Great unsaid in US election: Love for ‘forever war’ is what cost Democrats

Sunday, 20 November 2022 8:22 AM  [ Last Update: Sunday, 20 November 2022 8:22 AM ]

A line of voters stretches outside the building as early voting begins for the midterm elections at the Citizens Service Center in Columbus, Georgia, US, October 17, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

by Ramin Mazaheri

It is an American rite of passage to realize that the Democratic Party never achieves what they claim to want to achieve.

Some Americans achieve this realization at 13, whereas the truly insufferable – because they lie about the past and are forced to deflect from those lies with aggressive self-righteousness – can persist in this self-harming delusion even past 63. 

Losing control of the House of Representatives means the election was a major loss. Democrats are spinning the idea that “We could have lost worse” actually represents a positive outcome, but only committed Democrats are able to delude themselves into thinking that such pathetic logic is actually believed by the average person.

Democrats might also lose the Senate, but it’s already a done deal: the United States will be stuck in two years of gridlock, with each party voting down each other’s legislation. An America badly in repair will have only have bipartisan agreement on the usual: increasing military spending. Republicans now have the ability to introduce and discuss legislation that Democrats greatly fear, such as the handling of the coronavirus, the anti-Trump efforts of the FBI, the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, etc. 

It’s true that the sitting party’s president almost always loses Congressional seats in the midterm election, but what really cost the Democrats was their commitment to the American Dream of “forever war”.

The Pentagon just announced that they will be in Ukraine for “as long as it takes” and unveiled a new command center in Germany to help train and equip Ukraine’s military. Goodbye Afghanistan, but hello Ukraine.

What cost the Democrats on election day is the failure of the economy, and while Americans might have passively stood for another two years of inequality, poor wages, and precariousness (what’s 2 more on top of 40?), Washington’s choice to reject diplomacy and fuel war in Ukraine is what sent the economy into a tailspin at warp speed. The economic crisis was the number one issue for voters, and this pain was self-inflicted by the warmongering Democrats.

Just as the economic sanctions on Russia have rebounded so awfully against the West, so did the Democrats’ war drive rebound in their own sanctioning at the ballot box this week.

They did do better than expected, so just imagine how Democrats might have done if the economy was merely stable, instead of the current awful? They could have kept the House and won true control of the Senate – not the often-useless 50-50 split they eked out in 2020.

It’s completely accurate to say that the Democrat-led war drive in Ukraine is the reason why Democrats lost control of Congress, but it’s forbidden to say such things in the Western media.

What drove Democrats to be so reckless with the well-being of the everyday American?

Some will say it’s Russophobia, just as Islamophobia after 9/11 smoothed public opinion for a 20-year murder spree across the Muslim World.

You can’t demonize a nation every night on MSNBC and every day in The New York Times for 5+ years and then be surprised when their readers and leaders exacerbate a war with the object of demonization. Those are Democratic Party mouthpieces and not Republican ones, which can have very different ideas on Ukraine. Democratic Party leaders are obviously driven by an unjust need for vengeance against Russia – whom many Democrats falsely blame for influencing the 2016 election – and to hell with the costs on the working-poor class.

For Democrats, this vengeance is the highest display of political morality, just as vengeance towards Muslims was the highest display of political morality after 9/11. The war campaign against Russia took longer to work, but there was no bloody flag to wave to rally Americans around the president’s latest war – Russians killed no Americans. 

However, going back six years is a very short measuring stick. America has been at war since always. The world used to consider Democrats brave for saying that out loud, but it is no longer the 1950s – this is now common knowledge among the new generation.
Now being a true progressive certainly must include a desire to end civil and foreign violence. That latter seems to be the domain of the Republican Party in 2022, as they have actually threatened to cut funding for Biden’s Ukrainian quagmire.

That the Republicans are the “peace party” makes no sense, of course. The “CIA Democrats caucus” (Democrats in the House of Representatives who worked in intelligence, the State Department, or the military) has expanded to at least 15 people and that makes no sense, either. 

But since when has American politics made moral sense? America has always been a deeply reactionary country – its founding revolution was merely against foreign control and not in favor of a progressive reordering of society –  and thus its politics has always been defined by hypocrisy, zero memory, and even less understanding of this thing we share called human history.

The Democrats’ Russophobia made Russia the target, but the Democratic Party’s truly autocratic and anti-democratic commitment to “forever war” is the root cause of their undeniable electoral defeat this week.

Democrats are more committed to war this time, but it’s absurd to believe that even if Republicans don’t totally back this war that they won’t back future American wars. Simply refer to how France didn’t join the Western coalition against Iraq only to join all the following Western imperialist coalitions, and also spearheaded their usual imperialist domination across the Sahel and West Africa.

What’s the root effect, and the one which is most historically important? 2022 has shown that the US cannot handle its forever wars like it used to – not militarily, not politically, and obviously not economically.

That’s the biggest change Americans have to grapple with, and their solution is peace: A top foreign policy poll recently showed that 79% of Americans want peace with Iran, for example. Of course, despite all the insistence in the US and also Iran that a Democratic victory in 2020 will end America’s “forever war on Iran” Joe Biden has obviously disproved that, as well.

However, all the American people could do was punish the Democratic Party – it’s not as if any composition of Republicans and Democrats will actually implement the will of the average American.

The Democratic Party cannot and will not ever grapple with its inability to handle forever wars, which has been laid bare in 2022, because that’s not how Western Liberal Democracy works: it requires forever wars, both foreign and domestic.

Many incorrectly believe that the Democratic Party can somehow save Western Liberal Democracy, but not that many Americans engage in such wishful thinking – simply look at the vote results after two years of Democratic control of Washington.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He is currently covering the US midterm elections. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His latest book is ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values’. He is also the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’.

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


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US faces ‘environment of fascism’ ahead of 2022 midterms: Congresswoman

Saturday, 29 October 2022 7:28 PM  [ Last Update: Saturday, 29 October 2022 7:36 PM ]

Progressive Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (front) and Ilhan Abdullahi Omar (center) pose for a photograph at Capitol Hill. (AP file photo)

Progressive Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says that the United States is “facing an environment of fascism” similar to the days of Jim Crow in the leadup to the 2022 midterms which Democrats are likely to lose to Republicans.

Federal officials at the Department of Homeland Security and FBI have warned of a “heightened threat” ahead of the midterm elections charged by violent extremism, CBS News reported

What they’re saying: “We are really truly facing an environment of fascism in the United States of America. This type of intimidation at the polls brings us to Jim Crow,” Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told MSNBC on Friday about reports of intimidation at Arizona ballot boxes.

“It brings us back and harkens back to a very unique form of American apartheid that is not that long past ago,” she added. “And we have never fully healed from it and those wounds threaten to rip right back open if we do not strongly defend democracy in the United States of America.”

US authorities released a bulletin on Friday that said domestic violent extremists pose a threat of violence for the 2022 midterms and the days after.

“Following the 2022 midterm election, perceptions of election-related fraud and dissatisfaction with electoral outcomes likely will result in heightened threats of violence against a broad range of targets ― such as ideological opponents and election workers,” the bulletin reads, according to CNN.

CBS reported that these extremists may target state and local government buildings following the election.

The bulletin was issued on the same day as the attack on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband at their residence in San Francisco.

Speaking at a political event in Pennsylvania hours after Paul Pelosi was attacked and gravely injured by an intruder, US President Joe Biden blamed the Republican Party, increasingly influenced by the political vitriol of former President Donald Trump, for “too much political violence.”

“There’s too much violence, political violence, too much hatred, too much vitriol,” Biden said.

“And what makes us think that one party can talk about ‘stolen elections,’ ‘COVID being a hoax,’ ‘this is all a bunch of lies,’ and it not affect people who may not be so well balanced?  What makes us think that it’s not going to corrode the political climate?” Biden added.

Paul Pelosi was attacked and severely beaten by an assailant with a hammer, according to people familiar with the matter.

Pelosi, 82, suffered blunt force trauma to his head and body, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation into the attack who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing probe.

US midterm elections outlook darkens for Democrats The White House has lowered its earlier optimism about the midterm elections and is now worried that Democrats could lose control of both chambers of Congress, administration officials say.

The assailant is in custody, and the motivation for the attack is under investigation, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Democrats are worried they could lose control of both chambers of Congress on November 8 which would give Republicans the power to bring Biden’s legislative agenda to a halt. Biden’s unpopularity is helping drive this view.

Biden’s term has been marked by the economic scars of the global health crisis, including soaring inflation. Biden’s popularity hit a record low of 36 percent in May and June.

US consumer inflation hit a 40-year high of 8.6 percent in the 12 months through May, with gasoline marking a record high and the cost of food soaring, Labor Department data showed.

The surging costs have become a political headache for the Biden administration, which has tried several measures to lower prices but said much of the responsibility to control inflation falls to the Federal Reserve.


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«أوبك +» هل تقصم ظهر العلاقات الأميركية ـ السعودية

الثلاثاء 18 أكتوبر 2022 

بتول قصير

يبدو أنّ خيبات الولايات المتحدة الأميركية تتوالى. فقد أثار قرار الدول المصدرة للبترول “أوبك” والدول المنتجة للنفط المتحالفة معها “أوبك بلس” خفض إنتاج النفط بمقدار مليوني برميل يومياً، حالة من الهستيريا والغضب في واشنطن، لما له من تداعيات سلبية على الولايات المتحدة وحلفائها. فعلى خلفية القرار عبّر الرئيس جو بايدن أنه “أصيب بخيبة أمل” ووصف القرار بـ “قصير النظر”، واتهم دول المنظمة النفطية بالانحياز إلى روسيا.

شكل قرار خفض الإنتاج حالة إرباك بالنسبة لإدارة الرئيس بايدن، فالتوقيت الحرج لهذا القرار يأتي قبل شهر تقريباً من موعد إجراء انتخابات التجديد النصفي للكونغرس. وثمة خطر في أنّ هذا الخفض الذي سيدخل سريان المفعول في الأول من تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر من شأنه أن يتسبّب في ارتفاع أسعار البنزين والغاز، ما يعني انّ واشنطن أمام كارثة سياسية كاملة الأركان على إدارة الرئيس الديمقراطي بايدن، خاصة أنّ خصومه الجمهوريين سيستغلون الفرصة الثمينة هذه للإطاحة بمصداقيته أمام الناخبين الأميركيين خلال عملية الاقتراع، كإثبات على السياسة الفاشلة التي تمتع بها عهده.

وعلى خلفية هذا القرار تعالت الأصوات في الكونغرس الأميركي التي تدعو لإعادة النظر في العلاقة مع الرياض، وتأطير العلاقة مع الأخيرة التي اعتبرت الإدارة الأميركية خطوتها بأنها بمثابة انحياز للمملكة في صراعات دولية وأنه قرار بُني على دوافع سياسية ضدّ الولايات المتحدة الأميركية. واللافت انّ ارتفاع وتيرة التوتر بين البلدين ترافق مع طرح النائب الأميركي الديمقراطي توم مالينوفسكي مشروع قانون في مجلس النواب يطالب إدارة الرئيس بايدن بسحب أنظمة الدفاع ضدّ الصواريخ و3000 جندي، وهم قوام القوات الأميركية من السعودية والإمارات. وقال مالينوفسكي في بيان صادر عنه: “لقد حان الوقت لكي تستأنف الولايات المتحدة دورها كدولة عظمى في علاقتها بزبائنها في الخليج”.

وعليه فإنّ حفلة الجنون الأميركية عقب قرار “أوبك بلس”، يفسّرها انشغال واشنطن وحلفائها في السعي الدؤوب لضمان أمنهم الطاقي نظراً لأهمية مصادر الطاقة العالمية. خاصة بعد أزمة أوكرانيا وإغلاق روسيا لصنابير الطاقة والغاز عن أوروبا.

وكخطوات عاجلة أمر الرئيس الأميركي وزارة الطاقة بالإفراج عن 10 ملايين برميل من الاحتياطي البترولي الاستراتيجي الأميركي في الأسواق مع دخول خفض الإنتاج حيّز التنفيذ في الأول من تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر، والاستمرار في اللجوء إلى احتياطي البترول الاستراتيجي كلما اقتضت الحاجة. كما باشر بايدن بمشاورات مع الكونغرس للبحث في آليات إضافية لتقليص تحكم أوبك في أسعار الطاقة وتقليص اعتماد الولايات المتحدة على المصادر الأجنبية للوقود الأحفوري وتسريع ضخ الاستثمارات في الطاقة النظيفة.

من منظورٍ آخر، يبدو أنّ واشنطن تسبّبت بطريقة أو بأخرى بدفع “أوبك بلس” لخفض الإنتاج، عندما قرّرت مؤخراً رفع أسعار الفائدة والدولار، في وقت يستورد العالم النفط بالعملة الأميركية، ورفع قيمته يؤثر على الدول المستوردة للنفط، ما تسبّب بقلة الطلب عليه، ما أدّى لخلق فائض نفطي لدول “أوبك بلس”. واشنطن المذهولة من القرار حمّلت الرياض مسؤولية تداعياته، معتبرة أنّ دوافعه سياسية وانحياز لروسيا وسيشكل دعماً لها لا يُستهان به.

بدورها السعودية رفضت الاتهامات الأميركية التي لا تستند إلى الحقائق، وعلقت بأنّ القرار اتخذ بالإجماع من كافة دول المجموعة، وهو قرار اقتصادي بحت. وما زاد الطين بلة، أنّ قراراً مدعوماً من السعودية بأن تتوقف مجموعة “أوبك بلس” عن استخدام بيانات وكالة الطاقة الدولية، وهي الهيئة الغربية لمراقبة قطاع الطاقة، ما يعكس المخاوف من التأثير الأميركي على البيانات.

وأخيراً، يبدو انّ زيارة بايدن للسعودية في تموز/ يوليو لم تفعل شيئاً يُذكر لتغيير تصميم محمد بن سلمان على رسم سياسة خارجية مستقلة عن النفوذ الأميركي، خاصة أنّ الزيارة أغضبت ولي العهد، الذي كان منزعجاً من أنّ بايدن تحدث علناً عن تعليقاته الخاصة مع العائلة المالكة بشأن وفاة الصحافي جمال خاشقجي. وهذا لا يعني انّ البيت الأبيض سيتجه لاتخاذ قرارات عقابية واضحة تجاه الرياض، فهو وعلى الرغم من العلاقات بين كلّ من المملكة والولايات المتحدة شهدت مداً وجزراً على مدى عقود خلت وحتى الفترة الحالية، إلا انّ الدولتين تتمتعان بشراكة استراتيجية، مدعومة بمصالح مشتركة. فالبلدان يشتركان في رؤية متوافقة تجاه العديد من القضايا الدولية والإقليمية، من مسألة الملف النووي الإيراني، والتحالف الرباعي ضدّ اليمن، وغيرها من الملفات الإقليمية والدولية.

وعليه فإنّ ما يجمع واشنطن والرياض أكبر بكثير مما يمكن أن يزعزع علاقة البلدين الشاملة في كافة المستويات. بيد أنَّ هذه العلاقات تعرّضت وتتعرّض في أوقات كثيرة لمثل هذه الهزات، إلا أنَّه من المستبعد أن تذهب ردود الأفعال إلى مستويات بعيدة، خصوصاً أنّ قرار «أوبك بلس» لم يكن سعودياً بحتاً.

عندما يستثمر ابن سلمان في «القبَلية» الأميركية

الثلاثاء 18 تشرين الأول 2022

علاقة أميركا مع الدول المرتبطة بها، هي علاقة مصلحة متبادلة (أ ف ب)

موسى السادة  

يتيح قرار منظّمة «أوبك +» الأخير، خفْض إنتاج النفط بما يقارب المليونَي برميل يومياً، فرصة لقراءة الأبعاد المختلفة للعلاقات الدولية اليوم، وأبرزها العلاقة بين المملكة السعودية والولايات المتحدة، إذ إن تداعيات هذا القرار ستطاول أكثر من ملفّ، في ظلّ وضع دولي غير مسبوق تسارعت التحوّلات فيه بعد الحرب الروسية على أوكرانيا. تستدعي قراءةٌ كتلك، التنبّه إلى ثلاثة أوجهٍ مختلفة متشابكة: أوّلها، الاختلال في قوّة الولايات المتحدة وأدوات سيطرتها على السياسة الدولية، وثانيها، حجم هذا الاختلال وكيفية تأثيره في الداخل الأميركي واستقطاباته السياسية والاجتماعية، وثالثها التغيّر في ديناميكية علاقة الدول المرتبطة بأميركا، خصوصاً حين الحديث عن دولة بحجم وأهمية السعودية، التي تمتدّ وتنصهر ارتباطاتها بالولايات المتحدة، بشكل يتداخل مع مجال السياسة الداخلية الأميركية.

