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.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

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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