير من المحللين والباحثين العسكريين والاستراتيجيين الأوروبيين، حول سرّ التصلب الإيراني في المفاوضات النووية، الجارية في فيينا منذ حوالي اسبوعين تقريباً، وهو التصلب الناتج، حسب تقديرهم عن ثقة زائدة بالنفس، سواءً على الصعيد السياسي او الدبلوماسي، وقبل كلّ شيء على الصعيد العسكري.

ويعتقد هولاء انّ ذلك يعود الى اسباب عديدة، او يمكن ربطه بعوامل قوةٍ إيرانيةٍ استراتيجية خفيةً، تُمَكِن القيادة الإيرانية من المناورة الاستراتيجية المستندة الى قوةٍ عسكرية خارقةّ تجعل من المستحيل على خصوم إيران ان يفكروا جدياً بالقيام باي عملية عسكرية ضد إيران، مهما كانت محدودة.

ومع انه من نافل القول ان يُشار الى الفرق الهائل في القدرات العسكرية، بين الولايات المتحدة وإيران، الا ان هؤلاء الخبراء يرجعون صلابة الموقف الإيراني، السياسي والعسكري، الى سببين رئيسيين هما:

أولاً: ان تكون إيران تمتلك نظام حرب الكترونية شبيه بنظام الحرب الالكترونية الروسي، من طراز: مورمانسك بي إن (Murmansk B N). وهو نظام تشويش الكتروني مخصص لاعتراض الموجات اللاسلكية المعادية والتشويش عليها او قطعها. ويغطي عمل هذا النظام كامل طيف الموجة القصيرة (موجة الإرسال)، بدءاً من ثلاثة وحتى ثلاثين ميغاهيرتز (٣ – ٣٠ ميغاهيرتز)، وهي الموجه المستخدمة بين سلاح الجو وسلاح البحرية ومراكز القيادة والسيطر في القوات المسلحه الأميركيه (بالاضافة الى قوات حلفاء أميركا في المنطقة).

وهذا يعني انّ أنظمة التشويش الروسية تبدأ بالتشويش على اتصالات العدو بمجرد ان يكتشف النظام اي اشارة لاسلكية معاديه، مما يؤدي الى قطع التواصل، بالكامل، بين القوات الجوية والبحرية، العاملة في مسرح العمليات، ومراكز القيادة والسيطرة.

الامر الذي يؤدي، وبشكل فوري الى سقوط أسراب الطائرات المهاجمة، للاراضي الروسية او الإيرانية في هذه الحالة، ودون اطلاق طلقةً واحدة باتجاه هذه الطائرات. وهو ما ينطبق على القطع البحرية ايضاً، حيث يقوم هذا النظام بحجب الاتصالات بين الاساطيل الجوية والبحرية ومراكز قيادتها وذلك عبر حجب إشارات الاقمار الصناعية بالكامل عنها.

وبكلمات أخرى، فان القوات الأميركية وقوات حلف شمال الاطلسي تصبح عاجزةً عن تنفيذ اية عمليات قتالية، ضمن دائرة قطرها خمسة آلاف كيلو متر.

ولهذا السبب بالذات، دائرة الخمسة آلاف كيلومتر فإنّ روسيا قد قامت بنشر هذا النظام في كلٍ من:

– شبه جزيرة القرم، في جنوب غرب روسيا.

– شبه جزيرة كولا Kola Peninsula (شمال غرب روسيا / اي في اقصى شمال شرق فنلندا وبالقرب من القطب الشمالي للكرة الارضية).

– مقاطعة كالينينغراد Kaliningrad، وهي المقاطعة الروسية غير المتصلة جغرافياً، عبر البر، مع روسيا، والواقعة على ساحل خليج دانتسيغ  (Danzig)، بين ليتوانيا وبولندا.

– الشرق الاقصى (اي منطقة جنوب الساحل الروسي على المحيط الهادئ في مقاطعة ڤلاديڤوستوك – تبعد عن موسكو مسافة عشر ساعات طيران).

بالاضافة الى ان الاساطيل الروسية جميعها، اسطول الشمال / اسطول بحر البلطيق / اسطول البحر الاسود واسطول المحيط الهادئ، مزودةً بهذا النظام القاتل والقادر، كما أشرنا اعلاه، على إسقاط كافة التشكيلات الجوية او الصواريخ الاستراتيجية او غيرها من وسائل الحرب الجوية في دائرة خمسة آلاف كيلو متر.

وبذلك فإنّ هذا النظام يغطي كافة أنحاء أراضي جمهورية روسيا الاتحادية، الامر الذي يجعل روسيا محمية بالكامل، وليست بحاجةٍ لا للدخول في سباق تسلح ولا حتى في حرب محدودةً او واسعة مع خصومها.

كما لا بدّ من التذكير، بانّ هناك نظاماً آخر، رديف لهذا النظام، في الحرب الالكترونية، منتشراً في المناطق والاساطيل الروسية، المشار اليها أعلاه، ومخصص لحجب او قطع وصول اشارات نظام الاتصالات الدولي / جي بي إس GPS، وهو نظام كراسوخا / ٤ (Krasukha 4).

وهو ما يعني ان القوات المعادية سوف تكون هائمةً في الميدان، دون ايّ اتصالات، لا بين القوات على الارض ولا بين القوات ومراكز القيادة. ما يجعل الحرب قد حسمت دون طلقةٍ واحدة.

ويخلص الباحثون والاستراتيجيون الأوروبيون الى انّ إيران تملك هذا النظام قطعاً، خاصةً وانّ الطيارين الأميركيين قد اشتكوا مراراً، حسب العديد من أخبار وتقارير لصحف ومجلات أميركية مختصة بالشؤون العسكرية، من تعرّض طائراتهم، ومن بينها طائرات F 35 الشبحية، الى تشويش الكتروني قوي، في الأجواء السورية، ارغمهم على قطع مهماتهم والعودة الى قواعدهم.

كما لا بدّ من التذكير بأنّ مطار تل ابيب قد تعرّض، قبل حوالي عام، الى تشويش الكتروني شديد، استمرّ حوالي ثلاثة أشهر، وأسفر عن ارتباك شديد جداً في حركة الطيران في أجواء المطار واضطر سلطات الملاحة الجوية المعنية الى تغيير مسارات الطائرات لمحاولة تفادي التشويش، دون جدوى. وهو ما أرغم سلطات المطار آنذاك الى تحويل عشرات الرحلات الجوية الى مطار لارنكا القبرصي.

وعلى الرغم من كثرة التحليلات، لأسباب ما حدث في مطار تل ابيب، فانّ الخبراء المذكورين أعلاه، يعتقدون جازمين انّ سبب ذلك هو تدريبات إيرانية على أجهزة تشويش الكتروني إيرانية، شبيهة في مواصفاتها لنظام التشويش الروسي: مورمانسك / بي إن (Murmansk B N)، وهو نظام متحرك محمول على شاحنات عسكرية ثقيلة.

ثانياً: ان تكون إيران تملك انظمة سلاح كهرومغناطيسي (Non- Nuclear Electromagnetic) NNMP)Empuls)  قوي جداً قادرٌ على تدمير مدن باكملها. وهي انظمة يمكن اطلاقها عبر وسائل مختلفه اهمها؛

– الصواريخ المجنحة.

– المروحيات القتالية.

– الطائرات المسيّرة.

وجميعها وسائل قتال جوي تمتلك منها إيران الكثير الكثير، خاصة الصواريخ المجنحة، وانواع الصواريخ الثقيلة والبعيدة المدى الاخرى.

مع العلم ان القوة التدميرية لهذا السلاح تعتمد على قوة الموجه الكهرومغناطيسية التي تنتج عن انفجار الرأس الحربي للصاروخ او المسيرّة التي تحمله. وعليه فان هناك احجاماً، وبالتالي قدرات تدميرية، مختلفة لكل موجة كهرومغناطيسية (او صاروخ كهرومغناطيسي)، يتم التحكم بحجمها من قبل صانع القرار العسكري ومن قابل الشركات او المؤسسات الصانعة لهذه الاسلحة.

وعلى الرغم من ان الخبراء الاستراتيجيين، المذكورين اعلاه، يعتقدون ان هناك بعض الصعوبة في تدمير مدن بكاملها، من خلال هذا السلاح، الا أنهم مقتنعون بأنّ هذا السلاح قادر على تدمير البنى التحتية، كمحطات توليد الكهرباء وتحلية المياه ومراكز الاتصالات ومراكز القيادة والسيطرة العسكرية والخدماتية، لأيّ دولة كانت وبشكل كامل، مما يعني ان “إسرائيل”، في هذه الحالة التي يجري فيها النقاش حول امكانيات الردع الإيرانية، فإنّ الجيش “الإسرائيلي”، بكافة صنوفه، سيصبح خارج الخدمة، ايّ غير قادر على القيام بأيّ عمليات عسكرية، مهما صغرت، مما يجعل مسألة تدمير حيفا وتل أبيب وتسويتها بالأرض، حسب بعض التصريحات الصحافية الإيرانية في مناسبات متعددة، أمراً غير ضروري.

وذلك انطلاقاً من حقيقة ان إحداث حالة شلل كامل، في كافة مناحي الحياة، العسكرية منها والمدنية، في “إسرائيل” سيفتح الطريق، امام قوات حلف المقاومة، للوصول، بكل سهولة، حتى الى القدس وليس فقط الى حيفا وتل ابيب.

وهذا طبعاً ليس سيناريو خياليا، على الاطلاق، وانما هو توصيف للمشهد الذي سيلي استخدام مثل هذه الاسلحة، من قبل إيران، والتي لا توجد وسائل للتصدي لها بفعالية.

ولعلّ أبلغ دليل على انّ هذه الاحتمالات، التي يجري بحثها وتحليلها، بعد دراستها، من قبل أهل الاختصاص المُنَوَهْ اليهم اعلاه، لعل ابلغ دليل على ذلك هو:

التقرير، المكوّن من مائتين وثماني صفحات، والذي أعدّته لجنة أميركية مختصة، مكونة من تسعة علماء، لتقييم اخطار تعرض الولايات المتحدة الأميركية لهجوم كهرومغناطيسي، ونشرته في شهر نيسان ٢٠٠٨، واكدت فيه كل الاحتمالات، المشار اليها أعلاه.

وفي الخلاصة فلا بدّ من التأكيد على حقائق ساطعةً، تتعلق بالموقف الإيراني في المفاوضات النووية وغيرها من المفاوضات الاقليمية، هي التالية:

1 ـ لا مصلحة للولايات المتحدة الأميركية بالدخول في صراع مسلح جديد وطويل الأمد التي في الشرق الاوسط. وهو أمر يعلمه صانع القرار الإيراني ويبني عليه. وهذا هو الركن الاول للموقف الإيراني الصلب.

2 ـ ان التصريحات الصاخبة والضجيج “الإسرائيلي” المرافق لها، حول الموقف من إيران، بما في ذلك زيارات المسؤولين العسكريين والامنيين “الإسرائيليين” المتتابعة لواشنطن، لا تتعدّى كونها جعجعة بلا طحين. وهذا ما يعرفه صانع القرار الإيراني ويبني عليه ايضاً. وبذلك نكون قد وصلنا الى الركن الثاني في اركان الموقف الإيراني الصلب.

3 ـ ان كلّ ما نراه ونسمعه، حول مجمل مسارات الصراع، وعلى كامل مسرح عمليات الشرق الأوسط، بين حلف المقاومة والولايات المتحدة وأتباعها في الشرق الاوسط، إنما هو انعكاس لموازين القوى الاستراتيجية، في المنطقة والعالم، خاصة اذا وضعنا في الاعتبار تزايد التوتر بين الولايات المتحدة والصين وبين الولايات المتحدة وروسيا، وما لهذا الصراع من انعكاسات على التحالفات القوى الدولية، او الدول العظمى، مع القوى الاقليمية في الشرق الاوسط.

وهو ما يتضح بشدّة من خلال سماح واشنطن لأتباعها العرب بفتح قنوات تواصل مع إيران، بعد ان كانت قد أمرتهم بنقل المعركة الى داخل إيران، قبل سنوات، وفشلوا في ذلك. وهو الفشل الذي وجد انعكاساً له في كلمة محمد بن سلمان، مساء يوم ١٤/١٢/٢٠٢١، التي ألقاها في افتتاح ما يُسمّى: قمة التعاون الخليجي، واعلن فيها عن ضرورة إيجاد حلّ سياسي للحرب على اليمن.

ايّ انه اعترف، ولو بشكل غير مباشر، بفشل مغامرته في اليمن، التي تستمرّ مشاهدها الإجرامية منذ سبع سنوات.

وهذا ايضاً يعرفه صانع القرار الإيراني ويبني عليه. وعليه فان ذلك يشكل الركن الثالث للموقف الإيراني الصلب، على كل المستويات، وليس فقط في المفاوضات النووية في فيينا.

4 ـ اما الركن الرابع، الذي يستند اليه الموقف الإيراني الصلب، فهو العمى السياسي والاستراتيجي “الإسرائيلي” من ناحية، وصلابة وصبر اطراف حلف المقاومه الاستراتيجي، وفي كلّ الساحات.

اذ انّ قادة هذا الكيان السياسي، المسمّى “إسرائيل”، والمقام في فلسطين المحتلة، غائبون عن الوعي تماماً ولا قدرة لهم جميعاً على قراءة الوضع الاستراتيجي لكيانهم، بشكل موضوعي. بمعنى انهم يواصلون ضجيجهم واثارة الهلع بين مستوطنيهم لأسباب حزبية وشخصية تافهة ولا قيمة لها، ولا تمتّ للفهم السياسي والاستراتيجي بأية صله.