من هنا، يمكن النظر إلى قرار «أوبك +» من زاوية كوْنه خطوة سعودية ستؤثّر في الهيمنة الأميركية الدولية. ذلك أن واحداً من تداعياته سيكون دعم الاقتصاد الروسي، المنخرط في مجهود عسكري ضدّ أوكرانيا وحلف «الناتو». أمّا الزاوية الأخرى، فهي تأثير القرار في الداخل الأميركي، في فترة زمنية حسّاسة تسبق الانتخابات النصفية، وهذا بالتحديد هو ما يشغل الأميركيين أكثر من تأثير الخطوة في الطرف الروسي. وفي حين كان الخطاب الرسمي السعودي بالغ الدبلوماسية في التعاطي مع القرار، إلّا أن مُريدي السعودية، وبل حتى سواهم، قاربوه كدليل على استقلالية قرار المملكة وتقديمها مصلحتها الوطنية أولاً، وإنْ كان في وجه أميركا نفسها، وهو ما دفع خصوم السعودية، القائم خطابهم على تبعيّتها لـ«بيت الطاعة» الأميركي والغربي، إلى اتّخاذ موقع دفاع، في تنابُز إعلامي وسياسي مديد في المجال السياسي العربي.

إلّا أن ما يجب اعتباره من القرار، بعيداً عن هذا التنابز، هو عبر قراءة مركّبة لشكل العلاقة التاريخية بين المملكة وأميركا، بالإمكان توسيعها أيضاً لتشمل كلّ دولة تُحكم من نُخب تتشابك وترتبط مصالحها مع الولايات المتحدة. فالتفسير الهشّ القائم على تبسيط شكل العلاقة إلى حدود «سيّد» يأمر وينهى كيفما وأينما شاء دونما أيّ اعتبارات؛ و«عبد» يطيع، إنّما هو تفسير خاطئ يؤسّس لقراءة خاطئة. الواقع أن علاقة أميركا مع الدول المرتبطة بها، هي علاقة مصلحة متبادلة، وأن ما يقتضيه لفظ «الهيمنة الأميركية» هو أن كفّة القوة ضمن علاقة المصلحة تلك، تميل بشكل قاهر لصالح الأميركيين. تختلف، هنا، أدوات القوة وأشكالها من دولة إلى أخرى، ومنها مثلاً الابتزاز بوقْف المِنح المالية والعسكرية، أو التهديد بالتضييق والعقوبات، أو في الحالة المميّزة في الخليج العربي التهديد برفع الحماية العسكرية، مثلما ينادي به اليوم العديد من أعضاء الكونغرس الأميركي، وصرّح به مسؤولون أميركيون مختلفون ومباشرة على شاشات التلفزة، بقولهم: «هل يظنّ السعوديون أن الروس أو الصينيين قادرون على توفير الحماية لهم؟».

المثير والمهمّ، هو كيف أمست السياسة الأميركية أشبه بسياسات دول غير متماسكة


وإذ يأتي هذا التهديد ضمن مسار تاريخي من الشدّ والجذب وفق ما تقتضيه المصلحة، فإن الأمر المختلف اليوم هو أننا أمام واقع دولي وأميركي داخلي مغاير، يظهّر اهتزازاً لفعالية أوراق الابتزاز الأميركية، وهو ما فهمه السعوديون جيداً.
ولعلّ أهمّ وجوه اهتزاز السطوة ذاك، يمكن استشفافه من مراقبة تبدُّل شكل علاقة النُّخب الحاكمة الخليجية بالولايات المتحدة وجرأتها السياسية. فهذه النُّخبة السعودية هي أوّل مَن يستشعر ويهاب تقهقر أميركا التي رهنت ديمومة حُكمها بها. وبالنسبة إلى المملكة، وتحديداً منذ تسلُّم محمد بن سلمان السلطة الفعلية، كانت السنوات السبع الماضية مخاضاً للتكيّف في التعامل مع الأميركيين، والأهمّ الوصول إلى القدرة على استغلال تناقضاتهم الداخلية. ومن هنا، ولكي لا يُفهم قرار «أوبك +» كانحياز كامل إلى الروس، حرص السعوديون على موازنته، بإعلانهم عن هِبة مادّية بقرابة 400 مليون دولار لأوكرانيا، وأيضاً تواصلهم مع المسؤولين الأوكرانيين والطلب منهم التغريد بتصريحات تثمّن مواقف المملكة. هذه الموازنة في حدّ ذاتها تعكس ضعفاً أميركياً وغربياً، حيث تخشى الدول حتى المرتبطة أمنياً واقتصادياً بواشنطن، وعلى الرغم من احتدام الصراع الروسي – الغربي، من التخندق الصارخ إلى جانب أيّ من الطرفَين.
البُعد الآخر الذي تظهّره هذه الموازنة، هو أن قرار «أوبك +» في جوهره ليس اصطفافاً ضدّ الغرب مع روسيا، بل محاولة للتأثير في الداخل الأميركي وفي حكومة الرئيس جو بايدن على وجه التحديد، إذ تُعدّ السياسة الداخلية الأميركية مسرحاً مهمّاً ليس للحُكم السعودي فقط، بل حتى للشخصيات السعودية المعارضة، التي تعمل من داخل التجاذبات الحزبية على التحريض على حُكم آل سلمان، سواء على المستوى القضائي أو الإعلامي. ولذلك، يؤثّر السعوديون في المجال السياسي الأميركي في إطار مصالحهم، وبحجم ونوع غير مسبوقَين، لم يكونا ليتحقّقا لولا حجم الاستقطاب والتناقضات الداخلية الأميركية الحادّة. بتعبير آخر، إن الاهتزاز الذي يصيب الولايات المتحدة على الساحة الدولية، وحجم الاستقطاب السياسي – الاجتماعي في داخلها، يؤثّر أحدُهما في الآخر بشكل سلبي. ومن هنا، يمسي وصْف البيت الأبيض قرار «أوبك +» بـ«بالعمل العدائي» خاوياً، والأمر ذاته ينسحب على مسألة التدخّل في الانتخابات. ذلك أن حجم الشقاق الجمهوري – الديموقراطي، حال دون إقرار موقف موحّد تجاه خطوة المنظّمة، ليضيع ردّ الفعل في زحمة الاختلافات الحزبية. وحتى وإنْ حرص الجمهوريون على تبيان امتعاضهم من القرار، لكي لا يَظهروا بمظهر غير المبالين بأثره في الناخبين الأميركيين، إلّا أنهم ألقوا باللوم المباشر على بايدن. ويضاف إلى ذلك، قيام أعضاء من الحزبَين بتبنّي سرديات مِن قَبيل أن بايدن أراد من السعوديين مجرّد تأجيل القرار شهراً واحداً حتى تَظهر نتائج الانتخابات، أو سردية أن الجمهوريين هم مَن دفعوا بالسعوديين نحو خطوتهم الأخيرة للإضرار ببايدن ومحاولة كسْب الانتخابات. وهنا، ضاع موضوع تمرّد السعوديين وقيامهم بما وُصف بـ«العمل العدائي».

المثير والمهمّ، هو كيف أمست السياسة الأميركية أشبه بسياسات دول غير متماسكة، أو حتى بسياسات النُّخب الحاكمة العربية القائمة على تعصّب الأطراف بعضها ضدّ بعض. فلو وضعْنا القرار السعودي في حقبة زمنية ماضية، ولْنقل في فترة باراك أوباما الأولى، فما كان له أن يتمّ، إذ إن الهوية الأميركية كانت متماسكة على نحو سيدفع الجميع إلى اعتبار الخطوة «عملاً عدائياً»، إلّا أن القبَلية الحزبية والاستقطاب الأميركي اليوم، وهّنا من الهوية الأميركية لصالح المصالح الحزبية – الهويّاتية الضيّقة. ومن هنا، يَبرز قرار «أوبك +»، ليس كمحاولة للانعتاق من الولايات المتحدة، اقتصادياً وسياسياً وعسكرياً وبل حتى ثقافياً، بل كمؤشّر إلى ولادة مرحلة دولية، وأميركية داخلية، جديدة على الدول المرتبطة نُخبها بالأميركيين، وقواعد لَعِبها مختلفة عن الماضي، وهذا بالتحديد ما يحاول السعوديون التأقلم معه، وصوغ وجودهم ضمن تناقضاته.

من ملف : السعودية – أميركا: أزمة تخادُم

مقالات ذات صلة

US-Saudi Rift on OPEC Plus: Bruised Ties or Beyond That?

October 15, 2022

By Hiba Morad | Press TV

The US-Saudi partnership has often been described as a transactional one; majorly owing to Saudi Arabia’s oil supply in return for US arms in bulk. Since 1943, the equation has been protecting the interests of American oil companies in Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas industry in return for weapons and military equipment.

Saudi Arabia is a vital US asset in West Asia. Since the kingdom has the world’s largest oil reserves, enjoys a geo-strategic position, and has influence in the Arab and Islamic worlds, it remains to be the imperialist US’s pivot to Asia. Saudi Arabia has also been the US’ milking cow, paying tremendous sums of money in return for arms deals over the years.

Tensions, however, rose between the two countries following Saudi pressure on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies [OPEC Plus] alliance last week to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day.

This was after the US was acting in collusion with Saudi Arabia to patch things up in July on the Mohammed Bin Salman-ordered killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The US Intelligence had earlier released a report in which it said that MBS approved the operation to kill and dismantle the journalist.

Recently given a “made up” title of prime minister to secure his impunity at US courts on his role in the killing of Khashoggi, MBS claimed that the decision of OPEC Plus, in which Riyadh is a top producer, was “merely” economic and not politically motivated.

John Kirby, a top spokesperson for the US National Security Council denied the claims and said the Saudi move was wrong. He stated that the Saudis conveyed during the recent weeks their intention to reduce oil production, privately and publicly, knowing this would increase Russian revenues and blunt the effectiveness of sanctions.

In reaction, President Biden issued a vague warning to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, pledged “consequences” and vowed to “take action.” The US claimed that OPEC Plus is aligning with Russia.

Of course, Biden is concerned that decreased oil output could push up the price of gasoline right before the November 8 US midterm elections, when Democrats will defend their control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Meanwhile, some Senate Democrats are demanding a swift and concrete response.

In a strong expression of US anger over the Saudi oil-production cuts, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez called for freezing all US cooperation with Saudi Arabia on Monday. Menendez claimed that the move serves to boost Russia in its war in Ukraine.

He vowed he “will not green-light any cooperation with Riyadh until the Kingdom reassesses its position with respect to the war in Ukraine. Enough is enough.”

Gulf sources rushed to conclude that the rift between the two countries will not break ties, while pro-US sources lashed MBS and OPEC Plus for the decision and said this move proves Bin Salman is siding with Russia, and that Western leaders should abandon him.

In the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, the West has gone to great lengths to isolate Russia’s economy, which relies in large part on energy exports.

As part of their economic sanctions against Moscow, the US and EU are trying to impose a cap on the price paid to Russia for its oil exports. But that effort could now collapse as global oil prices rise and Europe heads into a winter season when heating costs are expected to soar due to the Ukraine war.

OPEC Plus, which groups the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia, has refused to raise output to lower oil prices despite pressure from major consumers, including the United States.

Russia has hailed the recent decision made by OPEC Plus. The Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the remarks on October 9, saying the move successfully at least “balances the mayhem that the Americans are causing.”

It is very good that such “balanced, thoughtful and planned work of the countries, which take a responsible position within OPEC, is opposed to the actions of the US,” Peskov said.

For months, the US and Saudi monarchy have been in a tit-for-tat game, seemingly contemplating how to pressure each other in return for gains. Of course, Mohammed bin Salman has gained leverage on the international level following the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war since he controls the oil game, if possible to say.

MBS, who was described by The Economist as “one of the most dangerous leaders” of the world in September is opportunistic; he will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.

Middle East Eye quoted an academic from Tehran as saying “A senior Saudi diplomat told me that MBS started as a kid playing video games. Killing Khashoggi, starting a military intervention in Yemen which would last ‘two weeks,’ the siege of Qatar, and getting rid of [Lebanese Prime Minister Saad] Hariri were all video games for him, buttons you can press, enemies disappearing from the screen. Out of necessity, he is becoming more strategic.”

“Strategic maturity does not come from what you would like to have. It comes out of necessity,” the academic said. “I don’t think the Saudis decided to move beyond that strategic relationship with America. The American hand is still strong. But there are differences happening. The Americans are not seen with the same confidence that was seen in Riyadh.”

By the OPEC Plus move, yes, MBS has shown his influence over the global oil market, but he did upset the foreign policy establishment in Washington. Of course, Washington will not want to risk oil security which is in the hands of the kingdom to a great extent, or drive Riyadh closer to Russia and China; a too simplistic of a prediction. Saudi Arabia still cannot make it through without the US, but Biden needs to take action for the Saudi humiliation.

A serious issue remains in question; what will happen to the West as winter becomes harsher in light of power cuts, the absence of hot water and scarcity and high prices of oil?

Also on the current rift, will Biden invite MBS to Washington and “spank” him like the Saudi game boy did to Lebanon’s Hariri, perhaps in one way or another? Will relations deteriorate and the world see different coalitions as the US says it will reconsider relations with the Saudi monarchy? Or will this be just another bruise in ties between the oil-rich country and the imperialist US before the two resume their US-Saudi waltz?

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Global finance vs global energy: who will come out on top?

October 13 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

In the war between global finance and energy, one fact remains clear: You can print money but you can’t print oil

There is more to the current struggle between the oil-consuming west and the oil-producing nations than meets the eye and it runs far deeper than the war in Ukraine

By Karin Kneissl

On 6 October, when the European Union (EU) agreed to impose a Russian oil price cap as part of a new package of sanctions against Moscow, 23 oil ministers from the OPEC+ group of oil-producing countries spoke out in favor of a sharp cut in their joint production quota.

Their collective decision to decrease output by about two million barrels of oil per day elicited strong reactions in the US in particular, and there was even talk of “declarations of war.” The EU feels duped, as the OPEC+ production cuts could drive up fuel prices and dampen their eight sanctions packages. Despite the narrative of the world edging toward a “post-oil era,” it seems there’s life in the old dog yet, as OPEC remains the talk of the town.

OPEC is as relevant as ever

OPEC and ten non-OPEC energy producers – including Russia – have been coordinating their production policy since December 2016. At the time, analysts gave this “OPEC-plus” format little chance of having an impact.

Back then, I recall the mockery of many who scorned the announcement in the press room of the OPEC General Secretariat in Vienna. But OPEC has weathered the storm of the global oil market in recent years, and has emerged as a key player.

Recall the exceptional situation in the spring of 2020 during the global COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, when futures trading for US oil grades were even quoted at negative prices at times, only to rise again to new heights in April 2021.

In contrast to the escapades in the oil market between 1973 and 1985, when there was little consensus among OPEC’s members and many had already written the organization’s obituary – today, former rivals such as Saudi Arabia and Russia are managing to converge their interests into powerful cards.

In those days, it was normal practice for Riyadh to take into account and execute Washington’s interests within OPEC: A single phone call from the US capital was enough. When the US oil company ARAMCO – which acted like an extended arm of the US in the kingdom – was nationalized by Saudi Arabia in the early 1970s as part of the sweeping nationalization trends around the world, compensation was promised to the US on a mere handshake.

The era of the “Seven Sisters,” a cartel of oil companies that divided up the oil market, came to an end then. However, for US policymakers – at least, psychologically – this era still persists. “It’s our oil,” is an expression I often hear uttered in Washington. Those voices were particularly loud during the illegal US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Financial market versus the energy market

To really understand the core of the conflict in Ukraine – where a proxy war rages – one must break down the confrontation thus: The US and its European allies, who represent and back the global financial sector, are essentially engaged in a battle against the world’s energy sector.

In the past 22 years, we have seen how easy it is for governments to print paper currency. In just 2022, the US dollar has printed more paper money than in its combined history. Energy, on the other hand, cannot be printed. And therein lies a fundamental problem for Washington: The commodity sector can outbid the financial industry.

When I wrote my book “The Energy Poker” in 2005, I also dealt with the currency question, i.e. whether oil will be traded in US dollars in the long term. At the time, my interlocutors from the Arab OPEC countries unanimously said that the US dollar would not be changed. Yet, 17 years later, that view has devolved starkly.

Riyadh is warming up to the idea of trading oil in other currencies, as indicated this year in discussions with the Chinese to trade in yuan. The Saudis also continue to purchase Russian like other West Asian and Global South states, they have opted to ignore western sanctions on Moscow, and are increasingly preparing for the new international condition of multipolarity.

Washington, thus, no longer maintains its ability to exert absolute leverage on OPEC, which is now repositioning itself geopolitically as the enlarged OPEC+.

US reacts: Between defiance and anger

The OPEC+ ministerial meeting on 6 October was a clear foreshadowing of these new circumstances. The inherent tensions between two world views unfolded immediately in the post-meeting press room where a Saudi oil minister put the western news agency Reuters in its place, and where US journalists fiercely attacked OPEC for “holding the world economy hostage.”

The next day, a tough policy was grudgingly announced by the White House. The OPEC+ production cuts has Washington vacillating between sulking and seeking revenge – against the once-compliant Saudis, in particular. In a few weeks US midterm elections will be held, and the ramifications of spiking fuel prices will no doubt unfold at the ballot box.

For almost a year, President Joe Biden has been expanding US fuel supply via the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but has been unable to calibrate either the price of oil or runaway inflation. The US Congress is threatening to use the so-called “NOPEC” bill – under the legal pretext of banning cartels – to seize the assets of OPEC governments.

The concept has been floating around for decades on Capitol Hill, but this time new irrational emotions may own the momentum. But hostile or threatening US actions are likely to backfire and even accelerate the geopolitical shifts taking place in West Asia, which has been edging out of the US orbit in recent years. Many Arab capitals have not forgotten the unseating of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, and how quickly the US abandoned its longterm ally.

“It’s the economy, stupid”

The price of oil is a seismograph of the world economy and also of global geopolitics. With the production cuts, OPEC+ is simply planning in anticipation of upcoming recessionary consequences. Moreover, some producing countries are failing to create new capacities in view of the investment gap that has persisted since 2014: a low price of oil simply cannot be sustained if there is no major capital investment in its sector.

The energy supply situation is expected to further worsen as of 5 December, when the oil embargo imposed by the EU comes into force.

The fundamental laws of supply and demand will ultimately determine the many distortions in the commodity markets. The anti-Russian sanctions created by the EU and other states (a total of 42 states) have disrupted global supply, and that has man-made supply and pricing consequences.

The two major global financial crises – real estate and banks in 2008, and the pandemic in 2020 – led to the excessive printing of paper money. Ironically, it was China that moved the paralyzed global economy out of the first crisis: Beijing stabilized the entire commodity market in 2009/10 by serving as the global locomotive and bringing the yuan into the trading schemes.

China, the well-oiled machine

Until the early 1990s, China satisfied its domestic oil consumption with domestic oil production, ranging from 3-4 million barrels per day. But fifteen years and a rapidly-expanded economy later, China had turned into the world’s number one oil importer.

This status reveals the crucial role of Beijing in the global oil market.  While Saudi Arabia and Angola are important oil providers, Russia is the main gas supplier for China. As former Premier Wen Jiabao once aptly observed: “any small problem multiplied by 1.3 billion will end up being a very big problem.”

For the past 20 years, I have argued that pipelines and airlines were moving east not west. Arguably, one of Russia’s biggest mistakes was to invest in infrastructure and contracts for a promising but ungrateful European market. The cancellation of the South Stream project in 2014 should have served as a lesson to Moscow not to enlarge Nord Stream as of 2017.  Times, nerves, and money could have been better spent on expanding the grid heading east.

It’s never been about Ukraine

Ever since the start of Ukraine’s military conflict in February 2022, we have essentially been watching the western-led financial industry waging its war against the eastern-dominated energy economy. The momentum will always be with the latter, because as stated above, in contrast to money, energy cannot be printed.

The oil and gas volumes needed to replace Russian energy sources cannot be found on the world market within a year. And no commodity is more global than oil. Any changes in the oil market will always influence the world’s economy.

“Oil makes and breaks nations.” It is a quote that epitomizes the importance of oil in shaping global and regional orders, as was the case in West Asia in the post-World War I era: First came the pipelines, then came the borders.

The late former Saudi oil minister Zaki Yamani once described oil alliances as being stronger than Catholic marriages. If that is the case, then the old US-Saudi marriage is currently undergoing estrangement and Russia has filed for divorce from Europe.

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

Oil cuts: A perfect storm in US foreign policy 

The Biden administration’s poor dealings with oil producing countries will have major political and economic ramifications for the west

October 11 2022

By MK Bhadrakumar

The old adage is that a good foreign policy is the reflection of the national policy. In this sense, a perfect storm is brewing on the foreign policy front in the US, triggered by the OPEC decision on 5 October to cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day.

On the one hand, this will drive up the gas price for the domestic consumer and on the other, will expose the US administration’s lop-sided foreign policy priorities. 

At its most obvious level, OPEC’s move confirms the belief that Washington has lost its leverage with the cartel of oil-producing countries. This is being attributed to the deterioration of the US’ relations with Saudi Arabia during the presidency of Joe Biden. But, fundamentally, a contradiction has arisen between the US interests and the interests of the oil producing countries.

Petro-diplomacy

That being said, contradictions are nothing new to the geopolitics of oil: the 1970s and 1980s witnessed two major “oil crises.” One was man-made while the other was an interplay of historical forces — the Yom-Kippur War of 1973 and Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979. In the downstream of the former, the Arab nations weaponized oil and proclaimed an oil embargo on western nations which were perceived to have supported Israel in the war.

The result was that the price of oil rose nearly 300 percent in less than six months, crippling the world’s economy. In the US, President Richard Nixon asked petrol stations not to sell gasoline from Saturday night through until Monday morning to cope with the crisis, which affected industry more than the average consumer.

In 1979, the Iranian Revolution hit oil production rates and the world’s oil supply shrunk by 4 percent. As panic set in, demand for crude oil shot up and prices more than doubled.

Biden’s folly

The Biden administration has tempted fate by underestimating the importance of oil in modern diplomacy, and ignoring that oil will remain the dominant energy source across the world for the foreseeable future, powering everything from cars and domestic heating to huge industry titans and manufacturing plants.

Even the steady transition to green energy over time is largely dependent on the continued availability of plentiful, cheap fossil fuel. However, the Biden administration overlooked the fact that those who have oil reserves wield a huge amount of power over our oil-centered energy systems, while those who buy oil are, on the contrary, cripplingly dependent on the market and the diplomatic relations which drive it.

The western powers are far too naive to think that an energy superpower like Russia can be simply “erased” from the ecosystem. An “energy war” with Russia is therefore destined for failure.

Historically, western nations understood the imperative to maintain good diplomatic relations with oil-producing countries. But Biden threw caution into the wind by insulting Saudi Arabia – when in the run-up to the 2020 presidential elections, he vowed to make the kingdom a “pariah” state.

Despite his highly-publicized visit to Jeddah in July 2022 to mend fences, the Saudis distrust American intentions, and we are unlikely to see any improvement in US-Saudi relations under Biden’s administration.

The congruence of interests on the part of the OPEC to keep the prices high is essentially because they need the extra income for their expenditure budget and to maintain a healthy investment level in the oil industry. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April projected Saudi Arabia’s breakeven oil price — the oil price at which it would balance its budget — at $79.20 a barrel.

Although the Saudi government does not disclose its assumed breakeven oil price, a Reuters report suggested that a preferred price level would be around $90 to $100 a barrel for Brent crude — at which level, it won’t have a huge impact on the global economy. Of course, anything over $100 will be a windfall.

Dictating who can and can’t sell oil

Meanwhile, a “systemic” crisis is brewing. It is only natural that OPEC views with skepticism the recent moves by the US and the EU to curtail Russia’s oil exports. The west rationalizes these moves as being aimed at drastically reducing Russia’s revenues from oil exports (which translates into resilience to fight the war in Ukraine.)

The latest G7 move to put a cap on the prices at which Russia can sell its oil is taking matters to an extreme.

OPEC regards price caps as a paradigm shift, as it implicitly challenges the cartel’s assumed prerogative to ensure that global oil supply matches demand, where one of the key measures of supply-demand balance is price. Arguably, the west is de facto setting up a rival cartel of oil-consuming countries to regulate the oil market.

No doubt, the west’s move is precedent-setting — namely, to prescribe for geopolitical reasons the price at which an oil-producing country is entitled to export its oil. If it is Russia today, who is to say it will not be Saudi Arabia or Iraq tomorrow? The G7 decision – if it gets implemented – will erode OPEC’s key role regulating the global oil market.

OPEC fights back

As such, OPEC is proactively pushing back with its recent decision to cut down oil production by 2 million barrels per day and keep the oil price above $90 per barrel. OPEC estimates that Washington’s options to counter OPEC+ are limited. Unlike in the past energy history, the US does not have a single ally today inside the OPEC+ group.

Due to rising domestic demands for oil and gas, it is entirely conceivable that the US exports of both items may be curtailed. If that happens, Europe will be the worst affected. In an interview with the Financial Times last week, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo warned that as winter approaches, if energy prices are not brought down, “we are risking a massive deindustrialization of the European continent and the long-term consequences of that might actually be very deep.”

He added these chilling words: “Our populations are getting invoices which are completely insane. At some point, it will snap. I understand that people are angry . . . people don’t have the means to pay it.” De Croo was warning about the likelihood of social unrest and political turmoil in European countries.

The economic and political fallout

Without a doubt, this is a tectonic shift in geopolitics which may probably turn out to be more important than the conflict in Ukraine in the making of the multipolar world order.

This perfect storm in Biden’s foreign policy can also impact the US midterm elections in November and deliver a Republican majority in the Senate, which could set the tempo for the 2024 US presidential election.

The Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that by turning away from Russian energy, Europe has become a captive market for the US oil companies which are now making “crazy money,” but the high cost of it is draining away the competitiveness of the European economy.

“Production is collapsing. Deindustrialization is coming. All this will have very, very deplorable consequences for the European continent over probably, at least, the next 10-20 years,” Peskov said.

Incidentally, Russia stands to gain the most from OPEC+cuts. The expert opinion is that oil prices will move higher from current levels through year-end and next year. That is to say, Russia will not cut any output while the price of oil is set to rise in the coming months.

As oil prices rise, Russia will not have to cut even a barrel of its production so long as it has a big enough market after December to sell the crude now going to Europe. Again, Moscow, for its part, reiterates that it will not supply oil to countries that would join the G7 price cap. In doing so, it is matching the Biden administration’s non-market instruments.

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

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Biden in Jeddah: mending fences, not building bridges

President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia will likely end in face saving gestures, but no major geopolitical concessions

July 12 2022

Photo Credit: The Cradle

By Kristian Alexander and Giorgio Cafiero

Before 2019, never had a US president referred to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a ‘pariah’ on his campaign trail. Joe Biden’s Saudi-bashing as a presidential candidate, plus a host of other delicate issues, have fueled significant friction between the White House and Riyadh.

Today, relations between the US and Saudi Arabia are probably at their worst since the events of September 11, 2001, stymied by a major trust deficit in the relationship between Biden’s White House and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS).

By the same token, the Biden administration views Saudi Arabia as a critical partner in the Persian Gulf and continues to sign massive arms deals with the kingdom.

For all the rhetoric on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose brutal murder MbS is said to have sanctioned, team Biden never imposed state-level sanctions against Saudi Arabia, nor on the crown prince himself.

Meanwhile, the administration praises the role of Riyadh in the Arab world’s trend toward normalization with Israel.

Within this context, Biden’s first presidential trip to West Asia – in which he will go to Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Saudi Arabia this week – will be important to White House efforts to mend fences with Riyadh and salvage this decades-old partnership.

In a US mid-term election year that will likely lead to significant gains for his Republican opposition, Biden seeks to score major foreign policy points in Jeddah that can be used for domestic consumption back in Washington this summer.

Incentivizing Biden to convince the Saudis to increase their oil production are the millions of US motorists struggling with high gas prices and the many average American voters grappling with generational high inflation.

Energy prices are therefore extremely important to Biden’s controversial trip to the kingdom. Yet, this month’s summit in Saudi Arabia is unlikely to give Americans much relief at the gas pump between now and the elections in November.

Shifting the narrative from oil to peace

Determined to ensure that the US public does not tie this tour’s success specifically to a Saudi oil production hike – which could easily result in the Biden administration’s humiliation – the White House message is that this visit to Jeddah largely concerns peace in the region.

As Biden wrote in the Washington Post, avoiding a future in which the region is “coming apart through conflict” is of “paramount importance” to the White House, and he will “pursue diplomacy intensely – including through face-to-face meetings – to achieve our goals.”

According to Biden, if the region comes together through “diplomacy and cooperation” there is a lower chance of “violent extremism” threatening US national security or “new wars that could place new burdens on US military forces and their families.”

This trip comes at a time in which there is a fragile truce in Yemen, where the Saudis and Emiratis have waged a devastating seven-year war. Although the conflict remains unresolved, the drastic reduction in violence and increased humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country have given millions of Yemenis desperately needed relief.

The truce in Yemen has been possible in part because of Saudi and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member support, which makes it easier for Biden to justify his visit to Jeddah. After all, it was the Khashoggi affair and the conflict in Yemen that ‘Biden-the-candidate’ cited as reasons for his ‘pariah’ treatment of Riyadh.

Thus, moving toward a settlement to this conflict, in which the last two US presidents were heavily involved in escalating, helps Biden save face as he makes this trip. If the president leaves the kingdom with some guarantees from the Saudis about their commitment to future truce extensions, that could be interpreted as a win for Biden.

“The US administration is beginning to realize that President Biden can’t just ignore Saudi Arabia and that it’s in the best interest of the two countries to start working together, not just to reduce oil prices and pressure on US consumers, but also to further the stability of the Middle East and contain [the Iranian] threat whether in Lebanon or Yemen,” Najah Al-Otaibi, an associate fellow at the Riyadh-based King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, said in an interview with The Cradle.

Expanding on her point, Al-Otaibi said that “Saudi Arabia has recently agreed to extend the United Nations-mediated ceasefire with Yemen, and Prince Mohammed [bin Salman] played a critical role in this move, according to Biden’s officials who thought it is a step forward to solving the conflict.”

Last month, Biden clarified that, for him, bolstering Israel’s security was a major motivation for the trip to Saudi Arabia. Despite some speculation among pundits that Saudi Arabia will soon join the Abraham Accords, this is highly doubtful, especially with King Salman still on the throne. However, with MbS “the reformer” as future king, normalization between “the Land of the Two Holy Mosques” and Israel is all the more likely.

Insecurity and an ‘Arab NATO’

Even if Riyadh remains outside the Abraham Accords, there is much that Saudi Arabia can do to make it easier for other Arab-Muslim countries to normalize with Tel Aviv, and for the kingdom’s allies, already signatories to the Abraham Accords, to build on their overt relations with the Israelis.

While in Jeddah, Biden will likely push the Saudis to take some more baby steps toward a de facto normalization with Israel, even if it remains unofficial. One way for the kingdom to do so would be by granting permission for Israeli planes to transit Saudi airspace on their way to the UAE, Bahrain, and other countries.