صحيح انّ الكثير من دول العالم تشهد مثل هذه الصراعات، الدائرة بين الأحزاب والقوى والشخوص، التي تسمّي نفسها سياسية في هذا الكيان، الا انّ تلك الدول تبقى دولاً ليست مهدّدة بالزوال، كما هو حال الكيان، في حالة قراءةٍ سياسية او استراتيجية خاطئة. وانما سيقتصر الامر على زوال حزب سياسي بعينه او طبقة سياسية معينة.

وهذا طبعاً ما يعرفه صانع القرار الإيراني ويبني عليه، تمهيداً لإطلاق الصفحة الاخيرة من الهجوم الاستراتيجي لحلف المقاومة، والذي انطلق من حلب السورية، كما الشيخ عز الدين القسام، قائد اول ثورة فلسطينية منظمة سنة ١٩٣٦. هذا الهجوم الذي سينتهي بدخول قوات حلف المقاومة، برداً وسلاماً، الى القدس المحررة في أقرب الآجال.

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

GEOFOR interviews The Saker: Will Kiev decide on an open armed conflict?

December 05, 2021

Note: in late November I was interviewed by the Russian website Geofor.  Here is the English language translation of this interview.

GEOFOR: Mr. Raevsky, no sooner have the American warships left the Black Sea than the British went in there. Apparently, “unscheduled exercises” of NATO ships and Ukrainian watercraft are about to commence, again. Again, near the maritime borders of the Russian Federation. Moreover, a couple of American military boats were delivered to Odessa (although, politely speaking, not quite new). As a military analyst with experience in intelligence, how do you assess the degree of threats from this incessant demonstration of force in terms of the possibility of provoking a military conflict with far-reaching consequences?

Andrei Raevsky: From a military point of view, I assess the degree of direct threat from these forces as zero. Firstly, any ship that enters the waters of the Black Sea can be instantly destroyed by a number of Russian coastal defense systems and/or the Russian Aerospace Forces. So, the degree of threat from them is zero. Secondly, they are equipped with  rather outdated Tomahawk missiles. They have a relatively low flight speed, and they do not pose a great threat to Russian air defense systems.

On the other hand, there is an indirect threat from these NATO ships. And very serious. They are nudging Ukrainians in the same way as in 2008 they nudged Saakashvili in Georgia. They give Kiev a mistaken feeling being under an umbrella, under the protection of the US Navy or, say, NATO bomber planes, which is a complete deception and delusion, but this is the real danger.

GEOFOR: Does Russia have the ability to protect itself if it comes to launching Tomahawks? And how is this perceived in Pentagon and NATO headquarters? In the same context: what, in your opinion, is behind the decision of the Russian president to reject the Ministry of Defense’s offer to hold its unscheduled exercises on the Black Sea simultaneously with the United States and NATO? How will it be perceived in the Washington military-political establishment – as confidence in the capabilities of the Russian military to respond adequately to provocative actions or, as a desire not to take a potentially dangerous situation to the extreme?

Andrei Raevsky: Yes, of course, Russia can defend itself. As I just said, these are relatively slow and outdated cruise missiles, which do not pose a great danger to the multi-layered integrated air defense of the Crimea and the South of Russia and the entire Southern Military District of the Russian Federation. You can remember what the US missile strike on Syria was like, where most of them [Tomahawks] were shot down not by the Russian contingent in Syria – this is very important to emphasize – but by the Syrians with their relatively simpler air defense system.

Thus. I don’t think that all these Tomahawks threaten Russia very much.

I will also add that if the United States and NATO wanted to hit Russia with Tomahawks, it would be better for them to get out of the Black Sea and go to the Mediterranean Sea and move away to the maximum distance – just so as not to be instantly sunk.

Putin’s decision not to conduct simultaneous maneuvers in the Black Sea, in my opinion, is absolutely reasonable.

In Washington, this is likely to make an impression, in a certain sense, of a staged scene: Shoigu says: “I am ready”,  and Putin takes such a peacemaking, pacifying step. This is what in the West is called “Good cop – bad cop.” In fact, they are, of course, united in terms of developing principles and strategies for protecting Russia from possible aggression.

GEOFOR: And now a little more about Ukraine and the situation around it. Russian analysts find many analogies in the situation in Ukraine now and the one that was in Georgia on the eve of August 2008. How would you characterize the factors (internal and external) that could lead to Kiev deciding on an open armed conflict? And what will this lead Ukraine and Europe as a whole to? Who, in the end, may be the beneficiary?

Andrei Raevsky: Yes, the situation is very similar to that. And I would even say that the situation Zelensky is in, is worse than the one Saakashvili was in.

I’m afraid that his rating is such that he really has nothing to lose. The question of whether Kiev will decide on an open armed conflict implies that Kiev has an opportunity to solve something. I doubt it very much. Without getting the “go-ahead” from the “Washington Regional Party Committee” Kiev will not move. Thus, if Kiev moves, it will be, at least, in the presence of a “tacit” – not even consent – order, when the West gives the command “Attack!”. Few people in the West care that Kiev will then “get its ass kicked.”

But the most important thing in this context is to remember that the goal is not to “liberate ORDLO from Muscovites” (Note: “ORLDO” is the current official Ukie legal term for the LDNR) or “restore democracy and territorial integrity of Ukraine” and so on. The goal is to force Russia to openly invade Ukraine and start a war: so that it cannot be denied, in order to totally sink energy projects between Russia and the EU and make the EU completely dependent, first of all, on American shale gas and other energy carriers. And to achieve these goals, Ukraine does not need any victory at all – it’s enough to just say: “Here, these evil Putin’s “green men” have seized even more territory! Oh, how bad they are!”

We can say that from a military point of view, Russia will win very quickly. But from a political point of view, it will be a victory for the United States.

GEOFOR: Do you consider it possible that, with NATO’s symbolic support in the Black Sea, as well as the presence of various American, British and other instructors on land, Kiev will decide on a military provocation not in the Donbas, but in the Black Sea? After all, it is known that everyone is waiting for the Ukrainian military offensive in the east of the country, and why, for example, Zelensky not follow the path of his predecessor Poroshenko, who sent boats to break through the Kerch Strait, and, creating a conflict situation, disrupted the already agreed meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin? Moreover, the second meeting of the Russian and American presidents this year is now being prepared…

Andrei Raevsky: Yes, such a provocation in the Black Sea is very likely. It is enough to recall their provocation when Ukrainian boats tried to pass into the Kerch Strait. And it was without any presence of Americans. Of course, this is possible. I think this is not only possible, but it will definitely happen.

And if there really are plans to arrange a meeting between Biden and Putin, then Ukrainians have very little time left. In December, Americans convene their “Democracy Forum”, then there are holidays…

If there is this meeting – and we don’t know if there will be one – there could be a lot of things that could undermine it. For supporters of the war – both in the United States and in Ukraine – this is a very important moment that cannot be missed.

GEOFOR: And in conclusion. If it is likely that the ongoing Russian-American consultations (the arrival of the Deputy Secretary of State and the director of the CIA in Moscow, for example) and the dialogue between the two leaders, which, hopefully, will take place, will lead to at least some stabilization, both around the Ukrainian problem and in bilateral relations. What problems in this regard could you highlight?

Andrei Raevsky: These consultations are very important, and this is a very desirable development of the situation because American officials of this level have not come to Moscow twice to present some kind of ultimatum.

To present an ultimatum, you can simply use a consul.

To do this, there is absolutely no need to send the highest representatives of the American authorities to Moscow.

The conversations that took place – whatever they were – were to the point. And they were serious. As long as both sides are talking, at least they are not shooting. And this is very desirable.

And we can only hope that such consultations will continue in the future.

Of course, the Americans are the most dangerous enemy for Russia. This needs to be understood.

This is not a get-together with a “vodka-herring” menu to just shoot the breeze. Neither is this a friendly meeting.

But this is a direct dialogue of those who can really make decisions in a difficult situation and influence the situation.

And in this regard, it is very important.

Therefore, there is no need to fall into the mistake that Americans very often fall into when they say: “We don’t talk to such and such.” We don’t talk to terrorists, we don’t talk to states and “regimes” that we don’t recognize. This is a very big mistake.

You need to talk to everyone, often including the fiercest enemies.


Tension Escalates: US Destroyer Sails through Taiwan Strait

Nov 23, 2021

By Staff, Agencies

An American warship has again sailed through the disputed Taiwan Strait, a move sure to enrage Beijing after repeat warnings over previous transits, which Washington deems “routine” missions to ensure a “free and open” Pacific.

A US guided-missile destroyer made its way through the strait on Tuesday local time, the Navy’s 7th Fleet announced in a statement, saying the move was conducted “in accordance with international law” and “demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The Joe Biden administration has largely carried on ex-President Donald Trump’s regular transits through the strait, with Biden conducting them on a near-monthly basis since taking office in January.

Last month, the Chinese military blasted a joint US-Canadian sail-through as threatening regional peace and stability, in line with reactions to previous missions in the area.

Beijing, for its part, has also invoked the ire of Taipei with its own military exercises in recent months, flying warplanes into what Taiwan considers to be its air defense identification zone, which was criticized as a violation of Taiwanese airspace and an attempt at intimidation.

Though the United States, like most other nations, keeps no formal diplomatic relationship with Taipei, Washington has long been a close partner to the island, with the Biden administration following in Trump’s footsteps by approving “defensive” weapons sales to Taiwan earlier this year, including hundreds of millions in artillery gear and precision guidance kits for munitions.

The Living Dead Pax Americana

September 30, 2021

The Living Dead Pax Americana

Perth in Australia will be a forward base for nuclear-powered and nuclear weapon-carrying American subs.

by Pepe Escobar – posted with the author’s permission and cross-posted widely. 

Pax Americana was always a minor character in a zombie apocalypse flick.

Pax Americana is actually The Eternal Return of the Living Dead. “Pax” was never in order; War Inc. rules. The end of WWII led directly to the Cold War. The unipolar moment was an arc from the First Gulf War to the bombing of Yugoslavia. 9/11 launched the Global War on Terror (GWOT), renamed Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) by Team Obama. We are now entering Cold War 2.0 against China.

What former CIA analyst Ray McGovern memorably describes as the MICIMATT (military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-academia-think tank complex) never did “Pax”. They do War, in unison, like The Knights Who Say “Ni!” – minus the comic flair.

Take this Knight for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the heart of the establishment matrix. CFR specializes in Kissingerian Divide and Rule. Now that applies, in spades, to the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Knights overwhelmingly state the obvious: “Chinese power must be contained”. They sell the current, serial imperial debacle as “grand strategic moves”, in a quirky, lost in translation mixed salad of Gramsci and Lampedusa: a “new order” (engineered by the Empire) is being born via “everything must change so everything may remain the same” – privileging the Empire.

Other Knights even propose the ludicrous notion that the current POTUS, an actual zombie remote-controlled by a teleprompter, is capable of conceiving a “foreign policy for the middle class” , as if the MICIMATT would ever approve a scheme to “advance prosperity in the free world as a whole”. The “free world” has just been stunned by the “prosperity” offered to Afghanistan during 20 “bombing to democracy” years.

And then there are British Knights, who at least should have known their Monty Python by heart, carping about illiberalism and the “regimes created by Xi and Putin” , which will “crumble” and be succeeded by “anarchy and new despotisms.” Same old Anglo haughtiness mixed with piercing ignorance. Oh, those Asiatic “tyrannies” threatening the White Man’s civilizational drive.

We all live in an Aussie submarine

Now it’s all about AUKUS – actually U SUK A. Until recently, only the P5 – the five permanent UNSC members – possessed nuclear-powered submarines. India joined the club, and later rather than sooner, Australia.

Every major player knows the next American war will not be about remote Pacific islands. Taiwan, though, is a completely different ball game. U SUK A is mostly about Taiwan.

U SUK A was finalized at the G7 summit in Carbis Bay last June. That was an Anglo Boys Club affair, discussed exclusively by the Biden-BoJo-Morrison troika – and duly excluding Japan, even as Tokyo all but drew a samurai sword yelling its intent of supporting Taiwan.

The problem is there have been no leaks of the fine print contained in U SUK A. Only spin. Yet it’s already clear that U SUK A goes way beyond building Aussie nuclear subs. Canberra will also have access to Tomahawks, Hornets and even become part of American hypersonic missile research.

But then, in a slip, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton gave away the game: U SUK A will allow the upgrading of “the infrastructure in Perth, that will be necessary for the operation of these submarines. I expect we will see…lease arrangements or greater joint operations between our navies in the future.”

Translation: Perth will be a forward base for nuclear-powered and nuclear weapon-carrying American subs.

Why U SUK A now? Let’s go back to WWII – and the same old cartoonish geopolitics of benign Anglo maritime island powers pitted against the “evil” Eurasian heartland.

WWII was the solution to simultaneously prevent Germany from dominating the Atlantic and Japan from dominating the Asia-Pacific (by the way, that’s the correct terminology: “Indo-Pacific” is Empire-speak).

Germany-Japan was all about an alliance that would be predominant across the Eurasian heartland. Now, the Empire of Chaos is being slowly but surely expelled from the Eurasian heartland – this time by the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Those with technical knowledge across the Beltway – not, not the Knights – are aware the US is not a match for hypersonic Russia. Yet the Americans believe they can make life unbearable for Beijing. The US establishment will allow China to control the Western Pacific over their dead bodies. Enter the instrumentalization of Australia.

A big question is what will be the new role of the Five Eyes. With U SUK A, the Anglo Club has already stepped beyond mere intel sharing and spying on communications. This is a military pact between Three Eyes.

Depending on the composition of its new government, Germany could become a Sixth Eye – yet in a subordinate role. With U SUK A, NATO as a whole, fresh from its spectacular Afghan debacle, becomes little else than a semi-relevant vassal. This is all about maritime power.

U SUK A in effect is a Quad Plus, with India and Japan, the Fifth Columnist Asians, only allowed to play the role of, once again, mere vassals.

War before 2040

Not surprisingly, the first, concise technical and strategic assessment of U SUK A is Russian, written by Alexander Timokhin and published in Vzglyad, closely linked to GRU intelligence. Here, provided by John Helmer, is an essential English translation.

The key points:

– the extra subs will create a serious, additional threat; “the problem of combating enemy submarine forces will become quite acute for China.”

– Geographically, “Australia can completely block the connection between China and the Indian Ocean.”

– Australia will meet the deadlines only if it lays “more submarines a year than the Americans.”

– It is “possible to quickly make Australia a country with a submarine fleet.” These “gigantic investments and sharp political turns are not carried out just like that. The hegemony of the Anglo-Saxons in the world is seriously shaken.”

And that brings us to the inevitable conclusion: “It is worth recognizing that the world is on the verge of war.”

Even before the Vzglyad strategic assessment, I had submitted the ravings of yet another Beltway Knight – widely praised as a sage – to an old school, dissident Deep State intel analyst. His assessment was merciless.

He wrote me, “the geopolitical logic is that the China-Russia alliance was determined to be against US interests, much as the Mao-Stalin alliance. SEATO and NATO are being replicated. The treaty between England, Australia and the US is part of the Pacific rebalancing, or a new SEATO. NATO is part of the offset against Russia-China in Europe.”

On what might lie ahead, he noted that “the coup against the US, Australia, England and NATO would be a French-Russian alliance to break up NATO and isolate Germany. Russia has unsuccessfully approached Germany, and now may approach France. The loss of France would effectively end NATO.”

He sees U SUK A all dressed up with nowhere to go: “As it stands now, China is in command of the Pacific and Australia and Britain mean nothing. Russia can overrun NATO in two weeks, our adversaries’ hypersonic missiles can destroy all NATO airfields within five to ten minutes and the battle for Europe would be over.”

He’s adamant that “the US cannot project power into the Pacific. Chinese submarine missiles would finish off the US fleet in short order. The Australian submarine issue is really irrelevant; if the CIA had an organization that was worth anything they would know that our adversaries already can spot and destroy our nuclear submarines without the slightest difficulty. The entire US Navy is obsolete and defenseless against Russian missiles.”

And it gets worse – at least for the cheerleading Knights: “The F-35 is obsolete. The Air Force is largely worthless, as Russian and Chinese missiles can finish off their airfields or aircraft carriers in short order. The woke US Army is more worthless than the French Army with their Maginot Line. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are paid less than 200k a year, and are second or third rate talent. The US is a sinking ship.”

Assuming that’s really the case, the – nuclear – war against China in the Western Pacific, projected in the Beltway to happen in the second half of the 2030s, would be over even before it started. Taiwan may even be part of China by then – an offshoot of Beijing always proposing economic exchanges to all, while Washington always “proposes” war.

One thing though will never change: The Knights Who Say “Ni!” singin’ the praise of Pax Americana to the utter indifference of the unruly plebs.

Under the Disguise of ‘Humanitarian Work,’ US Kicks off Central Partnership Station Exercise in Lebanon

September 22, 2021 

Under the Disguise of ‘Humanitarian Work,’ US Kicks off Central Partnership Station Exercise in Lebanon

By Staff, Agencies

Under the disguise of “building partner capacity” in the region and “doing some humanitarian work,” the United States is conducting its first-ever Central Partnership Station mission in Lebanon amid growing calls for the expulsion of all American forces from regional countries in the aftermath of the disastrous US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The US 5th Fleet’s spokesman Cmdr. Tim Hawkins claimed that the Central Partnership Station exercise in Lebanon “would grow the Lebanese Armed Forces’ ability to conduct missions like mine countermeasures, naval construction and disaster-related public health activities, as well as deliver goods like baby formula to the Mediterranean country.”

“The fact that [US Naval Forces Central Command] is conducting its first-ever Central Partnership Station mission is a testament to the success and the effectiveness of those previously established efforts in other regions,” Hawkins claimed in comments to Defense News on Tuesday.

About 40 US Navy and military personnel will participate in the exercise, which is set to last through September 29 and aims to foster a closer military-to-military relationship between the US and Lebanese armed forces.

Although the US mission in Afghanistan is over, and in the midst of growing calls for the complete US withdrawal from the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria, over its destabilizing activities, as a result of which the US faces record anti-American sentiments in the region, Hawkins alleged that such military-to-military engagements would result in “improved regional security and stability.”

“If we see that we had the effect desired and that it was beneficial to furthering the military-to-military relationship with the Lebanese Armed Forces, then we will certainly look to do more in the region with our partners along these lines,” he added.

The 5th Fleet’s area of operations reportedly encompasses nearly 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.

The area includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab-al-Mandeb and is comprised of 21 countries.

The United States has imposed sanctions against Lebanon to pressure the country over the influence Hezbollah resistance movement wields in its political and military sectors. In the 2000s, the Lebanese resistance group fought off two major wars against the Zionist occupation regime, Washington’s most treasured ally in the region.

Sitrep : Here comes China : Military Drills, Extortion, the ‘Religious Freedom Balkanization’ Plan for China

August 07, 2021

Sitrep : Here comes China : Military Drills, Extortion, the ‘Religious Freedom Balkanization’ Plan for China

The main news of the day is the Biden administration’s effort to sell 40 155mm M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer artillery systems, 1,698 precision guidance kits for munitions, spares, training, ground stations and upgrades for previous generation of howitzers, to the island of Taiwan in a deal worth up to $750 million. China is, to say the least, livid.

Military Drills: US ‘large-scale’ military exercises cannot scare China, Russia

The US has begun two “large-scale” military exercises. The first is a joint Indo-Pacific military exercise led by the US Indo-Pacific Command with the participation of Japan, Australia and the UK. The other is the “Large-Scale Exercise 2021” held by US Navy around the world and is reportedly the largest naval exercise since 1981. A US military scholar told media that it is intended to demonstrate to China and Russia that US naval forces can simultaneously meet challenges in the Black Sea, Eastern Mediterranean, South China Sea and East China Sea.

More Military Drills:  Chinese, Russian militaries to hold joint drill in NW China

YINCHUAN — A joint military exercise by the Chinese and Russian armies will be held from Aug. 9 to 13 at a training base of the People’s Liberation Army in northwest China’s Ningxia Hui autonomous region.

The exercise, named ZAPAD/INTERACTION-2021, is the first joint military exercise held inside China since the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the exercise’s leading group.

And more, an ongoing military drill from Friday to Tuesday

A large section of waters from Hainan to the Paracels has been cordoned off by China’s maritime authorities from Friday

While we are right at the end of the Tokyo Olympics, the force is strong for canceling or otherwise interfering with the upcoming Beijing 2022 Games.

This is what Radio Free Asia (and people should recognize that for what it is), reports, and this is clearly within the human rights wars.

2021-07-27 — The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday said it had to “remain neutral” on global political issues in response to a request from the U.S. Congressional commission that asked it to postpone and relocate the 2022 Beijing Winter Games if China does not end its human rights abuses against Muslim Uyghurs in its Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

The reply came in response to a letter that the bipartisan U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) sent to IOC president Thomas Bach. The commission made the letter public on July 23.”

Despite these efforts to do something to China, anything, before the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese are keeping cool:  “Off the field, observers noted that the success of the Tokyo Olympics under huge pressure is a desperately needed inspiration for the world. Tokyo’s experience in carrying out a major international event under such circumstances sets an example for next year’s Beijing Winter Olympics, experts said. ”

Let’s look at the latest Xinjiang information:

And then during the time of writing, the news broke.  Part of the Xinjiang story, is pure hard blackmail:  the US-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) blackmailed, bribed, and extorted a Chinese company and its US cooperative partner for $300,000 by threatening to hype up fabricated “forced labor” issues related to China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The complete Xinjian story of forced labor, a genocide (with no dead people), prison camps et al is falling apart like an overripe watermelon that just smashed itself falling off the watermelon buggy and is not fit for eating any longer.

While we are on the topic of extortion, Alex Rubinstein did some undercover work.

He says:  “Using a friend’s company on my application and adopting a fake persona, I attended a three-day summit on religious freedom where leading figures in the Democratic Party including Nancy Pelosi, USAID Director Samantha Power and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken joined up with anti-gay Evangelicals, a slew of shady NGOs and multiple bonafide cults to ratchet up pressure against China.”:

From this ‘Davos of Religious Freedom’, we see top democrats, top republicans, the Christian far right, some clear cults, NGO’s with no history, and just about every anti-China organization in the world right across the spectrum.  The objective?  Balkanization under the guise of religious freedom as the new front in the new China cold war.  This report is incredibly detailed and would need some time to read through.  It is however recommended to understand the vast array of forces aligned in the new cold war against China.

And the 2nd part is out, titled: A Cult, a Fake Gov’t & US-funded NGOs Hold Panels Panning China

And this is how medical philanthropy US to China actually operates:

So, what is happening in China?  Simply said, strong strong words. 

The recent visit of US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, despite the usual initial nice and welcoming words apparently did not go down well.  “A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that the talks were in-depth, frank, and beneficial to the relationship between the two countries.”

Days later the story changed materially.   “We will no longer make unilateral efforts to maintain the public opinion atmosphere in China-US relations. Using illegal sanctions as a pretext, the US, aided by Canada, has effectively kidnapped a high-ranking Chinese corporate official, Meng Wanzhou, and is still threatening her with possible imprisonment. No other nation behaves so brazenly in defiance of international norms.

“The basis for such changes is that Chinese society has become fed up with the bossy US and we hold no more illusion that China and the US would substantially improve ties in the foreseeable future. The Chinese public strongly supports the government to safeguard national dignity in its ties with the US and firmly push back the various provocations from the US. In the face of the malicious China containment and confrontational policy adopted by the two recent US administrations, the Chinese people are willing to form a united front, together bear the consequences of not yielding to the US, and win for the country’s future through struggles.

In other words, Chinese society would unconditionally support whatever tough counterattacks the Chinese government would launch in the face of US-initiated conflicts in all directions toward China. The US should abandon forever the idea of changing China’s system and policies through sanctions, containment, and intimidation. We hope US allies in the Asia-Pacific, especially Japan and Australia, can weigh the situation. They should not act as accomplices of the US’ China containment policy and place themselves at the forefront of confronting China, or they are betting their own future.”

And this is the message that is still prevailing in China and internal to her people.

Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou was in the dock in a Canadian court this last week but at the time of writing, I have not seen any reports.

Further detail:

Far more world leaders visit China than America: “If leadership diplomacy was an Olympic sport, Beijing beats Washington to the gold medal.” In 2019, 79 foreign leaders visited China, while only 27 called on the United States. More world leaders have visited China than the United States in every year since 2013. Many US allies visited China more often than the United States, including those of South Korea, Germany, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and New Zealand. Read full article →

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said ties with Southeast Asia are a priority for China and called for “multilateralism with Asian characteristics”, as the country seeks to counter US moves in the region.“China has always made Asean its priority for diplomacy in the region … and firmly supports Asean’s central role in regional cooperation,” Wang said, according to the Chinese foreign ministry readout on Thursday. “Both sides should conduct frequent communication on all levels, and continue with mutual understanding and support for each other’s core interests.” Read full article $→ 

US drops visa fraud charge against Chinese researcher accused of hiding ties to Chinese military. Days before trial was expected to start, US prosecutors ask judge to dismiss charge against cancer researcher Tang Juan. Federal agents said Tang allegedly sought refuge at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco after they interviewed her at her home. Read full article $→ 

The US dropped cases against five Chinese researchers accused of hiding ties to the Chinese military. The China Initiative has raised concern about racial profiling of Asians, however, and led to calls for investigation into the DOJ’s conduct. Judges had already dismissed parts of two cases after it was revealed FBI agents hadn’t properly informed them of their rights against self-incrimination. Read full article $→

U.S.-listed Chinese firms must disclose Chinese government interference risks. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Monday that Chinese companies listed on U.S. markets must disclose the risks of the Chinese government interfering in their business as part of their reporting obligations. Read full article $→

For the first time since 2013, China funded no overseas coal projects in H1. Last month, ICBC announced that it would begin to phase out coal project financing, and pulled out of a major $3 billion coal power plant project in Zimbabwe. Then Beijing  published fresh guidelines encouraging overseas enterprises to invest in greener projects and dump environmentally risky ones. Read full article →

Selections from Godfree Roberts’ extensive weekly newsletter: Here Comes China. You can get it here:

There are some delicious long reads in this week’s newsletter from Martin Jacques, Martin Chorzempa, Chris Lau, Rick Sterling, Yiwen Lu and Hubert Horan

Further selections and editorial and geopolitical commentary by Amarynth.

ضرب ناقلة النفط الإسرائيلية.. خارج الحسابات

السبت6 اب

الميادين نت

عمرو علان

حتى لو حاول العدو الإسرائيلي الاعتماد على البحرية الأميركية من أجل حماية سفنه التي تَعبُر تلك المنطقة، فلن يكون هذا بالأمر الهيّن، ناهيك بالتكلفة المادية التي ستترتب على إجراءات كهذه.