Other avenues could include bolstering involvement by Israeli technology firms in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, Saudi–Israeli military cooperation, and more visits by high-ranking Israeli officials to the kingdom that could build on former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s November 2020 visit to Neom.

Shoring up US–Arab partnerships in preparation for the increasingly likely scenario that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks with Iran will collapse in acrimony is a high priority for Biden.

Against the backdrop of Iran’s nuclear advancements as negotiations further stall, Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states attending the GCC+3 summit are preparing for a post-JCPOA future in which friction between the US and Israel, on one side, and the Islamic Republic, on the other, appears set to intensify in the coming weeks and months.

“I think Iran, not oil, is the main issue as Iran moves closer and closer to having all the parts it needs to put together a nuclear bomb,” David Ottaway, a Middle East fellow at the Wilson Center, told The Cradle. “Only a revival of the Iranian nuclear deal can stop that trend, and nobody is optimistic about that happening now.”

Although Riyadh and Tehran have been in direct talks via Baghdad since April 2021, the Saudi leadership wants assurances from team Biden that Washington remains committed to the kingdom’s security regardless of the fate of the 2015 nuclear accord, and that the US will work with its Arab allies to counter Iran in regional hotspots, such as Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Yet, mindful of the little trust Saudi officials have in the Biden administration, it is difficult to imagine the US president gaining enough confidence from Riyadh during this upcoming trip vis-à-vis Iran-related issues. As Ottaway told The Cradle:

“I suspect [Biden] will declare another US commitment to defending the kingdom from its foreign enemies, but after Trump’s failure to take any action after Iranian attacks on Saudi oil facilities in 2019, he needs to say or do something to back up [what are] just words.”

In recent weeks, there has been much discussion about an Arab NATO that includes Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other US-friendly Arab states. Biden will seek to advance this initiative as the west and its allies and partners in West Asia remain worried about Iran’s regional foreign policy agenda.

“[Biden] wishes to reaffirm the historical strength and enduring reciprocity of the alliance, but also to press Riyadh on cooperating more on the energy side – particularly as the US moves as well to create a region-wide defense platform, the so-called Middle East NATO,” Sean Yom, an associate professor at Temple University, pointed out in an interview with The Cradle.

“There is, however, one sticking point that will probably cause a difference: the Saudis continue to desire a strong US presence in the Gulf, one that can police Iran and intervene in a potential militarized conflict, whereas Biden clearly is continuing his predecessors’ anti-interventionist stance,” added Yom.

Nonetheless, many experts have doubts about an Arab NATO ever manifesting into a real alliance, and expect the initiative to remain merely conceptual. This assessment accounts for the opposition of some Arab states to an open military coordination with Israel, as some GCC states, like the Sultanate of Oman, do not want to join an alliance aimed at weakening or intimidating Tehran.

There are also logistical hurdles which would make it difficult for these state militaries to integrate in a NATO-like manner.

“Biden’s plan for a US-backed ‘Arab NATO’ of GCC states plus Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan seems as unlikely to succeed as Trump’s Middle East Strategic Alliance, which never got off the ground,” Ottaway says.

Virtue-signalling human rights

Although Biden’s administration has determined that the moral costs of this presidential trip do not outweigh the perceived benefits, the Khashoggi affair remains a delicate issue – though significantly less so now than in the immediate aftermath of the grisly murder in October 2018.

MbS wants the US government to drop the Khashoggi issue, but elements within Biden’s party maintain that any interaction between him and the crown prince would be “profoundly disturbing.” To placate more progressive politicians, high-profile media pundits, and human rights activists who criticize Biden for “legitimizing” MbS on this trip, the president will seek some human rights concessions, like those which his administration secured at the start of his presidency.

If Biden is successful on this front, he could return to the US claiming that his visit to the kingdom helped advance, rather than hinder, the cause of human rights. Such an achievement would help Biden save face and tell his base that he did not abandon certain principles or so-called ‘American values’ by meeting MbS in the Saudi kingdom.

“His campaign trail rhetoric, like all political campaign rhetoric, was never going to bear much resemblance to executive policy and official diplomacy,” cautioned Yom. “But I do think Biden will exit the meetings by claiming that he squarely put human rights concerns, and potentially even democratic awareness, onto the agenda for Riyadh.”

Yet, whether the Saudi leadership feels it is under sufficient pressure to release any political prisoners, or provide liberties to some recently released Saudis who are banned from traveling, remains to be seen.

From the perspective of the Saudi government, the US and other western governments are inappropriately virtue signaling when raising human rights concerns in the kingdom. The view from Riyadh is that these issues are internal issues that do not concern Washington or European capitals.

Saudi and other Arab officials will often point to US sins in Iraq or police brutality against African-Americans to highlight elements of hypocrisy on the part of US politicians lecturing the Saudi government on the human rights front.

MbS reportedly “shouting” at US national security adviser Jake Sullivan after the high-ranking official brought up the Khashoggi case underscores the effect of these discussions on the leaders of Saudi Arabia.

The grander geopolitical picture 

Biden will visit Saudi Arabia amid a period of increasing east–west bifurcation and intensifying great power competition. Although neither China nor Russia is on the verge of replacing the US as security guarantor of Saudi Arabia or any GCC states, US influence in the Gulf has declined with Beijing and Moscow gaining greater clout at Washington’s expense.

Biden’s trip to Jeddah aims to reassert US influence in the Persian Gulf and attempt to prevent Riyadh and other Arab capitals from moving closer to the Chinese and Russians. An objective of Biden’s is to bring GCC states back into the geopolitical orbit of the west, while slowing down the growth of their partnerships with Beijing and Moscow.

“There were undeniable hiccups in the relationship last year, relating to halting support to the Yemen war, aggressive rhetoric against MbS, and more scrutiny on arms sales,” Yom explained.

“Fundamentally, none of these factors perturbed the great structural core of the US–Saudi alliance, built upon mutual perceptions of energy security, sovereign protections, and regional hegemony. But those hiccups were enough to make the decision-making circles in Riyadh a bit uncomfortable, enough at least to entertain Russian and Chinese overtures for military and energy cooperation.”

The White House and the entire US foreign policy establishment have grave concerns about Sino–Saudi ballistic missile cooperation and the extent to which the Chinese and Emiratis are making their defense and security relations more robust.

It is safe to say that while in Jeddah, team Biden will make it clear that the US will withhold future military assistance if GCC states move militarily closer to China. The extent to which such pressure has any impact on Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s relationships with Beijing remains an open question.

Nonetheless, team Biden must understand that this visit will occur against the backdrop of serious tensions between the US and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has grown frustrated with many aspects of Washington’s agenda in the Biden era.

The Saudi government’s view is that Biden is an ’Obama 2.0’ – a perspective that is not unreasonable when mindful of how many Obama administration veterans, including Biden himself, are serving in the White House.

By moving closer to China and Russia, the Saudis are sending a message, loud and clear, to Washington that Riyadh has other options on the international stage as the world moves towards multipolarity with more Arab statesmen perceiving the US as a power that is withdrawing from West Asia.

Riyadh can exaggerate the extent to which the kingdom has grown closer to Beijing and Moscow to gain leverage over the US and secure more concessions from Washington. That is likely to continue, and Biden would be making a mistake in placating the Saudis in every instance to merely try to stop Riyadh from tilting closer to China and Russia.

Simultaneously, Saudi Arabia is showing itself to be increasingly confident and Biden’s visit to the kingdom will add to Riyadh’s sense of being emboldened, giving the Saudi leadership more reason to pursue its own interests in ways that sometimes align more closely with Beijing and Moscow’s foreign policy objectives than those of western powers.

Despite these geopolitical tensions, the Biden administration and Al-Saud rulers both value Washington and Riyadh’s decades-old partnership, and neither side wants to abandon it. Much anger and a significant trust deficit, however, have built up between these two countries.

Biden will not be leaving Saudi Arabia later this month with all these issues resolved. But the dialogue in Jeddah has the potential to begin a process of mending fences.

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

Biden orders unprecedented use of US oil stockpiles

March 31 2022

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen Net 

Biden is being bashed by US citizens for rising prices everywhere from the supermarket to car dealerships.

Biden is being bashed by US citizens for rising prices everywhere from the supermarket to car dealerships.

Stickers featuring President Joe Biden pointing at the gas total and saying, “I did that!” (The Washington Times)

President Joe Biden will announce, on Thursday, the release of a record million barrels of oil per day from US strategic stockpiles for about 180 days in an effort to cool soaring fuel prices. 

“After consultation with allies and partners, the president will announce the largest release of oil reserves in history, putting one million additional barrels on the market per day on average — every day — for the next six months,” a statement said.

“The scale of this release is unprecedented: the world has never had a release of oil reserves at this one million per day rate for this length of time. This record release will provide a historic amount of supply to serve as a bridge until the end of the year when domestic production ramps up,” it added.

The measure will add significant supply to the already overheated global oil market, sending inflationary shockwaves through the US economy.

Biden is already struggling with low poll numbers ahead of looming midterm elections in November where Republicans are expected to take over Congress from Democrats.

The US President is facing a number of issues that contribute to his low approval ratings, including his handling of the Ukraine crisis, the pandemic response, a border crisis, and low ratings for personal qualities such as leadership, crisis management, and mental sharpness.

US thirst for oil

A million barrels per day released over a six-month period will be by far the largest and most sustained tapping of stockpiles in US history. The release would amount to about a 1% increase in global supplies.

It is worth mentioning that Biden was scheduled to lay out the details in a speech later Thursday.

Oil prices fell sharply after initial reports of the plan, which came as the OPEC+ group of petroleum exporters decided to raise output only modestly, despite the rise in crude prices caused by the West’s hysteric sanctions on Russia.

The release dwarfs previous uses of the strategic stockpile announced by the Biden administration in collaboration with other countries on March 1 in the light of the war in Ukraine, as well as last year in response to rising inflation.

Today, Biden is getting little credit from voters, who blame him for rising prices everywhere from the supermarket to car dealerships.

And for US drivers, the price shock as they fill up their cars at gas stations is a constant annoyance. “I did this,” read a sticker with a picture of Biden that has been placed next to pump handles in a number of gas stations.

Gasoline prices are currently at an average of $4.23 per gallon, up 47% from a year ago.

Oil prices rose near $140 per barrel in March on concerns about lost Russian crude supply, as some “self-sanctioning” oil buyers avoided Russian crude in the aftermath of hysteric sanctions against Moscow.

Prices have fallen slightly since the United States banned Russian energy imports on March 8, but have remained above $100 per barrel for the majority of the time since.

لماذا تستعجل واشنطن الاتفاق الإيرانيّ والترسيم اللبنانيّ؟

السبت 12 شباط 2022

 ناصر قنديل

قد يُوحي الجمع بين العجلة الأميركية في ملفي التفاوض مع إيران، وترسيم حدود لبنان البحرية برابط تفاوضيّ بينهما، وهو غير موجود، إلا في القلق الأميركي من الملفات المتفجّرة في المنطقة، في ظل انسداد خيار الحرب أمامها وأمام “إسرائيل”، وبلوغ خيار العقوبات سقف ما يستطيعه في مواجهة إيران وحزب الله، وصولاً للخوف من أن يؤدي المزيد من الضغط الى تسريع لجوء إيران وحزب الله إلى خيارات جذريّة تغير موازين القوى السياسية والاقتصادية في الإقليم. وفيما تعارض “إسرائيل” العجلة الأميركية في التفاوض مع إيران وصولاً لاتفاق، طالما أنه لن يتضمن التزاماً إيرانياً بوقف أو تخفيض مستوى الإنفاق على برنامجها الصاروخي ومساهمتها بدعم قوى المقاومة، فإنها تبدو مشاركة في القلق مما بات يسمّى خطر سقوط لبنان في حضن حزب الله بدلاً من سقوطه على رأسه، كما كانت الغاية من مشروع إسقاط لبنان قبل أن تكسر جدار الحصار سفن المازوت الإيراني التي جلبها حزب الله بحراً ومرّر حمولتها عبر سورية الى لبنان، فاتحاً الباب لخطوات من خارج العلبة، وفقاً للتوصيف الأميركي، يمكن أن تشتمل لاحقاً على ما هو أخطر، خصوصاً في ملف ثروات النفط والغاز والتلميحات حول جلب شركات إيرانية للتنقيب فيها تضع المنطقة على شفا حرب. بالمقابل تتحفظ السعودية على وجهتي العجلة الأميركية مع إيران وفي لبنان، رغم أنها تدرك بأنها لا تملك إلا التأقلم في نهاية المطاف عبر تسريع مفاوضاتها مع إيران وتوسيع نطاقها لتشمل سورية وتفتح عبرهما نافذة على لبنان، وتل أبيب الحريصة على الحفاظ على خطاب يعاكس الواقع الذي تعرفه جيداً والمخاطر التي تخشاها بالفعل، تضع واشنطن ضمن معادلة ربط التوصل للتفاهم مع إيران بإنهاء ترسيم الحدود مع لبنان لتحويل خط ترسيم حدود النفط والغاز الى خط عازل يبرّد جبهات القتال المفترضة والمقلقة.

في القراءة الأميركية أن العالم يسارع الخطى نحو تغييرات جذرية كبيرة سياسياً وعسكرياً واقتصادياً، على طرفي الشرق الأوسط الشمالي والشرقي اللذين تمثلهما روسيا والصين، فروسيا تبدو قد حسمت أمرها بفتح ملف استعادة أوروبا الشرقيّة، ولو خطوة خطوة، وتجميد الحركة الروسيّة لفتح باب التفاوض اليوم سيتيح الحصول على أفضل مما قد يتيحه أي تفاوض في الغد. وهذه هي وظيفة التصعيد الأميركي على ضفاف أوكرانيا، لأن سقوط أول حجارة الدومينو الأوروبيّة في الحضن الروسيّ سيعني تلاحق التدحرج، وصولاً لسؤال أوروبي طرح ما بعد الانسحاب الأميركي من أفغانستان، حول جدوى الانضواء في ظلال حلف الناتو، وجدوى التحالف مع أميركا، وبدء النقاش بخيار أوروبي منفصل عن أميركا يضع مفاهيم مستقلة للأمن الأوروبي ومن ضمنها النظرة للعلاقات بروسيا، ومثل الجبهة الشمالية لآسيا، تبدو الجبهة الشرقيّة التي تمثلها الصين قد ثبتت موقعها كدولة أولى في العالم بنمو اقتصاديّ ثابت، مقابل نمو سلبي ترزح تحته كل دول الغرب، زاده تفاوت التفاعل مع آثار وباء كورونا صعوبة، وحققت الصين إنتاجاً إجمالياً بالأسعار الثابتة وبأصول ثابتة يزيد 50% عمّا حققته أميركا، حيث الناتج الإجمالي الوطني الأميركي 24 تريليون دولار منها عشرة فقط تعود للأصول الثابتة والباقي لحركة دفتريّة يمثلها الاقتصاد الافتراضيّ، بينما في الصين ناتج إجمالي بـ20 تريليون منها 15 لاقتصاد الأصول الثابتة، و5 للاقتصاد الافتراضيّ، وفيما ترزح واشنطن تحت عبء ديون بعشرات التريليونات، تفيض خزائن الصين بالسيولة النقدية، وفيما تتوسّع الصين في آسيا وصولاً نحو البحر المتوسط، تنكفئ أميركا من آسيا وتقاتل على أطراف المتوسط كي لا تجد نفسها خارجه.