استُهدِفت يوم الجمعة، 30 تموز/يوليو ناقلة النفط “م/ت ميرسير ستريت”

في محاولة لقراءة ما بين السطور فيما ورد في الصحافة الإسرائيلية، يمكن أن نستنبط عدم توقُّع العدو الصهيوني الهجومَ الأخير على ناقلة النفط الإسرائيلية، من خلال ثلاثة أوجه على الأقل، بحيث تَمَثَّل الوجه الأول بالتِّقْنية المستخدمة، وتجسّد الهدف الثاني في نتيجة الهجوم. أمّا الهدف الثالث والأخير فيكمن في ساحة الاستهداف. ولعل في هذه الأوجه الثلاثة ما يضيف إلى هذه الضربة أبعاداً مغايرة لسابقاتها استهدفت سفناً إسرائيلية، كما سيأتي. وسيتبنى هذا المقال، جدلاً، الرواية الإسرائيلية الأميركية البريطانية، والتي مفادها أن إيران هي التي تقف وراء هذه الضربة الهجومية.

استُهدِفت يوم الجمعة، 30 تموز/يوليو ناقلة النفط “م/ت ميرسير ستريت” ي أثناء مرورها في بحر عُمان خلال رحلتها من تنزانيا إلى الإمارات، وكانت ترفع العَلَم الليبيري، إلاّ أن الشركة التي تتولّى تشغيلها هي شركة “مجموعة زودياك”، المسجلة في مدينة لندن، والتي تعود ملكيتها إلى الملياردير الإسرائيلي إيال عوفر. ونُفِّذ الاستهداف المزدوج بواسطة طائرتين مسيَّرتين انتحاريتين، بحيث ضربت المُسيَّرة الأولى جسم الناقلة، الأمر الذي أدّى إلى أضرار مادية في الناقلة. وبعد الضربة الأولى، جاءت المُسيَّرة الثانية لتضرب برج المراقبة، على نحو مباشر، مُوْقِعَةً قتيلين من طاقم الناقلة.

من هنا، نجد أن الوجه الأول، المتمثّل بتِقْنية الاستهداف، جاء مغايراً، إذ كان ضد هدف بحري متحرِك، وليس ثابتاً. ويلزم المُسيَّرات حتى تتمكن من إصابة هدف، من مثل هذه الشاكلة، أن تكون قابلة للتحكم فيها وتوجيهها بعد إطلاقها، على عكس الأهداف الثابتة التي يكفي معها برمجة المُسيَّرة بإحداثيات الهدف مسبَّقاً، الأمر الذي يكشف امتلاك إيران تِقْنيات تحكُّم في المُسيَّرات وتوجيهٍ لها، وهو لم يكن لدى الكيان الصهيوني والإدارة الأميركية علمٌ به، كما صرّحا عقب الهجوم. وقالا إنهما الآن يعكفان على تحليل طبيعة هذه التقنية المستخدَمة. فهذا الاستهداف الأخير يُرجِّح، إلى حدّ كبير، صحةَ التصريحات الإيرانية بشأن قدرات طهران البحرية الفعلية، بحيث دار جدال بشأن هذه القضية عقب مناورات “الرسول الأعظم 15″، في كانون الثاني/يناير من هذا العام، فجادل تايلر روجوواي، على سبيل المثال، في مقال نُشر في 17 كانون الثاني/يناير 2021، في أن وصول صواريخ “أرض بحر” الإيرانية إلى مسافة 1000 ميل في عمق المحيط الهندي، وسقوطها على مسافة لا تتجاوز 100 ميل من الأسطول البحري لحاملة الطائرات الأميركية “يو أس أس نيميتز” ( USS Nimitz)، لا يتعدى عن كونه استعراضاً إيرانياً فارغ المضمون، بحيث إن مجرد إيصال مقذوف بحري إلى مسافة قريبة من هدف بحري متحرّك، لا يعني مطلقاً امتلاك القدرة الفعلية على إصابة أهداف من هذه الطبيعة، نتيجةً للتعقيدات المرتبطة بتقنيات التحكم والتوجيه.

أمّا الوجه الثاني، فيتمثّل بتعمُّد إسقاط قتلى في الهجوم، أو على أقل تقدير عدم الاكتراث لسقوط قتلى. ففي هذا الهجوم الأخير، استهدفت المُسيَّرة الثانية، على نحو مباشِر، برجَ المراقبة في الناقلة، بينما نجد أن الهجمات المماثلة السابقة كانت تتجنب بصورة واضحة إسقاط قتلى. وفي هذا رفعٌ لمستوى التحدي، ومؤشّر على كون إيران مستعدة للتصعيد إذا أقدم العدو على ردة انتقامية، وهو ما يعني محاولة لتغيير قواعد الاشتباك الراهنة.

ويبقى الوجه الثالث والمتمثّل بساحة الاستهداف، والذي لعلّه مربطَ الفرس في هذه الحادثة، ولاسيما إذا ما قُرِن بالوجه الثاني الآنف الذكر، بحيث يمكن البناء عليه في السياسة. فإدخال بحر عُمان ضمن ساحات الاشتباك كان مفاجئاً للعدو الصهيوني، على نحو واضح، وجغرافياً. فإنّ هذه الساحة تقع ضمن مجال إيران الحيوي، ويسهل عليها العمل فيها، على عكس العدو الصهيوني الذي سيكون من الصعب عليه مواجهة هجمات كهذه بالمُسيَّرات، في تلك المنطقة البحرية. وحتى لو حاول العدو الإسرائيلي الاعتماد على البحرية الأميركية من أجل حماية سفنه التي تَعبُر تلك المنطقة، فلن يكون هذا بالأمر الهيّن، ناهيك بالتكلفة المادية التي ستترتب على إجراءات كهذه، الأمر الذي سيرفع قيمة النقل البحري بصورة ملموسة على الكيان الصهيوني. وتدرك إيران حيوية ممرات النقل البحري هذه للكيان الصهيوني، كون 90% من البضائع المنقولة بحراً له تمرُّ في هذه الممرات المائية، التي باتت ضمن دائرة الاستهداف.

يقرأ البعض هذا الهجوم الأخير في خانة الردّ على العدوان الإسرائيلي، الذي استهدف مطار الضبعة السوري، والذي قالت تقارير غير مؤكَّدة إنه “سقط فيه شهداء لإيران وحزب الله”. وتستنتج هذه القراءة أن إيران قرّرت بدء الرد على الاعتداءات الصهيونية المتكررة على مواقع إيرانية في سوريا، لكن من دون أن تُحمِّل الدولة السورية عبء تبعات هذا الرد، كونه جاء من خارج الأراضي السورية.

لكن، علاوة على هذه القراءة، يمكن وضع هذا الهجوم في سياقٍ أوسع. فلقد تعرّضت في الماضي ناقلات نفط إيرانية لاعتداءات إسرائيلية في أثناء نقلها مشتقات نفطيةً إلى سوريا، الأمر الذي حدا بالبحرية الروسية إلى أن تشرع في تأمين خط هذه الناقلات. أمّا اليوم فأعلن حزب الله، غيرَ مرة، وجودَ أفكار جدية لحل أزمة الوقود اللبنانية، عبر استيراده من إيران، الأمر الذي أثار موجة قلق ورفض لدى الصهيوني ظهرت في معظم التصريحات الصادرة من داخل الكيان. وهنا، إذا أخذنا في الاعتبار طُولَ الفترة الزمنية نسبياً بين الاعتداء على مطار الضبعة السوري والهجومِ على ناقلة النفط الإسرائيلية – علماً بأن توجيه ضربة بحرية كهذه لا يلزمه كثيرٌ من الإعداد، الأمر الذي قد يُطيل مدة الردّ – علاوة على عدم تأكيد سقوط شهداء في العدوان على مطار الضبعة، يصير مستساغاً وضع هذه الهجمة في دائرة الردود على الاعتداءات الإسرائيلية السابقة على ناقلات النفط الإيرانية، في محاولة لتعديل قواعد الاشتباك، وعلى نحو يؤمِّن حماية للسفن الإيرانية المتّجهة إلى سوريا، وأيضاً لتلك المحتمل أن تتوجه إلى لبنان في المستقبل القريب، ولاسيّما أن الروسي لن يكون مهتماً بتقديم الحماية لأي سفن إيرانية متّجهة إلى لبنان.

هذا الهجوم هو الأول من نوعه، من حيث كيفيته ومكانه وطبيعته، التي أسقطت قتلى. وإذا كانت إيران تسعى لإعادة رسم قواعد الاشتباك وتوسيعها، كما جادل هذا المقال، فربما يلزمها القيام بعمليات نوعية أخرى تكون على شاكلة الهجوم الأخير، ولاسيما أن العدو الصهيوني وداعميه الأميركيين لن يسلّموا بقواعد الاشتباك الجديدة بعد أول حادثة، بحيث صرَّحا بأنهما يدرسان الحادثة وكيفية الرد عليها. لكنّ الحاكم في تحديد مآلات هذه الجولة يبقى عدم استعداد كل من الإسرائيلي والأميركي للذهاب إلى صِدام عسكري مباشِر مع إيران ومحور المقاومة. وهذا يُضيِّق، إلى حدّ بعيد، الخيارات المتاحة للصهيوأميركي، بينما يظل لدى محور المقاومة عددٌ من الخطوات التكتيكية التصعيدية، والتي يمكن استخدامها وقت الحاجة.

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Air Mission: April Overview

Air Mission: April Overview

May 01, 2021

By Nat South for the Saker Blog

From time to time, I gather and compile basic statistics on US / NATO/ Swedish flights principally near to Russia, (articles posted on my blog). The idea is to get a rough snapshot of the activity, location and types of aircraft that carry out intelligence-gathering missions, broadly known as Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance, (ISR), as well as those in direct support of those missions. It is a thankless and time-consuming task, but hopefully it can offer a semblance of having a wider perspective on issues, other than just riding on emotional off-one events, without providing any context.

The US and NATO (and Sweden) routinely send out a variety of aircraft dedicated for ISR missions along or in proximity to Russia. These missions are tasked with monitoring the military status quo, namely the movement of units and in particular the deployment of equipment and ships. Given the ongoing Ukraine-Russia tensions, the data collecting took on another aspect in the last month, namely what kind of activity and response could be seen. Well, the answer is that the skies got a little more crowded in April.

Going through the figures for April shows a marked overall increase in ISR the Black Sea region compared to other regions. Not surprising considering the military build-up in Crimea and in southern Russia, in response to the re-deployment of Ukrainian military hardware and units to Eastern Ukraine.

All the data obtained is done through trawling through social media accounts who track via ADS-B, Mode-S and MLAT sites, to identify the type of aircraft, location, and nationality of the aircraft. Invariably, there are some flights that are missed, because only those that had transponders active in each location were logged. For example, there were certainly more flights off the Norway, Barents Sea and in the GIUK region than I managed to record.

Some points to retain:

Intensification of flights in the Black Sea, (Crimea, Southern Russia FIR). Although the use of unmanned RQ-4B Global Hawks over Eastern Ukraine and Northern Georgia has been going on for a long time, (years in fact), there was an uptick of activities, (Graph 1) in April. Given their 250km reported ‘visual’ range, they can scan a wide swath of land. Unusually, on several occasions in April, two RQ-4B operated at the same time in the region. Prior to April, most of the ISR flight paths were fairly regular in character, this wasn’t the case several times during April, in particular the RQ-4B flights.

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Being unmanned, this is the only US / NATO aircraft that carries out missions over territorial airspace over Ukraine and Georgia. For a short time, a RQ-4B was brought in from the Middle East to carry air missions. Many of these flights did not have habitual flight track of prior ISR missions in certain areas, (Eastern Ukraine, Crimean coastline, and Georgia), often orbiting or making multiple tracking back and forth passes.

A comparison is provided below between the number of flights between February, March, and April. The figures for March or February were not different to previous months, so, a big change in frequency. To sum up, the redeployment of Ukrainian military units did not bring about changes in air missions but the Russian redeployments to the area certainly influenced US and NATO military brass in despatching aircraft to the region.

Another noticeable increase in flights is that of the US Navy P-8 Poseidon flights along the northern Black Sea coastline region. Flights were almost a daily occurrence and this unprecedented as far I know. However, this is partially consistent with the fact that the Russian Navy units started a series of naval exercises in the Black Sea over April, (some of the media reports below to get a gist of the frequency and intensity).

It has to be noted that the flights take place in international airspace, but some of the flights tracked closely the 12 nautical miles limit. As with the other ISR aircraft (Rivet Joint, EP3 Aries), the flight route taken were fairly consistent, going along the whole coast of Crimea, flying all the way down to the sea area adjoining Sochi and towards Novorossiysk, (which I refer to as Southern Russia FIR), and then returning back along the coastline.

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8-9 April

12-13 April

14 April

19-23 April

27-30 April

Boeing P-8s contrary to social media pundits aren’t just submarine hunters, (“must be looking for a Kilo” fare), but in addition to their anti-submarine warfare (ASW), P-8s have anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction roles. In other words, maritime domain intelligence.

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Another interesting aspect that is noteworthy is the increase in intelligence-gathering flights along the Russian Far East, (Kamchatka and Anadyr). This ties in with press releases and videos on interceptions by the RuAF, where Russian Air Force MiG-31 high-altitude fighter intercepted an USAF RC-135W Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft off the coast of Kamchatka.

Often, several type of ISR missions were taking place simultaneously in the Black Sea region, (usually a combination of P-8 and Rivet Joint, or P-8 with Global Hawks). This means that several types of intelligence gathering are carried out, (maritime, ELINT, etc…). This situation

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The above graph shows the ISR missions carried out in April was done daily around many regions from the Baltic to the Barents Sea.

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The overall snapshot for April across many regions is shown in the above graph, the Baltic region, being the second busiest region overall.

So, how do these figures compare to those for March?

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The Black Sea region in April swapped places with the Baltic region, to lead by a wide margin. To note that I have split the Black Sea region into different sectors, to distinguish the location of flights. The Black Sea region is the overall total, which includes flights that did not enter Crimean, Russian FIRs but were in support of other ISR missions. Generally, this does not include Turkish flights in the southern Black Sea sector, as such the only flights that are counted are those support of other flights monitoring Russian military activities. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to confirm whether a RQ-4B flight went to Eastern Ukraine or Georgia, so it may be expected that the figures that I have are lower than in reality.

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The main types of aircraft that carried out various intelligence-gathering missions in the Black Sea region are listed above. While some (the E-3 AWACS, Peace Eagle) stayed over land, their location of activity suggested support for overall intelligence-gathering operations linked to Russian military activities and units.

No surprise to say that it is the US military that flies the most often, with the UK in second place.

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Lastly, as an interesting comparison with my dataset, here is a graph showing the numbers of air flights along Russian borders, (including the unmanned aircraft) along with interceptions carried out since the beginning of the year, as regularly reported by the Russian Ministry of Defence. As you can surmise, a lot more aerial activity takes place in proximity to Russia generally, (Not just ISR flights but air tankers, U2s and maybe bomber flights are possibly included in the figures). These figures probably also include other non-NATO aircraft elsewhere near to Russia.

Getting this level of official data from NATO and NORAD would be a rarity and as such, it is nearly impossible to compare data for Russian military flights, as the data is rather opaque compared that of the Russian MoD. Add in a level of obfuscation, as this quote shows the typical situation:
““NORAD responded to more Russian military flights off the coast of Alaska than we’ve seen in any year since the end of the Cold War” General Glen Van Herck’s briefing to the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2020.

  1. Define highest as per the yearly data (which is not available)
  2. Why reference it to the end of the Cold War? I find it rather misleading to use the basic value as “the end of the Cold War”, whether for aircraft and submarines.

The average NORAD interceptions in the USA/ Canada ADIZ, since 2013 is between 10-16 (roughly), PER YEAR. According to the Russian MoD, there were 10 interceptions for the whole of April alone.


The northern part of the Black Sea region has come under close scrutiny for April regarding US/NATO air missions, and it does not show any signs of decreasing in frequency as yet, (as I write this, there are 2 Global Hawks operating in the region). Yet other areas continue to be monitored as attentively as in previous months on a daily basis.

It highlights the continued need for intelligence by Washington and Brussels on all aspects of Russian military activities and units.

NB: For anyone interested in the naval sitreps side of activities, I have produced a series of them for March and April: concerning the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Red Sea. I regularly update the sitreps with a Twitter thread of additional events.

Why It Is Not Advised


Why It Is Not Advised

April 11, 2021

By Andrei Martyanov, exclusively for the Saker Blog

For the US Navy ships to enter the Black Sea and hope to survive in case of the, God forbids, any kind of a conflict with Russia—yes, you read it right—is a fantasy, or, to be even more precise—an unscientific fiction. This group, let alone a single US destroyer of the Arleigh Burke-class (these are the most active types in the US Navy), which enter the Black Sea periodically to “demonstrate flag” and US/NATO presence in this crucial body of water are aware of the fact that the Black Sea for all intents and purposes is Russia’s lake. Everyone can recall a wide-spread (spread most likely by some overly zealous, but not very literate, Russian “patriots”) rumor about DDG-75 USS Donald Cook having her electronics “burned” by a couple of intrepid Russian Su-24s in April of 2014, who allegedly forced this American ship to fast return to Constanta, where, allegedly some of her crew expressed a desire to abandon the ship. NYT and other US media, not without justification, called those rumors to be Russian “propaganda”. They have a point.

Reality of the events with USS Donald Cook had very little to do with Su-24s or some magical ECM. The reason for cutting American ship’s voyage short was the fact, as Russian President Vladimir Putin himself stressed not for once, that Donald Cook was detected, tracked and, when the necessity arose, was locked on by the radar of both K-300P Bastion and Bal coastal anti-shipping cruise missile complexes located on the shores of Crimea, which, no doubt, made a lot of noise, literally, when Donald Cook’s passive radiation detectors started to signal that the ship was locked on by one of the most fearsome weapon in Russia’s inventory—a launcher of the P-800 Oniks (Onyx) missiles. This long-range M=2.5 missile is what makes the first line of defense of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet so deadly, because it is precisely a type of weaponry designed to over-saturate air defense of US Aegis Combat Control System and Spy-1 radar-equipped ships. American naval officers are well-educated in terms of missile salvos and capabilities, including saturation thresholds, of their on-board Air Defense systems and know that 4+ P-800 Oniks or 8+ subsonic X-35 missile salvo, in the active ECM environment in the Black Sea are impossible to defend against such a salvo. Russia can repeat these and even much larger salvos many times over, with a desirable frequency and density.

But these are just the capabilities of a single 15th Independent Costal Defense Missile-Artillery Brigade in Sevastopol, which can deploy its launchers anywhere in Crimea, including in highly defended, by both aviation of the Black Sea Fleet and Air Defense forces in Crimea, locations which conceal the launch. Russia’s ISR systems provide updates for both operational situation and distribute targeting for any receiver on Russian side in real time. Of course, one has to always keep in mind that two squadrons (24+ combat aircraft) of SU-27SM/SU-30SM are also located in Crimea and each of those aircraft can carry a variety of strike weapons, including X-31A M=3.5 anti-shipping missile and X-31P anti-radiation missile, plus Aviation Regiment in Simferopol, which deploys 22 Su-24Ms is being reequipped with SU-30SMs. Incidentally, these venerable warriors (Su-24Ms) also carry X-31As, which, when counted realistically, provide for the first salvo (multiply by 0.5) consisting of 30 to 40 missiles by aviation wing alone, add here missiles from coastal complexes and we are looking at 60 to 70 missiles in the first salvo, at least. That’s enough to sink several Carrier Battle Groups even with their air wings airborne and all Aegis-Spy-1 systems working properly.

Of course, no one should forget that Black Sea Fleet also happened to have ships and those, even considering a cruiser, couple of frigates and SSKs attached to Mediterranean Squadron around Syria, still pack a massive anti-shipping punch by 3M54 missiles of Kalibr family which accelerate to M=2.9 on terminal and effectively are not interceptible in the salvo of 2+. All those missiles named here are AI-driven in salvo and posses a very high resistance to jamming (some of them can jam enemy’s sensors on their own). And this is not all, of course. Black Sea Fleet is supported by the forces of Southern Military Distric, parh of which it is, and if these news above were bad for any combination of US/NATO naval forces entering the Black Sea, this is where this news becomes even more depressing for Pentagon. 4th Air Force and Air Defense Army which is part of this district deployes those pesky MiG-31Ks (they originally were based in the District and continue to fly missions from there since 2017) armed with Kinzhal Kh-47M2 hypersonic missiles, whose M=10+ and violent maneuvering and incredible range of 2000 kilometers make them impervious to any air defense technology the United States has today and in the nearest future (7-10 years at least). It is even doubtful that these missiles are actually detectable. These combat aircraft are capable to sink not just anything in the Black Sea but also in the Eastern Mediterranean, without even crossing the shore line of Russia’s Krasnodar Region or Crimes, obviously Russia doesn’t say where each moment those aircraft are based. Who knows where? Well, US intel may know but it is a classic case of a good deterrence. In this case, the probability of hitting any target in Black Sea for Kinzhal is driven not by the ability of the target to respond but by the probability of the missile itself being in full combat order.

So, as you can see, there is plenty of subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic goodness to spread around by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet alone and competent people in Pentagon know this. That is why the appearance of those two US destroyers in the Black Sea is, literally, for the appearance primarily and for trying to collect some intel for what seems today a diminishing probability of confrontation in Donbass. I often write that many people in the US, and I am talking about policy-makers, cannot grasp the scale of the America’s trailing Russia in fire power in all domains. It is not just quantitative; it is qualitative and the gap only continues to widen. But I warned about it for years, didn’t I?


South Front

The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier and its Carrier Strike Group have entered the Mediterranean Sea.

This makes it, currently, the closest aircraft carrier to the Middle East. It has been quite a while since the US hasn’t had one of its super warships deployed in or near the Persian Gulf.

Starting in the spring of 2019, the U.S. Navy has been publicly ordered to keep a near-constant presence in the region, as if this were something new.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that a global posture review is taking place, and it would be reconsidered whether a carrier was even needed in the region. Still, the Mediterranean Sea is quite nearby, and the removal of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) from the Persian Gulf was a political move.

It’s Lloyd Austin’s dream to have a CSG in every hotspot in the world, but resources don’t allow for that.

Still, the US has the amphibious warship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) in the Persian Gulf with a detachment of F-35B fighter jets, so it still has a hefty presence. Further, it is without a doubt possible for the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its CSG to operate without issue in the Middle East, be it Syria, Iraq or elsewhere, from its current place of deployment.

In Syria itself, as the primary US competitor, alongside Iran, Russian forces are preparing to set up a permanent military base near the city of Palmyra in the Badia Desert. This is not yet confirmed, but according to satellite photos it has a helipad as a runway.

This base is likely planned to support the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) further in their push against both ISIS and Turkish proxies.

On March 9th, the SAA carried out heavy shelling on the positions of Turkish proxies in the village of Jabal Al-Zawiya, in southern Idlib.

Separately, Pro-Turkey opposition factions reportedly thwarted an attempt by the SAA to advance on the Qalaat front in the northern countryside of Latakia. Attacks are frequently repelled in Twitter posts, but nowhere else, demonstrating that the propaganda wing of the Turkish proxies is quite active.

In the days leading up to this, the SAA has been preparing for a large push in the province of Aleppo.

This is likely an attempt to form a uniform front, which can exert equal pressure along the frontline and thin the enemy’s forces to provide opportunity for a breach.

Turkey and its proxies are sure to offer heavy resistance to any advance by the SAA, but so far it appears that this may not be enough.

Foolish FONOPs

Foolish FONOPs

December 01, 2020

By Nat South for the Saker Blog

A new tiny twist in U.S. naval activities, albeit one that raises some eyebrows happened last week due to its location. The latest in “freedom of navigation operation”, aka ‘FONOP’ carried out by the U.S. Navy took place in Peter the Great Bay (Zaliv Petra Velikogo), near to Vladivostok in the Far East of Russia. The fact that Washington cherrypicked the location might be at first sight, insignificant and also petty considering the context, but there’s more to this given the timing and ongoing pinprick but widely applied pressure applied to Russia on many fronts these days, (military, political, trade and diplomatic).

The legal background and historical details for the Peter the Great Bay incident has been explained in the article “Driving Russia further into China’s arms”, which lays out the legal issues and interpretations of baselines, internal, territorial and historic waters.

The bottom line is that naval vessels do have a right to navigate within other countries’ 12 nautical mile territorial limit, if it is under the rule of “innocent passage”, (see Article 19 of UNCLOS), by transiting in a “continuous and expeditious” manner that is not “prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal state”. There are specific activities that are not permitted including surveillance and flying shipborne aircraft.

Naval and air incursions have been going on for years and also back in the Soviet era, famously highlighted by the Black Sea ‘bumping’ incidents in 1986 and 1988, (also due to UNCLOS). The Black Sea remains one of the vital pressure points to this day, yet the Far East not so until December 2018, when the first post-Cold War FONOP in the area was carried out by the USS ‘McCampbell’.

The notion and implementation of FONOPs, started in 1979, are uniquely peculiar to the U.S. and symptomatic of Washington’s persistent mindset of “needing to poke their noses” where and when it suits them to prove all too often counterproductive point. Following the Peter the Great Bay incident, the U.S. Pacific Fleet stated that the “United States will never bow in intimidation or be coerced into accepting illegitimate maritime claims, such as those made by the Russian Federation.”

The concept of FONOPs also stands sharply at odds with Washington’s stance on UNCLOS, as the Senate has not ratified it. Nevertheless, it is worth pointing out that Washington has accepted UNCLOS as binding international law. Back in 2015, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joe Dunford, stated: “We undermine our leverage by not signing up to the same rule book by which we are asking other countries to accept.” Except that the U.S. would be bound by all the articles of UNCLOS and not stay in a position of cherry-picking just a selection that suits its narrow set of interests. Quite telling, the reasons as to why the U.S. shouldn’t ratify UNCLOS, as laid out in this Heritage Foundation document, namely the threat of lawsuits and being made accountable and abide by the decisions of the International Seabed Authority. This excerpt from another article speaks volumes about the mindset at work: “The U.S. can best protect its rights by maintaining a strong U.S. Navy, not by acceding to the convention.”

Cynically, the very fact that the U.S. hasn’t ratified it, means that Washington interprets UNCLOS with its usual ‘exceptionalism’ outlook and takes it upon itself to be the world’s leading proponent of upholding “freedom of navigation”; this only goes one way and it is principally the U.S. Navy that applies this concept, usually in the form of a destroyer. Typically, the style of Washington is to send in cruise missile carrying “505 feet of American fighting steel” over differences of legal views over claims over sea areas and reiterate pedantic enforcement of “innocent passage” in selected localities. The U.S. Coast Guard has been involved in FONOPs too, but in a very restricted capacity and more recently (and unusually so) one in the South China Sea.