تنظر واشنطن لتصاعد التوتر في جبهات المنطقة، ومحورها القلق من إيران من جهة والقلق على “إسرائيل” من جهة مقابلة، بعد سنوات تمتدّ لعقدين طويلين من الحروب، بصفتها جبهة خاسرة، لا أمل بتعديل الموازين فيها، خصوصاً بعد الحرب الضروس على سورية وما استُخدم فيها، ولأن التوصل لتسويات نهائية لملفات الصراع، يفتح باب البحث بحل القضية الفلسطينية الميؤوس من صياغة مقاربة تتحمّلها “إسرائيل” وترتضيها القوى التي تهدد أمنها، فالمطلوب نزع صواعق التفجير التي قد تفرض على واشنطن التورط في حرب، ولذلك يبدو قرار الانسحاب من العراق وسورية متخذاً مع وقف التنفيذ، وعنوانا الحرب المفترضين وسريعا الاشتعال هما، من جانب، تحول التجاذب الأميركي الإيراني حول الملف النووي إلى سبب للتفجير تخرج واشنطن منه أشد ضعفاً، ويُصاب حلفاؤها وفي مقدّمتهم “إسرائيل” بأضرار جسيمة، وربما وجودية،، ولا توقفه إلا العودة للاتفاق الموقع عام 2015. ومن جانب آخر تحول النزاع على ثروات النفط والغاز بين لبنان و”إسرائيل” إلى مدخل لتسييل التفوق العسكري لحزب الله في مواجهة مع “إسرائيل” تغيّر وجه المنطقة وربما تورط أميركا بالتدخل العسكريّ في حرب لا تريدها، ولا تثق بنتائجها. وبسحب هذين الصاعقين يعتقد صناع القرار في واشنطن أن الطريق تصبح سالكة نحو سحب القوات الأميركية من سورية والعراق، وصولاً لتوظيف التصعيد مع روسيا في فتح الباب لتفاوض يثبت خطوط النفوذ على أطراف أوروبا رغم ما فيه من تنازلات والتزامات حول مستقبل حلف الناتو، ليتم الانكفاء نحو الداخل الأميركي لأنه المكان الوحيد الذي يمكن من خلاله التفرّغ لمواجهة الصين.

الانتخابات النصفية الأميركية في الخريف، يجب أن تحل وإدارة الرئيس بايدن قد أنجزت الاتفاقات التي تنهي أزمة الملف النووي وترسيم الحدود البحرية للبنان من جهة، ودخلت التفاوض مع روسيا من جهة موازية، ما يتيح للرئيس جو بايدن الإعلان عن التفرغ لمواجهة الصين، وهو يضمن قدراً من الاستقرار والهدوء في المنطقة التي يغادرها مهزوماً، لكن في قالب إنجازات سياسية، ما يتيح الحصول على دعم اللوبي الصهيوني ولوبيات النفط الذي ستنخفض المخاطر عليه، ولوبيات السلاح الذي ستتدفق صفقاته على دول الخليج بمليارات الدولارات تحت شعار المساعدة على ردّ المخاطر.

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ELECTION SEASON NEARS IN THE UNITED STATES AS POLITICAL CRISIS GAINS TRACTION

 03.09.2021 

Election Season Nears In The United States As Political Crisis Gains Traction

The United States 2021 elections are drawing near, with the majority of them taking part on November 2nd, 2021.

Many are taking place on the surrounding days.

It is a volatile season, as the Democratic Party won the Presidential Elections in the face of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and holds a majority thanks to the vice president in the Congress.

In the House of Representatives, the Democrats hold the majority.

Interestingly, in the Senate the Republicans have 50 senators, but still Democrats hold majority with 48 senators, due to Kamala Harris swinging the vote.

Political instability was introduced in the United States following the fiasco that the withdrawal from Afghanistan turned into.

Americans were abandoned, Afghan allies were left behind, and an ISIS terror attack left 13 Americans and hundreds of Afghans dead.

This political instability didn’t simply appear out of nowhere with the fiasco in Afghanistan.

It was brewing when former President Donald Trump faced Joe Biden in the polls, and even before that.

This could also be a way to set the stage for Biden’s resignation, for health reasons or otherwise. A power grab is in order by Vice President Kamala Harris and the neoliberals she represents and whose interests she fights for.

Conservatives and traditionalists would surely come in the spotlight and receive quite a bit of negative attention focused at them. After all, they are the ones who elected Trump, and almost even re-elected him.

Various neoliberal movements, such as BLM and others will become the norm at Washington level, and that is when the true suppression attempts can begin.

This leading ideology will marginalize the states that are more conservative. There will likely be an ideology split within the United States, and even within singular states themselves.

Local authorities, as well as the local business elites and opinion leaders, will be strained, they will need to guide the population in one direction or another.

As a result, every state that’s strongly conservative or liberal will play a significant, leading role in the upcoming events ahead of the election, and after it.

If Texas remains strongly conservative, pro-Republican, as there is not even a Democrat candidate, it is likely that changes might be coming. Some states may wish for more independence in spending, development, legislation and more and be freed from some compulsory factors coming from Washington.

This doesn’t relate to a splitting of the federation into smaller countries, but rather a US in “two speeds”, similar to what is being observed in the European Union.

Texas is second in the US – second richest, and with its 29.1 million residents in 2020, is the second-largest U.S. state by both area and population. It is also a staple of conservatism and the Republican party, it promises to remain as such.

Naturally, the winner of the elections will become an important figure.

Currently, the governor of Texas is Greg Abbott, from the Republican Party.

Election Season Nears In The United States As Political Crisis Gains Traction

He seems like a rather conservative, but adequate leader of his state, with the population having a generally positive opinion of him.

It is an up-and-down, however.

Recently, the most radical abortion law in the US has gone into effect, despite legal efforts to block it.

A near-total abortion ban in Texas empowers any private citizen to sue an abortion provider who violates the law, opening the floodgates to harassing and frivolous lawsuits from anti-abortion vigilantes that could eventually shutter most clinics in the state.

Senate Bill 8 ushered through the Republican-dominated Texas legislature and signed into law by the Republican governor, Greg Abbott, in May, bars abortion once embryonic cardiac activity is detected, which is around six weeks, and offers no exceptions for rape or incest.

He is also widely considered to have failed the COVID-19 pandemic. Texas was also woefully unprepared for the freezing cold, and citizens were left without power and heat for days.

Still, despite controversy, he is the favorite.

When CPAC, the nation’s leading conservative political conference, met in Dallas earlier this month, speakers included former Dallas state Sen. Don Huffines. And while Huffines bashed President Biden, he spent most of his time on stage blasting a fellow Republican: Gov. Greg Abbott.

Huffines invoked the story of the Alamo and praised Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, then said:

“Well, we don’t have a Donald Trump as governor. We don’t have Ron DeSantis as governor. We don’t have William B. Travis as governor. Unfortunately, we’ve got a career politician that’s a political windsock, a RINO (Republican in name only.)”

Abbott, citing the kickoff of the legislative special session, wasn’t there to defend himself. Huffines used his absence against him, attacking Abbott’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He doesn’t want to face you,” Huffines said, “because he shredded our constitution. He put 3 million Texans on unemployment and dependent on the government in one day.”

But Huffines wasn’t just speaking out of passion. He’s also one of two candidates challenging Abbott as the governor seeks a third term in 2022. The other: former Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West, who’s made many of the same charges against Abbott’s pandemic response.

Essentially, the situation in Texas is such – the Republican party, more or less, has the victory certain. The favorite appears to be Greg Abbott, but his two main competitors are also from the Republican party.

The two main candidates: Don Huffines and Allen West are simply pushing the same platform, and want to win over the state away from Abbott, who has gone rogue, according to them.

There’s little to mention about West, he simply wants to “overthrow” Abbott, and he even gave up on the chairmanship of the Republican Party in Texas for the purpose. Both him and Huffines are on the same “team”.

In the case of Huffines, experts say that he didn’t win his own seat when he ran for Senate (in 2018), and it’s a seat that was more Republican than the state as a whole when he lost it. It is unlikely that this time he would have success.

Still, when he announced his campaign, he made no mention of Abbott.

It took aim at “politicians who offer nothing but excuses and lies” and promised to take on the “entrenched elites of the Austin swamp.” In promising more decisive action, Huffines said Texas needs to “finally finish the [border] wall” and that he would put the state “on a path to eliminating property taxes.”

Huffines was a strident conservative in the Senate. His announcement highlighted his record on issues important to the right, as well as his successful push to shut down the Dallas Public Schools bus agency amid reports of financial mismanagement there.

He got to the Senate in 2015 after unseating Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, in the primary, attacking him as too moderate. But the Dallas-based Senate District 16 swung toward Democrats under former President Donald Trump, and Johnson beat Huffines by 8 percentage points in 2018.

Huffines stayed politically active after leaving the Senate and especially so in the past year, as conservative angst simmered over Abbott’s pandemic management. Even then, Huffines has an interesting family connection to the governor’s circle: His brother is James Huffines, whom Abbott tapped last spring to chair the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas.

Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson said the odds are that Republicans will ultimately get everything they’re pushing in the current special session, even if it takes several more special sessions to get those priorities passed.

“Right now, the Republicans have the Democrats strung up by their thumbs with their feet barely touching the ground,” Jillson said. “I think the Republicans are going to win on the substance, and how the Democrats frame their eventual loss very much will determine whether or not the two bases are equally energized by this fight or one is energized more than the other.”

In his most recent gubernatorial race in 2018, Abbott won with 55.8% of the vote.

Abbott has money too.

He’s sitting on a war chest of $55 million.

But despite rampant rumors that former Congressman Beto O’Rourke or even actor Matthew McConaughey will get into the race, Democrats still don’t have a declared candidate for governor.

Still, the Democrats appear to have given up on Texas, as there is no candidate, two months prior to election.

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a news conference following an online meeting of the BRICS Foreign Ministers Council, Moscow, September 4, 2020

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a news conference following an online meeting of the BRICS Foreign Ministers Council, Moscow, September 4, 2020

September 05, 2020

A full-format online meeting of the BRICS foreign ministers has ended. This is the second such meeting this year under Russia’s chairmanship.

The first was dedicated exclusively to mobilising efforts to effectively prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection.

Today, we discussed a wide range of international issues and key items on the agenda of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly as well as our practical cooperation among the five member states.

We have adopted a detailed and appropriate final communiqué. You can read it, so I will not dwell on the key international matters that the communiqué covers in detail.

I would like to note that the communiqué reaffirms the BRICS’ commitment to the principles of multilateralism, reliance on international law and resolving conflicts exclusively through political and diplomatic means and according to the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. Once again, we resolutely supported the central role of the UN in the search for collective answers to the challenges and threats facing humanity.

In this year of the 75th anniversary of Victory in World War II, we noted the importance of preserving the historical memory of this tragedy’s lessons in order to avoid repeating it in the future. We unanimously condemned any and all manifestations of Nazism, racism and xenophobia. The corresponding resolution that is adopted annually by the UN General Assembly is traditionally supported by all BRICS countries.

We agreed to strengthen and promote our strategic partnership in all key areas of BRICS activities, such as politics and security, the economy and finance, and cultural ties.

We are grateful to our friends for supporting Russia’s chairmanship of the Five under rather difficult circumstances, when direct international communication, face-to-face communication, has, in fact, been put on hold. Nevertheless, using modern technology, we have managed to carry out most of the planned activities. We have had over 50 activities and as many will take place before the end of the year. We have every reason to believe (our partners also mentioned this today) that all of the Russian chairmanship’s plans with regard to the BRICS activities will be fulfilled.

We have reached a number of practical agreements, including the one to promote investment and to support the effective participation of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in international trade. Our respective ministries have adopted a joint statement in support of the multilateral trade system and WTO reform. Another important document, the Memorandum of Cooperation in the Competition Policy, was renewed for another term. Our development banks have agreed on an action plan for innovation and blockchain working groups. Other ministries and departments continue to work energetically.

Most of these initiatives are being drafted with an eye to approving them during the next summit, which is scheduled to be held in Russia in the autumn. We will determine the dates later based on the epidemiological situation.

These are the main results. Once again, the communiqué that we have circulated will provide a great deal of interesting information.

Question: The year in which Russia was the BRICS chair has been fairly difficult. The pandemic has taken its toll on every area. What did you manage to accomplish this year in BRICS? What kind of meetings and statements can we expect before 2020 runs out?

Sergey Lavrov: I partially talked about these issues when I presented the main results of our meeting today. To reiterate, we consider it critically important to have reached an agreement on a number of issues.

This includes a package of documents devoted to trade and investment, encouraging small-, medium- and micro-businesses to participate in international trade, strengthening cooperation between banks (central banks and development banks in our respective countries), and the active work of the New Development Bank, which was created by the leaders of the BRICS countries and is operating successfully.) By the way, the Eurasian Regional Centre of the New Development Bank will open in Russia in October.

The agreements concerning the prevention of new challenges and threats are notable as well. A very powerful document on counter-terrorism has been agreed upon and will be submitted for approval by the heads of state. The activities to combat drug trafficking and drug crime have been resumed. Our joint cybersecurity efforts are on the rise. This is a critical area to which we pay special attention.

Notably, special attention was paid to Russia’s initiatives, which were presented a year ago, and that supplemen BRICS’ activities with two new formats. I’m referring to the Women’s Business Alliance (it has been effectively created and is about to go live) and the Energy Research Platform, which is designed to encourage the research community’s involvement in the practical activities on drawing up energy resource plans. Two major events have taken place as part of the Energy Research Platform. Their results will also be submitted for consideration by the heads of state.

Question: You have repeatedly mentioned the importance of international cooperation in combating the coronavirus. China and Russia are now working to develop their own COVID-19 vaccine. China has officially announced its plans to strengthen cooperation in vaccine research and development.

What is your take on the prospects for possible cooperation between China and Russia in vaccine development and production? To what extent will cooperation between the two countries help ensure access to vaccines for other countries in need of support, including the BRICS members?

Sergey Lavrov: Today, we confirmed that this area remains a BRICS priority. Russia and China’s partners (India, Brazil and South Africa) actively supported Moscow and Beijing’s efforts in this regard. All of them appreciated the statements made by our Chinese colleague and myself to the effect that we are interested in the broadest possible cooperation, including with the participation of our BRICS friends. Notably, the coronavirus has by no means initiated the motivation for BRICS cooperation in this area. Interaction began much earlier. The first document on this subject was adopted at the BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia, in 2015, when the heads of the BRICS states put forward an initiative to establish cooperation in combating infectious diseases. Then, at the 2018 South Africa Summit, our South African partners advanced an initiative to establish a vaccine development and research centre. So, this work has been ongoing for the past five years, even before the coronavirus infection posed very difficult problems for us.

Thanks to the visionary decisions adopted at the earlier summits, the BRICS countries were well prepared and are now able to mobilise their full potential in the face of the coronavirus infection.

Russia’s additional initiatives introduced this year have been reviewed and approved. One of them concerns the creation of an early warning system for epidemiological threats. The other proposes developing specific steps for the legal regulation of medical products which will certainly improve our ability to cope with the coronavirus now and prepare for the fact that we will most likely have to deal with similar challenges more than once in the future. So, BRICS is among the leaders in developing measures to prevent such epidemics and to deal with the aftereffects.

Question:  How will statements that we’ve heard in the past two days from Berlin on the issue of Alexei Navalny influence the strategic dialogue between Russia and Europe? Today, NATO urged Russia to fully open its file on Novichok to the   OPCW. Who is now interested in a crime scenario on Navalny’s poisoning?

Sergey Lavrov: Representatives of the Presidential Executive Office and the Foreign Ministry have already made statements on this issue. We have nothing to hide. Let me recall again that as soon as Navalny felt unwell on the plane it landed immediately. An ambulance was waiting for him in the airport and he was instantly taken to hospital, switched to an artificial lung ventilator and given other necessary measures. As I understand it, Navalny spent a bit more than a day and a half there. During this time, we were urged every hour to explain what happened and report any information immediately.

For over a week after he was taken to Germany, no one who raised a concern during his stay in Omsk has expressed interest in his case or loudly demanded information from the German doctors. We don’t have new information on this up to this day. It’s the same old story: we are publicly accused of something and our official requests for answers to specific questions from the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office, under legal assistance treaties, remain unanswered. German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has been accusing us for two days of this action (ostensibly, the poisoning) but cannot present anything specific. Today, we once again asked our colleagues in the EU and Germany whether Ms Merkel plans to instruct her staff to send the German Justice Ministry’s response to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office inquiry.