The rationale for FONOPs is based uniquely on Washington’s interpretation of “excessive claims” made by other states that it finds unacceptable, “to protest other states’ excessive maritime claims and encourage those states to harmonize their claims with U.S. interpretations of international law” (Odell 2019) as well as maintain customary international law. There are two aspects to note, a. “innocent passage” and “excessive maritime claims” regarding territorial waters, since there is a fine line between these two statements. I am not at this stage going to go into the specifics and gritty details of the issues of either customary international law or UNCLOS, other to say it is complex and invariably there are conflicting views over interpretation. The crux of the legal matter is that the U.S. maintains the belief that if challenges to customary international law are not carried out, then this over time ultimately legitimatise them by setting a negative precedent. If this multiplied over and over worldwide, this ultimately erodes U.S. supremacy, (for an insight in this – read the top paragraph of page 3 of this document). In short, it sounds really immature and pathetic to nit-pick over where the baseline for Zaliv Petra Velikogo, yet this precisely what Washington did last week, because do not doing so erodes their maritime rights.

There are several elements that underpin a FONOP, legal, diplomatic and ultimately the operational naval stage. Originally, ‘operational’ FONOPs were designed as the next step to supplement diplomatic efforts to challenge excessive claims or when these efforts have proven fruitless. An example of this, the USCG did a FONOP 35 years ago in the North Western Passage, much to the annoyance of Canada.

As Odell stated, “the United States does not conduct FONOPs vis-à-vis all excessive maritime claims everywhere in the world every year”. The pattern, tempo and nature of ‘operational’ FONOPs has principally focussed on those countries who happen not to agree with the “rules-based liberal international order”, a concept exclusively promoted by Washington to uphold its global primacy. While other countries who take umbrage at what they perceive as excessive claims, they go to the ITLOS to try to settle the matter, the U.S. sends in the navy. What does that say?

The mantra often trotted out on these occasions by the U.S. Navy is that it “operates in close coordination with allies and partners who share our commitment to uphold a free and open international order that promotes security and prosperity.” In other words, only security and prosperity that serves first and foremost U.S. interests, namely via a rolled out globalised Monroe Doctrine. The FONOP concept has morphed into something wider -” to uphold security and prosperity interests”, not quite the same category as “challenging excessive maritime claims” or conducting “innocent passage” transits.

It is interesting to see that there is barely lukewarm support for FONOPs from those “allies and partners”, despite Washington’s active encouragement. In fact, they are not on the same page in terms of carrying out U.S. style FONOPs, especially in the South China Sea. Since a few states have competing interests and claims as well as strong trade relations themselves in the region, as such they aren’t keen on jumping on that particular kind of boat so to speak, (South Korea and Japan for instance are a case in point). U.S. FONOPs have been frequently carried out in the South China Sea for over a decade. Quite tellingly, Chinese PLA(N) ships have themselves sailed through U.S. waters back in 2015 to and from the Bering Sea and Washington merely twitched back then.

So the much vaunted short lived unilateral acts conducted by the U.S. can also be flipped, as the saying goes, it takes two to tango, so there is little that the U.S. could do if the PLA(N) (again) or let’s say even the Russian Navy decides to apply Article 19 “innocent passage” transit off continental U.S, the Aleutian Islands, Puerto Rico or Hawaii.

Another important pressure point is the Arctic, specifically the Northern Sea Route (NSR). Last year, I outlined the situation and background to FONOPs in the Arctic, as a result of the French Navy’s BSAH ‘Rhône’ transit from Norway to Canada via the NSR. Of interest to note that the Rhône’s voyage was essentially a very low key FONOP in nature, but without resorting to either using a combat ship or making public statements to the effect. Furthermore, I mentioned at the time that U.S. has started to take incremental steps towards a fully-fledged FONOP in the Arctic region.

As I write this, the U.S. had indeed taken further steps this year to carry out limited operations in the Barents Sea. In May, 4 US Navy ships and a UK frigate went to the Barents Sea, the first time in the area since the 1980s. On this occasion the Northern Fleet was notified, however this was not the case in September. In total, the US Navy went to the Barents: Sea 3 times in 2020 alone (2). The latest reason? – “This Barents Sea mission marks a significant milestone, clearly demonstrating our dynamic ability to operate anywhere in the world,” said Cmdr. John D. John, Ross’ commanding officer.

The U.S. isn’t actually trying to preserve UNCLOS for all, but in reality, trying to reimpose and expand a US‐led regional status quo, whether in the Barents or the South China Sea. It can thus be considered that FONOPs are little more than a barely concealed tool for keeping and deploying the U.S. Navy Fleets globally to obscure far flung places in order to make their combat capability posturing and presence known. If the U.S. had wanted to prove a point strictly regarding the principle of freedom of navigation, it would have been more tactful to send non-combat ships instead like the French apparently did. To certain extent, this can be summed up by the words of the commandant of the USCG, Adm Schultz, who said. “I think in the Arctic right now, if we did something with the Navy, it’s more about just showing our ability to project capability up there.”

Certainly, the U.S. Navy has a knack in conducting FONOPs near to the Russian Navy Fleets’ homeports or significant Chinese military installations. The Peter the Great Bay incident is no exception, given Vladivostok and the nearby new mega shipyard, ‘Bolshoy Kamen’, which just happens to be carrying out nuclear submarine upgrades. Hence the tone set recently by Moscow in response to the incident may be an indicator: “Such muscle flexing is apparently meant to exacerbate the situation, which once again proves that at the current historical stage the United States is opting to use force methods to advocate own foreign policy interests.”

So foolishly, the U.S. rattles the FONOP cage once more, with lofty pronouncements made once more, and more bloviating about freedom and security. What does this actually achieve other than more pushbacks and toughening of stances from Russia in this instance?

FONOPs are not a constructive diplomatic tool or even add value since they trigger more tensions and are also a cost to the military, (paradoxically even the U.S. ‘rules-based partners’ such as Canada and Australia see it that way too). Although, the aim of FONOPs is to shape the U.S.’s desired strategic effects and improve partnerships, they ultimately fail to do this is any consistent or meaningful manner of asserting maritime rights. Instead, FONOPs are seen as a crude instrument of U.S. military primacy, designed to send an antagonistic signal of power projection.

  1. Odell, Rachel, How Strategic Norm-Shaping Undergirds America’s Command of the Commons (August 31, 2019). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2019-23,
  2. May: Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers USS Donald Cook, Porter and Roosevelt + HMS Kent; September: USS Ross + HMS Sutherland + HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl. October: USS Ross again).


The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan cruising around somewhere near China



As South Front reported last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dedicated a major address to insulting and threatening China. However, his extravagant rhetoric and threats to further increase US pressure on the Asian giant have a major flaw. The deployment of US military assets to menace China’s frontier zones are already at historically high levels, leaving very little room for additional pressure short of an amphibious landing or missile strike.

As reported by the South China Morning Post last week, US military aviation flights around its maritime borders in July were the highest on record. According to the Beijing-based South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), during the week ending 25 July US air force E-8C surveillance planes were spotted closer than 100 nautical miles to the southeast coast of Guangdong province on four separate occasions.

“At the moment the US military is sending three to five reconnaissance aircraft each day to the South China Sea,” SCSPI said. “In the first half of 2020 – with much higher frequency, closer distance and more variety of missions – the US aerial reconnaissance in the South China Sea has entered a new phase.”

US planes have ventured “unusually close” to Chinese airspace several times since April. The closest flight to date was in May when a US navy P-8A Poseidon – designed for anti-submarine warfare – almost reached the 12 nautical mile limit near Hainan Island, on China’s southernmost tip.

SCSPI said its statistics showed flights by US planes approaching up to 50 to 60 nautical miles off the mainland were “frequent”. A record of 50 sorties – flying from US land bases located in the vicinity of the South China Sea – was set in the first three weeks of July, coinciding with separate Chinese and US military exercises in the area.

On peak days, SCSPI said it had counted as many as eight US aircraft, including the aircraft types P-8A EP-3E, RC-135W and KC-135. One such peak occurred on July 3, as aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz, along with their respective strike groups, entered the region.

The two aircraft carrier strike groups conducted drills in the area on two separate occasions, commencing on July 4 and July 17. In between the exercises, the US State Department issued a statement describing China’s claim to the disputed waterway as “unlawful” and adding that Washington supported the other Southeast Asian claimants.

The resource-rich South China Sea is one of the world’s busiest waterways, with around a third of international shipping passing through it. China claims most of the area while Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia all have overlapping claims.

The range of US military planes involved in the South China Sea missions was an indication of their purpose, according to SCSPI director Hu Bo. These included anti-submarine patrol, communication signal collection, and radar frequency detection, among others.

With the People’s Liberation Army also exercising in the Paracel Islands earlier this month, the US intelligence aircraft were probably collecting data on the PLA electronics, Hu said, adding. “The increasing US military operations have become the largest risk and potential source of conflicts.”

These operations have led to a number of incidents, and occasionally crises, in the past. The most serious occurred in April 2001 when a US navy EP-3E Aries II flew to within 59 nautical miles of Hainan Island and collided with an intercepting PLA navy J-8II fighter.

The Chinese pilot died and the US plane was forced to land on Hainan, giving then-president George W. Bush the first diplomatic crisis of his tenure.

In 2014, 2015 and 2017, the Pentagon repeatedly accused Chinese fighters of nearly causing accidents by making “unsafe” interception manoeuvres with US spy planes near the Chinese coast in the South China Sea, East China Sea and the Yellow Sea.

Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping said the PLA could be expected to send fighters out to intercept and expel US aircraft on every close reconnaissance mission.

“The PLA has developed a standard operating protocol on these US planes approaching Chinese airspace. With more frequent US provocations, the PLA will have more frequent interceptions too,” he said.

“It poses a challenge to pilots’ skills and training, but the PLA has also become quite proficient to avoid possible accidents or collisions.” LINK

The record number of military flights was accompanied by a large spike in navy deployments as well, with three aircraft carriers cruising around the South China Sea during June and July. Prior to the extended excursions of the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz mentioned above, the USS Theodore Roosevelt had wound up its latest trouble-plagued deployment to the north-western Pacific, much of which was spent at Guam as the crew desperately tried to contain an outbreak of the Coronavirus, with a short patrol towards China’s maritime border zone.

While the US’ increasingly hostile and hysterical tone against China has done nothing to alter the latter’s implacable resolve to pursue and defend their maritime claims and vital national interests, the US its placing its allies and partners in the region in an increasingly difficult position, South Korea in particular but also Japan and others, as they try to maintain amicable relations with China whilst hosting substantial US military forces whose distant commanders seem determined to pick a fight with China.


US Armed Forces Continue To Test China’s Patience, Prowling Around Disputed Maritime Borders


US Armed Forces Continue To Test China’s Patience, Prowling Around Disputed Maritime Borders

The Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs unit has announced that two B-1B Lancer bombers assigned to the 37th Bomb Squadron have been deployed to Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, along with approximately 170 support personnel, as part of a Bomber Task Force deployment.

According to the statement, the move is instended to demonstrate the US Indo-Pacific Command’s continuing commitment to allies and partners in the region.

The Stripes reported that before arriving on Guam, the bombers conducted intercept training over the Sea of Japan with F-15J fighter jets belonging to the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force. LINK

B-1s were last deployed to Guam in May when they flew in from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. The duration of the current deployment has not been announced.

US Armed Forces Continue To Test China’s Patience, Prowling Around Disputed Maritime Borders

Against the backdrop of worsening relations between the US and China, the nuclear Ronald Reagan and Nimitz aircraft carrier groups as well as other US Navy vessels have been conducting exercises in and around the South China Sea over the last few weeks. The exercises and manoeuvres have also involved a strategic long range bomber B-52H Stratofortress. LINK

Earlier this week, the US officially rejected Chinese claims to a number of territories in the South China Sea.

The South China Morning Post reports that China’s Ambassador to the Philippines has urged Southeast Asian countries to be on guard against US attempts to “sabotage” the region’s stability by inserting itself into the South China Sea disputes.

He urged Southeast Asian nations to “properly resolve disputes” with China and “prevent them from being capitalised on by the US to sabotage stability in the Asia-Pacific region”.

The comments followed a shift in Washington’s posture on China’s claims in the area reflected in an op-ed in which his American counterpart, Sung Kim, declared Washington’s support for Manila in the “West Philippines Sea”.

This is the term Manila uses to refer to the portion of the South China Sea it claims as part of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and includes areas claimed by Beijing. The use of the term by a US state department official is rare and has been interpreted as being deliberately provocative in Beijing. LINK

Last week, one of the US Navy’s MQ-4C Triton high altitude long endurance (HALE) reconnaissance drones was spotted entering the South China Sea on Wednesday – the latest addition to an increasingly long list of US spy planes plying the waterway in recent months. LINK

In addition to flight operations by the US Navy carrier USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan and other US military aircraft, the destroyer USS Ralph Johnson carried out a still-more-provocative act on July 14, a so-called “freedom of navigation operation” inside the waters surrounding the Spratly Islands, which are claimed by China as part of its territory, in a deliberate attempt to repudiate and challenge Chinese claims. Chinese media outlet stated in response to the latest manoeuvres:

“These incidents, taking place thousands of miles away from the US and on China’s doorstep, have again proven that the US is the real pusher of militarization in the South China Sea, and China is forced to take countermeasures to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Global Times wrote, citing an unnamed Chinese military expert.

“If US military provocations in the South China Sea persist, China could be left with no choice but to conduct more drills and deploy more warships and warplanes in the South China Sea, to the extent of setting up a possible air defence identification zone (ADIZ).”

Sputnik reports that while the two US Navy carrier strike groups drilled in the South China Sea last week, Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) jets practiced anti-ship attacks nearby.

The US aircraft carriers have been carrying out drills in waters near China for several weeks, including in the Philippine Sea and South China Sea. Last week, the Chinese military decided to stage their own drills, holding live-fire exercises in which PLAAF jets rehearsed how they would carry out strikes against enemy warships in the region.

The drills involved JH-7A and J-16B naval strike aircraft, which practiced firing anti-ship missiles, the Global Times reported. The military exercises were held on 15 and 16 July. LINK


U.S. targets Iran-Venezuela trade, tanker market suffers a blow


BY: Ebrahim Fallahi

TEHRAN – The Trump administration is considering new sanctions on reportedly 50 oil tankers for working with Venezuela, in order to prevent the trade between Iran and the Latin American country.

Earlier this week, a U.S. official told Bloomberg that the sanctions were intended to avoid a U.S. military confrontation with other countries (indicating Iran and Venezuela).

Despite their anti-conflict claims, the Trump administration is, in fact, trying to block Iran’s support for Venezuelan people who are struggling with severe fuel shortages amid their country’s economic stagnation.

Furthermore, the U.S. actions are impacting the whole global market which is already wrestling with the pandemic.

This weekend, Reuters reported that the global tanker market is getting worried over the news of the U.S. sanctions and many market analysts believe that if the U.S. goes through A bruised ego

As mentioned earlier, the reason for the U.S.’s recent decision could be seen as getting back to Iran who had recently landed a heavy hit on the Trump Administration’s ego by sending five fuel loaded vessels to Venezuela before the eyes of the U.S navy.

The vessels delivered a total of 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and other oil products to the fuel-hungry Venezuelans in May.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned four shipping companies and their crude tankers for continuing to facilitate oil trading with Venezuela.

The tension between Washington and Tehran has been escalating since 2018 when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.


The Latin American country used to have the cheapest gasoline in the world and supplied fuel with subsidized prices for two decades, however, following the U.S. sanctions almost all of the country’s refineries shut down due to the lack of equipment and prepare maintenance.

The Venezuelan government has been forced to implement a rationing system and raise gasoline prices in recent months, while the gas stations in the country are currently under military control.

As a result, a black market is formed in which every liter of gasoline is sold for at least two dollars, and people have to wait for hours in long lines to get gas; people are the main victims of U.S.’s disruptive actions.

Washington is targeting people by blocking foreign revenues that could be used to import humanitarian goods, including food and medicine, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Jorge Ariazza said on Tuesday.

Iran-Venezuela trade

Iran has repeatedly reported that it is Iran and Venezuela’s legal right to be able to trade with each other and no country can impede the economic transactions between the two countries which are both sanctioned by the U.S.

Iran also complained to the United Nations and summoned the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, who represents U.S. interests in the Islamic Republic, over possible measures Washington could take against the Iranian tankers.

Later on, in response to the U.S threats for military actions, Iran’s foreign ministry said that any U.S. attempt to halt trade with Venezuela would face an immediate and decisive response.

Regarding the recent sanctions, if the Islamic Republic decides to continue trade with Venezuela it would use vessels belonging to its own shipping line most of which are already sanctioned by the U.S., so the new sanctions, despite their negative impacts on Venezuela’s global trade, would not have a huge effect on the trade between Iran and its Latin American ally.


Senior US Military Official Apologizes for Role in Trump Photo Op: I Shouldn’t Have Been Thereh

Senior US Military Official Apologizes for Role in Trump Photo Op: I Shouldn’t Have Been There

By Staff, NYT

The United States’ top military official apologized on Thursday for taking part in US President Donald Trump’s walk across Lafayette Square for a photo op after the authorities used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the area of peaceful protesters.

“I should not have been there,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a prerecorded video commencement address to National Defense University.

“My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”

General Milley’s first public remarks since Trump’s photo op, in which federal authorities attacked peaceful protesters so that the president could hold up a Bible in front of St. John’s Church, are certain to anger the White House. Trump has spent the days since the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis taking increasingly tougher stances against the growing movement for change across the country.

Meanwhile, the back-and-forth between Mr. Trump and the Pentagon in recent days is evidence of the deepest civil-military divide since the Vietnam War — except this time, military leaders, after halting steps in the beginning, are positioning themselves firmly with those calling for change.

Relatively, associates of General Milley said he considered resigning, but he decided not to.

On Wednesday, Trump picked another fight with the military, slapping down the Pentagon for considering renaming Army bases named after Confederate officers who fought against the Union in the Civil War.

The Marine Corps has banned display of the Confederate battle flag, and leaders of both the Army and the Navy have in recent days expressed a willingness to move forward with renaming installations.

At the same time, the Senate Armed Services Committee, with bipartisan support, voted to require the Pentagon to strip military bases of Confederate names, setting up a possible election-year clash with the president.

Trump’s walk across Lafayette Square, current and former military leaders said, has started a critical moment of reckoning in the military. General Milley addressed the issue head-on.

“As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from,” General Milley said. He said he had been angry about “the senseless and brutal killing of George Floyd” and repeated his opposition to Trump’s suggestions that federal troops be deployed nationwide to quell protests.

General Milley’s friends said that for the past 10 days, he had agonized about appearing — in the combat fatigues he wears every day to work — behind Trump during the walk, an act that critics said gave a stamp of military approval to the hardline tactics used to clear the protesters.

During his speech on Thursday, Milley, after expressing his disgust over the video of the killing of Floyd, spoke at length about the issue of race, both in the military and in civilian society.

“The protests that have ensued not only speak to his killing, but also to the centuries of injustice toward African-Americans,” he said. “What we are seeing is the long shadow of our original sin in Jamestown 401 years ago, liberated by the Civil War, but not equal in the eyes of the law until 100 years later in 1965.”

He also called on the military to address issues of systemic racism in the armed forces, where 43 percent of the enlisted troops are people of color, but only a tiny handful are in the ranks of senior leadership.

Why Did Russia Refuse Venezuela’s Request but Iran Accepted It?

By Elijah J. Magnier


Tareck El Aissami Iran 257be

Iranian tankers were 2200 km from the US coast when the Iranian-flagged “Fortune”, followed by “Forest”, entered Venezuelan waters, challenging the US embargo and the US’s threats. The Islamic Republic was broadcasting loud and clear a strong message.

The first message was dispatched to the US administration after Gulf and Arab Leaders conveyed a direct message to the Iranian leaders: “Washington is determined to stop the Iranian tankers sailing to Venezuela”. Iran responded to all messages received that “its five tankers will sail to Venezuela and if any of these tankers is intercepted, Iran will respond in the Straits of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman or anywhere else it sees fit.”

“These five tankers – the Clavel, Fortune, Petunia, Forest and Faxul- are only the beginning of the supply to Venezuela. Iran has the right to send any of its tankers anywhere in the world and any US interception will be considered an act of piracy and will trigger a direct response,” said an Iranian decision-maker who revealed the Iranian response to the US administration via message-carriers.

“Iran had decided to avoid the horn of Africa because the plan was for the first tanker to reach the Venezuelan waters on the first day of Eid el-Fitr. The aim was to share an important day of the Islamic Republic’s defiance to the US in its backyard and to break the sanctions imposed on one of Iran’s main allies. It is a message for the “Axis of the Resistance” that Iran will not abandon its friends and allies anywhere in the world whatever the challenges. It is directly confronting the US by imposing a new rule of engagement”, said the source.

Iran shut its ears to all threatening messages from the US menace and instructed its five tankers to go not round the horn of Africa but through the Gulf of Aden via Bab al-Mandab strait, the Suez Canal and Gibraltar into the Atlantic Ocean- where the US has a strong presence and influence. This shortens the distance and it tested the intentions of the American Navy. Simultaneously, Iran informed its allies of its readiness to confront the US if ever an escalation should loom on the horizon so that these allies within the “Axis of the Resistance” are ready for a wider confrontation if needed.

The first Iranian tanker, “Fortune”, reached the Caribbean Sea on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, on Sunday 24th of May, with US Navy ships in the vicinity. The tankers are carrying over 10 million barrels of oil but also Alkylate and spare parts to start repairing any of the eight “out of order” refineries, to enable oil-rich Venezuela to be self-sufficient in the future. The US sanctions on Venezuela had paralyzed Venezuelan refineries and caused gasoline shortages, with the aim of overthrowing the legitimately elected President, Nicolas Maduro.

Iran is challenging the US administration and considers it a victory that its first tanker went through without being intercepted. Tehran considers this challenge to US authority much more significant than the downing of the US’s most sophisticated drone or the bombing of the US’s largest military base in Ayn al-Assad, Iraq.

“Our allies used to wonder why Iran was not confronting the US dominance face-to-face. In fact, we were preparing for this day, and what helps us the most is the US sanctions that force this country to be autonomous on many levels. Today, Iran and its allies are all equipped with strong ideology and motivation to face down US hegemony, with sufficiently advanced military and financial support to stand up to the US and its allies, both in the Middle East and outside the Middle East. Since World War II the US has not faced a challenge to its hegemony similar to the one Iran is representing, particularly when the main enemy, the US, believes that 40 years of sanctions and maximum pressure have crippled Iran’s capabilities. Imam Khamenei informed all our allies that the military and financial support to all of them will increase and will meet all their needs in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The Axis of the Resistance is now ready and united as one front”, said the source.

Venezuela had asked President Vladimir Putin for help. Russia said clearly it was not willing to send ships close to the US coast because that might support President Trump by triggering a false threat which could lead to unifying the national feeling behind him. This is why Putin had to refuse Venezuela’s request. Iran came forward at the first demand and was grateful for the opportunity to challenge the US and to pay back the support Venezuela offered in the year 2008 when Iran was in need and under heavy US sanctions that forbid technology transfer to build or repair its own refineries. Since then, Iran has built 11 refineries (and 3 more in Pars, Anahita and Bahman Geno which are still under construction) and is considered the third most important country in the world to have developed Gas to Liquid technology (GTL).

Since the US assassinated Brigadier General Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad’s airport, Iran has imposed new rules of engagement on the US. Its message consists in the inevitability of a response against its enemies if they hit Iran, and the threat that no attack will go unanswered. It seems Iran is no longer ready to turn the other cheek and has decided to take special measures to respond to any attack against its troops or interests, including in Syria (more details will be provided in another article). Also, Iran and its allies have raised the level of readiness to maximum in case the US administration decides to attack any aspect of Iran’s interests, particularly the flotilla heading to Venezuela.

Iran is not facing the US directly, and is not asking its allies to do the job on its behalf. The “Persian rug weaver” waited through 40 years of sanctions for this day, until its capability and preparations were completed. This means that now Iran will be tougher and harder, and that is manifest in the election of the new parliament and the new government. President Trump has abused and exhausted all the avenues used by President Hassan Rouhani. Therefore, any new negotiation between Iran and the US will be very difficult: there is a total lack of trust in any document signed by the US.

Whether a Republican or a Democrat reaches the White House at the end of 2020, they will be waiting by the phone for many long years if they imagine that Iran will take the initiative and call the US for a meeting. It will now be up to the US to prove to Iran that it is worth holding any negotiations at all.

Iran has planted robust roots in Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. It is now spreading towards Venezuela and will support President Maduro, a strategic rather than ideological ally, to stand against US hegemony and sanctions. More tankers are expected to follow in the very near future. Iran is eager to confront President Trump and tempt him into a confrontation only months before the elections. The Coronavirus mismanagement, the US’s rebuttal of its deals with Russia, Trump’s aggressive position towards China and the World Health Organisation, and his rejection of the Iranian nuclear deal (JCPOA): all these are striking possibilities for a challenge to his re-election. This is why Iran is preparing more surprises for Trump- to show that his Middle Eastern policy is jeopardizing the safety and security of the US and its allies both in Europe and the Middle East, and indeed global world security.

Will Trump really start *two* wars instead of “just” one?

May 20, 2020

Will Trump really start *two* wars instead of “just” one?

[Note: this article was written for the Unz Review]

Amidst the worldwide pandemic induced scare most of us have probably lost track of all the other potential dangers which still threaten international peace and stability.  Allow me to list just a few headlines which, I strongly believe, deserve much more attention than what they got so far.  Here we go:

  • Military Times: “5 Iran tankers sailing to Venezuela amid US pressure tactics
  • Time: “5 Iranian Tankers Head to Venezuela Amid Heightened Tensions Between U.S. and Tehran
  • FoxNews: “Iran tankers sailing to Venezuela in effort to undermine US sanctions

Notice that Military Times speaks of “US pressure tactics”, Time of “tensions” and FoxNews of “efforts to undermined US sanctions”?

I don’t think that this is a coincidence.  Folks in the US military are much more in touch with reality than the flag-waving prostitutes which some people call “reporters” or “journalists”.

Furthermore, the USA has embarked on a new policy to justify its acts of piracy on the high seas with something called Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) all under the pretext of the war on drugs.  To get a better understanding of the context of these developments I asked a specialist of Maritime issues of our community, NatSouth, who replied the following: (stress added)

If a ship does not comply with the request to be boarded, it is usual that the pursuing authorities must gain the permission of the ‘flag’ state prior to boarding, on the high seas and the pursuit has to have started in the coastal state’s jurisdictional waters. The caveat here is that in the Caribbean – Caribbean Regional Maritime Agreement (CRA) – (long name: Agreement Concerning Co-operation in Suppressing Illicit Maritime and Air Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in the Caribbean Area).  So, there is an agreement with participating coastal states on boardings and pursuits in EEZs and the like.  You can find more on the legal aspects of boardings at sea here  and more info on so-called “consensual boardings” here

The anti-drug/ counterterrorism angle allows the U.S. Navy and the USCG to carry out interdictions on the high seas. Important point to note whether this approach will be taken to interdict the tankers, given that Venezuela is a declared narco-State. The absurdity is that Venezuela isn’t the primary transit point in the region, Colombia holds that honour.