I already have to say out loud that we have information that this reply is being delayed due to the position of the German Foreign Ministry. We have instructed the Russian Ambassador to Germany to ask for a reason for the delay. Today we were at least promised that the reply would come soon. We will react when we receive it with specific facts. As I see it, the Germans believe their reply will contain these facts. Let me repeat that, regrettably, all this brings to mind what happened with the Skripals and other incidents where Russia was groundlessly accused and the results of the investigation (that took place in Britain in the latter case) remain classified. Nobody sees the Skripals themselves.

I would like to remind you that when, on the wave of this Russophobic hysteria over the Skripals, our British colleagues compelled most EU countries to expel our diplomats (to which Moscow certainly responded), we confidentially asked the EU members whether the Brits presented any facts in addition to what they publicly reported in the media. We received a negative answer. Facts were not presented but they asked to expel our diplomats and promised that specific information would be provided later. I am not being lazy and whenever I meet with my colleagues, I ask them about the Skripals case when they expelled Russian diplomats based on London’s parole of honour and followed its appeal. I ask them whether they were given the promised specific information in addition to what was publicly mentioned and they again said “no.” Nobody has given any information to anyone.

This is why we now approach such high-flown, dramatic statements by our Western colleagues with a large dose of scepticism. We’ll see what facts they present. I think this public conduct and such haughty, arrogant demands made in a tone that our Western partners allow themselves shows that there is little to present except artificially fueled pathetics.

Question: The Ukrainian foreign minister said that the foreign ministers of Germany and France seek to hold a Normandy format foreign minister meeting in September. According to him, you have no objections to this. Is that right?

Sergey Lavrov: The Foreign Ministry has already responded to this question. If someone wants to meet, let them meet. We have not discussed any such matter. We are now talking about preparing a meeting of foreign policy advisers to the Normandy format leaders. Nobody said anything specific about a meeting of foreign ministers, because, I think, they are well aware of our position. First, we need to act upon what the leaders of our countries agreed on in Paris in December 2019. There has been little progress so far. We only see more problems in connection with the constant worsening of the Ukrainian authorities’ position with regard to their commitment to implementing the Minsk agreements.

Question: Yesterday, it became known that the Democrats in the United States demanded immediate imposition of sanctions on Russia in connection with the upcoming US presidential election in November. They are referring to intelligence that says that Russia can allegedly intervene. What can you tell us about this?

Sergey Lavrov: We have been hearing accusations that Russia is interfering in US presidential elections for many years now. It has now become a kind of a game of who is interfering more: Russia, China or Iran? A US national intelligence official recently said that China is interfering more than Russia or Iran. So, grown-up people have been playing these games for a long time now, and this does not surprise us. Sometimes, though, we can’t help but be surprised. I’m referring to recent accusations against Russia to the effect that we are trying to abuse or use in the interest of a particular candidate the planned voting by mail in the United States. I was surprised by this accusation, because until then I thought that voting by mail was part of the differences between President Trump, who outright refuses to allow this type of vote to be held, and the Democrats, who want to use voting by mail as much as possible.

Truth be told, we are used to these attacks. In this case, as in the case of poisonings and other situations in different countries, we will respond to specific facts, if they are presented to us. We keep telling our partners – Americans and Europeans alike – if you have any concern about anything, especially cybersecurity, which has become a particularly common subject for accusations and reproaches against us, let’s sit down and review your facts. We are ready to do so. Unfortunately, our partners in the United States and the EU shun direct conversations based on professional analysis of available facts. We are ready for this, and we encourage our colleagues to do so. They should stop living in the past reminiscing about the colonial era and considering themselves smarter and mightier than others and start working on the basis of what they signed in 1945, namely, the UN Charter principles, including equality, balance of interests and joint and honest work. We are ready for this.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

في وجه الحرب الأمنيّة: الردّ هو الصمود…

د. عصام نعمان

ليس سراً ان الولايات المتحدة، بضغط من «إسرائيل»، تشنّ حرباً أمنية ضد الأعداء والخصوم على امتداد غرب آسيا، من شواطئ البحر الابيض المتوسط غرباً الى شواطئ بحر قزوين شرقاً. يُقصد بالحرب الأمنية مجموعة هجمات متكاملة قوامها عمليات استخبارية، وعقوبات اقتصادية، وصدامات أهلية، وصراعات مذهبية، وتفجيرات وحرائق تستهدف مرافق عامة حيوية وموجودات عالية القيمة والأهمية.

أشدّ هجمات الحرب الأمنية الأميركية قسوة تركّزت في إيران، تليها عدداً وأهمية تلك التي تستهدف لبنان بما هو منطلق لحزب الله. في إيران استهدفت الهجمات الاميركية مواقع لها صلة ببرنامجها النووي (موقع نطنز) وبالقوة البحرية (مرفأ بوشهر) وغيرها من المواقع والمرافق الحيوية. لوحظ في كل هذه الهجمات ان للسلاح السيبراني دوراً وازناً فيها.

إيران أعلنت عزمها على الردّ اذا ما ثبت لديها ان لأميركا و«إسرائيل» صلة بهذه الهجمات. خبير عسكري مقرّب من أحد أطراف محور المقاومة أكدّ أنّ إيران باشرت فعلاً الردّ على الهجمات الأميركية. ذكّر محاوريه بأنه سبق لـِ «إسرائيل» أن اتهمت إيران قبل أقلّ من شهر بأنها استعملت وسائل سيبرانية في هجومها على شبكات المياه في قلب الكيان.

ثانية الساحات استهدافاً من الولايات المتحدة هي لبنان. هنا الاستهداف يعتمد وسائل وتدابير اقتصادية، ويضاعف ضغوطه السياسية ويستغلّ بلا هوادة الصراعات السياسية والطائفية بين اللاعبين المحليين، كما المشاكل الاقتصادية والمالية التي تعانيها البلاد.

كثيرة هي التحديات التي تواجه اللبنانيين، مسؤولين ومواطنين. غير أنّ أشدّها ضراوة وخطراً ثلاثة: الانهيار الماليّ والاقتصاديّ، والحكم المزمع صدوره عن المحكمة الخاصة بلبنان في لاهاي في 7 آب/ أغسطس المقبل بحق المتهمين باغتيال رئيس الوزراء الراحل رفيق الحريري، وقرار مجلس الأمن الدولي المزمع صدوره أواخرَ الشهر المقبل بصدد تجديد مهمة قوات الأمم المتحدة «يونيفيل» (أو تعديلها) التي تقوم بمراقبة وقف إطلاق النار بين لبنان و«إسرائيل» وفقاً لأحكام القرار الأممي 1701.

حيال تحدي الانهيار المالي والاقتصادي، تباشر واشنطن ضغوطاً شديدة على طرفين محليين من جهة، ومن جهة أخرى على صندوق النقد الدولي لحمله على إحباط أمل الحكومة اللبنانية بالحصول منه على دعم مالي وازن. كما تضغط على الحكومة والقوى التي تساندها للتصرف بمعزل عن حزب الله الذي يشارك فيها بوزير للصحة العامة وآخر للصناعة، وتضغط على القوى السياسية، لا سيما المعارضة منها، للمطالبة بتحييد لبنان إزاء الصراعات الإقليمية والدولية وصولاً الى تجريد حزب الله، أي المقاومة، من السلاح أو إبعاده في الأقلّ عن ايّ صيغة حكومية حاضراً ومستقبلاً.

إذ تبدي قوى المعارضة السياسية وخصوم حزب الله تأييداً فاقعاً لشعار تحييد لبنان وتستظل البطريرك الماروني بشارة الراعي كرأس حربة في الضغط سياسياً وشعبياً لتحقيقه، يرفض الرئيسان ميشال عون وحسان دياب والقوى السياسية الداعمة لهما ولحزب الله المساس بسلاح المقاومة بما هو ضمانة لحماية لبنان من الاعتداءات الإسرائيلية المتواصلة. وعلى كلّ حال لا يشكّل تحييد لبنان تحدّياً راهناً طالما أنّ البطريرك الراعي قال أخيراً إنه لا يصحّ إلا بوجود دولة قوية وعادلة، وهو أمر غير متوافر حالياً.

الحكم المنتظر صدوره عن المحكمة الخاصة بلبنان في قضية اغتيال رفيق الحريري يبدو أكثر حساسية وخطورة لكونه سيُستخدم أداةً للتعبئة الطائفيّة، لا سيما في أوساط أهل السنّة والجماعة، سواء قضى بتجريم المتهمين او بتبرئتهم. وفي هذه الحالة فإنّ الهدف المرشح دائماً للتصويب عليه هو حزب الله الذي يأمل خصومه بإضعافه وحمل حلفائه تالياً على التخلي عنه وإبعاده عن الحكومة. المقول إنّ حزب الله لن يكترث لحكم المحكمة الخاصة أياً كان مضمونه، وإنّ حلفاءه لن يتخلوا عنه لأن لا مصلحة لهم في ذلك.

التحدي الناجم عن قرار مجلس الأمن المنتظر بشأن تجديد مهمة قوات «اليونيفيل» العاملة في جنوب لبنان لا يقلّ حساسية وخطورة عن التحديين سالفيْ الذكر. ذلك أن أميركا، بضغط متواصل من «إسرائيل»، تريد تعديل مضمون مهمة القوات الأممية لتتيح لها مراقبة ً أفعل لحزب الله وذلك بدخول منازل الأهلين من دون ان ترافقها وحدات من الجيش اللبناني، وبإقامة أبراج مراقبة وتجهيزها بوسائل سيبرانية لتمكينها من توسيع مراقبتها لتحركات أنصار حزب الله، كما بتوسيع نطاق مهمتها بحيث تشمل الحدود بين لبنان وسورية ايضاً.

لبنان، على ما يبدو، استحصل على ضمانات من روسيا والصين برفض محاولات أميركا تعديل مهمة «اليونيفيل» من جهة، ومن جهة أخرى لا يبدو حزب الله مكترثاً بكل محاولات أميركا على هذا الصعيد حتى لو أدى الأمر الى إنهاء مهمة «اليونيفيل» لكونها، اولاً وآخراً، مبرمجة لخدمة «إسرائيل».

اذ تشتدّ وطأة التحديات والأزمات والضغوط السياسية والاقتصادية والأمنية على خصوم الولايات المتحدة في غرب آسيا، لا سيما أطراف محور المقاومة، ينهض سؤال: ما العمل؟

يقول مسؤولون في دول محور المقاومة، كما خبراء مقرّبون منهم إنّ الولايات المتحدة لن تخفف البتة من وطأة حربها الأمنية على أطراف المحور المذكور قبل حلول موعد الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية في مطلع تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر المقبل. إنها مرحلة انتقالية حساسة لا تسمح للرئيس ترامب، المنشغل بطموح ملتهب لتجديد ولايته في ظروف داخلية غير مؤاتية له، بالإقدام على أيّ عمل غير مأمون العواقب لئلا ينعكس سلباً على وضعه الانتخابي. كما لا تسمح الظروف الدقيقة نفسها لأطراف محور المقاومة بالردّ على أميركا و«إسرائيل» بعمليات قاسية لئلا تؤدي تداعياتها الى خدمة كلٍّ من ترامب ونتنياهو المستميتين للبقاء في السلطة.

الصمود في المواقف، والصمود في أساليب الردّ بالمثل على الأعداء هو الجواب الأجدى والأفعل في المرحلة الانتقالية.

هل من خيار آخر…؟

*نائب ووزير سابق.

There Is a Dark and Dangerous Forest Behind These Burning Trees…

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 • JULY 14, 2020


Roughly half-way through the year 2020 it is becoming pretty obvious that there are a number of major developments which almost got our total attention, and for good reason, as these are tectonic shifts which truly qualify as “catastrophe” (under the definition “a violent and sudden change in a feature of the earth“). These are:
  • The initiation of the global collapse of the AngloZionist Empire.
  • The immense economic bubble whose ever-growing size is the best predictor of the magnitude of the huge burst it will inevitably result in.
  • The implosion of the US society due to a combination of several and profound systemic crises (economic collapse, racial tensions, mass poverty, alienation of the masses, absence of social protections, etc.).
  • The COVID-19 (aka “it’s just like the seasonal flu!!“) pandemic which only exacerbates all the other major factors listed above.
  • Last, but not least, it is hard to imagine what the next US Presidential election will look like, but one thing is certain: by November we will already have a perfect storm – the election will only act like a battery which will feed even more energy into this already perfect storm.
To be sure, these are truly momentous, historical, developments whose importance cannot be over-stated. They are, however, not the only very serious developments. There are, in fact, several areas of serious political tensions which could also result in a major explosion, albeit a regional one “only”!
I will list just a few, beginning with the most visible one:

Turkey

Erdogan is up to no good. Again. What a big surprise, right? Every time I hear somebody writing something about Erdogan the dreaming of becoming the sultan of a new Ottoman Empire, I tend to roll my eyes as this is a cliche. Yet, there is no denial that this cliche is true – the neo-Ottoman ideology is definitely alive and well in Turkey and Erdogan clearly wants to “ride that horse”. So let’s list some of the things which the Turks have been up to:
  1. Syria: The Turks have clearly been dragging their feet in northern Syria where, at least according to the deal Erdogan made with Putin, the “bad terrorists” should have left a long time ago and the key highway should have been under the joint protection of the Russian and Turkish forces. Well, Turkey did some of this, but not all, and the “bad terrorists” are still very much present in northern Syria. In fact, they recently tried to attack the Russian Aerospace Forces base in Khmeimim (they failed, but that is still something which the Turks have to answer for since the attack came from a zone they control). Protecting terrorists in exchange for promises of immunity from their attacks has been tried many times in the past and it has never worked – sooner or later the terrorist groups always slip out of the control of their masters and even turn against them. This is now happening to Turkey.
  2. Libya: The Turks are also deeply involved in the Libyan civil war. In fact, “deeply involved” does not give enough credit to the Turkish military which used Turkish-made drones with devastating effectiveness against the forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, the commander of the Tobruk-based Libyan National Army (which is backed by both Russia and Egypt). Only the prompt (and rather mysterious) deployment of Russian air defenses and a number of unidentified MiG-29s succeeded in eventually bringing down enough Turkish drones to force them to take a pause. The Egyptians have made it clear that they will never allow the so-called “Government of National Accord” to take Sirte or any land East of Sirte. The Libyan Parliament (of East Libya) has now given Egypt the official authorization to directly intervene in Libya. This makes some kind of Egyptian intervention an almost certain thing.
  3. Hagia Sophia: And just to make sure there are enough sources of tension, the Turks have now declared that the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul will no longer be a museum open to all, but a mosque. Now the CIA-puppet modestly known as “His Most Divine All-Holiness the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch” Bartholomew should be the most vocal opponent to this move, but all he can do is mumble some irrelevancies (he wanted to go down as the Patriarch who patronized the Ukrainian schism and, instead, he will go down in history as the Patriarch who did nothing to prevent the Ottomans from seizing one of the holiest sites of the Orthodox world. Truth be told, he probably could not have prevented that (Erdogan’s move is entirely due to upcoming elections in Turkey) – but he sure could have tried a little better. Ditto for the head of the Moscow Patriarchate (and, for that matter, the Russian government) who expressed stuff like concern, or dismay, of some form of condemnation, but who really did nothing to make Erdogan pay for his move.
What the Turks just did is a disgrace, not only for Turkey itself which, yet again, proves that the Ottoman version of Islam is a particularly toxic and dangerous one. It is also a disgrace for the entire Muslim world which, with a few notable exceptions such as Sheikh Imran Hosein, has done nothing to prevent this and, if anything, has approved of this move. Finally, this is a disgrace for the entire Orthodox world as it proves that the entire worldwide Orthodox community has less relevance and importance in the eyes of the Turkish leader than the outcome of local elections. Russia, especially, would have the kind of political muscle needed to inflict all sorts of painful forms of retaliation against Turkey and yet Russia does nothing. This is a sad witness to the extreme weakness of the Orthodox faith in the modern world.
Add to this all the “traditional” sources of instability around Turkey, including the still unsolved (and unsolvable!) Kurdish issue, the tensions between Turkey and Iraq and Iran, Turkish low-key support for anti-Russian factions in the various former Soviet Republics and the constant confrontation with Greece).
Turkey remains one of the most dangerous states on the planet, even if most people remain unaware of this. True, in the recent years Turkey lost a lot of its power, but it still has plenty of formidable assets (including a very strong domestic weapon systems manufacturing capability) which it can use for a vast spectrum of nefarious political and military interventions.

Egypt

Egypt is another country which regularly makes some headlines and then disappears from the public’s radar. Yet, right now, Egypt is faced not with one, but with twopossible wars!
  1. Libya: as I mentioned above, should it come to an open clash between Turkey and Egypt in Libya, there could be a rapid horizontal escalation in which initial military clashes in Libya could turn into clashes over the Eastern Mediterranean and even possible strikes on key military objectives in Turkey and Egypt. The only good news here is that there are a lot of major actors who do not need a shooting war in the Eastern Mediterranean and/or the Middle-East. After all, if it came to a true military confrontation between Turkey and Egypt, then you can be pretty sure that NATO, CENTCOM, Greece, Israel and Russia would all have major concerns. Besides, it is hard to imagine what kind of military “victory” either Turkey or Egypt could hope for. Right now the situation is very tense, but we can hope that all the parties will realize that a negotiated solution, even a temporary one, is preferable to a full-scale war.
  2. Ethiopia: Egypt has a potentially much bigger problem than Libya to deal with: the construction by Ethiopia of the “The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam(GERD)” on the Blue Nile river. While nobody really knows what the eventual impact of this dam will be on Sudan and Egypt, is is pretty clear that a civilization built along the Nile river will face a major threat to its way of life if the way the Nile river flows is disturbed in a major way (which this dam will definitely do).
Of the two possible conflicts I mentioned above, it is the second one which has me most worried. At the end of the day, neither Turkey nor Egypt will get to decide what happens in Libya which is mostly a kind of multi-player “chessboard” where “big guys” (US, France, Russia) will eventually decide the outcome. In the case of the dam in Ethiopia, the local actors will probably have a decisive say, especially since both sides consider that this is an existentially important issue for them.
If you look at a map of the region, you will see that the distance between the Egyptian border and the location of the dam on the border between Ethiopia and Sudan is a long one (about 1’200km or 745 miles). Should it come to a military confrontation between the two countries, this distance will pretty much decide the shape of the warfare we shall see: mainly air and missile strikes. The main problem here (for both sides) is that neither side has the kind of air force or missiles which would allow it to effectively strike the other country. This, however, could change very rapidly, especially if Russia does sell 24 of its advanced Su-35 multi-role air superiority fighters to Egypt, and even more so if Russia throws in a few capable air-to-ground strike missiles into the package (the delivery of the first Sukhois appears to be imminent). Then there is this “minor detail” of Sudan being stuck between the two combatants: Khartoum simply cannot look away and pretend like all is well if two of its major neighbors decide to fight each other over Sudanese airspace.
In theory Egypt could also try to mount some attack from the Red Sea, but right now the Egyptian Navy does not pack the kind of punch which would allow it to effectively strike Ethiopia (especially with Eritrea in between the Red Sea and Ethiopia). But that could also change, especially since Egypt agreed to purchase the two Gamal Abdel Nasser (ex-Mistral) class amphibious assault ships and helicopter carriers which, while not ideal, would definitely boost the Egyptian’s command and control capabilities, especially if the Egyptians succeed in deploying AWACS and strike aircraft (rotary or even light fixed wing V/STOL) on these ships. In practice, however, I think that the Egyptians could engage these ships much more effectively in Libya than they would in the Red Sea (especially since these ships are poorly defended against missile strikes).
Finally, not only is the GERD defended by decent air defense systems (along with a few decent, if aging, air force aircraft), a dam is a pretty hard target to disable: it is big, strong, and has a large volume which, by itself, also contributes to the “hardness” against attacks.
So there are reasons to hope that a conflict can be avoided, but it will be very hard to get the two sides to agree to compromises on issues which both sides see as vital to their national security.

The Ukraine

Yes, the Ukraine. Again. This insanity which began with the Euromaidan has not stopped, far from it. In fact, ever since the election of Zelenskii the Ukraine has become something of a madhouse which would be outright hilariously comical if it wasn’t also so tragic and even horrible for millions of Ukrainians. I will spare you all the details, but we can sum up the main development of the past months as “Zelenskii has completely lost control of the country”. But that would not even begin to cover the reality of this situation.
For one thing, the war of words between Trump and Biden over the Ukraine-gate has now “infected” the Ukrainian political scene and each side is now busy with what is known locally as “black PR”: trying to dig up as much dirt against your opponent as possible. Zelenskii is so weak that, amazingly, the previously almost totally discredited Poroshenko has now made a strong comeback and thereby acquired the support of a lot of influential nationalists. The latest incredible (but true!) “informational bomb” was set off by a member of the Ukrainian Rada, Andrei Derkach, who released a recording of Joe Biden and Poroshenko discussing the pros and cons of organizing a terrorist attack in Crimea (see here for details about this amazing story). This makes both Biden and Poroshenko “sponsors of terrorism” (hardly a surprise, but still). Other “juicy” news stories about the Nazi-occupied Banderastan include Zelenskii possibly fathering a kid with an aide and the brutal attacks on the members of a small (but growing) “Sharii” opposition party which the authorities not only ignored, but most likely ordered in the first place. It is not my purpose here to discuss all the toxic intricacies of internal Ukronazi politics, so I will only look at one of the major dangers resulting from this dynamic: there is talk of war with Russia again.
Okay, we have all heard the very same rumors for years now, and yet no real and sustained Ukrainian attack on the LDNR or, even less so, Crimea ever took place (there were constant artillery strikes and diversionary attacks, but those remain below the threshold of open warfare). But what we hear today is a little bit different: an increasing number of Ukrainian and even Polish observers have declared that Russia would attack this summer or in September, possibly using military maneuvers to move forces to the Ukrainian border and attack. Depending on whom you ask, such an attack could come from Belarus and/or from central Russia – some even worry about a Russian amphibious operation against the Ukrainian coastline and cities like Mariupol, Nikolaev, Kherson or Odessa.
The Ukronazis are truly amazing. First they cut off all the electricity and even water from Crimea, and then they declare that Russia will have to invade to retake control of the water supply. The notion that Russia will solve Crimea’s water problem by peaceful and technological means is, apparently, quite unthinkable for the Ukronazi leaders. In the real world, however, Russia has a comprehensive program to comprehensively solve Crimea’s water problems. This program has begun by laying down water pipes, improving of the irrigation system of Crimea, the use of special aircraft to trigger rain and might even include the creation of a desalination plant. The simple truth is that Russia can easily make Crimea completely independent from anything Ukrainian.
And just to make things worse, the head of the Ukrainian Navy (which exists on paper mostly) has now declared that a new Ukrainian missile, the Neptune, could reach as far as Sevastopol. The problem is not the missile itself (it is a modernized version of an old Soviet design, and it is slow and therefore easy to shoot down), but the kind of “mental background noise” that this kind of talk of war creates.
From a purely military point of view, Russia does not even have to move any troops to defeat the Ukrainian armed forces: all Russia needs to do is to use its powerful long-range stand-off weapons and reconnaissance-strike complexes to first decapitate, then disorganize and finally destroy the Ukrainian military. Russia’s superiority in the air, on the water and on land is such that the Ukrainians don’t have a chance in hell to survive such an attack, nevermind defeating Russia. The Ukrainians all know that since, after all, their entire military could not even deal with the (comparatively) minuscule and infinitely weaker LDNR forces (at least when compared to regular Russian forces).
Still, the Ukrainians have one advantage over Russia: while this would be extremely dangerous to try, they must realize that, unlike in the case of their attacks on the Donbass, should they dare to attack Crimea, President Putin would not have any other option than to order a retaliatory strike of some sort. Any Ukrainian attack or strike on Crimea would probably fail with all the missiles intercepted long before they could reach their targets, but even in this case the pressure on Putin to put an end to this would be huge. Which means that it would not be incorrect to say that whoever is in power in Kiev can force Russia to openly intervene. This means that in this specific case the weaker side can have at least some degree of escalation dominance.
Now the Ukraine definitely cannot achieve strategic surprise and is even most unlikely to achieve tactical surprise, but, again, the actual success of any Ukrainian strike on Crimea does not require the designated targets of the strike to be destroyed: all that would be needed, in some plans at least, is the ability to do two things:
  • Force Russia to openly intervene and
  • Choose the time, place and mode of attack most problematic for the Russian side
Finally, I would suggest that we look at this issue from the point of view of the AngloZionist Empire: in many, if not most, ways, the Banderastan the West created in the Ukraine has outlived its utility: the USN won’t get a base in Crimea which is now lost forever (it is now one of the best defended places on the planet), Russia has not openly intervened in the civil war, the Ukronazi forces were comprehensively trounced by the Novorussians and in economic terms, and the Ukraine is nothing but one big black hole with an ever growing event horizon. Which might suggest to some in the US ruling elites that to trigger a losing war against Russia might be the best (and, possibly, only) thing their ugly creation could do for them. Why?
Well, for one thing, such a war will be bloody, even if it is short. Second, since the Russians are exceedingly unlikely to want to occupy any part of what is today the Nazi-occupied Ukraine, this means that even a total military defeat would not necessarily result in a complete disappearance of the current Banderastan. Yes, more regions in the East and the South might try to use this opportunity to rise up and liberate themselves, and should that happen Russia might offer the kind of help she offered the Novorussians, but I don’t think that anybody seriously believes that Russian tanks will be seen on Kiev or, even less so, Lvov (nevermind Warsaw or Riga). So a military loss against Russia would not be a total loss for Banderastan and it might even yield some beneficial dynamics to whatever consolidated Ukronazi-power might come out from such a conflict. Actually, should that happen I fully expect the Ukronazis to declare a kind of jihad to liberate the Moskal’ -occupied Ukraine. This means that the initial bloodbath would be followed by a festering low to medium level military conflict between Russia and the Ukraine which could last a very long time and also be most undesirable for Russia.
During my studies I had the honor and privilege to study with a wonderful Colonel of the Pakistani Army who became a good friend. One day (that was around 1991) I asked my friend what the Pakistani strategy would be during a possible war against India. He replied to me: “look, we all know that India is much stronger and bigger than Pakistan, but what we all also know is that if they attack us we can give them a very bloody nose”. This is exactly what the Ukrainian strategy might be: to give Russia a “bloody nose”. Militarily, this is impossible, of course, but in political terms any open war against the Ukraine would be a disaster for Russia. It would also be a disaster for the Ukraine, but the puppet-masters of the Ukronazis in Kiev don’t care about the people of the Ukraine anymore than they care about the people of Russia: all they want is to give the Russians a big bloody nose.
In summary, here is one possible scenario which might result in a regional catastrophe: whoever is in power in the Ukraine would begin by realizing that the project of an Ukronazi Banderastan has already failed and that neither the EU nor, even less so, the US is willing to continue to toss money into the Ukie black hole. Furthermore, clever Ukie politicians will realize that neither Poroshenko nor Zelensii have “delivered” the expected “goods” to the Empire. Then the East-European US vassal-states (lead by Poland and the Baltic statelets) also realize that EU money is running out and that far from having achieved any real economic progress (nevermind any “miracle”), they are also becoming increasingly irrelevant to their masters in the EU and US. And, believe me, the political leaders of these US vassal-states have realized a long time ago that a war between Russia and the Ukraine would be a fantastic opportunity for them to regain some value in the eyes of their imperial overlords in the EU and US. To people who think like these people do, even an attempted Neptune strike against Sevastopol would be a quick and quite reasonable way to force Putin’s hand.
Lastly, we can now look at the situation in Russia

Russia

One would think that following the massive victory the Kremlin has achieved with the vote on the changes to the Russian Constitution, the political situation in Russia would be idyllic, at least compared to the sinking Titanic of the “collective West”. Alas, this is far from being the case. Here are some of the factors which contribute to a potentially dangerous situation inside Russia.
  1. As I have mentioned in the past, besides the “official” (pretend) opposition in the Duma, there are now two very distinct “non-system” oppositions to Putin: the bad old “liberals” (which I sometimes call the 5th column) and the (relatively new) “pink-nationalist” Putin-haters which I christened, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I admit – as a 6th column (Ruslan Ostashko calls them “emo-Marxists“, and that is a very accurate description too). What is so striking is that while Russian 5th and 6th columnists hate each other, they clearly hate Putin even more. Many of them also hate the Russian people because they don’t “get it” (at least in their opinion) and because time and again the people vote with and for Putin. Needless to say, these “5th and 6th columnists” (let’s call them “5&6c” from now on) declare that the election was stolen, that millions of votes were not counted at all, while others were counted many times. According to these 5&6c types, it is literally unthinkable that Putin would get such a high support therefore the only explanation is that the elections were rigged. While the sum total of these 5&6c types is probably not enough to truly threaten Putin or the Russian society, the Kremlin has to be very careful in how it handles these groups, especially since the condition of the Russian society is clearly deteriorating:
  2. Russia has objective, real, problems which cannot simply be dismissed. Most Russians clearly would prefer a much more social and economically active state. The reality is that the current political system in Russia cares little for the “little man”. The way the Kremlin and the Russian “big business” are enmeshed is distressing to a lot of Russians, and I agree with them. Furthermore, while the western sanctions did a great job preparing Russia for the current crisis, it still remains true that Russia does not operate in such a favorable environment, revenues are down in many sectors, and the COVID19 pandemic has also had a devastating effect on Russian small businesses. And while the issue of the COVID19 virus has not been so hopelessly politicized in Russia has it has in the West, a lot of my contacts report to me that many people feel that the Kremlin and the Moscow authorities have mismanaged the crisis. So while the non-systemic opposition of the 5&6c cannot truly threaten Russia, there are enough of what I would call “toxic and potentially dangerous trends” inside the Russian society which could turn into a much bigger threat should a crisis suddenly erupt (including a crisis triggered by an always possible Ukrainian provocation).
  3. More and more Russians, including Putin-supporters, are getting frustrated with what they perceive as being a lame and frankly flaccid Russian foreign policy. This does not necessarily mean that they disagree with the way Putin deals with the big issues (say Crimea, or Syria or the West’s sabre-rattling), but they get especially frustrated by what they perceive as lame Russian responses against petty provocations. For example, the US Congress and the Trump Administration have continued to produce sanctions and stupid accusations against Russia on a quasi-daily basis, yet Russia is really doing nothing much about that, in spite of the fact that there are many options in her political “toolkit” to really make the US pay for that attitude. Another thing which irritates the Russians is that arrogant, condescending and outright rude manner in which western politicians (and their paid for journalists in Russia) constantly intervene in internal Russian matters without ever being seriously called out for this. Sure, some particularly nasty characters (and organization) have been kicked out of Russia, but not nearly enough to really send a clear message Russia’s enemies.
  4. And, just to make things worse, there are some serious problems between Russia and her supposed allies, specifically Belarus and Kazakhstan. Nothing truly critical has happened yet, but the political situation in Belarus is growing worse by the day (courtesy of, on one hand, the inept policies of Lukashenko and, on the other, a resurgence of Kazakh nationalism, apparently with the approval of the central government). Not only is the destabilization of two major Russian allies a bad thing in itself, it also begs the question of how Putin can deal with, say, Turkey or Poland, when Russia can’t even stabilize the situation in Belarus and Kazakhstan.
To a large degree, I share many of these frustrations too and I agree that it is time for Putin and Russia to show a much more proactive posture towards the (eternally hostile) West.
My problem with the 5th column is that it is composed of rabid russophobes who hate their own nation and who are nothing but willing prostitutes to the AngloZionist Empire. They want Russia to become a kind of “another Poland only further East” or something equally insipid and uninspiring.
My problem with the 6th column is that it hates Putin much more than it loves Russia, which is regularly shows by predicting either a coup, or a revolution, or a popular uprising or any other bloody event which Russia simply cannot afford for two main reasons:
  1. Russia almost destroyed herself twice in just the past century: in 1917 and 1991. Each time, the price paid by the Russian people was absolutely horrendous and the Russian nation simply cannot afford another major internal conflict.
  2. Russia is at war against the Empire, and while this war remains roughly an 80% informational/ideological one, about 15% an economic one and only about 5% a kinetic war, it remains that this is a total, existential, war for survival: either the Empire disappears or Russia will. This is therefore a situation where any action which weakens your state, your country and its leader always comes dangerously close to treason.
Right now the biggest blessing for Russia is that neither the 5th nor the 6th column has managed to produce even a halfway credible political figure who at least appears as marginally capable of offering realistic solutions. A number of 5th columnists have decided to emigrate and leave what they see as “Putin’s Mordor”. Alas, I don’t see any stream of 6th columnists leaving Russia, which objectively makes them a much more useful tool for outfits like the CIA who will not hesitate to infiltrate even a putatively anti-US political movement if this can weaken Russia in general, or Putin personally.
Right now the Russian security services are doing a superb job countering all these threats (including the still very real Wahabi terrorist threat) all at the same time. However, considering the rather unstable and even dangerous international political situation, this could change if all the forces who hate Putin and what they call “Putinism” either join forces or simply strike at the same time.