Tweet threat

If I could add at this point, the origins are that Venezuela didn’t wish to play ball with Washington anymore, specifically with the DEA back in 2005, squaring the circle of sorts, (or should that be a vicious circle cunningly used by Washington, because who is going to argue with that narrative, aka the war on terror). March: SOUTHCOM’s Adm. Faller: “There will be an increase in US military presence in the hemisphere later this year. This will include an enhanced presence of ships, aircraft, & security forces to reassure our partners… & counter a range of threats to include illicit narco-terrorism.” At the same time, the State dept released this so the US could effectively carry out boardings under the guise of counterterrorism as well.

While the Iranian tankers were in the Mediterranean, Washington released a (delayed) “Global Maritime Sanctions Advisory”, to the maritime industry, setting out guidelines to shipowners and insurers to enable them to avoid the risks of sanctions penalties related to North Korea, Syria and Iran. This also concerns oil exports from Iran, (but doesn’t apply to Iranian flagged ships).  This came after the State Dept gave warning notice to oil companies  to stop operations, including Rosneft (Russia), Reliance (India) and Repsol (Spain).

Then NatSouth concluded the following:

Under international law, every merchant ship must be registered with a flag state, which has jurisdiction over the vessel.  Hence, this time, the use of Iranian-flagged tankers, as a direct response from Washington’s latest version of restating “maximum pressure” campaign on enforcement of Iran and Venezuela sanctions, (back in Feb, literally the same language as in Aug 2019). There was talk back then of a naval embargo, which would a serious notch up in tensions. There was mention of the 4 U.S. warships in the Caribbean, the U.S. Navy tweeted about, but one the Preble went through the Panama Canal into the Pacific).

Pretty clear, isn’t it?

What the USA is doing is substituting itself for the United Nations and it is now openly claiming the right to board any vessel under whatever kind of pious pretext like, say, narco-trafficing, nuclear proliferation, sanctions against so-called “rogue states”, etc.   Clearly, the AngloZionists expect everybody to roll over and take it.

How likely is that?

Let’s look at a few Iranian headlines, all from PressTV:

  • PressTV, May 16th: “Iran’s fuel shipment to Venezuela guaranteed by its missile power
  • PressTV, May 17th: “US aware Iran will respond ‘very strongly’ if Venezuela-bound ships attacked: Analyst
  • PressTV, May 18th: “Iran: US bears responsibility for any foolish act against tankers heading to Venezuela

Three days in a row.  I think that it is fair to assume that the Iranians are trying very hard to convince Uncle Shmuel not to mess with these tankers.  Does anybody seriously believe that the Iranians are bluffing?

Before we look at some of the aspects of this potential crisis, let’s just mention a few things here.

First, the US is acting in total and official illegality.  Just like the bombing of Syria, the threats to Iran, or the US murderous sanctions Uncle Shmuel imposes left and right – the blockade of Venezuela is a) totally illegal and b) an act of war under international law.

Second, if USN commanders think they can operate with impunity only because the Caribbean is far away from Iran, they are kidding themselves.  Yes, Iranian forces cannot defend these tankers so far away from home, nor can they take any action against the USN in the Atlantic-Caribbean theater of naval operations.  But what they can and will do is retaliate against any AngloZionist target in the Middle-East, including any oil/gas tanker.

Third, while Venezuela’s military is tiny and weak compared to the immensely expensive and bloated US military, being immensely expensive and bloated is no guarantee of success.  In fact, and depending on how the Venezuelan leadership perceives its options, there could be some very real risk for the USA in any attempt to interfere with the free passage of these ships.

What do I mean by that?

Did you know that Venezuela had four squadrons of Su-30MKV for a total of 22 aircraft?  Did you know that Venezuela also had an unknown number of Kh-31A supersonic anti-shipping missiles?  And did you know that Venezuela had a number of S-300VM and 9K317M2 Buk-M2E long range and medium range SAMs?

True, that is nowhere near the amount of weapons systems Venezuela would need to withstand a determined US attack, but it is more than enough to create some real headaches for US planners.  Do you remember what the Argentinian Air Force did to the British Navy during the Malvinas war?  Not only did the Argentinians sink two Type 42 guided missile destroyers (the HMS Sheffield and the HMS Coventry) which were providing long-range radar and medium-high altitude missile picket for the British carriers, they also destroyed 2 frigates, 1 landing ship, 1 landing craft, 1 container ship.  Frankly, considering how poorly defended the British carriers were, it is only luck which saved them from destruction (that, and the lack of sufficient number of Super Étendard strike aircraft and Exocet missiles).  I would add here that the British military, having been defeated on many occasions, has learned the painful lessons of their past defeats and does not suffer from the cocky-sure attitude of the US military.  As a result, they were very careful during the war against Argentina and that caution was one of the factors which gave a Britain well-deserved the victory (I mean that in military terms only; in moral terms this was just another imperialist war with all the evil that entails).  Had the Argentinians had a modern air force and enough anti-shipping missiles, the war could have taken a very different turn.

Returning to the topic of Venezuela, war is a much more complex phenomenon than just a struggle of military forces.  In fact, I strongly believe that political factors will remain the single most important determinant factor of most wars, even in the 21st century.  And chances are that the Venezuelans, being the militarily weaker side, will look to political factors to prevail.  Here is one possible scenario among many other possible ones:

Caracas decides that the US seizing/attacking the Iranian tankers constitutes an existential threat to Venezuela because if that action goes unchallenged, then the US will totally “strangle” Venezuela.  Of course, the Venezuelan military cannot take on the immense US military, but what they could do is force a US intervention, say by attacking one/several USN vessel(s).  Such an attack, if even only partially successful, would force the US to retaliate, bringing US forces closer not only to Venezuelan air defenses, but also closer to the Venezuelan people which will see any US retaliation as an illegitimate counter-counter-attack following the fully legitimate Venezuelan counter-attack.

Then there is the problem of defining victory.  In the US political “culture” winning is usually defined as pressing a few buttons to fire off some standoff weapons, kill lots of civilians, and then declare that the “indispensable nation” has “kicked the other guy’s ass”.  The problem with that is the following one: if they other guy is very visibly weaker and has no chance for a military victory of his own, then the best option for him is to declare that “surviving is winning” – meaning that if Maduro stays in power, then Venezuela has won.  How would the USA cope with that kind of narrative?  Keep in mind that Caracas is a city of over two million people which even in peacetime is rather dangerous (courtesy of both regular crime and potential guerilla activities).  Yet, for Maduro to “win” all he has to show is that he controls Caracas.  Keep in mind that even if the US forces succeed in creating some kind of “zone of real democracy” somewhere near the Colombian border, that will mean nothing to Maduro, especially considering the terrain between the border and the capital city (please check out this very high resolution map of Venezuela or this medium resolution one).  As for the notion of a USN landing on the shores of Venezuela, all we need to do is to remember how the immense Hodgepodge of units which were tasked with invading Grenada (including 2 Ranger Battalions, Navy Seals, most of an Airborne Division, etc. for a total of over 7,000 soldiers(!) against a tiny nation which never expected to be invaded (for details, and a good laugh, see here for a full list of participating US forces!) was defeated by the waves of the Caribbean and the few Cuban military engineers who resisted with small-arms fire (eventually, most of the 82AB was calling in to fix this mess).

In other words, if Maduro remains in power in Caracas then, in political terms, Venezuela wins even though it would loose in purely military terms.

This phenomenon is hardly something new, as shown by the following famous quote by Ho Chi Minh: “You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours. But even at those odds, you will lose and I will win.”

By the way, this is exactly the same problem the Empire faces with Iran: as long as the Islamic Republic remains an Islamic Republic it “wins” in any exchange of strikes with the USA and/or Israel.

Still, it is pretty obvious that the US can turn much of Venezuela into a smoking heap of ruins.  That is true (just like what the USA did to Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Serbia and Israel what did to Lebanon in 2006).  But that would hardly constitute a “victory” in any imaginable sense of the word.  Again, in theory, the US might be able to secure a number of landing locations and then send in an intervention force which could try to take key locations in Caracas.  But what would happen after that?  Not only would the hardcore Chavistas trigger a guerilla insurrection which would be impossible to crush (when is the last time the USA prevailed in a counter-insurgency war?), but many Venezuelans would expect the US to pay for reconstruction (and they would be right, according to the rules of international law, “once you take it, you own it” meaning that the USA would become responsible for the socio-economic situation of the country).  Finally, there is always the option of an anti-leadership “decapitating” strike of some kind.  I believe that in purely military terms, the US has the know-how and resources to accomplish this.  I do not believe that this option would secure anything for the USA, instead – it would further destabilize the situation and would trigger some kind of reaction by the Venezuelan military both outside and inside Venezuela.  If anything, the repeated failures of the various coup attempts against Chavez and Maduro prove that the the bulk of the military remains firmly behind the Chavistas (and the failed coup only served to unmask the traitors and replace them anyway!).

The bottom line is this: if Uncle Shmuel decides to seize/attack the Iranian tankers, there is not only a quasi certitude of a war between the US and Iran (or, at the very least, an exchange of strikes), but there is also a non-trivial possibility that Maduro and his government might actually decide to provoke the USA into a war they really can’t win.

Is Trump capable of starting a process which will result in not one, but two wars?

You betcha he is!  A guy who thinks in categories like “my button is bigger than yours” or “super-dooper weapons” obviously understands exactly *nothing* about warfare, while the climate of messianic narcissism prevailing among the US ruling classes gives them a sense of total impunity.

Let’s hope that cooler heads, possibly in the military, will prevail.  The last thing the world needs today is another needless war of choice, never mind two more.

The Saker

US aware Iran will respond ‘very strongly’ if Venezuela-bound ships attacked: Analyst

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)


Sunday, 17 May 2020 5:03 PM

The United States is aware of Iran’s military might and knows from the recent experience of the Islamic Republic’s retaliatory strikes in the wake of the assassination of anti-terror commander Lt. General Qassem Soleimani that Tehran will defend itself “very strongly” if Washington dared to attack its fuel-carrying vessels en route to Venezuela, says an American analyst.

Stephen Lendman, an author and political commentator in Chicago, made the remarks in a phone interview with Press TV on Sunday, while commenting on reports suggesting that Iran is shipping tons of gasoline to Venezuela in defiance of US sanctions on both countries.

Unconfirmed reports and tanker monitoring groups said at least five Iranian-flagged tankers are transporting fuel to Venezuela through the Atlantic Ocean despite US sanctions targeting both Tehran and Caracas.

Iran has intentionally hoisted its own flag over the huge tankers and is shipping large consignments of gasoline to Venezuela even though the US could try to intercept the shipments and seize the tankers.

The US Navy is said to have deployed its USS Detroit (LCS-7), USS Lassen (DDG-82), USS Preble (DDG-88), and USS Farragut (DDG-99) to the Caribbean along with its patrol aircraft Boeing P8-Poseidon for possible encounter with the Iranian vessels.

This comes as Iran has the upper hand thanks to its missile power, which was showed off to the US when retaliatory missile attacks by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in January pounded the Ain al-Assad Airbase in Iraq, which accommodated American troops.

Following is the full transcription of Lendman’s interview with Press TV website:

Reportedly Iran is shipping gasoline to Venezuela. Venezuela’s oil industry and refining capacity has been greatly eroded because of US sanctions that have deprived the country of needed revenues.Same thingis happening in Iran, of course, and to other nations that the US has waged sanctions war on.

Iran and Venezuela have cooperative relations. Both countries have cooperative relations with many other countries. The US is the belligerent, not Iran, not Venezuela. Those countries threaten nobody. They are at war with nobody. Their economic ties are perfectly legal. The US sanctions are perfectly illegal. There was nothing legal about US sanctions unilaterally imposed on any country. I’ve said this many times and written it. The only authority to impose sanctions on any nations comes from the Security Council, not from any one nation against another, and they are no exception to that law.

So US sanctions are illegal. Economic relations between Iran and Venezuela are entirely legal. They can ship anything; either country can ship any products to the other country. They could do the same thing to any other countries. This is what international commerce is all about, perfectly legal and acceptable. What will the US do? Well, nobody can predict exactly what it might do.

The last time the US acted with hostility against Iran by assassinating General Soleimani in January, Iran responded very harshly to the US. The US knows that Iran is not a weak power. It can defend itself. If attacked, it certainly could defend itself very strongly. If the vessel was seized, well maybe Iran will seize the US vessel. So, Iran can certainly respond and it will respond to any illegal actions the US takes against its vessel so on the high seas or any other illegal actions that cause harm to the country. The US is aware of that.

Will it interdict the Iranian vessels? Apparently five of them are on the way to Venezuela with gasoline, maybe more to come after this. Iran has sent technicians to Venezuela to help restore its refining capacity. China has done the same thing. Technicians for both countries are working in Venezuela, helping to restore the refineries and this will happen; they’re trading with Venezuela. I don’t think the US would dare attack China but you never know, because there are lunatics in Washington and the actions of lunatics can never be predicted.

But one thing that people with the least or a little sanity want you to know that if the US conducts a hostile act against Iran, Iran will respond appropriately in kind. And it will happen, probably pretty quickly. My guess is the ships will arrive at the destination but I certainly can’t say that with assuredness, because again, nobody could predict what the US is doing. And what it’s doing already? Waging wars against multiple countries, hot wars, and by other means sanctions, state terrorism, things like this.

A nation that acts this way against other nations might end up doing anything either willfully or by accident, so nobody knows. But I wrote about the shipment of gasoline for Miranda, Venezuela. I’ll follow this issue. If there are any developments I write more about it. I hope the vessels will arrive without incident and more to follow, and maybe over time, a little bit of normality will come to both countries because hopefully, the world community at one point will no longer put up with US aggression. That’s the only way to solve this problem.

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

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