Conclusion

There are, of course, many other potential flashpoints on the planet, including India, Pakistan and China, the South China Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Korean Peninsula and many others. Thus the above is only a sampling of a much larger list.
The huge changes taking place before our eyes are real, and they are huge. But we should not follow the lead of the corporate media and focus on only one or two “hot” topics, especially not when there are plenty of very real dangers out there. This being said, there is no doubt that what will happen in the next couple of months inside the United States is by far the biggest and most important development out there, one which will shape the future of our planet no matter what actually happens. And I am not referring to the totally symbolic non-choice between Biden and Trump.
I am referring to how the US society will deal with a virulently anti-US coalition of minorities which hate this country and everything, good and bad that it stood for in the past. Right now the US elites are committing national suicide by not only failing to oppose, but also by actively supporting the BLM thugs and everything they stand for: BLM & Co. remind me of Ukronazis whose main expression of national identity is to hate everything Russian – the BLM thugs do the same thing: their entire worldview is pure hatred of the hetero White male and the western civilization; and just as the Ukies regale each other with stories about the “ancient Ukrs” the BLM folks imagine that they will somehow turn the US into a type Wakanda before expelling (or worse) all those who are not willing to hand over their country to roaming gangs of illiterate thugs.
While Russia has to face the potential of internal violence, the United States is already facing a dangerous and violent insurrection which is likely to become much worse as the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic fully explodes. So far, the effects of this crisis have been somewhat tempered by a combination of 1) political denials about the nature of the threat (“oh, nonsense, it is just like the seasonal flu!“) 2) the mass distribution of money (which has only helped temporarily) 3) the existence of a huge financial bubble which will only make matters worse, but which temporarily can create the illusion that things are not nearly as bad as they really are.
It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. This is true. It is also true that the collapse of the Empire has now created several vacuums which will be filled by new actors, but there is no guarantee at all that this transition will be peaceful. So while we are watching some very big trees burning, we should not forget that behind these trees there is a big forest which can also burn, possibly creating a much bigger forest fire than the trees we see burning today.

The U.S. Is a Political Prison, Kamala Harris Is a Prison Guard

By Daniel Haiphong
Source

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Harris protects police unions, the courts, and the stakeholders of the mass incarceration state.”

Black Agenda Report and other independent media sources have repeatedly been called “fake news” or “Russian propaganda” by the political gatekeepers of the U.S. empire. Trump has been used as a convenient excuse for the ruling elites to discredit those who tell the truth about the ruthlessness of the system. This became even more evident after journalist Marzieh Hashemi was indefinitely detained for over a week by the U.S. government without any formal charges against her. Last week, I wrote that Hashemi’s incarceration and treatment is a product of the U.S. imperial war on independent journalism. The crime committed against her is also a reminder that the U.S. itself is a political prison.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, the U.S. empire’s most famous political prisoner, was recently granted the right of appeal after the courts ruled that his trial was rife with judicial bias. Several boxes labeled “Mumia” were found in the District Attorney’s office soon afterward, although the boxes reportedly did not possess exculpatory evidence. Despite these positive developments, the fact remains that Mumia Abu-Jamal has been in prison for thirty-seven years for a reason. District Attorney Larry Krasner caved to pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and appealed the favorable ruling on Abu-Jamal’s case. A potential retrial for Abu-Jamal will now be delayed by a time-consuming legal process.

Once again, Mumia Abu-Jamal shows that the U.S. is a political prison from which the police are treated as a protected class. Police officers and their unions occupy a status in society that reigns above the humanity and rights of the people they supposedly “protect and serve.” Police departments murder nearly 1,000 people per year in the U.S. without political or legal consequence. It wasn’t until the Black Lives Matter insurgency arose that police departments began to come under fire for the near daily homicides that they commit against Black Americans. Even then, the Obama Administration and both political parties united to protect the police from federal investigation.

The U.S. political prison has placed 2.3 million people in cages and twice that many under “correctional control.”Forty percent of prisoners and close to fifty percent of those placed in solitary confinement, an internationally recognized form of torture, are Black American. Solitary confinement is the prison state’s weapon of choice when it comes to its political prisoners. Political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier of the American Indian Movement, and Russell Maroon Shoatz of the Black Liberation Army have endured decades upon decades of solitary confinement. New research on solitary confinement indicates that the practice permanently damages the hippocampus structure of the brainand imposes a form of social death onto prisoners.

The conditions faced by U.S. political prisoners reveal the true face of the U.S. political prison. This prison has draped itself in grand narratives of exceptionalism to hide the fact that it is the most repressive and exploitative system in human history. Prisoners in the U.S. represent a disposable class of the poor, mainly the Black poor, whose existence has been relegated to the margins by the nation’s exceptionalist tales. The racist criminalization of Black Americans and the explosive growth of the prison population beginning in the 1980s in the U.S. share both political and economic origins. Economically, the U.S. system of capitalism that sustains the prison fell into a permanent state of overproduction and lost the ability to raise the standard of living for any section of the working class. Politically, Black American resistance was targeted by the state to make way for the imminent neoliberal disaster to come. And out of the ashes of repression, political prison guards such as California Senator Kamala Harris were born.

Kamala Harris announced her bid for the Democratic Party presidential ticket in the upcoming 2020 election on the Martin Luther King holiday. The Howard alum has served as the political prison guard for the U.S. prison regime as District Attorney, Attorney General, and Senator of the California state gulag. Harris has championed herself as “for the people.” What she hasn’t mentioned is that she is for only a certain class of “people” in the U.S. political prison. That class of people includes the police unions, the courts, and the stakeholders of the mass incarceration state.

Under Kamala Harris, California saw an exponential increase in the number of drug convictions. Harris also punished Black families for truancy and appealed a federal judge’s decision to eradicate the death penalty. She has furiously protected the police from prosecution and refused to investigate police officer abuse, violence, and murder perpetrated mainly against poor Black Americans. Harris is a cop for the U.S. political prison, as are most members of the self-serving Black misleadership class. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) voted in favor of the 1033 program that arms police departments with military weaponry from the Department of Defense in 2014 and followed up this vote in 2018 by supporting a federal “Blue Lives Matter” bill.

As part of the CBC, Harris certainly possesses credentials that the ruling classes desire. Not only has Harris played an instrumental role in the mass Black incarceration state, but she has also been paid handsomely to protect the banks. As Attorney General, Harris refused to prosecuteTrump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s former corporation, WestOne, for imposing illegal foreclosures. Mnuchin awarded Harris with a generous contribution to her political campaign in 2016. And if that weren’t enough, Harris is sure to project U.S. imperial interests abroad given her numerous speaking engagements with the powerful Israeli lobby AIPAC and her cozy relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. Harris, in other words, is Obama personified as a self-identified Black woman.

Kamala Harris’ bid to become the commanding prison guard of the U.S. comes amid a crisis within the entire prison system. The U.S. prison economy, capitalism, is in a state of decay and stagnation. Finance capital and high-tech, globalized production has placed downward pressure on wages to make up for the rising costs associated with technological advances. Fewer and fewer jobs are required to maximize profitability. The combination of a growing “surplus army of the unemployed” and low-wages has led to a crisis of overproduction and a fall in the rate of profit that credit and debt cannot relieve, no matter how many millions of Americans are forced into the red. What has ensued is near poverty for eighty percent of the U.S. population and an intensified thirst for austerity on the part of the rich.

Of course, austerity in the U.S. political prison does not apply to the military state. The U.S. spends trillions to fortify its military hegemony worldwide at the expense of the self-determination of oppressed nations. With over 800 military bases around the world and potentially hundreds more uncounted, the U.S. political prison is in possession of the largest military empire in history. As more and more Americans demand policies such as Medicare for All, the U.S. political prison will continue to extend its global military reach without hesitation. This will inevitably mean more destruction and death for the Global South and more austerity and repression for workers and poor Blacks.

Kamala Harris in the 2020 election is vying for Trump’s presidential seat in order to quiet the potential rebellion to come. However, it is quite clear that no relief can be expected from the prison guard Kamala Harris. The Democratic Party apparatus is a legion of prison guards holding Black and other progressive constituencies in political captivity. The best hope for the masses lies in the destruction of the Democratic Party, which can only be realized by another DNC attack on the likes of Bernie Sanders. Expect Kamala Harris to participate in that attack when Sanders finally announces his decision to run if doing so will increase her chances at the nomination. Leftists must avoid falling into the pressure of supporting another Democrat and instead take up the fight to expose those who keep political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal locked up indefinitely. Out of this struggle should come the recognition that the U.S. itself is a political prison which cannot be elected or reformed out of existence.

Hillary Clinton 2020 is Malcolm X’s American Nightmare on Steroids

By Daniel Haiphong
Source

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Clinton’s reemergence is a dangerous reminder of who she really is: a “too big to fail” parasite of finance capital and the war machine.

Black revolutionary Malcolm X famously said that Black America didn’t experience an “American Dream,” only an American nightmare. The so-called American Dream continues to be a nightmare. US imperialism has successfully held Black America in political captivity in the Democratic Party despite the self-proclaimed “lesser evil” party having played a vital role in every ill that befalls Black people. Democratic Administrations have been the architects of the mass incarceration regime in the United States, partners in the world incineration regime known as the U.S. military state, and active participants in the theft of nearly every dollar of Black wealth that existed prior to 1983. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Party’s top sponsor of the American nightmare for Black Americans and she is once again making headlines in an apparent attempt to assert herself in the upcoming Presidential election of 2020.

It may only be 2018, but the divided and increasingly unpopular Democratic Party has been testing the Presidential waters since Clinton lost in 2016. For Black America and all of humanity’s exploited and downtrodden, Clinton’s reemergence is a dangerous reminder of who she really is: a “too big to fail” parasite of finance capital and the war machine. In an interview with The Guardian, Clinton remarked that Europe must “get a handle” on its immigration problem to stop the march of the far right. What Clinton meant was that Europe should further militarize its immigration policy to appease racist Europeans. She, of course, didn’t mention that European imperialism, under the leadership of the United States, is the real culprit in the refugee crisis. To do so would be an admission of guilt, as few others are more responsible for the massive displacement of peoples that has occurred worldwide since 2011 than Hillary Clinton.

It is no secret to most people around the world that the U.S.-NATO invasion of Libya engineered the largest refugee crisis in human history. However, few in the United States remember Clinton cackling to the corporate press “we came, we saw, he died” after U.S.-backed jihadists ruthlessly assassinated Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. What came after the destruction of Libya was anything but laughable. The Obama and Clinton-led U.S.-NATO-Zionist and Gulf state alliance quickly moved on to Syria and, as the Black Alliance for Peace explains, expanded their reign of terror in Africa by way of the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM). Millions of Syrians and Northern Africans from nations such as Mali have been displaced by jihadists armed with imperial military gear and a mission to sow political and economic chaos. As Black Agenda Report Editor Glen Ford stated in 2016, Turkey and Europe have been trafficking humans on a scale not seen since the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Despite this, Clinton stated that she wanted to gift the planet with more refugees in the 2016 election. Clinton called for a no-fly zone in Syria, a code word for a massive bombing campaign that would surely have led to a military confrontation with Russia if carried out.

One must ask why Clinton made her most recent comments about the issue of refugees in lieu of the fact that they seem to invoke memories of her imperial legacy. The comments angered pro-refugee progressives throughout the Western world and for good reason. They are indicative of sheer ruling class arrogance and reveal the extent to which she will expand her big, nasty tent of ruling class deplorables to achieve political ends. The plight of refugees has no seat under this tent. But the far right does; so long as it behaves in sync with the real ruling class, the finance capitalist class, of which Clinton is a VIP member.

The United States has perfected the art of inducing short-term memory loss in most Americans when it comes to matters of history and politics. Thus, it was forgotten that while Clinton may have lost the 2016 elections, she certainly did not lose her influence over the political direction of the imperialist system. Clinton and her allies in the finance capitalist class have continued their tirade through weapons such as Russiagate wielded by the intelligence apparatus and the corporate media. These deplorable forces have aligned with the Trump Administration when it has served the aims of economic and military warfare against Russia and China and the profits of the banks and monopolies. The American Nightmare has continued for most Black Americans and workers generally, half of whom cannot afford an emergency of $500. With the 2020 election fiasco fast emerging, one has to wonder if Clinton hopes to try once again to win the highest seat from which to spread the American Nightmare far and wide.

There are some rumblings from Clinton’s former aid Mark Penn that a third run at the Presidency may be in the cards. Clinton has already announced that she “would like to be President” and continues to shed her racist and imperialist wisdom on issues such as immigration and the death of Washington Post “journalist” Jamal Khashoggi. The Chicago Sun Times wrote a glowing yet superficial endorsement of Clinton for the 2020 nomination, claiming that Clinton possesses the “experience” to defeat Donald Trump. Some corporate outlets such as New York magazine and CNN disagree and would rather try their hand with a new neoliberal imperialist face such as Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, or Beto O’Rourke. The rich white boy wonder of Wall Street O’Rourke has been called the “white Obama” by the 44th President’s former lackies.

Whether Clinton runs or not, she remains an instrumental figure in the ruling class. Her embarrassing defeat to Trump did not cause the ruling elites to disinvest from the Clinton machine. Clinton will have a hand in the 2020 election. Donald Trump will either run against her or another corporate Democrat. Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are ready to carry on her blood soaked, finance capitalist agenda. The nomination of charter school sugar daddy and servant of finance capital Hakeem Jefferies to the Democratic caucus seat is a stark indication that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton-wing of the party has no intentions of supporting even the mildest social democratic agenda like that put out recently by Bernie Sanders.

Currently, the crisis in the Democratic Party is far graver than in the White Man’s Party. Donald Trump can comfortably carry out the deeds of the ruling class while posing as the celebrity President. Trump’s rule has been another chapter in Malcolm’s American Nightmare, but not because Trump is a special case. Trump’s Administration has been consistent in the escalation of imperialist wars by dropping more bombs on Afghanistan in one year than any other President prior. He has cut taxes for the rich and continued the bipartisan consensus of criminalizing immigrants. However, the ruling class will stop at nothing to paint him as a “Russian” regardless of how much his Administration has increased sanctions against Russia and built up the U.S.’ military presence along the Russian border. That’s because under this period of imperialism, the ruling class is not satisfied until the entire planet is swallowed by capital and every vestige of social solidarity and protection is stripped from the people.

Hillary Clinton and the rest of her wing of the Democratic Party is plenty experienced in ravaging the planet and the people, especially Black people. Trump is occupying the highest seat inside of Malcolm’s American Nightmare on steroids, and he isn’t doing it to the liking of the most influential section of the ruling class in Wall Street and the Pentagon. Malcolm’s American Nightmare, then, cannot be transformed in a “resistance” against Trump. The people must be in motion against the entire ruling class and system. Black America has historically led whatever real resistance has arisen to the American Nightmare. And the Democratic Party is the biggest obstacle in the way of ending the nightmare because it keeps Black America in political captivity. The Democratic Party needs the White Man’s Party to keep poor Black Americans and the entire working class chained to the Democratic arm of the imperialist system. Those chains must be broken, as Malcolm X said, “by any means necessary.”

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